Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christmas in February

These past six weeks, the ladies in our Bible Study have seen God at work in some amazing ways.  The first week of this Winter Bible Study, we had a lady come for the first time.  Within a few minutes, she shared that she had chosen to be a follower of Jesus just two months earlier and wanted to learn more.  After checking to see if she needed a Bible, she told us that the friend who introduced her to Jesus had given her one.  God began blessing and challenging us through our new friend’s enthusiasm and delight in the Lord.  When our leader called to see if she had any questions about the homework for the week, she found out that our friend had already finished the lessons because she was so eager to be in God’s Word.

The second week, we met in small groups to discuss the homework from the previous week.  Because of our new friend’s response to one of the questions, other questions of interest were asked to her by members of our group.  We found out that, due to unforeseen circumstances, she had moved from another state with just her car, pets, and a few belongings.  She needed to wait until the end of February to get on her feet and move into her apartment so in the meantime she was staying with a friend.  If we had rushed past the initial question, on to the next one, we might have missed an opportunity to learn of our friend’s needs.

As the weeks progressed, one of our Bible Study members mentioned that she was in the process of combining three homes worth of belongings.  She had some furniture and kitchen items and other things she would love to give our friend.  After asking her to make a list of what she needed, others stepped up with things they would donate.  Since the other ladies also wanted to give, we decided to have a surprise shower with additional needed items as well as gift cards.  We knew we would not get everything, but it would definitely give her a head start.  This past week, we could hardly wait to get to Bible Study and surprise our friend with her gifts.  It was like Christmas in February.

Last week, Larry and I met with a friend for an hour after I finished Bible Study.  At the end of the time, Larry asked if I wanted him to check and see if they were still serving lunch at the church.  I usually go home to eat, but due to the later time I welcomed eating there.  At the end of lunch, a lady came and asked Larry if he knew anyone who could use some bedroom furniture that she wanted to give away.  I immediately thought of our friend.  Because we were late in going to eat, we happened to be there at the time that the request was made.  Otherwise, Larry would have eaten earlier and been gone by that time.

With all the furniture and other items being stored, our friend needed help moving to the apartment.  After contacting Deacon Jim, he sent out a request and had four fellow deacons volunteer to go to the places where the furniture was stored and move it.  One deacon even took his young son to help in the process.

What one person could not have easily done, God used a team of his children to joyfully accomplish together.  There were sweet blessings that came from asking additional questions to a response and not rushing just to make sure that all the questions were answered for the lessons for the week.  Even a delayed lunch reaped more than one benefit.  And what a beautiful picture of deacons serving others along with a young boy being taught firsthand the blessing of giving and helping.

“Father, teach us to be quick to see and listen with a heart like yours and then to respond.”

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:35

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
I Corinthians 2:12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. 
Proverbs 22:6 

Friday, February 20, 2015


Whether it’s for a holiday, wedding, graduation, vacation, party, or reunion, preparation is needed to help ensure an enjoyable, meaningful, and successful outcome.  Knowing the purpose and goals, giving attention to detail, having a time schedule and checklist, and communication are important ways to plan and prepare.

Ash Wednesday began the 40 days, not including Sundays, of preparation for Easter.  It is a day that drew our attention to the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.  These days of Lent can be important ones as we spend time in introspection, prayer, fasting, and preparation.  Some choose to do without something during the season of Lent as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  I am in the process of learning that it’s not just the giving up something that matters most, but also what I choose to do in its place or during that time period that can make a difference.  My focus should not constantly be on what I am giving up, but rather on Jesus.  With gratitude, this year I am also purposely adding something to these days that I should be doing, in hopes of it continuing on after the celebration of Holy Week.

Easter’s coming!  It’s time to prepare, get ready, remember, and share the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross, His burial, and the power of His resurrection, and to thank God for His provision.  And may we learn to live in preparation for Easter all year long.

Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
    a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Psalm 51:16-17

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day

The observance of Valentine’s Day dates back to the 5th century as people remembered and honored the Christian martyr, Saint Valentinus of Rome.  Through the years, February 14 has become a day where people intentionally express love with the giving of candy, cards, flowers, and gifts.  Since the 19th century, the production of cards has more often than not taken the place of handwritten declarations of love.

Long before St. Valentine, Scripture proclaims over and over again that God loves us, we are the apple of His eye and He rejoices over us with singing.  Because of His great love for us, He sent His Son to become the sacrifice for our sins.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior we become God’s child.  And as dearly loved children, Jesus reminds us of the importance of loving God with all of our being and loving others as well.  In response to that great love, may every day be Valentine’s Day as we take those commandments to heart and implement them 365 days of the year with our written and spoken words, actions, reactions, and deeds.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
I John 4:9-12

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
I John 3:1a

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—t0hat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17b-19

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-39

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:12 

Do everything in love. 
I Corinthians 16:14 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Boston, Massachusetts had more snow the last week of January, 2015 than at any other time since meteorologists began keeping records in 1891.  The pictures have been beautiful, but I’m sure it is quite a job to shovel sidewalks, driveways, streets, and to travel safely.  Because of the amount of snow, a travel ban kept cars off of the major roads, including Boylston Street which sports the finish line for the Boston Marathon.

With more than two feet of snow on the ground, and more falling, schools were closed along with several businesses.  The people manning the snowplows had more than enough work to keep them busy.  It seemed that as soon as one road was cleared and they moved to another one that the first street was covered in snow again.  Thus, it was no surprise that the street and sidewalk in front of the business where Chris Laudani works was again covered in snow.  As he shoveled off the walkway, he noticed a lady looking for the “Finish Line” for the Boston Marathon Race.  Chris immediately began shoveling the snow and didn’t stop until the entire yellow and blue pavement was in plain view.  When questioned by a reporter from WCVB, Chris commented, “It’s very special to me and to the city, and I didn’t think it deserved to be covered under all that snow.”  That place is Laudani’s “favorite spot in the city” and the day of the race his “favorite day of the year.”  He has completed the 26.2 mile race five times, including the 2013 race when two bombs were set off just a few feet from the finish line.

The Boston Marathon Finish Line is repainted every year in preparation for the race and then left for people to view all year long.  It has become a symbol for Boston Strong and love for the city.

And because Jesus is very special to me, I, too, need to be diligent about shoveling away the things that tend to cover Him up in my life.  And when the big storms in life come, I’m grateful for the snowplows (people and situations) God provides to help me continue to see and travel His path.  Today and every day may Jesus be visible for all to see.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:2

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I Corinthians 6:19-20