Saturday, April 30, 2016

Perseverance, Patience, and Help

We recently attended the birthday party for our great nephew, Josiah.  The younger of two boys, at three years of age, he is independent and willing to do and try things by himself.  After opening gifts, Josiah wanted to begin playing with some of his new toys.  The largest toy, which seemed to be in a childproof and adultproof box, was what he chose to open first.  Try as he might, he was not having success in releasing the toy.  His dad and others offered to help, but Josiah wanted to do it himself.  When he couldn’t get the toy out of the box, he moved on to another toy.  Then with great patience, he would return to the larger toy and try again.  He was again offered help, but declined and went for another toy.  Time and again, he would patiently and persistently return to the big gift.  Josiah’s determination and willingness to not give up were admirable.  After a length of time, he finally accepted help to remove the toy from the box and was able to play with it.

What a vivid picture of the importance of patience and perseverance.  I, too, need to be willing to patiently persevere with the task at hand.  When it’s difficult, I may need to take a break and come back to it later, even if it takes several tries.  This situation also caused me to pause and ponder how many times I delay my Heavenly Father’s help and blessings because I try to do things on my own instead of asking for and accepting His help. 

The lessons have been taught, modeled, and seen.  Now it’s time to take them to heart and put them into action.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:9-12

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11:28

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
John 14:23 

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 
I John 2:5

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Focused Attention

A few days after our granddaughter Ryen’s 2nd birthday she announced that her next birthday party was going to be Minnie Mouse.  Throughout the year, when she would see clothing, stickers, books, or pictures of Minnie, Ryen was quick to remember and talk about the theme of her party.  Cupcakes and balloons were to be the treats and décor.  Throughout the year, she never wavered about her desire for a Minnie Mouse celebration for her birthday.  Even when making and decorating cookies in their play kitchen, Minnie Mouse was the decoration on the cookies.

When Cousin Sarah went to Disney World for her birthday, she sent Ryen a picture of the “Real Minnie Mouse.”   As she looked at the picture on her daddy’s phone, Ryen was speechless.  But the silence soon turned to squeals of glee and jumping around in excitement.

As the preparation for the party continued, Minnie Mouse was the choice for the plates, napkins, balloons, and cupcakes.  Chad cut out Minnie Mouse ears out of wood, painted them along with a bow, and attached the ears to the fort for the Minnie Mouse Boutique.  (Older brother David was assured that the ears and Minnie Mouse banner that was sewn would not be permanent fixtures for the fort.)

The night before her party, Ryen wore her Minnie Mouse pajamas.  As she was getting ready for bed, we talked about her birthday party the next day.  Ryen shook with delight that the party was finally here.  The next morning, the Minnie Mouse tutu and bow were Ryen’s choice of dress for the long awaited celebration.  The party did not disappoint.

 These past weeks, I’ve wondered what my life would look like if my focused attention was consistently on Jesus like Ryen’s has been on Minnie Mouse.  I know He would be pleased that…

…I looked for ways He was at work at home, school, in the neighborhood, at church, and in our community
…my desire was to excitedly talk about Him when the opportunity arose
…sometimes I stood in awe of feeling His presence and seeing Him work
…I “dressed” the part of a Christ follower in my thoughts, actions, reactions, words, and deeds so that people saw a lover of Jesus when they looked at me
…when I saw Him at work, I joined in the “party”
…my mind’s attention and heart’s affections were always on Him 

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12:1-2 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 
Psalm 34:8

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lessons from a House for Sale

We are in the process of selling our house, in hopes of buying a one-story.  There have already been lessons along the way.

* You only have one chance at a good first impression.
* So the house can be viewed at any time, it is important to keep everything in its place.
* We have collected lots of things and memories in the 18 years we have lived in our home.
* Treasures from past years are not necessarily things we need to keep now.
* It’s been interesting to see what the boys still want to keep, what they want to give away, and what they no longer want.
* It’s easier to give away things, that we no longer need, when it is going to someone who needs it.
* Even though it was suggested that we pack away personal pictures and items, it does not take away from the memories.
* Having the blinds open and the lights on exposes either the cleanliness or the dirt.
* It takes effort to keep the clutter away.
* You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.
* People can schedule to visit at any time.
* It’s the people that make a house a home, which was evidenced when all five grandkids came to play on Friday. 

It’s also important to make sure that I keep the clutter cleaned out of my life daily so that it doesn’t build up and cause me to need a major cleaning.  Since we don’t know when Jesus will return, we need to stay ready and make sure the treasures we are accumulating are ones with eternal value.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6:19-20

 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Matthew 13:52

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:13

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Working as a Team

From the first day of the March Madness Basketball Tournament on, there were major upsets, surprise come from behind games, and unexpected winners.  Several games ended with close scores while a few were won by a large spread of points.  The men’s final championship game, between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels,  lived up to its expectations.  The score went back and forth, with the Wildcats being behind by 10 points towards the end of the game.  But at 4.7 seconds the game was tied.  On that play, Daniel Ochefu, of Villanova, had gone down on the play and the floor was wet from sweat.  Ochefu knew that the wet place on the floor was a spot that could be crucial for one of the last plays during regulation time.  He asked that the floor be mopped up.  The boy came from the sidelines to do it, but Daniel could see that he didn’t know exactly where to clean the floor.  Remembering his coach’s comment, “Be the best street sweeper you can be,” he took the mop from the boy and pushed it back and forth over the spot several times to make sure it was dry.

With 4.7 seconds to play, the ball was passed to Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono to take to the basket.  With players all around him, expecting him to be the one to shoot, Ryan heard Kris Jenkins scream to him that he was open.  Arcidiacono flipped the ball back to Jenkins, who got in position, shot the three-pointer, and scored.  Villanova took the game 77-74, its first National Championship in 31 years.

According to the Villanova players, teamwork is what their team is all about.  The Wildcats had four players that scored in double figures, as well as another three who added points.  There was not a single player who dominated the game.  Phil Booth said, “We trust each other.  We believe in each other.”

When interviewed after the game, Kris Jenkins stated, “I knew it was going in.  My teammates set me up perfectly.”  Eamonn Brennan, an ESPN staff writer summed the game up beautifully.  “Because that’s the way it works at Villanova.  One guy got to be the hero because two others decided they didn’t need to be the hero.  They could just be good street sweepers.”

And that’s the way it is in life.  We are better when we work together as a team, when everyone does their part.  Sometimes it’s our turn to sweep.  Other times we willingly give up our shining moment to allow someone else to have theirs.  And sometimes, we are the one who is entrusted with the task at hand.  Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 3 that there are times when one plants and another is chosen to water the seed.  But it is God who makes the plant grow.  Whatever there is to do, may we be available and willing. 
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
I Corinthians 3:6

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:4-8