Saturday, November 11, 2017

Faith Not Fear

Supposedly there are enough “Do not be afraid” or “Fear not” scriptures in the Bible to have one for each day of the year.  In our Fall Bible Study, The Quest, Beth Moore reminded us that, “Biblically speaking, fear and faith fight for the same space.  Each is territorial.  Each desires to occupy expansive square footage in the house of your soul.  Any square foot or inch where Fear abides in your life is the precise ground Faith exists to occupy.  Fear and Faith cannot be roommates.  They will not coexist.  The one assigned authority automatically elbows the other off the space.  Fear can’t stand on a carpet of Faith.” 

I saw this truth displayed last week when Larry and I joined Scott and his kids for dinner, while Abby was at a meeting.  It was Princess and Pirate night at Chick-fil-A so it was a fun and lively evening.  Mary and Daniel both waved, spoke to and enjoyed seeing the pirate as we entered.  Since the pirate was wearing a costume, an eye patch, but not a mask, he was safe to acknowledge.  The cow was a different story.  On previous visits, when the cow has been present, Mary would wave to the cow from a distance, but did not want to shake hands, get close to, or speak to the cow.  Even though Daniel would high five and shake hands with the cow when he was younger, he now follows Mary’s lead.  For this special evening the cow was wearing a princess dress.  Surprisingly, when Mary saw the Princess Cow she immediately spoke to her and gave her the first of many hugs for the evening.  Daniel still wanted to have nothing to do with the cow.  He had Scott pick him up until we arrived at the table.  In order to be furthest from the cow as she walked by, Scott sat Daniel closest to the wall.  During the meal, Daniel continually wanted to know the location of the cow.  As we finished our meal, the cow walked by and Mary asked if she could hug the cow again.  Daniel watched, but still wanted nothing to do with the cow, princess dress or not.  When it was time to leave, Daniel bravely held Scott’s hand as we were walking past the cow one last time.  He watched Mary give one more hug.  I watched with interest as Daniel slowly let go of Scott’s hand, stopped and looked, and then took a few steps to stand in front of the cow.  Knowing his daddy was close by, he gently leaned in to hug the cow’s leg.  Realizing what he had done, Daniel had a huge smile on his face.  Larry took pictures of the encounter.   Daniel has already asked to see and show the pictures of when he was brave and hugged the cow.

Every day I have the opportunity to choose faith over fear.  It helps knowing that my heavenly Father is always close by in every situation.  And when my focus is on Jesus, I can be brave and allow my faith to overcome my fear. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
   For you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the LORD your God
   who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
   I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10, 13

He (Jesus) replied, “you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Matthew 8:26

He (Jesus) said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Mark 4:40

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Mark 5:36

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

Saturday, November 4, 2017

2017 World Series Champions - Houston Astros

For the first time in its 56-year franchise, the Houston Astros are the 2017 World Series Champions!  They have earned history.  The past weeks have been exciting ones as baseball teams have competed for the privilege of representing their division in the World Series.  Since the Astros are the American League champions, I have been more interested than usual in the outcome of the games.  The Houston Astros are the only team to win both a National League and American League pennant. 

* Having our home team in the playoffs and World Series was a welcomed gift for the people in Houston
* The playoffs offered a welcomed distraction to the rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey
* Every game is a new beginning.
* Any team can win on any given day
* It takes a season of winning to go to the World Series
* A common goal helps keep things in perspective
* Baseball is not a one man show
* For the best results, all players need to play their position well
* Players listened and took instruction from coaches
* Important to keep your eye on the ball
* Even when hot and tired, show up and play
* Pitchers who pitched more innings than usual to give their all for the team
* Players encouraging fellow players after a disappointing play or at bat
* Baseball players expressed their love of game with teammates, family, friends, and fans
* Players were a team and became family in the process
* Not satisfied with the league pennant, wanted more
* What others predict or comment about your team does not determine the outcome of a game or series
* Players willing to sacrifice for their team and fans, even if it means slamming into a wall to catch the ball
* Didn’t let being tall, average, or short determine whether they could play the game
* Willing to set aside celebrations and extras to be at their best for the next game
* It takes work, discipline, concentration, and sacrifice to make dreams and goals a reality
* The game is not over until the last out
* Never give up
* It’s encouraging to have fans cheering you on, coming to support you, and wanting you to succeed
* Because the players and coaches did their job well, others in our city were encouraged, had renewed energy, and common focus
* The Astros win offers hope that the people of Houston can also come together to rebuild and make a comeback
* Wonderful time to encourage and rejoice with those who rejoice
* Goals were set
* Hard work, discipline, and teamwork were priorities
* Mission accomplished.

What wonderful ways we can also be winners in the game of life.  Batter up!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
I Corinthians 9:24

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:1-4

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 15:5-6

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Believing and Seeing

Two weeks ago, our pastor preached on believing and seeing which brought to mind an experience I had at Hospital Galenia, in Cancun, Mexico, when I went for my stem cell treatments.  I tend to like to see how and why things work before committing to them.  With my medical procedures, I don’t mind being the guinea pig after other guinea pigs have been successful with their treatments.  Thus, it was time for my big step of faith and adventure.

The second day in Cancun I had tests, interviews, and blood drawn at the hospital.  We used the main elevator in the lobby to go to the proper floor for the testing.  The next morning, when we went to the hospital for my first procedure, there were men working on the elevator we had previously taken so we had to ride another elevator.  As we rounded the corner there was a saying that had been painted on the wall.  I was amazed at the message.  We even missed the first ride up because I asked Larry to please stop and take a picture of the quote.  

There were several things that were intriguing about this experience:
* If the elevator had not been “Out of Order” we probably would have never gone to the elevator by the back wall, thus missing the quote.
* The saying was written in English whereas the other quotes around the hospital were in Spanish.
* It seemed that this was a confirmation that it was OK to proceed with the treatments.

After the procedure was finished for the day, the main elevator was back in working order, but I asked Larry if we could please take the one we had ridden on that morning.  I really needed to see if the saying was still on the wall or if God just had it there for me that morning knowing I would need it.  Needless to say, that is the elevator I chose to use for the rest of the treatments at Hospital Galenia.

What a wonderful reminder and lesson in faith.  It’s when I trust and believe that I can truly see and understand.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.
Hebrews 11:1

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
John 11:40

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I Peter 1:8-9

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Inspired, Encouraged, Motivated

This week I have been inspired, encouraged, and motivated by a sign, quotes, stories, and the Sunday Comics.

“Don’t shine so others can see you.  Shine so through you others can see him (God).” – C. S. Lewis

“Let the light inside of you shine brighter than the light that shines on you.” -  Dabo Swinney, Clemson Head Football Coach to his players

Braden Baker is a 10 year old from Fort Worth, Texas.  He was born with a bi-lateral hearing loss, is 75% deaf, and has worn two hearing aids since he was about seven months old.  Recently, his dog “Chewy” ate a second pair of his hearing aids.  Braden’s mother was not pleased and talked to him about responsibility.  She explained that they were fortunate that they could afford to buy another pair of hearing aids, but there are many people who are deaf that cannot afford any hearing aids at all.  That made an impression on Braden and he asked his mother to set up a Go Fund Me account so he could raise money, in order to give the gift of hearing to people who could not afford it.  As of today, Braden has raised more than $43,000.00.  For his 11th birthday, in November, he will fly to Guatemala to help give away hearing aids to children and adults who would not have them otherwise.

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And what I can do, I ought to do.  And what I ought to do, by the grace of God I shall do.”Edward Everett Hale

Steve Kelly and Jeff Parker team up for the comic “Dustin.”  In Sunday’s posting the daughter is telling her dad and brother all the work she has to complete along with some of the problems she is encountering. 
Father:  I’m so sorry that happened sweetheart.
Daughter:  Thanks, Dad.  That means a lot to me.
Brother:  Did you understand a word she said?
Father:  One thing I’ve learned Dustin…you don’t have to understand to be understanding.

With all that is happening in our world, country, city, and neighborhoods, it seems like a good time to let Jesus’ light shine through us, to help those who are in need, and to do our part in understanding and encouraging others.

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2 Corinthians 4:5

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11