Friday, October 14, 2016

Change of Seasons

God in His mercy gave us the wonderful gift of “changing seasons”. I love it that God is a God of variety. The fall season has just begun, at the time of this writing, with its wide range of variances. The hot sticky ‘dog days’ of August have slowly morphed into the cool relaxing days of autumn, with its chilly nights. It can be fascinating, if you enjoy the cooler weather.

As I drive along Highway 66 in Oklahoma, on each side of the street, most of the trees have turned from their soothing jade and forest green shades to bright orange, brown, red and yellow. People have set out scarecrows, pumpkins and decorated their properties in the most morbid fashions, in anticipation of the Halloween celebration. Yet, in spite of the morbidity, I enjoy the vast array of changing trees.

Soon these cool autumn days, filled with brilliant color, will soon turn to frigid temperatures and falling snow, ushering in the last seasonal change of the year, along with the most popular holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The thought of this season, brings me to my life lesson for today.

In life, we each pass through seasons. The first is the spring season, from birth to our late teens, when we go through the planting stage, picking up all kinds of seeds for our garden; unsure of the best seeds to plant and thereby picking up some thorns and thistles along the journey.

Then we move into the summer season; those hot twenties and thirties, when we’ve gotten old enough to make legal, all of the many things we thought about doing in our adolescent and teenage years; when the first harvest of our spring planting blossom and bring forth the fruits of our spring choosing.

Next, are the autumn years forties through the sixties; those years when you come to realize that some of the choices of your spring planting were not the wisest. You realize that the summer crop, although not all bad, can afford some tweaking; and you realize that you still have time to plant another crop, the winter crop. You know that the frost will surely fall upon it; however, it will make the seeds planted taste so much better at the harvest.

Now that the seventies and beyond have found their way upon you, those precious winter years, you learn to enjoy them the most. Why, they possess the two greatest holidays of the year, Thanksgiving for the years you’ve seen and the experiences you’ve had; plus the Yuletide season with its bountiful decorations, the smell of the log fire and the roasting nuts and marshmallows; the sleigh rides, the well wishes and the scrumptious food. Ummm! Then there is the gift of grandchildren, with whom you can play and enjoy – then box them up again and stash them with their parents, until you’re ready to play with them again.

Ahhh! The seasons of the year; the seasons of life; the joy and wonder of a heavenly Father who loves us; what more can you ask? Whoo-hoo!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ultimate Winners!

Everyone likes to win, even if you are not competitive by nature. No one wants to be called a ‘loser’! Being called a loser is insulting, demeaning and downright mean! However, not everyone knows how to win. They don’t know how to become the Ultimate Winner, and thereby, NEVER be surpassed.

If you talk to the average American, and ask him/her what it means to win, you will probably get answers like: “Getting the most points in a contest”, “Stomping the opposition”, “Being the first one out of the gate and never looking back”, or “Being  number one (#1)”. In each of these answers, the winner is the one that comes out on top, without any equivocation.

Today, my husband and I were studying some Scriptures together, during our daily devotion.  We ran across a Scripture that I declared to my husband, was the first Scripture anyone had presented to me, as a challenge to explain, after I had given my heart to Christ, as a teenager. I didn’t know how to answer that grown man, who was a deacon in the church and had been studying his Bible for some 30 + years. I stammered in my explanation, but it placed a fire under me, which I refused to let go; one that is still burning intently in my heart. I determined to get the answer/understanding to that Scripture, and vowed to so study my Bible that I would never be stumped again. Well, that’s not happened, but at least I know now how to tell people, ‘let me get the answer and get back to you’. Lol
Well the Scripture, to which I am referring, tells us how we can become Ultimate Winners; it is found in Hebrews 2:14-15.

Now that you’ve clicked on the link and read it, allow me to share with you, what I have taken away from that Scripture. Paul, the author of Hebrews, tells us that Jesus, the Son of God, One who is God, Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1-3; 14:  took upon Himself flesh and blood, just like we have, when He consented to be born of the Virgin Mary and become the one who would “…save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21.

This same Jesus did that, so that He could live a perfect life (one without sin)  Hebrews 4:15, then die as a man (God cannot die) Matthew 27:45-51; be resurrected from the dead Matthew 28:1-7; show the devil that he has NO power over death anymore; and thereby gain the right to destroy him and to deliver Hebrews 2:14-15  ANYONE and EVERYONE, who was willing to believe that Jesus (Yashua) is the Christ, the Messiah, for whom the world was waiting; thereby becoming the Ultimate Winner, so that He could give His position of winning to those who believed II Corinthians 5:21!

Therefore, today’s life lesson is this: Do not hold yourself to the world’s standards and allow them to determine whether or not you are a winner; they are too low. Whatever is won in this life, while on earth, is temporary; it will one day pass away; burned up II Peter 3:10 ; but those who choose Jesus, as their Lord and Savior, will live throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity and they will not have any of the negativity of this world to encroach upon them Revelation 21:1-5; they will NEVER BE SURPASSED! Whoo-hoo! Go Jesus!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Choose Carefully - Wisely

Several years ago, Charles Barkley, a professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers, was widely criticized when he said that he didn’t want to be a ‘role model’ for youngsters. He thought that a child’s ‘role model’ should be their parents. And I must agree with Charles on this issue. He was definitely NOT a ‘role model’ in character that I would have wanted my son to follow, if I’d had a son; in skills perhaps, but that would be the extent of it.

Charles, so much like many of our ‘star athletes’, are admittedly promiscuous, many have unhealthful habits, usually during their off-seasons, and unfortunately, several have been brought up on charges for domestic abuse; not good ‘role model’ material. Since the time of Dennis Rodman, an excellent power forward for the Chicago Bulls, who won the National Basketball Championship seven times in the 1990’s, nearly every other ball player, in any sport, now ‘sports’ tattoos all over their beautiful bodies, much like he did.

Now, please don’t think that I’m bashing ballplayers, or trying to put down anyone for their lifestyles. Each person has the absolute right to choose how he or she will live. God gave mankind that inalienable right of ‘free will’ or ‘free choice’, from the very beginning, which is why mankind was able to reject God and get away with it.  I totally uphold their right, to choose whatever lifestyle they wish. I also uphold the right of any parent or child to choose the role model that best represents what he or she wishes to become in life.

However, let us give diligent thought to what we are truly embracing, when we seek to follow after someone, whom we wish to have as a role model. It goes beyond choosing their vocation or choosing their work ethics; it means choosing their lifestyle, choosing their mannerisms, choosing their belief system, choosing their passion for life, choosing their demeanor and so much more. One makes one’s self a ‘disciple’ of their choice for a role model, with the anticipation of receiving, in turn, similar rewards as the one chosen. It is far, far more serious than many realize.
As a youngster, I had pseudo role models, who taught me drama and fashion. I don’t know that I much appreciate the first one now, and the second one has gotten me into financial trouble. Although I know that it is natural for young people to look up to their seniors, my prayer is that in their choosing those seniors to admire, someone close to them will help to guide them to choose carefully and wisely; their entire future could very well ride upon it.

Therefore, my life lesson for today is this: As adults, people who have seen some of the pitfalls of life and have managed to either avoid them or learned how to get out of them, please help your youth (i.e. any over whom you have influence) to choose wisely those persons that they wish to follow.

One of my favorite role models is a man mentioned in Scripture; his name is Simon of Cyrene. Mark 15:21. This man had heard of Jesus. His two sons Rufus and Alexander were disciples of Jesus, but he had not gotten there yet, to discipleship that is. But when he literally came face to face with Jesus and saw the quiet, Godlike demeanor which accompanied Him, even though He was being severely mocked and derided as He fell beneath that roughly hewn rugged cross, Simon’s heart broke and he was filled with compassion. And although he was ‘voluntold’ into the service of carrying Christ’s cross, he counted it a privilege.

Simon was a strong man of color (Black), strong in body and in mind;  he was one who was careful, with regard to where he would place his compassion and belief. He could have drawn back from the task of cross-carrying, I’m sure that many others had; but he would not. The things which he had heard about this ‘man’ Christ – about His miracles – about His compassion for others – about His character and lifestyle, all proved true, for it was apparent in Christ’s demeanor.  

Therefore, as Simon chose Christ that day, he chose his demeanor, which confirmed all that he had heard about the positivity of Christ’s life, and was willing to choose His end, if need be, for beyond the ‘apparent end’ lay an awesome future. Consequently, I choose Simon – I choose Christ.