The Weigh In

We went out to dinner last night at one of my favorite restaurants. I over indulged – big time. I usually do when we go to this place. There were multiple reasons last night. The usual reason – I just love the food – was front runner. The bread is beyond fantastic, the soup is amazing, and the entree, which we split, is always too good to leave left overs. I was seriously so full I thought I was going to bust. The other reason I ate so much (or so I believe) was that I am an emotional eater. At first, I was good. Limit the bread. Half the soup. Don’t eat all the entree. But then, I got the call. My favorite and beloved elder, Brother George, had passed away. The indulgence began.

This morning, I was paying the price. My stomach was hurting. I still felt nauseous. I felt gross. “OOOOHHHHH, why did I eat so much?”, I called out. Then, there was a drop in my spirit.

There are people who are Spiritual Bread Overeaters. They enjoy their food.  They soak it in, they are at every service, they are at every event. They fill up on the word of God.But you never see them serving anyone – anywhere.  Then there are those who are emotional Spiritual Bread Overeaters. They buzz from church to church, revival service to revival service, filling up. They want to go where they can “feel” God. If they get upset, or offended, they leave just as quickly as they showed up. They are constantly searching for the next “big move”. They know all the scripture, they know all the lingo. They are super full of it all.

These “Spiritual Bread Overeaters” eat and eat and eat, but they NEVER give out. The word says  in Luke  47-51“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.” This Is JESUS speaking. “The Bread that I present to the WORLD . . .” – to the WORLD.  Before Jesus went to heaven his last command was to  “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.” (Matthew 16:16). He commissioned the disciples, which we are now, to tell the WORLD. We are to receive from him, hear his word, live in his goodness. Then we are to tell others about him and how awesome he is. We are not supposed to stuff ourselves full of his goodness and never tell anyone else about it! We should NOT be “Spiritual Bread Overeaters”! Whether it’s just because we enjoy the food, or because we are emotional eaters, we can not hoard his gifts. We have to SHARE his goodness (Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good”) with others!

So, I challenge you, take a look at your life. Are YOU a “Spiritual Bread Overeater”? If so, step up to the commission and lose some of your weight, so that you can be filled again!

Flies do What?!?

  1. In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. That’s where the phrase, “goodnight, sleep tight” came from.
  2. The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Uses every letter in the alphabet.
    (developed by Western Union to test telex/twx communications.)
  3. There are 240 white dots in a Pacman arcade game.
  4. The housefly hums in the middle octave, key of F.
  5. Dublin is home of the Fairy Investigation Society.
  6. A Giraffe can clean it’s ears with it’s tongue.
  7. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
  8. A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
  9. In Charlotte, North Carolina, women must have their bodies covered by at least 16 yards of cloth at all times.
  10. In Asheville,North Carolina, it is illegal to sneeze on city streets.

Who Do You Bank With?

I once heard that everyone in your life either deposits or withdrawls from your life. Some people do both. You have to be careful about who you allow to “bank” in your life.

One of the precious elders at my church is currently in the hospital with doctors questioning how much longer he will be alive. He is MY Brother George. YEARS ago (like 13) he just caught my eye. Something about him just made me smile. He was such a cute old man! Tall and lanky, with a smile that could light up a room, he would walk down the aisle speaking and shaking hands with everyone. I told my mom about this elder who had caught my eye and how I felt drawn to him. She encouraged me to speak to him, to let him know. Which, I did. I told him that he was one of my favorite elders to see, and from that moment on he was my adopted grandpa. We spoke every Sunday and Wednesday, I never missed an opportunity to speak to him and give him a hug. He always made sure he complimented me or gave me a word of encouragement. When my kids were born, he would tell me to cherish every moment. He told me stories of how he rocked his own child to sleep after he would get off of the night shift. In my mind I could see him – tired from a long night at work – holding a tiny bundle, no doubt telling a funny story or speaking about the amazing things he imagined that she would do.

He grew close to my entire family. I don’t know much about his family. It was not a conversation piece. But, my sisters, brother and I made sure we poured into his life. He cut down trees late in life, which meant an accident or two. We were there to “fuss” at him about being careful. When he would look weary, we made sure we talked to him and encouraged him. He would get upset if we missed more than one Sunday morning, and he expected to know why we weren’t there. Never failing to hug my shoulders or play with the “baby” (Judah, now 4) he was, and is, a pillar in my life.

Being at the hospital today, my heart ached and the tears flowed freely. He didn’t look sick. He wasn’t frail. He just looked like a grandpa, sleeping. As I talked to him, he would smile, and I knew he could hear me. I made sure I told him I loved him and how special he was to me. He is MY brother George. He deposited more into my life in one Sunday than most people do in years. He made me smile. He made me think. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved. He taught me about strength. He taught me about faith. He taught me about joy. He taught me about depositing.

I am believing he is going to pull through this. I am believing that the next time I see him he’ll be smiling, eyes just glistening, and he’ll laugh. I’ll tell him he needs to hurry up and get back to church, that the kids are missing him. He’ll tell me he’s trying and do his laugh/sigh and clap his hands like he always does when he is being silly. When he does get back, I’m gonna tell him I wrote a story about this amazing man, who stood as tall as the trees he would climb and chop down. Whose shoulders were so wide they looked like they could carry the weight of YOUR world on them. A man who has a smile that chases away rain clouds. A man who has no clue what an awesome influence he is in my life. A man named Brother George.

Faint-Heart, What Got Into You?

Tonight I went to the movies with my sister in laws. The movie was hilarious, the company was amazing. Afterwards, I began a conversation with one of the girls. I expressed this deep fear I have about where my life is at right now. Not that I am slipping into depression or “back sliding” or anything like that, but just this HUGE uncertainty about my future. Anyways, my sister in law was saying how her pastor did a message and he was saying “who told you that you couldn’t? Who told you that you wouldn’t?” She was just encouraging me and saying how one day I would be reminiscing on our conversation and that God had proved he had it under control. My current situation has millions of paths to take, not a single one of them being clear cut. To be honest, I had talked to a friend just yesterday who said “The good thing is that you are not having to choose the lesser of 3 evils, but instead choosing the greater of three opportunities!” Oh, how those words were welded onto my heart. Yes, they are opportunities, but with the opportunities come the chance of failure. Will this be right for my family? Will it be good for me? Is it where God wants me? Uncertainty is like an ocean in my life right now. There is a storm of possibilities. The questions my mind are presenting are like waves. Yet, I know God will provide an answer. My whole conversation made me think of the story of Jesus walking on water. I have seen him in my life and I have asked “Is it really you?” The answer is “Yes. Come to me.” I started that path. I got out of the boat. I believed. I was certain. But, I think the waves have caused me to question. Question the direction. Question the path. Should I go back to the boat? THAT swim would be horrible! Because without my faith (which I feel is like looking into Jesus’ eyes) I will sink. Going back to the boat would consist of me swimming. No doubt I’d get there, but I would be very tired and weary. Have I lost that faith? If I have, I’m not going back to the boat. My cry is “Jesus!” And I KNOW he is close enough to reach out his hand and lift me back up. So, I’m on my way up. When I get back on top of the water, watch out! Me and Jesus, we’re gonna rock your world!

Matthew 14 (The Message)

22-23As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

32-33The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

Manual

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a three year old preschool teacher. My days are filled with laughter and tears, rambunctious play and sweet quiet nap time, and LOTS of silly moments. After a particularly funny day, I wrote this little “manual”. If you have a preschooler or even know one, hopefully this will enlighten you, make you laugh or make you say “yep, that’s the truth”!

Sharing:

I know you just picked it up, but I want it and if you don’t give it to me, you’re not “sharing”‘.

Sharing is when you give what you don’t WANT to play with.

If I tell you to share and you don’t give me what I want, I’m not you’re best friend anymore.

Rules of engagement:

If you lay it down for more than 2 seconds, you are no longer – technically – playing with it. Therefore, I can now have it.

If I have 3 long legos and you only have one, I don’t have to even it out. You’re fine with your one.

If I am first to my play area, and I grab all the “good” dinosaurs, you are just out of luck. You should have been listening so you could have been picked first.

Just because you TELL me to give you my toy, it doesn’t mean I have to.

AND, if this BOTHERS you, then you’re not my best friend anymore!

Playing:

If it is a rectangle, thin and can be carried, it is a cell phone. Period.

We both can’t be the same Super Hero, cartoon character, animal, musician, ect. Unless, we are different colors (ie. “Black Spiderman, Red Spiderman, ect.) then it’s okay.

The teachers said we couldn’t play guns, however, we can have lasers. Lasers are not guns. AND, if we use our hands the right way, we can always just say we were spraying web!

There are those who lead and those who follow. I’m the leader.

If I’m the leader and you leave me, I’m not you’re best friend anymore.

Where are the Guts?

It’s what’s on the inside that counts. That’s what we’ve always heard. But what happens when the inside doesn’t produce anything on the outside?

I read an article last night that really put an imprint on my brain. It talked about complacency and how easy it is to be in that spot. The example he gave was of a cars salesman. This car salesman was from a long line of car salesman. His dad was one, as well as his grandfather. He found it easy to talk the talk. It was easy to spout off numbers and to wheel and deal. But in the end, he couldn’t sell a car. His talk was good, but his walk was not.

The author proceeded to liken that to our Christian walk. What he said really hit home. His ending statement was “You can be a car salesman all your life, but if you don’t sell any cars, you are not REALLY a car SALESMAN.”

I started thinking about all the things we can be complacent in. Church in general can be a place of complacency. Some people stay at a church because it’s their family church, not because they are being fed. Others may stay at a church because they like that they don’t HAVE to do anything. Some stay because it’s all they’ve ever known even though they leave feeling unfulfilled, unhappy, the same as when they got there, or even worse – depressed.  The truth is, we should be at a church that meets our needs. One that pushes us, protects us, leads us, and uses us. Jesus did that to his disciples everyday. His disciples were being trained to go out into the world! Jesus wasn’t going to be there forever, he knew it, they knew it, and he wanted them to be prepared.

He spoke of  trees and vines and of their fruits. He spoke of how a tree is judged by it’s fruit. A maple tree can be called an apple tree, until it is seen to not produce apples. The same way you can mistake an orange tree for an apple tree until the blossoms turn into actual fruit. Just because you can spout our Bible verses, doesn’t make you a preacher. Just because you sing, doesn’t make you a worshiper.Just because you have a lot of book knowledge, doesn’t make you a teacher. It is the fruits of your labor that prove what you are.

This applies to everyday life as well. In your job, in your home life, in your family. What are your fruits in these aspects? Are you progressing in your job? Is your marriage joyful and loving? Do others see God in it? Are your kids growing and flourishing? When people see you they may see someone put together – good job, beautiful/handsome spouse, well behaved children . . . But, when they get to REALLY know you, what do they see? Do they see a hard worker who seeks to know more about their company? Do they see a spouse who steps in when it’s messy, or who gives something up for the other, or who finds simple ways to say and show their love? Do they see children who are grounded in the word, who KNOW who God is and who exude that?

Not everyone is perfect, I know. I am the furtherest from perfect as anyone I know. I slip up. I have days that I just want to stay in bed. I have days when I don’t feel like praying. I struggle with my own personal issues. BUT, I do not stay there. I have to move on. Covering it up and pretending it’s not there or that it will just go away will not work.

We did a skit one year about being a car. The ending statement was “just because you’re in a garage, doesn’t mean you are a car.” How true is that? We can walk around and tell ourselves we are one thing, yet we act like another. This just enables our complacency! Why change? Why say you’re wrong? Why cause a “stir”? Instead we sit and keep pretending and living a lie.

My challenge to you is to examine your life. Every aspect. Examine your church life, your family life, your spiritual life. Ask God if you are complacent. Ask him to reveal to you any complacency and be WILLING to change. He will rock your world!

Matthew 7:16(NIV) By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:15 (The Message) Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

Matt 12:33(NIV) “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matt. 12:33(The Message)“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.34-37“You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Did You Wash Your Hands?

I have been pondering lately “realness”. Being real. Being who and what GOD called you to be. Now, every once in a while, we can get confused with who we are and what we are called to be. We let influences of others and influences of life structure our decisions; structure our life.

As a “youth leader”, I have told countless kids to not worry about what others thought.Be who you are in Christ. HE will shine through, and that is what matters the most. That has been my stand for years. I guess because I struggled so much with self confidence and self love, it was almost like a mission for me to make sure they knew.

As of late, it has come to my attention that no matter how old you get, people are gonna talk about you and judge you. They are gonna pick out the smallest things to criticize, and they will blow them up as big as others will let them. People, even you and I, have preferences – have annoyances, have likes and dislikes. We voice them, it is our God given right – freedom of speech.

The thing is, our words (our opinions/preferences) can cut or build up. They can deposit in ones life, or with drawl. It is the cuts and with drawls that destroy. They can destroy a spirit, a heart,a dream – even a life.

As a Christian, I should be staining to watch what I say and how I say it. It is NOT my place to say “Because you look a certain way God can’t possibly move through you.” Or, a “nicer” way (but still equally as judgmental) is “I just don’t think your style is necessarily what we need.” The heart is saying “In my opinion, you are not good enough. You have to look like I think you should like. You have to act the way I think you should act. You can only be used in a church position if you fit my criteria.” What kind of representation of God is that? Jesus used fishermen, tax collectors and farmers as disciples. Not the “holy men” of the church. He used the woman at the well to teach about his unending love and mercy. He used a woman who was marked “unclean” due to a hemorrhage to demonstrate healing and persistence. He used a woman caught in the act – CAUGHT IN THE ACT – to show his mercy and how no matter what your station in life, he would rescue you. Now, I know he changed their hearts and no doubt their actions, but I’m sure he didn’t tell them they couldn’t LOOK a certain way. It was their INSIDE he was worried about. He wanted his disciples to teach about God’s love, his forgiveness, his provision, his desire for people to find him, love him, live for him and teach others the same. How then is taking your preferences and setting them as a standard for ministry ANYTHING close to a model of God’s love? It’s not. Just because someone may have a tattoo, a piercing, or multiples of either of those, does NOT mean God is not working or cannot work through them.

In Matthew 15, the pharisees come to Jesus questioning his disciples protocol. Why didn’t they wash their hands before eating? Jesus answers them by calling them out :

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” 15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Unwashed hands do not defile a man. A piercing does not defile a person. A tattoo does not defile a man. A hair style, an accent, jewelry does not defile a person. It is the things of the HEART that defile a person. Bitterness, anger, lies . . . those things defile.

These days it is MOST important to show God’s love to others. To love on people no matter what. To not stand in judgement because of what you prefer or don’t prefer. Instead of looking at the outside, examine the inside, look for the fruits of the person. Jesus speaks about that too, Matthew 7:17. Matthew 7 BEGINS by saying do not judge. Verse 12 states the famous quote “do unto others . . .”! Here we are, the FIRST book of the New Testament, with Jesus speaking about loving others! Shouldn’t that be OUR cue, that hey, this is important?

Be real. Be you. Love God and let God love you. Do not WORRY about others and their “preferences”. Instead seek out God’s preferences. That is where, when the whole world stands in judgement, you will find peace, rest and most importantly – UNCONDITIONAL love. Put your self worth, your dreams, your life in HIS hands. He loves you no matter what you look like and his only preference is that you love him.