Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time well spent

It's important to spend time alone with God

What it means to worship

Writer gains new insight on importance of praising God

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The pork shoulder

A year or two ago, my husband, Chuck, got a meat smoker.
He likes to put special wood in the thing to get just the right flavor for the meat, which he injects with a mixture of apple juice and brown sugar before cooking.
Just a little bit ago, Chuck pulled this big, black thing that looked like a small boulder out of the smoker.
It's a smoked pork shoulder. I have to admit that it looks kind of strange, but when I jab a fork into the underside of the shoulder I can pull up some really flavorful meat.
I guess you can't just a pork shoulder by its cover.
Actually, you really can't judge people that way either and the Bible even speaks to that.
Don't believe me?
Then look in 1 Samuel, chapter 16.
Here, we find a priest named Samuel who made a house call.
At that time, Israel wanted a king. God had Samuel anoint (pour oil on) a man named Saul, thus making him king. But Saul was a bad leader. So God picked someone else to be king and sent Samuel to anoint him. God had Samuel go to the home of a man named, Jesse, who had eight sons.
When he reached the man’s house, Samuel saw one of the sons and figured that he surely must be the next king.
Not quite.
In verse 7, we read where Lord told Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Seven of Jesse’s sons passed in front of Samuel.
None of them would be the future king. Finally, Samuel asked if Jesse had any more sons.
“There’s still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he’s tending the sheep.”
Samuel wanted to see this boy, so they sent for him.
The son came in.
“Rise and anoint him; he is the one,” the Lord told Samuel.
So Samuel anointed a young man named David.
Name sound familiar? This David went on to kill a giant named Goliath. And while the road to the throne was long and difficult, David eventually became king of Israel.
Now I would guess that when David came in from tending the sheep, he probably didn't look too great. Maybe he had to clean up before seeing the guest of the day.
But underneath that shepherd's garb was a heart that would beat for the Lord. In fact, he would be called a man after God's own heart.
I guess you can't just a shepherd or a king by his cover either.
All this makes me think about how we may judge people by appearance before we ever get to know them. We may not mean to do it, but sometimes our past life experiences can creep into our modern-day life.
I think we all need to be on guard for that. Now I've said before that it's probably wise to avoid a man, who's wearing a ski mask and running out of a bank.
We have to be wise.
But I think we all need to remember the words of Jesus who said "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
In other words, treat other people the way you want to be treated.
You and I don't want someone judging us by our appearance - especially if we've been working around the house and yard and don't look so great when we make a quick run to the store for toilet paper or bread.
And if you're like me, you've gone through tough times in life when appearance wasn't necessarily your first concern.
So as I'm looking at this pork shoulder I'm reminded of what a sweet surprise can lie under a less-that-pretty cover.
And I'm thinking that I'm so glad a loving God is able to look past my bumps, blemishes and bad hair to the heart beneath.



When confronting lions

Well-known Bible story shows importance of prayer

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rest for the weary

Do you ever become weary of spirit?
Not necessarily physically tired - although that can play a part - but just weary of other things?
It's easy to get weary of housework and laundry - which has a way of piling up when neglected. But I think we also can become weary of routines, everyday job tasks and even volunteer responsibilities.
That's when I like to read some Scriptures that infuse me with a little energy and a much better outlook.
Those well-known verses are from Isaiah 4o: 28-31 and they read: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Now back up a verse.
Have you noticed what precedes this?
I didn't until today.
Verse 27 reads: "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?"
When I read that I get the picture of people who are frustrated. They don't think God realizes how tired out, worn out, and put out they are.
I think we all can feel like that sometimes even though we know God is good and faithful and merciful.
So maybe that's when it's good to remember that the Lord does renew our strength and gives us power when we feel weak.
And taken advantage of.
And forgotten.
The Lord doesn't forget us and he's concerned about what concerns us.
As it says in 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your cares upon him, because he cares for you."
Did you notice the word "all"?
I think it's important to talk to God and let him know what's bugging us - even though he already knows. There's something therapeutic about getting everything out in the open with God.
Then we need to listen and let him speak to our hearts.
That's not easy for me, mostly because I always have so much to say!
But I think that God refreshes and renews us by speaking to us through his word and through the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit.
He has a way of restoring a sagging spirit.



Monday, October 4, 2010

If only

Small lies can have big consequences