Friday, August 31, 2012

"How Awesome is the Lord Most High . . ."

Psalm 66:5
Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!

The word "awe" is defined by Dictionary.com as "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like:  in awe of God; in awe of great political figures."  Well, I don' know about political figures, but certainly "awe" and "awesome" are fitting words to describe the greatness of God and His mighty deeds done for us.

Sadly, the term "awesome" in our culture has come to stand for anything that is simply impressive.  The decline in its power to pack a reverent punch is starkly evident in this phrase printed on the cardboard box pictured above.  It contained a new computer keyboard.

While today's technology is, indeed, remarkable, I would not label it as awesome.  At least, not in the light of the original definition of the word.

This makes me think . . .

What are the things I would consider worthy of the phrase "May contain awesome?"  Or, to be more precise, "DOES contain awesome?"  I offer some examples captured by my husband, Danny's, camera.  (With these exceptions:  the photo of the Bible is mine and the last photo is from Google Images.)























His Word


Me!


You!

Yes!  You and I!  Awesome!  Because, we are made in God's image.  Fearfully and wonderfully made.

His beloved children.

For whom His only Son died to save.

Arising in glory that we might be reconciled to Him for eternity.

God's most awesome deed of all . . .
~
Where do you see evidence of God's awesome power in your life?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for sending Your only Son, Christ Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins that we might be reconciled to You.  May we always see Your awesome power and might all around us in Your marvelous creation.  Let us be ever grateful for Your unfailing grace, forgiveness, and mercy.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Rollin' Down Highway 41 . . ."

Matthew 7:1
"Do not judge, or you, too, will be judged."

I've been doing my fair share of rolling up and down Highway 41 recently.  My mother-in-law, who lives north of us in Cartersville, has three doctor appointments in Marietta this month.  My husband, Danny, and I don't want her driving herself all the way there and back.  It's too exhausting for her.  And, I'm more than happy to be her chauffer.

If you look at the map in the photo above, it is obvious that Interstate 75 parallels Highway 41.  Why don't I take the interstate route, you ask?  Frankly, expressways scare the living daylights out of me.  All those mad-dash, lane-changing drivers and the monstrous, lumbering 18-wheelers are definitely not my cup of tea!

That's one reason, among many, why I admire our friend and praise band bass player, Rob.  He drives big rigs for a living, and is on the interstates for days at a time.  He is, in my opinion, a veritable king of the road.


Not me.  In my tiny, silver Scion, I poke along the four-lane, uncrowded, twisting, winding 41s of the world.  Never exceeding the speed limit.  Praying hard when I know a bridge is coming up (detest these).  Glad, oh, so glad, that encounters with tractor-trailers are few and far between.


So, imagine my surprise and, I might add, no small bout of panic as I'm rolling down Highway 41 headed home, and a gargantuan, roaring 18-wheeler pulls up alongside me.  And, the driver blows his horn!  Repeatedly!!!

Fear grips me as hard as I grip the steering wheel.  "What?  You want to pass me?  Well, just pass me, you big bully!  I'll slow down and make it easy for you.  That's right.  You go on ahead.  Of all the nerve!  Picking on a defenseless, chipmunk-powered hatchback!"

I entertain some other choice terms to describe the driver, then quickly beg God's forgiveness.  But, I am angry.  Shaken.  Perplexed.  What was that all about?  I watch the truck barreling down the road in front of me with judgment in my heart.

That was Rob . . .

"Impossible!"  I tell the Voice in my head.  "He always takes the interstate.  It can't be Rob.  No way!"

No, dear, that WAS Rob . . .

My cell phone rings.  Not a chance I'll answer it while driving.  There is a pause before I hear the jingling tone which tells me I have a message.  That can wait the ten minutes or so until I reach the first stop light since leaving Cartersville.

When at last I connect with a red light, I fumble for the phone.  Yes, I have a voice mail.  Thinking it is probably Danny, I decide to check it.

"Hi, Martha, this is Rob.  Sorry I scared you back there.  Sure didn't mean to.  Just saw you ahead of me and wanted to catch up and wave to you.  Sure hope you can forgive me.  See you Sunday."

I am dumbfounded.  The Voice was right!

Once again, I find I am too quick to judge.

And, I am the one in need of forgiveness.
~
Have there been times when you have judged someone or something only to find out you were mistaken?

Will you pray with me?
Before we judge others, Father, give us Jesus' words in our hearts - that we are not to judge unless we, too, wish judgment upon ourselves.  Grant us the grace to see as You see when faced with situations we don't readily understand.  Guide us by Your infinite mercy to always seek and offer forgiveness to ourselves and others.  Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace . . ."


Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
~Robert Robinson

My husband, Danny, and I both play acoustic guitar.  However, our instruments are strung differently.  His has steel strings while mine, more of a classical style, has nylon ones.  Much easier for my fingers to handle!


Left to right - my guitar and Danny's

While I don't play guitar in church every Sunday, Danny does.  His strings take quite a beating as a result, so he makes a point of replacing them every two months.  That way, he avoids the risk of one breaking in the middle of a song (believe me, this has happened!), and the tone of his guitar stays crisp, clear, and bright.

New strings on any instrument naturally want to stretch.  I'm always amazed, though, how little tweaking Danny's strings require once he's tuned his guitar.  They slip, but only marginally.  It is a breeze returning them to their rightful pitch.

Not so, my guitar!  I'll never forget the first time Danny put new strings on it for me.  No sooner does he get it in tune when those pesky, pliable, nylon babies decide it's time to stretch.

And, stretch.

And, STRETCH!

Believe it or not, it takes a full two weeks of tuning and playing before I can trust the guitar to last through a song without a sour note.

And, isn't it the way with some of us when we ask God to "tune our hearts" so that we might sing in perfect harmony with Him?  Like the steel strings, there are those who require little adjustment from the Lord to stay in tune with His desire for their lives.  But others, with their nylon strings, will stray and wander time and again before finally coming into sync with God's will.

Hearing, at last, His heavenly melody.

Trusting fully in His perfect pitch.
~
When it comes to obeying the Lord and following His will, which kind of string are you?

Will you pray with me?
Tune our hearts, Father, that our life songs sing Your praise.  Thank you for the grace and mercy You show us when we slip and hit that wrong note.  Keep us in perfect harmony with Your will for us.  Amen.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"We Are One in the Spirit, We Are One in the Lord . . ."

1 Corinthians 12:4
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.

If you have followed Meditations of My Heart for a while, you know that our home is nestled in a forest with a great variety of trees.  In the summer, when the leaves are out in full, it is easy to identify the different species.  But, have you ever tried to discern a type of tree by looking only at its bark?

My father taught biology and botany for over 30 years at a prestigious southeastern university.  One of his favorite lessons was teaching students how to identify trees by observing the bark alone.  Using some trees in our own backyard, I've put together this mini, photographic tutorial:


Black Oak


Bitter Nut Hickory


Basswood


Long Leaf Pine


Tulip Poplar


River Birch


Dogwood


Shagbark Hickory


Sugar Maple

Not exhaustive, by any means, but it's a start!

Studying the different textures and compositions of these barks reminds me of the different gifts each and every one of us have been given, but which all come from the same Spirit.  The barks may appear unique on the outside, but on the inside, every tree has the same basic components:  roots; wood; leaves or needles; flowers/fruits, and seeds.

And, we humans also appear different from one another on the outside.  Skin color.  Eye color.  Hair color (only my hairdresser knows for sure!).  Height.  Weight.  Shoe size.  You name it!

Yet, we are all one in the Spirit . . .

And, we all have gifts, unique to us, which we can share with others.

Need to share!

To make this world a better place.

To bring God's Kingdom just that much closer to earth.
~
What are your unique gifts?  Are you sharing them with others?

Will you pray with me?
Today, Father, let us celebrate our differences in looks and talents, knowing that all good gifts come to us through Your Holy Spirit.  May we be united through the Spirit in love as the Body of Christ and spread the Good News of Your Kingdom throughout the world.  Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ooh, Shiny!


Luke 10:40
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"

It's after four in the afternoon, Tuesday, and I'm just getting around to penning this post.  Yes, it's been a full and busy day, but there have been multiple opportunities to sit down at the computer and get started.

Sitting at the computer . . . That's the problem!

I settle myself in, pull up Word, copy and paste my scripture from Bible Gateway, and . . .

Hmm, maybe I should check my e-mail before getting started.  What?  Thirty-six new items?  Let's see.  Trash.  Trash.  Trash.  Oh!  Facebook notification.  Better check that out.  And, two new blogs to read.  Only take a few minutes or so . . .

And, off I go!  Bouncing around from friends' blogs to my Facebook feed, leaving comments like so many scattered breadcrumbs along my path.  Sharing photos and jokes and news links.  Before I know it, almost an hour has ebbed away, and I have yet to type one word of my post.

While I love the internet and social networking, too often it causes me to lose focus on the task at hand.  I'm distracted, flitting and floating from article to blog like a butterfly, never landing in one spot too long before dashing off to the next attraction.  Ooh, shiny!

Yes.  I'm convinced web surfing has given me ADD.  Seriously!

And, as if I don't have enough distractions from the media with which I already interact, my husband, Danny, signs me up for Twitter!  Yet another ooh, shiny to tempt me.

Whew!!!

There are days when this Martha sure feels like the one in the Bible.  Running around frantically.  Putting out fires.  Sidetracked by too many things of this world.

When I need to be like her sister, Mary.  Sitting at the feet of her Lord.  Drinking in His presence.  Listening to His voice.  Resting in His peace.

Writing for His glory . . .
~
Are you easily distracted when you get on the internet?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for the wonderful friends we have made through social networks.  They are such a blessing in our lives.  Yet, help us to remember that You should ever and always be our central focus.  May we, like Mary, take time each day to sit at Your feet.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunsets and Puppies

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

I am browsing through my Facebook feed the other day when I come upon these thoughts written by Barry, one of my buddies from high school.

Just FYI, I really love and cherish the diversity of my FB friends, all walks of life, all religions, all different party affiliations.  No harm meant, but you won't get a like or a comment this election season.  My thoughts about this country and where it is and is going aren't going to change this polarized population, and my eyes will glaze over your posts, and turn to sunsets and puppy pictures.

Wow!  Barry's words strike a chord in me.  Especially in light of the number of posts I see on Facebook which are politically oriented.

And, as the November election draws ever closer, I envision these posts growing exponentially.  As, I fear, will the potential for disagreements, confrontations, and, in extreme cases, de-friending.  All because of differences in political opinions.

Is it worth it?  Losing a dear friend because he or she doesn't share your vision?  Your party affiliation?  Your candidate?  Is it?  Really?

Like my friend, Barry, I, too, have a rich diversity of incredible friends on Facebook who are such blessings to me.  And, truth be told, I know some think differently about this election than I do.  That's okay.  They are as free to have their opinions and speak their minds as I am.  It's what freedom of expression is all about.

But, as Barry is doing, I'm choosing to ignore the ruckus.  Why?  Because, as Pastor Wallace is fond of reminding us, "Jesus was neither a Democrat or a Republican".  Bingo!  The Lord's Kingdom is not of this world.  Politics are . . .

And, Satan loves nothing better than seeing Christians attack one another over worldly affairs.  After all, can a house divided against itself hope to stand?

During this election cycle when you are tempted to vilify a friend's political views, remember this:  You are a child of God, and so are they.  And, as children of God, we are to be about our Father's business.

Loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Loving others as we love ourselves.

And, rejoicing in the glorious sunsets and adorable puppies with which He has blessed us.
~
If you are an American citizen, do you plan to vote in the Presidential Election?

Will you pray with me?
Help us to remember, Father, that as Christians, we are in the world, but not of it.  Let us love one another as You love us, and respect the different opinions of others.  May we live fully into the promise that we are Your beloved children.  Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Help Me If You Can, I'm Feeling Down . . ."

Psalm 10:12
Arise, LORD!  Lift up your hand, O God.  Do not forget the helpless.

I love spending time on our backyard deck.  It's always where I do my best thinking.  So, it isn't unusual to find me out there multiple times during my day.

A few days ago, coffee in hand, I go out on the deck and discover this little fellow.





A hard-shelled beetle lying on its back, its spindly legs waving frantically to and fro, but unable to set itself to rights.

Poor little guy!  Maybe you just need a bit of help to get you on your feet . . .

I pick up a twig and ever so gently roll the beetle right side up.




It staggers as if dazed.  Lurches clumsily forward.  Moves about one inch.

Then, losing its footing, down on its back it goes.  Flailing its tiny legs helplessly in the air.

I prod it carefully once again.  Back on its feet, my little friend can't seem to maintain balance.  Teetering.  Tottering.  Down for the count!




Again and again . . .




No matter how I try to help it, the beetle is incapable of cooperating.  Then, a thought hits me.  Hard!  All those years when I ignored the outstretched hand of Jesus.  Offering me His love.  His comfort.  His mercy.

His help . . . 

I was no better off than the struggling beetle, beating to air with purpose, but getting nowhere.  And, feeling so empty inside . . .

Oh, how I thank the Lord who never gave up on me!  Who kept offering His saving hand.  Patiently.  Steadfastly.

Again and again . . .

Until the eyes of my heart were opened.

And, I agreed to walk with Him.

Hand-in-hand . . .
~
Are you holding fast to the hand of Jesus today?

Please pray with me:
So many people, Father, are struggling with problems, troubles, and trials.  Remind them that Jesus' hand is outstretched to help them through the storm and give them the peace which passes all understanding.  Amen. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming and Going

Psalm 121:8
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Our cat, Jordan, is 18-years old.  In human years, that equates to age 88.  Wow!  Except for a tell-tale wobble in her hind legs and a slower, more measured gait, you would never guess her age just by observing her.

Unless, of course, you count how many hours Jordan sleeps out of the 24 in a day.  Our estimate is she snoozes for about 20 of those hours.  Here, she is so relaxed and content laying on the deck, even the clothes brushing her fur as I hang them to dry don't disturb her.





Jordan and I have a daily routine.  When I first get up in the morning, she is ready to eat.  I give her half of a can of cat food at a time.

 

Once she's had her fill, she heads for the door, meowing to be let out.  Of course, I obey her wishes.




If she is feeling up to it, Jordan will leave the deck for a stroll in the yard.  That is happening less and less . . .










Most of the time, it's a nap, then back at the door to be let in to eat more of her food.




Or, to lap up some milk.




Yes, I admit it.  We spoil her rotten, especially since last year when she became so ill, and her weight dropped to a frightening seven pounds from her normal ten.  We try everything we can think of to fatten her up, even giving her treats like sliced chicken and turkey.

Her snack eaten, Jordan heads back to the door again, wanting out.  Unless, of course, it's raining.  When it is, she gives me on of those looks as if to say, "This is all YOUR fault!"




Then, she slinks away, still sulking, to the bedroom.

But, on most days, it's in and out, coming and going.  A lot!  Just yesterday, I count 24 times she's exited or entered the house!  Sure gets me away from my computer.

Truly, I don't mind.  Not in the least.  Because I know the day is coming when I will open the door for Jordan one last time . . .

So, I watch over her with love and treasure her comings and goings.  And, it is such a comfort to me to know that the One whose eye is on the sparrow is watching our beloved Jordan, too.
~
Do you have a favorite story about a pet?  Please share!

Will you join me in prayer?
We are thankful, Father, for the pets in our lives who give us such joy and affection.  May we always take loving care of them while they are with us.  Please watch over their comings and goings and ours, now and forevermore.  Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pennies From Heaven

Matthew 25:20
"The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five.   'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five bags of gold.  See, I have gained five more.'"

Right after we get married, Danny and I begin the practice of saving our loose change from the day's expenditures in a plastic container.  We fondly call it our "mad money".  The kind we will cash in when the container is full and put toward a cabin vacation in the mountains.

It is a slow, ever-so-gradual accumulation of coins.  There are times when I wonder as I empty out my change if we will ever fill it to the top.  It takes, on average, six months to go from this:





To this:




Amazing!  It's so heavy, I find it hard to lift, even with both hands.  So, Danny says he'll take it for me to the money sorting machine at our local grocery store.




While he's gone, I think again about how long it took to filly the container.  A quarter here.  A nickel there.  Over and over and over and over.  And, every little bit contributed matters greatly in the end.

It's that way with every act of kindness we show someone.  A smile.  The cheery "hello".  That encouraging word.  These may seem as inconsequential as a penny at the time.  But, when we make these gestures over and over and over and over, something wonderful happens in the bank account of our heart.

It grows!  Exponentially!  Pennies from Heaven!

And, we are wealthier in spirit than ever we could have imagined.

My phone rings.  It's Danny.

"We broke the record today," he announces.

"How much?  How much?"  I ask excitedly.

"One hundred and sixty bucks," he answers.

"Wow!  That's incredible!"

And, indeed, it is.  One coin at a time.  One kindness at a time.

Incredible . . .
~
Will you enrich the bank account of your heart today?

Will you pray with me?
In all that we do and say, Father, let us practice kindness toward others.  Help us to love them as we love ourselves.  May the light of Your love and mercy guide us in all things.  Amen. 

We're Going Home

Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ...