October 5th through October 15th

Friday, October 9, 2015

Make Way For the Judge

As the music faded from the room, Mr. Reed pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the flute. After returning the flute to its place and replacing the glass lid, he turned to me. "Well?" His tone had taken on a hint of harshness, but that was hardly unreasonable. 

Tears trickled down my face as I looked him in the eye. “I am so sorry, Mr. Reed. I thought I had enough proof. I thought I had the facts. I didn't want to believe it was you, but that seemed to be where the evidence led me.” 

Mr. Reed's tight lips curved up into a slight smile. “Evidence is a tricky thing, my girl. Sometimes it will lead us to answers, but often it will only lead us to what we expect to find. That is why we must be careful to judge correctly and not jump to conclusions when we don't have all the facts.”

In my newest mystery novel, Abby faced the same problem we often face:  she jumped to conclusions.  She looked at the facts.  She followed the evidence.  She thought she had everything figured out, but in the end, she accused an innocent man of a severe crime.  How could she have been so wrong?  How could the evidence have led her so far astray?  How could she have misjudged the situation?  The same way we can.

Evidence is great, but as Mr. Reed said, it can be a tricky thing.  We can take evidence and skew it with our own interpretations and assumptions, just as Abby did in the book.  Take, for example, the woman who sits in the back pew of the church.  She never smiles.  In fact, she looks like she's been sucking on a lemon all her life.  So, we examine the evidence, add up the facts and come to our concrete conclusions about her.  She must be rude and not right with God, which explains both her sour look and her backslidden position in the church house.  Who knows what kind of trouble she could cause if someone were to anger her? So we avoid her, just to be safe.

Sadly, there is some evidence that is not visible to the human eye.  What we mistook for evidence of a sour attitude was actually the grimace of a body wracked with pain.  Her position on the back pew?  Well, that's as far as she can walk inside the doors without needing to rest her weary body.  And as for her rude, standoffish manner, well, that's not true either.  In fact, if we were to make our way over to shake her hand, we would discover that she is one of the sweetest people in the entire world.  She's not trying to avoid others.  She simply can't stand the pain long enough to walk around and mingle.  Do you see what a terrible mistake we've made?

Whether it be in the church, in the workplace or even at home, we all have a tendency to appoint ourselves judge and jury.  We examine "all" the evidence and judge people according to what we see and think, but it's high time we realize that we're not fit to be judges because we cannot adequately examine all the evidence.  We need someone who is just and holy.  We need someone who can see the obvious and the not-so-obvious.  We need someone who knows what's good and what's right.  We need to let God be God, and part of His job as God is to be the ultimate Judge.

As for us, well, may I be blunt?  Perhaps if we spent as much time minding our own business and judging our own actions, attitudes and motives, we wouldn't have time to worry about anyone else.  Yeah, I know, that hurts, but it's true, isn't it?  God is excellent at His job, and He doesn't need our help.  Let's leave the judging to Him!

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? - James 4:12

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Will You Carry Me?

A few days ago, I saw the cutest commercial.  It began with a scruffy, little dog--with his back leg in a full cast--hobbling along behind his master.  As he made his way down the sidewalk, dogs of all shapes and sizes ran past him.  He stopped at the park and looked longingly at the dogs that ran, played and wrestled with their owners.  Then he turned and looked at his master with a look that said, "Seriously, dude?  This is not fair!"  (Yes, I speak "dog."  It's just one of my many talents.  Just kidding!)

Anyway, back to the commercial.  At the point where the poor dog gave his master "the look," the guy pulled out his phone, opened up his Amazon app and placed an order.  The next thing the viewer sees is the owner strolling down the sidewalk with the scruffy, little dog nestled securely in a carrier that is attached to the owner's chest.  Both master and dog are happy and content.  It really is an adorable commercial.  I love it!

But what I love even more than the commercial itself is the lesson of which it reminds me.  There have been many times I've been just like that scruffy, little dog (well, maybe not the "scruffy" part).  There have been days when all I could do was hobble along.  There were times when I looked on longingly at those who dashed past me with the health and energy that I could only dream of.  And yes, there have even been times when I've looked to the Master and said, "Seriously, Lord?  This is not fair."  Yep, I can certainly relate to the plight of the poor pup.

Fortunately, I can also relate to the Master's care and concern.  Aware of my injuries and my failing strength, the Master lifted me up into the comfort of His bosom and carried me.  He brought me up from the low places and made it where I could keep going, despite my halting step.  Nestled safely in that embrace of grace, I found a different viewpoint, a new perspective.  Things looked so much better from that vantage point, and the fact that I was moving again brought a smile to my lips.  You could say that both the Master and I were happy and content.

Are you limping along today wondering if you'll ever make it through?  Do you stare at others, longing for the freedom and energy they seem to enjoy?  If so, don't forget that your Master knows all about it.  He sees your need.  He knows your failings and your frustrations.  He also knows that you can't make it alone, and He is ready and willing to carry you.  All you need to do is ask.

Don't stumble around any longer.  Ask the Master for help, and then allow Him to lift you up into that precious embrace of grace.  From there, the whole world seems brighter, and your steps are certainly lighter.  God longs to carry you through this day and every day to come.  The question is, will you let Him?

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. - Isaiah 40:11

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are There "Ments" on Your Pillow?

Have you ever been to a fancy hotel?  You know, the kind where they leave mints on your pillow.  I don't think I have, but that's okay.  I'm not a fancy hotel kind of girl.  Frankly, I'd rather stay in a cabin in the woods, but maybe that's just me.  Besides, it's probably a good thing that I don't crave that kind of hotel stay because I'm pretty sure I couldn't afford it.

I did, however, go to bed with "ments" on my pillow last night, but let me tell you, they were not the kind of mints one desires, and they did not leave a pleasant taste in my mouth.  No, I'm afraid the "ments" on my pillow were discouragement, discontentment and disagreement.  You know how it is, you fall into bed at the end of the long day.  You're exhausted.  You crave sleep like Cookie Monster craves chocolate chips.  But the minute your head hits the pillows, you're assaulted with a million thoughts, most of them negative.

For me, it was discontentment over the leaky roof that had consumed much of our time, energy and patience over the weekend.  It was discouragement over the aches and pains of my body that haven't given me a moment's peace for months.  It was disagreement with God over the definition of "good" because at that point in time, I didn't see any of these things working out for my good like He promised they would in Romans 8:28.

Guess what!  After sucking on those "ments" all that time before finally drifting off to sleep, I awoke this morning to an exhausted body and a weary spirit.  It turns out that these "ments" don't dissolve when you suck on them; they grow.  The more time we spend with them, the bigger they become.  The more we think about them and dwell on them, the more of our time and energy they eat up.  And let me tell you, unlike other mints, these turn sour rather quickly.

So, how do we avoid the "ments" on our pillows?  How do we overcome the discouragement, discontentment and disagreements in our lives?  Well, first off, we can't ignore them and hope they'll go away.  Trust me, that doesn't work.  We must deal with them but through the strength and grace of God.  We must take them to God, just as we would any other burden, and explain that they are too heavy for us to bear.  Then, with all sincerity and commitment, we must give them over to Him and walk away.  Yep, I'm quoting Elsa from Frozen again, "Let it go, let it go!"

Seriously, we will all face discouragement, discontentment and disagreements from time to time.  Often, we may face them all at once, and the result can be overwhelming.  But the fact is that we don't have to suck on those "ments."  Acknowledge them, and then let them go.  Hand them over the One who can actually do something about them.  And then, maybe we can get the peaceful sleep we so deeply desire.

As soon as you have the chance, make yourself a note and leave it on your pillow.  When you go to bed tonight, you'll have a written reminder to cast your burdens on the Lord before crawling under the covers and attempting to sleep.  What should the note say?  That's up to you, but I'll tell you what mine says: "Hold the ments, please!"

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. - Psalm 3:5


If you'd like to read more about dealing with discouragement, discontentment and disagreements, check out my book, The Deadly Darts of the Devil.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hang On a Little Longer

The other night I decided to fix a big pot of chicken and dumplings.  Mitchell and Tippy were all for this idea.  They understood that the big bag of leftover chicken meant they could have a few samples. What they didn't understand, however, was that the chicken was the last thing to go in the pot.  First, there would be a lot of waiting as the dumplings cooked.

Mitchell quickly realized that the process was going to be a long one, so he went and made himself comfortable on the couch.  Tippy, on the other hand, was determined to wait it out.  So, she waited while the water boiled.  She waited while the dumplings were added.  She waited as I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher while the dumplings were cooking.  She waited while I checked to see if the dumplings were done.  Patient as ever, she sat behind me and waited.

After seeing that the dumplings needed a few more minutes before I added the chicken, I went into my office to do a quick task that I had forgotten about until then.  Unfortunately, Tippy misunderstood my actions and obviously assumed that the "chicken feast" was a bust.  When I went back to the kitchen, she was gone.  As I opened the bag of chicken, Mitchell came running, but Tippy was still nowhere to be found.  As I added the meat to the pot and tossed bits and pieces to Mitchell, Tippy was still AWOL.  Finally, just as I was about to add the last of the chicken, she came in through the back door.  Fortunately for her, I had been saving some scraps.

Funny, isn't it?  She waited all that time, then just about the time she was going to get her reward, she gave up and wandered off. . . and nearly missed the reward because of it.  Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Look at the passage I read in my devotions this morning: Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. (Psalm 81:13-16)

Did you catch that phrase, "I should soon have subdued their enemies"?  God was saying, "I was about to give them what they wanted.  I was about to make their dreams come true.  I was about to bring all my promises to fruition.  But Israel wouldn't wait any longer."  No, they grew tired of waiting on God and decided to do things their own way.  If only they had waited just a little while longer!

I don't want to be like the children of Israel.  I don't want to be like Tippy.  I don't want to miss out on the blessings of God because I gave up one hour too early or one day too early or even one year too early.  I want all the things that God has promised me and all the blessings that He has in store for me, but in order to have them, I need to be patient throughout the entire process.  Yes, it may seem like nothing is happening, but God is always working.

Maybe today you're about ready to give up.  I urge you to hold on a little longer.  God has a treat in store for you. Don't wander off.  Stay in His presence, and wait on His timing.  I promise you the blessings He has for you will definitely be worth it (and they may or may not taste like chicken).