The Shredder

High Capacity Shredder
Image by bbum via Flickr

I read about this event that was held last year in New York City.  I don’t recall all the specifics but in general it went something like this:

Folks were encouraged to bring in slips of paper with their “bad memories” from 2008 written on them.  They would then take turns running them through a giant, industrial shredder, eating up those bad memories.  It seems like bank and retirement statements were some of the top items to be “fed to shred”.  But I also recall things like “cancer” and other diseases being included, as well as a few relationship items.

I suppose it is true that we all long to rid ourselves of these “bad memories” and painful events in our lives.  And to a degree I don’t think it is bad to want that or even if we can, when possible, do so.  But maybe there are also some good things to come from these sorts of things from time to time?  Paul had something he wished to “shred”; God to him that His grace was sufficient and in Paul’s  weakness God’s greatness was manifested (2 Cor. 12:7-10).  He didn’t remove Paul’s thorn but gave him the grace to live with it.

Our own problems effect us more and more as we continue to dwell upon them.  They can cause difficulties in our lives in a multitude of ways: with our families, our friends, at work, at social events.  But worse of all, if we continue to dwell on them they will inevitably cause problems in our most important relationship: the one with our Lord and Savior.  How thankful we ought to be that we have a way to “shred” these things: by casting them upon Jesus and trusting in His provision and grace.

1 Peter 5:7 “[Cast] all your care upon [the Lord], for He cares for you.”

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Christmas Day

For the most part, Christmas day is about over with now. Gifts have been opened, dinner made, eaten and cleaned up, and most of the visiting is done with. One trip this evening and it’ll be completely over with.

I find the older I get the more disenchanted I am with Christmas. I know a lot of it is from the blatant commercialization of the day we celebrate our Lord’s birthday. But I think it is deeper than that this year. I think I feel guilty for not doing more to represent what the true meaning is myself. Yes, I am but one person but I could and should make whatever difference I can to whoever I am around during this time of year. And I don’t think I’ve been doing as good a job as I could be.

I praise Him for how He has seen fit, when I’ve been obediant, to use me. I am thankful that He deems me useful in any way for any work He’d have Me to do. But I pray that not just at Christmas but always I will do a better job for Him. Christmas is ideal because it lends itself to an “opening” whereas other times of the year not as much so. But if He wants and I’ll listen I can be effective for Jesus year round.

I hope that the few opportunities I’ve had and taken advantage of have been pleasing to Him. And I pray that if they were He’ll use them to His good will and work that maybe someone saw the Light of Christ shining brightly enough through me to arouse something in them, to wonder what the real deal of Christmas is all about. And I pray that He will use whatever tool/person He sees beat suited to reach that person a little more.

Daily Light

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.

I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: . . . I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.–We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

They brought young children to him, . . . and he took them up in his arms, put [his] hands upon them, and blessed them.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant.–The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.–Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.–I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

(Scripture references: Isa 40:11 Mt 15:32 Heb 4:15 Mr 10:13,16 Ps 119:176 Lu 19:10 1Pe 2:25 Lu 12:32 Eze 34:15)

Holding On

Our grandson is beginning to learn to take steps now. He’s already mastered pulling himself up and getting erect. We began by holding out our fingers to him, like handles, and he would sit himself up. From there he learned to sit up then pull himself to a standing position.

No matter where I put him now, be it standing in his crib, up against our ottoman, or standing in the seat beside me, he holds onto at least one of my “handles”. Though another object may actually be more sturdy, he seems to know if he’s holding onto me he is safe; Papaw won’t let him fall.

How similar that is to our walk in this life. If we would trust God implicitly, with a child-like faith, and grasp onto Him tighly, rather than leaning on self or things of this world, we would be so much the better off. Our Father loves us and if we will cling to Him He will always hold us up. How we should long and strive for that child-like faith!

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. (Mat. 18:3; Psa. 62:6)

Service Project

Our church is doing a service project for a local girl’s group home. My understanding is they are teens that have been basically abandoned or abused, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. There are currently 24 girls living there. We are making up gift boxes for them this year; last year we filled huge stockings.

One of the items on the list was hair bows or barrettes. So I decided to make each of them tooled leather ones. Thus far I have half of them tooled and carved and half yet to go, not to mention needing to finish and seal all two dozen. Oh, and I realized last night they have to be done by Sunday. So I have some work to do!

I’m more excited about this project than any other I’ve done, not counting VBS. I hope they like them and find them to be unique, one of a kind, imperfect, handmade items, just like they and we all are.

As I begin to work on each one, I look at the girl’s name and I pray for her. No, I don’t know any of them or their specific needs or situations. But God does. And I hope and pray that through this small gesture of love they will each see the love of Christ.

Christmas Letter

I got the following “letter” from my uncle. It really touched me and I wanted to share it.

Letter from Jesus about Christmas —

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 – 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary– especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :
I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

Thinking

As I sit here this evening fighting off a cold and respiratory infection, I’ve been thinking about, or pondering upon, as I like to say, how blessed I really am. Let me start by telling you about my cold though.

My grandson began to get a runny nose Saturday. By Monday it was pretty steady, Wednesday it had “color” and he had a cough. My daughter in law called Thursday morning to get him into our family doctor and then called me to see if I could chauffeur them to and from the appointment. Of course I could; anything for him, especially if he’s sick.

Well, as I was getting ready Thursday morning it occured to me: I had the same symptoms as him but about 36 or so hours behind his. Considering the timeline of my babysitting schedule, I was fairly sure we had the same thing and that I’d gotten it from him.

Our joint doctor visit confirmed my suspicion: he had indeed infected me. His had settled into a mild ear infection, common for his age, and mine was going quickly toward bronchitis, common for me. The doctor said that he was a “little pietre dish”, but a loveable one. So the cute little germ carrier had suceeded in making his Papaw sick with his slobbery kisses. But how could I be upset by that? No way possible. Anyhow, we are both taking our antibiotics and on the road to recovery now.

So how does this make me reflect on being blessed you ask? In less than two months I have know two different families that have suffered miscarriages: one a church family member who I dearly love and the other, I found out tonight, a friend from all the way back to elementary school. It would have been the first grandchild for both of these fine men (and their families, not to discount anyone, just that I can identify with them more).

A mere two years ago grandchildren were the last thing on my wish list. In fact, with my nerves at the time, still healing from my last back surgery and becoming re-disabled, I didn’t have the patience for kids at all. Period. Then God began preparing my heart for His plan by introducing me to a wondeful little five year old at church. She and I were instant buddies. And still are. He then introduced me to two great, rambunctious little boys, three and five at the time if I recall right; the preacher’s boys. Again I found myself falling in love with these kids and wondering what it might be like to have a grandchild of my own.

In late April, I think it was, I found out our pastor was leaving to go back and work at his home church. And he was taking the boys with him! I was sad, bummed out actually. Here I had been learning to color again with them and enjoying watching them grow and develop and what-not and they were leaving in a few months. It was a, well, bummer. Thankfully I still has my little adopted granddaughter, as my wife and I called her.

Soon we got two more “granddaughters” from this family as the other kids began coming to church, too. We were back to three again. And getting even closer to these precious little ones every week.

Within months I had gone from not even considering the possibility of grandparent-hood to relishing the thought, though sort of vicariously I reckon you’d say.

Jump ahead a bit more to November 4, 2008: I get the totally unexpected news that in six months or so it’s no longer going to be vicarious but real! I was emotionally mixed, to be honest. But now I’m completely content, seven months into Papaw-dom. The little guy is the light of my life, this side of Heaven and second only to God Himself.

Would I have ever believed the changes He was going to make in me and my life? Not likely. Though I knew He could if He decided to.

So even though I feel run down and sick, I’m so totally blessed by this gift and change Jesus has made in me. And as happy and wonderful as I feel, I’m just as sad and hurt for the two families I mentioned earlier. Why God chose to give us Connor, or why He did when He did I don’t know. Why these two other families lost this chance at this time, I don’t know either. But I do know that His ways and decisions are best for His children (Romans 8:28-29) and I trust Him explicitly. And I praise and thank Him for the wonderful gift and change in my life He has seen fit to bestow upon me and make in me.