A Full Life

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.

–Proverbs 13:7  The Message

 

What does it mean to be pretentious?

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary states that the definition of pretentious is as follows:

“Having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are.”

If we want to be regarded as more impressive than we really are, how much time and energy would it take to hopefully bring that about?

If we want to be regarded as more successful than we really are, how much would we have to work to constantly support that facade?

If we want to be regarded as more important than we really are, how many worthwhile opportunities would be lost while our attention was focused on maintaining the illusion of importance?

After awhile, if we were to look back, a great portion of our time (and our lives) would have been lost to deception.

Our lives might be characterized as empty.

Proverbs 13:7 in The Message reads,

“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.”

If we live as who we are, and if our identity is in Christ as His follower, we have no need to be known as something that we are not.

We simply seek to be known as who we are–children of God, forgiven and free.

Now, that’s a full life….

 

 

showy

And the End

A day or so ago, one of my son’s came up with something interesting.

He began thinking about what people think of God.

More exactly, he was thinking of who people think God is.

He posted this question on a social media site:

“I want to invite ALL my friends to write a VERY SHORT definition of “God” from your point of view. Whatever YOU think “God” is. Weather you believe in God or not.”

He received a long list of comments.

The question actually sparked quite a conversation between the two of us.

Now, I am thinking about what other people may define who God is.

In Revelation 22:13, we can read these words:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Whether you believe in God or not, would you please comment on this post and site your definition of God?

This will no doubt help the conversation between me and my son to continue.

Thank you so very much.

 

 

Alpha

 

 

Make the Tree Good

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.

—Matthew 12:33

 

When your name is mentioned, what things come to mind for those that know you?

What things come to mind for those that know me?

It is not our responsibility to please others primarily.

It is more important to please God in our actions and words.

In doing so, we will become known for our choices.

Does God consider us to be bearers of good fruit or bad fruit?

 

tree fruit

The Lord Looks

Our Basset hound was not feeling at all well this morning.

Having had a very uncomfortable night, as well, I knew I had to take her to the veterinarian.

After waiting only a short time, we were called back to the exam room.

There, I noticed an x-ray illuminator on the wall.

I began to think….

It was there so that the doctor could clip an x-ray film on it and the light from it would make the images visible for inspection.

What if who we really are—our thoughts, emotions and memories—could be placed on a screen and made visible for inspection?

What would they look like?

Others look at us the same way we look at them–seeing the outward appearance.

At times, we are well acquainted with someone else and we have some idea of their true nature, yet we cannot really see all that they are.

God knows each of us, totally.

All our experiences.

All our feelings and emotions.

All our thoughts.

He doesn’t need a bright light in order to reveal our souls.

When God was instructing Samuel to go and anoint a new king from among the sons of a man named Jesse, Samuel looked at one of them and thought surely he was the one to be king– but God told him otherwise.

1 Samuel 16:7 says,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God knew the heart’s of each of Jesse’s sons, and He had selected one of them to be king.

God has not changed.

He knows our hearts, as well.

Your heart.

My heart….

 

the heart

 

 

 

 

Give

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Give, and it will be given to you.

A good measure,

pressed down,

shaken together

and running over,

will be poured into your lap.

For with the measure you use,

it will be measured to you.

—Luke 6:38

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Promises

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For all of

God’s promises

have been fulfilled

in Christ

with a resounding “Yes!”

And through Christ,

our “Amen”

(which means “Yes”)

ascends to

God for His glory.

–2 Corinthians 1:20

 

 

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promises

You Are

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Am I a light for others?

Am I shining around other people?

This Christmas, what I am proclaiming to others by the way I talk and the things I do?

*

 

 

 

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

—Matthew 5:13-16

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light of

Set in Their Places

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This year, there will be a full moon on Christmas.

That hasn’t happened since 1977.

In fact, it’s only happened three times since 1900.

So, when will it occur again on Christmas?

The year 2034….

Figuring out such things requires a great deal of scientific and mathematical knowledge and expertise—a task for the highly educated.

Keeping the moon in orbit around the earth and the earth sailing around the sun and the sun in its place in the Milky Way requires a Creator with ultimate power—a task that only God can handle.

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O Lord, our Lord,
    Your greatness is seen in all the world!
Your praise reaches up to the heavens;
 it is sung by children and babies.
You are safe and secure from all Your enemies;
    You stop anyone who opposes You.

 When I look at the sky, which You have made,
    at the moon and the stars, which You set in their places—
 what are human beings, that You think of them;
    mere mortals, that You care for them?

—Psalm 8:1-4

*

 

 

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mortals

Bethlehem

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Imagine being sick.

Really sick.

You arrive at the hospital and soon you are admitted.

After tests have been run, the doctors identify what the illness is.

The bad news: this illness can be fatal without the proper medicine.

The good news: the medicine is available, but it has to be ordered and shipped into the hospital.

During the next few days, you become even more severely ill.

Time is running out.

When you begin to think you can’t make it any longer, a nurse comes into your room and announces that the medicine has arrived.

Because of it, you will live.

When Jesus was born, all that was needed for our spiritual healing had arrived.

The bad news: Without Him, our condition was fatal.

The good news: With Him, we may live.

Jesus would pay the penalty for our sins on the cross one day, offering us the gift of eternal life.

This Christmas, do you know Jesus as your Savior?

*

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

—Matthew 2:1-6

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ruler

Content

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After finishing a late afternoon photo session, I drove along the country highway.

Deciding that I needed to make a cell phone call, I pulled over into a residential area off onto the side of an entrance road.

After stopping the car, I noticed a beautiful horse in the field nearby, the muted colors of the sunset setting his coat all aglow.

He looked calm and unhurried.

Serene.

Content.

He had what he needed.

Food.

Water.

A place to call home.

Hebrews 13:5 reads:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

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content

The Road That Leads to Life

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There is a lakeside park that I enjoy visiting about an hour’s drive from my home.

Besides the scenic view over the water, the wild birds that frequent the area and the peaceful atmosphere, the stone street that runs through it is very inviting and nostalgic.

Flanked with vintage street lights and flags, the thoroughfare is inviting and spacious.

If given the choice, I would most definitely choose to walk down this lovely street than on a narrow footpath off to the side.

After all, who wouldn’t?

Jesus spoke about choosing the right road spiritually.

We can choose the road that most people take.

The faithless road apart from Him.

It’s big, wide and spacious.

It’s inviting and flanked with alluring temptations.

There’s one problem, though–

It leads to destruction….

 

The other road is narrow.

Only a few choose it.

It is a road of faith in Jesus, leading to life.

The wide road is appealing and enticing, for sure.

But choosing that one over the narrow road of faith in Jesus is just not worth it.

It’s not worth your own destruction.

Instead, choose life.

*
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

—Matthew 7:13-14

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narrow gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on Earth

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Christmas is about Jesus.

When our oldest two sons were small, we would talk to them about the real meaning of Christmas.

Once, while waiting in line at a store, our second son told another customer something like this:

“Santa Claus is pretend Christmas. Jesus is real Christmas.”

Yes.

Real Christmas is about Jesus.

*

 

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

–Luke 2:8-14

 

*

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and on earth

Quick at Mending Fences

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The fence I photographed looked perfect.

It is obvious that it had been well taken care of.

How quick are we at “mending fences” in our relationships?

*

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message

 

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acts love

 

From Springs Into Valleys

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I don’t understand how God holds the universe in place.

My thoughts can’t begin to comprehend His greatness.

All that I can do is trust that He does love me and that He is holding my life and the lives of those I love in His hands.

As my heart yearns for healing in the hearts of others, God knows my greatest desires.

He has the power to hold the universe in place, to hold our world in orbit and to hold the oceans within their boundaries while bringing water to every land.

I must trust that His great power can change lives and change hearts for all of eternity, as well.

*

You set the earth on its foundations
    so that it can never be shaken.
 You covered the earth with an ocean as though it were a robe.
    Water stood above the mountains
         and fled because of Your threat.
    Water ran away at the sound of Your thunder.
         The mountains rose and the valleys sank
            to the place You appointed for them.
     Water cannot cross the boundary You set
        and cannot come back to cover the earth.

 You make water gush from springs into valleys.
    It flows between the mountains.

—Psalm 104:5-10

 

 

*

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water gush

Rain Down

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“You heavens above, rain down My righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.

—Isaiah 45:8

 

*

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rain down

A Clean Heart

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I want to let go when I am supposed to let go.

I want to hang on when I am supposed to hang on.

I want to stay when I am supposed to stay.

I want to move when I am supposed to move.

I want to speak when I am supposed to speak.

I want to love when I am supposed to love.

And I want to do it all with a clean heart—a renewed heart.

*

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

—Psalm 51:10

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clean heart

Now Faith

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What does wind look like?

I could tell you the effects of wind.

I could tell you what wind feels like as it brushes against my face.

I could even describe how I think wind moves.

But tell you what it looks like?

I can’t do it.

Even so, I know it is there.

I have faith in knowing that wind exists.

I am sure of it.

I believe in God.

I believe that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins.

I can’t tell you exactly what Jesus looks like.

I can’t tell you a place where you could go and “see” God.

I can tell you what effect God has had on me.

I can tell you how He forgave me.

I can tell you what it feels like to know that forgiveness down in my heart.

I can tell you what it’s like to experience God moving in my life.

I have faith in God…..

*
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

—Hebrews 11:1

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faith

 

 

 

And the Two Will Become One

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What does it mean to be married?

Ephesians 5:31 reads:

As the scripture says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.”

When someone is married, life is shared.

Happy life.
Sad life.

Healthy life.
Sick life.

Confident life.
Unsure life.

Faith life.
Doubting life.

What happens in one spouse’s life is felt in some way by the other.

A partnership of love.
An alliance of fidelity.
A union of commitment.

That’s what it means to be married.

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become one

His Promises

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It was a windy afternoon coupled with an overcast sky and cool temperatures.

I decided that it would be a perfect time to visit a lakeside park in a nearby city.

As my husband and I walked around, we saw a bird on the grass past the wooden bridge we were standing on.

Having some stale biscuit bread in a bag, he threw a small piece into the grass below.

A different bird saw the morsel and eagerly ran up.

This commotion caused a bit of a stir in the long blades of grass, sufficient enough to flush some colorful butterflies out and into the open.

As they settled back down, once again lighting and being still, I took a few photographs of them.

Not knowing what type of butterfly I had seen, I did a bit of research.

It seems that I was watching some White Peacock butterflies.

Delicate and fragile, they truly were captivating to behold.

I’m not sure why butterflies remind us of a sense of freedom and serenity.

Perhaps their playful sprint from one place to another along with their carefree ability to do so is what does it.

In another way, their vulnerability might bring a sense of trust or confidence to mind.

1 Corinthians 1:9 reads,

“God faithfully keeps His promises. He called you to be partners with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We must trust God to keep His promises.

We must be confident in who He is and in His love for us.

~

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faithfully

Everything He Does

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Walking over to a bush in my yard, I suddenly noticed something on a Lantana bloom.

Not really being sure what it was, I cautiously approached an intricately designed, winged creature.

Was it a wasp or a bee?

Would it decide to sting me at any moment, for being so close?

One photograph after another, it remained on the flower, content to be the object of my curiosity.

Looking on the internet later to try to find out what it was, I found that I had been watching a Polka-Dot Wasp Moth.

Well, now.

Imagine that!

Wonderfully arrayed in red, white and blue, this moth was such a beauty to behold.

Psalm 111:3 reads,

Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.

God fashioned this moth just the way He wanted to.

In each color and design on its body, God’s marvelous power of creation was evident.

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Done in Love

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I read the sign in front of a veterinary clinic as I drove past.

“DEAF PETS HEAR WITH THEIR HEARTS.”

Those words went straight to mine….

I have a fifteen year old Basset Hound.

Her eyesight is failing and she can barely hear.

Sometimes, I pick up one long ear (they are several inches in length) and say, “I love you” directly into it.

I hope she hears it.

If she doesn’t, I hope that she feels it in her heart when I brush her, give her a bath, take her for a walk or put my arms around her and hold her sweet doggy face near mine.

As you can tell, I truly do love my dog.

But after only seconds had past from my reading of the sign, I thought about it in a different way.

Certainly, deaf pets hear with their hearts.

The ones that have good ears do, as well.

Not only that, I believe that PEOPLE hear with their hearts.

Babies do.

Children do.

Teenagers do.

Adults do.

We may not hear the words, “I love you,” but we feel it when love is shown to us in the actions of others.

The thoughtful remembrances.

An outstretched hand.

The sympathy card.

The home cooked meal.

The flat tire fixed.

The tender hug.

Just sitting near us when we’re sad.

Just cheering from the stands when we’re out on the field….

God wants us to love each other.

1 Corinthians 16:14 reads, “Let all that you do be done in love.”

I have an idea for another sign.

It should read,

“ALL PEOPLE HEAR WITH THEIR HEARTS.”

Wouldn’t you agree?

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done in love

Save the World

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It was quite by accident that I saw it.

There was something I had just passed down the highway that I wanted to photograph.

While turning into a new housing development area, there was quite a bit of acreage with wild grasses and trees.

It was a lovely scene, made even more interesting by its contrasting centerpiece–an abandoned construction machine.

This type of equipment is quite costly and very specialized.

Why was this one left behind?

As it rusts in the harsh sun each day, the moments that it was once in use become more of a remnant of times gone by.

It appeared useless and condemned.

I suppose that if the right person came along, this big piece of machinery could be restored.

Like machinery rusting out in the elements, people need to be restored.

Not just some people—all people.

The rust and corrosion of sin affects everyone.

There is only one remedy.

Only one redemption.

Jesus came to save us.

When He died on the cross and rose from the dead, He paid the penalty for our sin.

God doesn’t want us to be lost and separated from Him forever.

He doesn’t want us to be in a condition of condemnation.

Instead, He wants us to be restored—to be made right with Him.

To be forgiven, whole and well.

~

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

–John 3:17

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I’m Writing This Myself

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I have heard before that many people believe that Paul had difficulties with vision.

If that is true, his poor eyesight did not keep him from serving the Lord.

It did not keep him from communicating with those he cared about.

As he wrote to the Galatians in the verses that follow, I sense that he cared very much for the people and for their decisions.

He wanted to encourage them to follow Jesus.

I can imagine saying these words to my children.

That may be how Paul felt.

Like a father instructing his children, wanting the very best possible for each of them.

With writing a letter being the best way to communicate at the time, he got his message out.

Who does God want you to encourage today?

~

If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction.

But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life.

We can’t allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way.

Certainly, each of us will receive everlasting life at the proper time, if we don’t give up.

Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.

Look at how large the letters in these words are because I’m writing this myself.

—Galatians 6:8-11

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Blessed is the Nation

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Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people He chose for His inheritance.
 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
 from His dwelling place He watches
    all who live on earth—
  He who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

—Psalm 33:12-15

God considers what the people of my country do.

God considers what the people of my state do.

God considers what the people of my county do.

God considers what the people of my city do.

God considers what the people living on my street do.

God considers what I do.

Blessed are the people who God considers and finds that they are trusting in Him with hearts of faith.

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Showers of Blessing

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I will send down

showers in season;

there will be

showers of blessing.

—from Ezekiel 34:26

God gives a message to the Israelites in the book of Ezekiel in chapter 34.

Part of this message mentions “showers of blessing.”

My husband and I went to a nearby city to take care of some details for a family member who has been in the hospital for a few weeks.

Arriving at our destination, I got out of my car, even as it was lightly raining, to get a few photographs of a glorious rainbow that had appeared. My husband had gone inside the building.

After returning to the car and making a couple of phone calls, we found out that our family member may be well enough to come home in just a couple of days!

Showers of water were falling on us in the parking lot.

Showers of blessing were falling, too….

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