Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS... from Helen

“But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him…” (Judges 6:34)

Three of my four grand daughters play dress up frequently. They love to put on fancy dresses and parade around the house, pretending to be princesses. In fact, Eliyah celebrated her fifth birthday by having a “princess’’ party. Four little princesses tumbled out of the car squealing with laughter at the prospect of princess partying. My daughter-in-law, Joice, provided the proper princess accessories: tiaras, earrings, necklaces and of course, princess slippers. I poured princess tea into miniature tea cups from a miniscule tea pot. Tiny fingernails poked themselves in front of my face to be painted with sparkly princess nail polish. The princess dresses splashed about the deck in colors of pastel pink, green and blue. From head to toe (nail) princesses paraded their finery giggling and in constant flight.

After princess cake and ice cream, it didn’t take long for Princess Eliyah and her court to quickly shed their pretty princess dresses when the time came to enjoy the water slide.

Are you spiritually as well dressed as you are physically? Do you pay as much attention to your inward attire as you do your outward apparel? We wouldn’t think of going unclothed to face the world but do we ‘put on’ the complete wardrobe that the Heavenly Father has provided? Old Testament Gideon amazed Israel’s enemies with his ‘princely’ wardrobe designed and manufactured by God Himself.

My granddaughter and her friends don’t think about enemies at their tender age. As New Testament Christians, however, we are instructed as to our clothing so that we may be able to stand strong against the daily attacks of the enemy.

Our wardrobe should consist of:

1. The Belt of truth

2. The Breastplate of integrity

3. The Shoes of peace (feet firmly shod in the Gospel of peace)

4. The Shield of Faith

5. The Helmet of Salvation

6. The Sword of the Spirit (Bible truths either written or memorized)

Just how well dressed are you?

Gideon’s personal Designer not only clothed him but we could say that his ‘clothes did indeed make the man’.

Want to make a fashion statement? Dress like children of the KING. You may enjoy the prince and princess party.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor…” (Ephesians 6:13-18a)

Reflections for September 30, 2009

The challenge that Joshua presented to the Jews centuries before Christ is the same challenge we face each day. Each day we are faced with circumstances that require us to make a choice about who we will serve. We sometimes act as if we can avoid the choice but we can not. Our choice may not be in words but it will be in our actions. Will our actions reflect our allegiance to God or will they reflect an allegiance to the gods of this world?

Bill Hybels explains it this way: “Every single day we make choices that show whether we are courageous or cowardly. We choose between the right thing and the convenient thing, sticking to a conviction or caving in for the sake of comfort, greed or approval. We choose either to take a carefully thought-out risk or to crawl into a shrinking shell of safety, security and inactivity. We choose either to believe in God and trust him, even when we do not always understand his ways, or to second-guess him and cower in the corners of doubt and fear. (Bill Hybels, Who Are You (When No One’s Looking)

Before we choose, it would be wise to know our choices. We need to ask the question Joshua put before the people in the verse above: “If not God; who?” There are hundreds of things from which we can choose, but most of them would fall into one of four categories. First, we can choose the god of pleasure. It causes us to become caught up in our own comfort and enjoyment. It does not leave room for concern for others. It offers much but in the end brings disillusionment. Second, we can choose the god of popularity. When we worship this god, we forget about principle and do anything to be accepted into the group we think is most important. Popularity never brings the self-confidence we seek because we can never please everyone. Third, we can worship the god of power. It is a cruel taskmaster. It requires us to step on anyone who gets in our way as we push ourselves to the top. The problem is when we get to the top we find it to be a lonely place to live. Fourth, we can worship the god of philosophy and worship whatever the current popular trend is. Presently, it is the spirit of secularism. While it does not always deny the existence of God, it does say that He is irrelevant and that man can fix all of his own problems. All of these gods share a common flaw. Not one of them can fill the empty space within man. It is a space that cries out for fellowship with his creator.

Joshua understood his choices and he said, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15c NASB) His was the wise choice then and it is the wise choice today. Who will you serve today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father give us both the will and the strength to make wise choices this day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


“You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble…” (Psalm 32:7)

All of my four grandsons like tree houses or hideouts, as did their dads. When I hear them talk about them, I smile. While in the eighth grade my family built a home on my paternal granddaddy’s farm. One of the pecan trees that lined the lane to the barns served as my girlhood hiding place. Even though I liked the nuts, my interest in fallen pecans elevated to the sturdy limbs of the tree itself.

Everyone needs a secret, special place to call their own. Many times during my turbulent teens I sought refuge in the branches of the pecan trees. It was not an uncommon sight to see me and Princess, my collie dog, headed for that hide-away. It didn’t take long for this tomboy to shinny up that friendly bark into a secret place while my faithful Princess laid waiting at the trunk of the tree.

My special tree grew far enough from the road so that I could see everything that passed, but nestled in the crook of those branches, no one could see me.

If those leaved branches had been tongues they could have tattled all about a tow-headed teenager’s hopes, heartaches and hangnails.

In times of need, now, a special rocking chair holds me and my hopes and heartaches. I call it my prayer closet. This place beckons me as strongly as did my hiding place of long ago. Perhaps those branches bore the fruit of prevailing prayer. I doubt if I called it that then, but I sure do stand on the promises of it now.

You, O Lord, are my hiding place.

Reflection for September 23, 2009

A couple of years ago, my wife and I watched a movie on the Hallmark Channel called “Tho None Go with Me”. It was a beautiful story of Christian faithfulness during both good and bad times. The movie ended with a party given to celebrate the main character’s fifty years of service to her local church. The lady was amazed that they would recognize her. She had never thought of herself as being anyone special. Like most of us, she did her good deeds wondering if anyone really noticed or cared. Her eyes filled with tears as individuals came forward to tell her the impact she had made on their lives

On April 25 my mother-in-law, Frances Goodson, turned ninety three years old. Since 1972 she has contributed regularly to the American Bible Society. As of this year, she has purchased 1,133 Bibles. These Bibles have been distributed around the world in the native language of the folks who received them. There is no way to measure the impact these Bibles have had through the years. My mother-in-law has also committed to another ministry endeavor. Although she is not physically able to attend church on Sunday mornings, she spends time each Sunday morning praying for all the preachers she knows. I thank God that I am on her list. On those Sunday mornings that I have felt like crawling back into bed and pulling the cover up over my head, I could think about those praying for me and it would give me strength. I can testify to the fact that it makes a difference.

I mention these two examples because most of us have those times when we feel that our efforts to do the right thing do not have any affect. In fact, sometimes we look around and see those who have little concern with right or wrong from a biblical perspective seeming to have all the success and reaping the greatest benefits. These observations make us consider giving up and joining the worldly way of doing things. However, deep in our hearts we know that the success of the worldly is only for a time and that the rewards of the godly are for all eternity. I believe that Nanny, Mrs. Goodson, will have all eternity to bask in the joy of seeing the impact that each one of the bibles she purchased over the years had on people who will join her in heaven and that they will thank her personally for her faithfulness.

By the way, this is not just pie-in-the-sky thinking. It is based on God’s promises. Galatians 6:9 reads, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (NASB) It is sad but true that many grow weary and stop just short of the harvest. Remember that God’s promises are true and that God always does what He says that He will do. Even if we do not have the joy of seeing the impact of our good works here on earth, we will see both the short and long term effects they have when we get home to heaven.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS..... from Helen

“Pray at all times…in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

My heart was alerted when my then seven year old granddaughter, Becca, called me from camp one night last summer, crying. “Nana, would you pray for me? I’m scared.” She sniffed.

“Of course, Becca, but what are you afraid of?”
“There’s a tornado warning and I’m scared.”

That's a good enough reason to be afraid. We prayed on the phone and she calmed down a bit. I turned on the TV to see about warnings and such and continued to pray for safety for all concerned.

After instructing the Ephesian Christians on their warfare wardrobe, the Apostle Paul adds to the attire a mantle of prayer to cover their clothes. He knew that each day would bring its own special attacks of the enemy. It seemed necessary to him to warn them (and us) that every day we must be dressed appropriately for spiritual warfare. The enemy is ever present.

A coat covers us and protects us from the elements. In summer, an umbrella might serve a similar purpose. Prayer does that, doesn’t it? It covers us and protects us. It is like an extra…over our clothes for added assurance.

It’s especially nice for granddaughters to ask their Nana’s to cover them with the mantle of prayer. And by the way, there was a tornado in the area that night Becca called her Nana. But it didn’t come near the camp, thanks to His covering of prayer and her willingness to ask for protection.

Cover me, Lord, with Your Presence
Cover those that we love, Lord, with Your Spirit.
Cover those that seem unlovely with your loveliness
Cover those who are fearful with your confidence.
Cover those who doubt with Your assurance.
Cover us all, Father, with Your Righteousness.

Reflection for September 17, 2009

The 'Everyone Else Is Doing It' Excuse

When I was a child, I often sought to do things that I knew went against family rules. One of my primary arguments was, “Everyone else is doing it!” When my children became old enough to seek to do things that went against the rules we had established for our family, they invoked the same argument, “Everyone else is doing it!” Today, we hear well paid lawyers and spin doctors use the same argument, as they seek to win public support for high ranking clients, who have violated what many would consider basic moral behavior.

We hear this same argument in other venues as well. It is reflected in statements like the Church has lost contact with the culture; everyone talks that way; everyone cheats on their taxes; everyone lies; abstinence before marriage is unrealistic; and the Bible is irrelevant in today’s society, The implication is that a moral failure should not be taken seriously, if it is one that is common to the masses. The underlying premise is that if enough people engage in any activity, it must not be bad. When taken to its logical conclusion, this argument would ultimately create a society where morality is determined by majority consensus.

This flies in the face of biblical morality. Fortunately, God did not wait to all the polls had been taken to determine right from wrong. He did not hold up His finger to see which way the winds of public opinion were blowing. He did not need man’s input, because He is a majority of one. His principles of morality are the ones by which we are all judged. The fact that we all fall short of the standards that He has set does not alter the standards. He does not lower His standards to accommodate our failures. However, He did send His Son in order that we might have a means of being redeemed from our failures, but He has never changed His standards and He never will.

These two opposing approaches bring each one of us to a place of decision. We must choose to base our moral decisions upon the prevailing winds of public opinion or upon the unchanging principles given to us in God’s Word. If we choose the later, we must search out God’s Word to derive our opinions on all matters of morality. The former is an easier path, because all it requires is to listen to the nightly news to see what everyone else is thinking. Before anyone hastens to take the easy road, he/she might want to hear the word shared by Paul with the Corinthians, “For we must all appear before the judgment set of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (I Corinthians 5:10) When we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, the argument, “Everyone else was doing it!” will be unacceptable because every individual must answer for the choices he/she has made.

The choices are ours to make. We would be foolish not to make them wisely.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS ... from Helen


“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son… “(Romans 8:29)

The SEARS AND ROEBUCK Catalogue occupied many hours of fantasy for me when I was a little girl. From my ‘wish book’ I planned my dream home and furnished it. I clothed myself, my ideal family, my pets and everything imaginable. Dreams, ideas, fantasies, hope all could be found in the Sears Roebuck catalogue. I still do that to some extent with the multiple catalogues that come by mail. Mostly I flip through them, fold down a few pages and set them aside. I also gather catalogues for my eight grandchildren. They are instructed to look through them, circle the things they like, write their names on them and ‘maybe’ for their birthday or Christmas they’ll get something from them.

We recently moved from McCormick to Greer. I did NOT notify the catalogue people of our change of address. The catalogues have found their way home, just like Lassie. Not all of them, but a few. I am a catalogue addict, so I’m glad, in a way. I love turning through the pages of Land’s End, Orvis, Spring Hill, Plow and Hearth, etc, etc. What I find on the slick pages of these periodicals fascinates me.

Occasionally I order from one of these catalogues. It is fun getting packages in the mail, especially when you’ve forgotten about it (Unless it doesn’t fit, that is).

In the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of a life-style that believers are to follow. We read it and say: “That’s the greatest sermon ever preached”. It is! But we flip through it and lay it down or throw it somewhere in the back of our minds to discard at a later date. It probably wouldn’t fit.

The problem lies in the fact that today’s believer picks and chooses those parts of the Bible that look good, perhaps invests in them and discards the rest.

Because Jesus did not require these attributes as a prerequisite for salvation, we may feel that they are optional extras. Not so. Read it again. It doesn’t present a polished and beautiful picture of something that we may or may not choose. God’s lifestyle for his children is holiness.

Catalogs…I will probably always enjoy letting my fingers do the walking instead of shopping ‘til I drop. However, the one Book that demands my total involvement also requires that I follow the directions to obtain the desired product…conformity to the image of His Son.

Reflections for September 9, 2009

"Channels or Cul-de-sac?"

Most Christians would agree with the statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Despite what they say, statistics do not support their claim. Researchers have discovered that the number of people who give purposefully and regularly to their local place of worship is declining in all mainstream denominations. Stewardship sermons are often tolerated but seldom enjoyed, because people do not like to be reminded that they may not be living up to the Biblical mandate for stewardship.

We have come a long way since John Wesley said, “Get all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” Someone else has recently said that today’s church folks are better reflected in the statement, “Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the lid.”

Our self indulgence is not limited to how we handle our money. It is also reflected in how we use our talents and time. The good steward does not see his treasures, talents and time as tools with which to build his own wealth and well being. Instead, he/she sees them as gifts given by God to assist in serving others and by serving others glorifying God. This concept of stewardship flies in the face of a society that seems to say,“First, look out for number one.”

In a sermon on biblical stewardship Rev. Paul Decker dealt with the conflict between “a me first mentality” and a biblical approach toward stewardship. He explained, “We are by nature, hoarders. We keep what we are given. The blessings come down our street, and stay there. We become like a “cul-de-sac”. There is nowhere else to go. But God has not designed us to be cul-de-sacs. He has designed us to be channels. We are to be continual conduits of God’s blessings. This is what He has designed us to be. So, the more we give, the more God will give us the ability to give. And God keeps giving, so that we will have enough, and abundance for others.”

Decker’s explanation leaves us with a choice. We can choose to be a cul-de-sac or a channel. By choosing to hoard our treasures, time and talents, we become a cul-de-sac. Our financial assets may grow to comfortable proportions; our calendars may be filled with activity; and our walls may be lined with plagues that remind us of how successful we have been. However, if our life has been all about our self and nothing about others, we will have accumulated little that will be to our credit in the life to come.

On the other hand, if we follow the mandates of scripture, we will become channels of God’s blessings. Our emphasis will not be upon self. It will be about using our blessings to encourage and assist others. Our focus will leave self and be transferred to others. We will become less concerned about what we have and more concerned about how we can use it for others.

God’s expectations are clear. Our choice is personal. Today, take time to look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see a channel or a cul-de-sac?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reflection for September 2, 2009

"What Will Your Game Film Reveal?"

During the years that I coached my Saturdays in the fall began early with a trip to pick up the game film from the night before. (This was before all the other modern technology we have today.) When I arrived at school, the film was shown to the players. The players learned early that the film did not lie. Errors could not be denied.

Following the team meeting, the coaches would remain to view the film for the purpose of grading each player’s performance. Once the grading was completed, each player’s grade for the game was recorded on a chart posted on the window leading into the cafeteria. On Monday, the players and the student body could view the chart to see the grade of each player that participated the previous Friday night. This was a powerful motivating force for the players to perform to the best of their ability.

Like those football players years ago, we all participate daily in a game and at its conclusion we will all be evaluated. The game is called life. Our evaluation will not be done by committee. Instead, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and the only opinion that will matter will be His. The Apostle Paul explained by writing, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:10 NASB) Since Paul is writing to Christians, I do not believe this judgment speaks to our salvation. It does remind Christians that they will be held accountable before God. The Apostle Paul reminded us of our accountability, when he wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10 NASB).

If a group of young kids can be motivated to perform to their best by a group of coaches who will determine their grade, shouldn’t we, who are followers of Christ, be motivated to play our game well? Shouldn’t the knowledge that we will someday stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ motivate us to play the game of life well? Take time to reflect upon how well you are playing your game.

Heart Thoughts from Helen

“…impress them on your children. Talk about them when you …walk along the road…” (Deuteronomy 6:15)

Our youngest grandson, Luke, occupied the back seat of our car on a trip from his school to a birthday outing. As we drove through the country by a cattle ranch his six year old voice broke the momentary silence. “My daddy can ‘moo up’ a cow.”

“Moo up a cow??” was my surprised reply. “What do you mean, Luke?”
“He can moo up a cow! Once when we rode home this way, he stopped the car, got out and stood by that side of the road and ‘moooooooooooed’ up a cow and the cow came.”

My thoughts ran back quite a few years to the summer that our oldest son, David, spent working on a ranch in Montana between his sophomore and junior year in college. One of his duties included milking cows. I also remember the quick lesson on cow husbandry and milking my daddy gave him before he left. My paternal granddaddy owned a dairy farm at one point in our family history. Daddy knew how to moo up’ cows so he could milk them.

The Hebrew children's tendency toward forgetfulness equals our own, so the Lord God instructed them how to overcome such weaknesses. Rather than doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku games, He had a better idea. “Hear o Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates. Kids remember things that we have no idea they will remember.

David recently needed a substitute teacher for his Sunday school class. He called his momma. His momma at first declined with “Son, those young people don’t want an old lady teaching them.” After a while he ‘mooed up’ his momma again. Guess who taught the class! He knew he could call on his parents in time of need. Now that in no way indicates that my son calls me a cow, but you do get the point! David’s Pap remembered what he’d learned from his daddy and taught it to my son. David remembered what he’d learned and taught it to his son. Luke remembered what he had learned and of all things, reminded us of what his daddy had learned.