Trash Or Treasure

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or in this case…another man’s trumpet. When my son, Cody, decided he wanted to learn to play the trumpet we weren’t sure if he would stick with it or not so we were talking about it at a family get together and my brother disappeared from the room. When he came back, he was carrying an instrument case. When he opened it up there was a trumpet laying inside. It had a few dings in it but it played great!

My brother played the saxophone when he was in school so I was curious to know how he happened to have a trumpet in hand. He said his uncle-in-law was driving through his neighborhood and noticed a neighbor had a big pile of trash at the curb waiting for pick up and he spotted the instrument case on top of the heap. So he asked his neighbor who told him it was his if he wanted it! My brother wasn’t quite sure why it had been passed along to him…until he heard us talking about finding a trumpet for Cody to play in the band. Wow! Talk about God’s provision! We had it cleaned up and Cody picked up playing it very quickly.

That trumpet wasn’t perfect. Many would’ve looked at it and said it’s not good enough. It’s too worn out and beat up to play anymore. But in the hands of one who loved it and wanted to use it, it made beautiful music!! And what a story that horn could tell. Played. Discarded. Picked up and placed in the hands of one who wanted to make a joyful noise! Does this sound at all familiar to you?

Don’t we discount our own worth at times? or the value of another? Regardless of the shape we are in, how hard we’ve been played or how long we’ve been left, discarded, treated like trash…we are a treasure! God lovingly picks up the pieces of our life, rescues us from our mess and reveals the treasure that we are and always were. When you have doubts, you’ll find that truth in John 3:16. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, would not perish but have everlasting life.”

God gave His own Son to redeem us back to Him. You are absolutely His treasure!

That’s Not What I Said

Have you ever been misquoted? Someone blatantly said that you said something and it wasn’t at all what you said! Whether you’ve ever had an adult misquote you…if you are a parent…I’m betting that you have been misquoted a time or two. Let me give you an example: your child comes into the room to ask you for permission to do something or go somewhere…pauses for a second and then adds…”Dad said I could!” Later you learn that Dad said…”If your Mom says it’s ok, then it’s ok with me.”

Whether innocently misquoting or intentionally misleading someone by misquoting it is frustrating to find out that someone has believed something totally untrue about you or about your character when a simple conversation could have cleared it up.

There is a promise in God’s Word that is so often misquoted that I believe it must truly grieve God’s heart when we take it in as truth. How often have we heard “God won’t give us any more than we can bear.”? How long have we believed that to be true? It comes from misunderstanding 1 Corinthians 10:13. Here is what God promised: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

There is no guarantee that what we face won’t be more than we can bear. There IS a guarantee that He will never give you more than HE can carry! God will show us a way out so that, with His help, we can endure! That’s the promise! The next time you’re tempted to misquote God’s promise, remember this: Nothing is too big for God to handle…so I am going to trust Him to help me through this!

The Time For Prayer

Recently a group of friends and I arrived at a restaurant for dinner and for some reason the hostess could not find our reservation on their schedule. Since there were about a dozen of us we had to wait a bit for them to be able to get tables to seat us together. But they managed it and as we were about to begin our meal they asked me if I would ask the blessing.

As I opened my mouth to begin the first thing that popped out wasn’t the traditional grace we say over a meal. What was in my heart was what spilled out…”Father…thank You for seats at Your table tonight…”. Gratitude for our time together, for food to eat and God’s blessing over our food and our lives was included and it was a sweet moment that we all felt.

Often we may think that prayer needs a specific format, a determined time of day or a designated location, as in morning devotion prayer, a blessing over our food prayer or a bedtime prayer. However, Ephesians 6:18 instructs us to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Our closest communion with God will be honest, vulnerable conversations that can happen any time of the day or night. Yes He is Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is in it. He is also the lover of your soul and He delights in drawing near to us every time we are mindful to draw near to Him. Tell Him what’s on your heart. He can work with that!

The Conqueror

When my son, Cody, was about eight years old we took him to a dinner theatre called ‘Medieval Times’. If you’ve never been, its worth the trip! The meal was good but the show was everything a young boy could imagine for adventure…and then some! Guys ride out on thunderous horses wearing a breastplate, carrying a shield in one hand and a jousting pole in the other as well as a metal helmet on their head. They are protected from the attack of oncoming enemies. Their goal? To remain on top of their horse…til the end.

While they dueled to be victorious, the entire theatre of diners in the stands, also known as nobles, cheered on their knight, booing and cheering, until only one knight, the champion, was left seated on his horse.

Sound familiar? Okay most of us are probably not jousting these days…but some days may feel like it. While our every day setting looks entirely different, we set out every day to stay upright and victorious, don’t we?! It seems as though every day has at least one battle to gear up for. Some battles are more like skirmishes while others are all out wars…but either way we should never enter our day without suiting up! And the Bible tells us exactly how to prepare for every day.

Ephesians 6:16-17 says,“…hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The devil will constantly attack us. The Bible tells us to ‘hold up the shield of FAITH’. God says we are MORE than conquerors. Let that be part of your faith shield! The enemy will tell us that we are not worthy of salvation. God’s Word says to ‘put on the helmet of salvation’. That protects our mind and helps us remember that Jesus came to save us and we are saved! And our most tactical weapon, God’s Word, is our sword of the Spirit. It’s not enough to keep it on our coffee table. We must read it. Hear it. Memorize it. Write it down and speak it!! Nothing can stand against His Word. It is alive and sharper than any two edged sword…and it declares that we are more than conquerors…we are overcomers!

Necessary Accessories

What girl doesn’t love accessories??!! So if we love a pair of shoes…how many colors does it come in?! Jewelry, hair ornaments, scarves, belts!…I am convinced that God gave us a creative flair to spice things up and keep things interesting. Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. And don’t we feel like when we’ve accessorized well, we have conquered the day!

Whether your belt matches your shoes or if you have two pair of shoes or two hundred, there is one pair of shoes and one belt that we MUST put on every single day. They are NOT accessories. They are a necessity! And if we truly want victory over our day…we cannot leave home without them!

Ephesians 6:14-15 (NLT) tells us what they are. “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” The Passion Translation puts it this way: “Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace.”

Know what attracts others to the Lord? Seeing someone walking this crazy life out with real peace. That’s someone who has slipped his or her feet into shoes that are all weather, one size fits all, Gospel of Peace shoes made by the Master Creator. Not shaken by what is happening around them but fully trusting in the One who is Peace.And the victorious one who stands their ground has the Belt of Truth notched up so snug that there is not even a smidgeon of room for the lies of the enemy to invade.

Since the Bible tells us to put them on…there must be times when we take them off. We must be sure that we are properly accessorized today! There is no better time than right now!

The Real Enemy

Have you ever been walking along and suddenly your heart starts to beat a little faster? The hair on your arms or the back of your neck feels like its standing up. Your body tenses up and you are keenly aware that something is amiss. Danger isn’t showing itself…but you have a sense that something is a potential threat and your awareness to your surroundings is heightened.

Don’t ever discount that sensitivity to danger. The Holy Spirit within us will often alert us to unseen enemies. Not to scare us…but to remind us…that we are not home yet. And we have work to do while we are still in this world.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Knowing that, and having a sense that there is trouble near, isn’t meant to scare us. We must not live in fear. Instead, believe 1 John 4:4 and its promise to us. “You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Let that truth take place in your heart and your mind…and take courage!

Prep Time

Prep time is an important consideration for everything. Whether we are planning a dinner, giving a presentation or getting ready for work or an important event…there has to be an allowance for additional time to get ready. I mean we can only “throw something together” for so long before we run out of steam …and grace!

There is only so long that we can do the old ‘fake it til you make it’ before our lack of preparation becomes apparent. Once in a while we can make it through with a ‘just show up and hope it all works’ attitude but in order to really give 100% to what we do – we MUST put in the time to prepare.

Why is it that we often prepare the least for the most important purpose set before us in life? As believers we are in the fight of our life! The enemy is waging war for our very soul and it isn’t a battle we want to engage in without preparation!!

Ephesians 6:11 & 13 calls us to “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil….put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

God’s Word makes it very clear that we must prepare. There are no short cuts in this one. Time in God’s Word and in prayer are necessary for today’s events. Allowing for prep time is critically important!

Memory Foam

Two years ago, my husband, Ken and I decided it was time to invest in a new mattress. Actually it was well past time to replace our old mattress but the choices online to select a new mattress were overwhelming and the idea of going to a store and laying down on different mattresses to test them out made me uncomfortable. So we just kept putting it off.

Finally, we had to make a quick trip out of town and ended up staying in a hotel with a really comfortable bed. I felt like I’d slept on a cloud all night! So before we checked out I pulled the bedding off to read the labels on the mattress. I won’t mention the brand name…but memory foam…was the secret!

So the research began to find that mattress and get one delivered to my home sweet home. When I was placing the order I saw that I had the option of one layer of memory foam…or TWO layers of memory foam. Well….if one was that good…two must be even better! So I went for it! When the delivery date arrived we were so excited. And it was beautiful when the guys were carrying it in. They took off the covering and placed it on our bed frame and carried away the old mattress. And as Ken was saying….’you better come look at this’…I rounded the corner to see…that mattress top came up to my armpit!

Let’s just say I have a stepladder by my bedside now. And we laugh often about our TWO layers of memory foam! Especially when we slide down out of bed in the morning! The wisdom in this story could be a better more thorough research, or busting out of my comfort zone to go lay down in the middle of a public place to test drive a mattress or two…but for us the wisdom in this story is that of Proverbs 17:22. “A merry heart is like good medicine.”

An Inheritance Or A Legacy?

The other day I walked in on a conversation that my husband, Ken, was having with our daughter, Abby. I don’t know what prompted this topic but I overheard him tell her that if there were certain things she wanted to have when we were gone that she should let us know so we could be sure to make note of those in our will. It’s natural to want to leave things to our children that will have value and be meaningful to them. We want to leave things to them to be remembered by after we’re gone.

But the most important things we can leave our children with long after we’re gone… are not things. Tim Tebow said it well. “Inheritance is what we leave behind. Legacy is who we leave it in.” Teaching them to be kind and generous, loving and faithful is a responsibility we should never take lightly. We don’t just teach that character to our children and grandchildren. Any relationship that God allows us to have with others gives us the opportunity to teach and encourage and inspire.

I love this verse in 2 Timothy 2:2 that says, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Whether we have children or not we have a responsibility to pass on the truth of God’s faithfulness, His goodness and kindness. So they can pass it on as well. That can change the trajectory of a nation! Now that is leaving a legacy.

That Detour

I am positive that as soon you hear the word “detour” you are remembering a time when you were on your way somewhere and you met up with that dreaded sign sending you in a different direction than you intended to go. It usually takes us out of the way and sometimes to unfamiliar areas. And didn’t we plan our travel to arrive at our destination at just the right time?! So….NOW we’re going to be late!!!

That detour is almost always there to keep us safe. It’s there to help us to avoid danger. But it is SO unexpected. And it throws us off our schedule! Have you ever taken the detour and discovered something beautiful along the way? That’s happened to me before. Once I got passed the whining and complaining and stressing over being late – I began enjoying the new scenery that I’d never seen before.

And so it is in life. We have our plans set for our education, our career, our relationships. We move in the direction that we believe we are supposed to go. We set our plans in motion. And, along the way, we hit a roadblock. Or we are detoured in another direction. We can get upset and sometimes we have reason to be. Some detours are painful or even tragic. We find ourselves on a different path and it’s unfamiliar and we may even feel unprepared for it. But nothing is ever a surprise to God. He has a plan for us and His ways are higher than ours. In fact, sometimes His ways will detour us into greater, more fulfilling blessings in our lives.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” I believe that it’s good to have a plan. But I’ve learned that I respond better to detours in my life when I hold my day planner loosely. When God is orchestrating the detours we can be sure it is for our destiny.