Monthly Archives: February 2012

Taking Inventory

“Immediately the Spirit drove Him to the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.”

This morning as I read the newest Facebook status updates, I saw where many were sharing what they were giving up for Lent. Others were sharing the beginnings of Lenten Devotionals along with where and when Ash Wednesday services would be taking place today and this evening. Then, I head on over to Wednesday morning bible study where the question was asked; “Lent. What does it mean?”

“Lent. What does it mean?”  Some of the answers from our group were it is a time of giving up something. One group member shared an idea from Christian author, Angela Thomas where Angela puts a bowl of flour out on the table.  Then, she has her children to write the name of a person they need to forgive or something they need to be forgiven for. Once they write this in the flour, they take their hands and wipe it out. This is a beautiful symbol of showing how Christ’s death on the cross wiped our slates clean. Others shared how they have come to find it a time of doing daily Random Acts of Kindness.

As I listened to these thoughts on Lent, my wheels were turning. I began to think of when we celebrate the New Year coming in and how we all make resolutions. We look at the new year as a time of renewal and fresh starts. Lent is very much like the New Year coming in. For me, Lent is not just about giving up, or daily acts of kindness but it is a time for taking inventory and renewing my walk with Christ.

In the days ahead, I will reflect on my Christian walk. In this reflection, I will asking myself the following questions and talking to God how and where I need to improve. The questions that I will be asking myself are:

Where am I on my Christian walk? Is God calling me to take a new direction?

How can I strengthen my faith?

What things are in my life that are getting in the way of my walk with God?

Where do I need to make changes to better serve God?

How can I demonstrate what God is doing in my life?

Where is God working where I can join Him?

These questions are only the beginning of me taking inventory. Throughout the Lenten Season, I am sure that there will be more questions that God will place on my heart for reflection and conversation with Him. It is through this inventory process that I gain new perspective and  a better understanding of my Creator who is always walking with me not just on good days but even in those seasons of life where I, myself feel like I am wondering in the wilderness.

Lent. What does Lent mean to you?

Blessings-

He IS One of Us

"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork." Psalm 19:1

One of my passions is music. I love to listen to all genres of music. When I listen to music, I listen closely to the lyrics. The lyrics  can tell you about the artist who is performing the piece, and there’s a message in the midst of the song.

How close do you listen to the lyrics of a song?

There is one song that has been over the airways for quite a while that I continue to struggle with the lyrics. The song is One of Us sung by Joan Osbourne. Some of the lyrics are:

If God had a name what would you call him?

If he had a face what would it look like?

What if God was one of us?

If you could ask him one question what would it be?

When I hear these lyrics, I cringe. I cringe because these lyrics tell me that there are many people out there who are lost. They question God’s true existence. It is evident that they don’t recognize that God is in every fiber of existing in this world.

Do you always agree with the lyrics you hear?

For me, I have answers to these questions. You may or may not agree with my thinking.

 If God had a name what would you call him?  God does not have only one name but he has many names. He is  known as Yahweh, El Shaddi, Father and Adonai to name a few. As I began doing some research prior to writing this post, I came across the site, smilegodlovesyou.org . On this site, there is a long list of names for God along with reference to the scriptures of where you will find that particular name. I encourage you to travel over to this site and check out the many beautiful names for God. For me personally, God’s sweet name is Yahweh,  Heavenly Father, and  Adonai.

Eye of God Nebula

If God had a face what would it look like?  Did you get up this morning and look into the mirror, sat at the table with your loved ones for a meal, or encountered many people throughout your day? Guess what, that image in the mirror, the loved ones at your table and those many people you encountered throughout the day, are what God looks like. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.”Genesis 1: 27) No one has ever seen the actual face of God but every day we see his image in every person we look at including ourselves.

What if God was one of us? Guess what? He IS one of us! God sent his Son (John 3:16), Jesus to walk among the human race. Jesus was God’s gift to the world to let the world know that they are loved.  He came to show the world a better way of living.  God lives today. He lives in the hearts of those who have accepted his Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior (ah-hh another name for God).  God is the creator and ruler over all the earth.  For me, that is evidence enough that he is one of us.

If you had one question what would you ask him?  We all laugh and say we are going to add certain questions to our list to ask God upon our arrival in heaven. However, when we arrive in heaven, we will have all the answers we need and the list will be wadded up and thrown away. I have a feeling that the very moment we cross that veil from earthly life to eternity, all questions and doubts will be taken away.  Yes, we like to question God and we do question God during life’s events but the end result to our questions is that we must trust God. We must place our hand in his and allow him to take the lead in our lives without question. All that is important for us to know is that God is the Almighty. “I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who IS and was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Mark Lowry shares in one of his comedy routines of how his mom calls in at a radio talk show where Madolyn Murray Ohare (“the woman who had God kicked out of school”) was being interviewed and she took Ms. O’Hare “from Genesis all the way through to the maps” in her witness. Today, I have taken you from Genesis to Revelation in my thoughts on this particular song.  But, I leave you with my personal lyrics of testimony.

Yes, God has a name. He is my Adonai, my heavenly Father and the list goes on.

Yes, I know what God looks like. I see the beauty of his image in my family, friends and those I encounter each and every day.

Yes, I know God is one of us. He is the homeless person I have served at the homeless shelter. He is the child who needs a little help with his confidence. God is my neighbor next door. He lives in my heart and the hearts of fellow Christians. It is his Son, Jesus, who is one of us and always among us.-

Yes, life happens. When life happens I want to  question God and sometimes I  doubt. But, it is not the answers to the questions that matter, it is the willingness to trust and walk one step at a time with my God, Father and Adonai. All I need to know is that he IS the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. 

YES! God IS one of us! He is our Creator!

Blessings

What To Wear

Words

What do you wear?  Are you into the latest fashions? Or, maybe you are a person who has to match from head to toe. Stop and think for a moment your style and what you wear day in and day out.

No matter what your personal style may be, there is one thing we must all put on as we dress for our day. This garment is  Christ. When you put on Christ you are putting on encouragement, love, grace and all  the beauty of Christ. By putting on Christ each day, means that our mindset must be that of Christ.

To be in the mindset of Christ, not only means to demonstrate Christ throughout our day by our actions but most importantly it means to be mindful of the words we speak. Yes, our words can tell people right away what is in our heart and spirit. The words we speak can be seen as beauty, grace, love, compassion, and the list can go on. Or, our words can really send strong messages of negativity, bitterness,  an unforgiving spirit, a life of emptiness and/or brokenness.

As I wrote in my post, Tell Me Something Good…Well, I’m Tellin’ Ya I share about the uplifting and inspirational movie, Joyful Noise.  The one scene that I  appreciated seeing was Queen Latifa’s character, Vi, confronting her daughter, Olivia, in an argument. In the midst of this confrontation, Olivia lets a few choice words fly out of her mouth. I love Vi’s come back to her daughter in regards to what had just been said. Vi lets a few words fly and then says; “I can cuss, too. How pretty does it look?!”  Good point. How do we look when we use choice words that are really not attractive?

In a world of hurt, constant negativity, and verbal bashing that takes place in the real world and on television, we as Christians need to take a stand. We need to stand up and show the beauty of Christ.  Along with showing the beauty of Christ, we need to let others see the beautiful person God created us to be. We can do this with our words. I remember how one of  our former bishops would address the people as he would take the pulpit. Bishop James King would always say; “Hello, you beautiful people of Kentucky.” Needless to say, he exemplified God’s beauty in not only in his  address but the beauty of Christ in his life. These  words that he spoke made each person in the congregation smile and feel good about themselves.

The choice is ours.  As we dress for the day whether it is in the latest fashions or making sure we match from head to toe, let us be sure that we put on the mind of Christ and keep on throughout the day.          I Corinthians 2:16 gives us these instructions; For ‘who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.  May we not only clothe ourselves with the words from 1 Corinthians but also dress ourselves daily with these words from Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable  in Your sight;

O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

May our daily words not only be acceptable to God but let them show the beauty of Christ at work in our lives.  Out of that beauty of Christ at work in our lives comes words of  encouragement, grace, love and compassion to name a few. Wear God’s beautiful words of life.

Love In Action

Three Generations of Hawkins Men: Jim, Sr. Jim, Jr. and Drew

In the summer of 1983, I met a very special man. One of my first encounters with this special man was he offered me a peach freshly picked up from the Farmer’s Market. Not only did he offer me a peach but he peeled it for me. All I had to do was sit there and  enjoy the sweetness of the peach and the conversation that came with it.

Over time, I have experienced many special encounters of this man. He is a man of few words but of a lot of action. When you are at his home, regardless of how much you offer to help out, he is always insistent to take care of you.

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I have watched this man plant and harvest a garden for 29 years of my life.  Through the harvest of the garden, my family has enjoyed wonderful fellowship around the table as we savor the rewards of this gardener’s work. Along with the rewards of the seeds planted in Spring, I see rewards of seeds sown throughout this man’s family. You see these rewards on the faces of his family and friends as the freshly picked and cooked vegetables are passed around the table.

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On many occasions, he will spend countless hours at the church he loves up on ladders fixing electrical issues, changing light bulbs or helping other men with outside maintenance of the church grounds. As a matter of fact, not long after his first surgery of finding out he had cancer, he was out with the men digging a trench and filling it with concrete to resolve a water issue on the church grounds.

There is not a room in my house that I do not go in without thinking of this special man. Each light, light switch, and outlet has his name on it. You see, when we decided to build our home, he offered his time and talent to wire our home. At night, I can look out back to the little workshop that my husband uses and see a light on. Again, I am reminded of this special guy because he made it possible for my husband to have electricity in his shed. Then, I am reminded that he is a man of light. Not only does he know how to make light physically shine in a home but he lets his light and love for Christ shine through his actions.

He has volunteered on many mission building trips. Again, creating light and shining his light all the while. This man has also been honored to be in the presence of our Former President, Jimmy Carter where he heard President Carter teach Sunday School. This happened not only once in his life time but twice.

When you are in this man’s presence, you are with a man of few words. He is a leader by example. In the 29 years I have known him, I have never heard a swear word spoken instead words of wisdom and love are spoken. I have never seen a beer can or alcoholic drink in his hand but I have seen him have a good time with a diet coke, cup of coffee and moon pie in his hand. In other words, he is a man who walks his talk and is Christ-like love in action.

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The real privilege of knowing this man is that I married his son. Because of the walk and words unspoken in his son’s growing up, my husband, Jim is a true follower of his dad’s footsteps. I see the results of seeds of love, wisdom, caring for others and love in action being carried out just as his dad has taught him. Again, I have the honor to reap the benefits of seeds sown by this gardener and lights wired to shine through the years.

This special guy has three wonderful grandchildren who love and adore him. And, as they have become adults, I see them picking up the seed sacks of love and sharing them as their granddaddy has shown them. Again, it is not words of love spoken but it is the action of love that have taught his grandchildren to love their neighbor.

Bryan, Bethany and Drew

The guy I share about is Jim Hawkins, Sr, my father-n-law. A little over a year ago, we learned he has one of the  deadliest of lung cancers, mesothelioma. Since this news came to our family, he again has taught us through his actions. Each day he shows us the importance of prayer and allowing others to pray for you. Jim, Sr. demonstrates the word of not giving up but keep on keeping on as long as you can. Along with being an example of prayer life and perseverance, he has taught us to capture every moment of every day.

Yes, a little over a year ago, Jim, Sr. got the most devastating news a person could get. But, this bit of news has not stopped  him. This past summer he planted his garden. Jim and I now enjoy corn that is in our freezer that was planted, picked,  cooked and frozen by Jim Sr.’s hands. Last Memorial Day, he got to go once again to Gatlinburg with his family to enjoy the Gaither Family Festival. Tickets, reservations and plans are already set for another special Memorial  weekend with family and friends in Gatlinburg.

Jim, Sr enjoying his traditional chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Factory in Gatlinburg, TN

This morning, I opened my bible to 1 Peter 5:2-4 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted  to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  For me, this scripture describes the kind of man Jim Hawkins, Sr is to me and what he has taught his family to be in their walk.

What a challenge we are all given by men like Jim, Sr and through this scripture. As Christians we have been commissioned to be shepherds of God’s flock. It is my prayer that each day we are a love in action.

Blessings

*This post is dedicated to Jim Hawkins, Sr for the legacy of love he has taught and continues to teach.

Don’t Feed The Dragon

Dragon Green

All of us a familiar with the dragon. At some point and time we have experienced his fire. We have also helped him with the fire that he spits out. And, as you know, when he spits fire, everything around him burns.

This dragon is better known as gossip. Yes, most of us have been the subject of gossip at some point and time. We have also helped in the gossip pool by joining in and giving our input. Or,we take what we have heard and share our interpretation of the story.

As we participate in gossip, we are the fire of the dragon. The more we participate in gossip the more we  allow others around us to burn with the fire. And, sometimes the fire burns so much that there is no way to repair the damage that has been done.

Proverbs 11:13 says; “A  gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”  We all know both types of people. There are those who you can confide in and they will take the information to the grave before revealing what they know. Then, there are others we know that we are best just not saying anything to at all. Along with not confiding in those who can’t keep a secret, we must learn to take what they say with a grain of salt. It is important that we remember that some things get lost in translation which can even make the dragon blow even more fire and destroying more in its path.

Each day we are faced with the  dragon. This dragon may be in the carpool group, work settings, school and the list of where we are exposed to the dragon goes on. It is important that we start our day out in prayer with God asking him not only to guide our steps but to guide our thoughts and words. Yes, there will even  be times where the dragon will disguise himself and you don’t realize you have fed him until the fire begins spitting out. Thus,we must also ask God to give us discernment and wisdom to what we hear.

My advice/encouragement for today is simply this; “don’t feed the dragon!”  Place these words from Proverbs 26:20 on your heart.

Without wood a fire goes out;

without gossip a quarrel dies down.

Blessings

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