Tag Archives: woman’s work

THE AUDACIOUS WOMAN

Woman-RoaringDo you know who Helen Reddy is?  She and Ray Burton composed the song that became the anthem of  the  Women’s Liberation Movement [Women’s Lib] in the 1970s.  The song expresses the collective feelings and attitudes of women who were experiencing an emergence of female empowerment.  It was a time of social consciousness about important “women’s issues, ” such as whether to continue to be a traditional “stay-at-home mom” or work outside the home, to be satisfied with the usual nurturing occupations that  women were expected to practice  or to  enter male- dominated professions that would cause them to challenge and seek to pierce the invisible but real “glass ceiling.” Women burned bras in public gatherings as a symbol of  female liberation from the restrictions of their contemporary society, often singing  Helen Reddy’s  song.  Here are the lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

As you embrace this audacious spirit, consider this acronym:

{W }    –     WONDER-FULL

Are you full of wonders,  doing things that  amaze others and yourself

{ O   }  –      ONE-of-a- kind,  OUTSTANDING

By the way,  what do you know about yourself?

What distinguishes you from every other woman on this planet?  Is there anybody

else  exactly like you?  Shouldn’t be! Not  even your biological child or identical twin!

{  M }     –    MAJESTIC

Do you walk in a regality that calms troubled waters. Are problems more

manageable just because you are in charge?

{   A  }   –     ANGELIIC

Do you  have a close and  direct connection to God so that you operate in either the

heavenly/spiritual or the nether /earthly world as He directs

{ N  }   –     NATURAL, NATURE MADE

Do you treat yourself as a  a divine creation , as made by divine hands with natural /

earthly materials.

Reminds  you of Women’s History Month, you say?  Good deduction.  How apropos!

Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of history.

Let’s go all the way back to the “Let there be’s” in the first chapter of Genesis where we learn that God created light and sky and water and sea and moon and stars and day and  night and  fish and birds and animals.

God spoke many things into existence in the verses of Genesis 1:

2 – LET THERE BE LIGHT

6   – let there be a firmament/sky

9   –  Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place  [SEAS]  and let dry

land appear

14  –  Let there be lights in the firmament  [sun and moon]

20  –  Let waters bring forth every abundantly moving creatures  [fish, birds ]

24  –  Let earth bring forth every living creature after his kind  [animals]

26   –  Let us make man after our image

29  –  God even talks/speaks to the man after  he has made him,  giving him dominion over his entire creation

Yes!  God begins and ends his creative activity  in chapter 1 by speaking and then he rests.

BUT  notice  in in chapter 2,  God  creates by doing .  First we learn in verse 8 that he plants a garden  eastward in Eden, rather than speaking   it into existence.   When he sees man’s  solitary condition ,  he observes in verse 18 that it is NOT good – – everything else has been “good”  and “very good” – –  that  man should be alone, he acts.  In verses 21-22,   God performs the  first recorded surgery in the history of the world by making a woman from Adam’s rib.  Note that God takes special care in making this woman whom Adam will name Eve.  She is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalms 139:14]  Here is a striking comparison:   At the beginning of history, God FORMED  Eve and she became the most notably renowned woman in the Old Testament, the mother of natural mankind.   Eons later, the angel announced that God CHOSE Mary and she became the most notably renowned woman in the New Testament,  the true mother of spiritual mankind.

I am proud to be in the lineage of these two women.

Therefore, I make this declaration audaciously and in the spirited fervor of Helen Reddy’s sentiments:

HEAR KLARA SHANNON HADLEY ROAR!

Increasingly, I watch and celebrate as more of my beloved friends and “chosen” family members march triumphantly into eternal happiness.

 And increasingly, I commiserate with a few loved ones who limp – – either in torturously agonizing pain or in medically induced insensateness- – – across the final goal line.

How ever way my own last footfall will be, I say, Even so, come Lord Jesus. [Revelation 22:20]

THEREFORE, BE IT WIDELY KNOWN by all in this universe who are under the sound and influence of my voice:

My hope is firmly and unalterably founded, grounded, established, constructed and built in/on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Apostle Paul’s confident assertion is mine also: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

[Philippians 1:21]

I will never die while Jesus lives

N O W

What about you?  What is your declaration about your uniqueness?

Are you a WOMAN  –  wonder-full, outstanding, majestic, angelic, natural?   Are you audacious?  Let the world hear your ROAR!

GO forth now, WOMAN!

ROAR THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY THIS WEEK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLENDED FOCI for F E B R U A R Y

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Blending the focus of the Month of Love with the focus of the Month  of  Black History, what do you get?  You get another question: What is there about your  deep ancestry , your present circumstances,  your future expectations that you love? For all of us who are believers,  love is the key to our time and experience – – past,  present and future.  God’s love for us is the key  – – for his giving his only son as ransom for us; for his only Son,  Jesus,  enduring crucifixion for us;  for the Holy Spirit abiding with us, reminding us, showing us how to appropriate the unconditional love  of our Heavenly Father.  We, believers, can say in the words of the familiar hymn:

Love lifted me!  love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

LOVE LIFTED ME!

Sharpening  this blended focus, we can think of our collective ancestry past – – the fortitude of the elders during the searing tumult they dealt with as they experienced the  middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow , the civil rights era, desegregation.  In deference,  we must pause to offer a PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING  for what God brought us through as the Black Race.  Let us pause now for a sanctified moment and offer a prayer for covering for you as you navigate these treacherous waters that we call life interactions:

As you  traverse the worlds within your sphere of existence:

At home , in personal relationships with family and friends

At your place of worship, your sacred space

At your place of employment, however you find yourself in the professional arena whatever/whoever occupies that space in your life right now

Go in the spirit of  Job 23:10  – When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

And of Romans 8:28  –  All things work together for  good to them that love God,

to them who are the called according to his purpose.  This is our prayer.

Looking again, what can we see through this blended focus about our present, collective status as “African Americans”?  We see a race problem.  We see insightfully that our present existence in this country is an  amalgamation,  a “mixed bag.”  That is,  we , self-identified black folks who now call ourselves  African Americans,  are in the process of combining with other “Place-name  Americans”   into a unified or INTEGRATED whole.   The coalescing has begun with such other  groupings as Native American,  Hispanic and European.  Let the process accelerate  until  every citizen of this country takes pride in the same place of origin, this sacred soil of these united states.  ONE nation,  indivisible,  under GOD!  The challenge for us in our time is to enhance this more comprehensive  vision of brotherhood.  In other words,  all the peoples who live in this “land of the free” must  come together, cohering,  as “United States-ans.”   After all, we are the country of UNITED STATES on the continent of North America.   In fact ,  there exists a geographical Central America and a geographical South America.  There are even other sections of North America.  [e.g., Canada]  We, who reside in the United States, are not the only Americans.  We are the United States OF  [the continent of ]   America. Our challenge in this present era is to assert this corrective fact.   It is our herculean task to change the descriptive self-identification of citizens of this country to the true description  of  its legal residents:  United Statesans .  To be sure, we must pray for divine guidance and assistance  in order for this generation to achieve such a “sea-change” of our national self –identity,  yet with God all things are possible.  [Mark 10:27]

Yes, currently,  we do have a “race problem.”  It will be fully dissolved in the future when we achieve the seamlessness of  complete  integration.  It will be a  time that  Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr.  longed to see  when individuals  will be judged “by  the content of their character.”  It will be a time when persons will not be judged by their geographical origin but by all  the  intrinsic value that each person has  because we all exist on the this planet.  What’s love got to do with this kind of existence?  Our past?  Our present?  Our future?  The answer:  much, indeed!

LOVE WILL GIVE US STRENGTH FROM THE PAST.

LOVE WILL SUSTAIN US IN THE PRESENT.

LOVE WILL BE US HOPE FOR THE FUTURE,  FOR OUR TOMORROW.

God has put hope in each of us and has given us  the Word that supports our hope:  Listen:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out  in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.   Romans 5:5

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart all ye that hope in the Lord.  Psalms  31:24

Hope thou in God.   Psalm 42:5, 11

Pray God’s  words back to him.   He loves that.  He says, in Isaiah 43:26,  put me in remembrance .  Do it right now.

Say to him – – You are my hope, O Lord God. Psalm 71:5

Say – –   I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.  Psalm 71:14

Say – –  You are my hiding place and my shield; but I hope in your word.  Psalm 119:114

This emphasis on hope brings us back to the last verse of the “Love Chapter”

[1 Corinthians13:13]  where hope is listed as one of the three abiding entities, faith and love are the other two.

Yes,  MY FRIEND,   my prayer for you today  is that you will rest in your hope.

I also  pray in the words of 1 Peter 3:15 that you will sanctify the Lord in your heart and be ready to give a defence/an explanation to everyone/anyone who asks you  a reason for the hope that is in you .   Answer  them in the lyrics of  James Rowe:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,

Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise  no more.

But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves.

He will lift you by his love out of the angry waves.

He’s the Master of the sea;  billows His will obey.

He your Savior wants to be – – b e saved today.

Love lifted me!

Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

LOVE LIFTED ME!

A benediction from Romans 15:13 for your journey,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing

that  you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit !

 

 

 

On Keeping . . . S I L E N C E . . .

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH is still eminently relevant to the collective psyche of the citizens of this country, the United States of America.  During this season of remembrance, we acknowledge the excruciation of  the  struggles  and imbibe the elixir of the successes of our African American ancestors.   One salient and continual purpose of Black History month is to teach/ remind ourselves of the “coping strength” of our elders:  How they “got over”  their physical and mental impediments  – – slavery, discrimination, hardships, beatings, and other well-documented atrocities.  I submit that prayer was their first line of defense – – the through line to victory from the dark,  brutal  days of Sojourner Truth to the hard-won enlightenment of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can benefit greatly from focusing on pray-ING, the “coping strength”  that our elders relied upon to sustain them in their noble efforts.  I submit, further, that often  SILENCE is our best usher into prayer.  Maintaining silence in the face of adversity can be  the ultimate demonstration/ utilization of meekness  – – strength under pressure.  In fact, earnest prayer often comes from  pressure, patience and perseverance.  Force yourself to keep silence despite a rash desire to rant; instead let patience have her perfect work in you,  for patience is the very  foundation for your cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is faith under pressure.  Keep silence until you hear the instructions of the Lord.  The psalmist speaks about this:

I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me.   But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside.  Then at last I spoke with God.   Psalm 39:1-3 

Follow the example of the psalmist and other scriptural recommendations:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

. . . A time to keep silence,  and  a time to speak           Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b  

But the Lord is in His holy temple:

Let all the earth keep silence before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Out of fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks — Luke 6:45

At this point, the psalmist speaks from the deeply private issue of his heart : his journey through this world  –  his time of existence on earth – –

 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man!  Frail as breath!  A shadow!  And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.   And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.   Save me from being overpowered by my sins, for even fools will mock me then.   Lord, I am speechless before you.  I will not open my mouth to speak one word of complaint, for my punishment is from you.  Psalm 39 vv. 4-13 , NLT

The psalmist ends his prayer feeling comfortably confident that his only hope is in God whose control he can securely trust.

Follow, again, the psalmist’s example:   Feel the prompting that will come  from restraining your  impulsivity while allowing the Holy Spirit to “word your mouth.” Acts 2:4 tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then He will give us utterance.  In other words, your perseverance in silence will lead you to pray insightfully   to our Heavenly Father  about whatever matter is tugging at your heart.  I urge you to follow the spirit of your encounter with God and pray aloud.

This sincere meditation and prayer came forth out of the fullness of the psalmist’s heart.   What  will  come  from  yours ?

MAY YOU GO FORTH ON YOUR JOURNEY TODAY

IN THE C O P I N G    S T R E N G T H 

OF THIS ENCOUNTER !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TIME FOR L O V E

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Valentine’s Day! Yes, love is in the air, on the web, definitely in the stores. At this time our cultural awareness impels most of us – – believers and non-believers alike– to embrace the same affinity – -LOVE. By consensus, no one expresses the expansiveness of one person’s love for another human being better than Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here her rhetorical question and answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Anyone who is the object of such well-spoken affection –whoever he/she may be—must be over-flabbergasted to receive it. Wouldn’t you be? And what about the author? From what well of expressive largess does such deep emotion spring? Phenomenal!

Lest we get too absorbed in Elizabeth Browning’s titillating expression of her love for her beloved husband, Robert Browning – –
and
Lest we overspend our time , examining our own personal coterie of special friends searching for THE one person upon whom we will dotingly lavish such exalted expression – –

Before we become so engrossed – -this seems to me to be a good time to recall the admonition of Apostle Paul: Don’t be conformed to the world. He reminds us that believers are to think differently. [Romans 12:1-2] Therefore, let us renew our minds about the topic of love. Ever wonder how many times the word LOVE appears in the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about love? To begin with, notice that he explains how God, himself, set the example for demonstrating love, for Jesus asserts in John 3:16 that God “S O” loved the world that he gave. Here, love motivates God, the lover of mankind, to give his best gift to the loved ones. This
“S O” kind of love: That is deeply profound, too much love for most of us. And it is indiscriminate! Don’t we find it acceptably easier to love some persons more than others? What about those we “feed with a long-handled spoon” because hey have hurt us? And how about those whom we just lump together as “people”? Is he saying – – same degree of love motivation for all persons? What about the “less fortunate”? Isn’t targeted financial beneficence enough for “these people”? Won’t giving of our finances – -especially if we add portions of our time and talents – -to charitable organizations satisfy the world’s standards? Maybe.

According to James, however, believers must fulfill the requirements of the “royal law.” He insists:

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2: 8-9]

Believers must satisfy this royal law by loving SO much in the spirit of the love demonstrated by God as referred to above. We must exhibit the “S O ” kind of love to our neighbor. WHO, THEN, IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A neighbor is anyone we discover or who comes into our path and who can benefit from our personal attention and/or largess.

Yes, love is a basic Christian tenet. Jesus even summarizes the entire Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] as LOVE: love God and love your neighbor. [Matthew 22:36-38] A neighbor is anyone we can love by giving, by sharing.

Jesus teaches this essence in his parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-27], where a traveler interrupts his journey to attend to the needs of a severely beaten person whom he encounters. He gives compassion, time, resources and finance to someone in need whom he does not know. In a few words, he loves. Isn’t Jesus teaching here again, that believers must extend/give their love indiscriminately to our neighbors? And that we must love each neighbor with the same kind of love we have for ourselves?

Further, Jesus teaches us about this kind of neighborly sharing in his parable about a feast in which the host sends messengers out into the “neighborhood” to convince unlikely attendees to come enjoy his hospitality. The host prepares to share with others by: sending out save the date notices, making preparations, then when all things were ready, issuing the formal invitation. Consider this host’s determination to share as recorded in Luke 14:22-24:

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

But even more instructive for me concerning sharing is Jesus’ parable about the Rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from to us. 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Lazarus was in the rich man’s neighborhood. But the rich man ignored Lazarus. Forget about his inviting Lazarus to dine sufficiently with him , this rich man didn’t even offer Lazarus the CRUMBS from his sumptuous table. Certainly the rich man had enough and to spare. He seems more bloated with insensitivity than with food.

What about us ? Are we equally as insensitive of those in our neighborhood who would be satisfied with the crumbs from OUR tables? I will admit that giving the “S O” kind of love requires the spiritual fortitude to which some of us believers still aspire. However, we can make the intermediate step that will lead us toward that hallowed state. For now, let’s just focus on the table in the parable: the overflow of crumbs. What about the table God has set before each of us? Are there crumbs that a neighbor would gratefully receive? Do we have enough to share? If we have anything at all – –money, time, talent, influence, whatever- – then we have enough to share! We do!

Now the question is for me and for you: What are you doing with YOUR crumbs?

Finally, let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will guide us to those in our neighborhood to whom we can demonstrate our love by sharing.

My friend, on your journey this week, may you dare to love your neighbor by sharing , even if only the crumbs!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

S&S Call Encounter Notes: Childhood Faith

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CHILDHOOD FAITH

. . . a little child shall lead them . . . Isaiah 11:6

We are moving increasingly into the Christmas season.  Christmas is simply about children.  Think about the children in your life and what Christmas means to them.  How will they celebrate Christmas?  What is important to them during this season that is observed worldwide?  Think about yourself as a child growing up – –  your young, pre-teen, pre-adult years.   What did you expect to do?  What did you do?   Was it a time of family?  Fellowship? Faith?  Whisper a prayer for a recall of  your childhood Christmas memories – – no matter  whether especially pleasant or especially painful. Ask God to bring them back to your remembrance.  Then ask him, appropriately, to recapture the happiness  or/and  to release the hurt.

God is surely able to make all things work together for your good and give you some memories  to share.  [Romans 8:28 and Psalm 45:1]  Yes, Christmas is about children, for they  are an heritage/blessing from the Lord.   [Psalm 127:3]

Note, again,  . . .  a little child shall lead them . . .

Know that in our family, we believe that the infant son who was born in Bethlehem over two thousand  years ago to the young virgin Mary and her espoused husband, Joseph, was actually the son of God who came to earth to bring reclamation, reconciliation and restoration to the broken bond of love between God and his beloved creation.  Therefore,  in the spirit of Proverbs 22:6 and in terms that she could understand, we trained our daughter from babyhood in this belief.  We told her the story of the birth of Jesus.  we sang such songs as these:

Jesus, Jesus!  O what a wonderful child! Jesus, Jesus! So tender meek and mild.

New life, and hope to all he brings.. Listen to the angels sing:

Glory!  Glory!  Glory to the new born King!

And this one:

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;

things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here!

Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,

stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children stood  ’round His knee,

and I shall fancy His blessing resting on me.

Words full of kindness, deeds of grace

all in the lovelight of Jesus’ face.

Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,

waving a branch of the palm trees high in my hand.

One of His heralds, yes, I would sing

Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

Yes,   we wanted her to know that Christmas is about the birth of a special child.  Still, we were happily surprised about two weeks before Christmas when our probably seven year-old daughter created a nativity scene – – right there in our family room!  Such a precious memory!  Hear now about a time she put her childhood faith into action.

A Christmas Story  –  Daughter’s First Nativity Scene

“Daddy, Come and see the place I have made in the den to represent the birth of the Baby Jesus!”  she said, tugging on her father’s arm.  Curious, her daddy obligingly went and looked.  “See Baby Jesus, on his blanket?  He’s smiling at us!”  Her daddy looked.  What he saw was Phillip, her beige teddy bear, lying on her favorite yellow baby blanket.  What he said was, “That’s nice, sweetheart.”  “Stay here, Daddy.  Sit down for a minute.”

Daughter ran to the kitchen.  “Mama, come and see how I have helped you this Christmas.”  Mama lowered the fire under her pots and followed her excited daughter into the den.  “See, Mama, I have made the creche for you so you won’t have to make it this year.”  “How very helpful of you, Baby,”  her Mama said,  smiling widely.

“Wait right here, Mama.  I’ll be right back.”  Daughter ran to her Grandmother’s room, where she found her reading her giant print Bible.  “Grandma,  bring your Bible into the den for a minute.”  Then, she gently helped her grandmother walk slowly to the den where her Daddy and Mama were still waiting, chatting about their daughter’s creativity.  “Grandma,  look at Baby Jesus!”  she exclaimed.  Grandma looked then hugged her grandbaby and kissed her on both cheeks, pronouncing Phillip “the best Baby Jesus she had ever seen in her life!”

Pleased that her family endorsed this place of honor that she gave to her most cherished companion, Daughter was proud of her effort – -why she had even brushed Philip’s  fur, polished his eyes and smoothed the wrinkles in his plaid bow tie to get him ready for his special duty station.  Finally, the kiss she had given him seemed to leave his face fixed in an innocent smile.

She said, “Let’s sing Silent Night!”   Next, came the highlight for her first nativity scene:  «Daddy will will you read the story of the birth of Jesus from Grandma’s Bible?”  Of course he complied, reading from the second chapter of Luke with special emphasis and humility.

Then she said, knowing how they all would be blessed, “Grandma, will you pray a Christmas prayer for us and for all the children everywhere?”   Grandma cleared her throat in a second and began talking to her dear Lord.  She thanked him for her family, especially her precious granddaughter, and she pronounced blessings on children everywhere.  All eyes were misty by the time she said,  “Amen!”

This experience  deepened our “grown-folks” understanding that Christmas is about childhood faith.  Because of our daughter, that same nativity scene- -Phillip and all – – became a part of our Christmas observance each year, even when the family moved to a city over six hundred miles away.  After we established the tradition , anyone and everyone who came into our home at Christmastime must pay respects to the nativity scene.  Our faith is in God.  We nourish our faith by standing/meditating  on the word of God.  As David asserts [Psalm 119:105] the Word of God  guides our footfalls on life’s journey and God is always available as our refuge, strength, and help in times of distress. [ Psalm 46:1-2]

Most of all , Christmas is about love:  God’s love for us and our love for him.  A little child knows God loves him:   Yes Jesus loves me!   Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so!  [Luke 18:16]

Because we all are children of God [Romans 8:16 and 1 John 3:10], we  should praise  Him with the same devoted enthusiasm as little children:

I am so glad that my Father in heav’n

tells of His love in the book He has giv’n.

Wonderful things in the Bible I see – –

this is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. 

Tho I forget Him and wander away,

Still He doth love me wherever I stray.

Back to His dear loving arms I would flee

when I remember that Jesus loves me.

 

O if there’s only one song I can sing

when in His beauty I see the great King,

this shall my song in eternity be:

O what a wonder that Jesus  loves me.

 

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!

Jesus loves even me!

As you think of the depth of your love for Jesus the Christ, whose entrance into human history we celebrate duringt this season, I invite you to adapt the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s  poem,  “How Do I Love Thee?”  Think of Jesus and say to him:  “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  Finally, I invite you to listen to our playlist  during the next days and re-kindle your own love for Jesus the Christ.

May the Holy Spirit  make your journey through this season melodious!

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: FRIENDS

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Who are your friends?  Do you actually like them?  Do you even love them sometimes?   The Bible says we should love them at all times.  [Proverbs 17:17]  You and I are friends;  we are a special kind of friends.  We are the kind of friends that Jesus talks about, those who keep his commandments.  [John15:14]  What is his basic commandment in this context:  that we love one another as he has loved us.  [John15:12]  Remember, he gave his life for us- -the ultimate sacrifice!  In fact, in Jesus says there is no greater love than this:  that a person would give up her life for her friend.  [John 15:13]   Loving as Jesus loved- -putting your life on the line for your friends – – is the best way to love.  Although this kind of love probably will  not demand your physical life, it may demand, at various inopportune times, your talent, your time , and your treasure.  Nevertheless,  friends are unselfish; they help each other.

A friend who is strong in a certain area helps her friend who is weak — in that same area– to bear her infirmities, her burdens.  [Romans 15:1]  More poignantly, a “strong” friend discerns when a “weak” friend needs some “coming alongside” strength.  There is nothing wrong with being especially discerning about the welfare of a friend.  Apostle Paul encourages friends, as we have opportunity, to do good to all persons, especially those who are of the household of faith.  [Galatians 6:10]  According to another version of the same scripture:  Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people who are closest to us in the community of faith.  [Message]  In my own words,  As we have opportunity, as it comes to our attention, let us care for/do good unto those who are our acquaintances, especially those who travel with us on this journey, those who are believers.  The Amplified   version says it best: 

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do

good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable

to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and

advantage].  Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of

the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with

you, the believers].

As, friends, we are sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but we are not all strong or all weak at the same time.

From this background, may I solicit your personal intercession for some friends who are weak right now?  They are “going through some thing” and they need some “come alongside” strength.  I present to you these groups of our friends:

Group #1   –  A mother and father whose exhilarated happiness upon the

birth of their first child has been tempered by learning that

their infant son faces severe developmental issues

Group #2    –  A family concerned for a seasoned educator and local doyen

who lost her house and all of its contents because of a

kitchen fire.  She was unharmed, physically.

Group #3   –   Two young entrepreneurs, each of whom has stepped out on

her faith and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to start

her own business

Group #4    –   Two friends, each working while waiting for God to move

definitively as they consider/make their career/life choices

Group #5    –   Three friends who are dealing with family issues regarding

the health and the death of treasured loved ones

Group #6    =   Friends who are dealing with addictions

[Addiction  –  any thing/ person/ activity that takes our

time,  attention, and talent away from the things of God]

Praise God for your intercession and his faithfulness!

As you walk with the Lord today,  be  a  friend !

S&S Call Encounter Notes: On HEARING

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WHAT’S  IN YOUR EAR?

Some people make things happen.  They deliberately arrange situations, persons and things to achieve  a desirable result.  Are you hearing what you have deliberately chosen to hear?

Other people let things happen.   They are either critically inattentive to  what they are hearing or they decide to receive/allow it unchallenged into their consciousness.  Are you merely  hearing  “white noise”?

The last group of people “don’t even know” what is happening!  They are consciously as well as subconsciously oblivious to any noise at all.   Are you unaware of subliminal messages and their effect upon your consciousness?

WHAT’S IN YOUR SPIRITUAL EAR?

Four times in Revelation, Jesus Christ issues the imperative:  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  Is he talking to you?  Yes, he is!  Scripture refers, metaphorically, to each believer as a temple/ a church.  Consider

I Corinthians 3:16:  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,  and that the Spirit dwelleth in you?  Also 1 Corinthians 6:19:  Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? [Message]  Even more convincingly,  Jesus, himself, tells us in John 6:63 that:  The words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.  He even politely asks to converse with you, for in Revelation3: 20,  he says:  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man [a] hear my voice and [b] open the door,  I [c] will come in, and [d] will sup with him, and he with me.

Can you arrange your schedule so that you will be available and attentive to hear the  words of Jesus as you sup/dine with him?  He states in John 6:34;  I am the bread of life.  Both Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:11 imply  that the bread is available daily.  You can be assured that you will receive the amount and kind of bread each day to carry you through the circumstances/situation of that day.  For example, if you need to feel loved, hear the words of John 3:16:  For God so loved [put your name here] that he gave his only begotten son.  Or if you are feeling discouraged, encourage yourself as did David at Ziklag. [1 Samuel 30:6]   Or if you are facing dire adversity, walk around in the book of Psalms substituting your particular issue for the word  trouble [sample footings are  Psalms 9:9,   25:17,   27:5,  46:1,  119: 143-4]   Or if you need healing  [Isaiah 55:3,  Exodus 15:26,  1 Peter  2:24]  Or if you want to share your rejoicing  [Philippians 4:4,  Luke 15:6,9]

YOUR RESPONSE TO SPIRITUAL HEARING

I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth;

I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.   I ponder every morsel of wisdom form you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it.

I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

                                        —Psalms 119:13-16, Message

May you daily and deliberately put God’s word in your ear so that you can hear it and use it as needed to the glory of God.

S&S Encounter Notes: Meditations on P E A C E

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CONFERENCE CALL ENCOUNTER

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JESUS ,  THE PRINCE OF PEACE

He is our peace.  Ephesians 2:14

MEDITATIONS  on PEACE

JOHN 14:27  –   Peace I leave with you,

                             my peace I give unto you;

                             not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

                             Let not your heart be troubled,  neither let it be afraid.

Luke 1:78-79     . . . the dayspring from on high [Jesus Christ ] hath visited us,

                                  To give light unto them who sit in darkness

                                  and in the shadow  of death,

                                  to guide our feet in the way of peace.

Philippians 4:7    And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,

                              shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Romans 14:19    Let us, therefore, follow after the things which make for peace,

                             And things with which one may edify another.

MUSINGS  on  PEACE

Rudyard Kipling’s “If”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

THE  PEACE PRAYER of ST. FRANCIS

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

THE SERENITY  [ PEACE ]  PRAYER

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

 May  you  have  P E A C E  in  the  face  of  adversity  on  your  journey!

S&S Call Notes: The Power of PRAISE!

The Power of P R A I S E!!!

But thou art holy, O thou who inhabitest the praise of Israel.  Psalm 22:3

P     –     Prayer

R     –     reserved for God:

A     –     adoringly

I      –     intentionally

S     –     sincerely
E     –     exclusively!
 

  On My Mind        

–     Praise is an antidote for depression  – Psalm 42:11

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within    

              me?  Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, AND my God. 

           –      God be praised for his divine attributes, especially his mercy.

                   Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my      

                   life.  Psalm 23:6

                   I trust in the mercy of God.  Psalm 52:8

                  O satisfy us early with thy mercy.  Psalm 90:14

                  Thy mercy is great above the heavens.  Psalm 108:4

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S&S Call Encounter Notes: On SEEING T H I N G S

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The Jesus Question

When you look at your life with your spiritual eyes, what thing do you see?

The thing that comes before you may be good, bad, happy, sad – – whatever.
How will you use this thing victoriously as you move on your life’s journey?

The Process for Achieving Victory

1. Meditate on the thing you see. If you can see it; it is subject/susceptible to change. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:18b – – for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. Speak/name the thing you see. When you speak what you see, its impermanence becomes apparent. It becomes subject to your power. Consider Jesus’ admonition in Mark 11:22 – – Have faith in God – – and his subsequent assurance in verse 23 that you shall have what you say.

3. Believe in the power of the Word over the thing you see. Pray in the spirit of Philippians 4:6-7– – Be anxious for no-thing, but in every-thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, that passes all understanding shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

4. Receive God’s provision. Consider and affirm Psalm 23:5 – – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil [of blessing ], my cup runs over.

5. Announce/attribute your victory to the glory of God. Thank and praise God in the spirit of Matthew 5:16 – – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father, who is in heaven.

A Biblical Example from Luke 18:35-43

Bartimaeus [Mark 10:46] was ready to speak the name of his thing when Jesus asked the question. The blind man said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” This shows that Bartimaeus believed in the power of Jesus, the Living Word. Jesus granted the request, and immediately Bartimaeus was no longer blind. He received God’s provision, then responded appropriately by following Jesus and praising and glorifying God.

Thus, “Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.” Message, v.43b

Give God glory for the things you see to do this week!
God be praised !