Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Dilemma

"Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." What a shame that the one holiday with a name that partly means "holy, consecrated" is associated not with Our Father, but with His archenemy.

The pagan origin of Halloween has caused it to fall into disrepute with most Christians today. Indeed, other Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, have ties to idolatry and spiritualistic religions, but they are not viewed with as much disdain as Halloween.

The biggest dilemma for how to celebrate any of these secularized "holy-days" falls on the shoulders of parents. Peer pressure is powerful at any age and the best defense is gentle instruction and example. Children shouldn't feel punished for not participating. Other fun activities can be provided that will plant seeds of joy, rather than seeds of rebellion. And don't forget to teach, teach, teach why your celebrations are of a different spirit and character.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Salsa Nosedive

We were making haystacks for supper tonight and someone, who will remain nameless, was taking ingredients out of the refrigerator. Suddenly something came crashing to the floor with a thud. Knowing that it wouldn't be pretty, all eyes were still drawn to the floor where the item that fell came to an untimely demise.

The big bottle of salsa (fortunately plastic) now was sharing half its contents with the kitchen floor. Evidently, the bottle had been placed too close to the edge of the stove before it made its nosedive performance. No one pushed it; it just wasn't designed to sit so precariously for any length of time.

Aren't we like that bottle of salsa? We find ourselves sitting on the edge of making a full commitment to God. Don't wait till the natural pull of gravity-sin pulls you over the edge and you find yourself in a messy heap on the floor of your life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dog Sense

This time of year all our little dog Minnie wants, it seems, is to sit out and soak up the sun. Even with the cooler temperatures, she just loves it outdoors, where she can catch the squirrel and rabbit scents floating on the breeze. Even when she's on a leash and her hopes of running after that inviting prey are hopelessly limited, she wants to be out where "the action is."

She has a perfectly good view of the outdoor world from her little perch on the back of the sofa. The picture window there allows her to see that occasional rabbit and squirrel. But the sight is just not as good as the scent to her. She has to experience that smell for her happiness to be complete, even though she knows that catching her prize probably just isn't gonna' happen, even when she is briefly allowed the joy of the chase.

We are often like Minnie, in that we aren't content with what we have in life. We are always wanting to experience more. Even when "more" isn't the best or safest thing to experience. But how do we know what is safe and best for us? I guess, just like Minnie, we have to trust our Master. We don't want to be content with anything in this world, but on the other hand, we need to be content with the plan our Master has for us, even when it doesn't make sense to us at the time.

The Price of Grace--It Isn't Cheap

Two things stood out for me in my Bible study this morning. First of all, that  there are two kinds of "cheap grace". We ruin the gospel of grace when we think we can add to it by our works, or when we think we can use it as an excuse to sin. I had never thought of legalism as another form of "cheap grace". But the legalist is saying, in essence, that grace is insufficient to save him.

Also it was pointed out to me that Jesus' sufferings were mainly not of a physical nature, although we know the crucifix was a tortuous form of execution. "...with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father's reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Savior in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt." The Desire of Ages, p. 753.

No portrayal of the Passion story is adequate to convey the extreme mental suffering and guilt that He bore on that cross. The movie screen or the stage doesn't come close to conveying the whole story. The Bible is God's movie script, and the scenes it evokes in our mind are all we need to assimilate the gospel lessons that are taught there. Thank you, Jesus, for The Book.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pain Management

Today as I sat in the waiting room of a pain management clinic, I was pondering the term "pain management". No doubt most of the clients there considered themselves in dire need of pain reduction or even better yet, pain elimination. However, the name of the clinic gave no such hope. Their only promise was for better pain management.

So often, this is how we approach God: "Please, God, take away the pain--or at least lower the pain so I can bear it." God, on the other hand, would much rather work on US than the source of our pain. As a matter of fact, He wants to be the Chief Pain Manager for ALL the hurts in our lives.

Can you trust this Heavenly Healer enough to include Him in your search for pain management? His clinic is just around the next prayer closet...and services are surprisingly affordable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Treasure or Junk?

Today an appraiser came to the house to give us an idea of the value of some railroad items that belonged to my dad (b. 1929--d. 2010). I was amazed when he shared the value of some of the "treasures". What I thought were almost worthless, he got real excited about. What I thought were almost priceless, were actually not valuable at all.

The experience makes me wonder about other "things" in my life. If God came by to give an appraisal of my "heart's treasures", would I be astonished at the price He gave to several things I've been hanging onto. Gold, for instance, the stuff jewelry is made of, is a precious metal on this earth, but in heaven it will be pavement material. Anything that I value here will seem like nothing compared to the riches in heaven.

Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart [give me an appraisal]: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way [worthless junk] in me, and lead me in the way everlasting [where the REAL treasures are]."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Garage and Mind Clutter

Winter is baring down in Nebraska pretty fast and one of the preps many of us are facing this fall is organizing our garages, and in my case, clearing out the clutter of three generations (parents' house we had to empty and daughter's overflow from their small apartment, not to mention 12 years of my belongings that no longer "belong").

Thanks to my nephew, I can now pull my car completely into the garage and even have room on both sides for entering and exiting the car doors! There is no way I could have achieved this garage remake were it not for his help and a neighbor's truck to haul it all off.

I am reminded of all my mind clutter collected over the years. Without God's help every day, I am in danger of getting lost in the shuffle of unneeded and even harmful mind clutter. Clutter can be neutral (neither harmful nor beneficial), but all of it can have a negative impact if it takes up room that should be reserved for God and His plans for my life.

The best things to store in our mind's garage are passages from the Bible. How amazing that our brains are built for unlimited storage room for this valuable commodity--God's Word. It will never go out of style, become unsightly, or lose its value. And ultimately we will end up looking as beautiful to the world as my garage now looks to the neighbors driving by.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Shall We Wear?

My thoughts this afternoon went to the weather again. My 3-yr.-old granddaughter has to trust me and her mother on what to wear that will keep her warm, but not too warm, on these unpreditable autumn days. She has to trust our judgment for what are appropriate clothes for the day's outside activities. She, however, is very obstinate about making these choices herself, as all mothers of toddlers can attest.

We adults, on the other hand, are at times just as distrustful of God's judgment when it comes to our inward and outward attire. But God, in His infinite wisdom, is totally trustworthy because He KNOWS the future. Even the best weather forecasters can't match His predictions.

Where are God's forecasts, you might be asking? In the Bible, of course. And the Bible clearly points us to appropriate seasonal attire in Ephesians 6:10-18. Dress yourself in the armor of God and you will be ready for the vilest weather this earth can produce!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Turned Around

I'm hoping to share my thoughts and insights with others with this blog. It's a new avenue for me to accomplish this. But I'm hoping others will benefit from my "Teresa Talk" as much as I have benefited from others' blogs.

 First I must confess that autumn is my least favorite season, maybe because it speaks so much about the coming winter. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind winter too much, except that it makes the roads and sidewalks slippery.

Did anyone ever hear about my adventure going to a women's church  meeting one night and my car which I was driving did a complete cookie/circle on the corner of S. 48th and O St.?!!! I mean I was suddenly facing the oncoming traffic and had that weird feeling when you realize that you are faced totally opposite the world around you. Fortunately, I was driving slow enough that it all happened like in slow-motion, so my passenger and I suffered nothing but our hearts in our throats for a few seconds. I do credit her for being brave enough to ride with me after that though. As a matter of fact, the memory has been a source of amusement for us both.

Thinking back on it, I'm thankful that the Lord turns us around totally when we need it. We'd all better get used to going opposite those around us if we want to follow that radical, rebel, rabble-rouser of a guy called Jesus! He'll turn your world around too!!!