How Determined Are You?

>> Monday, October 29, 2012

Even though my passion for watching NASCAR has been circumvented by other priorities this racing season, I’ve been trying to watch the last ten races leading up to the Championship. Yesterday’s event had me focused on one driver … and not one I usually watch.

Denny Hamlin

Going into the race he was fourth in the Championship points … and he had a great car. Winning was his goal. He started in the back of the field … passing cars every lap … until he had reached the top ten. Yet when he drove to the pits for tires and fuel, he went too fast down pit road.

That meant he was given a drive-through penalty. While the race was still happening he had to drive through pit road at pit road speed, which placed him at the back of the field again.

Once more he aggressively maneuvered through the cars … finally securing a spot near the front. But all cars periodically require new tires and fuel. When he pitted, he drove too fast … again.

Once more he received a drive-through penalty. Once more he was making his way through the field … headed toward the front. With 100 laps remaining in the race, Denny had positioned himself in third place. Suddenly he slowed … cars flying past him. An electrical problem had caused him to have no power.

While the race continued, his pit crew frantically worked on his car … and once again he returned to the track. But NASCAR has rules about how fast you must go to be able to race. He was traveling too slowly … was black-flagged … and removed his car from competition.

With only three races left, he has dropped to fifth in the Championship points.

As I watched the race, my thoughts turned to the race I’m in … with the goal of Heaven. Just how determined am I to reach that prize? I’ve been given some big time penalties by life … been black-flagged by my previous choice of church denomination … and have had to work my way through a lot of obstacles.

But … unlike Denny … I have a Power Source that will never fail.

“Great is our Lord and mighty in power …” Psalm 147:5 (NIV)


Change of Address

>> Friday, October 19, 2012

Before I was old enough to understand about addresses, I lived at 118 South Rural. From there we moved to 22 West Street … 714 Cottonwood … and then 723 Sunnyslope. By then I had entered my teen years. I married … and had many addresses during that union, starting with three different abodes in Bethany, Okla.

In rapid succession we moved from Oklahoma to Kansas … where we lived in three different cities, then on to Texas and back to Oklahoma. From there the moving van hauled our possessions to North Carolina … Maryland … and back to Oklahoma, where we had two different addresses. The final move in that marriage was to Nebraska … involving three different houses.

By then I had reached the ripe old age of 30.
I’ve moved another ten times. My last change of address was almost three years ago. As I thought about the wonderful new home we now live in … built specifically for my husband and me … one designed to see us into old age … I realized this is not my last address. 

I will have at least one more … heaven.
Viewing this home from that perspective makes all the difference in this world. Yes, it’s a beautiful, solid, energy-efficient home. We are delighted with it … and live comfortably within its walls. But it’s not our final home … it’s just ours to enjoy for a while.  

But it is still just a temporary address … and so is yours. 

“They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country.” Hebrews 11:14-16 (MSG)


Interference from the Son

>> Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Television is full of worthless stuff … just my opinion. So when I sit down to watch something, I really have a desire to enjoy the whole program. A few evenings ago I was intently focused on a story when the screen went black. 

Did I pay my bill? Is the television broken? Thoughts began to fly through my head. I had planned my evening around one program … and now it was gone … leaving me highly frustrated. Not sure whether to just give up and move on to another project, I waited for something to happen.

And it did … words on the screen. We’re sorry. We have lost the signal due to interference from the sun. As soon as the interference clears, we will return to your program.

Guess they couldn’t fix that.

As I waited, I thought of the times I had made plans … and then the Son disrupted them. One such time occurred years ago when I was scheduled for major surgery. I had more than just the operation to be anxious about … with three children who needed available homes for their care while I was hospitalized. My apprehension heightened when the doctor informed me my slight fever had caused the surgery to be postponed 24 hours.

I didn’t have 24 hours to waste.

And so I turned to the Son … with my frustrations and concerns. That’s when I discovered He had a better plan. As soon as I would let go and give it all to Him, the interference would clear and we would get on with the surgery. That 24-hour period was one of the most blessed times in my life.

Have you ever been subjected to interference from the Son?

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 (MSG)


The Delicious Center

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I have a love/hate relationship with cinnamon rolls. I love them … the flavor … the chewing … the fragrance. But once they are inside me, I hate what happens to my body … my arms … legs … stomach. So I try to avoid them.

However, the other day, one jumped onto my plate.

Actually my husband and I had taken a little outing to the mall. We do this every few years, just in case we’ve missed an important new store. And of course, you can smell Cinnabon the minute you enter. So we shared … cut it right down the middle.

That’s when I realized I would get only half the delicious center plug … the bite I wait until the very end to eat.

I used to make cinnamon rolls … pans of them … but that love/hate relationship just didn’t work out. I never sat down and devoured the roll. I had a plan each time I enjoyed one. I ate around it, peeling the sides away … round and round.

That left the best for last … that very soft, cinnamony, frosted center plug.  I let the deliciousness roll over me as I slowly chewed that ultimate treat.

Isn’t following Christ similar? We eat all around the Gospel. We go to Bible studies … sometimes even teach one. We serve in the food line at the Celebrate Recovery meeting. And we never miss a church service. These are all good activities … and if God calls us, we do need to respond.

But what about that delicious center … when you know you are right in the center of His will. Everything else falls away and we let the deliciousness of His love wash over us. And we don’t have to cut it down the middle to share. Each one of us can have the whole plug … He has enough for everyone.

Lately I’ve been really enjoying that delicious center … without any weight gain.

“But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!” Jude 1:20-21 (MSG)


Open Wide

>> Friday, October 5, 2012

Being examined by an eye doctor is routine for me. Some visits measure my eye pressure … some test my peripheral vision … and others take slices of pictures of the inside of my eye. I was told my appointment yesterday morning was a pressure check and would take less than 30 minutes. Since I had gotten behind with some personal duties, that was fine with me. I would have all day to catch up.

Not so.

The pressure check … which is a puff of air blown in your eye … three times each eye … lots of fun, was completed and then the assistant led me to the exam area. “What’s going on? I thought the pressure check was all I had scheduled.” But the doctor wanted to see me, so I compliantly sat in the eye exam chair. Many times, when the doctor is checking my vision, he puts some yellow goop in my eyes so he can see my eye better. He can see better … not me … it’s sticky. 

He walked into the room, with small talk and a pat on my knee … then he held down my lower eyelid and put a drop in … moving quickly to the other eye. When I blinked, it wasn’t sticky … and I knew. He had just dilated my eyes. Instantly I knew my day was shot. Just driving home would be a struggle. It takes my eyes all day to return to normal.
In the meantime, the pupils of my eyes are wide open … making it painful to try to see. I squint … get a headache … and sometimes dizzy … all because that hole that is supposed to be almost shut is just the opposite. The doctor can see all around in my eye.

Most of us live life with the opening into our lives almost shut. Sometimes we allow a few people to see just a little bit more of who we really are. But a few of us are braver … allowing that opening to grow wider. Our children … our spouse … our best friend … see some of the ugliness we try to hide. Maybe we’re greedy … jealous … judgmental … or full of pride.

But God comes along … puts a little drop of conviction in our eye … and our carefully guarded hole opens up. As He examines us, He gives us a record of what He sees in there … and it’s not pretty. It’s painful to see it … and sometimes it ruins more than just one day. If we fight against the truth, it can take years. We live a life of headaches and dizziness, wanting the truth to go away.

But if we desire to have clear vision … to be a true follower of Christ … we must allow the Doctor to see all the hidden areas of our life. Only then will we have healthy, 20/20 eyesight.

Have you had your eyes dilated lately?

“The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” Proverbs 20:27 (NLT)


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