Friday, June 18, 2021

Five Minute Friday: Love Lifts

I wrote these words in five minutes in response to a writing prompt (lift) provided by Kate Motaung at www.FiveMinuteFriday.com.

Since childhood, I’ve known the words to the old hymn, Love Lifted Me. But the older I get, the more those words mean to me. The Lord’s love lifts my spirits when I’m feeling down. It encourages me when I’m tempted to give up. It causes me to pause throughout the day and just thank HIm and praise Him.

Love from other people lifts me, too, as does the love I feel for others. Love for the work I do lifts me.

How does love lift you?

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Five Minute Friday: Disagree

 I wrote this post (in approximately five minutes) in response to a one-word prompt (disagree) from Kate Motaung. For more information and to read other posts, visit www.fiveminutefriday.com

Disagreements are unavoidable, aren’t they? When they arise, I remind myself of these four bits of wise counsel:


(1) “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity [love]” (circa 1627).


(2) “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t be mean when you say it.” (I don’t know the source, but a fellow member of the Toastmasters club I attend shares that advice when it’s time to evaluate speeches made during the meeting.)


(3) “A soft answer turns away wrath, / But a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV).


(4) "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people” (Romans 12:18, CSB).



Saturday, June 5, 2021

Five Minute Friday: SLOW

NOTE: Below is my response to the June 4, 2021, writing prompt (slow) provided by Kate Motaung on her website, http://fiveminutefriday.com/ This first (and short) attempt at getting words on a page is “nothing to brag about.” However, I plan to include, in a longer piece, these thoughts—and others I could not type in only five minutes. By participating each week in Five Minute Friday, I’m learning that writing even a few words matters! Those words, however, lackluster, can be turned into a thoughtful, polished, piece!


Slow. Interesting word, isn’t it?


A friend says sadly, “I’m as slow as pond water.”


Years ago, when my youngest daughter was reluctant to climb out of her cozy bed, especially on school mornings, but would finally drag herself to the breakfast table, I’d teasingly say, “Honey, you’re as slow as molasses on a cold winter morning.”


Once, when talking with a friend, we agreed we were like “two ol’ turtles living in the fast lane.”


So, I wonder, can being slow be a good thing? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.


For example, the Bible says God is slow to become angry. But He is not slow regarding His promises. Being slow to obey is not good. But being slow (sure/careful/methodical) is.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Why?

Do you get weary of trying to figure out what’s going on in this crazy, mixed-up world? I do! 


But like the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, I’ve concluded that we won’t ever be able to make sense of what’s going on. For example: why bad things happen to good people. Why people we trust to do the right thing don’t. Why things don’t work out even though we are doing the best we can.

Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, I’ve concluded it’s pointless to even try to figure out all this stuff that makes no sense, from the human perspective. God’s in charge. He understands it all. Ultimately, He will right every wrong. And, as one of the old hymns* says, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why.”


In the meantime, let’s love and trust our God and gratefully receive the blessings He gives us here in this world and anticipate those in the life that awaits us. Once we are with Him in Heaven, all the “stuff” of this life will seem as nothing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W44URlOwYWw

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Recover

Recover. Such a hope-filled word—in all its various tenses—in all its synonyms. For example, I was thrilled when the surgeon assured me (in September 2020) that I’d fully recover from a tendon repair surgery. And my recovery was much shorter than even he expected. I’m not fully to the point I was before the tendon partially ruptured from my right hip months ago, but I’m almost there. I thank God for His helping me to regain the flexibility I once enjoyed in that hip and leg. 


I thank Him, too, for His many promises to restore His people in various ways. Why, He even promises to enable His people to recover from the devastation that resulted from years of locust invasions.


What an awesome God! 



Note: I wrote the above using the "Five Minute Friday" word for May 28, 2021: Recover. For an explanation of what that is, click here: https://johnniegaskill.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Five Minute Friday: Excuses! Excuses! Excuses!

Every Friday, writer and author Kate Motaung emails a one-word prompt to those who’ve subscribed to receive it. We are to write about that word for five minutes (and only five) and then post our unedited draft on our blog or in the Facebook group. I’ve been receiving the prompts for several months now, but am just now (5-23-2021) committing to writing and posting each Friday.

This is a HUGE step for me. It takes a lot of courage to post an unedited version since I am prone to edit, edit, edit--and then often decide my work still isn't good enough to post. Also, I make excuses for not posting regularly. But I pray that committing to do this small, very doable assignment EVERY Friday, will help me learn to write “on command,” to write freely, and to write (and post!) faithfully. If you’d like to learn alongside me, visit Kate’s site (www.fiveminutefriday.comand sign up! 

(I'm aware that I should have posted this on Friday instead of Sunday. But I'm refusing to let technical issues keep me from fulfilling my commitment, even though I'm embarrassed about being late.)


If I’d written (on a Post-it note) every excuse I’ve ever made, I could have wallpapered houses, even castles, by now. Perhaps I should start doing that right now. Maybe seeing them written all over the place would show me the extent of this terrible habit I have. Since I don’t write them down, I don’t realize how often I make excuses—regarding little things, as well as BIG things. For example, I say I don’t have time to participate in Five Minute Fridays. Really????? I don’t have five minutes? I can’t think of anything to say about the common word that is the prompt for the day? I don’t have time to post it? Really? What kind of excuses (uh, lies) am I using to cover more serious problems, like fear and procrastination?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Hope

 I love benedictions and blessings, especially those in the Bible, don’t you? Recently, I read the one Paul penned to the Christians living in Rome centuries ago and realized it’s one we need. Many people lack hope these days. Some feel so hopeless that they take their own lives, or at least wish they could die and be done with all the struggles and sufferings. Others are not that depressed, yet still long for brighter days.

I’m asking God to confer upon you that blessing of hope, with its accompanying joy and peace. Whether you like the words recorded in older translations of the Bible or those in newer versions, may you allow the ancient yet relevant words to remind you that trusting in God will give you hope in the midst of the darkest of days.




Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Demonstrated Love

Through the years, I’ve happily taken hundreds (perhaps thousands) of photos of birds of all sizes and species in their natural habitats. Even so, I’m not as “smitten” with birds as birders are. For example, avid bird watchers have extensive knowledge of birds and can identify them by sight and/or by sound—and can even mimic their vocalizations.

Bluebird in my neighbor's yard

But Mr. Al Larson, whom I’d very much like to meet, takes his love of birds, particularly bluebirds, a giant step beyond that of avid birders and photographers. He DOES something to help the birds survive and thrive! In the video* I watched on YouTube, Mr. Larson, age 97, was still building nesting houses for the bluebirds. At the time the video was made, he’d built and placed over 350 nest boxes, many of which he continues to monitor. He estimates he's helped over 40,000 nestlings. Thus, he’s affectionately and widely known as “The Birdman of Idaho.”

As I watched the video again and again, I realized that many of us who profess to “love” birds actually do very little to help them. Mr. Larson, on the other hand, demonstrates his love for them by quietly and faithfully taking actions to benefit them. 

As I thought about that, I remembered that the Bible says that when we love someone, we are to do more than just talk about how much we love them. Like Mr. Larson, we are to do something that demonstrates our love. That's what God did when He sent His Son to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. You see, we’re all sinners, even the best of us, and no matter how good we try to be, we can never, by our own efforts, be good enough to be invited into the presence of the Holy God. Thankfully, God saw our plight and then demonstrated His great love for us by making a way for us to live in His presence for all eternity. God sent Jesus, His Beloved Son, to earth to die in our place, to undergo the punishment (death) we deserved. Once we accept God’s gracious gift (Jesus’ payment of our sin debt), then God not only forgives our sins but He also adopts us into His family! As His holy and deeply-loved children, we get to love Him and enjoy Him—now and throughout all eternity.

Amazingly, God did all this for us even when we weren’t seeking for Him any more than the bluebirds are seeking for Mr. Larson. But God, like Mr. Larson, looked through the lens of love and found a way to save us. Oh, how grateful we should be!

Sadly, not everyone accepts God’s gracious gift. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t, can you? Why, even the bluebirds are wise enough to accept Mr. Larson’s gift. They just happily settle into the safe home he lovingly provides for them. Shouldn’t we receive God’s gift to us?

*Click here to watch the video about Mr. Larson: https://vimeo.com/350127646

Scriptures referred to in this post:
John 3:16
Romans 3:10
Romans 5:8
Romans 6:23
Romans 10:9, 20
Ephesians 1:4
Ephesians 2:8-10
1 John 1:9
1 John 3:18
1 John 4:19


Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Blessing and a Response

A sweet friend writes this Scripture reference* on every card she sends to me: Numbers 6:24-26.

I'm thankful that that blessing, originally spoken centuries ago, has been preserved and remains one we can use to let our loved ones know that we are asking the LORD to bless them with His protection, His light, His favor, and His peace. 

This is the kind of prayer the LORD loves to answer. Verses abound that say, "The LORD longs to be gracious to you." Since He is eager to be gracious to us, shouldn't we be even more eager to receive the blessings He wants to bestow on those of us who love Him?  

Perhaps we should respond with words similar to these:

O LORD, I thank You that You bless me and keep me. I gratefully acknowledge that every good gift I've received has come from You. I thank You for keeping careful watch over me, guarding me, sustaining me, even while I sleep, even when I wander away from You, even when I need to mend my ways…

Like a child seeking to please a parent, I'm overjoyed when I sense that You, in essence, are smiling upon me even though You and I know I’m far from perfect. As You cast Your light upon me, it illumines my mind and heart and brightens my world.

So, yes, LORD, continue to bless me and keep me.

*To hear a contemporary song based on those ancient words, click here.