Categories
Devotions

Wisdom or Folly? The Suspense is Real!

Good and evil, hero and villain; we’re told the best stories contain these elements. Why? Because it creates drama, angst, and choice.

Wisdom or Folly? The Suspense is Real!

In one of my favorite books, two leading ladies compete for attention. One is wholesome, the other is scandalous. They each make their play. The one to whom they offer themselves must choose. The suspense is real!

Would you have guessed I was describing the Biblical book of Proverbs? It is full of dilemmas, comparisons, and right vs. wrong. In it, Wisdom and Folly are depicted as influential women. They each call out to passersby.

“Does not wisdom call out?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
    where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
    at the entrance, she cries aloud
‘To you, O people, I call out;
    I raise my voice to all humanity’.”

Proverbs 8:1-4

“Folly is an unruly woman;
    she is simple and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house,
    on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling out to those who pass by,
    who go straight on their way”

Proverbs 9:13-15

Wisdom and folly have very different messages.

Wisdom uses words like listen, watch, and wait. She promises a great reward for those who attune to her for the long haul. She offers life and favor from God to those who do not give up and disregard her.

“Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.”

Proverbs 8:33-35

Folly prefers her audience does not take time to think. Her appeal is to those who want to remain simple. With her, there is no requirement to work or to wait. She offers easy satisfaction from instant gratification. But her reward is deceptive and ultimately fatal.

“‘Let all who are simple come to my house!’
To those who have no sense she says,
‘Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!’
But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.”

Proverbs 9:16-18

Both voices call from the “highest points”. They are equally discernable. The stage is set. What will the hearer do?

The suspense and repercussions are real!

This is no mere entertainment.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is a participatory story. You and I, dear friends, are the characters who must choose. Wisdom and Folly call to us.

The repercussions of our decision will affect our lives for now and all eternity. Wisdom or Folly? The suspense is real! Which do you choose?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For through wisdom your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”

Proverbs 9:10-12
Categories
Reflections

Something of Value Learned from Snow People on the Trail

Hello, my friends! How are you? It’s been a pensive several days for me. But there was a highlight; something of value learned from snow people on the trail.

Lately, I’ve been in my head. That sounds funny, but do you know what I mean? Are you familiar with that place where you retreat so deep you lose awareness of what and where you are? I made up a short ditty of a prayer to help me out.

I don’t wanna be stuck in my head.
Lord, please set me in Your Word instead.

Mama Lava

My head is a place of insecurity and lies. What I think about myself when I’m stuck there is not what God says about me. It isn’t a place I want to spend my time.

This post is to remind myself, and all of you, that God is good. He brings joy, even in hardship. Do you know how He did this for me?

Snow people.

I went for a walk to think and pray. I was trying to keep my mind focused on the truth of God’s word as I trudged down the trail in calf-deep snow. I stopped when I saw this snow person smiling at me. Someone had built it and left it to bless future passersby, of which I was one. I felt my face smile.

A snowman with pine cone eyes.
This smiling snow person greeted me on the trail. Don’t you just want to smile back?

Because the uneven footing required me to watch my steps and my head was down, I did not see the many snow people dotting the trail ahead. It wasn’t until I encountered the second one that I looked forward.

A snowman with a long twig nose
The second snow person I encountered. I couldn’t help but wonder about the unique nose. The mess scattered around suggests the possibility of hair and a broom at one time.

Aren’t they cute? I felt joy as I imagined the couples, families, and creatives who took the time to build and leave these adorable works of art. I grinned as I thought about the snowball fights and laughter they surely enjoyed as they went.

Snowman with a carrot nose
This one has a real carrot nose!
A snowman on a rock
This is one of my favorites! Its billowy hat matches the clouds.

I pictured groups of people posing for photos with their creations, possibly lending their own hats and gloves, as my family and I have done in the past. I envisioned the snow people with plaid scarves and dignified top hats. This one looked like it had been built to sport a beanie.

Pointy headed snowman
This one looks like its head was made for a beanie. Or maybe it was wearing a party hat of snow!

The trail wound around and brought me, one by one, into the presence of several snow people. They brought me completely out of my head. They seemed to remind me that I, too, have an intentional Creator who placed me on this trail to smile at others.

Snowman with a flat head
Melting but still adorable!
Snowman missing part of his face
Aging but still smiling
Snowman with jagged edges.
Roughly built, but angelic, don’t you think?

Like some of these snow people, I’m a bit worse for wear. Time has aged me, heat has damaged me, and winds have changed me. My fancy accessories are gone.

But I don’t mind those imperfections when I look at these snow people. They make me smile just as they are! God showed me the false nature of that voice my head which highlights my surface-level insecurities. He assured me that I could trust Him and His plan for me.

Not only that, but He also reminded me that He sees me perfected because of His Son. I am a new creation, as His Word says. To Him, and for His purpose, I am like this snowman, obviously made with extreme care and gifted with adornments to keep.

Snowman with hat, scarf, and gloves
Created with forethought and love, and gifted with adornments to stay.

God gave me a distraction, got me out of my head, and let me learn something valuable from the snow people on the trail. They brought me such joy. I hope they do the same for you! What has made you smile lately? I would love to hear about it!

Categories
Reflections

My Vacuum and the Window Tracks of My Heart

They say the eyes are windows of the heart. Where there are windows, there must be window tracks, right? So why did it come as a surprise when God prompted me to think about the window tracks of my heart? It happened this way…

My Vacuum and the Window Tracks of My Heart

When we moved into our new home, we splurged on a new vacuum. It is one of those robot kinds – a small round apparatus which completes the chore on command. I love it!

I’ve never been able to consider one before, because socks and toys can choke the motors of such devices. When I lived in a larger space with many more people, it was impossible to keep the floor clear. But now, all that has changed.

With a small space and only 3 adults in my home, I can run the vacuum several times per week. My floor has never been so clean! I thank Jesus for my little robot vacuum.

A black robot style vacuum.
Dust on and in this little machine at work, but no longer on the floors under it!

The other day, I was sprucing up the house in preparation for company. And I made a mortifying discovery! My window tracks were filthy!

There were even dead bugs in some of them. How had I not noticed before? And how long had they been so gross?

I realized something in that moment. I had upgraded my vacuum to the robot style. My floor looked better than ever. But it was only the floor.

My vacuum and my heart

I was no longer walking around, with an upright appliance, looking for dirt. In the past, I would have used the wand attachment on my standard vacuum to suck grime from the window tracks a few times each month. But my new, “improved” method of vacuuming had created a major deficit in my cleaning routine.

God used this moment to speak to my heart. With the coming of the New Year, I usually start a new Bible Study plan. I anticipate going deeper and doing better every year.

Sometimes the new and improved overlooks the tried and true.

Mama Lava

But the message God ministered to me through my dirty window tracks was that sometimes the new and improved overlooks the tried and true. In other words, I need to be sure that whatever method I decide to adopt for my quiet time this year does not create gaps which leave past areas of progress in decline. It was poignant instruction from Him which had direct application for my life.

What about you? Have you made strides in your walk with Jesus? Have you changed your strategy for the upcoming year? Do you risk leaving the window tracks of your heart unattended while you enjoy your new methods and tools?

What other improvements are you striving toward? There are so many areas of our lives where we might accidentally overlook something important as we strive to do and be better. Does anything specific come to mind?

Eyes on the window tracks

I plan to incorporate my old vacuum back into my chore schedule. It works differently than my new one. By using them together, I expect a more thorough result.

I will also maintain eyes on the window tracks of my heart. I need to be attentive to any neglect that might occur as I change my approach to my quiet time. I don’t want to miss out on anything Jesus has for me; and I certainly don’t want to allow filth to accumulate where He’s already purged!

Thanks for reading, my friends! My vacuum and the window tracks of my heart are only two of limitless possible examples where an improvement might cause new problems if we aren’t vigilant. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Categories
Conversations Emotions

Have You Lost Your Drive? Good!

This morning, in prayer, I heard myself tell Jesus,

“I feel like I’ve lost my drive.”

Immediately, as if He’d been anticipating those words, He said,

“Good. Move over. I’m supposed to be driving anyway.

Touché! Perfectly played.

He is Lord.

Jesus, take the wheel!

Categories
Celebrations Reflections

3 Hypnotic Ways Our Focus Is Being Manipulated this Christmas

This is nothing new. Should we even be concerned? Is there anything we can do? Consider these 3 hypnotic ways our focus is being manipulated this Christmas and let me know!

Manipulation #1: Replacing Christ in the word “Christmas”

Do you remember the struggle, which occurred several years ago, over the words “Merry Christmas”? There was a move to replace them with the more politically correct greeting, “Happy Holidays”. I personally don’t have a problem with “Happy Holidays”, because it allows me to honestly well-wish people for the complete season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and whatever else they are celebrating during that time.

However, I say “Merry Christmas” in specific reference to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I know many of you do too. So, I have been put off, this season, by overt messages where I’ve seen the word “Christ” replaced in the word “Christmas”.

Here are some examples:

  • Merry Grinchmas
  • Giftmas Season
  • Cruisemas Specials

What other examples have you seen? Now that I’ve mentioned it, you’re sure to notice them! These messages are hypnotic because our minds are influenced by the power of suggestion and misdirection.

I know – people are being witty. I love a play on words just as much as the next gal, maybe more. But it has really bothered my spirit to see Christ taken out of where He belongs this CHRISTmas.

Through a spiritual lens, we see through the catchy slogans for what they are. We recognize hypnotic manipulation. These are deliberate attempts by the devil to move our focus from Christ to worldly things.

Manipulation #2: Santa’s degradation of the Gospel message

I believe the character of Santa Clause was introduced long ago to manipulate our focus off Christ at Christmas time. And it has been wildly successful! Santa has become the face of Christmas.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake.”

Nah, but there is someone incredibly more worthy of our devotion, who does.

“You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.”

Psalm 139:1-3

“He knows if you’ve been bad or good; so be good, for goodness’ sake.”

Only Jesus knows if we’ve been bad or good. He knows our thoughts. And He chose to give everything for us, to us, while we were still in the throes of sin with no way out.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

We can’t be good for goodness’ sake. Only by the blood of Christ have we been afforded the opportunity to have our sin washed away.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ… cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Hebrews 9:14

Hypnotism makes people unable to focus on what is real and forget they want to. Aren’t we being manipulated by a fairytale to misplace our focus? The gospel message has been egregiously counterfeited by Santa; wouldn’t you say?

A young girl on Santa's lap.
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com
All year long we teach our kids to watch out for the very behaviors we encourage them to embrace with Santa.

And how are we not concerned about a grown man who beckons children to sit on his lap in exchange for gifts, favors and candy? What kind of message is that? Ok, sorry – not as much to the point.

Manipulation #3: Replacing Christmas carols with secular songs

I asked Alexa to play Christmas carols yesterday. She played “All I Want for Christmas is You”. There used to be a difference between carols and songs. Carols are supposed to be religious.

“Christmas carols are actually religious in nature, while Christmas songs are secular. Many of the traditional Christmas carols are over shadowed by trendy Christmas songs and the most popular songs, are sung by pop stars.”

Alan Reid, toronto.citynews.ca

I tried again. “Alexa, play Christmas hymns.” She played “All I Want for Christmas is You”. One more try. “Alexa, play Christmas songs about Jesus.” When I heard “All I Want for Christmas is You” start playing again, I told her to stop, and I gave up.

Who is behind the hypnotic manipulation?

Alexa, and the people who design her algorithms are not the culprits. Neither are the marketing executives or the guys in the Santa suits. They are all being manipulated too. There is an agenda, and the battle is spiritual.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

What should our focus be?

I don’t like being manipulated. Do you? Let’s be sure to have our spiritual glasses on, so we can clearly see what is happening. And let’s fight back.

How? Well, personally, I want to send a loud message to the master manipulator. I don’t plan to scream, but he can’t hear my thoughts, so I do want to love Jesus out loud.

‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

An angel of the Lord, Matthew 1:20b, 21 (emphasis mine)

I am going to play music and sing songs that honor Christ this Christmas. I’m going to talk about Jesus and pray to Him out loud. I’m going to share the truth of His Word in conversation with others.

Want to join me?

Are you tired of the hypnotic ways our focus is being manipulated? We don’t have to fall for it or be stumbled by it. We can see through it and we know better. Let’s exalt Christ this Christmas and always!

Categories
Emotions Reflections

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic, and a Targeted Miracle

Do you have irrational fears? I do. Fire is a major one.

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic

Yes, fire is a rational danger but the panic I feel, in relation to it, is not. It stems from a movie I saw when I was too immature to process. Someone was burned at the stake, and to this day I vividly recall the way the actor’s body writhed and his face contorted in pain.

Just the thought of burning is a sure-fire way to make me panic. I have a stash of unused candles because I love the fragrance but fear the fire. I cautiously enjoy our gas fireplace, which is predictable and controllable.

It isn’t just fire, I’ve discovered. Its burns in general. So when my son’s text buzzed in, it brought me to my knees.

The Text which Made Me Panic

It was Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. I was preparing for bed. My son is 19, the last of our kids living at home. He was at work. I picked up the phone and read.

“I burned my foot really bad”.

My heart sank and my stomach knotted. I felt dizzy. And then another buzz.

“Just letting you know. I’m going to be struggling for the next days or weeks.”

I started to panic. I wanted to throw up. My reaction was irrational, but at least it drove me to my knees. “Oh God, please take away his pain!”

A Sure-Fire Way to Get Burned

As I prayed, I texted back. I told him I was praying and asked what happened. My son works in the kitchen of a restaurant.

He said he was cleaning the fryer. The apparatus has a hose which shoots the hot oil, and he dropped it. The oil sprayed into his shoe. That is a sure-fire way to get burned!

He secured the machine and made sure no one else was injured before attending to himself. By the time he removed his oil-soaked sock, it had held the heat on his skin longer than I cared to surmise. His manager assisted him with burn gel and a bandage. Unbelievably, he had not been sent home from work.

My son uses humor to lighten serious situations. I was certain he was downplaying this one and his managers didn’t know how bad it was. He’s also grown man who didn’t need his mommy to panic.

God’s Miraculous Power is a Sure-Fire Antidote for Panic

I couldn’t sleep. I kept my phone on. He finished most of his shift and drove himself home.

My breathing was shallow, and I was nauseated, but I wanted to see it for myself. I almost passed out. His burn was bubbly and discolored. It was ugly, yes, but my reaction was irrational, and I knew it.

My panic subsided because my son truly did NOT seem to be in terrible pain. I know that was God’s miraculous power at work! We decided to go to the hospital to get it dressed properly.

While the intake nurse was assessing the injury, the receptionist walked back with a file. She took one look and incredulously asked, “How are you not screaming?” He answered that it looked worse than it felt. Praise God!

Only by God’s miraculous power!

When we finally saw the doctor, she said superficial burns often don’t involve enough nerves to be excruciating. But she also said his was not entirely superficial.

How was it superficial at all, given what happened? Only by God’s miraculous power! It should have been worse and even as it was, it should have felt worse.

It was good we went to the ER. The doctor cleaned it up and the nurse bandaged it well. They instructed us in first aid for at-home care.

They offered a note to keep my son home for at least a week. But he went back to work on Saturday. What a miracle!

God’s Sure-Fire Reiteration

Last night, I was using my glue gun on some Christmas decorations. I applied hot glue to one and then dropped it onto my thumb. It stuck. My burn is 1/50th the size of my son’s. It hurts.

A blister.
My small burn.

It is a sure-fire reiteration that God’s miraculous intervention kept my son from unbearable pain. If mine hurts like it does, his surely should have felt much worse!

A Targeted Miracle

God targeted my son with a miracle and reminded me of his power. Maybe some of you, my precious readers, need to be reminded also. It is likely I’m not the only one who will face an irrational fear this holiday season.

Some of you might be brought to your knees in desperation over something. Maybe you have already been. It feels like a position of weakness, but kneeling is the perfect stance from which to approach God and ask for a targeted miracle.

Power over Panic

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to present God as a genie in a bottle who does tricks upon request. Many times, I’ve prayed and God has chosen not to intervene in overtly miraculous ways.

But sometimes He does. I know because I’ve seen Him do it. I saw it just this week.

There is a sure-fire way to make me panic. My son’s accident was a case in point. But panic drove me to prayer, and God has power over panic and all fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

We’re all on the verge of a crisis, going through one, or coming out of one. Where are you? God’s power is greater than panic. And we can pray for one another.

What kind of fire are you in right now? What are your irrational fears? How has God targeted you with His miraculous power in recent days? What are your thoughts?