Monday, August 22, 2016

ONLY SKIN DEEP


The other day "The Hub" and I had to go to the dermatologist.

And since we live almost an hour away from his office, we scheduled back-to-back appointments.

We made the long, twisty trip – and stepped out into an oven.

I don't know how hot it was – well over 100 degrees – but if I'd had an egg handy, I'm sure it would have fried, in my hand.

We were early for our appointments, but opted to go and sit inside where the cooling A/C wafted over our sweat-covered brows and reminded us of an oasis.  (Poetic touch…nice, huh?!)

As we waited, I looked around at the people surrounding us.

This day there was a good across-the-board representation of all ages.

Usually there's a preponderance of middle-aged people in various stages of *skin repair.*

I've put them into categories…

There are the people who have spent way too many hours in the sun – just like "The Hub” and I – and have the marks and bumps and discolorations to prove it.  This is the consultation and check-up crowd.

Then there are the people who have had some sort of procedure to fix the various marks and bumps and discolorations.  Trust me, people, we've seen some gnarly looking bandages and some Frankenstein-worthy stitches!

Finally, there are the ladies (and the occasional gentleman) with obvious (mostly well done) plastic surgery and injections of various fillers.

May the Lord forgive me, but I always seem to judge.

Besides the fact that plastic surgery is very expensive, I am way too afraid to have anything done on me!  I would be the unfortunate soul with numbness, or residual twitching, or hardness, or scarring, or any number of "Wow, that usually doesn't happen" complications.

Now don't get me wrong, I respect anyone's right to plastic surgery, and if you've had some done yourself, you go for it!

But I will never understand what makes anyone think that giant lips or a frozen face or a perpetually surprised expression is attractive.  Just my opinion…


OK, so finally we're ushered into the examining room, after politely being asked whether we'd like to be seen separately.  I am tempted to say that we'd rather not be seen at all, but I keep my thoughts to myself.

It's a *full skin check* day, so there's disrobing involved.

OK, no big deal, it's not like "The Hub" and I are showing off anything we haven't seen before.  But still, in a doctor's office, it all feels a little weird.

My appointment was first, so I got to sit on the examining chair.

"The Hub" sat across from me in another chair.

As I looked over at him, and then looked down at myself, I started laughing.

"What's so funny?" he asked me.

"Look at us.  Here we are in our matching hospital gowns, nude as the day we were born.  What a pair we make!" I chuckled.

He started laughing, too.

That's when I made the comment, "Wow, living large!"

I just could not stop laughing.


All things considered, I like the fact that "The Hub" and I go to all our doctors' appointments together.  I like having him with me to make sure that I get all my questions answered, and that I have all the follow-up instructions accurate and complete.

And truthfully, I get very nervous at doctor's appointments, so it's nice to have some back-up along.

I think he takes me along so that I hear all the information first-hand. That way he doesn't have to deal with my million questions when he gets home…

"Did you ask about…?"

"What did he tell you to…?"

"Why didn’t you remember to say…?"


So it's nice to bond over appointment time (???)

However, I have noticed in all my medical travels that it's usually middle-aged and older people that travel together.  I know my parents never went to an appointment alone.

Retirement at its best??

So, sitting there in that examining room, in our matching gowns, waiting to have our marks, bumps, and discolorations checked out, I felt kinda old.

How on earth did this happen?

The years keep piling on, and I keep aging, but inside I feel much the same as I did a good long time ago.

It's one of time's mysteries, I think.


So finally the doctor came in.

And, like a mad scientist with his bug-sized goggles on, he inspected me from head-to-toe.

Randomly and rapidly, without any warning, he took his trusty little canister of liquid nitrogen and zapped several *things* on my body.  (This is called cryotherapy – I think because it hurts and makes you shed a tear or two).

Then it was "The Hub's" turn – he got zapped, too.

The doctor shook our hands – thank you, Igor – and left the room.

The kind nurse assistant asked if we'd like her to leave while we put our clothes back on.  We told her that we didn't care if she stayed, as long as she didn't laugh.

I thought I heard a snicker, but it might just have been her clearing her throat??

And as "The Hub" and I paid the bill, I looked at our blistered bodies and thought to myself, once again, "What a pair we make…"


On the drive home, I got to thinking about skin.

Skin is really an amazing thing.

Here's some fun facts:

1. It's the body's largest organ.

2. An average adult's skin spans 21 square feet, weighs nine pounds, and contains more than 11 miles of blood vessels.

3. In one square inch of skin there are 625 sweat glands and 90 oil glands. There are also 19 million cells, 19 feet of blood vessels, 19,000 sensory cells, 65 hairs, and about one million pores.  Best of all, 20 million microscopic animals, such as mites, live in each square inch.  (I am the hostess with the mostest??)

4. Every inch of your skin has an exact stretchiness and strength for its location.

5. Your skin performs a range of different functions, which include physically protecting your bones, muscles and internal organs, and protecting your body from outside diseases.

6. Skin plays an important role in regulating body temperature, allowing you to feel and react to heat and cold and using blood to regulate your body heat. Your skin acts as your body's thermostat.

7. The skin releases as much as three gallons of sweat a day in hot weather. (Areas that don't sweat include the nail bed, the margins of the lips, and the eardrums).

8. Body odor comes from a second kind of sweat – a fatty secretion – and the odor is caused by bacteria on the skin eating and digesting those fatty compounds.  (Yum…)

9. A fetus doesn't develop fingerprints until three months' gestation.  Some people never develop fingerprints at all.

10. Your skin regenerates itself, shedding its dead skin cells on a daily basis, creating a new layer of skin every 28 days.

11. Your skin sheds 50,000 cells every minute.

12. Globally, dead skin accounts for about a billion tons of dust in the atmosphere.  (OK, this is just disgusting.  Forget global warming, global shedding is a much more serious problem, eh?!)

13. There are at least five types of receptors in the skin that respond to pain and to touch.

14. All mammals have some hair on their skin, even if it isn't easy for you to see.  And some animals have very thick skin – for example, a rhinoceros’ skin can be as thick as ½" – 2".  (However, though a rhino may be thick-skinned, I wouldn’t tease him, just sayin').


Those are some fun physical facts, but there is a spiritual fact that is also true.

While we live on this earth, our skin is like the body's *house.*

It's a temporary abode for all the things that make us who we are.

The Bible calls our body a *tent*and I can think of no more apt description for our skin – a covering that shelters us for a time, until we return home.

For indeed, there will come a day when we leave this body and go to be with Jesus.

Listen to the words of Paul:

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.  For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.  While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us.  Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.  God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit." (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, NLT)


I love the imagery of putting on the new body like clothing – and I think of the concept of literally putting on new skin!

Yes, for the time being, my body and my skin ages, and needs a lot more attention than it used to.

And yes, there are days when I groan inside of it.

But these sufferings are only temporary, for there is a day coming when my perishable will put on imperishable, and I will live forever!

Can you even imagine?!


The freedom!

The rejuvenation!

The energy!

The glory!


Yes, in so many ways, this life is only *skin deep*...




What reminds you that this life is only temporary?






Walking home...




"He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again." (Psalm 78:39, ESV)

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?  Your life is like the morning fog – it's here a little while, then it's gone." (James 4:14, NLT)

"All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:20, NIV)

"All these people died still believing what God had promised them.  They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.  They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth." (Hebrews 11:13, NLT)

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Corinthians  4:7, ESV)

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8, NLT)

"So is it with the resurrection of the dead.  What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." 
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44, ESV)

"For the trumpet will sound…and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

'Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'"

(1 Corinthians 15:52-55, ESV)


"He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers." (Romans 2:7, NLT)

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son [as Savior], so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life." (John 3:16, AMP)

"Jesus said…'I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.'" (John 11:25-26, NIV)

"'And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.'" (John 6:39, NLT)

"…as for me, God will redeem my life.  He will snatch me from the power of the grave." (Psalm 49:15, NLT)

"For you have delivered my soul from death…that I may walk before God in the light of life." (Psalm 56:13, ESV)

"My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." 
(Philippians 1:23, ESV)

"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27, NIV)

"I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living." (Psalm 116:19, NASB)




Linked with:

SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAY, MODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, MOM-TO-MOM MONDAYS, MOMENTS OF HOPE, GLIMPSES LINKUP, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY,  TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, WISE WOMAN, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, CHRISTIAN BLOGGER COMMUNITY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, FROM MESSES TO MESSAGES, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, GRACE AT HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, FUNTASTIC FRIDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, EVERYDAY TESTIMONY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, FRIDAY FEATURE PARTY, TGI SATURDAYS, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, WORD OF GOD SPEAK




BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, August 15, 2016

HE KNOWS MY NAME


So, I am down visiting family again.

And when I'm in town, I like to visit the "chains," as I like to call them.

You see, our little mountain town has no chain restaurants or stores.  (It's a rule that’s even written in our charter!)  

Therefore, I must wait either for: 1) Errand Day – when we venture off-the-hill to do errands, or 2) Family Visitation Days – when I make the 2½ hour trek down the mountain to visit family.

I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I just might…

Peek in at IKEA or Costco.

Run into Macy's or Barnes & Noble.

Covertly sneak a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder.

Scarf down a Subway.

Indulge on a fancy dinner at Outback or Joe's Crab Shack.


But really and truly, my biggest vice is the nearly-daily run to the local coffee place – 

(*$’s…)

Which is what I did this morning…

Which is where, yet again, I was confronted with one of my biggest pet peeves!

My name.

I have tried and tried to get those adorable (?) baristas to spell my name right!!

Nope.

In fairness, sometimes I'll get an older wiser cashier, and they usually get it right.

But the other ones?!

Hardly ever, even when I spell it out loud and s-l-o-w-l-y.

(Refer to the photo at the end of this post for the latest version, AFTER I spelled it for them…GRRR!)

What is the deal?!

It's actually kinda humorous at this point.

But if I'm in a particularly *weird, sensitive, grumpy mood*(which is why I am getting the caffeine boost in the first place) – I might just feel a little hurt and offended.

C'mon, people.

It's my name – it's who I am!!


Names are funny things.

They seem to creep into our very souls and become a defining part of our personalities.

Some people love their names, some people hate their names.

Some people even change their names.  (For instance, my paternal grandmother despised her middle name and had it legally changed to R!).

When I entered elementary school, I thought my name sounded too old-fashioned.  I can't remember which grade I was in, but I asked to be called Shari.

OK, if you think Sharon gets mangled, you should see the permutations of Shari!!

Years later, after entering "adulthood," I thought Shari sounded frivolous, so I changed it back to Sharon.

Interestingly enough, though, "The Hub" knew me in elementary school, and still calls me Shari.  So do my uncle and my cousins.  The rest of my family calls me Sharon.

I now like my name a lot(I remember once having a conversation with my mom.  Seems that they almost named me Patricia!  Not sure what they had picked out for a boy's name!)  


What's in a name?

Evidently, a lot.

I got to thinking about my name, and about how much it bugs me when it's misspelled, and I realized something.

There is Someone who never forgets who I am…

And thinking about that pointed me to four Scripture verses that have something to say about our names:


Verse One:

"But now thus says the LORD, he who created you…he who formed you…: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.'" (Isaiah 43:1, ESV)


Isn't it rather amazing, and very comforting, to know that we are specifically and individually called by God?! 

Yes, I know this verse originally referred to the nation of Israel, but don't you think that it's perfectly applicable to us today?

He created us, and formed us in the womb.  

He knows who we are, and knows everything about us.

He has called us, by name, and we belong to Him.

I love that!


Verse Two:

"'Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.  Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.'" 
(Isaiah 49:15-16, ESV)


Again, though this was originally directed at the nation of Israel, I love the idea that God purposefully remembers us, and holds us close.

And our *walls*the things that are part of us – our personalities, our thoughts and emotions, our failures and shortcomings, our joys and triumphs, our families, our concerns, our bodies, our health, our finances, our moments, all of the life that surrounds us – is constantly held in His omniscient thoughts, and centered in His omnipresent love.

Good stuff!


Verse Three:

"'The one who is victorious will…be dressed in white.  I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.'" (Revelation 3:5, NIV)


The Bible speaks often about the Book of Lifea record of all those who have given their lives to Christ, and accepted His gift of salvation.

It is an eternal record, and it is infallible.

A person's name is either in there, or it isn't – and that is a fact with eternal consequences.

I celebrate the fact that when I confessed Jesus as my Savior and Lord of my life, my name was written in this book.  

Sealed there forever. 

(I kinda like the image of Jesus taking a pen and hand-writing it!!)

One day, the book will be opened, and the names will be read.

And on that day, I will hear my own name, and I will enter into the promise of everlasting life!

I rejoice over that, don't you?!


Verse Four:

"'And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.'" 
(Revelation 2:17, NLT)


I remember when I first read this verse, I was puzzled by it.  

It is a bit mysterious, and I doubt that I'll ever fully understand it on this side of eternity.

But the more I contemplated it, the more excited I became!

Yes, in so many ways, the Lord is the only one who knows who I truly am.  

He is the only one who intimately knows the spirit that He created in me.

He's the only one who knows what I will look like with no sin, shining in His righteousness, complete in His perfection.

And on this day, I have a feeling that this Truth will be revealed to me, in an exquisitely intimate moment between just the Savior and me.

I picture it in my mind…


Jesus looks me straight in the eye, with one of His precious scarred hands on my shoulder.  

He says:

"Sharon, I have known you since before the creation of the world.  I know every part of you, even the parts that you have not known of yourself.  I love you beyond your comprehension.  I have been waiting for this day."

Then He gently opens my hands, and lays a beautiful white stone into my palms.

I stare at my new name, and tears flood to my eyes.

I look up at Him…

"Yes, this is who you truly are.  Forever this will be your name, and forever you will be My child."

In that moment, I will know what I have never fully known or understood before….

My very being will be defined by my Creator.

I can scarcely take that in!


So, friends, what's in a name?

It's a sign of identification, a touchstone of our personality, an emblem of who we are.

But so much more than that…


It's a personal call.

It's a stamp of belonging.

It's an assurance of love.

It's a promise of life.

It's the hope of one day becoming our true self.


Yup.

I am Sharonno matter how it's spelled.

And my name is remembered where it counts!




What does it mean to you that God knows your name?






Close...

I think the barista was a pirate.

"Arrr!" 




"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!" (Psalm 139:13-17, ESV)

"'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…'" (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

"Know that the LORD, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3, ESV)

"The gatekeeper opens the gate…and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." 
(John 10:3, NLT)

"'I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…'" (John 10:14-15, ESV)

"The LORD is good…he knows those who take refuge in him." 
(Nahum 1:7, ESV)

"'Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.'" (Isaiah 43:6-7, NIV)

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27, NIV)

"And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.  The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.  I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life." (Revelation 20:11-12, NLT)

"You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God himself…" (Hebrews 12:23, NLT)

"'…rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'" (Luke 10:20, NIV)



Linked with:

SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAYS, MODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, MOM-TO-MOM MONDAYS, MOMENTS OF HOPE, GLIMPSES LINKUP, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, RICH FAITH RISING, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, WISE WOMAN, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, CHRISTIAN BLOGGER COMMUNITYWORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, FROM MESSES TO MESSAGES, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, FUNTASTIC FRIDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, EVERYDAY TESTIMONY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, TGI SATURDAYS, FRIDAY FEATURE PARTY, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, August 8, 2016

ME, A DOG, AND AN AIR MATTRESS


Yup.

You read that right.

Lest you think that I'm writing a canine version of "The Princess and the Pea" – in which I share an air mattress with a dog and can't sleep because of an errant kernel of kibble underneath – let me explain.

My youngest son had to travel out of town for the last two weeks, and I volunteered to take care of my grandbeagle, Marty.

No one has to ask me twice to do that!

Sure, it saves money – but hey, it's MARTY!!!

I love my little furry guy.

Yes, I am biased, but he's pretty adorable.


Might I just regale you with some highlights of our time together?


1. Dog took middle-aged woman for walks three times a day.

2. Dog made middle-aged woman think about signing up for the Iditarod race.

(The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in early March from Settler's Bay to Nome [Alaska]…Mushers and a team of 21 dogs...cover the distance [over 1,000 miles] in 9–15 days or more).

3. The word "walk" is a misnomer – it should more accurately be called a tug, pull, roam, or wander.

4. Dog found the most awkward places and timing to do his "duty" – usually when people were walking by or retrieving the newspaper on their driveway.

5. Middle-aged woman snickered because dog sometimes chose to make his "deposit" in front of one of the two yacht clubs in the area.

6. Dog tried to eat a bouquet of roses.

7. Dog found random paper towels with delicious scents and dug them out of the trash.

8. Dog injured left arm – limped for two days – then recovered quickly 
– quickly enough to tug, pull, roam, and wander.

9. When dog saw someone approaching (anyone!), he came to a complete (and immovable) standstill – even if the person was a hundred feet away.

10. Middle-aged woman had to explain (often) that his stance was not a sign of his ferociousness, but only of his desire to jump up and lick and make new friends.

11. Dog is mistaken for being a puppy – which isn't too bad when you're 9½!!

12. Middle-aged woman was NOT mistaken for being a puppy…sigh.

13. Dog snored.

14. Middle-aged woman might have snored – dog didn't say.

15. Dog loved being chased around the room by middle-aged woman.  Woman panted, dog did not.

16. Dog loved string cheese *treats*.

17. Dog almost ate *string cheese fingers* of middle-aged woman as he bit ravenously into the string cheese.  (Note to self: do not hold string cheese in hand when feeding dog).

18. After countless hijinks, antics, and shenanigans, middle-aged woman is convinced that dog is not a dog, but a mischievous angel in disguise.


Yes, I do love dogs, and I especially love Marty.

My favorite thing of all is curling up next to him at bedtime.

Now mind you, on his *regular* nights, Marty sleeps in his own bed, all balled up, nice and cozy.

But when I am there, I like having him next to me.

Last year I tried sleeping next to him on some couch cushions, but that wasn't too comfortable.

Hence, the air mattress.

I figured that we could pretend that we were out in the wild, maybe Alaska, and *roughing it* together!

I rarely sleep as soundly as I do when Marty is curled up by me.

He usually starts the night at my feet, and then sometime around 4 AM, he wanders up closer.

If I've been sleeping especially deeply, I'll be surprised by a furry face right next to mine in the wee hours of the morning!  (The snoring is usually the first clue…!)

When my son returned home, he was most appreciative of my time taking care of Marty.

But perhaps he'll never know how much it means to me to spend time with my grandbeagle.

I have always maintained that when a human forms a bond with an animal, there is something primal about it, something *original* if you will – like an echo of Eden.


God intended people and animals to have a relationship.

And when we take care of them, we are fulfilling the original directive given in the Garden:

"Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" (Genesis 1:26, NIV)


How should this charge be interpreted?

First of all, I'd like to correct what I think is a misinterpretation.

Having dominion over something has a negative connotation in most people's minds.

I don't know about you, but I usually think of it as meaning domination, subjugation, or exploitationlike a dictator has over his kingdom.

I don't think of kindnessI think of cruelty and injustice, apathy and insensitivity.

But having dominion over the animals should entail a humane management of them, just as God intended.

I think it's very important to remember that God created animals in His original plan of creation.  He saved them in the Flood.  And they are mentioned in the future, too.

"God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind.  And God saw that it was good." 
(Genesis 1:25, NLT)

"'Bring a pair of every kind of animal – a male and a female – into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood.'" (Genesis 6:19, NLT)

"In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.  The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all." (Isaiah 11:6, NLT)


I'm not going to get into a discussion of whether or not individual animals will be part of the new creation, or debate the question of whether our pets go to heaven – (I personally hope so!) – but I trust God to do what is far better than what I can think or imagine! 

I love this quote from Billy Graham:

"God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."

Yup.

But I digress.

The point is that we should consider the fact that mankind was given the task, privilege, and blessing of representing God in this world. 

We are appointed to be His caretakers.

And as His image-bearers, we have been charged with the serious responsibility to act as God would.


I like the analogy of a garden and a gardener.

The gardener has, in a sense, dominion over his garden – but this position of power is not to be taken lightly.

What gardener would intentionally harm or destroy his garden?

Rather, he tends it carefully – feeding and watering it, protecting it from weeds and invading pests, sheltering it, and promoting growth.  In short, the gardener does everything in his power to help the garden thrive.

I think it's the same with animals, specifically – and the same with all of creation, in general.

God gives us the weighty task of caretaking, of taking care of HIS creation.

We must always remember that creation does not belong to us.

It is not ours to use or abuse.

It is not ours to waste or squander.

It is not ours to trample or trash.

It is not ours to conquer or crush.

"The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours – you created it all." (Psalm 89:11, NLT)


OK, so you might not be an animal-lover, or a tree-hugger, or a swim-with-the-sharks kind of person.

But I'll just bet that you have had times when the beauty of creation has left you breathless and awed.

Why?

Because you felt God in that moment.

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." (Romans 1:20, ESV)


So, once again I had the joyous task of taking care of one special little dog.

And once again, I was taught a lot about God in the process.

About responsibility and caretaking.

About kindness and compassion.

About appreciation and respect.

About being God's representative in a world that rarely reflects His character – and doing it well.


All this, while lying on an air mattress with a small beagle in the middle of the night!

Well done, Marty!!




What are your thoughts about taking care of God's creation?






All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.


(Cecil Frances Alexander)


"You care for people and animals alike,
O LORD."

(Psalm 36:6)



















"The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it…So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky.  He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.  He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals." (Genesis 2:15, 19-20, NLT)

"'With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal.'" (Jeremiah 27:5, NLT)

"O LORD, what a variety of things you have made!  In wisdom you have made them all.  The earth is full of your creatures." (Psalm 104:24, NLT)

"'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'" (Revelation 4:11, NIV)

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created through him and for him." 
(Colossians 1:16, ESV)

"'You alone are the LORD.  You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars.  You made the earth and the seas and everything in them.  You preserve them all…'" (Nehemiah 9:6, NLT)

"'Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.  Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.  Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.  Let the fish in the sea speak to you.  For they all know…For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.'" (Job 12:7-10, NLT)

"For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.  But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay." 
(Romans 8:19-21, NLT)

"'In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground.  Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.'" (Hosea 2:18, NIV)


"Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!

Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!

Let every created thing give praise to the LORD,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.

Praise the LORD from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,

fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars,

wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,

kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,

young men and young women,
old men and children.

Let them all praise the name of the LORD.

For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!"


(From Psalm 148, NLT)



Linked with:

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BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, August 1, 2016

GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT


I own a solid gold necklace.

It is a beautiful piece of jewelry.

And it's heavy – literally!

The price of gold is currently around $1350 an ounce.  So this necklace would definitely be, as they say, *worth its weight in gold!*

It's a treasureand it would be quite a gift if I gave it away, wouldn't it?

Now what if I showed you two pennies – two tarnished, beat-up pennies?

They've been sitting in a dish of spare change for who knows how long.

They're not worth much.  

In fact, in today's economy, they're probably not even worth two cents!

Back in the day, they could buy something – a piece of candy or such.

But now, the penny is so worthless, we don't even like having them rattling around in our pockets.

Many stores have little trays where you can "take a penny, leave a penny."

If you don't want your pennies with you, leave them.  (For the most part, I'm an equal taker-leaver...)

So, giving away these two pennies wouldn't be much of a gift, would it?


Today I want to talk about a woman who gave something away…

"While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.  Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins." (Luke 21: 1-2, NLT)


Jesus was in the area of the Temple called the Court of Women.

In this area were seven boxes in which worshipers could deposit the Temple tax and six boxes for freewill offerings.  It appears that Jesus continued watching the giving for some time, and He observed a number of wealthy persons making gifts.

This woman gave a freewill offering of two mites.

At the time, a mite was the smallest of copper coins, normally equal to just 1/8 of a cent!

Though it might seem that her offering was small, her gift was a sacrifice, for it was all that she had.

Her gift made an impression on Jesus, and He commented on it:

"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus said, 'this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.  For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.'" (Luke 21:3-4, NLT)


Today, I'm not going to talk about financial givingI'd like to expand the story beyond the issue of money.

The issue here is not that the woman had given more as to value and substancebut that she had cast in more in proportion to what she had.

Her gift was counted as more by Christ, and more highly valued and esteemed by Him, because Jesus – the One who sees the heart, and knows all things – knew that she had given FROM HER HEART.

Yes, my friends, the Lord desires no greater gift than the gift of yourself.

He wants more than financial offeringsHe wants you to KNOW Him and to LOVE Him.

He is to be loved with all your powers and capabilities, with your time and your talents, with all aspects of your personality, with every ounce of your heart.

Mark 12:30 (NLT) sums up this greatest gift:

"And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength."


Jesus uses the poor widow's offering to teach an important lesson.

A gift is not to be evaluated by its size, but by a comparison of the gift with the total possessed by the giver.

In the secret, innermost part of your heart, have you laid your life on the altar?

Have you presented everything you have, and everything you are, to Him?


May God help us to be like this faithful woman as we give our very selves in His name.


That's my two cents...



What are you giving to God of YOURSELF?





A penny saved
is a penny
earned.

But if you give up your life
for Me,
you will find it.



"'To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.'" (Mark 12:33, NIV)

"What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen!  Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22, NLT)

"'I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.  I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.'" (Hosea 6:6, NLT)

"What can we bring to the LORD?  What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?  Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?...No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." 
(Micah 6:6-8, NLT)

"And now...what does the LORD your God require of you?  He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul." (Deuteronomy 10:12, NLT)

"You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.  You do not want a burnt offering.  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit." (Psalm 51:16-17, NLT)

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1, NIV)

"Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.  Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God." 
(2 Corinthians 2:14-15, NLT)

"Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!" (Psalm 141:2, ESV)

"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." (John 3:30, NLT)



Linked with:

SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAYS, MODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, MOM-TO-MOM MONDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE LINKUP, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, GLIMPSES LINKUP, WISE WOMAN, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, GRACE MOMENTS, GROWING IN GRACE, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, PARTY AT MY PLACE, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, GRACE AT HOMELITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, WEDDED WEDNESDAY, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, FUNTASTIC FRIDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, EVERYDAY TESTIMONY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUSTGI SATURDAYS, FRIDAY FEATURE PARTY, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE 



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"