By Hally Franz –
I spent quality time with our Craftsman a few weeks ago. Though noisy and a bit rough, he has a powerful presence and can get the job done. And, he provides an opportunity for some solace and reflection in the process. No, I’m not referring to an extra-long devotion time with the Father of us all. Nor did I hang-out with a handyman my husband and I happen to have on retainer. We don’t, by the way.
No, I just rode our riding lawn mower for a few hours. Between my husband and sixteen-year-old son, it’s rare that I find a reason to do that. And, while I know mowing gets tedious by summer’s end, the time spent lapping the yard can be quite nice. The lush layer and smell of cut grass, the warm breeze on your face, the roar of the engine extinguishing all other sounds – it leaves you with only your thoughts.
When I was a kid, I ran the riding lawn mower. My father did the trimming and weed-whacking. I remember when he first demonstrated the task. He walked along as I traced the route prepared for me, and, if I missed a blade, he would point and yell “skip.” Methodical in all he did, he trained me well.
As I mowed our yard recently, I occasionally lost focus, so I had to look back to ensure I’d not missed anything along the way. I’d shift in my seat and check over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t leave sprigs and a job undone when my mind drifted.
Most of us try our best to make the right moves as we progress in life. We strive to cover our bases and seize opportunities. We work to maintain focus and attention, so that our misses and missteps along the way are minimal. But, as humans, that doesn’t always happen.
My reliable mowing machine relies on me to execute everything right. That won’t happen 100% of the time, in mowing grass or doing life. However, when it doesn’t, we have the assurance and insurance only He can provide.
If we keep our eyes on Him in our daily lives, we will make better choices. His guidance helps us do that, and, when we do falter and our minds wander, He is there to help us backtrack, retrace, redo or correct any problems we’ve made along the way.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, direct my steps today and every day, so I might make right choices. May those choices bring opportunities for me to serve and glorify You. And, Father, when I lose my focus on You, please pull me back and help me make right my misdeeds along my way.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).
By Hally Franz –
My dress was a gunny sack – literally. Handmade by my professional seamstress aunt, the dress I wore to senior prom was a “Gunne Sax” pattern. Those dresses were extremely popular in the 1980’s. With a sweetheart neckline and lacy sleeves, my original was lovely and feminine. But, have you seen the prom dresses of thirty years later? Whoazah!
When I worked in education, one of the supervision “opportunities” for faculty was the spring prom. While that made for a longer evening than other dances, it was by far the most entertaining. I loved watching the girls enter with gorgeous gowns and their cleaned-up dates.
Prom season came and went a couple months ago, and it was again fun to see groups dining at restaurants and taking photos in local parks. I more than once asked glammed-up girls to do a little spin so I could check out their evening’s selections. Outside my wedding dress, I’ve never had dresses as fancy as those worn today. Fortunately, the young ladies are usually pleased to oblige this old lady, and I smile at their youth.
Now, in some local high schools, they do what is known as “promenade.” In my home district, the school is too large to accommodate such an event. But, wouldn’t that be fun? All the prom guests take a leisurely stroll through the gym or venue so they can publicly display their fancied-up selves for parents and school personnel. Let’s face it; today’s kids rarely dress up. I may have to crash that party next year for some Saturday night amusement.
Having said all this, do you imagine there is a promenade in heaven? A time for new guests to mosey through for introductions and greetings? We will have new, young bodies, right? And, surely our garments will be the finest if we are to present ourselves to the Almighty. Since time is unlimited, vast numbers should not be an issue.
That’s a thought that excites me. While we don’t really know what awaits us, I am confident it will be grand.
Here’s the part where the minister offers an invitation. I’m not a minister, but I encourage you to consider or share this. Have you made the choice to follow the gospel and become a believing, baptized and saved member of the body of Christ?
There’s something waiting you don’t want to miss.
PRAYER: Gracious and Glorious Father, please protect our young people as they participate in all the modern-day activities that accompany youth, and please help us all prepare and make ready for an eternal stroll in your courts.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).
By Hally Franz –
I suppose it was the 2007 movie, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman that encouraged people to begin making lists of all the must-do activities they hope to accomplish before passing from this world. It is a neat idea. I haven’t spent a lot of time on mine, but I did add one particular goal to it just the other day.
It’s something that seems unachievable for me, but I know this CAN be done. I have tried several times without even one success, and I am now more determined than ever.
Here it is… I commit myself to at least once successfully executing and completing a purchase at the self-checkout line in the grocery store. I think I am a moderately intelligent person, but this process eludes me thus far.
Each time I attempt a transaction, which, admittedly, I’ve been cautiously reluctant to do, I fail to get it done without having to recruit help from a nearby cashier. My errors include: placing items in the wrong spot during scanning, bagging in an incorrect manner, failing to scan properly, and messing up the payment process. Basically, there have been issues at every step along the way.
Perhaps it is my fear that makes me fumble at the self-checkout. Or, maybe it is my hurried state when I get there. So, going forward I will boldly and calmly approach the do-it-yourself lane. And, I WILL do this undoable thing!
I’m so happy we don’t have to achieve self-service salvation. Thankfully, we have church leaders who counsel us along the way, Christian brothers and sisters who offer their support, the ultimate instruction guide in His holy word, and His listening ear when our challenges overwhelm us. There is no shame in seeking help; in fact, it is encouraged. Combine these with a fearless attitude and a patient heart, and success and salvation are there for those who seek Him.
What a blessing for those who may find this eternally important task half as challenging as self-checkout lines.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be an ally for those who seek the truth in Your word, and help me to regain my confidence when my Christian walk falters.
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4 KJV).
By Hally Franz –
As a veteran 4-H parent and leader, I am a member of our county’s 4-H council, which meets about six times each year. We discuss the activities of the dozen or so 4-H clubs around the rural county in which I live, the annual county fair, the distribution of available 4-H funds, and other local 4-H matters.
At our last meeting, an issue came up for a vote. When the council president asked for those in favor to say “aye,” everyone in the group did just that – everyone, except me. The issue in question was of a financial nature, and I suppose I lean in favor of prudence and fairness. I considered the proposed expenditure to be something that would be a slippery slope for future spending, and, at the same time, one that we would be unable to honor in coming years.
So, when our leader asked if there were any “nays,” I made no sound but sheepishly raised my hand in opposition. Of course, I knew I was outvoted, but the almost-unfailingly honest side of me was compelled to express my solo vote.
There were at most fifty people in attendance at this meeting. I am acquainted with or friends with about one third of them, and there were less than five complete strangers in the group. I knew I wouldn’t be lynched, tarred and feathered, or kicked out. And yet, I was a little nervous about being the only one with a dissenting point of view.
So, I have to wonder… How would I handle a question about my faith in a group of atheists? Further, would I have the strength to stand up for my Lord and Savior even when doing so could be dangerous? And, would I have the courage to express my loyalty to Jesus Christ when it might mean my life? It’s a question many of us have pondered.
I pray that my honesty would be greater and my “vote” in favor of my Heavenly Father bolder than what I demonstrated at the recent council meeting. And, I find comfort in the words Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew. Though my confidence in myself may be shaky, my confidence in His promises is not!
PRAYER: Most Righteous Heavenly Father, help me to always stand up for You, whether I am surrounded by Christian brothers and sisters, or alone in a crowd.
“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19 ESV).
By Hally Franz –
The 8th Annual Walk for Missions was introduced yesterday at my daughter’s school. The kick-off assembly included a student drama depicting how to properly solicit sponsors, a rousing song with dance moves led by students, the reveal of prizes for most laps and most money, and, most importantly, an explanation of the six mission projects the children will walk for.
Among them were an individual and one family serving in mission fields around the world, an inner-city center serving impoverished families while sharing the gospel, a Christian camp for deaf youth, a team of youth bettering communities each summer, and a large disaster relief effort. What a wonderful list of serving endeavors! What wonderful ways to glorify Him!
Last night, when I attended my home church’s Wednesday evening Bible class, we began a new study on how to share the gospel with others. Many won’t ever serve as missionaries in remote parts of the world, but we can certainly work to win souls in our own backyard. However, that is easier said than done.
Our leader spoke about the challenges of introducing the topic of salvation to others. She discussed the fears we have about conversations like this. She pointed out the importance of timing and having a relationship with the other person first. And, she reminded us we should be prepared when we broach a topic that may well have eternal ramifications. We are to plant a seed that will hopefully grow into a life-long faith, and we are to do it in the best possible way.
We are a culture hungry for information. We take dance lessons and exercise classes. People sit through full-day courses on how to use self-defense and hunting weapons safely. We attend lectures and author talks. We seek information about nutrition, self-sufficiency, crafts, and an infinite list of other subjects. But, how often do we sit and learn how to share with others the most important information that exists?
In our Bible class, we’re going to be taught where to go to find answers for specific questions a new believer may have. We’re going to learn to field questions that may distract from the immediate issue of salvation. And, we’re going to be given the tools to be effective witnesses.
I am happy my daughter will learn about missionaries serving abroad; I’m grateful for instruction on how I can be one here at home.
PRAYER: Almighty God, give me courage and wisdom to be an effective missionary for You. Help me to recognize and seize opportunities to tell others, and help me to do so as prescribed in Your word.
“The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose. And each one will be rewarded for his own work” (1 Corinthians 3:8 ERV).