Thankful for Bananas & Vacations

March 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Last Thanksgiving I was driving in my van with my then four year old daughter. From the back seat her little voice piped up, “Is Thanksgiving the day we thank Jesus for things?”  I smiled and told her it is.

She continued, “Like grass?”

“Yes, like grass,” I answered.

“And trees?”

“Yes, and trees.”

Her list continued, “For apples and pears?”

“Yep, apples and pears.”

“And bananas?”

“Even bananas.” I began wondering how long her list was going to go.

“For houses?”

“Yes,” I answered aloud while silently thinking, “It’s a long car ride; I can keep this game up awhile.”

“And cars?”

“Yes, thankful for cars.”

“And hotels and vacations?”

I burst out laughing as her list suddenly took a turn from the practical and necessary to the fun and fanciful.  I knew she’d crack me up eventually and apparently this was her desired objective as her list came to an end at this point. At that time we had no travel plans for the holiday season and her last hotel and vacation experience had been several months previous. However, the idea of a vacation and the fun of a hotel are always forefront in her little mind.

In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word translated as thanksgiving does not denote a mere listing of all the things for which we are thankful.  First and foremost for the Israelites, thanksgiving was preceded by confession. Confession, and the resulting forgiveness, overflowed into praise and thanksgiving to God.

I have much to be thankful for this season.  Like my youngest, I am thankful for creation, food, a home, and even vacations.  I could add more to her list as well. Most of all, though, I am thankful I can come before a loving Heavenly Father in a spirit of confession.  I am thankful that when I do, He turns my tears of repentance into tears of joy.  I am thankful for His Son who died to make that relationship possible and who will return again to establish a kingdom of peace on earth.  Finally, I am thankful for His Spirit who guides and helps me as I walk this earthly journey.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalm 100:4-5 NIV)

But it’s just a Small Stain!

February 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Looking so pretty in one of her favorite dresses, my five-year-old daughter was ready for church. I warned her to be careful not to drip any chocolate milk on her dress.

“I’ll be careful, mom.”

She put the cup to her mouth. The next thing we knew and before we could stop it, the damaging drip rolled down the side of her mouth and landed on the front of her dress.

Her daddy told her to go to her room and pick a different dress from her closet. With chocolate still on her mouth, her face wrinkled up into a cry. “But it’s just a small stain!” she cried as the tears started to flow. True to her perseverant nature, or should I say stubborn nature, she continued to cry. Between sobs she would remind us, “But it’s just a small stain!”

As I loaded the dishwasher and watched this play out, her repetition of the phrase, “But it’s just a small stain!” struck something within me. As my five-year-old cried because she wasn’t getting her way, I wondered how many adults cry out those same words to God as the Spirit works to reveal the sin in their life.

The Spirit prompts, “Did you lie to your boss?”

You answer, “But it’s just a small stain!”

“Were you mean to your husband? Were you impatient with your children?”

You cry, “But it’s just a small stain!”

“Did you gossip at church?”

You plead, “But it’s just a small stain!”

We may think we are a good person and those small stains won’t really matter but God does not see it that way. I thought of the verse, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10 NIV). Whether the stain was small or ran all the way down my daughter’s front side didn’t matter. Either way, the dress was still stained and she could no longer wear it to church. Likewise, we all have stains on our souls. Because of those stains, we can no longer have a personal relationship with God. He looks at us and in His sovereignty says, “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me” (Jeremiah 2:22 NIV). However, He also looks at us with love and compassion stirs within Him. That is why He provided a way for our stains to be removed. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV).

Have you allowed Jesus to wash away your stains?  Don’t let stubbornness rule as you, like my daughter, keep crying, “But it’s just a small stain.”

What’s Wrong Here?

November 4, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

I have been temporarily working in the office of a local Christian school. Most of my time is spent either in the lobby answering telephones or updating files in the back room. I haven’t spent much time in the main office area. However, on my second day, a question regarding a phone call sent me back to an open area where four desks sit, with the office of the school director just beyond them. I walked in and asked my question but while we were discussing it, the director, while on her way to her office, walked into the open area and started laughing. I hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary in the office so I was surprised by her laughter. To explain her laughter, the director said, “You are all in the wrong place; you usually sit here, you are usually over there, and you sit right here!” I was new and barely even knew everyone’s names. I definitely didn’t know which desk belonged to which person. The director, used to seeing them each at their own desk day after day, knew immediately when something was off.

Since I didn’t have the day after day exposure to what was correct in the office, I didn’t recognize when people were out of place. I just knew all of the right people were in the office. Similarly, someone with a surface knowledge of Christianity might walk into a church, read an article, or listen to a spiritual message where all of the right elements are present and not be able to discern that the elements are out of place. God is mentioned although the name of Jesus may never come up. Prayers are said but they bounce off the ceiling. Perhaps, Bible verses are even read, albeit out of context.

The director knew what she was seeing was off because she was in the office every day. The Bible is the source of what is correct and true. Like the school director, when we read and study the Word of God on a regular basis, we can walk into a church, read an article, or listen to a spiritual message and recognize when things are out of place. We will be able to discern the truth.

David wrote in the Old Testament, “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5 NIV). We often long for God to show us His way, to teach us or guide us. We want to know right from wrong and truth from false teaching. We want to be like the director who walked in the room and immediately recognized something was off. The Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 NIV) but He uses Scripture to do it. Unless we are regularly spending time reading, studying and memorizing His Word, we will be as oblivious as I was when I walked in the office and everyone was out of place.

The Scrambler

September 25, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall  –

Summertime brings outdoor fun as schoolbooks close and amusement parks open. We recently took our two oldest daughters to an amusement park with plenty of thrill rides and good times. They rode “The Scrambler,” a ride with four cars on each of three arms that spin and weave in and out of each other. Just as the earth rotates on its axis as it also revolves around the earth, each group of cars rotates as they also revolve around the central trunk of the ride. My husband and I decided to sit this ride out and waited for them by the exit.

Despite the speed and craziness of their spinning, each time their car spun around so it was facing us, we would make eye contact, smile and sometimes wave. For a brief moment, we would connect and be a stable, non-shifting point in their ride. We were a constant that didn’t change even though their car and every car around them spun wildly.

As I stood there watching and waiting for the next moment when they would face me and our eyes would connect, I thought about how God is a constant reference point for us as we spin around in a crazy world. God doesn’t revolve and rotate like the cars on the ride or the planets in the heavens. Indeed, He created the stars and the planets and set them moving on their paths. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV).

God’s constancy, absoluteness and stability are displayed in many ways. His unequivocal word will not shift or change. What He has spoken, He will do; what He has promised, He will fulfill (Numbers 23:19). Regardless of how we might be seeing things, God’s covenants will not change and will not be broken (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 7:20-22). The heavens and the earth will wear out and be changed like a piece of clothing but even then God will remain the same (Psalm 102:25-27).

Like the ride my daughters rode, what is spinning in your world right now? In the midst of the in’s and out’s of chaos and craziness, how can you connect with the One who does not change? God’s word, His covenants and His being will not change. Matthew 7 teaches that a wise man builds his life upon these things and finds stability regardless of what swirls around him.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The Proverbs 31…Man?

August 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Many of us are acquainted with the Proverbs 31 Woman. Not to get into name-calling, but sometimes she goes by Noble, and some people call her Virtuous. I prefer to call her Chayil Woman because that’s her name in Hebrew. When her name comes up in conversation, we think, “Oh no, not her again.” I know that’s how I felt until I took the time to get to know her. Then I saw the side of her most people don’t see; a valiant woman protecting and defending her home and her children from the invading evils of the world.

Although she is primarily known as a child of God, she is also widely seen as a wife. Her role as a wife makes me wonder, have any of us ever met her husband, the Proverbs 31 Man? How would we recognize the Chayil Man?

In Proverbs 31, our proverbial sister is introduced in verse ten, and her husband puts in an appearance in the very next verse. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11-12 NIV). The Chayil Man is confident because his wife is strong, capable, faithful, and generous. Her actions add goodness to their life together rather than distress or misery. He has confidence and a sense of security in knowing his wife takes care of issues with wisdom.

Like many men, the Chayil Man is quiet for several verses and appears again in Proverbs 31:23. “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” The Chayil Man is respected. His wife doesn’t ridicule or criticize him to his face, to her friends or to her mother. She doesn’t subtly or overtly manipulate and control him. Just as he loves her as Christ loved the church, she submits to his authority (Ephesians 5:22-25). Her private and public respect not only increases his confidence, but also enables others to recognize him as a man worthy of respect.

Finally, the Chayil Couple is mentioned in Proverbs 12:4, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” The Chayil Man is crowned. In the culture in which these verses were written, a crown or a wreath was a sign of joy and honor. The Chayil Woman adds joy and honor to his life which he displays for the world to see. She isn’t known for disgraceful behavior that is like decay in his bones, or, in other words, a shame he hides deep within himself.

Proverbs teaches the Chayil Man is confident, crowned and respected. The rest of Scripture presents him as a mighty warrior, a strong and powerful man of valor. Maybe you recognize him or maybe this is the first time you’ve been introduced to him. For us as women to become who we are created to be as chayil – Hebrew for noble or virtuous – women, we need to start recognizing our men for who they are: confident, respected and crowned men of valor.

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