By Charlotte Riegel -
While visiting my son’s family, the grandchildren pulled out a bucket of play dough and set to work creating various wondrous things. Lilah, the thoughtful one, quietly began playing with the number molds, filling them, digging out the play dough and lining up the numbers. I wondered if she would soon be setting up a mathematical equation for me to solve.
Silas dug through the bucket looking for anything he could use to make an action figure. He eventually settled on a dinosaur mold that sort of looked like a turtle with holes in the shell for the spikes of a dinosaur. What surprised me was his use of the mold. Instead of filling it to create his beast, he began scraping the play dough across the holes, creating crumbles of play dough, or perhaps sand for his dino to walk in. At any rate, that’s all he did for nearly an hour and I silently wondered if perhaps he might become a chef one day, grating cheese and chocolate.
Zoe sat with a few pieces of play dough and some molds but seemed at a loss as to what she should do with them. “Gramma, can you help me?” she pleaded.
“Of course I can help you. What would you like me to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Well then,” I continued, “if you don’t know what you want me to do, how will you know I have helped you when I’m done?”
She took items out of the bucket and put them back in, then left the table apparently disinterested in play dough activities, and began playing with her dolls.
The next day when I felt at a loss with a circumstance facing me, I cried out to God, “Can you help me with this, Lord?” I immediately heard my play dough activity words to Zoe echo back to me.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
I have never doubted that God can help me, but if I’m not specific with my requests, how will I know that He answered my prayer?
PRAYER: Lord, today I need Your help with organizing my day appropriately to accomplish all that needs doing. And, it would be absolutely fabulous if You helped me succeed without becoming distraught, frustrated, or frantic. Amen.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see” (Mark 10:51 NIV).
By Charlotte Riegel -
As soon as I entered my son’s house, I knew he was distraught. His actions of frustration and his angry words immediately sent me into default mode of ‘run and hide/get out of here quick.’
I grew up with an angry father who raged often and always left something broken in the wake of his fury. Sometimes it was furniture or some other inanimate object left in pieces. Always, the nerves and peace of mind of everyone within earshot of his outburst were shattered. Even in my older age, that childhood fear subtly threatens to paralyze me and subconsciously controls my actions whenever I am near anyone in a rage.
I quickly completed my predetermined business at his house while he slouched in a chair texting on his cell phone, ignoring me. Then I left with a muffled ‘bye.’
An email from my son awaited me at home. It’s message surprised me. He felt as if I had pushed him away, rejected him, when I was responding to his body language that told me he wanted to be left alone.
It was apparent both of us had misunderstood the body language of the other person. I had jumped into my default ‘get out of here quick’ mode when in fact he was emotionally distressed and needed a hug from me as well as an ear to help him process some challenges he was facing.
QUOTE: “I know you think you know what I said. I’m not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant.”
PRAYER: Dear God, Thank You for the relationships in our lives. Give us the words, actions and heart so that we may love as You do.
By Michelle Lim -
Kids are the most creative moochers alive. If you don’t think so, just ask my five year old about babysitting popcorn.
I love popcorn. Thankfully, most of my kids prefer a different kind of popcorn than me. But my youngest will delight in whatever is available. He likes to shadow me to enjoy both his snack time and mine.
On one such afternoon, I’d popped a bowl of Kettle Corn and sat down to check email. Before you know it, two little eyeballs topped off with a carrot-top cowlick popped up over the edge of the blanket. Then, a shuffle of feet.
He is sitting next to me, feet extended, grabbing a handful of popcorn and cramming it in his mouth before I catch on and stop him. The phone rang and the next thing I knew, I was half a bowl down.
He folded his hands in his lap as I hung the phone to stare in my deplenished stash. Of course my son was feeling a bit sheepish about overtaking my snack, right?
His next words told the story. “Mommy, I think I’d like to babysit your popcorn for you.”
“You realize babysitting involves taking excellent care of them, not eating them?”
If I let him babysit my popcorn bowl, I’d have had not a kernel to spare. All in good fun, I would have feared the worst, anticipating bad news.
Our faith is much the same way. Sometimes we lay out our plans filled with all of the right ingredients, but it is hard to leave it in God’s hands. After all, in the process of watching over them, I often let my plans morph into something I didn’t intend at the beginning.
Just like my son thought he’d only eat one piece of popcorn, pretty soon he was babysitting popcorn and changing the whole picture.
Are you babysitting popcorn? Are you changing the picture in your own way because you just can’t trust it to God? I relate to this way more than I should.
Believe that God can handle your dreams. It is time to let God do the babysitting. After all, how can you chase your dreams and put the work in necessary to succeed if you can’t trust God to follow through?
“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them” (Psalm 112:7 NIV)
By Cheri Cowell -
I love Dr. Seuss! At Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park there’s a whole section dedicated to Seuss-ville. The Cat in the Hat ride tells the story of Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the destruction they create while Mom is gone. They do all the things Mom told them not to do and create a big huge mess while doing it. Then they hear Mom coming, and in a flash clean everything up just in time for her to walk through the door.
I believe we like that story so much because each of us harbors that rebellious spirit. Even though we know what to do, we choose to continue to disobey and do things we know we ought not to. We play this sort of cat and mouse (no pun intended) with God, hoping we can clean up our messes just in time for Him to walk through the door. It doesn’t work that way in real life, and we know it.
This is one of the scriptures that the popular “Left Behind” book series is based upon. Don’t get caught up in the details of this passage. God is not giving us “hints” so we can figure out when to expect Him. Jesus makes the point that life will seem to be going on as usual when His Second Coming will take place. Will we be rushing around trying to clean things up, or will we be ready?
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:36-42 NIV).
PRAYER: Thank You, God, that You will indeed return at the perfect time. Help me to be the faithful servant; ready, taking care of Your people, not seeking self-serving pleasures. Then help me become someone You can safely put in charge of “all Your possessions.”
By Jarrod Spencer -
People will sometimes ask me what made me choose to begin a career in ministry. I may disappoint some when I don’t have this eureka-like experience of feeling “called” to this position.
I didn’t have ministry on my radar at all growing up. I fell in love with the work of the manager/trainer in high school. I started out as the “water boy” type of person. Just your typical freshman who was the errand boy and carried the equipment out to practice and games, along with making sure there was water for the players. I was pretty much the bottom of the barrel in the way of popularity and respect. However, there was something about it that I greatly enjoyed. My pursuit of this career took me through college and two years as a professional trainer at a community college.
Somewhere during my last year and a half of college and my two years in the profession of being an athletic trainer and instructor, my focus started to shift toward ministry. It piqued my interest and I gathered some advice. Soon, I decided to go into something I never thought I would be even remotely interested in pursuing.
It didn’t take long to realize that I love ministry. As a person who has several talents, ministry has allowed me to use those talents to touch the lives of many people.
As you can see, there really was no “Aha!” moment, but rather the idea of ministry came through influence and something inside of me that seemed to click with the profession. One thing that I have always had a difficult time doing is fitting into a “box” when it came to ministry.
I did not want to have the stigma that was attached to ministers. I have always liked to be real and approachable. I want people to still be themselves even when a “preacher” is around. I love the opportunities that have come about through being in ministry to help people. These are some of the priceless moments.
A few years back, a church was looking for a minster and listed the following phrases in their job opening: “long hours, little pay, great retirement benefits.” They were being lighthearted with their advertising, but for most of us who work in ministry, this holds true.
Most don’t realize how much goes on in a minister’s life. It is generally not a physically laborious position, but there is a lot that goes into the mental side of things. We are always “on duty” in the eye of the public. We must be wary of the way we conduct ourselves for threat of rumor that can dampen our influence. We are not done at 5:00 PM, for someone can call us at a moment’s notice. We try to please everyone.
Some even think we work for them instead of Him.
Each minister or pastor has their various passions. Each has their own delivery style. Each one is different. However, this is important; each minister has feelings and runs out of steam once in a while. I hope you take the time to embrace and encourage your minister throughout the year. You have no idea of all that happens behind the scenes.
Let’s appreciate those who serve us!
PRAYER: Father, thank You for all the opportunities I have had to serve others in the way of ministry. I appreciate You so much for giving me the opportunity.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NIV).