By Hally Franz –
My children are members of Spring Branch Helping Hands 4-H Club, which formed when some families left the very large club, Spring Creek Lively Steppers. Both groups include kids with busy appendages and busy moms. As the current club leader, I write the monthly agendas, which include the roll call portion of the meeting. At each meeting, a truly thought-provoking question is posed to the young people. Their responses to the question verify their attendance.
Example questions include:
“What’s the scariest movie you have seen?” (October)
“Name a spring bird.” (April)
“What’s your favorite event at the county fair?” (July)
During our November meeting, kids were asked to name their favorite Thanksgiving food. My kindergarten nephew responded “beef – hot beef” with notable male enthusiasm. While his grandparents are cattle people, our Thanksgiving feast includes more foul than red meat.
There are usually a few “huh’s” or “whaaat’s” as we work through the list. These individuals have not paid attention to the assignment and need the question repeated for them specifically. A few members will simply say “here” indicating they choose not to participate. Others, sometimes even those with “W” names, are still pondering the question and require a few extra moments before answering. No problem – there are only 53 members in our group! A few of the younger, lively, helpful children go mute when their names are called, so their parents will account for them. Finally, there are the stars who consistently have appropriate, ready responses when their names are called. God love them!
Last night, we sang “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” I wondered about what questions will be posed for us at our Heavenly reunion. Will the Almighty ask me my favorite Bible verse or that I name one of Jesus’s miracles? Will it be something easy or a head-scratcher as I enter the gates?
And, what of my response to Him? Surely, I won’t appear clueless or oblivious, but rather attentive and engaged. I hope to be prepared, so as not to keep Him waiting, and I would wish to be humble, but not speechless. No attention-seeking silliness or comedic answers will do. I’d like to have a stellar response.
Perhaps, I should just hope that our Heavenly Father is less judgmental and more patient than any busy 4-H mom!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to be prepared for that awesome meeting with You that awaits me, and all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (Ezra 7:10 NIV).
By Elaine James –
This is it! Huddle up! The biggest sports event viewed in the year. All the tailgating, home, bars and restaurant parties are in full planning mode. Everyone excited and rooting for their team.
All this hype! It is incredible what time is put into the biggest sporting event of the year.
The New Year is in full swing with each of us making resolutions, goals, dreams, projecting and forecasting for the year.
My mind (emphasis added) shifts to the last days of Jesus life. The disciples were unsure of Jesus’ last play! The Super Bowl can be likened to the Last Supper. Jesus worked hard to get there. With the same passion as a NFL player, Jesus is at the top of His game. How far would a player go to win the game? To win, Jesus went as far as His death on the cross.
In this New Year I look for things that I can tackle so I can be in control. How can I get my head in the game (pun intended) of life for this New Year? Let’s huddle together, call out the play and move out to our positions.
Where is your position? Right here, right now, what is your game plan? Where is your play book (the Bible)? Are you looking at the plays from a distance, saying “Yea, yea, I’ll get to it and read it?” But you never quite find the time.
I liken this New Year to this epic football game. I have to laugh! My friend kiddingly says his motto is “Football, the greatest game ever!”
My own motto for Jesus is this: “The cross, the greatest act of love ever!” It’s true. For God so loved you, He gave His life.
Many give back to the game by going to the games, rooting for their favorite players or buying all the merchandise. The fans have overwhelming passion as they cheer “We have to win.” I’ve even heard many fans yell “I LOVE THIS GAME!”
In the New Year ask yourself “Are you willing to love Jesus back?” Shout for joy “I love you Jesus!” May God bless our stadiums (churches) with a great cheering section for 2013.
“Bravo, GOD, Bravo! Everyone join in the great shout: Encore! In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might” (Psalm 96:7 MSG).
By Elaine James –
“-we will find out who rules the land!” shouted out Matthew Perry in his new sitcom called Go On. Matthew Perry’s character Ryan King, a supposedly famous sportscaster, is in a small therapy group where he is trying to deal with the death of his wife. He decides to take over the group, stating, “Be honest when you sit here listening to someone else’s problems, you may smile and nod but a big part of you is thinking ‘My thing is worse than your thing. Am I right?’” They all nod in agreement.
With that reality in mind, Ryan calls their challenge March Sadness and he creates a competition. He blurts out, “We’re all going to go head to head. You have five seconds to tell your sob stories. Winners advance. We go a couple of rounds and we know once and for all who rules the land.”
The New Year was just celebrated and life will go on. But how do we go on? Another year of…(name your complaint.) There are many tragic “sob stories” in the Bible. One caught my eye as an example of how we can learn to “go on.”
King Nebuchadnezzar obtained high status and power as a king. He saw Daniel’s God rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace, but the truth of how great their God is faded and he continued to rule the land.
He commissioned Daniel to interpret a dream. Daniel interpreted it this way: “The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” It took Nebuchadnezzar seven years to acknowledge “Heaven Rules.”
In the television series Go On, Ryan tries to make light of life disasters by awarding a person as ruler of the land if they can prove their problems were the worst, but offers no solution on how to actually ‘Go On.’
No one likes pain. To go on, Nebuchadnezzar had to acknowledge that Heaven does indeed rule. The popular sitcom hits on the funny parody of life struggles. This was truly worth the laugh.
But the truth is that ‘Going On’ requires Jesus.
PRAYER: Father I have some sob stories. I want to go on and get past the pain and live as You ask me to live. You ask me to “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” Help me to get back to You and be grateful in all things. In Jesus name I pray.
By Hally Franz –
I made a bold move during the Christmas season of 2012. After years of considering, even threatening this particular change, I made the move. I did not send cards, letters or pictures out for the holiday – no festive stamped correspondence at all. It was a tough thing to give up. I like the tradition and enjoy receiving greetings from friends and family, but this season I felt I could spend my time better in other ways.
So, as we begin 2013, I am going to expand this mindset of reducing. Typically, my resolutions are in the form of tasks I hope to accomplish in the New Year. I resolve to: cook healthier meals for my family, maintain a regular routine of exercise, complete scrapbooks for our family’s last ten years of vacations, read more, write more, clean out my basement and so on. The list is pretty much the same each year, because the same tasks usually remain undone from year to year.
This year, I am staging a revolt against the standard resolution list that I make annually. Perhaps, “revolt” is too strong a word. I am not really a revolt kind of girl. Given the fact that I just used the word “girl” to describe myself, I may be delusional, but revolutionary I am not. Let’s call it a simple rebellion.
My 2013 resolution is to cut back. For many of us, those working both outside and in the home, our lists of obligations and duties tend to accumulate over time. When I left my school counseling position a few years ago I had an open slate for a time. Soon, though, I had taken on a variety of activities connected with school, church, my kids’ extra-curricular activities and more. Now, I often find myself overwhelmed with tasks and no closer to accomplishing those resolution items that linger.
It’s time to eliminate stuff from my life, both literally and figuratively. I think I will start by examining what I do and why I do it, by really asking if this is something in which I need to continue investing my time and talent.
Maybe you’ll want to give it a try. It’s daring to be sure. I’m committed, though, and when asked what my New Year’s Resolution is for 2013, I’ll proudly announce that I am not taking on anything new; I’m just going to do a lot less!
PRAYER: Lord, guide me to make good choices in my life. Give me wisdom to select the activities and goals that You deem worthy and in accordance with Your plan for me.
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV).
By Elaine James –
This week I took a frozen turkey and put it in the refrigerator to defrost. I realized how that was very similar to what had happened to my brain recently. It took three days to defrost both the turkey and my brain.
My frozen lips could only come out with “Help me!” That heart cry started a God-brain-defrost.
God appears to be in the refrigeration business. Relief came slowly, like the defrosting of a turkey. I was becoming aware that my brain had been hardening from my daily devotions. My spiritual intake appears to not have been enough. I was rationalizing and reasoning about how much reading of the Bible I needed, since I can quote New Testament stories in my head.
My brain freeze stated, “I know that story and I don’t need to read it.” My brain being frozen tried a new tactic avowing, “Once you start reading you won’t have enough time for the rest of your schedule.” My hurry up and do something response was winning over spending time reading the word.
But a freezer alert light came on in my brain! God got out His tools and began to help me be aware of how I needed to dismiss all of the arguments. First tool of choice; reading, John 15-17.
I melted! I can’t explain the phenomenon of God’s word. Simply put by God “Don’t question it, it defrosts.” The passion story and last words of Christ gave me strength.
You know when you get a brain freeze and it hurts? After it defrosts, you get hungry again. After this, I had a renewed hunger for God’s word.
Funny! I am hearing in my head the song Hokey Pokey. You put your whole head in, you put your whole head out, you put your whole head in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself about. That’s what it’s all about!
“For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me” (John 17:8).
Apparently, God helps defrost our brain so we can dance together!