Who is your enemy?

“You’re familiar with the old written late, “Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate our enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” Matthew 5:43,44

Sunday, I heard a sermon about loving your friend and hating your enemy. The pastor used Jonah as an example of a servant of God who hated the sinful people of Nineveh and chose to run away rather than minister to them. After spending three days of “thinking” time in the belly of a big fish, he gave in and went to Nineveh to do the job God assigned to him. However, it didn’t sit well that God forgave the sinful people, and Jonah pouted and complained to God–even asked for God to take his life. He could not love his enemy.

Years ago my three co-workers in a law firm harshly judged and shunned me for having been appointed the manager of the office. Each of them had been led to believe they would be chosen. I became the enemy, and it took weeks for each of them to work through their frustration and accept me as the manager. I felt hated for being the “chosen one.” In reality, the position turned out to be a challenge with more responsibility and no extra money. In reality, they became satisfied with their role in the office.

Lord, help love everyone, including the unloveable, and leave the judging to God. Amen.

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Remembering those who trained you.

“That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice.” 2 Timothy 1:5

grandmother Twedt was an important influence in my life. I remember her every time I make my bed and tuck the sheet into a nice square military corner just as she taught me. She showed me how to serve a nice Sunday meal on good China, and made sure there were Kringla and Chocolate cake ready for “coffee time” desert. She’s been gone for nearly fifty years, but when I think of her, she I still get that “sting” behind my eye as if tears were trying to form.I also remember how much she loved the Lord and never missed a televised Billy Graham crusade.

Marc Chernoff posts daily on Marc and Angel Hack Life and wrote “12 Things My Grandmother Told Me Before She Died.” She had written words of wisdom in a journal, and one message was “Breathe in the future breathe out the past.” Basically, she wisely knew that the past is gone forever, so expel it and breathe in the future. One can miss a lot life if always expecting, assuming, or demanding something that can’t be changed or that is unrealistic–just do your best to live for the day.

I wish I had written down some of the words of wisdom my grandmother shared with me.

Lord, let us learn from the wise people we have known in our past. Amen.

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Random Acts of Kindness …

She [Ruth] said, “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!” Ruth 2:16

This week has been set aside to observe National Random Acts of Kindness. The story in the Book of Ruth epitomizes acts of kindness. When Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, became widows, in order to survive Naomi chose to return to Bethlehem and encouraged Naomi Ruth to go home to her people, Ruth refused, saying, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live.” (Ruth 1:16) An extreme act of kindness.

Naomi introduced Ruth to her cousin, Boaz, and Ruth began to glean his fields to provide food for Naomi and herself. Boaz, out of a random act of kindness, instructed his field workers to leave extra grain for Ruth to easily glean. Eventually, they were married.

Research shows when married couples do random acts of kindness to one another, they become more emotionally involved as a couple. Acts of kindness have always made me feel loved and cared for far more than bringing me flowers or candy. On Valentine’s Day, my friend, Frank, knowing how much I love popcorn, kindly purchased a jar of popcorn and popped me a big bowl full the old fashioned way. Today, I’m making him chocolate chip  cookies.

Dear Lord, help us be kinder and more loving all year long. Amen.

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God knows …

“God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.” Isaiah 26:12

We pray for something specific things and wait for results. Sometimes, our prayers are answered in a way to protect us from ourselves. Other times we are simply blessed.

Shortly before retiring, I took a four week writer’s class in Sun City. I did it more out of curiosity than with the goal of becoming a published author. One day during a session, I read a story I had written about my marriage therapy and recovery. Someone in the class suggested I try to get the story published.

I put the idea in the back of my mind until one day I picked up a Guidepost magazine at the office and a thumbed through it. Staring at me was the invitation to submit an article to the Guidepost Writer’s Workshop.” Maybe this would be a good place to submit the story, I thought and emailed it to the magazine editor.I had no idea I had entered a contest. A few months later, I learned my story had been selected, along with eleven other winners, and I would go to Rye, New York, and spend a week working with authors and editors, and my story would be published.

After this event, everything I became comfortable in the writer’s world. Now in retirement, I have found peace and satisfaction in writing daily meditation moments. God knew just what I needed.

God, you are good all the time! Amen.

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Don’t believe it!

“God says, I’ll knock the wind out of the Egyptians. They won’t know coming from going. They’ll go to their god-idols for answers; they’ll conjure ghosts and hold séances, desperate for answers.  Isaiah 19:1-2

At a slumber party, I was introduced to an Ouija board. A circle of junior high-age girls sat on the floor in a circle and watched while two girls took control of the small heart-shaped piece of wood called a planchette. One girl would ask a question, such as “Will Dennis ask me to the dance?” and then both girls would put their fingers on the planchette and wait until it began to move. It usually started out slowly and then would dart toward either the word “yes” or “no.” Or, someone would ask, “How many children will I have?” and the little piece of wood would point to a number. It was even possible to spell out words.

After reading Wikipedia, I discovered some scientists consider the movement of the planchette to be caused by ideomotor response. I always thought one of the girls just pushed the planchette to get the results she wanted.

Some Christian groups consider the use of a Ouija board to be seeking information from the supernatural, not God. Whenever we seek answers from a source other than from another human or God, we are not in line with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from which the truth comes.

Lord, bind our hands and minds when we seek help from sources that can lead us astray. Amen.

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Choose the best for you!

“You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others.” James 2:9

Yesterday I took my friend to an ice cream shop for a Valentine treat. The place is known for their homemade ice cream. The guy behind the counter generously offered us samples before making a choice, but other than sampling the cornbread ice cream, I took my chance on bacon ice cream, strawberry, triple chocolate, and salted caramel. I thumbed my nose at the avocado, peanut butter chocolate, and others. We sat on the patio and tried to pretend like we were enjoying this overly priced homemade ice cream. In realty the flavors I chose did nothing to complement one another.

Life is about making choices and works well in retirement. I can get up at any time I choose, go out for the day or stay home in my PJ’s. I can eat breakfast at noon and popcorn for dinner. I can travel or stay home. Life is good. But like ice cream, making too many varied choices of activities in one day can make for an exhausted evening and a sense that I didn’t enjoy any of it as much as I would have doing one great adventure or outing. And, if I had chosen chocolate, my favorite ice cream, I would have been more pleased.

Dear Lord, help me remember to choose to spend time with you each day. Amen.

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Have faith …

Whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.” 1 John 2:1

A friend shared a “dark” story with me: Jan lives alone in the farmhouse in which she grew up in Southwestern Nebraska.
One night during a blizzard, she awoke and discovered the electricity had gone out and everything in and outside was pitch black.

Jan knew she needed to get to the kitchen to make a call to the power company. When she flipped on the flashlight, the battery was dead, so she inched her way across the living room and tripped over a footstool. A few seconds later, her cat came up alongside her and guided her safely to the kitchen where she was able to find another flashlight and make the call. Soon the electricity was restored.

Hatred is like stumbling around in the dark with dead batteries. We need intervention—something to soften the heart and guide our way to a peaceful settlement.

Lord, please catch me when I stumble over a relationship gone awry. Amen.

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God’s anazing manatees …

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle.” Genesis 1:36

Another jewel in the Florida State Park system is Blue Springs Park with the largest natural spring on the St. Johns River. The park is popular from November through March as the manatees find refuge in the warm water. I was fortunate to see over fifty of these large animals in shallow water, watching them flip their relatively small fins to navigate toward the natural spring. I patiently waited for one to surface long enough to take get a picture of their noses above water grabbing for a breath of air.

The manatee (also known as a sea cow) can grow to be 13 feet long and nearly 1300 pounds. They are far from God’s most beautiful creatures (in my opinion), but these mammals are amazing to watch as they gracefully paddle under the surface of the water alongside other manatees.

God created animals and put them in the care of humans. Some wise forefathers established the park systems in our cities, counties, states, and nation for humans and animals to enjoy. The management of this park controls the vehicles going in and out because of limited parking space. It was worth the half hour wait to get through the gate.

Thank you, Father, for finding joy in observing the fish and mammals of the sea. Amen.

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“So bow to him in deep reverence, one and all! If you’re wise, you’ll most certainly worship him.” Job 37:24

Today I worshiped at the largest Baptist church in Florida—First Orlando Baptist Church–with a membership of over 14,000 people. I’ve never heard a choir with hundreds of members singing with orchestra accompaniment. Awesome—that’s the best word to describe the music and worship service and what a treasure to be among the congregation.

The pastor, Dr. David Uth, preached on Hebrews 11:8-16 and Genes 12:1-4, the story of Abraham and how he obeyed God’s call. You know the story, God promised Abraham he would be the father of a great nation. In return, Abraham did everything God told him to do. To remind him of who God is, he built an altar to worship him.

We worship God not because of the good things God provides, but because it is our way to keep our eyes on God, not on our own desires. Pastor Uth said, “And, worship is a place to hear God better.” He reminded us that when we are called to serve God, we need to keep our eyes directly on him and not to doubt our worthiness, to trust that even though we have no idea where we are going to make faith a verb and do something—move toward God.

Lord, when we worship you alone or with thousands, help us hear your message and go forward in faith. Amen.

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Don’t tear them down …

“You’ve played havoc with this country. Your houses are stuffed with what you’ve stolen from the poor. What is this anyway? Stomping on my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dirt?” Isaiah 3:14,15

According to “YahooAnswers.com, “The rich get richer because they are really good at acquiring wealth. The poor are getting poorer because the rich are taking more wealth than the system is generating. Kind of like the farmer increasing the amount of milk he is taking from the cow and watching the calf get skinnier.”

God spoke through Isaiah to tell the people to stop taking advantage of the very people they stomped on. In other words, the rich who caused the poor to become poorer–give them a job with minimum pay, but expect them to buy products and pay rent that leaves no money to enjoy life.

An old song declared, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, in between times, ain’t we got fun.” Perhaps those who suffered during the great depression learned how to have fun with what they had. My father was a young man during the depression. He told how neighbors and friends entertained each other by opening their homes for dances. The host rolled up their rugs and amateur musicians played fiddles, piano, mouth harp, and accordions, and everyone danced. I like that idea. I have tile floors throughout my house which would be great for dancing.

Lord, help us lift up the poor by being kind and generous. Amen.

 

 

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