Show and Tell

15 Nov

A kindergarten teacher gave her class a “Show and Tell” assignment. Each student was instructed to bring in an object toShowAndTellToday share with the class – something that represented their religion.

Benjamin stood before his classmates and said, “I am Jewish, and this is a Star of David.”

Mary got up next. “I am Catholic and this is a rosary,” she said.

Then it was Tommy’s turn. He reached down into a big bag, took out his Show and Tell object, and walked to the front of the room. “I’m a Baptist,” he said,  “and this is a casserole!”

Now I would have preferred for little Tommie to show his Bible – but that’s funny!

This got me thinking about the “Show and Tell” people might experience in my own neighborhood. What does my life “show” or demonstrate to my neighbors? What did they really hear in our conversations?

Growing up, I don’t remember much interaction with my neighbors. We were a Navy family and moved many times. Maybe that’s why we never put down roots or reached out to our neighbors.

My husband’s family, on the other hand, loved to tell me stories about how they talk to and ministered to their neighbors – especially a grumpy one next door. Reaching out was part of their Christian stewardship.

When I got married– after I turned my life over to the Lord –I had the opportunity to think biblically. I’ve been thinking about the subtle Show and Tell my husband and I share in our own daily routines.

It’s simple things:

  • When my neighbor sees us driving off to church every Sunday but she works on her front yard garden, that speaks volumes about our commitment to church, if not Jesus.
  • When another neighbor tells a smutty story and sees how that makes me uncomfortable, that speaks of my commitment to holiness.
  • When we give our seven nearest neighbors Christmas treats every year, we are building relationships. We so want them to understand the greatest Gift, Jesus; and the Lord is giving us opportunities to share the Word of God.

Matthew 5:16 tells us to let our light shine before others. I like the way the Living Bible expresses this (verses 15-16):  “Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.”

Your neighbors desperately need a daily demonstration of the reality of your faith and walk with God.

When we Show and Tell our relationship with the Lord in practical ways, our neighbors will see our “good works” and, hopefully, be drawn to our Father God. We can create opportunities to explain the “light” they see!

How is your life a Show and Tell demonstration to others – especially your neighbors – about your life in Christ?

- Dawn

Graphic Adapted, Image courtesy of Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Can We Be Perfect?

8 Nov

I love these “perfect” one-liners:ImPerfekt_Not

  • “No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.”
  • “I’m a nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I’m perfect.”
  • “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change OFTEN!” – Winston Churchill

I was thinking about Matthew 5:48, which tells us to be “perfect.”

Is that ever possible in this world?

Pastor Daniel Harrell wrote about his efforts – along with 19 members of his congregation – to spend 30 days “living Levitically.” He describes, in How to Be Perfect, their experiment to understand some of the biblical commands in the book of Leviticus. How would Jesus have obeyed this book? How can we, like our Lord, live perfectly for the Father?

Their ultimate goal was holiness, but in the process, they discovered their “overwhelming need for God’s grace” in order to obey the book’s precepts.

Paul said, in Galatians 3:24, the law was meant to be a guardian, watching over us until the Messiah came. (Some scholars say the word is “school master” or “tutor,” but too many envision a tutor-taskmaster with a big stick, trying to keep someone in line! The clearer translation of the word paidagógos is guardian or trainer.) In the ancient world, a legally-appointed paidagógos took care of a wealthy family’s children (until the children matured), guiding them toward maturity and helping them make wise moral choices.

Paul was saying the law was given to protect us until the Messiah would come to justify us by faith. Another function of the law was to show sinners their dreadful condition without the Savior. No one can keep the law well enough to be right with God (Galatians 3:11; Romans 3:10-12).

But it’s important to remember: The law was meant to be a servant, not a cruel taskmaster.

So the scriptures teach us, the law was put in charge of us to lead us to Christ. The Holy Spirit used the law to convict sinners and illustrate the need for Redeemer and the mercy of God. But after faith in Jesus comes – when we receive Him as our Savior and Lord – we are no longer in need of this special “guardian” (Galatians 3:25-26).

Harrell wrote: “… The Levitical month ended up not being about our ability to obey enough, but about our ability to trust God enough to live the life He’s determined to be the best life to live.”

How do we live a life “set apart” to God so it shows up every day? What in our lives points people to the Lord?

It is Christ in His resurrection power living in us, not the power of the law, that makes the difference (Galatians 2:19-20).

The conclusion of Harold’s book?

“By His grace we are saved. By His grace we obey. It’s the only way to be perfect.”

Being perfect is all about God’s grace. It’s about his gracious work in us …

  • giving us a Savior,
  • changing our hearts,
  • encouraging us to live righteous lives, and ultimately,
  • making us like His Son in Heaven.

Are you resting in the wonderful grace of God today? It’s the only way to become “perfect.”

- Dawn

Marriage: No Regrets

31 Oct

There are some marriage choices that definitely lead to the lament: “I wish I hadn’t done that.” But everyone has some ideas how to avoid regret even the humorists!ChooseWhatYouWantMarriageToBecome

Want to please your wife?

Bring her chocolate. Hug her in the kitchen. Surprise her with a gift card to a jewelry store. Encourage her talents. Compliment her cooking (or, if she doesn’t cook, her choice of a good restaurant). Leave a love note on her pillow. Shop with her – yes, shop with her! Send her flowers for no reason at all. Hold her hand at the mall. Etc. … etc. … etc.

Want to please your husband?

Make happy-hubby choices about three things he loves: Sex, Food and Entertainment.

Isn’t it obvious how different men and women can be? We’re just wired differently. What’s not so apparent is how to enjoy those differences.

One thing I’m sure of:  our choices toward our spouses can affect the relationship. (Note: This post is specifically for married couples, but some principles apply to any relationship.)

Life is so short … and so are our marriages. Even if we celebrate 50, 60 or more years together, the minutes of marriage tick  away so quickly. We need to choose what we want our marriage to become.

I made some “priority choices” early on regarding my marriage, so I don’t have a lot of regret. You may have made similar choices.

Here are my priority choices:

1) The Priorities of Oneness and Mission.

My husband and I are one flesh (Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31); there is no room for others-intimacy in our relationship. (Not even from the TV or movie screen!) We want to keep our marriage pure in our “oneness.”

Whether a couple has a formal mission statement for their marriage or just some clear, specific guidelines, this is so important. For example, my husband and I decided before marriage to be sure Jesus is at the center of our home. And the wonderful thing is, the closer we’ve gotten to Jesus as individuals, the closer we’ve been drawn to each other.

2) The Priorities of Love and Forgiveness.

Love makes any relationship blossom. Love in marriage (Colossians 3:18-19; John 13:34) includes selflessness, sacrifice and a servant’s heart as well as consistent, joyful sexual love (Proverbs 5:18-19).

And couples should learn to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me” early in their relationship (Ephesians 4:32). Every husband and wife learns to adapt to each other’s quirks, but realistically, partners will fail each other many times. Kindness and forgiveness are essential, like oil keeping the relationship running smoothly.

3) The Priorities of Acceptance and Respect.

Our husbands have so many critics in the midst of competition and comparisons in the workplace. I want to be sure I’m always my husband’s best cheerleader (1 Thessalonians 5:11), building him up not tearing him down (nagging, complaining, manipulating, etc.)

Respect should be mutual, but it is especially important for the wife to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Just as we may not appreciate a policeman’s attitude but we respect his authority; the wife is to respect the husband’s position as the head of the home.

4) The Priorities of Time and Focus.

In this busy world, women tend to spread themselves too thin, and sometimes, it’s the husband who gets left out. I always tried to remember that someday my children would be grown and leaving the nest but “Papa Bird” would still be around. All along the way, I cultivated our relationship. I didn’t want to end up a stranger to him.

Have you ever been in the same room with your spouse, and you forget he’s there? We can get so busy with “our stuff,” but doesn’t it make sense that the one we love deserves our focus at least occasionally? Focus also includes learning what makes your husband “tick” so you can initiate conversations where he’ll want to participate!

5) The Priorities of Joy and Contentment.

A wife has the joy of creating a “happy haven” for herself and her family. Some say the “Proverbs 31 Woman” (31:10-31) is an out of this world creature no one on earth can live like her. I say she’s a good starting point! God will show us exactly what is needed to make our particular home a refuge and place of joy for our family. (It might look different, woman to woman!)

When fires swept through Southern California a few years back, one of the families in our church lost everything. But when the ashes lay on the ground, this husband and wife still had each other and their strong faith in Christ. If you lose everything, what do you still have? All we really need is food and clothing – everything else is “fluff” (Matthew 6:31-33). The Bible instructs us, “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

We can train ourselves to be content (even grateful) in any circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13). My husband and I have shared our love and life in a beautiful brick home we owned … and a borrowed trailer behind a church gym … and on the road living in others’ homes. Marriage isn’t about location and “stuff;” it’s about love and selflessness.

Don’t misunderstand. Our marriage isn’t perfect. No one’s is perfect. But we will all have far fewer regrets if we have some priority choices for marriage and home.

What priorities have helped you create your marriage? What priorities could you add that might cut back on future regrets?

- Dawn

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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