SOUP OR SALAD

Three friends, whose names I have changed to protect the guiltless and slightly goofy, and myself visited our local IHOP after church one Sunday evening. When our server arrived to take our order we were engaged in conversation about the soon coming of the Lord and the changes we are experiencing here in the States.

Bob’s choice was from the dinner menu. Making note, the server asked him if he preferred the soup or salad with his meal.

“No, thank you,” Bob replied, “that’s a lot of food already.”

“That’s fine, but it comes with the meal if you want it.” The friendly young man was making sure Bob understood there would be no extra charge.

His mother, Naomi, helped talk him into it, “You may as well get it, Bob. If you don’t eat it here you can take it with you and have it later at home.” Bob’s girlfriend Mary seconded the motion.

“Okay, then,” Bob gave in, “I’ll take it.”

“Soup or salad?” The server dared not speculate which it might be.

“Yes.”

Pause for a moment of silence and join four out of five people in this scene who are now looking at Bob through confused expressions, but saying not a word. He doesn’t notice a thing because he’s looking downward across the table as he gathers our menus to return to the server.

“Okay, so you want the soup or salad?” the server tried again.

“I said, ‘yes’, I’ll take it.” Aren’t you paying attention?

“Right, soup or salad?”

Still preoccupied, Bob looks up at the server determined to get through to him, “I’ve already told you to bring it.”

A hushed, but desperate cry for help was evident in the server’s eyes as he looked around the table at the rest of us. “Please, help him understand. I’m a good server. I need a good tip. Pushing him to make a choice isn’t making him happy. Help me.” Yep, I believe all three of us heard the poor guy’s silent plea, the final SOS resounding long and slow in desperation.

Bob obviously noticed the silence and looked up at the rest of us.

Though I instructed my matter-of-fact poker face to expose itself, sheer bewilderment was stronger and pushed out my “are-you-kidding-me?” expression.  After all, this was no dummy here. Bob is intelligent and usually right on top of things, the kind who often catches things others miss. So while I did manage to subdue laughter with a hand over my mouth, I couldn’t help staring at him baffled.

Naomi and Mary could not conceal the fact that they were just as perplexed as I, but their expressions were accompanied by chuckles and giggles they were no longer able to contain. They tried to assist, in unison asking, “Do you want the soup or salad?”

Bob had enough. Frustration demanded, “I said ‘yes, I do,’ so why is everyone giving me such a hard time about a salad?”

Finally Mary was able to dissolve the blockage. “You have to tell him which one. Which one do you want, the soup or the salad?”

The save of a lifetime. Immediately composed, Bob looked nonchalantly up at the server as though the previous minute or two had never taken place. “I’ll have the salad, please, with ranch dressing,” he offered calmly as he handed the menus to the young man.

Anxious to get away from our table, the server expressed his thanks and announced that the salads would be right out. He turned and headed for the kitchen where I’m certain he wiped the sweat from his brow. With him out of earshot, Bob’s exasperation returned.

“I feel like such an idiot,” he confessed as his hands formed a plate sized circle in the air to illustrate. “I thought the whole time he was asking me if I wanted the super salad!”

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

23 Let the person who has ears listen!”
24 He (Jesus) went on to say, “Pay attention to what you’re listening to! Knowledge will be measured out to you by the measure of attention you give. This is the way knowledge increases. Mark 4:23,24 GOD’S WORD Translation

All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn’t make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. James 3:2 GOD’S WORD Translation

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.   1 Corinthians 14:33

Till next time,

June

Where He Leads?

A beautifully constructed stone retainer wall, roughly four feet tall, kept the higher ground in place. Sets of wide steps built periodically into the bulwark provided passage to the park above where grand old oak trees and well-manicured flower gardens invited people to take some time from their busy schedule to relax and absorb the captivating view of the lake that lay further down at the base of the incline.

Living in the rolling hills of Clermont and Minneola, seeing the park on higher ground with an ornate retainer wall wasn’t in any way foreign to me, nor was the concrete pad poured at its base which served as a level walkway and bike path. There sat I.

Why on earth I chose to sit on concrete leaned up against a stone wall I have no idea. In the natural, that would not have been my seat of choice when soft green grass and picnic benches were plentiful just a few steps above me. But this was not the natural. Again, God chose to teach me something through supernatural vision.

I sat to enjoy the view and the warm sunshine. Birds chirped and playful dogs barked. The air offered the smell of gardenias from nearby blooms. I never cease to be amazed by God’s creative handiwork, and always feel closer to Him outdoors than in.

My peripheral vision soon picked up on someone approaching me from the grassy area above my head. I turned, looking slightly upward, and saw from about the knees down who I instantly knew was Jesus. The white robe and sandaled feet assured me this was no ordinary person on an ordinary stroll in the park. Stopping on my left where but one more step would have been the four foot drop to my level, He knelt and extended His hand outward for me to take hold.

“You want to go with me?”
Quickly I turned, looked up and stretched my hand to reach His as I rose to my feet. “Sure, I do! I want to go with You!” Excitement overtook me as I asked Him, “Where are we going?”

His response another question, “Does it matter?”

Immediately I was back in the here and now. I had envisioned the scene, but with stark imagery that has not left me over these many years. The entire episode lasted probably less than a minute, yet has had life-long impact.

Too many times we sing songs like, “Where He leads me I will follow” or “I’m going with Jesus all the way” only to protest once we realize that might actually mean going or into a career or ministry we didn’t plan for. If it means leaving our home town, family and friends behind, we say, “No, thank you,” and rely on God’s grace to bless us right where we are. (Thank God for mercy and grace.) When the path gets a little rocky or the road too long, we are quick to take a new route. Sometimes we turn completely around and go back to the place He led us away from. Whether that be a location, ministry, career, or lifestyle – simply because we don’t like where He is taking us.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

This reaction is not only one of self-centeredness, it also reflects our lack of trust in God’s love for us. He has only good plans in mind for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 91:16 tells us He will satisfy us with long life – not depress or torment us with it.

We may not like every task or every stop along the way. Sometimes to get to our desired destination means driving through a rough area of town. We might have to travel a desolate highway where, if we let it, fear of what lurks on either side will override the peace of a quiet country drive.

And sometimes following God is the same way. But if we truly surrender our lives to the Lord, He will plant a desire in our hearts for the very place and the very people He leads us to. He will bring us to love it and our joy can be full even in times of sacrifice and difficulty.

God has taken me places that – quite frankly – I did not want to go. But once I got there, I knew it was where I was to be. It just felt (and still feels) right. More often than that, I have looked back several times to realize that a painful experience was what propelled me to a good place in life.

Very recently God has shown me other ventures I am to pursue that I know beyond knowing I did not come up with on my own. They will require long hours and carry, according to human knowledge, high risk of failure. Plus, they are things I just really have never had interest in and know little about.

Yet, the more I envision them, the more excited I become. I am now looking forward to this new journey as a great adventure. As to the risk? The safest place to be is in the will of God. If I follow Him, He will get me there. The only risk is when I set out on my own.

Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV

But even all that aside, the real question is how much do we really want to be with Jesus and to please Him? Do we love Him to the moon and back? Would we follow Him to the ends of the earth? When He invites to walk with Him every day, does our answer depend upon where He plans to take us? Does it matter?

Think before you answer, because I heard He’s going to church Sunday.

I’ll stand for thee, dear Jesus, though death my come my way
I’ll spread the gospel to the fallen here. But if it be thy will, Lord, to go across the sea,
Lord help me to be willing to say yes.
from Jesus Use Me written by Jack and Billy Campbell.

Till next time,
June

No More Tears

After many years, the scene remains a great source of encouragement to me. I don’t remember what I was praying about or studying at the time, nor do I remember my own emotional state. I recall only that suddenly before me I saw God the Father seated upon His throne. I was in Heaven.

On His right side shelves adorned with ornate carvings at each corner stood as tall and magnificent as would be seen in any palace. Their end exceeded my line of sight. And on those shelves were bottles – yes, bottles – more than I could count.

They were beautiful, elaborately designed in every deep, rich color imaginable. The finest hand crafted stained glass windows in the world would appear faded and drab in comparison. Some of them had jewels attached, some were adorned with gold chains wrapped around their rounded bottoms or at the base of their long, cylindrical necks. And they were of every size – some very small, some very large, and some of every size in between.

“How odd,” I remember thinking, “God has a room He decorates with bottles, of all things.” I wondered if these bottles were somehow designed or crafted by His children. If He displays our handiwork like we do that of our own to assure them they did a good job and we are proud.

I wasn’t exactly right, but I was close.

Close to the throne on the left side, I would estimate only six to eight feet away, was a pool with a softly flowing current. My first thought was the relaxing lazy river rides at so many water parks. It was like a stream or slow flowing river, but in the floor of the throne room. The water was crystal clear. And like the shelves, this pool appeared endless. I imagined it must extend throughout all of Heaven itself.

Then I noticed the people. An extraordinarily long line of people. People young and people old. People fat and people thin. People from all around the world talking one with another as they waited their turn with Father. And you don’t want to miss what happened next.

I watched those folks one by one step up to the throne. Very close they came, looking God right in the eye. What did He do? God actually reached out and hugged every single one of them. He pulled each one close and held them as though He had waited for them a very long time.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

They would weep – tears of relief, joy, and gratitude no doubt. As the embrace ended and they stood looking at Him once again, the most incredible thing took place.

The angel approached with a bottle in his hands and stood next to Father. I somehow knew the angel didn’t just randomly choose a bottle, but the one he brought forward was the one that belonged to the person now standing before God. I watched God reach out with both His hands and touch each person’s eyes. He then took the bottle from the angel, removed the ornate top, turned it upside down and poured its contents on the feet of that person.

The watery contents splashed over and around their feet and creating a puddle. In comparison to the bottles it was poured from, some were small, but some so large it appeared the very throne of God would certainly sink into the lake forming at its base. That wet patch then developed into a crystal clear water-filled path that led to the main pool. The person waded barefoot along the path to where the water ran gently around their feet and down a few steps into the lazy river. They travelled down the moving water to wherever this endless flow took them far beyond my scope of vision.

I saw so many people in that pool. Some standing to laugh and talk with passers-by, others jumping and dancing and rejoicing; still others just laying atop the water floating peacefully downstream.

As if noticing me for the first time, the angel looked at me as he headed to the throne with yet another bottle in his hands. Obviously aware of my wonder, he said simply, “Tear bottles.” Then it was gone. I was home again. Or awake. Or alert. Or whatever.

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them. Psalm 56:8 CEV

They were not tears shed of anger or greed or not having our own way. They are tears shed because of legitimate sorrow and heartbreak, and tears shed on behalf of others. This is why the bottles were different sizes. Some of us suffer more than others. Some of us carry more of a burden for the lost and for the kingdom of God than do others. But all were rewarded and healed of the wounds.

And all were reminded there will be no more tears, ever.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

To make that promise sure, God reached over with His own hands and removed their tear ducts (okay, I’m taking some liberty here – but we won’t need tear ducts in heaven), thereby drying all their tears. Then He poured those tears out to be remembered no more, bringing to pass this promise:

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

I wish many times and again that I could describe it as I still see it. To explain the sheer magnitude of the love when God reached forward to hug each person. One by one, He took time for them, not rushing them along so He could hurry and get to the end of line. On the contrary. It was though He held each one until every iota of their pain was obliterated. Then, the happiness on each face as they joined the others in the pool. I can scarcely maintain composure even now just to write about it. I am so happy for everyone there. And knowing I’ll be there, too – indescribable joy.

Sometimes we deal with intense grief and sorrow. Most every day we deal with some level of disappointment about something. But soon that is all going to be put behind us never to be thought about again. How God will accomplish this only He knows. All we need to know is that He is going to.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Hopefully I’ll see you there. We’ll enjoy a dip in the pool together.

Won’t it be wonderful there? Having no burdens to bear.
Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing. O, won’t it be wonderful there?
James Rowe and Homer F. Morris, 1930

Till next time,
June

Improv Gone Bad

Though I can’t remember why, my young friend Bobby Reynolds and I decided to act out the often told joke Forrest Gump Goes to Heaven at church one evening. A spur of the moment idea with no rehearsal, but we were both familiar with the joke and both a little on the hammy side (Bobby more so than I) so we knew it would be fine.

Young, handsome, and never without a quick-witted response, Bobby played Forrest and I portrayed the angelic host at the pearly gates. “Fine” sounded like this:

“My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”

“Well, hello Forrest Gump. Welcome,” I looked for his name on my imaginary list. “Ah, here you are. Says here that before I can let you into heaven you have to pass a test.”

“Didn’t know nothing about no test.”

Responding to the concern on Bobby’s face, I continue. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s just three simple questions for you to answer. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors. Ready?”

“Except colors don’t really fly. Mama always said stay ready for anything, so ready, set, go.”

“Okay then, the first question is, how many days of the week begin with the letter T?

Bobby – oops, I mean Forrest – tilted his head upward, eyes squinted, and rubbed his chin. “Hmm…days of the week that begin with T…hmm.” A huge smile brightened his face, “I’ve got it! Two. The answer is two.”

“Two. That’s corr–”

“Today and Tomorrow,” he quickly interjected with no doubt in his tone.

“Today and Tomorrow? Well, that’s not exactly…oh never mind, let’s just stick with ‘two’,” I said, shaking my head. “After all, I didn’t ask you to name them, just count them. Moving on to the next question.”

Forrest nervously rubbed his hands together and awaited his next question, which I read from the invisible paper on my invisible clip board. “All right, Forrest, now this one is a bit tougher. How many seconds are in a year?”

Seeing his distress, I reassured him, “Just take your time and think about it. We’re not in any hurry here.”

So he did. He paced and mumbled and worked imaginary math problems in the air with his finger. Then he popped his forehead with his hand as though reminding himself he could have a V-8®. “I know the answer. This was a tough question, but I have figured it out in my head. There are twelve seconds in a year.”

Staying in character despite wanting to laugh at the expression on his face, I asked in bewilderment, “Twelve? How on earth did you conclude there are twelve seconds in a year?”

“We’re not on earth, sir. This is Heaven.”

Oh great, I walked into that one. Okay, I’ll play along. “I beg your pardon, Forrest Gump who people call Forrest Gump. Let me rephrase the question. How in Heaven did you conclude that there are only twelve seconds in a year?”

It was becoming more difficult not to snicker along with the congregation as so matter-of-factly Forrest replied, holding up one finger at a time so we could count along, “January second, February second, March second–”

“Enough!” I grabbed his hand before finger number four could release itself from the fist.

“Maybe I need to be more specific when I ask these questions. However, I am going to give you credit for that since I was not specific and your answer is – well, it isn’t wrong. But now Forrest, it is very important that you get this last question right, and it is the most difficult of the three. So be very careful and remember, you can take all the time you need.”

“Okay, sir.”

“For the right of passage through these great pearly gates into the majestic wonder of Heaven…” I asked as though I were auditioning to host a game show, “tell me, Forrest, what is God’s first name?”

Without hesitation Forrest blurts out, “Oh, that’s easy – Howard,” he rocked heel to toe in triumph.

The bewilderment on my face was not part of the act. “Howard? Howard? What are you talking about, ‘Howard’?”

“That’s His name, Howard.”

It’s not Howard, it’s Andy!”

“Andy?” He was not willing to accept that answer.

Unbeknownst to the people occupying the pews, Forrest and the angel left the building at that moment. Bobby and June now stood before them. I’m sure they were all thinking what great actors we were as our confused tones were now loud and genuine. The debate continued with neither of us willing to budge.

“Andy? Are we telling the same joke, here?” He was as muddled as I.

Uh-oh. The people figured it out. Amidst the hilarity we heard a few call out, “Well? Which is it? Do we call Him Howard or Andy?” “Yeah,” another inquired, “does Forrest get to go to Heaven or not?”

I directed my response to Bobby’s question, “Yes, we have to be telling the same joke. You just don’t know the punch line.”

“Yes, I do,” he argued, “it’s Howard. Andy? Where does that come from?”

Time for a song. I burst into the much-loved hymn, “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me…”

Laughing so hard he had to brace himself on the dais hand rail, Bobby was determined to have the last word, “Oh! I get it.” He composed himself in order to stand his ground, looked me in the face, and assured me I was wrong. Calmly, but firmly, he explained.

“The correct answer is Howard. And not because of some song, but because the Bible says so. Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name.”

Touché Forrest, touché.

I will bow down [in worship] toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word together with Your name. Psalm 138:2 AMP

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6 KJV

Robert “Bobby” Reynolds, I am blessed to know you. Thank you for your dedication and service to God, country, family, and friends.

Till next time,

June

 

 

Some Facts About Fruit

Christians speak often about the importance of bearing good fruit, and important it is. Galatians 5 provides a faithful reminder of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Fruit to be evident in our lives.

There seems to be something, though, not often included in our fruit-bearing training: what happens to the fruit once it is ripened on the tree. Through everyday experience and exposure, our great Teacher has enlightened me to some important truths about fruit.

For starters, it will be inspected. Just as we check for bruises, our lives will be examined. Like we squeeze to make sure the fruit is ripe and juicy, people will critique our attitudes and behavior. They will pay attention to how we respond to the world around us and situations in our lives.

Most of us don’t like that at all. We call it “judging”. Jesus expressed it as acceptable to evaluate one another’s actions when He said, “…for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)   Judging as we should not runs deeper, to the root.

Once our fruit has passed inspection the real fun begins. Somebody needs or wants it. We feel good about that, happy to be of service to the kingdom of God – until the reaping begins.

Think about how fruit is removed from a tree. Occasionally, a gentle hand reaches up in appreciation of its find and ever so carefully confiscates the needed nutrition. But that’s not the norm.

Usually It’s twisted, pulled, and plucked. Often the tree is violently shaken until the coveted fruit falls to the ground where it can be easily gathered.  Remaining joyful or gentle is seldom easy. I’m sure you can think of at least one someone who has tried your patience and pushed your self-control to its limit.

Feel like you’ve been pulled on, plucked, and shaken?

And that’s not all.  Think about what you do with your own fruit once you get it home.

It gets chopped, diced, and drained. It is pulverized into smoothies or smashed into juice. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes it just sits until it rots, after which it becomes food for the sharp blades of a garbage disposal or thrown in the trash.

I used to get angry about the way people treated my fruit once they removed it from this tree. You know you’re feeling this same way when thoughts of being taken advantage of and unappreciated cross your mind.

There may be times when the Holy Spirit will direct you to back away, at least for a while. But make sure the Holy Spirit is the Director. Too often when we feel like our good nature is being abused and misused, we fence it off or stop producing altogether.
We are to yield the fruit, not dictate what happens to it. When it gets tough, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

One more thing. The tree doesn’t choose who gets the fruit. It’s usually easy to love those we deem lovable, to be gentle with those we are fond of, and patient with those we care about.

Yet, those to whom it is harder to offer fruit are often those who need it most. The lack of love, joy, and peace in their own lives is frequently manifested by nasty, hostile behavior. Letting them consume your fruit may be the very thing that initiates a change of heart.

After pondering these truths you might wonder if bearing fruit is really worth the effort.
It is.  You see, we have promises of great reward when we bear fruit.

John 15:16 records one such promise spoken by Jesus, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Wow! Anything we ask in Jesus name can be ours if we maintain a fruitful life. Anything in line with His word, yes, but that includes everything we need and could ever desire – plus some!

And the greatest payment of all for our fruit? It makes us more like Christ.

Till next time –
June

Teeth Marks

A week or so ago I stopped by to see my friend, Honey.  It wasn’t out of my way, seeing as how Honey lives in a large cage in our family room.  She just so happens to belong haired guinea pig that belongs – so I’m told – to my grandson.

I don’t really speak Honey’s language.  It sounds to me like little more than a squeak-squeak here and a squeak-squeak there.  When I talk to her I try to speak a little softer than normal, afraid my voice might roar like thunder in her tiny ears.  Nonetheless, we look at other each eye-to-eye and share.  We understand each other.

I compliment her on her hair and ask if the boys have been taking good care of her.  Her cheerful demeanor and the lack of any offensive odors rising from her home answer that question for the most part.  Her round, bulging brown eyes add that she gets lonely sometimes, but for the most part life is good.  She thanks me for stopping by to get her out of the house for a bit.

We laugh together at the way she plays hard to get.  Knowing she can’t wait for my grandson to pick her up and play a while, when he first reaches into her cage she runs as fast as she can around and around.  She ducks behind her igloo for a second then darts back out again, screeching, “Catch me if you can!”

Finally she lets him grab hold and lift her gently out. She knows when she’s pushing him too far, and dares not let his frustration send him away.

Yep, Honey and I have become good friends. We visit most often when no one else is home.  It’s our quiet time.  My stop-over on that day was no different.

There we were, having a nice conversation as she rested in my hand, her little body stretched out on my arm.  I brought along some leaf lettuce, one of her favorite treats, so I was doing most of the talking that day.  She gave me her undivided attention though. She watched me intently as I spoke and gave me a high pitched response now and then as she reached out for her next bite and chewed like there was no tomorrow.

Once the lettuce was gone, she talked a little more as I smoothed her white hair down her back and scratched the brown patches behind her ears.  It was a nice visit, to say the least; two friends having a marvelously relaxing time together.

Then it happened.  Honey bit me!  She bit my finger and she bit down hard, as though driving her tiny teeth through a strip of rawhide.  She was likely well aware of how needle sharp her teeth are, but until that moment I had no idea.

I snatched my hand away in shock.  “Honey, what was that for?” I shouted at her as I quickly put – or should I say dropped – her back in her cage.  “That really hurt! What on earth possessed you?”

“What in the world?” I could not believe it when I looked at my finger.  Just behind the knuckle of my forefinger I saw blood.

Well, that may not mean much to you, but I just don’t bleed.  Every time I have to have blood drawn the technicians cringe, and on more than one occasion have called for help. Drawing my blood is like trying to siphon gas from a car with a straw.  My veins are tiny and hard to find, and the flow has been known to stop before the syringes are full.  Yet, there was blood forming a tiny puddle on my finger.  I thought for a minute I might actually need a Band-Aid.

I washed the blood away with a little water, dabbed the spot with a tissue, and then saw two tiny perfectly round holes in my flesh barely a quarter inch apart.  Looked like I had been attacked by a vampire action figure.  And in that minuscule spot between the two holes, my finger had that quickly swollen. A little mound had formed and colored itself red from the inside out.

“It’s okay, Honey,” feeling remorse for my reaction, “I don’t understand why you did it, but I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.

Didn’t understand was an understatement.  I was actually wondering what in that bee-bee sized brain of hers made her think it was necessary or even okay to bite my finger.  She had accidentally nipped us in the past when reaching for a bite of carrot or other treat in our hands, but she had never, ever just bit down hard or when no food was near.  She had certainly never drawn blood.  What was she thinking?

As I pondered my own question, I realized she would never intentionally hurt me. Yet, that one little bite did hurt.  It hurt a lot.  How could it cause so much pain?

You realize, I’m sure, this story is not just to warn you about the perils of raising a guinea pig.  It’s not really even about being careful who you befriend, although that is a good thing to do.  It’s about those who are our friends. Our good friends. Our true friends that we laugh with, cry with, share our dreams with and confide in.   It’s about those friends we push to succeed while feeling their hand on the small of our back doing the same for us.

And how we sometimes hurt each other. We don’t mean to.  But sometimes we do.  We allow stress, fatigue, poor health, heartbreak, fear, and other such emotions dominate us and before someone can toss us a Snickers Bar, we’re lashing out against the very ones we count on to stay close by.

The tiny, even accidental nicks from someone we love seem to cause far more pain than a deliberate slash from someone we don’t know or whom we care little about.  The best solution is to just not hurt one another at all.  To think before we speak and recognize the influence our emotions are having over us at the moment.  You know… the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure thing.

But when we do, let’s be quick to forgive and help one another get back on track.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34

Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely.  2 Corinthians 2:7 (GNT)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1, 2

Ten days ago and one of the holes is still there.  The bleeding stopped almost immediately, and the pain lasted but a few days.  Still, I can see and feel one scabbed-over bite mark and see a tiny scar from the other.  Wounds do take time to heal.  But it’s so very important that we let the healing come.

I didn’t stop my visits with Honey because of what she did.  I admit, I was a little cautious at first, but I know her.  I love her, she loves me.  Hurting one another is not part of the plan, but if it happens – forgiveness is.

June Yates-Boykin

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 5 (Conclusion)

Wow! Look how far you’ve made it. You’re down to the very last element of making your dreams come true.

Remember, though, you need to apply all of these principles, make them a way of life. I hope you’ve already started with the first six. Keep in mind, they aren’t a lineup that takes turns; they are a team that work together.

“Work” being the key word there, as well as the subject of our finale:

Work Hard

For a dream cometh through the multitude of business, but a fool’s voice is known by a multitude of words. Ecclesiastes 5:3

Most modern translations indicate this verse is simply saying that if we think on something too much it will cause us to drift into daydreaming or have nightmares. Worrying about something will result in sleepless, reckless nights.

I don’t doubt those interpretations, they are true. But that is not the revelation that exploded in me one day as I read it. God spoke to me more in line with the wording found in the Amplified Version, “For a dream comes with much business and painful effort.”

If you want your dreams to come true, you have to work. Success isn’t going to fall into your lap while you sit on the sofa watching television or sleep half your day away. Rest and relaxation are necessary for our wellbeing, but laziness is never found blessed or successful in the word of God.

When laziness is mentioned in Scripture it is accompanied with starvation and ruin. Consider just a few:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

I passed by a lazy person’s field, the vineyard belonging to a person without sense. I saw that it was all overgrown with thistles. The ground was covered with weeds, and its stone fence was torn down. When I observed this, I took it to heart. I saw it and learned my lesson. “Just a little sleep, just a little slumber, just a little nap.” Then your poverty will come like a drifter, and your need will come like a bandit.  Proverbs 24:30-34 (GW)

And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11, 12

Not only does laziness not profit anything, it results in loss. Look again at Hebrews 6:12. Don’t be lazy. Follow those who do just the opposite – who diligently work. The people to be followed were obviously hard workers because they were contrasted to the slothful.

And what happened to the workers? They coupled that labor with faith and patience. They never stopped believing and they persevered with joyful expectation (definition of patience in Greek lexicon) until they inherited the promise.

This is a good place to reiterate that all of the principles discussed in this series have to be working together. We addressed faith and perseverance, continuing to trust God and move forward to the end result even when problems arise and the road seems long. This Scripture now links those two principles to hard work.

The result? The people inherited their promise.

Dreams came true.

How hard and how long you will have to work will depend on several factors. The dream you are pursuing, how many other people affect the outcome, how much support you start off with, and how well you are operating within the principles God established for success – all of these and others will come into play. Regardless, you are going have to exert yourself if you want to succeed.

Some of the spiritual aspects alone will require effort. It’s not always easy to think about what we’re thinking about and renew our minds. Overcoming mindsets of failure and inadequacy can be laborious, especially if they’ve been imbedded us for a long time.

If we’re the emotional, vocal type, we have to work hard at thinking before we speak until our mind has been completely renewed to make sure we are speaking only what God has to say.

If we think our life is supposed to be like the drive-thru at Burger King where we can have everything our way and it better be quick, more effort will be required to learn patience and perseverance.

Those efforts result in a bonus for us, though, because they affect every aspect of our lives from the smallest issue to the greatest. Our lives are immensely better and far less stressful when we trust God and keep our thoughts, words, and attitudes in line with His.

Aside from the spiritual aspects, there is all sorts of work that may be required. You may need to take some classes or pick up a hammer and tie a nail bag around your waist.

Your lifestyle may change as you discipline yourself to achieve goals and reach milestones along the way that cause opposition from friends or family.

Long hours and sacrifice just might be the path to your finish line.

And, you probably won’t enjoy every task along the way. I can attest to that.

A new writer doesn’t get to just write. They have to read, to learn, to promote, to submit, to study the market, to proof and edit and edit and proof. While they’re doing all this they’re usually working a job to support themselves.

When all they really want to do is write.

Over time the work pays off and, in many cases gets lighter. People are brought in to help or the classes are complete and the career underway. The name and reputation of the new company spreads bringing in new clients and easing the financial load.

The work will never end, but in many aspects it will get easier. A lot of effort goes into building a good car. With the laborious and costly work finished, continued maintenance and repair keeps that car operating smoothly and properly.

It’s pretty much like that with anything in our lives.

We can’t afford to get lazy once we see the dream come to pass, and we can’t take for granted that we have arrived so it’s eat, drink, and be merry from now on. But like a proud parent of a new baby, we understand that taking care of that which God brought to life for us is no burden compared to the joy it brings.

 In Conclusion

God engraves dreams in our hearts in different ways. We see a need and long to help meet that need. We realize from an early age we have a flair for a certain art or a giftedness in business. Maybe we have a fascination for architecture or flight or science and know our future is embedded somewhere in that field. Sometimes He just softly speaks, “I want you to do this.”

How He planted that dream in your heart is not the topic of this writing. Nor is what your dream might be.

The dream He has given you may or may not be directly related to ministry as we think ministry. It might be family related or occupational, it might be in the area of sports or government affairs. It may be to see your own family restored in the bond of godliness and love.

If God has given you the dream, it will serve its proper role in ministering to others.

It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you know it’s from God. Forget how big or small it might be in the eyes of man, God doesn’t have any insignificant or unimportant works or plans.

The new church I told you about at the very beginning of this series? Well, to some it would seem as not much at all. It is small in comparison to many. As a matter of fact, it could likely fit in the foyer of many a grand church buildings today, seating only about 150 people. But for us it was huge. He established that vision in the heart of a widowed woman pastor with a small congregation of people, most of which were on lower or fixed incomes.

For us to build a new building at that time was as likely as a finch building a nest to accommodate a family of eagles.

It was our dream, and it came to pass.

Dreams do come true, but it takes effort on our part.

Isn’t your dream worth it?

Please remember, God wants you to succeed. He didn’t create any of us to fail.

On the contrary, He equipped us with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and the Holy Spirit within us, more powerful than anything or anyone in this world (1 John 4:4).   Furthermore, we have access to every resource in and from Heaven (Luke 15:31), which is far more than we need to accomplish our God-given goals.

That is not a combination for failure.

Since putting this knowledge to work in my life, a few of my own dreams have come true. Now I am pursuing some greater ones. Little by little they are also coming to pass.

So, my friend, can yours.

What now?

Go back through the posts. Read the principles. Digest them. Put them into practice. Here they are again as a simple list:

  1. Dream. Your dream can’t come true until you have one. It’s in there…seek God to find out what it is then set it free regardless of what anyone else says or does.
  2. Have faith in God. All things are possible to them that believe (Mark 9:23)
  3. Persevere. Remember the age old adage, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
  4. Be led by the Spirit. There is no problem God doesn’t have a creative solution for. It may seem totally ridiculous in the natural, just the opposite of what a wise person would do. But remember, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). Trust God to know what He’s doing, and follow His lead.
  5. Guard your mind. In so doing, we guard our heart, and as we think in our heart so are we (Proverbs 23:7). Change the way you think. Replace every negative, hindering thought with promises and counsel and encouragement from the Word of God. Your thought life is vital to your success.
  6. Speak only Life and Victory. The power of death and life is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Hold fast the confession of your hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
  7. Work Hard. Dreams come true through much business and painful effort (Ecclesiastes 5:3).

Add more knowledge as you journey. And never, ever quit.

If you have any questions or comments, by all means contact me. I certainly don’t know everything, but I know the One who does.  I would love to hear from you.

June  jyBInspired.com

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked GW is taken from GOD’S WORD®, © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.