Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Identi-TEA : a cuppa choice

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12, NIV)

Identity is important in our nation. Safety continues to be a big concern. Identification is crucial in both air space and cyberspace. Though terrorists and hackers seem to understand how to "skirt" that issue, those on the "right side of the law" appreciate diligence.

Privacy is also a concern. We might not want people to know all about us.
Even without an official ID or driver's license, there are many indicators, along with our "outward" actions, that tell others about us.

The delivery man wearing brown, we assume, works for UPS. 
Uniforms with stripes or neon orange jumpsuits on roadsides have us thinking unsavory thoughts about the "wearers", even though we've probably never met any of those folks picking up the trash.
At the gym, colored balls signify aging and even the color of one's hand weights SHOUTS to all in sight of one's fitness level, or lack there of. 
On an airplane, I find comfort when my seat is across from one wearing a cleric color.
Identity is more than our name or initials. It's even more than our "job" uniforms or badges. It's even more than our likes and dislikes, by which others often define us.....for me, that would be berries on bushes, books, pockets in jammies, tea and the Lord. But, does having Bibles sitting around and a cross around one's neck tell the true identity. 

One's ID is not just worn or collected, it's lived out! Anyone can slip a cross around their neck and yet their actions belie this symbol.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
True identity is found in the One who gave us the right to be called children of God. Aren't we glad He knows our identity!
Actually, He's the one Who served us our very own cuppa identi-TEA.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gramma-TEA-ically : a significant cuppa

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. 
(Philippians 4:1, NLT)

Therefore, an adverb---meaning; a result.....for that reason.
THEREFORE ----used 1468 times in the King James version of the Bible. 

Cole Huffman sees "therefore" as an encapsulating word which shows us what all the preceding words were there for.  In the scriptures, it is often used after the writer has shown all that God has done for you (me)---therefore, or in light of all of this, here's what should follow in your (my) life.

One of the first things I learned in my early years of Kay Arthur Bible studies, was the "therefore rule." 
If therefore appears in a passage, and it will a lot, it will be incumbent on you to find out what it's there for. In other words, it's our responsibility to "open" our Bibles and dig into the Scripture allowing God to reveal truth and the life lessons He has for each of us.
Here are a few "therefores" for your digging pleasure......
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober,... 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of God...Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed....Philippians 2:12 Therefore, there is now no condemnation....Romans 8:1 
.....therefore you can enjoy the fruit of that labor as you gratefully sip a gramma-TEA-ically significant cuppa.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SABBATH SNAPSHOT : pover-TEA to plen-TEA

Lila, by award winning author, Marilynne Robinson, is partially set in Gilead, which is also the title of her 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning book.

As the story opens, Lila, the young protagonist, is the personification of abandonment and anguish. Even much later when she "wanders" into a small town church in Iowa, she has a difficult time accepting kindness from others, especially the Reverend John Ames. She is offered "plenty" compared to the despair and poverty which she has known. Eventually Lila becomes the wife of the widower, Rev. Ames---"Old Man" as she calls him.
Haunted by the trauma and impoverishment of her earlier years, Lila doesn't know what to do with this new-found plenty---so she often distrusts it. She even distrusts herself.
It's a book of redemption and hope and the human condition, with the reality of depravity shown throughout the narrative.

“The river was like the old life, just itself. Nothing more to it. She thought, It has washed the baptism off me," thought Lila. And "Old Man" once again in his patient ways had to reassure her  about God's grace. Lila might have struggled with words, but she found her way to the scriptures, as she looked for a reason for her own existence.

Pulitzer Prize winning books don't always appeal to me but----Robinson's simple, yet somewhat unorthodox, style of writing grabbed me, though the occurring events were not told in chronological order. Though confusing at first, this "switching" added intrigue for me.
I started with book #3 in the "Gilead series," which is not recommended by some reviewers, so I've decided to learn more about the intriguing Lila and have "checked out" Gilead and Home the other 2 books, in which Lila is introduced.  Plus, I checked out another Robinson book as well because I thought the title descriptive of me---When I was a Child I Read Books. I do my part to keep up the "circulation stats" of our Memphis libraries---- closing any public library would be a travesty.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pover-TEA & Plen-TEA

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God (Proverbs 30:7-9, NIV)
Pondering and seeking the Lord's choice for my morning cuppa, notations in my journal had me rereading Proverbs 30:7-9 several times. The notes* reminded me of a needed perspective of thankfulness. Maybe Thanksgiving being just days away prompted this meditation as well.

Plenty---a BIG cuppa plen-TEA is what most Americans want! 
"Economy sways are voting, not character.  "Plenty" tempts us to think we can get along without God.  (H. Clark, 2005) 
Without thankfulness, one can become selfish and cynical, regardless of how much $$$ one has.

Poverty---a cuppa pover-TEA that can become bitter as one becomes sulky and sorrowful. 
Viewing life as if God has forgotten us can fuel feelings of jealousy and resentment. 
  • A change of perspective is often what is needed most. 
  • Without the pang of hunger, food is not a gift. 
  • Fatigue helps us appreciate rest, 
  • Darkness helps us seek light, 
  • Illness increases one's awareness of the gift of health.
Thankfulness vaccinates us against ungratefulness. (H. Clark, 2005)
Pover-TEA and plen-TEA---two cuppas that can be a BIG cuppa enmi-TEA. In excess, either can become an enemy o of a thankful heart. Sip in moderation. Allow the cross to cover any enmity.


*(Howard Clark,  "POVERTY & PLENTY ENEMIES OF THANKSGIVING" sermon notes, 11/20/2005)

Friday, November 21, 2014

TEA-riffic Time

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul,.....You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19, ESV)

What a fun way to spend a dreary, overcast,  drippy day---sharing a Downtown Dining Event at Felicia Suzanne's, my favorite "downtown" restaurant, with "my" Molly---her first time there.
Just getting there was fun---laughing so much in the car that tears were streaming. Parking was a "trip" too, as I didn't know how to use the new meters. 
Sharing food "tastes," doubled our pleasure. Messaging & teasing Josh on his birthday---with our double dessert pix---such a family thing. Sharing spiritual stuff added another layer to our day. 
A TEA-riffic cuppa added warmth to our mother-daughter outing.
Walking along the way---the river way---past the new Beale Street Landing to a hidden treasure....
with unobstructed views of both bridges on the mighty Mississippi.
A great end to a TEA-rrific day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

TEA WITH THEE : a TEA-sentation

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

TEA-sentation might be a bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h but what else would you call a presentation about taking tea as part of one's quiet time. He Cares, a special ministry of First Evangelical Church, is designed to meet the needs of our homebound seniors as well as giving care givers a break. As always, the "senior" audience, some who are younger than yours truly, was gracious as I sought to encourage them during their worship time.
TEA-sentation set-up
I'm sure that I left them with "tea" words whirring in their heads but hopefully they realized the importance of daily time with the Lord. Seeking Him first. Allowing Him to fill their "cuppa." Otherwise, the "world will fill their life's cuppa.

The world often pours out---stressors of anxi-TEA, feelings of inferiori-TEA, negativi-TEA and hoi-TEA, Toi-TEA attitudes of people who think that they are better than others.

The Lord pours out---chari-TEA (love) generosi-TEA, humili-TEA, integri-TEA, sensitivi-TEA, and sereni-TEA....to name a few.

Daily choices---cuppas brewed afresh---and served by the Lord are an encouraging way to start one's day. 

My encouragement came after the presentation when Charlie Martin told how Terry Parlow, my blind paralyzed friend, whom Charlie had assumed was too sick to attend, made an effort to come so he could hear, Dotsy. When the van lift would not work, his care giver "Miss Ronnie" pushed him in his wheelchair from his condo all the way to church. The distance isn't far UNLESS you're the one pushing big ole Terry in the wheelchair---"uphill" most of the way according to him.
I "puddled." 
I can't remember when I've been so encouraged. Isn't that so like God---we try to minister to others in His name BUT we are the ones who are truly blessed!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fideli-TEA : a Cuppa hope

All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3, TLB)

Faith! Faith!! Faith!!! Hope! Hope!! Hope!!!
Faith from the latin fidere – to trust. Confidence or trust---for me it is a necessary facet of hope. 
The "what ifs" of a faithless life, breed worry and negate hope. Worry is the antithesis of hope---without faith there is no hope for a better tomorrow. 
People who have faith, have hope.  People who have hope, have faith.  Seemingly, a person cannot have one without the other. "One has to be faithful to be hopeful." (Cole Huffman, 11/9/14)

FAITH is defined as a belief which expresses confidence in the truth or veracity of someone. Even Wikipedia got it right this time. The One who is Truth is the bedrock of faith. In Him alone one can have confidence. The Lord Jesus Christ is that someone. In Him we have hope.
In Christ Alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song; this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,....

"Hope is only found in faith. Living hope is only available with belief in a risen God. (1Peter 1:13) Hope is like the "gold standard" of faith. Deep joy which transcends circumstances results from a "living hope reality."(notes from CH sermon, 11/914)

Fideli-TEA served in a cuppa hope is only available through a risen Lord.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Self-served Servili-TEA: a bitter cuppa

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: (1 Peter 4:10, ESV)

1 Peter 4:10 states an important aspect of ministry. Serving one another.
Yet, a recent conversation had my ears opened to words that were missing....only to be found in the verse that followed. I just had to look for it in order to share it with others.

Have you ever been so tired that even your bones are weary? Fatigue seeps in and permeates your entire body.
Is your service so intense that it is cutting you off from God----God who is your resource as well as your reason for ministry. 

Have you ever been so busy caring for God's household that you have neglected your own time with Him---the One who called you into ministry? (1 Timothy 1:12) In hurrying and scurrying to feed others, both physically and spiritually, have you forgotten to feed yourself? 

Often, one knows when her fire needs to be rekindled. But sometimes that truth has to be shown by an outsider.

One who sees her sister's cuppa service has turned into a cuppa servili-TEA needs to share the following verse from1 Peter 4:11
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised. 
"I can not explain exactly  how we are able to receiver the power to serve and to endure through communion with God, but I know it is a fact." (Streams in the Desert, 11/9)
In love, point out how servili-TEA, "an excessive willingness to serve," more easily happens when one is attempting to continue to minister in her own strength. Help her replace her cuppa servili-TEA with a refreshing cuppa of His minis-TEA-ry which is served with His strength.
Encourage her to sip quietly with Him as once again she feeds herself with His Word and His Presence, which will strengthen her anew for His service.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dis-TEA-ractions

But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. 
(Psalm 66:19, NASB)
"Prayer is waking up to the Presence of God no matter where I am or what I'm doing." (Benedictine monk, David Steindl) 
In God's Presence. It's my favorite way to wake-up---but sometimes it seems short-lived, as I begin to hear the daily distractions instead of hearing the Lord. His "gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:12) seems to get fainter with each hour. God continues to direct  His voice to ears of love....but it takes steadfast love from His children to listen "intentionally", for even His faintest whispers.
And help me keep my mind on my prayers....and not on that TV show Daddy's watchin''
 or Billy jumpin' on the bed or whatever Jeffy is mumbling or...Family Circus, 9/4/10
Praises that today the Lord did hear my prayer amidst the extraneous noises----a prayer answered in spite of my cuppa dis-TEA-ractions. He listens---so should I!

But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Same verse, different version--NLT! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SABBATH SNAPSHOT: beyond disibili-TEA

World War II is the backdrop for Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. What a book! What a read!
I did NOT want to read one more book that dealt with war---too disturbing, too heavy, too horrific, too real!
But....this novel had me by page 7 ---"as the leaflets dropped"---"she could smell the ink."
Short chapters, some only 1-2 pages long, bounce back and forth between the two protagonists; a young blind girl, whose mind has a love of literature and dependence on her dad, who carefully instructs her in order to foster independence, along with the corresponding life of a young German lad, fascinated by science, but orphaned and living with his sister in a children's home. 
Hauntingly beautiful is how NYTimes review describes it. (4/28) 
Too much info would constitute a spoiler----just know that the author easily and skillfully weaves wartime training, Jules Verne, radio transmissions, museum treasures, a "Sea of Flames'" legendary curse, sabotaging neighbors, snails from the sea, and a sister's insight and conscience into a an intriguing World War II narrative.
Tho it's taken awhile to get through 534 pages, the setting created so much interest that I googled Saint-Malo---and if I were not so averse to the hassle and fears of foreign travel these days, I might put it on my bucket list, because thanks to Doerr, I feel as if I've been there and would like to see what remains.
I didn't like to read it at night because I wouldn't want to put it down......at the same time, it would "key me up" so I had trouble going to sleep. It's not totally absent of language and some vile situations but very,very few considering this was a "war" book. I thought it was a worthy read.