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“Chicken Fried Steak” Psalm 51:21

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“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”  Psalm 51:2

A Real Mess

A Real Mess

Look at that stove.  How did I ever get myself into this mess?  Just three hours ago if you walked into our home the fragrance of pine floated through the air but now if you sniff, you are greeted by the greasy scent of a country diner.   This lovely odor is entirely  my fault.  After I lost my mind this morning with a mysterious desire to clean the house, including the stove messy from a weekend of pancakes and bacon, my  “Suzy Homemaker” mode somehow continued.

As my husband entered the back door home from a hard day at work, I asked the dumbest question of all, “What do you want for supper?” You have to understand that I don’t cook that often. I mean really cook. I might grill outside, or gather stuff from the local grocery store, even warm something in the microwave on occasion, but that’s it.

I  decided when our youngest son headed off to college, cooking was entirely overrated. I can’t deny it, the only time I really cook is when we have guests or the kids come home for a visit. So you can imagine how taken aback my husband was by my inquiry. Totally shocked, my sweetheart meekly asked, “What are the chances of chicken fried steak?” I now reverted back to my normal self and responded, “Chicken fried steak,” three of the dirtiest and most dreaded words in the dictionary of any sane cook.” You’ve got to be kidding. The kids aren’t coming home so what possible reason do I have to cook that greasy, stinky concoction? It’s a mess and besides it’s Monday and my kitchen is sparkling clean.”

At some moment in time I vaguely remembered my Bible verse for the day, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” That morning, not being a Bible scholar, I looked up the definition of “iniquity.” Well believe it or not it means “sin or transgression, something done to hurt another.” So I rethought my actions, rephrased my words and said,  “What was I thinking, there’s nothing I’d rather do that cook chicken fried steak for you.” Crazy words for sure, but I certainly am glad when God looks at me some days and sees a mess He says, “Bring me some water and I’ll wash her clean AGAIN!”  And I am so thankful that He doesn’t say, “Not tonight, I can’t deal with a mess now, after all it’s Monday.”

Just in case you want to get messy here’s my recipe for Chicken Fried Steak…

You’ll need: cube steak, flour, salt, pepper, an egg,  milk and the most important ingredient, oil.  Pour the oil into the skillet and let it get sizzling  hot. Salt and pepper the meat, roll it in flour, dip it in the egg and milk mixture and roll it in the flour again.  Then place it in the hot grease.  When it’s brown and rising to the surface and the kitchen smells really tasty, you’ll know it’s time to take it out and get ready to chow down.  The most important thing to do after this is to offer a prayer of thanks that you didn’t burn down the kitchen.  Everything else is just gravy.

Points to Ponder:

1. What have you cooked lately? Did it warm your soul?

2.  Do your Bible lessons stay with you throughout your days?  What keeps them close to your heart?

3. Do you ever feel like a spiritual mess?  Why?

 

Pray with me:

To the Real Mr. Clean,

Thank you for being with us to wash us and clean up our messes.  We don’t always have to ask, because you know our hearts and a gentle reminder is enough.

I’m busy degreasing my life.

 

The Look John 5:6

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Run and dance“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me. John 5:6-7

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the man as he lay by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. Surely people inquired about this poor man as they did me while I sported my snappy looking knee brace. He had been lying by the pool for years and no one would help him into the healing waters.

Unlike him, I garnished many looks and remarks as I limped along wearing my new fashion accessory. “You poor thing” or  “Did you strain your knee running in a marathon?” were just a few.  (I don’t even know how many miles are in a marathon, but if it equals four laps around North Park Mall, that might be a realistic possibility.) Being a straight – forward person, the truth always came out. “Never table dance in six inch heels. It can be hazardous to your health, especially if your husband spills lemonade on the table.  In fact, it can result in a slip and fall even by the most balanced of dancers like me.”  As I perched on the edge of that rickety table looking for a hand to catch me, I wonder how many blessings I have missed by being self-absorbed and passing others with despair in their eyes as they sat on the edge of the pool of life like the man at the Sheep Gate?  They might have been looking for a hand to catch them, push them into the healing waters, or praying for a listening ear and gentle touch.  Praying for the Holy to enter their being so they could be healed body, mind and spirit.

Like them, sometimes I limp through my days looking for a little help and others I dance, enjoying every minute. But then I slip on the edge and in fear grasp the edge instead of diving in headfirst. Perhaps since my table-dancing days are over, I’ll have more time to keep my feet on the ground, listen for the Holy One and keep my eyes open for others who want to go for a little dip. I’m blessed someone tossed me in years ago, but I can always use a refreshing dip.

Pray with me:

Dear Lord of Refreshment,

Your healing powers are just a breath away. Help me to let go and slip into Your healing arms.

I’m dancing for You

Points to Ponder:

1.  What prevents you from resting in Jesus’ arms?

2.  Have you ever seen pain or hurt in someone’s eyes? Were you present for them?

3. Have you been touched by a stranger’s kindness to you?

 

What’s Your Number? – The Book of Life

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TEAM!

Guest Author:  Dr. John Austin

I’ve been “wandering” this summer, but he’s been steady and on the right TEAM. I thought you might enjoy his wisdom.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”     

I Corinthians 9:25

Paul was urging all his readers to strive for an imperishable crown given to all who die in Christ. There were big Olympic Games held in Corinth, Paul knew that everyone would know what he was talking about. The winner of the race was crowned with a laurel wreath that would soon fall apart.

Football season is back again. The local high schools are playing their first games. The teams are all decked out in their new uniforms with numbers and their names on the back of their jerseys– they are in different colors so that we can tell the home team from the visitors. They say there is no “I” in team (TEAM) each player sacrifices his desires to be a member of the team–not all the players can be the quarterback–but all make their unique contributions. While there is no “I” in team–there is a big “I” in WIN. The individual team members play as a unit so the team can win the game.

WELL I HOPE YOU ARE WAY AHEAD OF ME!

We Christians have a uniform on earth and you should be able to tell that we are different than the rest of the world. We pray, we give, we joyfully serve and hopefully, we show our true colors as soldiers of Christ. We know who we are and to whom we belong. Our number is not on our back, but is written in God’s book of life that assures us that we have won the race and will receive our crown of righteous that will last forever.

In the mean time, we need to play the game, to serve, and to invite other players to be a member of Christ’s earthly team so that their number might be found in God’s book of life.

Let us Pray:

O Lord, as the football stadiums are filled with fans this fall, help us to be Your loyal fan and remember that we all have gifts that we can use in your service. Let us press forward as your servants to win our everlasting crown.

Amen

I Can Speak – The Great Commission

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“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” ~Mark 16:15

great-commission-charlie

Charlie

I have been blessed! Mom finally reached that boiling point with Lucy’s obnoxious yapping and made her wear her “quit barking” t-shirt. That sister of mine never shuts up. It’s bark when the squirrel is on the fence, bark when someone comes to the door, bark when Dad comes home. I’ve decided she barks just to hear her bossy little voice. I haven’t been able to get a word in edgewise. Yap, yap, yap! Now it’s my turn. After all, I am the male and suppose to be the great defender of the castle.

For now I’m going to just perch here on my chair and be sure no one tries to hurt Mom. You can never be too careful. It feels pretty good to be the one in charge of our domain. Oops, there’s that pesky squirrel. He’s not really bothering anything, just hanging out. Wait a minute, he just jumped in my tree, you know the one that I water every morning. Hey, Lucy, get off your duff and get that squirrel. Oops, that’s my job now… but I don’t want to tell anyone how they should run their life. I bet momma squirrel is getting acorns to feed her babies. I certainly don’t want to contribute to the starving children problem. That World Vision that feeds hungry children is one of Mom’s pet “causes”, and she might put that t-shirt on me, too.

I hear a lot more than everyone thinks I do. Like when Mom says I’m the strong silent type, not the brains of the outfit.  Hmmm… I haven’t quite figured out how to take that comment. I also hear Mom talk a lot to this guy named Jesus.  I think she’s supposed to tell others about Him, but she seems to have this ongoing discussion about not wanting to be pushy or meddle in others’ lives. That’s kinda like me. I just like to hear stuff and ponder as I lay on the back of my chair. But not Lucy. She just jumps up and goes out and tells everyone the Good News. I’m really not shy, just sometimes my thoughts get confused, and my words get all twisted.

I think Mom’s discussion with Jesus is over something called the “Great Commission”. She’s supposed to go out and tell the world about Him. She says, “Sharing recipes and stories about Miles is a lot easier.” I gather Jesus is a kinda personal topic. (But she didn’t mind sharing my most embarrassing moment of the “cone incident” with the world did she?)

Anyway, she’s been spending a lot of time with Him lately on her kneeling bench. That usually means change is in the wind. Yep, there she goes… she’s talking to Pastor Stan… that’s not a good sign for me. She’ll be gone all the time, and Sister and I will be left alone in our room without a TV. (I’ve gotta talk to her about that. Every guy needs his Sports Center.) Well, I guess you can’t spread the gospel if you sit in your house all day with two adorable puppies, just like Lucy can’t share her story if she wears that t-shirt all the time and doesn’t express herself.

Maybe I better make a move and let the world know I’m alive and ready to share that Great Commission, too. I think it’s something about that Jesus fellow. I better open my ears and see what I can find out. I did hear on TV the other night about how dogs are being used to cheer up old people. Maybe I’ll get me a “cause” and live out the “Great Commission” – go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation. I guess in Lucy’s case, that means squirrels. I wouldn’t mind having a t- shirt with Mark 16:15 on it. I can just see me now….

Points to Ponder:

1. Have you ever followed the “Great Commission”? When?

2. How do you feel if you ignore the “great Commission?

3. Is there Someone in your life who hears more than you think?

Pray with me:

Dear Hearer of all,

You’re everywhere in my world. I thank You for hearing, loving, and  guiding me to follow You.

Listening and following.

 

The Scent

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iStock_000002316993XSmallAs she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:38

“Is that Shalimar I smell?” asked the gracious woman. “It’s been a long time since I’ve smelled it.” I had tried so hard to follow the strict guidelines as I prepared for my visit to the Dawson State Jail as part of the Texas Hope Literacy worship team. No jewelry, no cell phones, closed-toe shoes and the list continued. I don’t remember anything about perfume on the procedures, but in retrospect I guess that should have been common sense. I didn’t remember applying my usual squirt of perfume that morning, but perhaps it was on my clothes. My “Debi” response would have been, “Yes, it is. Do you like it? It was a birthday gift from my husband.” That would have been the wrong answer in so many ways in this situation. I stumbled over my words for a minute and simply replied, “Yes, it is.”

We gathered in our groups, shared Bible verses, prayer requests and gave thanks for the spirit-filled music that we sang. But the scent of Shalimar and this tender woman’s days gone-by hung in the air. You see, this gray-haired lover of Christ, wearing a white jumpsuit like all of the other women with whom she lived, had a past that is not my business, a future that is not mine to direct, but a present that we honored together.  This time was ours to share because of a scent. As we prayed, I felt like the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet, unworthy to worship with these women – women whom the love of God poured out through the words of their songs, in the light of their eyes and as they clutched their worn Bibles.

As we finished, my tears could have wet the feet of this woman. Not tears of sorrow or despair, but in celebration of knowing that we share the same Lord. The One of hope, not despair; the One of community, not loneliness; her Jesus, my Jesus, He’s the same for all. I wanted to hug her that night and slip her a bottle of Shalimar in exchange for the gift that she gave me, but I couldn’t even touch her. Another rule, but I pray the scent of my clothes found its way into her worn jumpsuit, or into her hair, because the scent of her love for Christ found its way into my heart.

Points to Ponder:

1.  Where is the last time you have truly seen Jesus?

2.  How would you describe your days gone-by?

3.  How would you describe your Lord?

Pray with Me:

Dear Lord of all,

Your essence follows us as we live with You in our lives. Open our noses so we can breathe in this heavenly gift.

Sniffing the air…