Daniel 7:27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.'
 
Greatness
 
At a Christian concert a couple of weeks ago an evangelist brought a message that was a testimony of what happened on an ordinary day in his life. God took the ordinary day and turned it into an extraordinary message that touched a lot of people  This guy was doing street ministry, which is actually very extraordinary, but  seemed ordinary for him.  The evangelist stopped to pray for a blind man.  He then went on to others and proceeded with his ministry on the streets of New York City.  A couple hours passed and someone came to him and told him that there was a blind man calling for him.  He knew immediately who it was and went back to where he had prayed earlier.  He thought perhaps the man had been remembering some words he had spoken and now wanted to receive Christ as Savior.  The evangelist went to the man fully prepared to lead him in a sinners prayer and point Him toward  the way of spending eternity with Jesus
 
The evangelist reached the man and found he simply had remembered his name and needed someone to take him to find a bathroom.  Suddenly humbled he took the blind man from store to store asking if there was  a public bathroom.  After a long search he found one at the top of a flight of stairs. The blind  man was happy someone had said, "Yes, you can use  our restroom.  Entering the bathroom, he headed for the stall.  The seeing evangelist stopped him and told him it was filthy.  He proceeded to find paper towels to cover the nasty seat.  He then stepped away for the blind man to have privacy.  As he returned to help the blind man, he found he was filthy.  He was covered with the very thing that the evangelist had hoped the paper towels would guard him from.  The man with the message then had to further humble himself and clean the filth from the blind man who didn't even know it was there.
 
The evangelist told this story and then spoke of how God spoke to Him on that ordinary day and told Him He had found him in filth and cleaned him just as he had to clean the blind man.  As I said he was humbled.  Many were touched by this powerful testimony and went forward during  a time of invitation
to receive Christ.
 
Now my message....
 
Yesterday as I cleaned house I thought I was doing a great job.  Suddenly I was called back to a spot I had already cleaned.  You see there is this cat.  Need I say more?  It was once a very good cat.  It always went to the door and asked that we let it out to use the restroom.   We always gladly said, "Yes."  For some reason the cat has changed.  It isn't such a good cat anymore.  Maybe it has just gotten lazy.  It now finds bathrooms in my house that aren't really bathrooms.  Most days we try very hard not to let it in.  As I found the filth I had to clean, I wasn't really humbled.  I was really angry.  I got down on my hands and knees and sprayed, and wiped, and scrubbed.  As I scrubbed I thought why am I so mad.  I brought this on myself.  I felt sorry for the cat who was out in the rain.  I let it in.  I let the filth in that I was now having to clean. 
 
I then remembered the evangelist story for some reason.  I remembered he said Christ has to take us  when we come to Him and clean our filth. I thought yes, He saves us and we begin new clean lives, but sometimes we get lazy and  filth even gets on  us as Christians.   A lot of it we let in. Sometimes we are so blind we don't even admit  it is there.  Those of us who Jesus has already cleaned up, put guards around to protect us from the filth, sometime let our guards down.   We know better, but have weak moments, feel sorry for ourselves and let it come right on in.  We then get angry because the mess is there. that we really have no idea how to clean up.  Just as the blind man called out for help, so must we.  Even though Jesus has already done a work in us, we must call on Him again. We can't do this on our own. No matter what greatness we feel God has called us to, we must remain humble, and realize we sometimes make a mess of things.
 
 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 
When we get our messes straightened out we continue on looking  for greatness, waiting for God to bring extraordinary things to our ordinarily lives.  The funny thing is the great things God wants us to do don't seem quite so great to us.   God is a God who counts ordinary great.    There are  so many people all around us  blind and filthy who simply need someone to take the time to  turn around, lend a hand, and say yes to them.  To them, and to God also I think, this is greatness.  We must be humble willing servants of our  Master who took us blind and filthy and led us to the place where He cleaned us up. 
 
jbp
 
 
II Corinthians 4:15 All of these things are for our benefit.  And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

Redo
 
 
What did you do last week that was you had absolutely  no idea the week before you would be doing ? I now ask myself that question. Usually my answer would be nothing I suppose, but this week I do have an answer.  I got baptized  (again).Wait a  minute don't stone me yet.  I am not trying to start up the debate I have heard so often ...."If you do it once you are done. No need for a redo." Well, I did believe that once for a  lot of years along with a whole lot of things that I really just believed because someone told me that was what I was supposed to believe.  There were all kinds of things that I could and could not do that I never really knew why.   I just said,  "Ok."
I was told at the age of twelve, the age of accountability, I should be baptized. I turned twelve and I was baptized.  Years and years and years past and I thought I was baptized and all was well with my soul. 
Then a while back in 2002 my son turned 12 and got baptized and I said to myself,  "Self, you are a new  person, filled with the Spirit of God in  a way you never thought possible.   You have found where you belong in the Body of Christ.  You have found who God created you to be and you should be baptized (again)."  Actually all this self talking was really God talking. He was pulling at me and I knew I must obey. So at the ripe old age of 44 I was rebaptized at the church I felt then and now I am meant to be a part  of.  I felt brand new, newer than ever before.  
God began to use me in ways I never imagined and I knew God wanted the redo done and I was glad I did.
Now a few more years have past. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. There have been days of victory and days of battle.  There have been days of tribulation and days of jubilation.  This past couple of years, and especially this  past summer, has been a very long trial in my life. Last Monday my husband decided he needed to be baptized.  I was happy, but knew God was asking something of me and wanted me to be obedient.  My first thought was, "What will people think?  I am in the ministry, do a little bit of this and that, whatever needs to be done that I am capable of doing at church.  What will it look like if I am baptized again ?  People will think there is some sort of huge sin present in my life."  I said , "No way."  As soon as I said that I knew God was speaking, and calling me to do this redo.
I called and made the arrangements with my Pastor and his dad who is  Senior Associate Pastor at our church. I felt the purpose of being rebaptized was not to become new again personally as an individual, but I felt as a couple we needed to become new to God at the same  exact moment.  In marriage you are supposed to be one.  I felt we should both go down in the water at the same time and come up together at the same time.  It was symbolic of our being one together obedient and committed  jointly to God  and supportive of  each other in whatever ministry we are called to.  Wednesday evening we stood in front of our Pastor and his dad  in the baptistry.  We were prayed over and then Pastor said, "I baptize both of you in the name of Jesus Christ." Pastor dunked my husband, his dad put me under.  We came up new in Christ together. 
When we married,  about thirty two years ago, we stood in front of a judge  at a courthouse and were joined together.  We have thought of renewing our vows in front of a minster of the gospel.  Now I think our being baptized together by a minister of the gospel was a far greater renewal of our vows to each other and to God than any ceremony we could have ever planned.   It feels God planned this one for us.
And this again again baptism seems to have impacted so many more lives than just our own. After the service many told us they were touched by the baptism. My husband said  he thought it would be nice if other couples were baptized at the same time like this.  I said , "Yes, it would be nice."  Sunday morning a young couple was baptized together. Sunday night another couple was baptized together. I cried. 
Sometime the trials and tribulations we face are there not only to make us stronger, but also to make others stronger when we come out on the other side victorious.  It is almost always the things we had no idea  a week in advance that we would be doing that can change not only  our world, but the world.  When we are obedient to God's voice, when we go against our voice saying "No way,"  we have the power to not only change our own lives, but also impact the lives of many others.
Let there be much thanksgiving. To God be all the glory
 
jbp
 
 
Memory Lane
 
My home town is still my town. I don't have to wonder what it would be like to go  back to the home of my childhood, because I am there. Yesterday I rode down the streets of Downtown, once changed to the name Uptown by some development board who hung banners proclaiming the place to be Uptown, but the name didn't stick. Now once again downtown is Downtown as it was meant to be  in my hometown.
As I rode through downtown yesterday, as i do very often. for some reason on this particular day, a memory came to me as clear as if it happened that very day. I passed a corner which I remembered was once a bus stop. I remember siting on a wooden bench that once sat on that corner waiting on a bus to take me home after I had been downtown shopping.  I was ten years old. I remember that day very well because it was the first trip I made on the bus to town all by myself.
On that day I paid Wayne,(still remember his name) the bus driver 25 cents as I climbed on the blue van with the words East West City Bus painted on the side. I sat on the very first seat right behind the drivers seat. I liked to sit there because the fan that was mounted on the dash blew in my direction. I liked to sit there because the very small transistor radio tied to the rear view mirror could be heard barely when I sat on that particular seat.(I loved the Beatles, especially Paul.) 
I remember what I bought that day. At Shainberg's I bought a lavender tent dress with yellow and white daisies to wear to Sunday school the next day. I bought a yellow beaded necklace and a new dairy with a blue flowered cover at Kuhn's Variety Store. At Kent's I bought as lavender striped knit dress with a chain belt just like Mitzi Beasley's (the fashion queen in the fifth grade).  I thought it was amazing that I had something like hers.  I ate a cheese toast and a Dr. Pepper at TKE's lunch fountain, then crossed main street back to the corner bus stop and awaited the East West City Bus's arrival to take me home. I was so tired and couldn't wait to get there.
Yesterday, as I remembered that day from so long ago tears started flowing for some reason and wouldn't stop. I thanked God for the fact that I now had my own transportation to drive through downtown, something my family never had when I was a child. I knew there were many things I didn't have then that I do have now.  For that I am thankful, but then i thought if I had have had everything when I was a child, I would never have had such a special memory of such a special day from about forty years ago.  I once again prayed and thanked God for giving me that special day so long ago and for allowing me to have such a special walk down memory lane as I rode these familiar streets of  my hometown. It may sound silly, but I also thanked Him for all the circumstances and situations that had caused me to remain living in the same little town throughout my life. As many times as i longed to leave here when i was younger, I  now realize remaining here  was a blessing.
There are so many things we have now that we forget to be grateful for. There are so many memories from our past that make us think of all the things we didn't have then that we think we should have had. These memories sometime make us sorrowful There are so many what ifs  and whys from our past that sometime make us bitter and think we just got stuck  in a particular place. God has  a plan for each of our lives. His plans are not our plans.  If He keeps us in a place, it is for a reason. If He moves us to a place it is for a reason.  Sometimes what we think are downs are really ups in God's eyes.  He has named us and called us to be who we are and where we are in life, no matter if we ourselves, or others try to proclaim us to be someone less than that.
No matter how others try to relocate us, rename us,  no matter how many memories from the past cause tears to flow,  we must be thankful to  God  for all things and  remember we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. 
We all are looking forward to the day we will get to go home.  It is great to be here  breathing and remembering and driving and shopping and living and loving. But, remember, some day we will catch a ride back home, to our true hometown.  We will go up and walk down golden lanes where there will be a big reunion and we will remain forever more at home with Jesus who will wipe all tears from our faces.
 
 
Below is a poem I wrote last Monday that was also about memories.  As i wrote it I realized even sad memories sometime serve special purposes and we can not move them completely from our minds. I hadn't planned to share this one, thought it was just for me, but it goes with the devotional I wrote this morning.
 

Moving

 

There are some memories lodged in my heart causing such great pain.

These memories stored in my heart I struggle to move to my brain.

In my heart they are fresh, larger than life, and so very real.

When they move to my brain perhaps the hurt will begin to heal.

 

In the heart the laughter tunred to loneliness I can feel.

If stored in the brain with all these emotions I won't have to deal.

You see the brain is more neutral, less personal, more detached.

My heart is more involved, more loving, more likely to react.

 

With tears, heaviness, and brokenness unashamedly displayed,

Unable to hide that I am  covered with sadness , suffering,  and  so afraid.

In the brain so many  memories are stored from years gone by.

I seldom brush the dust from them now and ask what if and why.

 

Those memories too I know once lived so deep within this  heart of  mine.

I can still remember those struggles, those tears, that hurt and all the time

It took to pack them up in boxes and tie them tightly with strong string,

And move them to the brain where they lost the freshness of their sting..

 

So today as I brush  a straggling tear from my cheek that I didn't know was there,

As I ask God once more why; this all seems so unfair.

As I stuff in one more memory, filling the last box with the worst and the best,

I remember yet another memory forgotten that has to go along with the rest.

 

I run back in to grab it but it hides quickly away in a corner of my heart.

Maybe tomorrow, but not today with this last memory I will be able to part.

They say time heals all wounds of every kind and sort,

But even time can't take memories completely from the brain that once lived in the heart..

 
jbp
 
 
TAC
 
 tact -a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
 
Think fast. Spell squeeze backwards.  Ok, that was too easy huh? But you did have the word right in front of you.  A few kids were playing a board game in which spelling words backwards was one of the tasks they had to accomplish. Watermelon was one of the words, as was squeeze.  Just as it isn't too easy to squeeze juice out of an uncut watermelon, it isn't too easy to spell words backwards, especially if you are young and just learning to spell forwards. 
A child sat with a blank stare on his face when asked to accomplish the backwards spellathon.  Teammates encouraged him to hurry hurry hurry. But the adults realized the child wasn't going to be able to squeeze the letters out backward or forwards no matter how much the teammates wanted him to get the task done.   So the adults used  a little tact. Squeeze was replaced with cat , which spelled backwards is tac (sp) as I said is what was used and  all was well with the world, for a moment anyway.
In life there are so many things we are expected to accomplish that aren't that easy. Finding the answers to some questions seem impossible, about as impossible as squeezing juice out of an uncut watermelon. Others around us, tell us to hurry up, just get it done, get over it.   It all seems so simple to the on lookers, who don't have to answer the questions or make the decisions that we must make in our own lives
Sometimes God sees that the tasks set before us are next to impossible. Of course things that seem impossible with man are possible with God, but I think every once awhile God looks down and sees no matter how much others urge us on we just aren't going to squeeze out the solution backwards or forwards.  That is when God uses a little tact and takes the difficult squeezes and turns them into something with a much simpler answer for us, His children.    
Even though we aren't all too crazy about  possessing cats, their name only contains three letters.  Spelled backwards that is tac, which is something we all have to possess when trying to squeeze a little juice from a whole lot of uncut watermelons in this life.  Oops, did I spell that right?
 
jbp