Saturday, March 20, 2021

By Grace





My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 

(2 Cor. 12:9 NIV)

 

Some years ago, my family of native Floridians who had never seen more than a bucketful of snow in our lives, decided that it would be a great adventure to take a winter vacation and learn to ski.  Snow ski.  Most of the group took to the slopes like champs, as if they had been born to the mountains. 

Not this one.  Do you know how fearful a mountain looks when it’s covered with snow and the sport is to maneuver your way to the bottom with boards on your feet?  One truth finally stuck in my brain, thanks to a caring and patient ski instructor:  don’t think about the whole mountain.  All you are to think about is this piece right in front of you.  With her help and the great grace of Almighty God, I made it down several mountains over the course of several ski trips.  There were more than a few falls along the way and one even required the help of the Ski Patrol (they really didn’t have to say “We don’t get many calls for people on the Bunny Slope!”) 

From my standpoint, this past year has been a mountain.  Like the mile-high mountains in Colorado, there is no seeing over the next bump in the slope or what is beyond the next stand of trees and rocks.  But we are skiing on down, maneuvering each piece as well as we can with that wonderful gift from God called Grace.  The peaks are fearsome: COVID, a church in transition, personal relationships, grief for those who were lost during the year.  The list varies with each person.  Day by day, hour by hour, with each breath we take we simply have no choice but to keep on.  Had we known how long the pandemic would upheave the world, we would have said, “O no…I can’t do that.” 

A young Christian writer named Morgan Harper Nichols said it this way:

A year ago, you did not know today. 

You did not know how you’d make it here. 

But you made it here. 

By Grace, you made it here.

If we are Christians, we made it here because we know the One who sees over the bumps, around the trees and rocks, and all the way to the bottom of the mountain and beyond.  It’s called Grace.

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense


Sue Holbrook is the author of three books: Faith Breezes: Glimpsing God's Glory in Every Day Life; Cradle and Cross: Reflections of Christmas and Easter; and Encounters: A Savior Walks the World.  

All are available on amazon.com.

 







 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Change

 

                                                Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.

                                                                        -Psalm 6:2 NLT

One of my favorite author/speakers is Marilyn Meberg.  A speaker with the original  Women of Faith team, Marilyn excels at punctuating her life lessons with droll humor and off-the-wall examples.  In her book I’d Rather Be Laughing, Marilyn shares this story regarding the need to change.  I offer it here in my own thumbnail version.

There was a man named Calvin, an upstanding gentle bachelor who desired nothing more than some conversation to enhance his life.  Deciding that a parrot would be the answer to his too-quiet world, he went to the pet store and asked if they had a very talkative parrot.  Indeed, the shop owner did have such a bird, but he kept it locked in the back room.  Being anxious to accomplish his mission, Calvin insisted on immediate purchase of his new companion and took it straight home.  That’s when he discovered the parrot was indeed quite talkative…with a vocabulary that would blister the walls.

Poor Calvin did everything possible to change his bird.  As if his social life wasn’t bad enough already, his new pet was now killing it.  One day, as the parrot filled the air with especially offensive language, Calvin could take it no more.  He grabbed the bird from its cage, flung it into the freezer and slammed the door.  He heard it squawking, swearing, and thrashing about for a few minutes, and then suddenly, it became deathly quiet.  Calvin waited a few more minutes before cautiously opening the freezer door.  The parrot stood there, quiet and calm, looking back at him.

In the most humble fashion, the parrot apologized for all the errors of his ways.  Furthermore, he vowed never to repeat the offenses and to be a source of pleasure and good company in the future.  There was just one question.

“I do wonder, sir…I have to ask…what did the chicken do?”

 

Change.  It’s a constant in this earthly life.  Things just don’t stay the same – on any level…personal, country, church or any other facet of life.  The key question always comes down to each of us as individuals regardless of the scope and reach of the community.

Sometimes change comes when we get a look at the possible consequences of our actions.  The parrot got a look at what he feared might be his future and decided it was in his best interest to change his ways.  Would that it was that quick and easy.  The initial reaction when we’re faced with the need for change is to resist.  “I/We’ve never done things that way before!”   Sooner or later, the time comes to determine how to maneuver this new situation with as much grace and dignity as possible.  What can I do to make this new situation as painless as possible.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the chicken did.     

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Word For The Year

 

 

The question was asked: what is your word for this year?

Hmm…I was forced to think.  What one word would I choose that would encompass my response to this new year of 2021 and my place in it?  I can only speak for myself but perhaps my word could become yours as well.

STAY.  If we can simply stay, in so many areas of life, we can deal with whatever 2021, or any other year, will throw at us.  Here are my thoughts.  You can probably add a few of your own to this list.

STAY in the Word.

            I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

            Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

STAY in prayer.

            This is the confidence in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  I John 5:14

             Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

STAY in the moment.

             … do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Matthew 6:34

             Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

STAY connected with Life: family, friends, church.

             How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  Psalm 133:1

             We love because he first loved us.  1 John 4:19

STAY calm and carry on!

               Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.  Isaiah 43:2

              Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

I offer you my word for 2021…STAY!

 


Friday, December 25, 2020

On Christmas Day

 


Several weeks ago, I began to write a weekly column for my church newsletter.  I call my column Grits and Gravy: Food for the Soul.  Today, I want to share with you the column that appears in this week's newsletter.  

TOO MANY THOUGHTS TO TAME

Christmas is overwhelming to me this year.  Do you feel that way, too?

So many issues are chasing each other through my brain that it’s impossible to snatch just one to consider for very long.  My muddle doesn’t come from the traditional scurrying of the season.  That’s not happening this year.  Instead, I’m besieged with much heavier concerns than having enough wrapping paper.  I don’t have to enumerate what they are.  The world, the flesh, the Savior…so many hotbeds of conflict and concern.  I have mine, you have yours.  Too many to think about.  And frankly, many of them I don’t want to dwell on for very long because it’s not healthy. 

Max Lucado has boiled it down to wonderful simplicity in his book Before Amen:  Lord, you are good.  I need help.  They need help.  Thank you, Jesus, for who you are.

Who. He. Is.

There is a peaceful clarity when I take the time to remind myself of Who He Is.  The nativity display on the table in my living room is very grounding for me.  The reminder is that God – in a moment and a place and a time of his own choosing – caused his son to be born into this world.  He didn’t come to reign and rule from the magnificence of a palace, surrounded by a servile horde ready to impart his every thought to his waiting subjects and do his unquestioned bidding.

No.  He sent his son to walk with you and me…through the dark…through the rain…through the dirt…through the conflict.  He sent his son to see the confusion in our minds …to stand beside us when we stumble on the rocks in the road and whisper “I’m here.  We’ve got this. We will walk through this together.”  And he’s here to dance with us and rejoice in the many moments when prayers are answered and the sun shines.

Here’s what I know for sure. 

In the beginning the Word already existed. 

The Word was with God, and the Word was God… 

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

                                                                                                     -John 1: 1, 4, 5 NLT

Merry Christmas