1

HANDLEBAR SCARS

handlebar_scarsI heard the scream for help and ran outside to see what was going on; I didn’t have to go far before panic gripped me. My four-year-old daughter’s face was covered with blood as she rested limply in the arms of a neighbor girl.

“It was an accident, Jamie fell off the handlebars of my bike and her head hit the sidewalk.”

As neighbors began to arrive on the scene, I barked out orders,

“I need cold compresses, towels and someone to drive me to ER!”

The sight of copious amounts of blood caused my adrenaline to kick into overtime; even more so when it’s your own child. For the first time, I understood the urgency felt by ER physicians and nurses as they are forced to make life-saving decisions. They act with mercy and reserve judgment until all the facts are known.

A blood trail followed me as I rushed into the emergency waiting room; my daughter cradled in my arms. The clerk at the reception desk handed me a clip board with pen and calmly said,

“I need you to complete these forms and provide me with your health insurance card. Bring them back to the desk when you are finished; once I confirm coverage, your paperwork will be sent to the ER staff.”

Was she joking? I have a four-year-old child screaming at the top of her lungs, bleeding from the head and she wants me to fill out paperwork. Obviously, this lady doesn’t have children because moms don’t hand other moms a clipboard when blood is dripping on the reception desk. Thankfully, an ER physician noted the situation. “We can handle the paperwork later,” he told the clerk, and escorted us into a room to assess the wound.

Let’s replay this in a spiritual scenario.

You are riding along on the handle bars of life when you fall off suddenly and hit pavement face first. The head wound is a gusher and as the blood flows it blocks your vision and you panic.

You arrive at the altar of God’s ER reception desk and cry out for mercy. Dr. Jesus, the attending physician, hears your cries and immediately begins to assess the damage.

Diagnosis: Lack of judgment
Cause: Riding on life’s handle bars instead of steering them which hindered their ability to navigate in the right direction.
Treatment Plan: Remove debris; clean and stitch the wound. Instruct patient in the proper way to ride the bicycle of life and that both hands should remain firmly gripped to the handles that steer and guide their path.
Discharge Plan: Forgiveness by grace, with no penalty or charge for service if primary care physician is Jesus. Keep injured area clean so healing can occur; sutures will dissolve over time with minimal scarring.
Fee for Service: Paid in full at the cross

Thankfully, the injury to my daughter’s head only required a few stitches; but, I had no way to know the depth or degree of the injury until the wound was cleaned by the physician.

That’s what Jesus does when we arrive at the ER altar desk. He takes a look at our physical, emotional and spiritual injuries and determines a course of action. He removes our debris, cleans our wounds and sutures our injuries. With follow-up treatment and loving care, Jesus restores the handlebar scars of our life.

0

HONEST ENGINE

IMG_8695Honest engine is like the triple dog dare of telling the truth. So when my granddaughter, Olivia, brought me the broken candle and used the term honest engine, she expected me to believe her.

“Honest engine, NeeNee. Fischer and I were jumping on your bed way over there and this just fell and broke.
“Really, Olivia?”
“Yes, NeeNee. It really did. I can’t imagine how it happened.”

I might have believed her if the bed wasn’t a good 15-foot away for the overturned candlestick. But, to Olivia, her made-up story seemed believable. She even convinced her brother, Fischer, to tell the same story. Does any of this remind you of two other people who also conspired to lie about something they did?

“Honest engine, God. Adam and I were just standing next to this tree when an apple fell to the ground.”
“Really, Eve?”
“Yes, God. It really did. I can’t imagine how it happened; but I didn’t want it to be wasted, so Adam and I had a taste.”

When I hear “I can’t imagine how it happened” anywhere in a sentence, I tend to assume that someone is trying to hide the truth.

There is an old English proverb that states, ‘the eyes are the window to the soul.’ This saying stems from a passage in the Bible, Matthew 6:22-23. When I was a kid, my mom told me she knew when I was lying by my eyes. My mom was one smart lady. She saw my face as a picture of my mind and my eyes as its interpreter.

When Adam and Eve conspired to lie to God, they were both exiled from the Garden of Eden. When Olivia and Fischer conspired to lie to NeeNee, they were both exiled from jumping on my bed.

“…be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:33

It is foolish to play the dog-dare honest engine card with God.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

0

WRITE-OFFS

taxreturnLiving debt-free is a way of life for me and my husband. It hasn’t always been that way. We have both had plenty of lean years in which we acquired credit card debt, drove cars with bald tires and purchased gas with the deposit money from returned soda cans.

I am thankful we can live debt-free, but having no expense write-offs at tax time can be a liability. With no expenses to declare against our income, our debt-free status increases our tax liability.

We have no children to declare, no mortgage interest and earned interest on retirement funds place us in a precarious situation with the tax collector, Uncle Sam. Our debt has been paid in full; we have a clean slate. We are no longer enslaved to things purchased on extended credit, college educations, car payments or a mortgage. Instead, we are enslaved to the laws of government bureaucracy that penalize a debt-free lifestyle.

Jesus came to redeem us from the law.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to pay our debt of sin. His shed blood washes our life clean; we are no longer indebted to the interest premiums of sin. A debt-free life in Christ generates benefits not penalties. You reap eternal life; earthly investments in the Kingdom of God yield untaxed dividends and late fees on unpaid sins are forgiven.

And then…

Satan and his evil bureaucracy arrive on the scene in an attempt to keep us from living free from the debt of sin. He longs to enslave us by the law and keep us indebted to the sins of our past. He charges late fees and collects interest on unforgiven sin; his ultimate goal is to keep us in bondage to the law, not grace.

“For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness (forgiveness) for everyone who believes.”
Romans 10:4
When filing your heavenly tax return, be sure to check the box that reads:

DEBT IS FORGIVEN. ANY PENALTIES OR LATE FEES DUE SHOULD BE SENT TO

 

IRS (Internal Redemption Services)
CO: Jesus, Purchasing Department
777 Redemption Road
Heaven, ETERNITY

0

I SPY

IMG_8692As the grandkids bound through the door last night, they could hardly contain their excitement. They were headed to Tennessee to spend a week with their ‘other’ grandparents, Nena and Poppa.

“Do you have are bags ready?”

“Sure do,” I said. “They are right there with your names on them.”

Whenever the grandkids take a road trip South, I prepare them bags filled with food snacks, games, and coloring sheets. Their mommy limits the amount of time they can spend on electronic devices; so the goodie bags come in handy and keep them occupied then they travel.

As I helped my daughter load up her Jeep, she picked up a 2-gallon container filled with cereal, rice, and uncooked pasta shapes. “What the heck is this?”

“Oh, that’s an I Spy bottle; I showed the kids how to play it last night.”

“Mother, where do you come up with these ideas? Please tell me they don’t unscrew the cap.”

“No, the cap is glued on and can’t be removed.” My daughter breathed out a sigh of relief as she carefully surveyed the container.

I Spy in a Bottle uses six picture cards that show various small objects hidden inside the container. The rice, dried pasta, cereal and assorted beans prevent the player from seeing them without shifting and moving the contents around to reveal the hidden items. The game starts over when all the pictured items have been revealed to the player.

What things are hidden in your I Spy bottle?

Life is our road trip and the pictured game cards are either snapshots from God’s Word or snapshots from this world. Our heart is the container and we have a choice of how we fill it. Even when we make the right choices, we can bury hidden sins in our heart.  We must shake and turn ourselves in the direction of God to allow hidden sin to surface and be revealed. When we do, we give that game card to Jesus in exchange for forgiveness. But the game doesn’t end.

I Spy is ongoing until death.

Our road trip in life tends to perpetuate and recycle past sins. Sin is in our nature, it’s in our disposition, and it’s in our humanness. It’s not just in our physical body; it’s in our minds, affections, feelings, emotions and will. Our only defense against sin is to read study and ingest the Word of God.

“Thy Word I have treasured in my heart,” said David, “that I might not sin against you,” Psalm 119.

2

THE POGO STICK

PSWith great excitement, I opened the box delivered by my UPS driver. Inside were three pogo sticks for the grandkids; they were part of their Easter gifts. I flipped down the pogo pedals and inserted the handles grips into the metal frame. As I did, I remembered the pogo stick I had as a kid. It was bright red with black pedals and I thought it the coolest thing ever, next to roller skates.

Once assembled, I took it outside to give it a try. How hard could it be?  After all, all those years of boinging down the concrete driveway as a child made me a seasoned pogo stick professional and I was about to prove it. With great confidence, I jumped onto the foot pedals only to find myself dismantled after three jumps.

In disbelief I muttered,” Really.” It was more of a question than a statement because the suggested weight for the pogo stick was 10-lbs. less than mine. For the first time ever, my extra weight should have worked to my advantage and allowed me to pogo myself to infinity and beyond. It didn’t happen.

I repackaged the pogo stick and completed the return form with the reason:

NOT AS EXPECTED, lacks the power to boing.

Have you ever thought you could pogo stick your way into eternity?

It is the foot pedals of the pogo stick that move us forward and the handles that keep us balanced. Past successes don’t carry-over to the present. It is through repeated practice, determination and the full weight of God on the pogo pedals of our life that we are able to move forward to our eternal purpose.

If you find yourself being dismantled from life’s pogo stick, return it to the cross of Jesus.  Request an exchange with the return reason:

NOT AS EXPECTED: Please exchange and include a full set of instructions on how to move forward to eternity. I thought I could do it by my own efforts, but I failed.

1

THE BROKEN BOTTLE

broken green wine bottle isolated on the white backgroundIt was a mad dash this morning getting the grandkids out the door for school. Their daddy arrived a little late to pick them up. In the rush to gather backpacks, lunches and tie shoes my oldest grandson, Carson, knocked over a glass bottle as he rambunctiously shoved his arm through the sleeve of his jacket.

Chards of glass scattered everywhere as he cried out,

“I’m sorry NeeNee, I am so very sorry! I didn’t mean to break it.” He reached down to pick up the jagged pieces strewn across the floor. “I’ll clean it up, NeeNee, I am so sorry, please forgive me.”

I pulled his arm away before his hand could touch the glass and said,

“It’s OK buddy, it’s not the first time something has been broken and it won’t be the last. I am just thankful it was the bottle and not you. We can replace things, but we can’t replace people.”

He gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you NeeNee for not being angry at me; I love you.” As my son-in-law ushered the kids out the door, he turned to me,

“That’s the bottle that took you so much time to cut with the glass cutter, isn’t it?” I nodded my head in affirmation. Indeed, it was. The very bottle that I had soaked, scrubbed and hand cut to fit a special order display stand which remained unbroken.

I cleaned up the broken glass and placed the display stand in a drawer for safekeeping until I can construct a new bottle from scratch. It will be a labor of love to show my grandson even broken things can be recreated and once again assume a position of worth on the special display stand.

Recreated things will never be what they were before their fall; they will be better and positioned in a safe place, by the creator, to prevent any future breakage.

Isn’t that what God does with our brokenness? When the chards of our broken life are scattered in every direction, and we cry out,

“I’m sorry Jesus, I am so very sorry; please forgive me and don’t be angry!

He responds to us in love and assures us that even broken people can be recreated and made new. And so, our creator fashions us into a vessel that is worthy of display.

“…I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do…” Jeremiah 18: 2-4

The greatest potter and glass blower in our life is Jesus.

2

DIRTY LENSES

IMG_8612I wear reading glasses and own 23 pair to prove it. There is a pair in every room of the house; in every glove compartment, two pair in my purse and a pair on the boat. Oh yes, there is also the pair I wear on the top of my head; the one I am forever trying to find. It’s not uncommon to see glasses on my head, hanging from shirt or perched on my nose; all at the same time.

When the grandkids need help with homework, the TV remote or want me to view their latest and greatest Minecraft houses, they hand me a pair of glasses. I can’t count the number of times I have reached for glasses on the top of my head only to find I have taken them off and left them in some unknown location.

Since my eye glasses are repeatedly taken off and on, it is pointless to store them in a protective case. Needless to say, it also means fingerprints and smudges continually cloud my view. On occasion I use my shirttail to wipe the lenses; but that only cleans a small radius in the center of each lens and my clouded view becomes further obstructed by tunnel vision.

I have all the right tools to thoroughly clean my eye glasses and it would only take a few minutes each day to remove the dirty fingerprints that obstruct my view. But, I willfully choose to not use them and instead complain about my inability to see things clearly.

Our Christian walk is no different.

God provides humanity with eye glasses in all shapes, colors, sizes and lens strength. It is up to us to keep the fingerprints of sin, differences, prejudices and unbelief from clouding our view.

To clean the lenses through which we view life, we must first remove those things that obstructs our view. That requires more than a simple wipe of the shirt tail; it requires the right tools to thoroughly clean our heart:

  • The Word of God: The solution that softens the dirty fingerprints on the lens of our heart
  • Prayer: The extra boast needed to remove the fingerprints and smudges from our life
  • Forgiveness: The cloth that wipes the lens of our heart and allows us a clear view of God’s purpose in our life
  • Grace: The protective cover that keeps our vision from being clouded

“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5

God provides us with the tools to keep our vision clear and unclouded. However, it is our decision to walk through life with dirty lenses that prevent us from seeing the light.