SAYING “I’M SORRY”

I’ve had to apologize multiple times the last few weeks.

My sister is now safe and well taken care of, but I am embroiled in all the legal loose ends trying to settle every issue concerning her life and property.

don’t know much about the legal system, and that leaves me feeling vulnerable and uncertain.  I don’t like that feeling   It puts me in a bad mood.

Sometimes this bad mood extends beyond the legal difficulties and spills over into everyday situations.  I was rude to my hair dresser last week.  All day long people had been telling me “no.”  Her “no” was one too many.  I did apologize, but she was not impressed with my humility.

At the tax office, I waited knowing I would be late for my next appointment, while the accountant, with whom we had dealt for years, made sure my check had cleared.

“It’s okay,” she said.  “It went through.”

“I could have told you that,” I muttered, as I hurried out the door.  I have been honest and forthright all my life.  It really irks me to be treated any other way.

When I called the local utility company, I had all the information needed to arrange for my sister’s final payment.  However, I was told that I could not take care of it over the phone.  Finally, in frustration, I said, “Honey, I’m not trying to steal anything.  I’m trying to make sure you get your money.”

As required, I did go to the office.  A sweet lady said to me, “I see you tried to take care of this by phone.”

“Yes,” I replied.  “I’m afraid I wasn’t very kind.  I’m sorry.”

“Oh, it’s all here on the record,” she said.

I left the office realizing that the spoken word is never completely erased.  It will hang around somewhere in the universe forever.  In fact scientists tell us that every word ever spoken throughout time still hangs in the atmosphere, and one day, they will be able to retrieve those words, and we will hear, for example, the voice of Abraham Lincoln as he delivered the Gettysburg Address.

Now, that is amazing.  That is exciting.  Less exciting is the prospect that someone, centuries from now, might be able to hear the hateful words I have spouted during this stressful time.

I can make all kinds of excuses for my bad behavior.  I have been dealing with my sister’s situation for months.  I am weary down to the bone.  This is not working.  That is not working.  I am stressed out!

None of these excuses suffice, however, and saying “I’m sorry” is not enough for the sharp words have already wounded—they have already offended.

Saying “I’m sorry” is difficult for many, because it is an admission of wrong doing.  Others wave off an offense with a casual “Sorry” without any real remorse.

When I apologize, I do mean it, but at the same time I am aware that the hurt has not necessarily been expunged.

In Psalm 19:14, King David prays, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

This must be my first consideration.  What does God think about this?  Is this acceptable to Him?

My words are the product of my thoughts.  Those stinging barbs are birthed by my thoughts long before they are given voice.  I must guard my thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 instructs us, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

I guarantee you.  If you fill your mind with those wondrous things, there will be little space for anything else.

David ends his prayer in Psalm 19:14, by addressing God as his strength and his Redeemer.

He is our strength.  There is no way, on my own, to measure up to God’s requirements, but He is my strength.  I can do all things through Him.  He is my Redeemer.  He has bought me with the price of His own Son.  My greatest desire is to honor him by what I think, the words I speak and the things I do.

The apostle Paul tells us to think like Jesus thinks.  Remember—

The sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

LOVE CARES MORE

I Corinthians chapter thirteen is a glorious hymn of praise in honor of Christian love.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul, from a heart burning with the love of Christ, eloquently expressed the characteristics of this special kind of love.   He tells us that it is absolutely necessary—it is eternal, and it is greater than anything else.

I just finished reading this chapter both in the New King James and in The Message.  I am captured by the poetry of Brother Paul, but at the same time, I am appreciative of the plain forthrightness of The Message.

In verse 1, the New King James says, “Love suffers long and is kind…” 

The Message puts it this way.  “Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self…”

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I have experienced that kind of love, first from my mother, then from God.  God has always loved me, of course, even before I was formed in my mother’s womb.  But, I was aware of Mama’s love first of all.

Mama was the strongest woman I have ever known.  I believe her strength came from her suffering, for regardless of pain and sorrow she flexed her spiritual muscles, and determined never to give up.

At the age of twenty—one, Mama lost her firstborn.  Baby Levi, just shy of his third birthday, succumbed to infantile paralysis, and two year later she laid her young husband of six years to rest.  She went to work, chopping cotton, sewing, cleaning, and doing laundry—anything to take care of her two remaining babies.

Mama always cared more for others, especially her family, than for herself.  I know there were times she did without, in order that we have the necessities.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted so much to go away to Bible College, but there was no money, so I went to work.  Hour after hour, day after day, I sewed pockets on pajamas for Sears.  BORING!  I was guaranteed $ .75 per hour, but I was fast—I was good.  I could do twice my quota, so I made $60.00 a week.

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From that $60.00, I gave my parents $15.00 to help with expenses and I paid my tithes.  I saved $1,000.00 that year, and in September, I boarded a Grey Hound bus and zoomed off to Waxahachie, Texas.  After two years, my $1,000.00 was more than used up, and end of term, I came home owing a school bill.

I tried all summer to get a job, but nothing was available, and I couldn’t go back until my debt was paid.  However, I kept preparing for my return hoping that a miracle would happen.

One morning, My Mom disappeared and was gone for a couple of hours.  No one knew that she had walked to the bank.

She went to the bank to ask for a loan.  She had no collateral except our old house, and I know she wouldn’t risk our home.  On her good name alone, think of that, she borrowed enough money to pay my debt and to get me started on a new term.

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She put her arms around me and, with tears in her eyes, said, “Pack your bags, you’re going back to school.”

 I have no idea how my mother ever paid back that loan.  I know that it took a sizable chunk out of my parent’s limited income.  Again she had proven her love caring more for others than for self.

My older brother started preaching as a nineteen-year-old evangelist, but he had no money and no way to get to his first revival.  Mama sent him $50.00 from the cotton she picked or the houses she cleaned.  In 1949, $50.00 was a fortune.

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My brother preached and is still preaching, for sixty-eight years, and I served in active ministry for nearly fifty years largely due to My Mother’s godly love.  No doubt, my Mom will share in any reward we receive.

That’s the kind of love the Apostle Paul was talking about.

Now I am thinking of another debt I owed.  The song says,

“He paid a debt He did not owe.

I owed a debt I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song: “Amazing Grace.”

Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

When I started teaching school, I determined to send my Mama $50.00 a month for the sacrifice she had made.  I did that long after the debt had been paid.  In a sense, I paid her back, but she didn’t ask for it.  She didn’t expect it.  She did it because she loved me.

There is no way I can pay Jesus back for loving me more than He loved His very life, but I can follow His example.  I can quit pampering myself and allow His love to flow through me to a needy neighbor, a family member, a suffering world.

The sun will come out tomorrow

For Unto Us…

 

Christmas, 1975, was difficult for me.  I was a rookie missionary in Belgium away from my family for the first time.  When I thought about Christmas alone, I wanted to lie down and die, but I didn’t.  I made the best of things.

My Christmas experiences, that first year in Belgium, have furnished me with sweet, funny, and ridiculous stories, with which I have entertained people for over forty years.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I received a telephone call from one of our Belgian pastors, who knew of my ministry to children.

“Sister Faye,” he said, “We would like to invite you to our church on Saturday afternoon before Christmas.  We have asked a group of Gypsy children to be our guests.  Our own children will present a Christmas program, and, afterward, we will give gifts to all the Gypsy kids.”

Of course, I accepted the invitation—I was anxious to go.

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When I arrived at the little storefront church, I was amazed at what I saw.  The platform was piled high with wonderful gifts—baby dolls and toy trucks, basketballs and roller skates—almost anything a child could desire.  There were also great bags of sweets—candies and cookies and other pastry.

The pastor had explained to me that he had gone to merchants and explained the need.  He had also shared the needs with patisseries and sweet shops.  Everyone had been generous with his donations.

The Gypsy kids came.  They came with their Moms and Dads, their Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles and Cousins.  They filled every crook and cranny in that little sanctuary.

The church kids presented a great program.  Then pastor walked to the platform.  He explained very meticulously how this thing was going to work.

He said, in French, “We have a gift and sweets for all the children.   There is enough for everyone.  So, we will come one row at a time.  When row one is finished, then row two will come, and so on.  Do you understand?”

“ Oui, oui,”  they shouted with one accord.

“D’accord,” said the pastor.  “Row one may come.”

At his word, the whole Gypsy congregation, kids, moms and dads, and every other relative rushed the platform nearly mowing down the pastor.

“Non, non!  Attendez, attendez,” he cried.  “Vous n’avez pas compris.”  (You did not understand.)   “Go back to your seats.”

Back to their seats they went, and we started all over.

“Now,” said the pastor, “Let’s try again.  Row one must come first.”

Again, the whole audience broke and ran for the platform.  After several tries, the pastor just gave up.  His Gypsy guests helped themselves to the gifts and the sweets, and walked out the door without a “Thank you” or backward glance.

The pastor was bewildered—divested.  He had worked so hard.  I was truly sorry for him, and I was truly sorry for those beautiful black eyed kids.  I think I understood.  They were marginalized, unaccepted by society, living in squalor, with hardly enough to keep body and soul together.  All of life they had been left out, living on the edge.

Suddenly there was all this beautiful, shiny, new stuff meant for them.  So, breaking all the rules, they claimed it.  Someone had finally included them.

Most of us have felt left out, unnoticed, unappreciated at one time or another.  We ask, “Why not me?  Why do the good things always happen to someone else?  Why don’t I win the lottery?”

Great News!  You have not been left out.  You have been personally included in the greatest “give-away” of all time.

“For unto US, you and me, a child is born, unto US, you and me, a Son is given…and His name shall be called WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.”

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This child, who is born to us, is wonderful in every way—in His birth, His teaching, His deeds, His death, and His resurrection.  Wonderful to us!

Do you lack wisdom?  He is our counselor.  We never go wrong when we follow His counsel.

His is our Mighty God—our Hero God—able to do exceedingly more than we can ever imagine.

Being alone as I am, I sometimes feel the need for a protector.  This child, who was born to me, has become my Everlasting Father—my absolute, eternal protector.  He will never cease to protect, never desert or grow weary.

He is the Prince of Peace.  In the middle of this nutty, out of control world, He keeps me in perfect peace.

This Christmas I am seized by the wonder of Christ.  I am gripped by the fact that He is mine—that he was born for me.  His love, His forgiveness His life, and all that includes, is God’s gift to me.  I have not been left out.

Just like those needy Gypsy children, you may claim God’s bright, shiny, wonderful gifts for yourself.  YOU HAVE NOT BEEN LEFT OUT!

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

LET’S TALK TURKEY

Attempting to refresh my memory concerning the first American Thanksgiving in 1621, I kept running into the gobbler—the bird we call “turkey.”  I learned more about this bare-headed, strange looking bird with wattle and iridescent plumage than I really needed to know.  Nonetheless, it is entertaining.

How in the world did this native North American bird come to be called “Turkey?”  Long before America existed, as a country, the Ottoman Empire, now the country of Turkey, imported guinea fowl from eastern Africa.  The guinea fowl came to be called the “Turkey-cock or Turkey-hen.” When settlers in the New World, began to send similar-looking birds back to Europe, they were mistakenly called turkeys.  The name stuck.

“Turkey” is not only used to identify the bird, which has become the centerpiece of the American Thanksgiving feast but is used in a variety of other ways.

Sometimes “turkey” is used to describe (unkindly) a loser, an uncoordinated, inept, clumsy person, someone who is generally uncool.

lets-talk-1Those of you who have ever bowled will know that getting three strikes in a row is called a “turkey.” It is thought this began as a Thanksgiving tradition in the 1800’s.  The first person to bowl three strikes in a row during the week of Thanksgiving received a live turkey to take home for dinner.

The turkey, a true native of America, was Benjamin Franklin’s pick for our national bird.

“Talk Turkey” simply means to speak plainly and get to the point.  So, let’s “talk turkey” about giving thanks.

In September of 1620, the tiny Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England with 102 passengers and 30 crewmen.  The ship was approximately 100-110 feet long from stem to stern and 25 feet wide.  The passengers, 102 of them, lived in an area 50 X 25 feet with a 5-foot ceiling.  When I walked on board that life-size replica anchored in Plymouth harbor, it was impossible to imagine how 130 people could survive a 66-day storm-tossed voyage under such conditions.

Many of the settlers were religious separatist seeking a new home, where they could freely practice their faith.  They were willing to suffer anything for that freedom.

During the first bitter winter in the new world, most passengers stayed on board the Mayflower.  They suffered from exposure, scurvy, and contagious diseases.  Only half lived to see their first New England spring eventually learning from the Wampanoag Indian tribe how to survive in this strange new land.

In November 1621, Governor Bradford organized a Harvest feast to celebrate and give thanks to God for survival of the colony.  Nowhere is it recorded that this celebration was called Thanksgiving, nor do we know whether or not they ate turkey, but it did lay the foundation for our beloved American holiday.

In many American households, Thanksgiving has lost much of its original religious significance.  It has become merely a day of feasting, football, and family.

In 1941, President, Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill officially making the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day.

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BUT—you can’t legislate Thankfulness.  You cannot force people to be thankful.  I think there must be a God-awareness in the heart in order to be truly thankful, and that awareness must be instilled from an early age.   Otherwise, the blessings of life and our American freedoms are taken for granted and are often squandered.

An old song tells us to:

“Count your blessings.  Name them one by one.

…Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”

I woke up this morning counting my blessings.  When I crawled out of bed, I was thankful that I could stand straight without pain.  When I prepared breakfast, I thanked God I don’t have to worry about where next week’s groceries are coming from.  I looked around and found myself thankful for my sweet little home and the pretty bougainvillea blooming outside the window.  When I get in my little red car and head toward the church, I am thankful, there will be smiling faces there to greet me, and people will actually show up and listen to my Bible study.

There’s so much more for which to be thankful:  My salvation, my hope in Christ, eternal life, my family and friends, and YOU.  I am a retired minister, but I still have a congregation.  Thank you for reading each week.  I am honored.

Psalm 100:4, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name.”

Again, in Psalm 119:164, the psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you…”

            In Psalm 34:1, he also says, “…His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

DON’T WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER 24 TO THANK GOD.

WHAT IF YOU WOKE UP TODAY WITH ONLY WHAT YOU THANKED GOD FOR YESTERDAY?

THINK ABOUT IT!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW