I never grew out of my childhood name of Pammy Sue to Grandpa Ford. I remember happily bouncing on his knee as He sang, Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy, Jig! Grandpa delighted in checker games with all of his grandchildren. He used his talents as a craftsman, weaving cain seats in chairs, and constructing wood crafts, such as a rooster weather vane. Honey, fresh from the honeycomb gave him great pleasure.
I saw devotion to Grandma, his bride of sixty five years, at the time of her death. Grandpa enjoyed the peaceful times of rocking in a favorite chair on the back porch. A cherished memory I now recall is of Grandpa sitting in his favorite living room chair, reading his Bible. He could no longer read the small print. So, he read the scriptures with a large magnifying glass. In my family photos I have a snapshot of him with Bible and magnifying glass. It is also in safe deposit, hidden in my mind with other cherished memories. My desire is to always be as dedicated to Gods’ word. Open my eyes, Lord. (Psalms 119:18)
It is impossible to hide your feelings. Sooner or later the truth is revealed. If you fall in love it is affects your thoughts, speech, actions and even your appearance. It likely even changes your health. Our blood pressure may drop with a sense of well being. In excitement our pulse speeds up a bit. We are changed and love is the reason. If it is contagious start mingling. We all need to be exposed.
God is love. He loves each of more than we can ever understand. The Lord loved us before we even noticed Him. “But Christ died for us while we were still sinners. In this way God shows his great love for us (Romans 5:8 NCV).” Have you received that love? We each need to admit our sin, seek His forgiveness, and make our decision public. New believers will notice many changes in their lives. Some are instantaneous; others come gradually. One we experience right away is never ending. We love our new family. We love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Heavenly Father loves His children. It gives Him great joy to see us love one another. Outsiders also recognize that love. “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know you are my followers if you love each other (John 13:34-35 NCV).” Don’t try to hide it. Admit it; you are in love.
One occupation that neglects to receive the appreciation deserved is the position of Security Guard. Many times people are even unaware that someone is there on duty. The guard just quietly does the work required, day by day, sometimes year after year. My Dad filled the role of security guard for General Electric in Syracuse, New York for nearly twenty five years. A Grandfather and Uncle were also on the guard force. In many ways it is like a military or law enforcement job, even holding ranks. My uncle became a Corporal. The uniforms were impressive, looking much like New York State Troopers. There were occasions when officers called upon Dad to direct traffic, at vehicle accident scenes. Why? People respected his uniform. It represented authority and protection. The job is often a lonely one, working alone for many hours, and in all kinds of weather. At times his personal safety took a back seat. He worked in times of unrest, crossing picket lines during plant strikes. I am proud of the work that my father did.
Do you realize that our hearts and lives are vulnerable, and in need of guarding? See: Philippians 4:6-7. We are commanded to not be anxious, but to pray and be thankful. We are instructed to bring all our requests to God. Then in ways beyond our understanding, His peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.God’s peace is on guard duty day and night! Many night watchmen have been known to nod off while on duty. God never grows weary. He quietly goes about His responsibilities attentively protecting us. We can be sure that Lloyd’s of London could not promise more!
How often have you heard the expression, “He’s a broken man?” It brings to mind someone who through circumstances has lost it all, at times through no fault of their own. Let’s take a close look at the words broken and brokenness. Definitions include: fractured, crushed, pulverized, smitten, afflicted, and shattered. How would you like your life to be described that way? When a person becomes broken, they often are devastated with a loss of family, home, occupation, self respect, and even at times loss of health. To be broken appears to be a very negative thing. It is a negative, which can be turned into a big positive! Individuals, families, churches, communities, and nations benefit from brokenness.
Remember the symbol for negative, that flat horizontal line…How does it become a positive? You add a vertical line in the center. What do you see? A cross is formed! Disease left Job broken. He suffered the loss of his family, financial disaster, and received unfair criticism from family and friends. The most crucial loss came in the sense of losing Gods’ presence. How did he respond? (See Job 17:1) Job’s life became broken by negatives, yet the story continues… (Job 42:1-6, 10) Job received a second chance!
Hannah felt crushed and broken, because of the loss of a fertile womb. (I Samuel 1:5-18) God transformed this seemingly hopeless situation into praise! (I Samuel 1:26-27) Imagine her joy! Her dramatic answer to her heart cries filled her mouth with thanksgiving. She could not hold it in!
(I Samuel 2: 1-10)
Naomi traced her brokenness to the loss of her husband and both of her adult sons. (Ruth 1:20-21) God would display His power over seemingly hopeless circumstances. (Ruth 4:13-16) She once could only see death and grief. Now, life and rejoicing pulsed through her veins!
The sin and guilt of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba left him broken. He tried to cover up and eventually put plans into action resulting in the murder of Bathsheba’s husband in battle. David experienced the deep loss of intimate fellowship with God. (Psalms 38:8/ 51:17) David became contrite, deeply sorry, and repented. David’s negatives became positives. (Psalms 51:13) He would be used by God to be a channel of blessing!
The Apostle Peter’s life lay broken at his feet following his sin of denying The Lord Jesus. (Luke 22:54-62) Peter thought he could never be trusted by Jesus again; how could he ever face his Lord? His total failure turned into a positive! (John 21: 15-17) His Master, the Great Shepherd gave him a special assignment, feeding the sheep!
God does not want us to stay locked into sorrow and brokenness. (Psalms 147:3/Ezekiel 34:16) Picture this if you can…Your life may be hard, no longer warmed by Gods’ word. Your life may be brittle, like a piece of pottery…needing transformation. Maybe you are living for him, but he wants to use your life as a demonstration of his power and grace…..Let Him gently break you. He will put the pieces back together! Jesus is always our model to follow. (Luke 4:18/ Isaiah 61:1-3) He has set free the downtrodden, released the broken from sorrow! Jesus offered His body as a sacrifice, becoming broken for you and me. Will we share in the power of His suffering and resurrection? (I Peter 4:13)
Wagon Train” and “Death Valley Days” were two very popular TV series during my early years. They inspired their viewers with tales of American pioneers, pushing westward to a new way of life. These heroes were driven from within to face and overcome obstacles, beyond their natural strengths. Time and time again they would show a group of travelers with their covered wagons facing an attack by Indians. The Wagon Master would shout out the command: “Circle your wagons!” Quickly they followed the instructions of the leader they trusted. They gathered in a circle knowing they were safer, and more powerful as they grouped close together.
Christians, we are under attack. Just as The Pioneers faced savage Indians, we must be on guard against the attacks of Satan and his demons. It is time to circle our wagons. The Indians would catch the pioneers off guard, when they felt safe and secure. Suddenly the sounds of the Indians war cry would fill the air. The Indians were very vocal. With their chants and cries they were announcing their attack in a very dramatic way. Satan, the Accuser, can be very loud as well. He shouts his accusations and condemnations in your ears, and mind. Does this sound familiar? “You are worthless. You are no good. God could never love YOU. God could never forgive you!” Just as the sounds of The Indians made the pioneers fearful, we are often paralyzed by fear at Satan’s shouts.
The Indians were known by their vicious attacks, often using flaming arrows. Not only were they shot at the westward travelers, but also at their covered wagons. Today Satan shoots his flaming arrows at us, (Ephesians 6:16), and at our covering. We should be covered by prayer. It is our protection on our journey to our Promised Land. How does he attack prayer? Any way he can! He tries to keep us from prayer. He distracts us during prayer. He tries to get us to use only general terms. He keeps us too busy and too tired. The pioneers did not surrender. They circled their wagons! They kept their guns loaded. They all joined in, each having their part. Even the children could pass around the ammunition to the adults. Yes, we must circle our wagons. It is urgent to work together, young and old, to be over comers. The sound of a bugler leading the charge meant victory would be possible. The Cavalry rode in to rescue the pioneers. The Indians fled as they were pushed back by the Cavalry, with swords drawn. Calvary is our victory! God’s word is the sword of the spirit. Can’t you hear the trumpet sounding? We are rescued, delivered, saved. The Lord Jesus and His Heavenly Host are pushing back Satan and his evil, wicked spirits. We can continue on our journey of faith. “Circle your wagons!”
What do you do when life get’s you down? Do you shop or eat? Will you pace the floor or go to bed? If you have a simple case of the blues, occasional depression or a serious case of chronic depression you react with surrender or attack! Don’t wave the white flag and give in. Fight back!
It is interesting to learn how many different ways we deal with discouragement, depression, and despair. The holidays are approaching and many will find it difficult to keep a positive attitude. The economy leaves great numbers with little hope for a big Christmas celebration. Each year people are forced to spend their first Christmas alone after the death of a loved one, or following divorce.
Will you hibernate in self imposed isolation? This is a common reaction; because the depressed have no desire for companionship or conversation. They just want to be left alone! They must force themselves to go out and face the world. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment (Proverbs 18:1 NKJ).” The desire is to be left alone; and they might get what they ask for! People might begin to back off and will not be there to turn to. Fight depression; open your door and heart to others!
My first real home’s construction materialized through the loving hands of my father, grandfather, and uncle. After my premature arrival into the family, we all lived with my aunt and uncle for a few months, waiting for the completion of our new cottage home.
Each pre-fabricated section of our Sears and Roebuck house firmly linked together to become the Ford residence. The four bedroom two story house, would in the future, hold parents, two older sisters, a younger sister and brother, and me, “the middle child.” I can imagine the excitement and pleasure Mom and Dad encountered the first night in their new home. They watched it going up and now excitedly moved in to settle down.
The upstairs had not yet been finalized; that could wait and be tackled a little bit at a time. Our parents were anxious to be in their own home. It is amazing to know the story behind the land firmly holding the foundation and basement of our home. It previously served as a dumping area by folks in the small neighborhood. My father visualized the potential for the half acre piece of property, bordered by a crick and pasture land. Over the years he made that dream come true, but at first it still showed signs of earlier use. Mom took snapshots of me as a baby, around one year of age, sitting on a blanket in our front yard. I can see tin cans in the black and white background scattered across the undeveloped property.
How do you transform a dumping area into a well groomed yard in a middle class community? It takes sweat, a hard working man, who does not mind getting his hands dirty, and time. Hours are invested in planting, watering, weeding and waiting to see things grow. Roots traveled down and grass, trees, and flowers sprang up! My father worked two jobs to provide for his family and still found time to keep an immaculate yard.
One focal point in landscaping done by my parents could be easily spotted approaching our driveway from either direction. The planting of two small evergreen trees at opposite ends of the entrance provided a scenic view to the front of our home. Their planting and my life began at nearly the same time. As I grew up, they reached up towards the sky. Most parents chart the growth of a child with marks on a wall; I remember those lines in a large walk-in upstairs closet, but I know my parents also measured my height and age watching those trees.
At the time of planting my parents did not realize how tall the evergreens would grow. Sadly, they became a hazard, blocking the approaching traffic on the busy highway, a destination to a popular state park. The cherished trees that bound me to my past needed to come down. It must have been a difficult decision and one Mom and Dad considered seriously before taking action.
In life we see many special hopes and dreams going up; we stand back and take great pleasure in the dream becoming a reality. Maybe we put too much trust or focus into those dreams, clinging to the temporary satisfaction they bring. Suddenly they tumble down around us, leaving us feeling empty and sad. Take a look at the whole picture, seeing life’s ups and downs from God’s point of view. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls (down) into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it (springing up) to life eternal (John 12: 24-25 NAS).” When things bring you down, look up in faith!