Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Honey Graham Oh's Cereal

This morning I poured my bowl of cereal, poured the milk on it, and started eating.  I was taking a bite of my Honey Graham Oh's reading the cereal box when the cereal advertising caught my eye.  Putting down my spoon, I picked up the cereal box and began reading about Honey Graham Oh's.  I learned all about them!!! Amazing what you can learn from a cereal box!!  Here's what it said . . .

    Honey Graham Oh's . . . Good Things in the Middle! 
Oh, What a Cereal!

Why have an ordinary cereal when you can have
one with good things in the middle? 
Try Honey Graham Oh's!
Every bite blends the great taste of graham and
real golden honey for a delicious start to the morning. 
Honey Graham Oh's also have
9 essential
vitamins and minerals.
Enjoy every spoonful!

As I finished reading the entire box, I picked up my spoon and started to finish my "Oh's" - with the good things in the middle!  Staring at the cereal box, I began to think.  (Watch out when I begin to think!!!!!)  LOL!!  I decided to just re-word the cereal box advertisement in my mind with a little different "twist" for my own life as I started my morning. Here's what I was thinking . . .

God's Word, the Bible . . . Good Things in the Middle! Oh, what a life!

Why have an ordinary life when you can have
one with good things in the middle? . . . Try God's Word! 
Every day blends the great taste of God's love and merciful Grace for a delicious start to the morning.
God's Word also has
9 essential
vitamins and minerals . . .
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self control. 
Enjoy every spoonful of!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there
is not law." 
Galatians 5:22

The Message translation says it this way . . .

"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitiments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

Oh What a Life!
Start your morning right!

P.S. Do not skip your breakfast - it's the most important meal of the day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not "What" you say but "How" you say it!

(Please "mute" the music so you may get the full impact of this video)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.    Psalms 19:14

Hold Your Head Up High

Standing for what you believe in regardless of the odds against you, and the pressure that tears at your resistance … is Courage.

Keeping a smile on your face when inside you feel like dying, for the sake of supporting others … is Strength.

Stopping at nothing and doing what's in your heart that you know is right … is Determination.

Doing more than is expected, to make another's life a little more bearable, without uttering a single complaint … is Compassion.

Helping a friend in need, no matter the time or effort, to the best of your ability … is Loyalty.

Holding your head high and being the best you know you can be when life seems to fall apart at your feet, facing each difficulty with the confidence that time will bring you better tomorrows, and never giving up … is Confidence.

Hold your head high and make your life better every day!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Let Faith take the Lead

"It matters not how large or small
Your faith may seem to be;
What really counts is whom you trust
In life's uncertainty."

Courage will follow when faith takes the lead!

Importance of Walking

I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing!
I like long walks, especially when they are taken
by people who annoy me!

The advantage of exercising every day is so when you die, they'll say, 'Well, she looks good doesn't she.'

If you are going to try cross-country skiing . . .
start with a small country!

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years . . .
just getting over the hill!

I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound . . . Apparently you have to  go there!

Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate . . .

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moments with God

Happy moments, praise God
Difficult moments, seek God,
Quiet moments, worship God,
Painful moments, trust God,
. . . Every moment, thank God!!!

This quote remindes me of a Bible verse.  I like the way it reads in the Message version.  It is Philippians 4:11 and it says this:

"I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am!"

I will be the first one to say that the past few years have been days, weeks, and months of my life that have been anything but "happily ever after"! But I have a God that has seen me through many trials and obstacles along the way.  No, it hasn't always been easy - but God has been there to help me make it through the tough times on to some very "blessed" times of pure joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the old hymn says!  I've had my share of happy times that I do praise God for.

There have been those difficult times where I learned to seek God and lay my burden at His feet, knowing that He knew every difficulty far better than I did. And He knew where it would take me and how much I would grow through the experience it taught me as I learned, lived and matured in my faith in a loving, caring God that wants us to bring our difficulties to Him.  Just as a child brings their difficulties to us as parents - so He longs for us to bring "all" of our difficulties to Him.

I've learned to treasure the quiet times when I worship Him.  It may be in my car, at home, at church, in the back yard - anywhere I am because that is where He is! My whole being simply taking in the awesome, unmatched sense of awe and wonder as I realize who He is and what He has done for me. He is the great "I am" - that means that He is EVERYTHING that I can even imagine and then some. He's been there, done that, He is IT!  He is all there is . . . just for me and you!  Anything I can imagine - He is IT!  He knows just how I feel, what's going on in my life, in my family, and everything about me. He has the answers I long to know.  He alone is waiting for me to truly worship Him in my day to day life and know that I have seen Jesus. . . can trust Him. . . can love Him. . . can obey His call to worship Him with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength!

And what about those painful moments - can I trust Him then too?  Yes, Yes, Yes!!  It is during those painful times that I need Him the most.  The times of hurt, misunderstanding, sorrow, sickness, and just plain fearful times when I haven't known what was ahead.  These are the times I've learned to put all of my trust in His steady, unchanging hand. 

As I look back on my life's journey there have been times when I seemed to be holding on for dear life and do you know what??  He never let go of me!!!  And He will not let go of you either if you trust Him and give everything over to God's Almighty hand! The Hand of God reaches down to each one of us as we go through life's journey. It may lead us over the mountain, down into the valley, and maybe even across the plain - but He is there through it all. 

It is through each of these phases of our lives that we learn to simply thank God for every moment in our lives, knowing that these moments have brought us closer to Him.  Happy, difficult, quiet, painful moments . . . Every moment, thank God!!!

"I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am!"     (Philippians 4:11)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

6 Steps to Successful Personal Change

1.  When you change your THINKING, you change your BELIEFS.
2.  When you change your BELIEFS, you change your EXPECTATIONS.
3.  When you change your EXPECTATIONS, you change your ATTITUDE.
4.  When you change your ATTITUDE, you change your BEHAVIOR.
5.  When you change your BEHAVIOR, you change your PERFORMANCE.
6.  When you change your PERFORMANCE, you change your LIFE!
                                                                                          -John Maxwell

Bullitin Bloopers

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletin Bloopers!

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow...
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement, Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.

It is good to be able to laugh at our mistakes - it is all a part of life. Living and learning!!!  So, lighten up and enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just Like Jesus

What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you? What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule? Your boss becomes his boss, your mother becomes his mother, your pains become his pains. With one exception, nothing about your life changes. Your health doesn't change. Your circumstances don't change. Your schedule isn't altered. Your problems aren't solved. Only one change occurs.

What if, for one day, Jesus lives your life with his heart? Your heart gets the day off, and your life is led by the heart of Christ. His priorities govern your actions. His passions drive your decisions. His love directs your behavior.

What would you be like? Would people notice a change? Your family - would they see something new? Your coworkers - would they sense a difference? What about the less fortunate? Would you treat them the same? And your friends? Would they detect more joy? How about your enemies? Would they receive more mercy from Christ's heart than from yours?

And you? How would you feel? What alterations would this transplant have on your stress level? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets differently? Taxes differently? Any chance you'd need fewer aspirin or sedatives? How about your reaction to traffic delays? (Ouch, that touched a nerve.) Would you still dread what you are dreading? Better yet, would you still do what you are doing?

Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next twenty-four hours? Pause and think about your schedule. Obligations. Engagements. Outings. Appointments. With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?

Keep working on this for a moment. Adjust the lens of your imagination until you have a clear picture of Jesus leading your life, then snap the shutter and frame the image. What you see is what God wants. He wants you to "think and act like Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).

God's plan for you is nothing short of a new heart. If you were a car, God would want control of your engine. If you were a computer, God would claim the software and the hard drive. If you were an airplane, he'd take his seat in the cockpit. But you are a person, so God wants to change your heart.

Perhaps an instant makeover is a little too overwhelming,

Take time to examine the heart of Jesus and get to know Jesus' heart . . .

                                                   -Max Lucado-

There are a lot of "what-ifs" in the above words by Max Lucado!  Have you thought about these in comparision to the life you are living today?  I kind of think if Jesus were me, I would look at things entirely different than this human mind of mine does today.  I think things would be a lot different if I were looking thru His eyes, seeing beyond the surface and realizing what really is important in life. If I were feeling what He is feeling - what would that be like?  Would I be feeling rejection, pain, sorry, hurt, joy, happiness, love, contentment and peace?  What would I be doing if He did have control of my "engine"?  Would I be doing the same things I am doing today or would I have some changes to make? Something to think about, huh?!

I love this old hymn by Helen Lemmel - "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus".

Turn you eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

With Jesus in control of our "engines" in life, we can face each situation with confidence and hope as we "think and act" like Jesus!

Growing "Old" - Growing "Up"

Monday, April 4, 2011

All Things are Possible!

If you never were in trouble, How would you know that I will come to your rescue?

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying,
"Lord, save me!"

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

John 14:25-33

Have you ever felt like Peter in the above picture?  Surrounded by the wind and waves of life, sinking deeper and deeper into the waves of worry and doubt?  When something is troubling you and trying to defeat you just remember that Jesus is the great "I AM". The Miracle Maker. The "Sea-Walker"!  Just as Jesus told the disciples to "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid" - we too can learn a lesson here.  We can put away our doubts, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, and step out of our boat when He says "Come." Peter walked on the water when Jesus said "Come". . . Impossible you may say!  Yes, to us somethings do seem impossible but with God, all things are possible.  Just remember that we can do the impossible with the power of Christ in our lives.  Just recognize who Christ is, ask as Peter did - "Lord save me", reach out to Him and take hold of Jesus' outstretched hand, worship and praise His blessed name - name above all names - JESUS - SON  OF  GOD!
So when things begin crowding in around you, just remember "do not be afraid", "trust Jesus" - with God all things are possible!