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The Legend of the Sand Dollar

~~ Proverbs 10:2 ~~ Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.



Free Source Photo
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The province of Newfoundland is an island in the great Atlantic ocean, located at the very east end of Canada.  It is overwhelmingly rich in history, culture, and beauty that is second to none in the whole world.  I was born and raised in this wonderful place commonly known as ‘The Rock’, where people are so friendly they would give you the shirt from their back if it would help you in the least little bit.  Our ancestry makes us a unique gene pool in this world that scientists are eager to study.  We will invite you, as a complete stranger; into our homes, give you supper and a place to sleep in a heartbeat if you need it.  The next day you will likely experience a party like none other you have ever been to with laughter and music as unique as the people.  You will get to eat a ‘Jiggs Dinner’; and finish it off with some scrumptious treats that probably involve tea, fruit cake, seafood, tea buns and a very special potion called ‘Newfie Screech’.

As children growing up, playing on the beach next to the ocean was a common practice for us.  As carefree kids there was only one rule back then... “Don’t tell Mom we were playing on top of the big rocks near the water!”  Like young people anywhere, we would often collect all sorts of riches found on the shore.  There were snail shells, pieces of drift wood in the most amazing shapes, rocks of incredibly unique shapes and colors, many variations of sea shells, dried star fish, bits and pieces of gadgets from old fishing boats, and the list goes on.

One of the things that we often collected was a shell called a ‘Sand Dollar’.  We liked them because they were sometimes rather large in size and held a shape resembling a disk.  Its size was rivalled only by that of a scallop shell.  The uses for such a treasure in a child’s world were endless!  After we took some home, one of the smaller sized shells might be attached to a string and become a necklace; another might become a place to hold trinkets, and yet another might be painted to become an ornament for a Christmas tree.  Once there was one that became an ashtray for my Dad... except Dad never did smoke cigarettes, but he loved it anyway!  Sand Dollars, we also thought were pretty, because of the unique star shape in its center.  Little did we know, at that time, the treasures hidden within the symbols that this little shell held for us.

There is an old poem that tells a little story about this appealing little sea shell.  There are several versions of this poem.  The original wording and the true author are unknown.  I hope you like it.

The Legend of the Sand Dollar
~Author Unknown ~

There's a pretty little legend
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.

If you examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman's spear.

On one side the Easter lily,
Its center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.

The Christmas poinsettia,
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our happy Christmas tide.

Now break the center open,
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.

This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me
To help us spread His Gospel
Through all eternity.

Next time you are walking along a beach collecting treasures, and you find a sand dollar; take one home and place it where you will see it as a reminder of this wonderful story.  Tell your kids about the Legend of the Sand Dollar and why it is one of the greatest treasures you will ever find on the beach.



~~ Dear God ~~  Thank You for the symbols that you give us as reminders of the great sacrifice that You gave us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Please let me see this treasure in everything I find as I walk along life’s seashore.  In Jesus name, AMEN.



Click this link to read the other known versions of ‘The Legend of the Sand Dollar



The Wishing Well

~~ Psalm 37: 4-7a ~~Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this; He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him...
  


Casey standing by a Wishing Well
Photo by Carley
I love that little ‘plop’ sound.  The one you hear when you toss a coin into the water in a wishing well.  I am sure everyone has tossed a coin into a wishing well at least once in their life.  Standing with eyes closed and coin in hand, I repeat a wish to myself in my mind.  I wish I had a job, I wish I could go back to school, I wish I had a boyfriend, I wish I had a flatter stomach, I wish I had bigger breasts, I wish I could lose that last 20 lbs, I wish I had another house, I wish I was a better photographer, I wish I was a better decorator, I wish I was a better writer, I wish others could see the me that I see in my dreams.  The list goes on and on.  Then I toss the coin, listen for the ‘plop’; and watch the little water ripples for a minute, feeling a little bit of anticipation, as if I expected the ‘Wishing Well Fairy’ to come out and grant me my hearts desires.

It sounds a little silly when you think about it.  I mean, seriously; how much can we expect to get for a quarter these days?!  Or maybe you ‘splurged’ hoping to get a big dream by tossing in a one dollar or two dollar coin, or even a few coins?!  Well, I hate to be the one to shatter the fantasy world, but the Wishing Well Fairy has retired and moved back home with the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Fairy God Mother, and Santa Claus; never to be seen.  You can dump all the coin in the whole city into that well and it will not grant you your wish.  The only thing you will have accomplished is to waste a lot of money by dumping it into a hole in the ground!

God is the only one who can grant wishes to come true.  Even then it is dependent on whether or not it is in His will, if you are an obedient Christian, and if your heart truly has pure motives.  Matthew 5:8 tells us “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”.  If you want your wishes to come true you have to do something about it.  Nothing is going to fall out of the sky and into your path.  You have to work for it; and if you don't have to work for it then you probably don't want it! God gave us common sense and free will for a purpose.  If you want those wishes to come true, you need several things.
  1. The desire to do something about it.  If your motivation is strong enough, you will have the inspiration to take steps toward making your dream a reality.  If your drive is not strong enough to force you to take action than you have to ask yourself, why not?!  Is this dream truly what your heart desires?  Is there something standing in your way; such as fear, anger, or insecurities?  
  2. A plan, with goals stated out step by step.  Seriously, write it down!  Make a plan; write a journal, order blue prints; put it on paper with the process details including major goals, minor goals, and deadlines!  If you do not have all the resources you need, such as enough financing for example, than make those problems a part of your plan.  One of the first major goals should be to be getting enough money!  What are you to do to get it?  
  3. Accountability. If you think you cannot hold yourself accountable, than you also need to develop an accountability plan.  Ask; or hire, if necessary; someone to help you stay accountable.  If you have some road blocks standing in your way such as fear or insecurities, then you have to put it in your plan to get around these as well.  Conquer them.  Seek out the help you need to get around them.  Ask God to show you how to do this.  He will insist that you step out of your comfort zone, so be prepared.  Also, brace yourself to forge through some very painful things that you most certainly do not wish to face... but sooner or later you have to, if you expect to make progress in any direction. 
  4. Your focus to be on God.  Your plan has to be one that will bring glory to God, and bring you closer to Him.  Your heart has to hold this as a vital purpose in your plans. 
  5. Faith that He will make your dreams reality; or to lead you to a much better dream.  Even when things look impossible, do not give up.  A very special friend once told me when I was about to throw in the towel “Do not Quit.  It is when things look impossible that God does His best miracles”.  My friend was right.  I have seen God do miracles in my life because I refused to let go of my faith.  I remind myself of this on a regular basis now, to help make sure I do not ever give up hope in God. 
  6. Prayer.  Above all else, you have to keep God in the loop with each and every step.  Ask Him, to give you a clear vision of the goal; about the steps to take, how to progress, and how to make your plan a reality.  Then listen for His voice, and watch for messages that He will send you.  Also, keep in mind, that His answer may be “no”.  It may take a while but He will respond one way or another.  Everything happens in His time, so be patient.  Ask Him to reveal to you, a new and better plan if this one should not be in His will.  Then ask Him to make your heart willing; and your eyes, ears and mind open to receive the messages He is sending you.  Have you ever done that before... ask God to change your desires?  It is very difficult, but I assure you that it is worth it!  Without God as your leader, your plan will not be a success.  At some point it will fail.  Even if it does become a reality, it will not turn out to be what you hoped it to be.
Wishing wells can be beautiful with a certain magical quality about them; but if you keep looking into a hole filled with water and reaching for wishes, sooner or later you are going to fall in and drown.  God is ready and waiting for you to ask Him to help.  He put your desires in your heart, and He put them there for a reason.  He has a plan to make them happen.  God not only wants you to have dreams; He wants to give them to you, and more!  Mostly, He wants to be included in those dreams.



~~ Dear God ~~ Your ways are perfect.  Your plans for my life are better than any dreams my heart can desire.  Please let all my wishes be tossed into Your Wishing Well, and not into anything that is not in Your Will for me.  Lead my every step so that my desires will be those that will show Your awesome love, grace and mercy.  In Jesus name, AMEN.


The Reflection in the Mirror

~~1 Samuel 16:7~~But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


 
Chicklet looking in Mirror. That's a pretty handsome face. Do my flight feathers look too fuzzy today, Mommy? Photo by Carley. All copyrights reserved.
"That's a pretty handsome face.
Do my flight feathers look too
fuzzy today, Mommy?"

(Chicklet, my Lovebird)

Photo by Carley
Sometimes it seems that I check the mirror a hundred times before I finally let myself walk out the door.  Even then at times I finish fixing everything in the car.  My hair has to be just right.  The bangs have to be straight and not curled too short.  On the curly-hair days, the curls have to be fluffed and puffed just right; but not too much or it looks like fuzz.  On the straight-hair days it needs to have that ‘just combed’ look, and then I want it to stay that way.  My make-up has to be flawless.  The outfit has to hang straight and look well put together.  I do not want to look too fat.  If I happen to be having a bloated-belly day than I have to cover it, yet making sure that I do appear as though I am trying to hide a bloated belly.

Many years ago a friend, who had done some modeling during her younger years, taught me a lot about dressing well; making sure that I knew such things as, what type of neckline I should  be wearing for my body type.  Plus, I had the privilege of meeting a professional make-up artist who taught me about doing my cosmetics in a skilled manner; teaching me not only the correct colors for my skin tone, but how to reshape my face with shading.  For years, I purchased only professional TV-cosmetics, and used only professional brushes and tools.  I special ordered all my supplies through my make-up artist friend.  In addition, my hair stylist was a guy who worked for modeling agencies.  He was expensive, but he was known as the best in town.  I spent a lot of money on how I looked.  Looking good is important, especially for first impressions.  A first impression can only happen once so you have to be ready!

As the years passed, things changed.  For a variety of reasons I gained a lot of weight.  During these overweight years, I very rarely looked in a mirror.  I only fussed with my make-up and clothes if I happened to be going somewhere ‘special’, which was not often.  Even then I did not put as much work or thought into it as I had in previous years.  I avoided shopping for clothes; practically, at all costs.  I refused to admit that I need to shop in the oversized department, so therefore I did not want to shop at all!  I would look in the mirror and felt that I did not recognize the reflection.  For about a decade I the face looking back at me was not mine.  It was something that felt very unsettling and I never got used to.  I thought I was ugly.  I even developed a self-harming habit that reinforced my thoughts that ‘I am ugly and I deserve to be ugly’.

Later when I started to lose weight my self-esteem started to rise again.  The lower the number on the scales and the size on my clothing went, the better I liked myself.  However, I still did not let myself look in the mirror often.  I learned later, that just because I was changing physically did not mean that my mental state was going to change with it.  Even though I had lost about 50 lbs at that point, I still was not ‘thinking thin’.  I was still thinking in the same way I did as an overweight person.  One day, as I was getting ready to go somewhere I was running around doing about 14 different things at the same time.  I was in my bedroom wearing just my underwear and I caught my reflection in the mirror.  I could not believe my eyes!  I was completely overwhelmed and I started to cry.  There was a new person looking back at me.  This woman was the one I remembered from before... before I ever gained weight when I was happy with myself.  She looked incredible... yet she is me!

As time went on, I lost even more weight, but I did not lose the ‘fat thinking’.  I still struggle with it at times.  Granted, I love the new energy levels and the attention.  I also rediscovered my love of shopping for new clothes and make-up.  As time went on I began to realize that the biggest problems in my life were still there.  My self-esteem started to plummet again, adding to the mix of problems from Bipolar Disorder.

God has been helping me with these issues by reminding me, on several occasions, that I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27).  In the book called “Who Calls Me Beautiful?” author, Regina Franklin talks about how we are deceived by the worldly views of what is ‘beautiful’.  We are bombarded with images that tell us that thin is beautiful.  Kids as young as 6 and 7 years old now are preoccupied with the shape of their bodies.  We strive for perfection that is not possible because of false ‘photo shopped’ and airbrushed photos.  The media around us and the voices within become false idols.

The bible tells us that this is not how God sees us.  To Him, we are each one of His unique children.  He knows us so well that there is no need for a ‘first impression’.  First impressions with God are a mute point.  He knew us before we were born; before we knew ourselves.  (Jeremiah 1:5).  He loves us just the way we are.  When we say mean things about ourselves it hurts Him.  Each one of us is a one-of-a-kind creation in His image... a masterpiece made by the most Holy God!  He does not want our self-esteem to be shaped by the reflection we see in the mirror.  He does not want our hearts to be filled with ugly thoughts or feelings about ourselves or anyone else.  If we see ourselves as beautiful, according to God’s definition, we become more and more like Jesus... and we do not have to spend a dime!  The scales and the size of my clothing are just numbers; that give ratings according to a worldly defined system of measurement.  Granted, we still need to make our bodies and our minds healthy, but those changes are to be worship of God, so to make our bodies the temple He meant it to be (1 Corinthians 6:19).  He has to be the number one reason in our hearts that we make changes.  Otherwise we are still worshiping the false idols.  Even the hottest and sexiest supermodel on the runway today, may not reflect beauty in God’s mirror.  When we can look in His mirror and see a reflection of Jesus, then we know that we are truly seeing beautiful



~~Dear God~~ Your definition of ‘beautiful’ is far beyond anything that we can completely comprehend.  Our worldly defined views and creations of beauty do not begin to compare.  Please remove any desire I have to follow false ‘beauty-idols’.  Help my body and mind become healthy in a way that pleases You.  Make my heart become like that of Jesus so that I will reflect His beauty to all those I encounter.  In Jesus name, AMEN.


 

Wanna go for a Tin Roof Sundae?



 
Photo by M. Cooper
I have had another blog for about 3 years now where I write about all sorts of things.  It is one that is shared with my healthy living / weight loss community.  I get very good response from it among the members there.  As a matter of fact, just recently, I was voted, by other members, to be a Motivational Member.  It is very exciting for me.  I am so very honored by this and the overwhelming support that they give me.  It is this support that inspires me to keep writing.

I so very much enjoy writing and sharing with these people.  However, it is rather limited. I wanted a place I can write about other things that are not necessarily devotional messages, yet be a more public forum.  So, I have launched another blog website.  I view it like it is bits and bites of fun and curious things that you might find in an ice cream sundae!  I hope that you will just want to dig in and see what the next spoonful will hold for you.

The new blog site is called Tin Roof Sundae.  You can also sign up to follow by email on that site, as you can here on Worship Melodies.  Pleaseeee.... leave me some comments.  The feedback is very motivational for me. 

So grab some sprinkles, your chocolate sauce and a spoon; we're about to have some fun together!


All Dogs Go to Heaven

~~ Isaiah 65:25 ~~ ...“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.



Carley with Casey, Taco, & Chicklet.
Photo by M. Cooper

Well, according to the weather man on our local news we are in the “Dog Days of Summer”.  Ever wonder why they call it that?  When the heat and humidity are high, energy and appetite are low, and you just cannot cool down or get enough water; ‘they’ want to call it “Dog Days”, like it is some sort of insult or bad thing.  I think there is something very wrong with this kind of logic!

I am a seriously big doggie fan.  I do not think it is a coincidence that ‘dog’ is God spelled backwards!  Of course, as a Christian I do not believe in coincidences any way, but that is a technicality in this point.  Every child should have a dog during their upbringing.  I think it is one of childhood’s greatest treasures.  There is something super special about the relationship between a child and a dog.  Everyone who has ever owned a dog will tell you that they are as much family as the people who live with them.  I believe there is a place in every person’s heart that God meant only to be filled with the love of a dog.   A quote by Ben Williams says it best, "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."

In a word, dogs are awesome!  Here’s why.  This is a list of things I have learned about dogs during all my years of being a pet parent... 
  •  Dogs need to be talked to... to create the bond.  Yep, just like God, if you want to create that special bond you got to talk to Him every day! ~Luke 18:1
  • Dogs are loyal without failure.  Just like God, a dog will be loyal to his dying breath!  He won’t EVER fail you! ~Deuteronomy 4:31 
  • A dog will love you no matter what, even when you’re angry with him.  Even when he is angry with you, it is very short lived and he will always run to greet you when you get home like there was never a problem in the first place.  So, again, just like God, who will love you and want to be close to you, and He’ll never leave your side no matter what! ~Psalm 89:33 
  •  Your Dog will always protect you!  Granted that is difficult for some small dogs to do just by nature of their size, but some little dogs have no clue that they are little!  They think they can take on a big dog with no problem!  I had a Pomeranian like that... he picked a fight with a German Sheppard next door once!  My dad had to go over there and rescue him.  Anyway, in the end, your doggie will try to protect you when you need it!  Again, just like God, He will do everything in His power to protect you! ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:3 
  • To make your dog completely happy all you have to do is come home!  Again, just like God, all you have to do to make Him happy is just be there, love Him, want to see Him, and believe in Him.  Anyone who’s ever owned a dog will tell you that one of the most heart-felt things in life is to open that door at the end of a long day and see that little tail wagging at its fastest! ~Deuteronomy 7:9 
  •  Dogs are truthful.  Yep, just like God, who will always let you know when you’ve messed up!  He’ll try to set you straight and show you who the master is!  ~1 Samuel 2:2  Well, in the dog’s case, who he thinks the master is! 
  •  Dogs are beautiful!  Just like God, who is absolutely beautiful! ~Psalm 27:4  Yes, even wrinkly dogs! 
  • Dogs are dependable... just like God.  He will never let you down. ~Psalm 9:10 
  •  Dogs are forgiving.  Just like God, there will never be a problem that He won’t forgive you for! ~ 1 John 1:9 
  •  Dogs are faithful.  Again, just like God who is faithful to you always as long as you are faithful to Him. ~Psalm 36:5 
  •  Your Dog is your friend.  Just like God who is your best friend.  He will listen to you when you talk.  He will let you cry and not complain about having to listen to you.  He will let you scream and yell, and He will not dump you from His life as a result.  He will listen to your laughter; and He will sit with you and not say a word, yet still have a great time doing it! ~James 2:23 
  • Dogs are good... just like God who is truly good by nature. ~Psalm 107:1 
  • Dogs are jealous.  Just like God who is a jealous God. ~ Deuteronomy 4:24 
  •  Dogs are loving... just like God who is all love.  All He wants is love and to be loved by you. ~ 1 John 4:8 
  • Dogs are reliable... just like God, who will NEVER let you down. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9 
  • Dogs are trustworthy... just like God, you can trust Him completely. ~ Proverbs 30:5
  • Dogs are wholehearted... just like God, who does everything for you with His whole heart! ~ Matthew 22:37–38
When God created the world, He created all things and creatures!  God loves all his creation and everything in it, including the animals. ~Genesis 1:24-25.  With all the beautiful things that a dogs heart demonstrates to us every day, these hot, humid days we are living in right now do not seem, to me, to be very ‘dog-like’.  Dogs are obviously very unique creatures which have a special place in God’s heart and surely have a place in God’s master plan.  Anything that significant will surely have a place in Heaven.  Isaiah 65:25 tells us how animals will get along with each other in the new Heaven and the new Earth.  To have all my canine babies with me for eternity sounds pretty heavenly to me.



~~ Dear God ~~ Thank You for all creatures that You have placed on this earth with us.  Thank You, especially, for dogs.  Wagging tails, puppy kisses, and the unconditional love that You gave to dogs help me to see You in them every day.  Please change my heart to become as loyal, loving, forgiving, and non-judgemental as that of my dogs!  In Jesus name, AMEN.



Here are some photos of the dogs that I have had the blessing of being a pet-parent to in my life. (All photos by Carley)
Casey
Molly
Shadow
Chipper
Brandy
Taco
Taco went to live with another wonderful family during a time when my health and my living situation didn't allow me to care for so many pets.
Gertie
(owned by my cousin, but lived with my family when I was a kid because my cousin lived in a place that didn't allow dogs).  Just look at those beautiful eyes!  How can you turn that away?!  LOL  Oh, by the way, just a couple of small tips if you plan on getting an Old English Sheep dog... First, don't bath her in the house.  Do it outside where it won't matter if she gives herself a shake while she's still soaking wet and covered in soap.  Second, a big dog at even 6 month old is stronger than 2 young kids.  Gertie had a great time walking me and my brother together!  LOL
Cracker Jack (Cracker for short)
Owned by my Sister-in-law, but Cracker lived with me for a long time so I could babysit her. Cracker's Mommy is a trucker and was on the road working. With a change to a new company, Cracker is now a 'trucker doggie' traveling North America with her Mommy.
Pipocas
(Pronounced 'Pee-pock-ish'... is Portuguese for Popcorn)
Owned by my (ex)boyfriends parents but little Pipocas would come and live with me for several months each year while they were in Portugal.


For the First Time Again

~~Hebrews 10:17~~ "Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.""



Gorila Forgive me Free Source internet photo No copyrights claimed
Free-source Photo
Have you ever felt like you are not good enough for God?  Well, guess what?!  You are not.  But, wait... before you click on the close button, let me tell you that there is good news!  The good news is that God does not care what kind of fiasco that you got yourself into this time.  He loves you anyway!

Non-Christians often think that Christians have to live a perfect life; that they have never gone down an ugly road in life, that they do not know ‘real suffering’, or that we think that we are ‘higher up’ than others.  Many non-Christians think that they have messed up too much for there to be any hope for them.  They do not turn to God for help because they believe that the things they have done are unforgivable.  As Christians we are very well aware of the fact that we are not perfect.  It is because of how badly we messed up our lives that we need Jesus.  Think about that for a minute... we have botched things so badly that only the creator of the universe can get us out of the mess we’re in.  That is some pretty nasty stuff!  

Christians are also aware that we will continue to be imperfect as long as we are in this world.  This is part of our sinful nature.... the nature of all people.  We just cannot help it.  No one has escaped this fate.  In God’s eyes it does not matter if you told a ‘little white lie’, if you robbed a little old lady on the street, or if you raped or killed someone.  Sin is sin!  Romans 3:23 (NIV84) tells us that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’.  

For me, sometimes, this sin comes in the form of doubting God, or forgetting a lesson that He has taught me already.  Sometimes it is a lesson that He’s taught me a hundred times before now.  When Satan starts whispering in my ear that ‘I am just a lost cause’, or ‘I have gone way to far this time’, or ‘This definitely has to be the one unforgiveable sin’; sometimes I start to believe him.  As a Christian I am aware that this is not true.  Isaiah 1:18 (ESV) tells us that “The Lord says, now, let's settle the matter.  You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow.  Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool.”  The thing about God is, that no matter how many times I start to think that I am not worthy, He will always find a way to make sure I get the message, again, that He loves me, that I am forgiven... for everything!  

I was thinking, again, recently that I had failed God beyond hope.  However, He made sure that I was present for a service at a church that I had never gone to before.  First, there were 2 people who told their stories about extreme sin (involving horrible crimes they had done and that were done to them).  They told us how they survived unbelievable circumstances.  God not only brought them through it, He forgave them for their sins and, now, leads them to tell their stories to people like me who tend to doubt so that we can see what He has done for other people.  Then, the sermon preached told me that I am important to God.  I am a ‘somebody’ in His eyes.  My sins are forgiven.... all of them, even the ones that I think are just way too bad to be forgiven.  God said “"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."  Isaiah 43:25 (NIV84)  That is right, He forgives us and then forgets about the sin completely!  It is over, done, removed, erased, gone, pardoned, forgotten... forgiven!

God finds many ways to give me these messages each and every time I need to hear them.  Sometimes it’s through a bible verse that jumps off the page at me; or through a book, devotional message or an article I am reading; or through a comment that I hear someone say, or through something I may see on TV or on the street.  God will talk to you in the ‘language’ that you understand; in ways that will be obvious to you, which may not be the same way as he talks to your friend, your child, or your spouse.  You will know it is Him when what you hear agrees with His Word.  If it is contradictory to the Bible, it is not God speaking to you.  So... you, reading this... the one that thinks ‘well, she’s not talking to me because my sin is way too bad’... I am talking to you!  God forgives you!  He loves you!  Nothing... absolutely nothing... you have done or will do can make Him stop loving you.  All you have to do is invite Jesus into your heart and ask for forgiveness, and it’s yours!  It’s a free gift; you just have to take it.

You know those moments when you hear something that you have heard a 1000 times before but, for some reason, this time it hits you in a whole new light?  It feels like you suddenly understand something you thought you have understood your whole life, but apparently you haven’t.  I love those moments, especially when I know it is a message from God.  Each time it feels like the first time I am hearing it.  It feels like incredibly exciting news... and it is!



 ~~Dear God~~ Thank you for never giving up on me no matter how often or how badly I mess up.  Thank You for Your forgiveness each ‘first time’ that You have to teach me an important lesson; and thank You for sacrificing Jesus to save me.  Please help me to hear Your voice when you are talking to me, and guide my every step so that I will walk closer to You every day.  Please give me Your strength fight the enemy when he is trying to lead me astray.  In Jesus name, AMEN. 



Here’s a song by Jason Gray called “First Time Again”.  Listen to the lyrics.  It’s awesome.


Cherokee

~~Romans 12:21~~ (NLT) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.



Aboriginal First Nations Tee Pee at Circle Square Ranch in Mountain Grove Ontario. Photo Property of Carla Cooper and / or Worship Melodies. All copyrights claimed
Photo by Carley
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.  "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.  "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.  One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."  The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"  The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I like stories like this one about the old Cherokee.  Someone sent that one to me in an email.  Such tales are good food for thought. 

It is as old as the world itself; the fight of good versus evil.  The very first people God ever created ended up in a mess with sin almost from day one.  Have you ever wondered what the world would be like now, who you would be, what your life would be like today if Eve did not eat that apple?  That is, assuming it was an apple.  The bible does not tell us what type of fruit it was; but that could be a subject for another blog.  Why couldn’t Eve decide to snack on oranges or grapes that day?  Did it really have to be an apple after God clearly said “No” to the apple tree?

No person has ever been able to avoid the battle with Satan and his demonic entourage.  (Romans 3:23)  It is in our nature to want to be sinful.  There is something that we find exciting in temptation.  We want what we cannot have, and have a desire to break the rules just because we can.  (Ephesians 2:3)  He gave us free will to choose, yet we always want to choose what is not good for us.  Even after we have learned a lesson, we still choose sin.  Why is that?

God allows us to go through these battles to teach us.  Without these conflicts we could not possibly know what good is.  If you never had a stormy day, how would you know just how great a sunny day really is?  If you gave your child everything s/he wanted the child would never learn that some things are bad.  It is the very nature of the struggle itself that gives us the opportunity to learn; and to build strength, character, courage, love, hope, humility and faith.  If you never had your heart broken, how would you know and appreciate a great love when you found it?  How would we know just how glorious God’s love is for us?  That, after all, is the point... to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus so we can get closer to God. 
 
Grapes and grapevine. Photo property of Carla Cooper and / or Worship Melodies. All copyrights claimed
Photo by Carley
So it seems that Eve did have to eat the apple that day.  Without it, she, and therefore us, would never understand just how great God’s love is for us.  It is only by being apart from Him, through sin, that we can realize how vast His love and mercy for us really is.  At some point though we have to stop choosing what is not good for us.  We have to feed the ‘good wolf’.  We have to start choosing God.  Listen to that old Cherokee and his great wisdom.




 


~~Dear God~~ Show me when I am about to choose to feed the bad wolf.  Please give me the desire to always do Your will, and do not let a single lesson that I learn from You be lost.  In Jesus name, AMEN.