Things Aren't Always As They Seem by Bill Powell
I would like to tell you a story that has taught me a life lesson. I hope it will do the same for you. Every day is a new day. We never know what is going to come our way. Every day is a mystery of sorts. For me, I would have never been prepared for this particular day.
For most of my adult life I have tried to find some way to be physically active and have some sort of exercise routine other than jumping to conclusions. For the last few years I have been walking three miles when I can. Typically, I walked from my house a short distance to A1A. I would walk down A1A about a mile and a half and then back home. We have sidewalks so it is a safe and beautiful walk.
The ocean is never the same. It changes every day. The water color, the waves, and the many types of clouds are never the same. On a warm beautiful early evening it is just a delightful walk. Many may not be aware that on some full moon nights the moon rises and it looks like it is coming out of the ocean. It actually looks larger than the sunrise and is a spectacular sight. It is like a giant bright red sun is rising right out of the water, except it is the moon. As the sun begins to set and the moon rises it changes from a bright red ball to an extremely white light. As darkness falls, it lights up the sky as though it were day. It puts a moon glow on the water that is truly marvelous.
Forgive me for digressing. One beautiful evening as I went for my walk, little did I know what I was going to encounter. There I was walking along on the sidewalk bearing to the right as I walked to be courteous to anyone coming from the opposite way. I like to also keep to one side for the sake of someone coming from behind running or on a bike. As I am walking I looked ahead and saw a lady stopping to talk to a man and a woman. They were taking up the whole sidewalk. As I got closer they glanced and saw me coming and kept talking. As I reached them I was forced to go on the grass which is on a steep incline next to the sidewalk. I looked at the lady as if to say “excuse me!” She looked at me as if to say “yeah, we’re blocking the sidewalk. Go around and if you don’t like it, tough!” If looks could kill!
As I nearly stumbled while going around them because of the incline I looked back and got another look that said, “you got a problem? Tough!” “What rudeness!” I thought. How inconsiderate! It was as if she was wordlessly saying, “We’ve got squatters rights; it’s our sidewalk. We were here first. How dare you question our right to block the sidewalk!” I’m thinking Are you kidding me? Didn’t your parents teach you anything?” Were you raised by wolves? You could not even make a mild gesture to let me pass or say “excuse me?” We were not dealing with handicapped people here. They weren’t blind or incapacitated.
Now I have to admit even though I didn’t say anything, I can give a look, and I gave a look! The one lady who was in the best position to move gave me the look! “Are you kidding me?” I think. To me, that spoke volumes. Well, I went on and shook my head, continuing my walk. After that I realized it was on I saw that lady often in the neighborhood. I didn’t know where she lived but I did see her on occasion. After the initial contact I noticed that every time I was out for a walk I saw her, usually at a distance. We were not going in the same direction. Every time I did see her I looked and she looked back as if to say, “you got a problem? I remember you!” I would try not to look and to just put the whole thing behind me. I am a Christian and a child of the King. Love your neighbor as yourself. Turn the other cheek. It seems, however, each time I saw her she had that look like she owns this neighborhood. “I can walk where I want and do whatever I want,” her look said. I could see her saying to herself “oh yeah, I remember him. He is the one I made walk around me a while back.”
Since then, not because of the incident, I changed my walk routine. I live on the peninsula so I walk to John Anderson and proceed north a little over a mile. What beautiful scenery with the river to my left and the canopy of trees over the road! I then cut through a neighborhood over to A1A to walk back along the ocean. I am blessed to be able to enjoy such beauty of God’s creation.
One day I was enjoying my walk, heading south on A1A towards home. There I was minding my own business, frolicking along without a care in the world. I looked ahead about 100 yards and I saw this person coming my way. You guessed it. It was her! My mind began to race. Is she going to turn down one of the streets before she gets to me or is she going to keep coming and block me so I have to go around her in the bushes? I was thinking, “Remember you’re over this. You’re a Christian and Christians turn the other cheek.” Still I wondered “Will we get into an argument? Will she jeer at me or maybe call me a jerk? Will I say something like ‘how rude - let me know if I get in your way!’”
My heart was racing as we got closer. “If she doesn’t turn we’re going to pass,” I thought. Closer and closer until finally we were just about to reach each other. You won’t believe what happened. We made eye contact. The stares are glaring and penetrating.
Wait for it…
She said “Hi, how are you today?” in a friendly, pleasant tone. “Isn’t it a lovely evening?” I said “How are you? It’s a beautiful night for a walk.” Then she said, “Have a pleasant evening.” I said, “You too.”
Oh my! no, I am not a jerk. Boy! Wasn’t that a life lesson! Actually, what a silly story but don’t we all sometimes presume, assume, or just plain misread people and the circumstances around us? There is an old saying, “Your perception is your reality.” The thing is, your perception can be just that - your perception and not reality at all. There is also the don’t judge a book by its cover. Oftentimes it is what we miss or don’t see and hear that is necessary to have a true perception based on reality.
Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears it is his folly and shame.
A Matter of Perspective by Donna Bramlett
There is such a contrast between Psalm 72 and 73. Written by two men in different positions, but it was their perspectives that dictated their prayers.
The first is written by a king who is fully aware of his authority, power, and responsibility, and the entire Psalm reflects that perspective. He takes the position of priest in that he intercedes for the people, praying for bountiful provision for the entire nation and not just for himself. He lives his life outside himself. He asks that the Lord will make him a blessing to the people, “…like showers that water the earth,” and that he will judge righteously, looking especially to the needs of the weak and the poor. All in all, it is a selfless prayer, the kind of prayer that availeth much.
Then there’s chapter 73, which I have turned to many times for comfort, but I see in it now a man whose inconsistent devotional life has placed him in a precarious position. He is neither poor nor rich, weak nor powerful, and he really thinks he deserves a better lot in life. He sees the arrogance and pleasure of the rich man and his heart bloats with bitter envy. He is not indignant at how they treat the poor so much as he is jealous of all they have. When he finally goes “into the sanctuary of God,” his perspective changes and he sees the big picture, including the ultimate end of the wicked. He wakes from his stupor, and begins reconciling and reorienting himself with God.
So this begs the question, from which position do we view this wicked world and its prevalent injustice? Do we recognize that we are “a royal priesthood” and approach our Father for the good and prosperity of all his people? Do we intercede with confidence for the weak, and pray to be useful and righteous representatives of our Father and King? Or do we forget the responsibility of our sonship, to pray and seek for His kingdom to come, His will to be done here on earth - through us? It is all too easy to get caught in the middle, so to speak, a little too comfortable for our own good but definitely not as comfortable as we would like to be. If we really want to effect change and see a reversal in the course of this nation and its culture, it has to begin with a change in perspective. I have got to really know that I am a child of the King, and it is my responsibility to seek FIRST His kingdom, to use my talents and resources to establish it. Before us is a heavy door of opportunity set on hinges of selfless prayer. The only question is, are we going to lean into that prayer and push open the door to all our Father can and will do for those around us?
J-O-Y Not Y-O-J by Chris Johnson
Not too long ago Christina and I were sitting in the studios humming that great children’s song that says, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! Where?...” (You get the point and now you’re probably humming it too LOL.) The obvious question then is to ask whether or not we truly do have the joy of the Lord at work in our lives. Recently, I was reading a wonderful booklet by Dr. R.C Sproul that sought to answer questions about true joy and whether or not it’s possible for Christians to experience authentic joy in the Lord. In the booklet Dr. Sproul askes the question, “How do you spell joy?” and answered that question by recounting his first year as a Christian when he learned the answer to this question.
He writes, “In the first year I was a Christian, I learned a simple acrostic with respect to the word joy. It taught that the letters that make up the word joy stand for ‘Jesus,’ ‘others,’ and ‘yourself,’ and the lesson was the secret to joy is to put Jesus first, others second and yourself third.” He goes on to say, “Joy is often elusive because we put ourselves first and Jesus last. When that happens, we are trying to spell joy as y-o-j, and we need to rearrange our priorities.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I think that little lesson has profound implications. I was immediately convicted and recalled several times where I wasn’t experiencing any joy at all and can honestly say that I was practicing y-o-j and not J-O-Y! I thank the Lord for little lessons with massive messages, and this one from R.C. Sproul was just one of those lessons. I hope you are experiencing true joy today but if for some reason you’re not, take a moment to do a little self-check up and see if you’re not spelling it backwards with your actions!
What Is Love? by Christina Hutchinson
“What is love, baby don’t hurt me...” “What’s love got to do with it...” “All you need is love...”. You know those old time favorite love songs that everyone listens to, all in good fun of course! Songs such as these have been written for a number of years. They create an image of what “love” is supposed to be like or what it shouldn’t be like. As you know, true love, love that surpasses our understanding, is not defined in a song. So what is love? What does love look like? There are hundreds of Bible verses, but let’s just look at a few.
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We love because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. - 1 John 4:16
The answer is Christ! Not just because of what He’s done but it’s who He is. God is love! He loved us from before the foundations of the world! Knowing that when He came to breathe the dust of the earth, He would suffer in our place while we were dead in our sins and trespasses. He accomplished what no one else could do, sacrificing Himself for the sake of our salvation so that we may live in eternity with Him! At this present time He is with the Father interceding for us on our behalf. So what does love look like on our end? We’re not capable of a perfect love, but if we truly love the Lord, then we consider it a pleasure to obey His commands, an honor to preach His Word, and our deepest desire to seek Him in all that we do. God bless.