February 7 – Giving For a Living

i-am-with-the-wounded

Most people think in terms of money when the word giving is mentioned. However, true generosity involves much more than a few dollars and cents. It is a lifestyle. In history, we find examples of individuals who grasped this reality.

Recently my family came across such a lady. She lived in the 1800’s and exemplified a life of giving. During the Civil War, this little lady decided she would go on to the battlefield and dress the wounds of the fallen soldiers.

She realized that many men could possibly bleed to death in the field from injuries that could be treated, before they could ever get to a hospital. She was denied access by the general several times, but she would not give up! Although the sentiment of the day was that the battlefield was no place for a woman, the commanding officer finally surrendered!

This woman was willing to put her life on the line so that others might live. That is the spirit of generosity. So whether it’s in the form of money, time, or talent, we would all do well to develop such character in our lives. Ask the question before the Lord right now, “What can I give?” As you wait for Him to reveal His will to you, reach out and do something really simple for those right around you—your family!

Here are the five “I Will’s” from the Character First curriculum:

I WILL share what I have with others

I WILL recycle

I WILL not expect anything in return for my generosity

I WILL give of my time and talents

I WILL praise the good I see in others

By the way, this precious, persistent lady was not only known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” but after the Civil War, she went on to create the American Red Cross. Her name was Clara Barton. What a great example to follow!

Biblical Meditation: Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

 

December 3- No Fear When the Plan is Clear

 Luke 1:12-15

When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

 David sat by me at lunch at my new school. After talking awhile, he agreed to teach me how to play the piano, if I would teach him how to “break dance.” We were in junior high in the early eighties and I was new to the district so I didn’t know very many people. Soon after this arrangement was made, a kid challenged me to a “dance off” in the cafeteria. I held my own doing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” without a hitch and all of a sudden I was the man.

 Right around the same time I went to chorus one day a little earlier than normal. I witnessed the most amazing display of piano talent I had ever seen. That little white kid I had been sitting by at lunch could play! Well, you know how it is. You want what you don’t have; so he wanted to dance and I wanted to play the piano. Since dancing came natural to me, I thought it would be easy to teach David. Not so! And since playing the piano was second nature to David, he thought I would pick it up with no problem. Wrong again! When I would explain how to make a certain move and then demonstrate it, David’s eyes would just glass over. He had no clue. And I was the same when it came to piano. We would both just lock up, afraid to act for fear of failure. Why? The plan to accomplish our goals was not yet clear to either one of us. Each of us felt like we were staring at a “freak of nature.”

There is no doubt in my mind that I could have learned the basics of piano and David could have mastered some dance moves had we stayed at it and overcome our fear. This is valuable insight into how to respond to God’s “outrageous” directions for your life. Zechariah was serving in the temple of the Lord. But he got scared when an angel of the Lord showed up with an answer to a prayer that stemmed from a desire of his heart that he had long forgotten he prayed.

Our Father is funny like that; He doesn’t forget our prayers, but He doesn’t follow our time. We don’t have to be taken aback or afraid of His plan. He promises to grant wisdom and insight to all who ask (James 1:5). So if you have something strange staring you in the face today you didn’t see coming, don’t panic. You’ve got the answer right there in front of you. And when you’ve got a Daddy, you’ve got no worries. In due time, rest assured, He will make His plan as clear as day.

Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1 and James 1

 

 

November 9- He Cares

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you…   Psalms 55:22a Amplified Bible  

Not long ago, a dear friend moved on to be with the Lord. Today I find myself missing him and his way about life. He was tall in stature and walked a little stooped over (I think to make those shorter feel better about themselves). No one would ever say he was very vocal. But if you knew him any length of time, you knew he had a beautiful way of expressing himself. Like the legendary BB King, this brother would talk through his guitar. Man, could he talk!

A few years back, he realized he had a life threatening disease and his health was failing fast. But you wouldn’t know it by his smile and disposition. Every Sunday morning, he would be there in his familiar spot filling the atmosphere with sweet sounds. Then his body shut down and he found himself in the hospital fighting for his life. All involved thought this was the last time we would see big “D.” But after a few short weeks, he was back in his spot with a new song. When he was strong enough to share, he testified of how at his lowest moment in the hospital, burning up with fever, the devil told him, “You’re gonna die!” But right about that time, the Lord sent a dear old friend by to remind him, “D, don’t let the devil get you down.”

Whoever is reading these words today, as a tribute to my dear friend and brother Delmar Garrett, I say to you, don’t let the devil get you down. No matter what you are going through this very moment, God has it under control and there are brighter days just around the bend.

November 4- Plead Your Case

2 Chronicles 20:12 The Message Bible: We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.

King Jehoshaphat had a crisis. Three kingdoms had joined forces in order to take him out. But Jehoshaphat also had a case. Back when his people, Israel, made their march from Egypt to the land God promised them, God wouldn’t let them touch these enemies. The book of Joshua (Old Testament) is all about Israel miraculously conquering all types of kings and kingdoms in order to settle in the land God had promised their forefather, Abraham. And instead of trusting in his own abilities as king, Jehoshaphat threw pride to the wind and appealed to the One who was ultimately responsible for Israel being on the land in the first place.

Take a moment and read verses 5-12 of 2 Chronicles 20 and listen to this desperate, humble and broken man plead his case to God. What I love the most is how he concludes his case with, “We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.” That’s powerful!

What would happen if you and I got up every morning and before we washed our face, brushed our teeth or even got that first cup of coffee, looked toward heaven with this confession? “Lord, I don’t know what to do today, so I am looking to you.” I fully believe those words would start the ball rolling. Our eyes will be off of our ability and on God’s availability to guide us every step of the way. Follow Jehoshaphat’s lead and lay your case and crisis before the Lord. Big or small, it’s all the same to Him. I can promise you, His way of handling the matters of life are quite a bit different than ours. But in the end, you will feel closer to Him because you know it was Him that brought you through.

Lorenzo Biblical Meditation: 2 Chronicles 20:5-12

October 15- Let It Be

And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38

Have you ever made a decision you believed was right and then suffered persecution from those you loved? Let’s go a step further. Have you ever prayed to God for guidance and He directed you but your loved ones didn’t believe you? This type of situation seems to be pretty common throughout human history. Mary, the mother of Jesus, embodies an amazing attitude in this scripture. Can you imagine being engaged to the love of your life and then finding out that you have been chosen by an unseen God to carry His Child? How in the world do you explain that to the man you are to marry, let alone, to your family?

This awesome, wonderful, and mysterious blessing could have cost Mary her very life. In finding out about her pregnancy, Joseph would have had every right to bring her before the people as a public disgrace and have her stoned to death. She was fully aware of all the implications. Yet, in the uncertainty of her future, she had enough faith in Yahweh (God) to answer his messenger Gabriel, “Let it be with me just as you say.” She was surrendering her will to the plan God had for her life.

Things in this world haven’t changed all that much when it comes to God’s plan versus man’s plan. And maybe you are struggling this very day with some issues in your life that have no easy answers. This is a good time to embrace the resolve of Mary and say to God, let it be with my life as you say. What you and I need is not a guarantee of understanding, but an unwavering peace that says our lives are going according to His plan. So what if it doesn’t make sense! If we have His Word on it, and there is peace in our heart after we’ve prayed about it, let it be!

Lorenzo

December 6 – Glass Extraction

The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger. Proverbs 25:11-12

Pain tolerance is a funny thing, to some degree, and a high threshold can be a good thing. But there are areas in life that being “numb” to the natural feelings of discomfort can be detrimental to your health and wholeness.

Most of my life, I’ve carried scars of some dysfunctional events from my childhood. When I was young, I remember hurting, and I would cry. But as time progressed and I got bigger, I quit crying and grew cold.

In an effort to live a “normal” life, I chose to move beyond the trauma and those who had parts to play in it…”just forget about it.”

But no matter how hard you try to forget about a tiny sliver of broken glass lodged in your finger, time and test will cause it to surface. And you will grab ahold of something and suddenly writhe with sharp pain.

And that’s when a timely friend with a timely word can be invaluable. Not everybody in your life is there to agree and get along. God loves you and I enough to provide what we need as well as some of what we want.

I’m blessed today and healing nicely from “a sliver of the past” extraction instigated by a good friend with pin-point accuracy at just the right moment.

If you have a wound buried so deep you don’t even feel it anymore and yet you know it’s there, I pray for you. May the right person be used at just the right time to relieve your burden. Because when you hurt or aren’t healthy, there are a host of others that love you who can feel it!

November 14 – ‘Til I’m Old and Gray

Age is a crown of glory, when it is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs16:31

Before we got so smart here in the west, all educated and stuff, age meant something. It wasn’t just the grandkids who valued time with Gramps and Grammy. On the contrary, the wisdom of the aged is what kept the towns of old afloat.

I have even heard it said that in Jewish culture during Jesus’ day that it was improper for a man to speak in a gathering of men before he was 40.

It used to be a known reality…wisdom comes with wear! When you’ve been around a day or two, chances are you’ve picked up a pinch of understanding along the way.

In my estimation, our modern nursing homes are gold mines that are wasting away while the smarty pants of the day spend a fortune “trying” to figure out what Gertrude could have told them for free.

May the good Lord grant me some “gray hairs” of glorious wisdom and insight to guide me and mine through this narrow way of right living. Any fool can tell you what you want to hear. It takes a God fearin’ “hoary head” to call it straight.

Long live the senior souls!