Friday, 28 May 2010
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
If you read last week’s blog article, you know that my grandfather passed away. The services were held last weekend at the First Baptist Church in Louisa, Kentucky. Pastor Ric Frazier and the church did a wonderful job with the memorial service and with the dinner for the family afterward. I felt, and I am sure the rest of the family felt, loved and cared for. I know my grandfather would have been pleased.
At most funerals, you will hear the speaker say something like, “Today we celebrate the life of our loved one.” You look around and everyone is somber and/or crying. It doesn’t look like much of a celebration. My grandfather’s services, from the funeral home visitation to the memorial service to the graveside service, were different. Yes, there were some teary moments. For the most part, though, it did feel like a celebration of my grandfather’s life. My aunt summed it up when she said that she felt different this time from any other funeral she had attended. She said she couldn’t be sad because she knew without a doubt where he is.
Anyone, sinner or saint, who knew Jerry Dotson knows where he is. He has gone to be with the Heavenly Father whom he loved. He lived and shared his faith with everyone every day. What a legacy! I had to ask myself: Will I have shared Christ with others in such a way that people will be able to say that about me when I am gone?
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
My grandfather had full assurance of eternal life. So does everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. It was my grandfather’s greatest desire that his family be saved. As Pastor Ric said at the memorial service, my grandfather would be happy that he finally got all his family in church. Of course, as he also pointed out, getting someone in a church doesn’t make them a Christian any more than getting them in a garage makes them a Buick. But it is a start, because we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And we all heard the word of God that day.
So I guess what I want you to take away from all this is a question. Do you have life assurance? Have you recognized that there is the one, true, living God who loves you and wants to be a part of your life? Do you know that He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a living sacrifice for you, to wash away your sins so that you may have eternal life? Do you know that when you do, that God will send his Holy Spirit to dwell inside you and to minister to you daily?
If not, don’t put it off. You might say, well I smoke or I drink or I have this going on in my life. Well, praise God. That’s all the more reason you need Him in your life. People often get the process backward. They think they have to clean up all the bad behavior in their life before they can come to God. All God wants is your sincere, repentant heart. Once you give Him that, He’ll help you clean up your life. Quit trying to do the job on your own, because you will never succeed.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Lots of people have life insurance – but it only benefits the living people that are left behind. Do you have life assurance? Do you know where you will spend eternity?
The song that was played at the beginning of my grandfather’s service was “Blessed Assurance,” which was written in 1873 by Frances J. Crosby.
- Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
- Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
- Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Posted on 05/28/2010 11:05 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 21 May 2010
This article is dedicated in memory of my grandfather, Jerry Dotson, who passed away on May 20, 2010. We rejoice in knowing that he is with his Heavenly Father, whom he loved with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
My daughter plays the viola (like a violin, only slightly bigger and provides the middle harmonies) in her middle school string orchestra. Last week, they participated in a string orchestra competition that is held annually during the West Virginia Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon. Their teacher encouraged them to have fun and enjoy the experience, rather than worry about the competition itself. They played three pieces for the judges. These particular songs were ones they had performed at several other venues this spring, so they knew them fairly well.
After each school performs, the two judges come up on stage to talk with the students and give them constructive feedback. (I was impressed by this. It’s not something I have seen before in a judged competition – excluding reality show competitions like American Idol.) These ladies are professional musicians and you could tell they loved their craft and they loved sharing it with the kids.
When it came time for the critique, one of the judges talked to them about the joy of the music. She said something like: “These were pieces that had a lot of personality and energy to them, and I could hear some of that coming through. But I couldn’t see it when I was watching you. It’s okay to show that you are having fun. If it’s a happy song, smile.” Then she made them all smile and play a few measure of a song with that expression of happiness.
The point she was trying to get across is that the music starts on the inside. They were so focused on trying to play technically correct that they lost the joy of the music that connects them with their audience. Of course, they are young and are not experienced musicians. As they mature and become more technically proficient and confidant, they will focus less on the technical aspect and more on the emotional side of the music. Music does evoke emotions in people. A certain song will bring a smile to your face as it evokes memories of good times, or it may make you cry. Music can help heal your broken heart or set the mood for a party or special event.
Here’s another example. Back in the late 80s, they announced that a famous pop diva (I won’t mention any names) would be performing at the Charleston Civic Center. We were very excited and were lucky enough to get tickets before the show sold out. My uncle and his daughter even came in from Kentucky to attend the concert with us. We went out to dinner and eagerly anticipated the show. When we got settled in our seat and the lights went down, we started cheering. We just knew we were in for a great evening. Unfortunately, it ended up being a big disappointment – probably the worst concert I’ve ever attended. She sounded like the singer we heard on the radio and on MTV (yes, back when MTV actually showed music videos). If I were grading her performance, I would give her an “F”. She acted like she didn’t want to be there. She forgot the name of our city and acted like it didn’t matter. She showed no personality and no interest in her audience. Near the end, people started getting up and leaving. It wasn’t enough just to hear the song, because we could have listened on the radio at home. We wanted the excitement of hearing and seeing it performed by her.
If you have ever watched American Idol, you often hear this critique from the judges. A contestant performs a song and they sound good. Then you hear Simon say something like this (try to hear it with his English accent): “It was boring and predictable. You showed no personality, and quite frankly, no one is even going to remember this performance after tonight.”
Music starts on the inside. Art starts on the inside. Love starts on the inside. We either express it or suppress it. They are gifts that are meant to be shared with others. But we get hung up on what we look like or what we sound like or what people will think of us. We get so caught up in appearances that we lose the meaning behind what we are doing. When you allow it to flow freely from the inside out, it becomes as natural a movement as breathing. We do it without thinking about it.
Who do want to listen to? Do you want to hear a speaker who uses a monotone voice and merely delivers the information? How much will you remember about what he said? Wouldn’t you rather hear the speaker who speaks with passion? He’s moving around the room, waving his hands, changing the tone and volume of his voice. He doesn’t care if his tie is crooked or if spit is flying out of his mouth. He is excited about his topic. At that moment it is the most important thing in the world and he is sharing it with every fiber of his being. You are going to remember what he said and how it made you feel and think.
1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
As Christians, we share our faith with the world, either intentionally or unintentionally. You might not be out actively witnessing to people, but the way you are living your life in front of others speaks volumes. Do you act like going to church is drudgery and then act hurt or surprised when you invite people to church and they decline? “Oh I can’t believe I have to get up early to go to church in the morning.” “I don’t feel like going on Wednesday night; those services always run too long.” “You all go have fun . . . I am stuck at home today working on my Sunday school lesson.” “Those people at church are always calling me to do something. Don’t they know I have a life?” Gee, who wouldn’t want to join that church?
Or, some people get so caught up in trying to appear Christian that they forget why they are Christians. They remind me of the New Testament Pharisees, with their rules and regulations. They want to dress and act right (or righteous). They faithfully attend every service and say “Amen” in all the right places. They sit quietly in church and listen attentively . . . and they leave just the same as they came. They always have a smile on their face and give the appearance that they never have a care in the world. And in doing so, they never show the world any care. They are the clanging cymbal that Paul spoke of, because there is no love behind their actions. They act like club members instead of being members of the body of Christ.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
The love of God is inside you. You either express it or suppress it. You have gifts that are meant to be shared with others. Don’t get hung up on what you look like or what you sound like or what people will think of you. Don’t get so caught up in appearances that you lose the meaning behind what you are doing. When you allow the love of God to flow freely from the inside out, it becomes as natural a movement as breathing. You do it without thinking about it. That’s when the love of God will touch others.
Posted on 05/21/2010 8:06 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 14 May 2010
Beat the Clock
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
When I was around five or six years old, one of my favorite television shows was “Beat the Clock.” On that show, couples tried to complete silly (and usually messy) stunts within a specified time limit. Though I haven’t seen it, I would guess that the new show, “Minute to Win It” is based on the same premise. However, I doubt they use as much whipped cream and Jello as their late 60s forerunner.
Lately it seems like my life is one big game of “Beat the Clock.” I have too many balls in the air, too many irons in the fire, bit off more than I can chew – whichever old expression you want to use. Some days I feel like I am drowning in my “to do” list. The good news is that I recognize that it’s happening and that I need to do something about it. The bad news is that it sometimes feels like a train running out of control and I can’t stop it, which means that inevitably I will crash like I did this past Monday. I had so much that I wanted to get done but my body had other plans. I don’t know if it was a 24-hour virus or something I ate that made me so sick. Needless to say, the list went by the wayside as I tried to rest and feel better.
We all push ourselves to the limits on a daily basis. I see my husband doing it, too. He works hard all day and then comes home and tries to work on different projects around the house or for other people (usually trying to fix a computer). He gets in bed late and is up early. But eventually it catches up with him and there are several days in a row that he falls asleep on the couch after dinner and sleeps for about 12 hours. Both of us going non-stop leaves very little time available for each other, and that’s something that’s got to give. Relationships take time and we’ll only get out of it what we put into it.
My brother, like a lot of parents, works long hours and spends most of his off time at the ball field. He has two children who play sports and have other interests that require his and his wife’s time and involvement. He and his wife work together as a team, so that one parent isn’t carrying the whole load. As sporting seasons close, their schedule lets up and they have more time to themselves. But some people live overscheduled all year long. We’ve heard the stories about the moms in the minivans who pick their kids up from school and go straight to baseball/dance/tutoring/piano. The family eats dinner in the van on their way from one activity to another and the kids stay up late finishing homework. Fortunately, I have managed to avoid that pitfall. My daughter has things she is involved in, but they don’t take up a lot of time in the evenings. (Of course, it helps that we couldn’t afford baseball/dance/tutoring/piano even if we wanted to do it, and I don’t have a minivan. LOL.) I am thankful that we have found enriching, yet inexpensive, activities that she really enjoys.
There is an old saying that “idleness is the devil’s workshop.” In other words, people with lots of time on their hands could find themselves getting into trouble if they are not careful. I am starting to think that being overly busy is just as bad. Remember when teachers use to give us “busy work”? It really didn’t enhance our education – it just kept us busy and out of trouble until she was ready to start something new. I think we let a lot of “busy work” in our lives. It isn’t doing anything to enhance our lives, but it is stealing away time from other more important things, like our relationship with God and with our families. I think it is one of the Enemy’s tactics in a spiritual game of “keep away.” If he can keep us away from the things of God, then he wins us.
Your time is really about your priorities. If you made a list of your priorities and then looked at how much time you spend in various activities, would they line up? Among my priorities are taking care of my family (cooking, cleaning, budgeting, laundry – all those hats mom wear) and spending time with them. I am also committed to serving God, which means time has to be set aside for prayer, studying, teaching, writing, worship and fellowship. I also have to work and there are specific deadlines that have to be met. But then all these little extra things seem to come up and those little things take time. Next thing I know, I have scheduled God right out of my day. So I am going to work on getting a better balance in my life. Time is a great resource and we have to invest it wisely. I am looking to God for guidance.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
I am also adding a word to my vocabulary: No. Everyone say it with me – “No.” Don’t do everything that someone asks you to do. Like most people, I was raised to be polite and to help people and to do my part. In the process, we’ve allowed ourselves to be walked all over because we can’t say no. Now I am not going to say no to everything, because I do want to be helpful. But I am going to give each request careful consideration before I agree to accept it. And I’ll be polite about it.
Posted on 05/14/2010 4:58 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 7 May 2010
Moms Make Great Cup Holders
She came running toward me all smiles and giggles. Her little curls bounced with each awkward step and as she approached, her arms reached out. Nothing is sweeter than your child running into your arms and giving you a hug. However, this time that wasn’t what I was getting. She quickly handed me her sippy cup and, without a word, headed back to the slide and swings. “Gee, thanks,” I thought. And that’s when it hit me: moms make great cup holders.
Moms do make great cup holders. They are also great tissues, chairs and pillows. We rival the sturdiest of pack mules when it comes to hauling around our kids and their things. We wear so many hats every day – many of them at the same time. Already this morning, I have been an alarm clock, a chauffer, a gardener, a maid, an animal care provider, a carpet cleaner, a laundress, a garbage collector, a detective, a secretary, and an accountant. Before the day is over, I may be a teacher, a nurse, a cook, a waitress, a counselor and who knows what else. And that doesn’t even cover my “real” job!
For years, I have been saying I want to write a book about all the jobs that moms do and give it the above title. So far that project is in the “Roundtoit” file. Hopefully one day I will get around to it. I believe that God made mothers to be the master multitaskers that we are. In Proverbs 31, we hear about a wife of noble character. Reading about her, we see all the different hats she wears while caring for her family.
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Don’t you just hate her? She sounds so perfect and so together. That really was my first thought when I read it. But then I laughed because I realized that she wasn’t a real person, but she was the ideal woman. These verses honor all women who work and struggle and juggle all day and night to make a happy home for their families. He knows we aren’t perfect like this wife of noble character. If we were, we wouldn’t need Him. God does see all the work that you do. He knows your frustrations and fears. He is there to be your strength and support in all that you do.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day 2010. My mother has been gone for nearly 20 years, and I miss her every day. If you are blessed to have your mother still with you, I hope that you will be able to spend time with her and tell her how much you appreciate all that she has done for you. Now is the time to ‘arise and call her blessed.”
Happy Mother’s Day!
Leave me a comment and fill in the blank:
Moms make great _________________________.
Posted on 05/07/2010 6:46 AM by Susan Nelson