January 21, 2012

Sewing was an important part of most of my life. When I was in my early teens, my cousin Betty Lou, who lived next door, helped me understand a pattern, cut out a dress and make it. I was delighted to wear my new turquoise dress for Easter that year, and that experience was the beginning of many years of sewing. Because I loved to sew, Mom paid $100 towards a $169 Singer portable sewing machine that I took to Argentina as a new bride. It didn’t take long to discover something…there were no patterns available in Argentina at that time! No Simplicity! How could I sew without a pattern? With some ingenuity and a lot of creativity, I figured out how to make my own patterns on brown paper, and made a lot our kid’s clothes during their growing-up years, and many of my own as well. There’s one thing I learned by making all those home-made patterns: it sure is a LOT easier to sew WITH a pattern than WITHOUT one!

Reading in Philippians a few days ago, the apostle Paul’s words reminded me of that discovery. He wrote: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Being a tent-maker, Paul may have appreciated the value of a pattern. In this passage he places himself and those who follow his example as our pattern! You might ask, as I did… “a pattern of what?”

Reading through all of Philippians to see what pattern he set, we find that Paul’s pattern was simply having an eternal perspective. In prayer and intercession; in the love he had for his fellow believers; the encouragement, instruction and mentoring he did; his willingness to sacrifice himself for the cause of Christ; his boldness in sharing the gospel; his attitude towards his past and vision for the future …everything he did, lived and taught was done with an eternal perspective. THAT’S the pattern he set, and here’s what I’m discovering: it’s a lot easier to follow Paul’s pattern of having an eternal perspective, than it is to try to wing-it through life without it!


January 1, 2012

If the apostle Paul would be here in person to give us advice regarding New Year’s resolutions, maybe he would sum it up in 4 words: SEEK, SET, RENEW, LET…because he knew that what we put into our minds is very powerful! He understood that we can’t change our behavior without letting the Holy Spirit change our thoughts.

Everything we do – or don’t do – starts in our mind. We get a thought and mull it over until it shapes our behavior. So what should we focus on? Let’s see what Paul says:

SEEK: “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

SET: “Set your mind on things above, not on the things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

RENEW: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

LET: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Hmmm…I think there is a pattern here. Paul is pointing out the importance of focusing on eternity, because that is what really matters. When eternity is our focus, our behavior will change.

Unfortunately as the years go by and I look back, I’m ashamed to see how many things disturbed my mind that didn’t really matter; how many times I got caught up in trivialities and how often worry invaded my peace…because I didn’t follow the apostle Paul’s advice. I wasn’t seeking those things that are above, and I didn’t set my mind on them. I didn’t renew my mind, and I didn’t let Christ’s mind be in me.

I don’t know if you made any New Year’s resolutions, but I did…to SEEK, SET, RENEW and LET!


May 28, 2010

 “We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:9, 10.

            Why are we always in such a hurry? Why is something else often more important than taking a few minutes – or hours, if need be – to cultivate a relationship? Why is our priority to get things done, instead of investing our time in relationships? Does it really matter if our “to do list” is unfinished because we chose to spend quality time with God, or with a friend or an acquaintance?

            Jesus knew the importance of dedicating time to nurturing relationships. He spent time with the multitudes, as well as with the 12 disciples. Even within that group, He had special friends that He spent more time with. In the midst of a hectic life of teaching and healing multitudes, He took Peter, James and John “up on a high mountain apart by themselves, and He was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2) This event made such an impression on them, that Peter and John both mentioned it later in their writings. (John 1:14; 2nd Peter 1:16-18) We know of the special relationship Jesus had with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and read that He allowed that bonding to take place as He spent time with them. (Mt. 26:6-10; Lk. 10:38-42; John 11) From this small group of soul friends, we see those who stood by Him at the cross, and that they were among the first to discover that He had risen. They were among the most privileged people in history – Jesus made time to be with them, and they with Him!

            As Christians, we know that the most important relationship that we need to nurture is our walk with the Lord. Getting to know Him more through His word and prayer should be our top priority, and that takes time; a conscious effort to set aside a special time with Him. Looking at it from an eternal perspective, we realize it is time well spent! When our relationship with God is a healthy, thriving one, our relationship with others will be healthier.

            How does making time for others work out in practical ways? With all the technology that we have at our disposal, being connected is easier than ever. We cultivate relationships by purposefully setting aside time to be with a person to share, to talk, to laugh, have fun, or even to cry and pray together. It can be as simple as taking a minute to send a card or an e-card to remind someone that they are loved and appreciated, or we can invest hours in organizing a reunion. The bottom line is that it is always worth the effort to make the time. Don’t rush through life!

            Looking at my own life, the unfortunate reality reveals that I am too often in a hurry to “do” what I consider to be important, according to my agenda, and don’t make enough time to “be” a relationship nurturer. When it’s all said and done, I don’t want to finish my life with the smug satisfaction that I got everything checked off of my endless “to do” lists. I want to end my years knowing that I cultivated my relationship with God daily, and that because of that, I was motivated to invest time in nurturing relationships with others. Even if I leave some things undone,…who really cares?  I want to have the assurance that someone felt God’s love through me because I wasn’t rushing through life.

            Excuse me while I turn off the computer and grab my phone…..

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