On My Shelf Again

img_20170205_114710445_hdrThe books that belong On My Shelf have been packed in boxes and out of sight and reach for more than a month. And my “shelf” didn’t even exist. For this writer that’s kind of like trying to type or word process my words with both hands tied behind my back.

True, I can find almost any tidbit of information I want on the Internet. But, I miss my books!

I miss touching them, flipping through the pages, “accidentally” finding nuggets of gold as I scan the pages. I miss scanning their titles as they stand at attention (or, sometimes, at ease or even sound asleep!) On My Shelf. 

However, I am making progress.

Two weeks ago my NEW shelves arrived! I admired their brown cardboard containers as they acclimated to the environment of my office.

img_20170211_141226159_hdrA few days ago my son and grandson came to set those shelves free. Halelujah! Of course, the job was not without complications. What should have taken an hour to accomplish ate up three, almost four hours of their time.

But now My Shelf stands dutifully waiting to be filled.

Over the past few evenings I’ve been ripping into boxes and liberating my books. Just a few more boxes to go.

I’m an organizer. It’s in my DNA. It was joyous and satisfying last night to not only unpack my books, but to put them in the best possible order On My Shelf.

  • My Bibles (more than a few)
  • My Bible reference books and study guides
  • My books for personal and spiritual growth
  • My books about writing
  • A very short stack of anthologies that contain stories I have written (Yay!)
  • Picture books
  • Other children’s books and YAs (I love to encourage other writers by purchasing their books.)
  • A menagerie of reference books ( I know—use the Internet.)
  • Books on leadership
  • Classic fiction books and poetry
  • Notebooks from writer’s conferences and workshops I’ve attended
  • Books and notebooks for courses I have taught at church

See what I mean? I’m enamored with pages dotted with ink.

img_20170214_210822468As I read the titles it was so much like seeing old friends that I haven’t talked to in a while. Reading each title brought back some of the great things I’ve learned from those books. I remembered how those authors inspired, and continue to inspire, me. Some of these books dramatically changed my life.

Those thoughts led me to thank God for those people I’ve never met face-to-face. But I’ve met them on the pages of their books. I’ve seen inside their souls and minds. I’ve felt our kinship, or, our incompatibility sometimes.

Someday I pray that someone will step back from his or her Shelf and see my name on a few book spines. Someday I pray that someone will have similar thoughts of me and the impact my words have had on their lives.

Impact.

Encouragement.

Influence.

In a positive and godly direction.

THANKSGIVING Part 5

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. I Corinthians 2:14-15 (HCSB)

What happens when an athletic team wins a big championship? There’s an even bigger celebration, right?

Confetti flies, Gatorade gets dumped on a coach, the athlete who scored the final points takes a ride on the shoulders of her teammates while touting a humongous trophy to everyone possible.

That shining trophy is then put on display for the world to see.

Do you know that, according to these verses (and others) WE are God’s trophies? That He circles the heavens showing us off and then puts us on public display for everyone who crosses our paths to see. We are His trophies. We are the reason for God’s victory parade.

That’s an amazing image to me. God saves us through Christ Jesus, then, He proudly puts us and every moment of our lives on display for His glory. When I consider that I have to give Him thanks for the good, the supposedly bad, and for the insignificant details of my life. I am the result of His victory in Christ Jesus.

But that’s not all I can thank God for.

The second half of these verses calls us Christians the fragrance of Christ among people who are believers in Christ and even among those who refuse to believe.

Without doubt my favorite part of our Thanksgiving Day celebrations is the aromas that fill our house.

  • the fragrance of turkey browning in butter and sage, onions and celery
  • the aroma of sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar or topped with toasted marshmallows
  • the take-me-home smell of hot apples, cinnamon and nutmeg
  • the irresistible aroma of yeast bread in the oven

Where’s the kitchen? I’m ready to start baking!

Those beautiful, fragrant reminders transport me to home and happy memories of Thanksgiving Days past.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says we are, similarly, the fragrance of Christ. Much like the smell of mashed potatoes swimming in butter and gravy transports us to Thanksgiving Day, we Christians are to remind people of, and attract people to, the beauty of Christ.

We ARE the fragrance of Christ to remind those who believe in Christ, and to attract those who do not believe in Christ.

So, I must ask myself at this Thanksgiving season, how am I “smelling” lately? Am I a delicious aroma of Christ? Or am I a rotten potato detracting from Christ?

Am I a shining trophy for the Lord, or a chunk of tarnished brass?

I get to choose.

 

Thanksgiving Part 4

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
 I Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)

For me two words stand out in this verse of Scripture. MERCY, and FOREVER.

What would I do without the LORD’s mercy? I don’t deserve it. I can’t earn it. I have no legal claim to it. All I can do is ask Him for it. Ask Him to love me, forgive me and bless me in spite of my sins, in spite of my self-centeredness, in spite of my rebellion, in spite of my frailties, in spite of myself.

His mercy is totally underserved, but He pours it out on me anyway.

…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 NKJV)

And His mercy toward me and you, toward all humankind, continues FOREVER.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, (Psalm 103:17)

With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:8)

That’s HUGE to me. That’s something to be truly grateful for.

Thanksgiving Part 3

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!   
Psalm 117:8, 15, 21, 31 (NKJV)

How many wonderful works of the LORD’s goodness can you name in 15 seconds? No pre-planning. No “warming up.” Just set the timer on your cell phone for 15 seconds and start naming the good things God gives us.

I tried it. Set my timer and started rattling off good things. I was able to mention 22 everyday things that we usually take for granted. Good things. Wonderful things. Things that God gives to all people, all of mankind, “all humanity” as the Holman Christian Study Bible says.

Moon, sun and stars, gravity, trees, mountains, earth, sea and sky came to mind immediately. Other things like family came a millisecond slower.

God gives good gifts to all humans regardless of their relationship to Him. Jesus said:

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)

Psalm 107 lists numerous gifts God gives to those who do not yet love, trust and obey Him. He redeems them, He rescues them from distress, He brings them out of darkness and gloom, God heals them, He rescues them from hell, and He lifts the needy out of their suffering with no strings attached.

God is good to all people. So, all people should give thanks to the LORD. Why? Because He is good.

Those who live in darkness do not understand the wonderful works God has in store for them after they accept Christ. But they can understand that good things come from a good God. And they can thank Him for His goodness.

That’s a start. A place for people to begin their journey toward Him, the good God for all humankind. They can start with giving thanks to the LORD for His goodness to them.

THANKSGIVING Part 2

It is good to give thanks to the LORD.  Psalm 92:1 NKJV

Have you ever thought about how exactly giving God thanks is good?

It is surely good for God because it brings Him pleasure when we turn our thoughts toward Him.

It brings Him glory when we remember that “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights;” (James 1:17).

But, how is giving thanks to God good for us?

Giving thanks in general is good for our emotional and physical health. From a medical point of view Robert Emmons (a professor at the University of California) explains HERE the numerous ways being grateful is good for us.

According to Dr. Lawrence Rossen of MindBodyGreen there are five key reasons to cultivate a lifestyle of giving thanks: gratitude reduces depression, gratitude lessens anxiety, it improves sleep, it improves our heart-health and (ta-da!) improves memory.

I don’t agree with everything on these two websites, but they help me see a big reason why God wants us to be grateful to Him. I personally am tired of being told just to be grateful. I need to know to whom I am grateful. God has His own glory in mind when requiring us to give Him thanks, but He also has our welfare in mind.

I try to express gratitude to specific people, businesses, organizations or institutions.

But also to God. He is always The Initator of every good thing that comes into my life.

And He stands in the background allowing every other thing that comes my way. He is always near.

For this I know that “It is good to give thanks to the LORD.”

 

THANKSGIVING Part 1

November is a season of thanksgiving in our country. For Christians it is our yearly opportunity to give thanks to God, and our yearly reminder to live with gratitude to God and to other people every day of the year.

For the next few weeks I am laying aside the writing books ON MY SHELF and picking up the greatest book of all—The Bible. Each Tuesday I’ll share with you some scriptural reminders to give thanks. I hope my prayerful choices bless you and direct your thoughts toward God, the greatest giver of all times.

Please join the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comments and by sharing this post on FaceBook or twitter, Buffer or Hootsuite, or wherever you can. Thank you in advance.

Today let’s remember I Thessalonians 5:18.

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

In everything?

Yes.

Does this mean we are bubbly and happy when terrible things happen to us and around us? I don’t think so.

But it does mean to me that I can, and should, thank God for every circumstance, every situation, because I know that God can and will use the best and the worst in my life for my good and for His great glory. That IS why He created us, isn’t it? For His glory.

He will stir all of the lovely and messy ingredients of my life together and pour out a beautiful cake that I can offer to Him in gratitude.

The Apostle Paul shared this and several other wonderful truths with us in Philippians chapter 4. Each sentence in this chapter is a jewel to study and pray over and incorporate into my life. Verses 11 –  13 contain not the least of these jewels.

…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. For I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

A little or a lot. That isn’t just talking about money and creature comforts. It applies to companionship, to hope, to joy, to rejection and loneliness and all sorts of emotional and spiritual issues.

I can choose to be contented and thankful in everything.