Spreading chicken salad on a slice of bread swept me away to a time when I was four.
“Let’s have a tea party,” I’d say to mom.
Mom would bring out little sandwiches on little plates and place them on a little table. Our party was complete with little cups and a little silver tea pot.
Now, decades later I’m making sandwiches and brewing tea–mom’s lunch request. I pour the tea into mugs and arrange four triangular sandwiches on a little plate.
A tea party once more.
A wing-man is the pilot who positions his aircraft outside and behind (on the wing of) the leader of a flying formation. Left or right, a wing-man is always in sight.
Barnabas, whose name means son of exhortation, was Paul’s wing-man (Acts9:27). He interceded on his behalf and persuaded the disciples in Jerusalem to accept their former persecutor as a fellow-worker in Christ. It was Barnabas who encouraged a group of disciples in Antioch where we hear they were called Christians for the first time. He accompanied Paul on his journeys and later mentored John Mark. Yes, Barnabas was a wing-man, an encourager.
There are times in life I need a wing-man, a Barnabas. Someone who will be there to lend a listening ear or a helping hand. Someone who is trustworthy, such as a friend, counselor or a pastor who will provide healthy spiritual support. On the other hand, there are times I need to be the wing-person.
Help me to see the needs of others. Grant me the wisdom to say the right words at the right time, and the sensitivity to know when to be quiet and just be there.
Gazing toward the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral I asked myself, what are those distorted statues and waterspouts . . . why such odd sculptures on top of a beautiful building? Later as I read about these medieval rainspouts and statues, also known as gargoyles and grotesques, I discovered their purpose.
During the 12th century when Notre Dame was built, literacy wasn’t an option for most people. Consequently images became important. Some historians believe these half-beast, half-human caricatures symbolized the vices and weaknesses of man. They not only stood on cathedral rooftops to serve as decorative rainspouts, but were there to warn the onlooker of the evil around them. The more dreadful these figures appeared on the outside, the more serene and secure the observer would find the haven inside.
Today’s reminders of man’s wickedness are in a different form. The stony icons from medieval times have been replaced by a daily bombardment of media messages. News coverage about present day events echo humanity’s corrupt values. Reports of terrorism, murders, violence and abuse propel me to take a news break–a respite from the negative headlines. I search for a haven, a hiding place. Not a man-made sanctuary, but a place where I can find a few moments of solitude surrounded by God’s presence.
Inside my quiet refuge He changes me. Renews my mind. Refills my spirit. Restores my soul. Refreshes my strength.
Empowered once again to do His will–to be salt and light
The sound of ripping fabric
Years ago a man went through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and northern West Virginia greeting folks by saying, “Hello! I have good news from heaven.” His name was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed. This pioneer nursery man saved apple seeds and sold them for a penny each. He sold young sapling apple trees for three cents each. He wanted our country’s settlers to not only have a food supply for themselves, but for future generations as well.
John Chapman was quite an evangelist too. He told stories to children and preached the gospel to anyone who’d listen. The Indians referred to him as someone touched by the Great Spirit.
Our forefathers saved and stored seed year after year to sustain them. Seed had to be preserved, kept safe and when the time was right, planted in the earth. Seed was precious . . . valuable.
We too have valuable, precious seed—God’s Word within us.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalms 126:5-6
Are there any Johnny’s or Johnette’s out there? Did you do some sowing this week?
We have good news from heaven!
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Barn mice did you know you’d be among the first to hear his voice?
Bethlehem did you know out of you would come the Bread of Life?
Innkeeper did you know your stable would be the birthing room of a king?
Manger did you know you’d cradle the Prince of Peace?
Shepherds did you know while you watched your flocks you’d see The Lamb?
Wise men did you know when you followed the star you’d see The Light?
Paul, the author of the New Testament book, Philemon, encouraged Philemon to take back his run-away slave Onesimus and receive him as a brother (v. 16). Why? Because Paul had instructed Onesimus in the gospel and felt his life had changed. Paul went so far as to guarantee Philemon he would right any of Onesimus’ wrongs and pay his debts. In other words, he would to whatever it took to have Onesimus in good standing–ready to start a redeemed life.
Interestingly, the name Onesimus means profitable. Paul knew Onesimus had been unprofitable, (v.11) but saw past his past, focused on his potential and became his advocate.
Lord, Thank you for your grace that forgives and changes lives. May I follow Paul’s example and actualize the value of every soul.