Tag Archives: relationships

Divine Intervention and a Lesson in Logic

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A recent conversation with a friend concerning my blog post about anonymously receiving a large bouquet of balloons reminded me of a joke I had once heard from a preacher. The friend asked if I really believed the gift of balloons was the result of divine intervention as I had expressed in the post.

“Yes,” I confidently replied, then told him the joke.

There was a Christian lady who lived next door to an atheist. Whenever the atheist overheard the lady pray, he would mutter to himself that there is no God, and sometimes he would argue with her.

One day she ran out of groceries, and the atheist overheard her praying. “I’ll fix her,” he thought to himself, and he went out and bought bags of groceries, set them on her front porch, rang the doorbell and hid to see what she would do.

When she opened the door and saw the groceries, she shouted, “God did it! God did it! God did it! Thank you, Jesus!”

He jumped out and shouted, “God didn’t do it! I did! I bought those groceries and put them on your porch! See? There is no God!”

The lady started laughing and dancing and praising the Lord.

“Didn’t you hear me?” the atheist asked. “I bought those groceries!”

“I heard you,” she said. “I knew the Lord was gonna provide, but I didn’t know He was gonna make you pay for ‘em!”

Something recently said by a different preacher made me think of another joke. Well, not so much a joke as a cute analogy. The preacher had quoted the first part of James 4:8, which says, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” Unfortunately, he made a logical fallacy by stating that the contraposition must then be true— that if we draw away from God, then He will draw away from us.   So here’s the analogy:

A young man asked a girl out on a date. She accepted, and when he picked her up in his pickup truck, she sat as close to him as she could. They eventually got married, and they continued sitting close together. As the years went by, a space developed between them until one day, the wife lamented that they didn’t seem to be as close as they once were. The husband replied, “Well, honey, I ain’t the one who moved.”

The story reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, who asked for his inheritance ahead of time, moved to the city, squandered it, and sought to return home as a servant and no longer as a son. All the time he was away, the father prayed and waited for his son’s return, and when he finally did, the father threw a huge party.

The father didn’t move.

It also reminds me of Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If God draws away from us when we draw away from Him, He never would have pursued us nor sought to reveal Himself to us so that we could have a relationship with Him. Divine intervention? Yes!!

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves

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Randomly Selected? Somehow, I Don’t Think So

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Have you ever had an anonymous, random act of kindness done to you? Yesterday as I was getting some work done in and around the house, I was feeling a bit like Cinderella, and I started talking to our heavenly Father about how I was feeling. You know those times when you feel like God is far away, but in your head you know He’s always close by, because Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us? That’s how I was feeling.

To my surprise a car pulled up, and a lady came out and asked, “René?”

“Yes, I’m René,” I responded as I looked on with curiosity.

She opened the back door of her car and pulled out a HUGE bouquet of balloons. “Are those for me?” I inquired with bewilderment.

“Yes, they are.”

I was so touched, tears welled up in my eyes, and I had to keep myself from crying.

“Is there a card?”

“Yes, on one of the top balloons.”

The card read, “Rene, You have been randomly selected for a happy Saturday Bouquet! Please pay it forward.  — [name of local balloon shop]”

“Wow! Who could I pay it forward to?” I wondered, “And is this something [the local balloon shop] actually does, or did someone I know send it anonymously?”

I thought of a friend, who has been homebound and in pain, and after taking pictures and posting what happened on Facebook, I loaded the balloons into my car and took them over to her. She was so surprised and happy, not only to receive the huge bouquet of colorful balloons but also to have some company, so I was doubly blessed!

Thank you, Father, for putting it on someone’s heart to send the balloons to me and brighten my day when I was feeling a bit lonely. Thank you, too, Anonymous, not only for such a wonderful gift, but also for prompting me to pay it forward, so that someone else could be blessed as well. What a great idea!

 

 

If you liked this, you might also like… God Danced?

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The Prayer Journal – A New Road

The final installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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May stepped out from the schoolhouse into the summer sun, tipping her sun hat to shade her eyes and avoid the blinding transition from inside to out. She breathed deeply the early fall air and savored the fresh scent. Her body had finally recovered from the Spanish flu after having been imprisoned on her bed for weeks. Now being in the open outdoors, she relished the life that had come back to her body, savored the smell the warm breeze carried from the wooded hills. “It’s a beautiful day you’ve made, Lord.” May smiled and headed home.

“May I join you?”… (Read more)

 


The Prayer Journal: Weathering the Sunshine

The 19th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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May shivered. She rolled her aching body under the piles of blankets draped across her bed. She swallowed and immediately regretted it since her throat felt like sand. An involuntary cough forced its way out of her lungs causing her body to double-over on the mattress. When the coughing ceased she tried to sniff but only one side of her nose would give. She felt awful.

She had been sick for a few days now and only getting worse. A good number of people were getting sick in the town; she was surprised the Bransons had not yet caught it seeing how they were taking such good care of her. May could tell they were getting worried about her, though. Yesterday they had called for the doctor. They never called for the doctor… (Read more)


The Prayer Journal: Give and Take

The 16th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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May’s sun hat shaded her eyes from the bright summer beams as she walked home from selling bonds. The breeze was crisp and clean, filtered through the trees that lined the dirt roads. The scene felt sadly familiar; it was June 18, a year to the day that Richie had told her he was enlisting. It was the same beautiful weather, the same warm breeze, the same summer scent it had been on that day that seemed forever ago. She breathed in the warmth of the day and sighed. It was a lonely, reminiscent sigh.

She had her bag over her shoulder that she carried most places. In it she carried a few items including the journal the Branson’s had given her, as well as one of the letters she’d received from Richie. This one was the one he had written on her birthday. He told her how he’d been growing closer to God, how he had finally begun to understand what faith on the battlefield was all about. He’d told her how much he missed her, how her face was one of the only things that reminded him that there was still something beautiful in the world.

Though a little late, that letter had been the best birthday present. May missed him so much.

Tired from work, she finally arrived at the Branson’s. It was evening and she knew Mrs. Branson would be diligent in the kitchen preparing dinner for Mr. Branson who was certainly still out in the field. When May walked in the door, however, she was surprised to see them both sitting at the table… (Read more)

 


Christian Life Coach Ministry

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Meet Lyle Newell, founder and ministry leader of Christian Life Coach Ministry. I met Lyle a few weeks ago while volunteering with a local fire department’s biker’s breakfast fundraiser, a breakfast held before the annual toy run to benefit The Shriner’s Hospital. He was one of the bikers riding in the run.

He told me a cute anecdote related to biking. While gassing up his motorcycle one day, a van drove up and he heard a child say, “Mom, look! A biker!”

“Where?” thought Lyle as he looked around and realized the child was talking about him.

Since I also had the privilege of riding in the Toy Run, I was able to spend some time getting to know Lyle through the event as well as through Facebook. He is the husband of a lovely wife and father of two sons. He has a lot of energy and seems to have a genuine love for God and people.

CLC.logoChristian Life Coach Ministry provides services to individuals, couples and groups on a donation basis. It is based in northern Vermont, but provides online services as well. Services include: spiritual and personal growth, career planning and development, effective communication, motivation, stress management, time management, transition management, finances and budgeting, relationships, intimacy, family and parenting, household management, health and fitness, lifestyle, and self-care.

You can find out more info or contact Lyle through the Christian Life Coach Ministry Facebook page.

Serving others – One life, One moment, One step at a time.

 

If you liked this, you might also like Leave No One Behind, in which Lyle is pictured wearing the “Born2” t-shirt.

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Leave No One Behind

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I have had a few occasions to witness the friendship and bond between bikers, and this past weekend, I was even privileged to ride in a Toy Run with a motorcycle club for the first time.  I knew a motorcycle culture exists, but what I suspected was confirmed— not all motorcycle clubs or bikers are created equal. Although some bikers would not call themselves a Christ-follower, they put some of us, who call ourselves Christians, to shame.

On one occasion months ago, I watched a group of bikers getting ready to roll out of a restaurant parking lot after having had breakfast. As I watched, I noticed one of the bikers pull out onto the main road when the coast was clear. He positioned himself in the center of the lane so his fellow bikers could safely depart. Then he took up the rear.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” —Jesus

This weekend while riding in the Toy Run, one of the club member’s bikes developed a problem, so all of the members pulled over. ‘Sailor’, the one with whom I was riding, said, “We never leave anyone behind.” The members pulled together to assess and assist.

Duct tape fixes everything. Well… almost.

I don’t know everything there is to know about bikers and motorcycle clubs, but there is one thing I do know. In most cases, the heart is the same; it’s just a different face.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   —Proverbs 18:24 KJV

 

If you liked this, you might also like…

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I Got Your Back

 


The Prayer Journal: Aches

The latest installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining in, click here for the previous chapters.

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Monday, December 17, 1917 – Strength

The window in May’s room rattled against the howling winter wind, a bitter, icy blast that leaked between the cracks of the old boarding house. She shivered from the cold draft as the ink dried on the crisp page of her new journal given to her by the Bransons. Taking a moment before continuing, she stared out the window at the snowy spirals spinning through the air and bouncing lightly against the glass.

My bones are still cold from being outside and my muscles ache. Mr. Branson lost one of his hired hands on the farm to the draft and hasn’t been able to find a replacement. I felt it only right to help. We all have to do something to take up the roles of the men who are gone. Besides, it’s been too cold to sell liberty bonds. May stretched her sore arm and laughed to herself. I never thought I’d miss selling bonds.

She glanced at an envelope next to her lantern that held the most recent letter from Richie. Her letters to him had been regular and on time; May wanted to make sure she was there for him as much as she could be. His letters, however, were growing less frequent, and their contents left May with an impression that something was amiss… (Read more)

 


Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

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A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves


The Prayer Journal: Le Cran

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Saturday, November 3, 1917 – Conviction

Richie placed his pencil in the seam of the journal and lifted his eyes to the gray clouds that hovered over the French countryside. It had rained the past few days and looked like it was going to again. The days had been gray, that monotonous dullness of an earth that is undecided between a fall bare of leaves or a winter bare of snow. He missed home in Maine, although it probably looked similar.

Richie rotated his right shoulder, stretching the sore muscle from the long day of training. He had not had to do any trench exercises back in America; he couldn’t say he cared for them much. The French were lively trainers for the now small American Expeditionary Force, as rough as any sergeant he’d had yet. They seemed to fancy charges and bayonets, but he’d take any training he could get. After all, they had been the ones fighting this war for over three years now.

“Hey, Brickman,” a voice called. Richie looked over to see another private holding out a cup to him. “Tea?”

“Sure.” Richie took the cup and nodded a thanks. He had never drunk so much tea in his life. May had always fancied it, but Richie had not ever seen the appeal. The taste was growing on him, though.

Private Richard Brickman, 6th Marines, AEF. We’ve been here in France for a few weeks now. Days are long and they are working us hard. The French are trying to ready us up for the fight. They’re tough, but seem pretty well spent. Can’t say I blame them.

Actually writing in the journal was somewhat surreal. He had been spending the past months reading the entries May and her grandfather had made. Her grandfather was… (Read more)

 

The Prayer Journal is a fiction blog series written by my son.  If you are just joining in, click here to read the previous chapters.


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