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A Parachute Prayer for Groundhog’s Day

Parachute PrayerHappy Groundhog’s Day!

I feel so sorry for that rodent. Punxatawny Phil must be the world’s most famous scapegoat. According to the calendar, Winter doesn’t officially end until March 19. That’s six and half weeks from today. Yet when February rolls around, many of us start longing for Spring—especially if we happen to live in a snowy climate. We become dissatisfied with Winter and look for someone to blame. I just learned that Phil isn’t even the one who decides whether he will see his shadow or not. The outcome is predetermined by an elite group of groundhog handlers known as The Inner Circle on Gobbler’s Knob.

Poor Phil doesn’t stand a chance! . . . except that he’s probably the most pampered and prized rodent on the planet, so I can’t feel too sorry for him.

Genesis 3 shows us that since the Fall, it’s been in our nature to blame. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. God saw the truth and disciplined them all. Which was a good thing because if He’d let Adam or Eve off without consequences, they’d have stayed in Eden, eaten from the Tree of Life, and been stuck living in a fallen world for all eternity. God loved them too much for that. God loves us too much for that. His “curse” was an act of grace.

Groundhog Day ParachuteSo in honor of Groundhog’s Day, let’s practice a new Parachute Prayer. Whenever you’re reminded what day it is, pray that hurting (or hurtful) people will stop looking for someone or something to blame, even if that blame is deserved, and take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Pray they’ll learn to offer forgiveness where it’s needed, to ask for it when they should. Pray that they’ll move forward to make things that have gone wrong right (as far as they are able) and that they’ll look toward a better future while letting go of any resentment toward what’s past. This is where healing begins. Let’s pray this for them.

The groundhog doesn’t determine how long Winter will last. Neither does The Inner Circle of Gobbler’s Knob. Blaming them won’t make the snow go away, so let’s be thankful for each season’s gifts and rest assured that Spring will come someday.

Father, when people use their energy to find scapegoats to blame, they get stuck in bitterness and pain. Please help them to move forward. Help them to forgive or ask forgiveness. Help them look for ways to make things right no matter who made things wrong. Please bless their lives with peace. Amen.

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God’s Grand Gift of Life

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

My father-in-law sent me roses for Mother’s Day this year. He knows that without me, he’d have no grandkids. And that man loves those boys!Mother's Day Roses

The blooms on the roses lasted about a week. As they started to droop, I removed them from the vase, a few at a time, leaving the strongest roses for last. As I was getting ready to toss the final three roses, however, I noticed that their stems had developed new growth! Curious to see what they would do, I decided to leave them alone. By the next day, though, the new growth had expanded considerably. I wondered what would happen if we planted them in the yard.New Growth

My youngest son was home from college and my oldest and his wife were visiting at the time. They got excited about the experiment, too. (Once a homeschool family—always a homeschool family, I suppose.) I clipped the dead blooms from the stems. Seth planted them in the yard. Justin arranged shelters of landscaping pine needles to protect them from the heat. My husband used the experiment as a sermon illustration on hope.

PlantedYes. We were hoping new roses would grow. But we were skeptical. And the heat, up to 90 degrees that week, was discouraging. We’d moved the plants from a bowl of water in an air-conditioned house to dry ground under a hot sun.

And, technically, since they’d been removed from their original bush, weren’t they already dead?

A week later, two of three were gone. But one continues to grow! It’s even sprouted a new branchlet! My father-in-law may have sent me a rose bush for Mother’s Day. Thank you, Dad! This has been fun.

Now you have to understand, I do not have a talent for making things grow. My grandfather had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen, but so far, as far as I know, none of his descendants have inherited his gift. I let other people grow flowers, then I take pictures of them and console myself with the joy of preserving their beauty that way.Growing

I didn’t make my roses grow either. I received the roses as a gift. I watched them sprout. I told my son, and he planted them. I watched, watered and pruned. Someday, hopefully, I’ll have a new picture of a home-grown flower to show.

This is how our spiritual lives grow!

  • We start out dead in our sins and cut off from God.
  • We open the door to receive God’s gift of salvation through Christ.
  • Our spirits take root in the soil of God’s love and begin to grow.
  • God’s Spirit nurtures them, allowing us to help through Spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, worship, and fellowship.
  • Our lives begin to bear fruit, showing others what God can do which builds His Kingdom and glorifies His name!

If my family and I are having so much fun watching a little rose clipping grow, imagine the joy of our Savior as we grow in Him each day. His Spirit does all the work, but let’s nurture it as He directs and watch blooms develop, open, and show.

What we're hoping to find someday!

What we’re hoping to find someday!

Thank You, Lord, for bringing life from death, for salvation from sin and the opportunity to glorify and praise Your name. Keep nurturing these little plants as we stay firmly rooted in You. May our lives display Your work and bring honor to Your name. We love You, Lord! Amen.

I’m sharing today’s post with: Imparting Grace, Faith Filled Friday, Fellowship Fridays, Friendship Friday, and Essential Fridays.

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Following Jesus’ Example in Confrontation or Conflict

DSC01451e“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”1 Peter 2:21, 23

Jesus set a perfect example for us in everything He did. By studying the Gospels and letters from those who knew him when He walked on this earth, we learn how to live. First Peter 2:23 gives us a clear, yet challenging, example to follow when people give us a hard time.

I’m not talking about when people who care about us approach to lovingly offer constructive criticism. I’m talking about when people come to us in anger with no goal other than to vent their frustrations. These people are not seeking peace or understanding. They don’t care about our point of view, our feelings, or our friendship. They feel offended; they demand to be heard. They want to inflict their pain on us with their words.

Though our first impulse may be to fight back or defend ourselves, Jesus shows us a better way. If the person is being abusive, hurling insults or making threats, our best course of action is to remove ourselves from the situation as quickly as possible. Jesus didn’t have this option when He was on trial, but He used it on other occasions. If the situation warrants it, we must feel free to do so, too. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings if that person is threatening you. Protect yourself and walk away.

If the person is not abusive, we can:

1. Listen politely, patiently seeking to understand their point of view.
2. Thank them for sharing their thoughts.
3. Assure them we will consider what they’ve said . . . at home . . . privately.
4. Follow through, taking the matter to Jesus in prayer, entrusting ourselves to the One Who judges justly.

In Jesus’ case, He knew He was right. Jesus is always right. We might not always be, however. When someone confronts us, rather than rush to defend ourselves or our position, we should listen with an open mind then seek God’s opinion on the matter and His wisdom concerning how to proceed. Upon prayerful reflection, we may find we owe someone an apology or a thank you for setting us straight. It’s better to learn this early on, in God’s Presence, rather than after a lengthy, frustrating, and heated debate, the kind that leaves both parties feeling hurt.

Then again, once we’re alone with Him, God may assure us that we’ve done nothing wrong. If so, we can move forward in confidence and peace whether or not the other person ever accepts us or our point of view. Jesus didn’t retaliate or make threats. He doesn’t force His way on others either. He has presented the Truth through His life, death, resurrection, Word, and the testimony of His witnesses throughout history. He has fulfilled His mission; now we’re following in His steps to the best of our ability in everything we do.

Thank You for Your example, Lord. Help us to remember it when people give us a hard time. Teach us to respond with love, patience, dignity, and grace, entrusting ourselves to You. Amen.