I try to think of them as Darth Vader

I found Darth Vader to be reprehensible by the end of Star Wars episode 4. I absolutely hated him by the end of episode 5. But by the end of episode 6, I really felt bad for him and was thankful that he decided to turn around at the very end.

Years later, when episodes 1 – 3 came out, it was fascinating, then tragic to watch Anakin change from a promising young jedi into the bitter Darth Vader.

I am going to try to keep Darth Vader in mind when I run into people who are bitter and mean. I realize that not every tyrant changes for the better, but maybe, with a little bit of extra patience and love, the ones we run into might soften and change.

1 Corinthians 13: 8 “Love never fails.”

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My God IS like that!

I have been having a lot of fun reading again these past few years. I just finished up some books (I love Christian historical novels) by an author that I have come to really enjoy. I found the stories very entertaining and I thought they had excellent messages. But one thing irked me. Throughout both adventures the author used her characters to stress the fact that God does not punish people for bad choices – He loves and forgives.

While I definitely agree that  God is first and foremost loving and forgiving, He very clearly disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). I have experienced both His mercy and His discipline.

I understand that the author does not want us to consider all of life’s bad experiences to be a result of God disciplining us. I also appreciate the author’s reminder that God forgives and restores us. But those two things do not discount the fact that God does discipline us using tough situations sometimes.

Just like I sometimes give my children mercy, and other times they need to endure some discipline based on what I believe will be the most helpful to them in the long run, so God works to help us become the best that we can be.

Don’t take my promises!

What gets you through a boring or tough day?

I like to look forward to a yummy meal or a fun time out. Maybe a vacation, or a project with one of my kids.

But some days nothing gets me through except for clinging to promises like the one found in the Bible, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Several months ago this promise came up in conversation with a friend (I don’t remember how). His response was that it is funny how everyone claims that promise when it is not one that we can use anymore. Why? Because it is an Old Testament promise to the Jews, and since Jesus came, none of those are in effect any longer.

I had to agree that Jesus did change a lot with the New Testament, Jeremiah is definitely in the Old Testament, and I was not born a Jew, but something didn’t seem quite right with my friends’ comment. However it was made off-handedly at the start of a social function, so I had little time to ponder it. And with the buzz of the holidays, it was pushed from my mind.

Last week, I was found to be in need of that promise at the end of a particularly mundane day, and wondered, can I really claim it?

Then I remembered what the Bible says about me being grafted into all of the promises given to the Jews since I have become part of God’s family by trusting in Jesus death and resurrection. The Bible also says that Jesus came to fulfill all of the Old Testament promises, not to get rid of them. Therefore, the promise in Jeremiah that God is for me and has good things for me still stands.

Thanks, God, for not letting anyone take your promises away from us!

What’s one of your favorite promises in the Bible?

Squirrelly

Two weekends ago our family was able to spend a little time along the North Shore. For non-Minnesotans, that is the north shore of Lake Superior. When looking at a map, it really seems to be more the west shore of Lake Superior, but for some reason, unknown to me, we call it the North Shore. Can any of you Duluthians tell me why it is called the North Shore?

We visited Tettegouche State Park, getting there just before lunch. After hiking about 15 minutes we found a beautiful overlook at the start of Shovel Point. Another couple was just finishing up eating as we arrived. As they moved on, we settled into our usual picnic lunch of summer sausage, chips, baby carrots, apple wedges and juice boxes.

We had been munching about 3 minutes when my husband noticed we had a visitor. It never ceases to amaze me that the squirrels in protected wildlife areas are so much more tame than the squirrels in my own back yard. I guess it makes sense, as there are not numerous people sitting in my yard eating food everyday, leaving behind crumbs and purposely throwing out snacks. But I still find it to be an oxymoron to find tame wildlife in the wild, and wild wildlife in my suburban neighborhood.

I know that Funyuns and potato chips are not healthy food for red squirrels. They really aren’t very healthy for people, either. But he was so cute, we just couldn’t help but leave him some. When he came across a tiny piece of chip, he quickly ate it. But the apple wedge was grabbed up and whisked off down the boardwalk.

A minute or so later, he was back looking for more. This time, he found the Funyun. He took a nibble, then decided that should be whisked off, too. We were done with our lunch so took off after him, trying to see where his cache was. We saw him zip up into an evergreen, then jump back down and disappear deeper into the woods.

Upon close inspection of the evergreen,
this is what we found about five feet up!

Hopefully he remembers where he put it before someone else comes along to enjoy it! The next day, while driving home in a soft rain, I wondered about the Funyun, hoping it had been enjoyed before the rain melted it away.

This made me think of Matthew 6:19-20:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Why does God want to be my friend?

God wants to be your friend because He likes you. It makes Him happy to be your friend. Another reason that He wants to be your friend is because He wants to help you be happy. He wants to help you with your probems and he wants to give you interesting things to do that will make you feel joyful and at peace.

Do you have a pet that you like? If so, why do you like that pet? Is it because that pet makes you feel happy. Do you enjoy making your pet happy, too by taking care of it and finding fun things for it to do? Then you understand just a little bit about how God feels about you.

Or maybe you really enjoy playing computer games. Why do you like them? Is it because playing them makes you feel happy? Well, that is how God feels about being your friend.

“He will take great delight in you.” Zephaniah 3:17