Friday, July 25, 2014

Re-write Your Story

Last Friday after my post I had a conversation with my friend Billy. Maybe I shouldn’t use his real name so I’ll call him Bob.

Anyway, the Rev (who isn't one, but is called that) and I were discussing the accolades of people and their rise to fame.  Well, it was mostly our non-famous status that we joked about for a bit.
The conversation began with me thanking him for the Facebook like, but I didn’t know it was him. Once I realized who it was the conversation went like this with me responding:
“I’d like your FB page, but pages can’t like sites … People want to be liked back … My hubby set mine up as a “celeb”…”
He wrote back: “I found that out when I tried to like your page from my page. Can I tell everyone I know a celebrity?  That makes two - you and Richard Petty …”
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You have to understand that my friend is a comedian, so the conversation had to meet his standards.  I played into the flattery and continued jesting.
“If you feel you must.  I guess the news will be out soon anyway. LOL  I’m rather famous … famous for getting in trouble with him (hubby).”
Miss you "Chick"
From there I paraded a list of people that have crossed my path during my life, finishing with having a short street named after me that’s about the length of a driveway.
“Beats anything I got. LOL the cashier at the grocery store once let me in the express lane when I was 3 items over the limit.  That’s about it for my exciting experiences.” Bob went on to share.
On and on we went until somehow it progressed into sharing the famous people we met and a few minutes later I finished the conversation.
“I’m piggy backing on my family (meaning the list of celebs they know). My only fame is having lunch with a bunch of teacher’s at the governor’s and throwing out the ball at the Phillies stadium.  Davy Jones was in a play at my college and he did hug me.  Hey, this one is mine, I taught former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s grandson Charlie.”
It wasn’t until later that night I thought about our exchange and it brought me back to something that happened in my beginning years of teaching.  It was something a student said to me that changed my life.
The Pudding Episode
Lunch period was over and the students were making their way back to the classrooms on the second floor of the building.  Passing by my door two ninth graders from my Civics class came in to visit. I was sitting at my desk eating one of those snack puddings. 
“Can I have some?” Shelley asked.  I handed her the container and scooping a bit she took a bite then handed it back to me.
“You can have it.” I said.  That’s when Rae chimed in, “You don’t want to eat it because she ate off it.”  She went on and on not letting the subject drop.
Even though I explained to her that I really didn’t want any more and was full, she didn’t believe me.  I don’t think Shelley cared at all, because she finished the chocolate pudding.
That conversation has been in my spirit ever since. Not because of her comment about me not eating off Shelley, but that it might be the only thing she remembered about me.  I can’t tell you how much that bothered me.  In reality, I didn’t want my legacy to become history, but instead my history to become a legacy.
I can prove my point. Take a minute and think about your teachers.  Note that these are the people who shape lives and mold individuals to be what they are meant to be.
What one thing really sticks out in your thoughts about them?  Can you even remember their names?  There are probably a few of you who can, but for the most part unless that teacher is amazing you won’t remember them.  Their legacy was short lived in your life.
I think about the thousands of kids I’ve taught and have heard through the grapevine of their raving over other teachers they thought were their mentors.  Was my name ever mentioned?
With every child I encountered I was writing my story and it was like a play list of what each student would remember about me.  I didn’t want my “fifteen minutes of fame" as a teacher in Shelley’s life to go down as “the pudding lady episode.”

The One Thing
Over the years that followed that incident it has always been in the forefront of my thoughts whenever I meet people. What will I remember about this person?  Even more daunting, what will they remember about me?
There’s a lady that was very much a part of my past, but now all I can remember learning from her is that she washes her hair brush every time she showers.  Since the time she shared that tidbit I’ve done the same thing. 
A man I’ve known all his life showed me how to remove a label off a bottle by peeling it slowly. I think of that person every time I take off a label, but I couldn’t tell you anything else he said or taught me that stuck.  How sad is that?
What is the one thing that people will remember about you?  Will it be something silly or is your story one that will live on beyond you?
Gone Fishing
The conversation with Bob prayed on my mind, so I went fishing for answers. I began asking people to tell me what they thought when they heard my name.  This time it had nothing to do with flattery or fame.
The answers returned in two ways:
they shared a characteristic or my occupation.  All the answers were nice; maybe the bait was too sweet in the process of my seeking.
The one thing I wanted to hear didn’t pass my ears. No one said anything about me being a Christian.  They were “Christ like” characteristics, but not that I was Christ’s. What story have I been invisibly writing about myself that others are visibly reading?
What’s the first thing or word that comes to your mind when I say these names?  Michael Tait … Michael Jordan … Michael Jones (OK, I don’t know one either but there are over 50 on the web.) Michael Drosnin … Michael Douglas.
All these men are in different walks of life, but I can almost guarantee the first thing that came to your thinking is their careers, not who they are really but what they do/did in life. 
It doesn’t matter how famous they are, because their gifts came from God.  What does matter is the gift they gave to God in living for His glory.  Their stories are great, but will be short lived if not written on the heart of God. 
Who Took the Bait?
When I started writing this lesson I remembered a conversation Jesus had with the apostle Peter.
It was after the disciples had been in town amongst a crowd of unbelievers when Jesus posed this question to them. He asked, “Who do they say I Am?”
A simple question, nothing too deep for thought right? Let’s read the rest of the dialog between the men.
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, (He was doing a little fishing of His own) saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, Am?” 
They got hooked when they didn’t notice Jesus paused between saying “I” and the word “Am”.  He was giving them a clue …
I can picture this. Several of the boys answered.  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus wasn't looking for those answers, so He put out more bait to get them off the hook.
“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Seems they got tangled on the line when the Lord was trying to reel in an answer. Only one swallowed the bait, but he wasn’t hurt by the Fisherman when he responded.  As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite.
“Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The Lord was pleased with the answer, because it proved something had been written on Peter’s heart identifying him with Christ.
Jesus answered and said to him (Peter), “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven.”
This is the part that changed Peter’s life story.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV)

Who Will They Say You Are?
God can give you a new story for your journey, a fantastic one, if you are open to the writing He wants to do on your heart. When we accept God’s Son Jesus, He has things He wants to accomplish through us just like He did Peter. 
Your story isn't over.  It's being re-WRITTEN.
Wouldn’t you love it if Jesus wanted to establish something as grand as a nation, using you as the catalyst like He did Peter when the church was born?
The story of our life should be the one that God has put in your heart for His plan.  He needs to be the author. 
When Peter agreed to living his life for Jesus, God made His mark on Peter’s heart that identified him as a child of the King.  How important was that decision?  Well let’s see. You won’t read about a pudding lady, a famous athlete, singer or anyone else like that in the Bible.
Peter’s story doesn’t remind us that he was “just” a disciple, but that he was the one and only person God the Father revealed Jesus as “the Christ and Son of God” to before He went to the cross. 
Jesus called Peter “blessed”.  In other words, "Peter, God favored you… because He has your heart!” 
This wasn't mercy or grace (unmerited favor), but individual favor directed toward Peter alone for his journey.  Peter got a re-write! 
Making the decision to follow Christ doesn’t mean you have lost your dreams and desires. God is the one who put them there in the first place.  When we give our life to the Lord it is no longer ours, but no worries … He has blessings and favor lined up for us.  Even though we don’t know the whole plan along our journey, we can be sure that it is good.
“For I (God) know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
The question I want to ask is, “Do you believe in Jesus enough for your story to turn out good like He promised?”  In other words, “Do you trust in God enough for Him to do what He wants to through you like He did Peter?”
This Week’s Challenge:
Writing A New Story
You won’t make any changes in your life if you don’t come to realize what your story really is.  How will we know what story we’re writing?  Go fishing for answers yourself.

Our challenge is to ask at least ten people, in different circles we know, this question: “When you hear my name what is the first thing that comes to your mind?”  Write down their answers.

If they list your qualities, occupation or characteristics instead of recognizing that you are a child of God, you know your story – it’s the wrong one. Time for a re-write.
After you have your answers ask a second question, but this one is to God. 
“Lord, what is the story you want me to tell about you?  Write your story on my heart so I can share that message with others.”
Any fame we gain here on Earth will all be lost one day. Who’s going to remember the famous “pudding lady” anyway?  Maybe Rae, Shelley or even Bob.  I want a real legacy don’t you?  We can re-write our story.

When everything else slips away, will you be able to say,

God, I let You write Your story through me.”  Give God permission to write His story on your heart and your story will live forever in His.

“You will only make this journey once.

What kind of journey will it be?”

Billy Graham

Until next time, only God’s story receives favor.

Check Messages throughout the week.

What's New this Week:

 by Billy Graham

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. A.N.A. logo by J.C.Penney, Inc.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Images: Famous  Koop  Pudding Lady  What's  Compliments  I Am  Pen/Paper
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cornbread Blessings

“Honey come here quick, you’ve got to see this.” 

Wondering what my husband was making a fuss over, I got up from the computer to go look out the kitchen window. 

There were two cardinals along with a few other birds, picking away at the seed and cornbread we put out that morning.

One of the cardinals was bright red and medium size. The other was brownish gray and only a tiny bit smaller.  Taking into account the actions of the red bird, we came to the conclusion that it was the father.
At first I couldn’t see what the big deal was … birds eating.  Then I saw something unusual, at least it was to me.

Welcome new friends this week from: 
See if your city/state/country made the Top Ten list.

New on DFBLisbon, Lisboa, Portugal; Kranj, Bihinj, Slovenia; Toledo, Castilla-LaMancha, Spain; Cranbrook BC, Canada; Mexico City, Distrito Federal & Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico; Riyadh, Ar Riyad, Saudi Arabia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Mombasa, Coast & Nairobi, Kenya; Esmeraldas, Ecuador; Broadstairs, England, United Kingdom; Maria Ellend, Niederosterreich, Austria.
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I hope I didn’t leave anyone out; thank you for sharing this Outer Journey on Daily Favor.  (DFB - Daily Favor Blog) 

You are welcome to leave comments or prayer requests below.  All are private. I would love to hear from you and how Daily Favor has worked in your life.  Contact me by leaving a message in the box at the bottom of this week’s post.

Don't miss out on this week's challenge (below).
Visit the Q & A and Weekly Top Ten List sections.
With excitement my husband said,
“Watch the red one. See what he’s doing?” 
The larger cardinal would peck at the cornbread and eat it.  Then he would do it again only this time he turned around and fed the younger bird. 
I didn’t understand why the red cardinal was feeding the other bird when he was eating alongside him.  It was like he was saying, “You’ve got to taste this; it’s great.”  He did it over and over until the smaller bird finally flew away. 
As I continued to be fascinated by my feathery diners, it was like an affirmation of what I had been thinking about all week – pride and greed.
Earlier in the week I came to a realization about my own actions and motives concerning a contest I wanted to enter.  Watching those birds share in something good was a lesson this gal needed to relearn. 
Home Economics of Baking
For the past three years I have been entering various categories in the county fair, among them was banana bread.  Each year I try to improve on the base recipe and add a little extra making it better.  One of the rules to the contest is that you cannot enter the same item if it has won a blue ribbon, so that’s why I needed a new recipe.
I searched and finally found one.  On Saturday I spent the day baking and getting my entries ready for Monday morning.  After the blueberry banana bread was done I put it to the taste test.  Not only was it awful, it was downright nasty, brown glue, gummy awful, and refused to bake all the way through even after 90 minutes. 
For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it; I wish I had… it looked like something you would use for a paperweight.  The flies had little toxin masks covering their faces while waving signs and banners that read, “Get that out of here!”  OK, not really, but it was really bad.
By now it was getting late, but hubby kindly asked if I wanted him to go to the store for more ingredients.  I declined his generous offer and started in on baking my cookies.  That’s when the Lord had a conversation with me.

Racking up the Ribbons
Trying to figure out what to do God reminded me of an episode on the Andy Griffith show, in which Aunt Bea was preparing pickles for her family. Clara happened to come by one morning with a batch of her latest pickles she was entering in the fair.  She was boasting how hers had won the blue ribbon eleven years in a row and was hoping this would be the twelfth.
When Bea explained that her pickles weren’t for competition, Clara popped her in the elbow and said, “Where’s your sporting blood, you should enter the contest.” However, when Bea mentioned that she had tried and lost to her friend ten years, her neighbor quickly corrected her saying, “Eleven.” 
From that point on all Clara did was rattle off the things Bea needed to change in her recipe, and to top it off she left a jar of her pickles on the table for Opie knowing well that there were almost a dozen jars already.  (If you haven’t seen the show, it’s the first 3 minutes in this video. The Andy Griffith Show S2 E11 "The Pickle Story"
In my spirit I heard, “Why do you want to win?  You have won a blue ribbon three years in a row for your banana bread recipes, why do you want another one?”
It was then I started thinking about why I really did want to win?  What was the big deal?  Then I had to admit, I wanted to win to keep winning just like Aunt Bea’s friend, only my situation didn’t live in TV land … it was in my heart and very real.
It wasn’t about the banana bread any longer, but racking up the blue ribbons which, by receiving them, would state mine was better than the others.
X-rays Reveal Secrets
Sometimes I don’t like the things I share with you, but part of this journey was promising that I would be truthful in how I am walking out the challenges each week.
After last week’s post I began to wonder if people thought I was being prideful over the favor we had experienced in so many things. Guilt tried to rear its ugly head when I knew that the entire teaching came from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. 
That’s when I got this vision (not a Holy vision), of God staring at my heart as if it were being x-rayed.  He could see every part that I thought was hidden. If that really happened, what would He actually see in my heart?  All the motives for doing things would no longer be a secret. To be honest, it sort of scared me.
When I first started entering the county fairs it was to try new things I hadn’t done in the past.  The challenge wasn’t based on pride, greed or selfishness, but to become active in the community so I could meet new people all while experiencing other activities.
Over the years God blessed my entries favoring me with dozens of ribbons and prize money, but my mindset wasn’t the same coming up on this event.  In preparing I kind of felt something wasn’t right, but wasn’t sure what it was.
There is nothing wrong with team sports or competition, but if our motives change and become all about pride it can lead to us turning greedy.  I didn’t want that to happen.
While the cookies were baking (a different baking division I would enter), I sat down and started to question why I was entering another banana bread recipe.  There really wasn’t a reason other than to say I won another year (that’s if it did win).  What was the big deal?
In all the other areas I make something new each year just for my own satisfaction thinking, “Hey, I was able to do that.”  There isn’t any competition, only that I like trying new things so I can stay fresh and not grow stagnant in my life.  The challenges are self-imposed.  If I was doing this in all the other categories, why wasn’t I doing it with the banana bread?
A few minutes went by and I started having this debate out loud bringing my husband into the vortex of my dilemma.   With him as my sounding board, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to enter and that it was time for someone else to share the spotlight. How humble of me … (Feel free to laugh, I did.)
Old Fashioned Organ Cleansing
It was like a rush of fresh air went through my heart cleansing and relieving all the pressure, flushing out any guilt.  God had revealed to me the path that I was about to take without realizing it. The prompting of the Holy Spirit caused my behavior change and put me back on track to God’s favor.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast  (fixed in place) spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)
I have to stop and praise God for pouring out His grace, and stopping me from making a mistake that would have removed His favor and blessings if I didn’t listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
When my heart was right with Him my thinking took a different direction so that my actions would be lined up with the Word of God.  This time I saw Jesus looking at clean x-rays that would please Him.  He didn’t find a heart that was “xenogenesis” to His (when a child’s is different from a parent as in Father God), but one that was united to the plan of God.
Sharing the Favor
This brings me back to the cardinals and how the red one was willing to give up his portion of the cornbread bounty he had found.  There was no greed in him, and he literally put the blessing of favor in the younger bird’s mouth when he gave his portion away.
Last year we entered almost 40 categories, but after examining my motives I decided to only enter 24 this year.  I honestly couldn’t justify entering in areas I had already won and wanted others to receive the same favor I had in previous years.
No, I’m not saying I’m like that bird giving my portion to another, but that I didn’t want to fall into being greedy and prideful which would take me right out of God’s grace, blessings and favor.  There is no part of me that wants anything to do with what the Lord hates, and that is pride. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV)

Each day of the week additional items can be submitted depending on which things were to be judged that day. Anyone who wishes to enter other categories such as horticultural items can do so. 

We had finished getting our flowers registered and decided to take a look at our baked goods and home economics entries.  God had honored my decision and blessed my entries in the new divisions I submitted.  Why did He choose to let my entries do well? My heart x-rays took a bath and came back clear. (You can see it here.)

Giving Away Your Blessing

There is not one person alive who hasn’t experienced falling into the trap of pride and greed at some point of their life.  No one is exempt from this category and it’s not one we usually plan on entering, but do.  When we are prideful we steal God’s glory (Isaiah 42:8), and that is something He is not willing to share.  So let’s not do that anymore.
Hubby's Corn Bread Blue Ribbon 2013
Thinking about our challenge for this week I really wasn’t sure how to go about it.  We have already worked our way through examining our hearts, but not to the extent of giving something up that would allow others to reap our favor visibly. 

Basically, we’re going to give away our “cornbread” blessing.  I’m not talking about actual cornbread like we fed the birds (I guess you could if you wanted to), but the metaphorical giving of something we would rather keep for ourselves.
This Week’s Challenge:
X-ray Your Heart for Pride and Greed
This week we’re going to give up something we’ve been doing for all the wrong reasons.  X-ray your own heart and think about all the things you are active in or volunteering for … what is the real reason you’re doing them? Is it worth sacrificing the favor of God?

Maybe you’re doing something because you think you’re the only one who can do it right, so you’ve horned in on the project keeping others on the outside.  Like God said to Elijah (paraphrased of course),

“You’re not the only one who believes in Me, and I can easily bless someone else who isn’t as puffed up as you.”  (1 Kings 19:13-18 NKJV)

Before stepping into that “winners circle” ask yourself, “Do I really need another pat on the back blue ribbon” (so to speak), or is it just my pride/greed wanting to do this?”

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23 Amplified)
In plain language this is what the Message Bibles says:
“Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.” (Proverbs 29:23 MSG)

If your reason and motivation for doing something isn’t valid then stop what you’re about to do; if it is, God will honor you x-raying your own heart and being quick to repent.
There’s plenty of cornbread out there; it’s time we share in the bounty of blessings and favor.

Until next time, will favor show up on your x-rayed heart?

Check Messages throughout the week.

What's New this Week:

by Heather Bixler

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. A.N.A. logo by J.C.Penney, Inc.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image: Red Cardinal  Cardinals  Baking Display  Aunt Bea  Heart  Psalm  Ribbon
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief.