Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rose's Tea Cup


“I haven’t been feeling well lately.” Rose sighed and sank back into her chair. Picking up a nearly empty teacup with the teabag tag hanging over the edge, she took a sip of tepid liquid.

“Would you like me to brew you a fresh cup of tea?” I asked.

“Oh, you can just pour more hot water in this cup,” Rose said, handing it to me. “Would you put in a little milk, please?”

In the kitchen, I found a hint as to why Rose might not be feeling well. Strewn across the counter were dishes crusted with partially-eaten food. The sink held badly stained teacups with sugar crystalized in the bottom. When I tried to rinse the one Rose had given me, the build-up of tea deposits looked like the rings of a cut tree. How long had it been since anyone thoroughly scrubbed Rose’s dishes?

I had recently read that the grimy tea residue left in a cup, especially if you’ve added milk, can end up being a haven for bacteria. It’s important to empty the cup and wash it thoroughly. From the looks of things, Rose hadn’t been doing that. No wonder her health was suffering.

Similarly, our spiritual health can suffer when we allow sin to build up. A “little white lie” creates the need for another and another until our word is untrustworthy. Repeatedly criticizing someone can lead to resentment and bitterness that will rear up in the heat of an argument. Neglecting to read our Bibles or pray starves us of the spiritual nourishment we need to maintain a healthy relationship with Jesus.

Like the germy inside of Rose’s tea cup, that needed washed and bleached, we need to be pardoned and cleansed from all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins to God, he will do exactly that—forgive us our sins and purify us from all our transgressions.

What can we do to help maintain spiritual health?
  • James 4:7 teaches, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.”
  •  2 Tim. 2:19 says, “Whoever says that he belongs to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.”
  • Philippians 4:8 admonishes, “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”

 While only God can save and forgive us, these verses give us steps we can take to lessen temptation and prevent the build-up of sin and its consequences in our spiritual vessels.

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Keepsakes


Bronzed baby shoes! Does anyone do that anymore? Though hard to read, my name and birthdate are painted in gold along the toes of the stiff, preserved baby shoes in the picture. Way back in 1954, I wore those shoes as I learned to walk. At the time, they were supple, white leather.

After I outgrew the shoes, my grandmother followed the custom of the time and sent them away to be preserved. Though the company that bronzed my shoes are probably no longer in operation, The Bronzery continues that tradition today.

Why have a baby’s shoes bronzed? According to familytree.com, part of the reason is because the little shoes evoke nostalgia. Looking at the shoes reminds parents of when their child was small. The bronzed shoes freeze a special moment in time, and make parents think about when their baby took his or her very first steps—an obviously memorable milestone! A pair of bronzed baby shoes instantly becomes a keepsake and family heirloom.

Any keepsake—a ring, a flag, a photograph, a seashell, a pair of bronzed shoes, etc.—can help us recall noteworthy moments we might otherwise rarely take the time to think about. Life is busy for all of us. Current responsibilities tend to crowd out everything else in our minds, so a physical reminder of an important, past event is a good thing.

God often used keepsakes to help His people remember what He had done for them—tassels on garments (Numbers 15:39-41), 12 stones from the middle of the Jordon River (Joshua 4:1-9), the rainbow (Genesis 9:1-17), the Passover Festival (Exodus 12:1-13), and the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29) are just a few examples.

For many Christians today, a cross serves as a memento of the most significant event in all of time and history. Wall hangings, carvings, jewelry, and other cross d├ęcor have been crafted to remind us of the price Jesus paid for the forgiveness of our sins.

Pictured is one of my favorite crosses, a gift from a parishioner when we moved from one pastorate to another. The same man had fashioned a huge version of this cross for the gymnasium of our church where, for generations to come, it will draw their focus to Jesus, whether while playing basketball, enjoying a meal, or participating in worship.

Just as bronzed baby shoes are the catalyst for a story of first steps, keepsakes of faith present an opportunity for us to share with others what God has done in our lives. What is one of your favorite keepsakes of your faith? What is the story behind it?

Be encouraged!
Pam


 ©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Sacred Space


Have you ever found your prayer time stale and boring? During one of these dry, spiritual times, God lead me to SacredSpace.ie, a ministry of Irish Jesuits. The writers invite us to make a 'Sacred Space' in each day, with the help of scripture and on-screen guidance.

During my holy sojourns at this website, God lovingly kneads and shapes my soul, giving me new, spiritual perspectives on what previously seemed common and mundane. He challenges and disciplines my innermost being, urging me to be honest with myself and with Him.

Dear Jesus, I come to you today longing for your presence. I desire to love you as You love me. May nothing ever separate me from You.

Cleanse me, Jesus, from the sin of discontent—discontent in my abilities, relationships, possessions—always thinking I need more, better, greater.

Forgive me for selfishly keeping Your great love and tender care to myself—for not sharing the Good News of forgiveness, freedom, deliverance, peace.

I am sorry, Father, for treating those who love me most with the least respect—not valuing their opinion, considering their feelings, or putting their needs ahead of my own.

One of our churches started a 6:00 AM prayer group using SacredSpace.ie as the catalyst each Wednesday. Despite the early hour, no one wanted to miss it. We shared our innermost thoughts, prayed for our and others needs, and encouraged each other in our walks with Jesus.

More than anything, the ministry of SacredSpace.ie has heightened my awareness of the blessings God bestows each and every day, flooding my soul with gratitude and thanksgiving.  

Thank you, God, for allowing me to feel the arms of my loved ones wrapped around me in a long, tender hug.

Praise you, Father, for enabling me to hear the chorus of birds warbling in the morning, and the wonder of discovery in the voice of a seven-year-old.

Bless you, Lord, for showing me Your hand in the tiny chickadees feasting on sunflower seeds as well as the aqua ebb and flow of powerful ocean waves.

Lord, thank you for all the culinary delights you give us—a piping hot tea with honey, a York Peppermint Patty, crispy celery with peanut butter.

How have you enlivened your prayer life? For inspiration, check out SacredSpace.ie.

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams