Author: StephanieBBlake

I love to help others focus on the one thing that's most important in life through my ministry, teaching and writing. As Vice President of Xtend Ministries International - www.xtendinternational.com, I travel extensively with my husband. I maintain two websites: www.onefocusministries.com and stretchmoney.wordpress.com. On the One Focus site, you can find free Bible studies, devotionals and information about my first book, "The Prayer Driven Life". My book, "Money: How to Be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today" was the inspiration for stretchmoney.wordpress.com. Money saving hints are contained throughout the book and this site was created to continue to give helpful hints on stretching money or having the proper view toward money.

“The Four Freedoms”

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a State of the Union address that thereafter became known as the Four Freedoms speech.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

These essential human rights were then illustrated by my favorite American artist Norman Rockwell (1874-1978) in 1943. Originally oil paintings, these illustrations were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post over four consecutive weeks in 1943. As a result of a subsequent touring exhibition, the accompanying sales of war bonds raised over $132 million. Freedom from Want has also become known as the “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

These freedoms mentioned by President Roosevelt and illustrated by Norman Rockwell are being challenged even within American shores. They have not been attained “in our own time and generation.” More than ever, we need to defend these freedoms.

Even so, these freedoms can be practiced in societies that try to tear them down because God is in charge. What He wants His children to do does not depend on what any government says.

Freedom of Speech

472px-%22Freedom_of_Speech%22_-_NARA_-_513536Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not (Jeremiah 20:9).

Freedom of Worship

471px-%22Freedom_of_Worship%22_-_NARA_-_513537Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! (Daniel 3:28).

Freedom from Want

lossy-page1-402px-%22Freedom_From_Want%22_-_NARA_-_513710.tifIf then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you (Luke 12:29-31).

Freedom from Fear

474px-%22Freedom_from_Fear%22_-_NARA_-_513538“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:28-32).

Mankind will forever be fighting for these freedoms on earth. Trust God. He determines how these freedoms will be exercised in the lives of His own for if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

A Vision of Purpose

But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

Artists and sculptors have a special ability to visualize their completed work.

The story is told of the great American artist James Whisler that he once went to the boat docks expecting a shipment of canvas for his paintings, but they weren’t there. That upset him, and someone asked him, “Were the canvases of any great value?” He replied, “Not yet!”

800px-Mt_RushmoreGutzon Borglum was able to visualize the presidential figureheads on Mt. Rushmore even before the project was begun. Even though Borglum was a great sculptor, his workers encountered problems while carving the Jefferson head. They originally started carving Jefferson’s head to the right of Washington’s but discovered that stone was not strong enough to support the sculpture. A new site for Jefferson’s head was found after removing a lot of stone to Washington’s left. The old Jefferson head was blasted away.

Every stroke of the brush and every strike of the chisel has a purpose – a purpose only the artist or sculptor can visualize.

God sees you like that. He sees your potential. If you give your life completely to God, you’ll be astonished at what He will do with it.

God cannot only visualize the possibilities contained within our lives, but unlike human artists and sculptors, He even created the very material He is working with. From the dust of the ground and from the ribcage of a man, He made man and woman. Perfect in our creation, but then marred by our own sin, in order to complete the work He had begun it was necessary for our old sinful self to die (somewhat like the blasting away of the original Jefferson head), so that His perfect work could be completed in us.

1024px-Dolceacqua43_-_Artista_locale_mentre_dipinge_un_acquarelloThere is value in a canvas to the artist because of what he is planning on doing with it. There is value in our lives because of what God can and will do with us. Unlike a blank canvas or hunk of clay, however, God wants our participation in His work. We are not simply a canvas to be used, but a life designed to bring Him glory.

He is the potter and has the vision for whatever His purpose is for us. Although we cannot visualize all He has planned, He can. Our part is to let Him work.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Inspirational Word Gifts from Mrs. Stanford

The breathtakingly beautiful Stanford Memorial Church in CA contains twenty-eight inspirational sayings from the founder of the university, Mrs. Jane Stanford. Collected over the years from many sources, Mrs. Stanford had these enclosed in intricately carved stone frames and placed on the walls and various other locations throughout the church.

These words of wisdom represent her religious faith and convictions. She desired to share them with all who would enter this beautiful church. They are definitely worth pondering. The original authors of these inscriptions are unknown although some have speculated that some originated with Mrs. Stanford herself.

Here are a few of these inspirational inscriptions. A reflection on the inscription is contained below.

On the North Wall

There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of man’s horizon of spiritual things. No worse evil could befall him in his course on earth than to lose sight of Heaven. And it is not civilization that can prevent this; it is not civilization that can compensate for it. No widening of science, no possession of abstract truth, can indemnify for an enfeebled hold on the highest and central truths of humanity. ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ [Mark 8:37, Matthew 16:26).

“A noble ambition is among the most helpful influences of student life, and the higher this ambition is, the better. No man can work well unless he can speak as the Great Master did of the joy set before Him.”

Reflection:

The author obviously had Hebrews 12:2 in mind, Jesus…for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus had a goal. He endured the cross knowing that joy – the saving of our souls – would be the result. On His way to the cross, He told His disciples that His pain and suffering would be so that “My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, those who were faithful stewards were told to enter into the joy of your master.

There was no higher ambition than our Lord’s. He invites us to share in His work and His joy.

On the Wall of the East Clerestory

“The world is new to every soul when Christ has entered into it.”

Reflection: How true it is that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). This may be the truest test of a Christian. We shed our sin and keep shedding it daily as God reveals it to us. We get a new start. We strive to be conformed to the image of Christ. We see the world with new eyes.

“The highest service may be prepared for and done in the humblest surroundings. In silence, in waiting, in obscure, unnoticed offices, in years of uneventful unrecorded duties, the Son of God grew and waxed strong.”

Reflection: God sees. God knows. God cares. There is nothing done for Him that He does not notice.

On the Walls of the East Transept

 “God knows what His Children want before they ask, but it proves their faith in Him to pray for what they want.”

Reflection: God is sovereign, can do and does do His will. What a blessing that He wants to use us to participate in it.

“A man may have great intelligence and yet have nothing of the Christ life within him.”

Reflection: We will not be judged by our worldly knowledge, but our relationship with Christ.

Before he became a Christian, the apostle Paul was highly regarded by others and himself. He had much confidence in His standing: circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

He didn’t lose his intelligence when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He just redirected it to the cause of Christ. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…(Philippians 3:5-10).

Before His conversion, He was a man of great intelligence and had nothing of Christ in him. After His conversion, His greatest desire was to know Him. One of his favorite expressions was “in Christ.”

“Therefore, I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God” (Romans 15:17).

Below the Pulpit and the Lectern

“It is by suffering that God has most nearly approached to man; it is by suffering that man draws most nearly to God.”

Reflection: Any suffering born subject to the will of God and trusting in His mercy, goodness and love helps us identify with His precious Son. Like Jesus, for the joy that is set before us, it is worth it.

© Stephanie B. Blake

November 2015

Download Inspirational Word Gifts from Mrs. Stanford

Lessons for Today from a Great Lady of Yesterday

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6 NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10 NKJV)

On the beautiful Stanford University Campus in Stanford, California, the Stanford Memorial Church has been called “the stunning centerpiece of Stanford’s main quad.” And that it is.

It is not only the centerpiece of the campus. It was the central love of the founder of the university. In 1917, in a conversation with Dr. John C. Brannar, then President Emeritus of the university, Mrs. Jane Stanford said, “But, Mr. Brannar, while my whole heart is in this university, my soul is in that church.”

In a time when religious education and belief in God were thought to be commonplace, it was surprising to discover that Mrs. Stanford’s greatest concern about her university was that

“institutions and educators were spending relatively too little time on moral and spiritual instruction….

Students are required to take certain studies; those who are to be engineers must take mathematics; those who are to be chemists must take chemistry, and the geologists must take mineralogy, and so on; but not a single department requires a student to be clean in his life or to study subjects that will help strengthen his moral character, or help him to have or to cultivate a proper attitude toward himself and toward mankind. You try to fit men to do their professional work, but you lose sight of the very important fact that neither you nor anyone else wants to employ a man who lacks sound moral principles, no matter how much he may know about some particular subject. …

For no amount of learning can take the place of decency, and no amount of science can take the place of backbone. And as the moral and spiritual life is more important than the life of our bodies, so moral and spiritual instruction is more important to young people than instruction of any other kind. That is why I think the church should be the heart and center of this university.”

She had expressed to Dr. Brannar great disappointment in the moral failures of some students and a few professors – even though the attempt had been made prior to their coming to the university to make sure they were all of high moral character.

Dr. Brannar concluded his comments on their visit by saying,

“To Mrs. Stanford the church stood for highmindedness, uprightness, unselfishness and for what are generally known as the Christian virtues, and it was as the teacher of these virtues that she wanted to pass it and its influences on to the members of this community, living and yet to come.”

Today, the sentiments and concerns expressed by Mrs. Stanford are truer than ever before. If the founder of this great university gave such great relevance to the moral character of those who made up the student body and faculty and was aware of the lack of practice of Christian principles in such, how disappointed would she be today in the degradation of the moral character of the nation in which that university resides?

For now, nearly one hundred years after her comments, not only is moral character in America declining, but the very presence of church and Christians are often shunned, banned or ridiculed.

Mrs. Stanford said,

“The church is the only institution today that makes or has made or pretends to make a stand against immorality in all its forms. Education does not… In fact, I do not believe in a university education for all men for that very reason. A man with an education and without morals is liable to become – indeed, he is almost sure to become – simply an abler, shrewder criminal whose ability to prey upon society has been increased by education. Like any other force education needs intelligent guidance if it is to serve any good purpose. And where shall we look for such guidance if we look not to the sound and unselfish principles taught by Christianity?”

Mrs. Stanford was a prophetic voice in the early 20th century. America, the home of her beloved university, in the early 21st century is experiencing what can happen when Christianity and the church are removed from society. God help us.

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV).

October 2015

© Stephanie B. Blake

 

The quotes from Dr. Brannar and Mrs. Stanford came from a book written by Willis Lincoln Hall, published in 1921, Stanford Memorial Church, the mosaics, the windows, the inscriptions.

The book is in public domain and available free in PDF online through Hathitrust.org. The 1921 version (there is a 1917 version) contains Dr. Brannar’s conversation with Mrs. Stanford.

Over the years, Mrs. Stanford collected inspirational sayings. Some of them (28) now decorate the church as beautifully framed inscriptions. Next month’s devotional will highlight a few of these.

Download Lessons for Today from a Great Lady of Yesterday

The Only Way Out

Have you ever felt trapped, or been in a situation that seemed to have no way out, no solution? Can you remember a time when you felt all of your efforts were not successful in getting you where you wanted to go in life?

Have you done something in the past that because it could not be undone, has haunted you to the point where everything else is viewed in terms of “what if things had been different?” Has someone so incredibly wronged you that the memory of that event or circumstances dominates your thoughts? Have you in the past or are you at the present fighting the demon of despair that threatens to imprison you and everything that concerns you?

~~~~~

Imagine yourself in solitary confinement in a dark, damp and cold prison. You are there because you have done something to deserve this terrible judgment. There are no windows in your cell, only darkness. There is definitely no way out. To make matters worse, your sentence is a justifiably a lifetime one. There is absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself from this perpetual reminder that you are a sinner and deserve this lonely, loveless existence with no hope of having a productive life. The boredom is practically unbearable, but you are forced to endure it, day by unending day.

The only way you stay alive is the daily provision slipped through the slot in the metal door that confines you: a little bowl of water and some bread. Then one day, a bright light stuns you. You blink from the brightness of the unfamiliar and wonder if you just imagined the light. But no, someone has actually opened the door. In fact, as your eyes adjust to the light, you see that the person who opened the door fills it with his presence. He is a simple shepherd, a kind man with an expression of compassion you cannot recall ever seeing in anyone else before.

Suddenly, you are embarrassed by your lack of hygiene. You are incredibly smelly, your hair is matted and your prison uniform is dirty and torn. The difference between you and this man cannot be measured. Even though he is humbly dressed, he is the essence of purity itself. His countenance makes you think of refreshing water running from a brook. You are suddenly thirsty for that water, a thirst you are unable to put into words. You want more than relief from a parched mouth. Without understanding how or why you feel this way, you know what you really need is a drink from a brook that will never run dry. You discover that you believe this man can give you that gift, cleansing in every sense of the word.

He, however, seems to be unaware of your filthy state. He enters your cell and gently takes your hand, seemingly unconscious of the grime and germs located there. Leading you out of your cell into light of day, he resurrects you from the pit of that dungeon and despair.

The good shepherd says, “Follow me, for I am the way to God. I tell you the truth. I am the source of all life and I want to give it abundantly to you. I have paid the price for your crime that put you in this place. I have redeemed you. Just trust me and get the source of your strength from me, for my desire is that you have a useful and fruitful life. My father and I want to make our home with you and have you be part of our family. We tend a lovely vineyard. My father is the caretaker and I am the true vine. If you will get all your strength from me, I promise that you can live a full, abundant and productive life.”

Still reeling from the wonder of it all, you take the shepherd’s hand and continue walking into the light, never to return to your cell or utter despair.

~~~~~

Sin against God literally puts us in the dark cell of despair. There is no hope of restitution without divine intervention. Jesus came to rescue us from that sinful state. He asks only that we trust in Him. Faith in Jesus is based on His trustworthiness. All that we need He has done. Giving feet to our faith, we must eat the bread, look to the light, walk through the door, and follow our Shepherd-Redeemer out of our prison of sin.

Once rescued from that dark place, we must continue to follow Him. Everything concerning us from then on has new meaning. Productivity is now possible by His example and through His Spirit.

Robert Frost, an American poet (1874-1963), said, “The best way out is always through.” The only way out of our sinful lost state is through Jesus Christ. Trust Him. He will never fail you.

~~~~~

Jesus said,

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser….I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 5).

© Stephanie B. Blake

September 2015

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Pray and Work

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:4).

…”let Your servant prosper this day, I pray and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer (1:11).

Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven (2:4).

And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me (2:8).

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as if everything depended on you.” A quote credited to Saint Augustine, Ignatius and Francis Cardinal Spellman, it is worth repeating.

Everything does depend on God. He wants us to pray. He expects us to work.

Printed above the Ramsey coat of arms is Ora et Labora. Dave Ramsey says, “For hundreds of years, the Ramseys have been known for those two things: prayer and work… Pray and work. I think that’s what God expects of us. That’s the kind of attitude and activity He can bless. God promises to feed the birds, but He doesn’t throw worms into their nests.” (from The Legacy Journey).

Those of us who really like to work sometimes need a reminder that not all work will produce something that is God honoring. It is God working through us that will do that. Instead of not finishing a task or finishing it and realizing that it was not done well, we should go to God first. Regret is having to say, “I wish I had prayed about that.”

Pray and work. That is exactly how Nehemiah accomplished the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He first prayed; then set about doing the work God assigned Him to do. At every point along the way – even with hateful opposition – he practiced this principle.

When Nehemiah discovered that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, the gates had been burned with fire and the survivors of the captivity were in great distress, he prayed. He not only prayed. He fasted and prayed. Nehemiah prayed for forgiveness for the children of Israel, he prayed for forgiveness for himself and asked God for mercy as he contemplated his next step.

Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer, an important position in the service of King Artaxerxes. He prayed for mercy before he stood before the king. As the king observed Nehemiah’s sadness, he asked the reason why. Before Nehemiah answered the king, he prayed. When the king granted his request to go to Judah to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah knew it was because the good hand of God was upon him.

Nehemiah and his fellows Jews who were rebuilding the wall encountered great and vicious opposition. Nehemiah turned the matter over to God. “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and given them as plunder to a land of captivity” (4:4). The opposition grew and conspired to attack and create confusion. Nehemiah continued to pray and work. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night (4:9). As his brothers’ strength began to fail and they became afraid, Nehemiah reminded them who was in charge. And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work (4:14-15). Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. “Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared (4:19-21).

As Nehemiah continued to stand in the gap for his countrymen as the rulers dishonored God with their practice of lending, buying and selling, he asked for God’s blessing. Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people (5:19). He rebuked the continued opposition from outside the family and continued to work – first asking God for strength. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands (6:9b). He left judgment in God’s hand. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prohetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid (6:14).

God answered Nehemiah’s prayers, He strengthened his hands and under his leadership, the task was completed. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days (6:15).

Pray and work. The order was important. In fifty-two days, Nehemiah and his team rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. And God received the glory.

And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God (6:16).

Nehemiah had an assignment from God. He took it seriously. He knew it was not his work. It was God’s work. He needed God’s guidance and protection as he did His work. Since he prayed first, Nehemiah was then not reluctant to ask for God’s continued blessing on his work and his life.

“Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for its services!” … “Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me accounting to the greatness of Your mercy!”… “Remember me, O my God, for good!” (13:14, 22, 31).

Pray and work. Everything does depend on God. He wants us to pray. He expects us to work. He remembers us when we do.

© Stephanie B. Blake

August 2015

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Time Economics

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

“A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” was a saying characteristic of people living during the Depression. With no money for replacement items, repair and maintenance were done out of necessity. The origin of “a stitch in time saves nine” literally dealt with sewing. A small tear repaired at once prevents a larger tear from forming in the future – thus saving nine more stitches. The idea, of course, has come to mean that you will do yourself a favor by taking care of small problems when they appear. If you wait, repairs will be more time consuming and expensive.

An example of this would be car maintenance. Stay on top of engine tune-ups in order to guarantee that your engine will last as long as possible. Check your tires periodically for wear and make sure they have the proper amount of air and they will last longer.

Routine maintenance can prevent damage and save you time and money. If you clean out the gutters on your house each year, potential expensive repairs to your home can be avoided; removing lint from the dryer every time not only keeps your dryer running more efficiently, thus saving electricity, but potentially prevent a dangerous fire caused by excessive lint build up; vacuuming the coils of your refrigerator can prolong the life of that appliance; pulling weeds as soon as they appear can prevent you from having to do a widespread spraying or spending days removing overgrown patches; backing up files on your computer can save you enormous headache in redoing projects and losing some important information forever. When traveling, calling ahead for information or printing your boarding pass at home can save unpleasant surprises or a long wait in line. Repairing small leaks when you first notice them can save you a lot of time and money later. Carrying a small tool kit when traveling by car can make the difference between being able to fix a minor problem or having to call a repairman. Packing a mending kit when traveling can prevent you from having to buy a new item of clothing if something happens while you are on the road. Packing essential prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines can keep you from having to go to the emergency room.

Often maintenance is a matter of cleanliness. Metal items, such as automobiles, barbeque grills, iron fences and farm equipment last longer if cleaned regularly and checked for rust. Once rust sets in, the repair job is lengthy. When it is first noticed (like on the fender of a car) and taken care of, that “stitch in time” saves not only nine more stitches, but expensive repairs. It is more than a dollar saved.

If you don’t know how to repair certain items, there are more resources available than ever before. An online search will usually turn up a “how to” article that will walk you through it. Even when you can’t repair an item yourself, you can often extend its life by having it repaired by a professional.

After the Crisis of 2008 hit, there were many news reports on how people were coping. Sales in stores were down because people were making what they had last longer, repairing those items rather than buying new ones. This actually resulted in an increase of revenue for some businesses such as shoe repair shops, auto repair shops and home improvement stores. Some items need to be fixed by professionals, but even that cost is cheaper than replacing it – most of the time. There are some notable exceptions, such as computers and other electronic items.

In addition to saving money, your “stitch in time” can save your time. The less complicated the repair, the quicker it is done, the more time is left for other things.

Time really does have value. Somewhere, someone else is employed for services as an accountant, an auto mechanic, a bookkeeper, a cook, a driver (chauffeur), electrician, gardener, housekeeper, nurse, etc. As you balance your checkbook, change the oil in your car, prepare meals for your family, drive your children to and from activities, repair the wiring in your garage, maintain and adorn your yard and garden, clean your house, take care of your family members when they are sick, you are performing tasks routinely that someone else might be paid for.

Procrastination in maintenance and repairs leads to the “nine other stitches.” Procrastination also makes your “to do” list longer than it needs to be.

In many ways, time is of much more worth than money is.

In every area of life, it is better to take action on issues as they come up. For instance, a misunderstanding between family members, friends and neighbors can fester if not dealt with immediately.

Even if you don’t have money or a job, it is good to remember that you have the same amount of time as everyone else. What you do with that time will help you move forward or allow you to stagnate.

During the Great Recession, many people were forced to seek employment in areas they had never imagined they would work in. Sometimes this involved schooling. Sometimes it meant doing manual labor instead of office work.

In a few cases, the forced adjustment led to a happier lifestyle. Their time was now allocated more towards family or church or their community.

These changes involved spending time learning a new skill, competing in a job market that was new to them, and not giving in to the temptation to give up.

It is understandable to be disappointed with unforeseen negative circumstances, but what you do with those circumstances is up to you. Procrastination is not a good thing, but having such a full schedule that you cannot enjoy family or life is not either. There must be a balance.

Only you can determine the proper balance of time in your life. Many who have had money, though, and made it their priority, have regretted it in the end. Prioritize according to what really matters and your time will be of more value to you than money.

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost part of your life.” – Michael LeBoueuf

God expects us to be good stewards of every gift He gives. How we spend our resources and how we spend our time are indicators of how we view His gifts. Jesus made that point very clear in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The lazy servant wasted his time and his master’s money.

© Stephanie B. Blake

July 2015

(This devotional was adapted from a chapter of “Money, How to be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today”)

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The Source

In the midst of an ever changing world, the source of my peace is Jesus.

For He Himself is our peace.

In the midst of frightening circumstances, the source of my refuge and trust is Jesus.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in You. 

In the midst of losing loved ones to death, the source of my hope is Jesus.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

In the midst of experiencing aging and its limitations, the source of my strength is Jesus.

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.

In the midst of Satan’s temptations, the source of my escape and salvation is Jesus.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

In the midst of confusion and doubt, the source of my faith is Jesus.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

In the midst of sadness, the source of my comfort is the Spirit of God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The source of my joy is God’s everlasting love revealed through His Spirit and declared through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

Ephesians 2:14, Psalm 56:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Habakkuk 3:19, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 11:6, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, John 15:11

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  © Stephanie B. Blake June 2015

The Leadership Legacy

One hundred and forty eight years after the people of Cleburne, Texas chose to name the city after Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, a statue was erected in his honor. Underneath the statue is a plaque containIMG_3025ing the following statement.

Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne’s battle cry was “Follow me” when other generals said, “Forward, men.” Robert E. Lee wrote, “He shone like a meteor on a clouded sky.” Jefferson Davis called him “The Stonewall of the West.”

Cleburne was born March 16, 1828, in Cork County, Ireland. His superiors revered him; his troops trusted him. Cleburne died on November 30, 1864, as he led his unit at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

In 1867, with the support of local veterans who had served under the General, the new county seat of Johnson County was named Cleburne.

IMG_3027General Cleburne died many years before I came to live in Cleburne, Texas. As a resident, I have been curious about him. Now I am struck with the legacy of leadership he left.

His men literally followed him into battle. They didn’t just hear his commands; they observed his bravery. As a leader who was respected and trusted, he demonstrated his loyalty to their joint cause by his example and gave his life to that cause in the process.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ who gave more than General Cleburne was capable of giving. Although our Lord Jesus has won the greatest battle of all time – the spiritual battle for our souls – many people are just curious about Him.

I revere and trust Jesus as my Savior and Lord. He led by example. He demonstrated in His own body how to live a victorious life. He died in my place. As the Son of God, He rose from the grave and gained the victory over sin and death for those who would trust Him. Through His sacrifice, I do not have to die. I serve Him with gratitude for all He did for me and for the spiritual army of which I am a part.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps …who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:21:24).

Purified Water

My husband and I frequently travel internationally. When we travel, we often have to buy purified or natural spring water. Local water can make us sick.

Companies that provide the bottled water often advertise that they have acquired water from the source. The leading water supplier goes to great lengths to find spring waters that are pure and free from contaminants.

I have had stomach issues when I travel and I do what I can to avoid having them again. I rinse my toothbrush with the bottled water; I avoid salads (lettuces and vegetables have been rinsed with the local water); I have even learned that delicious local fruit drinks can be mixed with the local water and I no longer drink those.

All of this can be hard to remember. Occasionally I have forgotten to take the precautions I knew I should take – for one simple reason. The water coming out of the tap looks the same as the water that has been bottled. Looks can be deceiving.

800px-thumbnailThis is an issue that must be dealt with. We cannot live without water. Although you cannot see the contaminants – such as E-coli, coliform bacteria, lead and nitrates –  they can definitely make you sick.

Even though we need water, not all water can satisfy.

water-1373543892cbL This is perhaps the best example of the relationship between the physical and the spiritual. Jesus made this point when He was speaking to a woman drawing water from a well. She was not drawing impure water, but because the need for water is constant, she had to return daily. Jesus used this physical need to make a spiritual connection with her.  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).

There is no physical life without water. There is no everlasting spiritual life without the living water the Lord provides.

Jesus is truly the source of living water. As He did the woman in Samaria, He invites each of us to drink of the water He provides – pure and uncontaminated. In doing so, He shares His life and His Spirit with those who believe in Him.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).