Category: One Focus Blog

Rest From A Completed Project

My life is full of projects to be completed – little ones and big ones.

Every day is full of the little projects:

  • Laundry is not complete until I have folded it, put it away and ironed items that require it. After a trip, that particular project may take all day.
  • If we want to eat a meal, it is not enough to decide what to cook, cook it and serve it. The dishes must also be washed and put away.DSC03514
  • If yard work needs to be done, I have found it best not to do it in stages but to devote enough time to get it completely done including weeding flower beds, cutting the grass, trimming and cleaning up afterwards.
  • I maintain a couple of blogs. The article is not complete until I have finished writing it, added an image or two, proofed it and posted it to the internet.

IMG_2127When I am able, I help my husband with some of our household projects. These are more lengthy in nature and may take days or weeks, but I am always aware the project needs to be completed. If I do choose to “enter into the project” with him and follow through to the end, I can take delight in the fact I had a part in finishing it.

Some projects are part of something larger. If we are building a house, we may finish building a bathroom, but the remainder of the rooms may need to be finished as well. It is not completely finished until the last nail has been driven and the last paint brush has been put down.

I need to rest when I get tired, but I want to rest as well so that I can enjoy the result of the project.

God never gets tired but He does take time to enjoy what He has created. And God rested on the seventh day from all His works (Hebrews 4:4).

If you are a child of God, God is in the process of completing His work in you. When you believe, His rest becomes your rest. … we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3a).

There is a future element to that rest. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from His works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10). Together, for eternity, we will enjoy all that God has planned for those who have chosen to believe in Him.

since a promise remains of entering His rest… Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…(Hebrews 4:1, 11).

The World Clock and Sleep

I am often waiting on an international flight. The last time I did that, although my flight was more than twelve hours long and the door to door time in route was to be over seventeen hours, according to the calendar and the flight schedule, I arrived before I left – part of the curious life of working and living on the world clock.

I know the advantages we have our predecessors did not. Businesses are now able to work around the clock. Communication and business transactions can be conducted twenty four hours a day.

454px-C_Krohg-TrettI can also keep track of friends and family no matter what time of day or night it is. I may send a message late in my day knowing a friend or family member will receive it the next day when they arise. Often when I am overseas, I wake to a message about a loved one – some good, some bad, but the occasion for the message occurred during their daytime – my night.

This lifestyle leads to an interesting attack on my body. I often have serious problems with jet lag. Having tried every solution there is to conquer this, it still takes me days – sometimes weeks – to recover.

Angelo_Agostini,_1887,_El_Rey,_nosso_senhor_e_amoOur bodies are structured to need sleep. It is so important that people have even died from the lack of sleep. It is an effective torture tactic. Loss of sleep can cause you to lose your reasoning ability or become dangerously disoriented.

Often when I am sleep deprived or recovering from a long overseas trip, I thankfully reflect on the fact that my God does not need sleep. The world clock is not an issue for Him – He created time and is in time for all of us. He is as available to me during the night as He is during the day. When I am concerned about a loved one on the other side of the world, I know that when I talk to Him about him or her, He immediately hears.

In fact, because He never sleeps, my sleepless hours can be some of the best time to talk to Him about everything – those I love and my needs as well.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:1-5).

We Chose Adoption

Once again adoption is more than an idea in our family – it is a reality.

10929019_10206604680294704_245956839076266793_nMy second Chinese granddaughter is now in the family. I was reminded, as I was with the first adoption, that the entire family made a choice. Every member – daddy, mommy, two brothers and a sister – wants Ava to know how much she is loved and wanted. So do my husband and I. The rest of the extended family feels the same.

Ava and I have yet to meet, but once I was aware she would be joining the family, she earned a special spot in my heart. She doesn’t know me yet, but I love this precious girl.

Prior to leaving to pick Ava up from China, the family made preparation for her10665191_10207033896384959_5610547872014842076_n at home – shifting things around and making sure that she had her own spot in which to sleep and keep her belongings. Time, thought, effort and expense were given willingly – all because having Ava in the family was worth it. She has been and will continue to be loved sacrificially, unconditionally and completely.

Ava has yet to fully realize the depth of love that brought her into the family. I think someday she will.

Adoption is a choice God made. As part of His adopted family, I am blessed. I feel His love. I know that bringing me into His family cost Him immeasurable sacrifice – the death of His only begotten Son. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew the cost of offering me an eternal home with His family. I will never be able to fully comprehend the depth of His love, but the reciprocal and grateful love I have for Him is very real.

Our lives have been immeasurably enriched because my son and his family chose to adopt. This has helped me come a little closer to understanding God’s love for me and all of my Christian brothers and sisters.

We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). “I go to prepare a place for you…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you….He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him…”(John 14: 2b, 18, 20-21, 23).

Dressing Properly

When I am attending an event in another country or even my own, I try to make sure I am dressed properly and know what is expected of me. Some civic events or worship services are very formal. Others are quite informal. When traveling, I always carry a skirt with me. I can never go wrong wearing a modest blouse and a skirt.

Anyone visiting the President of the United States, the Queen of England or any other national head of state would first be taught the proper protocol to exercise while in their presence. This would include how to dress, what to say and what not to say. No one would expect otherwise.

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When it comes to entering the presence of God, however, that is another story. Disrespect toward Him abounds. He is often referred to as the Man Upstairs or worse still, His name often comes in front of a curse. There is even a nonchalant attitude about coming to the house of God.

If we would dress differently visiting Buckingham Palace, what statement does it make to God when we wear shorts and flip flops in His house? Certainly we should not judge those who have nothing else to wear and they should be welcomed in church. Sometimes, however, those who do have nicer clothing are encouraged to come to church in their beach clothes so they will feel more comfortable. That makes me sad.

It is also wrong to wear fancy clothes to church just to be noticed but our dress reflects our attitude. God knows our hearts and whether we respect Him. By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy and before all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3 NAS).Nigeria 225

In Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, the man without the proper wedding garment was cast away into darkness. Access to God came at a high price – the price of His Son. Jesus provided pure white garments for us. We need to wear them.

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son…But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness…(Matthew 22:1, 2, 11-13).

Biographies and Personal Testimonies

If I admire someone for their strong ethical principles in public life or have enjoyed reading an author’s works, reading their biography often adds to the depth of appreciation I have for that person. For instance:

22541929Billy Graham’s integrity throughout the years of his ministry are inspiring. The biographies I have read about him have cemented my admiration of him.

26779My favorite daily devotional book is My Utmost for His Highest. Reading Oswald Chambers Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest added to my appreciation for Oswald Chambers. Many things about his life surprised me, but nothing disappointed me.

705983The poetry of Helen Steiner Rice is simple, clear and compassionate. We gave a copy of In the Vineyard of the Lord: Lights and Shadows from the Life of Helen Steiner Rice to my husband’s grandmother in 1982. After my husband’s father passed away, I found that book in his mother’s trunk and brought it home. I’m glad I did. It is a great testimony of a woman who used her talent for God.

1059875I thoroughly enjoyed reading We Had Everything But Money, a collection of true stories of people who lived through the Great Depression. Many of these testimonies were written by family members who were proud of their loved ones, their attitudes, their contributions to others and their examples of the truth that happiness doesn’t come from money. These people were not famous, but their stories impacted my life.

Few of us will have a biographer ask to write our story. It is usually famous people who receive those requests.

We are, however, well known to God. Those of us who are His children have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I believe there is also a possibility that He has written the stories of His children down in another book – a collection of stories about those who love Him.

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8).

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16).

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).

The Biblical Principle of Thrift

Although God’s resources are unlimited, His word records a basic principle of thrift.

In Old Testament times there was a custom of allowing the poor to follow behind reapers in order to pick up grain that was left behind. This is still practiced among some grain farmers. Even generous owners of vineyards may allow free access to their vineyards after their workers have gathered the grape harvest.

boaz_and_ruth__image_9_sjpg1141Illustrated beautifully in the story of Ruth, Boaz told her, “Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them” (Ruth 2:8-9).

Waste is the careless use or expenditure of goods for no purpose and is never commended in scripture.

On two separate occasions, Jesus publicly practiced this principle of stewardship.

thAfter a day of ministering to a multitude, the disciples suggested Jesus instruct the people to leave so they could go into the villages and buy food. Instead, Jesus fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish – miraculously multiplying the food. After they had all eaten and were full, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers.

In a similar circumstance, Jesus fed four thousand men plus women and children with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. As before, after they were all full, the disciples took up seven large baskets of what was left.

We do not have the ability to multiply our resources. That is God’s prerogative. We can apply His principle of thrift and make the most of what we have – being careful not to waste what He has provided.

Jesus had a spiritual application in mind as well as the practical provision. When the disciples misunderstood His admonition to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and thought it was because they had forgotten to bring bread, His response was:

“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? – but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:8-11).

(This was first published on my other blog: http://www.stretchmoney.wordpress.com)

Headline News

443px-Satterfield_cartoon_about_constant_news_of_war

in this Bob Satterfield cartoon, the everyman reads a week’s worth of newspapers with sensationalistic headlines about the risk of an upcoming war between Russia and Japan… finishing with headlines about how peaceful arbitration is inevitable. Jan 11, 1904

If I’m not careful, my day can start out pretty depressing. That is because I watch a lot of news. First thing in the morning, I check to see what has happened around the world. I watch news on television and read it online. Usually headline news is bad news – terror attacks, earthquakes, hurricanes, airplane crashes, wars on several fronts – just to name a few.

I have friends all over the world, so I believe catching up on news is necessary. Sometimes, however, I want to turn it all off and not hear any more bad news. Bad news is like the cold, damp, dark days of winter. I find myself searching through the clouds for a glimpse of sunshine. I am eager for good news.

Occasionally, a friend will email or call me with good news and when that happens, it is like a breath of fresh air. I often think when I hear good news, “I needed that.”

I remind myself that I have a constant source of good news. I also read it daily. It is God’s word.

The good news of scripture is that God knows, God cares and God provides whatever we need for whatever comes our way.

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Each year in February, the sun’s angle is such that Horsetail Falls waterfall lights up like fire. Yosemite N.P., USA

God’s headline news is the gospel – good news. It is just what we need. Jesus is the living breath of fresh air – the ray of sunshine we need. Trust in Him and all is made right. Sins are forgiven. Life has a purpose. Problems are measured not by difficulty, but by God’s glory.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 NASB).

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV).

Advice from Warren Buffett

Known as the most successful investor of the 20th century, Warren Buffett recently said:

USCurrency_Federal_Reserve“With a wonderful business, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when.”

Mr. Buffett does his research when he is considering an investment opportunity. He said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”

Although extraordinarily wealthy, he has a realistic view concerning money. “Money will not change how healthy you are or how many people love you.”

“Don’t risk what is important to you, to get what is not important to you.” Warren Buffett shares his wealth freely and launched the Giving Pledge which encourages the world’s richest people to share at least half their wealth with charity while they are still living.

Raised as a Presbyterian, Mr. Buffett says he is now an agnostic. He may not realize, however, that his words of advice can apply to one’s relationship with God.

  • “If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when.” As hard as it is, I try to leave the “when” to God because He is the One with an eternal perspective. I trust Him to do what is right in His perfect timing.
  • “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” The biggest risk in life is doing things without God’s guidance. I don’t always know what to do, but God does and He promises to direct my steps.
  • “Money will not change how healthy you are or how many people love you.” That is true. Riches are uncertain. God’s love is not. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on thjesus_nails_1e uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).
  • “Don’t risk what is important to you, to get what is not important to you.” Every earthly life comes to an end. What should be important is what will last for eternity.

It is hard not to admire Warren Buffett for his investment insight and philanthropy, but I do not envy him. I pray that this smart and generous man will receive Christ into his life.

I don’t know when I will die, but I do know what will happen. I will meet Jesus face to face because I know Him who invested His life for mine. The riches He gives will last forever.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Mark 8:36-37).

Seeing the Heart of Christmas

baby-jesus-christmas-nativity-wallpapers-1024x768God had demonstrated His love and His presence to His people for centuries, but many of them did not see it. So…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The highly favored woman and the just man saw Him first. God prepared Mary to give Him birth. He prepared Joseph to see Him come into the world. They knew why He had come. Angels told them why.

The simple men saw Him. The shepherds came to see the Child. Angels told them where to go and why He had come.800px-Krippenmuseum_Oberstadion_Krippe_aus_Aachen_c1850_06

The wise men saw Him. The star led them to Him. They had been told to visit the King of the Jews and they came to worship Him. The gifts they gave may have enabled Mary and Joseph to take care of the Christ Child as they were gifts of great worth. They were also symbolic. Gold was given to royalty. Frankincense was an incense offered in worship. Myrrh was an anointing or embalming oil. The wise men saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.

Simeon and Anna had been waiting for Him, assured that God would allow them to see Him with their own eyes. And He did. When they saw Him, they prophesied about Him.

When you see the Child in the manger, you are looking at the heart of God.

What a privilege it must have been for these few to have seen the Child and known who He was from the very beginning!

I was not there at His birth and neither were you. Even so, we can see the heart of Christmas – God’s love.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9). For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:1,2,18).

Gift Giving

This close to Christmas nearly everyone is thinking about what gifts they are going to be purchasing, wrapping, mailing or placing under the Christmas tree for loved ones. It is the season of concentrated gift giving.

Much thought is often put into the gifts you purchase. In fact, while I was typing this sentence, the doorbell rang. It was the delivery of a Christmas gift I had ordered online for my husband. I hope he likes it.

???????????????????????????????We love to give gifts on Christmas, but we also will be receiving gifts. As DSC04112recipients. we have a choice to make. We may use it or place it in the back of a closet. We are not obligated to use it, but whoever has given us the gift hopes that we will use it and like it. If you love the person who gave it to you, you know they spent some time thinking about what gift would suit you. Using the gift makes a statement to the giver – that you value and appreciate the gift you have been given.

As Christians, the most important gift we have been given is the gift of salvation. It was given to us by the Christ who chose to be born in a manger, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death and rose from His grave. For those of us who have accepted that gift, He is preparing a place for us to be with Him for all eternity.

God’s Holy Spirit also gives you gifts for service. They are tailor made for you. He is pleased and glorified when you give Him thanks for those gifts and use them for His service. You can ignore your spiritual gift and neglect the good work God has begun in you, but it can insult God, grieve Him and become sin to you.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8).

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).