I WILL GIVE MY ALL ….!

Knoxville, Tennessee is the home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team.  In the fall of the year, the city falls under the spell of the Big Orange Volunteer Spirit, with over 100,000 fans cheering in the stadium at a home game.  During football season, it is not unusual to see stores, offices, homes, and restaurants of every type decked out in Big Orange colors of orange and white in support for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Support for Volunteer football team
Support for Volunteer football team

In fact, today is the first game of the 2015 season and it is out of town.  But the Volunteers don’t need to be in town to have dedicated fans.  Yesterday, I went to a restaurant for lunch with a friend, and well over 50% of the people in the building were wearing orange shirts, hats, jewelry, and the owner was even wearing orange pants.

Now, I, too, am a Big Orange Volunteer fan, make no mistake about that.  While none in my family are native to Knoxville, we long ago caught the fever of college SEC football, cheering for the Tennessee Volunteer football team, win, lose or draw!

Our dedication to the team even extended to the turf on which the game was played.  When the stadium was changed from artificial turf to grass a number of years ago, we purchased a square of the orange and white end zone for a souvenir of those days gone by!  It is hanging on the family room wall

Piece of the end zone turf, University of Tennessee
Piece of the end zone turf, University of Tennessee

We have our car flags, orange and white T-shirts, sweatshirts and blankets, as well as orange and white car decals, plastic plates, cups, spoons and forks, table cloths, … well you know what I am talking about.

Big Orange football game day table wear
Big Orange football game day table wear

And, of course we have the posters and caps on display, all of which are adorned with the beautiful orange and white of the Volunteers.

National Championship Poster for University of Tennessee
National Championship Poster for University of Tennessee

Finally, we can’t forget the spirit of the game … the cheerleaders, and in years gone past, we even had our own!

Cheerleading to willing fans.
Cheerleading to willing fans.

For the past several years there has been a sign along the interstate advertising the Tennessee Volunteer football program with the slogan that the team will “give our all to Tennessee today!”

It caused me to think about what that phrase meant. “Give our all to Tennessee today!”  I am certain it references the effort that the young players are to give to the game.  I am certain that it reflects the focus that the coaches have in training the team and guiding them during the big games.  I am certain that the team is reminded of this mantra throughout their training whether or not it is a game day.

But it made me think.  I certainly am NOT a football player, never have been and never will be! But I am a Christian.

Can I say that I will give my all to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, today?

Would I have a sign like this in the front yard telling the world that I will give my all to Jesus today?

  • If I had such a sign, would I actually pay attention to it or would it blend in with the scenery?
  • If I had such a sign, would I read it as I left the house each day or would I pass by it and ignore the admonition?
  • If I had such a sign, would I mean what it says, or would it be mere decoration?
  •  If I had such a sign, would I look at it and pray that I would fulfill that promise no matter what the cost, no matter what the consequence, no matter what ….?

Perhaps the first question I need to ask is:

“Do I really want to give my all to Jesus today? Am I that committed to Christ that I want this for my life, today?”

Scripture says this is exactly what we are to do.  In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

We cannot shrug our shoulders and mumble, yeah, but that was said thousands of years ago; it’s not for us 2015! Not so, my friend.  Jesus reiterated that this was still a commandment for us in Matthew 22:37 when He stated that this was the great commandment.

Note that it is an imperative statement — “You shall”.  It is not optional, and it is not a divine suggestion.  As Christians, this commandment expresses how much we should be committed to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Remember, our Lord gave His all for us — He deserves no less from us in response.

So, who will get your all today?

Father, forgive me when I have given my all to the world, to things that have no eternal significance, to idols that take time and attention away from You, my Creator-Sustainer-Sovereign God.  Give me the grace and mercy to give my all to You each day that You give to me. And, Father, I cannot do anything without your enabling through my Lord; so, please give me a heart that can be used by the Holy Spirit to do the work that you have ordained for me, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord, I pray.

BLUEBERRIES FOR CHRIST

I love blueberries. I like to have them on cereal, over ice cream, in muffins, in granola bars – I love blueberries.   My Beloved, on the other hand, will eat some blueberries but he is not as fanatic about them as I am . For him, a little goes a long way.

The other morning, we were preparing breakfast and I was scooping out blueberries from the freezer bag and pouring them into my granola cereal and getting my Beloved some Cheerios.

Blueberries and granola cereal.
Blueberries and granola cereal.

I asked if he wanted some blueberries and he replied “Yes, but not many.”

Being the dutiful wife that I am, I counted out eight blueberries and put them on the top of his cereal, and then asked if that was sufficient. I really thought he would want more, but he did not – eight was just right.

So, we ate our cereal and when we were down to the milk, I noticed how blue the milk was in my bowl and I assumed that the color was so deep because I had so many blueberries with my granola.Blueberry colored milk.

But, when I looked at my Beloved’s bowl, his milk was as blue as mine even though his bowl had so many less blueberries!

Blueberry milk and Cheerios.
Blueberry milk and Cheerios.

I confess that this was far from a scientific experiment.  However, a few things can be deduced from our breakfast challenge.  First, a blueberry is not a strong fruit – its skin is thin and it is small in comparison with other fruit. Its taste is mild and it probably won’t win a contest for being the most distinctive taste in the panoply of fruit flavors.

Second, the blueberry is a champion of color. Those eight little berries colored the milk the same hue of blue as did my 4 scoops of berries. [You can conduct the same experiment just by dishing out the berries in the first place … if your hands touch them, even when frozen, you will have blue marks on your fingers.]

Third, what a powerful impact those eight little berries had on the white milk. Quiet, no grand heraldry announcing that the blueberries were doing something … they just made their presence known by coloring their world.

Then I thought of Scripture and our witness to the love and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We too are supposed to affect our world for Jesus by our word, work and witness.

Jesus said we are to be salt and light to the world. Matthew 5:13-16. Neither salt nor light leave the area around it unchanged. Both have an immediate affect on that which it touches. Light does not leave the darkness alone when it appears – light totally obliterates the darkness.   Salt is not just a flavoring. Indeed, according to the Salt Institute, there are about 14,000 uses for salt.  It has been said that the use of salt as a preservative for food was an early cornerstone of civilization. [You can read more about salt at http://www.care2.com/greenliving/47-smart-uses-for-salt.html#ixzz3jU24iqym]

In short, Jesus was telling His disciples that they should have an affect on the people with whom they come in contact. And, through the power of the Holy Spirit, this affect should be quiet, enduring and efficient no matter the circumstance.

Jesus did not include the blueberry in His command to His disciples when He said that they should be salt and light to their world and I certainly don’t want to add anything to Scripture as it is, I believe, the inerrant Word of the Living God.

But, I think that the little blueberry can be an example of what He was saying. We should not just soak up the milk, we should not just hear the Word, we should not just bask in the fellowship of our friends … we should be out in the world leaving behind the mark of Jesus Christ just as the blueberry leaves its mark when it comes in contact with your hand.

When we are in contact with our family, neighbors, fellow-shoppers, drivers, church members, club associates, whomever … whatever our interaction with others may be, there should be an impact for Jesus Christ.

  • Can people tell that we are Christians by the way we color our interactions with them?
  • We may be small, weak and not very assuming in appearance, but do we make a mark for our Lord in our society, not just on Sunday at and after services, but on a day to day basis?

So, what about you?  Have you colored your world today?  Have I?

Lord, please forgive us when we have missed opportunities to witness to others about your love and grace.  Forgive us when we fail to follow your lead in presenting the gospel message of salvation to others who may be asking about what Christ means to us.  Lord, forgive us when we have soaked up the Word, hoarding it for ourselves, without recognizing that it will increase when we spread it abroad.  Lord, help us live for You no matter where we are or who we are with.  Let us remember that You are ever present with us, to give us the words to speak as you did with Moses and the prophets.  Praise Your Holy Name.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT!

Most of us have heard the question “Where’s Waldo?”  The subject of the inquiry is the location of a fictitious character named Waldo who hides in the midst of chaos – hides in plain sight.

For many years, we had a canine son named Skippy.  The humorous stories associated with Skippy are legion, especially since he was over 18 years old when he died.  One Christmas, after the family had torn open the presents, we took the following picture and named it “Where’s Skippy?”

Where's Skippy?
Where’s Skippy?

Now, we have “Where’s Waldo” when Cuddles bundles herself under a blanket and it is only after calling her name that her head comes out from her hiding place.  Here she is in her “you can’t see me now” pose.

“Where’s Waldo” is not the only hiding in plain sight phenomenon, however.  There is also the condition we call “Refrigerator Blindness” and it appears that the majority of the men in my family are afflicted with it.  No doctor will diagnose it and no eyeglasses will correct it.  It is a condition where the man will be asked to obtain something from the refrigerator, closet, pantry, well almost anywhere.  He will look for it and come back without it, usually saying “It isn’t there.”  [It seems that this condition does not affect vision for the retrieval of anything related to the car, garage, Pep Boys or the automotive section of Walmart.]

Our grandsons are afflicted with this condition.  When the family comes to visit, I will ask them to get their pajamas, and, uniformly, they will return still in their street clothes.

Me:  “Where are your jammies?”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “Oh.”

They go upstairs and return in their street clothes.

Me:  “You aren’t in your jammies.”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “No they aren’t.”

Me:  “Yes they are – I put them in there myself.  Go look in the suitcase for your jammies.”

They go upstairs and come back in their jammies.

Me:  “Where were they?”

Them:  “In the suitcase.”

Our most recent incident of Refrigerator Blindness occurred this morning when the calendar reminded us that Cuddles and Snickers were due to take their flea and heartworm monthly medicine.

Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?
Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?

This medicine is stored in its box, with the name splayed across the top, in a closet that has shelves on both sides for storage of a wide variety of things, such as sheets, office materials, etc.

After perusing the supply closet in pursuit of the canine tablets, my Beloved asked where I had put them.   I responded that the two boxes (one box for each dog) were on the shelf in the closet.  As I turned to look in the closet where he was standing, I noticed that he had apparently exhausted looking at the shelf with most of the little things on it and had moved his gaze to the shelf with the sheets and towels.  Knowing that dog medicine would not be mixed in with the linen, I went into the closet.

Refrigerator Blindness had struck with a vengeance. The box, with the labeled side facing him, was on the second shelf at eye level for my Beloved.  If there had been a hand sticking out of the box, it likely would have hit him in the face.  I said something like “You’re kidding me, right?”, and pointed directly to the box.  His face revealed that he was not, in fact, kidding but that he actually had missed seeing the box altogether.

While this is a glimpse into our family life that you may or may not want to have, it has application to our spiritual life. We all can have spiritual Refrigerator Blindness, and not just the men/boys/children either.

  • How often has our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ given us blessings which we did not see and for which we did not give thanks.  Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God said:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Jeremiah 5:21

In Matthew 13:13-14 Jesus said:

This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul says:

 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

  • How often have we relied on His grace that He has given to us so richly, and we don’t even praise His name in gratitude for His mercy and love.  Proverbs 3:34 says:

“He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

The Apostle John says:

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  John 1:16.

 

In Romans 3:21-24 we read:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

  • How often have we seen a person in need but we have moved right on ahead with our own agenda because his/her need did not register on our own personal spiritual Richter scale?
  • How often have we been approached by sinners who are hiding in plain sight.  They mix in with everyone and it is hard to find them in the crush of people, schedules and day-to-day requirements that we have.

Lord,  forgive me; give me the grace

  • to see those in need around me;
  • to see the brother or sister who desires to know the Lord but does not have the right vocabulary to express the need;
  • to see people as you see them, Lord.  Take the scales off my eyes so that I see people as you see them, and then give me the grace to witness freely to anyone You put in my path.

Then thank Him with a heart full of gratitude for His mercy, compassion and love.