What Kind of Ambassador Are You?

In one of the Aposle Paul’s writings he said:

We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God.

As I look at our chaotic world today with all the divisions as we try to cope with the problems the coronavirus and the recent election season has caused, I am saddened at the response of the church world.

It has astounded me how many in the church have taken to FB, Twitter accounts and other media to call those who disagree with them names, questioning their Christianity if they did not agree on a particular issue. While the fear, the anger, the questions we all have in this time of uncertainty is understandable, our response as Christians call us to a higher standard than those who are not followers of Christ. When the church begins to call our government leaders unkind names and suggest even violence to them, what does the world think of our message?

Have we not always said that Christ loves the whole world, that He came to save any who would call on Him? How then can we let our own emotions, our own political beliefs, our own understanding of the coronavirus bring us to this point? How can we then ask the world to believe in our message of love if our actions are anything but loving?

So what is an ambassador?

The dictionary tells us that an ambassador is an official representative of his/her government or sovereign appointed for a special and often temporary assignment. That person is chosen to act or speak for another, to represent the interests of another person.

So – as a Christian ambassador, I need to realize I am an official representive of Christ. When I call myself a Christian, I am taking on the role of acting/speaking for the interests, not of myself, but of Christ. My words, my actions will reflect on Christ and His church.

The first step in becoming an ambassador is to set aside one’s personal agenda. It is important to remember that God does not come into our lives to help us achieve our goals. That kind of human-centered teaching may be popular, but it is not biblical We are meant to spend ourselves in seeking God’s glory (not our own – or anther person’s or a particular group of people), achieving His eternal purposes (not our own temporal goals) and bearing witness to His truth (not our opinions.) …Cole Richards

When I look at the Early Church, I find a people who lived under the domination of a foreign power. People who did not have to struggle with being told to wear a mask or not to gather in large groups, but people who were told they would be imprisoned or even killed if they shared the message of Jesus. People who were beaten, thrown in an arena with lions. History tells us that all but one of Jesus’ disciples were martyred. Yet they responded with love and their only task was to continue to share the message of John 3:16 – “God so loved the world….”

If we cannot remain a people of love and whose main focus is to share Jesus in this time and situation, how will we survive if, God forbid, we ever face real persecution as the Early Church did?

Will we remain good ambassadors of Christ – or will we be too concerned for our own freedoms, rights to care about our leader’s whole purpose and goals who, hanging on a cross, said “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”?

We Did It! Now on to 2000 Games!

Those who have been following my blog for awhile know that my husband and I are Scrabble addicts.

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

We have actually got out of bed at 3 am, played a game and then went back to bed!

We began keeping score in 2008. We have the score books from all these years. My husband keeps score and he keeps tab of the total of games we each win – by how many points and even the seven-letter words we play.

At the beginning of 2020 we realized we were close to playing 1000 games – so we set a goal of doing just that. And with the year it has been cooped up at home – it was a good thing to keep us from going crazy!

We have the official Scrabble dictionary and after several challenges by me, my husband uses it a lot to make sure he is spelling the word correctly so I don’t challenge him again.

Being totally crazy, we even have a list of all the three-letter words in the dictionary – and we allow ourselves to use the list to help us make more points.

As we began the last game of 2020 I was one game ahead of my husband and I wanted to win this game and end this 1000 game stretch ahead. However, it did not start out too good for me. These were the letters I had – no vowels.

My husband’s hand was not much better. He had no vowels also but he did have a “y” which he could use. After playing the word “sty” I had to take a “0” for my first turn because I could not do anything with these letters. So – the game did not start off in my favor.

I gained the lead quickly and when we were about two-thirds done, I was ahead 487 to 434. However, it game turned to his favor when he was able to spell a seven-letter word which gave him 50 extra points and he won the game with a score of 711 to my 692.

So – after 1000 games in 12 years we ended all tied.

We each have won 498 games and we have four tied games.

A friend told me she found it hard to believe we were tied after all these games. She said she thought one of us was letting the other one win. Clearly she is not a very close friend because if she were, she would know we are too competitive for that.

Since it took us 12 years to reach 1000 games, I seriously doubt we will ever see 2000, but we can have fun continuing to challenge each other – and keep our old brains active.

My husband fell earlier this year and was rushed to the hospital for surgery following a brain bleed. I worried if he would still be able to compete with me in Scrabble. The doctors told us that one of the possible side effects of this injury was damage to his ability to speak or read and communicate. It was such a blessing to see that he recovered quickly and could keep me on my toes. We both think getting right back to Scrabble was a big help in that recovery.

I’m Back With a Miracle Man!

Well – I did want to end ahead of him – but such is life. I’ll just have to put on my big girl pants and go on.

Life or Death in My Words????

Reading with my husband in the book of James, I thought how much our country needs to heed the words found there. James admonishes us to:

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires

Wow! Sadly it appears we are slow to listen and quick to speak.

James had much to say about the tongue.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,  but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!  Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Thinking about controlling my tongue, I realized this would also apply to the social media we use. While we are not using our voice when we post on Facebook, Word Press, Twitter, we are “speaking.”

I have been saddened to see so many doing just what James said was wrong – praising God – then cursing those made in the image of God. My initial response when I listen to others arguing over the virus, the election and all the craziness we have experienced in 2020 is to be critical and wonder why they cannot be reasonable.

Reading in James, I had to take a good look at myself. How many times have I seen a post on Facebook that upset me and just responded without even thinking about how it might effect others?

It really hit me hard when I read:

and If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

While I cannot control what others do, I realize that I must work on controlling that urge to speak so quickly, to give my opinion, to “prove my point.” Thinking more about how I need to control my quick responses, I was reminded that Jesus said

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

A more modern take on that might be:

Garbage in – garbage out.

This makes me realize I need to make sure I control what is in my heart – and listening to all the negative news and arguments is not the way to do that. So I aim to do less listening to news, less scrolling through Facebook and listen to great music, read great books. Fill my heart with good stuff.

My prayer now is:

May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you oh LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Can We Make It to 1000?

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know that my husband and I are avid Scrabble players. We are very competitive and have kept a record of our scores since 2008. I tell my story in:

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

We have been known to wake up at 4 am and, not being able to go back to sleep, get up and play a game of Scrabble before heading back to bed. Since we play with a Super Scrabble board which has twice the number of tiles for a normal game and a much larger board, it can take us two to three hours to play a game It doesn’t help that we are so competitive and often take minutes to find the right word.

Currently we are at game number 928. We want to make it to 1000 games by the end of the year. Since there are only 78 days left in the year this means we can only skip six days without a game.

Since we are retired and winter is fast coming to our home in Michigan, I think we can make it.

Right now in our 928 games I have won 464, my husband has won 460 with four ties. Recently a friend said she did not think we could have that many ties or be that close in games won and suggested that one of us was letting the other win. Obviously while she is a friend she is not a close friend. Otherwise she would know how competitive we are and how we would NEVER let the other one win.

Questions:

When we reach that milestone who will be ahead in the total number of games won?

What should the winner of the most games receive as a prize?

What should the loser of the most games have to do for ending up behind?

Any ideas? I would love to have your input on these questions.

A Time for Self-Assessment

Dr. Tanya, at Salted Caramel, asked four questions about blogging.  She calls the questions “retrospective introspection.”  Reading your own work, she says, is sometimes called a form of narcissism but she thinks a better description might be self-evaluation or self-assessment.

With that in mind, I have responded to her questions.

Here are her four questions:

How old is your current blog/website? 

Do you ever look back at your site i.e. read through your old posts?

How long ago did you update your about page ?

If you were to start a new blog today, what would you do differently?

 

And my answers:

I started my blog in October 2014 but never really was consistent in regular posts until last year.

Occasionally I will look back for a particular blog when I am posting again on a similar topic.

Five months ago I updated the picture of me.  I was a redhead and after losing all my hair from cancer I still wore a red wig.  After turning 71 I decided it was time to go with grey so I updated my picture then.

I would be more consistent with my posts.  Since I became more consistent in 2019 my response has been much better – gaining more followers and getting more comments to my posts.  I would engage more with other bloggers.  Since I have started doing that I have made some great friends and have enjoyed hearing/seeing other places/countries and enjoying other viewpoints.

Check our her website at:  https://saltedcaramel670.wordpress.com/

Today is His Last Chance

Those of you who have followed my posts for awhile know that my husband and I are Scrabble addicts.  We play with a super scrabble board.  It has more spaces for words than a regular Scrabble board and 200 tiles instead of 100.

We have kept a record of our scores since 2008 and are very competitive.

winning 3.jpg

 

As we come to the last day of 2019 I am one game ahead of my husband.  He is determined to end this year with a tie between us as we did last year.

So this evening we will play our last game of the year.

If he wins and we end in a tie – all is well.

win.jpg

I did it!

But if I win – I will end the year two games ahead.

winnng 2

Champion!!!!

Of course, you know I’m rooting to win and be the champion for 2019.  However, if the last two games are any indication of how it will go – I’m nervous.   Most of the time our scores are very close but the last two games he has not only won but beat me by over 150 points.  NO!

In our game last night he had three seven-letter words.  For those of you who don’t play Scrabble playing all of your letters in one turn adds 50 extra points to your score.  NO!

The game tonight will be our 829th game since we started keeping scores.  This year we played 136 games.  My husband has figured out that if we play 171 games in 2020 we will reach 1000 games.

So – while I am sure I will at some point today or tomorrow be more serious about goals for 2020 – for now that seems like a worthy goal.

Think we can make it to 1000 games in the coming year?

Think I can win the game tonight and be the champion?

We still see.

For all my readers, Happy New Year!  May the coming year bring you God’s peace and joy!

 

 

 

Where Are the Peace Makers?

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.  

Those words are from Jesus as He spoke to the crowds about what it meant to be a part of the kingdom of God.

Where are the peace makers?

We are so divided as a nation today. So many divisions.

  • Democrat vs. Republican
  • liberal vs conservative
  • Trump is “God’s Anointed” vs Trump is evil
  • CNN’s version of news vs Fox’s version
  • pro-abortion vs. pro-life
  • “We need more gun control” vs. “You ain’t taking my gun!”

These divisions in and of themselves are not wrong.  That has been one of the more amazing benefits of being an American.  Freedom to think – and to speak – as you feel.  May that freedom always be.

But over the past few years there has entered a very ugly element in our conversations.

Growing up in the America of the 50’s and 60’s it seemed to me when people disagreed the attitude toward the other party was basically ‘ “you are wrong, you don’t have all the facts, your logic is faulty .”  But there remained an element of respect for the person with the different opinion.

Today it seems when two sides disagree there is no debate on the reasoning behind the different opinions.  There is no trying to understand where the other person is coming from.

The answer to disagreement now is to call the other person names.  Names that imply the other person is stupid – or even worse – evil.

I grant you when I find myself debating an issue with someone sometimes that thought of “stupid” or “evil” does enter my mind also.

But what bothers  me is how Christians are falling prey to that temptation to call those with whom they disagree names and belittle them instead of debating the actual issues.

I see it so much on Facebook when a controversial post is made.  How quickly the two sides end up not really debating the actual issue itself but saying the other person is “crazy” or “evil.”

What ever happened to the peace makers?

No matter what the “other side” does or says, as Christians we must remember who we claim to follow.

Years ago there was a saying “WWJD”  (what would Jesus do).   It got a little overused, but I wonder if we should not revive it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In the volatile political season coming on us as we enter into the 2020 election, may I ask my fellow Christians please remember that Jesus said the sign of a true disciple was not which side of the political fence they walked, but rather was

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

By all means share your opinions, your ideas, vote as you please, but remember that Jesus died for liberals and conservatives.  He loves Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi both – as much as He loves you!

And also remember Jesus said:
“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

800 Games and Still Counting

If you follow my blog you know my husband and I are avid Scrabble players.  Very competitive, we started keeping a record of the scores of our games in 2008.  We laugh that we are actually addicted to the game.

My Addiction has Returned

Thankfully we are evenly matched.  It would be no fun if one of us was much better than the other.  We go back and forth on winning the games.  Usually we are never more than one or two games apart.  A few years ago my husband actually pushed way ahead of me with a seven game lead.  I was so discouraged as I did not know how I would ever catch up with him again.  (Do you think losing too many games of Scrabble to your husband would be good grounds for a divorce?)

de2.jpg

Some of our kids bought us a Super Scrabble board a few years ago.  The board has more squares to play on and twice the number of letter tiles as the regular Scrabble game.  We have used it so much that it is falling apart.  We have it taped together but have agreed for our Christmas gift we will purchase a new one next month.  We also need a good Scrabble dictionary as our present one is falling apart.

scrabble 3

This week we played our 800th game.  After eleven years that is roughly 73 games a year or 6 games a month.  Since I did not retire until 2013 we are actually playing more games each month now.  Winter finds us playing more games as we hate going out in the snow and cold.  Summer finds us making road trips so the games take a back seat for a few weeks.

When we played that 800th game I was two games ahead of my husband and he was really hoping to win the game.  I beat him and that put me three games ahead for the eleven years we have kept score.

He threatened to never play again.  But he was only joking as I often whine when I get behind more than two games that I do not want to play any more.

In the 800 games played we have actually tied three games.  When I told one friend of how close our games are she felt one of us was just being nice and letting the other one win to keep our scores close.  However, she clearly does not know us.  We are very competitive and would never willingly let the other one win.

scrabble

I am thankful that my husband and I share this common love.  Along with giving us hours of enjoyment, we figure at our age (71 and 79) it may very well help keep our minds sharp.  When we get to 1000 games we are going to have a party! (If we continue at this pace, that means we will be 74 and 82.  Who wants to bet me we will still be going strong in three years?)

de

Do you and your family play board games?

What games do you like?

Are you addicted to any games?

Are you a good loser?  Good winner?

 

 

Idle Words

Reading in Matthew this week with my husband for our devotions I found a statement by Jesus that made me really stop and think about what I say.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken….New International Version.

Other translations speak of idle words, careless words.

The Greek phrase used here means “careless or inactive or unprofitable words.”

I tried to research how many words the average person speaks per day but there are all kinds of conflicting studies on this subject.  It is clear from all of them that most of us do speak thousands of words a day.  There are studies that indicate women talk more than men (at least we are accused of that) but other studies say that is just a myth.  (For all the women who, like me, are often waiting on their husbands who keep talking and talking, we know that is a myth.)

But of those thousands of words I may speak each day, I wonder how many are really helpful to others.

Taking a closer look at my speaking, I ask myself:

  • How often do I truly listen to others speaking to me?
  • How often do I resist the temptation to jump in and offer my opinion when it is not really needed?
  • How often do I wait until the person is done speaking before I respond?
  • How often do I “think before I speak” or do I just blurt out whatever comes to mind without engaging my brain first?
  • Are my words always kind?

When I read the rest of what Jesus said that day on speaking, it makes me want to be more careful when speaking.

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

How about you?  Do you think before you speak?

 

Good Advice from the Apostle John

In our devotion today my husband and I read the New Testament epistle 1 John.  Written by one of the disciples of Jesus the letter is, of course, giving advice about spiritual matters.

However, in light of today’s constant barrage of information from cable news, newspaper and magazines, twitter and Facebook accounts, I find his advice very timely and practical for our daily life.

His words:

My dear friends don’t believe everything you hear.  Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you.  

Oh, that we would all be careful and examine what we hear.  I see many people on Facebook sharing something they see that expresses their own view on a subject and they post it on their wall without ever checking to see who the post was from and if it is accurate.

Then, sadly, people begin repeating things they heard or saw as if it were true.

Let us follow St John’s advice and check for facts behind what we see or hear.

Something my husband says a lot applies here too:

Be careful of listening to half-truths.  You may have heard the wrong half.