Anticipating 2017

“…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” Matthew 6:33a

A bit later than I’d planned but “Happy New Year. Clinging to the old chorus, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you – Allelu, allelujah! This chorus is my prayer for 2017. As you may be aware, Rick and my life changed radically on 9/27/16 when he was admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia for the partial amputation of his right foot. For those of you who don’t know, this was his “good” foot. The other – on which he wears a knee-high brace – had been crushed over 15 years ago in a work accident. Type 2 diabetes is a hard dragon to fight; it takes a total life change but we believed we were up for the battle but then came the REAL bitter pill to swallow… a letter from the state of NJ Temporary Disability Department informing us that he was not eligible for payment as he physically works in PA. We, the human resources depts and payroll depts at his employer were all blindsided! For over three months we have been totally dependent on the faithfulness of the Lord and His children for our support. My social security check covers nothing but our home (lot rent/mortgage). The Lord has been faithful!!

I have been a Christian for over 50 years but such a lesson for me at this advanced stage of my life. I have NO doubts that God is real but minute to minutes trust… for money, now this is something else. There have been times of true humbling, embarrassment, and deep soul searching. So many unknowns to face. Although Rick is healing well, will he ever be able to return to the job he loves?… will he need job training to enter a new field?… will he be able to return to work at all? We have no answers and his surgeon is not willing to even provide a best guess about his returning to employment. We are seeking the Lord with questions about lawyers, disability, insurance… workman’s comp, unemployment, future expenses… total trust is tough!! We are truly needing to “seek Him first” and “learning to lean”.

So, what are my thoughts +/or resolutions for 2017? Simply none! As John Stallings writes, “Learning to lean, learning to lean, I’m learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean on Jesus.” Or the old public domain version, “Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms!” Why do so many of us (maybe you are a quicker leaner than me) have to be thrust into tumultuous times before we simply lean on an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God? In an attempt to be “hip” for my grandchildren… “DUH!”

 Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

 

About the Author:  Pastor Eleanor Jean Gale-Boone lives in southern New Jersey.  The eldest of six children from a close Christian family (50+ in total; 4 generations / country wide), her husband (Rick), her two children (Ed & Diana), “in-loves” (Boomer & Alyssa) and three grandchildren (Mathieu, Emma & Amelia) are her greatest joys in life.  She and her husband attend Stagecoach Road Christian Fellowship in Sewell, New Jersey where she teaches Sunday school and works with VBS. Although she suffers from Post Lyme Disease Syndrome, IBS, Fibromyalgia, and Diabetes – she serves God as He calls her, where He calls her, when He calls her – all in His power and strength.  Through the power of the Spirit of God, she is learning to live in the calling of God to “be available” for Christian women seeking to find the Joy of the Lord in the midst of life’s circumstances. She is a published writer, an accomplished vocalist, a called and ordained Pastoral Counselor, as well as maintaining an on-line encouragement ministry, “A Sister’s Hugs.” This devotional/blog, Pastor El’s Blog, is posted daily on her ministry website and sent from YahooGroups, published as A Sisters Hugs Blog on Blogger.com, Tumbler, WordPress.com, and to Facebook on the page, A Sister’s Hugs Ministries. At the call of God, she has established Kitchen Table Christian Counseling Services; a face to face pastoral counseling service for Christian women struggling with life’s journey. She schedules sessions by appointment out of her home at ejg.boone@yahoo.com. For more information, feel free to visit http://www.asistershugs.org. God willing, she will soon return to seeking her Master’s Degree in Theology and Counseling.

Pray About It

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3: 16, 17

For many years my Mom and Dad cancelled out each other’s votes but they voted. We were raised with the mantra, “One can only complain about those in office if you voted no matter whether for them or against them. Although the New Jersey primary is too late in the political calendar to really count for much AND, even though I think the Electoral College and our primary system are obsolete and seriously outdated, I will vote in the primary. Who I will vote for still remains a mystery to me both in the primary and the general election but I do know who I will not vote for… unless God shows me different.

I don’t understand how God can ask us to support those in office or how the Lord is always in control or how God’s omniscience works but I know how to pray. For that reason, I remain virtually undecided even when being bombarded with news coverage that is constantly offering their opinions. I pray, pray, read the official candidate webpage and then pray some more. It is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out as a Christian without being accused of offending someone; but I pray! I believe that God will find a way to let me know which lever to pull and, I also believe, whichever candidate becomes our next president… God will still be in control – at least ultimate control.

I’m sure each of us can think of a time when God allowed us to have what we were praying for… sometime for our good and sometime not but the choice was ours. Many of you believe as I do; that the U.S.A. is headed on a direct path AWAY from God but don’t believe – for one moment – we can go along for the ride and allow others to make our choices! God didn’t create robots; he created mankind; He created choice! Yet He also longs to hear from us; desires conversation with us; and is waiting to help us make the right choice; even in our vote!

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” Hebrews 13:17

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Indespensable & Indescribable Gifts

Indispensable & Indescribable Gifts 

“On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11 

“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. [Love Is Indispensable] And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” I Corinthians 12:31 

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” II Corinthians 9:15

Five years ago, my mother met Jesus ~ six months ago; my dad joined her! What a GIFT it must have been to her to introduce daddy to Jesus! One month after my mom met Jesus, the Lord ordained a very precious GIFT to me ~ my husband Rick; he in deep love, accepted the GIFTs I offered him ~ four children and two grandchildren. Together, we were to receive two more GIFTs, another daughter and another granddaughter; indispensable and indescribable GIFTs!

Over the five years we have been together, we have received many gifts some of little value and others of great value but not one has been indispensable or indescribable. I believe, just as there is a big difference between happiness and joy, there is a big difference between a GIFT and a gift; a lesson God taught me over the holiday season last year. The gifts of the holiday season have been scaled down a lot at our house and we have prayerfully agreed to place emphasis on our responsibilities to give our children and grandchildren the GIFTs of our legacy.

Just something to think about… There is NOTHING material I need; NOTHING! What I should request is a month’s use of a dumpster. I find it incredible that when many, many Americans are asked “What do you want for Christmas?” ~ The answer is “A gift card to….” I’m wondering, where is the love thoughtfulness in simply exchanging money? My prayer, this Christmas, is that God will continue to show me and mine the value of His Indispensable & Indescribable Gifts.

… God gave each of us a present on that night so long ago.

It’s a Gift that keeps on giving if our spirits can receive.

It’s the secret joy of living if our hearts can just believe.

The Father gave the Son;

The Son gave the Spirit;

The Spirit gives us life

So we can give the Gift of love… and the Gift goes on…

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Where is the Love?

Where is Love?

“The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.” Romans 13:9

In the play “Oliver,” the title character sings the following words. I believe, if I remember correctly, that he is dreaming of finding a mother’s love but, this morning, the lyrics are playing through my mind as I think of brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love in my life, in fact, I am blessed but I have also (as I am sure you can share) been hurt deeply by brothers and sisters in the faith; even those who serve as the shepherds to flocks of Christian sheep. Those who believe they’ve been called by God to serve dirty, smelly, disobedient, adventurous sheep. My heart wonders; do modern day shepherds remember that shepherds also are smelly, dirty, adventurous, and disobedient too? Anyone who has called on God for forgiveness is merely a sinner saved by grace! We are called to love, not sin but others, especially in the family of God. So, today I am wondering where Christian love can truly be found for I am naïve enough to believe that it exists… somewhere!

Where is love? Does it fall from skies above?

Is it underneath the willow tree that I’ve been dreaming of? 

Where is she? Who I close my eyes to see?

Will I ever know that sweet hello, that’s meant for only me?

Who can say where she may hide? Must I travel far and wide?

Till I am beside that someone who I can mean something to?

Where? Where? Is love? 

Every night I kneel and pray, “let tomorrow be the day

When I see the face of someone who I can mean something to?”

Where? Where? Is love? 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Tiniest

Tiniest

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. (…) ‘I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are Mine. (…) If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all that is in it. (…) Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,, and call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me’.” Selected verses from Psalm 50

In the shadow of my Dad’s passing, I have spent hours mulling through memories of the 65 year span of our life together. By far, the positive outweigh the negative but the most precious are his efforts – post retirement – to assure my Mom’s happiness. Wow; could he go overboard … I believe, of the over 2000 bells she cherished, he bought half for her. He dumpster dove for shelves while perusing yard and garage sales for the bells themselves. The same when he saw how much she loved hummingbirds, the yard became a paradise for the tiny birds. Walking into their home, one would hear tales of how many hummingbirds had visited in the last 24 hours.

All birds, but especially hummingbirds, are fascinating creatures; don’t you think? If you can get them to sit still long enough to identify them, you’d notice that they could be annual visitors. Depending on the species, habitat conditions, predators and other factors, including threats to hummingbirds, the average lifespan of a wild hummingbird is 3-12 years. The scriptures remind us that God knows and cares for all nature He spoke into being. Even more amazing, just as my Dad had a desire to see Mom happy, God sees, protects, loves and cares for His children; US ~ you and me! Is that cool or what?

 “Oh, how He loves you and me

Oh, how He loves you and me

He gave His Son, what more could He do?

Oh, how He loves you

Oh, how He loves me

Oh, how He loves you and me!”

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Light

“Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of Light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and will not come into the Light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21 

My grandson is a mess to get up in the morning. He grumbles for at least 10 minutes and when he finally starts to move he wants darkness until AFTER his shower. There are days that I go into the bathroom and he has hung a robe over the small window. Today, as I moved the robe a bright stream of light came in the window and shined directly into our free standing shower. Oh my goodness, could I see the soap buildup in the shower! So, before I left the bathroom, I sprayed it down with foaming bubbles and scrubbed until the shower now shines!

“Light” is an important word in the Bible. It is used to describe the children of God; we all know the passage about being salt and light to the world! We need to allow the light of God to shine out to this dark, dark world. It also uses Light as a descriptive word for God. Just as the sun shined on my shower this morning and enlightened me to the fact that it needed cleaning; the perfect nature of God shines into a world of evil. We are commanded to live in the Light; walking daily with God and serving as a channel of His goodness. We are also told to live as light, to travel through darkness in total transparency and honesty so the world will see the differences in a world without lies and ambiguities. I heard Hell described once as life without the Light of God; can you even imagine how horrendous a world would be NO LIGHT, not even a glimmer of His goodness?

Walking today in the steps of the Savior,

Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;

When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”

Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Stepping in the Light, stepping in the Light,

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Led in paths of light.

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Clean

“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” Psalm 38:18

Yesterday I noticed the same post by two friends. The post was issued by the Cumberland County Board of Health; warning anyone who picked up tomatoes or potatoes along a denoted route number that the vegetables were bad. They were the load in a truck which had overturned, spilling not only its contents but also gas and oil. Everything was contaminated. One questioned lingered for me; why didn’t anyone employed by either the state or the trucking company clean it up??? Instead they allowed it to sit on the side of the road, contaminated, where unknowing people could pick it up and feed it to their families.

Any committed sin that remains unforgiven, if against us, or open ended, if our own, is sort of like those contaminated vegetables sitting by the side of the road. It can fester inside of us causing spiritual, even physical, illness. Even though the sin is forgiven and God remembers it no more, bitter feelings toward or between Christian brothers and sisters can grow into much more. I’ve personally seen it split a church in two. One caution; if the offender has physically threated, damaged, or emotionally injured you – forgiveness doesn’t always include reconciliation. Yet, as the old adage said, “Forgiveness is good for the soul.” With God’s help, clean up any garbage you’ve left along the way!

“Don’t let the devil use your mind as a garbage dump.”

Joyce Meyer

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Rescue

“I will exalt You, Lord, for You lifted me out of the depths (…) You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever.” Psalm 30: 1, 11-12

The local news was on TV a couple of days ago and I watched as a helicopter lifted a man out of a sink hole. Of course, the episode had drawn a crowd and I was drawn to the looks on the faces of the people. Upset turned to hope which turned into concern and, finally, joy. The helicopter crew was meticulous with the rescue and the crowd exuberantly cheered!

Thinking back about three years, I remember another rescue which was quite different. My father (who had no reason to be outside by himself) had taken a walk and fell into an almost dried up drainage ditch. It had been hand dug and wasn’t deep but the fear, pain, and moisture made for a terrifying few hours. His stubbornness had kept him from wearing a notification button and he was alone. Only by the urging of God, my sister stopped to check on him and heard a weak cry. Her husband and a grandson came quickly and using a “hillbilly stretcher” (a wheelbarrow) rescued him.

Being physically rescued is incredible, I’m sure. We’re probably all aware of an accident that someone walked away from, only by a miraculous intervention of God. However, David’s words in Psalm 30 describe times of spiritual and emotional pits; been there, done that! Often, when the clouds darken the sky and I feel like the world is closing in on me, I forget that only God is able to lift me out of the depths! Only He can turn my sackcloth into joy and my wailing into dancing! Then, before I know it, I dig deeper into the depression or dysfunction … aaaarrrrggghhh!

God has NEVER left me alone, NEVER disappointed me, NEVER been unavailable when I called on Him; why do I struggle alone? Sometimes I can be really dumb!

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Wisdom

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

Sometimes I don’t understand those who believe they are wise? I respect education and think a person should continually learn. In my own area of service; theories and physical research change often. There are changes in most areas of service, even in churches. However, how often are we sucked into culturally accepted changes instead of sticking with the Word of God? I wonder!

My sister uses the following example when she speaks to young people”

(Holding out a freshly baked plate of chocolate chip cookies) “I baked a plate of chocolate chip cookies today; who would like one?” Of course, hands fly into the air. “Before you eat them, I think I should share my recipe and tell you my secret ingredient.” Ears open to her words. “After I’ve added all of the recipe ingredients to the bowl, I add just a little bit of chopped dog poop. Not much; just a little bit but I believe it adds a distinct taste.” Gasp. “Seriously, it really isn’t much at all. Let me give them out to those of you who raised your hand.”You can imagine that no hands fly up the second time. She then goes on to explain how most Christians don’t set out to sin; they don’t intend to change their behavioral patterns. However, they find themselves watching, reading, listening, or taking part in behaviors that they would never do in the sight of God! Why? They added something unacceptable into God’s perfect recipe for the Christian life.

“From Heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind.” Psalm 33:13

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

BUT

“They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom He named Israel. When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, He commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To Him you shall bow down and to Him offer sacrifices. These commands He wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is He who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies. Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” II Kings 17:32-39,41

As a teen, I loved MYF. The advisors had been and would be in charge for many years as Mr. Anderson was the wisest, kindest man I’ve ever known. His wife was also a wonderful lady; however, his nature had facilitated her being quite a “spoiled” and amazingly loved wife. I will never forget the business meetings we had at their home. We’d be running along at full speed; planning cook outs, ice cream socials, taffy pulls, (for those of you under 50, yes these were real activities and, believe it or not, a lot of fun) bake sales, talent shows then, invariably, we’d here Mrs. A’s voice, “BUT, Henry.” All planning came to a sudden halt as she explained whatever reason there was that we could not do something we were talking about at all or on the date we were planning. It wasn’t that she didn’t support us, she did… always; it was simply the way it always got silent… immediately!

“BUT” a three letter word that can change the direction of battleships or the plans of young people. A conjunction joining two sentences or thoughts, usually with the first a positive and the second a negative thought. In the above passage concerning the Israelites (God’s chosen people), twice one reads, “They worshiped the Lord.” That’s a positive, really good thing, right? Keep reading! There’s that little word … “BUT” and then an added, negative behavior. Over and over the author reminds the nation that the Lord had commanded, “Do NOT worship other gods.” I wonder how many “BUTS” are there in my life. How many times has the Lord asked me to do something but… . How many times have I made promises to the Lord but… . He has told me to go but… . He has told me to speak but… .

(Breaking the rule above positive/negative) Sure, we live under grace and are not the children of Jacob; BUT we are the children of God.

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org