Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Guide us waking ..."

It could be 3:00 AM, or any time at all. Is there some kind of schedule they’ve cooked up about which “watch” they’re going to take? If so, Violet generally has first watch and from then on it’s usually a combo with at least Samantha and one other who can always be counted on to be there as well. When one leaves, sure enough: immediately another comes to take her place.

To be restless and unable to sleep, whether with pain or just from wakefulness for no reason you can put your finger on, it is so comforting to know that someone is always there keeping watch with you, keeping watch over you – literally. In my case, I have the ongoing gift of this in the calming, loving eyes of our family of 4 cats. I haven’t been able to figure it out but somehow they know when I am awake, and at least one of them is always awake with me. Routinely when I am in bed wondering why I STILL cannot get to sleep, or get back to sleep, when I open my eyes, the first thing I see is the soothing, loving, golden amber-eyed gaze of Samantha who is awake and looking gently at me. A reach of my hand to stroke her soft fur is immediately rewarded by her deep, reassuring purr. As long as I’m awake, she’s awake, too. Really. There are many nights when we watch through the night together until the sky begins brightening with morning’s first light, opening into the colors of the of sunrise and the new day has begun.

Often I think of a short prayer that is sung during the last evening prayer service (called Compline) where I used to love to go on retreat: “Guide us waking Oh Lord, and guard us sleeping; That awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.” There are so many Biblical references from which this can be drawn that I cannot list them all here, or it would consume the rest of my article. But all of us have the ongoing reassurance that we are NEVER alone, that the Lord “gives his angels charge over us” (from one of my favorite psalms, 91), that His Spirit never leaves us, is there to comfort us and give us peace. In our home, especially through long dark nights, our cats are one basic and physical reminder for me of the larger and real spiritual certainty that we are never isolated, that God is always present with us to soothe and strengthen us – whether we are awake or asleep. We are surrounded by and dwell within His peace.

So, what about when we’re awake? Ah. That’s part of what the fellowship of all of us in the Body of Christ is about. There is a simple song entitled “I will be Christ to you” which spells out how in every kind of way, large and small, anonymous or face to face, in which we are to participate in the *waking* part of being present and ministering Jesus to others – to “be Christ” to them. “I’ll be His hands, to do what I can; because He has loved me too…I will be Christ to you.” It by no means indicates that somehow the abiding power of the Holy Spirit is only a nocturnal thing and we’re on our own in the day time. No, this is about how, in living a life of obedience, yoking ourselves with Christ, we can participate actively and meaningfully in the work of the Spirit in assisting others. It is a joyful and deeply satisfying thing to get beyond our own lives, our own needs, issues and situations, to use whatever gifts God has given us to “be Christ” to others: to show love, to provide comfort and assistance in real and tangible ways to and for them.

You may think these are nice words, but wonder how do you do this in real life? This is about living a generously Jesus-centered life, ladling oneself out to others in even the smallest ways (perhaps small to you – to those on the receiving end, you never know when it may be a life-line of hope) kind words of appreciation, a warm smile when you aren’t necessarily “feeling like it”, mercy and compassion to others as in giving them the benefit of a doubt, or not retaliating when someone has been unkind, going out of your way just a little bit to do something unexpected for someone else, re-evaluating what is really important, re-aligning your priorities and giving more of the finances God has entrusted to you are a few of the basic yet often most challenging ways of helping others in “being Christ” to them, in participating in the work of the Holy Spirit. They are also the most powerful ways of renewing yourself, discovering that deep “peace that passes all understanding” and reaping a harvest of true and bountiful joy in your life as a result. October is really the time of a kind of renewal. We think the leaves are dying as they lose their spring and summer green. Actually, you are seeing their true colors in the vivid gold, red and rich hues which are otherwise hidden by the green chlorophyll they bear the rest of the year.

This October, why not take on the challenge of this same renewal for yourself in being Christ to others. Open your heart and join in asking the Lord to “Guide us waking” and know that your reward in the here and now will be much more rich than you can possibly imagine :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do You Realize Who You Really Are?

How have you been doing with that taking time for quiet concept from last month’s “Nugget”? About taking “time to spend talking with Jesus and, even more importantly, listening to what He has to say about your priorities.” What would He have you do for yourself and others?”

Apparently I haven’t been doing so well with this myself. Because things have been so hectic, I was convinced this article you’re reading right now was for September. Think for a second and if your mind is telling you, so, what’s wrong with that? Well, the answer is, it’s AUGUST. It’s still summer! In fact, I’ll confess further and tell you I’ve been going around with a broken back tooth hoping it will stay intact until I can find time to get a dental appointment. I thought I could super-glue it back together but phooey, no, it would not cooperate. Oh so NOT good with the self-care thing. The days have been filled with just too many other appointments and errands and things.

My mantra of late has been “I’ve just got to choose my battles…I can’t do everything…there will be time later” [not that I literally think of tasks etc. as *battles*…just an expression] and say a quick prayer that the important things will get done. So, folks, how have you been doing with this quietness and taking time to pray and listen about your own priorities yourself? Well, the good news is it’s August! Still lemonade and iced tea time. Time to reframe and look toward the fall and how you feel the Lord would have you direct your ways. Time to build that habit of daily quietness. For me, time to RE-build that habit. I used to have it on a daily basis (when I was commuting) but for many reasons lately it’s sometimes a “lick and a promise” moment or two and a few hasty conversations with the Lord throughout the day. Other days I am grateful to have a whole chunk of time to just be in His presence and in the Word for more than just a few minutes.

Have you noticed that the lightning bugs, the joyful little lanterns that sparkle in the evening air seemed to have arrived earlier this year than usual? Perhaps that’s what’s pushed my thinking toward fall more quickly than otherwise. Plus, there is that whole planning thing about music and the upcoming return to our regular schedule in September. I’d like to sketch out for you a brief set of ideas as you think about the gifts God has given you and how He may well be directing you to using them. It’s really more like a few ideas which all have the same thing in common: rejoining and rebuilding the family, reconnecting, and why it’s such a vitally important process in which to be involved in our church community.

First is the scripture from Matthew 9:37-38 which has been just smoldering in my thoughts about this coming fall along with a song by Curtis Mayfield and the title of a book by Alice Walker। First the scripture: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” This is the anthem for where we are in our society, don’t you think? If you haven’t heard this startling statistic before now, prepare to be stunned. Our town of Penacook, NH is not only the fastest growing community in the state of NH, but in the entire United States of America. Now, all these people need to be going to church somewhere nearby…॥why not The United Church of Penacook? Not meaning to be redundant because you know I’ve said it before, but, if they don’t hear about our church from you, how will they know it’s a fabulous place to call home?

The Curtis Mayfield song that loops through my mind about this has the lyrics, “People get ready, there’s a train a-coming. You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board. All you need is faith to hear the diesel hummin’. You don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord”. Once again, who is meant to tell people about this marvelous train….the United Church of Penacook? Well, my friends, that’d be YOU. And just in case you’re still waiting for someone, anyone, whoever it is that’s just got to be on their way to do this spreading the news, inviting the people, bringing the people, teaching the Sunday School, being on committees, coming to church, working in the ministries, well, in the words of Alice Walker’s book title: We’re the Ones We Have Been Waiting For. Actually, the title of this book comes from a poem by the late June Jordan. In context it’s, “Do you realize who you really are? We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

So my friends, do YOU realize who you really are? You are most precious, gifted, marvelous and wonderful. You are gifts to the church and to everyone else. You have been given talents you may not even realize or ones you’ve let rest too long. But please ponder this in the quiet times of listening about how Jesus would have you organize your priorities not only for the benefit of the community, but for you own fulfillment and most of all joy! Just so you’re not too overwhelmed by all this, here’s something to make you smile about changes. Life going forward means things change! Yes, it’s another book but you don’t even need to read it to *get* it: Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers: Ministry Anywhere, Anytime by Anyone by William M. Easum about ministry in churches struggling to grow but burdened down with the “this is the way it’s always been done.” Fear not, though. I’m not talking about electric guitars and drums in the sanctuary (choir members, you can now let go of the worried breath you just took).

Rejoice! It’s August. Yes, fall is coming but summer’s still here. Time for that extra sit down, sip that lemonade or iced tea. Listen and chat with the Lord about the upcoming fall and the “train” of The United Church of Penacook getting ready to board, moving again in its regular schedule and the harvest needing workers. So, do you realize who you really are? Why, we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for!

OH! What You are Missing...!

It was an ordinary Tuesday early evening, around 5:20. Just when you’d think people would be at home from work, getting ready for dinner or eating it, relaxing, catching the news on TV, doing homework, hanging out, doing chores, or just being home and glad the day was over. But no, not these people. They came individually or by couples as adults, or a group of two or three kids at a time. Men and women in their twenties, thirties, the nebulous forties-fifties, the older gray haired folks as well as teens. People dressed as through they’d just come from work as well as those dressed very casually. The kids were generally in jeans…but neat and well groomed. Everyone seemed genuinely glad to be there with one another, and in the peace of the place.
When they’d arrive, you’d see them step over to other people they knew and warmly greet them with a hug, brief conversation, or just a hand on the shoulder as they’d pass on their way. And they kept coming. Only a few who came in just solitarily took a seat.
I was amazed, simply stunned at their numbers. What would bring so many here at 5:30 on a Tuesday, an ordinary, nothing special Tuesday? It surely wasn’t up-beat, contemporary music because there wasn’t any music at all. It wasn’t a charismatic, magnetic, supercharged dynamic speaker that drew them because the man who spoke, while expressive, was quietly mild mannered and had a rather thick Italian (or perhaps Spanish) accent. While I didn’t actually count the number of people, there must have been a few more than 50 altogether. On an ordinary Tuesday evening at 5:30.
Okay. You may have guessed by now and if you haven’t, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer J This was a church. Not a special service, but a regularly occurring service at a church in Concord. It was an evening when a little earlier, after an appointment, I had so wished there was a church which was open nearby just so I could be in a service of worship and quiet. Poof! I happened to be driving right by Sacred Heart church and there on the sign it said they had services at 5:30 on Monday and Tuesday night. Wow! I wheeled my car over with a quick prayer of thanks and that’s how I happened to be there myself.
What’s my point in all this? Clearly these are people who LOVE their church, love one another, and love God. They didn’t have to be there….I checked. It wasn’t any day of “obligation” and it didn’t “count” as Sunday worship. It was clearly something for THEM. Know what? I happened to be out after a similar appointment on a Monday evening at the same time and I stopped in for a service and saw/experienced the same thing with the same kind of numbers again. Know what else? It’s the SAME thing I see among those of you who attend our church on Sundays! So many of you have come up to me or said to me on the phone that even sometimes when you don’t feel like getting up and coming to church, you leave feeling so glad you came. That the week just doesn’t “go right” if you miss church and the fellowship of everyone there. But for those of you who don’t keep the covenant of the “Statement of Faith” in the back of our hymnal which surely doesn’t say we *must* come to church, OH what you are missing if you don’t attend! The warmth, the fellowship, the peace which you just can’t find anyplace, else no matter how much you may enjoy being outdoors. Not to mention hearing the Word of God and maybe getting a different and helpful perspective on a difficult situation you’re dealing with, and being with people who deeply care about you. It’s a family of faith you can count on being there for you in celebration as well as helping you through times of sorrow.
But my friends, I’m worried. I’m concerned about the very human tendency of taking for granted that “Oh it’ll always be there when I want or need it” and are instead lured into thinking that the hour and a half (max) is just TOO much to take out of your Sunday recreation. OH what you are missing! But here’s something else you may not know. YOU are missed, as well! We are diminished by more than just the numbers of those of you who choose to do something else beside come to church on Sunday (except when you are ill or convalescing, or away on vacation and worshipping wherever you are). Our fellowship and morale is eroded by this ominous feeling that something is amiss when you are not here. We are a family, dear people. Connected to one another whether present or not. The days are growing shorter and darker, and the wind is getting sharp and cold. If you have been among the missing, come home! Come back to the table and be enfolded in the warmth our church is so famous for. Because OH what you are missing! And OH how you are missed! Plus, we have music you enjoy singing and the preaching is pretty lively, too :-)

The Ninety - Nine Dollar Montblanc Pen

The currency of credibility. Oh my goodness. There I was in my $13.00 navy blue wool Pendleton suit from the consignment store staring at this expensive instrument which held the ability to wordlessly let other professionals know that I was…um….I don’t know precisely, but that I and the counseling agency I had recently established was just that. Established.
Our suite of offices was next door to an office supply store where I had first asked for onion skin paper. You know, well, some of you do who are old enough to have learned to type using that thin paper you put with a sheet of carbon paper when you needed to have a copy of what you were writing. When I’d made the request for onion skin and a package of carbon paper, the young woman waiting on me confusedly asked, “You want what?” and a nice gray haired lady came right over and told her she knew exactly what I meant and that she thought there might be some in the basement. Soon she appeared with a dusty ream of onion skin and packet of carbon paper for me and knowingly said with a smile, “Not in the market for a photocopier yet, right?” In October of 1988, with lots of prayer, faith, and a dollop of desperation, I’d put my entire savings account of $3000.00 on the line to start up a Christian mental health full service out-patient clinic in Manchester, NH (complete with phones, business account, stationery, furnishings, lease with room to grow as we’d add counselors, and all the things needed to run a credible professional enterprise) and no way was a photocopier nor even a secretary anywhere in the cards for us yet. But there I was, visiting this Mont Blanc pen every week at the office supply store because the lady who knew about onion skin paper said one of these days it’d be going on sale.
You need to know I was NOT trying to *impress* anybody with this fancy pen. It’s just that in every negotiation I’d been in as the Assistant Director of another mental health clinic, all the important contracts with hospitals and psychiatrists were signed by key people holding these quietly dignified black pens with the all-important white logo on the top. When I participated in negotiating/mediating these big meetings, I could see the eyes around the room silently taking in who had these pens of power and who did not. Those who didn’t were treated politely and then more or less dismissed as not being in the right “club” to do business with or qualified to offer services for their organizations. Pretty stupid, right? But that’s how it was, and if I was going to play in the big leagues, I’d have to have the credibility to get the meetings I needed to present what our clinic had to offer. So I started saving up in a special account for that important pen. Good thing all the meetings were inside and I didn’t need to have a Mercedes!
At that time Catholic Medical Center (big hospital in Manchester) only had an “in-house” Employee Assistance Program. This meant any time an employee needed to talk with or be assessed by a counselor, they had to go through a particular door in the hospital where everybody knew why they were there. Not very conducive for effective utilization of these services, especially by those who needed them the most. I was positive our clinic could administer and provide quality services within the format of an affordable off-premises Employee Assistance Program and after tons of research, I wrote a proposal to do just that. Now I just needed that pen. Yes, it went on sale and I plunked down my $99.00 and the rest is history. Brookhaven Christian Counselors won the contract for this historic change in Catholic Medical Center’s policy and a successful off-site Employee Assistance Program built from a “loaves and fishes” philosophy (how we ran our agency) of economy was born.
Loaves and fishes. Know the story? In Mark 6:34-44 you can read about how Jesus, though it was late, wanted all the people who’d been there on the hillside listening to His teachings (food for the soul) to be fed (food for the body) before they left. His disciples were appalled saying it would take 8 months of a man’s wages to do that. Undaunted, with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, and the amazing multiplication factor of faith, 5000 people were well fed with baskets of food left over.
In the 14 years our counseling center was open, thousands of people from more than 54 cities and towns in 3 different states and every possible denomination (and non-denomination, or no particular faith at all) received help at below “market” prices, with or without insurance, hundreds of hours of which were given for free. From day 1 until the last day of operation, a Bible in our waiting room was always open to Psalm 91, as this psalm together with the “loaves and fishes” philosophy formed the cornerstone of our organization. Our staff did not become financially affluent (no Mercedes), but were compensated very well, were fulfilled and happy, and had health and dental insurance and several other perks also.
Our first fruits of income always went to the Lord (regardless of what the numbers were on the stack of bills….that’s where the “loaves and fishes” economy came in, rooted together in our belief in God’s continued promises of protection of us in Psalm 91), next came our staff compensation [salaries and benefits], responsibilities paid to our creditors, and a portion of the last to the Director (that’d be me) and I prospered as well. Oh…and we did progress to having a photocopier, fax machine and computers along the way, too.
Psalm 91 and the “loaves and fishes” economic philosophy is central to how Pastor John and I live our personal lives as well. We sacrifice much, tithe and give more, and are very blessed. A couple of weeks ago I told everyone in the congregation that we’re all on the “Stewardship Committee” in that we’re all responsible and accountable for our church and its ministries, not just some of us. The Bible doesn’t tell us to SELECT which of our talents we’re to give back from (time, money or personal abilities), but to give from all these areas, including our ongoing, consistent presence, fellowship and worship together! After all, everything we have is from God, even ourselves: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17); “You are not your own, you are bought with a price.” (1Cor 6:19).
The Lord intends that we are to be life-long generous managers of His resources, as our “giving” in every way is part of how we worship God. As you prayerfully contemplate our upcoming Faith Promise commitment as well as our Capital Fund Campaign, I encourage you to stretch your thoughts around the “loaves and fishes” concept and steep yourself in Psalm 91. Think about how to increase your gifts back to the Lord from the storehouse of what He has given you. Challenge yourself and step out in faith. I can testify with my life and life’s work that the Lord will not let you down when you keep Him first in your life. Recently I read this phrase somewhere: “The possibilities are endless when the people of God use their resources in a godly manner. Utterly unstoppable momentum”. Think of it! Amen.

A Cat Tale Everyone Needs to Read!

Oh no! How can it be that my sweet Samantha cat, my own dear blue-gray cat with the huge crystal amber eyes we raised from a teeny kitten (together with her even younger sister Violet), my loving, dear, affectionate cat is……HISSING. Yes, hisssssing. Meanly. How is this possible! As are all our “tribe” of cats and a dog, she’s adopted and a loving member of our family. The object of her bad behavior, though, was our newest cat, a handsome loving male named Jazz, whom we integrated into our family. He is such a dear cat, so laid back, doesn’t rush to get in front of anybody else trying to guzzle from the food bowl or grab a drink of water. He always waits his turn….which is usually last of all. But he does it so calmly and gently! No trying to hurry anybody up or get in their way. It was clear from the start that he watched from the background to get the lay of the land and adapted to the particular protocol, or “cat-i-tude” of our felines in the household. And patient? Jazz is the most “longsuffering” cat we’ve ever seen. When hissed at and we rush to comfort him and scold the offending hisser, he looks at us as if to say, “don’t worry about it…..I’ve been through this before… things will get better”.
But things DIDN’T get better. Well, things were relaxed so long as Samantha and Jazz (a handsome part Bengal cat with the sweetest disposition) were not in the same room, and then not on the same couch or bed. But I could tell that Jazz was becoming frustrated. He wanted everybody to be friends but he clearly didn’t know how to *be* in this household. He’d tried being quiet and the “give them space” mode, and STILL got hissed at. Then he tried the ultimate “show them they can trust me and I can be vulnerable” move which was astonishing to watch. In front of a conflicted and well, nasty acting Samantha, I witnessed Jazz perform the act which is the ultimate in vulnerability among both cats and dogs (and wolves). He slowly lay down near Samantha, with eyes averted in a submissive manner and rolled over to expose his vulnerable soft neck. Samantha’s eyes got even wider than usual and I dared to think things would be lovely from here on out. Wrong. She watched Jazz perform this exercise in vulnerability and trust and waited two or three beats…..before she HISSED at him again with wild eyes and ran off.
Next, Jazz went through a time of hissing at Samantha (can you blame him?) because I think he felt maybe the vulnerability move he’d done caused her to lose what little respect she’d had. Ah, well, this didn’t work either. With both cats and people, hissing is never a good thing. I’m happy to report that FINALLY, perhaps due to being in closer quarters on vacation, or realizing that when it comes to traveling they’re all in this together, but there is no hissing and at least d├ętente on Samantha’s part. There is improvement every day toward a happy relationship together.
This got me thinking about our church. Are you a “Jazz”, laid back but also maybe allowing others to mistreat brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps even making excuses for them (like, “oh that’s just how so-and-so is”) regardless of how hurtful their comments might be, or are you sometimes how Samantha was….hissing in your own way at others and being far less than how Christ would have you be?
As September begins and we resume our regular schedule, it’s a good time to take stock and think about what the Bible says about how to be encouragers to one another, instead of those who might participate in tearing people down…even by standing silently by. Here are some scriptures to assist in sharing how the Lord would have us all be with one another: “Therefore encourage one another and built up one another…” 1 Thess. 5:6. “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the things of building up of one another.” Romans 14:9 “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” Romans 15:2 and “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
What we can learn first hand from our animals! This year why not look more deeply in your Bible ( your “owner’s manual” for living life) and practice what you see as encouraging, edifying behavior and words which build up others…..and will make your life more satisfying, too!
From the latest mailing from the Pat Brody Shelter for Cats: Live simply. “Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And leave the rest to God.” Amen!

Trust God

Every vacation comes with its own adventures. For PJ and I, though, we often have “adventures” in the process of getting to the vacation part. This summer was no exception.
Because the beginning of this story is a bit “indelicate” in nature, I hesitated to write about it except that the lesson in it is so profound। And, after all, if anyone has ever had a child, cared for a baby for any length of a time, is related to one or friends with someone with one, you’d be familiar with this concept. So that pretty much makes this universal.

We are grateful that the cottage we rent by the ocean allows us to bring our entire “tribe” of 4 cats and 1 dog। The cats ride in three carriers with me (an immense one for 2 cats and regular size units for the other two). This is the second summer of bringing our marvelous cat Jazz with us. Those of you who’ve met him know he still has a wildness about him in appearance and nature, yet he’s not “feral” or antisocial. He is affectionate, polite and has an amazing quiet sense of “catiquette” in dealing with his three adopted female feline siblings. He is a total gentleman, very proud, yet retains that certain wildness which makes us even more thankful that he chooses to make us his family.

So, the cars were loaded and the carriers stacked in their usual configuration on the passenger side, easy for me to talk to the cats and reassure them with a finger through a vent holes now and then। We made marvelous progress to the ocean with good timing and little traffic. Despite some cat conversation on the way, we seemed to be doing very well. Pretty soon we were near bays of the ocean where the tide was out with its unique, strong and not particularly pleasant “the tide’s out” smell, with some other overtone to it I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Yet after passing these areas, the smell persisted and I detected another distinctly feline aroma – even more unpleasant. No - it couldn’t be. Well, nothing to do about it now and the cats appeared to be calm in their carriers.

I called PJ in the car ahead of me to alert him of our “situation” and we devised a plan for me to quickly bring Jazz’s carrier (his was the source of the foul smelling problem) directly into the bathroom of the cottage immediately upon arrival।

Wow, I felt so badly for Jazz and couldn’t understand the reason behind his dilemma। I dashed his carrier into the bathroom, stopping only to grab a roll of soft paper towels and closed the door behind us. Zipping open his carrier and lifting him out, I saw what can only be described by those who are acquainted with babies, something similar to the results of the amazing exploding diaper. The poor cat. He was cooperating, but just barely as I held him with his hind legs resting on the sink while I ran the water to a comfortable temperature. Soothing him the best I could, he was not a happy camper and a complete mess from his hind legs, private parts and tail. Talking reassuringly the whole time, I was doing my best to clean him with wet paper towels, washing where I could reach and dabbing discretely in his more sensitive areas.

This was just not working। It was doing a slow bit of good, but I really needed to bathe the entire bottom half of the cat and gently hand wash his most personal areas. I knew he realized what I was thinking and his expression clearly told me he was not in favor of this idea. But truly, it was in his best interest. So, I stopped the entire process and, with his hind feet still comfortably on the sink edge, I looked him in the eye and gently but firmly (with a lot of hope) said two words: “Trust me”. INSTANTLY everything changed. His look met mine and he stopped squirming to let me do what was necessary and to his benefit. I knew he wasn’t enjoying the process, but he had completely relinquished control to me. This was not resignation nor giving up, but a choice on his part - a deliberate choice made while we were looking intently into one another’s eyes when I said “Trust me” and he elected to do so.

This story has a happy ending and rather quickly Jazz was a clean, sweet smelling and toweled dry cat. Afterward, he was very attentive to me and extra affectionate as if to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you”. My friends, how similar this is to our own wrestling between doing things our way and relinquishing our will to God, to trusting Him. In John 14:1 Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” There are countless other scriptures about trusting God, but I would leave you with this challenge. September is a time of new beginnings. Why not make this a time you intentionally, consistently, prayerfully decide in every instance where a decision is to be made to trust the Lord and do it His way. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).