Written by the Rev. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
Movie buffs will almost immediately recognize the title phrase as coming from Clint Eastwood in his role as “Dirty Harry” in the movie, “Sudden Impact.” In the movie, the meaning of this phrase was something along the line of, “Go ahead, do something stupid to give me an excuse to retaliate.” Not at all the image or thought I choose to convey in these E-Musings.
Instead, I propose a different thought for “Make My Day.” Maybe it should be, “Make someone’s day?” A little more than three years ago, I wrote one of these E-Musings titled “The Blue Vase.” In this article, I told of a cobalt blue vase we had in our house which, just by its presence, improved its surroundings. It didn’t matter if it contained a beautiful bouquet or a single blossom; or even if it was completely empty. This vase, just by being itself, brightens a room; it helps set a postive mood wherever it is. At that time, I recalled people I knew who were like this vase, those with a personality, a warm and ready smile, those who brighten a room just by walking into it. And I offered that, in my life, I mostly found these among my Christian brothers and sisters.
But sadly, In these recent years, I find this a diminishing presence. Happily, it is not universal, but I do sense a deeper and darker spirit in our world, one in desperate need of a cobalt blue vase. There is a scripture from Isaiah 52:7 which says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things. --” Now this is not a “prosperity gospel” message, but one of hope. For it continues. “—who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” Yet, even among Christians, this message is being suppressed by the negative dialog and culture of the world.
We need more people who are ready and willing to proclaim the “good news” of the gospel of peace; those who know and shout out “Our God reigns!” He has won the victory, and there is no reason for us to go about with long faces, but to become like that cobalt blue vase which brightens the room just by being there.
As I leafed through my notebooks where I have kept copies of past issues of E-Musings and found the original article, and as I was reading it, I began to wonder. “Where is that vase, I haven’t seen it for a while. Did I give it away, surely not?” I went to a cabinet which is high up and mostly out of reach and there it was, a bit dusty, but still the same beautiful and encouraging item I had remembered. I rinsed off the dust, and placed it where I can readily see it as I go through my day, in my going out and coming in. For I have been reminded that I can be an encouragment to someone else, -- the Lord commands me to be an encouragment, to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.
”For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who
died for us, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each
other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thess. 5:9 -11)
As we make our way through this world, it is easy to observe the mass of wrong doing, the evil all around us, and to think, “What can I do? I am only one insignificant person. I have no power to change things.” But you can, we all can. We can speak the truth, God loves you and He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. We have His word, and we Know that He is truth, He is the light of the world. He has overcome.
Therefore, let’s just give it a try. Let’s walk into someone else’s life and brighten their day with truth and hope.Let’s be as a cobalt blue vase in their world. Let’s be Jesus to them and, --- Make THEIR day!
Poem composed by Rhonda Logan-Bailey - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Visual artwork by Rhonda Logan-Bailey
With each Offense, A fence is erected
and the barriers connect, forming a maze
that people get lost in.
Then a thin spot hovers over them,
as Heaven responds to their worship
and forgiveness bleeds through that is
tangible for the taking.
A visible calm spreads outwardly
to freely accept in exchange for the
misunderstandings and injured pride
so safely stowed in secret spaces.
Once His peace is realized,
the pain is reduced and released
without reluctance or residuals remaining.
The calming of His love and forgiveness
instantly fills the void,
destroying the debris of division
and establishing unity and provision.
A manifestation of the move of God
causes the people to roar with praise
echoing throughout Heaven and the Church!
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
We had a heavy frost in our region this past Sunday morning. We knew it was coming. It’s time - almost the middle of October - but it still was a bit of a shock. After all, the daytime temperatures have still been reaching into the 70’s, with a couple exceptions. But for those of us who are winter-deniers, reality has hit us right in the face. It’s time to do all those cleaning out and buttoning up chores which will prepare us and our surrounds for a major change in our activities and perhaps in our moods.
For sure, there are some who embrace the cold and look forward to snow and ice and all that entails. I have known a few of these, but not many. These are otherwise good, level-headed people who have this character flaw which causes them to like snow. I can admit to admiring the first large flakes of snow each year; those which come after I am secure in my home with no place else I have to be. These can be admired when the power remains on and we can be warm and comfy in our surroundings. Yet, I can visualize my snow loving friends scrambling for their snow suits and galoshes, giggling excitedly as they anticipate their venture into this winter wonderland, and I can only feel sorry for these suffering with such a malady.
Yet, I find myself intrigued by these who are eagerly embracing the change in weather and who are exhilarated by its challenges as well as its promises, even as they expect me to be equally enthusiastic as they encourage me into this unwelcoming world. Soon, almost without knowing it, I will have dug out long forgotten winter clothing, bundled myself up in everything I think will keep my warm, and venture out.
Isn’t this the way it is when we try to introduce someone to Christianity? Just telling them about it seldom is sufficient to get them to step into a world unfamiliar to them. Understand, the Gospel doesn’t make sense to them; after all, their world can’t understand the miraculous and the spiritual, the selfless and the sacrificial. Their world teaches a different path for their lives, and a different purpose: one which leans on instant gratification, and expects immediate rewards.
What is difficult to convey to a non-believer is the truth that there is more to life than the immediate. There is another dimension awaiting: one of love and joy and peace, and it is eternal. How can we explain that life begins with death, -- death to self? Life is assured when we yield our lives to the Lord and willingly submit to Him as a slave to a master. How do we share the message of selfless service with those who think the world owes them a living?
The answer is, “we don’t.” We don’t tell them. We show them. Like my friends who may entice me to bundle up and come out to enjoy the snow and the cold, it is in seeing Christians enjoying life, embracing each other, finding purpose in service to one another and to the world. It is in living our lives as examples of how Jesus taught us to live that is most effective in reaching the skeptics and the non-believers. As it has been said, “Christianity is better caught than taught.”
After all, who is going to want to join an organization rife with gloomy members, those seemingly worn down and burnt out? Who wants to embrace a message which begins with “Thou shalt not” rather that to hear and see, love, kindness, compassion, and mercy? No, it is when we demonstrate that “joy in the Lord is our strength,” and with the conviction that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life” that others will want to venture into something different, something new.
Let’s go out and “infect” a few doubters with our enthusiasm and our joy in the Lord.
Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Illustrated by Deana Harvey
I recently read a short book by Bruce Wilkinson – an easy read — called “Secrets of the Vine.” In this book, he talks about meeting a man who owned and worked a vineyard. This vinedresser explained to the author all about John 15, the portion of Scripture in which Jesus portrays Himself as a grapevine and the church as the branches of that vine. The vinedresser had a long conversation with the author to give him some crucial insights into what Jesus was actually talking about and what His portrayals look like in the real life of the church, the Bride of Christ.
I was fascinated by a particular insight shared by the vinedresser in regard to John 15:2. He explained the passage from a vinedresser’s perspective. The verse reads, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (NASB) Some versions use “cuts off” or “takes away” when referring to the branch that does not bear fruit. This is an unfortunate misreading of the original Greek word airos, which actually means “to lift up.” The vinedresser went on to explain that when he discovers a branch that has fallen or been pulled onto the ground, he does not cut it off; it is too valuable. Instead, he lifts it up off the ground, washes off the dirt or mud, and weaves or ties it back into the vine so it can grow in a healthy environment and bear fruit.
In using the proper translation of the Greek word in that sentence, “lifts up,” we see a true picture of our loving Father, who deems each of His children as worthy of being lifted up, cleaned off, and restored to fellowship in the Body of Christ. Sometimes, we get pulled away from the vine; other times we may jump out of it of our own volition. Either way, we end up lying in the dirt of sin and this world. The Lord comes along and gently washes us clean, lifts us up, and restores us to the place of health and fruitfulness. He is always gracious, gently and lovingly restoring us to our proper position in the Body of Christ, and inviting us to join Him in His work by bearing eternal fruit for His Kingdom. Remember: as long as we are walking with our Lord in obedience to His voice, bearing more fruit is always possible.
READ: John 15:1-17; Hebrews 12:5-11
PRAY: Father, thank you for the gracious way You lift me up out of the muck of this world and set me up in a safe, healthy place where I can still grow and bear fruit for Your Kingdom.