Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Best Benefit Package of All

It was Christmas evening and we had finished a wonderful dinner at my daughter's home.  My grandson, Brandon, was stretched out comfortably in an easy chair with his feet propped up on the oversize ottoman. Reyna, my six-year-old great-granddaughter, nestled in the crook of his arm, obviously enjoying the security and contentment of being close to her daddy.

Meanwhile, the rest of us pitched in to clear up the dishes. That's when Reyna twisted around to where she could see her grandmother and called out, using the German endearment for grandma, "Oma, thank you for making such a good daddy!" I was amused and touched by Reyna's expression of gratitude for the blessing of her daddy's special love and attention. In her young mind, her grandma was the reason she enjoyed the benefit of a good daddy.

Reyna's comment made me think about how important it is to express my gratitude for the benefits I enjoy. I praise God for the many benefits with which He has blessed me, which include a loving family, provision of all my needs, and a church where I can enjoy God-anointed worship and Bible study. But what if some of these benefits were removed? What if I did not have the resources for some of the necessities of daily life. Suppose I could not worship God or read my Bible openly, as in many countries. Would I still be grateful? Would I still praise God if the benefits I enjoy were restricted or withdrawn entirely?

These days, a chaotic economic environment and forces hostile to our values and beliefs threaten the security of our country and the world around us. Many people are depressed and nearing panic over the changes that are taking place and wonder what the future holds for them. They realize that no matter what benefits are offered by the powers that be, they are subject to being changed or eliminated.

In Psalm 103, I have found some benefits that will not be eliminated. They are not dependent on the whims of those who think they know what is best. They were promised and enacted before the foundation of the world by our Creator. These benefits include forgiveness for ALL our sins, no matter how grievous (v.3); healing and deliverance from destructive bondages inflicted by Satan (v.4); the lovingkindness and mercy of our God (v.4); good things that truly satisfy our body and soul (v.5); a renewal of our body, mind, and spirit (v.5).

As we approach Easter, I thank God for the greatest blessing and benefit of all, the gift of eternal life. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for you and me when He hung on the cross and died for our sins. Have you signed up for the best benefit package of all, one that you can enjoy for all eternity? Have you asked Jesus to come into your heart, forgive your sins, and be your Lord and Savior? If not, won't you ask Him now?

                                                                                                 © Laura Allen Nonemaker

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Imagine It!

This coming Thursday, March 15,  I will do a reading of my children's book, Benny's Angel, as part of the Southwest Florida Reading Festival event at The Alliance for the Arts, Fort Myers, Florida. Each child will have the opportunity to participate with me during the reading, using character puppets. Also, they may make a puppet to take home with them. The Florida Rep will present a children's performance called The Imaginators and the children can join in guided, hands-on art projects with local artists and meet other local children's authors. This family event runs from 4 pm to 6 pm and is free. A $5 donation is suggested. 

Share this with those you know who have children and grandchildren and visit my website at http://godsgarden.tateauthor.com/

Friday, March 2, 2012

Seaside Surrender

The setting was out of a travel brochure, with waves rolling onto the sun-drenched sand, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and seagulls piercing the air with their shrill cries. It was the annual retreat of the women's ministry at Sundial Resort on Sanibel Island. One hundred women from First Assembly of God, Fort Myers gathered last weekend to reflect, refresh, and connect with God..

The theme this year was "Seaside Surrender" and Pastor Connie had prepared a series of teachings that brought us quickly into the center of what God wanted to do in our lives. She used the amazing chambered nautilus shell to demonstrate what God wanted from us this year. First, she showed us the outside of one of these exquisite shells. Then she held up a cross section of the chambered nautilus, which, true to its name, was divided into many compartments, each progressing in a circle towards the outer opening of the shell.

Pastor Connie explained how the inhabitant of the shell begins as a microscopic sea creature. As it grows, a larger chamber is created to accomodate its size. By the time it outgrows one compartment, a larger one has formed and it moves in. This process continues until it is mature.

A unique characteristic of the chambered nautilus is that each time it moves into a new chamber, the previous one is emptied and sealed shut.That means that it cannot move back into its old residence. It must continue to move forward in its spiraling journey toward completion and freedom.

The chambered nautilus holds a valuable lesson. If we stay mired in regret for the mistakes and pain of the past, we cannot experience living fully and successfully in the present. We are prevented from moving on to the next step in our journey to fulfill the call of God on our life.

Isaiah 43:18, 19 says, "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth..." NKJV. Only when we willingly and intentionally surrender the baggage from the past can the Holy Spirit heal our wounded spirits and open up the next "chamber" of our life. Then we are free to move unencumbered toward our destiny in Christ.

As we surrendered our hearts to be cleansed, healed and renewed, God gently moved us to a new place in our walk with Him and we were set free to become the godly handmaidens He desires us to be.

                                                                                       © Laura Allen Nonemaker