Change the Channel

Last week Sunday, I was among the 99.9 million people who tuned in to watch Super Bowl LIV (54). To be honest, it was the first NFL football game that I had watched all season. I’m not what you would call a die-hard football fan. Super Bowl Sunday at our house is really just a reason to have some friends over, enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious food, and partake in a tradition of watching the big game. As far as I could tell, with my limited knowledge and feeble opinion, it was a good game. The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers and I enjoyed our evening of festivities. We had lots of laughs, some lively discussions, and full bellies. But as our guests headed for home and I cleaned up around the house, I had one regret. (Well, two, if you count the number of cheeseballs I ate!) In years past, we have enjoyed watching the eccentrics of the halftime shows; the smoke, the lights, the glitz and glamour, and marveled at the time and energy it takes to produce such a display. But this year, I wished we had changed the channel.

Change the channel. This is a phrase that has been looping through my mind like an instant replay. When I was a youngster, we had the pleasure of watching television on a large wooden console with alien-like antenna poking out the top, and a variety of channels to choose from; two, to be exact. Our family would gather around the television to watch shows like the Dukes of Hazard or Full House or Lawrence Welk, and we actually watched the advertisements during the commercial breaks or used that time to run to the bathroom or get a snack. But at the conclusion of a show, if Mom or Dad didn’t care for the program that was airing next, they would say, “Change the channel.” We didn’t have a remote control that could change the broadcast at the push of a button, it took effort to get up off the couch, walk across the room, and turn the knob. We often joked that the only reason parents had children was so they would have someone to change the channel on the TV.

In the world we live in, we are flooded with channel choices. Currently, my cable tv package includes over 95 channels and more than a dozen stations are programmed on my car radio. Choosing what channel we play on the radio or watch on television is an important decision. But choosing what channel we play in our mind is of even greater importance.

Like the two-option television of my childhood, there are two basic channels that broadcast in our minds. Not Channel “11” or “13”, but the channels known as “Positive” and “Negative”. Moses presented the channel choice to the Israelites this way: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)  Paul presents a different view of the same choice: “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)  And Jesus’ entire ministry was about changing the channel: love your enemies, instead of hating them; don’t count offenses, but forgive those who hurt you; serve other people instead of worrying about who is serving you; don’t get revenge, turn the other cheek; consider yourself blessed when people insult you… All of these and more, require a change in our thinking and changing our thinking requires effort.

So what channel is your mind playing? Is it a channel of negativity, self-hatred, destruction, and death? Or is it a channel filled with things that are positive, pure, excellent, and praiseworthy? The choice is yours. Change the channel.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Fully Dressed

I have never been much of a fashionista. Rarely will I swap comfort for style. Labels and name brands mean little to me unless my experience has confirmed that a particular brand is superior in fit and quality. I grew up on hand-me-downs, clearance aisles, rummage sales, Goodwill bargains, and made-by-mom originals. I was clothed, but not in designer threads or the latest and greatest.

When I was about 10 years old, my brother and I were invited to a movie on the big screen for the first time. It was a film about Annie, a spirited, ragamuffin orphan from New York City who was invited to live for a week with America’s richest billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Annie travels to Warbucks mansion and his staff lavishes her with love and adoration and a wardrobe full of new clothes. But while Annie is basking in the delight of a new way of life, the film cuts to a scene of her friends back at the orphanage, dressed in their drab duds, joyfully singing, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

I liked the sounds of that. The perfect accessory to any outfit. No matter what style or brand of clothing I was wearing, whether I was dressed like the rich kid or the pauper, I could always add a smile!

But the Bible tells us about another go-with-everything garment. In Colossians 3, Paul compares our new life in Christ to a new wardrobe. The Message paraphrase reads like this: 9-11 “Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it!”

LOVE! It’s your perfect all-purpose garment. It goes with everything! And no person, especially no follower of Christ, is every fully clothed without it.

Paul also tells us about some things that we need to get rid of. We don’t have room for a new wardrobe if the closet and dressers are still filled with the old.  1-2 “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.  3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.  5-9 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.”

Are you ready to make some changes to your wardrobe? Don’t delay. Christ’s designer attire is the perfect fit for you.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Train the Younger Women

Last week marked the end of an era. What began November 7, 1955 came to a close December 2, 2019. For 64 years, the Esther Circle has been part of the Women’s Ministry at ARC. According to church records, the Esther Circle began with almost 100% participation from the women of the church. That number has dwindled to less than 4% in recent years and now stands at zero. For a variety of reasons, the current members are unable to continue.

I became a part of the Esther Circle 23 years ago. I was not contemplating joining a Circle. I certainly wasn’t looking to connect with a group of ladies who were all old enough to be my mother or grandmother. I definitely didn’t have extra time on my hands. I was a busy young mother with a one year old, a four year old, and a half dozen other children running around my ankles at my in-home daycare. Maybe I was just desperate for adult conversation, but one of the women in the group stopped me on a Sunday morning and extended an invitation. As we talked, it turned out to be a mistaken invitation. She thought I was someone that I was not, but continued her invitation regardless. I accepted.

The following night, I received a warm welcome as I gathered around the table with the Esther Circle. I don’t remember what portion of the Bible we studied that first night. I don’t even remember who was all present. But I remember thinking to myself that these women were survivors. They had made it; made it through mountains of diapers (that weren’t even of the disposable variety), made it through years of cooking in quantities that I can’t even imagine, made it through laundry that was done without modern conveniences, made it through struggles and heartaches and woes that my generation has only read about. They had experienced a multitude of battles and stood firm. And maybe, just maybe, if I stuck close to them and paid attention, I could glean from their wisdom and I might be able to stand firm and survive as well.

The meeting was filled with conversation, reading scripture, discussion questions, sharing of celebrations and concerns, and I could sense a genuine love around the table. At the close of the evening, the ladies bowed their heads in a circle of prayer, calling out to God for the needs of one another and their church family. And I knew that it wasn’t the elderly lady who had invited me, it was my Father in heaven who knew exactly where I needed to be at that time in my life.

During the Esther Circle’s final gathering, we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Bluestem, shared Christmas cards with our prayer partners, reminisced on years gone by, and again closed the evening with a circle of prayer. As each woman took a turn to lift her voice to heaven, I recalled moments from the past when we interceded on her behalf… prayers for surgeries, heart problems, cancer, new babies, broken hearts, grief, divorce, deployments, floods, fires, fractured relationships, illness, and disasters. And through it all, God has been faithful and we survived and learned to enjoy the abundant life in the midst of our struggles.

The apostle Paul must have known something about having godly role models, passing on the faith and helping one another withstand the pressures of this life. He writes to his friend: “Teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

I have learned much from the older women in my life and I appreciate their friendship greatly. May each of us take seriously what we are passing on to the next generation and do so for the glory of God.

Erin Jacobsma

 


His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Repetition. The process of repeating something over and over. There is great value in repetition. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that children learn to master a skill through repetition. It’s why they have homework sheets, quizzes, and practice tests before the real test is given. Repetition increases confidence and strengthens connections in the brain. It helps transition a skill or knowledge from the conscious to the subconscious. This is why we ask the children in Pioneer Club to write down their memory verses five times. This is why school teachers used to implement disciplinary tactics of having students write out 50 times, “I will not talk during class”. I believe this is also the reason behind the writing of Psalm 136. Repetition helps us remember.

We do not know the author of this psalm, but twenty-six times they repeat the words “his steadfast love endures forever.” It seems to me that maybe they needed to give themselves a reminder. Maybe the author was a young mom, bogged down by the continual pile of soiled diapers and dirty laundry. Perhaps these words were penned by a middle aged man, feeling the heaviness of life, tired of the rat race, and questioning the goodness of anything. Or could the psalmist have been a stressed out teenager, a depressed addict, a grieving widow, or a dying saint. I’m guessing whoever they were, they might have been in a bit of a funk, a pit of despair, or just down in the dumps. Yet they recognized their need to remember; to repeat what they already knew.

I need to remember. I grab a notebook and begin writing out the ancient words. Timeless words.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;

The psalm moves from declaring God’s love throughout creation, to recounting God’s salvation and preservation of his people. As I duplicate the biblical text in my notebook, I am convicted to remember my own story.

Here are a few of my own stanzas of gratitude: Give thanks…

To him who formed me in my mother’s womb, black hair and double chin; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who picked up the pieces of sticks and stones and words that hurt; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who accompanied me through the minefield of school hallways; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who sat at meetings with police officers and principals; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who picked me up from pride’s fall; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who helps abstract my foot from my mouth; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who breaks the chains of fear and anxiety and sets me free; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who bottles my tears and holds me tight; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who gives and takes away; his steadfast love endures forever

To him who saves me from myself; his steadfast love endures forever.

To him who loves me too much to leave me as I am; his steadfast love endures forever

I challenge you to repeat your own story and remember and give thanks. 26“Give thanks to the God of heaven, FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.”

Erin Jacobsma

 


Everything Beautiful In Its Time

Daylight Savings Time has recently come to pass, and I think my body is finally reset to the time change. However, I still find myself thinking, “It can’t be that time already.” Who would guess that adjusting a clock by 60 minutes would make such a difference.

Time has been a recurring theme in my conversations. That usually means God is standing at the great chalkboard of life, ready to teach me a lesson, and I should sit up and pay attention. During Wednesday’s Pioneer Club, my 5th and 6th grade girls interviewed an older couple and asked them about their life. Repeatedly, they mentioned that they were grateful for the extra time they have in retirement to spend with their grandkids, but wished they had spent more time with their kids. They also acknowledged their time on earth is probably short compared to the students in the room, although none of us knows how much time we really have left. They also shared how it takes more time to do certain chores or activities at their age than it did when they were younger.

Other timely conversations this week have regarded the need for better time management, how to cut back on time wasters, and making time for the things that matter. And time clichés have been resounding like a grandfather clock in a silent room… time flies, time is money, only time will tell, it’s just a matter of time, once upon a time, all the time in the world, it’s about time, time is of the essence, time out…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a well-known scripture passage regarding time. The writer declares: “1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

But my favorite declaration of time comes in verse eleven. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Someone confessed to me this week that they hate this time of year. The crops are mostly out, the trees have dropped the majority of their leaves, the flowers no longer bloom, and everything just looks   dead and dreary and lifeless. Yet I have seen the beauty of a full moon in the early morning hours, and exquisite sunsets at days end. There have been stunning canvases of frost on the windows and intricately designed flakes of snow. No, there isn’t the rainbow of spring colors, or an abundance of green foliage, and this time of year presents its own set of challenges, but if we are willing to pay attention, there is still beauty. He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time. Just like there is beauty in the gross reality of a newborn baby, there is also beauty in a final breath. Belly laughs are just as beautiful as sobbing cries. There is a time for everything.

Each day is a gift of time, 86400 seconds to be exact, and God has made each one beautiful in its own way. May each of us declare with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) And may each of us celebrate the beauty of whatever times we are in.

Erin Jacobsma

 


The Sound of the Shepherd

We are surrounded by sounds. Take a moment and listen. What do you hear? As I type this article, I hear the buzz of my computer, the clicking of the keys on my keyboard, the hum of traffic outside my window, wind blowing through the trees, and muffled voices in the next office.

Some sounds are strange and puzzling and we don’t know where they are coming from. We strain our ears to see if we can figure out the source of the noise, or we go to investigate and determine if what we hear is cause for alarm or no big deal. Other sounds are very familiar. We know exactly who is talking in the adjacent room, we recognize the creak of the floor or the squeak of the door, we know the ringtone of our cell phone, and the way our car sounds as we drive down the road.

Some new sounds have been heard at our farm over the past several weeks. A ewe, affectionately known as Big Mama, and her triplets – Fluffy, Petunia, and Tiny – have taken up residence at our humble homestead. Their presence has been accompanied by a chorus of bleating sounds. Hearing Big Mama’s deep “BAA” as she calls to her babies and the babies responding with their soft soprano “baa” is just precious. I love listening to them.

I have grown familiar with their cries. I can tell when they are relaxed and having a friendly conversation, and also when Big Mama senses danger and is shouting a warning to her babes. I am tuned to the baas of the babies telling me that they are hungry and happy to see a bottle in my hand, and also when they are freaking out because they can’t get to their mama.

The sheep have also become accustomed with sounds in their new environment. They tolerate the whimpering and barking sounds of the dog (as long as he doesn’t come too close), they mostly ignore the traffic sounds on the highway, and they barely lift their heads from munching the lush grass when an airplane takes off from the nearby runway.

And they know my voice. I talk to them when I’m opening the barn door so as not to startle them, and speak softly to the lambs as they suck down their bottles. I reassure Big Mama when entering her pen and she has come to realize that I am not a threat to her or her babies. She has even gotten comfortable enough to eat grain from my hand.

There are many passages in the Bible that talk about sheep. In some ways, I’m not excited about being compared to an animal, but John chapter 10 has taken on new meaning since I started caring for these little critters. Multiple times, Jesus talks about being the good shepherd and that he knows his sheep and his sheep know him. But this doesn’t happen overnight. Knowing someone comes from spending time with them. Trust is built and intimacy is developed. When the sheep came to our farm, they didn’t want anything to do with me. Big Mamma would stomp her feet at me and snort, and the babies would run in every direction. But after time and proving myself to them, they have come to trust me and follow me.

Likewise with Jesus. I am comforted by the fact that he knows me, and I have spent enough time with him to be at ease in his presence and know I can trust him. I know his voice and follow him. Not perfectly, but in an ever growing intimacy. He has proven himself faithful and good all my life and I can’t imagine navigating this world without him. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 23:1

Erin Jacobsma

 


Taking A Walk

I am no dog trainer. I’m not sure I’m even a dog lover. Actually, I’m more of a cat person. But for the past month, I have been caring for my furry grand-dog while my son was out of town. We have worked on his manners and not jumping on people when they come to visit, we have played numerous games of catch, we have developed some patience and restraint at feeding time, we have practiced “sit” and “shake” and “down” on many occasions, and we have enjoyed long walks together in the beautiful countryside.

Well, not exactly. We have done all of those things, but the long walks are not always the most enjoyable. I like the idea of starting my day with a brisk morning walk with the pooch by my side, or to savor the cool evening air together with a stroll down the gravel road, but in reality, the dog is the one going for a walk and I’m getting pulled along behind.

I have tried to be patient and consistent with my commands and expectations. I have combed through Pinterest for tips and tricks. I have employed the assistance of a choke chain, a pronged collar, and a shock collar; all with minimal success. The shock collar actually glitched on our walk last week which resulted in a yelping and very submissive dog… for about ten seconds. Then, the pulling resumed.

Our walks are a continuous cycle of me saying “walk”, giving a jerk on the leash, and tapping the button on the shock collar. The dog slows his pace for a few yards until he’s at the end of his leash and pulling me down the road again and the cycle repeats. At least the longer we walk the more compliant the hound becomes and by the time we turn around and head for home he is maintaining a mostly steady pace, but each walk begins with the same struggle.

“I would think by now that you would have figured this out.” Those are the words I spoke to the dog this morning, and the exact same words that the Holy Spirit echoed in my mind. Immediately, it felt like a choke chain around my neck and I wanted to yelp my protest. But in all honesty, I’m a lot like this dog.

I get excited about walking with the Lord and being with my Master, but I’m often not satisfied with his pace. I am sometimes oblivious to everything that God has planned for our walk together. Like the canine in my care, I want to put my nose to the ground and take off running. I want to be productive and get things done. I want to pull away and do things my way. But God says “walk”.

It’s a recurring theme in the Bible. Walking with the Lord seems to coincide with a close relationship with him. We are given examples like Enoch and Noah who “walked faithfully with God” and David who was said to have walked before God in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart. The Bible doesn’t tell us to run around in circles, to strive, or hustle, or pull. God uses words like come… follow… rest… sit… stay… walk. Some of us are slower learners than others. The Israelites wandered in circles in the wilderness for 40 years before God considered them ready to walk in a different direction. I can relate. Sometimes I need to get worn down before I start paying attention. Sometimes I need a spiritual shock collar.

The cool thing is, that God promises to walk with us. The Master of the Universe walking with a rebellious walking partner like me. Wow. May we heed the words of Joshua, “Be very careful to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)

Who wants to go for a walk?

Erin Jacobsma

 


What’s That Smell?

Since moving to the country this Spring, one of the most noticeable differences has been the traffic that travels past our front door. Not only are there a lot more vehicles on Highway 75 compared to our quiet city side street, but the variety of transportation has changed as well. Jackson Street was mostly graced with cars, pickup trucks, minivans and motorcycles. Our current location sees a daily stream of all of the above, plus 18-wheelers, tractors, farm implements, straight trucks, trailered boats, campers, and more. Some move past without drawing much attention, while others offer a friendly honk, a deafening exhaust, or thundering brakes. One particularly offensive vehicle is actually not very noisy at all, but it exudes an aroma that can make you lose your lunch. The local rendering truck passes by several times each day and if we are unfortunate enough to be outside at the time, it leaves me gasping for fresh air.

There are few things that leave an aroma as pungent as a dead, rotting carcass. I remember this smell from my childhood on the farm, and recently found a dead mouse in our garage and a dead deer on the highway. Thankfully, my hero of a husband dealt with the rotting mouse and I contacted the local authorities about the deer on the highway. I was hoping the rendering truck would have stopped and picked it up, but to my surprise, the shredded animal was kindly pushed off the road into the ditch next to my mailbox.

The first day walking to get the mail was just nasty. The road was littered with blood and guts, but after the overnight rain, most of the residue was washed away. My next trip to the mailbox was awful. Not only did I have to step over a jaw bone and deer teeth mingled with the gravel, but the hot summer sun had been steaming Bambi’s remains all day and the smell was unbearable.

In case you are completely grossed out, let’s switch gears.

When gathering with several different group of kids, I asked them what their FAVORITE smell was. Among middle school girls, I got responses like: fresh baked cookies, chocolate, flowers, coffee, campfires, homemade bread, and rain. I recorded different feedback from a group of mostly farm kids. Their pick of aromas included fresh-cut silage, dirt, the smell of horses, and bacon. Certainly we can all relate to the delight of most of those scents, although some people might be repulsed by the aroma of horses or silage.

The same is true for Followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul informs us that God uses us to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. I can’t imagine anything sweeter than the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ but that’s not the case for everyone. The fragrance of Christ is not an enjoyable scent for all people. Paul clarifies: “15 To God, we are the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings life; to the other, an aroma that brings death.” The Message translation puts it this way. “Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”

Which brings me to another thought… If we are in Christ, we can be confident that we are a pleasing aroma to God. We remind Him of his Son, a fragrant offering and sacrifice. But for a self-proclaimed Christian who does not walk in the way of the Lord, but has a self-righteous attitude, the Lord says these people are a stench to Him and an acrid smell that never goes away. You can read about that in Isaiah 65.

So how are you smelling? Today is a good day for a sniff-test.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Today

Today has been one of those days that mothers warn you about. A day where nothing has gone right, emotions have run high, and negative thoughts are swirling around like an Oklahoma tornado. A day where it would be tempting to throw in the towel. A day when I’d like to echo the words of Alexander in the children’s book, “The Terrible, Horrible, No God, Very Bad Day” – I think I’ll move to Australia.

Today has been one of those days where an attitude adjustment was definitely in order. A day where in my earlier years, a hand would have been firmly applied to my backside, followed by the words, “That’s Enough”.

Today has been one of those days where the proverbial party was wrapped in pity and sprinkled with a few tears. The cookie crumbled. The milk was spilt.

Today has been one of those days that I’d rather forget. And one that I wish those around me would forget too. If only I had one of those nifty little devices from the Men in Black movie that zaps your memory for a specific time.

Today has been one of those days where “FAILURE” flashes like a neon sign above my head and follows me around like an ugly shadow. In my mind, I’m sure everyone can see it AND is nodding their head in agreement.

Today has been one of those days that Jesus spoke to his disciples about in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Today has been one of those days where as I wallowed in the mud and muck of my personal pig pen, I was reminded that MY mother doesn’t have cancer… MY daughter isn’t missing… MY husband is not on disability… MY job is not being terminated… MY son is not deployed… MY home is not ravaged by flood waters… MY family is not starving… MY loved one is not incarcerated… MY body is not recovering from surgery… MY father is not breathing his final breath…

Today has been one of those days when I am reminded that what I perceived as my problem is not my real problem. I was reminded that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) I was reminded that the battle is real and I cannot afford to leave my armor hanging in the closet. (Ephesians 6:13-17) I was reminded that I have the power to take every thought captive and make it submit to Truth. (2 Cor. 10:5)

Today has been one of those days for which Jesus promised his Presence, his Providence, and his Peace. He is the same yesterday, TODAY, and tomorrow. His love is steadfast. His grace is sufficient. His power is perfected in my weakness. His victory is sure.

Today is one of those days when I lay my head on my pillow, ask my Father for forgiveness, wipe the tears from my face, and be thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

Tomorrow is a new day. Great is His faithfulness!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Under Construction

My daily commute takes me past the local Golden Arches and I have enjoyed watching the visible progression of their remodeling project. The red tin roof and faded yellow sign have been removed and a new modern shape is being erected. The mound of discarded items keeps growing in the dumpster while the stack of building materials that was delivered to the site at the onset of the project is shrinking. Some days there is a whirlwind of activity and other times the rain has brought things to a screeching halt, but progress is being made.

And to the delight of travelers and locals alike, a large sign outside the building reads “Open During Construction”. Granted, the parking lot is somewhat tight, there’s extra noise during lunch hour, it might be a bit of a mess, and everyone has to be a little flexible, but nobody has had to forgo their Big Mac or Egg McMuffin or Happy Meal. In the midst of the renovation the employees have tried to continue with business as usual.

There’s something exciting about renovations. Years of wear and tear are replaced with fresh and new. Faded becomes vibrant. Outdated becomes advanced. Boring becomes bright. Lifeless becomes lively. Transformation is captivating

Each of us is a bit like a renovation project. As a baby, we seem absolutely perfect – a new construction. But over time our spirit becomes dull, our lives are contaminated by sin, we are faded by the consequences of our decisions, and we are in desperate need of an overhaul. Thankfully, God is in the business of renovations. He delights in making all things new. He restores our soul. Scriptures tell us that God makes all things beautiful in his time (Eccl 3:11) and that if we are in Christ, the old has gone and the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is the most exciting transformation to witness.

And Like McDonald’s, we are “Open During Construction”. Sometimes people watch and observe as old things are stripped away, we have messes to clean up and adjustments to make, and periodically things seem to be at a standstill. But be assured that God is at work. As Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

So what does completion look like? For McDonald’s, I’m not really sure. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But for those who are in Christ, when we reach completion, we will be a perfect reflection of Jesus. And while that won’t happen on this side of eternity, we continue to be open during construction, learning and growing and transforming as we go along.

Another renovation that I’m excited about is the scheduled repair of Highway 75 north of Main Street. The local newspaper reported that beginning in July, crews will do emergency repairs and mill off the worst spots to level the surface and make long asphalt patches on the driving lanes. I am delighted that we will have a smoother driving lane; however, it’s a temporary fix to a deeper issue.

People have a tendency to do the same thing in their lives. We make some upgrades to the behaviors that are visible to the public eye, but we don’t deal with the underlying problems. We focus on symptoms instead of solutions. We avoid the hard work of transformation.

As we embrace the summer construction season, may we be convicted of the changes and shifts and complete renovations that need to be made in our own lives, both on the surface and deep within. And may we not shy away from engaging the process.

Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet,

Erin Jacobsma