“I Know You!”

The phone rang first thing in the morning and I didn’t want to answer it. I was still stumbling around with my coffee and hadn’t yet revved myself up for the day. I picked up the receiver and said, “Hello.”

The woman on the other end of the line introduced herself and explained why she’d called. She read a devotion I’d written and wanted to let me know she enjoyed it. Since the city in which I live was noted at the end of the devotion, she looked me up in her phone book. I knew exactly who she was; I had caller ID, after all.

She kept talking and I decided to let her. Her words were encouraging, and it was obvious from what she said that she’d been blessed by what she read. I was glad to hear it, especially from her, a woman I respected.

I decided I better introduce myself and let her know we weren’t strangers. We’d been going to the same church for almost twenty years. I knew she knew me because for a short time we’d both worked in children’s ministry.

Finally, I said, “I’m glad you liked the devotion, Carol. That means a lot to me. But I’m surprised you didn’t recognize my name.” Then I told her that on the previous Sunday, she and her husband had been sitting next to me in church.

People say all the time, “What a small world.” To some extent, I disagree. I’ve discovered that, with Christ is in my life, he’s opened it up and made it larger in ways I would never have conceived.

“You have heard of this hope before in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God” (Colossians 1:5-6).

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Top Ten Reasons It’s Cool to Be Christ-like

If you’re serious about being like Jesus, here you go with some great ways to follow his lead.

  1. Jesus lived a sinless life. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:19
  1. Jesus prayed for His friends–and some people He’d never met. John 17:6-26
  1. Jesus submitted to authority. John 12:49-50; Luke 22:42
  1. Jesus forgives everyone. Everyone, no matter what they did or do. Luke 23:34; 1 John 1:9
  1. Jesus never compromised the truth. Mark 8:34-35; John 8:10-11
  1. Jesus guided people into truth without hitting them over the head with it. Matthew 5-7; Luke 24:25-27
  1. Jesus is full of joy and peace–and shares it. John 14:27; John 15:11
  1. Jesus kept his priorities straight and was good at time management. Mark 1:35-39
  1. Jesus attended parties, enjoying fellowship with all types of people. Luke 7:36-38; Matthew 9:10; John 2:1,2

And the Number One Reason it’s cool to be Christ-like:

Jesus loves everyone, even those who don’t like Him and those who disagree with Him. Matthew 23:37

He Keeps on Tickin’

I haven’t the slightest interest in running. If you see me run, you better run too, because there’s probably a bear chasing me. There are people who run because they enjoy it. I have friends who run races like Ed Whitlock does. That would be the Ed in the story featured here from The New York Times.happy-news-graphic

But none of my friends who run are as advanced in years as Ed.

The good news story this time is about a fellow from Canada who runs marathons. His ability to continue running with the speed and stamina he has is a marvel even to scientists who study such things. And according to this story, Ed’s been under scrutiny.

So click away and enjoy reading about Ed, who doesn’t do much in the way of prepping for his races except, what else? He runs.

Ed Whitlock is the Marathon Man

 

A Wrong Number Works Out Well

There’s always good news out there if you look for it.

Today let’s focus on one man’s effort to rescue a frightened grandmother. If you thought car salesmen don’t deserve a good word, think again. This excerpt from the story tells, in our hero’s own words, a little of what happened.

“She called our landline and got through to our receptionist, who asked me what to do. I said, ‘I’ll go and make sure she’s ok.’ At first I thought she was just across the road, it turned out she was about two miles away.”love_boom_200_167

The response just described won’t always happen if you transpose numbers. Usually, people just say, “I believe you have a wrong number” and hang up. To his credit, Dang Vuong didn’t.

Here’s the whole story from The Kindness Blog. The blog features only stories about acts of kindness. Maybe you’d like to follow them to get the occasional uplift to your spirit.

Hello, Kitty! Come Read With Us

Today all cat lovers and anyone interested in justice–even on a small animal scale–will be happy to hear that Browser the Library Cat will stay on the job. Browser has been at the White Settlement Library for six years. He’s a fixture there and his story has become big news.

So here’s the good news for the day. I’m sure there are more great stories out there, but I’m a cat lover and am happy for the library, its visitors and especially for Browser.

Here’s an excerpt from NPR’s story:

“Why the city council of White Settlement, Texas, decided to fire Browser, mascot and rodent hunter of the public library is not clear, but the vote two weeks ago was 2-1 to banish Browser. Friday, under an avalanche of complaints, the council members decided unanimously that Browser could stay.

Browser got his job six years ago when the library had a problem with rodents. By all accounts, he was a big success and nestled into library-goers hearts.”

browser the cat

Schedule for Stuff

Here at The Fruitful Life I like to post regular features. I may have started the blog to write about how the Christian faith molds my life. But since I began, I realize the word “fruitful” can mean more than that. I want to live the totally abundant life Christ came to give me.

My interests are many, thanks to God who created me. But to post about everything isn’t realistic.  However, you’ll find on this site essays about things I can’t help but share. Reading is a passion of mine. I reeeally enjoy watching movies (even old B&W ones!). So occasionally I feel a stirring and write about those things.

I also have a passion for food, learning more about cooking and baking, and discovering new recipes. Sometimes I’m precise in the process; sometimes I cook ‘by guess and by golly.’ That’s here too.

Below is a tentative schedule for postings on The Fruitful Life. Sometimes I take little vacations or life gets hectic and I have to skip a post. Remember that abundant life? Yep, that’s what happens.Blogging-shakespeare

 

Media Monday  Some Mondays will see either a book review or a movie review. Those offerings are strictly my opinion and the reviews may not be for media recently released. I believe that, after reading a book or watching a movie, I may help someone make a decision about whether to try it too. If that’s media which is not so new, it’s okay. I’m often influenced by the reviews–good and bad–that I read. You might even see an occasional mention of music here.

Wednesday is for Faith  The middle of the work week has been the usual day when I share something about how my faith instructs all I do. I’ll be the first to say I don’t live the Christian life perfectly. That’s why I so desperately need a savior. Writing about what I believe and using the Bible to explain it helps confirm my faith.

Foodie Friday  Friday food posts will be instantly recognizable since they’ll have the word “foodie” in the title. Friday features tips, recipes, ideas you may not have tried, or something heartfelt about how we respond to food and eating. I’m not a professional photographer so bear with me when I post my own picture stuff.

Good News Any Day  I decided recently, after some time being involved with social media, that I want to share some good news. “How do I do that?” I wondered. So far, I have a couple ideas. One is obvious: search the Internet. It’s not all bad news out there and we need to hear good news to keep our psyches afloat. Hope buoys us up and knowing people are doing well or ‘doing good’ gives us hope. I’ll be keeping an ear to the ground and either telling the story in my own way or offering links to various good news stories.

And speaking of Good News, please remember that I write from a Christian perspective. Even when I’m not writing about food, I pray what you see here will be seasoned with truth and grace. Just as Jesus offered everything he said and did.

Your comments are always welcome. It would be great to know if you found me on WordPress, Twitter or Facebook, if you care to say so.

Be a blessing to someone today.

When You’re Called To Worship

Reference: Luke 2:1-20

When we get the chance late at night, Matthias and I lie on our backs and watch the sky. Marvelous things happen there. High clouds float on a wind we can’t see but feel tugging at our hair. They disappear in wisps trailed by more clouds and we name them by shapes.

We play our favorite game on clear nights when the sky is dotted with stars. Matthias, a pensive fellow, says the sky is poked full of holes for the light of God to shine through. Matthias really loves God; he teaches me a lot. I’m glad I was assigned watch with him in these fields. Living out here can be lonely. Besides, he says things like that about holes in the sky.

We name the stars knowing God has already named them and sometimes we find shapes in those too. That particular night a shape we never expected appeared in the sky.

It was an angel.05_Shepherds_Angels_JPEG_1024

I’m young but I’m not a madman. And there are more witnesses than Matthias and me. We all saw and heard. The stars paled in comparison to the light that shone around that angel. I believe the light of God really was shining then, not just through the star-holes. We were terrified. The sheep began to stir.

But the angel spoke to us and told us to not be afraid. I stepped closer to Matthias anyway; I couldn’t stop trembling.

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people,” the angel said. Its voice had a strange tremble as well, but it was clear as a bell on that clear night. Have you ever heard an angel? No, of course you probably haven’t. Oh, it was…fearsome.

But wonderful.

Then the angel spoke a message describing the birth of a baby in the nearby town of Bethlehem. Born to us, the angel said. “Christ, the Lord.”

“The Messiah,” I thought, “the Messiah has come!” Matthias fell to his knees. I did likewise just because I didn’t want to let go of him.

The angel then told us where to find the baby. The fact that the Messiah was a baby born that very night was incredible enough, but he was lying in a manger. That was the end of the message. I was stunned. I had heard it all. There was no doubt I had heard it right. God had surely put it in my heart.

found-watching-sheepThen, even as the angel finished speaking, suddenly the sky filled with them and they began to praise God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The sound was just like that of the other angel, a trembling but clear voice and so loud I thought the sheep would bolt and run. Miraculously, they were now still.

We were mute in the angels’ presence and as they finished their chorus of praise they fled into heaven. Matthias and I slowly stood. He recited the Shema; I think out of habit. I believe he was as nervous as I was. We all slowly began to walk toward one another and then ran. We met in a circle and stopped. Josias began to speak but his voice broke.

He started laughing.

Oh yes, laughing. And so did we. How happy were our hearts! No one else can understand the beauty of it. But the lovely irony was not lost on Josias and we knew too. God had chosen we lowly shepherds to be the first to see his Messiah.

“We must go quickly. All of us, even the sheep,” Josias said. “When the Lord calls, we obey.” Everyone was solemn now but still full of joy. Of course we would obey.

The City of David was full of people since a census was in process, but we found our way to the stable. It was small and dark. I cannot imagine why such a place would be the birthplace for this child, but I wanted so much to see him I laid my questions aside.

The mother was young like me. They–Mary and Joseph–were kind and welcomed us. We told them our story and they somehow didn’t seem surprised at the angel’s appearing. They acted as if angels to them were commonplace. Mary nodded knowingly, pondering it.

She unwrapped the baby a little so we could see him. I don’t know what I was expecting; he was just a baby. Nevertheless, he–Jesus was his name–was the Christ. We all kneeled and worshiped him. I have to admit I felt like weeping. I didn’t. I’m the youngest and the men would have laughed at me.

We stayed there a little while and Mary and Joseph inquired about where we were from. I noticed Matthias kept looking at Jesus and at one point wiped a tear. I promised myself not to say anything.

Finally, we left to return to the fields. As we walked out of the city the only sounds were our feet shuffling along the streets and the occasional bleating of sheep. How can you begin to talk about the experiences? Angels lighting up the sky, news of the Messiah and then seeing him like that–so pure? You have to stretch your mind to make it all fit.

When we reached the edge of Bethlehem, Matthias stopped us, sheep and all, and said, “We cannot keep this to ourselves.”

We looked at him, begging with our eyes so he’d continue. “No,” he explained, “The angel said it was ‘good news of great joy for all people.’ In obedience to God, we will spread the news.”

Can you imagine our joyful laughter at that? We began clapping each other on the back and we started right there in Bethlehem. People were amazed at what we told them.

Eventually we returned to our field, but we couldn’t stop talking about it. We praised God for the child and the good news the angels delivered. As we settled into our humble grassy dwelling, we agreed that because of that child’s coming, worship would never be the same.

Excerpt from “Approachable Jesus” by Paula Geister, copyright 2008