“The fool and his money are soon parted.” Thomas Tusser said it; lotto winners prove it. A fool is anyone who believes that easy money produces happiness. They foolishly spend their earnings in pursuit of instant wealth. Fools fail to understand that wealth never births wisdom. If they weren’t smart enough to earn it, they won’t be smart enough to keep it.
In the 1998 movie, Waking Ned Devine, Jackie O’Shea conceives a plan; “We’ll find the lotto winner and make sure we are their best friend when they cash the cheque.” With the help of his wife Anne and his best friend Michael O’Sullivan they wine and dine the small burg of Tullymore. The hilarious antics of elderly men skinny-dipping, motorcycling in the buff, slipping on intestines, and primping a dead man’s face reveal how the lure of wealth can overtake and deceive the noblest of men.
His friends asked Jackie what he would do with a million dollars. He declared, “I wouldn’t waste it on a car when me bike’s outside…I wouldn’t be floating around the Caribbean when I can float in the cove for free…I’d take what I needed and treat me friends to the rest.” He may have said these words in jest but they spoke from the overflow of his heart. For beneath his conniving plan was a man who played fair and cared for his friends. He just needed a test of conscience.
So I test myself, “What would I do with a million dollars?” I try to convince myself that the stress free life of financial security would make me content and young again as I did noble things with the wealth while at the same time indulging in some much needed plastic surgeries. It’s when my list turns toward selfish gain I’m glad I never play the lottery and reveal my foolishness.
The most endearing scene of the movie is at a funeral. To cover their lotto fraud, Jackie eulogized Michael instead of Ned Devine. “Michael and I grew old together. But at times when we laughed, we grew young.” Now that’s a good line.
I suggest you first watch A Knight’s Tale for the love story and humor while you cheer the underdog to victory. Then watch it a second time with the volume maxed out and head bob to classic 1970’s rock. Finally, read this blog and watch it a third time and ask yourself, “What am I believing?”
Two flashbacks in this film reveal the heart of the movie. My favorite character, William’s father, can’t even be found in Google images. While everyone else is focused on William, Adamire, Jocelyn, or Chaucer, I’m asking, “Why didn’t I have a father like John Thatcher?”
I dreamed of greatness as a young girl. So did William. “Someday I’ll be a knight.” The cynic in pillory, played by my father, said, “A Thatcher’s son? A knight? You might as well try to change the stars, ha”
But even these words left alone are worthless and empty. Words are only powerful tools when engaged with action. John Thatcher knew to make his son believe enough, he had to make the ultimate sacrifice of proof. He gave William to a knight and left these final words to guide him, “It’s all I can do for you son. Now go, change your stars and live a better life than I have.”
Behind this scene I see a father who reached into his chest and ripped out his heart, slammed it on the altar then sliced it in half. But William started believing that moment and he never ran away from the challenge. He changed his stars, became the greatest knight of his time and won the heart of royalty.
I’ve heard my Heavenly Father say, “Believe me! I chose you and made you my warrior princess. You are my beloved child, pure and blameless in my sight. Now believe me. Live it.” He proved His words by coming into this wickedness and enduring a brutal death on a rugged cross. His sinless blood washed me clean and validated His claims.
If I believe, my enemies will ask like William’s archenemy Adamire, “How would you beat her?” The answer would knock them flat on their backs, “That woman is unbeatable.”
Take that! voices in my head, skeptics, and demons for “you have been measured, you have been weighed, and you have been found wanting.” Welcome to my new world.
I was seven years old when I l first dreamed of being the one beauty who would win the heart of the handsome prince, just by walking in the room. I imagined that’s all it would take. He would see me with my eighteen-inch waist, full breast, and swan neck adorned in a gown of fabric that glittered like the stars, and instantly know that no one else in all the universe compared. I had no idea where I’d find the fairy godmother that would make me so beautiful. But if it happened for Cinderella, then it could happen for me, at least in my dreams.
Since the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein movie, I’ve been a sucker for this classic story. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve watched the 1998 remake starring Drew Barrymore as the strong-willed, sharp tongued, tomboyish Danielle de Barbarac, aka Cinderella. The writers masterfully blend the fairy tale into historic fiction and for short time; I think this could be real. I overlook the forced accents and low-budget props. I don’t miss the plump godmother and the singing birds or mice from the Disney version. I must admit I’m thrilled this Cinderella doesn’t have to sing like an angel but instead she quotes from Thomas Moore’s Utopia and the prince is hooked. Yes, I could be this Cinderella.
Ever After is more than a story of a young abused girl who gets her chance and wins the prince. The movie shows 16th century France and puts me into the lives of noblemen, peasants, gypsies, and even Leonardo de Vinci. He makes me laugh as the loveable and witty godfather who walks on water, builds flying machines, and will go down in history as the man who opened the door. I even learned he painted with his left-hand.
Woven throughout the story are intrigues, competition, conspiracies, and vengeance. My sense of righteousness is fulfilled when the wicked stepmother and step sister are punished with life-long servitude, when the squealing page gets his scull cracked open with a pot, and when the rotten teeth, well-endowed Pierre Le Pieu is nearly sliced from navel to neck by the sword wielding Danielle.
I want the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. So in court when the King and Queen confront the Baroness and Marguerite in their lies and conniving ways, I expect justice. I’m not disappointed as they are instantly stripped of their title and ordered shipped to the Americas on the next available boat. It’s only fair.
But then Danielle’s voice comes from behind and silences the courtroom, “I’ll speak for her. After all, she is my stepmother.” She offers mercy, “Your Majesties, all I ask is that you show her the same courtesy she has bestowed upon me.”
Cinderella gave grace. Not only is she independent, strong, beautiful, plus she has a loving heart. This is a true heroine. I’m changing my dream template.
But did she really give grace? She gave an eye for an eye judgment. That seems fair, more than fair. They got what they deserved. But that’s not grace. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve and not receiving what we do deserve. Allow me to rewrite that scene showing true grace.
“I will speak for her.” Cinderella appears in royal attire where just hours before she traded her rags for riches. She had been forgiven her lies and deceit to the Prince. He loved her for who she was. A slave girl was now a princess.
Cinderella continues, “I know the gift of forgiveness. I don’t deserve these riches yet they are mine forever because of his love.” The room loses all air as every inhabitant gasps at once.
“Your Majesties, all I ask is that you pardon their sins and free them to live in my home as my sister and mother so that they can know the love I have.”
Grace always leaves me speechless.
His small piercing eyes scrutinized the passenger through the rear view mirror. His brows sloped into a deep furrow. The chauffeur knew his place. Sitting in the back of the Rolls Royce was Linus Larrabee, his disreputable and powerful boss. He dared to look again, this time holding the gaze. He would not back down; his daughter was at stake.
“Go ahead, say it.” Linus was the first to speak.
“You don’t deserve her.” Fairchild’s poignant words were slow and cautious.
Linus shifted in his seat before speaking, “I don’t. I know that but I need her, and I don’t need anything.”
Now, that’s a good line taken from the 1995 remake of Sabrina starring Harrison Ford as Linus and Julia Ormond as Sabrina. Every time I hear his confession, my heart skips a beat. The pompous billionaire reached the end of his offensively manipulative self and realized he needed more than his wealth and power. Love conquered once again.
Viewers summarize this movie as the story of a young insecure girl who discovered herself in Paris then returned home a beautiful woman who captured the hearts of two brothers. That makes for a great chick flick. But I’d rather look at the story of Linus who followed in his father’s footsteps only to end up alone and miserable. A man who didn’t know he needed a savior. Hollywood provided a raven-haired beauty with soft curls and eyes that penetrate your soul. I find it uncanny that her methods matched the one who was sent to be my savior. Two things are necessary if we are to see ourselves for what we are.
1. Sabrina told him the truth. The ocean breeze playfully caressed her curls as they relaxed on a beach. Over wine and baked clams with their campfire twinkling in rhythm with the stars, she told him people call him the world’s only living heart donor and how she had feared him since childhood.
2. She asked tough questions. After a perfect day at Martha’s Vineyard, when most women would’ve gushed about the private jet, the cottage, the handsome rich man who can cook, Sabrina responded to Linus’ declaration of why he was who he was with, “That’s where you work. Linus, where do you live?” The man, who caused people to jump at attention, spent the rest of the night with a stiff drink and deep thoughts.
Within two days the hard-hearted Linus Larrabee, who loved money more than family, sacrificed it all for a love he didn’t deserve. The man with the habit of greed offered the amazing love of his savior to his brother.
His savior’s penetrating eyes cut to his soul and revealed truth of who he was. But when he looked deep into her eyes, where he expected disgust, fear, or hatred, he found only love. His frozen heart began to melt and dripped healing balm that ate away the cancer of self.
I know such a Savior. His love defies logic; it multiplies when divided. Like Linus, I would sacrifice everything for you to know such a love.
Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”
Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.
James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride. The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.
Prestige. “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.” “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.” “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.” Prestige is a consuming need for recognition. It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back. It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so. It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are.
The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem. I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came. I want people to tell me I did a good job. I want people to think I’m special. I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.
How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.
If you can relate, you’ll want to read on. God’s grace covers this sin. His grace offers power to overcome it. God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit. I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue. I’ve had moments of victory. I remember more agonies of defeat.
Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart. I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation. Here’s the plan:
Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.” The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige. I’m excited. Actually, I can’t wait for the test run. Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan. Wow!
It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy. I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” My translation became, “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.” The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart. My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.
Now, here I go again. When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.
I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.
Here’s what I remember. I was 25, married, and living in Clarksburg, WV. I had a two-year-old daughter and by the end of the year my son was on the way. We moved from a small cabin on 88 acres deep in the mountains to a Cape Cod home on 5 acres just a few miles outside of town.
I played the piano in the same small church Mike’s childhood church. Mike worked at the family business. I taught preschool at Salem Methodist Church and took graduate classes at Salem College. I think we drove a Subaru and a Camaro Z-28. I can’t remember where we vacationed, if we did.
Sad to admit, but there is absolutely no recall of any major event happening in my state, nation, or the world. Honestly, I can’t even tell you who was president. My memories are centered on my immediate family. If it didn’t touch my personal life, then it wasn’t worth remembering.
I’m now adjusting my opinion of the Hebrew people alive the night Jesus was born and still alive when He was crucified. The year of his birth shook the nation of Judah. Zachariah had delivered a stunning prophecy about his son John and a coming Messiah. People talk when an older barren woman has a baby. People also talk when a young girl is pregnant out-of-wedlock.
Months later there were the shepherds running through town shouting about angels in the sky, a new star over a manger, and a baby that caused their knees to bow in reverence.
I wonder how long it took for life to return to normal and the shepherds became a distant memory. Doesn’t matter because about two years later a violent attack destroyed their security and should’ve stirred their memories.
It started with a parade. You know, the streets were a buzz when a caravan of wise men from the East rode into town. It wasn’t long before the horrors of Roman soldiers, swords, and blood filled the streets of Bethlehem. I can’t imagine anyone could forget the screams of children and mommies as dads pleaded for the lives of their young boys.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fled to Egypt and the nation of Judah and the town of Bethlehem forgot them. There’s a mystery here. If the people had remembered the miracles of Jesus’ birth linked to the horrendous reaction of His enemies, they could have silenced his critics in John 7:41-44.
Jesus never talked about the past. I don’t recall a time that Jesus ever returned to Bethlehem. I can’t find a passage where he defended His incarnation and proved his birth was the fulfillment of prophecy.
The people in that little town knew firsthand that life and death came with Jesus. I ponder these things. Were the parents, grandparents, and siblings of murdered babies at the foot of the cross remembering a miraculous star, some jubilant shepherds, and the awe-inspiring worship of a baby boy?
Maybe 30 years was simply too long. The pain had healed. Life went on. No one remembered. But how sad, the birth of the Messiah Savior of the world, forgotten, for a time.
Google stirred my memories of 1983. Ronald Reagan dealt with a social security crisis, the US and USSR played Russian roulette with nuclear bomb testings, the worlds’ largest robbery of 25,000,000 pounds was taken from Heathrow, London. There were floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes that stole lives. Over 200 marines were killed in a Beirut bombing while Israelis died in bus bombings.
It took the crucifixion to sear forever in our hearts and minds the story of the Gospel. Jesus left His heavenly home to be born in a manger, to show us the Father through teaching and miracles, to pay our sin debt on the cross, and to rise to life on the third day, so He can sit at the Father’s side interceding for us so that we never forget the only event in all of history that matters.
I discovered a blog offering words to communicate to children. No doubt the list would challenge children, encourage them, and motivate them. I would not be surprised if any child who regularly heard such praise and motivation would not grow to be leaders among their peers as long as life’s hard blows didn’t outweigh the praises of their parents.
I marked the blog as a keeper but after a few reads, I was certain something major was missing. There was no mention of the creator, our need for a savior, or our eternal purpose. Yes, we can motivate children to conquer this world but in doing so, they lose everything in the next world.
So I decided to do some tweaking. The bold italics are mine. These I intend to teach Eli and Caleb.
1. I love you! But Jesus loves you more. There is nothing that will make me stop loving you. Nothing you could do or say or think will ever change that. I know this because God loves you through me. My love may fail, but His never will.
2. You are amazing! I look at you with wonder! Not just at what you can do, but who you are. There is no one like you. No one! God made only one of you because He has a special purpose for your life. You were made in His image and because of that you are amazing and wonderful. Without God, you and I are worthless. But in Him we are amazing.
3. It’s all right to cry. People cry for all kinds of reasons: when they are hurt, sad, glad, or worried; when they are angry, afraid, or lonely. Big people cry too. I do. Jesus cried too. God gave us His emotions so they are okay.
4. You’ve made a mistake. That was wrong. People make mistakes. I do. Is it something we can fix? What can we do? It’s all over. You can start fresh. I know you are sorry. I forgive you. It wasn’t a mistake, it was a sin. Everyone sins. A sin is when we don’t do what God wants us to do. We can ask God to forgive us and He will. What can you do to make sure you don’t do that sin again? God will help you if you ask Him.
5. You did the right thing. That was scary or hard. Even though it wasn’t easy you did it. I am proud of you; you should be too. God gives us strength to do the right thing. When we are scared or facing hard choices, God helps us. We should trust God to help and then thank Him for His strength. This gives God glory.
6. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I made a mistake. I sinned against God and against you. I asked God to forgive me, now I’m asking you to forgive me.
7. You can change your mind. It’s good to decide, but it is also fine to change. Always ask God what He wants you to do. When you know it is God’s will, then stay firm no matter how hard it gets. God will bless you for keeping your word.
8. What a great idea! You were really thinking! How did you come up with that? Tell me more. Your mind is clever. Did you pray about that? Isn’t God good for giving you such a great idea. What’s even better is now He will give you everything you need to make that idea work. Let’s praise God.
9. That was kind. You did something helpful and thoughtful for that person. That must make you feel good inside. Thank you! When you do kind, helpful and thoughtful things for others, you are acting like Jesus. Jesus delights when you do His works. When others ask you why you did that say, “That’s Jesus coming out of me”
10. I have a surprise for you. It’s not your birthday. It’s for no reason at all. Just a surprise, a little one, but a surprise. I love to surprise you with presents just like Jesus surprises me with blessings.
11. I can wait. We have time. You don’t have to hurry this time. I’m sorry I often rush you to keep my busy schedule. Today, let’s do things slow and enjoy our time together. God says if we wait on Him we can make us soar like the eagles.
12. What would you like to do? It’s your turn to pick. You have great ideas. It’s important to follow your special interests. God’s word says He will give us the desires of our hearts. Let’s ask God for a special thing to do today.
13. Tell me about it. I’d like to hear more. And then what happened? I’ll listen. Can you imagine that the powerful God of the universe bends His ear close to hear us. He’s enjoying this story as much as I am. Keep talking.
14. I’m right here. I won’t leave without saying good-bye. I am watching you. I am listening to you. Jesus will never leave you. He will always protect you. He will always listen to you. And because you are little, He uses me to let you know He is close. I’m happy to know that we can trust Jesus to watch over us.
15. Please and thank you. These are important words. If I forget to use them, will you remind me? I want to treat you with respect because you are made in God’s image like me. I will use words that build you up and encourage you to be all that you were created to be. When I fail, please tell me.
16. I missed you. I think about you when we are not together! I missed you so much but I knew God was with you. Sometimes I can’t be with you but Jesus never leaves you.
17. Just try. A little bit. One taste, one step. You might like it. Let’s see. I’ll help you if you need it. I think you can do it. With God all things are possible. Let’s pray and ask Him to help you.
18. I’ll help you. I heard you call me, here I am. How can I help you? If we both work together, we can get this done. I know you can do it by yourself, but I’m glad to help since you asked. Just like you asked for my help and I am happy to help you, God loves to help us when we pray. Let’s pray that He helps us do this together.
I wanted to know what it felt like for the Israelites to hear Ezra read the Torah as recorded in Nehemiah 8.
I cheated. I read while reclining on the bed, then prompted on a pillow, and finally snuggled in my deep cushioned couch.
People were tougher then; they stood for hours.
I had no real encounter or revelation. They bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground while weeping over the Word of God.
Maybe I should’ve stood while I read.
The Levites calmed the people and sent them home to celebrate the sacred day with a feast. I went to bed hungry because I’m dieting.
The next day the people started the week long Feast of Tabernacles because they now understood the words that had been read to them. I returned to my typical routine, unchanged.
Can anyone out there relate with me?
Or am I the only believer who wants desperately to know more of the LORD, to please Him in everything I do, to experience those “wow” divine moments, yet I have more “duh, what was that all about?” days.
Good thing we live on this side of the cross or life would be depressing. I get up each day with fresh mercies raining down on me. I don’t hold myself to the standard of perfection; I walk in grace.
I fasted from all technology and worldly distractions while reading books of God’s Word. So what if an earthquake didn’t shake me from my bed.
I did it because I wanted my Lord to know He’s most important to me. He doesn’t need to prove anything to me. He proved His love and power on the cross.
“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more…” 1 Philippians 1:9
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else…” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Now, there’s a huge challenge in God’s word. It’s not an option. We are commanded to grow in our love for others.
Love should never be put on a diet. It has to expand.
We expand in our knowledge of God as we read his word. We expand in our faith as we walk through the trials of this life. But how do we expand our love?
To grow in love, we must add more people into our lives. Every time we open our heart to someone new, we open a new path of expansion. We gain a few heart pounds.
Because God is such a compassionate God, his training regime is so much fun. He feeds and expands our hearts with grandbabies.
Those precious little babies enter a family and turn everything upside down. Just when we think you can’t love any deeper; here comes a newborn.
Our hearts threaten to explode from our chest when we hold that bundle in our arms. I imagine its something like an elephant squeezing into a peanut shell. Or more appropriately, its like the Almighty Creator God squished into a newborn’s body lying in a manger.
The blessings of grandbabies: We don’t care that they can’t love us back. We know they will someday. We don’t care that they are so much work because we know someday they will work along side us. We’re counting on future rewards and it works for us.
When we put a stopper on our heart, we fail miserably. When we see the hurting empty lives all around us, we have to say, “If God can grow my heart to love this baby, He will grow my heart to love my neighbor, my boss, my classmate, the homeless family, the abused child, the orphan or the widow.
Now here’s the best part. If God blesses me with such amazing joy and maturity because I willingly love this baby, how much more would He bless me if I chose to love those who may never return my love.
I must choose to love because whether it’s family or strangers, we are never promised a future return.
I welcome Caleb Drew Jones to my heart. My heart expanded a whopping 8 pounds on April 3. It will continue to grow as he does. I’ve already received the first smile and my eyes leaked from the overflow of joy. I’m anxious to hear the first giggle, to have him grasp my finger, and ultimately squeeze my neck.
But I think the greatest blessing is the lesson Caleb’s already taught me. Go out and find others to love because God is faithful to his promises. As I open my heart, He fills it with more of Himself and that expansion can then love others.