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Jesus Threw My Sins in The Ocean!

Written by Calvonia Radford 8/22/2018

emanuel-hahn-191569-unsplash (1)Photo by Emanuel Hahn on Unsplash

It’s Five Minute Friday: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. You can read more about it here.

Start

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

I vividly remember the evening I found the courage, or should I say God gave me the courage, to walk down the isle of our church and give my life to Jesus.

I was only nine years old.

I’ve been trying to follow Jesus ever since.

Sometimes following him closely and other times you cannot even tell I was on the same path as he.  I have a tendency to beat myself up over the way I’ve disappointed Jesus.

He leads so well, all we need do is follow. But because  we are wrapped in human flesh, we fail, we falter, we mess up over and over again.

He knew I would.

He knows everything!  He knows us! He knew we would often fall along the wayside.

So he planned to forgive us.

The bible declares that he throws our mess-ups into a sea of forgetfulness where they will NEVER haunt us. NEVER replay themselves. NEVER be held against us.

How reassuring to know God loves us so much that he put our sins in an ocean with ripples and waves that would carry our sins farther and farther away from our view.

Thank you Jesus!

Stop!

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Lessons From a Father

Written by Calvonia Radford 6/17/2018

father and daughter

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word father as a man who has begotten a child or one related to another in a way suggesting that of a father to child.

We fondly label our fathers with names of endearment such as Dad, Paw, Papa, Pops or Old man. None of which accurately describes the appreciation we have for a father who takes his role seriously.

I was reared by my grandfather. Everyone who knows me can attest to the fact that  I love me some C.J. Vaught. So on this Father’s day, I’m taking a microscopic look into my impressive years to see what was so special about my granddaddy.

  1. He spent quality time with me

Daddy was intentional about spending time with his little girl.

That time looked different each day. Some days we worked in his garden together. At times we walked in the woods to pick wild greens and herbs. But sometimes, all he did was sit beside me on the couch and watch tv. He loved talking to me and explaining the why to the rules.

How can a man follow the Deuteronomy chapter six principle without being present?

Please don’t confuse the word present for presence. I’m not speaking to my grandfather’s position. I’m emphasizing his being in the moment. His focus on little ole me.

  1. He told me stories

I come from a long line of storytellers. My grandfather is one of them.

He shared his life with me in the form of stories. I remember most if not all of them today. He shared the trauma of his early days and the triumphant climaxes of his senior years. He challenged me to strive for heights he could never reach due to a lack of formal education and the mere color of his skin. Yet, he taught me to love every man without regard to their ethnicity or economic status.

Most importantly he taught me to love Jesus. My grandfather was not a theologian by any stretch. Although he loved God with all that was in him. He lived for him to the best of his understanding and modeled that righteous lifestyle for me.

The most important influence in my childhood was my father.

DeForest Kelley

 

  • He made the footprints for me to walk in.

The winters of Kentucky can leave a thick blanket of snow. Big snows where common when I was a child in the Western part of the state.

I vividly remember my grandfather instructing me to wait until he walked ahead of me in the snow. Then he prompted me to put my little foot into his big footprint.

Over the years I learned to take a long stride,

get my balance and

step into my daddy’s footprint.

I’m still picking up my feet, looking at those big footprints in the snow and carefully placing my food where his once set. I slip up occasionally when I forget the why behind the step but even then, I remember my granddaddy.

Don’t Return to What Could Have Been!

Written by Calvonia Radford, 6/01/2018

looking backPhoto by Michael Skok on Unsplash

Return

START

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror while driving down the road? If so, you learned what I learned.

Looking back causes you to veer to the right or the left, eventually going off the edge of the road.

You can’t drive in a straight line while looking back!

God calls us to walk the straight and narrow road. He says those who walk the straight and narrow will experience life.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. “    Matthew 7:13-14 

Yet, I find myself looking back. Yes I do!  I think about the “what if’s” of life.

And I get an urge to return. Return to life’s intersection and make a different choice.

What if I had taken that opportunity?  What if I had hooked up with that fellow, moved to that neighborhood, cheated just a little here and lied a little there?

Righteous living does not prevent us from driving down the streets where the unrighteous live.

We see the glitter and glam of their lifestyles

and

we

wonder,

“the what ifs”.

But God has promised rewards for those who keep their eyes on the road.

STOP

It’s Five Minute Friday: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. You can read more about it here.

 

Memories are a Gift From God!

When Jeremiah looked in the rear view mirror he saw his traumatic experiences laced in God’s faithfulness and it brought him hope. It will do the same for us.

Written by Calvonia Radford. 5/28/2018

Memories are a gift from god

Photo by Simone Acquaroli on Unsplash

You may remember the portable compact cassette recorder that hit the stores in the late 70’s. This contemporary device allowed audio recording and playback.

I remember my first cassette player/recorder. I had so much fun recording my teenage friends and family and replaying their voices.

Each of us hated the sound of our own voices yet there was no argument they were indeed our voices.

My cassette player/recorder has been long gone, replaced by compact discs “CD’s”, tablets, voice recorders etc.

God created each of us with the ability to remember and recall things.

We call it memory.

Memory is a powerful system.

Etymologically, memory is an Anglo-Norman derivative meaning the ability of a system to record information about things or events with the facility of recalling them later at will.

Sounds like my cassette recorder doesn’t it?

You and I have the ability to push record during any situation or event

and later,

conveniently

push play to recall

verbatim

every word,

sound,

and feeling.

Memory can be a gift as well as a curse.

We can recall at will, the wonderfully warm and fuzzy experience of the “good ole days”, reminiscing until tears of joy trickle down our cheeks.

Yet, in contrast, we can press the same button and vividly recount all the painfully challenging episodes of our journey.

One choice leads us to better while the other produces bitterness.

How can we select which memories we recall?

What choices must we make to gain better(ness)?

Remember the good memories.

Paul admonishes us in Philippians 4:8 to dwell on the good thoughts. Logging the good events will create a portfolio of memories to retrieve when the going gets tough.

Sometimes it is hard to remember the good encounters and episodes of life.

I encourage you to write them down and pull them out when you need them. Share them with your family and friends until the good thoughts outway the bad.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

I have a memory book that I use as a portfolio of good things. Kind words, encouraging quotes, newspaper clippings from memorable events, gift cards and the like.

When I get a little down on myself, I pull out that book and encourage myself with its artifacts.

“Memories (which are our thoughts) don’t just come from scrapbooks and albums, they are wired deep into our brains. They stay with us. They follow us everywhere we go; they lie deep in the silent crevices of our thought life; they are woven into the intricate bonds of our relationships; they are quiet witnesses to all our communications with the outside world.” Dr. Carolyn Leaf

Recall the challenging experiences as a testimony of your hope in God.

Jeremiah in Lamentations chapter 3 dumped a truckload of circumstances and situations that would bring a strong man to his knees. His experiences were beyond challenging. Through it all, he watched God reveal his compassion and mercy.

When Jeremiah looked in the rearview mirror he saw his traumatic experiences laced in God’s faithfulness and it brought him hope. It will do the same for us.

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “ Lamentations 3:21-23

One way to follow Jeremiah’s lead is to record your prayers.

I have the notebook from a very trying time in my life.

When I read its words, I sense the emotion of my heart in that season.

My bitter memories quickly turn to joy when I think about how God sustained me, filled me with peace and brought me through a difficult experience.

God gave us memories and since Genesis, he has declared that everything he gives is good. Let’s learn to honor him by uncovering some good memories and declare the works of the Lord!

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Motherhood! Hindsight is 20/20

my three children

The phrase, Hindsight is 20/20” rings loudly in my ears as I take a retrospective glance into my past.

I was only 17 when I donned the garment of motherhood.

Too petrified to enjoy the moment they laid him on my chest for my body to give him warmth,

foreshadowing the numerous ways, I would meet his needs.

He was the first of three. Soon his two sisters would join the clan.

A novice, I stumbled over

and over,

taking one then two steps,

falling and getting back up again like a toddler’s wobbly gait,

I struggled.

Sometimes more than others.

Looking in the rearview mirror I see 20/20.

I see that I did some things right.

I learned early to take advantage of the teachable moments.

Mini-lessons that would finally fit into the big picture I wanted them to see.

I became creative, mainly because we didn’t have a lot of money.

Every scrap of paper and cardboard became an environmental resource.

And, speaking of resources.

Every mother became my mentor if but for a moment in time.

I learned from church mothers and my mothers. (I have three)

I gleaned from books and tapes and focus on the family.

Yet, I made so many mistakes.

I tried to parent like the other women in my culture.

Sometimes it was right and sometimes it was very wrong.

I studied child development, adopted best practices and found sometimes academia didn’t work for my children. Go figure.

They are all grown now. Two have children of their own.

I’m the expert now. I think.

My side view mirror states “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”.

Yes, they are! From here, I can see clearly.

20/20 vision.

I see the lessons I failed to teach, the ones I dwelled on too long and others I never addressed.

I wince at the behaviors I taught by example and stop to laugh at myself so I won’t get depressed.

I see the fun we had, the challenges we overcame and  I thank God!

This mother wasn’t/ isn’t perfect.

But this mother is blessed.

My children may not rise up and call me blessed.

I will settle for a warm hug, an “I love you” and “Thank you, Momma”.

This makes it all worth it.

 

 

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It’s Time for Some Spiritual Spring Cleaning

written by Calvonia Radford, 4/18/2018

housecleaning

A 2013 Statista survey of US citizens reports 72 percent of respondents do annual spring-cleaning. Most of us will be blowing the dust off our cleaning products, and rolling up our sleeves to clean.

I have a love/hate relationship with spring-cleaning.  I love the finished product but hate to acknowledge the condition my house is in due to my winter cluttering.

Am I the only one who gradually neglects to put stuff back where it belongs and accumulates unnecessary piles of something in just about every room?

Now my piles are neatly hidden behind closed doors. My house looks pretty good at face value but if you open those closet doors or look under the bed, do it at your own risk.

God Calls It Like He Sees It

God addressed his chosen people and compared the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Can you imagine? It would be like your best friend telling you your house looks like a Hoarders Buried Alive episode.

And then he told them their unsolicited sacrifices were making him nauseous. Isaiah 1:10 Ouch!

These people had allowed their spiritual houses to become so cluttered and unclean the Lord refused to look at them. He said, when you come near me to pray, I’m going to turn my head the other way and I will put my fingers in my ears when you pray. Isaiah 1:16

“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. ”

― Max Lucado

God Points the Way Out of Our Sinful Condition

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Isaiah 1:16

Wash- Clean up your act

God instructs us to cleanse our mind of any dirty thoughts made unclean by the filth we have exposed ourselves to. These thoughts have led to detestable/unhealthy behavior leaving nasty stains on our spiritual bed covers. So compels us to wash and freshen our minds from the stagnant smell of winter.

Warning: This requires spiritual warfare.  It’s not a quick and easy clean. You have to use spiritual elbow strength.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; “II Corinthians 10:5

Remove- Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings

When we come to the knowledge of God through his son Jesus Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We can be like a pig returning to his mud hole. Our call is to scrub off the ungodly and replace those behaviors with righteousness. Spiritual cobwebs lurking in the corners of the house and dust bunnies under the bed must go. Move the furniture, wash the curtains, strip and wax the floors until the house looks and smells brand new.  Ephesians 4:20 – 32

Do not forget the closets. The places where we have neatly placed the memories of past hurt and abuse into bins to pull out as needed. They will not be of any use today. They are mildewed. They stink because we have kept them too long. Throw them out.  We can do it.  Come on, let it go!!!!!!

Stop- Just say No to wrong and learn to do good.

Now the spiritual house is clean, we have to maintain it. We can’t keep eating in the living room and expect never to spill anything on the carpet. Really!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Unknown

There is one thing left to do. Stage the house, HGTV style, adding the finishing touches. No budget necessary. Why do you ask? Because Jesus paid it all on Calvary.  That makes me laugh with glee.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

Pillows in place? Wall art or framed photos? Regardless of our taste in style, we can do it. Study the word and soon our spiritual houses will be Pinterest ready? Let’s lay out the welcome mat and open the front door for guests.

Time to address the invitations!

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Let Us Not Forget the Lord’s Supper

LordsSupper

by Calvonia Radford 3/21/2018       Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Growing up as the only child in my grandparents’ home, I spent many hours in church. My grandfather was a deacon and my grandmother a deaconess. Every time the church doors opened, we were there. Often being the ones turning the key to open the door.

As a deaconess, Momma, as I called her, had the responsibility of setting the Lord’s Supper table.

I watched her as she carefully filled each little glass cup with grape juice and placed them one by one into the aluminum communion tray. Then she would cover the table engraved with the words “In Remembrance of Me” with a white, crisply starched linen cloth.

Upon that linen cloth, she set the serving tray filled with juice cups and two antique china plates laden with unleavened bread prepared in the kitchen of Sis. Mary Reynolds.

Finally, two of deaconess would gently cover the Lord Supper table and its elements with another white tablecloth.

I can see them now as they approached the table with the reverence of a soldier presenting the American flag to a grieving loved one.

As a child, I did not grasp the concept. Momma and the other ladies were not handling inanimate objects with no purpose. Theirs was a sacred act. An act of invitation. Inviting believers to make known the Lord’s death.

Do we realize the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?

Did we understand partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an instrument God uses to spread the word about Jesus’ death?

“and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken[b] for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”  I Corinthians 11:24-26

“The gospel is presented through the service of communion as the elements are explained. They point to His physical incarnation, sacrificial death, resurrection, and coming kingdom.”     MacAuthur Bible Commentary

We live in a culture with a skewed worldview. What God has called right is labeled as wrong and vice a versa. Our media glamorizes behaviors God despises and our government regulates abomination, calling it marriage.

Our Country needs Jesus!  Our World is in desperate need of a Savior.

According to a 2012 Lifeway Study, 57% of Southern Baptist Churches observe the Lord’s Supper quarterly. I would wager to say of those four times per year when the elements are served many members of the church family refuse the invitation.

This sin-cursed world needs a Savior!

Jesus himself said, as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup we show evidence of his death until he returns.

He is depending on us.

He will not return until we do the work he assigned to our hands. Spread the word!

Matthew 24:14 states “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

As we ponder the suffering of Jesus, his death, burial, and resurrection, let us not forget the mandate to share that story with the world.

Maybe if we partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly and seriously the bread and the cup would speak to us.

Perhaps revisiting the scene of the crime, touching, feeling and tasting exhibit A and B would cause the truth of his death to embed in our hearts and minds unto we choose to share that gospel story until the whole world knows.

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