A Sandwich, a Soda, and a Smile

(A parable not based on actual events)

I ran into a young woman yesterday evening who was absolutely beside herself. Her GPS had failed and she thought she knew the way home from a college she had been visiting, but after driving for hours in the wrong direction, she realized she had no idea where she was or how to get where she needed to be. With tears running down her cheeks, she continued to recount the frustrations of her day, telling me how her cell phone had gone dead, how she hadn’t taken the time to eat anything all day long and, as a result, was battling a splitting headache, and how totally and completely lost she was. The only thing that was familiar to her was the McDonald’s sign, so that’s why she had pulled into their parking lot and was just getting out of her car as I was exiting the drive-thru. When she came up to my window to share her story with me, she looked so pitiful and I felt such compassion for her. I nodded with sympathy and proceeded to give her the cheeseburger and soda I’d just purchased and a Tylenol I had in my pocket. I smiled, gave her a big hug, and then I drove away. I suppose I could have also shared with her the directions to get her home because I know that place very well and exactly how to get there … but instead I chose to just show her the love of Jesus without words. As I drove away, though, I did offer up a little prayer that she’d figure out how to get home on her own. Maybe someone else would tell her.

Moral of the Story: If you know The Way but do not share it, the one you’ve assisted remains lost. Showing the “love of Jesus without words” through charitable actions is just a topical remedy that can be applied by ANYONE with half a heart to temporarily relieve an undesired physical situation, but does nothing for the most important need of their lives, the eternal. Giving ’em a hamburger and a soda isn’t enough … the lost aren’t going to absorb the way to be saved through a bun or a piece of meat. Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples. Let’s love them like Jesus and do what He says because we have His heart and we care about their eternal destiny.

–Cheri Henderson

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The Unhappy Orange Tree

orange-treeA lone orange tree, in the midst of a vast apple grove, was so impressed by the beauty and popularity of his surrounding neighbors; he yearned to be just like them. With great unhappiness, he looked upon his dimpled, tough exterior and then gazed longingly at the apples’ smooth, shiny red skins. “Surely”, he thought, “they are more palatable and easier to eat than my fruit which has to first be peeled before anyone can even bite into it!” So in an effort to become like them, when the wind would blow, he’d lean his limbs towards the branches of the nearby apple trees, rubbing up against them, hoping a transfer would take place that could change him … but nothing happened. So he pressed his roots further and further out towards the roots of his neighbors, thinking if he could intertwine with theirs, perhaps that would be the thing that would change him … but an orange tree he remained.

One day he saw a man walking past him carrying a ladder and a bucket of red paint. “Excuse me, sir,” the orange tree said. “Where are you going with that paint and for what purpose?”  The man replied “Goin’ up yonder to paint that barn on the hill. Why do you ask?” The tree, with much excitement, told the man of his desire to be like all the other trees around him and asked “Would you be so kind as to bless me with a little of your time and materials, and cover my oranges with that brilliant red paint you are carrying?” The man, feeling sorry for the tree and wanting to be of help, agreed to do so and climbed upon his ladder to begin the painting process. After several hours, every orange on the tree was totally covered in red paint. “Thank you, sir,” the orange tree gratefully cried. “You have satisfied the desires of my heart and now I am completely content and gratified.” The man smiled, nodded, and went on his way.

Many weeks later a group of children were walking through the apple groves, looking for the orange tree they had heard resided there. Because their town was surrounded by only apple groves and all of the orange groves were hundreds of miles away, oranges were very difficult and expensive to come by.  Though the children were looking forward to the unique and wonderful taste of a juicy orange, their primary purpose was to help a little boy who had accompanied them in their search for the orange tree.  For months, their beloved little friend had been battling scurvy, and as he struggled to walk upon weakened, bowed legs, his friends led him carefully along, filled with hope that a fresh source of vitamin C would bring healing to his body. With eagerness, they came to the place where they had been told the tree was located, but to their dismay, found only the remains of a withered tree with streaks of red running up its brittle limbs and down its splintered trunk. At the base of the tree lay shrunken circles of dimpled red paint.

Hungry, unfulfilled and with their hopes dashed, they held the hand of the sick little boy and made their way back to town.

Moral of the Story:  Dissatisfaction with our God-given gifts, an unhealthy envy and misplaced longing (exacerbated by the good intentions of unwise “helpers”) can destroy God’s true plan and purpose for our existence, leaving destiny unfulfilled and lives impaired by the lack of spiritual “nourishment” we could have provided.

–Cheri Henderson

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Is there someone you believe in?

me and TimI believe in Tim Henderson.

There’s no doubt about it. Not just because Valentine’s Day is coming up, but for every day of my life, I can honestly say I believe in Tim Henderson.

And what do I mean when I say this? Is it a statement of my belief that Tim really exists  . . . that he’s a man who really lives and breathes on this planet . . . or is there more substance to it than that?

Of course there is.

It means I believe what he tells me is true; he is a man of his word, he is who he says he is, and he is fully equipped and able to successfully complete all he sets his mind to. When I say I believe in him, what I’m really saying is because I’m his bride and we are one, I trust him with my life and the direction in which he leads us.  I will boldly stand up for him, praise and encourage him, and walk assuredly with him as he moves forward in God’s plan and purpose for us.

There’s a scripture that also says something about “believing in”. It is John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Whosoever BELIEVES IN HIM”; not “whosoever believes He was or is a real person . . . or that he really once existed or still exists”.  There’s another scripture, James 2:19, that says “even the demons believe, and they tremble in terror.”

When I say I believe in Jesus, it means I believe all He has told me is true; His words are trustworthy and true (every single one of them), He is who He says He is, and He will do all He has said He will do.  When I say I believe in Him, what I’m really saying is because I’m his Bride and we are One, I trust Him with my life and the direction in which He’s leading me.  I will boldly stand up for Him, praise and worship Him, and walk assuredly with Him as He leads me forward in His plan and purpose for my life.

And you know what? It’s really easy to believe in Tim . . . because he believes in Jesus.

How about you? Do you believe in Jesus?

— Cheri Henderson

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Be Mine!

Valentine’s Day is just four days away and, in all likelihood, when I go to the grocery store this afternoon, I’ll once again succumb to the tradition of buying a bag or two of those little candy hearts . . . you know, the ones that taste like chalk and are inscribed with cute little endearments like “SWEET”, “CUTE” or “HUG ME”.  My favorite inscription, however, is the one that says, “BE MINE” because it reminds me of Isaiah 43:1 where God says these words to His beloved children: “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you . . . ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.’”

Yes, it’s that time of year again; a day when you may receive or give flowers, balloons, candy or cards to the ones you love!  All over the world, it’s the day that people show their love by giving something tangible to their special some ones . . .  and this reminds me of another scripture about a tangible gift that was given in love to us over 2,000 years ago:

“But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.”   John 3:16

Unlike God’s gift, after Valentine’s Day is over, the flowers will die, the candy will be eaten, the balloons will lose their air and fall to the ground, and the cards will get tossed in a box somewhere or even be thrown away, but God’s love for us, and the love that is shared with one another, will never pass away.

Isaiah 54:10 says “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

And oh, how He loves us! Recently I read an article written by teacher and author, Robert Wells, and in it, he pointed out some amazing traits about God’s Love for us.

His love is perfect. There is nothing that can be added to or taken away from God’s love. It is complete. He cannot love you anymore than he does right now and his love for you yesterday was the same as it is today, and it will be the same tomorrow. And there is absolutely nothing that you can do to cause God to love you any less.

God’s love is eternal. God’s love for us will never cease nor will it ever end. It is unchanging and unalterable, and it will never run out. There is no way that you can use up, exhaust, or consume God’s love.

God’s love is personal. God loves each and every one of us. We are not just a number amongst millions and billions of others. He desires a personal and intimate loving relationship with you. He longs for the time when you simply talk to him, when you think about him, when you ask for his help or guidance, when you ask him to speak to your heart about some matter. His love for you is so great that you walk surrounded and bathed in his love. He wants you to know that he is concerned about every single aspect of your life.

Many ignore him their entire lives, never think about him, never try to find out what he is like, never take the time to get to know him, never talk to him, never ask for his guidance. That has no effect at all on his love for you. He will still wait for that day when you begin to accept him and realize that he wants to rain down upon you that awesome perfect unconditional love. That love is there and it will always be there, just waiting for you. And the person who understands this incredible love and who has put their faith and trust in the hands of Jesus, knows beyond a doubt, that Jesus will never ever give up on anyone.

God’s love is beyond our understanding. Not one of us knows why God loves us and has saved us. Yes, we know that God is love, and that we are his creation, that we are his children, but it is still mysterious to realize that even as we continue to sin, as we continue to fail him, as we continue to break the promises that we make to him, as we continue to be disobedient to him, he still loves us as much as he ever did. God never says, “That’s it, no more love! I’ve had it with you!” You can’t do anything to get God to stop loving you. God’s unconditional love is far beyond our understanding.

Yes, God hates the sin, but even as we are sinning, he still loves us with that perfect unconditional love. It is a love that is simply beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Man’s inability to understand God’s great love is probably best described by Paul in Ephesians 3:19, where in describing God’s love he uses the term, “a love which surpasses all knowledge”.

God’s love is measureless and limitless. There is no way that we can exhaust the love of God. There are no limitations or boundaries on God’s capacity to love, and that is why God deeply loves the most unrepentant sinner and waits anxiously for the day that he asks to be forgiven.

God’s love has no favorites. God does not have favorites and he loves the sinner as much as he loves the saint, but he does have intimates, and these are the people who spend time with him, who talk to him, who listen to him, who obey him, who seek his guidance, who love his word, who want to learn how to love him. These intimates are the ones who want to find God’s best for their lives. And God makes this intimacy available to each and every one of us. So this all powerful, all mighty God of love wants you as one of his close personal intimates.”

Scripture also tells us in 1 John 4:19 that “We love because He first loved us.” His love for us has taught us to love, and the love we receive from God allows us to return that love and spread it to others.

 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  1 John 4:7

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

The number one reason why each of us was born is because God loves us. You were created by God to love and to be loved, and His love for us is the greatest thing in the entire universe, seconded by the love we have for each other. The very essence of God’s being, his personality, his very nature – is love and the whole motivation for God sending Jesus into this world was love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”

As you watch the following video, it is my hope that on this Valentine’s Day and every day of your lives, you will always be reminded of His great love for you and for every person He has created.

Let’s pray.

Thank you, Father, for your amazing love!  For loving me so much that you sent your only Son to die in my place, to take the punishment for my sin, even though I am the one who deserved it.   Thank you for loving me so much that you would show me such mercy!  Help me, Father, to completely surrender to you every part of me . . . every part of my life . . . so that I can truly say I love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.   And as I do, that my heart would be filled with your compassion and great love for others. Father, I want to see others in the same way you do and love them with the same love.  Help me to do that, Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit, so that others will see and come to know your great love. And I ask all of these things in the precious Name of your Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


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Reliable Directions?

Is your source of direction perfect . . . reliable, trustworthy and true? I’m not referring to a comparison of GPS systems here, but rather the teachings, words, and counsel of pastors, teachers, and self-described prophets examined and measured against the Scriptures of the Bible. ‘Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character . . . and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’ (Acts 17:11)

It is imperative, especially in the times in which we now live, that we don’t blindly accept someone’s teaching or ‘word’ just because they’re great speakers with lots of charisma, speak things that make us happy, have a huge following or come highly recommended by a friend, are incredibly popular with other Christians, or at one time were preaching accurately. We must DAILY examine the Scriptures to see if what we’re being told is true . . . and not just one verse or part of a verse that has been provided by the orator in question. ‘Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ (2 Timothy 2:15)

Blatant deception is often easy to recognize. It’s the subtle deception that will worm its way into your life and ultimately kill you. ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.’ (Genesis 3:6) Be forewarned . . . if there is just the tiniest hint of error on the part of a teacher, pastor, or ‘prophet’, turn away from all of it and pay no heed to any of it! Just one small error in direction can cause a person to veer off the right path, become completely lost, or even die in a fiery crash! ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.’ (Matthew 7:13) We already have a reliable source of direction at our fingertips. ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17) ‘These words are trustworthy and true.’ (Revelation 22:6)

Now, more than ever, we must be alert to the devices of an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy as many as possible before the Lord’s return. ‘Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;’ (1 Timothy 4:1) ‘There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.’ (2 Peter 2:1) ‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,’ (2 Timothy 4:3) ‘Guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’, for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.’ (2 Timothy 6:20-21)

Is the direction you’re following perfect . . . reliable, trustworthy and true?

Be sure it is. Your life depends upon it.

–Cheri Henderson

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Savoring the Gift . . . Today and Everyday

945411_10202501249550798_1671146050_nToday, January 20th, 2014, would have been my father’s 86th birthday. As many of you know, four weeks ago my father’s spirit left this planet for heaven and he is now in the presence of the One he loved, the One for whom he lived, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Are birthdays celebrated in heaven? I don’t know; but I do know this! Of all the gifts Dad ever received on his birthday, there are none that compare to what he is experiencing today. Talk about a celebration!  “Praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”  (Psalm 150:1-6)

Dad may not be physically here, but his spirit lives on . . . and there’s nothing preventing me from joining with him in the celebration!  I can almost hear the music! “He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him!” (Exodus 15:2)

As I reminisce about my father’s earthly birthday celebrations, I have to smile. Dad was famous for taking forever to open a gift! When he was handed a brightly wrapped package, he’d set the gift on his lap and study it, grinning. Then he might hold the gift up to the light, softly shake it, or run his hands over it, feeling for any unusual bumps or edges. Surrounded by an audience of expectant family members, he would then begin the process of slowly, excruciatingly removing each piece of scotch tape . . . being ever so careful not to rip or mar the wrapping paper in any way. When the last piece of tape was removed, he would slowly lift up one corner of the wrapping paper, peak inside . . . and look up at his audience with another grin. Finally, he’d reveal the gift much to our delight . . . and relief!  

Dad took great pleasure in the joy of opening a gift. There was no rush to “get on with it”, but rather, he did all he could to savor, prolong, and enjoy the moment. In a similar way, we are surrounded by gifts to be savored and enjoyed that have been created by our heavenly Father for our pleasure. Think about it. Many of the things we see and hear are gifts to us, products of God’s wonderful creative hand. As small as a tiny flower or as grand as a mountain, as lovely as the song of a bird or the sound of a soft summer rain, His gifts are there, waiting to be seen and appreciated and to speak to us in individual, God-designed ways. But, too often we move through life with blinders on, flying along at warp speed, trying to complete all of our many tasks, rushing through our days so quickly we don’t think about creation or our Creator, let alone sit back, relish and enjoy his gifts . . . and Him.

Psalm 71:8 says: “Just as each day brims with your beauty, my mouth brims with praise.”

So take a lesson from my Dad. Slow down. Savor the moment. And truly enjoy “opening the gifts” God has given you. He’ll watch with pleasure.

— Cheri Henderson

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How’s your joy to the world?

Joy to the WorldJOY TO THE WORLD
(A slightly different version, sung to the same melody)

Joy to the world,
the Lord has come
and now He lives in us!
When others watch the way we live,
are peace and joy the things they see?
Is Jesus seen in us?
Have we told them of His love;
of His mercy,
His marvelous grace,
His unfailing love?

Or is it . . .

Joy to myself,
myself alone.
You’re sad. Too bad. Not me.
I found the Lord a while ago.
That suits me fine; I need no more.
You’re on your own, my friend;
I’ll just pray that you get saved
‘cause I’m not good
at talkin’
‘bout this kind of thing.

How will they know
if we don’t care?
Don’t speak. Don’t love. Don’t share.
He came into the world for you,
but came for your lost neighbors too.
At Christmas time and more,
let us live the Word of the Lord,
and speak out
with the Truth of Christ
to all the world.

Joy to the world;
He lives in you.
Sing forth your song of Truth!
We have the joy this sad world needs!
We have His hope, we have His peace!
And they can have it too
if we’d speak forth words of Truth:
“Unto you
a Savior has been born!
He came to die for you!”

– Cheri Henderson

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