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Posts Tagged ‘#JulieBCosgrove’

Yes, I love playing Bunco with friends. We share great recipes, chat, pray, and encourage each other. In case you are not familiar with this parlor game,  groups of four each take turns rolling three dice. In the first round, you can keep rolling as long as there is a “one dot” on one of the dice. Each “one” is one point. If not, you pass them to the person on your left so they can try to roll as many ones as they can.  If you roll three ones, it is a Bunco. If you roll three of anything else but ones, it is a Baby Bunco. Then it is on to round two, in which each person tries to roll as many twos as they can. Then threes, fours, fives and sixes. Whoever rolls three sixes ends the game. Everyone tallies up their scores. The pot (if there is one) is split between the one with the most Buncos and Baby Buncos, and the one with the most points.

Some may consider this gambling. Yes, it is a game of chance, but isn’t life that way? There is a chance I’ll get cancer. There is a chance I’ll be killed by a drunk driver. There is a chance of rain, according to the weatherman. (Though I wouldn’t bet on it!)

In Bunco, you can get discouraged when you can’t seem to roll any of the number for that round, and have to pass the dice again and again without scoring any points. Or you can cheer on those who are having good rolls, and then get excited if you finally do, too. It is all a matter of perspective. There are only so many calculable rolls. The truth is, no one is going to sneak seven or eight dots onto one of the die, or erase the side with one dot on it.

Life is the same as well. You can pout because someone is more fortunate than you, or you can choose to not let “the devil steal your joy.” You can turn inward, or outward.

For me, it is God’s grace that He only gives us so many variables. Our free will dictates the choices we make, but He isn’t going to sneak in an unfair advantage at the last second, or load the dice to trick us. He knows our hearts, our minds, and our tendencies. He knew us before we were born, according to the psalms.

He knows when we will roll three sixes and end the game of life. We don’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that eventually we will. He also knows we will have other Buncos and Baby Buncos (successes) along the way, and a few dry spells when we can’t seem to make the roll no matter how hard we try. He will be there to cheer us on when we bunco and encourage us when we don’t.

When I play Bunco with my friends, I go for the fun of being with them (and eating good food.) I rejoice when someone is having a great night. And I enjoy catching up on what is happening in their lives. I try not to set my heart on winning so I can genuinely cheer on those who are rolling all the right numbers. It makes the evening, and the game, much more enjoyable.

In life, it is a bit different, however. All who believe that Christ assured victory on the cross are winners in God’s eyes. At the end of the game we all get the prize. So why not relax and enjoy it? It’s your roll, by the way.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I Corinthians 9:25

 


By the way, if you haven’t read my clean cozy mysteries, The Bunco Biddies Mysteries, I’d love for you to give them a try. Dumpster Dicing won Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by a Texas Author, and the fourth one, Til Dice Do Us Part is now on pre-order! It releases June 15th.


 

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But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  Ephesians 5:13

At a women’s retreat about a year ago I won the door prize of an African violet. It bloomed for a while, then stopped. For months it kept putting out leaves but it never bloomed again. I figured maybe it was out of season. But this spring, though it still thrived, was pushing out new leaves…no blooms.

So I went on line and asked, “Why won’t my African Violet bloom?” The top three articles said the same thing– it needs more light. Oh. Okay.  I opened my blind slats a bit more. Within in a few weeks tiny buds appeared.

I realized, that’s me. I can read the Bible, I can pray, I can attend church. I will thrive and continue to grow, but will I blossom? No. Not unless I expose myself to His light regularly, daily.

Wait, you may say. Doesn’t all of that you said accomplish the purpose? Yes, if I don’t filter it out. If I don’t review my grocery list while I am reading about wheat in the Bible, or if my mind doesn’t wander when I pray, or if I concentrate less on the pew in front of me — the man with a cough, the wiggly child, or the woman whose clothes tag is dangling on the outside of her blouse– and more on worship.

We can be exposed to God and yet not bask in His light. We may think enough filters in, and yet we are not blooming the way we should. His power lies dormant inside of us, waiting to burst forth because something is in the way of the rays. Life-stress, anger, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude.

In order to reflect the Son, we need Him shining in our lives daily, unhindered by the blinds of world. If you are not blooming, maybe it is time you opened the blind slats a bit more. You may find what you really need is more exposure in order to bask more in His warm love and soak in His grace. Figure out what is blocking the light and how to adjust your focus. Soon, people will notice a difference in your face and attitude. You will be blossoming.

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Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:8

I’ve watched way too much TV while laid up with health issues. I admit it. One thing I have noticed, though, is the trend to make foods deceptive.  Cauliflower cooked to resemble mashed potatoes or rice. Pasta from zucchini. Cream soups made healthy to fool the family into eating right because it tastes good. Even prepared diet foods that let you eat chocolate cake and still lose the pounds.

What’s wrong with that? Initially I was sucked in. I can eat the foods that were on my “no-no” list, as long as they are altered. Marie Antoinette was right after all. “Let them eat cake!”

The problem, as I see it, is that habits are not really being changed. People are not eating more healthy but stealth-y.

I see it in churches as well. Get ’em in the door anyway you can and then lay on the Gospel. But not to thick. Let them ease into it. Be tolerant. Let them wallow in sin and accept them. Don’t judge.

Like false mashed potatoes, it looks and tastes good. Agreed, people want to eat what they want to eat and believe what they want to believe.  I admit, there is truth in that evangelistic method. Jesus met people in their messes. We should as well.

But he pulled no punches when it came to doling out the truth. As a wise pastor I know one told me, “We need to love them enough as they are to help them change into who God calls them to be.”

While we have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned (Romans 3:23) and we should examine the plank in our own eyes before we point out the speck in our neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5), if we wash down the message of salvation too much, we lose the reason for needing a Savior in the first place. That, my friends, to me is a DANGER:THIN ICE sign.

Perhaps it is best if we don’t try to fool them into eating mashed potatoes that is something else, and claim it is for their own good. Maybe we should be honest about “mashed potatoes’ nutritional value”  in the first place. Then offer them the Bread of Life.

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ID-100179760Coming over a hill the ribbon of road stretched to a highway far in the distance. Sunlight shone on the automobiles that zipped along it. They all glimmered like tiny drops of silver mercury rushing through an invisible tube. From that distance, it was hard to decipher which one was a brand new luxury car just off the lot and which ones were clunkers with dents and scrapes. I couldn’t tell if some were blue, black, white or red. I could barely determine if any were a truck or an SUV.They all looked the same.

So many people identify themselves with the cars they drive. The brand, the age, the style all seem to identify who they are and what life they lead. Ranchers and construction workers want that manly, hefty truck. What teenage boy, or middle-aged man, doesn’t desire a sporty one with a humming engine?  Moms with kids and too many errands want an SUV or a wagon. Business people want the luxury cars that symbolize they are important and successful. Yet from a distance, they all look alike.

“The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.” Psalm 33.13-15 (NLT)

Unlike my human eyes, God sees the difference from a distance, and up close. But He doesn’t just look at the outside. He peers into the heart, where our true self-image lies. He isn’t fooled by the material objects we gather around us the way kids herd fluffy soap bubbles in a bathtub.

How do you want people to see you? Are you being defined by the material things you have accumulated–or not yet done so but covet? Or, are you being defined by the way God is refining you into something more precious than gold? Does your validity depend on the precious metals, jewels and stocks  in your portfolio, or by the fact that your wallet always seems  empty? Or is your wealth an inner one, knowing that you are like a pearl of inestimable price worth dying for to your Lord and Savior?

How do people look at you? Will you just be another glimmering drop in the sea of humanity, like those cars on the highway I saw from a distance? Or will you be a beacon that shines from within because of Christ’s light burning inside of you?

Today, as I looked in the distance onto a highway, God reminded me the important things in life are not the material ones. In what way has God spoken to you today?

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