God’s Italian Pinch

God’s Italian Pinch

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3 ESV

When our boys were small, we used to drive down to visit my dad and stepmom once every six weeks. Since it was such a long ride, we generally met at church and of course our sons would run to their grandparents and then snuggle in on either side of their gramma in the pew. Now our sons loved their gramma, and would usually try to be good, but almost inevitably one of them would start poking his brother or talking loudly during the sermon.  That is when my stepmom, would quietly reach over and give a good Italian pinch on whichever one was acting up. That got their attention! Suddenly they would sit straight up, quiet down and at least start pretending to listen!

In today’s verse, David prays for God’s correction over the unruliest part of our anatomy – the tongue. He asks God to put a guard over his mouth and a watchman over his lips.  It sounds to me as if He is asking for a good old fashioned Italian Pinch. But for that pinch to work we must start out by sitting close enough to God for Him to reach us. Sure, He might correct is, but just as our sons decided with their gramma, it is worth the risk. Second, when that pinch comes, we can’t run away. Instead, we have to sit up straight and be quiet! Lastly, try to remember that God is getting our attention for a reason. He has a wonderful message for us to hear and we need to do more than just pretend to listen. His guard is on our tongue because God loves us and guards us because we are precious to Him!

My New Year’s Message

The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ Deuteronomy 33:27 ESV

17 years ago we used to bring two of our grandsons to church. At three and one years old this was a challenge during the song service, while I was alone with them and Nancy sang with the worship team. Nathan, who was the older, was generally happy to sit and clap his hands – but not AJ. Oh no, he wanted in on the action and decided that I had to hold him so he could see what was going on! Now, I loved holding him in my arms for the first song, but by the chorus of the second, he started getting heavy and by the third I was desperate for some help. Today’s verse talks about God’s everlasting arms and I discovered that mine most definitely were not!

As we enter this new year, with all of its challenges, opportunities and scary unknowns, we need the One whose arms alone can carry us through. If we will trust Christ as Savior, then whatever we face we can know that God’s got us in His arms. They are underneath us even when we are at our lowest and He will never let us go!

Learning From Our Latino Friends

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers
Proverbs 17:6 ESV

Four years ago, we retired and moved to Florida. Oh, the weather is grand, and I tolerate the heat and humidity, recalling that I will never have to dig my car out of three feet of snow again! We live in a nice quiet neighborhood, go to a nice church and life is easier. But I miss the Brazilian church where we attended and served on staff for 16 years. With Grandparent’s Day just around the corner, I am missing more and more, how our Brazilian brothers and sisters related to older people. Now, of course our Anglo church is respectful of older folks, and schedules lots of senior stuff, like luncheons and trips, but I miss being invited to birthday parties for 1 year-old’s and being asked to pray a blessing before we sang – Parabens pra voce! (Happy birthday). I miss heading out with everyone else for ice cream on hot summer nights after church and having young people hanging around with us at the church picnics.

Today’s verse lays out the model that God has in mind for us. It says that older people’s greatest glory is not going on a cruise with a bunch of other old folks but being included and honored among the people who are their children and grandchildren. One custom I loved was called “Bencoes” (Blessings) This meant that when a family visit was over, the young ones would run to their uncles, aunts or grandparents and ask for blessings before they left for home. They were remembering that we older people are carrying a blessing to give. So, let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give away a blessing to the younger people around me?” or if you are that younger person, “Who can I honor by asking their blessings on my life today?”