Cindi Bradley is one of the best writers I know. I first met Cindi about 10 years ago when she moved back to the Huntsville area. I’ve always had an appreciation for Cindi’s family; her Dad, Gary, has been our preacher at Mayfair for over 30 years. Nearly 5 years ago, I moved out of youth ministry to serve as our church’s Associate Minister under Gary’s tutelage. Of the MANY things I’ve learned from Gary, one truth stands head and shoulders above the rest: LOVE YOUR FAMILY. If you need evidence that Gary has “practiced what he’s preached” over the years, you need look no further than his children. Cindi is a gifted speaker; she’s spoken at ladies conferences and workshops around the country for many years. But she also shares her devotional thoughts in a regular series of “Monday Thoughts” which she emails out to people around the country. Cindi has an uncommon ability to articulate her love for God and love for others through the written word. I keep telling her that she ought to publish some of these thoughts someday. Until that day comes, I wanted to give you just a sampling of her tremendous gifts. This is her latest “Monday Thought” from this week. With her permission, I’m sharing it with you all today. May it bless you like it blessed me. Enjoy!
(By the way, if you’re interested in being added to Cindi’s “Monday Thoughts” email list, let me know and I’ll pass your email address on to her.)
February 21, 2011
Who says the beach is only for summer days? NOT ME! That’s why my best friend, Melisa and I give no hesitation to throwing our beach chairs in the car and running down to Destin, Florida even in the dead of winter. This past weekend was an ideal time to celebrate her upcoming birthday and relax a day or two.
Evidently, we managed to pick a weekend when God decided He, too was tired of cold, snowy, dreary days. February 19th felt more like May 19th as we sat in our chairs and soaked the sun. No need for a sweater, no need for hats and gloves, no need to warm up the car before you pull out of the drive- the only thing we didn’t pack enough of was sunscreen. Swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops were the attire of the day. Amazingly, children ran to the water with their boogie boards and gave no thought to jumping right in as if it were the middle of July.
While in Destin, Melisa and I never have to spend a lot of time deciding where to eat dinner. Dewey Destin’s Seafood is our absolute favorite restaurant not only for the great scenery but for the absolute best seafood anywhere on the Gulf coast. Dewey is a “local” so his seafood is from the area and is very fresh. Nothing fancy about the ambiance but that’s what we like about it. You sit at a picnic table and your food comes in a plastic basket. If you want more sweet tea, you get up and get it yourself.
After a restful day of soaking the warm sunshine, we made our way down Highway 98 to the Destin Harbor. We had discussed previously how we wanted to get there in time to watch the sun go down over the Choctawatchee Bay and let me tell you, that’s a sight that can never be put into words. Watching that has got to confuse any atheist. Simply BEAUTIFUL-and based on the number of people who were facing the bay, they appreciated the beauty as much as we did.
Melisa and I walked out on the pier and tried to take as many pictures as we could before the sun dropped beyond the horizon. While standing there, a lady commented on the scenery and asked me if we had ever been there before. I answered her and ended up striking up a conversation. She was from up north- a snow bird and forgoing a long cold winter in Michigan for the sunny skies of Florida. I was wearing a shirt I had bought as a souvenir from New York so she asked, “You girls from New York?” I almost had to laugh and respectfully answered, “No ma’am.”
She chuckled and said, “Well, you sure don’t sound like you’re from New York. Where are you from?”
In a slow southern drawn I jokingly answered, “MICHIGAN!” But, she knew I was being silly. “She lives in Birmingham and I’m from Huntsville, Alabama.”
Then she said, “You didn’t have to tell me. I was going to guess Alabama because you couldn’t pass for a Yankee if you tried.”
My accent gave me away. No way I could convince her that I hailed from anywhere else but the Deep South.
Later that night, I was recalling that conversation and was reminded of a time in the Bible when an accent blew Peter’s cover. Remember when Jesus had been arrested and Peter was standing out in the courtyard? He tried his best to be “incognito” as he warmed his hands by the fire.(Luke 22:55) He just wanted to blend in with the crowd and not be recognized. But, all Peter had to do is open his mouth and he was in trouble. A young girl recognized him but he quickly denied, “Not me. I don’t know him.”
The NIV and other translations read, “Sure you were with him. Your speech gives you away.” I like the King James reading of the verse: “Thy speech betrayeth thee.” I don’t know enough about the language to understand but obviously, there are various dialects and accents in Aramaic just as there is in the English language.
“Your speech gives you away.” Kind of scary, isn’t it? My accent is a clear indication that I’m from the South but are there indicators that I’m a Christian? Does my speech give me away? It’s an interesting cycle- Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Later in Matthew 12:34, He says, “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
That tells me what’s in our hearts is what’s most important to us. Also, what’s in our hearts is eventually going come out of our mouths. Conclusion: we talk about what’s most important to us. We tell our story with our words and our conversations. We pull the curtain back and give a clear view of the window to our hearts when we open our mouths.
Do I find it easy to share what’s on my heart? Do I allow Jesus to occupy my heart so much that I can’t help but talk about Him and share Him with others. I love the story in Mark 5 of the crazy guy yelling and screaming at the Apostles and Jesus. He was the guy possessed by all those demons and Jesus cast them out of him sending them into the pigs. After being in his right mind he begged Jesus to include him in His group. Jesus told him, “No. Go back to your family and tell them what the Lord has done for you.”
Rather simple instruction. Just tell what the Lord has done for you. Make him part of your conversation. Make His will so important to you that you can’t help but make it obvious every time you open your mouth.
Who are you? Whose are you? What matters most to you? Just say a few words- it eventually will be very obvious.
Cindi A. Bradley