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I Samuel 21:10-15
10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? 12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? 15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?

I Samuel 28:7-8
7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. 8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

One day last week I was watching "Dr. Phil" on TV as I cooked dinner. His guests that afternoon consisted of people who wanted to change something about themselves so they could "be themselves". One man shaved his mustache while another shaved his head and got rid of a black leather hat he always wore. There was also a woman who took off all her makeup. All of this was supposed to be done so they could "be themselves". This got me to thinking about the words Shakespeare wrote 400 years ago in his play "As You Like It".

    "All the world's a stage and all the men and women, merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and each one in their time plays many parts."
I tuned into Dr. Phil's show late that day but I gathered from what they were saying the man with the mustache had not seen his upper lip in many years and the woman who wore makeup had never been seen without it. But what I didn't understand was why could they not still be themselves with the mustache or the makeup or the hair or the hat or without or whatever. Why did either having or not having these things have to change who they were or how they felt about who they were? "All the world's a stage. All the men and women, merely players." If this is true, then we are only acting a part each day. We are only pretending to be who we are. I think sometimes this is true of everybody. If you skipped the scripture reading above, go back and read it now. In the first scripture, David was afraid for his life. He needed a place to stay but he was afraid he would be killed so he pretended to be mad so he would not be a threat to the people of the city. In the second scripture Saul was seeking advise from a witch, which was strictly forbidden by God. He knew it was a sin so he disguised himself hoping no one would recognize him as the King of Israel. While I have never disguised myself or pretended to be mad I have hidden my dislike for someone to keep from hurting feelings. I have also hidden my boredom at social functions to keep the peace. I have laughed when I felt sad, smiled when I was in pain and swallowed words that should not have been spoken. The sadness, the pain and the erupting words were all a part of who I was but I held them back so I suppose that means I was on life's stage playing my part but sometimes, that's what is best for my life! And then sometimes you are perceived as acting a part you are not even aware of!

I have two granddaughters, ages four and five, and I love them both dearly. Last weekend my husband and I had a case of temporary insanity and had a sleepover at our house for all four of our grandchildren. On Saturday my five-year-old granddaughter said to me, "You're acting like you like Jenna more than you like me." I just looked at her - completely baffled by her blunt statement. Five-year-olds have a way of coming right to the point without any warning and I had no idea what she was talking about. As I rewound the morning in my mind it suddenly hit me; from her point of view it probably did seem like I liked her cousin more than I did her. I pulled her onto my lap and explained to her that Jenna, who is four, had been somewhat of a klutz all morning and had fallen down about six or seven times. Each time I had picked her up and sat and held her, dried her tears and kissed her boo-boo so it had seemed like I was paying more attention to Jenna than I was her but I really loved them both the same. She thought this over a minute and said, "Oh, so it's just because Jenna falls down a lot, Ok." She hugged me and got down and went back to her playing. So sometimes others see us acting in a manner that we are completely unaware of.

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19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

In the verses above, Paul said he was made all things to all men that he might by all means save some. He could be a Jew to the Jews, under the law to those who were under the law, as if he was without the law to those who were without the law or weak that he might gain the weak. Does this mean that Paul was always acting and never himself. No! I think it means just the opposite. I think it means this was just exactly who Paul was! He was a person who could be all things to all people. He was able to get right there on the other person's level. I teach piano. In one afternoon I may go from an adult student to an eight year old to a fourteen year old back to an adult and then to an eleven year old all in the space of less than three hours. I not only have to change my teaching technique but I must adjust my voice, my vocabulary and my body language. In other words, I have to act different with each student. But at the same time, I must be myself! As we tell others about Christ, we must learn to get down (or up) to their level. But at the same time we must try to be ourselves and not pretend to be someone we're not! That's not easy!

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No one thing makes you who you are. Your hair, your makeup, whether or not you wear glasses, contacts, braces on your teeth, dye your hair, wear a wig, shave your head, walk on crutches, ride in a wheelchair, no one of these things make you who you are. And changing one of them will not miraculously cause you to become yourself. You are already yourself. You have been becoming yourself for years. Sure you can cut your hair. You can stop wearing make up or shave your head. But you will still be the same person you were. You can pretend to be mad (as Paul did). You can disguise yourself as anyone you wish, but you will still be the same person inside. It is so easy to get caught up in the play-acting of the world, so easy to play the role that is often expected of us. Being yourself is just acting as you naturally would in any situation. Not in pretense to show off or impress anyone. Not as if the world were your stage and you were an actor! And often acting as ourselves is the hardest acting of all!

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As you step out on your stage this week
I hope you do not have to be a player.
Just be yourself!
[GOD BLESS]

LOVE, MEME

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