Monday, December 29, 2014

3 Steps to Your Best New Year’s Resolution

I’ve been thinking about New Year Resolutions. I love to plan and set goals, and this is the time of year conducive to this type of planning. 

I’ve read the books and listened to the podcasts about setting goals. I’ve learned I should think about where I want to be in 5 years or 10 years and work backwards by setting 1 year goals, quarterly goals, and monthly goals to place myself on track to achieving those long term goals. 

So I began thinking of the different areas of life where I would set my goals this year (spiritual, physical, financial, family, career, etc.). When I thought about where I would start with my Bible reading plan, it occurred to me that perhaps the question each year shouldn’t be, “Where do I want to be in a year or more, or what do I want to accomplish?” Instead, shouldn’t the question be, “God, where do You want me to be, and what do You want to accomplish through me?” 

In light of this, I thought I would start at the beginning in Genesis 1:1. But instead of quoting this verse, the one that I began to recite was another that talked about beginnings. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). 

As I opened my Bible and read through John 1:1-4, three steps to setting goals emerged. 

1. Christ first.
John 1:1-2 tells us Christ was in the beginning with God and is God. Therefore Christ should come first in everything I do or plan to do.
2. Follow His lead.
John 1:3 tells us nothing was made without Him. So why would I want to set goals without Him?
3. Look for the light.
John 1:4 tells us life comes from Him, and this life is light. Question to ask. Does His light shine through this goal for my life? 

So my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 is to set goals using this process. They might not all be set by January 1, but as they progress, each one will shine light on the next. The Resolution is from John 1:1-4. The goals and results will follow. 

Maybe not the three steps you were expecting. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Have you set any goals for 2015 or made any resolutions? 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Perils of Recovering From Surgery - My Stir Crazy Thoughts

I have read 3,265 Facebook posts, 372 recipes, 85 blogs, 483 twitter posts, and 1,278 DIY Pins. And today is only Monday. What will I do with myself the rest of this week? 

There is something to be said for having time to prepare for surgery. I would have stocked the house with groceries and anything needed for a month. All laundry would have been washed, dried, folded, and put away. I would have bought 5 new books to read. I might have even decorated early for Christmas. But no, my doctor decides on Wednesday that I’m having surgery, requiring a two-week partial bed-rest recovery, on Friday. The preparation to be gone from work wasn’t much easier.  

Before surgery: The pre-op nurse thought she was being helpful the day before surgery by suggesting they might try to flush out my kidney stones while in the hospital. Kidney stones had nothing to do with this hospital stay. I am rather attached to my kidney stones and am perfectly happy with them staying right where they are, thank you very much. I don’t think she truly understands what flushing them out would mean. She has evidently never passed one.

During surgery: I don’t remember anything. So thankful!

After surgery: The post-op nurse actually had the audacity to suggest I admit to having gas after surgery. She suggests this to a lady that has never admitted to her husband anything like this ever happening in her life thus far. Really? How could she? Sometimes they just don’t think. 

And now my doctor does not seem to share my concern for going back to work quickly. 

At home I only have two main rules: 1) stay out of my laundry room and 2) stay out of my kitchen. Of course, when you are recovering from surgery, a well-meaning husband that loves you invades both of these spaces. I have done well so far by not reloading the dishwasher or refolding his socks. Only those who know me well will understand the magnitude of this feat. I also tried not to cringe at the thought of him grocery shopping without a thought as to what was on sale. I cannot guarantee what tomorrow will bring when he goes back to work. I only promise not to drive yet. That’s it. 

The ladies at our church are graciously bringing us dinner each night. The meals have been wonderful. Through this wonderful gift of service I have learned a couple of things. 1) Per my son, we normally eat the same thing every week and 2) I may need to use some of those recipes I perused this week in the near future.  

So what about tomorrow? Well, I think it’s about time to consider Christmas decorating. My husband goes back to work tomorrow, and I will need something to do while he is gone. Shhhhh. Don’t tell him. We’ll see if he notices when he gets home from work. I can blame the lapse of memory to rest on hormones, or my lack thereof. 

Let me know how you have coped recovering from surgery. I definitely need some help. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sun in My Eyes

I was driving to work this morning with the sun in my eyes. To say this was a bright sunny day would be an understatement. After rains last night, the sun seemed more intense than normal. The sun’s brightness caused traffic to slow down in places because it was hard to see. 

As I drove down the road singing along to one of my favorite songs about what I believe, I thought about Christ’s return and a different type of brightness. It will be the brightness of the Son, and I would venture to say that light will be blinding. His glory will encompass everything around us. 

He will be brighter than the sun. His brightness will destroy evil. He is the bright and morning star. 

I love how God gives us reminders of His presence and our hope. God used the sun that I would normally complain about being in my eyes as a way to remind me of His glory and Christ’s coming return. Can’t wait. 

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory” (Isaiah 60:19). 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fear of Empty Containers


Do you fear empty containers?

When the toilet paper is almost gone, my husband throws away the roll and starts a new one. Our bathroom trash can is full of toilet paper rolls with several sheets of paper still on them. I could unroll what’s left and make a new roll.

When jars of peanut butter or hot sauce or bottles of shampoo or anything else are almost empty, my husband leaves them on the shelf and opens a new one. Before long we could have 5 jars of peanut butter lining the shelf with a tablespoon or two in each.

I think perhaps my husband has a fear of empty containers.

He also doesn’t unload the dishwasher. I’m sure this has nothing to do with my fussing over not being able to find anything the times he has tried.

And he also has a need to fill the car with gas when it gets below half a tank.

But perhaps my husband sets a good example. There is one container that we should never let become empty.

Our spiritual jewelry box.

We need to fill the jewelry box in our heart with the treasures from scripture on a daily basis. As we walk through each day, we can pull out what we need for every encounter on our path. If we aren’t filling it daily, we might find it empty just when we need it most.

When we are feeling spiritually full, the temptation is to slack off. Don’t do it. Don’t slack off. It’s better to overflow spiritually onto those around us than come up empty in a time of crisis.

So do you have a fear of empty containers? Hopefully your spiritual jewelry box never runs dry.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Shoes


Who doesn’t need a new pair of shoes after a bad day or week at work or home? Sometimes I think I could use a new pair every weekend. I love shoes, but I have a hard-to-fit foot. My husband tells me to buy what I want, because he knows I have a hard time finding it in my size. 

But are new shoes really what I want? Having new shoes or clothes makes me feel better for the moment. Yet that moment is soon short-lived. The next week rolls around and the same problems exist. Somehow even a new pair of shoes isn’t enough to stomp out whatever is messing up my day. 

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Even children want shoes that light up.

Luke 1:79 “. . . to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Which woman wouldn’t want a pair of shoes that bring peace?

Romans 10:15 “. . . How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
News shoes are supposed to make our feet beautiful.

Ephesians 6:15 “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”  
New shoes give us that spark that makes us feel like we are ready for anything. 

Isn’t this part of what we are looking for when we buy shoes after a bad day? We are looking for something to distract us from our problems and make us feel better. We need peace in the midst of our circumstances. Even my cute polka dot shoes don’t give light and bring lasting peace. And lasting peace is what we really need. 

So go ahead and buy that new pair of shoes at the mall, but remember that the better choice for shoes is putting on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. It is in the treasures of your spiritual feet sharing your faith and bringing peace, not your physical feet wearing a new pair of shoes. 

When was the last time you bought shoes to feel better? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Faith in World Crisis

There is so much in the news today about attacks on Christians and our faith. Sometimes it’s scary. With recent speculation of terrorists entering my home state of Texas, it’s especially concerning. So what is my part? What can I do? 
Of course, the obvious answer is pray. I need to pray. All Christians need to pray. We need to pray for God’s wisdom and protection. We need to pray for our country. 
And while prayer is definitely top priority, I keep feeling there is more. What impact can I have? 
The answer should be obvious, but sometimes forgotten. We need to speak the Word. Scripture says God’s Word never returns void. It was God speaking that created the world at the beginning of time. He spoke, and it was so. 
If my only impact is my small area of influence, I will speak God’s Word. If those that hear will in turn speak, a larger impact will be made. The multiplication can be far reaching and beyond our scope of belief. 
Join me in prayer. Join me in speaking God’s Word. 
Fill up your spiritual jewelry box, and share it with those who can hear you.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Good Enough

How many people have you heard share their testimony of salvation?  How many have heard yours? 
I believe many of us don’t share our personal stories because we feel they won’t have the same impact as another person’s story. We remember the people that Christ saved from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. We remember the people saved from deep depression, near suicide, and atheism. These are awesome stories of the work Christ has done in their lives and can do in others, and I would not dare to try and take away from the miracles God has done in their lives. 
But . . . What about you? Are you like me? Just an average “good” person?  
In a random gathering of 500 people, on average only 20 will be alcoholics, 25 will suffer with drug addiction, and only 1 will attempt suicide. Where does that leave the other 454?  
I contend that the average person you meet in your day to day life probably considers themself to be a “good” person. Many will hear miraculous deliverance stories and think, “that is great for them, but I don’t have those problems, and I don’t need deliverance.” While they may be intrigued, they do not relate.
Scripture says there is none good but God; and because we have all sinned, none of us are good enough. So how do we reach these everyday “good” people?  We share our “good” story. We share His light in our life.
My story is good enough to share with others, because I wasn’t. And I need to share my story so that others know that they can't be good enough either. My story is good enough – because I wasn’t. What about yours?
Leave a comment with your testimony.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Diamonds of Forgiveness

I have a wonderful, blessed life. I have so much to be thankful for. Yet, there have been times that I have been hurt. I’ve experienced different kinds of abuse. I have felt unloved, forgotten, and alone. I had a choice to make. I could choose to forgive or I could become bitter. 

I’ve read that I should forgive others so God will forgive me.
I’ve read that I should forgive others because God forgave me.
But the greatest reason for forgiveness isn’t about me.

Yes, God loves me.
Yes, God forgives me.
But it’s not about me. 

When someone has hurt me or sinned against me, then they have also hurt or sinned against God. He offers forgiveness to everyone, not just to me. So if God can forgive someone who has hurt me, and He was willing to pay the ultimate price so they could be forgiven through Jesus’ death, then who am I not to forgive? Am I better than God? Jesus already paid the price for their sin. 

Place the diamond of forgiveness in your spiritual jewelry box and wear it when you need to forgive.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

To hate the sin and love the sinner is a balance. We love others as we allow God to love them through us. But this doesn’t mean we condone, accept, embrace, or tolerate sin. Freedom in Christ is not fighting for the right to sin in the name of freedom. It is freedom from the law of sin because of the grace of God. We are not to use our freedom in Christ to fulfill the sinful desires of the flesh. That is a contradiction of the freedoms we have. 

We are becoming a society immune to right and wrong, and sins are now worn as a badge of honor.  We are told to overlook sin in the name of love. I disagree. Love the sinner, but hate the sin. 

The more I seek God and the deeper my relationship with Him grows, the more I see my own shortcomings. Or let’s just call it my sin, for that’s what it is. I am disappointed with the things I do that I shouldn’t, and maybe more importantly the things I don’t do that I should. If I know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that is sin. 

I hate the sin in my own life. But I am unable to express the joy I have in knowing that while God hates my sin, He loves me. He loves me so much that He gave His only Son to pay the price for my sin. 

Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Hate the sin. Show the sinner God’s love. It doesn’t mean you accept the sin, just the sinner. It’s a tough balance, but all things are possible with God. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tolerance - In the Name of Love

Equality for all in the name of love, because God loves everyone the same.
Compassion for the sinner in the name of love, because none of us is without sin.
Forgiveness offered freely in the name of love, without a cost.
Embracing anything and everything in the name of love, a distortion of truth.
Kindness to others in the name of love is obedience, but without the truth it falls short.

The truth of God’s Word has been overshadowed in the name of love.
The truth of a God who loves us all the same, and who is Love.
The truth of a God who sent His Son to die for us in the name of love.
The truth of His Son who paid the price for all sin willingly in the name of love.
The truth of His Son who rose again so we could live in the name of love.

Equality for all in the name of love? God’s plan of redemption.
Compassion for the sinner in the name of love? God’s mercy and grace.
Forgiveness offered freely in the name of love? It cost Jesus His life.
Embracing anything else, even in the name of love, is deception.
Kindness to others is sharing the truth in the name of love and is our responsibility.

In the name of love, our country has slowly been blinded to the truth.
In the name of love, God’s love, we need to open our eyes.
In the name of love, we need to call a sin a sin while sharing God’s love for the sinner.
In the name of love, we need to open the Bible and place God first again. 
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord . . . in the name of love.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Over the Rainbow

I love rainbows. To me they represent God’s promises. Not just a promise that the earth will never be flooded again to destroy all flesh, but a deeper promise of life and love.

This week we have had great summer rain which is not always a normal occurrence in Texas. Several people have posted pictures of rainbows on Facebook, and these pictures immediately reminded me of God’s love.

The lyrics of the song by the same name talk about a land over the rainbow where the skies are blue, the clouds are behind us, and our dreams come true. There is such a place. Jesus said He was going to prepare such a place for us.

When I see a rainbow, I remember God’s promises that I have tucked into my spiritual jewelry box. When I see a rainbow, I look forward to spending eternity in heaven with my Savior. I believe in blue skies and the fulfillment of dreams. I believe in eternity. I believe in heaven. 

What does a rainbow represent to you? 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Spiritual Awakening vs The End Times

My pastor spoke this morning about how we need a spiritual awakening in America. I agree 100%. You probably agree too, in theory. It sounds good. 

Great awakenings in the past brought renewed faith, new believers, and a sweeping return to the principles of God’s Word. But is it just a dream?

Today I hear more teaching on the end times than I do on spiritual awakening. I believe a desire for spiritual awakening has been written off because we are conditioned to believe we live in the last days. 

And everyone knows things will continue to get worse in the last days. Why fight it? It’s prophecy. It’s here. There’s nothing we can do about it.

Really?

We have been living in the last days since Christ rose again and the church as we know it was born. Christ could return today, but He could also return 100 years from now. We should live as if He is coming today but at the same time live as if He isn’t. The best way to live is to be prepared for either.

My prayer is for another great spiritual awakening in America. I believe it is possible, because God says with Him, “All things are possible.” As one of my favorite songs says, “I refuse to let someone else do what God has called me to do myself.”

I want to be part of a great spiritual awakening. I don’t know what my part will be, but I am seeking God’s will for my part whether seemingly small or great. I am seeking it day by day as I step out into my city, my county, my state, and my country.

When that great spiritual awakening comes to America, will you be able to say you were part of it? I pray we both will.

Your thoughts?

Friday, June 13, 2014

5 Steps to Spiritual Beauty

Beauty is judged first and foremost by our five senses. We are influenced by what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. What is modeled for us by others as beautiful influences how we interpret those sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.

While our five senses influence whether or not others perceive us as physically beautiful, our spiritual beauty has more to do with how we perceive others.

Here are my five steps to spiritual beauty.
  1. See others through the lens of God’s love. For God so loved the world. We are all sinners, and Christ died for all because of His great love for all. If God loves us, we ought to love one another.
  2. Hear what others are saying. Take time to listen and hear what others need in their life.
  3. Smell. Inhale the need and exhale the gift. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that Christ gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. Philippians 4:18 tells us that Paul received gifts from the Philippians which he said were a sweet smelling aroma and well pleasing to God. Give to others as a sweet smell to God.
  4. Taste the Word of God. Scripture says to taste and see that the Lord is good and that His words are sweeter than honey. Meditate on the Word, and let it nourish your body.
  5. Touch a life. Throughout the gospels, Jesus touched others. He used touch to heal physically and emotionally. Make it a goal to touch another life for Him. Esteem others higher than yourself, and pour what God gives you into the life of another.

May our adornment not just be outward in how others see us, but inward in how we see others. 

See, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Love through His eyes, listen with His ears, give as a sweet smell to please God, taste and meditate on His word, and pour what He gives you into another. 

These five steps will increase your spiritual beauty. 

How have you found spiritual beauty in your life? Share your thoughts below.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

That's Not My Job

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
 
We all know someone that lives by the letter of the law in their job description.  They aren’t what we would call a team player. While I will concede there may be a time for someone to clarify what is and isn’t their job, many times in a work environment employees are not willing to do more than what they believe is required.

Sometimes this spills over into our personal lives as well. What are your roles at home? Who prepares the meals, who takes out the garbage, and who does the yard work? Have you ever found yourself saying, “that’s not my job” or maybe thinking it?

What about our walk with God? We have defined roles for our pastors and church staff and Bible study leaders and volunteers. We each have our own gifts. But whose job is it really? What is our job as followers of Christ? 

If we are filling our hearts and minds with God’s Word, then we can just reach in and pull out our job descriptions for the day.  Love others as Christ loves us. Forgive others as God forgives us. Help others, have compassion, extend kindness, be patient, share the gospel, be thankful in every situation, trust God, pray, serve others  . . . 

As Christians, we can’t say, “That’s not my job.” God has called each of us to follow Him. What’s your job description for today?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Emerald Mining

The emerald is May’s birthstone. It is considered a symbol of rebirth and is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. While in North Carolina last week, we visited a mine and tried our hand at emerald mining. We had three options and tried them all. 
  • Digging with a shovel for whatever we could find
  • Purchasing and sluicing a prefilled bucket of dirt and gems
  • Screening in the creek
Digging with a shovel with no direction as to where to look or what to look for was disconcerting. The only thing intriguing about this experience was the snake my husband found. 
Sluicing through the dirt in prefilled buckets was a guarantee to find emeralds, but there was no feeling of satisfaction.

Screening in the creek was my favorite. Moving rocks and filtering small shovels of sand through a screen gave the thrill of discovering something of value from my own effort.

I find the same thrill of discovery spending time in God’s Word. It gives me direction so I don’t enter each day helpless to the snakes crossing my path. Though prefilled with treasures, it is only in the moving of rocks that I find the time to filter small shovels of Scripture each day and discover its treasure. 

I pray you will move whatever rocks that might keep you from opening God’s Word. Filter through at least small shovels of Scripture each day. Treasures are waiting to fill your spiritual jewelry box. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Big Picture – 10 Highlights from our trip to North Carolina

Here are ten highlights from our trip last week:
  • Tennessee highways = Road Construction = Patience
  • Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference = Best writer’s conference yet
  • Antiquing – Found a cool book on English from 1909
  • Emerald Mine (more to come on this later)
  • Lunch with friends from last year’s conference
  • Took the southern route home = time in the car with hubby through 7 states = awesome
  • Found a Stuckey’s in North Carolina – Didn’t know they were still around
  • Found a Piggly Wiggly in Mississippi – Didn’t know they were still around
  • Texas roads – Confirmed now by experience that Texas has the best roads
  • GPS navigation = A bigger picture on the tablet

As we drove home on Saturday, we used our GPS. Just choose home, and the “nice” lady gives you turn by turn directions. I also brought my tablet and set up a second navigation system. It was helpful to see the big picture of where we were traveling and the roads around us. I could see alternate routes we might take if we didn’t like the “nice” lady’s instructions.

This reminded me of how God directs us. We may only see the next step or next turn ahead, but God has the tablet in his lap and sees the big picture. If we take the wrong turn, he can give us directions for which road to take to get back on track. “Make a legal U-turn” is not his only option.

I keep coming back to I Chronicles. Chapter 10 verses 13-14 tell us that Saul didn’t inquire of the Lord, so He turned the kingdom over to David. Then in Chapter 14, twice it says David inquired of God. I must remember to inquire of God because He has the big picture.  

“O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You” (I Chronicles 17:20).


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Greatest Healing

I prayed recently for three people who were ill. I didn’t just pray once in a while or check off my prayer list. I had a conviction and a heavy heart to pray for these people and their healing. The first was the young adult daughter of a couple in my Bible fellowship class who had cancer. The second was the husband of a friend that had moved to another state who developed complications from the flu. The third was a sweet baby boy just 18 months old whose grandparents I know.
The first girl had a period of improvement, but then she passed away. The second also passed away too soon. Monday morning I read the news that the precious baby boy I was praying for had moved from this life to the next. While heaven is sweet and by far the best healing, there is heartache for the families left behind. The first young woman left behind her parents, her husband, and a 10 year old daughter now without her mom. The second left his wife of many years and his adult children. And this sweet baby boy left his young brother and sister, parents, and grandparents. 
Three situations which I have felt compelled not just to pray for the families but for healings. I believe God can heal, but this morning shook my world. I believed this baby would be physically healed. As I asked God if He is still in the healing business and why I have had a heavy heart for these three and none were healed, I struggled for answers. I may never have answers this side of heaven, but I still sought God to answer. What I heard was not what I wanted to hear, but it is the truth. Our experiences do not provide reliable truth, but Holy Scripture does.
I remembered Job 38-41 which basically asks, “Who am I to question God?” Well that was harsh, but it stopped my whining. I am not one to question, but I do know His love for me and for these families. He does desire for me to come to Him with my need for understanding and yet continue to trust Him when I don’t understand. For these families I ask for God’s comfort and peace that we cannot understand. For me, I ask for God to show me His works today. Not His works in the past, but His works today. I need to see Him.
Today the earth continues to spin, today the air provides what I need to breathe, today my needs are met, and today His hand holds me. He is the only one that holds me 100% in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, and in death we will not part but only begin eternity together forever in His arms. I feel His presence holding me, and I ask for these families to feel it also. 
Some will say these three were healed as they passed from this life to heaven. This is true. So now we wait and watch as God provides healing to the hearts left behind. And then God says to me, “But this is the greatest healing. This is the greatest miracle beyond our comprehension. Which is harder—to heal the body or heal the heart?” My answer is not to stop praying. My answer is to continue in prayer for those grieving to have their hearts healed. We will all die physically one day; but while we live, our hearts can experience the miracle of healing that only comes from God. This is true, and this will be my continued prayer. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Experiencing Loss

A coworker and friend just stopped by my office to let me know about another lady at work whose mom passed away today. I know what it’s like to lose your mom. My mom passed away about 6 months ago, and I feel like I am doing well with my loss. It’s something you begin to prepare for, although you don’t desire it, when your mom is almost 89 years of age. But talking about this lady’s loss brought back fresh sorrow for my mom. Tears welled unexpectedly.
My own daughter’s dad (my ex-husband) passed away a few weeks after my mom. I think part of my strength in losing my mom was the fact that I was 53 and my daughter was losing her dad at only 25 years of age. I could be strong for her because it somehow seemed her loss was greater, but it wasn’t. When we lose a parent, or anyone close, the sorrow and grief is personal. The healing we have is that of our hope in Christ Jesus. I cannot imagine the pain for those that do not know Christ as their Savior.
I have been reading II Corinthians this month. One of my favorite verses is in chapter 1 verses 3 and 4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  
While I have read this verse and shared it many times, I don’t know that I’ve truly thought about what it means to become that comfort to someone else. This past week I read in Chapter 7 how Paul was comforted by the coming of Titus and how they were both comforted and refreshed by the Corinthians. God showed me how His comfort takes many shapes and forms. He comforts us with His peace that surpasses our understanding, He comforts us through other people, and He comforts us through circumstances. Whatever we need, He knows, and He brings that comfort when we look to Him.
Please pray for my friend and her family and also pray that God will use me to bring comfort to her. In this life, we will have trouble, grief and sorrow; but He has overcome.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 14:54).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

                Acts 12 tells us James, the brother of John, was killed, and Peter was arrested. It also tells us that constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Then God sent an angel to miraculously remove Peter’s chains and free him from prison. When he showed up at a house where a group was praying, they were surprised to see him. I’ve always wondered why they would be surprised if they were praying. Verse 16 says they were astonished.
                Perhaps it was because this was not the expected answer to their prayers. Perhaps they were praying for God to give him strength or for Herod to release him the next day. Perhaps they were praying for the religious leaders that were exciting persecutions to have a change of heart. Perhaps they were praying Peter would endure any beatings and then be released. They might have just been praying for his life after Herod had recently killed James. Or perhaps they were praying for their own safety.
                Whatever they prayed, they were not expecting this miraculous answer. God answered above and beyond their expectations, and they were astonished.  
                How many times do we pray with our predetermined vision of how God will answer? Because of this, how many times do we miss God’s answer to our prayers? Keep your eyes open and look for His answers. Many times, perhaps even most times, He answers in unexpected and unimagined ways.
                The awesome thing about this is that we then know it’s God and not us. Continue to pray and expect the unexpected.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Content or Complacent

            Are you content? Yes or no? Before you answer, realize that both answers are right and wrong. It all depends on the definition of contentment.
            The apostle Paul stated the following in scripture: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11) and also “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).
            Does this mean if we are content, we are happy with the status quo and never strive for more? Or does it mean we are thankful? It’s actually a perfect condition where you have all sufficiency independent of external circumstances. I think of it kind of like joy. The joy of the Lord is not dependent on happiness.
            Many times in our spiritual lives we look at scriptures such as these and claim to be content, but are we actually complacent? Do we just get by with our Sunday spiritual nourishment?  Do we only pray when we have an immediate need? Does a daily devotional book replace personal time in God’s Word? Do we read our Bible and pray out of routine habit without thought, or are we growing spiritually?  Are we challenging ourselves? 
            Paul also stated the following, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
            Don’t allow yourself to be satisfied with cursory routines. Press toward the goals God has for you. Be content, but don’t become complacent.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday

It’s throwback Thursday, and I’m so glad we are not left in the past. It doesn’t seem to matter what the style is today. Twenty years from now, we will be amazed we looked like this.
Think of all advancements and improvements over the years. When I was in high school, my princess phone still had a cord connecting it to the wall. My first real job provided a typewriter with correction tape and carbon paper. My first computer had two floppy disk drives.
                There is also a spiritual application to Throwback Thursday. In the past, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. I’m so glad we are not left there. We are now made alive with Christ. These passages from Ephesians tell us where we were and where we are now.
                So where are we going? Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has prepared good works for each of us. We know where we were. We know where we are. Do you know where you are going? Ask God what good works he has prepared for you to do.
                If you are still living in the throwback of your trespasses and sins, acknowledge Christ as your Savior. Admit your sin, recognize the consequences, accept His payment for your sins through His death and resurrection, and confess Him as your Lord.
                Step into the future of God’s mercy, grace, and love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue -- Really?


            Roses are red, violets are blue, or are they? Most violets are purple. Blue is the exception. Open any crayon box, and you will find the color violet with purple in parentheses. Violet is purple, not blue. So why are we so accepting of the words in this poem that we have all heard and recited since childhood? Does this bother anyone but me? Probably not.
This made me wonder what else we take for granted that we have been told our entire lives without question. Idioms for example: Does crossing your fingers bring good luck? Do little birds really tell secrets? When it’s raining hard, have you ever been hit by a cat or a dog? Has curiosity really ever killed a cat? Well, maybe one of their nine lives; but do they really have eight more?
           What about brand names used for material goods--for example: Kleenex instead of tissue; Jell-o instead of gelatin; Band-Aid for adhesive bandage; Windex for glass cleaner; Q-Tip for cotton swab; Xerox instead of copy (this one is particularly annoying as my company sells Sharp copiers , so don’t Xerox it, copy it—on a Sharp). 
Is there anything constant and guaranteed? Are there any words we can trust without question? Oh, yes!
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
“But the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25).
               We can always depend on the word of the Lord, but don’t take my words or someone else’s words for God’s. Read them yourself in the Bible. You will be glad you did.
             That brings me to my next observation. Not all roses are red. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Beginning - God Speaks

                New Year’s Day in review. I packed up all the Christmas decorations including the Christmas village houses, nativities, Santas, lights, tree, etc. It’s a great way to start the new year by putting my home back together with furniture where it belongs, vacuuming up pine tree needles, cleaning, and decorating anew. Our cats already miss sleeping under the tree on the tree skirt. I also spent time with my hubby and relaxed. I started the day by finishing my read through the book of John and organized my planner with some of my goals for 2014.
                Spiritual goals are as important, more than our physical, emotional, financial, and relational goals. Our spiritual goals have an influence on each of the others. Some of the things I learned from my quick read through John were
1)      It all starts with my family
2)      Miracles can be personal and not always shared with others
3)      Jesus is the light in a dark world
4)      Obey – no excuses or complaining
5)      Use what you have, and let God multiply it
6)      Abide in the word to know the truth
7)      Love one another
                Yes, there are many other things in the book of John, but these were what spoke to me. These are the things that will influence the start of another year – the year 2014. Today I start again in the beginning with Genesis. In the beginning God spoke, and great things happened. It’s no different today. When God speaks, great things happen. I am listening for His voice in 2014.
                Which book of the Bible are you reading right now?