Thursday, December 15, 2011

God's Wings

"I will trust under the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 61:4
There are many things in life that might cause us to be fearful.  For many right now fear of the future is a big one.  So many people have watched their life savings drop to zero.  People long past retirement age are scrambling for employment at a time when they should be enjoying the fruit of their life's labor.  The age when you can collect your full social security has been bumped from 65 to 66.  Today I read they're going to bump it even further to 67!  For those 10 years away from collecting it probably won't be there.  Thoughts like these can make me feel anxious about the future.  Fear of the future is closing in on public speaking as the number one fear in America.  Fear of losing your health isn't far behind.  

There are so many things that we can be fearful about that we really have no control over.  That's where faith comes in.  God is in control of everything, all of the time.  So when I find my stomach tightening and my heart racing I close my eyes and picture myself like one of these little birds---under the shadow of His wing.  If God is for me, who can be against me?  If He cares for the birds of the air how much more will He care for me, His child?  I love this picture of the bird sheltering its babies.  I hope you will call it to mind like I do when you begin to feel fearful, whatever the cause.  God is greater, and He loves you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness or Murmuring?

Give thanks in everything—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks for everything—Ephesians 5:20
Pray about everything with thanksgiving—Philippians 4:6
Do all things without murmuring—Philippians 2:14

Thankfulness is the presence of gratitude and the absence of murmuring. Thankfulness is an attitude of appreciation for everything that is received; murmuring is an attitude of complaint for everything that is withheld. Thankfulness is rooted in humility; murmuring is rooted in pride. Thankfulness says, “This is more than I deserve.”; murmuring says, “I deserve more!” Thankfulness is the doorway to contentment; murmuring is the doorway to dissatisfaction. Thankfulness travels on the highway of joy; murmuring travels on the highway of gloom. Thankfulness causes the disposition to be sweet; murmuring causes the disposition to become sour.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100 NLT
There is nothing I can add to this other than "Lord, forgive me for all of the times I have murmured over things withheld (no doubt for my own good) instead of being thankful for all I have which is so much more than I deserve!" Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Looking For A Rainbow

"Instead of looking for a rainbow in your dark cloud, BE a rainbow of blessing to others in the midst of the cloud."

This is a concept the Lord has been pressing into my heart a lot lately.  I've gone through wanting the dark clouds to go away to looking for the "rainbow", the blessing, that He might have for me in the cloud.  But now it seems He's asking me to reach for more---to BE a rainbow.  This is a true challenge because it carries with it the thought that the dark cloud may stay.  It may become the new "normal". 

I don't like to think that things won't turn around for us financially.  I've been hanging on by my fingertips for the moment of deliverance!  Oh, I see the rainbow that's in the cloud.  It certainly has cured me of being a shopaholic.  I've learned to appreciate food on the table.  Dinner out used to a French restaurant.  Now its Carl's Jr. on a coupon "twofer", and I'm so excited to not have to cook!  I've been stunned by the love and generosity of friends.  One even sold some of her jewelry and gave me the money to pay bills. She insisted its what the Lord had told her to do. Talk about love...

I'm certainly more creative for birthday's.  One day the Lord impressed on my heart to give something I loved to someone I loved more.  So for the last year I've been giving special pieces of jewelry to friends on their birthdays, and I've found such joy when I see them wearing it because its a symbol of my love for them.  They've been blessed, but I've been blessed more.  Still, its all been temporary to me, just a way to get by this terrible time.  But what if it doesn't pass?  Will I let the dark cloud swallow my joy?  No, I'm determined to be a rainbow, keeping my joy, sharing my love, and thanking God that I'm rich beyond measure because I belong to Him.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jesus Cares About Peas

In weakness we receive His strength; in conflict we receive His peace; in pain we receive His healing; in uncertainty we receive His guidance; in sorrow we receive His comfort; in heaviness we receive His joy.
Ron Lessin

There's a song by the Christian group Hillsong that I love called "Jesus You're All I Need".  The above quote from Ron Lessin speaks to that so well.  It is an eternal amazement to me that there is no hole in my life that Jesus can't fill.  He desires to have an intimate relationship with me and to be personally involved in my life.  Once I realized that, I stopped saying "amen" after my morning prayers.  Now I just go on into my day talking to Jesus.  If I'm frustrated by a slow driver I tell Jesus.  Usually, He prompts me to pray for the person and my frustration melts away! If I'm stuck in traffic I put in a worship CD and make my car a sanctuary.  I'm almost disappointed when traffic starts to move because I'm enjoying myself so much!  I talk to Him about homeless people, mother's with crying children, people in limousines, whoever crosses my path.  I talk to Him as I grocery shop!   Someone once said to me with a smirk, "You don't really think Jesus cares what brand of peas you buy do you"?  Actually, I do! 

I believe He cares about every aspect of my life, and He knows the end from the beginning. This reality has released others in my life from my expectation that somehow "they" are responsible for my well-being.  All people have their limits.  There is some tipping point with every human being that will cause them to step away from you.  But not Jesus.  When He said "I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5), He meant it!  His love is unconditional and not based on our merit. He love me because its what He's decided to do.

There is no need in your life that Jesus can't meet.  Whatever is lacking, He will fill with Himself, because He cares---even about that brand of peas! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Surfing the Storm

As John Wesley was making his way to Georgia from England aboard a ship in 1735, he watched in total amazement as a community of Moravian passengers continued to worship God and sing in the midst of an Atlantic storm as if nothing were happening. Wesley marveled at this kind of faith. Then he asked God to help him develop a faith for when the big storms blow. If more people were to see that kind of faith today, there would surely be a population explosion of wave-riding believers.
Leonard Sweet in A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe

I'm in the midst of a storm season.  All around me the waves are crashing, the winds are howling, and my boat is getting swamped.  From finances to critically ill friends, I'm being tossed to and fro, desperately fighting to find a safe harbor.  Reading the above devotion gave me new insight into my stormy surroundings.  Instead of looking for the refuge of calm seas and safe circumstances I need to get out of my boat and onto my surfboard and ride!  Any surfer will tell you they live for the big wave because that's the one that carries you faster and higher.  Its the biggest waves in my life that will carry me faster to God and higher with God.  The thrill of victory as I stay on top of my troubles instead of buried under them is exhilarating!  He has my undivided attention as I see "the big one" approaching!  And I never have my ears tuned to His voice as well in calm times as in stormy times.  If I can touch bottom in calm seas I have no need to call on Him.  But when the tsunami heads my way I am fully focused on Him.

I'm reminded of Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the waves and wanted to run out and walk with Him.  He was doing great until he took his eyes off of Jesus and started looking at the storm.  Then he began to sink---BEGAN to sink?  You mean he didn't drop like a rock?  He sloooowly began to slip into the sea?  That's just like I am in my trials.  I don't suddenly fold up under the pressure; I BEGIN to lose heart; I BEGIN to sink.  This gives me time to do what Peter did.  He called out "Jesus!  Save me!"  And Jesus took him by the hand before he went under.  He'll do that for me too.  But what then?  Do I get back into the safety of the boat?  I think there's a better choice.  Since the Lord has pulled me to the top of the waves again, why not get on my spiritual surfboard and ride?  No weapon formed against me shall prosper!  All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose!  Nothing can separate me from the love of God that's in Christ Jesus!  My true riches are in heaven not on earth!  And my treasured friend will be there too where we will be reunited one day.  Now I'm surfing!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best Tombstone

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
-- Charles Spurgeon 

I once attended a funeral for a man who had great accomplishments in life.  He was an inventor, a business man, in fact, a millionaire.  What was sad was the fact that so few people were there.  His family sat there dry eyed looking like they couldn't wait for it to be over so they could go on with their lives.  The man had been so busy with his "accomplishments" that he had neglected his wife and kids.  They wouldn't miss him because they never knew what it was to be with him.

I compare that to the death of a treasured friend, Judy Holte.  You won't find her name in Who's Who, but you'll find it written across the hearts of everyone who knew her.  For Judy everyone else came first.  She was the first one there when there was a need, big or small,  She would laugh with you or cry with you with the same intensity.  I don't think I ever heard her say a mean thing about a person.  In fact, she was always making excuses for the bad behavior of others.  She had a heart of gold---and when she was taken from us suddenly, the church was filled to the brim, and it seated 1300!

The flowers have long since withered, but her sweet fragrance still permeates my life.  It is my prayer that I am daily writing my name on the hearts of everyone God allows to enter my life---just like Judy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Disappointing God

God is not disillusioned with us. He never had any illusions to begin with. -- Luis Palau

There is a simple truth in that statement that strips the devil of one of his favorite ways to torment us---guilt. I can't tell you how often I used to bemoan the fact that I had "let God down".  I could just imagine His profound disappointment in me when I missed the mark---or worse, didn't even aim for the target!  Then one day I heard a brilliant radio teacher simply state that since God knew everything about me before the foundation of the earth, since He knows the end from the beginning, since he knows my thoughts before I think them, because of that, I can never disappoint Him.  He has always known all about me and chosen to love me anyway.  There is such an incredible freedom in that knowledge.  It means I don't have to waste time beating myself up.  I can confess, receive the grace of His forgivness, and immediately move on with life.  He does not fall off His throne when I blow it yet again!  He knows I need a Savior; that's why He sent His Son to pay the price for all of my sin, past, present, and future.  That causes praise to rise in my heart until it bursts free in songs of joy!  There truly is One who will never leave me or forsake me.  The security and acceptance of this brings me to my knees in worship and makes me want to live the best life I possibly can as a response to such love. 
So if you're under a cloud of guilt today, if you've been avoiding your heavenly Father because you think He's mad at you, reject the lie of the enemy right now and fall into the arms of the One who loves you unconditionally, and eternally.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reign In Me

"To reign in life does not mean that we must rule a country or be “the boss.” It means that we reign triumphant over sin and all unloveliness of heart and soul. We reign in righteousness, we reign in peace, we reign in joy, and we reign in love. We reign in life because the kingdom of God, and the King of the kingdom, reign in us."

"...all of the unloveliness of heart and soul"...I love that line!  How often I struggle with unlovely thoughts or attitudes.  The problem exists in the word "struggle".  I'm trying to win the battle against sin in my own strength!  Such an arrogant attitude to think I can be the boss of me!  This devotional thought was a wonderful reminder that I can only reign over sin as I allow the King of the Kingdom, Jesus, to reign over me by His Spirit.  It leads to a simple prayer when temptation comes---"Lord I can't but You can."  When I feel overwhelmed by the demands of life and feel like I can't go on---"I can't but He can".  When my feelings are hurt and I need to forgive---I can't but He can.  When life and people disappoint me and I am losing hope---I can't, but He can.

Lord Jesus, King of the Kingdom of God, please rule and reign in me today.  Have victory over the unloveliness in my heart and soul.  Help me to live in righteousness, peace, joy and love this day and every day.  I ask in the power of Your name, amen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Key to the Handcuffs

"Dr. Albert Bartlett, an expert on compounding, gave this scenario. Let's suppose you're sitting in a water tight baseball stadium which seats over 50,000 people, and you're handcuffed to the top bleacher. Let's say a single drop of water is placed in the center of the stadium and is allowed to double at a rate of 1 time per minute. In other words, 1 drop doubled, equals two drops added to the stadium. The next minute, two drops doubled equals four drops, next minute, four doubled equals eight, and so on. How many minutes do you suppose you'd have before you'd drown? A few months? A few days? Get this -- how about 49 minutes?! That's right; it would take only 49 minutes to drown completely! What's even more remarkable is that at 44 minutes, the amount of water in the stadium would only be at 7%! Seriously, do the math!  You see, the real action takes place only in the last five minutes. It seems like there is all the time in the world and suddenly…perhaps this is one reason the scriptures say the Lord will come as a thief in the night!  I do not want to be sitting there in the top bleacher, oblivious and helpless -- do you? Those of us who are aware of the times have a key to the handcuffs -- discernment, wisdom and faith!"
I can't wrap my mind around that illustration!  But that's the power of multiplication.  If you're a Christian and you've studied the Bible I don't need to tell you that all things are pointing to the return of Jesus to earth for the final judgment.  Every day it becomes more clear that we don't have much time left here.  My concern is that our main focus is to be ready personally by living lives that are obedient to scripture without thinking about the people all around us who aren't ready to make the journey to heaven.
Someone once said, if you passed a house and it was on fire would you just walk by or would you pound on the door shouting a warning?  Easy answer.  Well, we're surrounded by people in burning houses and we're just walking by.  I know why---fear of rejection.  Everyone hates to be rejected. But in the light of eternity, how important is that fear?  Not very.  Using the above illustration, people are handcuffed to the stadium and we have the keys of discernment, wisdom, and faith found in the Word of God.  The water is rising faster and faster.  Are we going to stand by and watch the handcuffed die or will we use the key of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to set them free?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Crock Pot God

"It's not the amount of our work that's important, or the status of it, or the notoriety of it. It's the faithfulness with which we do exactly what He has assigned us. Our lives and labors call for perseverance, persistence, patience, and prayer."

I'm not sure where I read that, but I know it mattered enough for me to write it down.  Sometimes I feel like what I'm doing for God is so much less than He deserves.  I mean, shouldn't I be a missionary in Africa or something?  Instead, I have the joy of teaching a women's Bible Study in Southern California!  Such suffering for the Lord! But you know what?  Its exactly what He has assigned me to do and He's just as pleased when I'm faithful to MY calling as He is to the missionary in Africa when they're faithful in theirs.  

As a ponder my "assignment" I see that it does have a cost; not African heat, snakes or lions, but time.  Most all of my "free" time is spent doing something related to the Bible Study I teach on Tuesday nights.  This group of over 200 women run the gamut of "brand new to the Bible", to "been in the Word all their lives".   The challenge for me is to teach in a way that's clear enough for the first timer and interesting enough for the old pro.  That means lots of research, and lots of time in prayer and in His presence so I always know what HIS plan is for the study rather than mine.  It also means not having as much time as I would like to spend with friends, or doing the other things I enjoy.  But the reward is infinitely greater than the cost.

I'm sure if you think about it, you will see what your current assignment is from the Lord.  I believe being a Mom is a VERY high assignment.  It means laying aside your own life frequently in order to better the life of your child.  Its a 27/7/365 assignment and God is pleased to see you faithfully tending to it. Being single or childless when that's not what you desire can be an assignment also.  It isn't necessarily permanent, but God looks to you to be faithful in it and to reflect the truth that your life is as rich and full as it can be as you live in relationship to Him.  Not an easy assignment.  Whatever your assignment from the Lord, you will be most successful and God-pleasing as you exercise the four "P's" seen in the opening quote:

Perseverance - to persist steadily in an action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite problems or difficulties.  To persist steadily over a long period of time is in opposition to all of our "feelings".  We are a microwave society while our Creator is a crock pot God!  He knows nothing will bring out the best in us like long, slow cooking in the heat of trials.

Persistence -  the ability to resist being disturbed or altered. When time lengthens and things aren't going our way we can easily get upset and complain or alter our course to one that seems more comfortable.  God looks for us stay the course and keep our eyes on Him and not the circumstances.  Remember, He's looking for faithfulness more than success.

Patience - the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.  Patience is perseverance and persistence put together.  Its the ability to not be controlled by our circumstances.  Its to have "the deep settled confidence that God is in control of all of the details of our lives".

Prayer - Prayer is on on going conversation with the Lord.  Did you notice I didn't say monolog?  Prayer involves speaking and listening.  Its not presenting your thoughts to God to be rubber stamped as approved.  Its submitting our thoughts and ideas to Him and then being open for Him to speak to us about them through the Bible, His written Word, through a pastor or teacher, through others, or even through music.

Do you want to do great things for God?  Then faithfully tend to the assignment He's given you right now.  There are no big things or little things to Him.  He's simply looking for faithfulness. 

PS  For those who might be interested and who live in the area, the Bible Study starts again September 6 at 7 pm at Covenant Presbyterian Church in the city of Orange.  We will start our 30 week study on the Gospel of John.  Leave a comment if you would like more details!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

What Is Dying?

What is dying? I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, "She is gone." Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination. The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout, "there she comes" – and that is dying.
-- Bishop Brent from All in the End is Harvest: An anthology for those who grieve, edited by Agnes Whitake

There is so much we don't know about life.  There is even more we don't know about death.  As a Christian, I'm clear in my understanding that death is only something that happens to my earthly body, and that the the real me is then free to live in heaven with the God who created me, and the Savior who redeemed me by paying the price for all of my sin.  I don't fear death---but I fear the process.  I don't fear being with Jesus, but I fear the journey to get there.  

But then I read something like what Bishop Brent wrote and I'm reminded of watching my Mom pass from this life to the next.  She had been sick for five years and was very ready to go.  I stood by her bed and read Psalm 23 out loud to her as her breathing became more and more shallow..."surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever".  My eyes shifted from my Bible to her face and I said, "Mom, you're going to dwell in the house of the Lord forever!"  It was only then that I realized she was no longer breathing.  Her big blue eyes were open wide and there was a look of surprised delight on her face that I'll never forget.  She seemed to be looking past me as if someone else had come into the room.  As I closed her eyes I knew someone had---Jesus had come to take her by the hand so she could board the ship for heaven, her true home.  As she sailed from my sight, she reached the shore of safe harbor where all those who had known her, loved her, and gone before her were waiting to welcome her.  The look on her face was evidence that even the journey could be sweet.  

If dying is to be released to be with the Lord forever, and if He comes to take the journey with me, then there is nothing to fear, is there?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Compass

Your heart is not the compass that God steers by. -- Samuel Rutherford

That statement gave me a jolt. Its so easy to fall into the comfortable place of God as my Father, ready to always give me my heart's desire. But I'm forgetting His Word says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

I think about all of the things my heart has desired over the years and I am so grateful God did NOT give me those things!  He is the only one who knows the end from the beginning.  I have to confess, there are times when I've read the last chapter of a book before I read the first---I know, shame on me.  But sometimes I just have to know everything is going to turn out right or I don't want to waste my time reading it!  I HATE unhappy endings!

Well, the Holy Spirit, speaking through David in Psalm 139, said all of our days were written in a book before there was ever one of them.  God has read the last chapter and knows how it all turns out!  Therefore, He knows just how much refining I need to become all He intends for me to be.  My own heart would never, ever choose suffering.  But the Lord knows that I will be a better and more compassionate person if I go through difficult trials that humble me and bring me to a place of total dependence on Him. 

He also knows the people who need to be in my life, and those who don't. I think back to some of the relationships I wanted so much and how frustrated I was when they didn't work out.  But all along, God had a plan. He was guiding me daily along a path that lead to His perfect will.  He knows what direction that is, and I don't. He holds the compass that will point me in the right direction always. Left to choose my own direction guided by the compass of my heart, I would choose paths that have "roadside bombs" waiting to blow up my life. No, my heart is not a good compass.  It will lead me to ruin.  The true compass for my life is in the hand of my Father in heaven who loves me eternally and unconditionally, and who will guide me safely to my heavenly home.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

"You may not have a lot of money, but you have incredible wealth. You may not have an abundance of things, but you possess more than you could ever ask or think. God has placed within you the greatest treasure anyone can ever possess—it is the life of Jesus Christ. You have, living within you, the beauty of His holiness, the kindness of His grace, the freedom of His truth, the compassion of His mercy, the greatness of His power, and the riches of His love. He has freely lavished upon you a treasure house of blessings that you can freely give away to others."          By Ron Lessin

I really needed to hear this today.  I needed to be reminded that the holiness of Jesus, His grace, His truth, His mercy, His power and His love are all inside of me and available for me to give to others.  Its not about MY personal righteousness (thank goodness) because I can't maintain it moment by moment.  Its not about MY grace because that only goes so far and then I start to judge others.  Its not about MY truth because I find my truth shifts to meet the needs of the moment.  Its not about MY mercy because its so imperfect where others are concerned.  Its not about MY power because I feel so powerless so much of the time.  Its certainly not about MY love because mine is conditional at best. 

But when I tap into the holiness, grace, truth, mercy, power, and love of JESUS that is inside of me in lavish amounts, its then that I can be a treasure house to those around me.  "In me dwells no good thing" according to Romans 7:18---that is, apart from Christ living in me by His Spirit.  He has filled me to overflowing with good things---blessings---to freely give to others.  I left my quiet time today feeling treasure filled, and looking for someone to lavish it upon...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

People Puzzle

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin." 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

"None of us can make it alone. God never meant us to. All the spiritual exercises in the world, no matter how good, will not help us to live victoriously without this connection. It is imperative that we stay connected in wholesome, healthy relationships to safe people as well as to God."

I received this in my email, but don't know where it originated, at least not humanly. It absolutely originated in the heart of God spiritually.  I thank God every day for all of the wonderful, safe people He has placed in my life.  As we connect to each other we're like a strong chain link fence that keeps out the things that attempt to defeat us.  We form a fabric of intricate and colorful design with our differences contrasting each other, bringing out more beauty than if we were on our own.  We become a puzzle that's incomplete with any one piece missing.  My safe people connect me not only to them but to God.  They encourage me to seek Him always, and often He speaks to me through them.

During this time of financial lack I am rich beyond measure because I am wealthy in friends.  We are knit together for all eternity. Through them I am constantly reminded of the things that are really important in life.  Time with them is a taste of heaven.  Thank you Heavenly Father for each and every one of them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Unfortunate Thief

I just HAD to share what happened to me this morning.  I received a call from my Bank, which is the normal state of affairs because of the money we still owe, but this time it was the fraud department!  The woman asked me if I had made any purchases today or yesterday with my debit card.  I said I hadn't, and thought to myself, "What good would it do me when there's only $45 in the account!"  Then she said someone had been making purchase in Texas using my card! I still had my card which meant someone had gotten to my information and made a duplicate.  Of course they had no idea how much money was in my bank account so they started to make purchases testing the water.  The first one was for guess how much---$666!  Satan is never subtle!  Of course it was rejected and the next try was for $365 which was also rejected, then $270 as they tried to find an amount that would work.  I just had to laugh!  I almost felt sorry for them!  Boy did they pick the wrong account!  While we were on the phone a charge for $43 finally went through, which of course the bank will credit back to me.  I don't know if they caught the person or not, but I know they sure had a bad day!  I wonder if the Lord got a chuckle out of it too?  So I guess I have a new soul to pray for.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Designed for Divine Purposes

"He wired us, put us together with specific passions, and designed us for divine purposes...."  

When I read this in a devotion the other day it started me thinking.  What divine purpose am I designed for?  I love that thought!  I'm not just randomly on the earth marking time.  There's no such thing as an unimportant day. God has a plan and a purpose for me.  And I can know that purpose by what my passions are.  God actually designed and formed within me passions that will lead me to perform the purpose He has for my life!  

As I think about my passions, I think all the way back to my very early childhood when I started reading.  I devoured books that were years above my age level.  But more than that, I was driven to read.  My Mom would find me sitting on kitchen counters reading the labels of cans that were in the cupboard!  I couldn't get enough---I read everything.  One year my parents gave me a set of encyclopedias for Christmas (this was way before Google, young readers) and I picked up volume one and started reading.  I read through the whole set like it was a novel series.  I loved learning and studying.  It was, and is, a passion for me.  

When I became a Christian in my early 20's that passion was transferred to the Bible and anything connected to it.  For years I literally marinated my mind in the Word of God, Jewish history, Church history, the works of Christian writers through the ages---anything I could get my hands on that would tell me more about our awesome Father God, His precious Son, and His powerful Holy Spirit.  I can remember starting first thing in the morning after my husband and kids where out the door and not looking at the clock again until 4:00 in the afternoon!  God's Word was literally my food and drink.  

But it was all for myself until 1992 when I was asked to teach a women's evening Bible study.  After 20 years of teaching, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that its my divine purpose.  It's why I'm on this earth.  God formed the passion within me to do His will for my life.  Do you want to know God's will for YOUR life?  Ask yourself, "What is my passion?"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Casey Anthony "NLOE"

"Much like an unkempt garden, Christians are susceptible to being over-run by a critical spirit. We allow a judgmental thought to linger too long, and it takes root. Soon it has infiltrated our lives--including those around us. Rather than being an encourager, a builder for Christ, we've become Satan's destructive tool....How do we avoid the strangling weeds of a critical spirit? Begin looking at things "NLOE" (in light of eternity). Focusing on eternity and desiring others to join us there will certainly help us to be less critical and more about encouraging others and spreading God's love."

This was a powerful devotion for me, especially in light of the Casey Anthony murder trial verdict. Not guilty?? Really??? I found myself full of a critical spirit and judgment, and I couldn't stop talking about it. Before I knew it, I truly was being used as Satan's destructive tool.  But what happens when I look at the trial verdict "NLOE"?  My first thought is that all judgment belongs to the Lord and He will take care of everything in the end.  Casey Anthony is HIS business, not mine.

My second thought is "there but for the grace of God, go I."  I don't like to remember what I was like as a 22 year old who didn't know the Lord.  My life wasn't that different from Casey's.  I was worldly, self-focused, and on a search for pleasure no matter who got hurt in the process.  I was also the mother of a toddler.  I like to think I wouldn't have made some of the choices she did, but I do remember making some poor choices for the sake of my own convenience.

Finally, I realize that if I see her "NLOE" I'll pray that she comes to know the love of Jesus and that she will allow Him to turn her life around.  Jesus loves her----He might not like what she did, but He loves her as a person and doesn't want her to go to hell.  When I heard the verdict, I did.  But today I am seeing her "NLOE" and I'm committed to pray for her salvation.  Where would I be today without those who faithfully prayed for me?  Where would you be?  Would you like to join me in prayer?

Father God, I come to you in the name of my Savior Jesus and I ask you to touch and heal Casey Anthony's twisted soul.  Fill that empty place where her heart should be with the fullness of Your love, joy, and peace.  Bring her to full repentance and then use her life for Your glory. Heal the lives of all who suffered because of her sin.  I thank you that Caylee is safe with You forever.  In light of eternity, take victory out of Satan's hands and redeem this one he seeks to devour.  I ask it in Jesus name, amen.

Who knows?  Maybe one day Casey Anthony will teach a women's Bible Study.  Now THAT would be a victory. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Moving Mountains

"Few things are more persistent and intimidating than our fears and our worries . . . especially when we face them in our own strength."

I read that in a devotion the day after the battle I shared in my last post.  Reaching out in prayer first to the Lord, then asking for prayer from my sisters in Christ, gave me the strength I needed for victory.  To continue my story, I have a special friend in my life that I was in a Bible study with 30 years ago.  I hadn't seen her since that time, but periodically, often with many years in between, she will call me out of the blue and say, "The Lord gave me a song for you in my quiet time", and then she sings to me of His love and compassion for me just when I need it most.  Or she'll say, "God gave me scripture for you," or "I have a Word from the Lord for you," and she will speak directly into my situation which she couldn't possibly know because we haven't had contact in years.  That's how I always know its really the Lord.  

On the very day of my battle I had asked the Lord to send me someone to encourage me and to give me a Word from Him.  I told you about the friends who called, and the visit from my daughter-in-law, but what I didn't tell you was that the phone rang later that day and a familiar voice said, "OK, what's going on; I've been praying for you like crazy!"  It was my prophetic friend just calling  "out of the blue"!  I said, "No, you tell me what you've been hearing from the Lord and then I'll know its from Him".  Everything she said was spot on, and two of the scriptures really resonated with me.  One was Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  The other was Zechariah 4:6-7, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Patty you shall become a plain!" 

The devotion spoke of the discouragement of the the people of Israel after the captivity when they returned to Jerusalem to find a mountain of rubble.  Then the word of the Lord came to them from Zechariah and He encouraged them that by God's power the mountain would become a flat plain.  It went on to say,  "You may be facing a mountain today---a financial mountain, a health mountain, or maybe a relationship mountain.  You have tried your hardest to remove the rubble, but you are tired, and weary, and ready to give up.  It's good when you come to the end of yourself.  That is when you finally reach for God.  Ask the Holy Spirit for help.  Let God show Himself strong on your behalf.  Drop your shovel, stand back, and watch Him move that mountain!" 

Since I read that devotion, I have seen and heard references to mountains everywhere!  As I've stopped trying so hard to MAKE things happen, I've seen God working more and more, and the mountain of debt rubble is beginning to shrink!  We have a long way to go but my hope is restored.  He is giving me hope and a future. When I think about all of the beautiful, loving people He set into motion just to encourage me in my time of need, I am completely in awe.  All praise and glory goes to Him, and my love goes to Him and to all of you who were there for me.  May He repay you in ways I can't.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In A Battle

If God is for us, who can be against us?  I wanted to share an experience I had that I think others can relate to.  As I've shared in past posts, I've been going through a long financial trial as our business has struggled since 2008.  Other trials have peppered my life at the same time and while its been difficult, I can honestly say I was able to see a purpose and also see God working good out of it, and in spite of it. 

I guess what I didn't realize is the toll it was taking emotionally.  Spiritually I was doing fine, but the slow drip, drip, drip, of constant pressure was making its mark.  There was one more "drip" on Tuesday and it overflowed my emotional basin!  I couldn't seem to get a grip on my emotions and I felt like I had fallen in a deep pit and I couldn't get out!  I felt overwhelmed, and hopeless, and helpless.  I knew the enemy was behind it, and I put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and the shoes of the gospel of peace; I took up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit and I tried to stand---but I couldn't.

Then it dawned on me that if I was in a battle I needed more troops to fight with me, so I put out a prayer request.  I also prayed and asked the Lord to send me someone who could encourage me and help me get back on my spiritual feet.  The difference was almost instantaneous.  My phone rang and a precious friend offered to leave work and come be with me.  Another emailed me that she wanted to come over, give me a hug, and leave!  By email and text I started to receive scripture and encouragement, and compassion and love. 

My sweet daughter-in-law, who wasn't even aware of what was going on, "decided" to swing by the house after an appointment (that "decision" was made by God for sure!) and we talked and laughed over iced tea for three hours!  Meanwhile, the phone in our home-based business stopped ringing so we weren't interrupted.  My husband was out on an appointment that lasted the entire day.  By the time she left I was a different person.  It wasn't just her visit, it was everything.  It was feeling cherished.  It was knowing Jesus saw my need and heard my prayer and answered in the most tangible way. 

My situation didn't change a bit, but I did.  It was such a beautiful example of what the Body of Christ, the unity of Believers, is all about.  But there's more, and I'll share it in my next post.  In the meantime, if you're feeling overwhelmed by life, don't try to face it alone.  Jesus sent the disciples out two by two for a reason.  Reach out to your friends and be lifted.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Have Chosen

I Have Chosen:
The best over the acceptable, the right over the popular, the true over the questionable, the light over the shadowed, the extraordinary over the mediocre, the eternal over the momentary, the pure over the tainted, Jesus over all!
Ron Lessin

What a powerful declaration! I can't add anything to it except to turn it into a prayer to start my day.  By the power of God's Spirit within me, may I chose as wisely today.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Knowledge or Wisdom?

"If we were to put the entire world's knowledge from the beginning of time until 1845 on a graph it would measure only one inch tall. From 1845 to 1945--just 100 years--the graph would measure three inches tall. But from 1945 until today the graph would be as tall as [or much taller than] the Washington monument in Washington, DC." 

The great increase in knowledge seems to have created more pressure on our lives, not less.  The more we know the faster we go.  We've been invaded---or at least our privacy has.  First it was telephones that let people into our private sanctuary; call waiting interrupted one conversation with another; then it was pagers (remember those??); then cell phones that followed us into our cars and into restaurants; then email delivered a continuous stream of communication from those we know and those we don't; now its texting and Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin.  It all takes time---TAKES time.  Steals it away.  Do you ever miss simpler times?  Sometimes I do.  I think the key is balance.  Know when to shut it all off.  Make all of these things serve you, not master you.
Knowledge comes at us like a runaway train. But are we any wiser?  Someone once said "wisdom is knowledge applied".  Knowledge itself is useless if not applied. Knowledge that ice cream is full of calories and will cause me to gain weight won't keep me thin if I continue to eat ice cream.  I have to apply that knowledge---I must act on what I know to be true.  I can go to one Bible Study after another and gain all kinds of knowledge, but until I act on it, apply it, live it, that knowledge is worthless.  Pastor Greg Laurie once said being in church won't make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car or being in McDonald's makes you a hamburger!  With all of our knowledge, the world is not closer to God but drawing farther away---at least here in America.

Someone calculated that the human brain is 18 inches from the heart.  How much Biblical truth is stuck in my head as "knowledge" without traveling that 18 inches to my heart as godly "wisdom"? I know to "fear not", so why am I afraid? I know to "seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness" but still find myself consumed with concern about my earthly "stuff". I know I'm supposed to glorify Jesus with my words, thoughts, and actions; I know that in my head.  But that knowledge isn't always acted on in my heart.  Out of my mouth will come crabby or negative words.  My thoughts will sometimes be judgmental or unkind.  My actions will look no different than the world's actions.  My knowledge isn't helping me. I don't need more knowledge, I need to apply what I know.  This is my prayer:  Lord, instead of my knowledge increasing, please help my wisdom to increase.  Enable me to apply what I already know, in Jesus name.  Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Shape Are You In?


"J. B. Phillips’ famous translation of Romans 12:2 is “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold, but instead let yourself be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It’s easy to apply this to the big things in life: immorality, drunkenness, pornography. But Paul has in view the subtle as well as the obvious, as the next chapters prove. And perhaps the best way to expose our failings in this area is to examine the things we do without thinking. It’s those things that show us what our mind is really like…

So what of you? What of me? Has the world squeezed us into its mold? If so, then Paul’s help is clear. I need to take a view of God’s mercy, and offer my whole self to Christ." Whatever You want me to be, I will be. Wherever You want me to go, I will go. Whatever You want me to do, I will do. Here I am Lord, send me. I hold nothing back." Then, having given myself to Him, I must fill my mind with Him. 

-- Mark Barnes"

This devotional really challenged me today as I began to identify so many ways I had been "squeezed into the world's mold."   For some reason, Jello came to mind!  As long as its in the mold, it will maintain that shape.  But if removed from the mold, it softens a little.  The warmer it gets, the more it loses the shape of the mold.  I'm a lot like that Jello.  As long as I stay in the world through what I watch, read or listen to, the more I take on the shape of the world.  But if I'll remove myself and allow the warmth of Jesus and the fire of His Spirit to heat me up, I lose that worldly shape and I'm available to be molded into the image of Christ.  "I must fill my mind with Him".  Have you checked your shape lately?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Peace in the Garden

Yesterday was a breath of fresh air in the midst of troubling times.  I had lunch with a precious friend at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar.  Its a gorgeous oasis of floral delights tucked just off of the busy Pacific Coast Highway.  They have a patio dining restaurant where you can enjoy delicious food surrounded by visual delights and fabulous fragrance.  Its no secret to the birds and butterflies that fill the place.  I was so refreshed by the peace that was there both in the environment and in the company of a caring friend.

It wasn't until I got back home that I realized every day is an opportunity to enter a place of peace.  Jesus promises to be our peace and offers us peace that passes understanding, and peace that's not as the world gives.  As I walked through my own garden of beautiful roses lovingly tended by my green thumbed husband, I realized that my peace comes from remembering who is in control.  When I see the beauty and symmetry of a rose, when I take in its fragrance, I can't help but think, "If my Father in heaven took that much time to create such beauty in something that lives for only days and then is gone, won't He take so much more time with me to make me a creation of spiritual beauty in His Kingdom?  Will anything in all creation come to me that hasn't gone through His hands first?  And if He allows it, can I believe anything else other than it will be used somehow for my good, even if it isn't "good" in itself?" 

I don't like the way things are right now because its painful.  Pruning always is.  I'm going to remember that as I walk through my own God-given garden each day.  God is in control.  He loves me, and He's doing a work in me.  I will look back on all of this one day and be amazed at His wisdom and love.  And He didn't leave me to walk the path alone.  He has given me cherished friends to walk life's path with me.

"Faith is not about everything turning out OK;
                                     Faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To My True Father

Happy Father's Day to my true Father.  No earthly Dad could have the affect on me that You have had.  You're the perfect balance of grace, mercy, and discipline.  I feel cherished always.  You are my Protector;  I feel safe always as I hide myself in you like a little girl standing behind her Dad.  Yet, you know when to "flip the nest over" and make me fly.  I always hate that, but in the end must admit what You did was the best thing for me.

I pray I carry Your resemblance.  I want Your eyes that I might see things from Your perspective.  I want hands like Yours that I might do the things You do and touch the people You touch.  I want feet just like Yours so I will go only the places You would go.  Most importantly, I want Your heart so I can love like You love at all times.  Your Word says I already have Your mind through my oneness with Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:16), so help me use it more, please.

I hope You feel loved and cherished today, not just by me, but by all of Your children.  I don't know how You make each of us feel like we are so special, but You do.  Because of Your faith in me I can reach for the stars.  Because of the hope I have in You I can face whatever life brings my way.  Because of the joy You fill me with I can rejoice always, even in suffering.  And because of the love you lavish on me there is no longer any emptiness inside of me.  You are my everything, my Abba---Daddy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"...for all kings..."

I received an email today that I found disturbing. It spoke about praying a specific scripture for President Obama---Psalm 109:8---which says,

 "Let his days be few and brief; 
and let others step forward to replace him."

I get the joke, and while I'm not a fan of the current president, I am commanded to pray for him.

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth ." 1 Timothy 2:1

" Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. " 1 Peter 2:17

 However, I doubt Psalm 109 is what God had in mind!  In Matthew 5 we're told:

 “You have heard that it was said,‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. "

 If that's how we're supposed to treat our enemies, how do you suppose we should be praying for the President?  How about praying things that will not only bless his life eternally, but the lives of every American as well?  Here are some suggestions:

"And this I pray, that (President Obama's) love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that (he) may approve the things that are excellent, that (he) may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ ."  Phil 1:9-10

"...that (President Obama) may be filled with the knowledge of (God's) will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding ."  Col 1:9

"...that (President Obama) may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God ." Col 4:12

"...that our God would count (President Obama) worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power ." 2 Thess 11 

 Every book of the Bible has something you could pray for our President, things that could change our whole nation.  As you find them, post them under "comments" so I can pray them with you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Love Your Face!

I was there the day you were born.  I watched your Mom all through labor with tears in my eyes because my baby was having a baby.  I remember how you felt in my arms the very first time I held you.  Everyone said it was "just gas" but I know you gave your first smile to your Grammy!  I remember singing to you "I love your face, Megan Grace" and how it would make you giggle.  I remember when it was time for you to go home from a visit with me and I would put my finger on the outside of the car window and you would put your finger in the same place from the inside.  I remember not only throwing kisses but hugs too!  I remember our tea parties for two---coloring Easter eggs---you helping me in the kitchen for Christmas dinner.  I remember the Christmas you sat in front of the fireplace and asked me to "take a movie" of you, then you proceded to give your heart to Jesus.  And yesterday I watched a very grown-up girl in a cap and gown receive her high school diploma, grinning from ear to ear.  Where did the time go?  In the blink of an eye it will be wedding dresses and baby showers, and God willing, I will hold my great-grandchild in my arms.  I love you Megan Grace, and I especially love your face.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Spiritual Spa Treatment

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who offered their wisdom in response to my last post. I not only had comments on this page, but also through personal emails. Believe me, I shed tears over each one and counted the blessing of having so many loving people in my life. But one analogy really hit home with me and then the Lord confirmed it. One of the greatest luxuries of my money problem-free days was spa hopping. One of my favorite spas was Burke-Williams where they had a treatment called "Hunter's Retreat". Here's the description:

Created by Burke Williams to soothe and replenish not only your body, but your spirit as well, this body treatment is one of life’s truly calming experiences. It begins with the application of an exfoliating granular scrub rhythmically massaged into your skin. Then, you are thoroughly cleansed with wheat stalks soaked in exotic, essential oils. All the while, cascades of warm water immerse your entire body. After being toweled dry, a light moisturizing oil is kneaded into your skin. There’s only one word to describe the feeling: reborn.

Sounds positively spiritual, doesn't it? The exfoliation was wonderful because it removed all of that old dead, toughened skin on my body, while the oils left it baby soft again. I think that's what happened during my time away. The whole weekend was like a spa treatment "exfoliating" all of the deadness I had been feeling from a long series of trails. I let down my guard in the presence of cherished friends, and time with them was like soaking in "exotic essential oils", softening me and transferring their own sweet aroma of Christ to me. All the while, the Holy Spirit was scrubbing and cleansing me, covering me with a "cascade of warm water" and anointing me with His "moisturizing oil". I left feeling "reborn".

But just like a spa treatment can leave your skin overly sensitive, so my spiritual pampering left me feeling spiritually sensitive and all of the things of the world that were waiting for me at home in my "real life" hurt! Back in my spa days I made a habit of purchasing some of the oils and lotions used on me so I could continue to moisturize my skin at home until a time when I could return to the spa for another treatment. That's what I needed to do SPIRITUALLY.

God had shown me during my beach retreat that I needed more time with my godly friends to keep me soft and smelling of Jesus; I needed more time alone in His presence where He could examine my heart and " sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians 5:26); I needed to take time to worship Him in song so the Holy Spirit could anoint me with oil that would bring His power back into my life. I had jumped right back into my routine without taking time to do at home all He had shown me at my Spiritual Spa.

The funny thing is, after speaking on a retreat I ALWAYS warn the women to prepare for the valley as they leave the mountain top. But I had neglected to remind myself to prepare for the desert as I left the beach. Thank You Jesus, Lord of my life, Lover of my soul, for reminding me through the wisdom of precious friends.