Sunday, July 14, 2019

Storms


Christ does not always immediately 
calm the storms, but He is always willing to calm His child on the basis of His presence. We'll probably never learn to enjoy our storms, but we can learn to enjoy God's presence in the storm!
~Beth Moore

See also Luke 8:22-25.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Freedom Is Available!

On a recent vacation, my husband and I stopped at the Maine State Prison Showroom, a store we’d visited on a previous trip to Thomaston, Maine. All the items (over 600 different kinds) in the store were crafted by inmates.

Although I would have loved to buy one of the handcrafted mahogany tables featuring intricate designs and polished to smooth perfection, I could only buy a few items that were small enough to fit into my suitcase: an ink pen with a smooth wooden barrel, a small pad of note paper that had a pen and ink drawing of a lighthouse on the left side of each page, etc.

After we'd left the store, I said, “It’s so sad that such talented people made bad choices that landed them in prison.” 

Indeed, even though some of the inmates were becoming increasingly skilled artisans, the men were still serving time in prison.

I thought of them a few days after we’d returned home when I heard an actor on a TV show say, “No matter how comfortable your prison is, it is still a prison.”

That is so true, isn't it?

We try to hide the prisons our sins put us in, don’t we? For example, if we are in bondage to gluttony, we may dress our bulging body in pretty clothes that hide our excess weight. If we are addicted to shopping, we accumulate clothes or jewelry or furnishing that make us the envy of our friends. But no matter how we camouflage our particular prison/cell/captivity, the truth remains: we are still in bondage to/held captive by a harmful (Dare I say sinful?) habit--with no release date in sight.

But there's good news! Albert E. Brumley (1905-1977) expressed it clearly in the song "He Set Me Free!" Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXi_1SD1UN and/or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnincfXyZY



Monday, June 10, 2019

Change Your Default?

Although two of the emails I received on the same day came from different people (a photographer and a professional speaker), each contained the same basic advice.  Consider changing your default. 

Those four words lingered in my mind. I was very familiar with the term "default settings," of course, but I looked up the phrase and learned that a default is "a preselected option adopted by a computer program or other mechanism when no alternative is specified by the user or programmer." 

I have a long list of "defaults," don't you? (Things or people that I automatically turn to in certain situations.) For example, I have a "go to" breakfast that I eat most mornings. Thankfully, it's a healthy choice.

But if my regular defaults are harmful to me (or to others) or if they keep me away from benefits provided by other choices, it's definitely time (past time!) to choose new defaults.

Dear Reader, there is one "default," a spiritual one that--once it's set on GOD--should never be changed. The Bible clearly says:

Therefore, He is the One to whom we should automatically turn to every time. If He isn't, then it's time to change that default.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Honor Them!


On the day before Memorial Day 2019, a deep sense of sadness and appreciation swept over me as I watched this video that was shown during the Sunday morning worship service at my church.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKMtoqe9dyA 

Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, GA.
(c) Johnnie Ann Gaskill, August 24, 2014.
 
I felt similar emotions again that evening as I watched the 30th annual Memorial Day Concert on TV. I realized anew the enormity of the sacrifices made by all the brave men and women (and their families) who served in the military to protect the freedoms you and I cherish today. Many of them died while in active combat. All who died were more than just the names on the headstones standing row upon row in national cemeteries. Each was a real person: someone's child or sibling or parent. Hopefully, all were cherished and loved by family and friends during their brief stay on this earth.

May we honor their memory by being profoundly grateful for their lives and by cherishing the freedoms they died to protect. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

No Greater Joy

Both my daughters have careers that involve working with people all day long. Since they live and work in counties outside the one my husband and I live in, I rarely know any of the people in their workday world. Yet, I like hearing the gist of some of their experiences.

I’m always thankful to hear about situations that went well for my daughters. But even when they talk a bit about some of the difficult people they’ve had to deal with, I’m always thrilled to know about those times my daughters responded rightly (that is, in a Christ-like manner).

Upon hearing about such situations, I immediately think of what the Apostle John wrote in a letter to “the beloved Gaius.” 

After hearing that Gaius was “walking in the truth,” John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Yes!


Sunday, May 5, 2019

A “God Thing”

 [NAME], a beautiful woman inside and out, and I agree that our meeting each other was a “God thing” since it was a blessing neither of us could have planned.

But as I recall how I “happened” to stop by the restaurant where she works, I can only conclude that God had indeed directed my “steps” there, although my husband and I thought we were stopping there for a quick lunch based on the suggestion I’d received when I’d paused, on the spur of the moment, and said to two men working at a botanical garden we were visiting that morning, “Where’s a good place to eat lunch?”


When we arrived, [NAME] greeted us and seated us at a table bathed in soft light streaming through a big window that faced a whimsical garden—which delighted me and prompted me to grab my cell phone and start photographing as we waited for our food. When [NAME] again stopped by our table, I started a conversation with her, as is my custom, and learned that we had much in common despite differences in our ages and in life experiences.

I learned that God has placed a deep desire in her heart to write, but that she has shied away from it, for several common reasons: not enough time, not enough knowledge how to do it, not enough confidence, etc. I was able to share with her several sources that would inspire her and teach her how to become a published writer.

Our conversation was fairly brief but so deep. We’ve agreed to keep in touch with each other in order to encourage each other to do what the apostle Paul urged Timothy to do: to stir up the gift that is within you, to fan it into flame, to rekindle that gift God has placed within*—for His glory and the good of others.

Only God could have turned a simple stop for food into a stop for the soul.

* 2 Timothy 1:6

Monday, April 29, 2019

Lessons Little Flowers Have Learned

While drifting in and out of sleep as I listened to BBN radio early one morning, I heard  a beautiful song entitled Little Flowers. I immediately sat up in bed so that I could search the Internet for it. Thankfully, I found several links, including this one: https://youtu.be/Du6I_WgrwUY. Thus, I was able to listen to it again and again, as I hope you will, for it reminds us to learn the lessons the little flowers know, including these two: “rain” is necessary for us to grow; the sun will shine again.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tell us to consider the flowers. They do not toil and spin, yet the Father clothes them in such splendor. Will He not do even more for us? Yes!