Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Praying and Singing!

Sometimes when I’m driving alone in my car, I pray for those who live in the houses I’m passing by. Since I rarely know anything about what’s going on with them, I sing the old spiritual song, Kum Ba Ya, which means Come By Here. I make up verses as I go along and offer them as a prayer to God on behalf of the people.

For example, I sing:
Someone needs You, Lord!
Kum ba ya!
Someone needs You, Lord!
Kum ba ya!
Someone needs You, Lord!
O Lord, come by here!

I change the wording in each verse in order to describe various situations in which those persons may find themselves. Sometimes I express my cries for help with the original words (Kum ba ya!); sometimes I say, “Come by here!” 

Either way, the prayers ascend heavenward and are answered. The Lord does come by the homes and hearts of those who are suffering, of those who are grieving, of those who are seeking, of those who are crying, of those who are praying, and so forth. And He knows exactly what’s going on and what He needs to do in order to help them. 

My job, then, is to implore Him to come by, not to tell Him what to do. 

And I pray that when He comes by, the people will open the door and let Him come in.

Sing along here and make “Come by here, Lord,” the cry of your heart—for yourself, as well as for others.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Run Toward or Away?

While walking on the beach, I noticed a bird’s odd behavior. Since it was only a few feet from shore, I paused to watch the waves "wipe it out" time and time again while it (apparently!) feasted on whatever delicacies were in the water.

For several minutes, I watched as the waves crashed against him, changing his direction each time. Yet, when one wiped him out, he'd swim toward the next one, rather than from it. 

I'd never witnessed that kind of behavior before. The shorebirds I'd observed on previous walks would pace slowly in shallow water while keeping a keen eye out to see what the waves brought to them, like the one in this photo. When those birds saw a big wave approaching, they'd run toward the shore, not toward the wave. As soon as the wave retreated, they’d rush to the shallow water to resume their search for the food.

But this bird repeatedly SOUGHT OUT the challenges, apparently considering the reward (feasting) worth whatever physical discomfort the waves inflicted on him.

I learned an important lesson from that bird! Like him, I need to "go for" the challenges I face--rather than run from them. If I run away from opportunities for growth, I'll miss out on much of the abundance God intends for me. 

Dear Reader, will you join me (and the bird!) in "going for the good stuff?"

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Yielded and Still?

Photo by Johnnie Ann Gaskill.
In the 1907 hymn, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” writer Adelaide A. Potter pictures herself as a lump of clay in the hands of the potter. She says she is yielded and still, willing for God to do whatever He chooses with her. 

In so doing, she’s applying to her life this great truth, spoken by the prophet Isaiah many centuries ago:

Although we know we should be still and even though we want to be still as we wait for God to act, it’s hard, isn’t it? Especially if we are in pain. Especially if we have no clue what’s going on. 

At such times, we often behave like young children who are too immature to understand why parents and doctors who are sincerely trying to help them are treating them in ways that often bring more pain. (Think: throat cultures, shots, tubes inserted into infected ears, etc.) 

Such handling makes NO SENSE to a baby or a very young child. Is that child still? NO! Does that child kick and scream? YES! Does his resistance prolong the process and make it more difficult for everyone concerned? YES!

But as the child matures, he learns to be still (well, somewhat still, at least!) when undergoing measures that will help him feel better. Likewise, the more you and I mature in our faith, the more we’ll learn to be still while God does for us--and with us--what He knows is best.

Yielding ourselves to Him--being still and quiet in His loving hands--takes lots of maturity, lots of faith. Our faith grows as we read and practice the principles found in the Bible; as we learn (experience by experience) that our God loves us and wants to help us, rather than harm us; and as we learn from the examples others set for us--and from the insights they share with us.  

Yielded and still? Not always. But increasingly so!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Still Strangely Drawn

In a previous post, I mentioned the song, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. Now, almost two years later, I’m still strangely drawn to its words. They continue to be among the many prayers of my heart, as I hope they are in yours.

To listen to the song, please click here

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Strong At the Core

Perhaps you’re puzzled about why I’ve posted this picture—and why I took it in the first place.

Let me explain.

I was initially drawn to the pretty patterns formed by all those limbs and twigs against the beautiful backdrop provided by the cloudless blue sky. So, I snapped several photos with my iPhone camera. Later, as I looked at them, I thought, The core of my being is strong and central, like the trunk of the tree. From it radiate all my thoughts and actions and attitudes. Although they spread in several directions, like the limbs and twigs, all originate in the core, all remain connected to it, all continue to be supported by it.

As I reflected on that, I recalled the familiar words found in Proverbs 4:23, NIV. They prompted me to create the graphic below. (I made it by topping a screenshot of a graphic with a “sticker” of a heart I found in an app on my phone and topping the sticker with words added via the text tool in that app.)

Both the photo of the tree and the graphic remind me to stay strong and pure at the core of my being since everything about me starts there.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Live a Life of Love

While attending a memorial service, I noticed that all the people who came to the microphone to share a memory of the lady who had passed away talked about how she had expressed love to them. From a preschool child to a grandmother--and all ages in between--came story after story of something sweet and kind she had done for each of them. The ways she expressed her love varied as much as the people and their ages. I concluded that love and warmth and kindness and gentleness and joy had flowed right out of her and onto everyone nearby.

I had known her only a few months; but even in that short time, I, too, had felt her love. I had seen it in her eyes, in her body language, and in her actions. I had heard it in her voice. Yes, her love was genuine. Her love was freely shared with everyone, even with new friends and strangers.

During the memorial service, I thought, I want to show great love to all around me. Whatever else people remember about me, I want to be sure to speak and act in such a way that the main thing they will remember about me is that I lived a life of love.

As I reflected on that, I felt inspired to create a graphic that depicts a woman filled with great love that continually flows from her. After several hours of designing, here's one of the graphics I created. I hope it encourages you to live a life of love! If so, feel free to share it.


Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:34-35)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Love Note for You!

The message on the graphic is a summary of what God says to you and to me on the pages of His Word. 

For example:

πŸ’—In Jeremiah 31:3, God says: "I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself."

πŸ’—In John 3:16 are these familiar yet astonishing words: "For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

πŸ’—1 John 4:19 says, "We love each other because God loved us first." In other words, He showers upon us the kind of love He wants us to share with others. And He loves us before we even begin to love Him, before we even know that He exists! How incredibly wonderful to be loved completely and eternally by a God like that!!!! 


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Living Scattered?

The confession David Hazard makes in one of his prayers is one I need to make:
My Father, something inward tells me I have been living scattered. Sometimes anxious. Restless. Distracted. Wandering inside.
(David's prayer is found on page 14 in a book he compiled. The book is entitled I Come Quietly to Meet You and contains 40 devotionals that were written by Amy Carmichael.)

I, too, am often guilty of living scattered. Sadly, I'm sometimes scarcely aware of the many distractions that shift my focus from God to all the stuff that’s going on around me. For example, my attention is so easily diverted from Him to the news on the TV, to the ringing of the phone, to the ringtone signaling the arrival of a text message, to an unfinished task, to thoughts of what to cook for supper, etc. My mind gets so absorbed with such distractions, coming one after another, that I can go for hours without a single thought about God.

As the distractions increase, my thoughts of God tend to decrease. Then, like David Hazard, I begin to feel anxious. Stress builds. Frustrations increase. Overwhelm sets in.

That changes when I do what David Hazard suggests in another part of his prayer: intentionally and consciously refocus my thoughts on Jesus and what He has done--and is doing--for me (and for others, too).

Thankfully, I'm discovering many ways to do that:

  • Sing or hum a beloved song, like Jesus Loves Me or All the Way My Savior Leads Me (text is below).
  • Sit down to read from the Bible. That helps me refocus, as does taking time to type a prayer to Him. (Typing, as opposed to speaking aloud or just thinking, helps me to stay focused.)
  • Listen to Christian music or sermons while I'm doing household tasks.
  • Talk with God as I fold clothes or cook dinner.
  • Look around, like a young child sometimes does when saying nighttime prayers or blessings at the table, and begin thanking God for the many blessings that surround me.
Ever so slowly, I'm learning that staying focused on Him throughout the day provides far more peace and contentment than living scattered.

You keep him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on you, 
because he trusts in you.
~Isaiah 26:3, ESV

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

~Fanny J. Crosby, 1875 
(Even if you know the tune to this hymn well enough to sing it, 

please try reading the words slowly and thoughtfully, 

taking time to reflect on each phrase.) 

1. All the way my Savior leads me; 

What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt his tender mercy,

Who thro' life has been my guide?

Heav'nly peace, divinest comfort,

Here by faith in him to dwell!

For I know what-e're befall me, 
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know what-ere befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

2. All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for ev'ry trial,
Feeds me with the living bread:
Tho my weary steps may falter,
and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, 
Lo! a spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me, 
Lo! a spring of joy I see.

3. All the way my Savior leads me;
Oh, the full-ness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promis'd
In my Father's house above:
When my spirit, cloth'd immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As the rain comes down...

A rainy Sunday morning in Georgia

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flouish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10, 11, NIV)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A New Heart

As I sought a fuller understanding of the promises found in the 36th chapter of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, I came across these helpful explanations written by godly men who lived centuries ago, which I want to share with you. I pray that God's promise and the insights of these two men will encourage you today.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon, 1834-1892:
The Holy Spirit cannot dwell in the old heart; it is a filthy place, devoid of all good, and full of enmity to God. His very first operation upon our nature is to pull down the old house and build himself a new one, that he may be able to inhabit us consistently with his holy spiritual nature.
Matthew Henry, 1662-1714:
[God promises His people that He will] cleanse them from the pollutions of sin (v. 25) and give them a new heart, a disposition of mind excellent in itself and vastly different from what it was before...instead of a heart of stone, insensible  and inflexible, unable to receive any divine impressions and to return any devout affections, God would give a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, that has spiritual senses exercised, conscious to itself of spiritual pains and pleasures, and complying in every thing with the will of God. Note: Renewing grace works as great a change in the soul as the turning of a dead stone into living flesh....

Friday, February 2, 2018

His Prayer; Our Prayer

I love the prayers found in the Bible, don't you? One of my favorites is found in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles, chapter 29. (I urge you to read all of it so as to understand the setting for the story and to savor the profound truths spoken so beautifully.) It’s a prayer spoken by King David in the hearing of the leaders of Israel whom he had summoned for a major announcement about the building of a magnificent temple, a “house for God.”

May David's prayer be our prayer!