Sunday, March 31, 2019

Be Still and Know...

I love this song! I feel led to share it in its entirety, trusting that it will minister to you, as it does to me. Read the words slowly, letting them sink deeply into your heart and mind. If you have a few extra minutes, listen to it here:

Author: Kathrina von Schlegel
Translator: Jane Borthwick (1855)
Public Domain

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then shall you better know his love, his heart,
who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
from his own fullness all he takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


While looking out the window one day this week, I saw a hummingbird, the first one I'd seen this season. The little bird was perched on the feeder and was sipping the sweet nectar my husband had prepared. I'm sure the little fella was thirsty and exhausted after having traveled from Central America or Mexico to where we live in central Georgia.

According to Internet sources, hummingbirds can fly 23 miles a day during the annual migration. Their tiny hearts beat up to 1, 260 times a minute; their wings flap 15 to 80 times per second! Because their bodies require far more fuel during migration than when they are merely zipping around from flower to flower in a garden, the hummingbirds prepare for the arduous trip by gaining 25-40 percent of their body weight in order to have a sufficient supply of stored energy. 

We don't have to beg the hummingbirds to come to the feeder. Their thirst compels them to come and drink. 

Likewise, our spiritual thirst compels us to accept our Lord's gracious invitation that's found in John 7:37, NKJV: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." He also says, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NKJV). 

Jesus invites us to come to Him and find all that we need: salvation, forgiveness, strength, eternal life.... He provides everything in abundance; but it's up to us to humbly come to Him to receive the blessings He has prepared for us. No matter how needy we are, He will never turn us away! (See John 6:37.)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Let Me!

The words God spoke in the Old Testament book of Hosea 11 warm my heart—and break it. 

In that passage, God says, in essence:

As I read that story and many others (for example, Jeremiah 31:3) that tell how Father God continues to love His wayward children, I wonder, How could God’s people be so blind—and stupid? How could they continue to reject the One who loved them so much?

As I fume over that, I hear Him say to me, “Johnnie, dear Johnnie, you do the same thing! You ignore Me much of the time. You go your own way. You listen to the teachings of those who don’t know Me or love Me. You seem to forget that I am the source of all truth and of all wisdom. You often forget that I am the One who gives you the very air you breathe and all the blessings you enjoy.

“O, precious child, return to Me! I love you with an everlasting love. I want to be a Father to you. I want to teach you and guide you. Let Me!” 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Newly-Prioritized List

When I looked at today’s TO DO list, I thought, I’ll NEVER be able to get all this done! Not in one day. Not in two. Not in three.

Immediately, I felt the all-too-familiar feelings of frustration and despair. I cried out, “Please, Father, show me what to do!” And He did, just as Proverbs 3:5-6 says He will!

He said, in essence, “Your top two priorities each and every day are to honor Me and to meet the needs of others. Do those things first, and then do other tasks as you have time.”

Image by Deedster from
I immediately looked at my list and prioritized the tasks according to what He had said. Now that’s He’s made it clear to me what to do first and second and ..., I no longer feel defeated and stressed. As soon as I finish writing this (which is one of the tasks I do to honor Him and to minister to others), I’ll get up and begin the next thing on my newly-prioritized list. Throughout the day, I’ll continue to work calmly and confidently.

Wisdom from the Word
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on [DO NOT RELY ON, DO NOT TRUST IN] your own understanding [INSIGHT]; [BUT] in all your ways acknowledge Him [SEEK HIS WILL, SUBMIT TO HIM, KNOW HIM] and He shall direct your paths [SHOW YOU / MAKE PLAIN WHICH PATHS TO TAKE] .
Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

Note: When I’m trying to better understand what a verse means, I type it from one translation and then use to see how other versions translate it. I add those additional insights (typed in ALL CAPS) to the translation I used initially. This takes time and looks a bit messy, but it helps me better understand the verse(s). Perhaps you’d like to try that????

Thursday, March 21, 2019

God's Beautiful World

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11, NKJV

Especially in springtime, I readily acknowledge the truth of those words that are in the Bible. 

As I look around at the beautiful world God created, I also think about how He continues to keep everything running on schedule—the seasons, the tides, the sun, the moon….

I conclude that God likes orderliness and harmony—not only in the natural world He created but in every situation.  

Therefore, I say to Him, “O Father, help me to love beauty and orderliness and harmony—like You do. Help me to do all I can to create them wherever I am."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Beautiful Springtime!

Azaleas blooming beside my front porch (2006).
Today is the first official day of spring! Oh, and I do love springtime! Don’t you?

For several weeks now, the flowers have been slowly appearing, bringing such beautiful colors to the landscape. A few hummingbirds have returned to summer in our neighborhood. Soon a dozen or more of them will be zipping around our yard, pausing for a few seconds to sip nectar from one of the three feeders on the deck, and delighting us with their antics and high energy. The temperatures have warmed, compelling us to come out and enjoy the sunshine.

Everything seems to have come alive—filling hearts with hope of better and brighter days. 

In springtime, I delight in seeing what God does with a drab and dirty world and am filled with heightened awareness that He can also create amazing transformations within me—and within you, too!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Follow David's Example

These words David used to describe his world centuries ago could be used to describe our world today:
Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and insincere hearts....They say, " We will lie to our hearts' content. Our lips are our own--who can stop us?

--Psalm 12: 1-4, NLT

What did David do? He cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord answered him. 

How did David respond? He said, "LORD, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land" (Psalm 12:7-8, NLT).

How should we respond? Follow David's example. Cry out to the Lord our God. Tell Him what's on our heart. Tell Him (and truly mean it!) that we trust Him to set things right, no matter how impossible the situation seems to us.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Gifts Galore!

After reading Ann Voskamp's wonderful book, One Thousand Gifts Devotional, I decided to start my own list of 1,000 gifts. I purchased several inexpensive 6" x 9" notebooks at the local Dollar General store and began my list on August 2, 2014. Currently, I’ve listed over 5,000.

As I’m winding down each evening, I
mentally review the day, write down gift after gift (at least a page or two), and thank God for each one I list.

Ann Voskamp makes her entries throughout the day in a journal she keeps on her kitchen counter.

Another writer (Jim Stovall) maintains what he calls "The Golden List." Every morning he adds to it ten things for which he's thankful. 

How we maintain such a list is not the important thing. Becoming aware of and thankful for all the amazing things we already have transforms our attitude. We feel happier and more grateful. 

As we list our gifts day after day, we see how truly rich  we are, no matter our income level or the size of our house. Whining and envy and pessimism gradually disappear. Contentment and optimism increase as we train ourselves to focus on the good things in our life.

Although keeping a gratitude journal does require a few extra minutes of time each day, the time is well spent! 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

In His Hands

O Father, I want to be as pliable as a lump of clay in Your hands and as silent. By that I mean I don’t want to question Your design of me. I acknowledge that You have every right to make me--and to use me--however You wish.

Yet, as You know, Father, I tend to look at other “vessels” You have made and to want to be like them. And, as You also know, I tend to think my many flaws make me of little use to You. Forgive me for demeaning your design of me. You knew exactly what You were doing when You created me. Forgive me for being unwilling to believe You want to use me.

Father, I acknowledge that I am the work of Your hands and that You can and will use me for Your purposes—whether in common or uncommon ways, whether in special service or lowly service. The choice is Yours. I'm content with whatever You choose. I'm excited to see what You will do in me and with me and through me.

Behold as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in Mine (Jeremiah 18:6).

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Never Give Up!

Dr. Jane Goodall, now 84, recalls the wise counsel her mother gave her many years ago when going to Africa and living with the animals and writing books about them was only a dream in young Jane's heart.

"If you really want to do this thing, you will have to work really hard, take advantage of all opportunities -- but never give up." (p.18, Renew magazine, Spring 2019)

Jane took her mother's advice and, consequently, has done far more than she ever imagined.

You and I will benefit from following Jane's mother's advice and that of the apostle Paul. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Don't Muddle the Message!

When a magazine editor complimented me on a column I'd submitted, I thanked him for encouraging me. Then I said: 
 This week, while listening to an interview with Joanna Weaver, I heard her say: "Writing is one of the hardest things I do."
I agree! I love to write, and I do write hundreds (sometimes thousands) of words a day, most of which I never share. 
But when it's time to write something for publication or posting, I really struggle and pray hard before, during, and after!
If I were writing fiction or poetry, etc., I wouldn't be nearly as concerned with "getting it right." But since I'm trying to share as best I can what I feel GOD wants to say through me, I take that assignment VERY SERIOUSLY.
I never want to muddle the message or mislead anyone, although I'm sure I've done both. I think that's the reason I put off writing for the magazine and my blog until I absolutely have to.

In light of that, I humbly ask you, dear reader, to pray that I will write daily and well and that my writing will honor God and bless those who read. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In God's Care

When Mama chose the inscription for Daddy's tombstone, which she would share when it was her turn to be buried beside him in the cemetery of the little country church where they were members, she selected three simple words: In God's Care. 

Those three words summarize what she and Daddy always believed: They were always in God's care--always had been, always would be. That profound truth comforted and strengthened them--and me, too.

They would agree, as I do, with these words spoken by the Apostle Paul: "I am persuaded that neither life nor death nor anything or anyone else can ever separate us from the love of God found in and expressed by Christ Jesus." See Romans 8.

What a comfort! How it strengthens us to face whatever happens to us.

Push Past the Fear

When an entrepreneur planned a team building activity, she didn't realize the rope course would be so high. As she stared at the tall ladder she'd have to climb in order to reach the horizontal telephone pole she'd then have to walk across before dropping to the ground, terror gripped her. But since she was the leader, she forced herself to climb the ladder, totally terrified all the while even though she knew the cables fastened to her body would prevent any serious injury. 

When she reached the top and stepped onto the pole that was waaaay above the ground, she froze. With her right hand, she gripped a suspension cable. With her left she held on to an upright pole. Only when a teammate called out, "You gotta let go to move forward," did she summon the courage to inch forward.

She almost made it to the far end of the pole before losing her balance and free falling (safely!) to the ground, screaming all the while. Even though she fell, she celebrated having done the very thing she'd feared.
Smiling broadly, she said, "Every time you do something that scares you, it builds up your confidence so that can do it one more time--and begin to do things a little scarier and harder. Before you know it, you're doing things you never even dreamed possible."

Spiritual lesson: 
If God calls us to do something that seems impossible, let's step out in faith even if we are scared. If He requires it of us, He will surely enable us to do it. Let's trust Him!

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Joy of Giving

While reading Debora M. Coty's wonderful book, Too Loved to Be Lost, I came across an insight that caused me to look with fresh eyes on the matter of giving. For a long time I've believed this truth expressed in Acts 20:35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (NKJV). I've also learned, as she points out, that givers are richer for having given.

What I had not really thought about was this: Whenever we give, we are acting as God's representatives--His helpers--in meeting the needs of others. Wow! No wonder we feel such joy. And that joy is there even when we think we've given or done very little. It's there because we've expressed God's lovingkindness to another person. And that joy of having been enabled and entrusted to bless another person lingers long after the giving has taken place.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Our Eyes Are on You

Feeling overwhelmed? Thinking there's no way you're going to make it through all the things that are coming toward you? Have no idea what you're going to do?

Such struggles aren't new. In fact, just this week while reading chapter 20 in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles, I learned that Jehoshaphat (the king of Judah) felt that way. He'd been told that a huge army was marching toward Jerusalem (where he lived). He knew that, apart from divine intervention, there was no way he and his people would survive the attack.

So the king and all the people turned to God for help. King Jehoshaphat's entire prayer is so beautiful. (I encourage you to read all of it.) But I'm going to memorize the words in verse 12 so that I can repeat them to God the next time I feel overwhelmed by the things that are coming at me. Perhaps you'd like to do the same.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Lord, Keep Us Easie!

The children of a woman who had been treated cruelly and unjustly said their mother endured such treatment with amazing courage--never flinching, never murmuring. How was she able to do that? According to the children, "The Lord kept her easie."

Wow! What a testimony! That makes me ashamed to mention my struggles, which often seem so challenging, but, by comparison, are actually small. However, as Amy Carmichael points out on p. 189 in her wonderful book, Thou Givest...They Gather, our Lord "knows that we need His grace for them, little though they be; and He can do for us what He did for [her.] He can 'keep us easie.'"

The apostle Paul knew that to be true. Thus, he made this request, as can we: 

When I Am Afraid...