Friday, December 25, 2020
Monday, December 7, 2020
One recent day my daily Bible reading took me to Psalm 18, a psalm David wrote centuries ago after God had miraculously delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, including King Saul. David began his song of praise with a vow to love the Lord God and to trust God to preserve his life. After describing a time (one of many!) when he was in great distress, David summarized the solution: He cried out to God for help. God rescued him.
After reading David’s story of his desperate situation and dramatic rescue, I did what David did. I cried out to God--not for myself but on behalf of a person clinging to life in a distant hospital.
Oh, Father! The pangs of death surround [NAME]. Normally, he would cry out to You for help. But since he may not be conscious enough to do that, I'm crying out for him--and his family. If he is aware of how ill he is, comfort him. Enable him to feel Your love and Your presence. Relieve his pain. Heal his diseased body.
I call upon You for I believe, as David did, that You do hear and respond to the cries of Your children. For years, You have been [NAME’S] strength, his rock, his fortress, his deliverer. Even if he can’t beg You to help him during this crisis, continue to be his shield, his hope, his stronghold.
O LORD GOD, if it pleases You, deal speedily with all the “enemies” that are attacking his body. But if Your divine plan is to call him home, help those of us who love [NAME] to accept Your decision and to realize that even a homegoing is a way of relieving suffering, just not the one we're longing for at this time.
No matter how You choose to rescue [NAME], may all who are praying for him continue to trust You and to continue to say:
Monday, November 23, 2020
Do you know anyone who has not dealt with suffering and sadness and loss this year? I don't. Although we can't help mourning all that we've lost, I hope we will also notice the abundance of good that remains and thank God for it.
For example, my spirits lifted (despite experiencing ongoing heartaches and worries and physical challenges) as I spent a few minutes in my yard a couple of days ago. I thanked God that I was physically able to walk around my yard for the first time since my surgery a couple of months ago. As I limped along (using my cane), I smiled as I saw a few signs of spring--in mid-November! I thanked God not only for the beauty (and the promise of more) but also for the ability to see the pink blooms on an azalea bush and the green paperwhite shoots that had struggled to push through the soil and were standing tall. I enjoyed listening to the birds and thanked God for them--and for the ability to hear them.
Those experiences in the yard didn't change any of the heartbreaking situations or recover any of the great losses, but giving thanks changed me!
May we realize daily this truth expressed by the psalmist centuries ago: "It is good to give thanks to the LORD..." (Psalm 92:1, NKJV).
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
|I took the photo of the map. |
I downloaded the silhouette
Since then, I've received that same advice from other people who are strangers to me and, thus, had no way of knowing that what they were talking about held particular meaning for me. For example, while watching a YouTube video about decluttering, I heard a young woman talk about the importance of not only removing clutter from your home and workspace but also from your life--that is, from your mind and heart and schedule.
As I listened to her talk about removing things like grudges, excuses, fears, comparisons, pointless conversations and activities, and so forth, I realized she was sharing wonderful suggestions for how to travel light, even though she never used those two words.
Several times recently I've read the following verse, a familiar one. But now when I read it, it, too, reminds me to travel light.
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and...run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1a-2b, NKJV).
Dear reader, do you see the wisdom in learning to travel light? If so, what could you remove from your life? Or, what could you cut way back on?
Friday, September 18, 2020
I'm scheduled to have surgery on my right hip tomorrow. Instead of thinking about things that could go terribly wrong, I'm choosing to reassure myself, as David did centuries ago, by reminding myself that the LORD is my shepherd. He is the one who guards me, cares for me, provides for me.... I will trust Him to be with me and to provide all I need during the surgery and during the months of recovery.
Since He has faithfully tended me all my life, why would I doubt Him now?
Saturday, September 12, 2020
At the beginning of Psalm 77, the writer (Asaph) seems to be as confused and scared as someone who’s trying to find his way out of a maze on a foggy night. Perhaps we identify with him when he says,
I cried out to God with my voice…
And He [listened] to me.
…I sought the LORD;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted (Psalm 77:1-2, NKJV).
Even remembering God troubled Asaph. Why? He doesn’t say, but I wonder, Was it because he thought God wasn’t acting like the kind of God he’d known and trusted? That could explain why he complained and felt overwhelmed.
Following the first three verses is the word Selah, which one Bible version translates “Pause in his presence.”
Asaph does that. He remembers the “good old days.” He searches for answers to hard questions: Will the Lord cast off forever? Will He ever be favorable toward me/my nation again? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has God become so angry that He has shut up His tender mercies?
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
While sorting through all my books and trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to donate, I thumbed through one I'd enjoyed many years ago. As I fanned the pages of Holy Sweat: The Remarkable Things Ordinary People Can Do When They Let God Use Them by Tim Hansel, I came to a piece of writing entitled The Road of Life. Since it spoke to me, I want to share it with you.
Please note: I've also found it on multiple sites on the Internet, each presenting it with differences in titles (such as A Tandem Bike Ride with God), layouts (paragraph, poem), and even wording. No one seems to know who wrote the words, but I'm so thankful he or she did! I pray they encourage and inspire you to let Christ be in control of your life.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
|Photo courtesy of artist Kathy Barlow and|
photographer James Magnus
Monday, June 15, 2020
Note: Another FICTION story using these words provided by one of my grandsons:
ing his wavy hair. Being so chillaxed, he startled when someone sat down beside him.
When he and the young woman occasionally caught each other stealing a glimpse of the other, both blushed before she looked away. But one time, she held her gaze, her blue eyes looking even bluer because of the indigo jogging suit she wore.
Smiling, she said, “Do you come here often?”
“Sure,” he said. “I work near here.”
“At Union Theological School.”
“ What do you do there?”
“I’m a seminary professor.”
“You can’t be," she spluttered. "You’re too young!”
He grinned. “Well, I’ve known since I was twelve that God wanted me to know His Word and teach it to others, so I just jumped right into that. After I graduated college, I enrolled at Union and did so well there that the administration asked me to serve on the faculty.”
She lowered her eyes. “I wish my path had been made that clear. I’m still struggling.”
“Have you asked God to reveal His will for your life?”
“Many times. But I’ve given up hope that He will.”
“No. No. What God said a long time ago is still true—and true for you, too.”
Sensing her eagerness to know more, Evan seized the opportunity to quote Jeremiah 29:11 to her. “For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Then Evan added, “You can be sure of that.”
“Thank you for encouraging me. Maybe even this chance meeting is part of God's good plan?”
Evan nodded. “Nothing happens by accident. God uses all our experiences for His glory and our good.”
“I have to go now,” she said, “but could we meet again to talk more about this?”
“I’m available after 3 most days—and my time is God’s time.”
“Well, how about we meet right here tomorrow at five?”
“Certainly. If you’d like, we can walk around the pond as we talk.”
Evan watched her until she disappeared from sight, confident that she, like the ducks, would reappear--which would definitely delight him.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
- As per my request, my 19-year-old granddaughter provided a word/phrase for each of the seven categories I sent to her. I challenged myself to use all seven in a FICTION story.
- The photo is one I took years ago on a street near my house.
- The word count is much higher than in my usual posts, but I hope that won’t be a problem.
- I’d love to know what you think of the story. Please post a comment or send an email.
Monday, June 8, 2020
For example, when I edited this "portrait" of one of the dozens of pink evening primroses growing in a drainage ditch near my mailbox, I decided to add a touch of elegance to it. I think the black background really showcases the loveliness of the common flower. Do you agree?
While reading a bit about it, I learned that it blooms from March through July, usually during the predawn hours, but protects itself by closing its petals during the heat of the day. Several insects visit it, especially the moths that are active at night.
These wildflowers spring up and flourish for a season, just as we do. Yet, God endowed them with great beauty, equipped them with systems that shelter them from the oppressive heat, and allows these delicate blooms to delight and serve other living things He created. I think that's amazing! Don't you?
Sunday, May 31, 2020
As I reflected on such things, I recalled these words contained in an old song: “Troublesome times are here, causing men’s hearts to fear.” R. E. Winsett was right when he wrote them in the 1940s. They remain true today.
Troublesome times ARE here—and have been for centuries. Oh, how sin has marred everything. If my heart is grieved, and it surely is, then God’s heart is grieved even more as He sees what is happening to the people and to the world He created.
Troublesome times can and should lead us to turn to our God, to confess our sins and our shortcomings, to ask Him to forgive us and to restore what sin has stolen from us. Once we’re in right relationship with our God, then let’s ask Him to show us what we—each of us—can do to help ourselves and others recover from the troublesome times.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Peach colored daylilies and buds galore caught my eye as I strolled along the sidewalk. Purple and white irises looked so lovely against a backdrop of hydrangea leaves.
As I happily photographed such beauty, I reminded myself (again!) that the Creator God who designed and sustains everything is the One who is in charge of me, too. Why, then, do I worry?
Monday, May 11, 2020
That’s why the 7th verse in the 10th chapter of Proverbs attracted my attention. I’ve written about it before (see my blog post dated March 5, 2015), but I’m sharing the verse again since I so agree with the truth it expresses. The memories of these dear ones continue to bless me even now as their influence lingers on.
Perhaps you, too, have sweet memories of people who were precious to you. If so, then I know you’ll agree, as I do, with these words written centuries ago:
Sunday, May 3, 2020
I'd discovered her while searching YouTube for what has quickly become one of my favorite songs: O to Be Like Thee. I'd listened to several renditions, including this one, before I found hers..I liked how her sweet and sincere voice expressed so beautifully the "prayer" written by Thomas O. Chisholm (1897).
After finding only three more of her videos on YouTube, I searched other Internet sites but found no recent posts. I wondered, Why did she stop producing and posting? Had something tragic happened? Did she simply give up? If so, why? Because she assumed few people truly enjoyed and/or benefitted from her work?
I've felt that way about my work, as you may have about yours. If so, we know how much we need people to say to us what the apostle Paul said to Timothy, a young Christian who was struggling with the ministry assigned to him. "...use the gift God gave you...let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire...fulfill your ministry...keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant..." (See various translations of 2 Timothy 1:6 and 4:5).
Since we need such encouragement, let's faithfully encourage others. Our words will rekindle their resolve and, possibly, prevent them from giving up!
Sunday, April 12, 2020
The fearful, troubled disciples could have experienced comfort and peace if only they had truly believed Jesus when He repeatedly told them that He would die and that He would also rise again in three days. But as they grappled with their grief, they either forgot what He’d said about His death and resurrection or else refused to believe either would happen. If they had truly believed Him, they could have spent those hours following His death anticipating the miracle of new life for Him—and for them.
Don’t we, like they, think of life as a perpetual “Friday?” Don’t we hyper-focus on the harsh realities and fail to see the good God is bringing out of them? But Romans 8:28 assures us that He can and will cause all things to work together for His glory and our good. Don’t we go through life hopeless and defeated and discouraged and ...?
We may think that way, but we don’t have to! Granted, evidence often indicates that it’s Friday, but let’s refuse to give up on God. Let’s remember Sunday IS coming! Let’s remember the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples prior to His death: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).
He lives in us and is with us at all time. Because He has overcome, we also overcome. Because He lives, we also live—abundantly—both now and throughout all eternity.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Sunday, February 16, 2020
But I watched a video recently about a young adult who expressed love as he went about his regular day. For example, when he noticed a potted plant that was dying due to lack of water, he poured life-giving liquid on the droopy plant that very day (and in the days ahead). The plant began to thrive. When he observed an older person struggling to push a heavily-loaded cart over the curb and onto the sidewalk, he hurried to help out. When he noticed a young mother and her school-age child sitting on the sidewalk and begging for money needed to sustain their lives, he gave them some.
A friend mentioned that this Valentine’s Day she continued an 11-year-old tradition of writing one compliment on each of several paper hearts and making a trail of them from her son’s bedroom door to the kitchen. I pictured his smiling face as he picked up the hearts and read the compliments as he made his way to the breakfast table.
Perhaps you and I could also come up with creative ways to express love? Every day!
Saturday, February 1, 2020
“It will definitely do that,” I replied.
That brief exchange brought to mind this old saying: “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” After reflecting on it, I paraphrased it this way: "Never dismiss or make light of another person's pain until you've suffered as he has."
We can never be in another person’s situation, of course, but once we’ve been in a similar one we understand far better what they’re going through and why they feel and act the way they do.
For example, my friend, who is suffering from back pain, had no prior personal experience with excruciating and unrelenting pain. Being a caring and compassionate person, he'd felt sympathy for those who suffered from back pain. But now that he’s experiencing not only excruciating pain but also the desperation to find relief from it, he feels empathy for anyone who's suffering.
The more empathy we have for others, the greater will be our desire to help them. If we’ve been in a similar situation, we know how much receiving comfort meant to us. And since we want fellow sufferers to be comforted, too, we gladly tell them about who or what helped us in our time of need.
Saturday, January 25, 2020
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
The more I considered what I needed to do, the more overwhelmed I felt. (Does that happen to you, too?) But while reading an email on New Year's Day, I saw a simple solution for decreasing overwhelm. Starting today, do ONE thing! For example: meet one exercise goal for today. Call one friend. Declutter one drawer. Write one paragraph for the new book.
Saturday, January 4, 2020
|Image by Daniel Byram from Pixabay |
Used by permission.
But one answer intrigued me far more than any of the others. "Live." I reflected on those four large, red letters. What exactly did he mean? To feel fully alive rather than dead inside? To thrive rather than shrivel up? To feel excited rather than bored? To experience adventures rather than stay in the same old rut? To feel eager rather than dutiful? To dare rather than to hesitate?
Did he realize the disconnect between the life he had and the life he was created to have? The life he could have--and should have? That's what happens when we settle for being anything less than what God created us to be. And we recognize it, as did the person who wrote, "Before I die, I want to live."
But here's the Good News: We can have an abundant life! How? Believe Him. Receive Him. Experience the life He wants us to enjoy here and throughout eternity.