Sunday, September 23, 2012

Simply Put...

Cheating a little today, I’ll borrow from my recent attempt at writing a devotion.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (KJV)
We find ourselves at divine appointments without realizing we had one to show up for. In His infinite knowledge of past, present and future, God always shows up on time.
At the lowest point in my life, a night I considered suicide, God provided the divine connection to steer me into His Word and plant me on the living room floor with instructions to rejoice.
Looking back, it’s easy to see, at least in part, what God was doing in my life that night. From the turmoil of suicidal thoughts to the relentless peace and power that comes from rejoicing, only God could have pulled it off so effortlessly. With no biblical knowledge, I had to concede that He was there with me, not only to comfort me, but also to empower me.
Though circumstances didn’t change, God being in the midst of them changed me.
So began my journey into God Himself; or at least the part of the journey that rises to the conscious mind. He knew me before He formed me in my mother’s belly; He had been wooing me a long time.
When things look so bleak that there’s no seeable fork in the road, no place to turn around, no light to even follow the pavement, we can praise Him. We don’t even have to focus on the things we’re praising Him for; it’s enough to praise Him for Who He is.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

To Autumn With Intent

The dog-days-of-summer are winding down, giving way to weather more like a finicky cat. Chilly mornings yield to hot afternoons that turn into grab-your-jacket evenings. Nighttime gets down right cold.
To me, autumn signals a throw back to when I was a child and September meant back-to-school, get down to business and learn; always seeking new points to ponder and finding questions to ask at every turn. I loved it!
Smiles can’t hide from the memories of tomato soup and crackers, gray skies drenching us with rain and winds that could cut through any coat. The promises of snow on the horizon and the teasing of an Indian summer were the backdrop to countless hopes and expectations of what the new school year would bring.
Blending in with the scenery, not noticed in any crowd, I could watch without hiding, observing everything, wondering what the future held for me. In my own little world, I had purpose – though I didn’t always understand what it was.
This colorful season makes me want to get busy, as if summer was for relaxing, like the summer vacations from childhood. Fall means it’s time to get serious.
What’s on your to-do list? Leave your excuses in the shadows of summer and prepare to cross off the things on that list with determination.
Breathe in the aroma of crunching leaves beneath your feet. Close your eyes and experience that sunshine on your face. Smile more. See what’s in front of you, actually look at it. Listen to the sounds around you. Touch things just for the sake of feeling them. Keep the promises you’ve made to yourself. Today begins a new season in your life. The past has passed – tomorrow is new, intentionally create it.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nothing Like a Great Meal!

This weekend was long. It started out fun but ended up wearing my patience thin.
You know that rumble you get in your stomach when it’s been too long since your last meal? That’s the rumble in my spirit when I’ve gone too long without God’s Word. It manifests itself in irritability and lack of patience, vulnerability to offense, among other things. My spirit feels angry when it’s hungry.
When I find I’m being easily offended, I either need to make time for a meal; some serious reading of the Word, or at the very least, a snack.
Christian books are great and there’s plenty of time for gleaning from the wisdom God shares with us to share with each other, but there’s nothing like digging into the Word.
Sometimes I opt to listen to the Word via – where you’re given the option to hear it read to you. So when I’m doing something mindless (and quiet), like dusting, I’ll do that. However, with as many questions that get filtered through my mind, I often stop my dusting, grab my pen and scribble notes. Failure to do so would result in me gleaning less from my meal; like standing up while scarfing down a quick burger. It may fill your belly, but it’s a lot less satisfying than sitting down to enjoy a full, healthy, meal with veggies. Not to mention the indigestion you’re likely to get from swallowing that burger without adequate time to chew.
So, while listening to the Bible is good, sitting down to absorb what I’m learning is better.
All of that said, the mere hearing of the Word will encourage our spirits and lift our moods. I find that the offense I may have been carrying around all morning is much easier to let go of, it’s easier to smile, it’s easier to make good decisions like – yes, I’ll go for that walk, instead of simply thinking about it while I snack or play around on the internet.
It’s much easier to be thankful in all things and it’s easier to love when we’re in God’s Word, consistently.
I’m reading Matthew today. Where are you?
(Photo courtesy

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Love is.....a Challenge

This morning I was challenged to take a serious look at the famous “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians – in the Amplified version, and figure out where my weaknesses lie. Here it is so you can see what I’m looking at. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement in my love life.


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

6 It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

7 Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

8 Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].


I found my biggest areas of concern in verse 5 – sometimes I can be very petty or touchy, easily offended. I probably get resentful, too. And let’s face it, no one likes having evil done to them or to someone they love. I mean, how do you not pay attention when you’ve “suffered wrong”?


I can’t stop there, like most of us, I want my own way most of the time; okay, all the time. If I didn’t think my way was the best way, I wouldn’t want to do it that way either.


So, how do I overcome these obstacles to love?


First, I need to recognize when I’m behaving this way. Along with the challenge to take a look at this, came the story of a woman overcoming her vulnerable points and purposefully walking in love. It will take discipline and a conscious awareness of how I’m reacting to the people and situations around me. There’s really no excuse for “allowing them” to cause me to not walk in love. Like the woman who overcame, I need to keep this issue in front of my face. She posted note cards all over the place, reminding her to watch out for her pitfalls and convicting her when the feelings came to behave in an unloving way. (Unloving as in not loving like God wants us to love.) So note cards might be helpful – but I have to be willing to notice them.


I can be stubborn, hence, that part about doing things my way. My way leads to destruction and death. (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 NIV) I can’t just quote those scriptures if I’m not going to live like I believe them. This is going to take some exercise. I’m not fond of exercise…..

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Is This Trial Too Hard?

Have you heard the one about the man stuffing his pockets? Seems Saint Peter saw an old man scurrying around heaven with bulging pockets and a smug smile on his face. He said to the man, “Show me what you’re hiding there.” The man hung his head and pulled out a nice-sized chunk of gold. With a laugh, Peter asked, “What? Why are you shoving pavement into your pockets?”
In the Bible, gold is sometimes used to represent faith – it’s the greatest treasure we have, and that’s why the devil is after it. It may appear he’s after our children, our finances, our health or our successes, but he’s actually targeting the thing that holds all those things upright, our faith.
This morning in church, our pastor was quick to point out that our battle isn’t with the devil, he’s already defeated. He said you’ll wear yourself out trying to fight a dead man. He went on to teach us that we’re to fight the good fight of faith, coming against offense and jealousies and anything else that would try to steal away our faith. Tests and trials won’t destroy our faith, they will reveal our faith.
Yet, we resent the trials we face. What good can come of this, we ask?
It’s the dross in our gold; the impurities in our faith, that hold us back. The testing of the fire purifies our gold; our faith.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”  (NLT)
Another thing he pointed out is that unlike gold, which only God makes, brass is a man-made alloy, which represents judgment.
I have to ponder, are we working on creating a good-looking piece of brass? Or are we working with God to become more like Him, to perfect our faith?
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” - Malachi 3:3 (KJV)