Saturday, December 15, 2012

Morning Hour

Perhaps it's normal that we Christians react to the horrible killings in CT (and stabbings in China) by begging the Lord to come back and take us out of this rotten world. Naturally, we are scared for our children and grans to any longer navigate the mess Satan has made! "Please, come take us to heaven as we hold our kids tightly!" That's my first response too.

But you know, it isn't just about us. If he were to come back today, what would happen to those sucked down into this rotten mess?

Jesus grieves not only for the broken-hearted families, but also for the sick ones captured by Satan to coldbloodedly kill. These evildoers are reprehensible in our eyes; at the same time, we must remember that a merciful, tender Savior loves them (Rm 5:8)- with no apologies. And he has asked his own request of us: "Will you make time to introduce ME to those without hope? Will you look outside your own world, to reach out to those who may, without me, become murderers?"


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Morning Hour

Say the word "leadership" to most any Christian woman and she'll immediately croak, "Oh, no, not me - I could never stand up in from of a bunch of women and teach a Bible class!!"

That narrow definition of this word has caused many Christian sisters to hunker down in the pew and try to avoid being noticed, lest someone pressure them to be a "leader." What a shame!

As far as I'm concerned, leadership is going to happen whether we think it can or not. It's not a matter of furiously studying Scripture so one can be a scholar and refute false doctrine. A leader is not someone who appears to be perfect: serenely drifting through life with everything under control, spouting verses/visions at the rest of us.

Evie didn't pretend to be a scholar. Reared as a Catholic, she began questioning her parish priest about various teachings as she became more and more serious about the Lord. Dissatisfied with his non-answers, she and her husband sought other sources, hoping to clarify the muddy water. Soon they realized that the Word was where they needed to concentrate their energies - and in doing so they found Jesus Christ!

Evie evolved into a leader because of her determined pursuit of the Lord. She couldn't reel off scripture references like a personified concordance, nor did she pronounce all the Old Testament names correctly; as a matter of fact, she knew next to nothing about the "old book." She called first and second Timothy one Timothy, and two Timothy, and so on. But ... her joy bubbled over on all of us. She delighted in learning about God's word. She was so alive to Jesus! We wanted to be like her. We wanted her thirst for the living water. We wanted her pure, humble adoration for the Savior. We wanted her kindness, her non-judgmental attitude. We wanted to become like this ordinary woman who tried her best to be like the Son of God. I give thanks for Evie, the influencer, the leader.

Leadership sometimes consists of nudging others. Typically we define a leader as one who proclaims, "I know what I'm doing - just get behind me and step in my footprints." Producing clones is leadership? How boring (and unscriptural)! Surely the Creator of individuality must yawn at that definition! A genuine leader, because she loves her sisters, constantly nudges (sometimes even harasses) them to stretch beyond the safe zone, to reach for maturity in the Lord, to realize that leadership is demonstrated in many different ways because of the multi-faceted gifts given to Christian women.

I fondly remember an older lady who led - just quietly and unobtrusively. Left with several young children to raise by herself, she set about doing it, looking to God for every day's strength. She had to live frugally; she pinched every penny until it squawked, from necessity, not from stinginess. Each child graduated from college because of mom's determination and help. After her children were launched, all busy in the kingdom, this mother began traveling with mission groups, telling about her Savior. She continued to do so well into her 70s. She never, ever said, "I've done my time, let the younger ones ... (teach those kids, prepare that meal, seek the lost). Without question, this unassuming daughter of God led throughout her life just as powerfully as those whose names are known by all. God used her to lead.

Daughters of God: if you will kindle a passion for the Lord, if you determine to follow hard after him - wherever, if you choose to love him and other people sincerely, if you decide to obey him with all your might - God will use you as a light in this world - a leader. He is waiting.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

John 4 Jesus and the Samaritans

After the Samaritans saw with their own eyes this man claiming to be the Messiah, something incredible happened:

"They begged him to stay in their village."
A wonder among wonders!!! Samaritans inviting a Jew to live with them. For this is the implication of the word, "stay" - not just visit, but live with them! Did they fight over who got the honor of having him as a guest?

When I was a child our church families took turns hosting the current preacher and his family for Sunday dinner. I don't recall anyone ever fighting over who would get to entertain them most often. Rather, it seemed more a duty, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the deed was accomplished. The woman of the house felt pressured to spread an extra fine meal on the table, so she fried, baked and stewed right up until church time on Sunday morning. That didn't include the furious cleaning she and the children did for days.

The poor preachers were good fellows. They, their wives and kids were well-liked for the most part. They were perceived, however, to be larger than life. Men of the cloth appeared to be pretty much perfect, and blessed with a calling we could not aspire to. We viewed no minister as a "regular guy." I mean, they wore suits with white shirts and ties!! So, we weren't comfortable rubbing elbows with them. I suspect, unlike the Samaritans, we wouldn't have anticipated hosting the Lord any more than feeding the preacher, because our perception of him was likely skewed too.

I'm glad I don't view preachers now like I did as a child. I know they're regular guys. I know their calling from God doesn't make them out of touch with the rest of us - I realize they don't even have to wear suits and ties! I know they like to eat great food just as the rest of us do, but they'll also settle for a baloney sandwich. And they're just as pleasant to visit with as any ordinary person!

What I'm most glad about is my different view of the Savior. I can see myself chatting with him in my home. I can almost see his kind eyes, the love reaching out to me from his countenance. His easy, relaxed manner, his openness and honesty invite me to know him better. And above all, his offering me the bubbling spring of eternal life, just because he loves me, makes me bow in adoration. Praise his name! i>

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Morning Hour

John 4 The Samaritan Woman

25: "I know the Messiah is coming ..." the woman said to the man sitting beside Jacob's well.

26: "I Am the Messiah!" he declares.

At that moment Light and Truth dawned upon this woman of Samaria!
Once when Jim was studying with a friend of ours, he pointed out from Romans that salvation is a free gift to us from God, impossible for anyone to earn.
She sat there a moment, then said in a wondering voice, "Jim, that's too good to be true." He replied, "Now, you're catchin' on!!" And Light and Truth dawned yet again upon another woman, thousands of years later!

The woman must have turned to run to her village as the disciples arrived from town with food. Besides being shocked about the Lord speaking to her, did they wonder what he had said to cause her to leave her water jar and take off for home at such a fast clip?

If they had heard the tail-end of the conversation, were they wondering why in the world he would waste such wondrous information on a Samaritan, and a woman at that? Lacking the nerve to inquire, they ignored the weirdness and turned to satisfying their physical needs.

29: "The woman ... ran back to the village, telling everyone, 'Come and see ... this man told me everything I ever did.'"
She lived in darkness - perhaps keeping secrets from her neighbors to try and preserve some semblence of respect. Now she was so excited by this man's ability to see into her that awe overcame any resentment of being "outed" by him.

"Could this possibly be the Messiah?"
She surely must have convinced her neighbors - no one scoffed at her, and,
"The people came streaming from the village to see him."

Morning Hour

John 4

This woman at Jacob's well concludes this about the man with whom she's been conversing:
19: "Sir, you must be a prophet."
"I'll give you that much," she seems to be saying. So I have a question for you, prophet:

20: "Why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship?"
She trys to move from being on the defensive to the offensive by insinuating that Jesus and his kind were a tad legalistic about their religion. Since you're obviously more than any run-of-the-mill guy, explain that knotty problem, sir.

Jesus, with divine authority, spoke again with his charactertic frankness:
22: "You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship ..."
As our 2 year old granddaughter loudly exclaimed when the nurse stuck a needle in her leg, "OW-W-W!"

The Lord continued,
"We Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews."
Talk about one bitter pill after another. Jesus not only spoke truth lovingly, but he knew the appropriate time to reveal less palatable truths.
Sometimes we fail to get around to truth, even after speaking and speaking and speaking. Is it that we don't know what truth is, or don't love enough to learn about it and boldly speak it?

23: The time is coming - indeed it's here now - when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way."
Gracious Lord Jesus! He did not say, "We true Jewish worshipers," but included whosoever will. The woman seemed to warm to the conversation with that comment -

25: "I know the Messiah is coming - the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everthing to us."
Light Bulb Moment is on its way!!

Jesus isn't finished with this wayward child.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Morning Hour

John 4

13,14: "Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again ... It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."

15: The woman at the well replied, perhaps with a bit of sarcasm, "Give me this water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to get water."
Had she decided to play along with this stranger and his outlandish claims? Did she say, in effect, "I'm always up for a freebie! At least it'll save me a daily chore."

16: "Go and get your husband." Jesus told her.
Whoa. Time for Jesus to cut through her banter with a most-sobering question. I bet her face about slid clear off her head! As he did with this woman, the Lord has a way of lovingly confronting us with SERIOUS in the middle of our foolishness. Out of his extreme love for us he will being up subjects we'd rather be kept in that very back closet. The Light penetrates the blackest darekness. The Word is always ready to execute life-saving surgery. Heb 4:12

17: "I don't have a husband," the woman replied.
Surely she must have wondered why this talkative Jew jumped from water to her personal life! Why on earth did he bring that up? Well, she'd put a stop to that, pronto. To unstop the ears and eyes of our hearts, Jesus has to sometimes administer shock treatment. Painful, but effective.

"You're right! You don't have a husband - for you have had five husbands, and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!"
Speaking the truth in love! He wasn't waiting for an opportunity to grind her into the dirt. He was not gleefully waiting to pounce on her sordid life and exclaim, "GOTCHA!"
He was shining the light on her gigantic need for spiritual healing. He wanted to clear the darkness from her soul. Don't you think she was probably squirming, as my mom used to say, "Like a worm in hot ashes."?
The Samaritan woman wriggled away from admitting she might have a teeny problem, and turned quickly to Jewish/Samaritan theology. How convenient it is to lather up on doctrine rather than fess up about our darkness!

Jesus isn't done with her yet.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Morning Hour

This is my favorite way of studying God’s word: letting the Lord speak to me as I pay close attention to each verse.

John 4 - Jesus and the woman at the well

10: “Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’ ”

11: “But sir …”
So typical of we human beings! Jesus says something – presents a wonderful, though often inconvenient and/or uncomfortable way of living or speaking, and we respond (respectfully!), “But sir ….”

“You don’t have …”
We tend to laud God as all-powerful when encouraging another to put her complete trust in his awesome abilities. But do we look at him doubtfully when it’s our turn and say, “You don’t have a bucket or a rope”? (I just can’t see how you can do that, Lord.)

“This well is very deep …”
In today’s reasoning: “Lord, this problem is extremely complicated. This conflict is so tangled up – and Lord, you know how terribly he treated me! So I know you’ll forgive me, Lord, I’m sure, for being skeptical of handling this your way; I just don’t see how it’ll work out for the good.”

“Where would you get this living water?”
In today’s reasoning: “I can’t SEE any evidence of such a thing as you’re claiming – I can’t imagine how such a miraculous way of life could be possible. Sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus to me. A fountain of life is just a myth.”

12: “And, besides, do you think you’re greater than Jacob … who gave us this well?”
Translated in today’s language: “I’m going to go with what I can taste, see and feel! I’m going to trust in what I KNOW! Why does Jesus think he knows better than the way my parents taught me to live?”

“How can you offer better water than he (Jacob) and his animals enjoyed?”
Our translation: “I think I’ll stick with the visible. At least I know I’ll have my physical needs satisfied until I die – how can anything be better than that?!”

But Jesus isn’t done with this dear, unseeing woman … Praise his holy name!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Evening Hour

Have you ever been really, really thirsty? Well, I’ve never been stranded in the desert with no water, so I can’t imagine that kind of thirst, but I have experienced the longing for ice-cold water that results from working in the yard in 95 degree weather. I can’t get to the faucet or water bottle in the frig fast enough. I even tremble a little anticipating that first gulp. That clear liquid is so delightful, I contemplate pouring it over my head once I've quenched that awful dryness within. Although feeling sated, I continue to savor sips, thanking heaven for the blessing of H2O.

Tomorrow it will happen again if I get out in the heat and weed, or plant some flowers, or mow. It won’t be long before I gotta go for the life-giving wet stuff – water.

What would it feel like to never be thirsty again? Physically I don’t expect to know that. But spiritually? We all can! In John 4:13-14 Jesus revealed to a sinful woman drawing water that,“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

What a promise! A sweet, pure source of life for right now, and forevermore! I want to crave and savor this fountain above anything else in my life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Morning Hour

When I used to read John 3 I immediately would jump to verse 5, “born of water and the Spirit” because that’s where I’d heard most everyone else camp in that chapter. That’s because we who were members of the Church of Christ were duty-bound to teach heretics that Jesus did not mean human birth by the phrase, “born of water.” He definitely is referring to baptism, period. All else paled when compared with the task of opening those unseeing eyes.

I will not discuss or debate any interpretation of that phrase anymore. To do so draws the life from the wondrous truths encircling that statement! As far as I’m concerned, it does not matter whether the Lord meant human birth or immersion in water. What needs to take center stage in our minds and spirits is the fact that the Holy Spirit of God births us into the Kingdom of God, which is beyond explanation!! That miracle defies our ability to take it apart and put each piece into a neat cubicle!

The Spirit births us into spiritual life in the Kingdom of eternal life through no works of our own – but by our bowing the knee to belief in Jesus Christ. God loves us so very much that he eagerly makes us his own beloved children through this only Son, Immanuel. The Lord does not judge us; he surrounds us with light evermore.

Praise God and our beloved Savior for this unspeakable gift.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Morning Hour

“Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables … he told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!’ ” (John 2:13-16)

“You are not your own, you are bought with a price. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Just as those selling animals and birds for sacrifices, and others who were exchanging foreign money for local currency should never have presumed to set up shop in the Temple, neither should we allow anything or anyone to occupy the holy place within us where the Holy Spirit dwells. It sounds as if having cattle, sheep, and doves available for purchase by the worshipers was necessary and good. That wasn’t the problem; Jesus became incensed when they were allowed to encroach on the holy ground reserved for a Mighty God.

Our bodies are to be reserved as temples for God’s Presence, the Spirit. Satan enjoys trying to slip things under the door, so to speak, that don’t belong in that space! And too often we cooperate beautifully.

Certain activities are also necessary in this age. We have to engage in buying and selling, maintaining, and many other earth-bound doings. God desires that we rest and recreate our physical, emotional and mental selves. Investing in and caring for our families is a noble desire. It’s only if and when we transfer these endeavors from “outside” our temples to within the Holy Spirit’s domain that Jesus objects. They become man-made idols, crowding the temple with trouble and seriously polluting the holy place.

Put a sign on the door of your temple – read it every day – “Reserved exclusively for the Holy Spirit of God.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Afternoon Hour

Instead of trying to explain in detail just why he wanted Nathanael to meet this new friend of his, Phillip briefly told Nathanael what he had recently come to believe about this fellow. Nathanael was having none of it: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asked. Phillip merely said, “Come and see for yourself.”

Each of us, like this Israelite, has to arrive at his or her own personal belief about the Lord – borrowed faith, like any other borrowed object, needs to be returned to its rightful owner. Only when I chuck the fake out of my life can I pursue my own convictions concerning the Son of God.

Nathanael consented to meet this man called Jesus, and as soon as he had an eye full and an ear full of him, he formed his own opinion, which was: “You are the Son of God – the King of Israel!”

Actually this is a picture of how we should introduce another to Jesus. Love the Lord and the lost enough to testify about our own faith when able to do so, and invite that person to look more closely at this Jesus. Not everyone will “Come and see for yourself.” Nothing we can do about refusals – can’t force living water down anyone’s throat. However, we can pray for those refusing hearts to be opened, and continue inviting anyone who will listen to “Come and see.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Morning Hour

People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4) NLT.

Never will physical bread sustain our spiritual person. Obvious fact. Yet, many times food is more importance to us than the manna from above: Scripture, the sword of God’s Spirit. Perhaps that’s one reason so little fasting is found among the people of God.

Jesus hadn’t eaten for 40 days and nights. I can’t begin to imagine his physical hunger! Yet the tempter was severely wrong if he thought to ensnare Jesus at a moment when his need for bread out-shouted his need to love his Father with all his soul, spirit, mind and strength. Though his body had to be dehydrated and weak, the spirit of our Lord evidently had never been more pumped: muscular, alert, ready and vigorous. Spiritual robustness is not dependent on a well-rounded meal.

I want to be like Jesus – to reach the point where my spiritual hunger pangs are ten thousand times more demanding than the whining of my flesh – where holy hunger overrides and drowns out every other hunger of this life.

LORD, grant me this desire!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I tried to do a favor for a friend one fine summer day. The friend had recently moved from my neighborhood, and asked me to deliver a request to the lady now living in the house she’d vacated. So I walked down the quiet street and rang the doorbell. I fidgeted around the porch – seemed to be taking a very long time for her to answer the door. I heard shuffling noises for a long time before the lady cracked the door slightly. No wonder she was so long answering the bell; she wore a cast the length of her leg!

After asking about her accident and expressing my sympathy, I made my request of her to forward some mail to my friend. I had the address handy and was just going to hand it to her when she with a frown, had a mini explosion.

“Well, I’m getting really tired of forwarding all t his mail to her! What she needs to do is get her address change in to the post office.”

I stood there with my mouth open. Then my loyalty to my friend kicked in and I said, “Just forget it!” and wheeled around and marched home. Very mature reaction.

I called my friend to tattle on the woman, and was quite surprised to hear her dissolve in laughter after my tale of woe. When she could talk, she commenced to explain some things about the lady’s situation. The more she talked the smaller I shrunk.

“I’ve already visited with her on the phone this morning. You saw the poor woman has a broken leg? Well, this morning she took a tumble down her basement stairs. After getting herself back together (with no additional broken bones, thank goodness), a stomach bug attacked her with a vengeance – diarrhea and everything else - and right at the time you were ringing the doorbell, she was cleaning herself up. She hadn’t made it to the bathroom in time.”

“Oh,” I replied.

I hate to admit this, but I didn’t rush back to her house to apologize, and beg to let me fix supper for her. That lady hobbled up the street to my house and apologized to me, saying she really admired my loyalty to my friend. I have been humbled and chastised very few times as thoroughly as I was that day by the Lord. Burning with shame, I asked her forgiveness and offered to help her however I could. We parted friends.

Would I react in the same way today, nearly 25 years later? O, I pray not!! I pray the Spirit has done much, much work in me in the intervening years.

This poem describes how I want to be:

by Lee Avery

Once I might have been angered, ah, but now,
I know too much of living and its toll –
I’ve seen the little cares that fret the soul,
And tear the tender heart, and line the brow.
And so I understand the reason why
You strike at me with little darts of words-
They are a flock of tiny, cornered birds,
Frightened, and yet too desperate to fly.
Your very bitterness but masks your need,
Your secret shyness is the silent root
That sends, unbidden, such sarcastic fruit;
Beneath that blunting shield your heart must bleed.
And I, whom you would seek to slay by tongue,
But pity those cold lips that should have sung.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Morning Hour

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5).

The darkness tried and failed many times and in many ways to smother, discredit and/or discourage the Light of the world:
~ Through King Herod and his horrendous command to slaughter Jewish babies -
~ By cornering Jesus in the wilderness and trying to bribe him into aborting his mission -
~ By using those willing snakes, the Pharisees, to accuse and spread slander about (1)the circumstances of his birth - (2)Jesus' close associations with tax collectors and prostitutes - (3) his claims of divinity and authority, and (4) Jesus' awesome power to heal and cast out demons.
~ By inspiring a crowd to try and force the Lord to be king (the Romans would surely have killed him for such treachery) -
~ By the widespread rejection of the Jewish people -
~ By the disbelieving hometown folks attempting to kill him -
~ By the skepticism of his own mother and brothers -
~ By the shallow requests of some who wanted to be entertained by a sideshow of miracles when they were totally uninterested in his message as God on earth -
~ Through the frustrating denseness of his own disciples -
~ Through the black betrayal of one of his followers -

But ...
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son (John 1:14) and,
When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven (Hebrews 1:3).

The darkness can never extinguish the Light!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Did He?

The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him (John 1:1-3).

When Jesus spoke of the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish that swallowed Jonah, he knew each of these wonders as well as he knew the palm of his own hand. I wonder, did he recall the moment when he and his Father designed the graceful curve of the lily blooms, or witnessed a sparrow’s first flight into the sky, or how they equipped the fish to breathe in water?

As he sipped the fruit of the grape, did he remember instructing its vine to climb and encircle anything in its path? In enjoying a cloudless azure sky did he rejoice in remembering how they stretched it in place? If weeds choked his path, was his heart grieved once again at the foolishness of Adam and Eve? When the famished Jesus ate warm bread was he very glad they had thought of yeast?

Gazing in love upon the disciples, was the Lord thrilled that man and woman were on their to-do list that day? Did he think otherwise when the Pharisees stood like tombs to frustrate his purpose?

Did Jesus ever even fleetingly think about trading places with his creation, John the Baptist?

Whenever the Messiah talked with a pregnant women, would she have been blown away to know that this Jesus was responsible for every delicate inner part of the tiny babe within her? And that he had also knit her together in her mother’s womb?

Our Mighty God – how awesome you are!!!

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone … He came into the very world he created. John 1:4, 10

Monday, July 23, 2012

The cashier at a flea market found me a little humorous when I shopped there recently. The sad part is that I wasn't trying to be funny. After wandering around and gathering up a few items, I returned to the front to stash them until I was ready to check out. Someone else already had a cache going, so I maneuvered my treasures in front of said cache, commenting to myself, "Well, those aren't mine, now are they?" I ask you, should an observer have seen anything laughable about that? Evidently the cashier did, because she snickered aloud. I smiled at her, thinking as I did she was a trifle strange. Later while I waited in line, I innocently asked, "Can I get the type receipt that lists each item by name?" She looked at uncomprehendingly. I'll need to provide a little background information before my request makes sense. In a previous transaction at this establishment, the checker told me to ask for the detailed receipt before she began tapping on the buttons; otherwise you'd end up with an anemic 4th cousin listing only the prices and total. So ... because I needed the detailed one for tax purposes, I intended to obey instructions. The uncomprehending one raised her perfectly penciled brows way high and responded, "Do you mean a cash-register receipt? We always give a receipt." I assured her I was aware they gave receipts every time. "But I was told if I wanted the type listing items by name, I'd have to tell the cashier ahead of time." She now furrowed her brow, looked confused momentarily, then in an extremely patiend tone repeated, slowly this time-"We always give receipts." I had started to sweat, so I dropped the matter. I also dropped my purse, tucked insecurely under an arm, a moment later as I began writing the check. Every last thing in there spilled out - careening, cartwheeling, crashing and splatting on the concrete floor. My cell phone disassembled itself into what looked like myriads of tiny pieces flying in every direction. I was really sweating now. A kind lady hurried over, stooped down and retrieved my phone's back from underneath the counter. It's a wonder she didn't find me under there too. After scraping up and dumping everything back into that idiot handbag, I finished scribbling the check and handed it to the clerk. I would not have been surprised if she had doubled over in uncontrollable giggles, but, glory be, she resembled a Puritan preacher. With a flourish she presented the RECEIPT, eyeing me closely. Every last thing I had bought was listed by name in a beautiful font. Okay, okay, I had longed for this piece of paper; why, then, did I feel as though I'd just lost a boxing match? Mumbling "thanks" I slunk off with sacks dangling from every digit and both forearms, trying to graciously exit that torture chamber. Thanking the Lord for automatic car-door openers, I clicked and clicked as I drew near my vehicle. "I must not have heard it unlock," I surmised. In the next breath, "Good grief!! Now my hearing is going too!" I tugged on the handle. Unyielding. Click, click, click - violently now - then pulled again. The door defiantly held itself tightly closed. As frustration mounted even higher and heat waves danced on the pavement, I carefully plunked down each sack of individually named items. As I did so, a glance at the car icon on the opener niggled my brain: something looked odd ... Oh great! The wrong keys! Leaning down to dig in my bag, I finally located the van keys. Straightening up impatiently, I promptly smacked the top of my head on the side mirror. My glasses flew off, and with them any good will I had toward humans and/or inanimate objects left me as well. I glared around murderously, daring anyone to admit they'd witnessed my final performance of the day. God has promised we'll be fruitful in old age (Pro. 92:14); however, it looks as if my fruit is going to take the form of making others laugh. I could do worse I guess.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A little bit of kindness

Kindness is never out of place or inappropriate. Laughter can be ill-timed. A smile may be inadvisable in certain situations. Silence may need to be substituted for speaking sometimes. But kindness offered in love is always welcome and fitting. Kindness isn’t merely an emotion, or an action of the facial muscles – it’s a luscious, good-to-the-core fruit the Holy Spirit produces in and brings forth out of us to benefit others. This fruit is never bitter, never in bad taste, and never considered a faux pas when given to another. The only mistake one can make with kindness is to withhold it.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I was out back this morning, busily weeding when Jim noticed something sticking out of a tree near our postage-stamp patio. In a minute he exclaimed, “Look at this little metal sun thing – half of it is Imbedded right into the trunk!”

“Yes,” I sighed, “and all I did was hang it from a nail on the tree trunk a few years ago. The oak swallowed it a little at a time, so that when I finally noticed what was happening, all my tugging couldn’t pull out.”

I loved that round-faced sun; its bright golden face greeted me every time I stepped out the back door, plus it handily held small garden spades and the like. Now its usefulness is gone.

Same thing happened with a metal pot hook I placed on a crepe myrtle limb – within a few months it became part of the tree. The bough would have to be broken to remove the intruder.

It occurred to me that habits can become infused into us in a similar way. We allow an action or attitude into our lives – good or bad – and go about our business, not really conscious of the unseen, gradual process taking place. That’s wonderful if the habit is a godly one; not so wonderful, however, when God is dishonored by the practice of it. In either case, we realize at some point with a shock that we’ve enveloped what we once only allowed. It’s entrenched! It’s almost become part of our DNA! If that awakening calls for mourning instead of rejoicing, take heart. The good news is that the Spirit can implant his fruit into us even more thoroughly and permanently than evil can ever infect and infest us! That’s not all; he can wage war on and root out the hooks in our souls when nothing or no one else can.

The only condition is that we yield completely.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Friends and Treasure-Hunting

Why did I like Barbara?

As a little kid, I never analyzed it – I just loved her. She was a skinny brown-eyed kid with olive skin who lived in an old house on my street with her parents, younger brother, and grandmother. She and her sibling looked nothing alike. Buddy was freckled-faced silly kid, always joking and laughing. He was a favorite with the whole neighborhood. Barbara seldom laughed heartily, her expression serious most of the time.

I soon found out this girl was loyal as all get-out. I wanted to be her best friend, but she apologetically turned me down; “I’ve already promised Peggy she could be my best friend.” I immediately felt offended by this Peggy. Can’t you have two? No, she said, there’s only one best friend.

We had the most wonderful tea parties at her home. Her mom – a most accommodating woman – enjoyed them as much as we did, though she never presumed to join us. Standing across the room, Miss Elsie beamed as we pretended. Grandma, who was an older version of her daughter, hovered close by.

A boocoo of kids infested our street. Fourteen of us lived within a short city block. We rode bikes, arranged play houses, played hop-scotch (a piece of smooth green glass was my good luck piece), walked to town together, strung china berries into innumerable necklaces, and dared each other to jump from tree limbs.

But back to Barbara. I recognized, even at seven years old, that she had more character than I. I couldn’t have expressed it in those terms; I would likely have explained that she was “gooder than me.” Barbara was unfailing kind, a commodity in short supply among the pack of kids in our neighborhood. Once when exiting the school grounds I, knowing she’d made a pact with Peggy to walk home with her, began urging that she go with me instead. Truth was, I wasn’t longing to be with her - I only wanted to see if she would break her word to that Peggy girl for me. Barbara must have sensed my insincerity, because, with brown eyes flashing, she pulled abruptly away from my grasp, saying, “I promised Peggy first that I would walk with her – and you know that!!” Chastened by her rebuke I slunk off quietly. The crazy thing was, I liked her even more after that little scenario. (I still wasn’t fond of Peggy.) I’ve since thought of Barbara when I read Proverbs 20:11, “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.”

I moved away for several years, then relocated back there in high school years. Barbara looked much the same, just a bigger tiny. Still a solemn person, neatly dressed every day, scholarly. We didn’t gravitate toward each other as when we were younger. Our fellowship groups wouldn’t have jibed – hers took school very seriously, everyone straight as an arrow. My was … well, it wasn’t like hers. Not bad, just less focused on academics. Sometimes in homeroom, or history class I’d catch her gazing at me with an unfathomable look in those chocolate eyes. Made me uncomfortable, but I’d smile at her, she’d smile back and we’d go our separate ways.

I sat in my living room in the 70s reading my hometown paper. Turning the page, I saw my old friend’s obituary. She’d died at 30-something; a wife and mother who lived in Missouri with her family. I felt such sadness, and even bereft, as if I had neglected to mine all the precious jewels from her life that would have blessed me immeasurably.

Just maybe I could have blessed her a little too.

That other girl, Peggy? Would you believe it? We’ve mined each other’s lives for years, from high school even to this day. I found out why Barbara was so high on her: Peggy’s life is full of treasures too!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inney or Outey?

It seems to take us humans such a long time to be more concerned with inward growth than outward trappings, in other words, to be an "inney," rather than an "outey."

We seem to be experts about getting the motor before the Volkswagen, particularly regarding our physical versus our spiritual. We tend to lavish all kinds of attention on our outward persons: make-up laid on generously (and constant searching for the kind that will make us look like someone else), wrinkle-preventer slathered on nightly (depends on age), to-die-for cologne, just the right kind of shampoo/conditioner/gel/mousse so we can toss our lustrous, shiny heads of hair, not to mention brushes, blow-dryers, straightening irons, etc., etc.

Only one kind of jeans will do - either the expensive sort for the brand-conscious, or those that makes the posterior look smaller – ha! How about the underwear that promises to make certain parts appear more perky - and shoes ... well, shoes galore.

Before some of you complain, I'm really not picking on us women – we all know men have problems with inney and outey also - I just know females better because I are one, and I've certainly spent time (and, unfortunately, sometimes still do) in the "outey" category more than the "inney."

After all this attention to heads, faces, and bods, is there time to give thought to the grooming and nourishment of the inside of us – our spirits - the “inney”? Are we apt to ingest a thimble-full of the rich nourishment of Scripture occasionally, but give most of our energy, money and time to the daily tending of this shell? Our bodies are aging daily and won’t even enter heaven, folks! (that is, until Jesus does a radical remodel of them at the last trump)?

Don’t let the deceiver claim your mind. Look through the lens of the sword of the Spirit – the Bible – daily. Don’t listen to television or anything else for your game plan – but: “Give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice … Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom 12:1-2). NLT

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I used to look around the room at the young wives and moms in our class, and think: What a flower garden of women God has created! And he longs to bless each of them for his purposes. Perhaps not in Searcy; he may call some elsewhere to serve. One thing's for certain: their Creator enables each to bloom beautifully for him anywhere. "The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God" (Psa 92:12-13).

Before you ask "Just the younger ladies?" No, ALL of God's women are beautiful - even we who are walking much further down the path. Read the next verses: "Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, 'The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!' "

Satan knows this is God's plan - he tries every conceivable way to block it. One of his most common lies is, "You're too ordinary to do much of anything. Quit dreaming!" Our enemy is also expert in using shame to hold us hostage; we feel unworthy to do anything for God.

Or he urges us to fixate on everything we hate about ourselves. Oh, he really shines here!! How many women lament their body shape (or the lack thereof according to them), skin texture or color, its sagginess, bagginess etc., or their stringy or mule's tail hair. Some feel their families of origin have handicapped them for the rest of their lives, spiritually, emotionally and/or mentally. The devil wants us to blame the Lord for our perceived deficiencies - in our bodies, personalities, emotions, minds and circumstances. If we buy his lies, he has successfully damaged our faith in God's love and wisdom - we begin to suspect God has short-changed us. How could he love me and let me be born to those parents? Or with this horrible birthmark? Or so dumb?

With some of us, aging is the handle Satan uses to pump us dry. It's hard to deal with getting long in the tooth! I struggle with the junk keeping me company as I get older. The deceiver points out my achy joints, my less-than-swift brain action, and lures me to be whiny. He also now and again whispers, "No one wants to hear what you think. Go take a nap instead."

Here's a principle we must, must believe:
It matters not how your bones are arranged, whether you're healthy or ill, to whom you're married, your skin color or its condition thereof, whether you're a new believer or old faithful, kids or no kids, ancient or young ...etc, etc.

And he will use you if you BELIEVE him.

Ready for this? God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace you have been saved!)
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms ...God can point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us ... Eph 2:4-7

Okay, who are we gonna believe - the slanderer, deceiver, diabolos - or the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior who gives us our every breath?

We are vessels. Will we be the kind of vessel that shatters - or implodes - (or rolls in the closet) every time the Master tries to use us?

Our vessel will disintegrate into shards unless we believe God. Believe he has given each of us exactly what we need to serve him. No, we're not perfect - neither are most vessels. Some constructed of metal have dents, ceramic vessls may be chipped. Most of us certainly show some wear, and one or two may even leak. No jokes here. Even the leaky containers can be used -stick dried flowers in them for beauty in your world.

Get that vessel cleaned out, ready for the Master's missions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


You gotta have GRIT to be a woman of inteGRITy.

A woman of integrity follows her convictions - those essential, unoptional beliefs that she holds - no matter what. To hang on to those beliefs takes grit (tenacity, determination, courage) many times. Opinions aren't on a level with convictions, and don't require much grit, so I have lots of them. I don't have very many convictions. I try to hold them down to just a few.

A woman of integrity must have grit to keep her mouth shut and ears closed when the gossiping begins in the office. Or in the church nursery.

It takes grit to keep promises made to God while on a spiritual high.

To gift her husband with her submission when she wants badly to have her way takes a substantial amount of grit.

It takes grit for the woman of integrity to resist the world's call to "do whatever makes you happy, live as you please, it's no body's business what you do."

Believing the Word of God takes grit, especially when friends take a more sophisticated view of Scripture.

A woman of integrity, a woman with grit, will remove anything from her life that prevents her from being the servant of Jesus Christ - note: not speaking of a husband or children.

To discipline a hardheaded teen who seems bent on destroying herself takes a truckload of grit.

How do I get grit?!! That steely determination called "grit" that's burrowed inside integrity is only as strong as my conviction that God is lodged within me and is working out his purposes in my life through godly convictions, integrity and lots of grit.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

San Fran part 2

A week and half into our San Fran stay – no new baby, but no matter, the ones that are here keep the days lively. (Eden keeps the nights interesting as well for Wes and Airiel.) She is, however, learning to go to bed on her own, stay in bed, and sleep until morning – or at least daybreak. She made it all the way last night! Airiel sat by her bed at first while Eden lifted the roof, then stood in the door the next couple of bedtimes (holding a spoon for a little extra persuasion), and plans to sit in the rocking chair in their room tonight. Except for some hearty screaming for a few minutes at the beginning, last night was a success.

One of the neighbors in the apartment complex is a sweet older lady who teaches at the university. Red-haired Adella has no grandchildren yet, and enjoys ours immensely! She especially is fond of Eden – thinks she’s very bright. Of course she’s right as rain. We sat in the afternoon sun on her miniscule patio and chatted with her on Saturday. Conrad had used her upstairs bathroom previously – when he ambled by pushing his trike he suddenly felt the call of nature and was graciously ushered in. She whispered, “He likes to use my bathroom,” then had to go get him after more than enough time had passed.

Boy am I finding out just how “mature” I am!! I crash on the bed upstairs at least once a day after hitting that proverbial wall. But after a few minutes of down time, I’m ready to go again, hugging, feeding, playing outside, bathing a sweet toddler girl, swabbing up cracker crumbs, and the myriad of other activities that takes all of us to accomplish every day.