Sleep

 

 

 

                   

  Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
      and trust the Lord.

  Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
      Let your face smile on us, Lord.
  You have given me greater joy
      than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
  In peace I will lie down and sleep,
      for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. —Psalm 4:5-8

 

 

With Mighty Voice

 

 

 

 

On my way home from work, the sky was threatening.

It was also magnificent.

Watching the changes in the clouds as I traveled, I convinced myself to actually pull off the road and take some photographs.

It’s considerably hard for me to stop looking at the sky when conditions present themselves in such a powerful way.

For me, it is a display of God’s power.

A display of His awesome control over our surroundings.

 

 

 

They Sprouted

 

 

In a much needed afternoon of house cleaning and straightening, I came across a dvd in a box.

I decided I would take a momentary break from my task and sit down to watch at least part of it.

The video contained footage of our youngest son and several of his classmates when he was in the fourth grade.

He is now 15 years old and has grown into quite a young man. His friends have grown along with him.

We still have contact with a few of his childhood friends. Looking into the the elementary aged faces on the screen brought back so many memories.

Later, I spoke to my son about the what I had been watching. We talked about his friends; we talked about growing up.

For those of us who are loving parents, there is a common bond. We make tremendous investments into our children, desiring to instill a yearning for God and a heart of faith. We do our best to foster good character and virtue within each precious son or daughter.

Talking with my son about this, I explained that for me, this was all like growing corn.

Corn?

Corn farmers begin with preparing the ground for planting. There is much to be done and it must be done carefully and diligently.

When the time is right, corn seeds are placed in the soil.

Parents are like farmers. We try to prepare our children for life. There is much to be done and it must be done carefully and diligently.

When the time is right, we plant seeds of faith and character within them.

While a corn farmer may choose to stay with his land, tending it daily, parents are often separated from the crops for a time. We hope, we pray and we long to see what the harvest will bring.

On the day that we are allowed to view the crops, joy will fill our hearts as we top the hill, go around the bend and see the first images of the tall, strong stalks bearing ears of corn.

When our children are small, we begin planting the seeds.

Time races by and the seasons change quickly.

Suddenly, it seems, they have matured into teens or young adults, going out into the world to begin life on their own.

We hope the seeds are growing. We pray the seeds have taken root.

On the day that we journey to see the harvest that God has prepared, joy will fill our hearts as we top the hill, go around the bend and see the first images of the tall and strong young men and women of Christ they have become, yielding a crop of faithfulness and love, thirty, sixty and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.  As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.  Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.  Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”—Mark 4:3-9

 

 

 

Always Be Cheerful!

 

God has blessed me with a very good friend.

Yesterday, my friend’s mother died.

While driving over to her house to offer comfort, I began to think of a surprise party I had been to recently.

There may have been fifty or more people hiding in a dark room, waiting for the honoree to come down the steps and open the door.

When that moment came, the lights suddenly went on with simultaneous shouts of "SURPRISE!!" and an ensuing chorus of "Happy Birthday."

Joy filled the room.

I have known for years that my good friend’s older brother had died as a child from an illness. Her mother had kept some of his toys through the years. I had the privilege of seeing them and hearing about the young boy.

As I drove, I began to consider what this elderly lady was now experiencing in Heaven.

I imagined what it would be like to finally be reunited with her little boy after all these years apart.

For those still here who loved my friend’s mother, there is sadness and a feeling of loss. Yet, in only a second, this dear woman entered a realm of holiness and complete bliss as she was transported from this life into the presence of God and her loved ones gone before.

In one moment, it was as if she was walking down the steps to open the door and suddenly, "SURPRISE!"  All the wonders of God’s etenal home prepared for her had been waiting on the other side! A perfect welcome,  made especially for her.

Through His sacrifice, Jesus has given us the hope of eternal life.

Knowing this, there should be a deeply abiding joy and cheer that remains with us through every hour.

 

Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever. While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home. We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked. These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don’t do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die. God is the one who makes all of this possible. He has given us his Spirit to make us certain that he will do it. So always be cheerful!–II Corinthians 5:1-6a

 


 

 

 

 

 

Outward

 

 

 

Windows.

Everyone knows what they are.

I decided to look them up in the dictionary, anyway.

This definition caught my interest:

"anything likened to a window in appearance or function, as a transparent section in an envelope, displaying the address."

Now, greater  than ever, it seems that through the internet and media, more and more of who we are is displayed—displayed through a technological window showing our day to day lives, our likes and dislikes, and even our faith.

With such advances, a few touches to the cell phone screen, and "voila!" Everyone who cares to know, knows where we are and what we’re doing.

We’ve got some spiritually transparent sections when it comes to our hearts, wouldn’t you say?

 Even so,we may only want certain information to be seen, however.

We may try to "choose" what is disclosed, as we do with our phones.

The trouble is, we are not in charge of what God sees through our "window."

The transparent sections divulge our true selves–our fears, our doubts, our faults; our strengths, our character, our loyalties.

God sees much more than just the "address" when He looks through the window into our hearts.

Outwardly, we may appear to be one way. Inwardly, we may be the opposite.

There is much freedom in realizing the futility of hiding from God.

He sees us as we are.

He loves us as we are.

He seeks to change us for the better as we grow closer to Him.

God, most of all, knows us completely.

He’s looking through the window.

Since He cares to know, He knows exactly where we are and what we’re doing.

Is God looking through the window to your heart today?

 

 

 

Shine Upon

 

 

 

What sets you apart from other people?

This morning, I was driving to work very early. It had been raining, and the clouds were just separating enough in the eastern sky to allow the bright rays of sunrise to escape.

I take exactly the same route to work everyday; I have worked in the same place for years. To my knowledge, I have never noticed a very tall building just a block or so away from the main road—that is, until today.

The multi-story building is that of a very prominent telephone company. The architecture is somewhat unique with reflective glass panels serving as the outer walls of each floor.

On this specific day and at just the time I was driving nearby, the sun’s light reflected off the building, creating a blinding display of energy. In a matter of moments, the building that had been unnoticed before had become a towering blaze of light, impossible to look upon directly and quite impossible to miss.

The building, however unremarkable it had been before, was only reflecting.

Who we are without the light of God in our lives pales in comparison to who we are when God’s Spirit is within us.

If we simply reflect the character—the love—of God to those around us, would we be impossible to miss?

 

 

 

 

These Stones

 

 

 

 

Having a family that loved and served God has been the desire of my heart for a very long time.

From the birth of our first child many years ago until now, I have hoped and prayed for a Christian family.

A family that  trusted in the Lord.

A family unified by God’s love.

There are many instances of God’s faithfulness to us through the years.

They remind us that He is there, always.

We have these stories to pass down to our children.

As they mature in the Lord, they will become aware of what He is doing in their own lives.

The children of Israel gathered stones as a memorial to what God had done for them at the Jordan River.

The stones were to serve as a prompting—when their little ones in the future would inquire about them, they were to tell them of the great faithfulness of God.

What "stones" have I set up as a reminder of the great things God has done for our family?

 

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,  and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight."

  So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,  and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,  to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."—Joshua 4:1-7

 


 

 

Sin Itself Stinks

 

 

We have a family story that gets told every now and then.

It is always related with a smile and with a measure of love.

This same thing could happen with you or me at any moment.

None of us is immune to mistakes….

My husband’s grandmother was visiting his parents’ home. Someone suggested that popcorn be made.

Grandmother went to the kitchen. In preparing the corn for popping, she reached into a low cabinet to get the cooking oil.

She chose a bottle and poured the liquid into the popper.

As the corn began to pop, something was not the same.

Instead of cooking oil, Grandmother had used a bottle of VINEGAR to pour from….

This reminds me of something else:

For several years, we have had a children’s card game at our home. The game cards have pictures on them.

Three cards make a set, or complete picture. There is a front, a middle and an end.

The point of the game is to complete a picture logically, say, the front, the middle and the end of an ice cream truck.

Many giggles are possible as the cards are mixed and the fronts, middles, and ends form wacky, out of place pictures.

What happens when we ourselves are mixed up?

Almost without realizing it, our lives can become gradually mixed with the wrong ingredients.

With the sincerest of hearts, we can strive to please God and devote our lives to Him.

Our "cards" are all lined up and who we really are matches who we say we are.

But somehow, perhaps through peer pressure or the temptations of the current social norm, a card gets switched.

We are not immediately alerted to the change because the new card seems to have the same parts as the old one. It almost fits, but not quite.

As we go along, others may see that most of who we are seems to be certain, yet they can tell there’s something that’s not exactly right.

If our condition is unattended to, a second card may take the place of another of our own.

By this time, our lives are really confusing to those that see us. We seem to be this way, but then, we’re like that way and next–what’s this? A totally different card shows up!

The definition of sin is anything that is displeasing to God.

No matter what the card appears to be that has become mixed up into your life—if it is displeasing to God, it is sin.

Popcorn cooked with vinegar is not the same as when it is cooked with oil.

Take a moment to consider—has Satan been playing "Mixies" with your own heart? Have attitudes and behaviors that are displeasing to God become a regular part of who you are?

Like cooked vinegar, sin can stink.

God is ready to put your life back in order, placing the bad influences on the discard pile.

Why don’t you talk to Him about it……right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain for the Earth

 

 

 

What can people do?

I marvel at technology sometimes.

Instant communication. Laser surgery.

Electric cars. Sleek monorails.

Global positioning devices.

Live television from around the world.

There’s a lot we can do.

There’s also a lot we can’t.

Some things are just for God to do. He made it that way.

Seeds grow.

Volcanoes erupt.

Salmon swim upstream.

Solar flares shoot out into the vastness of space.

Babies are born with an eternal soul.

It rains….or it doesn’t.

This morning, I was leaving an old church building. As I walked out to the parking lot, I stopped at a covered area.

It was raining very steadily, with an occassional flash of lightning and rumble of thunder.

Where I stood, though, I could hear more than just the droplets on the concrete. The sounds of a fountain or babbling brook seemed so close.

I looked to my right to see an area where water must have been dripping off the roof in a concentrated area. A pool of water had formed on the ground. As they came in contact with the tiny pond, the falling drops made a relaxing sound, rising above the rest of the storm.

There was one more thing that set this site apart for me. An outdoor water spigot was aligned with the wall right beside the pooling water. The contrast spoke loudly.

People need water.

They need it inside, they need it outside.

We’ve developed a system of pipes, wells, and towers to insure that we have the water we need, when and where we want it, as long as God provides the water.

The spigot was turned off and the pipe was surely dry.

All around it, God was sending rain to puddle near its base.

It was as if God could be saying, "Here’s what you can do; here’s what I can do."

I am thankful for the rain today—and for all the things that God is doing.

It’s okay to be reminded that we can’t do everything—we know Someone who can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastures

 

 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

(How does the LORD shepherd you? Are you lacking anything?)

  He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

(What good things has He given you? What rest, peace of mind and comfort has he brought you to?)

  He restores my soul.

(Do you recall times when He took your broken heart and made it whole again?)

       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name’s sake.

(Does God guide you in your decisions, helping you to choose what is best and right in His eyes?)

—Psalm 23:1-3

 

Kindhearted

 

 

 

I have a friend who lives on a few acres of lovely grassland. A small lake is on the property, adding an even more peaceful ambience.

While I was visiting her home, she had a large container of tea, sunning on the back porch alongside a wooden chair. It was sporting an inviting cushion.

Comfortable. Friendly. Warm.

How do we make our homes inviting?

What type of attitude would God want us to display?

A kindhearted spirit reaches out to others in a special way.

Like a glass of freshly made sun tea on a wooden porch in the country, we can offer our hospitality as a gift to those around us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers Appear

 

 

I have attended two weddings recently. Both ceremonies were beautiful.

One gathering was in the sanctuary of a church; the other in a grassy field beside a lake.

It was very apparent at each event that the newlyweds did indeed love each other.

How does that happen, exactly?

Many a songwriter has attempted to answer that question in one form or another.

God’s love for us is so great, it is beyond our comprehension. The love that we feel for one another–the very capacity to do so–is given to us by Him.

The happiness we feel when we express our devotion to someone and the sheer joy of being in their presence can be seen in the Song of Solomon:

My lover spoke and said to me,
       "Arise, my darling,
       my beautiful one, and come with me.

  See! The winter is past;
       the rains are over and gone.

  Flowers appear on the earth;
       the season of singing has come,
       the cooing of doves
       is heard in our land." —Song of Solomon 2:10-12

 

A wedding time is like a season of singing, isn’t it?

 

                    Thank You, God, for giving us the gift of love.

 

 

 

 

 

The Clouds Hang Poised

 

 

It had been a long day, but productive and positive.

I had traveled out of town on a work related trip, gotten lost in the city and drove for half an hour all around my destination before finding it. I DID find it, and everything worked out well.

Before leaving the building and coming home, I photographed the scenery from one of the taller buildings.

Driving back, I took more photos of the surrounding countryside from just off the highway.

They were nice pictures, but the best was yet to come.

Upon arriving at my home, I had one more responsibility–my son needed a ride to church.

Happy to be spending time with him, we were on our way.

Returning from my trip, incredible sunbeams were crossing the sky in front of me.

The road was laced on either side with telephone poles and high, looping wires–not the best place to use a camera.

As I considered where to pull over, I decided to turn by a community of houses.

Passing by the entrance, I quickly thought to drive a bit further.

A dirt road was up ahead.

I turned into the sandy orange path to find a completely PERFECT view of the clouds and sun before me.

Thrilled, I began to photograph the beams and the rainshowers pouring from various points.

Then, I turned around to perhaps an even more glorious sight—-a double rainbow!

Such a panoramic view of clouds, rain, blazingly bright sunlight and a double rainbow with vivid lavender arcs!

I was so excited!

God creates magnificent displays of wonder for all to see and enjoy.

He is truly perfect in all knowledge, holding the sum of creation in His hands.

 

 

 

 

Awesome in Glory

 

 

 

The thunder had already reached our neighborhood.

I glanced out the front door just in time to see a mass of clouds descending.

As they moved, they were coming closer and closer to enveloping the moon.

I photographed the storm’s trek across the sky until its light was almost hidden from view.

The approaching strength of the powerful storm carried out it’s movement on a blue sky stage, backdropped by the moon, held in perfect motion by God.

Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? –Exodus 15:11b


 

 

Wildflowers

 

 

 

It was after midnight.

I was lying in bed, very much awake.

My thoughts were tandem–sleep was far away as I wrestled with them.

Isn’t this what we do at times when we are concerned for another’s well-being?

I have a friend who’s son has cancer.

Another friend’s mother seems to be battling depression.

Several people I know have recently sent their teenagers off to college.

The "what if this happens?" and  "if they make a poor decision, then…?"  statements begin to take hold.

The good news is that God is there to listen to our weariness of mind.

He has not left us or those we care about, alone.

 

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?–Matthew 6:30   ~The Message


 

 

 

 

 

Treasure

 

 

 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." —Matthew 6:19-21

 

 

 

 

Seed on the Ground

 

 

Reading from Mark, chapter four, last evening, I came to a passage that I hadn’t remembered being there.

Has that ever happened to you?

Surely I must have read it at some point through the years, but it seemed completely new and fresh.

It was marked in my Bible as "The Parable of the Growing Seed."

Jesus is teaching from a boat in the lake because the crowd is so large:

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." —Mark 4:26-29

If I apply this to my own acceptance of Jesus, the parable takes on a personal message.

Through family and friends I began to learn about God and the sacrificeof His Son. Through words spoken in church services or one on one conversations, the seeds of the gospel were being scattered in my heart.

These seeds began to take root; I realized my need of forgiveness and the acceptance of Jesus as my Savior. Praying a prayer of repentance and brokenness, my life began to change.

Night and day, whether I slept or got up, God was still working in me.

More seed was being sown by reading His word in the Bible and by hearing His truth through others.

The tender sprouts of trust and love began to emerge.

The knowledge of God began to grow–first the stalk, then a bud.

This process is still continuing for me, after many years.

Though I have not known how, God has grown the spiritual seeds planted within me.

One day, the harvest will be complete.

I will live forever in God’s presence, transformed because of His great mercy and infinite love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See How He Scatters

 

 

The storm had just passed us, rolling out to sea.

Nighttime had set in with the soothing sounds of the calm waves pulsing against the shore.

The towering clouds above the ocean were alive with powerful bursts of ligtning.

While I sat farther up the sandy slope, my son and a friend had gone to the water’s edge to hunt for crab in the darkness.

Not knowing their exact location, I simply sat looking toward the turbulent sky, hoping to photograph the erractic, pink flashes and bolts.

As the lightning reflected off the glassy water, my camera’s display showed the photo I had just taken.

Realizing what had happened, I was filled with excitement!

There on the screen were the silhouettes of my son and his friend, formed by the lightning beyond them!

I know in my heart that God knew how happy I would be to take such a photograph.

It was like a gift from Him to me.

 

Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
       how he thunders from his pavilion?

  See how he scatters his lightning about him,
       bathing the depths of the sea.–Job 36:29-30

 

 

Come, Follow Me

 

 

 

I heard someone recently musing about how a great many books are written on leadership, yet not many written on following.

Topics on how to become a leader could be found on any bookstore shelf.

How to become a successful follower?

Well, that’s a different story.

To be a leader seems respectable–honorable.

To be a follower seems somewhat less.

Or does it?

For those who trust Jesus as their Savior, following Him is of great importance.

Could it be that in following Jesus wholeheartedly, we emerge as leaders and guides to point those we encounter to His saving grace?

Instead of signing up for a LEADERSHIP 112 course, opt for the class less taken–

 

FOLLOWING 101–Becoming Fishers of Men

 

 

In Fact

 

I was reading from the story of Joseph recorded in Genesis.

At one point, I began to cry.

Was it when his own brothers wanted to kill him and throw him into a cistern?

Was it when he was sold to the traveling merchants?

Was it when he was falsely accused and thrown into prison?

All of these tragedies warrant an emotional response, but what seemed to break my heart appeared much later in the account.

After Joseph became second only to Pharoah, his brothers came to buy grain from him because the famine was great in the land. They did not recognize Joseph at all, nor did he reveal his identity to them at first.

During their second visit to buy grain, Joseph allowed them to know who he truly was.

As the brothers returned to their aged father, who had been led to believe that Joseph had been killed years before by a wild animal, they had much to explain.

Here is the part that made me cry–

When they reached home,

They told him, "Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt." –Genesis 45:26a

The good news had gotten better with the words in fact.

Here’s the picture in my mind:

An old man, pained for years by the recurring thoughts of his beloved son, mauled by a ferocious animal, sits at home.

His other sons return to him from a long journey. With them, they bring something more important than grain–they bear the news that Joseph is NOT dead but alive. Hope upon all hopes? Could this be true?

Immediately following the first unbelievable statement, comes the impossible–the unthinkable–IN FACT, HE IS RULER OF ALL EGYPT.

The ultimate joy that must have filled Jacob’s heart somehow broke mine as the knowledge of God’s redemption of all their lives was unfolding. Only God, the One who loves us with an ultimate love could bring about a plan like this.

Have you known an "IN FACT" experience?

I’m confident that you may have. It could’ve been similar to these—-

The chemotherapy is finally completed. The doctor reports, "The tumor has not increased in size. IN FACT, we cannot find it at all!"

or…

You feel that your job is in jeapardy. The supervisor brings the news, "Your area was not on the list for discontinuation. IN FACT, you’ve been given a promotion!

Testimonies of God’s incredible love for us are uncontainable.

If we could ask Joseph, he’d tell us that it’s true….

 

 

 

 

Ever-Present

 

 

 

We could see the storm clouds over the ocean.

The thunder alerted us of the threat of lightning.

It was time to find some shelter.

Should we go back to our tent where we were camping by the shore?

Would we be safer in the car?

The final concensus was to go to the building where washers and dryers were provided for guests of the campground.

Constructed of concrete blocks, it seemed the best choice.

A roof over our heads, strong walls.

How do we go about deciding where to go when dark skies begin to herald a personal storm’s approach?

What happens when it looks like the signs of a strained family relationship are rolling in on the horizon?

How about when the persistent winds of uncertainty or doubt are bending the trees overhead?

What decision should we make when the gray clouds of illness loom just ahead of us?

What then?

Psalm 46:1 encourages us in this way:

God is our refuge and strength,
       an ever-present help in trouble.

God is our only real shelter when turbulence comes.

Our strength alone can’t manage the storms that we sometimes face.

Trouble comes, yet God is ever present.

 

 

 

Blessed Are The Eyes

 

 

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

—Luke 10:21-24

 

 

Shout for Joy

 

 

Several months ago, I had the privilige of hearing a man speak at a gathering.

I was unprepared for the powerful words that were to reach my hearing.

This humble, unassuming man, perhaps in his late fifties, who had moments before just been standing  in the meeting room quietly, now stood before us passionately bearing his heart to those listening and proclaiming the power and the work of Jesus in his life.

Certainly, all eyes must have stayed fixed on him the entire time he spoke. His life had been a broken one.

Mistakes? He had made plenty.

Horrible decisions? One after another.

Ruined his life? Absolutely.

Then, it happened.

This man found Jesus.

Repenting of his ways, he was transformed. Beautifully and completely transformed.

As I recall, this transformation took place over 20 years ago.

This morning, I attended a local church service. The hardwood floors were polished to reflection on the main platform. To my surprise, this man was up front helping to lead the singing!

The sheer joy of the Lord was on his face. He sang with such happiness.

I couldn’t help myself—-I smiled many times just watching him—the perfect model of God’s hope and forgiveness.

He is continually thankful for God’s salvation in his life.

Mistakes? God forgave them.

Horrible decisions? God healed him from his past.

Ruined his life? God restored it.

Are you continually thankful for what God has done for you?

Let your lips tell others of the joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Horse or the Mule

 

 

It was a hot day. I enjoyed photographing my friend with her horse.

Around the field they went, going this way and that.

I was happy to get a few shots of both horse and rider jumping the rails.

The dialogue between owner and animal was interesting.

The beloved horse did not always cooperate with her commands.

At times, she spoke sternly and firmly when the horse’s behavior was not in line.

Things would have been much easier if it had been obedient the first time a command was given.

Are we like that? Do we have to be forced to do what is right?

Must we be made to obey?

God wants us to willingly follow His commands and guidance.

 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
       I will counsel you and watch over you.

  Do not be like the horse or the mule,
       which have no understanding
       but must be controlled by bit and bridle
       or they will not come to you. –Psalm 32:8,9

 

 

 

And Heal Their Land

 

The dome was in the distance as we drove.

Unsure of what significance the building had, I photographed it because of its compelling architecture.

Throughout the world, in every civilization, buildings have been erected, some for one use, some for another.

Certain buildings have had great significance.

Others have known little consideration throughout history.

King Solomon had a temple built for the worship of God:

When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace,  the LORD appeared to him at night and said:
       "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

  "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,  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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.  I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there."–II Chronicles 7:11-16

This was the most important building on the face of the Earth at the time.

Because of the expensive materials used to construct it?

No.

Because it had been built by a king?

No.

It was of greatest importance because it was dedicated to the Author and Creator of the all things–the One who had said that if His people would humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He would hear and forgive their sin…

and heal their land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfolding

 

 

The bright light was shining through the window in a not-so-ordinary way.

Taking a quick glance through the screen, I found my camera and headed outside.

Down the sloping driveway.

Past the trees.

Into the open area by the street.

Looking into the western sky, what I saw was captivating.

It was beautiful.

Thought provoking.

Stunning.

The sky in front of me was being divided in two.

The darker side and the side completely bathed in light.

A large cloud had formed, blocking the sun, but only partially.

As though peeking out from behind, the source of the brightness was just barely visible.

Cutting an angle to make a glowing pathway, the rays created a distinct separation–

In the light.

NOT in the light.

The psalmist prays,

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”- Psalm 119:130

Why wasn’t the entire sky illumined with glorious light as I gazed forward?

Something was in it’s way.

The cloud was blocking it, keeping it’s light and warmth from reaching down.

The unfolding or "understanding" of God’s words give wisdom, guidance and life to those who seek it.

Even so, many of us find ourselves stumbling in the shadows, unsure of the next step.

Is something blocking God’s light?

What in your life could be in the way, keeping the warm rays from reaching your heart?

Ask God to show you any clouds that may have formed.

Go ahead—it’s a beautiful day….on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

Take Root Below

 

 

 

 

They grow in my yard.

I don’t know their proper name, but the sort of a flower, sort of a bush-looking weed type thing sprouts up and grows heartily in the sandy soil of my lawn.

Upon closer inspection, the stalky limbs sprouting yellow flowers are all connected to a singular base that derives its sustanence from a strong root that plunges deep.

Grabbing hold to the plant and giving a good tug brings about….nothing. At least at first.

The root system is entwined within the ground and not easily removed.

Another tug. Harder this time.

A successful removal.

This is no wimpy weed.

It is not easily conquered.

Earlier today I was reading in the Bible about King Hezekiah. He was a good king, who served God.

Hezekiah was sent a message from God through the prophet Isaiah:

"Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above."–II Kings 19:30

In a fascinating story of God’s deliverance of the people under Hezekiah’s rule, we read of an impending attack from a formidable army, the prayers of the king and the prophet and the salvation of the city from their enemy. But what does it mean to "take root below and bear fruit above?"

Could it be possible that the roots spoken of are symbolic of being rooted in God?

Apply that principle to our lives today. 

Having the strength of our roots entwined firmly, will we then be able to bear fruit that furthers His kingdom?

 

 

 

 

Commotion on the Hills

 

 

 

False gods.

Mythology.

Worshiping shapes of stone or wood.

In this day and age, such would seem unusual.

In Biblical times, it was common for nations to look to the very items they had fashioned from the elements for help and guidance.  Worship sites could be found on mountains and hills.

Jeremiah 2:23 reads:

Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
       and mountains is a deception;
       surely in the LORD our God
       is the salvation of Israel.

We live in a time where it is common to view video sent from a vehicle canvassing the surface of Mars.

There are heart transplants and laser surgeries.

Animals are cloned.

People communicate with each other easily in real time from any two points on the Earth.

Worship a piece of stone?

Not today.

Yet, are there still deceptions in our highly technological world?

Deceptions that take our eyes off the one true God?

What are we drawn to that substitutes for our Heavenly Father and His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son?

For each of us, there will be a different answer.

The truth, however, will always remain constant–

Surely, in the Lord our God is salvation.

Don’t listen to the commotion.

 

 

 

 

Vanity

 

 

 

 

The sermon was from Ecclesiastes.

Specifically, how the writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of vanity.

What is vanity?

A mirror connected to a small table is called a vanity….

I decided to research it’s meaning. Here’s one thought:

"Excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievement."

Okay. I think I understand this definition.

But wait…there’s more:

"Something about which one is vain."

That puts a slightly different light on things.

If I were asked to state the main theme of the message I heard, it would be this:

Our self worth should not come from our accomplishments, but understanding who we are to God. We should love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If our lives are filled with this, their will be no void left to fill with vain things.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your  neighbor as yourself.’ —from Luke 10:27

If I know in my heart that God loves me immensely, will I be left to try to prove my worth by how attractive I can become? By what advancements I can make at work? By how much money I earn?

While there is nothing wrong with being attractive, doing well at a profession or being paid a significant amount, I don’t have to try my utmost to accomplish any of them in order to create my own worth.

God created me.

He loves me.

And that’s what’s important.

Who needs vanity?