He Changes Times

 

A new year.

A new beginning.

God is sovereign……

 

 

Daniel answered and said:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.

 

Daniel 2:20-22

 

 

 

 

Fresh As The Morning

 

 

 

What does "debrief" mean?

Merriam-Webster.com states one meaning as "to carefully review upon completion."

I think it is a sign of wisdom, or perhaps, competence, to debrief the seasons of our lives.

And not just the seasons, but the stages.

Not just the stages, but the events.

Not only the events, but the everyday happenings of our existence.

I heard someone read an article today about a woman who was reflecting on motherhood and what it had been like raising her children.

There was a commitment in her heart to train up her children toward faith in God before her first child was even conceived.

She wrote of how she had read scripture verses to her children as they were in their cribs.

Looking back on her life as a parent, she felt that she had not been a perfect mother, but she had remained true to her mission of honoring God in her mothering.

To carefully review a project upon its completion is paramount if future tasks are to be successfully undertaken.

When a builder constructs a house, he must appraise the integrity of the structure when it is finished.

Is he pleased with the outcome?

Were there changes that could have been made to have increased the quality of the structure?

Were there areas that were neglected or areas that were given more attention than was needed?

Whether we build houses or companies, relationships or legacies, reviewing the past and then moving on to the new is of great importance.

Considering what went wrong while also considering what went right keeps us in a balanced state of assessment.

If we focus only on our failures, we can become heavy laden with guilt, forgetting that God forgives us, with mercies new every morning.

If we consider only the positive, we may become complacent and unguarded to the spiritual battles that rage invisibly around us on a day to day basis that, as in the past, we must still face.

When a child enters school, shouldn’t we consider how the first five years of parenting have gone?

When they enter the teen years, should we not consider the outcome of the previous stage of growth?

When we change careers or positions within a specific one, shouldn’t we consider what was learned in the first?

Having placed our faith in God at the center of every endeavor we have embarked on, we must not fail to also ponder how He was at work in us and our surroundings through it all.

Debriefing.

Moving forward with God’s love, grace and mercy.

What does that mean to you?

 

The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
    Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

—Lamentations 3:22-23

 

 

 

God Made Two Great Lights

 

 

 

God created the sun.

God created you and me.

God sustains the sun.

God sustains you and me.

The sun remains where it was created to be in space.

We remain on earth, where we were created to be.

But one day, we will leave this place and He will take us to live with Him–

where He wants us to be.

 

 

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,  and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,  to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

–Genesis 1:14-19


At The Last Day

 

 

 

If I told you that Jesus said something three times to a group of people, would you say that it was probably important?

Of course, everything that Jesus said was important, but if He chose to repeat Himself about a matter, it would seem that He was emphasizing it.

In John 6:25-54, we find the record of Jesus speaking to a crowd. In verses 39, 44 and 54, Jesus says that He will "raise them up at the last day."

"For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” –verse 34

 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." –verse 44

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." –verse 54

 

Does Jesus want us to know what is going to happen to those who believe in Him?

Does He want us to know that if we are His, He will raise us up at the last day?

There will be a "last day" for everyone.

What is going to happen to you on that day?

 

 


As You Wait

 

 

 

We were sitting on the back porch just having a quiet moment to talk.

The weather was mild and pleasant on Christmas Day, perfect for fresh air and conversation.

Our daughter-in-law’s grandmother and I sat, talking about the flowers that were blooming in containers on the porch.

She explained that the flowers were some that had been decorations at the wedding of our son to her granddaughter, almost one year ago.

The plant had no flowers on it then.

In fact, she told me that it had taken all this time before it bloomed–a year without flowers.

She had wondered what they would look like.

A lucious blend of peachy orange and grapefruit pink, the delicate blossoms were worth waiting for.

God has promised that those who love Him and believe on His Son will one day spend eternity in Heaven.

We wait now, wondering what it will be like.

As we wait, we must "keep ourselves in God’s love," staying close to Him through all of life’s journey.

There will be a day when we will "bloom."

 

 

 

 

 

 

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

—Jude 1:20-21

 

 

Be Kind

 

 

 

What are some words that come to mind when you think of kindness?

Compassionate?

Thoughtful?

Understanding?

Gracious?

Do you know someone who exhibits these qualities on a consistent basis?

What comes to your mind when you think of being unkind?

Mean?

Selfish?

Thoughtless?

Do you know someone who exhibits these qualities on a consistent basis?

If a friend, relative, neighbor or co-worker were asked to place you into one of these categories, which one would they most likely choose?

Which one would those in my own scope of influence place me in?

Our actions are an example to others.

What kind of example does Jesus want us to be?

 

 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

–Ephesians 4:32

 

A Son is Given

 

 

Presents.

Family.

Giving.

Sharing food.

Laughing.

Hugging.

A sense of kindness.

Remembering Jesus.

 

 

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

–Isaiah 9:6-7

 

Her Firstborn, a Son

 

The candles were held high as each voice sang "Silent Night."

The Christmas Eve service I attended was almost filled to capacity.

As people entered, they were given a small, handheld candle.

At a specific time, the minister took a candle and lit the candles of a few men.

They, in turn, lit the candles of a few others.

Soon, everyone in attendance was lighting the candle of the person next to them.

The entire room became illuminated with a beautiful amber glow.

Encouraged by the minister to remember that Jesus was the Light of the world, we were also reminded to show His light to others—sharing about Him, just as we had shared the fire of our candle in order to see our neighbor’s candle begin to produce light.

 

Silent night! Holy night!

Son of God

Love’s pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord at thy birth,

Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Silent Night written by Joseph Mohr, 1816

 

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

–Luke 2:6-12

 

 

I Love the LORD

 

 

A local secular radio station plays only Christmas music during this season each year. While listening to the announcer as I was driving today, I began to contemplate his words. He was about to play "The Little Drummer Boy." He prefaced the song by saying that the small boy had nothing to give and that he had given all he had. ……his song. All the things we have to give, God has given us first—-any material possession, any talent, even our time. We would not have any of them had He not provided them first. But what about our love? God has given us the ability to love, but we have free will. We can choose not to love. And what about loving Him? He gives us the capacity to love, yet He does not force us to love Him. It is our choice.

I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.

Psalm 116:1

 

 

Call Him Immanuel

 

 

Christmas lights.

Twinkling colors.

They remind us of ….what?

Love?

Peace?

Goodwill toward others?

More simply, they remind us of what darkness is not.

Jesus is the light of the world.

There is no darkness in His presence.

Approximately 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah told of His coming:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

–Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel has come, and there is light.

There is love.

There is peace.

There is goodwill—through Him.

When you look at the Christmas lights this season, let them remind you that Jesus is our light.

 

 

The Lord’s Servant

 

 

The angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her that she would give birth to a son.

Mary questioned how this could happen, and then—-

 

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

—Luke 1:35-38

 

 

Mary was obedient.

Mary was trusting.

The angel had told her that "no word from God will ever fail."

What about our generation of believers today?

Are we obedient?

Are we trusting of God?

Do we really believe that no word from God will ever fail?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though the Doors Were Locked

 

 

 

 

Is your heart locked up?

If you’re like me, that’s an uncomfortable question to ponder at times.

Am I too guarded, too protective, to let love in?

Are there places in my heart that I want locked up, where no one can come in?

After Jesus had risen from the dead, He appeared to His disciples more than once.

The first time He appeared to them, Thomas was not present.

John 20:24-27 gives this account:

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

 

Locked doors were not a problem for Jesus then.

They are not a problem for Him now, either.

Not even a locked door on our hearts.

He can still come in and say, "Peace be with you," calming our fears and insecurities.

What would Jesus say about you—is your heart locked up today?

Is mine?

 

 

 

 

 

Out of Her Poverty

 

 

 

For as long as I can remember, every year at Christmas time, a particular organization places its members at strategic points among the many stores that are bustling with shoppers.

Why are they there?

In hopes that busy shoppers will, in fact, give to their charitable cause, which includes helping the homeless and assisting with disaster relief.

I had given a very small amount at a store in recent weeks, but just the other day, seeing one of their organizational volunteers outside once again, I decided to give some coins.

As I walked up to offer my small amount, another woman approached the volunteer also.

This woman was in a motorized scooter, typically used by people who have trouble walking.

As I offered my coins, this lady gave some bills.

Although I don’t know just how much she gave, it was certainly more than I had given.

It was quite possible that this woman was permanently handicapped in some way.

Was she sacrificing a lot to give to this charity?

Did she have a job?

Was life difficult for her because of her lack of mobility?

My heart was touched by the fact that whatever problems she may have been facing, she still chose to give to others.

The amount I gave and the amount she gave were both offerings of care.

The attitudes of both our hearts were certainly focused on helping.

Still, I wonder—was I giving out of my wealth, while she was giving out of her poverty?

 

 

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

—Luke 21:1-4

 

We Saw His Star

 

 

 

The Magi were expecting Jesus.

They were prepared for His arrival.

Jesus is coming again someday.

We want to be prepared for His arrival, don’t we?

Do you know Him as your Savior today?

 

 

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Matthew 2:1-6

 

In a Dream

 

 

 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

—Matthew 1:18-21

 

 

Twelve Basketfuls

 

 

 

Can God provide for you?

Really provide what you need?

Food?

A place to live?

Clothes?

A friend?

A job?

When Jesus was speaking to a large crowd, the need for food arose.

Jesus told his disciples that the people did not "need to go away."

Provision was with Him.

Right there.

No need to search anywhere else.

 

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

 “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

—Matthew 14:15-21

 

His Kingdom Will Never End

 

 

While visiting a farm last night, I photographed a large Christmas display.

It was not the usual kind of Christmas decoration that most people have out.

The lights read, "Jesus," and near it was a glowing cross.

Jesus came so He could die for you and me.

The display at the farm is a witness to all who view it.

His kingdom will never end.

Are you a part of His kingdom today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Everlasting Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking on Main Street the day of the Christmas parade, I noticed a large red ribbon decorating a tall light.

Of course, anyone would know that the decoration is there to remind us of what time of year it is.

A symbol to say that Jesus had come, placed on a street lamp.

There will be a day when we will no longer need lamps—

The sun will no more be your light by day,
    nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.

–Isaiah 60:19

 

Pretend

 

 

 

 

 

I heard a song today with an interesting line:

"I live life without pretending." 1

Having heard the lyrics many times before, it was almost a surprise to suddenly have these five words resonate so vividly in my mind.

There’s one thing that is for sure—I could not have written this song.

Why?

Because I cannot honestly say that I live life without pretending.

Oh, there are some things that certainly do not fall into the "pretend" category, but if I substitute "pretend" with "mask" or "hide" then there is a sharper focus on what is really true for me.

Is it that way for you, too?

I pretend by hiding my feelings, many times.

Smiling face, hurting heart.

Frightened?

Unsure of myself?

Confident countenance, strong voice.

We can all pretend that we are in good health, and not take care of ourselves.

We can pretend that the same old job that wears us down will get better–even though it hasn’t in the last fifteen years.

We can pretend that relationships don’t need "fixing," even though tension and joylessness define most interactions.

We can even pretend that we are living a "perfect" Christian life, when in reality, we know that we are not; no one is perfect.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to pretend.

It drains us as it draws our strength away.

Proverbs 12:9 reads,

"It is better to appear unimportant and have a servant than to pretend to be important and have no food."

The line from the song I heard is a challenge for me.

With God’s help, we can all hope to live without pretending.

 

1 "Lemondade" by Chris Rice

 

 

 

 

No Condemnation

 

 

 

I was just a little late for work.

Getting out of the car, my mind was on the tasks of the day that were about to begin.

Very close behind me, I could hear quite an uproar among a few black crows in an almost leafless tree.

Looking up, I saw about five of the crows sitting on branches, squawking and cawing in a most deliberate way.

They were apparently upset.

Why?

Most likely having the attitude of being exclusive, they seemed to not want to share the tree with a bird that was, shall we say, different.

Skinny and dark?

No.

Rusty and rather rotund looking.

Excitable and noisy?

No.

Quiet and reserved.

Obviously, a thinker at heart—

A red shouldered hawk.

Oddly enough, the hawk seemed to care very little what the crows had to say.

He had every right to sit on a branch and he remained there.

Ugly comments aside, he seemed undaunted by all the commotion.

He knew who he was, and he wasn’t going to let a few squawks keep him from being where he wanted to be.

There are times when we can feel all alone in a tree occupied by crows.

Hurtful words from others about our faith or even our integrity can begin to tempt us into leaving behind what we know God has purposed for us.

If we know who we are in Christ, being forgiven and accepted by God, we can be strengthened and made to understand that the discouragement around us is only—–squawking.

Being a child of God, we know our place, and it is secure.

Have you heard any noisy crows lately?

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

—Romans 8:1-2

 

 

 

Hiding Place

 

It was still early morning.

Though it was light outside, the sun’s rays were still muted and pale.

A squirrel had ventured to the top of a fairly tall building.

Motionless, it seemed to have had one paw caught in the seam of a metal roof siding panel.

Anyone who walked by eventually noticed onlookers trying to figure out what to do for the poor thing.

After what seemed to be a long time, firemen came on the scene, prepared to rescue the helpless creature.

At the beginning of the effort, however, the squirrel moved, but only a little.

It was just enough, though, for the firemen to see that he was not stuck, as was thought.

They had seen this before—apparently a squirrel can yearn so for warmth, that it will cling to a brick building to derive any amount of heat the bricks may be holding.

When the sun comes out fully, the squirrel runs along.

In the coldness of an emotional winter, no matter what the calendar date may be, you and I likely know someone who is a lot like this squirrel.

When love seems far away, they search for it.

Seeking for it even in dangerous places, they will cling to even the slightest amount of care, sometimes with desperation.

If they only knew of God’s unfailing love, and His warm rays of acceptance, perhaps they would come away from lesser things.

Psalm 32 speaks of this relationship with God:

You are my hiding place;
    You will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

—verse 7

 

What happened to the squirrel?

When the sun came out, he climbed down.

Our friends are searching for love and security.

Shouldn’t we let them know that God is our hiding place?

 

 

 

 

Burst Into Jubilant Song

 

 

The voices of singers.

The handbells.

The cello.

The violin.

The French horn.

The flute.

The organ.

The piano.

The guitars.

The drums.

What made the music special in the program I attended this morning?

It wasn’t what the music was being made with that gave it importance.

It was what the music was being made for.

Every note in every song was offered in praise to God.

Every ring of a bell.

Every vibration from the organ’s pipes.

Every word sung by the choir.

God has blessed us with music.

We can offer it back to Him in praise and jubilant song.

 

 

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
 make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

—Psalm 98:4-6

 

Vegetables

 

 

 

Have you ever eaten a meal around someone who you knew was angry with you?

It could have been a regular, at home dinner or a large banquet with several guests.

The circumstances are limitless—

An upset teenager across the table.

An angry boss at lunch after the big meeting.

A miffed spouse or parent.

Whatever the situation, if you are aware of the problem, the meal is not a very pleasant one.

Each bite of food, no matter how lucious, seems tasteless in the tense atmosphere.

Have you ever eaten a meal around someone that was thrilled to be with you?

Friends you’ve not seen for years.

Parents celebrating your birthday.

A special dinner date with your spouse.

With love, the menu doesn’t really matter.

Simple foods instead of gourmet?

No problem.

The feeling of acceptance and affection makes everything special.

What kind of meals would you rather have?

 

 

Everlasting

 

 

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,
    and His righteousness with their children’s children—
 with those who keep His covenant
    and remember to obey His precepts.

 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
    and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 103:17-19

 

 

 

 

 

So That The Thoughts Of Many

 

 

 

When Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple on the eighth day, a righteous man named Simeon held Him and praised God. He said,

"Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel." –Luke 2:29-32

Simeon also spoke these words to Mary:

"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." —from Luke 2:34-35

The thoughts of many hearts will be revealed…..those words seem to stand out to me.

When Jesus came, and until this day, the thoughts of many hearts are being revealed.

Did the people of His day believe in Him?

Some did.

Some didn’t.

Do the people of today believe in Him?

Some do.

Some don’t.

What is in our hearts is always known to God.

How we respond to Jesus will set us apart–with Him, or without Him.

What are the thoughts of your heart today?

 

 

 

Cities Without Walls

 

 

 

What do walls do for us?

Outer walls keep the rain and snow from us and shield us from the rays of the sun.

Inner walls help to keep us organized.

They give us a measure of privacy.

Walls create a sense of where you are and where you are not.

Walls allow us to choose one space and reject another.

Walls can protect us in many ways.

A person who has no wall around them is limited in their control of what reaches them.

When someone has no self control, they lose control.

Outside influences rush in without resistance.

God allows us to make choices.

His guidance allows us to create walls of decision about our lives.

Who are we in Him?

Who are we not?

 

People who cannot control themselves are like cities without walls to protect them.

—Proverbs 25:28

 

A Great Light

 

 

 

 

 

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.
 You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

—Isaiah 9:2-7

 

And On Earth

 

 

 

 

 

The angels appeared to shepherds out in a field.

They proclaimed the birth of Jesus.

They praised God and spoke of peace on earth.

Can you imagine the earth at total peace?

No wars.

No hatred.

No arguing.

No contention.

How could it be possible?

It is only possible with God.

 

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

—Luke 2:14

 

I Will Give

 

 

As I walked past the fountain by our front walkway, I noticed that the amount of water spilling over the top had lessened a great deal.

In fact, it was barely flowing at all.

Having seen this happen before, I thought I knew what was wrong—and probably how to fix it.

When leaves from nearby trees fall into the water, they sometimes become attached to the underwater pump in the fountain.

As the leaves collect on the area that is meant to draw in water, the intake nearly comes to a halt.

No water coming in, no water going out.

Looking around, I found a stick lying on the ground nearby.

Thrusting it into the water down to the pump, I simply knocked the collected leaves and debris off.

Within seconds, the water began to flow again from the uppermost part of the fountain down into the main pool.

Walking away, I began to consider what had just occurred.

Sometimes we are like the fountain pump. Leaves and debris fall around us and we begin to take it on ourselves.

Worry.

Fatigue.

Heartache.

Disappointments.

It begins to clog our thoughts and crowd out what Jesus might be saying to us.

In this condition, it’s hard to minister to others.

If we let Him move all the "stuff" out of the way, the flow of relationship with Him and those around us can be restored.

Is your heart covered with leaves today?

Has the flow from the fountain of your life nearly stopped because of them?

Matthew 11:28-30 reads,

“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.  Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest.  Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.”