Saturday, March 17, 2018

Captured By a Camera

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and
slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring
about the righteous life that God desires.”
James 1:20 (NIV)

 “I am so embarrassed,” my friend blurted out as I opened my front door. “I just made a fool of myself today!”

“That’s an everyday occurrence for me,” I smiled, “so just once isn’t too bad.”
But there was no smile in return. She sat down, shook her head and explained what had just happened.

She had gone to the principal’s office at school because the bus driver had reported that her daughter Sara had been jumping over seats while the bus was in motion and was not listening to his repeated requests to sit down.

“I was so angry when I walked in the office and never gave anyone a chance to speak,” she said. “I glared at the principal and the bus driver and told them that Sara would never ever jump over bus seats nor would she disrespect her bus driver by not obeying what he told her to do.”

At this point she put her hands on her head and looked at me: “I followed that with a comment about how awful it was that they would accuse my daughter of doing such a thing and ended by saying that evidently someone was lying.”

I took her hand and silently waited as she finished her story. “As I made that last statement, the principal leaned over and pushed the start button on his DVD player. I watched what the bus camera had recorded. Sara. My daughter. Jumping over bus seats. Ignoring her bus driver’s repeated demands to sit down.”  Oh my.

She looked at me as regret and shame poured from her eyes and onto her shirt. “I’m a Christian. A Christian! And today I was a horrible example of Jesus to everyone who heard me at the school.”

Ever been there? Ouch. Me, too. Instead of memorizing today’s Scripture from James 1:20 and putting it into practice every single day, I find myself changing the words around a bit so that it sounds more like this: “I am quick to become angry and speak and slow to listen.”

When my mouth engages without ever consulting my Spirit, I know that, within minutes, regret is going to rise to the surface. Regret for what I thought, what I said and for my very unchristian behavior. That is why James 1:20 is so important for us all.

We need to remember that as Christians we represent the Creator of the Universe. No matter what we say or do, there will always be someone watching and listening, even if we are never captured by a camera.

Father, for every single situation that I face today, help me to remember that I am an example of your Son no matter where I am. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Have you ever become angry or frustrated and shared everything that came to your mind without stopping to think what you were saying?

  • The next time you face a situation – no matter what the issue – mentally tell your lips that they are super glued together and open your ears to what is being said.
  • Then picture everyone around you watching and listening to see if you will be a Christian example to them.

Power Verses

  • James 1:20 (NIV) “. . . Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
  • Proverbs 15:18 (NIV) “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares.”
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV) “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
  • Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
  • Ecclesiastes 10:12 (NIV) “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Where You Is?

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his
 temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
 he drew me out of deep waters.”
Psalm 18:6, 16 (NIV)

The day I lost my daughter is one I will never forget. Even now, years later, I can still feel that knot in my stomach when I think about it. In my defense I was also watching seven other children but you would think that losing MINE would not have happened. And yet it did.

My sisters and I had somehow managed to stuff all our children into a van and drive to town to shop. We were quite a sight in a local store as we tried to look over items and keep track of eight children at the same time.

As we walked back to the van, my sisters said “Hey, we are here by the supermarket. Need anything?” I did not and volunteered to watch all the kids so they could get what they needed more quickly.

As I helped the eight children load into the van, I kept thinking that something wasn’t right. “Five, six, seven” I counted. Suddenly it hit me! Not only was there a child missing but it was my youngest! And just as suddenly I realized that I had left her in the department store.

“Do not move from this car!” I sternly warned the children. “If someone tries to bother you, everybody scream together as loud as you can. I will be right back.” I yelled as I ran to find my little one.

 “Please Lord, please” was all I could choke out as I hurried through the shop door and immediately scanned the aisles for my daughter.

            Suddenly I saw a blonde head bobbing up and down two aisles away and heard a precious three-year-old voice calling “Mommy! Mommy! Where you is?”

“I hear you, Sweetie. Mommy is here, right here!” I cried with relief as I ran to her and pulled her up into my arms.

In today’s Scripture David writes about calling on the Lord for help when he was distressed. If he had left it there and said nothing more, we would not have the hope that we have today that God not only hears but answers.

But David tells us that not only did God hear him, He “drew me out of deep waters.” In other words, God heard His child’s call for help and answered him.

Just as my daughter called my name and I immediately ran to her, in the same way God hears and answers His children. We, too, can get “lost” in situations of everyday life.
But no matter what we are facing, we need to remember that our Father is waiting to hear our call for help. We will never have to ask Him the question “Where you is?”

Father, oh how I love that you hear me when I call and you promise to take care of me because I belong to you. Thank You for being so faithful. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like God was somehow far away and not really listening to you when you called on Him?
  • Did you keep praying or were you just tempted to give up?

  • Memorize today’s key scripture. Personalize it by placing your name in place of “my” and “me.”
  • In your prayer time today praise the Lord for every time He heard your cry to Him this last week and thank Him for answering. Journal His answers.

Power Verses

  • Psalm 18:6, 16 (NIV) “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
  • Isaiah 43:1 (NIV) “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
  • Isaiah 59:1 (NIV) “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”  
  • Psalm 66:19 (NIV) “. . . but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”
  • I John 5:15 (NIV) “And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Don’t Forget To Dance

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your 
spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” 
Romans 12:11 (NIV)

One of the most precious videos I ever saw showed a two year old boy who finally was able to hear for the first time. Having been deaf from birth, he had never heard his mother’s voice or music playing or birds chirping – in other words, all of the sounds that we enjoy and take for granted.

As the little boy sat on his mother’s lap, she spoke gently to him, calling his name while hearing aids were placed in his ears. “Brian. Brian, its Mommy.”

He jerked his head toward her face and instantly began to smile and bounce up and down on her lap. Next his father laughed and then cried as his son laughed back at him and reached for his arms.

Suddenly, in his excitement, the little boy jumped to the floor and danced in a circle, clapping his hands and giggling. What a beautiful reaction to hearing voices for the first time!

That pure joy reminded me of the moment I decided to give my heart to Jesus. I couldn’t quit smiling and sharing Him with everyone I met. Maybe I didn’t dance as I told my friends and family about the Lord, but inside I couldn’t contain the music my heart was singing at my new found faith.

Sadly, as I got older, I almost became complacent about my gift of eternity. I guess I could explain my fading enthusiasm by saying that as I got older, I was more dignified in my walk with the Lord. 

But to be honest, I think that I began to take it for granted and I allowed my extraordinary relationship with Jesus to become ordinary. Ouch. Can you identify?

I pray we never forget what He did for us. Our hope is not in the temporary but in the eternal. Remember the excitement of asking the God of the Universe to live in your heart? 

He is still the same Father now as He was when you first met Him face to face.  His truth has not changed. Jesus willingly died for every single one of us. He longs for a close personal relationship with us, His children.

Share the exciting news of Jesus and His mercy and grace, forgiveness and love. And while you are at it, don’t forget to dance. 

      Father, I never want to take for granted the gift of eternal life that you have given to me. May I share it with enthusiasm with everyone I meet. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

R.A.P. it up . . .

Do you remember how you felt the moment you asked Jesus into your heart?
How does that excitement compare with how you feel today?

For one week, make it your goal to share the joy you have as a child of God with one person every day. 
At the end of that week, write down all the responses you received. Could they see your excitement in your heart for the Lord?

Power Verses
Romans 12:11 (NIV) “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” 
I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Colossians 3:23 (NIV) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
I Samuel 2:1 (NIV) “Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.’”
Romans 15:13 (NIV) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Most Wonderful Day of My Life

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as
unwise but as wise, making the most
of every opportunity, because
the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)

There were very few times as a little girl that I got to go with my dad and help him with his farm chores. I don’t remember why. Perhaps he was in a hurry with so much to do. Maybe he wanted to make sure his 8 year old daughter was safe in the house and away from the equipment.

Whatever the reason, I longed to do something – anything – with him. And then it happened. He asked me to help him feed the cattle.

It was an extremely cold January day so I zipped and buttoned layer after layer to stay warm and topped it all with oversized brown coveralls, a green stocking cap and two pairs of gloves. My job was to drive the tractor while he threw hay off the back of the wagon to the cattle.

            It’s funny how sights and sounds stay with you but I can still remember the smell of the hay and feel the crisp air on my face as I proudly drove the tractor around the field as the cattle followed.

I remember thinking that this must be what the Pied Piper of Hamelin did to get the children to follow him, except the children were replaced by cattle and my dad used his voice instead of a flute to get them to follow.

In all honesty, I am sure that he did not look back on that experience with me as anything out of the ordinary. But not me! Oh, I remember that day even now because it was one of the few times that I got to work side by side with Daddy.

I am reminded of a true story about Charles Francis Adams, the grandson of President John Adams and the son of President John Quincy Adams. Charles, a successful lawyer and politician, was disciplined to the point of keeping a dairy that he wrote in almost daily.

One entry was this: “Went fishing with my son today – a day wasted.” However his son, Brook Adams, who also kept a diary, wrote this entry on the same day: “Went fishing with my father – the most wonderful day of my life!”

I know that life gets crazy. There are demanding careers and unmowed lawns and dirty dishes and jammed windows. There are golf games and card games and unread books and unmade beds.  

But there are also children. Children to hug and cheeks to kiss and puddles to wade in together. There are also kites to fly and bikes to ride and songs to sing and laughter to share and Scripture to discover. Together.

There are memories to be made, my precious friends. So I need to ask you: how will your children – and grandchildren – remember you?

Paul encouraged the people at Ephesus to wisely make the most of every opportunity that they had to do the Lord’s will. His warning applies to us today as well.

Unfortunately I have to admit that when it comes to my children and grandchildren, I can get my priorities out of order. Can you relate?

There is absolutely nothing in your life right now that cannot wait until you hug or love or tickle or squeeze your children. Until you take each little face in your hands, look into upturned eyes and say “The best part of my day is you.” 

I have no doubt that they will immediately think “this is the most wonderful day of my life!”

Father, thank You for reminding me today that spending time with my children is more important than anything in this world. I pray I will take every opportunity to let them know how much they are loved. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Are your children listed above everything that you have to do this next week or at the bottom of the list?
  • Do you find yourself telling your kids “Yes, we will do that together later” but later doesn’t come?

  • Make two columns in your journal. Label them “Important for Now” and “Important for Eternity.”
  • Enter your activities for next week under one of the two columns. Prioritize activities so your children are at the top of both columns. Are your children listed in any of the activities? In which column are they?

Power Verses
  • Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV) “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
  • James 4:14 (NIV) “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
  • Psalm 39:4 (NIV) “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”
  • Psalm 127:3 (NIV) “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.”
  • Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV) “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Going in Circles

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made
your way around this hill country
long enough; now turn north.’”
Deuteronomy 2:2-3 (NIV)

Finding the mall in a city should not be hard for any female with shopping on her mind. And not just one female, but three, determined to find fantastic bargains for practically nothing. So the shopping trip began for my two daughters and me one Saturday morning.

We didn’t get directions but were fairly confident that we could find the mall and scoop up one bargain after another. While I have long been known for getting lost – everywhere – I felt certain that my daughters did not inherit that flaw. Wrong.

After two hours of driving, we decided that being “fairly confident” that we could find the mall was actually “overly confident.” Our conversations went like this: “Is that a prison?” “Yes. Wouldn’t it be scary to live in a city with a prison close by?”

Forty-give minutes later: “Hey…isn’t that the prison again?” “It can’t be.” “Well, are there two prisons in this city?” “Not that I know of.” “Either there are two prisons or we are going in circles.” Silence. Then: “I vote for two prisons.”

I understand today’s Scripture completely. In the beginning of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites about their years spent in the desert and the march to Canaan. Then he talks about journeying into the wilderness and around Mt. Seir for several days until the Lord tells him that they had gone in circles long enough and need to change direction and go north.

Moses also reminds them that, through it all, despite their complaining and disobedience, God had supplied their every need and had been faithful to His children.

I could have been one of those Israelites. God has guidance and direction for my life but so often I think I can do everything on my own. So I travel in the desert, going round and round, never accomplishing anything and complaining every step of the way.

Maybe my Mt. Seir is a disagreement with my husband over something he said or did. My arguing goes round and round when what I need to do is to “turn north” – in other words, take a deep breath and ask the Lord to direct my steps – and my tongue.

I moan and whine when I step on the scales and see my weight. But I go round and round, hopping from one diet to another instead of seeking my Father’s face and asking Him to give me strength and will power in choosing my meals.

I have decisions that need to be made about my career or a family problem or my business so I run in circles, talking with friend after friend to get their opinions rather than stop and seek the Lord first for answers.

Going in circles eventually leads . . . nowhere! Have you been wandering on that path long enough, trying to figure out on your own the direction for your life? It’s time to listen to the Lord and turn north!

Father, so many times I go in circles when I need to be listening to your voice and following a new direction. Thank you for being faithful and pulling me back to you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Have you ever had a situation that you tried to correct on your own without direction from the Lord?
  • Did you find yourself going in circles with no solution in sight?

  • Draw a circle in your journal. Write the situation that you are facing on the inside of the circle and around the outside, write the steps that you have taken so far.
  • Now pray about the situation and draw a “turn north” line and write down the solution the Lord puts on your heart.

Power Verses
  • Deuteronomy 2:2-3 (NIV) “Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
  • Psalm 120:1 (NIV) “I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
  • John 8:12 (NIV) “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

Friday, February 9, 2018

Called By Name

“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the
sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own
sheep by name and leads them out.”
John 10:3 (NIV)

It’s always been easy for me to remember faces. Even faces that I haven’t seen for years. A student could move from the school where I worked her kindergarten year and not move back until high school and I would recognize her immediately.

But remembering names is completely different. For some reason I struggle terribly when it comes to meeting people and keeping their names stored in my brain.

 I’ve tried all the helpful tips that I’ve been given, from saying the name the minute I am introduced to mentally rhyming it with something familiar or funny so it stays in my memory but nothing has worked.

That inability to recall names caused me to make an embarrassing mistake at my new job. I was hired at a savings association and it was imperative that we always remembered names when assisting customers with their accounts.

We dealt with hundreds of thousands of dollars on a daily basis and were taught that acknowledging a person’s name helped the customer to see that we cared about their decisions and about them.

One particular elderly man – a frequent customer – came in to make a huge deposit of several thousand dollars . . . and I went blank. I recognized his face instantly but, as hard as I tried, could not remember his name. “Think quick, think quick,” I told myself and then it came to me.

As I filled out the deposit slip, I smiled at him and said “I am so sorry, but I cannot remember how to spell your last name.” He smiled back and said “Oh, that’s okay. S-m-i-t-h.” Mercy.

In today’s Scripture, we read about a watchman who was hired to guard a sheep pen. In those days a watchman usually had several different flocks in one pen at night. The walls of the pen were made of stones with a gate that was the entrance.

When a shepherd came to the pen to collect his sheep, the watchman opened the gate. As the shepherd called his sheep, they recognized his voice and followed him out of the pen. He knew their names and they knew the voice of the shepherd.

So let me ask you: what “pen” do you find yourself stuck in? Are you trapped by temptations or loneliness?  Are you filled with depression to the point that you wonder if anyone truly sees you or cares? Do you wonder if God even knows you exist?
Here is the good news! We worship a Father who not only knows our names, but calls us BY name as His children. We are not a number on a list or a face in a crowd to the Lord. We are priceless and precious to Him.

We are loved by the Creator who knows the name and voice of each one of His creations.

The gate is open. Are you listening for the voice of the Shepherd? He is calling you by name today.  

Thank you, Father, for calling me by name and keeping my focus on you. Thank you for being my Shepherd and keeping me in your care. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Have you ever met an acquaintance and could not remember his or her name? How did you feel?
  • Have you ever thought that your problems are not important to God and that He doesn’t hear your call for help or even know your name?

  • Journal today’s Power Verses and replace “him” or “you” with your name.
  • How does it make you feel when you realize that God knows you personally by name as His child?

Power Verses
  • John 10:3 (NIV) “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
  • Isaiah 43:1 (NIV) “But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
  • Isaiah 49:16 (NIV) “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
  • Jeremiah 1:4 (NIV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before your were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
  • Psalm 23:1 (NIV) “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

Saturday, February 3, 2018


“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord
is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

An interview about the Miss Universe Pageant really caught my attention. A gentleman who was a major supporter of the contest was asked what determined the final outcome and the winner.

His answer was frank and to the point: “Let’s just say what it is: it all comes down to beauty. How they look. Oh, yes, they can be intelligent and business women and all those things, but what really matters is how they look . . . how beautiful they are.”

I looked at the pictures of each young woman in the contest and they were truly all physically beautiful. Perfect skin and perfect teeth. Perfect hair, perfect curls. Perfect gowns on perfect bodies. Perfect smiles. Perfect conversations with the judges. They . . . were . . . well . . . perfect.

And then I looked at my reflection in the mirror. A scar on my neck from a surgery. Wrinkles that make deep inroads from the corners of my eyes to my hairline. Varicose veins on my ankle resembling a tattoo gone horribly wrong. Crazy hair that wakes up in a whole new world every morning. A crooked tooth in spite of three years of braces. Nothing perfect at all.

According to that gentleman I would not compare or ever come close to his – or the worlds – definition of what matters: physical beauty. Can you identify?

Look at today’s Scripture in Proverbs 31:30. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He knew a beautiful woman when he saw one and he was surrounded by hundreds of them. And yet he makes the startling observation that charm and beauty are not what’s most important. He says that the key to what makes a beautiful woman beautiful is her spiritual life. Wow!

Those lovely women in the pageant will not always look perfect as they did during the competition. No one can escape the aging process. Solomon reflects in Ecclesiastes that we all came from dust and that is where we will all return.

Solomon understands true beauty when he says “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” She fears the Lord; in other words, she respects and reverences the holiness of her Creator. Her heart is focused on being an example of Jesus. That inner beauty will not fade with age as physical beauty most certainly does.

Will physical beauty continue to be what most in the world consider “perfect”? Oh I’m positive of that.
But, more than anything, I want my beauty to come – not from a reflection in a mirror – but from a reflection of Jesus. The Perfect Creator.

Father, too many times I look at my physical appearance and forget that you made me in your image to worship you. Today my heart is focused on you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

  • Can you think of a woman who you would consider to be physically beautiful?
  • Does she reflect a mirror of physical beauty only or does she also reflect the inner beauty of Jesus?

  • Society today is continually focusing on physical beauty. If you have children or grandchildren, take time to share with them about God’s viewpoint of real beauty.
  • Share today’s power verses with them and praise their desire to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus.

Power Verses
  • Proverbs 31:30 (NIV) “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
  • I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • Ecclesiastes 3:20 (NIV) “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
  • Psalm 139:14 (NIV) “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
  • I Peter 3:3-4 (NIV) “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Captured By a Camera

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous l...