Showing posts from 2012

Choose An Open Heart

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28   Every now and then something happens that causes a television show to make the announcement, “you are joining a program already in progress.” We enter most people’s lives that way. With the obvious exception of our children, we join lives whose stories are already in progress. I joined one such life when my life was barely in progress. There isn’t a time in my early life that a woman I’ll call Angie, was not there.   We lived in very close proximity so my observations of her are very personal.   Angie was cold to the extreme. There was no real option of getting to know her beyond surface information. She was unhappy, dissatisfied with her life and it showed. Watching her I determined to be nothing like her. Where she was unapproachable, chilly and dark, I wanted to be a warm, caring and affectionate person. As a child I was non

Called By Love

I just began to read the book of Jude, not looking for anything in particular, just because I wanted to read it.   The first words in it grabbed my attention. It reads, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy and peace be yours in abundance.” It’s just the greeting. Maybe it’s the New Testament version of “To whom it may concern.” But read it again. “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.” I was reading Jude, just to read it. I love the last two verses, the doxology, so much and for whatever reason, was drawn just now to read the whole book, which I will do in just a few minutes, after I think about these words above that stopped me. “To those who have been called.” That’s me! My guess is if you are reading this, that’s you! We have been called by God the Father and are kept by Jesus Christ and if that isn’t fa

You and You and You

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town David a Savior had been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 The other day I was listening to a modern version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and something stood out. In this particular version the singer sings the words, “He’s coming back for you and you and you and you….” As I listened I began to smile. I heard a very different voice, the voice of a young friend of mine who lives with a mild version of autism, among some other challenges. My little buddy fixates on certain songs or movies and repeats them over and over for a time before moving onto the next one. Right now one of the songs he loves contains the line, “You and you and you and well…..all of you!” See the connection? While listening to the promise that Jesus, Emmanuel is indeed coming back for you and you and you, I thought of his willingness to come for us at all. We read

Miracle Babies

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Holy Spirit will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son o God.”   Luke 1:34-35 Thirty-two years ago today I was as hugely pregnant and thrilled.   Throughout Advent I thought about Mary and her pregnancy. It was thrilling to think about my own baby, expected so close to the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth.   I was healthy and happy right up until the my own journey of labor, my twenty-eight hour, excruciatingly painful, journey. All of which was very worth the product, my son Paul. Today Paul’s wife is expecting their first child. Her journey is a bit off from Mary’s as Paul is a January baby and my grandson, who I call “Silas,” as they are keeping his name a secret, is due in March. There is however a huge similarity between Paul and “Silas,” even before our little man makes his appearance on this earth. They a


  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name, Jesus. Luke 1: 31 This morning I read a line in a devotional that really made me think. It said that the religious people of Jesus day had the attitude that the Messiah would get their allegiance when and if he fulfilled their expectations.   As soon as I read the words I expected a prick of guilt. Do I do that? Do I expect Jesus to meet my expectations? Those questions made me laugh. I’ve had many reasons lately to take stock of all that God has done for me so far. I know what he is doing now and I have experienced the thrill of knowing that my future is in his hands. Do my expectations need to be met? No! Because they have been surpassed by miles and miles. Looking around at my imperfect life, at my family, friends, job etc, I can see the myriad ways that Jesus has blessed me. There are people, things and experiences in my life that I couldn’t have asked for because they are beyond wha

Most Wonderful

  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there will be no end. Isaiah 9:6-7a   It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Every year at this time something prompts me to borrow that line from the much loved Christmas song of the same name. It is the most wonderful time of the year but not for the reasons the media would like to sell us. This is what liturgical churches call Advent. When I was a child I was very confused by the juxtaposition of Advent and the secular preparations for Christmas. In our church Advent was a solemn time. We prepared for the birth of the baby Jesus. That should be happy, right? Yes and no. Are we happy that Jesus is being born? Yes but because we know his whole story, we know about Good Friday and we know the part we play in it. That casts the solemn light on things. For while we were still sinners that prec

A Gratitude Epiphany

  Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 For years I had nightmares. I didn’t sleep much and when I did it was fitful sleep. The demons I could hold at bay during the daylight hours plagued me at night.   I would pray as I closed my eyes to sleep that no evil or fear would find its way into my dreams but more often than not, the nightmares came. Then my life took a decided turn. More secure and more able to live in the Light I found sleep less fitful. The nightmares dwindled and eventually disappeared. Over the last several months a cousin of those nightmares has resurfaced. Rarely are they as severe as they were but now it isn’t a few nights out of a week but just about every time I close my eyes to sleep. I pray. I fill my mind with Scripture and with praise but still the dreams come.   Once again my sleep is fitful. I wake up often but when I return to sleep the same negative images await. Just today I was thinking and prayin

Get A Helmet

  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 Years ago when my children were at the age where everything is unfair, they would complain to me ad nauseam about any and every issue. I found one answer I repeated over and over. “Life’s tough. Get a helmet.” I was reminded of that recently when I began to feel as if one by one, unpleasant things were falling on my head. For years I’d lived with the ever present sense of a shoe about to drop, as they say but for awhile my life seemed somewhat emancipated from free flying shoes. Recently it seems that footwear is once again dangling precipitously over my head. I laughed as I thought about my own words to my children, “Life’s tough, get a helmet.” Thinking about my total lack of control over said footwear I thought, “Hm, maybe I ought to get a helmet.” God in his amazing graciousness reminded me, ever so gently, that I have one. It is the helmet of salvation and it is one


   Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2 I began this message with the greeting from Ephesians because that is where my Bible happened to be open. I could have chosen any of Paul’s letters, as they all contain some version of the same greeting. Grace and peace. Recently I have become a big fan of Pastor Joseph Prince.   Pastor Prince is all about grace. He is also quite well educated in Hebrew letters, their meanings and significance. Many, many times I have heard him talk about Hei (pronounced, hey), that is, grace. I am a Yankee transplant. As I write this I am eight months away from having lived in the South as long as I lived in the North. The theory is, however and I do believe it, once a Yankee, always a Yankee. When I first moved here there were many Southern phrases that made me clench my jaw. To be fair, twenty-seven years later several still do. One, however, has

There She Is

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12   Reading that verse this morning I was filled with joy at the idea of being fully known by God. This is a new experience for me. Any thought of God, of my Father knowing all about me has, up until very recently, made me quite uncomfortable, even ashamed. I’m human, all the way through and as such have done and said things I so very much wish I hadn’t. But God loves with perfect love. In the verses just prior, the very well known section of 1 Corinthians, it says, “it [love] keeps no record of wrong.” Thinking about that, about always, always, always being welcomed into my Father’s presence reminded me of a little friend of mine, Brittany. Brittany’s mind doesn’t work in what we refer to as the “normal” way. She tends to grab hold of a phrase or two and repeat them over and over until something else

Give Them Something to Talk About

  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sind and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20 Normally when we think about talking about other people it carries some bad connotations. Recently I’ve had several conversations about others that have been very positive. The one that stands out is the chat I had with my husband, Otto about my sister, Brenda. About a month ago Brenda came to my home for a quick weekend visit. That may not seem notable but when you consider the contortions and the alignment of events that had to take place to make that visit happen it becomes significant. Add to that that Brenda and I are not sisters by birth. (Make no mistake, although we do not share a family of origin we do share family and are very much sisters.) We had a great time on our weekend and agreed that at least once a year there has to be a visit for just

The Loss of Brian*

  Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Our bodies are temples, created to house the presence of God. Let that sink in for a minute. How did you treat that temple yesterday? Don’t worry, this isn’t a fitness lecture. Trust me, I’m in no position to give one of those! My point is that while we know that and believe it, we forget sometimes. Think of your home.   At our house there is always a project and they are all designed to enhance the look and livability of our house. To be completely transparent, I don’t do so well with the aforementioned temple. I go through phases of eating well, sleeping enough and getting a decent amount of exercise but then so many other things are pressing or more important and let’s not deny the trumpet call of chocolate. For years I knew a man named Brian who was const

Let Blessings Flow

  A generous man will himself be blessed, because he shares his food with the poor. Proverbs 22:9 “Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and all blessedness. We do not obtain forgiveness by good works, but through the forgiveness of sin come good works.” Martin Luther I don’t know if it’s because Thanks giving is around the corner or because Christmas comes right behind it, in any case I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about giving and forgiving lately. For awhile our enemy really tried to convince me that I didn’t give out of the overflow of what God has given and continues to give to me, but as a means to an end.   Just as I began to question my motives and look for guilt, (yes , look for guilt!) I read this quote from Martin Luther. Oh! That’s right. I love how perfectly and succinctly he puts it. We can give and serve ourselves to exhaustion but that isn’t going to earn us any forgiveness. Hello, the word is for give ness! But once we receive forgive

Heavy Feet

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John 20:3 Can you draw a picture of Peter and “the other disciple” [John]? I cannot but when we see depictions of the apostles John is tall and lithe and Peter is shorter and burly. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s based on the men of the time and the attributes ascribed to each one in the Bible.   If we believe those descriptions to be accurate then it makes sense that John arrives first. Peter, chunky boy that he is, comes huffing and puffing bringing up the rear.   That could be why but today I’m wondering if there is another explanation. Peter and John were both very close to Jesus. John stuck with Jesus to the last breath. Peter ran. He denied their friendship and then he ran and hid. Now, the tomb is empty.   Of course they want to see it for themselves. They want to know what happened. Where is Jesus if not in the tomb? So they both b

"Daddy, Wha!"

  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17b-18 My little granddaughter Abigail, is at the perfect age. She is nineteen months old, chubby and absolutely adorable. She loves life and is as content to sit and watch as she is to get up and dance.   Whatever she’s doing, she does it with a sweet innocence and openness to the world around her that is the lot of life of children raised in happy homes by loving parents. Abigail is very attached to her mama but when it comes to superheroes she has one, Daddy. My son Jeffrey is a musician and encourages a love of all things musical in all of his children.   Abigail is a dancer.   If Daddy will make noise that has a tune and/or a beat, Abby will dance.   I commented about that to my sister, who then asked if Jeffrey could send her a video of the baby dancing.   He did and knowing I’d ha


  Everyone who calls on the name of the will be saved.   Romans 10:13   Salvation is a funny thing.   It seems that it is often misunderstood. I know I’ve struggled in that area and sometimes still do. Although, praise God, that is rare these days.   When Jesus died on the Cross that was a once and for all sacrifice on his part. However, we need saving more than once. Now, I don’t mean saving in the sense of eternal salvation.   I mean saving from, as in one day I may need saving from fear. The next day or week it might be pride.   We have been saved by Jesus for eternal life. (John 3:16) but there is so much more to it. Look at John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When the thief arrives at my door, attempting to steal my peace he does it in various ways.   The success of those tactics is pretty much up to me. Just this week I’ve had several opportunities to, if not panic, at least

Just Enough

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9b-10 This morning I was reading about manna.   The message was describing the loving providence of God. It dealt with how our merciful God meets our needs. It was lovely but to be quite honest, my mind wandered elsewhere while I was reading it. When the Israelites were in the desert they were given manna and they were told to gather just enough for one day. (Exodus 16:4-5)   Of course the Israelites were human and some of them didn’t exactly obey the directive which led to some pretty nasty results. (Exodus 16: 20)   The manna they held onto for the future ended up filled with maggots. Gross! Thinking about that aspect of the story made me wonder why they didn’t trust God? He said he would provide food every day but they doubted…. Suddenly I became very uncomfortable with my thoughts as another Bible verse came to mind. “Therefore do not worry abo

The Freeing Spirit

  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)   It is hard for me to understand how people live without God.   Thankfully over half of my life has been lived with a real relationship with the Trinity.   Beyond that I was raised in church and as much as that means nothing on its own, I believe God was always preparing my heart to welcome him.   I cannot think of a time in my life that for better or worse was not influenced by my idea and/or knowledge of God. Just a few days ago I listened as my very dear friend, Kim, recounted events in her mother’s life. To say the situation is unstable is a vast understatement as it leans precariously close to deadly.   My heart broke for my friend, first of all because I love her and I know she loves her mother.   I also felt a deep connection as just ten d


As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous.   Joshua 1:5-6a   Does your family do the high/low game?   It’s the game where at dinner or bedtime, each person in the family tells their high and low point of the day.   The idea is to make us more aware of our blessings and show us that in light of those blessings the lows maybe aren’t so low or are at least bearable. Yesterday, in an effort to distract myself from some things that had occurred during my day,   I played the game with three of my grandchildren.   They are all under the age of nine so their answers were quite precious.   Two art projects and a “cool way to play football with a soccer ball” made the high list. The lows were benign in the extreme. It warmed my heart as my high and low were the exact same thing and I was still in the throes of trying to process it. To be perfectly frank, I’m still trying to process it. God is incredibly good.  

Who Are You?

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”           John replied, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the path of the Lord.’ ”  John 1:22-23   “Who are you?” How would you answer that question? I suppose it could depend on your mood, right?  It would also depend on who is asking, which already half answers the question.   I identify myself very often by my relationships.   Otto’s wife, Paul/Joseph/Jeffrey/Laura’s mom   “Grammy” to their children,   Charlene’s friend but Mrs. Davis’ assistant (Charlene is Mrs. Davis) etc.   My identity is very much tied to the people around me. Here John the Baptist is saying that he is the one making the road ready for Jesus.   John is the precursor. That’s a mid-size word that simply means the one who comes before.   So here John is identifying himself by one important relationship. Oddly in verse 31 he says, “I myself did not know him.”