Showing posts from 2017

Manageable Bites

  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34   The students in my classroom are labeled as “Intellectually disabled.” That is true. All of them struggle in some areas, each one has different strengths and different limits. One thing that is often common in our learning community is the tendency to eat too quickly. It is not unusual to see a child take a “bite” that is actually half a hamburger or attempt to put an entire dinner roll in his mouth at once. Shoveling all things spoonable, potatoes, mac and cheese, fruit is pretty ordinary for some of my kiddos. Thus there has to be a constant reminder, “slow down, sweetie, take manageable bites.”           That term, manageable bites, came to me this morning during my quiet time with the Lord. I was looking around my office, overwhelmed by the chaos that is my Christmas prep. Paper, tape, bags, cards, things wrapped and yet to be wrapped

More To Come

  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 All around me at this time there is so much preparation for Christmas. Jesus is having a birthday. This season reminds us that Jesus came to live and move among us, to direct our minds and hearts toward the Father and to save us from sin and death. Then He left. Thankfully, that is not the end of the story.           The students in my classroom read from a book that has stories that continue for more than one lesson. At the end of the story it says, “the end” but on the prior lessons it says, “more to come.” These last few weeks as I’ve heard them read those words, “more to come” I have been reminded that there is indeed more to come.           Jesus is coming back. He left us, only for a time and He did not leave us alone. He gave us His Holy Spirit to be with us as we journey toward home, toward the more to come. (John 14:15-18)           So many o


   “ For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 On humble people, Christian writer Brennan Manning says, “Following the counsel of Jesus to take the last place they are not shocked or offended when someone puts them there.”   It is important to know your worth to God but to know also that while no one is better than you, neither are you better than another.  Our Father sees us all as equal. Though it is difficult for us to understand He sees all sin in the same light as well. We often fall into the trap of the Pharisee who compared himself to the tax collector, forgetting that our Father loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Self- promotion is never effective. Only God’s promotion counts.  The way of the world is to shine our own light. Take a look at any political campaign. Such paragon’s of virtue and people of immense strength and widespread accomplishment are running for office. It is hard to b

Firmly Planted

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8   How simple is the life of that tree. It is planted safely at the edge of the stream. The water is always there, in the blessed cool or the sweltering heat. The tree makes no effort to obtain the water. The tree simply stands beside the water and waits. Further, that same tree does not wring its branches each year and wonder if this will be the year that no fruit grows. Most of us are so different from that tree.   We stand beside the Lord, a position that ensures us love, protection, freedom and still we fret and worry. How will feed our family? What if… and here you can add just about anything you want because we what if ourselves senseless. We


But those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31   Some days life just feels hard. The more we try the less we accomplish. Everywhere we turn we meet adversity. The pain or aggravation of that adversity can cause us to miss out on the blessings and the joy of life, leaving us empty and edgy. At those times in life when putting one foot in front of the other just seems impossible we need to remember that we can soar on eagles wings. We can fly high above our pain and problems. We can go to a place where that pain cannot reach us.           The last few years I have had quite a mixed bag of blessings and challenges. Many of the blessings have come from releasing the challenges to God. I have been able to accomplish things I thought impossible by simply understanding that they weren’t mine to accomplish.           Sometimes we feel as if the weight

Shaking Grace

  Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 (emphasis mine) Years ago my friend Matthew had a beautiful golden retriever named Kelly. Kelly was the sweetest dog in the world. Normally, she was very well behaved, walked beside us without a leash, stayed where you told her to stay and stopped barking when you asked her to stop. In one area, Kelly was a naughty girl. Kelly loved to shake water all over. Whether she was wet from the lake, from rain or from a bath, no matter how many times Matthew would say, “Kelly, no! Don’t shake!” Kelly would shake, blessing all of us with the spray from her latest adventure.           I thought of Kelly this morning while I was talking to the Lord about grace. Too often many of us, people who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, think that we shouldn’t ask too much of Him. How much more could we ask? He gave His life for us. That indicates that He is truly willing to give anything and


  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work- which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and turned to meaningless talk. 1 Timothy 1:3-6 It would appear that our world is going mad. It’s not unexpected, Jesus warned us to expect things like this, family members on opposite sides (Matthew 10:34-39), people telling us what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3) instead of the Truth, to name a couple of examples. It should not surprise us that things will get worse before they get better. I’m not surprised but I am saddened.           Just the other day my sweet friend Donna put a message on social media asking that people share pictures


  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 My grandson Abram is anxiously waiting for his rocks to be finished. These are rocks that he brought back from Tennessee, his new favorite place. After panning through the dirt, Abram was so pleased to find several big rocks and even more small ones. He was not terribly pleased with the fact that they weren’t as pretty as some of his Pop Pop’s stones. Pop patiently explained to Abram that the rocks had to be tumbled and that tumbling is a pretty long process. Today we are just three days from the finished product and Abram is beside himself with excitement. He has big plans for those rocks.           A few minutes ago I read the verse from Philippians my first thought was of a conversation that I had yesterday. In dealing with one of my more stubborn students I had to stop and take a deep breath and remind myself of his limitations,

Name Dropper

  You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it. John 14:14 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe. Proverbs 18:10 Just yesterday I heard a young woman tell a story about her father. Her father held a position of responsibility in our community and so when Whitney found herself in a little mess, she smiled her stunning smile and said basically here’s the ten reasons why what I did wasn’t all that bad and by the way, my dad is Mr. Important. Problem solved. Except it wasn’t. Her dad truly was a pillar in our community, a man of actual integrity not just approval seeking pseudo- integrity. As Whitney went on to say, facing the actual consequences of her actions would have been far easier than what she faced at home after dropping daddy’s name.           Her father reacted as he did certainly to teach his daughter a lesson, to put a little fear into her but I think there’s more to it than that. Perhaps more than either

Means to an End

  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:44-45 Seeing people as a means to an end sounds just awful, doesn’t it? A few things have happened in the last few weeks that have made me wonder how many of my relationships are good and solid, containing loyalty and truth and how many are just a case of me being the means to an end for someone else.           As usual this led me to examine my own heart. Who are the people in my life that I see as a means to an end. I was feeling okay about it; admittedly there are a couple of people who seem to serve more of a purpose than with whom I have an actual relationship. I prayed about that and asked God to help to know what I might need to do in response to that information. His response startled me.           First I was clea

No Second Opinion

  “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:41-44 If you are a parent of a child over the age of four, then it is my guess that you’ve had this experience.   Your child tells you all about his calamity. You offer sage wisdom and sound advice. You offer it in the face of explanations and sputtering that give a pretty fair indication that no one is hearing your words except you. Now, flash forward a few days, a week or maybe a bit more, to the next phase of the conversation when your darling comes to you so excited because he now has a solution to his problem. He’s garnered said solution by listening to the learned perception of; choose one or more of these, h

God's Perfect Plans

  "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." Jeremiah 29:11 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. Instead you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:14-15 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 There is an event that happens in my life almost every year. Some years I look forward to it and other years it just feels like too much effort. I've prayed to be able to modify it, have a tad more control over it but for the past few years, it's gotten completely out of my control. This year, as in years past, as the date loomed closer I felt myself getting anxious, trying to find tactful ways to say, "Folks, this just doesn't work for


  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8 For the past several years I have worked in a school where the principal made all of the decisions, somewhat arbitraily. At the end of each school year teachers and staff are shuffled around without much thought to how that might impact those individuals. Bad as it was for the teachers, it worse for those of us in paraprofessional positions. Often we would not know where we would be placed until the day we returned for the new school year. Several of us have commented over the years that it makes us feel like furniture. We can be picked up and moved without comment, question or thought. It's not a nice feeling. It would seem that each of us should have some say in where we work.           That principal is retiring this year and as it occured to me that her replacement might not treat us like her belongings, I realized that that is exactl

Something in Common

  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 Recently I spent time with two women who are very dear to me. I want for both of them, what I want for everyone I know, for them to know and feel the love of Jesus. Both women are “Christians.” They both attend church. One of them is extremely active and committed to her church. The other one vacillates between a couple of different churches but she also is involved with in a Bible study. After spending a few days with the two of them together I was given each one's perspective on the other. Both of them said basically the same thing. Each women is worried about the others lack of peace and contentment. “She seems so angry.” Was spoken by both of them about the other. While I absolutely agree that each one is angry and peace is lacking in both lives, in very different ways, what I found amusing was that they could see it in each o

Varied Results

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 The other day I read an account of a woman who struggled with forgiveness. One day while volunteering at church she saw a woman sobbing in the back row. By the author's words the woman had “badly mistreated” her. Still she felt compelled to reach out. She did and found that her enemy had a good reason to be heartbroken. She found forgiveness in her heart and the two became friends. That's so nice. Doesn't it sound just like a thing God would do? Sure it does. I believe, however that God often does things a bit differently. Through the last few years I've had opportunities to reach out to people who have been less than kind to me. I've been called upon by people who have treated me as less than but suddenly when they need help or prayer, find that I have value after all. I've reacted differently in each situation. At times, I have willingly responded to what I see as God's call on my life. Other ti

New Friend

  “ You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 25:43-44 Over the past couple of months I've made a new friend at work. This is an odd friendship as it is not with a co-worker but with a child. She's a fifth grade student at my school who I met while doing my student dismissal duty. At first glance we may not seem the most likely of friends, an older woman and a young girl and then it gets odder. The older woman in the scenario, me, tends to be pretty straight forward about what she believes, that Jesus Christ is Lord and I wear cross earrings or pendants fairly often. The young girl also wears a symbol of what she believes, on her head, covering her head. Got the visual now? Our friendship started one day when she asked me if I like football and if so, what team? I'm a Redskins fan and she is a Bengals fan. Better represented, I'm

Fear Not

  So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 Do not be afraid, or depending on the translation of your Bible, fear not. Those words are said to be in the Bible 365 times. Stop for a second and let the significance of that sink into your soul. 365 times we are told not to be afraid, to fear not. 365. That's one time for each day of every year. Regardless of the circumstance, the story surrounding the words, just consider the significance of the number of times they are used, 365. So what day is the fearful one? On which day of the year should we be afraid? None. Not one day, because like every moment of our lives, every hair on our heads, Abba has it covered. Jesus came to save us from the power of fear and death. There is nothing we will face that isn't already known to our Father in heaven, our loving Abba, who day by day loves and care

God Willing

This message is five years old. I'm reusing it because I believe that it is a very powerful and important lesson. I am so blessed to say that I'm still following Adam's example. He and his family have since moved away. I miss them! Thankfully I still get to see a few pictures and God willing I will see them again in person one day. Now listen you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 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. Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 Children are often instructed to watch, listen and learn from those people with more experience. Surely parents are the earliest teachers of any child. Sadly, far too many children learn all the wrong things. The other day I was blessed not only to see the result of

What Do You Want

  The king said to me, “What is it that you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king,” Nehemiah 2:4-5a The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18 For many years people have asked me to pray for or with them. This started many years into my walk with Jesus, many years after I made the decision, as an adult to follow the Lord and do His will. That seems like it would make it pretty simple for me to say yes to those requests, right? Truly it has become pretty easy but it didn't start out that way. I had no clue what to say or how to say it. Abba has also given me the great gift of encouragement. He often calls on me to be an encourager, a Barnabas, to someone near to me. These aren't necessarily people I know well or even like. They are people God chooses and puts in my path. Sometimes it is easy and natural to grab the hand of another and pray. God's grace is there before I even ask fo


And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. Matthew 27:50 Last night we went to church for a Good Friday service. The service was amazing. Our music director and pastor worked together perfectly to create the right mood, a very somber, dark mood. In our church that service culminates with a very loud boom which signifies the closing of the tomb. After that all is silent. Silent. People who normally greet each other, plan where to eat brunch or when to get together during the week are walking out in silence. Why? Because our reason for being, our hope is gone. Of course for us, in 2017, that is symbolic and not literal but believe me, in that moment it feels real. Each year something stands out to me in the telling of Christ's final hours on Earth. Often it is the total betrayal from too many near and dear to Him. This year it was the fact that in those moments Jesus was gone. The service ended and our full of life pastor did not say a word.


Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. John 7:38 Just a few minutes ago I made a lovely pot of tea. This is not unusual. I do it almost every day, often more than once a day. This morning I emptied the water left from yesterday out of the tea kettle. Why? Excellent question. There was nothing wrong with that water. I could have just added to it. While I was waiting for the train whistle sound, indicating the boiling point, I cleaned out a dish and ran my garbage disposal, more running water. Then I filled a large cup with water from my refrigerator. During these processes I also washed my hands and my counter. Water, water everywhere.... I was taken this morning, not for the first time and hopefully not for the last time, by how very grateful I am to have clean, plentiful, hot and cold running water. Today that led me to think of all the other “ordinary” things we take for granted. While making my te

In All Things

  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 I had a little mishap this morning. Nothing major, just a time setback and a small moment of panic while I wondered if I had the wherewithal to fix the issue. A quick scan of my cabinets and yes, in that sense all was well. Seems fairly ordinary, right? Well, not for me. The thing is, someone else was depending on me. The problem I encountered wasn't going to impact just my day, but the very important event of someone very dear to me. Normally this would be panic mode melt down time but it wasn't. I looked at the disaster, stopped and simply prayed, “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.” And He did! Right there, in the moment. Peace flowed in bringing with it the obvious solution to the problem. Later as I was praying and could see Abba's hand all over my morning another larger issue came to mind. I p

Love First

  We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he hasn't seen. 1 John 4:19-20 Human relationships are funny things. We say that we dearly love others, our spouses, children, parents, siblings, but then they hurt us or betray us and a funny thing happens to that love, it diminishes. It shouldn't. It's perfectly understandable to feel the hurt or anger, to want a time out from the other person. It is not acceptable to stop loving them. On some occasions it seems impossible to give love but it isn't. It's a choice. I have a few people very dear to me, people who also used to be very near to me but are no longer. If I expressed a decline in my love for them most people would nod and commiserate with me. Many would give me examples of similar relationships in their own lives. Wrong! Yes, my feelings have been hurt. That