Monday, March 31, 2014


The Lenten season is a season of waiting. It begins in early spring when we are waiting for the dark days of winter to end and for spring to usher in the budding and greening up of nature. Have you ever tried to hurry up spring? It comes in it's own time. However, we know it will eventually be here so we wait and appreciate all the early signs that assure us it is coming.
Readings in the old testament told us of the coming of the Messiah. Some tried to hurry the time along by trying to set up kingdoms that were eventually crushed. God chose his own time and specific way to bring us his chosen Messiah. The prophets of old knew the Messiah was coming so they waited and looked for the signs. Even today, we look for signs, but no one knows the exact time or place of the second coming.
Yet, while we wait, we have assurance that Christ is at work in us. Our assurance is in our faith and belief in the Word of God and our response to it in our lives. I've accepted Christ into my life and ask for his forgiveness. But God, through his grace, has done the rest.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:20-21

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Have you ever seriously considered who you would be willing to die for? Who would deserve such  a sacrifice on your part? Is it a child, a parent, a good friend? When it really came down to that last breath, would you go through with it? What would you expect in return?

Have you ever considered what you have done that gave you the right for Jesus to give his life for you? You were a sinner. What had you ever done for him? Oh maybe you went to church and even sang "Amazing Grace" a time or two. But is that enough?

It is. Yes, it is, because of God's grace. It is not because of anything we have done. It's because of God's love and nothing else. That is enough! Isn't that amazing?

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5: 7-8

Oh, yes. God's grace is truly Amazing Grace.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I've spent time talking with some of the crew on the cruise ship. Their stories are fascinating. It is a very international crew, most from third world countries. They are on ship for 9 months and home for 2-3 months. The men seem to all have families and are sacrificing for their families by working on board ship where they can earn more money than in positions where they live. All say the same thing.....they want their children to get an education and this gives them the money to be able to do that. The children show appreciation by doing their best in school.

What are you sacrificing? What do you want the outcome of your sacrifice to be? How important is it to you? What are you willing to give up. God sacrificed his son, Jesus, so your sins can be washed away. How do you show appreciation?

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. " Romans 12:1-2.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I am in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean and as I look out over the vast area of water, seeing no land or anything else, I am reminded that the sea is wide and deep. I am reminded of this scripture passage of scripture:

" I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."Eph 3:17-19

Wow, God's love is wider and deeper than what I can see from this deck. That is huge. We definitely serve a very loving God. We can not even measure his love. We just trust that it has no beginning or ending. So let's just open our hearts and let his love flow through us.


Friday, March 21, 2014


If you are having trouble praying.....don't know how or what to pray for...start looking through Psalms, especially for leadership. David has given us some beautiful prayers that cover almost everything we need or struggle with. He fought so many battles trying to keep Israel under God's rule. He opened his heart and soul to God, confessing all of his wrongs, asking for forgiveness, strength and direction in all things. His life and prayers are an example for all who serve as leaders. How do we assess our leadership? All have sinned and fallen short, but there is hope and encouragement for change.

This world is in a mess, would you agree? We tend to be heading toward a one world kind of government.  Some days the news is very scary. We talk about praying for our leaders and the leaders of the world. We need more David's out there who can examine themselves closely and ask that God's will be done through them instead of leaders who are pleasing others for votes. It's becoming a struggle to decide who is right. God alone is worthy of worship. We want to please him first.

"Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
 All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God." Psalm 86: 8-10

God has made all nations. Are we as a nation coming to worship the one true God? Are we bringing glory to his name or are we bringing glory to  leaders who are following other gods whose deeds are not following him or his will for us? How do we know for sure? Prayer! Asking God for help and discernment. Listening for his word as David did. Following through in love. We are hearing that we are living in end times. So we must not waste time now.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


In the '70's and 80's, when the messages from motivational speakers was the hottest thing on the market, a professor at USC, Leo Buscaglia. emerged with an emphasis on teaching Love. No this was not the love written in the romance novels. This was loving and caring for each other. His popular class was Love 101. He recognized the importance of listening following the sudden suicide of one of his students. He emphasized the importance of genuinely caring about others, getting to know them and love being the root of our behavior. Had there been clues that everyone missed that resulted in the girl's suicide? Could it have been prevented?

The book of Titus reminds us of the importance of lifting others up. It emphasizes that we must be good examples to folks in all ages and stages of  life. We must teach others what scripture says is right. Jesus love and sacrifice is the root of our behavior. Because of him and the life he lived for us, we have a great example.

Older men, what are you teaching the younger men? Older women, what are you teaching the younger women? Church leaders, are you being responsible? It's all outlined in the 3 short chapters of this book. As Buscaglia emphasized, we must be loving and teach life. The book of Titus teaches us how, as followers of Christ, we are eager to live as examples of his love.

" For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is right." Titus 2: 11-14

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


There are days when things are just not going well. It seems that God is far away and has just gone on vacation as far as my needs are concerned. Usually this lasts more than just one day. Do you get discouraged? What do you do?

Hebrews is our faith book. It tells us, never give up, never give up. We are reminded (Chapt. 11) of that great cloud of witnesses, those prophets of old, who put their lives on the line to follow God's will for them. They believed the promise even when they did not experience the benefits of their faith. Their stories serve as encouragement.

Christian fellowship is another way we can overcome those times of discouragement when we feel like just giving up "being good" and are tempted by non-Christian behaviors. Our Christian friends are there for us to encourage us and spur us on to follow God's will. When we meet together, we are told to encourage each other toward love and good deeds. This is why I love attending Bible Studies and small group meetings like the Stephen Ministry meeting I attended last night. The encouragement from Christian friends is very refreshing and praying with others strengthens our love and friendship.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. " Hebrews 10:23-25

Where do  you go for encouragement? Are you an encourager? Even when my Christian encouragers challenged my thinking, I know their words speak the love of Christ.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Have you thanked God for your pastors and church leaders this morning? Have you thanked God  for the leaders of this country? Have you thanked God  for the leaders of the world? Have you prayed for the leaders of the company you work for. Have you thanked God  for your neighbors? Have you thanked God for your enemies?

Instead of complaining of the terrible job they are doing, how inept they are or the terrible way they are leading, have you considered praying for them first? I'm guilty of complaining and spreading the rumors of how inept they are. Shame on me. Yet, the Lord asks us to be thankful for those in authority and pray that they may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Perhaps our prayers will bring them to the Lord and they will be saved. Isn't this what we want, too?

" I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time." 2 Timothy 1:2-6

No one can please everyone. But with God's help we can pray that we become examples of Christ's peace to others. Look at Billy Graham and the effect he has had on world leaders. We certainly are not junior Billy Grahams, but he is a good human example  for us to see the results of intercessory prayer for leaders. Put politics and selfish opinions away and remember there is only one God and one mediator between God and man---Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Many years ago in a small town in Indiana, a new doctor opened his office. He had lots of certificates and diplomas on his walls and his patients all thrived, many being healed from diseases they had suffered with a long time. At the local hospital, he was considered the best surgeon the staff had ever worked with.

One day, after he'd been practicing about 12 years, patients arrived at the office to find it closed and totally emptied out. The local radio and TV stations began running stories about a man who had been practicing medicine without a license for almost 20 years and had been caught in their town. He had successfully fled from authorities in two other settings.
But his loyal patients thought this was a mistake and went to bat for him testifying what all he had done for them. He had earned the praise of the people, but not the praise of the medical authorities.

We've heard of false teachers and prophets, but false doctors? Yet, there are even people who are false Christians, even preachers. Like the false doctor they practice their falsehood and leave an impression before they are caught,  often causing spiritual harm to "real" Christians and turning non-believers away. Although Paul is speaking of Jews in this scripture, it seems to fit these false Christians as well:

"A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God." Romans 2:28-29

Lets all strive to be inward Christians, not just outward ones. Lets be believers and doers from the heart, by the Spirit, and not just actors and actresses performing around the altar. Although we can fool people by our language and actions, God knows if we are sincere or not. It is his praise that we want to earn, not the praise of people.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Just the explanation of how to do something was never the best way for me to learn a skill. I have always learned better by hearing it, seeing it AND doing it....all three. You see, I am a visual learner. I learn by seeing and doing, not by just hearing. We all have our own best way to learn, but the more of our senses that we use, the easier it is to remember.

When sitting in a lecture or sermon, I only remember about half of the information. Taking notes is helpful because I am doing something with the knowledge and processing it. But if I figure out a way to put it into practice, I will retain it for a much longer time. So for those of us who seem to have difficulty with learning scripture and forgetting lessons, putting the message into practice will be helpful.

It's that way with self examination, too. We need to look deeper than the surface...what is revealed on the outside. We need to dig into scripture and prayer and actually exercise or do what it says.

" Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." James 1: 24-25

We mustn't limit ourselves to just being hearers of the word. We must take the action step and be doers.
Then we will be blessed by doing.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


A friend was telling me about a job search she is doing. On the job description, there was a section that listed required education and skills and one that suggested secondary skills that would be helpful. She knew that if she could make it to the interview process that she could convince them she could do the job even though she was weak in two of the required skills.

Have you ever wondered if your spiritual resume was worthy of Christ's consideration? Are you weak in a few areas that he would require? Can you talk your way around these?

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God." Micah 6:8

Well, these requirements don't seem difficult. How are you measuring up?

Friday, March 14, 2014


 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

I have pondered the question of what it means to be like Christ. In this verse, Paul says that he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him, therefore   he lives by faith in Christ.

So, it seems the beginning of the answer to this question is to do some spring house cleaning. What is tucked away in the corners of my heart that keeps Christ's love out? What behaviors have I taken back from before I invited Christ in. Why am I storing trash that takes up space that Christ could be using to change me so I can be more like him? What negative, unChristlike messages am I holding on to that could be replaced by scripture?

Lent is a time to find more space for Christ in our lives. It's a time to let go of "stuff" that keeps us from letting Christ live in us. In order to take more in, we have to let go of ideas, attitudes and behaviors that are cluttering our hearts and minds. When will you begin your cleaning for Christ? What corner might you clean out today?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Blessing of Peace

I was rudely interrupted while trying to explain a concept. I guess the look on my face betrayed what I was thinking. My friend whispered to me, "Pray for her." As soon as I began silently to pray for her I became less agitated and more relaxed. I prayed first for forgiveness from the Lord and then for me to be more compassionate and forgiving of the person and for the Lord to bless her..

"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3: 8--9

As I continued to observe the rude woman's countenance and behavior, it was obvious that she was experiencing a difficulty. I didn't need to know what the problem was, it was in the Lord's hands. I thanked my friend for reminding me that we are not to be revengeful of another's behavior. Jesus came to us so we would have peace. As members of his body, the church universal, we are to repay unpleasantness in others with a blessing. Silent blessings can be lifted as prayers at any time. And usually the blessing comes back to us, as it did to me, in the form of peace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

God's Gift of Forgiveness

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:1-5

Remember those dead days? It may not have dawned on you how disobedient you were. I know I was stupid and did things I regret. But be cause of God's great love for me, his mercy and grace, those days are gone and totally forgiven. I have to ask him daily to help me resist the temptations to go back.

I believe it was easier for him to forgive me than it was for me to forgive myself. I enjoy the feeling of being alive in Christ so much more than the other way. But it took me awhile to realize I was deserving of God's grace. We all meet folks who are in this situation. They've done wrong! But they don't want to live that way anymore. Reach out your hand and your heart in love. Share your story and tell them they are loved. Walk beside them and encourage them to see God's loving forgiveness is directed to them. It's time to humble ourselves so others can know what it is like to be alive in Christ. It's his gift to us.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Think of a time when you were deceived. Who deceived you? What happened? We have all met with someone who was so convincing that they actually tried to or did change our mind about something we felt strongly about. What were the consequences?
Deceived in a relationship is perhaps one of the most heart breaking and one that it takes awhile to recover from. In college there was a thing called "late dating". A guy would date you, bring you back to the dorm at the right time, then go out with someone who had a later curfew. I was convinced I'd found the love of my life only to discover from overhearing some upper class women talking that he, a real charmer, was also seeing someone and had given her an engagement ring. I was crushed.
Then there was the dishonest investor who wanted to sell me gold and silver. It was a scam plane and simple but he made it sound like I was going to become a millionaire. Something just didn't feel right, although a lot of my friends bought into this. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit gave me a nudge and brought in a person from my church who clued me in on the danger. A couple of years later I found that the investor, a real charmer, was serving a sentence.
The deceiver is described throughout scripture. His story doesn't end in the Garden. This was only the beginning and he becomes more crafty with each generation:
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Listen carefully to scripture and to discernment from the Holy Spirit. Pray before accepting what may seem questionable. Pray through relationships and business dealing. Ask God to protect you from the deceiver in all you think and do.
This is another lenten reflect on the work of the deceiver in your life, what happened and how can you prevent him from getting hold on you. Pray for your family and friends that they are not deceived. Like in the Garden, God is the one who planted the tree and is the one to seek in what is right and wrong. The deceiver still stalks us like a hungry tiger. Don't be caught in the BIG DECEPTION.

Sunday, March 9, 2014



I think of the miles Jesus and the Disciples, Paul and the Apostles walked through sand to spread the Word. In the desert the temperature of the sand rises with the heat. Their sandals did not keep the hot sand off their feet very well. The whole idea sounds very uncomfortable. We just hop in our cars and drive to where we want to go, usually in air controlled comfort.

We know that walking is good for our health. It's great for all of our organs when done correctly and is a blessing for our mental health as well. Walking can serve as a time for prayer and meditation, experiencing God's wisdom in his world. I can received a lot of inspiration from a walk. But like our cars, we have gadgets in our homes now for walking and riding so we don't have to get outside. The conveniences save us time, but are they always good for us?

"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want." Galatians 5:16-17

Do we use our "tools" that save us time in the right way or do we use extra time in unhealthy or unwise pursuits? Lent is a time to consider how we can use our time wisely in service to the Lord and our neighbors. Today is a day set aside for most of us as a worship day. Taking a spiritual walk would be a good way to meditate and evaluate where we are going in our spiritual journey. Who knows, SPIRITUAL WALKS might become a daily habit.

Saturday, March 8, 2014



My high school Geometry teacher was the wisest woman I knew. She even had a face that reminded me of an owl. "Be sure your sins will find you out," was her favorite saying. She hated cheating. Every statement had to be proven. She was a taskmaster. So to me at that time, wisdom came from knowledge and I had to prove it.

But then I read the following, and other verses implying that wisdom was from God, not just books and theorems and proving the solution to problems.

"How can a young person live a clean life?
    By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
    don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
    so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
    train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
    all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
    than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
    I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
    I won’t forget a word of it." Ps 119:1-9

Instead of standing up in front of a class scribbling rules on a blackboard, I look into the Bible for facts and promises. I take these into my heart and then apply them in my life. My proof comes from the blessings I receive, not what I say.

Lent provides me encouragement to spend more time reading and applying scripture into my life. As I focus on God's love for me through his Son, I gain more confidence in seeking his will and believing he will help me to follow it. Just a few extra minutes each day helps me find and focus on words that I need to know and put into practice. I truly desire wise living which comes from keeping God's word in my heart and then taking the action Jesus guides me to. Even though I sin....or fall short of the goal......Jesus died so I could have life abundant. Wisdom is from him.

Friday, March 7, 2014


 "Time Out's" are not very popular with children, but for adults the are very helpful before beginning a new project. Spending time in thought and reflection taps into new ideas and solutions when trying to solve a problem. Doing a "dress review" of teaching a lesson or making a presentation can identify areas that need to be refined. There are many ways that time out's can be refreshing times and help us to perform a task better than just rushing into it.

Before I learned the blessing of stepping back to gather my thoughts before taking action, I would trudge forth into oblivion, usually awkwardly tripping over my feet, falling flat on my face or putting my foot into my mouth and gagging on my thoughts. Prophets, disciples and even Jesus also learned the importance of withdrawing to gain the necessary perspective on what needed to take place next. Some also discovered that if they didn't do this on their own, then perhaps the Lord did it for them to insure they were listening to his commands.

"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." Deuteronomy 8:2

Lent provides 40 days in which we can work on our humility and obedience to better know and keep God's commands. He has called us to ministry and service. What is it? We humble ourselves when we come before the lord. We humble ourselves when we are waiting for his answer. What have you decided to give up to give you more opportunity and time to focus on the Lord's desires for your time?

Sacrificing a candy bar, taking one day out of the week to fast, or saving all your change each day to donate are not much of a sacrifice in view of the Lord's sacrifice of our Savior's life for our sins. Taking time to reflect on the meaning to you of Christ and his life is as important time as that TV show you are missing or watching a DVD. Rehearsing for a class you will teach during Lent is time well spent when you want to get your point across as succinctly and positively as you can. And just being quiet so you can feel his breath and hear his whisper as the Lord helps you to understand what he wants from you.

This is "Why Lent". So you can deepen your relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So you can gather information and strength for your next step in your Christian life and faith. So you can better meet Jesus at the Cross. So you can celebrate renewal and new life at the Resurrection. Appreciate all the opportunity afforded you in your Lenten Time Out. Praise be to God!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Obedience through Humility


These words remind me of teaching my own children the lesson of obedience. On the way to the punishment room (time out) they became very humble, begging for forgiveness and making promises for repentance with tears streaming down their face. It was quite a scene. Usually the drama did not match the offense and frequently I had to hide my face to keep from laughing. The scene last night as we gathered to receive our ashes in penance was a bit different, though a few tears did flow.

 As folks knelt at the altar while  Pastors Phil and Kyle placed ashes on our foreheads last night, we were reminded of the sacrifice Jesus would make on our behalf. Are we deserving of it. Indeed not? The son of the God of the universe, of all there is to have and to own, would sacrifice his life for ours.?That's absurd. What have I done to deserve this? Tell me, please. They say I just have to accept his love for me.

A humbling experience. You bet. Kneeling at the cross and having ashes placed on our foreheads was humbling indeed. But being reminded that I "came from dust and to dust I shall return" definitely reminded me of how fleeting our humanity and all we accomplish is. It doesn't help to puff ourselves up or think too highly of ourselves when we consider ourselves nothing but a pile of dust.

Ash Wednesday and Lent seem to me to be lessons in humility. Giving up something we love to focus on the Lord and being humble is a way of obeying Jesus' message. I love these verses from Philippians that remind us of the importance of humility in all of our relationships, especially our relationship with the Lord.

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8