5/17/24 – Talent

It thrills me to see my piano students on display. Their hard work and determination to learn, memorize, and play their selected pieces with an artist’s flair will be rewarded this weekend. But what happens next? Some will stick with it and some won’t. A few will become pianists at their churches and other venues; some will go on to college to study something completely different, and some may join the workforce without seeking additional education. But they all have one thing in common. They all have talent. God gave each of us a gift, and maybe it isn’t music but some other ability. The question is: What will become of yours? (Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15; Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24)

5/16/24 – Worry

As believers, as children of God who have, by faith, professed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, if we acknowledge His sovereignty, and if He is the Lord of our lives, then why worry about anything? Anything at all? If we believe He made all things, knows all things, and is in control of all things, how do we benefit by worrying? Don’t think for one minute that I don’t worry. I still second-guess my decisions at times, but on the worry meter, my score is much lower these days. Why? Because I’ve have surrendered. I’ve given up my rights to myself. In this sometimes painful transfer, there’s a sense of freedom. When you and I decide to step out of the ring, to throw in the towel, to raise our white flag and let Him lead, His wants and desires gradually become ours. Go ahead; breathe that sigh of relief knowing that He’s in charge now. (I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20; And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10)

5/15/24 – Beginnings

When things finish up, are cut off, and done, sadness and hurt can fill our days depending on the situation. An ending happened to me just this morning at the Secretary of State. My friend and I were standing in line together waiting to end something in order to begin something else when we began reminiscing about my father’s new beginning 40 years ago. After he’d taken his last breath on earth, his heavenly beginning started. And with his new beginning, my mom and I suddenly had a new beginning of our own. Through the tears and heartache of that dreaded ending, it was reassuring to know that, even though we couldn’t feel it or see it in the distance, God was providing a beginning of something else. And He did! So today, instead of focusing so much on what ends, try to focus more on what begins. The very thought of a new beginning brings a smile to my face. Are you smiling too? (Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19; But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31)

5/14/24 – Predictions

I’ve all but given up on these folks floating around social media platforms making their economic, social, and apocalyptic predictions. Granted, some channels are intriguing, but eating a steady diet of end times fear and intimidation will leave you starving for normalcy. “Get your money out of the bank before this weekend’s big collapse of the banking system!” “Stock up on food and water before it’s all gone.” “Repent now, because Jesus is coming back in 2024.” As of today, my bank is still standing, my stomach is full, and I’m still here 6 months in. I’m not recommending that we escape to the nearest sand dune like the ostrich but only that we ready ourselves by sticking our heads in the pages of Bible. That’s the only way to know the absolute truth of the situation at hand. (“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36; And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. Matthew 24:11)

5/13/24 – Mother

Another Mother’s Day is in the books, and ironically, the whole thing can be a bit stressful. (Thanks a lot, Hallmark…) It’s all the wondering: What gift will I buy for my mother? Does my card say enough? Are we celebrating? Where are we celebrating? Do I need to do anything or bring anything? Does anybody really care? And what about those whose mother has passed on? Even as I compose this entry my heart is palpitating as I remember the days leading up to Mother’s Day. Why all the anxiety? It’s rather simple, really. Because as a mother, I want to matter. I want to be appreciated. I want some praise and thanks now and then, don’t you? Because it’s the innate desire of every human to receive praise and thanks, think how much more our Heavenly Father Who made us in the likeness of Himself desires our praise and thanks after all He’s done for us! (Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:3-4) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36)

5/11/24 – Show

The Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, a phenomena in the heavens that produces a spectacular show of swirling lights across the atmosphere, were on display. It’s rare to see these pink, purple, and green curtains of pale light dancing in the sky where I live, but last night, wow! Had my daughter not called around 10 urging me to get outside and view the magnificent show, I’d have missed it. Cosmologists and their celestial observations alongside social media influencers with their apocalyptic prophesies were explaining the reasons for this rare solar storm. While those facts are indeed interesting, I think I’ll save my time and money and continue trusting the Father of Lights, as it can cost a whole lot more than a penny for the thoughts of a human. Reading God’s word will keep me grounded, in line, and focused on Him. Since He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, He’ll always receive the Best in Show award from me. (Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17; And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years…Genesis 1:14)

5/10/24 – Children

All children are precious in the sight of the Lord. My granddaughters are with me this weekend, and if I’m not careful, I can expect too much. I must remember that they are still children. I have boundaries for them, and they love it, actually. Children need to know what’s expected and most are aimed to please. But there’s usually one child in the midst of 99 good ones who insists on being contrary or who lacks control and discernment in the worst way. Be patient with these little ones. Teach them biblical principles. Take them to church regularly. Let them know what’s expected. Use discipline when necessary. Love them to pieces, and pray like crazy. (“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4; Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6)

5/8/24 – Timing

We have alarms and timers for a reason. We’d rather be prompt than late to an interview. We’d rather exercise for 20 minutes rather than hyperventilate after 30. We appreciate a warning before the tornado destroys our home. We are thankful for a metronome click prior to the start of the music. Without these prompts, we can end up late, tired, homeless, or behind. It’s too bad however, that we can’t depend on them in every situation. Maybe you’re unsure whether the church across town is right for you. Do you wonder if you should purchase that couch now or later? Is it time to cut the string on a relationship? If you are a Christ-follower, you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who, at any time, may give you a nudge, a thought, a warning, or a command to do something. Are you sensitive to His voice? After all, timing is everything. (May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13; Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26)

5/7/24 – Suffering

A dear friend, who at one time, was strong, adventurous, and always eager to lend a helping hand, now suffers from a severely debilitating, non-curable disease. He needed a ride to church the other day, as he can no longer drive. Adding fuel to the flame, I can no longer fetch him by myself; it takes someone much stronger than I am to lift him into the car. As I stand by and watch the arduous and precarious process, I wonder. How could God allow such a terrible illness to cripple someone who has given so much time and talent to the church? We may contemplate the idea that this man must have a sordid past, that the contraction of this disease must be some sort of punishment. Our misunderstanding coupled with our compassion for the sick and afflicted, leaves us puzzled and deeply troubled. But in these extremely weak moments, it does us good to remember what Jesus said. (In this world we will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world. John 16:33; For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18)

5/6/24 – Ruts

I often wonder why folks living in more rural areas prefer their roads to remain unpaved. With the interstates so clogged with construction crews, it is advisable for we suburbanites to take the back roads. Well, the best routes in my neck of the woods are unpaved, but they’re so filled with ruts, bumps, and potholes that it often takes longer, causes nausea, and the price of a car wash and an alignment afterward is astronomical. Can someone please tell me: Why aren’t all the roads paved? It’s 2024! Our lives can often resemble the ruts in an unpaved road. We remain unchanged because it’s familiar. It’s private. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable, until it’s not. If your ruts are beginning to drive you nuts, at least you realize it. That’s the first step. (Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19; Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”John 5:8)

5/5/24 – Voice

Social media and the WWW, has just about everybody talking these days. In previous decades, it was difficult to make your voice heard unless you were a demonstrator screaming at the top of your lungs at some protest rally or a zealous fan at a rock concert. But thanks (or no thanks) to YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, along with countless other forms of social media, any living human can make his voice heard whether he has something important to say or not. How about you? What do you have to say and how do you choose to say it? Some prefer to stick with the tried and true pen-to-paper, face-to-face, or ear-to-ear communication methods. But none of those behaviors really matter if you plead the fifth. (Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! Psalm 96:3; For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:13-14)

5/3/24 – Watering

Have you watered the seeds you sowed a few weeks ago? Seed-watering isn’t my favorite task. Filling up the jug of water and lugging it to the basement where my little darlings are camping out is, first, time consuming and second, it’s worrisome; for watering too much or too little is a delicate matter. But I went to all the trouble of sowing, so to leave the tender shoots in the dark unattended is a waste. I’m right here. Why pass the task on to someone else? A few weeks ago, I planted a seed in the parking lot of the school at which I teach. That student came for a lesson again last night. As we were scanning the new song and reading the lyrics of, On Top of Old Smoky (she’s a beginner), she commented on how true the lyrics are, as they struck a nerve in her. I used that opportunity to do some watering. The time it takes to sprinkle a few drops of water on the tiny seedling I planted in early spring could mean a bucket load of delicious fruit at harvest time. Continue investing in your seeds by keeping a watchful eye, and water those babies yourself. (In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16; The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6)

4/29/24 – Relax

If we don’t relax and deal with the stress caused by our busy schedules, our disobedient children, our failing relationships, our aging parents, or any other problems that steal our joy, we might as well check ourselves into the ER, because that’s where we’re headed. The Lord never meant for us to be anxious or worried about anything; we are to pray and then to leave it in His capable hands. It’s one of the hardest things to do and it all begins in the mind. Our minds should be full of pure, lovely, good, and honest thoughts. Where do we get some of these beautiful thoughts when all we seem to be hearing and seeing is ugly? The Bible has everything you need to lead a healthy, fulfilled life. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy or read it free of charge online. It’s at least, a start. (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. Philippians 4: 8-9; And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7)

4/28/24 – Baggage

It’s a little ironic that packing for a vacation causes a lot of stress for me. First of all, the suitcase is usually too heavy because I’ve packed too much. And if it tips the scales at the ticket counter, I’ll have to remove stuff. I learned this the hard way as mine weighed in at 2.2 pounds over the limit. The convenient compression straps that allowed me to stuff more were my enemy. I’m glad my friend hadn’t over-packed. I received an email this morning from a girl at my church asking for volunteers to bring a suitcase to carry across the stage, as the pastor will illustrate how we don’t let go of the baggage in our lives. Notice I said, don’t and not can’t. It’s a choice, really. Some of us have become accustomed to our load, whether it’s an ugly habit hidden underneath the fabric hiding the roller bars, an inside pocket full of unforgiveness, or the outer compartment stuffed with regret; No matter how tight our compression straps, it still weighs the same. Might it be time to find a dumpster before having to schedule a visit to the chiropractor? (Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30; As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12)

4/27/24 – Interpretation

There are many interpretations of published books and writings out there; I’m currently reading a book that, without the notes, the author’s full intent will be slighted. Unless I have a personal chat (not likely, as he has been dead for centuries), there’s no way to know everything he meant. To illustrate, we wonder what the boss’s email really meant. Effective immediately: Offices will be closed on Fridays beginning July 1. Or, a reminder from personnel: No spaghetti strap tops for women. Now, those two statements seem fairly cut and dried, but there is likely to be at least one person who’ll have questions. Does that mean we work from home on Fridays, or do we get that day off? Would linguini straps be acceptable? We want clarification lest we make a mistake. The book with the most interpretations is the Bible. People all over the world have put in their two cents discussing, among other things, the big question: Is it a sin to… I’ve got at least 2 commentaries on my shelf and have found them heavy (to carry) but helpful. If after reading and praying the answer remains unclear, trust the Holy Spirit’s still small voice. (And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:3; All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16)

4/26/24 – Grace

Grace is the gift of kindness presented to someone who doesn’t deserve it. When a person gives you a gift, instead of the punishment you deserve, that person is extending grace to you. Think of the neighbor who steals from another neighbor. Instead of receiving payment for what his neighbor stole, he extends grace to him by erasing the debt. What about the slander that blackened your good name? Rather than dragging the offender’s name through the mud in the same way he dragged yours, you forgive him. What we deserve and what we receive from the Lord are polar opposites. We deserve a death sentence but, instead, we are offered the free gift of eternal life (already given, by the way) if we’ll only accept it. That’s why His grace is so amazing. (For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9; For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8-9)

4/25/24 – Asking

A good friend, counselor, mentor, and co-worker of mine has said to me more than once; You don’t G-E-T unless you A-S-K. That’s not an entirely true statement because I’ve received without saying a word. But that’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m talking about the stress of asking for, let’s say, a raise or, on an entirely different plane, asking someone to babysit your kids for the weekend. I think of the disabled man Jesus met at the pool of Bethesda. He’d been lying there for 38 years trying to get into the healing waters of the pool but because of a disability, it never happened. Now, I don’t know if he ever asked for help, but if he had, I can’t imagine anyone turning a deaf ear. Jesus happened by one day and saw his plight. He walked up to the lame gentleman and asked, Do you want to get well? A brilliant, right to the point, no nonsense question that would change the course of the man’s life. Then, a funny line from the motion picture, Gone With the Wind popped into my head, Askin’ ain’t gettin’. But really, asking could mean getting, couldn’t it? Sure; initially, it might hurt to ask, but you won’t die from it. (Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3; But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6)

4/22/24 – Support

A structure cannot stand without adequate support. I think of the buildings going up in my county. After their foundations are laid, the structural supports are placed so the buildings won’t collapse under their own weight. A grandparent of a good friend has just been placed in hospice care. Another friend’s child is going through a bitter divorce. My accountant’s daughter was in a terrible snowboarding accident and is recovering in a rehab facility and wondering if she’ll ever walk again. Another friend has constant, unbearable pain from brain tumor surgery. Like the concrete walls, these hurting people need support, be it a listening ear, a meal, or some sort of financial help. But the best thing you can offer is prayer, to the One Who can make the healing a reality. All those other means of support are thoughtful add-ons. (Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24; And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14)

4/17/24 – Seeds

I struggle to keep afloat in the deep end of the procrastination pool again; I should’ve already planted my seeds in the seed-starters which I haven’t yet prepared. If she knew, I’d be an utter disgrace to my friend whose backyard garden is already flourishing, and it isn’t even May. If I wait too much longer, I’ll be harvesting my mature, frost-bitten fruit just in time for Thanksgiving. Yuk. Have you planted your seeds yet? I managed to plant only one; just last night in the parking lot of the academy where I teach. At the end the night, an adult student mentioned that her significant relationship had ended. Turns out, he’s an alcoholic and was only in it for himself. To me, it is a good thing, but still, her fragile heart is broken. Because she is not religious, I am always looking for any opportunity to speak to her about the Lord. I had previously invited her to my church for a Christmas program to which she replied, “I hate Christmas.” So when I told her I would pray for her, I had no idea what reaction I’d receive. But she thanked me, cried a little, and gave me a hug before getting in her car to return home. A tiny seed was planted right there on the cracked asphalt. I will continue to water it week after week and see what the Lord does. (Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Luke 8;11; For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…Romans 1:16)

4/11/24 – Hype

In 2020, I got prepared by buying extra food, water, and other essentials that could carry me through should something disastrous occur. Who knew those days and months would turn into years? Thankfully, my rice hasn’t expired yet. In other news, I continue my reading of The 4th Turning (just so I could say I completed it), a book written in the 90’s that sheds light on the past and offers insight on the future with persuasive thoughts on prophesy (American, not Biblical) with stunning accuracy. It’s a heavy read, but interesting, should you have the notion to pick up a copy. It’s concerning that a person can get caught in the spin cycle of all the social media hype regarding the future. We can easily be drawn in by the BREAKING NEWS hooks the social media influencers offer. But the One who holds the future is not on social media unless someone has accurately recorded His words from scripture. His error-free prophecies are carefully woven throughout His word. We can certainly get prepared for what’s ahead, but unless we read and study the Bible, we can’t know for sure what’s down the pike. (Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21; Come now, you who say,”Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit,” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. James 4:13-14)

4/4/24 – Anticipation

There’s an art to waiting, whether you choose to do something else in the meantime or whether you sit and anxiously twiddling your thumbs in your favorite chair. The way you wait says something about you. For what are you waiting? A medical report? Your plumber? Your tax refund? The next solar eclipse? My advice is to pray, have faith, and then think about something else. David, in chapter 27 of the book of Psalms, made his plea for extreme help, the kind on which his life depended, and then he believed. Did that mean his troubles were over? No. But while he waited in faith believing, God renewed his strength. When we place our cares into the loving hands of our Lord, we can breathe deeply and settle in. (But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31; Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14)

4/2/24 – Easy

Should you or shouldn’t you? Decisions. We make scads of them everyday. But taking the scenic route instead of the freeway to work doesn’t quite qualify here. Oh, doesn’t it? If you believe in the sovereignty of God (which is a topic for another day), it shouldn’t be that hard. Ha. I’m afraid I haven’t yet mastered the fine art of wise decision-making. After all, one wrong move can alter a person’s life forever! There’s nothing easy about teetering on the edge of right and wrong, good and bad. But really, if we’re following the Lord on a daily basis, reading His word and praying incessantly, we shouldn’t have to teeter. There shouldn’t be an edge. (The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9; Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5)

4/1/24 – Sail

When you don’t know for sure, it’s hard to move forward. But sometimes, taking a step into the unknown is required to get the ship out of the port. I mean, Do you want to sail or not? I knew the wife of a boat owner who would spend weekends on the boat (in port) refusing to get out on the water. I’ve seen countless boat owners clean and mop the deck of their vessels knowing that their chances of removing the slip and actually sailing off were slim. We bought the boat and we want to sail, but we don’t. Our beautiful ship is no match for the anchor of excuses weighing us down: It’s too much work. It takes too much time. Gas is too expensive and the weather isn’t great. Besides; it can be downright scary. What fun is that? (Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19; I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8)

3/29/24 – Lack

Many people verbalize that which they lack, and let’s face it; we’re always lacking something. There’s never enough praise, profit, or peace in our lives. But what we’re really lacking is wisdom. The one thing that will get us what we need and what we want is wisdom. Think of Solomon in the Bible. The thing that mattered most to him was wisdom, so He asked the Lord for it. And guess what? He received it and quite a glorious amount of it. He was considered the wisest man in Israel. The acquisition of wisdom will bring all the other things you need, discernment, insight, and understanding. Wisdom is the basis from which everything that really matters in life stems. If you don’t have that, you really don’t have anything of value. Ask the Lord for it and see what happens. (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5; How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16)

2/15/24 – Well

We all want a happy ending, don’t we? We all delight in a fairytale, and not necessarily the ones on the Hallmark Channel, if you know what I mean. I think of the main characters in some of Dickens’ classic novels, who, trudging through the mud and mire, finally secure their rags to riches successes. Maybe you’ve reached that pinnacle, that happy ending. You are with the one you love, and desiring nothing else, feel all is well with the world. Until it isn’t. Folks, things aren’t really well with the world as I write this blogpost. Go ahead with your glitz and glamour; live the life you’re living now, because in time, like the classic line in Titanic, …all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic. The people living the good life on that ship had no idea what would become them as they stepped on it that fateful day, April 15, 1912. The great thing is that we, as born again Christians know what’s ahead. We can prepare for it. Get ready. It will happen. (And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6; And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14)