8/7/23 – Jeopardy

I just booked an expensive week-long trip, and I’m leaving in 5 days. I would say that spontaneity drives me. I have to be careful though. After making a significant decision like this, I usually second-guess myself as I’m doing right now. My blood pressure is probably high, my heart rate is faster, and my stomach is in knots. Do you suffer like this as well? I suppose it’s due to a lack of confidence in my abilities that I put my finances in jeopardy. There are so many what-ifs. What if I don’t like it? What if the plane is delayed? What if I become ill? I’m somewhat of a risk-taker, but it shouldn’t be this difficult, should it? But when I think of the thousands of dollars that are invested, I suppose it should be difficult. I do have the right to cancel, as it’s only been a few hours since I made the arrangements. I’m waiting on a few items. Waiting. Ironic, isn’t it? But if I was honest, it’s because I can’t make a decision too far in advance that I end up waiting until the last minute. On the other hand, sometimes it’s a good thing to wait before diving in, to give it time, to reason it out. One thing, however, that shouldn’t wait is the affirmative decision to become a Christ-follower. Putting your eternity in jeopardy by waiting, now, that’s a risk nobody should take. (From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17; You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40)

7/18/23 – Unfinished

Do you have some unfinished business? Is a lost relationship robbing you of peace? Are you lying dormant in your current job? Do your children seem to be moving in the wrong direction? Maybe you have an outstanding debt that needs to be paid. Is an elderly parent or sick spouse draining all of your energy? Maybe you have an incurable disease. Is there something you need to close out once and for all? Are there loose ends to tie up? Is there something that needs to be said or done? Is there a behavior that needs to be cut off at its root and thrown into the fire? Only you, my friend, can do it. The Lord can walk with you and hold your hand, but whatever it is, you must say it; do it. Yourself. Time is getting away. Pray for wisdom, understanding, discernment, and insight. Pray with vigor for these things. Cry out. Plead. Claim His promise to help you. (I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 122:1-2; Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10)

6/14/23 – Pray

Has someone asked you to pray about something? Did you agree to pray? Did you remember to pray? Unless you’ve been labeled a prayer warrior by your peers, it’s not easy, this prayer thing. We get busy, don’t we? We get caught up in other matters, and if we don’t set a reminder, we forget. When we finally do remember, the event has often passed and no longer needs our attention. And then, we feel guilty for not having followed through. We had no hand in the healing. We had no role in the resolution. We felt uncomfortable having heard the prayer had been answered. And why shouldn’t we? We didn’t pray. Not one word. Have you been there? I have. It’s a dangerous world out there, and we need to be better. People need our prayers. We need the prayers of others. Maybe we don’t pray because it rarely resolves in the way we desire. Or, perhaps we don’t really believe in its power. What’s your excuse? (Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16; You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13)

6/1/23 – Much

I love you so much. I don’t know how much more I can take. There’s so much to say. The word, much: an outpouring, an overflowing, like the water gushing over the falls at Niagara, it must go somewhere or burst. As the water at Niagara, the heart sometimes has so much love that it cannot contain it. Thus, the excessive tears flowing from extreme happiness or tragedy or the laughter, rapid pulse, and racing heartbeat upon approach of that first drop on the rollercoaster. Hearing joyous or unpleasant news day after day, we cannot simply sit there unaffected. It’s just too much. How much is too much varies from person to person and depends on the body’s ability to handle whatever comes along. When there’s too much of a good or bad thing, something has to give. How will you handle it? (Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13; Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8)

5/15/23 – Mothers

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. You mothers out there; did you feel celebrated? Loved? Admired? It’s a hard thing we’ve done and continue to do, right? The worst thing is that we don’t always get it right; however, the best thing is that we were chosen. We’ll never stop being someone’s mother. Our children will always need us at whatever age we are, at whatever age they are. It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? The way we mother when perhaps it’s unnecessary is an innate capacity we all share at the moment our offspring is conceived until it’s buried in its grave. The Lord is so wise, so creative. Like it or not, we’re in it for the long haul. (Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:25-26; Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6)

5/9/23 – King

The king’s coronation on Saturday was a delectable spectacle of royal pageantry slathered in all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from those proud Brits residing across the pond. As I watched some of the ceremony snippets, I couldn’t help but imagine how much more magnificent to be in heaven as Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords welcomes his followers home. The Creator of the entire universe in all His glory will be standing in front of me and will hopefully speak the words, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Let me be worthy of those words, Lord Jesus, in whatever language I will understand. (On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16; But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33)

5/2/23 – Review

I was recently asked to write a review of the accommodations at a property I visited. In order for the owner to see the truth and to make positive changes, I had to bare my soul about the place. While I don’t enjoy barking about the empty paper towel roll or the rock-hard mattress, the guy’s going to lose money if he isn’t made aware. Most of us don’t like to hear the truth about ourselves because it hurts to be told that we’re impatient or rude even though we probably already know it. As a born and bred people-pleaser, I like to make things as easy as possible for others, so submitting a negative comment or review is hard for me. But really, it all comes down to pride. My pride. Because I want people to like me, I seek to please. See where it suddenly becomes all about me and how I feel? Telling and receiving the truth isn’t always easy, but it is profitable in the long run. (Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17; Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. Proverbs 15:32)

4/18/23 – Intelligence

There are some really smart people in this world. Our eyes bulge and our heads shake when they speak. We say, Wait, waitwhat? You’re likely thinking of someone, in or out of your circle, someone who’s at the top of the list. It might even be you! I was watching an interview of such a person just last night. Ironically, the wisest people, those who receive their wisdom at birth, don’t believe that someone bigger or wiser bestowed that gift upon them. They don’t believe it because they can’t see. Because they can’t prove it and can’t make sense of it, it cannot be true; thus, the atheist is born. To me, it’s the saddest story ever told. The devil has used the sin of pride that will crumble them in the end. You watch. (Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18; Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12)

4/17/23 – Bothered

If we’re bothered by the daily news feeds, we can simply take a deep breath. It’s a start. I recall a situation in the New Testament of the Bible when Martha, Mary and Lazarus’s sister, was distracted by her self-induced workload. She missed a beautiful experience with the King of Kings by choosing to be bothered by the unimportant. The news media and all its fuss is nothing more than a daily dose of distraction to pull us away from what’s really important. All the events happening in our world today were prophesied many years ago. God is surprised by none of it, as He controls it. If we believe Him, we can bathe in His peace, and then experience the comfort and relaxation He offers in these end times. (But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 40-42; Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27)

4/9/23 – Unsee

We can’t unsee. Once our eyes and brains have captured the unwanted image, it’s stored and ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice. No matter how hard we try to erase it, it remains lodged. We can attempt to replace it with other, more pleasing and positive thoughts, but it will creep in again at some point. Unless we call upon our Heavenly Father to mercifully help us deal with the seen, it’s virtually impossible to save ourselves from its continued effects. The devil is the author of such set-ups and celebrates his successes. Beat him at his own game by refraining from that which is toxic to the mind desiring to be at peace. (“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6: 22-23; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. Psalm 101:3)

4/9/23 – Hallelujah

Hallelujah! Christ has risen! No news is better than this. In all we know, there is nothing more valuable, not rubies, diamonds, or gold, than the gift of knowing we will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. Praise Him for this most wondrous offering! Like a plant’s root that has been grafted into another to grow as one, so we, as Gentiles, have the privilege to grow together with Israel, God’s chosen people. Like the children of Israel, we also, as Christ-followers, have the hope that one day, we will see Him as He is, and He will take us to our eternal home to live with Him forever. (But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5-6; For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree. Romans 11:24)

4/8/23 – Comfort

As Christ-followers, we are not to be biting our nails and fretting about anything. Anticipating the antichrist’s appearance, the collapse of the financial system, the breakout of WW3, or the apocalypse is just what the devil wants. If he can move our attention to these joy-stealers instead of what really matters, the spreading of the gospel message to as many people as possible, he’s rubbing his palms together in deadly delight. As we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection tomorrow, let us reflect on the wonderful gift of salvation He offered to make our heavenly eternity possible, and then let us comfort one another. (After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Therefore, comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18)

4/4/23 – Interim

When people don’t respond in the timely manner in which we desire, symptoms of anxiety, feelings of fear, and sometimes, even anger can bring about insecurity build-up, depending on who it is. We, often times, don’t see the bigger picture when we’re standing at the high-jump line. Do we make that call? Do we send that email or text? Or, perhaps we lay low for a while. Let it be. The interim, however, can be excruciating. That’s when we turn to the Lord for our security. We pray and ask Him for wisdom, understanding, discernment, and insight into what’s really going on. We pray for peace in the vast unknown. That response we’re waiting for will break through the darkness at some point, and we will be ready for it. (If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6)

4/1/23 – Account

This week, I have been reading both Matthew and John’s account of Jesus’s last days on the earth. I have to think that the Holy Spirit led me down this path for a reason, as I’ve never done this before, subsequently reading the same story told by different people. I suppose the point I’m making is that these daily readings have been preparing me for next week’s celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, the basis of my faith. Today’s account will be that of Mark, the second of the four gospels. Each account has its differences and similarities, but all four gospel books exhibit the horrific nature of the crucifixion and the glorious discovery at the tomb three days later. Read at least one account, will you? Before Resurrection Sunday? I suggest that you begin with Matthew chapter 26 and see if leads you to read the others. (And saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:40; And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46)

3/31/23 – Cracks

The devil’s number one goal is to climb into the cracks in your head. If he manages to see any size, he’s in. The Kin Crack. Is your family more important to you than Jesus? The Career Crack. Is your job more important than Jesus? The Creed Crack. Is the religious act of following all the rules of your church more important than Jesus? The Country Crack. Is your patriotism more important than Jesus? The Contribution Crack. Is serving others by giving your time, talents, or money to an organization more important than Jesus? Don’t get vulnerable, folks. These cracks might be considered good cracks, but to the enemy, they’re even better. (Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2; Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8) 

3/18/23 – Fathom

If we understood, then we would do it, wouldn’t we? It’s because we don’t fully fathom God and His ways that we don’t obey Him or even consider Him during our day. We’re human, is our excuse. We can’t be like Him because we’re not Him. Granted; we are sinners, but must we sin? Is it possible, in all our humanness, to be obedient to our savior? I say it is possible, but it’s not common. Even Paul, the apostle, had weaknesses. He did things that he shouldn’t have done and didn’t do things he should’ve. That, I fathom. Communication with God is the most necessary when we are weak. But after we’re up to our necks in the quicksand and no longer strong enough to climb out, it’s a nearly impossible situation. Stay close to your Heavenly Father and see if your sinning subsides. (No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9; Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6)

3/15/23 – Swap

I’m about to swap my old bathroom faucet for a new, trendier model. In my research, I’m finding that I will not be totally satisfied attaching a new faucet to an old vanity, so the whole thing will need to go, vanity and all. Reminds me of the parable Jesus shared concerning the problems that ensue when new fabric is used to mend an old garment. Once we’re truly born again, our old, sinful habits need to go; otherwise, the new person cannot thrive. If he is not totally committed to Christ at the onset, the old behaviors, like the old tear in the garment, will likely become worse over time. (“No one sews a patch of new cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.” Matthew 9:16; For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13)

3/13/23 – Subsequent

What’s next? What will be the subsequent incident today? Up until this moment, most every day for the past 3 years has brought forth some new catastrophe. Everyone over the age of 12 is seeing it, hearing of it, or is experiencing a direct hit now. These are but the pains of birth, which Jesus spoke of in the New Testament. Like the final stage in the birthing process, uncomfortable, worldwide events will become more frequent and will increase in intensity. You may try hypnosis, acupuncture, or a warm bath to cope with the pain, but friends, the baby is coming. If you are a Christ-follower, you know. You aren’t surprised by anything on the ticker at the bottom of your screen because He already told you about it. You were privy to it. Still though, you are surprised. You are caught off-guard. Why? Why do our eyes bulge at these flashes of bad news? (And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. “But be on your guard. Mark 13:7-9;  Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28)

3/11/23 – Failure

The second largest bank in the US suddenly collapsed yesterday. Little rumors about its failure traveled through the bank’s grapevine like an ignited rope. Those California rains. They’re nothing compared to the flood of people running to rescue their fortunes from the burning building. The bank wasn’t really on fire, but the persons at the heart of this collapse might as well have doused it with fuel and lit a match. It’s hard to rebuild after a failure of this magnitude, mainly because trust has been broken. So, before making a bad decision and ending up like this poor, unfortunate bank, think. Think BEFORE you act. Get away from the devil who’s enticing you with pleasures lasting only a moment. Don’t be labeled a failure for a lifetime. (Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7; No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13)

3/10/23 – Idle

Funny how we heal. The moment the blow is received, we think we’ll never recover. But we do. Most of us do whatever it takes to walk, eat, think, or love again. Why? Because the Land of Idle is fertile ground for all sorts of mischief. It’s where unhealthy relationships are planted, risky behaviors are performed, and where rationale goes missing. This idle interim might be your perusing the menu at a greasy spoon, gazing at the shelves in a liquor store, or sitting in the parking lot of a strip club; it’s the fork in your road. If you land in Idle, consider your options, clear your head, pack your bags, and move along before it becomes home. The fog will lift as you head out. (Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8; Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16)

3/8/23 – Another

You’ve heard it again and again. You’ve probably said it once or twice yourself. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I hate negativity, but like Tourette’s; you just have to say it. Here we are, all sprawled out in our semi-free country enjoying all the comforts we can afford, receiving the semi-adequate medical attention we need, and lounging in our tub full of social media sludge. The American Dream Reboot. Do you like it? I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m in the minority who answers, no. It is here I must remember that this world is not my home; I’m just passing through. To say that I can work to save it is, according to the Bible, nonsense. There will eventually be a new one, so why put my energy into saving something that won’t be saved? Saving people, on the other hand? Now, that’s another story. (But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10; He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit… Titus 3:5)

3/7/23 – Accomplish

I struggle with this love thing a lot. Do you? It’s no secret; if you’ve been in touch with this blog, you’re not reading anything you don’t already know. I’ve cantered down the counseling road with pastors and licensed professionals and have taken odd forks that led me to examine, not the way I love others but the way others love me. Weirdly, I think I may have been lost in the woods. If I choose to love lavishly, truthfully, and wholeheartedly, everything else gently falls into place. I hear that the Spirit of God can accomplish that in people. Do you desire it as badly as I do, the capability of loving others more than you love yourself? Is it just me, or do you also get the feeling that there’s nothing either of us can do about it in our flesh except to pray and to obey God? Now, that, I can do. Can you? (Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23)

3/2/23 – Succeed

The Lord wants me to succeed. I’ve got a lot going on and He’s coaching me these days, giving me pep talks through His word and in my spirit. Why? Nothing gives Him more pleasure than seeing me do the right thing at the right time. I have to imagine Him smiling at me and hugging me when I help someone in need or when I talk about Him and what He has done for me. These are the lasting victories for which I long. Of course, an audible atta girl or a well done every now and then would be so nice, but don’t you hear it in your spirit when you’ve hit the mark? I don’t often succeed, but when I do, there’s nothing quite like hearing Hooray! from my Number-One Fan. What do you hear Him saying to you? (My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:1-4; …observe all that is recorded in it, for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8)

3/1/23 – Lenient

The act of being more merciful or tolerant than expected is the quoted definition of lenient in the Oxford dictionary. Lenient describes me to a fault. I put up with a lot of nonsense longer than most. Do you? There’s a fine line between being lenient and being a pushover. I suppose leniency is a positive trait but can also be a negative one depending on how lenient you are. If you’re a businessman, leniency will leave you penniless, but if you’re a murderer, it could save your life. Jesus said, Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. We all need it at times, don’t we? But the question is: How much is too much? (Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7; Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4)

2/28/23 – Wrath

I didn’t experience the wrath of my father, as it was never directed at me that I recall; however, I did see it, only my mother or some deranged driver was his usual target. His temper wasn’t always heated, but when it was, it could peak quicker than I could blink my eye. I think of the wrath of God, my Heavenly Father. I don’t believe His has reached the boiling point yet, but it has to be close. The book of the Revelation explains everything. It’s hard to believe He could be so angry, but it’s also hard to believe the behavior of His human creation! I’m certainly angry at what I see, and I only know what I know. He knows everything. Get ready. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet! (But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5; He also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:10)

2/27/23 – Tradition

How are you doing? It’s day 6 of the Catholic tradition of Lent, and many folks across the globe have decided to give up something near and dear until sundown on Holy Thursday (the day before Good Friday, or 3 days before Resurrection Sunday). Just curious: If you participate in this sacrificial season, what was your choice, and how is it going? Are you suffering yet? Did you repent of your sins, or is that something you do regardless, no matter the season? What is your focus now that you’re not eating doughnuts? Maybe you decided to give up nail biting, and instead, you’re praying for people. After this 40-day ritual is over, will you return to your normal habits or might you discover a new normal? After all, studies say that it only takes 21 days to form a habit (not the habit nuns wear, just to be clear). This is the goal, isn’t it? To become a better person? I wonder how many people actually change as a result of Lent. The results might be surprising. (In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:7-9; Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24)

2/25/23 – Lent

If I cannot love like Jesus loves, I cannot serve like He served. Trying is not it. I should not have to try. If my heart is right, the desire should be as natural as breathing. The 40 days before Easter is called Lent in the Catholic religion. People tethered to Catholicism are now in it for the long haul. Catholics are asked to go deeper with God by abstaining from something important for 40 days and to replace it with prayer and fasting. Now, certainly, I am not opposed to prayer and fasting, as I participate in both. I am not Catholic nor do I practice Lent. As a Christ-follower, I believe the time of sacrifice and repentance should be in operation 365 days and not simply the 40 days prior to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. But what I believe and what I do are two different things. (For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it…. the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17; Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15)

2/24/23 – Cannot

I’ll never be able to attain that. The love I have in my heart for Jesus Christ is nothing compared to the apostle, Paul’s love for Him. I don’t know if I can love anyone like that, seen or unseen. I can list excuse after excuse, but the truth is, I cannot love apart from the love Jesus puts inside me. Whether my upbringing is the culprit or whether my sin impedes it, my love for God is not overflowing like it should. Oh Lord, my prayer today is that You would show me how to love properly, the way You do. I know there is nothing You cannot do, but is that even a possibility for me? (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9; I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26) 

2/23/23 – Blessed

I am so grateful today. We had an enormous ice storm last night, and so many are without power. I, on the other hand, am blessed. The lights flickered a bit, went off for about 10 seconds, and then came back on. God is good. However, even when I am not experiencing peace, joy, and goodness, He is good. I am blessed with this good health (as I know it), warm shelter, food, and water. The weather is unpredictable, but God is constant. We can depend on it, even in the throes of darkness. (Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8; 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)

2/22/23 – Right

Do you think we were right? This question was posed by Lance Corporal, Harold W. Dawson to his attorney, Lieutenant, Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, the movie I’ve seen at least 10 times. Kaffee’s response was this: I think you’d lose. Dawson’s reply was so poignant. You’re such a coward. I can’t believe they let you wear a uniform. A few people in my circle have asked me a similar question. Do you think we’re right? Do you think that believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is right? I have lived almost my entire life believing, serving, and having faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Kaffee’s answer wasn’t meant to be hurtful; he simply didn’t want to give the lad false hope. Dawson only needed Kaffee’s belief and trust that he’d done what was right, whereas Kaffee needed proof. In the end, concerning Jesus Christ, will it only matter what you can prove? (Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29; And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6)

2/21/23 – Holes

When we feel we must prove our love to someone who cannot love for whatever reasons, that proof we offer often goes unseen and we are left feeling empty. The limitless meals we cook, shopping trips we take, or gifts we give are never enough. Their hole is too big, too deep. Then we must question our motives. Why do we keep on? When our strength is waning and our joints are failing, why are we still out there shoveling? Perhaps we have empty holes of our own. (Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7; Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13) 

2/20/23 – Hug

I had a dream about my dad last night. He seemed glad to see me. We embraced and cried a little. We weren’t in heaven but on earth. Not sure where exactly but perhaps an event, as he was dressed in a suit and I in a dress. He hadn’t aged, which leads me to believe this dream was only a gift in the night from my Heavenly Father, a nice surprise for a fleeting moment. It wasn’t a prediction of some future event to take place or a prophetic sign that I would soon be dying and entering heaven. It was only a gift, a supernatural hug from my loving, earthly father. Thank you, Heavenly Father. And thank you, dad, for the hug. Maybe somehow you knew I needed it. (For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…2 Corinthians 4:17; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3)

2/19/23 – Adamancy

If your mind’s made up, that’s it. Or is it? Are you a wobbler? Are you swayed by the wind and tossed about after making a decision? Are you second-guessing every other minute? After listing an item for sale, are you a pushover? Can the buyer easily persuade you to lower your price? I know it all depends. But in your life situations where much is riding on your ability to stand your ground, do you fight for what you want, or do you settle? Are you quick to give in, or do you battle it out? How set in stone are your beliefs, your convictions? Or are you wishy-washy depending on who’s asking? Jesus said, Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Adamancy is a difficult character trait to manufacture, but we can with practice. If you like the crunch of toasted bread, keep it away from the milk. (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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 1:5-6; All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37)

2/18/23 – Ending

When there’s an ending, remember; a beginning is on its way. A tiny seedling that was never planted can take root inside a pot of dirt. Soon, unbeknownst to us, we see the fruit of what actually happened down deep in the soil. When we choose to go, we find a new spot to stay. When we finish the project, a new one starts. When a disaster levels the land, stronger buildings emerge out of the ruins. Rarely does an ending produce nothing. In your ending, know that something new is beginning even though you may not see it now. God won’t allow His followers to flounder in their endings. If an ending has come knocking on your door, say hello, get to know it, and then kindly escort it out. Don’t let it become a squatter. (There is an appointed time for everything…A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4; Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6)

2/17/23 – Respect

It’s a matter of respect. We attend funerals, birthday parties, retirement parties, church services, vigils, and memorials out of respect for those offering the opportunity to physically remember or honor his or her loved one. There is usually no question of should I go? You go. You weep with those who weep, and you rejoice with those who rejoice. Do we weep? Do we rejoice? Or are we annoyed that an unfortunate event has bumped into our best-laid plans? Do we rejoice when our friend is honored for a job well done or when he inherits a large sum of money? Check your heart. See that no wicked or vile motive corrupts the most loving part of you. (“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12; Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3)

2/16/23 – Step

Life is hard. It’s good, but it’s hard. Sometimes all we need is a little push, someone to say, You need to do this, or Get moving. As a pianist, I’ve had many challenging songs to learn and only a few that were downright dreadful. Add the task of memorizing and performing them in front of thousands into the mix and I’ve suddenly morphed myself into a scene from Mission Impossible. The time will come when we must do the hard thing. The task seems impossible, but when we step out and play the song, then the Spirit of God will step in and lift us up. When we drive to our first meeting, then the Spirit of God will open the door. When we begin packing up, then the Spirit of God will do the heavy lifting. It’s When and Then. Now, get going. Step out and do the thing, and then watch what happens! (Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. Exodus 14:15-16; Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:8)

2/15/23 – Advocate

I’ve had only a few occasions where hiring an attorney or an advocate to fight my legal battles was necessary. Unfortunately, we can’t always fight alone. If we feel we’ve been wrongly accused or exploited, it’s a must to have, at the very least, adequate representation. After we’ve done our homework and all the facts are presented, it’s up to the acting judge to hand down the final ruling. I’m so glad that I have the best judge. He sees and knows everything and has my best interests at heart. I must put my trust in the God of the universe to fight for me. Whatever decision is handed down in the end is what He allows; I can be sure of that. Even if I lose this small battle, I’ll be victorious in the end. (What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31; For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. Psalm 18:39)

2/14/23 – Interrupt

Keep quiet and listen. How many times do we interrupt someone when he’s speaking? How can we learn unless we listen? When we talk, we only hear ourselves, but much more can be gained by listening. Some people in my circle interrupt me as I speak, and I tend to steer clear. Nobody wants to converse with, let alone, confide in someone who’s always inserting his opinion or his experiences before it’s time. I want to hear God speaking to me, telling me His whole story, His truths through scripture, although I often interrupt even Him. If we were truly listening, really intently hearing and wanting the truth, we’ll know the truth we’re seeking. And those truths need no ifs, ands, or buts from us. (A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2; Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28)

2/13/23 – Reminding

Have you ever awakened from a dream that left you feeling disturbed throughout the morning, if not the entirety of your day? That is, your normal process of awakening was different because you had this dream. As is faded away, and it always does, it delivered subtle hints or questions on the doorstep of your mind. Hints or questions you couldn’t help but to bend down, pick up, and contemplate. I am doing that now. I’m contemplating. A person’s true character has again been revealed to me. Because He loves me, I believe the Lord gives me this dream to remind me that nothing has changed. I need frequent reminding in whatever form it comes. Do you? We hope so desperately, don’t we? We beg for change but change never comes. Then we beg for complete release from the chains. And that too, never comes. Not totally, for we’ve done it to ourselves. All we can do is rest in what God has provided for now. (For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men…Job 33:14-16; For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11)

2/11/23 – Want

When some of you read this blog, you may think, Sure, that girl has everything she needs, so, of course, she’s content. But what about me? I’m over here drowning in debt and have lost my job. While you might be in a precarious situation at present, it won’t last forever unless you allow it. It seems you’re at the bottom of your mountain, and the thought of the climb up to Contentment or, at best, Reasonable is too far out of reach. Well, I can say from experience that you’ve probably stayed too long. It’s time to get going. It may be the most difficult thing you ever do, but you can do it if you want to. The hard truth is that we do what we want to do. Do you want to get out of debt, a toxic relationship, or a house full of clutter? Do you want to move out of a life of sedentary and unhealthy eating? Either you want to or you don’t. The devil will tell you it’s too hard or too late. But I say, it’s not if you want to. (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; Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3)

2/10/23 Tomorrow

The grass withers and the flower fades. As I look out upon my front yard, I see this is true. I, like you, friend, am also withering, fading, merely a vapor, a mist, here today and tomorrow gone. I am only a speck, barely visible on the timeline of our God. Nevertheless, He chose me. I have a purpose, still. Oh, Lord, thank you. I pray for strength to soldier on. I pray you’ll find me doing your work when you return. I hope that when my life is over and we meet face-to-face, you’ll smile at me and tell me that I did a good job. Though I’ve made many mistakes, I pray you’ll forgive them, look past them and say, Well done, thy good and faithful servant. (Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14; You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16)

2/8/23 – Opportunity

The many people rescued from the rubble in Turkey and Syria have another chance, another opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and to accept Him as their personal Savior. Think of the thousands who don’t. Never again will they have an occasion to hear, believe, and receive. It’s over for them. They’re already in their eternity. But it’s not over for you. You are still living and breathing here on this earth. If you’ve not accepted this free gift of eternal life, do it now, for you never know what a day or a night may bring forth. (Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24; Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6)

2/7/23 – Pressing

This recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria really has me feeling upset. Can you tell? I wrote about it yesterday. US mainstream media continues reporting on the creepy Grammy awards, which fully promoted the devil and his goons. It continues to babble on about the also creepy State of the Union address happening tonight. We already know what state our union is in, and if we don’t, we’re senseless. The more pressing subject is the loss of human life. Were these people who were killed born again Christians? If not, they’re all in Hell. It breaks my heart. If we’re not reporting what we know about eternity and how it’s fast approaching, we’re as bad as the US media. Yikes. (But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Jeremiah 10:10; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16) 

2/6/23 – Report

The mainstream media surprises me more and more each day. While thousands of people are suffering from the effects of perhaps the most massive earthquake in a century, some US media sources report the winners of the coveted Grammy award. While scores of Turkish and Syrian people run for their lives, US news reports whether or not to increase our ceiling of debt. While occupied buildings are collapsing by the minute, we wonder why our groceries are so pricy. Wake up, people! There are more important things to talk about today, no? (Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18; Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42)

2/4/23 – Morning

Still feeling it? Still feeling the pressure or pain of your situation? You may be, but I’ll bet it’s not quite as bad as yesterday. It doesn’t make any sense sometimes, but come morning, our trials can seem more trivial, our sorrows a little more insignificant. Bathe in the joy the morning brings. As the Bible says, Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. What happened yesterday is gone. Eyes that were wet with tears last night are dry this morning. Hands that were trembling yesterday are calm today. Wave goodbye to what was and nestle yourself in the new. (Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 126:5; …weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5)

2/3/23 – Misery

As I said yesterday, everything will be all right. Everything that’s falling apart in your world will be okay. It may not be right now, but it will be. Fires don’t burn forever. Storms don’t rage on and on. They just don’t. Think back to a terrible time in your life. It improved, didn’t it? When you thought you’d never live through it, your situation slowly took a turn for the better. Remember? The bumps in your road were removed, either by you or someone else. Heavy loads became lighter. Holes were filled. The common healer here is time. The Lord, in His time, makes all things beautiful. Look around. In all your misery, see the good things you have today. Focus on those. Thank the Lord for them because tomorrow, you may not have the chance. (“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. Hosea 6:1; Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19)

2/2/23 – Reliant

If I am totally devoted to Christ, if I am fully reliant on Him, bad news should not have an ill affect on me. No cancer diagnosis, no receipt of divorce papers, no fire, no loss of life, no eviction notice, nothing should cause me to fret. But the word should is the operative word here. Because I am human, bad news naturally delivers fear, sadness, or anger to the front door of my psyche. Any negative news produces at least one of these feelings in me. But then, something happens. A whisper. A nudge. The Holy Spirit gently reminds me that Everything is going to be okay. And it is. Eventually. That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it? We will get through whatever storms may come. Why? Because Jesus said so. He said we would have trouble in this world. But He also said that He has overcome the world. Do you believe it? (I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33; Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6)

2/1/23 – Dedication

Oh, to be as dedicated to the cause of spreading the gospel of Christ as was Paul, the Apostle. There aren’t many out there declaring the good news of Jesus the way he did. His reason for living, his destiny was to give the gospel message to as many as would have ears to hear. Let’s back up a bit, as this supernatural calling came later in his life. While murdering countless Christians for the cause of Roman rule, God saw an extreme passion in him that He could use. By human standards, Paul was one of the worst sinners of that century. But because of his miraculous conversion, he literally saw the light of Jesus. He was saved by the same grace as I, yet his devotion to the Lord cannot be compared. I can say, Well, I was not blinded by God as Paul was, nor have I been gifted the same communication skills. Both statements are true, but both are also excuses. What’s yours? (For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21; For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16)

1/30/23 – Deaf

I am deaf. Not all of the time but sometimes. I may even confess that most times I am deaf to the Lord’s voice. Unless I am walking with Him all the day long, I am deaf. Unless I am one with His spirit, I am deaf. Unless I am reading and meditating on His word to me, I am deaf to anything He would tell me. Being deaf to God’s voice is separation from Him. Satan would love nothing more. (Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. Jeremiah 6:10; He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9)

1/29/23 – Haste

Haste makes waste is the familiar proverb we all know and hate. At least, we who are impatient hate it. We hate it because we know who we are. We are in a hurry and most times end up swimming in our own pool of mediocrity. On the other hand, being in a hurry isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the product of it, the result that most times ends up biting butts. When someone says, You were in too much of a hurry, you know you’ve created the haste that makes waste. Taking the time to do it right by avoiding short cuts that lead to dead ends, will likely deliver the success and satisfaction of a refreshing and timely outcome. (The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Proverbs 21:5; Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. Proverbs 19:2)

1/21/23 Result

The consequence. The effect. The outcome. The verdict. I find myself biting my nails, or I might fidget while watching a movie, not really paying full attention to it as I’m waiting for the result of some test. It’s how we behave before the results are known and posted or before the verdict is handed down that shows our degree of trust and belief. Trust and belief are not needed afterward until the next time. It’s usually a 50-50 shot or an It could go either way scenario. It’s something we can’t help, this unbelief of ours. Even the sick child’s father standing in the presence of the Healer Himself in Mark chapter 9 of the New Testament had his doubts about what Jesus could do. Once we’re in the know, once we get our answer, we either rejoice or we drown in an ocean of disappointment. Isn’t it more serene if we trust beforehand? If we let it go before we know the truth? Aren’t we more at peace if we trust that we’re not sick or that the jury will side with us? (Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24; Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29)

1/19/23 – Faithfulness

In my effort to avoid mediocrity at all costs, I sit here and write another Word for Today entry. When I began this blog back in 2020, I was determined to produce a website that would allow me to express myself and also one that would help others identify issues needing to be addressed. I have been faithful to it, writing mostly everyday and only taking the necessary breaks. My relationship to my Heavenly Father is quite similar to my relationship with my blog. It has its ups and downs, but not Him. He is always faithful to me, every moment of everyday; I am in His capable hands. Thank you, Lord for your faithfulness. (The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23; He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24)

1/18/23 – Mediocrity

Doing a shoddy job just to get things done, to check the box, robs us of a real prize. The sale of a home, a fully risen loaf of bread, or the snagging of the Newberry Award for excellence in children’s literature are a few examples. Why won’t we take the time to clear the clutter, measure the ingredients properly, or fine-tune the plot, grammar, and the characterization? The word that slaps me again and again is mediocrity. Instead of asking, Is this the best I can do? I often times decide, It’s okay the way it is. This character trait of mediocrity stands between success and me more times than I want to admit. No sale, a puny loaf of bread, or the letter of rejection from the publisher are all outcomes that I don’t desire. So why do I settle? Because I am impatient. Impatience most always breeds mediocrity. In this new year, I have vowed to my Heavenly Father to make this matter of mediocrity a thing of the past. (A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4; Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10)

1/17/23 – Drive

Drive. Ambition. Motivation. Do these words describe your character? Do you do whatever it takes to get the job done, to make your dreams a reality? I think of Richard Branson, a dyslexic and rather awkward boy growing up in the 60’s. He might have been labeled the least likely to succeed by his professors in school, but this man, because of his drive and complete dedication to his values, achieved much more in his life than anybody would hope to achieve in 5 lifetimes. I believe it wasn’t because he wanted to be rich. It was because he believed in certain things so desperately that if he didn’t attempt them, he’d have probably died. Granted, most of us don’t have that much determination, or we’d all be rich and famous. But we can ask for it, can’t we? Drive? Motivation? We can ask God for His wisdom and ambition, the kind that created everything from nothing. We can ask for the wisdom and determination that his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ had when he was alive. He had one mission, one goal and accomplished it no matter the obstacles in His way. I don’t know about you, but I want that. (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5; Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20)

1/14/23 – Intrusion

The act of moving in on something without having an invitation to do so is the act of intrusion. An invasion, trespassing, a breach, an encroachment; these actions inflict negative emotions on the one(s) receiving it. Intrusions come in many different forms but the result is the same. We want to shout, Get out! and You’re not wanted here! Sometimes we have control of the outcome, and sometimes we don’t. The one truly controlling the outcome is our Heavenly Father. If only we believed it. If only we had confidence in Him to deliver us from evil. We ask Him for deliverance, and then we worry. What peace we would experience instead of the ghastly anxiety that paralyzes and finally brings us down. The funny thing is, when He does deliver, we forget we even asked. We don’t thank Him, and we might even, in all our pride, take the credit. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7; Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Hebrews 5:6-7)

1/5/23 – Intruders

Our daily routine is so predictable, isn’t it? Most of us get up, eat breakfast, go to work, eat lunch, work some more, come home, eat dinner, watch something, sleep, and then we start all over. But what happens when an intruder breaks into our ordinary life? What if some injury, some sickness, or some relational issue runs interference? This unexpected and unwanted interruption is so irritating. We are down. We are out. Laid up. Unavailable. And what if we can’t get a break? Over and over we are faced with one negative event after another. When does this crazy ride stop so that we can get off? It’s hard to have faith when no end is in sight, when the hits just keep on coming. The guy operating the ride just won’t push the button. It’s in these times we must trust. He’s going to push it. We just don’t know when. We must change our thinking. We must learn from it. We must believe that it won’t last forever. We must have confidence that something new, something refreshing, and something glorious will come. (I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33; 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)

1/4/23 – Resolution

I recall the lyrics of the familiar tune from The Sound of Music: Brown paper packages tied up with string…it is the season for packages, and more were mounting up underneath my Christmas tree by the minute. I guess I bought too much once againWhy do I buy so much at Christmas time? Is that what Christmas is really about? Gift-giving? I mean, I guess it is. And it’s about family, friends, food, and most importantly, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Some people believe that lighting up the Christmas tree is a pagan ritual that began long ago. And that giving the gifts piled up underneath it is a form of idolatry. Whatever your belief, it’s over, and a new year has arrived in a package of its own. What will you do with it? (“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:9-21; 

12/20/22 – Reminder

It’s like a clay pot having been dropped. We may have faith that our super glue of choice will do its job, but the reminder of our mishap is always visible to us. Others may have no idea unless we show them, but to us, it’s as vast as the San Andres Fault. Although our pot may hold the liquid once again, we are reminded of the incident if we choose to look closely enough. We can only hope the liquid doesn’t seep through during the dinner event. But we can’t be sure. Not totally. Because we lack knowledge concerning the nature of clay and the science behind it, we wonder. Like that clay we all are broken, but we trust that God can put us back together. Our glued fractures, our scars are a reminder of what we once were. We can inspect them if we want to, but why? Let them be. They’re part of who we are now. (Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:7; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3)

12/15/22 – Unknown

Sometimes, the only way to know the seriousness of an injury or sudden change in the status of our health is to have an x-ray or some other test that makes the unknown, known. It’s the not knowing that fills us with so much anxiety. It’s in the darkness this anxiety breeds and then multiplies. The future is like that. We can’t see into it no matter the quality of the psychic’s crystal ball. No cards with pictures can ever reveal whether or not we’re headed for the grave or the end of a relationship. And don’t depend on a board game to help you glean knowledge from a dead person. The unknown is simply that. Some things we just can’t know ahead of time. The most important thing in life, however, can be. Your home in the afterlife. And folks, there are only 2 places. We can know where we’re going after we breathe our last breath on this earth. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and asking Him to be our savior is all we need to do to get into heaven. What are you going to do? Time is running out. (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16; Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26)

12/11/22 – Opponent

In most cases, your most dreaded opponent in the relationship Olympics of life is you. You often blame other people in your circle for your losses and unhappiness, when in reality you qualified for the wrong events. Jumping to conclusions without gathering all the facts is number one. Cycling through your unchangeable past is next. Perhaps you dive into situations that aren’t any of your business. Are you swimming in cesspools of gossip, guilt, and regret? Do you wrestle with jealousy and envy? Until you see yourself as your only opponent, the one you’re competing against, the exhilaration of receiving the gold, silver, or even the bronze will be far out of reach. (Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29; I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day… 2 Timothy 4:7-8)

12/6/22 – Chain

Whose chain is binding you, holding you prisoner? Most times, it belongs to you. You choose to wrap it around yourself, lock yourself up, and then misplace the key. A friend recently asked me to pray for him. I assume he meant that he wanted me to ask God to free him. My question is: What is he doing to free himself? If a person wants to break free badly enough, he can. Just get the key, open it up, and let that heavy metal fall. It’s that simple. Only it’s the packing up while chained that has one huffing and puffing. It’s the cutting of the soul ties that makes one bleed. But once we catch our breath, once we clean and bandage the wounds, the healing can begin. That heavy chain becomes like bread dough. The trouble is, we’d rather it be thick and made of metal. (So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2)

12/5/22 – Sleep

Sleep is a strange phenomenon isn’t it? Thinking about your body entering a sedentary state for a number of hours in a row can create a lot of questions. What happens during this shutdown? Why do we sleep? Why is this time of unconsciousness so important? Why can we not escape it without severe consequences to our health? In the book of Genesis, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. It was so deep that he had no recollection that God had removed of one of his ribs in order to create his future wife. Have you ever slept that deeply? Perhaps only in a surgical situation while under the influence of anesthesia, or perhaps you were in a coma from some sort of accident. Sleep is so important that God mentions the necessity of it all over the scriptures. We need rest. All of us. And this need is inescapable. If you’re lying awake night after night, seek help right away. (So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. Genesis 2:21; For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me. Jeremiah 31:25-26)

11/16/22 – Force

You cannot force relationships and receive lasting happiness. You may feel good for a little while, but my friends, you cannot control anybody but yourself. If someone is unable to respond to you for whatever reason, get in your car and move on. Let that person be. Your hand may want to reach for your phone again and again to call or text, but if that person isn’t ready to receive, you only hurt yourself by the follow-through. She’ll come around or she won’t. He’ll reach out or he won’t. The one who’ll never leave you hanging is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in complete control of every situation. Trust Him. If it’s His will that you receive, you’ll receive. He knows what you need, what is good for you and what isn’t. Charles Stanley said it best; “Do what’s right and leave the consequences to Him.” (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5; You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3)

11/15/22 – Essentials

This season of flu, colds, and other physical ailments can send you plunging down the side of a mountain if you’re not careful. When you feel a little off, downright awful even, the devil seizes his ripe opportunity to whisper sweet nothings into your ear. And that’s exactly what they are, folks. Nothings. Nothing but lies from the father of lies telling you you’re not good enough, that you’ll never be well, and that your strength is gone. What makes matters worse is that your ears are especially vulnerable in this season of sickness, busyness, and holiday cheer. The only weapons against the evil god of this world are prayer and Bible reading. These 2 essentials are all you need. Renew your mind with scripture, and then pray like mad. (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11)

11/14/22 – Replace

While in the midst of a fiery trial, it’s difficult to consider the good things that are happening simultaneously. Our negative thoughts trickle over into enemy camp; if we’re not prepared, they can overwhelm us, capture us, and before we know it, they can lock us into solitary. Get hold of these unwanted notions before they begin their takeover. Beat them at their own game. Replace negative thoughts with something good. Anything will do. A sunny day. A Robin feasting on the red berries dangling from the tree limbs in your front yard. Offering thanks for your home, your car, or your family can cause the enemy to retreat. Renewing your mind with scripture is the best defense there is. Even the simple action of smiling can work its magic. No matter how bad things seem, there is always a good thought waiting to be claimed. (Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2; You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3)

11/12/22 – Naivety

I’ve always leaned toward naivety with regard to people. Hiking a trail alone isn’t scary to me. According to the dictionary, naivety is not a good trait. But shouldn’t we here in the good ‘ol US of A be able to trust our fellow citizens? Doesn’t everyone gravitate toward goodness, kindness, honesty, and self-control? Of course, none of us is always good, kind, honest, or self-controlled, but don’t people generally strive for these things? Shouldn’t they be more natural to us than their counterparts? My husband use to say, “You’re so naive. You have no clue what’s going on around you.” I suppose that I did grow up in a fairly sheltered environment, but I am mostly unable to be leery of something or someone I know nothing about. While others might be more suspicious or skeptical at the get-go, I still find I am not. Now, I have since learned from bad experiences that to be on the lookout is more beneficial, as most everyone seems good at the start. But when I’m in the dark about a situation, the Holy Spirit takes up the slack and shines a bright light. (Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105; Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21)

11/11/22 – Waver

Am I being too harsh? Is what I’m requiring too much for someone to accomplish? What are my expectations? What are my boundaries in a unique situation? Should a unique situation matter? That is where I depend on the Lord to pour out His wisdom on me. He says that if I ask for wisdom, I shall have it. But His boundary is that when I ask, I must believe I will have it. That is, when I ask, I can’t be wishy-washy. No wondering or wavering is allowed here. I smile when I think of receiving this priceless gift. No amount of money or crypto can compare to the gift of wisdom from God. I must ask for it and then depend on it. It must be my expectation. Ask and then receive. Lord, give me wisdom in the situation in which I find myself today. That is my sincere prayer, so I wait for it knowing that without a doubt, it will come to me. (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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 1:5-6; Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14)

11/10/22 – Rivers

I was listening to a podcast this morning, and it was interesting to learn that 2 major rivers in the Middle East are drying up. The Nile, once a lifeline providing nourishment to the fertile land in Egypt is now at its lowest point in history. The Euphrates is also becoming an arid strip of land producing a significant decrease in agricultural output. What once was a flowing river is now being likened to a creek. Is it surprising? In these end times, nothing I learn is surprising, especially since these prophesies were documented in the pages of Isaiah chapter 19 and in chapter 16 of the book of Revelation. Now, I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that unless someone lugs a giant water hose to those rivers and begins to fill them up again, the end of time, as we know it might be near. (The streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Every sown field along the Nile will become parched, will blow away and be no more. Isaiah 19:6-7; The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12)

11/9/22 – Anyway

Even though my circumstances were less than desirable, yesterday was a good day, full of sunshine and peace. Was everything perfect? Definitely not. But to question from whence those good feelings materialized is to doubt my salvation. Jesus gently reminds us that in this world, we’re going to have trouble. There is no human being who has not experienced it. But we don’t have to give in to it. When we don’t feel well, we find the strength to get up and get moving anyway. When we don’t feel like smiling, we smile anyway. We put one foot in front of the other and take a walk in the unseasonable temps. These few days of warmer weather are a gift from above. Take advantage of it. (Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10; I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33)

11/8/22 – Weapon

We always want what we can’t have. A desire unmet is like a rose unable to produce its stunning blossom. It lacks something required for flowering and its stem only presents prickly thorns. I feel like that infertile rose today. What I want so badly for myself is just out of reach. What will it take for you to be satisfied without the blossom, to be content with the thorns? The truth is, we all have the ability to be okay, to come to terms with what is, to thrive even, in our current condition. The secret to contentment is to win the war against the adversaries in your mind, as that’s where the battle takes place. It’s nowhere else. Think on things that are good, things that are lovely, and things that calm and that pour out peace. Renew your mind with scripture, as the Bible is your weapon against the enemy. Use it to your advantage. (And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32; For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

11/7/22 – Deliverance

Has your patience ever been as thin as plastic wrap? Is it now? Mine is. As many of you know, my impatience grows thin while I’m behind the wheel; otherwise, I am a fairly patient person. But I’m not behind the wheel right now. I’m behind an old woman recovering from a nasty infection. I’m literally walking behind her making sure she remains upright. I’m preparing meals of which I hope she’ll eat at least half. I’m at her bedside wondering why, at 2am, she’s fidgety, anxious, and confused. I’m wondering why she refuses to do things that will help improve the quality of her life. I’ve known many people who have had it worse than we. But my reality is mine, hers is hers, and yours is yours. What do we do when we’re at the end of our rope? We call upon the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. We call upon the One Who knows what we’re up against. We call upon the only One Who gives us strength to hang on just a little longer. And then we wait for our deliverance with patience. (Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10-11; And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15)

11/5/22 – Morals

When it comes to your values and morals, what would you give up to stand up? If your job required something of you that conflicted with your beliefs and convictions, would you stay or go? If your value to stay pure before marriage came face to face with a tempting but opposing viewpoint, would you stay or go? We are all tempted everyday to do things contrary to our values and convictions. The temptation is not the sin. It’s the surrendering, the giving in, the crossing over that damages whatever good we intended. Remember the adage, The road to destruction is paved with good intentions. If your life is not completely destroyed, the rebuilding of it could take years. Think about that the next time sex or money says, “Right this way.” Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. 1 Corinthians 15:33; Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17)

11/4/22 – Warning

I’ve not been active here in a while because an unforeseeable event took place in which my complete attention was needed. We never know, do we, when something unexpected will occur. It can happen without warning. Then we find ourselves thinking differently and acting differently. Our whole world suddenly changes. Our priorities shift and life continues on in the new normal. But what if we had received the warning? What if we had known? Would we have done things differently? Spiritually speaking, all we have is the Bible, a book detailing future events delivered with no inhibitions and making no apologies. It is a book in which all events have taken place from the beginning of time until now. The apostle, John, told us in the Revelation what things would come to pass. Are you ready? Take a look at the final book of the Bible. It’s all written down for us. It leaves nothing to the imagination. The question is, do you believe it? (And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:9-10; The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Revelation 1:1-2)

10/21/22 – Reach

If you’re not one to respond positively to a friend or family member’s crisis, let me say that nothing will make you feel better than that. Reaching out to people in need doesn’t do as much for them as it will for you as the reacher-outer. Think back for a moment. I dare say that the moments you’ve been there for someone make more of a mark than the moments someone was there for you. Giving is like that. And the Lord created it in us from the beginning. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving. When you bought that coat for the freezing child or when you cooked and delivered a meal to that sick friend probably brought you more joy as the giver than the one who received the coat or the person who ate your meal. Be a reacher-outer and revel in your goose-bumps satisfaction. (Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:6; One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:24-25)

10/19/22 – Service

We always want to do for God. We want to volunteer for this and that instead of grounding ourselves in Him. Immersing ourselves in the God of the Bible will then lead to activity for Him. I remember back when my dad was a deacon for a little Baptist church we attended. We, as children of the board members, looked forward to the monthly meetings because we were free to roam the church, gorge ourselves on southern potluck the women provided, and engage in scary games of hide-and-seek in the basement. I never wondered from down there what they discussed up in the sanctuary. It was just what they did, and I reaped the benefits. Nothing much ever changed in that church and when we left it to join another, I quickly adapted to a much larger congregation’s way of doing things. But still, I didn’t really know God. I helped refurbish a church in a poor area of Mexico, memorized scripture and the books of the Bible in order as I was told, but I didn’t read His word on my own, nor did I ever pray. As many other Christians, I had it backwards. First, get to know God, and then He will put you in a place of service that makes sense and with it, give you the joy that comes from making a lasting difference for the Kingdom of God. (For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6; Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4)

10/18/22 – Mourn

What does the face of repentance look like? How do we recognize it in others and more importantly, in ourselves? Zechariah chapter 12 paints a vivid picture of repentance that will occur in Israel at the end of days, but I believe we can apply it today. The prophet says that after Israel receives God’s spirit of grace and supplication, it will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son. The people will grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Have you ever mourned over your sin? Have you grieved over the pain you cause our Lord? That kind of evidence, the mourning and grieving, is the product of true repentance. A change of ways is the fruit we naturally bear if we have His Spirit. (Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:7; Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8)

10/17/22 – If

Sometimes, we have no control over what happens in our lives but mostly, we do. If we had eaten healthier meals, we might not have received a diabetes diagnosis. If we had said our final goodbyes to a bad relationship a little sooner, we wouldn’t be suffering a wrong-person attachment. If we had issued consequences for our child’s bad behavior, we might have avoided visits to the prison. And we’re quick to blame everybody but ourselves. I am speaking to myself here; so don’t go rolling your eyes at me just yet. Most negative outcomes are a result of our choices. Roll the tape of your life back to where your problems began. Look clearly and honestly as you view them one-by-one and see if I’m not right. The goal here is not to shame you (or me) or persuade you to stir the deep and murky waters of your past but only to learn from it. (He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. Isaiah 7:15; I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life that you and your offspring may live. Deuteronomy 30:19)

10/16/22 – Bother

My 90-year-old mother is away on a trip with a girlfriend (nearly 90) and her family. She boarded a plane by herself and flew south, landed, and spent the night with the family. They got up the next morning and flew west to their final destination. Last night, I received a call from the person in charge of the trip. He informed me that she is ill. Food poisoning is what the nurse labels it. Was I really to believe that she’d travel without incident at her age? Yes. I believed it because she always has. I had no reason to doubt. There was no reason to worry that something would go wrong. We worry because we have a reason. We doubt because we’ve been bamboozled before. When doubts in God’s sovereignty rise up, when we lack trust, it’s because we feel He has let us down somewhere along the line. Even after praying incessantly for healing, someone we loved died. The ceaseless prayers for our spouse to remain made no difference. Are you at a crisis of faith? You don’t fully understand this God in whom you are to trust, but you are asked to trust anyway. If you truly believe in Him, you have confidence in His better plan, in His divine purpose for the pain you’re suffering. Otherwise, why bother with Him at all? (Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24; And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6)

10/15/22 – Talk

We like to talk about ourselves. We babble on about our struggles and victories over our extreme weight loss or our journey of ups and downs on the company ladder. We’ll rattle on to anyone with at least one ear the excruciating symptoms of flu we are experiencing. We want others to realize what a challenging time it was for us to bear the storm and its devastating consequences. We talk about it because it feels good. I do it. You do it. And it’s normal. But the fact remains; nobody can feel our gains and pains like we do, not one person. Not even your closest confidant, be it your spouse, child, priest, or even your mother will be able to fully feel what you feel. Not one, except for Jesus Christ. He knows you and your need for self-expression. He’s always available and is eager to hear your voice. If it’s pain you’re feeling, He feels it as if it’s His own, and by the way, He’s the only One Who can do anything about it. (The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19; 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 too deep for words. Romans 8:26)

10/14/22 – Weak

Most of us are strong more often than we are weak. But when the weakness pours over us, it seems to serve as double the portion. When we’re not feeling faint, we don’t wish for strength. It’s only when we’re feeling feeble that we long for enough strength to get up off the couch, to walk those last few feet to the finish line, or to hammer those last few nails into an exhausting project. Do you ask God for strength when you’re already feeling courageous, capable, and carefree? It’s when we come to a crisis, when we are weak with suffering that we are on our knees begging for that which we thought we already had. And that’s okay. There’s plenty to go around. (For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10; Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10)

10/12/22 – Sick

As I sit here coughing and wiping my nose, I am thankful. There are so many with ailments far worse than mine. I wrote yesterday about God’s timing. If I am to be sick, I suppose this is the most opportune time. In my narrow-mindedness, I thank God for allowing this disease to descend upon me now rather than later. If I want to, I can find joy in this slight discomfort and in the realization that I’m getting it over with. I don’t know God’s ultimate purpose for me this season, but if I am sick right now, He has purposed it for me right now. I don’t have to worry about it. If we’re walking with God, we can be sure He has us right where He wants us. (The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9; I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33)

10/11/22 – Omniscience

To quote the eloquent Oswald Chambers, Time is nothing to God. We pray for this and that and expect God to agree and to answer momentarily. After all, He knows the circumstances of our time-sensitive situation, doesn’t He? One thing I have learned is that He often delays for a greater purpose. Is it comfortable? No, but I can rest in His omniscience. I don’t have to worry that my family isn’t intact, that my friend isn’t healed, or that our nation is on a downward spiral. The story of Lazarus in the New Testament is a perfect example of God’s omniscience. After receiving word about his sick friend, Jesus waited 2 more days to attend to him. In the meantime, Lazarus died. What are you waiting for? If God doesn’t answer, we think that He either doesn’t hear, that He doesn’t know, that He doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t exist. We must remember that Time is nothing to Him. If what you’re asking God to do will glorify Him more with a delayed answer or a negative response, then put your feet up and breathe a sigh of relief. (Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28; Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33-34)

10/10/22 – Accustomed

I was impressed with my pastor’s talk yesterday. Speaking against sin for over 30 years, he has never been more outspoken than he is now. I believe it’s because our country has become so ungodly and is living in such extreme carnality. When will we awaken? But these immoral and lascivious behaviors didn’t materialize overnight. I am reminded of the frog relaxing in a pot of tepid water on the stove. He becomes so acclimated to the rising temperature that he doesn’t realize he’s being boiled alive until it’s too late to jump out. We, as parishioners, have become so accustomed to the devil’s lure that what used to be wrong in our society is now right and vise versa. If a man desires to become a woman, it’s no problem. If a woman becomes pregnant and desires to discard the innocent, it’s no problem. Some of us don’t even sense the severity of these sins because we’re like the frog, having a good old time bathing in the devil’s pot of carnality with no apparent consequences. Friend, if you haven’t already been paid, those consequences are on the way; make no mistake. You can’t do wrong and get away with it. (Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7; Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. Isaiah 3:11)

10/8/22 – Resist

As promised, here’s the outcome of yesterday’s mom scenario: Regardless of her cooking emergency, I decided to finish my own time-sensitive task before heading upstairs. In the past, I’d have broken my neck to run and help her. Since I chose to resist in this situation, we both learned something. She learned she could do it on her own, and I learned that I could finish what I was doing and the world would remain on its axis. However, the anxiety I experienced because I didn’t capitulate was a little more heightened than I’d anticipated. Learning to stand my ground will take time. Count on this: If we as Christ-followers need to learn a life lesson, God will provide scenarios in which we will be tested. I passed this time. I only hope the meantime stress will subside as I take these baby steps through life. (And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6; And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28)

10/7/22 –Agreeable

I’m experiencing, at this very moment, my mother’s impatience. She wants something right now, and by golly, her yelling informed me. But I cannot give her what she wants at the time she wants it because I’m involved in something else. Either she does it herself, or she waits for me to finish what I’m doing in order to receive my help. I must not put off my time-sensitive itinerary to answer her every beck and call unless it’s an emergency. At least that’s what I’m learning. Being agreeable has its limits. The issue of boundaries is a learned weakness of mine to be sure. Why? Control. It’s that simple. In order for everyone to be at peace with me, I must see to his or her every whim. Not today. I’ll see how that decision affects me and let you know tomorrow. (For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10; When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7)

10/6/22 – Heredity

While I was driving home the other day, my mind shifted from the pleasing fall landscape to the reason I might be an impatient driver. Just like that. My dad was an impatient driver as is my mother. Can I really blame my heredity for the impatience I feel while driving? Why are my actions and my heredity such kindred spirits? Certainly, heredity is the reason I resemble my mother and grandmother in appearance. But must my heredity play a role in everything I do and say? When we become Christ-followers and have received His spirit, our former heredity should play no part in our present drama. The Bible says that after making the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we’re given His heredity. It’s His spirit now who lives inside us and directs us. That’s how we know. That’s the assurance of our salvation. When our desire is to be like Jesus Christ, our heredity shouldn’t matter anymore. (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17; No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9)

10/5/22 – Rigid

Having such rigid patterns of behavior can lead to undergrowth and then on to stagnancy. We’d all like to be forever riding on the landscape of peace and serenity, but interruptions to our daily schedule will occur. Tragedy will strike without warning. What then? You who are plagued with inflexibility will suffer most. Your extreme need to control causes your own discomfort. If you read the pages of history, you’ll clearly see that things have changed over the years and are continuing at a more rapid pace than ever. Loosen those reins of obstinacy on the journey through this life you’ve been given, and then see if you’re not a little more at peace. (Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19; Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4)

10/4/22 Refuse

You won’t hear many statements like, I will not and No way from those with little to no backbone. These spineless jellyfish say things like, I don’t know and I don’t care, when in reality they do know, and they do care; they’re merely afraid to speak it. I know. I used to be one. Refusing to be treated in a way contrary to your desired treatment, to stand your ground takes guts, and most of ours are in need of medical attention. Refuse to be bullied. Refuse to be used. Try speaking the word No, and see what happens. Soon, those irritating people-pleasing chains will loosen their ghastly grip and you’ll begin to feel the glorious sensation of freedom. (Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37; Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. Deuteronomy 31:6)

10/3/22 – Shock

Even after extreme warnings, many are in shock when the weather diverts or increases in strength. People residing in these vulnerable regions know from experience that storms can be unpredictable, gaining strength and changing paths that catch everyone by surprise. So when government officials issue widespread evacuation orders, why not go ahead and get out? Why not play it safe and exit just in case? The answer is simple, really. Unbelief. People don’t believe it will happen to them. If you’ve heard the warnings spoken of by Jesus Christ Himself concerning the end of days, you will either heed like the better-safe-than-sorry crowd, or you will ignore the warnings and face the devastation that follows. It’s coming, folks. It’s not a question of if. (Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Matthew 24:42-43; So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6)

10/2/22 – Withdraw

Does what you believe about Jesus Christ remain true as your fame and fortune take a sudden and devastating tumble? Is what you knew to be true about Jesus Christ still true as you lie suffering in your hospital bed? How about when the divorce papers are served? Do you still believe? Or do you, with your blame, anger, and self-pity in tow withdraw to a place of isolation and set up camp? We’ve all done it, but do we allow ourselves to remain in that dark, lonely place? The truth about Jesus Christ is still true, even when all hope is lost. He’s as good as He was when you were rich. He’s as powerful as He was when you were well, and He’s as present as He was when you married. Seek Him. (Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13; The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18)

10/1/22 – Pit

Boy, if that isn’t something. The minute you think things are looking up, you’re pushed into the pit once again. We all have our pits. Some are deeper and darker while others are more moderate in nature. But no matter the depth, we all fall in at one time or another. So do we starve to death down there or do we escape somehow and begin another journey to the mountaintop? Our choice. Neither the pit nor the mountaintop is our home; it’s the climb, really. The in-between. We eventually thank the Lord for all of it, the desperation in the pit, the struggle of the climb, and the refreshment at the mountaintop. So get up and start digging. Before long, you’ll be taking another nice, long, hot shower. (We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22)

9/30/22 – Sift

None of us enjoys the feeling of hurt. But sometimes God must take us all the way down to His threshing floor in order to make lasting changes. We are a prideful and stubborn lot. Until we’ve been crushed and sifted, like mature wheat from its tough and useless casing, we will be deaf to the call of God on our life. It often takes a crisis to make a pig-headed person pliable. But even then, even when He brings us to our lowest low, He often finds a scrap of stubborn debris still clogging the sifter. Make no mistake; if Jesus is calling you, He’ll get at it. It’s when you stand your ground on the hardened surface of your pride that panic should set in. (His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12; He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Psalm 1:3-4)

9/29/22 – Aftermath

It’s what is left. We are warned to evacuate, to seek higher ground, yet some choose to ignore, to stay put, and to hunker down. Even though the vivid radar displays the approaching storm and weather anchors predict the inevitable, people’s hearts are still somehow deceived. Time was running out for the countless residents of Florida, and then it did. We are also in the warning stage Jesus talked about in Matthew’s gospel of the New Testament. The un-believer continues to be informed; yet he wades in his deep skepticism ignoring the danger signs and then decides to take what comes. Heed the watchman’s warning, my friends. You don’t want to be left in quagmire of the aftermath that’s on the way. (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 21:14; For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21)

9/28/22 – Forfeit

What part of your life is yet not abandoned to Jesus Christ? It’s difficult to forfeit the keys to every room in our hearts, isn’t it? We give Him control of our speech, yet we lust with our eyes. We give Him control of our health, yet we eat or drink ourselves into oblivion. We read in Mark’s gospel of the New Testament that Jesus had compassion on a rich, young ruler who had good intentions. Because he wanted the eternal life Jesus spoke about, his desire was to forfeit his life to Jesus. But in the end, he couldn’t let go of his money, for he was a very wealthy man. We can’t have it both ways. Our lives aren’t like ice cream cones. We don’t get two dips. (And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 10:21; And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Luke 8:14)

9/27/22 – Suffer

When the rubber meets the road or when push comes to shove, we as Christ-followers are to choose Him over anybody. That is, friends, relatives, immediate family, pastors, teachers, or whomever else you may idolize. I have failed so many times, choosing this person and that person over Jesus Christ. I am to follow Him no matter what. If He has told me to do something and I don’t do it, He doesn’t suffer; I do. If He plants a red flag of warning in my yard and I remove it, I suffer. If He has called you to go and do something for Him, go and do it. You’ll suffer if you settle for anything less. (Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12; (And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22)

9/26/22 – Quit

We all have had times in our lives when we’ve been tempted to give up. And most of us have succumbed at least once already. The decision to quit, to throw in the towel is a shattering experience of defeat no matter how small. These black marks on our previously pearly-white reputation as a trooper, a winner, or a conqueror will at some point gain strength in our hurricane of life, but they don’t have to leave indelible stains. What now? We begin again. We call on the name of the Lord and start over. There’s no shame in that. (But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9; “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…Isaiah 1:8)

9/25/22 – Pattern

A person exhibiting a negative behavior will continue it unless he faces a crisis or an encounter with God. Most of us continue our patterns because that’s what patterns are: reliable samples of traits or tendencies. In other words, we can count on someone to return to the chips aisle in the grocery store if that was his pattern in the past. Unless he’s suddenly suffering from a cardiac arrest and is carted off to the nearest emergency room, he’s likely to grab and down a bag as he has always done. Don’t think for one minute that anything has changed unless he is wounded or is deeply nudged by the Holy Spirit. How will you know? Oh, you’ll know. (But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…Romans 6:17; “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24)

9/24/22 – Concentrate

To what or to whom are you choosing to freely give your attention? We can certainly concentrate on those sticky situations in which are hands are tied. We can repeatedly mull over that which we have no control. We can then become cranky and joyless. But what does this really accomplish for the cause of Christ? Maybe instead, concentrate on Him. Thank Him for what you’ve been given. Send a card of gratitude to someone who has come to your aid in the last month. How about handing out an encouraging word to someone you don’t even know? Begin weeding out those suffocating thoughts choking the new growth in your joy garden. Concentrating on others is a sure way to fertilize those healthy seedlings trying to take root deep inside your heart. (Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8; You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3)

9/22/22 – Forward

If you’ve not read 9/22/22, Around, read that first before reading Forward. I decided to pull over out of concern for an elderly man lying in the road. It appeared that he wasn’t badly injured after falling from his bike but was only shaken. Another concerned motorist helped him to his feet, and then after a few minutes of deliberation, the three of us went our separate ways, me back home to search for my phone. With no success, I grabbed my tablet and drove on to work. From an application designed to find a device, it’s not surprising that my tablet pinned the phone’s location to a roadside not too far from my residence, as I had carelessly set the phone on my mother’s car earlier that disastrous day. Now nearly dusk, I phoned my mother. While she and a helpful neighbor searched for the phone in the rain, another curious onlooker stopped to ask them if everything was okay. Concerned for their welfare, she took my number from my mother and gently persuaded her to go on home and that she would take it from there. Texting me from her device, this willing Good Samaritan connected with me and I was able to guide her to my undamaged phone. What was I to learn from this ghastly, 24-hour experience? Had I not stopped to help someone early on, I may not have been the recipient of a blessing from another. I wonder what blessings all these other Good Samaritans will receive. The Lord sees when we do the right thing, uncomfortable or not. He knows our hearts and takes it from there. (But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. Luke 10:33; Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2)

9/21/22 – Around

You’ve heard it said that what goes around comes around. It is so true for me. A Good Samaritan opportunity introduced itself, and it was as though the Lord asked, What are you going to do? I was late for work already, and as I rounded the corner of an intersection in my neighborhood, I saw that an elderly gentleman had fallen off his bicycle and was lying in the road unable to get up. Because of the lateness of the hour, I reasoned that other people stronger than I am and who probably had their phones would stop to help him. I had neither the time nor the strength, and I couldn’t have called anyone as I’d lost my phone earlier that afternoon. I was headed back home to find it, which was the reason I found myself at this particular intersection in the first place. It was a test. Stay tuned for the rest of the story. But first, I must ask: What would you have done? (Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16; Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38)

9/20/22 – Storage

As I was watching Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral yesterday, drones capturing the glorious English countryside couldn’t quite maneuver around all the different types of storage companies barging in, eye sores to be sure. No doubt, we’ve all had bouts with storage infections in our pasts. I had a unit a few years back and didn’t keep half of its contents when I finally emptied it. The thing is, storage, for the most part, is something we could all live without. Do we really need to cling to that ghastly chair that has no place in our new home? How about the corroded lawnmower now that we’ve hired a company to mow? Consider that dead-end relationship taking up an enormous amount of useful space in our hearts? Why can’t we throw things out? Why can’t we let go and move on? Why are we so attached? What are you storing that would be better off in the dump? (“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…Matthew 6:19; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34)

9/17/22 – Temptation

Most people link this word to sexual lust. That is, temptation leads only to sexual sin. On the contrary, temptation is anything in our way that leads us to do or say something else. I can be tempted to do good and bad things, and I can be tempted to say good and bad things. Therefore, temptation in itself is not necessarily only negative. If I am tempted to help someone and act on that temptation, it is, hence, a good thing. Temptation is common to men and women. We all experience it. It’s the temptation that leads us to become mesmerized by our sinful desires, and we suddenly find ourselves on the stage acting it out that determines the outcome. It’s the ACTING on the temptation that determines our sad or happy ending. (So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17; Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8)