Saturday, April 21, 2018
I love hearing my youngest grandson rattle off his multiplication tables. It reminds me of when I learned to multiply as a child. I have used that knowledge many times over the years. 9x9=81; 6x7=42; 8x3=24 – I just did that and I didn’t even need a calculator! LOL!
I was thinking about the example of multiplication when Jesus sent the disciples out to find food to feed the crowd of over 5,000 men, plus women and children. This story always astounds me, because here we are in this 21st century with a restaurant or a fast food franchise on almost every corner and to come up with meals to feed that many in a short measure of time would be impossible. But, then enters the GREAT MULTIPLIER. They are in the middle of nowhere and the crowd is hungry. Of course, the first thing the disciples think and say “Send them home, Lord, so they can eat!” Now if that were today, we’d at least have a power bar or a little snack to tide us over. But those folks were thinking one thing: “Jesus of Galilee is there and He can heal us, restore us, bring freedom to our hearts and souls.” Jesus’ response was “See if there is any food in the crowd, and it turned out that a Mom packed her LITTLE boy a LITTLE lunch to tide him over and that lunch was the LITTLE that Jesus needed for the crowd -- five loaves of bread and two fish.
“Bring them here to me,” Jesus said. And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." (Matthew 14:13-21). WOW! (Food for Thought: Where did those baskets come from? Maybe the little boy carried his lunch in a basket, and Jesus even MULTIPLIED the baskets??)
Co-partnering with the disciples and that LITTLE boy, Jesus was able to feed the masses by MULTIPLYING what LITTLE they had on hand. He is the Master MULTIPLIER. Just as He multiplied the LITTLE that day for that massive crowd, today, we are the chosen partners He uses. Imagine that little boy's story the rest of his life? Jesus used ME! He takes LITTLE and makes BIG out of it. "Little is much when God is in it!"
A LITTLE shepherd boy, David, with a LITTLE sling and stone – took down a GIANT. “Little is much when God is in it.” Do you feel LITTLE today? Do you have LITTLE to give God? It doesn't matter how large or small, when we give our time, our talents and our treasure to God, He will MULTIPLY it. What if, today, we present Him with what we have? Maybe a LITTLE prayer, a LITTLE donation, a LITTLE kind word, a LITTLE love, a LITTLE comfort, a LITTLE care, a LITTLE meal, a LITTLE act of service. No matter what the LITTLE is – as God's partners, our LITTLE just might be what God uses to multiply many blessings to others. Maybe inviting someone to dinner today or giving away items we no longer need, or taking a meal to someone. It may seem little to us, but BIG to them. Yes, little becomes BIG when we accept our partnership with our Master MULTIPLIER! LITTLE is much when God is in it.
Friday, April 20, 2018
Yesterday, I exposed my DELIGHT for chocolate -- that SWEET, savory, God-given, delicacy of DELIGHT and I exposed my DELIGHT in God and His Word. I must be all about sweetness, because today, I was led to carry on in that same vein.
KIND: friendly, generous, considerate, loving, warm, caring Proverbs 16:24 says "KIND words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
"KIND words are like honey - sweet to the soul" (That reminds me of honey on a biscuit or roll - YUM!), and whenever I think of something healthy, I think of fresh tomatoes, avocados, basil picked from my little herb garden (garden is an overstatement -- it's a little patch of my favorite herbs: basil and cilantro) slathered in balsamic vinegar glaze, perfectly guilt-free and healthy to eat.
The words SWEET and HEALTHY are rarely mentioned in the same sentence yet that is exactly how this proverb describes KIND words. They are like honey. And it’s both sweet to the soul (our soul -- our will, mind and emotions would be in sweetness -- not anger, fear, anxiety) and healthy for the body (our body would reap the rewards of our kindness). Just imagine what a steady diet of our kind words could do -- not only for others, but for us!
What if we chose to use our words, the ones we speak and the ones we write, to bring KINDNESS into the lives of everyone around us? What if we actually saw each and every KIND word we say as an agent of healing, a sweet balm for another’s soul AND our soul? What if we became very intentional about being a bearer of KIND words?
There are enough of harsh, bitter, angry, stinging words being thrown around today. What if we were KINDNESS dealers, handing out doses of KINDNESS everywhere we go? Kindness costs little but pays huge dividends in our own lives and in the lives of those we touch. It’s a habit that paves the way to a sweet and healthy, joy-filled life.
Lord, we give our words to You. We pray that Your words of loving kindness will fill us to overflowing to others. Help us to speak only kind and encouraging words. Help us to be a people of love. Thank You for being the Giver of all true kindness. We recognize that all kindness comes, first and foremost, from You and You alone. And we thank You. Through Christ our Lord, we pray! Amen! So be it, Lord! AMEN!
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Delight: to please, take pleasure in, revel in, gladness
Hello. My name is Donna Wuerch and I am a recovering chocoholic! I was once addicted to sweet, DELIGHTFUL and delectible chocolate treats – and when eating them, they DIDN'T go to my hips! LOL! The addiction has diminished, though I still enjoy the DELIGHT of an occasional morsel.
One of my earliest kid memories was Mom's chocolate gravy and after Sunday night church, my dad taking me to the little store next door for a chocolate soldier drink. And, then there were the ice cream trucks in my neighborhood that screamed my name. Well, not really, but they sure bolstered my taste buds for a chocolate fudgesicle. So I blame this addiction on my parents. LOL! That only started my addiction -- from there, it was chocolate cake, chocolate candy, chocolate pie, chocolate brownies, chocolate malts.....you can see how my "chocolate" enthusiasm spiraled out of control!
I've never outgrown the DELIGHT of indulging in creamy, dark or light, or white. You're probably thinking "I know somewhere in here Donna has a devotional for us"!! And I do!
The question is "Do our eyes light up in DELIGHT when we hear God's words like these I just quoted? Do our taste buds heighten when we read His Word? Do our eyes light up in DELIGHT when we hear the name of Jesus or when we share that morsel of DELIGHT with someone else? Or has it become a ho-hum routine love affair where the “chocolate” has lost its appeal and the DELIGHT has diminished?"
Oh, that we would spiral out-of-control with our love for our Lord -- to DELIGHT in His presence and rejoice in His love. And, then, with that fresh, new love to spread the Good News to light up and DELIGHT someone else's life.
May we delight in our Savior and may we savor His goodness and mercy to us and then may we share the light of His love--a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement -- and yes, some CHOCOLATE too to those who need His “flavoring” in their lives!
Hello. My name is Donna Wuerch and I am addicted to my Lord and His Word. I pray this addiction only increases until I can’t live without delighting in Him. How about you?
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
All of us have an innate desire to do everything we can to make this life last as long as we can. While we know this life doesn’t hold a candle to what awaits us on the other side in heaven, we, instinctively, want to hang around on this side a little longer, so we try to eat healthy, stay active and think positively.
Along with the weeks of traveling back and forth to Tulsa, with little sleep because of the many hours spent on getting Mom moved and her estate sale completed, I've been needing naps when I drive there and even after I’ve made it back home to catch up on the sleep I lost. In fact, on the way home recently, I had to stop at a Walmart parking lot in Atoka, OK to shut my eyes just a few minutes. When I finally made it home, I didn't even unpack my car. I headed to my bed and took a 3-hour nap.
Fortunately, this season of my life affords me the opportunity to take a little nap every now and then. I remember looking forward to Sunday afternoons when my husband and I would have a sweet nap. That was our only naptime because of our busy work schedules, family and home responsibilities. I’m quite sure God was pleased with our Sunday routine, because, after all, Genesis 2:2-4 says “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” He set the example for us.
Here's what I know. It's okay to have a little time when we can just BE. After all, we were created by God to be human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. I know that many of my younger friends dream of days like this. I was you in my busy working days, wife and little children days -- and now I am here, in these days. You'll be here one day and I urge you to savor these times, because tomorrow can be amped up, full-on, all-out exhaustive days. In between all the hustle and bustle, for our own good and our preservation – we MUST find time to refuel and get ready for firing up for the next call-of-duty.
There are many things to be concerned about in our lives, our family's lives, our city, country and world. How can we REST when there's so much to do for God? After all, we are His hands and feet extended. After all, if we don't go, who will? After all, if we don't take care about this and that, who will take care of it for us? Then, loud and clear comes Isaiah 30:15: “For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel says: in returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….”
Little pull over to the REST AREAS of our lives can PRESERVE our lives for the long run. I've been at this journey of faith long enough to be convinced that in quietness and confidence in God’s faithfulness, we will be renewed and strengthened daily. Maybe it’s time for a little POWER nap – and tap into our POWER SOURCE Who brings us peace and rest – even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
These little photos popped up yesterday because 10 years ago on April 16th, 2008, I became a Facebook user. It was the newest and best tool to connect with friends and family that I hadn’t seen or heard from in years. Then I found it to be painfully ridiculous as I would read posts where people were complaining about their deadbeat husbands or their high energy children or their dog who had left their home in a shambles or were singing that “Somebody Done Me Wrong” song. I didn’t even want to check my page, so I went AWOL with FB.
Then fast forward two years, 2010, when we received my husband’s medical diagnosis of Stage 4 Kidney Cancer. We had been the ones who encouraged and prayed with many people who had serious illnesses. Now, we had to practice what we had preached “Trust God. Live with expectancy of something good getting ready to happen. Throw your hands up in the air and enjoy the ride.” This is when FB became a platform for me to share our faith journey, and in doing so, made sure we were living out what we believed in our hearts...."Nothing is impossible with God" so we expressed optimism, hope, and faith, even though it was the toughest battle we had ever faced in our lives.
Living life out loud on Facebook became a gift to me. I found sweet peace in writing. FB became a place of solace because it connected me to thousands of friends and family members. I needed that connection. I wrote about our faith journey -- conquering and winning through it all -- even his graduation to heaven and to my new world as a widow became a win.
Here's what I know for sure. All those things that seemed so important before, soon became so trivial. My priorities shifted to making moments count more than ever before. Now I know the stuff of life are those everyday precious moments that matter most. Now when I hear people complain about FB and other social media posts being the outlet for people to get depressed, I think “compared to what?” I loved the post of a friend who feels like I do about social media. Here are words she posted a few weeks ago:
So, happy 10 year FB anniversary to me. I daily give God thanks for the privilege of having friends like YOU who indulge me as I proclaim God’s good news in my FB posts. I sincerely believe God has me on assignment each day for these 6:00 am posts. Maybe FB annoys you when you see some of the shenanigans of people and some of the outrageous things they say. On the other hand, like me, maybe God is calling you to be a good news "bearer" that sees FB as a mission field where you can share God's love to a world that needs it so much. Maybe it's your light that will turn off the darkness in their world. So shine, Baby, shine!
"Then He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15) Thanks, FB, for helping to facilitate 10 years of spreading that "good news". I love living in this glass home where others can see my heart for God and His love for all of my FB friends and family AND me!
Monday, April 16, 2018
Matthew 26:26-18 “Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 22:19 “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
I am always overwhelmed in those moments with how much I want to help feed hope and pour love into the souls of those dear people. It's a diverse crowd – culturally, ethnically, young and old -- make their way up the aisle to the “distribution center” to receive a meal of Jesus. Each one comes with a look of gratitude to receive nourishment again of He Who said “As often as you do this, you are remembering me.” I see faces of joy and faces of wonder and sometimes faces with deep furrows of sadness, and I offer up a silent prayer for them to be healed of whatever it is that is troubling them, and at the same time, I am offering to them God -- the ONE Who yielded Himself to become one of us and to be sacrificed as a lamb on the altar, but this one and last time became the sacrifice that takes care of all our failures and shortcomings from now through eternity.
This meal is satisfying, nourishing and never serves up indigestion or heart burn. Well, on the other hand, maybe there is a little heart burn, as when the two disciples said, “"Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" Luke 24:32. Please, Lord, may my heart burn with passion for You as Your heart burned with passion for me enough to give me YOU!
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Both Payton and Alexia have done so well this year! They have both already qualified for Regionals, so Alexia didn’t compete this weekend, but Mr. Aggressive Payton is working on more speaker points so he competed again and did so well -- ranked in six different categories. I know, one day, we'll look back on the preparation they've gone through in their speech and debate tournaments. Without a doubt, they are being prepared for that perfect plan God has for them. These times are preparing the soil for the future harvest!
It would have made no sense for the young shepherd boy, David, to be able to kill a giant with a sling shot. A lion and a bear didn’t look like a Goliath, but they were the perfect instruments of preparation. Seriously, everything is preparation. Every mistake we make is preparation. Every lesson we learn is preparation. Every step of our faith journey is preparation. God uses it all.
One of Payton’s speeches in the category of Original Oratory was “Learning from Adversity”. In it he talked about in his young years when his mother insisted that he practice his piano and those were the years when he’d rather play outside than practice his piano, but his mother would say, “Trust me. One day you’ll be so glad I made you practice.” And Payton said, “Yes, today I am so glad as I teach others to play the piano, and I would never be here today were it not for the times of practice and preparation.
I know God prepared me for the season I am in. Who knew I would be living so on purpose with what I do today….even with these blog posts? Oh, God did – when I was in typing lessons in my high school class; when I became a technical writer for companies that I worked for; when I needed a forum to shout to the mountain tops that “GOD IS FAITHFUL” in the midst of my greatest trials.
The school teacher prepares lessons that will prepare her students for good grades that will help promote them to their next grade and prepare them for life. Most certainly, THE Teacher (our Heavenly Father) knows best about what He is PREPARING for us. When we start seeing our pain as preparation; whatever we’re going through is preparation; whatever is hurting us – is preparation. God is preparing us for what He has prepared for us. It is not failure – it is preparation. Indeed, there is POWER in preparation.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
I started thinking about all the uses of a walking stick. Sure it facilitates walking, but this man’s walking stick could be used as a defensive AND offensive weapon. It also conceals a knife in the handle. That walking stick acts as a support when he’s going uphill and a brake when he’s going downhill; as a balance when crossing rough terrain, test puddles for depth, and is personalized with his trademark. I was amazed at this work of art.
I cringe when I hear people say: "I'm not creative. I can't cook. I'm not an artist. I can't sing. I can't sew. I don’t do technology!” The fact is those folks will never have those attributes as long as they are proclaiming what they are NOT!
"God designed you....to design;
He created you....to create;
He imagined you....to imagine;
God dreamed you....to dream;
When you were born, you were not an ordinary child. Someone made you feel you were ordinary. You are the essence of your Creator. You are the reflection of God, Himself. You are extraordinary. Now it's time to BE the genius He created you to be -- you are both a work of art and an artist at work." -- Erwin Raphel McManus
Yes, our God, the Almighty Creator of EVERYTHING is quite capable of making SOMETHING out of nothing and SOMETHING out of us!
Friday, April 13, 2018
I wondered that last week when my sis and I were selling three tables with leaves at our estate sale. We wondered "Why do they call them 'leaves'?
My word for today is "leaves" -- and I had to do some searching to find the origin. My conclusion is because originally, the first "leaved" tables had a hinged section on the end or ends that could hang down (pictured here), and it's similar to a leaf of a book (pages have been called leaves for a very long time) and because, with a tree, leaves are considered the middle section. When they started putting detachable expansion sections in the middle of tables, they still called them leaves. So there you go, now you and I both know. You're welcome.
I remember as a young child, my mom adding the leaves to the table to accommodate my big brother and his growing family and my sister and her family. And around that table, was laughter, celebration and conversation. I remember at that table, when I was about 8 years old that I called my brother a "queer" (a word that I had heard often at school) and he corrected me and said to never call anyone a "queer" again. Funny, how some things come back to our memory. What I remember most, was that there was always room at that table for friends and family.
I wonder if we are making enough space at our tables these days. What’s more, I wonder if we are making enough space for others in other areas of our lives: our churches, our small groups, our circle of friends. I wonder if we are always making room for more or simply saying, "us four and no more".
How good does it make us feel when we come in late and the table is full -- yet, someone says "Oh, come and join us. We can squeeze in another chair. There's always room for one more!"
What would happen if we had that kind of crazy open table obedience all the time? To seek out those who look, act, and think differently than we do. To implore those who are anything but fine and to care for them with the hands and feet of Jesus.
What if we continued to make space at the table? That is one table where I need to be at. The one that keeps growing and including, adding leaves and mismatched chairs. I want to be the one who scoots over and then scoots over again to make room. I want to be at the table that is in the main business of making space.
We are the body of Christ — made up of all our different, broken, and mended parts. Not only do we need each other, we are made far better by being together. And when we make space for one another, we may just find a lot more room for God Himself to join us at THE TABLE!
Thursday, April 12, 2018
My routine, first thing each morning, is to send a text message to my children, and my sister-in-law. Just a few love words to let them know that I was thinking about them and praying for them. My next morning routine is to go to my office and tap the SEND icon on my Facebook post and PUBLISH on my blog post. Then I quickly scan some of my friends’ activity on FB. Yesterday, I was shocked to see that my wonderful Tulsa dentist, Dr. Mark Tiernan, had passed away. Dr. Mark was a dear friend, amazing and fearless man of integrity and honor, missionary to nations to give his love away while providing his dental skills to those in need and precious man of God. Heaven just got sweeter.
My next routine is to make my way to the fitness center. I sat down at the stationary bike, inserted my ear plugs and turned on the TV. I should have avoided the news, the bickering and the sensational soundbites. I saw Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook’s creator) giving testimony to Congress about the data breaches that have made global headlines in recent weeks. I hope Congress and Mark can figure it all out and get their ROUTINES fixed, because whatever was wrong, FB is my mission field.
It doesn’t take long to deal with my own emotions, hear personal news from family and friends, along with the daily news, that the weight of the world invades my mind. I returned home from my work out and I was bombarded with those weights – not from the gym, but the world. I began to do the ugly cry – for my friends, my family, my world AND ME! I was having one of THOSE mornings. My upbeat, joy-filled, press-on, unwavering, tenacious attitude AND ROUTINE was interrupted with a wave of doubt, unbelief and concern. I was drenched in a puddle of self-pity.
I rushed to my journal, another routine, and I began to write: “My feelings hurt! I’m too sensitive. I’m too fleshly. I'm weary. I feel so weak. Restore my soul, oh Lord. Renew a right spirit within me. Lord, PLEASE HELP ME!” I quickly went to another of my morning routines, my Bible and my devotional booklet. Up popped these scriptures from Psalm 34, and, soon, all was well.
~ “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall ever be in my mouth.”
~ "I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
~ “Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush with shame."
~ “Taste and see how good the Lord is; blessed the man who takes refuge in Him."
Thanks be to God. I could breathe again. I’m so thankful that the Bible goes to great lengths to show us that all the people on its pages were ordinary and average, doing one little thing after another, rooted in trust, grounded in good news, and drenched in fear or hopelessness. Even people like Moses, Noah, Abraham and Sarah had their weaknesses and made their missteps. The only one who rose above it all was Jesus. As for the rest of the people in all the stories of the Bible, God filled them up with His Holy Spirit and breathed life into their ROUTINES, their dreams and their plans, and God, through ordinary people who did ordinary things, made miracles happen that changed the world for good.
Maybe today, your ROUTINE is out of whack. You also long for the “all is well” state of being. Take heart, my friends. All IS well. We just need to keep breathing….deeply. We do our part. We fight the good fight. We keep looking up. We can count on God's ROUTINE...He is ALWAYS faithful.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Satisfy: meet the expectations, needs or desires of someone; gratify, fulfill
I've returned home to Frisco, after a packed-full week in Tulsa, and before that, many trips there and back to get Mom's estate sale all ready to go and completed. Our customer, Mom, was completely SATISFIED with the sale that brought in wonderful opportunities to bless a lot of folks with her lifetime of treasures and with the proceeds that came from the sales that will definitely help with her care and budget. Now, her grandson and family can close on the home, get the house ready to move in to make new memories in that wonderful home. All around satisfaction!
As customers shopping and buying in the marketplace, we shop until we drop and we get home and find that important item we purchased to be defective. We have to return to the store and we get less than great customer service. We wait and wait for a service technician to come and repair something in our home, and when they get there, they don't have the part or don't know how to repair it. We just want to be SATISFIED.
We drink a protein shake as a meal to help with weight loss but within minutes, we’ll say “That meal sure didn’t SATISFY me!”
As employers who are responsible for the products or services they represent, they want and must have respectful, efficient, and trustworthy employees. They want to be SATISFIED.
Let’s be real -- from the Moms whose day-to-day activities are mind-boggling -- feeding kids, running errands, wiping faces and bottoms, checking homework, driving carpool, scrubbing toilets -- to the Dads that work from sun-up to sun-down on a J.O.B. to make ends meet for their growing family -- they want to be SATISFIED with their accomplishments.
In the midst of all of that -- we ALL want and need the Lord to SATISFY us, feed us and make us full before life empties us.
The Psalmist David wrote "Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. SATISFY us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:13-14. That's a paraphrase of Moses’ words when he was pleading with the Lord for relief from those demanding, whiny, difficult people.
Moses gives us valuable insight for how to pray those desperate prayers: "Satisfy us in the morning." He knew about the Lord’s daily satisfaction. Each morning, the Israelites would gather enough manna for the day. They were fed, filled and satisfied by the Lord’s supernatural provision of food in their desert wanderings.
Moses knew the Word of the Lord would give him hope for the day’s struggles with those complaining people. God’s Word would give him patience as he waited. God’s Word would turn his eyes from his day’s circumstances and fix them instead on the character of his Lord.
God's Word is the answer for our SATISFACTION, too. It is powerful – so powerful, in fact -- just reading a small portion of the Bible every day will be like the Israelites receiving the Lord's satisfying care every day, and that's what we need, too. We don't have to read chapters and chapters to sustain us for the week. We just need our daily portion. And just like the Lord was faithful to the Israelites, He is faithful today to all who turn to Him.
Oh Lord, we feel like we are running on empty. We need to be filled, but sometimes we try to fill ourselves with rest, television, social media or food. Nothing fills and prepares us for today’s demands like Your Word. Help us feast daily on Your Word so that we are SATISFIED. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
RACE: a competition/contest/event/heat between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest
It seems the signs of the times are playing me! And, that little out and about walk/jog did my ankle in…..again and it’s back to the fitness center for the elliptical equipment and the stationary bike. All to stay in top notch condition as I run my life RACE! My sweet daughter has been my bike pal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’ve had great girl time talks and it’s become one of my 2-day-a-week favorite times.
I’m quite content with this new pace of my race -- that is, until, out of the corner of my eye, I see a shapely, fit, lean older-than-me "cougar" runner with a smooth, speedy stride that I can hardly fathom AND she’s lifting weights beyond what the men are lifting. Suddenly I feel like the pace of MY race is as slow as the tortoise – not the hare! Have you ever felt the same?
We can so quickly shift from focusing on “the RACE God planned just for us” to comparing ourselves with someone else. And as every runner knows, where your eyes go, your feet (and heart and life) will follow.
The cure to comparing is "fixing" -- fixing our eyes on Jesus and consider all He went through for us. In other words, if we’re going to focus on a path besides our own, then we should think about the ONE that led to the cross. Because that changes everything. Instead of what we don’t have, it reminds us of all we’ve been given. Instead of how we don’t measure up, it reminds us of the limitless grace that is ours. Instead of self-pity, it gives us a reason to lift our hands and hearts in praise. The path to the cross is what enables us to “not grow weary and lose heart.” In other words, it helps us to keep pursuing God’s best for us and it protects us from distraction. It also reminds us that the journey we’re on is not about competition, but completion.
Theirs is NOT my RACE and not my PACE.” As the runner passes me, I repeat this over and over again in my mind. Soon Ms. Speedy Feet is out of sight. I wonder where she’s going, and I smile as I remember where I’m headed. I’m headed HOME – my cozy place of rest and comfort on this side of heaven and HOME where I belong once my RACE is finished. I don’t want to miss out on the goodness God has prepared just for me in this life. Or the next. Even if sometimes I’m a little slower and less graceful getting there.
“Let us run with perseverance the RACE marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1
Monday, April 9, 2018
DIVINE MERCY: God's mercy was given in His covenant as He promised protection, provision, guidance, and His constant presence to His children. Because God is the initiator, the mercy He gives is gracious, unmerited, undeserved, is compassionate and leads to forgiveness, and to the steadfast love that God sustains – in our relationship with Him.
In Psalm 51:1-2, David cried out, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions…” A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we, in no way, have earned. David encountered that mercy after he had relations with Bathsheba and had her husband, one of David's most honorable soldiers killed. God forgiving him, was truly Divine Mercy.
When God forgives us, His ocean of mercy washes over us to wash us clean – through and through. That is Divine Mercy. Think of the mercy of God and Paul. We know Paul was a great evangelizer and wrote much of the New Testament. He led many to Christ, but think about his past. Before his conversion to Christ, he arrested, tortured and killed Christians. That was his job! (If you haven’t seen the new movie “Paul, the Apostle of Christ”, you really should. These words will come to life when you see it.) Paul was paid to gather up those who followed Christ. He participated in the killing of Stephen, the first martyr. He did that a lot. But God showed him mercy and with Paul's cooperation, Paul became one of the great saints of the church.
What could be worse than being a Roman soldier who helped facilitate the crucifixion of Jesus? Longinus was that solider, but during the last hours of Jesus' life He recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus showed Longinus mercy and he, too, became a saint.
Perhaps you know someone who represents a living saint to you -- someone who turned from a life of self destruction or a hard-stoned criminal whose life was turned around because of God’s Divine Mercy. Maybe that is you. None of us need to be defined by our past because Divine Mercy is open to us all. Whether our sins are small or great, the mercy of God is available to all of us. The mercy of God is real! The mercy of God is His love! The mercy of God is the power of the resurrection still working today. You are not your past. Believe in it! Embrace it! God’s Divine Mercy forgives, forgets and even forges the way to becoming all God destined for us in the first place. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”
Sunday, April 8, 2018
I sold an old iPhone 4 at our Estate Sale. Before I displayed it, I went through the process with iTunes to restore it to the
factory default settings so that all my photos, text messages and other personal data was removed. Now, it was all set with a clean slate for a new owners. I was pleased to sell it.
You see Mom in the photo here, sitting at a table and wrapping some of the breakables left over from our sale. Since we sold out of most our items, we were able to cancel yesterday’s "third day" sale, and instead, we boxed up all the leftovers to donate to Teen Challenge. It felt good to know they would be able to sell them in their thrift store and the proceeds go toward rehabilitating young people. Mom insisted on helping us. She was so grateful for what we did to help her get all her "stuff" sold. She woke up yesterday morning with a Plan A for her day. She remembered “Donna and Karen are packing up the leftovers. I can help them!” That has been the DEFAULT SETTING of this little lady for as long as I remember. She was always about helping to get the task at hand – DONE. I just had to take this photo of a this spirited 95-year old.
Here’s how to determine if we need to RESET to our default setting -- the one that God gave us. If a pressured situation occurs, what is your default setting? Would you get uptight? Panic? Angry? Nervous? Hyper? Yell? Act forceful? Or, do you remain calm in the storm? Are you in personal control? Do you rationally assess the situation? Do you stop and take everything into consideration before reacting?
What if gratitude in the midst of every situation, were our default setting? Gratitude helps us to reset our mind to think positive and not negative. Gratitude helps us reset our heart to be fixed on what matters most. Gratitude helps to reset our mouth to speak life and not death, and gratitude helps us to reset our eyes to see the best rather than the worst.
Good news: As operators of our own system, we can override our natural default setting. And, we can help others do the same as we set the example for living in the love setting, the joy setting, the peace setting, the patience setting, the kindness setting, the goodness setting, the faithfulness setting, the gentleness setting and the self-control setting. Hmm! Those settings sound very much like the Fruit of the Spirit, and those are settings that we can purposely reset to the Manufacturer’s (God, the Creator’s) settings. Consciously, developing the habit to RESET when we catch ourselves outside of the Gratitude and Fruit of the Spirit settings….will eventually cause our DEFAULT Settings to be God’s settings consistently. That's what I call growing fruitful from the inside out! Ready to hit that RESET button? I am.
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are made new."
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Ever heard these words "Will you do me a FAVOR?" More than likely they're asking for an act of kindness. Then there's the party FAVOR -- a small gift given to the guests at a party as a gesture of thanks for their attendance or a memento of the occasion. More than any other FAVOR, that I seek on a daily basis, is the FAVOR of GOD aka THE FOG! We pray for God's favor in both good times and bad -- that we'd sense the reality that we're one of God's children, one of God's favorites, and wait expectantly for what God will do for us.
On this "mission" that Karen and I have been on -- we have sought God's FAVOR for the timing and the wisdom on advertising, organizing, among the zillions of other "have to's" to put on an estate sale for our dear Mother. Right from the get go, we were awakened to a sense of divine expectation. Though God always works in our lives in countless ways, revealing so many wonders -- there's just something about living each day with holy anticipation.
For just the ideal person to stop by that needed that one item we had. Or the one little item that completed a set of something or that school teacher going through the Oklahoma Teacher's Strike that found exactly what she wanted for her children, or the next door neighbor who had her five grandchildren this weekend -- and what a great place to take each one, individually, to the sale and give them $5 each to buy what they wanted, or the lady who just HAD to have a freezer quickly, and our ad popped up. Or the Mom and daughter whose washer & dryer were beyond repairs and ours was priced right for them. Or the couple who was in for the Gun Show that just happened to see our signs and stopped by, only to find items they had been looking for.
Really? God's goodness and mercy are following us? His FAVOR is chasing us? Isn't that just like our Heavenly Father -- pursuing us and chasing us with His desire to bless us and do good things for us? It's not just enough to be followed by His goodness and mercy. No, He is relentless in pursuing us -- every single day, and He wants to catch us. So, let's look for Him. We'll surely find Him as we notice those times when God's goodness and mercy catch up with us. Let's slow down enough today.....so goodness, mercy and God's favor can catch us.....and never let us go!
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11
Friday, April 6, 2018
Before Mom's Estate Sale, I sent pictures to my children of “Granny’s Home” unlike any way they could conceive – in complete disarray compared to the pristine way it always looked "on her watch". When Mom and Dad’s home was destroyed by a tornado in 1991, my son, a real estate agent here in Tulsa at the time, found them this wonderful home. How PROVIDENTIAL it was to find the perfect home so quickly that is just five minutes from Karen. The close proximity has been such a blessing to Dad's care when he was so ill, and then Mom’s care after that. When I texted Ryan the photos of our sale set-up, he replied “I’ll never forget walking them through that house for the first time.” Precious PROVIDENTIAL moments.
I'm sure you've heard “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!” Here's a great example. Dad always kept pieces of wood around – just in case he might need a piece for his latest project. To Karen and I, that wood was useless so we placed a $2.00 price tag on the box. A lady, smiling big, brought that box of wood to check out. The junk value to us was $2.00, but to her – priceless. You see – her son is a wood carver – photo here is an example of what he makes out of junk. PROVIDENTIAL!
Best. Gift. EVER. We just think we're giving out of the love we have for others. Then, along comes God and shakes us up with a warm embrace that says...."I am loving through you. You are being my hands extended. You are my ambassadors......even at an Estate Sale that you thought was YOUR idea to help Mom sell her stuff. No. It was MY idea to bless people through you." How's that for "giving and it shall be given"? How's that for helping to make God even more famous through our little efforts? How’s that for God showing up again and again in His PROVIDENTIAL ways?
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Today is Day 1 of our Estate Sale at Mom’s home here in Tulsa (see local ad at Craigslist https://tulsa.craigslist.org/gms/d/huge-west-highland-3-day/6549423053.html Whew! With great DETERMINATION – we made it. We “ate this elephant one bite at a time”. That’s what we always said when Karen and I would take on another estate sale as that was our business for years. Months ago we wondered if this day would ever come because Mom, at 95, was ready to transition from living on her own to moving in with her daughter (my sister in law), Karen, and husband, George.
After Dad passed away, 25 years ago, Karen told Mom “If the time comes when you don’t want to live alone, you’ll always have a home with us (their home for 39 years). Dad helped them add on to their house, enlarging the guest bedroom, adding a huge clothes and storage closet and additional square footage to tha room. Now that bedroom has accommodated their daughter, then their first granddaughter, then years later – their second granddaughter – and NOW, Mom. Dad, as in touch with God as he was (he was a pastor for over 50 years), probably had insider information from God that Mom would live in that room one day. He was DETERMINED to take good care of her.
Now, Mom’s space is filled with her simple needs -- photos of her loved ones, her furniture and furnishings. It is “not too big and not too little – it is just right for this season of her life. There’s a little area for her office, a sitting area, bed and TV area and a huge bathroom attached. She is so secure in her new surroundings. What once was so important (a large home to accommodate family and friends gatherings, Bible studies, prayer meetings, an extra room for guests, Dad’s office where he had many “talks” with those who needed an encouraging word) – is no longer needed in Mom’s new simple, just right world.
Initially, the transition wasn’t easy for her. She didn’t want to be rushed. She wanted to wait a little longer and a little longer, became really longer. Mom had become very weak and feeble so the move had to be amped up. Back then, the home health nurse didn’t think she would be with us much longer, but now that she’s settled in her new space, she has become sassy and frisky and has regained such added peace and joy. The transition that once was because of necessity has become one of great relief. And our DETERMINATION to help her get there, as well as put on this sale, has never wavered. The tasks had to be done and now there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and, thanks be to God – it is God’s light of hope, great expectation and, for Mom – that light is the ONE she will meet face to face and FOREVER be in the home that she was prepared for – for all eternity.
Though it may appear that we're weak during really challenging times....if we hang on with great DETERMINATION....those are the very times that we are being strengthened and empowered, which equips us to be resilient and unconquerable, because we recognize that it is in those times of weakness.....that God is taking over. "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
For 40 days, Jesus proved to His followers that He really had been raised from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul records that Jesus "appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time". Jesus taught His disciples the kind of King He really was. What a sight for sore eyes it must have been to Peter who had denied Him and all the others who hid during His crucifixion. The crux of our faith is based on eye witnesses to our risen Lord. It was one thing to walk and talk with Him before His death, but how AWESOME to have witnessed Him ALIVE again.
What a seminar on biblical teaching and resurrection life that must have been! Imagine being taught about new life, resurrection life, and never-ending life by the One Who had said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. Whoever, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25. Now that's a reason to shout "Hallelujah!" Death on this side of heaven is just our "Forever" life with Him -- just like He said. We'll be like Jesus -- death on this side of heaven is just walking through the walls of heaven to live FOREVER with Him!!
At the end of the 40 days, He ascended to heaven. He couldn't be everywhere at one time, so He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us to comfort, guide, and lead us. He would live in our hearts. Talk about BONUS! God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. All for ONE! And, ONE for all!!!
What does that "seminar" with His disciples have to do with you and me today? First of all, because He lives, we can face whatever this day, and for that matter, what our tomorrows hold. When we watch the news on TV or read about it on social media and hear the gloom and despair of what awaits the world daily, we don't have to be a member of that choir that only sings songs of dread and fear. Honestly, Christ's resurrection is the ANSWER TO EVERYTHING -- past, present AND future. Our God reigns supreme -- over all and that changes our perspective on EVERYTHING.
I'm not a stellar scientific know-it-all, but I know this. When I look up at the night sky and I see the stars and when I am outside on a sunny day and see the beauty all around me and I hear birds chirping, feel the wind against my skin and as I live in such sweet peace that passes understanding, I know it's because my Savior, my King of Kings and Lord of Lords LIVES. One day of celebrations just isn't enough. Let's keep celebrating this miraculous, life-changing season of Easter everyday!
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
I’ve loved seeing the Easter photos of families enjoying their Easter celebrations – their new Easter clothes, dinners and egg hunts. It was hilarious watching my 16 and 17 year old grands hunting for eggs their Mama “rabbit” hid in their back yard. Mom has to strategically identify the colors of the eggs they can find, after all -- competition is ON! Blue & green were Payton’s to find and pink & yellow were Alexia’s. It worked perfectly for each to end up with the same number. LOL! That Easter fun is over, but the crux of the REAL matter of Easter celebrations is still burning in our hearts. We are still in awe of this incredible reason for our faith. Our Lord LIVES and is walking life with us daily!
That is my prayer, too -- that my heart would burn within me at the reality of His unfailing Word and that I would be stirred by His presence in my life daily. Don't you love it when you've read or heard a scripture many times, but then all of a sudden you hear it again, but this time it's like a light comes on and you finally "get it" -- just like those disciples realized it was Jesus with them? This time, it's God's perfect timing for His Word to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway." (Psalm 119:105)
Are you confused, hurting, perplexed or need advice and wise counsel today? Maybe it's time to go for a life-changing "Walk with Jesus" today. I promise you – He’ll be walking with you! As a matter of fact, I’ll see you later – it’s time for my walk!
Monday, April 2, 2018
~ Good News: Something or someone pleasant, fortunate, or otherwise positive. In Christianity, it is the message of Jesus Christ concerning the salvation of the faithful (as elaborated in the Gospels). I love that definition – that means we can wake up each day, and EVERYDAY, with GOOD NEWS!!
~ Spoiler Alert: In a discussion or review of a film, book, television, movie, drama, etc., it is a warning that an important detail of the plot development is about to be revealed.
This photo is of the front of a birthday card I received: "Spoiler alert -- the hero comes back to life". Hilarious! And that's the truth. The guy in the book store has the Bible in his hands -- and the message he's hearing is the Hero – Jesus, rose from the grave and LIVES! The inside of the card said, "Happy Birthday and many happy RETURNS! I loved it when I received it, and I still love the message today, this day after Easter. Spoiler Alert again....There's even more to this "happy ending". Those of us who claim Him as our Lord and Savior will really live forever and ever because our HERO paid the price for us to spend eternity with Him. Now, that's REALLY GOOD NEWS!
I felt that Easter Spirit in church with my Frisco family yesterday. We sang, raised our hearts and hands in joyous praise as we couldn't contain our gratitude for what this day brought us. It meant spending ETERNITY with our Savior. The diabolical plot against our Lord was spoiled by His resurrection and now we can look forward to this Easter joy FOREVER!
It really is a phenomenon that from 12 ragtag men: fishermen, tax collectors, farmers, and a doctor exponentially multiplied to billions of followers throughout the ages. How incredible it is that Jesus never wrote a book yet there are more books written about Him than any other subject in the world. He never composed a song, but there is more music written about Him than any other subject in history. Jesus never painted a picture or carved a sculpture, but there is more art paintings and sculptures made about Him than any other subject in history. Jesus never traveled more than 100 miles from where He was born, and yet, there are followers of Jesus in every nook and cranny of the planet.
The HERO mentioned on this card, really is about GREAT NEWS. It's great news because, when it's understood, we are radically transformed by such indescribable love, peace, joy and so many other benefits that cause us to have a full, vibrant, abundant life on this side of heaven......AND BEYOND!!! Jesus defeated death so we don't have to fear it. We can be certain of our future in heaven, but the best part is while we are still here, God gives so much purpose to our lives.
I don't know who your hero is, but mine still lives.....He walks with me and talks with and tells me I am His own. He lives. He lives. Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives......He lives within my heart!
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Perhaps, today, you are still living in the ashes of remorse, brokenness, depression, unforgiveness and a tomb is holding you back. You are still alive. Go ahead and put your hand over your heart. If it's beating, God has a destiny and mission for you to fulfill. You're here right now, so the resurrection power of Jesus Christ lives big in you. Let Him turn your tomb into a Delivery Room to new life today!
Romans 8:11 "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you!"
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Yesterday was Good Friday when Christ was hung from the cross and bore every sin we've ever committed. He carried every sickness we have had, and will ever have. He gave His life so that we would live forever and ever with Him. That was His promise, but this day after -- the day-in-the-middle -- the day between Christ's crucifixion and His resurrection, His disciples and followers could only think...."It's all over for us! Life will never be the same again."
Those disciples had walked with Him and talked with Him. They had seen His good acts and the many miracles He performed (raising people from the dead, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, forgiving the worst of sinners and encouraging them to sin no more and to love their neighbors AND enemies). Now, Jesus was dead -- as dead as He could be. They had forgotten His 3-days promise. It was all over for them. They succumbed to doubt, fear, and unbelief. Yes, it WAS their saddest day EVER.
But was it really the saddest day? Those of us who understand that yesterday He died for our sicknesses, our sins, and to give us "abundant life" on this earth and our eternal life with Him. The cross, the time in the tomb, and tomorrow's triumphant resurrection changed everything. When someone we love slips from this life, we think they are somehow diminished to ashes and dust. But this is only part of the story. The reality, the hope, the truth is that they are more fully alive and more real than ever before. They are experiencing the results of the eternal life that resurrection gave us.
Our “in-the-middle” day may be where we’re at in our life right now. Maybe it feels like God hasn't come through for us, and never will. Our dreams for tomorrow are in the tomb right alongside Jesus. It seems all hope is gone because a loved one may have died, an illness may be bearing down hard on us, our marriage may seem dead, our financial situation may appear buried. But to those who know the end of THIS LOVE story AND who know the Savior – our hopes, dreams, desires and prayers won’t be dead forever, because Jesus was raised to life on the 3rd day and He came to give us LIFE and life more abundantly (John 10:10). So hold on, my child, in the middle, this day AFTER, it's time to get our hopes up because JOY COMES in the MORNING!
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5.
Friday, March 30, 2018
I've been there, and I know how life can go on. It's because of this day. This is Good Friday, day that should be commemorated with thanksgiving, celebrations, and everywhere we looked were crosses adorned with neon lights, and music and bands playing and choirs singing -- and we'd see people paying homage and offering tributes about what this day means.
On this day, the most scandalous betrayal of justice in human history took place. Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime or sin. After the illegal trials, this loving, giving, compassionate, caring, innocent Man was stripped and tied to a post. He was whipped and beaten -- too horrible to even imagine. He was betrayed by His friends, and spit on by countless people. He was forced to carry a wooden cross to Calvary where nails were driven through his wrists and ankles and He was left to die. He could have called ten thousand angels to his side, but He refused. Instead, He died there for you and me. He loved so we could LIVE!
Remember Him on the cross today...praise Him...thank Him.... worship Him...and give Him your life today, because He gave Himself so completely for you! Then, be a part of the ultimate victory celebration when He arises on "Resurrection Sunday"!!! Good Friday really is so so GOOD!