For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Friday, March 17, 2017

When I'm not at Liberty to Speak

Psalm 19:14
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My co-worker, Natalie and I presented at a library staff conference this week. We'd been working on the PowerPoint and ideas for a few weeks. But I felt I lacked something. I wasn't quite grabbing the baton for my part of the program. Yet, I moved forward and gave the attendees encouragement in the world of library technical services. I thought maybe I fell short because I was nervous or tired. Although the evaluation sheets reflected satisfaction with the program. Still, I couldn't shake the dissatisfaction I felt in my heart. Then it hit me...

I'm enthusiastic about libraries and information. But compared to my love for Jesus, everything else pales. Without the freedom to include words about God and salvation in my talk, I left feeling empty. But that's how it is in the world. There are times when I will be in front of others, and I won't be at liberty to speak of the Jesus I love. But I will be able to show God's love, through encouragement and compassion. I may not be able to quote scripture, but I can speak with a love in my heart to the people God created. You see, it's not always the words that give a resounding message. My actions show others what Jesus already knows is in my heart. Was I kind, encouraging, peace-filled, joyous, gentle and self-controlled? I hope so.

When the woman caught in adultery was taken before Jesus to be condemned, instead of spilling out a string of words, he knelt and wrote in the dirt. He didn't find the need to spew out what he believed, instead he showed patience and gave no condemnation. How often are people watching instead of listening. Most of the time.


Whether an opportunity to speak or a chance to share, I pray the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart are pleasing to God. Praise God for his guidance in all things.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lord of All Creation

Jeremiah 10:12-13
But God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Last week Tim and I stopped by Kroger to pick up groceries. As we drove around the parking lot to find a space, I looked into the field in front of the store. I was appalled. Litter tugged against the green sprouts of spring. Pop cans, food wrappers, and water bottles rolled around in the wind. Why on earth did anyone let that happen? I understand that sometimes a piece of paper might fall out of a cart or car. But good grief, it looked like someone dumped their trash out and let it fly.

God created an incredible place for us to live. The oceans, plains, mountains and the changing seasons. Spring should bring the beauty of the daffodils and forsythia, not garbage in the field. I appreciate God's creation and love being out in the woods or by the water. But mind you, I don't worship nature, instead I worship the Creator of all the wonders of the earth. The people in Jeremiah's time struggled with idols in nature. They bowed down to the sun and the moon. If any weather seemed like a threat, they thought they were being punished and shut down all their work to tremble in fear. But they had it all wrong. God gave us the earth and all the natural resources to use and appreciate. In turn, he expects us to take care of all creation. I thank God for this earth and pray we teach the next generation to take care of our world. Praise God for his creation!

Here is God of Wonder by Chris Tomlin. Love this song!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

In the Palm of his Hand

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Batavia sits in a small valley surrounded by low-lying hills. Just enough hill to cause a cozy, tucked-in effect. But on Thursday morning, the atmosphere seemed anything but cozy. The radio called for thunderstorms and a threat of tornadoes. As I drove through the center of town I watched the sky. Dark clouds billowed toward our little town. As I moved west, the clouds pushed east. The sky darkened as the clouds rolled. Lightning lit up the outline of the hills after thunder crashed through the air. We were in for a deluge. As I pulled in to my parking spot and jumped out of the Jeep the huge drops of rain, that come just before a downpour, accompanied me to the door. After I entered the building, rain let loose and poured in sheets. The wind ripped through and shoved water across the parking lot. The storm arrived with no mercy.


Sounds like life, doesn't it. Except there are not always warnings. Instead the thunder and lightning of life takes us by surprise. Illness, death, loss of job, divorce, broken friendships, disappointment, and on the tempest rolls. It's heartbreaking. But in the midst of all the storms there's hope! My brother sings a beautiful hymn that reminds me of God and his love, "‘Til the Storm Passes By." The lyrics are a prayer seeking God's protection in the midst of turmoil. The vocalist asks God to hold him in the palm of his hand. And that's exactly what he does. He hears our cries and wraps his arms around us, lifts us up and sees us through. No matter how dark the clouds, or heavy the rain, God offers peace and joy on the other end. He is our hope in every storm. Praise God for his endless love and provision.

Friday, February 24, 2017

You Might Be Surprised

Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus loves people. It doesn't matter who they were, where they came from, or their occupation. He took the time to sit down with the folks he met, get to know them and share with them the His Story. Yes, he talked to them about salvation because he loved them. Back in his day, tax collectors we're often cheaters who stole money for themselves from the collected taxes. They were pretty much low-lifes in the eyes of the community. And you can bet, the religious leaders of the day didn't bother to even say hello. Yet Jesus sat down at the table with Matthew.

Tax collectors weren't the only ones Jesus befriended. His disciples were a bunch of regular guys who were sometimes a bit clueless and smelled like fish. But he loved them and taught them about the new kingdom, his kingdom and his sacrifice. Then there were the women. Mary Magdalene had been filled with demons. Jesus cast them out of her, and she followed him. He loved children and protected them. He loved older people, sick people, and sinners. Jesus wasn't a push-over. He was a care-taker, one who wanted the best for everyone he met. And that best is salvation. So you might be surprised who the Lord hung out with. It wasn't the kings or queens, rabbis or teachers. Oh he spoke with them, too. But he spent his precious time on earth with regular people. Like you and me. And he still wants to, through us.

He invited regular old Joes and Janes to take up the cross and follow him. He included the lame, the lepers, and the dying into his fold. He healed and loved. Knowing how Jesus cared for people, how can I do any less? It's hard for me because I'm not exactly a people person, yet God puts folks in my path and says love them. With his help I do.


How about you? Who has Jesus called you to love? Who has he asked you to share his story with?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Be Found Faithful!

Acts 7:55-56
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Jesus' disciple Stephen had preached without fear about his beloved Savior. He spoke with conviction and determination. The people who served in the Sanhedrin, a ruling body of the government, didn't like Stephen's message, so they stirred the crowd and had the young man stoned to death. Stephen wasn't afraid to die. He trusted God and he loved Jesus. He was called to be faithful and he was. Right up until the end.

Even in death, Stephen's faith made him a winner in life. He chose to follow the King, despite suffering. Because "a follower who suffers, doesn't lack faith." As our minister, Didi, preached those words about Stephen last Sunday, my husband passed me a note. The message he shared reflected Stephen's story. His note said, "Our life will never be lived in vain when we are a follower of Jesus. God has a plan for us & will use our life of faithfulness to touch & change the hearts of others."


That's right. No matter how much we hurt, how much difficulty life throws at us, or how much sadness a day may bring, faith will carry us through, because Jesus surrounds us, his Spirit fills us, and God sees us. "It's not about the pain-it's about seeking Jesus." (Didi Bacon) Replace fear with faith and go for the win. Stephen saw the King on his throne. He knew his destination, and his faith held fast, even as he was being destroyed. We're called to be faithful not perfect. Praise God for his glorious grace!