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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stand Like a Deer


Psalm 18:30-36
As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

On my way up the driveway, to the college where I work, a deer stood in the middle of the pavement. I stopped the Jeep and watched her. In slow motion, she sauntered off the drive and headed toward the forest. Just before I pulled away, she seemed to nod at me, then take off at a run. The next day, in the same spot, she stood along the road, while another one sipped water from the pond. We often see wildlife on campus, but I don't think I'd seen the deer two days in a row. But the sightings didn't stop there. The next day, I walked to the Westwood building where the windows look out over the woods. Lo and behold (I say that with amazement) a doe preened her fawn.

Seeing the deer reminded me of the verses King David penned in Psalm 18. Even though the deer in Ohio don't have mountains to climb, mule deer in the Rocky Mountains climb like mountain goats. They're sure-footed and able to make their way up a steep path. David claims that God gave him the balance and ruggedness of a deer, with the ability to take to a path without his ankles giving way. David's words tell me that God equips me to meet my needs. Too often I fear that I don't have the talent I need to complete a task, or the words to write, or the wisdom to understand. I imagine God is probably shaking his head at me, saying "Silly woman, I'm giving you all you need. I always have and I always will." Yes he has, and he will. My unfounded doubts lead me to worry when there is no need.

David, considered a mighty warrior, composed these words before he went to battle. He knew he needed God and God prepared him. We go to war every day against the enemy. Satan creeps around every corner and slings doubt and fear at us. But God has given us the weapons we need to fight him off. Like a deer, I'll climb up the mountain away from Satan and make my way to stand close to Jesus. Praise God he watches out for me.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blessed to Work


1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12
Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

My dad shared his wisdom through words more than his actions. He taught my siblings and me to be responsible and have a solid work ethic. How did he do that? He set the standard by working hard himself. By trade he was a welder. But he was also a man who could fix most anything. I remember when Tim and I purchased a house that needed a lot of fixing, I came home from work and found him and my daughter, Hannah, on the roof repairing the shingles. He was in his seventies. After I finished freaking out a little, he assured me he was fine and not to worry. He went back to his work and patched up the roof.
I'm thankful I learned to work hard. Both Dad and Mom taught us to be responsible and respectful. Not just in our daily labor, but in the work we do for Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4 is one of my favorite passages. I've been a crafter for years, and I work on the computer every day. So I've literally worked with my hands my whole life. In leading a quiet life, I hope I've blessed others as I've labored for Jesus. In Thessalonians, Paul is telling the people not to rest on their laurels, but to continue in their daily work and their efforts for the Lord. I pray we can instill responsibility and respect in younger folks, so that they will learn the value of hard work, both in their jobs and in loving Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Like a Baseball Team

1 Peter 4:10-11
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 

My grandson, Zeke, stood on the pitcher's mound. At eight years old his excitement for the game of baseball shined. As the inning progressed Zeke and the first baseman made a great play to get the runner out. All the young men on the team filled different positions throughout the game. As they ran and hit and caught the ball their skills increased. I witnessed them finding their potential and strengths.

My other grandson on the team, Eli, shows the gift of encouragement. He cheered Zeke on as he pitched. Another young man, A.J., shows compassion for his teammates. The boys are not only learning the game of baseball, they are realizing their gifts.

Watching Zeke and Eli on the field reminds me of God's plan for people. Everyone of us has God-given gifts. Some are speaking, serving, being hospitable, and so many more. Each one of us has a reason for being, a purpose. One of my gifts is encouragement, which led me to write my blog. Through that gift I reach out beyond myself, follow God's heart, and give a bit of joy and hope to anyone who reads the words.

God creates each of us with our own passions and he gives us the tools to pursue them. If we pray, read God's word, listen, and pay attention, God reveals to us how to use the gifts he's filled us with. Then like a baseball team, we work together for God's kingdom—each of us in our position, ready to commit to the team. Are you on God's team?

What's your gift? I'd love to know.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Life Long Foot Race

Acts 20:22-24
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."

Kati sprinted up the slight grade on North Sandusky Street in Delaware (Columbus). She'd already trekked over six miles and had six plus to go to reach the half-marathon mark of 13.1 miles. Along with Kati and many other runners, a group of people accompanied individuals who couldn't run the course by themselves. These inspiring people pushed their friends' wheelchairs and helped them finish their race.

As I sat along the side of the street and witnessed runner after runner complete the course, Paul's words in Acts came to mind; "my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." All Paul wished to do was finish his service to Jesus, the race of his life. As a follower of Christ, I am right there with Paul. But sometimes I need someone to run alongside me.

I can't quite wrap my mind around running so many steps at one time. Even though I'm not able to physically run anymore, I can support my family and friends who do. With positive words and just being present to boost their spirit, I can support and cheer. Just like Paul who depended on his friends to help him to the end of his race, we need each other's encouragement and the Holy Spirit's urging to stay the course and cross the finish line. The race we run for Jesus is filled with obstacles. But with a little help from our friends and sustenance from God's word, we can finish the race "of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." One step at a time wins!
Who can you encourage this week?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Stinky or Pleasant, What's Your Scent?

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Sometimes the world stinks, literally. Like when we drive past Mount Rumpke, the local
trash dump, along the highway. The odor is too much. I pull the neck of my shirt over my nose just to drive by. And how about the smelly perfume or aftershave that's been poured on the man or woman you sit next to at a restaurant. A little goes a long way.

For years I grew herbs in my flower beds. Not so much to cook with, but to inhale the lovely smells. Herbs have an earthy, natural scent that not only refreshes me, but reminds me of the goodness of Jesus. Chives and garlic, with the purple tufts on top of their long slender green stems, give of an odor of strength and protection. People use garlic to ward of colds and illness. The refreshing fragrance from those pretty seed heads on dill remind me of bursts of joy. Then there are the spicy herbs like oregano that give a boost, encouragement, and enthusiasm. My favorite of all the herbs, lavender, produces a scent that fills me with a peace beyond my comprehension, much like the peace Jesus pours over me when I believe no peace can be found.

As Jesus followers, we leave a distinct odor in our path. Whether a smelly garbage dump or a lovely scent of peace and encouragement. When Mary, Martha's sister, went to Jesus she had a desire to fill the room with the most beautiful scent she had available to her. She took the most expensive perfume, usually saved for burial, and poured it over Jesus feet. The love she poured out with the oil created a lasting scent of dedication to her Savior.

What fragrance or odor do you leave behind? A stink or a pleasant reminder of faith in Jesus?
Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.