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, November 18, 2017

A Thankful Heart!

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

I have fond memories of my dad praying grace over our meals, when I was growing up.
Tim's prayers at our dinners bless my heart. My girls learned to pray their prayers at bedtime with honesty and sweetness. Oh, how I enjoy our grandkids' little voices speaking to their heavenly father. Over the years, I've been asked to pray out loud, and I'll be honest, I get nervous. I'm not comfortable leading others in prayer. As a matter of fact, I used to struggle with how I should communicate with the Lord, at all. But I've learned, I don't need to be nervous or shy about prayers. I simply need to go before God with whatever is on my mind. Sometimes I write my prayers in a notebook. Other times, I talk to him whenever a need comes to mind. The truth I know is—God wants to hear from me.

Paul tells the Colossian church to pray with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Even though my words may be simple, I don't want to be distracted when I call up words to Jesus. Instead, I need to be attentive. And I should always go before the Lord with thanksgiving. It's easy to think of what I'm thankful for, with Thanksgiving Day around the corner. But what about next week? Or during the hustle and bustle of Christmas, if I become irritated and tired. What about next year, after the new diet doesn't work out and the scales are stuck? Yep, even then I need to go before God with a thankful heart. What if all is well? Do I stop talking to God? No! I need to shout words of thanks and praise! I am grateful that God has set up a way for us to communicate. I love talking to him and listening for answers. This week as Thanksgiving approaches, give thanks to the Father who loves us and wants to hear from us!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Hebrews 10:10
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

I was honored this week to witness a group of second graders giving respect and
recognition to our veterans. Behind the children a giant flag filled the wall, created by grades K-2. Around the walls, stars hung with names of military men and women inscribed by the kids. On the risers, second graders stood proud to sing about the ones who protect our country. Two of our grandchildren sang with their classmates; "America the Beautiful," "Armed Forces Medley," and "You're a Grand Old Flag." The first graders displayed America's White Table for MIA and POW men and women. The program reminded me how important the militaries' protection is for the very children standing there singing.  I am thankful the schools still teach children to respect the folks in the military and to appreciate their sacrifice.

As I'm thinking about the sacrifice made by the people who fight to keep us safe, I'm reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made for life itself. Jesus gave his life so that we could all have the hope of heaven. I believe in life after death. I know God has prepared a place where we can live with him forever. But I also know, I can't get their of my own accord. No more than I could have my freedom on American soil without the military. Jesus is my only way to eternal life in heaven. He gave his life for mine and yours. I believe with all my heart in Jesus as my Savior. As I remember those who have given their life for freedom, I also remember the freedom Jesus has given me from sin. Praise God for the hope we have in Jesus and the folks who protect our freedom to worship.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cross and Crown

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Sunday morning at church, the worship team led us in a beautiful rendition of "O Come to the Altar" by Elevation Worship. As they strummed guitars and voices rose, I focused on the words. The song talks about Jesus and how he has his arms open to us who may be hurting or searching. The words reminded me that Jesus wants me to come to him and bow down, seeking his love. As I sang along and we came to the end of the song, this line grabbed me"Bear your cross, as you wait on your crown."

That line describes life. Temptation and testing happens every day. The devil never misses an opportunity to poke his ugly fingers into our lives. He'd love more than anything for us to succumb to his wily ways. But that's only part of the story. The second half of the line, "wait on your crown" is overflowing with hope. As I seek Jesus, he shores me up and equips me with the tools to fight back and knock Satan out of my life. Jesus provides resistance and strength. As you bear your cross and wait on your crown, know that Jesus stands with you.
...hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Ephesians 6:16

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The View from Caesar's Head

Psalm 95:4-7
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.

Tim and I drove down to see Hannah in South Carolina. On the way we cruised through the Great Smokey Mountains. As we powered along, I watched the landscape for any signs of autumn. And bears—I always watch for bears. From the highway, we looked over the ridges and felt we were well above the tree-strewn valleys. That is until Saturday, when Hannah took us to a place called Caesar's Head. From our point of view, about 3200 feet above sea level, the scene took my breath away.  A valley, that stretched as far as I could see, housed a vast forest dotted with gold and red. A lake as smooth as glass sprawled between hills. The majestic mountains rose in the distance.

We stood on top of this rock formation called Caesar's Head
Gazing over the beauty, reminded me of two truths from Psalm 95. Number one: Everything was created by and is owned by God. As I stood on the top of Caesar's Head, I saw wonder in God's natural world. I drew in fresh air. I imagined what animals roamed those mountains. (Maybe, a bear or two.) Number two: God watches over me. He cares about me and loves me just as I am. I needed that reminder, because sometimes I forget or take for granted our incredible Lord. He has more love than we can imagine, and he wants to pour that out on us if only we seek him.

Let us come to him with thanksgiving. 
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.



                                      -Psalm 95:2

Friday, October 20, 2017

Two Ears and One Mouth

James 1:19-20
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

I have a confession. Sometimes—I lose my temper. Unfortunately, that's a true statement. The weird thing is, I am usually at work when this happens. And almost every time, someone has told me something and instead of listening and thinking about their words, I let my mouth fly open. "Why did this happen?" "Why did that happen?" "That's not fair!" The one not being fair might be me, because I don't know the whole story. Yet God does, and he sees my behavior. I have proof—last Friday I was feeling bad about something I'd spouted, so I prayed. The next morning, in my Bible app, the verse of the day was James 1:19.
from commons.wikipedia.com

God knows my thoughts and my heart so well, I'm thinking he knows yours too. That's why I'm sharing this. James is a smart man, the brother of Jesus, and an inspiration to me. I love the book of James. Evidently, I need to read it more to remind myself of God's truth. When I read the verse on my phone, I was reminded of something I used to tell my elementary students at storytime. We have two ears and one mouth. We need to listen more than we talk. Sounds like I need my own advice.

On Monday morning, when I returned to work I taped a copy of James 1:19 on my computer. That little verse has been a great reminder, and practicing the wise words has given me a better week. What's God trying to tell you? Do you need a visual reminder. So far that method has helped me. Consider God's wisdom, it's the most amazing life transformer I know.