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, July 26, 2014

Courage to Survive

Job 33:4
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

I jumped and held my breath when the sirens blared and the lights flashed. That was the speaker’s purpose. She wanted me to understand when faced with a threat, I freeze up. She’s right, I took a breath and held it. The blood rushed to my heart and caused my hands, arms, feet and legs to turn into noodles. Debbie Gardner of the Survive Institute spoke at the staff retreat. Her excellent advice on overcoming fear with courage could save my life. If I’m threatened by someone intending to cause harm, I need to breath, inhale and exhale. If I can escape, go. If I can’t, grip my hands in fists to keep the circulation flowing, then step back to create space between me and the attacker. Instead of focusing on fear, focus on the people I love and want to live for to stir the courage to yell “No!” and/or go for the throat. If all they want are valuables, give them the purse. If they want your life, go for the throat, with a water bottle, marker, keys, my hand, whatever works to stun them. Then run, call 911 for the police and an ambulance.  

Debbie’s instruction addressed physical threats and the importance of being prepared mentally in a crisis. But what about spiritual threats and attacks. How do I prepare for those? Job was attacked over and over and he continued to inhale. He knew God authored his life with his breath. When I am attacked by Satan, I need to take in the breath of God. To escape, I want to turn away from the temptation and run the other way. That creates space between me and the problem. If he keeps coming after me, I will shout “No!” and focus on the people I love and don’t want to harm by my actions. Then I go for the throat or as I like to picture in my mind, poke him in the eyes with spike heels. Yes, I actually think this sometimes. It my way of saying, “get thee behind me Satan.”
I praise God for people like Debbie who care enough about other people to instruct, and I praise him for the life he’s breathed into me.

To read more about the survive institute, go to

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Tim and I wandered around the IKEA store a week or so ago. If you’ve never been there they are a huge furniture store, originated in Sweden, they sell ready to assemble furniture in fun styles. Unlike other stores, IKEA sets up complete rooms of furniture. We strolled through living rooms, bedrooms, amazing kitchens and even bathrooms. The employees set up visually appealing interiors to grab the buyer’s attention. Of course the furniture is attractive and inviting, but they represent a house, not a home. There’s no personal touch, no heart.

Without the heart, the designs look nice, but have no personal appeal, no depth of character. They lack individuality. God created every person with heart. Not just the one that pumps blood through the veins, but the heart that overflows with joy and aches with pain. The part of us that rips apart when tragedy strikes or oozes with love at the sight of a newborn baby. The creator knew we’d need to protect our hearts from evil in the world, temptation, and the frozen diffidence of not caring. Proverbs warns us to guard our hearts. Protect them from the things of the world that make them hard and cold. Instead shore the heart up with Bible verses and prayer, positive conversations, and hugs so that good things flow from it. Praise God for wanting us to have loving and peace-filled hearts.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Worry, Trust God

Matthew 6:28-34
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Every July I’m delighted by the flowers in the fields. God sprinkles black-eyed Susans, chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, and orange tiger lilies along the roadways and in the fields.He dresses them up for summer with blooms wrapped in splendor. The rainbow of petals reminds me that God meets my needs. If he cares that much about the flowers, he cares even more for his people.

Yet some days I find myself drowning in worry? Why? Satan wants me to doubt God and his generous spirit. He wants me to take on the burden of worry so that I’ll no longer trust the Lord. But, worry empties joy from the day and steals peace. And it’s exhausting. Instead I choose to trust God, who time and again has met every need. Today I celebrate my 57th year of life. I have much to be thankful for, a wonderful husband, beautiful family, a church I enjoy, great friends, a good job, but most of all a Savior who loves me more than I can imagine. Praise God for his love and care.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Truth Will Set You Free

John 8:31-36
….Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 

I am thankful I live in America where I can worship God without government interference or worse—persecution. Without that freedom, I couldn’t write my devotions every week and send them into web world. Corporations like Hobby Lobby have an opportunity to defend belief. Churches meet as often as they desire. I pray with all my heart the freedom I enjoy doesn’t disappear.  

If I ever had to worship in secret, be persecuted in public, or die for my beliefs I know that I am still free in Jesus. His truth has set me free. Only through repentance and total surrender to God do I have total freedom. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Pray with me for those folks who live in countries where the government dictates belief and for people who have not heard Jesus' truth. I don’t ever want to take the freedom I have for granted.

Happy 4th of July!