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, July 29, 2016

Let There Be Peace

Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

This week I don't have any fun stories or beautiful descriptions of nature. Instead God has set on my heart the desire to write about what it means to have a change of heart. Much of what I see on television, read in newspapers, and click through on social media tell stories of sadness, violence, negativity, name-calling, and frustration. People ask when will this stop? What can be done to change the darkness that surrounds society?

The Bible tells me that the world will have unrest. We'll deal with sorrow and violence. But the words of Paul show me change can be made. Not by a bunch of people who sit around and discuss their differences, but by people who have a change of heart. When Christ rules the heart—truly takes over and moves in—the heart is filled with peace. Kindness abounds, love rules, and people care. Until we hit our knees, ask God for forgiveness, then turn our lives over to Jesus the darkness of the world will win. The only answer is Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. And he promises eternal life.

As for me, I gave my life to Jesus many years ago. Because he fills me with his Spirit, I aspire to show kindness and be a positive influence. I love the Lord and I ask him to work through me to make a difference. Who's with me?

Praise you Lord for your Son and the believers who are the church!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Chasing the Light?

1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

As a child I remember chasing lightning bugs on a warm summer evenings with my cousin Rusty. Before we wandered into the yard, we'd punch holes in the lid of an empty mayo jar and add grass to their "nest" so the little creatures could breath. Then we'd scamper after them and lure them into our hands. We loved the way the magical glow from their blinkers lit up our rooms at night. 

Lighthouses give off a different kind of light. One of warning. One the sailors didn't want to chase, but instead steered away from. Their glow sliced through the black skies and gave a signal to turn away.

Light can be a guide and a warning. The sun's brilliance illuminates our days. The radiance of a streetlamp shines on a path for safer passage. The flame of a candle embodies peace. The warmth of a fire gives comfort. As a follower of Jesus, I've been given the Holy Spirit as my light. He illuminates the way and leads me. Like a lighthouse, he beams a warning to send me away from sin. He pours the warmth of comfort over me and draws me nearer to God. Like a lightning bug, I want to chase him to capture the glow of hope that is Jesus. Praise God for his light in a dark world.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sandy Beach or Rocky Shore?

Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine [Jesus] and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

In the course of a day we walked on a sandy beach and stood upon a rocky shore. In the afternoon as my foot touched the warm sand on one of Lake Erie's beaches, the tiny grains shifted beneath my feet. I had to make an effort to keep my balance. I scooped a handful of sand and let it sift through my fingers. Each bit sprinkled to the shore and was washed away by the tide. Beautiful but not a solid foundation.

Later in the evening, Tim and searched for the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. We found huge rocks along the shore of the lake. As we climbed out to secure a place, the boulder I stood on felt solid under my feet. Waves crashed against the rocks, but we stayed put, in place, safe from the stormy water. From our safe spot we viewed orange, pinks and blues as the sun dipped down.

As Jesus told the story of where to build a house— on sand or on rock, he wanted his listeners to understand they needed a solid foundation for their faith. He was asking, "Will your faith shift like sand and be pulled out from under you? Or will your faith have a well-built foundation, strong, durable in times of trouble, secure?" Jesus cares about our faith. His desire is that we have a faith as solid as a rock that can't be moved. He wants us to be certain that our faith will stand up against the difficulties of life and give us confidence to serve him. I'm thankful that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, God instilled the Holy Spirit in me so I would have a solid foundation, a reminder of my faith, a guide in life. I've built my faith on the solid rock of Jesus. I love him and he loves me. Praise God for Jesus Christ!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Rock

Psalm 9:9-10
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

As I got out of the car, I noticed the dark clouds looming. I'd heard on the radio that a thunderstorm was heading my way. Just after I ducked into a store to shop for bargains, the rain burst from the clouds while lightning and thunder ripped the sky. I was content to be in the shelter of the store as the downpour let loose.

As we live on this old earth, we face a lot of storms. Personal, spiritual, global. So many negative occurrences happen every day. Bad news, sad events, troubling times. Sometimes I want to crawl in bed and cover my head. But I can't. I have to live in the world. But, instead of hiding in my bed, I find shelter in my God. He's the true refuge, the secure harbor, the safe place to rest my heart. God is the safe haven in the midst of distress. Praise God for always being the rock in the storm.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gifts from the Master

2 Chronicles 2:13-14
“I am sending you a master craftsman named Huram-abi, who is extremely talented.  His mother is from the tribe of Dan in Israel, and his father is from Tyre. He is skillful at making things from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and he also works with stone and wood. He can work with purple, blue, and scarlet cloth and fine linen. He is also an engraver and can follow any design given to him. He will work with your craftsmen and those appointed by my lord David, your father."

Throughout my life I've tried my hand at several different crafts. I've enjoyed most of them but none as much as embroidery. It broke my heart when arthritis started dominating my hands. Mostly the base of my thumbs. So I gave it up for awhile. In the interim I had a co-worker ask me about the how-tos. She wanted to learn a few stitches. I loaned her my books and gave her a few pointers. She did a great job, but as I looked at her work and that of others, I realized how much I missed running the floss through fabric to create beauty.

Long story short, I went to a hand doctor and got a cortisone shot that allows temporary relief so I can hand sew, again. When I showed my coworker the embroidery I'd been working on she gave me the best compliment. She called me a master of the craft. The truth is, the Master of life gave me the ability to stitch beauty out of thread and fabric. When we're born, God instills in us the talents we use throughout life. I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to develop my craft or master it, so to speak.

God has given each person gifts and abilities to use to serve others and Him. I appreciate the talents God has given me, in hand crafts and other areas of my life. I encourage you to take some time and discover your strengths. Explore your gifts and develop your passion. God created you as a unique soul with a purpose. Praise God for giving everyone different abilities and skills.