Treasure

27 Jan

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

Matthew 6:19-20

T ry to

R emember

E ach time

A

S pecial blessing comes

U nto you.

R ealize it is a gift from our

E verlasting God!

AMEN.

1 through 10

25 Jan

1 little prayer uttered at dawn

2 little worries already gone

3 special thoughts shared with love

4 messages heard from above

5 joyful images came my way

6 comfort notions launched the day

7 thankful thoughts entered my heart

8 images of grace set me apart

9 times I shared a thankful word

10 times returned was love from the Lord.

Vision

23 Jan

The hymn below was written in the 1800’s. It has ancient Irish heritage and was translated and given verse and music by Mary E. Byrne and Eleanor H. Hull. It speaks of God’s influence in our lives. It almost suggests God as a goal so we may seek truth and wisdom over riches and perhaps we will recognize God’s ways are the best ways. The message is clear: Teach us Lord, to love you, learn from you and let you always be our guide. The lyrics are shared below. Thanks for letting me borrow words from someone else today. They are beautiful!

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

AMEN!

Gentle? Quiet?

20 Jan

“A gentle and quiet spirit…is very precious in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:5

Oh dear! Is that me?

That quote listed above was taken from my daily calendar. It reflects language in the translation of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. The words startled me and caused some self reflection.

There are many things about myself that are not always gentle and quiet. I like to talk and in a group discussion I like to chime in boldly and often.

I am a public speaker and do not shy away from what might be a touch of the limelight. I have a strong voice that as I teach my classes, can be heard down the hallways of our building.

Loud and proud? Hmmm….does that conflict with the notions of gentle and quiet?

On the other hand, if my words are not hurtful, if my words speak truth, if my tone reflects the person God made in me, is that so bad?

Psalm 139:14

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

1 John 3:2

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

If I bear God’s likeness and speak the message with a big voice and a strong countenance, I see value in that. I will pray that my loud and proud nature is pleasing to my creator, that I will use my voice and my personality to bring the world some good.

Jeremiah 31:3

18 Jan

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:13

Such a powerful message to dissect!

The Lord has LOVED us. (Not sort of or kind of, but God truly loves us!)

That love is EVERLASTING. (Not maybe or “for now,” or with conditions, but rather it’s forever and it is true.)

God has DRAWN us…pulled us in, reined us in heart to heart–always tugging us toward such a timeless and precious love.

UNFAILING KINDNESS is there for us, and God’s appearance in our lives is something to be looked for, expected and cherished. There will be no chastisement, guilt nor shame. God’s sacrifices and grace erase all that!

Lord God, open my heart mind and soul to be available to you just as you are available to me. I pray this in Jesus’ heavenly name. AMEN.

Empowerment

16 Jan

E veryone

M ay see the

P roof that God’s work

O overshadows

W hatever we are facing.

E verything we experience

R elates beck to God’s

M eaning and

E xcellence

N o matter

T he task.

Embrace God’s guidance, grace and gifts today!

Hearing Voices

13 Jan

Now this is a tricky topic! Do you hear voices? Some hear the voices of their parents from childhood days throughout their lives. Some hear the voices of political proponents and that guides some choices. Some hear the voices of friends whose influence can be great and some hear the voices of social media and either heed and bend or holler and run the other way.

And… some march to the beat of their own drum and hear their own voices within.

Then there is THE voice above all voices–the voice of God.

I ask myself, will I hear that voice when it comes to me?

Will I recognize it?

Am I open to it?

What will it sound like?

Have I imagined hearing it?

Has it come to me and I missed it?

Lord, open me to your words, your ideas, your blessings, your grace on this day and throughout the new year. And, Lord, if by chance I am not attentive and not listening to your wisdom, nudge me that I might open my ears and eyes to you. AMEN.

Let There Be Peace

11 Jan

P raying for

E veryone to find

A bundant love and

C are in the New Year!

E xpect it!

You are the Best

9 Jan

I just saw a quote on a calendar that stated this:

“You are God’s very best idea.”

Wow! What an affirmation for the person you are!

I know you may not feel perfect. I am aware that you doubt some of your qualities and bemoan some as well.

I DO TOO!

That is normal–our human nature causes us to feel those feelings. We do not like ourselves on some days. We wish we had handled situations differently on other days. We wish for wisdom when we fail to see it. We want it all!

But God says, “Wait and hear my words.”

Psalm 139: 14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Dear God, I want to know you. I want to know what you think of me. I want to be the best creation you put forth all those years ago when I arrived in this world. Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful creation you made in me. And help me do justice to your work. AMEN.

What Does This Mean?

6 Jan

“Whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26

I am a good person.

I try to follow rules, see kindness in others, show care to others, speak with thoughtful words etc…

Perhaps you may even see yourself that way…honest, true, caring, sincere.

There are many positive words we can use to describe ourselves.

Admittedly though, I am not “all that” all the time. My human nature takes over at times and I may fall to rudeness, impatience, judgment, and a cavalier attitude.

THAT is why we need the Lord.

How in the world can we walk a path of wisdom by ourselves?

I do not have enough strength to do so. Do you?

I need reminders and nudges and a push from time to time to handle life well.

But everyday brings a new adventure in faith and “FOLLOWSHIP.”

I just made up that word to describe the journey of following God’s path, will and plan.

In a second glance at the Proverb, I still must ask, “What does this mean?”

To sort this out I shall start with followship!

Where’s God?

4 Jan

Where IS God…

When a baby cries.

When a parent weeps.

When the unthinkable happens.

When a diagnosis is frightening.

When loneliness is present.

When a loved one is gone.

When frustration is at the helm.

When there is nowhere to turn.

Be patient. Keep listening. Wait your turn. Trust.

God is in the midst.

Where Did it Go?

2 Jan

True confession! I used to say many variations of that statement when my children , much younger than they are now, would come to me and want to know where something was. It was a shocking question if:

–it was a piece of art that had once been on the fridge

–it was a broken toy that I deemed no longer worthy to keep

–it was something in general that I deemed no longer worthy to keep

Sometimes when you answer a question with another question it frees you from the uncomfortable conversation pending.

But that question in the title can be an inquiry for lots of stuff!

Where did my motivation go?

Where did our church congregation go?

Where did longevity in appliances go?

Where did those jeans that used to fit go?

Where did _____________________ go?

(your turn)

Why do we mourn change?

Why do we grieve when things go missing?

Why aren’t we open to newness, to difference to evolution?

Why are we slow in our acceptance?

God asks us to be patient with change and open to what may come.

This is not an easy task for most of us who “like things the way they are!”

God says, “Seek and you shall find.” This applies to newness and change!

Hmm….something to work on in the new year.

change bible verses

Getty Images

change bible verses

Getty Images

change bible verses

Getty Images

A New Year Blessing (with reminders)

30 Dec

May you enter 2023 with good health.

If that is not so, may that evolve for you soon.

If you make a resolution, may you keep it.

May you have time with loved ones throughout the year.

May your work be rewarding.

If retired, may that be rewarding, too.

May you have memories of the past to reward you .

May difficult memories fade for you.

May you have goals to reach and things to do.

Or if you prefer solace and silence, may it be so.

I hope a friend surprises you soon.

Perhaps you will surprise a friend.

Remember being a year older is not a bad thing.

Remember life throws curves, so be ready.

Remember there is no trouble that God can’t handle.

Remember it is God’s time not our time that matters.

Always know God is at your beck and call.

God listens.

May God’s love carry you through the new year and beyond.

Who’s Really in the details?

28 Dec

Have you heard that comment, “The Devil is in the details?”

This usually suggests that the details of the situation or the little issues around the situation may be worse than the situation itself.

I ask, “Is the Devil in the details?”

I prefer to think that God is in the details.

God is currently with a 99 year elder in the hospital getting the once over after a Christmas Eve fall.

God was in the midst of families everywhere who had to experience a first Christmas without a loved one.

God is with a couple of older ladies I know of recovering from the ever- present Covid.

God was with my friend who spent hours of the recent blizzard in her running car with her dog for warmth until help could arrive. Her home had no power.

God has been with a friend and her family as her husband and dog stayed behind in a house without power also during the blizzard.

God’s mark was on my friends’ plans as they traveled to another city before the blizzard got its start.

God’s spirit was in our two pastors’ hearts as they put together online worship in a moment’s notice for a congregation who due to weather was not allowed to drive to church.

It may have seemed like a series of devilish things were going on around the weekend of Christmas, but all along God was and still is in the details.

White Christmas

26 Dec

As I write, my community is in the middle of a blizzard.

A blizzard by definition is a severe snowstorm with high winds and low visibility. It has been snowing sideways for 24 hours and looks like it will stay for the night. Sometimes I cannot see the neighbor’s home across the street for the white-out conditions. The wind gusts are wild.

I have a friend who lives a street away who has been without power for the 24 hours. My power has flickered from time to time but so far we have heat, food and a warm fire in the fireplace. The windchill is 15 below.

Could this situation be better? Sure! The dog refuses to go outside, the snowblower is not working and I see snow blowing in and onto the floor by the front door. Could this situation be worse? Sure! We could have no heat, no food and we could be in poor health.

I asked God for perspective as I walked the dog through the snowy yard in the fierce wind so that maybe she would “go.”

I asked God for perspective when my husband worked for an hour on a repair of the snowblower only to come in announcing he needed another part to complete the repair.

Then… I thanked God for a delicious meal of steak and potatoes and vegetables with Christmas cookies for dessert.


I thanked God that the wind was outside and I was inside.

I thanked God for the companionship of my husband and dog in front of a cozy fire in the fireplace.

Wherever you were and whatever your weather may have brought to your Christmas, I hope you found blessings in the day and a chance to love the baby in the manger.

Christmas Is

23 Dec

Christmas can mean so many things to different people. Happy memories come to mind just as often as sad realities bear witness for many people. Childhood Christmases evolve and don’t blink… because childhood celebrations become part of Christmas past.

I was thinking recently about different ways to identify Christmas. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Christmas is an event–people gather, people anticipate, people plan

Christmas is a path–one that gives us a direction on our holiday journey

Christmas is a bridge–connecting people, places, the present and the past

Christmas is a portrait–an artful image of sights and scenes

Christmas is a routine–it requires some repeated activity

Christmas is a time piece–measuring the passage of a year captured in a day

Christmas is a reminder– love is never far away

Christmas is a challenge–guiding us to love even in difficulty

Christmas is an evolution–nothing stays the same

Christmas is a net –capturing God’s wisdom, gifts, love and grace in the baby boy given

Christmas is….your turn!

A Christmas Favorite

21 Dec

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol or two or ten?

I love so many of them and was blessed to first learn them in music class in my public elementary school about 100 years ago. Those were special memories and special songs. Those carols were then revisited and reinforced in church year after year and I felt blessed by them then and feel blessed by them now.

I went to a choral concert recently that featured Christmas music that was mostly sacred not secular. It was special and the audience at the end was invited to sing along with familiarity and love in our participation.

A favorite of mine is listed below. As you read the lyrics can you hear the tune? It is a very special Christmas hymn with a very special message.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Gustav Holst, Christina Rossetti

“In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen
Snow on snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter
Long, long ago
Angels and Arc Angels
May have traveled there
Cherubim and Seraphim
Thronged the air
But only his Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshiped the beloved
With a kiss
What can I give him?
Poor as I am
If I were a shepherd
I would give a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would do my part
But what I can I give him
Give him my heart
Give him my heart.”

The message? Give what you can at Christmas.

Night Reflections

19 Dec

Do you ever crawl into bed at night and ask yourself, “Just what was it that I did all day?”

This is not something I do on work days, because my day is carved out for me by someone else. Today was a day off and it was FULL!

I won’t list for you the dozen things I accomplished nor will I brag to myself how great I was today, but there is a deep sense of satisfaction in accomplishing a day’s worth of activities.

I had the initiative.

I had the strength and energy.

I had thoughts and willingness line up.

I believed in myself.

I was industrious.

I did not do this all myself. God watched over my efforts. God sustained my energy and God saw to it that as I finished out the day I could sigh and smile and count the blessings of the day.

Sometimes it is easy to crawl into bed at night and grumble about the day in our thoughts and conversations with the Lord. How much better it is to say, “Thanks” for the day and revel in the accomplishments and fruitful events.

Was the day perfect? Probably not.

But there is wisdom in seeking the positive at bedtime over ruminating on the negative.

Even a bad day offers a little something to be thankful for…if only we search it out.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Gratefulness

16 Dec

I have a framed sign on my desk that says this:

“START EACH DAY WITH A GRATEFUL HEART.”

Sometimes that is challenging. I want to start the day in a grateful spirit, but sometimes I start the day grumpy. Not long ago my dishwasher was not working and after that my disposal was making weird noises.

Leaving the house that day left me open to someone who cut me off in traffic and then someone else who beeped at me as I hesitated to enter an intersection because I could see someone barreling through from the other side.

“You are beeping at ME?” Those were SOME of my thoughts.

Some days ooze gratefulness–the sun is shining, a good medical report comes in, a friend texting a sweet sentiment all lead to comfort, joy and gratefulness, but the earlier scenarios do not.

That’s where God enters in. God can help identify times to be grateful even when we fail the task on our own.

I made banana bread recently that turned out dry. I was grateful we had butter to spread on it and milk to drink along side.

I got tangled up and delayed by a funeral car procession recently. I was grateful to not have been in the procession.

A while ago I missed a stair and fell down a few steps meeting and greeting a wall with my head. I was grateful nothing broke and I mended in time.

An order I placed was delayed then lost. I was grateful to have been reimbursed for my costs.

See….it takes a tiny moment to assemble the good thoughts, and it is important to do so!

Find the rose among the thorns! See the blossom among the weeds! Savor the icing on the cake and the sun peeking through the clouds!

Reward yourself by balancing the bitter with the better.

AMEN!

Sheepish Love

14 Dec

My dog is nearby…almost always.

She sits by me when I am working on the computer.

She moves to the kitchen when it’s time to make a meal and she follows me upstairs to retrieve or put away laundry.

She sleeps at the foot of the bed in her bed until maybe 5:00 AM when she jumps on the bed to cuddle near my legs.

Her name is Rachel and the meaning of that name suggests ewe or female sheep.

A sheep can have many characteristics–some suggest they can be timid, picky about their food but strong willed at times. This describes my Rachel, a Beagle mix.

However, there are often sheep featured in nativity scenes looking serene and cuddly next to the manger they likely gave up for the little one. That speaks of patience and generosity, such nice characteristics!

I love my dog, but she can be stubborn and quirky.

Isn’t that true for all of us?

May God be with us in our stubborn nature and teach us the gracious ways of the sheep at the side of Baby Jesus.

Oh Lord, don’t let me be stubborn unless it is connected to patience and grace and generosity–being unrelenting on those seems wise, but Lord, I will need your help. AMEN.

I Believe

12 Dec

I believe:

–everyone deserves love

–everyone has the ability to love

–nature and nurture combine in the development of a human being

–people want to belong

–people need people (a sentiment from Barbara Streisand)

–pets are kind of like people

–God wants us to love not hate

–God gives us free choice

–God celebrates our differences even before we accept them in each other

–I have good days and bad days

–compared to some people, my bad days are not all that bad

–love is everywhere, but goes unnoticed

–hurt people hurt people.

–God’s redeeming power is stronger than anything

–if you are reading this, you have things you believe, too.

Worry

9 Dec

Why do I worry?

Because:

–it is someone I love

–it means a lot to me

–I hope for change

–the situation is hurtful

–human nature has me doing this

Why should I not worry?

Because:

–God’s got this

–I have no control anyway

–it keeps me awake

–it makes my day feel unsettled

–it’s not mine to “fix”

Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

bible verses about worry

I Will Pray for You

7 Dec

Today I said those words to a student of mine. I am allowed to say those words at school because I work at a Christian university.

I also prayed aloud with her because she was feeling overwhelmed:

–getting through the last few classes before finals

–being evicted from her rental lodging because the owner of the property sold it for a repurposing of the building

–trying to find a new job in case her rent goes up

–falling behind in her classes and knowing some assignments are past due

Once she shared her tearful woe with me, I just had to pray with her and for her. She is one of my former students so her tardy work is not affecting her status in my class. I am pleased she felt free to talk.

The whole situation made me think about intercessory prayer—what it is and why we do it.

In definition intercessory prayer is this:

“Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others.” (taken from a website called Got Questions?

The website goes on to declare the wisdom and responsibility of praying for others:

“God calls all Christians to be intercessors. It is God’s desire that every believer be active in intercessory prayer. What a wonderful and exalted privilege we have in being able to come boldly before the throne of Almighty God with our prayers and requests!”

I think it’s cool to think of praying for others as a “privilege” and doing so is certainly Biblically rooted.

1 Timothy 2:1

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

James 5:13-16

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Job 42:10

“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Did you pray today? Did you pray for someone else?

Did someone else pray for you?

May it be so.

Advent

5 Dec

Advent–by definition the word suggests waiting; feeling hopeful for the arrival of Jesus.

Biblical stories tell us that Jesus came as a baby to bring us God’s love in the flesh that we believers may find freedom from sin and comfort in God’s great love. Most of us think of Advent as the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Followers of Christ often step up their prayer life awaiting this “arrival.”

Some believers implement daily activities to commemorate this time of waiting with fasting, sharing wealth with others, or contemplating the future.

The season has been commercialized over the years with Advent calendars featuring candy, toys and cartoon characters for children, but the backstory still remains that it is a time of focus and belief in what is yet to come, God’s gift of love and the Christ child arriving and bringing light to a dark world.

A nticipation of

D ivine love and the

V ery presence of God

E ntering our hearts bringing

N ewness, joy and

T ruth

Here Comes the Judge

2 Dec

Some of you will recall that wacky show from the 1960s called Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In which was a fast paced comedy hour of skits, jokes and silliness based on all manner of non-politically correct subject matters. One of the skits featured a courtroom scene that had an opening chant that repeated the statement in rapid fire proclamation, “Here comes the judge!”

Shall we connect Laugh In to scripture today? I think that could be fun and educational. We can study the concepts of judge, judging and judgment.

The book of Matthew has lessons on the judgment of others:

Matthew 7 : 1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

OUCH! That is a lesson to be learned!

Why do we judge others?

–to avoid our own failings?

–to feel superior to others?

–to define who is real to us and those who are not?

–to categorize people so they make sense to us?

–to puff up ourselves?

Are any of those reasons to judge noble ones? Good ones? True ones?

When we judge are we really getting to know that person or is it easier to push our opinions out there thus blocking an opportunity to learn about that other person and blocking a chance to learn from that other person?

It’s a human dilemma. It is our nature to judge but it is God’s desire that we don’t.

Interpersonal Communication theory tells us we fall to the influence of something called “social comparison.” We want to be like some people and we want to not be like others. As a result we compare ourselves over and over– judging ourselves and judging those around us. In all reality it is not always bad to do this. If I compare myself to a mentor I might set new goals and activities for myself. HOWEVER, if I compare myself to the wrong role model, I may be compromising my true self.

Hmm–“Here comes the judge.”

Is that a statement about me?