Resurrection Monday

10 Apr

Hello again, thanks for checking in.

It is the Monday after Easter and what have we learned?

There is one glaring message to have learned: Jesus’ earthly mission and ministry must go on through us, his followers. Jesus did not have to close out his message of love upon his death on the cross. Jesus rose three days later and that made all the difference. And that gave all of us the challenge to go out and spread the good news in his name.

My TO DO list is long on this Monday as I neglected to accomplish a few things earlier last week. But topping the list is TO SHOW LOVE, Jesus’ quintessential message!

–at the market

–with my neighbors

–with customer service

–to my sometimes finicky dog

–to myself, as we often can be our own harshest critics

I will treasure Jesus’ sacrifice for me and will try to live up to the hopes my heavenly father has for me.

“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” — Henry Miller

Good Friday

7 Apr

Today is Good Friday and Christians all over the world will remember Jesus’ painful passing in some sort of solemn way. As a child, I asked my mother more than once why Good Friday was considered “good.” I am not sure her wisdom rocked me and I still yearned to see the goodness of such a tragic day.

I now know that Good Friday had to happen to fulfill the scriptures and to advance God’s love in the world. No Good Friday means no Resurrection Sunday.

But, did it have to be SO BAD? The torture, the pain, the bloodshed are all unbearable to imagine. The heartbreak that must have haunted the heart of Mary, his mother, and Joseph his earthly dad and others who loved him is difficult to take in.

“Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.”

That message taken from the website Christianity.com assures us of not only some historical ideas but also some cultural ideas as well–all pointing to an understanding of Good Friday as what was meant to be to establish God’s love in the hearts of humans.


“The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”” (Matthew 27:54)

That statement was the first indication that God’s hand was on the day and the observers of the tragic crucifixion would soon have new messages to ponder.

You and I, too, have new messages to ponder each year on this Friday of all Fridays.

What’s on your heart today?

Lenten Meditation

5 Apr

Find Your Wilderness

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

Have you had a modern day wilderness experience? Do you have in your memory a time and a place where you felt tested and alone? Things were not going well and your expectations were shattered and you believed you were abandoned and no one cared.

Of course you have, if you are human. It is not unusual nor is it unexpected to feel despair when things do not go as planned. We do not like that feeling, but in its presence we find ways to cope. We pray, we find someone to talk to, we may find solace in our bad habits or vices– the things that sometimes hold us down.

Jesus’ wilderness time was no day in the park. He was hungry and emotionally spent, questioning the whys and contemplating the maybes–just as we do! Remember, Jesus had a human side as well as his Godly side. Safe to say, though, the steadfastness and endurance Jesus had in the wilderness runs far beyond what we mere mortals can muster, yet in Jesus’ suffering we see that “this too shall pass.” if only we are patient to endure.

And how shall we generate endurance when all odds press in against us? We pray, we wait, we believe in a brighter future and we dig deeply to find some hopeful thoughts.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalms 42:1-2)

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5)

An old adage says, “Where there is a will there is a way.” It is attributed to Albert Einstein.

I attribute it to my Lord.

Holy Week

3 Apr

Another Holy Week is upon us.

Holy Week, in the Christian church, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ.” This secular excerpt was drawn from the online Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Holy week to Christians around the world is the last week of Lent and a most solemn week at that. The week begins with a commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. All four Gospels relay this as the high point of community love for Jesus and the miracles and love he shared with the community–one that would betray him in the latter days of the week. Christians journey with Jesus during Holy week. As a Christian I recall the prayers of Jesus, the sacrifices of Jesus and the expressions of God’s merciful love through Jesus.

I recall the last supper Jesus had with his disciples who so desired to understand him and his message and who dreamed to go on to tell it out in the world. I recall that as a peaceful time before the outrageous trial, condemnation and the walk to Calvary–where Jesus’ death sentence would be carried out for me, a lowly version of one of God’s children.

I recall the anguish and terror of that fateful Friday that seemingly brought the entire world to its knees. Jesus was dying on a cross that I might someday have life past death as a believer. As a little girl I once told my mom that Good Friday should always have cold bitter weather and Easter Sunday should always have warmth and sun.Living in the northeast always made that a tall proposal. I remember being in church 4 times each Holy week while growing up–a tradition I still hold to dearly even today.

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday often seemed like a solemn yet lost day. Modern Christians of course realize the resurrection Jesus gave us and await the day. Back in Jesus’ day, that was yet to be.

Easter Sunday in modern times closes out Lent with chocolate and feasting and new outfits and celebratory experiences in churches all around the globe. That is not to say that we have gone commercial in our Easter, but rather it reflects modern times of affection, reverence, the newness of spring and the honoring of God’s great gift to all the world.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Lord, how great thou art!

Hope

31 Mar

Hello, again. Thanks for visiting the website today.

We ordered Chinese food for dinner tonight. It’s such an easy meal and the clean up is a breeze. As most of you know, fortune cookies are included with the meals. Usually the messages are cliche or trite, but today’s message had meaning for me.

“Hope is the most precious treasure to a person.”

Those words transported me to scripture and also back to memories of my dad.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Those verses are not only familiar, but they are encouraging and comforting.

When my dad was in the last two years prior to his passing he ended up in a wheelchair due to his nemesis– weak legs. However he was often prescribed rounds of physical therapy to increase the strength in his thin and wobbly legs. He loved the physical therapy for one reason–hope.

My dad for a full year believed that if he worked hard and the therapists kept pushing him, he would gain enough strength to walk. In his words, “As long as you have hope, it is everything.”

My dad never really walked on his own those last two years, but I remember speaking with him by phone on a “good day” when he was able to make it 100 steps with the help of a walker and a PT associate. That he thought was a sign of an even better day to come.

Psychology Today states that ” Hope can help us manage stress and anxiety and cope with adversity. It contributes to our well-being and happiness…”

What makes you hopeful?

–a robin prancing in the back yard?

–a new baby?

–a transition in life?

–a good medical report?

–God’s word?

Hope is an amazing fuel.

Hope is help. Hope makes us whole.

AMEN.

Fake Faith

29 Mar

Oh no! Is there such a thing? Those of us who profess a faith have firm beliefs and share openly our love, joys and trials. But in our divided social climate and in a world where folks can be offended at every turn, are we supposed to hide our faith at times?

Hmm–wouldn’t that be a fake faith?

On the other hand, there is a concept out there called Communication Competence, created by social scientist, James McCroskey, which suggests that we are capable of acquiring a skilled ability to “read the room” and know when it’s appropriate to say certain things and on other occasions it is better to button up and be silent. McCroskey believes the savvy speaker also understands issues like social status, knowledge, timing, personal preferences and the persons involved leading us to know what we should say and when we should say it in certain communication settings.

We might then read the room and assess the complex communication situation as a No Faith Zone–not a place to share the Good News.

Yikes!

Now I have to hold my beloved faithful words inside “just in case?”

I reject that notion. I admit to doing it from time to time, feeling shy about sharing God’s message, my message, but thinking about it today makes me believe that my authenticity was compromised in those moments and instead I should use three Rs– Reconsider, Regroup and Risk! Yes, take the risk! Be true to God and yourself.

No more fake faith!

40-something

27 Mar

Greetings to today’s readers! This is not about being of a certain age, but about the power and symbolism of that number. Lessons can be learned by evaluating the number.

Forty!

Biblically this is a significant number. Biblical scholars tell us the number 40 is mentioned over 100 times throughout the readings.

Consider these images:

During Moses’ life, he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.

Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions receiving God’s laws.

The prophet Elijah went 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb.

Jesus was tempted by the devil many times during the 40 complete days he fasted just before his ministry began.

It is believed Jesus appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection.

And Noah’s sailing journey extended for 40 days.

There are other considerations of the power of 40:

Lenten observance covers 40 days.

There are spiritual book titles that implement the use of 40:

40 Days with God by Ken Hickey

40 Days with Jesus by Chad Hollingsworth

40 Days in the Word by Rick Warren

And think about it:

It takes 40 weeks for pregnancy to bring forth a child.

I read on the website fathersofmercy.com that the symbolism behind the number 40 often represents new life, growth, transformation or the undertaking of a great task.

Some folks think 40 days is the ideal time to spend on desired change when breaking an old habit or investing in a new way of doing things. There is a social media phenomenon called 40 Day Challenge that nudges people toward adopting positive habits and letting go of bad ones.

Looking at 40 from all angles tells me it is a number of great significance and great things can happen in the passage of 40-something.

Soon we will be at the end of our 40 days of Lent. Have I grown? Transformed? Taken on a great task? Thank goodness there is still time!

God’s Hands and feet

24 Mar

We often think of God as a being– a presence and an everlasting power in the world and in the lives of those who follow his inspirational guidance.

Many of us consider God as a human through Jesus and when thinking about Jesus during the Lenten season, it is easy to consider his hands and feet –his pierced and bruised yet strong hands and feet. To consider the hands of Jesus I think of the healing in his hands. I think of the tender touch to the devastated and denied whom he always welcomed. I also think of the penetrating nails that changed forever the appearance of his hands on behalf of me, a troubled sinner.

As I consider the feet of Jesus I picture the miles walked to preach his father’s message bringing the good news to all who would hear it. I picture rugged feet possibly walking bare or in sandals without cushion from town to town on his preaching journey, fulfilling his ministry and mission. I also can call up images of Jesus caring for the feet of others in cleansing symbolism to represent the purge of their wayward living in exchange for a life of faithfulness and heart felt love.

Lent brings Christians everywhere images of sacrifice, pain, meditation, contemplation reflection and growth. At its close we have a resurrection and a promise of a hereafter.

God, I love your hands and feet.

May the image of your great sacrifice remind me daily of your constant presence and love.

Is your cup overflowing?

22 Mar

I was recently sent an image that stayed with me long after I stopped looking at it. I received it from a friend and I thought it was a very poignant thought. It read like this:

“The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The optimist sees the glass half full. The psalmist says, ‘My cup runneth over.” This notion is taken from Psalm 23:5

How powerful to say that your cup is not only full but it is overflowing! That gives me images of other “overflowing things.” Those that come to mind are a purse stuffed with “essentials,” a garage full of cars and other necessities, a closet with more than one outfit, coat or pair of shoes…or maybe that closet has countless things in it. My point is that most people have “overflow” of something and I shall admit that sometimes I forget that. I look around and do not always see just what I have.

In. Front. Of. Me.

” And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” –2 Corinthians 9:8

Consider your abundant blessings if you have a couple friends you call “best,” reasonably good health, a family who loves you, a warm home as needed and food on your table more than once a day.

That, my friends, is abundance. It is a cup that overflows. It is God’s goodness brought to you and to me in tangible ways. It does not mean that life is perfect and that sorrow and pain will never darken the door, but it does reveal to us how much we have in God’s generous love.

Awesome!

In and Through me

20 Mar

As I flipped my daily calendar open today I saw this message:

“Celebrate every great thing the lord is doing in and through your life. “

That message inspired me enough that I texted the image to a few friends. Then I looked at the calendar again and my eyes centered on the last 3 words.

“THROUGH MY LIFE”

That made me think about other views of that phrase:

–because of me

–due to something I did

–living as an example

–being an active citizen

–being a servant to others

Once I prepared that list of related phrases I realized as a Christian woman I have responsibilities! I owe it to others to be there for them and to do good when and where I can.

This of course hearkens back to a few days ago when on this very page I referenced John Wesley’s words about giving. That message was called Generosity and was posted earlier in the week.

Apparently those words, goals, images and ideals are lingering in my thoughts and my daily calendar was the reminder.

Am I making things happen “through me?”

Am I being a blessing to others?

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Am I the cheerful giver God believes I can be?

Hope so!

Lord, assist me in this important task. AMEN.

Temptation

17 Mar

Are there things that tempt you?

Shopping? Spending? Snacks? Chocolate? Dessert?

Temptation can be defined as “the desire to do something; especially something wrong or unwise.”

That definition is compliments of the online Oxford Dictionary.

The list of temptations above is compliments of me!

God knows we are tempted because the word teaches us about temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Galatians 5:16

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

James 1:14

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

So when I am tempted, what am I supposed to do? How do I resist? Where is the wisdom to wait, move away and regroup?

Some of our temptations are indulgent habits and experts tell us that it takes a while to break a habit.

The Medical News Today website says this:

“Realistically, a person will take anywhere from 18 to over 250 days to break a habit completely. This time frame can vary from person to person. To break a habit, a person should set realistic goals, know their reasons for wanting to break the habit, and identify triggers.”

This medical statement echoes the 1 Corinthians quote above. It suggests if we TRULY want to change, it’s possible! We have power within and God’s power at hand.

Now…where did I put those M&Ms?

Generosity

15 Mar

What is the true meaning of generosity?

“Generosity is voluntary, unselfish giving of time, money, attention, or other resources; generous people are especially willing to share their resources with others. Although a generous gift can benefit the giver, it’s mainly intended to benefit the recipient, and there isn’t necessarily any expectation of a return.”

That statement comes directly from the Berkeley Well- Being Institute website. It speaks of something we sometimes don’t regularly see in society today.

Have you bumped into a rude person lately? No doubt! I had someone on the road recently pass me with an evil eye that accompanied the speed of the vehicle. Mind you I was already going 45 in a 40 MPH zone that is often patrolled by police radar. The look I received suggested I did not even belong on the road! I wanted to know what else was bothering that driver.

Generosity suggests giving someone space if needed, a pass for an error committed and maybe even help with a problem that they may have created themselves. It requires patience and a giving heart or temperament.

John Wesley, notable leader in Christianity, in particular the Methodist tradition, spoke these words:

Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.

Those words happen to be posted on a pivotal wall in my church–the wall you see as you enter and depart the sanctuary. I see the words regularly and I think about them.

I want to be generous. I want to be giving and I want it to surprise others and have them offer no reward back other than a smile.

Does giving really make us happy?

“Studies tell us that neurons in the portion of the brain associated with a sense of satisfaction start firing when a person chooses to donate money, time or other resources. These results are a fascinating reminder of the intrinsic motivation that many people share to make the world a better place.”

The above statement comes in part from TrackingHappiness.com, a website that encourages individuals to be more proactive in their mental health seeking ways to feel a little more joy.

I prefer the notion of GIVING joy over seeking joy. I suspect giving will automatically lead to getting.

Don’t you think so, too?

Gifts

13 Mar

Do you believe you are gifted? Years ago that was a cool and prestigious thing to have your child labeled as gifted by their teachers/ counselors and whoever else made such a determination. It usually meant they were identified as capable of handling advanced work, extra activities and new opportunities. The truth is that everyone is gifted–yes everyone!

God says so.

Matthew 7:11
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Romans 12:6
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…

See! You are gifted and so am I. God made us who we are despite how he may have made others. Some are artistic and expressive. Some are organized and systematic. Some are good with numbers while others are good with words. Some are builders and creators and others are good at sharing and caring.

Do you see yourself yet?

Some can sew, some can speak, some will lead with power and some will lead tenderly. Some cook and some clean while others bake and some repair.

No one is left without a gift.

Do you see yourself yet?

I hope so, because it is God’s will for us to use our bestowed gifts–not to please ourselves but rather to show God a message of thanks for the gifts chosen for us.

Love your gift! (or gifts)

Use them for good!

Women’s Wisdom

10 Mar

It’s Women’s History Month. God has always believed women are important 12 months of the year. Check out God’s messages below:

Thank you, God for making a special place for women in this world. I feel your blessings today.

Revival!

8 Mar

Are you at all following the stories around some of the more fundamental Christian colleges in our nation and the youthful response to messages of inspiration and hope?

Some of you may know that if you attend a smaller sized conservative Christian college as a student you are expected to attend “chapel” several times a semester for college credit. Chapel often consists of worship, denominational speakers and representatives of global initiatives drawn to church related values. I recently attended chapel at the main campus of Houghton University. I teach part -time at their Buffalo based campus. The speaker that day was from a global initiative that receives and resettles refugees. Some refugees are here with legitimate causes and proper papers and others are not. This group helps them all believing that Jesus in many ways was considered a nomadic refugee and he always found time to help a stranger. The speaker’s words addressed both sides of our country’s immigration concerns, which I appreciated. I tell this story so you can see a glimpse of “chapel” if you have never had the experience.

Recently students at Asbury University in Kentucky stayed on for chapel for 16 days! After the initial program had ended they initiated worship, found their own speakers, became their own speakers and musicians in an effort to “revive” their belief systems and recharge their Christianity for all the world to see. The relatively small campus saw up to 20,000 visitors to the event believing all attendees were on a quest for truth and to make a Christian impact in the world. Smaller versions of this event were taking place in different parts of the nation.

Simultaneously a film was released called ” Jesus Revolution.” It tells the story of the late 1960s into the early 1970s when a portion of the “hippie movement” rejected the mindless drug lives they were living in search of something bigger; certainly something bigger than they were, something like Jesus! Hence the birth of the “Jesus Freak” came about. I remember writing a paper on the subject when I was in college. I saw the film yesterday. I was inspired by some of its content. It reminded me that sometimes my own version of faith can be pretty lukewarm.

Hey! “Life gets busy,” I shallowly shout. (I digress.)

Back in the day, revivals were going on all over the nation proving once again to the world that Christianity was alive and well and key to a fulfilled life. Today we sometimes hide our beliefs for fear we may upset or insult someone whose beliefs are different. Silly!

God wants our light to shine!

If a large group gathering is not for you, I am thinking that God would also have us experience our own personal revival from time to time. Helping another, praying harder, reading a new devotional, experiencing a discussion group or Bible study can all bring about one’s own personal revival. A personal revival will remind us that God exists and that Jesus offers a model to follow and the words of Biblical writings are true. That is precisely the message of any revival.

Amen to that! May it be so.

Protection

6 Mar

Who does not like to feel protected?

We like to run into shelter from the cold. We prefer watching rain from inside rather than being out getting drenched from it. Many seek shade when the sun is bright and we love the comfort of someone looking out for our welfare, be it a friend, a family member or a loved one. A check in text message or a quick phone call brightens the day and we feel the connection and protection of that person’s care for us.

God is the ultimate protector.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

–Exodus 14:13-14

“For the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

–Deuteronomy 20:4

“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”

–2 Samuel 22:3-4

The thought of protection evokes other images:

–comfort

–trust

–strength

–safety

–shelter

–stability

Everything about protection seems positive.

How great is that?

As needed, do seek protection.

Choose God as the ultimate source.

Unity

3 Mar

Such a word is UNITY!

It evokes feelings and ideas and imagery of times past, present and into the future. Some say we are too divided in 2023 as a society, culture, country and world. If we do not see eye to eye then perhaps we can’t see one another. Period. How in the world did we get so impatient with one another? Can’t we agree to disagree on some ideals and still love one another?

Years ago this was easier to do as people often did not discuss “sensitive subjects” with one another. It was polite protocol to avoid controversy so as to be able to have continued connections with those with whom we disagreed. Today it is nearly impossible to be “in union” with certain folks. We have grown impatient as a society. I want it to be different.

Unity means “the state of being united or joined as a whole.” That Oxford Dictionary definition is pretty straightforward and easy to comprehend.

Scripture teaches us about unity as well.

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Philippians 2:2

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Colossians 3:14

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Romans 12:4-5

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Food for thought…

Is there really unity among us that we have somehow buried, ignored or forgotten?

If so, how do we bring it back?

If not, how sad for us!

Christian Blessings

1 Mar

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus as God’s begotten son and I believe I can learn from and emulate his amazing and exemplary life. Will I fail? Of course! On most days I will do several things to separate myself from God’s perfection.

I may lose my temper.

I may gossip.

I could overlook the feelings of others and put mine first.

I might be rude.

I could forget to pray or choose not to pray.

I might forget how loving is my God.

I may simply disappoint my Lord with choices I have made on a given day.

But that does not dilute my Christianity.

It may make me feel unworthy.

I may feel I have let God down.

I might even feel alone.

Thankfully God is patient and will wait for my return.

His perfect presence will be with me even if I ignore such a wonderful thing as is his love.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Let all that is within me bless His holy name!

My Father’s Eyes

27 Feb

It’s been a year since my dad passed. Seems odd that I am not making plans for a road trip to visit him. Seems odd we are not chatting by phone and I am not sending him cards, notes or homemade cookies by UPS.

A noticeable thing about my dad were his eyes.

My father’s eyes were expressive– almost vocal. They sparkled when he was happy, they seemed to darken when he was worried and they were droopy when he was tired. He had little wrinkles around his eyes that were prominent when he laughed, which was a sign that over the years he’d had lots of laughs. His eyes had a little mischief in them when he wanted to tell a funny story or tease someone he loved.

That is the description of my earthly father’s eyes.

My Heavenly Father also has eyes.

I referenced the Amy Grant song before on this website. In her song FATHER’S EYES, she speaks of:

“Eyes that find the good in things when good is not around. Eyes that find the source of help when help cannot be found.”

That speaks of God’s vision in our day to day worlds. It also speaks of my dear dad.

Dad, while here on earth you were a source of help and you often said good things when others did not. Now I must rely on those memories for sustenance and motivation.

You have been gone a year. Your grandchildren are all busy with careers and occupations. Your great grandchildren are busy learning, laughing and walking and talking and telling tales and dreaming dreams. Your eyes would be taking in all you could possibly observe if you were here with us. We miss your presence.

Still, we believe God gives you glimpses of us and day in and day out you truly are never far away because you reside in our hearts.

Salt and Light

24 Feb

There is a church near me that hosts a “Salt and Light Festival” every summer. I have attended in the past because they have interesting and inspiring speakers and the public is encouraged to attend for a mere free will offering. The goal of the festival is to bring the community together with a reminder that we as Christians, are supposed to be the salt and light for the world.

13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The passages above taken from the Book of Matthew tell us that if we are going to be noticed in the world as Christians and if our message of Jesus’ love can and will be heard in the world the things we do must matter.

Salt: a savory seasoning– and we all know it can make a difference as a flavoring in foods and as a natural preservative. This suggests to me as a Christian I should “flavor a room.” My words and actions should be noticeable, meaningful and salient ( a root word like salt). People should notice my Christianity.

Light: who doesn’t appreciate light? We love a pretty lamp and how it glows with ambiance in a room. We love the summer days as daylight is available to us in longer stretches of time. Little kids often enjoy the security and special glow of a night light. It’s not that as a Christian I am supposed to be wearing the lampshade at the party, but rather, my message of acceptance, patience, joy and love should be evident to others.

So…I asked myself today, “Have I been the salt and light somewhere in the world lately?”

If so, how so? If not, why not?

And if bringing salt and light to the world is my job as God’s child on earth, how shall I bring messages to savor and images of brightness to this often cold and calculating world ?

Even a tiny dose of salt and light may help out a struggling someone along the way.

How shall I do that today?

Everything

22 Feb

E ach little blessing is

V ast in its own way and

E very word of praise

R esounds in love.

Y et we know

T hat each day

H as challenges

I n the comings and goings.

N ow yet, we are grateful and sing of

G od’s great gifts.

I am _________________.

20 Feb

I AM SO BUSY. I have so much to do but I am sitting on the responsibilities instead of acting on them. As my TO DO list grows my impatience grows, but so does my procrastination.

I AM VERY TIRED. I did not sleep well last night. I stayed up too late and/or got up too early and did too much in 24 hours.

I AM LONELY. I have not prayed lately nor have I reached out to friends or talked to a neighbor or visited a shut-in.

I AM DISAPPOINTED. Things did not go well today. I had expectations that went unmet.

I AM THINKING…

I AM HEALTHY. I can move around with vigor and purpose and do the things I want to do.

I AM HAPPY. I worked today and things went well.

I AM LUCKY. There is a warm house surrounding me and people who care for me.

I AM BLESSED. Life is not perfect, but something about each day is perfect for me.

I thank you, Lord above

For your wonderful gift of love.

I know how much you care,

For your presence is always there.

Bless me when I fail to see

Just how much you mean to me.

AMEN.

Flipped Open Wisdom

17 Feb

When I was in college I took three courses in religious studies in place of history or geography classes. They were challenging classes! They challenged what I thought I knew about religion and they encouraged me to see my faith from different angles. The three courses were titled LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS, RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD, SURVEY OF CHRISTIANITY. As I recall, all of those classes had heavy emphasis on reading and writing. In one of the classes we were encouraged periodically to seek Biblical wisdom whimsically. The professor asked us to grab a copy of the Bible and flip it open and point our index finger to the page at hand and read it and gain inspiration. It’s NOT easy! Reading the Bible can be daunting, confusing and like those religion classes in college–challenging! Speaking for myself, I tend to read the same hopeful passages over and over. It’s comforting.

For the sake of this exercise here is the passage I flipped and pointed to today:

Job 1:6-12

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and the accuser also came among them. The Lord said to the accuser, “Where have you come from?” The accuser answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to the accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” Then the accuser answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to the accuser, “Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” So the accuser went out from the presence of the Lord.

Yikes! In this passage is the Lord bargaining with the Devil? Are the two of them having pushy conversation while one of them attacks Job and the other protects Job? And beyond my initial response is this…what can I gain by reading this passage today?

God’s faithfulness to defend…

God’s belief in those who believe back…

The enemy may enter our lives, but God will protect…

What have you gained today by reading this bit of Job’s story?

Look deeper! There is something there for you.

Earthquake!

15 Feb

Not long ago at 6:15 in the morning we heard the loudest BOOM to waken us and shake the house. A few minutes later the news reported an earthquake locally that left next to nothing in its aftermath. That same time in another land there was an unbelievably powerful earthquake; one of unimaginable proportions. The equivalent population of a city died.

Tragic. Sad. Devastating.

The earthquake that defiled areas of Turkey and Syria has become a picture of trauma for the world to observe.

I teach a refugee population of university students. They represent over a dozen different regions of the world. One of the students has a Syrian homeland and another is from Turkey. Their stories are too devastating to tell.

Recently one young man gave a speech about the earthquake. He spoke of land loss, human loss, psychological, emotional and spiritual pain. One of the messages in his talk was this:

“I heard on the news that a mother gave her daughter a house and two days later it fell in the earthquake.The mother commented, ‘I did not know that I gave [my daughter] her grave.”

Hearing that on the news was salient to my student. Hearing it referenced in his speech was salient to the listeners.

We never know the full how and why of devastation of such magnitude. We are taught, however to pray for the sick, tend to the grieving, do good in every corner of tragedy where we can.

The dreadful situation reminded me of God’s faithful and constant presence even in pain, and the words of John Wesley seem appropriate as seen below.

Both bring messages of love, support, help and care.

Something everyone needs!

AMEN.

Today Has Meaning

13 Feb

I suppose in the grand scheme of things every day we have shows meaning. Sometimes there are days we want to remember and sometimes there are days we want to forget and sometimes the feelings of both emotions are present.

A year ago today my father-in-law passed. It was kind of shocking as he was just fine at Christmas and then a series of things occurred, a virus, an infection, a surgical procedure and then another procedure pending. Between Christmas and the start of February life became blurry.

In the aftermath, there are many people and loved ones who miss him terribly.

There are cliche sentiments that account for the feelings of those 6 weeks.

“God won’t bring you to it if He can’t bring you through it.”

–Anonymous

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father.”

–Thomas O. Chisolm

“God’s presence is with you even on the darkest night.”

–Anonymous

Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.”

–Alexander MacLaren

Cliche or not, the words have meaning.

Losing a special someone is poignant. Days pass and we want to see them and tell them things, have a chat. My father -in- law was a fan of this devotional website. My father-in -law was a fan of being devoted, period.

–devoted to his work

–devoted to his friends

–devoted to his family

–and above all else, devoted to God

The last two on that list were first in Dad’s heart.

A year without Dad has reminded us of his big nature. He was a leader, a patriarch, a lover of so many and a picture of how we were supposed to be living–with strength, faithfulness and love.

There is a void. He was not with us at Christmas. He has missed some birthdays and has had to watch from above how in particular, his four great grands are doing. Now that they are all walking and talking and gaining physical and intellectual strength, his earthly presence when we all gather is missed. He would be watching them with eagle eyes and commenting on their lively moves.

But fond memories are sustaining.

His love is still in the room when the family gathers.

God blessed us for many years with Dad’s wisdom and strength.

We miss you, Dad, but we are getting along and we live our lives differently for having had you among us.