Thursday, December 25, 2008

By Our Love

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ - Matthew 25:37-40

I once heard a story of a woman who was walking on a busy city street. As she passed by an alley she heard a sound coming from a box. She immediately knew the sound. Her heart was moved by the cries. As she opened the box, there he was. A small gray kitten abandoned by its mother. She picked up the kitten and snuggled it under her warm coat and took it home.

At home she fed it warm milk and tuna fish. The kitten fell asleep on her lap. Later on that night she placed it on her back porch in a little house and bed she’d made from a box and an old sweater.

During the night she woke to hear thunder, lightening and rain pouring down. She immediately ran to the back porch to retrieve the little kitten. But when she got there, the kitten was gone. She retrieved a flashlight and went out in the rain searching for the kitten. She searched for over an hour before coming in soaking wet and crying.

Not knowing what else to do, she called the local fire department. She wasn’t sure what they could do to help, but she’d heard stories of firemen rescuing cats from trees and thought they might offer advice. The fireman answered the phone and listened as she explained her kitten was missing.

His words cut through her heart like a knife as he told her she would have to wait. Why? He was busy finding housing for a homeless family he’d found living in an alley – the same alley where she’d found the kitten. While her compassion had been for the kitten, she’d ignored a mother and two children living only feet away in another box.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells His disciples that even if they offer a cup of water to a thirsty man, they are in effect offering it to Jesus. If they clothed those who needed clothing, it was the same as giving their clothes to Jesus. If they offered shelter to someone who had no home, it was the same as offering shelter to Jesus. But we often end our reading of the passage at verse 40. Why? Because we like to focus on the reward for doing good deeds - not the punishment for neglecting to do good. In verse 45 Jesus says to those who neglect to do good, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

As Christians, we are to be known by our love. The absence of love for each other is evidence of not being a Christian. 1 John 4:8 says “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” We can claim to love others all day long, but what do our deeds say? Are we really loving one another? Are we tending to the needs of others? Are we seeing that those around us are fed, housed, cared for when they’re sick, or visited when they’re lonely?

This Christmas season I’d like to challenge my fellow Christians to show the love of God that lives within you. Show it to someone who desperately needs to know that God loves him or her. It could be as simple as giving a gift card to someone who needs groceries. Maybe you could shovel snow for the elderly or a call to see if they need anything while you’re at the grocery store. It could be a pot of homemade chicken soup to someone who’s sick. You could share an invitation to your family Christmas dinner to someone who has no family. It may be as simple as a phone call to someone who needs to know that they came across your mind today. In whatever way the Holy Spirit leads you, show the love of Christ this season. It’s the most precious gift you can give.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Blazing Issues

“In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me.” – Psalms 86:7

When I was a little girl, we lived in the country. We didn’t have trash pickup. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a trash truck. Instead, we had an old barrel that had holes in the sides at the top. It sat on the hill at the property line next to the neighbor’s fenced pasture. When the trash can would fill up, we would take the trash out, put it into the barrel, light a match and burn it.

It wasn’t easy to get it to burn at times. There would be water in the bottom of the barrel, or not enough paper in the trash to ignite and start the fire. Sometimes the wind would blow out the matches before you could touch the paper! I remember once my brother being impatient to get the fire started. It was in the fall, and the wind was blowing so hard the leaves were being blown off the trees and it just wasn’t catching fire. In his impatience, he decided to pour a little of my Dad’s lawnmower gas on it. And if a little would work, he thought, then a lot would do much more!

He doused the trash in gasoline, and threw in a match. Yes! It lit! And he started to walk away when he saw small pieces of trash started floating out of the trash can and the wind started carrying them into the field. He saw the grass near the trash barrel starting to catch fire. He quickly he ran into the house, past my mom, and got the straw broom. He started hitting the burning grass with the broom to suffocate the fire. Some went out, and it looked like he was winning the battle, until the broom caught fire.

He decided then to go for the water hose. He was unwinding it, and trying to get it to the top of the hill where the fire was now blazing around the barrel. But after spending precious time trying to get the hose unwound, he discovered it was too short.

Finally he did what he should have done to begin with, and came running into the house to my mother. She and I both went outside and began beating out the fire with shovels, and buckets of water. Luckily, a young man who lived near us came by and stopped to help.

The neighbor’s pasture nearly burned up that day. Why? Because my brother didn’t want to ask for help when he couldn’t start the fire. Instead, he relied on his own wisdom to take care of his problem. And the more he relied on himself, the worse it got.

Friends, we are often like my brother. We take our problems and work them over the best we know how. We try everything we know to do. Sometimes we are successful. But other times we carry those problems down a path of destruction.

God’s word tells us in Proverbs 3 to “lean not on your own understanding”. God has all the answers to our problems – big and small. We know that He is only a prayer away. We know that God has all wisdom and knowledge. We know that he hears our prayers. We know He has the answers. Yet, we allow our relationship with Him to be weakened by neglecting the power He could have in our lives. We are an independent bunch – wanting to put out our fires without asking for help. Don’t wait and allow your fire to become a blazing issue, consuming you and those around you. Give it to the God who has conquered even the fires of Hell!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Faith and Fear

“And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:22-24

One thing I admire about my kids is that they’re both great swimmers. My son is a certified lifeguard and on the swim team. My daughter would rather be in the water than anywhere else on earth! Me? The deep end of the pool is still off limits. I can’t go there. Oh, I can swim…as long as I can stand up when I’m done! I never caught on to the “doggie paddle” thing that you do when you’re finished moving around to keep you afloat.

Every summer I tell myself that I’m going to take lessons or I’m going to just get into the pool and do it. But as this summer passes, the goal again goes unachieved.

As much as I’d love to learn to swim better, when I think about the deep end, I think of going slowly to the bottom, water filling my mouth, and having to walk my way across to the ladder, struggling with the weight of the water, to get out. Even now as I think about it I’m only one more thought from a full-blown cold chill! Why? I fear the water.

Three hundred and sixty-five times in the Bible, it says “Do Not Fear”. 365! That’s one for each day of the year. God knew that fear would prevent us from achieving our goals, and that’s why he warns against it.

Some would say that the opposite of faith is unbelief. I believe it’s fear. Ultimately, whatever causes you not to belief has roots in fear. I don’t dare venture into the deep water because I don’t have faith in my swimming abilities, and I fear drowning.

I think a lot of us are stuck in the shallow end of life because we’ve let our fears hold us captive there. Instead of faith that we can achieve our goals, we hold on to the fear of failure and it’s consequences.

Mark 9 tells the story of a young man who was held captive by a mute spirit. It would come upon him and try to destroy him. It would throw him onto the ground or sometimes into the fire or the water to try to kill him. The disciples tried to free the young man from the spirit and failed. One look into the eyes of such an evil spirit no doubt took their faith to the floor!

But Jesus says, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

As Christians, can we believe that? It’s Bible. It’s God’s word. It was Jesus who spoke it. Sure, we can accept it with our minds, and state it as truth. But can we accept it into our hearts?

The father of the young man said something very profound to Jesus upon hearing these words. He said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Both belief and unbelief were in his heart. As much as he believed that God could save his son, his faith wavered when he was faced with his fear.

Perhaps the prayer of this father is one we should all adopt. If all things are indeed possible if we believe, and Jesus stated that they are, then is there anything we need more than unwavering faith?

Lord, help MY unbelief!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The In's and Out's of Life

“Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.“–Deut. 6:23

It was a Sunday night and the church was crowded. We were sitting on the second pew in the church – right up front. The invitation song had started. The service was almost over. My best friend was standing beside me, at the end of her rope, with her two young boys by her side. The boys had acted up during the church service and now during the final hymn they just couldn’t seem to stop.

She looked me square in the eyes with righteous indignation bubbling to the surface and said “Give me your belt!”. For goodness sake! I’m on the second pew – with most of the church behind me! I didn’t want to start undressing right there! “Now?” I asked, just hoping she would postpone the inevitable punishment these boys would get. “NOW!” she said, “Give me your belt!”

I gently eased my belt off, hoping no one would notice. She snatched it from my hand, grabbed up the two boys and out the back door they went. In a few minutes in she came back in, walked all the way back to her seat at the front of the church with my belt hanging by her side. Two sniffling little boys following with their heads down in embarrassment. She took them out so that she could bring them back in. They came back in willing to be what they should have been all along.

The story of Moses is one of being brought out and brought in.

He was brought out of the waters in a basket to be brought into the King of Egypt’s household and raised as an Egyptian.

He went out of the palace to see the treatment of the Israelite slaves by the Egyptians. To flee the murder of one of Egyptians he was brought in to Midian.

He was brought out of Midian to Mt. Horeb to hear from God out of midst of the burning bush. Then he was brought back into Egypt to help God set his people free.

He was brought out of Egypt with the Israelites and into the wilderness to be taught by God.

He was brought out of the wilderness, out of the Red Sea, and into the land of Shur.

With every move that God made in Moses life, there was a lesson for him to learn. Some took time, and the purpose wasn’t clear until years later. But with each move God made, Moses was being drawn closer to God and His will for Moses’ life.

Life is often like a long walk in the woods. You can’t always see what’s ahead because of all the twists, turns, hills, and valleys along the path. But we have to persevere. We have to follow the path God puts us on.

We often have to be brought out so we can be brought back in. It’s not always pleasant. Sometimes we have to give up family and friends. Sometimes we have to give up a job we love. Sometimes we’re asked to change our playmates and playthings. At times the change may come through a tragic event that God uses to cause us to move. But in the end, if we follow God’s leadership, He will always bring us in to something better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meet My Staff!

David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. – 1 Samuel 17:39

When my daughter was a little girl she had a favorite doll she would carry around with her. His name was Steve. Steve went to bed with her every night. Sometimes he would grace our dinner table with his presence. He never talked much, at least not to the rest of us. But Steve and my daughter would have some long conversations sometimes!

Steve went with her to the doctor’s office. He was there when she got her shots. He went to church with her. Steve and Gabby were always together! In fact, once while she was sleeping my son and I organized a birthday party for Steve complete with cake and juice! She was elated to find out it was Steve’s birthday!

My daughter depended on Steve. He was comforting to her. He was familiar. He was tried and true. When all the other toys had to be put away, it was Steve who was allowed to sit on her bed.

As a boy David found himself in the midst of a trial when he needed something tried and true. Coming up against a 9 foot tall giant was no small feat for a shepherd boy. Yet, David volunteered! What made him feel the courage to put his life on the line? What he possessed was tried and true.

David tried the armor that King Saul offered him and told him “, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” Instead, what he took with him to fight Goliath was his staff, and three stones. The stones were weapons, and we understand why they were necessary. But what was the purpose of the staff?

The staff was a symbol of his faith in God, and he’d tried God, and proven Him to be true. A staff was often carved to show the great events in a shepherd’s life. David’s most likely had a carving of when he killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands (1 Samuel 17:36-37). Having fought both a bear and a lion and found God’s strength to be sufficient for him, he didn’t fear a Philistine who was mocking God’s own people!

What have you carved into your staff? Have you carved into it “God healed me from cancer”? Have you engraved it with a marriage that God glued back together? Have you marked it with the steps of a wandering child that came back to his upbringing? Have you recorded a financial downfall that God pulled you through?

I don’t know about you, but my staff is covered in marks! And when Satan rears his ugly head and comes at me with his tiny little water pistol ready to put out my fire, he’s gonna find me standing! And I’ll raise my staff up in the air, and shout, “Satan, meet my staff!” I’ve tried God and He has been proven faithful and full of mercy and grace! Praise God that I don’t fight my battles alone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Have You Made Your Bed?

"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." – 1 Peter 3:10-12

Here in the south we have a saying. “She made her bed, now she has to lie in it.” I remember being about 9 years old and first hearing this from my grandmother. One of our relatives was going through a tough time in her marriage, and my grandmother said, “She made her bed, now she has to lie in it!” I thought at the time, what does this have to do with her problems? Should she sleep them off?

Have you ever slept in a bed that was made up with wrinkles in the sheets? I may be a bit more sensitive than some, but I find it uncomfortable. The folds of wrinkles bunch up under you and feel like pockets around your feet. A bed made with no wrinkles, sheets pulled taunt, to me, is much more comfortable, and gives a better night’s rest.

This old southern cliché means that if you make your bed with wrinkles, you’re the one that has to sleep in it and pay the price for being sloppy. But we use it not to refer to a bed, but to our lives. We can bring “wrinkles” into our lives by making bad choices or going against God’s will for our lives.

1 Peter 3:10-12 tells us that we should turn from evil, hold our tongue, not lie, and seek peace if we want God’s blessings on our lives. Far too often we “make our own bed” by going against this teaching. We twist the truth, spread gossip, find ways to create conflict whether intention or not, and cause God to turn his face from us.

When we find ourselves in this condition, we’re only one repentant prayer away from being able to straighten things out. Psalms 139:8 says “If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Sin doesn’t separate us from the love of God, only His companionship. How wonderful it is to know that the companionship we so desire and need with God is only a prayer away.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Okay, I’m going to give you the bad news. Sit back, get comfortable, and take a deep breath. I’ll do this as painlessly as possible.

In life, people are going to hurt you. There will be those you love who betray you, those you call friends who stab you in the back, and those you trust who will deceive you. You’ll be gossiped about (yes, even you!), lied to, and ridiculed. You’ll be robbed, you’ll be wronged, and you’ll be mistreated, and yes, even discriminated against. You’ll be falsely accused and punished unfairly. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Friends, if you are lucky enough to read through the last paragraph, and still think “oh, no, not me!” then you need to hear this so you’ll know how to react when it does happen. If you read the paragraph and know all too well the truth it speaks of, you need to know how to react to what has already happened.

When people hurt you, you have a choice. It’s an A-B multiple choice, a 50/50 chance to get it right. You can chose: (a)To forgive or (b)To hold a grudge. (Hint: pick A – forgive!)

Forgiveness is not for the assailant, but the victim. You’re grudge will be in your heart, not theirs. The problem with grudges is that they get heavier as you carry them. As you think about them and dwell on them, they began to become an infection in your heart. Eventually, the grudge will grow and your whole heart will be filled with anger and hatred. Every ounce of love will be pushed out, squeezed out and dried up.

Someone once said “Forgiveness is love in its most noble form.“ I like this quote because it points out the source of forgiveness, love. Someone else once said, “Love isn’t love until you give it away.” There are so many of us who are selfish about who we will love. We want to segregate those we love from those who have wronged us. We want to withhold our love, and therefore our forgiveness.

But Jesus said to love your neighbor. His answer to the question of “And who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:29 was not a territorial one describing how many miles of circumference designated a neighbor. His answer pointed to the actions of the one who became a neighbor. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of a wounded man, and showed mercy on him. Mercy is what Jesus desires from us (Matthew 9:13), as a way in which we show our love to each other.

Sometimes forgiveness can only be given by acting out of love. Doing something nice, above and beyond the ordinary, for the person who has wronged you does wonderful things within your heart. It allows you to concentrate on ways to love them rather than ways to hate them. Your heart will be filled with that love, and a funny thing happens when you put love in your heart. It fills it up and pushes everything else out! In fact, we’ve all been given one of these “above and beyond” gifts. It was called the crucifixion, and by it we can have eternal life, and be freed from our own sins.

Now here’s one last warning on the subject of forgiveness. Listen carefully. (Are you listening?)

If you don’t forgive those who hurt you, God will not forgive you of your sins. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to! Mark 11:26 says “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” That’s God’s word, not mine.

Friends, more than anything else in this world we need God’s forgiveness. Far more harm can be done to us by not receiving that forgiveness and living a life dredged in sin than could ever be done to us by our enemies!

It’s a simple matter of power. God has it, and without Him, we don’t. You need Him to get through the trials that will come your way (see second paragraph). You need His love, which comes from being forgiven.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” If God’s mercies are new every morning, shouldn’t yours be as well?

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Good Stuff or the God Stuff

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry...” – 1 Samuel 15:23

When I was a little girl safety for children wasn’t where it is today. There were no age limit on toys, no electrical outlet covers, and cars had cigarette lighters even in the back seat where the kids sat. My parents had to become the FDA, EPA, and CPS agencies, in addition to being parents. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Faithie, leave that lighter alone! You’ll get burned!”

But it was pretty. When you pushed it in, it would glow bright red! And it popped out when it was done! POP! I loved to hear that sound. It was like having my own forbidden toy. When they’d go in the grocery store and leave me in the car (yes, we did that back then!), I’d push in the lighter and count to see how long before POP! Out it would come! The temptation was too great.

One day while they were in the grocery I decided to pretend I was smoking. I’d seen my parents do it, and it looked cool! I pushed in the lighter, and POP! I picked it up, and pretending I had a cigarette in my mouth, touched it to the side of my face right beside my lips! I still have the scar from the burn today.

We often seek to chase after temptations when we should just be obedient to what we’re told. Saul had the same problem. In 1 Samuel 15:2-3 God spoke to Saul and told him he was going to punish Amalek for what he’d done to Israel. Through that punishment, Saul was instructed to go and attack Amalek, and to “…utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

God’s rule was simple. Kill them all. Spare nothing. But Saul found the temptation to be too great. When he saw the possessions of the Amalekites, he found things his heart desired. I can just see Saul going into the land, and saying “Wow! Look how fluffy and fat these sheep are! Oh, my! Look how large the cattle are! I could sure enjoy myself a good steak from one of those cows!” No doubt when he saw the oxen he must have thought “It would be a shame to destroy such strong animals – especially when I could use them!”

We often choose the “good stuff” over the “God stuff”. God’s rewards to Saul were cut off because Saul decided to be disobedient to the commands of God and spared the best of the livestock, and even King Agag. Instead of receiving God’s favor and blessings, Saul brought upon himself punishment. God instructed Samuel, a prophet who dearly loved Saul, to speak to him about his sin. In 1 Samuel 15:23 he is told “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

Rebellion is a form of idolatry. Rebellion occurs when we remove God from the throne of our hearts and take His seat. We make ourselves god of our life. When we choose to disobey, we are punished just as Saul was. Saul was dethroned by God and replaced by King David for his sin. Without God’s favor, Saul’s joy was gone. He became emotionally scarred by the punishment he received. We carry the scars from such disobedience too much like I carry the scar from the cigarette lighter.

Lord, help us to remember that your ways and your thoughts are higher than ours. Help us to trust in your will rather than our own. We know that only you see the future and know what is best. Thank you Father for seeking to give us peace, joy, and prosperity. Forgive us when we get in the way of those blessings. Have mercy and patience on our sinful hearts Father! Grant us wisdom so that we may become your obedient children. Amen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nesting Dolls

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” – John 14:20

I have a Russian friend who owns a set of nesting dolls. These dolls are wooden shells with other dolls nested inside. They are brightly painted with lots of details. On the outside is a large old woman, called the Babooshka. Within here are other dolls, male and female, that represent a family of dolls. Inside the last doll is a small baby doll that doesn’t open.

These dolls are something she cherishes. The Babooshka represents her Grandmother, a woman who cared for her and loved her so deeply. Each doll inside she has named to be another member of her family.

As I looked at the dolls I noticed some have hands, and some don’t. The ones that do have hands have them painted on and simply touching the side of their garment. They’re not holding anything, not carrying anything. In America when we think of family, we think of the father as the provider, the children doing chores, and the mother cooking dinner. But in my friend’s culture, family is love first, and duty second.

In John 14 Jesus is explaining to his disciples that He will soon leave them. He says He will not leave them “orphans” because He will send the Holy Spirit to comfort them. In verse 20 He says “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” The metaphor in this statement reminds me of those nesting dolls.

God the Father is the larger outside doll with Jesus inside of Him. In John 14:31 Jesus says that God is greater than He is, and He does the will of His father who sent him.

We are inside Jesus. John 15:6-9 says that if we abide in Jesus, we can ask whatever we desire and it will be given us. He becomes our provider too. If we abide in Jesus we abide in His love for us – a love without condition. It also says that if we do not abide in him, we will be cast out as a withered vine, and burned.

Within us lies the last of the nesting dolls – the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Guide. This is where the analogy of the nesting dolls breaks down.

In the nesting doll family, each member is stronger than the inward member. But the Holy Spirit is our strength. He is greater, yet has been given as a gift to us by God the Father. The Holy Spirit is our power (Acts1:8), our comforter (Acts 9:31), our guide (John 14:26), the spirit of truth (John 14:17), the giver of our spiritual gifts (Hebrews 2:4), our seal (Ephesians 1:13), and our connection to the love of God (Romans 5:5).

Isn’t it good to know that we are covered in such strong layers of power as our Father God, our Lord Jesus, and even on this earth abide with the Holy Spirit?

Father, I praise you for you have created in and around me a great power. You are the lifter of my head, and the love that abides in me. How wonderful you are and how wonderful your creations! Thank you Father that you have found us worthy of such lavish affection. Thank you Lord Jesus that you did not abandon us, but sent your Holy Spirit to abide with us in a world where we are continually persecuted. Thank you that all the power we need is ours through faith. Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008


“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” – Genesis 2:18

I would like to have been a fly on the wall the day Adam was created. The animals must have watched in amazement and wondered “God, why didn’t you give him a female?” I can just see the female zebra whispering in her male counterpart’s ear “You know, he’s all alone!” Rumors of the single man must have traveled through Eden!

Can you imagine Adam’s realization as he named the animals and saw they all had female partners and yet, he didn’t? As each rooster and hen, bull and cow, buck and doe, stallion and mare came to him for naming. At some point he must have thought, “Wait a minute! Where’s my mate? Why am I alone?”

God sees the past, present and future all at once. That’s part of his omnipresence. He never intended not to make woman. He just waited till Adam had things under control. The garden had been planted, the animals named, a homestead created, the laws created, and Adam was walking in the garden with God every day. When the time was right, God created woman.

Genesis 2:18 tells us two things. First, it says “It is not good that man should be alone”. God saw that man needed someone. He didn’t want him to be alone. I know I’ve often heard people talk about how being single is a better than being married. Well, let me step out on a limb here and tell you, God disagrees! He says it’s not good for a man to be alone. The creation of woman also shows that man should wait on God to give him a wife – not to chase one down!

The rest of the verse tells us why it’s not good for man to be alone. It says “I will make him a helper comparable to him.” God saw that man needed a helper – someone to tend to his needs and help him with his daily life. A wife should never be the controller of the home. Now many of you know me and know that I’m an award winning, badge carrying, licensed control freak. Yet, this is Bible truth, and I’ll be the first to admit it. The husband’s position is to lead. A wife should only be the helper – the assistant if you will.

Take a look at how man was made first, and put in charge of everything. It was Adam who was told to tend the Garden of Eden. It was Adam who was told to name the animals. It was Adam who was told what to eat and not to eat. And it was Adam God called for when Eve and he had eaten of the forbidden fruit. What was woman put in charge of? Nothing!

Ladies, I know this is tough to swallow, but the truth often is. If you’re trying to lead your household, and not letting your husband have the reigns, you are out of God’s will. We weren’t created to be the head, but the helper.

Yet consider this: women were made with spare parts. Adam got along just fine without the rib God used to make woman. He didn’t need it. It was simply a spare part. But what Adam could not live without, in God’s eyes, was Eve. Although women may not be the head of the household, we are the neck! The head is very much dependant on us. Be the best neck you can be and you’ll find you like the things the head decides much better!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Can You Praise Him in This?

“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” - Job 2:10

The story of Job is one dear to my heart. Here’s a man so worthy of God’s love and attention that God himself offers him as a test to His enemy, Satan. Job 1:8 quotes God as saying to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

First, God calls Job His servant. This indicates that Job was not only a man who was upright and obedient, but he was also busy doing God’s work.

Secondly, God found no other like him on the entire earth. He was blameless – having nothing wrong between him and God, nothing to confess and nothing to be forgiven.

Thirdly, he feared God, which means he respected God out of the love in his heart. He shunned or turned from evil because he wanted nothing more than to be the man God wanted him to be. He was focussed on God like an archer aimed at a target.

And what was God’s reward for this obedience? He allowed him to suffer. He turned him over to Satan and said only “do not lay a hand on his person” meaning he couldn’t kill Job, but he could do anything else his evil heart could dream up.

Satan got to work. In only one day, he sent an enemy army that killed all Job’s donkeys and oxen. To make it look like God was the one pulling the evil strings, he next sent fire from Heaven to burn his sheep and the servants with them. Before Job could digest what had just happened, he learned that another army of bandits had stolen all his camels and killed more servants. And as the final straw Satan would place on Job’s back, all his sons and daughters were killed in a mighty wind that blew down the house they were in.

Could you praise God in this?
Could you praise God when your job is gone?
Could you praise God when your car is stolen?
Could you praise God when your friends and coworkers are gone?
Can you praise Him when your children are killed?
Can you praise God when all the evil of Satan is unleashed on you?

Job did.

The fact that Job did praise God rings of his relationship of trust and obedience to God. Being able to praise God when you can’t see a way out of the storm is more important in your faith walk that being able to praise God when you’re on the mountaintop. It’s when you’re suffering that God is pruning you. It’s when you’re in pain that God is shaving off the rough edges. It’s when you can’t find the answers that God is telling you to trust in His understanding above your own.

Praising God is a practice that perfects your faith. It does so because as you praise Him you realize He is actively working in all things.

When you realize that God is at work all around you, and that He really does have it all under control, peace comes.

Peace comes when you realize that you need not work to make your situation better because God has it all under control.

God is at work.


“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1: 6

One of the many things I’ve seen my Dad do with his hands is “whittle”. Some of you may call it carving, but here in Western Kentucky, we call it whittling. He once took a plank of wood from an old church he grew up in, and carved it into a pocketknife, complete with moving blade, and the emblem of a tree on one side. Of course, it was just a wooden knife, but it was useful. It was useful because it was what the carver had wanted it to be – a memory of his old church.

Our lives in God’s hands are like that plank of wood was in my Dad’s. Sometimes he whittles away at us, taking away the things that don’t belong. To us, they appear to belong. They are part of us.

Maybe it’s something in your past that causes you to fear or be less confident in who you are. God will take us through the trials that cause us to overcome the fear and pain of our past.

Maybe it’s a crutch you’re holding onto. Maybe you can’t seem to go to sleep at night without that last drink or that last cigarette. God will talk to you and help you to remove all crutches so you can be dependant only on Him.

Maybe it’s a relationship. Some relationships are more harmful than good and God does seek to pull those people that are hurting your walk with Him away from you. This can be very painful as we look at those that are our friends and wonder why God is taking us down a different path.

This is why Paul refers to the process as “work”. That’s a four-letter word none of us like! “Work” is not associated with joy. “Work” is not something we do because we want to but because we have to. But the “work” is God’s “work”, not our own. He is the carver. We can get into a lot of trouble when we try to do our own carving! What if the plank my Dad was carving suddenly decided to split right down the middle? His plan for it may have had to change, or he may have decided to throw it into the kindling pile.

Let God do the great work He has planned for you. He will make you a useful tool for His work. He will create in you the person He wants you to be. Knowing that all gifts from God are good, how can we fear his carving?

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Nail

As usual, Joseph was up much earlier than everyone else was. Joseph loved his work, and just couldn’t wait to go back to it each day. Jesus could hear the pounding of the hammer from his bedroom. It often woke him.

He walked to the window and watched as Joseph worked on the broken cart of Widow Jonas. A wheel had fallen off, and had to be replaced. Feeling a need to help his earthly Father, he walked out to Joseph.

“Jesus, I must have a new nail for the wheel. The old one is weak. Go see the blacksmith and bring back a strong nail.”

Jesus quickly walked through the neighborhood to the blacksmith’s shop. The lack of rain had made the streets very dusty, and as he walked he could feel the dust rising up and collecting on his ankles. The rocks pushed against the soles of his feet. He began to wish he’d taken time to strap on his sandals.

As he neared the blacksmith’s shop he could hear a different pounding. It was the sharp sound of metal against metal, as the blacksmith would beat the hot iron into shape. The smell was sulfuric and strong. As Jesus entered the shop he saw the fire as it bellowed within the oven. He couldn’t help but to watch the flames as they flickered from red to blue to green to yellow. His thoughts became deep as he watched the fire.

“Jesus! Where are you son?” The blacksmith must have been trying to get his attention for a while.

“Sir, my father needs a spike for Widow Jonas’ cart. The old one is weak and worn.” Jesus explained.

The blacksmith shuffled through a wooden box, and found the spike. As he handed it to Jesus the weight of it was almost unbearable for the small boy. As he walked back to Joseph’s shop, the metal and the thought of the spike caused his hand to ache. Jesus realized the significance of this size nail, and as he walked, his thoughts once again turned to the fire in the oven, and he prayed for strength.

He looked at the nail and thought about how important it was to the cart repair. Without it, the cart would remain broken. Without the nail in his hand, mankind would also be broken. His countenance began to rise as he though about the repair he would one day make.

“Here is the nail, Father!” Jesus said with a smile.

Mary appeared at the door, smiling at her son helping his father. As their eyes met, he saw the love in her heart, and knew God’s plan was perfect.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gifting of the Body

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11

“Bird-Brained”. Just another one of those childhood taunts that we would use to pick on other kids. It came to mind recently when I was watching a bird outside my kitchen window. This little bird was picking up grass, flying into the tree, and making a nest. I watched it do this for some time, diligent in its pursuit. Nothing but tiny little twigs of grass - molded into a bed that will cradle delicate little eggs in the roughest storms, and safely hold high above the ground these fragile little creatures. Grass and twigs - and yet, rarely do you ever see a bird nest on the ground.

Now, have YOU ever tried to build a bird nest out of twigs and grass? Have you ever tried to do it with only your mouth and feet? (Please tell me you haven’t!) God has given this ability to birds to sustain them. It’s a talent all their own. Much like their songs and sounds, it is completely unique to them. We really don’t think twice about it, but it is a gift from God. We couldn’t do it for them, and neither could the other animals.

We individually have certain talents and gifts given by God. But sometimes they go as unnoticed as the construction talents of birds!

Teachers are a prime example. Often they’re overlooked, or treated as college degreed babysitters. But their gifting is as unique as nest building! Consider spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, maintaining the attention of 20 small children. Above making them all behave, in spite of their diverse home lives and disciplinary backgrounds, you must teach each one to read, write, compute mathematical equations, make friends, be kind, eat their lunch, and remember their coats and backpacks. Teacher friends, I know that just scratches the surface. Indeed, teaching is a God given talent!

God gives us many talents. The talents and desires given for the earthly marketplace are often the same as our talents and gifting for ministry. It works that way because God wants us to enjoy our Christian walk with him. Is it any wonder why birds sing so sweetly? Their will for their life meets right up with God’s will for their lives!

I thank God that the things He has asked of me are things I enjoy tremendously. There’s a good reason He doesn’t ask me to tend to the sick, clean the Church, lead the singing, care for the grieving, or take care of the nursery. As wonderful as these talents are, they are not my abilities, nor my desires. God created me with a place in the Body of Christ and it’s work specifically for me, and He did the same for you! Each of us has a part, a unique part that makes the Body of Christ work. But without all those parts functioning, the Body of Christ becomes sick and crippled.

It’s easy for us to sit on the sidelines and complain about the tasks that others are performing, and how they should be done. But the only place for a tongue in the Body of Christ is the Head, which is Jesus Christ. His tongue is the only one worth listening to.

Often, it’s only the dedicated few that fill the many functions in the body. Could this be why the Body isn’t performing at 100%? No easier than we could build a mother bird a nest can we fill a position that’s meant for someone else in the Body of Christ. We all must take up the mantle and become an active member of the Body. As a 20 year veteran pew warmer, I can speak from experience in saying that you’ll only experience full joy and peace when you’re following God’s will for your life, and being active in the Body of Christ.

Satan has several skills of his own to counteract the Body of Christ. The first way he will try to disable the Church is to lie to its members about what God can do with them. He’ll tell you that you have no gifting. Remember Moses? He couldn’t speak well in his own eyes, but with God’s help, he became the leader of his people. God doesn’t need your ability – your availability will do fine! He’ll give you the abilities you need. 1 Peter 4:11 tells us that “…If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies…”

The Body of Christ isn’t to reside only in the Church building. Christ ministered inside a Church or Temple only a few times. He was found with those who needed him most – the world.

So what’s your talent? Can you cook? Then cook for the sick or hungry. Can you paint? Help your neighbor paint his house. Are you good with cars? Help a youth learn to take care of his/her own. Are you a spic-and-span cleaner? Help the widows in your neighborhood. Can you mow a yard? Mow the lawns of the elderly. If you can do nothing else, you can visit those who are homebound and offer your friendship.

In short, it’s all about how you can show the love that God shares with us to the people around you and especially those outside the Church. Think about the things you enjoy and what you can do for Christ. Find a way to become an active part of the Body of Christ doing the things God has gifted you to do, and your spirit will be singing like a bird!

Monday, February 25, 2008

All Seasons are Your Season

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.” – Mark 11:12-14

Most of us are living examples of our disbelief in God’s sovereignty. We say we believe that our days are numbered, and that God only knows the day in which we will die and meet Him face to face. Yet we don’t spend our time preparing for that day.

When Vacation Bible School is near, you’ll find many devote Christians studying God’s word in preparation. When a Revival or special Bible Study is coming, the same is true. Yet each and every day we wake could be the day that the alarm clock of our life goes off. It could be the day the angels are released from Heaven to escort us into the presence of our Lord. But do we believe it with our hearts?

The disciples were on they’re way out of Bethany after Jesus triumphal entry to Jerusalem before the Passover and His crucifixion. He walked by a fig tree, and seeing there was no fruit to be offered, he cursed the tree and it withered. But if you read Mark’s account of the incident, you’ll find that “it was not the season for figs.” Passover came in March or April. During this time fig trees would produce a number of buds, and then actual fruit later on. What Jesus was looking for was the edible buds that the tree would have had if it were going to bear fruit later on.

When Jesus found no edible buds on the tree, he cursed it. His judgement was not simply that the tree would never bear fruit again. The tree itself withered and died.

When reading this passage, I had to stop and ask myself, what if Jesus were to request figs of me today? Would I have anything to give? Would I be able to show him even the buds of fruit to come? Or would he look at me in disgust and condemnation?

The blood of Jesus did not come cheap. To spend day after day living our own lives and ignoring the work of God is to show no thankfulness for the shed blood of Christ, to deflate it’s value. Each and every day we should be able to lay some offering at the feet of Jesus, some small deed of good or lesson learned. Otherwise, what purpose in His kingdom do we serve? We’re as useless to Him as the fig tree that didn’t bear fruit when He was hungry.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blessings Under the Fridge

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Living near an army base, I have a sincere appreciation for military wives. These gals give up their husbands sometimes for years with only a few days notice. The kids of military men often find themselves talking only through emails to their Dad, and missing holidays and birthdays with him. It’s a sacrifice like none other on earth, and all done for us to remain a free nation.

I was recently watching television and saw a story about a little boy who’s Mom had made him a jar of M&M’s – one for each day his Dad was gone to Iraq. Each morning, the little boy would get up and eat one M&M out of the jar, knowing that each one gone from the jar meant Dad was one day closer to coming home.

Of course, my imagination soon kicked into gear, spawned by this Mom’s creativity. I thought, what if he dropped one and it rolled under the fridge? This was a finite number of M&M’s! He couldn’t just eat another in its place! It would be gone forever, never to be tasted, and never to be enjoyed!

While sitting in church the other morning, I realized something. Each day I live with sin in my life – regardless of the sin – great or small – is a day I’ve dropped my M&M under the fridge! God seeks to bless me. Ephesians 3:20-21 says that He chooses to do for me the things that I cannot dream to ask for, or even imagine! He want’s to give me the things that my heart desires, but my head has not acknowledged. Yet, when I live with unconfessed sin in my heart, I toss those blessings away like an M&M under the fridge – never to be enjoyed.

As I sat there thinking about this, I wondered how many gifts from God had I lost by not confessing my sins quickly? How many wonderful, unimaginable, incredibly good things in my life had I blocked by my sinful nature? Was it financial freedom? Was it contentment in the midst of stressful situations? Was it an opportunity to witness and lead someone to Christ that I missed? Would all the good things I’m now enjoying have been mine years ago had I lived for Christ? In my heart of hearts, I believe so.

Proverbs 28:13 says “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy “. Friends, seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. Don’t let today’s blessings roll under the fridge.