"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memory Verse Monday

When I was 19 years old I worked with a woman who had been a teenager at the time of the Vietnam War draft. Several of her male friends had been drafted.

She told me some went to war, some went to jail for refusing to go to war, and some went to Canada to avoid going to war.

She said the ones who answered the call to serve suffered the most. Some even suffered unto death.

Twenty-something years have passed since our conversation, and I still remember her pained expression as she recounted the agony the war had caused so many of her friends.

I couldn’t post a blog on Memorial Day without acknowledging the brave men and women of our proud American military and their families.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for preserving our freedom.

I’m remembering you and thanking God for you this Memorial Day.

Today’s Memory Verse:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Celebrating Commencement

My daughter’s last day of high school is today. She heads to Disneyland for Grad Night next week, and a few days later she’ll don her cap and gown and receive her diploma.

At 18 years of age Sarah is done with campus cliques, done with permission slips, done with the exit exam.

High school for Sarah is over.

So why do we call the graduation ceremony “commencement”?

grad-u-a-tion n
1.     the completion of a course of academic study
2.     a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are awarded to students who have successfully completed their studies

            com-mence-ment n
1.     the beginning of something
2.     a ceremony during which degrees and diplomas are conferred, or the day on which this ceremony takes place

Look exclusively at the second definition listed in the Encarta World English Dictionary, and see synonyms. But according to the first definition, the words are opposites.

How odd. Graduation waves goodbye. Commencement beckons hello.

At 33 years of age Jesus’ earthly life and ministry came to an end. He no longer walked the streets of Jerusalem. He no longer taught the assembled masses. He no longer touched and healed the broken and hurting. Jesus hung on the cross and said, “it is finished.”

Life on earth for Jesus was over.

But without a burial we couldn’t have a resurrection.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 NIV

I wrote last week about letting go of my little girl. Her departure from the nest has not come without tears. Will I focus on the graduation goodbye or the commencement hello? The burial end or the resurrection beginning?

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18-19a NIV

I’ve learned that mourning an ending can water down the desire to celebrate a beginning. I don’t want to lose joy while experiencing sadness. So during this season of “graduation goodbyes” I will allow myself to cry. But I will also train my mind to think of commencement. Think of resurrection, Think of Jesus.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Enough Already!

An editor recently asked me to explain the central message I want to get across with my writing. I could’ve put it into three short words, but he gave me up to two minutes.

So I told him what happened when my family visited a growing, influential church a couple years ago.

The associate pastor took the platform to promote Life Groups. (Formerly known as small groups, cell groups, and home groups, Life Groups foster community in large churches by bringing a limited number of people together to build relationships.)

In an effort to communicate the near necessity of joining a Life Group, the pastor declared, “God is not enough.”

My eyes quickly found the lead pastor to see if he would interject. Apparently he hadn’t heard.

I tried to quiet my unsettled spirit, but he said it again. “In this day and age, God is not enough. You need to be in community with other people.”

I looked again at the man in charge. My pained expression begged him to intervene, but I was lost in a sea of faces.

I breathed a Word of truth.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV

My husband patted my knee. I tried again to relax.

The Life Group champion made one more pitch before his exit. “So be sure to stop by the table after church today and sign up, because God is not enough.”

Recounting the story to the editor caused a fresh break in my heart. Hundreds and hundreds of people had surrounded me that morning in a congregation representing only one of three to assemble that day.

“God is enough,” I told him. “He’s more than enough!”

The man from the Christian publishing company replied, “I can see you’re passionate about your message.”

I yearned to beg him to help me get it out there, but my time was up and he moved on.

Thanks to that encounter I can now passionately share my central message in three short words. 

No matter what you’ve heard, know this:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idle Idols

A friend of mine misspelled a word in her recent blog post. The irony of the unintended play on words made me smile… and gave me an idea for a blog post of my own.

I could tell by the context of the sentence she meant to write “idle” but instead she wrote “idol.”

To the fans of television’s American Idol, an idol is “somebody or something greatly and often fanatically admired and loved.” I’m not going to write about that kind of idol.

The Encarta World English Dictionary gives the above definition for “idol,” but it also includes two other meanings.

            i-dol n
1.     something such as a statue or carved image that is worshiped as a god
2.     in monotheistic religions, any object of worship other than the one God

From the golden calf to Nebuchadnezzar’s 90 by 9 display, the Bible clearly disapproves of the first definition in the list above.

Take a look at what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah:

The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.
He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.
Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."
From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god." Isaiah 44:13-17

Isaiah’s “idle idol” illustrates the futility of worshiping a chunk of wood.

Although today’s more enlightened culture may have abandoned bowing down to statues, far too many of us revere “idle idols” of another kind.

Can you name of few?

Anything we depend on—other than God—for serenity, security, significance or strength is an idol.


Placing our hopes in idle idols—or chasing after not-so-idle idols—can wear us down. But...

worshiping the one true God invites serenity, security, significance and strength to come to us.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalms 62:5-8 NIV

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To Teach or Not to Teach

Just as the approach of a flashing, wailing ambulance sends my car straight to the curb, the sound of God’s voice commanding my destiny sends my face straight to the carpet.

On April 27, 2002 God’s directive pierced as loud and clear as any siren. “Shawna, you sing and that is good. But God wants to speak through you as well.”

Face down I confessed my trepidation concerning such a call. Didn’t God know the Scriptures?

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:28 NIV 

I reminded Him I’d be safer with my lips zipped. He exposed my pride.

So I presented a far more humble objection. Certainly God knew of this warning:

Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. James 3:1-2 The Message

I reminded Him I was fallible and far from qualified. He exposed my self-reliance.

So I reluctantly, fearfully agreed.

I began blogging keenly aware of my imperfection. That’s why every single post contains Scripture. (At least I’ll get something right!)

The more I learn the more I lean on God to teach anything.

Did you know that some Biblical scholars don’t think Matthew wrote the first gospel? And many students of the Word assert Lazarus wrote the Gospel of John? And a number of teachers far more brilliant than I contend the prophecies recorded in Revelation have already come to pass?

When I started teaching I didn’t know these controversies existed.

Here’s what I do know: 

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV

So if I attribute the words contained in Matthew to the tax collector known as Levi, or if I call John the disciple Jesus loved, or if I confuse the literal and the figurative in the Bible’s final chapter, and I’m wrong… I’m not going to lose sleep over it. 

But if I don’t obey God, I’ll count sheep until sunrise. 

God has called me to humbly, cautiously teach “the things revealed.” When He prompted me to start blogging, I procrastinated for two years and then finally began by positioning myself as the opposite of Colombo.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV 

God knows my inadequacies even better than I do. (Mercy!) And He still wants to speak through me. So I press my face to the floor and trust God to work all things together for good.

Here’s what I’ve learned: 

God is responsible for the consequences of my obedience.

As long as I’m following closely after Him, He’ll be there to catch me if I trip and fall.

He’ll do the same for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Memory Verse Monday

My husband chose today’s memory verse. I had already selected another one, but I loved his suggestion. I’ll tell you why.

Far too many people who believe in Jesus aren’t 100% certain they’re going to heaven.

I could write all week about assurance. (Maybe I will.)

I already blogged about how we should depend on God like children depend on their parents, so I won’t repeat the concept here. But I do want to stress once again that God wants us to feel secure in His love.

God wants us to feel secure in His love.

The verse my husband suggested was written by the disciple whom Jesus loved. He wrote it so you and I would be assured of our place in God’s family.

Do you know for certain that you are a child of God?

Today’s Memory Verse:

Friday, May 21, 2010

God’s Generous Love

Last Friday I blogged about a K-LOVE listener’s question. She called the radio station and asked, “How do you know God loves you?

I promised last week I would share another story today of God proving His love to me. Coincidentally, K-LOVE created the circumstances through which God demonstrated His love.

The radio station had called and invited me to attend a focus group. A few hundred women in my age demographic gathered at a local hotel to listen to snippets of dozens of songs. We held dialing devises for rating the music—based solely on our preference—from one to ten.

K-LOVE not only offered $50 for my time, but they also said if I arrived at least 15 minutes early, my name would go into a drawing for an additional $50.

It marked the first and only time I’ve planned to arrive anywhere early.

The morning of the focus group I prayed a very specific prayer.

Lord, You say in James 4:2 that the reason we don’t have what we want is because we don’t ask for it. I really want the extra $50. I don’t need it to pay bills, but I’d love to go shopping!

The praise music filled my bathroom as I applied my makeup and spoke aloud to God, who I knew was listening.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. 1 John 5:14-15 NLT

With minutes to spare before heading to the hotel, I finished my Scripture-based prayer.

Father, You say in the very next verse that we don’t get what we want because we ask with wrong motives. You know my heart. I would love to pop in on Macy’s shoe sale this afternoon. But if a woman attends the focus group this morning who desperately needs the money, I’ll understand if you want to give it to her… I just didn’t want to be guilty of not asking!

I was one of the last ladies whose name went in the kitty. I spent the next hour listening to a few measures of lots and lots of positive, encouraging music.

At the end of the break they held the drawing. I almost felt God smiling and poking me in the ribs. Sensing His delight and giddiness, I knew my name would be called. I even pushed my chair back.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22 NIV

As I heard my name announced and walked up front to claim my crisp $50 bill, I not only knew God loved me. 

I know He likes me!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Pray?

Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker:
As long as there are tests there will be prayer in schools.

I shudder to picture a nervous ninth grader bowing over his math final, whispering, “Dear God, help me get an ‘A’” only to be yanked out of his chair by the prayer police. Fortunately, the government still allows student-initiated prayer. But Lord have mercy on the teacher, who in the silence known only on testing day, utters, “Dear God, help my students do their best.”

Are opponents of prayer afraid it will actually work? If only believers were as passionate about prayer as the lobbyists who barred it from the classroom.

Perhaps God’s enemies better comprehend the power of praying in Jesus’ name.

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 16:23b NIV

I’ve always believed prayer works. I figured if I didn’t get what I asked for, God was simply saying, “No.” But I never doubted my efforts to get through. I grew up saying bedtime prayers, believing God was as big as the star-studded sky. He could do anything. All I had to do was ask. So I did, believing God for impossible things.

I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:23-25 NIV

When I became an adult, God opened my eyes to a sad truth. Far too many people don’t expect prayer to change their circumstances. Apparently they don’t believe prayer actually works.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22 NIV

A pastor I admired summed up his view of prayer with phrases like this:

Why should God change His mind for my benefit?
A Sovereign God knows what’s best.
I might ask for the wrong thing.
Who am I to twist God’s arm?

This pastor offered prayers of Adoration, Confession and Thanksgiving. 

But never Supplication.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

When you face your next test—whether it’s a math final or another kind—will you consider prayer? Will it make a difference if you pray?

If you want to better comprehend the power of praying in Jesus’ name, take a closer look at what He said about it. 

His words are written in red.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7 NIV

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A More Noble Pursuit

When I pursue my own agenda, exhaustion is God’s consequence.

I first articulated that thought in the Bible study I wrote about God’s all sufficiency called Enough is Enough. I wish I always came up with such pithy comments. I could update my facebook status several times a day.

Right now I’m too tired to blog or tweet or even think.

Perhaps I’ve been pursuing my own agenda.

David wrote in one of my favorite Psalms, “Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14b NIV

Paul instructed Timothy to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. (See 2 Timothy 2:22)

Maybe I’ve been pursuing the wrong things…

As a simple jar of clay, I can only pour out what God has poured in. Since I do not intend to fill this page with blither, I’m going to take the day off to pursue God’s agenda.

Hopefully He’ll give me something to write about tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dreams that Speak

A couple weeks ago I mentioned God sometimes speaks to me in my dreams, and I promised to write about my dreams every now and then.

Because of the scheduled events of my day today I couldn’t help but remember a dream I had 13 years ago. Believe me, I’ll never forget it.

If you read my Mother’s Day post, you know of Sam, my middle born son. More than a year had passed since his body had been lowered into the grave and his spirit had left me to be with Jesus when I had this dream.

The bagger asked if I needed help to my car and I told him I could handle the few groceries I’d purchased. Sammy’s infant carrier rested securely in the shopping cart as I carried my grocery bags to the car, buckled myself in and drove away without him.

Suddenly I stood at the bank teller’s window. My son rocked snugly in his infant carrier at my feet while I transacted business. The teller handed me my receipt and I thanked her. I gathered up my purse, left Sammy in the bank and drove away.

The next thing I knew, I was buying stamps. Once again I completely disregarded the presence of my precious baby boy as I drove out of the parking lot, abandoning him at the post office.

I awoke barely able to breathe. My face and my pillow drenched with tears. Sobbing I choked on my flood of words.

Sammy, Mommy would never do that to you. Mommy loves you and would never do that. Sam, Sam, I would never do that to you.

I cried out to God, close to panic and beyond empty. No heavenly presence comforted me. No peace that passes human understanding embraced me. Instead guilt and shame pressed against my chest. I wept and wept and wept myself to sleep.

The next day my journey through grief had boomeranged. Sam’s death felt as fresh as the day I’d buried him. My progress toward healing seemed a wasted trip.

I drove alone in my car to my mom’s and managed to describe my nightmare, reliving each scene. My mother quietly listened and then said, “You’re right. If Sam were here you would never do that.” With tenderness and wisdom she continued, “But Sam is not here.” I sucked in breath and yearned to cuddle my son. Then Mom asked a question that set me free. “Could it be that you’re afraid of letting him go?”

She was right. Getting on with life meant leaving him in God’s hands.

My daughter Sarah was 5 years old at the time. Today she’s 18. She’ll be graduating from high school soon and moving out. Getting on with life means I need to leave her in God’s hands.

I need to remember that today as we shop for items she’ll need to live on her own. I need to remember that when tempted to abandon my real responsibilities by dwelling on past ones.

Letting her go doesn’t mean I love her any less.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

The process of letting go—whether to death or to a new stage in life—feels more like war than peace.

I know exactly what I need to do today to make peace with letting go.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received… Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 NLT

Monday, May 17, 2010

Memory Verse Monday

A chalkboard hangs in my kitchen to aid in Scripture memory. In order to make it fun for my kids I use my own hieroglyphics for them to decipher. I might draw a light bulb with yellow chalk to represent the word “light,” a red heart in place of the word “love,” and a fluffy white ewe lamb always means “you.”

I drew the verse I’ve chosen for today on the chalkboard several weeks ago. Both my kids decoded all but one word. I wonder if you can interpret my artwork. (If not, don’t worry. I’ve written it in plain English below.)

Don’t forget to click on the image to download it. Once the Memory Verse is on your computer, you can easily print it and post it or carry it with you. You could also make today’s Memory Verse the wallpaper on your computer or even your cell phone.

I urge you to memorize today’s verse so you can declare it whenever you are afraid.

Today’s Memory Verse:

Friday, May 14, 2010

How Does God Love?

Yesterday on K-LOVE a listener contacted the radio station with an honest question.

How do you know God loves you?

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

Generalities and Biblical expressions would not satisfy her. She wanted a personal example of God communicating His love for an individual.

Actions speak louder than words.

How do you know God loves you? What evidence can you present to prove His love for you?

My husband knows I love him because I make the morning coffee even though I don’t drink it.

My daughter knows I love her because when she writes a new song I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to sit and listen and beam with pride.

My son knows I love him because I take him for ice cream even when his team loses.

I wonder... can you get that specific with God’s displays of love?

The on-air personalities at K-LOVE invited callers to share stories about a time when God proved His love. I didn’t call. But I could write a blog every Friday for a year and not run out of stories.

I blogged recently about a time God loved on me.

I invite you to read it again (or for the first time) today. Next Friday I’ll share another story of how God has proved His love for me.

I’d love to hear your stories. In fact, I invite you to use the “Comment” feature to tell me.

How do you know God loves you?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pray Hard... or Pray Short?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Christians were united in their beliefs regarding something as important as prayer?

Several years ago I served on staff at a church. At our annual Christmas party one year, a coworker gave me the perfect gift: a wall plaque declaring, “Life is short. Pray hard.” She said when she saw it she immediately thought of me.

My pastor (and boss) rolled his eyes and said, “It should say, ‘Life is hard. Pray short.’”

He believed we should never ask God for anything. After all, God knows better than we do what we need. My pastor’s prayers consisted of adoration, confession and thanksgiving. But never supplication.

I’ve always believed God moves in response to our prayers.

Disagreeing with my pastor sent me searching the Bible for truth. I don’t want to follow a doctrine simply because it was handed down to me. I want to track down and adhere to the tenets of Scripture.  

I was repeatedly drawn to two Bible passages that confirmed my long-held beliefs.

  1. The Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18 begins like this: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 NIV

  1. The verses under a header reading “Effective Prayer” state this:  Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

God kept me at that church long enough to challenge me to substantiate my beliefs with His Word alone. Since then my “what-does-the-Bible-say-about-prayer” radar has alerted me to numerous Scriptures that teach us to ask God for our daily bread and so much more.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get Onboard!

My daughter sent me the above comic via text last night. I knew instantly how to apply it.

Delayed obedience results in consequences.

Sometimes God calls us away from rock solid familiar ground to an uncertain sea of unknowns. Whether we hang back due to fear or distraction or sheer defiance, we miss the boat.

As surely as delayed obedience results in consequences, following God’s direction leads to blessing. So let’s get onboard!

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22 NIV 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good News Isn't Hard to Find

Arguments don’t always have positive outcomes. I witnessed one that did. 

My college friend had come to visit with her fiancé, and our conversation turned to spiritual matters. (My husband says I somehow manage to steer every discussion toward God. What can I say? He’s a mysterious and captivating subject!)

My girlfriend grew up in a devout Catholic family. Her fiancé had never entered a place of worship. She knew all the major Bible stories. He’d never heard of Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Peter, James or John. She believed in God. So did he. But neither was convinced they were good enough to earn a spot in heaven. 

I told them they didn’t have to earn it. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 

Neither had heard gaining access to heaven didn’t depend on their own efforts.

My girlfriend said she’d been taught to go to confession, recite her prayers and work to avoid an extended stay in purgatory. Her fiancé grew up believing nothing in life came for free.

I told them heaven wasn’t free.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! Ephesians 1:7 The Message 

The girl I met at a Catholic university folded her arms across her chest and declared she’d been brainwashed as a kid. “Learning the truth would be so much easier for you,” she tossed at her fiancé. “Your head hasn’t been filled with misinformation.”

I quietly watched the argument progress.

He insisted her journey to faith would take far less effort since she already had some Biblical knowledge. She disagreed, claiming her understanding was so screwy she’d have to unlearn things before she could learn things. He argued her upbringing gave her a head start. She contended his ignorance paved an unhindered path to comprehending truth.

Their healthy debate contained such persuasive arguments they agreed to help each other seek truth. By the time they exchanged wedding vows they’d both secured a spot in heaven through faith in Jesus.

The prophet Jeremiah recorded a remarkable promise of God.

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:13 NLT 

Whether you begin your search with baggage or seek without knowing where to look, God will not hide. He will bring you to a place of understanding.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! 

But don't take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God's ways had no idea of any of this, didn't know the first thing about the way God works, hadn't the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God's covenants and promises in Israel, hadn't a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. Ephesians 2:7, 11-13 The Message 

No wonder Jesus called it “Good News.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Memory Verse Monday

Last Monday I started a new regular feature. If you read my post on May 3rd, you already know about Memory Verse Mondays. I plan to post a Memory Verse every Monday rather than write the personal devotions I customarily share. (I’ll continue with those every Tuesday through Friday.) I promise to include only verses I’ve committed to memory myself, so I know it can be done!

I was excited to discover that a few of you clicked on last week's Memory Verse image to download it. It’s easy to do. With a few simple steps you too can download and print today’s Memory Verse.

I hope you’ll carry it with you or post it in a conspicuous place and make a wholehearted effort to memorize it. 

Today I’ve posted a favorite. It gives a beautiful picture of the power of the Heavenly Father’s love for you.

Today’s Memory Verse:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

A few years before I became a mother I found a one-frame comic in a magazine on an end table in the front office of my church. A pastor cradled his newborn and cooed, “Welcome to the world my little bundle of sermon illustrations.”

I connected immediately because my beloved dad served as a pastor until cancer sent him home to Jesus last year. I wonder if as a new father he guessed his “little bundle” would one day draw from a plethora of illustrations delivered by her own offspring.

Since birthing this blog last month, I’ve shared stories about both my children… my living children. Something about Mother’s Day makes me want to tell the world I have three children.

My oldest has grown into an amazing young woman. Sadly, this Sunday marks the first Mother’s Day I will not spend with her. My “baby” will soon be in junior high. His voice has deepened and he wears men’s shoes.

My middle born resides in heaven.

There. I said it. I have three beautiful children.

One moves into her first apartment very soon. One will remain under my roof six more years. One nestled a few short weeks in my arms. All will spend eternity with me in heaven.

I’m so thankful to be their mom.

Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep. Psalm 127:3-5 The Message

To my female friends with children—whether they live under your watchful eye, out on their own, or with their Heavenly Father—I pray you enjoy a blessed Mother’s Day. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Childlike Faith

Three years ago on a crisp winter morning, I delivered some bad news to my son. My car had died… again. It had been sitting in our garage for several days because we couldn’t afford to have it towed to the shop.
I had been using my husband’s truck to deliver Scott to school each day, but this particular morning he and his truck were out of town. My rote morning routine found me standing speechless in the garage.
I dug my hands into my coat pockets. “Scott, we’re going to have to walk to school.”
My then 9-year-old woefully objected. “It’s too cold!”
No kidding.
A spontaneous, ridiculous thought found its way to my lips before I could rein it in. “You could pray for the car to start.”
Uh oh. I was not in the mood to teach my son that God does not always answer our prayers.
My son clasped his little hands together, bowed his head and pleaded. “Dear God, please start my mommy’s car.”
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22 NIV
I climbed into my very dead car, stuck the keys in the ignition and looked at my son with my best attempt at an encouraging smile. Scott’s hopeful face almost broke my heart.
“Come on, God,” I whispered. “Please do this for my son.” I felt like the man who said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Mark 9:22b NIV
I turned the key and the car roared to life and idled as if it had done so every morning that week.
“’If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23 NIV
Scott looked happy and relieved, but in no way surprised as he climbed in and buckled up. My son acted as if the miracle we’d just witnessed was the most natural thing in the world.
I drove straight to the shop after dropping my son at his elementary school. After keeping the car for several hours they couldn’t find a thing wrong with it.

“You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:31b NLT

Why indeed.
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