"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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Wages of Jealousy

I hate jealousy. I hate it most of all in me. Why can’t I simply be happy for someone else’s success instead of secretly wishing the same would happen for me? And why do I think it’s unfair when life is kinder to the other guy than it is to me?

God does not excuse this petty jealousy. He exposes it. Like He did in this parable of Jesus:

For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing. At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, “Why haven’t you been working today?” They replied, “Because no one hired us.” The landowner told them, “Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.” That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, “Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.” He answered one of them, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” Matthew 20:1-15 NLT

I can’t help but question the order in which the landowner paid his workers. Don’t you just know if he had settled first with the workers he’d hired at sunrise, they would have gone home happy?

But no. They had to wait around only to be disappointed.

Disappointed by their “fair” wages, and reprimanded by the haunting question the landowner handed them along with those wages.

Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?

Honestly, I’m thrilled God is kind. That’s why I hate my pathetic auto-response of jealousy.

So what’s a girl to do?

Shortly before Jesus said his final goodbyes to the disciples, he told Peter what would happen to him at the end of his life.

Peter’s immediate response was to wonder about someone else’s destiny.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:20-22 NIV

Indeed, when it comes to God’s plans for anyone else’s life, what is that to me? His plans for my own life are mysterious enough.

So what’s a girl to do?

I will do my best to heed the words of Jesus to Peter, 
“You must follow me.”

So to the God who knit me together in my mother’s whom, to the God who has plans for me—to prosper me and not to harm me, to the God who is the author and perfecter of my faith—of my very life, hear my prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

Because if I’m on that path, what could I possibly be jealous of?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Memory Verse Monday


Many times I’ve quoted today’s memory verse as a must-learn for anyone with children.

The Lord knows I’ve claimed this verse many times after “losing it” with one of my kids. (Usually my teenager.)

I’m thinking this verse must be where the saying “let’s kiss and make up” came from. 

Perhaps it also fostered this one: Love is blind.

All of this is reason enough to memorize 1 Peter 4:8. 
But here’s my favorite reason.

When we see the word “love” in the Bible, we can often interchange it with the name of God, because 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.”

If we marry 1 John 4:8 with 1 Peter 4:8, we come up with a great promise indeed!

Thank you God for covering over a multitude of my sin!

Today’s Memory Verse:


Friday, June 25, 2010

Dreams that Speak

Sometimes I enter my dreams “already in progress.” Three years ago I experienced one like that. The back-story of my dream would disturb me after I woke up, because I would never have put myself in the situation I found myself in. But in my dream I had no problem with what I had done. It was not only the right thing to do, it was expected.  

I can’t tell you why, but I had given my children to someone else to raise. I’d made only one request of the family that received my cherished newborns.

“Tell them about me.” I urged. “Tell them who I am and how much I love them.”

I’d given the family everything they would need to make sure my kids knew me and understood the intensity of my love for them.

They solemnly promised to carry out my wishes.

When I entered the scene of my dream, I was preparing to meet my children for the very first time. Sarah was 15, Scott was 10 and Sam was there too! He was 11.

Beside myself with excitement, I imagined them running to me, throwing their arms around me, and talking nonstop about how wonderful it was to finally see my face and hear my voice after having heard so much about me.

I felt my heart pounding as I entered the room where they waited, huddled together on a sofa. Right away I recognized those beautiful, precious children as my own.

I thought my chest would explode with delight. I could hardly wait to embrace them. I hurried over to the sofa and stood before them with a smile as wide as the heavens.

My beloved children looked uncomfortable. They shifted awkwardly and remained glued to the couch. I suddenly realized with horror that they had no idea who I was.

Just then the man and woman who had promised to carry out my wishes appeared. The children looked relieved. I felt my stomach turn. I didn’t know whether to scream in anger or collapse in grief.

“You were supposed to tell them about me,” I cried. “But they don’t recognize me at all. My children have no idea who I am!” I was shaking visibly. “I trusted you to tell them about me. To tell them how much I love them. But because of you they don’t even know of my existence.”

My gut wrenched with pain so real it woke me up. I could barely breathe, but my heart whispered, “God, what was that?”

I heard His strong voice respond to my heart saying, “That’s what you have done to Me.”

His loving admonition convicted rather than condemned. Even so, my heart broke as He gently, but firmly continued, “Unless you tell my children about Me, they won’t know how much I love them.”

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—that we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:1-7 NIV

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fact or Fiction?

I once put my foot in my mouth at a writer’s conference. I told a best-selling, award-winning novelist I’d been surprised by one of her books.
 
“I read nonfiction to learn and grow, and I read fiction to escape and be entertained.” She continued smiling so I remained clueless and rambled on. “I didn’t think God could speak through a made up story.”

(At least I said “speak” instead of “work.” Even so, her beautiful smile started to fade.)

I wanted to push rewind and start over. Instead I blurted, “But God spoke to me loud and clear from the pages of your book The Novelist.”

Angela Hunt’s imaginative and gripping novel helped me discover the power of story to communicate life-giving Biblical principles.

(After all, didn’t Jesus tell stories to make a point?)

Last night I stayed up way too late finishing Mary DeMuth’s latest novel. Perhaps I was doing penance for my careless words to Angela Hunt, but I felt compelled to write a review to post on Amazon.com.

Here’s what I wrote:

If an author could win an Oscar for best actress, then Mary DeMuth deserves one for the voice of Ouisie Pepper, the protagonist in her latest novel, Life in Defiance. DeMuth’s compelling work of fiction—written in the first person point of view of her main character—reads like the author’s diary.

Which is why DeMuth deserves an academy award.

Ouisie Pepper abuses alcohol to escape the reality of her violent husband. The brilliant storyteller who created Ouisie rarely drinks and enjoys a secure relationship with her husband. 

I know this not only because I recently read DeMuth’s memoir, Thin Places, but also because as a member of her prayer team, I lifted Mary’s request for God to help her understand the incomprehensible reasons a woman stays in a dangerously abusive marriage. 

God answered.

DeMuth has created a character so convincing, the reader will long to climb into the story, ache to help Ouisie, and rejoice in her eventual transformation. Ouisie Pepper’s thoughts and feelings are so real, readers witness the endless cycle brought about by domestic abuse—from despondency to false hope back to despondency. 
 
And they too will understand.

Readers will enjoy Life in Defiance for the sheer entertainment value. But I pray they take away a longer lasting benefit. May we all awaken to the tragic fact that family secrets exist in the real world too. And the same hope that rescued Ouisie can deliver anyone.

Yes, God does speak through talented writers like Angela Hunt and Mary DeMuth.

Oh, how I pray He speaks through me!

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 NIV

Monday, June 21, 2010

Memory Verse Monday


The NIV Bible places this header at the top of Psalm 102:

A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the LORD.

Hear his cry from the second verse of that Psalm:

“Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.”

I guarantee you an “afflicted man” who “pours out his lament” is a man praying with all his heart. God never hides under those circumstances.

When we cry out our “Olly Olly Oxen Free” prayers to God from the bottom of our hearts, He will not stay hidden.

Listen to His promise contained in our memory verse for this week.

Today’s Memory Verse:


Friday, June 18, 2010

God's Phone Book



Reading something you’ve written is kinda like pulling out an old picture of yourself. I did that yesterday. I’m not sure why, but I found my way to an earlier blog post about hearing God’s voice. I’d titled the story God’s Due Date, and I’d mentioned my husband says I own “the red phone.” (The hotline that gives you direct access to God.)
The prospect of hearing God’s voice has always fascinated Steve. He believed it could happen, but it had never happened to him. Our daughter received her first “phone call” when she was only 3 years old.

For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it. Job 33:14 NIV

Sarah waited anxiously that day for her daddy to get home from work. When he finally stepped through the door, she ran to greet him.

“Daddy, Daddy! God talked to me today!”

(I confess. I eavesdropped from the other room.)

“God talked to you?” My husband sounded curious, but not convinced.

“Yes, Daddy.” she assured him. “He said, ‘Sair…..ah. Sair…..ah.’”

I couldn’t help but smile at how she drew out her name. Earlier in the day she’d relayed her experience to me in the exact same way.

“Are you sure it wasn’t Mommy calling you?”

“Daddy.” Based on the tone of her voice, I could almost see her determined expression, with hands firmly planted on her hips. “It wasn’t Mommy. It was a man’s voice.”

“Okay, then.” I could hear the love my husband has for his little girl. “What did God say?”

Long pause.

I finally peeked around the doorframe and saw my daughter tapping her index finger to her cheek.

“I don’t remember.”

Steve didn’t see me, even though his eyes flew open wide. “God spoke to you and you don’t remember what He said?”

Fifteen years would pass before Steve learned his name was in God’s phone book too.

Shortly before 4:00 a.m. he awoke to a “very loud thought” in his head.

“Get up. I want to talk to you.”

I remember waking up when Steve left our darkened bedroom. I assumed he was headed to the kitchen for a drink.

But later that morning he told me he’d been jolted awake and drawn to his Bible.

In the darkness of that extraordinary morning, God led Steve to two specific Scripture verses that spoke straight into his heart.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 NIV

I asked him if he’d gotten right out of bed when he “heard” God calling him.

“No, I was tired.”

Steve’s next comment reminded me of his incredulous response to our then 3-year-old daughter’s nonchalance over 15 years ago.

“But I figured if God wanted to talk to me, I’d better get up and listen.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are Habits Good or Bad?

I’ve heard a lifestyle change takes 3 months to become routine.

Do you want to stop complaining? Bite your tongue for 90 days and you’ll tame it. Do you want to become a regular at the gym? Force yourself to exercise daily for 12 weeks and you’ll transform your body and soul.

I made a lifestyle change on March 22nd when I launched Oil from the Jar. On Tuesday, blogging will officially become a habit for me.

But I’m not sure it’s a sensible one.

Let me back up.

I attend a large church filled with people. Sometimes during a worship song (a loud one so no one can hear me) I raise my voice and call out, “Do You see me, God? I’m here! Can You hear me? I love You!”

I sense His pleasure and I laugh and sing a little louder.

I know it’s silly, but I keep doing it for some reason. Perhaps it’s because I’m a worship leader. For years I stood on the platform every week and led the congregation. I knew God saw me. And so did everyone else.

But hidden in the crowd, I’m like a single grain of sand.

When I sit at my computer writing, I feel the same way. Sometimes while I’m typing my heart calls out, “Are You reading this, God? I’m here!”  

Most of the time I sense His pleasure and my fingers dance across the keyboard. But other times I stare at a blinking cursor and draw a blank.

I feel invisible.

Maybe it’s because I’m a speaker. For years I’ve stood on a platform and poured out the gems God has taught me. When I’m ministering at a conference or retreat, I know God sees me. And so does everyone in attendance.

But alone at my computer, I’m like a lone star in a vast galaxy.

Is writing this blog sensible? Should I make it a habit? I honestly don’t know.

While I’m thinking and praying about it, I’m going to post just 3 days a week: Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

And every time I do, I’m going to claim the promise God gave me back in 2003:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Can I Pray?


Yesterday a friend asked how she could pray for me. I told her to ask God to make days 48 hours long.

A Scripture immediately popped into my mind:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I think God was telling me I don’t need more hours in a day. I need more wisdom.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. James 1:5 NIV

I’ve prayed for wisdom before. In fact, I prayed very specifically and effectively by turning a portion of Colossians into a petition:

Dear God, I ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that I may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to You, Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12 NIV (personalized adaptation)

Praying the part about having “great endurance and patience” should’ve clued me in to what I was asking for.

            wis•dom n
1.    the knowledge and experience needed to make sensible decisions and judgments, or the good sense shown by the decisions and judgments made
2.    accumulated knowledge of life or in a particular sphere of activity that has been gained through experience

Wisdom isn’t just knowledge. It’s knowledge gained through experience. And experience comes only with the passing of time.

How I spend the 24 hours God gives me each day provides me with the life experience necessary to grow in wisdom.

I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Memory Verse Monday


I’ve read the book of Job, and I’ve taught the book of Job. In fact the video Bible study curriculum I’ve written, Enough is Enough, dedicates a portion of the homework to learning more about this man who endured such tremendous suffering.

Today’s memory verse came from the mouth of Job, a man described as “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

Job’s response to the news concerning his devastating losses has always inspired me.

He fell to the ground in worship.

In the face of such tragedy Job worshiped. He worshiped as he declared the words I’ve chosen for Memory Verse Monday.

Yesterday morning my pastor shared new insights from the book of Job. You can watch the video of his sermon to learn what a hedge of protection is and why Job had one around him.

I want that hedge around me and mine, and I’m thankful for the blood of Christ that makes that protection possible.

I also want to worship like Job. Perhaps that’s why I’ve committed his praise proclamation to memory.

Maybe you’d like to memorize it to.

Today’s Memory Verse:


Friday, June 11, 2010

The Source of Our Joy

My daughter and I have been posting dozens of her graduation pictures on facebook. A one-word comment written by a dear friend captured my attention.

JOY!

To look at our pictures without the knowledge of everything God has done to keep this family together in spite of tremendous difficulties is to miss the source of our joy. 

As well as its power.

We are not simply "happy people in happy land." 

My husband, daughter, son and I have been to hell and back. (In fact, we've made several round trip excursions.)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12 NIV

Because we continually take refuge in God, He has indeed spread His protection over us. And one word perfectly expresses our response.

JOY!

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV

My daughter and I had great fun purchasing a plaque for our kitchen that reads:

Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a normal family.

We laugh because we know the truth. We are not "happy people in happy land." We’re a snapshot of redemption.

We're a picture of inexpressible and glorious JOY!

So look beyond the photographs and into our hearts. Can you see the Source of our Joy there? I hope and pray you do!









I hope and pray you see Jesus.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV 




Thursday, June 10, 2010

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking


My son “graduated” from sixth grade last Friday and my daughter’s high school commencement was last night. I’m extremely proud of both of them.

The inspirational verse below was printed on the back of the program at my son’s sixth grade appreciation ceremony. The author was listed as “Unknown.”

WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked and wanted to say thanks
for all the things I saw
when you thought I wasn't looking.

I couldn’t help but think of Proverbs 22:6:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. NIV

God has blessed me with an amazing family. Today I simply wanted to give Him thanks.
  • Thanks for teaching me how to be a mom.
  • Thanks for giving me a supportive husband.
  • Thanks for knitting together two beautiful children.
  • Thanks for creating a family like mine.
I'm grateful that the knowledge of God's Word and the power of His abiding Spirit help me bear fruit even when I think no one's looking.

May God receive the glory!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

God's Timing

I don’t know why God continues to amaze me. You’d think by now I’d have grown accustomed to His astounding ways… and timing.

I’ve mentioned my Bible study before. Yesterday, I was privileged to package a Leader’s Kit and send it to a customer. Before I tucked the Member Book into the box, I couldn’t help but flip through the pages. My eyes landed on a particular story.

Before I reprint what I read on those pages, I wanted to remind you of an earlier post sharing my anxiety about my financial situation. Some things are slow to change.

Here’s a story I wrote in the first week of homework of my Bible study called Enough is Enough.

God doesn’t always make His provision obvious. I grew up in a church that recited a certain Old Testament Scripture every Sunday morning to remind the congregation of the Source of our gifts. After the ushers had received the offering, they would bring the offering plates forward and place them on the altar. The minister would open his arms in a sweeping gesture across the modest piles of checks, bills and change, and say, “All things come of thee, O Lord.” To which the congregants responded, “And of thine own have we given thee.”[1]
Sometimes God does make His provision obvious. When the Lord first called me into this ministry of speaking and writing, I spent several years in the wilderness, trusting God for my daily bread. I resigned my job to pursue God’s call, and shortly thereafter my husband’s business fell on extremely hard times. My husband, Steve, and I trimmed our budget as far back as it could go. But it wasn’t enough. Steve and I agreed as responsible stewards we would have to sell our house.
The day before our mortgage payment was due, and with no money in the bank to pay it, I fasted and prayed. I reminded God of His promises to me. I reminded Him I had obediently followed Him out of my comfort zone by resigning a job I loved. I reminded Him that moving into our house in the country was His idea in the first place. And I cried my heart out.
Early the next morning I climbed out of bed, threw on my robe and curled up on a corner of my couch. Weak from an empty stomach and a lack of sleep, I quietly let go of my home. I said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”[2] 
Then I made one final plea, “Dear God, if You want us to keep this house, provide a way today before I call the real estate agent.”
For some silly reason, I padded across the kitchen floor to my study and booted up my computer. Steve and I had filed our income taxes electronically just a few days earlier. But that didn’t cross my mind as I logged on to my bank account to check my balance and decide what bills I could afford to pay. Like a beggar at a soup kitchen surprised by a six-course meal, I stared in awe at God’s provision. Minutes earlier the federal government had deposited our tax refund into our account, providing just enough money for our mortgage and every other current bill.
I woke my husband with the news, “We don’t have to call the real estate agent today!” That joyous phrase was repeated month after month, year after year as God provided our daily bread. To this day when God miraculously provides, I can’t help but whisper, “We don’t have to call the real estate agent today.”

By the time I read the last sentence tears had already gathered in their usual spot. I had uttered those very words that morning! “We don’t have to call the real estate agent today.”

Thank you, Jehovah Jireh, for reminding me of your provision.

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"

"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.

"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. Genesis 22:6-8 NIV

Shortly after that Abraham faced his greatest faith test ever. And because he believed in God's provision, here’s what happened…

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:13-14 NIV



[1] 1 Chronicles 29:14 KJV
[2] Job 1:21NIV

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Election Returns

Even though I grow weary of campaigns—especially all the negative mudslinging—I completely understand the essential role elections play in our democratic process.

Elections involve making judgment calls and choosing the candidate we support. It’s hard to do without all the facts. While I dislike most elections, there is one election that I LOVE!

Christ’s.

Don’t for a minute think I’m suggesting we have the power to vote Him in or out. He’s the Sovereign Lord and King whether we like it or not.

I’m talking about Christ choosing us!

He makes a judgment call and He actually does have all the facts. 

Our God has unlimited knowledge of how acceptable our candidacy may or may not be. And He still chooses us!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:3-8 NIV

Imagine that! Christ has all wisdom and understanding and He still chooses us.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memory Verse Monday


Do you know what a perfectionist hates?

Making a mistake that cannot be corrected.

God and I have been working on my perfectionist tendencies. Just when I think I’m no longer obsessed with perfection, God will allow me to bungle something and then watch for my reaction.

Last night we attended my daughter’s Baccalaureate service and then went out for a late dinner. I could barely keep my eyes open by the time I sat to write my Memory Verse Monday post.

The page I use in my blogging program to enter New Posts has a bright orange button at the bottom that says,  PUBLISH POST . You never want to click that button until you are ready for the world to read what you’ve written.

By some major design flaw (okay, maybe I worded that too strongly) the tiny little button just above it reads, Post Options.That’s the one to click to schedule a blog to publish at a later day and time.

My perfectly prepared Memory Verse Monday blog post was ready to be scheduled for the following morning. But, oops!

I slept great in spite of my mistake. (Does that mean I passed the “how-are-you-doing-with-your-perfectionist-tendencies test?)

I’m glad I’ve reached the point where I care more about pleasing God than about pleasing myself.

So I couldn’t resist posting a second memory verse for this week. After all, any perfectionist knows you have to post Memory Verse Monday on Monday.

But let’s not think of this extra post as a “correction.” I’d rather call today’s verse a bonus.

Today’s Memory Verse:


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Memory Verse Monday


I love my church! The community of believers known as Peoples Church in Fresno, California isn’t perfect, but we love God and we love each other. I hope you attend a Bible-believing, Jesus-emulating, prayer lifting church you love too.

Today our pastor opened his sermon with the passage I’ve chosen for Memory Verse Monday.

He read it twice. Slowly.

Then he looked up from his Bible, and said that the Old Testament is the New Testament revealed. He told us that you could always find an Old Testament story that brings to life a New Testament principle.

Then Pastor Dale Oquist preached from 1 and 2 Samuel to show us a beautiful, true-life story of a gift that could never be repaid.

The unworthy recipient of undeserved favor in that story reminded me of me, and brought a deeper appreciation for the passage from Ephesians I’ve posted as the memory verse this week.

Today’s Memory Verse:



Friday, June 4, 2010

Sensing God's Approval

I looked up from the kitchen sink and saw a man standing on the retaining wall in my backyard. The sun filled my house with light, but I was home alone.

My fear turned to curiosity when I noticed how the man was dressed. One hand sported a golf glove, the other a ski glove. He wore nice slacks, tennis shoes and a ski vest over a T-shirt. A baseball cap covered his head and a tweed flat cap had been pulled over the baseball cap.

I stepped through my sliding glass door onto my patio.

“Excuse me, Sir. Can I help you find something?”


A gentle, withered face turned toward me. “I’m trying to find the golf course.” He looked back over the fence. “I think if I cut through this yard it’s just beyond those trees.”

He hopped up and down and grabbed the top of the fence. Clearly he intended to scale it. I rushed to him. “You’re right about the golf course being over that way, but don’t you think it would be easier to go around?”

“I suppose you’re right.” He looked a little defeated as he jumped down from my retaining wall. He was well into his 80’s.

I walked him along the side of my house, opened the gate and pointed down the street. I wondered what made him choose my yard to wander into and how he had passed through the sealed entrance to my gated community.

“When you get to the gates, turn left and you’ll be there in no time.” I told him as he waved a thankful goodbye. I went back into my house to fetch my car keys. “Lord,” I said as I shouldered my purse, “I think you have a job for me. Help me do it well.”

I found the determined man trapped by the gate, just as I had hoped.

“Sir, I happen to be headed that way. Would you do me the honor of joining me?”

A broad smile lit up his face. “Well, thank you young lady. I would be honored.”

I breathed prayer for wisdom and asked his name.

“Dr Sauter,” he replied as he shook the hand I’d extended from the steering wheel.

“You must be a member at San Joaquin Golf Club,” I said as I made a second turn to point my car in that direction. (I hadn’t been entirely honest with my simple directions to the golf course.)

“Yes,” he nodded. “For many years.”

I took a chance. “Does your wife know you decided to go golfing today?”

“No. No, she went shopping and I took the bus.” I couldn’t help but grin at his independent spirit.

“When she gets home she’s going to be worried sick about you,” I said with a touch of sternness.

He sighed. “You’re probably right.” I made him promise he would call her as soon as he got to the golf course.

We exchanged small talk the rest of the drive. I wondered again how he’d managed to end up inside my gated community on top of my retaining wall.

I pulled up next to the clubhouse at the exclusive golf course a couple miles from my modest home, and Dr. Sauter climbed out of my car.

He leaned in through the passenger window and removed one of his hats. “Young lady, it’s been a pleasure. I haven’t been treated this kindly in a very long time.”

He stood a little taller as he walked away. My heart broke for the man who deserved far more dignity than his dementia would permit.

I drove home as fast as I could and dialed the clubhouse from my kitchen. I told the woman I had just dropped Dr. Sauter in the parking lot.

“Dr Sauter is here?” She sounded truly concerned about the gentle soul. “Yes,” I replied. "I found him in my backyard and gave him a ride."

“Thank you,” she sounded hurried. “Thank you very much.”

I hung up the phone and looked at my retaining wall. “Well, that was an adventure,” I told the Lord, and sensed His approval.

Then the king will say to those on his right, "My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me." Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?" The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." Matthew 25:34-40 CEV
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