Sunday, December 30, 2012

Following His Light Into 2013

Psalm 119:58(MSG)
I beg you from the bottom of my heart:  smile, be gracious to me just as You promised.


The word "grace" is repeatedly being brought to my mind lately.  How timely that here it is again as I approach a New Year.  While my daughter and I sat together curled up by the fire reading the Word of God a few mornings ago , she softly said, " I hate that Christmas is over."  I thought about this and remembered back to when I was a little girl.  It was sort of a sad time, as the excitement and electricity of the season came to an end.  But, as the years have gone by and I have been blessed to be a part of many cherished Christmas celebrations, I have come to the realization that the week after Christmas is just as awe inspiring for me as the week before.  You might be wondering how that can be?  Simply because of a word that keeps creeping into my heart.  The word grace.

Taking time during this week after our Savior's birth and using it to recount all of the favor that He has poured over my family for the past year, gives me an overwhelming sense of who He is!  Reviewing all of the times when the Lord met our needs and gave us abundantly more than I could have even known to ask for or imagined, provides a confidence that comes only from Him.  It saturates me in His peace, and yet at the same time, allows a power to well up within me to face another year of security in Him.  He is very clear in His Word that He will take care of me!  He promises to sustain us and to walk us through even the greatest of trials!

Our family has some pretty big challenges that we are facing in the coming year.  I don't have any idea what you might be facing this year, but I do know the One you can face it with!  He is big.  You can count on Him to see you through the very toughest of circumstances.  His Word will give you clear instructions for how we can face every single day.  He will protect you and allow you to walk in places that you only thought you could crawl!  Now that is truly inspiring.  My prayer for my family and for you this year, comes directly from today's verse.  I pray that the Lord will smile upon us and be gracious to us, just as He promised that He would. 

I will be reading from the NKJV Bible this year.  I have chosen:  Jesus Calling Devotional Bible published by Thomas Nelson.  Feel free to join me in reading this translation or the one of your choice.  His Word is life changing!  I know that to be true.

Lord,
As always, You give us a new and fresh hope.  Thank you for Your words that brings us peace, confidence, and power to anticipate a New Year of wonderful blessings.  Show us our gifts and help us to use them to bring You glory in 2013.
In Your Name,
Amen
   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'm Hungry

Psalm 119:57 (MSG)
Because You satisfy me, God, I promise to do everything You say.

As I ponder this verse tonight, I am taken back by the conviction of this statement.  The Psalmist is basically pledging allegiance to God.  He is clearly and concisely proclaiming that whatever God tells him to do.....he will do.  Wow!  How did the writer get to a point where he could proclaim this kind of undivided devotion?


I watched these two as they searched for food right outside my
office window a few mornings ago. 
 
I think I have the answer to this question.  It's found in the words leading up to his pronouncement.  The words..."because you satisfy me, God".  When we are satisfied by God, we too will pledge our complete allegiance to Him.  The question then becomes:  How do I allow God to satisfy me?  

To be satisfied by Him, I first need to be hungry.  Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)  states, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."  So, therefore, to be able to commit our entire obedience to God, we have to first and foremost be hungry for Him!  We have to empty ourselves of everything and allow Him to fill us to overflowing with His spirit.  It is at that place, that we too shall be content and eager to take on everything that the Lord has assigned for our lives.  It is at that pivotal point that our words will become the Psalmist's words...."I promise to do everything You say, Oh God!"

Lord,
Thank You for this amazing time of year that allows us to come together and celebrate the gift of Your Son~Jesus Christ.  Please allow the trappings of this world to fall to the side, so that our focus can be found in You alone. 

In the Holy name of Christ,
Amen
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Vote Counts And So Do You

Psalm 119:56 (MSG)
Still, I walk through a rain of derision because I live by your Word and counsel.
 
Your vote is significant today and you are significant every day!  Your voice matters!  One of the biggest lies pervasively present in our nation today is that you are insignificant.  If the enemy of your soul can convince you that you are too small and unimportant to make a difference, then perhaps you will be forced into a paralyzing stupor of inaction.  Inaction, on a day like today, is really action, right? 
 
 
Father,
As we live by Your word and counsel, give us strength to stand amidst the scorn and ridicule.
Only You know the heart of a man.  Cover our country in Your grace and protection and guide us into a future that will acknowledge that You are the source of life. 
In Jesus name,
Amen 
 
 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grace! Grace!

Psalm 119:55(MSG)
I meditate on your name all night, God, treasuring your revelation, O God.

Rest in His grace.
Grace!  Grace!  Amazing grace....truly how sweet the sound.  On the heals of the music post from yesterday, these words are drawing me into the old treasured hymn, Amazing Grace.  The word, grace, is on my mind today, as I am reading the new book by Max Lucado entitled:  GRACE.  (A book review  will be coming soon.  I have to finish the book first, of course.)

Reading this verse today and meditating on all that is embodied in the mighty name of God, I am humbled to be called a child of the King!  He is so great that admittedly there are times when I feel extremely unworthy to call upon Him in my smallness and continued failings.  But, then, I am drawn back to that five letter word, G-R-A-C-E.  

I have heard this word described many ways throughout the years, but reading Max's words yesterday, encompassed everything that I believe the word grace means!  If you are struggling today with your humanness and perhaps being too hard on yourself...then pause a minute and meditate on the name of Jesus.  Or maybe you are thinking that if you could just get everything in your life straightened out and polished up, then you would make a decision to come to Christ....in your best Sunday clothes...all perfectly put together.  Guess what?  You don't need to do that.  You just need to come to Him...like you are...right now.  Still don't believe me?  Read the following passage from Max's book about Grace.  Let his words sink deeply in and bathe you in the loving arms of Christ.

Max Lucado from his book titled: GRACE, writes, "Grace is God as heart surgeon, cracking open your chest, removing your heart--poisoned as it is with pride and pain--and replacing it with his own.  Rather than tell you to change, he creates the change.  Do you clean up so he can accept you?  No, he accepts you and begins cleaning you up.  His dream isn't just to get you into heaven but to get heaven into you.  What a difference this makes!"  (Italics my own.)

Lord,
You are a God with infinite knowledge and wisdom!  We praise Your holy name today and thank you for your amazing grace.  May it wash completely over each of us as we approach Your throne of forgiveness.
In Your precious Son's name,
Amen





 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Singing His Words

Psalm 119:54
I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.

Ahh...the healing power of His Word set to music!  Humming His directions gives incredible strength and builds our faith to a whole new level!  Clear direct advice for us right here in black and white. 

Conversely, there is much to be lost in our closeness with the Savior when we listen to music that is saturated with dark discouraging lyrics.  Why?  Because those despair riddled words will immediately flood our minds when we are in challenging circumstances.  Those careless ideas of hopelessness and isolation, that are unfortunately quite prevalent in our society today, have the end result of submerging the listener into a sinking pit of emptiness.  Don't allow it in!  Guard against it.

God's word is like fresh water.  Without it we cannot survive.
This is a beautiful verse of instruction for our children as well.  If you are raising children, I challenge you to go through their play lists and make certain that what they are hearing is lifting them up and building a God confidence rather than a self consciousness.  During an especially challenging time in one of my children's lives, I purchased a CD at our local Christian store that set to music specific scripture that applied to the situation.  The incredible comfort gained from the simple exercise of playing the CD in the background essentially every time we were home or in the car, was immeasurable!  We were also able to memorize the verses, allowing His direction to play continually in our minds even when the music was not available!  It was life changing for us!

While writing this post today, I decided to look for scripture set to music on the Internet.  I found a beautiful blog created by a family who has applied today's scripture and made it a way of life.  If you are interested in hearing just one of their creations, click here and enjoy!  Their blog provides a large volume of scripture put to music and they have even included sheet music for free!  The URL is:  www.scripturemelodies.blogspot.com

Lord,
Thank You once again for Your words that guide and direct us in very simple and concise ways.  May Your strength rise up anew within us this week as we choose a leader for our country.  May Your perfect will be done.
In Christ's Name,
Amen

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rotten Bananas

Psalm 119:53(MSG)
But when I see the wicked ignore Your directions, I'm beside myself with anger.

As I hurried out the door to whisk my daughter off to school, I grabbed my car keys in one hand and the coffee mug in the other.  Savoring the last few swallows of the steamy hot liquid, I strategically planned the next eight hours.  It would be one of those days with several commitments and not much lag time in between.  I know you can relate! 

As I left the kitchen, I could smell the lingering scent of ripe bananas from the few last lonely pieces of fruit that remained hanging from their metal tree on the counter.  At our house, it is a rare thing to find leftover bananas. We usually devour them before they have a chance to even hint at going bad.  They make excellent quick snacks for on the go.

Arriving at my daughter's school, where I have the privilege of volunteering on a regular basis, I set my purse down and headed off to tackle the various activities for the day.  Several hours later, when I returned to the office, I scooped up my purse and began the drive back home.  Throwing my satchel on the front seat next to me, I reviewed the plan in my mind for the night.  The two remaining events left on my plate, consisted of one more taxi trip across town for my daughter's swim practice, and a beautiful celebration banquet for the school, being held at a convention center.  Did I just smell bananas?   

It isn't often that I get to dress up, so tonight's event would be a real treat!  Most of my daily responsibilities do not require a formal dress code.  For example, laundry, playing taxi for kids, buying groceries, cooking meals, getting the dogs to the vet for their latest shots or to the groomer for a complete deskunking, does not warrant formal attire, right?  All that to say, when I have the opportunity to play "dress-up" and go out in something other than flip-flops and jeans, I get a little excited.  As the anticipation mounted for a fun filled evening, my mind was suddenly drawn back to the sweet smell of bananas.  Oh, I did miss my lunch today!  Perhaps a banana would taste yummy right about now. 

Arriving home, I snatched up one of the last bananas and dashed into the closet for a quick transformation into my "fancy clothes".  Glancing one more time in the mirror as I ran back out the door with my car keys and purse flung over my shoulder headed to chauffeur my daughter to practice, I smelled those delicious bananas once again.  I must be on a real fruit kick, I thought to myself, the smell of bananas just won't leave me!

I arrived safely at the swim practice and took my spot on the bleachers, so I could enjoy watching all of the talented athletes.  Perching on the narrow metal slates with a dress on was no small task, I might add!  After checking my watch for the fourth time, I decided it was about time to head out on my dinner date.  I reached in my purse to snatch the car keys, and upon retrieval of them, I noticed they were wet.  That seemed odd.  What could be in my purse that would have spilled?  Dismissively, I hurried out to the parking lot, confidently clicking my heels and feeling quite dignified.  In a few minutes I would finally be at the much anticipated main event of the day.  Sliding in the front seat, I turned on the car.  The air conditioner blew a cool banana breeze on my face.  Huh?

I arrived right on time.  Perfect!  It was going to be a fantastic night!  I turned off the car and reached for my purse.  I opened it to place the keys securely in and found myself overwhelmed with the smell of bananas again.  Wow, I must really be craving bananas, I thought.  Dropping the keys in, I reached inside to retrieve my nose powder for one last swipe, and my hand came out wet and sticky!  What in the world?!

I opened the purse wide and held it up to the light so I could peer deep inside.  As I carefully began digging and moving some items aside, I found the source.  There it was.... lying innocently at the bottom of my purse.....smeared in every corner and crevice available..... a rotten banana!!  Yes, my confident air of sophistication went right out the window!

Now, I know you are probably wondering what in the world a rotten banana could have to do with today's scripture.

Here's what I'm thinking.  Just like the forgotten banana in my purse sat there in the dark and changed into a rotten mess, a heart can change into a wicked snarl of confusion and rotten behavior when a child of God ignores His direction for their life.  The stench of our actions will follow us wherever we go.  We may not recognize the source right away (like the disintegrating banana in my purse), but it won't take long for the ugly scent of a disobedient heart to permeate every corner of our lives. 

Lord,
Thank you for bringing our need for a Savior to our most immediate attention through the words of this verse.  May our hearts and minds be open to hear and respond to Your Word of direction in every area of our lives today. 
In Christ's Name,
Amen

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: The Voice Bible by Ecclesia Bible Society


The Voice Bible is a wonderfully descriptive work to add to your Bible translation library. 

It is a plethora of succinctly and beautifully written verses with the addition of historical narration which delivers a dramatic flair making it an unparalleled version of the Holy Bible.

The Voice Bible, by Ecclesia Bible Society is a beautifully written translation of the Holy Bible.  This work, beginning as a vision by Chris Seay, pastor of Houston’s Ecclesia Church, and ending with the publication by Thomas Nelson, takes on the arduous task of compiling ancient Greek and Hebrew writing and transforming it into modern American English.  The final presentation is a Bible translation that reads very much like a screenplay.  The result is an interesting and extremely engaging experience that draws the reader to the Word of God and therefore into relationship with the King.

I am especially impressed with both of the introductions into the Old and New Testaments.  The description of the “Four Covenants”, given prior to embarking on the New Testament reading, presents a very clear and accurate foundational teaching of the covenant relationship between us and our Lord.  The format utilized throughout the work, is one of various conversations between each of the characters.  Frequently interjected into the story is “the voice” which I would describe as a narrator.  These sections are not part of scripture, but serve to describe the culture of the day and play a vital role in assisting the reader’s depth of comprehension.

The Voice Bible translation is a collaborate effort from a team of translators who worked alongside poets, writers and musicians.  I found it to be refreshing and interactive.  I would highly recommend reading this translation and acquiring a “hard copy” to place in your library for easy access!

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishing Company for this review copy of The Voice Bible that I received through BookSneeze.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

  

 

  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ancient Landmark Words

Psalm 119:52 (MSG)
I watch for Your ancient landmark words, and know I'm on the right track.

I was sleeping so soundly, that when the first loud clap of thunder roared, it about sent me flying out of the bed! I sat straight up, eyes darting to and fro around the room in an effort to reorient myself.  After realizing it was a storm, I nestled back down under the covers and went back  to sleep, confidently relying on our storm sirens to activate if there was a need to seek shelter in the basement. 

When I awoke in the morning, I found my daughter curled up on the couch beside our bed.  I asked her why she had come in our room, and she told me that the storm had scared her.  She said that she had been asleep when the loud thunder woke her.  She became frightened and went into her closet with her Bible.  She opened it to Isaiah where she read His "ancient landmark words", that told her God is her rock and her shelter.  She read that He is always with her and that she doesn't need to be afraid.  She said those words comforted her and helped her tremendously!  She came into our room and quickly fell back asleep, knowing that God is in control of her life and He is right by her side. 

What a blessing to me, as a Mom, to witness my daughter in an active relationship with a mighty and Holy God who loves her and cares so deeply for all that she is going through!  Quite frankly, I can't think of anything more rewarding than that. 

Most Holy God,
Thank you for Your words that are always true and provide us with such comfort in the literal and figurative storms of each of our lives.  We are so blessed to be called Your children. 
Amen
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don't Budge

Psalm 119:51 (MSG)
The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don't budge from Your revelation.


Covered foot bridge in Pennsylvania.
I'm on a "bridge" obsession right now.  I love them!  They fascinate me.  Pretty much everything about them.  This one to the right is in Pennsylvania.  It's actually a foot bridge we crossed over while hiking there last summer.  I can almost feel the cool water as it ripples down stream.  If I concentrate hard enough, I can hear the gentle water as it rushes over the rocks and slides through the overhanging brush.  Listen.  Did you hear it?

Listening is hard isn't?  Especially when all you can hear is silence.  For instance, when you have prayed and prayed for something that you are sure is in God's will to deliver and yet He remains quiet.  What do you do with that?

Give up asking?  Turn to something else for answers?  Become bitter and angry?  Nope!  As a child of the King, that is not an option!  It is at this very point of silence that we do exactly what this verse says tonight.  We stand firm in Him and  we "...don't budge from His revelation!"  If you need encouragement tonight, hold tight to the Words that He has given You in His Word.  They are true morsels of the goodness of His love for you. 

My favorite woman of faith, Corrie Ten Boom, was quoted as saying,
 "In darkness God's truth shines most clear.” 

Most High God,

Thank You for revealing Yourself to us through the revelations You provide in Your Word. Help us to cling to those truths and allow them to light our path while we walk in dark places. 

In Christ's Name,
Amen  



 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Bridge To Life

Psalm 119:50(MSG)
These words hold me up in bad times;  yes, Your promises rejuvenate me.

Awe...this is an incredible verse!  God's word serves as a bridge from death to life for me.  Without the words from the Bible to give me strength and direction, I simply would be an aimless wanderer down here on planet earth.  In situations where I have experienced overwhelming fear, simply repeating memorized scripture and speaking the name of Christ bring a sense of peace, calm, and complete rejuvenation.  What a gift the Word of God is!

Lord,
Thank you for the gift of Your Word.  Please help me to hide it in my heart, so that I can glorify Your name in even the most difficult times of my life.
In the protective name of Christ,
Amen

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hang On

Psalm 119:49(MSG)
Remember what You said to me, your servant--
I hang on to these words for dear life!

I may have influenced my daughter.  I think she is a
"country girl" like me.  In this pic she is taking a
break from reading her book in one of her
favorite reading spots...the tree.
A funny thing happened on the way to find an Ice Cream place the other day.  First, I should tell you that we are out of our "town" and smack dab in the middle of the "city".  The Wiser dictionary defines "city" as:  An inability to see the sky due to the intrusion of large concrete and brick expanses towering high over our heads.  Did you know that with the crowding together of many buildings, it becomes quite difficult to get a perspective on where you are and where you want to go?  This is especially true when you are unfamiliar with the territory. 

Now, I continue the story of the quest for a flavorful sweet treat after a long day of travel.  Not knowing the neighborhood, I quickly turned to my "smart" phone.  Googling the nearest creamery seemed in order, so I intelligently proceeded with my plan.  Eureka!  I found a quaint little cold treat store only a few blocks from our current location.  I quickly plugged in the address to my handy~dandy little "maps" application.  If you're not familiar with this phone app., you should know that upon command, it succinctly pulls up a map and drops a blue pin where you are currently located, followed by another pin for where you want to go.  Quite literally as you move closer to your target, the dots on the map close in on one another.  It's pretty cool and I have a huge appreciation for this fancy new gadget, because I am from the complicated folding map generation from days gone by. 

So, off we go in the direction of the blue glowing target.  One block, two blocks, three blocks, and finally four blocks.  The pins are very close now.  We begin looking at the signs on the various businesses.  Nothing.  Hmm...but the map is showing that we are there?  What's up with this?  We back up and the dots separate.  We move forward and the dots are on top of each other.  We circle around the block and watch as the dots go apart and then return together at the location we were just at.  There is no ice-cream place.  Did they move?  Was the "smart" phone wrong?  It can't be wrong...right?  After all, it is a "smart" phone.  We continue our little circling for probably another ten minutes before we give up our destination and adjust our target for some fresh fruit at a local market.  (I know...it was the healthier choice anyway.)

The next day, as we continued to explore our surroundings, we were astonished to make an incredible discovery!  Underneath the street lies an entire "Underground World".   In this world there are tunnels and breezeways connecting buildings.  There are also shops and eateries....and yes...even an ice cream store!  Yep, you read that correctly!  The establishment we were searching for was right under our feet the whole time!  We were in the right place and didn't even know it.  It's OK, you can laugh at our perilous journey.  We got a good chuckle out of it too!

Reading today's verse reminded me of this mishap, because I can apply it to my spiritual life.  The entire writings of Psalm 119 focus on the significance of God's Word to His people.  The verses within it are praising God for the "map" that He has gifted them with.  The directions that He generously supplied to them would allow them to navigate the waters of life in a manner fitting to be called a servant of the King. 

God has given me a clear route to take today.  Thankfully, He directs me around walls, over obstacles, and through tunnels, as long as I am hanging onto His words for dear life!

Lord,
I am so grateful to You for the words that You supply me with each day to direct and guide me into a place of love and commitment to You.  Give me the strength to walk in the route that You have set out before me.
In Christ's Name,
Amen

  

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Thought Better Of It

Psalm 119:47-48(MSG)
I cherish Your commandments--oh, how I love them!  Relishing every fragment of Your counsel. 

It's so true!  This verse, I mean.  I do cherish the Word of God.  His words bring such comfort, clarity, confirmation and strength to any situation we find ourselves in.  The full counsel of God will find you wherever you are and minister sweetly to your soul. 

A great example of the way God uses His word to shape us and grow our confidence in Him happened the day after I wrote the previous post.  (Click here if you would like to read it and didn't get a chance to.)  I was reading along in my yearly Bible when I came to a few chapters in Ezekiel.  (Chapters 18-20).  If you have a few minutes, you should read this incredible prophet's dealings with the Israelites and his obedience to the Lord.  It will leave you refreshed, encouraged, and challenged all at the same time. 

There were several parts that jumped off the page at me, however, the portion that ended up confirming my previous reflections on choosing not to act on our feelings, was repeated by God through the spoken words of the prophet Ezekiel four different times in chapter 20. 

Here is what God said in response to a rebellious people who would not listen to the Lord's instruction about letting go of the vile things they were addicted to.

Ezekiel 20:8-10(MSG) 
I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in force right there in Egypt.  Then I thought better of it.  I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt.  And I acted in a way that would evoke honor, not blasphemy, from the nations around them. 
(Italics my own.)

I was so encouraged by God's words in this passage.  He goes on to repeat a similar message three more times within this chapter.

Ezekiel 20:14-15(MSG)
Tropical Storm Debby appears angry as she begins to
unleash her fury in the Gulf of Mexico.
I seriously considered unleashing my anger on them right there in the desert.  But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out.   (Italics my own.)

Ezekiel 20:21-22 (MSG)
"'But the children also rebelled against me.  They neither followed my statutes nor kept my laws for living upright and well.  And they desecrated my Sabbaths.  I seriously considered dumping my anger on them, right there in the desert.  But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out.  (Italics my own.)

Ezekiel 20:44 (MSG)
"'But, dear Israel, you'll also realize that I am God when I respond to you out of who I am, not by what I feel about the evil lives you've lived, the corrupt history you've compiled...".  (Italics my own.)

To read these directions straight from God, gives me courage.  It helps me understand that the emotions I feel are first of all the way I was created.  I have been made in the image of God, so therefore, I too will have intense emotions.  What freedom to know that I am not a slave to those emotions.  I can respond in a manner that is different than how I may feel.  Why?  Because "the nations" are watching.  Who are the "nations"?  My children.  My spouse.  My neighbors.  My friends.  My coworkers.  

When I am feeling mad, I can choose to be calm.  When I am experiencing frustration, I can respond with patience.  When I am afraid, I can speak peace.  When I am saturated with timidity, I can pour out boldness.  When I am overwhelmed with grief, I can allow His comfort to flow out of my heart.  How?  Through Christ who supplies my every need in His strength! 

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)~I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. 

Lord,
Thank You for teaching us to "think better".  Thank You for modeling what it looks like to stop and choose our actions rather than respond to our emotions.  As the verse says tonight, I truly  relish Your counsel.  It is clear and concise and full of the unending love that You have for us! 
In Christ's Name,
Amen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No Fear

Psalm 119:46(MSG)
Then I'll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed!

Downy Woodpecker in rehab after his near death experience.
Introducing people to Jesus and sharing how He has radically changed my life should not be a tough task, so why is it?  My simple answer is that I am afraid.  Afraid of what?  I am afraid of being misunderstood.  I am fearful of looking foolish.  I am uneasy that I might not have all the answers to their questions.  Basically, I am concerned that they might think I am a nut!  Thankfully, as always, God gives me a clear assignment in His word.  Not surprisingly, He doesn't let me off the hook because of my feelings of fear.


My daughter fearlessly training him to fly.
God's direction was given through the last audible words that Jesus spoke to His disciples while on earth. There is no mention that fear can be utilized to give us a free pass to remain quiet.  No, instead it appears that we are to put that trepidation aside and press on "boldly and unembarrassed".  He said in Matthew 28:19-20(NIV)~Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Well, there you have it!  I need to share Christ with everyone that God gives me the privilege of interacting with, whether by word or in action.   Interestingly, there are many commands in the Bible.  The one that is repeated the most often, 365 times in fact, is  "Do not be afraid!"  God wants us to live fearlessly every single day, because to live without fear allows us to be an effective witness for Him! 

Lord,
You know my weaknesses and my strengths.  Strip the fear from me and clothe me in faith.  Graciously allow me to be a part of Your perfect plan and purpose through the bold proclamation of who You are.
In the name of Christ,
Amen

Friday, July 13, 2012

Running With Joy

Psalm 119:45(MSG)
And I'll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for Your truth and Your wisdom.

I spotted these two beauties frolicking by the pond. 


Oops, I think he heard my camera click

Time to get back to writing!  Hopefully you are having a great summer so far.  As I stared out the window yesterday, these two beautiful fawns were "freely" running in the open field.  They were playing with each other and then stopping to take quick drinks from the pond in between their dances.  After watching them jump and kick for several minutes, I caught some movement in the thicket near by.  Upon closer observation, I could see Mama Deer hiding in the brush keeping a watchful eye on her charges.  

A beautiful picture of our lives was going on just outside my window.  As a child of God, we get to enjoy the sweetness of His creation while He stands guard over us.  He has allowed us to pick up joy and run with it.  We are surrounded with the Lord's truth and wisdom, we need only look for it.

Father,
Thank you for letting me enjoy Your creation.  Lead me into Your truth and wisdom as I walk without chains.  Reveal new insight into Your Word and let my heart fill with the warmth of Your love.
Amen 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fast and Furious

Psalm 119:44(MSG)
Oh, I'll guard with my life what You've revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever;

It's interesting to me how we become protective of information that we sense may somehow either benefit or harm us.  We guard our social security numbers, birth certificates, driver's licenses, bank account numbers and the list goes on.  These items contain our identity and allow us privileges and freedoms that we would not have without them.  Today, as I have listened to commentary on the news stations regarding the "Fast and Furious" situation, I see this behavior in full swing. 

Apparently the president is invoking "Executive Privilege" over the documents dealing with the details surrounding the actions taken from a committee dating back over eighteen months ago.  It appears, in this particular instance, that the information being protected might be an attempt to cover up mistakes or poor decisions that have already had a harmful impact on at least one individual, if not an entire nation.  As I listen to the banter, it sounds similar to the conversations I heard on the television during the Watergate scandal.  The political fallout and effect on our nation's security will remain to be seen.
The Lord knows your heart.
Today's verse tells me to "guard with my life" the revelations that He  has given me.  The Lord reveals to each one of us important truths.  He lovingly uncovers the shape of our heart and whispers His healing words over the broken areas of our lives.  Guard those precious words of life giving balm.  If you are a child of God, then you recognize His voice.  You know when the Lord has unearthed important treasures in your life.  Don't ever let anyone or anything create doubt within you.  Stand firm in confident faith and guard the revelations that He has given you.

God,
Help me to protect and guard the words that You so graciously speak to me.  Place within me a strong assurance that You know my heart and the deep needs that lie within it.
Thank You for Your unending love,
Amen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blog Review: The Cavewoman Speaks by KyAnne Weaver

My Photo
"The Cavewoman Speaks"
Blog by KyAnne Weaver
 The Cavewoman Speaks by KyAnne Weaver (click here) is a wonderfully encouraging blog filled with Godly wisdom for immediate application and lots of humor!  Her zeal for Christ is contagious and her passion to partner with women in their walk toward a more meaningful relationship with our Lord is her primary focus.

I enjoy reading books and reviewing them.  I also enjoy reading various blogs.  I have never actually reviewed a blog, so today I thought it would be fun to try it out.  This blog, The Cavewoman Speaks by KyAnne Weaver is one of my many favorites.  KyAnne introduces herself as a lover of Christ, wife and mother of three boys (young men now), teacher, and author of the book titled:  Diary of a Cavewoman.  If you would like to read my review for that book, please click here.

KyAnne's posts are transparent, succinct and always uplifting.  She has the ability to address important subject matters with a gentle humor that allows the reader to reflect on heart issues in a nonthreatening manner.  I always leave her pages with a lighter step, a spirit of freedom in Christ, and a renewed resolve to apply the truths of God's Word.  One of her most recent posts titled "Hindenburg Parenting" (click here) had me laughing out loud at my desk....as so many of her posts do. 

If you are wanting another blog to add to your Blog Roll, you will definitely want to consider this one, The Cavewoman Speaks by KyAnne Weaver.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: George Washington Carver by John Perry

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book George Washington Carver by John Perry. 

The book George Washington Carver by John Perry was an interesting biography of a gentle and intelligent black man whose passion for God and desire to learn everything about His creation moved him to great works.  His humble dependence upon God is inspiring.  
The book profiles his life beginning with his birth into slavery and the miraculous way that God's hand of protection was upon him. It concluds with his peaceful death after a life filled with accolades and accomplishments as a scientist (largely focused on developing products from peanuts) and professor at Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama.  His dedication to science, agriculture, people, and His God are clearly communicated throughout the writing.  One of my favorite parts of the book, is the prayer that George Washington Carver was reported as saying:  "Lord completely guide us in all things and let us be gladly led by You."  His students regarded him as one of the kindest and most patient teachers they ever knew. 

This was a very well written and inspiring book about a man whose patience and trust in God allowed him to accomplish great things.  I appreciated the tenacious spirit and persevering methodical personality that the author so easily portrayed within each of the chapters.  While reading this book, I felt the tension between the black and white race that was a part of our country not so very long ago.  I quietly appreciated that we live in a different world today.   

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishing for this free review copy of George Washington Carver by John Perry provided to me through BookSneeze.  The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Learning Dependence

Psalm 119:43(MSG)
Don't ever deprive me of truth, not ever--Your commandments are what I depend on.

I was sitting at my desk enjoying the sights, sounds, and feel of summer the other day.  The birds were singing, the warm breezes were gently blowing the scent of sweet flowers into the room, and the distant sound of laughter from children playing filled the air.  The sun shining brightly through the trees creating dancing shadows on the wall had hypnotized me into a trance like state, until suddenly the sound of the door slamming and feet rushing down the hall jolted me back to reality.  "Mom...Mom...come quick!  A bird is hurt and we have to help it!"

Now, being the conservationist that I am...err....want to be, I do know a little something about the ways of the "wild ones".  What I definitely know without hesitation is that these independent creatures are better left untouched.  I prepared my speech, cleared my throat, and began the spiel to my daughter about why we will "leave the bird alone".  I concluded the ten minute dissertation with the explanation that if we remain inside and observe the scene we will see the bird's parents swoop down and rescue it.  "We must only be patient and it will happen," I confidently reassured her.

We waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Meanwhile, the bird continued it's flopping state on the pavement without progress and with no rescuers showing up to save the poor unfortunate victim.  "Well", I said, "we can gently place him in the grass by the field.  Surely there, the parents will find him." 

After gingerly setting the little fellow on his bed of grass in the shade by the tree he probably flew or fell out of, we went inside.  There.  Done.  Until, that is about three hours later, when my sweet and most compassionate daughter came assertively marching back into my office to report that the bird had been screaming for the past two hours and there were no parents in sight.  "Please," she pleaded, " now he is stuck in the grass with all of the tall weeds and can't get free!  Will you get him, Mom?  Please!"  Just to be clear that I understood her request, I restated it back.  "You want me to climb through the barbed wire, traipse through the waist high weeds filled with ticks and chiggers, and cut the bird free.  Is that right?"  Of course she responded, "Exactly!"

I know that you know what I did.  I know this, because if you've followed my blog for very long then you have read my post entitled " Bunny Beatitudes".  (Click here to read it.)  If you've read it, then you know that I am a rescuer.  I have tales of heroic "saves", and yes, this shall be another one!

Scaling the barbed wire and narrowly averting disaster with the sparkling sharp razor edges, I snaked my way through the fence.  Once on the other side, I literally swam my way through the tall weeds with the sound of the flailing bird as my GPS.  My daughter was right.  This bird was trapped and doomed.  That is my first and really only prerequisite for attempting to assist a "wild one".  They have to be in a situation where without our help they will die....not maybe die...but will die unless we intervene.  They must be totally dependent on us with no possibility of nature helping out.
 Our injured Northern Flicker Woodpecker.

He met the rescue admission criteria.  The poor little beautiful thing was completely tangled in the weeds with one of the strongest plants acting as a rope and nearly severing off it's wing.  Carefully, I used my gloved hand to untangle and free the bird.  Scooping him up, I passed him off to the waiting loving gloved hands of my daughter. 

Mere minutes away from a certain demise was this bright and healthy looking woodpecker.  I worked feverishly to cut the long strands of tough grass off of his wing.  Whether he was aware of it or not, he was now relying on us for all nourishment and help.
I went inside and got a medicine dispenser full of water and gave it to my daughter to feed to the bird.  She held the water out for him and he gladly drank....and drank...and drank!  Yep.  He was totally dependent on us for that drink.  He also had no ability to fly.

I love today's verse because it reminds me of the dependence I have on my God.  Life is so precious and so fragile.  We can't afford not to trust Him.  He is a good God and He does good.  He has a perfect plan for each of our lives.  He has counted the number of hairs on our head and He is with us.  He is for us.  He loves us.

As for our little bird friend, you will have to return for part two of this story to find out what else we learned from him.  

Father,
Thank you for allowing us to depend so completely on you.  I know that there are heavy burdens being carried tonight.  Please lift us up and shelter us as we allow You to become our everything in obedience and dependence.
In Christ's name,
Amen

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Drop Me

Psalm 119:42(MSG)
Then I'll be able to stand up to mockery, because I trusted Your Word.

We used to play this game in nursing school that, looking back, had the sole purpose of assisting us in cultivating the art of trustworthiness.  It taught us how to trust others and how to be trusted.  You might have played a game like it in your youth group or in some other venue through the years.  I will name it the "Don't Drop Me Game". 

It was played by two or sometimes three people.  One person was blindfolded and stood in front of the other two team members.  At some point the blindfolded person was instructed to fall backwards.  At that point the other team members were to be ready and standing strong to catch them before they actually fell to the ground.  It required the blindfolded one to assume an incredibly high level of confidence in those that were standing behind them.  On the flip side, it demanded very high levels of listening and preparedness skills on the part of the "catching team".  

It was a very difficult behavior to stand blindfolded and fall backwards with no assurance that you would land safely.  Evenly difficult was the assigned duty to catch a person who would soon be falling.  The knowledge that this person was completely dependent on your skills was an overwhelming thought.

My daughter teaching trust to the bunny
she rescued.
This game was very effective in teaching me how to trust others and how to gain confidence in my God given abilities.  I learned that I can take care of others needs, but I have to be very aware of their needs first.  I also learned that there are times when I need to be able to trust, without reservation, in the skills and abilities of others. 

Today's verse brought the "Don't Drop Me Game" back to my mind, because it is a literal picture of the trust in God and His Word that is necessary if I'm going to be able to stand strong for Him in all the circumstances of my life.  I must know that what He says is true.  I need to be listening and attentive in order to embrace the direction that His Word leads me and walk in that way with conviction.  I also need to have the assurance and faith that He will be there to catch me when I fall.  It's this same trust in God that will allow me to remain firmly planted in Christ when the winds of adversity blow and the storms of life rage.  

Father,
Thank you for Your words that are trustworthy.  Thank You for showing me that You are there for me in all seasons of my life.  You are a good God and You keep Your promises.  Help us to learn to trust You more!
In the beautiful name of Christ,
Amen  

  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Shape Of Your Life

Psalm 119:41(MSG)
Let Your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised;

This is a hand blown glass bowl from SDC.
This verse draws my thoughts back to the wonderful trips I took to Silver Dollar City growing up!  If you've been there before, then you probably visited the glass blowers shop a time or two.  When we would visit the shop, I found myself, even at a very young age, standing mesmerized as I watched the craftsmen spin the hot glass on their sticks shaping and forming incredibly fragile works of art!  They would drop in tiny drops of color during the process and that liquid would transfer throughout the piece.  The artist knew exactly how much dye to add and exactly which way to tilt the glass to create the effect he wanted. 
Our lives are like these delicate creations that the glass blowers were creating.  If we allow His love to touch our lives, He will shape us into a beautiful work of art.  It will be a life that will glorify His name and build His kingdom just as He promised!  

God, 
Thank You for Your love that is so powerful it can change lives and shape future generations!  Empower us today to stand strong in the face of adversity and live a life that reveals Your glory and draws observers to You!
In Christ's name,
Amen  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Tarantula On My Path

Psalm 119:40(MSG)
See how hungry I am for Your counsel; preserve my life through Your righteous ways!

It was a beautiful day here today!  There was a gentle breeze blowing, warm sunshine beaming down,  and a clear blue sky.  A perfect day for a run.  I pulled on my sneakers and hit the trail.  The path I chose today is one of my favorites because it winds along a creek bed.  The sound of the stream paired with the birds singing in the distance makes for an incredible run!  The trees form tunnels through the woods in some places, and in other areas there are wide open fields where one can see for miles.  The leaves and branches often accumulate on the path, however, so I have to watch my footing or I might end up stepping wrong and twisting an ankle.  Because of this, my gaze is constantly passing back and forth over the earth about two feet in front of me. 

As I made my last turn on the path, I came into the shadows of the trees and felt the cool welcome wind on my face.  My mind had been wandering through the list of mounting obstacles that I've recently had placed in my life.  It was about this time when I caught my first glimpse of it.  There, right below my feet by this point, sat a huge tarantula!!  I jumped what felt like at least two feet in the air and let out a scream loud enough for the entire countryside to hear.  By my calculations, I was going to land right on one of the sprawling legs of the creature!  Not daring to take my eyes off of what would probably be a spider strike, I watched my foot moving in slow motion as it landed directly next to his long hairy leg.  Bracing myself for what was sure to hurt, but still trying to avert his teeth, I noticed he didn't move.  That's odd....I would have thought my shoe hitting so close to him would have startled him into some sort of motion.  
Tarantula
That was when I stopped dead in my tracks.  I bent my head a little closer.  I realized upon further inspection that this wasn't even a spider at all!  It was simply some dead dark leaf residue that had spindled itself on the pavement into the shape of a nasty spider.  Wow!  As my heart rate returned to baseline and I managed to continue down the lane, I wondered something.  How many times in my life have I been frightened by an obstacle because I misinterpreted what it was?  The pattern of the leaves on the path today looked like impending doom to me.  In the same way, there are things looming in my future that seem huge and frightening, but they may not even be a threat.  How about you?  Do you have something that stands in front of you casting a dark shadow on everything around and threatening to harm you?

Enter today's verse.  If I will seek His counsel, He will bring light to my situation and redefine it for me.  My view and perception of the challenge might be incorrect just like I incorrectly identified the leafs today.  Things can look very different when we get His perspective on things.

Oh God,
Thank You for Your words that show me Your right way.  Thank You for the counsel and security that are mine through Your letters given to me in the Holy Bible.  Please give me the map to go around the mountain, the tools to drill through it, the strength to go over it, or the vision to see that it is not even a mountain at all.
In Jesus Name,
Amen


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What God Says Is Good

Psalm 119:39(MSG)
Deflect the harsh words of my critics--
but what you say is always so good.

His Word is so good!
The words we say to people can be so harsh can't they?  We need to be so careful that we are building up rather than tearing down.  This is especially true where our children are concerned.  They are always listening to what we say.  It may not seem like they hear us, but they do indeed. 

I have forgotten a lot of things through the years, but the memories that stick most forcefully in my mind are the words of encouragement and in stark contrast the words of discouragement that people have said to me!  We tend to replay those words over and over again.  This verse is a good reminder to me to let my words be uplifting and kind.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for Your words that are always good.  Please forgive the careless and selfish words that sometimes spew from my mouth.  Guard my tongue in the future and help me to use words that build up instead of tear down.
In Jesus name,
Amen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

He Is Your Guard

Psalm 121:7-8(MSG)
God guards you from every evil, He guards your very life.  He guards you when you leave and when you return, He guards you now, He guards you always.
You might feel vunerable~but God's got your back!

After yesterday's verse about God's promises, I thought I would post these two verses tonight.  They are an amazing comfort and an incredible reminder that God is with you....wherever you find yourself right now as you read this.  He is guarding your very life!!  Wow...what else do we need?

God,
Thank you for these words of assurance.  Increase my faith in Your loving protective ways.  Teach me to trust You more.
In the guarding name of Jesus,
Amen

Monday, April 23, 2012

Promises....Promises...

Psalm 119:38(MSG)
Affirm Your promises to me--
promises made to all who fear You.
Cease His promises!

As you read this today, you may find yourself in the middle of a heartbreaking situation.  I want you to hear that God is good!  I want you to know that He promises you a hope and a future.  That He has not forgotten you!  That He loves you.....deeply...beyond what you or I in our human mind can conceive.  He sees and hears you today.....I promise...and more importantly....He promises!  His love never quits!  His love never fails! (Psalm 136)

Lord,
I know that there are those with heavy burdens today.  Lighten their loads and give them Your assurance that You will see them through.
In Jesus Name,
Amen




  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Homeless Wanderer

Psalm 119:37(MSG)
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
I am a Ci-Co Girl.  (Pronounced "Sick-O".)  Have you heard of that word?  Ci-Co?  You won't find it in Webster's Dictionary.  It can only be found in "Wiser's Dictionary".  In this book there are words that I myself made up...and sense my last name is Wiser...you have....yeap you guessed it...the "Wiser's Dictionary".  Anyway, I will probably need to define this one for you, sense my dictionary has not been picked up for publishing yet.  Ci-Co Girl defines a girl who is a cross between a city girl and a country girl.

Let me expound on that.  You see, when I go to a city such as, oh let's just say Atlanta, I feel very much like a country girl.  However, when I go out to my sister's house in the country and I enter the barn and hear them say they are going to "put up hay",  I'm looking around for the cabinets to neatly stack some pieces of straw in to get them out of the way.  It is at that point that I feel very much like a city girl.  You understand?  I don't fit in either place.  I am not a savvy city girl and I'm certainly far from being an official country girl.  I'm a Ci-Co Girl.

Take, for example, my recent trip to Atlanta.  I flew in to stay with my niece.  Upon arrival at the airport, I disembarked the plane and promptly started reading the signs.  My destination was "Ground Transportation".  I had studied well before hand the lay out of this monstrous airport.  I cocked my head back and meandered down the concourse with the rest of the weary travelers.  I know I looked quite comfortable.  (I had practiced the look.)  I seemed to fit in. 

On the inside, however, I was rehearsing my route.  It went something like this....Take the next right and follow it to the tram.  Board the tram and ride it to the "ground transportation" sign.  Get off the tram and walk through the gates to the MARTA system (Atlanta's Rail System).  Saunter over to the MARTA store and nonchalantly purchase a MARTA riding card.  Swipe the card past the infrared gate opener and shuffle through the opening like you have done this a thousand times.  (That would have worked too, I might add, had I not been waiting for the wrong gate to open.  I stood there swiping and swiping my card all the while not realizing that the gate to my left was open for me!  It took the real "City Girl" behind me to politely inform me to use the other gate!)  Board the subway, flop in a chair like you own the place and ride it through down town Atlanta!  Listen carefully, while pretending to read your book, for the "Red Route" disembarking prompter.  DO NOT get off early by accident, because then I will be on the Green Route or the Gold Route.....they will take me to the wrong place!!  It was a busy place in my head that day with all of those directions floating around...let me tell you!

The bottom line in all of that was to say, that as long as I stayed on my "route", I would eventually get to my destination.  I did reach my niece's house without incident by the way.  I also had an escort (my sweet brother-in-law) who met me at the MARTA entrance to ensure my safe travel.  I looked like I belonged there, but I really didn't belong there on that subway anymore than I belong in the barn "mucking out" a stall!  (I do know what that one means....although I have never officially done it.)   

I spotted these two ducks crossing over the bridge instead
of swimming to get to the other side of the river!
  I have never seen ducks take this route!
I had to chuckle as they navigated down the stairs!
This verse prompted me to think about the word pilgrim.  At it's most basic meaning, the word pilgrim is defined as "traveler or homeless wanderer".  In the Latin orientation it refers to a "foreigner or stranger." 

We really are strangers here on earth, aren't we?  Wandering around trying to figure out where we fit in.  The thing is, that we will never "fit in" in this world if we are a child of the King.  And that's okay, because we were never meant to.  As a Christ follower I don't have to feel comfortable here on planet earth.  It's only my temporary home.  I just need to find the gifts and talents He has given me, so that I might utilize them to help His children and thereby to glorify His name on my travels. 

The best way I know to identify my gifts and talents, and therefore decrease my wandering aimlessly without purpose, is to define my convictions.  At the very core of that task is to recognize the difference between my convictions and my preferences.  My convictions are my non-negotiable core beliefs.  These convictions will be the fuel to motivate my actions and uncover any God given talents, so I can use them.  They keep me on track.  I have studied them.  I have memorized them.  I will not waiver from them.  My personal convictions are based upon the Word of God and my preferences are usually based upon the word of my flesh, so to speak.

Here are a few of my convictions:
  1. I will love God before anyone or anything else and never belittle His glorious name. (Exodus 20:1-4)
  2. I will Honor my parents. (Exodus 20:12)
  3. I will teach my children to know, honor, and love God. (Ephesians 6:4)
  4. I will treat human life as sacred from the moment of conception.  (Psalm 139:13-16)
  5. I will be satisfied and grateful with what the Lord has blessed me with. (Exodus 20:17)
Lord,
Thank you for the gift of Your Word that allows my wandering through planet earth to be invigorated with purpose and a clearly defined destination.  You're all I really need to master this portion of my pilgrimage.  Please give Your confidence to each of us today and assure us that the route we are on is the one that You have placed us on.  Help us to listen carefully to Your promptings so  we will remain faithful to fulfill the journey You have designed specifically for each one of us.
In the Holy name of Jesus,
Amen