Archive | August 2014



Her wedding day! What joy, what wonder! She has kept herself pure and now the fulfillment of her dreams from a child through her youth and young adulthood is about to be a new reality. Can one do anything except be gloriously glad for her? Ahh, but there’s a thorn with every rose, isn’t there? Notwithstanding today’s horticulture, that was a truth that endured for centuries. Her thorn is that her precious momma, always there, always loving, never anything except the epitome of a great wife, a great mom, and a loving, generous person, contracted ALS two years ago, and can’t walk up the aisle tonight. She will be in a wheelchair, and has held on to life for this beautiful day. The day of wonder, but great sorrow–sorrow almost as great as death, for there has been nothing except a downhill spiral in health for her mom for two years. A disease worse than dementia, for the victim understands the pain being inflicted on their loved ones.

Have you noticed there is a growing desperation on all sides? It seems there is depression inherent in daily life like never before for most of this generation. Yes, there are a few left who can remember the “Great Depression,” but most of those are gone now. It seems we’re going through a new one–one for this generation.

And so we turn to God’s Holy Word for some reassurance, for comfort, and for hope. And here we find it! David, the great king of Israel, in spite of his sins, himself suffered depression as heavy as any we bear. In Psalm 77 we see immediately that he, in his life, was no different than we are in ours! He tells us that he was having troubles so great that no one could help, so he cried out to God, and God listened. How is that different from what we do? We may not pray a lot when things are going well, but oh, let trouble come, especially things too heavy to bear, and things we cannot control, and we turn to God! David said he would lay awake at night, complaining, and his spirit was so overwhelmed he could hardly stand it. In verse 4 he tells us that he couldn’t sleep, and was so troubled he couldn’t speak. Have you been there? Someone asks how you’re doing, and you don’t even feel like answering their question for fear of breaking completely down! Who wants to say “Fine!” when you’re on the bottom?

David goes on to say that he thinks back over better days, and remembers when he was happy. Now he feels deserted by God, completely cast off, and wonders if God is so angry with him that He has withdrawn His grace and mercy. Is that us? You?

But as David reflected, he began to make a choice to praise, rather than despair! He decided to consciously recall the great and mighty things God had done in his past, and in eternity past, as well. He retreated from the depression and began to list the goodness of God, and the great things He has done!

That is not easy when your soul feels as though you would rather cease living. It takes inner strength to make the choice to praise. God will give you that strength if you begin to reflect on His character, His attributes, His longsuffering, and His love!

The choice is never easy. Pilgrim, in Pilgrim’s Progress, fell into a Slough of Despond. He wallowed, but he got out. We may have a broken heart for some reason, but let’s make the choice to give it to God, the healer of broken hearts. Don’t try on your own–He’s as near as you will let Him come!

Father, thank You for Your wondrous love. Thank You for Your promise that You will never leave us, nor forsake us. You tell us to draw near to You–THEN You will draw near to us. Help us make that a conscious choice! Amen



“What do you want to be when you grow up?” ” A MOMMY,” I always exclaimed! I wanted ten kids, had them all named, and at night would fantasize, not on my good-looking husband, but what their schedules would be! I would begin with their bath right after breakfast….. well, you get the idea! The problem was, I was five years old.. then ten… then fifteen. It was my goal.

Unfortunately, my “mommy” skills were pretty lacking. I begged to stay in the church nursery as often as they would possibly let me, and hold the babies. My first baby sitting job came when I was about 10, and by the age of twelve I had become the most-sought after baby-sitter in our subdivision. Can you imagine? At forty cents an hour the couple would come home to an immaculate house, dishes washed and put away, children asleep, and me waiting up! Finally, at 21, I had my first baby!

No baby company has anything on me when it came to the layout I had hand-stitched for my coming one. I hoped for a girl, prayed for a girl, and made outfits by the gazillion. Even to lining the ruffled panties with rubberized lining that went over the diaper (I was of the “rubber pants” generation!)

There were many things I did not know, however. I thought babies were born understanding every word you spoke to them. And so not only did I talk to her by the hour, but read books, fairy tales, stories, Bible stories–just holding her and reading–and reading. I instructed her in everything! By the time she was three months old, I assumed it was time to start potty training her, and can remember well holding her on the little potty dish (not in a chair), so she could “go.” I probably delayed her potty training by years! But I was too ignorant to know this. By her seventh month she would hold “Golden” books and “read” them.

There is a direct parallel here to Christianity. One day, whether young or old, we ask God if He will accept our faith in Jesus Christ, and “save” us. Some people assume that automatically, like I did with my baby, we understand and accept everything written in the Bible. To not understand begins to undermine our faith, and we let doubts come in. A good example is our grass seed out front here, where lots of dollars worth of seed has been planted on the ground: rain waters the seed, and roots grow, but the hard ground does not give way to deeper roots and the grass dies. Or read the Parable of the Soils (look it up). In other words, you have not let your salvation experience let you develop a relationship based on truth–such as my thinking my brand new daughter understood everything I said to her–but it becomes based on “Well, I do not understand what God is saying, so therefore, the Bible must be wrong.”

The more science understands about the universe, about the human body, cells, DNA, and science in general, the more they are confounded by the unfathomable way in which everything works. But those who are not able to understand toss it aside, and try to come up with an explanation that they can understand. If I could figure out the hows and whys of what God has done, I would be able to be God. I can’t even understand my own body, let alone the universe.

Look around you: as I sit here in my home in central Virginia, I can see the Blue Ridge Mountains, the green trees, the enormous amount of foliage, animals, birds, the celestial display–Red Moon, and more–stars by the trillions, and the Bible tells me that by looking at all this beauty, I can understand that it was made by a power greater than anything I can comprehend. It tells me not only that I can understand there is a Creator behind it, but because I am able to realize this, then when I stand before God after death, if I have rejected Him, I will not have an excuse. There will be no way I can justify that I did not understand that there is a God, and that He made everything. Read Romans 1:18 ff.

Does salvation immediately give me knowledge of all the “why” and “how” and “when” that God has done? Absolutely not. My daughter had to gradually come to a place where she understood some of the words I was speaking to her. She had to grow, to know me, the sound of my voice, and most of the things I did were incomprehensible to her.

Go to the New Testament, read it. Underline the things you don’t understand in one color, but underline the things that you do understand in another. Mark Twain supposedly said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts I do understand.” Be truthful with yourself. Forget trying to figure out the culture of the Old Testament until you have learned the truth of Jesus Christ and understand His love for you. You are probably, like me, a possible scumbug, but He loves us! He died for us! Enter into a relationship not based on “knowing” and “understanding” and trying to rationalize it your way, but like a new baby, feeding on only the milk of the Word until it’s time to move on to a little more solid food.

Yes, she grew up, into a beautiful young woman.

Father, take those who are hurting–for that is where the problem probably lies; someone has hurt them, and they are angry at You for allowing it. You have given us choices, Lord, and some of those choices cause hurt and evil to tear us down. Help those who are bitter to let it go for just a few hours–that, too, is a choice–and assess their hurt. Let them feel Your love! Amen



Smoke billowed out around the edges of the bedroom door as we looked down the hallway, frantic! About the same time we realized the second bedroom had smoke coming out as well. My husband was yelling, “Dial 911!!” I looked at the brand new phone in my hand and the black screen facing me. Had it been my old phone, there would have been no problem, but the shock of knowing our house was on fire was short-circuiting my brain, and I could not remember how to get it off screen saver. Between the smoke, the fire, my husband yelling, and the new phone, I was rendered incapable of doing what should have been easy! And because my hair is strawberry blonde, it became a joke in our family over the past two years that “Mom’s so blonde she couldn’t dial 911!” All the peripherals were not mentioned!

Paralyzing fear in a situation can cause even a very cool-headed person to shut down on normal reactions! Fear or its climax can render anyone unable to react, and often does.

Have you ever considered the number of people in the Bible who were told not to fear? Joshua had to be told over and over in the first chapter–four times he was told not to be discouraged, that the Lord would be with him; Mary, when met by Gabriel as he foretold her coming pregnancy, told her to not be afraid as he came to her. Abraham, Hagar, Gideon, Elijah–and so many more, our “cloud of witnesses,” all were told in various ways not to fear. Why? Because fear renders one incapable of doing what should be easy! God’s will is thwarted and Satan wins.

How so? Well, why have you not told someone in the family that they are on the road to hell? Because you fear a severance in the relationship! The same could be said of your co-workers, your neighbors, or someone close to you in relationship. What is always the response? “Well, only God knows their heart, and we are not to judge.” Well, half-right  is better than all wrong, I guess, and the truth is, we can’t judge their heart, but we are to be “fruit inspectors.” “Every tree is known by its own fruit” Matthew writes the words of Jesus. A saved person may be in sin for a season, but if so, he will be miserable, enduring discipline from the Lord, and eventually back on the right path.

Does fear cripple you when you think of telling someone about the wondrous things God has done for you? It should have no power over you. Discipling someone, counseling someone, praying with someone, do those possibilities make you tremble? God is with you, my friend! Or how about an example closer to home: do you hold your tongue because you are in an abusive relationship and don’t want to set someone off? That person then has complete control over you. Get help. You can’t? Why? Oh, you’re afraid you will lose the kids, lose….. Are you a parent who sees your spouse belittling one of the children, but you don’t interfere? You will let someone destroy a child, why?

For just one day, write down the times you hold your tongue because you fear the consequence. It may surprise you that victory is so close and yet so far. Memorize the verse “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind,” and then–as fear comes into a moment–start praising God for His goodness at all times.

Father, please help us remember that You have not sent a spirit of fear into our lives, even today with all of the atrocities going on around the world. We know that You are still on the throne, guiding all the nations as we watch and marvel of Bible prophecies being fulfilled. Help us to not fear to tell those in our family who are facing hell, that You alone are truth! Amen



The smell of brewing coffee seemed to seep under the door to the hotel bedroom, enveloping the room in the ambiance of a European coffee shop, and even though I had had very little sleep, the odors pulled me from the warm covers toward the kitchenette. I didn’t even take time to get my glasses, without which nothing is clear.

The coffee pot was full, sitting on the counter next to the stove. But there–on the back burner–sat a full cup, and even though my husband had gone, his thoughtfulness in making me a cup of coffee, ready to drink, was just too sweet! I hoped it was still piping hot, and, picking it up, took a nice big “swig.” If you’re familiar with Jesus’ return, you’ll know the meaning of a “twinkling of an eye.” It took less than that to realize I had taken a nice gulp of grease (I won’t think about the “juice”) from the cooking hamburger the night before, when they had all had spaghetti & meatballs for supper–before I arrived. The turn from the stove to the sink about four feet behind me took even less time as I gagged, all my reflux actions in perfect working order. It wasn’t pretty.

Adding insult to injury, the grease, besides making me sick as a dog who eats grass, left a taste that HAD to come out of my mouth! So I grabbed a clean cup, looked quickly in the frig for a creamer, poured a good ‘dollop,’ and added the coffee from the hot pot. Aahhh. Taking a big swig of that should fix the taste in my mouth. It did. If you’ve been to Europe you’ll know that for every 5 oz. size cup, there’s enough coffee to grow hair on a bald man’s head. This made European coffee bland by comparison. Later, I learned my married daughter–not a coffee drinker–had made it for me, so pleased she could do something special for mom; in that situation, you read directions. One “scoop” of coffee in the filter per cup, for a 12 cup pot, is great if you have a scoop, but if you’re operating in a hotel suite, really, only tablespoons are available. So, just to be on the safe side, she “rounded” the spoonful, making each tablespoon probably equivalent to 2 scoops of coffee. Twenty four. Even in my sleep-deprived, grease-tasting state, I almost gagged again. Then, part of my brain (fried by the grease) said “dilute it,” while the major part of my brain went by forty years of habit, and rather than turning to the sink to add water, I did what I do at home: I added more coffee to my cup. By the point at which I had done this maybe four times, my caffeine overdose was taking effect, and I realized what I was doing. Also by then I was shaking so badly I couldn’t hold the cup anyway. Even my son (her brother), who drinks his very strong, came in rather soon after all this and filled his cup, only to spit it out in about a second flat yelling, “That’s the worst coffee I’ve ever had!” He took out the filter to make new, and there, in the filter, you could see a slight circle of white barely above the grounds. A filter full of grounds. Her good intentions were completely appreciated but I’m afraid the results were poured down the sink.

God doesn’t waste lessons with me. Immediately (as in once I had stopped shaking from the caffeine, and stopped gagging from the grease), I began to see the similarity to our Christian walk. As I’ve written before, (probably), we smile and send a big friendly handshake or wave to everyone we know as we go into church, or when we’re out in public. We talk like Mr. or Mrs. Super Christian before the world, but when God looks at us, as He did with the Pharisees, does He see the outside of the cup being clean and beautiful, but the inside being something He wants to gag out of His mouth? In the semi-darkness, with no glasses, the grease on the back burner passed for a clean cup of coffee! The relationship I had with the grease, as fast as it was, let me know I wanted nothing to do with what it held.

The same was true for the other cup, the one that could have been taken out by the spoonful, each added to a cup of  hot water, and made a good cup of coffee (that’s what I actually did in Europe). But are we strong for other people, always trying to encourage them, display our efforts on their behalf, but inside have nothing that God wants to use? We have to ask ourselves these questions!

The Pharisees, as we say here in Virginia, “kinda, sorta, figured” that He was speaking of them when He pointed things out. Do you wonder, when you hear the pastor preach something that might possibly apply to you, if it really does? That’s probably the Holy Spirit.

And He’s probably saying, “This is for you. Listen. Learn. Apply.”

God, what a lesson! I’ll hate grease the rest of my life (whether I have much left, or not). Help me, please, to be sensitive to the lessons You have for me, so that I can be beautiful for You on the inside, so that You can use me in any small or big way to help someone who needs to know You better. I love You, Lord. Amen!