Happy Mother’s Day!

Just want to wish you all a …

How blessed we are today to remember the mothers in our life …

For those who have loved and nurtured us–whether a mother who is still with you or one who has passed as mine did last year, a grandmother who gave that extra measure of loving care, a mother-in-law who has loved and cared for you as a beloved daughter, or another woman in your life who has loved and inspired you.

 

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Living in Daily Love

Living in daily love (1 Corinthians 13) is one of my top goals in life. So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is tune in to Curt Landry’s “Power Points.”

His 30 second online teaching sessions help to keep me centered in my daily walk with our Lord Jesus. His perspective as a Messianic Jew adds such  a wonderful element, and he ends his nuggets of truth from God’s Word with a prayer for his listeners.

You will find him by tuning in at http://www.curtlandry.com/power-points-curt-landry/. Be blessed!

The Incredible Power of Memory

Today I walked in the rain, sheltered by my big black umbrella and enjoying a brief time with the Lord in my corner of his creation. My walk took me a half-mile down our country road to Lake Winnebago.

I smiled as I discovered deep blue violets and graceful wild geraniums growing along the roadside. During the months of May in my childhood, I picked bouquets of these pretty blossoms and other wildflowers to delight my mother. Those were sweet times.

Today birds whistling, trilling, and chirruping with all their hearts presented a great symphony that filled the morning air. Again I smiled, recalling all the springtime mornings I awakened to their joyous songs.

Memory is a powerful tool. That’s probably why God invites us to remember those times when he has answered our prayers and helped us. Why bother to remember? Because such memories cheer and encourage us. They help us hang on when life becomes difficult. They remind us that God is good. He deeply loves us and has filled his Word with wonderful promises of all he delights in doing for us.

Has God answered a prayer dear to your heart? Remember and be encouraged. Has God restored your health or the health of someone you love? Remember and be filled with thanksgiving. Has God given you the wisdom or strength to overcome an obstacle in your life? Remember and sing his praises. Keep a treasury of your memories of God’s goodness. It will encourage you to trust him today and in the days to come.

Focus: “I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts” ~ Psalm 77:11-12, New Living Translation.

How about you? What memories of God’s goodness do you hold dear to your heart?

(This blog post adapted from a May 2001 piece published by Together in Faith in my ten-year column, Love with Shoes On.)

Freedom from Prison

“How can you ask me to do that?” Alison wiped the tears from her face. “You know all the ugly things he’s done.”

Yes, Debra knew what her brother-in-law had done before, during, and since their nasty divorce. She also knew how much it hurt when someone who should love you turned on you in hatred. Hadn’t her own daughter hurt her more than any parent should be asked to endure?

“But that’s not the point–” she began.

“Oh, I get it. You want me to say, ‘I forgive you, Leo. It’s all right. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Not at all.” How could Debra help her dear sister understand? Oh, yes. “Alison, remember the story Jesus told about the king who forgave his manager who embezzled a million dollars from him? Do you remember how that same manager then refused to forgive someone who owed him very little?”

Alison nodded, but from her glowering expression, Debra  had the feeling her sister knew where this was going and didn’t like it. She continued anyway, “Later the king discovered his manger refused to forgive a neighbor’s debt and threw his manager in prison.”

Debra looked into her sister’s red-rimmed eyes. “Alison, unforgiveness is a prison.”

Alison crossed her arms. “So you want me to let him get away with all the terrible things he’s done–all the terrible things he still does every chance he gets.”

“I want you to put all that in God’s hands where it belongs. The important thing is for you–all of us–to trust God to know what is best.” Debra took took her sister’s hands. “Alison, when we choose to forgive, we get our lives back. We are free! No more tormenting prison of self-pity and hatred. You want that, don’t you? Then start right now by forgiving Leo for each thing you remember that still hurts you.”

“Forgiving him won’t stop him.”

“No,” Debra said.”But as long as you keep forgiving, you stay free and give God room to work in your heart and his. Alison, let God handle Leo.”

Debra was right. Forgiving another’s wrongs doesn’t make the person right. It simply says, “I cancel the debt you owe me–love, money, respect, or anything else–and put the matter in God’s hands.” Jesus gave us our one sure way out of the painful prison of unforgiveness.

Focus: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have … forgive as the Lord forgave you” ~ Colossians 3:13, New International Version.

How about you? What do you think of Jesus’ method of freeing yourself from the prison of unforgiveness? How has it worked for you or someone you know?

 

 

God’s Care in Frightening Circumstances

As soon as my husband left for his out-of-town seminar, I hopped in my car to shop for Mom’s birthday gift. Five miles up the road, my little red Saab accelerated on its own. I pressed the brakes. It slowed, but the moment I let up, my car shot ahead with a vengeance!

All thoughts of shopping fled as I headed straight for the garage that serviced our cars. Closed.

“What now, Lord?”

A desire to head home gripped me. I wrestled  with my runaway car for two miles before pulling into a Volvo sales lot. Turning off the ignition, I rested my head against the steering wheel and wept. Safe for the moment, I was still three miles from home and no closer to solving my problem. “What should I do, Lord?”

A tall man in a spotless white jumpsuit appeared at the passenger side door. “Can I help you?”

He listened to my story. “Bring it into the garage. I’ll take a look.”

I glanced at my purse, sure that what little money I had with me was about to disappear.

He looked under the hood and sprayed a “sticky valve.” With a smile, he told me the trouble would disappear by the time I reached home. “No charge,” he insisted.

My nerves had begun to settle as I arrived at the next intersection. Two cars pulled up behind me while I waited for a white semi with “Student Driver” splashed in red along its side. It turned onto our road. Too late I saw the danger!

Amid a series of deafening hisses, its back tires rolled toward my front bumper. Frantic, I fumbled to jam my car in reverse–without success. As the huge tires pressed against my bumper, I screamed for God’s help. “Jesus!” The truck stopped and fell silent.

I reached home in a sorry state of nerves. Collapsing  on the living room floor, I wept. “Lord, why did you let this happen to me? Why didn’t you take care of me?”

I did, child. You’re home and you’re safe. His gentle words soothed my heart.

God doesn’t always spare us life’s frightening circumstances. But whatever we face, if we trust and obey him, we come to know the blessing of his shield of love.

Focus: “You bless the godly man, O Lord; you protect him with your shield of love” ~ Psalm 5:12, New Living Translation.

How about you? Can you recall a time when God saved you in the midst of a frightening circumstance? Please share.

Appropriately Clothed for the Wedding

I held up the soft velvet slacks that matched my black suede heels and set off the sparkling sapphire earrings and necklace my husband had given me. Perfect for my nephew’s wedding–except for one thing. “Lord, where do I find the right black velvet top?”

The name of a store came to mind. As unlikely as it seemed to me, I went.

Up and down the aisles of thrift store clothing, I checked one possibility after another. Too big. Too small. Too revealing. Material too different. Ugly buttons. Hopeless!

On the way out, my gaze skimmed absently over a rack of items to be re-hung. Wait!

I snatched a black velvet top from the rack. Right size. Right neckline. Right sleeve length. A perfect match for the slacks. Thanking the Lord, I headed for the checkout.

Most of us try to select the right clothing to attend a wedding celebration, but Jesus told the story of one who did not.

It seems a king held a great wedding feast. When the banquet was ready and the hall filled, he came to greet his guests and noticed one who was not appropriately clothed. “Why?” the king asked.

The man didn’t answer. He had no excuse. Because the king had provided wedding garments for those who didn’t have them, the man’s lack of proper clothing was nothing but outright rebellion. He wanted to be included, but on his own terms.

The king wasted no time. He had the man thrown out (Matthew 22:1-14).

One day God will call us to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We each are to arrive appropriately clothed in the beautiful garment Jesus purchased for us by his death on the cross. His Word says Jesus gives this spotless garment of his righteousness to all who meet certain requirements–believe he is God, admit they are sinners, and accept his blood-bought forgiveness.

While many believe in more than one way to heaven, the truth is that, like the king is Jesus’ story, only God can say what he requires. Do we want to  enjoy eternity in heaven? Then it must be on his terms–which he makes lovingly clear in his Word.

Focus: (Jesus speaking) I am the way … no one can come to the Father except through me” ~ John 14:6, New Living Translation.

What do you think about God’s requirements for enjoying eternity in heaven, and why?

 

The Choice Is Ours

Last night I dreamed about a huge snake! He was of such length that I never did see the end of him. Strangely enough, he was also flat–about a foot or more wide, and though menacing, never dared touch me. Instead, he hovered and lurked and watched.

I wonder if that was Eve’s experience, except that, as she stared at the incredible creature, it talked!

The serpent tipped its head, never taking its penetrating gaze from her. It seemed to smile. “S-s-so?” it hissed. “Did God really say that you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”

Eve blew an exasperated breath. Of course not! “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat or even touch it, or we will die.”

“You won’t die!” the serpent declared.

At this point, Eve had stayed too long. Within minutes, the serpent talked her into believing God was withholding something desirable. If she ate that delicious-looking fruit, she would be as wise as God! Eve fell for the serpent’s trick (Genesis 3:1-7). She ate the fruit and gave some to Adam. The penalty of death from which God had tried to protect them became their heritage and ours.

No doubt about it! God’s enemy is crafty. His purpose is to trick us into sin. He tempts us to question God’s goodness, to doubt the wisdom of following God’s commands. “You won’t die!” he hisses.

But Jesus called Satan the “Father of Liars.” That Father of Liars continually tempts us to believe that God is withholding some good from us. But the truth is: God wants to fill our lives with joy, satisfaction, and blessing, not destruction and regret.

The choice is ours, just as it was for Adam’s son, Cain.

“Why are you so angry? So dejected?” God says to us as he once said to Cain. “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you … you must subdue it” (Genesis 4:7, New Living Translation).

The greatest love we will ever know is in our relationship with God. The best life we will ever experience is the one we choose to live in obedience to the Lord God Almighty because we love him.

We can believe the devil’s lies, or we can trust and obey God. The choice–and its consequences–are ours.

Focus: “The thief’s [Satan’s] purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My [Jesus’] purpose is to give life in all its fullness” ~ John 10:10, New Living Translation.

How about you? What’s been your experience as you’ve made one or the other choice? Which works best for you and why?