Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010 - Trick or Treat?

God is saying so much this morning I can't get it down fast enough. First, please read the verses for today in the order they're presented below and look for an arrow shooting straight through them and tying them together.

"'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.'" Exodus 3:5

"'Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' by this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." John 7:38-39

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19

     First: Did you see it? God, Jesus, Holy Spirit; Old Covenant, Jesus Teachings, Post-Pentacost. Beautiful, consistent teachings and faith-binding reasons the Bible is timeless and trustworthy. We can rest in its Truth because Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and testify in unison. 
     Next: In the Exodus passage, Moses had to cross to the other side of the desert to get to the Mountain of God, then God came to us in Jesus (Emmanuel - "God with us") as the link between wandering in a spiritual desert and never thirsting again. Now we carry the Living Water in us - we're the arks, we're the God-carriers to those still living in the desert. 
     Next: Now our physical presence is a temple that houses God. Some people still go to church buildings, synagogues, and cathedrals searching for God but others see through the windows of our lives and catch a glimpse of God living in us and they head up our sidewalks with their empty cups. Sarah Young calls this point of contact, when people knock on the doors of our temples seeking God, "holy ground."  That took me by surprise before I started thinking it through. "Holy ground" in my mind is the point, or place, where I meet with God whether it's sitting here at the computer letting Him lead and love me, in a congregation, as part of an intimate prayer time with Christian friends, or singing a worship song. But when do unbelievers meet with God on "holy ground?" Where is the edge of the desert for them? Could it be when they see the fire burning in us from a distance and wander closer out of curiosity? Is it when we open our doors and they find the One they thought they saw inside? 
     Humbling and a little frightening to think I can trick or treat people every day. I have three choices: 1) I let the "living waters" of the Holy Spirit flow out to thirsty people; 2) I answer their knocks but block their view of God; or 3)  I turn off the light and pretend no one's home. 

Lord, keep us constantly mindful of our role as Your temples, Your water carriers, Your ears, hands and feet. Make Your Presence felt as thirsty people knock on our lives and even shake up our buckets to see Who's inside. Keep us from blocking their view of You. Guard us from spouting out trite, over-used phrases to answer their needs. Help us not to freeze up and hide but to swing open the door and let You pour out into thirsty souls. This means praying while we listen: both physical ears tuned in to what they pour out to us while keeping our spiritual ears tuned completely to Your Voice. We trust You to respond through us. Give us the courage to pray with them instead of promising to pray for them, so those who have no idea how to talk to You may learn from us. May we go with them to the altar instead of just pointing the way. Use us like pitchers - refilling us and filling others through us. What a joyful calling! 

(Note: My daily blogs are always in response to my own daily devotions in whatever devotion book I'm using at the time. For several years this has been Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" unless otherwise noted. The verses provided each day are the ones on which she bases her daily entries.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010 - Never Too Old for A Crossing Guard

     As Little Mac and I sat in the car waiting for Nick to come out of the school building, we watched a teacher at the corner where we were parked. She waited until a group of students gathered around her then watched for an opening in the after-school traffic, stepped out first then motioned the students safely across the street. She held her arms out straight on each side to be more visible to drivers as they passed her and said, "Have a good weekend. Have fun this Halloween but be safe!" Then she returned to the corner and repeated this procedure time and again. At one point, a pair of girls ran thoughtlessly into the street as an SUV was backing out. One of the girls yelled at the other, "You're going to get hit!" and the vehicle slammed on brakes, avoiding a catastrophe. The teacher called to them, "Yes, you're going to get hit if you run across the street like that! Come to the crosswalk!" 
     All but two of the students came to the teacher to cross the street. I don't think our problem as believers is knowing where to go to safely navigate through life on earth to the "other side:" God's Word answers all our spiritual needs. Our problem is we don't listen for God's Voice when we think "I've got this," or when we don't think at all, or when we we want to live dangerously by doing things our way instead of His. The two girls were seventh graders, old enough to know how to safely cross a busy street, but maybe they thought they were "too old" for a crossing guard. Sometimes I've run into traffic and trouble because I assumed what was right for me and I didn't go to the crosswalk to let God lead me through a decision or project. Remember Joshua and the Israelites after God brought down the walls of Jericho? They thoughtlessly sent a small troop to take care of Ai, a town not much bigger than its name, and were whipped soundly because they didn't go to God first. Bad decision. Oh the humiliation and loss of lives!
     We can never assume life is a piece of cake, a no-brainer, or that we don't need God's direction or protection. The teacher on the crosswalk greeted the students who crossed with her and gave them caring advice about the weekend. The Lord knows we need to hear His loving Voice, His direction and His protection but He calls us to meet Him at the crosswalk first. He knows we're never too old or too spiritually mature for a Crossing Guard.

Father, thank You for caring for us to the point that You never leave us. You're always with us and we can always find You. Forgive us when we don't want to find You and insist on shortcuts and handling things on our own. The consequences are often destructive and heartbreaking. I don't want to pay the price for pride so I humbly come to You this morning to listen to You and to follow Your Voice wherever You lead me. Help us wait patiently with You at the corner until You're ready to lead us to the next corner. Help us listen and learn from You in the quiet times so we're ready to move into action when You give the green light.

In the name of God, who wrote the Safety Manual, Jesus, who stretched His arms wide on the cross to get those who come to Him to the other side, and the Holy Spirit who conducts us in God's will if we'll listen and follow Him.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know Me. . . . My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand."  John 10:14, 27-28

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010 - Fly, Robin, fly!

     My clothes don't know how to act in their new closet. For one thing, all garments that were too small are now whooping it up at Goodwill waiting for someone who will appreciate and wear them rather than lose them in the dark extremities of the closet. They had lost all hope since they never saw me reach for my walking shoes or exercise clothes. The remaining Blouses, Pants, Skirts and Dresses now enjoy hanging out with other family members since they've never been grouped before. Hats sit proudly displayed on a shelf instead of hiding under each other. Belts are on a belt ring in plain sight. Shoes? In a canvas highrise with 10 apartments - compartments - for shoes. Now, my  clothes enjoy either staying home or going out for the day. And me? Well, a girl's gotta love being able to locate happy clothes. 
    De-cluttering a closet, alphabetizing DVDs, prepping to paint, checking the cabinet for ingredients BEFORE starting the recipe, keeping up with the calendar, getting a flu shot, making a grocery list, learning a song and practicing it - all these disciplines take time but in the long run they make a positive difference. Julie Andrews said,"Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly." (  How right she is - especially when it comes to spiritual discipline.
     Taking time to prepare spiritually each day keeps us from plunging into what must be done with the wrong heart and attitude. Lingering in God's Presence is like placing painter's tape along the edges of our lives: it takes time but will protect us from sloppy words, messy emotions, and drippy insincerity - our own or what others send our way. Basking in God's Presence is much like getting a flu shot to ward off the weariness and unhealthy "me" mindset of forgetting why we serve. Focusing on praising and thanking Him rather than rushing by with today's headline of our latest urgent need is like looking at the calendar and remembering that life isn't all about what will get me through today. And, balancing prayer, Bible study, fellowship, service, witnessing and giving is like keeping the clothes organized: resources wait ready and in place to help me do the good works God prepared in advance for me to do. The closet is ready for all of the above: fly, Robin, fly!
     Lord who reigns, I stand in awe of a God who has lined up good works for each of us to accomplish. Thank You for entrusting us with divine appointments. Thank you for filling us with Your sweet Spirit to carry through with joy what You've ordained. Lead us to fulfill our destinies in You - not out of duty but because we're exhilarated by Your Love. Open the eyes and ears of our hearts to see where You want us to plug in to people's lives.  Help us learn to love the discipline of spending time with You and learning to obey Your Word so we don't stand in our own way of being who You created us to be. Give us wings to fly freely in Your grace and love. We trust You to equip us for whatever You know is part of today.
In the name of Jesus who endured opposition to fly to heaven!   
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010 - Freak Show

The devotional* Nick and I read together last night touched on people in an old-time circus and included a strong man and a giant. Nick asked, "What did the giant do as his circus act?" and I told him that more than likely people paid to see a giant, since a giant is someone unusual. Then I told him about "freak shows" and the words stuck in my mouth because the phrase itself lacks any fairness or compassion. Nick was appalled that the world once used people with abnormalities as forms of entertainment. I used the opportunity to tell him this hateful human attitude begins revealing itself through children who bully and form cliques. As the "new kid" in town, he seemed especially open to understanding the value of compassion to people with seemingly unfair disadvantages.    

"Life isn't fair" is one of the first hard lessons we learn as children. One sibling gets to do something and you don't. Not fair! Someone else gets the last cookie. Not fair! It rains on the day of your outdoor birthday party. Not fair!  

As we grow, so does the punch in life's unfair blows: Unqualified people with connections get jobs and promotions while people who work hard are overlooked; Careless single women have several unplanned babies when loving couples can't get pregnant; wonderful people die young when less wonderful people live to ripe old ages; and the list goes on. Sarah Young, in today's "Jesus Calling," names another unfair situation in life: While we were ungodly and sinful freaks, Jesus died for us and clothed us in robes of salvation and righteousness. Bet that one wasn't on your list. It wasn't on mine either but it sure brings new light to what's fair and unfair in life. Is it fair that God forgives me when I keep sinning? Is it fair that I broke His law and Someone Else paid the price? Praise God, His ways are better than fair - they're filled with His amazing grace.   

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound - that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear - and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed."

Lord Almighty, God of grace and compassion, thank You for not being fair with us! Fairness would land us in a deep pit in this life and in hell in the afterlife. Thank You for choosing grace over fairness and for lavishing Your gifts on undeserving sinners. When we could do nothing about our spiritual condition and were doomed to an eternity separated from You, You sent Your own flesh and blood to bridge the gap between us. Now, when we take that beautiful, amazing Gift for granted You still insist on being patient and compassionate towards us. Thank You for seeing us in robes of salvation and righteousness when our own spiritual wardrobe is like filthy rags. Thank You for adorning us with jewels when we're quick to settle for all that glitters but is worthless or temporary. Thank You for pouring out the blessings of Your direction and wisdom so we can grow into the people You've created us to be. Bless Your Name in all the earth for Your amazing grace!

In the name of Jesus, the other name for Grace

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10

"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 1:7-8

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by  the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:5-6

* Did You Know Devotions for Kids - 365 days of trivia, memory verses and fun devotions! (We love this kids' devotional book for kids 7-11. It's filled with true stories that have made Nick and I look forward to our time reading them together for the last two to three years. I'm hoping to find a sequel.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - GPS

     As the last people on earth to acquire a GPS, we have a road map of Benton in the car. You would think a small town with a few main thoroughfares would be easy to navigate but even those who've lived here all their lives agree it can be challenging for newcomers to get from point A to point B without circling them a few times first. In fact, our pastor said Sunday, "Benton is the only town I know where you have to put on your blinker to go straight."
     Due to one-way streets downtown we've had a good view of the courthouse from every angle. Also,  Exits 116-118 are all connected with service roads strung down I-30 so you can see where you want to go on the other side of the Interstate, you just can't get there. We've learned to ask for detailed directions from people who know since the road map doesn't show one way streets, circular exits and entrances, or the quickest route to the restaurant where everyone is waiting for us.
     Once upon a time I was taught the Bible is my road map and I've tried to follow its directions, at major intersections for sure, but more and more in the daily trips here and there. However, I've found my "Map" comes to life when I listen to the Designer explain it and direct me. Jesus returned to heaven to send the Holy Spirit as our GPS (God Positioning System). People who have a GPS (Global Positioning System) become quite dependent on them and sometimes can't retrace their steps on their own. I'm not sure that's always a good thing, but with the Holy Spirit it can be a daily, miraculous occurrence. If we stay tuned in to Him and follow His directions, He helps us get where God wants us to be from wherever we are and uses the most adventurous and rewarding scenic routes. It's what He came to do. The key is staying in constant personal communication with Him as we study the Map and as we travel through the day.
Lord God, creator of the heavens and the earth, why do we have such a hard time following directions or believing that Your directions are best for us? Forgive us. You just want to love us from point A to point B. You're our Instructor, our Counselor and You're qualified because You're All-Knowing God. Forgive us when we think our lives are "too complicated" for You to unravel. Breathe in us and calm us when we panic at intersections. Whisper to us which way to turn and give us the wisdom to stop, look, listen, and turn around when necessary to head in the right direction. In addition to all this, help us stop asking "Are we there yet?" and learn to love the adventures and miracles You plant along our route.  Keep us alert and don't let us miss one. 

In the name of Jesus, the Way and the Holy Spirit, our Counselor!

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - Coyotes, Tornadoes, and Shopping Deer

     There's a coyote loose in our neighborhood. We live two minutes from Kroger, three from WalMart and four from Nick's school. What coyote is fearless enough to roam streets covered in cars and lined with homes? People warn us to keep the cats and dog in at night.
      Sunday was our first experience with a Tornado warning in Arkansas and the people who went to church early that afternoon spent some time in the basement. 
     Yesterday a deer streaked through WalMart from Lawn and Garden all the way to the deli counter where he leaped over the display of meats and cheeses to find himself cornered next to a meat slicer. 
     Coyotes, tornadoes and shopping deer are new for the Nolands and we need to listen to those who know how to deal with emergencies like these. On the Gulf Coast we learned how to avoid sharks, hurricanes and mosquitoes, but staying out of the water at dawn and dusk and getting out of town when a hurricane reaches level three won't work for coyotes, tornadoes or deer with cravings for some fresh Colby. 
     Jesus called us sheep who need a Shepherd and branches who need a Vine. Sheep and branches. Dependent followers. Helpless and vulnerable on our own. Dead in the mouth of a predator or dried up on the ground without Christ to fill and lead us. We end up charging into meat slicers when we insist on acting independently from the One who knows how to deal with the day ahead. 
     It's past time to cling to the Shepherd. It's time to anchor ourselves into God's Word and let Him mature us for the new ways He'll lead us. If we persevere in "being still" in His Presence, allowing His Spirit to soothe us and His Love to change us, we'll bear much fruit. If we insist on living the rest of our lives independently, based on what we already know or on what worked before now, we'll fail and it's not a pretty picture. Besides, God is more creative than that.  
     Wear your camouflage, pack your binoculars, take a notepad and drive out to any vineyard to spy on the branches. Stay a while and keep a sharp eye out. Make a note of any rogue branches detaching themselves from the vine and flopping around looking for  ways to speed up the process or searching for fruit to attach to themselves. They're doing it wrong. 

Sovereign Lord God, You're the Power Source - help us stay plugged in. We wonder why we burn out, but it's obvious we're doing it wrong. Speak to our hearts and keep us from charging ignorantly into this day without Your direction. Strengthen us to persevere in remaining close to You. You know best and You know ahead and You care enough to prepare us. Bless Your Holy Name for loving us and for being and supplying everything we need. Use us however You choose today. Mature us and take us to the next level toward completion. We love You and we trust You. 

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in Him, He will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

"Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:4

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010 - Part of the Furniture

     We can learn a lot about what our perspective on God should be from the people of Israel. At first they'd been in Egypt so long they'd forgotten Him. Then Moses and Aaron came along and reminded them of the Great I AM and they suffered at the hands of Pharaoh. They didn't know God personally so He wasn't worth the suffering to them. They begged Moses to leave them alone in their slavery, but God knew better. Then, they were thrilled to be free and follow the cloud of God's Presence until they came to the edge of the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh's army gaining on them. Again, they wished for the "safety" of slavery. Once delivered, they rejoiced and praised God - until they realized they had to face "giants" to be where God wanted them. Again, they longed for the security of what they knew in the form of slavery. Hunger, thirst, fear - all tempted them to want to return to lives without God. 
     At Mount Sinai they saw and heard God's thundering power and became frightened of Him. From that point they insisted Moses take care of all communication with the Almighty. They distanced themselves from Him in "reverent respect" and heard from Him second hand. Finally, they relegated Him to the Ark of the Covenant and literally put Him in a box which became an important part of the furniture in the tabernacle.  
    Fast forward 40 years to a new generation of people who had never known slavery, were sick of the desert, and who were hungry to move forward in faith. They freed God from their mental boxes and stretched their faith to the point some may have thought them ridiculous (silent marching and trumpet blasts? really?) God became their Champion and the walls fell down.
    Where am I in this cycle? Do I long for the safety of habit, ritual, and mind-numbing busyness? Am I limiting myself to learning second hand from those who are willing to sit with God one-on-One? Or, am I hungry to move forward in faith and follow Him to and through faith-stretching experiences?  He's with me and I don't want Almighty God's Presence in my life to become part of the furniture. 

Father, free Yourself in my life today. Free Your Spirit to move in new ways, or show me how to enjoy life abundantly in the everydayness of this day. You're with me always, but I don't want You to reside faintly in the background of my life. I don't want to be lukewarm.  I want You front and center. Jesus died to tear the veil between You and us - don't let me hang new curtains between us. Flow through my mind like a refreshing stream. Forgive me when I try to enclose You in pretty boxes called "quiet time," "Bible study," or "church." Your Presence is all-pervasive and I praise You for the Living God You are. Have Thine Own Way!
     "Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. 
      Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. 
      Break me. 
      Melt me. 
      Mold me. 
      Fill me. 
      Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me."
In the name of Jesus, God in human form, God with us, God of our salvation! 

"'She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel' --which means, 'God with us'" Matthew 1:21, 23

"'You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence.'"Acts 2:28

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010 - Caught napping

     It's a shame we hear Psalm 23 mostly at funerals and somehow relate lying down in green pastures with being buried in a graveyard. No wonder many believers are rest-a-phobics! We're afraid to lie down for fear someone will toss a shovel-full of dirt on us.
      I once heard that more women than men go to church because it's the only place a gal can sit for a couple of hours and not feel guilty. Today's "Jesus Calling" devotional rebukes the twisted thinking that we can't meet our basic need for rest without feeling guilty. Admit it: If someone catches you sitting, napping or enjoying a day to yourself, don't you feel the need to explain how hard you've been working? Many of us won't even rest as we should when we're sick or recovering from surgery, so following God's plan to rest as a proactive step in our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being is simply foreign to us. Below is an excerpt from the self-pronounced atheist and Tour de France king Lance Armstrong's website
"One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of any exercise or training program is the recovery phase, or time spent resting. It is all too common a thought that rest time is a period of doing no work, and while you are not actually doing any physical work, physiologically your body is seizing the opportunity to repair itself to become stronger in preparation for the next exercise stress placed upon it. It is during rest that the body becomes stronger."
(Read more:

     Albert Einstein kept a cot in his office and when a problem stumped him (imagine the problem that stumped Einstein!) he would take a nap and wake up with the solution. Doesn't it tickle you pink when the worlds of medicine, science, and psychology agree that God knew what He was talking about in His Word?   
     We're in training and part of our discipline is to learn to rest and allow God to restore our souls. He "blessed the sabbath day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating He had done." God set the example and found a stopping place. What kind of witness to God's sovereignty and peace are we if we work nonstop, as if there is no Good Shepherd guiding and guarding us?  Take a nap, for His name's sake, take a nap. 
Father, forgive us for the pride that leads us to work like fools, as if everything depends on us. You are our sweet, loving Shepherd and we can rest in Your sight because You're looking out for us and call us to rest. Help us take care of ourselves by planning times to rest so that when You're ready to assign us a new mission, we're restored and ready. Teach us to praise You rather than spending our precious energy speculating and planning for every possibility. Teach us to relish the peace You came to give us so others will be drawn to the God of Peace. 
In the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace 

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3

"By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done." Genesis 2:2-3

(prophesied about John the Baptist's ministry)  
"to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:79

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010 - "Even As"

A friend gave me a little plaque that says "Be still and know that I am God." It sits above my "coffee station" where I see it first thing every morning. Since it's Saturday I took my coffee onto the back porch for some extended "still" time in the pre-dawn cool. The backyard birds woke up on the right side of their nests and sang their hearts out. A fresh morning breeze rattled the leaves enough to shake a few loose. God was waiting for me and we enjoyed sitting and being together, like good friends do sometimes. 
   After being still in His presence for a while He spoke to me in a fresh way through the familiar verse below: "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." John 17:23                                  
   How is it possible for God to love me "even as" He loves Jesus, His perfect child? Jesus is selfless; I'm bratty. Jesus followed God's will for Him every step of the way to the cross and through the tomb; I run amuck on simple days. Jesus loved everyone; I don't even love myself some days. I've accepted that God loves all of us sin-ridden humans the same: pharisees and publicans, Jews and Gentiles, saved and lost, yet, Jesus prayed we would wake up to the fact that God Almighty loves us "even as" He loves His only begotten, uniquely perfect Son. I'm humbled through the floor by Jesus' confirmation that the God of the universe submits to His own law to love others as we love ourselves. 
    Could we be divided over petty issues and opinions because we haven't accepted the depth, breadth, height, and length of our Father's love for us? These verses indicate that realizing and accepting He loves us "even as" He loves Himself leads to inner peace and unity between believers. I pray you feel the Love today.
Amazing and radical God, You love me and I'm blessed by that knowledge. You love me and if that isn't enough, You love me as You love Yourself. You love us because You are Love - unconditional, unstoppable, unprecedented Love. Your love isn't syrupy or shallow - it's penetrating and life-transforming. As uncomfortable as we may feel about accepting Your tidal wave of Love, help us be still and let Your "even as" Love wash over and through us. Open our hearts and minds to let Your Love seep in between all the rocks in our hearts until it transforms us into peacemakers and peacekeepers in Your family.

In the name of Jesus, the only begotten First Child of Love

    "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in Me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me."  John 17:20-23
    "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010 - I'm an idiot

I'm re-reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Living by Georgene Lockwood because sometimes I'm an idiot who complicates my own life and then wonders why I'm stressed and lacking joy. The book contains plenty of the practical advice and suggestions I expect to find in such a book: use what you have; borrow instead of buying; enjoy free and/or inexpensive entertainment and recreational opportunities; work toward being debt-free; downsize; de-clutter for efficiency, and so forth. But Lockwood surprised me with the extensive chapter on simplifying relationships since they cause a great deal of  joy-stealing stress. 
   In the chapter, Lockwood revisits the vaguely familiar idea that we can't have positive loving relationships with others if we don't first love ourselves. Her top two suggestions for loving yourself? 1) Take care of yourself physically by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy food, and exercising in the fresh air;  2) Take time each day "to read something uplifting, pray, meditate, worship - whatever you do to connect with your inner self and the universe within or beyond." (p. 169)  Yes, her phrasing and words smack of the New Age philosophy of "whatever works for you" but don't you find it interesting that readers of this secular book are encouraged to reach above themselves to take care of themselves? Isn't her prescription for living a life of simple joys a generic version of God's original prescription for Adam and Eve to walk in the garden with Him daily? It's fascinating to find this fundamental Christian discipline supported in a book for idiots as if everyone understands that our welfare and the welfare of those we love depends on fulfilling our basic relationship of communing with and worshiping God. Our Great Physician knows what makes us tick. We don't need a second opinion - even if we're idiots sometimes. 

Lord, forgive us when we don't follow Your loving orders to take care of ourselves by spending time with the One who loves us most.  We need You first and foremost. We can't do anything of spiritual value apart from You and yet, like idiots, we keep trying. Sweet Father, be patient with us and help us answer Your call to walk with You in the path You've laid out for us today. Don't let us waste a minute stressing over things that don't matter or trying to make perpetually unhappy people happy. Guard us from our own tendencies to take on too much and increase our faith as we turn difficult situations and people over to You. You've spread joy through this day if we'll stop and enjoy Your Presence. Rehabilitate us from thinking we can live any kind of meaningful life and ignore Your commands to love You, love ourselves and love others as we love ourselves.

"Surely You have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence." Psalm 21:6

"and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure." Proverbs 2:4

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - Any volunteers?

Some choir members and I were remembering ways parents once "humbled" their kids who misbehaved in church services. First came the warnings: the raised eyebrow, the withering look, the clearing of the throat, the knee squeeze or rib poke, and the dreaded "Just wait til we get home." Or, if the culprit wasn't sitting with the family, there might be the eerie index finger that said "YOU, stand-up-and-walk-over-here-and sit-by-me. YES,-in-front-of-the-whole-congregation-they've-been-looking-at-you-anyway." Any of these warnings often served as a prelude to a quick and noisy walk down the aisle and out the door, with a few prayer requests going up for the child in tow. Woe, woe, woe!

A pastor long ago told our youth, "If you humble yourself God doesn't have to do it, but if you keep rebelling in sin and pride, He finds unpleasant and unforgettable ways to remind you Who's in charge and who's not."  Shudder! Praise God, His Holy Spirit serves as an early-warning system which can make humbling ourselves a do-it-yourself project. King David and the disciple Peter, both graduates of God's lessons in how He humbles the proud, provided directions in Psalm 139:23-24 and 1 Peter 5:6 (below). When we volunteer to open up before God and let Him reveal areas of pride, rebellion, and apathy then He uses His mighty hand to lift us up and help us not to fall. But, when we let sin, self and pride build up inside, He uses that same mighty hand to smack us back to the reality of His sovereignty in some creative and memorable ways. My hand is up! I volunteer to do-it-myself! 

Father, You're good, kind and loving. You'll keep us from making fools of ourselves if we'll cooperate with You. Help us heed the warnings! Keep us sensitive to Your Voice and Your Heartbeat. May we recognize and confess immediately when sin enters our minds, our hearts, our habits. Search us and test us. Help us let go of worry and anxiety which are the enemies of faith. Help us use the spiritual crowbar of true repentance to pry out anything You find offensive in our lives. Everything we are and have we owe to You. Take it all and teach us just how satisfying You are.

In the name of Jesus the Humble Servant of His Father who called Himself the Son of Man

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - Aunt Robin

I've asked the children and young people of FBC Benton to call me Aunt Robin even though I don't expect them understand what it would mean to me. But, maybe you'll understand when I tell you about Aunt Reba. A sassy little lady introduced herself to our family as Aunt Reba (she said "ain't" which somehow sounded classy coming from her) when Tom was called to Central Baptist Church in Springhill, Louisiana. We met this wonderful lady when she was in her seventies and I can't imagine anyone with a younger spirit. She had an easy laugh and twinkling eyes that exuded God's Love and power. She was tiny in stature but a giant in faith and prayer. When you asked how she was doing she quoted her favorite Bible verse: "This is the day the Lord has made; Let us be glad and rejoice in it!" (Psalm 118:24) She loved everybody with ready hugs, encouraging words, nourishing food, and constant prayer. She loved people to Jesus, back to Jesus and closer to Jesus. Her prayers were intertwined inseparably with God's purpose and will, making her a rare prayer warrior. God embraced not only His church, but the community through this vivacious witness and His Light seemed to shine more brightly in her with each passing year. 

So, my hope is to hear in each "Aunt Robin" a personal reminder of how I saw God's love in action through Aunt Reba. I don't expect to live up to her legacy and I wouldn't want to give up the individuality God has given me, but I do want to let God's Light shine more brightly through me with each passing day. I want to be a rare prayer warrior and, like Aunt Reba, I want to love people to Jesus, back to Jesus and closer to Jesus. 

Father, I thank you for all the "Aunt Rebas" in the world who take Your call to love people seriously and who seriously want people to come to Jesus. Thank You for those who struggle in intercessory prayer. Thank You for calling us to love one another because we can only do that by first accepting Your Love for us. What a thought! Your Love pouring through us - energizing us to love one another. May this day be a day when we get out of the way and let You shine.

In the name of Jesus who loved people to Himself

"We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone  perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - A "Good" Facade

Based on “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

My friend June took me to Italy with her last March and while we were there we saw a cathedral  or two (on every street and one or two with streets of their own).  Some of these fascinating buildings were fronted with incredibly ornate “facades” of stone or brick when the rest of the building was stucco or wood. Builders in the States use this concept by using more expensive stone or brick fronts with a less expensive type of exterior on the sides and back. Architecturally and economically speaking, facades are fine. Spiritually speaking, there’s no such thing as “a good facade.”

God calls us to be the same from the center of our beings to the expressions on our faces. While it may seem easier to put up a facade in public and take off the mask in private, it’s an exhausting way to live and someone will eventually knock on our back doors. I know of what I speak: I’ve had to buck up and make myself “do” things as a minister’s wife when three-fourths of me  wanted to stay home and wallow in self-pity, anger or pure rebellion.

Why do we put up facades? Obviously we’re hiding something. Some people put up word facades, talking the Christian talk but never intending to apply it to their lives outside of church. Others put up facades of silence and distance to keep people from learning  their weaknesses. My least favorite facade is the saccharine sweet facade that oozes an ooey-gooey substitute for love which ends up being a thin covering for bitterness, pettiness or meanness.

How do we break the habit of putting up “a good facade?” We break down the facade as if it were physical. We start by removing all masks and stained glass praying. We take down the bricks of defensiveness and excuses about our resistance to grow spiritually. We practice relaxing and being authentic with the Lord who knows all of it anyway. We get in the habit of being ourselves with Him first and learning to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We open ourselves to let Him fill our temples with all the beauty of His Spirit.  We focus on who He is and invite Him to transform us into places He feels perfectly at home until we don't even notice when people knock at the back door. 

Dear Father, Thank You for letting me be myself in Your Presence. I know we have tons to work on but what peace and sweet relief to know there's nothing I can tell You that You haven't heard before. You accept me in all the weakness and sin of any given moment yet You keep Your eye on what You're making me to be. Help me cooperate fully. Strengthen me to remove any remaining masks or pretensions. I want to live a life of integrity, one I can fully share with other growing, imperfect, incomplete temples. May You be our Cornerstone and our heart's hearth.

“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”  1 John 1:5-7

“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’” Philippians 4:8-9

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010 - Obstacle Course

“You can’t get there from here,” describes the challenge of getting from our carport to the office in the back of the house at the moment. In this obstacle course you must first survive the treacherous “Dodge-Box” Challenge before you can attempt the “Miss-the-Step-Or-Stump-Your-Toe” stage. The next leg of the course separates the pros from the amateurs: “The Water Hazard” appears to be a clear path through the kitchen but beware! Previous contestants have kicked the dog’s water bowl and you'll more than likely find yourself hydroplaning across a wet patch or two through the living room door. If you’re still on your feet after the “Water Hazard” you should feel confident negotiating the daunting double “Hairpin Turn” in the hallway. Seconds tick by as you recover your equilibrium and regain focus to face the “Forest of the Lost Wardrobes,” where people have fallen into tall boxes in search of a belt only to be found hours later in someone else's clothes. The “Obstacle Course through Noland Land” is not for the fainthearted. The fact is you can get there from here, but — it’s complicated.

Life is complicated when we forget our destination or become discouraged by hurdles in the road between us and where we want to be spiritually. The simple fact that today is Monday is an obstacle to many people’s joy and peace of mind. When we focus on “Rainy Days and Mondays” we pull our own spiritual fervor down and become an obstacle for others as well. Recalculate: Let’s call it Tuesday Eve and focus on God’s Presence. That’s the secret of spiritual success, according to “Jesus Calling” today: focusing on the Good Shepherd Who’s leading us rather than on the obstacles through which He’s leading us. David survived the “Cave-Hop” because he kept his heart stayed trustingly on God and the disciple Peter would have survived his “Water Hazard” if he had maintained focus and faith in the One he followed.  

Sovereign Lord, You already know the obstacles, real and imagined, we face today. Each of us will set out with a destination in mind, maybe to imitate You in a dark world or to share Your love with someone unlovable. Help us keep our eyes on You and forget the difficulties and challenges. Put a song in our hearts on this Tuesday Eve as we follow Your lead. Help us remember that how we maneuver  the journey itself is crucial to a safe arrival. And, most of all, thank You for going through today’s course with us rather than sending us out alone. It’s always better to follow Someone who knows the ropes.  

“I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me – just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

“The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, You make the way of the righteous smooth.” Isaiah 26:7

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010 - Hindsight is 20/20

In spite of the fact that my “hindsight is 20/20," my “foresight” needs work. One box I unpacked yesterday contained straws (free with any size drink at every fast food location across the nation) and used water bottle caps (like the ones on the complete set of water bottles cooling in the fridge right now). Hindsight says, “You could have saved yourself the time and trouble now by throwing these things out before you moved.” Poor foresight says, “Deal with it later” or worries, “What if the State of Arkansas has a shortage on used bottle tops or colorful straws?”  My lack of foresight seemed like a short cut at the moment but caused extra work yesterday.

Worrying about the future may seem like a shortcut as well, but it only adds “work” in the long run. When I worry about what might or could happen, I switch to tunnel vision and expend a lot of energy on negative imagery. Sarah Young starts today’s devotional with: “Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without Me.” Isn’t that the truth? We look back and see God in every detail, but when we look forward we see ourselves floundering and failing in the worst possible scenarios. How can we open our eyes to include God in the pcture? 

Sarah offers two simple rules: 1) Don’t linger in the future where anxieties wait to pounce from behind every shadow, and 2) If you must think about the future, picture God with you, working with and for you on whatever you’re worrying about, just as He has before. The discipline comes in spending much time with Him today so we’re relaxed and confident He’ll be there tomorrow supplying all the bottle tops and straws we could ever need.  

Sweet Sovereign Lord, I don’t mind being blind about the future as long as my hand is in Yours. Forgive me when I omit Your Presence from the picture.  I deserve whatever horror scenes my imagination invents when I leave You, my God and my Savior, out of my future. You’re teaching me to claim the promise of Your Presence each day. Guide me to that beautiful skill of weaving trusting You and planning with foresight. Thank You for providing now and then.  

“Then Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’’  Luke 12:22-26

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010 - Welcome Home

Saturday, October 16, 2010 - Welcome Home

Someone wanted us to feel the comforts of home.  “Welcome Home” mums greeted us at both the front and the back doors. Fresh paint and other evidence of hard work and preparations waited  throughout the house. The yard and exterior are even cleaner and more charming than I remember. The best lasagna we’ve ever eaten arrived in the hands of a smiling face. A friend arrived, assessed the needs, ran to the store and returned to help unpack boxes. She also recognized when it was time to find the dishes and get dinner on the table. It’s obvious these people know what  it’s like to feel a little overwhelmed with moving into a new area, a new home. They know what comforts and truly helps.

Someone Else welcomed me home, as well. I stepped  through my new back door this morning and heard God’s comfort in the sound of a train in the distance. I saw His Presence in clear stars hanging low over the gazebo. Home. God knew exactly what would feel like home. Even the cats have found their niches and hiding places. He’s here, speaking the strength and comfort of His amazing Presence. Yes, He’s using His children to make us feel at home, but He’s also got me wrapped tightly in His own, loving Arms. Welcome home.

Father, you welcome us into Your Presence and Your Will as if it’s Thanksgiving Day and You’ve prepared a feast. All my favorites wait on the table. Your Presence warms and fills the air. I’m drowsy with Your Love and Comfort. I feel deep sadness for people who worship other game-playing, sly gods who make impossible demands when You, Father, long to draw them to Your table as Your children. Thank You for the comforts of home, of new friends who feel like old friends. Thank You for Your overwhelming and near-tangible Presence in this home. You are great. You are good. It's good to be home with You wherever we are.

“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5

“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord  Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010 - On the Road

A friend of mine told me she's so desperate to get away from it all that she's considering checking into a nearby monastery where they allow non-residents to take a break from the world. Sounds peaceful and purposeful.

I will be traveling for eight to nine hours in an enclosed cubicle with me, myself, and I, Little Mack and the Good Lord. I'm surrounded by witnesses: Behind me, one world filled with people I love who'll continue fighting the good fight. Before me, another world of people mid-stride in their race to the prize God has set before us. And then, there's me, moving along at a steady pace from one world to another to join a new group of soldiers and receive a new assignment. Today will be a gift of time in a little room, a garden, a cave, a monastery cell - with God alone. He has promised me in today's  "Jesus Calling" devotional that I have the promise of His protective Presence. His finger will be on the top of my little car, scooting it down the road like a Matchbox car. I'll have nine hours to listen, to be still, to pour out praise and to absorb all He has to give me. Say a prayer for Little Mack.

Father, Thank You for the beauty of Your Presence and for the amazing detail in Your timing. No one could guess the blessings You've brought from this unexpected "miscalculation" of time that left me behind for a while. Your Presence is sweet and delightful. Help me take full advantage today and teach me to stay focused on You and Your path for me.

In the name of Jesus, the One who knew best how it feels to be caught between two worlds

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eye 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." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - Sacred Space

(Based on "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young)
In the movie (Yes, I realize I mentioned a movie yesterday, too, but what can I say? We love movies!) "Seventh Heaven" Chico and Diane live up seven flights of stairs in a tumbledown building in Paris. Chico is called to war only moments after their wedding and the two must separate. As they part, Chico makes a vow to stop whatever he's doing at 11:00 each morning  to "come to Diane" from wherever he is. This single moment in the day, when they think only of each other, sustains them through four years of war and separation. Romance at its finest!

Our God doesn't leave us, even to help fight other noble causes for a greater number of people. He's everywhere at once and can come to more than 7 billion people simultaneously. God doesn't just think about us but acts in our interests. He reveals Himself to us personally in new ways every day. He shines His loving Presence into the cold and lukewarm places we've hidden even from ourselves. Our God died to bring us a Peace nothing can touch IF we'll take the time to be still and know Him as God. Maybe, if He had to go away for a while, nothing would keep us from that sacred space of being still and knowing Him today.   

Father-God, I don't want to take Your generosity and availability for granted. Whisper constant reminders of Your Presence and Your calling for me to "be still and know" You. Thank You that I don't have to go to a certain place at a certain time to meet with You, but increase my willingness to drop everything at any time to sit before You. Awesome God, I praise You for the sacred space within me where You live and breathe. Help me polish the treasure of untouchable Peace You've given me as I learn to worry less about what's changing - or not changing - around me.

In the name of Jesus, the Sacred Space where humans and God come face to Face

"Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God!" Psalm 46:10 The Message

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 NAS

"Be still and know that I am God," Psalm 46:10 RSV & NIV

"The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace." Numbers 6:25-26 NAS

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 Batman and -- Robin?

One of our favorite family movies is "Batman Begins" which explains how Bruce Wayne became the Batman. A recurring theme starts when young Bruce falls into a well and breaks his leg. While lying in the bottom of the well, he's attacked by droves of bats which haunt him throughout his adolescence. His father asks him "Why do we fall down?" and the answer is "So we can learn to get back up." Tough lesson. 

It's ironic that a secular action-movie acknowledges a purpose for life's tumbles when so many believers (me included) still struggle with why God allows troubles, mishaps, testing, inconveniences, packed toilet paper, late schedules, disappointments, illness, and so forth. In our minds we often equate all green lights and a parking space close to the door as indications that we're in God's will. I do believe God allows gift-filled, easy days I call "serendipities," meaning I enjoy them when they come but they shouldn't be the foundation of my faith. I see Him kneading us into more substantial people through the days when nothing goes ouor way. He asks us to trust Him every moment, all through the tumbles of this day and as we regain our balance in Him. 

Lord, why do we fall down? So we can discover how quickly You come when we call; so we feel Your strength taking over when we let go; so we can learn to steadfastly trust You regardless of whether we find three bills in the mail or an unexpected check; so we can help others who fall down the same holes we do; so we can build our faith muscles as we realize You're greater than anything we fear happening to us. 

In the name of Jesus whose mind stayed steadfastly on You in the garden, on the cross, and as He returned to Your arms!

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3 KJV

"You will keep in perfect peace
       him whose mind is steadfast,
       because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3  NIV

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010 Who packed the bathroom tissue?

Based on "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

The house is about eighty-five percent empty now. One room still stands fairly full but other than that, we have the beds, two blankets, a dog, two cats, and some odds and ends. An echo arrived over the weekend. We're finding out what we can do without, and what we can't. Somebody packed the bathroom tissue early on. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time? Or, maybe it just demonstrated an extreme optimism that we'd be out of the house before anyone else had to go. Or, maybe it's a moving company joke.

As for each of us, we've considered different things as essential to have at hand in all the upheaval. Tom's doing his best to keep up with cell phones and keep them charged. That's a challenge with things disappearing left and right. I wanted to keep the computer up and running as long as possible and the bills together, organized and accessible. All Nick cares about is his ipod - his link to the outside world and a thoroughly entertaining little device. The pets just want to know there will be food in the dishes when they're hungry. We're simple people and pets.

The line in today's "Jesus Calling" devotional that stood out to me is "The one thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose: My Presence with you." I started thinking back over all the times God has proved this to me and these examples came to mind. When: 
   I was shaking in fear in my bed at night as a child with an over-active imagination; 
   I felt like an alien as a middle-schooler; 
   I failed friends and my family;
   I thought I had to have a boyfriend in college; 
   I served as a summer missionary in New England;
   I accepted God's call to serve Him all my life;
   Tom and I moved to New Orleans to go to seminary as newlyweds;
   When I had to learn to make my own decisions;
   Counseling and leading youth;
   We moved to our first full-time church;
   I went through extreme post-partum depression;
   We left Red Bay;
   I spent a year at home alone for the first time again with Julie in kindergarten                  and Tom excited and busy about his new ministry in Springhill, LA.
   God called me to teach in the public school system;
   Daily, as the students at the school were hungry for love, understanding, and attention;
   During each solo;
   We became Nick's parents at a "mature" age;
   We're called to comfort others;
   We lost our grandparents;
   Julie married Nick;
   Christians don't act Christ-like;
   I don't act Christ-like and need forgiveness;
   we see our time in Daphne drawing to a close, Nick is sick, I'm not doing so great, and we need answers about how and when to get from point A to point B.

Sovereign Lord, You've fulfilled and You're in the process of fulfilling every need. You're the "all of the above" answer on life's test. In You alone, God, I find rest, hope, salvation, and a sure refuge. You're my Rock who pours out every blessing I need as I pour out every need to You and trust You to meet them.  Awesome God! Amazing Grace!  Father, You're everything, our all in all. You're solid - no loopholes, no weak spots, no leaks, no wear and tear, no vulnerabilities. Lead me to live trusting You and praising You for Your constant Presence. May others see and know that all I need is You, but first, help me believe and live that truth from the depths of my heart. 

In the name of Jesus the Solid Rock on whom we stand because all other ground is sinking sand!

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

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."Revelation 1:8

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17