Sunday, October 18, 2020

Principle for a Good Life


I think I was a little spoiled as I was growing up.
Mom sewed for me and made things fit beautifully. She even sewed my wedding dress while I was attending college in another state.

A few days before the wedding, mom arrived with the dress, prepared to let it out or take it in. I took it all for granted.

During my growing years, if the dress was too short or the bodice too tight . . . no worries. Mom would let down the hem, or let out the bodice.

Emotionally we do things like that on a daily basis. We make allowances for things that bother us and keep us on edge. We let them remain in our minds and they give us no peace.

People look for personal peace in different ways. Some try to "let" it into their lives through alcohol or drugs---short-term solutions. Even TV becomes boring after hours and hours, too much sleep is not refreshing, and neither is constant snacking.

All of these things miss the principle for a good life.
Long-lasting peace does not come from things. It comes from a person who understands everything about us and the world we live in.

Let's hear it from Jesus, himself: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27 NKJV).

In John 14:1 He said it again: Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 

If you are worried that He won't hear your prayer for peace, consider His words in John 6:37: The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

If that's not encouraging, what is?

Our world has always been full of troubles. Jesus' peace comes on an individual basis. Do you want it?

Step one: Do not let your heart be troubled any longer. Step two: Ask Jesus to give you peace, the kind that only He can give.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Daniel, The Lion Tamer


A few weeks ago, our pastor preached on “Jesus at the Watering Hole.”
When I realized it was about Jesus talking with a woman at Samaria’s city well, I had to smile. The off-beat title got my attention.

That’s why I decided to write about “Daniel, The Lion Tamer.”

As a young man Daniel was a captive carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon. He and other promising young men were put into a top-notch training school. Graduates were presented to King Nebuchadnezzar for private interviews. He would decide how they could best serve him.

As a graduate in service of the King, Daniel was known to go to his room and pray toward Jerusalem three times a day (Daniel 6:10).

Later on, the Persians overcame Babylon. Daniel rose to the top in service to King Darius, and jealous peers concocted a scheme to pull him down.

Their plan worked. Daniel was tossed into the lion’s den, but God sent an angel to shut the lion’s mouths. It’s a great story. Read it for yourself in Daniel, chapter six. The power of prayer cannot be discounted.

Prayer is never out of season, but people seem more drawn to prayer in hard times. Today we hear much about the call to prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

God said He would hear prayers and have mercy if His people would do three things: 1) humble themselves before Him, (2) pray and seek His face, and (3) turn from their wicked ways.  

Daniel said a prayer like that for his people.
Read it for yourself in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, chapter nine.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the weapons of our (spiritual) warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty (2 Corinthians 10:4).

James, another apostle, declared we show our faith by our works (James 2:17-18). Each of these men would have found in Daniel a fellow believer.

Today’s threats are not lions, but prayer still makes a difference.

Are you a person of faith? How do you show it? 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

A Matter of Will


We are born with the ability to choose.
It's a matter of will.

Proverbs 20:11 says, "Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right." This is true of adults, as well as children. 

Of course, deeds are not always pure and right. In spite of negatives, I think our will is an ability worth celebrating. That's why I wrote the following:

Dear Will,

It's a pleasure to write this letter. I appreciate having you in my life.

Thank to you, I can make thoughtful decisions. You make it possible for me to choose what to do, where to go, and what to say.

I appreciate the freedom you give me. You wait patiently as I review information and search things out. You always desire that I make a good choice.

I'm captain of my own ship, in many ways, because of you. Storms of life may cause me grief and troubled times, but I don't have to bob along on unsettled waves. I can decide which life-saving actions to pursue.

Experience has shown me that you can be quite flexible.

If I need strength and boldness, you rise to the occasion and people call me "strong-willed." If I shrink back, letting circumstances and others' choices control me, I get labeled "weak-willed." Either way, you stick with me.

Others may threaten to affect my life in uncomfortable ways, trying to pressure me to do their will. You respect me by waiting in the background. Then when I've made my decision, you help me follow through.

Thank you for being a companion, not a dictator. When wrong choices cause discomfort, you remain loyal, hoping I will see the error of my ways.

I thank God for you, Will.

Not only have you helped make me who I am today, but you will continue to impact my life right to the end. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Balance of Three


If you believe in prayer, you've probably heard a lot about it lately
. I've been familiar with the National Day of Prayer for years, but this year held something new.

Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger, written after 9-11, has a current book called The Harbinger, Two. Along with the book, he organized a National Day of Prayer called The Return

Today was the day: September 26, 2020. Not everyone could get to Washington, DC, of course, so people were encouraged to sponsor community-wide events in their own areas.

A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to our local event. I wrote it on the calendar and determined to go.

I heard there would be several speakers
and I wondered how there could be much prayer? I was pleasantly surprised. Meaningful prayers were offered by each speaker as they closed out their personal story, or their involvement with some social concern.

We had been encouraged from the start that this was not a spectator event. We were asked to join in a personal prayer of agreement with each speaker.

Some people stood, some sat, some knelt on the grass. There was no pressure to pray in a certain position, or even to pray out loud.

This event was based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. It's a direct call to people who call themselves Christians. I see it in three parts:

          1. Humble yourself before God
          2. Pray and seek His face
          3. Turn from your wicked ways
My concern is that we will do the first two, but skip the third. That's where it gets quite personal.

After 9-11 there was great interest in spiritual things. Churches were full overnight, but looking at society's issues and actions today, there was obviously a lack of deep, lasting spiritual commitment.

Thank God for every person with a heart to pray; however, two things are needed: (1) Don't limit this prayer to one day events, and (2) observe the balance of three.   


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Good Medicine


The right medicine can do you a lot of good, and some really good medicine is

free. There's a catch, though . . . you have to look for it. 

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine." You could take that a couple of ways:  (1) Instead of floating through your day with negative thoughts, make it a point to think positive, or (2) be on the lookout for humorous events and conversations around you.

A cheerful heart is very individualized medicine. I learned to look for it on a daily basis while undergoing chemo, surgery and radiation for breast cancer in 2007. I found this medicine so enjoyable that I kept on taking it.

People are always happy to get free medicine samples from their doctor. Here are some samples of my own:

    (1) I shared this one with a friend just the other day. I was once taking sermon notes when I heard the pastor say, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord---even if it's bad breath!" He was quoting the very last verse in the book of Psalms, but every time I remember his tag line I have to smile.


(2) In a thrift store one day I was musing over some colorful floral-motif plates. Without thinking I said aloud, "I wonder if my husband would eat off these?" A lady nearby said, "It probably depends on what you put on 'em!"

    (3) A friend shared this one: She overheard her grandson call a playmate "Stupid!" She called him in and said, "You can't call somebody stupid. It's not nice." He said, "I'm sorry, Memaw," and went back outside to play. He surprised her by rushing back in a little while later asking, "But what if they really are?"

You don't always need a full-strength, laugh-out-loud belly buster.
Good m
edicine works in smaller doses, too. Just follow these instructions: To be taken multiple times daily, with or without food.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Your Future is Now


Life is full of changes.
We have just come through a hot summer. Now, almost overnight, it's time for the heater, not air conditioning.

There are other obvious changes. I was telling a friend about a couple of restaurants that had removed all their tables and chairs. Business seemed robust with their take-out options.

I said, "I wonder if they'll ever bring back their seating? I would think their life is simpler without it."

She said, "I think the face of our nation is forever changed." And it's not just us; COVID-19 has changed the world.

I enjoy the devotional thoughts of Sarah Young.
Here's a few comments from her book, *Jesus Calling. The caps are mine for emphasis:  So many people dream of the day WHEN they will finally be happy, WHEN they are out of debt, WHEN their children are out of trouble, WHEN they will have more leisure time, and so on."

Dreams and plans are a positive part of our human experience, but there's a major problem. We are not in control of our lives nor those of the people around us.  

No truthful person would ever say life is easy, but we need to live life in the NOW. It's a choice we can make.

The Apostle Paul explained his approach in Philippians 4:11: . . . I have LEARNED how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am (AMP).

People willing to learn are flexible.

Go ahead . . . dream and plan. But realize your future is now, and learn to enjoy life today!

*Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2004, p. 266.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

More Fruit, Please


Life without fruit would be rather bland
. I'd miss the apple crunch in my Waldorf salad and a ripened banana in my icy smoothie.

Fruit satisfies a need even when it stands alone. Who hasn't heard the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away?" At least it's a healthy choice.

I'm a little prejudiced about strawberries and grapes.
That's only because I got to eat so many of them when I lived in central California. But I also enjoy fruit from places I have never seen.

Nutritionists remind us that fruit is important for our physical health. But certain kinds of fruit are important to our spiritual lives, as well.

This spiritual fruit is listed in Galatians 5:13-26.

Fruit produced by a sinful nature requires laws to keep it under control. On the other hand, the fruit of God's Spirit has no laws against it.

This Fruit of the Spirit, or character traits, is available to all believers. Produced anywhere in the world, it would have the same result.

I like the explanation of this fruit in today's *Message Bible. See what you think:
            Love - affection for others
            Joy - exuberance about life
            Peace - serenity
            Longsuffering - a willingness to stick with things
            Kindness - a sense of compassion in the heart
            Goodness - conviction that a basic holiness permeates things & people
            Faithfulness - being involved in loyal commitments
            Gentleness - not needing to force our way in life
            Self-control - able to marshal and direct our energies wisely

It's not hard to see why this Fruit of the Spirit has real value.

An old song says, "They will know we are Christians by our love," but why be satisfied with one fruit out of nine?

When in prayer, don't be afraid to ask for, "More fruit, please."

*The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002, Galatians, p. 2123, paragraph 3.