Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Comforts that Delight

Reading Psalm 94 today, I saw this verse: "In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul."

As the Christmas season approaches, all of us face a lot of anxiety. There is pressure to accomplish many tasks above and beyond our normal schedule. Stress can get to us and cause us to lose the focus of Christmas. The "multitude of anxiety" becomes real and overwhelming. What is the answer to combat this anxiety?

The comforts that delight our soul has to be centered around the "reason for the season", Jesus Christ. When our focus is centered on Christ, there are many comforts that can take place that ease the anxiety. Focus your attention on tasks that bring your family closer together (not farther apart). The activities that bring your family together as a unit do not have to be the result of a lot of work or effort, but will allow lasting memories to be created in the minds of each member.

Some suggestions:

Decorate the tree together as a family. Pop some popcorn, string cranberries on a string, allow the small children to put ornaments on the low branches while the adults decorate the top of the tree. Have Christmas carols in the background. When the tree is then finished, sing carols together, or read the Christmas story together.

Allow the children to be a part of your Christmas baking. They can roll out cookies, decorate them with creativity of their small imaginations. Grab the opportunity while waiting for the cookies to bake to let them know how special it is for them to be a part of this Christmas tradition.

Take the children to special Christmas programs in your area, such as "The Nutcracker", or the local mall Christmas programs, where there is singing or dancing, your church Christmas Eve program, or your children's school Christmas program. Allow these times to assure your children that your presence at these events is more important than office parties, or work-related pressures.

Take a walk or drive through the neighborhood to see all the lights and decorations of the houses in the neighborhood. You will delight in all the ooh's and aah's that you hear.

Have the children make special homemade cards, or crafty gifts, to give to older grandparents, or to take to nursing homes to cheer someone during the Christmas season. The children will learn how to give in a greater way, rather than be receivers at Christmas time.

There are a million other ideas that you could come up with to include all the family together as a unit, and to allow the focus to be Christ-centered, and yet not require tons of work or time. The important thing is to create memories that are lasting, and will be remembered for years to come. How often do we focus on the gifts that soon become forgotten and lie idle in a corner of the house.

Delight yourself in the Christmas spirit as a family!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Encouraging Words

Life can bring about circumstances in our lives that cause us to become discouraged. Women especially fall into "blue" periods, and sometimes we don't even know the reason or the core of the emotion we're feeling. Can you look back at a time like that in your life when you were feeling low, and out of the blue, a friend or a family member would call and by the end of the conversation, you are uplifted in spirit and encouraged? Words that we say are powerful! They can be tools of destruction, or tools of encouragement. One word spoken out of anger or without thinking first can bring such pain, and the worst part of it is, once spoken, it cannot be taken back, erased, or forgotten. But how precious are the words spoken that encourage and uplift us and give us a sense of peace or joy. Mothers of small children should especially be concerned about the words spoken to their children. Children have long memories and tender souls. We can either build up esteem with encouraging words, or we can tear down esteem by a careless word spoken without thought.

Proverbs has so many good verses about the words we speak:

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 - Isn't that a beautiful picture! That word we speak in encouragement becomes beautiful and precious to the hearer.

"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply--and how good is a timely word!" Proverbs 15:23 - There is nothing that brings joy to a hurting heart more than someone who has gone through similar circumstances and spoken a word of encouragement to let us know they understand and we are not alone. They lift us up and allow us to continue on with more resolve and hope.

"The tongue has the power of life and death--and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21 - The words we speak can kill the spirit within another person and destroy all confidence, self-esteem and feelings of worth so quickly. Those words are never easily forgotten and unfortunately cannot be erased easily from the mind. In some cases we are so overcome by thoughtless words that they drive our thoughts about ourselves years later. How much better to give the words of "life"--those encouraging words that push us forward to attain the goals set before us, that drive us to keep on going because we know someone cares about the success of our achievements.

Is there someone you know that you could speak an encouraging word to today? Everyone needs that pat on the back, that assurance from others that they are doing a good job, that they are not alone, that they can face the future with hope, that they are a beautiful worthwhile person in your eyes, and that God loves them. Look for opportunities to say "good job" to those around you!

Thank you for your encouragement to me!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Trampled Path

Life is not easy. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives that we did not ask for or expect that we would ever face, but somehow we find ourselves struggling to get through, or even to survive, hard situations that bog us down. It may be financial problems, health problems, marital problems, raising children in a degrading society, taking care of elderly parents, demanding jobs, etc. It is so easy for us to look at our trials and say "Why me?"

This poem speaks volumes:

"He chose this path for thee,
No feeble chance nor hard relentless fate,
But love, His love, hath placed my footsteps here.
He knew the way was rough and desolate,
Knew how the heart would often sink with fear,
Yet tenderly He whispers, "Child, I see
This path is best for thee."

The path we are now walking is not by chance or fate, but by God's sovereign, permissive will for us. Whether the circumstances are from our own bad choices, or are the result of something completely outside of our control, God has permitted it for a purpose. He wants us to discover His love that prompts all his actions and to know that out of His love for us He will work out the details if we but trust Him.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus did not have an easy path to walk in performing God's perfect will for Him on earth. When you get discouraged, remember this little thought:

"Your path is thorny and rough? Tramp it! You will find wherever you set your foot upon a thorn, Another Foot has been there before and taken off the sharpness."

If you allow Christ to lead the way and go before you and you follow His footsteps, your path through life will be so much smoother.

Happy walking!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Study on Forgiveness

God has been teaching me much this week on forgiveness. Our Bible study touched on it this week, as well as our Sunday School lesson. This subject is exhaustive. I don't think you could ever exhaust the many aspects of forgiveness that God would like for us to know. I thought it worthwhile to share with you an excerpt from our Sunday School lesson this week based on Charles Stanley's book "Success God's Way."

"You can blame others and refuse to forgive others who hurt you all you like, but the truth remains:
---You are responsible for your actions, responses and feelings.
---There is never any justification in hurting someone else, harboring unforgiveness, or taking vengeance into your own hands.
---You have a choice rooted in your free will about what you choose to do in the face of persecution, injury, criticism, or hurt feelings.
---The blame game always hurts you more than it hurts others. The blame game stunts your spiritual growth, damages your fellowship with God, and promotes disharmony with others.
When you continually blame others, you actually choose to live in a state of unforgiveness. You hold others responsible for your pain, and you refuse to forgive them for what they have done to you. As long as you live in a state of unforgiveness toward those who wrong you, the Lord cannot bless you and cause your efforts to prosper (Luke 6:37). Choose to forgive!
You will release yourself to move forward toward God's goals for your life."

A long time ago, I wrote in my Bible this statement: "Forgiveness is not a case of "holy amnesia" that wipes out the past. Instead it is the experience of healing that drains out the poison from the wound."

Revenge imprisons us; forgiveness sets us free. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

God so freely forgave us for all our sins----we have no lesser responsibility than to forgive others. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us."

Get your spiritual health back through forgiveness!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Lord is Faithful

"The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." Psalm 145:13b-16

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for us to acknowledge God's faithfulness to us. He blesses us abundantly every single day and we take so many of his blessings for granted. Take a moment and remember how God has upheld you this past year during the tough times, how he has lifted you up when everything seemed to be falling apart, how he provided for you when you thought there was no way out, how he satisfied your needs and maybe even your wants and desires. God's hand is open always---he is ready to give you all that you need, and the desires of your heart. Acknowledge that He loves you and longs to be faithful to all his promises toward you. You are his creation. He has a plan and a purpose for you that no one else can fufill. Be thankful and praise him this Thanksgiving and every day for the rest of your life!

God is worthy of all our praise!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

This was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista, CA. He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to "explain God." I wonder if any of us could have done as well?

"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers."

"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off."

"God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your Mom and Dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have."

"Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church."

"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K."

"His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important."

"You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time."

"You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!

Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway."

"If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids."

" shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.

And...that's why I believe in God."

Sent to me via email by a friend.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Life's Trials Are Tough

This week has been a hard week for me in that in three separate incidences, three persons have shared very difficult trials that they are enduring in which they see no way out. There are no magic wands, no presto-chango words that can change their situations. How do you handle situations that come into your lives that seemingly have no good endings? Do you get angry and shake your fist at Almighty God and blame Him for allowing this to happen to you? Do you curl up within yourself and try to hide from the world? Do you seek revenge for the people that somehow you feel is to blame for your problems? Do you fill yourself up with drugs and/or alcohol to drown out the world?

OR--do you see Jesus as your peace, your protection, your Shepherd, your Problem Solver, your Friend, your Husband? Jesus says, "In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

"If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31b)

"Is anything too hard for me?"

"Is my arm too short?"

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid."

If we see Jesus as standing with us through every circumstance, every trial, every hurt, every pain and soul-wrenching ache, how much easier it would be for us to go through the trial. He didn't promise in this world that we would be trouble-free, that we would never face pain, or that we would never suffer. But HE DID PROMISE that He would never NEVER leave us or forsake us.

It's your heart of belief that will allow you to turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full into His wonderful face, and see His love for you, His promise to shelter you under His wings, His promise to place your feet on the solid Rock when everything else seems to be falling down around you. Can you stop raising your fists to God, and start opening your hands and your heart to His love, His peace, His help! He wants you to KNOW Him! How better to KNOW Him fully and crawl up into His arms by faith and allow Him to hold you against His bosom and speak comfort to you.

Psalm 91:14 - "Because he loves me," says the Lord; "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

He wants to bless you, He wants to freely give you all things, He wants to refine you as gold, and make you strong and able to withstand the storms of life that come our way. All that comes by simple trust! Don't fight against Him! Don't rail against Him! He wants your surrender! When we keep Christ as the very center of our lives, He promises to take care of all the circumference! He wants our heart.

Trials are hard, but God is so much bigger than our trials! Trust HIM!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Refined by Fire

Our house overlooks sugar cane fields in the distance. When the sugar cane is ready to be harvested, it must first be burned right in the field where it stands. The burning is the first step to begin the process of making sugar. The burning allows the juice of the cane to come to the surface easier when later it is crushed at the mill. Last night I woke up in my bed and looked out the window to see this giant red cloud and wondered if I was seeing "Red clouds in the morning, sailors take warning"-type of storm coming. However, when I got up to look closer, a tiny field of sugar cane was burning brightly with smoke billowing high up into the sky. I was mesmerized by the red glow in the middle of the night and marvelled at how controlled the fire was. The fire was contained completely within the borders set for it, even though flames leaped high into the air.

In I Peter 1:3-9, Peter wrote: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. IN THIS YOU GREATLY REJOICE, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goals of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Just as the sugar cane needs the fire to begin its long processing to turn it into the product for which it was grown, God permits trials to come into our lives to refine our faith and bring us to the goal of our faith---the salvation of our souls.
Trials that come into our lives come through God's permissive will first and He desires that the trials will cause our faith in Jesus Christ to become real and genuine so that it may result in faith that is more precious than gold, which is made more precious by the refining of fire. Just as the sugar cane fields are greatly controlled by men who know what they are doing, God is in control of the trials that come our way and He is the Refiner of our faith that brings about inexpressible and glorious joy as the end result. If you are in the midst of a trial that you don't understand, have faith that it is God at work in you! He is refining you to make you that jewel in His kingdom that He wants you to be!

You are of greater worth than gold!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Would you like an idea for an inexpensive, but beautiful, centerpiece for your Thanksgiving and/or Christmas table? I use a chip and dip tray because it allows me to have two levels, but you can also use a plain Pyrex pie dish or something similar that is flat and low.

Place enough water in your dish to float one package of fresh cranberries. Add to the cranberries five or six small motive candles. You can also add pretty white flowers, such as wonderful aromatic gardenias, or white roses. At Christmastime you can add small colorful Christmas bulbs. When you get ready to sit down to your Thanksgiving meal, light the candles and the warmth of the candles, and the warmth of your family and friends around your table, will add a special glow to your atmosphere.

"Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name." Psalm 97:11,12

Continue to enjoy your Thanksgiving preparations!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fervency of Prayer

"It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they be;
Nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they may be;
Nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they be;
Nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be;
Nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be;
Nor even the theology of our prayers, how good the doctrine may be---
which God cares for.
Fervency of spirit is that which availeth much."

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

The fervency in which we pray for the particulars of God's will to be accomplished in our lives will be the prayer that accomplishes much. The fervency in which you pray for lost loved ones will someday come to fruition. Don't lose your zeal to pray! God loves that we come to Him with the least to the biggest issues of our hearts. Go to him often with fervency and belief that He will hear and answer according to His will. Prayer through the Holy Spirit is the very avenue and the great privilege where we meet at the very throne of Almighty God. He does not grow weary of our constant coming to Him. Go often, go zealously, go believing!

Praying for you,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Clean Heart

Yesterday my husband had an echocardiogram on his heart, a test that allows the technician to see the actual working of the heart as it beats and will detect any possible irregularities. Dick said it was a strange feeling to lie on the table and watch your own heart beating, moving in and out rythmically, steady, constant.

In I Samuel 16:7b: "The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Our hearts are the inner portion of our being that determines our thoughts and our actions. God sees those thoughts even before we think them, and He determines if the motives are in line with His thoughts. He checks the heart and sees with His righteous eyes whether we are healthy spiritually. God is our spiritual cardiologist!

When left to our own devices in our sinful nature, God is grieved---"How I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts.." (Ez. 6:9b) Jeremiah 17:9, 10: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man acccording to his conduct.."

He knows our hearts and the motives behind each action that we perform. And He alone is the One who can clean up our heart and make it pure and righteous before Him. That's what Christ came to do when He came to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins--to wipe our hearts clean and present us spotless before God by His shed blood. As the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 51:10, we also can pray: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." God's promise to the Israelites is our promise today: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.." In Isaiah, God says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Jesus Christ is our Heart Eraser! He wipes the slate clean when we become His child and presents us faultless before God the Father! All we have to do is acknowledge with our hearts that He is our Savior and confess with our mouths that He is Lord!

WOW! Surely that should move your heart today to give thanksgiving and praise to our Blessed Lord and to serve Him wholeheartedly!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Aromas of Thanksgiving

Preparations are being made all around the country for the wonderful day that we have set aside to give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings He has bestowed on us individually, on our families, friends and our country. It's warming to recount the past year and, even though we may have had some tough times, some sad events, some heartaches, there were countless blessings from God that we can remember that would override the trials.

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving are the aromas that waft from the kitchen as food is being prepared for the family. The spices of the stuffing, the turkey roasting in the oven, the pumpkin pie smell of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, the tartness of the cranberries cooking on the stove all permeate my sense of smell. Your taste buds anticipate the goodness of each bite that you will experience as you sit down to the table to eat.

Did you know that you can permeate the aroma of Christ to those around you to the point that they will anticipate the goodness that awaits them, if they, too, partake of Christ? In II Corinthians 2:14-16, the apostle wrote: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death, to the other, the fragrance of life."

As you make your preparations for Thanksgiving, remember that in whatever task you undertake, permeate the fragrance of Christ to others as you plan, decorate, cook, and serve your family and friends. Let them "smell" the fragrance of Christ in the words you speak, the actions you take, and the hospitality that you extend to them. By your fragrance, they may anticipate that they, too, may want to partake of what you have in Christ.

Happy Preparations!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time - Use it or Lose it

Have you ever studied "time" and thought about each moment of every day that comes and goes and is gone forever? Do we make the most of that moment? Is that moment used for selfish purposes or for God's purposes? Here's a poem that emphasizes how important it is that we use that moment wisely:

I've only just a minute
Only 60 seconds in it
Forced upon me - can't refuse it
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it
But it's up to me to use it
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it!

Time was created by God for us. He does not experience time, He is not limited by it in any way. He designed time for us that we may use it wisely and for His purposes and for our good. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." In Psalm 90:12, the Psalmist asks God: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." In Psalm 31:14-15, "But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, You are my God," My times are in your hands."

What does this all mean for us? Each moment counts with God. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to use it wisely for God's kingdom purposes or for our own selfish purposes. Focus on those things that will last for eternity, not on the things that will rust or fade away.

Colossians 4:5 in the Amplified Bible says, "Behave yourselves wisely (living prudently and with discretion) in your relations with those of the outside world (non Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity."

Look for ways to glorify God and enhance His work through your moments given to you today. Redeem the time well. Each moment is a gift from God. A moment used for God will not be lost---it may have eternal consequences.

Today is another day to serve God with joy,

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Healthy Roots

Yesterday my husband and I went to the Garden Fair at Maui Plantation and sat in on a lecture by an arborist about how to plant small trees so that they will grow up to be strong healthy trees. He explained that it's important to make sure the root system is given lots of room to spread, and that air and water is allowed to get to the root system so that it can breathe. He showed us a tree root that had been in a pot too small for it, and the root became gnarled, curled up and even matted together which stunted the growth of the tree. If we plant our trees in good soil, with a hole large enough so that the roots can spread out and breathe, and anticipate that it can withstand the wind as it grows by staking it, then our tree should grow and be strong and healthy for years and years.

That reminded me of the verse in Colossians 2:6,7: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, overflowing with thanksgiving." We as Christians need to establish our faith so that it is rooted and grounded in Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord we serve, and our "roots" go deeper and deeper in Him, we are then strengthened and able to withstand the storms of life that come our way. We stand firm and the winds of adversity do not uproot us. The more you spend time with Christ, the deeper your roots will grow and the higher your faith will be built up!

I love the last of this verse---"overflowing with thanksgiving." When we are rooted and strong in the Lord, and we recognize more and more what Christ has accomplished for us, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving. The recognition of how Christ blessed us through the years leaves no room for complaints but only thanksgiving. "Our cup runneth over" and into the saucer and then to the table and over the sides of the table, and into every crevice of our home. Thankful hearts should be the first indication to others that we are rooted and grounded in Christ, so much so that those around us see us as different from the world.

May your roots go deep and your thanksgiving be overflowing as we approach Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A New Day

"This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it."

Hope you have a wonderful relaxing Saturday. Take time to "smell the roses" and enjoy God's creation all around you. Be sensitive to your surroundings and rejoice in them. Give your kids a hug today, or a phone call if they are not with you.
You are special to God. Let Him know He's pretty special to you, too!

Rejoicing in the Lord,

Friday, November 10, 2006

Treasures of Darkness

I read a verse in Isaiah this morning that intrigued me.

It reads: "I will give you treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name." (Isaiah 45:3)

Can you mull this over with me? What possible treasures and riches could darkness hold for us? Whatever they are, God says that they are there to convince us that He is the Lord and that He knows each of us personally by name. Can the darkest moments and trials that come our way be the very avenue that God uses to bring us to the Light of the World, Jesus? If so, wouldn't this be a treasure so precious that could never be matched by any other treasure? In Psalm 18:28, the psalmist said, "You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light."

Unless we recognized the darkness within our souls, we might not recognize the light that Jesus offers. He is the Light that shines brightly to chase the darkness away. When we become his children and are eternally safe in him, we are then to proclaim that truth with our lives and with our voices to others.

"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." (I Peter 2:9)

Maybe you can recall other treasures of darkness that are stored in secret places---please share them with me.

To God be the glory!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

God's Faithful Hands

Have you ever taken notice of the sweet lovable innocence of a child who places their complete and total trust in their parents? When the child places their hands into the hands of Mom or Dad, they will trustingly follow them anywhere. They know that as long as they have hold of their parents' hand, they are safe and they do not worry where they are going or what lies around the corner. However, when a child lets go of that strong hand, and finds himself lost in a department store, he becomes terribly frightened, often begins to cry and wants someone to lead him back to his parents.

Can we relate that example to the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father? He wants us to trust in Him enough to have that innocent faith that all is well and safe and secure. It won't matter what direction our life takes, or what lies around the corner, because we KNOW that He will hold us by His righteous right hand and will guide and direct us according to His will and His good purposes. Even if around the corner lies some pretty horrific circumstances, our trust should remain strong that He will not let us go, but will lead us through the darkest hours, because He is trustworthy. He is true to His word, and will not fail us. We are His children, and He is our Father.

However, when we feel disconnected from the Father by our uncertainties, our fears, our doubts, our lack of faith, then our world can become pretty scary and unsettling. Throughout the Bible, God tells us over and over again, "Do not fear, for I am with you." "Do not worry," "Do not fret." There's a verse in Proverbs that often speaks such comfort to me. It says: "Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence." (Proverbs 3:25, 26).

Long ago I heard this quote and wrote it in my Bible: "Worry is like a rocking chair---it's always in motion, but it never gets you anywhere." When we worry, it leaves no room for faith. Worry cancels out our trust in the Lord. It basically is saying that we don't think God is big enough to handle our problems. I think God knew we would struggle with worry and fear. That's why He says so many times in His Word, "Do not fear.." How much better to look to the Lord and say, "I KNOW You are with me, and that YOU will guide me through this--just show me the way, and I will follow." Hang on to His hand. What possibly could come that He would ever let go of us? NOTHING!

Grip His strong hand today, and be safe!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Unplanned Blessing

My husband and I woke up yesterday on Maui to an unbelievably beautiful day. The skies were deep blue, not a cloud in sight. The soft trade breezes were blowing, and even the air smelled fresh! The only plans we knew we had for the day was to go to the polls and vote. As we drove up the mountain to Makawao, I kept saying, "Isn't this a beautiful day?"

After we voted, I asked my husband if we couldn't take a ride upcountry. We drove up to Kula, stopped at a little place called Grandma's Coffee House, and had coffee enjoying the free time we had. When we got back in the truck, I casually mentioned to my husband to look at how clear Haleakala Mountain was--you could see it in such detail! Very spontaneously, Dick said, well, let's drive up, at least part of the way. We ended up on the very narrow, windy road that leads to PoliPoli Park, a placee that is about 7,000 feet on the side of Haleakala, and a place our family has enjoyed hiking in the past with our son and good friends. It winds up and up these switchback curves where your taillight almost meets the front headlight of your own vehicle. Then the tiny little paved road ends and you are driving on a dirt road with many twists and turns, and lots of potholes. Finally we make it to our destination, PoliPoli Park. From the park, there are walking trails that head deep into big high pine trees that block out most of the sky and that would eventually run into a redwood forest (YES, in Hawaii!)----beautiful serene setting for quieting the soul and meditating on what's important in life!

We sat on a log along the trail listening to the wind high up in the pines, occasionally a tree rubbing against another that screeched a little giving us notice that life was all around us, and birds singing and answering each other's calls. It brought my heart to a stillness that is so missing in our lives. It brought my mind to meditating on God's beautiful originality in creating this spot in a little corner of His world. It caused me to wonder why we don't expose ourselves to these beautiful moments more often in our daily walk of life. There is beauty all around us no matter where we live. Take time to stop and see what beauty lies around you, let it soak in that God is magnificent in His creativity, and wants us to know His presence in the world in which He has placed us.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1
"O Lord. our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth....when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3, 4 The answer to that question is that He, our Lord, knows us so intimately that He knows the numbers of hairs on our head. The psalmist noted that God "created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body....How precious to me are your thoughts, O God." Psalm 139:13,15

With the same creativity that He created our beautiful world, He also created you and you are wonderfully made! Praise Him today for His creation! God didn't make "no junk."!

Praising Him,

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thanksgiving Recipes

If you are like me, you are always looking for something different to spice up your Thanksgiving table. I will share my family's favorite recipe---Thanksgiving Day could not happen at our house without this on the table. You have to make it a day ahead, but it's so refreshing with turkey.

Cranberry Salad

1 package whole fresh cranberries
1 whole orange
1/2 peeling of orange
1 stalk celery
1/2 to 1 cup English walnuts
1 to 2 cups sugar, to your preferred taste
2 packages (small) Red Rasperry Jello

Grind the first five ingredients together. (If you do not have a grinder, chop in a food processor).
Add the sugar to the mixture, and put into Red Raspberry Jello made as directed on the package.
P.S. If you chop the fruit in a food processor, use 1 cup less water when making Jello.

Put in 9x13 Pyrex dish and put in refrigerator overnight to set.

Here's another recipe that I haven't tried, but I saw it in a magazine, and thought it sounded really good, especially if you love sweet potatoes like I do.

Apricot-Sweet Potato Mash

2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Salt and pepper to taste

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot; add enough cold water to cover by an inch. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender---about 15 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot. Add next four ingredients, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in preserves until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If potatoes seem a little dry, add a little more milk. Makes 8 servings.

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

Happy Meal Planning!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Object of our Thanksgiving

I wanted to expand a little on the attitude of thanksgiving that God desires us to have and share with you some thoughts from a devotional I was reading this morning.

"There are two types of gratitude: one secondary, the other primary. The secondary kind is thankfulness for blessings received--those things that first come to mind around the Thanksgiving table: life, health, home, family, freedom, friends, food......The other kind of appreciation is "gracious gratitude"---thankfulness not for what God gives, but for who God is. It's all about Him and our exulting in His goodness, love, power, and grace, regardless of any favors received."

It is good to place our thoughts on the Giver rather than the gift, to recognize that God is the supplier of all our needs, and even more than our needs. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. All our blessings come from Him. And it is good that we recognize that what we enjoy daily comes from His grace and goodness toward us.

I challenge you this month of November to focus your thanksgiving to the Giver. In whatever circumstances you find yourself at this particular time in your life, whether difficult or easy, honestly turn your heart to God and say "thank you." It's all about attitude. Tangible gifts come and go, never fully satisfying us, but God and His goodness, love, power, and grace never fail us. He is always ready and willing to bless us with His presence and all the fruits of the Spirit that He offers through Himself--peace, joy, love, kindness, patience, goodness, longsuffering. God truly finds pleasure from our attitude of thanksgiving for HIM, and He delights in our recognition of WHO He is, that we KNOW Him, and love Him, not for what He gives us, but that we love and worship Him as Lord.

Have you ever tried to voice thanksgiving and complaining at the same time? You can't do it. When we are truly thankful in our circumstances, we cannot grumble about them. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:15

Be thankful and don't grumble!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Soon Thanksgiving will be upon us, and we will set aside a day where we gather together as families to remember the good things God has blessed us with throughout the year. And that is good! How much better, however, to have an attitude of thankfulness toward God and His blessings to us every day of the year, every moment that He chooses to bless us with the very air we breathe. Even in difficult circumstances when things of the world tend to drag us down, there are many things for which to be grateful. Many years ago I wrote this quote down in my Bible:

Matthew Henry, famous Bible scholar, was once accosted by thieves and robbed. In his diary he wrote:
"Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before. Second, because they took my purse and not my life,
Third, because although they took all, it was not much. Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."

Psalm 92:1 says, "It is good to give thanks to the Lord." I would like to challenge you for the whole month of November to focus your thoughts on the blessings that God is bestowing upon you every single day. Unless we train our thoughts to focus on the good that God allows in our lives daily, our thoughts too often focus on the negative aspects of our lives. Look around you. You may be surprised at the beauty that has been before your eyes every day, and you've failed to notice. Look at those people that have been a part of your life, whether it's your family, friends, or co-workers. Find a reason to thank God that they have been an integral part of your life for helping to form who you are as a person. There are so many ways for us to realize the blessings of God daily. God is "the giver of every good and perfect gift".

How about starting a journal writing down for the month of November the many blessings of God in your life? By Thanksgiving, I think your heart will be astounded at the goodness of God.

Praising God for His goodness,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Strand of Thread

Have you ever felt like you are hanging on to life by a very sheer strand of thread? That thread is hanging over a very high precipice that, if you fell into it, you would fall into a very dark deep hole from which you could not climb out of? As you are hanging there, you wonder if the strand of thread might break from the weight of the burdens that are on your shoulders, or worse even than that, you might just get too tired and let go of the strand? I think at times we all feel like that life gets very difficult and hard and there are things that we just simply do not understand.

But I have good news. With Christ as your Savior, no matter how far over the precipice you might feel, or how thin that strand of thread might get, there is always a strong, mighty hand that is holding on to you and will NOT let you go. Don't look down at the deep dark hole. Instead look up into the face of Jesus. There you will see so much love, so much tenderness, so much compassion, and HE will pull you up and set your feet back on firm ground and show you the path to light! His promises are there to assure you of safety and guidance. I pray that the Scriptures given below may strengthen your resolve to never give up, as God will never never give up on YOU!

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

"The Lord delights in the way of man whose steps HE has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:23,24

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will NEVER let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

"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. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." John 10:28,29

"No, in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the futuure, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

You are always secure, as God always has hold of you with His hand. Rest in him and cast your burdens upon his capable shoulders. He will plant your feet on a firm foundation and He will not let you go ever!

So thankful for His wonderful promises,

Friday, November 03, 2006

Handwritten Letters

In this modern age of computers, emails, blogs, ipods, etc., I believe we have lost something very special in the old-fashioned handwritten note or letter. There is nothing quite so special as walking out to the mailbox, opening it up to see an envelope with familiar handwriting on it addressed to you. The anticipation builds as you walk from the mailbox to your favorite chair to find out what news the envelope holds inside. Sometimes you can't wait until you get inside---you rip the envelope right where you are and you read as you walk back inside. The news inside can be an update of family members, a note of encouragement from a friend, an invitation or an announcement of a gathering where your presence is wanted, or just a card that says I miss you and am thinking of you. It warms your heart that you were thought of in such a way that someone else took the time to sit and write down their thoughts to you.

Is there someone in your life that would be thrilled to get a handwritten note from you---maybe a grandparent in a nursing home, a friend going to school far away from home, a husband or a brother or sister fighting for his/her country in a foreign land, a granchild that would laugh at a card you chose all for him or her, a long-lost cousin that would love to know that you're still a part of the family and thinking of them, a pastor that would be encouraged by a thank you for all that they do for the church, a missionary working faraway that would be thrilled to hear that someone is recognizing them for their sacrifices? Your thoughts may have turned to someone just recently that you haven't thought of for ages---wouldn't they love to hear that you're doing well and were remembering the times you once had together as friends? Renew the art of handwriting your thoughts in a letter or a note. It just seems so much more personal and intimate. However, as I say that, I thank God so much for email, etc. that keeps us in touch in this fast-paced world we live in today. We may lose the specialness of handwriting, but I trust that we will never lose the art of keeping in touch with each other regardless of the method!!!

Proverbs 25:25: "Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."

Proverbs 25:11: "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

Don't lose the art of that personal touch that means so much!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"....and I approve this message."

Election Day is soon approaching, and we have been inundated with political advertisements by the candidates who are running for office. It must be a requirement for each candidate to say at the end of their ads that they approve the message they just gave. What amazes me is that most of the ad is made up of trash-talking their opponent instead of giving legitimate reasons why we should vote for them in particular. However, we as individuals have the tremendous privilege of voting on November 7 and I believe we as Christians also have a great obligation to do so. If we do not spend time in prayer and exercise our right to vote for the candidate we feel led by God to vote for, then we have no right whatsoever to complain about the person who is voted into office.

Romans 13:1-2, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is NO authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

I Peter 2:13 - "Submit yourselves FOR THE LORD'S SAKE to EVERY authority instituted among men; whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."

God has instituted the governing body over us---we have the wonderful privilege of being a real part of that government by voting. We as individuals are the ones who have put our authorities into office, or have failed to put them in office because we choose to stay home and not vote. Please vote this coming Tuesday.

....and I approve this message!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wisdom of a Little Child

My husband has come down with a virus that is causing a very sore throat and coughing. I decided I'd spend the morning quietly reading to give him an opportunity to catch up on his sleep that he lost last night from coughing so much. I was reading my "Country" magazine that I love so much and found this cute bit of humor:

"It was almost time for supper, so my husband and our 4-year-old son, Keith, came in from the workshop to wash up. When Keith began washing his hands with cold water, my husband told him he needed to use hot water to kill the germs. Without hesitation, Keith replied, "But, Dad, I'd rather freeze them to death."

Pretty quick thinker, don't you think? Do you suppose God can "freeze" my husband's germs today and make him well? He could, because He's God, and "nothing is impossible with Him,", but probably He won't use that method to bring healing to my husband. I DO know, however, that God hears and answers prayer and will bring healing in His way and in His time.

"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up..." (James 5:15)

Stay healthy!