You Are Not Your Own

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. 1 Corinthians 6:19

We sometimes forget that the verse that says “Every good and perfect gift is from above” also includes our bodies.  Very few of us would ever call ours “good”  or even close to “perfect”. From a very early age, we learn to recognize the qualities and flaws we don’t find acceptable in ourselves and would love to change.

A recent Today Show survey found that 60% of women and 36% of men often have many negative thoughts about themselves. Other surveys found those numbers to be much higher, with one reporting that 97% of women admit to at least one “I hate my body!” moment every day!

What pressure we feel to look a certain way no matter our age! And to what measures we go, to try to be satisfied with our appearance. If only we could see ourselves through God’s eyes!

To the “me”generation, (an “It’s my life to do with as I please!”) this verse is a startling reminder that “we are not our own.” Each of us belongs to God. What an incredible thought!

Does that mean that He loves us for who we are, that He cares about us, that we have value to Him? And the answer, of course, is “Yes!” He loves us so unconditionally that He even sent his Son with His saving grace so we could spend eternity with Him. So in return, we should see and treat ourselves with the value and worth He expects and desires us to have.

I am sure we all can look back and see so many ways we should have considered our bodies more honored and sacred through the years – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It is a challenge in this fast-paced and abundant world we live in to keep a more healthy lifestyle. We probably all need a more balanced diet, more physical activity, a less anxious heart and a much less stressful life.

But most of all, we should see ourselves as the amazing creations God made us to be. He wants us to call on the power of the Holy Spirit living within us to help with our insecurities, our weaknesses, and the burdens of life. He promises His Spirit will calm our anxious souls, comfort our hearts, and give us confidence in who we are and what we can accomplish through Him.  What power we have to be the individuals God created us to be!

In Psalm 139: 14, David’s words remind us that our bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Man has been studying the body for centuries and still doesn’t understand all there is to know about how it works. How miraculous in design and function it truly is!

Yet, interestingly, when these words were written by Paul to the Corinth church in Greece, the body was not considered to be of utmost importance and how it was used or taken care of was of little concern. To them the soul and spirit were of much more value. Paul encouraged them to view their bodies from our Creator’s perspective, and He reminded them that it was a gift from God – a vessel that holds life and if we trust in Him, it will be filled with His indwelling Spirit.

We are His temple of the Holy Spirit, His sanctuary. These bodies are not ours and they should be treated with reverence and care. To not do so dishonors Him and it dishonors His love for us. They are His and they were made for His use and to show His glory. May we too see ourselves through God’s eyes and honor the individuals He created us to be.


Dear God, thank you for the gift of life and for your spirit residing in us. May we accept and embrace the power and love you so willingly provide. What an amazing work of creation our bodies are. May we appreciate and honor them with our care. Amen.

God is Our Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1

The images of the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas that we have seen won’t go away. What horror and fear these severe storms must have brought, and what unimaginable grief these people must be experiencing because of the loss of life and property. To know that so many are still unaccounted for is heartbreaking, and the waiting must be so painful. And it’s not over. The storms will continue to rage for the next few days and more lives will be affected.

This could be our tragedy, or someone we know – anyone’s – and even though we can’t know what these individuals are going through, our hearts and prayers are with them. We can’t understand why these things happen, but we have many reminders of God’s presence and compassion during such difficult times in His Word.

The writer of this psalm understands the uncertainties of life. His world seems to be crumbling around him, but yet, He trusts in God, and he reminds us that we can also be strong if we trust in Him.

The word “refuge” literally means “to flee”. God wants us to run to Him, to come to Him in search of His love, protection, and strength when we are feeling weak and vulnerable. Our sense of helplessness and fear should drive us to Him, and we can always have the assurance that His presence will be there to carry us through.

We know that only He can grant His loving mercy to those who are suffering from loss or injury from these storms, and only He can give them the grace to move forward with their lives.

He is our refuge, our strength, and our ever-present help in trouble.”  He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and we can trust that He will keep His Word.

Our hearts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by these devastating storms. May we pray that each of these individuals will reach out to Him and He will surround them with His love, comfort, healing, and peace. And to those who don’t know Him, may they find Him through this experience, and seek His Word, His truths, His love, and His saving grace. May God grant them His peace.

He longs to comfort those who will call on Him. He will always be our refuge and strength.


Our most loving and gracious Heavenly Father, you know the pain and suffering of so many people affected by these storms. We pray you will surround them with your loving strength, comfort, and peace. May hearts be humbled and changed – to call out to you, to seek you, and to be saved by your love and grace. Amen

The Lord is Our Strength

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk  3:19

I don’t like good byes. I don’t accept them very graciously.

But I did really well yesterday morning when we left Scott and Emily. There were no tears, no sadness – just complete gratitude that we had had such a good visit with them and that they are so happy together.

Or at least I thought I was doing well – but as we drove further away from Nashville, the more the sadness came. It always does as I start to feel the distance growing between us, and the realization comes that it may be months before we see them again. And with the weather forecast with severe storms and tornadoes for the next several days through their area and beyond, I couldn’t help but be concerned for them and for all the other people involved, as well. Of course, once again, I had to fight back the tears. I just wanted to turn around and go back for a little longer . . .

I do wish I wasn’t such an emotional and sentimental person. And soon, I did begin to accept that I was being much too dramatic and emotional. I knew I had no reason for sadness or tears. And I fully realize that there are so many individuals and families who are going through difficult times. They are suffering such heartache and despair. We too have had those times and through His love and grace, we got through them. All of us, at some time or another, will have those seasons when the pain of our circumstances can seem unbearable. And as we know too well, life for all of us can be so uncertain, but yet, we can’t live with the fear of what might be.

With the most grateful heart, I can say that all is well with us and we are trusting in Him. We just had the opportunity to spend 4 days with our son and his wife, and we had a wonderful time. They are happy, doing well, and healthy. They aren’t halfway across the world or dealing with painful situations. They have jobs they love and a comfortable life with all they need. They love each other and look forward to a great future with Minnie (their little chihuahua they adore), and hopefully someday, having children of their own. They know God and have the assurance of His promises. We have a family that loves each other and enjoys being together. I am so grateful for all the many blessings we have been given.

God has been so good to all of us. To what heights He has taken us and even when we are at our lowest, He lifts us up. What strength He gives us with His presence. The unfailing trust, hope, and confidence we can have in our lives, and in the lives of those we care about, is through our faith in our Sovereign Lord. It is through Him that we can find the grace to rise above our circumstances and find joy in even the most sad or difficult of times. What mercy and compassion He will give us when we need it most.

One of the shortest books in the Old Testament is the book of Habakkuk.  In its three chapters we see this prophet rise from the depths of despair to the height of joy. In the beginning, we find that all Habakkuk could see was destruction, violence, strife, conflict, injustice, and wickedness. He cried out to God and God answered with His presence and grace.

The last chapter ends with these words of comfort and hope: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to go on the heights.” In questioning God and His ways, Habakkuk found that the answer simply rests in trusting Him. Just as He did, we too must walk by faith and look to Him.

As we traveled further away from Nashville, I played one of my all-time favorite songs, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban. And as I listened to the words, I had no doubt, that God was indeed lifting me up and reminding me of His loving presence with all of us:

“When I am down, and oh, my soul so weary,

When troubles come and my heart burdened be;

Then I am still and wait here in the silence

Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be.”


Our Father, Creator, and Sustainer of Life, thank you for lifting us up when our souls get weary and we begin to sink under sadness and the burdens of life. Our most gracious God, we pray you will be with those in harm’s way during the approaching storms. May we always look to you and trust that you love us and will give us whatever measure of strength or comfort we need. Amen

Enter His Rest

 Since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. Hebrews 4:1

It was another great day with Scott and Emily in Nashville! Just being together has been the most wonderful gift!

As we left our restaurant downtown last night after dinner, I couldn’t help but think about how much I had enjoyed this day and how much I needed this time with them. I felt grateful, refreshed, and at peace.

As we walked back toward our car, we noticed this beautiful Presbyterian church we had passed with a sign out front that read “Come to Our Taize” Tuesday Services. We wondered what it might mean, and I was curious enough to go to their website and check it out.

It is a weekly service held in their chapel from 4:45 to 5:15 each Tuesday and then followed by a more formal service of evening prayers. The website stated: “Come as you are, when you can, and simply sit with others in silent contemplation, listen to the words of the meditative music, watch the flames of the candles dancing, feel the anxiety of the day and tension of the week drain out of you, and enjoy a time for individual prayers offered from your heart in the presence of God.” 

Is that not the most beautiful thought? Wouldn’t that be amazing to take the opportunity to do this each week? Can you even imagine how God would quiet our souls and how refreshed our spirits could be after such a time?

It was really interesting to read that this service is based on a monastic community founded in southeastern France in 1940 called Brother Roger of Taize. It began with the mission of healing the divisions between Christians and within the human family and to bring peace to those who participated.

Today, it includes 100 brothers from over 20 different countries, as well as thousands of Christian people from all over the world, young and old, who gather here at Taize each week to pray, to reflect, to search, to sing, and to find refreshment and renewal of spirit. The service lasts about an hour and is marked by its depth, simplicity, and the opportunity for “time to be suspended”. Some prayers are sung in Latin and others in English repeated into melodic chants and mesmerizing mantras that will hopefully be kept in memory as prayers of the heart.

Such reverence and devotion! Can you imagine such a service with thousands of people focused on praying to our Father in heaven! What a beautiful way to spend time with God. Talk about being relaxed, grateful, and at peace. What better way could there be than to sit in silence or with quiet meditative music and contemplate His mercy, grace, and goodness to us.

But thankfully we don’t have to travel to France or even to Nashville, for this is something we can do in the quiet of our own homes – once a week or several times a week. All we need to do is spend a few minutes of time with God in quiet prayer – being totally at rest, shutting out the noise of the world and letting God’s peace and strength fill our hearts and minds.

Rest is a promise God vows to give us and a directive we are told not to fall short of. God wants us to find rest in Him, to have quiet times for Him to fill our spirits with hope and the assurance of His love and presence. Enter His rest and be at peace.  What better time than on this beautiful Sabbath Day!


Dear God, we so often fail to spend time with you. How sad that we need a scheduled time to do so or that we don’t take advantage of it at all. Help us to value such time, to appreciate the rest you promise to give us, to look forward to this time with you, and to take in the refreshment you can give our spirits. Amen

Praise God’s Name in Song

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

How many times in our busy lives do we have time to just sit quietly and think about God’s goodness to us? Or even better, how often do we get to just bask in His love and presence as we listen to or sing songs of praise to our amazing God? If only we could do it more often!

As I write this devotional entry, we are enjoying some time relaxing at a quiet and peaceful park on a most beautiful day in Nashville! There is the nicest breeze and it feels great, especially to be here visiting with Scott and Emily! My heart could not be more grateful as I sit here and reflect on life’s many blessings.

We arrived on Thursday, and it was so gratifying to see those familiar faces we love. They have been so busy and we had not seen them since Christmas, so now that we are here, we have to soak up and enjoy every precious moment with them! And it’s always fun to be in “Music City”.  They both work in the country music industry so it’s really nice to get those opportunities to see and hear many talented musicians!

On Thursday night, we went to the Ryman Auditorium for a show with Larry Gatlin and Vince Gill, and we had the opportunity to be backstage and see more closely what goes on behind the scenes. Bob especially enjoyed it since Vince is one of his all time favorite musicians.

As Vince left the stage and came over to where we were, Bob told him how much he had enjoyed his performance, and Vince patted him on the shoulder and thanked him. What a humble and gracious gesture for someone who probably hears it every day!

Larry Gatlin was quite entertaining with all his amusing antics and jokes, but when he began to sing several old hymns, that old historical church was filled with silence and reverence as we listened. He began with “It is Well With My Soul” and then asked the audience for requests. He sang those old beloved songs, “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden”. 

I just sat there gazing out at the faces of about 2500 audience members as they were obviously so moved by the words, music, and the voices we heard in praise to our amazing God. Many sang along and I saw many wiping tears from their eyes, just as I did.

I felt such gratitude for these moments to praise Him and to lift His name up before us in the midst of all these people. For the most part, we were all strangers, but for that brief time, we were joined together in our love and praise to Him.

What a gift we so often take for granted – the gift of music and voices that can move our hearts to tears as we think of His love and grace.

This trip has already been such a blessing. Those moments won’t soon be forgotten. And as I write, I  think, too, about how grateful I am for the gift of family and loved ones and the special times we get to spend together. I can’t praise and thank God enough. God has blessed all of us in so many ways. May we always sing of His greatness and praise His most Holy name.


Our most gracious and loving God, thank you for the gift of life and for time with those we love. Thank you for talented voices to sing of your goodness, your power, and your glory. May we praise your name always. Amen

He Has Shown You What is Good

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8   

Do you have certain requirements for others? If you think about it, we all have those things we refuse to compromise on that we expect from those around us.

I think I knew early on in our relationship that Wake Forest basketball and football, golf, and all other sports were going to be a big part of my life with Bob, but because I loved him and knew these things would make him happy, it has never been a sacrifice or a major issue between us. I even grew to enjoy them with him! He knew that family was very important to me and He shared those same values. Both of us expected the other to be honest, faithful, dedicated to our marriage, our children, and to God. During our 41 years together, meeting each other’s expectations was important to both of us.

As for Kelly and Scott, we always wanted them to be respectful, loving, and caring human beings, and we can proudly say they have been. In return we tried to always be the best parents we could be.

I have expected my friends to be faithful, loving, encouraging, and accepting of me for who I am and I have always tried to honor them in the same way. For the most part, all of us are willing to meet those reasonable conditions or requirements others have for us because we want to have the most loving and trusting relationships we possibly can. Of course, we all let those we care about down from time to time, and when we do, hopefully we can acknowledge it and work on being the best we can be.

But sometimes, it seems a little uncomfortable for us to think that God might have requirements for us, as well. But in all His goodness to us, it shouldn’t. He deserves our full devotion and love just as those special people in our lives do.

This verse has been called “one of the greatest passages in the Old Testament”, one that stands out among the rest. Micah, one of the minor prophets, in speaking to God’s people made it clear that God had shown them what was good, what His expectations were, and they were “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

They are just as applicable to us today as they were thousands of years ago. In the same way our requirements for others are important to us and our happiness, these three are significant to God as we show Him our love and respect.

In expecting us to act justly, God is asking that we be honest and have integrity. He desires that we do what is right and fair in our relationships with other people – to become more concerned with their well-being and to come to the understanding that every human being matters.

This verse is not referring to justice in terms of government or a court of law, but He makes it clear that our sense of justice should arise out of our hearts and out of our love for others. As for loving mercy, he desires that we show compassion, sympathy, gentleness, benevolence, forgiveness, helpfulness, kindness, and tender love toward each other. As God genuinely loves us, He expects us to do the same to those around us. And last, but not least, we are told “to walk humbly with YOUR God”.   With OUR God.Without a shadow of a doubt, we should know that we are deeply loved and cherished by Him.

Jesus said the greatest virtue of all was the one of humility as we walk with God. We should not be full of arrogance or become too self-focused, but ready to listen to the needs of others and to the desires of God. This humility requires constant communication with God through prayer and His Word. It should always be a humbling thought and a honor to come before His presence.

These three requirements are what God asks of us. And He knows that in our weakness, we may not even begin to know how to follow these divine requests. But if we ask, He will work in us to conform our hearts and our will to His. May we always “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God!” He deserves our best!


Dear God, we know that we often fail to meet the expectations that you have for us. Help us to be just and fair to others, to show kindness and mercy at all times, but especially help us to walk humbly with you. We thank you for your presence in our lives and for your abundant love and grace. May we always give you the honor, glory, and praise you so richly deserve. Amen

Be a Blessing

All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this, you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3: 8-9

Would you consider yourself an adventurous person? As we well know, some people love to do new and exciting things that are out of the ordinary. They live to take risks and do things that might be considered by others to be dangerous. They enjoy looking back with pride on the things they have done that took them out of their comfort zone, and they have a long list of things they still long to do! Are you one of those?

NOT ME! I don’t think I have an adventurous bone in my body. Probably the most adventurous things I have ever done in my life were to walk across the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain and have 2 kids! That’s as wild as it gets for me. I long for nothing more exciting than that!

I once read that being a Christian is like going on a great adventure that will take you places you never imagined you could go. Just like any adventure, it takes confidence in yourself and what you believe you can do through Him, and it takes boldness and courage to live a life of faith and to let others know that you are. Sometimes it takes a strength you didn’t even know you had to be able to step out in faith and believe. And even more, like any adventure you might undertake, it requires a “mission” frame of mind to accomplish what you desire to do and an eagerness to do it well.

God calls us on a mission to show others what being a Christian really means. We’ve been called to fulfill a purpose and that is to let our faith and love for God shine so others might see Him through us.

This verse from 1 Peter tells us how we might live such a life. We are to live in harmony and peace with each other; be sympathetic always; love others as brothers; be compassionate and humble; don’t repay evil with evil – but with blessing; keep our speech from evil, deceit, and insult; and be a blessing to everyone around us.

In other words, God calls us to be good people who take care of the needs of others by showing love, kindness, respect, and compassion. Scripture tells us that God blesses us so we will pass on those blessings to others, and hopefully with our own life experiences, we have learned to be more attentive to others and their needs, their loneliness, and their pain. May our eyes, ears, and hearts be opened and may we have the confidence to share His love and grace with others.

If we are to be bold adventurers in our faith, we can have no fear or hesitation about helping others. For fear can crowd out the good things such as happiness, clear thinking without anxiety, confidence, and mercy – things that our faith can give us and that we can share with others around us.

We need humble, gracious spirits that are not afraid to speak of our faith and belief in the authority of His Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ. We are to be bold, to step out of our comfort zones, and to do things for others and for God that show our love for Him. We are to be a blessing to others. May we show those around us what a life with Him can mean. He will join us in our mission and what an adventure it can be! What blessings we will receive along the way!


Dear God, we thank you for this adventure of life that we can share with you. We thank you for our many blessings and pray that on this day and every day, you will help us to be a blessing to others. May we be bold in our faith and show others what a life with you can be. In your most holy name. Amen

Times of Refreshing

Repent, then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

Do you ever feel weary and worn? And you just need to feel rejuvenated and alive? I think we all do. No matter how much faith we have, we can sometimes just get worn down by life.

Isn’t this the most wonderful thought that our Lord could empty our hearts and souls of all the heaviness we carry around and clear our minds and refresh our spirits! It is something we all definitely need and something we would be most grateful for!

In today’s world, the word “sin” is rarely ever spoken or heard! It is not a popular subject, and if it is, it is used by someone who is thought to be much too judgmental or intolerant. We tend to think in today’s world that anything we do is fine as long as it makes us happy, doesn’t hurt anyone else, or doesn’t cause any problems. We would probably prefer to use “evil” or “wickedness” to describe those undesirable traits we find in someone.

But shouldn’t we – from time to time – take inventory of our hearts, behaviors, thoughts, shortcomings, and even our wrongdoing? Wouldn’t it be a good thing for us to do and think about?

The answer is a resounding “Yes”, for God expects us to search our hearts, our motives, and our actions, and see if they align with His Word and His truths. We all need to do so for it is only through inner reflection and inspection that we can truly see ourselves for who we are. And as much as we don’t want to admit it, we all fall so short of God’s expectations for our lives.

A good place to start might be the “fruit of the spirit” found in Galatians 5:22. Do we find in ourselves, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Are we honest, free of envy and jealousy, do we love our neighbor, and first and foremost, do we love God? Do we have any modern day idols that keep us separated from Him, and do we try to be free from wrongdoing? Sometimes it is necessary and beneficial to just stop and take an inventory of our hearts and minds.

This verse from Acts, written by Paul, says God commands that we repent and THEN turn to Him. Repent means more than just examining ourselves and saying,” I’m really sorry I did those things and then asking God for forgiveness”. Repent means to make a change, a commitment to be different, to be transformed into a more Christ-like image.

The beauty of our Savior is that repentance and change are not necessary for our salvation and gift of eternal life. For God freely and graciously gives us His grace by the blood of Christ. He has already taken on our punishment at the cross. In return and because He loves us, hopefully we love Christ enough to want to be better, to want to be more like Him, and to seek His acceptance and approval. And if we do repent – recognize our “sins”, ask for forgiveness, and begin anew, we will receive a blessing of spiritual refreshment, peace of mind, and joy.

Times of refreshing may come from the Lord”. As we bask in the beauty and newness of life in spring, can you think of anything better or sweeter than to think that Jesus Himself wants to make us refreshed and new again! Wouldn’t it be the best feeling to get rid of all those things that we have been carrying around that weigh down our hearts and souls? After we have done so, may we rest in Him and feel refreshed and new!


Dear Lord, help us to search our hearts and find the flaws and “sins” within. We know we have your assurance that when we do, you will be waiting with forgiveness and love. Help us to become transformed by your love and grace and receive your refreshing” spirit. Amen

My Soul Finds Rest in God

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62: 1 – 2

I truly believe God places certain individuals in our lives for a reason. We may be blessed to later understand what that reason is, or we may never know.

My friend and former neighbor, Betty, whom I met about 38 years ago, is one of those special people. A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting her beloved aunt, and they both have taught me so much about trusting in God’s love and resting in His care. Some of you may remember the entry in which I wrote about meeting Aunt Annie for the first time, entitled “He Will Carry You” on March 4th. Since then, she has celebrated another birthday!  She turned 104 on Easter Sunday and is just the most amazing little woman with the most wit and charm – and just as spry as ever!

We went to visit her again last week and took gifts to celebrate her birthday. I gave her a pearl bracelet and a pink hydrangea. Betty gave her the matching pearl earrings and many baked items she had made. Aunt Annie was overjoyed and so proud, showing them off to everyone she saw and announcing that she would be wearing her new jewelry for her big birthday party on Sunday afternoon.

It was so funny when she noticed the tag was from Stein Mart, and it led to one of her many amusing stories. She announced that it was her favorite store and she would love to be able to drive there any time she wanted. But she said that her doctor had gently suggested to her son when she was 99 that perhaps she should give up driving. She said she had never been back to that doctor since and she was still a little upset with him!

Wisely, her son let her decide when to stop, and she drove a little longer before giving it up completely. But she said she is very grateful that the driver at her retirement home will take her to Stein Mart at least once a week, sometimes twice. She said she would also love to go to the mall. I told her I would take her sometime, and she liked that idea! She said she had always enjoyed shopping and she wasn’t going to give it up!

She also mentioned that she missed driving to her home church, but she smiled as she told us how the last time she drove there at almost 100 years old, it didn’t turn out so well. She explained that gratefully God was with her and because of that, she wasn’t hurt and neither was the car. But it was the last time she drove and she missed being able to! But she also made the point of telling us that she still thought she could drive there again without any problems, if she were given the opportunity.  She spoke of how much she loved this church and what it had meant to her. She was hoping to go on Sunday morning, and I hope she got the chance. For no one there would have worshiped with more enthusiasm, gratefulness, and joy.

Her daughter, son, and another niece came to go to lunch with us and we celebrated her birthday with a nice meal, a special birthday dessert, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to her, of course! She was determined to buy our lunch and we all argued about it for awhile until she won us over. But she was just amazing as she smiled and laughed the entire day.

She admitted that since our last visit, she was feeling much better and had much more “spark” and energy! That she did! I was just in awe of how easily she moves around – even getting in and out of the car, and how sharp her memory is! I left there thinking that this little woman is in much better mental and physical shape than I am!

I gave her and Betty several opportunities to have some time together alone before we left, and I took some short walks around the home. I knew they needed this time, but yet, I noticed when we left, that there weren’t the looks of sadness and longing for more time together that I had seen before. In fact, they  spoke of seeing each other again really soon, and Aunt Annie even suggested that maybe she, her niece, son and daughter might come visit Betty the next time.

Such hope she has for the future. How she can rest in God’s presence and know such peace. Her amazing spirit and enthusiasm for life is just unbelievable! You would have to see it to believe it! Nothing shakes her. Her faith is strong. She finds rest, strength, and hope in Him. He is her rock and her salvation. Her love for God is obvious, and she gives Him all the praise for her long and blessed life.

She is such a joy to everyone around her as she lifts their spirits and makes them smile! I have no doubt God placed her and Betty in my life to teach me about trusting and depending on His love and grace. Betty is 87 and she, at 104, could both be facing uncertainty at this time in their lives, but instead, they have placed their lives in His hands and they are trusting in Him. What a loving example of grace they are to so many and what a blessing they have been to me!


Our most kind and gracious heavenly Father, thank you for the special people you have placed in our lives and for what they teach us by their trust in you. May we too grow in wisdom and faith as we learn more about your love and mercy. Amen

Look to the Heavens

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

A few days ago, I had one of those nights when sleep would not come. My body was tired and ready, but evidently my mind wasn’t.

After lying there for a couple of hours, I got up and just sat in the darkness and gazed out at one of the most glorious night skies I think I have ever seen. I felt as if I was being given a glimpse into the heavens, for I could not imagine a more breath-taking sight. The stars were twinkling, sparkling, shining as I have never seen them shine before, and each of the constellations stood shimmering in perfect formation in the darkness.

And as I gazed at the scene before me, I was in complete awe of its immense beauty. It was almost as if the heavens were putting on a show for those of us who were fortunate enough to be awake at that hour to see it. And words seemed simply inadequate to express the sight that was before me and the wondrous work of our Creator’s hand.

Last night before I slept, I again looked out at the heavens as I thought of what a special weekend it had been. This scene wasn’t quite as amazing as before, but yet it was comforting to know that “God in all His power and strength had once again brought out His starry host”.

Just sitting in the silence and relishing in the beauty before me and its quiet peace, I began to think about the last few days. Kel and her family had come home for a couple of days, and we so enjoyed hiding and finding eggs, doing a scavenger hunt, and just talking, playing, and enjoying our time together. Watching the boys running around and being so happy brought pure joy!

They left late Saturday afternoon to get ready for the Easter bunny and for their church service on Sunday, and the house seemed much too quiet! We missed their cheerful voices and sweet spirits. Amazing what life and laughter children can bring into a home!

Yesterday, was a much quieter day with just the two of us. We attended a wonderful church service with the most beautiful music and uplifting sermon, and what a beautiful Easter Day it was!  My heart was “full to the brim” with the blessings of life. And there is more to come, with the anticipation of going to visit Scott and Emily later this week! It has been much too long since we have seen them, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to do so.

As I sat thinking about our family, I was so grateful that they were all sleeping in their beds, secure and happy, with no crisis or despair filling their minds and hearts with fear or concern. I was so grateful for the peaceful rest they were receiving, and I thought of how very blessed we are to have times of such quiet sleep that refresh and revive our minds and bodies.

There was total and complete silence, and I felt such calm. I realized how grateful I am for the quiet around us and for the blessed lives we have. How much we take them for granted!

I don’t know where such thoughts came from, but I began thinking of how thankful I was that I could hear no screams, no shouts, no sounds of gunfire or bombs exploding, no cries for help or pleas for mercy. I thought of how different this scene before me was from the sights we know are being played out in different parts of the world.

We don’t understand why, and yet at that moment, at that time, with the heavens opened up before me, I knew that no matter what happens around us, if we believe in His love for us, we can always feel secure in His loving presence. I pray we can always remember that promise. In the silence I prayed that those who are experiencing these difficult times will also know of  His love and mercy.

Our God created the sight before me, and just as He is in control of the heavens, He is in control of all creation. He can call out the stars to shine before us around the world at the appropriate time and in perfect formation. He knows each of them by name and “because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing.”  If our God knows this, then He knows about our world and what is taking place. He knows of our concerns, fears, and sadness that such chaos, loss of life, and senseless violence exists.

But gratefully, with this Easter season, came the reminder that our Savior and Lord will return, and we pray that when He does, all will come to know Him as we do. He holds the world in His hands, not only the stars and the heavens, but all of creation and of the times to come. How grateful I am that we can always rest in His love and grace.


Dear God, thank you for the Easter season we have just celebrated and for the gift of your Son. Thank you for the beauty and majesty of the night sky and of your world. We are humbled by your greatness, power, and strength. May we never forget that no matter how troubled our world seems that you are in control and your plan for all of mankind will be fulfilled. Thank you for our loved ones and for all the blessings of life. Amen

He Is Risen

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you.” Matthew 28: 5 – 7

Easter Sunday has arrived. I awoke in the early morning hours and said a prayer of gratitude for the gift of this day. It is the day in which we celebrate our Lord and Savior’s glorious resurrection after His death on the cross. What a gift of love and sacrifice! What a story!

Scripture tells us that on this day, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, brought burial spices to the tomb with which they could anoint Jesus’s body. As they neared the area, they were discussing how they could possibly remove the stone from the entrance.

Then surprisingly, they saw it had already been moved. As they entered and saw the empty tomb, their first thought must have been one of alarm, with fear that his body had been stolen. But the angel of the Lord quickly reassured them that this was not the case.

“Christ had risen! He was alive!” They hurried away, “afraid, yet filled with joy”, to tell the disciples the wonderful news.

But who should they meet along the way, but Jesus Himself! How they must have trembled and wept at the sight. Yet, surely now, they must have remembered His words, for He had often told the disciples and His followers that this day would come – that he would be put to death, but that He would arise to life once again in 3 days.

But to really see this risen Lord with your own eyes! Can you even imagine how difficult it would have been to believe, even if you saw Him – after the scene they had witnessed at the cross. What a sight to behold! What a glorious miracle of resurrection!

And yet this was an occurrence that happened more than 10 times over the next 40 days as Jesus appeared to the women, to His disciples, and many others before He ascended into heaven – before their very eyes again. He gave them ample opportunity to see that He had indeed risen from the grave. He conversed with them face to face. He let them touch Him, and they ate bread together. He was alive!

What a special day as we celebrate and praise our God for the blessings of life and for the gift of eternal life to come. Our hearts are full and we can be so grateful that we know this true Savior, Jesus Christ, and that we have the assurance of His love and presence always. This beautiful hymn, “Because He Lives” says it so well:

God sent His son. They called Him Jesus

He came to love heal and forgive

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

(Chorus) Because He lives I can face tomorrow

Because He lives all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives

(Verse 2) How sweet to hold a newborn baby

And feel the pride and joy he gives

But greater still the calm assurance

This child can face uncertain days

Just because He lives


(Verse 3) And then one day I’ll cross the river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain

And then as death gives way to victory

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives



Our Heavenly Father, thank you for your son, Jesus Christ – our Redeemer, our Savior, and our Lord. As we celebrate His life and death on this day, may we always be reminded of His loving sacrifice upon the cross and for the gift of eternal life with you. Amen.  

Into His Hands

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” When He had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God, and said, “Surely, this was a righteous man.” Luke 23: 46

We all see things from different perspectives, don’t we? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, writers of the four Gospels, were all present at the crucifixion of Christ and all four men recorded their stories in their own way. Luke gives these words in this verse as Jesus’s last.

How fitting that He should call out to His Father as He took His last breath. In doing so, He is expressing to Him that He has now done on the cross what God had entrusted Him to do for all mankind. And even more, He is expressing His confidence that He will soon return to His heavenly home with Him.

Luke recorded other important events that surrounded the death of Christ. He wrote that the sun stopped shining, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. He also recorded that after a Roman centurion saw Jesus on the cross and heard His words, He said, “Surely He must have been a righteous man.”  

Mark went further by saying that the centurion said, “He must be the Son of God.” We see that when many of the people who had gathered to witness what had taken place, they “beat their breasts and went away.”

Some women watched from a distance, such as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and others. What sadness, grief, and agony they must have felt to watch the Lord they loved and trusted, suffer and die.

It is recorded that another bystander, a man named Joseph, “a good and upright man who had not consented to their decision and action,” went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. He took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one yet had been laid.

The women followed him to the tomb and saw where his body was laid. Then they went home to prepare burial spices and perfumes which they would later use on Jesus’s body. (They would take these to His tomb on Sunday morning, but would find that He was no longer there. This day was their Sabbath and a day of mourning and rest for them.)

How can we even imagine what it would have been like to witness the Savior of the world being crucified? We can surely understand why as Luke wrote, that “many walked away beating their chests” in grief, anger, and disbelief.

Did some begin to believe in this Savior, such as the Roman centurion? And how did those feel who had brought this death sentence upon Jesus, when they knew He had done no grave wrongs and was innocent of all crimes?

On God’s calendar, this was the day after Jesus was crucified on the cross. What a sad day for those who loved and trusted in Him – His family, close disciples, and all followers. Did they feel as if all their hope was gone with the loss of their Savior, and that life would just continue as it had before He came? Or were they filled with even more belief that all the things Jesus had told them had come true? Were they filled with despair, or with an even deeper  commitment to serve Him and carry on His Gospel? What a confusing, sad day for them. How they must have prayed and wept.

But we know the story did not end here. A glorious resurrection was to come. Life on this earth would cease to be the same from that moment on. Life would never be the same for all believers. Soon there would be new hope for a life filled with His love and presence and for eternal life to come.

This Easter season may we too be reminded that our lives are changed because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.  Our lives are redeemed, forever free from the bondage of sin and death. We can have the assurance that He lives, and that He lives in us.


Our most gracious and loving God, what a sad day for the world when your Son was crucified on the cross for our sins. But what a glorious day to come when He was resurrected to life, and we were given new life in Him. May we always be grateful for His grace and give you all honor, glory, and praise. Amen

It is Finished

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani – which means, “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:  45 – 46

Today is Good Friday. It is the day we remember and celebrate Christ dying on the cross. How can death bring celebration? We can do so because we know what is to come. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior assures us that we too will be resurrected to a new life. He overcame death and through Him, we can have joy on Easter Sunday and live with the assurance of  His divine forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the gift of eternal life.

One of the most heartbreaking questions ever asked was this one by Jesus on the cross:  “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  

The anguish Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross seems inconceivable to us. His body had already been so weakened by the public scourging, or beating (with a leather-thronged whip which had tiny pieces of iron and bone chips tied to the ends of each throng which cut and bruised His skin), by the strike on His head with a staff, by the prickly crown of thorns that was placed on his head, by the lack of sleep and nutrition, and by the stake like nails that were driven through his wrist and ankles, fastening Him to the cross. He was mocked, spit on, and stripped naked. Because of his weakened state, it is believed that he survived only a few agonizing hours. John records His last words to be, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Our Savior and Lord had finished what His Father sent Him to do.

Many of us have probably had those times when life seemed so unbearable, we felt completely alone, and we wondered if God had abandoned us. Jesus, in human flesh, hanging on the cross, suffering and dying, was no different. He knew there would be suffering, and He was ready and willing to endure it for us, but yet, weakened, and in pain, He called out to the One who loved Him most. He gave in to His Father’s will with strong resolve, was obedient unto Him, and cried out to Him in faith. The physical pain weighed with the emotional pain must have seemed unbearable.

For in that brief time, the Son must have felt as if He had to bear the cross alone to atone for our sins. What a burden to bear. Yet, in Deuteronomy 31:6, we have this promise: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;  He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We can have the assurance that when Jesus asked the question of “why”, God was with Him, and He felt the pain of His Son’s agony on the cross. Our God was there on the hill at Calvary with Him, and we can only imagine the reunion that was to come  as He welcomes His Son back into His loving presence.

What a lesson for us, when we feel forsaken by God. We too, like Christ, can cry out to Him in prayer and in faith, and believe He will come to us with His love and mercy. For we have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We, too, can have the assurance that His loving presence will always be with us now and forevermore.


Dear God, how do we begin to thank you for the gift of your Son on the cross? He bore our sins and gave us life.  Thank you for never forsaking us, always loving us, and gracing us with your presence now and forevermore. Amen.

Love Binds Us Together

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12 – 14

One of the greatest lessons Jesus ever taught us was how we should treat others  – “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Some people just aren’t easy to love, are they? And sometimes those we love can be thoughtless and hurtful. Yet, we are told to bear with each other and even more, to love each other. As God’s chosen and dearly loved people, we are to be an example of His goodness and grace. Through His grace we are changed and through His Spirit dwelling within us, we can be empowered to live the life He desires for us – with our words, our actions, and our attitudes.

An even greater lesson we can learn from Jesus came at the end of His life, as He taught us “to forgive as the Lord forgave you.

In Luke 23:34, Jesus said these powerful words as people stood watching, sneering at him, taunting Him to save Himself, as He hung on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” 

In the midst of His pain, suffering, and the inhumane treatment He was receiving, He remembered to pray to His Father for those who had brought this upon Him. He asked His Father to forgive them. Can you even imagine such an act of forgiveness and love? Is there any greater love than to forgive someone who has caused you pain?

Sometimes it is simply not easy to forgive, but Christ has given us the power to do so; in fact, He commands it. When we refuse to do so, the bitterness grows within us, eats at us, and takes away so much joy that could have been ours. And even more importantly, as we remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through in order to forgive us and cleanse us from our sin, how can we not forgive as He did? How can we expect Him to forgive us when we won’t forgive others?

In Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing about Grace? he writes, “At last I understood: in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy.” 

Not only does God command us to forgive someone who has caused us harm, but He tells us to love them as we do. “His love will always bind us together.” What better example of His grace to do so, than His prayer on the cross?   


Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for sending your Son to teach us how to love and forgive. We are so grateful for your redeeming grace. Amen

Transformed by His Grace

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness, with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3: 18

“Often in life what appears to be an ending is really a glorious new beginning.”

Such is true in the life of Christ. His earthly life came to an end, but through His saving grace, He has given those of us who believe in Him a new life filled with hope, joy, and love.

As we have read many of the Scripture passages about the events leading up to His resurrection on Easter Sunday, it seemed to have been such a hopeless time filled with darkness and despair, but yet, we can remember that it also became a time of hope and celebration. Many of us, too, have experienced our own transformations as we have grown in faith and love.

A beautiful metaphor often used for the changes that can take place within us is the metamorphosis that takes place in the life of a butterfly. The butterfly is a symbol of life and freedom. Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, has given us both in abundance.

Just as the butterfly goes from an egg to a fuzzy catepillar in its early stages, we become transformed when we first accept Christ into our lives. In the same way the catepillar stumbles and inches its way along, spending most of its time eating, changing greatly in size, and shedding its outer layers of skin, we, too, are changing and trying to find our way.

At the time, we are young in faith, wisdom, and knowledge. We need to “feed” our faith – spend time with other believers, learn as much as we can about God and His Word, and rid ourselves of negative habits, emotions, and of anything that might hinder us from moving forward in faith. Just like the catepillar, much change is needed before we can be transformed into the creature God would have us be.

As the catepillar grows into maturity, reaching its full length and weight, it needs a protective cocoon as it rests and prepares for its next phase of life. It may seem as if little is taking place during this time of darkness when he is held within the cocoon, but in fact, the catepillar is going through a major transformation as it strengthens and changes shape.

A new creation comes forth – a beautiful butterfly with colorful wings, and even though it may not realize it can fly in the beginning, it soon rises into the air and begins its life anew. It seems miraculous that this small creature could be changed into such a thing of beauty and mystery. If God can make this transformation, can you even begin to imagine what He can do for us? The metamorphosis of the butterfly shows us in the most magnificent way what God can do in us with His power and glory.

Just as the catepillar was transformed into the butterfly, God too may mold and shape us during many painful and troubling circumstances – times of darkness and despair when we are being held captive to fear, anxiety, or grief. Through His love and presence, our faith and love can grow stronger and our dependence on Him deeper.

We, too, have the ability to become new creatures, and to become transformed into the image of Christ. Transformation is what God desires for us – for us to keep learning, to keep growing in faith, and to keep changing into the beautiful, amazing beings He knows we can be. We have His promise that with Him, life will always be richer, better, and full of His love and grace.


Our most gracious and loving God, thank you for making us into more than we ever imagined we could be. Thank you for your transforming grace to fill our lives with hope and joy through your Son, Jesus Christ. May we strive to be more like Him, as we serve and love others. Amen

Christ Humbled Himself

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5 – 8

I can still remember how difficult it was to watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ, and it has been years. I remember the agony, horror, and grief I felt as I watched the story of Jesus’s last few hours on earth unfold on screen. To read it in the Gospels is heartwrenching enough, but to watch it played out in living color right before my eyes was excruciating and overwhelming. I remember coming away from it in awe of a Savior who would love us so much that He would go through the agonizing pain and suffering of the cross.

Many scenes in the film stand out in my mind, and one of those was when Christ was brought before Pilate, the governor of Judea, the chief priests, the elders, the teachers of the law, and the entire Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish body), and He refused to speak or defend Himself.

The Gospel of Matthew records it this way: ”When accusations were made against Him, He gave no answer. Pilate repeatedly asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus again made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.”  Matt. 27:  12 -13

As I have read these words through the years, I have always wanted to cry out to Jesus and say, “Why didn’t you speak?”,  but watching it made that feeling even more intense and poignant. “Why, Jesus, why don’t you just tell them who you are? Why don’t you let them see that you are God’s Son? Why don’t you show them your power and your glory? Then you won’t have to suffer on the cross.” 

Or, even more, I wanted to cry out to God, “Oh dear God, don’t let them do this to your Son. Only you can stop this. Show them you are God; show them your power.”

But of course, that could not happen. It was ordained by God before the beginning of creation. It was God’s divine plan to save mankind. We could not have done it on our own. We all would have been lost and there would have been no salvation for the world, or redemption – no gift of eternal life. God loves us and desires that we have a life filled with His loving presence, now and forever more. It had to be.

Jesus’s refusal to speak and defend Himself was even foretold by the prophet Isaiah around 750 years before Jesus was born. Of the 300 prophecies In the OT made about Him, which were fulfilled in the New, this was one of them: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.” Isaiah 53: 7 – 8

Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for redeeming mankind from that day forward. His death was an atonement for our sins. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb for all of us and because of Him we are changed. We have been forgiven!

We should have no fear that we aren’t good enough or deserving of His grace. He proved on the cross that each one of us is much loved and cherished, and He was willing to suffer and give His own life so ours might be saved. His body became broken for each one of us so we could be made whole. He did this to glorify His Father through His incarnation, earthly life and ministry, and even more so, through his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He became a servant and a sacrifice for all men’s sins, and He lived His life humbly and lovingly.

Because of Him, we can look to the future with great confidence and assurance that we are His. And the only thing that God asks in return is that we believe in and accept His Son as our Savior. Salvation is given by grace, not because of any great works we could ever do or words we could ever say.

It was, and is, a gift of grace, greater than any love that could ever be given. May we go before Him humbly and gratefully, for Jesus did it for us. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”


Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son to atone for our sins. May we never forget or take for granted what He did for us on the cross. Thank you for the grace to live our lives in freedom from the bondage of sin and despair, and for the gift of eternal life. Amen 

Go to the Father in Prayer

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26: 36-39 

As we read and learn more about His life, we see how important it was to Jesus that He be in prayer with His Father. We see many instances in Scripture of Him going to spend time alone with God. And if ever He needed the love and strength of His Father, it was on this night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

One of the most heartfelt and tender moments of the Easter story is this one when Jesus went with His disciples into the garden to pray after their “last supper” together. He had just shared with them the events that were to come: Judas would betray Him, Peter would deny Him, and He would be arrested and tried.

And in Matthew 26:2, we see that 2 days earlier, Jesus had told the disciples that He would be handed over to be crucified. He had deep concerns for them, but now His own heart was becoming heavy with what lay before Him. And just as we often do, He began to feel much sorrow, fear, loneliness, and even desperation. With much grief, He humbly lifted up His prayers to the only One who could carry Him through.

Though Jesus was the divine Son of God, He came to earth in human flesh and here we see His humanity more clearly than ever before. We can’t begin to identify with the enormity of what He had to bear for all of mankind or know the depths of His pain or sorrow, but we can understand the fear and emotions He felt as He prayed.

We have experienced and understand times of anguish – when we have come face to face with a painful situation that we, or a loved one must bear, and we too have cried out in desperation and fear for God to take it from us. During these times, it’s as if an emotional battle is going on inside of us as we plead with Him to bend to our will – to answer our prayers that we will be spared the pain.

At times, I’m sure we’ve all eventually had to come to the place where we realized we weren’t going to get the answer we had hoped for. We finally had to recognize that it was His will that must be done, not ours. We know that more of those times will come, and when we do, may we always be able to pray for the faith, strength, and peace to carry us through.

In Gethsemane, Jesus was in a conflict of wills with His Father. He wanted to follow His will, but the weakness of His own human spirit was too great. We find in Luke 22: 43 – 44, that Jesus was in such pain, that “An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”  

He knew what was before Him, and He humbly asked in despair if there was another way. Finally, He was able to say, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

With what tenderness He prayed with the words “My Father” as He placed His trust in Him. What a moment in time when the Son of God prays to His loving Father for strength and acceptance of His will. And God provided. He sent an angel to comfort and strengthen Him, and He filled His heart with the determination, resolve, and courage to go forward.

Jesus was able to face the pain, humiliation, and ultimate death that was to come on the cross. Because of the burdens He had to bear and the pain He had to suffer, He understands our difficulties, our fears, and our pain. When our own situations seem so unbearable, what a comfort that can be to know He understands our tears.


Our most loving Father, we thank you for understanding our pain, our fears, and our weaknesses, and for filling us with strength and your assurance that your presence will always be with us, no matter what we face. May we be reminded each and every day of the redeeming grace and love of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

An Everlasting Promise

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place I am going. John 14: 1 – 4

Today is Palm Sunday, and we commemorate Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as He rode into the city on a colt with palm leaves laid out before Him and with shouts of praise. Many believed Him to be the promised Messiah and King, and they were honoring and celebrating His coming into the Holy City for Passover. But things changed quickly!

Many events took place from this day through the short week to come, as Jesus is arrested, tried and put to death. Then, next Sunday is Easter, and we will remember and celebrate His resurrection. It’s still shocking – all these centuries later – to think it could have happened in the way it did. How could the Son of God have faced such a cruel death, and how could those closest to Him begin to understand why? What could Jesus have meant when He said, “You know the way to the place I am going.”

In the week after His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus spent much time continuing to teach and prepare His beloved disciples and followers for what was to come. He understood that the time for His death was near, and He had much to  teach them before He left their presence.

It is thought that on the following Thursday, Jesus joined His disciples in a Passover meal, known as “The Last Supper”, and later that night, events unfolded that led to His arrest and crucifixion. At this final meal together, Jesus told them about what was to come: that Judas would betray Him, that Peter would deny Him 3 times, and that He would be leaving them for a time and would later return.

Even though He has tried to prepare them throughout His ministry, Jesus must have sensed how troubled and concerned their hearts and minds were, and He wanted to comfort them with these words found in John 14. He encouraged them to trust in God and in Him, but especially He reassured them that death is not the end. He promised that even though He was leaving, He was going to prepare a place for them. He made it clear that He was returning to His Father’s house and that He, in all His power and glory, would prepare a place for them to join Him. He wanted them to know that He wanted them to be with Him for all eternity and “the way to this place” was to believe in Him. What a promise for the disciples to hold on to – even if they couldn’t begin to understand.

Scripture doesn’t give us much more information about what heaven will be like other than John’s vision in Revelation 21 and 22. In reading it, you can even sense that John had difficulty finding the words to express the vision before Him. We can imagine and wonder, but it is just too inconceivable for us. Perhaps that is why God chose not to reveal more of what is to come. He knew it was beyond anything we could ever imagine!

Yet, Jesus’s words are so reassuring as we think about never being separated from God and our loved ones ever again. And what a promise in Revelation 21:4, that “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” –  only God’s goodness and glory.

We can only imagine that it will be a place filled with His indescribable love, joy, peace, and beauty. Could there be a more beautiful promise! Could there be a greater gift than the one God’s Son gave to us!

Just as the words in John 14 above gave the disciples much comfort, they should give us much, as well. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” With Him, there is more to come in this life and more beyond this world, if we will trust in Him. We are in His care and we can always depend on His love and presence.


Dear Lord, thank you for your promises that we can always trust in you and that you will keep us in your care. Thank you for gift of your Son, for His saving grace and for the promise of heaven to come for those of us who call upon your most holy name. Amen

Do You Really Know Him?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16

Have these last few days not been the most beautiful spring days? What is it about this time of year that can just make us smile and make our hearts feel a little lighter?

We can’t help but notice the transformation that is going on around us as the grass, trees, and flowers spring forth in all their beauty. And it may be transforming our spirits, as well! Doesn’t it make you more aware of His many blessings and His goodness to us? And this verse certainly reminds us even more of the good news we have to be grateful for!

John 3:16 has been referred to as the most beautiful, best known, most recited, and some say, “the greatest verse”  in all of Scripture. It speaks to the central theme of God’s Word, the Gospel message in summary: We must know Christ and believe in Him. For nothing is more important than knowing our Savior, and in doing so, we learn about the essence of God, and His immeasurable love for us. He desire was to bring us to Him, to redeem us, and to give us everlasting life. No other verse more fully expresses His unconditional love, grace, and hope He longs to give.

Who is this Jesus, this Son of God, who came to earth to show His Father’s glory, power, and love? As we think about Him, our first thoughts may turn to His persecution, His crucifixion on the cross, His painful death, and His glorious resurrection. Or we may initially think of the Christmas season, when we celebrate the newborn child in a manger who would bring love and peace to the world.

But what about the time in between? Who is this Jesus that we profess is worthy of our worship and adoration? Do we really know Him and believe in Him? 

The story of the Son of God coming in human form and living among us seems beyond our understanding. His life was a mystery and His presence on earth seems to have been viewed between 2 extremes – with either absolute wonder and adoration, or with total rejection and ridicule. Isn’t this still so true today? So many don’t know Him and His story. But for those of us who do, we long to know more. 

John describes Him this way in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Old Testament prepares the way for the Son of God to come to earth as our Messiah, and the New Testament reveals who He is, in the person of Jesus Christ. By His coming, He made a way for us to be worthy to come to God. For Scripture tells us that the only way to the Father is through the Son. Through His Son, God not only chose to show His will and His truths, but Christ revealed the heart of God and His love for us.

God sent His Son to live among us so He could understand what it was like to be us – to experience life with all its challenges and emotions – and to be able to take our burdens upon Himself. What comfort to know that our God understands our joys and our sorrows. And in His knowing, He brings us peace, contentment, and joy as we trust in His presence.

As we read Scripture, we are gaining knowledge about the life of Christ, but even more, if we open our hearts, we will begin to know Him for the Savior and Lord He is. As He touches the deepest places in our hearts, He will transform us into new beings, His new creations, filled with assurance, love, and hope.

As we learn more about His life, we will become even more in awe of the Son of God coming to live among us!  For the world and life itself has been forever changed. He put aside His deity and became human. He lived a perfect, selfless, obedient life and He died being selfless and obedient to His Father.

May we get to know this Savior more. May we learn about His life, His servant heart, His teachings, His miracles, His humility, His caring and compassionate spirit, and His love for each one of us. For isn’t that what is most important? We must know Christ and believe in Him.  

*Reading the Gospels can give us so much insight into the life of Christ.  Beth Moore’s Bible study called Jesus, the One and Only and Phillip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew are 2 other wonderful resources that can help us see into the heart, mind, and life of this Savior.


Our most gracious God, there are no words to express our gratitude for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. May we come to know Him more, honor Him, become transformed by His love and grace, and praise His most holy name. Thank you for new life in this season of spring and in our hearts as we remember and celebrate His life. Amen 

We Are Children of God

He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1: 10 – 13

When our children were growing up, one of the hardest things for me to deal with as a parent were the times when they felt rejected by others. It was painful to know that they were being tossed aside, ignored, mocked, or teased by their friends and classmates – even if it was for just a short time.

We, as parents, hurt for them because we have experienced it ourselves – as children and as adults – and we understand how they feel. It’s human nature for all of us to want to be accepted, valued, and appreciated by those around us, and when we aren’t, it can cause distress.

With age, thankfully, we’ve gained a little more wisdom and realize that sometimes we just have to accept that life isn’t always just and fair. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch our children going through these painful situations. We want to take their hurt and insecurities away and make them feel better, but sometimes we just can’t.

As we remember His time on earth, I can’t help but think of how Jesus must have felt. Even though He was God’s Son, He came in human form with all the emotions that we experience. He knew how He would be received, but I wonder if we are ever prepared for the pain of rejection.

It was prophesied in Isaiah 53: 3-4  almost 500 years earlier: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrow. . .”

For centuries God’s people had been told that He would send them a Messiah, a King who would set up His kingdom and make all the wrongs in the world right. John the Baptist prepared the way for him, and yet when Jesus came, despite His marvelous signs, His authoritative teaching, even His death and resurrection, many of His people did not recognize or receive Him. He was not what they had expected or wanted – not a lowly child born in a manger. They wanted a Messiah, a royal king who would come and deliver them from their Roman bondage and set up an earthly kingdom of peace and freedom, in which they would be permitted to help rule.

When Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, many began to believe that He was the One, but then when He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, and crucified on a cross, some of those same followers stopped believing that He was the promised Messiah. He felt the pain of their rejection, and He felt the pain of the cross for us.

Yet, He came with faith in His Father that He would do what He was sent to do. As His own people rejected him, God made it possible for the Gentiles to receive the message, and we too became His people.

We know this Savior. We acknowledge this Messiah and welcome Him into our hearts. We are His children because of our faith in Him.

So many in the world still reject Him, after all his miraculous signs, after all His wise teachings, after He gave His life for us on the cross, after His resurrection and entry into heaven with His Father, and after all His love and blessings to us, they still fail to recognize Him as our Savior and eternal King.

How painful that rejection must feel – not so much for Himself, but for those He longs to save!  How sad for so many to miss out on His loving presence and the life only He can give. If they only knew that what His people once hoped for and wanted will someday come about – a kingdom in which He will reign with peace, freedom, justice, and everlasting life.


Our eternal God and Creator of heaven and earth, thank you for sending your Son to us, to give us the gift of your grace and love. Help those who don’t recognize Him to open their hearts to Him and receive His redeeming love. May our hearts recognize the significance of our Savior’s life and death in our own lives as the Easter season approaches. Thank you for the gift of life and its many blessings. Amen

Praise For the Son of God

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna (praise) to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21: 6 – 9

Nothing marks the coming of spring quite like Easter! They’re both arriving a little later this year, but what a beautiful time of year with all its newness of life.  

Our boys are getting excited as they anticipate dying eggs, hiding them, and of course, the coming of the Easter bunny. But they are also looking forward to this Sunday, which is Palm Sunday, as they watch the choir walk down the aisle at their church, singing and waving their palm branches to mark the beginning of Holy Week.

They remember this special day from last year when Miles was a part of the Children’s Choir and participated in the event. It was a moving experience, but the real significance of this day goes beyond their understanding.

And isn’t that true for many adults, as well? There are many who believe, but yet, they don’t know the Easter story as told in Scripture, and how sad that there are so many who don’t know this Savior who could change their hearts and their lives with His love and grace.   

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, marking the week before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All through the Old Testament, the promise of a Messiah to enter Jerusalem and to reign over His people had been prophesied. Amazingly, the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt and His way was paved with palms is one of over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This one is from the prophet, Zechariah, given almost 500 years before Jesus’s birth:

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9   

The people watching this procession hoped this might be their King and the fulfillment of God’s promise to them. They had heard his teachings and many had seen His miracles. They welcomed Him as they would have any victorious King when he returned from battle, with the laying of their cloaks and palms along the road.

These branches were a symbol of joy and victory and were often placed on a grave as a sign of eternal life. What symbolism for what the Son of God would bring to the world.

Coming in humility and peace, He was quite different from the powerful King the people had been expecting. Yet, they wanted to believe He was their Messiah and they welcomed Him with their praise and honor. How quickly this joyful celebration would end, leading to His arrest and to the agony of the cross. But we know there’s more – a glorious resurrection is to come.

As we prepare our hearts to remember and celebrate this special day on God’s eternal calendar, may we each reflect on what Easter means to us and to our lives. May we be open to seeing this Savior anew in a way that brings awe, joy, and gratitude to our hearts for the gift of His grace. May this truly be a season of newness and an awareness of the honor, praise, and glory our Lord and Savior deserves for His gift of eternal life.


Our most loving and gracious God, may we never forget the gift of your Son on the cross, the sacrifice and pain He endured for each of us, and His saving grace with the promise of eternal life. May our hearts be filled with love, humility, and gratitude during this season of remembrance. In the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen

The Gift of Love

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4: 12

Our amazing God has taught us how to love by His own love for us. He has proven over and over that His love for us is trustworthy, everlasting, and unconditional and that His promises will always stand. He has poured His blessings upon us and given us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth with His saving grace. He has shown us that we, too, must demonstrate our love for others through our actions and deeds.

Love requires devotion, faithfulness, tenderness, gratitude, and a genuine desire to put the wants and needs of others above our own. God continues to teach us about love in the most amazing ways, and sometimes He even uses the heart of a child to show us what is truly important.

I was reminded of this last night as Kelly and I talked on the phone about her day and the little things the boys did to make her birthday so sweet and memorable. They made birthday cards for her, decorated the kitchen with balloons, put candles on her cake, and even came up with their own gift ideas.

Miles gave her a book he had bought at his Book Fair at school last week that he said looked a little like the Baby Sitters’ Club series she loved as a child. He said when he saw it, he thought of her and thought she might like it. Cole had searched through his bin of art supplies, found a cone shaped cup, painted it with flowers and trees, and wrote “Happy Birthday, Mom” to give to her. He knew she likes his paintings so he felt confident she would love it!

Kelly said it was so amazing to think that in their minds and hearts they thought this was the best way to show their love for her and that this was all that was needed. And it was more than enough!

Of course, it meant more to her than anything they could have ever bought. They came up with these things on their own without any suggestions or encouragement from any of us. It simply came from their hearts to give her a gift they thought would make her happy. She and I talked about how this might be the greatest, most loving gift she will ever receive from them – or maybe from anyone else. For when will she ever receive such sweet, innocent gifts again? Such simple ones, but gifts that meant sacrifice, time, effort, thought, and the desires of her little boys to give of themselves to her.

We were all proud of Miles for he could have used the money to buy himself a book at his school’s Book Fair, but he chose to buy her one instead. He sacrificed what he wanted for her. And he couldn’t have been more excited about the $2 used book than if he was giving her a diamond necklace from Tiffany’s! It was his personal gift to his mom and he was so proud that he had thought of it and purchased it on his own.

The same was true of Cole. He had put his heart and soul, his time, and his efforts into making his gift the best one he could make, and he waited with much anticipation and pride to give it to her. Such gifts of love. How priceless they were and nothing could have meant more!

These little acts of kindness and gifts are not unique to just our boys. We all have experienced it, either by giving them as a child to our parents or to someone important to us, or our children giving them to us. But how we forget what is truly important, and what these simple, thoughtful acts of love can mean. We often keep them, stuff them away, and bring them out years later with such fond memories. But may we never take for granted the love with which they were made or given.

After I hung up the phone, I thought of how much we too often “put away from our minds and hearts” the greatest gift of love ever given to us as found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”  

How little we think of the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. For God so loved us with such a pure, perfect, unconditional love that He wanted to give us the gift of His grace and eternal life. He gave us this gift of love, a gift given at great cost with the death of His Son on the cross.

May we never take this gift for granted and know that with His death and resurrection, “His love has been made complete in us.” With His Spirit living in us, we too can love others with a more sincere and loving heart.


Our heavenly Father, we thank you for teaching us how to love and for loving us so completely and unconditionally. Thank you for all the blessings of life you have given us, and may we always give you the honor, glory, and praise for the gift of of your Son and His saving grace. With the Easter season upon us, may we prepare our hearts to remember and be grateful for the gift of your love and grace. Amen

Clothed With Strength and Dignity

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31: 26 – 27

Happy Birthday to our daughter, Kelly!

We hope you know how very proud we are of you, Kel! You are such a loving wife and mother, so devoted to your family and their happiness, and we could have never asked for a more wonderful daughter! You have always brought us so much love and joy, and you have especially been such a source of strength these last few years. You have reminded us when we needed it most to stay strong, to not give up on hope, and to not miss out on the joy around us because of anxious worrying.

We are so very grateful for your constant love, support, and encouragement. We can’t tell you enough of how proud we are of the young woman you are and for the role you have taken in your family and church to make God such an important part of your lives. The values you are teaching your boys, the example of faith you are giving and the love you are showing are the greatest gifts you could give your family. You are indeed “clothed in strength and dignity”.

You have such grace and confidence; but yet your laughter and enthusiasm for life adds so much joy to our lives. You are and always have been such a gift and one of our greatest blessings. We love you!

Scripture tells us that each one of us who believes in Jesus Christ and has His Spirit living in us is “clothed with strength and dignity.”

But yet we may not always have the confidence of believing in such a promise. Those around us may try to make us believe that our value depends on our appearance, our success, or our wealth, but to God these things have little significance. Our life experiences may have also left us with little confidence in ourselves, but God did not intend for us to have an insatiable need for affirmation from others or for our hearts to be filled with the insecurity, shame, or guilt that so many of us do.

He longs to cover those hurtful places with His love and grace. He desires that we let Him clothe us with His love, with dignity, with self-worth, and with acceptance and pride in who we are and who He made us to be. When we trust in Him and live in His loving presence, He can transform our hearts to live our lives with integrity, assurance, contentment, and joy.


Dear God, thank you for the gift of life and for the assurance of your loving presence with us. May your Word remind us that you long to fill us with your strength and comfort. May your Spirit empower us to believe in ourselves and to know that we are worthy of respect. May we speak wisdom and instruction to our children and may our lives always glorify you. Amen   

Wisdom Gives Patience

 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19: 11

Patience with others! Don’t we all need more of it!

So much is going on in our lives, there is so much stress, and uncertainty, and we often tend to overreact when we are provoked or irritated. It is so easy to snap back, to say something in return without thinking, and to regret it after doing so. And then we often have a tendency to hold on to those words that were spoken to us, hold a grudge, and keep the hurt feelings.

It is good to look at Scripture and be reminded that God wants and commands us to love others, and as so eloquently stated in 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7, “Love can overlook any fault”.

We just have to realize that there are many things that we are better off just letting go and giving them to God to deal with, whether it is with the problem or the person. He will deal justly with those who offend or hurt us and we need to place our anger, frustration, and pain with Him.

Another wise proverb  – “the wisdom of God gives us patience, and it is to his glory to overlook offenses.Easier said than done, isn’t it?

In our fast paced world, sometimes it is tempting to respond quickly and harshly without weighing our words. But we all know from experience that it is better to choose our speech very carefully in certain conversations. We may even need to learn to discipline ourselves to use restraint. We need to think about our attitudes toward others and especially keep from over reacting in some situations. And sometimes we just need to choose which battles are worth fighting and ask God for a greater ability to look beyond those who choose words to harm us.

Something good can even come out of these situations as we realize God may have a lesson to teach us through these criticisms or offenses to help smooth and shape us into the individuals He desires us to be. His spirit within us is ready, willing, and able to give us understanding and wisdom in every situation if we will only ask Him to do so.

We also need to think about our own words and the implications they might have on others. Do we ourselves remember to always speak with kindness, even when we are the ones who are tired or stressed?

I once read that God places certain people in our lives to bring out the best in us. Ever thought about that? Makes you wonder, “Am I one of those who needs someone to make me better, or am I one of those who can bring out the best in someone else?” Definitely something to think about!


Our most gracious and loving God, give us the wisdom to have patience with others and the ability to overlook offenses. Help us to be kind in our responses and to weigh our own words carefully as we speak to those around us. Help us to be the loving individuals you would have us be and to share your love and grace with others. Amen

Never Be Lacking in Zeal

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11

We have been staying with the boys for a few days while their parents are out of town! It has been so much fun, but Bob and I admit it – we are tired! These boys go at it in everything they do! We aren’t used to these early busy days – rising at 6, cooking breakfast, making sure they are dressed, teeth and hair brushed, lunches packed, and Bob taking Miles to school at 7:30. Thankfully, Cole has spring break this week, or I would be going in the opposite direction with him. But since he has been home with us, he has been ready to play, and play we have! Then when Miles gets home, we do homework and play more!

We feel so privileged that we are able to do this and so grateful for this time together. At 7 and almost 5, these little guys are so full of energy, enthusiasm for life, and they keep us busy, but it is the greatest gift!

Saturday was a really special day! They both had soccer games, we packed a picnic lunch, ate in between games, and loved watching them run and play. They took their own participation so seriously, but yet they enjoyed every minute of it with their teammates. And they loved us cheering them on! One thing we can definitely say about both of them is that in every thing they do, they do it with enthusiasm and diligence. They truly give it their all, and “are never lacking in zeal!”

What a good reminder this verse is for us as Christians to be just as devoted and eager to keeping our spiritual zeal for Christ, for the Word of God, and for our church. Just like many other things in our lives, our faithfulness to God and our enthusiasm for Him may ebb and flow.

We may become less interested, or too busy, or our faith may lose importance if things are going well in our lives, or even the opposite – if there are overwhelming difficulties we need to deal with that take up our time and energy. We may have seasons when we become less focused on spiritual things and are more concerned with our own lives and the things of this world. We may not take the opportunities to spend time with God, attend church, read Scripture, or serve Him by helping others. It is so easy to become complacent or even lazy about our faith.

We may need to refresh our spirits from time to time and discipline ourselves to make time for God when we realize our priorities may have become misplaced. Prayer and time with Him will reinvigorate us and keep our zeal and spiritual fervor alive. God is so good to us and pours down His many blessings daily upon us.

If our hearts are consistently filled with gratitude and love for Him, we can never forget Him or lay Him aside. He deserves our honor and praise. He deserves our heartfelt devotion and love. He deserves our best. He deserves us giving Him our all!


Dear God, we thank you for your faithfulness to us even when our own devotion to you may waver from time to time. Help us to keep our eyes focused on you and not become distracted by the things of life. May we always be zealous in our desire to worship you, serve you, and honor you with our lives. Amen

Running the Race

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9: 24 – 25

Kel recently sent the cutest picture of Miles and his friends, Matthew, on their bikes, Stephanie on her scooter, and Cole on his big wheel. Instead of the Tour de France, they decided to name it the Tour de Falgar (from the name of their street), and Cole said he was the pace car and would get the race started! They looked as if they were having so much fun! And we all know how everyone loves a good race!

When Paul wrote the above verse in his letter to the church in Corinth, he knew the analogy of a race was something his readers could relate to, as the Olympic Games were founded in Greece and the Isthmian Games were held in Corinth every 2 years. He knew they would understand the concept behind the purpose of a race – to do your best to win the prize!

To accomplish this goal, they would know that a participant would need to become more disciplined by practicing their skill and undergoing strict training. They would need the strong desire to win, and they would especially need the motivation to work hard and keep their eyes on the prize.

In this verse, he is using this analogy to remind these early believers and all the ones to follow, that just as these athletes must do, we must become committed to following Jesus Christ throughout our lives. In order to do so, he knew we would need strong spiritual training, the deep desire to follow Him with all our hearts, and the motivation to live out our Christian principles.

To be more disciplined, he knew we would need to stay connected to God and to strive to be more Christ like. In order to do so, we must pray, read His Word, and spend time with Him. We must fellowship with other believers to encourage each other and to seek ways to serve others. He knew that just as an athlete must have a desire to win, we must have the desire to know that we are living our lives in a way that would be pleasing to God, to have a relationship with Him, and to share His love and grace with others.

We too must work hard and keep our eyes on the “prize”. We must have the motivation to be the best we can be. We can’t settle for just being in the “race” by proclaiming ourselves to be a Christian. We must do more than just showing up. We must know Him, learn His Word, and live His truths, and we must seek to help others to become committed followers of Christ. If we do so, then we will be victorious, and the “prize” and “crown” will be ours – the gift of eternal life with Him.


Our most gracious and loving God, thank you for making your Word so simple for us to understand. You desire only one thing, and that is, that our hearts be fully committed to loving and serving you through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to keep our eyes focused on you and the prize before us. We thank you for your saving grace and for the gift of eternal life. Amen

Remain in Me

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15: 1, 4 -5

If we were asked today, what have been your greatest accomplishments in life thus far, how would you answer? I am sure it would give us pause, and then we might consider things that have brought us a sense of pride, such as in our jobs, our communities, our churches, or our families. We might name our children whom we have raised to be good adults, or we might even list material things, such as having enough money to be able to care for our families or to retire, or being able to buy a home or start a business of our own.

Surely all these things seem to be worthwhile endeavors, but in God’s eyes, would any of these be major accomplishments worthy of His praise? A humbling thought, isn’t it?

This verse makes us realize what God considers most valuable or important in our lives, and that is that our primary desire and purpose should be to bear fruit for Him.

I love the different analogies found in Scripture: Christ as the Shepherd, and we, as His lambs; God as the Potter, and we, as the clay; Christ as the bridegroom waiting for His bride – we, His believers who will spend eternity with Him when He comes for us; and this one, God as the Gardener, Jesus as the vine, and we believers, as His branches.

This one is equally as beautiful and is found as part of Christ’s discourse to His disciples at the Last Supper shortly before He was arrested and crucified. It was His final message to His faithful followers, and He knows how important it is that they understand that He is leaving them and that they must “remain in Him” by faith.

He presses upon them the need to love one another and find comfort in each other. He knows they will face many hardships as they carry on His gospel, and He wants to prepare them for what lies ahead. He especially wants them to understand that they will not be alone, that He will always be with them.

He compares Himself to a vine and the disciples and all other believers as branches who must remain in Him to bear fruit – fruit that will carry His Word throughout the land, will help others to know His love and grace, and will bring peace, hope, and joy to many.

What a beautiful message not only for his disciples, but for us as well, as we are reminded that we must always abide in Christ, to let Him live in our hearts. “Our branches” need to be connected to “the vine” at all times, for without Him, we can do nothing in and of ourselves.

It is the life of Christ flowing through us that produces the kind of fruit the Father desires. The branch has no life within itself. It draws its life from the vine. There is nothing more worthless than a dead branch that is not connected to the vine and does not bear fruit. We believers, like branches of the vine, are weak and insufficient to stand alone. We need Him to help us to honor God, to do good, to live the exemplary life we desire, and especially to guide us as we let others know about His grace and love.

It is in His divine power that we live and have our being. It is only through Him that “the vine” and His Word can spread throughout the earth. May we always “remain” in Him.


Dear Lord, thank you that you live in us and stay connected to us, for without you, life would have such little meaning. May our lives bear fruit for you and glorify your most holy name. Amen

Groans That Words Cannot Express

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

I loved becoming a mother. I remember from the very beginning how blessed I felt to be given the gift of a child. Not one, but two wonderful blessings.

It’s amazing how you can become so in tune with your infants and can usually know exactly what their needs are. But I can remember with such despair to this day, a few times when my little ones would cry uncontrollably for long periods of time, and I could not console them no matter what I did. I knew something was wrong, that something was hurting them, but I had no way of knowing what it was. I remember the horrible feeling of hopelessness, wanting to comfort their little bodies and make whatever discomfort or pain they were having go away, but all I could do was lovingly hold them in my arms and whisper soothing words until they were calm once again.

I am sure we, even as adults, have had these times when we had no words to express to God how we were feeling. But He knew before we were even created, that these times would come and that we would need more than our own weak faith and resolve to get us through painful situations. And like a loving, caring parent, He knew we would need His love and assurance to calm our anxious hearts.

Jesus, in trying to comfort His disciples and followers before His death and crucifixion, said these words, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14: 16)

Gratefully, when we accepted Him into our hearts, God sent this Spirit to live in each of us to give us His strength and comfort during these difficult times. God knows our pain and He understands our weaknesses and frailties. His “Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

In this sense, groaning means “begging with tears when there are no words, or a strong desire to express ourselves when we cannot speak.” When we are weak, His Spirit intercedes on our behalf to help us, and we become strong. This Spirit within us becomes the translator of the thoughts on our hearts and the unspoken pain and turmoil within us, and when we let His power flow through us, we are filled with His love, strength, and comfort to get us through these painful circumstances.

I am sure we all have known these times when we couldn’t call out to God. We just couldn’t find the words to pray or know what we should pray for. Sometimes our own feelings of helplessness as we watch a loved one in emotional or physical pain is just too great; we don’t know how to pray, and we just need to surrender to His will.

His Spirit will help us. It will get us through the difficult and painful situations and even after these times have passed, it will renew and reinvigorate our minds and bodies with an infusion of God’s love, hope, and peace.

What a loving Father who wants to comfort us with His mercy and grace.


Dear God, you know our needs before we even express them. Thank you for giving us your Spirit to comfort us and grant us your peace during times of sadness and despair, for you know and understand our weaknesses and the desires of our hearts for our loved ones. Amen

Use Your Gifts Wisely

Each of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4: 10

When I retired about 10 years ago, I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do that I had never had the time nor opportunity to do. One of those was that I wanted to take an oil painting class.

I had gone to a couple of classes years ago, but had never pursued it further. My sister-in-law, Carol, who constantly inspires me with the amazing portraits and works of art she does, encouraged me to give it another try in a class she  has been attending. It is held at an area church where the couple who sponsor the class attends. They chose years ago to offer the classes in memory of their disabled son as a way to honor his life by helping others find the joy in painting that he did. Various professional artists come each month to teach, and the sponsors provide all the materials at a minimal cost. Devotions are given before each class and it is a wonderful way to fellowship with others as we enjoy the quiet, peaceful atmosphere.

I was really looking forward to trying to master the technique and learn all I needed to know. I had no visions of grandeur or excellence, but I just hoped it would be something that I could do well. But as much as I wanted it to be, I realized pretty quickly that it was not a gift God has given me. Even so, I will return to the remaining classes and give it my best. Carol got me here! If nothing else, I can watch her and be in total awe of her talent!

Our class was made up of about 20 people, and most had been painting for years. Everyone was so encouraging and helpful and I really enjoyed our time together. There was such a calmness and serenity in the room as I saw these blank canvases become magnificent works of art with just a few deliberate strokes of a brush. Their creations were filled with intricate detail, vibrant colors, and incredible eye appeal! I thought of how much satisfaction their talent must give these individuals and how much joy they must bring to others. How humbling it must be, to have the gift of being able to recreate God’s handiwork in all its beauty!

I recently read that most of us have never tapped into the potential God has given us. We may recognize our talents, but most of us don’t use them to the extent we could or should for the purpose God intended. And some may think they haven’t been given any, but when God looks at us, He sees us as individuals who are beautifully and wonderfully created and gifted. He gives each of us our own unique talents and gifts that make us who we are and that set us apart from others. We know that He has certainly given some individuals more than others, and some talents are much more profound, but we all have been gifted in some way.

It’s amazing to realize that He gave us different abilities in order to complement each other and that when we bring them all together, we can accomplish wonderful things for Him. He wants us to discover things about ourselves that we may not even know we are capable of doing. Or He may help us rediscover a gift that we have taken for granted and seldom use, thinking it is not particularly beneficial, when it fact He intended for us to use it to serve Him. He wants us to look for opportunities to do things that may stretch us beyond what is comfortable or natural for us and when we do, amazingly, He will make it possible for us to do more than we ever imagined.

Whatever talents we have been given, it is His desire that we use them in a way that would be pleasing to Him. We are the manager of those gifts and whether they are large or small, we need to value them, for how we use them matters to God. When He created us, He gave us a “trust” and made an investment in us, and He expects us to return that investment in a loving, unselfish way by using our gifts.

What a deep sense of satisfaction we will have when we serve His purpose with the talents and abilities He has given us. And if we use them wisely, He will bless our faithfulness to Him even more.


Dear God, thank you for the talents and abilities you have entrusted us with and help us discover those we aren’t even aware of. Guide us in using them wisely to glorify and honor you. Amen

Our Inheritance

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16: 5

Some food for thought on this day: What completely satisfies you and would make you 100% content with life if you had more of it? What would you say would be the key to your happiness?

The answers to these questions could be quite different depending on whom we are asking. Some would argue that it can only be found if they could reach the height of success in their careers; others would declare having enough life savings to make them feel secure, or to know their families’ security would be safe in the future. Some want fame and notoriety, or positions of authority or power; others would say it is only worldly possessions or wealth which can truly make one feel happy and content. Some might say it can only be found in loving relationships with  family and friends, and still others believe that true satisfaction can only come by giving to others to make their lives better and in serving mankind. Do any of these things truly fill our longings and the emptiness inside? Or do we need more?

In this verse, David claims satisfaction for the soul quite differently. He declares that everything in life pales in comparison to God Himself. He voices the joy he has experienced in his life because of his trust in God and His fellowship with Him. He compares his “portion”, or this valuable birthright of being called a child of God, to another inheritance – the land of Canaan, which was divided among the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land. This land was a tangible gift, one they could recognize was being given for their faithfulness, but yet it was also a symbolic gift in that God was promising to secure their futures. God made the same promise to David and to us for all eternity.

Like the gift to David and the Israelites, we too have been blessed with an inheritance beyond anything this life has to offer. It includes this beautiful creation God has given us, but it is so much more. Our gift lies in Jesus Christ to ensure not only our futures, but our present.

What confidence and joy we can have in His presence. He is our portion and our cup, supplying all our needs, and He is our inheritance in this life and in the life to come. As children of God, we will be given all the grace that Jesus Christ wished to bestow upon us. We never have to be worried that it will be taken from us, nor will we be banished from it. We belong to Him. We have no greater gift than for His presence to live within us and give us His mercy and strength. In Him we can experience the fullness of life, for He has so much goodness and love to give.

 “The lines have fallen for me” – David is voicing his ability to rest with an assurance and peace in God alone. He tells us that we can be content with God and find great delight in Him. But it is impossible to know and see God’s goodness without spending time with Him. We must seek Him, love Him, and delight in His inheritance to us. Only then can life truly be happy and fulfilling without the worries or cares of this world.

I am so grateful for the gift of faith that has been handed down to me by my parents, grandparents, and other ancestors before them. There is no greater gift than that of His love and grace. I am so proud that Bob and I have been able to pass this legacy on to our children, and that they, in turn, will pass it along to their children and future generations.

We pray yours will do the same. We have all been truly blessed by His loving “portion” and know that only He can completely satisfy our hearts and souls.


Our heavenly Father, what a beautiful inheritance you have given us. You are our portion, our cup, our lot in life and what greater gift could there be! And what more could we possibly want or need? May we embrace you, and delight in your love, grace, and goodness. In your most holy name. Amen

*If you are reading these Daily Devotions in 2015, you may want to scroll forward to April 13 – 20th and come back to April 2nd at a later date. These entries include Scripture passages about the Easter story. (In 2014, Easter Sunday was much later – on April 20th.)