This is a Test

Do you think God trusts you? No, really. Do you think God trusts you? Has God ever tested your faithfulness to him? Would you know it if he has? Do you think you passed the test? Hmm. Let’s think about this for a minute.

If you read the Bible, you will find that God tested people. And he didn’t let them know their struggles were a test. A test of their faithfulness. Imagine the nerve. But he did it anyway. After all, God alone is God. He knows our hearts. He knows if we will turn to him in those moments of darkness. And he knows if we will turn away from him.

In Exodus 15, God decided to test the Israelite people as they were settling into a new camp. Oh. He didn’t tell them about his plan, but he mapped out the requirements for the test.

  • Listen to the voice of God
  • Do what is right in God’s eyes
  • Obey God’s commands
  • Keep all of God’s decrees

Seems simple, right?

Listen to the voice of God. What does God’s voice even sound like? Have I ever heard him speak? Have I heard his voice? Would I know it was God if he spoke to me?

Now. God may have spoken audibly to Moses. But God also spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He has never spoken to me in an audible voice. And I’ve never seen a burning bush.

However, I do have a conscience. I know when I do right. And I know when I do wrong. I know when my heart is pounding out of my chest and I have to choose which path to take. Which words to say or not to say. That is God speaking to me. I must listen closely and not close my ears and heart to God. I must listen to God.

Do what is right in God’s eyes. If I’m listening to God and obeying him, then I am doing right. If I’m not listening to God, all bets are off as far as what I may or may not do. And if I’m not listening to God, then who am I listening to? And does the speaker I’m following speak the truth? Would I know the truth if it hit me smack in the face?

Obey God’s commands. I think immediately of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

  1. You must not have any other gods before me
  2. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind
  3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God
  4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You must not murder
  7. You must not commit adultery
  8. You must not steal
  9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor
  10. You must not covet

But those aren’t the only commands God gives. There are many, many commands that God gives in the Bible. God commands us to avoid certain things, to beware of specific evils. We are commanded to do things and not to do things. The Word of God is full of commands. We only need to look for them.

Keep all of God’s decrees. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the decrees of God are his eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose. They comprehend all things that come to pass. What does all of that even mean? One of God’s decrees that pretty much sums up everything says: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them (the Iraelites) the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:25-26


And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28


And then there’s Job. God told Satan to test Job. And he gave clear instructions on how the test was to be conducted. He told Satan what he would allow and what he would not allow. So Satan obeyed and carried out those tests as if it were his only job. He made Job’s life miserable and destroyed everything Job had worked for. He killed all of Job’s children and his livestock. Only a handful of servants were spared. Yet Job persisted in his faith in God. His faith held firm. His trust in God withstood every test that Satan threw at him.

How do I know that some of the troubles that come my way aren’t designed by Satan? Under God’s approval. I’ll never know this side of heaven. I’m not sure it matters who designs the test. God or Satan. The point of the test is to prove my faithfulness to God. I wonder. Would I be found as faithful as Job if I were put to the limit, as he was? I pray that I will be found as faithful as Job. Will you?

One Nation Under God

Yes. We are a nation under God. Whether we act like it or not. Whether we live like it or not. God is still and always will be in control.  Oh. We’re living in troubled times. That’s for sure. Racial injustice. Unnecessary killings. Mob violence. Anarchy. Selfish demands. Pandemic. Unemployment.

But we are still a nation under God. He is in control. He is allowing this mess to happen. He knows exactly why these things are taking place. And he is letting us run rampant in our sin.

We’ve done this to ourselves. You know that.

Oh. This country was founded on religious freedom. Our forefathers left one country to find a place where they could freely worship God. How far we’ve come from that. It seems that now we worship anything but God. Anything and everything has become our god.

Will we ever learn? Will we ever fall on our knees and repent? As a nation, will we ever put God first? When was the last mass revival of people repenting and turning to God? We keep digging our nation deeper and deeper into sin.

We are warned in the Bible that there will be all kinds of trouble in the last days. The thing is. The people who lived in Bible times thought they had it bad. They were sure that Jesus was coming back soon. And look. It’s been how many years since that time? Thousands of years. And the times are even worse now.

You should know that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

2 Timothy 3:1-5


The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. Numbers 14:18


Israel was also a nation under God. And they disobeyed him time and time again. Look where it got them. They were torn apart. Two separate kingdoms. Yes. There were times when God gave them what they wanted. They wanted their own king. Why? Because they wanted to be like all the other nations. Instead of being content with serving God and listening to the prophet’s words, they wanted a king. So God gave them a king. And that king failed them.

God had promised to bless the nation of Israel for generations. He doesn’t renege on his promises. But they lost faith in him. They turned to other gods. They lived for their own pleasure and not for God. And after a time, their neighbors attacked them. Took them prisoner in their own land. Made them pay heavy taxes. Made them slaves. And finally. Finally. They remembered the times of their ancestors. When life was good. They knew the stories of how their ancestors lived in peace with themselves and with their neighboring countries and with God. So they turned back to God. Repented of their sins. He heard their cries and forgave them. They regained their freedom and their good name. Aahhhh. Life was good. Again.

But as time went by. The cycle repeated itself. Over and over. They walked away from God. Thought their fake idols were better than the real God. They ignored God’s leading. They did their own thing, because it was easier than obeying God. So, here we are today. The sins of the fathers have crept into every generation.

No. We’re not the Israelites. They were God’s chosen people, but they chose not to stay faithful to him. We in this country feel special. We feel chosen. We believe we’re the greatest nation on earth. We’re only great if we are following God’s leading. But no. We removed prayer from schools and called it separation of church and state. We kill unborn babies and call it freedom of choice. We approve every form of lifestyle and call it pride. We’ve disregarded morals and call it authenticity. We worship created things rather than the Creator and call it good.

The thing is. God will not impose his will on us. He will not make us repent. Oh. He could. But he won’t. We have to want to change. We have to accept the outreached hand of forgiveness before it’s too late.

We can change.  One household at a time. One heart at a time. Let’s truly be one nation under God.

Disappointment

I’m disappointed. In people. When they say something or do something. Or they don’t say something or don’t do something. They don’t meet my expectations. And most of the time, I didn’t realize I had those expectations until they aren’t met. People are so disappointing. They can’t read my mind. They don’t know what I want. They don’t know when my feelings get hurt. They don’t know me. And yet they disappoint me.

It hurts when you trust someone and they fail miserably. Their words or acts cross a line that you didn’t know was drawn. But once the line is drawn, it’s obvious that you’re hurt. And now there are feelings to deal with. Emotions are bubbling. Trust is cracked wide open. And now what?

Maybe that person has gone too far. Or not far enough. We thought they liked blue, but instead they love red. We assumed they were a chocolate lover, when all the while they’re craving nachos. We naturally assume that they would always agree with our opinions, when they very much have their own much different opinions. Now the differences are out in the open. What is one to do?

People will disappoint us. They’re human. I’m human. I’m sure I’ve disappointed way too many people. And I’m most likely oblivious to it unless it’s been pointed out to me.


Only God is truly good. Mark 10:18


People. We can’t put our trust and hope in people. We need someone who is more than mere human. We need the One who created humans. We need someone who is bigger and better than us. We need an Almighty God who loves us. Who provides for us. Who leads us in truth. Who says those difficult words to us and performs acts that we don’t understand. But all the while He’s doing it, he knows that in the end it is for our good. He allows things that seem downright unnecessary and awful to impact our comfortable little lives. But he knows that if we just keep our eyes on him, that he is there for us. All the time. Things don’t always have to be pretty or perfect for God to be with us. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t good.

And sometimes those things that God allows disappoint us. Sometimes God disappoints us by not answering that prayer that we knew was just the perfect answer. Or he doesn’t provide that job that would have solved a lot of our problems. Or he doesn’t cure that incurable disease. But that doesn’t mean he’s bad or doesn’t love us. He’s working out everything for our good.

Disappointment is a mean thing. It can eat you alive and turn into bitterness and resentment. It can cause even more disappointment when we can’t find our way out of it.

The thing is. We can’t avoid people. No matter how hard we try, people are everywhere. They’re in public places. They’re at work. They’re at church. They’re in our homes. Oh sure. These past few months, we’ve all been quarantined at home, but people still exist. Through emails and texts. Facetime and Zoom calls. They are still disappointing, even if we’re not together in person.

And we think we can avoid God. But he is still here. He’s all around us. Every day. Oh. We may try to ignore him. We may avoid any type of dealing with him. But guess what. He’s still here. He is always waiting for us to reach out to him. Even in our disappointment. He plans for the best for us. Even when circumstances are so difficult, perhaps our focus needs to shift to God’s goodness despite the tough times. God is always good. Even when life is bad. He is a good, good Father.

Walking With A Limp

It was the wrestling match of the ages. And rightfully so. Who other than Jacob can say they spent the night wrestling with God? Physically wrestling with God. Oh. I’m sure many of us will admit to wrestling with God in prayer for hours on end. Hours that left us weak and limp. Hoping that God had heard our honest, fervent prayers.

But Jacob. Yes. He spent the night wrestling with God. And he came out alive. He came out able to talk about it. He walked away from that match a changed man. Changed in more ways than one. His name was changed to Israel, because he fought with God and man and won. His heart was changed, because he was prepared to reconcile with his brother. His walk was different. He now walked with a limp, because his wrestling opponent wrenched his hip out of the socket.

Oh. During the hours long wrestling match, a conversation was taking place. Perhaps two conversations. One that included Jacob and his opponent. And the other was an internal conversation Jacob was having with himself. Don’t you think? If he’s asking questions aloud to his opponent, they would only come about from his internal conversations.

Let’s just read his mind for a minute.

Who is this stranger who appears in the dead of night in the middle of nowhere and wrestles with me? Who does that? Who is this man? Where did he come from? What does he want with me? Will his strength ever give out? And why? Oh. Why won’t he tell me his name? Am I face to face with God? Will he let me survive the night?

Jacob walked with a limp after wrestling with God. At some point in the night he realized he was wrestling with God Almight. And did his win signify a victory for his soul?


For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12


Perhaps our opponent appears out of nowhere. We’re unprepared for the match, yet we must fight with all our might. And our might is failing. The fight is long and difficult. It’s taking a toll, and we see no way out. We beg God for mercy. We ask for this dark night of our soul to end. We’re unsure of what part of our faith will be left intact. Can our faith survive this match?

Perhaps our wrestling with God is because his will is not ours. Our wrestling matches may go on for days and weeks. Perhaps they’re continuing still today. We’re not willing to give in to God’s perfect will. and it is just that. Perfect. Not that our lives will be perfect when we submit to his plan, but we will be at peace in his will. We may walk with a limp, but it will be because the battle of our own will has been won. With God’s help. and his plan is put into place.

Perhaps our wrestling match is with a physical or mental illness. A job loss. A fractured marriage. A destroyed dream. Perhaps we’ve lost hope with life and feel there’s nowhere to turn. Life struggles will leave us with a noticeable limp. But the limp signifies victory over the struggle as we allow God to heal us. That limp we now walk with is a sign of victory. It’s a sign of perseverance and faith. Of trust in the Almighty God of the universe. So what’s a little limp?

Breakfast is Served

Here’s what I wonder.

If your friend denied knowing you not once but three times, would you forgive him? If your friend hurt someone coming to arrest you for a crime you didn’t commit, would you heal the officer your friend injured and rebuke your friend? If you found your friend sleeping at the hour you needed him most, would you still trust him? If you had known your friend was going to desert you that very night, would you still call him friend? If that same friend later fervently promised that he loved you after all that, would you believe him?

Here’s the real story.

Early in the evening as Jesus was arrested, Peter fought back by cutting off the ear of one of the men arresting him. As Jesus was taken away, Peter followed from a distance. He stood in the courtyard watching from afar as the one he loved was tried for a crime he didn’t commit. Did he step up as a witness for his friend? Not at all. When asked if he knew the man, he denied it. He was asked three times by three different people. Each time, he gave the same answer. No. I don’t know him.

Then a rooster crowed.

If he was willing to fight for Jesus when he was being arrested, why not fight for him after the arrest? Did fear grip his heart so completely that he wasn’t thinking straight? Was he only thinking of himself? Trying to save his own life? Why wasn’t Jesus’ life worth saving? Jesus was being tried for a crime he didn’t commit. Peter knew that. He could have defended this man called King of the Jews. But if the King’s life was in danger, what did that say for his followers? It would be a death sentence to stand up for truth. Wouldn’t it? Is that why Peter denied knowing him? He was afraid for his life?

The miracle is that Jesus was raised from death to life. Oh sure. He was nailed to a cross and died. But on the third day in the tomb, the breath of life was breathed into him. The tomb where he was buried was empty. He had unfinished business to attend to. And rightly so.

And early one morning, Peter and some other disciples were fishing. Jesus came along and started a fire on the shore. He cooked breakfast for them. He was waiting for his friends. His followers. For those who believed in him. For those who knew him. For those who loved him.

But wait. He cooked breakfast for Peter after what Peter had done to him? How could he? Why would he willingly get up early and serve breakfast to a man who denied even knowing him? And he wasn’t just any man. He was a close friend. They had spent many hours together.


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34


Is this how I would treat a close friend who denied knowing me? Someone who lied about our relationship?

Would I go out of my way to serve a friend who had wronged me? Would I still call him friend? Or would I write him off? Forget him? How would I want my friend to treat me if I had done the same to him?

Am I willing to spend time with someone who has betrayed me? Or thinks differently than I do? If Jesus was willing and able to forgive Peter and still love him, can’t I do the same for you? Can you do the same for me?

And at that fateful fireside breakfast, Peter’s relationship with Jesus was restored. As they and the other disciples ate their fish and bread, Jesus asked Peter a question. Not once, but three times. Peter, do you love me? And each time, Peter said yes. But oh. Peter knew the significance of being asked three times. He thought back to another question he was asked three times as Jesus was being assaulted. You know him, don’t you? And he answered no all three times.

But this time was different, Peter was committed to Jesus at all costs. Peter’s relationship with Jesus was restored as they ate their breakfast by the sea. Jesus challenged him to love. and love deeply.

Do you accept the challenge to love deeply? Love the unloveable. Love the lonely. The hurting. Love those who don’t love you. Love those who have mistreated you. Those who are different from you. Are you willing? At all costs?

Beauty Awaits

It was Memorial Day. I was weeding the flower bed on the south side of the house.  I’ve decided that this is the year I am going to keep my flowerbeds clean and clear of weeds.  I looked over at my neighbor’s flowerbed. It hasn’t been touched yet this spring.  Not because of a busy schedule.  The pandemic has hit and the neighbors haven’t left their house much.

My neighbor and I have an agreement. Our flowerbeds are not in competition with each other. We don’t try to outdo one another. We admire from afar when the beds are well kept.  We keep our thoughts to ourselves when they aren’t. And that is that.

But so far this year, I’m winning. But as I said, this isn’t a competition. Oh. My flowerbed still has weeds. They’re never ending. But at least, there’s space between the plants. It’s clear where the peonies end and the irises begin. And the strawberries are separate from the zinnias that have begun to pop up. But still. There is much work to do in this flowerbed.

I fear that the deer will soon devour all the strawberries that are blooming. It would be nice, for once, to be able to eat those strawberries ourselves. We aren’t growing them to feed the deer. But then. There are also the hostas and day lilies that seem to get devoured by the deer. Those I’m not so worried about.

There are some very shady spots in my backyard that need attention. With all the rain that we’ve had, the weeds just pop up overnight. It’s hard to keep them under control. Perhaps a good layer of mulch would help manage that problem. But who has the time? Work keeps calling my name. 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. By the time the day is over, who wants to pull weeds? But I realize that’s the sacrifice that must be made in order to keep the flowerbeds looking their best.

I have lofty goals for this garden. Oh. It’s not big. It’s not majestic. It will never win awards. But I want to keep it weed free and thriving. I want to plant a variety of flowers and shade loving, deer resistant perennials. My goal is to see a beautiful garden in the midst of my normal life. But it will take work. Back breaking, sweaty work. Am I up for the challenge?


So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Hebrews 6:1


I find the same amount of work must go into my Christian life. If I want to see beauty and growth in my relationship with God, I must take the time to pull the weeds of sin out of my life. Those weeds can choke out the peace that God provides.

Keeping my relationship with God growing is hard work. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice and commitment. It isn’t always easy to make reading my Bible a priority, but it is necessary in order to know who God is. I must choose to spend time in prayer. Spending time with my Maker and Provider is a daily must. There is no wiggle room in that.

As I was weeding the flowerbeds this morning, I realized I couldn’t distinguish some annuals I had planted from the weeds. Until the annuals bloom, I won’t know if they are weeds or flowers. It’s because I don’t recognize the leaf patterns without the fruit. I realized this is similar to my spiritual growth. It isn’t always easy to distinguish between right and wrong. Sin and obedience. In those times, I must lean in to feel the prick of my conscience or the nudge of the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness and uncertainty.

I have lofty goals for my soul. Oh. I doubt that I’ll be in the same group as Moses or David or Paul or Abraham. But I want to want to spend eternity in heaven. I want to spend an eternity with my heavenly Father. My goal is to walk the streets of gold. But it will take work while I’m still on this earth. Back breaking, sweaty work. Am I up for the challenge?

Injustice

Injustice is an awful thing. It’s cruel. I’d like to say it’s unusual, but it seems to be common practice in today’s world. Do you ever wonder why? It’s been happening since time began. The Bible has many stories where people were treated unfairly. Robbed. Discarded. Bullied. Beaten up. Killed. The list goes on.

Abel’s death at the hand of his brother Cain. Uzziah’s death. Stephen’s death.  Saul’s unrelenting pursuit of David. Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Three Hebrew men thrown into the fiery furnace. The list goes on.

Injustice is nothing new. But that doesn’t make it right.

The heart of the matter is a heart matter. Sin. Selfish sinful desires. The desire to get even. The burning feed of jealousy. The unending lust for more. The pursuit of having your way, at all costs. The thought that one person is better than another, when all are created equal.

It’s a lesson that we are obviously slow to learn. We keep repeating the same egregious mistakes of generations past. What will it take to undo the sins of our forefathers? When will we learn?

Sin still permeates the hearts of mankind today. What is the price? Oh. It’s heavy. 


What does the Lord require of you? Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8


But let’s consider the injustice that turned the course of history like no other event.

From a human perspective, it was the wrong thing to do. It was evil. It was cruel. It was inhumane. But they did it anyway. What was it they did? You ask. 

They killed an innocent man.

 Oh. He was one of their own. He was the son of a carpenter. He was the firstborn son in a home that got its start amidst a scandal. But he knew his place. His lot in life.

 He realized he was different from the other boys. Perhaps they ridiculed him. Or bullied him. One never knows what kids go through if they don’t talk about it. I’m sure he had many things to ponder as he grew. 

He wasn’t handsome. His looks didn’t make the girls swoon. But he was kind. He learned a trade. He worked hard. He was a noticer. He saw the little things. He listened. He knew things no one had told him. He was wise beyond his years.

He cared for others. He loved unconditionally. He washed the feet of his inner circle. He allowed a woman of ill repute to anoint his feet with expensive perfume. He freed a woman caught in the act of adultery from certain death while others wanted her to receive the punishment the law said she deserved. 

He invited himself to a dishonest tax collector’s home for dinner. He stood silent as one of his own kissed him in betrayal. He rebuked those buying and selling in the sacred temple on the holy day.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5

He was despised. He was rejected. Oh. He was acquainted with the deepest grief. He was a man of sorrows.

He dared to call himself God, because he was God. Is that a crime? Was it worthy of death?

Were there riots in the streets after his death? Did his followers chant death to Pontius Pilate for allowing an innocent man to die? Was the marketplace ransacked because of the injustice of this one man’s death? Were chariots burned in protest?

But oh. How their world changed when he rose from the dead. I mean. Who does that? Who rises from the dead?

What can I do to avenge his death?

The killing of that innocent man is an injustice. But by his death, my soul was saved. How do I reconcile that? By following his plan. By loving him. By obeying his teaching. By sharing his truth with others. By treating others as I would want to be treated. By becoming like him.

All In or Not

I’ve been thinking lately about people who call themselves Christians. But they don’t read their Bible. They don’t attend church. Do they pray? Do they give a portion of their earnings to God? I’m not judging. I’m wondering.

I want everyone to know Christ in his fullness.  I want everyone to experience heaven.  To truly experience the gift of eternal life to its fullest. God invites us to spend eternity with him.  He wants to forgive our sins.  And it’s essential to have our sins forgiven — in order to see God.  But there is so much more to it than that.  Having our sins forgiven is just scratching the surface.  We need to build a close relationship with God.  We need to walk and talk with him. 

He loves us unconditionally. Nothing we can say or do will stop him from loving us. Can’t we return the favor?


Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8


 Suppose I commit a crime against a stranger and ask them to forgive me, but then never talk to them again.  Never learn anything more about them. And I learn that they are planning the party of the century. But it’s by invitation only.  Why would I expect an invitation from them? I’ve done them wrong. Oh. I’ve confessed, but I haven’t made an effort to show them I’ve made a change in my life. I haven’t spoken to them since the day I apologized. I’ve rarely thought of them, mostly in moments of guilt. So, why would they invite me to their party?  Why would I be allowed to go?

Why would I expect to be received as a welcome guest into their home when I haven’t taken the time to get to know them?  When I haven’t walked the path of suffering or gladness with them. When I haven’t made an attempt to study their lifestyle. Why would I think that I’m worthy to be chosen as a guest of honor in their home when I’ve never invited them into my home?

It’s the same idea for going to heaven. It is by invitation. And there’s a price. Everyone is invited. But have you paid the price? Have you given your life as a sacrificial gift to serving God? Or are you a member by name only? Have you done the work? Put in the time? Do you know what makes God tick? Do you know what he loves? What he hates? Can you feel his presence in your life? Have you seen him work in your life? Can you show proof of your allegiance to him?

If not, what are you waiting for?

Paul was one who persecuted Christians until he had a life-changing experience that led him straight to God. He knew that God had called him from a life of hunting Christians to becoming one of them. So he went all in. He gave his relationship with Christ everything he had. He wanted to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Paul was willing to suffer with Christ, sharing in his death, so that one way or another he would experience the resurrection from the dead.

Can you say that? Are you willing to experience the mighty power of Christ, as well as suffer for him? It’s all or nothing. Walking the road to Calvary cost Jesus his life. If you choose to walk with him, nothing else matters.

Oh. You may not die a literal death for serving Christ. But you may. Paul did. But have you died to the things of life that seem so important, but are worthless in eternity?

Unmasked

I’ve now added a new accessory to my wardrobe. Face coverings. Masks. And I have this one thing to say about them. I hate masks. I hate wearing them. I hate seeing others wear them. We’re told they’re optional in certain places and mandatory in others. Some choose to wear them. Others don’t. What I’ve learned is not to judge.

These face coverings do just that. They cover our faces. They mask the beauty of God’s creation. How can you tell if someone is smiling at you? How can you understand someone’s words when their words sound garbled? How can you breathe in fresh air when your face is covered?

The mask makes my face hot. It makes my face sweat. It causes my glasses to fog up. Not a pretty sight. Not a pretty feeling.

It’s difficult to recognize someone if the majority of their face is covered. Eyes are a distinguishing feature on a person’s face, but they don’t look very distinguishing when that’s all that’s visible. I want to see the shape of someone’s nose. and their smile. I want to see that double chin or the dimple in their cheek. I want to easily recognize my friends and see the true reflection of who they physically are.

But I get it. We’re all trying to stay safe. We’re doing the best we can with the information we’ve been given. Who knew the world would come to this.


As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17


The thing is. We’re all wearing masks. Oh. They’re not a recent purchase or addition to our wardrobe. We’ve been wearing them for many, many years. We’re trying to cover up sins and weaknesses and flaws. We’re trying to make sure no one sees those parts of us that aren’t pretty. We’re hiding behind masks of our own making.

And it’s killing us.

Sometimes we hide behind a smile. Or a laugh. A snide remark. A criticism. A cruel joke. We don’t want others to see the real us. So we pretend to be someone we aren’t.

So. Wearing a mask is nothing new for any of us. What say we take those masks off and be real. Let’s be vulnerable and show our weaknesses. Let’s ask for help when we need it.  Let’s ask someone to pray for us when we’re hurting. Let’s be brave enough to be honest. Let’s say no when we shouldn’t say yes. And let’s say yes when it is the right time. 

True humility and vulnerability comes with a price. When we allow our hurts to show, we let others see that we’re human. We’re the same as anyone else. Peeling off those masks can be painful. And so real. But bottling up feelings and old hurts can be more painful than ripping them off.

So in our attempts to be safe. To be socially distant. Let’s take this time to be real. and vulnerable. We all know we’re in a strange day. We’re all in this together. So let’s be in this together.

Green Thumb

A few months ago, I bought some plants. Real plants. Live plants. I’ve always liked them, but I hadn’t bought a live plant in years. I’d always had pretty good luck with them, so why not add some live greenery to my home. They produce oxygen. Right?

My issue with live plants in the past has always been the small act of watering them. I forget about it. I water too little. I water too much. I’m never consistent with providing the liquid nourishment that my poor plants need.

But I’ve been trying to make a point of watering these new plants. Oh sure. Sometimes I forget. But I’m determined to keep these plants alive. My motto for watering plants has been to let them dry out. Then water them again.

There’s a problem with that theory.

Some plants always like to have damp soil. But some plants don’t. The labels on the plants give the proper instructions on how to feed them so they will remain healthy and grow. I imagine if I would read the labels and take the instructions to heart, my plants would have a better chance at survival.

I placed two of the new plants on the ledge overlooking the stairs. I’ve been watering them faithfully. Mostly. And they had new growth on them. New leaves were sprouting. I was doing well. I thought. Then a leaf dropped off. And another. Pretty soon, there was no new growth. And then one day this week, all the leaves fell off. ALL. OF. THE. LEAVES. FELL. OFF.

I thought I was doing so well as a plant lady. I guess not.

All I have left is the empty stalk . I’m going to leave it and water it to see if new growth will appear. I don’t think the stalk is dead. I sure hope not. But it does look very odd, barren and all.


The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8


That’s the trouble with life. When things are going your way, you sprout new growth. New leaves of trust and beauty appear. There is the growth of new life, which appears to resemble stability and strength. But deep down in the roots of life, there may be instability. Oh. It doesn’t show its face right away. Appearances can be deceiving. But just the wrong thing said. Or that misunderstanding comes along. Someone calls you out in front of your peers. Or a pandemic hits the world. And your strong wall of defense comes falling down, as if it were built on sand. Now what?

What do you do when every last leaf of strength and beauty fall off all in the same day? What happens to you then? Are your roots grounded in the Word of God? Have you been watering your soul with just the right amount of nourishment? Do you read the instructions of life and apply them over and over to each situation that you face?

Times of uncertainty test us. Fear and doubt come at us at every chance. The enemy of our soul is just waiting for that moment the soul is parched and dry. Thirsty for something that satisfies. And if we don’t continually parch that thirst with the Word of Life, we stand the chance of losing our souls. Drink from the fountain of life and quench your thirst.

And when the bare stalk of life is the only thing standing. When circumstances appear bleak and hope is gone, it is time to water and fertilize. Faith the size of a mustard seed can change the world. Hope is found by continuing to feed the soul with the Bread of Life. Given the proper care, the soul will grow strong and thrive. It takes time and effort.