R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I watch news shows. I read commentaries. I follow news people and influencers on social media. They’re quick to point out their opinion on how poorly they believe the President is doing his job. Some of them are calling him all kinds of names. Some are using harsh language to describe his decisions. They are saying they don’t trust him. They’ve lost faith in his leadership. I’ve heard that some have buyer’s remorse.

Now an obscene chant is taking over sports events.

I’ve been thinking about this. A lot. I hear their words. I read their words. And they aren’t kind. These people don’t hold back. I mean. If they’re holding back, then I’d hate to know what they really think. Honestly, they’re saying shameful things about the man.

Here are some of their words. He’s being called a coward. Not cognitively prepared. An idiot. Severely cognitively impaired. Low IQ individual. Dangerous combination of arrogance and incompetence. Abysmal failure.

I’m not saying I agree with his decisions. I’m not saying I support his work. But I’m starting to wonder if the words of these news people and influencers should be toned down. Couldn’t they say things a little more kindly? A little more respectfully? Even if he is making poor decisions, is there a way to speak the truth without being disrespectful?

The thing is. Scripture tells us that God is in charge of everything that happens. He ordains who wins elections and who loses. He knows the outcome of every situation and approves it. Otherwise. It wouldn’t happen.

So who am I? Who are you to say the things that are being said about the leader of our country? Oh. I know. I get it.

But I wonder what would happen if we would start seriously praying for our leaders, instead of calling them names? Instead of complaining and whining and throwing barbs, how about kneeling down and pleading with God to speak truth to them? Why not flood the gates of heavens with pleas for a return to godly leadership?


Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Proverbs 12:18


Oh. It’s easy to say harsh words about someone when we’re not speaking to them personally. It’s easy to call someone horrible names on social media when we think they’re not looking. It’s even easier to say those mean words when we don’t really know the person. When we don’t have a personal stake in their lives or in their business. But does it make it right? Would we say those same words to the person if they were sitting in our homes?

It brings up a good question. How are we supposed to call out others when we see them doing something that is wrong? What kind of words should we use when we disagree with our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers? Do we use kinder words to those we are close to? Do we save the really harsh words for total strangers? People we assume we’ll never see again? Does it matter which words we use when we call out others? Does it matter if they’re friend or foe? Cruel words are cruel words.

How do we talk about people we disagree with without being disrespectful?  How do we talk to people we disagree with without being disrespectful?

Or….are there some things that shouldn’t be said out loud? Even if they’re true?

Where and when does respect come into play?

It is possible to communicate the truth in an ugly way.

Paul M. Gould

There’s an art to having tough conversations. Hard truths sometimes need to be told.  There is definitely a time and a place for direct language. Oh. People need to be held accountable for their poor choices and unthinkable actions. But what kind of words should and shouldn’t be said to them? It’s sometimes hard to know. Emotions get in the way and agendas are sometimes driven by those emotions.

Perhaps some words are appropriate for public hearing and other words are best said in private. Oh. I believe that there is a time to use strong words. Absolutely. But the intent and purpose of the heart needs to be examined. Is evil the true intent? Or is it to publicly shame someone? Or to puff up oneself?  

Do we stop to consider that everyone, whether we agree with them or not, is made in the image of God? Would we say those same words if Jesus Christ was standing next to us? Do we stop to remind ourselves that God hears every word we speak?

Let’s start a movement to bring back constructive conversations. Let’s create open dialog in a safe setting where we agree to disagree. Where we can speak honestly and openly. And still love each other at the end of the day. Let’s spend less time on social media and more time in personal interaction. Let’s find out what breaks someone’s heart and what makes them smile. Let’s work to heal wounds instead of opening new ones. Let’s show some respect.

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My Father’s World

I love listening to the old hymns. They remind me of my childhood. Sitting in church. Pulling out the hymnal. And we would sing those old hymns full of biblical truths, psalms of praise and adoration. Songs that spoke of heartache and loss, but also of redemption and salvation. They spoke of the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection. They spoke of Jesus’ birth, his death and coming again. They spoke conviction and the need for repentance. Those songs provided hope to believers and to seekers. And today, in times when I’m anxious or uncertain and I need some calming effect, I turn on instrumental hymns and just listen. They take me back to simpler days. Carefree days. Days where my spirit was being molded and shaped to love and serve my heavenly Father.

There’s a hymn that’s been going through my mind for a couple weeks now. This is my Father’s world. And when I think about just those words. This is my father’s world. It gives me gladness, as well as sadness. Because I look at this world and everything that’s happening. The evil. The crime. The disregard for humanity and life. I’m sure it grieves my heavenly Father. He created this world. This was not his plan.

In fact, many, many years ago when the world was full of evil, he destroyed every living being in a flood that covered the entire earth. Every living creature. Every breathing person. Because the earth was evil. He spared one family and two of every animal and bird to restart the population, in the hopes that this time people would stay true to their Creator. But it wasn’t long before people’s hearts turned from God. People sinned. People served their own manmade gods. And over time, this world has become so full of evil once again.

After the flood, God made a promise to never destroy the earth again. He sealed the promise with the rainbow that stretched from one end of the earth to the other. And now. Look. Pride has taken that promise and used it to represent something that goes against God’s creation.

But this is still my Father’s world. He allows evil. He allows wrongdoing. He gave us free will, so we can choose our own path. We can choose to follow God or not. And that choice is huge.

In spite of all the evil that roams the earth, beauty still abounds. We see beauty in nature that surrounds us. We see it in all of God’s creation. We see it in the birth of a new baby. In the rush of a waterfall. In the cool of the breeze. The swaying leaves and the blooming flower. Beauty still surrounds us.


Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly. Psalms 96:10


This is my Father’s world. And to my listening ear. All nature sings and round me rings. The music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world. I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, his hand the wonders wrought.

My listening ear. Do I listen for the beauty of nature? Lately we’ve been consumed by the sound of cicadas. The deafening mating rituals of an insect that stays hidden in the earth for years. Only to reappear to mate and then die. We wonder their purpose. Only God knows. We see the beauty in the clouds and sunshine. The mountains and the canyons. Only a God with unlimited powers could create such breathtaking masterpieces.

This is my Father’s world. The birds their carols raise. The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world. He shines in all that’s fair. In the rustling grass, I hear him pass. He speaks to me everywhere.

Declare their Maker’s praise. We would be remiss if we failed to declare praise to our heavenly Father. He is our Maker. He has brought all the intricate workings of nature together in perfect harmony. His timing is impeccable with the changing of the seasons. Changing green leaves to hues of red and gold. From the falling leaves to the falling of snow. He shines in all that’s fair. He speaks to me everywhere of the beauty he created for our pleasure.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget. That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world. The battle is not done. Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.

God is the ruler yet. As we move throughout our days, it seems as though the enemy of our souls is winning the battle. Because evil seems to prevail everywhere we turn. This enemy is using people made in the image of God to fight hard against God’s word. Regardless of whether they know the truth and deny it or have never heard the truth, they are fighting God. They ignore the fact that God is the ruler over everyone and everything. He will not be defeated. God will be victorious over the enemy of our souls. And that victory will be so sweet. It will have eternal consequences for every person who has ever been given life. We can choose redemption with Jesus’ death on the cross. God still reigns.

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too.

Unknown

This is my Father’s world.


Love One Another

God sent his Son in an act of love and sacrifice. His Son left heaven to become a baby born to a virgin teenage girl. She hadn’t known a man in the way that one must in order to conceive and give birth. His was an immaculate conception. He was a gift from a God who loved the world and offered eternal life through that swaddled babe.

Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:27-31

Jesus ate with Zacchaeus, a local tax collector. Zacchaeus had a history of overcharging his neighbors and townspeople for their taxes. He kept the overages and became wealthy. He was hated by the community. But Jesus came along one day and invited himself to have dinner with Zacchaeus. The town was in an uproar. How dare he eat with such a sinner. Didn’t he know how Zacchaeus had treated these people? Why would he stoop so low for such a man? Yet Jesus loved him the same as he loved anyone else. When Zacchaeus repented and returned the money to the rightful owners, he walked away a forgiven man.

Another time, Jesus and his disciples were on a journey and had been walking all morning. They were tired. Jesus sat down to rest at the local well in Samaria. The disciples went into town to buy food. As Jesus rested, a local woman came to draw water. He struck up a conversation with her. Being God in human form, he knew everything about this woman. And he told her things about herself that no one else knew. And then he offered her living water. Water that would quench her eternal thirst. This woman, who was living a life of sin and shunned by her neighbors, was offered eternal life by the Messiah. She knew that Jews and Samaritans didn’t even speak to each other, but here was this Jewish man who offered her the gift she had always been searching for. She ran to tell anyone who would listen.

Truly He taught us to love one another.


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


The Christmas story is one of love and peace. But soon after his birth, this God babe was being hunted. I’m sure Joseph and Mary didn’t feel like they were surrounded by peace, because it wasn’t too long before they were running for their lives. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to get up and move his family. That very night, they left for Egypt.

Before Jesus began his ministry, he went to the wilderness to fast and pray. 40 days and 40 nights. Satan came along and tempted him three different times. Even though he was hungry and weak, Jesus resisted and commanded Satan to leave him. When Satan left, angels came to Jesus and took care of him.

During his ministry, Jesus taught love and peace. His love was self sacrificing. Jesus laid down his life for all people. His love provides peace to a hurting world.

This world doesn’t seem to be too loving or peaceful right now. Oh. People are looking for love and peace all right. But they’re looking in all the wrong places. Unkind words are being said and written. How can people even think such things, let alone say them. Selfishness and gluttony seem to be the theme of the day. Yet we look the other way, hoping our sins seem less offensive than the sins of those we are judging. Where is the love? Where is the peace? We wonder how the world has gotten to this point. It’s time we ask ourselves if we’re part of the problem or part of the solution.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

On the Hunt

I’m on the hunt for righteous people. Where are they all hiding? We say we believe in God. We say we’re following the way of the Cross that leads to our heavenly home. We say we believe in truth. We say we’re Christians. 
But where is everyone hiding?

For generations,  we’ve allowed liberal, ungodly people to tell us what is right or wrong. And we’ve believed them. We’ve allowed them to write laws that are slowly removing our religious freedoms. And we’ve stayed silent. Why? Why have we allowed this to happen?

I don’t want to make this about us versus them. It’s not that. It’s not about a presidential election. It’s about godliness versus ungodliness. That’s what it is. I’m looking for righteous people. Not self righteous people.

I wonder. Can God find enough righteous people in this land to stir the embers of revival? Or are we too afraid of persecution? Of cancel culture? Of being doxed?

If you’ve read the Good Book, you know the story ends well for true believers. We will be face to face with our Heavenly Father once our earthly life has ended. We will be in heaven. Oh.  But it will be a fight to get there. It will be a race for the ages. There will be trouble. And I’m mean big trouble until our race on this earth has ended. Are we bold enough to stand?

There was Sodom and Gomorrah. How many righteous people were found in that city? God promised Abraham he would spare the city from destruction if he found only ten righteous people. Ten. Such a small number. And even in that vast city, God couldn’t find ten righteous people. So he destroyed the city and all the people. Only one family of four escaped. And one of them turned and looked at the burning city and lost her life. You can read the story in Genesis 18:1-19:29.

There is no looking back. We can only move forward.

Abraham approached God and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?” Genesis 18:23

You may wonder. Who are the righteous people? Those who pursue the character of God are called righteous. Those who follow in the steps of Jesus Christ. I’m looking for those who love the things God loves and hate the things He hates. Who are you?

After a great show of God’s mighty power, Elijah was threatened by the evil queen Jezebel. She sent a warning to him letting him know that it was either him or her. One of them must die by the next day. So he ran for his life. He was very fearful of the future. He thought all the prophets but him had bowed to idols. And God showed him that a quiet remnant had never bowed their knee to a false god. You can read the story in I Kings 18:1-19:18.

Where are those people today? Where in our land can we find the faithful? Let’s come out of hiding and stand for truth. Let’s be bold. Let’s be strong in the fight for righteousness. 


For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. Psalms 78:5-8


I pray for calm, restoration and civility for our nation. If we can’t solve our differences peacefully, what have we come to. As a nation, we have rebelled so long against the God of all creation. The Giver of good gifts. We’ve pushed aside the one free gift he is offering.  Forgiveness. He’ll wipe the slate clean for us. Let us begin as new creatures in his sight. We only need to respond on bended knee and with broken heart. Ask for forgiveness and repent. Then we can begin the work of true restoration and revival.  Is that too much to ask?

Generations past let down their guard. They weren’t diligent about staying true to Truth. They started a slow slide into disrespect, disobedience and distrust.  Now here we are. How do we dig ourselves out of this rotten mess that we’re in? Our generation sure hasn’t made any improvements. We’ve continued further down the path until what is wrong is widely accepted as right. What is false is spoken as truth. What was created is destroyed and a false creation has been attempted. Can we right our wrongs? Is it too late?

The passing on of faith keeps getting weaker with each generation. It’s a shame. It’s a disgrace to the strong faith of our forefathers. We’ve dropped the ball. We’ve let our faith slide so far that we’re no longer a Christian nation. As a nation, we can no longer say in God we trust.

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10

We’ve got to get America back to God.

Let’s take a stand for right and truth and justice. Let’s be bold in our faith. If we won’t, then who will? If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. Isn’t that obvious?

Jesus is coming back. Sooner than we think. Oh. We don’t know the day or the hour. But just know this. He is coming back to take his true followers to be with him in eternity. The rest will be left behind.

This is not the time to turn to another drink in hopes of finding comfort. Or to buy another lottery ticket in hopes for a better future. Or to watch one more sports event in hopes of finding an escape from reality. No. This is the time to finally open the Bible and read God’s Word. This is the time to fall on our knees and repent of our sins. This is the time to seek truth and stand for it.

We should be ashamed. We have let down future generations. They are unaware of our failure, and we must stop ignoring it. It’s time to set things right. It’s time to take our faith seriously. It’s time to get back to the basics of biblical truths. 

Shall we stand.

Honor and Kindness

World kindness day was recently celebrated. So I searched for some encouraging phrases about kindness.

  • If you can be anything, be kind.
  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Perform random acts of kindness.
  • Always be a little kinder than necessary.
  • Kindness is free. Let’s pass it on.

These are all great words of wisdom. Words easier said than done. Why is that?

When someone offends me or slows me down, why are my first thoughts to go for the jugular instead of offering a warm hand of understanding. Most people are looking for redemption while withholding it from others. Why is it so difficult to be kind to others when that’s all anyone is looking for in their own moments of failure?

Why is kindness so hard? Why does it seem that we’re being put out if we have to extend a helping hand or apologize? Especially when it’s someone who rubs us the wrong way.

It’s critical that we choose to honor those we disagree with. –John Bevere


What comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart.  Matthew 15:18


It most likely started as a practical joke. A prized possession was missing. If it was taken as a joke, then the joke soon got out of hand. The owner was highly offended. Management got involved. Soon HR was on the scene. The joke had gone too far too fast, without the possibility of being reeled in. The supposed offender did not raise their hand in humility and repentance. They were too embarrassed. What could they say? What would become of them? What type of punishment would be administered?

A week later the offended was still visibly upset. She couldn’t move past the incident. Her inexpensive souvenir was gone. Lost forever. She filed an incident report with Security and building management. I was the key witness. I was the one person who had knowledge of this item’s last whereabouts. A lot of pressure for something that had been blown too far out of proportion.

Now she is making veiled threats if the offender is ever identified. But basically, the truth of what’s in her heart has been identified. The state of her heart has been placed on public display. It isn’t pretty. Retaliation. Vengeance. Bitterness. Hatred. One never would have thought that this behavior would come from her. But what is within becomes outward if the opportunity arises.

Everyone we disagree with bears the image of God. –Greg McNichols

Why is it so easy to lash out at someone rather than take a step back and breathe? 

When someone rubs you the wrong way, just step back. Just for a minute. When you’re in the checkout line and the person checking out has a full cart, just take a breath. Not a noticeable sigh. Pause. Just know that at one time or another, you too have been the cause of someone else’s frustration.

I’m talking to myself here. 

You should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you. Matthew 7:12

I wonder what would happen if I treated everyone the way I wanted to be treated. Sure. I get it. Not everyone wants to be treated the way I do, but I want to be treated kindly.  And fairly. I want others to respect my privacy and my opinion. We don’t have to agree, but we can still get along. 

It sounds like common sense to me, but I’ve come to realize that some aren’t born with common sense. The Bible says that we are only evil all the time. Without God as our guide and compass, we will be unkind. We will treat others unfairly. We will take when we should give. We will undermine the goodness of others. We will steal, kill, cheat and lie. We want to have our way and we want it now.

What will it take to change? What has to happen to get the ugly out of your heart?  Hearts can change. Repentance. Forgiveness. New habits. New attitude. God is in the business of changing hearts. We must be willing.

Be Prepared

She said it so casually. I don’t believe in an afterlife. And neither does my husband. And she laughed as she said it. She thinks that there is nothing for her after her last breath.

Her husband doesn’t think the topic is a laughing matter. The way she described the scene in their home led me to believe her husband is petrified of what’s to come. The thing that he doesn’t believe in terrifies him. If he believes in nothing, what’s to be afraid of.

She was brave enough to admit that she could be wrong.

Oh. We have much to talk about. This young woman and I.

I think of the man dying of an incurable disease. I think of another man who just breathed his last breath. One is already in eternity. The other is close behind.  I wonder what they believed and who they believed in.


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? Romans 10:14-15


I recall a scene a few years ago. I was asked if I was going to the dinner. I was surprised by the question, because I hadn’t received an invitation. And these were close friends. Why would I be excluded? But I was. I didn’t even know a dinner had been planned. The one who shared the news seemed uncomfortable with my explanation that I hadn’t been included in the invite.

How could I go to the dinner if I didn’t know it was taking place? How would I know I was being excluded if I didn’t know of the invitation? How would I know of the invitation unless I received it?

I think of this young woman. My coworker. Perhaps she’s never been told the truth of an afterlife. Perhaps she’s never been included in an honest discussion of God’s plan for her life. Perhaps she’s never been invited to hear of God’s love for her.

How will she know if no one tells her. Perhaps I’ve come into her life for such a time as this. Perhaps I will be the messenger to share the good news with her. Perhaps her heart will soften, and she will be open to hearing the message of truth and redemption. Perhaps she will be interested in the saving grace of our Lord and Savior.

But what if she isn’t interested in hearing the truth? What if she shuns the love of God? What if she decides that Biblical teaching is not truth to her? That is her right. God has given her a free will to decide how to live her life. She can choose to live life without God. She can choose to believe there is no afterlife. But what she doesn’t yet understand is that she will stand before Him some day and give an account of her life. She will live in eternity. Somewhere. There is an afterlife.

So when the opportunity arises, I must be prepared to share the message of hope with her. I must always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have. If no one tells her, she will never know. How can I overlook the opportunity to share the free gift of eternal life with her?

Desperately Seeking a Miracle

She had a serious medical problem. She had been bleeding for twelve years. Desperate for help, she had tried every medical option available to her. She had spent all her money visiting every doctor. She could find no cure.

Imagine being her. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment. She tried every medicinal and herbal remedy. She spent her last dollar. For what? None of the doctors could heal her. In fact, her condition worsened. She could find no cure.

She was in the crowd on that fateful day. It was a huge crowd with people bumping into each other with every move. Everywhere she turned, there were more people. They were waiting to hear the man speak. The man called Jesus. Everyone was talking about him. They had heard of the miracles this man could perform. They were amazed and curious. Would he perform a miracle that day?

She reached for the hem of Jesus’ garment. Grasping for the last straw of hope. What else had she tried? Quick fixes from old wives’ tales.  Every doctor that friends and neighbors had recommended.  She was desperate.  She needed relief.  Twelve years is a long time to suffer.


When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.  I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  Isaiah 41:17-18


Would I have been willing to reach out and touch the garment? Would I have dared to think the impossible might happen just by grasping onto the hem of fabric? But oh. It wasn’t the garment that was powerful. It wasn’t the pushing and shoving of people that caused her to reach out. It was a desperate faith. An act of pure trusting belief. What could it hurt? Right? Just to touch his garment? Who would even know?

But at that touch, he felt the surge of power leave his body.  He felt the instantaneous parting of God’s healing power flow from him through that hemline into someone else.  And she knew that she had been healed.  She knew that her act of faith had been revealed.

Have you ever been at your wit’s end?  You’ve tried everything you can think of.  Exhausted your budget.  And nothing worked.  Nothing you tried could fix the problem.  It continued to worsen.  You could see no hope in sight.  You had nowhere to turn. Then suddenly, in the midst of searching, a solution arises from the fog of despair.  You reach out to touch the hem of the garment as the Miracle Maker walks by.  You dare to dream again of a pain free life.  You dare to imagine life and health restored.  Or relationships healed.  Or wayward children come home. Once you’ve touched the garment, there’s no turning back.  You felt the power of belief.  You experienced the healing you sought. 

The thing is. In order for her miracle to happen. In order for her to be healed. She had to reach out and touch the hem of the garment as Jesus walked by. If she had never reached out, she wouldn’t have been healed. She would have continued down the path of suffering. I wonder. How many times do I have a miracle within my grasp, but I don’t reach out. How often has the opportunity for a miracle walked right by me, and I didn’t bravely reach outside my comfort zone? What miracles have I missed in life because I wasn’t obedient?

Hoping for a miracle?  Looking for a cure? Reach out and touch the One who makes miracles happen.

Favored Child

They say she’s pregnant.  Everybody is spreading the rumors.  Oh.  She’s engaged to that guy named Joseph.  She says she’s a virgin.  But she can’t prove it.  I bet her parents are mortified.  She should be so ashamed.  I wonder what will happen now.  He doesn’t have to marry her if the baby isn’t his.  Rightly so.

She’s so young.  So much to learn about life.  and love.  How will she manage if Joseph pushes her aside.  Quietly divorces her.  She would be a single mother.  Shunned for sure.

But that angel.  Gabriel.  He said this baby was God’s son.  He said she was honored and chosen.  She was favored among women.  So why do the neighbors look at her so shamefully.  She has nothing to be ashamed of.  and no way to prove it.

How do you stand up for the truth when it looks like you’re not being honest?  How could you be favored and forsaken at the same time?

She left home to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  The angel who visited Mary had told her that Elizabeth was also having a baby.  That same angel had also visited Elizabeth’s husband six months earlier.  Now Elizabeth was also pregnant.  Elizabeth was considered too old to have children and Mary was too young.  But they were both miraculously pregnant, and their sons were God’s chosen to spread the good news.  God planned each of these pregnancies.  God chose the names of these two baby boys.  Elizabeth’s son was John.  Mary’s son was Jesus.  John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus.  Jesus’ purpose was to die for our sins.  

Mary could have withdrawn in fear.  But instead she visited her cousin who immediately recognized she was carrying the Son of God.  She could have felt rejected by man.  But instead she rejoiced at the favor God had shown her.  



Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Luke 1:30


Did Mary realize how much love her Heavenly Father had for her?  Did she realize that when she was weak, he would make her strong.  Did she know that He would fill her with his power to raise this God child?  Did she know that He would comfort her years later when she walked through the storm of losing this firstborn son.  

After all, her son was the hope of the world.  He was the promised Messiah.  Gabriel told Mary that the word of God will not fail.  She believed him.  She trusted him.  She was all in.  Regardless of the consequences.  If she had known then what she later learned in life, would she have been so willing?  Would she have felt so favored?  Would she have called herself blessed among women?

Mary could have refused, but she willingly accepted the gift she was offered.  She didn’t even hesitate.  She felt honored and blessed to be chosen to carry the Son of God.

I think of the gifts I’ve been given by my God.  I am called to use my gifts.  Do I feel honored and chosen for the gifts I’m given?  After all, I’m not asked to bear the Son of God.  Why do my gifts feel so heavy at times?  Is that how Mary felt?  Did her load become more than she could bear?

The thing is.  Mary was favored, but her life wasn’t easy or pain free.   God didn’t leave her once she was pregnant.  He stayed with her and walked with her through the path of motherhood and life.  He empowered her and equipped her to do the work he laid out for her.   Why wouldn’t he do the same for me?

A Life Cut Short

She stopped by the office on Monday to bring lunch to her husband.  She ran into the building with his salad, paying no attention to the burning car in the parking lot.  She didn’t even notice the fire trucks.  She had one thing on her mind.  Her busy husband needed his lunch.

Less than two days later, she was surrounded by another fire.  This time the fire was at her home.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Home alone.  Sleeping alone.  She wasn’t even aware of the fire.  Smoke inhalation was the cause of death.  She died in her bed.  Asleep and alone.

She was busy with family and work and charity events.  She was always smiling and friendly with everyone.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She made time for her daughters and grandchildren.  She was loved by many.  Best friends to her inner circle.

Her life was cut short.  She was in the prime of her life.  But what is the prime of life when you don’t know how long your life will be?  Shouldn’t every day be the prime of life?  Especially when we don’t know our last day?

I didn’t know her.  I knew of her.  Oh.  I had met her a few times.  I had seen the joy of life radiating from her.  I had seen her happiness bubbling as she showed off her grandson.  I knew of her love for her husband.  But I didn’t know her.


Each of us will give a personal account to God.  Romans 14:12


I wonder if she knew her Creator.  I wonder if she had a personal relationship with God.  Because now she has come face to face with him.  Oh.  She was involved in volunteer work.  She was kind.  She was good.  But was she ready, without notice, to meet her final reward.  Was it a reward or was it a punishment?  Where is her soul spending eternity?

The thing is.  Life is not certain for anyone.  No one knows when their last day will come.    Maybe there will be a warning.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  Medical treatments.  Prolonged illness.  Or death could come as a thief in the night.  Maybe there will be time to accept Christ as Savior and experience forgiveness. But maybe not.  One never knows.

The one thing we do know is that all will die.  Each of us will breathe our last breath at the appointed time.  Unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime and takes his faithful to heaven, we will all die.  Will we be ready to stand face to face with God?  Will we hear the words we want to hear?  Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.  Let’s celebrate.

Some will hear those words.  Many won’t.  Many will be cast to the depths of hell.  Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will not face an eternity in heaven.   Oh.  There are those who don’t believe in hell.  There are some who believe if God is a loving God, why would he send good people to hell.

The thing is.  God loves everyone and wants everyone to meet him in heaven.  He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.  With him or without him.  That choice determines where we spend eternity.  We choose.

I saw it happen just three days ago.  I was driving along a busy road, running errands at lunch time.  The squirrel was running fast and ran into the street.  I noticed it and had plenty of time to slow down.  The driver in the other lane didn’t.  Next thing I knew, the squirrel was not moving.  Oh.  It was in such a hurry to get somewhere, but time stood still for that little one.  Perhaps, he was rushing to store up for the winter months that are upon us.  No need.

Oh.  I know the squirrel doesn’t have a soul.  I know that squirrel will never have to answer for its actions.  I know that squirrel will never stand before his maker.  But I do know that his life was cut far short.

It can happen to anyone at any time.  Ready or not.  Time is running out for each of us.  The countdown has begun, and we never know when our time will come.  Are you ready?

 

Fear Is A Liar

They have a new pool.  They asked me to join them after a long, hot and humid day.  So I did.  But I’m no swimmer.  I can’t float to save my life.  Oh.  I took a few swim lessons, but they ended badly.  Oh.  I got in the pool.  Well.  I sat on the second step.  And watched.  And splashed a little.

The others were more adventurous.  Some were swimmers.  Those who weren’t used noodles.  They clung tightly to the noodles, but they ventured out into the deep.  Not me.  No noodles for me.  No deep water for me.  As they swam and splashed, the water around me would move.  This unsettled me.  It felt as if I could slip out into the deep water and plunge to the bottom.  My water is moving.  I would say.  Don’t make my water move.

Oh.  Yes.  I was fearful of moving into the deep.  Of having no control of my surroundings.  You see.  Water is fluid.  Ever moving.  Only when it’s frozen does it stop moving.

Oh.  I could see myself enjoying the water if I spent enough time in it.  The thing is.  I don’t have those opportunities.  So I played it safe.  I sat on the step.  Waist deep in the water.  Safe.   Until my water moved.


The Lord will fight for you.  You have only to be silent.  Exodus 14:14


Fear of the unknown can stop a person in their tracks.  Fear of the known can be very unsettling.  Fear of any kind can paralyze and overwhelm.  Fear will cloud reasoning and judgment.  Fear will keep the one sitting in waist deep water from experiencing the joy and freedom of what the deep has to offer.

God calls us to move out into the deep.  To go where we can rely only on his strength.  He calls us to move out into the unknown. To trust him and him alone.  Oh.  It’s easier said than done.  But the joy that obedience and submission to God brings is incomparable.

I wonder what I missed out on by refusing to grab onto a noodle.  By not being willing to get out of my comfort zone and float in the water.  There were those around to help if I struggled.  But no.  I held onto my fear and didn’t even want my water to move.

I wonder how many blessings I miss out on by allowing fear of the unknown to hold me back.  I wonder where God would lead me if I went out into the moving waters of faith knowing that his guiding hand was always holding mine.  I wonder why I so easily trust the lies the enemy puts into my mind, but quickly dismiss God’s truths in my heart.

Fear strangles life and enjoyment.  Fear will stop you cold.  Fear will tell you that you’re not good enough.  Fear will whisper that you can’t do the job.  But know this.  Fear is a liar.

Decide fear will not be your obstacle, as you do the hard thing, and see all the             beautiful things you would’ve missed if you’d lived afraid.                           ~~Rachel Macy Stafford

 Fear is A Liar