Attracting Others

As Christians, our goal is to see others make the decision to live for God. To repent of their sins and live in obedience to God’s Word. In order for those who haven’t made that decision to get there, we must make Christianity attractive. But how do we do that? Because what they know of Christianity doesn’t appeal to them. If someone hasn’t read and studied the Bible, all they know about Christians is what they do and don’t do. What they stand for and what they stand against. They think it’s all about rules they don’t want to follow.

Look like this. Don’t look like that. Wear this. Don’t wear that. Go here. Don’t go there. Drink this. Don’t drink that. Say this. Don’t say that. Sleep here. Don’t sleep there. Rules like that don’t attract too many people. But what message are we sending when we say and do the same things they say and do? What sets us apart? What makes us different if we’re just like them?

And it really shouldn’t be an us or them kind of issue. Should it? But for this moment, let’s think along those terms. Just to see where it takes us. No judging. Just considering how to appeal to those who don’t call themselves Christians. Because really. We are in two sets of camps, based on our beliefs.

How do we make living a Christian life appealing to those who don’t want it? After all, the Bible tells us that we who believe carry the scent of death to those who don’t believe. Yet the aroma of Christ is sweet. But they can’t smell the sweetness. So why would they want it? Who is attracted to stink, after all?

Some people think they need to change. To clean up their lives before they turn themselves over to Christ. But he doesn’t require that. He invites you to come to him just as you are. He will let you know when or if he wants you to change.

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The gospel is offensive. It has always been offensive to those in rebellion to Christ. God isn’t going to change who he is. We need him to change who we are or face the consequences!

Samuel E. Tolley III

And those who haven’t accepted the message of salvation and repentance think we are fools for believing it. After all. If we’re good, isn’t that good enough? Some would say so. But for those who believe the Bible speaks the truth, we know that being good isn’t good enough. Because we’re never going to be good enough on our own. We need the saving blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. We need to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. Then we, too, will be covered with the life-giving perfume.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 8

So. If the gospel is offensive to those who don’t believe, how do we make it un-offensive? How do we attract others to faith in Christ?


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:5


Of course. The Bible gives us some guidelines to follow in order to attract others to Christianity. We must show love to everyone, even when we don’t feel like it. And especially when others don’t deserve it. We must be joyful. Joy comes from a deep abiding peace that when we trust God in all circumstances. We must pursue peace with everyone. Even when it’s difficult. We must turn the other cheek, but we don’t have to allow others to walk all over us. We’re told that patience is a virtue, but it speaks volumes when put into action. Being kind to others should be a given. We think. But sometimes we have to try a little harder than expected, but the payout is worth it. Goodness and faithfulness. Gentleness and self-control. When others see these fruits of the spirit in our lives, they will wonder how it’s possible to live in such a manner. We have the opportunity to show that Christ living in us makes us more like him. And that he makes a difference in how we live our lives. We always have a choice as to how we live and how we treat others. And a godly lifestyle is attractive, even when others don’t know where the godliness comes from.

We always have a choice as to the type of employee or employer we will be. Go to work and do a good job. Be faithful. Be diligent. Speak up when necessary. And keep quiet when necessary. Others will notice. Be a good neighbor. Show kindness to those in need. Be generous, but not overly frivolous. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t complain or argue.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15

We believers can do this. We can live a life that makes others want peace, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Oh. We may not get it right every time, but let’s show the world that they need what we have. And let’s do it with grace.

Let Me Count the Ways

A famous poem begins with a standout line. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The Bible tells us the different ways we must love God. Let’s count those ways.

You must love the Lord your God. Loving God means we put him first. We are satisfied in our relationship with him. God is our first priority. Our love for God must be undivided. We willingly obey God. After all, we were created to be one with God. To be for him. Not against him. But in order to love God, we have to know him. And in order to know God, we must spend time with him.

Loving God means that we believe his word. His word is true and everlasting. He will not fail us. When we love God, we trust him. Loving God brings thankfulness and praise for him. When we love God, we must put him first with our heart, our soul, our strength and our mind. And we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Our hearts are beating vessels. They provide life on a beat by beat basis. If our heart stops beating, our life ends. So, loving God is the heartbeat of our life. It keeps us going. Our love for God continues as does a beating heart. And when the heart has problems, surgery may be required. Open heart surgery. And that can be life giving. Life renewing. Life sustaining. Loving the Lord your God may require surgery with precision to keep that heart beating in rhythm with him.

Loving God shows that we want to be in rhythm with him, keeping the beat in tune with him. Keeping our step in sync with him. One heartbeat after another in perfect rhythm, walking with God. Walking with God in perfect rhythm is love. That only happens when we have spent time in open heart surgery with God. Having him prune out the dead branches. The underperforming vines of our lives. We need this continual pruning. Our hearts must be strong following God’s will, walking in sync with him.

Love the Lord your God with all your soul. Our soul was made for eternity. The soul is the eternal embodiment of our human lives, and our soul is the part of us that will live eternally. We have the choice of where our soul lives. Heaven or hell. So to love the Lord our God with all our soul means we have made that eternal choice. We have chosen to live in eternity with God. That is the choice that we continue to make day after day after day. Because yes, each day we do have a choice of how we’re going to live. We must daily ask ourselves. Am I going to live for God or am I going to live against God. We can’t have it both ways.

Our soul is our sustaining breath of life, and it does not die. So once we move from this life into the next, our souls will continue to live in eternity with God if we have chosen to love and follow him. Because it’s not until we breathe our last breath on this earth that we move to our eternal destination. Heaven should be our only goal. Hell should never be our choice. But people choose it every day, perhaps unknowingly. But we have a choice. We can choose to live with God in eternity, where our soul will thrive in perfect beauty as we walk the streets of gold. Or our soul will be in eternal torment, because we have turned our back on the love of God. We repay Jesus Christ for His sacrificial death on the cross by giving Him our hearts, our souls, our minds and our strength. And that reward is our soul will be in eternity with him.

Love the Lord your God with all your strength. Our bodies are made for strength. If we work out our muscles, they will strengthen. That strength allows a person to lift heavy objects and perform great feats. But the process of building strength takes time and perseverance. Strength making takes discipline and hard work. Muscles must endure repetitious movements in order to strengthen.

When I think of strength, I think of power and endurance. Strength gives hope to the weak and power to the powerless. Strength allows one to hold on when they feel they’re at the end of their rope. Strength is only available through endurance, perseverance and struggles. It doesn’t just come naturally. Strength comes from putting in the time building up that reserve. Walking through difficult times. The athlete, or weekend warrior, becomes strong through repetitive motions through a routine that continually extends the ability of certain muscles, and strengthens and builds and empowers. Strength isn’t built by doing nothing.

When we say love the Lord our God with all our strength, it means that we have endured. We have endured, tough times. Uncertainties. Difficulties. Over time, we’ve learned that our strength is in the Lord, and that we can’t be strong alone. Our strength does not come from ourselves. It comes from God and God alone. And that strength flows over into love. Love for the one who was with us during that difficult time. Love for the one who empowered us to make tough decisions. Walk through flames of fire. Fight the battle between good and evil. God’s love is strength. So, in turn, he provides strength to those who love him.

And that strengthening love flows into other areas of our lives. When we must persevere in difficult trials and situations, or unexpected turns of life, the strength comes when our reserves are filled. Those times that we must dip into that strength shows the power available at just the moment we need it. That strength is everlasting. We must build up our reserves. We must put put forth the work that brings strength, that builds strength. Because in those tough times it will be that strengthening love that sustains us. If we’re empty. If we’re weak. Our love will grow cold.


You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27


Love the Lord your God with all your mind. Our mind is a powerful thing. At times, we think it knows no ends. Because we can remember many things. We can learn many things. We can think many things. At times, we’re easily distracted and other times our mind can be laser focused. We choose what we put into our mind. We make choices daily with the type of music we listen to. The shows that are streaming on our TV and movies that we choose to watch. We allow ideas to be placed into our mind by the books we read. And by the conversations we have. By the people we associate with. Our minds are filled with words and thoughts and dreams and goals.

We can control, to a certain degree, what goes into our minds. We have to know when to shut off evil influences, and we need to choose to fill our mind with godly influences, godly conversations, godly examples. We have that choice, but not always. Sometimes we run into situations where we can’t plan ahead, and we face evil influences. We don’t have to continue those. We can limit our interactions with ungodly influences. If those ungodly influences trigger our mind to sin and to dwell on inappropriate behavior or thoughts. If those ungodly books or movies or websites, or people influence us. We must stand for truth, because those evil influences do just as they say. They influence our hearts and minds. And that puts our soul in dangerous territory.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to others. How often do I wrong myself? Not very often. You say. So why do we do wrong to others? Why? This is not a romantic love. This is a godly, eternal love for our neighbor. Loving God is loving your neighbor. If we love God, it will change the way we love others. Loving God helps us to forgive those who have wronged us. Our love for God moves us to show grace to those who have offended us. Loving God is loving others, whether we realize it or not. Our love for God will naturally flow over into love for our neighbors, our coworkers, our family, and even to the unlovable.

Loving others means that we love those we disagree with. Whether it’s social issues, political issues, family choices or lifestyles. Loving God means that we love everyone, as God has loved us. Because we too can be very disagreeable at times. We too can be unlovable at times. We don’t have to agree with someone in order to love them. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone. But we can choose to show godly love to everyone. Because everyone was made in God’s image. We are his image bearers. Let’s live like it.

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?

Boiling Point

It’s easy to get frustrated these days. Annoyed over the most petty things. But emotions have been building for weeks now, and I’ve reached the boiling point. When for once, you want something for nothing and you’re asked to give even more. Enough.

There I said it.

Coworkers asked for a lifeline, but were instead given what feels like a noose. Perhaps I exaggerate, but feeling are raw in the moment.

We asked for mercy. We need some down time, we said. Flex time. So we can have a few hours that we would normally be working to just not work. Sure. They said. That sounds like a great idea. We wanted something for nothing at a time when all we’re doing is giving. But no.

They said sure. Take extra hours off each week. But make them up. You can even work on Saturday and Sunday to make up the extra hours. Go ahead.

Why did a good thing all of a sudden feel like a punch to the gut? Why, in a time when people are suffering. When those working need some time off, we’re slammed with extra work and lack of understanding.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re thankful to be working. To still be employed. We’re just asking for a break before we’re slammed with work and can’t take time off.

We’re all frustrated. Getting more so by the day. But who cares? It seems they’re only hearing the words being said and not the words that aren’t. It would be helpful at a time like this for those in authority to really listen. Sure. They make their own hours. The company is their responsibility. Their personal investment is on the line. They say we’re doing great work. But work some more. They say. And when things get back to normal, we’ll be swamped with a lot more work.

No rest for the weary.

I know I rant. I apologize.


Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:5


I was so close to taking my frustrations out on those I love. In these moments, even petty annoyances seem like mountains. I was even close to tears. I knew I needed to step back and assess the situation. I knew I needed to go to the One who provides calm when the storm is raging. I opened the Word and searched for words to sooth a frustrated heart.

I read multiple verses until I found the one that stuck a dagger in my heart. The verse that told me I was in the wrong. The verse told me that if I proceeded with using strong words when words of kindness and grace were needed, I was at risk of sinning. So I stepped back. My heart fell on its knees and repented. My soul needs a scrubbing in days like these. I realized my soul covering needs to be replaced every day, because the filter gets full of unwanted sin germs and can no longer filter.

Oh. I’ve lived through worse times. Unemployment. Death of loved ones. So I know I’ll get through this. I know I’ll come out having learned lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn. But in the thick of it, the lessons are hard. And at times, my heart feels hard.

Just when I thought I was doing fine keeping it together during this pandemic, the truth comes out. And I realize it’s uglier than I want to admit. Soul work is hard even when life is all you want it to be. Even harder when life is tough. But I know that God is good even when life seems unfair. And I’ll chalk up this frustrating moment as a life lesson that I don’t want to repeat. Because words once said can’t be unsaid.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Will Rogers

This Man

This man. He is the love of my life. We shared the vows. For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In sickness and in health. Till death us do part. We signed the pledge. We are one.

This man. He is a man of strength. He is a man of his word. He is kind. He is faithful. He is honorable. He is a problem solver.

This man. He has the gift of helps. He enjoys serving others. Helping them to find the work that is right for them. He is a mentor to young men at his work place. He counsels them. He encourages them. He corrects them. He guides them to thinking about others more than self. He stands up for those who have been wronged and counsels those who are guilty.

This man. He is a type-A personality. He was a workaholic in his younger years. He spent more time at work than anywhere else. He knows the value of hard work. Now he has learned the value of slowing down. Of taking time for himself. Taking it easy is now a gentle reminder of a hard day’s work.

This man. I recall the years when he was his mother’s caregiver. Each week, he would buy and deliver her groceries. He would spend time with her. Take her to appointments. Pay her bills. Sit and listen to her. He honored his mother and took care of her earthly needs until her dying day.


This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12


This man. He seemed to enjoy the spotlight when he was young. He enjoyed being the center of attention. But as he grew more comfortable with himself and his lot in life, his true personality shone forth. He is an introvert. He enjoys time alone. He enjoys quiet hobbies. He looks forward to being in the comfort of his home, yet he always welcomes newcomers with a smile and a handshake. He’s comfortable in his own skin.

This man. He gives good advice. He owns godly wisdom like it’s no one’s business. He speaks words of truth and depth, when at times it isn’t popular. He offers advice from his years of working with a range of personalities. He’s spent years working for taskmasters and also for those who treated him as an equal. He makes others feel welcome and wanted.

This man. At his core, he is a musician. He makes music as if it’s a simple task. His talent reaches to the heart of the listener. He plays his instruments with a gentle touch, yet the sound is powerful enough to move one to tears.

This man. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows the whip of rejection, yet he has experienced the brush of exoneration. He fights for the underdog. He stands for truth and honor.

This man. My husband. The one I choose to call my own. He’s worth more than a thousand men and stands tall among his peers. Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.

We Have the Hope

She walked into my office and sat down. I don’t think I can do this job. She said. I understood where she was coming from. Just a few short months ago, I was saying the same words.

I told her there was hope. Things will click. It just takes time.  You will get there. I continue to give her words of encouragement, because I know she’s capable. I know if she sticks to it, she will have more than hope. She will have a newfound confidence that comes only through perseverance. I know that eventually she will be able to encourage other new ones who come behind her to persevere in their time of learning.

The thing is. I can’t rescue her from the difficulties she is facing. I can’t relieve the fears she feels in her insecurities. I can’t do the job for her. I have my own work to do. She must face the uncertainties and newness with boldness and strength. She must be willing to do the hard work in order to see the results. I hope she is willing.

But fear is a thing to be reckoned with. It can overtake. Overwhelm. Overrule our good intentions. It can pull us under if we don’t think rationally about the reality of the situation. Oh. It’s ok to be fearful. But fear doesn’t have to rule our lives and thoughts and actions. Fear is a liar.

There is hope. Without hope, we crumble. We fall. We lose our way. But when hope surfaces, the sun shines brighter. The flowers are prettier. The breathing is clearer. The day is worth living.

We all need something to hope for. Something to get us out of bed in the morning. But what is it? What do I hope for? What is my deepest longing?

I have given Christ countless reasons not to love me. None of them changed his mind. Paul Washer

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?


No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39


I’ll tell you what gives me hope and quiets my fears.

Nothing can separate me from God’s love. Not even trouble or calamity. Not even persecution or hunger or poverty or danger. Not even if I’m threatened with death. God loves me even in the hard times.

Death or life can’t separate me from God’s love. Neither can angels or demons. The fears of today and the worries of tomorrow can’t make God stop loving me. The powers of hell can’t separate me from God’s love.

There is no power in the sky above or in the earth below that can remove God’s love from me. Nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate me from God’s love.

Jesus Christ is mightily loving his people with omnipotent, moment-by-moment love that does not always rescue us from calamity but preserves us for everlasting joy in his presence even through suffering and death. John Piper

The good news is this. God’s love is forever. It is eternal. His love is so deep and so wide. It encompasses everything. No matter what I do or what I say. God will still love me. He can’t stop loving me.

That’s why he paid the ultimate price by giving his Son in my place. That gives me a hope that never runs dry. God’s love is forever. And therein lies my hope.

Great Commission

I heard the phrase on the news again. I never want another person to have to go through what I’ve gone through. It’s a phrase I hear often on the news. Someone was treated unfairly. Someone’s child was bullied. Someone lost a loved one too soon. Someone was swindled out of their life savings. Someone lost everything. Someone was the victim of a crime. And the list goes on.

We never want others to experience the same difficulties we’ve faced. So we share our story. Hoping someone will learn lessons we learned too late. Hoping our loss will help steer someone clear of the same grief. Or teach them how to cope better than we did.

Does it work? Our sharing? Do others listen and learn from our tough times? We only hope they do. Because we’ve learned from those times that we can survive. We’ve learned some wounds will heal and become scars. Reminders of our suffering. We’ve learned we must forgive. We’ve learned that life goes on. Even when we feel that we can’t. But we do.



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? Romans 10:14


What if we would say this. I don’t want anyone else to go through life not knowing God. I don’t want anyone to live life thinking they have to be self sufficient. I don’t want anyone else to live without God being their source of strength. I don’t want anyone else to die without being ready to meet God. What would I have to do to make sure that happened?

If only everyone knew that in times of grief, God will give sustaining grace. If only everyone experienced the peace that comes with God’s forgiveness. Do people know that God doesn’t lie? When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Always. Does everyone know that God forgives and forgets? Does everyone know that God is three in one? God the Father. God the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit. They’re all different, but they’re one.

Does it work? Our sharing of our faith? Does sharing how God will never quit loving each of us and that He’s always available make a difference in someone else’s life? I hope and pray that it makes a difference. Otherwise. People will be lost. People will live without hope if they haven’t heard that God loves them.

We should tell our story.  Our hurts. Our fears. Our shame. Our successes.  Our failures.  Our losses. Our redemption.  How else will others know salvation is worth it? How will someone else know that a relationship with God is the most important one they could ever have? How will the world know unless those who walk with Christ lead others to him?

There is a great commission. Go and tell everyone that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords. That Jesus died for them. That he wants to spend eternity with them in heaven. That they can escape hell. 

Good Good Father

I’ve heard it said that a person’s view of God is based on their relationship with their dad.  I’ve always had a respectful view of God.  I trust him.  I love him.  He is the authority.  Let me tell you why that is my impression of God.

My dad was always in charge.  He was the leader of our family.  He was the provider.  The authoritarian.  He was a tease.  He had a great sense of humor.  He had a great work ethic.  He loved his work.  He loved his family.  He helped those in need.

My dad  provided everything I needed.  No.  He didn’t give me everything I wanted.  But I never went hungry.  I was always clothed.  He built our home.  I was warm when I needed to be.  I was cool when I needed to be.

My dad taught me to work.  Whether I liked it or not, my dad handed out chores for his kids to do.  Mowing the lawn.  Weeding the garden.  Cleaning the hog house.  Working on the farm.

I saw my dad spending time with God every day.  He would read his Bible before breakfast.  He would lead our family in devotions every night before bed.  He would pray for us.  He would pray with us.  My dad made sure his family spent time in God’s word every day.

My dad was always present.  He was available when we needed him.  Oh.  He worked hard.  He worked long hours.  But he always took a Sabbath to rest and restore his spirit.  He was in a noisy environment a lot of the day, so he wanted peace and quiet at home.  That wasn’t easy with seven kids.  But we knew that once he walked in the door, the piano practice time was over.  The radio was turned off.  He wanted to hear himself think.

My dad was a disciplinarian.  When we did wrong.  And we did.  He disciplined us.  It wasn’t pleasant, but it taught us to respect authority and trust his leadership.

Oh.  My dad wasn’t perfect.  But he was honest.  He was a powerful influence in my life.  He took his faith seriously.  He had a library of Bible commentaries, Christian books and Bibles to study as he prepared to teach his Sunday School class each week.

My dad is the man I measured all other men by.  He set the standard high.

He was a good good father.


The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails.          Psalm 103:8

I think of God.  My heavenly Father.  He is the giver of life.  He is the lover of my soul.  He provides for all my needs.

My heavenly Father allows me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but he calms my fear of evil.  My God is so wise that He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  When I am fearful, he alone is my source of strength and resilience.

Oh.  He disciplines me.  When I disobey, he teaches me how to be more like Him.  When I don’t spend enough time with Him, He calls me back.

The thing about God.  He is perfect.  He knows exactly what I need when I need it.  He provides at just the right time.  He does no wrong.  He cannot.  He will not.

My God is always with me.  I can’t move without him knowing it.  Oh.  He can see everything I do.   He hears every word I speak.  He reads my every thought.  He never leaves my side.  He is always available anytime I call out to him.  He fights for me.  He works on my behalf.

God shows me favor.  At times, I feel as if I’m his favorite child.  He showers me with blessings that I don’t deserve.  He loves me unconditionally.  No matter what I do, He never gives up on me.  He will not stop loving me.

He is the God I measure all other gods by.  May I never waver in the God I serve.

He is a good good Father.

 

 

 

Who are you wearing

It’s awards season.  The nominees have been announced.  They’ll get all fancied up.  For the event.  They’ll spend hours primping and priming and tucking and sleeking.  Hair is done.  Makeup is done.  Nails are done.  Nothing is left undone.  They must look their best.  The world will be watching.  Mostly from afar.

They’ve fasted.  They’ve dieted.  They’ve cleansed.  They’re as thin as they’re going to be.  For that night.

They’ve been offered the best of the best among the dresses.  The jewelry.  The shoes.  They must choose the attire they think will outshine everyone else.  For everyone else will be looking.  They will all be looking.  Hoping to win the best dressed award.  Which really isn’t an award.  It’s an opinion.  But opinions do matter.  Especially on this night.

I’ve watched the red carpet events for years.  Oh.  Not the actual awards shows.  But the shows as the gowns are being paraded down the red carpet.  The women pose.  First to the front with hand on hip.  Then flip out the leg if the slit is high enough.  And it is usually high enough.  Turn around to show off the back of the dress.  If the dress has a back.  Smile your brightest whitest smile.

They’re all waiting for the question.  The one question.  It’s a big question.  It’s asked at every event.  Supposedly made famous by Joan Rivers.  Who are you wearing?  That’s the question.  Oh.  It’s important.  It’s very important to give the designer’s name.  The name of the person who created the dress.  You see.  If someone rich and famous wears that designer’s clothes, then it’s assumed the rest of us will want to wear them.  Or knockoffs.  Whatever fits the budget.  Oh.  It’s a serious thing.  It’s a money maker.

But woe is the designer whose dress makes the worst dressed list.  As one show says.  One day you’re in.  The next day you’re out.  All because of other people’s opinions.

One particular event.  Every woman wore black.  They were making a statement.  They were taking names.  They were sharing a message.  With the color of their dress.  That event wasn’t so much about who they were wearing.  But it was about the color they were wearing.  Or weren’t wearing.  Fighting for a cause of their choice.  Daring others to join in or be called out.


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8


The way I see it.  I have a choice every day.  Every single day.  Which designer will I wear?  There are two designers to choose from.  Some may think two isn’t much of a selection.  Frankly.  One is all we need.  But we have a choice.  There’s an obvious difference in their designs.  In their taste level.  In their purpose.  And the choice makes a huge difference.  In everything.  One designer is the master creator.  The other is the master deceiver.

The master creator clothes us with truth.  Honor.  Respect.  Purity.  Love.  Grace.  And the price for all this. You ask.  There is no cost.  For us.  He paid a great price.  He gave his only son so we could be clothed in forgiveness.

The deceiver.  He clothes his followers with arrogance.  Deceit.  Murder.  Evil.  Wickedness.  Conflict.  Lies.
Oh.  The deceiver had his chance to work with the master designer.  But he wanted the top position.  It didn’t end well for him.  So he’s trying to trick anyone and everyone to wear his designs.  But don’t be fooled.  His designs come at a great price.
Just so you know.  Everyone is watching.  They’re listening.  They’re looking to see which designer you’ve chosen.  Is it easy to tell at first glance?  Do others ask for the name of your designer, because they like what they see?  Or are your knockoffs easy to spot?
So I dare to ask.  Who are you wearing?

 

We Can Change

Change is good.  That’s what they say.  Whoever they are.

We change our diets.  If we have to.  We change jobs.  Some people change spouses.  We can even change our gender.  On the outside, at least.

We change to try to please others.  To get in their good graces.  To get on their good side.

We change the color of our hair.  We change our weight.  We change our zip code.  We change.

I remember a couple of changes I made.  Not big changes.  Petty ones, really.  I remember when grocery stores switched from paper bags to plastic.  I resisted.  I didn’t want plastic bags.  The funny thing is.  I got used to them.  Now I’m told that plastic is environmentally unfriendly.  Stores are returning to paper.  I find myself resisting again.  I’ve changed.

When paper towels became available in full and half sizes, I resisted.  I wanted the full size.  Now I only buy the ones with an option.   Full or half size.  I sometimes feel that I’m being wasteful if I use a full paper towel when I only need a half size.   I’ve changed.

I used to drink pop.  Now I don’t.  I used to eat sugar.  Now I don’t.  I used to take naps.  Now I don’t.  I’ve changed.

So we can change.  We just don’t want to.  It isn’t easy.  It isn’t fun.  It upsets our routines.  We’re set in our ways.  But we can change.  We just have to want to.  We have to work on changing.

What changes do we make just to make our life easier?  What bad habits do we stop doing?  What bad words do we stop saying?  What bad attitudes do we correct?  What gossip do we stop spreading?

What changes do we willingly make?  What is the good we intentionally start doing?

There are some changes that I resist.  No matter what.  I just don’t want to change.  It just seems too hard to change a bad attitude.  That would take work.  And will power.  It’s hard to love the unlovable.  Those who treat us bad or bully us or reject us.  But we can love them.  Love is a choice.


And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  Ezekiel 36:26


If I listed all the changes I’ve made in my life, would I even be able to list one character flaw that I’ve worked to change?  Do I expect God to forgive me and then me not be willing to change?

Isn’t maturity a sign of change?  Isn’t change a sign of maturity?

Look at Paul.  I mean Saul.  Saul changed.  God called out to him.  And Saul changed his life.  He changed his behavior.  He changed his motives.  He went from hunting Christians to being a leader of Christians.  He changed his name.  Paul changed.

The soul that’s in tune with God.  That truly loves God will change.  Will want to change the old for the new.  Old attitudes for new.  Old beliefs for new.  Old ways for new.  Perhaps old friends for new.  It’s possible.  It can happen.  Our hearts can change.  Our hearts must change.