So, Who’s #1?


Scripture for the day:  Colossians 1:17-18 “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

My pastor spoke from these passages Sunday, and his message resonated with me.

Verse 17 says that Christ is before all things.  That simply means that He was here before anything in the universe.  He is eternal.  He was here before all things and He will be here after all things perish.  In my topsy-turvy, upside-down world, that is very comforting.  He knows what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.  So when I’m looking for someone to believe, someone to trust, Jesus wins.

The word “consist” means to hold together.  Christ literally holds everything together, maintaining the proper balance to keep everything working as it should.  On any given day, I may or may not be able to hold my life together.  Circumstances arise and my day simply unravels.  But not to worry.  Jesus is able to take my disheveled day and put it back together according to His purpose.

Verse 18 talks about Christ having preeminence in all things.  He wants to be #1 in my heart, in my mind and in my life.  How many things are competing for that place?  Football season is just around the corner.  I’m a fan.  I love football.  So which team is #1?  It is always the biggest question on the minds of fans.  At the start of the season, every team (well, almost every team) claims to be #1.  By midway through the season, however, it is clear that many are no where close to #1.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, Jesus was with me all the way.  He went to surgery with me, watched over me while I was unconscious and was with me when I woke up.  He held my hand during every chemo session, and He was there when the nausea hit.  No matter what time of day or night, He was there.  Always.  My favorite football team, the one I had considered #1?  They never showed up for any of the fun.  Preeminence?  The award has to go to Christ, hands down.

Christ died for me.  He took my sins and nailed them to the cross.  The blood He shed was for me, and He cleansed me.  My desire is to make him #1 in my life.  I want to walk hand-in-hand with Him wherever He leads me.  The path may be steep and rocky at times, but He just wants me to try.  He knows I am weak and get off the path at times, but He is always there to provide strength and direction.

So as football season approaches, I will simply smile when I hear all the talk about which team is #1.  My prayer is that I will simply yield to Christ’s call on my life and let Him be my captain.  Together, we can score big for His kingdom.

Song for the day:  All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdvrL52p8Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdvrL52p8Q

Hidden Scars


My husband is redoing our bedroom. After 38 years, the sheetrock has some cracks and some of the nails have popped. He is removing a few sheets completely; simply patching others. When the sheets are removed, much is revealed! There are numbers written on the studs, dimensions so that my husband knew how long to cut a board, etc. There are also delightful things written by our kids, who were 4 and 7 at the time. They both wrote their names. On one stud, our son simply wanted to state that he was here, and our daughter wrote something about a boy at school. I enjoyed showing my 6-year-old granddaughter things her daddy had written when he was a boy, younger than she is now. In a few weeks, new sheetrock will cover the walls and paint will make the room look fresh and new. All those things beneath will be covered over and forgotten.

Our lives are much like the walls in a house. We have words and events recorded on the studs of our lives. Some are pleasant like the things our children wrote when they were young. But some of us have hurtful things inside, gouges in our framework. We have managed to cover them up, but we know they are there. Daily we have to make sure they are still covered because we’ve been told they are our fault and no one will love us if we tell.

I’m speaking today about physical and sexual abuse. This week I read about a woman whose father had abused her. It started with physical abuse and escalated to sexual abuse. She had borne the scars for 30 years. After her mother died, she confronted her father and he was sentenced to prison. When asked why he did it, he said, “I didn’t have money to pay a prostitute.” Hard words to hear. Impossible words to comprehend. The lady is healing now because she had the courage to face her abuser, confront him with the things he had done to her as a child, and seek punishment for his deeds. It is a start.

If you are reading this today and have scars from your past, I urge you to deal with them. Grab a pry bar and remove one piece of trim from the doorpost of your heart. When you are ready, use that same tool to remove some sheetrock. Maybe it is just a small piece. That’s fine. Look at the board underneath; touch it; examine it. When you are ready, remove another piece of sheetrock. I think you will find it easier as you go along, but take your time.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God is with you as you remove the sheetrock. He is with you as you examine the scars underneath. He is with you if you take the bold step to tell someone.

As parents, we usually describe abusers as monsters hiding in the bushes or in dark places. Truthfully, though, they are too often trusted adults. It is hard for a child to see “Pastor Tom”, “Coach Michael”, “Uncle George” or even daddy as the boogie man hiding in the bushes. To complicate matters further for the victim, the abuser usually threatens them and says horrible things will happen if they tell. They are also made to feel it is their fault. Deep scars are left on the framework of their hearts.

Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” It is one thing to expose the hurt, even more difficult to talk about it, but forgiveness seems impossible. And yet, we are told to forgive those who hurt us, just as Christ forgave us. I know from personal experience that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. I have never been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, but I have had hatred in my heart because of a wrong. It wasn’t until I forgave that person that I was able to move on with my life.

If you are the victim of abuse, I urge you to seek help. You are not alone. You are worthy. You are loved. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves you. He sent His Son to save you. Let Him hold you, comfort you until you are strong enough to stand and look at your hidden scars.

All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus


Scripture for the day: 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

I have always cared about my physical appearance. My hair, my nails, my body were always important to me. I fell for all the ads about using certain products to make my hair shine, my nails grow, my body look great. It was an obsession when I was a teenager, and it consumed a lot of my time. I even remember “needing” a certain lipstick so badly that I charged a tube at the drug store where my parents had an account. I felt certain my tiny little charge would go unnoticed when my dad paid the bill at the end of the month. Wrong. I was in big trouble, and I learned a lesson. I never liked that lipstick and felt duped by the advertising. It was a first in a long line of lessons about wants vs needs.

And then along came cancer. First it started consuming my body, stealing precious nutrients to grow tumors inside of me. The tumors grew and crowded out major organs of my body. The body that had served me so well was under siege, and it was losing. In order to save my life, a skilled surgeon removed the tumors and other damaged areas of my body. In a few weeks, my body started to recover from the assault. I started to feel like me again. Almost. Then chemo was tossed into the mix of things. The person I had been: the hair, the nails, the body were simply gone. I saw a pale, sick, depressed person in the mirror that I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to know her. But God saw His child. He loved me, and He had a plan.

I grieved for the person I had lost. I couldn’t see that God was making a new creature. He was taking the old me and creating someone new, someone more in His image. I remember returning to my church for the first time after chemo. I didn’t wear my wig, testing out the new “me” in a safe environment. A little girl whose mom had been a real prayer warrior for me asked “Who are you?” I thought it was a very good question, and I started trying to find the answer.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” All through my ordeal, God had protected me, guided me, guarded me. I realized how totally dependent on Him I was for everything. And He was all I needed.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I was so sick and overwhelmed by cancer and the treatment that I simply submitted. Totally. I didn’t have the energy to worry about tomorrow. I simply knew God was with me. He gave me the strength, the joy to face each new day.

God had to knock me flat to enable me see Him, trust Him for everything. And I am so glad He did.

Heavenly Sonlight


Scripture for the day:  Proverbs 23:7  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
My pastor gave an excellent sermon Sunday about our thought life.  It was very relevant for me.  Sometimes in my mind I am critical of something someone does or says, but I just smile and say nothing.  Sometimes those little thoughts take over my mind and multiply.  It’s pretty obvious they don’t come from God but from satan.  They are poisonous to me, but too often I don’t run from them.  I tolerate them.

They start innocently enough, small, seemingly harmless but quite deadly.  From that little thought comes a decision to act on the thought or not.  I usually don’t act on them, but the poison is there.  The problem is they can grow, become a habit.  Once they are habitual, they have a home.  I become comfortable with them, hardly notice them, and they settle in.

I spent some time in prayer and decided it was time to clean!  I took out my broom and dust pan and got busy .  I not only swept the main hallways of my heart, but I checked the nooks and crannies.  There were several nasty thoughts hidden there, and I caught them off guard.  I swept them into my dust pan and tossed them into the trash.

I took a look at the windows of my heart.  They were a little cloudy from negativity, so I started cleaning and polishing the windows.  Soon, they were clean and glistening, and the heavenly sunlight was flooding in.  In 2 Corinthians 4:6 it says “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Negative thoughts are sneaky little critters, though.  They’ll climb out of the trash and try to sneak back into my mind.  They will cover my windows with a gray film and block the light.  I’m armed now, though, standing on God’s Word.  Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I want God’s peace in my life, and I want to think on His things.  My cleaning today was good.  I will keep my Bible handy, though, just in case any of those negative critters try to make a comeback.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”  A stronghold is simply a devilish idea and I must attack it with the sword of the Spirit and fight. It is an ongoing battle, but I will be victorious in Him.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  I will win.  I will bring my mind, heart and soul under the control of God.  Those little dust bunnies can just stay in the trash.

Song for the day:  “Heavenly Sunlight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzyQBkatt-c

God’s Will or My Will?


Scripture for the day: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

I strive to do God’s will, but I sometimes struggle with His call on my life. Is it His will or my own? Am I listening to the voice of God or the crowd? Am I being obedient or self-serving?

I have learned through experience that I am happier when I am in God’s will than when I am not. I tried life without Him after my father died, and I was miserable. I was happy at times, but the deep abiding joy that only comes from a relationship with the Father was missing. I returned to Him on my knees and will never leave again.

Through my cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery God has given me a special purpose. I am able to understand, at least partially, what cancer patients are dealing with. Some patients have it much worse than I did, but I have a better idea than someone who has never been diagnosed with cancer. I thank Him daily for my restored health and the ministry He has given me.

Sometimes, though, His will for my life is vague. I don’t have a clear sense of direction or purpose. It is at those times that I remember this scripture and go to His Word. On a daily basis, I am to love the Lord my God. I am also supposed to love my neighbor. Not just the neighbors I like, but all of them. He also threw enemies in the mix, although I’m not aware of many of those in my life. I’m to be generous with my time and my talents, my money. I’m to let the Holy Spirit work in me, control me.

Goodness. Maybe I don’t need a specific task! I think I have enough to do just from His Word. Maybe I just need to study my Bible more and be obedient to what I find on those pages.  It seems like a good place to start.

Song for the day:  “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SooFL-X7vnk

How Great Thou Art


Scripture for the day:  Matthew 11:30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This has been my summer of busyness.  I’ve had volunteer responsibilities and the joy of keeping my granddaughter two days a week, in addition to trying to feed us well and stay healthy.  This week is quiet, with only one obligation at the end of the week.  I am needing this quiet time to rest my body and my soul.

Last night was not meant for sleep for me, so I got up at 4:00 a.m. and went outside.  The super moon was so bright that I could see everything around me, and yet it was very quiet.  The chairs were illuminated on the deck, but no one was sitting in them.  The hummingbird feeders were by the deck, but there was no humming and buzzing about.  Even the crickets and cicadas seemed to be taking some time off from their normal chatter.  I simply stood and looked up at the heavens.

Psalm 46:10 says:  “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  I took some time in the quiet of the morning to just look at the majesty of the heavens.  Psalm 8:1 says it well, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!”  I was transfixed by the beauty of His creation, and I praised Him that I could be a part of His majesty.

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”  In the quiet of the moment, I wondered why God would care about me.  But He does.  He wants a relationship with me.  My life matters.  My soul matters.  He cares.  Deeply.

And so I humble myself before Him today.  I thank Him for his countless blessings, past, present and future.  I thank Him for sending Jesus, His only son, to die on a cross to save me.  I thank Him for His divine intervention in my life and for the forgiveness of sins.  I give Him praise, honor and glory.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Forever.

Song for the day:  “How Great Thou Art”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yQPce84RC8

The Pencil


A few weeks ago, I read a blog that touched my heart.  The author was anonymous, so I am unable to give credit.  I would like to share the thoughts and expand on them a bit.

A pencil maker told a new pencil there were five things he needed to know before he was sent out into the world.  If he never forgot them, he would become the best pencil he could be.

1.  You will be able to do great things but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.

2.  You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time but you will need it to become a better pencil.

3.  You will be able to correct any mistakes you make.

4.  The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

5.  On every surface you are used on, you will leave your mark.

Now, let’s replace the pencil with you.  Remember these five things and you will become the person God designed you to be.

1.  You will be able to do great things but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.”

God has a plan for each of us, and He will guide us in the right direction if we allow Him to hold us.  He has given each of us special gifts, and it is His desire that we use those gifts.  If He is holding us in His hand, we will develop those gifts and use them to His glory.

2.  You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time by going through various problems and difficulties, but you’ll become a stronger, better person because of it.

Proverbs 3:12 “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent.”

We learn and profit from the hard times in our lives.  God uses difficulties to sharpen us, make us better, stronger.

3.  You will be able to correct any mistakes you make.

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

We all make mistakes.  We stumble at times, perhaps even fall, but through His grace we can stand up and start again.  When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin in our lives, we can go to the throne of grace, confess and be forgiven.  God doesn’t remember our mistakes and neither should we.  Learn from the mistake but don’t dwell on it.  Move forward in God’s grace.

4.  The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Focus on what is inside you because that is what matters.  Charm, beauty, outward appearances are all fleeting. What remains is the heart, and that is what God sees.

5.  On every surface you walk through, you will leave your mark.

John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 I will make my mark every where I go today.  Will my mark be one of love or disdain?  I am a disciple every day, not just when I feel like it or want to show His love.  Everywhere I go, I either show I am a follower of Christ and honor Him with my life or I don’t.  Do I take the time to share the gospel with others?  Do I witness, share my testimony, tell people what Jesus has done for me or do I stand still, quiet, uninvolved?

I will make a mark today.  It is my prayer that He will hold me in His hand, show me the path to take.  If I need to be sharpened, I pray that I will take it graciously and learn from it.  When I stumble, I pray that I will recognize my sin and give it to Jesus.  I will make my mark on everything I touch today.  I pray it is for Jesus.

Song for the day:  “Living for Jesus”

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rChnJ15-mj0

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