Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tough As Peter

It had been a hard day at work, and I was exhausted. It was more than work, of course, that had exhausted me.  The day had started early with two trips to the barn to feed horses and let them out, with a blog post written in between.  After that, I had headed to work, where the scheduled had been jam-packed.  Before I left the office that afternoon, I text'd a brief synopsis of the day to my boss.  He quickly text'd back, "You are tough." With all the different interests and activities I have, I suppose you might think that, but only because you didn't know my Aunt Peter.

Aunt Peter was really Aunt Velma.  One of my older cousins had given her the dubious nickname, she didn't complaint, and the nickname stuck. Aunt Peter it was, and most of us called her that. Aunt Peter was a widow who lived alone and managed quite nicely.  That may not seem remarkable, but she was essentially blind, having had one eye removed and the other having almost no vision.  To make matters more difficult, she had such severe rheumatoid arthritis, as well as deformities related to a severe burn as a child, that it was a wonder she could walk at all.  Her head was chronically tilted to one side, frozen in place.  Her fingers were gnarled and overlapping, and she had almost no movement at all in her hands.  Her thumbs, though, were mobile.  If you asked her, those thumbs were a great blessing.

There was also the problem of her feet.  The deformities in her feet were almost as severe as those of her hands.  The only reason that she could wear shoes was that a kind cobbler in our town would take a leather shoe, just big enough for those tiny gnarled feet, cut out windows for all the deformities, and sew leather patches over them to make room and prevent pressure.  If she ever had a foot ulcer, I never knew it, and it was a direct result of the efforts of Mr. Lyman, the "shoe man".

Aunt Peter had devised all kinds of devices to help her make it in her little house alone.  She had pinchers on a long handle that allowed her to grasp most anything she wanted off her shelves.  She was something else with a broom handle!  She could move just about anything with that handle. If she had anything other than canned peaches and Sweet Sue Chicken and dumplings on her shelves, I never saw it.  I'm not sure how healthy her diet was, but she was certain to be happy with whichever can she knocked off her shelf.

 Now lest you think that a blind woman who was so crippled might have a dirty house, let me put that to rest.  Aunt Peter believed in mopping the floor until the rinse water was clear.  She might not be able to tell if the floor was clean, but if she kept mopping until the rinse water was no longer cloudy (after very careful inspection with her one eye), she was satisfied.  You could have eaten off those floors.

I never heard her complain about her troubles or her deformities.  She never whined about how hard it was to take care of herself and her house.  She just did what had to be done, and kept any complaining to herself.  She didn't mince words, though.  I guess she figured she had earned the right to say what she thought and expect everyone else to listen.  I didn't realize it at the time, but she certainly had!

Aunt Peter was a woman of deep faith.  If you asked her how she managed, she'd say, "The Lord helped me."  No one doubted that He had.  When she had a need she couldn't meet (which was most every need), she just took it to the Lord, knowing He was sure to provide.  He always did.  I don't know how she made it financially, but perhaps there was a pension from Uncle Robert.  Regardless of how little the money in her pocketbook, she always tithed and she always had enough for an offering. She was careful to make sure God got His part first, and He always made sure the rest was enough.

When I think about how I whined and complained about my broken finger last year, and compare myself to Aunt Peter, I am completely ashamed. I may have been in a cast a long time, but I had another hand that worked perfectly well, two good feet, and two eyes that work great.  I was raised better than that, because I had the example of Aunt Peter to guide me.

I don't know what kind of difficulties you are facing, but I'm pretty sure you have troubles of your own. Most of us do.  When you are tempted to whine and complain, just think back on my Aunt Peter, and do what she did.  She took every worry to her Lord and trusted Him with every penny He sent her way.  If you asked her, she'd tell you that it always worked out just fine.

The Perils of Popularity (Luke 6:26)

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (Luke 6:26 NASB)

We have come to the fourth woe. "Woe to you when men speak well of you" is directly contrasted with verse 22, which promises blessings when you are insulted for your faith. In the first instance (the woe), it is the same treatment given to false prophets. In the second, the blessing is in sharing the hard treatment of the true prophets of God. 

What was it about false prophets that garnered praise? They spoke what the people wanted to hear. False prophets condoned sinful behavior, including that specifically forbidden by God, looked the other way when widows and orphans were neglected, and not only failed to condemn idol worship but encouraged it, sometimes going so far as to participate in it. Their religion was just for show, yet they maintained a position of authority in the church. In a way, false prophets were a boon to a sin-loving society, especially in a nation that was intended to be a theocracy. The false prophets allowed whatever the people wanted, and twisted the words of God to make it seem acceptable to Him. God, of course, did not appreciate the work of the false prophets, nor the people following them, so their temporary popularity eventually resulted in bondage to sin and literal slavery to the Babylonians, followed by occupation by various military powers for centuries. Even the homeland they occupy today is only a portion of what God intended, and there is no peace in the land.  

Whoa! Who wants to be compared to a false prophet? Hopefully, no one!  In this verse, Jesus is saying that the praise of man is often not a good thing, as history has shown. In general, if we are loved and lauded by all, it is because we have pleased them all. If we have stood for righteousness and spoken truth, we are not likely to please everyone, even if we have worked tirelessly doing good deeds. Jesus is certainly the best example of this. He brought grace and mercy, preached love, kindness, humility, and generosity, healed multitudes of sick and demon-possessed, and never sinned, yet He was hated by the religious leaders and it fueled his arrest and murder. 

There is a temptation, of course, to say that Jesus and the prophets had a very rough go. They were, at the least, treated badly and many were martyred, and it is not a treatment that is very easily embraced for oneself. On the other hand, those false prophets seemed to have a pretty cozy position. 

Eternity. That's where the difference comes, and where the ultimate rewards are meted out. Our Lord has promised that, though we do not see the rewards of heaven in this life, one day we will. As followers of the Christ, we are to live as if eternity is our real home, knowing that the trials and tribulations of this life are only temporary. 

You cannot please both God and man. The question we all must answer is which one we live to please?

Today, pray that we will live with eternity in mind and that our loved ones will chose to do the same. Pray, too, that we will be more concerned about the praise of God than the praise of man. 
Here's the link to last night's guest blog:

Friday, March 28, 2014


About five months ago, I began taking at least one hour out of my day for what I call my quiet time. It’s my time alone with God. I pray, reflect and just listen. This time is most often spent in my office with the door closed, phones off, and the blinds closed. I really do not want any distractions. I always begin with a prayer offering thanks. I have finally gotten past asking for what I want and things I think I need.  

 As I reflect on my life, I am always amazed at the things that come back to me.  As I try to explain the "whys" of my past, I wonder why I turned my back on God over and over. 

About 15 years ago, I was hospitalized with something that I thought would be an easy and simple cure.  It turned out that the "easy" was not so much. I was in ICU for about six weeks, with a total hospital stay of four and a half months. When I awoke, I found out about the many friends, family, churches, as well as a large group of Nuns on retreat in Canada that had been praying for me, and praying daily. Since I was just learning how close I came to death, I was very thankful for the chance to continue living. One would think that this would be the eye opening moment that would change a person forever. Well it did, but not for long and not the way it should have. It did not take long before I was right back to where I had been, turning my back on God.

I wish I could say this was the only time, but that is not the case at all. I have had several set backs that were health-related. Each time I would pray and others around me would pray. (thank goodness they had a better relationship with God than I did)  The prayers were answered, I would get better, go back to work, and pretty soon I was back to the same old me.

Even though I was raised in a Christian home, I don’t think I ever realized the true meaning of prayer, and certainly not how powerful it could be. Sure, I prayed, but maybe it was not exactly prayer, since I was just mouthing words with no sincerity or expectation.

I have been told all my life that God answered prayers, and I am living proof of that. I have also been told that when God answered prayers, He would also give you a "sign" that would give you an answer.  I was told that He did not simply just "talk" to you. Well, He has given me some signs since I have started my quiet time, (and I sure hope I got the interpretation right) but He has also spoken to me. Yes, spoken, and I tell you it scared me absolutely to death. I even got up and went to the window to see if someone was outside talking! I was truly shaken. The best I can explain is that it was like a loving and soft-spoken parent talking to a child.  It brings me to tears, (literally) every time this happens. He does not do this every day, but He seems to know exactly when the time is right. You would think I would have at least learned that much by now.

I ask Him every day to forgive me for all my actions of the past, but also to help me every day forward. I have even gained enough courage to ask why he would let me live, bring me back to life, after all that I had done. So far my answer has been that He will let me know when the time is right and it will be a very special thing. At this point in my life, I believe every word. Please pray for me that I continue to have the diligence to be patient and wait and that my actions now would bring a positive light to shed on others. The Power of Prayer is a wonderful thing!!

Friday Night With Friends

Our Friday Night With Friends guest blogger is W.C. Barber.  He had a miraculous recovery after a near-terminal illness.  He has experienced a renewal of his spiritual life in the last year and the impact has been far-reaching.  Mr. Barber has written a wonderful testimony of the power of prayer in his life.
This is his first-ever guest blog, so encourage him with your comments.  Enjoy!

Be a Voice, Not an Echo: Lessons from the Life of Tyndale

Life has not always been easy for Christians.

William Tyndale lived in England in the early 1500's, at a time when the Bible was only available to the most learned men who read Greek and Hebrew.  The lack of an English translation of the Bible was a great vexation to Tyndale, who saw grave corruption in many of the church leaders of the day.

The common person had no defense against their edicts, because they had no way of knowing what the Scripture really said.  There was a feeling that, "We would be better off without God's laws" than without the laws of the church leaders.

Tyndale was stunned and replied that he would "cause a plowboy to know more of the Scriptures" than the current leaders before he was through.  Tyndale's insistence upon lining up teaching in the church with the Word of God caused many leaders in England to hate him and brand him a heretic.

Because of plots against his life, Tyndale fled to Germany where he translated the New Testament and later the Old Testament into English.  The Bishop of London attempted to buy all the copies Tyndale had printed so that he could burn them, but Tyndale and his friends used the money to print three times as many Bibles as before.

Intending to squelch the spread of the Word, the Bishop actually helped spread it.  When that failed, Sir Thomas More, then Chancellor of England, did not rest until he had obtained a proclamation from the King to ban the Bibles and had arrested Tyndale.

In 1536, William Tyndale was burned at the stake for his all-consuming love of the Word of God and his dedication to ensuring its availability to the common man. His last words were a prayer for those who had persecuted him.  "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

Tyndale's obsession for the Word of God has made this post, the Bible in your home, the online Bible we use, the Bible studies we attend possible.  As William Tyndale was tied to the stake and the flames rose up around him, he probably never imagined the number of English Bibles that would be available nearly 500 years later.  He was simply faithful to the cause of Christ with no promise of the outcome.  He did not see the fruit of his labors before his death.  The lack of obvious fruit did not deter him from faithfully performing the task God had given him.

After Tyndale's death, an amazing thing happened.  Less than two years later, King Henry VIII authorized the first English Bible, known as the Great Bible, for the Church of England.  That is amazing enough in itself, but what is really astounding is that the Bible he authorized was Tyndale's translation! God answered Tyndale's prayer in a wonderful way, and his work is still bearing fruit in my life and in yours today.

G.K. Chesterton wrote in What's Wrong With The World, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."  Micah 6:8 was my mother's favorite Bible verse, and it sums up what the Christian life looks like.  "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

William Tyndale was a man who cared about both mercy and justice. He was burdened by the ignorance of the masses about the Word of God and the injustices of the clergy of the time.  He knew he needed to put truth (in the form of the Word of God) in the hands of the masses so they could confront evil for themselves.  He was heartbroken by an injustice and took action to correct it.  In fact, his commitment to his task cost him his life.

There are still people around the world who are imprisoned for the cause of Christ.  There are still people around the world who are dying for the cause of Christ.  This quote from Wikipedia sums the situation up:

 "According to Pope Benedict XVI, Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world.[125] The Holy See has reported that over 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of some relation to their faith.[126] According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith."[127] 

According to Voice of the Martyrs, Christians in more than forty countries face active persecution for their faith.  The stories on their website ( will break your heart.  They will likely convict you, as well.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are sacrificing themselves for the cause of Christ, and in many instances dying for their faith.  Their discipleship is costly.  In this country, however, it is a much different story.  We complain about loss of religious liberty, but do we take advantage of the liberty we have?  How effective are we as disciples?  What difference are we making in the world around us?

Doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God are not easy tasks.  It requires being salt and light in the world around you.  Silence about injustice is not optional if you are going to live out the Christian ideal, and neither is taking action.  Committing yourself to the task will change your life.  I know.  It has changed my life in ways I never imagined, many of which are harder than I expected, but sweeter than I ever hoped.

The first century Christians lived as if Jesus would return any day, and so should we.  Our discipleship should make a difference in the world around us.  If it does not, one could ask if it is discipleship at all. What are you doing to change the world around you?  Will the world be different 500 years from now because of your faith walk today?  That's the kind of difference I want to make.  Don't you?  I want to be a voice for Christ, not an echo of the world around me.  Being a voice for Christ was costly for William Tyndale, but judging by the Bibles in my home, I think it was worth it, and I expect he would say so, too.

The life and work of one man, doing one task faithfully, no matter the cost, still impacts my life on a daily basis five centuries later.  Let's live in such a way that we, too, can make a lasting difference.

Let's be a voice, not an echo.

Laughter That Hides Tears (Luke 6:25)

...Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (Luke 6:25 NASB)

Today, we look at the third woe in this passage that contrasts the blessings of a life of faith with a life of worldly pleasure. "Woe to you who laugh" is not referring to those who have a joy-filled heart nor is it referring to the "merry heart that does good like a medicine". The reference is to the kind of raucous laughter that is unrelated to the joy of the Lord. Instead, this is the laughter that comes from seeking only personal pleasure and is sometimes used to hide a broken heart.  You can laugh now, in the midst of your search for worldly, sensual pleasure, but one day your laughter will end.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sang a song written by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore, and Marv Tarplin entitled "Tracks of My Tears" that speaks about this very thing.  

"People say I'm the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I'm blue
So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..."

It goes on to proclaim longing for one who is loved. The song accurately describes the kind of laughter that hides tears. It also describes the deep, aching need that is the only cure. It falls short, however, of naming the need. There is no one person of earth who can fill that void. Those tears can only be dried and comforted by God Himself. 
We do, as Pascal described, have a God-shaped void in our hearts that only He can fill.  

Today, pray that we and our loved ones will grow so tired of hiding our tears behind false laughter that we will reach out to our Lord, allow Him to dry every tear, turn that laughter into songs of joy, and give us merry hearts. 
Here's the link to last night's blog:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mamie and the Deadly Attack

I am Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy. You might remember me. One time, my new mama let me tell my side of the trouble we had with my sister. Somethin' real real bad happened tonight. I was so 'fraid that I cried and cried. My mama said it might help to talk about it, so I'm gonna try. 

I'm just a little bitty puppy and I just learned how to bark not long ago. I like barking. But it didn't help me tonight. Nothing helped me at all. Well, except my mama and Jesus. 

My big sister is not very nice. You might've heard of her. Her name is Maggie and she hates me. You prolly think she don' really hate me, but she does. She always talks ugly 'bout me. An' sometimes she calls me ugly names. One time she called me a guinea pig. I don' know what that means, but it sure doesn't sound very nice. Now she calls me a gremlin. It is a mean, growly word. Gremlin. What is that anyway?

Tonight Ole Lou was eatin' his supper. He never minds if I sneak a bite. He's the best dog. He's really big and really old, but really nice. I sneaked up by him, and he looked down with his big brown eyes, and said, "Come on in here, lil' bit. I'm 'bout through anyway. They's plenty fer you."  Maggie was trying to sneak a bite, too, but she didn't ask first. Mama said you are always 'sposed to ask, but Maggie never does. 

Maggie and I were both trying to get a bite. Mr. Lou told me I could, but Maggie said I couldn't. I was having such a happy day, so I ignored her. She's such a grouch!  

The next thing I knew, Maggie got really mad at me and starting growling at me and chased me off the porch. She was barking and growling and I was crying and mama was running and yelling. It was awful!! Maggie pinned me down and my big sister tried to bite me bad. I was so scared. My heart was going so fast I could hardly breathe. I thought I was gonna go to puppy heaven today. I don't want to go to puppy heaven today, though. My mama and Mr Lou are so nice and I have so much fun on the farm. 

Oh, dear!  It was awful scary!! I cried loud and said, "Mama!!! Bring Jesus quick!! Help !" I was just about a goner but my Mama came quick! And she brought Jesus. She jumped in the middle and reached down and grabbed me out!! Jesus helped her. She looked like a grabbin' angel when she came swoopin' down. I was crying and she was, too!  And Maggie BIT our MAMA!!! Mama said it was just a little scratch, but she had blood on her finger. Can you believe that? My mama bled trying to save me! I love my mama so much! 

Oh it was so scary. Maggie is just not nice at all. She was almost a puppy murderer. I guess my mama sorta saved Maggie, too. 

I don't really want to do a lesson, but my mama says that's the job of 'prentice wonder puppy. 

Here's the lesson:
When someone bleeds to save you, they really love you. 

When someone bleeds to save you, you should love them, too. 

That's what my mama did for me. It's what Jesus did for you, too. 

The end. By Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy

Hungry? Here's Long-lasting Satisfaction

Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry... (Luke 6:25 NASB)

This passage in Luke 6 is very similar to the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. It opens with four "blessed's" followed by four woes, all of which offer a comparison/contrast between a life of faith and a life filled by worldly pleasure. Here we look at the second of the woes. 

"Woe to you who are well-fed now," it says. This does not mean that those who eat a well-balanced diet with high quality protein and organic vegetables should beware. Instead, those who are so satisfied by the pleasure the world has to offer and by themselves that they no longer look to God should beware. The stuff of this world may offer temporary pleasure, but it is not long-lasting. It takes more than personal success and material gain to make a life that brings lasting satisfaction. That kind of satisfaction requires a life filled with the riches of heaven that only God can provide. 

The Message paraphrase says it well.  "And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long." (Luke 6:25 MSG)

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?  "Your self will not satisfy you for long."  

Today, pray that we and our loved ones will be so dissatisfied with dependence on self that we will turn to the only One who can bring lasting satisfaction. Pray that we will have a ravenous hunger for Christ that will find satiety only in Him. 

Here's the link to last night's blog post:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Visit to the Winery

Over spring break, Ryan and I planned to eat lunch at a winery on the Alabama trail. We intended to have a nice lunch in their restaurant, take a tour, and get pictures for my upcoming book. Somehow, we had been busy getting ready to leave that morning and had completely forgotten breakfast. Once we were settled in the car, though, we realized we were hungry. Ryan pulled out a box of breakfast bars and solved the hunger issue for a bit, but by lunchtime, we were hungry again. 

As we drove up the long drive, Ryan said, "I thought this was a winery.  Where are the grape vines?" We found a few.  Very few.  It should have been a warning.  When we arrived at the winery, we were quickly seated, but service was slow. Well, actually, it was nonexistent. No waiter ever came. No one took our order. No one offered water. After nearly thirty minutes of trying to catch the attention of a waiter, we gave up and left. The gourmet meal we had anticipated was replaced by much simpler fare.

As we ate our not-gourmet lunch, we talked about the supposed winery. They had done a great job with their initial public relations.  They have a place on the Alabama Wine Trail and are listed in numerous websites.  Their own website is lovely and very convincing.  They had taken great care with all the outward trappings of being a winery and the frills that went with it, but they had failed at what mattered.  They had few grapevines, they were importing California grapes to make up for their lack, and they had completely failed at any semblance of customer service at their restaurant.

Several days later, I'm still surprised by the poor service. The building looked well maintained and was very attractive. Judging by outward appearances, we expected a terrific meal. That's the problem with outward appearances, though. They can't always be trusted, and it's an all-too-common problem these days, isn't it?

It is always more important to BE good than to LOOK good, but sometimes we get that a little backwards.  It's much easier to worry about the looking than the being, but it always makes problems for us.  That was the problem Samuel encountered when he was sent to Jesse's house to anoint a king. He saw all the older brothers and thought any one of them looked like a king.  God, however, wasn't going on outward looks.  When David finally arrived, God said, "This is the one."Samuel was pretty surprised.  God explained, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NKJV)  Samuel found that he had to look past the "looking good" to find the one who was "being good".  That's the best way to find a king, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb for us, as well. Remember, BE good, then worry about LOOKING good.

The danger in riches (Luke 6:24)

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. (Luke 6:24 NASB)

This verse begins the "woes" in Jesus's teaching. The preceding verses spoke of the blessings to be found in the midst of what the world considers poverty. This verse begins a section on the dangers in what the world considers great wealth. 

"Woe", Jesus says, "to those who are wealthy".  It is apparent from the second part of the verse ("you have received your comfort in full") that those mentioned as wealthy have taken comfort in their wealth.  Having material riches is not inherently wrong. Having riches becomes a problem for us when we put our faith in those riches we have accumulated rather than in Christ alone. When our hope for the future is in the amount of money in our trust funds, savings accounts, and investments we are in danger of eternity. 

In a later passage, Jesus says that we cannot serve both God and riches. Protecting vast sums of money is time consuming and requires considerable attention. There is a very real danger that we can invest so much time and thought in wealth management that we neglect our investment in the Kingdom of God. 

In material and in spiritual matters, the greatest return usually comes with the greatest investment. One day, we will see what yield our eternal investments have netted. We would do well to spend our time, energy, and resources on those Kingdom investments now. After all, a small investment now yields an eternal reward. 

Today, pray that we and our loved ones will make significant investments in that which yields eternal rewards. 
Here's the link to last night's post:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bahamian Blogging #9: The Unusual Trip

Most of the patients I've seen this week somehow knew that I was in the Bahamas last week, and most have asked about my trip. They've wondered about how I liked the beaches and the water, the music and the markets. What they anticipated, however, bore little resemblance to the actual trip. 

We met Arlene, a beautiful smiling woman who lives with her family in a house behind the church her father built when she was a girl. They still worship in that church, where she is part of the worship team. Arlene makes beautiful hand-crafted items using shells she has collected. The shell she gave me is a special treasure in a place of honor on my mantel now. 

We met Gloria, a Grammy winner who is passionate about helping Bahamian youth interested in performing arts to excel and reach their full potential. Over an unhurried lunch, we had the opportunity to hear about the many ways she is investing in her community and the lives of the young people there. 

We met Chris, a music professor at College of the Bahamas, who was equally at home both performing on a concert hall stage and leading worship in an humble island church. We toured the neighborhood where he was reared, learned about his childhood, and walked on the beach where he caught sardines for breakfast as a boy. 

We met The Legend, who, for more than two decades, has brought the biggest names in the music industry to the islands, produced quality recordings, and worked tirelessly while enjoying every minute of it, because he has the enviable gift of seeing his work as play and wrapping it with excellence. 

We met Rashad, the smiling student who sang with all his heart while his father was dying, and did it with a smile because he knows his hope is in The Lord. 

We met talented students who are overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to obtain their education and become professional musicians. 

We did see the beach, the pools, the palm trees. We did eat seafood. We experienced the island nation of the Bahamas, however, in the people we met and the lives with which we intersected. 

It's easy to get confused about what makes a nation, a state, or a town. You see, a nation is not a collection of beaches and trees. It's not the buildings, the businesses, or the infrastructure. A nation is made up of people, and they are its most valuable resource. The trees could be flattened and the sands washed away, yet the essence of the Bahamas would remain as long as the people survived. 

We had a wonderful, and somewhat atypical trip, but we saw the Bahamas as few people will do. Why? We saw the Bahamas in its people, and they were so open that we saw their hearts. We are richer for it, and I wouldn't trade this trip for anything. 

The only problem now is how we are ever going to be as gracious and welcoming to visitors who come our way as they were to us. All those smiling people... Maybe the best place to start is with a smile. After all, that's how they did it in the Bahamas. 

Hurtful words (Luke 6:22,23)

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22, 23 NASB)

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never harm me."

That childhood refrain was my first thought when I read these verses, but it is not exactly what Jesus was saying. Being hated, ostracized, insulted, and scorned do not seem much like blessings. If the hatred, ostracizing, insults, and scorning are with cause, they are not. When they come because of your love for Jesus, though, they are blessings, indeed. 

In fact, Jesus said that, when you are mistreated because of Him, it's cause for celebration. "Leap for joy!" The misdeeds are not what we are to celebrate, but the reward our suffering will bring. That reward, Jesus promised, would be delivered in heaven and it would be great. The Greek word here is "polys", meaning large or many. Whatever we will receive in exchange for our mistreatment because of our love for Jesus will be more than worth it. 

Jesus was reminding us that this earth is not our home. We have a final destination, where we will live with Him forever. Whatever we suffer here, whatever we endure, is only temporary. One day, our troubles will end. One day all our trials will be over, but our lives will go on in eternity. 

That promise of reward in heaven should be cause for hope as well as rejoicing. When we focus all our attention on the difficulties of this world, it's hard to remember that this is not our end. When we keep our eyes on heaven, it's much easier to move through hard times without despair. 

Suffering is not a new experience for God's people, and we should not be surprised by it, nor should we panic or be dismayed in the face of it. "...Words can never harm me" is not exactly true. Words can damage reputations and hurt our feelings. In the light of eternity, however, spiteful, hate filled words can be the source of great blessing. When we exchange the hurtful words of this world for the great rewards in the next, we are blessed indeed. 

Have you been scorned for your faith? Have your loved ones ridiculed you because of your love for Jesus? Do not despair. He knows your pain and will reward in due time. 

Pray for endurance in hard times and for our loved ones to see truth rather than the lies of the world. Pray that we will keep our eyes on eternity rather than on the trials of the here and now. 
Here's the link for last night's post:

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Thinking Chair

When I moved to the farm nearly a quarter of a century ago, there were some long-standing practices that were firmly in place and not subject to change. One of those was The Thinking Chair. As you can see, the thinking chair is an old wagon seat that is mounted on a very rustic frame. It overlooks our small lake and is nestled in the trees. 

The Thinking Chair is in a lovely spot for admiring the scenery, but that's not the best part. The number one rule about the thinking chair is that only one person can be there at a time, except by special invitation.  No exceptions. When someone is in The Thinking Chair, they can do anything they want, but NO ONE can disturb them. No phone calls. No text messages. No emails. No questions. No conversations. It was the rule when I arrived, and it has remained inviolate. It's my very favorite place in the world. 

As a physician, I've spent the last three decades on call and have been attached to one electronic communication device or another all those years. Someone always has access to me. Except in that chair. In that chair, I can set aside the cares of the world and all the words that accompany them. I can be still.  I can be silent. 




How wonderful it is to have a place where the only objective is silence! It's the place where God's Still Small Voice is most audible because the clamor of the world has, for a few moments, been silenced. 

Not everyone is blessed with a rustic retreat, but there is no denying the need for a quiet place. This week, in the midst of the clamor and constant contact that surrounds you, carve out a few minutes to be still, to be silent. 

In that silence, listen. Simply silence yourself and listen. 

Selah. Pause and ponder. 

Maggie Finds a Field of Bones

Not long ago, Maggie the Wonder Dog and I were outside trying to do a little winter clean up outside. Maggie was sniffing every blade of grass, or so it seemed, when suddenly she lifted her head and caught an interesting scent. This was apparently the kind of scent that required the presence of her human, because she ran to me, bumped my leg, ran a few steps, looked back, and continued the process until I was on my way and following close behind. Maggie ran ahead, but every few steps she would check to be sure I was still enroute. There was no hesitation in her path. She had her scent and was following it. 

When she drew near the pasture that housed the pile of bones (above), she slowed down. No more than a few steps ahead now, she carefully approached the source of her scent. She walked round and round, occasionally stopping for an extra sniff or two. A large mammal had died and, in the natural order of the wild, had provided sustenance for carnivores through the recent winter chill. 

Maggie didn't seem to know what those bones meant, and approached them carefully. She would walk close, sniff, and jump back. The first time she jumped back, I laughed out loud. "Hey Maggie, you act like you've heard of Ezekiel's bones!"  

You probably remember the story of the valley of dry bones, but just in case, here's the brief version. Ezekiel had a vision and saw a valley full of dry bones. God said, "Ezekiel, can these bones live again?" Ezekiel was no dummy. He knew he was talking to God, who could do anything, so he wisely said, "I have no idea. You are the only One that knows!" God told him to prophesy to the bones, and, much to his surprise, the bones started rattling around, hooked up together with tendons, and grew some skin! All of a sudden, the valley of dry bones had turned into the valley of lifeless bodies! This was pretty amazing to Exekiel but what came next might have been even more amazing! God said, Ezekiel, prophesy some breath into these bones." After having just seen the bones hook together and get skin, Ezekiel didn't  hesitate a second. He started prophesying, breath came into those bodies and, suddenly they weren't lifeless any more. They were alive and an enormous army! 

God told Ezekiel that His people thought all hope was gone, but He wanted them to know that there is no situation so hopeless that God cannot breathe life back into it. There is no person so far gone down the road of sin that He cannot breathe life back into them and make a warrior in the kingdom of God. In fact, He said that He would do just that. He would breathe life back into the most hopeless and everyone would recognize that He had done it. 

The bones Maggie found have no hope of a new life, but there are some prodigals for whom I am counting on resurrection. Perhaps you know a few of your own. Just in case, remember Ezekiel's bones. The breath of the Spirit gave new life, resurected an army, and that army represented all the hope for which we long. 

"I will put my Spirit in you and you will live..." Ezekiel 37:14

Those very words come from God Himself, and they are a promise to which we can cling, so hang on tight to hope, and don't let go. 

The Mezuzah Box

The study in Deuteronomy had progressed to chapter 6. As I studied, I read this verse:  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:9 NASB)

In the preceding verses, Moses had explained to the people that God expected obedience. In fact, He was so serious about it that they could prolong their lives through obedience to His Word, as well as shorten their lives through disobedience. To help them remember, they were to review Scripture daily, teach their children carefully, bind copies of Scripture to their hands and foreheads, and put Scripture on their door posts. The practice of placing mezuzahs on the door posts is based on this passage. The mezuzah is actually the Scripture written on a piece of paper or parchment. What you see is the box that holds the Scripture (or mezuzah) inside. The idea is that, as you enter your home, seeing the mezuzah box should serve as a reminder of the truth and promises of God's Word, as well as your commitment to it.  

The idea of strapping a little box with verses inside to my forehead didn't seem  like something I wanted to do, and I am in and out of exam gloves too often for strapping something to my hand. Neither of those were practical for me at all. 

The idea of the mezuzah, however, captured my attention. Bear in mind that I had never seen a mezuzah or a mezuzah box, and had no idea what I was doing. As the mother of any good Georgia Tech computer science student would do, I Googled it. Most of the boxes I found were small and tasteful. They all came with an optional piece of Parchment containing Scripture (the mezuzah) handwritten in Hebrew by a scribe, but they were such small boxes that I could not imagine trying to squeeze a piece of paper inside. There were so many options and traditions/rules for the mezuzah box that I was quickly overwhelmed. Not to be outdone, I decided to buy the prettiest one. I guess I actually ordered the biggest and gaudiest one, but I'm pleading ignorance. The ones I saw in Israel are nothing at all like mine. 

After my mezuzah box arrived, I was shocked by the size and ornate decorations, so I put it in a drawer and left it for years. Not long ago, I found it again and decided to attach it to the doorpost. Once more, I had to Google the protocol. It turns out that the box goes at shoulder height and is tilted slightly in toward the room the door enters, as a sign that God and the Torah are entering. When you pass through the door with the mezuzah, you are to touch the box, then kiss the fingers that touch it as a sign of reverence and respect for God and His Word. 

I'm not going to pretend that I touch my box every time I walk in the door, but I have gradually begun to touch it more often. There is something mysteriously wonderful about the symbolism involved. That big, gaudy box is a symbol that God inhabits my home and His Word is the guiding principle here. As I touch the box and put my fingers to my lips, I am reminded of the truth of the Scripture I have tucked inside, as well as my committment to it. 

In English the mezuzah reads:

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 NASB) Since I'm not Jewish, and didn't know what I was doing anyway, I decided to include my favorite verse.  It's Jeremiah 29:11 and says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." 

Here's what my mezuzah Scripture looks like (I Googled the Hebrew). It's not at all kosher, but it blesses me, and I hope it blesses you, as well.  

שְׁמַ֖ יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖י/נוּ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽ וְ/אָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑י/ךָ בְּ/כָל־ לְבָבְ/ךָ֥ וּ/בְ/כָל־ נַפְשְׁ/ךָ֖ וּ/בְ/כָל־ מְאֹדֶֽ/ךָ׃ וְ/הָי֞וּ הַ/דְּבָרִ֣ים הָ/אֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּ/ךָ֛ הַ/יּ֖וֹם עַל־ לְבָבֶֽ/ךָ׃ וְ/שִׁנַּנְתָּ֣/ם לְ/בָנֶ֔י/ךָ וְ/דִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑/ם בְּ/שִׁבְתְּ/ךָ֤ בְּ/בֵיתֶ֙/ךָ֙ וּ/בְ/לֶכְתְּ/ךָ֣ בַ/דֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽ/בְ/שָׁכְבְּ/ךָ֖ וּ/בְ/קוּמֶֽ/ךָ׃ וּ/קְשַׁרְתָּ֥/ם לְ/א֖וֹת עַל־ יָדֶ֑/ךָ וְ/הָי֥וּ לְ/טֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽי/ךָ׃ וּ/כְתַבְתָּ֛/ם עַל־ מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖/ךָ וּ/בִ/שְׁעָרֶֽי/ךָ׃ ס (דברים 

וְ/הָיָ֗ה אִם־ שָׁמֹ֤עַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־ מִצְוֺתַ֔/י אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְ/כֶ֖ם הַ/יּ֑וֹם לְ/אַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־ יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵי/כֶם֙ וּ/לְ/עָבְד֔/וֹ בְּ/כָל־ לְבַבְ/כֶ֖ם וּ/בְ/כָל־ נַפְשְׁ/כֶֽם׃ (דברים 

Chubby Robins

Looking out my kitchen window early one morning, I found the ground covered with a multitude of birds. Although it was near the end of winter, none of the birds looked sick or malnourished.  One robin was actually pudgy. 

As I settled in with the first cup of coffee, I wondered about the chubby bird.  Clearly, the robin had not only had all it needed, it had a little more than it needed.  Jesus’ teaching on anxiety came to mind.  

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn; and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!”  
(Luke 12:24)

Imagine that!  Without a storeroom or a barn, the bird had managed to eat more than enough lots of days.  There was no other way to explain its expanded girth.  
God had provided for the bird, and sent more than it needed.  I’ve read many times that anxiety wasn’t necessary because God cared for me more than for the birds and the lilies.  I’ve heard numerous sermons condemning worry and stressing faith.  Somehow, though, the chubby bird brought the truth home with startling reality.  
I had spent so much time worrying about whether or not I’d have enough of whatever I thought I needed, that I had missed a vital principle.  Perhaps you’ve overlooked this, too.  It is not only that we are NOT to worry.  There is one little thing we must DO.  “Your Father knows that you need these things,” Jesus said.  “But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”  
It’s a promise you can count on.  You seek His kingdom and He meets your needs.  No worry required.  Our heavenly Father can be counted on to keep His part of the deal.  The question is – can you?

(Excerpt from upcoming book, Lessons From the Harvest, by Dr. Leanna Hollis)

Son of Man, part 3: Overcoming the Will (Luke 6:5)

And He was saying to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:5 NASB)

Son of God.  Son of Man.  

Why does it matter than the Son of God referred to Himself as the Son of Man instead of the Son of God?  The first is who Jesus is and why He came.  The second is how He came and what He offered.  Although fully God, Jesus was also fully human.  His use of the term Son of Man implies that He identified with our humanness and all the struggles that brings. King Jesus understands what it feels like when we are angry, hurt, rejected, misunderstood, because He has been human and experienced the emotions and problems with which we are burdened.  He identifies and He understands.  

The difference between our humanity and His is that we regularly fail in a God-like response to the challenges of life.  Jesus however, faced what we face, yet without sin.  He acted in obedience to His Father every time.  Every single time.  He demonstrated obedience, even when it was hard, and He left the Holy Spirit to help us in our own efforts at obedience.  We certainly cannot live a sinless life on our own, but, as believers, we have the Spirit as our Helper and our Guide.  Could we live in perfect obedience?  Maybe so, if we were consistently, constantly led by the Spirit of God, and if we chose God's way rather than our own every single time.  Of course, we don't.  We don't obey every time.  We don't respond to hurts and trials with a godly response every time, but that does not mean we shouldn't.  

Jesus came as the Son of Man and demonstrated what a God-filled, God-controlled, obedient life should be, and we are to emulate Him.  We are supposed to... if we will.  I'm supposed to, if I will.  That little four-letter word is at the root of the problem, isn't it?  


Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote about this very dilemma.  

"For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:14-24 NASB)

It's a dilemma, this problem of wanting to do right and not doing it, but Paul recognized the solution to the problem was in Jesus Christ alone.  He went on to write that, when our mind is focused on the things of flesh (the sin things we want to do), we are going to do them. When we get our mind focused on the things of God, and are led by the Spirit, we can obey and live a godly life.  Paul said something very important, and very hard.  We are under obligation.  (Romans 8:12)  We are under obligation, not to ourselves, but to Christ, and that obligation requires us to live according to His way.  

Are we living as if we are obligated by the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf?  Do we obey as if our only joy is in pleasing Christ?  

Today, pray that we will live by the Spirit and obey by the Spirit, with our hearts set on pleasing Christ alone.  Pray that our loved ones will be  so astounded by the victory they see in our lives that they will want the same for themselves and willingly embrace the Cross.

What is spoken here?

When I was a full-time potter, one of the items that was consistently popular at the round of festivals and art shows where I sold my wares was a clay plaque that read, "Southern Spoken Here".  One of them hangs above my desk at home, along with a variety of clay crosses and a clay plaque that simply says "Grace".  I've seen those plaques literally hundreds of times over the years.  

Today, however, I've seen them with fresh eyes. As I looked up from my computer and noticed the plaque this afternoon, I thought, "Why Southern?  Why not grace?"  Of course, in the heart of northeast Mississippi, Southern is exactly where and who I am, so that makes sense.  I am also saved by the blood of the Lamb and overwhelmed by His mercy and grace. For that reason, grace should be spoken here, as well.  Mercy should be spoken here.  I hope they are.

This evening, ask yourself what is spoken in your home?  Is it merely a reflection of who and where you are, or does the speech in your home serve as a reflection of WHOSE you are?  May your home be so filled with the love of Christ, that all who enter will say, "Grace spoken here."

Grace Spoken Here

Fried Marbles and Internal Sparkle

A while back, I saw a pin on Pinterest about making fried marbles.  I had visions of the craziest marble-filled grease pot imaginable and thought, "No way!" The marbles did look pretty cool, though, so the next time I saw the pin, I clicked through to the link.  It turns out that the marbles are not really fried, you just use a frying pan. They are really roasted marbles.

I won't bore you with the physics of glass expansion and contraction, but you could use this as a science demonstration if I did.  Although I used a single marble, I mostly used flat-back glass beads for flower arrangements, as you can see from the picture.

Here's a quick tutorial:
1) Put your cast iron skillet (or other oven proof dish) in your oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees. Since I'm a little over the top, I heated mine to 450 degrees.
2) When the oven is hot, put the marbles in the skillet for 20 minutes. Or 30 minutes if you are like me.
3) While the marbles are roasting, prepare a small bowl with ice water.
4) Immediately remove the skillet/oven proof dish at the end of the time and quickly pour the hot marbles into the ice water.
5) Let the marbles cool and remove.

When those glass beads and marbles come out of the ice water, they have an amazing crackled appearance inside.  The marbles have been heated to an extreme temperature, cooled to a frosty and unreasonable chill, and survived both extremes.  The outside of the marble is intact, but the inside has multiple cracks that make a lovely sparkle and actually enhance the original appearance.

The point of this is not just so that you can have cute sparkly marbles. (Although you can!) We often find ourselves in difficult circumstances that feel as if we are going through a fiery furnace experience of our own.  It's not uncommon to survive the fire time, think we've made it, and go through an equally disturbing desert time where we not only feel removed from the very One who saved us from the fiery furnace, but also feel a "cooling" of our ardor for our Lord. I know I'm not the only one who has gone through something like this! Maybe you have, too.

The marbles make it through intact and enhanced because tiny cracks appear in the internal structure that change the marble permanently.  After the fire and the ice, the marble sparkles in the light and magnifies it more than ever.  That's how we should be afterwards, too.

If you are going through a fire and ice experience of your own, take heart.  The fire is hot and the cold is terrible, but the sparkle that enhances the Light can't be far behind.

The Grumpy Horse

We've developed a little system here at the farm.  Bill the Magnificent feeds the horses and beds them down for the night every evening.  The morning feedings are my job.  Since I have to be at work early, the horses can count on an early breakfast.  Most days, I'm at the barn by 5:20 and feed is pouring into their troughs no later than 5:25.  You would think they would appreciate an early breakfast in bed, but no, they don't.  Well, my nice quarter horse, Belle, does.  She is always calm and sweet.  Cali, Ryan's Paint show horse, is usually also happy to have breakfast whenever it arrives. 

My 29 year-old horse, Toby, however, is a different story.  He was my first horse, and that is all that is saving him.  He is the grumpiest, most impatient creature I've ever known. As soon as I approach the barn, he can somehow hear my footsteps, and he starts whinnying.  Before I'm through putting the feed in the buckets, he starts banging his head on the stall wires.  Because he was bending the wires and making a mess, I nailed two boards across the wires so he couldn't get to them.  Not to be bested by a mere human, he now stretches himself as far as he can so that he can reach above the boards and bangs away. That has to hurt his nose, but he is not deterred.  He wants to be fed, and be fed first.  He is not first, however.  Cali is in the first stall and she is fed first.  When I approach Cali's stall, he starts scraping his teeth again the tailboard. It's a frightful sound and one that has very nearly landed him a spot on the sale barn roster more than once!

I have tried everything from a firm lecture to hot sauce on the tailboard and everything in between. Nothing makes him better.  He has an impatient nature and, possibly, a narcissistic personality disorder. He always thinks he is the most important horse in the barn.  He is not.

Toby has never missed a meal in the 25 years he has been here.  He has always had fresh water, clean hay, and a warm barn, as well as a full feed trough.  It's not clear why he's so demanding, but it doesn't make his provision arrive one bit faster.  In fact, sometimes I feed him last, just because of his obnoxious behavior.

A few days ago, he was up to his usual, and (among other things), I said, "Don't you know good things come to those who wait?"  Of course, he does not, but we should.  Waiting is not our favorite, is it? We live in a fast-food society that expects instant gratification.  We want what we want, and we want it when we want it. That may be a fine attitude if you have money in your pocket and you can go to the store to purchase what you want.  If you are asking for a provision from God, however, it doesn't seem like a good attitude at all.  I don't think He much cares for the demanding and fit throwing I have tolerated in Toby. Unfortunately, He has tolerated it from me a few times.  Maybe you've had a little of that impatient grumpiness yourself.

Over the years, though, I've found that there is usually a good reason for God's delay in answering my prayers.  Sometimes, the thing I want changed is not altered at all because I'm the one that really needs to be different. Sometimes, God is orchestrating a miracle that can only happen in His timing and His coordination.  I don't pretend to understand the ways of God, but I have learned that He can't be hurried.  He is, however, always right on time.

When you are tempted to get fussy with Him about what you perceive as a delay in the provisions or the intervention of God, think about grumpy old Toby.  You sure don't want to approach God with that behavior!  Calm down and trust the One who loves you most.  Not only do good things come to those who wait, "every good and perfect gift comes from above"(James 1:17) and it comes right on time, every time.  No fit or head banging required.

Bahamian Blogging # 8: Legend Pizza

When Ryan was a boy, Friday night was our family night. We always had pizza and orange juice. We always watched a movie (James and the Giant Peach was Ryan's choice for years).  It was one of those fun activities that evolved into tradition. Now, if it's Friday and we are together, we are most likely having pizza. 

The Friday night after we returned from the Bahamas, we planned to have pizza just like always. I prefer a vegetarian pizza but Ryan always wants meat. "Hey, Ryan," I asked. "What do you want on your pizza?" Much to my surprise, he said, "Let's have the double sauce pineapple pizza!" "What?" One of the people we met in the Bahamas (The Legend) had joined us for dinner one evening and ordered a "special" pizza.  Ryan remembered all the ingredients, and wanted to give it a try. 

After a quick trip to the grocery, I started to work. Double thick sauce over the thin crust, then thin-sliced onions, pineapple, black olives, and extra olive oil. No cheese. It looked good, but I added spinach, mushrooms, and preserved lemons to top it off.  I was out of artichokes, but we ended up with all the other ingredients Ryan remembered. Yum. The pizza really was good. We called it Legend Pizza. 

I knew our new friend had a custom pizza, but I was only peripherally aware of the ingredients. Ryan, however, had noticed everything, including the pizza, and opted to try it for himself. The Legend is a kind, humble man, and I'm happy for Ryan to copy his behavior. It's made me wonder, though, about people who watch me. Do they copy what I do?  It's one thing to copy a pizza order, but what about lifestyle choices? What about my attitudes or the way I treat other people? 

Ryan and the pizza have made me much more aware of my time in public and the people who, unbeknownst to me, are not only watching me, but also copying me. It's a sobering thought, isn't it? When I was growing up, I often heard, "Be careful how you act. You may be the only Bible some people ever read." The Legend Pizza reminds me that it was more than just a nice saying. People do notice and they do copy what they see.  The question we all need to answer is, "What do people see when they are watching me?"  I certainly hope that people who notice me see a woman who acts like Jesus all the time. Of course, they don't, but I wish they did, don't you? 

I don't suppose The Legend had any idea that a young man was looking to him for an example that evening. I'm really grateful that the example he set was a good one. You never know who's looking to you. Let's make sure the example we set is one worth copying. 

Blessing in weeping (Luke 6:21)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (Luke 6:21 NASB)

In the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  In times of mourning, comfort is most needed. It eases the burden a bit, and makes the going easier. When we mourn, we long for and appreciate comfort. In fact, one of the verses I have turned to in times of grief and mourning is "He will never leave you nor forsake you". (Deut 31:6). It has always reminds me that I am not alone and provides reassurance and comfort in hard times. 

The idea of replacing mourning with laughter seems just a little odd and vaguely inappropriate, doesn't it? No one expects to laugh in the midst of mourning, but this verse promises future laughter. It offers hope and the promise of better, joy-filled times. It promises more than comfort. It promises healing and restoration. 

How about that? Most, if not all, of us have experienced times of mourning and grief. If you haven't yet, you will, for grief is a common part of the human experience. What Jesus has promised us, though, should give great hope. He will not leave us in our pit of grief and pain. There is no need to despair. He will comfort us in our loss and lead us through our valley to the other side, where healing, joy, and laughter await. 

Pray today that our Lord will lead you and your loved ones through and past your grief, bring healing to those areas of deepest hurt, and replace your tears with laughter. 

Here's the link to last night's post:
There was something behind the smile that I failed to see.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Maggie's Turn: Maggie the Wonder Dog Has An Adventure

Thursdays are super fun days because that's the day I go to play day at the vet's. Lots of my friends go there too and we get to play and play all day long! That's the way it always happens. Fun, fun, fun!  Woof!

Yesterday I went to play day just like I always do, but yesterday was not like always! We had some excitement, and it was very surprising. Of course, I am a Wonder Dog, and I always do what I'm supposed to do. (My mama says I shouldn't have said that, but I'm leaving it because I usually do) I was supposed to play and that's what I did. 

I didn't get to see everything that happened, but I checked it out and here's what I found out. There was a woman who got radared by the police. I don't really know what radared is, but she got a bad grade on her radar test and the very nice policeman wanted her to stop and talk about it. She said, "No! I am not talking about anything!" And she jumped out of her car and ran off. I am just a Wonder Dog and we don't get radar tests, but I know that was not a good thing that she did. My policeman, Mr. Anderson, is very nice, and we always stop and talk to him. It might hurt his feelings if we didn't stop to say hi. My mama says you should always be nice to the policemen because they have a very hard job and have to talk to a lot of people who are not very nice. I guess that lady's mama never told her that. 

Anyway, that woman was running away and decided she needed to change clothes. This was very silly but she ran in to someone's house and she didn't know them! They didn't know her either and they didn't like it for her to run in their house!  They didn't like it for her to take her clothes off, either! Let me tell you, even Wonder Dogs know you should keep your clothes on, especially if you are running in a stranger's house! What was she thinking?

That taking your clothes off at a stranger's house business didn't go too well for her, so she started running some more. She must like running more than my mama does. I guess she heard about how much fun we have at play day, because she ran all the way to play day. She ran right in the front door, but we were not having play day in there, so she ran right out the side door.  Miss Renae and Miss Tanya did not like that one little bit. They do not like clothes-stripping strangers running through the office, even if they have their clothes back on. They called the police, which was a good thing, because the nice policeman still wanted to talk to her about her bad grade on the radar test. They went outside and were waving their arms so the policeman could see them. They looked so pretty waving! They flagged the policeman down!  Hooray for Miss Renae and Miss Tanya!  They are heroes!

I don't know if they ever got to talk to that lady or not, but she has probably stopped running by now. Somebody needs to give her some lessons for the next time she has a radar test. I just know she could get a better grade if she tried, and she wouldn't have to get so upset and run so much. 

Wonder Dogs go to obedience school, so we know to stop when our mamas and papas tell us to stop. My mama says it is very important to do what our parents say. She says that humans teach their children to obey their parents and to obey the policeman and that it helps them to obey God better. Even Wonder Dogs know to do what God says!  She says humans have trouble with that, and sometimes her breed, the Christians, have a  little trouble with that, too. Maybe it would help if they went to obedience school like I did! 

Wonder Dogs do best with short commands. We learned that at obedience school. Here 's the one for today. 


Well, that seems like two commands. I better shorten it. 


In case you didn't realize it, the One who's always in charge is God. Be SURE you obey Him!  Can someone let that running lady know about the obeying rule? It seems like nobody's told her yet, and I don't want her to scare Miss Renae and Miss Tanya any more! That's about enough for today. I hope my mama lets me talk to you again! I know lots of things that can help you stay out of trouble. If you have a radar test, don't panic. Just remember what I've told you and you will be fine. 

The end. From Maggie the Wonder Dog.