Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Family Flowers

I have watched with envy as fellow gardeners have posted photos of their blooms on Facebook. I haven't had blooms to post, and I've been absurdly sad about it. It is spring, after all, so where are my blooms??? I had begun to think those Arctic temperatures had stolen all my flowers. 

Several days ago, my azaleas finally burst forth in an amazing profusion of flowers and colors. Today, my first Iris bloomed at last, with bulging buds that will open soon.  The rose on the trellis has leafed out, and roses won't be far behind. 

The flowers are beautiful and I've worked hard to build a colorful garden over the last quarter century, but what I love most about my flowers in this spread-over-too-many-acres-to-contain garden is not the beauty. It's not the springtime color.  It is the connection to my family. My grandmother had beautiful irises in her backyard, and my Aunt Olene had a yard full of the most breathtaking azaleas imaginable. The rose on the trellis is a cutting from my grandaddy's prized rose, rooted for me by my dear cousin Skip. The peony was a Mother's Day gift from Ryan years ago. 

The flowers look like family to me. They remind me of my roots (literally and figuratively), and the people I hold so dear. There is no telling how many stories Ryan has heard about my grandmother that began with, "My grandma had irises like these..."  The flowers have helped to bring his ancestors to life in the stories they've brought forth. I've told him all the flower stories, of course, but the stories about how my grandaddy worked at the Borden milk plant and my grandmother took in boarders to survive the depression have been in there, too. 

As I wandered through the flowers this afternoon and thought about the lesson of the blooms, I've wondered what stories Ryan will tell about my flowers. What stories about my character, my perseverance through trials will these flower trigger? Whatever he tells, I hope the stories will include tales of my faith and the wonderful ways I've seen God work. 

Maybe, just maybe I'm passing it on. At spring break, Ryan asked, "Hey Mom, can I have some of your rosemary you rooted? I found an abandoned patch of ground near my apartment, and I thought I could plant a little garden there." I can hear it now. Every time he passes that abandoned lot, he'll be saying, "That's my mama's rosemary growing there". If not out loud, at least I hope he's saying it in his heart, which I where I most want to be. 

The Bondsman

And a centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. (Luke 7:2, 3 NASB)

A centurion is an officer in the Roman army. He was not only a part of the occupying army in Israel, but also a Gentile, which made him doubly taboo. He had, however, been generous to the people, and had built a lovely synagogue for them. Despite being an outsider and a Gentile and a Roman officer, he had come to be regarded highly by the local leaders.  

This man had a slave that he regarded highly, as well. The word used here is "doulos" and Vine's Dictionary defines it as "one who gives himself up to the will of another".  It is also translated as bondsman, a form of voluntary, permanent servitude. The servant had such regard for his master that he had committed himself to the officer for the rest of his life. 

Undoubtedly, the slave had monetary value. Slaves were bought at a price. The wording here does not indicate that the officer was concerned about his investment, however. He was concerned about his servant.  The word translated as highly regarded here, entimos, is also translated as "held in honor, highly prized, precious".  This servant was more than human livestock to his master. He was dearly loved.  

Paul, in Romans 1:1, described himself as a bond servant of Christ. He had relinquished any right to freedom and had bound himself permanently to his Lord. We, too, are to be bondslaves to Christ as permanent willing servants of our King, who has purchased us with a terrible price. 

What we sometimes fail to recognize is the freedom in that bondage.  When we bind ourselves to Christ, we are bound to One who loves us dearly, considers us precious, and highly values us. We are not worthless chattel. 

Take heart, dear ones. No matter what burden you carry, or weakness you bear, you are still highly valued and precious in the eyes of our Lord. He cares and longs to intervene. 

Relinquish your burdens to Jesus and pray that He will do what must be done to bring healing and freedom, both to you and to those you love. 
Link to last night's post:

Terminal, Yet Valuable

And a centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. (Luke 7:2, 3 NASB)

A terminally ill servant is not likely to be a productive, useful servant. Some would argue that he was no longer valuable. In the eyes of the centurion, and in the eyes of our Lord, even when we are near physical death, we are still precious. We are still highly valued and much loved. 

Just as the centurion was prepared to do whatever was necessary for his terminally ill bond servant, our Lord has ALREADY done what was necessary for His terminally ill, sin-sick ones. Even after that price on the cross, He still cares, still attends our needs, still provides whatever is needed for us, still seeks to bring healing and restore wholeness. 

The servant was powerless to help himself and had relinquished his illness to the intervention of his master.  So, too, we must relinquish the burdens that are out of our control to the only One who can help. That burden of sin-sickness, whether ours or that of those we love, must also be relinquished.  Give it to Jesus, for He can help. He will help. 

Pray today that we and our loved ones will willingly give our sin-sickness to Jesus and allow Him to heal us. 
The link to last might's post is here:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Night With Friends: A Word for the Shy - by Aletha Hinthorn

by Aletha Hinthorn

Aletha Hinthorn is a dear friend and faithful lover of Jesus in Kansas City. She is a co-founder of Come to The Fire, an organization offering conferences for women who desire a holy heart and a deeper encounter with Christ. You can read more at

Our family was enjoying summer vacation at Philmont, a Boy Scout ranch where my husband was one of the doctors in the clinic. As usual, I was more comfortable reading in our room than visiting with the other wives. Yet, two weeks was long enough to get acquainted with others--if only I weren't so shy!

Surely God has a verse that will help me to be more friendly, I thought. Opening my Bible to Proverbs, I decided to write down every verse that mentioned tongue, lips, or words.

When I read 10:31, I knew I had found my verse: "The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable." No longer would my excuse be, "I won't know what to say." God would give me appropriate words!

With new confidence, I greeted the next vacationers carrying suitcases past our door. Within the hour, the wife returned for a long get-acquainted visit. Our days together formed the beginning of a warm friendship.

God has a word for us in every situation. When we learn how to apply God's wisdom, we discover the joy of living the Word.

Jesus was the Word become flesh-or become human. He came to show us what the life of God looks like in human form. He did that by depending on the Word to tell Him what to do.

For us to also become the embodiment of the Word, we must regularly consider how the Scripture we read can be expressed in us.

Dear Jesus, thank You for the Word that You give us to express in our lives.

"Oh the joys of those who...delight in doing everything the Lord wants. Day and night they think about his law" (Psalm 1:1, 2)

Missing the Messiah (Luke. 7:1)

When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. (Luke 7:1 NASB)

Jesus, as you know, lived with his parents in Nazareth as a boy. After He began His public ministry, He moved to Capernaum, which became a sort of "base of operations" for Him. Located on the Sea of Galilee, there was a port in this fishing village, so transportation by boat made moving from city to city much easier. 

Capernaum was also the hometown of Peter and the site of many miracles. The through-the-roof paralytic was healed here, Simon Peter's mother-in-law was healed here, and we will soon see that the Centurion's servant was healed in Capernaum. Jesus taught in the synagogue, did mighty miracles, and lived among the people. They saw Him frequently and, with a population of less than 2,000, most people probably knew Him or at least knew of Him. 

The terrible thing about Capernaum, though, is that, despite the close encounters with Jesus, they did not embrace His teachings or His way. Matthew records a heart-breaking prophecy. "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you." (Matthew 11:23, 24 NASB)

The Son of God walked the streets of Capernaum in the flesh. He ate, laughed, and lived among them.  People may have thought He was a nice guy, but they were not willing to break with tradition and their expectations to embrace this unlikely Messiah for whom they had been waiting the last four centuries. As a result, doom was prophecied and the village is a ruin of stones today. 

It's easy to look at Capernaum and wonder how they could miss their Messiah. It's not as easy to see that we do the same thing ourselves. God is still at work all around us. Although Jesus is not here in the flesh, His Spirit is no less active in our lives today. How often do we recognize the hand of God in our daily activities? How often do we see our circumstances as divinely orchestrated events? 

Do you recognize your Lord moving in your midst? Do you see Him at work and give Him credit for what He is doing?

Today, pray that our loved ones will not be blinded like Capernaum but will have spiritual eyes to see God at work in their lives. Pray that His moving would be crystal clear to us and to those we love, and that we would embrace the One who came to set us free. 
Link for last night's post is here:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The unlikely winner

Ryan did not want to do the Showmanship competition, but after a pep talk and prayers for both him and his calf, he headed into the ring.   I was pleased to see him focused and concentrating on the heifer, as well as the judge.  He was paying attention and had the calf firmly under control.  

There was another boy in the ring who was clearly more experienced, and more confident, than Ryan.  As the judge lined the children up by standings, the other boy was in first place and Ryan was in second.  Since he’d only competed once before, I thought Ryan had done well, and I could see from his face that he was pleased.

Just before announcing the winner, the judge hesitated.  Why was he waiting?  He had the winners in line and he should be through.  As I watched, I realized the boy in the first position was having trouble with his calf, which had become very restless.  Abruptly, the calf tried to bolt and a struggle ensued.  

Ryan never noticed.  He was focused on his calf, gently stroking her belly with his show stick, and watching the judge.  He had his calf, amazingly, under perfect control.  

I saw a surprised look on his face as he began to turn his calf around.  What was Ryan doing?  As I glanced back at the judge, I realized he was pointing at Ryan and motioning for him to swap places.  Ryan was moving into first place!  What in the world was going on?  I was shocked.  

When the judge picked up the microphone to defend his placings, he explained that the boy who started in first had lost control of his calf at the last minute.  Ryan, on the other hand, had persevered even when it looked as if he was coming in second.  He never stopped trying, and it had paid off.  He had won!

Later in the day, the judge commented to the crowd that he’d been watching Ryan ever since he entered the show ring.  He told them that it was no surprise his calf had ultimately won Grand Champion, because Ryan never gave up.

It’s fun to win a trophy for persevering in the show ring, but God has promised us something better.  James tells us the one who endures will receive the crown of life.  When the trial you face seems too hard to endure, remember the lesson of the show ring.  Keep your hand to the task with both eyes firmly fixed on the judge, and you, too, can come in a winner.  


“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  James 1:12 NASB

The Builder: part 4 (Luke 6:49)

But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:49 NASB)

When we've followed Christ for a long time, we have a tendency to become comfortable in the relationship and accustomed to the dependability of our Lord. With that comes a forgetfulness about life without Christ that robs us of our desire to share Christ with those around us. We would do well to review exactly what Jesus said about the one who heard His truth but opted to reject it. 

Their life has no anchor. When the storms of life come, they have nowhere to turn. Think about the storms you've faced. Things like the death of a loved one, the rebellion of a much-loved child, financial losses, a marriage that faltered or failed, a parent with dementia or other devastating illness, your own failing health, all present challenges and heartache that are enormous and, at times, all-consuming. Can you remember how your faith sustained you in those difficult times? Can you imagine navigating those storms without Jesus?

I see people almost every day who face enormous difficulties, and you probably do, too.  Those without Christ break my heart. Just as Jesus said, a "storm" is too much for them, and they collapse rather than trust Christ to help them through. When what must be done is more than humanly possible, they lack the resources to accomplish it anyway through Christ. That's when I begin to hear, "I can't..."  and I think, "Oh, but Christ can." Having heard of Him but rejected Him, not everyone wants to hear again. Just as He said, the ruin is great. The destruction is a tragedy. 

We live in a nation that is ostensibly Christian yet filled with people who know Christ by name by not by heart. When the hard times come, they will bring collapse and destruction, unless someone shares the love of Jesus with those who need Him. 

Will you be the one to bring the hope of Christ into a desperate situation? Evangelism has been described as one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. We have the Bread of Life. Let's share it. 

Pray today that the destruction our loved ones have already faced will leave them searching for truth and that their search will not end until they find their truth in Christ alone. Pray too for a heart filled with compassion for those facing the storms of life with Jesus. 
Here's the link to last might's post:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The impact (Bahamian blogging # 13

One of the things I've been pondering lately is the impact one person can have on another. I'm particularly interested in that seemingly casual encounter during which words are spoken that impact and are remembered for decades. 

I've have several such encounters of my own. More than a decade ago, John Livoni talked with me about joining the Physicians Resource Council. He explained the work and committment that would be involved. "You have a full plate," he said.  "You need to decide whether there is room on the plate for this or not." As our discussion continued, the suggestion was made that I put my "plate" at the foot of the cross and see what God decided to do.  My tendency is to fill my life to the brim with activities I enjoy until I'm completely overloaded. Time and time again, I've had to say, "Is there room on my plate for this?"  Time and time again, I've had to take my "plate" to the cross. Years later, that conversation is as fresh as the day we spoke because of the impact it made. 

A few years before, I was busy traveling and speaking in addition to being a mom, running a small farm, and practicing medicine. Brad Beck and I were talking in the hall during a break in a meeting and he asked, "Where is the margin in your life?" Margin, in case you don't know, is the room around the edges of your "have to" that leaves room for God to work. That question stuck with me when I went home, and I found that major changes were needed. Once more, I'm asking myself Brad's question again. 

When Ryan and I were in the Bahamas, we enjoyed several long leisurely meals. The service was much slower than that to which I was accustomed, but the food was lovely when it arrived. The wait allowed time for conversation.  It also forced me to slow down a bit and enjoy my meal. My sweet cousin Christy Lee explained, "We are on Bahamas time". After I returned home and jumped back into my busy schedule, I've longed for Bahamas time. It's caused me to eat slower and converse more. I'm hoping that will also be an impact that lasts. 

Chanel was one of the students in the class to which I spoke at the College of the Bahamas. I don't remember the exact wording, but one of the things she hoped for was that people (especially church people) would recognize her as a trained professional musician. Music is her livelihood. If she doesn't get paid, she won't be able to cover her expenses. She is happy to donate services on occasion, but it's not really fair to expect her do everything for free. She wanted the option to give her services, but not always be expected to do so. She wanted to be respected for her hard work and training. I understand that more than most. I've thought repeatedly about what Chanel said, and it has caused me to see students in a little different light. Respect. Almost everyone appreciates being treated with respect. 

The Legend is very health conscious. He exercises by riding his bike fifty miles several days a week. "What kind of bike do you ride?" I asked. An expensive one, it turned out. "Well that should make it easier," I said. Really, why have a piece of equipment, expensive or not, that doesn't make the job easier? "Easy? It's never easy!" he exclaimed. He's right. Hard jobs are just that. Hard. There may be joy in the journey. There may be fun along the way. It's pretty rare, (if not impossible) though to find a tool that turns manual labor into an easy task. Sometimes the job is just hard. Somehow, the bike riding has stuck in my mind. Lately, I've had some hard tasks that I didn't much enjoy. It helped me stay the course to remember that "hard is just hard" and I need to keep going until I'm done. 

The issue that concerns me most is not the impact others have on my life. The question is what kind of impact am I having? Do my words have such power and truth that they linger for decades? Am I sowing good and not evil into the lives of others with my words? Are you? 

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24 NASB)

The Builder Part 3 (Luke 6:49)

But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:49 NASB)

In the previous section, we saw that the person who was obedient to Christ was like one who built a house on solid rock. No matter what came, the house could withstand it. That is exactly how our lives should be. So solidly built on the truth of God that we can withstand anything life brings our way. 

Today, we see the life of one who has heard truth but not acted accordingly. That person is like a man who built a house on shifting sand, without any foundation at all. The house may be big and grand. It may look exactly like the house on rock. There is one vital difference however. The foundation. There is no anchor for a foundation-less house, and, when storms come and winds blow, the house cannot withstand it.  Our lives have much the same problem. We must have a solid foundation to which we can hold in times of trouble. There must be something in our lives that gives meaning, direction, purpose. 

What is that "something" to which your life is anchored? Will it withstand the storms of life? Jesus said there was only one way to build a house, or a life, that could withstand anything.  The foundation must be build on something solid and immovable. For our lives, that "immovable" is Christ alone.  How firmly are you anchored to Him?

Pray today that our loved ones would recognize the destruction in the lives of those without Christ and choose the Solid Rock of Christ for their lives. Pray too that our lives would mirror Christ to them. 
Link to last might's post:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The kong in the pocket

This morning I slept later than usual and it threw my whole schedule off. As I was walking downstairs, I noticed a small Kong, a chew toy that Maggie and Mamie share, on the floor. Snatching it up, I stuck it in my scrub pocket and promptly forgot about it. 

Tonight, Maggie jumped in my lap and was suddenly on the alert. She patted my pocket, scratched me on the arm, pushed me with her head. It was obvious she wanted something but I couldn't tell what. The longer I delayed in meeting her need, the more insistent she became.  Finally, she started scratching at my pocket and trying to get her head in the pocket. "Maggie, what in the world are you doing?" I asked. She was not giving up. Finally, I realized there was something in my pocket that she wanted. Sure enough, the Kong was still there. I pulled it out and we had dog heaven for a few minutes. Maggie was thrilled. She immediately snuggled in, safe from Mamie, and chewed away. 

Maggie's persistence in getting what she wanted reminded me of the story of the importunate widow in Luke 18. She wanted legal protection and the judge was the only one who could provide it. She was like Maggie, pesky persistent. She kept on and on until the judge, who did not care one bit about the widow or her need for protection said, "Enough! This lady is driving me nuts. Let her have what she wants so she will leave me alone!" 

That lady wasn't worried about the judge being tired of her. She just wanted what she needed and she was not giving up. Jesus said an interesting thing about this.  "now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly." (Luke 18:7,8 NASB)

Maggie and that widow knew something we would do well to emulate. When you need intervention from your mama, the judge, or Almighty God, it pays to persevere. If we addressed our prayer concerns with the tenacity of those two, not stopping until God met our need, whatever it may be, we might see more miraculous answers. If we prayed nonstop for our loved ones who have been led astray by the enemy of our soul,  and prayed with insistence that they be freed from the bonds of the evil one, perhaps we would see some divine intervention. Now I do not at all mean to imply that loved ones remain in bondage because we didn't pray enough. That's not true. Our prayer can, however, make a difference and this passage suggests that pressing on in prayer can yield a tremendous result. 

Are you concerned about a loved one? Pray! Is it taking too long? Pray! Are you tempted to quit because of the delay? Pray. Keep right on praying until your answer comes. 

The builder part 2 (Luke 6:47, 48)

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. (Luke 6:47, 48 NASB)

In this passage, Jesus addresses the life of the one who is obedient. "He is like a builder who builds on a solid rock foundation," he told His listeners. 

The house with the solid rock foundation may look like all the other houses in the neighborhood. It may be simple or elaborate, large or small.  It is not the costliness of the decor or the beauty of the landscaping that makes the difference in this house. It is the foundation. 

What matters about this builder's house may only be apparent when storms come. They will come, of course. There is no avoiding them, and when they do, this house is so anchored that neither the rain nor the wind shake it at all. The house holds firm. 

That is exactly how our lives should be. In fact, the way we handle the storms of life reveals our foundation. When a horrible thing happens (a storm comes), we respond to it in one of two ways. When we put our trust in God alone and seek to be obedient in every area, it reveals our firm foundation. If we put our trust in anything other than God, it reveals our foundation, as well. 

When we thank God for allowing the adversity into our lives because of what He is going to do through it, bless our enemies, forgive offenses, have peace in the midst of turmoil around us, we show the world our firm foundation. Those are not easy responses to trouble, but they come more easily to one who is accustomed to obedience already. It is one of the reasons why daily obedience is so important. 

What does your response to the trials of life reveal about your foundation?  What does mine?  

Pray today that God will reveal our foundation clearly, and that we will make any changes needed. Pray, too, that our response to the storms of life (as well as that of the believers in the lives of our loved ones), will be so startling different to those we love, so powerful, that they will want our peace, our Solid Rock for their own. 
Here's the link for last might's post:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Community Development.

Tonight was the Union County Development Association meeting and, as an elected official, I attended. The speaker was Mrs. Jackie Hogan from Toyota Mississippi. She was introduced by David Rumbarger from the Community Development Foundation, and he spoke briefly about the process involved in bringing Toyota to Mississippi. 

Jobs were evaporating in the northeast Corner of the state and community leaders were desperately trying to find ways of bringing some sort of long-term manufacturing to the area to provide jobs and replace those that had been lost. The leaders from three adjoining counties had tried and failed. There was not enough land available in one large tract.

Mr. Rumbarger was at hunting camp with Randy Kelly, and they were discussing the situation. Mr. Kelly had a great idea. Why not work together? Instead of competing with each other, why didn't leaders from the three counties work together as one to accomplish something enormous?  That's exactly what they did. People stopped putting their personal priorities first and started putting the greater good of the region first. An amazing thing happened! After many difficulties and incredible effort, Toyota announced that they were building their new plant in Mississippi. In fact, they were building their new plant just outside my little village of Blue Springs. 

How likely was it that this little corner of the poorest state in the Union could recruit an international powerhouse like Toyota? Not at all likely. How did it happen? Teamwork and unity. 

What is really unusual to me is that community leaders are great at working together for the good of the community, but the body of believers in Jesus doesn't always do so well. It seems to me that the body of Christ should be THE model of unity, teamwork, and vision. People should look at us and say, "If you want needs addressed, those are the people to do it." Are there hungry people? Call the Christians. They can figure it out. Homeless people? Call the Christians. They will make a plan. I'm not sure that's how we always work, but I think it's how it should be. 

It's my dream that all the denominations in my area would work together as one and function as the body of Christ, in harmony and unity, working from our commonalities and leaving our differences behind. We do that sometimes, but there's a tendency to group along denominational lines. Can you imagine the incredible things that could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God if all we cared about was bringing people to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith rather than protecting our own little area? Imagine the needs that could be met, the lives that could be changed!

How could that happen? A few people who say let's do it, then never quit until the job is accomplished, could bring this miraculous effort to pass. It has to start somewhere. The question tonight is will you be one of the few?  

The builder. Part 1 (Luke 6:47,48a)

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock (Luke 6:47, 48a NASB)

Jesus wanted to explain to his followers how obedience to His words would affect their lives. They would be like a builder who built his house on solid rock, he told them. The foundation was firm and unshakeable. There was no danger of shifting ground and a crumbling foundation in the future. It was going to stay where it had been "planted". 

What a great foundation for a life! Solid rock. Unshakeable. Trustworthy. That's the foundation I want, one that can withstand the storms of life and still be standing after the storm has passed. 

It is important to note that not every person in the crowd around Jesus was so firmly rooted and grounded. Not everyone who listened attentively in the crowd was building their life on solid rock. The solid rock foundation requires more than hanging out with the church crowd, attending an occasional service, and knowing the "faith language".  It requires more than listening carefully to the sermons and taking extensive notes. To have a rock-solid  foundation, we have to come to Jesus, hear with understanding, and do what He says. We have to obey, and it is not optional. 

What kind of foundation have you chosen for your life? 

Pray today that we and our loved ones will not just listen but also obey Jesus, and build our lives on the Solid Rock. 
Here's the link for Orkin Dads, last night's post:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Orkin Dads

It had been an insanely busy day at the office and I was exhausted. Before leaving for the evening, it's my routine to check with the nurses for any last minute details. As we were discussing the next day's schedule, the pest control men came through the door. It was fairly close to closing time and I groaned inwardly. I did not want to end up leaving late. 

We greeted them as they approached the desk. There were two men. The older was as perky as if it was the start, instead of the end, of the day. The younger man looked exhausted. I said something about it, and the older man said, "Oh, he's fine. He's just got a new baby is all. He's not getting any sleep."  He laughed and nudged the younger guy. 

"How old is your baby?" someone asked. He'd anticipated that question, I suspect, for his hand was already on his phone.  He grinned the biggest grin I'd seen all day as he said, "He's seven months old!" That proud papa was filled with joy as he handed photos of his little son all around. We oohed and ahhed as women will do over babies, and he grinned and grinned. He was tired, but he didn't really mind the missed sleep.  

The older man was not going to be left out of the bragging. He quickly let us know he has two children of his own. He has a fifteen year old that is the greatest. He showed us pictures and bragged a little. "I've got a four year old daughter, too," he said as he showed us another picture. "Here she is. She's so sweet!" From the picture, I could see there was a problem, which he quickly verified. "I wish you'd all pray for her. She has a mild case of cerebral palsy. She just needs your prayers." He was still beaming about his beautiful little girl. 

Samantha said it first, "Ooh, these Orkin Dads are so sweet!" We were all thinking it, though. I wanted to cry because of the joy they exhibited over their children. That older dad was every bit as excited about his little girl with cerebral palsy as the younger man was with his healthy infant son. (And he should be)

They were both sweet dads and I adored the joy they expressed about their children. The older dad, though, left me thinking about our Heavenly Father. The Orkin Dads were proud of their children, they loved their children, not because of anything they had done, or any milestones they had accomplished. The Orkin Dads loved their children, despite their dificulties, simply because they were theirs. Scripture says God sees us as sinners but loves us anyway, despite our imperfections. (Romans 6:23). His loveis not  anything  we can earn, but there is good news! He loves us just because we are His, and that's the best news of all!

Saying and Doing: two very different things. (Luke 6:46)

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46 NASB)

What a perfect verse for Easter morning! As I write this, I am listening to the symphony of birds singing praise to our Lord. Wise birds. So should we also break forth in joyful song on this glorious morning! He is risen!

The question Jesus raises here is an important one. Why do we profess Christ but do not obey Him? Exactly. It makes no sense to claim to follow Jesus yet fail to follow Him. 

Can we be a follower of Christ if we don't actually follow?  

Selah. Pause and consider. 

I know the answer to the question Jesus asked. I don't like it, but I have first hand knowledge of the answer. Why don't we obey Him when we call Him Lord? We don't obey because we don't want to obey.  

Another reason we don't obey is because we don't know what He said in the first place. That is not an excuse, of course. The words of Christ are not hidden away. We can know what He said. If we don't obey because we don't know Scripture, it is because we have chosen not to know it. Even for passages that seem inscrutable, understanding is available through the help of the Holy Spirit. 

If the only verses we understood and obeyed were the Greatest commandment, "And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' (Matthew 22:37 NASB) and the second greatest, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39 NASB), we would be able to please Him with our obedience. Obeying those two verses could change the world. Why don't we obey them? We choose not to obey. 

In the end, a simple choice separates us from calling Him Lord and making Him Lord  it is a choice we make on a daily basis. Will we obey?

As we celebrate the victory over sin and death that the Resurrection brought, let us not lose sight of the fact that victory over sin means we are not controlled by our penchant for sinning. We have a decision to make this fine Easter morning. Will we follow Jesus or just talk about Him?

Pray today that our words and actions match so completely that, when our loved ones see us, they get a clear picture of the One we say we follow.