Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Not-So-Secret Password

My morning Bible reading has been in the Psalms this week. Today, I read Psalm 100. I had written a note in the margin that said, "MSG - Password: Thank you." I thought it was a reference to the Message paraphrase, so I looked it up. It says the truth of this Psalm so well that I've decided to reproduce it here for you. (The Message is a paraphrase. It's not a study Bible, but I enjoy the language on occasion.)

"On your feet now - 
applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into His presence.
Know this: GOD is God,
and God, GOD.
He made us; we didn't make Him.
We're His people, His well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password:
'Thank you!'
Make yourselves at home, 
talking praise.
Thank Him. Worship Him.
For God is sheer beauty,
all generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Psalm 100:1-5 MSG

My relationship with God wasn't always like this. It's not always like this now. For the most part, however, I frequently laugh in His presence at the amazing, truly funny things He does. At His surprising kindness. At His astounding generosity.

He IS sheer beauty, and I am never more cognizant of that fact than in the spring. I've spent a lot of time writing on my screened porch this week, but there's been a lot of time just reveling in the beauty of His creation, His generosity, His sheer beauty. 

I can't count the times I've walked outside at night, seen the stars, and whispered, "Way to go, God. Awesome display." 

He is good. He is beautiful. He is kind. He is faithful.

When we finally come to understand that truth, how can we respond in any way except deep and overwhelming gratitude?

Today, use the password to enter His presence.

Thank you, God.

Don't say thanks once. Spend your day looking for evidence of God at work and thanking Him every single time you see His fingerprints. You'll be laughing by the end of the day because of all the ways you see Him.

Make yourself at home with our Lord by talking praise. 

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: When God Listens ( 
#praiseGod #givethanks #Jesus

Friday, May 13, 2016

When God Listens

King David was in desperate straits. He described himself as "afflicted and needy". He needed help and he knew the only One who could give him that help was God Himself.

David's prayer of desperation in Psalm 86 includes a term that's interesting. 

"Incline your ear, O, Lord, and answer me; 
For I am afflicted and needy."
Psalm 86:1 nasb

The Hebrew word used here is natah and literally means to stretch out or bend down. The idea is of one who leans down to listen carefully.

The image is of a father whose young child is pulling on his clothing, tugging at the hem of the garment saying, "Listen to me, Daddy." Like any good father would do, he leans down to see what the child has to say.

When His children pray, that's what God does. He inclines His ear, leans over, stretches down to listen. He pays attention.

It's a concept I will never fully comprehend, but God, who sustains the entire universe, knows everything that happens at the exact instant that it happens. He knows our innermost thoughts. At the same time, He listens intently to the prayers of His children when they pray.

When I pray. When you pray.

Whatever our need, He listens. Whatever our words.

Imagine His delight when we tug at His hand, saying, "Listen, Daddy," and, when He leans close to hear, we tell Him, "I love you!" 

For today, let's do just that. As you beseech God with your "Listen, Daddy" plea, delight Him with our words of love. Words of thanks. Words of praise. 

He knows our needs. He wants our love. Let's give it to Him today.

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Psalm That Made Me Laugh (
#prayer #praise #whenwepray

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Psalm That Made Me Laugh

My first response to reading the Psalms is not usually laughter, but, today, I laughed out loud. I had missed the imagery before. Suddenly, I could visualize it as I read.

"Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; 
In the balances they go up; 
They are together lighter than breath." 
Psalm 62:9 nasb

When I saw those words, I had the image of balance scales with the value of the men of low degree and the men of rank on one side. When the weights were added to the opposite side, the tray holding the value of the men flew up. 

Can you see it? 

In my mind's eye, the two types of men were flailing their arms and trying to regain their balance as the tray flew up. A look of astonishment on their faces, they wondered what had happened. Vanity and lies had convinced them of their worth. 

What a surprise to find that true value lies elsewhere.

When our lives are weighed on judgment day, our value will not be measured against other men. We will not be measured against the world's standards. We will be measured against the perfection of Jesus Christ. 

We will be found wanting.

As I write this, I see my own flailing arms and realize, all over again, that, if not for my relationship with Christ, I, too, would be "going up in the balances". 

It was the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus that made this divine balancing possible, but it was my decision to follow Christ that made it a reality. 

There were many people who stood in the crowd and listened to Jesus. Men of low degree and men of rank stood alongside all the others. There were only a few people, however, who moved from standing in the crowd to following with the few.

If we are to obey the command of Christ, we must follow Him, wherever He leads.

If we want to weigh well in the balance of life, we cling to Christ, for He alone gives us the weightiness of value. 

We'd do well to ask ourselves today where are we in the crowds around Jesus? Do we stand or do we follow? 

Let's choose now to move a few steps closer as we follow Him.
Here's the link for yesterday's post: The Lingering Aroma (

Photo courtesy of

#disciple #measureofaman #value #Jesus

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Lingering Aroma

I did a foolish thing yesterday, and, for the next several hours, I wished I hadn't. I almost hate to tell you about it, but I'm going to do it, anyway.

A lot of my fellow writers, who work from home, dress in their most comfortable clothes to write. I, on the other hand, treat it like a job. When I move to my computer in the morning to write, I go dressed for work. Yesterday, I wore a silk skirt with a blouse and sweater.

After lunch, I realized I needed to check on the chickens. It would have been sensible to change clothes first, but I thought it would be a quick trip. I switched to barn shoes and headed to the chicken house, silk skirt swishing.

I fed the chickens and gathered the eggs, then checked the waterer. It wasn't a pretty sight. The chicken roost is in a very unhandy place, nearly over the waterer. An energetic chicken can make a horribly unpleasant deposit in the waterer if she so desires. 

Apparently, she had so desired. More than once. It was a ghastly mess. And that's putting it mildly.

Here's the foolish part. I'm still surprised I did this, but I said to myself, "I should just scoop these feathers out of the waterer. Maybe I won't have to wash it out." For just a tiny moment, I failed to consider the deposits the roosting chicken had made.

Since I didn't have any gloves with me, and since I was trying to protect my silk skirt, I gathered up my skirt with my left hand, bent way over, and stretched out my right hand. In the waterer it went. I made a quick swoop around the basin of the waterer and came up with a handful of feathers and... "deposit". I gagged. Threw the handful on the ground. Gagged again. Dragged the waterer out, rinsed it clean, put it back in the chicken house, and refilled it with water.

I rinsed my hand at the tap and wiped it good with the towel I keep at the barn. All the way back to the house, I kept thinking, "Something smells terrible." I reached my right hand up to swipe the hair out of my face and I knew. The thing that smelled terrible was my hand. 

The scent of my recent action clung to my hand like a second skin. I washed my hand with lime-and-cucumber soap. No better. Lysol. Clorox bathroom cleaner. Comet. After all that scrubbing, there was still the lingering scent of ... the deposit.

At least my hand was clean, so I applied fragrant hand lotion. The two fragrances mingled and transformed the lotion's scent to... the deposit again.

Hours later, after multiple scrubs with tangerine sugar scrub, I finally got the scent off. Lesson learned.

Then, I noticed the spot on my silk skirt, and I went to work all over again.

During all the scrubbing, I had time to consider the "aroma" our actions leave in our lives. Acts of righteousness leave a sweet smelling aroma that pleases our Lord. Sinful acts leave an aroma that is not so pleasant.

Today, let's take careful note of our actions and the aroma they offer to our Lord. Let's choose wise actions and be sure we send sweet-smelling sacrifices of love His way.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;" 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 nasb

#fragrance #Jesus #farmlife

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bento and His Final Adoption

My son, Ryan, is a software engineer in Atlanta. He grew up on the farm with lots of animals. In addition to horses, cows, goats, and chickens, he's always had a dog. After years of living in student housing and "no pet" apartments, he now lives in an apartment that allows pets. For a price.

When I was in Atlanta for my birthday, Ryan talked about getting a dog. We went to Piedmont Park and he commented on every dog that passed. Too large. Too small. Too much hair. Too much grooming. The medium-sized black dogs caught his attention. 

From the conversation, I knew he'd have a dog soon. 

The day I left, he and his girlfriend, Hannah, were headed to the grocery store. In passing, he said, "We might go visit the pound."

They went there first. 

A few hours later, Hannah texted me. "I think Ryan found a dog!" She was right. After considerable paperwork, during which he agreed not to eat his new dog, Ryan adopted Bento.

He didn't start out as Bento. His original name was Milo, but it didn't suit him. After considering hundreds of names, Ryan chose Bento, which is a style of Japanese food that is "cute and comes in a small box". His name fits him now.

Bento had been adopted once before but was returned to the shelter because the owner didn't have time for him, and because he thought Bento was stubborn and had too much energy. 

Energy and stubbornness didn't bother Ryan. He spent years teaching cranky cows and goats to do what he wanted in the show ring. He can handle a stubborn animal.

Bento now has a permanent home where he doesn't have to worry about being rejected or abandoned. He's been adopted by a loving, faithful owner.

As I've thought about Bento's rejection by his original owner and his new adoption by Ryan, I was reminded of our own adoption. 

We were readily adopted by the world and the enemy of our soul, but the world is a precarious, unreliable home, and the enemy of our soul is an unfaithful owner. He leads us into trouble, but he leaves us there, instead of helping us to find our way through.

We needed a "forever home", and, through the work of Christ, we can have one.

We, who are the most stubborn of all God's creatures, who are the most energetic at getting ourselves into more sin than we can get ourselves out of, have (as disciples of Christ) been adopted as sons and daughters by God Himself. He's not afraid of our stubbornness or our energy. He can handle it, because He's seen it all before.

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15 nasb

As children of God, we share in all the blessings of His son, Jesus. We share in the forever home of God in heaven. We share in His love, His tender care, His discipline, His companionship.

We've been adopted by One who will never leave us. Never forsake us. Never "turn us back in" because of our propensity for sin.

He loves us. He wants us. He holds us in his no-slip grip, and we are His. Forever.

Today, let's thank God for our adoption as sons and daughters. We are children of the King, so let us live to honor and obey our Father, the One who took us in and will never let us go.
If you're participating in the Hosea study, the second lesson is posted on the website. and the link is below. It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the end. God bless your efforts.

Here's the link to Chapter 2 of the Hosea Bible study  (

Here's the link to yesterday's post: The Beginning of Fruit (

#adoption #childrenofGod

Monday, May 9, 2016

The beginning of fruit

My grape vine is only a few months old, but it has already begun to produce fruit. Of course, those tiny beginning-grapes are far from the plump, juicy fruit it will bear later, but it's a start. 

What surprised me most about the fruit is that the vine is so young. I expected to wait a year or more before I saw any grapes. My young vine is not wasting any time. 

When I saw the vine yesterday, I was reminded of our relationship with Christ. He is the vine. We are the branches. His Father is the vinedresser. Our job is to bear fruit. John 15:1, 5)

As branches, we are connected to the vine, through which all our nutrients flow. Jesus said, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." He was right. A branch, apart from the vine, is nothing but a stick.

We have a few options in this branch-ness of ours. We can separate from the vine, wither, and dry up. We can accept the nutrients from the branch and grow long and strong, with lots of luxurious leaves. We can be beautiful, but, if we don't grow fruit, we've wasted all the growth.

The purpose of the branch is not to grow leaves. The purpose of the branch is fruit.

Scripture speaks of more than one kind of fruit. There is, of course, the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. As disciples of Christ, these fruit should steadily increase in our lives, but they are not the only fruit we should bear.

Paul, in Romans 1:13 spoke of his desire to go to Rome so that he might have "fruit" there. He was referring to the conversion of souls to Christ. To sharing the gospel with those who do not know Christ and strengthening those who do.

Colossians 1:10 speaks of "bearing fruit in every good work." 

It is not enough to simply develop good character traits. We must allow the Spirit to manifest those traits through us by our actions. Faithfulness should lead us to faithfully share a witness wherever we are. Kindness should prompt us to do kind deeds for others.

Jesus' announced His mission statement, from Isaiah 61. He came to "bring good news to the afflicted... bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners... to comfort those who mourn." Isaiah 61:1-2 nasb 

Jesus involved Himself in the lives (and the needs) of hurting people. If we are to be like Him, we will, too.

Jesus did not die so that we might bear beautiful leaves. He died so that we could be set free from the power of sin in our lives and be restored to right relationship with God. That restoration should lead to fruit, both in our hearts and through our lives. We need to both BE and DO.

Let's do a little fruit inspection today. Are the fruits of the Spirit present in our lives? Are they increasing? Are those fruit-traits manifesting in action? Are we involved in the lives of hurting people? Are we doing good works? 

If not, why not?

In the early church, believers were remarkable for their love - both for each other and for those in need. We should be the same. 

Today, ask yourself, "Who does Christ want to love through me today?" Don't be content with asking the question, though. Keep being, but also start loving. Start doing.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is perishing.
If you're participating in the Hosea study, the second lesson is posted on the website. and the link is below. It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the end. God bless your efforts.

Here's the link to Chapter 2 of the Hosea Bible study  (

#MondayMeditation #bearmuchfruit #vineandbranches

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sharing Secrets With God

You, like me, probably have lots of acquaintances, in addition to a few very close friends. My closest friends and I can pick up where we left off weeks ago without a hitch because we have years of history between us. Years of proven trust.

Because we have shared so much over the years, we know we can trust each other with the secrets of our heart, without fear of betrayal. That's one of the important differences between an acquaintance and a friend. Proven trust and intimacy.

King David had that kind of relationship with the Lord. He spent time in His presence and found that, over the years, a deep intimacy developed between them. In Psalm 25, he wrote about sharing secrets with God.

"The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, 
And He will make them known His covenant. 
Psalm 25:14 nasb 

The word translated as "secret" is cowd and can mean "secret" in the traditional sense of the word but, in this verse, also means the close, intimate conversation of long-time best friends. 

The word translated as "fear" is yare' and it indicates a reverential fear, awe, respect of God, rather than the abject terror we might expect.

Putting it all together, we learn that those who enter His presence with a deep and awe-filled respect for God can develop such intimacy with Him that their relationship becomes that of best friends. They can share the kind of close conversation that Moses had with God. Friend with friend. 

That kind of relationship was not reserved only for Enoch, Moses, or David. That kind of relationship is available to us, as well, but only if we are willing to spend time in God's Word, listening to what He has to say, and in His presence, worshipping at His feet.

What we can't do is live like the world and have that secret-sharing kind of intimacy with the Most High God. If we want it, we'll have to relinquish the way of the world and choose to be like Him.

I can't imagine choosing the way of the world over such intimacy with God. Over knowing His heart and His mind. Over having hints about what He plans, what He will do.

I'm reminded of the song we learned as children. "My best friend is Jesus. Love Him, love Him. My best friend is Jesus. I love Him."

There's no better friend than Jesus, so let us live in such a way that we, too, can share secrets with God.
If you're participating in the Hosea study, the second lesson is posted on the website. and the link is below. It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the end. God bless your efforts.

Here's the link to Chapter 2 of the Hosea Bible study  (

Here's the link to Friday Night with Friends by Jon Ginn. Golden, Medicinal Words (

Here's the link to yesterday's post: 
What Does God Want? (
#secrets #intimacywithGod