Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Walking through the store today I spotted a little boy - tiny little guy - but old enough to understand how a gumball machine works.  I heard his mother calling to him, but he was distracted by the colorful array of candy inside the machine.  He kept cranking the handle over and over although he didn't have any money in the slot.  He probably thought there was a chance if he just kept cranking it he would be rewarded with a gumball.  Well, it could happen..

Likewise I've seen children ask their parents repeatedly for something they want.  They don't give up too easily, apparently believing if they ask enough times they will be rewarded.  And while a child may be deeply disappointed by a negative reaction, that does not change their love and trust for a parent.

In a similar way things in life work out for us favorably at times in ways that seem unusual and even miraculous and we give thanks to God.  Or there are times we go to the Lord again and again with a request believing that God is hearing our prayers.  But what about those situations that are so very hard for us to wait through?  What about those times when things do not look good at all?  And what about those times when not only do things not look good, but the situation is actually getting worse?  How do we cope with that?

I'm not breaking new ground here because scripture tells us clearly what to do, but it's always good to remind ourselves.  When those times of discouragement come, and they almost certainly will, we must remember that we have an assurance the world cannot know unless they too come into a relationship with Christ.  We're not simply waiting and hoping for the best, but we are using our faith, believing with faith, praying with faith, and speaking our faith.  Faith undoubtedly is of monumental importance; I would think that anyone who reads scripture would have to agree.  Jesus made the statement to those he healed, "Your faith has made your well."  And scripture tells us also that the lack of faith of some was a definite problem.

One very important way to show our faith is to give praise to God always.  In good times, and in difficult times, praise God, with all our heart.  That is good for our spirit because we are receiving God's love from the life-giving inflow of God's Holy Spirit.  God's Spirit is always with us and it is important for us to fully reside with God's Spirit.  If we look at the Book of Acts and the words Jesus spoke to the disciples, clearly it is understood that we require the "power" of God's Spirit within our lives.

And so this is how we cope and find strength through all things in life.  God's love is ever present and without end.  He "will not leave us or forsake us."  Regardless of what the situation looks like, we can know that God has it in hand.  Jesus spoke of the faith of a child because for them faith comes so naturally.  We can turn to God and he understands.  There is a beautiful old hymn that comes to mind - "Trust and Obey."  and that's our part, to trust and obey.  God will surely "show us the way."

Sunday, September 30, 2012


"Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me," said the son to the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  The father did not refuse his son, but certainly his heart must have been heavy as he watched his son leave.  But what good to try and hold his son there under these circumstances, with the boy so convinced that the life he had was so much less than what he could have?  How to tell him?  How to make him understand? 

And so the son separated himself from the presence of his father.  There was nothing now to restrain him.  He had freedom and money and youth.  He traveled to that far country just as he had planned.  All the money he had he spent in "wild living."  There is probably no doubt given his youth and the fact that he'd never traveled away on his own that he was taken advantage of by many.  He became immersed in a search for pleasure, but it cost him everything. 

With all the money he had gone and no other way to provide for himself he took work as a swineherd, but clearly he was still desperately poor.  So the story goes, he got to the point of wishing for the food thrown to the swine, and it's at that point that he knew.  Jesus described the experience by saying the young man "came to himself."  He understood at that point the goodness of all he had once had from his father.  He made a decision that he would return to his father and ask for a place as a servant.

At the sight of his son, his father was filled with a sense of love and great compassion.  The painter, Rembrandt, captured the full emotional impact of this reunion between father and son and the representation through the story of God's tremendous love and mercy.  Here is the son, so changed by this experience; it has wearied him and aged him.  He kneels before his father and receives love and understanding to a degree he had not dreamed of.  Such is the love God has for each one of us in this world.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I was three years old, as I recall.  I lived with my parents and brother in an apartment in Jackson, Michigan.  We didn’t own a car at that time and I remember that when I had a terrible ear ache my mom called a taxi.  The memory is kind of hazy but I recall feeling miserable and leaning my head against my mom’s arm as the driver took us to the hospital.  At the hospital the doctor wanted to look in my ear because what had happened is that my mom had been cleaning my ear with a Q tip at home and I had suddenly turned and the Q tip had jammed quite far into the ear causing bleeding.  Well, the doctor wanted to look and I was going to have none of it.  I resisted with all the effort I could muster and even with reinforcements of the staff I managed to hold them off for a time.  They finally conquered by rolling me tightly into a sheet.  At that point I resorted to hysterical cries as they grasped and pressed my head to hold it in place.  There were little murmured conversations going on around me and terrifying clicks and other unidentifiable sounds.  I felt the probe going into my ear and I held my eyes shut as tight as possible.   “Julie,” I heard the doctor say.  He said it almost as a melody.  “Ju-lie,  guess what I see?  I see a bunny.”  That was all it took, and my fear went away, because of one man who knew how to talk to a child.  

Even as adults we experience times when we’re fearful because of the unknown or uncertainty of a situation.  We fear a bad outcome perhaps or we’re afraid because we’ve taken on a new responsibility.  We might be facing something we never expected and we’re wondering how to get through it.  It’s always good to have someone we can talk to, but of course the best thing to do is to go to God in prayer.  There are many reassuring words we can hear from people, but they can’t put that calmness within our spirit.  That has to come from the Lord.  There truly is nothing to equal the healing, calming touch that God provides.  And so as a child I needed someone to tell me in a way I could understand that there was nothing to fear, but when I became an adult “I put away childish things” and my understanding became clear because of Christ. 


Sunday, July 22, 2012


What happens when that day comes that there is absolutely no difference between the way the world thinks and those of the church think?  I've thought about this lately a great deal because I see it happening.  I suppose one could rightly state that it is in its way fulfillment of prophecy; therefore I can reason that a sense of calm should prevail because God has the situation in hand - and I believe with all my heart that He does, but each time I look at this situation I experience a heaviness within me that is hard to shake off. 

There is a time spoken of in the Bible - a time when people will not "endure sound doctrine," but will want to hear continuous pleasantries.  What seems now to have happened is that many people choose to attend churches where they can count on hearing a gospel message laced with all good news and designed to motivationally build on their sense of self-importance.  Consequently, having resisted the Holy Spirit they have come to the point that they cannot bear to hear a true message of repentance for this world.  They don't want to hear about sin and judgment.  That does not fit with the world they are in which they've become so reluctant to let go of. 

I know this is a difficult subject.  It leaves me with a sense of great unhappiness, but at the same time I feel the comfort and love of God's Spirit and therefore there is joy also, because I know the strength of God's love.  He would not have made a way of salvation for us if that were not true.  Let's listen to God's word, study it, drink it in and pray for understanding.  Jesus said that we should pay attention and learn from His words.  He wants us to make a difference in this world - to be the "salt" that gives flavor to a world of people who struggle to find their way.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The question comes up at times in life for many people: "Is God fair?" or it may be phrased in many other ways, but representing the same line of thought.  "Why?"  I think we all at some point in life react in that way.  Spoken or unspoken, the question may linger there in the back of our mind.  "Why, God?"

It can be hard to accept the idea of free will in this world as it applies to our spiritual state of being.  It seems that people love the concept of free will until it comes to the question of where that leaves us in our standing before God.  "What is hell?" people often wonder.  "How is it possible that God would allow anyone to go to hell?"  "What about God's love for mankind?"

The question of God's love for us actually does lead us to the answers we need.  God, through Christ, has offered salvation to "all who will come," with no exception whatsoever.  If we want Him, He wants us - anyone - all - and with no condemnation.  Therefore, if we choose in life to go another way, God will allow us to do so.  For some it means that they have rejected God altogether, and as hard as it is for me or any Christian to accept what the outcome of that decision may be, it has been a choice.  The invitation is extended to us and we can take it or reject it.  God allows us to choose.

And so, is God fair or is He not?  If you love someone how far would you personally go in order to save them from destruction?  Would you give your life?  He did.  Prior to the time Jesus gave His life for us on the cross the way to God was an almost impossible road for anyone.  God wanted to make a way - for all of us.  I don't see how, having done that for us, it could be considered by any stretch of the imagination that God is unfair.  His love is simply beyond our comprehension because it enfolds the entire world.  If you find yourself faced with that question at any point remember this: that just, fair and righteous is the Lord our God.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


During an evening church service recently the pastor asked for testimonies among the congregation and various people spoke in turn, giving thanks to God for many things in life.  One young man who spoke made a statement regarding his search in life for answers.  He said he had considered the Easter message of Jesus' resurrection and in particular the words of the angel to Mary at the empty tomb:  "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"  The angel was of course referring to the fact that Jesus had risen and the angel spoke these words, reminding Mary that this had been foretold by Jesus himself.  Why look here?  Jesus lives, as He said He would.  In testimony the man spoke to the congregation and he said he found himself struck by the thought of looking for life among the dead.  "Why do I do this in life?" he asked.  "Why do I find myself at times looking for answers where there are none to be found?  I know that the answers I need are in God's word."

Why indeed - as believers in Christ we realize that God's word is truth and life, here and in the eternal.  And we have to realize that because of the fact that we are in a sense walled in by a worldly point of view there is a potential for problems if we don't regularly go to God's word and go to God in prayer.  We need that as much as we need food and fluids to keep us physically alive.  Our spirit needs or requires that strong connection to God and without that we begin to suffer in many ways sometimes without realizing we're suffering. 

There is a space inside of us which is a part of God's design and perhaps that truly is where our own spirit resides, and that is the place where we receive the inflow of God's spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our teacher and counselor and scripture tells us, also the interpreter of our prayers.  And of course, we see things of the world differently because of God's Spirit.  God's Spirit will draw us in a different direction than that of the world.  We belong to God and His love sustains us.  Jesus explained that so clearly saying that all who come to Him will neither hunger or thirst.  He was making the point: here is life - here are the answers.  "I am the resurrection and the life.."  "I am the bread of life.."  And so, let's remember to search for our answers where they can be found because God is truth, love, all understanding, and life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012



Sunday, March 25, 2012


We're having something resembling an early spring and in my yard I have trees blooming and flowers coming up and I am just amazed because I've never before seen weather such as this in March.  I thank God to see the colors again, but also I have to wonder what it all means, and I do think it means something.  Or at least, it reminds me of something: The world situation is changing and with each passing day we are that much closer to a day when Jesus will return.  What will the state of the world be in that coming day when Jesus returns?  Will we be ready?  Opening scripture the other day I came to a place in the Book of Revelation which described a new world to come - one of peace and safety - and I took joy in reading the words "And there shall be no more curse."  Think of that - and imagine what that will mean. 

In thinking it over it seems the world will one day be as God originally intended for it to be.  A knowledge of God will abound and all evil will be cast away.  It's hard at this point to imagine a world like that, but the Bible tells us, we shall see it.  That day is coming.  

At this point, we see a lot of changes in the world and we also see much to feel great worry over.  There are those who suffer greatly in this world, and we all know that is true.  There is so much unfairness and injustice.  Some people have chosen death over life - they really have.  At this point millions could potentially leave this world in this terrible lost state they exist in and while I have a sense of peace that in life or in death I am with Christ, any happiness I might feel for myself is diminished because of the condition of so many others.  But God can change things.  We know that God's love and compassion is great.  And so, as we look at the changing situation of the world and our existence let's remember to pray that the time has come for the great outpouring of God's Spirit to bring light and life into this darkening world.  "Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your Holy Spirit who speaks to us of truth in our lives we need to look at and our inborn need for your love and that our way to you is through Christ.  Amen."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


It's been said that we should seek to find our happiness in this world, and it's not that I completely disagree with that statement, but I think many people come to that same idea but from a much different direction than I would choose.  God desires that we have happiness.  I believe that.  What He doesn't want for us is this phoney, false sense of security we gain from the world.  And yet, if that is what we go after in life, God will not stand in our way. 

I know a woman changed by God's point of view.  The understanding came to her suddenly and with total clarity.  God showed her so clearly where her life was going, and it was done without words, but it came to her as an understanding within her spirit which God brought to her.  In that moment, she understood her need for Christ.  God waits patiently.  He gives us time and if we pay attention, His Spirit is speaking to us of God's tender love and compassion so deep He would go to any length to have us with Him.  That's clear because we can understand the solid truth of that based on what Jesus did for us that terrible day on the cross.

I believe God wants to give us time in life to respond to the invitation.  I think the world gets greatly in the way of the kind of understanding we need to have.  The amount of distraction is a little mind-boggling at this point.  But listen, stop and pay attention - tune out the world for a time and begin to ask God to show you and He will hear you.  He will respond.  There are any number of promises recorded in scripture regarding God's desire to see us whole, and the only possible way to that "fullness of understanding" is through God's Spirit.  That's the promise Jesus gave and will always remain true to.  "I will send the helper..."  And so, seek to find your happiness - absolutely - and find it you will, through Christ. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Quite often I watch a television show on a Christian channel called "Ask the Pastor," and people call in questions for a panel of pastors ready to offer their interpretation of scripture regarding answers.  The question that seems to get asked more than any other is "Can one lose their salvation?"  It's asked frequently, phrased in different ways but with the same concern:  "Can it happen?"  "Did it happen to me?"  The emotion behind that question is very real and I've heard some asking the question with the sound of such distress they can hardly get the question out.  In considering that question, allow me to offer my interpretation of God's word and also the viewpoint I've seen given on the show from various pastors.

Please understand: If it were possible that you had lost your salvation that would not concern you in the least.  You would be so far from God, it wouldn't matter to you. There may have been a confused time in your life when you walked away from God, but listen, He has called you back.  When you feel that tug - that pull inside your heart saying,  "I want to get back to God."  "How do I do that?  Will God hear me?"  that is God, dear friend, calling you - drawing you back.  Jesus said we don't come to God unless He draws us.  His Spirit is working to bring you back, to remind you of the truth of God's love and grace that He has for you.

Jesus spoke of the assurance that He will never turn us away.  When we come to Christ with the knowledge inside of us of the cleansing power of Christ's blood, shed for us, we stand before God forgiven.  When Jesus referred to forgiving a brother seventy times seven, I believe He was referencing it in that way because that is God's response to our ongoing need for forgiveness.  It does not end at some point.  When Jesus spoke of going off to find the one sheep gone astray, I believe we are given to understand that God's Spirit will seek to find and bring us back from wherever we have gone.  When Jesus spoke the parable of the Prodigal Son, that story symbolizes The Father, standing with arms open ready to receive us back, with joy. Believe me, God doesn't want us out in the world wandering in the wrong direction.  He wants us with Him forever.  But don't allow your heart to get hardened because therein lies the danger.  Pay attention to God's Spirit speaking to you of love, mercy and forgiveness.  Dear friend, know it with assurance:  God is calling you home.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I remember that once years ago my mother and I were going somewhere together and she was doing the driving and up ahead was a man on a bicycle.  He was trying to stay to the outside of the road but it was a chilly windy day and he was obviously having difficulty.  It was a main road and congested with traffic.   Consequently everyone on the road was slowing down and I made the comment, "Couldn't he find some other place to ride his bike?"  to which my mother replied, "Maybe that's his only means of transportation.  He might be going to or from work."  My immediate thought was, "Why didn't that occur to me?" 

In thinking the situation over many things come to mind having to do with the sometimes frequent quick assumptions we tend to make in life.  I think at times we do fail to stop and consider the possible circumstances others are coping with in life.  For instance, on occasion we meet people who are difficult to tolerate and it could be that we make many assumptions based on that.  It could be that we make harsh judgments or we're just downright critical.  Or, that we choose to walk the other way and not care one way or the other.  Any one of those is - pretty bad.

I believe that what Jesus said is if we choose to only love those we consider good or those who love us, what does that prove?  We are called to love everyone.  We don't get to pick and choose - it's everyone. And yet we don't have to rely on our own ability to love.  God's love comes to us, from His spirit to our spirit, and we can either embrace that love and choose God's path or return to or continue on thinking and reacting as the world does.  As long as life endures it will remain a choice, and though we would love to feel that as Christians we will make the right choice it doesn't always happen that way because we may follow a wrong way of thinking at times. 

"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another," the Apostle Paul wrote.  That helps us to understand - God wants us to look at others and use some understanding - and to remember that while we may not know their circumstances, He does.  And one way we can show God that we're paying attention is by way of sincere prayer.  It's good to show our concern for others and to take those concerns to God in prayer.  My mother gave me some insight that day we saw the man struggling with his bicycle on a blustery day, and I've wanted to remember it always.  And I like to keep in mind that whatever the situation, it is God's point of view that's important in life - in all things.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


It's a pretty bold question, isn't it?  But it does bring to mind important things.  Do we sometimes forget to look around and see that others may have needs and realize there may be a way for us to help?  Jesus brought the subject up several times during the period of his ministry.  And He strengthened His words by way of a powerful message.  Remember this, that when we've done something good for another, Jesus is aware and he considers it as a gift in His honor as well.

I believe with all my heart that God wants us to learn how to love during the time of our walk on this earth.  And the reason I believe that is for two reasons: because Jesus said it, and because of God's Spirit within me that speaks to me of the truth of that.  God not only expects it of us, but He gives us the way to do it.  His love comes to us through His Spirit, and when we receive and embrace that love, then we have something of great value to offer.  It's with new eyes we see and with a new heart we feel - good, clean and full, when we stay within God's presence.

Is there another way?  Is there a better way?  Really, the answer is no, because it's impossible for us to reach the level God wants us to be at apart from His Spirit.  We can work all day, helping people right and left, and that's good, but Jesus pointed out that love is still God's highest priority.  Jesus showed love for us by giving His life on our behalf and our gratitude for that should run deep.  And so, let's do things for others with love in our hearts remembering it's because "He has loved us first."  He will not forget our efforts. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012


At a Bible study one night someone made a very interesting comment.  One of the men stated that he recalls a pastor once telling him that whenever he hears that someone of the church is loved by absolutely everyone in the community - glowing reports of a wonderful personality and character - he feels a little suspicious of that.  The reason he apparently feels this way is because he reasons that if someone is truly a witness for Christ they are going to be a little controversial because people aren't always receptive to the gospel message.  As a Christian some people aren't going to like what you have to say and henceforth, they may decide they don't like you personally.  He reasons that this is the indication that a Christian is doing what God calls them to do - helping to further the message of salvation through Christ Jesus regardless of the cost.

The reason I believe there is truth in that is because of the fact that it lines up with scripture.  Jesus did state, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you."   Jesus was right to the point and very outspoken and the religious leaders of the day stood around listening intently, seething over his words.  He told them they were blind to the truth and he pointed out that they had no real love for God.  And yes, they raged over his words, and hated.  And so, it does seem true that anyone coming forward with the intent of speaking the full gospel message will more than likely be received at times with hostility in some form or another.  It may or may not provoke a confrontation, but it will probably be made known in some way.  Many of us, as Christians, don't confront people in a harsh way, but we do speak of our faith in Christ at any opportunity and along with that comes the explanation of a sinful condition and the need for God's forgiveness.  That message may take time to find acceptance in the hearts of people.  With some people it's an almost immediate understanding; with others it is not.   God brings us to it but sometimes it can take time to reach a stubborn heart. 

And so let's speak our faith and speak the gospel message with assurance, and remember to show love.  People will respond to that.  When they see genuine love and understanding - very real concern for others, they will respond to that.  It's long been said that our actions speak louder than our words.  And we should remember that if and when those times do come of facing some form of dislike (despite our best efforts) we should not feel discouraged because God is working even in that situation.  Remember that we've done our part and we are relying on the wonderful Spirit of God to open the understanding needed in order to receive salvation through Christ. Let's be what God created us to be: The vessel He pours into for His glory. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


On my way home one night I saw a man and a woman standing by their car, looking concerned and a little helpless, and a wrecker pulling up, obviously there to help them.  What struck me was the message posted on the front of the wrecker.  It read, in huge letters, "HELP'S HERE."  I thought about what a relief it must be for stranded, distressed individuals to see that and it made me think of other things too.  How much or how often do we consider the depth of our need for God's help?

Before we come to Christ there is that space of time when we're out there in the world, seeing things from the world's viewpoint, coping with life based on the little we understand.  And there are times during that period when attempts are made to reach out for God's help, often at a point in life when there is a time of need. And when the answer sought doesn't arrive, the conclusion is sometimes reached that - well, God isn't listening.  Or maybe the answer does come, and there's a time of joy and gratitude, but perhaps all too soon forgotten.  Rather than a step forward into more understanding, there's a backward motion of "I can take it from here.."

Scripture tells us that God does not "slumber nor sleep."  He watches out for us continually and that means even during the times when we may have periods of real feelings of abandonment.  Abandoned? It's not true.  Please remember that during difficult times of life Satan will do all he can to bring the lie to us that God does not care.  It's not true.  Reject that thought.  Jesus offered the assurance that God's love for us is such that He knows the exact amount of hair on our heads.  And so, whatever is happening, and regardless of what it may seem like, remember that God knows about it.  He is with you.  Stay close to Him.  Go to Him, every time.  Trust Him, all the time.  Look up, and remember, "Help's Here."

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I was in the store one day and heard a screaming child and to hear that you might have thought the child was in danger of some kind.  It was very alarming.  I've heard kids scream before, but this had the sound of pure terror.  Suddenly they came into my view:  a young couple with a little boy in a cart and the parents were pulling a packaged toy out of the boy's hands.  The mother of the boy admonished her son for his behavior.  "You can't have it!  You don't know how to behave!"  And off they went, heading for the grocery section with the child howling and screaming and kicking the cart all the way.  I went about my own way and as things quieted down I assumed the child had accepted the idea that the toy was not to be his, but later I met up with them again in the produce section.  There in the cart sat a smiling child holding the packaged toy. 

That makes me wonder if at times God sees us in that way, pitching a fit because something didn't go our way.  Hopefully if anything it's rare, because we certainly want Him to see us as willing to accept that in life things aren't always going to be what we expect them to be.  We may have one idea, but God has another - maybe a different approach for us to take or that we should wait for a later time.  We're not always good at that - waiting.  But we need to if that's the plan. 

When we get impatient and just can't wait for an answer, sort of like the little boy with the toy, we'll wind up pulling for all we're worth in an effort to get the outcome we want.  And maybe the outcome will turn out favorable and maybe it won't, but if there had been a preceding time of prayer and waiting on God's response there would be no question: This is the road to take.  This is the way you want to go.  Or maybe, this is not the way to go, but here is an entirely different way to look at the situation.  And that's the Lord bringing us around to the understanding He wants us to have.  There are some things in life God wants us to let go of, but He always has a reason.  So, let's be ready to let go for a time and wait for God's help.  And love the Lord.  Love Him first and love Him most, and He'll see us through.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I have heard so many times over the years the idea put forth that man created 'religion' as a way to control 'the masses.'  From a Christian standpoint for many reasons I consider that belief unfounded but one in particular I would like to point out is that when you look at scripture clearly we are offered the choice.  God's word basically says  "make your choice."  As long as this earthly life endures it will remain - our choice.  What happens after that, I couldn't say with certainty, but I believe that the decision we make here will forever affect our existence.  It will mean we are either with God or separated from God. 

Jesus pointed out that there are two roads: One road leads to life and the other to destruction.  I don't know how it could be clearer than that.  God's love "stretches forth" to us and He doesn't remove that love from us but we can make unfortunate choices in life which will lead us in another direction. We can choose another way and place ourselves at a distance from a relationship with God.

If there were two roads within your vision in the distance and you were able to perceive a state of peace and beauty to one side and darkness and fear to the other, what would your do?  What would you choose?  The truth about this is that until we come to Christ we do not make that distinction because what we're talking about here is a spiritual state of light or darkness, and we do not see that unless God opens our eyes to it.  God's will is that everyone - that all will come to Him.  We can be assured of that.  But still, yes, it is and always will be, as long as we walk this earth in the flesh - it is our choice.