Friday, November 30, 2007

Blessed by Persecution

We may not always feel it's so, but the Bible says we are blessed when we're being insulted, slurred, and persecuted. Matthew 5:11-12 says, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven ... " The Lord's perspective on persecution is vastly different from ours. He considers it a positive thing if we suffer in His name. We can rejoice and be glad because ...

It proves our faith. The only way we can know the capacity and quality of our faith is by testing it. When we persevere through a trial, we begin to understand that we can remain steadfast and obedient in the midst of the challenge. We also learn the extent of God's strength to support us through these trials.

It purifies our life. Persecution takes our eyes away from meaningless things and places them on the Lord. We are driven to the Lord when we suffer. As we grow closer to Him, He'll bring to our awareness wrong attitudes and actions for which we are to repent. Persecution is a powerful tool for cleansing.

It prepares us for greater service. Suffering breaks our pride and our selfishness and our self reliance, all attitudes that hinder and get in the way of our usefulness for the Lord. Pride falls when we realize we are incapable of living the Christian life on our own, especially when we've been hurt or insulted.

A life of ease and pleasure isn't necessarily a sign of blessing. So, let's not "be surprised at the fiery ordeal ... as though some strange thing were happening" (1Peter 4:12). If persecution strengthens our faith, purifies our hearts, and equips us for greater service, then we should thank the Lord for the way He will use it in our lives.


Just a short little blog this morning as I have to take Pepper to the vet for his rabies vaccination and I wanted to get my blog out of the way before leaving to take care of that. No news of any kind to write about this morning. I got up early to get my hair washed and get my blog written. I was sleeping pretty good when the alarm went off and was sorely tested to force myself to get out of bed. I hope to get our Christmas lights up this afternoon. Tomorrow's the first of December and I figure the decorations can be out for the entire month. Most of the neighbors already have all their lights up. Well, I better go get into my clothes and get ready to take Pepper. I may publish another post tomorrow but see you Monday for sure ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rejoice in Suffering

To rejoice in suffering doesn't make any sense to us until we realize that we are called to a life of praise, and praising in suffering keeps us focused upon the Lord and the good things He can bring out of hardships. Some of us are called to a life of suffering and when we're suffering we are actually living out our Lord's will for our lives. Can we bear this? Of course; God would never call us to do or be that which we can't.

The apostle Paul faced greater abuse and suffering than most of us ever will. He was beaten and left for dead, imprisoned, put on trial, and shipwrecked, yet he looked beyond these times of difficulty to what the Lord was accomplishing through his life. He was able to praise God for two reasons. First, he could praise God because of the great ministry he had among the prison guards and , second, he could praise God for using his imprisonment to conform him into the image of Jesus Christ. I believe that to be one of the great blessings we rarely praise God for. Even when we praise God for the good we can see coming out of our suffering, we fail to praise Him for the suffering itself. And if we attribute God to the good times, what will we do with the bad? Yes, it is that very suffering that conforms us to be like Christ. Yes it hurts, but something good is happening: We are becoming more and more like Christ.

If we believe that the Lord is in control and that He keeps His promises, then we must trust in the principle of Romans 5:3-5. These verses assure us that there is purpose in our hardships, sufferings, and persecutions. Specifically, they develop our endurance, strengthen our character and solidify our hope: "We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us ..." (NCV). Two immediate rewards of suffering are the deepening of our faith and the preparation for greater service to the kingdom of our God. We are able to rejoice because we are maturing believers whom God can and will use for His purposes.

The Lord will bring good from our suffering, just as he did for Paul and the other apostles. We mustn't allow doubt to muddy our faith or we won't be able to rejoice in what God is doing in and through our lives. And if we can't rejoice, we are in danger of giving up before God's good work can be completed. Rejoicing keeps us focused upon the Lord and His purpose so that we may see our trials through to the end and receive our reward.


I'm developing the awful habit of turning off my alarm and going back to sleep. The last thing I remember this morning when the alarm went off was saying I was getting up only to wake up an hour later to find myself still in bed. Hmmm. Yesterday, I intentionally went back to sleep but this morning just happened. I don't like that. I think part of the problem is that it's cold to get out of bed. Who wants to leave the warmth and comfort of our bed, for a cold house? No matter what time I publish this post it will be an hour late. Rats! Oh well, it's just time. I'm sitting here trying to think of something to write and my mind is an absolute blank. So I guess I'll just say goodbye until tomorrow ... Oh, tomorrows blog may be late because I have to take Pepper to get his rabies shot in the morning so I can get his license fee paid before it becomes delinquent and costs me even more. On the other hand I may get up early and get my blog written before I go to get his shot. Until tomorrow ...


Well, I'm coming back and editing in a postscript. I have decided that I will use Titles for my blogs and see how it goes. I sat down and "created" titles for all those I've written but haven't yet put in blog form. There were titles there that didn't take me too long to find. It's just that if I wanted to go back and see what I wrote about a certain subject, I couldn't tell by the blogs what I'd written about everyday and I figured if I had trouble, surely my readers struggled with it too. (Of course, that's assuming anyone would want to go back and check something I said.) I also wanted you to know that I may occasionally post a short blurb that I might find somewhere and I wanted to be able to put out that information without messing up the numbering sequences of my blogs and I couldn't think how to do that unless I just simply went back to excercising my brain and writing titles for everything. So in addition to my blogs you might occasionally find something that I've found interesting and wanted to make available to you. Such as the one I included at the end of my blog (yesterday?) called Tongue-tied. I thought that one was really good because it shows that God is in control of everything and He can do whatever He wants to do with our service, that it may not seem to us we're accomplishing much of anything at all, yet He can take it and create a miracle with it.

Also, I wanted you to know that I use several different Bible translations when I'm writing but general I use the NIV (New International Version) and the NCV (New Century Version.) I will occasionally use others but I will give the references for any other by complete name. However, I'll just use the abbreviations as I show them above. Thought some of you might be wondering. I'm sure I've sent out this information before but I thought it might be good to repeat it. Well, I think that's all I wanted to add to today's blog. Hope this makes blogging make sense!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blog #1020 God's Gift of Grace

Many people believe (or hope, anyway) that they will go to heaven when they die because they did their best to live a good life while they were here on earth. But the simple truth of the matter is that the only people who will spend an eternity with God are the ones who have accepted God's gift of grace and have put their faith in Jesus Christ and on what He did at the cross, whereas those who reject this gift will not. The price for rejecting God's gift is eternal separation from Him.

When we become a believer, we recognize that we are not good enough in ourselves to deserve anything but death from God. Humankind's sinful nature ... which is characterized by rebellion against God ... has alienated us from our Creator. Even if it were possible, by sheer will, to never sin again, we would still be alienated from God because by our natures we are sinners. Just never sinning again (even if that were possible) wouldn't do anything to change our natures and that's where the problem lies. We aren't sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. Please grasp the difference because it is crucially important. Our condemnation and subsequent alienation from God is due to what we are, not to what we do. But the fact is that because we are sinners we will never be able to not sin and if we think we can, we're just fooling ourselves. But luckily for us, at the moment of salvation, Jesus forgives all our sins, declares us no longer guilty and He gives us brand new natures. We may still sin but we are no longer sinners by nature.

Therefore, if we reject the truth that salvation comes only though the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have nowhere else to turn. The only way is through Christ. Our good works ... no matter how good ... aren't good enough to get us into heaven ... a place of sinless perfection ... because our transgressions remain unforgiven. The penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23) and if Christ's atoning sacrifice is rejected, we must pay the price ourselves.

I'm not trying to scare anyone into salvation here; I'm just trying to give out a warning about what the future holds for those of us who reject the Lord. God has set before us all a choice. A choice between eternal life or eternal death: "I am offering you life or death, blessings or curses. Now choose life! Then you and your children may live ... love the Lord your God" (Deut. 30:19-20 NCV).


[I found this and thought I'd share.]


Five o'clock at last; I slipped the dustcover over my typewriter. As I did, Sharon, the secretary who sat at the desk next to mine, lingered around my work area. It was obvious by the way she picked up a pen and put it down again that something was on her mind.

With a smile, I sighed, "Long day wasn't it?"

"How does God speak to you?" Sharon blurted out.

"Through Scripture and prayers," I answered after a brief hesitation. "He ... He ... sometimes ... " My mind went blank.

Before I had a chance to say another word Sharon grabbed her purse and was out the door, barely taking time to toss a, "Good night ... thanks," over her shoulder.

It never failed. Every time Sharon asked me about God or salvation, I was only able to answer her specific question, and then couldn't think of another thing to say.

I'd been trying to lead Sharon to the Lord for several months and even though I'd brought her to church and introduced her to my friends, I felt I was failing her ... and God. And even though I believed God can turn everything to good, I wondered how He could use my silence to His advantage.

One morning several days later, Sharon came running over to me. Her sparkling eyes told me something wonderful had happened.

"I accepted the Lord last night," she said, as she reached over and grabbed my hand. She explained how one of her new friends at church had prayed with her. Smiling, she continued. "Thanks for not preaching to me when I asked questions. Everyone else tried to tell me too much at one time, and I became confused. You simply answered my questions, and told me what I needed to know at the time."

I smiled to myself when Sharon went back to her own desk. God's ways are so mysterious and powerful. He can even use silence to His advantage.

By Beverly Hamilton, Still Moments.


I think I have about decided to go back to trying to give each of my devotions a title rather than a number. It's easier on me, not having to think up a title, but it's harder if I want to go back and reread something. I can never remember what number it was and it's next to impossible to find the one blog you're looking for with them just numbered. Today I put both in my title. Just bear with me as I struggle with the best way to identify my blogs. It just seems that we Can remember titles easier than numbers. If it comes right down to it, I can number those for which I can't think of a title and write titles for those I can. I'll have to see how things go. I'm still learning about blogs.

The brakes on my car have still not made a sound since I prayed about them. What an awesome God! Just goes to show that He cares about anything that effects us and not just spiritual things. And He didn't even get mad at me for being "a little short" with Him when I prayed. Well, it was an honest prayer because I was a little miffed at Him at the time. It's happened in the past but I'd always managed to kind of smooth it over when I prayed and hadn't come off with my honest emotions. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not encouraging you to get mad at God; I'm just trying to tell you that's it's okay to be honest with Him. In fact, I think it's what He desires. It's just hard to let yourself be a little cross with Someone who can zap you into oblivion anytime He wants to. LOL. It's so easy to cop out with "not my will but Yours," and surrender as a defeatist, rather than being honest and saying "I know You will do the best for me, but this sort of irritates me!"

But, you know, faith is either going to work in our lives or it isn't. And if we don't have enough faith to put it all on the line once in awhile, then we're sorely lacking in faith. God isn't going to annihilate us just because we're honestly perplexed and at the end of our rope. With me it was just that the Lord had been teaching me to pray specifically for things in my life and not pray in such general terms as I had the habit of doing. And when I started praying specifically for my car and to then have something else go wrong! Well, it was just too much for me. My prayer was just, "I don't understand! You say You want me to pray for specific things and when I begin to do that, You let another thing go wrong with my car! What am I supposed to do here? What am I supposed to think? Either prayer works or it doesn't work. Which is it?"

I don't know if I'll ever have the nerve to get put out with the Lord again, but I sure hope I do, I hope I'll be able to continue being that honest with my prayers. Because this prayer certainly seems to have been answered in the affirmative. Not that I expect all my prayers to be answered that way. But I hope I will continue to give Him the opportunity to answer my prayers in the future. I mean, He hasn't answered the specific thing I was praying for about the car, yet, but I have confidence He will. Or maybe He's answering that prayer by not letting the front end get any worse on my car. That's an answer too. He kept the shoes of the Israelites from wearing out for 40 years. He can do the same with the front end. But I have confidence now!

'Twas bright sunshine this morning. All the overcast cleared out yesterday afternoon. But the loss of cloud cover let it get colder last night. We got down into the 20s so it was pretty chilly in the house when I got up. Well, I need to get busy so I think I'll let this be it for today. Until tomorrow ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blog # 1019

God created human beings for one primary, all-encompassing reason and that is to be in relationship with Him. At the time of their creation, humanity was in perfect community with God. And then, because of sin, man fell out of that relationship with Him and doomed the human race to total failure. But now, thanks to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we are reconciled with God the Father. It's important for us to understand this issue from creation to alienation, and from alienation to reconciliation through Jesus so we can explain it to others who are on this bumpy road we call life and don't yet recognize the need and/or purpose of salvation.

Anyone who desires a relationship with God must first understand that the gap that exists between a holy God and sinful man is a vast one, gaping open to show us the difference between the two. We often illustrate how good we are by comparing ourselves to others. We do this to make ourselves feel better about ourselves: "I stretched the truth a bit there, but at least I'm not like so-and-so who really lied about the circumstances." But God doesn't judge on the basis of comparisons ... His sole criterion is reconciliation. Are we or are we not reconciled, that is the issue. Anyone rejecting salvation through Christ cannot, under any circumstances, spend eternity with God. Reconciliation through Christ is the only way to span the gulf between us in our sinful state, and Him is His holiness.

The cross of Christ is the only real bridge between alienation and reconciliation for us. Jesus took the sin of the world onto Himself and died our well-deserved death so we wouldn't have to (Rom 6:23). Jesus suffered the punishment that was rightly ours (because of our sin) by giving His perfect life for our sakes. Now anyone who desires a relationship with God can have one. To believe that Jesus paid our debt when He died on the cross is the only requirement for crossing the bridge to freedom from debt, entering into an eternity of communion with our heavenly Father.

Anyone who believes in what Jesus did and places their faith in this fact will know God's joy and mercy instead of His wrath and condemnation. We need to ask ourselves how many of our friends and family members are still living in a state of alienation. We can help them to reconciliation by explaining the bridge of Jesus to them. Since we have already crossed over into an eternal relationship with the Father, it is His desire that we share the story with them, leading them into a personal, eternal relationship with God as well. I have intentionally stressed the fact that this is an eternal relationship from the very beginning. As soon as we say, "I believe" we enter into an eternal, living association with God. And there's nothing that can possibly happen to alter that arrangement.

God asks such a small thing of us: to believe. In fact, it's so simple we miss it and clutter and complicate it to the point that it's barely recognizable to us. As a people we think there should be more to it than just believing. We tend to think we need to follow a bunch of rules and regulations, totally missing the free gift offered to us. We litter the whole endeavor with useless "dos" and "don'ts," "musts" and "must nots." "Do not have blood transfusions." "Do not wear jewelry." "Must use only God's personal name, Jehovah." "Don't eat meat." "No smoking." "No caffeine." "Do not celebrate holidays." "Must worship on Saturdays." The rules and restrictions are limitless. They are requirements that totally miss the point and have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. The Bible brings it all into focus and when the blur clears, only believing is left on the page. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Rom 10:9; Acts 16:31). Period. That's all that's required. Believe that he came and lived amongst us, was crucified and buried, and then was raised to life eternal and you will be saved. Have faith in the simplicity of the greatest gift ever given and you will be saved. Only Satan says that we must "do" something to be saved. So the next time someone comes knocking and tells you there are things you must do, have pity on them and offer them the real Truth. It is God first, last, always.


Another late day. Sorry about that. I didn't set my alarm last night so I slept until after 9:00 and then Michael and I both needed to have routine blood work done after fasting. So we both got dressed right away and went over to the lab and got that out of our hair so we could come home and eat turkey sandwiches again.

We woke up to a heavy overcast and a strong, cold wind. The looks were deceptive. It didn't look that cold out. Good thing I put on my coat before going out the door. I hadn't thought it was that cold and that my sweater would have been enough. But on the side of caution I slipped it over my sweater and was glad I did. One of my scarves would have been nice too. I need to get some of my scarves out so I'll remember to grab one.

We had planned on having turkey burgers for dinner but when we stopped by the store on our way home to get the burger buns, they were out of them; completely out of buns! So, big change of plans, we're going to have another plate of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Yum, yum!!

We also went by the library on the way home this morning and loaded up on books to read again. Michael was down to nothing to read the past few nights. Finally last night I gave him a Bible dictionary to look through and that seemed to have made him sleepy enough to turn out his lamp after a little while. I have gotten out of the habit of reading when I go to bed but I nevertheless brought home a dozen books. We'll see how it goes. One thing about it, if I don't go back to reading before going to sleep, Michael will have a really B-I-G supply of books because his taste and mine are almost identical so he'll be able to read the ones I checked out when he's through with the ones he checked out. I checked out a Janet Evanovich book, got home and started to read it and realized I had already read it. I'll have to put that one on my calendar to remember to take it back before it ends up overdue. The others are only honor charge books so they don't have a due date. I just take them back when I'm finished reading them.

No other news here. The sun is out brightly this afternoon and the wind has died down so it's not too miserable outside at this time. It struck me funny that as I walked up to the hospital door to get my lab work done earlier this morning when the weather was cold, I looked down and saw pansies and violas blooming and I thought to myself how the weather didn't match the flowers. You don't expect to find flowers blooming on such cold and dreary days. It's kind of late in the year too so I have the feeling these were late fall plantings. But the same flowers will look perfectly natural in the sun this afternoon.

Guess I should get busy. I need to read yesterday's and today's devotionals in The Purpose Driven Life to keep up with the daily reading plan. This is definitely one of those books that is going to require annual readings. Seems like every time I've read it, new thoughts and truths come out for me. I have really enjoyed the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign we've been going through at church. I have thoroughly enjoyed the small group and I'm still going to push to keep it in someone's house rather than the church's basement or coffee house. We'll see. I think I may lose on that one. But that's the whole idea for a small group; to get it out of the church and into the house. Anyway, I better go or this blog is going to be as late as yesterday's blog (if it isn't already!). We'll be looking into the gift of grace again tomorrow ...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blog #1018

God is sovereign. Meaning that He's the strongest authority over every thing created, especially Man. He is stronger than sin and its consequences. And He doesn't cause anyone to sin ... to do so would go contrary to His righteous and holy nature. The Lord does allow us to be tempted, though. And since we have been created with a free will, it's up to us to decide whether or not, or even in which way, we will respond to that temptation. Thankfully He keeps complete control of things and even orchestrates the consequences of our initial response. And He does this for His purposes and for the ultimate good in our lives.

Sometimes God allows sin to run its full course. For instance, when the Israelites refused to turn away from their disobedience, God "let them go their stubborn way and follow their own advice" (Ps 81:12). Without God's protection the nation gradually digressed into sin and gave way to corruption and this digression continued until they were overrun by their enemies. The Lord could have protected the nation from all this but instead He permitted these very consequences to drive the Israelites into repentance, which was His plan all along.

On the other hand, God often puts an immediate end to the sin. Such was the case in the Bible with Abimeleck who took Abraham's wife to be his own. Abraham and Sarah had misled him into believing she was Abraham's sister, not his wife, he was unaware of the sin he was about to commit. But God knew and He intervened (Gen 20:1-6).

Of course the best and wisest way would be to fully and immediately obey God so He doesn't have to use either of these tactics. Temptation is inevitable, but sin is not. God's sovereignty over our lives means that every temptation must pass through the Father's hands and through His permissive will first, and then on to us. In this way He ensures that His children are not tempted beyond what they can resist (1Cor 10:13).


Running really late with my blog today. Sorry about that. So I'm just going to publish this post and promise to do better tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blog #1017

God is good and He is in complete control. But that doesn't necessarily mean bad things will not happen in the life of the believer. Is it within the power of God to give us perfect lives, untouched by trouble or harm? Yes, it is, but as difficult as it is for us to understand, that wouldn't be in our best interests. Tough times, trials, pain, and hardships often drive people to seek out God in their lives. And for those of us who are already His children, God uses these difficult times to shape our faith and conform us into the image of His Son. Suffering transforms our faith and matures our walk with Him. We mature in ways that only suffering can make us grow. Paul wrote, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2Cor 4:17 NIV). To be made perfect and pleasing to our heavenly Father is what's in our best interests.

In His role as God, in His omniscience and wisdom, God will often allow disaster and evil to touch our lives so that we can grow from the experience. Growth in compassion, trust, hope, and knowledge is always good. If we could peek behind the curtain of our lives, we'd see God in complete control at all times, guiding us gently toward the ultimate goal He has for us ... perfection in Christ.

Romans 8:28 affirms this. The New Century Version reads: "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan." Occasionally we are privileged to see positive results from trials and sufferings. But at other times, we must wait days, months, even years to fully understand what God was doing in those difficult times for us. And we must face the fact that there are some things we may never understand on this side of eternity. Do we have the faith to trust God completely even during these trials and hardships?

Suffering and evil are inevitable parts of a fallen and fractured world. But we have assurance that God is in control of the universe, including the tiny portion we occupy. When He permits bad things to happen to us, we can be sure that He will continue to supply us with comfort and guidance, even as He uses these unfavorable circumstances to shape us into the people He desires us to be. We must trust that God wants only the best for us and He can turn the worst circumstances unto refiner's tools, smoothing our rough edges and perfecting us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He will not leave our formation to mere chance. He knows where we are lacking and He knows how to turn that need into abundance. We must learn to trust Him during these times, that God can and will produce good out of every circumstance regardless of whether or not we can see and understand the benefits.


Our Thanksgiving dinner turned out perfect yesterday and I hope yours did too. Everything turned out just right. However it was one of those times when, only by the grace of God, everything turns out just as it should. We tried our best to mess everything up, or Michael did anyway. (Poor guy, I teased him that he might be in the "home" next Thanksgiving. LOL). He cooked the bird for an hour and a half with the oven set at 250 degrees instead of 350 so we had to rely totally on the meat thermometer to judge when it was done. And then, after we took the dressing out of the oven I put in the pumpkin pie for dessert. The timer went off in exactly 80 minutes and I started to take the pie out of the oven only to discovered that Michael had mistakenly turned off the oven so I had to guess how long it needed to cook since some cooking had happened as the oven cooled off. But like I said, in spite of ourselves, dinner was perfect. Makes me kinda wish we'd had someone to share it with. But I did enjoy it just being the two of us for a change.

I have no plans for today other than to go out to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription refill I called in on Wednesday. And I'll get the mail while I'm out. We don't need anything from the store so it'll just be a quick trip out and back. I think I'll try to get caught up on some of my reading today. I've got several books started and maybe I can concentrate on finishing them.

Weeks go by so fast anymore. Everywhere we go now it's going to be Christmas. Of course many of the stores already had Christmas decorations out before Thanksgiving. Personally I think it wouldn't hurt the retailers to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up all their decorations and displays. Let's finish being grateful before we slide into greed and avarice! I'm not in the Christmas mood yet even though I've been singing Christmas songs for the past few days or so. (That's brought on, I'm sure, by TV commercials playing Christmas songs!)

We are coming to the close of the 40 Days of Purpose campaign. Seems like we just started. Of course that means a lot coming from me since I was part of the prayer team and we started our work 8 weeks before the start of the campaign. So it will be 15 weeks for me and the time still seemed to fly by.

Well, I have nothing more to write about so I guess I'll go get my chores done. No blogging over the weekend (unless I feel the urge) so I guess that means I'll see you on Monday ...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! And we all have so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for answered prayer (my brakes continue to work without noise). I'm thankful for my sister who makes Christmas happen every year in our household. And I'm thankful for my hubby who's been busy in the kitchen since my alarm went off at 8:30. I woke up at 7:00 and thought about getting up. But thinking's as far as I got that early in the morning. Michael always cooks the stuffing (he's convinced that no one in the entire world makes stuffing as good as his), the bird, and the potatoes. I cook the gravy (and no one makes gravy like mine) [we're sure full of ourselves, aren't we?], and the side veggies. When we cook for just the two of us we concentrate on the things we love and skip everything else. I'm not even sure I'm going to cook a side veggie for us today.

Football is blaring in my ear (yes, I enjoy football but the noise drives me crazy!!!) and I just started my eggs boiling so I'd have them for the gravy (yes I put hard boiled eggs in my gravy along with a little "cooked" dressing [it must be cooked or it won't work right] and lots and lots of garlic)! [I told you no one makes gravy like mine.] But it's out of this world. Guess I may as well go put the giblets on to cook. They have to cook and then cool so I can cut them up for the gravy. Be right back. Okay, got that done [who says I can't do more than one thing at a time???].

Guess you've figured out by now that I'm not going to do a devotional today. My next devotional is on something too good to miss so I don't want to take the chance on people not calling up my blog today, being as how it's Thanksgiving and all. People are apt to be too busy for blogs today.

Tomorrow marks the official start for the Christmas shoppers. I saw Mervyn's and Kohl's are both opening at 4:00 (as in 4:00 A.M.). Will people really get up that early to start their holiday shopping? Why bother to even go to bed? If I were crazy enough to go shopping at 4:00 in the morning, I'd be crazy enough to stay up all night! Of course I can't stay up all night the way I did when I was younger, but we won't get into that.

Kathleen (my Heart at church) invited us over for Thanksgiving but by that time Michael and I had already bought our turkey and were in the process of slowly thawing it out and we were looking forward to a nice dinner with just the two of us. I know Kathleen is a great cook!!! and I probably missed the opportunity of a lifetime but we already had plans by time she asked. It's a shame. I've heard so much about her cooking! And it was such a generous offer. I really hated to say no, but I know Michael would probably have been upset if I'd have accepted her offer. Was that correct English? I think it was probably correct just not the best use of the English language but I'm going to let it ride since I'm being casual today.

I am so thankful for my family. I love them all so much and I want them all to have long, happy lives and be successful at everything they set out to do. But more than anything else, I want them to have strong, healthy, and fulfilling relationships with God. I know He fills that void in my life that only He can fill and I'm so happy about that. Yes, I have lots of things to be thankful for but today I'm mostly thankful for my relationship with the Lord and my own family. I became a Christian 19 years ago and in one sense it feels like it's only been 19 months while at the same time it feels like I've always been a Christian. Like there was no life before the Lord. I guess in a sense, there wasn't life before God. There isn't life without God. My heart breaks that Michael has let his relationship grow cold and stagnant over the last several years. He's missing out on so many blessings and opportunities. Every minute away from the Lord is a moment lost. Wasted. Totally wasted. I look back on my life and wish I hadn't wasted so many years before coming to the Lord. All those years as a JW. Wasted. All those years of self-righteousness and struggle only to find out they were wasted. No, I take that back. They weren't wasted. They made the perfect backdrop for the truth that sets us free. Our salvation is a gift from God and no matter what we accomplish in this life, we never deserve our salvation. No amount of rule-keeping and doctrine can do what a submissive heart filled with thankfulness will accomplish with God. Salvation was never meant to be earned or bought with good works. From before time began, God had it all planned as a free gift to make us like His Son. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, God blesses us with every spiritual blessing that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Yes, He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:3-4). What a great God we have. So loving. So caring. So holy!! Who can know the mind of God but the Spirit of God? This very same Spirit resides in each one of us and it is His joy to teach us all we need to know to be blessed forever. This very same Spirit guides and directs us in everything we do. This is the very same Spirit, by the way, that brought Jesus back from the dead. He lives in you! He lives in me! What an awesome God!!!

Have the best Thanksgiving you've ever had ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blog # 1016

In the account of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11, many people feel her sin wasn't given its full weight, that she got off too lightly. The idea that Jesus could simply say a few words and let this woman go on her way, forgiven, seemed unfathomable to many but especially among those of the "righteous" standing around her. This accusation comes to light due to our insistence on doing something to warrant forgiveness. Let her spend a few months as an outcast and see if she doesn't straighten out her act and maybe then we will forgive her! Let her make restitution and then she will deserve forgiveness maybe! But what we fail to realize is that forgiveness was never meant to be earned. It seemed perfectly natural and fair to Jesus so what are we missing here?

Wouldn't it be fascinating to be able to see the look on their faces, especially hers as she's scanning the faces of all those standing accusingly around her waiting for Jesus to condemn her. Looking at the faces in the crowd seeing murder and judgment in their eyes and hearing it in their jeers, what do you think she saw when her eyes rested on Jesus' eyes? What do you suppose happened inside her spirit when she saw Him looking at her with love and compassion on His face?

It doesn't take much to imagine Jesus looking directly into this poor woman's heart, His gaze breaking the bonds of sin in her life. Do you suppose He looked at her from the elevated angle of the cross in His near future? It doesn't take much to imagine Jesus seeing her genuine repentance and sorrow. Or the joyful surprise that replaced her fear and anguish, even in the midst of her harrowing ordeal that day. Hearing the prayer of her heart, what look do you suppose was on His face when He released her, forgiven and admonished to sin no more? And what do you suppose her heart cherished the most?

When Jesus came He completely and forever changed the way we approach our heavenly God. And this scene from John's gospel shows how the "righteous" people's eyes were on retribution and punishment while the sinner's eyes were on the source of her forgiveness. No, Jesus didn't let her off too easy. He gave her the same second chance that He's given you and me.


Another day, another blog. I'm a little late in posting because I decided to make Michael a coffee cake this morning. I made the same recipe for my small group on Tuesday and Michael got just a taste of it that I brought back for him. He really liked it so I thought I'd put it together again for him. It's not the easiest coffee cake I've ever made, that's for sure, but it's really, really good. It all fell apart when I tried to get it out of the angel food cake pan Tuesday morning and so I sprayed it with cooking spray this time and I hope it will come out in one piece.

I have no plans for the day. I have my exercise class tonight at 6:00 and I'd just not go except that I was the only one who showed up last week and I have the feeling that I might be again tonight. I love the class (but, truthfully, I hate the actual getting up and going part) but it just hasn't taken off here at my church. I hate to see her drive all this way to teach the class and then not have anyone come. I know she can't help but take it personally and she shouldn't. It's just that people stay so busy these days. I know this is an excellent opportunity to de-stress once a week but people just don't see it that way. I mean, I'm like everyone else. I'd love to stay home on Wednesday nights but I go because it's something I'm supposed to be doing for myself and for Jenn, but my church just isn't interested in it.

Evelyn and I are talking about trying to keep the small group going after the 40 Days Campaign is over. That would be so neat if we can manage to keep everyone interested in meeting. She and I could trade off on the refreshments or we could rotate it through the group. That way Evelyn wouldn't have to do it every week. I suggested we study Hebrews or Philippians. Hebrews is a more difficult class to teach and it's much longer so I'm leaning toward one of the little letters: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, or Colossians. I think I would enjoy teaching one of them and it doesn't matter which one because they are all good. Evelyn said she's going to have Michael and I over for dinner along with Rita and Daryl and see if we can't get Michael interested in coming too. That would be so neat if we could get him interested. I lift that up to prayer right now. That God would just reach out and touch his heart. We don't do anything else so it's not like he'll be too busy. Please, Lord. Please. Please. Please. Please.

I have to tell you about my answered prayer. When Michael and I were on our way home from Jackson Sunday night my brakes started making this horrible grinding sound when Michael would step on them. Oh, great! I thought. Another problem. (It's really ironic because my sister had given me our Christmas money earlier in the evening so I figured I could probably have a brake job done if I really had to, but then I wouldn't have any money left to buy gifts for everyone.) I kept my fingers crossed that it was just a glitch in the works or something and that when I drove over to the small group meeting the next morning maybe it wouldn't make that horrible racket. Well, I backed out of the driveway and pressed on the brakes and sure enough there was that horrible sound. As I went around the block over to Gold Strike it ground every time I pressed on the brake peddle. And I don't know what happened but I really let God have it. He has been trying to teach me to pray specifically for things and not pray so much in generalities the way I tend to do, so I had been praying about the front end on my car needing work to stop the wobble. That somehow God would provide the means to get that taken care of and I'd been praying about it for several weeks. I told Him, here you ask me to pray specifically and what happens??? You give me another problem to worry about!! I did not mince my words and I've never spoken so boldly in prayer. I mean, it came from my heart and I just asked Him what He wanted from me. What had I not surrendered to Him? Why was this happening just when I started praying for my car? What did he want me to do? And in the back of my mind I was thinking about the fact that the Israelites' clothes had not worn out during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and if God could do that for them, then He could do a miracle for us. Well I have to tell you, my brakes haven't made noise since I prayed that prayer! I don't know, maybe I need to get in a snit more often with God. LOL! I've even tried to make it make that noise but it has been just like normal ever since that prayer. So I'm considering it an answered prayer. I just had to share that miracle with my readers. And even if no one reads today's blog, I've still praised God to the angels. Hallelujah!!!

Well, it's almost noon and I'm still in my pjs so I better get around and get some things done. I still have my chores to do and then I want to read today's devotional in The Purpose Driven Life. I don't want to get behind again. I had gotten 3 days behind and I sat and read those three chapters yesterday and promised myself I wouldn't let myself get behind again. So until tomorrow ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog #1015

In my church, applications for church membership routinely come before the deacon board. Recently an application came in from a man with a long history of broken trust and questionable activity. He had been known for coming to church when something was in it for him. We know he comes with a drinking problem and that he had used drugs in the past. He had applied for benevolence numerous times only to disappoint everyone by falling back into a sinful and nonproductive lifestyle. Rarely employed and rarely employable, he had recently cleaned up his life and was wanting to join our membership. We were faced with a dilemma. Do we discard all the baggage he comes with and bring such a person immediately into our household? Or do we deny his request in an effort to protect this body of believers?

We are all but sinners saved by grace and as far as forgiving him for his past conduct and attitudes we have no choice in the matter but to immediately and completely forgive him. But forgiveness isn't the issue here. The issue here is trust and they're worlds apart.

Rick Warren touched on this when he wrote the following in The Purpose Driven Life: "Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you. They must prove they have changed over time."

So where does that leave us with this particular man's application for membership? He will be interviewed and questioned about his sincerity but more than anything he will be forgiven and loved and all our reservations will be revealed to him so that he will know mercy but it will be explained that the rebuilding of trust will take time. We will let him know that we want nothing so much as to bring him into our household, and this is what we are eagerly anticipating, but there has to occur a track record, a period of time to regain our trust in him. But we must be ever mindful of the fact that he used and hurt us in the past, and we mustn't let him continue to use and hurt us. For us to handle the situation in any other way would be to treat lightly our responsibility of shepherding the Lord's household in a wise and healthy manner and to protect our reputation in the community because our reputation reflects on our heavenly Father. So while we must be cautious, we must at the same time give him immediate and complete forgiveness. This can and will be done in a loving manner and he will be assured that we will eagerly celebrate his adoption into God's family but we will do so fully explaining our reservations and informing him just what it means to represent the eternal Father in this sick, ungodly culture we find ourselves in. And it will be explained how just stating our reservations is an act of love. We want him to fully understand our position. But that we will deal with the entire issue when all cards are on the table, once we know he understands that we are not blind to the fact that he has used us in the past and we will not be blind to the same behavior in the future. And we know we must shoulder the weight of this responsibility while at the same time, forgiving him completely and immediately. We feel we have no other choice in the matter. And we will continue to pray for him personally and regularly, relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to guide our actions.


Sorry about my blog yesterday. I didn't have the time to write a blog and yesterday would have been Rich's 44th birthday, so I wasn't much interested in writing a blog anyway. His birthday doesn't hurt as much as it used to but it's still painful.

We had an interesting anniversary Sunday. Our granddaughter had arranged this incredible evening for us, complete with balloons and V.I.P. treatment at the restaurant where she works. The atmosphere was perfect and the waiter was gracious. The only thing was that the kitchen couldn't get it's act together and we waited for 2 hours for our dinner. We had tickets to see the Jewel concert at 6:00 and had no choice but to leave without dinner. But we did get to experience the appetizer, coconut tempura prawns. De-lic-ious!!! Our granddaughter was so upset that the evening didn't turn out the way she had planned. We told her everything was fine and we didn't mind how things worked out. (Although I must admit my mouth still waters at the thought of the fillet Mignon that didn't happen!) I never did understand what went wrong in the kitchen, and I guess I don't need to know. We weren't the only ones who didn't get their dinner so it's not like they singled us out. I do think everyone else left angry. I just felt bad for my granddaughter and for our waitress. She got a good tip from us because what happened was just as much out of her control as it was out of ours. The concert was great and went off without a hitch. The seating wasn't the best but other than that it all turned out to be a great evening. It was a 35th anniversary to remember, thanks to my wonderful granddaughter!

Our weather has been unseasonably warm the past week or so although it was a little foggy when I got up. It lifted almost immediately though. Seems like it's always been colder than this around Thanksgiving, but I could be wrong. The leaves are completely off our tree and so I should get down in the yard and do the final raking but I won't get to it today. Too many things to do today. I need to make a trip to the grocery store to get the remainder of our Turkeyday supplies and I'll go ahead and swing by the post office as long as I'm out. I just have lots of housework that needs to be done. I've slacked off for about as long as possible. Once upon a time I enjoyed housework. I liked the challenge of seeing how clean I could keep it. But that's certainly not me now. I hate doing housework because it doesn't stay done long enough to even make it worth my while except for the animal hair. That's awful here with a cat-filled house and a big, overgrown chihuahua (if that's spelled right) lying around on the furniture.

Well, I need to go and get busy. Michael should be waking up shortly and I'll be able to get the bed made right away. I always feel better when I have my bed made. Rarely does anyone get to see that the bed's made, but I know and I guess that's what's important. It's kind of like my toenails. Now that sandal weather has expired I still keep them polished even though I keep them shoved inside a shoe. No one sees them; but I know they're polished just the same. Okay I'm going to let this be it and get started on my house. I still have to proofread this blog but I'm not going to take a lot of time. Usually I proofread it several times but I'm going to just go after the big typos and leave the rest for you to figure out. I think you'll know what I mean. Take care and I'll see you tomorrow ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

No Blog Today

Sorry, I didn't have time to blog today. See ya tomorrow ...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blog #1014

Christ's crucifixion is the most devastating and dreadful event described in the Bible. God's Son was brutalized, beaten, mocked, spit on, nailed to a cross, speared in the side, and left for dead. Yet as unfathomable as this is for us to even try to grasp the full implication, it was part of a Master Plan, written, composed, and orchestrated by an all-wise, all-loving Creator even before He created humankind (Eph 1:4-5; 11). Can we possibly grasp the unmitigated love this God demonstrated even before He created the very ones who would end up needing His intervention (Col 1:22)? What an incredible God!

One aspect of this story that we find hard to believe, perhaps, is God's willingness to work His plan through imperfect, even ungodly people. But God used the hypocritical Pharisees and the corrupt Roman government to play key roles in His master plan of the redemption of His earthly children.

But while ungodly people may have been used as tools in His plan, God has always remained in complete control at all times. Peter, in his sermon at Pentecost, said Jesus was "handed over ... by God's set purpose and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23). Long before Jesus set foot on earth, the Father knew His Son would give up His life for the salvation of humankind. Just let that statement play through your mind for a few minutes. What as awesome God!

God knowingly used our jealousy, pride, fear, and evil to bring about the death of His own Son to make eternal life possible for us all. Acts 4:27-28 says that while Herod, Pilate, and the people of Israel came together to take action against Jesus, they did "what [God's] power and will had decided beforehand should happen."

Often life can appear random, but we need to remember that even when the world seems out of control, God is completely in control. Not a single event ... not even the death of His own Son ... is outside of His omnipotent domain. If the Lord can work through unbelievers, and He can and does, what incredible works can He accomplish through us who do believe?


I try to make all my blogs relatively close in length but it's awfully hard to write out your ideas while maintaining a limited space so some of my blogs are bound to be shorter than others. This one seems extra short today and if it is I apologize. A lot of times I do some editing when I actually type the blog and that can change the length. Shorter or longer. Just bear with me. I do the best I can.

We have high thin clouds coming over us and blocking out the sunshine. I noticed that it was hazy when I work up this morning too. Hogback was just a gray hump on the other side of town. I guess we're supposed to have a chance for rain by Monday. But it's just a slim chance. It seems like this has been a dry month but I checked back over the previous two years and we're not any drier this year than we have been in the past. We tend to get most of our rain in Feb, March, and April.

My oldest granddaughter brought us our tickets to the Jewel concert yesterday. I don't know what I'm going to do with her. I thought she was going to get me free tickets but come to find out she bought the tickets as our anniversary present at $59 EACH!!! I could strangle her for spending that kind of money on us. And on top of that, she's got us booked for dinner before the concert. And I know that runs close to $100 at the restaurant where she works. Hopefully Ken can comp them but she's still going to end up paying out even more. She can't afford to spend her hard-earned money on us like that! But she remembered that last year I mentioned that since this will be our 35th wedding anniversary I hoped we could do something special. And she got it into her head to make that wish come true. But that's just so much money to spend. I would have been thrilled to go to Denny's and skip the concert. But she was so excited about doing this for us that there was no way I could tell her no. Plus she'd already bought the tickets. When she first called and asked about the concert, I thought she said she was going to get us free tickets. That's just too much money and I feel so guilty but I can't break her heart by saying no and you can't return the tickets anyway. She is so sweet.

I have to do our laundry today and make a trip out to the bank. I guess I'll do a little housework too while I'm at it. It's time to scour the baths and vacuum again. It just never ends. So I guess I'll cut this short today and get started on things around the house. This is Friday so I've got the weekend off with no blogs. Ive been spending a lot of time this week writing devotionals in advance. I've written blogs up into the 30s so I won't run out for awhile. It is so hard to sit here and type with Mario in my lap, rubbing his head on my hands. He really likes to stay close when I'm working. Oh and eating too. I can't sit at the table and eat without him lying down on the table and resting his head on my hand. What a spoiled pest!!! Well I've got things to do so I guess I'll get busy. Until Monday ...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blog #1013

Most of us evaluate ourselves on the basis of our feelings, rather than on what God has to say. The problem with that though, is that our feelings change. From one moment to the next our feelings are subject to all the different circumstances in our lives and we can change our feelings in a heartbeat. We never know what's going to suddenly come up and test our faith.

Maybe today is just "one of those days." Ever have one of those days when the car's battery is dead, the kids missed the school bus, you're late for work and you aren't even dressed yet; the boss is expecting you early, the landlord's on the phone, and you know you meant to send that check a week ago? Days when absolutely nothing goes right? It can be difficult, during times like these, to think of ourselves with "sober judgment" (Rom 12:3). But we must always be mindful of the undeniable fact that Satan would like nothing more than to get our minds as far away from the Lord, as quickly as possible. And he will do everything in his power to keep us there. He will use our circumstances to keep our focus off the Lord Jesus and on our problems. He loves to get us to "say a few words" rather than to stay in the word.

Scripture calls believers a "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation," it tells us that we are "belonging to God," and that one of our purposes is to "declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness and into his wonderful light" (1Peter 2:9). Yet without His help it is often impossible to escape the "darkness" of our circumstances. As believers, we are empowered by God's Holy Spirit to overcome disheartening and aggravating situations and circumstances and to resist Satan's manipulative tactics. Satan is truly our enemy in every respect. He wants nothing so much as to see us fall and watch us fail.

When we find our circumstances and situations unbearable we must remember that we've been bought; the Lord Jesus Christ purchased us at a price (1Cor 6:20). Then we can wake up each morning in the full knowledge that we are valuable to our heavenly Father. We must trust in God's Word and not our feelings, and we can allow the Holy Spirit to change our self-perceptions if necessary. He will show us who we truly are ... God's very own children.


I was up this morning an hour before my alarm was set to go off. Pepper barked and woke me up and I thought it was about time for my alarm to sound so I just turned it off and got up. About 15 minutes later I realized how early I'd gotten up. Oh well, it's given me the chance to type my blog so it won't be late because I have to go get my hair cut this morning. This is pretty neat getting it done this early.

Another beautiful day here, just like yesterday. It actually got up into the low 80s yesterday afternoon. A little high for this time of year. I think my tree in the back yard has finished dropping its leaves so just one more raking and it should be done for the year. They're not deep out there as it is but it just looks messy. It will look a lot better raked one final time and then I won't have to worry about it for another year. I love it when the air is crystal clear and Hogback mountain is so defined and deep green. By afternoon the haze will set in and it will just appear as a large gray hump off in the distance, like a beached whale. The haze is probably just fog up from the valley. By mid or late afternoon the fog has lifted enough in the valley to interfere with our view up here.

I went to PraiseMoves last night but I was the only one who showed up so Jenn and I just sat around and visited for about 15 mins and then we packed up and headed home. It was okay with me because I wasn't much in the mood anyway. But since I can't pay her for the class, I just couldn't insist she stay just for me, so I insisted we just home. But we had the chance to have a nice visit and we learned a little about each other. He husband has kind of lost his interest in going to church, just like Michael. But Michael said he'd go with me as soon as football is over and I'm going to do my best to make him keep the promise. Without nagging, of course. You can't nag someone into the kingdom of God even though we sometimes try, or at least want to.

Mario is up here being his usual obnoxious self. Climbing all over me and my computer. What a pest he is! But he's lovable in spite of himself. It's just a good thing for him I love his no-good hide!! Pretty is up on my desk too. Let's see one computer and monitor, a lamp, various office tools, three framed photographs, a printer and two cats. Oh yeah, there's lots of room up here for me to work!

Evelyn asked me to give my testimony on Monday at our next small group. I said I would but now I'm getting cold feet. That was 20 years ago. The testimony I gave to her all those long years ago is totally forgotten. She keeps talking about how good it was and all I can do is give her a rather blank stare. Well, guess all I can do is give it the way I remember it now. It may end up being different than what I gave back then but it'll have to suffice because that's the best I will be able to do. I wrote out my testimony once when Pastor Rick wanted me to give it at the Chapel up in Arnold but I've long since lost it. [Mario has just slithered into my lap which doesn't do much for my ability to type!]

I guess I should finish this up and get around and get ready to go get my hair cut. I don't have any news to write about anyway. Boring day after boring day I seem to have nothing to relate when it comes to write about what's going on in my life. I have errands to run today when I go out. I have an Rx at the pharmacy to pick up, we need bread from the store, I need to put gas in the car, and I'll go by the Post Office while I'm out too and that pretty well will do it for the day. I've been thinking about Esther and Roy a lot lately. Guess it's because we see a lot of each other. They're in the same small group with me, we see each other on Sunday mornings and we all go to the celebration service on Sunday night. I just think they're a very sweet couple and they're fun to talk to. I ask God to just bless them today at whatever they have to do. May they stay in the word and continue to enjoy each other's company the way I do.

Evelyn and Jordan are under the hammer to get some old buildings demolished on some property they own. It's his grandparents' homestead somewhere and they've been given a deadline to get it down and it sounds like it's an impossible deadline and the demolition will end up costing them a lot of money so I'm just hoping that everything will fall into place and they'll find the right demolition people at the right cost to get it done quickly. Ray hasn't made it to the last two small group meetings and I'm hoping he's okay. He just lost his mother to cancer about a month or so ago and shared with us that he kind of felt like he killed her because she died right after he had given her an injection of morphine. Isn't it horrible the way we torture ourselves? So I just pray for healing for him. is still writing about their vacation they took last month. What a great time they had!!! If you want to feel like you've taken a vacation too, just visit her site and read all her blogs. They had a great time!

Well I'm out of things to write about so I guess I'll spell check this and get it posted. Tomorrow's Friday already. Where did the week go??? Until tomorrow ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blog #1012

If you want to know someone's value system all you have to do is look at how he or she spends their time. A person can say he's a committed follower of Jesus Christ but if he spends most of his time parked on the couch in front of the television, he can't be all that committed to Christ. If he were truly committed he would be using at least some of his time in a better way.

The Lord wants us to lead productive lives and especially so for His kingdom. We may tell the Lord we have time for Him but does our time management skills make us out to be liars? In order for our time to be best spent we need to align and focus our thoughts and hearts on God. And there's good news ... no matter where we stand on this issue, we can take steps to ensure that we use our time wisely and effectively for the Lord.

We must realize that without Christ we are incapable of anything because at John 15:5 Jesus says: "I am the vine; you are the branches ... apart from me you can do nothing." People can exist without Christ, they just can't really live without Him in their lives. We need to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness and then rest on His promises that the death of Jesus Christ completely paid the penalty we owed.

We must discover God's will for our lives and walk obediently in His guidance every day. We would do well to listen to the apostle Paul's advice at Ephesians 5:15-17, "Be very careful, then, how you live ... not as unwise but as wise ... understand what the Lord's will is." We must ask ourselves, What's my purpose? What am I living for? One of our purposes is to glorify God. Rick Warren says in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, "We are made for God's glory. What is the glory of God? It is who God is. It is the essence of His nature, the weight of His importance, the radiance of His splendor, the demonstration of His power, and the atmosphere of His presence. God's glory is the expression of His goodness and all His other intrinsic, eternal qualities, everything created by God reflects His glory in some way." We must ask the Lord to show us the ways He desires us to glorify Him. Everything we do either glorifies God or defames him. Our job is to discover in what way God wants us to glorify Him and then to take the necessary steps to carry out His desires.

We can also take pen and paper and actually write out a personal mission statement for our lives. It doesn't matter how old we are or how long we've been a believer, we can sit down and write out our purpose. We can prayerfully ask God to direct us as we write out our goals for the rest of our time here on planet earth. Life is not about how long we live; it's about how well we live our lives. It's never too late to make changes in our lives. We can break old habits and establish new ones. We can put our trust in God and let Him take care of our time. As long as we have our hearts set on glorifying God, and are sensitive to His leadings, He will direct our steps rightly.


Another beautiful day here in the foothills of the Sierra mountains. The sun is shining brightly and the air is clear. Hogback mountain is bright green this morning rather than the dull gray it is some times. I love this time of year. All the beautiful Fall colors everywhere we look and our view that looks across the little valley, across town, is filled with bright splashes of reds, oranges, and bright yellows. It's getting later in the season, though, as the colors are not as predominant as they have been. But they are still beautiful; no doubt about it. I love living in the foothills and thank God every day for guiding me here.

No big plans for the day. I have my PraiseMoves exercise class tonight at 6:00 but other than that I don't have any plans. I don't even plan on going out to the Post Office since I went yesterday. We don't get enough mail these days to warrant a daily trip. It just doesn't make the best use of my gasoline to drive down every day. And with the cost of gas these days we have to be careful. I can remember we used to fill our car with gas a couple times a month. Then we started buying $20 worth of gas at a time. Now we are down to only $10 at a time. Pretty soon we're just not going to be able to buy gas at all. We get so little for what we pay so much for. It's discouraging. But the Lord knows our needs and He hasn't let us down yet. He is faithful. I wish I could work and bring in some extra cash but we have been called to a life of poverty and we relish in the fact that God directs our steps. It doesn't mean it isn't difficult, it just means we must rest in what the Lord does for us in our lives. He has always been faithful and we just have to trust Him each and every day.

There's a spider on the ceiling right over my head and I sure hope he doesn't lose his grip and fall because if he does he's going to drop right down my collar. Yikes! I wouldn't like that at all. Well I just checked and he's past my head now so maybe I'm in the clear. I have no idea where he's headed, where he plans to go up there. Do you ever wonder if spiders think? I do.

Looks like Moody got herself another bird yesterday. There are feathers everywhere in the garage. Poor bird. I wish Moody weren't such a good catcher. I feel bad for the birds. I mean, I feed Moody everyday. She doesn't need to catch birds to survive, she is well taken care of. Guess I should go open the garage door a crack and let the cats out. I always keep Moody and Mama inside at night. There are too many things that go bump in the night to leave them outside all night. Of course lately they've had a house guest, or would that be a garage guest? Little Mario has been hanging out in the garage. He's taken over Mama's winter bed. Guess I'll have to make Mama a new bed for this winter. Of course Little Mario's not so little anymore. He's really filling out with what food he's been mooching from us. He was so skinny and scruffy looking when he first appeared around the neighborhood. Oh, and he let me pet him for the first time night before last when I put out his food. I petted him last night too. Not a lot, he's still too leery. I don't want to give him a reason to act out and scratch me. Or whip his head around and bite me. He doesn't hiss at me much anymore so he's shaping up. It's just going to take time to tame him. He was really wild. Speaking of wild; I haven't seen our turkeys for some time now. I don't know if we've just missed seeing them or if they've moved on to another area. They are a lot of fun to watch. The biggest, most senior birds being the lookouts fore and aft. It's fun to watch them communicate with each other.

Well, I need to get my chores done. Michael slept in late again this morning so I couldn't make up the bed before I started on my blog and I haven't bothered to dress myself yet. It's been one of those long, slow mornings. But I do need to close off for today and get things done before it gets any later. Here, I've been getting up early every morning and I've, for the most part, just blown the time away. I need to get up, do my blog, and then read all my emails and the headlines for the day. Maybe, perish the thought, I need to set my alarm to go off earlier. Nah, 8:30's early enough. If I'd just get busy when I get up instead of sitting on the couch for an hour or so before doing anything. I've set my alarm every night this week but the Lord has awakened me about 15 minutes or so earlier than my alarm so I don't have that rude awakening when the bed shaker goes off. He's so good that way. I've been setting my alarm for 8:00 or 8:30 now for close to a month and I would say that the Lord wakes me up before it goes off at least 6 times a week and I am so grateful because I really don't like waking up to the shaker. It's just such a rude way to wake up. Anyway, I better get busy with things around the house. I still have to proofread and edit my blog so I need to stop writing here for today. Until tomorrow ... Oh, tomorrow's blog might be a little late as I have a haircut scheduled in the morning. I had thought about postponing it for a week but that would make it Thanksgiving Day and I'm afraid two weeks would be too long. My hair is so hard to work with. It's got to be the perfect length or it drives me absolutely crazy. Better to be a little too short than a little too long. Anyway ... until tomorrow ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blog #1011

I would venture to say that just about everyone on the planet realizes that time is a precious, though often misunderstood, element to most people. We vacillate back and forth between having time on our hands and being completely out of time. Time is essential for every human endeavor whether it's for working at our jobs, learning new skills, or establishing relationships. Time is the one true thing that is priceless here on earth. Generally, no amount of money can equal the value of our time. Yet Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that "there is a time for everything."

Time can't be stored up or given in advance. Time can't be reused or recycled. You can't earn time or give it away. You can't postpone or reserve time. Once time comes and passes that time will never be again. You can't borrow time, extend time, or shorten time. We can't add a single minute to our lives here on earth, only God has control of time (2Kings 20:6). It's an absolutely essential element in our lives over which we have no control at all, except to spend it wisely.

We need to ask ourselves periodically exactly what is it that we are doing with our time. The apostle Paul urges us to make good use of every opportunity we have (Col 4:5).

Time is a priceless gift that God wants us to use properly and prudently, treating it as the valuable gift it is. Unfortunately, believers too often spend time on projects and passions that, from the perspective of eternity, have absolutely no lasting value at all. Most of our endeavors are a waste of time. Jesus left us with a great example of how to use time wisely and efficiently. Jesus was never hurried and He was never late. At the beginning and end of each day, He found a quiet place away from the crowds and used his precious time to talk with His heavenly Father. He recognized the value of prayer and He also recognized that it was the greatest time saver in the world. How so, we might ask?

God knows our schedule even before it happens (Ps 139:16) and through prayer, He gives us wisdom and guidance concerning which things are of greatest value ... where our time is best spend. When we rely on our own efforts we actually waste time. If we submit our schedules and ourselves through prayer to God, He will make sure we spend the most time on the items of most importance to Him. The apostle Paul equates our own efforts to wood, hay, and straw; all elements that can be consumed by fire (1Cor 3:12) and have no real value. We would do well to take time each day to lift up our schedules in prayer and ask God to point out any wasted efforts in our lives. If we do this, He will help us make the best use of our time on the best things in life.

We need to take a little time every morning and commit our day to the Lord, offering our bodies and minds to Him as living sacrifices. Then we need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit who will reveal the important things to us. We will find that some things that we thought were of utmost importance, were of very little consequence to the Spirit. And conversely, we will find that some things we had thought to be of little concern are really very important to the Lord. It does no good to offer our day to the Lord if we don't pay attention to His leadings. We can't pray, "Thy will be done" and then grab hold of the steering wheel and try to direct our own course for the day. It takes effort to spend our time in the wisest way possible but if we allow the Spirit room in our lives, He will guide us to the best use of it.

We have many time-saving devices in our lives. But do we make good use of them while making poor use of our time? Do we save time only to waste time? Let's offer up our lives and make the best possible use for our time. Let's keep a project on the back burners so that when we do save a little time doing something, we will have something else to spend our saved time on. Personally I find that I waste an awful lot of my time. I know this is an area where I have not relinquished total control to the Lord and I need to work on it. I need to submit my entire day to God and then follow His leadings on the best use of my time. How about you? Do we have something in common here? Let's keep a close eye on our time and see exactly when and where we are leading the course, and when and where we've given the steering wheel to our Lord. We just might surprise ourselves when we actually take a closer look. Part of our Christian walk is to give total control of our entire lives to God. We are called to a life of service and prayer. We need to examine where and how we are serving.

God wants us. All of us. And He wants our time too. God wants nothing so much as our time. Time spent in love and service to Him. We are placed on this earth to live lives devoted to our God. God loves us and desires we spend as much time as possible with Him. He's so much more than our feeble attempts to be involved in our children's lives and if we get pleasure from being involved in the lives of our children, think of how much more so God does with us. He is the perfect exemplar for how we should live our lives. God never wastes time and neither should we. Now that I've said that, let's submit our day to God and see where he directs us to spend our time.


No special items on my agenda today. Just the usual stuff I do every day. Had lots of emails from friends and family when I cranked up the old computer this morning. One was a trip down memory lane. Back to when we were all kids and our parents owned and operated a grocery store about 15 - 20 miles south of Fresno.

Michael and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary on the 18th, which is next Sunday. My oldest granddaughter has seen to it that we will have a great time. She got us tickets to the Jewel concert and has a table reserved in the restaurant where she works for our dinner. What an angel she is!! I just can't believe it's been 35 years! It doesn't seem like it could possibly be 35 years and yet at the same time, it seems like we have always been together, that there was no life before Michael. Funny how our minds work (or don't!).

I guess we'll just have hot dogs for dinner tonight. We need to use up the buns before they go bad and we finished up our leftover spaghetti last night. Money was really tight for us this month so we're doing our best to conserve. (That's a nice way of saying we're eating poor this month. LOL)

Well, I don't have anything else to write about and I still need to get things done. I got up early but I didn't spend my morning wisely (meaning: I didn't get to my blog until late). I will have to reread my devotional and take it to heart. It's always easier said than done. Know what I mean? Do as I say and not as I do? Hopefully I won't have too many typos to try to catch before publishing my blog. I don't usually make that many spelling errors. My problem centers around typing the wrong word and a spell checker can't help you there if you've spelled it correctly. For instance, I'm really good at typing "out" when I meant to type "our," you know, that kind of stuff. It's frustrating because when I go back and reread what I've written my eye just seems to slide right over those kind of errors. A person should never try to do their own proofreading for that very reason. It's best to have someone else proof it.

It's a beautiful day here. The sun is out brightly and the skies are clear. It was a little nippy when I got up but it's going to be a really nice day. I should probably get in and do some laundry today (I was going to write "this morning" and then realized that "morning" is almost gone. I can't believe how much time I can waste away. (Yes, I know: read my own blog!!!) It's a shame to get up early and then just piddle the morning away. I better get busy or I won't get anything done today except this blog. I seriously need to take my blog to heart. But it's one thing to write it and quite another thing to do it. But I will try and see if I can't do things better and I'll keep you posted. Maybe I should tithe my time. Speaking of which, did you realize you can tithe just about anything. You can tithe your time, your entertainment, just about anything. I have a cousin that just recently ended a Star Bucks tithe! I think she kept it for 6 weeks if I remember correctly. Funny how doing without something tends to center our thoughts on the Lord. Every time we get a craving we think about the reason we aren't giving in to our desire. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary of giving up cigarettes. Yea for me!!! And, yeah, it's still a daily struggle. Guess it always will be. And you know what? It's just as hard to say no today as it was 11 months ago. It really doesn't get any easier. Hopefully by this time next year it won't be so hard. But every time I have a craving I just think of why I quit in the first place. Because I offered my body as a living sacrifice!

Okay, that's it for me today. I need to make a trip out to the post office and then decide if I need to do the laundry. I'm just so bad about housework any more. I used to keep such a clean house. I still don't live in a cluttered one (for the most part) but I'm just bad about dusting and that short of thing. I manage to do the bathrooms once a week or so and I keep my bed made every day but anything other than that is just pushed out of my mind. The real problem I have is animal hair but when you've got 5 cats and a dog living inside your house, you're going to have a hair problem. Sigh!!! Until tomorrow ...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blog #1010

Parents usually work hard to provide their children with every advantage available to help them become successful adults. Because we're Christians, we will especially want to provide counsel and help in their spiritual lives: building up their knowledge of God and His Word, encouraging them in their love for Jesus Christ, and establishing a healthy prayer life. No matter how good our relationship with God is, we'll desire our children to have better ones and we'll instill within them the importance of godly fellowship and corporate worship. We'll want them to serve the Lord with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). Too often we are forced to stand idly by and watch them simply fall away as they grow older and become responsible for themselves.

That brings us back to Samson who we looked at the other day. Samson is a prime example of such undesired falling away. He had everything going for him ... godly parents and godly upbringing; but at some point Samson began indulging his weakness and gave in to his lusts. The attractive sexual temptations of the culture around him began to take its toll and the Bible records several instances where Samson gave in to these lusts. He lusted after a pagan woman and broke God's command (and His heart) by marrying her even after his parents had warned him (Judges 14:1-3). On another occasion (which almost led to his murder) he indulged his weaknesses and he survived that instance only because of his supernatural strength. And of course the most famous example of this type of giving in was with the pagan Delilah, the ungodly woman he truly loved. As the consequence for indulging his lust, he paid a very high price. He was captured and blinded by the Philistines.

Left unbridled, sin will completely saturate and consume our lives. Others around us that we love are quite often affected or hurt by our actions as well. The first step in avoiding what befell Samson is making ourselves fully aware of our own weaknesses. Then, admitting that we are helpless to overcome them on our own, we must turn to God for help. We must remember that God is the only one with the sufficiency to rescue us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and He has the wisdom needed for every situation. With this perspective, we will be victorious over our weaknesses and able to obey all of God's commands even those for which we don't possess the innate strength to resist.


We had our small group meeting again this morning and I am really enjoying it. I say that every week I'm sure, but it's been such a nice change of pace for me. And it's been fun getting to know everyone a little better. (The munchies are nice too!) Evelyn always has the best tasting things to eat. Also, I tried one of her herb teas (something about tangerines I think) and it was really delicious. It had been quite a while since I'd had a cup of tea and it was very nice. I had never had that particular flavor. Very yummy!

We had a good weekend although I didn't really get anything done. Church Sunday was really upbuilding although my granddaughter wasn't able to make it. I really missed her. The sermon was very good. (As usual, praise God!) And the evening celebration was fun too. Lots of praise songs and fellowship.

We had a good rain Saturday night. We got 1.5 inches in a nice soaking rain. (Naturally it would rain because I washed my car on Friday.) So when I got up Sunday morning I went outside and hosed off all the leaves and junk that had fallen on my car. And so I didn't waste Friday's hard work. Well the sun just came out extra bright, reflecting off the top of the evaporative cooler and hitting me square in the face. I hadn't realized we had some scattered high clouds hiding the sun at times.

I think this is all I'm going to write today since I got such a late start due to going to my small group this morning. Then after getting home I had to do a little housecleaning (my morning chores and vacuuming). I have so much that needs to be done but I just don't have the energy for it today. I'm to the point I think where I have so many things needing to be done that I'm paralyzed from not knowing where to start. You ever have that problem?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blog #1009

The seventeenth verse of 2 Corinthians chapter five reads: "... if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" So according to this Scripture we are entirely new creations at the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. God had a plan for our lives before we were even conceived in our mother's womb (Eph 2:10). And at Jeremiah 29:11 He says "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" And after making all these plans for us, He gave us everything we would need to carry them out (2Peter 1:3).

There are many examples in the Bible of God doing just that. But let's look at Samson. Israel was under Philistine rule at the time of Samson's birth and the culture was very permissive and ungodly with "everyone [doing] what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). But God had demanded that Samson be set apart for His purposes ... he was the one that was going to bring about Israel's deliverance from the Philistines (Judges 13:5). In preparation for this work, God had given Samson godly parents and an upbringing unadulterated by a depraved culture, not to mention his incredible physical strength. As Samson matured he was blessed by God and he became Israel's Judge with the authority to execute God's will in the land.

God had been faithful and had provided Samson with everything he needed to carry out His will and purpose but he had one problem ... he had a typical, all-too-human weakness ... lust ... which he chose to indulge and it eventually became his undoing. Sadly, as a result of this human trait, Samson ended up a blinded prisoner and he was no longer in a position to bring about God's plans for him or to bring about the fulfillment of God's will in the matter.

God has equipped each of us with what it takes to resist the tendency to indulge our weaknesses and temptations no matter what they may be. But for that to work we must first want to resist our sinful urges and follow the Lord. Samson had so much potential. He could have accomplished so much good for God but he chose a different path. We too, like Samson, have enormous potential to accomplish great things for God and He has fully prepared us and equipped us to push aside our weaknesses and continue down the path God has planned for us. Samson had a long fall because he indulged his weakness instead of seeking the Lord's help. Will we fulfill the plans God has for us or will we be like Samson?

God has prepared in advance a path for each of us to walk down in order to accomplish all that He longs for us to accomplish. This often means that we have to set aside our own ideas about how we're going to live our lives and step out in faith, which is not an easy thing to do. Our human tendency is to get in control of our lives and to keep that control. Our old nature always wants to be in control. We make all the plans and decisions and God is just kind of brought along on the path with us (if He's brought along at all). Even so, most of us can follow our paths pretty easily unless God's path for us involves money. Funny how money can corrupt the best laid plans. If God's plan for us is to live lives of financial poverty, how many of us will actually embrace His calling and walk faithfully down that path? It's not an easy path to walk because it's not well-marked in places and has many twists and turns and fallen trees lie in our way at times.

When we look around it seems that everyone else has nice, well-laid-out paths to follow where ours is sparse and unsure, full of weeds and overgrowth. Why does our path have to be the only one that is so hard to follow, we ask? Do we rebel or do we keep walking stepping up and over all the obstacles in our way, making all the hard, unsure turns and continuing even when everyone else seems to have it so easy? Jesus says, "come, follow me." Will we go after Him? Will we follow? Walking down the path of poverty may not be easy but for any material objects or things we're "missing out on" God will extend a blessing to us, if we but be faithful and take the next step no matter how unsure it may be.

Our path may be hard to see and impossible to understand. It may even appear to completely give out in places and at every turn, we wonder if the path will even continue around the corner because it's grown sparse and hard to follow. But we pick up first one foot and then the other and trudge on. That is living in faith, my friend. When we live a hand-to-mouth existence we are forced to live totally by faith. Why is our path so difficult to follow? Because God wants to bless us. He may not bless us with material things but He blesses us with spiritual blessings beyond compare. Spiritually we are privileged to see God work in our lives in such an intimate way that we can never doubt Him. But we do. We struggle down our paths year after year, and yet we doubt Him. That's our old nature, Friend. That's our old nature. Let it go. We just need to let it go and continue to trust God. In the face of our fears know that God will provide. If He doesn't? Then His grace will be sufficient. If we have nothing else, nothing else in our entire lives, His grace is and will always be sufficient (2Cor 12:9).


I sat here this morning and composed the last few paragraphs onto my blog so forgive me if they seem a little different. I was just typing and all of a sudden this need came over me. I don't know what else to call it. I just needed to write those last few paragraphs. They have very little, if anything, to do with Samson who I was using as an illustration. For some reason Samson wasn't important any longer. What was important was that I somehow bring this blog around to rest on us. You and me. So I ask you to forgive me if they seem a bit out of place. It was just important for me to write them for whatever reason.

I am having so much trouble typing this morning. Mario, my black and white, mustachioed, Italian cat seems to want to crawl all over me and my computer. It gets very frustrating. I finally moved him over to the side and gave him a firm swat and so now he's just lying there glaring at me. He may be a bit perturbed for awhile but he'll be back over here at any time to start the process all over again. He's got to where he wants to lie in my lap while I type, which would be fine if he wouldn't knead my legs! I'm not into pain and that hurts! So every time I take him out of my lap and put him down on the floor he just hops right back up on my desk and walks back and forth in front of my monitor, stepping on my hot buttons and other keys. Well, I don't believe it, he's decided to go elsewhere for a while. Yea!!

We had a very light fog when I got up this morning. I woke up at 7:30 and decided to just turn off my alarm and go ahead and get up a little early. I finished the slippers I was working on and they turned out pretty nice and I've started a second pair. This new yarn isn't quite as difficult to work with and that's good. That's very, very good.

We had our deacons' meeting last night and my "card project" has grown. If you recall, last month I was awarded the privilege of sending out get well and sympathy cards to those members in our congregation who are ill or have lost a loved one. But since last month's meeting the Lord had really laid it on my heart to seek out those who might be going through difficult times which usually shows up in their attendance record. So I brought it before the board last night that I would be willing to take each month's attendance records and send out "we miss you" cards to all those members who had missed 4 Sundays in a row. And I was pounced on. Everyone thought that was such a great idea and they were really excited about the project. Ken even said he would put it in the budget so I could buy cards and stamps since I told them I just wouldn't be able to do it financially on my own. So when I got home I wrote out 16 cards and have them ready to mail today. We had more missing than I wrote out cards for but I didn't have addresses for some. Carl had mentioned that when I saw how many there were, maybe I'd change my mind but he said I could be selective. So what I did was go through the list and pull out all those who are actual church members (as opposed to regular visitors) and then from that list I pulled out all those I had addresses for. That brought me down to the 16. I think I will enjoy doing this each month. It's not a lot of work (it took me a little over an hour last night) and I think it will benefit the congregation. Besides everyone likes to receive cards in the mail. I will keep you in the loop with this new project. My biggest problem with sending cards is that I usually want to mail them the day or day after I find out a card needs to be sent and so far that has worked out to mean an extra trip to the Post Office, which I'd rather not have. Gasoline is closing in on $3.40 a gallon and my old Cadillac is not exactly an economy car.

Pepper's rabies shot and license is due today but I can't manage it this month. I'll just have to be late on it and pay the late fee when I can get his shot and take care of the license fee. This month we just don't have it.

I need to really get in and clean house again. AND I NEED TO WASH MY CAR!!! It's been weeks! Ever since Michael brought the bus back from San Francisco and parked it in the driveway! Of course it didn't help that the weather turned colder either. And we're supposed to have rain tomorrow but I'm still going to see if I can get Michael to move the bus and I will wash my car rain or no rain.

Well, I better get things done around here and get to the Post Office with all my cards I made out last night. I hope these cards will let the people know that they are loved and missed here at S.A.C.C.C. I just hate the thought of someone slipping through the cracks and not getting the love and concern they deserve. We are all, each and every one of us, the body of Christ and we have to look after one another. That's the way the New Testament Church was formed. And I see no reason to change it.