The Love of God


See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Grandkids fill my home with laughter and shouts and rowdy fun this week! My normally empty nest is infused with watermelon juice dripping down bare bellies, skinned knees, and lots more laundry that my average days accumulate.

As I picked the little guys up from school Friday, I was overcome with a deep sense of love. They hopped in the car bubbling over with details about their day. Within minutes a hidden agenda surfaced as one of them proclaimed he had a friend going to the park at 4:00.

I’m normally a way-too-structured-to be-spontaneously-fun kind of grandmom, but today my love poured out in accommodation, so off to the park we went. Before we even got into the parking lot, the guys realized that the Splash Pad was already open this mid-May afternoon, much to their surprise.

“Can we play in the water?”

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t have any towels with me,” my structured personality piped up. “We’ll come back another day.”

They were satisfied, so we parked and tumbled out of the car to run and climb and play on the “dry” playground while eagerly awaiting the arrival of the friend.

It was a gorgeous spring day. I sat enjoying the sunshine and gleeful kids running around. And as I sat there I began to think of how very much God loves me. How much more He loves me than I can ever dream of loving my grandkids. I was overcome with the beauty of the afternoon.

When the friend had not arrived by precisely 4:05, my eldest grandchild came to me with a proposition – could we run the half mile down the road and grab towels and come aback and get wet? Once again that deep awareness of how much I loved these little guys kicked in to override my plan, and I said, “Of course!”

We made the quick trek and returned to play until the park shut the water off for the day. It was great fun! I was reminded by those simple pleasures how many times God goes out of His way to show His love for me. I thought of how often His answers to my prayers are “Yes! Of course! I love you!” I was overcome with the awareness that He gives good things to His children just because we are His.

I know not all days are sunshine and rainbows. You may be experiencing a low time in life right now. But never forget how much God loves you. Never forget to look for those little “Yesses” and small blessings that He gives even in our dark days.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

On Christ the Solid Rock

What are you building your life upon? What is your foundation? What do you depend on?

Your wealth? Home? Friendships? Career? Health? Accomplishments? The safety and stability of living in America?

I hope that even as you read that list of possibilities you realized that none of those things provide a solid, secure foundation. We are trusting in insubstantial, shaky support if our heart is relying on these type things.

Scripture tells us in Matthew 7 a story about a couple of people who built their houses, meaning, their lives. One chose a stable foundation and one did not. In verses 24-27 we read…

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The house built for stability was built on a foundation of hearing and obeying God’s Word. If you’re unfamiliar with this lesson Jesus shared you might think the one who built on an unstable foundation didn’t hear the Word of God, but that is not so. He also heard the word of God. The difference is that the fellow with the unstable life chose not to obey. This reveals a life-changing truth: The difference in a stable life and an unstable one is whether or not we obediently put God’s Word into practice in our daily lives.

When we are hopeless, we can hope in Jesus if we have built our life upon Him and His truths from scripture. When we are depressed and the world looks dark and we can’t seem to see Him working, we rest in the truth of His Word. When the storms of life rage, we cling to Him and the truths He has revealed about Himself in His Message to us. When our soul is weary and we’re about to collapse, give in, and fall apart, we throw ourselves upon His grace, love, justice, and mercy revealed in His Word. This produces a hope that is not just wishful thinking, but is a confident expectation that God is on our side and He will come through for us in our trials and troubles.

An old hymn sums it up best. I find myself singing this around the house when my foundation doesn’t seem solid, to remind myself that things are not always as they seem, and that I have chosen to build on the solid rock, not the sinking sand.

On Christ the Solid Rock

by Robert Critchley

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils, His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh, may I then, in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness, alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Choose today to start building on a sure foundation!

April Fools

I wonder how many children in northern Alabama have been awakened by their parents on the first day of April with the words “It’s snowing! Go look outside!” What?! You’ve never done that? That was the standard April fools’ joke in our house when I was growing up. I’m sure each of you have your own special default April Fools’ joke in your family too, and plenty of creative, new ones each year. It makes for a light-hearted day of fun and trickery.

As I pondered Aprils Fools day last Thursday, I began to wonder How did this holiday begin? No one knows for sure, but I liked this prominent opinion on how it all started. In 1582, France switched from using the Julian calendar (which celebrated the New Year on April 1st) to using the Gregorian calendar which recognized the New Year as January 1st as we do today. People who were slow to get the news (guess they hadn’t checked Facebook ::wink::) and celebrated the New Year on April 1st became the butt of jokes and were referred to as “April fools.” You can read some more ideas about the history of April fools’ Day here.

As we enjoyed the silliness of the holiday the sounds of giggles and “April fools” rang out around us. I enjoyed every last joke, but it made me realize it’s a good time to reflect on foolishness. It’s fine for jokes and fun, but while we make light of fools, scripture has some pretty direct and harsh things to say about fools and foolish behavior. Let’s take a glance at some of them and consider our own ways in light of God’s word.

Scripture, in Proverbs 26 particularly, reveals several nuggets of wisdom about fools. …

Verse 1 – “As snow in summer and rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.” – These days people try to get their 15 minutes of fame with foolish stunts, rudeness, off-color language, and salacious acts. We honor them with likes on social media, a platform to make money off of, or an Oscar, Emmy, or other notable award. It seems our modern world gives notoriety to fools.

Verse 3 recommends harsh discipline for a fool.

Verses 4-5 seem to communicate two opposites. Don’t get into a discussion with a fool to try to answer him. But do give him wisdom that will convict His heart and help him see his folly.

Verse 6 Don’t trust a fool to give a message for you. Not the foolish co-worker. Not a foolish go-between in a romance. Not those partying fools you hang out with on Saturday nights. Not even the meddling, foolish family member who stirs things up. They’ll mess you up. Speak your own words if God convicts you they need to be said. “He who sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.”

Verse 7Don’t trust a fools “wisdom.” This verse says, “Like the legs of the lame that hang limp is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” In other words, wise words in the mouths of fools are about as helpful as paralyzed legs. Don’t trust even things that sound wise when it comes from a foolish person. I remember once confronting the husband of a close friend who was planning to divorce her. In his foolishness he said, “Well God wants me to be happy, so I’m sure He’s ok with this.” … Uh No! I don’t know where he got his theology from, but I guess he’s never heard the scripture that says, “I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16)

Verse 9 goes on to say “Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” Don’t take the words of a fool to heart. Seek counsel from a wise and righteous friend, not a foolish one who just wants to tickle your ears.

Verse 11Don’t accept the promises of a fool who keeps saying, “I won’t do it again.” This proverb warns, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” They keep on doing the same thing to you. Be wise – look for wise, safe friends who will treat you respectfully.

Verse 17 reminds us to stay out of quarrels with a fool. “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own I s like one who takes a dog by the ears.”

Verses 18-19 warns us about those cruel jokesters and “friends” who deceive with sarcasm and half-truths. “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Verses 20-22Don’t respond to a fool’s evil words and accusations. These verses tell us “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” A fool in your life may be stirring up trouble. Gossip may be rampant. Let it go! You may look bad for a moment, but the truth will come out, and the strife will die down if you do’t fuel it with your own words and risk speaking foolishly yourself.

Verse 28 – Don’t trust a fool’s words. “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Fools cause harm to us. When we act without godly wisdom, foolishly, we too cause harm to others. When we speak foolish words out of hurt or lack of thinking through we cause harm. We must evaluate ourselves to see if we are behaving as a foolish man or a wise one.

I’ll leave you with some final thoughts.

A fool will be repaid for what he has done and the harm he has caused. Verse 10 tells us “The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.” And Romans 6:23 says it this way: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Matthew 7:24-27 tells us the story of the wise and foolish man. What is the difference in the wise man and the foolish man? Obedience. The wise man is the one “who hears these words of mine and does them.” Both men’s words and actions yield consequences, either a stable life or destruction. A disobedient fool digs himself a pit and will fall into it. Choose wisdom.

Enjoy the silly, foolish times when they come, but give thought to your own life and how you handle those around you.

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Matthew 28:1-7

Celebrate the risen Savior!

Life That Is Truly Life

“But you, [woman] of God,… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called… so that [you] may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:11-12, 19

This year of living has been hard for many. It has seemed like a year of stalling or treading water, waiting for life to begin again after COVID. But Ladies, this Is our life. We only get one shot at it. Psalm 139:16 reminds us, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

If we feel life is lacking something, if we are depressed and despondent, let’s rethink what life is all about. Life is not about work, ballgames, decorating the house, being known, or a thousand other insignificant things we focus on each day. This is life – that we may know Jesus. And to know Him we each must take that first step.

That first step is to allow Him to be Lord of your life. Has there been a moment in your life when you made that choice to ask for forgiveness of your sin and allow Jesus to take control?

Many moral people claim to be Christians when they have not surrendered their whole life and future to God. They believe that because they are a good person, or because they go to church, or because their family was Christian, that they are too. But that is not so. It takes an intentional, personal decision to accept the gift of salvation and let loose of the control we have over our lives.

A sweet friend recently passed away. She was in her 50s and had associated herself with the title of “Christian” her whole life. I had prayed for her diligently since shortly after getting to know her. She brandished the label Christian boldly, but something in my spirit told me to pray that she would be sure she had a relationship with Christ not just a religion. A couple of months before she passed she found herself in the emergency room – alone. Sitting there in the bed in fear, she began to evaluate her life. She recalled a recent sermon her pastor had preached about good helpful people who had never given their heart to Jesus. He had told his congregation that if you couldn’t remember a time in your life, a moment, when you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sin and confessed that you believed in Him as your Lord and Savior, then you were not a child of God. At that moment she realized she had never done that. She cried out to God right there in the ER and confessed Christ as her Lord and was saved.

So I’m asking you now, has there ever been a moment in your life when you confessed and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? If your answer is “No” or “I’m not sure” I want to offer you the opportunity today to commit your whole life to God and trust Jesus as your savior.

Here’s all you need to know.

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

  • We are all sinners. Sin is anything that misses the mark God set for us in His word.

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • The payment for sin – all sin, no matter how small or large – is death. As a sinner you deserve death – the eternal separation from God.

Ephesians 2:1-9 – “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  • We were all dead in our sins. We are made alive through Christ by the grace of God not by keeping rules or anything else.

John 3:16-20 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

  • God did not come to condemn you. He came to save you. God loves you and made a way for your sins to be atoned for through Jesus’ sacrificial death. By the grace of God through your faith in Him you can be brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.

Romans 10:9-10 –  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

  • Salvation comes through 2 things: 1) belief that Jesus is the only true God who died for your sins, and 2) confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Believe and confess.

If you would like to know Jesus pray now based on these verses, pray from your heart something like this…

Dear Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner – I miss the mark so many times. Please forgive my sin Lord. I need a savior. I know that sin leads to eternal separation from you, and I deserve that punishment for my sin. But I believe that you sent your son Jesus to take my place, my punishment for sin, all because you love me so much. I want to turn from my sin and doubt, and give my whole life to you and allow you to rule in my heart and mind and body. I give up my rights to you. Jesus you are the one true God and I choose you as my Lord. Thank you for your free grace and forgiveness. Amen.

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I’m praying for you today! Life won’t suddenly be perfect because of your decision. You may not always feel strong. Answers to prayers may come more slowly than you would like. But, if Jesus is your Lord, you can depend on Him and lay down your will and your worries and trust that He will take care of you. AND… that He has a good plan for your life. Stay in the Word and in prayer daily and your faith will grow stronger each year, and God will reveal Himself to you more with each passing year. Take hold of life that is truly life!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is not what our society says it is. Love is not sex. Love is not romance. Love is not just a feeling. Love is not celebrating Valentine’s Day with candlelight or getting flowers or chocolates or gifts.

Love is a person. God is love. And we know that we are His and that we truly know how to love when we can treat those around us with with tender, loving care and offer them our unconditional love and acceptance. Not a love that is earned. Not a love based on keeping accounts. Not a love based on what they deserve. But a love that dies to self to do what is right for those we truly love. Not a love that gives in with weakness when it should hold the bar high. And not a love that has unreasonable expectations, nor one that badgers and degrades either.

We have a lot to learn about love. Let’s go to the source.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 4

Finding Joy

In some moments, joy grabs you! The day your toddler discovers bubbles with laughter and delighted eyes, and you find yourself bubbling over with joy in the moment. The first snowball of winter that smashes with a thud into your back and elicits a joyful romp through the snow to pay your friend back in kind. That moment of sunrise with a steaming cup of coffee when all the worlds ills are far away and joy is near.

Other moments, days, or weeks, joy can seem elusive, like one who is a bit too good at this game of hide-and-seek. In those times depression and despondency can overtake us making joy seem like something lost, never to be found again. The desperate waiting at the bedside of a sick loved one. The important person who walked out of your life… permanently it seems. The wandering child lost in the fog of addiction. The unknown.

How is it our joy seems tethered to our more transient feelings and situations?

The world equates joy with happiness, and there is happiness in joy. But for the Christian joy is so much more. What is it? How do we find it? How do we keep it and not let it escape with every perceived tragedy?

For Christians, joy is a deep-rooted, inspired happiness inside us that flows from being in relationship with a good, good God. Scriptures make it clear…

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. Psalm 21:6-7

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4

Apart from a relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father, joy will remain elusive. He is our source of joy. He plants joy in our hearts by His Spirit. Galatians 5:22 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is… joy!” That section of scripture talks about our walk through life, either a walk by the Spirit or a walk in the flesh. We have a choice. The former brings joy. The latter brings disasters: “… strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, dissension, factions… .” So we who are His, “… those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-26) And in that we find joy.

Finding joy is not nearly as complicated as we make it. We manipulate, control, buy, eat, drink and try to be merry, all to find joy. But in reality it takes just one thing. Mary knew that “One Thing” – to sit at Jesus’ feet in humble, loving relationship with Him. But we run, chasing after more, and leave Jesus and joy sitting behind waiting for us to come back to the relationship. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Today, let us seek Him and be strengthened. Let us listen to Him and find peace. Let us hear His voice through His Word and find hope. Let us sit down at His feet and rest our weary, tortured souls and find joy in relationship with Our Creator once again.

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:12-14

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne (English translation: Old Long Since)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And old lang syne?

(Chorus)
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
And picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
Since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
For auld lang syne.

As I read the translation of Auld Lang Syne and pondered its implication to the closing out of 2020, I couldn’t help but share.

Hindsight is 2020 they say. This New Year’s Eve, as we reflect back on 2020, let’s look carefully and seek clarity. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. The year has been so challenging, frightening even for some, that we tend to want to put it behind us and forget it ever happened. But that would be unwise. There is much to learn and even much to appreciate from the year 2020.

Things we have learned in 2020.

  1. The importance of keeping relationships healthy. We never know when life will change or death will come. Scripture tells us, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14) We must learn to work on even those difficult relationships. Mend fences. Re-establish broken ties with family members. Take care of those we love. Love them fully and let go of bitterness.
  2. We do need to take that cup of kindness and give a cup of kindness. I’m not sure of the intent of the author of the song, but if nothing else in this strange year, we have learned to lead with kindness. Be kind to those who wear a mask and those who don’t. To Democrats & Republicans. To people different from us in every way imaginable. To the hurting, the sick, the poor, the rich, the godly, the ungodly, the sweet and the mean ones. Just be kind. “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: … in… kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-4 & 6)
  3. Grab the opportunity for every beautiful experience you can. The third verse of our song talks about picking daisies, running about the slopes and wandering around on long walks. Time outdoors, time traipsing around with friends, time in the sun, these things are crucial to our physical and mental health. Get out in the great outdoors with friends as often as you can. “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.” Psalm 96:11-13
  4. In 2020, we too found that many of those we paddled through life with are not around; there is suddenly a broad sea between us. Working at home suddenly separates you from your “work family.” Church friends that you once saw every Sunday or even several times a week may now have been absent from your life for 9 months. Family and friends in other cities, states, or countries are absent from our lives, and the recent holidays proved to be a lonely affair for many.

So what do we do? We reach out and lend a hand. We offer a big cup of sweet tea on the deck, 6 feet away, in the sunshine. We meet for Bible study class at the park. We Zoom with each other. We call on the phone – the old fashioned way. We leave cute “happies” on a door step, take a bag of groceries or swap good books and puzzles when we’re through with them. We choose joy. We choose life. We choose to love and reach out.

During this dark time, we turn our hearts back where they belong – to Jesus.

A. We allow our Father God to plant and nurture and grow in us the fruit of His Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) There may be mask restrictions, or distancing guidelines, but there is no law against all the good that the Holy Spirit grows in us and pours through us to others.

B. We seek Him while He may be found. (Isaiah 55:6)

C. We tap down that worry and turn it over to Him through prayer and thankfulness. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

D. We walk in faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:1,3,6)

E. And “finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) We exercise self-control over our thoughts.

I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface. There are many more ways we can apply scripture for our own good. Take a moment to reply with a verse you live out in your life that brings God’s peace and encouragement. Have a blessed 2021, but ponder on the lessons of 2020.

Original Auld Lang Syne (Scots language)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit
Sin days of auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

All is Calm, All is Bright

May you find light and peace and rest as you meditate on the true meaning of Christmas! May the Light of the World shine into your heart and home and bring calmness and joy to your heart!

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:4-20

God’s Got You Girl!

Ever had that dream where you feel like you’re falling to your death and you jerk and wake yourself up? Me too. Scary dream. It leaves your heart pounding.

What’s even worse is when you have one of those wide-awake, real life moments that leave your heart pounding: sudden bad news, abandonment, a train wreck happening in your life. You feel like you’re in an endless fall. You can’t see the bottom. And it seems that the adrenalin-inducing situation will never end – or worse, will end in catastrophe.

When one of those things happens, there’s only one thing to do. Well actually that’s not true. There are several things we could do. We could pitch fit like a three-year-old, cuss out the person causing us pain (that’s “curse” for you non-Southern folks), binge on chocolate, get drunk, pop a pill, or freak out in any number of other personal preference ways. But then we would still be in the same overwhelming situation, plus we would have probably added pain and complications to our situation.

My favorite movie is Apollo 13. And one of my favorite scenes from it occurs after the mission-terminating accident has happened. The 3 astronauts on board the damaged spacecraft are assessing their situation. Tensions are high. They are frightened. Anger and accusations boil over as a result and an argument ensues for a couple of minutes until the mission commander, Jim Lovell, brings it to a halt with this statement:

Jim Lovell: “All right, look, we’re not doing this, gentlemen, we’re not gonna do this. We’re not gonna go bouncing off the walls for the next 10 minutes, because we’re just gonna end up right back here with the same problems!”

Since seeing this movie the very first time, this line has never left me. How often do I find myself in crisis and begin to freak out and bounce off the walls and say or do stupid things that complicate the situation, only to find myself right back in the same place when my anger is spent and my ranting is over? I’ve wasted all that time and energy, and probably increased my blood pressure and aggravated my health all for nothing. When if I reacted as I know is best, I would probably have found a more helpful, peaceful, and God-honoring way of conducting myself that would have left me in a better place emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically.

There truly is only one thing to do that will help and not add to our tumultuous situation. That is to turn to The One who can catch us when we’re falling – our Father God. Turn to Him in prayer. Turn to His Word. Turn your heart to meditate on Him. Psalm 91 reminds us…

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

So the next time you feel yourself falling, turn to The One who can catch us when we’re falling. Then let go and let yourself fall… Fall into Jesus’ arms. Fall at God’s feet in prayer and worship. Fall on the altar in repentance of the sin that may have gotten you into your mess. Fall before the majesty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the only one who can truly rescue. Then simply trust… God’s got you Girl!