Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (repost)

Dear Readers,

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you rejoice this day as you count your blessings (maybe even discovering ones you hadn't considered). If you are with family, enjoy them. If your family lives far away, pray for them. If you are all alone, know that God loves you and has promised to never leave you or forsake you.

Many years ago, a young speaker named Ann Kiemel used to delight audiences by singing in her childlike voice, "God loves you and I love you and that's the way it should be." May that be our song today!

May God bless you. He loves you and I love you and that's the way it should be . . . .


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thanks for the Memories!

Hard to believe this year has drawn to an end. When I began blogging on September 4, 2009, I had no idea what to expect. Neither did I realize what a grand adventure this would be.

Cranking out an article every morning (except Sundays) is good discipline. Yes, some posts were better than others, I'll admit that. But it forced me to put BIC (butt in chair) and WRITE. Of course, my other writing slowed.

I didn't produce any novels this year--but I did spend time studying how to write better novels.Since deciding to write fiction, my learning curve has been high!! But let it never be said of me "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." I'm going to keep at it until I get it. And that's my final word on the subject--for now.

Until next time, thanks for the memories! And may God bless you!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thanks for Your Comments

When people blog, they sit in their "offices" and tap away at keys. Often, after sharing their inmost thoughts and fears, they preview what they've said (hopefully, deleting anything compromising) and hit "Send." And then their words are gone--off into cyberspace--to connect or not, to resonate or not, help or not, please or not.

Why do people blog? Why does anyone take the time . . . and the risk? Do they like to see themselves in print? To hear themselves talk? To influence? It could be all of those things. It could also be that God has given them something to say, some way to help, to encourage (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

For me, it began as a lark. I'd seen the movie Julie & Julia, and blogging for a year seemed like a good challenge. At first, I used it as a teaching tool and spent 2-3 months in the Selah passages of the Book of Psalms. But, as time went on, I began to see blogging as a way to connect with others.

In a day when people, either by choice or circumstance, have become isolated in their day-to-day interactions, social media has sprouted up to meet a need for interconnectedness. And blogging is part of that. When I would blog about life or death or pain or joy, I could generally expect a response in the comments section or on Facebook or in person.

Thank you for those comments and for the social connection you provided this writer--for writing, of necessity, involves many long hours of isolation. Your responses were an encouragement to me and are why I will, doubtless, continue to blog (though not daily) in the months ahead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Still Missing My Mom

Three years ago this morning, Mother left this earth to join Jesus in Heaven. I know she's happy there, deliriously happy with Jesus and Dad and her parents and aunts and uncles. I know she's met saints and angels and that's she's learned things that would have eluded her finite mind on earth. I wouldn't wish her back. But I miss her.

We're leaving in a few minutes to visit the cemetery. She's not there--I know that. But it's something I can do to show I miss her.

As I pick the best roses I can find in my yard, I'm thinking about her and the joy she brought into my life all my life. I have no memory of a raised voice, no recollection of out-of-control actions. But I have plenty of memories of loving and giving, of cookies and milk, of "being there" whenever I needed her. And, did I mention I miss her?

I'm thankful for having had such a mother. I realize not everybody does--and I'm sorry for you if you didn't. But I sure do miss her.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Jesus Takes the Wheel

Have you ever been in the middle of a project or on a career path when you felt Someone's hand on your shoulder? Maybe the hand has even taken the wheel and changed your life's direction.

That happened to me recently. At the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, I clearly felt God speaking to me through a number of voices and situations.
  • Agents I respect said my pro-life agenda continues to overpower my story lines--despite the fact that I have pointedly tried to keep that from happening. (FYI, agendas are expected and fine in non-fiction writing but not so fine in fiction.)
  • A highly-respected editor taught her coaching class that, in today's publishing world, authors must be entrepreneurial, meaning they must expect to market their books and to take a long-term businesslike approach to doing so. (I'm at a stage in my life where I'm looking at shorter-term projects.)
  • A young woman I love and admire has found a beautiful non-controversial way to promote the sanctity of human life in her compelling non-fiction picture gift book, and she is an effective and eager marketer of her book. (Karen Wells' The Miracle of You combines Scripture passages and faith statements with endearing illustrations to promote life.)
When the voices and situations aligned, I felt (as it were) the Spirit of God whispering a commendation to me. "You have been faithful to do what you could to affirm the sanctity of human life through your stories. But I am relieving you of the burden of carrying the pro-life message. I am placing that responsibility on Karen Wells' shoulder. Your responsibility is to encourage her and to pray for her."

And so I embrace my new responsibility. It's a joy to encourage Karen and to pray for her. It's a joy to endorse her wonderful book and to point you to Karen's website

And it's a joy to head on down the road, on the passenger side, with Jesus at the wheel. I'm wondering what new adventures He has in mind for me to write about--and I'm excited!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Emmy Awards

Every year television hosts an award show to honor professionals who have distinguished themselves in some fashion (acting, producing, writing, etc.) Because there are relatively few awards, it's a big deal to be nominated in your category, an even bigger deal to win!

There isn't an award for every actor who learns his lines and shows up day after day, or every producer who arranges finances and makes things happen so that his movie can be made. There isn't an award for every hairstylist who does her best to make actresses look good. Despite hard work and sleepless nights, no recognition is given to these hard-working souls.

The very good news is that there is One who notices all the uncelebrated acts of faithfulness that each and every one of us does day after weary day. We may not receive an award on this "success-oriented" planet, but  . . .  

one day, 
the Greatest Producer and Director of all time
will welcome into His presence 
those who belong to His cast of characters 
and delivered His lines
or worked on His sets
and He will say to them,

"Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master's happiness!"
~ Matthew 25:21

Doesn't that help put things in perspective for you? I know it does for me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Boy's Birthday Party

With unbridled joy he tore into his presents--shouting with particular joy when opening a Bak-u-gon or a Bionical or Legos. Most boys like to build things.

Made me think how something good can be taken to extremes, like man's desire to build the Tower of Babel.

"Come, let us build ourselves a city,
with a tower that reaches to the heavens,
so that we may make a name for ourselves
and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
~ Genesis 11:4

At first glance, one might wonder what's wrong with that building plan. Well, how about this? God's initial blessing to mankind (Adam and Eve) included these words:

"Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air
and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
~ Genesis 1:28

From the very beginning, God intended man's role to be great--his was to be a  worldwide presence with dominion over all other creatures. God didn't intend for man to cluster together with the intent of making a name for himself. Rather, God intended for man to go into all the world and take with him the Redemption Story of Genesis 3. Man was to make a name for the coming Messiah who would crush the serpent's head.

Can you think of other worthwhile pursuits that, taken to extremes, eventually run counter to the will of God?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Do you face the impossible today? Is there some task, person, or thing that is threatening to overtake you? Are you afraid--of that situation or your reaction to it? Here's how you can find overcoming strength . . . .

Nehemiah faced a daunting task--to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 
  1. He had to convince the king for whom he was cup bearer to give him a leave of absence, safe passage, and enough timber to build the wall (as well as beams for the gates of the palace and for the house that he would live in).
  2. He had no building team--it had to be assembled. 
  3. He couldn't just go to Lowe's or Home Depot to get his materials. They had to be brought in from the king's forest.
  4. He faced opposition from difficult men who challenged him at every turn.
Yet, despite all of these difficulties, Nehemiah finished the wall in fifty-two days. How did he do it?
  1. He trusted God to give him favor in the sight of Artaxerxes (the king for whom he was cup bearer) which resulted in his leave of absence, safe passage, and timber.
  2. He conveyed his vision for the wall to the religious leaders in Jerusalem who helped him accomplish his God-given mission.
  3. He overcame his enemies by keeping his eyes on his mission and letting God deal with them (Nehemiah 4:14).
And when his job was complete, Nehemiah spoke to the people of Israel:

"Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, 
and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared;
for this day is holy unto our Lord.
Neither be ye grieved;
for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
~ Nehemiah 8:10

So as you face the impossible today, keep these things in mind:  
  1. Trust God to give you strength to do the work He's called you to do
  2. Keep your eyes on the mission He has given you
  3. Enlist others to help you
  4. Do not let others keep you from doing the will of God
  5. Rejoice when the work is done. 
The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

In this crazy world, where wrong often seems right and what we see as good is often "spoken of as evil," it's easy to be confused. Many saints have followed popular thinking to their own destruction. How can we be in the world without allowing the world to distract us from the mission God has given us?

What is our mission anyway?
  • Generally speaking, Jesus' disciples are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Wherever we live, we are to represent Him--talk as Jesus talked, walk as Jesus walked. In doing so, His joy will remain in us (John 16:24) and we will shine as those who have hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).
  • We are to give others a reason for the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15). And that reason is, of course, Jesus who is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:1-3).
  •  We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). In an age of injustice, cruelty, and pride, we are to act counter-culturally evidencing that God's ways are not man's ways (Isaiah 55:8).
Will we stick out? 
Will we become objects of ridicule? 
What do we do then?

Like Paul and Silas in Acts 16--imprisoned for following Christ--they sang to God through the night and He shook the ground for their sakes, releasing them from prison that they might continue to serve Him.  Sing!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knowing When to Throw in the Towel

As children, we knew that almost everything took practice. We accepted the fact that we couldn't tie our shoes on our first attempt--or ride a bike, or swim across the pool. We knew that it took a year (at least) of training before we were granted a license to drive a car.

Perhaps we were grittier then than we are now. Perhaps we've fallen victim to the cultural "need" for instant gratification. Perhaps that's why so many of us throw in the towel long before we should.

How many of our relationships, or goals, or desires, have fallen by the wayside simply because we lacked the determination to press on? Have you ever changed course only to look back and wish you hadn't acted so hastily? How do you know you need to hang in there even if things seem hopeless?

This is not to say that there isn't a time to move on, but when is that time? What are some signs that God wants us to change course?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paying Homage to a Godly Man

There are scores of Bible verses extolling the virtues of a godly woman--how she blesses her husband and her children, how she cares for her servants, how she benefits her community. Proverbs frequently reminds men of the value of a godly wife as opposed to a quarrelsome one or, worse, an evil woman whose intent is to draw him in like an ox going to the slaughter.

Today I want to pay homage to a godly man--my husband. Dick is 67 years old today and has spent the past 36 years walking with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What makes him great is the Spirit of God living inside of him.

For him and for all godly men, I'd like to share Psalm 112 today. Read and be blessed!

Psalm 112

Praise the LORD.

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.

His children will be mighty in the land'
each generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked man will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

If you know a godly man, tell him today how much you appreciate him and encourage him to continue his walk with the Lord. The more godly he becomes, the more lovely it will be to follow him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When There's No Clear-Cut Answer

Sometimes there's no clear-cut answer as to how to proceed. Then what do you do?

I'm facing a minor dilemma--to do or not to do_________ (fill in your own blank).
I love what my former supervisor advised when it came to just about any option she faced. She would ask herself:

Do I have to do it?
Do I want to do it?

If the answer to either of these questions was yes, then she would proceed.

In other words, if it's something I know I should do--something scriptural or something the Still Small Voice warns me to do, then I should go ahead and do it, even if I don't want to?

On the other hand, maybe it's something I feel no NEED to do, but it's something I WANT to do (besides sin, of course). Then I ought to go ahead and do it. Christians can have fun, too.

And that answers the question for me today: I have to do it. Moreover I want to do it. So, goodbye for now. I'm on my way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Five Places for Retirement

Yahoo's front page this morning featured Five Places for Retirement as "havens offering tax breaks and leisure." I'm always curious to discover what other places offer that my own home town doesn't--so I scanned the article. Was the grass greener on the other side of the country?

Well, let's see.Charlottesville, VA offers a mild climate, proximity to golf courses, parks and wineries, art & theater scenes, developed downtown district. On the downside, there's an above-average cost of living & moderate tax breaks, with a mid-sized public transit system. Sounds like home. Guess I won't be moving to Virginia.

As I looked at the other four cities, I discovered they offered nothing positive (except for a low cost of living in Pittsburgh, PA) that I don't have right here in Portland, Oregon. On the downside, however, they offered these negatives: high tornado risk, high hurricane risk, higher than average cost of living, and high crime rates. No thank you!

I believe I'll remain content where I am and yearn for only one "retirement" destination: the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).

What about you? Are you content to stay where you are? If not, what compels you to find "heaven" on earth?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lasting Friendships

"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).

Do you have a friend(s) who sticks closer than a brother? If so, you are a blessed individual. You know the kind of person I'm talking about.

Now let's consider the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother--the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • He came that you and I might have life abundantly (John 10:10)
  • He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)
  • He died for your sins and mine (John 3:16)
  • He sent His Holy Spirit to guide you and me into all truth (John  16:13)
  • He will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • He is coming again so that where He is you may be also (John 14:3)
  • He is coming soon (Revelation 22:20)
This is a friendship that lasts because it was initiated and is sustained by God Himself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

County Fairs and Paradise

Today's the day--we're going to the county fair! I don't know who's more excited--the grandkids or me. Luke wants to try his hand at the carnival games--that'll be an education in itself! Viv is excited to try the cotton candy--pink! Sam will enjoy riding around in his wheelchair and looking at the goats! Me? I'm excited to watch the children have the time of their lives!

Don't you just love county fairs! They're fun, pure and simple. Seems like the older we get, fewer things float our boat. Perhaps disillusionment sets in as life knocks the wind out of our sails. The "rides" seem less exciting and more perilous.

One thing never fails to excite--the prospect of Heaven. Our loving heavenly Father--who cannot and does not lie--has graciously provided descriptions in the Bible of what awaits us in Paradise:
  • What it will look like
  • Who will be there
  • What to expect
  • What not to expect
  • What we'll do
  • What we'll learn
It's going to be an incredibly beautiful place populated with the best and most loving associates God could save. We will accomplish the "impossible" unfettered by doubt and fear and pain and sorrow. The universe and beyond into infinity will be our classroom, and our teacher will be none other than the Almighty Himself.

Read about it. Start in Genesis and work your way on to Revelation. It makes terrific Summer reading (and Fall and Winter and Spring). 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Looking at Our Words and Thoughts with "Critical" Eyes

I'm off to critique group. For you non-writers out there, that's a meeting of fellow-writers who look at each others' work and comment on it. We consider things like punctuation and grammar. But, more importantly, we attempt to help one another strengthen the piece. Does it resonate with the reader? Is truth being presented in love? Does it "flow"? We look at our words with "critical" eyes.

Perhaps that's what the psalmist had in mind when he said:

"May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
~Psalm 19:14

Sometimes we pay little attention to the words we speak or to the things we think about. Yet, our words are perhaps more powerful than sticks and stones that break others' bones--words wound the heart. And as for our thoughts, they lead to actions whether good or bad.

That's why it's essential for us to think before we speak and to guard the walls of our heart against evil thoughts.

Let's look at our words and thoughts with "critical" eyes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Have you tasted the Lord's graciousness?

In I Peter 2:1-3, we are told to lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking. Then, having done that, we are, like newborn babes, to desire the pure milk of the word that we may grow by doing so. The passage concludes with this proviso: "If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."

Not everyone, it seems, is able to lay aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking . . . only those who have tasted the Lord's graciousness.

Have you tasted the Lord's graciousness?


"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him."
~Psalm 34:8

Not everyone, it seems, is able to place his trust in God . . . only those who have tasted and know that the LORD is good.

Have you tasted the Lord's goodness?


The Book of Romans speaks of God's forbearance with mankind through the generations. After listing man's multiple transgressions and concluding all under sin, Paul assures us that, without forgiveness, we will not escape the judgment of God?

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness,
forbearance, and longsuffering,
not knowing that the goodness of God
leads you to repentance?"
~ Romans 2:4

Not everyone, it seems, is able to enjoy the riches of God's goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering . . . only those who have tasted God's goodness and repented.

Have you tasted the Lord's forbearance and long-suffering? 

If you can answer yes to these three questions, you are blessed indeed. If you cannot, perhaps you should spend some time today asking God to give you a taste of His graciousness, goodness, forbearance and long-suffering for it is the goodness of God that will lead you to repentance and Son-ship.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Letter That Was Received Too Late

This morning I read online ( of a letter written by John Lennon to a younger musician thirty-four years ago. The letter encouraged the younger man, headed for stardom, that he need not let riches change him. In fact, he could use his money to help others if he wanted.

The letter didn't arrive while Lennon was alive. In fact it arrived twenty-five years after his death!

The recipient felt cheated. He would have cherished the letter, and would have wanted to respond to Lennon's kindness in writing it. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he wasn't able to do that.

In a similar manner, God sent mankind an encouraging letter--the Bible. He wanted to give us good directions on how to live life, wanted us to know what He expected.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, many people have not received His letter.
  • Perhaps they live in an unreached area of the world. Perhaps they have not yet heard. Missionaries are working feverishly to get the Bible translated in the language of all speaking-groups.
  • Perhaps they've turned a deaf ear to things of God. He is faithfully sending believing friends and family into their lives to "preach" the good news.
  • Perhaps they're children. God is again faithfully placing people around them who can invite them to vacation Bible school or backyard Bible clubs or release time at schools.
Those of us who have received the Good News and who have great expectations for our eternal future need to do more than rejoice at our good prospects. We need to share our blessings with those who have not yet heard--before it's too late.

Please share ways you've found helpful in telling others about Jesus.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eighteen Days and Counting

On September 4, 2009, I committed to blogging everyday for one year--everyday except Sundays. I honestly didn't know how I'd fill the posts, but day-by-day, God has given me material to share with you.

Day-by-day. That seems to be the key to life, doesn't it. God provides for us day by day, just like he provided manna on a daily basis for the children of Israel on their trek through the desert.

Yet we look ahead at the complexities of life and wonder how things will all pan out. We stress and strive and connive and manipulate--usually to no avail.

And God sits back and shakes His head. "Relax. I told you to trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I told you to acknowledge Me in all your ways and I would direct your paths. Didn't I tell you that?" Yes He did, and, as one who has walked with Him for more than 35 years now, I can tell you that He is faithful to do all that He says.

This year of blogging has been great discipline for me. Only three weeks remain. I want to thank you for your comments both on the blog and on Facebook. They have been a source of encouragement to me to press on and, in so doing, I've had the blessing of looking to our faithful God for inspiration.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Crown for Me

Today I may be getting a crown--for my tooth. But it set me to wondering what it will be like to get a crown from the Lord. To the church of Smyrna the apostle John was told to write:

"Be faithful, even to the point of death,
and I will give you the crown of life."
~Revelation 2:10

And to the church of Philadelphia, John wrote:

"I am coming soon. 
Hold on to what you have, 
so that no one will take your crown."
~Revelation 3:11

In heaven,  whenever God receives glory, honor and thanks, the twenty-four elders fall down before him and worship him. 

"They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
'You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.'"
~Revelation 4:10-11

Think of it! One day we'll be in that glorious company and, along with the twenty-four elders, we'll lay our crowns before the throne and proclaim the glory of our worthy Lord and God. Surely the hymn writer had this in mine when he wrote:

"Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee;
and hail Him as thy matchless King,
through all eternity."

Friday, August 13, 2010


My friend George suggested I blog about roofing.  Okaaaaaay.

My Dad was a roofer in the years following World War II. In those days consumer products were scarce, but for some reason roofing materials were plentiful. An ambitious young man, Dad made it his goal to cover the rooftops of Portland. It was hard physical labor, however, and after several years, he decided to complete his education and go into teaching.

From improving the rooftops of houses, Dad moved to improving the noggins of Portland's youth. He dedicated the rest of his working life to his students and delighted in their progress. Even his summers were devoted to teaching as he and many of his fellow educators converted our country home along the Clackamas River into a summer camp for boys and girls who struggled with their studies.

Nevertheless, Dad still knew and appreciated a good roof when he saw one. Long after he retired from teaching, he employed our friend Dave Day to re-roof his house. "That's a good roof--one I'd have been proud to put my own stamp on," he said.

Yes, Dad was a good roofer. And he was an even better teacher.  Over the years, many of his former students came back to thank him for setting them on a course that led to college and beyond.

I'm proud of my Dad for the man that he was. Roofer or teacher, he believed in doing the very best job possible.  Thank you, God, for the memories I have of my Dad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where Do Blog Ideas Come From? (Or, From Whence Come Blog Ideas?)

As a writer, life changed when I became a Christian in 1975. The old joys and pleasures seemed empty and were quickly cast aside. Even my writing took on new dimensions and parameters. I would only write those things which brought glory to God. But since I knew so little about Him in those days, I worried about what I'd say.

That's when I "chanced" upon Psalm 45:1. "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (KJV). I didn't need to worry about running out of content. I just needed to be "ready"--confessed up, prayed up, sitting at His feet--and He would speak through my pen.

Yesterday I momentarily forgot that and felt fresh out of ideas for today's blog. Couldn't think of a thing to write about. I mentioned that on Facebook and was rewarded with several ideas I'll be using in the days ahead as my one-year experiment with blogging draws to a close.

Michelle suggested I share what I'd learned in this discipline of daily blogging. It's this: the Christian writer who sits at God's feet need never run out of ideas. You may forget that every now and again, but it's a truth you can count on!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Riding the Rails or Looking at Life from Both Sides Now

This week we took Amtrak from Portland to Seattle for the express purpose of attending a Mariners game. We clickety clacked our way up the valley passing farms, rivers, wooded areas . . . and the backsides of bergs.

Towns don't put their best foot forward along the rails. It's true wherever you go in the world. Is this a human failing?

Humans generally focus on what we see in the mirror. "Lookin' good," we say and turn this way and that--but not all the way around. If we did, we'd see that our back fat is showing and our hair is tousled like we just got out of bed.

If there's a moral to this story, it's that there's more to life than meets the eye. There is the flip side. So, in making decisions, be sure to look at all sides of an issue--the front, the back, and side to side.

An old song says, "I look at life from both sides now" and that's generally a very good idea. It's also scriptural. Proverbs tells us that in making judgments we should ask good questions:

"The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him."
~Proverbs 18:17

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Last night we sat in the stands at Safeco Field in Seattle watching the Mariners face off against the Oakland A's. And it caused me to think . . . .

The Christian life is much like a ball game. Satan's fiery darts fly at us like hurtling baseballs. We strike at them. Sometimes we strike out. But our turn "at bat" comes back again and we face that trial (or another one) once more. Each time, we learn something new about warfare or about ourselves.

When we finally connect--when we hit that fiery dart right out of the park, we experience great relief. Yet, there is no time to rest on our laurels. We are in a battle that will continue until the Lord calls us home.

And when the Lord makes His move,
Satan will know his time is over--
  and he'll be cast out
forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Slice of Heaven

If the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was a slice of heaven, I can't wait to taste the whole pie!

The saints came, one by one, with their manuscripts in hand, hoping to learn, mingle, perhaps to sell their work to one of many editors who came to teach, mingle, perhaps to purchase an article or a book--the next best seller!

Each day began with devotions and ended with vespers . . . acknowledging the greatest Author of all time. He was present in the classes as well as out of doors among the trees. He was in the powerful words of the keynote messages and in the songs of praise offered up by His people.

A spirit of joy permeated the grounds of the Conference Center. Holy grounds. 

Yet, the conference drew to a close. One by one, saints headed home, fortified with the knowledge that God cares deeply for His people and the words they write. True to the conference theme, He will continue to instruct us and teach us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

God Will Take Care of You

I'm off at the Oregon Christian Writers conference and thought I'd bless you this week with memories of hymns we used to sing in church.

God Will Take Care of You
Be not dismayed whate'er betide, God will take care of you.
Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

God will take care of you, through ev'ry day, o'er all the way;
He will take care of you. God will take care of you.

Thru days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you.
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.

All you may need He will provide, God will take care of you,
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you.
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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

Friday, August 6, 2010

Oh, How I Love Jesus

I'm off at the Oregon Christian Writers conference and thought I'd bless you this week with memories of hymns we used to sing in church.

Oh, How I Love Jesus

There is a name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mind ear, the sweetest name on earth.

Oh, how I love Jesus, Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus, Because He first loved me.

It tells me of a Savior's love, Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner's perfect plea.

It tells me what my Father hath in store for every day,
And tho' I tread a darksome path, Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below.

"Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12

Thursday, August 5, 2010

May Jesus Christ Be Praised

I'm off at the Oregon Christian Writers conference and thought I'd bless you with hymns we used to sing.

May Jesus Christ Be Praised

When morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Awake at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised.
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

Does sadness fill my mind, a solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Or fades my earthly bliss, my comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

In heaven's eternal bliss, the liveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised.
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

Be this, while life is mind, my canticle divine,
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Be this th'eternal song through all the ages on,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

And may this be the chant of our hearts today: May Jesus Christ be praised!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Christ Returneth

I'm off at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference and thought I'd bless you with a series of hymns we used to sing.

Christ Returneth

It may be at morn, when the day is awakening,
When sunlight through darkness and shadow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory, 
To receive from the world His own.

O Lord Jesus, how long, how long, ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.

It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be perchance that the blackness of midnight,
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus receives His own.

While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angesl attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive His own.

Oh joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives His own.

May we be ready when He returns!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jesus, I Come

I'm at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference this week. So thought I'd bless you with some of the old favorite hymns we used to sing.

Jesus I Come

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth.
Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth's sorrows into Thy balm, Out of life's storms and into Thy calm.
Out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come.
Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair into raptures above.
Upward for aye on wings like a dove, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come.
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Make Me a Blessing

I'm off to the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in Canby. So, thought I'd bless you this week with a few of the old hymns we used to sing in church.

Make Me a Blessing

Out in the highways and byways of life, Many are weary and sad.
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, making the sorrowing glad.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life, may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray.
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love, Tell of His power to forgive.
Others will trust Him if only your prove True every moment you live.

Give as 'twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you.
Be to the helpless a helper indeed, Unto your mission be true.

As we go about our business on this second day of August, may we be a blessing to someone today.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

How Great Thou Art!

I spent the morning with my daughter and grandchildren. Thank you, God, for family.
I've just come in from feeding the birds and working in the yard. Thank you, God, for nature.
My back is better! Thank you, God, for new shoes and renewed health!

We're about to leave for a funeral. Thank you, God, for life, both now and everlasting.
My husband just walked past the office door. Thank you, God, for love.
Thank you, God, for hope! Thank you, God, for everything!

How great Thou art!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Improperly-fitted Shoes

I learned this week that improperly-fitted shoes can be a source of painful backaches--even good shoes. In preparation for vacation two years ago, I purchased expensive walking shoes from a catalog . . . in the wrong size. Who knew? They felt great! I wore them everywhere.

Over time, however, my back began to give out. I didn't pinpoint the source of the pain until I went, in person, to a specialty shoe store and was fitted properly. The shoes I'd been wearing were a size too big.

This caused me to consider a verse about "shoes" in the Bible.

" Stand firm then with. . . your feet fitted
with the readiness that comes
from the gospel of peace."
~Ephesians 6:14-15

Like Jesus, when we go out "about our Father's business," we should have our feet fitted with the gospel of peace. We should be full of God's wisdom, the wisdom which comes from heaven, i.e., pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

Sounds like a tall order, right? Yet this kind of wisdom is freely available to all who ask for it (James 1:5). And it is available to us on a moment by moment basis.

Consider what happens when we go into the world "about our Father's business" without properly-fitted "shoes." We will rub others the wrong way, we will cause pain--both to ourselves and others--and we will end up on the sidelines, unable to get out of bed in the morning, unable to move.

So check your "shoe" size. Are you properly fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When the final results are tallied

One day, our life and our influence will come to an end--though not at the same time. 

Have you considered that the words you speak and the actions you take will live on after you--that the ripple effect will come into play, causing your influence to continue, for good or for ill?

We've all heard stories of little-known persons who spoke a good word to someone who went on to become great, e.g., Dr. Livingston's servant, or Helen Keller's teacher. What about the person who lead only one person to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but that one person was Billy Graham? The influence of these three obscure individuals lived on long after them. In fact, the ripple effect continues.

When the final results are tallied, you may be shocked to see how much influence you had on history. Or not. It's not too late. Begin today.

What word of encouragement can you give to someone today?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whatcha Doing with That Bread?

Pioneer women used to spend all day making bread for the family. Today's women and men work all day for the bread that feeds the family. "Bread" can signify food or the money it takes to buy the food.

There's a verse in Ecclesiastes that talks about bread:

"Cast your bread upon the waters
for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes to eight,
for you do not know what disaster
may come upon the land."
~Ecclesiastes 11:1

In church on Sunday, missionaries from Mexico talked about their work in an orphanage. Children with little or nothing receive help through the goodwill of people who have never met them--people who are casting their bread upon the waters, giving portions to seven or more.

That caused me to think. What am I doing with my bread?

Jesus loved the little children, instructing His disciples to let the children come unto Him and forbid them not--for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. If Jesus cared for the children, shouldn't we as His followers?

It is good to know our Bibles. It is good to study doctrine. It is also good to put feet to our beliefs and to consider what James says in his epistle:

"Religion that God our Father
accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being
polluted by the world."
~James 1:27

Do you, like me, hear a voice saying: "Whatcha doing with that bread?"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Search for Significance

Years ago, I studied and taught from Robert S. McGee's materials, Search for Significance. This excellent study describes how people generally fall into one of four categories based on false beliefs they have about their significance. The false beliefs are these:
  1. Performance - I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.
  2. Approval - I must have the approval of certain others to feel good about myself.
  3. Blame - Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.
  4. Shame - I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless.
Do you see yourself in any of the four categories?

For purposes of this post, I'm not going into any further detail about these false beliefs. It's enough to say that they have derailed countless Christians who look for secular answers to the question of significance.

Does our significance really stem from what we do or who we know or whose approval we have? If so, we're in trouble. We can never do enough or please enough when the bar is constantly being reset and raised by fickle people.

So where do we find our significance? We find our significance in the fact that we were created in the image of God almighty Who loves us and sent His Son Jesus Christ to shepherd us on home to Heaven. For those who understand and embrace this fact, the search is over. Free from shame and blame and enjoying the approval of the only One who matters, we can busy ourselves with the work God has prepared in advance for us to do.

"For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do."
~Ephesians 2:10

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just One Week to Go--Seven More Days

The Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference begins in one week. Just one week to go. And you can be sure that conference organizers, as well as attendees, are making last-minute preparations like crazy!

Is everyone provided for? Are rooms ready for presenters and conferees? Is the menu better-than-good? Is my work as polished as it can be? Am I ready to make my "pitch"?

Suppose we knew that Jesus was returning in exactly one week. How would our lives reflect that knowledge? Would we be on our knees repenting for actions we planned to do today? Would we be on the road telling our loved ones, far and near, about the goodness of God?

For it's the goodness of God that brings repentance.

Our world, our nation, our people, our friends, our relatives, ourselves . . . we all need to repent. Jesus is coming again. Will we be ready, our lamps filled with oil to greet the Bridegroom, or will we cower in shame at His appearing?

It may be at morn when the day is awaking,
When sunlight through darkness and shodow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory,
To receive from the world "His own."

O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Amen.

Let's be ready when He comes. Keep looking up. It could be next week. It could be today!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Loving Well

This week-end I'm attending a Beth Moore Loving Well Mini Retreat at my church. Loving well--how is that done?

Because we are imperfect people, we cannot love well on our own. We must draw on God's love, whether the people in our lives bring us joy or sorrow, whether they are near or far away. The beautiful thing, the one sure thing in life, is that His love is endless. He draws from an infinite supply--Himself. For God IS love.

Our friends across the street visited China again this year and brought me back a beautiful sterling silver pendant with the Chinese figures spelling it out: God is love.  How grateful I am that loving well does not depend on myself. For I know what a frail vessel I can be.

Whatever challenges you face, remember that God is love. Draw on His love and strength today!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Perfect Weather

In the Pacific Northwest we waited a long time for summer this year! But after a few false starts, perfect weather came along. With daytime highs in the 80's and nighttime temperatures in the low 60's--we start off each day refreshed and ready to face whatever the day brings.

In the same way, those who believe in the Lord start off each day refreshed from restful sleep:

"I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety."
~Psalm 4:8

"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You."
~Isaiah 26:3

And they look forward to a good day, filled with God's love and compassions which are fresh every morning.

"Because of the LORD's great love,
we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore, I will wait for him."
~Lamentations 3:22-24

Have you become a follower of the Lord yet? Do you believe in Him? If not, read the Bible--Old and New Testaments--and make your peace with this loving God.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Children's Children Are the Crown of Old Men

I gotta write fast--our six-year-old grandson is having a sleepover with us! At the crack of dawn, I could hear him whistling in the next room. That was just before the beanie baby toss that got me up. In Luke's defense, it was garbage day and he was, in turn, awakened by the trucks.

While I'm blogging, he has grandpa helping him find objects in the I Spy book. Next they're going out to weed grandpa's garden so Luke can earn money for another Bak-u-gan (what next?). Following that, the plan is for me to help him make a felt worm. We've sorted through my own grandmother's button box in search of the perfect eyes . . . and are hoping to find the perfect treasure--sequins! (No self-respecting worm would go out without sequins!)

There's never a dull moment, never an unplanned minute. And we love it! In our far-too-quiet world, it takes a little person to shake things up. Well, gotta go . . . but let me leave you with two thoughts:

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children, a reward from him."
~Psalm 127:3

"Children's children are a crown to the aged . . ."
~Proverbs 17:6

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When Old Friends Reconnect

Yesterday's mail brought a delightful surprise!  In the stack of bills, catalogs, and junk mail, I found two blasts from the past. Two friends from different periods of my life wanted to reconnect. Two in one day! Wow . . . I was thrilled.

If you're like me, you still care about old friends even though time and circumstances bring day-to-day contact to an end. I have a hard time letting go even though I know it's the thing to do at the time. Yet, circumstances and responsibilities change as we age and sometimes it's possible to pick up where we left off. Haven't you found that to be true?

And so, I'm prayerfully considering how my husband and I can best respond to these folks and extend the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to them. Nothing is more important than to know that our family and friends - even old friends - know the Savior. May God give us the grace of discernment and opportunities to share our faith.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Too Much Excitement Can Be a Dangerous Thing!

Because of the wedding last week-end, my sister was visiting from out-of-town, and I wanted to show her the sights

With three hours to go before the wedding, we drove to the historic town of Willamette. Ignoring the still small voice in my head to clip my car keys back on the strap in my purse, I jammed them in my pocket--and away we went!

After visiting a few of the many shops, we decided to head for home and get ready for the wedding. You guessed it! No car keys anywhere. We dashed back to the stores we'd visited and, finding no keys, left my telephone number--just in case.

Next we called my saint of a husband who showed up within ten minutes with the spare set of keys. We arrived home with only 15 minutes to dress but we, somehow, made it to the wedding with time to spare. (Best of all, someone later happened to turn in my errant keys to a shop that had my phone number. Thank you, Lord.)

After church on Sunday, I took my sister into Portland for more sightseeing. Finding no parking spot, we chose a very crammed parking structure and spent a lovely hour on the Esplanade along the Willamette River. The very crammed parking structure had a very strong cement post at its exit--which I unceremoniously scraped, along with the side of my hitherto unscratched bright red Camry SL.

I wondered what my saint of a husband would say about this.  If you know Dick, you guessed it! He smiled and headed for the rubbing compound and touch-up paint. Within a few minutes the car was almost as good as new! I was relieved. My sister was amazed.

What a powerful testimony to the goodness of God. He restored my keys and gave me the most wonderful husband around. To quote my sister, "Patience trumps excitement every time!" Too much excitement can be a dangerous thing!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wedding Day Report

It was a wedding to remember! Held in a pioneer country church, the Princess and her Prince Charming recited their vows. The Prince's brother officiated the traditional Christian wedding reminding the couple, as well as family and friends, of certain important principles--one of which was that Jesus died for the bride and for the groom. Each has value and is dearly loved by their Creator. Therefore, they should treat each other with consideration and respect.

It was a reception to remember! Under tall fir trees, the trunks of which had been strung with tiny white lights, guests dined sumptuously at tables spread with white linen cloths. Children played in an elaborate treehouse and on an old-fashioned wood/rope swing that reached high into the sky. All the traditions were observed: bouquet toss, garter toss, the Prince and Princess enjoying the first dance, the Princess dancing with her father, and a beautiful multi-tiered wedding cake.

As night fell, the trees took center stage--lighting the pathway out of this fairyland.

No one could blame guests for not wanting to leave. We'd just taken a magical mystery trip back to simpler times--times of joy and laughter, times of traditional values, times when mere acquaintances could spend an afternoon and evening in each other's company enjoying the moment. It was a party--and those putting it on appeared to be more concerned with their guests' experience than even their own. 

May God bless this couple with long life and rich blessings. Like the trees strung with lights, may their roots be strong and may they be reflectors of His love.

Have you a particular wedding memory you'd like to share?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wedding Day

My niece is marrying the man of her dreams today. She was willing to wait as long as it took for Prince Charming to arrive. And when he did arrive, he was definitely worth the wait!

How often we settle for less because we are impatient. We despise waiting for anything. We want what we want when we want it--which is NOW! And, because we are good at manipulating circumstances, we can get something now. Something--but is it the best? 

There's an old adage that says "He who acts in haste repents at leisure."

I don't want to live with regret. Instead, I want to be more like my niece, willing to wait for God's best. And, while I'm waiting, I can spend time getting to know King Charming--the Creator of all things bright and beautiful.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Showers of Blessing (continued)

So did you? Did you ask God to shower you with a particular blessing? Have you heard anything yet? If so, do you care to share?

If you haven't heard yet, remember Ezekiel 34:26 says He will cause the shower to come down in His season, not necessarily ours. Just because you haven't heard yet, doesn't mean you won't hear. 

Remember, His answers are one of three: Yes, No, and Maybe. Or, as one of the characters in the book I'm writing has just learned, sometimes His answer is "Yes, but wait!"

May God give us patience as we wait.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Showers of Blessing

We got so sick of rain in the Pacific Northwest this spring. Now that we're enjoying the warmth of summer, it feels okay to talk about showers--showers of blessing.

God promised to send showers of blessing on His people.

"And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing;
and I will cause the shower to come down in his season;
there shall be showers of blessing."
~Ezekiel 34:26

What is a blessing you'd like to receive from the Lord? Have you asked Him? Why not ask Him today?

Keep in mind that He will send it in His season, i.e., when the time is right for you and those around you. But go ahead and ask. He loves hearing from His children.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 10)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

This is our final day to consider the poem. Let's look at the last four lines:

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Why does he call it the unforgiving minute? 
Sometimes what you're doing is hard. Minutes seem like hours, and you'd like to throw in the towel. Press on despite hardship. Keep going even though there are things you'd rather be doing. Robert Frost alluded to this when he wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." 
"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep."

Promises, commitments, obligations need to be kept regardless of our mood or preferences. We can "sleep" later, but now the clock is ticking and we must be busy with the task at hand.

Jesus spoke to this often. "I must be about my Father's business," and "I always do what pleases him [God]." Don't you suppose Jesus was thinking about His Father's business when He hung on the cross?  Don't you think He was grateful when the work was done, when He uttered the words, "It is finished." All those unforgiving minutes (and hours) were over and He was free to give up His spirit.

If you can fill your unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run . . . . if you can give it your best shot . . . if you can strive for excellence in your chosen (or assigned) task when you'd rather be doing something--anything--else, then you are mature . . . and, according to Kipling, you'll be a Man, my son!

And keep one thing more in mind, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving"
(Colossians 3:23-24).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 9)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

The next four lines of this remarkable poem are these:

"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;"

Ever notice how many famous people, Christians as well as secular, lose their virtue along the way? Or how many media personalities have sunk under the weight of adulation? Or how many political leaders have sold out to lobbyists in order to maintain their power? It's a rare person who manages to retain his principles and his virtue when examined under the microscope of popularity.

Similarly, a man (or woman) can lose his balance as well as his effectiveness when he becomes thin-skinned. A man (or woman) of principle, one who can claim "the earth and everything that's in it," is one who does not find his significance in temporal relationships where foes and loving friends can hurt him. Rather, he finds his significance in the unchanging Lord of the universe.

The one who keeps God as his North star will, naturally, value all men because all men are made in the image of God. But he will not over-value men because he realizes that all men (and women) have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rather, he will keep his eyes on God and follow wherever He leads.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 8)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Now let's look at more of "If."

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

Ever been there? Have you been so burned that your heart is broken, your nerves are shot, and your body aches? You have nothing left to give. You are spent. Yet for some reason--family, friends, honor, necessity--you feel compelled to press on.
And so you do! By force of Will, you command your heart, your nerves and body to hold on.

The apostle Paul must have felt that way when he "boasted of his sufferings."

"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches . . . ."

How could Paul continue under those conditions? He understood a key Biblical principle that helped him (and will help you and me) when he had no power left in himself. Paul was willing, most gladly, to suffer for the cause of Christ--even boasting in his weaknesses, "so that Christ's power may rest on me."  

When Paul asked for relief to take away his "thorn in the flesh," the Lord told him:
"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."

We have the same indwelling Spirit the apostle Paul had. And that Holy Spirit will give you and me the power to press on  when we are at our weakest. So, hold on! Surely, your reward will be greater than the earth and everything that's in it. Surely, your reward will be a "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 7)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Let's take a look now at the next four lines of the poem.
"If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;"

As a woman who has been averse to risk-taking all her life, I find this one difficult. Do you? To be willing to risk everything you've worked for in one turn of "pitch-and-toss." At first consideration, this "pitch and toss" could smell like gambling and we might shrug it off as an activity we shun--albeit with one concern, i.e., Why would a father encourage his son to gamble?
However, let's not be too quick to dismiss something that could have scriptural application. We all take risks, don't we--whether it's investing in a home, retirement income, or a relationship. Any one of these can sour on us, yet we take the risk because of the potential benefit. Even so, sometimes our fondest hopes evaporate into the mist.

And then what do we do? Do we give up on life, on people, on hope? Or do we start again, older and wiser, and build on the one thing we cannot lose--our relationship with Jesus Christ, our hope of glory.

And then the father gives more good counsel--never breath a word about your loss. Don't give in to the temptation to wallow in self-pity, slander those who have hurt you, or permit roots of bitterness to poison yourself and everyone around you. Keep it to yourself. Better yet, turn it over to God. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 6)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Let's look now at the next four lines of the poem.
"If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:"

We've already discussed how it feels to be lied about. Now let's talk about how we feel when the truth we've spoken is twisted by evil persons to trip up fools. Let's unpack these two very condensed lines.

Suppose someone comes to you with a problem and you give the very best counsel you know to give. You try your best to speak the truth in love, maybe even go out on a limb--exposing yourself in the process--all in an effort to be of help. You believe your words and your intent have been understood. You believe you left on good terms and you have no regrets.
Later others berate you for the hurtful counsel you gave this person. As they relate the grievance to you, the story bears no resemblance to the truth. You believe your words, your truth, has been twisted in order to sour others (fools?) against you. Fools? Well, a wise person would get your side of the story before berating you.
End result: your words have been twisted to your detriment.
Maybe you've given your life to helping others in order that God may be glorified in your good works. Maybe your reputation and future ministry suffer loss as a result of this "knave's" duplicity.

Do you respond in anger? Do you rise up and fight for yourself and for your reputation? Do you take vengeance? Or do you stoop down and begin the work of rebuilding your reputation one step at a time--though your heart be broken and your spirit wounded.

If you can do this, if you can turn the matter over to God and let Him take appropriate action, while you rebuild your life with worn-out tools, then  . . .
"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
If you have been hurt in this way, why not stop and turn the matter over to God right now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

I've been going on about the wonderful poem and suddenly it occurred to me that some people may not have seen this poem in its entirety. So, here it is. Enjoy it today and we'll get back to discussing it tomorrow.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 5)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Today we're looking at the next two lines, as follows:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same;

Notice Kipling capitalizes Triumph and Disasters. He could have as easily put them in quotation marks. Don't we sometimes maximum our triumphs and disasters? Aren't we often swept away by them? 
We mustn't think too highly of ourselves. Nor should we think too lowly. The best among us falls short of the glory of God. Likewise, we shouldn't think too highly of our triumphs--nor magnify our disasters.

We are here to serve God and bring glory to Him. Therefore, rather than focus on the results of our earthly endeavors, rather than put confidence in the flesh, we should focus on serving Him. We can learn from the Apostle Paul.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward
in Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 3:13-14
We should simply obey God's call to serve. At the proper time, He will honor us with a "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." And that good word will mean more to us than all the acclaim the world can muster. So when Triumph or Disaster come your way, treat them both the same--forget about them and press on . . . .


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 4)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Today we're looking at the next two lines, as follows:
"If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;"

Let's look at these lines from a biblical perspective:

In Bible times night dreams could sometimes bring direct revelation from God. Think Joseph and Daniel. In our day, God may also speak to us through dreams. Some of our most intriguing thoughts come from dreams. For example, think science fiction. Where in the world do those notions come from--notions which often become reality decades later? (Is God giving us a bird's eye view of the future?) 
In any case, dreaming - whether asleep or awake - can bear fruit. Out of dreams come ideas that may lead to action and further the public good. I like what Robert Kennedy said about dreams. "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
Some dreamers, however,  become mastered by their dreams to the point they are unproductive, "pie in the sky" thinkers who become a drain on their families and society. No father wants this for his son or daughter.
Along similar lines, fathers want their children to be able to think. Thinking is obviously a good thing. But what about those who only think, and never do? Will thinking bring home the bacon or put bread on the table? Will thinking produce a clean house and clean clothes? Will thinking give children the hands-on instruction they need from their parents?

If thoughts become our sole aim, we neglect the practical. Like it or not, we live in the here and now and there are times when we must "stick to business."
The father in Rudyard Kipling's "If" says that if you do these things, you are on our way to owning the earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Tomorrow we'll discuss triumphs and disaster.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 3)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Today we're looking at the next four lines, as follows:

"If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
or being hated, don't give way to hating,
and yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise."
Let's flesh this out with some biblical wisdom.
Wait? Who likes to wait? Certainly in our era of instant gratification, most moderns find waiting tedious at best.  Waiting can actually be a good thing:
  • it gives us time to clear our head and plot a course of action that will work. Rather than simply having a knee-jerk reaction, we can be purposeful, and
  • it gives us time to renew our strength so that when we must act, we will have the power to do so.
Knowing that waiting can be a good thing and yet not chafing against it--not being tired by waiting--is a mark of maturity and a sign of manhood. Waiting on the Lord is a sign of wisdom: those who do gain renewed strength and stamina.
Who likes being lied about? We get in enough trouble on our own without having people lie about us, don't we? We want others to have a good opinion of us and we resent it when someone distorts our image. The temptation is to strike back--perhaps even lie about the other person to make him look bad. The mature person does not sink to this level.

When people lie about you, they either are guilty of passing on inaccurate information they've heard (gossip, slander) or they are purposely bearing false witness against you. Either way, they are sinning against God's commandments and come under His judgment. Understanding that God leaves no unconfessed sin unpunished, allows you to "take the high road" and wait for God to take appropriate action even when the lie stings.
Who likes being hated? We are social beings. God made us that way from the beginning, noting that it was not good that man should be alone. As social beings, we've learned that life works best when everyone tries to get along. Occasionally, an event or personality conflict will lead to hatred expressed toward another human being. Perhaps you have felt the oppressive hatred of someone else.

You can counter this hatred by:
  • hating them back, thereby stirring the pot and making things worse, or by
  • committing yourself to God who knows the facts and who judges righteously.
Committing yourself to God is a sign of maturity and, once again, involves waiting for God to act at the proper time.

Taking the high road in all these instances could lead to a sense of superiority:
"Too bad others can't be as mature as I am." 
But this verse ends with the admonition to be humble:  
"don't look too good, nor talk too wise."

Who likes to be humble? Being humble goes against the grain. From childhood many of us developed a desire to be noticed. "Hey, look at me!" We loved it when our parents stopped everything to notice and applaud any little thing we did. 

Trouble is, some of us never grew up.

When Jesus came into the world to save the likes of you and me, He humbled Himself. And we, His followers, are told to have the mind of Christ, to let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each of us esteem others better than himself.

Being humble is a sign of maturity and confidence in the goodness of God, waiting on Him to lift us up in due season.

If you can do all these things--all of which involve waiting on God--you will have accomplished the third of many challenges this earthly father has put to his son. Keep it up and you are on your way to being a man, or woman, the Father can be proud of.

Tomorrow we'll look at dreams and thoughts . . . .