Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Treat Them As They Ought To Be

If you treat a person as they are, they will stay as they are. If you treat them as they ought to be they will become a bigger and better person.

You don't need to know the story, just know that everyone has one and love them anyway.

Monday, December 30, 2019

God's Love Never Changes

Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not.

I suspect that most of us are pretty fickle bunch. We jump from one fad to another without a second thought, leaving the old fad in the dust, all beat up and broken-hearted. I mean, when was the last time you even thought about Farmville, fidget spinners, the ice bucket challenge, or calling something "the bomb"?

Thankfully, God isn't like that. Everything about God is consistent, including His love for us. It never changes, no matter what we've done or how much time passes. And His love for us is so great, He gave us the ultimate gift in Jesus. To God, we are not a fad. We are His passion. That should give us confidence in knowing that everything He does is for our good.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

My pastor gave the most beautiful sermon at last night's Christmas Eve service and I just have to share part of it with you. It's a bit long, but so worth the read:

You came tonight to peer into the manger along with the shepherds to see the child. Hoping against all hope that the baby really is there and this baby really is who the Bible says he is. Because everything else you've tried has left you empty and wanting. 
Some of you here tonight have no peace in your life. The turmoil and chaos of your daily life is more than you can take. You are at the end of your rope. 
Some of you here tonight are anxious about your health. You keep trying to find answers from doctors. You are fighting a hard battle and worry overwhelms you. 
Some of you here tonight are gripped with fear about your life your future, your finances, your job, your marriage, your family. You are so tired of being afraid. 
So you come to the manger. You come because deep down you know this little light is what you need in your life. Here in this manger is what can bring you peace of mind. Here, your fears can be calmed. Here, you can experience healing for your soul. Here, you can find the strength to face another day and every day after. 
It is here at the manger that you can let the grace and mercy of Jesus wash over you and you can find acceptance. You can experience forgiveness and know without a doubt that you are loved.

I had planned to use a different graphic today, but that sermon just blew me away and I knew I had to share it with you, so I'm sharing just the graphic with you that I'd planned. Consider it a Christmas present from me to you 😊

Sunday, December 22, 2019

1 John 4:19

We love because He first loved us.

In an engine-room it is impossible to look into the great boiler and see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube, which serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the great boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; when the tube is empty, the boiler is empty. Do you ask, "How do I know I love God? I believe I love Him, but I want to know." Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother is the measure of your love for God.—S. S. Chronicle.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Psalm 9:2

I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:5

Friday, December 20, 2019

Recipe for Christian Living

o There is no virtue in the Christian life which is not made radiant with joy; there is no circumstance and no occasion wA joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is one constant recipe for Christian living. William Barclay

According to William Barclay, joy is needed for Christian living. Do you agree? What if your life has been one struggle after another? Or you are dealing with debilitating medical issues? Or a thousand other problems that we humans face every day? How can we be joyful when life is dragging us down?

We need to rethink what "joy" is in this context. It's not necessarily jump-up-and-down, cartwheel happiness. It's more of a feeling of gratitude and contentment that comes from deep within through our relationship with God. If we trust Him to keep His promises and we know Jesus as our Savior, it's a lot easier to look past the worldly troubles we deal with because we know they are temporary. The knowledge that we will live in Paradise forever can give us that joy that Barclay writes about. Knowing that God has our backs and works to make good things happen can give us a sense of confidence and contentment that bubbles up from our toes until it spills out for all to see.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Fill Our Hearts with Joy

If the life of Christ is flowing through us, the water from the Rock turning the wheel, as it flows into the heart, it will fill us with joy; and if so, we cannot contain it, it must flow out.

The sign of true Christians: joy overflowing from their hearts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Matthew 13:44-46

Those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it.

Matthew 13:44-46
44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I became a parent, I finally understood unconditional love. I understood how mad or frustrated I could be with my recalcitrant child while loving her so much my heart would almost burst every time I gazed at her. Although He's a much better parent than I will ever be (and so I hesitate to compare myself to Him), I finally understood how God could still love me even when I screwed up. I'm sure there have been countless times when God's buried His head in His hands and moaned "Really, Nancy? When will you learn?!" while patiently guiding me down the path.

So, when times are dark and I feel distant from God, I remind myself that He still loves me and the sun will shine again soon.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Catching Souls

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

This is part of a longer quote by Mother Teresa:

Joy is prayer; 
joy is strength; 
joy is love; 
joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

I love the picture that paints in my mind. Joyful people are so attractive. I don't mean necessarily physically attractive. People are naturally attracted to those who exude joy. I'm sure you can think of someone like that. Don't you always enjoy your time around those joyful people? 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Joy - 3rd Sunday in Advent

Joy is the serious business of heaven.

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. That statement comes from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C. S. Lewis. When I first read that statement years ago, when my relationship with God was shallow and fragile and I viewed His "rules" as restrictive and punitive, I took it as yet another way that God sucked the fun out of everything. At that time, I viewed a life of obedience to God as boring and the required change in behavior as robotic. Oh, how wrong I was! As I have grown closer to God, I experience more and more levels of peace and happiness.

Lewis is not saying that Heavenly joy is a burden that must be systematically manufactured. No, quite the opposite! He is saying that the joy we feel in our lives now is deemed as frivolous or unproductive but dancing and singing is what Heaven is all about. Being joyful is the "work" we will perform in Heaven. How amazing is that?

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Because of the Empty Tomb

Because of the empty tomb, we have peace. Because of His resurrection, we can have peace during even the most troubling of times because we know He is in control of all that happens in the world.

What a powerful and beautiful promise we have in Jesus. Because of the resurrection, we can have confidence that we will spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Sometimes, that belief gets me through the day. Other times, though, I feel like "Great, but what about now, God? I need confidence and peace to weather this storm that I'm in the middle of." Thankfully, He keeps that promise as well. Over and over, throughout the Bible, God tells us he will give us peace. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

You know that saying "God won't give you more than you can handle"? I don't believe that. First, I don't believe that God purposely causes bad things to happen to you. He loves us too much to give us cancer or cause miscarriages or job losses or any other horrible thing we face in our lives. I do believe that He helps us through the tough times if we turn to Him. The Holy Spirit gives us the fortitude and wisdom to power through the storms. Friends, family, and angels offer us comfort when we're at the end of our ropes. And we find peace through Jesus. 

So, God doesn't give us more than we can handle, but He does give us the resources we need to meet those challenges head on.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

This is probably the most difficult thing for most of us - to turn over our worries and troubles to God and trust Him to take care of them. I know it's one of my biggest challenges as a Christian. I really do believe that God knows and wants what's best for me, but that doesn't stop me from worrying. 

When I find myself really drowning in worry, I do three things:

  1. I try the logic method (not a real method, but I'm thinking of trademarking it). I think about what I can do to change the circumstances. If I have the power to make it less worrisome, great! But, about 99% of the time, there's nothing I can do. When that's the case, worrying about it won't change a thing, so I try to convince myself that, logically, it's a waste of time to worry. That usually doesn't work, so I move on to Step 2.
  2. I remember two verses: Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. and Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. While that makes me feel better, it usually doesn't eradicate all the worry, so on to Step 3.
  3. I sit down and have a heart-to-heart with God. Sure, He already knows all about my worries, but it helps me to talk it out. I also end up asking him to take my worries away. 
Those 3 steps help me, big time. Well, at least for a while. Sometimes, those worries come creeping back. When that happens, I just rinse and repeat - it's OK to go through the 3 steps as many times as needed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Sometimes I like to look up a verse in different translations. Sometimes, the use of a specific word or the way it's phrased brings on a whole new meaning. My go-to translation is New International Version for it's beautiful phrasing, but I also love The Message because of it's clear, no-nonsense wording. 

Here's Colossians 3:15 in The Message:

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. 

I like the way it says that we should be in tune and in step with other Christians. Sometimes, that's not so easy. We all have our own ideas of how things should be done and it's easy to get frustrated or angry with others who disagree. When that happens, we need to look back on this verse, take a breath, and strive to follow Paul's guidance.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

We can't expect others to create peace for us because it is a personal thing. We cannot know peace if we have hatred or envy in our hearts. It is only when we let go of those negative feelings and love one another that we can have true, lasting peace. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Peace of God

How different the peace of God from that of the world! It calms the passions, preserves the purity of the conscience, is inseparable from righteousness, unites us to God and strengthens us against temptations. The peace of the soul consists in an absolute resignation to the will of God. Francois Fenelon

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.

So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon. Jan L. Richardson

The following passage has nothing to do with the graphic, but I really, really like it and just had to post it. No grumbling... my blog, my rules!

One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.

Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Storms Never Last Forever

Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.

Psychologists say that some stress is good for us. A little stress helps us focus and achieve goals. It even strengthens our hearts and one study showed that individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had low or high levels. 

But, when we face serious storms in our lives, it can cause "bad" stress if we don't take steps to keep it at bay. One of the best ways to reduce that stress is to have hope in the Lord that He will be faithful. Ask Him to help you and to deliver you from your troubles.

I have faced unimaginable situations in my life; things that would break those who don't have a relationship with God. I've survived because I know that God will work to have something good come from my suffering (Romans 8:28). And He has always been faithful in that promise.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Some people seem to be surprised when Christians have trouble in their lives. They seem to think that God builds a hermetically-sealed bubble around us so we are protected from the evils of the world. Jesus doesn't promise that our lives are magically perfect when we become Christians. He does promise that we will spend eternity in Paradise and that it'll be worth the troubles we experience on Earth.

So, when life seems to be getting the best of you, take comfort in the assurance that Heaven will be worth the wait!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Desiring What You Don't Have

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus

My friend Amy (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) never seems to be satisfied. She is obsessed with her iPhone. Or, rather, the next version coming out. She will talk for weeks about all of the great features and how she can't wait for the release date. But, once she gets it, the shiny new toy quickly dulls and she's soon anxiously awaiting the newer version. Instead of appreciating the amazing new gadget, it is quickly "not enough".

I don't begrudge her having the latest and greatest, but I do feel sad that she can't enjoy what's right in front of her. That is not a recipe for happiness or satisfaction. The Bible says that always wanting more is like chasing the wind - there is no meaning to it. It doesn't enhance your life or anyone else's life. And isn't that why we are here? To make the world a better place and praise God?

Instead of always wanting more, God wants us to use what we have to glorify His name. We should find pleasure in that action rather than our possessions.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Romans 8:24-25

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

Wait for it patiently? Really?  In this world of access to almost all information at our fingertips, Amazon same-day delivery, on-demand streaming video, and instant gratification, patience is looked upon as an unnecessary annoyance. Even my tech-challenged husband doesn’t hesitate to whip out his smart phone to look up some random factoid. 

But, God expects us to follow His timeline, not ours. It seems, sometimes, that His timeline is excruciatingly slow and it's natural to want things right now!. So, how can we learn to wait patiently for God’s time? First, remember that God will keep His promises. He has shown this time after time. Second, ask God for help in being patient. And, lastly, don't beat yourself up for your impatience. It's a normal, human emotion and it takes practice to keep it at bay.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

God's promises are real and He is faithful to keep those promises. Knowing this gives us hope when we face adversity or confront worldly temptations. With this assurance, we can survive and even thrive when life throws us a curve ball. 

Sharon Risher's mother was shot and killed by a white supremacist killer while at a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. As a hospital chaplain, Sharon knew she should forgive the shooter, but she struggled to keep the hate she felt at bay. She missed her mother terribly and agonized over the horrible death she imagined that her mother faced. She turned to God for guidance and strength, but it took a long time before she felt the peace she sought when she finally let go of the hate. But, as God promised, the peace came. It may not have come immediately when she asked for it, but it came when God felt she was ready.

So it is anytime we ask God for help. We are anxious and want help NOW! But God is a lot smarter than you or me and He knows exactly when the time is right. If we have hope in God, when we trust Him, we can be assured that the joy and peace will come.


You are free to use any graphic on this site for your church's or faith-based non-profit's social media. All I ask is that you not alter it in any way and, if possible, tag me on your post.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Rediscover Your Childlike Anticipation

Any doubt of the Father's love disappeared the night God was wrapped in barnyard towels so the hay wouldn't scratch his back. Max Lucado

Remember the excited anticipation you felt as a child as Christmas drew closer? For most of us, that childlike wonder and hope has given way to the stress of making the holidays perfect. It's possible to recapture those warm, joyful feelings and return to the reason for the season. This holiday season, let's forget about having the perfect decorations and overspending on gifts and just focus on developing a better relationship with Jesus. 

Today is the first day of Advent. For the next 24 days, spend a little time each day exploring the hope, love, joy and peace that Jesus brings to your life. It won't keep you from eating too many sweets, but you'll grow as a Christian and arrive at Christmas with less stress and genuine happiness.

Join me during these next few weeks and we'll explore together!

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time.” Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac
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