Monday, December 29, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Comfort In Our Father's Arms

Yesterday I dragged myself to church, only because I knew that my spirit needed to be there. I figured God very likely had something to say that I needed to hear. I was right. He met me there.

Life’s been difficult these past weeks and months. And as Christmas approached I found myself feeling distant from the “cheer” of the holiday and distant from my Lord. I longed to climb into my Father’s lap, yet he felt far away.

Hardships, disappointments and heartaches have assaulted my husband and me. We have a list of troubles and sometimes wonder what tomorrow will bring. My mind wants to dwell there—on the darkness, but God says, “No.”

Yesterday, our pastor said, “We are to be a light to the world, no matter what our circumstances.” God’s Word says we are to be shining stars. So, what happens when I can’t muster any light? God’s Word offers me the answer.

Philippians 4:4 – 8 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Even when God feels far away, He’s not. He is always near. And He knows the beginning and the end and that my present circumstances are only a part of my journey. I can draw close to God. He is always available to His children. However, it is up to me to change my thinking and to trust Him.

I’ve walked with the Lord a good long while and have learned that often it’s the hardest days that produce the greatest rewards. And so I’m determined to change my thinking, and I look forward to all God has to teach me as He carries me along this path called life.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Quiet Moments With God -- He Speaks To Us

Sometimes this writing life keeps me isolated from the world. I spend hours (days--weeks--months) in front of my computer, writing, researching, and marketing. There are weeks that the only days I get out are Sunday for church and Thursday to meet with my critique group. It's easy to lose heart and wonder if I'm truly doing what God intended me, a people person, to do.

And then, I receive a letter like the one posted below. And my heart is encouraged and I know God has used one of his children to remind me why I write. I love creating stories and characters, but foremost I want to say something that will make a difference in someone else's life.

So, thank you Lynn for your letter. It has uplifted me.

I just needed to tell you that you have a new fan. I bought your book "The Heart of Thornton Creek" at our Christian Book store's Anniversary sale.Then I had to hunt for book Two (I like to get all books in a series)as did not have it but they did have the 3rd one.The bookstore here in town did have the second one so I have the series.I started the first book Last Monday and it was a powerful book. I could not help but cry at the end of the story.When I can picture the story in my mind as I am reading and it speaks to me between the lines,then it is a powerful book to me.Usually I read one in a couple of days but this week has been busy with the Christmas Holiday approaching so since I had to be at Church very early yesterday morning,as my husband had to be there early, I took it along to finish before church started since I had 2 hours. I am stting out in the reception room crying as I was reading.
Keep up the great work.
I will be getting more of your books now.
May God continue to bless you in your writing Lynn from Springville Tennessee

And to Lynn and all you who stop by my blog, I pray God will bless you with a spectacular Christmas. May it be filled with love, joy and most of all Christ

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living -- Rest

My blog’s been kind of quiet lately. I’ve been trying to rest. Recently, life has felt like a blast from a summer storm, and I've been knocked off feet, so to speak. And so, I’ve been doing my best to not push too hard.

Our society seems to have an epidemic of “burn out”. Too many of us are working too many hours, and when life throws hard balls at us we lack the energy to make the catch. That’s where I’ve been. So, I’m trying to listen to my spiritual and physical needs and give myself permission to rest. After all even God rested. I think His resting on the seventh day was a way of making a point. We need to stop and take time to refresh, and enjoy the moments of splendor God offers. We miss so many of His gifts because we’re in too big a hurry to see them.

It’s not easy to put on the brakes and slow down, especially when we're used to flying through life at full tilt. So, the question for many of us may be, “How do I rest? What does that look like for me?”

Think about what makes you feel calm. What do you do that quiets the uproar of the world? Some of us enjoy gardening. Others thrive when hiking forest trails or strolling along an ocean beach. My husband enjoys woodworking. I love to fish a mountain lake, read or watch an old movie or just sit on my deck and enjoy the sounds and sights of the forest. Whatever it is that soothes you, make time to do it. It’s important.

Don’t forget your family, your spouse and your Lord. Listen to the words of wisdom and love they offer. You may be reminded of how blessed you are.

My mother came to visit at Thanksgiving, and she is the most grateful person I know. She’s eighty-four and dealing with pain and declining health, but she remains constantly aware of her blessings and often vocalizes her gratitude. Her thankful heart is a good reminder for me.

As we move through this busy time, remember Matthew 11:28, which says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Make Time For Fun

Having fun with family and friends is vital to good emotional and spiritual health. I love to play games, tell stories, share memories and watch an old favorite movie with someone I love. With our economy in the tank and all the other stresses of life, especially at this time of year, it’s easy to get down in the doldrums. So I’m prescribing one fun remedy.

Yesterday I received the following over the internet. I participated and have received lots of replies. I’ve loved hearing from my friends and family and so I’ve decided to share this with you. Maybe you'd like to include it as one of your Christmas entertainments this year. Hope you’ll find someone to send it to. The answers for these questions are mine.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends.

Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!!

Just copy this entire message and paste into a new e-mail. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you......Tis the Season to have fun!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? . . . Both

2. Real tree or Artificial? . . . Real

3. When do you put up the tree? . . . Usually mid-December.

4. When do you take it down? . . . On New Year’s day.

5. Do you like eggnog? . . . No way!

6. Your 2 Favorite gifts received as a child for Christmas? . . . A stick horse that I rode all over our neighborhood. (man how times have changed). And a beautiful Barbie in a brand new case with gorgeous dresses my mother had made.

7. Hardest person to buy for? . . . My stepfather. (What do you get the man who has everything?)

8. Easiest person to buy for? . . . Olivia, my granddaughter. She loves anything girly.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? . . . Yes.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? . . . Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift. . . . One year my husband and I didn’t have money for gifts, but I badly needed a new broom. And so when I got up on Christmas morning what did I find under the tree? A beautiful new broom with a red ribbon tied around it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? . . . “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a must on Christmas Eve and I always watch “Little Women”.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? . . . Usually the first week in December.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? . . . No way!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? . . . Fudge. I start getting the craving sometime late in November. And 2nd favorite is date cookies.

16. Top 2 Favorite Christmas songs? . . . O Holy Night and The Little Drummer Boy.

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? . . . Prefer staying home.

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? . . . Of course.

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? . . . We’ve had lots of tree-toppers. For years it was a cute white bear hugging a package, but now days its an angel.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas? . . . Christmas morning.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? . . . Bah humbug people.

22. Favorite ornament theme or color? . . . I love all the colors of Christmas, but my favorite theme is home spun.

23. Favorite for Christmas dinner? . . . I never get tired of turkey, but often we have ham.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? . . . I’m craving more time with God. I long to experience Him in new and fresh ways and to better comprehend His great love.

25. Who is most likely to respond to this? I picked my sister, Myrn, and she did respond.

Grace and peace to you from God.


I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your Christmas traditions and memories.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Australia Outback Contest Winners!

We have two winners!

The first place winner in the Australian Outback Contest is Judi Brinegar, who will receive an aboriginal didgeridoo! Congratulations Judi.

And the second place winner is Bettyann Herron-Jones. Bettyann you've won a set of aboriginal clapping sticks. Congratulations!

Thanks so much to all of you who entered. I'll be running a new contest in the spring so be watching for it.

Blessings to you,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Quiet Moments With God -- Grace vs Work?

Ephesians 2:8 -10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

On occasion Christians take sides -- either grace or works. The verses in Ephesians clearly state that our “goose would be cooked” without God’s grace. It is only because of His gift of grace that we can be assured heaven will be our eternal home. And so we need to begin there, with the acceptance of His undeserved gift.

After we believe does that mean there’s nothing more to do? Nope. That’s not what The Word says. Although I believe heaven is available even if we never do a thing for God (remember the prisoner crucified alongside Christ), I’m convinced God doesn’t intend for us to believe and then go on our merry way unconcerned with Him or His plan for our lives.

Verse ten of Ephesians Two says we are created to do good works, which were prepared for us to do. It seems to me that if we refuse to do good works we’re walking in disobedience.

God gives each of us gifts and abilities to be used for His service. So I say, let’s use them.

One of the statements I often hear is, “I don’t know how to do anything.” Or, “I’m nothing special. What can I do?” If you look at God’s Word you see that He used plain, ordinary people to spread the good news of Christ and to reach the world with His message of hope.

There is so much joy and beauty to be discovered when we work together—reaching out to one another, to the people in our church and in our communities. Life is meant to be full—of love and grace and service and Christ.

If we’ll just receive the gift God offers, then share it with others we’ll be awash with delight and wonder as we see God's transforming power in action. Giving of ourselves doesn’t end, but is a lifetime of devotion.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tips For Trimphant Living--Trust God

This comes late, but I’ve been sick and laid up for a few weeks. Still, I feel compelled to post this message.

Tonight is November 4th, election day. The news is in. We have a new president—Barack Obama.

I did not vote for Mr. Obama. However, he will soon be the president of the United States, my president. I will respect him and do my best to support him. Above that I will, as a citizen, assist my country. I will remain informed, and stand up and speak out when necessary and maybe even hold up a sign in a public protest. I pray we will all be diligent citizens. America is the greatest country on earth and each of us must serve as guardians for truth and freedom.

For those who are disappointed in the country’s decision, take heart, God knows all there is to know. He has not forgotten His children. His eyes are upon this country. I pray for mercy, but no matter what comes I trust our Heavenly Father.

During Barack Obama’s acceptance speech I was moved by the emotion in the crowd there in Chicago. Especially the tears I saw in the African Americans' eyes who have waited and dreamed for such a day. A hundred years ago, the election of an African American for president was an impossibility and something one dare not even hope for. It is a huge step in our history and for that I am proud of my country.

I will pray for our new president as I have for previous presidents. And I will pray for my country, that there will be an awakening, that eyes would be opened and that God’s righteousness and grace would sweep across our land. And I will go on, serving my Lord and doing my best to fulfill His purpose in my life.

As children of God, may we all seek truth, share the gospel and love one another.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Surround Yourself With Encouragers

We all need people in our lives who are encouragers. I have some great friends who love me just as I am and who help prop me up when I need it. I'm grateful for their friendship. God made us to need one another. And it's fabulous to see Him at work through His children.

Some of the encouragers in my life are people I don't even know. Some live far away. I'd like to introduce you to one of these people.

This week I received a letter from a reader. What she had to say lifted my spirits, not just because she loved my book but because she lives right where it takes place. Writers want to present stories and their settings in an accurate way, and when we create stories in times and places unfamiliar to us, the pressure is on to get the details right. That's one of the reasons this letter means so much to me. This gal really knows about the location of the Sydney Cove Series.

I'd like to share it with you.


I'm a very patriotic Australian who loves her country and I have recently read "To Love Anew" in your Sydney Cove Series. I love anything to do with my country and would like to congratulate you for writing such a fantastic book set in my country's history, not only that but my home city! You wrote it very well with no corny cringe worthy Aussie cliches -- well done!

I got teary reading about Hannah's plight and cheered when she triumphed. Love the noble and honourable John Bradshaw! Hope to meet my 'John Bradshaw' one day!

I wrote a positive review on my facebook page and am in the middle now of reading "Longings of the Heart."

Oh, Lottie is so adorable! I was wondering, it would make such a great story, if you plan to write a 3rd book based on Lottie all grown up--as a 20something? I'd love to read about Lottie's story!

Anyway, thanks again for writing a great book!

God bless you,


And God bless you Fiona. You made my day. :-)

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Finding Contentment

I’m adjusting to our daughter and her family’s move and to the need to sell our home. Yet, I still have moments of deep sorrow when I can’t hold back my tears. And when I briefly allow my mind to move ahead to our farewell tears quickly surface.

Some days I’m comfortable and happy to give all I am and all I have to Jesus and other days I’m not happy at all. Today happens to be one of those not so happy days. I’m hurting and asking God to remind me that it’s all going to be okay and that this moving on business is part of His plan.

I expected to hear from Him, but I didn’t expect guidance to come from my own words. I’m in the midst of reading galleys for the third book in The Sydney Cove Series, "Enduring Love". I’m reading words penned months ago and today they quieted my heart.

I wrote,

She gazed at the river. It flowed quietly toward the ocean without struggle, accepting its course. It didn’t rail against the choice made for it but instead submitted and even relished its path.

These are words meant for my character, Hannah. Yet they speak to me. Struggling against a path chosen for me accomplishes nothing except to make me weary and even angry. And so I must decide to lean on the Lord and accept His choice. In so doing, I can move on to contentment.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Paul found strength in Christ. Christ is my answer, too. Only with Him can I be content no matter my circumstances.

Some situations in life demand that we fight, but when God whispers to us “Rest in me,” then I know I am to rest and allow His will to be done. His voice offers peace. I can hear Him speaking to me. Listen and you’ll hear Him too.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

A King Saul for president?

I’m not a political expert, but it appears that this country is looking for a King Saul to lead us. Every day and into the night I pray about the election. I fear our country is about to make a grave mistake.

I’m reminded of the story of King Saul who was king of Israel for a time. And although he looked like and acted like a king, God wanted David, a shepherd, to lead His people. He sent Samuel to choose a replacement for Saul and in 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, But the Lord said to Samuel. “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not a look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God wanted David, a shepherd, to rule over Israel. If the choice had been left up to men, they would never have chosen David—he didn’t look or act the part.

And so you may wonder what does this have to do with our present election? We have two men and their running mates standing before us. It is up to us to choose who will lead this country. Do we look at appearance or do we look at the heart?

It is not so difficult to see the heart of the men and the one woman in this race. Although we do not have the clear vision of God there are things we can look at. What does the record say? How have these people led and voted in the past? Who have they stood with and supported? What good have they done for our country? Do they honor humanity, hard work, and accountability?

We need a man of honor, a man who has the courage to stand up to evil. Stop listening to the press. Go to the many reliable sources and look at the voting records of these candidates.

Which of these men/woman honors life and which does not? The answer is clear. Barack Obama, not only supports partial birth abortion (a detestable act) he also refused to vote on legislation to stop infanticide. What is more despicable than allowing a child born alive to die without any attempt to save its life or even make it’s dying breaths more bearable?

Do we want transparency in our government? Which of these candidates openly displays their life and decisions and which does not? And if not, why? Know this, if they refuse to be transparent now the power to conceal will only increase after the election.

I will not tell you how to vote, but I will tell you how I’m voting.

We are at a crossroads in this country. As Americans we can feel it; we know it.
We have the opportunity to place an honorable man in office as our president. John McCain is not a perfect man by any means; in fact I have some issues with him. However, he has a servant’s heart and he would make a good president. Look at the record.

We’ve all heard about the power of the press. In this election cycle that power has been demonstrated unlike anything in our past. The press chose who it wanted for president and then set out to make it happen. I am reminded of similar situations in countries like Russia and China. The people don’t hear the truth because the news sources present what their leaders want the people to hear.

Because Sarah Palin stands as a powerful woman who is also a conservative, the press has laid into her unrelentingly. I’ve never seen anything like it. The American press, for the most part, have smeared and slandered Governor Palin and her family. They’ve attacked her ruthlessly, told half truths and outright lies. And yet, she’s still remains strong, determined, and gracious.

She is a conservative who believes in standing up for the rights of the unborn, who believes in accountability and honor in our government. Is she perfect? No. But if we’re looking for perfection, then we’d better be prepared to accept a delusion. There is a man who is more illusion than reality. When I think of him and those serving with him, I’m reminded of a snake charmer.

Please do not shun a real leader just because she doesn’t look, talk or act like the elite. She’s plain folks like you and I, but she’s smart and courageous and she believes in good old fashioned decency. Governor Palin wants transparency and accountability in Washington. Isn’t that what Americans have been saying they want? It feels like we’ve lost our compass and are wandering around lost in the desert. If history can be trusted to provide lessons, we best prepare to drift for many years.

I will continue to pray, knowing that God has not made mankind puppets to be controlled. He gave us free choice a long time ago. But my prayers will include that Americans make a wise choice on November 4th.

May the Lord hold us close.

Grace and peace to you from God.


If you'd like to read a great article by a Democrat Journalist who wonders what's become of honest journalism look here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Don't Hang On Too Tightly.

Life changes without warning, sometimes in ways we never could have imagined. Some changes are “good” and some not so good. I find peace in knowing that God is never caught unaware and that He will hold me tight while I weather storms.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I recently discovered that I must let go of the home I’ve lived in for twenty-eight years. Sorrow was my first reaction, then anger, and then the dreaded question of “Why?” set in.

God is so good. He gently led me through my emotional muddle. He didn’t reign me in, but kept reminding me that He loved me and that He knew how much it hurt to move on.

I’ve found my way to the truth, at least what I can see of it thus far. (God is never done with refining) So much of my sorrow came from the sad fact that I’m hanging onto a possession rather than clinging to Him.

God gave my husband and I our home on this beautiful piece of land. We’ve had many wonderful years here. But this place doesn’t really belong to us. It is God’s. I love living in the Oregon foothills with the wild flowers, towering evergreens and wildlife, but for reasons I don’t yet understand, and don’t need to, it’s time to move on. Clinging to a place will only hinder me. It’s time to get excited about what God has in store for me now.

If I believe He has a plan and that His ways are always best, then even if He plants me in the midst of a briar patch I should be content. The truth is that it’s not where I live or what kind of house I live in that matters, but it’s who I am in Him. God created me; He’s the one who cares for me and loves me (in spite of all my imperfections).

Life is short. We dare not waste a minute, especially if worrying about possessions fritters away precious moments. We must hold worldly goods lightly and let them go when asked. God has a plan. We can rest in that.

So love Him and know that our true treasures are heavenly not worldly.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Life's Not Fair

"Life's not fair." How often have we heard this statement? Probably more times than we can count. I’ve said it many times. It rolls easily off the tongue. However, when it becomes personal, the glibness of the statement quickly fades.

Well, “life isn’t fair” and I’ve been reintroduced to that reality.

My husband and I moved into our new home just weeks ago, but we won’t be living out our lives here as we’d planned. For those of you who haven’t been following my blog I’ll explain our present situation.

My daughter and her family moved in with my husband and I eighteen months ago. They planned to purchase our family home and Greg and I would live in a new addition. We’ve been building the addition for more than a year. Finally after months of work, it’s finished and we’ve moved in. I love my new house!

However, the downturn in our country’s economy has reached into my life. My son-in-law, Fernest, is a carpenter and in our small community jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate. In an effort to care for his family and to gain an education he’s joined the Army. This is a good decision. My husband and I are proud of him. However, it comes at a cost to all of us. My daughter will live far away and will no longer share a morning cup of coffee with me. My grandchildren won’t be here to make me laugh and offer abundant hugs and kisses. And I won’t spend my retiring years in the home I’ve loved for twenty-eight years.

I’ve shed a lot of tears, but the bottom line is I trust God. He knows the beginning and the end. And no matter the situation I belong to Him. Nothing touches me without His permission. He has a plan for my husband and I, and for our daughter and her family. We are God’s children and He will not abandon us, but will see us through.

So, even when life isn't fair, God is.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Moments--Dare to Dream

I’ve been reading a great book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark Batterson makes some great points about the way we live as Believers.

Today while reading, I was struck by how many of us are uncomfortable “thinking out of the box”. We need to be more adventurous, more gutsy. We’ve grown accustomed to the comfortable day-to-day mode of living. We’ve forgotten (maybe we’ve never known) how exciting it is to be a Christian.

It’s time we dared to dream.

Mark Batterson talked about an experience he had in praying “ridiculous” prayers. He explained how foolish we sometimes look when we step out boldly. But that's how the world see us not God.

Mark was certain his church should purchase a piece of property. Not a big deal, except this property was half a block from Union Station in Washington DC. He thought that having a coffee shop in the Capitol Hill Historic District would be a great outreach.

The prayer was ridiculous for a number of reasons. At the top of the list was lack of funds. And the idea that churches build churches and not coffee houses was pervasive. Another problem he and others in his church faced, was a lack of experience. But he prayed anyway, believing God would do what God could do.

Even though he felt foolish, awkward, nervous and too young, he moved forward. The church did acquire the property and today a successful coffeehouse stands on that spot. Mark discovered later that for more than two decades God had prevented the property from being sold. Was God saving that place just for Mark and his church? We’ll only know for sure when we get to heaven, but it would seem so.

God is in the mix of our everyday lives, even when we’re unaware. Years ago, my husband and I and our three young children moved to Aurora, Colorado. While searching for a house we were living in an extremely difficult situation. Homes were scarce, at least affordable ones. We prayed and hoped, but after one particularly discouraging day of searching and finding nothing I told my husband in tears, that I couldn’t tolerate even one more day where we were.

Just about that time, a neighbor wandered over and suggested a real estate agent who handled rentals. We talked to him and he had a house that sounded perfect for us. We couldn’t get there fast enough and were stunned to discover that the “perfect” house waited for a family. It was larger than anything we’d expected, and although it was in the middle of the city a green belt with a stream and prairie dogs bordered the back (comforting for this country girl), the neighborhood was great and so was the price.

We discovered that twelve others had looked at that home and passed it by. After what we’d experienced during our weeks of searching we couldn’t imagine why anyone would pass on such a great place. It had to be God. He’d saved the house just for us.

Now, I know this is small potatoes when compared to Mark Batterson’s experience, but the principle is the same—God is in the middle of our lives. He loves us, and He cares about everything--the big things and the not so big.

So, dare to dream and then see what the God of the universe can do.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie Leon

Monday, September 29, 2008

Words From a Reader

I often hear from people who read my books and my blogs. Some letters touch me in a special way. I'd like to share one I received recently.

Hi Bonnie. I'm so glad I got to meet you and spend a little time with you at the summer conference. Your workshops helped me so much.

As I read your newsletter and blog yesterday, I could only sense what a genuine woman of God you are. What amazing stories of God's love and intervention. Thanks for taking your time to share them. I signed up to get your blog posts by email and can't wait to read what you post next.

My husband and I celebratred our 34th wedding anniversary in June, one week before I turned 57. Yes, we had our rough times too. I don't even want to consider the joy we would've missed out on, had we split, which we considered several times during our early years of marriage.

Blessings to you.

And blessings to you, too. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I'm thrilled you and your husband decided to stick it out. Doing the BEST thing is not always the easy thing. But walking through tough times often brings great blessing.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Look for Opportunities

Life offers challenges, some of them daunting. For most of us, our first response is uncertainty or even panic. But what if we changed our view of life's difficulties and saw them as opportunities? That could be life changing.

Instead of asking God to remove the trouble maybe we should seize it, stand up to it, even embrace it. Sometimes gifts come our way that are wrapped in ugly or strange-looking packages. My question is, does that make the gift inside unacceptable or useless? Not necessarily.

When I was hit by a truck and left less than perfect I definitely did not see that as a gift. And if I'm going to be honest, I still have days when I "just don't get it". But when I step away from my own perspective and look at my circumstances from God's eyes I see that hardship has created things in me of lasting value. And even though I sometimes still "don't get it" God has changed my mind about what opportunity can look like. A calamity may just be a chance for something great.

The "calamity" that hit me (literally) in 1991 led me to write. It's been such a great adventure!

I’ve been writing for many years, and I still love it. The catalist that threw me into writing came in an ugly package, but what a precious gift it was. I can’t imagine life without writing. I get to do something I love and make a difference at the same time. How cool is that!

If you're facing challenges, try asking God to help you stand, confront it, and even welcome it as an opportunity. Adversity builds strength and character. It helps grow our faith and teaches us to trust in God.

So no matter where life has you, trust in Him and let your light shine for Him.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Yet I Will Rejoice in the Lord.

Habakkuk chapter three, verses 16 – 19 takes my breath away. Habakkuk lists all the things that will come against him and his people. Disaster will invade his homeland. Fig trees will have no blossoms, nor the vines have grapes. The olive crop will fail and the fields will lie empty and barren, the flocks will die in the field and the cattle barns will be empty. Habakkuk’s response? “YET I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. "

Great calamity is coming against Habakkuk. And in verse sixteen he says, "I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me and I shook in terror. Yet I will wait quietly . . ."

The “yet” in the last verse makes my heart ache for such faith. Habakkuk’s words to us are powerful and living. He speaks the truth, if only we will listen.

He is a man, in many ways, like us. He knows disaster is coming, and he’s afraid. He doesn’t pretend not to fear. But what he does with that fear makes me want to shout, “YES!” He rejoices. He sees the Lord as his strength, not the plans of men nor something he can do to fix the circumstances. He sees so clearly that what matters is who he is, a child of God. And God is his salvation.

The enemy throws darts at us, the world hurls storms, disasters, heartache, but we will not be undone if we remember where our strength lies. God is the one who placed the sun, the moon and the stars in the heavens. He created all the earth. He is our strength. There is no other who can match His power, love, and wisdom. He is our all in all. There is nothing too difficult for Him.

Praise Him.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Love Is More Than Words.

Today was moving day. For the last twenty-five years I’ve lived in the same house. When I moved here, I was young, strong and I had a lot more energy. Good thing my family believes in helping one another.

Fifteen months ago, our daughter, her husband and three children moved in with us and we went to work on an addition to our home. With the help of our son-in-law, Greg and I have been building the new house for more than a year.

We’ve worked hard, not just at construction but learning to mesh two families. Some days were amazingly fun and some were not. But we’ve made it! And now that we won't be living under one roof we get to learn how to be neighbors. What fun!

I’m ecstatic about the move, not just because I love my new house with its fresh paint, beautiful cabinets, and Jacuzzi tub, but because the last months and days have reminded me how blessed I am. I have a family who loves and cares for one another. My son drove several hours just to be here to help us move, my daughter and her husband have worked tirelessly, and my husband has been so good about doing the things he knows matter most to me.

Love has been demonstrated through actions. And though I’ve sweated and fought with my aching back and feet, I will remember this weekend as being one of the very best.

Love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. So, find someone to love.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Get Over Yourself

While reading My Utmost For His Highest these words written by Oswald Chambers hit me right between the eyes. He wrote, “Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything.”

Have you ever felt that solving a problem was all up to you? Or that something just wouldn’t happen without your input or your help? My guess is that we all have at one time or another. The problem is that when we do that we’re placing ourselves above God. We may have decided not to wait for Him or for His direction, or we've done everything we can to circumnavigate His plan. We know a better way, or a faster way.

It sounds absurd, but we do it . . . all the time. We need to get over ourselves.

God uses people, but He doesn’t need to. Being used by Him is a privilege. We need to learn to get out of His way and make sure He’s the captain of the ship. If not, we’ll eventually shipwreck.

So, happy sailing.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Brand New

This July the high school that sits in the midst of our small community burned. The newspaper headline read, “A Complete Loss.”

The school has been the center of activities in our little town for five decades. It feels as if we’ve lost an old friend. Not only did wood and mortar burn, but the hallways and classrooms filled with memories were destroyed as well.

All three of my children spent some or all of their high school years there. As a family we attended concerts, plays, and cheered at volleyball and basketball games. I even had to make a couple of trips to the principal’s office because of a child’s offense.

Some of the school still stands, but a great deal of it is gone. The morning after the fire, my husband and I drove by. At first glance we couldn’t see the damage. Some of the exterior brick walls looked untouched. However, just beyond was devastation—black and broken windows and burned out classrooms. One building was completely destroyed. We could see ashes and blackened remains, standing like charred skeletons.

As I stared at the devastated structure an ache rose up inside of me. I saw more than a building. I saw people. Many of us are like that burned out school. At first glance we look “just fine” but if someone were to gaze beyond the exterior they’d see burned out and devastated lives.

Crews have been hired to rebuild the school, and before the year is out we will have a brand new building. It will smell of fresh paint and have new floors that glisten, as well as spanking new desks and lockers.

When it is our lives that are devastated, Christ is our work crew. He comes in and makes us brand new.

If you don’t know Christ He’s waiting to introduce Himself to you. He gave His life so we can live. His death opened the doors of heaven to any and all who believe in Him. His love has the power to transform us into His likeness.

We are free to be exactly who He created us to be. We can let light in so our lives shine for all to see. Even though imperfect, when we are the Lord’s we don’t have to hide who we are. We can let the world see the real us and be a living example of what it looks like to be made new in Christ.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Care For One Another.

In my reading today, in First Thessalonians Three, a verse jumped out at me. Verse 10 says, "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith."

Stunning words, considering Paul had fled Thessalonica under threat of his life. He’d suffered persecutions of all kinds. And yet, rather than thinking about himself and his own comfort, his heart was with those he'd discipled. He was living in harmony with God. His thoughts were God’s thoughts. At that moment, he was not thinking about himself, but rather what he could do to serve God’s people.

I long to be like Paul, to serve without thought for my own needs, but I am human and all to often I find myself having to go to God to seek forgiveness for my selfish ways. And as you read Paul's writings he often addressed his own weaknesses. He did not see himself as being better than others, but rather as the worst of all sinners. But that did not hold him back. He spent his life serving others and living sacrificially.

That’s my prayer, to be the Lord’s completely. It's not easy to do. But we can help one another, by being encouragers, by holding one another accountable and by lifting each other up in prayer so we will not be lacking in faith. Therefore, when we go to our Heavenly Father may we never forget to pray for our Christian family and take comfort in knowing they are praying for us.

Grace & Peace to you from God.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Forgive One Another

August 14th, my husband and I celebrated our 37th anniversary. It’s almost too many years to imagine. Even more difficult to imagine is that at one time we weren’t going to make it at all. We’d separated and filed for divorce.

After four turbulent years Greg and I had decided being married to one another was not what we wanted. We’d committed unforgiveable offenses against each other. I was not an ideal wife, far from it. Proverbs 19:13 says, A foolish son is his father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. I was a quarrelsome wife. And I let my husband down in untold ways. Greg was no piece of cake either. He had a foul temper and a wandering eye.

After discovering he’d been unfaithful, we split. Seemingly there was no way for us to succeed as a couple. We had destroyed the love we'd had when we first set out together. After months of tousling, all that was left to do was sign the divorce papers.

But God had another plan, a better plan. He meant to save our marriage. It began with Christ, and he asked us to forgive. During our separation I discovered Jesus and accepted Him as my savior. I was new person and began to pray for my marriage.

After months, we were miraculously reconciled. Greg came to know Christ and has been a man of God ever since. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit were we able to forgive each other. And God restored our love.

I sometimes think about what would have happened if Greg and I had been unwilling to listen to God and to obey Him. I’m sure I’d have no inkling even of where he was or what kind of life he had lived. But God was gracious and because of His love we are still together, and we are in love and looking forward to many more years together. It took a miracle, but here we are, still the two of us.

Is there something you think is unforgiveable? If so, think about all God has forgiven you. What would happen if He couldn’t forgive you? Where would we all be then?

Forgive one another, love one another and good things will come.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Time to Listen.

I think it’s interesting that the title of this blog is Quiet Moments With God and I haven’t yet written a devotional about listening. Maybe that’s because it’s not one of my strengths.

This morning during my quiet time I was reminded of that weakness. In Habbakkuk in the second chapter last verse it says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”

Be silent before him. Simple words, or so it would seem. How often are we truly silent before God? Are we more likely to address our desires, our needs and the needs of others? It’s good to talk with God. But too often we forget to be still and hear what He has to say to us. If we don’t shut our mouths and open our hearts we’ll miss Him.

I encourage you to find a place, any place, but somewhere that’s easily accessible and private, where you can get together, just you and God. Then, go ahead, pour out your heart or pray scripture or worship Him in anyway that suits you and then . . . be still and hear His voice, hear His heart.

He’s always available to us. He’s just waiting for us to make time for Him.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Choose Joy, Choose Life

On August 13th I drove up the winding North Umpqua Highway to witness the unveiling of a road sign. It marks a final step in a process that began nearly three years ago.

As I drove memories swept through my mind—A phone call at 6:30 AM, two days of sitting in my sister’s living room while people called and others filed through, unbelief that seared broken hearts, buckets of tears, and a trip up the North Umpqua Highway to a crash site where my nineteen-year-old niece had been killed the night before.

The driver of the car was drinking. He survived. Crystal did not.

Family gathered at the site along the river bank, trying to comprehend what had happened and why. Some clambered down the steep bank to sit among blood-stained rocks. There were flowers and a cross placed at the spot.

My sister and I stood side-by-side arms entwined. Anguished tears wet our cheeks. I remember that my sister stomped her foot in defiance against what had happened. As if to say, “No! Not my Crystal!

That was the beginning of a journey. And now, a sign has been put up by the State Highway Department that says, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. In Memory of Crystal Wall.

Once more we gathered, only this time it was to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, a place from which to move forward. This was a final step in a list of steps. Now it’s time to move on.

All of us have circumstances that try to hold us back, but there comes a day to stop looking back and to begin looking ahead. There are things in life that cannot be changed and all we can do is to keep living.

I asked my sister to share a snap shot of her journey and she sent this letter to help us all better understand that moving on is not done in strides and sometimes not even in forward motion, but it is progress nonetheless.


It’s so hard to put into “steps” the process of my journey since Crystal died. I don’t know if you could actually give a list of steps and number them 1, 2, 3, etc. so instead I’ll just write the process and hopefully that will be helpful to you. Here goes.

Immediately upon receiving the news I chose to say “God is good all the time”. That gave me perspective and caused me to make my stand. Then came the shock, disbelief, calling my kids and sister and mom and friends, the funeral home, writing the obituary, the burial which was more than I could bear had it not been for the gentle words from Mom reminding me of the love of God as she held me so tightly in her arms, the memorial service—and this was just the first week! When I look back at that week, I am amazed I survived. I was surrounded, however, by a cocoon of love from my family, friends, church family and most of all God.

When everyone went home I tried to enter life and find a “new normal”, but that was impossible. Instead I chose to experience my grief, let it in, express it in whatever way seemed appropriate to me and then depend wholly upon Christ. I made the choice to let life stop for a time as I spent time with my family, at church and in the Word. I set a time frame when I would not work and when I would go back to work. I started saying No to people and became more honest about who I am, realizing “its okay for a Christian to not be okay”. I even determined I would not be involved in ministry other than worship for an entire year. As I allowed myself to feel these things, to grieve, I found it was easier to accept them.

Along with acceptance comes surrender. I had to accept the things I can’t change and, in that, ask God how I could glorify Him in this process. I ranted, raved, threw tantrums over the fact that things didn’t go the way I wanted. In the end, however, I had to say “This is what God has given me and I have to learn to live with it or falter completely. Paul learned to be content in all circumstances and I need to as well.”

Working through the grief wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with. I had a “check list” of things that needed to happen. The trial which was postponed three times and then actually cancelled, the sentencing which was a farce in itself because the guy walked out un-cuffed and arrogant, the insurance settlement and the question of do I sue the guy, and then the sign. For me it was like I needed to check all this stuff off before it would be over. Not that it’s ever over but I needed to be able to move on. I moved on a long time ago, but I needed these things to happen to close this chapter in my life and finally let go of Crystal.

The letting go process has been the hardest. I’ve had to let go of my dreams for her, her dreams for her, our dreams for us and my memories. I had to pack her things, clean out her room, decide what to keep, what to give away. If I had my way, I’d keep everything, but then if I had my way she’d still be here and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I had to choose joy, choose life and often I had to make that choice several times a day. I’m still walking through that process. What’s done is done and I can’t change it. I can, however, let God use it to mold me and make me into who He wants me to be.

When the sign went up yesterday I felt it is finished. It’s done. “Now I can put the lid on the box and put it away. Not that I won’t take it out from time to time to look inside and remember, but now it can be stored away. It’s done.”

Love you,


Life is not easy, but with God even on the most difficult day we are not alone. He gives us strength for the journey. And as we journey we must let go of wrongs done to us, free our sorrows, shed anger, and release heartache. If we allow these things to rule our lives they will destroy the good work God has planned for us. He has an astonishing purpose for our lives if only we will allow Him to reign in us.

And so as my sister said, choose joy, choose life.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Run Well

Some verses make me cry, like Second Timothy 4:6-8. It says, As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

I don’t know when my day will come to enter the Kingdom, but these verses remind me that while I live I’m running a race, one ordained by God. I’m prompted to ask, “How am I running?”

The Olympics are taking place right now, and it’s easy to see that being a racer is no easy task. To be a true competitor requires discipline and perseverance. As followers of Christ our race sometimes feels like we’re running up hill, legs tiring and lungs struggling to squeeze oxygen from the air. And yet, we are called to obey and to beat our bodies into submission.

In my world I sometimes wonder if I’m running the right race. When people all around me receive accolades and awards and some produce bestselling books, I can get trapped in a mindset of self-service. I say, “I want that!”

Earthly rewards cannot be what I’m about. My heart needs to be set upon the Lord and His will. Only then will I be capable of running to win, for the Lord.

We’ve all been called to serve. God knows our hearts and He seeks those who will step out and accept His calling, seeking no reward except for the joy of pleasing our Heavenly Father. Humble hearts create fertile soil where good works produce an abudant harvest.

Being entrusted to serve should be reward enough. To be called is to be blessed. The prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness. So I press on with a glad heart. And I pray that one day I will hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Pass On Your Faith.

Today, I watched while my daughter and her husband baptized two of my grandsons. The event took my breath away. It reminded me of another day, fifteen years ago, when my husband baptized our two daughters.

The Lord tells us that as parents it is our responsibility to pass on our faith to our children. We can’t rely on Sunday school teachers or pastors or youth leaders. It is our responsibility . . . and our privilege.

My husband and I took God at His word, and believed that He would bless our obedience. We lived out our faith in front of our kids, even the ugly stuff when we looked anything but faithful. They got to see God’s grace and his power in the midst of our weaknesses.

We shared His Word with our brood having faith in the words of Hebrews 4:12, which says, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Our family has faced many trials. We’ve had tumultuous seasons. Our children have not always walked the “straight and narrow”. And yet, they all believe. Faith and obedience has produced fruit.

I'm blessed by God who loves me and has graciously rewarded my efforts to surrender my life to Him. Even now as I envision my grandsons’ professions of faith and their joyful faces when they were lifted up out of the water tears come.

God truly is good . . . all of the time.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Total Surrender

What must we give up to follow Christ? Everything. When the rich man came to Jesus he was told to give everything he had. He walked away.

Luke 9:57-62 talks about surrender. Jesus says “Come follow me.” Each man who had professed to be a follower had something else they needed to do before they could join Christ in His ministry. Christ says in verse 62 "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

At first glance this seems harsh. Aren’t people and projects important? How about my family? My finances. Time with loved ones, my career, my ministry, my . . . There are too many my’s to list. However, none of “my” needs or desires are as important as seeking after Christ, following Him, and then telling others about Jesus.

I don’t believe Christ is saying we’re supposed to throw away our families and our jobs, but we need to look closely at where our priorities lie. What do we put most of our time into? Is there time for God and His Word? Do we make time to serve?

There are no excuses. We either surrender to Him or we don’t. Wholeness comes in absolute surrender. The world pulls at us and we often go where it leads rather than where Christ leads. How can we be useful to the Lord if the world’s voice is louder than His?

I long to be all His all of the time, but I fail. However, I haven’t given up on myself or Him. And on occasion I close my eyes, block out the world and look at Him only and listen to His voice, and then He speaks with clear, gentle authority. Angst and sorrow fall away. For a time thoughts of self flee. And when I listen with my whole heart and sift out the trivial things in this world then I am truly in His presence. I am His disciple and the joy I feel is long remembered.

And I continue to pray, “Your will Lord, not mine.”

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--They will know us by our love.

I just returned from the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. If I were limited to using only one word to describe what I experienced it would be, LOVE.

My first encounter with the summer conference was in 1992. I remember being overwhelmed. There was so much to learn. But what really took me by surprise was the open, giving hearts of the people who offered their time and gifts to eager students. At the end of a long day some of the writers took my short stories to their rooms to critique my work. They taught me so much, not just about writing but what it means to live out our faith. John 13:34-35 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Christians have many opportunities to be witnesses to unbelievers. The writing world offers unique opportunities because it's a competitive business. Yet I can’t remember even one instance when a Christian writer betrayed another just to get ahead. In fact, I’ve seen the opposite. My experience with Christian writers is that they want to help and encourage one another in any way they can. Our Lord fills us with a love that outweighs our desire for personal success.

I’m not saying Christian writers are perfect. Of course we’re not. Like everyone else, we struggle with sins like envy and frustration, and sometimes we may even get angry about someone else’s success. However, we belong to God’s family and as heirs of the King we're held to account, and straying hearts are brought back into submission to Him. God loves a humble heart.

It is God in us that enables us to sincerely love one another and to lift up each other even when it means setting aside personal goals. So, let us draw close to God and allow Him to reign in our hearts. May our example draw others to Christ where they will find rest for their weary souls just as we have.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Remember Where We Started

I’ve longed for contentment. And yet, I've not fully found it yet. I’m goal oriented, which very likekly makes me more prone to being discontent. It's especially hard because the environment most Americans live in tells us to want it all and to expect it all.

God’s Word says we are to be content. In I Timothy 6 Paul says, Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing let us be content.

Like all human beings I came into this world with nothing; in fact I was naked and didn’t even know it. All I cared about was keeping my tummy full (some things never change), staying warm and needing the touch of another human being. My mom and dad provided those things. Other expectations didn’t set in until much later.

Thinking back, I’ve wasted many hours dreaming of things I hoped to own or hoped to achieve. I’ve spent way too much time thinking about worthless pursuits. Sadly, if I’d focused more of my heart and brain on God and His ambitions for me I would have led a life that contained more contentment.

I’ve not given up on the pursuit of true happiness, which can only be found within God’s will. I turn my heart to Him more and more. He has the important things in mind, the things that really matter, like the lost and hurting souls in this world. He’s not so concerned about bigger paychecks or nicer homes or better cars.

Being human sometimes makes me feel small. If one is self-absorbed it makes for a small world. Often we lose sight of true riches, that of loving God and others well. What joy awaits us when we set our minds upon God and put feet to our faith. Then we are able to fulfill the great commission, to love others, and to be up to God's business instead of our own.

When we seek the Lord we will find Him, and there we will also discover joy and contentment, just as a baby does lying in its mother's arms.

Grace and peace to you from God.

I'll be at my daughter's wedding and then teaching at a writing conference. So, look for my next letter on August 4th.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Baseball Lessons

Two of my grandsons, Corey and Ezra, have waded into the adventure of playing baseball. Corey is nine. He and his teammates are learning the intricacies of the game. Many of them have been playing for several years and have already achieved quite a bit of proficiency. Ezra, is six and he plays Tee-ball. He and the other little guys on his team are just beginning to learn about the game. They’re having a lot of fun.

The two teams are nothing alike. Corey’s is striving to gain skill and to win. They compete with other teams and the coach is focused on training his kids. Sometimes there are flaring tempers and even tears of disappointment. Reaching for expertise is not a bad thing, but the boys are much more serious about the game than the Tee-ballers.

Ezra and his friends are beginners and just finding out what it’s like to be part of a team. They are mostly thinking about having fun. There is no score-keeping; all players bat and all of them play no matter what their ability. No one gets into trouble for a bad throw or for making an error. Kids twirl while in the field, or pick flowers or chase butterflies. They even lie down in the grass and stare at the sky. It’s all about having fun.

I’ve watched a fair number of games this summer. They’ve been a good teaching tool for me. I’m a Type A personality who wishes I were a Type B. I want to be on the tee-ball team, but I’m stuck on the baseball team. Every time I try to make the change guilt storms in telling me to get serious.

As I’ve watched my grandsons play ball and thought about the differences in how these two groups play the game I’ve also been thinking about how we live our lives. Some of us are driven and work too much and others of us just want to play.

Neither is good or bad, unless we fix ourselves into just one category. Life should be lived in balance. We do need to work hard, improve our skills and grow in knowledge. It’s kind of like playing baseball and getting to hit a line drive and then race to first base, our arms and legs pumping. It’s fun. But too much intensity will wear us out. We need to take time for playing, to stare at the clouds looking for the Indian Chief floating there or to listen and hear the quiet voice of God.

God speaks, but we don’t always hear. We’re too busy pushing through, intent upon some achievement or other. As the saying goes, “We need to stop and smell the roses.” Ahh, their fragrance is rich and pleasant; it quiets our soul . . . kind of like God.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Find a Place of Rest.

God speaks plainly about how we are to live. In Isaiah 30 He makes it quite clear.

Verse 3 says, But by trusting Pharaoh you will be humiliated and by depending on him you will be disgraced. Move on to Verse 15 where it offers a wonderful promise. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.

Life is difficult. There is so much going on and some of it is hard stuff. We all have troubles; we struggle to make sense of our lives and of our world. Our leaders let us down. But God says we don’t need to struggle. We have hope in Him. In Him there is confidence and rest.

When I place my trust in myself or in my government or my pastor or in . . . anything other than God, I will struggle. God offers me what I need. He will fight my battles and will keep me in a quiet place, if only I will seek Him.

We need to be sensible. We need to make wise choices. We need to pray. But the outcome is in God’s hands. We can trust Him and Him alone.

Grace and Peace to you from God.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Stop Fretting

Psalm 91:1-2 says, Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord; He alone is my refuge my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him.

I could probably write a book about fretting. I’ve done more than my share, especially in recent months. There’s been a lot going on around my place.

It’s human nature to worry. But that doesn’t make it okay. Psalm 91 tells us that we don’t need to be anxious if we belong to the Lord. Our bright ideas, our fretting, or trying to figure out solutions is not the answer. Oh, we can sort out a problem or handle a situation; God did give us brains after all. But there are things in life that can’t be changed. Still we try to fix them, and when we can’t we get anxious. We need to hand these situations over to God. He can handle them. If I’m afraid it means I’ve lost sight of the One who watches over me, the One who offers shelter and rest.

When we place our lives in His hands then we can trust that whatever comes our way is part of His greater plan. He’s big enough and wise enough to know what’s best.

So then, shall we approach God and rest in His shadow? He’s waiting for us.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Making our joy complete.

Philippians is a great book. When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi he wanted them to dig deep and examine their hearts.

Chapter two, verses 2 – 5 says, “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

We’ve all heard the adage “What would Jesus do?” Sadly, it’s become cliché and in some ways has lost its power. But cliché or not, this statement should make us think.

Paul tells the Philippians that their oneness of mind gives him joy. Living in unity pleases God. As His children we should think about His purpose rather than our own. However, society teaches that we ought to put ourselves first, and search for personal fulfillment. It's easy to fall into step with the world's ideals, especially when concurrence makes life all about us.

God disagrees with the world's view. He makes it clear we’re to look out for one another, to love and cherish each other. We're never supposed to look for opportunities to discredit or humiliate someone else or to take advantage of a weakness. I once had a pastor explain that sometimes Christians can be like sharks in bloodied water. Sadly, I’ve seen this, even among people I love. Even more sickening to me is that I’ve been a shark on more than one occasion. I'm thankful for a merciful God.

How lovely life would be if we could think like and live like Jesus. Can you imagine the beauty and peace in such a world?

I know a couple who live out the concept of putting others first. No matter what the issue, they always consider their spouse and what that person's needs may be. It can be something as simple as getting a drink for the other or allowing their spouse to choose the movie they'll watch that night, or it can be something as important as giving up their dream retirement so their partner can live close to family.

Of course no human gets it right all the time, except Christ, the God/man. He gave us the perfect example of what it looks like to put aside selfish ambitions and place others needs before our own. He served with humility and never forgot His Father’s wishes. God’s plan stood above all else. So much so that Christ, in obedience and humbleness, gave His life.

If Christ is our example, how then shall we live? Certainly not by seeking personal gratification or personal glory, but rather by desiring how to best serve The Father. Through obedience we shall find true joy.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--It's Who You Know.

While reading Isaiah 31:1-3 I was profoundly struck by the power God gives to those who believe. It begins with, What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

It is who you know that brings victory. My self-reliant personality can sometimes be a stumbling block for me. I want to fix things, to call in the experts, to get ‘it’ done right. God created me with a good mind and organizational skills, and I can usually figure out which expert to call when I need one. All that’s good, but my strengths can sometimes be weaknesses. I too often forget to call first on ‘The One’ who knows all things and can do all things.

Verse three in Isaiah 31 goes on to say, For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the Lord raises his fist against them, those who help will stumble, and those being helped will fall. They will all fall down and die together.

No expert, no specialist, not even the most spiritually mature person we know is as powerful or as knowledgeable as The King. It’s clearly stated; He strikes down puny flesh. When we stand we will prevail only if our army is God’s army. If we stand in our own strength we will soon discover how frail and worthless our power is.

So, may we be true conquerors, remembering that nothing is too difficult for God. He will deliver us from our foes.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Who or What Defines You?

Recently when referring to myself I said, “I’ve been old since I was thirty-nine.” The statement stayed with me. And gradually I got a glimpse of how I view myself. I didn’t like what I saw.

In 1991 a log truck hit the van I was driving. In a moment, my life changed. I wasn’t the person I’d always been. I was altered, physically, emotionally and spiritually. What I couldn’t understand then was how profoundly the accident would impact my life. God, being who He is, brought many good things to me through the challenges that followed. But life, being what it is, also brought harm.

For seventeen years, I’ve fought to embrace the new me. When I made the statement about being old, I realized that I’ve been giving the accident too much freedom in my life. I’ve allowed it to define who I am.

I’m all for adversity building strength and character, but there can also be negative effects from hardships. In some ways my thinking has been sightless.

It is Christ who defines me, no one else. At least that’s the way it should be.

We all need to see ourselves through God’s eyes. We’re not walking accidents or hobbling cripples. Even when our stride is weak or a bit gimpy that doesn’t mean we’re not strong in Him, or that we’re someone other than who He intended us to be.

The accident changed my life, but I’m still me. I’m still that person who loved to ride horses, who played in the surf, who split firewood and helped build my home. I can’t do those things anymore, but I remember the joy of a strong, active body. And when I'm thinking straight I remember that there’s a lot more to me than just physical activities and pain free days.

Sometimes, unnecessarily, we leave behind the things we love. Maybe we ought to consider what we can still do rather than think about what we can’t do. I can still be a good friend, still worship, cheer at my grandson’s baseball games, and I can still drive a boat across a mountain lake. And most importantly, Christ lives in me and spurs me on to live for Him.

Life is full of fun and surprises. Yes, I have limitations, but don’t we all?

What is it that defines you? Does God agree with your definition? If you’re not sure, then go to The One who has the answer. He’s dying to tell you.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Never Make Assumptions

My grandson, Corey, decided to play baseball this year. It’s his first time to be part of an organized sport. He’s a good athlete and we figured he’d have no difficulties picking up the game.

It’s not been as easy as we thought. There are many skills to be learned and the intricacies of the game don’t settle into place without a lot of experience. It’s been a challenge for Corey because most of his teammates have been playing for at least three years. Also, Corey’s small, really small. We knew that but didn’t completely understand just how little he is until he ran out on the field with the rest of the team.

Still, it’s been a good season. Corey’s worked hard and he’s learned a lot. His skills and knowledge of the game have grown tremendously.

His coach is a good guy, but he made an assumption about Corey’s skills. Corey has spent most of his games in right field. He’s longed to do something more, but when he's asked for permission to try something new he’s usually been turned down. At last night’s game the coach, for some reason, decided to let Corey play catcher and learned a valuable lesson about assumptions.

Corey has wanted to catch for some time. (The team needs a good catcher.) For weeks the coach turned a deaf ear to his appeals at a chance, assuming Corey couldn’t do it. But last night he gave the littlest kid on the team an opportunity. As it turns out, Corey’s a natural for the position. His size and agility are a perfect combination for the position behind the batter. He had a great game.

Corey hadn’t been behind home plate long when both coaches were beaming and shaking their heads in amazement. And I figure they were kicking themselves for not giving him the opportunity sooner. We have only a week and a half left in the season. They’d made a wrong assumption. We all do from time to time.

Assumptions can rob us of special opportunities, the treat of using unique gifts, of experiencing good times, and maybe even years of service to God. Too often we assume we can’t do something, that we’re not qualified or not gifted enough. Or we may wrongly believe that God wouldn’t ask that of us. And we miss out, too afraid to take a risk.

Next time you make an assumption, stop yourself and check with God. Maybe he has something unusual in mind, maybe even something bigger than we can imagine or hope for. Remember, He can do all things.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Valuable Lessons

My husband and I live in the country. We raised our family here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but trouble lurks in the greenery. A succulent green-leafed plant thrives in the forests and lowlands, just waiting for the unsuspecting.

We hadn’t lived here long when I was first introduced to poison oak. I learned, first hand, that beauty sometimes conceals malice. But that’s a topic for another day. Today I want to talk about learning lessons.

I was extremely allergic to poison oak and quickly learned to stay away from it. My son, on the other hand, had to learn his lesson more than once.

Like me, he was tremendously sensitive to the oil on the plant’s leaves and was often covered in the horrible, weeping rash that comes from contact. Some summers it seemed I spent hours every week, dabbing Calamine lotion on the fiery red rashes on my son’s flesh.

One night after tucking him into bed and settling down for prayers, he asked me to pray for his most recent outbreak. Of course I did, but when the rash didn’t immediately disappear he asked, “Why doesn’t God heal me?”

It’s one of those questions that isn’t easily answered. Often, we don’t know why God does or does not heal. That evening, though, I think God gave me a good answer for my son . . . and for me. I told Paul, “If God heals every time you get into the poison oak do you think you’ll learn to stay out of it? Maybe this is His way of teaching you to avoid the plant and some of the other barbs in your life.”

Understanding dawned on his young face and he said with a hint of disappoint, “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”

After that, I don’t recall him ever having another bad case of poison oak. It seems he learned his lesson.

What about the lessons in our lives? What is God trying to teach us? Are we angry about his teaching tools and therefore missing the point? Over the years, I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons, some numerous times. But when I remember that evening with my son I am reminded that sometimes “fixing” a situation only means I’ll miss important instructions from my Lord.

God doesn’t fix everything and with good cause. And so I offer Him thanks even for things like poison oak.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Father Knows Best

How many of you remember the television program from the 60’s called "Father Knows Best"? I’ve got my hand raised. I loved that show! Robert Young played the father, Jim Anderson, who watched over his family, which consisted of his wife Margaret and three children, Betty, Bud and Kathy.

The program created a nearly perfect image of an American family. It presented a home life most of us would long for. The Andersons went about everyday activities in an idyllic way. They had their troubles, like all families do, but they met difficulties together and everything always turned out fine. And of course, Father always knew best.

The program may not have portrayed the reality of today’s typical family but it gave us a picture of what we all desire, a life lived with faith and trust in the ones we love and who love us back. I think the program is a good picture of the absolute trust a child should have in a father.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the
Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope
and a future.”

The Lord is the Father we long for, the one who loves us no matter what we do, the one we can trust and who always has our best interests at heart. With a Dad like that we don’t need to fear tomorrow. So, why do we? The answers to that question are as varied as the human race, but one overriding reason, I believe, is that we've forgotten how to trust.

God says He knows the plans He has for us. It seems to me that whatever He’s laid out must be the very best. So, if we can learn to trust in His good judgment and live our lives accordingly we ought to attain all the good things He wants for us. Good does not necessarily mean easy or painless, but when we conquer a mountain with God cheering us on even the painful experiences in life can be embraced.

May we look to Him and experience hope and peace, knowing that our future is secure.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--A Heavenly Command

While reading Colossians 3:1-17 several verses jumped out at me. Verse three says “Put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Verse fourteen says, "Put on love." The following verses 12 – 13 continue with, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Put to death is not a suggestion. It is a command. God does not command us to do something we cannot do. In light of that, we must be capable of fulfilling His will in these areas.

The consequences of not obeying His decree is frightening. Verse six says, Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. Clearly God is opposed to sin, and He will justly punish those who do sin.

So where does that leave the believer? Thankfully, we are covered by the blood of Christ and will not have to pay the ultimate price for our sin, but will stand before The Father pure and blameless.

Nevertheless, that does not give us license to do “whatever” we please. He says we are to put to death what belongs to our earthly nature. We must steadfastly face our sin and thrust a sword into the heart of it. We may not face wrath, but there will be consequences for unrestrained transgressions. Just as a father disciplines his children so God disciplines us.

Fulfilling the second command in these verses, to Put on Love, is vital to everything we hope to do in this world and the next. Without love we cannot clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. First Corinthians spells out just who we are without love. It says we are a clanging cymbal, we are nothing, and we cannot gain anything without love.

The love of Christ is accessible to us all, but first we must believe in His sacrifice and accept His gift of salvation. Only then will we be able to do all He asks of us.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Let go.

If I were to take a test that indicated my stress level it would probably be off the scale. I'm a type "A" personality and life demands a lot from me, from most of us. There is always something going on. Presently I have all the usual--work, family, health issues, and things like gasoline prices. My husband and I are also building a house (never again), and my daughter is getting married in July. The wedding is good news, but as is often the case weddings also mean stress. My body doesn't much like stress and sometimes it tells me so.

There is a prayer called the Serenity Prayer, which says "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Wise words we all should heed. Sometimes we simply need to let go.

There's so much about this life that we truly have no say about, things we cannot change no matter how much we may wish they were different. When we come face to face with these realities the healthiest response would be to accept the circumstances and offer them to God.

I've never seen a day of worry make anything better. But I've certainly seen it make things worse.

God waits to hear from us. He can contend with all of our troubles and disappointments. He's got everything under control. After all, He holds the world so perfectly in the universe that life thrives without our having to do a thing. So, what can we do that He can't?

To coin a phrase, "Don't worry. Be Happy."

Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie Leon

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Slave or Free?

In the book, “My Utmost For His Highest” Oswald Chambers states,"If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth."

I’ve been giving in to my “inner child” all my life. Oswald is right; those things that rule our lives enslave. I groan at the weaknesses that keep me from living in the place God desires for me. Sin shackles.

The way to freedom is to yield to Christ. My spirit says, "Yes," but my flesh says, "No." Sadly, there is still so much I have not yet yielded.

I seek God’s forgiveness and offer my life to Him, but the battle goes on--flesh against spirit. Even the apostle Paul fought this war. In Romans 7:19 he said, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing."

Here on earth humans will not know perfection, but we are not without hope. Christ offers us a future that is free of sin. His death made it possible for us to, one day, stand before God holy and blameless.

The song “I Can Only Imagine,” lifts me above the restraints of the world. I am reminded that one day I will stand before my Lord and know absolute freedom from sin. In awe I shall stand and then I will dance, surrounded by God’s glory.

I can only imagine.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tips For Triumphant Living--Getting there from here.

If you’re like me you want everything today, or better yet, yesterday. Patience is not an area of strength for me. I want it and I want it now! There’s a commercial on television with a number of people saying this and every time I hear it I cringe. Perhaps because it reminds me of me.

Sanctification is something that takes time—a lifetime. It can be painful and it requires patience.

The moment we trust in Christ we are justified or made right. Christ’s sacrifice does this for us; it is not a process, but happens in a moment of belief. What follows justification is what’s tough, the growing in holiness, becoming more like Christ. It’s not easy. Sometimes I feel like a piece of fruit in an apple press. Ouch!

We are like a chunk of coal with hope of becoming a diamond.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into his glorious image."

So those of us who have placed our faith in Christ and who can now see the truth shall be transformed. What really astounds me is that it goes on to say that we will be transformed into HIS likeness. If that is God’s promise, then the process of sanctification is well worth the pain. And so I say, “Thank you Lord.”

This transformation comes with another promise, that it will be completed. Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ."

God will not drop the ball. He promises to finish what he began.

When we welcome the process, we set aside self and with our will out of the way God’s will can be fulfilled. When I was a young Christian I knew I needed to give myself completely to God. This truth tugged at my heart. I knew it needed to happen. But I was afraid. What if He wanted something from me that was too difficult?

One day I realized that no matter what God wanted it was the best. I was suddenly released from the fear. What could be better than the best? And so finally I said, “Okay God, whatever you want that’s what I want.”

My life changed. There were no trumpets announcing the transformation, but my walk became steadier, more fulfilling and I experienced the joy of being used more completely by God.

When we hand ourselves over to Him, we can expect good stuff, the very best. So, let the refining begin.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Don't Be a Follower

Aren’t we told to follow? Yes—Christ, but not necessarily people.

Years ago, when picnicking with friends at a nearby river, I followed when I should have stood my ground. We were having a fine time until it was decided everyone should go swimming. I knew the spot chosen wasn’t safe, especially not for children. I voiced my qualms, but was pooh-poohed. I gave in.

The little ones waded in a quiet pool at the edge of the river. The danger lay in a strong current that ran alongside the pool. With ferocity it coursed into the main channel. My son, Paul, was only seven but he wanted to be like the “big boys” and pushed the limits of his permitted swimming area.

After warning him several times to stay clear of the current he took one step too many into dangerous waters and was caught by the surge, which pulled him toward what would be almost certain death. He wasn’t a strong swimmer, but he fought hard. Several of us charged in after him. As I made my way my prayer was nothing more than absolute dependency on the Lord and a shriek of, “God!”

By the time I reached Paul three people were already unsuccessfully fighting the river’s pull, trying to get him to safety. It seemed we would all drown. Then my feet found a foot hold that helped me keep my chin just above water and offered leverage. I managed to grab one of the rescuers hands who had a tight grasp on my son’s shirt. I wrenched him toward me and together we pulled Paul to safety.

When I gathered my little boy into my arms I was filled with a flood of emotions. I was furious with him for disobeying, disappointed in myself for yielding to others so unwisely, and filled with gratitude for God’s protective and loving hand. For days afterward the scene reeled through my mind and I grappled with what had almost happened and why.

There were many mistakes made that day, but what held my thoughts most was my failure to protect my child. I’d known better than to allow the children to play in dangerous waters, but was afraid to disagree with the voices of others.

In Isaiah 8:11-13 it says, The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: Do not fear what they fear and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”

We are human and therefore can be swayed by the pull of the world. It takes strength to stand against what is seen as acceptable. Remembering that we do not stand alone, that the God of the universe stands with us, should strengthen our resolve and our courage. My son fought against the force of the river and managed to hang on. I fought the tide of opinion and failed to prevail.

It was a powerful lesson. I have no doubt we are called to remain strong in the Lord, to stand for what is true and right. Scripture says we are either for Him or we are against Him. If it is this simple, then what can we do but choose our Lord above all else?

Therefore, seek Him, know Him, and honor Him. There is no other way toward fulfillment for believers. There is much at stake, more than we can know. It was my weakness that nearly cost my son his life. As followers of Christ, we need to consider what our spiritual weakness may cost us and others.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Soaking and Souring?

Marcus Antonius said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

My mother used to make what some considered to be “the best pickles”. I never did understand why. They weren’t my favorite food. It doesn’t make sense to pick fresh, crisp cucumbers and soak them in brine until they turn soft and sour. Some say that soaking and souring changes a fresh vegetable into something delicious. I don’t agree, at least not in this instance.

We humans also soak and sour. How you ask? By dwelling on the negative. How often have we set our minds on a wrong done to us or a mistake we ourselves have committed. What good comes from deliberately pondering on the destructive things in life? I can’t think of even one instance when it made something better.

Philippians chapter four, verses 8-9 says, Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul’s words couldn’t be more clear. The dwelling we do should be on the excellent things in life. We need to get our minds off ourselves, off our circumstances and on God’s goodness. This kind of thinking can transform us from someone who soaks and sours to someone who lives with a heart full of praise.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quite Moments With God--Look For Him

The world is a scary place. There are wars and famine. Terrorists are biting at humanitie's heels. Here in America the family structure seems to be coming apart. And the world economy is unpredictable and threatens to unseat us from our throne of prosperity.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. Some days we may feel like finding a dark cave where we can hide, a place that seems safe from the dangers and demands of our world.

The Lord is coming . . . one day. In I Thessalonians 5:1 – 11 it talks about the day our Lord will return. Oh how I long for His coming. But . . . what should I be about while I wait?

Scripture says, The Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety”, destruction will come on them suddenly as labor pains in a pregnant woman.

I ask again, “What should we be up to until He comes?” God’s Word tells us, we should not be ignorant about those days and to be watching. It also says, We do not belong to the darkness but we belong to the day. We should be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

It is our faith and love that protects us from the evil one. Have faith in our Lord who loves us and who will keep us from wrath. We need not fear. Instead live lives that are filled with faith, hope and love. To do so, will enable us to trust in God and reach out to others, sharing our faith with those who do not know Christ.

People want to know. They long for a God who loves them and who has provided a way of salvation. We can tell them what Christ did for us and that he lived and died so we can spend eternity with our Heavenly Father.

We also must encourage fellow believers. These are difficult days and we need each other; we can help hold one another steady in the midst of the storm. We’re never alone; Christ is with us always and we have a family that is so huge their number cannot be counted.

So . . . while we wait what is our niche? What is God calling us to do? Find out and then do it.

The hour draws near. May we watch and wait with expectation.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Seek God First.

Life is filled with diversions. Days are packed with work and parenting and grandparenting. We make time for our friends and our church and sometimes for our community. And for activities that are wasters of time. And when the day is done, we fall into bed craving sleep—no time for prayer, no time for Him.

How do we begin our days? Do we crawl from bed and hurry to get to our busy schedules? Are we moving in such haste that we forget to take time to speak with Him?

Our Lord waits for us. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

What is Jesus speaking of? The preceding verses talk about our day-to-day needs, our worries—what shall we eat and drink, what shall we wear? Christ assures us that we’re not to worry about the things in the world. Instead we are to seek Him and He will see to our needs as he does for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air.

What is it that steals our attention away from Christ? Most of us can name that something or something’s immediately. We know what they are, the activities that drag us away from quality time we could spend with our Lord, our children, spouses, family and friends.

We need to kick out those distractions that steal rather than give. I have my list of empty diversions.

I’m convinced if we do as Jesus says and seek first His Kingdom, above all else, then all the rest will be given to us; all that is good and beneficial for us and for the world. If only we’ll seek Him first.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Power in The Word

In my reading today I came across an interesting verse, most likely one that has sparked vigorous discussions. The disciples were committed to the truth, which is one of the reasons this verse stands out to me.

Phillippians 1:17-18 says, "The former (those who preach Christ out of envy and rivalry) preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

Amazing words. Paul rejoices in Christ being preached even when the motive is ALL wrong. This raises a question for me. How often do I/we feel at odds with “the church down the street” because they do things a little differently than we do or their motives seem out of line?

Paul does not mince words, but states clearly that no matter what the motives, God’s Word is vibrant and living. No matter who is speaking, if Christ is preached it’s good. I’m not advocating heresy; heretical doctrine cannot be supported. But that doesn’t mean we’re to spend our time scrapping over the differences in our faith, or our music or teaching styles.

If I’m to be completely honest, my own motives are not always what they should be. How often do any of us have absolutely pure motives? Don’t we sometimes hope to get something for what we give? Whether it’s a thank you or admiration, or status or . . . The list is long. Therefore, if we who endeavor to serve the Lord with pure hearts cannnot manage to do that, then who are we to judge someone else’s motives?

If we keep our focus on Christ and not on each other's shortcomings there will be less strife, which will naturally create more time to accomplish God’s will. I say our time is better spent serving, loving, and teaching God’s Word rather than sniping at each other.

Over the years, I've visited many churches. In some the preacher spoke in a way that was foreign to me, too theatrical or too subdued. Worship music has many faces. Does that make one that's different from what we're used to any less worshipful? I've listened to preachers who I felt were more interested in the money they could pull in than saving souls, which saddens me, but doesn't diminish the wonder of God's Word.

Shall we work together, side-by-side preaching Christ? We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. There is power in The Word. Power to change lives!

And so I say, "Amen to brotherhood and forbearance."

Grace and Peace to you from God.