Our family’s Christmas decorations include trees and lights, candles and wreaths, and several nativity sets scattered throughout the house. This year, I thought it would be fun to have my two-year-old grandson, James, help me set up the manger scenes, partly because he enjoys animals so much. While we worked, he named the animals and the sounds they made, but one thing that surprised me was his fascination with Baby Jesus, not only then, but also during the days leading up to Christmas. Continue reading “Captivated by Christ”
I grew up going to church practically every time the doors were opened. In fact, my dad was one of the holders of the church keys, so we were often the first ones there or the last ones to leave. I have many fond memories of that church building. It was there I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was there I made my public profession of faith in Jesus as a child and was subsequently baptized by the pastor and my dad (a deacon) in a local pond on a church member’s farm. It was there I was asked to serve as the church pianist at age 15 because there was no one else to play. It was in that little building I committed to live the rest of my life with my husband at age 22.
Church. A place where a congregation of about 120 felt like a big extended family. A place where I learned about Jesus and His Word. A place around which our entire lives seemed to revolve. We didn’t belong to a country club or civic group. We had family and we had church. But is “church” merely a place to attend? Or is it more than that?
Recently, I had the opportunity to read The Jesus Paradigm by David Alan Black. In his book, Dr. Black challenges us to take a hard look at the way we “do church” and compare it with the example Jesus gives us in the Bible. Continue reading “Recommended Reading: The Jesus Paradigm”
When I was growing up, summertime promised a break from school and homework, but it also meant separation from most of my school friends who I didn’t see otherwise. I could be excited about the summer break, or find reasons to be sad. It’s all about perspective: Would I view it as an adventure to enjoy or as a desolate wilderness to muddle through?
As Christians, we have very great and precious promises available to us (2 Peter 1:3). Jesus offers forgiveness, everlasting love, reconciliation to God, a coming restoration of all things. But He also promised we will have troubles (John 16:33), seasons in the “wilderness,” so to speak. Like my attitude toward childhood summers, we must choose whether we will view these challenging times as an adventure to enjoy or as a desolate wilderness to muddle through. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10) and full joy (John 15:11), so we don’t need to settle for “muddling through” anything. Continue reading “Rejoicing in the “Wilderness””
Consider this a book review. My personal opinion.
I just read Vance Pitman’s book: Unburdened: Stop Living for Jesus So Jesus Can Live Through You and it is a life-changing read! So many of us, as followers of Christ, feel that we have to follow rules and be perfect to be sure of our salvation. In essence we say we are saved by faith but kept by works, saved by grace, but sanctified by works. We can get caught in the trap of focusing on the works we do as Believers, rather than focusing on Christ Himself.
In his book, Pitman challenges us to abide in Jesus through simple and pure devotion to Him. He teaches that the life of a Jesus-follower ought to look like the life of Christ because as we abide in Him, He lives through us. Pitman’s study of the Gospels of the Bible revealed that Jesus’ life was centered on relationships with God the Father, with His disciples, and with the world. Relationships, not religion. Continue reading “Recommended Reading: Unburdened: Stop Living for Jesus So Jesus Can Live Through You”
Many of us may be glad to see 2020 to come to an end. COVID-19 flooded the world with illness, suffering, death, grief, economic losses, social distancing, depression, anxiety, and fear.
The COVID “flood” reminds me of another worldwide flood recorded in the Bible. Continue reading “Good Bye 2020!”
The background photo on our website speaks hope to me. The vibrant flowers catch your eye at first, but behind them in the distance towers the remains of Mount St. Helens, a volcano which erupted in May 1980, covering the area in lava and filling the air with ashes. I recall as a child witnessing on TV the devastation caused by its powerful eruption, and in 2017, my family visited the site to see it for ourselves. Continue reading “Hope from the Ashes”
Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re such a warrior.” Maybe it was her Southern accent, or maybe it was my poor hearing, but I didn’t hear “warrior.” I heard “worrier.” So, my response to her was, “Well, I used to be, but I’m not any more. God rescued me from the pit of worry.” She was puzzled by my response and spelled it out for me: “W-a-r-r-i-o-r, not worrier!”
Me? A warrior?
I’ve shared before about my struggles with worrying (read more in “The War with Worry”), and the Lord has done a great work in me. He has rewired the way I think. No longer do I jump headfirst into the deep end of the pool of worries and woes. No longer do I let my thoughts run over the cliff like a runaway train with no bridge ahead. How did He do it? It was a process, for sure, but the final blow to my habit of worrying came through the gift of cancer. Continue reading “From Worrier to Warrior”
I was driving in the rain and noticed flashes of light out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought there was lightning accompanying the rain, but then I realized there was no thunder. The flashes of light were always in the same spot, and they continued even after I was back at home and inside the house. These flashes were happening within my right eye. The eye doctor confirmed that this is quite common among people my age, and so far my eyesight has not been impaired.
Eyesight is something we can take for granted. If we lose it, our lifestyle is impacted in every way – no more driving, and we have to learn new ways of doing practically everything from reading to cooking to walking without injuring ourselves or someone else. Eyesight is precious for our physical lives, but also vital to our spiritual lives.
What we see, where we gaze, matters. Continue reading “A Flash of Light”
It’s February and love is in the air! Red roses and heart-shaped boxes of candy greet shoppers as they enter the stores. Bright reds and pinks flood the aisles of greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is all about love, and about taking the time to express love to the special people in your life.
All of this reminds me of my childhood and the love notes that kids passed to each other in school. A scrap of notebook paper, folded into a tiny wad bore this simple message: “I love you. Do you love me? Check one box (yes or no).” The one writing the note was putting himself out there to be accepted or rejected. It took guts to put his name on a note like that and pass it to his beloved, watching with great anticipation or trepidation as she discreetly unfolded the note, read it, and checked one of the boxes. What would her answer be? Continue reading “A Love Note From God”
At this time of year, nearly everywhere we go we see signs of Christmas. We like to drive through our community, turn on some Christmas music, and enjoy the decorations that adorn the yards and houses. Twinkling lights of various colors hang on bushes and trees and outline the houses. There are evergreen wreaths embellished with red and gold ribbons, candles glowing in the windows, and Christmas trees overflowing with gifts of all sizes and shapes. Yards are filled with large plastic or inflatable characters, from Santa and snowmen to the Nativity with Baby Jesus at the center – the baby who was also known as the King of the Jews.