Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections on 2009 and for 2010

The past year has passed quickly. Our retirement did not start as we had planed. Helen became ill and spent nine days in the hospital the week after we moved to our new home. It took her several weeks to recover from the problem she had. It also delayed her ability to get her new home to look as she wanted it to. Thank you for your prayers during that difficult time. With God’s help that was behind us by mid spring and we were able to get into a more predictable rhythm.

We have enjoyed being near our grandchildren but we have found we must be careful or we will not have a schedule we can call our own. Between, school activities, church activities, ball games, musical presentations and a variety of other events, family has kept us busy. It has been a good busy however and we have enjoyed the freedom to do retirement has allowed us.

As you know, I did not retire to sit. I have been working hard to develop the ideas I believe God has given me for Entrusted Ministries. It has been slow going but I believe progress is being made. It looks like 2010 will give me greater opportunities to work for the State Convention in the Revitalization Department. I also hope to be able to do more teaching in the coming year.
I have completed seven months as interim at Durbin Creek Baptist Church. The folks have been gracious to Helen and me. My role has been more as supply preacher than full interim. My commitment to them ends at the close of the year, but I plan to continue with them into 2010. They understand, if an opportunity comes that would allow me to use more of the training I have received in the past couple of years, I will consider it.

As we enter 2010, please continue to pray for my discernment in regards to what God wants me to do in my preaching, teaching, and consulting ministry. This is still where my heart is. Pray, I will not become impatient with the progress it makes and will wait patiently for the Lord to work out the details.

There are two other special prayer requests I have. First, pray I will discipline myself to spend more time on writing in the coming year. I find myself too easily distracted. I believe there are two books in my head, if I can concentrate on putting them on paper. The first is another book of reflections. The second is book on the Vital Signs of a Healthy Church. If I am going to be successful in accomplishing this, I will need all the prayer I can get.

The second request is of a more personal nature. The back pain I have experienced the past six months has hindered my workout routine. As a result I have gained far too much weight. Pray I will have the self-discipline to exercise and diet over the nest year. I would really like to loose 35 pounds.

Helen and I want each one of you to know that you are a vital part of our ministry. The confidence we have that you are faithfully praying for us gives us great anticipation of what God is going to do in the future. Please continue to pray for us daily and let us hear from you from time to time, especially if you have special prayer requests.

May you and your family have a Happy and blest New Year.

Reflection - December 30, 2009

Someone once said that you could tell more about a person from their checkbook and their calendar than from anything else they have. The reasoning for such a statement is simple. People spend their time and money on the things that are really important to them. There is another important gauge of a person that is much more difficult to identify. If you can determine the things that a person thinks about all the time, you can know who they really are.

It has also been said that we become what we think. This line of thinking prompted William Barclay to write, “This is something of utmost importance, because it is the law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it.” In other words, our thoughts can consume our time and energy and can go along way toward determining who we are going to become.

If our thoughts are this important, it would behoove each one of us to make a resolution at the beginning of this year to think right thoughts during the coming year. In Philippians 4:8 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (NASV) While Paul was not writing a New Years Resolution, it would not be a bad idea for each one of us to adapt this verse and make it our resolution for 2010.

If we are serious about such a resolution, it will affect our lives dramatically. It will effect where we go, what we watch, what we read, and what we hear. The results of this resolution being kept would be changed lives. Lives that are changed positively would mean happier homes and better communities. Considering the possible benefits, it is a resolution worth at least thinking about. After all, if you think about it enough, it may become who you are.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections - December 23, 2009

"Christmas Is For Everyone"

The account of the birth of Jesus is found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Matthew records the story of the wise men and Luke the story of the shepherds. The two accounts present a wonderful contrast. The wise men were men of great wealth. They had all that money could afford. The shepherds were common men. They were simple working people. While the former brought valuable gifts to the Christ child, the latter brought only their praise and worship.

It does not matter what your economic situation is; it does not matter what race you are; it does not matter what nationality you are; nor does it matter what part of the world you are from. Christmas is for everyone who is willing to stand in amazement at the birth of the Christ.

To really appreciate the full meaning of Christmas, it is important to look beyond the tiny stable in Bethlehem. As we gaze at the tiny baby in the manger, we need to look forward to the city of Jerusalem and to a hill called Calvary. At Calvary He fulfills His purpose for coming. At Calvary, He will die for the sins of the world. He alone could do such a thing, because He had led the perfect life. He would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man.

His death on the cross did not complete the full story of Christmas. We need to extend our gaze to the empty tomb. It is the empty tomb that placed a stamp of validation upon all the claims He had made. It is His resurrection that finalizes His victory over death. It is His resurrection that provides the blessed hope that belongs to all those who place their trust in Him.

As we continue to reflect on the manger, we need to see beyond His resurrection to another beautiful scene. We need to see the group of His followers who watched in wonder as He ascended into the heavens to take His rightful place with the Father. As we observe the scene we need to hear and to believe the words that the angels spoke, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

When we are able to see this full picture, we will experience the full meaning of this wonderful birth that took place so long ago. My prayer is that all will see beyond the manger to the entire story. For this story in its entirety is the hope for all mankind

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reflections - December 17, 2009

"The Gift of Abundant Life"

Most of us have given a gift to someone only to have them lay it aside, making it clear he/she was not interested or appreciative of what we have offered. In such situations, my initial response is either hurt or anger. When Jesus came, God gave us the gift of His Son. His gift was for this life as well as the life to come. In this life Jesus offers us joy, peace and abundance. (If you have not read the past two reflections go back and read about the joy and peace Jesus offers.) Having read of the joy and peace God offers us, read of the abundant life He wants us to have. How it must grieve Him, when we do not open these preci0us gifts and let them minister to our spirits.

In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” To fully understand the meaning of this statement, we must understand the words came, life and abundantly. Christmas is about the coming of Christ. He is the incarnation of God. He is the Word become flesh. He came from glory. His coming is about God stepping from the realms of eternity into the realm of time.

He came that we might have life. The implication is that without Him there is no life. The life of which He speaks is obviously not physical. It is spiritual. Paul expresses it this way in Ephesians 2:4,5, “But God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ(by grace you have been saved),” Christ came from glory to provide away for us to become spiritually alive. The life that He gives restores us to the relationship with our Heavenly Father that had been broken by sin.

He also came that we might have abundant life. The word abundant means full to overflowing. Abundant life is not about possessions. It is about the inner satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are loved and accepted by your Creator. It is being filled with the eternal hope that Christ brings to us. It is never being hopeless. It is to know you possess something that no one can take from you. It is the culmination of the joy, peace and hope that Christ provides for those who follow Him and are obedient to His Word.

The world is starved for these gifts but when it observes how few Christians have opened them and allowed them access to their lives, the world questions whether they are real or not. My Christmas prayer for each one of us is that we will yield our life to Christ and let His gifts of joy, peace and abundant life light up our lives, making it possible for those around us to see the “Reason for the Season’ displayed in our actions. To do so will not only bless us personally, it will bless those around us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reflections - December 9, 2009

"The Gift of Peace"

This is the season of the year that we sing about “peace on earth and good will toward men”. However, when we log onto the daily news, we are reminded that there is little peace on earth. Whether it is the fighting in Afghanistan, the problems in the Middle East, our ongoing war on terror, tribal conflict in Africa or dozens of other trouble spots around the world, there seems to be little peace. When you add to these conflicts the racial hatred, domestic violence, violent crime, and a general ill will between so many people, it appears that the words “peace on earth and good will toward men” have little or no meaning for our world today.

A part of the problem is that we do not understand the biblical meaning of peace. To most people, peace means the absence of conflict, but in biblical days it had a much deeper meaning. The Old Testament meaning referred to the completeness, soundness and well being of the total person. Peace was considered a gift from God for those who obeyed the Law. The Jewish greeting Shalom is a wish for this peace in the life of the individual. The New Testament meaning refers to the inner tranquility of the Christian brought about by the reconciliation of the believer with his/her God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This is the peace Jesus spoke about when He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”(John 14:27 NASB) Jesus’ life was the perfect example of the peace God’s wishes for each of us to experience. He was attacked from all directions, but He never lost the inner tranquility of heart that comes from being at perfect peace with the heavenly Father. This is the peace that He brings to us today. Through Him, we can be reconciled with the heavenly Father and we can be the recipients of the peace that He offers.

At this point you may ask, “What does this have to do with “peace on earth and good will toward men”? The answer is simple. Before men will ever have a lasting peace between themselves, they must first be at peace with God. It is peace with God that prepares us to be at peace with each other. Peace with God is the gift that Jesus brings to us. He is the only One that can bring lasting peace to the world.

This Christmas make sure that you unwrap the gift of peace. Give Jesus first place in your life. Let Him provide you with the inner tranquility that He desires you to have. Let Him make John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace, in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”, become a reality in your life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reflections - December 2, 2009

"The Gift Of Joy"

The next three weeks I plan to write about three wonderful gifts each one of us can receive this Christmas. These are gifts that were promised by Jesus two thousand years ago. They are the gifts of joy, peace and abundant living. For believers, these gifts are all ready theirs. They need only open the package and follow the directions to appropriate them in their lives. For those who do not believe, they are available by simply opening their hearts and receiving them by faith.

The first gift is joy. It is important that we do not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is determined by circumstances. It comes and goes as circumstances change. The joy that Christ gives is internal. It is not built upon circumstances, but it is built upon a humble acceptance of Christ’s love and a willing obedience to His word. It is only when we abide in Him and walk with Him daily that we can experience His joy.

The joy of Christ is that internal excitement that allowed Paul and Silas to pray and to sing praise unto their God from their prison cell. It is the joy that prompted the German Christian martyr, Herman Lange, to write these words to his parents just prior to his execution by the Nazis in W.W.II, “I am, first, in a joyous mood, and second, filled with great anticipation. In Christ I have put my faith, and precisely today I have faith in Him more firmly than ever. Look where you will, everywhere you will find jubilation over the grace that makes us children of God. What can befall a child of God? Of what should I be afraid? On the contrary, I rejoice.”The joy of Paul and Silas and of Herman Lange is not automatic for the believer, but it is available to every believer. It comes from a lifetime of abiding in Christ.

A believer who is filled with the joy of Christ is like popcorn. Ordinary corn placed in a skillet and heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit simply dries up and gets hard. Popcorn reacts totally different to heat. When it is heated to 400 degrees, it expands and breaks open its tough outer shell. This allows the pure white pulp to burst forth into an edible treat that is many times the size of the kernel, and it is a eating delight of young and old alike.

The parallel to life is clear. When the heat of life’s trials comes, many people shrivel up and become embittered. For those who humble themselves and walk with Christ, adversity becomes a catalyst for them to enlarge and burst forth with blessings for those around them.

If you are a believer reading this article, and you do not have the joy of Christ at this time, don’t let Christmas pass you by without renewing this wonderful gift that Christ gives to all who are willing to follow Him. Renew your commitment to Him and begin the New Year believing that He will help you overcome whatever your obstacles may be.

If you are a seeker, don’t let this Christmas season pass you by without at least considering the possibility of receiving this wonderful gift that Christ wishes to give to you. If you have questions about how to receive the gift of Christ, I would be happy to talk with you about them. You may reach me at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reflections for November 25, 2009

"Giving Thanks"

For most people, Thanksgiving through New Years is the busiest time of the year,.This year the shopping, feasting, rushing, ball games, family gatherings, and other activities may be less, because of the economic downturn we are suffering. However, I imagine most of us will still find enough things to do to leave us exhausted when it is over.

If our celebration is dampened by the bad economic news of late, we can choose to wallow in self pity or we can use the situation to lead us to count the blessing we do have. Regardless of our financial situation, we can experience the wonder of God’s bountiful gifts of grace and the wonder of God’s incarnation displayed to us in the birth of the Christ Child. We can appreciate our faith, family and friends. These are the blessings that last.

We can experience these things when we see our world through God eyes. He wants us to see a reason for thanksgiving in every circumstance. His Word admonishes us to, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB). There is a big difference between being thankful for something and being thankful in something. While I may not appreciate a circumstance in my life, I can give thanks for not having to endure it alone. I can know God is always present and He is able to bring good out of the worst of situations.

I can be thankful God does not change whether I am in the middle of a crisis or on a mountaintop. I can take comfort in His word that says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NASB). The stock market may tank, my body may give way to aging, people close to me may break my heart, but Jesus does not change. He is always available to comfort and to see me through.

If your life seems to be filled with more sorrow than joy, more want than plenty, more difficulties than blessings, ask God to show you the things for which you can give thanks. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to help you to develop the attitude reflected by the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am” (Philippians 4:11 NASB). On the other hand, if your bucket seems to be overflowing with blessings this year, consider that God did not give them to you to hoard. He gave them to you to share. Your sharing, your gift of kindness, may well be the thing that He wishes to use to place a spark of thanksgiving into the life of someone that is having a difficult time. Not only, will you be an instrument of God’s grace; you will experience first hand the truth in the saying that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heart Thoughts by Helen

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place; what is man, that You are mindful of him? Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

On a church sign in Lacrosse, Indiana, these words jumped out at me:


Quite the statement! Being a 'would be word-smith', I added these:

• Friends visit...and leave…Jesus doesn't
• Winds blow away...Jesus stays
• Clouds hover...Jesus covers

Autumn qualifies as my favorite time of year. The trees glow magnificently this year. It's been a wet fall. Most of the time football games for our grandsons move on toward their goal even when it rains. We sat out in a torrential downpour last week to watch our eldest, Caleb, play his last game. The clouds grew ominous, the rains poured, the winds blew. Today, however, the sun shines once again reminding me:

The Son Shines… Autumn leaves...Jesus doesn't.

"I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their setting. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?" Psalm 8:3-4 (THE MESSAGE)

Reflections for November 19, 2009

"The Awesomeness of God"

Last year, I read on Fox News Website about a new supercomputer that has been built by IBM for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. It is called Roadrunner. The article explained the speed of this new computer this way: “To put the computer's speed in perspective, it has roughly the computing power of 100,000 of today's most powerful laptops stacked 1.5 miles high, according to IBM. Or, if each of the world's 6 billion people worked on hand-held computers for 24 hours a day, it would take 46 years to do what the Roadrunner computer can do in a single day.” Additional research revealed that it could operate at one petaflop, which means that it can make one thousand trillion calculations per second.

As I read about this new supercomputer, I was amazed at the ingenuity of man. Then I thought about how tiny man is in comparison to God. The words of the Psalmist came to my mind. He wrote, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:4-6 NASB). If man can build a machine like Roadrunner, God should have no trouble knowing everything about His creation. He should have no problem knowing our every thought. He can operate at an infinite number of petaflops.

When I think of the awesomeness of God, I am troubled by the way modern society has attempted to reduce Him down to an entity that we can interact with on an even plane. In so doing, we have lost our sense of reverence. We have ceased to fear Him. When reverence and fear are gone, we find it easy to thumb our nose at Him, whenever His teachings interfere with our desires. While this lax attitude might be expected in the world at large, it should never be seen within the body of Christ. It shouldn’t be but it is.

In many ways the Church, which is the Body of Christ, finds itself in the same shape as Israel thousands of years ago. The Prophet Isaiah admonished them with these words, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 1:20, 21 NASB). Isaiah had much more to say but this is enough to demonstrate that they had lost their awe for God.

The answer to this dilemma is for the people of God to recognize their failures and to turn from the image of God that they have created in their own minds to the image of God that is clearly spelled out in Scripture. We need to recapture the awe the Psalmist had when he wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4 NASB).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009



The Psalmist cries out to God: “Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not Thy face far from me.” Psalm 27:8-9

I’m thankful that my eight grandchildren rejected the usual Halloween horror stuff, including scary masks and dark activities. They did enjoy the candy, however, and the cakes, cupcakes and candy corn found in my kitchen and the church activities in which they participated.

Years ago as I drove to work one Halloween morning, the car in front of me caught my attention. In the front seat sat a man and his companion. The man turned frequently, laughing with the person. My impression, at first, led me to believe the partner to be female because of the so called ‘coif’. As I continued to observe the frazzled head, I noticed that it never moved in response to the driver’s attentions. Upon closer observation, my discovery caused me to laugh out loud (to my empty car).

The companion riding shot-gun was a dummy…a Halloween mask and wig propped to give an illusion. The driver received his intended reaction when passing cars did a double take at what they saw. My thirty minute drive to work through rush-hour traffic took on a festive albeit weird turn just observing the reactions that took place.

Halloween brings out masks of all sorts to parade before the public. We may tell ourselves that we don’t participate in ghoulish Halloween fantasies, but each day we practice a little of Halloween by the illusions we present to others when we fail to pull off our masks and reveal our real selves.

I’m not advocating wearing your feelings on your sleeve, but honesty and openness in our relationships would serve us more effectively when appropriately demonstrated with tact and love.

Who do people perceive you to be on a daily basis? Would they watch closely as they pass you by on their way to living life? What would their response be when they found out the truth? Do you think they would laugh out loud (LOL) or be intrigued by your demeanor to ask “Are you for real?”

Hide not Your face far from me, o Lord. Thank You for Your transforming power to change me into Your likeness, not the likeness of the world, no matter how much ‘fun’ it seems to be.

Reflections for November 4, 2009

"The Need For Gratitude"

If things were the answer to happiness, the people of the United States would be among the happiest people in the world. Instead, the opposite appears to be true. As a nation we lead the world in most of the statistics that are not complimentary of a nation. Divorce, addictions of all kinds, incarceration per capita, mental illness, and abuse of prescription drugs are just a few of the unflattering categories that we either lead or are near the top. None of these things reflect a happy image. The obvious question is, “Why in a country that has so much is there so much unhappiness?”

The mental health professionals and sociologist write volume after volume addressing the problem. Apparently, their efforts are not getting us any closer to the answer. At the risk of being simplistic, I would like to submit one important factor that is often ignored. It can be described in three words, lack of gratitude. We have become a nation of people who expect much and appreciate little. Our want list seems to always exceed our thanksgiving list. Oh, we give lip service to gratitude but our actions show that we are not really as grateful for what we have as we are covetous toward the things we see other have and we want. A simple test of our attitude of gratitude would be to time the moments we spend giving God thanks and the time we spend asking God to give us something.

It appears to me that a new word has taken the place of gratitude in our vocabulary. It is often spoken but it is reflected in our attitude toward life. The word is entitlement. This sense of entitlement can be seen in every level of our society. The problem with entitlement is it leaves no room for gratitude. Why be grateful for something that is rightly yours to begin with?

One of the clearest places to see where a sense of entitlement does damage is in the government. Most people I know say that they would like to see the government stop wasting so much of the taxpayers’ money. Every year we hear cries to cut the pork out of the national budget. It rarely happens because the voters at home see money spent on projects that benefit them as entitlements and money spent on things that benefit others as waste.

By now, you probably think I have completely lost sight of the topic of my article but not so. The point is we have little for which to be grateful when we assume we are entitled to everything. If we are not grateful for what we have, our chances are extremely high that we will not be very happy. I am not sure where the following statement originated but it expresses well the problem of unhappiness in America: “There is a secret to happiness and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.”

Paul understood this concept when he wrote, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:6-18 NASB) Paul’s point was that we should always look for the things we can be thankful for in whatever situation we find ourselves. I do not know where you are today. It may be a really difficult time for you. Whatever your situation take a moment and go to God and ask Him to show you all that you have to be grateful for. It will help to replace a frown with a smile.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


"When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight. For I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." Jeremiah 15:16

My momma's kitchen warms my memory as an oven warms to bake the fragrant bread that nourishes our bodies and souls. The amiability, the smells, the goodness, the comfort, the joy fills me as much as the Word of God fills my heart today when I read it. Not only did Mother provide food for the body but she regularly ladled out wisdom, and the joy of my childhood and adulthood. Coming home meant heading straight to Momma's kitchen. I'd sit at the bar and help Momma prepare myriads of meals. She would instruct me in life's challenges while we chopped, cut or sliced. I learned from her how to roll dough, cut biscuits and she'd let me taste the first piece of cornbread as it came from the oven. The hot crust was always the best part. I can see her as she turned from the yellow countertop to the stove hundreds of times.

Bread dough, salads, desserts, roast beef, squash, beans and 'norn '(corn) as the grandchildren called it, fed us physically while love and instruction from God's Word fed us spiritually.

Fragrant aromas from roasts cooked slowly in the Crockpot permeated the house. Momma liked to name the cows that Daddy raised for our personal beef supply. Our own private pigs also found their way into our freezer and homemade sausage stands out as a breakfast staple, along with grits and eggs. The squash, beans and corn from Daddy's garden compare to none. Cutting up squash, shelling beans and shucking corn came as natural to me as breathing. Whenever you sat down at Momma's in her old green rocker, you automatically picked up a basket of beans to shell. Any culinary skills that I acquired come from Momma's kitchen classroom seasoned with her practical and spiritual wisdom.

O Lord, no wonder your Words were found to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart and I ate them in my Momma's kitchen just as surely as I ate her food, drank in the warmth of her love and comfort and knowledge as she shared your faithfulness with me and mine. Thank you for feeding me from my Momma's hand food that satisfies and sanctifies. I rejoice in my memories of Your blessed provision in Momma's kitchen.

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart."

Reflections for October 28, 2009

Power of Purpose

A Peanuts cartoon had Charlie Brown shooting his new bow and arrow. Each time he shot it; he would run to the fence and draw a bull’s eye around the arrow. Lucy saw what he was doing and informed him that he was not doing it correctly. His reply to her was, “It works. I always hit the target.” Many people are like Charlie Brown. They are shooting their arrows into the air and drawing a bull’s eye around wherever they land. They operate under the old idiom, “If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time.” The problem with this philosophy is that it accomplishes little and it leaves the individual feeling empty and unfulfilled.

God did not create man to wander around without any sense of direction or purpose. He has a purpose for each one of us. When we discover the purpose God has for us and we commit ourselves to achieving it, our lives become meaningful and exciting. There are ups and downs but the sense of purpose we have gives us the strength to continue. The Apostle Paul was a man with a purpose. God explains his purpose to Ananias in Acts 9:15: “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” (NASB). Paul accepted this purpose and dedicated his entire life following his conversion to carrying the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul understood that God does not give a purpose without providing the power to fulfill it. Paul’s sense of purpose gave him the capacity to carry on even in the most difficult circumstances.

John Maxwell addressed the affects of a sense of purpose on the ministry of Paul in a sermon titled “The Power of Purpose”. He suggested that purpose provided seven important benefits for Paul. Listed below are the seven benefits he demonstrated purpose brought to the life of Paul.

-1- Purpose motivates.
-2- Purpose helps one set proper priorities.
-3- Purpose helps one reach his/her potential.
-4- Purpose provides the power to live in the present.
-5- Purpose helps one maintain a high moral.
-6- Purpose enables one to minister more effectively.
-7- Purpose gives one a way to measure progress.

It was Paul’s commitment to God’s purpose in his life that gave Paul the strength to overcome the many obstacles in his life. It was his commitment to God’s purpose in his life that enabled him to write, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (II Corinthians 4:7-10 NASB)

While we may not be like Paul, we all do have a God given purpose. He does not wish to hide it from us. He is waiting for us to simply ask Him to show us. If we will ask, He will show us. It may not be an immediate response but He will show us. Once we have a sense of His purpose for our lives; once we commit our lives to fulfilling that purpose, we will find that it provides the same benefits to us as Paul’s purpose did for him. Isn’t it time that we stop shooting our arrows into the air and drawing a bull’s eye around where they land? Isn’t it time that we start to focus on the purpose God has given us and commit our lives to achieving it? Isn’t it time we step out of the world of aimlessness into the world of meaning and fulfillment? God waits patiently for each one of us to make that step.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS ... from Helen

Sadie, our Golden Retriever pup doesn’t always want to go where I want her to go nor do what I want her to do. Nor does she want to stop doing what I want her to stop doing. She’s a year old now. She’s behaved this way since we brought her home on Halloween last October.

My goals for this beautiful bundle of boisterous energy are designed for her good and my enjoyment. She wants to play; I want to discipline and train.

She wants to jump all over me and chew on my hands and arms and feet. I want to love on her and pet on her and nurture her and have her mind me—to sit at my feet, look into my face with those gold flecked brown adoring eyes Now, she does that sometimes, usually when she’s exhausted and worn to a frazzle from exercise or, when she’s been disciplined.

Her goal ultimately is to please me and be with me but often she doesn’t keep her eye on that goal and gets distracted. My goodness! How like Sweet Sadie I am with my Master. I want to please Him; I want to know Him; I want to walk where He wants me to walk, do the things He wants me to do. Everyday He gives me ‘treats’ from the vast storehouse of His Word when I listen to Him.

Father, I want to press on toward the goal for the prize, the treat, the ultimate treat of Your Everlasting Presence. I want to sit at your feet and look with adoring eyes into Your face. Help me to be obedient, to go where you want me to go without balking and stubbornly refusing to move forward, no whining.

Help me to ‘run with endurance the race set before me’ (Hebrews 12:2) looking unto Jesus, my Master, my Friend.

Reflections for October 21, 2009

"All Things Means All Things"

My evening began with an opportunity to celebrate with a family in our church over the great news that they received at the end of a medical procedure. It was expected to end with a night of food, fun and fellowship at the home of one of our church members. However, the night was extended way into the morning by the phone call awaiting me upon returning home.

The call was in reference to a private plane crash in a nearby community. Farther investigation revealed that the crash involved a family from our church. As I approached the scene, it immediately became clear that the news was not good. The family of four, the father and mother and two teenagers, had been killed in the crash.

The family was not only a pillar of our church; it was a pillar in our community. The father and mother were active in church and community affairs. The children were active in our church youth group. Like everyone else in our community, my mind was faced with the question we so often raise in situations like this. The question was one big word, “WHY?”

As I pondered the question, my mind was directed to Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB) In the moment, I could not see how anything good could come from this tragedy. The verse clearly states, “God causes all things to work to good for those who love God.” Notice, He did not say all things that happen to us are good. Bad things happen to good people everyday. He does say that no matter what happens, He can use it for good.

The challenge for me and all those who were grieving was to believe in faith that God would keep His promise. In the months that followed our church took comfort in knowing that this family we loved was in the presence of their heavenly Father. There is no greater good than that. But God did so much more. The summer before the tragedy, the daughter had gone on a mission trip to Costa Rico. Her experience was life changing. She came home with a desire to become a missionary. In her memory, friends and family started a camp for underprivileged children in Costa Rico. The camp was named Camp Brittney in her memory. Now, each summer, hundreds of children have an opportunity to escape for a week and attend a camp where they experience a week of food, fun and fellowship in a safe environment. More important, they experience the love of Jesus. As a result many have come to know Him as Lord and their lives have been changed forever.

While most of us have not had to experience a similar tragedy in our own lives, we all have had to deal with adversity. Some of you who are reading this article are going through your own difficult times. Whatever your difficulty might be, remember that the “all” in Romans 8:28 covers it. If you will trust Him, God will take whatever trial you may be enduring at the moment and use it for your good. In the meantime, He will give us the strength we need to endure.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I listened as the mother of a soldier requested prayer for her son who serves in Afghanistan. Not only did she request prayer for her son but for all our military in harm's way. She wore an American flag as a pin on her shirt. My mother's heart went out to this mother whom I know personally. Mother's who send their sons off to war as well as wives/husbands who send their spouses off to war must hold a special place in the heart of God. How many wars must be fought before we see the face of the Prince of Peace?

There is a story of a soldier who thought he was the only Christian in his barracks. For years it had been his custom to kneel in prayer each night before retiring. He was reluctant, however, to do so in front of fellow soldiers fearing their harassment. So he talked with his Chaplain who gave him this advice: "Just pull the blanket over your head and pray anyway."

The young man attempted this spiritual communication 'cover-up' but felt deeply ashamed. How could he stand to fight and die for his beloved country and not be brave enough to pray openly to his Lord?

In the midst of another agonizing night of the subterfuge, he threw off the blanket and fell on his knees in front of the whole barracks and prayed unashamedly.

Not too many nights later, when he rose from his knees he noticed that he was not the only soldier following Divine Orders. Soon, many of the men began sharing prayer requests and finalizing their day kneeling to pray.

The Apostle Paul served as a prime example of demonstrating corporate prayer in Acts 21. As he left Tyre, he was followed by a procession of prayer warriors onto the beach. He then headed toward Jerusalem and the battle of a life time.

"But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray." Acts 21:5

Reflections for October 14, 2009

"Windowpane or Mirror: Which Do You Choose?"

It seems every time I turn around, I am reading another article talking about research that demonstrates the downward spiral of the church in America. Statistics seem to support the claim that we are loosing the battle for the souls of men and women in our country. These articles are not coming only from the secular media outlets. They are echoed by Christian media outlets as well. This spiral is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for awhile.

The response of far too many in the church has been to rant more loudly against all the demonic forces in our society that have effectively thwarted the advance of the church. They have lashed out at the secular media, public schools, Hollywood, and promoters of ungodly lifestyles to name a few. They seem to forget that these forces in one form or another have always been a barrier to the church. While each one may have a negative effect, I suggest that a greater cause needs to be addressed, if we are to get to the bottom of these negative trends in our society today.

I suggest the greater problem is that many in the church in America spend too much time looking at the world through a windowpane. They look through the glass and see all the evil around them and become either discouraged or pumped up over their own righteousness. The assumption is made that what they see is the problem. Maybe we ( I include myself in this group) need to take another approach. Maybe we need to stop looking through the windowpane and to start looking instead into a mirror. Our mirror is not made of glass but is the Word of God. The writer of James writes about this: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” (James 1:23, 24 NASB) The point is a man looks and doesn’t like what he sees and turns away unwilling to change.

If my thinking is correct, we are faced with a choice. We can continue to rant over the demonic forces in society that we have no control over, or we can begin to gaze long and intently into the mirror of God’s Word, letting it penetrate our hearts and change our lives. If we choose the later, those around us will not only hear about Christ, they will see what a life devoted to Christ looks like.

The latter worked in the first century church and I believe it will work today. How do you choose to live your life, staring outward through a windowpane or into the mirror of God’s Word? Your decision may determine the effectiveness of your witness.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heart Thoughts from Helen

“But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him…” (Judges 6:34)

Three of my four grand daughters play dress up frequently. They love to put on fancy dresses and parade around the house, pretending to be princesses. In fact, Eliyah celebrated her fifth birthday by having a “princess’’ party. Four little princesses tumbled out of the car squealing with laughter at the prospect of princess partying. My daughter-in-law, Joice, provided the proper princess accessories: tiaras, earrings, necklaces and of course, princess slippers. I poured princess tea into tiny tea cups from a miniscule tea pot. Tiny fingernails poked themselves in front of my face to be painted with sparkly princess nail polish. The princess dresses splashed about the deck in colors of pastel pink, green and blue. From head to toe (nail) princesses paraded their finery giggling and in constant flight.

After princess cake and ice cream, it didn’t take long for Princess Eliyah and her court to quickly shed their pretty princess dresses for more appropriate clothing when the time came to enjoy the water slide.

Appropriate clothing is necessary spiritually as well as physically. Do you pay as much attention to your inward attire as you do your outward apparel? We wouldn’t think of going unclothed to face the world but do we ‘put on’ the complete wardrobe that the Heavenly Father has provided? Old Testament Gideon amazed the enemies of Israel with his ‘princely’ wardrobe designed and manufactured by God Himself.

My granddaughter and her friends don’t think about enemies at their tender age. As New Testament Christians, however, we are instructed as to our clothing so that we may be able to stand strong against the daily attacks of the enemy.

Our wardrobe should consist of:
1. The Belt of truth
2. The Breastplate of integrity
3. The Shoes of peace (feet firmly shod in the Gospel of peace)
4. The Shield of Faith
5. The Helmet of Salvation
6. The Sword of the Spirit (Bible truths either written or memorized)

Just how well dressed are you?

Gideon’s personal Designer not only clothed him but we could say that his ‘clothes did indeed make the man’.

Want to make a fashion statement? Dress like children of the KING. You may enjoy the prince and princess party.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor…” (Ephesians 6:13-18a)

Refections for October 7, 2009

What does the word, “worship”, mean to you? My guess is that most of us would give a definition that falls short of what God expects from us. Most of our definitions would have more to do with our own personal preferences than with the One who we are suppose to be worshipping. For some, worship is going to receive a weekly fix from God. We choose where we go according to what makes us feel good. Some would define it by the music and others by the message preached. Most would measure the success or failure of our worship by what we get from it.

All of these things share one thing in common. They revolve around self. They reflect a form of worship that is evaluated by what we get and not by what we give. This is a far cry from what the Bible teaches about worship. Biblical worship is not about us at all. It is not about whether we sing hymns or choruses. It is not about our entertainment. It is about paying homage to the Creator of all that is. If our motive for worship is to receive a blessing, we will go away feeling empty. If our motive is to give honor and glory to God, we will be blessed in ways we can not imagine.

With these things in mind, ask yourself, “When was the last time I genuinely worshipped?” If you are honest, you may have to admit that it has been longer than you like to think. To correct the problem, you need to redefine worship. Worship can not be confined to an hour on Sunday morning. In his book, Gripped by the Greatness of God, James MacDonald writes, “God won’t meet you at church on Sunday, if His ways have been banned from you home throughout the week.” His words are a profound reminder that genuine worship involves more that what we do on Sunday morning. It involves how we live our lives.

The Israelites had trouble understanding this concept. They were absorbed in the ritual of their faith but their lives did not reflect the truth that the rituals represented. The Prophet Isaiah identified that problem and gave the solution in Isaiah 1:13-17. He wrote,

“Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me, new moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies _ I can not endure iniquity and the solemn assembly, I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me, I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (NASB)

There is no greater gift we can give to our God than worship. That is, if we realize that true worship involves our entire lives. We can not compartmentalize it and we can not confine it to a specific time of the day or the week. It means that we commit to honoring our Creator in all that we say and do. If we have failed in the past as we all have, it does not mean that we can not start fresh today. That is the beautiful thing about God’s grace.

Join me in committing to worship God completely this week.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS... from Helen

“But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him…” (Judges 6:34)

Three of my four grand daughters play dress up frequently. They love to put on fancy dresses and parade around the house, pretending to be princesses. In fact, Eliyah celebrated her fifth birthday by having a “princess’’ party. Four little princesses tumbled out of the car squealing with laughter at the prospect of princess partying. My daughter-in-law, Joice, provided the proper princess accessories: tiaras, earrings, necklaces and of course, princess slippers. I poured princess tea into miniature tea cups from a miniscule tea pot. Tiny fingernails poked themselves in front of my face to be painted with sparkly princess nail polish. The princess dresses splashed about the deck in colors of pastel pink, green and blue. From head to toe (nail) princesses paraded their finery giggling and in constant flight.

After princess cake and ice cream, it didn’t take long for Princess Eliyah and her court to quickly shed their pretty princess dresses when the time came to enjoy the water slide.

Are you spiritually as well dressed as you are physically? Do you pay as much attention to your inward attire as you do your outward apparel? We wouldn’t think of going unclothed to face the world but do we ‘put on’ the complete wardrobe that the Heavenly Father has provided? Old Testament Gideon amazed Israel’s enemies with his ‘princely’ wardrobe designed and manufactured by God Himself.

My granddaughter and her friends don’t think about enemies at their tender age. As New Testament Christians, however, we are instructed as to our clothing so that we may be able to stand strong against the daily attacks of the enemy.

Our wardrobe should consist of:

1. The Belt of truth

2. The Breastplate of integrity

3. The Shoes of peace (feet firmly shod in the Gospel of peace)

4. The Shield of Faith

5. The Helmet of Salvation

6. The Sword of the Spirit (Bible truths either written or memorized)

Just how well dressed are you?

Gideon’s personal Designer not only clothed him but we could say that his ‘clothes did indeed make the man’.

Want to make a fashion statement? Dress like children of the KING. You may enjoy the prince and princess party.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor…” (Ephesians 6:13-18a)

Reflections for September 30, 2009

The challenge that Joshua presented to the Jews centuries before Christ is the same challenge we face each day. Each day we are faced with circumstances that require us to make a choice about who we will serve. We sometimes act as if we can avoid the choice but we can not. Our choice may not be in words but it will be in our actions. Will our actions reflect our allegiance to God or will they reflect an allegiance to the gods of this world?

Bill Hybels explains it this way: “Every single day we make choices that show whether we are courageous or cowardly. We choose between the right thing and the convenient thing, sticking to a conviction or caving in for the sake of comfort, greed or approval. We choose either to take a carefully thought-out risk or to crawl into a shrinking shell of safety, security and inactivity. We choose either to believe in God and trust him, even when we do not always understand his ways, or to second-guess him and cower in the corners of doubt and fear. (Bill Hybels, Who Are You (When No One’s Looking)

Before we choose, it would be wise to know our choices. We need to ask the question Joshua put before the people in the verse above: “If not God; who?” There are hundreds of things from which we can choose, but most of them would fall into one of four categories. First, we can choose the god of pleasure. It causes us to become caught up in our own comfort and enjoyment. It does not leave room for concern for others. It offers much but in the end brings disillusionment. Second, we can choose the god of popularity. When we worship this god, we forget about principle and do anything to be accepted into the group we think is most important. Popularity never brings the self-confidence we seek because we can never please everyone. Third, we can worship the god of power. It is a cruel taskmaster. It requires us to step on anyone who gets in our way as we push ourselves to the top. The problem is when we get to the top we find it to be a lonely place to live. Fourth, we can worship the god of philosophy and worship whatever the current popular trend is. Presently, it is the spirit of secularism. While it does not always deny the existence of God, it does say that He is irrelevant and that man can fix all of his own problems. All of these gods share a common flaw. Not one of them can fill the empty space within man. It is a space that cries out for fellowship with his creator.

Joshua understood his choices and he said, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15c NASB) His was the wise choice then and it is the wise choice today. Who will you serve today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father give us both the will and the strength to make wise choices this day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


“You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble…” (Psalm 32:7)

All of my four grandsons like tree houses or hideouts, as did their dads. When I hear them talk about them, I smile. While in the eighth grade my family built a home on my paternal granddaddy’s farm. One of the pecan trees that lined the lane to the barns served as my girlhood hiding place. Even though I liked the nuts, my interest in fallen pecans elevated to the sturdy limbs of the tree itself.

Everyone needs a secret, special place to call their own. Many times during my turbulent teens I sought refuge in the branches of the pecan trees. It was not an uncommon sight to see me and Princess, my collie dog, headed for that hide-away. It didn’t take long for this tomboy to shinny up that friendly bark into a secret place while my faithful Princess laid waiting at the trunk of the tree.

My special tree grew far enough from the road so that I could see everything that passed, but nestled in the crook of those branches, no one could see me.

If those leaved branches had been tongues they could have tattled all about a tow-headed teenager’s hopes, heartaches and hangnails.

In times of need, now, a special rocking chair holds me and my hopes and heartaches. I call it my prayer closet. This place beckons me as strongly as did my hiding place of long ago. Perhaps those branches bore the fruit of prevailing prayer. I doubt if I called it that then, but I sure do stand on the promises of it now.

You, O Lord, are my hiding place.

Reflection for September 23, 2009

A couple of years ago, my wife and I watched a movie on the Hallmark Channel called “Tho None Go with Me”. It was a beautiful story of Christian faithfulness during both good and bad times. The movie ended with a party given to celebrate the main character’s fifty years of service to her local church. The lady was amazed that they would recognize her. She had never thought of herself as being anyone special. Like most of us, she did her good deeds wondering if anyone really noticed or cared. Her eyes filled with tears as individuals came forward to tell her the impact she had made on their lives

On April 25 my mother-in-law, Frances Goodson, turned ninety three years old. Since 1972 she has contributed regularly to the American Bible Society. As of this year, she has purchased 1,133 Bibles. These Bibles have been distributed around the world in the native language of the folks who received them. There is no way to measure the impact these Bibles have had through the years. My mother-in-law has also committed to another ministry endeavor. Although she is not physically able to attend church on Sunday mornings, she spends time each Sunday morning praying for all the preachers she knows. I thank God that I am on her list. On those Sunday mornings that I have felt like crawling back into bed and pulling the cover up over my head, I could think about those praying for me and it would give me strength. I can testify to the fact that it makes a difference.

I mention these two examples because most of us have those times when we feel that our efforts to do the right thing do not have any affect. In fact, sometimes we look around and see those who have little concern with right or wrong from a biblical perspective seeming to have all the success and reaping the greatest benefits. These observations make us consider giving up and joining the worldly way of doing things. However, deep in our hearts we know that the success of the worldly is only for a time and that the rewards of the godly are for all eternity. I believe that Nanny, Mrs. Goodson, will have all eternity to bask in the joy of seeing the impact that each one of the bibles she purchased over the years had on people who will join her in heaven and that they will thank her personally for her faithfulness.

By the way, this is not just pie-in-the-sky thinking. It is based on God’s promises. Galatians 6:9 reads, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (NASB) It is sad but true that many grow weary and stop just short of the harvest. Remember that God’s promises are true and that God always does what He says that He will do. Even if we do not have the joy of seeing the impact of our good works here on earth, we will see both the short and long term effects they have when we get home to heaven.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS..... from Helen

“Pray at all times…in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

My heart was alerted when my then seven year old granddaughter, Becca, called me from camp one night last summer, crying. “Nana, would you pray for me? I’m scared.” She sniffed.

“Of course, Becca, but what are you afraid of?”
“There’s a tornado warning and I’m scared.”

That's a good enough reason to be afraid. We prayed on the phone and she calmed down a bit. I turned on the TV to see about warnings and such and continued to pray for safety for all concerned.

After instructing the Ephesian Christians on their warfare wardrobe, the Apostle Paul adds to the attire a mantle of prayer to cover their clothes. He knew that each day would bring its own special attacks of the enemy. It seemed necessary to him to warn them (and us) that every day we must be dressed appropriately for spiritual warfare. The enemy is ever present.

A coat covers us and protects us from the elements. In summer, an umbrella might serve a similar purpose. Prayer does that, doesn’t it? It covers us and protects us. It is like an extra…over our clothes for added assurance.

It’s especially nice for granddaughters to ask their Nana’s to cover them with the mantle of prayer. And by the way, there was a tornado in the area that night Becca called her Nana. But it didn’t come near the camp, thanks to His covering of prayer and her willingness to ask for protection.

Cover me, Lord, with Your Presence
Cover those that we love, Lord, with Your Spirit.
Cover those that seem unlovely with your loveliness
Cover those who are fearful with your confidence.
Cover those who doubt with Your assurance.
Cover us all, Father, with Your Righteousness.

Reflection for September 17, 2009

The 'Everyone Else Is Doing It' Excuse

When I was a child, I often sought to do things that I knew went against family rules. One of my primary arguments was, “Everyone else is doing it!” When my children became old enough to seek to do things that went against the rules we had established for our family, they invoked the same argument, “Everyone else is doing it!” Today, we hear well paid lawyers and spin doctors use the same argument, as they seek to win public support for high ranking clients, who have violated what many would consider basic moral behavior.

We hear this same argument in other venues as well. It is reflected in statements like the Church has lost contact with the culture; everyone talks that way; everyone cheats on their taxes; everyone lies; abstinence before marriage is unrealistic; and the Bible is irrelevant in today’s society, The implication is that a moral failure should not be taken seriously, if it is one that is common to the masses. The underlying premise is that if enough people engage in any activity, it must not be bad. When taken to its logical conclusion, this argument would ultimately create a society where morality is determined by majority consensus.

This flies in the face of biblical morality. Fortunately, God did not wait to all the polls had been taken to determine right from wrong. He did not hold up His finger to see which way the winds of public opinion were blowing. He did not need man’s input, because He is a majority of one. His principles of morality are the ones by which we are all judged. The fact that we all fall short of the standards that He has set does not alter the standards. He does not lower His standards to accommodate our failures. However, He did send His Son in order that we might have a means of being redeemed from our failures, but He has never changed His standards and He never will.

These two opposing approaches bring each one of us to a place of decision. We must choose to base our moral decisions upon the prevailing winds of public opinion or upon the unchanging principles given to us in God’s Word. If we choose the later, we must search out God’s Word to derive our opinions on all matters of morality. The former is an easier path, because all it requires is to listen to the nightly news to see what everyone else is thinking. Before anyone hastens to take the easy road, he/she might want to hear the word shared by Paul with the Corinthians, “For we must all appear before the judgment set of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (I Corinthians 5:10) When we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, the argument, “Everyone else was doing it!” will be unacceptable because every individual must answer for the choices he/she has made.

The choices are ours to make. We would be foolish not to make them wisely.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS ... from Helen


“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son… “(Romans 8:29)

The SEARS AND ROEBUCK Catalogue occupied many hours of fantasy for me when I was a little girl. From my ‘wish book’ I planned my dream home and furnished it. I clothed myself, my ideal family, my pets and everything imaginable. Dreams, ideas, fantasies, hope all could be found in the Sears Roebuck catalogue. I still do that to some extent with the multiple catalogues that come by mail. Mostly I flip through them, fold down a few pages and set them aside. I also gather catalogues for my eight grandchildren. They are instructed to look through them, circle the things they like, write their names on them and ‘maybe’ for their birthday or Christmas they’ll get something from them.

We recently moved from McCormick to Greer. I did NOT notify the catalogue people of our change of address. The catalogues have found their way home, just like Lassie. Not all of them, but a few. I am a catalogue addict, so I’m glad, in a way. I love turning through the pages of Land’s End, Orvis, Spring Hill, Plow and Hearth, etc, etc. What I find on the slick pages of these periodicals fascinates me.

Occasionally I order from one of these catalogues. It is fun getting packages in the mail, especially when you’ve forgotten about it (Unless it doesn’t fit, that is).

In the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of a life-style that believers are to follow. We read it and say: “That’s the greatest sermon ever preached”. It is! But we flip through it and lay it down or throw it somewhere in the back of our minds to discard at a later date. It probably wouldn’t fit.

The problem lies in the fact that today’s believer picks and chooses those parts of the Bible that look good, perhaps invests in them and discards the rest.

Because Jesus did not require these attributes as a prerequisite for salvation, we may feel that they are optional extras. Not so. Read it again. It doesn’t present a polished and beautiful picture of something that we may or may not choose. God’s lifestyle for his children is holiness.

Catalogs…I will probably always enjoy letting my fingers do the walking instead of shopping ‘til I drop. However, the one Book that demands my total involvement also requires that I follow the directions to obtain the desired product…conformity to the image of His Son.

Reflections for September 9, 2009

"Channels or Cul-de-sac?"

Most Christians would agree with the statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Despite what they say, statistics do not support their claim. Researchers have discovered that the number of people who give purposefully and regularly to their local place of worship is declining in all mainstream denominations. Stewardship sermons are often tolerated but seldom enjoyed, because people do not like to be reminded that they may not be living up to the Biblical mandate for stewardship.

We have come a long way since John Wesley said, “Get all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” Someone else has recently said that today’s church folks are better reflected in the statement, “Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the lid.”

Our self indulgence is not limited to how we handle our money. It is also reflected in how we use our talents and time. The good steward does not see his treasures, talents and time as tools with which to build his own wealth and well being. Instead, he/she sees them as gifts given by God to assist in serving others and by serving others glorifying God. This concept of stewardship flies in the face of a society that seems to say,“First, look out for number one.”

In a sermon on biblical stewardship Rev. Paul Decker dealt with the conflict between “a me first mentality” and a biblical approach toward stewardship. He explained, “We are by nature, hoarders. We keep what we are given. The blessings come down our street, and stay there. We become like a “cul-de-sac”. There is nowhere else to go. But God has not designed us to be cul-de-sacs. He has designed us to be channels. We are to be continual conduits of God’s blessings. This is what He has designed us to be. So, the more we give, the more God will give us the ability to give. And God keeps giving, so that we will have enough, and abundance for others.”

Decker’s explanation leaves us with a choice. We can choose to be a cul-de-sac or a channel. By choosing to hoard our treasures, time and talents, we become a cul-de-sac. Our financial assets may grow to comfortable proportions; our calendars may be filled with activity; and our walls may be lined with plagues that remind us of how successful we have been. However, if our life has been all about our self and nothing about others, we will have accumulated little that will be to our credit in the life to come.

On the other hand, if we follow the mandates of scripture, we will become channels of God’s blessings. Our emphasis will not be upon self. It will be about using our blessings to encourage and assist others. Our focus will leave self and be transferred to others. We will become less concerned about what we have and more concerned about how we can use it for others.

God’s expectations are clear. Our choice is personal. Today, take time to look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see a channel or a cul-de-sac?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reflection for September 2, 2009

"What Will Your Game Film Reveal?"

During the years that I coached my Saturdays in the fall began early with a trip to pick up the game film from the night before. (This was before all the other modern technology we have today.) When I arrived at school, the film was shown to the players. The players learned early that the film did not lie. Errors could not be denied.

Following the team meeting, the coaches would remain to view the film for the purpose of grading each player’s performance. Once the grading was completed, each player’s grade for the game was recorded on a chart posted on the window leading into the cafeteria. On Monday, the players and the student body could view the chart to see the grade of each player that participated the previous Friday night. This was a powerful motivating force for the players to perform to the best of their ability.

Like those football players years ago, we all participate daily in a game and at its conclusion we will all be evaluated. The game is called life. Our evaluation will not be done by committee. Instead, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and the only opinion that will matter will be His. The Apostle Paul explained by writing, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:10 NASB) Since Paul is writing to Christians, I do not believe this judgment speaks to our salvation. It does remind Christians that they will be held accountable before God. The Apostle Paul reminded us of our accountability, when he wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10 NASB).

If a group of young kids can be motivated to perform to their best by a group of coaches who will determine their grade, shouldn’t we, who are followers of Christ, be motivated to play our game well? Shouldn’t the knowledge that we will someday stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ motivate us to play the game of life well? Take time to reflect upon how well you are playing your game.

Heart Thoughts from Helen

“…impress them on your children. Talk about them when you …walk along the road…” (Deuteronomy 6:15)

Our youngest grandson, Luke, occupied the back seat of our car on a trip from his school to a birthday outing. As we drove through the country by a cattle ranch his six year old voice broke the momentary silence. “My daddy can ‘moo up’ a cow.”

“Moo up a cow??” was my surprised reply. “What do you mean, Luke?”
“He can moo up a cow! Once when we rode home this way, he stopped the car, got out and stood by that side of the road and ‘moooooooooooed’ up a cow and the cow came.”

My thoughts ran back quite a few years to the summer that our oldest son, David, spent working on a ranch in Montana between his sophomore and junior year in college. One of his duties included milking cows. I also remember the quick lesson on cow husbandry and milking my daddy gave him before he left. My paternal granddaddy owned a dairy farm at one point in our family history. Daddy knew how to moo up’ cows so he could milk them.

The Hebrew children's tendency toward forgetfulness equals our own, so the Lord God instructed them how to overcome such weaknesses. Rather than doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku games, He had a better idea. “Hear o Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates. Kids remember things that we have no idea they will remember.

David recently needed a substitute teacher for his Sunday school class. He called his momma. His momma at first declined with “Son, those young people don’t want an old lady teaching them.” After a while he ‘mooed up’ his momma again. Guess who taught the class! He knew he could call on his parents in time of need. Now that in no way indicates that my son calls me a cow, but you do get the point! David’s Pap remembered what he’d learned from his daddy and taught it to my son. David remembered what he’d learned and taught it to his son. Luke remembered what he had learned and of all things, reminded us of what his daddy had learned.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HEART THOUGHTS ... from Helen

“Redeem the time…"
Colossians 4:5b (NIV)

The MESSAGE paraphrase of the Bible states “make the most of every opportunity”.

“Make the best possible use of your time.” (JB Phillips)

“The NEW ENGLISH BIBLE instructs: “making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.”

The AMPLIFIED: “We have this moment.”

How can I make the most of every day’s opportunity?

Who will dictate the best possible use of my time?

What are my present opportunities and what time can be fully dedicated to seizing them?

Usually my best work is done before noon. Afternoons and evenings are up for grabs. Knowing my most productive hours helps me to redeem my time. Giving God the first and best part of my day amazingly carries me through the remainder of the many opportunities afforded me. You may have heard the axiom, ‘why tune the instrument when the concert is over’. This instrument is out of tune until I’ve practiced His Presence first thing in the morning. Timing is everything and mine is His.

My timer and my ‘to do’ list go hand in hand. Each item has a time limit. Setting the timer reminds me to move on to other things. Perhaps you don’t need that prompt, but to stay on task, I do.

One of the wedding gifts we gave our oldest son, David and his bride Lisa was a clock that chimes on the hour. It is to remind them that one of the most important things they will give each other is their time. If “LOVE is spelled TIME”, redeeming that time takes love, and vice versa. That was fourteen years ago.

How are you redeeming the time? God gives each of us the same twenty-four hours every day.

“…We have this moment to hold in our hands.

And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come.

But we have this moment—today!” (Gloria Gaither)

Reflection for August 26, 2009

"Salmon or Jelly Fish: You Choose"

Are you a salmon or are you a jellyfish? I can hear your minds turning and wondering, what kind of question is that? Think about it for a minute. A salmon begins life in the fresh water of the Northwest. Shortly after life begins the salmons swims down stream until it reaches the ocean. It spends most of its life in the ocean but the ocean is not its final destination. At some point the salmon realizes that the ocean is not home and it begins the journey back to where it came from. The journey is difficult because the return home is all upstream. Scientists recognize it as one of the marvels of nature, when the salmon finally overcomes all the obstacles it confronts and arrives home, usually at or very close to where they started from. When the salmon arrives home it spawns and then having accomplished its purpose it dies.

Unlike the salmon, the jellyfish is not driven to accomplish anything. It is perfectly satisfied to be moved along by the wind, waves and tide. Although they have limited movement, there is no evidence that they attempt to move toward any particular destination. They seem to be perfectly content to float from place to place. They show no indication that they have any sense of purpose or direction for their existence. They drift about satisfied just to survive.

The Apostle Paul was clearly more like the salmon. This can be seen in his determination through out his writings. I am particularly fond of Philippians 3:7-14. Take the time to read this passage and think of it in terms of your own life. In these verses, you can see three things about Paul. He had decided what was most important in his life. His overpowering passion was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. He had determined what he was willing to sacrifice to obtain that which was most important. For Paul, when compared to the joy of knowing Christ everything else was considered mere rubbish. He was willing to sacrifice everything to obtain is goal of knowing Christ. Finally, Paul was devoted to the task of knowing Christ. He was determined to press on to the high calling that God had placed on his life. As a result, God used him to write a large portion of the New Testament and millions of people throughout the ages have been blessed by his efforts.

When one visualizes the life of a salmon, it may look like more work than it is worth. Who really wants the exertion of swimming against the current? On the other hand, the life of the jelly fish may look more enticing. Drifting is far less demanding and it can seem like fun. I doubt that anyone would argue the fact that there are more people drifting upon the waves of the culture in which we live than they are those who are willing to buck the culture and stand up for right instead of bowing to convenience.

For those few that are willing to swim against the current, the reward at the end will be the joy of knowing that their life has really counted for something and that the world is a better place because they have been in it. I end where I started with the question, are you a salmon or a jellyfish? No matter what one has been in the past, he/she can make a decision today to be a salmon, to swim against the current of today’s culture, and to live the remainder of their days being everything God has meant for them to be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heart Thoughts from Helen

"Holding God's Hand"

“I am with you.” (Haggai 1:13)
“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand… (Isaiah 41:13)

Boaz is a hand holder. Our nine-year old grandson also likes precision. He invited me to draw with him last evening. I am not an artist and the very thought of a blank sheet of paper (unless it has lines and a writing instrument) empties my brain. Brown eyed Boaz and I, however, took turns drawing.

In his grown up voice, he said, “Nana, you draw anything you want around the sides and then I’ll draw. We’ll take turns. Then, in the middle we’ll put a big picture.”

I drew the moon as I’d remembered seeing it early the morning before in the western sky as it made its way down, down, down, out of sight. Boaz drew the sun in yellow with red splashing light. I drew a house and he reminded me to put eaves on it. His parents are completing the building of a home.

As we sat on the couch waiting for fish to grill I looked around the room and drew a box. He drew a rainbow in all shades of color. I drew a kitty, because they have two new ones. He drew a much better kitty, a fatter one. When we had circled the paper with our ‘art’, I asked him, “What should we draw in the middle?” Immediately, he said, “Let’s draw you and me together, Nana.” I smiled as I drew my stick figure and he drew his….but as he finished, he connected our hands in the picture. Now, I like that!!

God our Father also likes togetherness. This morning I studied Haggai a little bit. In Haggai 1:13, God told his prophet to assure the people: “I am with you” after telling them, in essence to reorder their priorities. Being ‘with’ my grandchildren is a priority. Apparently, it is important to them.

God our Father also is a hand holder. Isaiah 41:13 tells me, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear’.”
Boaz measures himself against me each time we’re together to see if he is as tall as I am. He has reached my hairline so it won’t be long before he’s taller than me. He knows the importance of togetherness. And he likes to hold hands…and so do I.

Give careful thought to your ways. God is with you. No telling what sort of ‘art’ you will leave in the ‘heart… thoughts’ of those you cherish. Maybe it will end up on someone’s fridge, like ours did.

Reflection for August 19, 2009

"Extreme Makeovers Available Here"

A young family came to the big city for the first time. The father and son were waiting for the mother by the elevator. Neither had ever seen an elevator before. An older lady with grey hair and a cane pushed the button and the elevator door opened. She walked onto the elevator. The man and his son did not get aboard because his wife had not gotten there yet. In a few minutes, the elevator door opened again and a young, well dressed, attractive lady walked into the lobby. The man immediately compared the woman he first saw get on the elevator with the one he saw get off. He then told his son to go find your mother quick and tell her to get over here.

I see a parallel in this amusing story of how some people feel about church. They expect to walk through the doors of the church and to come out a few minutes later with all their problems solved and a bright and new future before them. Individuals who have not attended church in years find themselves in a jam. They realize that they need something more in life. They realize that their problems are bigger than their capacity to deal with them. They go to church as a last resort. Some even attend for several weeks. When the situations in their life do not change, the assumption is that church does not work and they stop coming. They fell to realize that it usually took years for the problems in their life to come to a head. This being the case, they should not expect that everything will change just by walking through the door of a building.

There is nothing magical about a church building. As important as church can be in pointing us in the right direction, the thing that one really needs is a relationship with the One who the church is built upon. When we are willing to open our lives to Him, He changes us inside and we begin to want different things. Our problems do not automatically fall away. It takes time to work through them.

In Romans 12:2 Paul writes, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”(NASB). Paul is clearly talking about a process. A decision to follow Christ may come at a specific time in our life but an understanding of all that it means is a process we must go through. In this process we learn to think different, to respond different, and to feel different. With Christ’s assistance we are able to come to grips with the mistakes of the past and to deal with our problems in a healthy manner. We are able to begin to experience the full life that the Scripture promises.

Do not interpret this to mean that church is a waste of time. It is not. I am simply saying do not expect an extreme make over immediately. Do not expect an immediate remedy to all your problems. Do expect to encounter the living Christ and believe that He will change your heart and create in you a desire to follow Him. Do expect Him to equip you to handle your problems in a wiser manner. Do expect Him to lead you to a new and fuller life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heart Thoughts by Helen

"Putting on New Clothes"

"..put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:22-24

Personally, I prefer to stay in old loose, knock around clothes. As soon as I get up I put on old clothes. As soon as I come home from being out anywhere, the first thing I want to do is shed the good clothes and put on the grubbies. I just like being comfortable in my old clothes. That's not to say that some of my good clothes are not comfortable. I just prefer the old. Casual is my thing.

In my spiritual life, it behooves me to reconsider just what comfy, casual, lackadaisical means. The Apostle Paul plainly says "put off old self". Get rid of old way of life that corrupts and deceives. He goes on to categorize the old life: lying, anger, speech, stealing and other specific habits that need to be abandoned.

Now, I need to be more aware of my thought life and how I use my tongue and my time. Let's not forget the computer and how we use our fingers and hands and eyes. Talk about time consuming!!!The Lord convicts me of these things continually. What am I going to do about that?

Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you". First thing, I seek to spend personal time with the Lord each day, so that whatever I do will be guided by what He tells me. This morning He says: "put off old self"...Ok, as I change out of my old grubby clothes, I mentally confess or take off the known sin in my thought life and actions. As I shower and cleanse myself of these things, I put on the fresh clothes of the day. These clothes are clean and comfortable and my shoes fit to walk in the newness of life. Not only am I clothed in the new body, the fresh clothes, I am renewed day by day by His Spirit not only in my inner being but my outer being as well. Ready for a fresh, new day, offering myself to be used of him in ways of which I cannot conceive. Before I know it my fresh, good clothes transform into comfortable, casual duds.

Reflections for August 13, 2009

"Overcoming Fear"

I read somewhere that an African impala could jump ten feet high and could cover as much as thirty feet with each jump. Despite the power of this magnificent animal, it can be contained in a compound with a wall that is only three feet high. It seems that the impala will not jump when it can not see clearly where its feet will land. The fear of an uncertain landing keeps the impala behind a wall that it could easily clear.

This powerful animal reminds me of many Christians today, who are satisfied to live within the compound of their church and refuse to jump out onto the world stage, because they are not sure where they will land. Their fear of rejection or failure keeps them confined to the safety of their own church family. Rarely, do they initiate a discussion of faith outside the walls of the church. Instead, they choose to live a life of safety missing the excitement and thrill of engaging the world with the love of God.

The problem with this type of Christian behavior is that it does not measure up to the demand Jesus gave to His followers. He said to His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20 NASB) I have always understood this to be the “Great Commission” not the “Great Suggestion”. Therefore, I believe that from the beginning the Church was meant to be a “going church” and not a “sitting church. Even so, it is difficult for people to find the courage to move beyond the comfort zone of church into the world with their faith.

The reason for hesitancy is usually fear and fear is usually a sign of limited faith. If this is true, the answer is for our faith to grow in order for our fear to be overcome. The question is how does my faith grow? D.L. Moody explained it this way: “I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’. I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.”

Bible study is certainly one of the building blocks of an active faith. However, we can memorize the Bible cover to cover and still be faced with that moment in time when we must step out of our comfort zone and move into the world. Like learning to walk, the most difficult and most fearful step is the first one. With each additional step, our confidence grows. With each additional step, we will come to know the excitement that comes from walking with God and living on the edge.

Only God fully knows the thrilling things that await us, if we will jump the wall of fear that surrounds us and throw ourselves into the things He has for us. Isn’t it time that we cease to be like the African impala, content to be comfortable in confinement because of its fear of the unknown?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reflection for August 5, 2009

"Why Do We Have Two Ears and Only One Mouth?"
James 1:19

Have you ever wondered why we have one mouth and two ears? I believe James 1:19, 20 has the answer. It reads, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (NASB) Can you imagine the difference it would make in relationships between people, if people would heed this simple piece of advice? I prefer the NIV rendering, because it says “be quick” to listen. In our busy world there is a big difference between hearing and listening.

Let me illustrate with an example from my marriage. Early in our marriage I was a teacher/coach. Because my coaching responsibility was after school, my days were long. Add to this the fact my wife and I had made the decision for her to not work out of the home until our children started school. This decision left her at home everyday with our two boys. When I arrived home, I would eat supper and, then, move to the living room to watch the news. During this time my wife would talk to me about her day. One evening, while I was watching the nightly news and she was talking to me, she cried out, “You are not listening to a thing I say.” I made matters worse by repeating almost word for word what she had said.

The truth is she was right. I was not listening. I was hearing the words but I was not listening to the loneliness that was in her voice. Having spent her day with our two energetic young boys, she was not only exhausted; she was in desperate need of adult conversation. After having given her full attention to the boys all day, she needed someone to give her their undivided attention. She needed someone who would hear beyond the words and would see her needs. She needed someone to not only hear the words but to listen for the feelings from which the words came. I believe this is the type of hearing the writer of James was writing about.

The writer of Proverbs understood the importance of harnessing ones tongue and taking the time to listen to the words being spoken. Verses about the tongue can be found throughout Proverbs. For brevity’s sake, I will use only one: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20 NASB).

When you have people with deaf ears and unrestrained tongues, anger is inevitable. Here lies the root of many of the conflicts that exist today in the Church. Everyone has an opinion and far too few are willing to listen to what the other person is saying. It is easier to label the person hardheaded and stubborn than it is to take the time to listen to see where his opinion originated. If we take time to listen to the heart of the one speaking, we may still disagree but we can have a better understanding of why he feels the way he does.

If we do not take the time to listen, anger becomes a natural result. Proverbs also has much to say about anger. Proverbs 22:24, 25 says, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, lest you learn his ways, and find a snare for yourself (NASB).

The real tragedy in the anger the results from having a quick tongue and a deaf hear is that anger can not achieve the righteousness of God. This alone should be motivation enough for those in God’s church to make it a point to heed the instruction from this short verse in James. By heeding, we will be better equipped to portray the righteousness of God in our homes, workplaces and church. God will be honored and we will be blessed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reflections for July 30, 2009

"The Folly of Pigheadedness"

My father-in-law loved to farm. He always planted a big garden and raised enough meat for the family table. He used an electric fence to keep his pigs contained. One pig he owned refused to be confined by the fence. He had been bitten so many times by the fence that he came to the point he would run through it. He would get back from the fence, paw the ground, squeal loudly, and charge. He knew he was going to be shocked but his desire to escape became greater than his fear of the pain. He would run full speed into the fence squealing all the way. When he was on the other side he would usually head to the neighbors yard to destroy the lawn.

The electric fence was not there to torture the pig. It was there to provide a place of safety, where he would have access to all he needed and would be free from the dangers of traffic and the neighbor’s gun. Apparently, the pig was not smart enough to realize this. He saw the fence as an infringement on his desire to roam. He chose the inevitable pain from the fence over the comfort of remaining within the boundaries set by his owner.

Many people are like this pig. I guess you could say they are pig headed. While they are aware of the boundaries God has placed on their lives, they do not seem to understand God’s reasons for placing them there. They see them as hindrances to the happiness they seek. They believe they drain all the fun out of life. Of course, this thinking is wrong. God’s boundaries are not to deny us the joys of living but to protect us from the accesses within our hearts. So much of the pain people suffer is directly the result of their own or someone else’s refusal to live within God’s boundaries.

What we do not seem to understand is that there is no safer place than within the boundaries God has given. To live outside them, makes us vulnerable to the pain the world has to offer. To live within them gives us a place of security and comfort in good times and in bad. To live within His boundaries gives us access to a peace that baffles those who live on the other side of God’s boundaries.

Each one of us must decide whether we want to live within God’s boundaries, which God has provided for our provision and protection, or we can paw the ground, squeal loudly, and, like my father-in-law’s pig, charge through God’s boundaries and live our life outside His provision and protection. The ladder my bring momentary pleasure and satisfaction but in the long run it will leave us confused, frustrated, and scared by the unforgiving nature of the world.

If you have chosen in the past to be pigheaded, there is good news for you. God is aware of your situation and He is willing to forgive you and allow you once again to find a peace that surpasses understanding living life within the boundaries He has set for His children. All that is required is a repentant heart and a sincere desire to have the joy of your salvation restored.

The choice before us each day is not complicated. We can either be pigheaded or we can commit our lives to being God-centered. One always leads to disappointment and the other leads to fulfillment. Which choice do you choose to make today?