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.