Saturday, November 29, 2008

Joyful Hospitality

Twenty people packed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment down in the fan. Two Christian college kids had agreed to host this outreach event. Some sitting on the floor, some standing along the walls, everyone smiling and talking. Conversations about Christ mingled with conversations about school. Hospitality offered and received. It doesn't matter if you don't have a big home. In fact, you will depend more on God and His grace if you don't. So, open the door, welcome folks in, and let the joy begin. "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Losing Sensitivity

Over twelve years ago we sold our television in a yard sale for $20, and we haven't had one since. It's rare that I will even see one except at a store or while visiting friends or family. Yesterday provided one of those occasions as all were gathered around the room while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade marched across the screen in the background. Occasionally I would turn my eyes toward it, being drawn in by the drama of unreality. I was grieved by what I saw, and I was grieved by what others don't see. "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as it indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:19)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pondering Paths

Standing at a crossroad, I strain to see what lies ahead. Voices vie for my attention. Some tell me to turn right, some to turn left. My own voice wavers as I weigh my options. God's Word is my guide, His glory my goal. The voices that speak as ones speaking the very words of God begin to gain ground amidst the clamor of the voices of the world. Lord, help me to hear You. Help me to discern Your way. "Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure." (Proverbs 4:25-26)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Aging Perseverance

The question "How are you?" was not answered with the perfunctory "fine," but rather with a placid "Not too well." The residents of the nursing home we were visiting smiled as they saw baby Jesse, but were quick to turn their attention to their ailments. So soon these days will come for all of us! As Christians, let us be prepared to persevere with joy and hope in our great God and answer each "How are you?" with confidence in what the Lord will bring about. "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:10-11)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Year

Last year you were in labor. Last year you were choosing life. Last year you were leaving the hospital without your daughter. This year we're throwing a party. This year we're celebrating life. This year we have a daughter. Though we do not know you, we give thanks that last year you made this year possible for us. "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seasonal Friendships

I'm feeling the absence of a friend. Closeness once shared seems to fade away like the flowers in my front yard that are folding up as the frost takes them one by one. A move is usually involved -- moving to a new home, moving toward marriage, moving in a different direction. It can be difficult, sometimes painful, but I have found that I can trust God with all my relationships. Whomever He puts in my life, for however long, may I love them freely and to the fullest for that season. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shining Shoeboxes

A teddy bear, a toy car, a notepad, and some pens. Toothpaste and a toothbrush; check the list again. Candy, gum, hair supplies, socks and crayons, too. Okay, I think we've got it all, unless we get the shoes. Thus begins our annual shopping trip to purchase items for Operation Christmas Child's Shoebox Ministry. After the boxes are filled, we write notes on the back of a photo of our family letting a child somewhere know that they are loved by us and, most importantly, by Jesus. The message of the Gospel is also included by OCC just before the boxes leave for their final destination. We have received one letter back from a boy in Uganda thanking us for the box he received. What an incredible opportunity to shine! "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Listen Closely

Just me and baby Jesse down by the lake on a beautiful fall day. I scooped her up into my arms, and kissing her tiny head, I whispered over and over into her ear, "I love you; I love you." And instantly the Lord seemed to say to my heart, "That is how I am with my children; constantly whispering to them, 'I love you.' Look at the sun's light sparkling on the water. Look at the yellow leaves against the blue sky. Look at the graceful gliding of the ducks as they gather together. But most importantly, look at the cross." "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Confessing Sins

Two friends. Two Bibles. Two books on holiness. We had sat down to study and pray together, and the discussion guide asked us to read aloud from Colossians 3. As the words came forth, it was soon apparent to me that there were not just two of us there, but three. The Holy Spirit used this Word, so often read and heard before, to bring me under conviction of sin in my life. Just as He had promised, where two are gathered in His Name, He will come and be there, too. With tears of repentance and prayers of thanksgiving, we shared time with our Father, and the healing came. "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seeing Hearts

The line for food stretched about eighty people long, and as I stood at the door to greet the faces that walked by, I saw only one that was white. Since they had enough hands in the serving line, I sat down next to William, and in a rare moment, realized I was in the minority. We struck up a friendly conversation about his longing to return home to California, but all the while I was wondering, "Was he raised to be prejudiced against me just as I was raised to be prejudiced against him?" Lord, I pray that You would satisfy William with Yourself, and I pray that You would give us both eyes to see as You do. "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)