Running Through Puddles

The U.K. has been having some consistently warm, and even record breaking hot weather.  Last week, after the hottest day so far this summer, we had a day of cloud and rain.  It was a welcome relief.  My dog, Jack, and I, got in the car to drive to one of our favorite walking places.  The air smelled of fresh rain, the wind picked up and suddenly a spray of mist was blowing in our faces.

I headed toward the shelter of trees, but Jack, mouth open and eyes dancing with delight, started running in large loops, expressing his joy in the weather.  Then he saw a puddle and zoomed through the middle of it.  Great streams of water shot into the air.  His wild abandon was infectious.  I pushed back my hood, stepped into the rain and began running after Jack.

It never occurred to me what we looked like; a sixty-two year old woman and her dog zooming in circles and splashing through puddles.  I only knew what I felt inside — exhilarated!  After several minutes of our sprinting and jumping, we both eased into a walk, still smiling with our water soaked hair, and lungs heaving from the adventure.

While we ploughed on in our weather joy, the verse in Psalm 16:11 sprang into my mind: “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever.”  I pictured Jesus running with us.  I envisioned His own joy in our delight.  I imagined being with Him for eternity.  I can only imagine now, but the reality is not far away when the children of God will be running and jumping and praising and living in perfect joy in a place where there are no more tears — forever!

I hope every person reading this is one of God’s own.  If not, remember His promise in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  This is the most wonderful promise ever, allowing us, because of Jesus, to live in absolute jubilation for eternity.


A Matter Of The Heart

It’s a trait of human nature to compare ourselves with others.  Disappointingly, there are those who feel themselves superior, perhaps because of wealth or business prowess, or skill.  Sadly, there are those who feel themselves as insignificant.  They look at others around them, see that some have money, others have great talent, and many come from what appears to be a perfect family.  They shrink away feeling they don’t measure up.

Comparing ourselves to others is never a good idea.  We are warned of this in II Corinthians 10:12, “…when one compares his or herself to another, using another as their standard of measurement, is not wise.”  Our very best example to follow is the example of Jesus Christ and in those we see living like Him.

Do you realise that God Himself wants you to be the very best you, in Him, that you can be?  He doesn’t want you to be the best copy of your neighbor.  You can be encouraged by your neighbor, but the best one to imitate is Jesus Himself.

Perhaps our arch enemy, Satan, whispers the lie, “you have nothing worthwhile to give.” What a terrible deception that too many have believed through the ages.  You have something most valuable indeed to give; you have you.  I love the practical illustrations of this that we find in God’s Word.  Remember the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes?  The story is recorded in John 6.  There is a young boy with five bread rolls and two pieces of fish.  He could only feed himself with that size of lunch, but He gave that lunch to Jesus.  He gave everything he had to give.  We know what Jesus did; He performed a miracle, feeding thousands with that meager offering, touching many lives as a result.

There is another story of a poor widow.  It’s recorded in Mark 12.  Jesus was sitting in the Temple near the collection box.  He watched many wealthy people put in large amounts. Then He watched as a poor widow dropped in two coins.  He called His disciples and said that she had given more than anyone because she had given all she had.

Remember, it’s never the greatness of skill that you have, or wealth that you possess, or a charismatic personality.  It’s the attitude of your heart.  It’s the idea that everything I have belongs to Jesus; therefore, I will give it all, little or much, and watch what He will do with it.  Everyday I will awake with the attitude, “I give you all of me, Father.  What will you do?”

When one possesses that attitude, stand tall and watch, because God has a plan and it’s always a good one.  There is nothing in this world that can bring joy, equal to the delight, that comes from total giving oneself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“Above all things, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”  Proverbs 4:23

Who we are, what we become, is always a matter of the heart and to whom we give it.


The Man on The Moon

I read a post on Facebook this week that touched something deep inside me.  It was the sweet nostalgia of childhood filled with its wonder and innocence.  The post was written by my cousin, Cheryl Kelly,  who has given me permission to share it with you. Following are her words:

“As America celebrates the 50th anniversary of landing / walking on the moon, I would like to share my memories of that night.  I was 10 almost 11.  We lived in Graceville, Florida. We went to Mr. TOMMY Fowler’s House to watch it.  I remember sitting in the floor in front of the TV as they landed.  Suddenly, myself and all the children jumped up, ran outside to see the moon.  Now in 1969 being 10 was a lot different than 10 yrs old now.   Life was simpler.  We children were convinced we could see the spaceship.  We ran back in, exclaiming to our parents we could see them.  Do you know what I remember?  Not one parent corrected us, no one said that’s not possible.  We were allowed to believe the shadows we saw was a space ship.  They knew full well it was not but they also knew that as we grew up we would also learn the truth.  They allowed us our brief excitement, they allowed us to be children.  I’m taking a lesson from this memory.  I’m going to try much harder to see the wonders of the world through the eyes of my grandchildren.  They are only Little once, let them be little.  Look at the man in the moon.”

As I read her words, I also remembered where I was when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  Like my cousin, I too, was sitting mesmerised in front of the television, watching the grainy images of the first humans walking on the moon!  What a wonder!  Today, our mobile phones have more memory that the computers that put the lunar module on the moon’s surface.  Scientists have continued to seek for knowledge and have made amazing leaps into technology.

Of course, we know that all knowledge comes from God.  Imagine His delight as he watches mankind discover more and more. Imagine His own heart being sweetly touched as He observes His children making their first steps along their journey of Christianity.  He watches them make mistakes in what they think they know, but there is no scolding or ridiculing, for God looks on the intent of the heart.  There is only great patience, love, and thrill as He cheers each of us onward, knowing that as we mature, as we seek to know, that surely we will find.  Just like children believing they see the man in the moon, our Father delights in our own quest for discovery of His ways

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”  I Corinthians 13:11-12

May we always enjoy seeing the world with the eyes of a child, enjoying the wonder, revelling in discovery, knowing that our Heavenly Father delights in the journey with us.



Earning The Medal

Like so many, I am an avid tennis fan.  I can’t play worth beans.  When I’ve tried playing, I have no control of the ball to the point that when I hit it, it goes way past the opponent and on and on and on.  Consequently, no one wants to play with me as they get tired of chasing the ball.  I get tired of hitting it to nowhere, too.  Even so, my own lack of ability has not ruined my love of the game.  It’s Wimbledon finals this week and I have had my eyes glued to the matches as each player tries their best to be one of the last two standing, playing for the final prize.

Throughout these past two weeks, as the matches have been played, the journalists would report various stories about the players.  One thing that is obvious, with no exceptions for any player, is their preparation for this event.  They pay attention to their diet, their sleep, their physical training, and their practice.  Without preparation today, there would be no hope of the final prize tomorrow.

It came to me that this is the same principal in our spiritual worlds.  Our Heavenly Father has made a plan for each of us to follow.  He has given us guidelines for our daily preparation in His love letter to us — His Holy Word.  Once we choose to receive Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us to give us every tool we need to grow stronger each day.  We are given spiritual insight and understanding to “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.”  (Philippians 3:14). This does not mean that we work for our eternal destiny.  Salvation is a gift, that when received, will never be taken away.  That’s the promise.  However, we will receive rewards for all we do in Jesus’ name.

Are rewards that important?  Isn’t the main thing just being in heaven for eternity?  Well, that depends on one’s eternal perspective.  You see, the Bible teaches us that a time will come when we will all see Jesus face to face.  At that time, our understanding will be complete.  In other words, we will fully understand just what Jesus has done for us and gone through in order to give us the gift of eternal life with Him.  When we have that realisation, we will take those rewards given to us, and we will cast them at His feet in our love and gratitude.

I once saw an athlete who won her race and received the medal.  Joyfully, this athlete then stepped into the crowd and placed the medal in the hands of her parents.  She said it was her parents who encouraged and supported her in all her training.  It will be the same with us.  Imagine that you won your gift of eternal life with Jesus, but did nothing on earth to show your love for Him; nothing to earn any rewards.  You have nothing to give back.  Imagine.




The Things Kids Say

Don’t you love the television programs where kids are interviewed?  Some of their answers are hilarious.  Going back many moons ago, when I was a child, I loved watching the Art Linkletter show.  Anybody remember that one?  Only those of, shall we say, a more mature age, will recall it.  I still laugh at the episode where Art asks a little girl if she looks like her mother or her father.  The smiling child answers, “I don’t look like my mother or my father.  I look like the milkman.”

On other episodes of the things kids say, answers can be more poignant and thought provoking.  Such was a recent television show where the question was asked, “What is trust?”  Answers varied from silly to serious.  One little boy answered that trust was when his dog got wet and didn’t shake all over him.  Another answered that trust was getting your favourite ice cream.  One after another the children shared their definition of trust.  Then the moment came that touched me very much.  A little boy was asked the question.  He thought for a moment and then said very quietly and sweetly, “Trust is whenever I fall down, I know my Mom or Dad will come to help me.”

I mulled over that answer for a long time, thinking of times in my own childhood when I would fall down.  Indeed, my Mom or my Dad would be there to help me up, checking for scrapes and cuts, assuring me that all would be okay.  Usually after such moments, I would brush myself off and continue what I was doing, like riding my bike or playing softball at the empty lot across the end of the street.  I might fall again but Mom or Dad would be there.  I had that trust.

Now, I know that not every child has parents that are caring or even loving.  Perhaps they have no parents at all.  Those thoughts naturally bring a sadness for what so many don’t have, but the thoughts also bring a knowing hope of the Father available to anyone who wants Him.  Our Father in heaven is a most magnificent Dad who gladly comes when we fall.  He encourages us and gives us hope. He never leaves us no matter what.  He has a wonderful plan for each of us and gives perfect instructions along the way.

I agree with that little boy whole heartedly: trust is knowing that whenever we fall down, Father will be there to help us.  Why wouldn’t we all want Him for our Dad?

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (any difficulty), for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

Climbing Ladders

I was led down a passageway with steps going deeper and deeper.  When I reached the bottom there was a stretch of metal rungs leading up.  It was so high I could not see the top.  I began to climb.  My arms ached from pulling my body weight up and up and up.  Finally there was a level concrete path to step out on.  I followed the path while it began to go down again.  Then there were more metal rungs which I had to climb to take me up once more.  It was exhausting and scary, leading to nowhere.  Imagine my relief when I finally woke up.

Some say that dreams are a result of something we are going through in life.  Others say dreams are just heartburn expressing itself.  The Bible tells us that sometimes God uses dreams to speak to us. Discerning between life situations, heartburn, or God speaking, is the challenge.  Most of us just roll over, get up, and forget we ever had the dream in the first place.

Dreams in themselves aren’t detrimental to our spiritual or physical wellbeing; however, the paths we choose in life are paramount to our happiness.  The way we choose to go today can have consequences that last a lifetime, so what can we do to assure a life passage of contentment?

The answer itself seems too simple to be true.  We are told in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”  I remember learning a song with these words when I was a child.  When I am seeking God’s direction for any matter in my life, I still sing that song.  The truth of God’s Words sounding in my ears causes peace and joy to rise up within my spirit.  I begin to sense an assurance of Father’s leading and I remember that He always, without exception, has only the very best plans for my life — and for yours.  He tells us this in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘ For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  

Why is it hard, at times, to believe that our Father is leading our lives, not up endless ladders that lead to nowhere, but along a path of His choosing that will strengthen us, bring lasting peace, sweet joy, and a meaningfulness to keep our confidence for all our days.  We never have to beg our Father to bless us or to lead us, because He loves to do that very thing.  He loves showing us the very best path for our lives.  We need only keep our eyes on the path that is lit by His wonderful, perfect Word.  When we seek, we really do find.


A Very Quick Flight

I’ve had the joy and excitement of traveling on so many airplanes that I truly can no longer give an accurate count of the number of flights taken.  Each one has its own story.  There have been times when flights were delayed, twice when an air pocket was hit and the plane dropped several hundred feet in a matter of seconds.  That put our stomachs in our throats.  There have been bumpy landings and smooth ones.  I’ve had friendly seat parters and others that were grumpy.  I’ve had no-stop talking seat partners and those that pretended they didn’t hear me, or anyone else, when they spoke.  Food has never been the best on any flight but some much better than others.  On some flights the weather was clear and I could see for miles across the landscape when coming in to land.  At other times it has been cloudy with very low visibility.  Flights vary but every flight that takes off without incident and lands safely is a great flight.

I took another flight this week.  As the plane taxied down the runway and lifted its nose off the ground, I could feel the force of gravity push my body into the seat.  Then the plane leveled and all felt normal and smooth again.  Yet another airplane ride reminded me of one flight I have yet to take.  I’m looking forward to it.  In fact, the older I get, observing world events, I realise with keen and glad awareness that there is a flight I may take which will literally be out of this world.  Christians refer to it as “The Rapture.”

The Bible promises that one day Jesus will come again; it will be His second coming.  At that time He will set up a new kingdom that will last for a 1000 years.  Then comes the time of Judgement, but that’s not what I’m referring to at this time.  I’m thinking of the greatest flight to be taken ever, and it could happen at any moment!  The Rapture!  Read I Corinthians 15:52-53: “It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.  For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever.  And we who are living will also be transformed.  For our dying bodies must  be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”  Now read I Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Then we will be with the Lord forevermore.  So encourage each other with these words.”

Can you imagine that flight?  The sad thing is that not everyone will be on board.  I hope everyone reading this has their flight reserved.  It’s easy to get a ticket.  It’s John 3:16.


When The Answer Is No

Earlier in the week I met with a group of friends when the conversation turned to prayer.  We began to discuss various aspects of prayer, especially requests to God that did not get answered according to what we asked.  We’ve all experienced those moments in life when we desire something so strongly that we beg God to make it happen.

There are those who will bargain with God, promising never to ask for another thing if just this one request will be met.  Of course, that’s assuming that we are troubling and annoying God with our pleas.  Our loving heavenly Father loves it when we come to Him with those things that concern us.  We don’t have to make a promise of never bothering Him again.  We are always welcome to come to Him.

Then there will be those who turn away from God altogether when what they ask  for does not come to them.  Their anger and disappointment pushes them away from the One who only answers out of His vast love.  As a Father, there will be times when He says “yes” to what we ask.  He knows that receiving what we ask will indeed bring about great joy.  Equally, there will be times when He says “no.”  He knows that receiving what we ask will bring trouble our way or that what we ask will not bring about the greatest joy.  At other times He will answer “wait.”  Waiting is rarely an easy thing for any of  us.  It’s like a child waiting for Christmas, hoping  that what they have desired will indeed be under the tree.  Even so, there are times when He will answer “wait” because receiving at a later time will bring about the greatest joy.

Our Heavenly Father is vastly concerned with your happiness.  Jesus begins His famous Sermon On The Mount with instruction on how to be happy.  Of course, in the Beatitudes or the Happy-tudes, He is addressing things in our spiritual worlds, but being spiritually happy spills over into our physical worlds and brings contentment in all things — the good and the difficult.

When we pay attention to our spiritual health, we then find that our emotional strength is stronger, our peace is unshattered, and our faith in our Father’s ways is secure.  When we pay attention to our spiritual self, asking the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts, then we are ready for His answers to our prayers.  We will have a growing love and trust in our own hearts that allows Him to do as He sees best with our lives.  To live in such a manner is out of this world.  Ponder the following, a prayer of Jesus to His Father, concerning us:

“”I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to this world anymore than I do.  Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your Word, which is truth.  Just as You sent me into the world,  I am sending them into the world.  And I give Myself as a sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.”  John 17:15-19


A Row Of Houses

My mother and I have enjoyed having a friend visit this week.  We’ve been her tour guides and have loved every moment.  Earlier this week our friend and I spent the day in London.  We traveled by train.  As we whizzed through the countryside, villages and towns, I was particularly drawn to the terraced houses.  These are homes built in a long row, all attached to each other.  Basically each house in the strip is identical to its neighbour.  However, as I observed them, I knew that while they may appear alike, each home would be its own distinct place of habitation.

If we could open each door and peek inside, we would no doubt see homes that were very neat and tidy.  Others not so clean and orderly.  Still others might be an absolute mess. No one can see behind a closed door.

It’s the same in the spiritual worlds of our lives.  Mankind can look at the outside.  They may see some faces smiling while others appear indifferent.  Still other faces may be angry or crying.  While the outside may indicate what is possibly on the inside, like an overgrown lawn might suggest untidiness in the home, no one can know for certain.  You and I can only guess what another may be feeling or experiencing, but God knows all.

God says in I Samuel 16:7, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance,  but the Lord looks at the heart.”  The Lord knows our every intention, our every ambition, our ever desire.  He knows when we love and when we detest.  He sees when we smile on the outside because we are happy on the inside, and He sees when the outside smile is a fake, covering up the turmoil behind our facial mask.

God sees all, but that’s not the point of this blog post.  The wonderful point is the truth that God sees the pain and is able to comfort.  He sees when we are trapped by the deceptions of this world and is able to put us back onto a path of righteousness.  We cannot clean up the cluttered mess of our hearts, but our forgiving and loving Father is able to clean us up and then to make us like brand new again.  That is why the Apostle Paul could proclaim the wonderful truth of II Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.”  Isn’t that amazing?

When our hearts become cluttered or downright unclean, that is no reason to keep the door shut tight.  The moment of such a realisation is the moment we need to open the door wide, inviting the Holy Spirit to please take the broom of holiness and clean us up.  The door can only be opened by us.  The key to unlock it from the inside is repentance; which is that sense of regret and desire not to live that way anymore, that stirs us to ask for forgiveness.  When we do, the Holy Spirit begins to clean, sweeping away the debris of this world that can never satisfy, but can only deceive one into thinking they have found joy, when indeed they have only sunk into deception.  When all is forgiven and hearts are clean once more, then true joy fills the rooms of our heart and mind.

A tidy home is pleasant in our physical world; it’s indescribable joy in the home of our spiritual heart.





They’re All Mine

I witnessed a touching scene the other day, although an argument was close at hand, between a group of children.  A small boy, about five, was clutching something to his chest.  His face was twisted in alarm.  Two other boys and a girl were taunting him saying, “You can’t keep them.  They’re not yours.”  “Yes, they are, too! My Dad gave them to me!”  The boy kept his hands tightly holding onto what he claimed was his.  Just then a man stepped out the front door and walked over to the group.  (I was getting closer and slowed my pace; the exchange of words so intriguing I didn’t want to miss anything.)  The boy with his treasure turned to his father and said, “they don’t believe these are mine.”  His eyes were locked on his Dad’s face with a look of knowing that he would now be defended.  The boy was right.  “I gave those to him,” the father now ruffled his son’s hair.  The other children shrunk back, appearing sheepish at their false accusation.  Father and son exchanged smiles and walked together into their home.

I walked on with a reminder of God’s deep love for us.  When any of us chooses to receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus into our lives, the enemy Satan, is livid!  He will try his best to make you ineffective for the Kingdom of God.  His best tactic is to lie.  He will whisper that you are not worthy, that God can’t possibly love you anymore.  He will remind you of past wrongdoings.  He will taunt you with, “no one can love someone like you, and God is holy, so He can’t love you anymore either.  You are just too awful!”  Hasn’t the father of lies ever said such things to you?

You and I all know the terrible things we have done or thought.  We don’t need to be reminded by our arch enemy.  After all, when he dares accuse us, claiming that we don’t have the seal of God’s promise of forgiveness, love, and eternal life, who walks out the door to face our accuser?  Jesus Himself.  He says in John 10:28-29, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else.  No one can snatch them from my Father’s hand.”  What a beautiful promise, so assuring and full of lasting peace.

Never forget who you are: a child of God Almighty, clean in the sight of God because you have been washed in the blood of Jesus — every wrongdoing gone and forgotten.  Did you know that the Bible tells us that as soon as we ask forgiveness (meaning it) that Father not only forgives, but remembers the sin no more?  How amazing is that!  Why does He do that?  Because of Grace.  Because of His immeasurable love.

You are His treasure.  He holds you tightly, clutching you to His heart.  Safe in His hands — for eternity.