Stay on Track

I love the wisdom and truth of Psalm 37, especially verses 3 and 4. The psalm begins with a reminder not to fret over wrongdoers. Do not let someone who is determined to act wrong rob you of your peace. Don’t let someone who is doing bad keep you from doing good. Keep your focus on the Lord. Trust in Him, do good, and cultivate your faith. Cultivation takes time and attention. But as we see in verse 4 and throughout the remainder of this psalm, tending to our walk with Christ is always a rewarding experience.

Posted in Abundant life, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, faith, God will help you, Psalm 37:3-4 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Sad Song

In the wake of the tragic and senseless loss of life yesterday in Uvalde, I have been overwhelmed by various emotions – sorrow and sadness and anger and outrage.  There is so much that needs to be done, so much that needs to change, and so much that needs to be said.  And this morning, I just don’t have the words to express all those emotions.  As I drove to work, I listened to some sad songs, I prayed, and I cried.   I have been trying to capture some of my thoughts and put them in writing, but I am still not there.

A Sad Song

Sometimes I need a sad song,
When things are all bottled up inside,
I can’t begin to express my thoughts
until after I’ve already cried.

Sometimes I need a sad song,
Just to get me through the day
Sometimes I need a sad song
When I don’t know what to say.

So forgive me if I’m not myself,
I may not tell you what’s wrong
Right now I just need a little bit of time,
So I can sing a few more sad songs.

May God bless you and the people you love, and may God comfort and strengthen the people of Uvalde.

Posted in Encouragement, faith, Faith during hard times, Grief, Grieving Together | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold Fast to What is Good

My wife and I have always had dachshunds in our home. We have raised them with our children, and some might say we raised them like our children! About 35 years ago, we lived in a house with huge oak trees in the backyard. Our yard was home to a lot of squirrels and our dogs loved to chase those squirrels. Every day when I would get home from work, our dogs would greet me, dancing and jumping around my feet. Which is cute, however, one of them dribbled as he danced. Which is not so cute, because he danced a lot. To avoid this situation, when I would get home, I would immediately say, “Go get the squirrel!” Those dogs’ ears would perk up and they would fly out the doggie door, burst into the backyard barking, looking for squirrels to chase. It didn’t take long for the dogs to make a habit out of chasing squirrels as soon as I walked in the door, even without any prompting from me. I would walk in and before I could put down my briefcase – off they would go!

It’s been more than 30 years since we moved away from that house and none of our other houses have ever had any trees in the backyard. Two generations of our faithful little fur-babies have come and gone. When I get home from work today and open the door, I will be greeted by the two little doxies we have now. They will come up to me, wag their tails for a few seconds and then they burst out the doggie door into the backyard barking like crazy trying to chase squirrels. But the thing is, these dogs have never even seen a squirrel. We don’t have any squirrels in our yard, we don’t even have any trees! But they do it because that’s what dogs in our house have always done.

I said all that to say this, one of the greatest opportunities for personal development lies in recognizing and assessing our patterns of behavior. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything; and hold fast what is good.

It is good to reflect and ask ourselves if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes adding value. If they are, then let’s repeat them. Let’s hold fast to what is good. But if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes aren’t adding value, if they are detrimental to our wellbeing and our relationships, then maybe it’s time to make some changes and stop chasing squirrels.

Posted in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Give it your best, Relationships, religion, weenie dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Others

In our chapel services this week, one of our focuses has been on the way we treat other people and the instruction to love our neighbors as ourselves.  During our discussion time, we have explored several bible verses which encourage us in this endeavor.  One of my all-time favorite bible verses which provides some detailed instructions on what this will look like in our lives is found in Ephesians 4:31 – 32.  Paul writes to the church:

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

I love the wisdom and counsel of this verse.  I love the fact that it speaks to some behaviors and attitudes which we need to avoid and it also lists some behaviors and attitudes that we should be engaged in on a daily basis.  Our Heavenly Father does not want our lives to be characterized and marred with anger, ugly words, and bitterness.   Our Heavenly Father desires that our lives be characterized by kindness, forgiveness, and compassion.  We are called and commanded to love and forgive others, just as God through Christ has loved and forgiven us.  Being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving is not just a great way to be, it is a great way to declare and demonstrate God’s love to others.

Posted in Be kind tenderhearted, Christianity, Church, Ephesians 4:31, Ephesians 4:32 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Easter Morning Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this beautiful day.  We thank thank you for the sunlight and the warmth it brings.  We thank you most of all for your Son, Jesus Christ, the light of the world.  As our Lord and Savior, He warms our hearts and lights our path.  We thank you for the peace He brings to our lives and for the strength He gives to our spirit.  

We are mindful that not everyone is experiencing His peace and strength today.  Some do not yet know Him or the comfort He brings.  Others do know Him, but they find themselves desperately clinging to Him as they face persecution, tragedy and loss today.  May we reach out to them all, extending help and hope just as Christ has reached out and extended help and hope to us.   May we be beacons of lights and ambassadors of the saving grace that Christ so freely offers.   May we prove to be your faithful servants in all that we do.  Strengthen us in our faith.  Help us to honor the sacrifice of our Risen Lord.  In His name we pray.  Amen. 
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As I Prayed

 

This week, a group of friends and I went on a prayer and meditation walk in a local church garden. After a time of much prayer, I started noticing and really appreciating all of the beautiful things around me. Here is a poem I wrote that morning during the walk.

As I Prayed

I saw a red bud tree putting out new leaves
Its days of blooming were passing by,
I saw a blue jay leave its nest
Taking flight in the morning sky.

I saw many things of wonder and beauty
Which readily caught my eye
But then I noticed some other things
That I had been passing by.

I saw a moth resting in the grass
Drying its wings from the morning dew
And I saw the tiniest of purple flowers
As I stopped to tie my shoe.

I saw the handiwork of our Creator
Displayed in so many ways
And I pray I will continue to notice all His beauty
As I go about my day.

Posted in Choose to be happy, Christianity, Church, Filled with Grace, Poem, poetry, prayer, Seeing God's Beauty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Right Choices


This week, I have been praying for some friends who have some decisions to make concerning school, jobs, and things of that nature. I have prayed for the Lord to lead them and guide them and help them make the “right” decisions. As I prayed for God to guide them and illuminate their path, a certain Bible passage came to my mind. In Genesis 2:15-17, the Lord placed Adam in the Garden and set a clear boundary in regard to the tree of knowledge but otherwise gave Adam many other options. “From any other tree in the garden you may freely eat” the Lord said. This passage reminds me that as long as we follow the boundaries the Lord has provided, we still have great liberty in regard to other choices we make.

And yet sometimes, we struggle with making choices and moving forward because we fear we will make the wrong choice.  We get stuck. We fear that we will displease the Lord and disrupt His plan, so we do nothing, or we hesitate until certain opportunities are lost. I think it is good to be reminded that when the Lord sets the table and places some godly options before us, He can bless whatever path we take. When we remain faithful to His word and walk within the counsel of His word, there is no wrong path, no wrong choice. We can move forward without worrying about displeasing Him or disrupting His plan. “From any other tree, you may freely eat.”

I pray that you will have a good week. I pray that you will know the depth of the love that God has for you. And I pray that God will strengthen you, encourage you, and help you to move forward with the godly choices He has placed before you.

Posted in doing the right thing, God has a plan for you, God will lead you, good choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sing to the Lord

In one of our chapel classes this week , our lesson was centered on Psalm 95:1 – 2. It is one of my favorites. The psalmist writes:

Psalm 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.

This psalm is attributed to King David who had a gift for writing songs which praise the Lord. David invites the reader to worship the Lord with him. As part of our chapel service, we went around the room and shared with others the names of some of our favorite songs and hymns. A couple of people even sang portions of theirs. During our discussion, we all agreed that some songs are harder to sing than others. Some notes are hard for some of us to hit. Some of us haven’t hit a note yet. At least, I haven’t. I am so glad the Lord invites us to make a joyful noise to Him. Making noise the kind of singing I do best!

Just as we all agreed that some songs are hard to sing, we also agreed that on some days it can be hard to sing. Some days we feel downcast and discouraged. Some days we feel just feel tired and out of sorts and we don’t feel like singing at all. I have found that those days when it is hard to sing are the days when I need to sing the most. Lifting up a song in those days helps me change my perspective. Lifting up a song on those days helps me lean on the rock of my salvation. Lifting up a song on those days allows the Lord to strengthen me. My prayer for you is that today, no matter what kind of day it is, you will take the time to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Posted in a good day, Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, faith, Psalm 95:1 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bedtime Prayer

This week I have been reviewing some old folders and trying to clean up my study a little bit. I came across this poem that I wrote about ten years ago. I thought I would share it with you.

A Bedtime Prayer

As I retire for the night,
I lift up this prayer with all my might,
“Most Gracious Father, Lord above,
Please watch over the ones I love.
Guide their path and keep them safe,
Let them know Your strong embrace.
Let them feel your love their whole life through,
And let them know I love them too.”

I hope you have a great week. I pray that God will watch over you, protect you, lead you and guide you and pour out His love and grace upon you and the people you love.

Posted in A refuge, Draw close to God, faith, family, God Answers Prayer, God answers prayers, God will lead you, God's Grace, God's Peace, Poem, poetry, prayer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiving Others and Ourselves

In our chapel class this week, our scripture focus was on Ephesians 4:29.  In that verse Paul exhorts Christians to not use unwholesome words but to only speak words that edify and encourage those who hear them.  Generally, when people hear that verse, they automatically think Paul is saying we should not use curse words.  And while that is true, it is also true that curse words are not the only words that can hurt others.  Even everyday words, pleasant sounding words can be spoken in such a way that they hurt and harm others.  As followers of Christ, our words should serve to bring healing not hurting. Our words should serve to encourage not discourage those who hear them.

As we discussed the impact our words can have on those who hear them, we took time to remember that the words we use also impact ourselves.  Sometimes, we speak to ourselves in ways that only serve to bring us down rather than build us up.  It can be easy to dwell on past mistakes and speak critically and harshly to ourselves.  “What were you thinking!  You are so stupid!  You will never learn!”  Although we can easily recognize the harmful impact such words can have on others; we may fail to acknowledge the harmful impact such words can have on ourselves.  And while it is good to admit and learn from our mistakes, it is not healthy to dwell on them and continually beat ourselves up because of them.  Paul says in Ephesians 4:32 that we are to “be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving others just as God through Christ has forgiven us.”  As we extend encouragement, kindness, and forgiveness to others, let us also extend encouragement, kindness, and forgiveness to ourselves.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Ephesians 4:30, faith, forgiveness | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment