Friday, January 24, 2014


Many of the women who surround me are quite good at pampering themselves from time to time. The closest I come is actually getting a hair cut every three months and soaking my feet for doing my own pedicure. I have never been one to spend a lot of time on myself. That has been quite handy in times when I did not have time to spend on myself.

But now, I am getting older and I am considering being a little nicer to me. One of the first things I have decided is that I will invite someone to lunch more often. This is not only generous to them, it is generous to me: I love sitting with a friend and enjoying each other over a meal. It is totally refreshing. But I have been lax about that because I have to watch my budget. I don’t need to go to lunch more often. So maybe I should drop that idea. But wait. Lunch is way more fun for me than going clothes shopping and buying nothing, or going for a mani/pedi or a massage. Those things are not exciting to me.

Recently I went with a friend to IKEA and I seriously enjoyed myself because I have always been fascinated with design and furniture. I even worked at it for awhile. This trip was pure pleasure and I enjoyed every minute. But I do not easily allow myself to do things just for the pure pleasure of it. I seem to need a reasonable reason for doing anything.

Now I have been presented with an opportunity to gain something I have desired for a very long time: I have desired it and put it off as just that, a desire rather than a need; but my body is telling me that I just might need this item for now and for the future.

The conundrum: It is a steal but I must buy it this weekend and I do not have cash to purchase it with. I do have a small limit credit card. Should I use it? Should I not use it? Strike while the iron is hot? Or let thing get cold?

My natural response, as with 99% of any purchasing I do outside of groceries, is to let it get cold and risk losing this opportunity. However this op came just when I am learning again to be generous, and I need to learn to let God be generous with me, even if it means I will have to pay for it next month instead of this month. That is only a week away.  What to do? What to do?

Well, I have decided to be generous with myself and grab this offer while it is available, not just to please myself but also to please the one who made the offer for me to get this. Actually, she has been very generous to offer to help me get this and I think it is time to let her be so. Sometimes being generous to ourselves can be a way of being generous for someone else's sake as well. I do think that God has said to “go for it’ and I am doing that. I am accepting her offer.

Frankly, this is a bit of a bold move for me. I don’t even have kids, but I always put my “self” needs last on my list of things to do. I am looking forward to tomorrow when we will go and purchase this item. It will be a great day. I am excited.

But a clarification of that “self” needs thing: when it comes to food and to sleep I pretty much hoard all that I can. That is where I must do some hard work in becoming more generous. I pray that I will break through to a new way of thinking about these things in this new year.

But I also need to work on being more generous to myself. I am, after all, God’s Beloved. He wants to pamper me with great things and I should let Him, even if it is just going shopping with a friend and enjoying the day.*

*Note to friends: NOT clothes shopping. NOT! Don’t even think about it! Arrrgh!

May we learn to take as much delight in who we are as God does; and may we learn to enjoy experiencing life on this earth as much as we can until we reach a better place: our real home in eternity. God give us joy in who we are and who you see when you look at us. Bless us with your Love and Joy as we travel here on earth.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Recently my cousin gave me instructions on how to grab Kindle PC. This was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. I have been able to download several good books for free and now I am able to take advantage of 99 cent offers and bypass the S&H charges that makes even 75 cent books on line end up costing $6.00 all together. The Anne of Green Gables series, which contains all but two of the stories, cost a mere 99 cents and I went for it.

Also, at this time there is a community group of young thespians who are putting on a play at our church called, “Anne of Green Gables, the Musical.” Do you recognize a “coincidence” here? Since there are not coincidences in God’s timing of things I am assuming that this was a planned occurrence.

This, plus other things, has pushed me toward trying to read some of the books I did not read as a young person. Somehow I did not read those books called the “Classics.”  I seemed content and even excited to read historical novels and biographies instead. (Although, I confess that as an adult I purchased a large set of “Classics” because they would look cool on my fancy piece of furniture which held books and knick-knacks. That was 20 years ago and I still cannot bring myself to wade through them.)

Since the screen is a glaring white and my eyes are sensitive to that, I will have to take it slowly; but I will take it. I have been captured by it in the first three chapters. And I have found a wonder in it already: one that can be applied to our Christian lives and the behavior of our hearts.

We are told early on that the man who will be a lead character in this story is seen to be – if I may put this impolitely – ugly. He, himself, admits that he is a pretty scary looking guy and that small children avoid him when they pass.

I have always said of myself that I was okay with my not very pretty appearance so long as I did not make dogs bark or scare small children. Apparently He does scare small children.

But when he and Anne meet, Anne looks at him and sees only a beautiful man who is going to take her in and give her a home. She does not see what other children see; she does not shy away from him. She is looking at him through her heart, not her eyes. I think that is beautiful and I think that it pretty much represents how God looks at us and how we should look at each other and at ourselves.

I am impressed with this whole scenario: looking at people with our hearts instead of our eyes.

The thing is that Jesus told us to love. Jesus loves us and gave us Love as fruit of the Spirit. The only reason that we can truly love at all is “because He first loved us.” But we really don’t grasp the full meaning of that in our human short sightedness. We truly tend to love by sight and sound and even smell. We truly trip over those things when, in God’s scheme of things, they matter not at all.

We can very easily find reasons to not love because sin blooms all around us and is as unattractive as thistles in the fields. We do not wish to pick those thistles and take them home to put in vases, so we ignore them or cut them down or pull them up. But we do not find them lovely - unless they are artichokes. Yes. Artichokes are thistles that are edible, and their blooms are lovely, so they are acceptable thistles.

But most thistles are easily rejected; as are many human beings who do not quite meet our standards of loveliness. They may be rough in their language; they may be rough in their appearance; they may be too old to matter as real people; they may be too young and “weird” for our tastes. There are a lot of ways in which people “fail” to draw the love out of us.

One “people” we all recognize as hard to love is the homeless population around us. How shall I put this… we seem to pretty much write them off. There are many good and righteous reasons for that in way too many cases. But that is not an excuse.

As I passed yet another pan handler at a popular street corner, I was once again torn over what to do. I mostly do not carry money, but even if I have it I mostly do not hesitate to say I do not and go on my way. That sounds horrible to me even if I know that some are making more money than some working people. I have thought of carrying extra food in my car to hand them when I pass their way, but I would have to stop and get the food from the back seat area and traffic will not always allow that. So I asked God what I could possibly do in these instances. Quite honestly, He suggested I pray for them. Ahhh… What? Pray for them, Cheryl. : )

You know, that’s not a bad idea. : ) They are people, after all. And it is people that we are sent to love. And the poor and the orphans are on the top of that list.

Well, I confess that the homeless annoy me more than they encourage me to care about them. But the truth that multitudes of them have come to desire the life style of homelessness does not mean we are not to care about them. Many, many do not love the lifestyle and are only looking for a way out.

And, but for God, we could ALL be homeless, even those who have jobs or other income. Housing is costly and meager income from a job or other source is often just not enough to keep a roof over one’s head.

So I have been challenged to pray for those I must pass by (and I don’t pass by every single one.) It is my responsibility to remember to do that. They deserve a prayer because a prayer is a big thing when that prayer reaches the ears of God in Heaven.

But we must also give God the opportunity to say, “Yes, give them what you have,” even when we suspect they may spend it on drugs or alcohol. God knows their weaknesses and loves them anyway; so should we. They may actually spend it on food because they may actually be hungry. Only God knows and only God needs to know. We need to love and listen to Him and be willing to do His bidding.

That does not mean that we are to give out money willy-nilly. That means that we are to become sensitive to God’s guidance in even these small things, and be open to giving if that is what God wants.

And don’t forget that our churches have ways of funding for the poor which they use to provide food and comfort and other help to the poor; we can start by giving there and those gifts will expand exponentially as God runs with it.

May we all give serious generosity a try this year: Take someone to lunch; provide a meal for someone; have someone over to share time and food with you and your family; take time to sit and listen to someone who needs to be listened to….  And may we learn to love through our hearts rather than through our minds and thoughts alone.

God, bring us up to use the love you have given us to extreme dimensions this year. Move us to think out of the box and to love like we never have before. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


This morning my day started all wrong. Not bad wrong, just wrong. The first thing was that I overslept. The second was that the first thing that came my way was a phone call from my insurance agent which set me off on a totally weird bunch of thinking about where I used to live. There are grounds for that, but I won’t go into them except to say I may not be able to get online with my insurance company because I cannot remember my past addresses. Sigh

So then I am trying to do my reading for the day and guess where my mind keeps wandering: To places I have lived but do not have a record of the addresses.

Finally, in desperation, I cried out to the Lord to help me pay attention to what I was reading. Wonder of wonders, - :) - He did. When will I learn, when will I learn!?

This morning’s reading was again in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary and it was the finish up of Psalm 21. God has been highly praised for answered prayer and now we are looking at the coming result for the enemies that He has here on earth: Psalm 21:8-9

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies; thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.

Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: The Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.

Revelation closes out with the strongest pictures of hell which can be found. Chapters 18-22 speak plainly of this fire which will receive and make an end to all death, even hell itself.  Not only will there be a hell for those who do not know Christ, there will be a fiery end for them and for the hell they reside in. The earth will be rid of all that is sin.

McGee cites an instance where a man told him “I don’t believe in hell!” McGee then said, “Do you know that you are in disagreement with the Bible?” “I don’t care,” he said, I don’t believe there is a hell.”  McGee answered, “You will someday. The day will come when you will find that it is true.” And with that he ceased to argue.

We learn quickly that arguing with someone about God will not achieve anything except to make both look like fools. God can make His own arguments in the hearts of others. Our job is to state the truth, with no embarrassment or anger and to leave the rest to God. Yes, we can agree to disagree without feeling we have let God down. He is the one who will take what we said and use it to His glory.

But where is the Joy and the Peace in knowing about hell at all?  Why is it an appropriate subject for us to know and understand?

Well, I suppose that it is certainly necessary for us to believe that all sinners are in serious danger from the very existence of hell. Otherwise, why would we care whether they believe or do not believe? How urgent would our calling be if we do not believe in hell and hell fire?

But we also need to remember constantly what it is that we have been saved from. And we need to become comfortable with the fact that one day we will rejoice that those who refused God and encouraged sin in this world will not be just dead, but totally destroyed in the lake of fire.

Rejoice? You, bet. We will be there watching this destruction and the 24 elders, the angels and those who believe will not only watch but will sing, “Hallelujah!.” Revelation chapter 19 is the true Hallelujah Chorus and is where Handel gets his inspiration. Singing Hallelujah is a beautiful, wonder filled thing to do. It is not a funeral dirge of “woe.” It is a celebratory exclamation of the Highest Praise for God’s faithfulness to Himself and to us.

We suffer from the same results of Original Sin as the rest of the world. We, however, have been saved from the same end result as unbelievers and sin encouragers on this earth. We have been saved through faith in Christ; and we have the hope of being totally released from the clutches of, and even the very presence of, sin in our lives or anywhere around us. That is something to rejoice about and to hope in as we travel this journey on earth.

May we realize that we have been gloriously saved from a truly horrible end of life; and may we see that we can rejoice that one day God will rid this earth of all sin and evil through fire. May we also stand firm in our belief that God will be victorious over all sin, and affects of sin, in and on this earth. And may we sing “Hallelujah” with renewed spirit and joy, knowing that it is the highest praise of all to our God.

Even so, come Lord Jesus! Amen.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


So here I was reading J Vernon McGee on Psalm 21 and I got all the way to vs 6. Then McGee said something that threw me way off track: He said, “But God…”

My friend, Casey Lute, wrote a book with that name. It was a study of the simplicity of God’s mighty work among those in the Bible and among us in the world today. One thing he hoped for was that people would find comfort in these words… and Jesus did. Jesus knew all about “But God.” And Jesus knew that no matter what happened He was safe in His Father’s will.

McGee was discussing the prophecy spoken of in Hebrews 5:7 concerning the answers the Father had for His Son’s prayers:

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard…”

Then McGee expressed what many of us feel about losses and pain in our own little world:
“How was He heard? He died!”

But God raised Him from the dead.”  And I am thinking, even as Jesus prayed, He knew that His Father had a better plan: a willful, necessary plan that would bring us the Salvation that nothing else could ever bring. He accepted His Father’s will and went willingly to His death knowing that the Father’s long term plan was the best plan of all.

The question for us is, “Do we live life according to “But God?” Do we accept the direction God has for us, no matter what? Do we even care what His plans are as we plead for a change in what is happening to us? Do we find the Peace of God within us as we seek to live through our troubled earthly life? Or do we wrap ourselves in misery, accepting misery as a way of life and a comfortable place to be?

Sometimes misery is the easy choice and for many it is actually a comfort: a safe place to be; "we wouldn’t be there if God did not want us to be there," so we will suffer in silence and be a martyr for Him. Looking for the Joy and Peace that He offers is just too hard, so we relax into our discomfort and stay there waiting for Him to rescue us from our misery.

Jesus did not rest in His discomfort. He took that discomfort with Him into the Joy and Peace of knowing that all that would happen was well planned for Him by His Father. And He knew that the safest, most comforting place He could possibly be was in His Father’s will.

He did not come without first asking His Father to remove the pain that He would suffer. (And I believe that is the pain of the separation necessary for completion of His task, not the physical pain of the cross. But that is just me.) Jesus discussed this whole thing thoroughly in His prayers in the Garden. But in the end He came willingly and peacefully forward to do what needed to be done.

This sets a simple pattern for us: Feel the pain, grieve the loss, but settle things with God about being willing to recognize and rejoice n His will. Praising Him in our pain is difficult; but the results are fantastic. The fruit of the Spirit will grow strong in us as we submit to the agonies of this earth while keeping our eyes on the eternal Joy and Peace that will be ours some day.

How willing are we too suffer pain and loss with grieving and sorrow; and yet keep our hearts set on that great hope that lies before us when we will be removed from pain and suffering, and we will Rejoice in the Glory of God forever. And how many of us are intent in walking through this life with a “But God” attitude, knowing that He wills to make all things right for those who love Him, and believe in Jesus Christ. No matter what!

May we remember, even in the worst of pain, God’s Love and God’s plans for us exceed any pain we may ever feel. May we remember that God not only hears our pleas, but wants to hear our every pleas, and that He never “does not hear” our prayers.

God heard Jesus’ every prayer and answered each and every one of them, even when it was with “My plan is better than your plan.” And He hears our every prayer, too. But God sometimes has other plans for us than those which we are seeking. And His plans are the best plans; and they will bring peace to us and Glory to Him in the end.

May God bless us with confidence in His will for our lives, even when things are not going our way. May we remember that God sometimes has a way planned for us that we do not see and may answer our prayers with “But I…”

And may we pray that “not our will, but thine be done.” Amen

Thursday, January 9, 2014


This morning I concluded that the troubling thing for me when reading scripture is that I cannot read it all, all at once, every day. It is so full of Joy and Wisdom that I find myself overwhelmed, at times, with how much there is to learn and understand and keep in our hearts and minds while we wander this earth as sojourners; nomads seeming to have no direction, yet walking straight to God.

When studying Psalm 21:2, I was sent to John 17 where I was overwhelmed with the deep, deep love of Christ for His Father and for us: He prayed for us. He prayed for our faith and our belief to come; that our belief would come and remain to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. He had already informed the Apostles (and us) that trouble was coming: unrelenting trouble. (16:17-33)

“You believe at last,” Jesus answered.

He had spoken to them deeply about His “God-ness” and they had finally understood and declared their belief in Him. It was a miraculous event. And Jesus “looked toward heaven and prayed.”

He prayed for Himself; He prayed for the Apostles, who were being given a great responsibility; and He prayed for us. (vs 20) He covered it all and He called on the Father to keep His promises: those made to Jesus, Himself, and those made to the ones who did and would believe in Him.

And then I thought: This chapter should be read every—every what: Every year? Every month? Every day? What a strengthening it would be to remind ourselves that Jesus prayed for us before He returned into heaven; even before He was crucified. And He prayed with absolute assurance that giving us into the Father’s hands was the greatest thing He could do for us; calling on the Father to keep the promises He had made to Jesus about us. Wow! What else do we need than that?

I will follow, I will follow you.  I will follow, I will follow you.

Lord, will You be my vision,
Lord, will You be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I'll look not for riches, nor praises on earth
Only You'll be the first of my heart

For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases You
And I will give my all to You
Surrender everything I have and follow You
I'll follow You

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus
And the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus

I'll follow You

I will follow, I will follow you. I will follow, I will follow you.

(Tim Hughes, May the Words of My Mouth)

So you might notice that the words are out of order, but that is deliberate: my thoughts today are of the sufficiency of God to meet our needs and our need to let Him lead us through all facets of our lives: And that we can have a life abundant and full of Joy and happiness if we do. That is what Christ prayed for: That we will know the Joy and Peace He offers us, no matter what is happening to us or around us. And that will bring about the words of our mouth being pleasing unto Him.

May we all declare today: I will follow, I will follow you. I will follow, I will follow you. And we cannot thank you enough Lord Jesus for giving us to the Father for safe keeping, forever and for always. In Jesus name, Amen

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Psalm 20:1 – The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend thee,

As I was reading McGee’s thoughts on Psalm 20, I was stopped short at this paragraph:

This is a psalm of David. How did old Jacob get in here? By the grace of God. God never was ashamed to be called the God of Jacob.  I would have been ashamed of Jacob because of some of the things he did. (What?) Maybe you have been ashamed of him, too, (What?) but God was not. God saved Jacob by His grace.

What?  Why? How? Where in the world did these thoughts come from? Why in the world would anyone even bring up the possibility of being ashamed of Jacob? Because he was deceitful and a liar? Hey, aren’t we all at times? What right do we have to condemn Jacob for being a sinner since we are ALL sinners? And why would God be ashamed of being the God of a sinner since that is exactly what He is: the God of sinners.

Let’s look at some facts: God chose Jacob to be the blessed son of Isaac. God early on stated the second son would be the first and the first son would kneel to the second. God chose Jacob to carry the line of blessing leading to Judah, David and finally to Jesus. That was His plan, not Jacob’s plan. The fact that Jacob finagled, deceived and lied in order to be blessed had very little to do with His actually being blessed. He was blessed before he was born!

We, too, were chosen.  We, too, were blessed before we were born. So let’s take a quick look at God’s relationship with Jacob:

God chose him before he was born. God blessed him even though he played the deceiver in getting that blessing. God was with him when he ran away from his brother. Rachel (also the chosen one) was waiting for him when he arrived at his destination. Her father welcomed him and then proceeded to deceive and manipulate him according to the father’s wishes. Jacob reached the point of no return in that relationship and God gave him the idea about building his flock of spotted sheep so that he “would become exceedingly prosperous.” (Gen 30:43 and 31) And there was deceit and treachery involved in what he did. But when he left, he left wealthy and ready to go back. God had promised to be with him on the return journey. And He was!

Near the end of the journey, it was time to set Jacob straight and God came down and did just that. Jacob wrestled with God all night and God blessed him for that. He also gave him a consequence for doing that: But He never left Jacob and He was never, ever ashamed of Jacob. He declared Himself to be “The God of Jacob”; even “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  That was who he was to the people of Israel and that is what His name was to them: ”I AM” the God of your Fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

God has also chosen us and He is not ashamed of us, ever. And He is always with us no matter how shameful we act. We are His chosen; we are His Beloved. That will never, ever change!!!! No matter how badly we mess up, He will never, ever desert us. And He will always be there to help us get back to Him. And while we are trying to destroy our own lives, He will intercede with thoughts of how we can get back into the Peace He offers us, even as He did with Jacob.

We truly are not alone. No matter how desperate we feel, He is there with us: He is in us and cannot leave us. Neither will He forsake us, even to our own ways of trying to control our own lives. NOTHING can separate us from His hand; not even us.

To God be the Glory that Jacob was in God’s hand all the while that he thought he was controlling his own life. Jacob was chosen and saved by GRACE and so are we. Praise be to God in the Highest, forever and ever. Amen.

May I suggest here that we all be very aware that we not ever feel that God is ashamed of us? May we find strength for each day in knowing that God was not ashamed of Jacob (or, David for that matter) and that nothing we can do will make Him ashamed of us.

We can hurt Him and we can hurt ourselves and others, but God always loves us and is always there to help us get up and out of any trouble we get into. Let us be determined, in the year, 2014, to be reassured and comforted by these truths about God in His relationship with us. In Jesus name, and for His sake, Amen.