Saturday, December 24, 2016


Of late I have seen arguments that say, “Of course she did. The Angel of God told her.” (Most of these comments were of male origin. Ladies, what do you think?)

Well, I do not have actual experience with being pregnant, but I am a woman and I have paid very close attention to the process over the years; vicariously, through many friends and relatives who have been pregnant. So I am going to jump in here and say, “No, she didn't”.

So what did Mary know?

She knew she was a virgin.
How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

She also knew that she was betrothed to Joseph.
...a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.”

She did not know why Gabriel greeted her the way he did.
Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

She was told to not be afraid because this was a message of blessing from God that he was bringing.
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

So what did he actually tell her?

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants
forever; his kingdom will never end.” and
The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Mary, in turn, said “good-bye” with these words:
I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.

Then the angel left her. 


[Verse 1]
Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

[Verse 2]
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

[Verse 3]
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM

She may be declared to have known, and maybe understood, the facts of verse three; but the truth is that she didn't know exactly what that entailed.

So the rest: probably not. She pondered the praises and blessings and certain other happenings, in her heart... but, no. she didn't know what would happen or when.

And the first thing she did not know was that they would have to flea from the murderous Herod to save the baby's life.

Nor did she know that He would grow up in a fairly normal way after that. Nor did she know when He would depart to His ministry. Nor did she know exactly what His ministry would be.

Remember that those expecting the Messiah, were expecting a warrior who would grab a sword and take over the whole world. And she was raising the gentlest, wisest child ever born.

No, she did not know or realize exactly what His life would really mean. But she stepped right up and said yes to God, and promised to keep this difficult calling which came from Him:


46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Have you ever noticed that most of the truly beautiful praises recorded in God's Word come from a heart that remembers all the things that He has already accomplished? May we also have such a heart.


Thursday, September 29, 2016


As I was journaling this Sunday's sermon and went back to hear the end portion again, I was taken by the summary of the very last subject on the outline:

2 Cor 2:4 - For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

How often do we actually declare our love for other people? Or do we assume that they know that we love them and avoid telling them directly that we do? This is an age old problem that runs in families, and cultures down through time.

I am tempted to assume that in the Pharisaical culture that Paul was raised in, telling of love was a hard thing to do. Whether or not this is true, what is true is that when Paul met Christ, Christ filled him with love that ever overflowed from him to the people he was teaching.

In this case, the people had forgotten his love for them and became wrapped up in gossip about him; very negative and hurtful to him and harmful to them. As he is writing this letter he has just been through what he describes as a “life and death” situation which held him in some despair and now he is hearing about the gossip and harm that is a part of the church at this point. His heart is broken and the words he writes come from deep inside him. He must make corrections in their thinking and it weighs heavily on him to have to do that.

But he moves forward and writes an urgent letter to them from his heart; his Holy Spirit, love-filled heart! The overflow of the love that God has for Him is loudly stated in verse 2:4: I love you! I did love you, I do love you , and I will always love you; because God, Himself, gave me this love for you!

1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” We truly love only through God.

Wow. How often do we feel like that, let alone say that to the people we love?

We do not have the capacity to love a deep and abiding love without God's love in us. Love, without God's love, is always selfish. It happens when someone else makes an effort to love us and that makes us feel good. We respond to our own needs and not the needs of others. What can this love relationship do for ME; rather than how can this relationship help me do things to show love for that person.

May we grow in the ability to let God flow His great love out of us and onto others; coworkers, friends, extended family and especially to our children and our spouses. May we be quick to say “I love you,” or at least “Love ya” (and maybe a hug) to those God has given us to love.

I think that right now would be a good time for me to write down the names of as many extended relatives as I can think of and ask myself if I love them at all, let alone God's way. Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Colossians 3:14 - And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

12 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

When we were saved we became a part of the Body of Christ and were given the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us and give us the desire and the strength to be different—different from who we were and different from who non-Christians are. In many places in Scripture, we are told to be different; to cloth ourselves in various ways that protect us and help us shine in a world of darkness.

But He does not expect us to do this change alone. He gives us others , as brothers and sisters and members of the same body to reach out and achieve this change in ourselves and to help the others to also reach out in change.
Clothe yourselves with:
compassion—recognizing need and responding to it
kindness—keeping anger out of the situation
humility—taking blame wherever necessary
gentleness—speaking and acting with thoughtfulness
patience—repeating these things as often as necessary

13 - Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Most of our the simple hurts we experience in life are unintended: slights that may not have been meant as heard; injuries to our hearts or pride that may not even have been intended to hurt us, but were chosen as a hurt; some are actually intended, but may not be worth the time and effort to respond with being hurt. Checking these things off as inconsequential should be our chosen reaction. Getting angry and holding a grudge is not good for any body; yours or ours (the Body of Christ.)

This makes me think of the old adage about “If your head hurts, slam a hammer onto your finger and you will forget about your head hurting.” A pretty ridiculous thing to do, but probably true enough. Not giving others room to irritate us without creating a chasm in the body is the proper thing to do. Keeping the body healthy with forgiveness keeps the body working for Christ in the best way.

14 - And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. This summation of God's commandments for us is the key to being different; God is Love; we love because He first loved us.

He also told us that others would know us by our love for one another:

Colossians 1:7... From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.

I Corinthians13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

15 - Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Peace develops in our lives as we turn away from fear and grumbling and turn more and more to Praise and Thanksgiving:

16 - Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

One of my favorite preoccupations is to watch the sky. A clear sky is nice, but one with at least a few clouds is even better; the sky becomes a drawing board for God with wonderful patterns and shapes scattered about. Last night was an excellent example as an array of “mountainous” billowy cumulus clouds appeared in the sky reflecting the last lights of the day on bright white surfaces which appeared to be mountains in the distance. There are no mountains north of me, but it is always fun to look up and see the mountain-like clouds shining in God's Glory.

Another special time for me is catching bird pictures and videos from a site online Bird) that allows me to be a “bird watcher” from my home. It is wonderful to see the variety and colorfulness of birds around the world. There is no end to the numbers and colors and mating rituals! God's creatures are extremely beautiful (with the exception of spiders) and something to be enjoyed—from a distance—and to Praise the Lord about mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, meadows and even farmlands which are all beautiful to behold and rich and colorful enough to send us praising the Lord, the Creator of it all, even in it's sin tarnished state.

17 - And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

And, thus we are instructed to pray IN Jesus Name... “In Jesus name, and for His sake, Amen.” The world seems to despise that phrase more than even the call to Allah for destruction of all who are not themselves. But that is God's fight. Ours is to tame ourselves with praises to Almighty God, through Bible truths and wonder. Ours is to love, even as God Almighty has loved us. His love endures forever; and it is never failing! Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!

May we love one another enough to be noticed!

Friday, September 2, 2016


MARK 2:27
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

Here, Jesus was answering the Priests inquiry as to why He let His followers gather grain to eat on the Sabbath. He quite simply declared that the Sabbath was not a chain, but a blessing for all. It gave people the right to rest, for at least one day every week.

The people He included in this statement where not just the upper crust, but it did include the upper crust. And it went all the way down to the lowliest of slaves. God's commandment to keep the Sabbath was to insure that all people and animals would get a day of rest each week. For the Israelites the day was set—Saturday, the seventh day.

As the faith grew around the world and as Christ came and lived and died and rose again for us, believers began to celebrate Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day of rest in honor of His resurrection. There is a lot of debate a this, but the thing that really matters is that we take a day of rest every week.

There was a time in this country when businesses were closed and farmers did only the absolute necessities to care for their animals and then they also rested.

Now, of course, nearly all service businesses are open seven days a week, but most give their workers at least one day a week off, and most have been forced to give two days a week off; plus Holidays, and these holidays have been adjusted to be on Monday, creating a three day weekend almost every month.

All of that is to say, that we have been given more time off than seems right. But it does not stop there; especially if you count sick days, personal days, and vacation days. WOW. Talk about overkill!!

And yet, there are workers who do not get all of these privileged days off: It is those who work hard so that they can work even more; and they are primarily those who wish to move up the ladder, higher and higher. It also includes those who work for themselves and want to push themselves into what is considered successful in our society. And it includes those who are working for commissions, and pay taxes as an individual contractor. There are millions of these in this country. It also includes those who work two jobs that overlap and keep them working 7 days a week.

This is a sickness that invades our society so badly that homes are wrecked, stresses rise, and bodies fail; all because people are not taking a day of rest—at least one day of rest—each week.

We call this the “rat race” trying to be cute about it ; but mice can die of “body failure,” too, if they get too stressed out.

God gave us a clue and Jesus reiterated that clue: TAKE A DAY OF REST FROM YOUR WORK EVERY WEEK. Spend time with your family or friends and relax. Shut off your work computer; shut down your work phone; take time to breathe. The world will not end because you do that; but you might end because you did not.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


When I was young, time past too slowly. I pushed to be on with life. I am sure I am not alone in that. I pushed for school to start, I pushed for Christmas to come, I pushed for school to be out and summer to come. I pushed to be in the next level of classes.

Moving on in life was the dominate pressure. Time kept it's own schedule and I had to wait, wait, and wait. It was agony.

When I finally got out of school and I started working, time seemed to settle in: Things happened in good time and there was no need to rush. I was an adult and that was all I had been seeking as a child. Time was my friend now.

Now that I am more than officially old--declared by the letter I received from AARP, welcoming me to old age—I am frantic to slow things down. Time whizzes past me at lightening speed! Putting on the brakes does not help at all; but I keep trying.

Was it really ten years ago that I met and fell in love with several Middle School and High School teens? Are they really out there now ministering and working hard, even raising babies and trying live as good examples and good teachers of the faith. Some are actually teaching Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers. Wow. How did that all happen in such a short time?

Was it really five years ago that I helped with leading a group of five year olds learning to be cheerleaders? Now they are ten and quickly advancing through elementary school! The shoes I bought that matched the uniform shirts we wore are now officially five years old. Whoa! Too fast!

As I read in Mark this morning, I was loudly reminded that God has a timetable. He knows the beginning, the end and the circumstance of all the goes on in our lives. Mark 1:14  After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said...”

What struck me the loudest was that Jesus did not preach openly in Galilee until John was no longer preaching there! He did not push His Father's timetable! Neither did He try to stop what needed to happen in the meantime.

One of my greatest delights is that I know that God knew me before I was born and chose me to be my mother's baby. He did not place me until it was my time to be born. He did not withhold me just because I would be born in sin. It was my time and my place to be born.

He does not make mistakes and He does not waver. He sets the time. He created time. He uses time. And He knows the end of time and all things, including me.

He knows when and where and under what circumstances I will die. There is great comfort in that. Whatever happens to me, God will be in charge of whether I live or He takes me home. There is great in that truth.

I have nearly died three times: The first and second times I was completely unaware of how dangerous my problem was. The third time, I knew exactly how much danger I was in: I just smiled and let the Lord take care of everything. Obviously, He let me continue my life each time. God is Good!

Trusting God's timetable is one of the hardest things we are asked to do. We live in time and we want time! We want time to do all the things we want to do. We do not like to be interrupted. We do not like to be delayed. Nor do we like to be hurried. We have our own timetable entrenched in our heads (not necessarily a bad thing), and changes to the table are very hard for us.

But our beloved Jesus always knew when the time was right. He knew when to begin and He knew when to end. He asked the Father to override His desire for the time to die to be put off. He went willingly to the Cross to Die for our sins.

The least we can do is trust His timetable for our lives; even when it makes no sense at all to us. And that is much of the time.

Father, may we realize everyday that you are in charge of our time. And may we dedicate that time to you and to your timetable for us. May you bring us humbly to your side and walk us through this life with patience and trust. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2016



According to Galatians, apparently we better.

When I was 17, God set me straight about one very important thing: Love and hate cannot live in the same heart.

I had been hating my Dad for all of my teen years. It was a very deep hatred which bound me tightly and made me determined that I would never forgive him for his mouth and his behaviors and his complete lack of being there for me when I needed him most. The very sight of him made me want to scream and run.

However, God gently told me that we (God and I) would never be able to work out my life together if I continued to hate him. “Love and hate cannot live in the same heart.” The hate had to go, no matter how much he deserved to be hated.

It was not easy to do, but is was easy to want to do and God helped me do it.

I prayed for him as hard as I prayed for my mother and my brother. I began to do kind things for him. He interpreted it wrong, of course. But I was not responsible for his interpretations. I was responsible for not hating him and for treating him kindly for Jesus sake.


1.“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Hatred)

13-15. It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know a bout God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? The Message

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit,

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; HATRED, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

20-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Our course of action is set for us. We are forbidden to hate. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This commandment is found throughout the Bible and is as solid as a rock.

My Mercies are new every morning and My Love endures forever! Solid rock promises from God to us.

Lord, may we examine ourselves and find any hate that is in our hearts, and turn away from it back to you. In Jesus name, and for His sake, Amen.

P.S. I happen to be terrible about praying for people who's behavior and ideology appear evil to me. Only prayer can make any difference in our lives or theirs.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Today I bumped into a quote I had written perhaps more than a month ago and it stopped me short as the truth of it hit me again. “All Israel rejoices today, except for those who don't.”

This quote is from a fictional character caught up in the rejoicing over the celebration of the expected Savior. She was a wise Jewish mother in the town of Bethlehem at the time when Jesus was due to be born. But her excited exclamation can refer to anytime that we celebrate our God and our Lord: “Some do, and some don't.”

At this time of Easter, which used to be a country wide celebration, there are a multitude of people objecting to the day even being on the calendar, let alone being celebrated. Some Christians celebrate Palm Sunday; some Christians don't. Some Christians celebrate Good Friday; some don't. Some Christians get up early and go to Sunrise Services; some don't. Some Christians go to church on Easter Sunday, even though they never go there at any other time; some don't go even then.

And, then, there are those Christians and non-Christians who celebrate the day with the hiding and hunting of eggs and toys; a totally unrelated social experience that helps explain why it is a holiday to those who do not believe in the Resurrection of Christ.

The point is that “All Christendom rejoices on this day, except for those who don't.” We are not alone in our rejoicing and it goes on for 24 hours as the world turns and Sunday morning comes in places around the world.

We cannot force the world to rejoice with us. We cannot even force other Christians to rejoice with us. And we need to stop letting this truism frustrate, irritate, or anger us. We need to settle into celebrating to the max and letting those who “don't,” don't. In God's way of handling things, the “don'ts” have a purpose. It is He who will bring about His Own Glory, in His own way.

Meanwhile, we need to let our celebrating be known and to stand up for what we believe by doing, not by complaining.

This is a great time to start taking back our religious freedoms by simply doing what they say we cannot do: that is to casually bow our heads in prayer wherever we are and whatever we are doing. That alone will begin to bring about change in our lives and in the lives of others for whom we are praying.

Perhaps Good Friday at 3:00 would be a good time to start? Stop and thank God for the blood that was shed for your salvation and the pain that Jesus was willing to bare for our sake. Think about it.

Then we can move on to bigger issues that arise all around us; perhaps one at a time, as need be.

May God and His Wisdom be with us as we seek to live for Him.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


My Tenth Year Testimony

My thinking this morning jumped the fence and ran across a field before I could catch up with it. I was reading in I John 4 about recognizing the Holy Spirit in life around us and the admonition to LOVE, especially one another, because that is the way we know that the Spirit is alive in us. The chapter is all about LOVE.

Then my thinking jumped to an upcoming opportunity to share my recovery testimony and it ran off to a whole different subject: HATE

We see a lot of hate all around us, and many of us hate, or are tempted to hate, the people we see doing all these evil things. Then, perhaps, we mantra the phrase, “Hate the sin, but love the people!” This is an important proposition for Christians, but one we have trouble grasping at times.

But my mind, being set on recovery, did not hang around in that neighborhood at all. It ran right into the first words I spoke in my breakthrough to recovery: I HATE BEING ANGRY!

This was the key that turned the lock on my slavery to anger. And I was not the one who initiated that phrase. In fact, I was not sure who said that; and it stopped me in my tracks to think that I had said that. Why? Because I had always LOVED my anger. It was my go to, feel good about myself addiction.

Now, ten years later, I can say HATE is what brought me back to sanity. Hating being angry gave me reason to hope for a life not controlled by the anger. Hating being angry, and HATING the person I became every time I became angry, were tools God used to bring me out of the darkness of anger and into the light of LOVE.

So, as I mulled over these thoughts I developed a sermon on that subject:

If you want to recover from any Hurt, Hang Up or Habit (Recovery speak), then you need to let yourself HATE IT. You cannot play with it. You cannot continue to love it. More than that, you cannot continue to love the person you are—or become--when you submit to it. You must HATE that person. You must hate the ugly person you become and you must hate the addiction that brings that person out.

The ugly truth is that most addictions are loved.

That is why they are so hard to give up. They are like little teddy bears to the addicted. We reach for them, grab them to us, and hug them tightly. If recovery is going to work—it is TIME TO HATE.

We all know that “God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but shall have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) We also know that God is LOVE and that because God loves us, we can love others. But God does HATE something: He HATES sin. And we need to HATE our sin and the person we become when we sin.

God loves; God IS love; God sees us through loving eyes and aches to have us see ourselves as He sees us. But all we seem able to see is the helplessness and hopelessness of our lives. God has plans for all of us. But we are fully capable of thwarting those plans with our choices to continue loving and participating in our addictions.

It is time to start HATING. Not the people around us. Not even their sinful behavior and contemptible actions; but our own contemptible actions and behaviors. It is time to hate our addictions with a passion and to give them up to the power of Christ to heal us and to love us through it all.

Ten years later, I still have to be aware of the possibility of falling into anger again. I still have to watch out for all the little ways anger calls me back into its fold. I still struggle to keep myself clean from thoughts and habits which bring strength to the anger that wants to control me.

God loves me and He sees me through the blood of Christ, a veil I cannot see. The blood of Christ had paid for my sins and God has chosen to forget them. Thus, the need for us to dump our garbage and not carry it around with us. Confess it. Dump it by talking about it as a past thing, and never look back except to share your pain with others in pain.

He knows who I really am and He guides me into becoming stronger in the faith that keeps me at His side in all that I do. My weakness is His strength.

His plan is to make it all count for His Glory and for my Joy. He doesn't remember the screwed up me; He remembers the child He placed in my mothers womb and the child He has been guiding all along. He sees me as His child and loves me more than I can imagine.

At least a part of His plan is for my screw ups to help others with their screw ups. I hope my screw ups and healing have helped you. Praise the Lord! God is good.