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    No Room

    Sometime when you’re tempted to binge-watch “The Simpsons,” reach for a pencil instead.  Jot down the names of five people who have had a positive impact on you?  How would your life be different if they had never been born?
     
    We know about the “No Vacancy” sign at the Bethlehem Holiday Inn. 
     
    When Gabriel told young Mary that she’d bear a son, what if she and Joseph had said, “No, thank you?”
     
    How would your life be different if that baby had not been born?
     
     
    “I am here with good news for you which will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day in David’s town your Savior was born – Christ the Lord!  And this is what will prove it to you:  you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:10-11
     
    Posted March 16, 2019

    Mad About You

    Rage has reached epidemic proportions in our country today.  We seem to have plenty to be mad about.  But, honestly, do we really expect anybody to be perfect?  Who among us is without sin?
     
    The Bible says God knows you intimately, even your every thought, before you think or speak.  He never stops thinking of you, loving you so much that, to pardon all of your sins, He had His Son crucified.  This is the most profound truth:
     
    God is mad about you, not at you.

     
    “If God is for you, who can be against you?  Certainly not God …”  Romans 8:31-32

    Posted March 1, 2019

    Young at Heart

    Their 5-year-old daughter has a hole in her heart.  Imagine her parents’ anguish as two surgeons from the University of Minnesota explain what’s next.
     
    Wrapped in a special blanket to lower her body temp to 81 degrees, she’ll need less oxygen.  The anesthetic gives the O.R. team up to ten full minutes for the procedure.
     
    The clock starts as the doctors open the chest, block the blood flow into the heart, do the repair and sew up the hole.  A warm bath returns her body temp to normal. Success!  It’s September 2, 1952 … the world’s first open heart surgery.
     
    Imagine the weight lifted from those parents.  Jesus said, “Don’t let your heart be troubled.  You believe in God the Father; then believe in me also.”
     
    Do you believe in Him? 
     
     
    “My health fails; my spirits droop, yet God remains! He is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever!”   Psalm 73:26
     
    Posted February 15, 2019

    Ten to One

    Life is filled with distractions.  Maybe even most of life. 
     
    List 10 things you want to accomplish in the next 12 months.  Now whittle that down to just 3 goals.  Eliminate 2 of those, and there’s your #1 task for the year.
     
    What could keep you from achieving it?  List 10 such hindrances. (That shouldn’t be hard!)  Shrink them down to 3.  Now delete 2.  There it is -- the landmine which, as far as you know, is most likely to spoil what you most want to happen.
     
    Would you agree that the quality of your next year depends largely on how you deal with distractions?
     
     
    "Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Never rely on what you think you know.  Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way.  Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong.”  Proverbs 3:5-7
     
    Posted February 1, 2019

    Graze Anatomy

    Gray clouds press in on my window.  Their soggy fingerprints blur the Olympic Mountains which, for now, are hiding across the murky Puget Sound.  I’m enveloped in grayness.  It prompts a question: 
    What lacks taste, color and shape but is the most prevalent molecule in existence?
     
    If you answered, “Water,” good on you.  The Carpenter from Nazareth transformed water into fine wine.  And He told the woman at the well, “Those who drink this water will thirst again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again.  The water I give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”
     
    Jesus’ friend, John, was given a larger-than-Imax vision of the New Heaven and the New Earth in which he sees the Lord say, “To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it.. … I will be their God, and they will be My children.”
     
     Here’s a question from the Good Shepherd who longs to lead you by still waters:
     
    “Thirsty?”
     
    “… Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in Me should drink …”  John 7:37-38
     
    Posted January 14, 2019

    Fruit of the Moment Club

    In this festive season as you wrap and unwrap those colorful expressions of affection, here’s a thought.  Why not unwrap a broken relationship and re-wrap it in healing words of LOVE?  Someone you know is struggling with loss or fear.  Here’s a roll of JOY to place around their drooping shoulders.  One of your friends is overcome with stress, longing to be enfolded in a shawl of PEACE.
     
    This trio of LOVE, JOY and PEACE is packaged with PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.  You may recognize these as “the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”  Harry & David ship their nutritious delights monthly, but these flavors of the very nature of God are instantly accessible for you to give to family, friends, co-workers and strangers whom you encounter daily.
     
    Could you picture yourself operating a fruit stand, freely handing out an endless array of fresh reminders of the gift of God’s love and forgiveness?
     

    “Every good gift and every perfect present comes from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change...”  James 1:17

    Posted January 1, 2019

    Count On It

    In 1972 we were singing along with Bill Withers …
    “You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand.
    We all need somebody to lean on.”
     
    Are you banking on wealth, health, yourself or others?  Eventually all will disappoint, except One …
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    Never rely on what you think you know.
    Remember the Lord in everything you do,
    and He will show you the right way. 
    Never think that you are wiser than you are;
    simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong …
     If you do, it will be like good medicine,
    healing your wounds and easing your pains.
     
    Are you sure of where you’ve placed your trust?
     
    “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”  Philippians 1:6

    Posted December 16, 2018

    The Family Table

    It was the fall of ’79.  Those fabled, Stargellian Pirates sailed past Montreal, Cincinnati and Baltimore to capture their fifth World Series crown.  Remember the Bucs’ signature song?  #1 on the R&B charts, it was Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” appealing to “my brothers, my sisters and me” to “get up, everybody, and sing.”
     
    Getting the whole gang together has become nearly impossible.  The family table has skidded from “endangered species” to “extinct.”  It struggles to resurface on certain holidays, but political correctness has laid so many verbal land mines which can clear-cut whole forests of family trees.
     
    What about saying grace?  Whatever happened to “the family that prays together?”  Will mentioning “our Father” offend or step on someone’s “rights?”
     
    When Jesus summarized His Father’s message to us in a single sentence, did He intend for our relatives to be among those “neighbors” whom we’re to love?  That stripe of love is patient, kind, humble, generous, content, non-judgmental.  You know, all the things that you and I by nature are not.  But Jesus is.
     
    Next time you take a seat at your family table, will you recall how much God loves you, then tell your face to reflect that love when you say, “Please pass the gravy?”
     
     
    “I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains – but if I have no love, I am nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:2-3
     
    Posted November 30, 2018

    What's The Good Word

    In It may be too early in the day to try to spell, or even pronounce, this gangly word:
     
    Onomatopoeia.  Does this help:  “on-o-ma-toe-p-uh?”
     
    Its roots are Greek, meaning “word making.”  This seldom spoken but often used figure of speech imitates the sound of what it’s describing.  Mumble through this list and see what I mean:  Bang, coo, oink, meow, roar, chirp, soothe, crash, pop, baa, boom, beep, bow-wow, choo-choo, fizz, hiccup, moo, screech, splash, toot and zap.
     
    This linguistic tool can add a splash of color or a soothing sound to your word making.  The Old Testament proverb reads, “Like golden apples in silver settings, so is a word spoken at the right time.” 
     
    Our discourse can be coarse or caring, harsh or helpful.  Will you join me in this whisss-purrred prayer today? 
     
    “Let the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Helper and my Savior.”  Psalm 19:14
    Psalm 1:1-3
     
    Posted November 17, 2018

    Up A Tree

    In 1914 one of poetry’s most beloved achievements was published. It begins….
     
    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    It was penned by Joyce Kilmer who, as an Army intelligence officer in Europe, was slain by a sniper in 1918. His love of the Creator’s handiwork lingers a century later.
     
    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    Civilization is framed by two trees. Eve and Adam disobeyed God’s warning to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their sin, inherited by us, prompted God to dramatically demonstrate His love for you and me on a wooden cross. If Kilmer’s gift for bringing trees to life could give voice to these trees, what would they reveal?
     
    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    As we marvel at these magnificent, ever-changing, forested festivals, may we dedicate some of their oxygen to give thanks to the brilliant Mind Who invented trees.
     
    Will you consider turning over a new leaf today to thank God for the tree that makes it possible for you to live in the protective shade of His love forever?
     
    “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3

    Posted November 2, 2018
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