Monday, January 24, 2011

Completing His Joy

My husband loves to give.
Early in our marriage I would squirm at his gifts. My perceived resources to match his were meager. But I'd smile and enjoy his thoughtful selections. He’d save the gift for the right moment, then, smiling broadly, he’d present his package.

As he lavished grace, I had to learn the grace of receiving. Maturing in love revealed how I complete his joy when I embrace his gifts.

How like my relationship with my precious Lord.

God gives thoughtfully and lavishly. He has even given Himself – a magnificent, sobering gift. Knowing intimately what I need and desire, He always gives what is truly good.

I can’t repay such a Giver. But I want to give myself. My eyes sparkle, my appreciation delights His ears, and love infuses my heart.

That open-hearted acceptance mirrors God’s delight in giving. Seeing His beloved joyfully receiving completes our heavenly husband’s joy.

Doesn’t that make you smile?


See Romans 8:32; 1 Timothy 6:17; Luke 11:13.

How do you receive gifts?
Is there any notion that keeps you from receiving God’s good gifts?
Will you celebrate Christ's joy of giving by giving Him the joy of receiving?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Changing Habits


Changing habits takes perserverance, doesn't it?

Two thousand and eleven’s refreshed goals have me reordering my day, aiming at a new rhythm for life but, honestly, I miss my cup of Turkish coffee first thing in the morning.

Devotions and coffee are getting pushed to a slightly later slot. I don't like it...yet... and realize more changes might be coming. You'd think a series of small shifts wouldn't be a big deal, but every morning I have to consciously choose the new over the old routine.

There seems to be a parallel with faith training.

Sometimes, the Lord calls us to reexamine ourselves to make us more aware of His presence. Instead of merely maintaining our daily routines (including our spiritual lives), the Perfecter of our faith occasionally presents us with a challenge to strengthen that faith.

It’s uncomfortable at first, often precipitated by trial, stress, or even the turning of a year.

Come to Me. Watch, learn and imitate Me. Focus on Me. (See Matthew 11:28-29 and Hebrews 12:1-3)

As I try to activate new spiritual disciplines, I wonder if my bumbling frustrates God like it does me. But thankfully, mercy is at work.

The Scriptures tell me that Jesus stands close by, His Spirit cheering me on to persevere. Come on, don’t give up. I’ve given you my Word and My Spirit. You aren’t alone. Give it all you have! I’ll help you choose a better way.

I desire all of you -- heart, soul, and mind.

And I, each day, relish God’s persevering love in the midst of changing habits.

Choose a passage and listen for the Spirit's nudges: Matthew 11:28-29; 22: 37-40; Luke 14:25-33; Hebrews 12: 1-13.

Have you been urged to develop a new habit? What might you need to do in order to activate your faith in your Faith Trainer?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


For some reason, we still have gnats in winter. I think they live in the house plants and fly across my line of vision. I notice them when I'm reading. Sometimes I ignore them, more often I try to swat them. I stop reading and "slap and slide." It's the only way I'm guaranteed they won't slip through my hands.

Negative thoughts come to be from left field too. I can ignore them hoping they'll go away but, like gnats, they'll often circle and come back to annoy me.

But, I'm learning to SWIT them. SWIT is an acrostic my husband and I have started using: "Speak What Is True."

Truth always sets us free. Sometimes I need courage or information to SWIT it, but as I ask people who love me to give me more objective input, I can gain a better perspective on my situation. Sometimes, there is only One who loves me AND has the perspective to help me SWIT it. So I ask for help.

While the truth of my situation may not be immediately obvious to me, as I look to Jesus I learn how to SWIT -- and swat -- those gnats. One at a time.

Then I am free to focus on the task at hand for God's glory! 

Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32, NIV).

What do you think it means to know the truth? How might you need the truth to set you free?
Can you make a connection to John 14:6? Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life."
What step can you take to know Jesus Christ better so you can SWIT more effectively?

The photo was found at where they have an answer to gnats in your plants! Let me know if you have success.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Unexpected Joy

Val welcomed us with open arms to their pot luck dinner on the twelfth day of Christmas. Guests comfortably milled around and I got acquainted with my sister’s friends. I discovered two women who were writers also, which started an interesting conversation.

Later over soup and salmon I reconnected with them, heard more of their stories, and we exchanged suggestions and emails. We even snapped pictures of our newly formed threesome. I hated to disband when we were invited to the fire pit in the back, not realizing something precious was in store.

Our host suggested that, as we threw each Christmas tree twig into the fire, we could prayerfully name a wish for the New Year. The format was “Let there be….”

One by one we shared our desires. “Let there be more trust and compassion in this world.” -- “Let my work flow out of a greater intimacy with Christ.” -- “Let there be more passion in marriages built around Christ.” -- “Let there be more fathering.” -- “Let there be more clarity, courage, and discipline in my life.” – “Let me be willing to give up whatever God shows me.” – “Surrender.”

We watched the fire swirl uniquely around each twig, soaring, curling the stems, making the leaves glow. This visual of the Holy Spirit consuming what had died, bringing light and power, burned brightly.

I thanked my friends as I left, aware that new friendships and flaming prayers had brought me joy – a marker of Christ's presence. What a way to walk into this New Year!


You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence (Psalm 16:11, NIV).

What social experiences help you encounter God’s joy? Why?
What prayerful wish would you have added to the fire?