Thursday, December 20, 2012


“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” 
She'd been startled, heard the greeting, questioned, received information, and guessed at the challenges ahead. Now, she had a choice.
God chose her because she already held Him dear in her heart. Her yes would make her a special vessel for Messiah. Her yes would subsequently challenge us when we had to choose between receiving or rejecting God's purposes. Costly, rewarding--yes.
She could have objected because the town gossips would have a heyday with her growing belly. Her life would be thrown into upheaval from a newborn before her wedding. Even worse: Joseph might think she'd had an affair.
Instead, she spoke what was in her heart. She was the Lord's servant. She would do whatever it took to be a part of God's grand scheme of salvation.
Examine attitudes that prepare you to say yes to God's instructions.
Consider how your yes (righteous response) impacts others.
 Consider the impact of Jesus' YES:
Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men (Romans 5:18, NIV).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Do Not Be Afraid

This draft was written before the recent horrendous events in Connecticut. As we continue praying for those precious folk who are grieving, may they hear the voice of Immanuel, the God of comfort.

Why wouldn't she have been afraid? She'd likely not seen an angel before. The unearthly being brought a personal message that would change her life.


But God's word through Gabriel also calmed her. I'm sure the Scripture had become part of her mental and emotional fabric. She would have memorized much of it through hours of study and meditation. Because she lived in God’s presence, she could recognize God’s voice however it came.


Mary's heart and intellect were so given to God that her dialogue with Him was authentic and precious to them both. Now she was about to enter a phase of obedience that would challenge, delight, and tear her heart and mind.


God's perfect love comes, whether heralded by an unfamiliar angel or by a familiar scriptural phrase,  and His presence reminds us, Do not be afraid.



As you prepare for Advent, examine yourself for any fear you might have and why. Talk to Immanuel, and listen for the Holy Spirit who comes to you through the Scriptures or circumstances. How could you address your fear [or grief] together?


Meditate on 1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

 Thank God for the perfect love He shows us through His beloved, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fully Committed

Mary was young, poor, and a woman--not qualities the intelligentsia would have chosen to bear the Most High's Messiah.
We don't know if she was plain or stunning but, spiritually, she was all God's--available to His wisdom and strength. God assigned her to be the perfect mother for His Son. Pure, astute, and willing, she chose to lay her will under God's.
Whether 16 or 62, on food stamps or a 400K salary, woman or man, God chooses us for special jobs. He sees what we can't. The Almighty has ways to help us overcome the challenges. Our Lord doesn't measure like Wall Street or Washington, Harvard or Hollywood.

The Creator's eye, clear and infinite, sees what we can't. Our King reveals that He is looking for hearts completely given to Him.


The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV '84).

Do you acknowledge that God chooses YOU for unique purposes for which He hand selected you? (See Ephesians 2:9-10.) How might God's measure of your suitability be different from your own?

Would God say you are fully committed?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”

When God communicates with us it can be like fading quill strokes on aging parchment: it takes scrutiny to read accurately. Sometimes, it’s like bold print on white background: clarity that makes our hearts jump.
Gabriel's presence and greeting were unmistakable and Mary found his presence troubling.

While he would explain more as she asked, the God-given assignment was going to stretch not only her womb but her trust.

But God had selected her for the task.


Read and meditate on Luke 1:26 -30

Has the Lord ever sent you a clear message that initially troubled you?

What did you do with your initial disequilibrium?  What insights did you gain?

[This painting looks like Ron DiCianni's work, but I can't decipher the signature. If you know, please let me know whose work it is. Thank you.]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Favor With God

"The Annunciation" c.1898
by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) American artist

It was an ordinary day. Mary may have been washing dishes or preparing a meal. She may have been studying the scriptures she loved so well. But Gabriel's greeting brought consternation enough that he had to calm her. "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God."

Favor with God? She wasn't perfect. She knew her shortcomings in contrast with the holy God who had often spoken to her through the Jewish scriptures. Now there was this amazing creature speaking God's message to her.

Highly favored by God. God, the Lord, with her: words to savor for days and years.


Meditate with me on some of the Lucan passage as we prepare for Christ's birth.
Read Luke 1:26-30

Has the Lord ever broken into an ordinary day with an unusual message? What was it?

Pay attention to ways that your Creator has shown you favor. When you notice and thank God for favor, do you become aware of anything else?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Joshua Goes Ahead of Us

Joshua also will cross over ahead of you.

I hunted for the scripture that exhorts us to choose life. Deuteronomy 30 and 31 gave me many fresh exhortations as I thought of approaching retirement, but verse three of chapter 31 flashed at me. The rest faded. Joshua will cross over before me!

Before his death, Moses was passing on God's instructions. God's people were to cross into the Land of Promise with the Lord himself and Joshua in the lead.

Joshua, whose name means The Lord Saves, is the Hebrew equivalent of Jesus in the Greek. It's not a long jump to see the parallels.

As we choose life and follow God's instructions, we start seeing the fruit of God's promises. Along the journey, our trust and love of God grows and flourishes. Each moment of trust leads to God sightings.

Theirs was a time of transition and new challenges. Joshua would go ahead of the people. Great challenges would test their faith and fortitude, but God had given them a brave leader, chosen and equipped by God's grace. 

Getting ready to cross over into the unknown land of retirement, I meditated, chewed on the Word, and left the Table satisfied.


He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out... He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3-4, NIV).

Meditate on Deuteronomy 31:1-8 or John 10:1-5.

What transition do you face? Could you use a brave and experienced leader?

How well do you know and trust Joshua?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Best Broken

We give Jesus our best and He breaks it.

Like 5 loaves and 2 fishes, our best may be just enough to meet our needs, but Jesus has bigger plans than we initially know.

He accepts our small offering, blesses, then tears our bread and fish.

It's not like He doesn't practice what He preaches. When He tore the bread at Passover, He said it was His body that would give life. The Master sets the course for the disciple.

You'd think the torn and broken would need to be tossed.

No. Jesus wastes nothing. In fact, He multiplies the broken, like a buried grain of wheat that breaks open to birth new grain.  He takes delight when we open-handedly release our resources, regardless of what shape they are in. He uses the foolish things to confound the wise. As we give Him our all and wait willingly, we encounter His surprises. When we trust Him, He may break and use our treasure. But in ways only our powerful Savior can, He multiplies those resources.

We observe God's work more clearly as we look back, and His work inspires awe. Just as Jesus was broken for many, so He breaks us to multiply God's presence through us.

Then we become fishes and loaves in His hands--broken to feed much more than one hungry belly. The Bread of Life makes us like Jesus Christ and we can spread God's love.

We're best broken.


Luke 9:10-17 - Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

In retrospect, can you recognize an excruciating experience that God used to reveal more of Himself in you? What did you learn from the breaking? the blessing? the multiplying?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Singing God's Song

There were mainly older folk in the audience, but they were attentive. I mentioned how the Lord confirmed the topic of holiness through a hymn I'd recently sung during my devotions. I also shared, in passing, that I sometimes make up tunes to unfamiliar hymns so I can sing them to God.

After the program, Kitty shared that she also made up songs. She wove her melodies with Scripture, which proved a great help in memorizing them. We enjoyed talking at length, for she obviously loved God and His Word. She told me she sometimes sings those scriptures over individuals as God leads--usually friends.

Before we ended our conversation, she told me she had a gift for me. She began to sing.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid [John 14:27].

My heart warmed at the sound of a stranger-turned-friend singing God's Word over me. Grinning wide, I filled with gratitude. We had a holy encounter.

She had become Jesus to me by singing God's song.


The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing [Zephaniah 3:17, NIV].

How can you be a part of singing God's song over someone?

If you could hear God singing over you, what would you wish to hear?

Look for an opportunity to encourage someone on Jesus' behalf today.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I’ll Have What She’s Having

“Have we begun to walk the practical path in grace? Do we know anything about the practice of pain? Watch what the Bible has to say about suffering, and you will find the great characteristic of the life of a child of God is the power to suffer, and through that suffering the natural is transformed into the spiritual."  -Oswald Chambers
I cannot remember Auntie without thinking about my favorite thing at her house: her water. She would take water which was probably from a spring somewhere in her backyard, put it in old Rum bottles, and allow it to become ice cold in the door of her refrigerator. It was easily the best water I’ve ever tasted… if you don’t believe me, ask Daniel.

But even more refreshing than the water was listening to someone who had seen and experienced so much throughout her life with unwavering strength and faith. Auntie had endured so much pain, suffering, and aloe juice in her life, yet did not become calloused or ungrateful. Instead, she became kind and selfless.

By 2005, both my grandmothers had passed away. They left a void that Auntie happily filled. She provided plenty of love, wisdom, laughs, and Turkish coffee. She helped put things into perspective. Medical education is a breeding ground of selfishness and pride; we study to get better grades than our classmates in order to attain superior residencies. I was always challenged by how Auntie had time to put the needs of others before her own; it changed how I studied. It motivated me to help others learn instead of focusing only on myself. For a few hours the week before each exam, I tried to do what Auntie has done her whole life.

Because of Auntie, I have tasted the most refreshing water on earth. Yet no matter how much I drank, I was left wanting more. Jesus tells us that that “whosoever drinks of the water I give shall never thirst.” Auntie personally knew what that verse meant. She had joy and hope even in the bleakest situations. She kept her sense of humor and faced adversity with grace. She knew that in our weaknesses, He is strong. In the circus of everyday life, I find myself distracted by the wants and needs of my own selfish pursuits. My prayer is that one day I may be like Auntie—content with all things, yet only satisfied by the living water.

Note: One of my Mom's greatnephews, Souhail Karram, a med student, sent this to be read at her funeral almost a year ago.
Thank you, Souhail.
May you always be satisfied by (and offer others) that living water. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hope-ful Waiting

When, heartsick, hope slips through our fingers, despair squeezes in to take its place. News reports, politics, riots and rage all siphon off hope. Yet beyond what we can see, God's love is active. Unchanged. Unfailing.

We watched Jakob the Liar recently, an intriguing story of hope's medicine in a German concentration camp. It opens with Jakob's futile efforts to grab an elusive newspaper page until, because of curfew, he has to report to the Commandant of the camp.
There he hears a snippet on the news that the Russians are close. The next day he tells his friends and word spreads that Jakob has a radio.

 Their longing for hope precipitates imaginary news. That infuses life as they entertain the idea of freedom. Depression is not now as pervasive. Suicides are held at bay.

Without giving away the story, let me say that, even in horrific times, God's love brings hope. Theirs came as a snippet of radio broadcast and a good dose of imagination. Ours might come in a casual comment, an author’s perspective, or a verse of the day.

Today, Psalm 33 reminded me:

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV '84)

Waiting -- in hope -- changes the most dismal situation. The circumstances might resist change, but our choice to trust God becomes a shield against depression and despair. Thank God, this is not fanciful thinking. The good news is our King comes to save. His unfailing love rests on us as we hope in Him.

Exhale. And wait hope-fully.


Meditate on Psalm 33:20-22 and listen for the Spirit's insight.

Recall a time when God used a small detail to unlock hope in your life. Ask for more insight about the events, and thank God for His unfailing love that came [comes] to rest on you.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grace Gifts

Passionately committed to Jesus Christ, Patti's eyes flash and her smile broadens as she shares insights from scriptures.

Recently, she told me she was praying for me and had her church prayer group praying as well.

To what did I owe that?


We don't even go to the same church. She noticed I needed prayer and did something about it. Her kindness demonstrated the body of Christ at work. One sees a need and the other, who has the capacity to meet that need, responds productively.

 It reminded me how simple things done in love make a big difference. Her expression of love clearly reflected God's care. It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 which teach that God's grace gifts are for blessing others. That mutuality of interacting the way God designed brings God much pleasure.

When love is genuine and God inspired, it shines a spotlight on God's love. Everyone involved gets to enjoy the fruit of obedience. And we love one another -- and God --  more deeply.


1 Peter 1:22 (NIV)
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

When was the last time you used one of your spiritual gifts to bless someone? Were you aware of the Christ-like love it engendered? How did it impact your own life?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Revealer of Mysteries

It's an interesting story of crushing circumstances, uncommon integrity, and courageous trust.

King Nebuchadnezzer had called his wise men and asked the impossible: that they describe his troubling dream and interpret it. If they didn't deliver, they wouldn't live.

Only the gods could do that, they said. And the gods didn't live among humankind.

True. Except for the one true God who can reveal mysteries.
Daniel and his friends fasted and pleaded with God to have mercy and give them the answer.

After God revealed the mystery, Daniel was quick to give God thanks and praise (Daniel 2:20-23).

 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you. (Daniel 2:23, NIV)

Sometimes only God can resolve our complicated situations. We do our research and weigh our options, but variables stretch like an endless country road. Our God is with us. He is real and vitally involved in our lives. As we earnestly seek God's wisdom, He will reveal what we need to know.

Trusting Him brings life.


See Jeremiah 33:3, then read Daniel 2.

Where can you see yourself in this story? What can you learn about God? What can you learn from Daniel?

Do you have a mystery that needs God's help?

Notice Daniel's strategy. Have you ever asked others to join you in prayer for a critical situation? Have you ever added fasting with prayer? What kind of insights did you gain?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

He Still Blesses

While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God (Luke 24:51-53, NIV).

His disciples knew He was leaving. He had told them. And, as He left, He blessed them. They worshiped Him and were filled with joy. 

Back in the temple they continued to praise. They remembered what He'd taught, how He'd forgiven sins, healed the lame, and explained the big picture of the Kingdom of God.

How could they not praise? Jesus had closed the gap between them and God. They marvelled as they shared their encounters with the resurrected Christ.

From the throne room Jesus still blesses. He becomes real to us as we learn to we see by faith, hear His words, and make them our own. Becoming close followers of Jesus Christ still brings amazing blessings. Forgiven and with new life, we grow in faith, service, and the power of God's strength.

Are you open to His blessings, and will you joyfully pass them on?


The greatest blessing is to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (See Romans 5:9-11). Examine what that means to you today. What are some practical implications?

Now take time to worship the Giver. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with His joy.

Monday, August 20, 2012


So Long Insecurity: you've been a bad friend to us.

The Beth Moore title I was reading addressed the ugliness that we sometimes see in ourselves. The following thought arrested my reading and hoisted a flag. It's not that we need to pretend we are perfectly beautiful or lovely. But God, perfectly beautiful and lovely, has chosen to live in us despite our imperfections. His presence makes lovely places.

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty" (Psalm 84:1, NIV).

I know I am God's dwelling place, but this nuance joined some dots to draw a new vision of glory. I have imagined the magnificent throne room where the glory of God emanates, also the newly dedicated Jewish temple where the Shekinah (presence) of God overwhelmed the priests. Experiencing God's holiness, they fell on the faces. I too, have fallen on my face as I worshiped, my living room transformed into a holy place. Lovely.

But me, a lovely place? My being made lovely by the King of Glory's presence?

Each time I look at this new flag waving spiritual insight, I smile at the lift it brings. Lovely! I am lovely. Amazing grace. My soul longs for more of the Lord's presence. What He fills, He transforms. His glory fills the place.

Fill me, Lord. I am lovely, because YOU are lovely!


Read Psalm 84 quietly and invite the Lord Almighty to reveal the beauty of His presence.

View the loveliness of the living God filling you. Bask in that presence and receive the gift.

Stay close to the altar -- you and all that concerns you (see verse 3). Count the blessings from trusting His presence.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All We Need

Often I try to extract a little more turkish coffee to add after the first sips from our full demitasses. Recently, the slow pour produced more than usual.  I was surprised.  

Walking away from the freshly filled cup, this thought popped into my mind: That's how I do it. I never shortchange My children. I always give generously. Keep watching for Me!

We've been looking at houses on the internet and praying for wisdom in our choices: location, compatibility with the community, and possibilities for serving the Lord. Many yet unanswered questions tempt me to worry, and the precious Holy Spirit reminds me to keep committing these concerns to the Lord.

God is generous, kind, compassionate ... and well able to provide all we need. Remember the widow's oil that kept flowing when she obeyed the prophet's word (2 Kings 4)? Sometimes, when we least expect it, our Lord surprises us with unusual provisions -- for both small and large needs. Whether it's an extra teaspoon of coffee or wisdom for a big decision, our generous Father provides our needs. His resources are endless -- steady and fresh every morning (See Lamentations 3:23-24, Philippians 4:19).

Lord, please help us trust you with our future. Help us focus on what is true about You, remember how You have provided in the past, and meditate on Your promise to provide what we need.


Ask God's Spirit to speak to an area of anxiety in your life.
What might He say?
What verse might you use to remind you that God's grace is enough for you?

Here are some for starters:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1)

God is able to make all grace about to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

(The last two verses reference people who generously gave to God. They had experienced God's generosity to them and were gladly giving back to others in need.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Brown Shirt

A brown shirt on a passing motorcyclist caught my eye. I couldn't read most of the white print, but deciphered 1 Peter 5:7. Somehow, I knew it was for me.

When I got home, I read and meditated on the verse and its context.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)

Several weeks of poor communication and misunderstanding with someone I love had been wearing on me. I had been trying to navigate choppy waters and had allowed anxieties to build. Surprising behavior had kicked off intense frustration, and my tension persisted with each wave.

The brown shirt reminded me of forgotten instructions for challenging times. God's Spirit used it to help me empty my anxieties while in my heavenly Father's arms. It also reminded me that more was involved than I could see.  I needed to humble myself... cast my anxiety on him... resist the devil...stand firm in faith.

The passing motorcyclist has no idea how God used his shirt in my life. Amazing, isn't it, how God uses ordinary triggers for extraordinary grace?! 


Read and meditate on 1 Peter 5:6-11.

Is there an attitude or behavior that you need to humbly give God? Do you trust His care for you?

Since you have an enemy intent on your demise, what practical step can you take to resist and stand firm in your faith?

How might God use a simple gift of yours to impact others?

Take at least 30 seconds to thank the God of all grace who, himself, restores and makes you strong.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Anticipation heightens delight. I am making sure everything is dusted, there's food in the fridge and special plans in place to enjoy time with my daughter and son-in-love.

The count down is almost over. I've tried to control my excitement so I could pay attention to my regular to do list, but two days before arrival, I had to call my daughter. I left a voice mail, my tone high with excitement: 'I can't wait to see you!'

We keep the relationship alive through phone calls, prayers, and visits. I'm getting to know my new son better, and our relationship keeps growing as we spend time, discuss issues, pray, and laugh together.

We experience our Friend, Jesus, in similar ways. We read His letters, talk, laugh, cry, and work together. We haven't seen Him yet. But we love Him as surely as if we had.

Even before I called Samira, I realized that, if I were Jesus, I'd enjoy that kind of anticipation of my coming.

The hard thing is that we don't know exactly when His coming will be. I wonder if that's why we keep the excitement controlled. Perhaps,because we've waited for years and He hasn't come yet, we've backburnered anticipation and gotten consumed with today's to do list.

Remember, though, He told us to watch for Him. To live in anticipation because His coming could be anytime.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy"(1 Peter 1:8).

Maybe this reminder will fire our passion for seeing Him. Maybe we can allow the Holy Spirit (present in us) to fill us with "inexpressible and glorious joy" as we experience Him now, while anticipating Jesus' coming to get us.


How often do you think of Christ's return?
What difference does that make in your life?
What difference do you wish it made?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections on Psalm 77

It's past midnight and your thoughts won't quiet.You shift your face on the pillow, but its softness is no comfort for worry. So you cry out silently to God. You beg for sleep and ask the Lord to take care of each situation that's playing in your mind.

That's what Asaph did.

"Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?.... Has God forgotten to be merciful?" (Psalm 77:7-9)

Distress blames and makes innuendo. Fear stands in the background, and worry stews.

Regardless of our source of worry, we have a choice. We can continue worrying, counter productive as it is, or start recalling God's interventions.

That's what Asaph did. It works for me too.

He meditated on God's mighty interventions. In His people's great trouble, Jehovah, more powerful than any opposition, intervened. Directing creation, He opened a path through the sea. It's true the Israelites could not see God, but they saw His work. He had promised to deliver and He kept His promise.

Like a shepherd who cared for his flock, the Lord delivered the people He loved (verse 20).

Troubled? Remember to meditate on God and His help. Your confidence will grow, and your relationship with the Lord will be revitalized.

True rest is the reward of trusting our Shepherd's guidance and power.


Cherish a memory when God made a way out when you were backed in a corner. Let that revive confidence in God's help. 

Will you take 30 seconds to praise the Lord for His "mighty arm"? That can set the tone for the next 24 hours if you so desire.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Signature Fragrance

Paul helps us understand God's work in us through the metaphors of letter and fragrance.
Letter writing takes cooperation of mind, pen and paper. When Christ writes on our cooperative hearts, the resulting letter reflects God's character -- life-giving and fragrant.

Interestingly, Christ's fragrance on us smells like death to some, but life to others. This is not surprising because Jesus warned his disciples that his servants would experience extremes of reception and rejection (see John 15:20-21).

As we become more like our Master, when, "in Christ," the Spirit writes in our hearts, the results are distinctive: death to the old, life to the new! And joy, peace, patience ... undernotes of a great fragrance.

 "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God" (2 Cor 3:4).

If we are cooperating with the Spirit's writing on our hearts, we read clearly and smell good. Christ's costly fragrance has the power to draw or turn people away. And in difficulties that crush our tender places, we find new undernotes of Christ's sweet fragrance.

So, no matter how things appear, we can have confidence that God is working and will use us to spread his Signature Fragrance.  Full co-operation with God's Spirit is critical. That's how we discard cheap imitations  and wear the real thing.

Oh! I found its name in 2 Corinthians 2:14. 



Read 2 Corinthians 2:14 - 3:4

What is Christ's current signature fragrance in your life? Can you see that your challenges may be refining your Designer's fragrance in you?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina (pronounced Lexio Diveena),  describes a process to read and interact with the scriptures. The latin translation is "divine or spiritual reading." This method, used often by the early church fathers and mothers, leans on the Holy Spirit to alert us to the Living Word's communication.

Books, not mere paragraphs, have been written on the Lectio, so I can only attempt to pique your interest. I pray it will energize your pursuit of God.

Before you start this process, please pray Psalm 119:18 and ask the God of Scripture to open your eyes to see wonderful things.

1. READ your selected passage of scripture as if it were your first time. Listen for the phrase that calls for your attention.

Searching with fresh eyes links you with the Holy Spirit. It is He who gives us the gift of discovery.

2. The second reading is to REFLECT or meditate, and especially on the phrase that waved flags at you. As you sit quietly, ask yourself, What does this mean for me? How might this address a situation I am in?

Again, imagine the Holy Spirit with you, steering your bike in the direction of discovery, spreading a picnic in a new place, and offering you food for nourishment.

3. Your third reading is a prayerful response. You RESPOND to God's revelations. The insights you receive become the content of your requests.

As you lift your insight to the God of all grace, you open yourself further to relationship. The rhythm of asking and receiving according to God's Word makes your confidence grow. 

4. Your fourth reading is for RESTing in God's presence. Like a baby weaned, imagine cares drained away and your self held in capable, loving arms.       

Lean into the heart of God. Know that the Holy Spirit has conveyed your request. Let the Lord's joy, peace, healing -- or whatever grace you requested -- fill you.

Then, from a freshly filled heart, thank God for lovingly meeting you at your point of need.

"I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content"  Psalm 135:2(NIV).

If you are unfamiliar with spiritual reading, consider trying it with Psalm 135 or another passage that comes to mind. 

Reference: Exploring the Way (Companions in Christ, Upper Room.See www.companions

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

It was God's Friday when God gifted His Son, Jesus, as the sacrificial Lamb. He prayerfully endured through betrayal to the brutal cross.

Jesus was clearly in charge of the timing. More than once He had escaped efforts to stone or snare Him. His time had not yet come. He did exactly as His Father instructed though He clearly knew what lay ahead as The Passover Lamb.

We often meditate on the high cost Jesus paid. Yes, God the Son drank the cup of wrath (the Passover Cup) for us, identifying it as His blood that would be spilled in place of ours. Our Creator who had put on flesh paid a horrid price for our salvation.

But there is another price: God the Father's.

Can we know what pain ripped the Father's heart to watch His sinless Son suffer? God knew there would be many who would spurn and spit on His beloved, His lavish gift. He knew many who would wear His Son's name as a religious badge without being changed by His life giving blood.

What does a holy Father do when His Son literally takes on sin and death for the whole world?  As Christ's body was torn and Father heard Jesus ask why He had left Him alone in agony, I imagine His own heart ripped in anguish. This was not merely a child getting a shot in a doctor's office. The pain was exponentially more complex, even unimaginable.

Both Father and Son gave the supreme gift of love. Both were torn. But that's not all. God caused the heavy temple curtain to be ripped from top to bottom, revealing it was now possible to come into His presence.

It was a horrible day. But it was a good day.


If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?   (Romans 8:32, The Message)

Quietly allow the love that hung Jesus on the cross to penetrate your heart and bring you into God's healing presence.

Oh and then thank Him. Thank Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quiet Time

I've chosen mornings to have my alone, quiet time with God. Not because I'm naturally an early morning person, but because I've found time in God's word sets a can-do attitude to my day. It reminds me who I am, and Whose I am.

Just as I see the sun rising, early Scripture meditation shift my eyes to Sun of Righteousness. I often find healing at dawn and light for my journey as I quiet myself before Love. Truth steadily corrects faulty conclusions, give information and motivation to reorder my steps, all the while reminding me of God's amazing presence.

I remember years of waking to find my mother already in her chair reading her Bible. If I was available, she would recruit me to listen and then pray with her. If I happened to sleep late, I would find her infused with life as she braided worship and work while singing hymns and choruses in her kitchen and garden.

If you are just beginning to start a regular time with the Lord and God's Word, here are some suggestions.

1. Start short and regular. That is, unless you have lots of time and you are hungry to experience God.
You need to decide how much time is realistic. In your morning routine, can you find 5 minutes? Ten? Half an hour? You will probably have to reorder your priorities and routine? Perhaps your long cup of coffee with the morning paper might become a long cup of coffee with the Scriptures and a notebook.

2. Choose your focus. Are you going to read a book from the Old or New Testament? Or a passage from a devotional aid (like The Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest, or many others)? You might check suggestions in a recent post, Pointers for Focus. 

3. Initial Invitation. Before you read that God-breathed and living book (See 2 Timothy 3:16. Also see previous post, Pointers for Focus), invite the Holy Spirit, Lord of the Scriptures, to 'open your eyes so you can see wonderful things in God's Word' (see Psalm 119: 18).

4. Attentiveness. After your prayer for illumination, as you read the passage, watch for the Spirit's spotlights on the text, jot a few insight or application notes in a notebook, then close in prayer. Five to seven minutes is a good start. (I will do a brief blog later on the lectio divina.)

5. Components are prayer, reading, meditation, and praying the scripture or insight back to God. There are many ways to approach each of those. Singing to God will often pull the Holy Spirit's joy to walk alongside into the day. If you are pressed for time, humming or belting out a praise song as you finish dressing or during your commute can put the day's plans into perspective.

4. Relationship. Remember, this is about relationship, so while I'm sharing suggestions that I've found helpful, it's most important that you find YOUR method or rhythm. Striving to achieve brownie points gets to be a pain in the neck. But reading and responding because Life is being stirred within brings peace not only in the neck, but the whole body!

5. Prayer. I've referenced the ACTS accrostic in previous posts. Consciously including elements of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication, might help you move away from natural preoccupation with yourself and your problems. Various types of prayer remind us how big God is, cleans our hearts to prepare for more of His presence, and reveals God's abundant gifts. All of these develop wisdom and confidence as we speak to our heavenly Father.


Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders (Psalm 119:18, Message).

What goals are realistic to nurture my morning time with my Creator?

Is there one suggestion I can use? Another I can share to help someone else?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


How did I go from being a twenty yard sprinter to a marathon runner with my spiritual discipline of daily reading?

Repeated failure. I would plan to be a wonderful, patient, soft-spoken mother. I studied the scriptures from time to time when it was convenient and I asked God to help me. But I failed to be even tempered. I often yelled at my precious girls. I had unfinished internal business, but I didn't know how to address it.

Change came when I finally realized how desperately I needed God's help. On my own, I couldn't be kind, Christ-like with our sometimes testy daughters. Stale bible reading and my own efforts couldn't consistently produce the results I longed for.

That was the turning point. Desperation. It caused me to cry out to God for help in making baby steps toward change. I yearned to be deeply open to God's voice in the Scriptures. I listened for the Spirit's voice as I corrected my children, and I obeyed the Spirit's voice as the Lord corrected me. As I taught them, I listened. The Lord taught us all to act like loved daughters.

Desperation led me to life change. I learned the vitality of depending on God and the transforming power of His word.

For Your Consideration

“This is the word of the LORD ...: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

Have you ever been desperate to learn from God? To hurdle attitudes that keep you away from God's power?

What was  the outcome?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pointers for Focus

Here are some things I've found useful for keeping my focus during my personal prayer time and bible study.

1. At the outset, invite the Holy Spirit's help. Ask for understanding and the ability to apply what you read. It is His pleasure to teach and counsel you. It's an amazing privilege that God has given us.

2. Keep notepaper beside you. That way you don't have to keep distractions flickering for attention. When you jot them on paper, it allows you to refocus.

3. Plan to let your voice mail get the phone during your allotted time. You can always return the call later. Often times it's a sales call or an appointment confirmation reminder.

4. Set a timer if you are on a tight schedule and you won't have to keep looking at the clock. With some practice, you'll get a better idea of your time flow.

5. Either choose a time when your children are asleep, or clearly explain that except for blood you are not to be disturbed. (I think of Susanna Wesley whose "At Prayer: Do Not Disturb" sign was her apron thrown over her head.) Whether or not you have young children, the challenge is to find a suitable time and place that works with your household traffic and schedules. Then lovingly but firmly communicate -- to roommates, husband, children-- your priority to be fed by the Living Word.

6. Start with short times and keep them as regular as possible. The more often you do it, the easier to find a rhythm that works for you.

7. Use a study bible with an easy to understand translation. Explanations from culture, geography, and history all enhance the meaning. It's easier to apply the reading to your life when you understand it!

7. A devotional is often a great asset. And... if you search the scriptures for nuggets before you read the comments, your insight will stick much longer than if you passively read someone else's discoveries. Although, I must say I have learned a great deal from others.

In my next blog I'll tell you what helped me with consistency.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Regular Challenge

We commonly battle being consistent with our "quiet times," "devotions,"  "time with the Lord," or whatever name we use for time alone with the God of the Scriptures. Developing this holy habit has its challenges.

We sit and the phone rings, or we think of the phone call we forgot to make. We excuse ourselves for just a minute while we quickly complete a task. Once out of our quiet place, unwashed dishes and unfinished jobs seemed to have signs "You could finish this quickly. Now."

Then if we have little ones at home, we hear "Mom... Mom... Mom." Chubby hands pull our jeans and innocent faces pull our eyes away from focused time where we learn God's ways.

As a single person then later a mother of young children, I was often frustrated by not having a regular quiet time, then when I finally sat to open my bible, distractions kept popping up, keeping my eyes darting and my heart hostage.

I found help from many others who walked ahead of me. I will share ideas I found in the next blog. Meantime, perhaps you can share what you've learned too.

For Your Consideration

Is there any thing that keeps you from meeting regularly with the Savior? What practical steps might you take to overcome it?

What have you found that helps you have a consistent devotional life? What works for you? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I recently read A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She  beautifully writes that accepting grace, experiencing joy, and giving thanks are all a part of appreciating what Jesus Christ offers us at Table.

Giving thanks, eucharisteo, intentionally observes life's details and looks for God's invisible footsteps.  Ann's uncommon phrases arrested me to experience her delight and frustration. Whether her circumstances were ugly or beautiful, her eucharitsteo (giving thanks) always led her to encounter God's presence.

Ann gave me a magnifying glass that reveals details that I'd stopped seeing. The simple discipline of thanksgiving is easy to overlook. But, as I practice jotting down my reasons for thanks, I become more observant, see God's finger -- tracing love -- even in shadows.  It brings light and fresh joy.

If you haven't read this book, consider doing so. Her style is unusual, poetic, and will provoke you to draw close and discover Christ's table set for you in surprising places. The Lord spreads His nourishment not only in organized gatherings of  the church. He spreads His table for you in your everyday places.

For Your Consideration

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

Is it difficult for you to give thanks in life's routine?

Would you consider keeping a thanksgiving journal for 21 days? Notice the results and decide if it's worth continuing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ruts or Rhythms

After I shared that I would ask God to dislodge me from unproductive ruts this year, my husband commented. Ruts reminded him of confinement. I pondered. How about productive ruts, then? Don't we need ruts to streamline most of our activities?

But the more I thought, I liked rhythm over rut. Rhythm has musical connotations and I love music. Dance. Movement. Change. Even when we practice, repetitively, to master dance steps or calligraphic strokes, practice scales or conquer syncopation, rhythm's melody lifts us above the mundane. It reminds us that we are part of God's grand symphony.

In a rut, we easily lose perspective. Our spirits wilt and enthusiasm wanes. But, when we look for the Creator's purposes in our rhythmic activity, we climb out of our pothole. When we remember God's purpose even in mundane work, we revive, become more productive, persevere in our activity.

So, as I practice God's presence in 2012, I'm asking for new ways of reconfiguring the ordinary. I'm listening for the Holy Spirit's song.

It's bringing new delight in the Lord. Purposefully listening for my Jesus' rhythms, I'm drawn into His dance.

I trust His lead. I can learn these steps. This rhythm is no rut.

For Your Consideration

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. (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

How might giving frequent thanks in your routine give you ears to hear God's rhythm for you?

What does it mean for you to speak and act in the name of the Lord Jesus?