Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Voice

“Mama, Mama!” the little boy cried as he entered the tent. “Another shepherd came in and put his sheep in the pen! Now there are a thousand!”

“I don’t think there are a thousand, Aaron,” his mother gently chastised as she kneaded the bread.

“Well, there are a lot.” Then the boy got a puzzled look on his face. “How will the shepherd get his sheep back? Won’t they get all mixed up?”

“When the shepherd is ready to go, he will come to the gatekeeper and call his sheep and they will come to him. Only his sheep will come because they know his voice. The other sheep will ignore him because they don’t recognize the voice.”

“How do they know his voice?”

“They have spent time with him. They have learned to listen to him. He talks to them and takes care of them and they depend on him to protect them and care for them. They have built a relationship with him. It is the same as me and you. When I call your name do you know it is me calling?”


“If Naomi calls you, can you tell the difference?”

“Yes, she sounds different.”

“The sheep know the difference too. If they hear someone they do not know they will not follow because they do not trust them. They will wait to hear the voice they trust to lead them.”

“Oh,” says the boy. “I’m going to go back and watch the sheep.”

“Aright, I will call you when supper is ready.”

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”  John 10:27-28

Do you know His voice?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mothers – Rejoice or Regret


  Mother’s Day brings different emotions to different people.  If you have a great mother like I have, you like Mother’s Day and the opportunity to thank her for her influence in your life. But many don’t have fond memories of their mother. Many had unhappy childhoods full of neglect and harsh words. How do you thank a mother who was cruel?

For some this day brings back the empty ache of loss: either of a mother never known or a mother no longer with them. Still others reflect on their own position as mothers and wish they could have changed the things they did or didn’t do.

I look back at the short time I had to influence my boys and am always filled with regrets. If only I had been the Christian I am now. I could have taught them to rely on God more, taught them to pray about everything, to trust Him with every situation. Then they would not be struggling with so much now. But I wasn’t, I was just a baby Christian, struggling with my own beliefs.

The truth is our walk with the Lord, while certainly influenced by our upbringing, is a walk we must each take alone.
It is a personal relationship with God himself. And like any personal relationship it can only develop through time, personal time spent together. They must make their own way in this world and with the Lord. I must accept that what is done is done and all I can do is be here now.

We all must deal with memories. Some good and some bad, so how do we handle them? Someone once said “if” is the biggest word is in the English language. I must say I agree. How often do we use it to wonder what could have been or could be? There is some advantage to evaluating the past as long as we don’t spend too much time wallowing in regret.

One of my favorite scriptures is 2Corinthians 10:5
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

We must take our thoughts captive, control them, control where they lead us.
We cannot control what pops into our minds but we can control where it takes us. We cannot change what has been, we can however, change what happens from here forward.  We can make positive changes that will affect our future and the future of our children and grandchildren.

So if you have great memories of your mother rejoice and be thankful. If you don’t be thankful that those experiences have made you the person God intended you to be.
 God Is Soverign. God allows free will, parents have the choice to nurture or neglect their children. Neglect is never God’s will. We suffer the consequences of others’ sin as well as our own. We can trust that God can use any situation to develop our character, make us stronger, and draw us closer to Him.
Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  
Not that he causes all things but that He causes all things to work together for good.  We can trust that He is ultimately in Control.
So if you have great memories of your mother, be thankful. If you don’t, be thankful that those experiences have given you the opportunity to see God in a unique and precious way and have made you the person He created you to be. Rejoice and be glad.

What are you thankful for this Mothers Day?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weeding Your Garden

I was cleaning up my flower garden, getting ready for spring. What a wonderful time of year; clearing out the old dead stuff, preparing the soil and making way for the new spring growth. It’s a lot of work but the results are satisfying and uplifting. My garden is all clean and orderly. All the pesky weeds are gone, the soil is ready and waiting to nourish the mature plants and bring fourth new life as well, helping them each to achieve their potential.

Wow! Don’t you wish life could be like that: all orderly and clean, free of the pesky weeds of discouragement, regret, and doubt? Don’t you wish you could spend one afternoon cleaning it up and voila! The soil would be ripe with nutrients ready to nourish our current talents and ideas and ready to grow new ones too.
But alas, my flower garden is much easier to clean up then the garden of my soul.

The weeds of discouragement, doubt and regret have much deeper roots than the ones in my yard, probably because they’ve been allowed to flourish for years instead of a few months.
And my soil is too dry, it’s been neglected for far too long, when I’ve been too busy to take time with the Lord and soak in those all too important nutrients that only He can provide, or I have been unwilling to do the work to remove those weeds.

I wonder why it is that we let our lives get so out of control? Is it because no one can see our soul? Because it’s not on display for all to see? We can keep it hidden, like a dirty closet, put off the cleaning.

Oh sure, we clean out some of the weeds occasionally when they really affect our life, and God brings them to our attention. But do we actively take stock and seek to keep it orderly and clean? When was the last time we evaluated our priorities? Decided where each “plant” in our life should be placed? When was the last time we thought about clearing out some of the business to make room for new growth?

 It can be an overwhelming task, but like any other task we just need to break it down into smaller chunks. Just take a small section at a time, organize and clear out some weeds.
Remembering not to break them off, but to dig them up by the roots and get rid of them.  Letting the Lord help us heal the resentment, bitterness and fear and make way for new growth and beautiful flowers!
Only then can we have the beautiful life that we desire.

What does your garden look like?

           Like this?

Or like this?

The reality is probably somewhere in-between.

Together, with the Lord’s help and a little effort, we can all improve the condition of our garden.

What weeds do you need to pull up?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Discouragement and Encouragement


Writing can be a lonely endeavor.

 It’s not a team sport with lots of friends to cheer you on. It’s done in the quietness, the stillness of solitude; the prefect landscape for the enemy to attack. Discouragement is his most used weapon. Because as humans we long and need human interaction, the enemy knows that without it we are vulnerable. So when we are alone with our thoughts, mentally or possibly even physically as we try to separate ourselves from the business of life to concentrate on our craft, the enemy is there.

What does scripture say?

In 1 Peter – Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He is waiting, knowing we are vulnerable, and he has his weapons ready, for the attack.

But take heart, my friend, we have a defense. 

 1 Corinthians 3:16 says

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? We are never alone, my friend, God is always present.

When friends don’t understand, when mothers and fathers scoff, husbands and wives break our hearts with uncaring remarks, when sisters and brothers tell you to do something “useful”, remember, God has given you this talent and He has asked you to use it. You must do as He asks.

I am not saying to be in defiance of the authorities placed in your life by the Creator, i.e. parents, pastors, husbands, etc; I am saying that you cannot let discouragement deter you from the calling God has on your life. As Matthew tells us But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

There lies the key to it all.

If we are seeking God daily, hourly, moment by moment, then He will be so present in our lives that the enemy will have no foothold to enter in. But all too often we skip that quiet time with the Lord because we’re too busy. We fill our lives with many things and don’t have time for Him, and then we’re unprepared when the enemy attacks.

Did we spend time watching TV last night? Did we have time to read or go to dinner or go shopping? We seem to find time to do the things we want to do but we can’t find time to spend with the one whom we say we love more than life itself. Where are our priorities? If we look at our time we will find them. We will see clearly what we find time for and what we cannot seem to find time for; this displays our true priorities.  

A scary thought, huh? I sure don’t want to evaluate what I spend my time on. I don’t want my priorities revealed in the harsh light of truth; I want to keep them hidden in the business of my life so I can keep up the facade of excuses. But if I truly want to be strong in the face of adversity, to stand against the enemy’s attacks, then I have to evaluate my time and my priorities, then make some tough changes. Someone once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. How true. We keep doing the same things and complain when what we do brings discouragement.



Well, we all know the answer to the problem: we can choose to ignore it or we can act on it. 


What will your choice be?


Which road will you choose?

If we want to be strong writers, or whatever He has called us to be, we must first seek the counsel of the wisest of all, the Great Encourager, The Author and Perfector of our Faith.

Have you faced discouragement this week?

What are you going to do about it?

Images courtesy of digidreamgrafix & Stuart Miles

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Why do you open the door only to slam it in my face? I yanked up more weeds.
I don’t understand. Dirt flew.

When I saw her name on that blog after reading the article saying she was accepting submissions, I thought it was a sign from you. My cat scurried away after a dirt clod hit him in the face.

Why was I rejected again? I tossed the pile of weeds into the box and moved down a few feet.

Slowly my anger and disappointment began to subside. I pulled more weeds as I continued my conversation with God.

It had to be from you, didn’t it? As my anger slowly faded His voice began to come through.
Was that the direction I told you to go?

No. I know I was supposed to write another story and submit it elsewhere, and no, I didn’t do that but… I stopped. But what? I asked myself. I’d just been reading in Genesis where Jacob had settled in Shechem instead of returning to Bethel as he had promised God. I saw that Jacob’s delayed obedience had cost him and his family dearly and here I was doing the same thing. I didn’t want to do what God had told me. I wanted to rely on the work I had already done to be published; I didn’t want to do more work. I was doing the same thing that Jacob had done. Even though God had blessed Jacob tremendously, still Jacob did not follow God’s plans.

Often we will do what we want and expect God to bless it. We seek and look for “signs” that point to what we want and then are disappointed when they don’t work out. All the while our heavenly Father is right there holding the blessing He has for us, waiting patiently for our obedience. How long will I make Him wait?

Was there a time when you expected God to bless your plans?