Thursday, January 3, 2013

Changing Direction

As you can tell from the title change, there are changes coming. As much as I desired otherwise, the One Life; One Verse concept did not work. So there will be a new blog, with the above title.

I'm not deleting this one, just closing it. The entries that were featured here were extremely important to me, and I think they should have a home.

Thanks to all who visited and supported this idea.


Monday, August 13, 2012

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
—Phillipians 1:20-21 NIV

I'd heard those words so often. Had repeated them. Could even claim to have memorized the last of them. And then I saw them lived out. She was dying. She’d beaten cancer back time and again. This time, she raised her chin in the air and told everyone it was all right.

No more cures almost as bad as the disease. No fighting the inevitable. Because, ultimately, life enfolds death. Not enemies, but friends showing one another the way to eternity.

She came to church that last Sunday, and she took my breath away. Weeks had passed since I had seen her, and the frailty was more than I could take in. But then I saw her shining through, the same as always, smiling and glad to be with us. Love radiated from this woman, whose body shrank only to make room for her soul swelling with the nearness of heaven.

We took communion and her wheelchair sat in the outside aisle where the entire left side of the church passed as they returned to their pews. And as they passed they reached out. Women dropped kisses, light and airy as clouds on her spotted hands, her dappled cheeks. Men gripped her shoulder—gently, oh so gently. There were pats and squeezes. Whispered love words and eyes filled with the groaning of the Holy Spirit.

Who placed her there? In that spot where the congregation would pass like a tide coming in? It must have been Christ. It could only have been Christ.

They gave her communion last—held out the torn and tattered loaf for her to pinch off a bit of the Body. Throat cancer would have been a fine excuse to abstain. But she dipped the bread and placed it on her tongue. And she swallowed it down. And then she coughed and choked and had to be taken away to suffer.

And isn’t that right? What could be harder to swallow so close to heaven? Christ waited around the corner and who wants to swallow the host when the HOST is waiting on the other side of the door.

That was Sunday. She died on Tuesday. She died with the echo of our voices singing the closing hymn in her ears. She died with the shadow of our hands and lips on her tissue skin. She died with Christ clasping her tight in His arms.

She died. And now I understand. To live is Christ. To die is gain.

—Sarah Thomas

Monday, August 6, 2012

You prepare a table before me....
 Psalm 23:5 NIV

“Breakfast is ready! Come to the table!”

Who has not uttered these words or at least heard this call? Often what follows is silence and a period of waiting, soon to be followed by another call and another period of waiting--then, perhaps another, and another.

Frustration can certainly set in after I have prepared a nice breakfast and those I have called do not come, or they simply choose to come on their own timetable. Then, upon arriving at the table they groggily devour what has been prepared with hardly a word spoken, much less one of gratitude. 

Starting our day with a good breakfast boosts our energy, increases our attention span, and heightens our sense of well-being. By recharging the brain and body, we will be more efficient in just about everything we do.

Recently, God reminded me of how, more times than I care to confess, I have heard his early morning call and yet, have kept him waiting after he has prepared a wonderful table for me. Far too often I have chosen to grab a quick bite on the run by reading a one-minute devotion, listening to my favorite worship CD or by pulling up an inspiring message on my Ipod.
Though beneficial, these are all poor substitutes for spending time at the table with my Savior, enjoying his presence, gleaning from his Word, and pausing to give thanks.

Just as eating a good breakfast maintains our physical and mental well being, coming to the table upon the Lord’s call will enhance our spiritual well being. Our inner man will be energized, our spiritual awareness and discernment heightened, and our knowledge and love for the Lord and others will grow deeper.

By recharging our spiritual bodies, we will not only be more efficient in all that we do but, all that we do will glorify Him.

Oops! So sorry. I hate to run. But, I think I hear my Father calling.

--Starr Ayers
Asheboro, NC
"365 Degree Lens" Photo Journal

Monday, July 23, 2012

Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.
Proverbs 3:25 NASB

I won't do this often; this time is special. I had another blog planned today, but I felt this was more important. Some of you probably have read Marie's blog by now; it's gone viral, especially on Facebook, having reached more than a million people. I considered linking it as well on Facebook, but decided I wanted it to have a slightly more "permanent" link in my life.

If you haven't read it, please take a moment and read the response of a woman who was in that Aurora, Colorado, theater, who lay down on her daughter to protect her from the shooting, who stepped over a lifeless body to get out. Especially take to heart her daughter's response, with the above verse.

A Miniature Clay Pot: So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

Monday, July 16, 2012

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord. 

Psalm 122:1 KJV

Like many other parents in the sixties, mine were so busy figuring out their own lives against a backdrop of political assassinations, cultural upheaval, and the war in Vietnam, they had little energy left for raising children. 

Even in a small, New England town, a kid can get lost. I could easily have found myself swept up, like other kids around me, in a life of drugs, sex, and aimless wandering with a rock-and-roll soundtrack. My story would have been much different if God hadn’t given me a couple of important gifts.

First, He made me smart and chubby. Chubby may not sound like a gift, but it provided a social speed-bump, slowing my relationship possibilities enough to give me time to make smart decisions. Smart only enhanced my social isolation, but because I was an early and prolific reader AND because I was lonely, I spent hours of my childhood reading the Bible.

The second gift He provided was the local Baptist church within walking distance of my home. It was easy enough, when I was very young, for my parents to drop me off on a Sunday morning or for vacation Bible school and here is where I found a home.

When I was six, I remember standing before the congregation on a Sunday morning, proud that I had been asked to represent my Sunday School class by reciting a memory verse from Psalm 122:1

“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” I realized as I said it that I truly was.

I didn’t realize then how that gladness would stretch forward like a yellow-brick road through my life and bless me in countless ways. The adults in that first congregation surrounded me with the love, wisdom, and guidance I needed to make good choices and mature in my faith. They were far from perfect, but they provided a strong foundation that would otherwise have been missing from my life.


Through the years, I’ve been a part of several different congregations and I’ve had my share of frustrations with the human expression of the Bride of Christ. But, despite its imperfections, I continue to love the church and always be grateful that when God adopted me as His daughter, He provided me with a host of whacky brothers and sisters who love me as clumsily and as thoroughly as I love them.


You may be in a season where you’ve lost your “gladness” about going to the house of the Lord. I’ve walked through that season before. It’s like enduring a sandstorm.

Don’t be afraid to try again. Ask God to restore your joy and bring you, once more, into His house. It could be time for a family reunion. You belong there because you belong to the Lord. It’s His house, after all.

--Lori Roeleveld
Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,

Your right hand will hold me fast.

Have you ever just wanted to run away?

Not run away like I did when I was little, packing my little suitcase and hiding in some bushes behind my house, while I waited for someone to notice. It didn’t work, because Mother didn’t even know I’d run away until I told her. Of course, I’d probably only been gone a few minutes.

But unlike a child, sometimes we get the urge to truly escape, to run away from our current life and leave it behind. As an adult, I’ve had the same urge. Of course, I know it wouldn’t work now either, because the problems would still be there when I returned, or worse, follow me wherever I went.

But one day after a stressful week, I felt that need to escape. I had moved to a new home in a new state, leaving friends behind. I was worried about my grown son, who seemed to go from one bad decision to another. My new job was fraught with anxiety, and the home office was in another state. I had no one to turn to for support, and I was lonely.

I arrived home wanting to relax, but when I stepped out on the balcony of my condo for some peace and quiet, noise from my partying neighbors thwarted that goal. I decided to go for a walk. But I didn’t want to walk in my immediate neighborhood; I wanted to go somewhere else, somewhere remote, where I could spend time with God and pray.

I walked beyond my normal walking route to another neighborhood, looking for some place private. Knowing many of these homes were waterfront, I searched for a spot where I could get close to the water. At the end of a street I found a vacant lot for sale. Noticing it was on the water, I traipsed through it to the water’s edge. There stood remnants of an old dock, with just enough wood for me to sit on.

Tears flowed as I felt God’s hand reach out to me as if to say, “Here is the place I prepared for you to come and visit with me. Here you can pour out your heart and I will listen because I love you.” The water lapped gently against the shore while I sat, resting in Him, and being restored. It was then that the words of the Bible verse above came to me. And I knew that no matter where I went or how alone I was, God was there with me, too, and He cared.

—Marilyn Turk

Monday, July 2, 2012

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 

Christians love a catch phrase in ten words or less.

Walk into any Christian bookstore in the country and you’ll find racks of Christian clothing and knick-knacks with phrases less than ten words designed to impact the lives of anyone who sees the lower quality cotton apparel or plastic witnessing tools.

I’ve seen hundreds of those items.

None of them hit me the same way as the nine words in John 14:15.

So often in my life with Christ I found myself going along, excusing sin.  There was always some reason that it wasn’t so bad for me to do something…I’d always say that God would understand it. 

I’d read John 14:15 so many times and it never sank in until one day the verse seemed to leap off the page.

It wasn’t about keeping rules and laws.

It was about love.

It was about showing someone who means everything that they mean everything.

It completely transformed the way I saw sin and the way I saw the prism through which I made every single decision.  It was no longer a place where I could choose to do something I knew was wrong and ask for forgiveness later. 

I didn’t want to hurt the one I love. 

I know what it’s like when someone I love hurts me.

I don’t want to cause that to Him.

When you stop and realize that it’s about your relationship with Christ and it’s not about keeping a set of rules to avoid sin, then you can walk forward into your life with a new confidence you likely haven’t felt in your life.  You don’t live in a state of sin avoidance.  You live in a state of love and wanting to show your first love how much He means to you.

It becomes a life focused on showing love to Him.  A result of that is that you begin to show love to others.  You want to make other people smile.  You want to be the person God uses to bless others.

You want to show the love you share with your Lord.
And it’s not that hard for anyone to do.  If I can do it, you can do it. 

Just think about Christ.

How much He loves you.

How much you love Him.

Let that love guide your life.

Then show it to everyone else.

Your life will never be the same and your faith will go to a level you never thought it would reach.

Jason Wert
The Mustard Seed Year