The Power of God’s Word

As I complete a speaking engagement on God’s guarding care, I feel so insecure and discouraged. Normally, speaking to crowds gives me joy and energy, but this time, it feels heavy and blah. 

My friend reminds me that God’s word is powerful by itself. It’s power doesn’t depend on my cleverness, ability, or eloquence. 

Amen!!

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Knowing the One Who Leads

I find a quote by Oswald Chambers this morning. He writes, “Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading.”

I remember that I’m led by Him. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I do know Him. This reality brings comfort and peace when I’m uncertain about where I’m going or what’s going to happen.  

I know the One who is leading. 

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Thankful for Breakfast 

I ask the grandchildren what they most loved about today. 

They said, by far, breakfast

Oh, the Southern Breakfast! No matter how early it is, Grandma is already up with the coffee brewing, the hot buttered toast crisping, the eggs scrambling, and the bacon crackling. 

Living with flair means everybody comes down for breakfast. 

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A Lesson About the Heart From Years Ago

I’m on a long walk, and I pass some tree stumps. Clearly, they suffered from heart rot. 

I know about this. I learned this lesson in 2012.

Back then, I wrote this: 

My youngest and I examine a tree trunk by our home. Once, it stood tall over the neighborhood, but experts knew something wasn’t right.

The tree suffered from heart rot and had to be cut down.

The entire inside of this externally beautiful tree rotted. (And yes, the heart rot possesses the shape of an actual heart. I feel like Someone’s trying to get my attention.)

How did this happen? Why? When? How could such an enormous and wonderful tree actually reveal nothing but hollow decay?

Both my daughter and I need to know. (I’m really asking about myself and my own heart. I’m really asking about my own internal states.)

We research a bit and discover how heart rot results from decay caused by fungi that enters from wounds cause by storms, improper pruning, and insects or animals. These wounds will come, but we learn how to prevent or minimize the rot.

Yes, tell me! Teach me how to minimize heart rot when the wounds come!

Apparently, you want to make sure you have deep root feeding and properly sealed wounds. You have to make sure toxins cannot continue to enter. You also need to remove–by pruning–those parts of you that allow the harmful things in. I learn about clean breaks. I learn that if, in fact, heart rot begins, a tree knows how to compartmentalize. The tree knows how to grow around the decay and form a border so it can’t harm the rest of the tree.

In my own spiritual life, I consider deep-root feeding on God, clean breaks from toxic things, and creating boundaries against decay. I think deeply about the “root of bitterness” that can defile our core. I think about love and forgiveness and unity and acceptance.

I don’t want heart rot. Living with flair means we’re beautiful and strong, inside and out.

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Merry Christmas!

I love that Jesus has the only birthday in the universe where we celebrate by giving gifts to one another and not Him. As we gather around the Christmas tree this morning and note the abundance of gifts every year, that somehow, arrive in the morning as always more than we ask or imagine, we remind each other that this celebration of gifts is the greatest birthday party for the Greatest King.

The humble King, the servant King, the suffering King, the victorious King! Born, dying, and rising again! He accomplishes more than we ask or imagine in our souls so that Christmas rises in our hearts each new day. And all this, a gift received by faith. All this, something we unwrap and rejoice in every morning. All this, abundantly more than we could ever expect.

Merry Christmas!

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Some Encouragement for You: Sustaining Grace and a Hush

Today I think about Billy Graham’s quote:

“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”

It’s a perfect little statement when we consider all the places God might take us, all the new seasons of life ahead, and all the new problems, complications, or inevitable disappointments of being human. If I am afraid, I remember that God will not take me where He cannot also sustain me.

I’m rejoicing in His sustaining grace. 

I also consider today the lines from the poem and Christmas carol composed by Edmund Sears in 1849, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” Sears writes in the third stanza:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

I listen to the invitation to “hush the noise” to hear the angels sing. I think of the love song of the angels who are singing back to Christ His love song to us. I think of everything happening in the heavenly realms that I cannot hear. I consider what it means to hush the noise, both external and internal, to “hear the angels sing.” And I want to sing along.

I’m rejoicing with the angels about Jesus.  

If nothing else goes the way we planned about Christmas, we can remember God’s sustaining grace and how always–no matter what’s happening–we can hush the noise and worship.

 

 

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Receiving Gifts Well

I sometimes notice the pattern in how badly adults receive gifts. Normally, the person receiving the gift will say these strange things like:

I feel terrible because I don’t have a gift for you.

You shouldn’t have!

I didn’t know we were exchanging gifts!

Why did you do this? 

Each of these statements make the gift-giver feel like they did something wrong–like the gift has caused some pain instead of blessing.

Children, if you notice, just receive the gift with bright eyes and a face smiling with joy.

So, what if instead of making the moment of receiving a gift all about us our guilt, we just said, “Thank you so much! How thoughtful! You are such a wonderful friend!”

 

 

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More Than We Imagine

I’m sitting at the kitchen table as I glance at a stockpile of unshelled peanuts I placed on the deck a week ago. 

The peanuts, half-covered in snow, haven’t attracted all the winter birds and animals I had heard they might. 

But today, and what seemed like all at once, bluebirds and cardinals find the peanuts. They flap about with joy in what appears like a dance of rejoicing. I watch those tiny beaks grasp and then carry off enormous peanuts. 

I have so many more peanuts inside. 

I think of Christmas blessings and God’s storehouse of mercy and good gifts we can never exhaust. 

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