Monday, August 31, 2009

The Test

We've all experienced it. Some accept it with a grateful attitude, while others reject it, although it would ultimately help them. The 'it' is correction. Not a very popular topic in today's culture of tolerance, but an invaluable tool in God's hand; used to chip away the rough edges from our lives, so we can be more like Jesus Christ.

When I was in eighth grade, I attended Central Intermediate in my hometown of Midland, Michigan. As I recall, one of my most challenging classes that year, happened to be Science. Our teacher was funny and had a knack for making the dullest topic interesting, nevertheless, the tests were hard. On one of our tests, we were allowed to use a handbook to assist us with some math problems on the test. I remember studying the material the night before the test. It was late and I still had a few formulas to memorize. Hmmm...Since we were permitted to use our handbook for the test, I rationalized that it would be so much easier just to write the last few formulas on the back of one of the handbook sheets, rather than memorizing them. After all, I'd studied the majority of material, and I was tired. No one would ever know. Or so I thought.

I got to class a few minutes early the next day. I even asked my teacher a few last minute questions. With the formulas written on the back of my handbook, I was feeling pretty confident about the test. When the bell rang, the teacher stood up to give some final instructions prior to distributing the tests. Because he was allowing us to use our handbooks, he said he would be coming around to check them to be sure we hadn't written anything else on them. With my heart pounding and my mind racing, I tried to think of a way I could flip to the page I had written on, and erase the incriminating evidence...Whether it was a guilty expression on my face or merely where I was sitting, my teacher came to check my handbook first. He tapped me on the back to indicate that he was aware that I had attempted to cheat. Today, I can look back and see that God was correcting me. At the time, I chose to reject His correction. Instead of admitting my guilt, I lied. I told my teacher that I had copied the formulas onto my handbook after I'd missed a day of school and had forgotten that the information was there. Regardless of whether he believed me or not, there were immediate consequences. I earned a zero on the test, and spent the remainder of the quarter doing extra credit projects to regain the eighty points I had so foolishly forfeited.

Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, I'm so thankful I got caught. It helped me to realize the harsh realities of cheating. It also revealed my stubborn attitude toward correction. The Lord is faithful to remind us in Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (KJV) How wonderful to know that our God's mercies are "new every morning." (Lamentations 3:23a; KJV)

When we're corrected, it's for our own good and is a sign of God's love for us. How will we respond to His correction? Meditate on the words of Job 5:17, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." Accept His correction with a grateful attitude today.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A 'Golden' Opportunity

It all happened so quickly. I certainly didn't see it coming. I was knocked off my feet and hit the pavement, all in the matter of a few seconds. We walk our dogs just about every morning. It was a beautiful day. I had put our Golden Retriever, Precious, on her leash and we headed down toward the end of the driveway to wait for my husband, Steve, and Joe, our Chesepeake Bay Retriever. Joe came charging around the house. He ran at full speed to greet us. Unfortunately, he ran right into Precious' leash and I was catapulted onto the rough cement of the driveway. Thoroughly stunned, I slowly stood to my feet and grabbed my right elbow. Instinctively, I had broken the impact of the fall by putting my hands out in front of me. Even so, my right elbow had managed to take a pretty hard hit.

My husband was afraid I may have broken my elbow, which by now was swelling and bleeding from some minor abrasions. I stumbled into the house to get an ice pack from the freezer. Although it hurt, I was still able to move my arm; so with ice pack in hand, I told my husband to go ahead without me. I was surprised to hear the door open just a few minutes later. Steve told me that he had tried to walk the dogs, but that Precious would only walk a few feet before she'd stop, and turn around to look back toward the house. After trying to coax her forward a few times to no avail, he brought both dogs back home.

I imagine that's one reason they're called, 'man's best friend.' How sweet to think that my puppy was so concerned about me that she was no longer interested in taking a long-awaited walk. It certainly gave me food for thought. How often have I listened to the prayer request of a troubled friend, brought the petition before the Lord once, and then forgotten all about my friend's need? Am I really concerned about what burdens my friend? Or am I more focused on my needs? It's so much easier to rejoice with friends who are rejoicing, than to fulfill the second half of Romans 12:15, to "weep with them that weep." (KJV)

The Bible is replete with countless examples of Christ's prayer life. Since He was so often surrounded by people, He made it a practice to get away by Himself to spend time with His Father in prayer. Matthew 14:23 reveals, "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." (KJV) The book of Mark puts it this way, "And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray." (Mark 6:46, KJV) He was so burdened for mankind, that the book of Luke says, "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountin to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12, KJV) What a passion for people! What a model for us to follow. I'm reminded today of the power of prayer and the Almighty God who answers it. Will you be faithful to intercede on the behalf of others until God answers? Be sure to stop and praise Him when He does!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are We There Yet?

It was a long drive. Slightly over 20 hours to be exact. When I was growing up, my family and I would pack our bags and make the long trip from Midland, Michigan to New Port Richey, Florida, to visit both sets of grandparents. We made it a Christmas tradition. It was an adventure beginning in the frigid north, bundled in our winter clothes, and ending in the balmy south, heavy coats and sweaters replaced by t-shirts and windbreakers. Talk about making memories along the way!

Our journey would begin early, long before I would have been out of bed. My Mom would request a pit-stop within the first hour. The coffee was always to blame. My brother and I were encouraged to take advantage of the stop, since my Dad reminded us that we wouldn't be stopping again anytime soon. That meant rousing ourselves from the comfortable beds we'd made, putting our shoes on and bundling up in our winter coats, before dashing from our car to the gas station restroom and back.

As we started off again, my brother and I would amuse ourselves by playing pranks on my parents. One of our favorites, was shredding a tissue and seeing how much of it we could carefully set on my Mom's head before she would notice. "All right, you two!" became familiar words, as we would double over with laughter. Our absolute favorite prank involved a sturdy wire, bent in the shape of a 'C,' two rubber bands and a metal washer. With these items in hand, our male cousins had taught us how to make a gadget that, when wound up and released, produced a similar sound as today's whoopie cushions. Imagine my Dad's dismay as he'd hear a suspicious sound from the back seat. He could only assume the worst, and we'd once again stifle our laughter as he'd roll down the windows in spite of the wintry weather. Needless to say, "Kids, don't try these pranks at home!"

As the hours passed, my brother and I would begin to get on each other's nerves. We'd draw the invisible line down the middle of the back seat and dare each other to cross it. When playing, reading, and sleeping got old, and the scenery looked the same with each passing mile, the questions started. "Are we almost there yet?" No doubt, you can relate.

As an adult, I look back on the entire family trip experience with fond memories. It brought a smile to my face when I realized that I often ask a similar spiritual question of my Heavenly Father: "Am I there yet?" Just when I think I'm living victoriously in one area, He is faithful to remind me that life is a journey and not a destination. The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (KJV) Praise the Lord! Until that day, may I patiently run the race that He sets before me, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2, KJV). Find joy in the journey while you keep your eyes on Him.

Monday, August 24, 2009


At some point on a typical Monday, I usually find myself in the laundry room. After a busy weekend, I often have at least three or four loads of dirty clothes to wash. Since we bought a new washing machine fairly recently, I can't say that I even mind doing laundry. The machine is one of those new-fangled, energy efficient, front loaders that plays a happy little tune when it's finished washing my clothes. My husband and I even joked about setting up a couple of chairs in the laundry room so we could enjoy watching a full cycle.

A friend and I were talking about washing machines today and I got to thinking about her observation. She said that she knew her old machine needed to be replaced because the agitator wasn't working as it should, yet it hadn't completely stopped functioning, so she continued to use it a while longer. It was only after replacing the washing machine, that she discovered the old machine hadn't been doing a thorough job. After washing clothes in the new machine, the clothes were noticeably cleaner. The dinginess disappeared, leaving brightness in its place.

What an amazingly accurate illustration of what often happens in our lives. After salvation, we begin the Christian life with boundless energy. We're grateful for what Christ has done for us, so we want to share our experience with others. We grasp the truth in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (KJV) We're like the new washing machine. We operate as God created us to function.

Time passes. People may not be as receptive to our message about Christ. Others are downright rude. Our feelings get hurt and we are distracted from Christ's calling, spelled out in the book of Mark, "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15, KJV) We become less bold, and like the agitator in the old washing machine, we slow down. We begin missing the opportunities that God puts in front of us. Because we haven't completely stopped witnessing for Christ, we don't notice the coldness that has slowly crept into our heart.

It's only when we allow the Holy Spirit to put His finger on those things that are preventing us from being used to our full potential, that we can once again function like the new washing machine. We agree with God that there is a problem. We confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness. We're restored and able to reach our potential once again. At this point, we can look back and see the difference. The dinginess has disappeared, leaving brightness in its place. The psalmist David, cried out to God, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10, KJV) What will your prayer be today?

Friday, August 21, 2009


It was an extremely uncomfortable feeling. Having no control over the situation caused me to feel helpless. It was even worse to know that I was totally unprepared to deal with the problem. What could I do?

I wonder if the orphan-girl, Esther, asked the same question? Going from relative obscurity to the king's palace in Shushan was pretty drastic. She hadn't wanted to participate in king Ahasuerus' beauty contest. She was forced to participate. She had no control over who Ahasuerus would choose as his queen. She was chosen. Orphaned at a young age, Esther was raised by her cousin, Mordecai, a Jew.

Not growing up in the palace, I'm sure Esther lacked all the social graces expected of a queen. As she mastered her new responsibilities, another problem arose. Not just any problem, but a decree went forth in the form of a letter sealed with the king's signet ring, that called for the destruction of "all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey." (Esther 3:13, KJV)

Esther found herself in an unenviable position. Having no control over the situation was one thing, this situation would claim her life if unchallenged. Based on her cousin Mordecai's advice, Esther had not revealed her national heritage. She must have been unprepared for what Mordecai would ask her to do on behalf of the Jewish people; go before the king to plead for the lives of she and her people.

Knowing the custom of the day, Esther was faced with a grim decision. Since king Ahasuerus had not called for her, if she dared enter his presence, he had the authority to put her to death. On the other hand, if she didn't enter his presence to plead for her own life and those of her people, she would surely perish on the appointed day.

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, KJV) Mordecai's words must have rung in Esther's ears like an alarm. He was right. Esther made her choice. She would go before the king, but not before she had fasted and prayed.

As I faced my present day problem, not in control of the situation and unprepared to deal with it, I vacilated between trying to fix it and trying to give it to someone else I felt was better equipped to deal with the situation. Like Mordecai's good advice to Esther, my husband's advice was to encourage me to "do the right thing." Like Esther, I knew the one thing I could do was pray.

God has already begun answering prayer. Although my challenges are not one hundred percent resolved, having the opportunity to see God at work has infused me with fresh faith in a mighty Father. Today, my Bible study ended with a phenomenal quote by Oswald Chambers: "Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered...Remain spiritually tenacious." I desire such spiritual tenacity, how about you?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I've done it before, but it has been awhile. Mowing always gives me a strong sense of accomplishment because I can see a visible difference between the 'before' and 'after.' We had been out of town for a week and with a hectic schedule, my husband, Steve, hadn't had the opportunity to cut the grass. You know that feeling when all the neighbor's yards are freshly manicured and your yard is the exception? Fortunately, by mid-week, Steve was able to get three quarters of the yard mowed. Then the call came.

A photographer friend of ours had some clients who were wondering if they could have some pictures taken on our property. They liked the idea of having some outdoor photos taken by the pond and little bridge in our front yard. I hesitated for a moment, before explaining that our grass had only gotten three-fourths of its 'haircut.' My friend assured me that it wasn't a problem. As I hung up the phone, I had a brilliant idea - why don't I cut the rest of the grass in the morning before the photo shoot?

By 11:00 a.m. the next morning, I had my oldest work clothes on and was ready to tackle the yard. I had just gotten off the phone with Steve, who had patiently given me some 'how to' tips for both lawnmower and lawnmowing. He had me check to see if there was enough gas in the tank to finish the yard. I unscrewed the gas cap, and guessed that there was plenty. I recalled the basics and bravely set off, pushing the lawnmower down the drive. With five-inch tall grass daring me to take a swipe out of it, I reached down to start the mower. After a few tries, the engine engaged and off I went. Because our outer yard is about a third of an acre, Steve told me I may only be able to mow half a strip of grass before emptying the mower bag. As the sun beat down on me, the idea of having to walk several hundred feet to deposit the grass in the woods, didn't sound so good. I continued down the strip of grass I was mowing, turned the mower around, and headed up the next strip. Globs of grass began piling up on either side of the mower. Oops. Must need to empty the bag.

After trudging across the yard into the woods to make my deposit, I reattached the bag and was ready to complete strip number two. The mower refused to start. I hoped my neighbors weren't peering between their blinds watching me, as I acted like I knew what I was doing, checking everything I could possibly think to check. As a last resort, I unscrewed the gas cap and looked to see how much gas was left in the tank. It was almost empty. Another big 'Oops!' After filling up the gas tank, the mower and I were on our way. After my next grass deposit, I encountered another problem. When I tried to start the mower this time, the chord only extended a few inches before it felt like it got hung up on something. Once again, I began reasoning through what could possibly be wrong. As a last resort, I turned the mower on its side and peered at the blade. Because the grass was so long, and I had attempted to mow too much at once, it had formed a 'nest' of sorts, making it impossible for the blade to rotate. I carefully removed the grass, finally realizing that I needed to follow Steve's advice, and empty the bag more often.

As I continued to mow, it dawned on me. Just as I had ignored my husband's advice, I often ignore God's instructions for my life. My husband had told me very clearly to empty the lawnmower bag after short intervals. In my desire to speed up the process, I convinced myself that I could mow more grass and have the same results. Instead, I was left with piles of grass clippings that took more time to clean up, and a lawnmower that wouldn't start because it was clogged with grass. If I had only followed the instructions... I tend to do the same thing in life. How often have I read God's word and clearly understood what it said, only to justify my behavior when I wanted to do things my way.

God is very clear in His word that He desires obedience. We show our love for Him by our obedience. John 14:15 says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Pretty straightforward, right? When I disobey God, I'm saying that I don't love Him as much as I love myself. I would rather do my own thing than submitting to His authority in my life. Just as there were consequences for mowing too much grass at once; unsightly piles of grass clippings, and a blade that wouldn't turn, there are consequences for being disobedient to God. The book of Numbers, in the Old Testament doesn't mince words, "...behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23; KJV)

Today I have a choice to make. Will I follow God's instruction book, the Bible, for my life? Or will I justify going my own way? The visual reminder of the piles of grass clippings in my front yard, serve as encouragement for me to obey God. Will you be obedient today?

The Difference

The difference is noticable. It's like the contrast between night and day. Last August, the school year began with trepidation and tears. Our daughter was beginning her junior year at a new school. She had left a school full of friends. As we drove to her new school, I knew she dreaded starting over. Establishing new friendships takes time, and she needed a friend today.

When she got home in the afternoon, I could tell from her responses that things hadn't gone that well. Structured classes and being the 'new kid' weren't exactly the formula for beginning friendships. She bemoaned the fact that no one had talked to her. Although I could definitely understand how she felt, I also remembered the truth of Proverbs 18:24a, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:" It's a two-way street. It helps to reach out to others and show an interest in them, instead of just waiting for them to reach out to you. As the year progressed, things got better. Solid friendships developed and continued throughout the summer.

This year is different. Now a senior in high school, our daughter looked forward to the first day of school. Not only did she get to return and see her friends from last year, but as an added bonus, her best friend from church also made the transition to her school. She was excited for the new school year to begin. I love to see God at work.

Friendship is such a special gift from God. I think about how our lives are richer for the friendships we share. We can be open and honest with our friends, knowing that they'll still love us, in spite of us. A good friend not only encourages, but doesn't hesitate to gently correct us when we begin going down the wrong path. When I look for examples of godly friendships in the Bible, the uncommon bond that David and Jonathan shared comes to mind immediately. When you think about it, Jonathan was King Saul's son; the one who was next in line for the throne. Because he allowed himself to be guided by God, instead of viewing David as a threat, Jonathan recognized God's hand on David's life and humbly submitted himself to God's plan. In I Samuel 18:1 it says that, "...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (KJV) A few verses later, Jonathan makes a binding agreement with David and gives him his robe, sword, bow and belt. Somehow, Jonathan knew that David would be the next king of Israel and he willingly went along with God's plan.

The loyal and committed friendship that Jonathan and David shared, led me to do a little inventory of my own friendships. Am I sacrificial in a relationship? Or do I expect my own way? Am I loyal? Or do I bail out when the going gets rough? Can a friend count on me to share the truth in love? Or am I just going to tell her what she wants to hear? Because true, lasting friendships come along so rarely, I want to pattern my relationships after those in God's word and be the right kind of friend. My prayer today is that I would thank God for the friendships He's allowed in my life (Philippians 1:3) and that I'd, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:3-4; KJV) What will your prayer be?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The sound of the alarm woke me from a fitful night of sleep. One glance at the clock let me know that it really was time to get up. Ugh! Just give me my Tempurpedic pillow and my king-size, Kingsdown mattress and I can't help but smile. I would be the first to tell you that I need my sleep. My Mom used to tease me when I was growing up, saying that I was 'born tired.'

As I held a silent debate with myself about whether to get up or pull the covers back over my head, I thought of all the things I had to do today. When I trudged into my daughter's bedroom to wake her and she decided on an extra 30 minutes of sleep, it didn't take any convincing for me to make a beeline back to my bed.

When I got up 30 minutes later, I felt guilty. After only one day of school, I was already pushing the snooze button on my alarm clock to get those few more minutes of coveted sleep. Instead of finishing my workout before my daughter headed off to school, I would now have to postpone it until after breakfast and Bible study. All the important calls and e-mail I needed to send would have to wait. I probably wouldn't have time to get the extra groceries I needed before picking up my daughter and her friends at school. I had sabotaged my schedule and already felt as if I'd made a mess of the day.

Before I even opened my Bible, God knew what I needed. As I paused to reflect on Deuteronomy 8, I let the topic of the chapter soak into my soul: Do Not Forget God. Wow! I was awake now. While I was fretting over not being able to accomplish all I'd planned for the day, God was trying to remind me that I needed to consult Him before putting together my 'To Do' list. Deuteronomy 8:11 says, "Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:" (KJV)

In her Bible study entitled, Lies Women Believe: and the Truth that Sets Them Free, Nancy Leigh DeMoss states the truth in love when she shares, "The Truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me...The frustration comes when I attempt to take on responsiblities that are not on His agenda for me. When I establish my own agenda or let others determine the priorities for my life, rather than taking time to discern what it is that God wants me to do, I end up buried under piles of half-finished, poorly done, or never-attempted projects and tasks. I live with guilt, frustration, and haste, rather than enjoying the peaceful, well-ordered life that He intends." p. 119

As I headed back into the house with a re-arranged agenda, I noticed I had a message on my cell phone. A dear friend had called to let me know that she would be picking up our kids from school today, so I didn't need to worry about it. Talk about an added blessing from God. When I submitted my schedule to His will, He provided me with the time I needed to get everything accomplished.

I'd much rather enjoy God's peace than guilt and frustration.Today my choice is to remember God and consult Him with my potential agenda before finalizing anything. As you go about this day that the Lord has made, will you remember God?

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Beginnings

A new beginning. Today marks the first day of our daughter's senior year in high school. Seems like just yesterday we were opening boxes, taking out books and preparing to homeschool our girl for her very first year of school. Today, she will walk the halls of Old Suwanee Christian School, participating in the final classes she needs in order to graduate. The years have flown by. Pictures capturing each stage of her life grace our walls and shelves. There are pictures of her with her soccer team and with the North Atlanta Young Singers, countless school pictures and even some taken by professional photograpers. Each picture marks a specific point in her life.

Today marks a new beginning for me as well. The carefree, summer schedule is being replaced with a more structured schedule to meet the demands of a new school year. I'll take the time to re-evaluate my goals and objectives. I can eliminate time wasters and re-prioritize those things that are of eternal significance. There is something encouraging about the opportunity to begin again.

Salvation provides the ultimate opportunity for a person to have a new beginning. Paul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;behold, all things are become new." (KJV) It doesn't end there. Once a part of His family, God is faithful to continually give each of His children opportunities to begin again.

Daily I make choices. Sometimes the choices are good ones, other times, I make bad choices. As I read Psalm 106 this morning, I was struck by the behavior of the children of Israel and by God's response. I could definitely see the similarity in my behavior and theirs. They began by praising the Lord for His goodness, but as the days passed, they forgot God and His works in their lives, and reverted back to complaining and lusting for material things. He chastized them for their sin and they would repent and remember Him once again. Unfortunately, this became a cycle that was repeated over and over throughout the generations of the children of Israel.

Even if we are God's children, each one of us still sins. First John 1:8 puts it best, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." God's grace and mercy toward us are evident in the very next verse of the same chapter, "9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (KJV) He offers us complete forgiveness and a new beginning.

No matter what stage of life you're experiencing, you can choose a new beginning. With each sunrise, you have the opportunity to pattern your life after the One who gave you life. My heart's desire is to be an accurate reflection of my Father, but when I fail, I'm thankful that because of His grace, I can repent and begin again. Thank You, Lord, for new beginnings!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


We had no idea that we'd encounter a medieval-style battle when we set out on our bike ride in the evening. The refreshingly cool, Michigan air inspired my husband, daughter and I to slip on warm clothes and begin pedaling toward the Midland tridge. With each revolution of the pedals, familiar places reminded me of days gone by: my best friend's house where I'd often spent the night, the elementary school I used to attend, the route my school bus used to take when I was in junior high and high school. Lots of memories, good memories.

As we biked across the tridge (a bridge that touches land in three locations), we could hear faint strains of Celtic music. It didn't seem like an ordinary evening. Unusual weapons littered the ground and several people were fighting what appeared to be a medieval battle. Naturally our curiosity was piqued. As we pulled out the video camera to capture the odd 'battle' being enacted before us, one of the participants asked us if we'd like to join them. Although we didn't join in their sport, one of the young men enthusiastically gave us a brief history of Dagorhir.

Over 30 years ago, a group of college friends who shared a passion for J.R.R. Tolkein's, Lord of the Rings and medieval history began the combat-driven battlegame that was given the name, Dagorhir, meaning battle lords. According to the Dagorhir website, "combatants engage each other in battle with boffer weapons and foam-padded shields." Each member makes a costume, which can include armor, and 'safe' weapons for use at scheduled battles.

The young man explained that Dagorhir was a LARP - a live action role playing game. He had taken the name, Omega, and was so passionate about his character that he willingly had the Greek omega symbol tattooed on his chest. I was gripped by the fact that he made it clear that this was his passion and he spent his free time participating in these battlegames all over the country.

As we continued our bike ride, I began to think about what I am passionate about. Paul wrote about his passion in I Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (KJV) Do I consider it a privilege to share the gospel with those I come into contact with? If someone can get so excited about a game that is mere role-playing, why is it so difficult for us to get excited about what God has done for us in real life? I want my passion to point others to Christ and His saving grace. What's your passion?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Today we are waiting for the weather to clear. Yesterday was a picture perfect day in Ohio - low humidity, with deep blue skies and wispy white clouds. I couldn't have imagined a more beautiful day for us to explore Cincinnati while Riley and her Aunt Jill were hunting for the ideal settings for her senior pictures.

Some time in the night, I was awakened by the deep rumble of thunder. There was something about the rhythmic pattern of rain on the roof that coaxed me to snuggle deeper under the covers and doze back off to sleep. By eight o'clock this morning, the rain was still coming down, although the weather forecast had only predicted a twenty percent chance of rain. A look at the radar convinced us that it would be a big mistake to try taking our bikes out on the trail any time soon. The storms are continuing to build and roll across Ohio as we rearrange our plans.

The huge difference in the weather between yesterday and today reminds me of life. One day, things can be picture perfect, while the next day can bring one storm after another. I can't count the number of times that circumstances have been going along favorably for quite some time, then suddenly something happens that makes me slam on the brakes of life and re-evaluate. The book of James gives me some great insight: "2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-4 (KJV)

I know the wording used in these verses is no mistake. Verse two uses the word 'when' not 'if' in referring to troubles occurring in our lives. So I know that I will have trials and temptations. I don't need to question why I'm experiencing challenges. God's word is clear that when my faith is tried, I have the opportunity to grow, mature and be complete in Him.

Just as the rain will eventually stop today, the storms of life will also pass by, hopefully leaving us more conformed to the image of our Savior. The choice is ours. Will we be surprised when the trial comes, and choose bitterness as a result of it? Or will we remember that troubles are coming and choose joy in the midst of our trial, knowing that we can allow the hardship to help us grow? What will you choose?