Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Most Important Thing

by Sue Donaldson

One time, across a lunch table at Apple Farm, I said to a dear friend who didn’t know Christ:

“I think the most important thing about being a Christian is . . .forgiveness.”

Somehow that seemed inadequate as I was trying to share the Gospel. I had hesitated because how can you say what is most important? How often do you get the opportunity to begin -or end- that sentence with someone?

But I’ll never forget her response:

“That is no small thing, Sue.”

And she was right. Forgiveness is no small thing.

Perhaps you might fill something else in the blank: “The most important thing about being a Christian is: _______________.”

And whatever you would say would also be right -- but somehow that word said it all that day for me and my friend.

Psalm 32 is the consummate word on the blessedness of forgiveness—it describes it like no other.

I heard somewhere long ago that Psalm 32 is to be read after Psalm. 51. It’s the sequel that shouldn’t be missed – it’s the sequel that’s better than the first. In fact, if you don’t mind writing in your Bible, turn to Psalm 51 and write in the margin: “Now, read Psalm 32.” In fact, I would venture to say, never read the first without giving yourself enough time to read the second.

David wrote Psalm 51 when he was in the depths of despair—as well he should have been, we might add. His heart was broken, his spirit was crushed with the weight of his guilt, and that is right where God wanted him.

And that is right where God wants us-- every time we veer a little to the right or the left off the path of holiness He’s set for us. Once we get that straight, we can begin to experience the joy of Psalm 32.

Easter is all about forgiveness. Let’s don’t forget the most important thing. God didn’t. And He keeps on forgiving. All because of Easter.

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)

Dear Father God,

Thank You for Your great sacrifice so I could be forgiven. May I forgive others the same way you have forgiven me.

I love You, Sue

PS And thanks for that great sequel!

Monday, March 30, 2009

He Is Risen!

by Peggy Brown

Mark 16:6

And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (emphasis mine)

My thoughts about Easter are different this year than in years past. My focus is not just on the Easter story, but also on what that means to me as a believer in the Easter story.

We spent Thursday sitting at the viewing for my sweet Aunt Alma, and then Friday we laid her to rest. As we walked through the cemetery, we walked by the headstone of Lilian Wind. I chuckled at the memory. Mrs. Wind was a woman that my grandparents drove to church each week when I was a child. On the nights when I slept over, I was in the car with them and Mrs. Wind. The thing I remembered most was that she could talk and talk and talk and….well you get it. But I also remember that she loved the Lord with her whole being!

When we arrived at Alma’s grave site, we were seated right next to the headstone of Flavy and Bess DeWitt, my grandparents! I remembered how they loved me and my sister (their only, and might I add most amazing, grandchildren!) But I also remembered how they loved and walked faithfully with their Lord and Savior.

Over the last few days, I have been thinking about what a joy and comfort it is that I KNOW that because Jesus has risen, we too shall rise! Aunt Alma and Grandpa and Grandma DeWitt and yes, Mrs. Wind, are already risen to be with Him. (Now for those theologians out there, I know that their bodies won’t rise till Jesus comes again…) I was comforted by the fact that I know that they are in Heaven, happy, whole and rejoicing.

I AM so comforted to know that I will see them all again, and what a wonderful reunion it will be!

I am looking forward to celebrating Easter this year. I am planning on celebrating Christ’s resurrection with a new and fresh thankfulness for His amazing gift of life to us!

Dear Father, thank You for the sacrifice of the cross. Thank You that Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb! I praise You for the gift of Eternal Life and the promise that it holds for us, your children. We will see You face to face and all will be well. Amen

Scripture Reading for the week of March 30, 2009 - Ephesians 2

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” New Living Translation

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Eyes Are On You

by Cindy Frauenheim

Sometimes I am put in a situation in which I really don’t what do to. I am there right now in one area of my life. I am out of ideas, out of resources, confused as to what God is doing (or not doing!), and just crying out for the Lord to provide and to lead. So when I heard the words of scripture recently that said, “…we do not know what to do…” I knew I needed to open up that portion of the Word and see what He had to say. The context is that several armies are descending upon Jehoshaphat to make war on Judah and drive them from their land.

…See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 2 Chronicles 20:11-12

Jehoshaphat was up against an obstacle that seemed insurmountable and he was out of ideas. I like how direct he was with God: We don’t know what to do! He admitted that this situation was totally beyond him, but he didn’t lose hope. He put his eyes on God.

If I search the passage a bit more I see just previous to this:

"Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah." 2 Chronicles 20:3

This was clearly a pattern for Jehoshaphat. First, he had resolved to inquire of the Lord, and then he put on eyes on him. Then the Lord spoke to Jehoshaphat through Jahaziel:

…This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."

2 Chronicles 20:15, 17

Wow! What an amazing thing to hear from the Lord. Jehoshaphat and the people obeyed and the Lord gave them great victory. That must have taken huge faith to stand firm and face those armies! Oh how I need that kind of faith!

Here are some things Jehoshaphat did that I want to follow:

1) Have resolve to inquire of God – persevere in prayer.

2) Cry out to God in honesty.

3) Put your eyes on God – don’t look elsewhere for help.

4) Do not be afraid or discouraged; know that the battle is God’s.

5) Stand firm in what you do know that God had told you to do.

6) Face your battle knowing that God is with you.

I know that this is not a “formula” for easy success in life’s trials. God determines when and how the victories in our life will occur. But he is working out complete and final victory for his people. It may not always appear that way to us – it may appear impossible at times. I’m sure the cross looked impossible.

God I don’t know what to do in this situation I find myself. You know that I and many others have brought it to you in prayer over and over again. I am looking to you and to you alone for help. Help me in my fear and discouragement. Help me to stand firm in what you have asked me to do, and thank you that you are with me. Give me eyes to see your victory when it happens.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What We Believe

by Rebecca Irwin

As I attempted to sift through one of the constant piles beside my desk, I came across a responsive reading I had saved from an old church bulletin. As I read it again, the firmness of my belief felt rock-solid in the midst of our current culture’s shifting sand. This is what I wish to build my house on. My prayer is that this will encourage your heart with victorious hope today. Say it out loud – We believe!

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory, to judge the living
and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy universal and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Condemnation

by Debbi Weeks

A dear friend spoke God’s Word from Romans 8:1 to me last week: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Those words fell anew on my heart. What freedom, what peace! I was reminded that my loving Father convicts, but does not condemn. Satan takes God’s good and turns it around to paralyze and imprison us – it is Satan that condemns.

Another friend asked the question that we should always ask when we see a therefore in a sentence: “What’s the therefore, there for?” To get enough context we must read what came before the therefore. Here’s what Romans 7:14-25 says: So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT) After these verses comes Chapter Eight’s therefore. Wow! It’s awesome to know what the therefore is there for!

I know this sin struggle described in these verses all too well. What a blessing to know that God through Jesus Christ has already taken care of it all for me and for you. I do not need to wallow in the guilt of my sin, that’s what Satan wants for me - to feel condemned and unworthy. Christ on the other hand offers me repentance and restoration! Yes, there is now no condemnation for me (because I am in Christ Jesus)!

Father God I praise You that You convict, but don’t condemn.

Please forgive me for the times when I lose at this sin struggle.

Thank You for giving me the peace and freedom of not being condemned. And, thank You that You provide the answer in Jesus Christ.

Please allow my heart to live convicted, but not condemned.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gardens of Contentment

by Sue Donaldson

Spring has about sprung – I can tell by the gale winds galloping through our neighborhood. Time for a little gardening. Have you got the itch for digging in the dirt, planting a seed or seedling here and there, and figuring out your watering schedule?

Gardening takes work – it’s not just about all new gloves and a sun hat. We need to take care of what we plant. And the more we nurture the seed – just the right amount of sun and water and plant food – the better the results. We know this to be a fact. We don’t always follow through on our new Spring resolutions.

While walking down our street last week, Lisa and I were talking about contentment. (Women especially have difficulty in that area. I’m sure it started with Eve – she had a whole garden of other trees, for heaven’s sake…)

Lisa said that becoming more content takes cultivation – like gardening (she does more gardening than I do, so she was thinking in those terms) – but I got it. I knew that when I plant seeds of contentment – and take care of those seeds – my contentment grows.

Here’s what I came up with. Maybe you could make your own list of “seeds” that help you cultivate what God says is a good thing. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6)

Planting Seeds of Contentment

10 Steps to Cultivate Contentment

It Starts and Ends with God!


Tell God Everything

Psalm 62:8


See Things His Way

I Timothy 6:6-19


First Things First

Matthew 6:33


Get a Team

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12


You Matter

I Corinthians 6:19,20


Trust God’s Timing

Proverbs 3:5, 6


Press On

Philippians 3:12


List your Thankful’s

I Thessalonians 5:18


Be a Giver

Psalm 37: 25, 26


Get to Know Your God

Psalm 62:5-7

Maybe try out a “seed” a week for the next 10 weeks and see how your garden grows. When we harvest contentment, everyone benefits.

Dear Master Gardener,

Please help me plant your seeds of contentment. I need Your help every step of the way. Looking forward to lots of flowers this Spring! (I bet You are, too!)


Monday, March 23, 2009

The Nearness of God


by Grandma Peggy

Well, I have had quite a week to say the least!! I can hardly believe everything that has happened. Let me bring you up to date on the life and times of the Browns.

We had our immediate life all planned out! Our grandson had passed his due date with no signs of eminent (or non-eminent) arrival and his doctor scheduled him to be induced on Friday, one week past his due date. I had a some stuff ready, my list made and plans for getting the last laundry done and the clothes packed on Thursday for departure on Friday morning.

Sunday night I had started coming down with a cold. Monday I spent on the sofa taking Airborne, using Zycam in my nose, drinking water till my pee ran clear and often, and praying that God would make me well by Friday. Why NOW God?

I’m sure you’re guessing, if you don’t already know, that Jake had different plans. Tuesday morning, our son Ryan called and said “Did you pack your stuff like I suggested?” Sandy had gone into labor! I dragged myself off of the couch, jumped (rather crawled) into the shower and got out of the house in 1 hour and 15 minutes start to finish! That’s got to be some kind of record.

On our drive down, Ryan called to let us know that they were taking Sandy in to do a c-section because Jake was so big. (He arrived on March 17, 2009, 2:52pm 10 lb. 10 oz. (yes, you read that right!) 22 inches!) Long story short, we arrived 3 hours after Jake’s arrival to discover that he was having some lung problems that required him being kept in an incubator in the nursery for observation. After a long night of waiting, we finally went home to bed. I was so disappointed that I could only see my first grandchild through a window and couldn’t get my hands on him… This is frightening Lord!

I did get to hold him the next morning, but I was still sick, so I had to wear a mask every time I held him. It was so amazing to get to hold my child’s child! I kept crying, and those of you who know me know that I don’t do that very often. I was only disappointed that I couldn’t kiss him…that darn mask was so frustrating! Why Lord? Other than the mask thing, everything else was amazing. We were able to visit the little family every day in the hospital, and stay all day with them and the other set of grandparents. You are AWESOME God!

Fast-forward a day to Thursday morning when I received a call that my dear Aunt Alma had slipped into a coma in the nursing home. Why now Lord? Coincidentally (You planned that didn’t you Lord?) my sister and niece were visiting her from Oregon and were in the car on the way to see her when I reached them by phone. They were able to visit her and sit with her for most of the day before leaving to drive home. I kept wondering about God’s timing as I was fielding phone calls from my sister, the nursing home and hospice. What should I do, go up there, stay where I am?????? . Oh Lord, what’s the right choice?

We finally decided that we would go to her on Saturday, knowing that we had already said our goodbyes and that we couldn’t be of any “help” to her should she not live until then. Is that OK Lord? She went home to be with her Heavenly Father on Friday afternoon, with the caring hospice people in attendance. Thank You for her release God!

The baby and his parents came home on Friday afternoon and we all rejoiced and enjoyed holding him snuggling him and just being in awe of what God had done! I highly recommend becoming a grandparent.

My emotions were running all over the place as life just kept “happening” and I was completely out of control. I had to spend most of Saturday on the phone making arrangements for Aunt Alma. I never knew how much there was to arrange. Thankfully, my cold was getting better by then. God is good.

We spent most of the week with Ryan, Sandy and her parents and were able to revel in this new little miracle. We drove home today, and I’m ready for a nap!

Through this time, I have been constantly reminded that God is near. God is sovereign…He knew about the cold, the c-section, the baby’s lung problems, the mask, the coma, the death and the arrangements! He walked through every moment with me, my family and especially Aunt Alma. God provides. He provided Alma’s pastor to minister to me over the phone as he wisely and gently advised me, visited Alma and walked me through the process. God provided my son and daughter-in-love with tender hearts to recognize that “Jake is very good medicine, why don’t you hold him?” after I found out about Alma’s coma. He provided my friend Lisa to pray with me and ask God to “cuddle Peggy as she walks through this time in the same way that she is cuddling Jake” and other friends who were on their knees with me at the touch of my cell phone.

I am here to tell you that God is near! His nearness is very real and very tender. I praise Him again for proving Himself faithful even when my faith is not nearly big enough. I am glad that He is big enough!

Ps. 145:18 “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”

I thank You God for Your amazing and unfailing love and nearness. Thank You for the gift of new life on earth and the blessing of new life in Heaven. Thank You for letting me glimpse them both this week and see the joy of both! Amen

PS.... As you read my thoughts dear "bloggies" I must ask forgiveness. First, and most importantly, from my husband for neglecting to share his tender and constant involvement in the entire process of the week, and second from you for not giving you the blessing of having insight into how my Godly husband ministers to me so faithfully.

I was so blessed by Wayne's tender heart through the whole week . Before one call ever went out to family and friends for their prayer and support, it was my loving husband who was standing with me. He was my partner in celebration, he was the one to hold me, cry with me, pray with me and for me. He knew just the words to share, the memories of Alma to recall and the loving thoughts of Alma that would bless and encourage me as she left this world.

I know that I have been blessed beyond anything I could ever have imagined to have this tender man by my side for all that our life has brought to us. God has been good to me and I thank Him for Wayne and wanted to make sure that you all could give thanks with me.

Scripture Reading for the week of March 23, 2009 - Ephesians 2:14-16

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” New Living Translation

Friday, March 20, 2009

Take My Voice

by Kate Hasson

A song that has been running through my mind the past couple of weeks is one that I’m sure most of us are familiar with, “Take My Life and Let It Be”. Here are the lyrics:

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

But oddly enough, this time a different part of the hymn has captured my heart and mind. Verse 2, second half: “Take my voice and let me sing, always, only for my King”. Now I had always pictured this in my minds eye as me saying that I want to always be singing songs of His praise and His glory. But this time a new picture came to my mind. I want my voice to constantly sound like a beautiful song to my King; with my regular voice; with everyday talking with my children and husband.

You see I like to express myself when I speak - doesn’t everyone? I use different tones when I feel different feelings. I don’t sound monotone when I’m excited, I express it with my face, my gestures and especially my voice. The opposite is true as well, though. When I’m upset or disappointed or concerned I don’t mask that feeling with cheer and peace. I again, express it! My face shows it, my gestures show it, and again, most of all, my voice shows it. Honestly, I don’t believe I yell often. I do at times, and its then I clearly know I’ve let my anger get a hold of me and I’m in sin. But more often than not, I will express my disbelief and disappointment with vocal passion, and even though it’s not loud and mean, it’s demeaning and mean.

Somehow the Lord has brought this to my attention through this song and I have come to realize over the past few weeks how unkind my voice can sound to my girls, and most ashamedly to my husband. Even when I’m aggravated I truly want my heart to change and remember that my voice is to always and only be used as a beautiful song to the ears of my King.

To Him be the glory and honor, in my life and voice, forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


by Rebecca Irwin

We are a people anticipating change. A change of seasons, a change in the weather, a change of days. A change of the channel, a change in the bad news, a change in the bull market. A change of fashion trends, a change in the hot colors, a change in the sofa we sit on. A change in our child's whining, a change in our mate's attentions, a change in our short tempers.

As we go about our days we either hope for and anticipate the change, or we doubt the change will ever come. Sometimes, we dread the change. We can pray for a change and stand amazed at how quickly the answer seemed to come. Other times, we can pray for a change in our loved one's hearts and lives and begin to think we will never live to see it.

The truth remains that change, in whatever form it comes, is inevitable. With time, comes change. We do not save the innocence of our childhood. We do not keep our first teeth and remain a youth like Peter Pan. We feel the effects of change at a more rapid pace than Methuselah who lived to be 969 (Genesis 5:27). We cannot change the storm like Jesus when he spoke to the sea. We do not have the power to reverse time and undo something that changed our life, or someone else's. We cannot hold onto our child and keep them at yesterday. And as we strive to change the things we dislike in ourselves, we are set back sometimes and realize that change can come slowly, it is a process.

BUT. But there is one who does not need to, or hope in, or strive for change. It is written : "What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (James 4:14). "The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17). "They will perish, but You will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end." (Psalm 102:26-27). "Jesus Christ is THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, and FOREVER." (Hebrews 13:8).

What a comfort to know that we can count on Jesus Christ in totality because He is ALWAYS Himself. He does not act differently with a change in circumstances. He does not respond once we have changed. He does not wish to take something back because He changed His mind. He will never feel less loving toward us.

As I reflect on this Lenten season and our anticipation of Easter, I am so very grateful that through His sacrifice He changed my death sentence to eternal life. Yes, but even more, I am struck by the hope that unlike any other being or thing we have known, Christ remains the same. As an uncreated being he does not change.

Thank you Triune God for your nature that is unchanging. We could not, we need not hope for a better God. You are all in all. You are the I AM. It is because of your sameness that you can bring about much needed change in us and through us. May we be your instruments of hopeful change in a world anticipating good news.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Worry, Trust Christ

by Debbi Weeks

Shortly after learning the news that I was pregnant with my son I was horrified to find out that in the first few days of his development I had been working in our enclosed garage stripping paint with toxic chemicals, clearly labeled NOT to be used while pregnant. I remember taking the can into my OB/GYN’s office in a panic. His wise advice still resounds in my mind as if he told me it this morning. He said, “There’s nothing that can be done about that now. The worst thing you can do for your baby growing inside of you is to worry.”

God gives the same wise advice in Matthew 6:27: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” And, I would include, which of us can add a moment to our children’s lives by worrying about them? In fact, worrying can actually detract from life – our children’s and ours, as they watch and learn from us. Stress and worry suck the life right out people.

So how do we keep from worrying? We trust. We trust in a sovereign God whose plan cannot be thwarted (check out Job 42:2). He says in Philippians 4:6 and 7: “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (The Message)

I love that – let Christ displace worry at the center of your life!

Father God I praise You for being sovereign and in control. I praise You for being worthy of our trust.

Please forgive me for worrying when I should be trusting and experiencing Your peace.

Thank You for showing me that worry takes away and trusting You gives peace.

Please displace my worry with Christ.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finding Contentment

by Sue Donaldson

God says that contentment is worthwhile. (“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”) I Timothy 6:6

Where do we find it?

He knows it doesn’t come from possessions (“I’d like to have one of THOSE, Lord, and then I’ll be happy, really – just one, Lord, that’s all I need…okay, maybe two…”)

He knows it doesn’t come from people (“Father, if You would just wave Your wand over my husband and make him the Man of Your Dreams – all for Your glory, of course-- then I would be perfectly content – and, at long last, we would be perfectly matched…”)

And, He knows it doesn’t come from circumstances (Dear Father, please take this cup from Me … then I will praise You the rest of my life – or, at least until the next trial…”)

I love this quote:

“Since only God can supply all our needs, true contentment is found only in Him.”

That sounds basic -- because it is – but still profound, don’t you think?

So, maybe we don’t seek contentment (even though it is great gain) – rather, we seek God.

I think it’s a matter of sequence. Matthew 6:33 says,

Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”

When you are feeling discontented with someone or something or some situation – check your sequence. That means – what’s first?

Is it God’s kingdom? Or, Sue’s kingdom?

Do I want Him first? Or, second (or, tenth?)

Jesus said we don’t need to worry about the details because He will. We’ve got the best interior decorator, cook, entertainer, personal trainer, shopper – all in One – and all we do is seek Him and His kingdom first – and He will show us what do to next. (Remind me to tell you what happened at Banana Republic yesterday!!)

We’re given many steps to cultivating contentment. Perhaps the first is to put first things first.

Dear Father of all Details,

Thanks that You are so clear. May You be first in any endeavor and desire of mine. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking Forward to Easter, pt. II

by Peggy Brown

This is the second half of an Easter project that I wanted to share with you. It is a wonderful, hands on tool for helping our children (and us too) begin to focus ahead of time on what Christ did for us!

You can find Part I on my blog entry from March 9. My prayer is that this simple tool will be a blessing to you, and that even if you don’t make the project, just reading through these precious scriptures will bless your heart!

#7- Object: Piece of sponge

Verse: Matthew 27:48 – Quickly one of them ran and got a sponge and filled it with vinegar and tied it to a stick and gave it to Jesus to drink.

#8- Object: Small spear (we used a plastic olive/hors douvres toothpick, but a Lego spear would work!)

Verse: John 19:34- But one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side, and at once blood and water came out.

#9- Object: One die (that’s the singular of dice!)

Verse: Matthew 27:35 - After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

#10- Object: Piece of white fabric

Verse: Matthew 27:59 - And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.

#11- Object: Round stone

Verse: Matthew 27:60- He put Jesus’ body in a new tomb that he had cut out of a wall of rock, and he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb.

#12- Object- NONE!

Verse- Mark 16:6- But the man said, “Don’t be afraid. You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who has been crucified. He has risen from the dead; He is not here. Look, here is the place they laid Him…”

God of the universe it amazes me that You desire also to be Lord of my heart! Thank You for drawing us to Yourself with tender love. Let my heart be overwhelmed by the cost of Your sacrifice for me. Amen