Friday, June 16, 2017

DAD'S DISCIPLINE

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)

“No, Dad. I didn’t do it.”
“Son, tell me the truth now.”

“No, Dad. I didn’t do it.”
“Son, tell me the truth now.

“No, Dad. I didn’t do it.”

Realizing there was a problem here, my Dad asked his 5 year-old son, “Son, what is the truth?”

With some trepidation, I responded, “It’s what you tell your Dad to keep from getting a spanking.”

We have to be taught the difference between truth and lie. We have to be taught the difference between right and wrong, and discipline is often needed to make the instruction emphatic. Fathers are on the front line in this responsibility, and fortunate is the child whose father is active and wise in this role.

At the beginning of their relationship, God gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments to make clear what is right and what is wrong.  The Old Testament is full of lessons and discipline leading them toward holiness. Loving discipline is key in showing the way to true life and holiness.

Father, thank You for Your guidance and discipline in our lives.  Lead us in the way that leads toward holiness that we may enjoy eternity with You. Amen.

© 2017 Parker Wayland


Friday, June 9, 2017

YES, GOD CREATED US

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27 (KJV)

Our eighth grade class was studying evolution. The teacher asked the class if anyone could prove that man did not evolve from apes. My heart pounded, but my hand shot up almost involuntarily.

Every eye in the class was on me. I had to speak up for God. Studying evolution was interesting. To me it was a lie.

"Bonnie, can you prove to the class that we did not evolve from apes?" the teacher asked.

"Yes," I answered. "Can I see the Bible?" I picked up the Bible on the teachers desk and opened it to the scripture above, and read it out loud. Then I read these verses from Genesis 2:21—23 which, paraphrased, said, God put Adam in a deep sleep and took one of his ribs. He closed up the flesh where He had removed the rib. Then, taking the rib, He made a woman and brought her to Adam to be his wife and helper.

Closing the Bible, I put it back on the teachers desk.

Dead silence filled the room. I sat down and waited, afraid to look at anyone and see the scorn on their faces. God's words had closed mouths and hopefully, opened minds.

I let out a long, cleansing breath. A warmth spread over my body. It was as if I had been hugged by some unseen arm embracing my shoulders.

The bell rang, ending the last class of the day.

Father, may young people open their minds and believe that You created them in Your image with a purpose for each of them. Amen.

© 2017 Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, June 2, 2017

THE GOOD LIFE

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6 (NKJV)

Many years ago, my husband and I enjoyed watching a television program called The Good Life. At the beginning of the show, we were introduced to folks who decided to leave demanding corporate careers and lifestyles for the good life—typically found in places where one could enjoy a slower pace of life and “stop and smell the roses.”

After the show, I’d close my eyes and dream about one day.

One day when all of our bills were paid . . .
One day when there would be more time to spend with family and friends . . .
One day when I finally achieved a healthy work/life balance . . .
One day . . .

If we are being honest with ourselves, one day never seems to arrive. Unfortunately, we sometimes wait too long and go to our death bed with a mountain of regrets—regrets stemming from words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

After making changes in my own life, it became clear to me that we are often the biggest obstacle standing between ourselves and the good life.

I am convinced the good life is not a destination, but a lifelong journey travelled with God, loved ones and others—in good and bad times. It is living life to the fullest within the boundaries God has established while being grateful and content with His provision in our lives. It is giving ourselves permission to enjoy life and live fully in the present—letting go of the past—and leaving the future in God’s hands.

My one day is today . . . is there something standing between you and the good life?

Lord, please give us hearts full of peace, contentment and gratitude—and show us the good life through Your eyes.


© 2017 Amy A. Verzi

Friday, May 26, 2017

MAY WE FOCUS ON THE CROSS


"Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”                                                                                            

 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50 (NIV)

As I reflect on my own faith journey, I find these words so refreshing. It’s amazing how many different denominations there are within the Christian faith. The number of churches within one community can be astounding. There are approximately forty seven churches in my own community 

Many churches preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaiming Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith. One can freely receive salvation when he comes to Jesus with a repentant heart and declares Him as Lord and Savior over his life. What may encourage one individual in their walk may not encourage another. Each person, even within families is unique in what appeals to their senses. However, the desire in our hearts to grow in our faith and love for our Lord, is the same. This may help us to appreciate the vast choices we have within corporate worship.

We can so easily become haughty in our attitude, comparing one church to another. May we instead, focus on the Cross and our personal relationship with Jesus whom we desire to imitate more truly each day in all that we do. 

Father God, may we appreciate and embrace others who are choosing to walk in Your ways. May we learn from each other and experience an even closer walk with Jesus. May our communities become as one in the faith, with the same desire to carry out Your command to witness Your love and bring hope to the world.     

 © 2017 Marianne Lucot

Friday, May 19, 2017

JESUS ON THE ROLLER COASTER

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, Genesis 28:15 (NAS)

 Our family always enjoyed amusement park rides. One year we vacationed near a boardwalk that boasted of having an old-fashioned, wooden roller coaster. With trembling anticipation, our children approached the ticket booth. 
As the roller coaster roared up, screeching to a stop, the children barely waited for the shaky, pale tourists to unload before jumping into their seats.

My husband and son hopped in. My daughter and I climbed into the seat behind them. As the ticket-taker came by, I realized that my hubby's long legs prevented the bar from catching the safety lock. My son had nothing to hold him in! My husband was more confident than I in his ability to overcome the power of centrifugal force and hold the bar. I turned in a panic to alert the ride operator.  That very instant, he threw the lever forward and we took off. Terror for my son's life seized my heart as we careened down the first drop, swerving precariously.

I knew any second my son could go flying into mid-air. I began praying aloud for God to protect him.  With the next sudden dip and twist something cracked in my lower back. 
I prayed even louder, "Jesus! Help us! Please, Jesus, get us off this ride safely!” 

It seemed like the ride would never end.

When the coaster finally screamed to a stop on the platform, my husband, son and daughter bolted from their seats and flew to the exit, leaving me in their dust. It was evident my loud prayers had humiliated them.
No matter, I knew Jesus had been with us, as He promised He would be—always and forever.

Father, I’m so thankful You are always as close as a prayer.

© 2017 Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, May 12, 2017

MAMA'S BEAUTIFUL HANDS

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon
the land which the LORD hath given thee. Exodus 21:12 (KJV)

Mama's fingers were so long and slender,
   Her nails painted in colorful hue;
Her wrists draped in rhinestone bracelets
   of which she had so few.

Mama's hands kept up from falling.
   They caressed whenever we cried.
They were cool when we burned with fever.
   They punished whenever we lied.

They applauded when we made achievements.
   They shook when temperaments flared.
Mama's hands let us know she loved us.
   Her tender touch showed she cared.

When we hurt, they made us feel better.
   They never pushed away in the night.
She clasped them in despair and anger
   when her daughters got into a fight.

Mama's hands were never more lovely,
   as when she folded them tenderly in prayer.
They brought the presence of God nearer
   until you felt His Oneness there.

Mama's hands were the hands of a lady.
   Her gestures showed that so clear.
They demanded respect of those who knew her,
   and the love of all she held dear.

Through the years Mama's hands changed little.
   They show all the love she commands.
Nothing can hold such wisdom
   as the love in Mama's beautiful hands.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MAMA.

Father, I have honored my mother, and therefore,
    I also honor You in all things. Amen.


© 2017 Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, May 5, 2017

A GREAT LEGACY

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

At the young age of 62, my friend embarked on a 2,806 mile journey across America as a walk of atonement and gratitude—and to raise awareness of the needs of children with emotional, behavioral and developmental disabilities. 

Frank shares his incredible story in his book, Life Lessons Learned, Amazing Stories of My Walk Across America for Children by Francis X. Ryan. His voice, so familiar to me, came alive on the pages and carried me along, as his amazing journey unfolded before my eyes. At times, it seemed as though I were walking beside him.

As Frank’s journey came to an end at the waters in Ocean City, Maryland, I realized that he had reached a new beginning. During the final month of his walk, God provided him with a plan to help children and families affected by emotional, behavioral and developmental disabilities.

There was work to be done.

God is faithful; and so is Frank—he accomplished what he set out to do, in spite of the challenges, hardships and obstacles he faced along the way. And when his spirits faltered, God, through His presence and His people encouraged and strengthened him.

Frank, my friend, you are a true hero—to those you love, inspire, encourage and serve every day—and to those who will come after you, who will benefit from your dedication and the groundwork you have laid. A great legacy from a great leader . . .

Lord, please show us what you are calling us to do today to love and serve others.

© 2017 Amy A. Verzi