Thursday, July 30, 2009

Victim vs Victor

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Phil. 4:8 (RSV)

Sadness grew as I watched my neighbors’ family work together planting little red impatiens around the front of their home. Their children nearby tried to outdistance each other on their swings. My heart yearned for my family to be able to work and play together instead of arguing and over-drinking. I called a dear friend and shared my anxiety, saying, "Everyone looks happier than me." She responded, "Do not compare your insides with their outsides."

"Think about anything worthy of praise." St. Paul said. Then I realized I was letting my thoughts dwell on what I did not have. That was destructive, and definitely a waste of my time and energy. It caused me to miss all the blessings God had surrounding me. I took a mental survey of our nice home, and our cupboards full of food and repented of my self-pity. With the time I would have spent thinking negative thoughts, I baked our favorite: blueberry muffins. In silence, my family shared the fresh delicious muffins, but I became a victor instead of a victim.

Dear Lord, Giver of Life, and Teacher: Help me to keep my eyes upward and not inward. Help me be thankful in all circumstances for all your blessings. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

© 2009 Lois Gosley

Friday, July 24, 2009

He Rescues and He Saves

For He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves. Daniel 6:26 (NIV)

Standing in the checkout line at a department store, a drama between a mother and her young son unfolded before me. The boy, who appeared to be about four years old, left his mother’s side and began fingering a display of ceramic cookie jars in a variety of animal shapes.

“Come back here Donny,” the mother said softly. Donny ignored her and took the top off a cookie jar shaped like a kitten. “Come here,” Donny’s mother said, a bit more firmly. The child put the kitten top down and took the top off a jar with a puppy’s head. “Put that down right now,” the mother shouted. Donny dropped the lid and it broke into several pieces. “Now look what you’ve done,” Mother said. She left the line, grabbed Donny’s hand and led him away from the display.

When we wander from God’s side, He often speaks to us in a soft voice reminding us to return to Him. Because He loves us, His voice may become more insistent. Praise God, He does not give up on His own…even when our behavior causes damage. Eventually, though we wander, He takes those who belong to Him by the hand and leads them to a safer place…if we let Him. Donny’s mother may have been reacting in anger, but our God acts to rescue His children in love.

Lord, thank You that you are a loving God who rescues and saves. Help us to hear and respond to your voice before we do damage to ourselves and others.

© Christy Struben 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009


The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. Proverbs 15: 3 (NIV)

It has been impossible to manicure the lawn with all the rain. My husband nearly wiped out an entire family of rabbits. The mother made a nest in the tall grass in the front yard. One of the babies did die when the mower blade hit its ear. He stopped mowing when he realized what had happened. My heart was sad, and I wanted to give the little bunny a proper burial.

I decided to watch and see if the mother was coming back to take care of her babies. I did not want them to perish from neglect. As a child, my spouse had raised rabbits. "She'll come back tonight to feed them and sit on the nest to keep them warm. She is nearby and watching. Even though their eyes aren't open, they can sense she is near," he said.

I wanted to spy. I hid in my van for a few hours so the mother would not see me. I saw a cat across the street, and I was ready to jump out and scare it away if it came too close. Nothing bad was going to happen as long as I was watching.

Sitting there during that time, I thought about God and me. He is my Father, and He has given me safe refuge in Him. I cannot see Him, yet I know He is watching.

Lord, I thank you for all the wonderful things you have taught me through nature. I thank you for being there, watching.

© Marcella Panowicz 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Far Can You Go on Twenty Five Cents Worth of Gasoline?

I was young and now I’m old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:25 NIV)

In the mid 50’s my sixteen year old cousin David, worked on a farm all summer so that he could buy an old car. I was thirteen, and thrilled when David asked me to go on an adventure with him. What he had in mind was more of an experiment than an adventure. He wanted to see how far we could go in his new/old car on just 25 cents worth of gas.

Surprisingly, we traveled the four mile perimeter around the little town of Worthington, Indiana, for more than an hour before we drifted to a stop.

I think of David and that “adventure” when I pump gas into my tank at $2, $3, and $4 a gallon. Before I work myself into a funk, I remind myself that back in those days David only made a few dollars an hour working on the farm.

More importantly, I remember that although times change, God never changes and always provides for his children.

My heavenly father laid the foundations of the earth. He gives orders to the morning and gives the dawn its place. He will never leave me nor forsake me. All that I’ve needed His hand has provided.

How silly it is for me to let the price of gas rattle me.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you that you are Jehovah Jireh, my provider. Help me to remember that I need not be afraid of economic turmoil. You have promised to supply all of my needs according to Your riches in glory.

© Christy Struben 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

I LIft My Eyes

I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm121:1-2 (NIV)

This weekend the United States is celebrating the day we declared our independence from England. As I lift my eyes towards heaven to watch the fireworks, I need to remember why I have the freedom to worship God. The Bible is the basis of the United States government and laws, “One nation under God”. Yet I find that Americans have lost their way, in part because they do not know our Christian heritage. It seems that some of the freedoms we celebrate are slowly being taken away. But I do know from where my, and our, help comes.

In all of his troubles, King David knew to turn to God. His hope was not in his nation but in the One who created the nations. Whether he was on the throne or a fugitive on the run, he turned to the One who could and did deliver him from all his afflictions. His freedom was his dependence on God. So is ours.

As we spend time with family and friends, we need to spend time thanking God for freedom. And, like David we need to pray for our nation's leaders, and those close to us.

This weekend, when all the activities end and we reflect on our lives, I hope we have a better appreciation of what God sacrificed for us. Like David, may we always have our eyes looking toward the Author of Liberty.

Prayer: Thank you God for keeping us free to worship you. May we always remember that through you we can take comfort in the knowledge that help comes from you.

© 2009 Dawn Sexton