Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I sat on the ground by my dad’s gravesite, eyeing this cross. Even though he walked with Jesus now, I told my daddy about life here on earth for the last ten years. With tears falling to the ground, I shared our family news with him. 

“Dad, your grandchildren are nearly all grown up and you have two great-grandchildren. Mom is quite weak as she receives dialysis regularly and we all takes turns helping her. I sure would enjoy a hug from you right now!” I said.

Wiping tears and rising up with renewed strength, I walked away from the dead planted in the earthly graveyard. Life’s daily needs summoned me, pulling me away from the past and placing me into the present. Time to do today’s work while mentally preparing for the coming season. Another Christmas awaits us. Our family grows older, old ones grow weaker. The world seems to wander further away from God while He continues to work among His creation. What changes lie in our future?

When I left the cemetery, I decided to be thankful—appropriate for the current Thanksgiving holiday. Even though we should render daily thanks to the God who loves us, a celebrated day of Thanksgiving gives us reason to purposely offer gratitude for His many blessings. I’ve been thankful since my graveyard visit.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. Knowing I have a Daddy God who cares for me despite my failure fills me with joy. Thanks, Lord Jesus, for exchanging on the cross your righteousness for my sinfulness. How humbling is the thought of your sacrifice for me.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a loving earthly mother and father who cared for me and my sisters. Thanks for blessing me with a loving husband and two children. Father God, thanks for walking with me through the loss of my dad and the years of separation from my daughter. Thank you for bringing her home and declaring the promise of a good future for her. Thanks for my son and his wife who have blessed us with two beautiful grandchildren. Oh the joys and sorrows of the cycle of life. 

Thanks for your love exemplified through family and friends. Thanks for friends who lift me up when I’m down and speak your words of life over me. Thank you for prayer warriors who bow the knee with me in praise and pain to you, our Faithful and True Lord and Savior. 

Enable us, Lord Jesus, to daily live for you with thankful hearts, rejoicing in your Light that guides us while we live life in a dark world. Help us to gaze at your beauty and not the ugliness of sin. Forgive us for our part in the wickedness covering this earth. Thanks for your cleansing grace extended to us even while we are sinners. May we continually look to you with fresh eyes of faith, trusting you completely. 

Today as we celebrate the first day of Advent, anticipating your birthday, prepare our hearts for your presence, Jesus. Sweep every corner clean and make your home in the core of our beings. Nestle close and settle into our souls, allowing us to rest in the intimacy of your birth once more. Take us to your cross to humbly bow at your feet, releasing burdens, receiving deliverance. We rejoice with thanksgiving. Jesus, we pray in your holy and precious name, AMEN.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever. 

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures foreverPsalm 136:1-3,26 (NIV)

“Gratitude does more than make us feel good. It helps us become more resilient. ——Michael Hyatt

Enjoy Crowder's song entitled "Come As You Are"....

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Our God Reigns

“Rain rain go away, come again another day” is a popular English language nursery rhyme. Observation tells me its popularity rises when clouds conceal the sun for days while rain pours down, soaking the ground. On the other hand, mortals plead with the Divine for rain when the sun scorches earth and living things wither. 

Human beings can be so fickle. We generally live by sight, losing hope. Focus determines attitude. If life seems prosperous and satisfying, self-reliance increases while attention to the Provider fades. When conditions fail, distaste for disaster turns to blame. Tempers flare and discussions heat up. Fights ensue and riots break out. Dissension among individuals, families, churches, and governments create a world on fire, lost without direction. And the age-old question surfaces once more—where is God?

Is God surprised by this question? Not at all. He’s the Creator and He knows His creatures. Does this question break His heart? Absolutely. His faithful nature is offered to faithless hearts. His Word continually proclaims His faithfulness while providing numerous examples of humans blaming God for their terrible circumstances. Present situations definitely mimic Biblical circumstances.

Ages ago before accomplishing His word to the Israelites about the Promised Land, God told Moses to write a testimonial song about His faithfulness and His people’s unfaithfulness. It would later prove to be a character reference for God to Israel and the world. God knew once the Israelites set foot in the abundant land flowing with milk and honey, prosperity would breed forgetfulness. Heavenly Father recognized troubles would arise and the Israelites would cry out for help. He wanted this testament written down by Moses so the accounts of a faithless people could instruct and warn future generations. He also desired the revelation of a Faithful and True God broadcasted to all humankind. (You can read about this event in the thirty-first and thirty-second chapters of Deuteronomy.)

From dry desert to succulent surroundings, God dwelt with His people until they chose to break His covenant, forsake Him, and worship false gods. These fair-weather children of God quickly forgot the origin of their blessings. They abandoned the reality of God’s Presence among them in the pillars of cloud and fire. In a land of plenty, they chose wickedness and suffered dire consequences because the Holy One of Israel had to turn away from their unholiness. And they questioned God’s absence in their lives. Oh the plight of all humanity, the fickleness of our focus. 

We struggle on this earthly battlefield when our focus is temporal and apathetic. Anything (including education/intelligence, religion, politics, material items, people, money, power, self, etc.) that steals our focus from God Almighty is an idol or mini god. When we turn away from our faithful God to the likes of these false gods, hopelessness will eventually result. 

Is Father God disheartened by His children’s unfaithfulness? Yes. Willing to forgive? Definitely. He went to great lengths—sent His Son Jesus to die for us—to grant us mercy and grace in our time of need. Yet He still offers us the choice to either walk in our own flesh or by His very Spirit. Will we fix our gaze on a faithful God with hopeful eyes or continue staring at earthly failure with slumped shoulders of unbelief? Will we see gathering clouds as proof that our Lord God reigns or complain because once again those clouds bring rain? What will you do when clouds gather?

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Daily Son Shine

Clouds persistently linger. Winds briskly blow. Raindrops steadily dribble. Mud puddles swell. Sun, are you there? Sure doesn’t feel like it. 

Of course the sun hangs in the heavens. Earth orbits the sun, making one revolution in 365 days and one rotation every 24 hours. Similar to a hub the sun shifts at a snail’s pace while all the planets continuously move around it. Yet why do we imagine it gone?

I’ve fought those notions of an absent sun for the last three weeks, allowing cloudy, wet, and cold conditions to affect my attitude. I know the sun’s out there but with no warmth and no shine, I tend to get disheartened. Why?

Researchers claim a lack of sunlight may lead to a form of clinical depression in some people. Seeing little sunlight can cause the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And talk about sad—the symptoms for this disorder range from mood swings to suicidal thoughts. 

When clouds gather, gloomy demeanors may form within our subconscious. An extended time of stormy weather breeds discouragement even while our minds comprehend the sun’s existence. Do similar feelings grow within our souls when we witness the gathering storms of rebellion, dissension, wickedness, and just plain evil? Do these acts of corruption lead to despair and depression? Truly the consequences of sin result in sadness. And I will declare the lack of Son light is to blame. 

Son light? Yes, Son light radiating from the love and warmth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He exists and is always available just like the sun our earth travels around. But when we allow sorrow and tragedy to be our focus as a dreary rainy day, we lose sight of the Son’s existence. Life grows cold and dismal. We perceive only gathering storm clouds, seeing only murky skies.

YET God’s Word tells us He is also in the clouds. Actually the clouds are the dust of His feet says the prophet Nahum. He is there in the storm. He is with us, come rain or shine. Hear His words from the pens of prophets and patriarchs, apostles and Jesus Himself.

So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!” 2 Chronicles 13:12 (NLT)

The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great,
    and he never lets the guilty go unpunished.
He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm.
    The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet. Nahum 1:3 (NLT)

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11 (NLT)

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)

Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us!” Isaiah 8:10 (NLT)

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” John 3:2 (NLT)

And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NLT)

If you’re experiencing stormy weather, maybe grab an umbrella, but definitely grab the Word of God. Even as the clouds hang low in the sky, both the Son and the sun shine light on you. Focus on the unseen until we meet again next week. In the meantime, let your praises rise to our faithful God with Nicole C. Mullen’s song “Holy Captivated” (link below).

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NLT)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Truth Prompts Repentance

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!

“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 2 Samuel 7:11-19, 22 (NIV)

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8 (NIV)

Holy and Heavenly Father, I fall at your feet in humility.
There is no one like you, Lord God, for you are worthy.
You alone are righteous, you alone are holy, you alone can save.

You fashioned heaven and earth by your Word. 
You formed man in your own image by your own words.
We your people praise you, Creator and Sovereign Lord.
I exalt and adore you, Almighty King. 

I stand before you in dirty rags, my filth surrounds me,
I live in a messy world filled with disgrace and wickedness.

Forgive me, Lord, for my many failings.
Forgive us, your Church and your Bride, for not standing on your truth
Because Jesus, you are TRUTH.

The essence of life hangs not on my truth, my neighbor’s truth, my best friend’s truth, 
Or even the government’s truth. 
The world’s truth is relative, creating confusion and chaos.
It began in an ancient garden when a serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say….”

Satan’s calculated controversy with the God of the universe
Planted doubts in the minds of the Maker’s cherished creation. 

A war of words ensued, extending to modern times. 

And still the truth is—you, O Lord, you alone are truth. 
Your truth is absolute, unquestionable, infallible.
Your orderly foundation filled the world with peace and calm, lawfulness and discipline.
The whole of creation was good.
You created boundaries and barriers for our good, you ordered our steps.

But we would not follow, choosing not to obey.

Humans reflected on a seed of doubt,
Confusion sprouted.
Rebellion blossomed.
Disobedience thrives daily.

Yet a God-fearing life relies on truth, 
Your truth protects and saves us.
All Your commands preserve us. 
Your holy standards in us glorify you. 

You are the Creator, I am only the creature. 
You make the clouds, I make a cloudy murky mess. 
You are Sovereign, I am limited. 

Why do I follow Satan’s example to rise against You,
To throw away your loving laws? 
Why don’t I choose your ways? 
Why can’t I relinquish control over my life and live in Your dominion,
Surrendering to your wisdom and will. 
Oh how I fail you and me! 
If only I could trust and obey you.  

Forgive me, Heavenly Father.
Forgive us, your children.
Come quickly, Mighty Warrior, and deliver us.

Flood the world with grace and mercy. 
Thank you for your loving salvation. 
May we open our hearts to receive you, Jesus!

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)

“There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 1 Chronicles 17:20 (NIV)

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4 (NIV)

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23 (NKJV) 

No one is like you, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6 (NIV)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)

Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4 (NIV)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Clouds of Glory

Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents. At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped. Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle, the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not journey. Numbers 9:15-19 (NKJV)

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:15-17 (NKJV)

The earthly world is not our home, Jesus tells His followers. It’s merely a place of residence as we journey toward heaven. But while living here, we are to be salt of the earth and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are an appointed people, a generation chosen to tell the good news of the Savior Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:9, John 3:16).

The Israelites too were a favored people, elected by God to shine for His glory. He chose Abraham and his lineage through Isaac to be a light to all the nations. Whether through His people’s rebellion, hardship, or blessings, God’s Presence remained with His people (even when they did not recognize Him). 

After generations of Hebrews spent time enslaved in Egypt, God called Moses to lead them on a three day journey out into the wilderness to worship and sacrifice to the Lord God. Eventually the miracles of the Exodus occurred and a promised land awaited them. But in the meantime, in the waiting period between miracles and promises—the wilderness—God commanded His people to be holy, sanctified, and set apart. In the desert He taught them how to worship the One True God.

While in the wilderness, God reigned among His people in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night. His glory descended from heaven and tabernacled (or lived) among them in the Tent of Meeting (worship center). Whenever Moses walked out of that sanctuary having spoken with God, He glowed with glory. When he met God in a cloud high upon a mountain, he radiated God’s glory. God’s Temple overflowing with a cloud represented God’s glory tabernacling with His people. And they were light to the world.

Today this world seems to be getting darker and darker. Have God’s people allowed their light to grow dim? Like the Israelites who rebelled against God’s commands and assimilated with the surrounding pagan nations, are Jesus followers allowing the world’s truth to supersede the Lord’s Truth? Without the Truth of God’s Word, people go astray. Whether rebels or aimless fans of the latest fads, many roam this earth without direction. But believers of God’s Word stand firm on truth, ready to shine for His glory. 

I witnessed an example of God’s people standing on His Truth and shining for Him this week. Christian students at a college nearby set up tents and assembled together for three days and nights during a festival focused on Christ. They chose to be bright lights for their peers, displaying the difference Jesus makes in people’s lives. A plethora of worldly views daily inundates college students prompting an upsurge in the latest trends. The Christian students desired to present to fellow students this Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) and who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Round the clock prayer, tents, food, coffee, free shirts, concerts, and worship music—weeks of planning went into the preparation for this 24/7 event. Clouds, rain, wind, and cold—unplanned weather appeared to wreak havoc on each day’s planned outdoor activities. From the outside looking in, all seemed hopeless. Yet on the inside of the tents, radiant faces of students beamed with excitement about the chance to share the gospel with other people (Matthew 19:26).

Seeing raised tents on this college campus reminded me of the meaning of the Israelites’ celebration of Feast of Tabernacles. They assembled tabernacles or tents to occupy during the week long feast. This festival celebrated God’s past provision during the forty year sojourn in the wilderness, observed God’s present provision of a completed harvest, and anticipated future crops with prayers for rain. The Israelites remembered and worshipped an ever present God in their lives.

Spiritually speaking, I knew in my heart that God revealed to me the sacred truths of the Feast of Tabernacles in order to uplift and inspire these college students. As they erected their tents in the rain and under cloud cover, God reminded me of His faithfulness from Biblical times to the present. I then encouraged them with the truth of God’s mercy continuing to rain down upon His creation for planned growth in His name (Jeremiah 29:11-12).

God desires to loosen up hearts so seeds of truth can be implanted in the minds of searching people (Jeremiah 29:13-14). Just as He reigned in the cloud over the tabernacle in the desert, His Presence lingered over the tents of a college campus during cloudy days. His blessings rained down in many ways as the students recognized His provision. He provides grace for people everywhere when their hearts seek truth. And He is available, come rain or shine.

You, O Lord, are the light to my heart and soul. You shine through the clouds over my life. Help me to shine for Your glory! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV)