God Loved You At Your Darkest …

When senseless killings happen, it is often easy just to condemn the one who carried out the violent act.

However, I find myself wondering how many people are even at this moment lost in very dark places … perhaps one step away from the pain inside them spilling over into violent acts. They walk among us, with cries for help so deeply imbedded that even they do not know they need help.

It should not frighten us, but, instead make us more determined than ever to look around us and use every opportunity to bring The Love of Jesus and shine His Light into the darkness.

And when we pray, we should pray for the accused as well as the victims. It never ceases to amaze me to remember that Saul the terrorist became Paul the great missionary!

God puts no conditions on His Love. He sees everyone just as He created them to be.

Jesus said, “I am The Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have The Light of Life.”
John 8:12

Healing Old Wounds

I have retired most of my once large collection of Precious Moments figurines.  But I have kept one out that I treasure.

It is a little lamb holding out his wounded paw to the shepherd.  The Shepherd takes it tenderly.  The name of the figurine is “He cares for you.”

Many times in life we get wounded.  Things happen that hurt.  We often distance ourselves from the pain.  We call it learning our lesson … moving on … getting over it … forgiving … trying to forget.

But sometimes we carry the pain so deeply inside us, we do not even know it is there … on a regular day … in another, better life.

Then one day something happens and suddenly the pain is there again, fresh as the moment it happened.

I had such an experience recently.  Hearing the story of a young woman in an abusive relationship brought back the memories.  My heart raced.  I physically shook.  I once was that girl.

Surprised by my reaction, I asked The Lord why.  I said, “I forgave him, Lord.  And that was many years ago.  I even pray for You to bless him now.  Why would I react this way?”

God answered simply, “You never gave me your pain.  You never trusted me to heal you.  You pray for his healing, but not for your own.”

I had tried to forget.  But in that moment, I remembered.  And I asked God to heal me.  I felt like the little lamb extending its paw, and saying, “It still hurts.”

Perhaps at this moment, you might remember people who hurt you.  It is safe to tell God.  It hurt.  It still does.  

He knew then and He knows now.  He has been waiting to heal you.

It is interesting that after His Resurrection when Jesus reappeared to His Disciples, He came with His Wounds.  He acknowledged He had been hurt.

But when He invited Thomas to touch His Wounds, there is no evidence that He winced.  He had been wounded, but the pain was gone.

Trust Him.  He can take your pain away too.  

I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you!

2 Kings 20:5

Peace In The Storm

Then He got into the boat and His Disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. 

But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” 

Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Many times we read the above passage to indicate that Jesus should come and calm every storm we have. We inadvertently get things out of order. 

While Jesus is the Master of all Creation, including the winds and waves, He chose to address His Disciples first, before addressing the winds and waves.

Jesus’ Desire for His Disciples and for us is True Peace, even in the midst of the storm. 

True Peace only comes when we desire to be with Jesus so much that we’d follow Him anywhere and trust Him to do anything He desires.

I wrote the following reflection in 2009.

The storm came so quickly …

I knew not what to do.

I screamed and cried, “Lord, help me!

These winds respond to You!”

But He just lay there sleeping.

He did not come to me.

“Lord, this boat is sinking.

Wake up and come and see!”

Then, between the winds, I heard

A Sound both sweet and low.

“Are You just snoring, Lord?

Get up here now and row!

I’m doing all the work here.

I’m really going down.

If you don’t save me soon,

I surely will just drown!”

And He said, “Peace, Peace be still.

Remember what to do.

Peace … Be still … Peace… be still.

You can surely make it through.”

“Be still?” to myself, I thought.

“Why, I have to bail and row!”

The Voice still urged me on.

“Remember what you know.”

“I know I can steer this boat.

It’s the wind that is to blame.”

He stood up and looked at me

And He called me by my name.

“Be still! Peace, be still!” He said.

It was soft, but a command.

At first I thought the winds had stopped,

But at last, I did understand.

The winds still blew. The waves were high.

My boat still pitched and rolled.

But inside me, the storm had passed,

As He brought peace unto my soul.

I thought He spoke just to the storm.

He surely could, you see.

But when He spoke “Peace, be still!”

He really spoke to me!

Storms may come and storms may go,

But He is here to stay.

We can cast our cares on Him

Both now and every day.

Whether sailing through skies of blue,

Or truly stuck in a jam,

Look on Him and just be still.

You will hear the great I AM!

Be still and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:10

You will keep in perfect peace

Him whose mind is steadfast,

Because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3

Oh Lord, thank You that no storm, either within or without, can destroy Your Creation. Please keep reminding me that when I relax in Your Arms, I won’t drown. I’ll float!

May All Your Dreams Come True!

I grew up with Lawrence Welk.  My parents looked forward to the Saturday night show.  The performers seemed like family to them.

Even all these years later, I still feel the warmth of our being joined together in mutual enjoyment of their music.

The Lennon sisters grew up on the show.  Their tight harmony and sweet smiles attracted a loyal fan base.  I even had Lennon sisters paper dolls!

In later years, the sisters opened up about the difficulties of breaking free of the image of their youth  and finding ways to express their individual maturity.

But their family bond remained strong.  I am sure there are many of us left who thank them for the seeds of love they sowed into our families.

Here is the link to their New Year’s wish.  It is my wish for all of you on this New

 Years 2022.

Hope for 2022!

Many people select a word that they hope will define or inspire them in the coming year.

I joined those who follow this tradition some years ago.  It had an amazing effect on my life.  Through the year, I would meditate on my word.  God used it to transform me.  

The first year I chose “always,” reminding me that whatever what was happening, wherever I was, God was with me always.

This year, as I prayed about my word, God has led me to choose “Hope.”

As I have searched The Bible, I find it is literally overflowing with Hope.  I have only begun to mine the gold, but already I feel Hope rising up inside me.

The best New Year’s Gifts I can give each of you is to share some of the words of Hope both the Old and New Testament writers shared.

Wherever you go this year, whatever your circumstances, never lose The Blessed Hope of God.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your HOPE on The Grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His Coming.

1 Peter 1:13

Christ in you, the HOPE of glory.

Colossians 1:27

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the HOPE to which He has called you, the riches of His Glorious Inheritance in His holy people,

Ephesians 1:18

Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for He Who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Those who HOPE in The Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

But God will never forget the needy; the HOPE of the afflicted will never perish.

Psalm 9:18

May Your Unfailing Love be with us, Lord, even as we put our HOPE in You.

Psalm 33:22

As for me, I will always have HOPE; I will praise You more and more.

Psalm 71:14

I wait for The Lord, my whole being waits, and I have put my HOPE in His Word.

Psalm 130:5

And HOPE does not disappoint, because God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through The Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us.

Romans 5:5

In this HOPE we were saved.  But HOPE that is seen is not HOPE at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?

Romans 8:24

May The God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by The Power of The Holy Spirit!

Romans 15:13

For Such A Time As This

Think of all the perfect timing that went before you and brought you to earth for this exact time.

God planned that you would be here now.  You are living at this time for a reason.

 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.

Ephesians 2:10

God knew exactly where you would live and for how long.

God began by making one man, and from him He made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.

Acts 17:26

All of the joys and sorrows of life .. All the twists and turns … All the lessons learned … have brought you to this moment in time.  You are right on time.  

God has a Plan for His World and He has a Plan for you.

Step into 2022 with confidence that Your Creator goes before you and behind you and is with you always!  

I invite you to join Wayne Watson in reflecting on God’s Plan.  Here is the link.

Christmas Wish Or Christmas Promise Fulfilled?

When I was little, Sears sent out a Christmas catalog every year.  It was filled with pictures of the most wonderful toys.

It was affectionately called The Wish Book.  We looked at the pictures and we wished we could have what we saw.

Occasionally we would get something we wished for, but eventually we came to know most things were out of reach.  They would remain forever as wishes.

Christmas brings out the childlike wish side for many of us.  We watch Christmas movies that display magic and fantasy, and we wish for that life.  We imagine Santa is real and perhaps this is our year to get our heart’s desire.

But then reality creeps back in.  Life is not perfect.  There is still war, violence, sickness, poverty and hundreds of other things wrong in the world or with us very personally.

In spite of all the cheerful holiday songs about peace on earth, it does not seem to have come yet … nor does it look likely to come anytime soon.

Is peace on earth just a wish … see this … you can’t have it?

Jesus was a straight talker.  He told The Truth because He was (and is) The Truth.

He said, “In this world, you will have trouble.”  

John 16:33

So if you’ve got troubles, you can know Jesus said you would.

If that were all He said, we could give up and just stew.  But He said more.

He said, “BUT take heart!  I have overcome the world!”

John 16:33

We could think, “That’s great for You, but what about me?”

And then, Jesus reveals The Most Wonderful Truth.

He said, “I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you!”

John 14:20

He said, “My Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Peace in this world is not an empty wish.  It is a Gift we only need to unwrap.  The Source of Perfect Peace is inside of us, and He has come to stay!

He is not a wish.  He is a Promise fulfilled!

You, Lord, give true peace. You give peace to those who depend on You.  You give peace to those who trust You.

Isaiah 26:3

Here is the link to a beautiful song.  Peace to all.

Where Is Jesus?

A friend posted this picture early in the Christmas season. I added the caption, because the picture really spoke to me.

At this time of year especially, we remember that Jesus “became flesh and dwelled among us.”

But He is no longer in the manger or on the cross. He lives inside of each of us!

“Do you not know that your bodies are Temples of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?”
1 Corinthians 6:19

Your body is the wrapping for the Best Gift Ever! Merry Christmas!

Jesus’ Touch

Our grandson, Gideon, is an active 14 month old.

He explores every inch of the world around him, looking, listening, touching, feeling, tasting and more.

Recently I scraped my arm, resulting in a large, painful skin tear. When I was holding Gideon last night, his little fingers zeroed in on my broken skin.

I instinctively started to pull away. Then I realized he was gently exploring. He then stopped and laid his hand over the wound and was still for a few moments.

Warmth came from his hand. To my amazement, the pain stopped. I felt peaceful. I felt trust in this little one who touched me with love.

It was a few moments interaction, but so powerful.

It caused me to wonder what the touch of baby Jesus was like. We always imagine Jesus as coming to power at the time of His public ministry. But what about the times before He became known as a healer?

When His baby fingers touched Mary and Joseph, did they feel The Power? When the shepherds and wise men came, did they get to touch Him? Did the animals experience the warmth of His Touch and feel at peace?

And on this night, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, have we reached out in faith and touched Him? Have we let Him touch us and heal our wounds?

Take a few moments. Nose right up to that manger and let Him touch you. Feel The Power of a Love far greater than you can imagine!

Moved with compassion [for his suffering], Jesus reached out with His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Mark 1:41

I invite you to listen to this song, as you let Jesus touch you. Here is the link.

Why Were The Wise Men Wise?

I have always wondered about things.  I want to know more than what is told in the story.

I wonder about those wise men and their gifts.  

How did they decide what to give Jesus?  Did they think about it ahead of time?  

Did they discuss who was bringing what?  (I mean, usually people sign up for the potluck, so we don’t all bring mashed potatoes).

What was the real significance of their gifts?  There have been a lot of speculation, but does anyone really know?

What do we know about the wise men?  Why do we remember them as wise?

Can we learn anything from them?

Only the gospel of Matthew mentions them.

He did not say there were only three.  Many assume there were three because three gifts are mentioned.

He did not say they were kings.  It is rather more likely they were just men who studied the stars. .

The wise men were looking up when they saw the star.  

They were not content to just say, “Look at that!”  And see if it happened again.  They took action.

They sought to learn more, even when they did not know exactly what they were seeking. 

They followed where God led them, even when they did not know where they were going.

They were persistent.  Even though it took a long time, they kept going.   It is likely they did not even arrive until a couple of years after Jesus’ Birth.

Presented with whether to listen to an earthly king or a heavenly king, they made the right choice.  They listened to God.

And when they finally found Jesus, they gave Him their best Gift first.  They fell down and worshipped Him.

I wonder how long they stayed.  I wonder how Jesus The Toddler reacted to them.  I wonder what Mary and Joseph did with their gifts.

I wonder how many people they told about their encounter with The Lord of The Universe.

I wonder if they came back to visit again.

One thing is certain.  They went away changed.  And when they looked up forever afterwards, they understood what David The Psalmist meant when he said,

“The heavens declare The Glory of God!” 

Psalm 19:1

They had seen God in All His Glory up close and personal!