November 15th, 2017
Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2
Have you ever been on the phone and you lose the signal and the call drops? Did it take you a few minutes to realize that the person was no longer listening? Don’t laugh, I know it has because it happens to me at least a couple times a week while driving into the Black Hills. Sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in what we’re talking about that I don’t realize I’m about to pass the imaginary line of phone communication driving up the hill. And I think she’s just listening. It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it?
Or maybe you tend to interrupt others. Your friend says something that reminds you of something else, and without warning you change the subject. Do you find yourself later realizing that your friend never finished their story?
Sadly, our prayer lives sometimes resemble a one-sided conversation. We begin by telling God all the things that we think we need. We outline for Him exactly how we’re going to carry out His plans for our lives – without always asking Him what those plans are! On we go, full steam ahead, without realizing that we haven’t heard a response from God. We’re so busy talking that His silence slips by us.
Other times we begin to get a vision for something Gods wants us to do. But before He can finish preparing us for His plan, we rush off with only half the story. It may be a good idea for us to slow down just a bit. God knows our hearts, and He doesn’t need so many of our words. Our friends might appreciate a little more listening too.
November 8th, 2017
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
Does this happen to you? You wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden craving for a certain food, but the only thing in your kitchen was some instant oatmeal, peanut butter, a sleeve of crackers and an apple? Or perhaps a sudden winter storm blew in, and you couldn’t leave your house. Those are the times you realize the pitiful state of your pantry. Being snowed in is a reasonable concern in Rapid City, and it’s NO fun without sufficient supplies. (“supplies” is code for coffee and chocolate) It’s frustrating not to have what you need when you need it.
When it comes to the spiritual aspect of our lives, however, it’s more than frustrating when we find ourselves unprepared…it’s dangerous. Scripture tells us that we should always be prepared to defend our hope. Imagine that you were in a conversation with someone and they had questions regarding your faith. Would you be able to supply them with a response, or would you be unprepared?
Our pantries may look very different, yet still serve us quite well in an emergency. You may whip up a homemade pizza while someone else is content with peanut butter on a spoon. Likewise, not everyone is pulling from the same spiritual stockpile. One person may have a seminary degree, while someone else is a new believer. That’s the beauty of faith. When it comes to defending it, the answer is the same. The reason for our hope is always: Jesus
Don’t get caught unprepared. Be prepared with a hot beverage and chocolate in the pantry and Jesus in your heart.
November 1st, 2017
There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25
There was a time when folks lived their entire lives and died in the same small town. It wasn’t uncommon to grow up right down the road from grandparents. And you would NEVER dare misbehave in public because everyone knew your family and would have called your parents before you made it home. But these days things are different. People don’t stay in one place, they pull up roots and replant them somewhere new. Many of us have lived a lifetime of goodbyes – like I had to say to my family last week before returning to Rapid City, SD.
No matter how much we wish it were different, goodbyes are a part of life. Circumstances change. People change. Life happens and jobs change. Sometimes we must leave people and places that are dear to our hearts. Other times those we love leave us. Some goodbyes are welcome, however many goodbyes aren’t happy and some even painful.
Through it all, it helps me to remember that we must learn to hold on loosely to the things of this life. The things and people we cherish must be held with open hands as we entrust them to the One who loves them even more. We can trust Him to restore all joy.
Wanting our Lord more than we want any thing is the key to surviving goodbye. He must be our heart’s greatest desire. If God calls any of us to a goodbye, He can bring good from it. If it’s painful, we can trust that He will use it for His glory. Yes, some goodbyes will hurt, and we’ll grieve. But at the end of the day He will heal all sadness and reveal purpose.
May 31st, 2017
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. Luke 1:26-27
Have you ever planned an elaborate dinner party only to have your guests cancel? Or spent days looking for housing after finding a fantastic job, only to have the job get taken by someone else. It’s SO disappointing when the best laid plans go awry.
After all, I’m a woman and women are generally planners. , we tend to be less of the go-with-the flow type. We plan births, meals, and wardrobes with great attention to detail. We research and analyze our tasks – with lists. With that in mind, how could anyone not have compassion for Mary? The girl was planning a marriage.
Maybe she was deciding what entree to serve and arranging seating to make sure Aunt Bertha didn’t sit too close to the wine table, or maybe she was writing “Mary loves Joseph” in the dirt with a stick. Scripture makes it clear that when Gabriel showed up Mary was a betrothed woman. She surely had some things planned, and those plans did NOT include giving birth to the Son of God.
We’ve all had times when our plans didn’t work out. Perhaps we thought we would be married and have children, yet our Facebook status still reads “single.” Or we imagine ourselves enjoying a job on a coastal island spending spare time hiking and kayaking, but instead we find ourselves in the desert.
We thought we would be doing something else, be someone else. BUT GOD had other plans. Sometimes I make the mistake to compare my plans with God’s plan. I like to write them out on paper listing them side-by-side and weight the pros and cons of each. Every single times my realization is the same as Mary’s when the angel crashed her wedding plans, “Let it be to me according to your Word.”
We all like to think we have everything planned. Family life. Summer reunions. Christmas holidays. Finances. Career path. I pray we always leave room in our plans for His providence. I’ll have to see Ketchikan another time.
May 24th, 2017
You should mind your own business. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
I am currently in Honolulu, living in a rented room in a crowded neighborhood. I was talking to my mother while getting ready for work a few weeks ago. The next day I received a text from my landlord/roommate telling me the neighbors complained they could hear me making too much noise in the morning. Mind you I have no TV to turn on and the roommate has never been bothered by my morning routine.
Now I don’t have anything to hide. If you lived with me, you would likely find me waking at 4:30am and turning on the coffee maker before heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair. In that moment, however, I was taken back that someone would be annoyed and grateful for the walls and doors we have.
Most of us, at one time or another, have had a neighbor like that. If we are honest, perhaps we’ve been that nosy neighbor. When people live so close together, it’s difficult not to wonder what may be going on behind closed doors. Or in my current case, it’s difficult not to hear them practice their drums or blow their noses.
Perhaps the tendency is one reason why the Bible discusses brotherly love. Paul told believers to mind their own business. Right there, in between the instructions to live quietly and to work hard, is the directive not to peek in your neighbor’s windows. (ok, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point)
There is no question that we are supposed to love our neighbors. Scripture is quite clear on that subject. But we need to do so without crossing boundaries and complaining for no reason.
Lord, I need help loving neighbors that complain over normal noises. Help me to set a good example by loving my neighbors and concerning myself with my own affairs; and keeping phone calls home to the privacy of my car.
Alewa Drive Honolulu
May 17th, 2017
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never learn you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Everyone watched as they made their way around the obstacles in the long hallway. She pushed his wheelchair and pulled her buggy all at the same time. And people just watched as she left him sitting as she went to look for someone knew what his room number was. That’s when it happened. Without warning, his body arched and his head fell back. He began convulsing and people started murmuring, “It’s a seizure!”
Although some knew exactly what to do, the new CNAs stood there horrified and holding the blood pressure cuff. A crowd gathered and some nursing staff began to offer assistance, but the woman waved them away. Very calmly, she picked the man’s hat up off the floor and placed it on his head. She patted his shoulder and said “It’s okay. I’m here, just like always.”
There are times in life when we encounter scary situation. What should have been an ordinary day turns into something unexpected and unwanted. Someone gets ill or injured; a relationship ends; a job is lost. It’s easy to panic. Fear clouds our vision, and we forget that we are not alone.
God is always on our side. He never gets tired of walking with us and never grows weary of doing the heavy lifting when we are weak. He is never embarrassed by our frailty or annoyed by our failings. When others don’t know how to help, He is there. When friends walk way, He stays. Wherever we find ourselves when trouble comes, God will be there, just like always.
There have been so many times in my life when I couldn’t have taken a single step more without Him. He has been a faithful and consistent companion during my adventures. And He will be for you, too.
May 10th, 2017
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39
I enjoy watching my niece Grace and her parents walk hand-in-hand-in-hand when we’re out. It’s easy strolling until they make their way to the parking lot, where they instruct her to hold tightly to their hands. Sometimes she does, holding on as tightly as a two-year-old can hold. If she trips over a pot hole or loses her footing, she won’t fall because her parents have a tight grip on her. Tighter than her grip on them.
That is a beautiful picture of what it’s like to walk with God. There are times when it feels like a lovely stroll through the zoo, surrounded by family and friends. Times are good and all is well as we hold on to Him and He holds on to us.
Then the tough times come. The ground becomes uneven and our steps aren’t sure. Rocks cause us to stumble. Someone we love becomes ill. A spouse leave. A job is lost. And even though we may have been holding on as tightly as we could, we would hit the ground if God weren’t holding onto us.
This is the promise we have in Christ: nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. His grip is strong, and nothing that this life throws our way can ever make Him let go.
WOW! What an awesome God we serve. I’m so thankful that He has a grip on me.
May 3rd, 2017
His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
If you walk down the sidewalk to my front door in Manoa, a tree blooms at the edge. The flowers are a beautiful deep pink, and I imagine them blooming ever prettier each year. A stranger passing by might consider it to be a lovely crepe myrtle.
I’ve been told it was planted in memory of a certain young lady named Lily. What was meant simply to be a memorial, however, has turned into a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. No matter how strong the rains are, or hot the sun bears down, the tree blooms. When it started to overtake the sidewalk, my roommate pruned it back the first week I arrived. I thought perhaps he had cut too much, but 6 weeks later it bloomed even lovelier than it had when I first arrived to admire it.
When God calls me to leave next month, I’ll walk past the lily tree one final time and remember the infernal heat, but also all the beauty that graced my time in Hawaii. And I’ll be able to enjoy this photo of that tree in all of its beautiful pink glory, and I’ll be reminded that God is forever faithful.
The next time you’re out driving around or taking a walk admiring someone’s lovely landscaping, stop for a moment and take it all in. You might be admiring a flowering tree planted as a memorial, and I pray it reminds you of God’s love for you.
April 26th, 2017
In the morning Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
Mom taught us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Baba thought so too, getting up at 3am to start the biscuits, and it’s a fact I try to teach my patients. Whether you prefer something quick, or a full sit down breakfast, most people know that eating a healthy meal in the morning gives the body needed nutrients and energy. But if that’s the case, why do so many skip it? Or eat rice for breakfast? We deny our bodies what they need, and then we wonder why we’re drained and unable to focus later in the day.
Spending time with the Lord in the morning is like breakfast for our spirits. Not knowing what a day may hold, it’s important to begin the day with our focus on things eternal. No law or commandment says that believers must have morning prayer. However, the example is set throughout scripture. Job rose early each morning to pray for his children. David sought God in the morning. And Jesus got up very early to pray.
As believers, we need to start our day with full bellies and full spirits. Taking time to connect with God in the morning sets our priorities for the rest of the day and prepares us for whatever may come our way.
If you’ve ever been running late and though, “I’ll grab a bite to eat later,” you know that doesn’t always happen. You end up filling up with the wrong choices because you’re starving. Spending time with God can go the same way. If you think, “Oh, I’ll do that a little later,” it may not happen at all and the enemy will put other things in your path.
We have to make the decision to start our day off right, filling our bellies and our spirits before rushing off to face what the day has in store. Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I exude You for the rest of the day. Amen.
April 19th, 2017
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
Holiday meals are special times when our family members are intentional about gathering together around the table. (Be there or risk being out of the will!) This Easter everyone was there making for 20 at dinner, with an honorary pineapple sitting in for me. Everyone enjoyed plentiful amounts of food and sweet fellowship. I was able to call in to enjoy Easter conversation and laughter, but sadly for me joining in long distance: no leftovers! When the meal was finished and all the dishes put into Tupperware and put in the refrigerator, everyone retires to the yard to play while insisting they won’t be able to eat for days.
Later that evening however, one of us pulls out the desserts. The ham gets nibbled on and a piece of cake and another roll are eaten, as folks are still happy with the day’s offerings. But by today, the meat is a little dry, the deviled eggs are long gone and the pickled eggs have shriveled up in a most unappetizing way. It isn’t quite as satisfying. The leftovers have overstayed their welcome.
Sometimes, don’t we treat our spiritual lives the same way? We attend worship on Sunday morning, filling ourselves on music and preaching, and we leave the church building feeling full and satisfied. Perhaps it even seems as if we’ve been fed enough to last the whole week.
The example Jesus set, however, was not a once-a-week trip to a spiritual buffet. Christ worshiped in the synagogue, but He also consistently spend time with God alone, filling Himself with the things of God and encouraging us to do the same. Leftovers are simply not as satisfying.
Awaken your hunger for His Word like you do for your secret indulgences.
Mom’s strawberry layer cake doesn’t last long enough to become a “leftover”
April 5th, 2017
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19
There are different levels of cleaning the home. There’s the kind of cleaning you do on a regular basis: wash the dishes, mop the floors, do the laundry, and makes the beds. Maybe rewash the laundry that sat in the machine overnight. Then there’s the quick cleaning you do for unexpected company: shoving toys into closets, light a candle, and close all the bedroom doors!
During certain times of year, however, cleaning takes on a whole new meaning. There’s no specific date on the calendar for this chore – you just wake up one morning and you know it’s spring cleaning time. It’s time to begin to deal with all those tasks that you’ve been ignoring (or just unable to do) over the winter months.
During this deep cleaning, ceiling fans are finally dusted, curtains are taken down and laundered, carpets cleaned and the windows are opened to allow the breeze to blow through the house. Closets get reorganized and furniture gets re-arranged. Long-neglected tasks are completed and the entire home seems fresh and new.
When it comes to our spiritual lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day kind of cleaning. We do just what is necessary for the immediate maintenance of our faith. If we aren’t careful we might let some tasks go undone. Dust bunnies begin to accumulate. Before we know it, we need spiritual spring cleaning.
We must seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal any sin that may be making itself at home in our hearts. When it’s revealed, we can repent and turn from it. Then God is able to make our spirits fresh and new again. Open the doors to your heart and let God’s refreshing breeze blow in.
March 29th, 2017
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. Luke 8:9
Many tours and cruises to Hawaii include a luau. People like the idea of going to the beach, it’s a real treat at dinnertime complete with entertainment. Tour organizers will if the visitor likes poi, and maybe because nobody wants to look foolish or insult anyone’s culture, many enthusiastically assure the organizer they love it.
As tourists arrives for the luau after a full day of sightseeing, they are greeted by the smell of roast pig and poi. They are ushered in according to the tour group and that’s when they get their first glimpse of poi. Bowls of purple that look like they should taste like berry puree, but instead taste like paste.
Sometimes a person needs a little clarification. In Luke 8 Jesus told a parable about a sower and some seeds, soil, and thorns. The disciples just couldn’t make sense of it. So, instead of assuming they knew the meaning or pretending to understand, they asked Him to clarify. Jesus then explained, in great detail, what He meant by each part of the parable.
God doesn’t expect us to understand everything. His ways are far higher than ours. It’s okay to admit that we don’t understand something or to ask, for more detail. It’s oaky to ask, “What do you mean by poi?” Otherwise you may find yourself looking at a dinner that tastes like paste. It pays to admit when we just aren’t sure about something.
March 22nd, 2017
It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day. Isaiah 4:6
Here in Hawaii, like I witnessed in Florida, there are two types of people. The first are those who love to bake themselves in the sun and somehow enjoy it. Sweat and leathery skin brings them joy. The stifling air doesn’t seem to both them. Their ability to withstand the heat is baffling at best.
Then there are the rest of us. I fall into this category, even while surrounded by Hawaii’s beauty the sun keeps me inside. We’re the ones who check the temperature and the humidity before ever stepping foot outside, sunscreen and sunglasses in hand. We can endure a summer day as long as we have a glass of iced tea in hand and a shady place to sit. Because, let’s face it, shade makes the sun bearable. Air conditioning would be even better. When Isaiah described what life would be like for God’s people when the Messiah appeared, he used the imagery of shade during the heat of the day. When summer is at its hottest, and you think you can’t last another moment in the sun, it’s amazing what a little shade will do. Without changing anything in terms of the sun’s heat or brightness, a little shade enables a person to endure the heat for just a little bit longer.
Jesus is shade on a hot summer day for believers. When life seems to be overwhelming or unbearable a little time with Jesus can give us the needed strength to make it through the day. Though our circumstances may not change. His presence brings much needed relief from the heat of the moment. When we sit in His shade, we are refreshed before heading back out into the heat of the day.
Thank you for being my shade and my place of refreshment. And please, send air conditioning.
March 15th, 2017
Except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord! Deuteronomy 1:36
I’m not a mother, however I have heard friends of mine that are exclaim, “Mother’s aren’t perfect!” All of us mess up from time to time, including mothers. Some spend too much time tidying up messes that will reappear. Others not enough time enjoying moments that will never come again. Maybe we are too quick to tell the kids to go play instead of asking them to come and sit. Everyone can easily get caught up in the to-do list of motherhood. Feed the baby. Change the baby. Fold the laundry. Make dinner.
There’s one area though, where parents can’t allow themselves to fail. Parents, and families, must be completely committed to God and faithful in their walk with Him. Nobody’s perfect and never will be, but we can all be faithful. Falling short in this area could cause future generations – our kids, nieces, nephews and grandchildren – to suffer.
In Deuteronomy, Caleb’s generation was called an evil generation. What was it that stopped this evil generation from seeing the promised land? They chose fear over faith, being timid over trust. They focused on what they cold see and touch instead of what God promised. And they paid dearly for it.
We must all choose faith, and we must choose to trust the promises of God. We must choose these things for ourselves because we are desperate for God’s presence in our children because we are desperate to see His promises fulfilled in them.
March 8th, 2017
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” Matthew 6:6
It’s hot. Mom hasn’t heard me say that since I lived in Florida. Now I’m in Hawaii and it’s hot when I leave work. Today I’m dreaming of a large jar of tea sitting in the sun on Mom’s porch just waiting for a tall glass of ice cubes. A quick Google search would reveal sites that list twelve steps for making perfect sun tea. Twelve! You know what Mom needed to make sun tea? Sun, water, and tea bags. That’s it. I think we sometimes try to make things more complicated then they need to be.
Prayer has become the same way. Type the words “how to pray” into Google and you’ll get more than 180 million results. You’ll find articles and books to study, suggestions of classes to take, and more how-to blog posts than anyone could find time to read. A person could spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to pray and never get around to actually praying!
The disciples who followed Jesus during His ministry witnessed His devotion to prayer as He regularly retreated to privately talk to God. When Jesus instructed His disciples on the practice of prayer, He didn’t teach them a poem. He didn’t list seven ways to get closer to God. What He modeled wasn’t complicated. “Go to your room. Shut the door. Pray.”
Prayer is unhurried. It’s uncomplicated. Kind of like a nice, tall glass of sun tea.
February 22nd, 2017
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant to all.” Mark 9:35
We all want to do the BIG things for God, don’t we? We watch people go from obscurity to going viral after a Facebook video, and we think that’s what it looks like to be used by God. We hear of someone living among the poor, and suddenly our daily sacrifices don’t feel so impressive. Sometimes it seems as if everyone else is doing BIGGER things for God.
We might be tempted to view our day-to-day tasks as mundane. Or we might analyze our responsibilities and deem some of them holy and some of them boring. If we listen to the world, we’ll begin to believe that the little acts of service don’t matter and that everyone else is living a more glamorous life than we are.
The fact is, there are moments when we must wash the dishes, bath our children, and clean up whatever mess spilled on the floor. Those are the moments that our life might feel menial. But sometimes ministry is in the mess. And sacredness is in the serving.
We live in a culture of competition; that appears to only respect first place. Whether is a sporting event, a black Friday shopping line, or an airline boarding pass, we like to be in front and we’ll Tweet about being first. Even if you don’t Tweet, don’t we all want just a little of the spotlight for ourselves sometimes? The problem comes when these feelings of entitlement carry over into other areas of our lives. Perhaps we’re only happy to serve if we get “Likes” for doing so. But that isn’t service at all. True servanthood begins in the heart. And we must decide if we want glamour for ourselves or glory for the Lord.
Lord, teach me humility, and give me a servant’s heart.
February 15th, 2017
Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. Acts 2:44
When some people being compiling their “must-haves” for a dream home, many add a white picket fence. For my family, it’s because they have dogs and a small child who need a safe place to run. But for some, the fence reflects a desire for privacy. Fences allow us to live among people while still controlling how often we must interact with them.
A fence is a way of saying, “I’m responsible for this, and you’re responsible for that.” Think about it – fences separate people. It might be a cheap chain link or fancy wrought iron, but the purpose of a fence is still to delineate where you end and your neighbor begins.
Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the concept of fencing off one’s personal property. They held everything in common. They would sell of their possessions and compiled the money when needs arose. They lived as a community in the purest sense of the word. Though they lived in separate homes, they lived life together.
I’m not suggesting you do away with your fence. After all, nothing makes loving your neighbor more difficult than when the neighbors cow rips through your garden. Sometimes fences are handy! However, as Christian, we aren’t meant to live in isolation. We’re charged to be concerned with the well-being of our neighbors, seeking ways to serve them and love them.
Wouldn’t it be good getting to know the people on the other side of the fence?
February 8th, 2017
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you shall know them. Matthew 7:15-16
Whether you are a farmer tending your crops in Minnesota, a family planning a Sunday drive, or a parent who desperately wants her kids to play outside, people who care about the weather watch the clouds. Some clouds mean pleasant weather, while others indicate an impending storm such as the clouds heading east over the Plains yesterday. It’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs of a coming storm.
Jesus warned that there would be false prophets. There will be those who pretend to be His, but, in reality they aren’t. How are we supposed to be able to distinguish the true prophets from the false ones? We have to be able to recognize the warning signs.
Those who follow Christ have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control. When someone exhibits these qualities, it’s evidence that they’re walking in the Spirit. Likewise, we can observe the when the “fruit” is not being produced.
Much as clouds warn of a coming snow storm. Scripture gives clear warnings against a variety of dangers Christians will encounter. Proverbs warns against gossip, lying, and many other activities that the media plays up. Jesus’ parables warn against being disobedient and ill prepared. Warnings are everywhere. It doesn’t take a meteorologist to recognize the need to take cover from a storm cloud, and you don’t have to be a seminary graduate to recognize the fruit of a false prophet.
These are trying times and we all need to keep our eyes open to warning signs around us. All we need to do is open His Word. Thank you Lord!