Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ageless Light

Book Drawing: Leave a comment at here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for an May 31st book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.


As one ages, there are benefits and drawbacks. Of course, one of the minuses is that bodies don’t look or work like they used to. Aging author Patsy Clairmont said younger friend Anita Renfro saw a bumper sticker on an old jalopy. She recommended that Patsy have a T-shirt made up with the same slogan: Honk if any parts fall off.

Art Linkletter, a TV host from yesteryears, said he asked a 100 year old woman the greatest advantage of aging. Her answer, “Not as much peer pressure.”

For me, one of the pluses of aging is longtime relationships with God and friends, folks who have known God a long time. If the ages were added together from the super senior Bible class I attend, there’d be several thousand years of wisdom and rubbing shoulders with God.

Pat S., a longtime friend (take notice, I didn’t say “old” friend) and I chatted about a favorite scripture of hers from Psalm 18. David wrote, “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great” (35).

This Psalm with 50 verses is full of David’s glimpses of God. A notation about the Psalm tells that David sang the 50 stanza praise to God whenever God rescued him from his enemies. The first words in the song, “I love you, O LORD, my strength.”

Throughout the psalm, David’s timbre reflects God’s protection. God is referred to in metaphorical terms as a shield and stronghold, and he is portrayed as parting the heavens, coming down, and holding his children steady so that “ankles do not turn” (36).

David also depicts God as a designer of spacious places on earth—stretches of life, eases of mind without big stresses. I’ve been there—from oasis moments to days and weeks when peace reigns.

I aged numerically this week. When my dad phoned on my birthday, he reminded me that the hospital and doctor bill to get me into the world was only $90.00. I guess that pretty well dates me. I am antiquish.

Age drove over and left tread marks, and I’ve learned a few things. Crows feet don’t hurt. Spandex is good for saggy parts. Longtime friends are good for sagging spirits. Prune juice isn’t all that bad, and temper tantrums can happen at any age.

In Psalm 18, David also acknowledged God as a personal light source. “You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning.” Even though I don’t feel old, the mirror reflects the truth. The foundation and façade just aren’t what they used to be. I really don’t mind this spacious place of growing older—just as long as God keeps stooping to earth, trimming the wick and shining through.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Song Prayers-May 23

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for a May book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.


Have you ever had one of those weeks when you heard from many friends who had sudden problems in health, circumstances or family? This week was one of those. Through the prayer requests, I learned a different way to pray and remember others.

When aiding another with comfort, I like to pass along a word from the Bible—some truth or faith builder that will give them confidence in God’s care. This week, the two scriptures that came to mind were Numbers 6:24-26 and Zephaniah 3:17.

In the book of Numbers there is a well known blessing given by God to the Hebrew priests, who in turn pronounced the same over the Israelites: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

God said the blessing would net big results, “So, they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (vs. 27).

The other blessing was spoken by Prophet Zephaniah, who said to a discouraged people, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17).

In the past, songwriters adapted both of these scriptures into lyrics and set them to music. Have you experienced hearing a tune and then it stuck in your mind for days? That’s what I found happening with the two songs based on Numbers and Zephaniah scriptures.

When those recurring melodies surfaced while driving or sweeping, they became reminders to pray. While running errands or doing chores, I hummed the blessings or sang them aloud. The frequenting melodies triggered thoughts toward my needy friends, some in dire needs, both physical and spiritual.

Keeping other’s prayer requests in mind is sometimes difficult. Most of us have multiple incoming attention-stealers—cell phones, pagers, email, regular mail, 24 hour news. Or we may have health issues, long work hours, or stresses that drain our outward charitable thoughts. All of these can detract and derail good prayer intentions for others.

This week I still prayed in my usual ways, but some of my prayers were sung, asking God to bless Lynne, Brenda, Roland, Eric, Kristi, Leslie and others. I envision those prayers more like a pitch pipe, a starting note that prompted God, the real healer, the real singer to quiet these folks with his love.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for an May book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.


In early April I presented at a women’s renewal for a church in Tennessee. My daughter accompanied me and the hosting women showed Smokey-mountain hospitality the entire weekend. The program included a question and answer session with me fielding the questions.

One of the questions revolved around the work of men in the church and how to inspire more men to be passionate about the cause of Christ, to step up to leadership in homes, community and church. My immediate response was inadequate. Actually it wasn’t much of a response, but more of a deferment.

If you’ve ever presented or taught an adult Bible class, you may have wrangled with afterthoughts of, Oh; I should have said this or that. Later contemplation and study usually reveals better answers.

After some thought, I recalled wise guidance given to me years ago about spiritual growth, whether men or women. As participants in the body of Christ, the church, we can encourage and teach, but true growth in Christ comes from the gardener Jesus, the vine keeper.

After he left earth, he sent the Comforter to the earth, the Holy Sprit. Some of the best advice to families, husbands, wives, or singles is that we cannot be the Holy Spirit to those around us.

No amount of nagging, coercion, whining or bribing will produce a godly person. Beside, it’s not God’s way. God helps us desire a closer relationship to him. As he loves us, and we experience that love, we long to know more about God and become his son or daughter. He sent Jesus to earth as a human so that we could actually “see” God interacting, loving his neighbors.

We all have flaws and worthy qualities. In any relationship where one person longs for the maturity of another, the very best thing that person can do is ask God to become a personal tutor. Someone said it this way, “It is a far better thing to talk to God about a man, than to talk to a man about God.”

James expressed it this way, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (5:16, The Message).

Before we pray for the remaking of another, we also confess our shortcomings and ask for guidance, looking for knotty beamed lumber in our lives before we whisk broom sawdust out of someone else’s life.

What kind of relationships would be fostered if James’ words took root and flourished in each life? Families, businesses, schools, governments, each man and each woman could harvest bushel baskets of wholeness and healing.

Want to inspire someone to reach higher? Depend on Jesus and the Holy Spirit to intervene. Confess, share, ask forgiveness, pray for the other person and expect good returns on your prayer-planting.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for a May book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

One of the bravest women mentioned in the Old Testament is the Hebrew mother of Moses, Jochebed. She lived under cruel taskmasters, her people enslaved for hundreds of years. When the slaves’ numbers grew, Egyptian officials feared that the slaves might join enemy forces and cause an uprising.

On the sly, Pharaoh wanted the Hebrew midwives to kill any male child at delivery. But the women feared God more than the king’s edict and refused. When questioned about their disobedience, they reported the vigorous Hebrew women had delivered by the time they reached the woman in labor.

Those midwives, who feared Jehovah and guided new life into the world, could not smother newly sanctioned breaths. So, the ruling dynasty gave an order to all his people, “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile” (Exodus 1:22).

In those mean circumstances, Jochebed, whose name means “Jehovah-glorified,” delivered a son. Did her heart pound with fear when she delivered a son? Had she plotted to spare this baby? Did she expect the worse?

By the time Moses reached three months old, his mother had finalized her plans. She built a mini ark, made of papyrus reeds, coated inside and out with tar and pitch. By then, she had reached the limits of her protection.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) says that often when “men are projecting ruin . . . God is preparing . . . salvation.”

The minute a child is born, a mother is born, too. All types of mothers have rocked cradles, the good, the bad, and the worse. But there’s nothing more heartwarming than a wholesome bond between mother and child. Sweetness exists in that relationship like no other.

No doubt Jochebed’s first few months with Moses were bittersweet. And one day, preparations made, Jochebed chose to place her infant son in the reeds near the bank of the Nile, post big sister Miriam as guard, and trust God to have a plan for a river, a floating bassinet and a beloved infant.

Some mothers will be able to embrace their children this Mother’s Day. Other women are separated by miles, while some mothers are separated by rifts. Moms, if you have a good relationship with your children, cherish the blessing.

If your relationship is strained, pray over them and, like Jochebed, place them in God’s hands — it may be time to put them in the boat. Remember, sometimes when we project ruin, God is planning salvation.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Under the Thorns

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for a May book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup. The April winner is Wanda D/Texas.

Under the Thorns

If you live in the south and you hurry, you might find enough tasty wild dewberries to make pies or jams. For folk higher above sea level, who read this in other venues, you have a few weeks before the native berries in your areas ripen. I almost filled a two quart pail this morning and plan to berry pick again before the day is over.

My simple equipment is a light bucket, thin cotton gloves and a big stick. The “shoo” stick is just in case I see a snake because I’ve encountered them curled under vines when I poked my hand into their resting places.

I’m fascinated that under dense leaves and prickly thorns – the sweetest, most plump berries are found. Thorns and sweet berries don’t seem to complement each other, but maybe they do.

Job is a classic Bible example of hardship and healing. In domino-falling catastrophes, he lost his children, servants, possessions, position of honor, and his health.

In desperation, his wife asked, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (2:9). I have great sympathy for Mrs. Job because everything Job lost, she lost, too. While enduring the unimaginable pain of all her children passing, she also watched as illness caused her husband to become a living skeleton.

Then their friends pounced, accusing this godly man of committing some grave wrong. They assumed that a fate-gavel had sentenced him justly, but readers of Job’s whole story get to lift the leaves and thorny stems and find the hidden berries.

We know the beginning of the story when God allowed Job’s losses, and that scene somewhat explains “why” all the thorns. Also, we know Job’s epilogue, how God cast extreme kindness on every facet of Job and his wife’s later lives.

The text reveals that Job survived the pain with his faith in tact. Did Job have any idea how his story would traverse time in oral stories and finally in print, encouraging trillions-plus through the biblical narrative?

I certainly don’t long for spiritual growth diploma-ed from the school of trials, but I’ve experienced enough mild suffering to know that a bitter experience can teach lessons that mountains of candy-coated moments cannot.

In chapters 38-41, God asks Job many rhetorical questions, questions that reveal God’s creative hand and sovereignty. I adore Job’s response at the end of God’s recital, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5-6).

After the thorny events of life almost killed him, God came near revealing himself to Job. God didn’t waste Job’s pain. Through Job’s suffering and intimate moments with God, he learned and we learn that God is always the sweetest find of all.