“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV) Even in the darkest and most trying hour of our lives, God is near. Not long ago, tragedy struck Pastor Walters’ … Continue reading
When our daughter was a little girl, she would stand on the shore and wait for wave of seawater to wash over her feet and then quickly retrieve back out to sea. This was her idea of playing in the … Continue reading
“O, Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17 Discouragement is a normal emotion when we’ve experienced some sort of loss, or when we are waiting on God to do something in our lives. It may … Continue reading
At times the road before me seems long, steep and challenging. I can feel lost. Uncertain. Afraid. Sometimes I’m not sure I have the strength for the journey. Then I remember that I’m not traveling alone. God is my ever-present guide. He knows where the road leads. He can see what lies ahead. That’s not all.
God also knows my concerns. He knows what I feel. That pain that I cannot explain to someone else, God knows. The fear of the unknown—He knows. And He offers me Himself.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed today. You may be experiencing some sadness, loss or worry. You may find it difficult that God has called you to this path. “Surly,” you think, “God has an easier road for me to travel.”
The truth is we aren’t wise enough to assume that another path would be best for us. Maybe the easier road won’t make us into a better person who emulates the essence of Christ. Perhaps the difficult road is a path of grace—leading us to pure joy, peace and purpose in life. Could it be the difficult journey that enables us to be all God intends?
Out of all the possible paths, God knows the best path. Isaiah 55:9 says, “ His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.” Because of this, we can take the path God has laid out for us today. We can trust, and not fear, in His infinite wisdom and love. And we can be certain that God will never lead us down the wrong road.
During my childhood, one of my most memorable times was during the long, hot days of summer. Each evening, the neighborhood kids and I returned to the outdoors after dinner for one last game. At dusk, we would meet at the dead-end street to play “Hide and Seek.”
This was a very serious game. The goal was to hide from your seeker until it was safe to run for home base without being seen and tagged out. That is why we played under the cover of twilight. The darkness of night kept you concealed as you dashed from object to object until finally you made it to home base unseen.
Those were the good ole days when I was young enough to still enjoy the game, but old enough to play with the cleverness that it took to keep from being found.
As I recall, it was my dad who first introduced me to the game of “Hide and Seek.” Although, my father and I played the game differently than the neighborhood kids did.
When dad would hide, he would often leave clues on purpose so I could find him. Sometimes, I would spy his wiggling toes sticking out from under the living room curtains. Others times, I noticed a lampshade sitting atop a very large stand in the shape of his silhouette, or I would hear noises coming from behind the couch. For dad and I the game was not about staying hid. It was about a developing a trusting relationship.
Our reunion brought joy, laughter, and sometimes tickling. Mostly, it taught me that whenever I needed my Dad, he could always be found.
I think the same is true with our heavenly Father. Continue reading
What makes a woman beautiful? Is it her smooth skin, bright eyes, and silky hair that make her attractive to others? Or is it her inner kindness, sweet spirit, and strength that makes others want to know her? We may say that inner beauty is more important than outward beauty but do we really believe that?
The answer is found in the world in which we live. We are bombarded with perfect models that exude external beauty. TV and magazines are constantly telling us that outward beauty is what people love. And we do love it. Not only do we love it, but we desire it, too. Evidence shows that women spend millions of dollars a year on diet supplements, getting botox, having their teeth whitened, and body parts liposuction, tucked and lifted. I can’t say that these things don’t turn my head as well.
Beauty is something we all long for—even Christians. That’s because it’s a God-given desire. Yet, because we live in a broken world, we seek the good things of God in unhealthy ways. That’s why we need to know the truth so we can be set free from the bondage of grasping after something that doesn’t exists. There is no magical treatment or surgery that is going to keep our outward beauty from fading. To believe otherwise will only keep us from finding the true beauty we seek and that lies within. 1 Peter 3: 3-4 tells us, “Beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
According to Dr. Elliot Feit, any woman can be beautiful. “The key ingredient is godliness, which expresses itself in her being selfless, a good listener, kind, and caring. For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.”
Understanding the profound truth will transform any person from the inside out. Your beauty will radiate as you care for your family, volunteer at school, and sever in your church. In fact, don’t be surprised if you become the most beautiful woman in your community, because now you know. The best-kept beauty secrets lie within a gentle heart, a quiet spirit, and love for God and others.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” John 16:3
Have you ever experienced a lack of peace that kept you from moving forward? I have. My husband and I were about to purchase our first home. After viewing several houses, we finally found a perfect fit. Or so we thought.
When closing day came, I couldn’t bring myself to sign the papers. Although it was natural for us to be both excited and nervous about becoming new homeowners, I couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness. I asked to speak to my husband alone for a moment and discovered that he had the same sick feeling in his stomach as I had in mine. We decided not to move forward.
This was a wise decision. A few short months later, my husband died from a tragic accident. Continue reading
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” Philippians 4:11b (NIV)
Have you ever noticed how overextending yourself tends to bring unwanted pressure into your life? I think we tend to busy ourselves in order to gain more, find acceptance among peers, land a better position, and gain riches of all kinds. Perhaps we live under the illusion that having such riches is what makes a person complete, content, and deliriously happy. Yet, when we discover that’s not the case, we’re left feeling empty and discontent.
Recently God’s been showing me that when I constantly want more than He has given me, it reflects a heart that is discontent. What I’m saying to God is, “I’m not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more.” In wanting more, I place undo pressure on myself in an attempt to get what God hasn’t provided. Naturally, anxiety is the result when I focus on things other than God and His will for my life.
The pressure to have more and do more can lead us down paths we never intended. In our attempt to fill the vacuum of our empty souls, we discover that external luxury is only a cheap substitution for spiritual wholeness. As our key verse points out, Paul knew the secret of finding contentment. “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Take note that Paul wrote these words in a high stress situation as he sat in jail awaiting a verdict for a crime he didn’t commit. I don’t know if I could find contentment if I were in his sandals. I would probably strum my wooden cage with a rock singing pitifully, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” Finding contentment doesn’t mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it. Let me explain. Continue reading
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand;”
Isaiah 40:12a (NICV)
My family and I love to vacation at the beach. As my husband and I sit digging our toes into the warm white sand, our children play in the emerald green salt water. The massive size of the ocean always reminds me that God is bigger and more wonderful than my mind can comprehend. I’m always compelled to quote out loud Isaiah 40:12 while sitting on the beach:
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?”
What a superb reminder of God’s mighty power in the creation of the universe and galaxies. Even more amazing, He measured the span of them between His thumb and first finger. Hold those fingers up and look at their span for a moment. Now imagine God looking at the space between His thumb and first finger while saying, “I think I’ll make the universe about that big.” If that doesn’t give you a picture of just how big our wondrous God is, think about this: He poured the oceans from the palm of His hand! Oh, friend, when I gaze upon a huge body of water that could swallow me up in an instant, and I realize that God, at some moment in time, held the entire ocean in the palm of His hand, it simply blows me away!
As I consider this truth, I find myself awestruck by the greatness and glory of our God. Continue reading
1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come for outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”
The other day I came across a photo of my daughter’s first school dance. She looked like a Princess. I believe that part of the fun for her was getting dressed up for the event. Like most girls, Peyton has loved playing dress-up since she was a little girl. I have many pictures of her dressed up like a bride, a princess, or a ballerina. Peyton loved playing dress-up so much that one year on her birthday I bought her a board game called “Pretty, Pretty Princess.”
Quickly, it became her favorite game. With each turn, the player had the opportunity to put on an earring, a necklace, or a bracelet according to which card was drawn. I can still recall how cute it was watching her play with her daddy, and how fun it was to see him wearing the plastic jewelry. One time, he actually answered the front door wearing his Pretty, Pretty Princess jewels.
Looking back over the years, I’ve come to realize that Peyton is not alone. No matter how old we get as women, we still long to be as beautiful as a Princess. That desire is a God-given desire. However, since we live in a fallen world, we often use the good things of God in unhealthy ways. Continue reading