Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Life

The eggs in this bird's nest are such a beautiful shade of blue, no dye could capture their delicate hue.  I was able to get this photo looking out the window of our room-over-the-garage into a nest wedged in a tall jasmine vine.  I just love this picture!

At Easter, eggs become famous!  There's the great fun of finding eggs that have been expertly hidden in bushes and tall grass, and of course, there's the chocolate Cadbury cream egg - yum!  But, what's the real significance of an egg at Easter time?

Eggs symbolize new life.  If a fertilized egg is left to hatch, in a certain number of days you have a newly born baby chick.  Without an egg, there would be no new life either in the case of chickens or human beings.  An egg is essential for new life.

Easter celebrates the resurrected life of our Saviour.  So, the way I see it, the significance of an egg is its use as a symbol of the real meaning of Easter -- representing the new life we can have when we are born again through the salvation of our risen Saviour.

Just as an egg is essential to physical life, so salvation in the resurrected Saviour is essential to spiritual life.  You can't have one without the other in either case.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except by me" John 14:6

Monday, March 25, 2013


I took this photo of two porcupines at the zoo in Baltimore.  It's not as clear as I'd like, but the glare on the glass enclosure made it difficult to get a better shot.  Nevertheless, I wanted to get a picture of a porcupine because they remind me so much of the difficult people who sometimes cross our paths in life.

Everyone comes in contact with a difficult person or two (or three or four....) during their lifetime.  In other words, we all have occasion to deal with porcupines.  The porcupine has a coat of sharp spines or quills that are released by contact with others.  Quills have backward facing barbs that are not only painful entering the skin, but cause additional pain when they are removed. 

Have you come into contact with a barbed quill lately?

What do you do when a porcupine crosses your path?  What if you frequently come in contact with that porcupine?  The Apostle Paul came into contact with numerous porcupines.  In Romans 12:18, he says, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" -- and I might add -- all women and all porcupines.

I know -- that's easier said than done with some people.  But, how about a nice suit of armor to protect against those painful barbed quills?  Paul tells the Ephesians, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil [or barbed quills] comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

There are numerous reasons that people behave like porcupines.  In most cases, their own inner issues are causing the problem.  "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart..." Matthew 15:18.  The person who has poison in her heart tends to speak poison with her lips.

David, who we must always remember was pronounced as "a man after God's own heart," Acts 13:22, had his share of porcupine encounters.  A particular barbed quill in the flesh for David was King Saul.  King Saul might as well have been a porcupine wearing a crown.  He chased David, wrongly accused him and even tried to kill him many times.  Yet, David never did battle with the king, saying "...may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, 'From evildoers come evil deeds, so my hand will not touch you' " 1 Samuel 24:12-13.

When you get right down to it, dealing with the porcupines of this world is just one more test for the Christian.  It's a way for God to strengthen our faith in Him and also to show forth our stand in God as a witness to His glory.   And who knows but what our continued kindness toward a porcupine might help that person morph into a kinder creature herself.

Here are two verses to help encourage you in your next struggle with a porcupine who crosses your path:  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord..." Hebrews 12:14 - and - "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" Matthew 5:9.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I recently received this old clock as part of my inheritance from my Mother's estate.  She had purchased the clock over 60 years ago from her uncle, who had had the clock for many years himself.  The clock is handsome and, no pun intended, has stood the test of time well.
Hearing the clock's pendulum tick back and forth with the seconds is a vivid reminder of the swift passage of time.  When chimes sound at the end of each hour, I'm reminded that an entire hour has just passed.  With 24 hours in each of our days, if we live to be 80 years old (which is no guarantee), we will have gone through 700,800 of them.  That might sound like a lot, but when I consider that at that rate, I only have 122,000 hours left, it doesn't sound like so much.  I think -- I better get busy using those remaining hours wisely.
Time is a fascinating subject.  I am so thankful that God is the great Controller of Time.  Of course, He Himself is timeless and lives in the realm called "eternity."  Although we can't fully understand the concept, He actually lives in the past, present and future all at once, because Time is not an issue with Him.
We, on the other hand, are constrained by Time every minute of every day as long as we live on this earth.  Everything within us is aware of the steady passing of Time -- the rhytmn of the earth, the seasons, our aging bodies -- all seek to imprison us in Time.  Yet - there is another dimension just beyond the fabric of our vision.  It is a dimension that is solid and real and timeless -- it's the eternity that God inhabits.
When we are within God's will, Time will pass for us at just the right pace.  When we are living in our own strength, Time zips by at an alarming rate - or, for some -- crawls by at a snail's pace.
So - the key to using the Time God has given us wisely, is to seek His path and His will throughout each day.  Then, God will give us just the right amount of Time we need to finish the work He created for us to do, and we can say as Jesus said in John 17:4:  "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

...Yet I Will Rejoice in Thee!

I'm intrigued by crumbling buildings.  I know this place once had a life and there's history still lodged within its frame -- I just wonder what once went on within its walls.  I saw this particular ruin in the Mohave Desert in the once thriving desert town of Kelso, California. 

I'm using this photo to represent desolation and ruin and offer a picture of sorts for a message in Habakkuk.  These verses appear as the theme for the latest book I'm writing, called, "Ordinary Women Experience Extraordinary God."  This is taken from the book's first section:

I was reading through the book of Habakkuk one day when I discovered one of scriptures hidden gems.  I refer to it as "hidden," because I don't remember ever seeing or hearing about this verse and Habakkuk is not exactly a frequently-quoted book.  As soon as I read this passage, I was stunned by its powerful message. 
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines;
though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food;
though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls
-- yet --
I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
and He will make me walk on my high hills" 3:17-19
Bad things happen to good people every day of every week.  We know this, but it's still a hard truth to accept when blows seem to come one after another with increasing frequency -- yet -- that word right there in the middle of a verse that begins with a litany of sorrowful events changes everything and ends with amazing joyful hallelujahs and glorifying of our great God.
This then is what God desires from His children -- to praise Him in spite of our circumstances.  It's easy to praise God when things are good, but when dark times come and we still raise our voices in praise, that's when the greatest victory is won.  That's where the true power of God and testimony of a Christian is seen by the world -- and by Satan and his cohorts as well.  That's when the light of God shines through the darkness and fills the trusting heart with hope.  And, that's when God is truly praised for Who He is and not for what He's done for us. 
 How amazing when we can say - in spite of all the difficulty surrounding us  - "...yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" Habakkuk 3:18.   

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I just love this photo of my granddaughter Marisa standing in front of this grand painting by Thomas Cole that hangs in the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk.  Marisa was an obedient little girl that day, frequently clasping her hands behind her back (as her mother suggested) so that she would not be tempted to touch any of the valuable works of art.

This reminds me of how we should seek to avoid those things which would tempt us, lest we succumb to those temptations.  It is much harder for me to say "No" to Lay's potato chips when my husband brings the bag over to the couch to munch in front of the TV, than if that same bag is safely tucked under the cabinet and out of sight (and out of my smell-zone).  Often, I groan inwardly as I grab a handful of chips from his bag and stuff them into my mouth, knowing they are unhealthy for both my cholesterol and my waistline.  Those are the times I wish I'd just clasped my hands behind my back and said "no" to the temptation.

James 1:14-15 tells us, "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin..." 

I may be tempted by something you have no problem with at all, while you may be tempted with something that holds no interest for me.  Still, we all live with temptation knocking at our door day in and day out.  It's part of this sinful world in which we live.  Just remember -- you don't have to open the door!  The temptation is not the sin -- as the verse in James points out -- it's the giving into the temptation that results in sin.

The great temptor of all mankind will not hang up his gloves until the Lord forcibly removes them one day and casts him in the Lake of Fire.  Then, we can breathe a sigh of relief and rest in the assurance that we will no longer have to clasp our hands behind our back to keep from reaching out and touching the forbidden fruit.  Temptation, along with all sin, will be forever banished and we will be totally free and living at peace in our Father's presence.

But, until that day, remember the words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians (10:13), "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Needy People

This sculpture in Bend, Oregon (by Richard Beyer) shows a man who is staring despondantly into his empty wallet.  I'm trying to encourage him by placing a dollar bill inside (it didn't work).  This reminds me of what Sarah Young wrote in Jesus Calling:  "The world is a needy place; do not go there for sustenance." 

We are surrounded by people with needs -- often including our ownselves.  I sometimes begin my prayers, "Lord, you know we are such a needy people...."  Even when I seem to be doing okay, I still feel the weight of other's needs all around me.  They are never-ending and until the Lord returns, they will continue to be never-ending -- that's the nature of the beast when we live in a sinful world.

In spite of the sometimes crushing needs that surround us, God has promised to never leave us and to supply our needs and to give us peace.  Do we believe Him?  One of the things God wants most from us is our Trust.  That's often why He allows "need" in our lives to begin with -- to develop our Trust muscle, which must be exercised to grow strong.

God is also pleased when we show a caring heart to others who are in need.  After all, the second most important commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself."  Young writes as if God is speaking to us, saying, "When you find your completeness in Me, you can help other people without using them to meet your own needs.  Live in the Light of My Presence, and your light will shine brightly into the lives of others."

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  In this day in which we live, the world and society around us seem so unsettled.  It is not a place we can go for sustenance, but Jesus made another promise in John 14:27 to bless our hearts:  "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Glory to God

I think it's time for something beautiful to replace the pictures of nasty, old demons I've written about in the previous three posts.  I love capturing pictures of delicate butterflies - especially when they're perched on an equally lovely flower.  I snapped this one in Columbia, South Carolina.

I wanted a pretty picture of nature to go with the scripture I'm using today.  It's not about butterflies, but it is about our great God who created the butterfly and everything else as well.  The verses are found in Psalm 63 and they blessed my heart today.  "I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will priase you... My soul clings to you..."

These verses describe what we were created for -- to praise and glorify our Father God and He in turn will fulfill us as nothing else ever could.  They remind me of an uplifting song by a group called Avalon.  It's called, "I Can't Live a Day Without You."  The entire song is a blessing, but I'll just share a small bit of it:  "Jesus, I live because You live - You're like the air I breathe....You're the heartbeat of all I do, I can't live a day without you."  Amen!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Demon Distraction

This demon sits in the foyer of the Paris theater in Epcot at Disney World.  It's a copy of one of the gargoyles on the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  I've always thought he's kind of quirky because he's sticking his tongue out and holding his cheeks as if to tauntingly say, "Na-ne, na-ne, boo-boo."  He even pulled me in to join his playful taunt.
The demon appears to be playful (and the one at Disney is), but when it comes to appearances of real underworld creatures -- they are well-known to be deceiving.  Is Satan himself not characterized as transforming himself into "an angel of light?" 2 Corinthians 11:14.  Do not be deceived -- real demons are never playful!
I'm labeling this demon "Distraction."  Do you ever try to spend time in prayer and soon find yourself lost on a rabbit trail, wondering how on earth you got there?  Have you ever found yourself sitting in church with your mind a hundred miles away?   That would be the demon Distraction at work and doing a pretty effective job, I have to say.
We might be tempted to say, "Well, being distracted is not really a sin, is it?  And, if it is, it's really not that bad."  Guess who just tempted you to say that!  When you look at a list of sins, being distracted seems rather tame and -- let's face it -- it's something we're all guilty of doing daily (at least it seems so in my case). 
Distractions appear innocuous.  After all, we're usually distracted to do good things - like when I'm doing my Bible study, I'm sometimes distracted to put in a load of washing, then to go make up the bed, then to --- the list goes on of housework that I really do need to do and pretty soon I've given up on finishing the portion of study I was doing.  Distraction pulled me away from bigger and better things than housework, which should have waited until the Lord had completed the work He had for me during that particular time of Bible study.  This is how it goes -- all day long.  This is a far larger problem than we realize (which shows again that this demon does a very good job).
I'm borrowing from an earlier piece on Distraction, because it applies so well here.  God says in Proverbs 4:25-27:  "Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil."
Distractions, although usually innocent in themselves, can do a lot of harm to our spiritual lives.  They can keep us from seeing the bigger, better picture God wants us to see by catching our attention and causing us to concentrate on smaller, less significant objects.  Distractions can keep us from building a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father.  Christopher Columbus once said, "By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination." 
What is your spiritual goal?  Is it to know God more and better?  As our old friend Chris points out, prevail over the demon Distraction and you will arrive at that goal.  The prophet Jeremiah echoes that sentiment in 29:13-14:  "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord..." 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Demon Discouragement

Here's a sad-looking demon perched on the side of a bridge leading to the new Be My Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.  I've never understood why statues of demons are used around children or on churches as they so frequently are.  It's just another example of how Satan blinds people into seeing them as innocuous or better yet, as figments of the imagination that are quite harmless, when the exact opposite is true.
I'm using this demon statue to represent Discouragement - another negative in the arsenal of evil.  This demon looks sad and pitiful, but don't let him fool you, the real demon of Discouragement's intention is for you to be the one who is sad and pitiful.  He wants you to be the one with a downcast face and equally downcast spirits. 
The Demon Discouragement influences us when we take our eyes off God and start looking at what's going on around us.   Sometimes, all I have to do is read the newspaper or watch the news to become sad and discouraged.  There are times I feel like I'm surrounded by sorrow.  Discouragement can be found around almost every corner and if we let it get a grip on us, our sadness can spiral into hopelessness and actually sap our energy. 
When Discouragement starts sticking his talons in your business, refuse to let him in.  Instead, use the verse in Philippians 4:8 to lift your eyes to the Lord.  Paul wrote, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report ... meditate on these things."
When you power up the positive thinking, the negatives will disappear and as verse 9 says, "...the God of peace will be with you."  Now, that's a very encouraging promise!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Demon Fear

This carving of a demon's head gave me chills when I saw it in a courtyard at the impressive Flagler mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.  There were four of these demons clinging to the four sides of a large marble fountain in the center of the courtyard.  They were surrounding the gleaming white marble statue of a beautiful, innocent-looking young woman standing in the center of the fountain.  I thought the location of these leering demons around this lovely woman was very strange and I wonder what the sculpture had in mind with such a design.

 I have a good idea what Satan has in mind when he surrounds us with leering demons in real life situations.  He wants to bring us down as far as he possibly can.  There are countless negatives he throws our way.  I'm going to cover a few of them in the next several blog posts.  Here's the first negative demons have mastered and the one I'm using this statue to represent:  FEAR.

What are some things you are afraid of?  The Demon fear is well-aware of every little fear that nibbles at your mind and heart -- and he knows how to maximize his ability to stir up your imagination.  After all, he's had a lot of practice, not only with you, but with all the thousands of generations preceding us.

Here's an example of my imagination being stirred by one of those wily evil-mongers who dug his claws into my mind:  One evening some years ago, I was driving to Wednesday night Prayer meeting when a fearful thought grabbed me (literally!).  I suddenly imagined my beloved 17-year old daughter in a horrible car wreck.  She was at that moment driving the busy interstate highway to a class in a neighboring city.  I imagined her beautiful, young body lying on the side of the road - in staggering detail.  It seemed very real and crushingly heartbreaking.  Within minutes, my heart was pounding and I was crying.  Fear had surrounded and totally invaded me.  Has anything like that ever happened to you?

What made that experience even more amazing was what happened when I walked into church a few minutes later.  I was still horribly upset and scared when I sat down in the pew.  Then, the power of the Holy Spirit swooped in and I suddenly realized what was happening -- I was under demonic attack.  I immediately prayed for God's protection and in that same moment, the Demon Fear was banished by a greater power and an immediate peace enveloped me.  It was truly amazing!  The memory of that moment of victory is still vivid and causes me to smile and praise our powerful King Jesus every time I remember it (:

The Demon Fear is very real and powerful.  On the flip side of that fearful reality is this empowering truth: “Greater is He that is within you, than he that is within the world” I John 4:4.  I always breathe a sigh of relief when I remind myself of that wonderful, positive promise.