Taking a Big Gulp

Do you remember the 32 oz Big Gulp from 7-Eleven?  It was a catchy name and probably helped put 7-Eleven stores “on the map”!  43 years later, it’s still going strong. 

Kara Neilson, a marketing firm director had this to say about it:

“The Big Gulp represents a point where something changed in a radical way…” *

I don’t want to talk about soft drinks today or convenience stores, but I do want to share an “ah-ha” moment I had while reading in Isaiah this morning. 

To this one I will look [graciously], to him who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who [reverently] trembles at My word and honors My commands.” ~ Isa. 66:2b Amp.

Today was certainly not the first time I have read the admonition to “tremble”.  When you serve the awesome God we serve, it’s a given!  But the verse in Isaiah caused me to stop and think.

There are certain things I do “for the Lord” that are a pleasure.  They fall within my comfort zone and require effort, but certainly do not cause me to tremble. 

But then… there are things that the Lord has asked me to do that bring me to my knees and fill me with fear.  In other words, it makes me GULP!  And there has been a time or two, the direction God wanted me to take made me take a BIG GULP!  (And I’m not talking about sipping a soft drink!)

   Me: Really God?? You want me to do THAT?  But my life will “change in a radical way!”

   God: Yep, it will.  And what’s wrong with that?

No wonder wholeheartedly following God’s will for our lives takes Courage! 

Here’s a thought: If it doesn’t cause you to gulp, it may not be from God. 


Leave the Past Behind

      Do ever laugh at yourself?  I sure do!  For example: I always rinse my cup with hot water before adding the coffee so the cold cup will not steal the heat and make the coffee lukewarm before its time.  So, this morning, I am standing there waiting and waiting for the water in the faucet to heat up.  It is taking forever!!  (Here comes the funny part…)  Due to the fact that I was not paying attention to what I was doing, the faucet was in the cold-water position!  I could’ve stood there all day and not warmed up my cup!  Talk about futile!

     Which leads me to the title of this writing…  It is just as crazy to try to warm a cup with cold water as it is to live in the past.  Once it’s over, it’s over and we need to move on. 

     “Now listen, daughter, pay attention, and forget about your past.  Put behind you every attachment to the familiar…” ~ Psalm 45:10 tPt 

     Speaking of “the familiar”, we are all familiar with advice on leaving the past behind and not becoming trapped again in the things that had us bound; and I whole-heartedly agree.  But now, at this stage of my life, I can also see another application.  We must not allow ourselves to become trapped in the good things of the past either.  Silken cords of former achievements can bind just as much as the ball and chain of failures. 

     Life is not about hanging on to the past.  It is about moving forward in the present. 

     No matter what happened in the past, whether wonderful or woeful, God wants us to live in the now. 

Respect the past; cherish the lessons learned and the wonderful friends made along the way.  Just don’t get stuck there. 


Happy Father’s Day (in Oct.)

Have you ever read a sentence that stopped you in your tracks? This one made me slow down and do a double-take:

Sometimes we say that God has taken our name “father” in order to teach us what He is. That is not a correct statement. God has lent us His name “Father” in order to teach us what we ought to be.” ~ G, Campbell Morgan

Although Father’s Day is celebrated in June, I am much more aware of fatherhood during the month of October. This is the month the father of my children was born (10.01); it’s the month my son became a father for the second time (10.11); and it’s the month that my earthly father won his long battle with Alzheimer’s and made it Home (10.22).

This month reminds me that earthly fathers have been given a tremendous responsibility – the responsibility to model the One from whom creation and the family sprang. Although my husband and my son are not perfect, they love and serve a perfect Father-God, as did my Dad. Sure they all have made mistakes and “fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), but they also understand that “to be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1) requires growing in knowledge of who He is and living out that knowledge day by day.

When children see a father who loves unconditionally (John 3:16) but also disciplines in love (Heb. 12:6) …

When they observe a man who is willing to lay down his life for his wife (Eph. 5:25) yet live to serve in love (Gal. 5:13) …

When they understand that Dad works to provide the things they need (1 Tim. 5:8) setting an example for his sons and daughters to follow (1 Cor. 11:1), then they will have less trouble embracing the Father above.

With thanks to all the special men in my life who made/make it easy to believe…

I Think I Heard A Noise

Several years ago, David was out of town and I was home alone.  Please understand – I am not a “scaredy-cat”, but I must admit that I don’t relish being alone at night.  That particular night, I was in bed reading with ear plugs squashed in my ears and the sound of rain and thunder resonating throughout the room (thanks to a “Sounds of Nature” CD). 

Then came the dreaded thought, “Did I hear a noise??”  I took out one of my ear plugs… sure enough someone was pounding on the door. 

BE STILL MY SOUL!!  Who is it?  What is going on?

I crept downstairs, and peeked outside… Whew! Relief! It was my son-in-law, Jonathan.  David had dispatched him to check on me because he had been trying to call me but never got an answer.  (I didn’t know it, but the ringer of the phone in our bedroom had been turned off.)

I was ignorant of his calls and he was ignorant of my safety. 

Someone once said “ignorance is bliss.”  I choose to disagree.  In most cases ignorance is unproductive and can even be dangerous.  Case in point – the ignorant unbelievers of Jesus’ day.

Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?  But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” ~ John 7: 26b-27

Were their assumptions true?  Were there no clues about where the Messiah would come from? 

Uh… what about – He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1) and bring light to Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2)?   If they had only taken the time to study the Torah with open hearts, ask questions and seek to understand, they would have known the truth instead of making assumptions based on ignorance.

When it comes to the Word of God, the more we know, the better

Ignorance is not bliss.

Studying scripture and getting to know the God we serve, can mean the difference between turmoil and peace… brokenness and wholeness… life and death.

Is Someone pounding on your door?  Take out the earplugs and listen.  It may be the voice of Truth.  (Revelation 3:20)

Listening with you…

Loving the Unlovely

Is your spouse ever unlovely? … Are your children ever unlovely? …

Are your friends ever unlovely? … Are YOU ever unlovely?      

Loving the unlovely is not easy, yet this is what Jesus challenges us to do:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  ~  Matthew 25: 35-36

   Jesus is describing what society calls “the unlovely”.  And He expects us to show them love.  This includes our “unlovely” family and friends!

When our loved one is “hungry” for attention – we stop and listen;

When our loved one is “thirsting” for affection – we hold them close;

When our loved one feels like a “stranger” –  we try to understand where they are coming from;

When our loved one feels “naked” and vulnerable – we overlook their inadequacies and speak words that encourage;

When our loved one is “imprisoned” & guilty (from wrong choices) – we truly forgive and move on.

   Only as we walk in the Spirit, growing His fruit, will we be enabled to love like Jesus loved… touching the “lepers”… talking to outcasts… helping to free those bound by sin.

   Can Jesus love the unlovely through you today?


On Top of Old Smokey

The lyrics say:  On top of Old Smokey / All covered with snow / I lost my true lover / from courting too slow…

I’ve never stood on top of a mountain called Old Smokey, but I have hiked to the top of Whiteside Mountain in North Carolina many times.  My husband and I hiked it in all seasons.  Sometimes there was ice and snow on the trail; other times, the blooms of spring and summer.  One thing that did not change though – the magnificent view of the valleys and hills below.  Just a while before, we had been standing in a parking area surrounded by trees, an information board and porta-potties.  Now we were watching the hawks soar below our vantage point. 

I think about hiking to the top of a mountain every time I read Psalm 61:2 –

“I call to You when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help].”  (AMP version)

Here’s the great thing about climbing higher… your vision is no longer limited. 

Where before you were just looking at trees, and could only see a few feet ahead, now, with the new perspective of height, you can see for miles and miles. 

YES!  Lead me to the rock that is higher than where I am currently located! 

I don’t want the limited vision of my perspective.  I want to see what the Lord wants me to see; the new perspective of the unlimited vision of faith.  I want to see what can happen when God is in the equation.  I want to see the bigger picture painted by trust and obedience rather than the 4×6 snapshot of fear and doubt.  And I want to believe that God’s view includes “immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine!” (Eph. 3:20)

Yeah, you may lose a “true lover” on the top of Old Smokey, but the only thing lost by following God to the top the higher Rock is the limited views of the valley. 

I’ll trade His perspective for mine any day!


26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is the desert road.) 27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud…  The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?”… both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer. But he went on his way rejoicing. ~ Acts 8:26-28; 36, 39

   I doubt Philip understood why he was whisked away from productive work for the Lord, (a mighty revival), to find himself in the desert with one man, and a eunuch at that! 

What was God thinking? 

Uh… perhaps God was thinking that this man needed to be saved?

Future generations of Christians would be impacted because of Philip’s obedience and the Ethiopian’s salvation.  (The great early church fathers Origen and Augustine came from the church in Northern Africa.) 

Much is at stake when we sense the Spirit of God moving us to a new area of ministry, or prompting us to speak up for the Lord, or to give to those in need.  It is never for superficial reasons; no, there is always a plan and purpose at work.  Someone needs us to obey. 

Perhaps God moves us out of our “comfort-zone” to use our lives for a greater good than we could ever imagine, allowing us to impact many more people than just those in our contact list.   

Who will “go on their way rejoicing” today, because we obeyed?

You Want WHAT??

Just imagine that God shows up and offers to give you anything your heart desires.  Wowzers!!  What would you ask for?  More stuff?  Perfect health?  Happiness?

The Bible tells us of at least one person that experienced this incredible offer – the young Israelite King, Solomon.  This was his answer:

“Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead [the people of Israel] properly.” (2 Chron. 1:10 NLT)

This answer really pleased the Lord and not only did Solomon get the requested wisdom and knowledge, he also received a boatload of stuff too!  Now… consider this (on Father’s Day weekend)… What prompted a young man to give such an unusual response?  Here’s a hint:

“Now, my son (Solomon), may the Lord be with you and give you success…  And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel”  (1 Chron. 22:11-12 NLT)

Well, well.  It wasn’t an accident or freak of nature that caused Solomon to seek wisdom.  The desire that so impressed God and set Solomon up to be remembered as the wisest man who ever lived, was put in his heart by none other than his father, King David.

I don’t know if God will ever extend an unlimited offer to us… Oh, wait… Yes, He has!  He sent His son to pay the price for our salvation and along with this, the offer of much more than earthly wisdom – eternal life.

Fathers (Mothers and others), there is nothing you can give your children that is more deserving of honor than to set them up to receive eternal life later and joy unspeakable now.

That’s the best way to impress Father God.

I Am A Reader

I am a reader.  Reading is one of the joys and pleasures of my life; has been since I learned my ABC’s and will be until the day I die.

Sometimes I read things that stop me in my tracks and rock my world.

That happened to me today.

Most days, I read an article from our denominational magazine, The Evangel.  These articles are usually informative and helpful.  Today’s writing drove me to my knees.

My friend, Judy Griffis, shared an experience she had in a post-communistic country about the reality of child sex-trafficking.  While traveling in this country she learned that “there were several discreet buildings housing “human farms.”  There, young girls were taken and impregnated by force.  The babies born are afterward raised with the sole purpose of becoming child sex slaves.  They are then sent to other countries (including the United States)…  Upon further research, it has been noted that 2 million girls between the ages of 5 and 15 are introduced into the commercial sex market each year (UNFAR)…  Some stats noted that a prostituted child is forced to serve between 100 – 1500 clients per year per child.” (Evangel / May 2018 / p. 18)

Get over the “How could God allow this to happen?” mentality and embrace the fact that because He gave us free will, evil people will choose to do despicably evil things.  Now…  what will I choose to do?  What will you choose to do?

I can’t hop on a plane and jet off to a foreign city to lead a campaign against this wickedness (God hasn’t called me to do this). But I can be stirred to my core and pray like never before for these babies!

I can pray for the selfless men and women that God has called to rescue and restore these victims.

Also, the next time I am tempted to buy one more thing that I don’t really need, I can consider sending the money to Church of God World Missions “True Love for Children” Project (#1029264-005) [COGWM.org]

I didn’t ask to be born into a caring, loving Christian family in the greatest country in the world.  God in his mercy placed me into such a home.  I can ignore those less fortunate or I can thank God every day for choosing to bless me so extravagantly and, in return, find a way to be a blessing to the millions around the world with such a different story.

How about you?

Alternate Routes

Christmas – the “most wonderful time of the year”… and the most hectic!

Several years ago, I found myself driving from Fort Mill, SC to Greenville, SC for a Christmas banquet.  Knowing that I-85 can be quite challenging, I gave myself plenty of time to get there (even factoring in time for a coffee break at Starbucks). 🙂

Thankfulness welled up in my heart about 30 minutes from my destination.  Road work on the North-bound side had traffic whittled down to one lane and backed up for several miles.  (I don’t know about you, but I hate to be in that kind of situation!)

I breathed a prayer that the construction would be finished by the time I headed home the next morning… It wasn’t.  Although the construction crews were still busy several miles away, there were traffic signs warning drivers to expect delays further up the road.  They also told of an alternate route available if you wanted to avoid the worst of it.

Ah… All the people I had seen the day before could have escaped the frustration of having the interstate turn into a parking lot if they had only heeded the warnings… if they had only paid attention and adjusted their route.

As we zip along the highway of life, 2 Peter 1:19 cautions us:

“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain,                                                           and you will do well to pay attention to it,                                                                                   as to a light shining in a dark place,                                                                                             until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

May Christmas always remind us that God loved us so much He sent the “Morning Star,” shining in our dark places, to light our path and lead us to peace.

An alternate route is available…  if we will pay attention to it.

Frustration or fulfillment… the choice is ours.

May your choice lead to days both merry and bright!