A SUMMER OF PSALMS

This portion of Scripture came to mind a few years ago when my husband and I were catching a very early flight out of Wichita.  We aren’t frequent flyers, so we’re not acquainted with all the new rules and procedures that are in place since 9/11.  I understand the need for it, but it doesn’t make me want to fly on a regular basis by any means.

For people who know the Lord, this portion of Scripture brings comfort and assurance.  I could see where some could be a little freaked out by it – but regardless of which group you’re in, you must admit…  God knows where you are – all the time.  You can’t run from Him and you certainly can’t hide from Him.

I’m thankful for God’s guidance and His strength and support, particularly as I’m getting older and my strength is not what it used to be.  I love the Lord because His way of doing things is so much more creative than any ideas I come up with…  every time!   His way is always best and He never disappoints me!  

Have you ever been trying to figure out how to resolve an issue and as you pray about it, God just reveals the perfect answer to you?  I have!  It’s a moment when you want to sing praises to Him while doing a little happy dance!  I’m so glad His hand guides me – I welcome that guidance throughout my life.  I need His wisdom, strength, and support on a daily basis!

This is so beautiful – I have to share it with you!  Speaking of doing a little happy dance:

I wish there was a way for me to move this from YouTube up to my big screen TV so I could join them and do this praise workout!  I used to find Christian workout videos here in America – but I haven’t seen any for a long time.  😦

His strength will support us!  I think there are times we doubt that, particularly when we have weak days.  So many conditions can sap us of energy, can’t they?  Regardless of how we feel, we need to know by faith that our weakness is not the end of the story.  With humility, we cry out to God, and His strength takes over…  and aren’t we thankful for it?

Lucinda Berry Hill has written a perfect poem for this Psalm:

I’m reminded of an old song by Steven Curtis Chapman.  His Strength is Perfect.  🙂

What can Christ do through you?  I don’t know, but don’t doubt that His strength is perfect when your strength is gone.  He’s amazing in our lives!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Has God given everyone at least one gift?  You know, I think we sometimes look at what God has given us and make the paralyzing mistake of comparing our gifts or talents with those of others.  That is exactly what the enemy of your soul wants you to do – he would like nothing better than to see you paralyzed, believing that somehow your gift is not good enough for God’s use – so you just sit back and let someone else serve instead.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen that.  I think it’s satan’s favorite pastime. 

Another sad scenario is when some people in the church begin to compare and pit two similarly gifted people against each other.  I’ve been in that situation and I can’t think of anything that is more hurtful and damaging to a soul – it’s what the Bible calls A STUMBLING BLOCK.  When I hear people tell me that they think I’m better at (fill in the blank) than someone else – I try to stop it in its tracks!  We’re not in the church to be playing AMERICAN IDOL – which, by the way, is a terrible name for a program (have the producers not read the Old Testament)?

Churches are filled with lost souls who have been saved and redeemed by a loving and kind Savior.  None of us deserve salvation, do we?  We’re all just trying to serve Him the best way we know how – and it’s because we love HIM – not because we’re in some church competition with anyone.  Always encourage people to use their gifts to serve.  If there are 15 pianists in your church and you think some are better than others (which, I mean – duh – there will be some better than others)… encourage each and every one of them – period.  No comparisons…  no mention of how good one is or how not so good another is – no!  God gave all 15 pianists TALENT and wants them to use that gift to further HIS kingdom.  The church needs to buy a clue and quit copying the world – stop it! 

My eyes were opened when I was part of a Southern Gospel group years ago.  We traveled as a caravan around Kansas and Oklahoma, playing concerts along the way.  I was never more unhappy and unfulfilled than I was then – it was honestly a reminder of the old BATTLE OF THE BANDS.  I just wanted to go home and play piano in my home church, where I thought the people who knew and understood me would forgive a sour note here and there.  I wasn’t cut out to perform – that’s not who God made me to be.

We serve the Lord with the best we have to give – no matter what gift He has given us.  There’s a place to serve the Lord – for all of us.  There should be room for every gift without being compared to anyone else.

I’ve said this time and again…  but I will say it again – it’s not about us anyway.  It’s about God, His grace, mercy, love and promises to us.  What we give back is our response to all that He’s done for us.  We go and tell and share because He commands that we do that.  We use the gifts from His hand to that end.  That’s what it’s about.  We teach, pray, study, and serve others with the light we’ve been given from God through Christ Jesus!

Even if you think one person is better at (fill in the blank) than another…  please don’t voice that opinion.  It’s the most hurtful thing that a person can do and is a stumbling block.  It may seem that you’re encouraging the one – which is okay – but don’t do it by discouraging the other.  I’ve been on both sides of that fence and it’s so hurtful when you’re the one who doesn’t quite have what it takes like the other person does.  People have stopped using their gifts because of that very thing.  It’s just not a good idea to compare people’s gifts.  Let’s just be thankful that people are willing to volunteer their time and share their talents.

Serve to spread the gospel in any way you can.  We don’t keep the gospel of Christ tucked safely away and say…  “Yay – I’m saved – that’s all that matters.”  The word gospel means GOOD NEWS – and it is to be shared.  If there is a way for you to share with a gift that God gave you…  then it’s what you should do!  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Carry PEACE in your pocket.  If only we’d all do that, what a difference we’d see in this ol’ world.

I’ve known so many beautiful souls.  I’ll bet you know a few of them too.  The most wonderful thing about them is, they know they aren’t beautiful souls because it is their sheer determination to be nice or good.  They are beautiful souls because of their personal relationship with Christ Jesus.  They know that He gives them the ability to be compassionate, humble, kind, meek and patient.  God is pleased when His children are obedient, and even more pleased when He gets the credit – the glory – for it.

Lucinda has posted a verse about kindness every day – as part of Lent – she’s not giving something up, rather she is giving something – kindness.  What a wonderful idea!  I like it.  I thought this one was particularly nice for today’s post.Notice what words are used…  FILL, SHOW.  You mean these attributes don’t just magically appear once we’re saved?  Does a Father just automatically offer good gifts if their children never speak to him or offer some sort of effort in a relationship?  Well…  not usually.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to ask Him for what we need to be Christ-like in our lives.  We ask for His compassion, His strength, His mercy and then we ask Him to show us where these things need to be shown the most.

I’m not righteous in myself – nobody is.  It’s all about the LORD and nothing about me.  If there’s any redeeming qualities in me – I praise Him because it’s definitely not my nature.  If I was left to my own devices, I’d probably be the least patient person in the world.  I do literally have to ask God to help me when I’m standing in a long line or feel that twinge of impatience coming over me.  Part of it is because I have so much pain when I stand for long periods of time – but some of it is just that human nature wanting to come through.  God’s the only one who can keep it under control and surround me with His way – and His way is so much better.

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  – Proverbs 3:5&6

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This is one of my favorite Proverbs because it reminds me that I serve a God who can be trusted completely.  When we lean on God and His wisdom when we need to make good choices, His power when we feel so powerless, and His goodness when we feel as though nobody in our lives is good to us, it teaches us how to fully rest in Him.

trust-for-straight-pathsGod’s promises never fail and His provision is complete.  If we need direction in life, we know God is faithful to guide us in the best direction.  He wants to help us in our daily life and keep us from harm.  We don’t know the future, but our Heavenly Father does, and wants to guide and bless our journey along the way.

While some may put confidence in physical strength, wealth, or friendships, children of God know that these things can disappear.  Acknowledge His sovereignty, His wisdom, power and goodness, being careful to praise and glorify His name.  In return, God will direct our steps.  That is how we stay safe and happy in life.

We read the phrase “my son” in the book of Proverbs.  It’s like the father offering wise advice to the son.  There are uncertainties in the young son’s future, and the father just wants to save the son from learning lessons the hard way.  Of course, the son is getting bad advice in his other ear from his worldly friends – so the dad is diligent about emphasizing the importance of making wise choices in life.

By yielding the decisions of life to God, the son is saved from heartache.  He’s encouraged to trust in God with all his heart – and give God all his heart, not withholding any area of his life from the Lord.

It’s not okay to just forsake a few things that are unwise – make good choices across the board and please your God.  He wants your whole heart.  Be humble enough to understand that you are not wise enough to be your own guide.  God cares about us and our welfare.  He knows that life is challenging sometimes, but He can be trusted to guide us in the right direction and face every challenge that comes along.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.  – Matthew 18:3-4

Do you remember being a child?  Remember learning to tie your shoes?  Remember the first time you rode your bike with your dad helping you stay balanced, even though there were still training wheels on the bike?  We are so dependent on our parents to help us every day when we’re growing up.  We’re not only innocent, but we are in need of their love and guidance every single day.

The point here is that a little child ‘knows he can’t do it’ … he needs God to do it and he actually believes He will.  – Dan Johnson, Pastor at Grace Church of Ebensburg, PA

I had the utmost confidence in my parents when I was little, so it’s easy for me to translate that security and confidence to my relationship with God through Christ Jesus.  How difficult it must be for those who did not have that loving and trusting relationship with their parents, though.  They would surely have a more challenging time as they put their trust in the Lord, not knowing that in the human realm.

I pray for those folks – that the Lord will show them how to lean on Him as they couldn’t lean on earthly parents.  God bless them as they make strides to be that child.be-that-child

Humility and dependence on God along with a real belief that God will come through with His best for us is key in developing true child-like faith.

When we trust that our God has all the answers to all the nagging questions that pop up in life, we’re well on our way to a happier and more contented Christian walk.  He really does have your back…  you just have to believe it!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.  – Proverbs 21:30

God has impressed on me to ask everyone to pray for the President elect and pray for America.  I know most of us have been doing that for a very long time, but when God gives me a job to do…  I do it.

prayGod does not care which side of the political fence you sit on – and neither do I.  We need to unite and pray as God’s children – it’s as simple as that.

On January 20th, the President elect will become the President.  He has so much work to do in his first 100 days – I certainly do not envy his position.  Let’s come together and pray for God to give him the courage, strength, humility to lean on Him, and especially wisdom to do the right thing for Americans everywhere!

Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?  – 2 Chronicles 1:1

So that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.  – Ezra 6:10

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.  They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  – Romans 13:4

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.  – Jeremiah 29:7

In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.  – Proverbs 21:1

 

Our Heavenly Father,

We humbly bow before You to ask Your blessings on our President elect, Donald Trump.  We pray that you would endow him with Your wisdom and knowledge as he makes decisions that will affect Americans everywhere.  May he execute justice for everyone equally.  We pray that You would build a hedge and surround him with angels at all times.  Keep him healthy and safe please.  Help him to stay focused and energized from above.  May he stay encouraged and positive about the direction America heads from now on.  Please help him to pursue peace and prosperity for Americans as he has promised to do.  Above all, we pray for Your perfect will to be done in our country, Lord.  May we be a blessing to You every day as we are showered with blessings every day.

We ask all of this in the precious name of Christ Jesus our Lord,

Amen.

america-on-the-rockamericas-in-his-hand

During this administration, it’s my hope and prayer that our country will turn back to God and understand that it’s HE who will make America truly great.  May He guide and direct our new President and keep him as only He can.  🙂

 

 

LUKE 10:19 ON 10/19

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 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  – Luke 10:19

I respect anyone who takes these portions of Scripture literally and handle snakes…  but in my mind, this is taken figuratively of the devil, and his principalities and powers, and all his emissaries, who, for their craft and cunning, and for their poisonous and hurtful nature and influence, may be compared to serpents and scorpions.

Serpents are poisonous and scorpions hide so well, they sort of curl up when they’re waiting for someone, and look like an egg.  The enemy of our soul is poisonous but we don’t realize he’s struck until it’s too late.  He doesn’t come along in a red cape and a tail either.  He is the best looking temptation you can imagine.  What’s more innocent looking than an egg?  I know, right?

That’s why we must claim the blood of Christ to overcome the power of the enemy…  the sneaky snake – the cleaver scorpion that will surely cause harm to us and our souls.gods-not-waiting

As Christians we sometimes think we’ve got it all figured out – and that’s when we get in trouble.  About the time we think we’ve risen above the ability to be tempted – BOOM!  We have to walk humbly with our God, remembering that our help comes from HIM and we can do nothing apart from HIM.

Christ is the Vine – we’re only branches – and we need to stay attached to the VINE or we will wither and die – we will be weak in temptation if we forget that it is our LORD Who will protect us and fight our battles.

Stay strong – but make sure you’re not strong within yourself – but strong in Jesus’ Name.  Everything good comes from Him and is unattainable without Him.  The fruits of God’s Holy Spirit are not from our own determination and willpower.  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control…  those qualities go completely against human nature.  Those are qualities that flow through us by His Spirit.  Having these fruits gives us added strength to trample snakes and scorpions in Jesus’ Name.

When we learn to forgive quickly when we get hurt, correct with God’s Word, offering a gentle nudge instead of a pop on the head, and recognize a temptation to sin, then hand it to God as soon as possible…  God will be by our side.  He will help us overcome because He is faithful and He loves us.  🙂

PROVERBS 10:8 ON 10/8

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The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.  – Proverbs 10:8

You know, the thing about  those Proverbs…  they don’t mess around.  Some portions of Scripture dilly dally around to get to the meat of the matter.  Wow – the Proverbs – not so much.  They say what they mean and they mean what they say! 

Whether your boss is wise in heart or a chattering fool…  once in a while they will criticize you about something.  Let God worry about which they are…  you just make sure you are wise in heart and know how to be accepting of corrective criticism.  😉

with-gods-wisdom-and-quick-witYou may ask, “Can you combine the wisdom you get from God with a quick wit?”  I’d ask how you couldn’t?  Maybe it’s just how God works with me, but more times than not, if I’m enduring some corrective criticism and asking God’s Spirit for help – He not only provides wisdom, but He also gives me thoughts about how to lighten the moment.  It’s very unusual to not have His wisdom and a joke or a story pop into my mind simultaneously.  dont-let-peoples-compliments-get-to-your-head-and-dont-let-their-criticism-get-your-heart-worship-quote

Is it necessary to explain what a chattering fool is – or how they can ruin???  I pray I’ve never been one, but I was young and immature at one time, so…  here’s the thing…  we are all works in progress.  God’s not done with any of us yet. 

By the same token, God loves us too much to leave us in an immature state.  He wants us to grow in our faith.  Let’s focus on the positive…  how do we become WISE IN HEART???  How do I learn to accept commands, to accept corrective criticism, to accept help given by authority to make me better?  What is that key attitude that God wants me to have as part of my armor to navigate this life?

  • PRACTICE DISCERNMENT.  I say “practice” because discernment is a part of wisdom that only comes with practice…  lots and lots of practice.  When a person in authority corrects you and you are tempted to let it hurt your heart, stop that process in its tracks – stop it right there.  Pray that God’s Holy Spirit would help you discern whether the correction is 1) necessary and 2) helpful to your future workmanship.  If God’s Spirit lets you know that it is both necessary and helpful to your future workmanship – then and only then can you accept it, learn from it – and move on.  When corrective criticism is given about your work – something you are being paid or compensated to do a certain way – and it meets this criteria…  it is not aimed at you personally.  Take notes…  do what you have to do to get it right – but don’t let the criticism set in your heart!
  • BE GRACIOUS.  We’ve all received corrective criticism – and a few of us have received the rantings of a fool who just happens to be our boss, am I right?  Regardless of whether you work for a wise person or a fool, always be gracious.  There are times to scream and cry and shout and yell at the top of your lungs.  That time is not as soon as you’ve been chewed out.  Go to the bathroom and stand in a stall or if it’s raining, go outside for a while (rain is great camo for tears).  My new go-to is a workout, followed by a shower.  Take it out on those machines…  they can take it! 
  • TOW THE LINE BETWEEN STRENGTH AND UNDERSTANDING.  God did not make you to be a door mat.  If you are unjustly called on the carpet, do what I call “the quick prayer” – you know, like, “Lord, please help me here – this isn’t right.”  He knows!  It’s amazing how quickly he answers those prayers.  He answers as quickly as you pray them.  If you work for a wise person, they can show understanding and answer any questions you may have.  If you work for a fool, it could get tricky – but God’s going to work that out for you because you asked Him to!  A foolish boss will just chatter and chatter to hear him/herself talk.  It’s frustrating.  But, when God makes your boss need to take a breath, don’t be afraid to be strong and find out more deets about the proverbial raking over said coals.  Ask nicely, but be strong, keeping a calm, even tone.
  • STAY SWEET.  Sweet words are like honey to the soul – even the soul of a foolish boss.  The wise boss will understand where you’re coming from, but the foolish boss will mistake your sweetness for weakness and assume you are afraid of people.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but in any case, stay sweet.  If you have been criticized and have prayed about it – and discern that it is unjustified, don’t lose your cool.  That wrecks your witness to your foolish boss.  Remember that God hasn’t given up on him/her.  You shouldn’t either.  The battle is the Lord’s.  Be still and let HIM fight it for you.
  • BE PRUDENT.  Once in a great while, we really do have to choose our battles very carefully in the workplace.  We need to be wise and think about consequences that follow actions.  Is X worth Y???  Again, we pray and ask God for HIS way to handle things.  When Jesus was taken before Pilate, remember how He didn’t speak, even though He was heading for a horrific beating and subsequent death on the cross?  One without wisdom just pops off without a thought of what follows.  Keep emotions in check – God’s got the big picture under control.  Sometimes it’s a matter of just taking the criticism and keeping your mouth shut.
  • EXERCISE INTELLIGENCE.  Before I explain, I want to say that intellect and common horse sense don’t even graze in the same field.  There are educated idiots running around all over the planet; however, if you are hearing corrective criticism from your boss and you actually have some knowledge about the subject at hand, it’s okay to speak up and explain why you did what you did the way you did it.  If you want God’s wisdom, it’s not always going to be intelligence that He wants you to use – but if it is, you’ll know it.
  • HUMILITY DOESN’T HURT.  If you can accept the criticism from your boss, pray about it (in your head – God hears), and be wise in your response…  add a dash of humility into the mix.  Most bosses, whether wise or foolish, come down off their high horse long enough to let a humble person know that it’s okay to be human now and then.  Again, take a note…  do what it is you need to do to keep it from happening again.  Being humble is a huge (pronounced UGE) part of acquiring God’s wisdom.

God’s wisdom in the workplace will give you true joy and satisfaction of spirit.  It’s true…  read Proverbs 16:16.  🙂

 


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

TL ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (3)On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed this:

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/fast.htm

Could you imagine a President of such moral fiber in the White House today?  How refreshing would it be to have a Commander and Chief with values and backbone instead of one who seems to want as much party as possible with no regard whatsoever for the country he represents and supposedly protects?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Hmm…  a day of fasting and humility.  You know – that’s not such a bad idea, fellow believers.  Have you seen the GOP race lately?  Have you seen the horses in that race?  I rest my case.  We need God to help us now more than ever!  This is not a political blog and never will be – but as a Christian who happens to live in America, I naturally have some interest in this election season.

When I saw 19 people running for President, I thought, “no way – this isn’t good!”  We’re still not in a good way with a two-man race and one spoiler.  I’ll let you determine which one is the spoiler – I have my own opinions on that.

If the race doesn’t narrow more, the convention could be dicey to say the least.  We’re gonna mess around and lose the general altogether – let’s pray in unity that God will smack some wisdom into the GOP candidates, and fast!  OK, maybe smack isn’t the right term.  No, wait…  it may be the perfect term.

But back to Abraham Lincoln and legislation.  A day of prayer and fasting.  The actual day is April 30th, but he signed it into law on March 30th.  It was a time when the morals and values of Christianity were not that far away from the morals and values of Americans.  What happened?  Well, people were given the gift of free will, and chose to separate themselves from Christian values and beliefs.  They began picking up their philosophies and lifestyles from other religions – or no religion at all.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had something to say about little foxes and vineyards filled with tender grapes:

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.  Song of Solomon 2:15

The King James version says “Our grapes are tender”.  It means that little things that seem almost harmless can be the things that trip us up along the way – like the little foxes that get in the vineyard and eat all the tender young grapes.  The little things that seem so minor can lead to the worst mess.

It seemed so innocent when people started doing yoga, didn’t it?  You do a few poses and clear your mind of everything – but if you clear your mind – of everything, even God – that makes room for the enemy to come in.  It’s true.  But what’s the harm in adopting just that one thing – can I do yoga and still be a Christian?  Some say of course – it’s just a little thing.  It’s just one little fox.  And besides, isn’t it God’s will that we have a healthy body?  I don’t argue that, but it’s not His will that you sit still with an empty mind.  He wants your thoughts to be on Him.  He’s a jealous God – He wants to have first place, or no place at all.

Colorado has legalized pot – but it’s not big deal.  Can I be high as a kite and then get behind the wheel to drive?  Sure, why not?  If you hit someone and kill them, you’ll probably just walk away with minor injuries.  You’ll be so out of it you won’t know what hit you.  Chill out – it’s just a little thing. It’s just one little fox.  And besides, there are people suffering who need pot for their pain.  I don’t argue that, but not everyone is in pain.  Those who are should not be allowed to be on the road driving so that other innocent people get hurt or killed.

Unplanned pregnancy?  Bummer – just get rid of it.  Easy come, easy go – no big deal.  Life is cheap – you can always have another baby when you’re ready, right?  Don’t let anybody take away your rights because you’ve got that power to choose – pro-choice – because that fetus…  well it’s just a little thing.  It’s just one little fox.  And besides, it’s not really a human being yet, right?  It’s not really a life yet.  I do argue that – America condones the killing of innocent life and will not receive the blessing of God until that is changed.  I don’t give a flying flip about the mother’s RIGHTS…  if you’re irresponsible enough to have unprotected sex, then guess what?  If you conceive a life – there are other options – and they are less selfish ones.  Adoption is perfect because there are people who would love to raise that child.  Be smarter about how you deal with unplanned pregnancy – sheesh!!!  Put an end to the murder of innocents – it’s barbaric and so beneath us!

Don’t be such a stick in the mud – don’t be such a square – and really, those Bible verses you quote are giving me one ginormous migraine.  And don’t judge me until you’re sure you’re perfect.

Yeah – well hold the phone…  let’s just get that straight here and now.  Nobody’s perfect.  That’s why we all need a Savior.  WHOSOEVER…  it’s you and me and everyone.  Jesus died for every one of us.  Accept it or deny it…  that’s on you.

God wants better for all of us – He can help us overcome the things we’ve tagged as little things – our little foxes – the things that can appear to be chinks in the armor.  We all get chinks once in a while – and through Christ, God can and will forgive those if we ask with a sincere heart.  There’s not one sin that God will not forgive!

But America…  seriously – we need to have a day of fasting and humility.  We need to hit our knees and pray like we’ve never prayed before for our beautiful America.  We are at a crossroads and we need God’s help!  I know we are a proud people – but we need to humble ourselves before the Almighty and turn from our sin and ask Him to heal our land.  ❤

 

 

 

 

WORLD BOOK DAY

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There are so many great books to read, but a few come to mind that seem especially right for the season of Lent.  Here are my top ten picks:

  1.  Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  He has been called America’s first great Christian writer.  If you like a bit of mystery thrown in as you learn, you’ll enjoy the Reverend Hooper in The Minister’s Black Veil.  His veil, like the gray cross on some of our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, proclaims the sinfulness of our hearts and forces us to reckon with it before God, alone.  I like this book because it’s a compilation of short stories, so I don’t get bored.
  2. Think Well On It:  Consideration on the Great Truths of the Gospel by Richard Challoner.  Well written and thought-provoking.  If you want to meditate and deepen your understanding of the Bible, this is a great book to help you.
  3. He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado.  I’ve read this book every year during the Lent season since 2009.  I never get tired of reading of the outstanding and perfect LOVE with which my Savior went to the cruel cross of Calvary. https://youtu.be/gnKiJnQAgsk
  4. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.  I’m only on the first chapter, but it sets a great tone for Lent.  It talks about how we need to deny our own vanity – and all the sins to which it leads.
  5. The Power of Less:  The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta.  By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, you will be happier and feel lighter in your own life.  Contentment in Christ alone is what we all want.
  6. He Leadeth Me by Walter J. Ciszek.  God has powerfully used this book in my life.
  7. The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur:  The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest by Elisabeth Leseur.This inspiring book gives you a splendid example of how to live as a Christian in a secular environment that can be indifferent or hostile to your Faith. For Elisabeth Leseur had two great loves: God and her husband Felix, who was an atheist. Felix loved Elisabeth as well; yet to their mutual sorrow, he couldn’t share the life of the Spirit that Elisabeth cherished.Occasionally the happiness of their life together in upper-class Parisian society was shattered by Felix’s frustration and impatience. How could such an intelligent woman waste her time, as he saw it, with ignorant superstitions? Sometimes he and his friends would even ridicule and mock her faith.But Elisabeth loved Felix too much to allow their home to degenerate into an emotional war zone. She realized that confrontations and arguments were useless; she chose instead to keep quiet and pray for Felix. In her secret diary she recorded how she used his efforts to destroy her faith as means to grow in love for him and for God.Throughout their life together, it grieved Elisabeth to think that Felix might be separated from her for all eternity because of his rejection of God.For her, life in Heaven wouldn’t be happy without him. Yet when she died prematurely, Felix was still an unbeliever.The story doesn’t end there. When Felix found this diary, he discovered how Elisabeth’s whole life bore witness to the truth of the God she loved.

    In time, Felix was transformed by the diary and his memories of Elisabeth. He became a Christian and, later, a priest. Now she may even be declared a saint. Elisabeth’s diary and spiritual writings (all included in this one volume) map out for you a path to marital harmony and greater love for God — especially if you love someone who stands outside the Faith. Let Elisabeth’s two great loves, and her faith and perseverance, inspire you now.  This is an amazing book, an amazing journey which brought me to tears more than once.

  8. I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean C.J. d’Elbee.  Based on St. Therese’s little way, it stresses confidence in and abandonment to Jesus.  I’m reading it a few pages at a time.  It’s written with such depth that a little dab will provoke thought and provide inspiration.
  9. Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg.  A life changing guide about prayer.  It helps us discover how to increase loving thought and feelings toward family, then friends, then people we are ambivalent about, then people we dislike and eventually, all people.  It’s a perfect book for our journey to become more like Christ.
  10. Heart of the World by Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Pure paschal poetry of distilled Gospel.

I am actually very partial to one particular book – and I’ll bet you know what one!  😉  I want to encourage you to read Lucinda Berry Hill’s A SECOND CUP WITH JESUS, the follow-up to her popular book, COFFEE WITH JESUS.  Both of the books are excellent, but of course I’m going to recommend the one that she so graciously asked me to write prayers to go with her wonderful poetry.

I want to share the poetry for both books, in which Lucinda so cleverly used the titles of the poems in the book to write a poem!

Here’s the one for COFFEE WITH JESUS:

BE BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE GOD'S CHOICE

And here’s the poem with the titles from her book A SECOND CUP WITH JESUS:

FINDING HOM WITH A GOD OF ALWAYS

I hope you’ll check some of these books out.  They’re good reads no matter what time of year, but seem especially good during Lent.  I’d love to hear what your favorites are.  Please let me know in the comment section below.  🙂