From Burdened to Blessed

I was having one of those days, a day full of this and that and several of the “other things.” Nothing horrendous or devastating, but you know how it is, when things just keep coming and coming, and then suddenly it’s too much.

Encumbered.

So I took a walk.

At first I was too involved with my own issues to notice anything around me. But as I talked with God, He opened my eyes to the stunning beauty around me. The sky was a brilliant blue. The fall leaves displayed their glorious colors in the trees all around; and the fallen ones offered a friendly crunch beneath my feet.

I turned a corner and had to smile. I knew that on this corner was a house whose owner had decided, instead of a big lawn, to plant corn. I’d watched it grow all summer. Now the harvest was over, the brown cornstalks stood straight and bare. And intertwined were morning glories!

Leave it to God to bless me with beauty.

I began really looking around me. I think trees in the fall are a lot like people. Some jump the gun six or eight weeks ahead of time, changing colors to be the first to show off.

Others go half-and-half, not sure where they stand, whether in summer or fall.

Some bide their time, lurking; then, like a firecracker in the span of a day, go all-in.

Some are hold-outs, clinging to all the green they’ve got for as long as they can.

Some are so brilliant they’re almost electrically charged.

Others are more muted in their colors.

And some are content to drop ’em and go to bed early.

Besides the morning glories, there were other late-bloomers.

By the end of my walk, I realized I still had the burdens, but God had blessed me with His joy. Like Psalm 81.6a I removed his shoulder from the burden. Burdens are still there, but God removed my shoulder for a while. He’s going to show me how to deal with each one, in His time.

A Pretty Simple Premise

Ps 111.10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.

Here’s the premise (and the promise):

Fear the Lord. If you do, you get wisdom. The more you obey His commandments, the more understanding you get.

Our Authorities

Romans 13.1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

God Himself has instituted and ordained our governing powers; they are our authorities. Furthermore, God holds the hearts of our authorities: Proverbs 21.1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Romans 13.2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Clearly, we are to obey our governing authorities: Their authority comes from God, and we are to obey God. Damnation is a severe consequence of resistance.

Is it ever right to resist authority? In Acts 5, the apostles were commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name. They responded in verse 29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Why should we submit to our governing authorities if we don’t like what they do? Don’t we live in a democracy? Don’t we have the right to protest? After all, our governing authorities gave us that right.

Romans 13.3-5 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Before you protest, before you rant and rave:

  1. Be sure you are obeying God. How to know if you are in obedience to God? Read His Word. Study it: 2 Timothy 2.15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  2. Be sure your actions are motivated in love, and be sure you love rightly. Love God first. Luke 10.27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
  3. Be sure you are acting, speaking, and thinking in peace. Remember, peace has nothing to do with how you feel, nor with circumstances or people around you. Peace is a right standing with God. Romans 14.19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
  4. Be sure your efforts are to bring glory to God. Proverbs 6.16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

What if you’re right? What if you are acting in peace (bringing others to God in love)? Edifying others? Glorifying God? The apostles, and Jesus Himself, certainly stirred things up, but they were obedient, always giving glory to God and honoring Him and His Ways. 2 Corinthians 4.2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

God divides. His truth divides, His Word divides: Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Allow God to decide the divisions. That is not our job; it is His. We are to speak the truth in love, and let God work in the hearts of others.

We are to remain steadfast and loyal to God alone. If He prompts to enter into political activities, then enter in. However God directs you, work in obedience to Him. But remember: God instituted our governing authorities; He guides our authorities with their hearts in His hands; and He loves us abundantly, overwhelmingly, and perfectly.

Knowing that, knowing God, is peace.

My First Bubble Refresher

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Okay, time for something completely frivolous and unimportant:

I rode my bike to the Post Office this afternoon to mail a birthday card to my big brother. On the way back home, I passed this little shop called Crazy About Cupcakes. Turns out, they sell a lot more than cupcakes.

I had heard of bubble refreshers, but had never tried one, or even seen a picture of one. I asked a lot of questions. I learned that you order for three preferences:

  1. base drink
  2. drink flavoring
  3. bubble flavor

I ordered unsweetened tea for my base drink (I can’t tolerate very sweet drinks any more). Passionfruit was my drink flavoring; and mango was my choice for the bubbles.

The bubbles are constructed of gelatin balls filled with flavoring. They hang out at the bottom of the cup. The straw has a large enough opening to lift one bubble at a time, if you suck on it.

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So you can drink the drink, or you can draw up a bubble.

When you get a bubble, a gentle pressure with your tongue is enough to burst it. The bubbles were quite tasty, with deep flavor.

Because I was on a bike ride, I ended up drinking the drink all up, and had lots of bubbles (and a little ice) left at the bottom of my cup. It wasn’t convenient to use the straw to get at all those bubbles, so off with the top, and I got a spoon to finish the job.

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The whole thing was altogether refreshing. While I endorse the drink, I should add that this is not a frugal treat. If you are looking for a bargain, stick to water or homemade smoothies. But if you’re out and about and you have an opportunity to try one of these, I recommend it.

Have you had a bubble refresher?

Rethinking Peace

RethinkingWhatPeaceMeans

Peace may not be what you think it is. It is not the index and middle finger raised, with or without a smile. It is not everyone accepting each other as they are; it is not tolerance. It is not remaining silent just to “keep the peace.” It is not forcing onto others what we think is right (even if we are right).

eiréné: one, peace, quietness, rest (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace

Peace is when we are one with God; when God has joined all the parts together to make us whole. In the beginning there was peace because, in the beginning, there was God. God was whole, He was the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In His peace, He created man, and man had peace with God – man was whole.

Peace means standing right before God. It means that God can look upon you and accept you into His heavenly home. Peace is a clean line of communication between you and God. Peace is when God looks upon you as holy.

Man broke himself when he sinned. We all are born in sin and are broken (Psalm 51.5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.).

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He is the only means of standing righteous before God. Jesus is the only clean line of communication with our Heavenly Father. Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

Isaiah 53.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

When we have peace with God, we may or may not have “peace” with our fellow man. We can act as Peacemakers (and that is our God-given task); how others receive us, and our words, is between them and God.

God’s grace is the means of peace with Him. Read the words of the hymn, Grace Greater Than Our Sin. Realize the sin inside you. Repent of it, receive salvation through Jesus Christ. Have peace with God. Then, whatever may be going on in the world around you, you will experience deep, satisfying, unalterable, unexplainable peace.

Grace Greater Than Our Sin (Julia Harriet Johnston)

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?

Faces and Facets of Pride

FacesAndFacetsOfPrideimage from google

When I think of pride, I often visualize a long-robed Pharisee, parading along as his followers fawn adoringly in his presence. He’s soaking up the attention, loving the power he has over others as they hang on his every word. He goes home at night, fully satisfied within himself that he is not only right, but righteous; and everyone else is executing their proper diligence to bow before his every utterance and whim.

Oh, thank goodness I’m not like that, right?

Right???

…   …

Some would not agree with me. Sometimes I don’t agree with me.

Oh, I might think I’m pretty good at hiding how smug I feel at being right all most of the time. But I wonder how surprised I would be if I could peek into others’ thoughts once in a while.

That’s a scary scenario.

1 Corinthians 13.1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Pride: any time we think our way is better than God’s. Pride consists of the desire to control our world, of wanting things to happen our way, whether we think what is “right” should happen or not. Pride puts our own selves above God, instead of recognizing His rightful place on the throne of all. In essence, pride is wanting to be god. Pride can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some of them look really nice. (Of course, Satan can appear to us as an angel of light: 2 Corinthians 11.14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.)

Let us consider some of the faces and facets of pride. (NOTE: I do not want, in any way, to minimize or diminish results from traumatic experiences people have gone through. Sometimes really bad things happen. The following list of facets of pride is presented to help those of us who recognize it in ourselves, and who desire to confess before God and be right with Him.)

Fear (being afraid): The Bible is full of admonitions to “fear not.” It is a command, yet we fear. God understands. But fear is a lack of trust in what God is going to allow, a lack of trust in God’s consuming love for us. Jesus did not fear. Even when he sweat drops of blood, it was not driven by fear; He was dreading what was to come, certainly. Fear is a form of pride because we resort to it instead of trusting God.

Matthew 8.23-27 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Here, Jesus tells us that we need not fear, even death itself. Our lives and our time of death are in God’s hands. Wherever we are on our timeline, we are in God’s hands. 1 John 4.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We have only one thing to fear, and that is being separated eternally from God: Luke 12.5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Worry: Worry is highly related to fear, but we often call on worry as a lesser variety of fear. Again, worry stems from a desire that things would work out the way we think they should. And worry is not good for our physical, mental, or spiritual health, nor the health of those around us. If you are worried, please give it to God and let Him take care of the situation and you.

Insecurity: A cousin to fear and worry, insecurity arises when our circumstances are not peaceful enough for our comfort, when we feel we don’t have enough of something (safety, food, money, character, looks). Then we worry, or become fearful. Realize that God supplies all our needs, all the time. God may not view our needs the same way we do. In that case, we must revise our perspective. Another facet of insecurity is feeling like we’re not good enough (i.e., not enough of the kind of character we think we need). In this instance, to what are we comparing ourselves? More to the point, WHY are we comparing ourselves? And how is that affecting our relationship with God and with others? You are created in the image of God Himself. You are good enough, and God loves and cares for you, just as He loves and cares for everyone He created. If we start to think of serving other people instead of how we think others are looking at us, we will become more profitable servants of God.

Envy: Whether we want something that others have, or we don’t want others to have something, envy is a form of pride. We want to have it all, and we want to look better than others. Whether it’s looks, material possessions, comfort, love, respect, or other things, God supplies ALL our needs. Everyone has differing needs, and God supplies each according to need. Look to God, not to others.

Secrecy: John 3.20, 21 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. We keep secrets when we want to control the outcome. Secrets are kept in the dark until we decide which light should shine on them. (Understand, I differentiate between secrets and pleasant surprises.) Whether we keep a secret sin or we keep a secret truth that would hurt our relationships, God’s truth is in the light, and we must operate in the light. What we strive to keep in the darkness is something that we wish to keep from God. But God knows, anyway. Don’t let secrets fester. Confess and make reparations first with God, and then with others.

Shyness: Being shy is not cute, it is pride. Shyness is when we consider our own feelings above others’ feelings. Shyness, when coddled, can easily morph into a phobia. Shy is not correlational to humble. A Godly, humble person will hold friendly and frank relationships with others, and not turn away from those whom God puts in their path.

Lies: When we lie it is a grasp for control. Center on this crucial truth: we cannot control others; we can only control our own selves. When we lie, we tear down trust. Positive relationships are built on trust. Lies for “good” reasons are still lies. We may think we’re protecting someone (ourselves or another person) by telling a “white” lie; or we may think that we sway another person’s perspective when we lie. The control is not ours. God is always in control. And lying is a sin; when you lie, “ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32.23).

Gossip: Some gossip is outright lying. Some gossip is conveyance of truth, but done for the wrong reasons. What is the line between sharing prayer concerns, and gossip? Don’t be searching your own heart (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17.9). Ask God to search your heart (Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139.23, 24)

Haughty look: Haughty eyes and a proud heart – the guides of the wicked – are sin. (Proverbs 21.4) The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11.34) Sometimes our hearts leak out of our eyes. If your heart is pure, your eyes will shine with that truth. If your heart is tainted, if your motives are impure, it shows in your eyes.

Boasting: This is probably the most conventional indication of pride. The hearer usually picks up on it before the speaker does. If you feel you’ve been boasting, ask forgiveness and let it go. If you feel the need to defend your humble heart, that goes back to desiring to control the perspectives of others. Let God defend you. Luke 14.11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Know-it-all: I confess right here my pride in this area. I love to learn about all manner of information. I am a first-born daughter, and I also love to share what I learn. My motives are to improve the lives of others, to be a blessing, but my pride gets in the way when I press past sharing and into efforts to convince. “I know this stuff, doggone it, and I want to help you! Just listen to me!” That’s control. I don’t have control over others, and my prayer is that I converse in love, and stop talking before I dig into my flesh for more words.

I’m right!: This one is kinsman to Know-it-all. This one says, “This is the right way to look at this, and you should think this way, too.” Or, it says, “I can’t even talk to you if you don’t agree with this.” Such an attitude not only cuts off communication, it puts you in a world all by yourself, and you run the risk of overblowing yourself. This can only lead to a deeper downfall. Be open to new ideas and new information. Filter everything through the Word of God, and allow Him to be your Discerner of Truth. When you know the truth, it is certainly good to share it (in love: Ephesians 4.15 But speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ); but not to force it.

Unforgiveness: Don’t fall into the sin of not forgiving someone because you think they don’t deserve it. God has much to say about forgiveness; most alarming to me is Matthew 6.14, 15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. If we have not forgiveness, then we have not the love of God in our hearts. No one else is better, or worse, than you are.

Because of me: You think that everything that happens is because of you: You assume someone has a bad attitude because they have something against you. It’s raining because you wanted to go on a picnic. Your friend broke up with his girlfriend and you think it’s because you didn’t like her enough. My dear, you don’t have that much power. Give it up. The world does not revolve around you. Let others feel the way they want to feel, and look the way they want to look, and act the way they want to act. You have no control over them. When you feel led, interact with others and let God do His work.

People-pleasing: There is a difference between being a servant and being a people-pleaser. Jesus was a Servant; He was not a people-pleaser. 1 Thessalonians 2.4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, the One examining our hearts. We are to be patient, kind, good, and gentle (Galatians 5.22, 23), but we are to please God, not people. We are not to speak or act in ways that try to manipulate others’ feelings toward ourselves or circumstances. We are to do right, in a loving way; and we let God deal with others’ feelings and attitudes.

Pride is an ugly thing. Sometimes we try to paint it, make it look pretty. But it never works in God’s eyes. Pray for God’s eyes (wisdom).

Now love may be manifest in a multitude of works and ways; but the heart of love is God, for God is love (1 John 4.16).

The obverse and antidote for pride is love. It looks like surrender and submission. It looks like Jesus.

Love Looks Like Death

LoveLooksLikeDeath

We don’t normally pair love and death, except to express love for those who have died. But consider God’s love. This is that love that died on the cross for our sins, so that we may have eternal life with God. This is that same love that comes to live within us, and causes us to die to self: die to our fleshly desires, die to our selfish wants, die to putting ourselves first. This is the same love that causes us to put to death the things we loved in our flesh, and instead take up those things that God loves.

John 12.24 – 26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

What needs to die in order for God to get our attention? What needs to die in order for us to commit to Him? What needs to die in order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled for His glory?

Many of us have long been praying for revival. Maybe this is what revival looks like.

Acts 26.18 God appointed Paul a minister To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

I see posts on the Internet about “When life returns to normal,” and “I can hardly wait to get back to normal.” I pray that life does NOT return to normal after this pandemic. Look at the garbage we allow into our homes through Internet and television. Look at the way we speak to and act toward one another. Many of the things we love need to die:

  • What do you watch on television?
  • Whose pockets are you filling with what you feed on? Think food (is it healthy?), Internet (is it edifying?), news sources (is it uplifting, truthful, and unbiased?), other media (does it feed you spiritually?): are you giving your money to Godly causes?
  • How do your words sound and look? If you eat your words, will they be sweet and/or nutritious?

God designed us, and knows best what brings us joy. His love, and sharing that love with others, is what brings true joy. We must kneel before God and accept that His way is best. We must accept that He will allow to die those things that are not glorifying to Him, or that He will use death to bring glory to Himself.

I encourage you to start with prayer and reading of God’s Word.

Isaiah 55.6 – 13 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

I hope you feel God’s call to prayer. If you do, I hope that you heed it. America, the world, must fall on its knees before Almighty God. We must humble ourselves. That means that we give up whatever we think is right and just and true, and that we take to heart His Word, His Truth. (Note: We must find out what are His Word and His Truth by reading the Bible.)

God moves through prayer. He doesn’t need our prayers. We need our prayers. God moves at His will, regardless of our obedience. But He also works through our prayers, in our own lives and the lives of others. One of the great mysteries of God is that He works through people.

Prayer does not “solve” our problems. Prayer lays our concerns before God and gives them to Him. Prayer accepts that God loves us and will do what He deems best in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Prayer places trust in God and God alone. Prayer strengthens us; through us, prayer strengthens others.

Isaiah 40.28, 29 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

I end with a quote by Elijah Lovejoy (1802 – 1837), an American Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper editor, and abolitionist: “If by compromise is meant that I should cease from my duty, I cannot make it. I fear God more than I fear man. Crush me if you will, but I shall die at my post.”

I pray I may be found at my post when God comes for me.

Lord, Heal Our Land

LordHealOurLand

Yesterday, as I prayed, so many things came to mind to pray about.

I had a deep devotional time in Mark 11, and I will write about that in another post.

I took a long walk.

A couple walked together, hand-in-hand, and smiling. Another couple worked together on a project on their back stoop. Children ran and laughed in the park.

Lord, knit Your families together.

I met a man on his walk, one from our church. We smiled and chatted, staying 6 feet apart.

Lord, build Your Body.

I saw a dad and son playing ball in the park.

Lord, turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest You come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4.6)

May there be tents set up in back yards, with giggles inside.

Birds were chitter-chattering, swirling in the air, tangling together; they know not that there is a virus.

Matthew 6.26 Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow nor do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, and your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

All along the way, people walking or driving smiled and waved at each other, glad to see other faces.

John 16.33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

I stopped to visit with my husband as he worked at the Food Pantry. He goes in when the shop is closed, to restock. He’s been pretty busy this week; the goods are flying off the shelves.

Lord, provide for Your people. Bless those who are in need. Thank you for the workers who meet the needs.

I heard a child cry, and a father yelling. All is not happy and well in the quarantined homes.

Lord, protect victims of domestic violence. Lead people to give their anger to You. I pray You intervene, show where our hope lies.

Lord, as families are spending focused, concentrated time together, please bless the interactions. Give us a desire to see, to love one another. Give husbands and wives new eyes and ears to see and hear one another through Your heart. Provide creative ideas on how to spend time together, give us flexible hearts to participate in activities that may not suit individual tastes, but that bring joy to others. May we bring out more board games and card games; more neighborhood walks and hikes in nature; more authentic projects together; more helping hands and full hearts.

What does this do to

  • The crime rate
  • The suicide rate
  • The domestic violence rate
  • The sex trafficking rate
  • The abortion rate?

Lord, protect Your families; teach them to cry out to You.

Oh Lord God, You are doing a great work in these unique times; we are in Your Hands. May we keep our hearts turned toward You. May we look to You. We have sinned, Lord God. May we fall on our faces before You and repent. May we be cleansed of our sin and turn our hearts and our ways to be obedient to You. Isaiah 17.7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 60.1-5, 11, 12

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.

Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.

Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.

Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

The Children’s Memorial Garden with Jesus

We recently returned from visiting my folks in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (It’s a beautiful place, by the way, and I recommend a visit – SO much to see and do!)

It’s always a beautiful thing to hike in the Black Hills. There is one hike I particularly endorse.

My parents live across from the St Martin monastery, housing the Benedictine sisters. They have, on their property, a beautiful, paved walk named The Via Dolorosa. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are depicted along the way. At the end of the walk there exists an amazing group of statues called The Children’s Memorial Garden.

Walk with me as we explore this touching rendition of Our Savior, face aglow with love, welcoming the little ones to their eternal home with Him. We can only imagine the joy when we, too, join them all.

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Quick Thought for Today

Our own thoughts about ourselves can be the biggest trap we construct for ourselves (and the others we affect). Better to set our minds on things above.

Colossians 3.1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.