Monday, October 8, 2012

Show and Tell

One of the first bits of writing advice I received was show don't tell. It sounds simple, but it's hard to follow. I'm a writer, for heaven's sake, that's what I do...tell people about stuff through written words. But oh, what's that? It's not the best way to communicate? Rather, you should tell a story that shows what you mean. It took me a long time to get that. And it doesn't just apply to writing. It applies to living. Whatever it is we want to say or to teach comes through in our actions much louder than in our words. "Your actions speak so loudly, I can't hear what you say." True this, thank you, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Rogers and Hammerstein went out on a limb with this song written for South Pacific, Carefully Taught.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Children have to be taught to hate. They love, instinctively they love their mommy, no matter if she is the world's best or the world's worst, her child loves her. Until she teaches him or her to hate. And as a child learns to hate, love begins to wane. Not just love for the different, love for the same, for family, for friends, for God. Love and hate do not and cannot co-exist. So, please, sow seeds of love.

Extreme partisanship and divisivness rule and reign. People my age and older say it's never been this bad. But I suppose they've been saying that for years. It gradually gets worse. A society that isn't getting better is getting worse. I don't believe this can be turned around by imposing our beliefs, convictions, values, morality, or lack there of, on others. It can't be turned around by pointing to the past. We can't go back, nor should we want to. But we can and should learn from the past and move on accordingly. We can live by, and live up to, our own beliefs, convictions and values. We can and must live up to our own sense of morality without judging others.

In fact, if we're Christians, followers of Christ, we have to love and not judge. And I'm here to tell you, that's hard to do. Even as I get upset with racists and bigots who claim to be followers of Jesus, but have not love...there I go, judging them. And just as they would quote me book, chapter, and verse after verse to justify their disdain, to justify their judging and hating (not the sinner of course, just the sin, believe that and they'll tell you another) I will come back with verse after verse about love, grace, living in peace wherever and whenever it is possible. I will come back with the greatest commandment and the love one another.

In the days of South Pacific it was racism. Native Americans and black Americans were still discriminated against and then Japanese Americans were added to the list. Today it is Muslim Americans and GLBT Americans who are discriminated against. All in the name of Jesus. Ooof. That feels like a punch in the gut to me. I wonder how God Almighty feels?

Here's how I imagine it. I am a mother of sons, no daughters, just sons and now some wonderful daughters-in-law and a couple of grandsons. My sons, born to me, share DNA with me and my husband, and each other. I love those boys. Each of them is so different. Each of them is following their own path in life. Who is doing the best? Who do I approve of and love more? Not one. Not one of them is better to me or more loved than the other. Each with his own personality, character traits, ambitions, likes, dislikes -- each of them is fruit of my womb and I love them like, well it defies description, how much I love them.

When someone suggests that one of my boys may be better or worse than another, it hurts me. If someone says you must be so proud of this one over that one, it kills me. I can celebrate one's accomplishment without being less proud of another's. I'm proud of all of them. I love each one.

So, that's how I imagine it is with God and all of us. He made us. He knows us. He loves us. Here's where my love for my sons, and God's love for us differs. God knows us inside out, he knows the good in our hearts and he knows the evil. And his word says we're all sinners, so yes, there is evil in even the best of us. But he loves us anyway. I don't know what my kids hold in their hearts, I don't know what their futures will bring. I just love them and hope for the best. God loves them and knows the worst. How about that? And he loves me and you just the same, too!

Knowing God, loving God, should bring us to this -- what now? What to do with the Bible verses that tell us how we should then live. We should live in obedience to his command in his word. Is that the point of the Bible, to be our personal instruction book? I think not. The Bible tells us all that we must do to please God. And then, in case we can't figure it out, his word tells us it is impossible to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without atonement, it is impossible to please God. Without the sacrifice of Jesus, it is impossible for us to please God. Furthermore, we don't even get to choose to believe. He has chosen us.

I'll stop there. Mid-thought. Though so much more is going on in my head, but I fear that I'm telling. I'll stop that and listen to my heart and see if there is a way to show. Meanwhile, may God bless me and you with a love for others that keeps us from judging and leads us to encouraging, lifting up, spurring one another on to good works. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Camp Venango Devotionals 2012

Camp Venango for Jesus 2012 – Devotions Day 1

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Welcome Camper! It’s Day 1 of CVFJ 2012 and I have to ask…

Who are you?

God’s beloved…that’s who you are. And He’s absolutely crazy about you.

Read: I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

God loves you. How cool is that? He loves everyone in the whole world. It says so in the Bible: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

If you believe in God you won’t perish…you won’t die and be separated from God. You’ll live with Him eternally. Forever and ever!

So how can you believe in God and know the awesome love He has for you?

It’s as basic as A-B-C

A – Admit you need a Savior. B – Believe Jesus is God’s Son. C – Confess your sins…and then… Ask God to forgive you, and invite Jesus into your heart. Try it and see…it’ll be the start of a beautiful relationship with God, your Heavenly Father.

If you’ve done that for the first time tell someone. And… Welcome to the family of God! If you’ve done it before, woo-hoo good for you! Either way, have a great time growing strong in your faith at Camp Venango for Jesus.

Pray this:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sins. Please come into my heart, Jesus, and help me follow you. Show me that I am your beloved.


Devotions Day 2

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Welcome to Day 2 of camp…

You are God’s beloved.

WHAT did you say? You’re not good enough to be God’s beloved?  Read Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Do you get that? While we were still big-time into sinning, Christ died for us.

God made you and He knows everything you have ever done. He knows the good stuff and the bad stuff, but – surprise! – He loves you anyway. Read Psalm 139:1-4

1O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

2You know when I sit and when I rise: you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

He knows that you make good choices, and He knows when you make bad choices. He’s calling you to make the very best choices: to believe in Him, to learn more about Him, and to obey Him. When you do good things and act right, God smiles.  When you make poor choices and behave badly, God still loves you. He loves you like a good Dad, and that means there are consequences for wrong behavior. Ouch! When that happens, when you’ve done something wrong and you know it, tell God you’re sorry. Then thank Him for loving you enough to correct you – so you’ll grow stronger in faith.

Pray this:

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of your love. I’m not always good. I’m sorry for that and I want to do better. With Jesus in me I know I can make good choices and obey you. Please help me to stay close to you, learn more about you, and do what you want me to do.


Devotions Day 3

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Dear Beloved,

Welcome to Day 3 of Camp.

You are God’s masterpiece. He formed you exactly like He wants you to be, and He thinks you are just right! Pretty enough or handsome enough – that’s you. Smart enough, athletic enough, funny enough, talkative enough, shy enough, outgoing enough – you are just right. You’re just the way your Creator wants you to be.

Well, except for the sin part…but you already know there’s a solution for sin. It’s Jesus! Read I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

 Perfect. That’s what you are in Jesus.

                                                Clean.  When your sin is confessed and forgiven.

 Pure. You are spotless in God’s eyes.

If anyone tries to tell you different you can read them this scripture: Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”  You are a child of God. Romans 8:17 says so! “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Don’t criticize and condemn yourself or you are condemning something God says is wonderfully made. Don’t let others criticize you. Whatever label anyone tries to put on you, test it against this: You are God’s masterpiece. Of course you are still a masterpiece in the making, but a masterpiece nonetheless.  And while your Creator is still working on you, use all of who you are – all of your personality, all of your ability – to serve Him.

God made us all different. Discover who you are. Love the person God made you to be and shine for Jesus in all you do. Because…you are His beloved!

Pray This:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for making me just the way I am. Help me to use my personality, all the gifts, talents, and traits you’ve given me to shine for you. Help me to lead others to you by my actions and words. 


Devotions Day 4

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Dear Beloved Camper,

Are you getting it? God loves you. He doesn’t love you because you’re smart or beautiful, wise or handsome, not even because you are good or bad. He loves you just because. That’s why – just because.

Let me rearrange the words to the song Who Am I by Casting Crowns –

It’s not because of who you are. It’s because of who HE is, a loving, gracious, forgiving Savior.

It’s not because of what you’ve done.  It’s because of what HE did. He died on the cross for your sins.

And from God’s Word: Jesus came to find you and save you. -- Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you’ve been saved you’ll be living like you never lived before. You aren’t like you used to be. You are new! -- II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Will there be times that you forget? Probably. Will there be times that you lose your way? Certainly.  Can you get back? Oh, you betcha! Our God is always waiting with open arms to draw us close again, to comfort, to help, to set us back on the right path.

Why would He do that for you? Because you are His beloved, just like Jesus is God’s Beloved! –Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

There is no better place to be than in the arms of Jesus, on the lap of your Dad in Heaven. Get there. Stay there. Remain in His love! I’m not going to remind you again, but God will remind you over and over and over… read your Bible, you’ll see.

Pray this:

Dear God,

It’s me, your beloved. Thank you for loving me, saving me, and keeping me close to you. Thank you for giving us your Word, the Bible, where I can find all the help I need to walk close to you and to remain in your love.


Friday, April 6, 2012


Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy...the fifth book of the Bible. That's what I'm up to. And Matthew, Mark, Luke...the third gospel, that's what I'm up to in the New Testament. My devotional throws in a Psalm and a Proverb daily too, as well as one of Oswald Chamber's writings. His devotional writings are excerpts from his books published back in the 1950's, back when I was a little baby. He was a brilliant theologian and a deep thinker. Some days I'm left encouraged and uplifted, somedays exhorted, and somedays I ponder and wonder and scratch my head. Those are the days I'm humbled by my lack of understanding...on so many levels.

Recently I read this: We may say what we like, but God does allow the devil, He does allow sin, He does allow bad men to triumph and tyrants to rule, and these things either make us fiends or they make us saints, it depends entirely on our relationship with God. If we say "Your will be done," we get the tremendous consolation of knowing that our Father is working everything according to His own wisdom. If we understand what God is after, we shall be saved from being mean and cynical. From If Ye Shall Ask 1958.

And earlier I read this: There is nothing more impertinent than our crass infidelity in God. If He does not make us plowers and sowers, and reapers all at once, we lose faith in Him. From The Servant as His Lord 1957. (I don't even know that that title is saying.)

Sometimes I get a dose of inspiration from facebook. For example, don't find fault, find a remedy.  I liked that, and I like that. That's good advice, huh?  Or how 'bout this, Christians are tempted to fight like the devil to please the Lord. Isn't that sadly oxymoronic?

There are two great commandments that trump all the others. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. When we get good at those two maybe it will be okay to move on to telling others how they should live. But I don't see that happening this side of heaven. Let's live the best we can in obedience to God, and let others figure out how they should be living in obedience to God.


Sunday, February 26, 2012


Forging ahead in my quest to read the Bible in a year, I'm in the book of Leviticus, and I'll tell you what, it's going to be mighty hard to find a spiritual high reading this. Such detail about sacrifices -- involving blood, entrails, fat and all that -- ugh. Although I must admit I can almost relate, as I imagine the enticing aromas from burning fatty portions of meat on the altar of sacrifice. I've been known to burn a thing or two in my life...and when it's meat, outdoors on the grill, mmm-mm, it smells mighty fine...for a while. Once it's totally blackened it smells like something charred, something on fire. Quick, call 911!

My burnt offerings are not intentional, and probably are not a sweet aroma to the Lord, but still. In the days of Biblical antiquity a burnt offering pleased the Sovereign Lord God. Today, it's not necessary to bring offerings of that sort to God. He made the final offering for us, sacrificing Jesus, His son, Himself. All we need to do is confess our sins, call out to Jesus and be forgiven, cleansed. Then our name will be written in the Lamb's book of life. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How To Go On

Jesus disciples forsook him. Even Simon Peter, who vowed that he would never -- did indeed, deny knowing Jesus. He and his comrades didn't turn and flee because they wanted to, it was only because they didn't know how to go on. And we, like Peter, who call ourselves disciples, followers of Jesus, react when we face crisis. Sometimes the reaction is to run. Sometimes we are paralyzed. But eventually we fall at Jesus' feet...and he lifts us...and he shows us how to go on.

And for that,
I love you O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;

So shall I be saved from my enemies.  (Psalm 18:1-2)

Our enemies?
                  depression, anxiety, stress
              shortcomings, weaknesses, sin
              poverty, hunger, desires, needs
     acqauintances, neighbors, friends, family, foes 

Too often we make enemies because of misunderstanding. The tower of Babel looms large, but, as for me, I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; and I will be saved from my enemies...real and imagined. Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Matthew 18:3

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Matthew 19:14 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Oswald  Chambers has an enlightening insight on these verses -- Become as little children with openhearted, unprejudiced minds in relation to God... He goes on to say, the most serious minded Christian is the one who has just become a Christian; the mature saint is just like a young child, absolutely simple and joyful and gay. Read the sermon on the Mount -- Do not worry about your life. The Christianity of Jesus Christ refuses to be careworn. Our Lord is indicating that we have to be carefully careless about everything saving our relationship to Him. Fuss is always a sign of fever. A great many people mistake perspiration in service for inspiration in devotion. The characteristic of a man who has come to God is that you cannot get him to take anyone seriously but God." (from The Place of Help by Oswald Chambers)

My hope, prayer, and heart's desire, Lord, is to be like a child, expectant, full of wonder, free from self-consciousness, trusting. Help me to trust in you like I trusted my dad when I was a little kid. He always took care of me, got me what I needed, solved problems, and protected me. How much more can you, and will you, do for me, Abba, Father, Daddy, God? Amen.

When I was a little kid I didn't try to figure out how to live, I just lived. Mom and Dad took care of everything. Who knew you could go back to that? Simply trust in a child...with the absolute most perfect mom and dad. He's both, you know!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Get Your Own Straw

Reading Exodus today -- Chapters 5 and 6. Pharoah is ticked. These darn Israelites apparently have too much time on their hands if they want to go off and pay homage to their God. Let's remedy that. Require the same quota of bricks daily, but don't give them any straw. Apparently they have time to get their own straw.

I can't stand injustice. I can't stand misunderstandings. Yet both are prevalent in my life, in yours, in our world. I assumed my hyper sensitivity toward injustice, my distain for those who treat other unjustly was a good, maybe even godly, trait. But here's what Oswald Chambers has to say about it:

Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it.

And then this: Much that we call the trial of our faith is the inevitable result of being alive.

Speaking of justice and injustice. How many times must we forgive someone who sins against us? Seven times? No, 70 times other words there is no end to the number of times we should forgive. 

In Matthew 18 you can read the the story of the unforgiving servant. Though his own great debt had been forgiven, he was not willing to forgive a much smaller debt from someone else. It did not go well for that man when his master found out that he did not pay it forward. He was thrown back in prison.

The story concludes with Jesus' words, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Psalm 15

Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever. (Psalm 15:1-5 NLT)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Old Versus New

Previously when I read through the Bible in a year, I always read straight through, Genesis to Revelation. And I'm not gonna lie, theNew Testament is easier. There is some horrific stuff in the Old Testament, hard to get through. Most likely because the story of redemption isn't a pretty one. First off anything that needs redeemed is in a bad place to begin with. And, I suppose, every redeemer has to do some self-sacrificing in order to accomplish his or her mission. Think of an antiquer restoring a valuable piece, or an architect renovating an old house, or a construction worker shoring up a dilapidated barn. How much harder to redeem a fallen, falling apart, sinful person. Let's face it, the human race (my people and yours) are scoundrels -- not totally our fault. God gave us this self-centered heart and then (what was He thinking?) He gave us free will. The picture in the Old Testament is clear, people don't choose well and even the best of them do some terrible bad things. King David for example.

All that to say, I'm glad to be following a reading program that mixes Old readings and New, Psalms and Proverbs added in. Today, I finished Genesis, continued in Matthew, read Psalm 14 and Proverbs 4:20-24. Good words from Proverbs to meditate on today, "...give attention to (God's) words...keep them in your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to their flesh."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oswald Chambers Daily Devotional Bible

Today is the last day of January. I began these daily devotions one week into January 2012, so I'm a week behind...but...who cares? I will be absolutely jubilant if I read through the entire Bible by the end of next January. That's something I haven't done for quite a while. It's time. For added incentive I've got a girlfriend working along side me...maybe two girlfriends. Just today my friend, Lisa, asked if she could get in on it. Sure, the more the merrier! The better to be held accountable, too.

We're up to Genesis 48, Matthew 15, Psalm 13 and Proverbs 4.

Today's bit of inspiration from the great Oswald Chambers is Great is Your Faith  from Matthew 15:22-28. It starts out, "Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense..." I'm intrigued. Must go read.