Category Archives: devotional

Refreshing Strength–My Experience at Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

2005 visit

Gazing toward the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral I asked myself, what are those distorted statues and waterspouts . . . why such odd sculptures on top of a beautiful building? Later as I read about these medieval rainspouts and statues, also known as gargoyles and grotesques, I discovered their purpose.

During the 12th century when Notre Dame was built, literacy wasn’t an option for most people. Consequently images became important. Some historians believe these half-beast, half-human caricatures symbolized the vices and weaknesses of man. They not only stood on cathedral rooftops to serve as decorative rainspouts, but were there to warn the onlooker of the evil around them. The more dreadful these figures appeared on the outside, the more serene and secure the observer would find the haven inside.

Today’s reminders of man’s wickedness are in a different form. The stony icons from medieval times have been replaced by a daily bombardment of media messages.  News coverage about present day events echo humanity’s corrupt values. Reports of terrorism, murders, violence and abuse propel me to take a news break–a  respite from the negative headlines. I search for a haven, a hiding place. Not a man-made sanctuary, but a place where I can find a few moments of solitude surrounded by God’s presence.

Inside my quiet refuge He changes me. Renews my mind. Refills my spirit. Restores my soul. Refreshes my strength.

Empowered once again to do His will–to be salt and light

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April 22, 2019 · 10:26 pm

Precious Good News

Years ago a man went through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and northern West Virginia greeting folks by saying, “Hello! I have good news from heaven.” His name was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed. This pioneer nursery man saved apple seeds and sold them for a penny each. He sold young sapling apple trees for three cents each. He wanted our country’s settlers to not only have a food supply for themselves, but for future generations as well.

John Chapman was quite an evangelist too. He told stories to children and preached the gospel to anyone who’d listen. The Indians referred to him as someone touched by the Great Spirit.

Our forefathers saved and stored seed year after year to sustain them. Seed had to be preserved, kept safe and when the time was right, planted in the earth. Seed was precious . . . valuable. 

We too have valuable, precious seed—God’s Word within us.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalms 126:5-6

Are there any Johnny’s or Johnette’s out there? Did you do some sowing this week?

We have good news from heaven!

 

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Onesimus, A Profitable Servant & Brother

 Paul, the author of the New Testament book, Philemon, encouraged Philemon to take back his run-away slave Onesimus and receive him as a brother (v. 16). Why? Because Paul had instructed Onesimus in the gospel and felt his life had changed. Paul went so far as to guarantee Philemon he would right any of Onesimus’ wrongs and pay his debts. In other words, he would to whatever it took to have Onesimus in good standing–ready to start a redeemed life.

Interestingly, the name Onesimus means profitable. Paul knew Onesimus had been unprofitable, (v.11) but saw past his past, focused on his potential and became his advocate.
 Lord, Thank you for your grace that forgives and changes lives. May I follow Paul’s example and actualize the value of every soul.

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God Rays

 

beach clouds dawn dusk

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

“Those are the glories of God.””The what?”

“The glories of God, ” Sue said, pointing to the sunbeams shining through the clouds.

Wow! I didn’t know I could see the glories of God. Sue should know. After all she’s nine.

“Mom! Mom!” I gasped, hurrying to the front steps of our house. “I just saw the glories of God!”

“What?”

“The glories of God! Come look.”

We walked to our backyard overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

“See. There they are. The glories of God,” I said showing her the streams of light shining downward from the sky. A warm wind brushed against our faces as we stood looking upward. Did God really open the heavens to let those beams of light shine down to earth?

*****

The other day while driving home from work, I saw them again. Shafts of light shining earthward, scientifically called God Rays.

Some day I will see the real God Rays–His glory. In heaven, the Lamb, Jesus Christ is the light. No need for the sun or the moon. His brightness will illuminate eternity (Revelation 21:23).

Come Lord Jesus. My light and my salvation.

 

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Heavenly Signet

brown paper envelope on table

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

May my heart be soft

As you make your impression

Heavenly Signet

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33

signet- a small seal, especially one set in a ring, used instead of or with a signature to give authentication to an official document.

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October 31, 2018 · 9:35 pm

An Old Rotten Rag

I’m an old rag.

Stained. Tossed aside.

I’ve scoured and polished. But now?

I sit in a pile with others. We stink.

What? What’s that I hear? A servant says he needs us?

Ebedmelech takes us in his arms. “These’ll do. Soft. Just right.”

”Here Jeremiah!” Ebedmelech shouted as he lowered us down into the dungeon. “Put these rags under your armpits and under the rope tied around you.”

One more use for us. Not to wipe or clean, but to cushion and protect the fragile skin of the emaciated prophet.

Our softness and gentleness absorb his frailness.

What made us old rotten rags?

Time.

Abrasion.

Work.

Dirt.

Messes.

Life.

And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. Jeremiah 38: 12, 13 KJV

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A Crow’s Nest, An Oak Grove and An Apron

The inner chamber, a phrase from Isaiah 26:20, means any place apart. For Edward Wilson, it was the crow’s nest on the ship Terra Nova. He’d often climb to it during his expeditions to Antarctica. He called it his private chapel.

Vesta Mangun’s father, Royal Gibson would slip away to his favorite place of prayer–a secluded oak grove not far from his house. Many miracles and healings occurred throughout his ministry. He knew that power with God came through unwavering faith in His word and in the power of the name of Jesus.

Susanna Wesley, (1669-1742), mother of nineteen children including John and Charles Wesley, would sit down and pull her apron up over her head. Her children knew to be extra quiet during this time so they wouldn’t disturb her time of prayer.

What does this have to do with outreach? Everythng! John 6:44.

We must pray until~

This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize
And shout while passing through the air
Fare well, fare well, sweet hour of prayer.

(Last verse of Sweet Hour of Prayer)

Selah

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A Voice in the Wilderness

Mmmmm. Roasted grasshoppers. Six grams of protein in each one.

While on a family camping trip, my brother demonstrated grasshopper flambé–one of the many survivalists’ skills he learned in the military. After spearing a grasshopper, he carried it to the picnic table and held his arthropod appetizer over a flaming candle. Assured the grasshopper was fully cooked he allowed it to cool a few seconds before popping it in his mouth. Crunch. Crunch. Swallow. He smiled at his wide-eyed audience and soon four young boys were hunting grasshoppers, all eager to check this accomplishment off their man-card. Besides, God’s word says their clean (Leviticus 11:22).

As strange as it seems, this is exactly what John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus ate in the wilderness, (along with wild honey). He was the voice commissioned to break four hundred years of silence. Clothed with leather and camel’s hair, he heralded the news, Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. John 3:2.

Although our clothes and diet are different from John’s, our mission is the same. We are the 21st century voice in this millennial wilderness.

Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!

May this mission drive everything we do–our interactions with our family, co-workers, friends, neighbors, store clerks, waitresses and even the unexpected divine appointments at Walmart and TaMollys.

Hmmm? Grasshoppers and salsa anyone?

Crunch. Crunch.

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The King’s Favor

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass. Proverbs 19:12

It happens every time we go camping. In stillness, quietness and obscurity, after the moon and stars appear. Atmospheric water vapor condenses into droplets. By sunrise, the ground, picnic table and anything left outside is covered with glistening beads of moisture–dew.

And so it is with The King’s favor, and favor with people (Proverbs 19:12). It happens softly, slowly, in ways we can’t see, yet we know when His favor is upon us.

Jesus,
Bless my friends with favor wherever they go–jobs, stores, gas station, drive-thrus and neighborhoods. May your presence draw in souls. Your promises are true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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A Glorious Morning

cropped-christmas-07-in-ok-004.jpg

Many Christmas seasons have passed since the ten days we spent devoid of electricity and modern conveniences.

On New Year’s Day, our family, along with many other northeast Texans, awoke to see fields, roofs, trees, roads and powerlines covered in a two-inch thick glaze of ice. An unexpected overnight storm of sleet followed by freezing rain paralyzed travel, business and most of all, my college break. Linemen worked as fast as they could to restore power in cities and towns. But, we knew it would be a while before they reached our rural area. Dad, mom and I spent our days huddled by the fireplace, our only source of heat, and our nights sleeping beside it.

Six days later roads were still hazardous. Since we couldn’t go to church, Dad decided we’d have our own church at home, by the fireplace.

“Luke chapter two,” Dad said opening his Bible.

What? The Christmas story? Christmas was two weeks ago. Oh well. Wish I had a quilt. Three layers of clothes, a coat and two blankets aren’t enough. Brrrrr. Dad read. Mom and I listened.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (Luke 2: 6)

No room for them in the inn. Probably warm there. Sent to a stable. A drafty, smelly stable. No heat. No bed. Is Dad’s voice cracking?

I glanced upward and watched him take a white handkerchief from his pocket. I could count on one hand the times I’ve seen him cry.

Manger.

Swaddling clothes.

Such harsh conditions. I pulled the blankets closer to my face.

Mary.

Joseph.

The baby.

Jesus—the Prince of Peace. A newborn prince born in a stable, placed in a feeding trough. I’ve heard this story all my life but somehow, today it’s . . . I never really thought . . . tears gushed as I placed myself within the primitive birthing room. I sobbed and bawled and felt foolish for feeling sorry for myself, for being grumpy about the cold and disrupted plans.

Shepherds.

Angels.

Dad closed his Bible. I folded the wet corner of my blanket and wiped my face. Forever changed.

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