Into the Light

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 NKJV

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. As a young child, I was mesmerized by Christmas lights. As an adult, I rationalize reasons to put them up earlier and earlier each year. Now older and hopefully wiser, I realize that what we all hunger for is the true Light that promises peace, joy, and salvation.

As we journey through life, we can find ourselves in dark places. The loss of loved ones can be especially profound this time of year. Physical and mental illness can leave us feeling isolated. Political clatter and economic uncertainly can drive us to hibernate and move away from the Light that sustains us.

I suspect Jesus proclaimed that He was the Light of the world to give us hope in increasingly dark times.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV).

The gift of Christ as our Savior grants us freedom from the dark and offers a glimpse of the Light that awaits us in eternity. I’ve learned over the past decades to nourish myself with the Word of God. Inspirational devotionals, television programs, and old-fashioned testimonies always chase away my dark thoughts and inspire me.

That said, I am honored and humbled to contribute to the Christmas issue of Refresh Magazine, a Lighthouse Bible Studies Publication. The latest issue celebrates not only the Nativity but also offers uplifting articles that recognize heartfelt issues that often multiply this time of year. Grief, depression, and loneliness are addressed. It’s refreshing to see a publication touch upon the realities that can accompany the holiday season. Yet, this issue also offers Christmas miracles and bits of Bible trivia. My favorite article thus far is Just a Shepherd by Dorcas Asercion Zuniga. It offers a fresh perspective on the traditional “background” characters associated with the Nativity.

Refresh Magazine blessed me with the opportunity to shed a little Light this year. We should continually strive to brighten the days of those in need and to check on those we miss, especially at Christmas.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV).

Wishing you peace, joy, and Light.

Merry Christmas!

Into the Deep!

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:4-5 NKJV

The very things we long for, pray for, and make resolutions toward will never happen unless we move out of shallow religious routine and into deeper fellowship with God.

Miraculous things happen in the deep. You will not find an Orca where you can easily pick up sea shells. We often wait on God for a breakthrough even as He waits patiently on us to venture into the unknown. Deep means different things for different people. Your “deep” may be a new career, hobby, or even in a break in stale religious habits that no longer yield spiritual fruit.

 Scripture depicts how Peter fished for hours and came up empty. As a skilled fisherman, he should have caught something. Defeated, Peter gave up. Yet, at the prompting of Jesus, he moved away from the shore and caught a haul too large for his boat to contain. That’s the kind of miracle most of us are praying for!

Still, when the realities of life interfere with our plans, we can become scarred and bitter. Consequently, we may play it safe and refuse to trust once more. Yet, the safety of the shore is only an illusion. Shark attacks readily occur in shallow waters. Our personal sharks often lurk about: doubt, fear, and naysayers who can never envision what God would do for us!

To receive God’s best we must brave the deep with Him.

  • Make God a priority;  talk complain less and listen more.
  • Dig deeply into the Word. Don’t merely read the Bible, study it.
  • Seek God not for what He can do but for His presence and direction.
  • Dare to attempt the impossible when God says “yes” while everyone else says “no.”

 We must allow God to stir us up and out of complacency!

I want to experience the kind of wonder Peter did out in the deep with Jesus. I would rather a dynamic relationship with God into the unknown than to sit idly along the shore without Him.

What about you?

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:29 NKJV

Christmas Presence

For Ashley, a post from Christmas past…


“Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me,” Psalm 51:11 NKJV

Many people who celebrate Christmas and even some who don’t find themselves rushing around with too much to do and too little time to do it this time of year. A few are stressing over hosting duties. Others have parties they must attend. Still, more are in a frenzied search to find the perfect gift. If retailers had their way, we would all be enticed to buy more presents!

However, I challenge you to breathe a little and focus instead on God’s presence.

God is ever waiting for us to come before Him, worship, talk with Him, and listen to what He would say.

If some of us would only slow down, we could enjoy the goodness of God instead of falling into the trap of running ragged to meet the expectations of others. If only we put that much effort into pleasing God.

 If you want to truly embrace the reason for the season, come into God’s presence. Slow down. Sit down. Bow down. Allow God to enter in your spirit and your space.

Christ’s birth and death provides us not only salvation but also the privilege to connect with God without the need for a mediator, high priest or intercessor. Jesus Christ left and ascended so that the Holy Spirit could be available to us. Such a perfect gift our Savior gave us, yet we often fail to “enter in” and appreciate the comfort and peace only He can provide.

The pursuit of things and our attempts to please others can often leave us with little time for God if we aren’t careful.

So, if you are in a continual state of chaos this holiday season, I implore you to run toward His presence. God can calm, refresh and restore. Allow Him to dictate your Christmas season and prompt you to be a blessing instead of constantly stressing.

Choose to end this year seeking God with a renewed passion. Allow each gleaming light to remind you of His Light. The best gifts can’t be placed under a tree. Only God can provide peace, joy, and unconditional love.

May you be overcome by God’s presence this Christmas season.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore,”
Psalm 16:11 NKJV

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
Acts 3:19  NKJV

Sunrise, Sunset…

“Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
–Fiddler on The Roof

These lyrics came to mind today as I sat on the porch and thought about all the changes my family managed this year. Life as an empty nester is finally sinking in as there are no dishes in the sink, or crumbs on the floor and the cats are looking to me for food.

  It has been a year of both sunrises and sunsets for us. We celebrated a graduation and both kids are reaching new levels of independence. Yet, we also loss of both of our mothers and I felt it was best I retired.

These events force me to acknowledge how precious time really is. I have an ever-evolving perspective as I consider how to spend the rest (and optimistically, the best) of my life.

There are a few writing projects I want to pursue. I have a huge collection of books unread. I hope to become a better photographer too!  Yet, as much as I desire to do these things, I am no longer preoccupied obsessed with them. I’m trusting God that I’ll get around to them, eventually…

I want to live, not just exist,
I long to thrive and feel the bliss
to live by faith, not out of fear,
With time to cherish all who are dear;

With each sunrise, I seek to see
And do the work God has for me
May each sunset find me content
The time I spend, God finds well spent

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

Be Persistent!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 NIV

  Persistence is something we must each embrace if we are going to obtain the very best God has for us. Each of us is called to finish our race. There will be trials and obstacles, distractions and pitfalls but we must push through if we are ever to reach the prize that awaits us at the end.

Persistence often separates those who could from those who would.

You don’t always have to be the most “qualified.” Sometimes all it takes to get ahead is showing up and having faith enough to step forward, no matter how small the step.

I admit that isn’t always easy. 

Some obstacles will look insurmountable. Many people will call you “unrealistic.” Still, we must muster up our faith and continue to walk toward our goals even when they seem impossible.

Like a marathon runner, we have to run through the pain. Sometimes we walk and then there are times all we can do is crawl. Our cheerleaders won’t always stay the course. It is up to each one of us to endure our race full of expectation and determination even as doubt and fear loom on the sidelines.

No pain, no gain?

Oftentimes true.

Life sometimes hurts. There are disappointments. Failures and fatigue come with climbing uphill.

But keep climbing anyway!

Hebrews 12:2  instructs us to fix our eyes on Jesus and consider what He endured so that we do not grow weary and lose heart.

“For the joy set before him, He endured.”

We are called to do the same.

 We must be willing to give up our fears, choose God over pleasing people and dare to dream for what defies “logical” expectations. I’ve learned what God wants for me is usually far better than anything I envision for myself. God’s best requires endurance. The tests of patience and pain push us from one stage to the next. When we persist, we choose faith over fear.

Persist in pursuing what God has placed in your heart to the point that people think you are nuts! Bystanders thought Noah, Gideon, Moses and even the Disciples were crazy for daring to do what God called them to do. Yet, in the end, their reward was great!

Persist and pursue God’s best for YOU!

“As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 NIV


***This post is dedicated to my son Landon, class of 2017, ever persistent in reaching his goals. We are VERY proud of you!

Get Up!

“For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity,” Proverbs 24:16 NKJV

If life is a race, there will come a time for all of us when we fail to make the time we strive for, fall short of the distance, or even fall by the wayside victim to injury.

Yet, as children of God, we are victorious and need to simply get up!

The disappointment of not meeting some goal or deadline we set for ourselves is no reason to live a defeated existence. There are often achievements that don’t come as fast as we’d like.  The path to reaching a milestone is often harder than we imagine. We may have false starts or stumble over hurdles even as we see others continue toward their finish line.

It is vital to get up and finish our race even if we feel  like we’ve been left behind. We may run slower than others, have to run uphill or even run in the rain when necessary. If we sat around waiting for “ideal conditions” we would never finish!

Proverbs 24:16 indicates a righteous man may fall and fall more than once. We often shortchange ourselves when we fall/fail. We may not rise promptly because we become fixated on the fall. Still, the difference between God’s children and those who are “wicked” is that when (not if) we fall, we can rise.

coneflower-3-8-6-2016-devotional Too often, many are deceived into not getting back up. Doubts about being too late or too old, too weak or too slow keep people from completing their course. Instead of getting up and continuing to run, many go off to the sidelines instead. If we aren’t careful, we can allow the fear of failure to keep us out of the running.

When we embrace the fact that we may fall instead of living in fear of failure, getting up is that much easier. When babies learn to walk they fall.  Yet, children often instinctively and quickly get back up because they haven’t learned what “failure” is. Or, if they fall and hurt themselves they look to a parent (as we should look to our Father) to help them.

Failure doesn’t keep children from trying. Furthermore, once they learn to walk, they start running all over the place!

Don’t second guess the race God has called you to run. If God has called you to run it, He will equip you to finish.

Should you stumble don’t stop. When you fall, get up!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,”
2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV   


Busy or Productive?

Busy as a bee.

Bees are productive. They don’t waste time.

We are often busy.

But are we always productive?

It seems that most of us are always running around doing something.  Some of us work full-time outside of the home. Others work even harder in it.

Our society often pushes us to do more. Employers expect more. Family members demand more. Many of us are always on the run with jobs, kids, and family and readily lose sight of where we are going. Or, what we should be doing.

We are increasingly busy.

Busy with things we can’t escape and busy searching ways to escape.

We often busy ourselves with nonsense.

Time killers.

Dead relationships.

Some of us are so busy we lose focus for those things that really matter.



Too busy for God?

If you find yourself breathless, overwhelmed, or stressed to the breaking point… stop!


You can run around for days and accomplish nothing. Or you can be still and allow God to order your steps.

The Holy Spirit can guide you to the best use of your time.

busy bee Futility can be transformed into fruitfulness.

Think Pray about what you’re doing instead of going along aimlessly.

Is it time for you to change gears?

Take a different path?

You can try keeping up with everyone else under the assumption they know what they are doing, or you can try God.

God can rearrange those things that stress me and allow them to bless me…when I choose to trust Him.

Be blessed, not stressed!

Invite God into more of your life and see what He will do.

Busy or Productive?

The choice is yours.

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. “ Psalms 90:17 NKJV

“that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Colossians 1:10 NKJV 

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NKJV

Sun or Shade?

Any gardener’s dilemma often includes where to put a favorite plant. You may have a favorite specimen but not necessarily the ideal place to plant it. I have always been fond of caladiums which thrive in shady environments.

When I began my gardening endeavors, I planted about thirty or so bulbs so excited when they finally emerged from the ground. However, my yard had full sun exposure for most of the day. What happened to my plants?

The sun fried them to a crisp.

I wasn’t wise enough to make sure I put those plants in an area suitable for their sustained growth.

Fortunately for us, God provides everything we need to bloom wherever we are planted. If Paul can write a great part of the New Testament from prison, why can’t we show God’s love and characteristics in our daily lives.

Shade plants will fry in the sun. Sun loving plants turn yellow in the shade. We aren’t dependent on ideal conditions before we can exhibit the qualities God would have us to.

If you are in a “hot” situation, act like a cactus. Have your own internal supply of Water (God’s Word) to carry you through hot and stressful situations. You can’t expect God to trust you with greater responsibilities if you are struggling where you are right now.

Whatever your situation, don’t complain, change!

 Change your mind and adjust your attitude when you can’t see God’s goodness.  Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it is not there. Focus on God and allow His strength to hold you up when you are weak.

If you are a “sunny” person forced into a shady situation, ask God to get you through moment by moment if you have to. Allow God’s light in you to illuminate the dark places and people that surround you.

We can’t expect God to promote us from one situation to the next if we don’t display an attitude of gratitude for what He has already done.  

Back to the caladiums.

A couple of years ago I was at the local hardware store and found a hybrid of my favorite plant…sun tolerant caladiums. Too good to be true I was sure, but I purchased them anyway. Thankfully, the plants thrived despite my skepticism. These new caladiums were bred to withstand the heat.

And so are we.

God equips us to withstand whatever conditions we find ourselves in as long as we depend on Him.

Sun or Shade, it doesn’t matter.

We can be stable and able wherever we’re planted!

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalms 1:1-3 NKJV



Great and Grateful

Living here in the “Bible Belt”  I read many a church sign. Some of them are witty and others are down right weird.

I did come across one that I did like. It read  “A GRATEFUL MIND IS A GREAT MIND.”

As I reflected on that particular sign I thought about my various “states of mind” on any given day.

Some days I am focused.

On other’s not so much.

On occasion I can keep a very clear train of thought and accomplish much in record time. Then there are days I’m left looking around having nothing substantial to show for my efforts.

Yet, when I focus on counting my blessings, I gain clarity that at other times alludes me.

When I am grateful it puts into perspective all the minor and petty things that don’t really matter. Annoyances, headaches and temporary trials don’t compare to God’s great grace, mercy and favor.

If I did not continually count my blessings, I would get bogged down in the nonsense of the day, other people’s drama and become mired down in things that aren’t any of my business!

We must renew our minds daily as not to magnify our problems instead of God!

DSC_6110 (2)  When we make a habit to appreciate how good God is to us, we are compelled to offer mercy, compassion and kindness as we have received it. The realization that we are not worthy but God loves us anyway should move us to love our neighbor/brother enough to not just pray for them but actually “do” for them.

Allowing our gratitude to move us into action produces great deeds and great love, the kind Jesus would have us show toward one another.

In this season of thanks, don’t merely settle for being grateful, act grateful. Allow your gratitude to move you to do something for someone else. What you may consider a small gesture can make a world of difference for someone else!

Allow gratitude to adjust your attitude.

Be grateful and B Blessed!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV

Stress Test!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts Proverbs 17:1 NKJV

Harsh winds blew this butterfly sideways. Yet, it hung on.

And we should too.

We all have some preconceived notion about how much stress we think we can bear. Most of us are reluctant to endure anything beyond what is absolutely necessary.

However, God knows our greatest potential. In order to unlock the best within us, we must often endure some trials that will inevitably strengthen and prepare us for what lies ahead.

What you may perceive as a loss—divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment or failed relationships may actually prepare you for a brighter future. The ability to withstand the stress of life’s disappointments is the same discipline required to enjoy life’s blessings without becoming consumed by them.

A prospering business or active family is very much a blessing. But each comes with its own share of challenges and responsibilities. The ability to bend without breaking or walk through fire comes with maturity and experience gained not in the good times but in the bad.

A nail is hammered into place to keep things together.  The hammering makes the nail effective and allows it to serve its purpose.

As much as it hurts, our hammering shapes us as well.

It can build us up from the inside out or we can allow it to beat us down.

yellow btlfy 9 2014  Character, endurance, and faith are tested and strengthened when we learn how to withstand trials, not avoid them.

Through Christ we can endure whatever we are forced to face and come out stronger than we ever dared imagine.

God’s grace is sufficient.

Endure the stress, and pass your tests!

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV