Monday, June 30, 2008

"Preparing", by Rachel Smith

We are in the process of preparing for our summer vacation and I'm a little overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to be gone. Pack clothes, clean the house, do the laundry, kennel the dog, pray my plants don't die…and the lists keep going and going (OH stop the mail!)

I wonder if this is the picture Jesus wanted us to have when he in the Gospel of John "I am going to prepare a place for you…"

I can't even imagine the preparations Christ is making for all of us to come to the father's house. After all there are many rooms and I only have one small place to clean!

As we all make arrangements for summer travel, remember that Christ too is preparing a place for you- are you ready to go?

John 14:1-4
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vigilance 2

1Thessalonians 5:6
...let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

Water, over time, can carve out the Grand Canyon through the process of erosion. This kind of change is often overlooked because it seems like the amount of change is so slow and harmless. However, small change over time can make an amazing difference.

I believe we need to be vigilant in identifying and addressing the slow decay type changes in our lives. Particularly, we tend to overlook the slow, incremental changes in our spiritual life. We skip a devotion time here and pass up the opportunity to pray there. Then one day we realize how far away from God we've slipped.

Stay alert!

Friday, June 27, 2008


1Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Driving late at night on an interstate is difficult for me. The difficulty comes not from the traffic (because their isn't any), but rather from the boredom. I can't see the passing landscape due to the darkness and the driving itself is easy with no traffic. So, I start to drift off paying little if any attention to the road. Then, out of nowhere, a deer is in my lane!

For the most part, life is pretty easy going. Yes, we have our schedules to keep, but the major challenges we face are few. So, life gets kind of routine, normal, even boring. We drift off. Then, out of nowhere, we are faced with a devil of a problem!

Let us not let boredom lull us into a false sense of security. Let us stay vigilant, self-controlled, and alert, because danger may loom just around the next corner.

Stay alert!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

“You’re weird!”, by Rachel Smith

Those two little words proclaimed by a fellow little leaguer to my seven year old son cut me right to the heart. Kids sure can be mean. I wanted to rush in to his defense, but life is going to be full of people making unfounded statements about what we are or are not, so I waited.

My son paused, cocked his head side ways and grinned big, “I know” he laughed and trotted back to the dug out. He wasn’t crushed, he was complimented! He was proud to be singled out for acting differently then the pack.

No wonder Christ reminds us to be like children.

1 Peter 2 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (Emphasis mine)

Matthew 18:3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Serenity, by Lon Alderman

Romans 8:6
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

When we focus our attention on the things of this earth, we are on the path to death. That is, the natural end of earthly things is death. Therefore, if we are governed by things that die, then the natural end is death, too. As we daily move closer to the death of earthly things, an anxiety grows and peace is lost.

On the other hand, God never dies. If we focus on God and make Him our Governor, then we have chosen something that will continue forever. When we look forward spiritually, we see an unending communion with God. Our earthly death becomes a step closer to God. And, there is peace.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Children of Light, by Rachel Smith

Ephesians 5:8
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

I’ve been thinking on this verse on and off today and wondering what it means to live as children of light? I keep picturing toddlers mimicking every motion of their parents: their mannerisms, speech patterns and conversations. Young children soak in every action and word. It tells us in Ephesians we are to be copycats of God.

Ephesians 5:1
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another Cure for Pride, by Lon Alderman

Psalm 139:1-3
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Honesty is another cure for pride! Our pride stems from selective self-knowledge that amplifies our positives. We puff ourselves up with "our successes" and down-play our failures. We pat ourselves on the back as we compare ourselves to others and soft-pedal our relative shortcomings.

However, when we look at ourselves as God sees us, we find little upon which to be prideful. Instead, we see the sin lurking in the shadows of our lives. Through God's eyes we see clearly the errors of our motivations, actions, and thoughts.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Cure for Pride, by Lon Alderman

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Gratitude is a cure for pride. When we choose an attitude of gratitude we take the focus off of ourselves. And in doing so, we place our focus on God where it belongs. Giving thanks to our Lord is the right response to all He's done for us and through us.

1Thessalonians 5:18
...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Humility, by Lon Alderman

1Corinthians 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

The key to living humbly is to recognize that God is the true source of everything good in our life. When we realize that we can account for nothing, then there is no cause for pride. God created all and provides all, so I have no grounds for taking credit.

Humility begins with a deep, honest reality check.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Now, by Lon Alderman

Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

The challenge is to trust God enough to keep our eyes on Him when everything around us squawks for our attention. The world appeals to our "common sense" and tells us we need to prepare for tomorrow's potential difficulties. It says, "You have to concentrate on tomorrow!" The problem is that when people concentrate on "tomorrow", they miss what God is doing today.

Henri Nouwen teaches that the proper stance for the Christian is up on the balls of our feet in anticipation of the next amazing thing God will do. I love that imagery because it places our expectations on God's movement today. Concentrating on God leaves us free from worries about tomorrow.

God is good, today!

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Why we do it", by Rachel Smith

I play on a slow pitch softball team we organized through our church and boy have we been in a slump! In fact, we haven’t won a game all season. I will admit I was having a lot of fun despite the loosing and we were trying awful hard, but then last night I struck out. Not once, but three times! Talk about discouraging! I felt like quitting.

Then God reminded me why we play softball. We don’t play softball to play ball. We play softball to spend time together as a family. We laugh and tease each other and yes sometimes we get frustrated. But in those frustrating moments we encourage and love one another. The time and relationship building is why we play softball, and that is good. The harvest we reap may not put points on a scoreboard, but it will draw us closer to one another and Christ.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Covenant, by Rachel Smith

I recently took a trip via airplane and watched the flight attendant do a very interesting thing. After explaining what to do in an emergency and pointing out the exits over the wings, she went right to the people sitting in the exit aisle, looked them square in the eye and said, "In the event of an emergency I need you to open these doors. Are you willing to do this?" The passengers she was addressing nodded. She waited and explained more firmly, "I need a verbal response. In the event of an emergency will you do this?" The passengers confirmed their agreement with a hardy 'yes'.

That's it.

The passengers had agreed to the task the first time, but by verbally responding, their covenant with the flight attendant was sealed. There could be no misunderstanding. They agreed to the job. This verbal contract binds them with a commitment to the task. The requirement of an audible oath makes them more likely to respond appropriately if needed.

Our agreement with God holds us accountable for our actions. He already knows our hearts, but confession seals our covenant with God. What do you need to confess today?

Psalm 32:5 (New International Version)

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Email woes - part 2, by Rachel Smith

Part 2- The internet and the Tower of Babel

As you recall from my last post I was having email problems. The specific problem was my provider tightened security and even the people I wanted to receive email from were now going to my “junk” folder. Additionally, anyone else who used this same email provider as I had all of my emails going to their “junk” folders. The result was confusing and frustrating and communication was cut off.

The internet can be an awesome and wonderful tool, but it can also be the source of great sin. Because the email tool was not used for pure communication (spam- advertising-unwholesome talk), the provider had to tighten security and make it harder for people to communicate. The intent is to protect us from ourselves.

The LORD also confused the people’s speech at the tower of Babel. The people could have used their clear understanding of one another to accomplish anything, but instead sin crept in in the form of pride and honor. The people used this great tool not to honor God, but themselves.

How will you use your email today?

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Email woes - part 1, by Rachel Smith

Email woes- part 1

I recently sent Lon an email that said, “I think there is a problem with my email account and I haven’t been sending/receiving emails properly, please respond.” In hindsight that was a pretty silly request. How can I expect Lon to respond to something I’m not entirely sure he is receiving?

Do we do this with God? Do we send up prayers just in case He might respond? Is prayer a way of hedging your bet? Of course we want to submit to God’s will, but His word tells us to ask in a way in which we believe we will receive.

While email may be unreliable, you can be confident that God’s mail system always works.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.