Stuck in a Divot

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Psalm 86:5

You are my strength, I sing praise to you' you, God, are my fortress, 
my God on whom I can rely.
Psalm 59:17

January 31
Now I know divot is a "turf" term, but it is also excellent terminology for our new Tempurpedic  mattress.  When you sit on the mattress it feels firm and then your body just sinks in.  Sometimes my husband hollers, "I can't get out of my divot."
Doesn't life feel like that sometimes?  We just can't get out of the divot life has dished out as a certain moment in time.  God knew there would be divots, so he established a format for crawling out, but calling out!  Also, even if you are stuck in a divot, singing praise while you are there brings hope and joy to the moment!

We are laughing right now. Another tough spot is when life is upside down like a stink bug on it's back.

Just the Stinky Parts

January 30
An online commercial popped up relating to the problem of dry skin during the cold winter months.  I have no recall of what the product was…just the recommendation…"In winter, when showering, just soap up the stinky parts and refrain from using soap on the rest of your body."

My shower time is my "clean me up Jesus" time.  It's a time to ask him to point out any areas where I'm deceiving myself and wash me white as snow.  Some places in our heart may not stink yet, but they are on the road to becoming rather foul.

As Isaiah warned Israel while in a rebellious state, we too need to be holy.
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight, stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right, seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
"Come now, let us settle the matter." says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow."
Isaiah 1:16-18

Lord, you know all of our ways. Please intercede and set us on the right path, before we begin to stink.
In Jesus' name, Amen!

The Thief

January 29
Tonight's dream has me up and typing at 2:20AM.  In the dream, bad weather had forced me to sleep overnight in an airport and I was robbed while I slept.  My driver's license, cash and credit cards, with the exception of 8 one dollar bills tucked away in the side of my wallet, were stolen. And of course in the dream I had no list of credit card numbers to be able to call and notify the companies.  It was so real, I got up and went to check my wallet!
Theft of any kind makes you feel so violated.

The thief coms only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Jesus is warning in John 10:10, of how the devil delivers demise.  Satan's tactics and Jesus' are easily differentiated, as they are total opposites. When we receive Christ as savior, we receive an internal barometer geared for spiritual recognition. When we are baffled by an occurrence we can call upon the Holy Spirit to identify the source of origin for us.
If what has happened has stolen our peace or joy; killed our hope; or destroyed our love for one another, it's a given…the thief has come into our life.

Right now he is stealing my sleep; or God knows I need a wake up call and shouldn't have all my eggs (credit cards) in one basket and I need to update that emergency list.  I'm going to thank Him for the alert and go back to sleep meditating on …I have come that they might have life,and have it to the full!

PS…I took the wallet shot with my iPhone and used the light of my computer, so hopefully I didn't wake this sleeping husband beside me!

God is in the Details

January 28
How did Moses record all the Tabernacle details?  There were no computers with email or fax machines. Let's get real, there wasn't even a good Bic pen around. I guess he had 40 days and nights on that mountain with God to go over all the specifics, but I'm hoping he didn't have to carve them into stone.
Have them make an ark of acacia wood-two and a half cubits long, 
a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.  
Exodus 25:10

F. LaGard Smith says, "These details (of the Tabernacle) show how strongly God feels about the purity of his people, the constancy of their worship, the need for sacrifices and offerings, and the value of all that is dedicated to God's service."

How often do we consider these key elements of our faith.
Our purity
Our constant worship
Our sacrifices
Our offerings
Our service to God.

The attention to detail, which God delivers to Moses related to the Tabernacle, makes a strong statement about how specifically God is involved in the lives of his people and what great expectations he has for precise obedience to whatever commands he gives.

In a Priscilla Shirer study on Jonah, which I'm presently going through with a group of women, I was sufficiently amazed at the specific orders for Jonah to do two things…
Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it.  Jonah 1:2  Jonah's heart didn't allow him to pull off those two requests and Moses obeyed hundreds of details to the quarter of an inch!

Dare we be still and get alone with God today and ask him what it is he has for us to do?
I'm thinking, what might He ask me to construct.
Bake the pie with fresh pecans, keep it in the oven no more than 37 minutes, allow it to set for 10 minutes before covering it with foil and placing it in your car. Drive east 13 miles and turn onto Need Some Cheer Drive and take it to the door of a hurting heart. Be sure you tape a scripture onto the top of the foil!  :-)


Let me tell you why you are here. 
You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.  
If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? 
You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Matthew 5:13, The Message
January 27
Just reading the word "salt" tempts me to go find a caramel with sea salt!  Yum.
One of our daughter in law's taught our grandson, when he was younger, to say, "Tasty!" when he liked a particular food.  I still do it to this day!
When I read this passage in the Message I asked myself: Does my life in Christ entice others to taste my faith?  We are called to be salt and light for Jesus.

A life for Christ is a tough platform this day and time.  I came across a noteworthy thought I jotted down, but didn't put down the author…sorry.

"It's from our time spent with the Lord that we understand how to spend our time with people.  Inviting the world into our world requires trust.  When we take our world into the world, it requires radical trust."

Sprinkle salt today; knowing some people will spit you out and that's ok.

Fit Together January 26

Small Group Women's Bible Study
January 26
The movement of the Holy Spirit excites me!  I can be studying one passage and a simple word or reference sends me seeking more.  That is what happened last week while I was studying Ephesians 4:11-13.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists,
and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith
and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

What great words of wisdom reminding us to appreciate one another's gifts and how we are designed to fit together.  I headed off into the land of the Internet to find some of John Piper's teachings on this passage. In the search,  I came across an old sermon, which referenced scriptures giving testimony to the importance of being in small group fellowship.  I hope these encourage you to continually seek out small groups of believers, with whom you can study God's Word.

Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone 
when he falls and have not another to lift him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10

Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Piper wrote, "It is a sweet law in the Savior's kingdom that no one, married, single, male or female, young or old, carry a crushing burden alone.  Yet it is happening because we are a big church without sufficient forms of small togetherness.  In order to obey the law of Christ, we have to build close, trusting relationships. Otherwise, you don't even know what the burdens are, let alone have occasion to share their weight." 

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
James 5:16 

For Jesus said, And when two or three of you are together because of me, 
you can be sure that I'll be there.
Matthew 18:20

Could there be a better reason to get together than Matthew 18:20?  Come on over to Shiloh and hang out with Jesus tonight!

The State of Our Nation

January 23
…being continued.
Me oh my! Maybe too much quiet time.
Not sure if I shared that I started reading through the Bible in a year. A friend recommended The Daily Bible in Chronological Order 365 Daily Readings, by F. LaGard Smith. It is awesome!  Don't order in large print as I did though. It's a workout to lift it off my bedside table!

My husband and I often get into "The State of our Nation" discussions.  These usually end in frustration, when they should end in prayer.  The frustration births out of the "What are we going to do about it?" statement from me.

The daily Bible reading had me in Exodus chapter 1:8-14:
Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.
"Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.
Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous…"
Who we elect as our nation's governing rulers matters.

Joseph and his God meant NOTHING to this King, except a threat.

Who we elect as our nation's governing authorities matters.  If we don't elect government officials, who remember and respect how this nation was founded, to whom moral values mean something, we won't be that nation anymore.

Tough questions:
Do the generations who are following us want to be a different nation or are a minority of voices with an agenda changing the tide?
Are we too far gone?  (Never, never, never give up!)
Have we forsaken the responsibility to teach our children the importance of these things?

If we don't passionately pass on our heritage and our Judeo-Christian beliefs on to our children, there will not be leaders in the future, who hold to and govern with those beliefs.

WOW! I kid you not, right after typing this I opened an email from a friend, which took me to this video!  Please watch.

Continual Presence

Our youngest and his wife!
January 22
Challenged by our pastor to have 30 minutes of silence a day, as John spoke of happening in heaven (See Revelation 8:1), we've found around our house that the quiet time makes for an introduction to some deep discussions.  While taking a wooden spoon to some stir fry, I began thinking about heaven and being in the continual presence of Jesus.  You see, that's my favorite thing to do on earth, but the contemplation led me to consider if that is God's intended use of my time.
I know…too heavy for Boojoyful, right?

A bicycle is coming to mind…balance!

He said to them (the 11 remaining disciples), "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."  Mark 16:15

After being out and about "feeding the five thousand" Jesus said to them: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat, to a solitary place." Mark 6:31b-32

An honest evaluation of these contemplations makes me realize it's a lot more comforting to be with Jesus than some people.  When we get out and about, we get hit in the face and heart with the repercussions of public encounters.  But, it we are not out and about God's business, are we pleasing the Lord and fulfilling His purpose for our lives?

…to be continued.

Dear John 21 - Party! It's a Fish Fry.

Fish fry by the fire!
January 21
"Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some (fish)." 
A voice called out to the disciples in the boat and a net full of fish appeared. 153 fish to be exact.  
"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread."
Wow. Jesus' third "raised from the dead" appearance was a fish fry breakfast for his disciples.

John, Jesus' beloved disciple, who lived longer than any others (possibly to 98) is a fabulous author who has left us a treasure in this personal recount of Christ's life, death and resurrection.

I want to continue to learn from John. Maybe we will peek into 1, 2, and 3 John some more this month.

Dear John 20- It's Empty

We have a rifle range on our property and the target area looks like it might be a tomb!
Or the secret entrance to a bunker.  Come shoot soda cans with BBs!
January 20
Repeatedly, John reminds us in chapter 19 that the details of Christ's death occurred in order to bring Scripture to fruition.  God has a story to complete in each of our lives as well and the pain and suffering are part of the plot. Remember He is faithful.
Ah, Chapter 20, what we've been waiting for…The Empty Tomb!  Victory!
Once again, the disciples have not put the pieces of the puzzle together. They haven't grasped that there is more Scripture to be fulfilled…V.9
(They still did not understand from Scripture that
Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
I'm up and ready to do my hallelujah dance!  Oh, how I love this part of the story!
We could spend a week in this chapter, but if you enjoy a good Hallmark movie on occasion,  open your Bible and zone in on verses 10-18.  You will find Mary Magdalene in tears and bemoaning…
They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him.
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
" v.13b-14

In my Women of Faith Bible, there is a dear write up about Jesus and Mary Magdalene's relationship that I want to share.  (Here's a fun personal aside...I had a great aunt named Magdalene.  You don't hear that name often. Nor my grandmother's name, Mildred Marcella!)

Jesus Appears to Mary
"From the moment he cast seven demons from her, Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of Jesus. When others abandoned him, she remained near. Now she stands nearby, watching Jesus' crucifixion, and she follows Jesus to the burial place. On the morning after the Sabbath, she goes to the tomb. Perhaps she goes to anoint Jesus' body with oils or to weep. Maybe she just wants to visit the tomb. But what she finds upsets her terribly.  While John and Peter come and go, Mary stays, grieving and investigating.  What appears to be the loss of Jesus' body is painful for her, especially so soon after the heart-wrenching loss of his life.  It is at this point in deep distress that May becomes the first person to witness the resurrected Christ, an honor granted to a woman who has fully given her life to her Lord."

Oh, how I long to see Him face to face. I think when we see him, we will all wish we had given more of our lives to Him.

Dear John 19 - Stand By Your Man

 Here are a couple fun throw backs of me by my man!
Funny, in this first picture we had just had our 4th child in three years, we look shell shocked.
By the time of the second picture we had 6 children, but must have been sleeping more.

January 19
Chapter 19 of John holds much heaviness. The sentencing of Jesus, the horrific crucifixion, death and burial of Christ.  Again, like the arrest scene in the garden, I find myself wanting to turn my head from the betrayal and cruelty in this part of Jesus' story.  No, I can't sit through scary movies either and covered my eyes through much of The Passion of Christ.

Reading this chapter I did come across something I've never noticed..all THREE women at the foot of the cross were named Mary!

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, 
his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  v. 25

While I don't like to watch cruelty, I'd like to think I would have been as faithful as these women to stand by Jesus to the very end.  The depth of their love, loyalty and compassion must have been treasured by Christ.  John was there also, but he is the only disciple noted.

In life we are called to stand in some uncomfortable places…by the bed of a suffering or dying loved one, by someone scorned by an unfaithful spouse, by a child/friend/self facing painful accusations, in the light as others flash glares of distain and judgement for many kinds of failure, and yes, more and more often it is becoming socially unacceptable to stand for Christ.

Dear John 18 - Betrayal

Sometimes a family photo shoot is a challenge.

January 18
I hate betrayal and have been on both ends of it. Neither feels good.
Merriam Webster defines it as:
":giving information about (a person, group, country, etc.) to an enemy.
 :to hurt (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by not giving help or by doing           something morally wrong."

Chapter 18 is filled with betrayals.

#1 Betrayer-Judas
So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene.' He said to them, "I am He." And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 

#2 Betrayer-Peter  (Our silence and denial can be an act of betrayal.)
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself.  So they said t him, "You are not alone one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it, and said, "I am not."  One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. 

#3 Betrayer-The Jewish People
And when he (Pilate) had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to then, "I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release or you the King of the Jews?" So they cried out again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas."

Lord, you knew, from the moment of creation, the temptations we would face and the times our sinful natures would surface and we would hurt one another.  If we continually feed on Your Word and go back and meditate on:

Love on another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Abide in my love.
John 15:9
we increase our arsenal of weapons to fight temptation and sin in our lives. Oh, how our hearts long to be found faithful to You, your ways and your Word.  As Your children, we want to be viewed as those who bring light to a dark world. With sincere motives we ask You to keep us from any acts of betrayal.
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Dear John 17 - What Are You Living For?

 A fun throw back from when our kids were young.

January 17
Whoa!  Hold your horses Holy Spirit.  That title may not be one I want to face today.   As a little girl, did I sing, "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage?" That came true, but instead six babies appeared in eight years.
Ugh, I think back to how wrong I had it, all those years ago.  Running off and getting married, while still in college, and having that marriage dissolved in 3 months. Getting my dream job at the BEST elementary school (yes, my classroom got moved to a trailer, because the school became too crowded), then buying the kool car (A Datsun 280z to be exact. Those cars didn't last on the cool list.), owning a really fab townhouse in a neat neighborhood and then traveling through Europe and even cruising the Greek islands.  (I was robbed before I even left the US.)  No doubt about it, even with Jesus in my heart, I was living for ME and it wasn't a pretty picture.

Jesus, being God in the flesh, knew his purpose here on earth. He was living to die for us.
If you go to John 17 in The Message translation you will read a beautiful reflection of Christ's life.

Dear John 16 - In a Little While

My man, on deck!  Wait, on dock!

January 16
Most of this chapter references, in subtle ways, that in a little while Jesus will be departing. The disciples just don't get it.  When it comes to the entirety of Jesus, there is so much we just don't get.

Last Sunday our pastor preached a very insightful sermon, related to prayer.  John 16:23-24 taps into a similar lesson.
In that day you will not question Me about anything.
Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.
Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, 
so that your joy may be made full.

Our pastor referenced "So that" prayers.  It was one of those revolutionary, the light bulb went off, moments for me.  If we insert the phrase so that into our prayers, we will focus on praying in God's will, for God's glory and not for our own selfish benefit.  It will take some gear shifting for most of us.

Lord, heal my body from this illness, so that  I can be about the business of sharing the Gospel with others.  In Jesus' Name

Lord, please send a resolution to this financial crisis we are facing, so that I can give more abundantly to my church and to ministries which are taking Your Word to the utter most parts of the earth.
In Jesus' Name

Lord, fill my home with joy and strengthen my marriage, so that others might see You in our home and marriage.  In Jesus' Name

Lord, bring restoration to the broken relationship I'm wounded by, so that the work You have for my girlfriend and me to do together will be a powerful influence on our neighborhood. In Jesus' Name.

Yup, this one will be a life changer for me!  Two little words that can turn our prayers around!

As we face each day, let's remember these comforting words of Christ to his beloved disciples:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. 
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world. 
John 16:33

Dear John 15

 Our children gave us a paddle board for Christmas!
I think I'll wait for the ice to melt before I attempt this!
January 15
Today I will be on the road, so I wanted to type up some thoughts ahead of time about John 15 from The Woman of Faith, NIV Bible.  This has been written five days after the Paris bombings, knowing in advance I'd be on the road.

"The Hate of the World"
"It isn't easy being a Christian in this world.  At times, our popularity will suffer because of our faith.  At times, people will misunderstand us. Some may even dislike us. Still others may go out of their way to oppress us or cause us suffering.
In such situations, it is tempting to blame ourselves for some imagined failure or to assume that our circumstances are out of the ordinary.  Jesus, however, makes no bones about the destiny of believers. He states clearly, that persecution will come to his followers because the world is hostile to those who follow him.
Persecution is never comfortable. But it may help to remember that the focus of the battle is not on us, but on Christ.  Jesus doesn't call us to be liked by everyone. He simply calls us to be faithful.  And he reminds us that, when persecution descends, it's simply evidence of the fact we belong to him."

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you.
John 15:18-19

Dear John 14 -Survival Skills

Our daughter, Princess Jiewon, at her 30th birthday party.

January 14
Ok, we won't get off lightly in this chapter.  My life survival skills are in here!  I think the Book of John should be required reading for life!  When we are born, a copy should come out with us.

I thank God for my mother teaching me this verse. She had many troubles, as we all do, but she knew where she was going and wanted others to know.  These words from Jesus gave her spiritual sustenance and were read at her funeral.
"Do not let her your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.
My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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."
John 14:1-3 

The bottom line, which is our resolve for Romans 3:23 is found in John 14:6…
Jesus answer, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."

The comfort and provision…
"If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.  John 14:15-18

God, we praise you our Father, treasure the gift and example of your Son, and find comfort and daily direction from the Holy Spirit.  Hallelujah, for the Trinity. The Three in One!  In Jesus' Name. Amen

Dear John 13 - Serve

 Christmas Pajama night.
The men made marvelous Cookie Monsters.
January 13
Another chapter which packs a powerful punch. Should we delve into foot washing or reflect on Jesus' prediction of Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial.

A precious young woman at our church has a baby due in 4 weeks.  She and her husband are building a new home and it is not complete, so they are living with her parents.  Oh, the anticipation!  Sunday morning her dad told me he noticed a light on downstairs very early. That was unusual, so he called down to see if everything was ok. He said, "Certainly she would have told me if she was headed to the hospital!" His excitement had his wife up and out of bed, like firemen, they were ready to run to the hospital.  The daughter had just turned the light on to let the dog out.  Bless their hearts….it's going to be a long 4 weeks.

Do you think there were times Jesus just wanted to have this all behind him?  Would the anticipation of knowing what was ahead for him, bring on the anxiety that we incur in our waits?

So many lessons for us to learn in this chapter. Like in the game Apples to Apples, I get to choose the winning passage. For today, I am the keeper of the keyboard keys!

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17

What a setting.  The preparations for foot washing are in the room, but there is no servant.  Not one of the disciples offers to perform this task.  Jesus steps forward.  They don't want him to do it either, but he has a lesson to teach.  What a potent example of leadership.  He even washed the feet of the one who was about to betray him!  HUGE.
Is the owner of the business willing to scrub the office toilets and empty the trash if the cleaning service did not show up the night before?
Will the store manager throw off his jacket and load merchandise off the truck or stock shelves if need be?
On a 9 degree day last week, my husband told the teachers to go inside and the Head of School stood out in the cold and opened the car doors for the children to come inside.

Where might it be God is calling us to humble ourselves and serve this week?

Just thought of how one of the nine year old princesses, I told you about, came up to me and told me she had been wearing her crown so much it finally broke.  Every now and then we have to take off our tiaras and be a servant!

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.   John 13:35

Dear John 12 - Poured Out

Florida Granddogs
January 12
As you placed your offering in the plate yesterday, was it done with joy?  Giving back to God 10% of what is his can be a toughie.  I remember being taught this principle by my parents at an early age, but I don't think I did a good job of emphasizing it with my own children.
Last month,  I was having a princess day with a couple nine year olds I adore.  One had been given several dollars to take along on our excursion and told to offer to pay for her lunch.  (Even though it was set out in advance that this was my treat.)  The other young lady had lost her pack of chewing gum at some point and was quite disappointed.  When I took these girls into a Walgreens to buy a Christmas candy treat, the first girl took her own money and offered to buy chewing gum to replace what the second girl had lost.  I was so touched.  Heading to a strip center, where I was taking them to get their hair done, we arrived and the hair salon was closed for lunch.  While we waited the first girl heard the ringing of a Salvation Army bell and said, "Oh, the bell!  We must go give them something!"  Realizing the second girl had no money, she took out a dollar to give this girl to give away.  The initial instinct of this young lady was to pocket that dollar for herself.  We had a short discussion on where that dollar had come from and a lesson on the joy that comes from giving and headed off for the red pot!

Here is Chapter 12:3-7, Mary exemplifies that kind of love poured out.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected.  "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year's wages."  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 
"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." 

Love, extravagant love.  That is the kind of love Christ has for us. Oh, that we would love Jesus that way.
The ole Pharisees and leaders had a tough time with their love priorities.
Verses 42-43 of this chapter in John tell the story.
Yet, at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 

Heavenly Father, You are worthy of honor and praise.  These human hearts of ours get so messed up. Change our hearts today. Give us a boldness to pour out an extravagant, sacrificial love for Christ as Mary did and when questioned may we respond that we are loving him,  but he first loved us.
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Dear John 11-"Lazarus, Com out!"

North Carolina Granddogs
January 11
Another treasure is left for us in this precious Book of John, as he recounts the story Lazarus in the tomb. The emotions in this story are powerful, especially in the case of Lazarus' sisters who can't believe Jesus would allow a dear friend to die, when they knew he had healed total strangers.

In verse 4 we read of Jesus' intentionality in waiting to arrive after Lazarus has been buried.

When Jesus heard this, he said, "This sickness will not end in death. 
No, it is for God's glory, so that God's son may be glorified through it."

Like the sisters, we struggle with God's timing in our own lives.  We just can't get our human minds around the fact that He is always up to good for Kingdom purposes. He views situations in an eternal realm, while we are stuck in an earthly comprehension.

A detail, I've missed when previously studying this passage is in verses 7-8.  Jesus says to his disciples.
Let us go back to Judea.  They respectively remind Him, as if he has had a senior moment…Um, that would be where the Jews were just trying to stone you.
We can put our minds around the fact that Jesus is fully aware of what will occur in the future; even of what will come out of each of our mouths.

When we have challenged our children to memorize scripture verses, my husband is always quick to say, "John 11:35 will not suffice."  Jesus wept.  He did cry at the sight of Lazarus' sisters at the tomb.
He obviously didn't want them to be experiencing such grief or for his friend to have died.  Another comment that has passed me by before is that the Jews surrounding this situation said of Jesus,
See how he loved him. v. 36
Why do you all think, after Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, he asked the others to be the ones to take off his grave clothes?  Was it because it was a smelly job?  Was it because he was emotionally exhausted at this point?  Was it like a magician, who wants his audience to be convinced of the miracle?  Did the sisters do this honor?

Well, the Pharisees were fit to be tied over this act!  V53 says, 
From that day they plotted to take his life.

Also, after this act Jesus never moved about publicly among the people of Judea.

The show stopper words in this chapter have Jesus proclaiming who is is!  Who we rejoice in him being!
I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, though he die,
yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
John 11:25-26

I know, they still didn't get it.  Many a person sitting in a church pew today will not get it, but let's pray that more and more do.  Just think…Jesus knows whose "Yes, Lord" will be "Yes, Lord" and whose "No, will be an eternal no."

Lord, thank You in advance for rescuing us from the grave that is to come!  Rabbi, teach us, train us, and love us as you love Lazarus.  Unwrap our grave clothes and welcome us into your heaven soon. 
In Jesus' Name, Amen

John 10

Our spiritual walks make me think about the paper white (narcissus) process I've been watching the past 6 weeks.  That hard bulb was placed in a bowl. Water was introduced and roots came forth, then some life sprang forth. The growth was slow at first, but then they blooming was glorious.

The life cycle is an interesting study.  We are birthed.  We start to bloom and blossom.  Sticking with the "b" theme I'm tempted to say…We bottom out or kick the bucket, but let's go with breathe no more!
The journal I am using, to record my thoughts on John, asks that the writer record and memorize
John 3:30 at this point…

He must increase, but I must decrease.

Each day we walk with Jesus it makes it easier to die to self and live for the Lord.

My John Chapter 10 thought comes from verses 14-16.   I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

What a creative way for Jesus to explain to his Jewish followers that the Gentiles (not of this sheep pen) would be welcomed into the body of Christ.   Who is it we maybe see as outside our pen of life and we are not wanting to invite them in and share with them the love of Christ?

Dear John 9-One Thing I Know

Minnesota Granddogs
January 9
Jesus has healed a blind man and instead of rejoicing, there is rejecting, ridiculing and even some reservations coming from the disciples in Chapter 9.
A great life lesson for us all is learned when the disciples ask: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind. v.2
Jesus replies in v 3, Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might  be displayed in his life.
We don't have the mind of God and that is a good thing.  We need Him to be greater.  Our vision is earthly, physical and temporal.  Jesus works in the spiritual realm of eternal value, way beyond our capacity to comprehend.
So back to our story…Jesus literally spits out another miracle!  Spitting on mud and placing this mixture on the man's eyes bringing sight. But it is not a sight the Pharisees like.
The Pharisees have their feathers ruffled once more.  Jesus does not make them look good; they want Jesus out of the picture. Off they head to question this man's parents.  The parents are afraid of the authority the Pharisees carry. They know they have the ability to toss them out of the synagogue, so they pass the buck back to their son saying in v. 21, Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.

Trying to nail Jesus, they approach the man and accuse Jesus of the sinful behavior of healing on the Sabbath!  You've got to love this man's response:

Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know.
One thing I do know.
I was blind but now I see!
John 9:25

At this point the Pharisees throw the man out, but Jesus goes to find him.

I love that part too.  Have you felt tossed out by someone lately?  Every time I get the tossed out blues, Jesus comes to find me and makes it a sun shiny day!

One thing I know…Jesus loves me and he never stops loving me!

Oldest grandchild!

January 8

John chapter 8 holds within all its wisdom, one of my very favorite stories…the adulterous woman and her accusers.  Have you ever been in a conversation, concerning Christianity, where you knew it had been previously well thought out by the person conversing with you, in hopes of shaking your faith?
Jesus knew exactly what he was facing.

They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  John 8: 6-8

The accusers turned and walked away!  w00t!  w00t!  Go Jesus!

Here is where God has taken me today with this story. (It is rather poignant, as we remember the men and women who were slain in Paris yesterday for standing up for freedom.)

Jesus bent down to write. I need to bend down daily and humbly seek Jesus and his teachings.
Jesus straightened up and spoke to his accusers. I need to stand in the confidence of Christ when ridiculed for my faith.

Father, may I bend down humbly before you and learn from Jesus' teachings.  May I "fear not," but trust in You as I stand straight and confident in who You are and what you mean to me.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

I believe Biblegateway selected this verse below, intentionally today, as we try to wrap our minds around the kind of email that was witnessed yesterday in Paris.  Thanks for prayers for our daughter, who lives 1/2 mile from where the shootings occurred. Living in rural, Moneta, I can't wrap my mind around all that she is witnessing in that city.

Seek good and not evil-and live!
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend.
Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen.
Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will notice your remnant and be gracious.
Amos 5:14-15 MSG 

Dear John 7- Division

Second oldest grandson.
January 7
So there was division among the people over him, 
some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
John 7:43:44

Whew, there is still division among the people over him today.  If you really know Him and love him, you are going to stand up for him.  Why is that so hard for people to do?  John takes us on an inside look at how Jesus' own brothers didn't believe in him.

Have you ever been watching a sporting event and one team is getting killed and it's not even halftime? Shouldn't they have the option to just quit and go home at that point? There had to be moments when Jesus wanted to just bail on this earthly assignment and GO HOME!

Check out the beginning of John 7 from The Message translation.  
Later Jesus was going about his business in Galilee.  He didn't want to travel to Judea because the Jews there were looking for a chance to kill him. It was near the time of Tabernacles, a feast observed annually by the Jews.
His brothers said, "Why don't you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do?  No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes.  If you're serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world."  His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn't believe him either.
Jesus came back at them, "Don't crowd me. This isn't my time. It's your time-it's always your time; you have nothing to lose. The world has nothing against you, but it's up in arms against me. It's against me because I expose the evil behind its pretensions.  You go ahead, go up to the Feast.  Don't wait for me. I'm not ready. It's not the right time for me."
He said this and stayed on in Galilee. But later, after his family had gone up to the Feast, he also went.  But he kept out of  the way, careful not to draw attention to himself.  The Jews were already out looking for him, asking around, "Where is that man?"

There was a lot of contentious talk about him circulating through the crowds. Some were saying, "He's a good man." But others said, "Not so. He's selling snake oil."  This kind of talk went on in guarded whispers because of the intimidating Jewish leaders.  

So, when we are sitting with our girlfriends at lunch and the chat begins about someone who just bowed and prayed over their meal in public; and another person pipes up mocking the neighbor who invites them to church every Sunday and their teenager to Young Life; while I third raga on the person at the PTA meeting who was talking about the amazing sermon that she heard on a Christian radio station…what do we do?

Dear John 6-Offended?

Our oldest granddaughter. Please pray for her as her little body battles pneumonia.

January 6
Me oh, my. When the going got tough, some disciples got going in John 6.  Zip past the all familiar feeding of the  5,000 and Jesus walking on water.  This chapter has some show stopper stories!  I don't think I've ever zoned in on this quote from Jesus to his disciples…."Does this offend you?"
Jesus has just taught on his nickname, "The Bread of Life."  Many of His followers have in mind what they want in the Messiah and Jesus' teaching on heading back to heaven isn't measuring up.

Check this out…v.60-68 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?' Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them.  'Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!' …From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter  answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God."

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are we willing to accept the whole package?  The love, the discipline, and the call to live by faith?
The Women of Faith Bible has this to say about this passage: "The difference between a student and a disciple can be viewed as a difference in the level of commitment.  While a student merely studies a master's teachings, a disciple fully accepts and apples those teachings to his or her life."  (My husband illustrates this by considering the players in an egg and bacon breakfast.  "The chicken made a contribution; the pig made a sacrifice.")

Father, may we find no offense in any of your teachings. May we have hearts like Peter which are drawn to all of your ways simply, because of who you are:  Love, Faithful, True, The Great I Am. When it comes to our discipleship, may our quick, no brainer, response be: 
"Who else would we follow!"
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Dear John 5 Be a "Do Nothing" without Jesus.

The blue eyed babe is the middle man of all the grands!

January 5
From the healing pool, to the Jewish leaders persecuting Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, to a discussion on testimonies about Jesus, this chapter goes deep.  In verses 19-20 Jesus gave the Jewish leaders this insight…Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the father does the Son also does.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works then these, so that you will be amazed.

So, let's do nothing without evaluating whether it is an imitation of Christ!

Skipping back to the pool scene  in verses 2-3, it sounds gorgeous at first as we envision the five covered colonnades.  Then we read this is where the disabled people came in hopes of finding healing from the pool's waters..  John describes the issues some where battling…blindness, paralyzation and crippling in their limbs.

Reading those verses God challenged me to look at my spiritual life and evaluate where I may be:
Not sure about you, but that is a heavy duty reality check for me.  Often, I realize I have been blind to some prayer needs of both others and myself.  I allow distractions to cripple me from being about God's business and the fear of how others will react/persecute me stops me in my tracks at times.  The Holy Spirit, active and alive in me has the capability to counteract all those weaknesses!  PTL.

Let's pray:
God, you are all about the importance of godly examples in our lives. How incredible that you would come to earth in human form to teach us first hand in a way we could relate to.  Today, we listen to Jesus' words…"the Son can do nothing by himself, he can only do what he sees his Father doing."
Moment by moment when we have decisions to make and reactions are about to spring forth, may we stop and ask…"Please fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me to imitate Christ today."  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Dear John 4 - Signs Excite and Ignite

Our next to youngest grandson.

January 4
Chapter 4 is full or testimonies of those who believed, because of what they saw first hand.  The Samaritan woman encounter a man who knew all about her.  The Galileans mentioned believed because of the woman's first hand testimony. The royal official had seen water turned to wine, so he took Jesus at his word.  Jesus obviously realized that most of us need a spark to ignite our faith.  Signs excite!  Once lit, faith can simply become our constant!  Praise the Lord!

Jesus goes deep as he describes what our worship should look like.  Instead of putting on our dancing shoes this Lord's day, let's put on a spirit engaged worship which is pursuing truth.

It's who you are and the way you live that count before God.
Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the 
Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
God is sheer being itself-Spirit.
Those who worship him must do it our of their very being, 
their spirits, their true selves, in adoration. 
John 4:23-24 (MSG)

Father, we thank you for the faith of our fathers, which has been a spark sending many of us searching.  We thank you for the stories in the Bible to which we can relate when we waiver in our faith.  May our faith increase and set us aflame with a spirit engaged worship which honors You, whom we adore.  We pray this Lord's day for those who have no faith. Give us the opportunity to tell them the stories of Jesus and pray for them to believe. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Ha, after a couple weeks of computer problems and a 2 hour drive to an Apple Store, I'm still having problems.  It just hit me. I always have such faith in those guys, whom I know nothing of personally.  There is so much I know about Jesus personally. Does my faith in Him shine as brightly?   

Dear John 3 Those Not Prayed For

Next to youngest granddaughter

January 3
One of our daughters emailed me Philemon 1:7 in The Message translation the other day.

Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel.
Philemon 1:7

That's the way we should feel about John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whomever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

What a deep, deep love!
Am asking  myself this morning…How deep is my love for others?
The phrase so loved the world, has me also asking…How extensive is my love?

This month I'm sold out to pray with fervor for our children and grandchildren, but God loved beyond his Son, didn't he.  He loved the world.  I've just started the novel Orphan Train, which is set in 1929 and delves into what happened to many immigrant orphans who were left stranded when their parents died here in America.  Here is where God has just taken me…"I'm calling you to pray for the children who have no one praying for them. Spiritual orphans, with no parents or grandparents praying over them.  There is room in your prayer life for them."

Three days into what I thought God was calling me to do this month and he has gone and enlarged my territory.  That's God!

Before I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the sad reality that so many are never prayed over, my gears shifted and I was giving praise for the Christian school, where my husband is Head of School.  In addition to teachers praying for their specific students, every child's name is in a rotating file and at faculty meetings those names are regularly pulled out and prayed over.   Next my mind flashed to so many church Sunday schools and AWANA programs in this country. Teachers in those classrooms are committed to pray weekly for those children.  So the discipline is for me to listen to the Lord, as he places on my heart the children he wants me praying for.

In an instant, He has given me a prayer plan!  Go God!

Oh, Father I do believe in your Son and am so thankful he came to save me from my sins, so that I can experience eternal life. Forgive me for staying in  my small circle at times and not looking outward at what You want done.  "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to the spirit." John 3:6
Come Holy Spirit come and work in my life today.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Dear John 2 Jesus Knows

 Youngest grandson
September 2014 cousins.

January 2
You've got to love this momma/son exchange in chapter 2 of John.  "Woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus said.  "Ha, my boys probably said, "Mama, why you getting involved in my business!"
Jesus goes on to tell her his time has not come, but being momma, she confidently turns to the servants and simple says, "Do whatever he tells you."  And the lack of wine issue at the wedding in Cana of Galilee is resolved.
After the hoopla and Jesus' first miracle, the family takes a retreat to the sea shore.  Joseph must have been dead by this time, because there is no mention of him...After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and disciples.
Capernaum was home to the fishermen turned disciples...Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Tax collector, Matthew, called Capernaum home, as did Jesus during his ministry years.
I'm so glad both our preaching pastor and campus pastor were able to take time with family after their hectic holiday seasons. We need to follow Jesus' example and refresh ourselves.

Part two of this chapter exposes us to another side of Jesus.  
While I don't see myself taking cords and making a whip to crack at church or flipping over any tables there (v.15) I did zone in on a verse for the first time.  V. 17 His disciples remembered that it's written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."  Need to read more on this one.

Hmm? What consumes me?

But here is where I'm camping in this chapter.  This is what I want to pass along and remind my children and grandchildren.
V. 23-25  Now while he (Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.  But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.  He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

Lord, you are the Miracle Maker, but more importantly you are Love.  May each beat of our hearts and the peace that passes understanding be sufficient for my family and me when it comes to believing in You.  In a world where privacy no longer exists may we not fret, for You have always been able to see deep into our lives knowing what is in each person.  The reality of this should find us calling on the Holy Spirit to fill us up so we can live lives that bring glory and honor to You,  In Jesus Name, Amen

Dear John 1-Come and See

Youngest granddaughter.
January with John
John, Jesus' beloved disciple, wrote this book for everyone who wants to understand who Jesus really is. I"m studying this book using The Grandmother's Bible.  My hope is in each chapter to take a deeper look at the proclamation of who Christ is, the way he loves others, and to pray daily for the Holy Spirit to help me imitate that love, especially with my children and grandchildren.  When we stay connected to Christ and believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can display unlimited and unconditional love as he does.

Chapter 1 Truths I want to absorb.
V.1       In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.
V. 10    He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not receive            
V. 12   Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become 
            children of God.
V.14     The world became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory    
            of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
V. 23   John the Baptist said, Make straight the way for the Lord."
V. 29   Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
V. 46   Come and see…

Father, how majestic is your name!  How thrilling to know that You have always been, yet mind boggling to grasp all that you have created.  I enter this New Year wanting to know more about Jesus. John loved him at as great a depth as any other human, so I want to dig into his book.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit and place me in these days ahead where I can say to others…Come and see Jesus. May each of my children and grandchildren comprehend that Jesus is God in the flesh and if they have not already, may they receive Him and accept the right to become children of God.  Thank You for coming as Jesus to this earth and dwelling among us and through Christ exhibiting a life full of grace and truth. A life, which would ultimately die to take away our sins.  Make these truths to dwell deeply in my heart and mind and bring them to remembrance in the times You want them spoken to others.  John the Baptist cared more about his obedience to You and his love for who Jesus is than what others thought of him.  I want to live a life like that. A life that makes straight the path for others to see the Lord, for I have read, I have seen, I have heard and I have experienced Your love and know you want that for others.  In Jesus' Name, Amen