Welcome to the October 2002 Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
    You are welcome to use these writings or pass them on. All we ask is that in all things you remember the Author and give Him the glory, and remember this vessel which He has used to bring them to you. Peggy Hoppes
































When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.

A WORD FOR TODAY, October 2002

October 1, 2002

Why?  Vance Havner was an evangelist in North Carolina whose wife died of an unusual disease. All his hopes and dreams of living a long, happy life with her passed away when she did, and he found no consolation. He missed her touch and her voice so much that he was constantly tempted to ask “Why, God?” In his book, “Playing Marbles with Diamonds” he writes, “You need never ask ‘Why?’ because Calvary covers it all. When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in Him fulfillment what we now believe in faith – that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry ‘My God, why?’ Instead, ‘alas’ will become ‘Alleluia,’ all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change to singing, and pain will be lost in praise.”

It is hard for us to ignore the question in this day when there seems to be so many things that are going wrong. The wicked prosper and believers are persecuted. Sickness, pain and death still reign and we often mourn the loss of those we love. The question “Why” has been a stumbling block for many, the straw that breaks the faith of those who do not trust in the Lord. All too often we hear the words, “I can’t believe in a God that would allow suffering…” or something like that. We get caught up in our desire to understand the purpose for our lives and everything that happens that we lose sight of the big picture.

Though Satan does still roam on this earth and those who reject God seem to be blessed, we are to look past this life of flesh into the promises of God and know that all things work together for good. We will not see the big picture in this life, and the question “Why” will always be present in our minds. It is a human quality to desire understanding for the things that affect our lives. It is not necessarily wrong to ask; God may even answer. But it is wrong to demand from God some response – an explanation or some action that will satisfy our desires. Even our Lord Jesus asked, “My God, why have you forsaken me” as He hung on the cross. Yet, Jesus did not demand anything from God. He trusted His Father.

Read Malachi 3:16-18

Our lives are like a puzzle being put together piece by piece. We won’t see the whole picture until our life is complete and we stand at the throne of our Lord. Until then, there will be pieces of the puzzle that just do not seem to fit. “Why?” will remain a question in our minds as we wonder about the wickedness and suffering in this world, as we face our own pain and loss. Yet, we can rest in the promise of God that one day all things will be clear, and until that day everything will serve His purpose even if we do not understand. We can encourage one another and keep our eyes on Jesus. All else will pass away and we will rejoice in the Alleluias of praise to God. Thanks be to God.


October 2, 2002

Memorize  Several weeks ago I began taking a course in New Testament Greek. So far everything is going well, I have been able to learn the words and concepts well enough to pass the quizzes. The most difficult part about the language so far is the need to memorize so many forms of the words. Every word has different endings, depending on its purpose, gender and number in the sentence. My homework generally consists of repetition, writing or speaking the words over and over again. After a few days of those exercises, I am readily able to read the words in a sentence. I would not be able to do so if I did not pound the words and the endings into my brain.

The Jews used such learning with the scriptures. The scrolls of the ancient writings were read in the temple and synagogue regularly, going through the entire history of the people of Israel each year. During the week, fathers and mothers continued teaching those stories to their children by repeating the scriptures over and over again. The Word of God was written on the hearts of the people from a very early age, because they had heard it and repeated it regularly.

Jesus knew the words of the Law and the prophets, the stories of the judges and kings. He knew the promises as they were found written in the books. So did the people who listened to Him speak. His stories and parables reached their lives in a very real way – as He used examples they would understand, and quoted the scriptures from what we know today as the Old Testament. One of the stories He told was of a landowner that planted a vineyard. The tenants refused to pay the landowner his due and even killed the owner’s servants and son. The landowner threw the tenants out of the vineyard and gave it to others. When the people heard this story, they understood Jesus’ reference to a passage from Isaiah.

Read Isaiah 5:1-7

Jesus used stories that pointed to scripture that the people recognized. The Word of God had been written on their hearts, so that when Jesus spoke the parables, they saw the ideas that had been memorized over the years when hearing and repeating the scriptures in the temple, synagogue and at home coming through His words. But not everyone who heard Jesus’ message believed in Him. They rejected what He was saying and they lead the people astray by their misunderstanding of the prophecies and promises. Satan deceived them as he does to people today. In the parable of the vineyard, the landowner found the tenants unfaithful. When God went to His vineyard – the people of Israel and Judah – He did not find the people faithful. Jesus warned them what would happen – Israel would not produce good fruit and would kill the Son. The vineyard would be taken from them and given to others. Through faith, Christians are those to whom God has trusted to produce the fruits of His kingdom in this world.

We, too, will face those who have rejected the Word of God who will do anything to convince others that they teach rightly. The best way to be prepared against the lies of the enemies of God is to have His Word written on our hearts. We have an advantage, we the power of God's Holy Spirit. However, it helps tremendously to read and reread the words God has given to us in the scriptures – in study with other Christians as well as on our own. The more we read the Bible and study the Word with other Christians, the more we will recognize that Jesus is indeed the Savior. Through our faith in Christ, He will produce good fruit in us that will glorify Him in this world. Thanks be to God.


October 3, 2002

Worship  William Temple was the Archbishop of Canterbury as Europe was facing World War II. He was known by his admirers as “a philosopher, theologian, social teacher, educational reformer, and the leader of the ecumenical movement of his generation.” He was an excellent moderator; he was able to put forth both sides of an issue so convincingly that both sides often agreed with one another. During the war, Bishop Temple was opposed to the demands of unconditional surrender that the Allied leadership was demanding and supported a process of negotiation to bring about peace in Europe. He worked to help free the Jewish prisoners held by the Nazis. He was a leader in social reform in England, and as a leader in the movement to form the World Council of Churches he helped make great strides in the areas of ecumenism. Not everyone agreed with his policies, either political or religious, however he will be remembered for the impact he had on the world.

William Temple is quoted as saying, “The world can be saved by one thing and that is worship. For to worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” While this might seem to work well in the life of a Christ – when one puts God ahead of all else in one’s life, joy and peace can be found in all aspects of life, including the suffering – how can our worship save the world? Most people do not even believe that they need a Savior, even fewer believe in Jesus as Lord.

However, have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless, where people were arguing about the most insignificant things? When one person begins to pray or praise God in some way, the whole atmosphere changes. Others join in the praise. Though there may be non-believers in the group, they become quiet either out of respect or because no one is left to argue. Words of praise to God will quiet an enemy.

Read Psalm 149

I do not have any answers to the troubles we face in the world today. War is pending once again, as it was in the days of William Temple. I do not think 24-hour worship services would have stopped World War II, and I do not think it would stop war today. We have to trust that God has blessed our leaders with the wisdom to use their gifts and knowledge to make just and appropriate decisions. However, those of us who are not the president or generals, those of us who are not leaders in the political, social or religious arenas, can devote ourselves to praising God. As He is glorified, He will bring about His justice and perhaps change the hearts of those who promote violence and war.

After the attack on America last year, many people went to church – seeking something outside themselves for comfort, peace and hope. They gathered together to pray. Prayer is a form of worship, but people often pray to God as if He were a pop machine – put in your prayer and get whatever you want. Most who attended services briefly after the attack last year were looking for answers or asking for something from God – comfort, blessings, guidance or protection. Worship is far more than that. It includes giving fully of ourselves to the will of God – giving our soul to the holiness of God, our mind to the truth of God, our imagination to the beauty of God, our heart to the love of God. Worship begins with praise to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, thanksgiving for His incredible goodness, rejoicing in His presence. When we worship Him completely, things change. Let us live today in worship to God and watch what happens when He is glorified! Thanks be to God.


October 4, 2002

Email  Over the past few days I have received several email alerts about a new, very nasty virus that is making its way into many computers. These viruses are designed to get into a person’s email box and automatically send itself to every email address in their address book. With a system like this, the virus is sent very quickly all over the Internet, harming many computers along the way.

Internet hoaxes also spread rapidly through email. How many times have you gotten the email that says Bill Gates is going to give every person whose address is on the email a great deal of money. It certainly must be true, since a lawyer originally wrote the letter. Then there is the story that Dr. Pepper or Pepsi (depending on which email you received) are using the Pledge of Allegiance on their cans but have removed the part that says, “Under God.” There are warnings that guys are stealing people’s organs and leaving them in bathtubs filled with ice. These stories and many more are found in our email boxes daily, as someone we know felt they were important enough to pass on. Unfortunately, they are all hoaxes, a waste of time and valuable space on the information superhighway.

The other mail that comes regularly are the pretty stories, the prayers, the poems, the chain letters that promise blessings or good luck “if you send it to 15 of your closest friends.” What most of my friends do not realize is that I have already read that story, prayer or poem a dozen times because everyone else I know has already sent it my way. I rarely forward anything because I know if I have seen it so has everyone else. It seems to take about three months for these emails to return, having gone through the world and back again.

I don’t mind the mail, as a matter of fact, I love to get personal notes from readers who have been particularly touched by A WORD FOR TODAY. I’ve learned to beware of attached files from people I don’t know. I can easily recognize a chain letter or pyramid scheme and quickly dismiss it. The stories are good to reread once in awhile because they usually have a beautiful message to tell.

With such immediate communication, it is hard for us to imagine what it must have been like in the days of Jesus and the early church. The Epistles – Paul’s letters to the churches as well as those from Peter, James, John and Jude – are messages sent to individual churches to rebuke or correct their errors and to encourage them in Christ. These letters are so personal, with greetings to individuals and specific instruction to their situations. It is a wonder that these letters made it beyond the original receiver. Yet, these letters were passed from congregation to congregation so that all might hear the message found within.

Read Colossians 4:16

Imagine how quickly these letters would have made it around the world if they’d been written today? It is amazing to think that they survived the slow pace and travel and being handled by so many people. Eventually the letters were copied and sent to other churches so that they might hear what Paul or the others had to say. Over time, these letters became an important part of the study of God’s Word in the fellowship of believers. Today, nearly everyone has a copy of these letters that they can read for themselves. Despite the lack of the Internet, God managed to get those messages to the entire world.

There are places where the Word of God is unwelcome, but now He is now using the Internet to reach many who would otherwise never see the Scriptures. People in China are downloading bibles from the Internet to share with others in underground churches. People in Africa, where Christians are being slaughtered for their faith, are able to read devotionals or share in study through email. The letters of Paul brought people from separate cities into a common fellowship, and those letters still bind people of every race, age and gender into the Church of Christ. Amazing how God works, isn’t it? Thanks be to God.


October 5, 2002

Car Color  I don’t know why, but I have recently been noticing that there are a large percentage of white cars on the road here in Arkansas. It seems like no matter where I go – on the highways or in the parking lots – twenty to thirty percent of the cars are white. One day as I was sitting at a light, every car that I could see waiting with me, about ten cars, were white. I felt rather out of place with my seagreen mist colored car. I am not sure why so many would choose this color for their automobile, but it is certainly very popular.

However, according to an article I just read about this subject, white is no longer the most popular color. It falls third after silver and black. The article went on to talk about why people choose certain colors for their cars. Silver acts as a status symbol, those who choose it are looking for prestige. Black symbolizes power and authority, and has been a favorite color since the beginning of car production. This new generation of leaders, the baby boomer generation, is choosing silver because it shows how far we have come.

The color of our car often tells much about our own personality. Those seeking attention often drive red cars or other flamboyant colors; green often signifies one who has a kind heart. Color analysts study trends and can describe much about a person by the colors they choose for clothes, homes and cars. Though most people don’t go to a car dealer with the intent of ‘buying a bright car so that I can be seen’, their choice can point to hidden desires of which even they are not aware.

I’m sure we could do similar studies on the types of homes we buy, animals we keep or churches we choose to attend. Yet, there are times when our choices actually determine our actions. If we decide to buy a home that is more expensive than we can afford, we have to work harder to pay for it. We suffer from greater stress when we work longer hours and it affects our other relationships. We become our job, leaving all else behind. We tend to flirt more while wearing a sexy outfit than we would in sweats. The police have found that people who drive red cars are inclined to drive faster than those who drive something blue or green do.

A church sign recently had the message “You are what you worship.” This might be easier to see in our modern world than it has ever been before. We worship a great many things – our jobs, our families, our material possessions. Worship is not simply spending an hour a week with others who enjoy the same thing, like a church service. Worship is giving ourselves to the care and maintenance of that which we love. For a Christian, worship is devoting our lives to our relationship with God, which includes time in corporate worship. But it also includes time in private prayer, scripture study and serving the Lord by sharing our gifts with the world. Many people today put far more time into keeping their job, or maintaining their homes than they do with the Lord.

Read Psalm 115:2-8

I’m not sure why I have noticed so many white cars on the road, or why so many people would choose that color. The experts say we are what we drive – that our car color says a lot about our personality and desires. Perhaps that is true. It is true that we become like what we worship. Whatever we put our heart into, and our actions, becomes like a god to us – even our homes, cars, relationships, jobs, hobbies, recreational activities or other things. When we begin to trust the things of this world, focusing all our attention on keeping or maintaining them, then we are worshipping idols that cannot speak, see, hear or smell. It was easier to see the idols in the days of the psalmist because people actually worshipped things made of gold or silver in a temple. Today, we worship things without realizing it. Where is your heart today? Do you trust in God and worship Him in all ways? Or are you trusting in the things of this earth that have no power to save?


October 6, 2002

Kittens  Our neighbor adopted two very tiny kittens from the animal shelter yesterday. They were a bit dirty and flea infested, so for the sake of her family and other cat, the kittens were kept in a cage outside until she was able to give them a flea bath. They were hungry, scared and desperate for freedom. We have considered getting Felix a friend, another cat that could keep him active and be a companion when we are away. I’ve introduced him to several of the neighborhood cats and he always seems interested until they hiss or snap at him.

Yesterday I took Felix out to meet the kittens. They were meowing hysterically in their cage, wanting attention and freedom. These balls of fur were no more than a handful, an easy meal for a cat Felix’s size. He took one look at these kittens and ran away. It was rather humorous to watch his startled expression as he jumped back and took off in the other direction. I suppose the thought of a couple loud, flea-infested rugrats was more than he could bear. It was strange that he appeared so frightened of these tiny kittens that were trapped in a cage. Maybe it wasn’t so strange. Every other creature Felix has ever met face to face has greeted him with menacing cries and a swipe of sharply clawed paws. His past experience left him frightened and he was unwilling to suffer another attack, even though the kittens were not dangerous. Past experience made Felix cautious even though he really did not know how the kittens would react to his presence.

We fear the unknown. Even those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ are affected by our past experiences and we face fear, doubt and uncertainty, often running from those things that might bring us harm. Though we know in our minds that we should not fear the things of this world or even death, we need to be reminded that God is with us through our pain and that Jesus has the power to overcome the things that bring us fear.

Read Mark 5:35-43

How frightening it must have been for Jairus to hear his daughter had died, yet Jesus immediately reminded him not to be afraid. When we face similar moments in our lives – when those we love are sick and dying, when we are on the edge of financial collapse, when we are unsure about tomorrow – it is easy to become afraid. But Jesus reaches out to us and speaks to our fear. “Do not be afraid,” he says, turning our attention from the bad news to Him, the Good News. He is able to overcome even death; there is nothing in this world for us to fear. Even when others are laughing at Jesus, we can trust that He will fulfill His promises. Thanks be to God.


October 7, 2002

Snakes  Some of the houses in this development where we live are located right on the edge of a small, lovely lake. We live several blocks away. The lake is filled with wildlife – ducks, fish, turtles and snakes. Earlier this summer, local officials were warning the residents about the snakes, some of which are poisonous. Apparently the snakes were getting too close to the houses, creating a dangerous situation for those who lived there, particularly the families with young children. I haven’t heard of any actual attacks and we haven’t seen any snakes near our home, for which we are quite thankful.

I don’t like snakes very much, although I do enjoy the reptile house at the zoo, just for educational reasons. It is good to get to know what the snakes look like so that if you come across one you know if it is dangerous or not. Unfortunately, when I am in a situation like that, I can’t remember one from another. When we lived in California I found a snake in the yard. Since I had no idea what it was, I beat it with a garden shovel until it was dead. Actually, I probably beat it longer than necessary, but I didn’t want to take any chances. It turned out to be nothing more than a garden snake, only a couple feet long and harmless.

Snakes have never had a very good reputation. Ever since that day in the garden when Satan took on the shape of a serpent, they have been used to represent everything evil in this world. There is even a story in the bible from the days of the Exodus from Egypt, where God uses snakes to quiet the complaints of the Israelites. There were tired, hungry and thirsty. They went to Moses to complain, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” The LORD sent poisonous snakes that bit them and many died. They realized their sin against God and repented, asking Moses to pray. When he did, God did not remove the snakes, but rather gave them an image to look toward for salvation. He commanded Moses to make a bronze image of a snake and put it on a pole. All who were bitten that looked to it would be saved. Jesus referred to this story when talking about Himself.

Read John 3:10-14

Many people who have a fear of snakes do so because they have either been bitten or have come in very close contact with a dangerous snake. As they say, “Once bitten, twice shy.” Yet, for most people it is simply because the only thing you hear about snakes is negative. We want to smash them to bits with a garden shovel. Yet in the story of the snakes in the desert with the Israelites, it was impossible for them to rid themselves of the snakes. Their only salvation was to humbly look toward God.

Centuries after that incident the Israelites still did not understand how to trust God. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night to find out more about Him and His teaching. Jesus told him that to understand, he would need to be reborn. He needed to realize his sin – that he’d been bitten – and turn to the One who could save him. God could certainly have removed sin from this world, just like He could have taken the snakes away from the Israelites in the desert. He has allowed it to continue, but He has given us a ‘snake on a pole’ to look at for our salvation. When we fall under the influences of sin in this world, we can't save ourselves. We need only to look to Christ on the cross. For He was lifted up so that we could see, believe and live. Thanks be to God.


October 8, 2002

Clutter  In the past few weeks, we have been trying to rid ourselves of the clutter that has accumulated in our house. Zack and I cleaned his room the other day and I have straightened up my work area, throwing old papers and purging my bookshelves of unnecessary books. Vicki has tried to organize her bedroom and Bruce has gone through his things. Our garbage can is overflowing today with bags filled with old school papers, broken toys, unusable clothing and other junk. We also gave a carload of usable items to our church for a rummage sale. Even with ridding ourselves of so many things, we still have too much. I can’t imagine moving again though I know it will happen some day, even if it is only down the street.

Abram lived with his extended family in Mesopotamia, of great wealth with servants, flocks and many material possessions. He worshipped the local gods with the rest of his family and friends. Life was pretty good for Abram. One day the LORD spoke to Abram, which must have been a very strange experience for him. The gods they worshipped had no voice, no form except that which were created by human hands. This strange voice told Abram to leave his home and go to an unknown land. The voice promised Abram many blessings – he would become a great nation and be blessed, his name would be great and he would be a blessing, all those who bless him will be blessed and those who curse him would be cursed. The greatest promise reaches far beyond Abram himself – the entire world would be blessed through him.

Abram was seventy-five years old, childless except for his brother’s son for whom Abram took responsibility when his brother died. He was married, but his wife was assumed barren since she had not born him any children. He had a life in the land where he lived and though the scriptures do not tell us, he was probably not unhappy with his circumstances. Yet, he listened to the voice and obeyed the call.

Read Genesis 12:4-9

This was certainly not an easy trip. Abram, Sarai and Lot traveled many miles with a large contingent of people, animals and things. He did not pack a small bag and set out by himself into this adventure, but took all that he had with him.

While it is good to set aside all worldly possessions when one who has been called by the Lord to follow Him, it is not a life that God calls everyone to live. He has blessed us with families – spouses, children and friends – as well as homes, jobs and relationships within our community to whom we are called to share the message of Christ. It would be much easier to move to a new place to serve Him without the encumbrances of our lives, but God is our strength and will see us through whatever He calls us to do. Abram moved everything he had by foot, praising God every step of the way – even though he knew nothing of the voice that spoke and would not see the fulfillment of all the promises.

We are assured of our salvation by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. He is with us and will be with us every step of the way as we serve Him in this world. Whatever He calls us to do, we need only trust that He will provide what we need – even if it is a moving van to take all our junk from one place to another. We should still rid ourselves of the clutter that weighs us down as we walk in faith, but let us always praise God for whatever He has given for us to carry along the way. Thanks be to God.


October 9, 2002

Sniper  The past week has been frightening for those living near Washington, DC as a sniper has randomly been shooting people going about their every day business. Six people have died and two are in the hospital, including a thirteen-year old boy. They have been shot at the gas station, grocery store, at school. Everyone is baffled by this series of attacks because there have been little evidence and the police are unable to determine a motive for the shootings. It could be anything – international or domestic terrorism or it could simply be someone suffering from a mental deficiency.

The randomness and uncertainty surrounding the shootings has left the people in that area afraid. They are keeping inside as much as possible, driving where they would normally walk and constantly looking for danger. The fear is not only felt in the area where the shootings have occurred. People all over the country are wondering if it will happen in their hometown. The possibility of war and the threat of terrorism has left the nation’s nerves shattered and hearts afraid. There are really no words that will bring comfort at a time like this, except the reminder that God is with us through it all. As we live in His love and share it with others, we can find a peace in the midst of such incredible fear as we are suffering in this world today.

Read 1 John 4:7-21

The people in the sniper zone are living in a time of great fear because they don’t know when the next attack will come. People all over our country are also living in fear because they don’t know what might happen to them in their own hometown. Fear comes from uncertainty and the evil forces in this world are using that tactic to keep everyone on edge. Satan wants us to be afraid. So do the gunman and terrorists. It is where they get their power. Though we should not give up the search for justice and we should try to stop those who seek to harm the lives of others, it does no good to live in fear. As Christians we need to remember that our flesh is perishable. But we have Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and our life in this world is just a brief moment in time compared to the eternal life we have through faith in Jesus. As we rely on the love of God, fear is chased away. The conditions do not change – the threat is still there – but we live in love rather than fear and share that love with others. Thanks be to God.


October 10, 2002

Stitch  One of my children’s favorite scenes from the movie “Lilo and Stitch” involves a record player. Stitch, an alien who finds himself in Hawaii, is adopted by Lilo. She thinks he is a dog, but discovers he has some strange abilities. One day she ran into her sister’s room with Stitch and her record player and said, “Look at this!” Then she turned on the player, put Stitch’s claw on the record and opened his mouth. The music played through him beautiful. She closed Stitch’s mouth, then opened it again. Every time you could hear the music. It was an exceptionally funny scene in a movie filled with silliness.

I don’t know the technical aspects of how a record player works. When you look at a record, it is amazing to think of all the notes and sounds that are found on that black piece of vinyl with grooves. Somehow a small needle takes what has been written on that record and sends it through the machine into the speakers to be sent out to our ears for our enjoyment. We are unable to hear the music on the vinyl without the needle and speakers.

God, our heavenly Father, has a great deal to say to us, His creation. Yet, we have a real hard time hearing His words. God is not something we can touch, feel, hear or see with our human senses. He is bigger than our mind can imagine, smaller than our understanding can grasp. He is larger than the universe, but has His hand in the movement of the atoms. When we do hear the voice of God, it is difficult to believe that we are really hearing Him speak. We tend to believe that we have gone out of our mind, that we are just imagining things. So, from the beginning of time, God has given us means through which He speaks.

We can see God in the flowers and the stars. We can see Him in the patterns of the weather and in the consistency of the seasons. The sun always rises and the springtime always comes. We can see Him in the Law He gave to help His people live. He is in the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were given to Moses and in the writings that tell the stories of the patriarchs, the kings and the prophets. In the end of the age, we saw Him in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. We see Him through the writings of the Apostles, the witnesses to His life and the incredible work of salvation through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Today, we see Him in the witness of the Church – each believer who testifies to the work of Christ in our lives. In other words, we are the record player by which God speaks the words of salvation into the lives of those who are lost in the darkness of this world.

Read John 1:39-42

For thousands of years, God spoke to His people through the creation, through the patriarchs, judges, kings, and prophets and the Law. Then He sent His Son into the world to give His love and mercy in the most incredible way – through the cross. From that day forth, He has spoken through those who believe. One after another have heard the words “Come and see” and when we see we go like Andrew to our family, friends and neighbors to invite them into a relationship with Christ. We are like Stitch, the vessel through which the music of God is played for all to hear. Thanks be to God.


October 11, 2002

Teachers  As I think back over my school years, there are always a few teachers that stand out as extraordinary. The classes they taught were usually the ones in which I succeeded, though that is not the reason I consider them my favorites. It was because they were able to draw the best out of me and they made me want to do well. I wanted to do well because I could see how much they loved their students and their job. Those teachers were not always the favorites of my friends. They wanted a friend or a giving machine, some kids needed constant discipline.

How often does the world look at God the same way? People see God as a giving machine and desire a supernatural being that will give them whatever they want, or they see God as wrathful and respond out of fear. Unfortunately, faith built on greed or fear is very shallow faith, and when things don’t go well, they easily fall away. Those who desire only good things will reject God when bad things happen. Those who follow Him because they are afraid will only do so to avoid the punishment.

In the story of Jonah, Jonah tried to run from God by sailing away on a ship far from Ninevah. While they traveled, a storm struck and nearly destroyed the ship. When the sailors learned that Jonah believed in the LORD, they became afraid and cried out to Him.

Read Jonah 1:4-16

The sailors called out to the LORD, but they did so out of fear, not respect. They did not want to serve God or honor Him with their lives, they only wanted to save their necks. They saw God as wrathful against His people, and called out to Him so that He would not harm them. Jonah, though he ran from God, realized that the only thing he could do was to obey God, receive the punishment and go forth in faith. He loved God and wanted to serve Him. Even though Jonah tried to escape the task at hand, he eventually did as God commanded. Though we see that the sailors offered sacrifice to God and made vows, we do not see them renouncing their other gods. They saw the LORD in the events of the moment, and it is likely they returned to the worship of whatever gods suited their needs.

God is not just one of wrath or one of giving good things. The Lord God Almighty is the One by whom we have our life and breath. His love and mercy save us into everlasting life. We should not come to faith in our Lord out of fear or for the sake of reward, but rather because we are grateful for the grace of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Just like the teachers that made me do well in school, so too God has the perfect method of discipline that brings His children into a relationship where we desire to serve Him with our whole beings. Thanks be to God.


October 12, 2002

Word Puzzles  My mother really enjoyed doing word puzzles. She would always do the Cryptograms in the daily newspaper. She said it kept her mind active. She was always very good at games like Scrabble and Boggle. When she was still alive, and my parents owned their small country bar, one of her favorite activities was to play Wheel of Fortune with her customers. She rarely lost, and usually it was because she let them win.

Our latest issue of Reader’s Digest has a word challenge that she would have really enjoyed. They listed pairs of words and gave these instructions. “In each pair of words below, shift a single letter from one word to the other (without rearranging the remaining letters) to turn them into synonyms. You can life the letter from either word. (If you do the Reader’s Digest Challenges, skip to the next paragraph. ) So, with the pair GROVE and ROUT, moving the O from ROUT to GROVE gives the player GROOVE and RUT. It amazed me that it would be so easy to find two words that would so easily be changed into synonyms. They found sixteen. SHLOCK and JOT becomes SHOCK and JOLT. WEARY and CARFUL becomes WARY and CAREFUL. TROUGH and STUDY become TOUGH and STURDY.

I couldn’t help but think about the person who created this puzzle. It is hard enough to find the answers to such things, but how do you come put with the puzzle? The designer must really enjoy working with words and codes, and he or she probably sees patterns in everything they read. It becomes so much a part of their lives that everything they do brings possible puzzles to their mind.

As it is with our life in Christ. As we grow in faith and our relationship with our Lord Jesus, we begin to see Him in everything around us – the creation, our families, the events of each day that seem to others as coincidence. We realize that He is with us constantly and has become so much a part of our lives that we are never alone. We also realize that the things we do, the fruit we bear, come from being part of Him.

Read John 15:1-8

My mom enjoyed word puzzles because they kept her mind active and her brain working. Puzzle makers make words so much a part of their lives that they see the patterns in everything they read. As Christians we are to live so closely to our Lord Jesus Christ, that we are to see Him in everything around us and glorify Him with every thought, word and deed. If we stop thinking, our mind goes to waste. If a puzzle maker stops looking for the patterns, it becomes more difficult to find them. If we move away from the Lord Jesus, seeking to satisfy our flesh and desires rather than glorifying God, we will stop bearing fruit for Him. I pray that we will always be branches on the vine of our Lord Jesus Christ and bear much fruit for His glory. Thanks be to God.


October 13, 2002

Promises  Vicki and I went shopping yesterday afternoon. We had heard that a dance supply shop was having a sale on tights, so we went to see what we could find. In the process we discovered a lovely little shop filled with gift items. We decided to go in to see what they might have, perhaps start a little Christmas shopping. When we walked into the store we found a million little items, most of them related to Christmas. It was room after room of pretty objects, trees covered in ornaments, gift books with Christmas stories, jewelry and yummy treats. Vicki and I went into one room and found a doorway into yet another. I commented, “This place goes on forever.” A sales clerk giggled and said, “Yes, it does.”

We spent a long time in the store, looking at every crevice, picking up blown glass ornaments, tasting the cheese logs and dips that were on display. We talked about Christmas, wondered what gifts we should by our family, even found a gift for someone. Though it is a little early, the promise of Christmas is right lingering in the air. The children have started hinting about the things that they would like to see under the Christmas tree. Christmas is about promises, but most of all it is about the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the most incredible promise.

Read Isaiah 25:6-9

I had barely thought about Christmas until we visited that store yesterday. After seeing so many beautiful things, I’m excited about the possibilities. Now I’m ready to find the perfect gifts for our family and friends. The promise of a lovely Christmas lingers in the air.

That is nothing compared to the incredible promise we are given in this scripture today. Our Lord God Almighty is preparing a banquet of such bounty that we cannot even imagine how rich the good and wine will be. In this life we join in the great banquet when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the communion table, but that is just a foretaste of what is to come. In this world we still suffer from many things, but in Christ we can live in a peace that is beyond our understanding. We can trust God to get us through, and know that He is there with us every moment. The glorious day of salvation is here, because our Lord Jesus fulfilled the promise of God to swallow death forever. However our journey of faith is like our wait for Christmas. Even though Christmas has not yet arrived, we can enjoy a bit of the beauty and joy that is promised. God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and they will be fulfilled one day soon. Let us trust Him for He has saved us. Thanks be to God.


October 14, 2002

Sneaky  I heard a story on the news this morning of a man who grew tired of his position in the Army. Since it is not easy to just quit such a job, the man decided to find some other way out. He began searching the Internet for a look-alike – a man who looked like him. He found one and allegedly attempted to kill this man, making the murder appear as a suicide. He attempted to fake his own death to get out of his commitments. Fortunately, his plan did not work. The look-alike survived the attack, the man was arrested and he will be getting out of the army – but not to freedom. Instead, he will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

One of the greatest mistakes that people make is to think that Satan does not exist. Reasonable people consider the character of Satan – the being with horns, a tail and dressed all in red – as too ridiculous to be real. The idea of a being that is in opposition to God has become a joke. Yet, this image is not the biblical description of God’s enemy. I think that Satan himself created such a comical characterization so that people would refuse to believe that he exists. If people reject the idea of an adversary, then it would be quite easy for him to get away with his deceptions, to lead people away from the truth with his lies.

The man pretended to be friends with his look-alike. They met in a chat room and had things in common. They met more than once; a relationship was building between the two. It was not real; the man wore a mask designed to gain enough trust to lure the look-alike into a place where the man could do his deed. Though the bible does give Satan a rather ugly look – as a snake dragon or serpent, we are also warned that he is charming, cunning and powerful. The book of Revelation tells us that Satan’s workmen on earth are able to perform miraculous signs and speak words that deceive the people.

Read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

A young man is recovering from a slashed throat because he trusted a person he met over the Internet. He though he had gained a new friend, but his friend had been lying all along. We need to be careful as we live so that those who seek to harm us in some way will not deceive us. When it comes to our personal relationships with other people, we can take precautions to remain safe against such threats to our lives. Most people would agree that such actions are reasonable. Yet, when it comes to being aware of Satan’s trickery, the same people are likely to laugh it off as ludicrous. We are more likely to do whatever is necessary to protect our flesh, which is perishable, rather than guard our selves from the evil one. Christ defeated Satan and death on the cross, yet Satan still roams seeking to deceive as many as he can into following the road of destruction and rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ and His love. Do not be deceived, stand firm in the love of Christ Jesus and rest assured that no matter what evil may befall you in this world, in Him you have true life. Thanks be to God.


October 15, 2002

Today’s Word was first posted on October 15, 2000. The message is still important, so I am reposting it today.

Prayer  We are living in a time of great turmoil around the world. The Middle East is exploding with violence. People are dying over land and religion. Africa is laid waste by drought and famine, much caused by the greed of men in leadership positions. Thousands of Christians are being persecuted in Asian countries, put to death for their faith. Christian leaders in China are being kidnapped, beaten and murdered. False prophets and apostles are leading people astray. Flooding, hurricane, earthquake and other natural disasters are happening frequently. We have a lot to pray about.

In America, and other western countries, we suffer from other turmoil. Our families are falling apart because of the ease of divorce. Children are being killed before they are even born in abortion clinics. The Internet is opening new avenues for sin – cybersex and intimate relationships that bring division to marriages. We are greedy, self-focused, hateful, bitter and angry. Pain and sickness abounds, every day when we learn of someone with cancer or some other disease. The flu season is upon us, and it seems like everyone is suffering in one way or another. We have a lot to pray about.

In our personal lives, our faith is wavering because we see so much of this turmoil and we wonder when it will stop. We pray, but things seem to get worse. We cry out to God, but the world just laughs in our face. We are bombarded with accusations that our God is not capable of dealing with these troubles. We are ridiculed for our prayers, because they say God does not hear.

In 2 Kings 18-19, we find the story of King Hezekiah of Judah. When he was king, the Assyrians were a great and powerful nation, overpowering every nation that stood in their way. Hezekiah did what was right before the LORD, removing every pagan altar and monument. He prayed to God and sought His protection and guidance. Israel at this time was an independent nation, but they had not obeyed God’s law so they fell under the hands of the Assyrians. When the Assyrians came to Judah, Hezekiah rebelled. He was willing to fight, even though the odds seemed great.

The king of Assyria asked on whom they were depending, since every nation had been defeated. Hezekiah said, “The LORD.” The Assyrians then spoke to the people directly telling them that God would not save them. The king’s representative told them to give up the fight and join them. But Hezekiah refused to listen. Instead he went to the Temple and prayed to God for deliverance from the hands of the Assyrians.

Read 2 Kings 19:14-19

At times the troubles in our world seem overwhelming. But when we pray, great things happen. God did deliver Hezekiah and the Jews from the hands of the Assyrians. He will deliver us, in His time and way. We can never give up. When the world seems overwhelming and everything is out of control, pray. When your burdens seem too heavy to carry and you want to give up, pray. When you are at the end of your rope – sick, tired, worried, afraid or impatient – pray. Don’t let the world make you believe God does not hear your prayers. He does. So, pray and believe. God is in control. Thanks be to God.


October 16, 2002

Personal profile  I took a personal profile survey yesterday morning for a company where I am considering taking a part-time job. They company helps military members with every aspect of financial planning – debt consolidation, budgeting, insurance and investments. They offered me the survey to see if I was right for the company and where I would best fit in to the organization. I have taken similar tests before, and I could tell this one was specifically designed for financial services, many of the answers dealt with wealth and success. All these surveys try to do determine similar things, such as if you are a leader or a follower, if you are self-motivated or one who needs supervision, if you can think on your feet or need very specific instruction. Yet, they all also have a definite focus. Several I have taken focused on spiritual gifts and calling. Others I have seen have more of an artistic focus. Yet others are designed for those interested in teaching.

I wasn’t so sure the first time I took such a survey if it was really a valid way to discover a person’s personality. The questions seem almost ridiculous. In a series of thirty questions, some answers are repeated numerous times. One section required that I choose the answer that best suited me, and the one that least suited me. I found it humorous that on one question an answer was absolutely not an answer I would give, but on another question it was the best I could choose – the other answers were so much more unlike me. It will be interesting to see what they discover about me. Every other survey has proven quite accurate and helpful.

Though the Pharisees and other temple leaders did not sit Jesus down with a personality profile survey, they did their own testing during His ministry. They asked Him questions to determine his thoughts, personality, and loyalties. There were things about Jesus that lined up to the prophecies in their scriptures and yet there was something very different. They expected a Messiah, a son of David, to come as king and to lead them into independence as a nation again. They expected things to be as they were in the days of David – where the temple and its ministers were highly honored and were central to the life of the nation. When Jesus began telling parables that put them down, warning them of their faulty religious life, they decided He was not the Messiah. Thing is, they were looking for the wrong thing in a Savior.

Read Matthew 22:41-45

The Pharisees thought they knew all about God, but they really did not know Him. When Jesus came, they were looking for someone completely different. They were looking for someone like them, someone who would do what they expect. Do we do the same thing with our God? Do we expect Him to be what we want Him to be, and perhaps miss out on the blessings of knowing Him as He is? The Pharisees became quiet because Jesus was asking them to believe that He was God. After all, David would not have called his son “Lord.”

Personal profiles can be a handy tool for both an employer and an employee. They help us determine the right job for people so that they will be successful and productive. Usually, however, they are looking for specific things. It is possible that I am not suited to work for this company. The Pharisees wanted to know what to make of Jesus, but when He didn’t fit their expectation they rejected Him. They wanted a king to save them from the Romans, but to let them continue to live as they wanted to live. Jesus showed them that their expectation was false. They were looking in the wrong place for their king. Do we ever do the same? Do we see Jesus as He really is – as Lord of all? Or are we looking for a Savior who will deliver us from the things we want to be delivered from, One who will leave everything else alone? Jesus is Lord of all. Thanks be to God.


October 17, 2002

Spider  Have you ever watched a spider build its web? It can be a fascinating experience, to see a creature work so diligently to build the beautiful and complex structure used to capture its prey. Though the tiny threads appear delicate, they are actually very strong. The more the trapped creatures struggle against the web, the tighter the web holds. Yet, those webs can easily be blown away by the wind. Spiders are often used as examples of perseverance because even when the web is destroyed, they start again to rebuild. Sometimes they need to replace their web daily.

There is a story that comes out of thirteenth century Scotland. There was a dispute about which man should be king. King Edward of England took advantage of the situation, stepped in and took over the crown. He stole the royal jewels and even the Stone of Scone, the ancient symbol of Scottish rule. The Scottish rebels crowned Robert Bruce and began a war against England. Robert Bruce was wounded and nearly captured, but escaped to spend a winter in hiding. After a time in the cold, dark dump eating only potatoes, he was nearly without hope. He noticed a spider building a web that was constantly blown away by the wind, yet time after time the spider kept trying. Robert Bruce realized he was like that spider, though he failed there was always another chance. He gathered whatever troops he could find and they fought back the English.

As Christians we often stumble through difficult situations during our journey in this world. It is like we are fighting a battle or building a web but something stands in the way of our reaching our goals. It would be easy to lose hope, to become depressed or give up. We might even turn in another direction, giving in to the enemy. For a spider, that would mean death, for his web is his source of food. For a man like Robert Bruce giving in to the English meant giving up his ancient heritage. For many Scots, such a loss was as bad as death.

Read Philippians 1:27-30

For the Christian, it is in those times when things seem hopeless that we can best see our greatest hope. We persevere through persecution and disease in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, overcoming that which seeks to defeat us. Robert Bruce could have given up, lost the battle and lost Scotland to England forever. However, he saw the perseverance of the tiny spider and led his people into an amazing victory. When we overcome our difficulties the world sees God glorified in our lives. He has defeated our enemies at the cross, gave us His Spirit that we might walk in faith and stand firm in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our struggles can be great blessings, for they make us stronger and our enemies will see that we have been saved by the power and mercy of Christ, and that they have no hope to bring destruction to our lives. Thanks be to God.


October 18, 2002

Cat  I am going away for the weekend, so I spent the day preparing everything for my trip. I am going alone, so I wanted to make sure the house was in order for Bruce and the kids. I did laundry, cleaned a bit, made a decent meal for us all. Plus I packed and prepared myself for the convention I will be attending. Felix was right there all day, watching me work, curious about all the activity. When I did laundry, he slept on the clothes. When I packed my suitcase, Felix jumped inside. When I vacuumed the floor, he sat and watched. Felix’s presence was there all day long.

Our last cat, named LaToya, was much different. LaToya rarely made an appearance, particularly if there were strangers in the house. People came to visit and stay a week and barely even caught a glimpse of her. I had several friends would come over regularly, who were never really sure that we even had a cat. I talked about LaToya; they saw the cat toys all over the living room. They even saw the food and water bowls. One day my friends told me that they weren’t so sure about the cat. They thought that I was the one playing with the cat toys and using the food bowls. It was a joke, but one day I did get the cat out of hiding just so that they would rest assured that I wasn’t nuts.

God’s relationship with His creation changed over the years. In the beginning, He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. Once sin entered the picture and God put them out of the garden, man could no longer see His face. He appeared in some form before some of our forefathers and He sent angels to give them messages, but even Moses could not look at Him face to face or he would die. As time passed, man grew farther from their heavenly Father, so much so that His very character was lost in their religiosity and ideology. When the time was right, God sent His Son so that people could see God once again, in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His love, mercy and grace.

Read John 1:14-18

It was hard for my friends to believe that we really had a cat because they had never seen her with their own eyes. Two thousand years ago, such a great divide had been built between God and His children that they could no longer see Him as He was. When Jesus came, many did not recognize Him because their ideas about God were so far removed from what was true. But God revealed Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ. We see Him today in the scriptures, in the stories about His live, in the love so great that He gave His Son to die on the cross to destroy death, forgive our sin, and redeem our lives. We see Him in the mercy of Jesus Christ who willingly gave Himself that we might have life. We see Him in His grace, the grace that brings us into eternal life through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. All those who came before us – all the forefathers that could see God in one way or another – never saw God completely. Only Jesus could know the fullness of God because He is the fullness of God. Today we can see Him in Jesus. Thanks be to God.


October 19, 2002

No daily posted.


October 20, 2002

No daily posted.


October 21, 2002

Retreat  I went away this weekend to Tulsa for a convention with other women from our church. Several hundred women gathered to take care of some business and to renew ourselves with a retreat program designed to help the women understand and grow in their spiritual personalities. Toward the end of the retreat, the facilitators reminded us that we would be going back into the real world, where the demands on our time would be as they were before we went to Tulsa. Our families would need us, our jobs would still be waiting (paperwork stacked on our desks), and the noise of this world would still be there. The question they had for us was “How will you take what you learned this weekend into your world?”

It is very difficult to leave the serenity and fellowship of such a weekend. We prayed together, laughed together and worshipped God together. Even though we missed our family and friends, we knew what was waiting at the end of the journey. The week ahead is filled with responsibilities – places to go, people to serve. There is a pile of laundry, a sink full of dishes and projects that need to be completed. At times I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to just skip the retreat and stay home keeping up with the work I need to do. Then I realized that the renewal of time away in prayer, worship and fellowship is necessary so that I will continue to have the strength to do all that God has called me to do.

Jesus took time away. He went on mountainsides and into gardens to pray alone. He left the everyday responsibilities of ministry to be with His Father. His times of retreat gave Him the strength to continue the work that He came to do. I can’t imagine that Jesus wanted to go back into the world any more than we did after this weekend. Who would want to leave that peace, serenity and joy that comes from being in the presence of the Almighty in such a wonderful way? Yet, Jesus always went back into the fray, built up and ready to face the challenges of life.

Read John 6:22-24

I have a million little things to do today, and I am having the most difficult time getting started. I still want to bask in the joy and peace I felt over the weekend and ignore the hectic pace of my life. Yet I know that it is because of the time I spent in retreat, worship and prayer that I can go on. I was reminded of the presence of God in my life, His strength and the gifts that He has given so that I am prepared to take on the world.

Jesus knew he’d face the crowds once again and He didn’t shy away from His responsibilities. He also knew that the people would seek Him for all the wrong reasons and demand the wrong things. But He went back into the world after His times alone in prayer and continued His ministry to those for whom He was sent. We all have work we have been called and gifted to do in this world. The most important work we have is to believe in Jesus, to know His presence in every aspect of our life – in those times of retreat as well as those times when we are doing laundry, dishes or whatever projects we have to complete. With faith in Jesus as the foundation of our lives, then we will be able to face everything with the same joy and peace we feel when we are alone with Him. I am so thankful for the time spent with my sisters in Christ, but I am even more thankful to know that God is still with me while I face the laundry, dishes and projects. Thanks be to God.


October 22, 2002

Eastern Lightning  People who have been called to missionary service far from home are sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in places like China. Unfortunately, there are many that would see the furtherance of the Gospel halted and they are doing so in evil ways. A group called Eastern Lightning are deceiving the Christian fellowships by becoming part of the group as if they have been saved and are growing in faith. After months or even a year of building trust, they seek the aid of the leadership and convince them to go to other villages to share the Gospel. Once they are separated from the group, they are kidnapped, beaten and even killed, leaving the small village churches without any leadership. One story tells how four missionaries were drawn away from the fellowship and once in the new village they were convinced to split up to do more ministry. “If you each visit separate villages, more will hear the Gospel.” When they were alone, they were vulnerable.

Jesus sent His disciples on mission trips in groups of two or more. The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, they would be safer with a friend. The dangers of the road were great for anyone traveling on foot. Also, two sharing the Gospel act as witnesses to what is being spoken. Two disciples together provide the physical, spiritual and emotional support needed so that they can witness boldly for the Lord.

J. Hudson Taylor wrote of his own experiences in mission to China in the book “To China with Love.” When he heard the call from God, it made him sad because obedience would mean that he would need to leave his mentor and friend to respond to that call. He was rejecting the call until one day he heard the hymn “The Missionary Call” which speaks of giving up friends willingly for the sake of the Kingdom. With tears, Hudson shared his call and his unwillingness to go. His friend, Rev. William Burns, answered those tears with the joyful news that he too had been called to ministry in China and that he too regretted that they would have to part company. They went together and served the Lord.

Read Luke 10:1-4

There are many that feel so alone in this world, as if they are the only ones able to accomplish the work of the Lord. They are like islands in a sea. Yet, we know that no man is an island and that God does not send us out alone to minister. We have the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, through prayer, encouragement and even correction. We have the protection of God our Father, but even Jesus warned the disciples to be careful in the travels, or else those who seek to stop the expansion of the Kingdom of God might bring them harm. We are not alone. God our Heavenly Father, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are gifted and called into world to minister to those who are lost in the darkness of sin and death. But God also gives us friends, partners or mentors to go with us along the way. Thanks be to God.


October 23, 2002

Miracle Pets  Those who have been around for a few years will remember a television show called “Lassie.” The show was about a miraculous dog named Lassie whose actions were almost human. Lassie always saved the young boy, brought help for the sick or stopped bad things from happening. Of course, Lassie was just a television show, the actions were set up and portrayed by actors. However, stories of miracle pets abound. I have heard tales told of dogs that were lost in one part of the country that managed to find home again and birds that wake their owners in times of danger by loudly squawking. Dogs are often credited with protecting their families or caring for a sick child.

The latest story was on the news this morning. A cat saved its family from a fire by meowing loudly and knocking heavy objects on the floor. Unfortunately, when the smoke cleared and the investigation was complete, it was discovered that the cat was the one that started the fire. He was playing on the stove and somehow set it off. Though the cat did save its family, the danger was existed as the consequences of its bad behavior. I do not know what will become of the cat. The family may choose to give it away out of anger, or they may choose to keep it out of their love. I do not know how I would react.

We all are sinners and we all sin. We suffer the consequences of our sin, but that suffering also touches the lives of others in this world. We often think that the bad things we do won’t hurt another – that it is between us and God – yet our sin does affect our relationships with God, our neighbor, the creation and ourselves. We may never even know how that disharmony has affected the life of another. It is possible that our words or actions could cause someone to be angry or depressed, which could lead them to drunkenness of violence and the death of a completely innocent bystander. This is certainly an extreme, but the consequences of sin are far reaching. From that day in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to be like God, human beings have suffered separation from God our Heavenly Father.

God could have chosen to dismiss us completely or He could have chosen to reconcile us because of love. From the beginning of time, He has worked to bring us back into a relationship with Him. When the time was right, He sent His Son to die on the cross that we might be forgiven our sin. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to have harmonious relationships with God, each other, creation and ourselves once again.

Read Colossians 1:21-23

We do not know what will happen to the cat that started the fire and then saved the family. We do know what will happen to those who have faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By His Word and mercy we have been saved from the alienation that comes from sin, forgiven and reconciled with God. In this world, He continues to sanctify our lives, so that with each passing day we come closer to that perfection that we will have one day in Christ. Until then we have the hope that comes with the promise that we will never be cast away from the love of God and as we walk in faith we serve the Lord, our neighbor, God’s beautiful creation and even ourselves in harmony and peace. Thanks be to God.


October 24, 2002

Voice  Yesterday afternoon I realized I had forgotten something at the grocery store. I desperately needed to go and get it so that I could begin dinner and have it ready at the right time. Zachary was outside playing somewhere. I yelled several times, but he did not answer. Since the store was very close, our neighborhood very safe and Zachary usually responsible, I left the door open and quickly ran to get what I needed. When I returned, Zack appeared from behind the neighbor’s house, surprised that I was angry with him. “I was just behind my friend’s house. I did not hear you.” He was ordered to his room with work to do and no chance for outside play the rest of the day. He knows the rules – if I can’t see him, he needs to tell me where he is going to be.

Things were quite confusing for the Israelites during the Exodus. Conservative estimates make the number of Israelites traveling through the desert close to a million. Such a large group in such impossible conditions necessitated some form of leadership. God chose Moses. With the help of Aaron and others, the Israelites moved as a unit, from place to place, finding comfort in whatever way possible. After a time, they began to grumble. There was always someone around who wanted to challenge Moses’ leadership. “Why have you brought us to the desert to die?” “Who are you to be our leader?” They thought they could do better.

Moses and the LORD tired of the grumbling. Moses often asked the LORD, “What can I do with these people?” One day the LORD provided a miracle to firmly establish the authority of Moses and those who were obedient to his leadership.

Read Numbers 17:1-9

Zachary is growing older, taking more responsibility in his words and actions. He still respects my authority but is reaching out for more freedom. Though I am willing to give him some room to grow up, there are some things that are necessary in this day and age. I do need to know where he is in case there is an emergency. He needs to come when I call and do the things I ask him to do. I am not expecting God to provide such a dramatic proof of my authority to my son. Zack is just one kid, the small form of disciplined used yesterday afternoon will help tremendously – for awhile (after all, he is nine). In the case of Moses and the Israelites, there were simply too many people to get through this journey for there to be such constant grumbling and rebellion. It was necessary for God to firmly establish the authority of Moses and those whom he appointed.

While we must carefully discern the teachings of those who are established as the leaders of our church and communities, we must also remember that God establishes authority. Though God is not likely to bring life to a walking stick, there are ways for us to see the work of God in a leader’s life. Do they preach the Gospel of Christ? Does the teaching bring life or death? Do the words line up with what has been given to us through the scriptures and the witness of Christ’s church? When the grumbling became too much for Moses and the LORD, those who were disobedient were destroyed and God provided the clear authority to the one whom He had chosen. Be careful to whom you listen. Zack missed my voice and suffered the consequences. If you miss the voice of the LORD and follow those in rebellion, you will end up humbled just like those who thought they could replace Moses as leader. God knows what He is doing when He calls, gifts and anoints His chosen leaders. May we always hear His voice and follow Him rightly. Thanks be to God.


October 25, 2002

Snipers  Two men have been arrested in connection with the case of the snipers who have been terrorizing the residents of the Washington area. Several important clues were found with the help of callers’ tips, connecting the two men with actions all over the country and the world. A murder in Alabama, a bank account in Jamaica, several notes and even a call from one of the snipers were all put together to provide police with the names of those whom they suspected had been randomly shooting people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. The police released the necessary information to the public, including the license plate number from the car. A witness in a rest area early Thursday morning recognized the car, called the police and the two men have been arrested. After a thorough search of the car, the police have found the gun and discovered that the car was rigged to hide the gun and make it impossible for bystanders to see the gun in action. Ballistics tests have shown that the gun matches that which killed the victims.

As the police announced the findings of their investigation, they named each victim with bowed heads and respect. Though they were glad to finally solve the case, they regretted that they could not solve it more quickly so that more lives could have been saved. The story is not yet complete; the snipers must be prosecuted according the U.S. law. It would be easy for the people of that area, particularly the families, to scream out for revenge. On the early morning shows, several family members were interviewed about their thoughts this morning. When asked if they thought they two men should face the death penalty, every one said that it was up to God and the God-given authority of those who serve in the American justice system. They spoke of their faith with a gentle calm that witnessed to their trust in God. It was faith that saw them through and will continue to carry them as they deal with their own personal grief and the justice system in the days and months to come.

Read Psalm 9:7-12

Too many people died in the past few weeks. In the days and weeks to come, we will hear more about the men who allegedly perpetrated this crime against so many people. Those who died were not the only victims; all the residents of Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland have lived in fear due to the random nature of the shootings. Even people who live outside the afflicted area have wondered if it could happen to them. Lives were upset as the normal routine was changed so that people could avoid being outside for any length of time. Children could not play outside, activities were canceled, and shopping malls were even affected as people refused to take the risk of walking in the parking lot to the stores.

It will take a long time for many to overcome the fear of living through such terrorism. It is good to know, however, that at least a few of those who have suffered great loss at the hands of these men are able to give it over to God and trust in Him to bring justice. Those family members are living a life of faith in which God is Sovereign. Each has established some way to honor the memory of those they lost. Instead of living in anger, seeking vengeance, they have decided to use this horrible incident in some way to bring glory to God. Thanks be to God.


October 26, 2002

Nursing Home Ministry  In 1978, Mrs. Flossie Cassel wrote an article ministry in a nursing home. She was ninety-one at the time and was active in teaching classes and doing other speaking engagements. She began her ministry when she started receiving prayer requests from missionaries, which she took before the Lord three times a day. She had heard a speaker talk about tithing time as well as money, so she asked the Lord how she could serve Him. She heard Him say that she should pray three hours a day. So, that day she began praying an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon and an hour in the evening.

Eventually her other ministries took up too much time. She wrote, “I began to slip up on my prayer time in the afternoon. Soon I was too ill to teach or speak.” She waited patiently in prayer for God to tell her why she was unable to teach or speak. She realized that God would not let her return to those ministries until she got back on track to the three hours a day she had committed to prayer. She asked forgiveness and promised, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to never forget and at ninety-one she was still ministering through prayer from her nursing home room.

When asked about prayer by Peter Beskendorf – Martin Luther’s barber – Martin answered, “It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business in the morning and the last in the evening. Guard yourself against such false and deceitful thoughts that keep whispering; Wait a while. In an hour or so I will pray. I must first finish this or that. Thinking such thoughts we get away from prayer into other things that will hold us and involve us till the prayer of the day comes to naught.”

Our time alone with God in prayer is the most important part of our day. Jesus often took time to pray. It was where He got His strength to go on with His ministry to the people. That time alone was necessary to build Him up to face the challenges, it is where He grew in wisdom and understanding of His purpose. He knew that nothing should stand in the way of that time alone with His Father. He knew to find a place where He could pray without distractions – to be in God’s presence and to hear His voice.

Read Mark 1:35-39

By waking to a conversation with God, remembering who we are in Christ and asking His blessings for the day, we are built up with the strength, courage and wisdom to walk in faith each day. As we end the day in prayer, we recall our failures, ask for forgiveness and receive the blessings of rest into a new day in Christ. Mrs. Flossie Cassel put the other ministries ahead of her times of prayer, and she became sick. Martin Luther knew that waiting would only lead to our completely forgetting that time that should be set aside alone with our Father, hearing His voice. We all allow the distractions of the world to get in our way.

I have heard it said that many ‘walk in prayer’ all day long, that their method of prayer is to talk to God in the midst of their other activities. While this is a lifestyle we should all live, we also need that time away, alone in a solitary place. We can’t hear God as we are always talking to Him on the run. Take time today – each day – alone with God in prayer, for He is always willing to listen but He also has something to say. Thanks be to God.


October 27, 2002

Reform  William Carey was a reformer. He was born in England in 1761, the son of a poor weaver from a tiny village north of London. As he grew, he rejected religion but became the apprentice of a Christian shoemaker. John Warr unsuccessfully witnessed to William about the love of Christ, but one day William agreed to go with John to church. The preaching that day spoke deeply into William’s heart and he gave his life to Christ. He was baptized and eventually began preaching and doing pastoral work in local Baptist Churches.

At that time very few churches were interested in missionary work or evangelism. The attitude of the day was something like, “When God pleases to convert the heathens, he’ll do it without consulting men.” In other words, the non-believers were left to their own devises. This attitude disturbed Carey who pointed out to his fellow preachers the biblical mandate to the Church for sharing the Gospel. When Carey’s ideas were rejected he asked, “Is nothing going to be done?” Eventually, through the work of William Carey, the ministers formed a Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel among the heathens. William used God’s Word with his fellow preachers and brought reform to the church which opened the door for international evangelism among the Baptist church in England. William went to India to be a missionary, founded schools, including one that still trains ministers, and translated the bible. He published the first Indian newspaper, helped the farmers start a savings bank and even helped stop the practice of burning widows. Mary Drewery, a biographer, wrote about William Carey, “The number of actual conversions attributed to him is pathetically small; the number indirectly attributable to him must be legion.”

Throughout the history of the Church there have always been reformers. Some brought good change and others brought bad. Today the Lutheran church celebrated the life and ministry of a man who brought incredible change to the Church – Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked 95 thesis to the door of the church in Wittenburg, attempting to engage the other theologians in some debate about the issues of his day. That one act spurred a revolution in the Church, but Martin Luther’s reforms went far deeper than that. Martin realized that the gifts of God’s love – forgiveness, mercy and salvation – are not things that can be purchased, and they aren’t once and done events. Salvation is an ongoing process, one that begins with God, is moved by God and glorifies God. Through Christ we are reformed daily, transformed by His Spirit who lives with our hearts.

Read Jeremiah 31:33-34

What an incredible promise we hear from Jeremiah in today’s text. God has made this new covenant with His people. He did so at the cross of Christ when He provided forgiveness for all our sin and at Pentecost when He gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. He lives within each believer, molding and reforming us each day. We know Him because He has written Himself into our hearts and our minds with His Word.

William Carey and Martin Luther brought reform to the Church, as have many throughout history. The Church will continue to be reformed as God moves in the hearts of each generation to guide and direct believers who are called and gifted to bring healing and reconciliation to this world plagued with sin and death. Martin Luther helped us to see that reform is ongoing, that God is at the center of it all. William Carey helped us to see the need for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that reform can come to those lives of those who are dying from their sin. What sort of reform will you bring as God reforms you with His abiding Spirit each day?


October 28, 2002

Paintings  My favorite paintings are those that come from the French Impressionists. They have produced some of the most moving pictures I have ever seen. Their use of color and texture bring the viewer in the story. In the landscapes, you can feel the cool breeze and smell the blossoms on the tree. In the cityscapes, you can hear the bustling of the crowd. The portraits each have a story to tell; the faces of the people are filled with emotion. As I view such masterpieces, I find myself wandering into their life, wondering why they are sad or happy or angry. I want to know what they are looking at just beyond the frame of the picture. I want to run through the field of poppies or sit in the shade of the tree and enjoy the conversation.

It is said, “A picture paints a thousand words.” In my opinion, this statement is particularly true of the work produced by those like Monet, Manet and Van Gogh and others from the mid nineteenth century who have given us so many beautiful paintings to spark our imagination and emotions. Though modern artists also produce work that makes us respond to the images on the canvas, there are none who affect me so deeply as the French Impressionists. The words that come to mind are often ‘peace, rest, love, family, hope, beauty and joy.’

I also enjoy the art that has come out of the church over the centuries. Many artists have produced paintings in glass and on canvas as well as the sculpture to tell the story of God’s people in a way that will move the viewers to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people throughout history did not have the ability to read the scriptures for themselves, either they were illiterate or did not understand that language in which the Bible was written. It has only been in the last few centuries that the Bible has been translated into the vernacular of the people and it was only recently that people were able to own their own bibles to read and study for themselves. For many centuries, the people were moved by the art. They learned the stories by looking at the windows and murals in the churches.

What a joy it is to know that God can move in the hearts of people who are not able to read or study the scriptures for themselves. He has dwelt in the hearts of many throughout the history of the church even though they were never able to discuss theological ideas or explain the things of God. They were moved by His Spirit and the great and glorious gifts that God our Father gives to those who have faith in Christ.

Read Ephesians 3:14-21

The Impressionists were able to paint in a way that still moves my emotions and thoughts so that as I view their great masterpieces I wonder and rejoice at their gifts. The painters who created the magnificent works found in the churches throughout the world have told the story of God over and over again in a way that has caused millions to grow in faith and understanding of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even moreso, however, the words of scripture that bring us to faith create an even greater response from us. We hear God’s word and are drawn into the very heart of God, and as He dwells in us we also dwell in Him, given everything we need to walk in faith in this world. The words of God – grace, peace, joy, love, mercy, hope and faith – paint the most beautiful pictures in the world and we are filled with the fullness of God and bask in His glory. Thanks be to God.


October 29, 2002

Book  I have a book on French Impressionism. It is a very large coffee table book that includes full-page color prints of the paintings as well as other works of the artists. There are sketches that show the preliminary work and growth of the artists’ talents. The author also added biographies and information about the artists’ work. These books tend to be very expensive, and though I purchased it many years ago at a discount store, I still paid quite a bit of money for it.

During one of our many moves, the book disappeared. When I set up our library, I could not find the book in any of the boxes. I even looked in other boxes where the packers may have hidden it, but no luck. We have moved four times since then, and each time I unpacked the books I wondered where it might be. A few weeks ago I was straightening our shelves, dusting and picking through our books to see if there were any to give away, I saw the book sitting on the shelf. I don’t remember unpacking it. I don’t know where it was found or where it has been all these years. I thought it had been stolen, but it must have been in a box we hadn’t opened for awhile. Though it was lost the book was always mine, and now it has been returned to me.

I know a man from the Internet who was a gifted, faithful Christian. Unfortunately, the cares and concerns of this world were too hard on this man’s mind and he has suffered from depression and other psychological maladies. He began asking questions about God, faith and religion that led him to doubt everything he believed. To hear him speak today, especially those who do not know his past, he seems to have rejected God and everything that is good about Christianity. He is self-centered, raunchy and mean to those who try to convert him. Yet, there are times when a flicker of light shines through, moments of true compassion, love and hope. He doesn’t want to hate God and he has often helped me through my own times of doubt. Perhaps I am naïve, but when every one else is rejecting this man and claiming he is evil, I still have hope that Christ will bring him back home.

Read John 6:35-40

My book was lost for many years, but I never forgot about it. One day it reappeared, a joy to see and read. As I wrote yesterday’s devotional, I flipped through the pages and beheld the beauty of the paintings, I rejoiced that my book had been found again. The man on the Internet is lost and though I do worry that his actions may affect someone he meets along the way, I trust that God will protect His children. I also believe that God has not forgotten this man, that though he is lost today he will be found and brought home, loved and cared for by the One in whom he once believed. This man on the Internet is not the only one who suffers from such dis-ease in their soul, brought on by doubt, anger and fear. Please pray with me that all those who have wandered away from faith in Christ Jesus will be brought home very soon by the mercy of God so that they might live once again in the loving embrace of their Father. We know this prayer will be answered, for God will not allow any that has been given to our Lord Jesus Christ to be lost. Thanks be to God.


October 30, 2002

Bread  I went to a store a few days ago to get a specific kind of roll for some sandwiches I had planned for dinner. Unfortunately, the store was out of the kind I wanted so I had to settle for something else. The sandwiches were fine, but not nearly as good as they would have been with the right kind of bread. It is truly amazing to consider how many different kinds of bread are available for purchase. You can get white, wheat, whole grain, light, dark, hard, soft, long, sourdough, rye, unleavened or fruit breads. You can get rolls and loaves in every shape and size. The bread aisle at our local Walmart Supercenter is twenty-five feet long. Add to that bread you can buy at the bakery, in the frozen food section and all the kinds you can make at home. With modern conveniences such as the bread machine, it is possible to have home-baked bread with little effort.

Bread has long been a staple of living. When there is nothing else to eat, somehow there always seems to be enough grain and oil to make a loaf of some sort of bread. The Bible is filled of stories about desperate people eating bread when there is nothing left. In 1 Kings 17, God kept the flour and oil jars full for Elijah and the widow of Zarepath. The bread they made from those jars kept them alive through the famine. When three visitors came to Abraham’s tent, Sarah made bread for them to eat. In Acts 27, the boat on which Paul was being taken to Rome for trial was beaten by a powerful storm. Paul blessed some bread and made the men eat it so that they would survive the trial they faced. When Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, Satan tempted him by telling him to make bread out of the rocks. Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He answered Satan’s taunts with the words, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In yesterday’s scripture, Jesus called Himself the bread of life. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God provided them with bread from heaven, manna. Though that was not like the bread we eat today, it was enough to sustain them and to teach them to trust the Lord God Almighty for all their needs.

Read John 6:41-51

Jesus’ character is defined through the book of John as He speaks about Himself through analogies the people would understand. Jesus is the bread of life. Bread is needed to sustain life as can be seen in the stories from the history of the Jews. But they also knew that bread was not enough for their lives, that the Word of God is what gives them strength in their hearts, minds and spirits. Those who believe in Jesus will be fed with the manna that will give them eternal life. Jesus is also the light, the gate, the shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life, and the vine. For the next few days we will look at how we can see the character of God in the way Jesus defined Himself in the book of John. Today He is the bread of life, the staple of our lives by which we are given eternal life in Christ and nourished for our journey of faith. Thanks be to God.


October 31, 2002

Autumn  The days have become much cooler, the trees are changing color and the dark of night is coming much earlier now that we are nearly halfway through autumn. The longer nights and cloudy weather is somewhat depressing. Experts say that living in such darkness for long periods of time can affect the physical and emotional well being of any human being. Yet, there is a darkness that is even worse than the natural darkness of the fall and winter seasons. It is the darkness of sin and death that is rampant in this world.

Today is Halloween, and though for many people it is just a fun day for dressing up and getting candy, for others it is truly a day when darkness is glorified. Haunted houses are open in every town where monsters haunt the visitors and death is used as entertainment. For those of the earth religions, this is the holiest night of the year. Pagan worship will be held in many places in the dark of this night. Though most of those worshippers are not evil – they may even be your neighbors or coworkers – the religion brings honor to darkness rather than light.

Nearly five hundred years ago, a monk named Martin Luther lived in a time when all the people were very superstitious. It was, in many ways, a time of darkness. Even the church was affected by the world. The leaders used fear to gain what they wanted – particularly in the selling of indulgences to pay for the building of a beautiful new cathedral. Indulgences were papers that granted forgiveness to anyone who had the money to pay. They were like a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card. Because the people were so superstitious, they fell for the sales technique, thinking that they could buy their freedom from hell.

During that time of darkness, however, men like Martin Luther were studying the scriptures and they realized that what was taught in the churches was not what was found in the scriptures. One day as he was reading the book of Romans, as if a light bulb was lit in his head, Martin Luther realized that there was nothing that we could do to buy Christ’s forgiveness or our salvation. He realized that we are justified by faith through grace, just like it says in Romans. He saw the light in the darkness and found true freedom from sin. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted a list of ideas called “the Ninety-Five Thesis” which were intended to spark debate with his fellow theologians. Thanks to the printing press and the political unrest of the time, Martin’s ideas spread like wildfire to start the Reformation.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The days are shorter at this time of year and darkness seems to reign. Jesus came in flesh during a time of darkness, when the Lord God Almighty was set aside while other gods were worshipped. Martin Luther lived in a time of darkness, when fear of death was so great that people were willing to buy themselves out of it. We also live in a time of darkness, when death is seen as a joke and evil is laughed about. Yet through it all, one thing remains true. Jesus is the light of the world. He floods the darkness with the light of His glory, which shines through the hearts of those who believe. In that light we know the truth that sets us free – that there is no life in darkness, death or sin, but only through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God.