Monday, April 29, 2013

Get a Grip!


[Photo of a cross training ski machine]

I admit that I don’t know much about exercise equipment, but when looking at a cross ski exerciser, I can’t help but see how impossible it would be to use this machine without gripping it with both hands. Women who use such equipment know that, in order to get full benefit from the workout, they need the balanced approach of a dual grip. I don’t think it would be very effective otherwise!

Yet, sometimes, we try to exercise faith with a single grip, and neither is that very effective. Let me explain.

From my own experience, I can say that at times I have no problem believing God can meet all my needs, has all power, and certainly is Almighty. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if He cares enough to WILL to use that power in my behalf.

Then, there are times when I believe in His love and compassion, but since I’ve never seen Him move the particular “mountain” I’m facing, I have trouble seeing with my eyes of faith His power acting with extraordinary power for me in that way.

One day as I was reading from a Puritan writer, I saw these words:

“Grip two handles with your faith. Take hold that he is able, omnipotent, omniscient, and all sufficient; but also take hold that he is willing to meet your needs by his mercy. Learn to draw arguments from these attributes.

“When you hold on to both his power and his mercy, faith can easily draw sweet and strong assurances from these. It is true that we are prone to doubt God’s willingness, but the Lord has provided for this remarkably.

“Where there is but one attribute to describe God’s power, there are many titles that prove his willingness: mercy, goodness, bounty, grace, love, loving kindness, compassion, bowels of compassion, patience, and long-suffering. Get faith fixed upon this double basis and it will stand firm. God is able AND willing.” 1

Get a grip! Exercise your faith! Learn to trust God, not only because He is all sufficient, but because He loves you AND wills to meet your needs. Keep both hands on the handles of your faith.

1 David Clarkson, as quoted in Voices from the Past. Rushing, Richard, editor. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. Pg. 112.



Monday, April 22, 2013



[Photo of a pitcher from Puerton Rico]

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

—2 Corinthians 4: 7

She knocked at my classroom door and stood waiting with her mom and older sister. I was overjoyed to see Joanna. Her loving nature made her one of my favorite students in the two years that I had known her. But, her family had suddenly decided to go back to Puerto Rico, and I thought I’d never see her again.

Now she had traveled back for a visit, and wanted to thank me for teaching her. She gave me a tiny pitcher, hand made out of clay, and decorated with a pretty floral design and the words “Puerto Rico.”

How thoughtful of her to remember me and bring me this tiny reminder of her. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of more than Joanna. It reminds me that when I seem as frail as that little pitcher, Christ can show His power within me.

Many times I have felt hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. This little clay pitcher reminds me that even in my frailty, I have the treasure of the glory of God in my life.

Let me remind and encourage you when your back and legs ache, your nerves fray, you’ve had sleepless nights, and you have more to do than you can possible handle. Yes, let me remind you that as the Apostle Paul gives testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

…when we are weak, then God is strong.

God wants to pour out a great blessing from your tiny pitcher of clay, and in so doing, reveal His all-surpassing power.



Monday, April 15, 2013

The Load


[Photo of a large purse]

I can still see the image from my teaching days of Mary Ann Peters’ third graders coming down the hall with her. She always assigned the line leader the task of carrying her purse. This was a daily assignment for one of her boys or girls.

Now, Mary Ann didn’t travel “light” as they say. She always had a hefty bag, often with a long shoulder strap. I can still see a small boy, shifting the weight from one arm to the other, as he proudly led the class through the hallways.

I didn’t detect that her students complained about the discomfort of this job. Instead, they seemed to love doing this for Mary Ann. They enjoyed the trust she had in them, even though her bag contained her most necessary and personal items.

Galatians 6:2 tells us:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

The word “law” conveys a pretty strong principle that Christ desires for His people. A “law” in His Kingdom is a way of life, a manner in which He lived on earth, and a way He expects His subjects to live.

Another image fresh in my mind from the recent TV mini-series, The Bible is that of Simon from Cyrene carrying Jesus’ cross to Golgotha. This scene, in my opinion, was well portrayed. As Jesus struggled to carry the heavy wooden cross, this man was pulled from the crowd and given the task of helping.

What a comfort this stranger must have been to Jesus in His physical pain, His fear, and His humiliation. Even though Simon struggled clumsily, like the little boy with the teacher’s purse, he helped, and that was enough.

Are you ready today, if Christ asks you, to help carry someone’s burden? You may not feel up to the task, may not do it well, may struggle and feel awkward, but you may be a very real lifeline to someone in need of a traveling companion.

God bless you on the journey!



Monday, April 8, 2013

As the Watch Ticks


[Photo of a pendant watch]

Remember that antique pendant watch we saw as a visual reminder of waiting on God at our Women’s Retreat? You can actually hear it tick, unlike modern watches. When I hear it tick, it reminds me of time passing, sometimes, so slowly.

Let me take you back to Psalm 37. David, the Psalm writer, doesn’t even mention the word “wait” until verse 34, but every verse reverberates with the ticking of the watch. And, the whole psalm is filled with antidotes to the long wait: words such as

  • “do not fret”

  • “trust”

  • “commit your way”

  • “be still”

  • “refrain from anger”

  • “a little while” and

  • “turn from evil and do good”

Each one offers very good advice! But each one can be described as “Easy to say—hard to do!”

As I read this passage, the verses that absolutely pop out for me are verses 3 and 4:

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture [cultivate faithfulness]. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

God doesn’t just want us to sit listening to our watch tick the hours and days and even years away. He wants us to be constructive for Him. Sometimes He shows us something to do we hardly feel qualified or “called” to do.

Sometimes we find joy in this kind of new endeavor that we could not have imagined. As Christian writer Holly Furtick has said,

“What seems to you like a pointless or even painful ‘waiting room’ may be God’s most productive workroom.” 1

Remember that antique watch? It seemed to always need winding. I find that the best way to keep it running well is to wind it at the same time every day.

We should do the same too. While the time ticks away, we need to spend time in prayer every day about that thing for which we wait.

And soon, with the Psalmist, we can cry:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)

1 from Furtick, Holly. Blog: “The Preacher’s Wife”
Holly Furtick is the wife of Pastor Steven Furtick, the founding pastor of the Charlotte, North Carolina’s Elevation Church. Holly is the mother of three young children.



Monday, April 1, 2013



[Photo of hammered earrings]

Our new friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, whom we met via video at our most recent Women’s Retreat, tells a story about a day she was wearing a favorite pair of earrings. While talking on the phone, she felt one fall off. When she backed up in her wheelchair, she couldn’t see it on the floor. But, when she wheeled into the hallway to find someone to help her find it, she felt a clunk-clunk, and realized she had run over it and it had become impaled on her tire. When her friend pulled it out, it was a mangled mess. I’ll let her finish the story:

I asked the jeweler, “Sir, could you please make the crumpled earring look like this nice one?”

He rubbed his chin and replied, “Lady, forget it. But I can make this one”—he pointed to the smooth earring—“look like your smashed one.”

It was an option I hadn’t considered. After a few minutes of hammering, I had a unique designer original: a pair of crinkled gold earrings that reflected even more light than before!

When God allows hammering and hurting, he is purposing to transform us into something new and different. Like those earrings, we are the same, yet poles apart. Best of all, we are better; we are closer to reflecting the light of Christ because of our weakness.

The jeweler at the mall could turn a flawless earring into a mangled one, but only God can take a mangled life and change it into a life that reflects the flawless perfection of his Son, Jesus Christ. One day the hammering process will cease and we will perfectly reflect the image of our Savior.

Someone has said, “God ruthlessly perfects whom he royally elects.” In what way have your hopes or dreams been smashed? Agree with God to hold on to his wisdom and grace through the hammering. It’ll be a change for the better. 1

The hammering and the refining are always painful. But, God is making something of solid beauty, an original, for His glory. His servant Job said it this way:

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” —Job 23:10

1 from Tada, Joni Eareckson. Pearls of Great Price: 366 Daily Devotional Readings. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishers, 2006.