I See

My journal entry today looked like a “To Do” list. God sees all that I’ve accomplished and my motives and attitudes as I did each task.

Revelation 2:2, “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. …” The Message

Jesus sees our hard work, refusal to quit, that we can’t stomach evil, we weed out pretenders, are persistent, courageous, and never wear out. He also sees we walked away from our first love and how far we’ve fallen, Revelation 2:2-5.

He sees our pain and poverty, but also our wealth, Revelation 2:9.

He sees we live on Satan’s turf, continuing boldly, never denying His Name. But also indulging in unholy parties, Revelation 2:13-14.

He sees everything we’re doing for Him, the love, faith, service, and persistence. But we let others mislead into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion, Revelation 2:19-20.

He sees right through our work, our reputation for vigor and zest, but we’re dead. Our busywork is not God’s work, Revelation 3:1-2.

He sees we’ve used our strength to keep His Word and did not deny Him. He will open doors no one can shut and keep us safe in a time of testing, Revelation 3:8, 10.

Father, examine my motives and attitudes. I repent of any that are not pleasing to you. Amen.

July 30, 2019: Revelation 1-3.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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Love You in Truth

Some regulars were gone from the E3 Center last Wednesday, including Paige, who takes care of the offering bag and the cash register money. (We empty the cash register every week.) We have a large team and everyone pitches in whenever someone is gone.

Pastor Monte stopped in after the adult service. We ran a bit later because it was “water night.” (No, I did not go down the water slide!) He visited with people while the youth changed clothes.

I explained about Paige’s absence and asked if he wanted me to lock the money in the cafe. He said, “Give the bags to me and I’ll take them to the office.”

I went back to the cafe and retrieved them. As I handed them to him, he said, “Thank you. Love you.”

I paused. (The pastors and leaders at Fairfield tell us they love us all the time.) I don’t talk with Pastor Monte often. That’s one thing about him and Pastor Peggy – they thank you and remind you they love you.

I know other Pastors love their congregations but do they ever say it out loud?

2 John 1:1, “My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth.” The Message

Do we tell them we love them?

July 29, 2019: 1 John 4-5; 2 John 1; 3 John 1.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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God is Greater Than Our Worried Hearts

I don’t know what to do. I’ve wrestled with this decision for a month. Before church, I talked with others in the same situation. I wish it was different. Some are saying “no” to the opportunity, some said, “Yes.”

During the sermon, a message dinged on my phone. What am I going to do? I didn’t want to ponder it during church.

Condemnation came. “Why did you look at your phone?” “Were you gossiping earlier?” On and on it went. “Don’t you want to climb higher with Jesus as you wrote about in your last post?”

1 John 3:18-21, “…practice real love. This is the only way. …living in God’s reality. (19) It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, (20) even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. (21) And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!” The Message

I decided to forget it. I refused to carry it into the Nursing Home Service. I can’t love them if I’m preoccupied.

July 28, 2019: 1 John 2-3.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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Its Reward as You Mature

Melissa told me she was trying to get her spiritual life together. I told her it was like climbing a cliff. You move one hand and then one foot taking small steps until you reach a shelf. Then you rest and enjoy the view. It’s magnificent!

2 Peter 1:8, “…no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.” The Message

Even when we slip, it’s not over. Jesus shows us each handhold and where to dig our toes in. He never lets us fall completely. No matter how far down we slide, He is there to show us the next step.

He doesn’t leave us on a shelf – no matter how beautiful. He encourages us to keep climbing. The reward at each resting place is better. The higher we go, the farther we can see.

When we look at how far we’ve come, it astonishes us. Sometimes, Jesus gives us a glimpse of what is ahead. He’s there with us through it all – the storms and the spectacular.

We may only see a mist when we look ahead. Foggy, we can only see the next handhold. But Jesus’ hand covers ours. His foot is under ours. Take the next step with Him.

July 27, 2019: 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 1.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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Think Like Him

Most of the RAGBRAI riders left by 10:00 a.m. David’s boss was handing out water to them as they went through his hometown. He told David to wait until after ten to open the lumberyard.

Since they were opening late, David didn’t plan on coming home for lunch. I knew he was going to the store after work. It was going to be a long, lonely day.

I started the laundry and pulled out my “Nursing Home Service” folder. David chose 3 hymns to sing and I chose several to play before the service. The music draws the residents to the meeting room.

After practicing those for an hour, I practiced the songs for Sunday morning. I switched loads and headed to the kitchen for lunch.

No salad. No lettuce to make a salad.

I forgot Aldi was out of lettuce on Wednesday. David wasn’t coming home for lunch so I couldn’t ask him to bring something home. We did not replace the truck after it was totaled and I couldn’t go get lunch.

I dug out some leftovers and ate them. I was just finishing when David walked in the door!

I was mad. He didn’t understand why. The inconvenience of not having lettuce for lunch consumed me. He left and went out to eat.

1 Peter 4:1, 2, “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like Him. (2) Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.” The Message

I was tyrannized by not getting what I wanted – a salad. Expecting to get my own way is a sinful habit. Maybe that’s why I’m frequently stuck eating leftovers while everyone else eats out. I certainly was not thinking like Him.

(I don’t want to publish this post. Sigh.)

July 26, 2019: 1 Peter 4-5; Jude 1.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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The Father Has His Eye on Each of You

Our town doubled in size!

RAGBRAI is here!

The Des Moines “Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa,” (RAGBRAI), comes through our town every 7 or 8 years. They choose a different route every year and travel on the 2-lane highways from town to town. There are over 10,000 riders.

God has his eye on all of us! A 62-year-old rider suffered a heart attack but a state trooper just happened to be nearby with an AED! And he had just replaced the batteries. He saved his life and the man is doing well. God set that up for him!

1 Peter 1:2, “Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has His eye on each of you…” The Message

I remember RAGBRAI of 1997. I was president of Pence Pals, (a Parent-Teacher-Organization), at our elementary school. We sold lasagna dinners to raise money. I can still see Paul Greenig with a meat thermometer stuck in his shirt pocket.

I was working at the Foursquare Church and we hosted the “Skunk” Team. They wore black shirts with a white stripe down the back. Fran Cox made her homemade marinara and we sold them spaghetti.

The night before RAGBRAI came, they set up an oversized bike at the middle school. I took a picture of my three children standing in front of it. When they came in 2012, my daughter took a picture of our oldest son Luke holding our granddaughter Olivia.

This year, I opened the sliding glass door and took pictures from inside the house. They rode by on the street behind us. I could see them between my neighbor’s houses.

Then I scrolled through Facebook watching videos others shared. Some were negative. Most were positive. I slept soundly knowing God was watching.

1 Peter 3:22, “Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what He says goes.” The Message

July 25, 2019: 1 Peter 1-3.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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The Special Gift of Ministry

Talk about “deer in the headlights!” I’m sure that is exactly what I looked like!

On the last song, a spotlight turned on the keyboards. (Barb, the worship leader, must lead from the keyboard I was playing on Sundays.) Everything around it went black.

We finished the song and I saw Barb’s hand. What was that signal? Play freestyle? Stop playing? I literally froze.

Then she started singing an old song.

I was warned. She told me last week that song was on her heart. I should have picked it out by ear.

2 Timothy 1:6, “And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed – keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.” The Message

When I first started playing, I rose to every challenge. Any song. Any key. There was only one time it ended badly. (C# minor is a difficult key!) I went down in flames at a Ladies Retreat!

2 Timothy 1:14, “Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” The Message

I wish I had tried to play it. I’m sure the Holy Spirit would have helped me.

July 24, 2019: 2 Timothy 1-4.

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I’m On Your Side

Our friends are downsizing. They have a large 4-bedroom, 3 bath home in the country. They also have a 2-story garage and a tractor shed with a cabin upstairs.

I had never seen the cabin and their property went on the market this week. They invited us out for a cookout.

The cabin looked just like a cabin should – complete with a deer head! The view from the balcony was beautiful.

We ate hamburgers and visited until after 9:00 p.m. David has known them all his life. I have a few decades of history with them. We had no trouble thinking of things to talk about!

Colossians 2:1, “…Not many of you have met me face to face, but that doesn’t make any difference. Know that I’m on your side, right alongside you. You’re not in this alone.” The Message

I haven’t met any of my followers. It’s sad but understandable. I hope and pray you know I’m rooting for you. I believe the day will come when you will read your Bible and say, “That verse is for me today!”

July 19, 2019: Colossians 2-4.

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In the Good Things

I took a homemade cherry pie to worship practice. David got 2 on his birthday last week. We ate the one my daughter made and froze the one I made.

I meant it to be a way to celebrate David’s birthday. It turned out to be a temptation for those getting healthy.

Philemon 1:6, “And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.” The Message

My heart was in the right place.

July 18, 2019: Acts 28; Philemon 1; Colossians 1.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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Thinking It Would Be Smooth Sailing

We looked out the window to a black sky. The streetlights turned on as if it were night. The wind was blowing leaves and dirt through the air.

We clutched our purchases and hurried around the corner to the car. We were facing the wind. It pelted our eyes with sand and drove dirt into our scalps.

We debated going to the lumberyard to wait out the storm but decided to press on to my house.

I directed her to the side streets with the fewest stop signs. By then the rain was coming down in sheets. We had to slow down to see. The lovely side streets are tree-lined and we kept our eyes peeled for falling branches.

Since we took her car, I didn’t have a garage door opener. Taking only my keys, I opened the car door. The fronts of my jeans were immediately drenched.

I hurried to the door but the rain doused the back of my shirt and my head. I ran through the house and hit the garage door opener. My sister pulled her car in.

This was not how she planned on spending her last day of vacation!

Acts 27:13-14, “When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. (14) But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’easter struck.” The Message

God warned me about the storm.

* * * * * * *

Cheryl took 3 vacation days to spend with our brother. He left today. I told her we could do lunch and shop.

It was hot and sunny. I tried “falafel” and “jasmine rice” for the first time!

I had a list of 7 consignment stores – but only 2 were still in business. We decided to check out the “Bargain Box” which is run by the Hospital Auxiliary. I found a hurricane lamp and a huge cloche! I didn’t notice the storm brewing outside.

When the volunteers pointed out the black sky, Cheryl calmly stated, “I’m not afraid of storms.”

Back at the house, we dried off, drank sweet tea, and waited out the storm. When the sun came back out, we headed to Goodwill!

July 16, 2019: Acts 26-27.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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