Happy Father's Day! For some of us, today is a more difficult day. It’s hard to believe my Dad passed away from colon cancer 13 years ago. For so many years our relationship was strained, as my parents divorced after 37 years of marriage. He ...

Ode to Dads and more...


Ode to Dads

Happy Father’s Day!

For some of us, today is a more difficult day. It’s hard to believe my Dad passed away from colon cancer 13 years ago.

For so many years our relationship was strained, as my parents divorced after 37 years of marriage. He intimidated me because he was sometimes verbally and even physically abusive growing up.

The Lord helped heal our relationship. I know my Dad loved me the best way he knew how. It would be an honor to tell you some of the positive ways my Dad impacted my life. 

Here’s to you, Dad, just a few of your lessons for which I am thankful:

  1. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to check the oil dipstick in my old car, so that I never messed up my engine or blew my transmission. That little Ford Escort hatchback car I drove in high school–Awesomobile–burnt a quart of oil every 200 or so miles. Smile. 🙂 I loved that car and am grateful that I had it.
  2. Thank you, Dad, for providing for my needs and many of my wants. We were blessed with a house, plenty of food to eat, clothes and shoes. You even paid for my wonderful out-of-state college education. It was such a gift not to have to pay back college loans.
  3. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to appreciate the outdoors and fishing. You even taught me to cast a fishing rod and how to bait my own hooks. I wasn’t squeamish about the worms and minnows most of the time.
  4. Thank you, Dad, for taking us to church most times the door was open. Your dedication to the Lord and His Word helped mold my faith.
  5. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to budget my money and spend wisely. I remember how you paid bills promptly and taught me how to abhor debt. I still to this day try to avoid debt, except for my mortgages.
  6. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me a strong work ethic. You worked hard at Delta Air Lines for 33 years before you retired. You liked to finish tasks you started and showed me follow through and doing what you said you would do.
  7. Thank you, Dad, for showing me to volunteer in the community and help others behind-the-scenes. You used to mow and weed eat the end of our street where no one would mow. You also mowed around the Turkey Creek bridge in Hanahan where you would walk daily. You thought no one knew. We knew and appreciated your quiet good deeds.
  8. Thank you, Dad, for trying to come to many of my basketball and volleyball games. Your presence was such a present.

Dad, I pray you can see from heaven I’m trying to carry on the Jordan legacy. Rest assured that I love my Heavenly Daddy–my Abba–with my whole soul. Thank you for loving me, Dad, the best way you knew how.

Reflect:

–What are some ways you are thankful for your earthly father?  Please comment.

–How will you strengthen your relationship with him?

Renew:

–“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” –Exodus 20:12 NIV

–“Listen to your father, who gave you life…” –Proverbs 23:22a NIV

–“The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad…” –Proverbs 23:24-25a NIV

Recharge:

–What is something you can do today or this week to honor your Dad?

–If your relationship with your father is strained, please prayerfully consider reaching out and forgiving him WITH boundaries. I reached out years ago. It wasn’t easy. I’m so thankful we reconciled before he passed away. God is faithful.

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Darkest Moments and Greatest Victories

That morning in Jerusalem I could hear the city sounds—car horns beeping, roosters crowing, and the ubiquitous Muslim call to prayer permeating the city.

Our Proverbs 31 Ministries Holy Land Experience with Lysa TerKeurst group loaded the bus and headed out of the city toward the peaceful countryside. In less than an hour we had reached our destination: first to hike to the Cave of Adullam, then to see the Valley of Elah. The Cave of Adullam is where David and his 400 men hid from Saul in 1 Samuel 22. The Valley of Elah is where David slay Goliath with a slingshot and stone.

The yellow mustard plants and lush green grass covered the mountainside.   The bus parked at the foot of the mountain. There was a quiet solitude as we began our ascent to the Cave of Adullam.

Our guides said out of 65 trips to the Holy Land, this was their first time hiking up to the Cave of Adullam. Our Proverbs 31 President and amazing Bible teacher Lysa TerKeurst had hiked there with her Messianic Jewish Rabbi Scholar.

The opening to the cave was small, only about three feet in diameter. We took our backpacks off and backed slowly into the cave. One by one, the guides helped us enter the dark cave entrance.

Each of us turned on our cell phone flashlights on as we entered the darkness. Once inside, the cave was huge, as tall as a hotel lobby.

Lysa TerKeurst made a joke that there was no housekeeping in this cave. We were sitting on the same rocks that David and his men sat on 3000+ years ago. You could feel the Holy Spirit so strongly as we listened to praise and worship music, echoing through the cave.

Lysa read from 1 Samuel 22: 1-2.

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred were with him.”

What a fun bunch that must have been to lead—400 hundred men who were in distress, in debt or discontented! So why was David hiding?

To recap, Israel kept asking Samuel for a king (1 Samuel 8:19).

  • Saul was made king (1 Samuel 9 and 10).
  • Saul served half-heartedly and with pride. The Lord rejected Saul as King (1 Samuel 15).
  • Samuel anointed David as King against his father’s Jesse’s wished, but not yet appointed (1 Samuel 16)
  • David slay the giant Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17) .
  • Saul was jealous of David and tries to kill him (1 Samuel 18, 19,22, 23).
  • David spared Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24 and 26).

The Cave of Adullam virtually overlooks the Valley of Elah, where David slay Goliath a few years prior. As David and his men hid in that dark cave, he was able to almost see the field where he had experienced his greatest victory.

How true that is for my life also. So many times my greatest victories in life are so close to the darkest moments. God is using me, like He did David, despite my flaws and frailties.

Lysa taught that, “God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time.”

Like David, We have a choice. We can be a victim or a victor of our circumstances.

The same God in the dark is the same God in the light.

The same God on the mountaintop is the same God in the valley.

The same God who did it before will do it again.

As we sat in the cave, the 3000- year-old womb of the earth, it made me realize something. Even in the darkest of night, we have the Light of the World with us.

Wherever you are in your faith journey, the following are three ways to shine your Light in the darkness of doubt and experience your greatest victories over your giant.

  1. Pray boldly, humbly, knowing nothing is impossible with God.
  2. Ponder God’s Word each day. The Bible is trustworthy and True and is God’s love letter to us.
  3. Persevere with obedience to God. Our job is to be obedient to God. His job is everything else.

Whether we are on the mountaintop, in a cave of doubt or in the Valley of Elah, about to experience our greatest victory, God is with us. You shine, friend!

       
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Taking Care of the Rest

Sometimes it seems difficult for me to slow down, to rest. But when I do, what a gift it is.  My body, mind, spirit all know how much I need it.

A few weeks ago I had the blessing of enjoying sweet quality time in Arizona with two of my Proverbs 31 Ministries’ coworkers. Not only do I have the joy of working with these talented teammates, it was fun to get to know Glynnis Whitwer and Contessa Siegner even better.

We ate delicious Arizona cuisine on the road, laughed until our sides ached, and sang in the car. They were patient with my corny puns. We also experienced breathtaking landscape together of the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Williams, and Phoenix and worshiped at Glynnis’ awesome New City Church in Phoenix.

We also talked about our blessings and our struggles. We encouraged each other in our faith journeys. This past trip showed me even more how healthy and necessary it is to get away and rest, relax.

Brilliant Renaissance man Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation. For when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer…Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.”

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that it’s one of the Ten Commandments–not a suggestion–to rest and to honor the Sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” –Exodus 20:8-10a, 11.

I am thankful to my parents for encouraging our family to honor the Sabbath and rest. Growing up and now, enjoying the Sabbath helps me fuel up for the week. If the Lord can do it all in six days, what makes me think I can’t?

Let’s give ourselves permission to rest and relax.  Let’s make more of an effort to unwind. I am stubborn, so it may take me a few times to do this. I promise you I’ll try my best to rest.

As Roman poet Ovid said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Reflect:

–When is the last time you truly relaxed, truly rested with friends, your spouse or by yourself? Please comment.

–How do you observe the Sabbath? Please let us know.

–Do you feel over-programmed? What steps can you take to add more margin of rest in your schedule?

Renew:

-“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

–“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” –-Hebrews 4:9-10 NIV.

Recharge:

–What plans will you make to intentionally set aside time for vacation, rest, relaxation? Please comment.

–How will you plan to be still, be quiet for a time?

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Bucket List Blind Faith

The Canyon Ministries guide asked our group a good question. “Who would like to close their eyes and be guided to the Grand Canyon railing?”  It was the first visit to the Grand Canyon for my friend Contessa and me. Seven of us from our group  raised our hands.

We formed a single-file line behind the guide and closed our eyes. I placed my hand on the guide’s left shoulder. Contessa stood behind me and placed her hand on my left shoulder. Five others stood behind her. Our guide gently talked to us step-by-step. He led us each to the railing safely. My heart was pounding.

When I opened opened my eyes, no words can describe the grandeur we witnessed. God’s majesty took my breath away. I was speechless. I had never seen anything more massive than the Grand Canyon.

Isn’t it just like our God, the Ultimate Guide, to gently lead us in blind faith to beautiful places, places better than we can fathom?

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” -2 Corinthians 5:7.

Canyon Ministries is the only faith-based, biblical, Creationist perspective tour company at the Grand Canyon. It was an added bonus to hear our Guide explain the Creation scientist Truth of how the biblical Great Flood formed the Grand Canyon.  We asked a million questions, and he could answer them all.

Our guide took us to different overlooks on the South Rim as he explained more of a biblical perspective of the age of the earth (6000 years old) and how the Grand Canyon came to be.

We finished our tour at the South Rim WatchTower to experience the sun setting over the Grand Canyon. He read Psalm 104 as the sun set along the horizon. It was glorious!

“Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty…He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them.” –Psalm 104:1, 5-8.

I was jumping for joy to finally see the Grand Canyon. Bucket List = Check! 🙂

Reflect:

–How do you believe the Grand Canyon was formed?

–What do most sources tell you of how old the Grand Canyon is?

–How does this biblical Truth influence our faith journey?

–Have you had a friend or stranger question if the Bible is accurate and True? How did you handle it?

Renew:

–“The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a dept of more than twenty feet…But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” –Genesis 7:18:-20, 8:1

Recharge:

–Who will share your faith with this week?

Resource:

http://www.answersingenesis.org

http://www.canyonministries.org

      

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What Was in Jeremy’s Egg?

Each time I see a plastic egg, I am reminded of this inspiring Easter story, taken from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. As we continue to bask in last week’s glorious Easter, may this encore story touch your heart as it does mine.

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind, and a chronic  illness all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Teresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

It wasn’t fair to keep Jeremy in Doris Miller’s class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying? Doris sat for a long time, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.

“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically–all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Doris decided to call Jeremy’s parents that night to explain the project to them.

That evening, she had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh, yes,” a flower is certainly sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!”

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy–your egg is empty!”

He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

May we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and ponder it in our hearts.

Reflect:

–How would you respond if Jeremy were in your class?

–Do you demonstrate your faith like Jeremy did?

Renew:

— “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” –1 Samuel 16:7b

— “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” –Matthew 18:2-4 NIV

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to show love and compassion for the Jeremy in your life?

–How will you show your faith more clearly?

Resource:

Kempel, Ida Mae, “What Was In Jeremy’s Egg?”. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul.

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