Saturday, June 28, 2014


First scenario: Unnamed moms bring children to Jesus

Of course moms--and dads too--who know and trust Jesus desire to bring their children to Him. Regardless of their ages, our children will always be our children. In my case, even when some of my sons are already retirement age and grandfathers themselves!

In the first biblical clip we see some mothers apparently interrupting a serious teaching session of Jesus with his disciples. Three of the gospel writers record this event so it must have been memorable. The moms undoubtedly knew Jesus well enough already to trust Him as they brought their children to Him. He welcomed them, touched them, and blessed them.

 One version says there were infants as well as other toddlers. Jesus obviously wasn't a scary, unapproachable person or the kids would have been afraid of Him and the moms wouldn't have risked letting Jesus take them on His lap. (This reminds us of the many photos being taken of Pope Francis embracing babies and taking physically challenged children into his arms and kissing them and blessing them.) The disciples were apparently irritated and took it upon themselves to try to stop the moms. One version said they "rebuked" them. 

In several translations of this story it is recorded that Jesus was “much displeased, indignant, angry.” He said “Don't hinder them or stop them...let them come to Me.” Of course the disciples had sense enough to back off at His rebuke to them. Then Jesus, probably with an infant in his lap, took advantage of the teaching moment to let them know what the true nature of the Kingdom of God was all about.

The take-away value?
The moms didn't tell Jesus what to do, they simply trusted Him, brought their children to Him and let Jesus do whatever He would do, knowing that it would be good.

Second scenario: Zebedee's wife and mommy of James and John

In the second clip from the gospel of Mark we see mom, also unnamed, who started out well bowing down and worshiping Jesus. Other versions say “adoring Him, kneeling before Him.” But even worship can go wrong sometime if the motive isn't pure. She was mistaken about the true nature of Jesus' Kingdom. She didn't come alone and privately approach Jesus. Her sons were with her and the rest of the disciples were present because they overheard the mom's demand on behalf of her sons. She was the spokesperson running front for her boys (strong, adult fishermen to whom Jesus had given the nickname “Sons of Thunder” hiding behind their mother!) She knew exactly what she wanted and had possibly rehearsed her request. The text says that she “desired a certain thing of Him, asked a favor, begged a favor.”

We might suspect that her request was as much for her sake as for them. Mistaking that Jesus' Kingdom was of this present world, she dared to ask Jesus to promise her sons the most prominent places in His coming Kingdom, one on His right hand, one on His left. She wanted to secure their position in advance. What audacity, what presumption! She might have been thinking of the prestige this would bring to the House of Zebedee and how she could brag to her neighbors how successful her sons had become.

The big boys must have been privy to this request because they went along with it. Perhaps more than that, could they have persuaded mom to pave the way for their ambition? They should have stopped mom when they saw how this was going over and how the rest of the disciples began to react: “they were greatly displeased.” By the way, where was their dad? Was he in on this?  We hope he wasn't put out because when Jesus called his sons to follow Him, they took off immediately. Jesus broke up his fishing business, a partnership that might have been called “Zebedee and Sons, Inc.”

Jesus didn't embarrass mom, He gently corrected her. “You don't know what you are asking.” Nor did He reprimand her sons. He just called “the boys” forward and asked them some serious questions. They still didn't get it. They insisted they were able to follow Jesus all the way anywhere. Had they not been listening to all His teachings about the nature of His Kingdom and what it would cost to follow Him? He turned it into a teaching moment for them and for the ten other disciples. He let them know in no uncertain terms what lay ahead for Himself, His Kingdom, and those who would be a part of it.

The take away value?
We can learn from negative examples as well as positive ones. As moms—and dads too—let's not be so presumptuous to demand of the Lord what we think He should do for our children. Let's have pure hearts when we come worshiping the Lord. He already has the best plans destined for them, better than we could ask or think of. Let's just continually bring them to Jesus in our prayers, the grown up ones as well as the little ones, and let Him touch them and bless them according to His perfect will.

A Mother's Request

Today and every day
I bring my children to Jesus
in the arms of my spirit
and faithful prayer
whether little ones
“grand-” ones
the “great-grands-”
or grown-up ones
and let them sit in His lap
held close in His embrace
as He touches them
hugs them and blesses them.

As a mother I do not demand
for them some special place
to sit at His left hand
or on His right
in His eternal Kingdom.
I ask only that each one might
enter His Father's House
by His mercy and grace
by their faith and joyful choice
so that we may behold His face
together forevermore.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Goldilocks and the Ursine Trio Revisited

 Just for fun: A Leona version
   For mature audiences only

"Once upon a time there was this innocent little blond kid who wandered away from home while picking flowers and was guilty of trespassing, breaking and entering a private home in the woods which she pretty much trashed and got caught by the anthropomorphic ursine occupants who shouldn't have gone off and left food on the table and their house unlocked in the first place but she got away with the crime--it figures--and there must be a moral to the story somewhere."

This English fairy tale from 1837 changed considerably since the original version. At first, the main character was an unpleasant, malicious, intrusive, vagrant old woman who used bad language when things didn't suit her. And the house was owned by three bachelor bears. In the end the woman jumped from the's uncertain if she survived, at least she was never seen again.

In 1849 the protagonist morphed into a charming kid at first named "Little Silver-Hair." The bears had milk in their bowls not oatmeal. From a fearsome folk tale to strike terror into the hearts of toddlers, it got cleaned up into a cozy, more politically correct, family-friendly story. It was somewhat reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in that the teenage girl was also an intruder whom the little people discovered under their roof. She had also fallen asleep in their absence. Must be something in the water. Not sure which fairy tale came first but you can't copyright a plot.

Later psychologists criticized Goldilocks as being a poor behavioral model for kids by evidencing such emotional immaturity. She was obviously an unruly, greedy, delinquent human antagonist. Film makers, cartoonists, and Disney came along deciding to remedy that and projected the age of the blond to late teens, and in some cases added a boyfriend to the mix, altered the plot, and changed the bears into human wolves. Apparently to add spice and appeal to adolescent readers.

So what can we glean of moral behavior from this story for kids of any age including adults? Perhaps we can learn something especially from negative examples.

Oh sure, the little blond innocently wandered off while picking flowers. Who knows, this might have taken place in her mother's flower garden and that was just the beginning of her illicit actions. No wonder she took off for the woods to avoid being punished. We can assume that Goldilocks didn't get her parents' permission to go off alone into the dark forest. Or perhaps she was warned of big bad wolves like Little Red Riding Hood encountered, but not about bears. From the beginning we can see she didn't respect authority figures or property

Where were Goldie's parents anyway? They must not have been very alert since we don't see them rounding up a search party when their daughter obviously disappeared for an entire day. Remember those late night flashes on TV? "Parents! Do you know where your children are?" I don't see such announcements anymore. 
Today we are more likely to ask,  
“Children, do you know where your parents are?” 
 Of course the story was written before TV was invented so we'll give the parents a pass on that one.
One thing always leads to another. As the plot unfolds, we see that Goldie's curiosity led to her being guilty of trespassing. The bears are not off the hook either. They shouldn't have left the house in the middle of a meal for a frolic in the woods just because of the temperature of the food. And they were too trusting by neglecting to lock their doors—an open invitation to burglary.

 Ah yes, we should beware of friendly, little cottages. They might not be as benign as they seem. They might become a crime scene in these days as in days of yore. The occupants could actually have been at home, she might have surprised them, and bad things could have happened. You could be in a heap of trouble if you encountered wild animals who are obviously hungry since they hadn't eaten breakfast yet. If curiosity could kill a cat, it could have been fatal to the little blond kid.

Other lessons to learn: Patience. If Goldie was so hungry after her long walk she could have waited on the doorstep for the occupants to return and invite her in for breakfast. But no, it doesn't even say she knocked, but barged right in and headed for the kitchen. Such poor manners to taste the food in everyone's bowl! Goldie appeared to be so fussy and hard to please. Didn't her mother caution her about eating food in a strange place? Who knows what kind of weird ingredients mama bear cooked up to make that breakfast food? Bears might be partial to savor such strange things like "Animal Crackers" made from real animals! And she ate the whole bowl of little bear's food. Greedy child! When you dally with little samples of forbidden things, before long you are unable to control yourself and go off the deep end with other temptations.

If you can't control your appetite for food, the next thing you know you will be tempted to disrespect the property of others. Here comes a teachable moment: The story goes that her feet were so sore from walking such a distance in the woods that she simply had to sit down. When she broke the cub's chair, Goldie apparently didn't feel any remorse nor make an attempt at damage control. I will have to agree that she wasn't a very good role model for kids since she didn't take responsibility for her actions or leave a note of apology or think about reparation for destroying furniture. Perhaps her conscience had not matured yet or she was just a mean little girl from the git-go.

When Goldie tried out both the parent bears' chairs, she must have displaced the cushions or mussed up things since the bears noticed it as soon as they returned. Or else they were incorrigible neatniks so fastidious and obsessed with order that they got all bent out of shape. Notice that these were talking bears, and the high-strung cub kept screaming—not unlike spoiled human boys and girls who stamp their feet and pout.

The bears must have been gone a long time to give Goldie a chance to fall asleep. Or maybe it was something in the oatmeal that made her drowsy. Did you notice in how many fairy tales the main characters keep falling asleep? Sleeping Beauty was another. At any rate, taking the risk of sleeping in someone else's bed—well, it's certainly not a good idea to curl up on other people's used bed linens. Didn't her mother teach her anything? Bears might have lice or fleas and she could have ended up scratching or worse. The story line goes that she "dreamed dreams of flowers and warm cookies"—yeah, right. Still no remorse to give her nightmares.

When she was discovered, I don't blame her for panicking when she saw three hairy creatures hovering over her. (Remember, they had not eaten yet!!) The story goes that she took off in a flash and made a bee line directly for her home (Ah ha! Goldie must not really have been lost at all, just making an excuse for wandering around in the woods.) In the conclusion, the story line was that she promised her parents that she would never go unaccompanied into the forest again. Here the author was moralizing. Kids will promise anything to keep from getting disciplined. I guess at this point I am supposed to say, "And they lived happily ever after" which is the way most fairy tales end.

So, my take on this tale will also end because tails are always at an end. I hope that my readers will have learned a few lessons from a wayward little blond. She was just lucky not to have ended up in the bears' oven like the hapless kids Hansel and Gretel. Did you ever wonder why nursery rhymes and fairy tales are so gory and scarey? And we think that there is too much violence on TV these days!

An epilogue-ish note: It was rumored among Dark Forest wild critters that Goldie, forever after, had "bear-a-phobia." She refused to visit the zoo, especially the bears' cages.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


“sequel” – a literary work that is complete in itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work; an event or circumstance following something.
 I like to read sequels, live sequels, and write sequels. To me, a sequel is another word for MORE. MORE is a word of fulfillment, abundance, flourishing. I love everything about MORE; it reminds me of God as an Over Blesser. Since God keeps generously extending my life, I keep living and writing and publishing MORE of my spiritual autobiographical sequels. I'm expecting soon to publish the third book in my Trilogy titled “STILL MORE!” subtitled, “Flourishing on My Summit.” It is a sequel to a sequel to another sequel in my “Land of MORE” series. If you count my original autobiography, I guess this forthcoming book is the fourth sequel!

When I finish the final page of an exciting novel, I don't want it to end. I want to know more. What happened to the protagonist and the rest of the characters? A brief Epilogue of a few pages at the end of the novel is not enough for me. I like to read books in a series which carries forward the same characters and introduces more characters along with new plots and subplots.

My life, too, is a story and my years are the chapters. There was a beginning and there will be a conclusion, an earth-time finish—but not an end. I anticipate an eternal Epilogue which will be an endless Sequel as vast as the universe. In our humanity, we think in time and space sequences but God, Who is outside of time, stoops to our finite understanding of time and directs the sequels of our lives.

Thank God for sequels! When I was diagnosed with lung cancer and went through surgery twenty-four years ago, I faced the possibility that there might be no more earth-time sequels for me. No more productive, fruitful years to serve the Lord. But God planned for more sequels.

When my husband Ted died after forty-six years of marriage and parenting and ministry together, I faced the possibility that this might be the end of my ministry, my usefulness to God. But God planned for more sequels.

When I wrote my autobiography as a legacy for my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I tried hard to keep it to under 450 pages. There was so much to tell about the Lord's goodness and mercy. Although I tried to chronicle only major events of my long life, it was already more than an inch thick and the publisher warned that binding would be difficult! I thought that it was probably the final book I would write. But God planned for more sequels—and more published books.

As I have reached eighty-nine years and begin my ninetieth year, every day is the first day of the rest of my life. Could God possibly plan for still more sequel living? As I live the rest of my summit years, at what point in my climb I will arrive at the summit is up to Him and His destiny for my life. I just have to keep climbing....

I came across these challenging words somewhere:
“I will climb my mountain. They have told me it is too high, too far, too steep, too rocky, and too difficult. But it's my mountain and I will climb it. One day you will see me waving from the top...” It had a different ending which I don't even remember, but I chose my own ending with “...and joyfully shouting, 'We made it!' as I stand hand in hand with God ready to leave for the Grand Sequel.”

The Lord veils the upward road ahead in my summit years because He loves me. He knows that If I knew the rest of the way was going to be nothing but happy-happy, I might be too impatient to get on with it and miss some of the blessings He wants to give me if I trust His plans for me whatever the journey is like. If I knew in advance that the road ahead was going to be rougher and more difficult, or shorter or longer, I might be reluctant to go on, inclined to draw back.

But what if God reveals to us in advance something about His Heavenly Sequel after earth life? He does! But it is more than we can take in. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Without letting me know the details of what is ahead in the rest of the summit season of my life, He encourages me to trust Him and endure. He guarantees never to leave me or forsake me on my upward pilgrimage toward the final summit of earth life. He simply wants me to keep doing His will as He whispers it uniquely to me day by day and anticipate more of His goodness and mercy.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10 36). What did He promise? That I would “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4,5).

What a Heavenly Sequel to our earth life! We are destined to finally live in “real time,” by God's definition, in the eternal span of immortal existence! We will celebrate with joy in God's Presence as we meet many of the same characters we knew when we lived our life story on earth and multitudes more from ages past and from years to come! 

(Excerpt from Leona's forthcoming book STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT, Chapter 14, "Launching from my Summit")

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


(On my approaching 89th birthday)
As a typical teen, I had trouble accepting my body “as is” --or as it was. In my case, I was critical of the “chubby” earth suit I inherited from my Czech ancestors, I compared myself unfavorably with other classmates and wanted to change everything about my appearance. 

Now in my summit years I am who I have been becoming for a lifetime. So it is high time to make peace with my mortal body and be content with the common changes that comes to all of us with advancing years. And to accept gratefully the God-ordained body that He chose for me. I am thankful to God that especially as a cancer surgery survivor, the body He blessed me with has lasted so long under His intensive, loving care with minimal maintenance procedures.
I know it will go better for me if I accept with humor my “maturing” bodily changes and their deterioration. Even the apostle Paul admitted that his “earthen vessel” and “outer man was decaying” when he looked at the temporary, visible part of himself. His earthly tent, as he described it, was becoming tattered and ready to be torn down. Notice that he used the personal pronoun in those passages in 2 Corinthians chapters four and five.

Okay, Paul, did you mean that you too noticed that your skin went from smooth to wrinkled and your muscles from firm to flabby with the loss of mass and collagen? (I'm reminded of one of my little granddaughters when she used to sit on my lap playing with the flabby skin which used to be my double chin. Well, I did a similar thing as a toddler playing with the loose skin on my grandmother's underarm below the shoulder! What goes around, comes around!) Paul, did you too begin to experience moving from quick to more slowly, your body changing from slim to bulky, from tall to shorter, your balance from steady to tottering? Did you sometimes go from alert to drowsy, from robust health to ailing, from being sure-footed to stumbling, from a steady hand to tremors? Did your hair turn from dark to gray?

Paul, did you experience the redistribution of your bodily assets to places where you would rather not have them applied? Men do have different appearance problems than women do. Aging men often become thin while their stomachs above their belts begin to balloon. Women seem to be more vulnerable to gravity and shape up (or down) differently as they age. Many women become barrel-like below their belts. 

But I'm going to leave the apostle Paul comparison, because he was probably able to disguise any bodily sags and balloonings under the draping of his flowing Eastern robes. 

I was determined as a teenager that I would never, ever look like all my stout, full-figured Czech women relatives with their ample tummies which they covered up with large European-style aprons. Guess what? Now my GYN chuckles and recommends that I accept the changes of my aging body and resign myself to “look like you're three months pregnant in your eighties!” Well, thanks. I didn't need that. I'm not Abraham's wife Sarah or Jesus' Aunt Elizabeth either. And aprons are no longer in fashion.

I remember a time in my life when I could eat almost anything and it didn't show up on my body. Now in my advanced calendar years I can just eat modestly and it jumps directly to my waist, thighs, or derriere. Yes, even when I eat only healthful and nutritious foods. I have other aging peer friends who eat sumptuously and are thin as rails. Something is amiss. Seems that I can have skinny arms but a bulky body, albeit wrinkled and saggy.

There are other changes I must accept. Whereas in my former seasons of life I was not only able to care for myself but I cared for others. I realize that a time may come when I myself will need to be cared for. In the past I have been in control of all my affairs and could be depended on to make quick, wise decisions. That may change. In practical matters, sound sleep now gives way to wakefulness. There may be multiple nocturnal bathroom journeys. If not, well, that all “Depends.” 

People in summit years may now face weakness and frailty where formerly they had been strong and agile. Upright stature tends to give way to stooping. Those of us who had good "rememberers" may begin to have increasing senior moments.

“All that is within me” used to be running along smoothly and regularly when I was young. Prunes are usually on my shopping list! Now there is much within me that is not even fixable anymore. I must simply try to manage all the breakdowns and whatever doesn't work anymore. I resign myself that in common with the rest of my seasoned peers, quite often now “my get-up-and-go” has “got-up-and-went.” We all have an energy crises. Gravity is having the last word. We more frequently run out of steam in the short term and slump-lump into the nearest sofa chair. And if we remain there very long, we may take a brief and sonorous siesta.

There's more, but enough already! The bottom line is that I need to be philosophical about the unavoidable changes of the human flesh part of me. I gain nothing by fighting against nature.
The Serenity Prayer is even more relevant in my summit years. “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.” If I don't recognize the difference and fail to accept the unchangeable, I will simply complain and make myself miserable and unhappy.

In the first eight verses of the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes the writer describes our “earth suit” changes in aging years in detail poetically. He begins and ends with the admonition to "Remember your Creator before “the silver cord is broken,” before the “golden bowl is crushed,” “the pitcher is shattered,” and “the wheel at the cistern is crushed.” 

In other words, “Celebrate each day of life as a loving gift from God” while God gives us life and breath!”

(Excerpt from Chapter 8 “My Earth Suit on the Summit” from Leona's soon to be published book STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT.)

Friday, June 13, 2014


From Leona's forthcoming book

 The apostle Paul used “sports illustrated” to make an analogy of the Christian life as a race that we run. He admitted that even he had to be diligent and watchful of his own Christian faith and practice “...lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
 Do you really mean that, Paul?

He didn't say unqualified since that would have described a runner before he was established as eligible and entitled to run. To become disqualified, one would have to already be running the race, but something would have happened to count him out of the running. The runner might have disqualified himself by some action against the rules despite having started well. Paul asked certain Christians in Galatia, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (5:7)

It is possible to begin a race well but not finish well according to the writer of the book of Hebrews. And Paul warned the Corinthians, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” If it could happen to Saint Paul, it could certainly happen to anyone—it could happen to me in the summit season of my life even in the final sprint for the Finish Line or as the long marathon race is winding down. I could still be a dropout regardless of my past faithfulness in the service of the Lord or in my long walk with Him. A sobering thought. 

The Christian life is not like the automatic moving walkway in modern airports. We don't simply step into the Christian life and passively wait until it brings us to heaven at the end. The Scriptures clearly teach that we don't work for our salvation, it is by God's grace, but we are told we must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)We are in a lifelong process of being transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After we are “in Christ,” God doesn't take away our free will. When Saint Paul wrote his letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, he referred to Demas as his "fellow-laborer." By the time he wrote 2 Timothy, the picture had changed. “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed....” It takes our cooperation with God and the help of the Holy Spirit to endure faithfully and persevere in the Christian race for a lifetime. We must press on toward developing a holy and fruitful life, mature Christian character, and keep fervently serving others all the days of our lives.

In our summit years we may try to excuse ourselves because, after all, we are weary now, and we've paid our dues by living a faithful Christian life. We've been there and done that for the Lord, and we may think we now deserve to sit on a bench in the park and watch other people do their part. God understands our human frame and our weakness. He may lovingly permit us to slow our pace somewhat, take more exit ramps for rest stops, and He generously adjusts His expectations for us--but keeps us in the race.

Until then, in the Scriptures we are warned to take heed, be careful, be on your guard, don't be sluggish, lose heart, or be weary in well-doing. We are not to passively fade out, become dull of hearing, slack in our service, negligent in worship, carried away by self-serving or trivial pursuits, fall away, or diminish in our zeal for the truth. God doesn't give us permission to drift, flag in our zeal, slide backward, or otherwise disqualify ourselves because of our calendar age. Jesus expects us in every season of our lives not to “lose our first love” for Him.
God hasn't taken us out of His race because of how many birthdays we've accumulated. Not until we break the tape at the Finish Line and hear His joyful welcome, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Monday, June 9, 2014


Patrick Henry's Last Will concluded with the following words: “This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family—the religion of Christ. It can give them a legacy which will make them rich indeed.” I can echo that to the degree that I will have no assets of monetary value to bequeath to my posterity in my Last Will and Testament. I beg to differ with Patrick Henry in that the Christian faith can't be passed on as an inheritance; a relationship with Christ must be established by each person for himself. But yes, it will make them rich indeed, with all the “riches in glory by Christ Jesus....” which will provide for all their needs. (Philippians 4:19)

That is not to say that I have no legacy to leave. A legacy is defined as something tangible or intangible passed on to someone or to some entity after the decease of a person. It can also mean anything handed down from the past as from an ancestor or predecessor, or a gift of property, money, or goods. Actually, my legacy is both tangible and intangible. It consists of words, which is one of the treasured gifts the Lord has generously given to me to use for His Kingdom work. 

He has expected me not only to bring forth thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold, but not to hide it in a napkin unused or under a bushel, but on a lampstand. I have tried to open my napkin to share in every way possible with those in my orbit of influence or contacts from the spiritual riches which I have been given in Jesus Christ. It is such a delight to freely give away my valuables!
 Truth may be found in many places, so I can embrace it if it is universal truth and God's truth. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest...if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) I happened to view on television a part of the memorial service for noted poet Maya Angelou. Oprah Winfrey was recounting how deeply Maya had influenced her life with her personal words at times of her own crisis or need and sharpened or corrected her own perspective on life. She told about the occasion when she established an orphanage for children somewhere in Africa and expressing to Maya that she thought that would be her legacy more than anything else she will have accomplished. If I remember correctly, Maya differed in her assessment of Oprah's life legacy. “Oh no. I believe it will be all the lives you have touched and changed and encouraged throughout your lifetime, people whom you may never meet or know about.” That is wisdom.

Each of my summit years I have asked God to give me a word for the year that He would have me mine for the gold of its meaning and I have asked Him to teach me how to make it efficacious in my life. Last year the word He gave me was WISDOM. This year my word has been LEGACY.

I am trying to be His faithful steward and sharpen my focus on redeeming the time to leave the kind of legacy the Lord destined for me even before I was born. (Ephesians 1:4-6) That is why I pray each morning for Him to bring into my life that day everyone and only those whom He would either have me touch for Him in some way, and that I may be open to those who would touch me with a word from Him. I ask the Holy Spirit to be my “filter” and keep me from extraneous or trivial pursuits or interruptions not of His appointment.

I express in the following what I perceive as my legacy:


I anticipate leaving Planet Earth some day
'cause sooner or later this body of clay
will pass away but that's okay
because my soul will be happily Elsewhere
and won't need my body for awhile
until Resurrection Day.

I have no worldly goods to bestow
no legacy of material gain
yet I long to leave behind
something of priceless worth
something the next generation will find
of infinite value, some kind
of stepping stones for their life journey
to help steady uncertain feet
as they walk in uncharted ways.

I can bequeath no greater assets
when I leave this transient earth
than words expressed from my heart
sometimes spoken and heard
by ears tuned to listen
and through the printed word
where all may hear my voice
at will in passing years
through the ears of their hearts
as my words remain alive
captured in print
a legacy of spiritual wealth
which I’ve received
from The Word Made Flesh.

I want to pass on to future generations
a bequest of eternal value
not only to my heirs and posterity
my own heritage and progeny
but to all who read my words
that they might claim my whole estate
and inherit everything!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


The staff of the Christian radio station of which I am president often presented me with a dozen and a half long-stemmed red roses for my birthday.

The roses were exquisitely beautiful, and their fragrance filled my home day and night while they were fresh. I wanted to preserve the petals by drying them, fully expecting them to remain fragrant.

I dried the petals successfully, but I was disappointed that they totally lost their fragrance! A friend reminded me that only fresh, living roses have a scent—not dead, dry ones. She suggested I apply a few drops of concentrated rose oil to them, zip them snugly in a plastic bag and let the petals absorb the fragrance as if it were their own. Voila! They were fragrant again! And I could divide them and zip them into smaller baggies to give to friends while sharing a spiritual analogy.

Christ Himself is The Fragrance.  “Follow the way of love, even as Christ loved you. He gave Himself for us as an offering to God, a gift of pleasing fragrance” (Ephesians 5:1). Christ’s sacrifice was foreshadowed by the sacrifices in the Old Testament which were called “a sweet-smelling [fragrant] oblation [sacrifice]” (Exodus 29:18, 25).

According to the Scriptures, we should bear the fragrance of Christ wherever we are, at all times, under all circumstances—in the uncertainties, adversities, and dark times of life as well as in the light. We are to attract people to God and to His glory, not to ourselves. Primarily however, we are to be a fragrance unto God, to lavish our love on Jesus like the expensive perfume Mary poured on Jesus’ feet as an expression of her love and gratitude for her sins forgiven.

Since only living roses share their fragrance, so only living Christ-ones can offer a fragrance to God and share it with others around them. Like the dried rose petals anointed with rose oil we need to be “anointed with fresh oil” of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 92:10) so we can absorb His fragrance. We must snuggle close (zip up) to Jesus moment by moment, abide in Him, spend time in His presence and adore Him, not only in our quiet times but “without ceasing” throughout the day and night. 

On the flip side, other people will quickly recognize whether we give off a Jesus-fragrance from being zipped up close to Jesus or whether we smell stale from following afar off. Without our saying a word, others can know if we have been abiding in Christ and they will be drawn to Him. As Saint Francis of Assisi taught and demonstrated by the fragrance of the way he lived, “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”

“Thanks be to God, who unfailingly leads us on in Christ’s triumphal train, and employs us to diffuse [spread, make evident] the fragrance [aroma] of his knowledge everywhere! We are a sweet fragrance of Christ for God’s sake, both [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and those on the way to destruction [perishing]; to the latter an odor dealing death, [a fatal odor, the smell of doom] to the former a breath bringing life [from life to life, a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. For such a mission [ministry] as this, is anyone really qualified [fit, sufficient, able]?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Combined translations/versions)

Dear Lord, so may it be through my life. Help me to take care that in the latter years of my life Your sweet fragrance may not grow stale and offensive, but draw others to follow You.


A fragrance unto You, Lord?
You have said that's what I am—
a fragrance of Christ to God
delighting You—a thought
my mind can scarcely grasp.
You, the Supernatural, 
want to impart to me, the natural,
the fashioned clay,
the aroma of Your Manifest Presence.
Then You ask me to be, in turn,
a fragrance unto You!?

When You formed us in Your image
You delighted to create our senses
to give us the enjoyment of scents.
Thank You!
It appears thatYou must enjoy
the aroma of incense
since You meticulously prescribed its ingredients
in Your Holy Book.
Your Manifest Glory filled the Temple
so everyone who worshiped would know
that You were there!

So I know You want me to share
the sweet essence of Your knowledge
an aroma absorbed from walking close to You
sometimes leaning close on Your bosom
and release it in every place, at all times
to waft like the perfume
of a living, fresh bouquet of roses.

The thought is too wonderful for me!
Who is adequate for these things?

Monday, June 2, 2014


As one advances in years, there may be a tendency to become careless about appearance and apparel. I should maintain carefully all aspects about my person in the latter season of life as much as I did when I was younger.
By all means, carelessness in appearance shouldn't carry over into my spiritual life. I would be fastidious about selecting my wardrobe if I were to have an audience with royalty or be invited to meet with the president or some other important person. The Word of God gives me some instructions about protocol when showing up for my immensely more important summit meetings with the Lord.

What is appropriate when I come into the presence of God? Must I change my selection according to the season--or according to my season of life? Shall I wear the spirit of heaviness? Or the garment of praise? (Isaiah 61:3) What is more fitting for the occasion? The former seems too weighty for the rarified atmosphere at my summit. 
I admit that sometimes I do start to approach the Lord with a spirit of heaviness because of discouragement, physical weariness, the length of life's journey, or emotional pressures and stress. I join the Psalmist to question myself, “Why are you cast down (in despair, sunk down), O my soul (my inner self), and why have you become disturbed (disquieted, moaning) within me?” And then I answer myself with assurance and trust: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5 combining words from the Amplified version).

I am to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). At the gate the Lord has provided a changing room where I can “put on the garment of praise.” He hands me a “garland (ornament or diadem) of beauty in exchange for ashes” and anoints me with “the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:3).

This opportunity to change my apparel allows me to enter His royal presence with singing instead of sighing, with a light step instead of dragging my feet. My summit meetings with God may then become a time of refreshing and restoration and revive my drooping spirit whatever my season of life.


What shall I wear today, Lord?
I have a closet full of clothes
but I don't know what I'll face.
What appointments lie ahead?
Shall I wear blue denim or lace?

I just can't decide.
Lord, will You choose
my proper outfit?
I'm sure You will provide
whatever is in vogue and classy.
It will be fine with me
I know I'll be a hit.

Well, thanks—I guess.
What You chose does match:
military helmet and boots
all in camouflage
coordinating accessories
a belt of truth—
but a sword to use?

I can't really say
that I expected armor!
Something lighter perhaps
chic and trendy
even chosen in haste
would have been
more to my taste.

But You know best
what I will meet
in the marketplace
and on the street
that needs a shield
breastplate and sword
out on the field
of my day.

I feel secure now.
Come what may
I'll wear Your battle gear
more proudly than mink or sable
because this ensemble carries
Your designer label!

(Ephesians 6:10-18)