Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Violent disorder or commotion; haphazard or irregular motion in the atmosphere; a state of agitation or tumult; any disturbance from the ordinary; sudden upheaval from normal, peaceful, forward motion in the air; a bumpy ride” according to dictionary definition.

During my flights to and fro around the world I've often encountered turbulence as a physical phenomenon due to inclement weather. Or a stomach jerking upset from a sudden drop in elevation on an otherwise calm, sunny day. Whatever the cause, the warning light comes on and over the loud speaker the pilot instructs us to quickly return to our seats and fasten our seat belts. If the turbulence is thought to perhaps be severe or long lasting, passengers are warned to be ready to put on their oxygen masks.

In our daily lives as Christians we should be realistic and anticipate turbulence. Life isn't a picnic in the park or a bed of roses. We don't go through life merrily, merrily enjoying our comfort zone. Nor do we live in a protective bubble. Contrary to the popular song, “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I have a wonderful feeling everything's goin' my way.” Likely it is not. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). The latter verse is a pretty big order—all joy?

Our turbulence may be sudden or chronic, a health disorder “out of the blue,” or an unexpected disruption in a relationship, the loss of a loved one through death, a traumatic job loss or business reversal—any number of causes. Turbulence, not status quo or smooth sailing, is the norm for us while living in this fallen world and in our mortal “earth suits.” Presently I'm praying for 28 friends and relatives who are experiencing primarily serious health issue turbulence and have specifically asked for my prayers. This is not unusual but on-going; only the names of the people change.

What to do in times of turbulence? Sit tight, fear not, remain steadfast and unmovable. Put on our seat belt of faith. Grab and put on our oxygen mask of trust in God's goodness and plan for our lives. Take a deep breath and pray until the “All clear” light goes on again. Rely totally on God to pilot us safely through our turbulence of life, whatever it may be. Great is His faithfulness!

The Lord will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee” (Psalm 9:9,10).

Monday, May 30, 2016


To say “Thank you” is one of the first things parents try to teach their children when they are given something. And the child dutifully parrots “Thank you” upon being prompted, but next time the youngster might have to be reminded again.

When I awoke this morning, I was impressed to declare today a special THANKSGIVING DAY. Not like the first one in 1863 which Abraham Lincoln initiated, nor the one we now celebrate in November primarily with over indulgence on turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie...oh yes, and the green bean casserole.

Mine isn't a national holiday but a deliberate, personal, all day gratitude. Certainly I already do thank God on a regular basis. Nevertheless, I want officially, between God and me, to be alert and thank Him for EVERYTHING I see and feel and experience and encounter and think about today—people, places, and things. I want to notice them. To acknowledge them. To name each blessing in detail. And say “Thank You, Lord! with a grateful heart.

Thanks for EVERYTHING? Yes! For EVERYONE? Yes! AT ALL TIMES? Yes, all day and all night and ALWAYS! For ANYTHING? Yes, absolutely anything! Even for ALL THE “LITTLE STUFF?” There is no such thing as little stuff, no trivia. EVERYTHING comes generously as a gift from the heart of God. Nothing is to be taken for granted. Thanks for WHATSOEVER? Of course! Check it out at Colossians 3:15 and 17. EVEN IF I'M ANXIOUS, IN TROUBLE, FEARFUL, OVERWHELMED WITH ADVERSITY? Yes! No exceptions, even when things go wrong.

I'm going to practice “an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2) I know that is the will of God. “In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:18). Of course I want to obey God's will.

Now to get started. Thank You, Lord, that I woke up to another new day; for life itself; for life in Christ; that I slept well on a luxurious queen size mattress; that my CPAP system worked for my sleep apnea; that I can breathe throughout the day without extra oxygen; that I can put my feet on the floor, with strength to stand up and walk unassisted; for this house my son built for me, its incredible comforts and conveniences without number; for running water and a hot shower; for a modern, indoor bathroom and a flush toilet (which we didn't have as we traveled interior China); for most of the bodily organs in my "earth suit" that are still working after so many years of service; (and for those that aren't!); for healings and recoveries when I have needed them; that I still have most of my teeth to brush; for automatic heat or a/c; for age appropriate clothes to put on; for orthotics in my shoes; for my reading glasses and hearing aids; for my appetite and a still working digestive system; for food in the kitchen that I am able to prepare by myself; for the sunshine/rain and I'll let You decide which for today; for the assurance of Your Presence and something good to look forward to today in Your plan for my life; for a sound mind and fairly good memory; for...oh, so much I'm blessed with, and I've barely taken a few steps from my bedroom!

This is so exciting! Would you like to join me in this adventure to practice perpetual awareness of God's daily gifts for which to GIVE THANKS WITH A GRATEFUL HEART in detail today? Hopefully, more and more it will become my lifestyle day by day come what may.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Master Sculptor's Touch

It happened that this evening we had a dish of Chinese cabbage, bok choy, on our dinner table. And a Facebook friend referred to the jade sculpture of the vegetable in his post. An interesting coincidence?

The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan stands on a hilltop in the center of the capital city. I have been there. It houses hundreds of thousands of exquisite art objects from China's imperial courts, the world's largest permanent collection brought here by then President of China, Chiang Kai-shek, when he fled the communists to the island in 1949. The most famous masterpiece, however, isn't an elaborate scroll, a landscape painting or a heavy piece of jewelry. Rather, it's a little bok choy cabbage made of jadeite. Jade was reserved as a gift to be given to the imperial royalty in China to adorn their palaces. 
Hardly larger than a human hand, this jadeite cabbage is a perfect carving made out of an imperfect, cracked and rippled stone. Sculpted by an anonymous artist, it measures only 7.4 inches long by 3.6 inches wide by 2 inches deep. The way it is displayed is spectacular. At the center of a large, darkened room, glistening in a glass case, the cabbage's dark green leaves furl around a katydid and a locust, and the stalk pales into a translucent white. Two pale green bugs rest lightly on its leaves.

This simple cabbage is a masterpiece of perfection because it stands apart from a long tradition of idealized perfection in jade carving. What a sculptor ordinarily looks for is a piece of flawless jade of one solid color without cracks. It is among the hardest stones to work with. This piece of jadeite not only was cracked but had cloudy, opaque patches, which are visible in the white part of the cabbage's stalk. It's also a relatively young work, barely a hundred years old.

The cabbage's anonymous creator had to painstakingly grind away using the sand of even harder rocks, like rubies or garnets. There's none of the chiseling associated with carving marble, for example. That makes the two tiny bugs, with their reaching antennae and their long spindly legs that stand unsupported, especially remarkable achievements. He was a obviously a master carver who produced a masterpiece by using the weaknesses he found to make something strong and perfect. This valuable, diminutive piece of art is making an international tour to be displayed in famous museums of the world.

What a striking symbol of how our Master Creator works on us who are His weak, imperfect, flawed, common humanity! The bok choy cabbage is the most common and lowly vegetable on any Chinese table. It grows in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and combinations of white and shades of green. 

The Master Sculptor sees us not as we are, a cracked and unusable block of jade. He visualizes us as what we can become when we surrender to His skill. “But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” He takes our failures and defects and blemishes and makes something beautiful and priceless from something so mundane and ordinary.

One day we too will be found in the palace of the King of Kings.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


In pioneer days in America covered wagons were the primary across-the-country mode of transportation. Wild animals roamed the rugged terrain and Indian attacks were common. When pioneer families traveled, it was in a caravan in the company of other pioneers. 

Upon stopping to make camp for the night, the shout was heard, "Circle up the wagons!" Each wagon was put in its designated place around a tight circumference and a bonfire was usually started in the center. No gap was left between the wagons to prevent any stranger, enemy, or creature from sneaking through. The circle served as a safe haven. During the night, watchmen were selected from among the families to keep guard. They often sang songs loudly around the campfire to ward off potential enemies. Surrounded by fellow travelers, the parents and children could lie down in peace and sleep in security.

Some Christians in our day try to be “Lone Rangers” in the sense of ignoring God's loving provision of safety and strength and growth spiritually in the company of other believers. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). That is as foolish as it would have been for a pioneer family to attempt traversing the wild plains and forests and mountains alone on their uncharted Westward journey. Such Christians tend to isolate themselves from fellow believers in times of trouble and need, reluctant even to ask for support in prayer.

Jesus Christ established His Body, the Church, with its many and various parts, to be dependent upon and receive help from the other parts of His Body for mutual strength. God means us to be interdependent, to look after each others backs, and give of ourselves sacrificially for others. We are meant to pray for and encourage one another and “bear one anther’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” the law of love. 

I'm ever so thankful for my group of “First Responders,” eager an d faithful brothers and sisters in Christ scattered all over the country and the world, who quickly and joyfully surround me in prayer in my time of need or intercede for an urgent need expressed by someone else. They are my circle of strength like the circle of pioneer covered wagons.

In times of darkness and danger, some people whistle in the dark to keep up their spirits. A song on our lips and in our hearts infuses strength into our souls, just as the apostle Paul and Silas sang songs of praise to God while chained in prison at midnight.

The Scripture reinforces this with the declaration, “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7). Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness shall surround him” (v.10). “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 125:2). When we ask for the intercession of fellow believers on earth and from those of God's children who have already gone before us into His presence, we receive help from above. Jesus, our One Mediator between God and men, “ever lives to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). “The righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me" (Psalm 142:7).

The Lord always acts over and above whatever we ask or think to care for His children. He sends His angel messengers and watchers, sometimes visible, sometimes invisible, to surround us. Other versions of Scripture translate the word surround, “to encamp round about us.” “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” All of Psalm 91 is chock full of God's promises of shelter and deliverance as we abide under the shadow of the Almighty—another reminder of the covered wagon circles of safety.

Let's pitch our tent (or park our covered wagon, so to speak) together with other believers so that we may all journey life's road in safety and peace through the growing dark night of fear that threatens us when we look around at world events.

Friday, May 27, 2016


My teenage grandson Jeffrey programmed my smart-phone to allow me access to emails that arrive on my main computer in my writing studio. However, when I open the cell phone after a lapse of time, not all current email messages are visible at first. One of the convenient features is an option at the lower left of the screen displaying the large word REFRESH. I click that word and Voila! all the emails that have arrived since I last checked, immediately jump on to the little screen on my smart-phone. I can receive the messages wherever I am. But not without first clicking REFRESH.

In some other places on my main computer, a symbol alerts me that I can also click there to REFRESH and receive new data. It's the open circle pictured at the top of this post—an arrow tip on the end of the circle going clockwise. When I activate that, all recent data appears on the screen. I like technology, at least the small fraction that I'm familiar with and can manage for my writing and publishing. I'm happy to be a learner from younger generations—my sons and their children! As they say on TV, "Grandchildren are free tech support!"

It's my habit each morning a good while before I actually get out of bed, even while I'm barely awake, to initiate a REFRESH gesture toward God. I want to jump-start my relationship with the Lord for that particular day every morning so I can tap into His goodness and mercy that I will need for whatever comes up that day. I want to let Him know that I'm thankful for His generous gift of a fresh, new day of life, let Him know that I love Him, am committed to obey Him, and desire to do His will on earth as it is done in Heaven. I tell Him so every day. Doesn't He get tired of my repetition?

Why should I want to do that? God knows all things already. He knows that I love Him. We have a long track record together since I first got to know Him in my childhood.

By the seashore after His resurrection, Jesus asked the disciple Peter three times whether he loved Him. After the third time, Peter became somewhat exasperated that Jesus asked him the same question repeatedly. He replied “You know everything, Lord, you know that I love You.” Jesus obviously wanted Peter to articulate it—aloud. Because of Peter's previous three times denial of Jesus, He wanted Peter to REFRESH/RESTORE/RENEW his relationship solidly with Jesus and start afresh. There was serious Kingdom work ahead for him to do, and love for the Lord was the indispensable motivation. Love would accelerate and facilitate all that Peter was to do for Jesus.

So why would I want to REFRESH? Because Jesus needs to hear my voice too. By re-declaring my love for Him each morning I REAFFIRM our relationship for each new day. I may need RESTORING too, so I pray “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” I may have drifted; I may have fallen short of my commitment to Him in my yesterdays; I may have let the cares of this world divert my focus from His face; I may have “leaked” my filling of the Holy Spirit and need to be refilled with a fresh anointing. I myself need to hear my own voice declaring my love for Him and my need to nestle fully in His embrace for another day. It renews my mind. The devil is not omniscient. I also need to let him hear me say aloud that I belong to God, so hands off. My verbal declaration makes him run and gets him off my back.

During the height of the move of the Holy Spirit that swept through mainline Protestant churches and the Catholic Church a few decades ago, we often sang a little chorus that expressed our warm, personal devotion to the Lord: 

I love You Lord, and I lift my voice. I worship You; O my soul, rejoice! Take joy my King, in what You hear. Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”
And another: “Father, I adore You; I lay my life before You; How I love You!” And then it was repeated substituting “Jesus” and “Holy Spirit” for the word “Father.” It is still my devotional habit to sing to the Lord. “Let me hear your voice,” is God's invitation in Scripture. 

Here's the clincher: My REFRESH posture and action then brings with it like receiving my current emails, the new messages from God that He wants me to know which I might have missed because I haven't accessed them yet. I take the posture of Samuel who was told by Eli to open himself to hear God's voice by declaring aloud, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me,” Jesus stated. My REFRESH action in my spirit opens my ears to enable me to hear His voice clearly without static and set my course of obedience to His specific instructions for me each new day. “Today, if you would hear His voice, harden not your hearts,” the Word of God invites. “Draw near unto Him, and He will draw near unto you.”

If I want to hear God's voice, and bring in His fresh messages uniquely for me, I need to first let Him hear my voice anew every morning. He doesn't get tired of my repetition as I REFRESH our relationship!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016


I  don't know why an owl is the symbol for WISDOM. I'll have to research that. An owl always seems to look a little angry in its facial expression and that's not a very inviting advertisement for wisdom. Nor does wisdom come instantly. To "be wise" is not something we suddenly decide to be, but something acquired patiently with age and experience and walking with God. 

We need wisdom in every season of our mortal lives. In childhood, however, we really can't expect to find it because we have not grown sufficiently and life has not unfolded yet. We are too fresh, untried, and unproven. Youth is in the experimental stage; life is being tested, knowledge is being accumulated. Youthful wisdom? Not so much. In prime years wisdom and folly are being sorted out; we make some good choices; some foolish decisions take us on detours and onto rabbit trails.

It is in advanced years that wisdom is expected to flower and bear fruit and its fragrance waft to others. At least that's the proverbial ideal track. It is in our vintage years that our spiritual grapes should be ripened and sweet. Mature Christians, those who have accumulated many decades, are finally supposed to be wise. Those who come after us are expected to happily appreciate and benefit from our collected, well-tried experience. 

That may not always be so. Sometimes, unfortunately, those in vintage years speak and act foolishly. And because the young insist on making their own mistakes, they are reluctant to profit from the experience of their elders. So history repeats itself. We who are hopefully wise and mature should be careful to dispense our wisdom only when or if it is requested. Otherwise, let's zip the lips! That in itself is golden wisdom.

The wisdom I seek for myself in my mature years is wisdom to live in the will and purposes of God. In my youth, the days seemed to stretch open-ended and could hardly be counted. The aging Moses reflected on this transient life in Psalm 90: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” I want to choose and act prudently as the path of life narrows and my remaining days can actually be numbered. My reflection on that theme follows.

My Prayer for Wisdom

God, grant me the wisdom of mature years 
to circumvent the potential foolishness of aging.

*When You see me playing in the spiritual shallows, Lord, beckon me out of the wading pool into Your deep waters.
*If I feel bogged down in meaningless routine, turn the plain water of my daily life into “the best wine saved until last.”
*When I tend to resist change and settle in my comfort zone, grant me an open spirit and a growing, receptive mind.
*If I’ve lost my get-up-and-go, show me how to “rise and take up my bed and walk.”
*When my leaves are withered and dry, revive me to be “full of sap and very green.”
*When my fruit is scanty and sour, show me how to “flourish like the palm tree.”
*If the embers of my first love for You are growing cold, fan them into flame by Your Holy Spirit.
*When the noise of my busy activity drowns out Your still small voice, quiet me to wait on You in contemplative silence.
*If the soil of my life is depleted and lies fallow, break up the clods, supply fresh nutrients, and make straight my furrows.
*When my prayers seem to be unanswered and my spirit is arid, open the floodgates to let Your Rivers of Living Water flow again.
*Where my life is out of balance and I lose my footing, help me restore eternal priorities to keep from stumbling.
*When my vision for Your Kingdom has grown dim, touch my eyes to see again Your destiny for me.
*If I’ve become slow of speech to declare Your message, open my lips to boldly proclaim Your Good News.
*If I can't hear Your voice clearly, send Your Holy Spirit to be my hearing aid.
*If my memory begins to slip, help me remember that You never leave me or forsake me.
*When I’m weary from the length of life’s journey, draw me close to Your bosom to find comfort and rest.
*If I’m laboring to bear scarcely thirty-fold fruit, teach me to abide in You to effortlessly produce by Your wisdom a hundred-fold.
*Where some good seed of Your Word still lies dormant as I advance in years, send the gentle rain of Your Spirit so I can bear an abundant late harvest.
*When I am tired and lack motivation to press on, restore iron to my soul and strength to my weak knees and limp arms.
*When I drag my feet to do Your will, energize me with the adrenalin of Your Holy Spirit.
*When I’m short of breath from life’s fast pace, inflate my lungs with Your Breath of Life.
*If I grip material possessions too tightly, teach me to hold loosely the things of this world.
*If I open my mouth to speak foolish words, show me how to put a watch on my lips.
*When I’m afraid of the darkness around me, take my hand to walk in Your Light.
*When my emotions roller-coaster out of control, teach me to set my affection on things above, not on things of earth.
*When anxiety about the future threatens to overwhelm me, remind me of Your great faithfulness in times past.
*If my appetite becomes jaded by the world’s junk food, give me Yourself as my Daily Bread and Wine in the Eucharist.
*When I think I’ve reached the limit of my endurance, help me persevere in Your strength to run with patience the last mile Home.
*When thoughts of my mortal end cause me fear, remind me that You are preparing a Place for me in Your Father’s House.
Adapted from the Preface of Leona's most recent book, #3 in her Trilogy of LAND OF MORE books titled STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT. Copies of the #3 Trilogy are available from Leona. Order by email.
Note: There are 31 petitions: One petition a day for a month to pray, meditate on, and internalize.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


The day after Pentecost Sunday, God took us through an object lesson with spiritual implications.

My broadcast engineer son Rick was helping a new Christian radio station obtain a power increase from the F.C.C. The station's start-up wattage was only strong enough to reach the local, adjacent population. It was imperative to apply for, purchase, and have engineered a new antenna which would enhance its signal to cover parts of four states and greatly increase the gospel outreach to the ears of thousands of additional listeners. It was a costly project monetarily that had to be handled in a precise, technical manner.

The installation of the antenna to the 150 foot tower on the top of the highest mountain (2700 feet above sea level) in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia coincided with Pentecost Sunday. The original Pentecost two thousand years ago was the point of “power increase” Jesus promised His disciples. This gave us pause.

An increase of power was sorely needed by the disciples whom Jesus commissioned to go to all the world and preach the gospel. They were a band of rag-tag fragile and flawed men whom Jesus trusted to become apostles to all mankind. Even after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection they still did not fully understand God's Kingdom plan and were hiding away overwhelmed by fear and weakness. Their human strength was limited and their spiritual insight was out of focus. They were instructed by Jesus to “wait for their power increase” before they ventured to carry forth the gospel to people immersed in the pagan culture of the times.

It would be costly—all but one of the disciples would be martyred as they carried out His Great Commission. Nevertheless, from the blood of the martyrs sprang the Church that “the gates of hell could not prevail against” to this present day.

Nor do we, as Christians living in this equally pagan world, dare to “live and move and have our being” according to our calling or state of life without the power increase of the filling of the Holy Spirit day by day. It grows more necessary and more costly as time goes on to follow Christ because this wicked generation seeks to stamp out the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. Just as “the Light shown in darkness” at the first coming of Jesus (John 1:4,5) and “the darkness did not overcome it,” so we who belong to Christ must boldly and without fear carry forth His Light until His return to earth again.

Christ has commissioned each of us to place His Light on the Lamp-stand of whatever place in life He has planted us or through whatever platform He has given us. It may not be from a high tower on top of a mountain, but to the precious people in our immediate orbit of life.

Let's not try to do so without the “power increase” of the Holy Spirit's fresh anointing day by day—cost what it may! God's Kingdom work is at stake and Jesus is trusting us!

Saturday, May 21, 2016


po-ster'-i-ti: succeeding or future generations; all descendants of one person

I imagine that viewers of my blog are various ages, but I believe mostly adults in mid-years and those well-seasoned in life: parents, and grandparents, perhaps. All of us, however, are part of some family grouping. And by virtue of being blog viewers, we are part of the Internet community with the ability to reach out to anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world.

Many of us are separated by distance from young members on our family tree and may feel that we are limited in the impact or influence we can have on the younger generation in our familial circle. Nothing could be further from the truth! Youngsters are growing up incredibly tech-savvy these days and as a result are reachable instantly—it is we who need to be on our toes to sharpen our communications skills and get with it to prayerfully impact our posterity.

We have no excuse. Opportunities are multiple to reach out and tech-touch them. Occasions like school performances, birthdays, baptisms, sports events, graduations, receiving awards, engagements, weddings, births, relationship shuffles, new jobs, driver's license test passed, milestones of any kind—the possibilities are endless. Whatever is happening in the lives of your little or big kiddos is grist for the mill of our attempt to touch their lives. Even a “Hey, I was just thinking about you...!” might be the arrow that will hit the heart-target of a grandkid of whatever age.

Simply signing a Hallmark card or slipping a check in it is a poor substitute. Let's offer them a piece of our heart while we can. We will not always be around to do so, and we have no idea how a genuine expression of our interest might encourage them on their life journey. Yeah, I know, kids are cool and sophisticated these days and their peers are uppermost on their minds, but let's take the risk of reaching out to them inter-generationally and leave the results to God. It's a given that we have to follow our tech-touch with prayer which is the ultimate power thrust, right?

Here's a recent one of mine to a “not-yet-reader” (via parental help) but I'm thinking ahead—and praying forward....

Dear Myla Wynne, my sweet Great-Granddaughter,

We don't know each other very well yet because you are only a year old and we don't see each other very often. I live quite far from your house. But I pray for you every day that Jesus will take care of you as you grow up to be a big girl.

May 15, 2016 is your baptism day. You won't remember it because you are too young. Everyone takes pictures so that when you are older, that will help you remember the day. I'm giving you a silver frame to remember this day and Mommy will put your baptism picture in it. 
Baptism is such a very special day and God is excited about it! On that day your Daddy and Mommy let everyone know that you belong to Jesus, that Jesus loves you, and they love Jesus and want Him to take care of you for all your life long. As you grow older, you will learn to love Jesus too. Your parents will tell you about Jesus, your big sister Makenna will read stories about Jesus to you, and your Church will teach you about Him. 
We are also celebrating your first birthday this month, Myla! You have grown so much since you and I had our picture taken together on my 90th birthday. You don't remember that day because you were a little baby. That was the first day that I met you! Now you are walking by yourself!
I'm giving you a little birthday gift of a book of animal noises for you to listen to. Jesus made all the animals in the world. He must have had fun creating such a variety—some are funny looking, some make strange noises, some are big, some are little, some are fuzzy, some have spots and stripes. You can make animal noises too like those in the book, but soon you will learn people-talk because you are different from the animals. God made you a human person!

Your baptism day will be a big deal for the many people who love you and are joining in the celebration at your Church. I'm excited to be coming too! 

 And at your very first birthday party with all the grown ups watching, that will be your one and only chance to eat your birthday cake with both hands and stuff the frosting into your mouth!

Great-Grandma “Bubi” Leona

Thursday, May 19, 2016


I wouldn't exactly describe my blog as "a hungry monster," although a famous Christian blogger said that about his blog recently. I do understand what he means, however. Meaningful blogging takes a huge hunk of time.

I admire that blogger. He is unbelievably prolific in posting comments about almost everything under the sun including his Christian view of politics and international events with such skill and regularity that it boggles my mind. He must have a hundred thousand viewers! He declared that a blog is very demanding and insists on “being fed daily” or his viewers/readers begin to think there is something wrong with him. Having blogged for ten years, he says that he may be in blog burnout and he plans to try some fresh blog approaches.

Okay, believe it or not, I've blogged for a decade too, but I am small potatoes in comparison. I'm not comparing. I'm certainly not an able commentator on world events and I'm not in his league. On my blog Home Page in the right hand column I tell my viewers honestly what to expect in my blog.


I primarily share excerpts from my current writings and books in progress and personal reflections on my life experiences as a Christian. Far from being consistent in my posting, I might offer a number of posts in one mega-productive day and then not even post for awhile due to my writing and publishing schedule and time and energy and family constraints. Some of my posts have found their way into my published books. Depending on the length of the generous bonus life span the Lord is giving me on Planet Earth, and the strength He provides, I'll stop writing when God brings me to His Finish Line! But if He still needs writers and editors in Heaven to help out the Angel Communications Department, perhaps I'll have an opportunity to serve God by continuing to write in His presence in our Eternal Dimension!”

I've pretty well kept up my “feast or famine” posting. Since what I post has its source in what is happening to me or what I am thinking or observing, I don't lack for ideas. I have notebooks and journals crammed with ideas. The problem is that I've also been an editor for a lifetime. I can't simply dash off a raw idea and call it a post. Truly, it takes me too long to craft a post well, edit and polish it. I often spend an inordinate amount of time finding just the right pictorial image to go with the post. I hold myself to a high standard of having something worthwhile to share with my faithful viewers or I don't post.

Of course, I don't really know who is out there in the blogosphere or who decides to check my blog on any given day. I can know how many people view my blog daily, monthly, and yearly. Through the wonders of the automatic blog overview feature, it offers me the running totals. It keeps track automatically on a graph and chart and even tells me what part of the world my viewers are in. For instance, I know that more than 119 people read what I wrote this morning before 11, there were nearly 2,000 views of my blog last month, and 56,000 views for all of my 660 posts since I started blogging. That's still comparatively small potatoes. To me, however, it is GIGANTIC potatoes because it is my God-given ministry for this season of my life. I thank God for such an opportunity to reach people without ever leaving my home. Te Deum laudamus!

Most of my viewers I've never met face to face. The Holy Spirit invisibly networked us together. Usually they have found me in some way. Lasting personal friendships have developed between some of us which may continue into Heaven's dimension. There we'll have the joy of meeting for the first time soul-to-soul! I have a prayer bond with some of my viewers which I treat with great care. I try to be a good steward of each viewer who has chosen to communicate with me for counsel or sharing or prayer.

My posts have typically been only one page long after concise self-editing. However, I'd like to experiment with a new approach and shorten my posts still more into “sound bites.” As a viewer, of course you can't hear them or chew them. What I mean is that I'll throw out a thought or an idea or a quote or a Scripture passage that I've been meditating on but have not fully developed yet. A word-snack, you might call it. Perhaps like an appetizer. In that way I could post more often and not feel that I have to wait until I've invested a lot of time on creative crafting before I post. There may not always be a picture or image with it, okay?

Contrary to some of my peers in our advanced season of life, I love change, variety, risk, and growth. Status quo is not my cup of tea. I believe in continuing to live “full of sap and very green” as David the Psalmist described what those in advanced years should still be like. (Psalm 92:12-15) Shall I try out this brevity posting and let you sample it? Bear with me as I experiment.  

Your feedback is most welcome as I may try feeding my own "blog monster" smaller portions but keep them tasty.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I had other plans for my blog post today. But when I received a copy of the sermon which my good friend in Nova Scotia, Pastor Alan, preached this past Sunday, I was strongly impressed to pass it on to my blog friends as a Guest Post. I believe there is someone out there in my blogosphere whom God wants to encourage with this post. In fact, I believe most of us are at times, if not at this very moment, in some WAITING mode and feeling the impatience that comes with it.


Who of us enjoys the experience of waiting for something to happen? Most of us can't stand waiting! We endure it for a while, but sooner or later we grow frustrated. As someone has said, “Waiting on God is the hardest discipline of the Christian life.” Are you a discontented, disgruntled “waiter” or one who delights in God during the waiting process He leads us through at times?


We are scheduled for a doctor's appointment, and arrive only to find we may be waiting for an hour or more. Some of us are waiting for money to arrive. I often hear seniors saying, “This is the day the checks come in. Grocery day today.” It's spring and some of us have been waiting for it to warm up enough to get our gardens going. Young people are often anxiously waiting to grow up. And then to have a career. And then to meet Mr. Right or Mrs. Right. I remember anxiously wondering if I would ever get married since I did not marry until my early thirties. We spend an awful lot of time waiting in long lines. In fact, statistics say that six months of our lives will be spent waiting in lines. Sometimes we hear the expression, “I'm waiting for my ship to come in.”

If you fly, you know all about waiting. If we are flying in Canada, we need to arrive at the airport an hour and a half ahead of the flight, longer for an international flight. Even then, the flight may be delayed and the wait will stretch out still longer. Then we are treated to the experience of waiting out the long flight, followed by waiting for our luggage to be off loaded. 
It's interesting how much waiting is involved in two of our most popular sports, hockey and baseball. In baseball, you wait for something to happen and that can take a while before there is any action. The game of hockey actually only involves one hour of playing, but that is extended by all the stops and starts every time the puck goes to the wrong the place or a rule gets broken.

We live in a high speed, highly driven culture. You can wake up in the morning, have instant coffee, instant oats, etc. We can lunch at MacDonalds where a meal is considered late if food arrives five minutes delayed. People rush to and fro on city streets, drivers zooming by honk their horns. The message: “Get out of my way. I don't like to wait.”


Waiting is a spiritual experience in which God has much to teach us. We're familiar with the widow in the Bible story who got fed up with waiting for justice from the judge and pounded on his door in the middle of the night. This was a parable about persevering in prayer when God seems slow to answer. We wait for a particular promise from God to be fulfilled in our lives, for circumstances to turn around for better. We wait for God to give us victory over bad habits and lousy attitudes. Christians are waiting for our Lord to return to earth. 
If you have found yourself waiting on God, you have lots of company. Abraham and Sarah waited fifteen years longer after God promised their miracle boy. Moses languished in the Sinai wilderness for forty years before God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Jesus waited thirty years to begin a three year ministry. Today is the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, and we are reminded that the disciples had to wait forty days for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 
Then there is the experience of heartbreak and hopelessness at the Pool of Bethesda. The sick and disabled gathered there as it was believed an angel came down from heaven every so often to stir the water. The first one into the water would receive a healing. When our Lord visited the place, He encountered a man who had waited there thirty-eight long years. Can you imagine how the poor guy felt, heartbroken and hopeless every time he helplessly watched others getting to the water before him? 
Ever feel like you are in a holding pattern? That term comes from the world of aviation. At a busy airport like Toronto, the planes will be stacked up, told to stay in a holding pattern before taking off or flying in circles until it is their turn to land. Some of us can relate to the experience of Israel in the wilderness, wandering in circles for forty years.


Quite often, unable to stand the stress of waiting any longer, people make mistakes. They do not handle waiting well. Some examples:
  • We decide to help God, look for a short cut to speed things up. When baby Isaac was slow to arrive, Sarah told Abraham, “Look, if you are ever going to have a male heir, you need to sleep with my maidservant Hagar.” Both Abraham and Sarah knew God had given them His Word. Both sinned by circumventing that word. Ever since, the Arab and Jewish peoples have been at loggerheads.
  • Impatience causes us to say, “I must do something.” But the Bible reminds us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Ps. 127:1
  • Unwilling to wait things out, we say, “I'm going anyway, even if God has not told me to.” This was the case with the Israelites when Moses informed them they would not be allowed into Canaan and would have to wander in the wilderness for forty years until they died because of their unbelief. They were angered at this, and said, “We will go up against the giants anyway.” As a result, they were defeated and suffered great loss of life because God had removed His protection from them.
  • When the waiting seems long, we start to second guess God and grow doubtful of His ways.
  • We start to believe devilish lies, e.g. “God must be punishing me. He doesn't hear me.”
  • Sometimes, our inability to wait well can result in less than appropriate behavior. I read about a guy who became very frustrated when the airline announced that his flight would be delayed. He marched up to the ticket counter and pompously said, “I need to be on that flight right now and I need to be in first class.” The agent responded, “I'm sorry sir, that will not be possible. The flight has been delayed.” The man impatiently tapped the counter and said, “Do you know who I am?” The agent picked up the telephone and announced, “We have a person here who does not know who he is. Can anyone help him find his identity?”


There is something to discover in God's waiting room. We can discover the God of whom Isaiah wrote these beautiful words, “No eye has seen a God besides You who works on behalf of those who wait for Him.” Is. 64:1 Wow! There is alot being said there. God is unique and competent to meet all our needs. He is always working, sometimes in obvious ways, some times behind the scenes, to meet our every need. Note what the condition of His working is: He “works on behalf of those who wait for Him.” Conversely, He will not work on behalf of those who do not wait for Him. 
After the Lord had healed the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, the Pharisees criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath. He responded, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” Jn. 5:17 Our Father is a God worth waiting for. Trust His timing!

Waiting on God presents us with an opportunity to experience God's transforming work and see it manifested in others. For example, when our Lord was informed that His friend Lazarus was sick unto death, He waited three days before arriving in Bethany. Martha met Him outside the village and accusingly told Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Christ told her to only believe and she would see the glory of God. He then revealed Himself as the Resurrection and the Life by raising Lazarus from the dead. 
Here is a true story about the value of waiting. Brenda decided to celebrate her birthday by going rock climbing with friends. Half way up the cliff, Brenda stopped to rest. As she wiped her brow with her sleeve, the rope from which she was suspended snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens. This greatly distressed her as her sight was quite blurry without it. She prayed, “Lord, what am I going to do? I need that lens.” The verse, “The eyes of the Lord are running to and fro throughout the earth.” came to mind. In despondency, she finished the ascent of the cliff and made her way back down the mountain trail with her friends. At the bottom, another party of climbers was preparing for their climb. One climber asked if anyone had lost a contact lens. Brenda immediately informed him she sure had. The climber told her, “An ant was moving slowly across the face of this rock carrying it.” Brenda's father is a cartoonist, and when he heard this story, he created a cartoon of the ant carrying the contact lens with the caption, “Lord I don't know why you want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what you want me to do, I will carry it for you.”

That's the way it works with God's answers while we wait. Believe He is working behind the scenes, and your answer is on the way, slowly, steadily, surely.


That is the kind of question a Type A personality would ask. Type As are highly driven, action-oriented people. Nothing drives them crazy like having to linger in wait mode. For starters, here is what we can be doing while we wait on God. I am fond of acrostics and ran across this one.

W—Watch for God to work His ways in your situation. “Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2

A—Ask God about His purpose for your waiting. Some are of the school of thought that you should never ask God about His ways. Just grin, bear it and endure. But in the Psalms, we often find David asking, “Why?” and he was called a man after God's own heart. In the end, his why always lead him to surrendering the matter to God. He also prayed, “Teach me Your ways.” I do not believe God is put off by our asking questions. The way I see it, if He wants us to know what is going on, He will share it. If not, He will say, “Not for you to know right now. Leave it with me.” I happily accept whatever He says.

I—Invite Him to do His work in you while you wait.

T—Trust that God has a plan and is in the process of fulfilling His plan for you.

Okay, here are some suggestions of things to do while we wait on God.
  • REST QUIETLY “Be still and know that I am God.” “In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.” Is. 30:15
  • SEEK THE COUNSEL OF GOD On one occasion, David consulted God as to whether he should go after his enemies who had plundered his camp. God assured him he would be successful. 2 Sam. 5:19 Let your time of waiting be a time of seeking God in prayer. Gordon Jenson wrote a song about waiting. Here are a few lines: “Nobody wants to wait until the Lord has spoken. Nobody wants to wait and so their hearts get broken. They make their plans in their own ways 'cause nobody wants to wait.”
  • WAIT IN EXPECTATION A pregnant mom knows all about that. It's nine months of saying, “I'm expecting.” The psalmist said, “Morning by morning, I lay my requests before You. I wait in expectation.” Ps. 5:3 Billy Graham says, “Heaven is full of answers to questions no one ever bothered to ask. God's answer is ready. It's just waiting for our personal, persistent prayer.”
  • HAVE A BLAST WHILE YOU LAST!” One pastor shares that upon beginning a new pastorate, he met the church secretary, a woman in her seventies named Shirley Banta. She never tired of telling him, “Have a blast while you last.” Sounds like great advice to me, even while we wait on God.
  • CULTIVATE THE SPIRIT OF WAITING. Even when life is going great, cultivate the spirit of waiting on God. Leave your cares and concerns with Him, knowing that “victory belongs to the Lord.” In the midst of activity, we need to constantly cultivate the spirit of waiting. A thought to ponder, eh?

We hear alot of talk these days about role models and mentors. Well, God gives us a role model and mentor in Joseph. He was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. There he was accused of a crime he did not commit, was imprisoned and had to tough it out for fifteen years. He ended up being catapulted into the prime minister's job in Egypt. Here is how he handled his waiting. Gen. 40
  • He remained faithful to his God and resolved to do the best he could in his situation. As a result, the warden placed him in charge of the prisoners. Some one came up with this profound little gem. “The secret of your future is found in your daily routine.” Ever feel like you have hit a wall? The author Elisabeth Elliott advised us to do the next thing, “because there is always a next thing that needs to be done.” v.1—4
  • Stay ready for your big moment. Day in and day out, Joseph kept on serving God in prison. He kept himself ready for his big moment. The day came when the king complained to his cupbearer who had been released from prison that he had had a dream he did not understand. The cupbearer suddenly remembered he had been asked by Joseph to put in a good for him years ago, but had forgotten in the joy of his own release. He then told the king about Joseph's gift of interpreting dreams. Joseph was summoned, interpreted the dream, and became prime minister of Egypt.
  • Be bold. Some believe that if you are in a horrible situation, you should just tough it out, keep your mouth shut and resign yourself to it. Yet the apostle Paul three times pleaded with the Lord to be healed from what many Bible scholars think might have been an eye issue. In the case of Joseph, when he heard that the cupbearer was to be released, he boldly spoke to him, asking him to put in a good word for him with the king when he had opportunity.
Some would say, “But all those wasted years!” Yet God was fashioning Joseph into a future prime minister who would not only be used to save Egypt, but the Jewish nation in seed form.


God knows there is no shortage of discontented, disgruntled waiters. He is looking for delightful partners in the waiting process, those who will use the time to delight in Him in a deeper way. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” There are a number of times where we find Christ partnering with people for a miracle.
  • At the wedding in Cana, His mother pointed out there was no more wine. She waited for Him to do something about it. He seemed to deflect her request at first, saying, “My time is not yet come.” Then He told the servants to fill the stone water pots. He could have simply waved His hand for the miracle of new wine, but He chose to partner with people.
  • After He was resurrected, the Lord waited on the shore as the discouraged, tired disciples came in from a night of unrewarded fishing. He asked them to launch out into the deep and put their nets down again. He could have waved His hand for a miracle catch of net-breaking, boat-sinking fish, but chose to partner with them.
  • At the tomb of Lazarus, our Lord could easily have commanded the rock rolled across the tomb to be rolled away, but He chose to partner with people, asking them to roll it away before calling Lazarus out of the tomb. Pastor Keith Foskey writes, “God always expects us to do our best and He will do the rest.”
  • King David loved to worship his God. He longed to build a Temple for his God. But God told him, “This is not for you. You have been a man of war and have blood on your hands. Your son Solomon will be doing this.” David could have griped, but he chose to partner with God and use the time he had remaining wisely. He drew up the blueprints for the Temple, and began to assemble all the materials Solomon was going to need. It became a two man operation. David laid the groundwork. Solomon brought the dream into reality. As Keith Foskey puts it so well, “Waiting for God does not mean doing nothing. It means doing what we can while we can while always being careful not to run ahead of God.”
Okay, where does all of this leave you? Are you a disgruntled, discontented “waiter” or a delightful partner with God in His waiting process? Joan Baez, a folk singer with a long career, had it right when she wrote, “You don't get to choose how you are going to die or when. You only get to choose how you will live now.” The psalmist made his choice. “I waited patiently for the Lord...He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Ps. 40:1—3 God is a God worth waiting for. Don't you think so?

(Additional Scriptures used in the above message: Ps. 37:1—7; Is. 64:4—5; Jn. 5:1—18)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Good cooks often add a surprising ingredient to a favorite recipe that changes the entire taste and makes it all work smoothly together. They usually keep it hush-hush.

I've been trying to unpack God's recipe for answers to prayer as Saint Paul understood and recorded it in Philippians 4:6,7. Anxiety seemed to be the launching pad for this verse on prayer. What did that have to do with anything? Was there a secret ingredient? I think I found it in plain sight. No secret about it!

Let's first take a look at the verses in the New American Standard Version:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Why did Paul zero in on anxiety (worry) when discussing prayer? He was echoing Jesus. In the sixth chapter of Matthew, twice Jesus commands, not merely recommends or suggests, “Do not be anxious.” He further questions, “Why are you anxious?” and then itemizes concrete examples so we won't miss what we are generally most anxious about: food, drink, bodily needs, clothing, life itself, the span of our lives, the future, our tomorrows—totally comprehensive. None of the basics are left out. Jesus tells us not even to speak of anxiety about such things or take thought about them. He contrasts the anxiety of non-believers, who “eagerly seek” after all such things, with what the children of our Heavenly Father should seek after. In our case, we are not asking God for something He doesn't already know we need.

So what does Jesus say we should rather do? GO BIRD WATCHING AND SMELL THE ROSES to understand what He is teaching us! We are supposed to look UP at the birds of the air and look DOWN at the lilies of the field. We should be far-sighted and have the eternal perspective and literal to be relevant. To put it into practice we should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and all the above will be taken care of. Period. Full stop. No anxiety allowed. Worry replaced by trust in our Heavenly Father's care.

Saint Paul embraced and experienced Jesus' teaching and passed it on to us in this Philippians verse. Note the superlatives: NOTHING, EVERYTHING. He understood Jesus' antidote for anxiety—trust in God's providence. Only that would lead to PEACE! WHICH SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION!

But did you notice the secret ingredient that we must add if we want to pray God's way and receive God's answers to our prayers—plus peace? “With thanksgiving!” We are to link every request with an expression of gratitude! Such a simple secret! I shouldn't ask for anything without coupling it with thanking God for something specific: each request hand in hand with an item of thanks. Reasonable? Workable? Try it and see.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” God put the secret ingredient out in plain sight in Scripture so that we wouldn't miss it. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”

What is it about this secret ingredient to prayer that I do not understand? I think I get it now!

Let's try to further unpack these verses by looking at them in the Amplified Paraphrased version of the Bible:
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition [definite requests] with thanksgiving continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Italics mine)

Let's not miss the two areas of our being that God's peace protects if we stop being anxious and implicitly trust God: our heart (emotional reaction) and mind (our worry center). The visual analogy is that God's peace is like an armed guard pacing back and forth to protect and guard the danger parts of our being that are vulnerable to anxiety. The verse ends by reminding us of the place we must be, “in Christ,” in order to offer our prayers and petitions to God in the first place.

Now that I've discovered “the secret ingredient” I'm going to try being more watchful to sincerely tag every request I make of my Heavenly Father with a corresponding expression of gratitude so that I qualify for the peace He promised. Will you try it with me?