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Our Weakness Can Be Our Strength.

My new writing project is stretching me out of my comfort zone but that’s good.  I think because the topic of my book is about deep devotion to Christ and the creative pursuit of God, which is the highest form of art that arises from our soul. My main problem is that an overwhelming amount of content wants a place in my book. It is like a tsunami of living water that I’m trying to tame into a peaceful brook.

Yeah! Anyway, here’s a single quote that rose to the surface today:

 “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A. W. Tozer.

While doing some research, I came across this artist, Paul Smith. He brings to life the meaning of this Scripture: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10 NKJV).

This is such a moving testimony. Watch to the very end; God is being glorified through this artist.  You’ll want to share it.




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Treasures of Earth Don’t Compare to God’s Treasures

Last week I vacationed at the beach in South Carolina. Looking down from an eighth floor condo at the ocean, I noticed a guy with a metal detector on the shore looking for buried treasures. He stepped slowly, methodically swinging his contraption back and forth in front of him, his head cast downward, eyes fixed on the ground in front of him. Something inside me felt sorry for him. I wondered how much time and hope he put into his pursuit of beachcombing. All around him was a breathtaking, majestic scene–one I had driven hours in order to see and experience.

Gazing out at the horizon made my soul soar. The sun rose in the morning sky of scattered clouds, casting a heavenly golden hue on everything; the sound of the steady waves pounded the shore, the gentle beeze added to the beauty of the hour. The beach was rather solitary because it was not a warm day, not yet the tourist season.

God quickened my heart to see a parable because the beachcomber was in my view and experience at the moment. So often, we walk around without noticing the beauty and living art God is painting and orchestrating all around us. We are too busy with our eyes cast down. We put our hope on finding treasures of Earth. We miss so much when we are like this, oblivious to the wonders around us. Really, all we need to do is look up. Look around. Notice the miracles of creation and life God is orchestrating for us, for our hearts, minds, and souls. He is saying, “I am here.”

I don’t want to live like the beachcomber. I want to look up, be attentive and see and experience what God is communicating to me through my surroundings and find my treasure in things from above.

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Live in the Light of Jesus–Lift up your Lamps of Oil

God made us in his image and we can rise up with the Light of Heaven and be creative, intentional, and passionate in all we do. Remember what Jesus said about the Ten Virgins? “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus wants us to be close. “I am with you always,” he promised. Scripture says to “Pray without ceasing” and it doesn’t mean to talk to God continually. It simply means to be aware and present to God—that is prayer. Oh, my, if only we would pay better attention to what God is doing all around us, for us, in us, through us—we just need to notice and be present to him.

God’s bursting heart of love longs for us to live in his Light today, not deceived, discouraged, disinterested, diverted, or distant. These are the devil’s Ds he directs to descend down doing damage to the dearests of God.

When we look around, we see evil running rampant in the world. Fear grips the hearts of people and nations. But not so with the Bride of Jesus.

Look what is happening in God’s Kingdom. We are not part of the world though we are in it. We are the Last Days lovers of God. We are the Bride of the King of Kings, and we long for his return. Our love songs call to him to come and not tarry. Our books stir us on for more and more of his presence, goodness, and beauty. Our prayers are filled with the poetry of longing, calling our Beloved to make haste. And, Jesus the Messiah will come. It is nearly midnight. Are we ready? What is the oil we carry in our lamps? Our own oil? We can’t borrow from anyone else because God gives us our own measure of oil from the Holy Spirit. How much oil depends on your relationship with the Lord. Are you filled to overflowing? Are you lit with the fire of God? Jesus said only the Father knows when he will return for his bride. Is Jesus seeing half of the Church ready? Are you IN LOVE WITH JESUS? Are you singing love songs? The bride of Jesus is standing on tip-toes looking up. You know who you are. Your oil is burning bright.

Even better, Jesus knows you.

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Jesus, Man of Joy – A Trip Down Memory Lane

The year was 1993. In downtown Minneapolis, in a theater lobby, Jesus showed me His favor. My friend and I had arrived early at the theater for a concert. A third friend was to meet us there; she had the tickets.

The concert featured Michael Card and Fernando Ortega, my favorite Christian music artists. My friend and I waited by the entrance doors, people-watching, until it was nearly time for the concert to start. Remember, no one had cell phones. We heard that the concert was selling out while we tried to decide if we should wait, trusting in Jesus to bring our friend here, with tickets, in time. Or, should we go ahead and buy them and risk paying the money needlessly. We stood in faith, trusting our friend would come, or else the theater would have seats for us if we had to buy tickets.

Earlier that day, I had had a special experience with “the Man of Joy” while watching an actor portray Jesus in a film. Did you know a major character trait of Jesus is joy? I hadn’t imagined seeing His joy in the Gospel narratives, but when the Book of Matthew, A Visual Bible presentation movie came out—Bruce Marchiano’s main goal, according to the director, was to show the joy of the Lord. Nowhere else but in this film will you see such a smiling Jesus portrayed. Several times, while watching the film, the Lord spoke into my heart. The sweetest was when the movie scene depicted people in a crowd climbing up a steep hillside to hear Jesus speak. The camera zoomed in on a young girl of about twelve years, long curly hair cascading past her shoulders. The moment she appeared in the scene, Jesus spoke into my heart: “You are that girl.” Her character was an “Extra” in the film. I expectantly watched to see why Jesus said I was that girl. In the next scene, at the top of the mount, people were already seated around Him on the ground. The camera focused on Him while He taught. We watch Jesus’ face light up, mid-sentence, and He stretches out His hand to someone; He walks, hand outstretched, smiling broadly. The camera shows the young girl, the recipient of His invitation. He takes her by her hand, still teaching, and pulls her along with Him saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” She became His illustration of a pure heart. He smiles at her, reassuring her to keep coming along as He continues to draw her to the place that we later see is right beside Him.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” is my “life Scripture”—and has always been my favorite verse because of the promise it holds. Oh, to SEE Jesus face to face. Yes, I certainly was that little girl.

I’m His favorite. Even if I had to pay for tickets, I only hoped there would be seats/tickets left. When my friend and I could wait no longer, I headed for the ticket counter, money in hand.

Enter the janitor. Dressed in a dark green uniform, pushing a trash bin on wheels, he came up to me and said, “Would you and your friend like to see the concert?”

I nodded, “Yes.”

“Here,” he said, “Two tickets. You better hurry.”

I think I squealed. Yes, I’m sure I did. I was a forty-three-year-old turned into a twelve-year-old. I found my friend, handed her a ticket, and we looked for the janitor to thank him; but he was nowhere to be found. The seats were in the third row. When we sat down, in a sold-out theater, Michael Card came on stage. Talk about joy.

Here is a link to the movie on YouTube. The young girl first appears at 26:21 — Watch the Sermon on the Mount and see the Man of Joy as He teaches the ways of God’s Kingdom.


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Seeing the World with Sylas

It’s already springtime in Charlotte and so I took little Sylas out for a stroll. He learned to walk about four weeks ago. Imagine if a 1 ½-year-old walked out of his house and went on his own. That’s how I wanted him to feel. Except, I would be there to redirect him if needed. No coaxing, no hand-holding. This was his own excursion.

I let him wander. Grandmother hen hovered only two to five steps behind him. This was the first time he was free to go wherever his heart desired in the wide, open world. Just watching him was the greatest joy. A thought occurred to me: This is what God does with us every day.

Sy never stopped moving except when he came upon something he couldn’t pass by. First stop: purple and yellow pansies in a flowerbed close to the corner. He stopped, squatted, and touched them gently with his fingers. Then he looked straight up. Way above his head, pink flowering tree branches spread out, boughs full of blooming clusters, swaying in the warm breeze. He gazed at them until I lifted him up. Reaching up, he touched the flowers with kind, playful, fingers. I don’t believe he had ever seen a real flower close up. I saw such an expression of wonder on his face; it was so touching. I wish I could be like him and see God’s wonders as if for the first time.  God must wish this, too.

We came to a curb at the end of a sidewalk. I patiently watched him sit down, turn around, and manage it going backwards. I could have helped him in one swift movement, but it seemed important to let him do it himself. At this thought, I felt God smiling.

Next, we came across a giant toy car parked along the sidewalk. Shiny and bright yellow, it looked new. It was a VW Beetle. (I wish I had one.)  The way he reacted at his first sight of it was adorable. I felt sure this was more amazing to Sylas than the flowers. He maneuvered himself down the curb and stepped up to the car’s back tail light. He pushed it repeatedly with his index finger. He knew it should do something. Next, he felt the tires. The rubber was different than he expected. He looked closely. He felt the grooves and the outside roundness of the tire. He touched the ornate hubcap. Then he toddled around to the back of the car again and he began pushing against the fender. Alas, even after a bit of effort, it was still a no-go. The car wouldn’t budge. Next, he walked around the vehicle on the street side, not lifting his hand from it until he reached the front. He backed up a little to take in the view of the entire car.

I was so enamored by him while watching all of this unfold. I know how Sylas feels about cars. They are his favorite toys. He likes to poke at their undersides with pens that look like his daddy’s small screwdriver. He makes the cars go vroom with his voice. And, if it has batteries, he’s non-tiring in chasing after it. Until today, he didn’t know a car could be so gigantic. It was a discovery he made for himself.

When he was ready, Sylas took to roaming down the middle of the quiet street. I gently guided him to the safety of the sidewalk and we headed home, although I had to carry him for the last stretch.  Isn’t this a parable of how it is with God and each of us?

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In A Garden – The Love Story of Resurrection Day

Jesus is Risen
“It is true!”
Luke 24:34

Death could not hold onto Life any more than the grave could hold onto Jesus. At dawn in a garden cemetery, Life swallowed Death once and for all.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus had once said. Now He proved.

An angel rolled back the giant stone and sat on it, waiting for Jesus to come out. By the time Mary from Magdala arrived, things in the garden looked normal, except the soldiers had run off and the stone was rolled back from its opening. The tomb was empty but for the burial cloths.

In that quiet, little garden, God was walking around!

And, at first, He passed as a gardener.

Mary! Don’t you want to shout at her? It’s Him! It’s Jesus!

“Why are you crying?” He asked her, pretending, savoring the moment, ready to burst with the surprise of Himself. But because of her sorrow, He ended his tender charade. He said her name: “Mary.”

His voice. Surely His heart was heard in the sound. Loving . . . inviting . . . tender.

At once, Mary knew Him. So what does she do?

She throws herself at His feet—in possessive worship. She clings to Him like she will never let Him go! And, indeed, she never will.

But He has plans for her, plans for the two of them, plans for each of us.

Soon she would “cling” to Him in a whole new way—in Spirit and Truth. She would forever and ever cling to Him. But, just then, in the garden, she must let go of Him. His voice, loving and kind, said, “I have not yet risen to my Father.”

He surely laughed softly to Himself, blessed by her show of affection. She must have been clinging to His feet, weeping and crying from sheer happiness.

She must let go, but not for long. He promised her that.

And so He said, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”

His own beloved ones, from then on, would know the Father on the same intimate level as the Son. Jesus couldn’t have been more delighted in the telling of that news.

Here we see a human and divine Lord Jesus enjoying Himself. While Jesus is in the garden with Mary, it seemed He didn’t know just what to do with Himself. First, He tells her to go and tell His disciples He will see them in Galilee. Then He shows up in the upper room wanting to be with them, asking them to touch Him, proving He is not a ghost, and enjoying their surprise.

Humanly speaking, can you imagine how Jesus felt after His resurrection? Surely, Jesus’ heart felt ecstatic, bursting joy. He had made the way open for His friends to call His Father their Father, His God their God. He revealed the love of the Father to them—He had redeemed humankind back to God. He wanted to return to Heaven but He was not ready to leave them just yet. Jesus loved them so much He wanted to show Himself to them and share His joy with them. He wanted, more than anything, for His own to see and know Him in reality, as their God.


In a Garden

It began in a garden, long, long ago
When the Creator gave Life and walked with His own
Now, here in a garden His holy Seed lies
Sown in the earth, for love, He has died

In a garden, the Creator had always foreseen
In a garden, to walk again, with His redeemed

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