Friday, May 29, 2015


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

Me on my high school graduation day (May 27, 1990)

Commencement is defined as: “an act, instance, or time of commencing; the ceremonies or the day for conferring degrees or diplomas”. While commencement seems to indicate an end of something, such as high school or college, it really means a beginning of something, a new time of life.

My Uncle Carrol and me on my graduation day from William Penn (College) University (May 14 1995, Mother’s Day)

During our lives we have many beginnings and starts—the very first day of school, the first day of high school, the first day at a new job—the list is endless. Many times a new beginning is the end of some thing that captured our attention for many years. We grieve what we are leaving behind; while feeling a degree of anxiety/excitement about what our future holds.

What feelings did you experience at your high school/college graduation?

In what ways did your dreams come true after graduation? If not, how were God’s plans and dreams different than yours?

My friend, Maud, and me after our college graduation ceremony

Have you ever considered how inviting Jesus into your heart is like a “commencement”?

We know there is much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). There is a turning from “idols” to the Lord (1Thessalonians 1:9); much like the turning of the tassel during the graduation ceremony, we have a new identity and a new set of responsibilities. A totally new way of life is open to us.

To be sure, there is an adjustment period, not only for new graduates but also for those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.

What advice would you give to this year’s graduates?

Me after graduate school graduation ceremonies at the University of Northern Iowa (May 8, 1999)

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for knowing Your plans for us—plans that will bring about positive things for us. Help us to trust in You and the plans You have for each one of us. Clearly reveal Your presence those who are beginning new chapters in their lives, whether it is through graduation or starting life anew as a Christian. We pray for our graduates that they will correctly discern the plans You have for them. May each one seek You and discern the dreams You have for them. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, May 22, 2015


“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4 KJV)

Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost, the day we celebrate the birth of the Church. It is a day of joy, a celebration of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to His children.  

Pentecost is the fiftieth and last day of the Easter Season—when the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the church (see Acts 2). The Holy Spirit came to those who had been waiting and praying for the One promised by Jesus before His ascension.

Likewise, we too, may have to wait for the Holy Spirit to baptize us, to empower us to live a Christian life and to do the ministry God has equipped us to do. (This many times is separate from the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us at the moment of our conversion. At some point in the future, I will address this in an additional blog post or series of posts.) 

The color red, symbolizing the tongues of fire that came down upon the apostles and those gathered together, is the color of the church at this point in the year.

What else does the symbol of fire represent to you?

What comes to mind?

What does fire do (cleanse, purify)?    

Yet, Pentecost is much more than this. Pentecost is when Jesus’ promise (John 14:15-17) to send a Counselor, a Comforter to be with and empower those He left behind was fulfilled. It was at this point that the apostles had the power to preach, to heal, to speak in tongues (unlearned languages and spiritual languages), and to cast out demons.

Without this gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would have remained fearful (and stayed in hiding) of the religious/political authorities. We, likewise, without the Holy Spirit are weak, yet when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can do great things! Consider the great men and women of faith who have done great things for the Lord (a few were mentioned in last week’s post).

I believe this gift—the baptism of the Holy Spirit—with the speaking of tongues and everything else received by those early followers of Jesus is still available to us today. It has not died out as some believe. Just because we do not see certain things much, if at all, today does not mean that the gift given at Pentecost is no longer available to us. More likely, it is due to us getting too smart for our own good! Fear gets in the way too. The Holy Spirit is not to be feared; He is a gentleman and will not come where He is not welcome, nor will He behave in ways that would cause fright.

What experiences have you had with the Holy Spirit?

Have you experienced Pentecost in your life?

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”
(John 16:7-8 KJV)

Please join me in prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank You for fulfilling Your promise of sending the Holy Spirit to us. Thank You for the work that the Holy Spirit does in our lives. We realize our need for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to live as a Christian and to walk as You walked, Lord. Without the Holy Spirit baptizing us, we will rely on our flesh to live as we are to live and to fulfill the ministry that You have called us to; something that we cannot do for the long haul. Come Holy Spirit, fill us with Your presence and empower us to do what we cannot do on our own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Come Holy Spirit, Come!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Believing God: Those Who Believed God

And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6 KJV)

After taking a short detour last week to celebrate Mother’s Day, this week we return to the theme of believing God. To review the previous posts in this series see Believing God and Believing God: Unbelief.

In taking a broad look at the history of the Jewish people, particularly right after they left Egypt, we can see times were they did believe God and times where they did not believe God. Consider the story of the spies who went and explored the Promised Land—a land full of milk and honey, a land specifically prepared by God for His people. It is here where we see only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb who believed God—they believed they could capture the Promised Land because God was on their side and would fight for them. They did this in the face of the majority’s disbelief. For the complete story see Numbers 13 and Numbers 14.

Disbelief kept the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness for forty years. How much wandering do we do because of our unbelief?

Believing God is key to a victorious life in Jesus Christ. To not believe God is to live with little of God’s power. When we have little of God’s power manifesting in our lives, we miss out on so much God longs to do through us and give to us.

The great missionary to India, William Carey, stated: “Expect great things; attempt great things.” He is not the only missionary who lived a life that characterized believing God.

David Livingstone was a missionary and explorer in Africa doing absolutely amazing things for the Lord and impacted a nation. His impact is still felt today.

Eric Liddell also believed God and impacted China sharing God’s Word and love with those around him. His life was cut short, yet during the years he lived, he gave his all for His Lord—leading many to the Savior.   

Although not a missionary, Oswald Chambers, who wrote the devotional classic, My Utmost for His Highest, made a great impact in England and during WWI in Egypt.

D. L. Moody, a simple man, with little education made a huge impact for the Lord. Moody brought many into relationship with the Lord. His work is still impacting the world today through the Moody Bible Institute. He simply gave himself fully to the Lord, and the Lord used him in amazing ways. 

These are but a few of many who said yes to God and believed Him. By believing they took leaps of faith and the world has not been the same. We are still benefiting from these examples of believing God.

These men lived lives fully sold out to God and God used them mightily—great examples of believing God and allowing Him to use the whole of you.

What is God calling you to believe Him for? 

Healing for you or a loved one?

Salvation of a friend or family member?

What about changing the direction our nation is going?
What is God is calling you to do?  Lead a Bible study…witness at work, to a neighbor?  Start a ministry? 

The list is endless.  Only you know.  What steps can you take this week to believe God? 

Remember, you can do everything through Christ!

Please join me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, we confess that many times we struggle with believing You in the way we should. Thank You for the amazing witness of those who have gone before us who have believed You; therefore they were empowered to do amazing things that benefited others and pointed to Your glory, power, and might. Reveal to us how we should emulate those examples in our daily lives. We desire to live a life that allows You to do great things through us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day!

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15 KJV)

This Sunday, May 10, we celebrate Mother’s Day. Therefore, it is a great time to reflect on the special women (our mom and others) in our lives who nurtured us; perhaps, they still nurture us, even if from afar. There are so many different types of mothers: those who give birth to and raise their child/children, those who are brave and allow their child to be adopted, there are adoptive mothers, foster mothers, and spiritual mothers. So many different ways to be a mom to many—great is the impact of moms on the lives of those they nurture.

At the outset, I realize some reading this post will have had a challenging relationship with their mom, or perhaps a dear mom has passed away, or a mom is no longer mom due to a variety of health issues/dementia. My prayer for you is that you will experience God’s comforting, healing presence in the days ahead.

Likewise, some women reading this post will struggle due to their longing to be a mom. My heart goes out to you, so many of us with “mommy hearts” (this includes me) know we are to nurture another person. In my case, I have found contentment in being a nurturing presence in the lives of my friends.

In thinking about some of the ladies who have nurtured me spiritually I recall a couple of dear ladies from my earliest years—both were apart of my life due to Sunday school and church attendance.

Many times, if it were not for our mom we would not be in church. It seems spiritual nurture, many times, is dependent on mom. As a little girl, I attended Sunday school and church faithfully, thanks to my mother. In fact, some of my earliest memories are of church and Sunday school.

Particularly, during the early years (pre-school-second grade), two ladies—Ruby and Clara—taught my peers and me a lot about Jesus and His love for us.   

For many of us, Sunday school and Vacation Bible school teachers have a huge impact on us and how we grew in our faith. What sort of impact did your Sunday school and Vacation Bible school teachers have on you?

How have you been nurtured by your mom or your spiritual mothers (teachers, aunts, cousins, friends of the family)?

How can you nurture someone in need? Look at how Paul encouraged Timothy regarding his faith that he learned from Lois and Eunice (his grandmother and mother) (2 Timothy 1:5). 

Therefore, in reflecting on this special day let us think about everything that moms do for their off-spring (this includes spiritual moms too!).

Moms do a lot for us.

They care for us when we are ill.

They comfort us after bad dreams.   

They encourage us on difficult days.

It is clear that moms everywhere deserve this special day of remembrance.

How can we thank our moms (birth and spiritual) at this special time?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord of All, thank You for our mothers who gave us life and nurture. Thank you for the spiritual mothers in our lives who taught us about Jesus and His love for us and who influenced our growth in the faith. For those who long to be a mommy grant them a special sense of Your comforting presence. Bless our mothers today and always.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Happy Mother’s Day!!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Believing God: Unbelief

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. (Mark 9:24 KJV)

Last week we started considering what it means to believe God, not just believe in Him but believe Him. When we know the Word of God, we can see how He remains faithful and true to Himself and His Word—He cannot do differently. There are many examples throughout history—of those who believed God doing great and mighty things, simply because they believed God. To review the first post in this series, see here.

This week, we will be considering unbelief versus struggling to believe. Struggling is allowable and not necessarily a negative thing—struggles help us to build strength in our spiritual muscles. It is when struggles give way to unbelief that we stray into an area that is ultimately not good. Believing God gives us strength to do things that we normally could not do.

On the flip side, NOT believing God is who He says is and that He will do what He says He will do makes Him angry. (See Psalm 78:21-22) God will answer legitimate questions as He did with Abram in Genesis 15. We see that again in Jesus’ interaction with the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9:14-24. Therefore, we can know with confidence that He will be patient and understanding with our questions.

It is unbelief that gets us into a world of trouble. May we like the boy’s father cry out: “I believe, help my unbelief”! Unbelief limits our experience of God. Unbelief keeps God from working in the ways He would work otherwise. Recall how Jesus could do little in the way of miracles in His hometown due to unbelief. Unbelief stymies our spiritual growth and the whole of our lives. It impacts those around us too.

Think about the behavior of the Israelites after God brought them out of Egypt through many signs and wonders. They had truly experienced the might of God! Their disobedience towards God brought about His wrath. Many lost their lives. They also were kept wandering in the wilderness for forty years due to not believing God, and not believing those who did believe God. We can learn much from their stories.

How much metaphorical (or literal!) wandering have we done due to not believing God?

However, time and time again we see God do the “impossible”…at least it is impossible in our finite human minds. In Genesis 12 we read about God calling Abram, an idol worshipper, out of Ur of the Chaldees to a land that God would show him; additionally God told Abram that a great nation would come from him. Keep in mind that Abram was at that time 75 and childless. Despite that he obeyed and left the life he knew. Later he took a “detour” to Egypt due to a famine in the land God called him to.

Picking up the story again in Genesis 15 the LORD reconfirms the covenant He made with Abram. He answers Abram’s question about who will inherit his wealth with a promise that he’ll have a son from his own body. (By the way, this was not fulfilled for over ten years.) We also read that the people who will come from Abram will spend 400 years in a country that is not theirs and be oppressed. 

This covenant God made with Abram is all one sided—God is responsible for fulfilling it. God is the only one who walks between the divided animals. All Abram needed to do was believe God. 

Likewise, the covenant we have with God is solely based on Him and His work. All we have to do is believe. We are saved through the work of Jesus on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus gained victory over sin, death, and the grave.

What do you believe about Jesus?

Where are you struggling to believe God?

How have you struggled with unbelief? How are you currently struggling with unbelief?

Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for your sure promises to us, particularly the promises we have in Jesus. Strengthen us as we struggle to believe You. We cry out, much like the boy’s father in Mark 9, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Thank You for not giving up on us when we struggle with unbelief, encourage us to move beyond that to believing You for Who You are and what You said You can and will do. It is only with Your help that we can move from unbelief to believe. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


To my readers: Be looking for additional posts in the future on the theme of believing God.