Lavish Gift of Love

Have you ever wanted to lavish a costly gift on someone—whether financial, emotional, or an investment of time and effort—but felt a little unsure about it?

I’m not referring to using your resources in an irresponsible way, one that would leave you unable to pay your bills or meet your current obligations. No, I mean questions you may have about whether it’s right to splurge on someone you love when millions around the world are so needy, when there are so many worthy causes that could benefit from your investment.

Consider this example from the life of Jesus. Matthew tells us in his gospel (ch. 26:6-13) about one—identified as Mary in the John 12:1-8 account—who lavished her love on the Savior just days before his crucifixion.

During a banquet given in his honor, Mary came to Jesus and anointed him with a jar of very expensive perfume. She drew immediate criticism, however, from the disciples. They called it a waste. They pointed out that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus saw it differently, though. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:10-11 NIV)

He also said she would be remembered for this act of love wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world. Jesus approved of her lavish gift of love.

Today the same is true. Worthy causes and desperate need will always be present, but we won’t always have our loved ones with us.

I’m not suggesting we forget the poor or hurting. Of course, we should give to help those in need. But I think we can also feel free to lavish a costly gift on a loved one occasionally. After all, it’s a beautiful thing to show someone the depth of our love. Just ask Jesus. I think he would approve.

“. . .love one another deeply, from the heart.”  1 Peter 1:22 NIV

*What lavish gift of love have you received?

*Hope this slightly revised post from March 2013 blessed you today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)  p.s. Sign up by 4-26 to get in on this issue’s giveaway. If you subscribe after that date, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Aih, Creative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In and Through the Church

As we turn our calendars to April, let’s turn our thoughts to a new category for my monthly “7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power” blog series. This month let’s focus on the church.

In considering the church, let’s remember we’re not talking only about the local church we belong to but the body of Christ worldwide. The church encompasses all true believers—Jesus followers everywhere, from my corner of Kansas to the utmost corner of the earth.

Through our prayers for the church, we—the body of believers—can make a difference in our world and in the lives of individuals not only today but eternally as well. As we call on God, he works with life-changing power in answer to our prayers.

May the following prayers help equip us as we lift the church, the body of Christ, to God in prayer. These are just a few of many possible prayer points for the church, but may these provide a start. Here’s to making a difference!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In and Through the Church

  1. Father, protect your church from the schemes and attacks of Satan as he seeks to cause division, confusion, hurt, and any number of other things that would render us ineffective or even damaging to the cause of Christ. (John 17:15; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  2. Lord, move us, the church, to be people of prayer and revive us personally, corporately, and in our nations. (Isaiah 56:7, Acts 2:42; Colossians 4:2; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 57:15; Romans 12:11)
  3. Lord, cultivate in us a spirit of unity, both in purpose and in our relationships with one another so everyone will see that we are your people. (John 13:35; 17:21-23; Romans 15:56; Ephesians 4:3)
  4. Father, move and empower us to go out into the world to share the gospel of Christ with all people everywhere, to plant new churches, and to help new believers grow in their faith. (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:2)
  5. Jesus, help us to be your hands and feet in our world, loving and giving to others as you would. (Matthew 5:42; John 15:12; John 13:34; 1 John 3:16-18)
  6. Father, help us to stand up for what’s right, to speak up for the oppressed and those who can’t speak for themselves, and to pray for those who are persecuted. (Psalm 94:16; Proverbs 24:11-12; 31:8-9; Hebrews 13:3)
  7. Father, help each of us faithfully carry out the individual roles you’ve called us to fill in the body of Christ. (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; 1 Peter 4:10)

God bless you, your local church, and the church—his body—worldwide!

“‘. . . I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’” Matthew 16:18 NIV

*What prayers for the church would you add to the list?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by kristi.ee, Creative Commons License

Budding: New Growth in Spring and in Life

Have you noticed them yet this season? Budding trees. They whisper promises of things to come, slip us reminders of spring’s unfailing relief from winter’s frigid toll. One day they nudge us and say, “Look at us. New growth! There’s hope after all . . .”, while on another they call out, “Look at us! We’re budding! What will you become?!”

I love how the seasons speak to us on deeper levels and give us encouragement to grow or rest, to persevere or hope. Spring has the privilege of bringing hope to weary souls and inspiring us to branch out or reach for new heights. It works wonders in our world and in our hearts, and each year its work in our lives might be a little different.

The image of growth in spring has influenced how we see so many things. We’ve all heard people say, “He’s a budding artist” or “She’s a budding musician”, and they’re usually referring to children or teens. But I can’t help but notice, in the natural world, that even old trees bud year after year. New growth and the promise of things to come grace them as well.

And to be honest, probably none of us reading this post today are children or teens. We’re all older trees, if you will, though some of us are indeed older than others. The good news is that old trees bud! We’re not only capable of growth, it’s expected.

So what’s budding in our lives as we head into spring this year? What evidence of growth can be seen on our branches? Are we mastering a new skill or using some new technology? Are we displaying strength or peace in the face of adversity? As believers, are we looking more like our Savior each year?

If you don’t feel like you’re growing right now, it’s not too late to start. Get out there and start budding! Rejoice in the promise of things to come!

“In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6 NIV

*Is there something budding in your life right now? If not, what would you like to see bud?

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from March 2011 blesses you today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by James BoweCreative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In the Lives of Unbelievers

A new month means a new installment in my monthly blog series featuring sentence prayers inviting God’s power and this month we’ll focus on unbelievers.

Most of us have family and friends who have never come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Our hearts ache with the knowledge that they don’t have the same sure hope we do of eternal life in heaven with the Lord when our lives on this earth are finished. We are concerned as well for casual acquaintances and entire people groups around the world.

Through our prayers we can help prepare the way for unbelieving hearts to be open to the good news of a Savior for all. Here are some prayers that can have an eternal impact in the lives of those you’re concerned for. Let’s be faithful to pray—and ready to share!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In the Lives of Unbelievers

  1. Lord, soften the hearts of unbelievers in my world and beyond and help them become seekers with a hunger and a thirst to know the truth—to know you. (Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 5:6; Acts 16:30)
  2. Father, send out workers into the harvest field—people who will share the good news of salvation in Christ—and please bring about your divine appointments with those who need to hear. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 10:2; Acts 8:26-39; Romans 10:15)
  3. Lord, remove the blinders and lift the veil of darkness and spiritual blindness so they can see and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 3:14-17; John 3:16; 20:31)
  4. Holy Spirit, convict unbelievers of their sin and their need for a Savior. (John 6:44; 16:7-8; Romans 6:23)
  5. Father, open doors for spiritual conversation with those who don’t know you and give me the words to say, helping me to speak the truth in love. (Matthew 10:18-20; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 4:5-6)
  6. Lord, place a hedge of protection around your planted Word so that the devil won’t steal the truth and hope of eternal life that it can bring. (Mark 4:15; John 5:24; 17;17; Colossians 1:25-27)
  7. Lord, open their hearts to respond to the message you’ve sent to them, giving  them ears to hear. (Acts 16:14; Mark 4:9)

As you make these prayers your own, may God work in hearts in a mighty way, bringing all to salvation!

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLV

*What other sentence prayers can you add?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by dtcchc, Creative Commons License

Anyone Snowed Under?

Any of you ever find yourselves snowed under? This was the sight that greeted me several years ago when I opened our door the day after a blizzard buried us in its immobilizing winter white. With temperatures below freezing and more snow on the way, our bushes and lawn didn’t fully see the light of day for quite a while.

I have a feeling that some of you might be snowed under. Snowed under by things other than winter’s icy calling card. Burdened by things longer-lasting or even more immobilizing than a foot or two of snow.

Some of you may feel weighed down by a burden of grief. I’ve certainly been there. Others may find yourselves buried under a pile of work or unpaid bills while some of you are bearing the weight of others as well as yourselves as you struggle to keep up with parenting or caregiving duties. And it might just be a combination of several things causing some of us to feel overwhelmed.

Are you feeling like you may never see the light of day? Be encouraged. Remember that we have One who wants to bear the weight of our burdens for us. We have One who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

So turn to him. Tell him you’re snowed under and ask for his help. Then relax in his arms and be at peace, my friend. Be at peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

*What burdens you most in this season of your life?

*Hope this slightly revised post from February 2011 blesses you today!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 1st. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo