Beautiful Entry to Worship

“Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful. . .” Acts 3:2 NIV

Certain words or phrases from the Word of God can really resonate with our spirits, can’t they? That’s how I feel when I read the phrase “the temple gate called Beautiful.” As I read it, my spirit says yes.

This scripture, of course, refers to the entry to the temple in Jerusalem not long after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. My NIV text note tells me that this gate was, in fact, the favorite entrance to the temple court. How fitting that it should be known as Beautiful. What better name could there be for a gate that gave entry to the house of God, that people passed through on their way to worship?

Today our entry—our privilege of entering the Lord’s presence—is still Beautiful. What’s more, we don’t have to go to the temple (or our local church) to do it. With a simple turning of our thoughts . . . or lifting of our eyes . . . or falling to our knees . . . or bowing of our heads . . . or whisper of his name, we can enter into worship wherever we are. All we need to do is turn to him.

Turning to him—a beautiful entry indeed.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;” Psalm 95:6 NIV

*If you had the chance to name an entry into the Lord’s presence, what would you call it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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 check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mkreynessCreative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2017: Touching Baby Jesus

Friends, my annual Christmas poem tradition lives on! What started as a creative whim in 1982—back in my early days of stay-at-home-mommy-hood—has turned into a tradition of thirty-five years now! Wow, huh?

After receiving that first poem with their Christmas card in 1982, my parents requested another poem the next Christmas. And what kind of self-respecting daughter can turn down a request like that? Of course, once it happened twice, it took on a life of its own and the annual Christmas poem tradition was born.

I have so enjoyed being able to share these poems with friends and family over the years. I’m always blown away by God’s faithfulness to supply the idea for a new poem each year and how he helps me find just the right word or phrase to best express the message. I pray that God will use this year’s poem to touch your heart in a special way.

By the way, I’ll be taking a holly jolly blogging break until after the first of the year. May all the blessings of Christmas and the New Year be yours, my friends. I’ll see you back here on January 2!

   Touching Baby Jesus

Close your eyes and journey back
To history’s most holy night,
Imagine the Babe that changed the world
Imagine those drawn to his light.

His parents the first to look on his face
The first to touch the divine,
The first to kiss his tiny cheek
To see his glory shine.

The animals sharing the stable that night
Must have watched the miracle birth,
They must have drawn near to nuzzle the Babe
To touch heaven come to earth.

The shepherds, the first to hear the news,
Arrived breathless in wonder and joy,
With tender touch they must have reached out
To this Savior, this baby boy.

Now it’s your turn to approach the manger
Jesus is calling, “Will you draw close?”
How will you answer, what will you do,
Reach out and touch—he’ll be reaching to you.

—Cheryl, 2017

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

*What will you do to draw close to Jesus this Christmas season?

*Have you subscribed yet to Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue? If not, sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Aurimas Adomavicius, Creative Commons License

Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps 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!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Waste Nothing

3910415397_5974dca644_z“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’” John 6:12 NIV

Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most well-known stories and miracles recorded in the Bible.

We remember the massive crowd of people who followed Jesus to a remote area. We remember the worry expressed by the disciples over how to feed such a large crowd. We remember the boy with five loaves and two fish and how Jesus gave thanks for the food and then had the disciples distribute it to the people. And we remember the twelve basketfuls of food that were amazingly left over. But do we remember what Jesus said (as recorded above) when everyone had had enough to eat?

Jesus said, “‘Let nothing be wasted.’” We don’t know exactly what Jesus had in mind with this instruction to his disciples. Maybe he wanted to provide the people with a powerful visual of his abundant provision and power as the leftovers were placed into baskets. Or maybe he wanted to teach his disciples to fully use all that he provides.

Whatever the full intention of Jesus’ instruction that day, we can apply the lesson of “let nothing be wasted” in our lives today, can’t we?

On a physical level, we can all use a reminder to be good stewards of God’s provision. Unless we’ve known poverty and extreme hardship, most of us occasionally—or even regularly—waste the resources at our disposal. Food gets tossed out, water goes down the drain (literally), electricity flows when not needed, and money gets spent on foolish things at times. So yes, we need this reminder today.

Let’s also consider how this important “let nothing be wasted” lesson can apply to other aspects of our lives as well. What about trials? Let’s not let the hard things in our lives—the pain, losses, disappointments, challenges, injustices, etc.—be wasted. Let’s learn from them or grow in character. Let’s be moved to some positive action.

And what about the blessings in our lives? Let’s not waste an ounce of the goodness God lavishes on us. Let’s fully enjoy and utilize and share them. And let’s continually give God praise and glory for all the wonderful things he does for us.

So friends, whatever comes into our lives, whether good or whether bad, let’s heed that same instruction Jesus gave to his disciples so many years ago: “Let nothing be wasted.”

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14a NIV

*When have you grown through a trial? How have you fully used a blessing God has given you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. I feature a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by K.Hurley, Creative Commons License

One Perfect Way to Pray for Those in Crisis

img_7208“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Luke 22:42-43

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest crisis of his earthly life—his impending crucifixion—God showed him his love.  The scripture above allows us to be witness to that tender display.

As Jesus plead with the Father to take his cup of suffering away, yet submitted to God’s will at the same time, we see the Father reach out to Jesus in love by sending one of the very angels of heaven to minister to him. And when God did this, when God showed Jesus his love, it strengthened him.

So when we watch others go through times of great difficulty or crisis—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual—one perfect way we can pray for them is by asking God to show them his love. And as God tenderly finds personally tailored ways to do just that, those hurting and struggling will experience God’s loving touch. Those in crisis will be strengthened.

Do you long to help loved ones and others in crisis today? Get down on your knees in prayer and cry out, “Lord, show them your love!”

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” Luke 7:13

*How has God shown you his love in a time of crisis?

*My photo