Feeding and Nurturing the Young

Have you ever spotted birds at work feeding their young? I have several times since I like to watch and photograph birds when I get a chance.

When we visited my parents one Memorial Weekend over a decade ago, I got to observe a particular bird’s parenting skills over and over. Mom and Dad lived in Missouri then and had a couple of birdhouses on their property. Bluebirds had built a nest in one. I hoped to share a picture of the daddy bird’s parenting prowess (he was easiest to spot because of his bright blue color), but darn it all, the shot is too blurry to use here on the blog.

This daddy blue bird took his responsibility very seriously. He worked tirelessly to feed his little namesakes. Time and again he’d come flying in from a distance to land atop the bird house and rest a moment before scooting through the little hole to where his young ones waited. Within seconds, he was out again, taking only a minute’s reprieve before he was off scouting more food. He was a dedicated parent.

Have you spotted anyone feeding the young lately? You may be in the midst of feeding the young at your very own house—and I’m not just talking physical sustenance. As parents, we need to feed our children spiritually, too. Even when our kids are grown and gone, we still have opportunities to pour truth into their lives and eventually into our grandchildren’s lives.

Have we in the past or are we currently filling our kids’ or grandkids’ hearts and minds with the Word of God as we “sit at home and when [we] walk along the road” (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Have we exposed them to the spiritual teaching available in our churches?

We can also help nurture and feed other young ones besides those in our own families. Think of all the children in your circle of influence. Consider also the spiritually young, those who have only recently come to faith. They need us who are more mature in the faith to take our responsibility seriously. They need us to work tirelessly to help them grow and become strong in the Lord.

Let’s demonstrate some parenting prowess. Let’s be faithful to feed the young.

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Psalm 34:11 NIV

*How are you feeding the young in your circle of influence?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. 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! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 Sister72, Creative Commons License

We’re Not Too Little to Lead in God’s Eyes

“There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them . . .” Psalm 68:27 NIV

I love the nuggets of encouragement found in the Psalms. I think I could read there every day and never tire of it.

The psalmist David wrote the words above as part of a passage that describes the procession of Israel—God’s people—into the temple. And wow, what a scene of celebration and praise. Singers, musicians, maidens playing tambourines. Dancing surely broke out, too, right?

One tiny detail I don’t want us to miss is who lead the procession. It wasn’t Judah, the greatest tribe of Israel. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

The tribes of Israel were named after the twelve sons of Jacob. Benjamin was the youngest, the little brother (Genesis 49:1-28). Likewise, and as mentioned in Psalm 68, the tribe of Benjamin was “the little tribe,” the smallest in numbers (Numbers 1:20-43). In the standards of the world, Benjamin—the brother and the tribe—probably didn’t have much clout.

But look who was given the pleasure, the privilege, and the responsibility of leading the procession of God’s people into the temple. That’s right. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

What an example and what encouragement to us. We don’t have to be the biggest and best to be a leader. We can be the little brother, the little sister. We can be small in size, in renown, or in ability. We just need to be willing to serve, to put ourselves out there like the tribe of Benjamin did.

So, if any of us have been feeling too little to lead or too little to fulfill a task God has given us, let’s be encouraged by the little tribe of Benjamin. We too can lead. We too can serve. We’re not too little in God’s eyes.

“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,” Ephesians 3:7-8 NIV

*Has God ever used you to be a leader when you felt little?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 cbcmemberphotos2477; Creative Commons License

Prayer: Helping Others Stand

“. . . he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV

We tend to forget how vital prayer is. If you’re like me, at some point in your life you’ve thought or said, “All I can do is pray.” We forget that we are indeed helping when we pray for others.

The apostle Paul wrote the words above after suffering extreme hardship and pressure so great that he described it as “far beyond our ability to endure” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). He said he despaired even of life and actually felt in his heart the sentence of death.

I wonder where he would have been without the “prayers of many”? (2 Corinthians 1:11)  Could the help he received through those prayers be the reason he was able to rely on God’s strength instead of his own?

John Wesley said, “Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees.” I’m reminded of Moses when the Israelites battled the Amalekites. As long as he held up the staff of God in his hands, the Israelites won. When he lowered his hands, the enemy began winning. When Moses grew tired, “Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:12 NIV)

Do we know people whose hands are hanging down, whose knees are now tottering? Is it obvious that without help they’ll surely fall? You may feel powerless to change their situation or help in any significant way, but don’t underestimate the support you can give them through your prayers. I’ve felt the support of prayers before, and it’s powerful. I felt as if I was being carried.

Are there some we know who need to be carried right now by our prayers? Let’s be faithful to do it. It may be our prayers that enable them to stand another day.

“I urge you brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30 NIV

*Have you ever felt carried by the prayers of others before?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE! *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 Irina Patrascu Gheorghita, Creative Commons License

A Whisper from God: Love Anyway

Every now and then I share some of my poetry with you, and the theme of my latest looks at loving when it’s difficult. It’s not always easy to love, is it? I hope this poem encourages you to go ahead and love even when it’s hard. May God strengthen us all for such times for they will surely come. Let’s keep looking to him, friends. He will enable us. He will help.

Love Anyway

Once again I find myself
Coming to God in confession,
Sorry for words I shouldn’t have said,
Thoughts that shouldn’t be mine,
And attitudes that need adjustment.
How grateful I am
I don’t have to wonder
If my God will love me anyway,
For he meets me each time with mercy
And freely grants forgiveness,
Then he gently reminds me
At just the right time
To do the same for others.
When someone wrongs or hurts me—
Even when the offense is great
Or happens time after time,
What God has done for me
Comes whispered back to me—
Love anyway.
Only by your power, Lord,
Only with your help.
Yes, help me, Lord,
To be like you,
Help me to freely forgive,
Help me to love anyway.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV

*Who do you need to love anyway today?

*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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

God Gets in the Boat With Us

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” Mark 6:51 NIV

Are you familiar with the boat story that took place after Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand?

When everyone had had their fill, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and go on ahead of him so he could have a private time of prayer. Later on that evening when the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars because it was so windy. He decided to walk out on the water to them. When they saw him, they were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. So he identified himself at once, told them not to be afraid, and then climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down—and I imagine the disciples’ fears did too.

Just as the disciples had a Savior who came to them and climbed into their boatload of fear and struggle, we too have a God who gets in the boat with us. He comes to our aid when the winds of life are beating us down. He enters our lives and our pain. He gets right in the middle of our trials and struggles and brings peace. So let’s not be afraid. We have a God who gets in the boat.

“. . . do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

*Our daughter Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and God has definitely gotten in the boat with all of us. When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. 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.

*Flickr photo by Richard Clark (Digimist)Creative Commons License