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Friday, July 29, 2011

Thirst for God

Meditate on the psalm of David when he was in the Desert of Judah.

Be reminded that the heat, made real by summer and desert temperatures, is fleeting. A thirst for God can be satisfied by God.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writer’s blog chain. Our theme for July is “Freedom.” I am posting every Wednesday in July on the freedom theme. Follow the links to the right to see what my Christian Writer friends have to say about freedom.


No more pencils.
No more books.
No more teachers’ dirty looks.
School’s out. Summer is here. It’s time to be free!

Do you remember summer vacation as a kid? The chance to sleep in a bit later, waking, not to Mom’s “get up or you’ll be late;” but slowly to the need to push off the covers because the sun has taken over the bedroom and warmed it beyond comfort.

What to do today? Read? Play? Watch cartoons?

Or do the chores Mom and Dad laid out for you. Yes, but there was even freedom there. As long as they got done. And they were usually chores to do outdoors. Or if not, at least they were different; unstructured. There was freedom there. Even in chores.

It was a release from the “gottas.” A rest from the “pay attentions.” An escape from the bag lunch with the carrot sticks that got tossed out with the sandwich edges and zip lock baggies.

This was SUMMER!

For kids, summer is like Sabbath. Work six days, rest one. Sure, kids go to school nine months and rest three. Growing kids need more rest than adults, right?
Or maybe time goes faster for kids. It does from our adult perspective, doesn’t it? Didn’t your kids grow up when you blinked? Yet we’re all still the same as we were 20 years ago. In our mind’s eye.

It must seem like that to God, too. God is never changing; always the same; forever and ever. The 32 short years Jesus spent on earth must have gone by in a blink. And perhaps that’s what got Father God through it—knowing that the short time of pain for Jesus meant good things for the rest of eternity. And freedom for all of His children.

I wonder if Jesus thought of his return to heaven like children see summer vacation. “…no more dirty looks.” Freedom to return to his divinity; return to his Father; return to the Spirit. And wait for our return to Him.

Thank you, Jesus for being our true and good teacher. And thank you for not giving us dirty looks; but for looking on us with love and love only.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for seasons and for the change they bring to our lives. Thank you for times of work and times of rest. Thank you, Jesus for being our teacher and Holy Spirit for being our counselor and friend. Thank you, God for your plan and for the freedom we have in you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What was summer vacation like for you as a kid?

Monday, July 25, 2011


I learned a few things about Jesus in swim class. And, when you think about it, that’s really not such a stretch for a parable about faith. After all, Jesus is the living water. And, we all remember that amazing walk he took out on the lake.

So here are three spiritual truths I learned in swimming class.

1. Don’t panic.

When my swim teacher made me jump into the deep end of the pool for the first time, I did what came natural: I panicked. Suddenly the concrete beneath my feet was gone. I couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool no matter how hard I stretched my toes. Surely I was a goner as soon as gravity took effect.

But gravity isn’t the only force at work in the pool. A pool also has water that pushes up. If the density of the object (me) is less than the density of the water, I will float. The deep water pushed me up and kept me mostly at the surface of the pool.

If I panic and curl up into a ball though, the entire mass of my body is spread out over a small surface. The water can’t keep me afloat. What will save me is to lie on my back and make my body as big as possible. The total mass of my body is then spread out over a larger area of water. The amount of water underneath each of my body parts is enough to keep me afloat.

Just like the best thing to do in the swimming pool is trust the water, so the best thing to do in life is to trust Jesus. Jesus is the living water beneath me; he will keep me afloat.

2. The deeper the water, the better I float.

Have you noticed that floating in three feet of water is much harder than floating in six feet? You have to really concentrate to keep your derrière from sinking when you’re in the shallow end.

But when you’re in the deep end, all you have to do is lean back and relax. It’s effortless, because of all that water underneath you, keeping you up.

That’s the second spiritual lesson I learned in swimming class. The deeper the water, the better I float.

In life, we have crises and trials. We have worries and troubles. We can try to float in shallow faith but we’ll often find our bottoms sinking and pulling us down. When we rely on Jesus; when we surrender the situation and our part in it to Him, our faith deepens. We are able to rest in Jesus’ arms as He holds us up and shows how good it is to be in the deep end with Him.

3. Jump In.

I’m one of those wimps who stands at the edge of the pool, thinking about finding a nice lounge chair instead. I usually head for the steps and take them one at a time, shrieking softly with each step as if the generally-warm water were somehow turning my limbs blue. Once in the water, I adjust quite quickly. But I recognize that I’ve lost time I could have spent having fun.

I love watching those brave souls march over to the edge of the pool, pinch their noses and jump. No hesitation. They just jump. And start having fun immediately.

Faith is like that. Non-believers who are “thinking” about this Christ thing, often want all the answers to all their questions before jumping in and believing. They think if they “know” everything, only then can they believe. That’s not a dig. God made us to wonder and to want answers.

But faith isn’t about knowing. First you have faith and then your faith grows. You have to just jump in and believe and then ask God to give you whatever answers He feels you are ready to understand.

And He will answer them. As He wishes. When He wants. In His timing. And to the degree that you are able to understand. That might take a while. But meanwhile, you’ll be in the pool with Him. Being blessed and feeling loved.

By standing at the edge of faith, you’re missing out on all the good stuff. All the growth you could be going through; all the relationship building you could be having with Jesus. All the fun. And just like it is with swimming, once you jump into a relationship of faith, you no longer worry about being cold, afraid or uncertain.

Yep, swim class can teach us a lot about faith. And we don’t have to worry about sunburned skin, chlorine-smelling towels or how we look in last year’s bathing suit. How awesome is that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for this world and the ordered laws of science that you created. Thank you for enabling us to understand how a few of these laws operate. Help us, Jesus, when we hesitate to jump into the water with you. Remind us that you are there to catch us and keep us afloat in your love and care. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Describe your first time in the deep end of the pool.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Hear our prayers, O Lord. When we are in pain or despair; when we are lost or disheartened; when we lack direction and need your guidance—hear our prayer. When we are joyful; when we feel your love; when we love others freely in your name—hear our prayers of praise. Thank you for hearing us. Thank you for loving us. Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writer’s blog chain. Our theme for July is “Freedom.” I am posting every Wednesday in July on this theme. Click on the links to the right to see what my friends have to say about freedom.


Have you been to the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC? Like the other memorials in our capital—the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial—it is beautiful and moving.  

Unlike those other memorials, the Korean War Memorial has a personal feel to it. You can interact with the Korean War Memorial—walk among the statues of the soldiers, see their expressions etched in granite, touch the water flowing over the edge of the reflecting pool, and finger the carved words, “Freedom Is Not Free.” 

As Christians we talk about our freedom in Christ. We are free from the penalty of sin when we have asked and received forgiveness through Christ. 

We are free to live in and through Jesus every day; knowing that we are free from our pettiness when we rely on Him. 

We are free from compulsion and doubt by means of the counsel, guidance and help of the Holy Spirit, freely given to us. 

All these freedoms and more are ours when we claim Christ as our savior. 

But our freedom was bought. The price was the cross. Jesus paid it when he set aside his divinity and became human for our sake. He paid it by being away from his Father’s presence for 33 years. He paid it by being wrongly accused. He paid it by being humiliated. He paid it by suffering physical torture. He paid it by dying the most horrible death imaginable then or now.  

Nor was it free for Father God. The Father loved Jesus. He knew the sacrifice, the pain, the humiliation, the death that was in store for Jesus. Imagine how you feel watching your child suffer. How much worse knowing it was your plan. Our Heavenly Father paid the cost of the pain and let it happen just as He had ordained. The plan was perfect. The plan was good. But the plan came with a cost.

Our freedom wasn’t free to Jesus or to our Father. It is only free to us. Followed by the free gift of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation is a gift, freely given; but not freely accomplished.   

Freedom isn’t free.

PRAYER: Thank you for the cross, Jesus. Thank you for your plan, Father. Thank you for your presence, Holy Spirit. We acknowledge we are unworthy of these gifts and that although they are free to us, they were bought at a great price. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What other freedoms in Christ do you recognize in your life?

Monday, July 18, 2011


Here are a few more names, their meanings and prayers you could pray for loved ones with those names.

For the ongoing list of names and associated prayers, please click on the "PRAYING NAMES" page above. If a name of one of your loved ones isn't there, please post a comment, with the name you would like included. I'll create a prayer and post it the next time I add more names to the list.

I hope you and your loved ones will find this ministry of praying names to be a joy and a blessing.

Arland: pledge

Heavenly Father, I pray that Arland will live his name. I pray that he will pledge his faith to you and live in a manner consistent with it. I pray also that he will acknowledge your faithfulness in his life and praise you daily for your goodness.


Cynthia: the Moon personified

Heavenly Father, I pray that Cynthia will live her name. I pray that she will be a gentle light to all around her, shining, not for her own glory, but reflecting your light to others. I pray that her faith will have the power of the tides, to affect the faith of others, in a gentle, yet faithful way.

Kurt Curtis, Conrad: courteous; bold wise counselor

Heavenly Father, I pray that Kurt will live his name. I pray that he will live a life worthy of you, courteous to others and bold in his wise counsel. Infuse him with wisdom and let his true counsel come from you.

Patricia; Patrice; Tricia: of noble cescent

Heavenly Father, I pray that Patricia will live her name. I pray that although she is not of royal descent, that she will live her life in a noble manner, according to the nobility granted you as an adopted daughter of the King. I pray that people will observe her life and see you working in and through her in all things.

Steven, Stephen, Steve:  crowned one

Heavenly Father, I pray that Steven will live his name. I pray that he will live for you, Jesus, as the true Crowned One and ruler of his life. I pray also that he will understand his place as your child; an adopted son of the King of the Universe and will live his life according to the nobility he possesses in your name. I pray also that throughout his life, his actions will bring him many crowns that he may toss at your feet in eternity.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This week’s posts have been about sandwiches and desserts. I hope they have provided you with spiritual food for thought.

Over the weekend, let's meditate on 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writer’s blog chain. Our theme for July is “Freedom.” I am posting every Wednesday in July on the freedom theme. Follow the links to the right to see what my Christian Writer friends have to say about freedom.

Do you remember all those fun rules you learned in grade school?

“I before e, except after c…”
“Thirty days hath September, April, June and November…”
“Any number times ten, put a zero at the end.” Oh, wait...I made that one up.

My favorite spelling rule was the desert/dessert rule: “Dessert has two s’s because you always want seconds on dessert.”

My mother seemed to have a keen understanding of that rule because when she was thinking about what to cook for dinner, she always planned dessert first.

The only good thing about deserts, on the other hand, are all the sandwiches there (…all the sand which is there). Alas, my sense of humor stopped developing at grade four. (Nonetheless, read Monday's post about the spiritual truths I've learned from sandwiches.)

That reminds me of Jesus.

Here Carol goes again…

Yes. Please come with me.

Let’s go back to Exodus. Remember the wandering Jews? No, not the plant. The Jews, led by Moses into the desert where they wandered for 40 years before reaching the land God promised them. If it hadn’t been for their and Moses’ disobedience, it would have been a quick hop across the Red Sea and straight through to the other side of the Jordan River and the Promised Land. But instead, the Jews whined.

I need water.
I’m hungry.
What’s this manna? I want meat.
Quail? I was hoping for a nice lamb chop.
How come we had to leave Egypt anyway?
Whine. Whine. Whine.
And then they started worshipping idols.

Ouch. Bad idea that.

Eventually, God must have figured they learned their lesson because He fulfilled His promise and delivered them to the Promised Land.

The Jews then left the desert and entered a land so wonderful it was described as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Milk and honey? That sounds sort of like a milkshake, doesn’t it? Or the makings of ice cream. Or pudding. 

In other words, it sounds a lot like dessert.

The Jews spent 40 years in the desert until they could appreciate the dessert God had promised them.

God’s promises are delicious. They are the ultimate good ending to every bad story. And one of God’s promises, known to the ancient Jewish people, was that He would send a messiah—a redeemer who would bring salvation to His people.

God fulfilled that promise when He sent Jesus. The sweetest milk. The purest honey. The most delicious gift.

God planned Jesus’ gift to the world before the world began. Just like Mom plans dessert first. But even though Mom planned dessert first, we still had to eat our Brussels sprouts before we got it. We only got the good stuff after we finished the bad stuff.

Praise God, Christ came and brought us freedom to enjoy the good stuff while struggling through the bad.  

Jesus gives us freedom while in the desert to have dessert. Put in a child’s perspective, we get to have dessert along with the Brussels sprouts.  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your plan and the promise of a messiah who would save us. Jesus, thank you for fulfilling that promise and guaranteeing our salvation. Holy Spirit, remind us of this sweet gift and show us ways to share it with others. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What is the most luscious dessert you’ve ever had? How is it like Jesus? No fair, saying “angel food cake”!


Monday, July 11, 2011


It’s tummy rumble time.

That means breakfast was long ago and lunch is still far away. So now I’m sitting here not thinking about food for thought for this post, but just food. And I’m imagining a sandwich. Mmm…

Since my tummy keeps rumbling, I might as well go with that image and share with you the spiritual truths I’ve learned from a sandwich.

In terms of the Trinity:

Mayo gets spread over the bread before anything else is added. Just like “In the beginning God...” Before God covered the earth with land and plants and fish and birds and animals and people, God was. And mayo’s white purity reminds me of God’s holiness.

Catsup reminds me of the blood of Christ. Not just the color. It provides that little bit of sweetness to a meal otherwise destined to be the main dish. It’s like having dessert right there in the middle of your lunch. It is sweet and satisfying. Like Jesus.

Mustard takes me back to scripture and reminds me that even if I have faith as small as a mustard seed, God can make it grow. And He can use me, too, even though He is big and I am little.

Now that we have the foundational condiments for our sandwich, it’s time to build it up.

Building the sandwich

Meat represents God’s Word. Now that I’m no longer a baby Christian drinking in my faith like milk, I can add meat. Meat gives me something to chew on; something substantial; something that feeds my brain and develops my spiritual muscle. It sustains me. Meat is an important part of my sandwich. Or if I’m feeling vegetarian, maybe I’ll have a nice egg-salad sandwich.

Cheese represents meditation and prayer. Just as milk must be allowed to sit and ferment until it becomes cheese, so must I meditate on scripture and pray unceasingly so I can melt my personal plans with what God has planned for me.

At the sandwich shop, lettuce and tomatoes, onions and pickles are lumped together and called “produce.” These veggies represent the fruit of my faith; the fruit that is “produced” in and through me by the Holy Spirit.

“Hey, you forgot the bread!” you say.

Nope. The bread represents Christ’s body broken for us, which along with the catsup—representing the blood of Christ—means we’ve even got Holy Communion covered.

Taken together, my sandwich of faith represents Jesus’ Holy Church. It is delightful, fills me up, nourishes me and allows me to live for Him. Everything—all together—in fellowship.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us our daily bread—the things, events, people, words, love and nourishment we need to live for you. Following Jesus’ example of teaching through parables, remind us throughout your day to look at ways we can learn spiritual truths you want us to learn. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there something unusual you put on your sandwich? In what way could it provide you with a spiritual truth that will remind you of God’s character, purpose or plan?

Friday, July 8, 2011


Wrapping up our celebration in America this week of independence and freedom, meditate on Galatians 5:1:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writer’s blog chain. Our theme for July is “Freedom.” I am posting every Wednesday in July on the freedom theme. Follow the links to the right to see what my Christian Writer friends have to say about freedom.


When I was a young adult, I did what most young adults do. I rebelled. (READ MY TESTIMONY ABOVE)

I didn’t know exactly what I should rebel against. The “establishment” surely, although I didn’t know precisely what the “establishment” was. I only knew I wouldn’t stand for being part of it.

Being raised as a pastor’s kid, I also knew I had no need for organized religion. Church was definitely part of the establishment. So when I got out on my own, I stopped attending church.

I could pray and believe on my own just fine, thanks. After all, I was independent. I was strong. And as a young woman, I knew everything about life.

You did, too, at that age, didn’t you?

Over the years, I understand more deeply just how little I really know. Even now. But it’s taken a while to get to that point.

One of the hardest things I had to get over when I finally did return to church was the idea of surrender.

Surrender to Christ’s will? Didn’t God make me to be a strong, intelligent woman? No way I’m gonna surrender my plans for my life to Jesus. Jesus can go ahead and save souls. God can go ahead and keep the planets spinning. The Holy Spirit can keep, uh, what does He do again? But I’ll take charge of my life, thanks.


After years of bible study, reading, meditating, praying, listening to sermons, seeking God, and trusting Him, it finally sank in:  God is bigger than I am.

He’s also smarter, wiser, and able to see the big picture—His picture—and my place in it.

One day it simply clicked someplace in the middle of my heart. Surrender didn’t mean giving up. It meant giving over and trusting in the One who is trustworthy. It didn’t mean giving up my independence. It meant gaining independence because it meant finding freedom from the control and influence of the world. It meant freedom from having to do live on my own.

The day I began to surrender my life to Jesus became my Independence Day. I took hold of the freedom found in Christ. The freedom to be the woman He meant me to be. The freedom to live for Him. The freedom to praise Him and glorify Him with my life. The freedom to be for Him.

In America, we value freedom and we celebrate our political freedom every year on July fourth. It is good to have freedom. We can have that freedom in Christ when first we surrender. Every day can be Independence Day.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the free will you give us to decide freely to surrender to you. Thank you Jesus for the freedom we have from worry about sin and where we will spend eternity. Thank you Holy Spirit, for the freedom from doubt and lack of direction when we follow your guidance and listen to your counsel. Thank you God for the independence we have in you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Did you ever feel that surrender to Christ might mean an end to your own independence?

Monday, July 4, 2011


Two flowers—the larkspur and the water lily—are the birth flower of people born in July. And both flowers remind me of Jesus. (See my June post, Like a Rose, for the June birth flower.)

The Larkspur is a glorious, stalked flower lined with brilliant blossoms in white, to pink, blue, and violet. 

So how does this remind me of Jesus? In four ways:

1. The shape of the blossom is a 5-pointed star. The star shape reminds us of the star that pointed the way to Bethelehem for the wise men and the shepherds. The star symbol can still point us to Jesus.   

2. The lark in literature is often portrayed as singing hymns and prayers at the gate of heaven. And as it announces the new day, the lark symbolizes hope made new. While most birds can only sing while perched, a lark can also sing while flying. This ability reminds us to find joy in everything we do and that we find our true joy and hope in Jesus.  

3. In Near Eastern mythology, the lark is associated with the spirit of wheat. In real life, the lark helps rid wheat fields of destructive pests. The lark has become a symbol for Christ who is “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). It is through Jesus that our destructive sins are forgiven.

4. In Genesis 3:15 God told Adam and Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The larkspur is sometimes called the lark’s claw or lark’s heel. A subtle reference to Jesus’ heel and as he crushed Satan?

“Okay,” you say, “but what about the water lily? You’re not gonna tell me the water lily is like Jesus just because regular lilies are a common Easter flower, are you?”

No. I have other reasons why water lilies remind me of Jesus.  

1. Jesus is the living water. Who but God would have created a flower that grows in water? There are cactus flowers that grow in sand. There are egret flowers that grow in bogs. There are flowers that grow in rock crevices, mulch, fungus and rich soil. But water? Only the God of the universe—with the living water in mind—could think of that.

2. The water lily is also known as the lotus. It is symbolic in many cultures of sacred enlightenment. Think meditation and the practice in yoga of meditating on a lotus blossoming open. Now think Jesus. Our true sacred enlightenment. 

3. To the ancient Egyptians, the lotus symbolized the sun and rebirth. Jesus is not the sun; but the Son. And He came to make us born again and to assure us that we will live with him in eternity.

4. Buddhists consider the water lily a symbol of purity and divine birth. Hello, Jesus.

Whether you are born in July or not; whether you prefer the larkspur or the water lily as the “official” birth flower of July—it’s all good. It’s all beautiful and it can all point us toward Jesus.

Happy birthday to everyone born in July.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the variety and beauty you created when you created this world. Thank you that you created things around us to remind us of Jesus. Open our eyes and help us see more of your glory. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Are you a July baby? Which flower do you prefer as your birth flower? Why?

Friday, July 1, 2011


In preparation for Monday’s post, read and meditate on the following scripture:

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29 NASB)


A special prayer today is being sent up for Katie (Katelyn, Caitlin, diminutive of Katherine, meaning purity):

Lord, I pray that Katie will live her name. I pray that she will be protected from all evil and from every hurtful, untrue thing. I pray that she will seek purity in life and that she will live in the spirit and truth that comes from you. I pray that she will speak only truth and hear only truth; that she will be able to see clearly what is not true and that she will rely on your truth in everything she does. Help her lean on your truth today and always. Amen.