Thursday, April 28, 2011

WORKOUT WOES: All this (and guilt too) for only $29 a month!

I have a love-hate relationship with the place where I work out.  I love the results that I
can achieve by going there.  I hate going there.

I chose this particular place because it was relatively quick (30 min on the machines), had early morning hours, and was women-only.  I am not sociable or attractive at that time of day and if I’m up early, it means that I’ll be in a hurry all day! It seemed ideal! They recommend that you come at least three days a week to benefit from the program…so far, after a year of paying my $29 a month, I have managed to get there three times in a week TWICE!  I have the “perfect” place to keep myself in shape, regularly available, and I can only manage to show up two times a week at best.  Not only is that pathetic, it provides me with a load of guilt on a regular basis.  My doctor tells me to go, my body tells me to go, even my checkbook tells me to go--it’s just hard to get my will to cooperate!

As I was upbraiding myself about this situation, it suddenly occurred to me that this is a perfect parallel to what God has provided for keeping my spirit in shape…He’s given me His word, the Bible, in several versions, His Spirit to help me discern what I read, a me-only quiet place and the hours are convenient: it is always available!  Not only that, He
has paid the “fee” (“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”[1][1]) for this to be at my disposal. But do I take advantage of what has been provided for my daily spiritual
exercise? Not always.  How pathetic!  My Lord tells me to come (“…abide in Me. [2][2]), my heart tells me to come (joy awaits), but making my will cooperate is another matter!

I want to cry with the apostle Paul, “O, wretched man that I am…I do the very thing I hate!” [3][3]…he certainly understood…all the resources and riches of Christ at our disposal and we settle for an occasional “work out”. Who can rescue us from ourselves?  Paul goes on to give us the answer:  “Jesus Christ can…He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”[4][4] When I’m willing to let my will be His will, a daily workout will be automatic…and maybe I’ll even show up at the gym!


[1][1] Romans 5:8 (NASB)
[2][2] John 15:4 (NASB)
[3][3] Romans 7:19,24 (KJV)
[4][4] Romans 7:25 (TM)

Monday, April 11, 2011


Read: Ps. 119:97-104  Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statues. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

A well-known restaurant’s motto is “Making Life Delicious” and having eaten there a few times, I can agree that they do produce flavorful and delicious meals. What we eat may be plain yet nourishing (think: school-cafeteria) but how much more we enjoy food when it goes to that next level of “flavorful and delicious”! In my mind, that’s the difference between EATING and DINING. Just the term dining makes me think of leisurely meals with a hint of graciousness.

How interesting that the Bible tells us to “…taste and see that the Lord is good” Ps. 34:8 and again, “How sweet are thy words to my taste, yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth” Ps. 119:103.  God’s word isn’t just nourishing to the soul but there is a goodness, a sweetness that takes “soul food” to the next level.  To the person who is hungering for God, there is a promise of not just satiety but of delightful pleasure in that satisfaction.  God seems to desire dining…when we dine, we take the time to taste our food, not just stuff it down…dining on His word, taking the time to taste the heavenly gift (Heb.6:4).

PLAN: Take time to feast on God’s word every day.
PRAY:  Dear Lord, thank you for the wonderful variety of “soul food” that you provide. 


Thursday, April 7, 2011


The sun was blinding as I stepped off the porch. It was going to be another scorching summer day in central Texas. Wanting to cut a few roses from the garden before it got too hot, I hurried to gather my gloves & clippers. For years I’ve had a “rose ministry” using these fragrant gifts from the garden to bless others and I already had a recipient in mind.
In the few days since I had checked on my bushes, one had apparently had a “power surge” and I could see a four-foot shoot protruding out over the lawn. On closer inspection, the hardy stem, although covered with foliage, had no buds. It was unfruitful and drawing much-needed nourishment away from the main bush, which was struggling to produce a few small roses. All that vigorous growth was producing nothing of value…I quickly cut it off as close to the root as I could.
Almost as soon as I did, the thoughts started coming to mind of how that shoot was the picture of a Christian, laboring fervently on something that God didn’t really want him doing, all the while draining energy away from the tasks He desired to have accomplished. One of my husband’s favorite sayings rang true:
There is nothing more futile than doing something well that you shouldn’t be doing at all! My pastor had recently put it another way: The greatest failure is being successful at the wrong thing!That branch from my rose bush was being successful at the wrong thing…and it was only fit for the garbage can. What we do in life either reflects that we are cooperating with God’s plans and producing everlasting “fruit” ( …walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…bearing fruit in every good work…Eph. 1:10 ) or following our own desires and producing temporal “trash”. I resolved to be careful to inspect my daily commitments and activities to ensure that I’m not drawing essential energy away from what God wants to accomplish in my life. And, I thanked God for another lesson from the rose garden.ã HJB1-02


What is the greatest word in the English language?  Love? That’s probably what most people would say.  Songs tell of it (“Love Makes the World Go Around”), books are full of it (romance novels are top sellers), wars have been fought over it and babies testify to its popularity. But I beg to differ.  I think the greatest word in the English language is hope. 

It’s one thing to know that God loves us. He could have just told us “I love you” and left it at that. But because He demonstrated that love, we can now have hope. 
Romans 5:8 states that “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  The scripture also tells us that Jesus is the “blessed Hope”, not just because He died for our sins but, because He was supernaturally raised back to life, to prove that His sacrificial death was accepted as payment for our sins.

As a result of God’s love shown to us in Christ, we don’t just hope that all things in our lives will work out for some good purpose (Rom8:28) but we have hope of an eternal future when our physical lives end. Jesus is called that “blessed Hope” because he is the bridge from earth to heaven.

The Bible speaks of people who have no hope because they have no relationship with God. There is a bumper sticker that simplifies it:


We can only know peace though the Peacemaker, Jesus Christ, as we turn our lives over to Him.  He opens his arms and says “Come unto me and I will give you rest”.  That rest means peace for your heart here on earth and rest for your soul throughout eternity.


Psalm 46:1-11  "Be still and know that I am God…" v.10

On a recent vacation to Alaska, there were various places along the road to pull off and look out over the lush green landscape. “Breath-taking” is simply inadequate to describe the sense of wonder and awe at viewing such glorious natural beauty. We could still see the human activity below but we also encompassed the grandeur that surrounded that activity.  One such place was designated “Inspiration Point” and we wondered what the sight of that landscape had inspired in others. It inspired me to write this devotional!

As writers, we stand on the observation places of life—we take the time to observe and ponder the wonder and beauty of life as well as the daily hurry-scurry of those around us. We then record our thoughts and observations for others to consider—to help them see the vistas of life.  In order to accomplish that, we must “be still”.  In that stillness, the creative process is unleashed.  Quiet reflection is an anti-activity that God encourages in His word.  He can then allow us to “know” more—of Him and of what surrounds us.  That knowledge can then be shared with others through our writing.

WC:  Are you taking time to be still?
PRAYER:  “Dear God, help me to take time to stop and consider life from your observation place.”