Find an angel; be an angel …

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.” 1 Peter 1:18

On the train, I met a young Chinese man going for an interview close to Penn Station. He was fretting over the pending interview, and I re-directed his focus onto my needs–to figure out how to get to Penn Station. He guided me off the train and onto the PATH light rail, and I found Penn Station all by myself.

The people in Manhattan were friendly and helpful. One young man saw us struggling at the kiosk to buy a subway ticket and walked us through it. Then he said, “I’m homeless, could you help me out?” We gave him a nice tip for keeping two old folks from becoming embarrassed while figuring out how to get to the river cruise around the Statue of Liberty.

When we step out in faith, God sends angels along the way to guide us and to be an angel to other people.

Lord, thank you for adventures that helps build trust and faith. Amen.

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Don’t just cry out …

“Has there ever been a time when you cried out to me that I haven’t rescued you?” Judges 10:13?

The Israelites were God’s chosen people, and yet they disappointed him constantly. Finally, he told them to go away and worship your own gods–you don’t need me–I’ll let you fail. However, we know he gave them many opportunities to change their ways.

Then, God sent Jesus to show the way to live, and how much we need discipline in our lives. And, we can’t receive it by following our own false gods. We are blessed that through Jesus, when we stumble, we get a second, third, fourth, and more when needed chances to be rescued. God will pick us up, dust us off, and send us out to do his will.

I have neuropathy in my feet, which leaves them with “dead spots” due to nerve damage. It is troubling when I stumble because feet were intended to keep us balanced. When my pathways are rough or uneven, I move more slowly, and when I go on a hike, I take my trusty walking stick with me.

During my faith walk, I encounter different paths, too. Sometimes they are rocky or I’m unsure of what God expects of me. Instead of crying out, “Help me, God,” I  stop the racing thoughts going through my mind and lean on God as if he were my walking stick.

Lord, when we cry to you during troubling times, help us accept your life-giving comfort. Amen.

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Our wounds …

Eliphaz from Teman spoke to Job: “True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
the same hand that hurts you heals you.” Job 5:17

Last night I caught the beginning of the movie, “The Shack” and chose not to watch it. I had already read the book and knew I would be up hours re-running it in my head. The movie reminds me a lot of Job’s journey to find wholeness after loss. “The Shack,” was written by a novice novelist, William P. Young, who self-published the book. Because of the volume of books it sold, a major publisher picked it up, and it became a best seller. The book is about tragedy, loss of faith, and faith restored by an unconventional visit from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I recently watched a TED show about grief. Laura Price, author of “Good Mourning” spoke about how rituals can help people through grief. When her husband died, she and her family filled the cremation box holding their loved one with mementoes of his life–pictures, a favorite cap, etc. Instead of thinking about the process of cremation, they stored pleasant memories for the future from their last moments together and found a way to begin to heal the wound of loss. She ended her speech by quoting Rumi: “A wound is a place where the light enters in.” For believers, that light is our Triune God.

Lord, you are an amazing God who gives, takes away, and then rewards us with blessings we do not deserve. Amen.

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Run on your own merit …

“His mother’s relatives reported the proposal [to make him the new ruler] to the leaders of Shechem. They were inclined to take Abimelech. ‘Because,’ they said, ‘he is, after all, one of us.’ ” Judges 9:3

Gideon had seventy sons by many wives, and one by his concubine, whom was named Abimelech. He grew up being told by his mother he was worthy because his father, Gideon, had been a powerful leader. Now that his father was dead, the seventy sons would become joint rulers of Israel.

Abimelech went to Shechem and convinced his mother’s relatives to support him to be the new ruler. After all, “I am your own flesh and blood.” Abimelech’s relatives took up a collection and gave him money to pay thuds to kill all 70 of his brothers. Removing them gave him a pathway to what he wanted: Power.

We have seen political names resurface, like Daley, Richard J. and Richard M, father and son, who both served as mayor of Chicago for six terms, and Bush, George H.W. and George W, father and son, who each served as presidents of the U.S. No doubt, name recognition made an impact on the election results, but once they got into office, they had to perform on their own merit. History will define how successful they were.

As for Abimelech and Shechem’s leaders, the adage “what goes around, comes around” proved true when they were killed by those who killed Abimelech’s seventy brothers.

Lord, help us realize our potential needs to run on our own merit. Amen.

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Don’t be shy …

“GOD said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:12

The story of Gideon is one many people can relate to. He was minding his business, threshing wheat in the winepress, and an angel of God appeared and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!” (vs. 15) He probably looked over his shoulder to see who the angel was addressing, because he considered himself a nobody—a runt of the litter—hardly a warrior who was being asked to save Israel from Midian.

We can’t predict when one of God’s “angels” might appear to us to ask us for assistance on Earth. It may be something of a minor task—like taking a casserole to someone mourning or following surgery or driving a friend to a doctor’s appointment. Perhaps we will say, “Why, me?” like Gideon, but he trusted God and became a strong warrior.

I have been published in the magazine, “Angels on Earth” a division of “Guideposts Magazine” a few times. The magazine tells true first person stories about incidents in which an angel on Earth came to someone’s rescue or how they were able to be there for someone. Check out this magazine at www.AngelsonEarth.com.

I challenge you to ask God every morning to show you an opportunity to be an angel on Earth. Don’t shy away from the chance to make a difference.

Lord, help us open our eyes to opportunities to serve you as servant s or angels on Earth. Amen.

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Where will you be placed?

“Abraham lived 175 years. Then he took his final breath. He died happy at a ripe old age, full of years, and was buried with his family.” Genesis 25:7

Before Joseph died, he had one last “dream,” that his whole family would be brought out of Egypt,  and they would reside in the Promised Land. In Joshua 24:32, we read when Joseph died the Israelites carried his body with them on their 40-year journey and was eventually buried in Shechem in a plot of ground that his father, Jacob, had purchased.

I’ve never seen a cemetery that I want to spend the rest of my “expired life” in. Some are in settings with hills, large oak trees shading the sites, and are lovely to look at, but I could never buy a plot for future use.

It used to be important for people to buy a cemetery plot which could “sleep” several members of the family. Most of my ancestors, including my father, are buried in a cemetery outside of  Roland, Iowa. It is sobering to walk through it and think of the journey each of these people were on during their lives on Earth.

I don’t get hung up on what will happen to my body when I die. I am planning to donate my body to science, then to be cremated. Where my ashes will be placed is TBD—to be determined by my children.

Dear Father, thank you for taking our souls to Heaven and leaving the rest behind. Amen.

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The power of iron …


“Solomon collected chariots and horses: fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses! … Chariots from Egypt went for fifteen pounds of silver and a horse for about three and three-quarter pounds of silver.” 1 Kings 10:26,29

I’ve been following the performance of a U.S. steel company. This year the stock has been as high as $41 a share and low as $15. Today it stands around $23. Experts believe we need to keep the production of steel within the U.S., because in case of war, we need it to defend the U.S. and shore up our sagging infrastructure—bridges for sure.

Steel had great importance in the early Bible days. Joshua knew when a country had steel chariots they would have a hard time conquering these armies. King Solomon wisely collected chariots and horses and sold them for a profit. In today’s currency, a horse would sell for around $660 and a chariot for $3000.

I’m amazed iron was discovered as early as 1200 BC and wonder, “Who discovered iron ore and how did they figure out how to use to build a chariot? I need not wonder. It’s all about God who made the brains of people to be inquisitive, adventurous, and to help them provide for their needs.

Over the years, we have figured out how to make things simpler, more efficient, cheaper, etc.What is left for the next generation to achieve? I pray  it will be peace in the world, not more war.

Lord, thank you for making the human mind so amazing. Amen.

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Proven gold . . .

“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.” 1 Peter 1:6,7

I’m fascinated by the reference to gold in much of the Bible. Who discovered gold and figured out how to use it to make jewelry and idols such as the golden calf, and did the artists who formed the calf use a mold and pour pure gold into it? Most structures we see today, such as the beautiful dome of the Des Moines Capitol building, are made from limestone, copper cladding, or cast iron and gilded with a layer of gold.

My eight-year old grandson and his daddy watch the TV show Gold Rush, about six men in Alaska who make a living by prospecting for gold. The ups and downs of this industry are full of drama, especially when Parker’s grandfather became ill and at the tender age of 21, he took over the mining operation. The fascination of gold has kept this show on the air for over seven years.

In 1Peter,we read letters to both Jews and Gentiles about being persecuted for faith. Peter compared it to gold and when put in the fire how it comes out proved pure. Our faith can be put through the fire, too, and our belief in the risen Lord, who suffered for us, will help us come out “proved genuine” in the eyes of God.

Lord, may we be able to stand firm on our love for you during times of turmoil. Amen.

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Manipulate?

“Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” Galatians 3:4

Apostle Paul called the Galatians “crazy” for losing focus on Jesus. Wasn’t his sacrifice on the cross clear enough? Paul accused them of “working their heads off to please God” instead of responding to God’s message.

I admit on occasion I have a case of “motor mouth” that my discerning gears fail to slow down my thoughts or brakes to shut my mouth. I’ve learned to recant, beg forgiveness, or try to cover one statement with another, but it doesn’t erase anything said either in jest, as sarcasm, or just plain stupidity of a subject.

Misunderstandings are the result of a comment which is not carefully conveyed. One time I said, “I’ve been guilty of being a manipulator,” and lost credibility with a friend. What I didn’t say was “I am capable of getting what I want when I know there are loose links in a relationship.” I will try harder in the future to change my way of communicating!

I wonder if the Galatians were manipulating God’s law instead of trusting him. If they do “right” all the time, isn’t that enough? Paul was aware he manipulated the law to punish new Christians, and as a new Christian, came down hard on those who just didn’t “get it.”

Dear Lord, help us never lose sight of the cross and what it means to us. Amen.

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Don’t just respect your elders …

“God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.” Psalm 33:18-19

While raising us kids, my father was the silent partner in discipline, yet he let it be known he wouldn’t allow disrespect for our mother or for himself. We were to treat them with kindness and love. To get his point across, I once heard him say, “If you talk back to your mother or me, I’ll climb across this table and get you!” Of course, he never had to do this because we respected and feared him.

We are to treat everyone with kindness and respect—the people who wait on us in the grocery store, the scruffy looking homeless person on the curb, teachers, leaders, neighbors, friends, family! There are no exceptions to this rule. My mother jokes, “If you can’t be good, be nice.” I’m not sure what she means by this, because if you are good you will be nice! And, we need to be God-like and respect his creation–humans, plants, and animals.

Think of someone you respect—such as a beloved teacher—and use the same kind of kindness shown him or her to someone you normally ignore because they are “different.” Begin with an act of kindness like saying “Hello.” Or, as I learned in Texas, “Ya doin’ all right?” and watch for their reaction.

Lord, help us see others as you see us. Amen.

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