Resetting My Ring

Beware, oh you younger women who’ve only been married a mere decade or two!

Each year, say, on your anniversary, make it a habit to give your engagement ring a good looking over. I know of at least one woman whose diamond escaped its setting. Not long ago, I discovered a broken prong. In fact, I’ve had to add a bit of metal to my ring twice.

Once, I had gold added to strengthen a worn and thinning band. Another time I had to replace the weak setting that threatened to release its precious rock.

Each time, as an added bonus, my ring has been thoroughly polished and returned to me with new luster, as the light showed through with unimpeded brilliance.

And, each time, as I slipped that ring back on my finger, I recalled the joy of the first time I regarded it on my left hand.

What about your faith? Has it lost some of its luster? Has anything gone weak, or chipped, or broken? Sometimes our faith needs a good looking over. Perhaps it’s time to:

Add to our faith, strengthening it through worship, devotion, more time in the Bible, and more fellowship with those who love the Lord and are willing to share what God has done in their lives.  

Polish up our spiritual habits. What has slowly accumulated to dull your walk or cloud your joy? Are there places you might need to clean up your act, to make your faith clearer and more effective? Anything need to be given up?

Remember Jesus. Take time to recollect the gifts and blessings of your past and present life with God. Enjoy his presence!

In all these things, the first step is to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for his help.

I took time to make sure my ring was holding strong and shining its brightest. How very much more important is my faith, and yours!

I hope you will assess your walk this week and LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

Photo credit: _drz_ via


If you tend to stick to reading the New Testament, then you’re missing out on a lot of help in life. Let me encourage you to read through the book of Proverbs (maybe several times.) You’ll be blown away by its practicality. It’s a virtual feast (see, now the photo fits) of good advice! Here’s a sampling. (Since every quote is taken from the book of Proverbs, I’ve only listed the chapter and verse for each one.)

Pay attention to what God says.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:5-6).

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (21:3).

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (30:5).

Guard your heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (4:23).

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (14:30).

Watch your mouth. (This starts with guarding your heart.)

The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,and their lips promote instruction” (16:23).

Keep your mouth free of perversity;  keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (4:24).

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (18:21).

Don’t be lazy.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (6:10-11).

Be humble.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (11:2).

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor” (29:23).

Be kind.

A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth. Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves” (11:16-17).

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (19:17).

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (22:9).

Easy to do? Maybe not, but these words of wisdom are so important and, clearly, what God is asking us to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit. (‘Cause we’ll all fail miserably on our own.) Next week I’ll give you the verses that talk about financial wisdom, choosing friends, raising kids, handling rebuke, becoming self-controlled, and appreciating your wife (!).  Stay tuned! And have a great week.

Looking Loopy

Evan Almighty may not have been perfect in its theology, but it sure got one thing right. Noah looked like a hair-brained fool for building that boat. (‘Good thing he did it anyway.) Plenty of Bible heroes had to take on courageous challenges that didn’t make any sense at the time. Abraham (take a hike with your son and a knife) and Joshua (take a lot of hikes with torches and clay jars) come to mind first off. But were there any “little guys” who found themselves facing a crisis of obedience? I think so. Look at this passage from Mark 14. Jesus’ disciples have just asked where they should prepare what we’ve come to call The Last Supper.

“Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

That homeowner had already prepared his room. Then he went for water at just the right time, and it mattered very much that he did.

Then there’s this passage from Luke 5. While Simon Peter became a hero of our faith, at the time of this story, he’s just a regular guy, a tired fisherman facing a failure. “When he (Jesus) had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’

Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”

Simon had already started cleaning and repairing his empty nets. How did it look to the guys in the other boats when he headed back out?

These people looked loopy because God had a plan, and they trusted him even when they didn’t know what that plan was.

In today’s conflicted world, perhaps the nuttiest think you can do is look peaceful and happy. But, really, why not? As Charles Stanley said, “Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world, because we’ve got more to be grateful for.” We’ve also got More to trust.

So this week I’m asking you to not only embrace the peace and joy God offers you, but also to let it show! When you’re stuck in a conversation of doom and gloom, be the voice of hope. Let people hear of your trust in God’s plan. So what if it make you look a little loopy?

And for more of Dr. Charles Stanley, check out this link: “How to Stay Young and Useful All Your Life.”

Photo by Greg Reese via

He Lived Well and Loved Hard

We were back in Houston for the funeral of a long-time friend named Mike. The service was honoring, both to the Lord and to the one He had called home. One sentence, spoken by Mike’s grandson, remains with me:

He lived well and loved hard.

I had to ask myself, am I doing that? What does it look like? How would our Lord have us live well and love hard? An hour before the funeral, driving around our old neighborhood, we’d stopped for a taco at a simple Mexican restaurant where one wall was full of those popular wooden signs that say so much in so few words. One said this:

  • Love spoken here.
  • Joy chosen here.
  • Grace given here.

That, my friends, is in great part how we live well and love hard.

We speak love—to our Lord, to those around us, and to ourselves, sometimes with words, but more often with actions. The Bible is full of reasons to love, ways to love, and commands to love. It requires humility, selflessness, and a willingness to do whatever we feel God is calling us to do. When we ask him to help us love, he will provide creative answers and the wherewithal to follow through on his directions.

We choose joy—no matter what. Joy doesn’t always happen to us, or envelop us, or even well up within us. Most of the time we have to choose it, to wake up in the morning and say, “God made this day, and I will rejoice in it. I will make a conscious effort to see his presence in every moment.” This habit heightens the niceties of life and gives perspective to the uglier side of living on a fallen planet.

We give grace—both deserved and undeserved. Spilled milk? An angry look? A hurtful comment? A selfish choice? God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He didn’t say, “Love people when they behave.” And so, we give grace, even when the only reason we can think of to do so is in remembrance of the grace that God has given us.

As you go about your day today—and every day hereafter—I hope you will speak love, choose joy, and give grace. And then, maybe one day, someone will say that you lived well and loved hard!

photo: @peterbucks via

Legacies: One Wedding and a Funeral

I love weddings, and just got back from yet another delightful one. Of course, I could tell you all about the cake and the flowers, the great music, the adorable children, and the shock of winning the “who’s been married the longest” dance-off. But instead, I want to tell you about the vows. The happy couple said their traditional “I do’s,” but they also wrote personal vows to share with one another and, since I was one of the fortunate on-lookers, with me. Here’s what the groom said:

“Today is not only the beginning of a covenant commitment, but the fulfillment of God’s promise. Psalm 37:4 reads, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ Little did I know that those times I prayed for my future wife, I was praying for you. You are a testimony to God’s goodness and blessing in my life. We know that marriage will not be easy. There will be times where our marriage is tested with trials and uncertainty. I promise that you can always count on two things—the faithfulness of God and my unwavering commitment to you. It’s my delight to serve you, my privilege to lead you, my honor to protect you, my delight to build you up, and my joy to spend forever with you. Today I am making a covenant with you before God and everyone that I will love you selflessly and sacrificially until God calls me home.”

Wow! What a blessing to watch a new marriage begin! And what a great reminder: the promises made by that young man are the same ones we who are married can and should make anew every day!

But life is not all about romance and beginnings. We walk through endings as well. My Uncle Jack died last month. I had a chance to sit by his bedside just days before he passed into heaven. Soon thereafter Steve and I attended his funeral—the best, if it’s okay to say so, that we’ve ever experienced. I want to tell you part of what Jack’s son said about his dad.

  • “He believed God wants every child to grow up in a loving home.”
  • “Whenever he saw a problem, he always tried to do something about it. No one could tell him he couldn’t.”
  • “His life was a life that was lived in obedience to God’s call and to his purpose.”
  • “Of all the things he taught me, I will remember these three things: Think about others. You matter, and you can have an impact. Persist.”

Those words are now a part of Jack’s legacy. They honor him even as they challenge me. I hope they challenge you as well, and spur you on to think about the legacy you are creating.

What are you teaching others by word and deed? And are you living in obedience to God’s call and to his purpose. If so, hallelujah! If not, time to get started!

*photo by 3D_Maennchen via


American Idols by Beth Smith

idols Photo by Denny Ryanto on UnsplashI’m sharing one of my mom’s devotionals today. Get ready! It’s a challenging one.

Today I want each of us to figure out whether we are molding idols, or being molded by our Lord. It’s a tough question to ponder.

God commanded us to put him first in our lives when he said, “Have no other gods before or besides me” (Exodus 20:3).

Most of us would probably say, “There’s nothing more important than God.” But do we live out that truth? Or are we molding idols on the side?

In Matthew 6, Jesus reminded his followers that we can’t serve two masters. We can serve God or we can serve mammon (which means riches, money, and possessions.) In the same chapter, he told us to stop worrying about our lives so much that we ignore God. Even what we eat, drink or wear can become idols if those things are more important to us than God. Sure, we need those things, but God knows that, so there’s no need for us to worry. Jesus promises that if seek him and his way of living first, he’ll take care of all those other needs that often preoccupy our thoughts.

Jonah 2:8 is a verse that continually pricks at my heart. It’s part of Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish. As he prays, he comes to this revelation and conclusion, “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” Ouch! I wonder how much we miss when we fail to make God first in our lives.

If we stop molding false gods, then God can mold us. Isaiah 64:8 gives us this prayer, “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Even though God’s process of shaping us into what he wants us to be is painful at times, it’s a good thing. Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that the Artist who molds us has a perfect plan. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ Declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

God continually molds us so that his perfect plan, his will, can be fulfilled. Some of us take more work than others.  All too often, we resist his shaping. Hard clay has to be kneaded—pushed and pressed to soften it and make it useable. ‘Sounds uncomfortable, doesn’t it? The faster we recognize the Potter’s authority and his loving hand, the sooner he can mold us into what we are designed to be.

We can love a lot of people. We can enjoy many things. But no person and no thing can become our God! What’s keeping us from letting God be God, giving him the rightful place in our hearts? “Little children, keep yourselves from false gods—from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life” (1 John 5:21 AMP).

How about it? Are we molding idols or letting God mold us? Frankly, I’ve got lots of little gods to get rid of. Do you? I think we’d better get busy.

Photo by Denny Ryanto via