Thought for the Day

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Are you on your guard?

It’s so easy to let sin or even “just distraction” creep into our minds and move our eyes off of worship and obedience to the Lord.

Stand firm in the faith.

We crave so many things—mental and physical—that weaken us. We busy ourselves with so much of secondary importance in lieu of times of prayer or Bible reading or simple silence.

Be courageous. Be strong.

These instructions cannot be meant for us to follow on our own. Strength and courage only come when we begin to grasp the size and strength of our God, and the utter dependence we must have on him.

Do everything in love.

Everything. Always. Since God is love, our only course should be to follow in his steps, to ask ourselves—and him– in every situation, “What would our Lord have us to do? (More easily said than done.)

These are the verses I have been working on lately—memorizing, contemplating, applying to my life. How do these words strike you? And what verse is needling you these days?

Mr. Sagehorn

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When I was in the eighth grade, I had three teachers. One taught science and math. I remember his face, but not his name. One taught language arts. Her name was Mrs. Marsh. She scared the heck out of me on the first day of class, but taught me more about writing than anyone else ever did (except for my parents, but that’s another story). And then there was Mr. Sagehorn. Mr. Sagehorn was also the principal of that little Lutheran school. Here’s what I remember best about him.

Whenever students broke the rules, Mr. Sagehorn would require them to write a sentence over and over, the number varying with the severity of the offense. It was always this sentence:

“Procrastination is an undesirable characteristic.”

Not to brag, but I don’t think Mr. Sagehorn ever made me write sentences. (Honestly, I was too intimidated by the rigors of junior high to even consider breaking the rules.) But that line, driven deeply into my impressionable psyche, has remained with me until this day. And until this day, I think I always considered it to be the gospel truth.

Silly me.

Today, I sipped my morning tea while considering my long “to do” list. We’ve had a few very full weeks of travel and houseguests. Yesterday, in honor of our wedding anniversary, Steve and I vowed to spend the day resting together. I felt I could procrastinate no longer! Then my phone rang. Would I like to join my grandchildren on a trip to the neighborhood pool?

At that moment, a light went on in my head. Procrastination can be a VERY desirable characteristic. Without it, we become slaves to our lists and routines. We miss the special moments God and loved ones drop into our lives, often at unexpected times.

I went to the pool. I had a blast. I gave my dirty house a quick once-over instead of the thorough cleaning it may have deserved. The laundry stayed in the basket. Only the most urgent slips of paper were handled and discarded from my desk. It will all be there tomorrow, as will the memory of laughing and splashing and soaking up sunshine with three precious little kids.

Sure, there are things that can’t wait. Yes, prolonged procrastination can lead to trouble. But (sorry, Mr. Sagehorn) I now understand that a little bit of procrastination can be good for the soul.

If your “to do” list is keeping you from a blessing—one you need, or one you need to share—take a moment to prioritize, and PROCRASTINATE!

The Rock or Great Words from the Bible and Beth

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I like rocks. I have one from an ancient fort in Honduras, and one from a glacier I walked on in Alaska. I picked one up in Greece at the site of the first Olympic Games, but happened to see a sign that removal of any rock or plant was prohibited. I put it back.

My husband Bert is happy that I like rocks. They make for cheap souvenirs. Some women buy jewelry. I pick up rocks. Yes, I’ve reminded Bert that diamonds are rocks, but he didn’t offer any for my souvenir collection.

Rocks are also a good reminder of our Lord. Psalmists called the Lord God a rock many times.

  • “The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2 NIV).
  • “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me” (Psalm 31:2-3 NIV).
  • “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and He is my Portion forever” (Psalm 73: 26 AMP).

When life is hard, we feel as if we’re walking through mud, slipping and sliding and trudging along. Where can we find firm footing? Here’s where:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40: 1-2 NIV).

We need the Rock. In Psalm 61:2 (NIV), David cries out to God, pleading, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” He is the One who knows more about everything than we do. He can put us on the right, high, firm path. Why will he do that? Because he loves us.

When things all around us are crumbling, God is firm.  2 Timothy 2:19 (AMP) promises that, “The firm foundation of God stands, sure and unshaken.”

My dad was a humorous, kind and hardworking man. I loved him, and was blessed to know that he loved me. We were churchgoers, but Daddy often fell asleep during the sermon. In the superior attitude of my teen years, I wondered if he was really saved. Daddy always said, “People shouldn’t talk about politics or religion. It always causes an argument. Just talk about fishing or pretty girls.” So we didn’t talk about church. Then one day I learned that Daddy’s favorite hymn was The Solid Rock. From then on, I always knew where and how Daddy stood on faith.

  My hope is built on nothing less

  Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

  I dare not trust the sweetest frame

  But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

  When darkness veils his lovely face’

  I rest on his unchanging grace.

  In every high and stormy gale,

  My anchor holds within the veil.

  His oath, His covenant, His blood,

  Support me in the ‘whelming flood.

  When all around my soul gives way,

  He then is all my hope and stay.

  When he shall come with trumpet sound,

  O may I then in Him be found!

  Dressed in His righteousness alone,

  Faultless to stand before the throne.

  On Christ the solid rock I stand.

  All other ground is sinking sand.

  All other ground is sinking sand.[1]

I hope you’ll pick up a rock today and carry it in your pocket or purse, or maybe put it where you pray or where you will see it often. Let your little rock remind you of the Rock, the One upon whom we can stand firm. Christ is still the rock and wants to be, as David declared him to be, our Savior, our Refuge, our Fortress, our Sanctuary, our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Firm Strength, and the Cornerstone of our lives.

All other ground is sinking sand.


[1]Words by Edward Mote, circa 1834. First appeared in Mote’s Hymns of Praise, 1836.

Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplash

I want to retell a favorite story. I’ve posted it before, but just last week, my grandchildren were asking me to tell it to them, so I figure it might be worth a second round…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay. Here’s my side of the conversation:

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

Correct Tire Pressure

I’m starting this post by asking a favor of you. Will you please tell a friend, someone who needs a bit of weekly encouragement, about my writing? If they are inclined to subscribe to this blog, send them to the link below and ask them to follow the instructions on the left side of the page. I will not share their email address. Like you, they will begin to get my weekly essays via email every week.

 Smoother Sailing | How to’s from the Big Book (wordpress.com)

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And now on to my somewhat silly story…                

Our car monitors various items of safety, displaying messages as needed. Last week, “Correct Tire Pressure” showed up on the screen.

“Well,” thought my misinformed husband, “how nice of them to give us that bit of encouragement!” Upon further reflection, of course, he realized the word “correct” was being used as a verb, not an adjective, as a warning, not as a compliment.

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The Mystery and Miracle of His Might by Rachel Kang

In the middle of the night, when all is dark and all is calm, and I am tired and trying to hold open my heavy eyes, I behold my newborn son and gaze down upon his small silhouette, his little life. In the darkness, I feed him. I change him. I burp him. I cradle him. I lull him. When I am done and simply stay there to hold him, I feel his hand on mine. Holding my finger, he grasps to keep me in his grip. And though he is but two months old, his hold on my hand is unbelievably strong, and it is both a mystery and a miracle to feel the cling of his clutch wrapped around the thin of my finger.

One year ago, when the pandemic put a pause on the world, I found myself announcing that it did not put a pause on God’s plan for my family, for life swelled and swirled within me. It was a gift, even in the middle of so much grief. And I could not have known then that when I chose to name the child within, he would really live up to the meaning of his name — that even at two months old, he would show himself to be small but strong.

Aaro is his name. Of all the different variations of meaning his name holds, “mountain of strength” is the one we chose because we want for him to see himself just as a mountain — to see and know he is not a small or hidden or helpless thing.

On a day like today when I am thinking about the mystery and miracle of might showing through the smallness of my son, I cannot help but hear hope for the here and now: Those of us who feel small and insignificant and unseen are, in fact, seen and loved greatly by the One who created the greatest galaxies.

He sees us for who and how we are and shines through us with a strength we could never imagine ourselves.

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