Monday, November 30, 2009

Sharing A Bite In "The Big Apple"

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do
and doesn't do it, sins."
James 4:17

It was an exciting day taking the train into New York City with our two cherubs and two of their cousins (our niece and nephew). The Saturday excursion was a birthday gift for our niece, and our primary destination for her (and Gabrielle) was "American Girl"! To make the trip palatable for the boys, we were also going to "Toys R Us" in Times Square.

This long-awaited day was filled with "firsts" for our niece and nephew....first double-decker train ride, first cab ride, first time to New York City at all! Their first time in "The Big Apple"!!! As our visit to The Big Apple was just for a day, we planned on taking small but delicious bites out of all NYC has to offer. With backpacks filled with water, snacks, cameras, Purell and hand wipes, we headed out from our home before dawn.

Our reservation for breakfast at American Girl was at 9:30 AM, so an early express, double-decker train arrived at our favorite train station and whisked us all off to NYC. In just over an hour, we arrived at Penn Station in NYC. Our wide-eyed niece and nephew were taking it all in as the escalator brought us up from underground to the main floor of the bustling train station under Madison Square Garden. They were just as excited for their first cab ride as they were to reach our respective gender-pleasing destinations.

Smiles, wonder and laughter filled our day. All four children were so well behaved and considerate of each other. The boys were genuinely patient while the girls lingered long at the American Girl store after breakfast. They never complained once and kept themselves content. The girls were equally accommodating as the young gentlemen chose some "boy toys" at Toys R Us. The four cherubs rode the 4-story, indoor Ferris Wheel in Toys R Us, which was a thrill for all of them. We were all enchanted as we stopped at Rockefeller Center to gaze at the ice skaters and watch as the over-sized Christmas tree was being erected. We felt as though we were looking at a perfect picture postcard.

Making our way to Penn Station for our journey home, our tummies were growling. Passing up the plethora of fun and unique restaurants in the city, we opted for a quick and simple meal at one of the food courts in the train station.

Once Jim and I had the children settled with their meals, I made a quick dash for the ladies room at Penn Station, a place I usually try to avoid having to use. As I rounded the corner to the restroom, I quietly gasped as a precious woman, who I imagine looked much older than she really was, sat on the dirty floor of Penn Station just outside of the bathroom. Though this is not an unusual sight in NYC, this particular woman caused me great pause. She was in need of a bath and some clean clothes. Her frail body evidenced her need for some food. Her desperate countenance shown her need for love.

I walked by making eye contact with her and smiling. She smiled back and nodded her head slowly. In my quiet time that morning, I had read a few chapters in James, including 4:17: "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." I knew the good we ought to do. Though limited in my ability to help her in many practical ways since I was far from home, I knew we could at least buy her a meal.

I hurried back to the table and quietly spoke to Jim. Seeing me then go back to the counter to order another complete lunch, the children became curious. I told them that God gave us the blessing and responsibility of giving a seemingly homeless woman a meal, and I invited them to join me on this small divine appointment from the Lord. They jumped up with joy and helped me carry her food.

As we approached the woman, the children stood behind me and intently observed. They watched as I gently went up to her and handed her the meal. "This food is for you. You are loved by Jesus. He wants to be sure you eat today." Her eyes brightened. She reached out to receive her lunch and said, "I was thirsty and hungry. Thank you so much." She looked up at the children and they all exchanged smiles. We told her that God loved her and cared about her. She nodded and began drinking and eating quickly. We quietly walked back to our table. Oh how I wish we could have done more. How I wish she would give her life to Jesus and be transformed. How I wish I could have hugged her. Yet for just that moment, I knew that simple meal is what I "ought to do".

I knew I "ought to do" it for the woman. That was obvious. But I learned later that I "ought to do" it for our niece and nephew, too. I was in jaw-dropping awe of God when their mom left us a message a few days later telling us that the thing the kids remember most from their dream-come-true day in The Big Apple was not the double-decker train rides, nor their first cab ride, not seeing the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, not even getting a doll at American Girl or a new toy at Toys R Us. That all was wonderful and fun, yes. But what did they remember most? What were they talking about most from their day in The Big Apple: Giving the homeless woman a meal. That is how God impressed their heart that day. That was God's beautiful work.

In the midst of The Big Apple was a small, frail and lonely woman. Amidst the bright lights and glamour of Broadway, was a dark and broken creation of God making her "home" on the filthy floor of Penn Station under Madison Square Garden. A dream-come-true day for precious children left a lasting impression of God's earthly presence on their hearts. Those four precious children were His earthly vessels of love and mercy to that woman. They were used by God. That made an impression. May they remember His goodness and His commands every moment of their lives. For His purposes and glory.

Yes, we took a very small bite out of The Big Apple a few Saturdays ago. But more importantly, we shared a bite to eat in The Big Apple with a beautiful but broken woman. Praying God's richest blessings, salvation and provision for her every day.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...'" Matthew 25:34-35

Loretta: please be sure to leave me your contact information.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So That My House Will Be Full

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in,
so that my house will be full.'"
Luke 14:23

Happy Thanksgiving! I pray your hearts and homes are filled today with His love and peace. I pray those who gather around your dinner tables today all know Him personally. And if they do not, that you would share with them His great Gospel invitation to forever dine at the table of the King! "So Mephibosheth [who was crippled in both feet] ate at David's table like one of the king's sons." 2 Samuel 9:11

If you have found your way here from my devotion published today at Proverbs 31 Ministry (click here), thank you for stopping by. We open our door wide and say "Welcome!" I pray you are refreshed here. "...refresh my heart in Christ." Philemon 1:20

Today's devotion, "The Guest List", is a practical application of "godly guest list etiquette" from Luke 14:13-14 that the Lord put on my heart several years ago. Just as the Master invites us (the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind) to dine at the King's table of eternal life, we can extend His love to others (who are poor, crippled, lame or blind) through the blessing of receiving an invitation. Ministering to His "least of these" by opening the door to your heart and home honors Him. "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

Your invitation and hospitality can soften hurt and hardened hearts to hear and receive the Gospel of God's love. God does not want any to perish. He desires that His house may be full. As you invite unsuspecting guests to be your guests of honor, be sure to share the Gospel of Christ with them as the main course. May they be seated and feast at the King's table forever! "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love him?" James 2:5

Sharing your heart, hospitality and home is a wonderful way of splashing others in God's gracious love. For a little fun here on Thanksgiving, I'd like to give the gift of Karen Ehman's book "A Life That Says Welcome" to one visitor who leaves a comment! What do you do on Thanksgiving? What's your favorite part of the meal? Who are you looking forward to seeing most? Have you invited any "guests of honor" to join your gathering? Answer one of these questions in your comment (be sure to include e-mail or contact information if it is not in your blogger profile). The recipient of the gift will be announced in a few days!

Do you feel crippled or lame today? The King is inviting you to come and dine with Him. He will renew, restore and refresh you. Open wide the door to your heart and receive His invitation. "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:25

"Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." Luke 14:15

"This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:2

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'" John 7:37-38

"At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So He replied to the messengers, 'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'"
Luke 7:21-22

Favoritism Forbidden
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:1-5

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Door Might Be Locked, But Jesus Is Coming In!

"Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'" John 20:26

The door was locked, but the bread baker opened it for me to come in and purchase some bread for special guests. In turn, I shared the Lord with Him, and our family is praying that he opens the door of his heart and welcomes in Jesus, the Bread of Life. (If you haven't read the post about this pre-dawn God appointment and would like to, click here: "Bread of Life - Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Style!")

Two Thursdays ago, our cherubs and I returned to the bread shop to give the baker some gifts: The "Love and Respect" book and workbook for he and his wife from Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs, and a "Jesus Calling" devotional by Sarah Young for his wife from me. I have never met his wife and didn't know her name until I dropped off the gift for her, but I sense that she has been praying for her husband to turn his heart to the Lord. We were humbly blessed when the Lord put it on our hearts to give these gifts founded in Truth. We have the humble privilege of watering the seeds already planted. The door of the baker's heart might be locked, but Jesus is knocking and He wants to come in! And look what was the first thing the Lord gave when He went through that locked door: PEACE!

This year, I have felt an urgency in my heart to pray for family and friends who don't know the Lord or who are not abiding in Him. I have asked the Lord that, even if the doors of their hearts are locked, He will knock loudly and unceasingly and that they will open wide. I am fervently asking the Lord for their salvation. I have prayed for others to come into their lives and share the Gospel with them, too. Jim and I have shared it for years, yet I sense the Lord will use others to water and bring forth His harvest. I am so thankful for the others He will use. I am praying He surrounds those for whom we are praying with saints who speak His truth in love.

What a sweet, sweet blessing it was for me to bring the baker these gifts. God gave us the privilege of watering seeds in the baker's life, just as I am praying for Him to have others water seeds we have planted for years in the lives of those whom we love. May they open wide the doors of their hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of salvation. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Romans 1:16

He is our hope. The doors may be locked, but Jesus can still come in! This has been my prayer this year. And here, just as God often does, He gave me a real-life illustration (through the bread baker) of how He is opening locked doors! May it be so!

I'll keep you up-to-date on the baker and his wife. Please be praying for unsaved family and friends.

And to my friend, Gina, who I didn't even know reads this blog, thank you for the war veteran ministry information you sent me in the mail to give to the baker. We are going back to the bread store this week and will give him your gift! Thank you for responding to God's nudge on your heart and for reaching out in His love to the baker! God is using you to water and encourage! You blessed my heart, friend.

"But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out." Acts 5:19

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Husband Is My Brother In Christ First

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers...Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 9-10

One thing the Lord impressed upon my heart early in our marriage was to always remember that my husband was and is my brother in Christ first. Jim and I are God's children first. God then brought us together beautifully as husband and wife.

This true perspective of our relationships with God and each other brings an immediate reverence for God and for my husband. If I look at him only as "my husband", I can become entitled and self-righteous. Tapping my toe with hands on hips, I could begin to make selfish demands, spoken and unspoken. This is damaging. I genuinely love and respect my husband deeply, yet my sin nature can be destructive if my heart is not yielded to the Holy Spirit. I want to be the wise woman who builds her house, not the foolish one who tears it down with her own hands. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." (Proverbs 14:1 NIV)

To read the rest of this post, please go to:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bread of Life - Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Style!

"When He was at the table with them, He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they could recognize Him...Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread."
Luke 24:30-31

Jim and I were humbly blessed to serve the Lord together in many ways this past weekend at the Love and Respect Conference at our church. One of the ways we were invited to serve was to host and hostess the "Green Room" for the speakers and their ministry partners with whom they travel. While Jim and I would have been quite content serving behind the scenes where truly only God sees, we were humbly blessed to serve the Lord by serving Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs and their precious "peeps". Making their "Green Room" a quiet and refreshing sanctuary for them before, after and in between sessions was lots of fun and a sweet privilege.

On Saturday morning, I was leaving my house at 6 AM and wanted to stop at the local specialty bread shop. Their seasonal "Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread" was a perfect selection to complement the Green Room nosh on an autumnal morning. As I pulled out of my driveway, I prayed, "Lord, I'd really love to pick up some of the Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread for our guests in the Green Room. I don't know if the bread shop is open at 6 AM, Lord, but You are the way maker. Please make a way for me this morning. Thank you, Lord."

As I pulled up to the bread shop, all the inside lights were on and I could see the bakers working. The sign on the door indicated that the shop opened at 7 AM. It was only a few minutes after 6 AM. Ugh. What to do?

I bashfully, but hopefully, got out of my car and walked up to the door. Knock Knock Knock. The bakers looked up and read my smile, which said to them, "Can you please open the door for me?" Because I frequent the shop with my cherubs, the bakers chuckled at my familiar face and said, "Are you serious?" I nodded.

One of the bakers came over and graciously unlocked the door. Here is our conversation:
Baker: [Laughing in a friendly way.] You want to buy bread at 6 in the morning?

Me: Yes, I do. Thank you so much for opening the door for me. We have some special guests speaking at our church this weekend, and I'd love to have some of the Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread for them.
Baker: Sure. Come on in. How many loaves would you like?

Me: Two please. [Paused and prayed for God to bless this baker. Then this is what God put on my heart.] I want you to know that you are an answer to prayer this morning.

Baker: I am? Really? answer to prayer?

Me: Yes. I prayed that God would make a way for me to get some of this bread for our guests. You were the way. You are my answer to prayer today. You opened the door and welcomed me in.

Baker: [He looked sincerely moved by this, but his words reflected his wounded soul.] Look, my wife believes in God and she takes our children to Bible classes. But me, I don't pray. I am a recent war veteran. I have seen lots of ugly in this world, and...I don't know....but my way of seeing things is different than my wife's and different than yours. Being in a war...that really changed my way of seeing things.

Me: [with a lump in my throat] I am so sorry for all the ugly you have seen through war. Thank you so much for serving our country. I can understand how you would feel the way you do. But you need to know that God loves you, and His heart is grieved over the same ugly sin you have seen. Ugly is not of God. The truth is God loves you, and God even used you today to answer a prayer. [I could see his heart softening a bit.]

Baker: Thanks, lady.
He packed up my baked goods, and we exchanged pleasantries before I went on my way. But I knew this pre-dawn encounter wasn't over. This was a God appointment. While the baker didn't come out and say he didn't believe in God, it was clear that he was very disappointed in God. The ugly he has seen in this world has damaged his view of the true and living God.

After arriving at church and re-setting the Green Room for Saturday morning, one of the Eggerichs' truly precious "peeps", Joanne, came in and said, "This bread is delicious!" I shared with her the bread story and about the baker. I also shared that as I was driving away from the bread shop, God put it on my heart (and hubby said "absolutely") to get the baker a "Love and Respect" book for him and his wife. Joanne asked me if I would share the bread story with Sarah. I happily agreed.

A bit later, I saw Sarah and right away, without me even saying anything, she said, "Joanne told me the bread story! We want to give the baker our DVD teaching set!" Wow! God had touched Sarah's heart for the baker, too. I could tell she was excited to lavish God's love on the baker through the DVD set of THEIR ENTIRE CONFERENCE! Oh I wanted to jump up and down and do a happy dance! I love when God works in tandem!

God is reaching out to this baker and his family. God is sending His personal, intimate love to them! My 6 AM visit to the bread shop had more to do with reaching and satisfying a wounded soul than filling sweet bellies. I love God's serendipitous blessings of allowing us to be His vessels. Isn't that just His way?

Please pray for our baker friend. We will be bringing him these gifts of God's love, hope and truth this week. God's hope does not disappoint. Please pray for God's mighty work in the hearts of him, his wife and his children. We are excited to see what God has planned! Just as the baker opened the door for me to purchase some bread, I pray he opens wide the door of his heart to Jesus, the Bread of Life. Just as God used the baker as my way that morning to buy some bread before hours, may the baker accept The Way into his heart before time is up.

Something tells me God is going to multiply the blessings of the Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread! We will keep you posted! Oh, and always remember to tell someone when they are an answer to prayer!

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."
Romans 5:5

Friday, November 6, 2009

Love and Respect

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33

Two simple words. Two profound commands. Husbands, LOVE your wives. Wives, RESPECT your husbands. (And did you notice the word "must" in there each time?)

Today and tomorrow at my home church, we are hosting the live Love and Respect Marriage Conference with Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs. (I love God's timing and His always perfect attention to detail...the first "Marriage Matters" post is today...the same day as the Love and Respect Conference that has been in the works for over a year!) Emerson and Sarah teach in-depth how these two nuggets of Truth can transform a marriage....(to continue reading this post, please click here: "Titus 2 In Action"

"Marriage should be honored by all..."
Hebrews 13:4

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Steeped in God's Word

"I delight in Your decrees;
I will not neglect Your Word."
Psalm 119:16
"Steeped in God's Word". One of our pastors said this recently when teaching about Daniel. Daniel was steeped in God's Word. And Daniel's life was marked by obedience to God because of his love and reverence for God and His Word. Wow!
This is my prayer. I want to be steeped in God's Word. Loving God's Word, I want to steep myself in it daily.
Look at the definition of "steep" from
steep–verb (used with object)
1. to soak in water or other liquid, as to soften, cleanse, or extract some constituent: to steep tea in boiling-hot water; to steep reeds for basket weaving.
2. to wet thoroughly in or with a liquid; drench; saturate; imbue. immerse in or saturate or imbue with some pervading or absorbing influence or agency
I want to soak, drench, saturate and immerse myself in God's Word. I want to soften and cleanse my heart by washing myself with God's Word. I want to extract His love, truth and wisdom and plant it forever in my heart. Dear Lord, steep my heart in Your word!
Today's devotion in "Experiencing God Day by Day" devotional by the Blackaby brothers said this:
"Through the ages, the wisdom found in God's Word has been tested and proven true. It is critical that you measure everything you hear against the Scriptures. Trends...come and go, but God's Word is timeless. Whenever you share an opinion...make sure that is comes from the Scripture and not merely from your best thinking. As long as you base your life choices on the Word of God, time will be your defender and will validate the wisdom of your choices. If, over time, you clearly see you are wrong, ask God's forgiveness and seek a fresh word from God through the Scripture. Then obey that word and watch to see God confirm His wisdom in your life."
Will you join me in this bottomless tea cup of God's truth? Let's steep ourselves in God's Word!
One of the ways I have been steeping myself in His Word is by reading the NIV One-Year Chronological Bible in 2009. What a blessing to take in God's entire Word in one year. My friend, Wendy Pope, is reading through again in 2010. If you'd like to join her and hundreds of others, please visit Wendy at: Read Through The Word!
"Save me, for I am Yours; I have sought out Your precepts."
Psalm 119:94

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Psalm 119:54-56 - Mine!

"Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I remember Your name in the night, O LORD, And I keep Your law. This has become mine, because I kept Your precepts." Psalm 119:54-56 NKVJ
In slowly going through Psalm 119 with the cherubs for morning devotions, so many "treasure verses" pop out! Verses 54-56 above just blessed my heart so much a few weeks ago. My prayer is that it soaks into our cherubs' hearts and that this blesses you today, too!
His statutes are my song. I remember His Name and, by His grace and strength, keep His word. This has become mine BECAUSE I KEEP HIS PRECEPTS. Yielding our hearts to His will. Obeying His word because we love and revere His name.
This just literally delights my soul! This has become MINE! Normally, we are teaching our children not to selfishly say "Mine!" But I pray they make His Word theirs, that His statutes are their song on the pilgrimage here, that they remember His name day and night, that they keep and obey His commands, and that His word and all these blessings of obeying His word become theirs! I want to them to say about God's Word "MINE! MINE! MINE!" Simply because they are HIS HIS HIS!
May the blessings of loving and keeping His word be YOURS as well!
To dig deeper into this Treasure Verse, click here: Blue Letter Bible

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What Matters Most

"...train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
1 Timothy 4:7-8

Joshua's team has one more football game left this season. We are very proud of Joshua for how well he has done his first (long-awaited) year of playing tackle football. All of the players have done very well. They'd like to have a few more wins in the records books, but they have shown a lot of strength and growth.

Earlier this week, the team received an e-mail from the head coach. It's just the type of e-mail a parent, especially a praying parent, wants to receive. We are thankful to the Lord for faithfully guiding us to the exact team He wanted our family to be part of this year. We are so thankful for the work He is doing in Joshua's heart through football. Training in godliness: that was our greatest prayer. Here's the e-mail:
"We had a challenging loss yesterday. While our record is disappointing, I believe it is important to focus on and reinforce to our young players, the many positives that are more meaningful in the long run.

+We have a terrific group of boys on our team that work very hard all game long and conduct themselves with great sportsmanship.
+They are becoming better football players each week.
+They treat each other with respect. I have not seen any players blaming each other or pointing out errors. That is the spirit of team that we will continue to reinforce.
+We have seen incredible improvement from our many first year players as well as returning players.
+They are staying positive and having fun.
+We only had three substitutes yesterday so each and every player was tired but continued to fight against a team that was bigger, stronger and has been together since the 70 pound level - three to four seasons.

Our boys play with pride and sportsmanship and act like quality young men which we will continue to celebrate and reinforce. We have two more games, two more opportunities to fight hard, and two more opportunities to win. More importantly, we have the opportunity to continue to teach football and life skills.

This e-mail brought tears of thankfulness to my eyes. We are so thankful Joshua is able to be part of a team with excellent coaches and wonderful young men. (And the best "Team Medic" -- Daddy!)
As I have said before, I am not much of a competitor, so winning doesn't mean much to me personally. But this cheering mom would love Joshua and his teammates to be encouraged by a win on the scoreboard. Perhaps next week's last game. But win or lose on the scoreboard, I know our son and his teammates are winning where it matters most: in strength of character and as friends.
Go Lions!
"So we make it our goal to please Him..."
2 Corinthians 5:9