Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

Gone Phishing


Today, you have logged onto your computer internet and ventured into the World Wide Web. That being the case, you obviously know a little something about cyberspace. There, in that vast metropolis of strangers, lurks the malicious practice of phishing.

If you’re not familiar with that term, phishing is the deceitful practice of cyber criminals, whereby the culprit hijacks your webpage with a pretty convincing look-alike page of their own. The purpose of this deception is to trick you into providing sensitive information that they can steal, such as passwords and credit card information. Once obtained, the cyber criminal can use this information to steal your identity.

Jesus told his disciples that they would be fishers of men, but there were phishers following in their footsteps also. Of course, there were no credit cards or internet in the first century, but there certainly were evil men who tried to rob every gullible believer of their identity in Christ.

Take the Galatians, for example. Paul exhorted, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth…” He also warned the Roman believers against faith phishers (Romans 16:17-18); as did Jesus himself, on many occasions.

Dear reader, may we exert the same diligence as the Bereans, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day…” (Acts 17:11). By so doing, we will safeguard our faith, never falling into a web of deception, nor becoming ensnared by those who have gone phishing.

Frozen Lasagna


Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but frozen lasagna generally cooks better when the oven is turned on. I was reminded of this just last week when my growling tummy urged me into the kitchen to partake of what should have been a bubbly, cheesy delight, only to find a rock-solid block of disappointment instead.

Heat is not always a bad thing!

Truthfully, I would do well to remember that this summer, as I begin to complain at the high temps, and grumble that I don’t do heat (or mornings). Better yet, I would do well to remember the benefits of heat when I am in the midst of spiritual battles -and spiritual growth –both of which often go hand-in-hand.

The apostle Peter acknowledges that our trials are fiery: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12)

Furthermore, James encourages us to embrace our trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

I repeat, heat is not always a bad thing!

Dear reader, may we all persevere through all of life’s battles, no matter how difficult they may be, knowing full-well that the heat of adversity is the element which refines us, and defines us; preparing us to be individuals who are pleasing to the Lord.

Those fiery trials, which we all know so well, only serve to ensure that when at last we stand before our Lord face-to-face, we will be ‘on fire’  –never  a cold,  rock-solid block of disappointment!

Beautiful Prayer of an Aged Woman

praying nun

Have you ever taken a few moments to examine your own life and said, “Lord, the older I get the more (fill in the blank) I become, and I don’t like it one bit!” Well, I sure have. And I must not be the only one. A few years ago I came upon a beautiful prayer written by a seventeenth-century nun whose identity is unknown. I find the prayer to be so inspiring I wanted to share it with you. If it touches your heart in any way, we can both praise God for the heartfelt words of an anonymous nun.

Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from getting talkative, particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind from the recital of endless details- give me wings to come to the point.

I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains. Seal my lips on my own aches and pains -they are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. Help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint- some of them are so hard to live with- but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

*This Prayer of an Aging Woman was taken from Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, & Quotes. Morgan, Robert J.Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, Tennessee. 2000

Time to Book It


When is the last time you heard someone say that it was time to “book it”? For those of you who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it means that the person speaking it needs to leave; usually in a hurry. Perhaps we don’t hear this phrase very much anymore because our fast-paced society has become so hurried that ‘booking it’ is pretty much implied.

I still like to ‘book it’ every chance I get, but not in the same way. When I tell my family that I am going to “book it,” they know that I’m headed to the library to load-up on books.

My love of reading started when I was very young, and thankfully, my children have inherited that same bookworm gene. In fact, there are many evenings when the only sound in our home is the sound of turning pages. I must admit, as a parent this brings me great joy.

I know of another parent who surely feels the same way; our Heavenly Father. I believe it pleases Him greatly when His children shut-out all the distractions of this world and immerse themselves in His Word; like the Bereans, for example, “…. in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [which the apostles taught] were so.” (Acts 17:11)

Personally, I long to be a Berean. After all, 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us all: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Although, truth be told, I’m not always as disciplined as I should be, and sometimes let the demands of life keep me from studying the Bible as much as I would like.

Can anyone relate? I know how overwhelming life can sometimes be, and how very hectic. Perhaps, though, (and I’m preaching to myself), those are the best times to pull out our Bibles and ‘book it’ like a Berean.

It’s True, I’m an Alien

pass through

I remember well, gazing into the heavens when I was a teenager, asking no one in particular, “Why did you leave me here?” At that time, I didn’t even know if there really was a God or not, so I wasn’t necessarily addressing Him. Besides, for all I knew, ‘God’ could very well have been one of those outer-space aliens that my parents assured me were very real. Nonetheless, there were two things I was certain of. First, I lived in a very hostile world. Second, I didn’t feel I belonged there. Deep inside, I felt that my home was somewhere far, far away; and I longed to return there.

Imagine my surprise when, several years later, I learned the truth –I am indeed an alien, and this world is not really my home. No, I don’t believe in little green men from mars; that’s not the kind of alien I am. The dictionary defines an alien, amongst other things, as a resident belonging to another country, or a person who has been estranged or excluded. (Peter calls his fellow believers aliens and strangers –2:11).

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of the Most High, I am an alien on both counts. John spoke of this when he wrote, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world… therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19).”

Nevertheless, there are two things I am certain of. First this world is a hostile place. And second, this world is not our home; we are merely passing through, touching as many lives as possible while we’re here.

Dear reader, you know as well as I, that we will face much pain and heartache in this world, as we interact with those who despise us. In light of eternity, however, it really doesn’t matter; for our citizenship is in heaven ( Philippians 3:20) and one day soon we will be reunited with our King.

It’s true, I’m an alien.  I truly  hope you are as well.

Normal People Worry Me

Adorning my refrigerator is a rather large magnet that reads: Normal People Worry Me! I’ve told my closest friends they have no cause for concern, though, because there’s hardly a normal one in the bunch. Still, despite the lighthearted jest, I do believe that being abnormal is, in today’s world, a good thing, because the LORD doesn’t care for “normal” either.

How can we know this?  Obviously, the LORD doesn’t rely on magnets to make His thoughts known, but He has certainly given us His word, wherein, He speaks of His children thus:

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself… (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14).

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… (Exodus 19:5).

The word peculiar, in both Hebrew and Greek, has the same meaning; something that is uncommon, set-apart and very valuable. Quite the opposite, normal denotes that which is common or ordinary.  Hence, when looking back on my adolescent years, I find it humorous how often I then  lamented that, “I just want to be normal.”

Presently, normal is the last thing I want to be.  Which brings me back to the aforementioned magnet; whenever I see that humorous little phrase, “Normal People Worry Me,”  I sometimes take a moment to ask myself if my witness, as a believer, is commonplace and ordinary. After all, each of our lives, like a refrigerator magnet, clearly displays a message.

Dear reader,what message does your life display? Is it “peculiar” enough that people take notice of the LORD, whose ambassador you are. Or, is your life so normal, your Christian witness so common, that the world simply overlooks it?

It’s your choice, you can either blend into the world effortlessly, or you can choose to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (I Peter 2:9).

Another Voice

This morning I awoke to the cheerful sound of a puppy barking. Pleasant as this was, I don’t have a puppy. I do, however, have a vivacious cockatiel that loves to entertain. Boaz has a whole repertoire of songs he likes to whistle, and sounds he likes to mimic.

Admittedly, there have been times that I have mistaken some of Boaz’s sounds for others, especially his imitation of the oven timer, which he has skillfully mastered. However, being bamboozled by a feathery friend is a far cry different than being deceived by an enemy. I would like to say that has never happened to me, but sadly, it has happened far too often.

This afternoon, I was reflecting on the ease by which a person can be deceived, when the following scripture came to mind:

And when he [Jesus] putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.   And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:4,5).

The truth is, dear reader, that today’s culture tends to bombard each of us with all kinds of “voices” –voices which beckon us to turn this way or that; to do something, buy something, accept something. While most demand simple life decisions, all too many of those “voices” serve only to distract, or confuse us in our faith, if we aren’t careful. Sadly, in our present culture, what used to be black and white has slowly turned into varying shades of gray, and that which used to be absolute has become ambiguous, even in the church.

So how do we know where to draw the line? How can we, as Christians, be “culturally relevant” without weakening the foundations of our faith? It’s quite simple, really. As one of Christ’s sheep, we will know His voice. And if we purpose to listen to His voice daily, we won’t be duped into following another, nor will we be easily deceived by the adversary of our souls. I don’t know about you, but this brings me great comfort!

My Reality Check Bounced

“My reality check bounced,” lamented one frustrated soul. Who amongst us has not experienced that sentiment on occasion? I remember too well the first time my bank of faith was severely overdrawn: I stood angry, throwing a tantrum,  a new-born believer accusing God, as though that were really possible, invisible fists waving, tears streaming.

You promised thus and such, I reminded Him. Yet every time I take a few steps toward you, I complained further, you kick the ladder out from underneath me.

Dear reader, if you know me personally, or read my blogs regularly, you might think this sounds nothing like me, and you would be correct. But this event happened many years ago when I was still wearing spiritual diapers, immature, not realizing that it was time to take baby steps into those trials that would serve to increase my faith and build character.

If only I had internalized Psalm 9:10 before my world fell apart, Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you, I may have behaved less like a spoiled child and fought the good fight. In those early days, however, I didn’t know how to hang on to my faith in a Job-like situation and so I grumbled and wailed.

Have you ever been there, friend? Are you there now? Perhaps you are presently going through a battle and feel, as I did those many years ago, that God has deserted you in your time of need. If so may I say, in love, that your reality check has bounced. GOD has said He will never leave us nor forsake us. And we know that He will cause all things, even our trials and sufferings, to work for our good. (Romans 8:28).

And you can take that to the bank!

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid (of them): for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Deuteronomy 31:6).

The Lord replied, “My precious child, precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering
when you saw only one set of footprints…
It was then that I carried you.

Footprints in the Sand — Leona Lewis (click here to listen)

Spring Into Action

“I don’t like to play in the dirt,” a friend recently told me. Obviously, she doesn’t share my enthusiasm for gardening. While I certainly respect her position, I’m a country girl at heart, and take my grandmother’s words seriously that, “A little dirt never hurt anyone.” Now that it’s spring, I get to do a lot of ‘playing’ and I’m quite pleased about that.

In fact, I find the feel of rich, dark soil in my hands to be rather therapeutic. There is just something incredibly wonderful in knowing that vigorous new life will soon spring forth from it, and I will have had a hand in that. What’s more, I never cease to be amazed at the miracle of life –even the life of a tiny new plant.

Whenever I see a teeny seedling that has broken through the ground, I can’t help but marvel at how it assumes a posture of praise -tiny new leaves stretched heavenward towards the light. Then, all the time and effort I previously spent preparing the soil, and tending to the seed, is forgotten in the same way a mother’s labor pains vanish at the very moment she sees her newborn chid’s face.

I can’t help but think that our Heavenly Father feels much the same way each time a soul climbs out of this world’s dirt and reaches for His light. Dear reader, our Heavenly Father does not need us to help tend His garden, yet He has given us the privilege of doing so until He gathers His harvest. God’s children all have a hand in planting the Gospel seed, and watering it, until vigorous life springs forth (I Corinthians 3:5-9).

Finally, brethren, let us not neglect to pray. If we are to see a harvest for God’s kindgom, this is the most important part of our labor. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “Adam was a gardener, and God, who made him, sees that half of all gardening is done upon the knees.”

The Key to Peace

It wasn’t until the toilet was flushing that I realized my car keys had fallen in. Normally, something like that would have really frustrated me, but I managed to laugh at my mishap instead. Then again, I knew that I could call my husband, and he would bring a spare set; which he did.

I hated to inconvenience him after a long day’s work, but at the same time, I was quite thankful to have someone watching out for me –someone to come to my rescue when I need it. Actually, this is not the first time my husband has had to bring me keys –although, flushing them down the toilet was a first.

Later, the LORD brought the following Scripture to my mind, and reminded me of some very important keys: I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

Simply put, God has given kingdom authority to those in His family. Are you in His family? If so, you have been given everything you need to live a victorious life.

True, you may run into some obstacles along the way. You may even encounter circumstances that will overwhelm you to the point you lose sight of the right kingdom key to unlock the answer. When this happens, dear reader, you need only call upon the LORD. He is always watching out for His children and He will always come to your rescue.

Although He may rescue you in a dynamic, miraculous way; chances are He will hand you a spare key instead, and let you go about your business. Why? Like any good parent, your Heavenly Father uses every situation to your advantage –to help you learn and mature. Knowing this, you need never feel frustrated when things don’t go your way. You simply need to trust the LORD –that is the key to peace.