So you think you’re a failure?

Did you know that the Dyson vacuum cleaner is named for Sir James Dyson? Dyson was frustrated with the Hoover vacuum he owned because it would lose suction. He came up with the idea of cyclonic separation to create the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner in a universe filled with replacement, disposable sweeper bags. Dyson experienced 5,126 failures before he mastered the concept, but then met even more resistance in the UK because no one wanted to step out and be different with a vacuum that didn’t require you to purchase paper bags for the rest of your life. Give up? Never. This entrepreneur went to Japan with a hot pink Dyson and it won awards and eventually a U.S. patent. But even this wasn’t enough for manufacturers, so he was forced to form his own company to get the Dyson on the market. Today?  The Dyson bagless vacuum is worth more than £3 billion! The Apostle Peter was also doubting himself over a few bad days. He witnessed Jesus being led away to be crucified. He denied him. Three times. Try to put yourself in Peter’s place. Impetuous Peter. Insert-foot-in-mouth-before-thinking-Peter.  Walk-on-the-water-and-sink-Peter. (Hey, he did get out of the boat!) He might be you. He is me. But he didn’t walk away. He didn’t quit. He didn’t leave the disciples, but instead obeyed what Jesus had told them to do: go and wait in the Upper Room and He would send the Comforter. Peter was there when the power fell at Pentecost! He witnessed the 120 being filled with the Holy Ghost, that power from on high. He then...

When God sends people.

God sends people. Yes, He does. Years ago, during a particularly trying time in my life, I was desperate for answers. I had been praying and asking God for a miracle, or at least for clear direction. I imagined letters falling from heaven and lightning bolts to come out of the sky in answer to my prayer. But it didn’t happen. God answered the prayer in an unexpected way. He sent a person. He sent a friend in this instance. This friend drove from another state, several hours, just to BE with all of us. She didn’t even have the answers; God had not given her specific direction but to GO. So she did just that. She stayed until God said to go back home and all was well. God knew what we needed at that time; we needed Him and He came through our friend. Look at the story of Moses in the Book of Exodus 18:13-27. Moses was spending from sun-up to sun-down weighing the problems of the people. It didn’t matter how trivial or how important it was, they waited in line to talk to Moses, the man of God. Moses was worn out, physically, mentally and spiritually! Who wouldn’t be? We don’t have proof that Moses even asked God for help but Jehovah-Jireh knew something had to be done. He sent Jethro. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law and although he was just there to visit, he was watching what was taking place every day and he could easily see Moses was stretched too thin. His answer? H suggested wisely that Moses appoint leaders over 1,000, over...

When You Just Need to be Comforted

“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:18-19.   Your comforts delight my soul. Doesn’t that phrase alone just cover you like a blanket? When the anxieties of this life pile up and overwhelm us and our foot slips, the Lord will hold us up. His comforts will delight our very soul. The commentaries explain the word thoughts here to mean branches of trees, thick and entwined. Our lives are busy, complicated and sometimes distressing. Our thoughts run through our brains like thick branches all twisted together. God brings us comfort in so many ways. He relieves us of those anxieties, fears and uncertainties with His loving comfort, in an instant, if we will allow Him. The Comfort of His Presence: “Honor and majesty are (found) in His presence; strength and joy are (found) in His sanctuary.” 1 Chronicles 16:27 AMP. “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5. The Comfort of His Love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3, NIV. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV. The Comfort of His Security:...

Laying Down Our Stuff

Have you heard the story of the Rich Young Ruler? It’s not the newest reality show this season, so don’t get excited. This was a parable that Jesus told a crowd gathered around Him, and it goes like this: “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 NKJV. Do you see what I see here? My barns, my crops, my goods… He had it all figured out for himself. He had so much, too much; he just kept piling up more STUFF, and more STUFF, and even more STUFF! He wasn’t concerned about anything or anyone around him: he was totally independent. But God said he was a fool: that he couldn’t take all of his stuff with him. Who was going to get it when he died? The New Living Translation says, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Relationship is the key....

When Supposing Can Get You INTO Trouble!

“And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’” Acts 16:27, 28 Paul and Silas were two apostles called by Jesus to spread the Gospel, but along the way they got into a bit of trouble and were arrested. The Romans were pretty upset that these Jews were ruffling feathers by preaching in the Name of Jesus, and not observing the customs of the Romans. Particularly, they had just cast a demon spirit out of a slave girl who had the power of divination, or fortune telling. She had been following Paul and Silas for days, continually bothering and mocking them and, being weary of it, they finally told the spirit to come out of her. This made those that owned her very upset because they no longer had an income. So they took hold of the two apostles and put them into prison, made sure they were beaten with rods many times and then securely put their feet in stocks. Now the cool thing about this story is the escape. Paul and Silas were not planning one! But they were praying, maybe for their safety, maybe because they were in pain, maybe just because they couldn’t sleep. Whatever the reason, the Bible says the other prisoners were listening to them when they prayed. It doesn’t just say they heard them, it says they were listening to them! They were intrigued by the...

Although the doors were locked

Back in the fall, I bought my son a gift card to one of those escape places. Have you heard of them? They lock you in a room, sometimes in total darkness, and you play out a scenario where you must figure a way out. For instance, one of the most difficult ones from which to escape is the KGB Interrogation. The website describes it like this: The year is 1964 and the height of the Cold War. You and your team are American spies and have been placed in the Soviet Union to retrieve a sample of a mind-altering drug that causes long-term amnesia. Once injected, the drug renders the subject susceptible to mind reprogramming. Oh no! Your cover is blown and you have been arrested and taken to KGB headquarters in Moscow. You have only 60 minutes to find the drug and get out before you are interrogated, tortured or, worst of all, transformed into a Soviet agent! Most escape rooms have about a 50% success rate. This one has only a 5% success rate of getting out!! Yikes! Naturally, when your time has ended they will come and let you out of the room. Game over. You-are-not-007. You lose. Kristopher took three friends with him for his caper and they were able to escape but not until almost the very last minute. It’s quite challenging and I am sure it was fun. But not for me. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am extremely claustrophobic. Extremely. I’m not much of a fan of locked doors. Or closed in spaces. Or anything that says, “You...

Have you lost your voice?

Have you ever heard the phrase “Children are to be seen and not heard?” I always thought that was kind of sad. Even when My Three Sons were little, it was certainly a difficult task to tell them that they could be with us when we were entertaining guests but they could not be heard. John the Baptist started out that same way. He had a crazy way with fashion: he wore camel hair for clothing, lived in the desert and ate locusts and wild honey for nourishment. He preached a strange message about someone coming after him whose shoes he wouldn’t even be worthy to unloose. He was pointing the way to Jesus Christ; he was that voice crying in the wilderness. “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John …” Luke 7:28. His voice still echoes today! The parents of Jesus found their son speaking when they thought he should not even be in the company of adults; He was just a young boy. The Passover was the feast celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish year (our March or April). Jerusalem was 80 miles from Nazareth, where Jesus and his parents were living at the time, and the journey would take three days of travel. After the seven days of celebration, the caravan began the journey back home. That evening they discovered that Jesus was missing; they had assumed he was with other family or friends. They started back toward Jerusalem searching for Jesus and it was three days later that they finally found Him in the temple, listening...

Two sisters, one bicycle and Jesus

Sisters do everything together. I only had one sister but we shared everything, whether we wanted to or not. We shared clothes, secrets and Barbies. We even shared a room until I was 18 years old. We would get mad at each other, yell, scream, accuse, pinch and pull hair. All sisters do, right? One day we decided to go on a bike ride close to home. If my memory serves me right, it was the first and last time that I jumped on the handlebars of any bike. Rhea, my sister two years senior, assured me she could handle it so off we went. Everything was fine on the way to our friend’s house but on the way back down the gravel road she lost control. The only thing I remember is the bicycle shaking violently and both of us winding up in the ditch. I am sure there were tears and terror since we were both skinned up pretty badly. I must have twisted my ankle because I couldn’t stand up and we were wondering how we would get the bike, and each other, back home. Then he showed up. Towering over us and speaking with a gentle voice, he scooped me up in his strong arms and carried me out of the ditch. But he didn’t stop there; this hero carried me all the way home. My best friend in the entire world lived right across the street from our accident and her father, Fred, had seen us flip the bicycle. He came running and saw that there was no way I could walk so he picked...

Making ROOM for a King

Today, we are pondering the birth of the Savior. We have heard it most of our lives: Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem because it was decreed by Caesar, but when they arrived, there was no room for them in the inn, so Mary delivered her firstborn son in a stable filled with animals, basically, the barn. Or did she? The picture I have had most of my life is of the two of them standing at an ancient bed and breakfast and a kindly elder gentlemen shaking his head telling them he was sorry he could not accommodate them. Everything was full because of the census. Even though Mary was “with child” they still could not find a place to stay, but this innkeeper did offer his stable and a clean bed of hay where she could give birth. Yikes! But a little deeper look at the Greek wording might give us some insight and a better understanding of that holy night. The Greek term translated inn (kataluma) had more than one meaning. It could be a small inn, or a group of people traveling together, a caravansary. This word is used only one other time in the New Testament… “And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.” Luke 22:11. This is the place where Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples! What kind of room does Luke say this was? “A large furnished upper room…” ...

Be the one

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.” Luke 17:15 NIV. There is a wonderful little true story in the Book of Luke where Jesus heals ten men afflicted with leprosy. “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.” Matthew Henry explains in his commentary that leprosy was still thought of as a disease inflicted upon a person as punishment for a particular sin. The lepers surely knew this but were waiting at the entrance to the village to meet Jesus. They immediately cried out for mercy and Jesus responded, not by telling them they were healed, but for them to go and show themselves to the priests. This was still tradition and the priests would have to declare them whole and clean if they were to be accepted among the population again. All ten of them headed off to find the priests! They didn’t question, or if they did we are not made aware of the fact. They went in obedience and the Bible says that as they went, they were cleansed. But it is the next part that causes me to examine my thankfulness. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked...