Friday, December 10, 2010

I was inspired last night by the flying feet of a four-year-old.

The worship practice and final run through for our upcoming Sunday service had just begun when little Tala came through the door with her mother who runs the sound booth. Her usual playmates absent on this particular night, she was forced to entertain herself. And so she danced... and danced... and danced!!! With every song she started moving the moment the music did, head bobbing, arms in motion and feet fairly flying off the floor as she bounced and twirled, letting the joy in her heart come out through her toes!

Distracting? Delightfully so! I could barely concentrate at all, so fascinated was I by her total freedom in expressing what she was feeling! I longed to put my violin down and join her in that dark expanse of empty floor. I told myself that I didn't want to inhibit her in any way, so totally unaware was she in that moment of anyone else in the room. Yet sadly I realized that I carry a lot of weight she has yet to gain, pounds of peer pressure and fear that keep my feet nailed to the floor instead of flying freely as hers did. So I stayed where I was,but my spirit danced along with her and her joy was contagious, reaching not just into the depths of my heart but all the way into the hallways of Heaven where it surely put a smile on the face of the King.

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
(John 4:24 NIV)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Dandy" Don Meredith died Sunday at the age of 82. Many of us became lifelong fans of Monday Night Football in the days when he was a television broadcaster in the booth with Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson or Frank Gifford. We didn't turn our TV sets off on those evenings until his signature rendition of the Willie Nelson tune, The Party's Over, signaled the virtual end of the game. On Sunday the party was over for Don.

But is it really? We are eternal beings, and even as our physical lives on earth end, our spiritual lives continue on in heaven or hell, based on the choices we make while we were here. Frankly, we don't have to wonder where we'll be. Party invitations have already been sent out; God is simply waiting on our RSVP. If we fail to respond, then life hereafter will truly be hell. But for the Christian who is set to leave this world with God in his heart, the real party is only just about to start.

"We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord."
(2 Corinthians 5:8 RSV)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Masks Down

The flustered customer smiled ruefully as she told me that she’d paid for a prescription and then left it behind at the pharmacy. I jokingly asked her if it was a medication for memory loss, and we both laughed. But in the next moment she suddenly dropped her mask and shared the burden behind her plastic smile. Her mother had died two months earlier, and she said she hadn’t had her head on straight since. Her eyes welled with tears, and suddenly mine did the same as we thought of the coming holidays and the difficulty she would face in getting through them with her recent loss weighing down on her so strongly. I touched her shoulder and suddenly she was gone, leaving me feeling that I’d failed to help her in any way. There was no time to pray with her or to tell her about the One who died to mend broken lives. And in retrospect I realized that she wasn’t looking for me to do anything but listen and understand as she shared her pain in a moment of vulnerability.

Sometimes the best way to speak of Jesus’ love is to silently listen with His heart.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…”

(Psalm 34:18 NIV)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coaxed by The Coach

I watched the job "coach" who stood beside the developmentally challenged bagger he was working with the other day at the grocery store as he encouraged him to look ahead at the next order, think about what questions he needed to ask the customer and to picture what items he might sack together before they even reached his hands.

I thought about him again days later as I was training a new cashier at the same locale, standing beside her at the register to help her deal with any problems that might arise and to show her exactly what her employer expected her to do. The trainee quickly mastered all aspects of the position, but I found she was reluctant to ask customers a particular question that people sometimes react to negatively. When my frequent reminders failed to bring about the desired result, I took to asking the question myself, hoping that my example would coax her into the desired action when my words failed to do so.

A week later I was behind the register myself and in my trainee's shoes. Store management had asked us to give each customer the opportunity to donate to a health-related research foundation. I find it difficult to ask people for money, no matter how good the cause, and have really struggled in the past with making myself do so, sometimes just flatly ignoring the order completely. Again this time I was having difficulty when I suddenly pictured Jesus standing beside me in the spirit and encouraging me to obey my supervisor, not just for the sake of my job, but for the sake of the One I say I serve. My obedience to the former is an expression of my love for the latter. Surely that change in perspective should have been enough to likewise change my actions, but still I struggled. But the next time I failed to ask a customer about a donation, I pictured Jesus saying the words for me, much as I had done with my trainee the week before.

Willingly Jesus covers my mistakes and shows me in a positive and tender way how to do what's right and live the life of service and obedience that I was called to. I saw myself in the disciples' shoes when they were slow to learn their lessons on servant hood. Jesus simply took a basin and a towel and showed by His foot-washing example how they were to live.

That did it for me. My actions changed dramatically and I was rewarded by the look of surprise on my boss' face when I handed her a stack of completed donation forms at the end of the day. How grateful I am to the life coach who didn't limit His instructions to just words in His Book, but literally stepped into our world to physically show us the way.

"...obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men..."
(Ephesians 6:5-7 NIV)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One-Third Free

Three American hikers who unwittingly crossed the Iranian border in July of 2009 were arrested and have been held captive ever since. Sarah Shroud, the lone woman in the group, was just recently freed after a ransom was paid for her release. Suspected of espionage, her companions are still being held and are told they will remain in captivity to stand trial for their alleged crimes. Sarah tells reporters that although she is no longer physically imprisoned, she is only 1/3 free, as long as the other 2/3 of her group are still in jail. She now spends her time working passionately to secure their release.

Christ paid the ransom for our release from bondage. As we celebrate our freedom, may we have this woman's compassion for those who are still held captive in their sins, working as diligently to secure their freedom, knowing the judgment they face unless mercy intervenes.

Perhaps we'd try a little harder if we likewise considered ourselves only as free as the ones who hike beside us on our journey through life. If we tied our own liberty to theirs, we wouldn't rest until we all were safely Home.

"...Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]..."
(Isaiah 43:1 AMP)

Monday, October 11, 2010

I took my coffee out on the deck this morning and brushed fallen leaves off the plastic lawn chair I wanted to sit in. For some reason its position didn't seem right to me; whether it was too near the edge of the deck or too close to the grill and other chairs, I'm not sure...I just didn't feel comfortable. So I did a little rearranging to make space for it, and then pulled it a little more to the center of the deck area. I don't think I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I surely acted like it this morning.

Perhaps God was just using the chair to illustrate the state of my spiritual life this morning and to give me some possible remedies for the situation. I feel a little out of sorts with Him today. I had a wonderful time spiritually last week and a great weekend, complete with a wonderful church service yesterday morning and a good evening at home last night. But today I feel strangely out of place, and maybe a little distant, uncomfortably crowded by the duties of the day already pressing in on my spirit.

So I did as God suggested, rearranging things a little bit. I pushed back the to-do list for a little while, and brushed off the worries that had accumulated overnight. And then I pulled myself a little closer in spiritually, much as I would do while sitting around a bonfire on a chilly night - pulling my chair in a little closer to the fire till I felt its warmth once more. I mentally rearranged the events of my day to give me a little extra time with Him.

I'm reminded that each day can be as colorful and vibrant as the changing autumn leaves on the trees, or as dry and dead as the fallen ones on my back deck. What I make of it is largely my choice.

"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you..."
(James 4:8 MKJV)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

God and I play a game on cloudy days.

Sunbeams have always been a method of communication between the two of us, a visible picture of God's love, flowing down from Heaven into my life. Every time I see a sunbeam, I hear a loud "I love you" from God.

And so on overcast days, I look to the sky and see if I can flash the sign language symbol for those three little words out the window and voice the verbal version of the same before I see sunlight streaming through a break in the cloud cover. And then I look to see what He has to say in reply.

I beat Him today! As I pulled onto the highway, an interesting formation in the clouds reminded me that this would be a perfect day for our game. So I quickly expressed my love in the methods described above, beating Him to the punch. And then I watched for His response.

Funny, it didn't come in the clouds this morning. I got to church, parked the car and hurried into the building for worship practice. Truth be told, I forgot that I was even looking for a specific message from God.

But He didn't forget. An hour later I was standing on the front steps of the church, drinking a cup of coffee and welcoming visitors and regular attendees alike. And suddenly I saw it. Right in front of the building, a car stopped at the stop sign on the corner. And there, written on the front passenger window were the three little words, "I love you."

I couldn't believe it! My mouth dropped open and my heart stopped beating for a second or two, I was so surprised! And then I laughed at how bewildered the owner of the vehicle must've been, wondering what on earth he was doing driving down that particular road at 10:20 on a Sunday morning, unwittingly delivering a love letter from God to a believer on the front steps of that church!

You know, I never really beat God at our game. Oh, He lets me have momentary victories like today. But He told me He loved me some 2000 years ago when He sent His Son to die for me. I'll simply never catch up in the love department, and that's okay. While I'm normally a pretty competitive person, this is one game I'm grateful to lose!

"We love Him because He first loved us."
(1 John 4:19)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mulberry Musings

"And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6 AMP, emphasis mine)

Faith is definitely what I need to deal with the problems in my life, apparently even if it's just the size of a small seed. And I can relate to mulberry trees, since we have a couple of them growing in the stream by the side of the house. I've just never put those particular words together in my life experience before, or even in a spiritual thought.

Birds and kids alike have busily filled their bellies with the delicious mulberry fruit at our house each May through the years, a treat which stains bare feet and bird poop a most incredible deep purple color! What I didn't know about the mulberry tree until today is that it has wide-spreading, deep roots, indicating that it would be difficult to move.

I do know that my struggle to develop a deeper faith is helped significantly by situations like I faced this past month in which I experienced great need, had few resources of my own to work with, and had no choice but to totally rely on God to work the difficult situations out. When He came through in a big way, my faith grew as a result.

Growth in the plant world is evidenced by the development of new leaves. And I turned over a "new leaf" spiritually yesterday in a situation with a family member that I spoke to on the phone. The need in this person's life is great, and there is nothing I can do to make things better for him but trust in God. Yet all I need to do is trust in God. I was surprised to find that so much easier to do today than the last time I talked to him; my faith has grown! His mountain is still huge, his problems "deep rooted" like the mulberry tree...but my trust in God is growing big enough to move both...even if it's still just the size of a mustard seed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Butterfly Dance

Having accomplished my mission of paying various medical bills in town with my trusty HSA card, I succumbed to the lure of the Starbucks gift card in my wallet and began the search for a parking space somewhere within two blocks of the store, knowing it likely to be an impossible task with the returning college students newly back in town. Stopped at a light, I watched in delight as a car pulled out from a space that somehow remained empty long enough for me to fill it. Minutes later I was sipping a white chocolate mocha, munching on a slice of iced lemon pound cake, and drinking in the peace and serenity found in a moment with God in the beauty of His creation, lakeside at Hueston Woods State Park. My nerves have been on edge a lot of late, indications of internal struggles to deal with inevitable life change, despite my best efforts to keep a cheerful face forward. I needed that moment of normalcy with God in my favorite place. Thankful (and surprised!) to find it deserted, I sat at a picnic table and soaked in the quiet loveliness surrounding me, my only companions the two lazy great blue herons whose slow, smooth sailing just feet above the water was equally soothing to my frazzled state of mind, and an abundance of butterflies of various sorts fluttering all around me.

I noticed that the walnut tree above me was starting to lose its leaves, and felt a twinge of sadness as their slow spiral to the ground seemed to confirm the end of one season in my life and the beginning of another, emotionally as well as physically. My reluctance to loosen my hold on the season past was preventing me from entering wholeheartedly into the one to come.

A sudden breeze sent another rash of leaves loose from their branches, and suddenly I noticed a butterfly rising and falling, swirling and swaying, seeming to actually dance among them as they twirled their way to the ground! I couldn't help but smile at the butterfly's enjoyment of the moment as it delighted in the new dance partners it found in each burst of wind! Surely there are few animals in God's kingdom with a shorter life span that the butterfly, and perhaps it knew better than to waste a single moment of its short existence in sad reflection or regret, but instead eagerly embraced the signs of change with joy and eager anticipation. What a lesson to me whose life span is likewise way too short to waste in looking back instead of to the happiness that lies ahead!

Coffee and cake now gone, so were my feelings of sadness, and I exited the park with a lightness in my spirit and steps that reflected what I'd learned in the butterfly dance I'd just witnessed, with gratitude in my heart to the God Who sent it my way.

"You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
(Psalm 30:11-12 AMP)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm so thankful to God this morning for the gift of choice... that I can choose how I will react to the feelings, people and circumstances I will encounter today. So today I chose joy over sadness, peace over worry, and hope over despair. And suddenly I started to get that "Friday!" kind of feeling, with 16 hours yet to go before I get there!

You know, a caffeine boost lasts only as long as it takes to drink a cup of coffee, but the joy of the Lord is in your heart forever! I'm grateful. : )

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life..." (Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Graduation and the associated party over, I started the day feeling strangely tired and drained. I didn't know if it was a hangover form the prep and stress of company, the remnants of my cold, a hormonal imbalance, or just what, but my remedy was to take a cup of coffee and a brownie and go sit on the deck with the birds and the trees and talk recent events over with God. The good news is that it worked! The beautiful day was impossible to resist, as was the combination of chocolate and coffee in the presence of the Lord! The moment could only be described as heavenly, a word that I suddenly realized described the history behind the brownie I was so quickly consuming. They were baked and delivered by a lady I met over the cash register at Kroger. We had become good friends over the course of her infrequent shopping trips, and when she heard I was stressing over my graduation party plans, she sent me a note saying that she wanted to deliver some treats for the event. Of course I told her not to do any such thing, but to simply come and be a part of the celebration. She didn't expect to be able to do so, however, with two other obligations scheduled for the same day.

Party day arrived and soon the guests did, too. The house was filled with friends old and new, and lots of food and laughter. Suddenly my husband spotted a car pull into the yard and a woman get out of it that he didn't recognize. I did, however, and ran to the door, where my shopping buddy handed me the promised treats - brownies baked to perfection, individually wrapped and tied with gold ribbon, and layered in tissue in a beautiful gift bag. Refusing to come in because of the other places she needed to be, she merely hugged me and left, despite the dog's best efforts to hogtie her with the rope on which he was tied and make her stay.

The brownies themselves were the hit of the party, people declaring them to be the best they'd tasted and some upcoming grads asking shyly if perhaps she could make them for their graduation parties, as well! My pastor simply buried his in scoops of ice cream and layers of hot fudge sauce, declaring himself ready for a nap when it was consumed.

Thinking about it later I remembered that I'd asked God to be present at the party. I just hadn't expected him to arrive in a pink dress, wearing pink shoes and with his blonde hair piled high on his head, carrying His love for us all in his heart and his hands. I guess I should've known...!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today is Graduation Day! At 7 p.m. tonight my son Kevin dons his cap and gown and collects his diploma. As he headed out the door to school for the last time this morning I was doing okay...until he turned around and THANKED me for the last 13 years of getting him up in the mornings, driving him to school or waving goodbye as he drove himself!!!... as if it was some kind of burden instead of just an incredible joy to be the mother of such a terrific kid. I lost it at that point... managed to wait till he pulled out of the driveway before the floodgates opened completely. Then I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out to the back deck for a "slow down and celebrate" moment with God. I let myself have a good cry. But just as the sunlight was fighting back the morning fog, so the Son fought back feelings of sadness and replaced the mood with one of celebration. Truly I am thankful to God, today and always, for the gift of three such incredible sons. It's no wonder the time has gone by so fast - "Time flies when you're having fun" - and my boys have the corner on fun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My week's been alarmingly busy...seems like all I've done is eat and talk, although the meetings of heart and soul were so beneficial to all parties involved - or at least, I hope so! I know they helped me. But after a week of meeting with everybody else, God said, "How about meeting with ME?! See you at Hueston Woods in the morning!" Amazing how much I looked forward to it and enjoyed it today, even though the skies were gloomy with heavy clouds and the wind put a bit of a chill in the air. The woods were gloriously leafed out (!!!) and there was the prettiest carpet of lavender flowers. Wish I'd taken a picture with my camera, as I can't seem to find the flower on the online listing of Ohio wildflowers. Oh well. What I did find in the woods today was peace.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I escaped to Hueston Woods State Park this morning in the hope of catching wood violets, redbud and dogwood all blooming at the same time. Redbud was in its glory, and there was a nice sprinkling of violets along the path I hiked. Too early for dogwood, I guess. But what I found blooming in abundance all over the forest floor were Dutchmans breeches, the spring wildflower that looks like pantaloons hanging on a line to dry... a gentle nudge from God, perhaps, that I should be home working on my own laundry instead of goofing off in the woods! I laughed, snapped a few more photos and came on home. Now both machines in the laundry room are busy and I am relaxing once more, sipping a fresh cup of coffee and reflecting on the glorious start to the day!

(Further research online makes me wonder if what I saw was actually Dutchmans Breeches or its very close relative Squirrel Corn. No hope for it - I will just have to play hookey again on Friday and check it out, to see if God wants me back in the laundry room or out feeding rodents! Either way it looks like I'm in for another wonderful day!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I woke up this morning - only days after Easter! - feeling discouraged abut some aspects of my life spiritually. I sat down at the table with my cup of coffee, started praying, and God began ministering to me. He reminded me of the back page of the a section in yesterday's newspaper, an ad by Hobby Lobby ministry projects, pictured at left. What a reminder that today (and every day) is a new chance to begin make better receive His new mercies. It was a such a blessing! Suddenly I looked at the Starbucks mug I was sipping my coffee out of and realized that it was the same - all black with words of love written on it in white. It will serve as reminder of today's message and each day's fresh start.

Another thought: One cup of coffee is never enough to satisfy me. It barely gets me through the first hour of the day! Deliberately I refill it, many times throughout the day. In the same way spiritual "times of refreshing" are available to me whenever I need them, now that my sins have been erased and I live with joy in the presence of the Lord.

"So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord;"
(Acts 3:19 AMP, emphasis mine)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For more years than I care to count I have used Bob Hostetler's "Parents Prayer Calendar" to pray valuable character traits not just into my children's lives, but lately more my own. Posted on my fridge for easy access, I find on it the current date and read the trait to pray about that day. I've been doing it for so long now, however, that rarely do I need to actually check the calendar to guide my daily prayer.

The 30th day of the month has always been a scary one for me in that regard. Praying for courage as the calendar suggests brings thoughts of trial and tribulations requiring the same that I'd rather avoid altogether! I likewise have a list of daily prayer requests to make on behalf of a pastor, and on that page the other night I found the instruction to pray for courage for every task. Now, that I can do, without fear and trembling about what might be coming down the pike.

Thank You, God, for sending that my way... so timely, too, since yesterday's character trait was...courage!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thinking about the way God keeps us safe from worry and fear when we're resting in Him, my contemplation was disturbed by a situation with my pets. Suddenly I realized He'd just given me a perfect illustration of the concept. My cat (contentment) had been sitting on my lap, purring peacefully. Suddenly the dog (worry and fear) started edging closer and closer, soon making whining noises in his throat which I knew would quickly erupt into a full-fledged bark. So I picked up the cat and carried her towards the safety of the stairs to the basement where she spends most of her time. I turned my body as I did so to shield her from the dog's torment, and even kicked him back a few times when he would try to get in front of us and hinder our progress, jumping and trying to nip at the furry bundle I carried in my arms. In like manner does God shield and protect us, carrying us safely all the way Home.

"...I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will give safety to your children and ease them."
(Isaiah 49:25 AMP)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This week's Italian phrase (see New Year, New Languages, is "E stato fantastico" which means "that was amazing" and describes so perfectly each of my experiences with God! Today I am particularly amazed that the Creator of the universe is interested in conversing with us, and the creative ways He finds to do so. The particular incident I was thinking about (just one of so many!) occurred some years ago when I was still driving one of my kids back and forth to school. On my way home from one such morning run I was talking to God about an issue that had arisen in the last twenty-four hours. A well-meaning friend had called to give me some information she thought I should know, but my spirit was rejecting and almost resenting what she had to say. I know her heart and understand that she meant well, but what she was saying wasn't sitting well with me. Rather than being helpful it had a tendency to lead me into doubt and worry. I felt that I was to ignore it, but then wondered again if I was perhaps in a "state of denial" about the situation. Was I being spiritually lazy by not being more concerned about it, or was I right to leave it in God's hands and simply trust that He would work it out? I felt that God would give me His answer on the subject in my morning devotional time and hurried home to receive it. When I was finally sitting at my kitchen table and picked up the study guide I was using, these were the words that I read:

...stay in step with God and hear the beat. That sometimes means turning a deaf ear to the clamor of the outside world or the advice of well-intentioned friends. (emphasis mine)

Wow! E stato fantastico!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The news has been full of reports of earthquakes in one spot after another lately - first the devastating one in Haiti, then Chili, then somewhere else, then yesterday it was Turkey... reminds me of the Scripture "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place." (Matt 24:7 AMP). On a whim I googled "recent earthquakes" and was directed to, "Latest Earthquakes in the World - Past 7 Days". That site will literally rock your world! Amazing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

After my Glove Lost, Purpose Found incident at work the other day ( I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me yesterday to keep my eyes open for who I might have an opportunity to love on in some way. After a while a group of girls clustered near the entry door caught my attention and I recognized one of them as the pregnant girlfriend of one of our baggers. The other girls were interestedly examining her now bulging belly. Soon one of the store cashiers ran over and took the girls away, saying something about the bagger boyfriend having had to run to the bathroom. I watched for him to come back, wanting to tease him, saying, "I just saw your baby!" But when he again came into view I could see the the last thing he needed was teasing. His eyes red and wet from the tears he had obviously been shedding, he was trying his best to get himself together. Since her pregnancy began, his girlfriend hasn't wanted anything to do with him, and he's been frustrated and discouraged, wondering if it's due to her fluctuating hormone levels or some other reason. So I kept quiet, but prayed silently, asking God to help him, a kid in wrong circumstances who was trying to do the right thing. I asked Him to bless that little family of three. Then, having done all I could do, I had to leave the situation in God's hands. But I watched the boy the rest of the evening, quietly rejoicing each time I saw him laugh or smile. Surely God was doing the same.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I got an eye-opener into my own spiritual life yesterday through that of one of my sons. Out of the blue he mentioned that he was thinking of going to the "onething regional" conference in Nashville this weekend, Friday evening through Saturday an outreach of the International House of Prayer. Since the registration was free, he was only concerned with coming up with the gas money. I told him I'd pay for that, but asked what he was going to do about a motel. He looked surprised, held up the comforter from off of his bed and said he'd simply sleep in his truck, amazingly undisturbed by the thoughts of possible nighttime big city violence which bothered his mom.

"What about money for food?" I asked.

"Mom, that's what dollar menus are for!"

Then I said, "But won't you be lonely, going by yourself?" He smiled and said, "Me and Jesus, driving down the highway. I'll be fine."

What a wake-up call to my spiritually lazy self! If God can even get me to leave the comforts and schedules of my life at home to consider going away to a conference, too often the spiritual content of the meeting takes second place to the other reasons I come up with for going. For example, who doesn't enjoy a night away at a nice hotel? And the restaurants! I probably put more time into thinking where I'll eat each meal than I devote to anticipating each service. And surely I think about who else might be going, and whether we'll bond more closely together as a result of the trip.

My son's purpose in going was solely to bond closer to Jesus. As it turned out, his father was delighted with his travel plans and offered to pay for a room and give him some money to eat off of - in essence to fund the trip. And isn't that what God has done for us? He paid the price for our spiritual journey with the death of His Son, that we might bond more closely with Jesus. All He's looking for in us is simply the desire to go.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple."
(Psalm 27:4 NKJV)
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