Monday, May 31

Is Your Bucket Empty?

Barren. Depleted. Dry.

Exhausted. Forsaken. Lacking.

Void. Unfilled. Empty.

Do any of those describe how you are feeling? Has your bucket of joy, peace, and faith been drained and now you’re looking for an answer, a refill? You say to yourself, “What’s missing?”

So, you begin to search for that elusive “something” to fill up your bucket. You decide to go on vacation in search of “it.” Maybe “it” is in the soothing sands of the beach, with the ocean’s gentle waves lapping at the shore. But the remedy doesn’t work. When you return home, all the vacation drains out of your bucket. You’re still empty. “It” was not in the vacation.

Next, you buy a new car, thinking “it” will pump up your ego. But that does not fill your void. Your bucket is still empty. “It” was not in the car.

You purchase a new house to inflate your pride, but the house just cost you more money and didn’t fill your bucket. “It” was not in the house.

You go after a higher paying job because you need more money. You think the power of your new job will appease your empty bucket. But now, you work late every night to pay off the car and the house you couldn’t afford, which only causes more problems in your marriage. Your bucket remains empty. Work was not “it.”

So, you begin to bar hop. All the drinks do not contain “it” until you meet a lovely young thing or a handsome young hunk. That pumps you up libido, for a while. But all the air escapes from your balloon one night when you come home from your tryst and find that all your family has moved out. Then, the words of the old song hit you in the face, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” And your bucket seems even emptier. An affair was not “it.”

So, you find yourself upon your bed, in tears wondering where it all began, where you went wrong. Reaching back into your memory box, you pull out the memory of you on your knees beside your bed, saying your prayers.

You slide off the bed and onto the floor, with knees popping and creaking from years of not bending. You bow your head and begin to sob as you seek the One True Answer, Jesus. The One you have so long ignored. The One you have been searching for and didn’t even know it. The One Who loves you more than anything, enough to die for you.

You pour out your heart to Him. He comes and kneels beside you, wrapping His loving arm around your heaving shoulders and whispers in your ear, “What you needed was not to be found in your vacation, nor in your new car or new house, or all the other things you used as a substitute, for what you needed was My Love.

“I’ve been here all along, kneeling by your bedside, night after night, waiting for you to kneel and find Me once again. Now, you’ve recognized your need.

“Let’s get rid of all that stands in the way between us, separating us from that special companionship you so desperately need and I so desire to have with you. You have found your Answer. “It” is Me, the Lover of your soul. I am your dwelling place. Leave My side never again.”

You fall at His feet in praise and say as David did, “You have shown me the way of life, and You will fill me with the joy of Your presence.” (Acts 2:28 NLT)

Whatever you have been through or are going through right now, I pray that your bucket be filled and runneth over with faith, hope, joy, and love in Jesus.

This is part of the one word blog carnival at


Thursday, May 27

All the Empty Chairs

photo by eschipul on

Memorial Day…

…originally known as Decoration Day as it was a day to honor the Civil War dead by decorating their graves. First observed on May 30, 1868 by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

Part of his proclamation says…

“What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.

“All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic…

“Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,--the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”

Young people today probably do not know that Memorial Day used to be a solemn day, honoring those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Businesses closed for the day. Parades were held. Speeches and prayers were offered up at cemeteries. People took flowers and flags to the gravesites of those heroes who died in service for their country. In a few places, these things still take place out of respect and honor.

A hero is one who puts himself or herself in harm’s way to protect someone he/she doesn’t even know, who puts his/her life on the line that you and I can live in safety. And usually with little thanks.

The next time you see one of our nation’s heroes in uniform stand and applaud him/her. Give him/her a big hug or pat on the back. Give that one your heartfelt thanks for protecting your homeland.

I hope you will take time to view this video. I know you will be blessed…

Please pray for all the families of our fallen service men and women who leave behind empty chairs for their families. And pray for all those troops now deployed in harm’s way that they will return safely to their homes and loved ones.

Pray that there will be no more empty chairs.

On Sunday, I’ll also be over be at Daily Signs of Hope. I hope you will take time to visit Michael Clark and Douglas Bolton.


Wednesday, May 26

Life, In Spite of Me blog tour

Today, I’m happy to bring you a book tour for Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice by Kristen Jane Anderson as told to Tricia Goyer. Be sure to read to the end. There are instructions for entering the contest to win 5 of Tricia Goyer’s books.


Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-four books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003.

Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family.

Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more info, please visit


After her fatal choice... extraordinary hope.

Why does my life have to be so painful?
What's wrong with me?
It's not going to get better.
It could all be over soon, and then I won't hurt anymore.

Kristen Anderson thought she had the picture perfect life until strokes of gray dimmed her outlook on life. Once a happy child, Kristen’s world darkened after three friends and her grandmother died within two years. Still reeling from these losses, she was raped by a friend she thought she could trust. She soon spiraled into a depression that didn’t seem to have a bottom.

One January night, the seventeen-year-old made a decision: She no longer wanted to deal with the emotional pain that smothered her. She lay down on a set of cold railroad tracks and waited-for a freight train to send her to heaven...and peace.

Fear coursed through me. I squeezed my eyes tighter.
It’s going to be over now. The pain is going to end. I’ll be in heaven soon.
As the train whistle blew, the vibration of my body stilled.
The sound stopped. The wind stopped. The train stopped.
Am I dead yet?

Amazingly, Kristen survived her suicide attempt... but the 33 freight cars that ran over her severed her legs. Now she not only had to deal with depression; she also had to face the physical pain and life without legs.

But Kristen’s story didn’t end there. After her darkest days Kristen discovered a real purpose for living. Now, in her compelling book Life, In Spite of Me, Kristen shares her journey from despair to hope.

Includes letters from Kristen that share messages she wishes someone would have told her-when she was depressed and struggling with loss, shame from sexual abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Watch the video trailer here!

For a chance to win five of Tricia Goyer’s books, you can these…

1) Tweet this: Don’t miss Life, In Spite of Me by @TriciaGoyer! The amazing story of #KristenAnderson journey back from #suicide! (must use both hashtags #kristenanderson and #suicide)

2) And/or Leave a comment {HERE} for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Life, In Spite of Me.

This book can be purchased at…

Barnes & Noble


Sunday, May 23

Are You a Trustworthy Doorkeeper?


If you’ve been following along, the last two posts (Room at the Top and Rebuild the Walls But Don’t Give the Enemy a Spare Room) have been running in a theme…keeping our hearts’ temples free of unwanted things and allowing them to be filled with God and His holiness. Here is the next in the series…

In ancient times, the shoulder was known as the burden bearer and became recognized as the symbol of authority and power. Therefore, keys placed upon a person’s shoulder indicated he had been appointed to a high position of responsibility in the king’s palace, granting him authority and free access over the king’s possessions.

In wearing the keys of authority, one received the privilege of opening and shutting the doors of the king’s house. The accountability of the keys consisted not only of the oversight of the royal chambers but also of deciding who was, or was not, to be allowed into the king’s presence and service.

Being entrusted with the keys, the doorkeeper was considered trustworthy and acted as a guard stationed at any entrance through which someone unwanted might enter, especially at night. He stood at the threshold, as a sentinel, allowing nothing of his master’s to leave the premises.

Doorkeepers, or porters, were sometimes referred to as gatekeepers or keepers of the threshold of the temple and…

*had charge of the sacred vessels,
*were responsible for collecting money from the people for temple purposes,
*guarded the gates of the house of Jehovah, opening and closing them at the proper times, and
*prevented the unclean from entering.

This honorable position also warranted a living chamber in the temple.

In the parable illustrating the end times and the duty to be watchful and faithful, scripture says, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back.” (Mark 13:33-35a NIV)

In essence, he told the doorkeeper to keep guard at the gate, not letting anyone in that did not belong, such as strangers or enemies trying to gain entrance to rob the master’s house.

Do you see anything in all that?

When the owner of a house leaves for an extended period, he usually surrenders his house key into the care of someone who will look after the place while he is away. This is a picture of what Christ did for us after His resurrection. He left the affairs of the kingdom in the care and trust of us, His family and servants…

*entrusting us with the keys of authority to the kingdom,
*giving us stewardship control over the treasures of the kingdom,
*and charging us to protect the doorway to our hearts and preventing anything unclean to enter His temple.

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Believe Me when I tell you that anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the door, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a rogue. It is the shepherd of the flock who goes in by the door. It is to him the door-keeper opens the door and it is his voice that the sheep recognise.” (John 10:1-3 Phillips)

How well do you guard the sacredness of your temple, the King’s palace within your heart? How well do you prevent the unclean from entering, the unwanted salesman soliciting your attention? Do you stand sentinel at your heart’s door, opening only at the voice of the Shepherd?

He’s coming back soon. “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” When He returns, will you hear…“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21 NIV)

Are you a faithful and trustworthy doorkeeper?


Thursday, May 20

A Room at the Top

If you read my last post, you read about Eliashib building a comfy spot for the enemy Tobiah during the time of Nehemiah.

When circumstances crash against the walls of our lives and attempt to tear them down, we either give up and allow everything to crash around us, allowing the enemy to weasel his way in, or we shore up those walls with strength and faith.

Rather than build a comfy place for the enemy, we need to build a holy place for the Man of God as did the Shunammite woman and her husband did for Elisha in 2 Kings 4.

“Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband, ‘Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.’” (2 Kings 4:8-10 NKJV)

Scripture says she was a “great” woman, which could either mean great in any sense, as one of great means, distinguished, or importance. She so desired Elisha’s company and his return visits as a guest that she made accommodations for him at the top, in an upper chamber or upper room.

According to definitions, there was a bed, a table (as that used for a king’s table for private or sacred use and, by implication, means meal), a chair (covered as a canopied throne, as a seat of honor, royal dignity, authority, and power), and a lampstand, which was a menorah.

Everything was made comfortable, furnished to make the man of God feel welcomed and at home. All suitable for divine use.

When Elisha asked what he could do for her, she did not wish anything in return from the man of God. He insisted on blessing her, but she would not receive. She had built a dwelling place for the man of God and having him in her house was blessing enough.

The story goes on but we’ll stop here.

At the wife’s suggestion, Mr. and Mrs. Citizen of Shunem built a room at the top of their house, preparing a place for the man of God, making room for his presence. Through her efforts, God would meet her needs.

Have you prepared your heart as a holy place, as that room at the top for the Man of God, Jesus? Have you adorned it with all that makes it a fit place for the King of Kings to dwell, making Him feel welcomed, comfortable, at home?

Your heart is His home. Adorn it beautifully for Him.


Sunday, May 16

Rebuild The Walls But Don’t Give The Enemy A Spare Room!

photo by Alex-Murphy at

“Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” Eph. 4:27 Amplified

Don’t give a place for the enemy to make himself comfortable! In other words, don’t make a spare room available for him to bunk in, like Eliashib did for Tobiah during the time of Nehemiah.

As King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer, Nehemiah was more than just one who guarded against poison in the king’s cup. Being a cupbearer meant he was an officer of the household, a trusted servant, holding rank and importance. Often chosen for personal beauty, a cupbearer held a position of great influence and confidential nature, giving him frequent access to the royal presence.

When Nehemiah learned of the deplorable condition of Israel after their return from exile, he asked King Artaxerxes to allow him to repair the broken down walls and the burned out gates in Jerusalem. So, the king appointed him governor of Jerusalem and he went to rebuild.

At one point during the rebuilding of the wall, Nehemiah left to return to the king, but, while he was gone, something happened.

The high priest, Eliashib, who had authority over the storerooms in the temple and related to Tobiah, “prepared for [Tobiah] a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests.” (Neh. 13:5 NKJV)

Just as God’s people made a golden calf while Moses was away, so the substitution of the unholy for the holy took place while Nehemiah was away.

Eliashib (meaning ‘God will restore’) veered from his consecrated position and scooted up close to one who had ties with the enemy. His relationship of being an in-law of Tobiah (Eliashib’s grandson had been allowed to marry Tobiah’s daughter, Neh. 13:28) was enhanced by his willingness to provide a place for evil to reside.

More than just being chummy, Eliashib allowed himself to be allied with the wrong companion.

Upon Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem, he discovered the evil Eliashib had done, and he said, “I was furious and threw out all of Tobiah’s belongings. I gave orders for the rooms to be ritually purified and for the Temple equipment, grain offerings, and incense to be put back.” (Neh. 13:8-9 GNB)

When the walls of your life start to crumble around you, do you allow, like Eliashib, a comfy spot for the enemy and his spiritual robbers to sneak in and remove all the holy things? Do you align yourself with the wrong companions?

The enemy has no access unless we answer the door when he comes calling. Once he gets his foot in the door, he welcomes all his negative, destructive relatives: Sister Unbelief, Brother Cowardice, Grandpa Doubt, and Aunt Despair.

Or do you do like Nehemiah and throw out the unholiness, purify your temple, put back the holy things, and secure those walls that have broken down?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23 NIV)


Saturday, May 15

Present Perfect blog tour

Today, I’m happy to bring you a blog tour for Gregory A. Boyd, author of Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now.

Gregory A. Boyd is the founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN, and founder and president of Christus Victor Ministries. He was a professor of theology at Bethel College (St. Paul, MN) for sixteen years where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor. Greg is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (BA), Yale Divinity School (MDiv), and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD).

Greg is a national and international speaker at churches, colleges, conferences, and retreats and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He has also authored and co-authored eighteen books prior to Present Perfect, including The Myth of a Christian Religion, The Myth of a Christian Nation, The Jesus Legend (with Paul Eddy), Seeing Is Believing, Repenting of Religion, and his international bestseller Letters from a Skeptic.

A “Holy Habit” that will change your life!

Experience true spiritual transformation: invite God’s presence into your life! Popular author, theologian, and pastor Gregory Boyd shows you how - simply, practically, and effectively - in this thoughtful and accessible book.

Discover: How to pray continually • What it means to “take every thought captive” • How to wake up to God’s ever-present love.

God is closer to you than the air you breathe. He is present in every given moment. Wake up to His presence! Turn off the mental chatter that keeps you from seeing His glory. Embrace the holy habit of inviting God’s presence into your life and be transformed! Wake Up to God’s Presence!

We long to be transformed. Yet, our minds are filled with endless trivia and self-centered chatter. To-do lists. Worries about the past. Speculation about the future. We forget to live in the present moment…and to invite God to be with us there.

After reading classic contemplative authors Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and Frank Laubach, Gregory Boyd longed to experience the presence of God for himself. For two decades, he’s attempted to implement the practice of the presence of God in his own life … sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing.

What he’s learned as a fellow pilgrim on his spiritual journey can help you find true spiritual transformation as you begin to practice the discipline of inviting God into every moment.

“I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence moment-by-moment is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus,” Boyd writes. “I’m convinced this challenge is implied in our commitment to surrender our life to Christ, for the only real life we have to surrender to him is the one we live moment-by-moment.”

Where did you get the idea for the book?

My passion for Present Perfect arose out of my passion for the discipline it’s about – the practice of the presence of God. Though I’ve always struggled with this discipline, as I readily admit in this book, I’ve come to believe it not only is the most important spiritual discipline. It actually expresses the very essence of what it means to live under the reign of God.

This book began as a series of essays I wrote almost six years ago during one of the worst and most prolonged episodes of the “dark night of the soul” I’ve ever experienced.

During this time, I recommitted myself to the practice of the presence of God and writing these essays helped me reorient my life around this discipline. I decided against publishing the essays six years ago, however, because I felt I hadn’t attained a level of maturity in this discipline that would justify me being a spokesperson for it.

I have since learned that God can use imperfect pilgrims as much as mature masters, which allowed me to rework the essays and publish them. (I’m still very glad I waited six years. However, since I’ve learned much in the intervening period, I feel that the essays are much better as a result.)

What are the major themes of the book?

Life is nothing more than a series of present moments strung together. So, to live a life committed to Christ means we need to commit each present moment to him. This involves remaining aware of, and surrendered to, the loving presence of Christ moment-by-moment.

As we learn to do this, we wake up to the wonder of God’s love, the beauty of the world, and opportunities to be used by God that we’d otherwise miss. As the subtitle of the book says, we wake up to the Kingdom in the NOW, and only in the NOW.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A deeper desire and greater capacity to be fully alive in the present moment, aware of God’s presence, surrendered to His will and led by His Spirit.

Learn more about Gregory at

Present Perfect
Release: May 2010
Soft cover, 176 pp.
ISBN: 0310283841
At Amazon


Tuesday, May 11

Trust in a Tightrope

Today, I bring you a story I heard and I have question for you at the end.

A story is told, whether true or not, of a tightrope walker that went to Niagara Falls. He had a wire strung across the falls and then sent out fliers to advertise his walk.

The day of his great feat arrived and crowds packed the banks to see this man walk across Niagara Falls.

The man appeared and applause rang out. He grabbed his balancing pole and placed his feet on the wire, ready to begin. A hush fell on the crowd.

The winds blew against him from the force of the water below him. Cautiously and preciously placing his feet on the wire, he walked across and received an overwhelming round of applause.

He asked the crowd on that side, “Do you think I can make it back across again? Do you trust me? Raise your hands.” The crowd cheered and all the hands went up.

Safely making his way back to the other side, he said to that crowd, “Do you think I can make it across again? Do you trust me? Raise your hands.” All the hands went up along with the cheers.

He walked off to the side and came back with a wheelbarrow. “Now, who trusts me enough to get in the wheelbarrow?”

The crowd stood silent. No hands went up.

If we apply this spiritually to our lives, we say we trust the Lord. We even applaud and cheer Him at work in the lives of others. But when it comes to our own lives, our faith and trust sometimes wane. We become silent. No hands go up.

If the Lord asked if you trusted Him enough to get in life’s wheelbarrow because He was taking you across the dangerous waters of circumstances, would you get in or on the sidelines?

Do you trust the Lord to carry you?


Friday, May 7

Be Ye...

Part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount includes the beatitudes. In each one, a blessing is attached when we are…

* poor in spirit
* mournful
* meek
* hungry and thirsty for righteousness
* merciful
* pure in heart
* peacemakers
* persecuted

As has been said, these are be attitudes. We are to have these attitudes within us; we are to be before we can do. Many Christians try to do before they be. I know, bad grammar but correct theology.

After the beatitudes, Jesus says we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. This comes from within, from being righteous. But what is the extent of our being righteous? Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20 NIV)

The lack of the proper righteousness has an eternal downside. If the righteousness within us is not above the righteousness of those Jesus called “hypocrites,” then we will never peek inside heaven’s gate.

What is the blessing of the fourth beatitude? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6 NKJV)

After years of doing, I had a lot to unlearn, for much that I did was not of eternal value. I had to reprogram my brain, my heart, and my spirit to first be. I hungered and thirsted after that righteousness and I was filled.

Scripture tells us many times to be something, such as followers, steadfast, separate, kind, thankful, or patient. Peter recaps God’s command from the Old Testament in 1 Peter 1:16 as the King James puts it, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” He did not say to do holy but to be holy.

Matthew 5:48 says that we are to be perfect as the Father is perfect. I found a translation of this verse that I love. It’s in the Bible in Basic English, which says, “Be then complete in righteousness, even as your Father in heaven is complete.”

If we cannot be as the Word tells us first to be, then we certainly cannot do what the Word tells us to do and have it be of eternal value.

All our being emanates from the heart, for, as a twist on Proverbs 23:7, as one “thinks in his heart, so be he.”

Are you being or doing?


Monday, May 3

The Preacher's Meadow

Years ago, in horse-and-buggy days, a poor circuit preacher made his weekly rounds to one of his favorite little churches. As he could not afford a horse, he walked several miles to the little, white church in the vale.

On his way through the fertile valley that led to the church, he stopped at his favorite meadow to savor the change of scenery that each season displayed.

He enjoyed spring as it burst forth with bluebells, daffodils, Queen Anne’s lace, and other wildflowers that filled the meadow and the beauty of the trees in fall as they boasted of their vibrant reds and golds.

He loved listening to the bubbling stream that ran through the field. He laughed when winter’s snow and ice decked out the trees and shrubs, making them look like some of the icy parishioners in his church.

On each journey to the church, he paused to meditate. Leaning on the old fence that surrounded the meadow, he praised the Lord for the beauty of His creation, for the privilege of serving Him, and for all the wonderful parishioners that packed the little church, always asking for the miracle of a bigger building that would someday hold many others.

One beautiful spring day, he noticed a sign on the property…FOR SALE! He didn’t have long to be curious if someone would buy the property for the next week, a new sign appeared…SOLD!

What will become of my lovely meadow, he thought.

Soon construction began on the site. Disappointment did not begin to cover how he felt. Each week as he walked by, he could see all the progress that had taken place. Trees knocked down; flowers gone. The ground disturbed.

A rumbling started in his spirit. Each week, he grew more annoyed. Mumbling and complaining chipped away at his praise until cynicism threw a dark shadow across his soul. His joy disappeared and he blamed God and even questioned his calling as a preacher.

By the time he reached the little church each week, his spirit reacted so negatively that his sermons suffered and the people noticed the difference.

One Sunday as he walked to church, he became so angry at God for taking away his beautiful praise field and his great joy that he kicked at the fence and broke his foot. Luckily, a parishioner came by in his buggy and took the preacher to the doctor.

He stayed off his foot for several months until it finally healed. The next spring when he was able to resume preaching, the parishioner came to pick him up for Sunday services. When the parishioner arrived, he told the preacher he must do something.

“What is it?” asked the preacher.

“You must wear this blindfold,” said the man.

“What in the world for?”

“You’ll see,” the man answered.

“Humph! How can I see if I’m blindfolded!”

“Don’t worry, preacher. You’ll love it when you see it. I promise!”

The preacher just grumbled something else under his breath.

When they finally arrived at their destination, the man removed the blindfold from the preacher’s eyes. As he did, the preacher heard, “Surprise!”

“Wha-a-t? What is this?” He glanced around and saw his entire congregation surrounding him.

“This,” said the man, “is your new church building.”

There, in the middle of his favorite meadow, stood the most beautiful church building he had ever seen. The meadow once again displayed its fragrant wildflowers and the trees in full blossom welcomed him back.

“I…I don’t understand,” said the puzzled preacher.

The man said, “We received a large endowment from an anonymous donor to build you a new church building. Knowing it’s been your heart’s desire and since you broke your foot and couldn’t see what was going on, we thought we’d surprise you.”

As his eyes filled with tears, the preacher fell to his knees, sobbing, “Oh, Lord, forgive me. I blamed You for taking away the very thing that gave me such joy, my beautiful meadow. I lost my praise and even questioned my calling. I had no idea You had planned something even more beautiful than I could have imagined. My cup of joy is now refilled and running over. Praise You, Lord!”

Has joy left your heart? Whether through some trial or heartache? Or maybe something has been taken from you? Has your beautiful meadow of joy and praise been destroyed?

Have you lashed out at God? Have you questioned His dealings in your life? Have you grumbled and complained, questioning your calling?

The Lord has a replacement joy in store for you. Will you thank Him in anticipation of its arrival and for His love and care for you? Will you praise Him again in your beautiful, new meadow of joy?

This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival listed on Bridget Chumbley’s site.


Saturday, May 1

Lessons from The Good Samaritan guest post

Today, I am pleased to bring you a guest post by Karen Anderson, who writes on the topic of online christian colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email:

The earliest memories I have are of my grandmother reading to us from the Bible. We would all huddle around her and choose either the Old or New Testament. She would open a random page and read the story or scripture that was on it and then explain to us the deeper meaning behind the written word.

It was a magical time for me not just because of the camaraderie I shared with my cousins and the love that abounded at Gram’s place, but also because most of the parables I heard became the commandments by which I lived my life.

My favorite of the lot is that of the Good Samaritan, the one who stops to help a Jewish stranger even though the man is the sworn enemy of the Samaritan. I particularly have a soft spot for this parable because of the lessons it teaches us…

* Don’t judge a book by its cover: The Good Samaritan belonged to a sect that was reviled and despised by the Jews. Yet, he was the only one who stopped to help and take him to relative safety.

This teaches us that we must not judge people for who they are or how they look; rather, we need to see deeper inside and know the kind of person they are before we evaluate them. In today’s world where there are wide disparities and prejudices because of race and color, the Good Samaritan is a parable that all of us need to read and understand.

* All that glitters is not gold: Before the Samaritan came that way, a priest and a Levite, both of whom were given high status in Jewish society, came across the fallen Jewish merchant. They knew he was one of their own, yet, they could not find it in them to show concern and kindness.

They left him to die without an iota of guilt as they went their own way. This shows us that just because something or someone glitters on the outside, it doesn’t mean that they’re good inside too.

* Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: And finally, the parable of the Good Samaritan reminds me every single day of my life that I must strive to better myself by helping other people and being kind to them.

It’s my guiding light on the path that leads to spiritual and emotional growth, and one that I believe leads me closer to Christ and his teachings. As I plod along this road, I aim to be a Good Samaritan myself in the lives of others.

~~Thanks, Karen, for guesting today.