Friday, May 13, 2016

Hi There!

by Nancy Dahlberg

One year our family spent the holidays in San Francisco with my husband’s parents. Christmas was on a Sunday that year, and in order for us to be back at work on Monday, we had to drive the four hundred miles back home to Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

When we stopped for lunch in King City, the restaurant was nearly empty. We were the only family, and ours were the only children. I heard Erik, our one‐year‐old, squeal with glee: “Hi there. Hi there.” He pounded his fat baby hands—whack, whack—on the metal tray of the high chair. His face was alive with excitement, eyes wide, gums bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled, chirped, and giggled. Then I saw the source of his merriment—and my eyes could not take it all in at once. It was a man wearing a tattered rag of a coat, obviously bought eons ago, and dirty, greasy, worn pants. His toes poked out of used‐to‐be shoes, and his shirt had ring‐around‐the‐collar all over. He had a face like none other—with gums as bare as Erik’s. “Hi there, baby,” the disheveled man said.

“Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster.” My husband and I exchanged a look that was a cross between “What do we do?” and “Poor devil.” Our meal came, and the cacophony continued. Now the old bum was shouting from across the room: “Do you know patty‐cake? Atta boy—do ya know peek‐a‐boo? Hey, look—he knows peek‐a‐boo!”

Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi there.” Every call was echoed. Nobody thought it was cute. The guy was a drunk and a disturbance. I was embarrassed. My husband, Dennis, was humiliated. Even our six‐year‐old said, “Why is that old man talking so loud?”

As Dennis went to pay the check, he whispered for me to get Erik and meet him in the parking lot. Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik, I prayed as I bolted for the door.

It was soon obvious that both the Lord and Erik had other plans. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back, trying to sidestep him—and any air he might be exhaling. As I did, Erik, with his eyes riveted on his new friend, leaned far over my arm and reached out with both hands in a baby’s “pick me up” position.

In the split second of balancing my baby and turning to counter his weight, I came eye‐to‐eye with the old man. Erik was lunging for him, arms spread wide.

The bum’s eyes both asked and implored, “Would you let me hold your baby?”

There was no need for me to answer because Erik propelled himself from my arms into the man’s. Suddenly a very old man and very young baby clutched each other in a loving embrace. Erik laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands—roughened by grime and pain and hard labor—gently, so gently, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm, commanding voice, “You take care of this baby.”

Somehow I managed to squeeze the words “I will” from a throat that seemed to have a stone lodged in it.

He pried Erik from his chest—unwillingly, longingly—as though he were in pain.

I held my arms open to receive my baby, and again the gentleman addressed me.

“God bless you, ma’am. You’ve given me my Christmas gift.” I could only mutter, “Thanks.” With Erik back in my arms, I hurried toward the car. Dennis wondered why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly and saying, “My God, my God, forgive me.”

Looking ahead…

Imagine for a moment viewing the world from a baby’s perspective. Everything would fascinate you: the bright colors, the strange noises, and most certainly, the people. You’d want to touch, taste, and explore each one. Would you avert your eyes at the sight of a friendly bum? Of course not—even if he was toothless. Curious and trusting, you would return the bum’s smile, then hold out your hands to give him a hug.
Babies see the world in a different light, don’t they? They don’t worry about what others think, and they don’t prejudge others on the basis of appearance. Unfortunately, as adults we tend to go “blind”—to each other and to those around us—to what God is doing in our world. This week we’ll talk about how we can learn to see in a fresh way— through God’s loving eyes.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Hi There!” by Nancy Dahlberg. Taken from American Baptist, December 1981. Used by permission.

Men of the Bible - Jonathan

His name means: "Yahweh Has Given" 

His work: The firstborn son of King Saul, Jonathan was a capable warrior and military strategist.
His character: Jonathan demonstrated remarkable capabilities for friendship, selflessness, and loyalty.
His sorrow: Although the rightful heir to the throne of Israel, Jonathan never became king. He also had to deal with the mental and emotional pathology of his father, King Saul.
Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 14; 19; 20 

A Look at the Man

By his own foolishness, Saul put his children in impossible situations.

His youngest daughter, Michal, was married to David, a man Saul openly hated. And his son, Jonathan, was David's closest friend.

Because of her father's unrestrained jealousy, Michal was forced to lower David from an open window to protect him from Saul. And Saul's irrational rage against David forced Jonathan to take sides against his father, the king of Israel.

As their friendship unfolded, we can assume that David confided in Jonathan about his anointing to be the next king of Israel. He would have told Jonathan about the prophet Samuel's visit to his father's home in search of Saul's replacement. Imagine the two-pronged disappointment that would have devastated a smaller man than Jonathan. First, he would have been greatly displeased with the news of the Lord's message to Samuel about his father. "I have rejected Saul as king over Israel." Second, it would mean that he, the oldest son of the king, was not going to be the successor to the throne.

There is no record of Jonathan being devastated with this news. Because he trusted God, he knew that Samuel never would have anointed David as the heir to his father's throne if he hadn't been divinely appointed.

The account of Jonathan is the story of loyalty at many levels. First, he was loyal to his father. At no point did Jonathan complain to David that his father was a deranged madman. In the midst of terrible conflict, Jonathan was steadfast in his respect for his father, even dying with him in battle.

Second, Jonathan was loyal to David. He had legitimate reasons to envy the successor to his father's throne, but he loved him instead. Like David, he was a capable leader and victorious warrior. But he refused to set himself against David, even though his father did everything he could to push him in that direction.

Finally, Jonathan was loyal to the living God. Even though he could have complained that his father's actions spoiled his own future, he trusted God's sovereignty. Whether through verbal confrontations with his father or delivering bad news to his friend, Jonathan was a man of impeccable integrity.

Some people imagine David's friend Jonathan as a milquetoast wimp looking to find esteem through his friendship with a man much greater than he. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jonathan was a strong man, a mighty soldier, and a successful leader. And it is from this position of influence that Jonathan introduces us to the greater power of loyalty. 

Reflect On: 1 Samuel 20:11–17 
Praise God: For blessing our loved ones through us. 
Offer Thanks: For God’s faithfulness from generation to generation. 
Confess: Any failure to believe that God intends to use you to extend his blessings to the next generation. 
Ask God: To make you the kind of person whose righteousness blesses others.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

His Princess Every Day - Friday, May 13, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

His Friendship

My Daughter,

Everyone goes through difficult seasons in life. If it is a hard interval for someone you love, be careful not to judge him or her too harshly. Look beyond your own hurt to the pain that has caused that person to lash out or treat you unfairly. I want you to become the faithful friend you long to have when you’re hurting... and hang on to the good times you have shared with your loved one. Lift them up to Me in prayer, and I will bless them in ways far beyond anything you can imagine. Once this season has passed, the bond of your relationship will be even stronger, and I will be glorified through your faithfulness!

Your Father in heaven and faithful friend

There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24

Treasure of Truth

True friends can’t be seen until conflict comes.

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Girlfriends in God - May 13, 2016

A Tethered Life
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1, NIV) 

Friend to Friend

Have you ever played a game called tetherball? Not familiar? Wikipedia describes the game like this:

Tetherball (also known as swingball) is a game for two opposing players. The equipment consists of a 10 ft (3 m), stationary metal pole, from which is hung a ball from a rope, or tether.

Now, I’m no tetherball champ by any stretch of the imagination. But when I was a kid each summer I could barely wait to go to our family reunions at White Oak Park. My siblings and I knew that when we arrived there would be huge amounts of food, burlap sack races, egg tosses, water balloon fights, treasure hunts, and a killer playground that had a tetherball court!

So. Much. FUN!

We raced with all of our hearts, played hard in the blazing sun, ate way more than we should’ve, and battled on the tetherball court until we were ready to drop from exhaustion.

I want to stay connected to God like a ball tetherball is connected to its poll. Don’t you?

Whether the ball is moving or still it is connected to the poll; securely tethered by a rope.

Whether you and I are moving or still we can be connected to God, securely tethered by grace and strengthened in prayer.

The 18th chapter of Luke begins with Jesus telling his disciples a parable about a persistent widow. He told them this story to encourage them to pray continually and to not give up. (Luke 18:1) The widow, Jesus told them, wanted justice so she went to the judge and asked for favor against her adversary. The judge didn’t care much about God or justice so he brushed her off and sent her away. But she kept going back and asking for justice, so finally the judge gave in because he didn’t want her to bother him anymore.

Then Jesus explained the significance of the story to his friends:

“And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8)

Jesus encouraged his disciples to be persistent in prayer. The word tether actually means “to tie something with a rope or chain in order to restrict its movement.” I like the idea of having my life ‘restricted’ to the will of God … to be bound by His Spirit through prayer.

There’s no greater freedom. No greater power.

When we trust in Jesus, we are bound securely by His faithfulness.

God is faithfully listens to and answers the prayers of His children. Do you believe this? Even in times when you and I don’t feel like He’s listening or answering, the Bible assures us that God hears our prayers and responds to each one.

And He will complete the good work that He’s begun in your life as you seek Him in prayer and tether your heart to His will. 

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Please forgive me for all of the times when I have chosen to disconnect. I want to be tethered to Your heart, Lord. I need to be. Help me to set aside my own will and trust in Your plan for my life.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Luke 18:1-8.

Take a personal inventory. What area in your life are you struggling to connect with God on? Have you stopped talking with Him about it? Spend time in prayer. Ask God to bind your heart with His regarding the details. 

More from the Girlfriends 

Ready to rekindle your faith today? Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It ALL, gives you practical help to connect your struggles to the solutions of God found in His Word. Order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite retailer.

Connect with Gwen on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
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Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8

Dear Corrie ten Boom, a close friend of Brother Andrew’s in Holland, was well-known for her statement: “When God has a task to be done, he calls a man. When He has a DIFFICULT task to be done, he calls a woman!”

Motherhood is often one of those difficult tasks for women. I can remember how difficult it was for my own mother in the 1950’s to raise a family with four active, hungry boys on a total budget of twenty-five dollars a week. Yet she was such an example to us of sacrifice, commitment, and faithfulness. We knew she would give everything she had for us and our father.

The Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonian church that the apostles could have become a burden to them but instead they treated the new growing church gently, like a mother caring for her little children, willing to give everything—even their lives.

Today mothers in the persecuted church continue to reflect the example of Jesus in sacrifice, commitment and faithfulness. I think of the wife of Santiago, a dynamic church pastor in one of Colombia’s deeply troubled areas. Santiago’s life is threatened because has an intense love for God’s people, and a deeply ingrained sense of justice. His strength comes from the Lord. But his second source of strength is his wife, Deborah, who stands by him no matter what.

Recently, she opened up her heart to a small group of visitors. “I feel a profound emptiness and fear that can only be mitigated by the Lord. Although many people claim that the war here has dwindled, I cannot agree because I still see what the people here go through. Just yesterday four people were murdered in our town, two of them very close to our church.”

At that point, the tears flooding Deborah’s eyes reveal one of the deepest fears of her heart. “I beg my Lord not to take Santiago away from us, as it would be an extremely painful blow. I remember having the doors locked, believing that at any moment they would come looking for Santiago to kill him. Every time he left for church, my children also waited for someone to arrive bearing the horrible news that he had been murdered. The children beg him, ‘Daddy, please quit the church. We know that people in the area are speaking badly of you, and you know that several other pastors have been murdered.’”

Deborah continues, “God changed our plans to leave. It is not His will that we run away, and our brothers and sisters would not allow us to do so either.” Then she pleads, “I request your prayers for the Lord to heal the wounds of my heart, to remove the fear, so that I can continue fighting. But, more importantly, that I will know how to pray according to His will.” Deborah’s deep devotion to her husband and children is obvious. She is also their tower of strength. 

RESPONSE: Today I will honour mother and encourage other mothers I see struggling with life’s issues.

PRAYER: Father, bless Deborah today—and others like her—with courage, strength and faithfulness.

Verse of the Day - May 13, 2016

Proverbs 31:30 (NIV) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Read all of Proverbs 31

The Daily Readings for May 13, 2016

Jeremiah 31:27-34
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD. In those days they shall no longer say: "The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-- a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Ephesians 5:1-20

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-- for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 9:9-17
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 102
1 LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
2 Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me,
3 For my days drift away like smoke, and my bones are hot as burning coals.
4 My heart is smitten like grass and withered, so that I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of the voice of my groaning I am but skin and bones.
6 I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake and groan; I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
8 My enemies revile me all day long, and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me.
9 For I have eaten ashes for bread and mingled my drink with weeping.
10 Because of your indignation and wrath you have lifted me up and thrown me away.
11 My days pass away like a shadow, and I wither like the grass.
12 But you, O LORD, endure for ever, and your Name from age to age.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to have mercy upon her; indeed, the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants love her very rubble, and are moved to pity even for her dust.
15 The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory.
16 For the LORD will build up Zion, and his glory will appear.
17 He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless; he will not despise their plea.
18 Let this be written for a future generation, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.
19 For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high; from the heavens he beheld the earth;
20 That he might hear the groan of the captive and set free those condemned to die;
21 That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD, and his praise in Jerusalem;
22 When the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.
23 He has brought down my strength before my time; he has shortened the number of my days;
24 And I said, "O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; your years endure throughout all generations.
25 In the beginning, O LORD, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
26 They shall perish, but you will endure; they all shall wear out like a garment; as clothing you will change them, and they shall be changed;
27 But you are always the same, and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants shall continue, and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight."

Evening Psalms

Psalm 107: Part I
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let all those whom the LORD has redeemed proclaim that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.
3 He gathered them out of the lands; from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes; they found no way to a city where they might dwell.
5 They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits languished within them.
6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He put their feet on a straight path to go to a city where they might dwell.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and deep gloom, bound fast in misery and iron;
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he humbled their spirits with hard labor; they stumbled, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He led them out of darkness and deep gloom and broke their bonds asunder.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and breaks in two the iron bars.
17 Some were fools and took to rebellious ways; they were afflicted because of their sins.
18 They abhorred all manner of food and drew near to death's door.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent forth his word and healed them and saved them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.
22 Let them offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.
23 Some went down to the sea in ships and plied their trade in deep waters;
24 They beheld the works of the LORD and his wonders in the deep.
25 Then he spoke, and a stormy wind arose, which tossed high the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and fell back to the depths; their hearts melted because of their peril.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits' end.
28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper and quieted the waves of the sea.
30 Then were they glad because of the calm, and he brought them to the harbor they were bound for.
31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.
32 Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Friday, May 13, 2016

Ephesians 5:4 Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving.

This letter to the church in Ephesus offers a congregation guidance regarding the behavior of each believer. Some of the behaviors are culturally and historically bound, but others have great wisdom for us still. Succinctly and directly, the author tells us that gossip and idle talk have no place in Christian conversation.

As a priest, I have seen few things do more damage to communities than gossip; this vulgar talk serves no purpose other than to tear down another person. It is pervasive, and I often wonder why so many good, kind people readily engage in gossip.

I have yet to find a reason for gossiping, but the writer of Ephesians reminds me that the reason doesn’t really matter. Speaking words of gossip is not an action for those who strive to be imitators of God.

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