Thursday, May 26, 2016

Letting Go

Bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 

I admit that it was difficult to watch my two children, Danae and Ryan, grow up. I knew they couldn’t remain children forever, and I certainly didn’t want to freeze their development. But I loved every minute of their childhood, and I cherish the memories we created.

I worked especially hard on “letting go” of Danae during her last three years at home. One of the most difficult times occurred when she was fifteen. She was having trouble getting ready for school on time, and I repeatedly rescued her by driving her there at the last minute. Finally, Jim and I agreed that it was time for Danae to accept full responsibility for beating the tardy bell.

One morning Danae missed her carpool ride, and she appeared at my door as I was preparing for an appointment. I ignored her hints about driving her, and we lived too far from school for her to walk. When she realized I wasn’t going to rescue her, she called Dial‐A‐Ride, our city‐sponsored cab company. She gathered her books and sat on the curb in front of our house with her head down, waiting for the cab.

I reluctantly faced one of my most difficult assignments ever. I backed my car out of the driveway and drove off, leaving my beloved teenage daughter dejected and alone. My mind flooded with all the horrible things that could happen to a young girl by herself. I asked God to protect Danae and help her learn from this experience.

The Lord heard my prayer. Danae came bounding into the house after school, threw her books on the table, and wailed, “Oh, Mother! How embarrassing! Do you know what kind of cab Dial‐A‐Ride has? It is a huge, old, beat‐up station wagon. The driver drove me right up in front of the school, and all my friends saw me. Oh, I will never do that again!” The next morning, Danae was up at the crack of dawn.

It’s extremely difficult for loving, caring parents to let their vulnerable children face embarrassment or failure. Our impulse is to bail them out or cover for their irresponsibility. But if we have faith in our objectives—and in our kids—we’ll stay the course and all do some growing up together.

- Shirley M Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the church remembers Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury, 605.

Augustine and a group of monks were sent to Britain by Pope Gregory (see March 12) in 597. Three centuries prior to this, Christianity had been introduced to the British Isles during the Roman occupation (see June 22 and March 1 and 17). However, when the Roman forces withdrew, the pagan Anglo-Saxons invaded the isles and forced the Christians to flee into the hills and forests of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, or to face a tenuous existence in England. Augustine found that his task was not only to convert the Anglo-Saxons but also to re-establish contacts between the British (or Celtic) and Roman churches.

Now, Augustine seems to have been a rather timid and reticent fellow who had accepted this assignment with something less than enthusiasm. He did not speak the Anglo-Saxon tongue and was terrified at the prospect of confronting these notorious savages. He was relieved and delighted upon landing in Britain to find that the Anglo-Saxon queen, Bertha, was already a Christian and that the king was not unfriendly. The latter, King Ethelbert, eventually was converted and in time most of his subjects followed suit. Augustine established his cathedral at Canterbury in Kent. This was destined to become the most important bishopric in England and the mother diocese of the Anglican Communion. Archbishops of Canterbury are still said to hold the Chair of Augustine.

We thank you, God, for the life and witness of Augustine, and for the English Church he strengthened. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O Lord our God, by your Son Jesus Christ you called your apostles and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless your holy Name for your servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating your Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, and bide your time, and see your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Daily Readings for May 26, 2016

Proverbs 21:30-22:6
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all. The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; the cautious will keep far from them. Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

1 Timothy 4:1-16
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer. If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives' tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Matthew 13:24-30
He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Morning Psalms

Psalm 37: Part I Noli aemulari
1   Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
2   For they shall soon wither like the grass, and like the green grass fade away.
3   Put your trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
4   Take delight in the LORD, and he shall give you your heart's desire.
5   Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass.
6   He will make your righteousness as clear as the light and your just dealing as the noonday.
7   Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.
8   Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
9   Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
10   For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land.
11   In a little while the wicked shall be no more; you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.
12   But the lowly shall possess the land; they will delight in abundance of peace.
13   The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash at them with their teeth.
14   The Lord laughs at the wicked, because he sees that their day will come.
15   The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow to strike down the poor and needy, to slaughter those who are upright in their ways.
16   Their sword shall go through their own heart, and their bow shall be broken.
17   The little that the righteous has is better than great riches of the wicked.
18   For the power of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 37: Part II Novit Dominus
19   The LORD cares for the lives of the godly, and their inheritance shall last for ever.
20   They shall not be ashamed in bad times, and in days of famine they shall have enough.
21   As for the wicked, they shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD, like the glory of the meadows, shall vanish; they shall vanish like smoke.
22   The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous are generous in giving.
23   Those who are blessed by God shall possess the land, but those who are cursed by him shall be destroyed.
24   Our steps are directed by the LORD; he strengthens those in whose way he delights.
25   If they stumble, they shall not fall headlong, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
26   I have been young and now I am old, but never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread.
27   The righteous are always generous in their lending, and their children shall be a blessing.
28   Turn from evil, and do good, and dwell in the land for ever.
29   For the LORD loves justice; he does not forsake his faithful ones.
30   They shall be kept safe for ever, but the offspring of the wicked shall be destroyed.
31   The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it for ever.
32   The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and their tongue speaks what is right.
33   The law of their God is in their heart, and their footsteps shall not falter.
34   The wicked spy on the righteous and seek occasion to kill them.
35   The LORD will not abandon them to their hand, nor let them be found guilty when brought to trial.
36   Wait upon the LORD and keep his way; he will raise you up to possess the land, and when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
37   I have seen the wicked in their arrogance, flourishing like a tree in full leaf.
38   I went by, and behold, they were not there; I searched for them, but they could not be found.
39   Mark those who are honest; observe the upright; for there is a future for the peaceable.
40   Transgressors shall be destroyed, one and all; the future of the wicked is cut off.
41   But the deliverance of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
42   The LORD will help them and rescue them; he will rescue them from the wicked and deliver them, because they seek refuge in him.

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Thursday, May 26, 2016

1 Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.

I have led retreats on discerning spiritual gifts. They were the usual exploration: We take a gifts assessment, add up our numbers, then read what someone wrote about what our gifts mean. I don’t lead these types of workshops anymore. They are of use, but I realized they begin with the premise that our spiritual gifts were somehow hidden from us, and only a seventy-five-question test and a treasure map could reveal them to us.

Instead I believe our gifts are so obvious to us that we fail to see them as spiritual gifts. We live with our gifts day in and day out; they are as natural to us as breathing. We often don’t see them as gifts because they are such an innate part of who we are.

Others likely see many loving gifts reflected from your life onto their own. Think about the ways you have been a loving presence in the lives of those you love. These natural, simple ways, comfortable to our souls, are often the gifts God uses to care for the world.

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Girlfriends in God - Choose Humility Over Pride

Today’s Truth

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:2-5, NIV). 

Friend to Friend

We live in a broken world where bad things happen. While we cannot always control the things that happen to us or to those around us, we can control how we respond to painful circumstances. If we want to handle hurt in a way that pleases God, we have to make the right choices.

One of the most important choices we must make is to choose humility over pride. And that is a tough one. You may be wondering what humility could possibly have to do with learning how to handle hurt. We cannot handle hurt until we are willing to admit that we are hurting. Why is that so hard to do? I believe it is because of our pride. We should be able to handle the pain and fix whatever problem caused that pain. Right?

A few years ago I underwent what I thought was going to be a simple medical procedure, but when I woke up in recovery I knew I was in trouble. According to the doctor, the surgery went great, but she had not expected to find so much scar tissue and repair work to do.

I certainly did not expect to experience the pain and soreness and inability to function that overwhelmed me. I was basically helpless. I had given myself a whole ten days to recuperate, but it was brutally obvious that recuperation was going to be a long time coming. In fact, those ten days I had so generously carved out of my schedule turned into months of painful and slow recovery. I could feel myself sliding into that familiar pit of darkness.

I have a problem with pride. It has always been extremely hard for me to accept help. I was raised to be strong and independent. When people asked what they could do to help with during my recovery, I automatically responded with, "I am fine. I will let you know if I need anything." Fortunately, my family and friends ignored that absurd assertion and stepped right over my pride as they brought meals, cleaned our house, did laundry, assumed my teaching and speaking responsibilities, and kept our infant grandson while our daughter attended school three days a week. I could not even get out of bed or go downstairs without help - and I did not like it one bit!

Just as a tiny flame can turn into a raging fire, unresolved anger and hurt can turn into depression.

As I began to work through my own anger and frustration, one purpose of this particular pit quickly emerged as God reminded me of a truth I often share but one I fail to practice.

We were created to need God and each other.

It is so easy to slide into a pattern of thinking much like the prideful toddler who announces, "I do it myself!" We can't! And the good news is that we don't have to if we are willing to choose humility over pride and admit that we are hurting. One of the most beautiful examples of a humble spirit is found in the book of Luke.
Luke 13:10-13 (NLT) "One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, ‘Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!’ Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!"

Eighteen years is a long time to endure the kind of pain this woman experienced. I can only imagine how exhausted she must have been. I'm sure she was embarrassed by her physical disability. People probably stared at her out of curiosity while others judged her.

"She must have committed some terrible sin to cause such pain and hurt."

"She is obviously not right with God or He would heal her."

"Maybe it's her prayer life. She is not praying enough."

It would have been so much easier for this woman to hide her pain. She could easily have chosen to be bitter and angry with God. Instead, she came to the synagogue, hoping that Jesus would be there. Her pain led her straight to Him. So can yours if you choose humility over pride.

Let’s Pray

Lord, please forgive my arrogant heart. I am so sorry for the pride I see in my life. Today, I ask You to search my heart and destroy the strongholds of pride and ego. Help me recognize prideful thoughts and actions in my life. Give me the discernment to be honest and transparent before You and with others. I, too, am a trophy of grace. Help me learn how to live like one.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read the following verses and answer each question: 
  • Psalm 10:4 (NIV)In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” How does pride affect our relationship with God? Is this true in your life?
  • Proverbs 16:5(NIV) The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” What is God’s attitude toward those who are proud? 
  • Psalm 40:4(NIV)Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” How does pride encourage idolatry? Do you have any idols in your life? Name them and eliminate each one.

What decision do you need to make today in order to choose grace over pride? What would that look like in your daily life?

More from the Girlfriends

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I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Yesterday we read the testimony of Kefa Sampangi in Uganda when he was threatened with death by Idi Amin’s goon squad. The story continues:

“Father in heaven,” I prayed, “you who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them into yourself.”

It was a simple prayer, prayed in deep fear. But God looked beyond my fears and when I lifted my head, the men standing in front of me were not the same men who had followed me into the vestry. Something had changed in their faces.

It was the tall one who spoke first. His voice was bold but there was no contempt in his words, “You have helped us,” he said, “and we will help you. We will speak to the rest of our company and they will leave you alone. Do not fear for your life. It is in our hands and you will be protected.”

I was too astonished to reply. The tall one only motioned for the others to leave. He himself stepped to the doorway and then he turned to speak one last time. “I saw widows and orphans in your congregation,” he said. “I saw them singing and giving praise. Why are they happy when death is so near?”

It was still difficult to speak but I answered him. “Because they are loved by God. He has given them life, and will give life to those they loved, because they died in Him.”

His question seemed strange to me, but he did not stay to explain. He only shook his head in perplexity and walked out the door. I stared at the open door of the vestry for several moments and then sat down on a nearby straw mat chair. My knees were no longer strong and I could feel my whole body tremble. I could not think clearly. Less than ten minutes before, I had considered myself a dead man. Even though I was surrounded by 7,000 people there was no human being to whom I could appeal. I could not ask the elders to pray, I could not appeal to the mercy of the Nubian killers. My mouth had frozen and I had no clever words to speak. In that moment, with death so near, it was not my sermon that gave me courage, or an idea from Scripture. It was Jesus Christ, the living Lord.[1]

RESPONSE: Today I will walk in the power of the living Lord and not in my own strength or courage.

PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that You are my sufficiency. Without You, I can do nothing.

1. F. Kefa Sempangi, A Distant Grief, Glendale, CA: G/L Publications, 1979, pp.120-121.

His Princess Every Day - The Power of Purity

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

My Princess Warrior,

I call you My Princess, and with that calling comes a responsibility to purify yourself. I have set you apart and given you a new life. You can help conguer the corruption around you by making your life a true reflection of My standards. I am not asking for perfection, My beloved, but I am asking for your purity to be a priority. I am requesting that you remove from your path anything that causes you to fall away from Me. It is your purity that will bring My promises to pass in your life. It is purity that gives you the power to effectively proclaim you are Mine!

Your King who purifies you 

Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.” - Joshua 3:5 (NLT) 

A Prayer for Purity 

Purified Princess! I pray that you will purify yourself for the Lord. May everything you do be a true reflection of your King. I pray that pleasing to the Lord. Will bring you greater joy that any impure pleasure In the name of Jesus, I pray your purity brings great change to those god has given you influence with.. May you embrace the new life your Lord offers and walk away from anything that is not of Him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD. - Isaiah 52:11 (NLT)

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.

Verse of the Day - May 26, 2016

John 3:17 (NIV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Read all of John 3