Monday, March 31, 2014

Do You Speak Greek?

I love listening to mockingbirds! They perfectly mimic the songs of every bird in their area – a kaleidoscope of melodies.

Every chirp and warble is unique. The blue jay doesn’t have a clue what the robin’s saying. The dove’s song is like Greek to the sparrow.

Made me wonder: is our “Christianese” a bunch of gibberish to nonbelievers?

Are we speaking Greek?

When I wrote my Bible study, Storms of Life, I wanted to put the plan of salvation in the first chapter.

So, I wrote this:

Each of us has sinned and rebelled against God’s laws. But, because of God’s great love, He sent his only Son to be crucified and buried, to pay the penalty for our sins. After three days, He was raised from the dead and promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.
If you confess your sins and accept Jesus as your Savior, He will forgive you and give you eternal life.

I followed this with a nice “if you believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, pray the simple prayer written below and receive His gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.

Sounded great to me.

Source: Deposit Photo, william57
Thankfully, a close friend said, “I wasn’t raised in church and I assure you that a nonbeliever won't understand a thing you're saying!”

So, I tried again:

Do you have any idea how much God loves you? I know, you’ve messed up a lot, we all have. We’re all guilty of sin; we all face the death penalty. But God loves you so much that He set in motion a plan to save you from death.

He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to live a normal life – just like you. But Jesus didn’t sin - He lived a perfect life. Even though He was sinless, Jesus agreed to die – to die in your place. After He died and was buried, God used His great power to raise Jesus to life again. Jesus returned to Heaven and lives eternally with His Father.

If you believe that Jesus died for you and ask Him to forgive you, He will erase all your sin – forever! If you believe that He was brought back to life, He will give you eternal life. When your life ends on this world, you will join Him in Heaven.

How’s that? Is that better?

Remember: At one time we too were foolish… Titus 3:3a

Keep your words simple, so that the “foolish” may believe.

When did you believe in Jesus?

If you haven’t asked Jesus to forgive you and to give you eternal life, I pray that you will do it now. Then tell a friend who goes to church and ask them to take you with them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bitterness to Joy

Although gardening isn’t my thing, I occasionally dig around in the flower beds, pulling weeds. A few days later, I notice that several of them have popped right up again. Frustrating!

I’ve learned an important lesson: the weeds aren’t truly gone unless you dig the root out. Any shred of remaining root and it will grow up again.

So it is with bitterness. We have to get to the root, the heart, of the matter to conquer it.

"Don't call me Naomi, " she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. Ruth 1:20

Life had been cruel to her and she felt abandoned by God.

She changed her name - from Naomi, meaning joy and pleasantness, to Mara, meaning bitterness and deep sorrow.

I can certainly identify with her feelings.

When I was laid off from my job in 2005, I was certain God had abandoned me and I was furious at God. I nursed the anger until it became bitterness.

He’d failed me, I was mad, end of story.

Ever felt that way? We all have!

What made it even worse was well-meaning people came along and said, “Sherry, God has a purpose.”

So what? Was that supposed to make me feel better?

“You’re not alone. God’s walking with you.”

Yeah, right! If He’d been walking with me, this wouldn’t have happened!

Something that tears our world apart – we get angry at God and allow anger to grow into bitterness.

Someone hurts us and we allow pain to turn into bitterness.

Someone disappoints us and we feel let down – frustration becomes bitterness.

Bitterness ruins relationships, with God and with others.

Even worse, it poisons us from the inside out.

So, how do we overcome it?

Hate to tell you this but we don’t; we can’t. Only the Holy Spirit within us has that power.

How do we find the strength to forgive?

How do we ask for help when our hearts are broken?

It all comes back to our relationship with God.

Do we have the freedom to scream and stomp our feet at God when we feel abandoned?

I say a resounding YES!

If you don’t believe me, read Psalm 13. David begins with accusations but, as God ministers to him, his faith returns.

Can we come to our Abba and pour out our pain?


O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

God never forsakes us.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

He never withdraws His love.
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else
in all creation, will be able to
 separate us from the love of God that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

He will turn bitterness to joy.

How has God brought you from bitterness to joy?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Look Out Your Window

Photo by Sherry Carter 2014

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12

As we look around our world, we see so many evidences of God's glory. Near my house, these Bradford pear trees are in full bloom, announcing that spring is just around the corner.

You might be enjoying spring or you might be covered in snow but, all around you, God's glory is proclaimed.

What do you see outside your window that proclaims God's majesty?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Need Directions?

How many of you remember these?
You young'uns might have never seen one.

We don’t see weather vanes much anymore.

I sure could use one of these on my car. It has one of those new-fangled GPS things but I haven’t figured it out.  

I have zero sense of direction. No, really, I mean it! North, south, east, west – forget it. I can get lost before I drive out of my driveway.

So I guess you could say I’m directionless. 

As I watched this arrow turn with the wind, I realized that sometimes I’m lost in my life.
  • I face a hard decision and I don’t know which way to go.
  • Situations challenge my beliefs and I waver in the wind.
  • I’m tripped up by temptations because I’m not watching where I’m going.

There is a remedy – a Person – to point me in the right direction.

The Lord is a whisper away.
How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Isaiah 30:19b

The Lord is here we need to make a decision.
This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

The Lord is here to lean on when we need to stand strong.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13a

The Lord protects us when a temptation looms before us.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

 This is the kind of guidance we all need!

Recently, I have needed God's guidance to make difficult decisions.
What help do you need from Him right now?

Monday, March 17, 2014

6 Verses to Sleep By!

I’ve been battling insomnia the past couple weeks.

Lie awake until 2 a.m. or so, get up for a while, go back to bed and sleep 2-3 hours.


I finally rummaged around and found the list of Scripture verses I use in times like this. They reassure me and help me relax.

I thought that someone out there might need these too. Most of them are in Psalms but there are a few from other places.

1.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he restores my soul. Psalm 23:2-3

What a peaceful image. Green pastures, still waters. Can you imagine the feel of the cool green grass and the sound of the water? Close your eyes and relax. God's there to restore you.

2. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Sometimes our minds just won’t slow down or we’re caught in the fear of “what-ifs.” To sleep in peace is just what we need.

3. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5

When we struggle with worries about finances or health, this verse reminds us that He’s there to take care of us and sustain us, no matter what tomorrow brings.

4. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.  Isaiah 32:18

Worried about a leaky roof or an AC that can’t cool the house? Be assured that God is in control of our homes. He will provide. We can be secure in His provision and our sleep can be peaceful and undisturbed.

5. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. Psalm 145:4-5

When I’m on edge, this reminds me that I am the Lord’s delight and He has given me grace and mercy. It’s wonderful to fall asleep humming praise songs of joy and gratitude

6. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

One of my favorites. When we're tossing and turning, we can be assured that God is with me, that He surrounds us with His love and sings over us. I often ask Him to put me to sleep with His lullabies.


And most important:

Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

Whatever’s going on in our lives, nothing catches God by surprise! He doesn’t fall asleep and miss something. His eyes are on us 24/7.

Praise the Lord!
Sweet dreams!
Grandson, Rafael

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I’ve got lots of flip-flops.

Simple ones. Fancy ones. Lots of colors.

Comfy, cool – perfect for running around in the heat of west Texas.

In recent years, the idea of flip-flop took on a whole new meaning. We hear it particularly during an election season.

“Senator so-and-so changed his mind on XYZ issue! You can’t trust anything he says because you never know when he’ll flip-flop. That’s why you should vote for me!”

“The mayor changes his mind whenever the wind blows. He goes with what’s easy, what’s expedient. We don’t need a flip-flopper in office. So vote for me!”


We hate to admit it but we’ve all done our share of flip-flopping.

We sit in church and nod our heads at the preacher’s words and then we go home.


We hold to our standards until we face a decision with family or friends. Then we go the easy route.


How wonderful it is to know that God loves flip-floppers!

He doesn’t give up.

He points it out to us when our lives don’t match what we claim to believe.

He gives us the strength to hold to our standards without a holier-than-thou attitude.

He offers forgiveness, over and over again. When we fall, He sets us back on solid ground.

He chooses

  • He chooses to indwell us flip-floppers.
  • He chooses to love us, no matter how many times we fall.
  • He chooses to walk beside us, lighting our paths.
The closer He draws us to himself, the more we experience His incomprehensible love and grace.

Just remember, it’s not a license to flip-flop.
It’s an invitation to deepen your faith.

When have you been amazed by God's patience?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Excerpt from Storms of Life, Purple: Soveriegnty

Here we are, at the last color of the rainbow, the last color of God's grace that carries us through a storm.

Purple...the rich, beautiful color of royalty. We envision kings and queens in flowing purple robes. Sovereign kings whose word is law. Almost no one sees the kings of this world. They are inaccessible, sitting on thrones in throne rooms where their subjects never enter.
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Is He sovereign? Yes. Is He in complete control over our lives? Without a doubt.
Storms of Life Chapter 4, Day 5
"Deep in my heart I always want God to see things my way. I lay it all out for Him in utmost logic with three-color diagrams; surely He’ll agree with me. How my heart rebels when I hear His gentle voice tell me He’ll walk through the storm with me. I never want to walk through it—over it, around it, but never through it! A wise friend once told me the most difficult thing to accept about God is His sovereignty. He is the Lord. He is in complete control. If you and I have been purchased with the blood of His Son, then God the Father is sovereign in our lives. No circumstance is ever
allowed into our lives without purpose, without His love, grace, and mercy."

Jesus is the sovereign King over all the earth. So what makes Him different from every earthly ruler? There are no walls surrounding His throne room, we can enter freely. There are no guards restricting access. He's with us 24/7. We are the Lord's beloved children, known by Him and cherished by Him.
Storms of Life Chapter 6, Day 3
"Before you were born, God had planned every day of your life (Psalm 139:14–16). His name is I AM—not I WAS or I MIGHT BE (Exodus 3:14)! He moves above time, and all your tomorrows are known to Him. You can trust His sovereignty. His wisdom is perfect and His knowledge is unfathomable (Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 40:28). You can trust His love. He carries you tenderly in His arms as a shepherd carries a beloved lamb (Isaiah 40:11)."
But...He is sovereign, in complete control. That's hard for us humans to accept. We want to make our own decisions. We want to control our own lives.
Why is it we trust ourselves to make our life choices but we don't trust our Father who is full of mercy and grace? Why do we insist on relying on our own understanding when our Father's is beyond our comprehension?  
He loves us beyond measure.
He never leaves us or forsakes us
He never pushes us into a storm, He leads us through it.
He walks beside us every step of the way. 

Exodus 34:6: The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

What a marvelous God, one we can trust with our lives.

He is indeed the King of kings!  

When has God's sovereignty in your life been hard to accept?
How did He prove His trustworthiness to you?
We've looked at the rainbow colors of God's grace. Which one is ministering to you in your current situation?

If this post blesses you, please share.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Excerpt from Storms of Life, Indigo: Contentment

Sandwiched between the calm of blue and the sovereignty of violet, sits the rich color, indigo.

Trusting God's provision in the face of suffering: contentment.

Storms of Life Chapter 7, Day 3

"Being content in God’s will or in the situations He allows to occur means you have to let go of what you want, and submit to what He wants for you. It may not make sense; it may be painful. You must trust His love and draw on Jesus’ strength.

 Contentment is the peace that comes when we trust that God is in control of the events in our lives. When we understand that His sovereignty is steering our circumstances to complete His work in us and to prepare us for eternity, we can rest in the faithfulness of His love. To be content is not to be happy with the path we walk but to be secure in the knowledge His purposes are perfect."

Paul described this in Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Being content isn’t easy – in fact, sometimes it seems downright impossible. We don’t want to believe that pain is part of God’s plan. “A loving God would never allow this!”

The problem is that we can’t see past the end of our noses. Even if we could, we wouldn’t understand God’s purposes, anyway..

We’ve all heard the analogy that we can’t see the beautiful tapestry He’s weaving using the events of our lives. But when it hurts, I must confess, I don’t care about any tapestries! I care about today’s suffering!

So, how do we get from frustration to contentment?

Surrender: grin and bear it?

Faith: blindly accept it?

Trust: no doubts, regardless?

Paul doesn’t mention any of these. Read it again: through him [Jesus] who gives me strength.

Paul might not have the faith to see God’s purpose, but he doesn’t need to. He knows Jesus is with him to give him the strength he needs. Paul depends on Jesus!

He doesn’t depend on his circumstances to be content. That would be a mistake.

He doesn’t depend on people around him. They’ll let him down.

He depends on Jesus. Jesus never lets him down. He never lets us down.

Believe in the love and authority of your Father to be in control of every situation:
The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23

Try not to envy other's situations. That's a hard one for me. "Why doesn't so-and-so have to deal with this?"
Keep your lives free from the love of money [any blessing] and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Try not to demand that God fix it or provide what you think you need, right now!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
 When has the Spirit enabled you to be content during difficult times?

If this post blesses you, please share.

Next post: Purple - Sovereignty

Monday, March 3, 2014

Excerpt from Storms of Life, Blue: Calm

Storms of Life Chapter 3, Day 5
As the storm intensified, the disciples shook Jesus and cried out, 'Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?' Don’t You care? . . . How often I’ve said that to Him.
'Don’t You care if I drown in assignments at work?'
'Don’t You care if I’m overwhelmed by the continual demands of my toddler?'
'Don’t You care if my finances are a wreck?'
Why do I use the turmoil in my day as a measure of His love for me?
When Jesus heard the cry of the disciples, He immediately rebuked the storm and all became quiet. Don’t you wish He’d stand in the midst of your storm and silence it? Often He doesn’t choose to do that, but He can calm the whirlwind  in your heart and mind. Only Jesus can bring peace as the storm rages. Only Jesus can keep your feet on the Solid Rock when everything is shifting under your feet.”

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, is a complex of several buildings. A tunnel connects the two largest buildings As you walk through the tunnel, the color of the walls change.

It's amazing how our sensations and emotions are affected just by the colors around us. When the tunnel walls are blue, people feel cool and calm.

Feeling calm during the height of a crisis seems impossible but the Holy Spirit can infuse our hearts and minds with calm.

Some are able to take a deep breath and calm their spirits but I've never been good at that. God has to pull me out of my pity party remind me of His grace.

A walk in the park. The blue sky of summer, the songs of the birds, the smell
of the flowers...The crisp air of winter, the crunch of snow beneath our feet, the bare branches with their promise of spring, the winter birds pecking in the snow...
These help us to move our focus off the fear and listen to God's calming voice.

Time with a friend. Someone to listen, someone to pray with, someone to drag us out shopping. A friend's love wraps around our aching hearts and reminds us of God's precious promises.

 Allow God to show you how to calm your heart: Music? Playing with your pets?  Coffee with a friend? A lighthearted book or a funny movie?

Let Him lift your spirits and soothe your mind.

How do you quiet your mind in the middle of the storm?

If this post blesses you, please share.

Next post: Indigo - Contentment