Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Farmer

"Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life." Galatians 6:7-8 (The Message)

I come from a long line of farmers. My grandfather was a farmer & rancher, his father, my great grandfather was a farmer/rancher. I love to grow things and have tried to install in our boys the love of the feel of the dirt in their hands and the excitement of taking something as small as a little black seed and get a watermelon.

Not all of us are farmers of the land. But we are all planters of the spirit. We all have the ability to plant seeds of encouragement, wisdom and love. We all have the ability to raise someone's self-esteem, make the weight of their life that is on their shoulders, lighter, help the unloved to feel loved.

It doesn't take a talent. It doesn't take a college course or a BA degree. All it takes is a little bit of time of unfocusing on ourselves and focusing on someone else. Of seeing someone or a situation from God's perspective and see the potental. It takes empathy. Compassion.

It seems that we sometimes turn a blind to the empathy/compassion part of our Christian walk. After all, you are so very busy. Your calendar is packed full. And anyway, aren't there county-runned programs that help people? There's the Salvation Army, Manna House, Red Cross. And while these are wonderful agencies, they cannot--and should not--take away our Christian responsibility of planting compassion, empathy and good old fashioned brotherly/sisterly love.

Jesus is our true example. He sowed these exact seeds in every situation He came into. The woman with the bleeding problem. The man on the stretcher, being let down through the roof. The woman at the well. The blind man. The man with leprosy. The robber hanging on the cross next to Him. The list could go on.

I dare you! I lovingly dare you to be a farmer in the field that your Heavenly Father has commissioned you to plant. A quick word to the wise--you are always commissioned to plant, but you may not always see your harvest. So, please don't be discouraged. Remember, on a farm there are many farmhands.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Horse Sense

"So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God." Hebrews 6:1 NLT

I have a friend that told this story. He loved horses. Had been around horses a lot during his adult life. So, he had been asking God for a horse. A horse would help him in his second job and also would be a great way to relax.

Well, his Heavenly Father answered his prayer request and gave him a horse. And it truly was a gift because this horse was given to him. The horse was named Pinto Joe. As far as horses go, he was beautiful, strong and seemed well-mannered. So, in the beginning, during the honeymoon period, as most honeymoon periods go, my friend and Pinto Joe became fast friends. They enjoyed each other's company and respected each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Then, as most honeymoon period go, it ended. Pinto Joe was becoming surly. He started playing games with his master--wanting to be the dominate one. Well, in turn, that caused my friend to stop trusting Pinto Joe. My friend didn't know from day-to-day, what kind of new game Pinto Joe would try on him. So that caused distrust, frustration and all thought of a relaxing horse ride was gone. The joy was gone.

What to do? Well, trade him in. Get a model that was dependable. And that is what he did. He took Pinto Joe to a horse trader friend to get a more discipline ride--one that was more mature perhaps or one who was mellower.

When the horse trader friend, Sam, saw Pinto Joe, he saw something else. Something that my friend had started to overlook in his frustration, in his distrust. Pinto Joe had potential. He had the beginnings of a great companion--he just needed a little training, a little horse etiquette schooling.

Sam approached my friend, asking if he could have permission to have Pinto Joe for a couple of weeks and see what he could do with him. Sam was given permission.

When my friend came back in a couple of weeks, he had a new horse! It was the same Pinto Joe on the outside but on the inside--the spirit--it was different. It was a calmer, more mature, gentler horse spirit. And what a joy to be around!

I hear this story and it reminds me of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. How many times have we been like Pinto Joe--calming and wanting to please our Heavenly Father when we first come into a relationship with Him--but as the honeymoon period is over, we want to control our Father instead of allowing Him to control us? Of course, we know better than Him. We start playing games, with ourselves and God.

But if given the chance, if we resubmit ourselves to the Father's gentle hand, go back to His feet, His table, His word--we can become more mature. A better model to be able to serve our Master.

Think about that in your walk today. Are you becoming surly, a mischievous game player or are you a trusted, true-blue Christ-follower? The choice is yours.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What?! Me Worry?

"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them." Matthew 6:25-29 (The Message)

On Monday morning on my way to work, I discovered a new Christian radio station, 99.9. I don't know who the speaker was, but yesterday and today, on my way to work, I turned on the radio and the message was the very same. Same verses, same person speaking, same message. The verse was Matthew 6:25-29, (though not this version).

So, I chuckled at God and ask,"Are you trying to tell me something?" And I heard back, "No, not really. But I am showing you something so that you can share with others." Fair enough I thought.

You see, where I work, I get confronted with worried voices on the end of a phone call all the time. People come into my office, worried, confused, frustrated. It's a worried time of life. Money, relationships, family, jobs, sickness--we are confronted with it all the time. And with my personality, I want to fix everyone--help make their pain go away--even though I know that is not my place. It's God's.

What brings it into prospective is this--society teaches us to fret, to worry, to try to control everything in your life and we can't. We aren't made to. But the version above puts it so plainly. Out of all the times you have fretted, has it helped give you peace? Has it made the problems go away? I dare say, no--it has only compounded the troubles.

But if you give it all to your Heavenly Father, if you truly give it ALL to Him--Wow! What a release! What a sense of peace. A weight off your shoulders. The sunshine can brilliantly shine in your life again. You can wake up excitedly looking forward to the gift of the new day and all it's promises. And praise your Father for it.

Do you ever see a bird looking worried or a flower looking naked? No. Why? Because they don't even question their welfare--they instinctly know that their Maker is looking out for their best interest. So if them, why not you? God loves all His creations--but He loves you best.

We all worry from time-to-time, it seems like it's a part of our DNA--but don't hang on to it. Not even for a moment. What to do? Pray. God's too busy. Pray. I prayed yesterday and it didn't seem to help. Pray. Pray until you have truly given and left it on the Lord's lap. Then that is when true peace will come. Peace that withstands all understanding.

And intertwining through all of this is faith. Faith in your Heavenly Father's care for you--no matter what your experience with your earthly father has been.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random Acts

"'Plant goodness,
harvest the fruit of loyalty,
plow the new ground of knowledge.
Look for the Lord until he comes
and pours goodness on you like water.'" Hosea 10:12 NCV

Do you realize the power of the tongue? The Lord did. Remember when Zechariah doubted the Angel Gabriel, when he was told that his wife, Elizabeth was to have a child, what did the Lord do? He took away Zechariah's gift of speech until the baby, John the Baptist, was born. The proverbs are full of warnings of loose tongues, wicked tongues, a tongue that is like a double-edged sword--these are all warnings--reminders--of the power of the tongue. Of words.

It's a power that should be used ever so wisely. Just as a word can tear down a soul--it can just as easily build one up. We should endeavor to use our gift of tongue to build people up. To lighten their load. To add a spark of sunlight into their life.

Have you ever noticed how a kind word spoken cheers up someone who's down? How, when you plant a seed of kindness--whether in word or deed--the person seems to walk away a little bit taller, a lightened step, a sparkle in their eyes?

In this time when there is so much sadness, so much loneliness, so much emptiness, why not try to make a difference and do 'random acts of kindness.' You will never know how your acts/words of kindness will affect another's life.

After all, isn't that what Jesus did for you? As He was hanging on the cross, that was His ultimate 'random act of kindness' for you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just Do It!

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5 NASB

Did you read this verse and say, "Hello! How can you seriously expect me to have the same attitude in myself as Christ Jesus did? He's God! He's perfect! I'm me--I'm human! I can never be like Him!"

I don't think that the apostle Paul meant the verse to mean that we are to have exactly the same attitude as Christ did--the point here is to strive to have the same attitude in yourself as Christ did. To be as close as you can, to be as genuinely Christ-like as possible with your thinking, reactions and words.

God doesn't expect us to be perfect. He doesn't love you more when you do good and love you less when you do bad. Unlike the love of the world--that tends to ride on the wave of acts and feelings--Your Father's love for you is a constant beacon. The same yesterday, today and tomorrow. But while He loves you just the way you are, it doesn't mean that He won't try to better you and make you stronger.

Your Heavenly Father won't love you stronger if your faith was stronger and His acceptance of you wouldn't be deeper if you had deeper thoughts. It just is. That's all that is needed.

Do you want to find that love? Do you need to change a few things in your life so that you can have that blessful, deep, committed love that only your Father can give you? Change. Ask your Heavenly Father for help and ask for forgiveness and just do it!

Monday, April 19, 2010


"God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left." Lamentations 3:22-27 (The Message)

My Grandpa Carter was this very special man that the Lord put in my life. I was so blessed to live just down the hill from him so that we could share everyday life.

As a child, you know, you can go through those times when you feel unloved, unfairly treated, nobody's friend. When I did, I could go to Papa, knowing that he loved me forever and true and I didn't have to be anyone but myself. He made me feel that he loved being with me--that I was so special to him. I knew that he loved all his grandchildren and they all knew he loved them. But it was also known that I was his special one. And he didn't do anything, as in giving me presents all the time, or anything like that. It was just that look that he gave me, that twinkle in his eye, his words of kindness.

It wasn't something to flaunt--it was something to cherish. And I truly did.

God has a way of knowing our needs before we do and having a solution already lined up. He knew that I would be fighting insecurity all of my life and--at least while Papa was alive--he placed us together to counteract that hole.

This is what your Heavenly Father does for you--if you let Him. His love for you will NEVER end. Even when you turn your back on Him, when you close your heart to Him--His love will NEVER run out. His graciousness is a fountain that does not know the word drought.

This kind of love is sometimes hard to take, to behold, to accept--but nonetheless, it's there. It's the kind of love that makes you want to do your darnedest not to let Him down. To disappoint Him.

Do you understand the depth? Do you know the feeling? So many times, just knowing that my Heavenly Father accepted me and loved me, got me through a lot of trying times. He was my anchor--I was 'stuck' with Him, and He with me. He was all I had left.

How about you? Do you want to be 'stuck' with God? To say that in the end, He was all that you had left? All you have to do is invite Him in. What a legacy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Forever Faithful

"I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out my troubles in detail." Psalm 142:1 (The Message)

Do you ever feel that there is no one that really listens to you? That your friends and family are just too busy to take the time and truly hear what you are trying to say? It's such a lonely, sad feeling, isn't it?

They don't mean to be that way. They probably have even tried very hard to be there for you, but maybe they are in a sad spot too. Maybe they need to have someone truly listen to them. So, they are just as empty as you.

Jesus. Jesus is ALWAYS there. He ALWAYS has time for you. He hears your voice and instantly, He is intently, carefully, soulfully--listening to your every word. Do you ever feel that? There are times when I am in a sad spot and I know I can talk to Him about all my silliness, my insecurities, my hurts, my confusion and He hears. He's listening, just to me. He's not judging or half listening or multi-tasking--He's focused just on me, my words, my feelings. Why? Because He loves me. Because He loves you.

Please, never feel that you are just one in a billion. Don't deny yourself the peace that can come when you share yourself with your Father and allow Him to comfort you--to share His wisdom with you. How can you allow Him to share His love, comfort and wisdom? Listen. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with sharing the complaints, troubles, insecurities, etc. and forget to listen.

It's a three-step process: 1. Pray (share/talk) with your Father.; 2. Stop & truly listen to your Father's advice/wisdom.; 3. Remember to thank Him. Thank Him sincerely and from the depths of your spirit. (Dads love that!)

Do you have a faithful forever friend? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Too Hard?

"Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?" Genesis 18:14 (Amplified Bible)

You have probably heard this verse many a time. But when I stumbled onto this version that stated 'too hard OR too wonderful', it made me stop. I hadn't heard it quite this way before and I liked the image.

Is there anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord? The obvious answer is 'No.' After all, He is the Creator of ALL things. Anyone who has experienced any one of the millions and millions things that we see and experience everyday, knows that there is nothing too hard or too wonderful for our Lord.

Just think of the stars and the wildflowers, the millions of bugs--not too hard or wonderful. Coming down from heaven in a form of an innocent, helpless baby, sacrificing Himself and dying on the cross for us, for you--not too hard or wonderful.

May I dare to say, that if there is anything, anything at all too hard for our Lord--it's this--allowing us to make the wrong choices and go down wrong paths, time and time again, because of free will.

I'm sure that it's like a mother and father that is allowing their child to learn on their own to take their first steps, that first ride on their bike without training wheels, to stand up for themselves to the bully in school--having to sit back, hoping for the best but nervous about the outcome. Every fiber of their body is saying, 'protect, help, save.' Do you ever think that He has similar feelings? I think He does, except He's not hoping for the best--He already knows what the outcome will be.

What do you think? Do you think that loving you and having faith in you is too hard for your Lord? No--it's not too hard or too wonderful for Him at all!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Unseen Love

"You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy." 1 Peter 1:8 NLT

Is it hard for you to imagine loving something or someone even though you have never experienced them? Being a mom, there has been two times that I have loved someone without even seeing them--yup, our two sons. I loved those little people that was growing inside of me more than I could ever imagine.

So, I can find it pretty easy to imagine loving something and not seeing it, but trusting it? That's a little different. Trusting something and seeing it is hard enough. But to have to trust and not seeing--well, that's a little crazy--it's called faith.

Here is a question. When you look out at the beauty of the forest, or the enormousness of the ocean, the depth of blue sky against the white caps of snow covered mountains, the cry of a newborn, the wrinkled eyes of a wise old person, the sound of your spouse praying with your children--how can you say that you have not seen Him? He is everywhere and in everything.

Jesus is in the good, the bad and the ugly. He's in the good to make it joyful--He's in the bad to make the bad better and He's in the ugly to make it beautiful.

Jesus has loved you even before you were conceived. He knew your potential, He knew your weaknesses. He loved you and had faith in you. How about giving back the same?

Monday, April 12, 2010


"Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.'

Jesus replied, 'I have been with you all this time, Philip, yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father. So why are you asking me to show Him to you? Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?'" John 14:8-10 NLT

Do you sense the frustration in Jesus' voice and words? Here He has had this friendship with Philip and still Philip seems to be clueless to who Jesus really is. This friend has been with Jesus, apparently a pretty long time--if you read His words, "I have been with you all this time...", and he still has the nerve to ask Jesus to show proof of who He says He is?

It may seem incredulous to you and me, that Philip would have the opportunity to hang out with Jesus, be a close friend, experience first-hand the miracles, the essence of Him, and yet not really know or be able to comprehend who He really was--but is it?

How many times to we make Jesus reveal to us who He is? How many times does our words and actions contradict our words when we say we have faith?

Jesus is what Jesus says He is. Faith is knowing that and not having to have pictures, affidavits or eye witnesses. It is as simple as that--just knowing and accepting.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome Home!

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him" 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

Is it hard for you to imagine what Heaven is like? Can you picture how it must be when you arrive? I do. At times, to be totally honest, my human side does worry. Nobody really knows what Heaven's going to be like. I worry that I may not make it there. Do you?

I think that the reason that I have a hard time conceiving God's graciousness is this--because at times I tend to put the shallowness and conditional love emotions that we humans use on each other, as the way the Father looks at us. And it's not even an issue.

Our Father loves us sooo unconditionally and completely, with a depth that we can't even begin to understand. And that is somewhat hard for our minds to accept. What? My God knows my every thought, my every sin, my every shortcoming and He has prepared a place for me? Yes! Why would He do that? Because while He does know all of our dark and shadowy places inside of us, He also knows the strides we have made to be what He wants us to be. He knows our hearts and our spirits and our desire to try to serve and be what He has prepared us to be.

Unlike the world, when it is our time to go to the place He has prepared for us--Heaven--He won't be judging us from the outside but from the heart. He will take you aside, and welcome you with a great big bear hug. You know, like a friend that you haven't seen in a long while, but as soon as you see each other, it's like a day hasn't gone by. You fall into each other's arms and the feeling is so familiar, so comforting, so natural--and why? Because you're home...yes, you're home!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


"You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." Matthew 5:15 (The Message)

Ever notice the beauty of a rainbow after a storm? Ever really looked at the vibrant colors of fall, winter, spring and summer? Been on the sidelines of a large crowd and seen all the glorious color of people?

Get the impression that God loves color? That He isn't just a monotone kind of guy? Colors and light and openness are some of His favorite things.

This is what He is asking of us. To be the light in your world that will shine, reflect and bring out the God-colors to the world--to the lonely, lost, unhappy, confused--the list could go on. To share your life--the good, bad, ugly & continuing growing--parts. Why? So that others can see that our God is a generous and forgiving God and loves and wants an open relationship with all of us--not just the perfect. That to Him, as we strive to be His child, we are the most beautiful God-color there is!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inner Workout

"I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:19 (The Message)

I have a niece who is 12. My sister, her mom, found out that she had about 8 different myspace personalities. And with each of these personalities, she was a different person. In one, she was a lot older, in another, she was in a different part of the country--the list went on. It's a dangerous game to play, but she doesn't realize this. She just wants to be accepted and loved by her peers.

I know a young woman in church. She just wants to be loved and cherished. But all her life, she has been the victim. She has been victimized and now, to this day, she has--in a sense--victimized herself by herself because she puts off all these protective measures so that people can't get close.

A heart has to go out to these people. I've been there--have you? These are only two out how many in this world that just want to feel loved, cherished, accepted, for who they are. Have you noticed that the more the world takes Jesus and faith out of it's society, the more insecure that people feel?

"I asked him to strengthen you by His Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength." What we need to do is exactly this--pray for the Lord to strengthen us inward out. Inner strength goes so much farther than just mere outer, physical strength. Isn't it beautiful the way that The Message puts it?

Please know that those times when you wish that you were someone else. When you feel that you are a total failure and it's no wonder that no one loves you. You're wrong. Someone loves you just as you are. You are just what He wants. You are His child. Turn to that glorious inner strength and plant your two feet firmly on that knowledge.

Don't get me wrong. We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. And we need to strive to turn from our old sinful ways, humbly ask for forgiveness and serve Him to the best of our ability. The difference is that at times, we look at ourselves with eyes that loath ourselves because we see only the sin. But God, who designed you just the perfect you, sees only that--your perfection.

Take time to strengthen that glorious inner strength. We take time to work out and strengthen our bodies--isn't this more important? How? Once again, the answer is prayer and being in the Word--the Bible. The power of prayer and of the Word is no clique. It is real.

Monday, April 5, 2010


"If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ's love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own."
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (The Message)

Paul is the writer of this book. I love the opening line--"If I acted crazy, I did it for God"--have you ever experienced a giddiness in your walk with the Lord? Like there are times when you are experiencing Him and all of a sudden, you feel this uncontrollable laughter inside of you, bursting to get out? Well, you may feel like you're acting a little silly. If someone was near you, watching you, they may think that you're being a little crazy. You can be crazy in the spirit and be OK. Do you know what it is called? It's called having the joy of the Lord spilling out all over you and anyone near you. Isn't that glorious?!

Then on the other hand, if you have someone in your life (and this could include yourself), that is on the verge of making the wrong decision, going down the wrong path, you can, and maybe should, get real serious, real fast. It's a matter of life and death. It's not a laughing matter. There's a life to save and there's no time for fun and games.

Having Christ in your life and living a Christful life, can and at times, will--give you both extremes. Full of, what they use to call, schoolgirl giddiness to the opposite extreme, seriousness that is nobody's business.

Jesus died for EVERYONE. Not just for the highly educated. Not for the beautiful people. Not for the wealthy. Not for anyone who has anything or who is anybody. Jesus died for us ALL. It doesn't matter to Him if you have been perfect since the day you were conceived or as bad as the day is long. Jesus sees us all the same.

I love how Paul puts it--"One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat." Do you noticed that? Have you noticed that when a catastrophe happens--on the norm--it doesn't matter who you are, where on the social ladder you happen to be, what ethnic background you have--the drama is happening to all of us and we tend to try to help each other out? At that moment, we are all equal. We are all on the same playing field, sharing the same rules.

To Jesus, we are all His very special children. To Him, you, yes you, are His and His only. When you are praying to Him, the other millions of people that He has created, fade into the background and for that very special time that you and Him are talking and sharing, that intimate time that is just between you and Him--is just that. Intimate-just between you and Him.

Please, don't get me wrong. He loves us all the same, yet at the same time, He can love us individually in a special way that is an unique relationship that only you and Him have. That is one reason your prayer life is SO very important. You need to have a healthy prayer life with Him to have a healthy Christ-center relationship with Him. Do you understand that?

Still think that you don't matter? That a prayful (communicating) life with your Father isn't important? Think again. I think you know better!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tea Time!

"And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand."
Isaiah 64:8 NLT

There was a couple who took a trip to England to shop in a beautiful antique store to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups.

Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked, "May we see that? We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful."

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke, "You don't understand. I have not always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me, over and over and I yelled out, "Don't do that. I don't like it! Leave me alone!" But He only smiled and gently said, "Not yet."

Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was made to suit Himself and then He put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. "Help! Get me out of here!" I could see Him through the opening and I could read His lips as He shook His head from side to side, "Not yet."

When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! "Ah, this is much better," I thought.

But after I cooled, He picked me up and He brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. "Oh, please, stop it, stop!" I cried. He only shook His head and said, "Not yet."

Then suddenly, He puts me back into the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then, the door opened and He took me out and again, placed me on the shelf, where I waited and waited, wondering, "What's He going to do to me next?"

An hour later, He handed me a mirror and said, "Look at yourself." And I did. I said, "That's not me. That couldn't be me. It's beautiful! I'm beautiful!"

Quietly He spoke, "I want you to remember. I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted. But had I just left you alone, you'd have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you."

I know this is a long story, but it has such a great moral. The moral is this--God knows what He's doing for each of us. He is the--your--potter, and you are His clay. He will mold you and make you and expose you to just enough pressures, of just the right kinds, so that you may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good--pleasing and perfect.

So, when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed, almost beyond endurance, when your world seems to be spinning out of control, when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials, when life seems to 'stink', try this--make yourself a cup of tea in your favorite cup, sit down, think on this story and then, have a little talk with your Potter.