Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Children are a gift from God; they are his reward. - Psalms 127:3 (TLB)

     Randy sat at his desk staring at the computer screen before him. He was trying to work on next Sunday’s Sunday School lesson, but like the screen before him, his mind was blank. “O,Lord,” he called out “What should my topic be?” but all he heard in return was someone singing.

     “Mama and Papa sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Mama and the baby carriage.” Came the words of an old familiar song. How often his little sister would tease him with it when he was dating Daisy but it wasn’t his little sister singing, it was Stella and she was coming down the hall to his office.

     “I just learned a secret from Mindy,” She said as she walked through the door, “Or was it Cindy, I’m always mixing them up.” “Is that why your singing that song?” Randy asked as he looked up from his blank screen. “Sort of.” Stella responded and than started singing again. “Well, that’s nice,” Randy told, “Now run along, I’ve got work to do.” But Stella didn’t leave.

     “Is something wrong?” Randy asked a few minutes later. “Don’t you want to know what the secret is?” Stella asked . “No” Randy told her. “Aren’t you even curious?” Stella asked in return. “No.” Randy told her again but that didn’t stop her from telling her little secret. “I learned where babies come from!” she blurted out.

     “What was that” Randy coughed and sputtered “Cindy told me where babies come from” Stella replied, “So do you want to know too?” she asked. “I already do” Randy quickly told her and started to think of some way to change the subject. “And you do you know what else?” Stella added, “I think the stork made a big mistake.”

     “Stork?” Randy said with a puzzled look, “What stork?” “The one that brings the babies, Silly” Stella answered, “And I think he made a big mistake when he brought Harold to our house.” “Oh, that stork” Randy said with a chuckle.

     “By the way” Stella started to ask, “So you know the stork’s address?” “No, I don’t think I do” Randy replied, “Why do you need to know” “I want to ask him to bring me a baby sister and see if he’ll take Harold back.” “Knowing Harold, I can see why you would want to send him back.” Randy smiled as he turned back to his blank screen but now he had an idea for his Sunday School lesson.

     Psalms 127:3 says Children are a gift from God; they are his reward. (TLB) It may be fun to talk of storks that bring us children but we need to remember that each child is a gift from God. To help illustrate this idea let's look at three different stories in the Old Testament.

     The first story is Hannah's story and can be found in 1 Samuel 1:1-6. One of the first things we learn about Hannah is the fact that she is one of two wives belonging to her husband. We than learn that she had bore no children while her husband's other wife had. And while she was loved by her husband more than his other wife, she was constantly ridiculed for not having bore children which we learn was a result of God closing her womb.

     Our next story revolves around a man named Abimelech and his story is found in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a king and like most kings he collected many wives for himself. Well, this time he collected another man's wife after as because of a lie and as a result his other wife and his maids cease to be able to have children for God had close their wombs.

     In our third story we turn to Genesis 30:1-2. where we read of Rachel's dilemma. Rachel had an older sister name Leah and they were both married to the same man. Because Leah was not loved as much as Rachel was, God allowed her to have children but kept Rachel barren. Needless to say, this caused problems in Jacob's household and in verse 1 Rachel demands that her husband giver her children or she would die. This didn't set too well with Jacob and in the following verse he replies “Am I in the place of God , who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?

     There were two things Jacob knew. First, he knew he wasn’t God. Second, he knew that children originate with God.

     When we look at all three of these stories, we can see that what Jacob knew was and still is true. In each story we can see that children were desired but it was by God's choice they children were not being born for children are His gift to us.

     Psalms 127:3-5 reads Children are a gift from God; they are his reward. Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows to defend him. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. That man shall have the help he needs when arguing with his enemies. (TLB) To that let's add Psalm 113:9 - He gives children to the childless wife, so that she becomes a happy mother. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.

     The Psalmist recognizes God as the giver and creator of life when he writes in Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you see children as a blessing or a nuisance?
  • We were all once children if we're not still

Saturday, June 23, 2012


No one can explain the things God decides or understand his ways. Romans 11:33b (NCV)

      In Isaiah 55:8 we read "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. (NASB) Have you ever been surprised by the way God works things out? Harold was about to receive a one of those surprises, one he never could have imagined - and Harold’s got a great imagination.

     As Harold flopped himself down at the table in His grandparents’ kitchen he looked over at his Grandpa Robert and said “I still can’t believe it.” “Believe what?” Robert asked him. “Why Stella would ever do such a thing?” Harold told him “Do what?” Robert asked. “You, know Grandpa.” Harold replied, “Lose Muffy. I would never do anything like that.”

     “NEVER?” Robert had to question for he knew what his grandson was like. “I never do anything wrong.” Harold quickly replied. But Robert could only shake his head, “If I were to make a list of all the things you’ve done wrong,” he said, “I would have to buy a semi load of paper.” “Yeah, right.” scoffed Harold, “Next you’ll be saying Stella learned her trick from me.”

     After a bit of silence, Robert decided it was time to fill Harold in a few facts about Muffy. “You know, Harold.” he said, “I don’t think Muffy was really lost.” “Of course he was.” Harold reminded his Grandpa, “Stella said so.” “I know,” Robert replied, “But you and Muffy go through the woods a lot and Muffy knew HER way back home.” “I never thought of that.” Harold said with a humph

     “Muffy didn’t come back,” Robert continued explaining, “Because SHE had a special reason to stay.” “Grandpa,” Harold interrupted, “Muffy was a HE not a SHE.” “Did I say SHE.” Robert asked with a smile. “Yes you did.” Harold let him know. “Well,” Robert continued, “I said SHE because Muffy was a SHE and SHE didn’t come back because SHE had seven puppies out there in the woods and they all look like her.”

     “P-U-P-P-I-E-S!!!” Harold shouted in surprise. “What am I going to do with seven puppies?” “I suppose you could give them away” Robert suggested. “But who would I give them too?”: Harold asked “I can think of several people,” Robert answered, “Starting with your sister.”

     “Give one to Stella?” Harold questioned. “She’s hurting too,” Robert answered, “And I think a puppy would cheer her up.” Well,” Harold said after thinking about it for awhile, “I suppose I could and maybe I could give one to Barney and Tracy too.” “I’ll help you.” Robert told him, “Let’s go to the woods and get them.”

     Would you say you like surprises? I suppose it might depend on the type of surprise, if it was a dividend or am unexpected bill. Do you suppose Harold was surprised to find out Muffy was a she and had 7 puppies? Do you think Stella will be surprised when Harold gives her a puppy? For good or for bad, surprises are a part of life. When we read the Bible we find many people receiving surprises - Let's look at a few.

     The first one I'll look at is found in 2 Samuel 12 and comes int the from of a “I know what you did.” David, although he was called a man after God's own heart, was still human and he sinned by getting another man's wife pregnant and than in an attempt to cover it up he had the woman's husband killed. All seemed to go fine till Nathan showed up. To make a long story short, He had to tell David surprise! God saw everything and you're going to be punished.

     Sarah received her surprise in Genesis 18. She was likely minding her own business when three strangers showed up. They must have been important the way her husband treated them and than she heard one of them say she would have a baby. Now having a baby might not be a surprise if your young but Sarah was old – closing in on 90. When she heard she was to have a baby she laughed as if to say no-way. A few months later I'm sure she was surprised to find out she was pregnant.

     Peter was a fisherman by trade and in Luke 5 he'd been out fishing all night but had nothing to show for it. Jesus told him to try casting his nets in the water one more time. Not thinking it would do any good he did it any way because Jesus had told him to and was he ever surprised. He caught so many fish his nets began to break and his boat began to sink.

     Sitting in a Roman jail with no hope of release, Barabbas was just waiting to be for the day when he was to be killed for the crimes he had committed. But that's not what we read in Matthew 27. Soon the fateful day came or so he thought. Prepared for the worst he must have been greatly surprised when he was told he was to go free and some man named Jesus was to be crucified instead.

     It had been three days since she had seen Jesus crucified, three days since His body had been laid in a tomb and sealed in and now, Mary Magdalene wanted to go see the dead body. When she got to the tomb was she in for the surprise of her life. Instead of a dead body in the tomb their were two angels and the man standing outside whom she thought was the gardener was Jesus and He was alive.

     As you go looking through the Bible you'll find many more surprises. As you look back on your life you'll find you've been surprised many times and chances are you'll be surprised again.

     I think God likes to surprise us and I think He will because His ways are so much better than ours. Isaiah 55:8-9 says The LORD says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (NCV) Because God's ways are not our ways we often find ourselves being surprised and sometimes for good and sometimes for worse. Let's be thankful for God's greatest surprise – the risen Lord.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • How has God surprised you?
  • How do you react to the surprises in your life?

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ. - Ephesians 4:32b (TEV)

      Sometimes, it can be very hard to tell the truth, sometimes, it can be very hard to hear the truth. For the Peterson kids, Stella and Harold, this was to become a bold reality.

     Harold, had been grieving all week. In an attempt to try and cheer him up, Harold’s dad, Bill, helped him have a funeral for Muffy and to bury him, he even put a cross up on the grave. All Bill’s efforts seemed to be working and Harold was starting to cheer up but that was soon to come to an end.

     Although it had been nearly a week since Muffy had fought with the bear saving Stella’s life and giving his in the process, Harold hadn’t yet heard the whole story as to why. Stella was about to tell him.

     “What are you doing here!?” Harold snapped at Stella as she stood outside his bedroom door. “I need to talk to you about Muffy.” Stella told Him. “What’s left to talk about?” Harold growled, “He’s gone now, and he’ll never chew on your toys again.” “Well, Uh,” Stella continued, “ Dad wants me to tell him the whole story about what happened to Muffy.”

     “What story? What are you talking about?” Harold asked “Well,” stammered Stella, “Remember how you thought Muffy ran away? Well, he didn’t. Barney and Tracy and I helped take Muffy away and get him lost so he would never come back” “NO!” Harold injected, “So this is all your fault!” “Muffy always got in the way and caused problems,” Stella continued, “and you wouldn’t play with us anymore.”

     “Why would I want to play with you?” Harold shouted back at his sister. “Than there was the bear cub,” Stella started to say. “And you just couldn’t resist going and petting him because he was cute.” Harold interrupted his sister again. “Yeah, and that’s when the mother bear came.” Stella continued, “We tried to run away but I tripped. Than Muffy came and fought the bear. “He saved my life,”

     Upon hearing Stella story, Harold started screaming at his sister, “So you’re the reason Muffy died.” he said, “I’ll never forgive you for that. I HATE YOU. SISTERS ARE WORTHLESS. THAT BEAR SHOULD HAVE GOT YOU INSTEAD. Than Muffy would be here and the world would have one less girl in it. I’ll never forget what you did. I’ll hate you forever.” And with those words he slammed his door in her face leaving her crying in the hallway.

      How do you respond when you learn the truth? Matthew 6:14-15 says If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. (TEV)

     Have you ever felt like Harold? Hurting, angry, and unwilling to forgive? Maybe it was a relative like Mom or Dad or a brother or a sister, etc. Maybe it was a coworker or a friend, soul-mate it might have even been an enemy or God himself that has somehow caused you to feel the way you do. And maybe it has happened one to many times and you've come to the end of your rope. Why should I forgive them – God will understand if I don't.... or will He?

     In Matthew 18:21 Peter came to Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times? (TEV) Look at how Jesus answers him in the next verse “No, not seven times but seventy times seven.” Jesus than went on to explain why with a familiar story.

     The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who decided to check on his servants' accounts. He had just begun to do so when one of them was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. The servant did not have enough to pay his debt, so the king ordered him to be sold as a slave, with his wife and his children and all that he had, in order to pay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before the king. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay you everything!' The king felt sorry for him, so he forgave him the debt and let him go. "Then the man went out and met one of his fellow servants who owed him a few dollars. He grabbed him and started choking him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he said. His fellow servant fell down and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!' But he refused; instead, he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very upset and went to the king and told him everything. So he called the servant in. 'You worthless slave!' he said. 'I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you.' The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount." And Jesus concluded, "That is how my Father in heaven will treat every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:22-35 (TEV)

     To bring this into perspective 1 talent may have been worth at that time 15 years wages which would mean he owed 150,000 years worth of wages to the king. If you make $25,000 a year that would be the same as $3,750,000,000. Which of you would be able to pay that debt – on demand.

     The other fellow, well his 100 denari was 100 days wages. If you made $10.00 and hour that would be a debt of about $8,000 (more or less depending on what you make.) compared to the first fellow his debt was almost non existent.

     We are the first fellow before God, the second fellow is any body else before us. The money is the wrongs that have been done. Do you get the picture? We need to forgive because we need even more forgiveness than we may ever have to hand out.

     God is willing to forgive us – 1 John 1:9 reminds us of that But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. (TEV) There for we need to be like God and forgive those around us - Ephesians 4:32 be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ. (TEV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • When was the last time you needed forgiveness from God?
  • When was the last time you failed to forgive some one who needed it from you?

Saturday, June 9, 2012


But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, - 2 Corinthians 12:9a

     In the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, David’s newborn son was dying and he went before the Lord and fasted in hopes that God would heal the child. Seven days later he received word that his child had died. This time God said no. Harold Peterson was about to learn that God doesn’t always say yes

     Randy was the first to find Harold as he sat in the front pew of the church crying. “Have you seen my Dad yet?” Harold asked when he saw Randy walk in, “He said he would come as soon as he got news from the vet.” “About Muffy?” Randy asked. “Yeah” Harold replied, “The vet will make him better and God won’t let him die, will he?”

     “Well, sometimes....” Randy started to tell Harold but Harold interrupted “I can’t wait till Muffy is better and we can go running around again. I keep praying and praying and praying so I know he’ll get better.” As Randy tried to finish what he had started to say, Harold’s dad Bill showed up.

     “Dad!” Harold said looking around “Where’s Muffy?” “I couldn’t bring him” came a sad reply from his dad. “Oh,” Harold said, “he has to stay there to get better. That’s okay.” “If only that was so.” Harold’s dad said, “Muffy didn’t make it.” “What do you mean?” Harold said with a puzzled look on his face, “What didn’t Muffy make?”

     “Harold.” Bill said with a lump in his throat, “Muffy died.” “No he didn’t,” Harold quickly replied, “ He’s just sleeping. I know because I prayed and God is going to make him better. When can I go and see him? I have really missed him a lot.”

     “You can’t go see him,” Bill told Harold “Muffy didn’t make it, The vet couldn’t save him. He died” “.NO! NO! NO! YOU’RE LYING!” Harold shouted back at his dad, “I’ll prove it to you. He’s still alive. He has to be alive, Randy tell him Muffy is alive.” “I can’t” came Randy’s reply “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Harold screamed and ran off. It was going to be a long night at the Peterson household.

     2 Corinthians 12:9a But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (ESV) I wish I could say everything has a happy ending but as we all know not everything does.

     Have you ever prayed for something and received an answer you didn't want? Even great men in the Bible didn't always have things turn out for them the way they wanted. Let's look briefly at three of them.

     The first of our men is David, a man who would be called “A man after God's own heart.” Of all the men in in the Bible, surely God answer David prayers with a yes, but wait, David was still human.

     In 2 Samuel 11 & 12 we read of on not so wonderful moment in David's life. While walking around on the roof of his palace he saw nude Bathsheba taking a bath and though she belonged to another, David called for her, had sex with her and got her pregnant. In attempt to cover up his ill gotten deed, he had Bathsheba's husband killed. God saw it all and as a punishment David was told that the child was going to die.

     For the next seven days David fasted and prayed to God in hopes that he might change God's mind and that he would let the child live but it was to no avail, the Child died. God had said no to David's prayer.

     The next man is the Apostle Paul. Surely God would listen to the man who wrote much of the New Testament and preached the Gospel to the Gentiles convincing many to be come Christians. Yet, like David, Paul was still human.

     Unlike David, Paul did not commit sexual immorality but he needed to be held at bay. Because of his closeness to God, He had been given special revelations and with such special privileges comes the temptation to become proud. God sent Paul a “Thorn in the Flesh” to keep him at bay. Paul didn't like it and he prayed three times to God to have it taken away. (2 Corinthians 12:7) God said no! Paul had to live with his thorn.

     There is no way God would say no to our third person or at least you would think He wouldn't say no, after all we're talking about God's Son Jesus. On top of being God's Son, he was perfect in every way but we are still human, and we have fallen short of God's glory and need redemption.

     To redeem us, God sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross. The night before he was to be killed he prayed asking God for another way but in the end, God turned His back on Jesus and left Him to die on the cross. (Luke 22 & 23)

     God doesn't always answers us the way we would like. Sometimes it's because we don't deserve an answer but other times it's because He has something better in store for us for His ways are so much better than ours. Think of these two verses
  • Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. .(ESV)
  • Psalm 18:30 The ways of God are without fault. The LORD’S words are pure. He is a shield to those who trust him. (NCV)
     The next time you pray and God doesn't answer you the way you think He should remember, He knows what He's doing and we should dwell on the positive out comes we can not yet see rather than the negative outcomes we feel.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • When God gives you the wrong answer do you turn on Him?
  • Have you found the positive outcome from one or more of God's answers?

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Greater love has no one than this.... John 15:13a (ESV)

      Determined to try and set things right, Stella and Tracy headed back into the woods where they had lost Muffy in hopes that they could find him again and bring him home to Harold. Tracy kept blowing on her dog whistle while Stella kept calling out “Here, Muffy. Here, Muffy.”

     After searching for nearly an hour, Tracy had to ask, “Stella, Are you sure this is the right way?” “Of course it is.” Stella replied, “I’m always right” “Then why did you send Barney down the other path?” Tracy asked “Just in case.” Stella answered. “In case you’re wrong?” Tracy interrupted but was quickly cut off when Stella yelled, “It’s Him!”

     “Where?” Tracy asked as she spun around looking for him. “Behind that tree!” Stella yelled back, “Let’s go get him.” As the girls neared the tree, Tracy suddenly froze and yelled “Stella!” “What, now?” Stella said as she reached the tree. “That’s not Muffy,” said as her voice started to crack, “It’s a bear cub, we need to get out of here fast.”

     Now Stella should have known better but when she saw that bear cub something came over her and she decided she needed to try and pet that bear cub. “NO, STELLA!” Tracy screamed at Stella, “The mama bear won’t like that.” “I don’t see any mama bear,” Stella said as she crept up on the bear cub, “Besides, he’s so cute”

     The next thing the girls knew a great big mama bear let out a loud ROAR and charged at them. “Run, Stella, Run.” Tracy called out as she took off running. Just than Stella tripped and let out a scream “OOOOOOOUUUUUUUCCCCCCCHHHHHHH My leg! I can’t run” As the bear readied to pounce on Stella a familiar Woof, Woof, Woof jumped in front of her.

     It was Muffy and they had found him or he had found them. For the next five minutes Muffy and the bear growled, howled, snarled and roared as the fought with each other. In the mean time Stella had managed to stand up and started to limp away when everything went silent.

     “The bear is leaving.” Tracy whispered to Stella “Muffy saved us” “Muffy is a hero!” Stella shouted out, “Three cheers for Muffy, Hooray, Hooray, Ho.... Muffy’s not moving.” “What’s wrong?” Tracy asked? “He’s, He’s Dying.” Stella said as she started to cry. “We need my Dad and fast.” Tracy told Stella, “He knows the vet. Let’s see if we can find him before it’s too late.”

     John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. (ESV) How much love do we have for our friends?

     In the week prior to writing the original script that became this puppet story there was a real bear cub in my backyard, however the idea of having a bear showing up in the story was not inspired by it. Most people (I hope) should know that coming between a mother bear and her cub is very dangerous yet more dangerous than getting between a mother bear and her cub is giving in to sin.

     Instead of running from danger, Stella tried to embrace it and as a result, she needed to be saved. Thankfully Muffy came to the rescue. People are constantly flirting with sin and while they may not always suffer the consequences immediately, sooner or later, sin's consequences will come due unless of course we have a friend who is willing to take the consequences on himself.

     Think of what our greatest friend went through for us, to take the eternal consequences of our sin upon himself. Here is what he went through:

  • John 19:1-3 Then Pilate ordered that Jesus be taken away and whipped. (NCV)
  • Luke 22:63-65 The men who were guarding Jesus began making fun of him and beating him. They blindfolded him and said, “Prove that you are a prophet, and tell us who hit you.“ They said many cruel things to Jesus. (NCV)
  • Matthew 27:27-31The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s palace, and they all gathered around him. They took off his clothes and put a red robe on him. Using thorny branches, they made a crown, put it on his head, and put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and made fun of him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!“ They spat on Jesus. Then they took his stick and began to beat him on the head. After they finished, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. (NCV)
     In Matthew 11:19 we learn that Jesus had some unusual friends, they were called sinners - The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (NIV)

     Unless you want to God a liar, the Bible also claims that we have all sinned, therefore we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 is just one such verse that makes this clear. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)

     Add to these two verses Romans 5:8 which reads God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV) We can learn that We are all sinners yet we are Jesus' friends for whom he died so that we may not have to suffer eternal consequences of our sins.

     I suppose Stella could have told Muffy to back off, she didn't need any help taking on the mother bear and I suppose we could tell Jesus we don't want His help over coming the consequences of sin but neither would be wise.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you think you can over come sin's eternal consequences on your own?
  • Are you thankful for Jesus being your friend willing to help?