Palm Sunday. The day usually set aside to remember that one day so long ago where a nation was preparing for the week of Passover. Everyone was headed to Jerusalem. Crowds at every street corner. Shops selling their wares to the many travelers entering the city. Roman soldiers watching and on alert for signs of trouble.

One Man came to the city bringing followers with Him. When the news of His presence was known, an impromptu celebration started. Palm branches were waved in the air as people lined the streets to see a well known Teacher riding a donkey down the road. Soldiers probably scratched their heads in disbelief as the crowds shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Those Roman guards probably thought, “Blessed? He rode a donkey….not a Roman war horse. What type of people were these Jews anyway?”

Fickle. People with an excitement for the moment but also not fully understanding the depth of significance. God had already told His prophets this day would come. He had preordained it. Christ told his disciples where to find the donkey and where they would have the Passover meal. Every time He gave instructions, they found it just as He said. So why did His arrest, trial, torture and death send them all running? Why did some of the very people who joined the cheers of celebration one week cry, “Crucify Him,” the following week? Fear. Misunderstanding of what they had been taught. Leaning to what they believed was to be the outcome of their present circumstances.

Today on Palm Sunday 2020, we are facing a challenging circumstance. Yet prophets have warned us for years that this day would come. Many people are putting red on their door posts like that first Passover. We are staying home and reflecting on our lives. Listening to what He wants to speak to us today. Sunday mornings we are gathered in front of some form of a screen to join a live worship time and message. During this time, may we learn from the examples of those gone before us. Let’s not lean to what we believe the outcome should look like. Nor let us become those who rejoice on day only to run in fear the next.

And when this is over, may we be forever changed in our hearts, minds and spirits. May our hearts not be swayed but abiding in the work He does in our hearts. May we still be proclaiming one message –


Silent Patience

There is a new norm in our world today. It is a quietness in society. The stadiums, streets, concert halls, restaurants, etc., all have a resounding silence that is unknown to this generation. Yet it is not the first time in history that a society has been brought to an almost complete halt. So as a believer, how do we make sense of what is happening around us? We get locked in with Him and see what HE wants to speak to our hearts individually.

I find it interesting that this modern event is happening during the same weeks leading up to Jewish calendar holidays of Passover and Pentecost. The parallels of today and that first Passover are not lost to me as I once again study those passages. The people were ready to be set free from their bondage but that deliverance kept being delayed while God dealt with the people of Egypt. So what did they need to do during this time? Wait patiently for Him to complete His work. I can imagine the disappointment after each event when they thought, “This time we will be released!” Only to be given an even heavy workload after the crisis was past.

What was it God wanted out of His own people anyway? A heart completely after Him. A people fully prepared to follow Him to the Promised Land. One that would not be desiring to return to the old way of bondage with the first step into the heat of the desert. And to get their hearts ready for that took patiently waiting on Him.

James 1:2-3 talks about the work of patience in our lives. “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Count it joy. That’s a hard one. Our world right now seems to be tilting WAY off its axis! And He wants us to walk in His joy? It’s recognizing that the joy is not BECAUSE of the trial. Instead, it’s the KNOWING that He is at work IN the trial for a result we will see AFTER the trial.

This time last year I was picking strawberries with my granddaughter, Ellie. She lived one street over from me and I treasured every moment with her. Last June, my son and his family moved to Calgary, Alberta. This picture of her eating strawberries was taken just last week. To see how much she has grown since our strawberry adventure last year brings both joy and longing. Joy to watch her grow. Longing to BE THERE to watch her grow. Part of me wants to say, “Slow down! Stop growing so fast!! Take time to enjoy life!”

That’s what I hear the Spirit whispering to my heart. He seems to be telling me, “Slow down, baby girl, and get back to the main focus of life. I have silenced the gods of this world so my people can slow down and rest. So they will be shut in with Me and hear My voice once again.” How like Him to remind me to get my focus back on Him – not on me and my circumstances, but on Him and my heart – so when this is over, I can walk more closely with Him through the new world that we will see on the other side of this event.

We all are ready to get out of our homes and get back to ‘business as usual’. I know I am! Yet that still small voice keeps reminding me that, “… quietness and trust in your strength.” That’s how I need to focus my thoughts. He wants me not to long for the noise of the world – the business of life. But to seek out His voice in the midst of the silent days. To be patient and let Him work in my heart. Let Him lead me to wise decisions in this time. Maybe there is someone who needs an encouraging phone call or text. He is ready to whisper their name to me. Maybe there is a message He wants me to share on social media to bring a smile or some comfort to a hurting world. He wants to nudge me in that direction.

No matter where you are in this unprecedented event – whether surrounded by family or alone or praying for someone who is fighting for their life – He sees you in this silent time. He is waiting with arms open to speak words of comfort and encouragement. And He has promised to be at work in the midst of this sheltered waiting time.

Legacy of Love

Family. The word alone can bring various emotions from different individuals. For some, it brings about a rush of unwanted memories. The hurt caused by betrayal or abuse. Others recall a sense of loneliness and fear. Still others experience the peace and comfort like that of a warm, soft blanket wrapped around them on a cold night. Yet none of us can escape the truth that we are connected to a family whether by birth or by choice.

Although God’s original plan was for families to operate in an atmosphere of love and joy, too often man’s fallen nature destroys that plan. So what happens when someone around us feels the rejection or abandonment from their earthly family? God has already provided that answer. He showed His love by giving us the body of Christ as family. Although they still are not perfect, when they show the love of Christ, they created the loving atmoshpere of FAMILY.

The main motto of our ministry to Haiti is to “end the orphan cycle through family.” Our aim is for orphans in Haiti to find homes and not feel labeled ‘orphan’ but known as family. I love the example lived out daily through Banner, our child who has Cerebral Palsy. We rescued Banner from a ditch. Banner was 4 years old when his dad left him there to die because of his CP. Doctors told us he would never walk. Yet placing him in our kids’ home, he has experienced the love of a family. Although his walker is not far from him at all times, a year ago Banner started walking by himself. This January, Banner went to school for the first time. Why? Love of his God given through family saw that he was cared for and believed in.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13

God’s plan is for His word to be taught within the family unit. It’s for parents to create an environment where His love will be felt within the home. And He desires that same model to be shown within the body of Christ – His family. It is a legacy Christ walked before us and one that He desires us to walk in – to relfect those godly character traits. That type of family love can bring hope and healing to a hurting world.

Today, let’s choose to live a life of love and leave a legacy for those around us. After all, we never know when there might be a Banner waiting to walk because we chose to love.

Love Enough

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – Jesus

February. It is the time of year we hear the most talk about love. Flowers, roses and candy can be seen in every store. The main focus during this time tends to be set aside for showing those special individuals in our lives how much we love and appreciate them. But the root of love is so much greater than the words expressed during this one month.

Love is a verb. It is action. At times it even can appear cruel when we choose to love enough. Christ gave us the perfect example of love. He loved enough.

Enough to leave His Father. Enough to embrace an image ‘below’ His heavenly status. Enough to speak truth even when it hurt those who needed to hear it. Enough to not arrive BEFORE the needed healing but AFTER the death. Enough to challenge the misguided leaders. Enough to die. For me. He loved enough! He chose to allow His actions to give glory to His Father instead of being the popular prophet of the day.

Although I am to walk as He did, too often I fall short of this ‘enough love.’ As a parent, I watched what I my kids ate. I did my best to choose more healthy foods over sugary snacks. We limited the access of shows or movies in order to protect their young minds and guard their spirits. Meal times were priority. Family devotions and prayer were at breakfast and before bed. Why? We loved them enough to be the gardeners of their hearts as Christ taught us to be.

Our decisions were not always appreciated by our kids during those years. And at times our decisions could have been made with more wisdom. Yet each was made from a heart of love. We loved enough to be those parents that didn’t follow the norm.

Lately, God has been asking me if I have that same type of love for the world around me. Do I love those I come into contact with on a daily basis? Or do I tend to judge them because they don’t follow the same dress code I feel is appropriate? As a parent, I sought to understand the ‘why’ behind my child’s actions before choosing my own response. Because I loved them. Do I love this world enough to do the same for them? Do I love my Father enough to ask Him to show me the ‘why’ in someone’s life so I can be Jesus with skin on for that person?

Why is my neighbor always angry? Maybe from a past hurt and Jesus wants to bind the wound.

Why does the cashier frown and rudely snap each time I am checking out? Maybe because the night before she was abused and is full of anger. Jesus wants me to love enough to let her know she is special.

Love enough. I can’t say I am measuring up as I need to in this area. Lay down my life? My dreams? My hopes? My opinion of what life should look like? All for others. Love enough. As John 15:13 says, greater love lays it all down for others. That’s my goal for this year. Love enough.

May we choose enough love. Daily. May we stop our responses to others long enough to breathe, “Lord, show me your love for them.”

Love enough.

Lessons from a Train

It was a priceless moment. As I got on the floor to play with my three year old grandson, his 14 month old brother spotted us. It didn’t take long for that bundle of energy to land in my lap. As much as I attempted to prevent it, those small hands grabbed the wooden train Dash and I had just put together. One section was now on the floor in pieces.

Disappointment was written all over Dash’s face. As I moved Roman to one side, I saw the moment Dash’s hand went up. His little person wanted to retaliate for the wrecked train. Our eyes caught and I softly said, “That’s not the right way, Dash.”

Here was a moment. Do I scold the three year old wanting to act out his frustration or let it be a life lesson? Life lesson!! We talked about doing the right things when we get frustrated. I told him how there are times I get frustrated and I just have to let it out.

He got it! With all his pent up feelings, he passionately looked at me and said, “I DO, GRANDMA!!” Instead of actions, he used his words and let me know how frustrated he was. Retaliation gone.

Christ talked about this principle. Matthew 12:7 records His words, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” In Hebrew, the words would translate, “I am more pleased with acts of benevolence and kindness than with a mere external compliance with the duties of religion.”Too often we judge each other’s actions. Instead of getting into someone’s world, hearing their heart and finding where the root of hurt and frustration started, we decide to let others know how wrong they were acting. Most of the time they just need a safe place to learn life lessons.

Why not discipline or fuss at him for his attitude? Because he is not at that level. He is a compliant 3 year old who is now dealing with a 14 month old sibling who is nonstop and determined. His brother needs constant attention to make sure he is not found climbing in an unsafe place or grabbing something that could break. Roman has a tendency to attempt to instigate his brother. Dash didn’t need me to scold him. He needed me to get to his level and teach a life lesson. He needed a safe place to let out his feelings without being told he was wrong for getting upset at his brother.

We, too, should learn those lessons before teaching them. Let’s start today! Let’s choose to ask questions and search for the reason they feel frustrated. Just be there!

Celebrate His Designs

I Iove art! Classical art is my preference. I love a good landscape or floral painting. When I look at more abstract or modern work, to me it feels as if the artist took too little time on the focus. I often do not see the purpose of such work. But my daughter loves it! Where it has no meaning to me, it usually speaks to her. So as she chooses the style she loves, I choose to applaud her and admire how she decorates. Which in truth looks great.

Often our lives and giftings are the same as art. Each person is uniquely created with a different mold. A different personality equipped with different gifts. Sometimes when we are mentoring others, we have to make a choice to applaud what we might not understand. Instead of trying to fit today’s generation into the mold of our generation or of what was given to us by the previous generation, we can ask the great Artist what mold He has chosen for them. And celebrate His choice.

It’s an issue that has been around since Cain was jealous of Abel. Christ dealt with it when He looked at Peter and said, “What is it to you how I decide that John will die?” (my paraphrase) Paul had a different personality than Peter and ministered to a different group. John was opposite of both Peter and Paul. Yet each of them took part in building the early church.

Let’s choose today to not become frustrated that those under us like different songs or art or a dress style. Instead, let’s look deeper into what uniquely speaks to their heart and ask the heavenly Designer to help us applaud their growth in Him. Let’s keep adding brush strokes of encouragement to the Kingdom’s canvas and speak of His love to the world around us. The big picture is worth it!

Oil for the Season

Who doesn’t love the beauty of the mountains covered with majestic conifers?! When the mist is settling above the trees, it brings a sense of peace in its beauty. We see the Master’s handiwork in full display. But how do these green trees survive the harsh months of winter with almost no effect? It’s in the oil!

Conifer trees send oil throughout their branches in the winter to protect them from freezing. The colder the temperature, the better the oil works. The actual essential oil of the tree acts much the same as antifreeze does in our cars. For the trees, the oil is stored in the roots during warmer temps.

How like our spiritual lives! When the cold harsh trials of life are hitting us and we feel the stark deadness of a winter season, it is then that we can start to rise above the circumstances as we allow the oil of His Spirit to protect us from the death often found in the cold. Scripture is filled with references to the oil of the Spirit and its power. Kings were anointed to lead. Priests were anointed to serve. Christ was anointed to walk in the role as our Messiah. And the bridesmaids were instructed to store up the oil for that day when the Bridegroom would appear.

“For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord— for wheat and new wine and oilTheir souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all… For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:11-12, 14

In the Vine Parable, Jesus stressed to His disciples the importance of abiding in Him. He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 4-5).

About six months prior to my husband and I being called to minister in Missouri, the Lord spoke to my him saying, “You and Rhonda need to spend more quality time with Me because you will need My strength for what you are about to walk into.”

This could very well be compared to the oil that is stored in the roots of the tree, which later would act as a preservative during the harsh winter season. That is what Jesus was conveying to His disciples before His departure. He told them to abide in Him and in His Word. By doing so, He would abide in them and supply all they needed to endure the trials they were about to experience.

It’s as simple as this: Spending time with Jesus produces the needed supply of oil – His Spirit – for each and every encounter we will face at home, in the church and in the world. What a blessing that He has promised an endless supply of fresh oil of His Spirit to help us in our time of need!