Thursday, January 21, 2010


At the National Postal Museum, there is a collection of rare and valuable stamps. The stamps which hold the most value are the ones which are mistakes - an airplane or a ship printed upside down, perforations in the wrong spots - all of these mistakes make the stamps worth more money. This got me thinking, what makes the mistakes more valuable? Frankly, I had a hard time seeing the beauty in the mistakes and I think if I were to have possessed one of these rare finds, it might have found its way to the trash, considered useless. Yet it is those very mistakes which hold collectors in awe. For in the mistakes, we are able to see the beauty of perfection.

It is the same with us. Some of my most valuable times with the Lord have been after I have made a mistake. In my mistakes, I see the beauty of His perfection. In my mistakes, He comes to me and teaches me and lifts me up ever so sweetly and shows me the way to go. For in my weakness, He is strong. In my failures, I learn valuable lessons. In my fall, I see His grace and the mistakes become very valuable.

Not that I should keep on sinning as Paul points out so well in Romans 6. But I am glad to have these stamps in my collection to remind me of God's love for me. I was speaking to my daughter this morning about the story in Luke of the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. The Pharisee whose home Jesus is visiting is appalled at this display and the fact that Jesus would allow this sinful woman to touch him. Jesus rebukes him with a parable about two men who owe a debt. One is substantially larger than the other yet both debts are canceled. Jesus asks who will be more grateful and the answer of course is the one whose debt was larger, the one with the most messed up stamps in his collection.

So what does your stamp collection look like? Do you push the mistakes to the side because looking at them causes pain and guilt? Or do you see them for what they are, opportunities to thank God for his amazing gift of forgiveness. Do you look at your mistakes and marvel at the greatness of God? Are you amazed that a holy and righteous God loves YOU and wants to have a relationship with you? Well he does, mistakes and all.

Friday, January 15, 2010


In High School much was said about someone's reputation. You certainly didn't want to be someone with a bad reputation. And it was always comforting to have friends you knew would defend your reputation.
What about God's reputation? Do we ever think about defending God's reputation? Moses thought about God's reputation. This is probably the thing which sticks out the most to me in Moses' relationship with God. When the Israelites rebelled against God for the umpteenth time God responded by saying, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they." (Numbers 14:11) Moses had several options at this point. He could have thought about himself saying, "You know what God, I'm getting kind of tired of these people too? Let's start all over with a fresh batch we can mold the way we want." He could have even been compassionate and thought of the people, begging God's forgiveness and mercy. Instead, Moses thinks of God. He tells God he is worried what will happen if God destroys His people and the Egyptians hear about it. He was worried they would think God was not powerful enough to do what He promised and so He wiped the people out instead. In short, Moses was worried about God's reputation and because of this he convinced God to relent and not destroy the people but to forgive them.
How do you protect God's reputation? Do you stand up for Him? Do you talk about the great things He has done in your life? Do you defend Him when you hear someone speaking a falsehood about Him. When there is a major earthquake destroying thousands and people say, "How could a loving God let something like this happen," do you have a response?
In a world filled with those who are looking for every opportunity to discredit God, what will you do today to stand up for Him?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The Lord's Prayer has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I am involved in two separate Bible Studies right now and it just so happens this was the week's topic for both studies. The Lord's Prayer is one I grew up reciting, but I am sad to tell you that was all it was, a recitation. I never really thought about the words I was saying. When I got serious about my relationship with God, I shunned all the recited prayers I had learned as a child, including The Lord's Prayer. I wanted my prayers to come from my heart, not mindless words that just flowed from my mouth. I don't think I was wrong in my general sentiment but I was wrong to discount the significance of this most precious prayer Jesus shared with his disciples.

Luke 11 recounts Jesus' disciples asking him, "Lord, teach us to pray." How many times have you heard this or even said this? Maybe we don't say those words exactly but our meaning is the same. We say, "I don't know where to begin," or "I don't know what to pray for." Maybe we are worried that we don't have eloquent enough words or we don't know enough about the Bible. In all these things what we are saying is, "I don't know how." Well lucky for us, Jesus' disciples asked him how. How can I ignore His answer, especially when it is so sweet and perfect and completely unlike the answer I expected?

The thing which strikes me most about Jesus' prayer is its simplicity. Many times I feel I must fill my prayers with beautiful, holy sounding words so God will know how serious I am. The prayer Jesus offers is short. Just 8 little lines in the NIV version of Luke, 34 words. Oh but what is said in those 34 words!!! In 8 lines we are shown the heart of God.

The prayer starts with intimacy. Jesus acknowledges God as Father. This not only speaks to our relationship with God but it places the focus of our prayer where it belongs, on God. How many times do I start my prayers with I? I need, I want, I can't.

Then Jesus acknowledges God's sovereignty. "Your kingdom come." Not my plan, Lord, but yours. The key to my favorite subject - contentment.

The rest of the prayer points to three aspects of God's character. He is our provider, our savior and our protector. God loves us and wants to be these things for us. He wants to provide our daily needs. He knows what they are before we even ask. He promises to forgive us of our sins and He will give us the power to forgive others. And He promises to protect us from evil and to guide us in the path of righteousness. Jesus shows us through His prayer that we should be bold in coming before the Lord and asking for these things.

I am so grateful for the perfect timing of God in having these two studies coincide with each other and showing me The Lord's prayer in a new light. I am so grateful for His Word which provides all the answers for life. Thank you Lord for showing me so plainly how to pray. Funny, I never thought to ask. I am glad the disciples did.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Seriously, a blog? That's what I keep asking myself when the idea pops into my head. And who will want to read it? That's another one. Maybe nobody. It doesn't really matter. I used to enjoy writing. I was privileged to have the opportunity to write and deliver devotions each week for several Mom's groups I was involved in and to occasionally deliver a message for Bible Study. I miss that. I miss those times of sitting down at my computer and hearing God speak to me. I suppose I don't need to be involved in a ministry to write. The truth is I got way more out of those devotions then any of the audiences I delivered them to. And that is why I have chosen this outlet to begin writing again. I cherish those times with the Lord and the things He teaches me during those times. So, even if nobody chooses to read these posts I know it will be a special time with my savior.
So why the name, "The Contentment Project"? As I look back over all the devotions I have written throughout the years, contentment seems to be a common theme. If you have ever attended Community Bible Study, you know that each month there is a group brunch or luncheon and at these gatherings there is always a question to answer. At one of these brunches the question was, "What are you learning?" I thought long and hard before answering, "I am learning to be content." Six years later, I am still learning. Contentment isn't an overnight epiphany, it is an everyday choice. Thus the project part of my title. This is my lifelong project, to be content, to follow God wherever He leads me with the assurance that His plan is the best plan.
Below is a copy of one of my earlier devotions. It was, in fact, delivered at Community Bible Study in Palm Desert shortly after the above mentioned brunch. I hope you will enjoy it.


Phillipians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Aren't those beautiful words? I remember the first time I really heard those words. I was visiting a friend who had just had her second miscarriage in a row 20 weeks into her pregnancy. As we visited she told me how God had shown her this verse and had filled her with this peace that transcends all understanding. I had gone there to comfort her but I ended up being comforted myself with this amazing concept that was so new to me. This concept that even when our lives are crazy, even when tragedy strikes and there is no worldly reason for it, we can be filled with peace, God's peace.
If we keep reading in Philippians, Paul says, "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." Through our study in Acts, we are beginning to see the truth of these words in Paul’s life. In fact, he writes these words from jail. The man is in jail and he is talking to us about being content.
Maybe some of you have heard of a man named Horatio Spafford. He was a successful lawyer in the 1870's who wrote one of the most famous hymns of all time. Horatio Spafford, like Paul had discovered the secret to being content. He had invested heavily in Real Estate but the Chicago Fire of 1871 wiped out his investments. Shortly before that, his son had died. All this had put a huge strain on the family and Mr. Spafford decided his family was in great need of a rest. So he planned a trip to take his wife and 4 daughters to Europe. Because of some last minute business, he was unable to leave as scheduled but rather than postpone the trip for the whole family, he sent his wife and daughters on ahead of him, planning to follow a few days later. Unfortunately, the ship they were traveling on was struck by another ship and it sank. Only Mrs. Spafford survived. Horatio Spafford got on a boat to travel to England to be with his grieving wife. Along the way, the ship passed the spot where his family's ship had gone down. The captain stopped the boat to give Mr. Spafford some time. It was there that he wrote the words to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” It is well with my soul. This man who had already lost a son, virtually all of his money and now 4 daughters wrote the words “It is well with my soul.”
When peace like a river attendeth my way
when sorrows like sea billows roll
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
I think he had learned the secret to being content in all circumstances. So what is this secret? If we keep reading, Paul tells us. Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." That's it, that's the secret. When we rely on God and not on ourselves, submitting to his will, we can do anything, even be content. And we can allow God's peace, that perfect peace which transcends all understanding to enter our lives.