THURSDAY, AUGUST 30

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. -Psalm 34:4 (NLT}

I’m ready to start middle school.” Micah held her new backpack filled with notebooks, binders, and a pencil bag.

But I wasn’t. My mind churned with apprehension. Could she find the right classroom when they rotated? Would she remember her locker number? Would she find kind fiends? How could she manage the homework? What if she gets exposed to peer pressure?

Maybe I was overprotective and letting my own experiences color how I felt. Growing up, I was the “new kid” at school seven times before I went to college. Walking the halls of Sapulpa Junior High, I felt small and insignificant trying to find my classrooms. When I forgot my locker combination, I was too embarrassed to say anything. I lugged around a stack of books for weeks.

Luckily, Micah wasn’t shy like me. She knew most of the students in her class. Still, I worried that no one would be there to help her.

The afternoon before the first day of school, another mother e-mailed me. “Meet tonight in front of the school to pray before the new year begins.”

That evening, I circled up with five moms on the sidewalk in front of the middle school building. We closed our eyes. Peace replaced my anxiety as I poured out my fears to God. I wanted my child to be protected and I couldn’t be there to do it. But God could. He was more capable than any of us morns.

Micah was ready to start middle school. So was I, thanks to my back- to-school group prayer reminder.

Lord, help me to remember that my school assignment is a mother’s prayer for her child every, day.

–Stephanie Thompson

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-7

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

The $64,000.00 Question:

Bob had finally made it to the last round of the $64,000 Question. The night before the big question, he told the M.C. that he desired a question on American History. The big night had arrived. Bob made his way on stage in front of the studio and TV audience. He had become the talk of the week. He was the best guest this show had ever seen. The M.C. stepped up to the mic.

“Bob, you have chosen American History as your final question. You know that if you correctly answer this question, you will walk away $64,000 dollars richer. Are you ready?”

Bob nodded with a cocky confidence-the crowd went nuts. He hadn’t missed a question all week.

Bob, your question on American History is a two-part  question. As you know, you may answer either part first. As a rule, the second half of the question is always easier. Which part would you like to take a stab at first?”

Bob was now becoming more noticeably nervous. He couldn’t believe it, but he was drawing a blank. American History was his easiest subject, but he played it safe.

“I’ll try the easier part first.”

The M.C. nodded approvingly. “Here we go Bob. I will ask you the second half first, then the first half.”

The audience silenced with gross anticipation……

“Bob, here is your question: And in what year did it happen??”



WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. -James 1:19-20 (ESV)

I had the best intentions. Really, I did.

I wanted to holdup my friend in love, to do the right thing, to help me the right way. I wanted to support her when she needed support. To be there when she needed a friend.

But I really botched it.

While my heart had been in the right place, my actions surely weren’t. Words were said that shouldn’t have been said and those words flew into rumors, making their way through our community. Reputations were scarred. Friendships grew awkward. And days were lost in a whir of he-said, she-said, and I-don’t-know-what-tosay.

But then she broke the ice.

“Erin, we have to repair this. Let’s talk Let’s fix it.”

And so we did. Over steaming cups of tea in a cluttered living room, we shared our feelings, our thoughts, our intentions, our hopes. We worked trough. We understood. We stretched. We forgave.

God IS infinitely faithful to us. He forgives when we don’t deserve it. He listens when we cry out. He lets go when we need grace.

We must do the same for our friends, for those perfectly imperfect people whom we love, the ones who hurt us, who scar us, who do those things that cause so much pain on days when we just need mercy.

We must love when we don’t want to. And forgive without hesitation.

 

Father God, thank You for forgiving me when I don’t deserve it and for giving me .friends who are willing to do the same. Help me to forgive and to love like You do. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Ephesians 4:15-16; James 5:16

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Old telephone books make ideal personal address books. Simply cross out the names and addresses of people you don’t know.

 Fool other drivers into thinking you have an expensive car phone by holding an old TV or video remote control up to your ear and occasionally swerving across the road and mounting the curb.

Lose weight quickly by eating raw pork and rancid tuna. I found that the subsequent food poisoning enabled me to lose 12 pounds in only 2 days.

Avoid parking tickets by leaving your windshield wipers turned to fast wipe whenever you leave your car parked illegally.



TUESDAY, AUGUST 28

Tuesday, August 28

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. -Matthew 5:7 (KJV)

 

A friend of mine no longer. drinks alcohol. “It’s a good thing I don’t drink,” she says. “I drank way too much way too often.” That’s a polite way to say disaster and chaos and danger and smash.

“The thing is I tried to stop. Each time I started again I felt about one inch tall, But I always felt that some great gentle attentiveness was waiting for me with tenderness and patience. The only thing that drove

me to stop again and again wasn’t sense and reason and court and cost, but that deep feeling that some force, some coherent loving thing, was waiting for me with open arms.

“Use the word God if you want. I have grown very leery of words. People begin to think that words define or explain things that they can’t come anywhere close to explaining or understanding, God is one

those words. Love is another. But I felt that patient relentless mercy very powerfully. I felt it waiting for me to finally stop and stay stopped. Miracle is another word we throw around, but I am a miracle. I

would have gone to prison, or died, or both. I couldn’t have stopped without that patient tender mercy being there. I wake up every day and talk to the Mercy. I ask for help. .

Everyone wants to explain or dismiss miracles, and my attitude is why not just enjoy the fact that such things happen all day, every day, everywhere in the world? Why get fussy about the words for it? Why

argue about other people’s words for it?

There was some endlessly patient unquenchable tenderness there for me, Believe me, I know what I am talking about.”

Dear Mercy, not just her but me and we? Lend us your mercy moment by moment so that we can learn to share it; too, profligately, unthinkingly, unstintingly.

-Brian Doyle

 

Digging Deeper: Matthew 9:13; Luke 6:36

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

“Hey you! Pull over!” shouted the traffic cop.

Betty complied, and the judge next day fined her twenty-five dollars. She went home in great anxiety lest her husband, who always examined her checkbook, should learn of the incident.

Then inspiration struck and she marked the check stub, “One pullover, $25.”

* * * * *

A man entered a busy florist shop that displayed a large sign that read “Say It With Flowers.”

“Wrap up one rose,” he told the florist.

“Only one?”  the florist asked.

“Just one,” the customer replied.  “I’m a man of few words.”



MONDAY, AUGUST 27

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. -Mark 9:41 (KJV)

What started as a time-saver has become an integral part of my hospitality ministry.

At my church, I often help to prepare refreshments for funeral receptions, Our experienced team seamlessly provides food (hot and cold), beverages, and even fresh flowers for the tables. Of course, we rarely know ahead of time how many people we will serve, so we estimate to the nearest twenty-five, usually accurately.

This sultry summer afternoon, we’re prepared for a funeral party of about two hundred. Two tables hold platters of veggies and dip, sandwiches, grapes, and cheese. Another table holds desserts, and yet another the coffee and tea. I set up a fifth table, just for iced lemon water, to avoid a bottleneck at the beverage service. To save time before the capacity crowd arrives, I pour the water to have a dozen filled

glasses sitting on a tray, so no one has to wait.

The wife of the deceased approaches me with trembling smile and red eyes. I spontaneously hand her a glass and offer a smile and condolences. She effuses thanks. It seems so natural then to hand glasses to

the next guests, too, instead of leaving them to serve themselves.

Suddenly I understand. This is no time for brisk efficiency. Rather, this IS the tune for human touch and connection. On this difficult day, the buffet eases physical hunger, but compassion quenches parched

souls.

 

Gracious Lord, may I never underestimate the healing power of simple kindness.

-Gail Thorell Schilling

Digging Deeper: Luke 10:33; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 3:8

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

The twin 10-year-olds were exactly opposite: Bill was a die-hard optimist and Bob a hopeless pessimist. 

The mom asked the psychiatrist what to do about Christmas. The doctor told her to buy all the toys she could for Bob, and get Bill nothing. In fact, he said just to wrap up some manure for Bill.

Christmas morning Mom came downstairs and found the twins by the tree.  She asked Bob what Santa had brought him. 

“I got a B.B. gun, but I’ll probably hit someone in the eye and blind him.  And a bicycle, but I’ll probably get run over and killed while riding it.  And an electric train, but I’ll probably electrocute myself,” said Bob. 

Realizing it wasn’t going very well, the mom turned to Bill and asked what he got.  “I’m not sure!!” he replied, “I think I got a pony, but I haven’t been able to find him yet!!”

 

 

 



FRIDAY, AUGUST 24

Let love be your guide, .. , –Ephesians 5:2 (CEV)

I paused in the grocery aisle to scratch the nearly four-Inch-long jagged wound from the recent surgery I’d had on my broken arm. I sighed, then pushed the cart toward the meat case while my mind tumbled over the encounter I’d had with Katie at church earlier today. Katie had special needs and I’d been trying to reach out to her for weeks. Sometimes she’d joyfully give me a hug and would welcome conversations. But today; she seemed to have crawled deeply into a shell that served as a fortress to keep everyone out–even me. Her rejection hurt my feelings.

Steering the cart between a couple of people, I parked next to the meat case and reached for a package of hot dogs on the top shelf. When I did, my sleeve slipped toward my elbow, revealing the lesion, which

puckered with stitches and scabs-and still had lines of blue pennanent marker that the surgeon had drawn to guide his incision. The woman next: to me gasped.

I put the hot dogs in my basket and chuckled to myself. Lady, if you think that looks bad, you should have seen that scar a few weeks ago. You have no idea how far I’ve come.

And that’s when it hit me: in my desire to help Katie, I had forgotten how far she has come. I might not always see changes in her, but healing is happening. She hasn’t given up and neither should I.

Lord, help me to have faith in the profound effect of Your love. Amen,

-Rebecca Ondov

Digging Deeper: Romans 12:10, 13;8

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

The neighbor’s two sons … one five and the other seven … are constantly squabbling.  The seven-year-old is thrilled when he succeeds in taunting his younger brother.

Friday was the last day of school for the older lad.  According to his mother, he hadn’t been in the house more than a couple minutes when she heard the five-year-old screaming.  When the crying youngster reached the kitchen, he shouted, “It’s not fair.  Bill has one and I don’t.  I want one too.”

“What is it?” asked the mother while trying to comfort her child.  “What does Bill have that you don’t have?”

By this time, Bill had come to the kitchen and was leaning against the doorway.  He had a funny smile on his face and said, “A summer vacation.  I told him I get one and he doesn’t.” 



WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

A while back, I wrote a Daily Guideposts devotion about how I needed to be more gentle-one of the fruits of the Spirit. This came about after visiting two local congregations within the same week and listening to two sermons on Scripture about living by the Spirit (Galatians 5). I shared how growing up in New York City showed me that being tough was the survival spirit.

Soon after it was published I received a letter from Julie, a former parishioner. “Today I read your devotion in Daily Guideposts. You questioned the quality of gentleness in yourself: Pablo, you certainly are gentle. I have witnessed that gentleness in you as a pastor, husband, and father.” She reminded me that she and her husband grew up in New York City, and they, too, learned that having a tough manner was the way to survive.

Julie’s letter touched me deeply. She took time out of her day to write and encourage me. Sometimes we forget that others are watching us as we carry out our faith, vocation, and lives.

I was being too hard on myself Julie helped me to identify why I felt the need to have a more gentle spirit. It wasn’t because my actions and personality were lacking in gentleness. It was because of where I came from and what I did to protect myself.

Lord, thank You for the people who care and encourage us and for the ways they do so in our lives.

–Pablo Diaz

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Taxi-Driver

A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates.  Ahead of him is a guy who’s dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans.

Saint Peter addresses this guy, “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?”

The guy replies, “I’m Joe Cohen, taxi-driver, of Noo Yawk City.”  Saint Peter consults his list.  He smiles and says to the taxi-driver, “Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The taxi-driver goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it’s the minister’s turn.  He stands erect and booms out, “I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Saint Mary’s for the last forty-three years.”

Saint Peter consults his list.  He says to the minister, “Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Just a minute,” says the minister.  “That man was a taxi-driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff.  How can this be?”

 

“Up here, we work by results,” says Saint Peter.  “While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed.”



TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. -Psalm 131:2 (NKJV)

Even though I’ve done it year after year, I can’t drop off my children for their first day of school without being transported back to their first day of kindergarten. I want to stay. I want to hover. I want to be

a helicopter parent.

But they won’t let me. I mean my kids won’t let me. They’re older now. They’re pros at going to school. But I’m not. I think of that future day when they will fly from the nest for good. I hold back tears.

The kids wave good-bye, turn their backs, and head into the high school. I drive away reluctantly. It’s for their good, I’m thinking. They need this. But I’m not convinced. To me, they still look like babies wearing cartoon backpacks, trotting off to a land of crayons and wall art.

“Like a weaned child,” I read in Psalm 131:2 (NKjV) , “is my soul within me.”

A weaned child-it’s beautiful and tragic all at once. It isn’t only this way with me and my kids, I realize. It is this way with all of life. We come into this world with nothing, and that is how we depart.

I feel that: the weaning, the separating, the letting go is an inevitable part of parenthood. I don’t like it, but I need it. My kids need it. It is God’s way for us in this world. A lump forms in my throat. I drive around the block to make sure they’re okay … and to pray. It is, after all, the first day of school,

Lord, wean me gently of all things, that I might cling to the one thing I can never lose-my life with You, forever.

-Bill Giovannetti

Digging Deeper: Matthew 10:39

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

If men are so competent, how come you always see signs reading “DANGER – MEN WORKING” ?

 

The wife likes to sing, and whenever she begins,  the husband heads outside.  Hurt, she asked him,  “Don’t you like my singing?”

“Of course, dear,” he replied.  “I just want to make sure the neighbors know I’m not beating you.”



MONDAY, AUGUST 20

”My harp is turned to mourning, and my flute to the voice of those who weep. “-Job 30:31 (NKJV)

People in mourning sometimes turn to alcohol. or vice or something else that shouldn’t be turned to. I turn to Cralgslist,

For the uninitiated, Craigslist is an online trading service. One category is Free Stuff, featuring my all-time favorite adjective. After my father passed, I went from fan of free stuff to virtual addict. I brought

home shipping crates (to store firewood): three printers (one actually worked); and a used futon that (1) will be rebuilt as a backsplash and (2) already threatens my marriage because it currently resides on the

back porch.

Why the sudden need to recycle every last discarded item? After many fevered pickup trips, it occurred to me that maybe my efforts to rescue everything were a vain attempt to resurrect what I myself cannot

resurrect: my father, who was a kid from. the Depression and saved and reused everything. In my grief, I did the same, an unwitting attempt to reclaim what was lost to me.

Yes, I realize that there’s another Father Who saves what seems to be lost. But my dad’s death may have claimed-e-at least for a while-a second victim: my faith. Eventually I’ll recover. In the meantime, I’m

waterproofing the new backsplash before I put it in. I notice it beads up with every fallen tear.

Lord, my faith isn’t what it used to be.

Let me see You in what l do; let me see You in my father’s memory.

-Mark Collins

Digging Deeper: Psalm 116:1-2; Hosea 2:19-20

 

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan; wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.

 

To remove grease from clothes:  Empty a can of Coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.

 

It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

AND WE DRINK THIS STUFF?????

 



FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

CONFIDENCE IN DIFFICULTY: Declare God’s Glory

Sing to the Lord a new song …. –Psalm 96:1 (NIV)

 We need to talk discharge,” the social worker said. Maggie had been an inpatient for five weeks, three times longer than insurance normally allows. Being on the unit had triggered panic attacks, a suicide attempt, and rage. In many ways my daughter was in worse shape than when she was admitted.

We were told that Maggie couldn’t return to outpatient treatment until she completed a step-down program, yet none of the programs in New York City would take her. Our choices were to send Maggie to a state facility in the Bronx, which we couldn’t tour and no one would talk about, or to a twenty-eight-day private program in Connecticut that cost a staggering amount of money.

The social worker told us to apply to both places because a bed wasn’t guaranteed in either. We agreed and prayed for a cloud to lead us through the desert. Days passed. “I’m trying to follow Your will, Lord,” I prayed testily, “but I can’t see it! Could You at least show me the way not to go?”

I turned to Psalm 96, one of my go-to Scriptures when I’m stuck. Sometimes the best way through a knot is to hold on to what I do know, rather than fret over what I don’t. I find comfort in praising the Lord, even if I don’t always understand what He wants.

The following day I spoke with a doctor who had heard about our discharge dilemma. She was quiet and then said carefully, “Well, I do know some kids who have come out of State okay.”

I went home and, using the profits from the sale of our apartment the previous summer, wrote out a very large check for the hospital in Connecticut.

Father, I will sing You?’ praises even-especially-when I feel lost.

-Julia Attaway

 

Digging Deeper: Psalms 34:1, 62:8

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

A sixth grade class is doing some spelling drills. The teacher asks Tommy if he can spell ‘before.’

He stands up and says,  “Before, B-E-P-H-O-R.”

The teacher says, “No, that’s wrong. Can anyone else spell before?”

Another little boy stands up and says, “Before, B-E-F-O-O-R.”

Again the teacher says, “No, that’s wrong.” The teacher asks, “Little Johnny, can you spell ‘before’?”

Little Johnny stands up and says, “Before, B-E-F-O-R-E.”

“Excellent Johnny, now can you use it in a sentence?”

Little Johnny says, “That’s easy. Two plus two be fore.”



THURSDAY, AUGUST 16

‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” -Luke 20:17 (NIV)

 It may be the most famous statue in the world. It’s certainly one of the hardest to see! You wait in a long line outside Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. Inside at last, you inch your way through the crowd toward the niche where it stands on a marble pedestal.

Even if I was here alone, I thought, the day I visited the Accademia, would I really see it? Its very popularity has robbed its impact. It’s everywhere you look-an exact replica in front of the Palazzo Vecchio where the original stood for four hundred years; a colossal one towering from a hilltop; David postcards in every newsstand; miniature Davids in every souvenir shop.

All this since a twenty-six-year-old sculptor was handed a seemingly impossible challenge: to carve a larger-than-life David from an “unusable” block of marble. The enormous piece of stone that Michelangelo was given to work with had already been hacked and carved and chipped at by two previous sculptors, each of whom had given up, stymied by the marble’s unyielding imperfections. And so the huge flawed stone was abandoned. Nicknamed “the Giant,” it had lain in the stonemasons’ yard

in pouring rain and searing heat and winter freezes for thirty-five years.

And young Michelangelo? He studied the sleeping giant until a graceful form appeared in his mind that would take advantage of the very imperfections that had to be cut away, and of the nicks and gouges left by the previous sculptors too. The form of a young man at the instant of turning, hips and shoulders twisting, a figure poised on the verge of action, as David had never been portrayed before. Flawed marble? Or the inspiration that limits themselves call forth.

Father, show me in the flawed marble of my life the unique form that You all along have seen.

-Elizabeth Sherrill

Digging Deeper: Jeremiah 18:1-6

DAILY GUIDEPOSTS

 

Little Mary was at her first wedding and gaped at the entire ceremony. When it was over, she asked her mother, “Why did the lady change her mind?”

Her mother asked, “What do you mean?”

“Well, she went down the aisle with one man, and came back with another one.”




 

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