Wednesday, August 1

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “-Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

A storm brought us together .

Lonny and I huddled in the living room with our sons. The power was out, and the younger boys were restless. Their flashlights threw beams of light.

“Let’s make shadow animals,” one boy said. That lasted ten minutes.

“I know,” another son said. “Let’s sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ in a round.” He started singing, and the brothers joined in. Lonny and I came in at the end, and our choruses melded together every time.

“See,” my husband whispered, “we can’t stay apart. We meet even in a song.”

I pressed into his arms, on our old sofa, in our home filled to the brim with boys. Just a few moments together made me understand that we’d been missing out.

It can be the same with God. I have every intention of beginning each day with Him. I have a special chair. My Bible is page-marked. But sometimes I hit the Snooze button. Or I wake and want to tackle

dirty dishes from the night before.

It’s when I go back that I understand how I’ve missed God. His Word becomes the heartbeat that draws me in, and I’m content and filled, settled and stilled. Focused time in His presence is the sustaining grace

I need.

Lenny’s arms stayed strong around me, and we waited out the storm. One of our sons found a favorite book and read out loud. I tried, but I couldn’t follow. I was lost in thoughts of God’s love.

Lord, may time alone with You be something I can’t do without. Amen.

-Shawnelle Eliasen


Digging Deeper: Psalms 5:3, 119:47; Mark 1:35



More than anything, my brother-in-law wanted to be a cowpoke. Taking pity on him, a rancher decided to hire the lad and give him a chance.

“This,” he said, showing him a rope, “is a lariat. We use it to catch cows.”

“I see,” said my brother-in-law, trying to seem knowledgeable as he examined the lariat. “And what do you use for bait?”


Friday, July 27

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every, morning. … “-Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESY)

Dad, I’m not sure why you put on this twenty-four-hour hold,”

Johnny said. “I was ready to dose the deal.”

He had been talking with the Realtor about the house he wanted to buy. Since this was his first home purchase, I was there to coach him if needed … a “silent” observer in the room. Sensing he was about to

make an offer, I blurted out, “We’ll sleep on it and get back together tomorrow.” So much for being silent!

As we drove back to the hotel, I explained that I found it helpful to create space to think through the options and allow new insights to come when making a major decision. My son seemed receptive to it,

though his question reminded me that this was his deal, not mine.

Over dinner, we continued talking about the house, its location, and price. Everything about it seemed perfect for him. Were we missing something?

Still on my mind as I went to bed, I asked God for insight, and early the next morning I awoke with a new idea. The house was move-in ready. Why not ask the builder for a lease agreement until the closing?

Johnny could eliminate a hotel stay, avoid his possessions going into storage, and the builder would get rental income. Johnny liked the idea and made his offer, and the builder agreed.

My son did not need much help in buying his first home. If he takes only one lesson away from the experience, I hope it is the difference that the twenty-four-hour hold made and the value in seeking God’s guidance and then waiting for insight.

Dear Lord, thank You for taking the stuff lingering in our minds at day’s end and planting within us fresh insights for the new day. Amen.

-John Dilworth

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 3:1-6; Isaiah 40:30-31



How To Get Free Hamburgers For Life:

I took my 4 year old son, Josh, out to McDonalds for dinner one evening for a “guy night”.  As we were eating our hamburgers, Josh asked “daddy, what are these little things on the hamburger buns?” I responded that they were tiny seeds and were ok to eat.

He was quiet for a couple of minutes and I could tell he was in deep thought. Finally, Josh looked up and said, “Dad, if we go home and plant these seeds in our back yard, we will have enough hamburgers to last forever.”


Thursday, July 26

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. ” -Luke 23:34 (RSV)

In 1991, Vukovar, Croatia, was the center of a devastating war. Ninety percent of its homes were destroyed. Thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed. At war’s end, a writer for the Washington Post

observed, “Not one roof, door, or wall in all of Vukovar seems to have escaped jagged gouges or gaping holes left by shrapnel, bullets, bombs, or artillery shells – all delivered as part of a three-month effort by Serb insurgents and the Serb-led Yugoslav army to wrest the city from its Croatian defenders. Not one building appears habitable or even repairable. Nearly every tree has been chopped to bits by firepower.”

More than a quarter century has passed since that brutal conflict. Yet the town still reflects a transition between war and peace. I saw many new and lovely homes and buildings, yet scores remain scarred

and bullet-ridden, testimony to the ravages of a humanity that cannot get along. As I walked Vukovar’s now tranquil streets, I was intensely aware that battles had once raged there. Though sunshine and birdsong surrounded me, I could not shake an aura of sadness and oppression.

But then I came upon a scene that arrested my footsteps and left me transfixed. Against a backdrop of bombed-out, pockmarked ruins stood a majestic white stone cross. It towered from a pedestal encircled by a wrought-iron fence. On the cross hung a white stone image of Jesus. This vivid juxtaposition spoke eternal truth to me. We are a human race who sins. We are a people who break our Lord’s heart by

what we do. Yet we can be forgiven.

Thank You, God, that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life·

-Kim Henry

Digging Deeper: Psalm 2; Romans 4:25, 15:13



Driving Test

The following are a sampling of supposed real answers on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school (AKA Saturday Traffic School for moving violation offenders).

Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time?

A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker saying, “Guns don’t kill people. I do.”


Q: When driving through fog, what should you use? 

A: Your car.


Q: What changes would occur in your lifestyle if you could no longer drive lawfully? A: I would be forced to drive unlawfully.


“Her own clothing is beautifully made-a purple gown of pure linen. ” -Proverbs 31:22 (TLB)

I’m cleaning my closet and filling donation sacks with clothing in usable condition that I no longer wear. I’ve readily parted with sandals that are cute but a half size too small, green-gray slacks that don’t

match any of my shirts, four sleeveless blouses, and a suit that never really fit.

My sacks don’t contain a single dress. Ah, my dresses! They are like friends; just looking at them brings happy memories. I almost wore the lace-trimmed silk from my son Patrick’s wedding to his son Ryan’s

wedding. It’s still lovely but too short. I bought the stunning royal-blue party dress for an ultrafancy Hindu wedding last year, but I’ll probably never attend an event like that again. The button-front red coatdress and the brown suede two-piece are classics, but at least a full size too large.

My mind knows I’ll never wear these dresses again and that letting them hang in my closet is selfish. My mind is willing to part with them; my heart is not ready.

Then I spot the black rayon print with buttons bordered in antique gold that originally belonged to my sister Amanda. She loved it, but she gave it to me one Christmas. It still fits, and I receive compliments

every time I wear it.

I carefully fold the other dresses and put them into a sack. It’s past time to give other women the same joy of a loved and lovely dress that my sister gave me.

Lord, forgive me for holding on to earthly treasures too long.

Bless the women who wear those dresses with the sense of beauty that was mine each time I put one on. Amen.

-Penney Schwab

Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:19-21, 25:34-40; Acts 9:36-39



You Get What You Pay For! (that is For Certain too)

This rich person was very faithful about going to church. Their time came about, and they passed on to heaven. Met at the Pearly Gate by St. Peter, they were made to wait. The inquiring mind wanted to know, “Why must I wait, I was faithful about going to church. I was am important person on earth.” St. Peter said, “Well are readying your residence.” Off in the distance as far as the eye could see was fabulous mansion after fabulous mansion. St. Peter finally led the person in and started walking past all the beautiful homes, each one more beautiful that the last. Turning a corner, St. Peter said, “This one is yours.” The newcomer asked, “But this is a dilapidated shack. Why do I get this?” St. Peter replied, “Although you did get rich, this was the best we could do with the money YOU tithed us.”


Tuesday, July 24

Let us run with patience the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)

I’m too old, too fat, and too out of shape! I should cancel now or I’ll wind up holding everyone else back. I was scheduled to hike Havasupai Trail into the Grand Canyon in less than forty-eight hours, but my inner critic just wouldn’t stop talking. The eight miles each way didn’t scare me. I worried that I lacked the stamina to make it back up the final mile of switchbacks, which ascended two thousand feet. I’m not a newbie to hiking. I’ve hiked the Inca Trail, Pikes Peak, and Great Britain’s two-hundred-mile Coast to Coast Walk. But now I’m pushing sixty. My picture of someone that age is an elderly woman crocheting in a rocker, not someone trotting like a mule up a nearly vertical canyon wall.

Then God reminded me this was exactly the same dialogue that had been going through my head before I hiked the Inca Trail-twenty years earlier. So, in faith, I decided to do the very same thing I did then:

practice the Walk of the Patient One.

“The Walk of the Patient One doesn’t get its name from others having to be patient with you,” my guide back in Peru had explained. “It’s because you have to be patient enough with yourself to put one foot

one inch in front of the other. Then repeat, “One small step at a time, I not only made it in and out of the canyon right in stride with my younger, fitter companions, but I also came away with the reassurance that I was stronger and tougher than I’d thought I was. It’s perseverance, not speed, that gets me where God wants me to go.

Lord, please calm my anxious, critical heart and give me the courage to keep moving forward, one step at a time, regardless of how perilous the road ahead seems to be.

-Vicki Kuyper

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 40:28-31; Philippians 4:13




At age 83, Granddad was admitted to the hospital for the first time. “What is this?” he asked as he held up the bell cord they had fastened to his pillow.

“That’s the bell, Granddad,” I replied.

He pulled it several times, then remarked, “I don’t hear it ringing.”

“Oh, it doesn’t ring,” I explained. “It turns on a light in the hall for the nurse.”

“Well!” he replied indignantly, “if the nurse wants a light on in the hall, she can turn it on herself.”





Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear you are more valuable than many sparrows. ” -Matthew 10:29-31 (NAS)

For the last eight months I have been the interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Montezuma, Georgia. This week, one of the elderly men in the church had a massive heart attack. Jack was in the

army during World War II and was part of the Greatest Generation.

Now he lay in an intensive care unit, connected to tubes and depending on a respirator for life.

Last night I stayed up late with Jack’s son in the hospital. I drove home and fell into a deep sleep. As dawn broke, I was jerked awake by the flutter of wings and a small object flying across our bedroom.

Somehow a sparrow had entered our house and was now trapped inside. The bird was seeking the nearest light flooding through a bathroom window. Carefully, I entered the bathroom and dosed the door.

There was the poor sparrow, plastered against the dosed window glass and trembling in fright. There was no escape.

Slowly I moved toward the bird, and it flew to the sink and minor. I carefully opened the window and walked quietly out of the room, closing the door behind me. When I returned, I found the sparrow gone

and was delighted that it was now free.

Several minutes later the phone rang and Jack’s son told me that his father had taken his last breath. I instantly thought of the bird. Death is not a closed door but an open window, not the end of life but the


God, may I live my lift confident that the best is yet to be and that You are good!

-Scott Walker

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 31:5; John 5:24




–  Old pacifists never die, they just go to peaces.

–  Old photographers never die, they just stop developing.

–  Old pilots never die, they just go to a higher plane.

–  Old policemen never die, they just cop out.

–  Old printers never die, they’re just not the type.

–  Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.



Friday, July 20

We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance …. -Romans 5:3 (NKJV)

Adversity does not build character; it reveals it,” American novelist James Lane Allen is credited with saying.

I wondered if that was true. Didn’t adversity make us stretch beyond ourselves, so we would get to a better place?

My body strained. Muscles complained. Four weeks after disk-replacement surgery in my spine, I was okayed by the doctor to start exercising again .. After several months of forced inactivity due to injuries, stretching was my number one priority for getting my mobility back. “Reach a little farther than you’re comfortable with and then hold it for thirty seconds,” the physical therapist instructed. “It’s as

simple as that.”

My muscles trembled as I held on. Finally, time was up. I got up and walked around. Immediately, I felt freer. The stiffness that had locked up my movement had been reduced. Maybe that’s why God is always right there, just out of our reach. It’s so we have to stretch beyond ourselves toward Him.

It’s not only good for my muscle tone, but it’s good for my spirit too.

Lord, please help me stay the course and remember I am gaining strength in difficult times. Help me grow as I stretch out to You.

-Erika Bentsen

Digging Deeper; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Romans 8:18-21;

2 Corinthians 12:9-10



Marriage Secrets

People ask us the secret of our long marriage. It’s really quite simple. Two evenings a week we take time out to go to a restaurant. A quiet dinner, soft music, some candlelight, a slow walk home…She goes Tuesdays; I go Friday.


It was mealtime during our trip on a small airline in the Northwest. “Would you like dinner?” the flight attendant asked the man seated in front of me.

“What are my choices?” he asked.

“Yes or no,” she replied.


Thursday, July 19

There are companions to keep one company, and there is a friend more devoted than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24 (JPS)

I had purchased an Alex Beattie needlepoint canvas of The First Day of Creation, starting it before my husband, Keith, became ill and picking it up again after I began to recover from his death. The beauty

of the design helped to heal me, so as soon as I found out that this canvas was the first in a series covering six days of creation, I phoned to purchase the next five. Somehow the idea of re-creating all that splendor gave me a sense of peace.

The person taking my order told me that day six was sold out, and the artist didn’t think he would return to the series. I bought days two, three, four, and five and asked to be put on a list so that if Beattie ever

rereleased day six again, I could get it.

The canvases exceeded my expectations. As soon as I finished the first, I began work on the second, which surprised me by being even more beautiful, as if I had never realized that creation became lovelier as it went on. I was sad I would have to stop once I finished the flfth canvas, that I would never finish the series.

I mentioned it to my friend Dawn, who thought about it for a short time and then said, “It’s appropriate, really.”

“Why?” I asked.

She smiled. “Because creation is really never finished.”

Thank You, God of Creation, for including friends among Your gifts to us.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: Job 42:10



A Jewish lady named Mrs. Rosenberg who many years ago was stranded late one night at a fashionable resort – one that did not admit Jews.

The desk clerk looked down at his book and said, “Sorry, no room. The hotel is full.” The Jewish lady said, “But your sign says that you have vacancies.” The desk clerk stammered and then said curtly, “You know that we do not admit Jews. Now if you will try the other side of town…”

Mrs. Rosenberg stiffened noticeable and said, “I’ll have you know I converted to your religion.”

The desk clerk said, “Oh, yeah, let me give you a little test. How was Jesus born?”

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, “He was born to a virgin named Mary in a little town called Bethlehem.”

“Very good,” replied the hotel clerk. “Tell me more.”

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, “He was born in a manger.”

“That’s right,” said the hotel clerk. “And why was he born in a manger?”

Mrs. Rosenberg said loudly, “Because some thoughtless hotel clerk wouldn’t give a Jewish lady a room for the night!”


Wednesday, July 18

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind …. -Psalm 26:2 (NIV)

Gabriel and I sat under the shade of our old maple. I read, and my ten-year-old Cub Scout whittled.

“What are you making?” I asked.

He held up a stick that had a thick bottom and an upper part that split to a V.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe a slingshot. Or a rabbit. The top could be ears.”

His dimpled grin warmed me. He tipped his blond head and went back to whittling. His wrists flicked, and bits of bark flecked off and fell into the long, cool grass. J let my book rest on my lap and watched, and as I did I thought of the Psalm I had read earlier in the day: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT).

I adore the relationship between David and God. Because David is secure, standing in the safety of their love, he offers a bold prayer. His desire to be upright before the Lord is as powerful as his need for breath. He knows that God is just, and he also knows God’s love. This must be the kind of prayer that the Lord delights in-an invitation to shape the human spirit with holy hands.

 “Look at this, Mom!” Gabriel said, holding up a stripped stick. “I’m going with the rabbit. It’s not finished, but it’s a start.”

I could see it! Undeniable beauty is revealed through the process of paring.

Search me, Lord. Remove what isn’t pleasing and lead me. Amen.

-Shawnelle Eliasen

Digging Deeper: Job 13:23; 1 Corinthians 11:28




Men are like slinkies…….not really good for anything but you still can’t help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.


Church sign: Jesus Saves!  Safeway sign across the street: Safeway saves you more!

(For the group of ladies called Moms Who Care and pray for the children in school). When their meeting was cancelled one week: “There will be no Moms who care this week.”

This one I said myself during the congregational prayer when leading prayer for our unsaved loved ones:  Father, we just want to pray for our unloved saved ones.

Please welcome Pastor Don, a caring individual who loves hurting people.


The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. -Isaiah 11:6 (KJV)

My friend Mary leads Bible Witness Camp for girls each summer, and there’s always something new to learn.

“Do any of you hold grudges?” she asks the girls.

As a leader, I’m tempted to answer, but remain silent.

Several of the campers raise their hands. Mary chooses one of the campers and places a basketball in a girl’s open palms. It’s comical to watch as she balances the balls with her outstretched arms. “My arms are getting tired,” the girl whines.

“But you have to hold on to the balls. Those are your grudges.” Then Mary picks up a bag of candies. The other girls sigh with delight. “Hold out your hands,” Mary says and pours candies into their outstretched hands. “These are the blessings of the Lord.” The blessings are beautiful to behold-showers of red, blue, yellow, green, and orange.

It is a lesson for the girls, but I look into my own heart. What grudges am I holding on to? The ones that come to mind first are childhood memories to protect me from those who hurt me, abused me.

Mary lifts the two balls from the camper’s hands and replaces them with candy. I’m not a girl anymore. I’m safe, and I don’t need grudges to protect me. I forgive and then feel a weight lift from my shoulders.

My hands are open now, ready to receive blessings.

Lord, show us the weights that we carry, grudges that are invisible to us. Give us the courage to forgive, then shower Your beautiful blessings on us!

-Sharon Foster

Digging Deeper: Ezekiel 34:26-27; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 18:17




–  Walt Disney didn’t die.  He’s in suspended animation.

–  Old white water rafters never die, they just get disgorged.

–  Old wrestlers never die, they just lose their grip.

–  There is no conclusive evidence about what happens to old skeptics, but their future is doubtful.

–  Old preachers never die, they just ramble on, and on, and on, and on….

–  Old ministers never die, they just get put out to pastor…


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