Faith Nuggets

3 Strategies to Protect Soft Targets from Danger

05/26/2017

Ariana Grande's “Dangerous Woman” world tour turned inside out May 22.

“Take your time. There’s no problem here,” can be heard on a loud speaker as panicking people scream, “oh god.”  Neither statement means anything. “There’s no problem” wasn’t true.  “Oh god” is slang.
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3 Strategies to Protect Soft Targets from Danger

05/26/2017

Ariana Grande's “Dangerous Woman” world tour turned inside out May 22.

“Take your time. There’s no problem here,” can be heard on a loud speaker as panicking people scream, “oh god.”  Neither statement means anything. “There’s no problem” wasn’t true.  “Oh god” is slang.
Read more...

Are You a Flower or a Skunk

05/05/2017

I heard it in her voice...

even though I was just reading her email. She had a deadline. She was short-handed. Shoulders tensed, she wondered how she could get her kids from school, swing by the hospital, and still meet her 5 p.m. deadline. Can you relate, if not to her situation, to a time when you’ve felt pressure and been stressed? If so, consider adopting the following two tips to find rest in stress.
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2 Tips for Finding Rest in Stress

04/07/2017

I heard it in her voice...

even though I was just reading her email. She had a deadline. She was short-handed. Shoulders tensed, she wondered how she could get her kids from school, swing by the hospital, and still meet her 5 p.m. deadline. Can you relate, if not to her situation, to a time when you’ve felt pressure and been stressed? If so, consider adopting the following two tips to find rest in stress.
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Are You Ready for the Big BOO?

03/04/2017

This has been a week of remembrances.

My mother died on February 28, 2002. Her death-bed experience was one of a kind. At least I’ve not heard of another like it. We were prepared for her death. It had been a sweet morning of “Mama” taking her last sip of coffee.  My two sisters, Keith, and I had repeatedly patted her arm, held her hand, and expressed our love for her. We huddled around her as she lay in her bed at home. She closed her eyes and took her last breath. Eyes fixed on Mama, tears rolled down our cheeks. Then, to our surprise, she popped open her eyes and said, “BOO!”  Can you imagine if that had been your beloved elderly mother? We laughingly scolded her, “You’re supposed to be seeing angels!”  Mama got wha she wanted - smiles on our faces. Then, she closed her eyes and went to be with Jesus.
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You’re Invited to the Wedding

02/01/2017

“Hi Debbie, well, here’s another hat I wear…”

and so continued an email with an invitation to attend the Christian Inaugural Gala in Washington D.C. the evening prior to the Inauguration. Joe Battaglia, who was on the Host Committee, explained in his email that regardless of one’s personal preference for the candidates, Scripture makes it clear that we should pray for those in authority. And so, my husband and I went. We had no idea what to expect. What we experienced surpassed our expectations. The invitation to the Inaugural Gala reminded me of the greatest invitation given - the invitation to the marriage feast of the Lamb.
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Use Hindsight for Foresight in 2017

01/01/2017

Have you ever goofed really big?

Or done something stupid?  Maybe you just weren’t thinking and in hindsight thought to yourself, “What was I thinking?” That happened to me today.  I decided to delve into some deep cleaning after having company over the last few weeks and doing lots of cooking.  The first thing I tackled was our gas stove. When sudsy water didn’t do the trick, I grabbed the oven cleaner (to use on self-cleaning ovens). I had a twinge of wondering if it was okay to use on gas stoves, but plunged right into the project…in a hurry to check it off my “to do” list.
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Offer Jesus Instead of Seaweed to the World

12/16/2016

Walking into my hotel room, I eyed the gift basket the women’s retreat ministry team had placed in my room.

I wasn’t starving, but decided to see what treats they’d provided.  After eyeing a dark chocolate covered almond, I popped it in my mouth. Spotting an unfamiliar package, I studied it:  Organic Roasted Seaweed Snacks, Sea Salt.”  Yum!  Seaweed – I’d never tasted it, but heard it was super healthy. Opening the bag, I removed the green cellophane packaging, appreciative that the lady who prepared the basket included healthy snacks. However, I was perplexed. Under the first piece of green cellophane, which was now getting my fingers oily, was another piece of green cellophane and another and another. Laughing at myself, I realized the “green cellophane” was the seaweed.

I was cautious. At an early age my mama taught me cellophane could kill a person. I can still hear her voice, “Don’t wrap that plastic around your face! It can suffocate you.”  I repeated her words to my children. Now, I was supposed to eat something that looked like it might choke me. I did what any reasonable person would do and put a tiny bit on the tip of my tongue. It tasted HORRIBLE. I thought about it and realized that many things had at first tasted horrible to me (Brussel sprouts, coffee, spinach) but now I love them. I attempted it again. It was once again horrible. Spitting it out, I wondered who in the world liked it. Fish! Fish must like it. But, since I’m not a fish, I don’t have to eat it. Tossing the snack in the trash, I wondered why anyone would buy it a second time. Then, it hit me. Someone who became familiar with it; who liked the taste. Maybe someone who grew up eating it.

Think About It

If we grew up in a home where organic roasted seaweed with sea salt was the snack our mothers gave us, we’d think it was normal.  “Seaweed! Come and get it,” she’d call and we’d come running. We’d love the pretty green rectangle. “Wipe your fingers,” she’d loving remind us to remove the greasy oil. And so, it would be natural and normal for us to eat seaweed. But what…. just what if we went to grandma’s house and she gave us a slice of sweet juicy watermelon?

What Believers Have to Offer

I recently read in the Kerrville Daily Times the following headline, “KPD busy with unattended deaths, drug busts.”  The lengthy article listed burglary of a vehicle, a woman threatened by a man holding a handgun, marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside a student’s room, theft, DWI, burglary of a habitation, domestic dispute between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in which  the mother-in-law was accused of pushing, putting her hands around her daughter-in-law’s neck and kicking her, more DWI, more thefts. The next day, I watched the YouTube parody “Sponsor A Millennial”… so they can live entitled lives. The bottom line, often we know and do what we grow up around. If we grow up eating seaweed, we eat salty seaweed until someone offers us sweet watermelon. If we grow up in a home where there’s pushing, kicking, stealing, and drugs, that’s likely what we’ll do until someone offers us Christ.

This Christmas season, as we meet and visit with friends and family who are discouraged, harried, or maybe even a little salty, we have the opportunity to share Christ’s sweetness.  And, with those who have never been introduced to Christ, we can share Him, the only One who can satisfy the soul.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him,” Psalm 34:8.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Use us to share Your gifts of Christ’s love, peace, and joy with others. 

Why I’m Afraid to Stand Before Holy God without Jesus

11/04/2016

It had been a silly difference of opinion. Well, not really silly.

It had been a difference of opinion. I’m a researcher. I study almost every day. I research topics as they relate to our body, mind, and spirit. I research both sides. I write, teach, and speak to appeal to people on the basis of God’s Word. So, when I express my opinion, needless to say, I set myself up for criticism.

But what does that have to do with being afraid to stand before holy God?

I can pour over the Scriptures. I can pour myself into others. But, the more I study the Word, the more I realize my sin.

For the second year, I focused my 365 DAYS of PRAISE blog post on God’s attributes. I, like perhaps you, enjoy reading that God is love and peace. He is patient, kind, and long-suffering. God is our comfort, help, and deliverer. And, even though it’s not as “touchy feely” or a verse we put on our Christmas card, we’re glad He is judge and vindicator.

But, I’ve been holding back from you, and a friend who isn’t a Christian nailed me on it. He said that Christians don’t talk about God’s wrath; that if they don’t follow Jesus, He sends them to hell.

I Have An Answer, Don’t You?

God doesn’t send people to hell. We’re already condemned by our sin nature. God offers a way out of condemnation and hell through Jesus; who willingly laid down His life and paid our sin debt.  John 3:16-17

But, my friend made a point. In all honesty, I do speak more of the love of God. Perhaps that’s because I’m beyond grateful for His love. I do speak more of the mercy of God. Perhaps that’s because I’m so aware of my sin. I don’t write as much about the wrath of God and seldom teach on it.

But, to omit speaking of God’s wrath and righteous anger is to delineate God. It’s an attempt to make God fit our taste. For example, consider a cup of coffee. A child could ask me what I’m drinking and I could tell them water. They could watch me fill my Keurig with water; then press the “brew” button. They could watch me take the cup and drink it. But, if they look inside the cup, they’d see something different than clear water. They’d see black. If they took a sip, they’d taste something different than the water from the faucet. They might burn their tongue on the hot liquid. The taste would be strong; not mild. But, it’s water. The child may argue that they saw the water come from the faucet. Yes, but it’s more than water. Just because the child didn’t stand on tip toe and see the coffee being brewed with the water, it doesn’t change the fact that coffee is more than water.

Why am I afraid to stand before holy God without being forgiven of my sins? Because I’ve stood on tiptoes. I’ve peered over the counter and read Scripture. I’ve seen that God is more than Jesus’s love flowing into people’s lives. His righteous anger is real. God is love. But to limit His nature to love is as naive as to insist that coffee is only water.

So, Christian friends, maybe we need to be more forthright when speaking of God. Maybe we need to say we’re afraid to stand before holy God without our sins being forgiven through Christ’s death on the cross.

““Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” Romans 5:9

Believer’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and for Jesus taking my place on the cross. Help me live a more honest life and speak the truth in love to neighbors and friends.

Sinner’s Prayer

Lord God, I’ve rejected You. But, I know I’m a sinner. I’ve done wrong. I can’t stand in Your Holy presence and my sin not be exposed, so I’m afraid to die. I don’t understand everything. But, if You’re willing to forgive me because Jesus stepped up to the cross and took my place, I accept. I thank You. I ask Your forgiveness. I don’t understand Jesus being willing to do that, but I want to follow someone who would do that for me. Forgive me. Make me a new person. I need and want Your Holy Spirit to come and change me from the inside. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever calls on Him will not perish, but have eternal life, For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.

Cry to Abba Daddy

10/20/2016

Last week, I had two firsts.

By that, I mean I had two experiences that I’ve never had before.  My sister, Linda McConnico, who is fifteen years older than me, has laughingly said that when she has a “first time experience” at her age, it’s pretty amazing. Since she said that, I’ve been paying attention to my “firsts.”

First Time to Eat Dinner at 11:30 P.M.

Keith arrived on a late flight into San Antonio last week. Rather than eat in San Antonio, we had planned to come home and enjoy cooking out and catching up. We ate at 11:30 p.m. That was a first.

First Time to Cry Out “DaDa” to God

On the way to pick up Keith at the airport, I listened to Timothy Keller’s podcast, “Praying in the Spirit.” In it, he explained what I’d been taught years ago – that “Abba” means Daddy. But, then, he explained that it really means Dada. Its one of the earliest word infants say. “Dada,” they call, reaching for their father’s neck. “Dada,” they cry when they’re hurt.  “Dada” they call when their daddy comes into the room.

Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words explains “Abba Father” in this way:

“Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; “father” expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.”

Romans 8:15 explains that the believer’s relationship with God is that of Father and child. God has adopted us. He’s an “up close” personal, loving Father. We should not think of our relationship with Him as if He were a taskmaster and we are His fearful slaves. “…you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba! Father!”

Dada! Father!

For the first time this week, rather than praying, “Heavenly Father” or “Lord,” I opened my prayer, “Dada.”  I know it sounds funny, and I have no idea why I felt led to share this with you. But, there’s something sweet and intimate about calling, “Dada, Father!”

Dada! Father! I love You

Dada! Father! I need You

Dada! Father! help me. I don’t know what to do

Dada! Father! forgive me

Dada! Father! take care of my loved ones

Dada! Father! comfort and heal….

Dada! Father! help me stand against temptation

Dada! Father! use me for Your purposes

Call On Abba Father

Have you ever called to God, “Dada! Father!” It’s sweet. It’s personal. It’s between just you and Him. No one ever has to know. But, you could try it.

Maybe sometimes, we need to put aside our formality. Maybe sometimes, we need to grasp the reality that we have a spiritual Father; that we are His children.

Jesus opened His arms to children and blessed them. Can you imagine your Heavenly Father’s arms wrapped around you?

Call out, “Dada! Father!” Confess your love to Him. Tell Him your needs.

Our Dada, Abba Father, we adore You and love You. May we run to You with arms full of love and hearts full of trust. In Jesus’s name, amen.