Lions and Lambs

March 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

By all accounts this winter has been a rough one, so it’s nice to finally make it to March. Though spring has not arrived yet, if the old saying holds true, this month will go out like a lamb after coming in like a lion.

Those two creatures, lions and lambs, provide perfect pictures to represent fierce, ferociously cold winter days and the gentle, sweet warmth of spring. With regard to weather and animals, both visuals signal with utter clarity an attitude or mood, and very real behavior and actions that accompany it. Both are appreciated and necessary at times, together providing balance and complementing one another.

In our faith, we typically strive to exhibit the softer spirit of the lamb. We want to be Christ-like in our interactions with others, because we hope our behavior will honor Him and draw others to Him. It seems unnatural to take on the lion’s personality. However, there are times for lion behavior as well.

When defending our Christian beliefs, standing up for Biblical truths, fighting forces of evil – none are better than the lion to be the champion of faith. Jesus behaved like the lion when he drove the merchants and money-changers from the temple. He knew what was needed in that moment, just as He did in all His lamb moments as well.

Both the lamb and the lion demonstrate love, but they do so in different ways. Whether we are talking about faith, parenting or weather, there is a place for both. They may seem like polar opposites, but neither is as special without the other.

PRAYER: Gracious and Giving Father, help me to identify those times when the spirit of the lamb will serve You best, and help me to recognize when only the strength of the lion will do.
“And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:15-16 KJV).

School Supplies and Snowstorms

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

Second semester of school is underway, and my sixteen-year-old sophomore has begun looking for a part-time job. He feels comfortable with driving now, so we’ve decided a job would be a good thing for him as the weather warms into spring. Hence, there is a new teaching opportunity. I am explaining how to approach a potential employer, fill out an application, and exhibit the skills and traits employers desire in their employees.

While many applications are online, there is still some of the paper-pencil variety. Thank goodness for Wite-Out supplies. I prefer correction fluid over tape, so as my son muddles through the tedious application forms, he has occasional errors that need to be “erased” or painted over. These tools do a good job of concealing the sloppy writing or wrong information so the correction can be in its place. However, a random shadow sometimes bleeds through, and the new writing may betray the error underneath. It’s as good as we can get.

Here in my hometown, we have been pummeled with ten inches of snow today, which ranks as quite a big snow for this area. Though it is an inconvenience, people always comment on the beauty of snows like this. Brown, dead grass and floral remnants are covered over. Ruts made in sloppy yards by new drivers are unseen. Dog toys and clutter is buried. An unsoiled glistening carpet resurfaces dreary yards with a brilliant white. When the snow melts or is sullied by tracks and machines, though, that perfect white layer is spoiled.

When Jesus washes our sins away, along with the mistakes, sloppiness, dirt and grime of our lives, we are made clean—white as snow. The old is eradicated leaving no trace of what existed before. We are made new in Him. More life-changing than a handy tool, more beautiful than a fleeting landscape, is the transformation He provides through salvation.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of salvation, for forgiveness of sins, for the promise of eternity, and for the joy found in being one of Your children.

“That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 ERV).

Bunny Trails Worth Following

January 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

The garnet and the carnation are the gemstone and flower, respectively, which are typically associated with the month of January. Born in the ‘60’s, I remember, too, that most folks born in January fall under the zodiac sign of Capricorn, but about one third are born under Aquarius. I did my sixth-grade term paper on the subject.

I wondered this morning how long the poinsettias that I purchased during the holiday season will last into the new year. I bought three, one each of the pink, white and red varieties. Then, I wondered what flower might represent January. A quick search gave me the information I sought, but revealed that the poinsettia is not, in fact, the standard December flower. A few sites identify the narcissus plant as such. That doesn’t seem right, given the fact that narcissus relatives daffodil and jonquil are recognized in March. Besides, who likes that name?

Any question we have can be asked online, and probably most have been at one time or another. It’s amazing how much time can be absorbed (wasted) in the pursuit of information that is largely pointless. Unless I happen to become a jeweler or horticulturist, my morning revelations probably won’t do much for me.

I have a love-hate relationship with social media and technology. The vast amounts of information available, the opportunities for sharing and connecting, the business opportunities—all are amazing benefits of all these “time-saving” tools that we now have at our disposal. However, how much time is saved, and how much is lost when we get caught up in online searches, discussions and mere musings?

And, how often do we dig into our paper and virtual Bibles with the same reckless abandon of time to hunt down answers and connect? As we begin a new year, most of us trying to do and be better, let’s consider our use of time. There are no better connections to make than the one we make with our Lord, no information more precious than what we learn from His word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to wisely use the time I am granted. Lead me to, and help me maintain focus on, endeavors that serve others and glorify You in this new year.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).

Boldly Go

December 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

“To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

As the 13th motion picture of the Star Trek franchise is scheduled for a 2016 release, this charge still elicits thoughts of the unknown, adventure, danger, courage and fear. Only persons uniquely equipped qualify for those missions. Only the very elite dare travel to such untold places.

Likely the most significant unknown many of us will enter is the adventure we call parenting. Unfortunately, though, that particular journey is not always faced with the bold confidence displayed by our favorite Star Trek heroes. In fact, sometimes the bombardment of expert parenting information, unnerving financial expectations, and frightening news-making scenarios leave parents disabled and dumfounded. And, potential parents, after a bit of exploration, may decide to avoid the proverbial parenting abyss altogether.

Let’s consider these confidence killers. It’s great to read the latest advice in preparation for the birth of a child, but it’s equally important for young parents to keep things in perspective. The little fellows are resilient, and a precisely-orchestrated bedtime routine or an ergonomically-correct binky won’t matter much in the scheme of things. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Now, who of us hasn’t gotten caught up in the idea that kids need a perennial birthday bash or new clothes each school year (whether old ones fit or not) or a periodic room re-do or the newest phone or… or… or… It’s tough! We need to fight those feelings and get over it. They don’t!

The final threat to bold parenting is fear. Parents just can’t shake off worries about our children’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Rather than trying to escape terrifying thoughts, we should simply cling to His word for reassurance.

The Bible offers clear instruction about parenting. We are to love, train, discipline, and provide for our children. These four simple, and not entirely simple, tasks work together in the process of child-rearing. He prescribes this combination of ingredients to parents throughout time, and none of us should neglect or favor one component over the other.

While parents will, not may, encounter difficulties along the way, we should proceed boldly into the parenting realms with Him at our side.

PRAYER: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for parenting instruction provided in Your word. May we set aside doubts and fears, and courageously parent. For we are fully armed with Biblical guidance, fully supported by Your love.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 KJV).

History’s Great Gift-Givers

December 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

By my latest count, there are 10 consignment or second-hand stores in my town of 10,000 citizens. That’s one used-goods establishment for every 1,000 people. Does that seem like a lot to anyone else?

Let it be known that I am completely supportive of endeavors to reuse, recycle, re-purpose, and even re-engineer objects in order to give them added life. However, I still find myself coming to one conclusion—we all have just too much stuff. Brain science, right?

Perhaps we should keep that in mind as we do this year’s Christmas shopping for friends and family. Before we populate our homes with a fresh set of electronics, clothes, tools, gadgets and toys (only to do a big household purge in January), maybe we should also consider two of the most famous and generous gifts ever given by man.

At two critical points in the life of Jesus, he was the recipient of wonderfully heart-felt expressions of love. Soon after his birth, esteemed wise men came to see him, and, as we know, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi traveled to view this prophesied Messiah, pay their respects, and honor him with gifts worthy of a king.

Then, near the end Jesus’s life, Mary, sister of Lazarus, demonstrated her deep love for Jesus by washing his feet with perfume and drying them with her hair. While some were offended by her gift, Jesus recognized this gift as far more than a gesture.

In these examples, the “gifts” did include tangible items that were given. In fact, Mary’s perfume was extremely expensive, as were the incense, spice and precious metal brought by the wise men. But, it seems to me the greater gift was in the lengthy journey of the wise men and the humble service of Mary. It was their magnificent expressions of devotion that most clearly demonstrated the love each had for Jesus, not the sharing and giving of the material items.

As I review this year’s gift-giving list, I think I’ll look for occasions when a visit, time spent, or a service provided might mean much more to someone than just another package under the tree.

PRAYER: Most righteous heavenly Father, as I select gifts this year for my loved ones and friends, help me to remember the spirit of giving demonstrated by Your servant, Mary. Help me to have a heart for giving like hers.

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3 NIV).

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