Category: Articles

Verse of the day
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (NIV)

In this world being weak usually means being without power, it means being stepped upon, abused, used, mistreated, taken advantage of, etc. Weakness is seen as a huge detriment. No one wants to be weak. Where does this desire to not be weak come from? A place of fear? Of helplessness? Pride? If you are weak then how can you defend yourself? This world looks down upon the weak. No one wants others to look down upon them.

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Verse of the day
1 John 3:16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (NIV)

What does this look like to you? The laying down of one’s life. It’s very popular in our society, especially in literature, films, and movies, for people to be “redeemed” when they die for others. Even more so when the person dying has been the antagonist of the story. We look to people who die for others in real life as “heroes.” However, I believe that the meaning of this verse goes beyond physically dying for another person. Continue reading

What a glorious day it is today in Sacramento, California! I’m so thankful to be alive. I woke up way earlier than I wanted, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, and dove into my morning devotion. The wind was whipping the trees back and forth as I opened my windows in anticipation. Yes, this is why the Lord woke me up early today. A swift delta breeze greeted me and cooled my room down from the hot steamy night. Cirrus clouds spread through the azure blue while birds proclaimed the wonder of being alive.

Is it just me or do you find yourself running late when you’ve woken up earlier? I think it has to do with the thought that, “I’m up earlier so I can take more time.” I don’t know. When getting dressed, the first shirt I picked out had a very small discoloration that has probably always been there but today it disqualified the shirt. I teach on Sundays and, I know, it’s likely vanity, but I don’t want to be standing up in front of a class with a “spot” on my shirt. I grabbed another shirt and one of the buttons on the sleeve didn’t want to button. I was running about five minutes late and that sucker would not button.

I left the house and when I hit the freeway it was jammed full of cars. On Sunday morning the freeway rarely has much traffic which makes for a nice drive to church. I was late; nothing I can do; so I did what you do while you slowly move through traffic. Up ahead I saw the flashing of emergency lights. An accident. A bad accident. Four, no- five cars. Wow, that car looks like it bounced. An ambulance sitting there. I passed by to an open freeway. I was Fifteen minutes late now but arrived only eight minutes late. I  realized that, had I been on time, I could have been in that accident.

In class, we were on the subject of trusting God. I raised the question, “Why do we trust God with very big things and very little things but struggle with daily activities?” I recounted how, by being late this morning, I possibly missed being in a nasty accident. One of the students was also late this morning and was right there when the accident happened. Fortunately, she was in the furthest left lane and managed to make it through unscathed. However, if she had been on time, she’d have been in the accident. She even marked the exact time of the accident.

Had I been on time, had I not been woken up early, had I not taken the time to enjoy the morning breeze and not noticed that spot on a shirt I’ve worn so many times, I would have been in that accident. I’m usually in that spot, every Sunday, on the freeway. It’s my onramp.

I could have been that person in the ambulance that wasn’t going anywhere. No need to rush for the dead. My student could have been in that ambulance. I’m prayerful for the family that lost someone today.

I don’t know what caused the accident. I do know that Sunday morning driving isn’t driving Miss Daisy either. I see more people speeding to make it somewhere on time than any other day of the week. I hope that wasn’t the case this morning, but I’m there every Sunday and it’s “the spot” where I frequently encounter Sunday Dashers.

I do know that God’s timing is perfect and when I accept that, days happen like today. A normal day, like any other, because I trusted in God’s timing and, today, I’m alive to take a crack at tomorrow.

You’re so Lucky

I’ve been studying Spanish for the last five months or so through online courses and an app on my phone. It’s really cool what we have available today when it comes to learning new languages. When I first learned French I did it in two years at Santa Barbara City College in California. I grabbed hold of French, wrestled it to the ground and wouldn’t let it go.

Ever since I was a child I’ve talked to myself. This comes in handy when you spend so much time on your own. It also came in very handy when I was learning French since it helped me to think in French more and more. It was great living in Santa Barbara where so many people visit from around the world. I was able to talk to lots of people and had great relationships with my professors, so when I was accepted into a study abroad program in Paris, I was already fluent in the language.

When I wasn’t studying in Paris I traveled around Europe, picked up German, Italian and Russian. We didn’t have cell phones back then or MP3 players. Some of the first portable CD players were coming out and I just picked up one of the coolest from Sony. I think I took about 50 compact discs with me to France.

I remember meeting this guy in Prague who was from Sweden who had “forgotten” his French. I couldn’t grasp how he had forgotten the language. When I went back to Santa Barbara I had a hard time switching back to English and the culture shock of the United States was a bit much for me. I withdrew from college and went into working full time.

Russian was the first to go. I could barely read or write it. Enough to get by when I saw Russian signs. It was okay. I was completely fluent in French, one of the languages of my heritage. The German and Italian fled overnight together. The German bothered me a little bit more, but I still had my beloved French.

As the years passed, I would watch French films when I could find them, speak to whomever I could in French and still was very strong in the language. One day, I picked up L’Etranger and I couldn’t read it anymore. I understood some of the languages but my brain didn’t process it like it once did.

I had never understood illiteracy until I was illiterate in French. I still spoke French but I knew my vocabulary had really dropped. It wasn’t until 2015 or so that I accepted that I had forgotten most of French. I had told myself, over and over again, that I would “get it back” when I went back to France. Something I had been telling myself for about 15 years. After all, whenever I traveled to a non-English speaking country I picked up the language quickly, so the French would come back in full force, right?

I recently started studying French on that same app that I have been learning Spanish. What a shock it was to barely remember anything and to have lost my accent. The loss really shook me. However, I’ve continued to study and I’ve started cross studying from French to Spanish, Spanish to French and English to both French and Spanish. I’ve not forgotten as much French as I had thought but that accent. Lord, help me!

Technology has brought the world closer together in so many ways and over half of all web content is in English. How sad. Here we are, with tools that I would have died for years ago. Tools that would have allowed me to keep speaking French, German, Russian and learn all the other languages I wanted to learn at our fingertips, yet here’s English dominating the web.

What’s the point of this lament? Don’t give into English. Learn it, by all means, if you so desire. I believe that language helps us learn more about each other. However, don’t give up the languages you speak. Fight for them. The tools are out there. Perhaps it’s just me, but I love languages, I love words and I love joining them together in sensual harmony.

So, whatever you do though, don’t settle for personal device translators and technological crutches that steal the wonder and joy of language. Sure, you can have a conversation with someone in a language you don’t speak, which is cool. How much better though, if you learned the language and the gifts of the culture behind it?