Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12, 13

A young mother was recently sharing a note her child had written on the occasion of a disappointing grade, “I did my best.” I don’t know about you, but those few words brought tears to my eyes. If they touched me so deeply, I’m thinking our heavenly Father is often moved when we fail even though we’ve done our best.

Think of how our behaviors and interactions would be altered when someone comes up short in our measuring scheme if we extended mercy and not criticism. If we embraced them with God’s love and not our selfish, petty condemnation. We assign this and that motive to actions (or inactions) of which we disapprove, and then we behave accordingly. We cut people off because they don’t meet our standards or they hurt our feelings or they don’t respond as we expect.

But WHAT IF, instead of judging and punishing, we begin to say, “He/she did her best.” Sure, I can think of all the reasons people behave as they do – their family backgrounds, their experiences, their education (or lack), their culture, their traditions… And so, what difference does all that make if we really want to love them with God’s love and if we want to respond the way we want God to respond to us?

Father, you told us that we are to do to others as we’d have them do to us. Help us to give up our gavel and robe and instead say, “She did her best.” In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


For in him we live, and move, and have our being… Acts 17:28

I’ve just returned from a delightful trip to our nation’s capitol with my daughter-in-law Brooks and grandchildren William and Caroline. We landed and hit the ground running, making the Air and Space Museum our first destination. I marveled at the progress made from the Wright Brothers’ first flying machine to the tiny space capsule housing our brave astronauts and remembered that the first “meal” taken in outer space was the holy Eucharist. And then watching the stars and planets and all the various systems fly at us at breathtaking speeds in the planetarium: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3, 4)
Walking back and forth between museums and our hotel was a visual reminder of our nation’s place in this global society. Restaurants offered dishes from many countries while unfamiliar languages swirled about us. We met people from everywhere, and our drivers all had different homelands. One of our drivers had Jesus stickers all over her dash and told us she was a Christian from Ethiopia. Everyone had a story. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)
In the Museum of Natural History, the array of animal life, its variety, size, and color called for appreciation of a Creator not only with great imagination but also a wonderful sense of design, color, and humor. Who else but God would give mama kangaroos pockets for their babies? (That might have been helpful for the mother who forgot her baby in the airport’s waiting room last week.) Or the fish who live in the deep sea and are almost transparent for safety’s sake? Think of giraffes whose long necks allow them to nibble on the tree tops… “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this.” ( Job 12:7-9)
Just at the point of our being totally exhausted, eight-year-old Caroline would run ahead of us with a huge toothy grin and twirl and spin her way down the sidewalk, bringing laughter and smiles. Reminding us of why we were there and the joy of being. “…a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)


The Museum of American History evidenced divine protection against overwhelming odds as this nation was created. Our forefathers battled enemies stronger, better equipped, and better trained. But their reliance was on God. At Valley Forge, Isaac Potts discovered General Washington praying in the woods, entreating God’s mercy when all seemed to be lost: “Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.” “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
Such stories were repeated multiple times: In the War of 1812, the British Navy bombarded Ft. McHenry, and yet only one life was lost after the battle. Throughout our history, people have prayed for this nation. Lincoln issued nine calls for prayer and fasting during his time in office, and on it goes. We know of the Miracle of Dunkirk, and I remember the prayers we all prayed for our boys (and my brother) in Vietnam. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalms 91:1, 2)
Even the monuments reflect God’s sovereignty. At the top of the Washington Monument are the words, “Laus Deo” (“Praise be to God”). Throughout the Capitol there are references to God and faith, and the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” is engraved on a plaque on the wall. President Lincoln’s second inaugural speech is carved into his Memorial in which Lincoln mentions God fourteen times and quotes the Bible twice. The Jefferson Memorial is filled with Jefferson’s references to God. The Supreme Court has images of Moses with the Ten Commandments while all sessions of the Court open with the “Courts Marshal announcing: God save the United States and this honorable court.” “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalms 33:12)
Our visit to Mt. Vernon, Washington’s beautiful country estate was initially chaotic as hundreds (if not thousands) of school children descended on the gates about the time we arrived. After the initial onslaught of students, we discovered that farm demonstrations were limited to small groups. (Whenever we felt overwhelmed, God brought quiet and respite.) We learned of our first president’s humility, ingenuity, and remarkable leadership skills. There is debate about his religious inclinations, but his practices certainly demonstrated a man of great integrity and charity. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
At the close of each day, we unanimously agreed that the day had been wonderful. And then we awoke to the news that our flights had been cancelled due to the grounding of certain aircraft. But even then, our God who strengthened our nation’s founders and guided them in creating this unique experiment in democracy, remembered us and made provision. Brooks and the children got a bonus day in D.C., and I returned in time to host a missionary brunch in my home the following morning. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
I love knowing our heavenly Father is with us every single moment for every single occasion, not just the good times. He’s a God for every day.
Thank you, Father, for reminders of you wherever we go.



But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. II Corinthians 4:7


Have you ever wondered why, in spite of trying so hard and being so sincere, we still sometimes don’t accomplish or don’t succeed as perfectly as we’d like? This passage from II Corinthians sheds light on exactly that dilemma. Paul says that the treasure of the Holy Spirit within us is housed in an earthen pot. It is temporal, breakable, and worth very little. It’s what’s inside that has all the value.


God led the prophet Jeremiah to visit the potter’s house and gave him a message. Jeremiah observed the potter as he worked the clay spinning on the wheel. But the pot that he was shaping was spoiled in his hands, and so he had to smash the clay together and begin all over until the vessel took on the image that he intended (Jer. 18:1-4). The potter had complete control over the pattern as well as the process. God asked Jeremiah if he couldn’t do the same thing with his people.


It’s helpful to remember that we are God’s workmanship. We are not the designer. We do not do the molding. We do not determine how we will be used. We are clay with the simple assignment of being still and lying quietly on the wheel as God fashions us. He doesn’t ask our advice, and he doesn’t need our permission. When his work is done, we will be perfect in his sight, and he will fill us with himself to be used for his purpose.


Let us simply be still, trusting God’s good work in us. He knows what he is about.


Have thine own way, Lord
Have thine own way
Thou art the potter
I am the clay.

Mold me and make me
After thy will
While I am waiting
Yielded and still.
(Adelaide A. Pollard)


Father, that shaping process can sometimes be painful. Help us as we trust your good wisdom and your love as you mold us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Ephesians 5:2 (KJV)

We’ve just finished our annual church council meeting where our theme was “Walk in Love.” We looked at the many ways we can actually demonstrate love in our daily Christian walks so that we go beyond just talking love to doing love. It’s so easy to talk the talk but much harder to walk the walk.

When my brother and I were growing up, my mother used a rather effective punishment to ensure that actions spoke louder than words. If either of us were mean or spoke harshly to each other, Momo intervened, and justice was swift. Jack and I had to face each other and recite, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). What followed afterward was even more stringent: we had to hug and kiss each other. Of course, we always wound up in gales of laughter. Momo was determined that we understand love as a verb.

We could probably all make extensive lists of how to demonstrate love. When I think of how God loved and gave for us, it’s so much easier for me to put self-love on the cross and ask for his love to fill and flow through me. Now it’s time to take action.

Father, may I daily become more like you in loving, in giving and forgiving just as you loved me. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.