Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

My bank has done something brilliant – besides lending money, giving good financial advice, and providing mortgages. This past week it launched a 30-Day Optimism Challenge. This is the pledge that participants are asked to take: I hereby pledge to be more generous with those in need, more connected with my community and more open to changing my perspectives. I will approach this challenge with an open mind in pursuit of discovering the powers of optimism. I will do my best to not skip a day, make up my own daily act if I cannot complete the one provided… That sounds rather Christian to me, but I shouldn’t be surprised since the bank’s owner is a faithful member of our church.

So far, I’ve completed five of the thirty days. This is what we’ve been asked to do: list ten things for which we are thankful (easy to do); introduce ourselves to a neighbor we haven’t met (a little harder); delete unused apps from our phones (finally); do a favor for someone without being asked (loved that); put an encouraging note on the windshield of a random car (really fun).

We each have a check list to mark as we complete the daily challenges with space for a personal takeaway. I find that as I intentionally practice “optimism” or Christ’s love or kindness or hope (fill in the blank), in return I am filled with joy. I loved meeting my interesting new neighbor, something I should have done long ago, and I wish I could have seen the person’s face when he/she saw my note on his/her windshield.

Actually, hasn’t Jesus asked us to share his Spirit and his gifts indiscriminately with our world? God is consistently reminding us to reach out, to get out of ourselves to bless some other life. I really wish I’d thought of this, but I’m glad the bank did.

Thanks, Tom.

Father, this challenge is a good jump start for reaching out. Help me to make this a daily habit so that when this little exercise is done, I just keep going from one happy outreach to another. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:1  (ESV)


Summer is just around the corner, and I so look forward to it.  Even though I’ve been out of school for a while now, I still mentally organize my days by the school calendar:  For me, the year begins in September, and the end of May brings the summer vacation.  All of us tend to consciously or unconsciously arrange our days according to a system of our own devising.

What do you do with your time?  Some of us work, but all of us have time that is free to allocate according to our priorities.  Time is a valuable commodity.  In fact, we have a number of sayings relating to time:  Time is money.  Don’t waste time.  I need to make up for lost time. Time flies. Time heals all wounds.  And so on…

Have you ever thought of giving God your time?  The Psalmist said, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).  Whatever we do in the next twenty-four hours, time will pass.  If we use that time for good, it will be invested.  If we use it for ill, it will be lost.  If we use it foolishly, it will be wasted.

So here we are at the beginning of the summer season when 60% of Americans take time off work for vacation.  How will you spend your “free” time this summer?  In September, will you be able to look back with joy at the investment you’ve made in a life, in your family, in your community, in the Kingdom?  No matter what you do, the time will have passed.

Make plans now for how you will invest your time this summer.  To paraphrase another old saying, “Only this time, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”



Father, here we are at the outset of another period of great potential.  Help us to wisely number our days and seek your direction for how best to use them to your glory and our highest good.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



 …give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18


Father, time and space are insufficient to thank you for your presence in our lives.  But you did tell us to give thanks, and in our country we are blessed to have a day set aside to do just that.

THANK YOU for everything that is entailed by being your child: everything that pertains to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3) and to eternal life with you forever (I John 5:11).

 THANK YOU for my family who loves and serves you faithfully and that we come together in love, harmony, and mutual support (Psalm 133:1).

 THANK YOU for the community of faith where we can build each other up and encourage one another (I Thessalonians 5:11).

 THANK YOU for our country where we can freely worship and share our faith (Psalm 33:12).

 THANK YOU for always keeping your promises (I Kings 8:57), for always being with us (Matthew 28:20), and for giving us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

 THANK YOU for being our constant resource (Philippians 4:19) whatever the need: physical, emotional, material, spiritual.

 THANK YOU that you don’t give up on us and continue to work in us for your purposes (Philippians 1:6, 2:13).

 THANK YOU that no matter what the circumstances, we can still thank you in the circumstances knowing you love us and always purpose good for us (Romans 8:28).

 THANK YOU for all the prayers you have answered, but I especially thank you for prayers you answered according to your good will and not mine (Matthew 6:10).


 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Psalm 103:1).




Bear one another’s burdens…Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

Then Jesus called the Twelve to him and began to send them out two by two…”   Luke 10:1

I laugh when people emphatically declare their single-handed accomplishments. I remember a young man who was so thrilled that he’d built a thriving enterprise from scratch and all alone. He forgot the people who believed in him when he was nothing and who financially and psychologically supported him. He forgot the successful people who mentored him. He even forgot his own family who, in their limited way, were there for him.

When I was in primary school, my Sunday school teacher saw potential in me and asked me to be her assistant. She turned the class over to me to teach once a month. She convinced me that I could do it – and I did. In youth group, our adult sponsors assured me that I was a leader, and they invested time and themselves in developing my skills. A college professor encouraged me to keep studying and taking advantage of scholarships. Her belief fueled my confidence and a career that would inform many aspects of my calling. My husband, a first generation American, trudged along through school, working as many jobs as he could while studying, and caught the attention of one of his teachers.  “Young man,” she admonished, “you can be something some day.” And because of that and other affirmations, Peter went on to noteworthy service as a state judge.

So, are there really any self-made people? Moses needed Aaron by his side; Ruth and Naomi were brilliant companions; Jonathan encouraged David during some of his darkest hours; and Paul always ministered with a friend. Even Jesus himself traveled, lived, and worked in community with disciples who were themselves learning.

Pride and delusion tell us we don’t need anyone. But think of all the advantages we have in community. If one falls down, the other can help him up (Ecc. 4:10); we can encourage each other (Heb. 3:13); we become wise by being with wise people (Prov.13:20); there is safety with an abundance of counselors (Prov. 11:14); and we sharpen each other in fellowship (Prov. 27:17). The challenges of community are real, but the benefits are eternal.

Jesus’ first appearance to his disciples after his resurrection was in a closed room where they had gathered for fear of the Jewish leaders. Everybody but Thomas was there.  Could it be that Thomas was one of those people who had to process his grief alone? Did he have the need to suffer in isolation? By focusing on himself and attempting to resolve his doubts alone, he missed seeing Jesus. When he rejoined the group, his doubts were dissolved, and he recognized Jesus as his Lord and his God.

John Donne was spot on when he said, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

Father, you said it wasn’t good for a man to be alone, and you instructed us to bear one another’s burdens. Cause us to love one another, to walk together in peace and harmony, and to live and learn together. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.