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We all have problems, but one problem is avoidable. Happy Birthday To The Most Terrifically Special Person I've Ever Met Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Joel 1:12. In our scripture, things are at their very worst. The people in our text have had everything attacked by palmerworms.  What the palmerworms left, the locusts came behind and devoured.  What the locusts left, the cankerworms have gobbled up.  What the cankerworms have left, the caterpillars have consumed. Life can be like that.  Problem upon problem and loss after loss. However, the worst loss is the loss of joy. "Your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22). When joy leaves a person's life, it is not because it was stolen.  Joy leaves when it is relinquished.  Joy is never forcefully removed; it is willingly released. How terribly sad. My father passed away at the very young age of 56.  All of his life was marked by health problems. One problem my father did not have was a problem with joy.  My dad loved to laugh and, even more, he loved to make others laugh.  He had a great sense of humor.  As a kid, I could always find my father.  I just listened for the laughter, and there he was. During his many hospital stays, my father would always make his doctors and nurses laugh. On one particular bright sunny day, Dad was in the hospital.  A nurse came in and said, "Mr. Turner, you have such a beautiful view from your room!" Dad, pointing to a particular building, said, "You're absolutely right... if you enjoy looking at a funeral home!" There can be joy in every situation.  How?  First, you have to embrace the truth that joy is already present.  SEcond, you have to let joy do its natural work. And, third, you have to decide and determine to not let anyone or anything take your joy. When a thief steals your joy, you are also culpable. Photo courtesy of Lotus Carroll.  

You might have every reason to leave. Eagle Watching on the River Road Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Psalm 11:1-2. As the Psalmist found himself in a very difficult situation, those around him pointed out all the reasons why he should want to take flight.  In fact, they encouraged him to "fly away." You may be in a similar situation.  You may be seeing all the reasons to "hit the road."  You may have people close to you encouraging you that it would be for your betterment to leave. But.... Your trusting relationship with God is telling you something else.  He is telling you to keep your feet on the ground. And... You, just like the Psalmist, know that this is just a test. (See Psalm 11:5.) Most tests are not fun and most of them are not easy.  However, they are necessary.  Without testing, you cannot be taken to the next level. Sometimes the test is all about seeing if we have what it takes to stay.  Other times, the test is about seeing if we are just being stubborn and will not move. Deep down inside each of us, we know what kind of test it is. Just because the eagle has wings doesn't mean that it's always time to fly. Photo courtesy of Brad Tutterow.

Have you experienced true love? Chain O Lakes 253 Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Song of Solomon 8:7. I am one of those kind of husbands that believe housework should be shared by both spouses.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., are not solely the woman's responsibility. That being said, the past seven days, I haven't felt well.  As a result, I haven't washed a dish.  I haven't laundered any clothes.  I have not made the bed.  I have brought bedding into the living room, to the sofa, and left it there. I haven't made any of our meals.  (I have been through the drive-thru a couple of times, though!)  The list of what I have not done the last seven days, as a husband, is endless. But... my wife's love for me has not changed. True love is not performance based. True love flows from the giver. "Nothing separates us from the love of God" (Romans 8:38-39). As we begin a new work week, let's commit to be people of true love, like Yeshua.  Let's have a love that burns intensely regardless of what waters are thrown upon it. Many waters cannot quench love.  Even Mondays cannot put out the flames of a love fueled by God. Photo courtesy of Michael Kappel.  

You may need to hear this. Sand castle Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 1 Peter 1:6. Simon Peter reminds us that our trials are only for "a little while." I have a very interesting problem with my car.  Occasionally, it will not start. My mechanic has looked at it and believes that the problem is the ignition, the computer, both, or something in between.  Just when he is about to find the problem, the car starts. My mechanic tells me that I can start replacing parts until the problem is resolved. The least expensive part is $300.  He also gave me a Plan B.  He told me that when the car doesn't start, just wait ten minutes.  So far, the "wait ten minutes" plan has worked. In life, many of our problems are like my car's problem: temporal. I tend to panic when a problem surfaces.  Do you? Simon Peter is encouraging us to not panic, but rather exercise patience. Whatever you are going through is only for "a little while." What you are worried about, may all be resolved "in a little while." Be encouraged. We can all wait ten minutes, can't we? Photo courtesy of readerwalker.  

It is in the very fiber of our being. Matt Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. As soon as God formed man from the dust of the ground, He put him to work. We were made to work. In a perfect world, people work. As we face another week, let's face and embrace the concept of work. Not only is work a must for most people, it is also a means of expressing ourselves.  Who we are on the inside is made known by what we do. Back in my grocery store employment days, a co-worker said, "They are going to get minimum work for minimum pay."  A few days later, this young man was getting "no pay" because he was "no longer needed" in the store. When a person enters into a personal relationship with God, he or she steps into a new life that is made of doing new work and new works.  (See Ephesians 2:8-10.) As much as you and I would like to kick back and relax, we are designed to work. Our scripture reminds us that there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Happy Monday! Photo courtesy of Brian Auer.

You have to really appreciate the Queen of Sheba. Big Meadows - discovery walk (found a caterpillar) Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 2 Chronicles 9:1. The Queen of Sheba heard a lot of things about King Solomon.  There were some quite amazing stories being spread about him.  She went to see if they were true. The Bible encourages us to "test all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:21.) When I was in Bible College, one professor constantly repeated, "Facts are stubborn."  Guess what?  They are. If it's true, it will hold up to the most intense scrutiny. You can't do anything against the truth.  No matter anyone does, you just can't hurt the truth. Let's follow this example set forth by the Queen of Sheba.  Before we get too caught up in the awe and wonder of something, let's do our homework  and prove it. Before "liking" something you see on Facebook, see if it's true.  Before sharing an email, do a fact check.  Your truth seeking friends will appreciate this. Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks.  

Consider doing now what you are about to postpone. 140211-N-GW139-100 Today is Throwback Thursday.  Click here and see what we were discussing two years ago. Photo courtesy of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

One word can get you into a lot of trouble. Walk through the library Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Revelation 20:12. The National Football League is expected to adopt a 15-yard penalty on players using a particular word.   The use of that word could determine the outcome of an entire game.  Penalties can determine how a game turns out. In our scripture, we see the Final Judgment.  As the Judge makes His determinations, a single word will not be the criteria, but rather whole books. A life is a story.  Some life stories are recorded in several volumes. In life, sadly, people can be judged by one page, sentence, or even a single word out of their story. A chapter does not make a book. A sentence is not the whole paragraph. One word is not the whole sentence. I heard the story of a town drunk getting saved.  He walked the aisle at the end of a sermon and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  He was so excited and asked the parson if he could testify.  He stood before the congregation and said, "Most of ya'll know me.  Well, I just got saved and I am so blankity blank blank blank happy to be a Christian!!!"  After realizing what just came out of his mouth, completely embarrassed, he put his hat on his head and slowly walked out the side door.  The pastor followed him and invited him back into the service.  The pastor said, "Finally, we have somebody that really got something in this place!" A slip of the lip did not take away from the change in this man's life. You and I have seen, or maybe even been guilty, of viewing a person's entire life through the lens of one incident. Let's follow the example of the Judge of all the Earth.  Before making a judgment call, read all the words in the books, not just one. Photo courtesy of Sarah Ross.

Which decisions are the most difficult for you to make?  Is it the big ones or the small ones? Happy Friday! Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Jeremiah 8:3. Some say that the most difficult decisions are the small ones.  I disagree.  I think that small decisions are usually easier to make.  Also, with small decisions, they are usually reversible. In big decisions, a lot more is at stake. Deciding on where you will go on a date is a lot less serious than deciding who you are going to marry. In our scripture, a big decision is being faced: life or death.  Sadly, death is chosen. Today you will face numerous big decisions. Choose hope over despair. Choose love over hate. Choose belief over doubt. Choose positive over negative. Choose being others-focused over being selfish. Choose life over death. Photo courtesy of regan76.

It's still difficult for me to wrap my mind around what I heard. Atlas Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Galatians 6:1. Several years ago, a visitor at church told me, "When it comes to my place in the Body, I am the eye.  I can see what's wrong in any church in just one visit." A year or so later, another visitor said, "I am the index finger in the Body.  My job is to point out errors." I didn't believe either one of them.  Personally, I don't believe that "fault finding" is a spiritual gift. As we launch out into a new week, you and I will encounter problems and problem makers.  It would be easy to just point out those individuals and their mishaps. The real "people work" is all about restoration. Everyone messes up and anyone can by a bystander watching. The heavy lifting, the meaningful work, is doing the dirty work of cleaning up a mess and restoring messy people. A great week will take more than a critical eye and a pointing finger.  It will take the whole you and a whole lot of love. Let's be like Yeshua the Carpenter this week.  Let's do the heavy lifting. Photo courtesy of Maritime Haftek.  


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