Just Gotta Have It

“Why waste your money on what really isn’t food? Why work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy?”— Isaiah 55:2 (CEV).



“I want it.”

“No, you don’t need it.”

“I don’t care. I want it.”

This was the recent exchange I witnessed between a mother and her child before the girl started throwing a tantrum in a local store where I was shopping. The item the child insisted she had to have was inexpensive, one of those cheap toys in the checkout line designed to entice shoppers to part with their money on the spur-of-the-moment.

However, children aren’t the only ones who confuse wants with needs. In an article on bankrate.com, psychotherapist Olivia Mellan discusses how people confuse needs with wants. She says, “A lot of us in wealthy, overspending America are either born or raised with a tremendous sense of entitlement. We say to ourselves, ‘I work hard or, I work at a job I hate—at least I should be able to have a Starbucks coffee every day or eat out for lunch.’ But of course, those are not needs, they’re wants. They’re pleasures.”

Maybe they don’t understand that only God can truly fill that void.

I recall one of my college journalism classes addressing the techniques used by advertisers to sell their products. These methods work because they appeal to our human desires.

Christmas in particular has become synonymous with materialism. According to the National Retail Federation projections, this year Americans will spend more than 600 billion dollars just on Christmas. However, if you’re like most people, the gifts you give and the gifts you receive will be forgotten months later because they never satisfy our deepest need—which is a personal relationship with Jesus.

Do You Know How Rich You Are?

“I will praise the Lord God with a song and a thankful heart”—Psalm 69:30 (CEV).

homeless feet


Exiting a freeway ramp in a nearby city recently, I saw a homeless man sitting on the curb near a traffic light. His simple cardboard sign said, “Please help.” With one car ahead of me at the red light, I hit the down button on my car window while simultaneously digging my wallet from my purse.

Before I could hand him the $10 bill I had grabbed from my billfold, the light turned green. As the older man struggled to rise to his feet, I resisted the urge to tell him to hurry up. Continuing to wait patiently, I anticipated honking horns behind me. None sounded. The man slowly stepped out and reached for the cash I gave him. I barely heard his mumbled, “Thank you.”

In the past, I might have been more worried about the drivers behind me and what they thought about the delay on their journey. Maybe that’s because I was always in a hurry myself. I wanted to make the green light before it turned yellow, then red again. My impatience would have won out, and I probably would have honked my horn. However, my patience has improved as God has worked His grace in me.

He’ll probably buy drugs or alcohol with it.

He has also shown me I am rich. No, I’m not talking monetarily. Although it appears I have more wealth than the homeless I see on the streets or those who come seeking groceries at our church food pantry, I do not consider myself wealthy in the sense that society defines wealth.

What is Your Greatest Fear?

“Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong, as I protect you with my arm and give you victories”— Isaiah 41:10 (CEV).


As a child, my greatest fear was of the dark. After my mother had tucked my sister and me in for the night, I would often lie awake with the covers pulled up tightly under my chin. I just knew there were monsters or other evil things lurking underneath my bed or behind the closet door waiting to snatch me away. Shadows, intensified by a full moon or the lights of a passing car, would only heighten my fear.

While I outgrew my fear of the dark a long time ago, there are other fears I still cling to: heights, snakes and being dependent on others as I age.

Other people fear flying, public speaking and spiders. Many fear rejection and failure, being alone and commitment. Those who don’t have enough fear they’ll never have enough while those who have wealth are often afraid of losing what they do have.

What matters is — do we believe?

According to Google, the number one fear researched is “fear of death.” This ultimate fear is a normal human reaction. As a child, I feared death. It was the monster hiding underneath my bed that fortunately never materialized. Some people, however, are never able to move beyond this fear, especially those who don’t have the reassurance of an eternal life through accepting Jesus as their Savior. As Christians we do not have to fear death. We know death through Christ Jesus has been conquered.

What does it Really Mean to Live?

“Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower,’ he told them, ‘you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live. And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process?’” —Mark 8:34-36 (TLB).


Ten years ago this month, God showed me what it really means to live. I had retired from a 30-year teaching career just six months before. Within two months of leaving the public education world behind, God redirected my life’s journey to a different community where I knew very few people.

Before leaving my comfort zone, I had made plans—plans that didn’t involve consulting God. However, as the months passed leading up to my final day of teaching, God got my attention. He had a better plan for my life—a plan to use my gifts and talents for His glory. He had a path for the rest of my life, one I would not have chosen if it had been up to me. However, I listened.

“It’s the paradox of the gospel.”

After relocating to Claremore, God began placing people in my path, people specifically selected for the purpose of keeping me on track with His plan. What if I had ignored the guidance and encouragement from those people, who are now my friends?

What if I had not listened to that still, small voice telling me not to give up? Would I still be writing a weekly column that reaches around the world to places like Ireland, Kenya, Australia, France, Great Britain and many other foreign countries? This was definitely God’s plan, not mine.

The Best Sermons are Lived

“Day by day the Lord observes the good deeds done by godly men, and gives them eternal rewards”— Psalm 37:18 (TLB).


Barefooted and clad in a sheet, the man shuffled across the street. With head down, his demeanor suggested someone who was lost. This photo of humanity had been captured by a Tulsa World photographer and was plastered across the top inside page of a recent Sunday newspaper.

After snapping the photo, the curious photographer wanted to know the rest of the story. Why was this man walking across the street with a sheet around his shoulders? Upon approaching him, the photographer discovered the man had just been released from a criminal justice center early that morning, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.

There are no limits to God’s amazing grace.

The man had called an ambulance in an attempt to get a night’s hospital stay. In addition to the ambulance, the police showed up. According to the man’s story, authorities then arrived and gave him a sheet to protect him from the cold until he could eat breakfast at a local soup kitchen and food pantry when it opened.

When the photographer first spotted the sheet-clad man, he said, “(It was) incredible for me because of the religious implications, but it was unusual to see a barefoot man walking down the street wrapped in a sheet.”

Finding the Beauty and Patience in Each Season

“Now as for you, dear brothers who are waiting for the Lord’s return, be patient, like a farmer who waits until the autumn for his precious harvest to ripen”—James 5:7 (TLB).


A friend’s recent Facebook post read, “I despise fall, but I have to admit that today is one gorgeous day!”

Many don’t like the fall or winter season, preferring the spring and summer instead. My preferences have changed over the years. I’ve learned to embrace each season with its ever-changing scenery.

I always look forward to the transition from one season to another, especially from summer to autumn. Squirrels are busy gathering and hiding acorns. The smell of wood-burning fireplaces permeates the air, reminding me that winter is just around the corner. Leaves transform, sometimes it seems overnight, from greens to deep reds, bright oranges and sassy yellows before they turn loose of the tree branches, dancing softly to cover the slowly browning grass. No painter or photographer can capture this beauty perfectly. Only God, the most glorious artist of all, can create such a masterpiece.

Finding the beauty in each season, we can learn to patiently wait on God.

The word “autumn” has been replaced, in most part, with the word, “fall.” Regardless of the term we choose, this season is a time to slow down after the hectic pace of summer when we try to cram in vacations and other sun-loving activities before it comes to an end.

It’s All About that Grace

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one”—Colossians 4:6 (NKJV).



Hello.” No answer. “Anybody there?” More silence. If there had been a button to push, I would have pounded it with my fist. Yes, I was in a hurry. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been eating fast food for breakfast. The cars in the other drive-through lane had arrived after me. What was wrong with the woman taking orders? It was my turn.

I said, “Hello,” again. This time, a male voice answered. “I’m sorry for your wait. What can I get you this morning?”

I ordered an Egg McMuffin then pulled forward to pay for my breakfast. When the young man pulled the window open to take my money, he said, “Since you had to wait so long, I’m going to give you two Egg McMuffins.” He smiled. I didn’t. I wanted to reply with a snarl, “Why don’t you just give me a free one? I don’t need two.” But I didn’t. Instead, I handed him my money and thanked him.

As I drove away, that still, small voice convicted me. Others, like me, were also in a hurry. Yet, my impatience with the woman taking orders had surfaced and my attitude needed an adjustment. In my spirit, I heard, “It’s all about grace.”

We deserved punishment, but God graciously gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I had not reflected God’s grace toward the people who were serving me. Yes, it is their job. However, they were doing the best they could during the morning rush hour at McDonald’s.