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Tribute to the Father

As a child, I grew up under the strong hand of a wonderful, loving and godly father. (Sometimes I felt his hand was a bit stronger than necessary, but looking back, I can see why he had to be so firm with me.) Whenever Father’s Day came around, I was always happy to either make or buy a card for him, give him a token of my love and make his day special. It was a day I looked forward to.

As an adult, I appreciated Daddy even more and, with a husband and family of my own, came to understand more fully the need to be firm but loving. When we moved to Florida many years ago, it seemed that Arkansas (Daddy’s home) was continents away from ours. We spoke on the phone quite often but were able to see each other only a couple of times a year.

When Daddy died, I felt alone. Although I had a husband and family, there was nothing like having my daddy to talk to. I knew he loved me no matter what my faults or failures were and always wanted the best for me.

Even after Daddy died, I still loved Father’s Day. It was always a special day in our home. I enjoyed watching our three daughters make or buy cards and gifts for their daddy. We would fix his favorite foods and make him “King for a Day.” read more

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Must Prune to Bloom

A weeping, flowering cherry tree is one of the most beautiful of all of the ornamental trees. We bought my mother-in-law one for Mother’s Day many years ago. She was so excited. Being a certified nurseryman, I planted the tree exactly the way it should be done. The next year it bloomed nicely—and even better the next year. 

However, after about four or five years, my mother-in-law called me right after the tree had bloomed. She expressed concern because the tree barely bloomed at all that spring. In fact, she said it was pitiful. The next time we went for a visit, I took my pruning clippers and small pruning saw. While she watched, I got the ladder and went to work. Several times I heard her say, “O my,” and “O dear.”

Correct, effective pruning is different than just “shearing” the tree to look like a lollipop. There are two basic types of branches that need to be removed. The first is a branch that is growing the wrong direction. These branches rub the other branches and can cause disease. They also block out the sunlight that is needed for flower buds to form. 

The other type of branch to prune is a “sucker” branch that shoots out beneath the graft. These branches are incredibly dangerous to the life of the tree. They will draw all of the strength and energy from the tree into themselves, and the tree will often die—but only above the graft, which is where the blooms grow.  read more

Entering the Highway of Healing

In April of 2001, my pastor solemnly announced from the pulpit that he’d had a vision and in it I was healed. I didn’t believe healing was “for today,” but my face lit up and I smiled back at him from my pew. The Lord showed him that He was going to open me up to hear the truth.

At the time I was sick with an incurable disease called multiple sclerosis. I felt hopeless and helpless. Seismic tremors wracked my body. There were multiple malfunctions on every front. I was in a losing battle.

Later, Pastor “Doc” asked if he could come over once a week to show me what the Bible said about healing. He was a Class A+ worshipper, and he told me two things were required before I could enter the highway of healing and he wouldn’t begin working with me until they were done.

He said, “Here’s the first thing. Are you right with God? Do you willfully disobey Him?”

Hey, what kind of question is that? I go to church. I believe in Jesus. Though briefly offended, I knew I needed to pray. That night, I lay on my bed, alone, and I timidly asked, “Lord, am I right with you?” I heard no answer. read more

Another Chance

If we humbly confess our sins and failures, the Lord faithfully forgives us and immediately restores our fellowship with Him: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But He doesn’t stop there. He immediately schedules another chance for us to obey, providentially arranging another situation spiritually similar to the one in which we failed.

Why? To punish us further by cruelly reminding us of our failures? No, His kind purpose is just the opposite. He wants us to be able to forget our failures completely. So He provides us with another chance that we might avenge our spiritual defeats and live thereafter in the joy of overcoming rather than the frustration of failure. He wants us to be more than forgiven; He wants us victorious! Joyful! Soaring!

Not surprisingly, our Creator understands our deepest thoughts. He knows that even when we believe that we’re forgiven, the memories of our past failures tend to linger and vex us. Like David, we sometimes feel as if our sins are always before us (see Ps. 51:3). read more

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