Category: <span>thoughts by Marilyn Ehle</span>

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.�
Jeremiah 17:7-8

In our well-intended effort to protect our children from the effects of an increasingly secular and self-absorbed culture, I wonder if we are growing spindly saplings instead of sturdy oaks?

Children are naturally curious about anything they perceive as “forbidden fruit.� Have you ever watched a toddler who has been told “don’t touch�?? As soon as the parent’s head is turned, little fingers reach toward the hot oven door, wet paint or sharp knife.

How much better it would be to read together the questionable book, sit side by side during the dubious movie or television program, and then discuss the subject in light of our being called citizens of the Kingdom of God.

First-century Christ followers were not all adults. Children also lived under the reign of godless tyrants. They, too, were slandered for their faith. Entire families lived in caves. They were stripped of the support of extended family as they became “scattered exiles� (1 Peter 1:1).

It is wise to support seedlings fresh out of moist earth, but robust trees are formed when they learn to bear the hot sun, drenching rain and howling winds. Only then do the trees create seeds which abundantly reproduce.

Lord, you know how much I want to protect my children from all harm and evil. You understand how my heart breaks when they make poor choices. Teach me how and when to intervene so they will be strong enough to withstand all that life throws at them.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/09/18/me_trees/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…� Colossians 3:17

His entire career had been spent in the university classroom, not only lecturing in his chosen field but also encouraging students to always reach for higher goals. He loved the challenge of young minds as well as the personal intellectual and scientific growth, but the mandatory retirement age was looming. He couldn’t imagine filling each day with golf or fishing; he wondered what kind of stimulation lay ahead.

And then came the phone call from a young man he had known years earlier as a campus minister, a man he remembered who built life-changing relationships with students while leading them toward fuller understanding of life with Jesus Christ. Could they meet for coffee?

The scheduled hour flew by and turned into three. Would the professor consider a new career after the classroom: meeting regularly with faculty to share his personal faith in Christ and help those who expressed interest to walk into spiritual maturity. His heart quickened as he thought of the possibilities. He could be an influencer of the influencers. He would remain in academia albeit with a different perspective, an eternal perspective.

Today this professor remains in the hallowed halls he loved so much but he enthusiastically awakens each morning with the knowledge that in a very real sense, his career is just beginning.

Father, thank you for the wide roads of opportunity that lay ahead for each of your children. There truly are no closed doors for your Spirit, no end to a life of serving you.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/08/24/me_retired/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Seek the Lord and live… “ Amos 5:6

Last evening I talked with a man who had just received a death sentence. Doctors recently announced that a person with his condition lives, “on average,� five years from the point of diagnosis. A vague verdict at best. Out of fifty people, ten may live five years. Science cannot accurately predict the life span of the other forty.

This man and his wife have already walked through some of life’s most turbulent waters, losing their only son. All their hopes and dreams died when the vibrant boy dropped dead of unknown causes while dribbling a basketball on their patio when he was only eight years old. And now this.

Did Henry just receive a death sentence? Most of us would see it that way, but in our conversation Henry continually used phrases like “I am so blessed,� “God is so good,� “I’m so excited about what God is doing.� This does not sound like a man living under the cloud of impending death.

Erwin McManus writes, “Is your goal how long you will live or that you will live?â€?* We were created for life, and death is an interruption originally brought about by sin. But even death has been redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ. Christians are familiar with the words, “O death, where is your sting?â€? and Eugene Peterson vividly captures that truth in this paraphrase: “Death swallowed by triumphant Life! 
Who got the last word, oh, Death?  Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?â€? (1 Corinthians 15:5)

Henry is choosing to transform a death sentence into a life sentence as he and his wife triumphantly walk with their ultimate Victor, seeking to live.

Father, thank you not only for life, but for the power you provide to live with triumph.

*Seizing Your Divine Moment

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/08/20/me_life-sentence/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“A man who has friends must himself be friendly…�
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…�
Proverbs 18:24 and Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)

“I’ve been in this church 14 years and I can’t find anyone to talk to on Sunday morning.�

When I heard those words from an intelligent, attractive, mature woman, I questioned their validity. Because the church is large, it provides myriad opportunities for involvement—everything from hiking to knitting groups, Bible studies to craft classes, mission trips to music.

How is it possible for an individual, over the course of many years, to not find a niche in a local church? An acquaintance employed by the foreign service of her country’s government and who moved every three to five years—usually to areas of the world far from friends and family—said there was a relatively simple way to emotionally survive in such a lifestyle: “Dig in immediately. Try new things. Invite strangers to your home. Find a place to serve. Don’t give up.�

Jesus is our example for entrance into a new culture whether it be a school, church, community or country. He moved out of his “comfort zone� of heaven. He developed relationships with people of diverse backgrounds. He unselfishly served. He went to parties and weddings, even daring to eat with sinners!

Followers of Jesus must be people with passionate purpose. While not everyone is an unreserved extrovert, we must not use our personalities as an excuse for lack of involvement. We dare not wait 14 years to find someone to talk with. We are called to intentionally serve, not be served.

Jesus, you are my friend but also my example of friendliness. Not a friend whose hand is weak and words glib, but one who intentionally reaches into my life. Help me be creative in doing the same for others.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/08/02/me_friends/

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by Marilyn J. Ehle
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“And the child grew and became strong in spirit…�  Luke 1:80

Her thick dark braid swung to one side as she struggled to open the heavy church door. I had offered to accompany her to this first night of a children’s program in a church we had just begun to attend, but she said she could do it alone. She was not a gregarious seven-year-old, preferring books to games, moments alone to group play. My heart sank as I watched her pull on what seemed to be a huge obstacle to an evening of enjoyment.

In the decades since that evening, I have watched this shy child evolve into a competent woman who has struggled with doors far heavier than massive ones made of wood. My heart ached as I watched her walk alone through airline security, leaving the refuge of home and family in Europe to begin university in California. Later she planned her own study program in France, away from the familiar halls of that university. After graduation she would move alone to New York City to attend graduate school. She floundered and almost sank when an important relationship was cruelly severed. She navigated the waters of choosing a career, buying a home and building a life as a single woman.

Perhaps struggling with wooden doors as a little girl was a first step in what would become a lifetime of far more challenging decisions as a daughter, friend, aunt, teacher and counselor. We dare not open doors for our children they can open for themselves.

So often our natural response is to make life easier for our children, forgetting that it is by opening increasingly heavy doors that they will ultimately succeed. Teach us, Lord, when and how to help.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/07/29/me_opening/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is�
1 John 3:2

Have you ever let your imagination run wild while watching children? The five-year-old twirling to music only she can hear becomes a ballerina at Lincoln Center. The twelve-year-old fearlessly swooping on his skateboard is transformed into a competent, confident jet pilot. The eight-year-old girl pushing up wire-rimmed glasses on her small nose as she pores over a book turns out to be a renowned author or professor.

It is this kind of imagination—but with the holy touch of transformation—that God has for His children. While He sees and loves us as we realistically are, He also sees what we can become through our submission to and cooperation with His plan.

While thousands have heard the name D. L. Moody and millions more have been affected by his life and ministry, words by a relatively obscure minister named Henry Varley deeply penetrated Moody’s life and sparked holy imagination within. In describing a conversation with this man, Mr. Moody recounted:

“Ah…those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with ‘Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.’�

Let us spend time imagining what wonderful things God might have in mind, and then make ourselves available as conduits for His will.

Father, my perspective is so earth bound.
Teach me to see both others and myself with a wild and holy imagination
.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/07/25/me_his-then/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Oh, how I love your word! I think about it all day long.�
(Psalm 119:97, (Living Bible)
“All scripture is God-breathed…so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work�. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

It was a week of body-numbing activity as we worked in clinics near poverty stricken villages. We awakened early and fell into bed exhausted each night. Children seemed to pour from buses like water out of a bottomless pitcher. Challenges multiplied as we faced the logistics of meeting the endless vision, dental and medical needs of over 2,000 children.

We were Christians—surely we began each day in lengthy meditative prayer and gleanings from the Bible? While some of the team met each morning for a few quiet moments, the reality was that responsibilities swirled for those of us in leadership, demanding attention nearly every waking moment.

In the midst of these long days that were drenched with activity and people, the gracious Spirit of God repeatedly brought to my attention words that had long before been committed to memory and implanted in my heart.

From this resource, God brought to my attention answers to problems even before they were articulated. He provided all that was necessary for the needs of the moment.

The city in which I live depends on reservoirs for its water supply. When there is insufficient winter snow or spring rain, we are warned to carefully monitor our water use.  In a similar way, our spiritual reservoirs cannot go long without refilling. Returning from the humanitarian project described above, I was desperately thirsty for fresh and abundant “water of the Word� and God is faithfully refilling what I had spilled into others’ lives.

Father God, your word refreshes and fills and invigorates me as I faithfully meditate on it. Thank you for its life giving strength.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/06/07/me_reservoir/

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
Matthew 6:21

Set your hearts on things aboveColossians 3:2

Jan and I sat in the cafe musing about what our dream homes would look like and where they would be. We were currently living in a country not of our birth, in houses certainly more than adequate but not truly of our own choosing. We led busy lives and on this particular day were probably more than little weary.

Jana whose not adept at or fond of cooking described her future kitchen: “About the size of a closet with only an efficient microwave and very small refrigerator.” We agreed that our preferred site would be on the eastern United States sea-coast in a weather beaten cottage with a white fence around the yard.

Many years have gone by. Jan lives in a quaint, small home but it is on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. My life is lived in a condominium in a suburban setting thousands of miles from the sea.

Have our dreams gone unfulfilled? Were our musings wasted time? Both Jan and I have moved into lives that have many challenges but are overall satisfying. (She still doesn’t cook much but owns a full-sized kitchen!) Our longings for the sea are partially indulged by an occasional holiday visit.

It is not wrong to keep a notebook of fabric swatches for the furniture of our dreams. House plans, garden layouts, paint chips of favorite colors are good memory joggers. But when dreams of the future supplant following hard after God’s plans for today, we can easily be diverted from His best for us.

Father, it is so easy to lose my focus on your grand plans. Keep me ever vigilant to hear your heart, then my own desires will fit perfectly into your own.

by Marilyn Ehle

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“For Christ himself has made peace between us and you by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us.� 
Ephesians 2:14
(Living Bible)

It looms above the lush greenery of the surrounding countryside. Visitors from around the world climb its thousands of timeworn steps. First built over 2,000 years ago, the original purpose of the Great Wall of China was to defend against invading tribes from the north. Today it is a mere rocky symbol of an imperial past.

Another wall, one of more recent memory, remains physically visible only in the small chunks preserved on corner shelves of those for whom it has special meaning or in larger pieces safely ensconced in museums. The Berlin Walls’ foundation has been covered over by modern buildings, brick sidewalks or green lawns. Its original purpose was to restrict access of a beleaguered people from seeing and escaping to a free world.

Walls of brick and stone are doomed to eventually crumble, either from the ravages of time or the unstoppable urge for freedom. But emotional walls between individuals and groups are far more damaging and enduring. Walls of remembered hurts, abuse, prejudice all loom and divide. Where walls exist, conversation is shallow or stilted, indeed is often non-existent. Fear replaces vulnerability. Hearts turn as stony as the rocks in the walls of China and Berlin.

Only one force is strong enough to collapse these dividing walls. Only when we submit our wills to Jesus Christ, the One who died to purchase our freedom, can we begin to live without the walls we believe so necessary for protection.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/05/21/me_walls/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer�. Psalm 19:14

Christian DevotionalMy husband thanked me this morning for something I had said in an earlier conversation. I’ve no doubt of his sincerity.  I’m confident that he loves and respects me.  His words of thanks brought a glow to my heart…until—with hardly a breath between the words of thanks and the next phrase—he added, “but…�  What followed were not words of spite or disdain, but simply what he considered to be a flaw in my attitude.  The glow evaporated as quickly as a wisp of smoke and although I didn’t verbally respond (I am slowly learning to bridle my tongue!), those “but words� roiled within until I could later totally relinquish them to God and thus regain a sense of peace.

How often do I speak “but words� to my Heavenly Father?   I express gratitude for His great gifts but quickly add, “but couldn’t you do a little more?� Or I say thanks that He has promised to never leave or forsake me, then add, “But I want to feel your presence.�  God will be pleased when both my words and my inner attitude express contentment with his will.

Help me, Lord, to be honest and simple before you so that my words and my attitude express trust in who you are and how you lead.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/04/20/me_thank-you/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Search me, O God… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.�  Psalm 139

Housecleaning was an every – Friday ritual in my childhood home. Not a mere swish of a dust cloth, but a room-to-room, thorough cleaning that included polishing furniture, cleaning woodwork, vacuuming carpets, scouring sinks and bathtubs and – on hands and knees – scrubbing every inch of exposed floor. My mother was an expert at detecting the smallest speck of untouched dirt in a corner. The response to my plaintive cry of “No one will ever see itâ€? was a firm, “But I will know it’s there.â€?

Most of us who follow Christ truly want to live lives that honor Him. When confronted with attitudes and actions we know to be wrong, we confess them to our loving Heavenly Father and appropriate His forgiveness and grace. But what about the “corners�?  Those things we wouldn’t call grievous sins, but which would certainly offend Jesus if we were face to face with Him.

Am I willing to allow – even ask for – the revealing light of God to expose the corners of my life? When the corners are clean, God and I can walk in the richest friendship along the way everlasting.

Thank you, Father, for shining your light of love into every corner of my life so that I can walk in unrestricted fellowship with you.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/03/31/me_corners/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“What shall I do with the one you call the king of the Jews?� 
Mark 11:12

The crowd has been whipped into a frenzy. Only days before, many of these same people had raised their voices in praise to Jesus, shouting loud “hallelujahs� to the one they thought could deliver them from Roman domination. Why, now, do they roar for a death sentence from Governor Pilate?

Walter Wangerin, Jr. writes, “This is the natural reaction of sinners in the presence of a Holy God.� We are inexorably drawn to a Jesus who feeds our bellies and heals our wounds, but when he quietly calls for commitment outside our comfort zones, we step back, uncertain we to be that radically identified with him.

While the crowd roared, Jesus stood humbly yet majestically silent before the questioning governor. He stands that way today before each of us. Eventually we must all personalize and answer the question: “What will I do with this one called King?�

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/03/26/me_your-answer/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Stop!� Samuel said to Saul “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.� 1 Samuel 15:16

We found it by accident. After a brisk winter walk in a park north of New York City, we were ready for a hot cup of tea or coffee. After parking the car, we began walking toward the town center. And there it was—a cozy tea room with small tables, friendly wait staff and quietly conversing customers. The thick menu described hundreds of teas and several appetizing food items. With our selections finally made and the aromatic brews poured, we visibly relaxed. With a plaintive sigh, our daughter asked, “Why don’t I stop for this every day?� She is a high school teacher and her many responsibilities and relationships seem to fill every waking moment.

Time for a cup of tea—or coffee or hot chocolate—may not involve any beverage at all. The importance of the ritual involves stopping. For the follower of Jesus, stopping is crucial—stopping the whirl of activities, stopping the ever-present household or career responsibilities, stopping well-meant ministry. Just stopping. Stopping to hear and drink in the quiet voice of God.

We read that Jesus often left the crowds with their deep physical and spiritual needs to stop. He even stepped away from his disciples to whom He would soon entrust the Kingdom. We must do no less. When will you stop for your cup of tea today?

Lord, stopping seems so unproductive! I have been trained to believe that to stop means an interruption in moving forward toward success. Please continue to remind me that I will only hear “what the Lord said to me� if I stop.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/02/07/me_tea/
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by Marilyn Ehle
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“What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him— and in seeing him, become like himâ€?.
1 John 3:2, (The Message)

A good friend of mine recently died after a long bout with cancer and an extended stay in a care facility. Strange as it may seem, when I heard the news of her death, my first reaction was, “Heaven will be no surprise for her. She’s been living for years in the presence of Jesus.�

My last visit with Susan—just two weeks before her death—was just like all my other visits. Her first question was about what God was doing in my life. Her face, now thin from the ravages of disease, was lit with a brilliant smile. Susan’s work with international students through the years was continuing as she met twice weekly with one of the kitchen staff who wanted to improve her English. She spoke lovingly by phone every day with her mother whose confused mind was withering because of senile dementia. She asked if we could pray—not for herself but for her patient, tired and loving husband. “This is so hard for him,� she said. 

When Susan stopped breathing the air of earth, I know she swelled with love at the sight of her Savior. She had been becoming like Him for a long time. Heaven wasn’t really a surprise; she had lived its reality for years.

Father God, help me look longingly at you each day and live increasingly like you so that when I see you face to face, I will not be surprised, only overcome with joy.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/01/21/me_heaven/

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By Marilyn Ehle
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The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go the land I will show you – I will bless you – and you will be a blessing…”  Genesis 12:1

It made no “common sense” for Susan to submit a resignation. She had recently received a promotion. She is multi-talented, recognized in her field as an expert. Her creative genius is seen in many multi-million dollar homes in the area. On a personal level, she has been mentor, friend and encourager to those just starting out in the design field.

So why is she resigning? Some might say she is running from what had become an increasingly difficult work environment. Others would wonder if she’s lost the competitive edge so necessary in much of the business world. Or could it be that she—as a Christ-follower—has simply heard Him say, “It’s time to move on. I have something else for you now.�?

To leave a position, place or situation when God says, “Go”, is often misunderstood. Sometimes even the one leaving wonders if this “makes sense”. Long ago one man heard such a word from God, and his willingness to follow was miraculously turned into blessing that follows us even today. It made no “common sense” to leave the comfort of home and family, to give up that which provided security, but Abram went and became a blessing.

And so goes Susan. The blessing is not yet seen, but God never calls without purpose and plan.

“Thank you, Father, that we can trust your call in our lives. Help us be sensitive to your voice and faithful to follow”.

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