ALABASTER JARS

Life in Abundance


Leave a comment

Much Like Dirty Pots

by Ruth-Ann Thompson

Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. John 13:8, New International Version.

small__6112258221It had been a particularly stressful few days—sickness, unplanned meetings, unexpected visitors, plus an assignment that took me away from home and the children for a whole day. Routine household cleaning was the last thing on my mind.

Returning home at the end of the last long day, I looked around my messy home and wasn’t sure where I should begin. But when I couldn’t have a drink of water because there wasn’t a clean glass in sight, dishwashing was the obvious place to start. Somehow, without me noticing and being somewhat too tired to care, our dishes had piled up.

I was shocked. While I was busy, my family had done nothing to help out. Every dish, cup, glass, mug, bowl and every utensil and receptacle was absolutely filthy! Some had to be soaked for a later scrubbing! Time seemed to go on forever as I scrubbed and scoured (and scowled and screamed).

And then through my frustration, I realized that my sins are far more disgusting than any stack of dirty dishes could ever be. So often I go to God with my plan expecting Him to do a quick and simple cleansing process on me and send me on my way! But then He gently reminds me that there is so much more work He has to do.

With that insight, I chose not to be angry with my family. In my attempt to remove the toothpick from their eyes, God showed me the telephone pole that was lodged in my own.

So wash me clean, dear Father. Do what you must to remove every impurity from my soul.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.

photo credit: cuantofalta via photopin cc


Leave a comment

The Okra Syndrome

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

okraThe bright green, fresh and tender okra brought back memories of standing on a footstool and sharing a kitchen counter with my mother. As I rinsed my okra, I remembered instructions and warnings drilled into me—all specific to cooking okra in India.

1. Always buy twice as much as you need because half will definitely be rotten on the inside.

2. Never use okra whole or in large chunks because you might end up eating the rot that you can’t see. (Numbers 3 and 4 are obvious requirements resulting from numbers 1 and 2.)

3. Soak the okra in a mixture of bleach and water to exterminate e coli and its distant relatives. Then rinse and dry every single piece with a clean, dry towel.

4. Slit every okra lengthwise and carefully examine the innards for worms and weevil droppings.

Ones with even the tiniest hint of anything foreign resulted in the entire okra tossed in the trash. Saving the unaffected portion of the okra was not an option in my mother’s kitchen. And looking for worms and droppings was my job.

I was very good at it—probably out of fear that my negligence might poison the family! It wasn’t an easy task either. It wasn’t something I could multitask while listening to music or talking to a friend. The okra required my undivided attention. Okra worms are masters at camouflage. They curl and entwine themselves around the inner ribs and tunnels with their little heads looking just like the creamy white okra seeds. And you have to look really closely to identify the tiny grey dot of a mouth that differentiates the worm from the okra seed.

All this training came back to me as I prepared my okra. I really wanted to fry them whole, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I did like I was six again. I began slitting each one lengthwise and carefully examining it for worms and droppings. One by one, over and over. About half way through and having found no worms, I objectively and rationally realized I needed to stop with the craziness.

But, I simply couldn’t. I continued, until I checked every single okra in the bunch.

The whole thing got me thinking. This is how I am in life. I have a major case of the okra syndrome. I remember the details of every time I’ve been burned, hurt, taken advantage of. And I go overboard with preemptive measures, making certain I never have a worm or weevil dropping in my life again.

In a way, I guess that’s a good thing. But in more ways, it’s not good at all. Paranoia has a way of sucking the fun out of life.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


Leave a comment

Don’t Fear. Say Yes!

by Tonya Mechling
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Acts 8: 30, New American Standard Bible.

There is an innate desire within us to serve God. Ideally, we want to do His will and we want to share Him with others. This willingness to serve, however, is often difficult to put into action. Personally, I struggle. Sometimes, I am too busy or too tired to care for the hurting, the dying, the suffering.

In the midst of a very hectic school year, I read Acts 8. I contemplated the words that God placed before me. Just when I needed encouragement, God had a special message for me. Philip’s actions inspire us to hear God’s call!

Philip was chosen by the Apostles to serve as a deacon. I don’t know the specifics of his duties, but I am sure that he was busy. Acts 6 presents images of helping widows and serving tables. After Stephen was put to death, many of the early Christians scattered. Philip could have easily relinquished his duty to serve God. Instead, we find Philip in Samaria vehemently preaching the Good News.

At the height of successful evangelistic endeavors in Samaria, an angel sends Philip on an expedition to a desert road. Philip might have been tempted to tell God that he needed to stay in Samaria, but instead he heeds the call. This part of the story is where things really get interesting. As Philip travels the dusty road, he sees a court official from Ethiopia reading. He could have hesitated, but instead he runs! At the exact moment that the Ethiopian cries to God for help, God sends Philip. Philip’s willingness to serve led to the Ethiopian being baptized and believing in Jesus.

I encourage you, today, to answer the call. Don’t be afraid of the service God calls you to do. God will empower you with all of the skills, energy and time required for the task. Like Philip, you will be greatly blessed.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


Leave a comment

Problems Take a Back Seat

by Fylvia Fowler Kline
God’s name be ever blessed. Job 1:21, The Message

I was there to listen to Bruce sing again in the quartet for the first time in three years. To compensate for the loss of salivary glands, he took long sips of water between songs. And on one of his water breaks, he shared his testimony. He began, “Three years ago I got the blessing of cancer.”

It was a time when nothing seemed to be going right. His health was in crisis, his marriage was falling apart and his business was struggling. A man of faith, Bruce turned over his problems to the Lord. He prayed, he meditated on God’s Word, he exercised faith at every turn, he surrendered to God’s will. But he couldn’t shake the heaviness of his problems. It hovered over him. Then one day while praying, he realized that it wasn’t enough to turn everything over to God. He needed to find a way to praise God for his problems. He needed to live like he really believed that “all things work together for good to them who love the Lord.” And that’s when his problems took a back seat in his life. And that’s why he is able to say his cancer was a blessing.

There’s the kind of faith that helps you to stoically wait for God’s plan to unfold, so you can see in hindsight that everything that happened was meant to be. Then there’s the dynamic kind of faith that does more—It is an active agent that enables you to laugh and live and rejoice during your trials. Most all Christians have the first kind of faith. But those who have the second kind live every day with the rush of contentment and peace.

It was this second kind of faith that allowed Job to chastise his wife with the words, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


Leave a comment

Mushroom-like Tenacity

by Ruth-Ann Thompson

If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there, if I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:8-10, New International Version.

Among the growing list of complaints in my new townhouse was my upstairs bathroom. There were plenty of signs of water damage in the floorboards, including bowing. I feared the support would one day give way, but my pleas to have it fixed went unheeded.

One night after the children were asleep, when I entered that fateful bathroom, I stopped short at the sight. Up from between the floorboards grew a cute little mushroom. We won’t discuss what happened from that point on and how quickly my bathroom got rebuilt!

Yet, I can’t help but admire that little fungus.

Even in the darkest and dirtiest places that we find ourselves, God’s mercy and grace will allow us to grow and become useful in His kingdom. I thank God that wherever I am, His love reaches out to seek and find me.

If you have made a wrong turn or done something that you are ashamed of, take it to Jesus. He already knows. He already cares. He’s already there!


2 Comments

Christian Pick Up Lines

Hilarious. Found these here.
1.  ”So last night I was reading in the book of Numbers, and then I realized, I don’t have yours.”

2.  ”Hey, I’m Will. God’s will.” (Tip: Your name should actually be Will)

3.  ”You put the “stud” in bible study.”

4. “Now I know why Solomon had 700 wives… He never met you!”

5.  ”I didn’t know angels flew this low.”

6. “I’m no Joseph, maybe you can help me interpreting the dreams I’ve been having about you?”

7. ”Is it hot in here or is that just the Holy Spirit burning inside of you?”

8. ”Is your name Faith? ‘Cause you’re the substance of things I’ve hoped for.”

9. ” How many times do I have to walk around you to make you fall for me?”

10. ” I didn’t believe in predestination until tonight.”

11.  ”Is this the transfiguration? because you are glowing.”

12. ” Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead.”

13. ” Excuse me, I believe one of your ribs belongs to me.”

14. ” Let me sell you an indulgence because it’s a sin to look as good as you do.”

15. ” Me. You. Song of Songs: the remix.”

16. ” Is it a sin that you stole my heart?”

17. ” Want to practice speaking in tongues with me?”

18. ” What’s your name and number so I can add you to my “prayer” list?”

19. “I just want you to know, I’m praying for you… No, I’m praying “FOR” you.”

20. “Here’s my number… Call me if you need prayer.”

21. “I’m usually not very prophetic, but I can see us together.”


Leave a comment

The Crazy Side of Divine

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Luke 1:38, The Message.

Seems to me like most of God’s plans are on the somewhat crazy side of divine. Is it to amuse His audience, to make obedience that much more difficult or is it just for theatrical purposes?

For instance, making man out of dirt, fighting a giant with a boy, bringing down a city wall with horns and trumpets, feeding thousands with a couple of fish. And, of course, creating Baby Messiah without sperm.

What’s with all this divine flamboyance? I’m not second-guessing God; just wondering. After a closer look and a more serious reading of the stories, it seems like all the behind-the-scene acts of grace imply that it’s not about His own dramatic glory or self-gratification. Likewise, all the love and mercy He pours out on us wretched people imply that it’s not about trapping us into sin either. So, the only reason I can come up with for these bizarre plans of God is to nurture trust.

God asks Noah to build an ark during rainless times or asks us to do something equally nonsensical not because he likes to confuse humans or play Twenty Questions, but because he wants us to learn to trust Him. God wants us to be willing to do it His way, no matter how crazy the request.

We need to have the faith to know that when God asks us to do the illogical, He does the impossible. Like when Mary was told she would have a baby as a virgin, we too must be able to say with ease and conviction, “I am the Lord’s, ready to serve.”


Leave a comment

Waves of Anger

by Stephanie Yamniuk

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8, New International Version.

Soon after we were married, my husband and I attended a seminar.* We were beginning our new life and looking for ways to build a peaceful life together. Ten years later, I still remember a technique we learned to get rid of negative thoughts.

When you feel angry or hurt, it’s easy to begin a negative script in your head. It goes something like, “I can’t believe he just said that. How rude! If only I could tell him what a jerk he is, I would. In fact, I remember when . . . .” This negative self-talk is just as destructive as discouraging words and hurtful actions. What we tell ourselves in our hearts and minds soon becomes reality. To break this negative cycle, you must fill your mind with something positive. One technique is to think of a song you like and singing it in your mind when negative self-talk starts taking over your thoughts.

When I am feeling angry or frustrated, I often cry out in prayer and sing the song, ‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus. The chorus goes like this:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

With children just 12 months apart, I used to often feel overwhelmed trying to balance the life of a wife, a mother and a workingwoman. Some mornings were worse than others–-getting two sleepy children out of bed; feeding them breakfast when they weren’t hungry (the daycare wouldn’t feed them); and then trying to leave the house on time. And all this without bursting into tears.

But then, God gave me this song to sing and soon my children knew it too.

Thank you Lord, for your patience and compassion. * All Power Seminar by Leo Schreven