MONDAY

“I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18b-19, New Living Translation)  


Those words that Paul wrote have always surprised me because Paul was so extremely disciplined, focused and holy. I have trouble imagining him choosing to do what was “wrong” or having any real spiritual struggles. I also realize, however, that we sometimes look at other people and think that they are completely “together”…that they can’t possibly have any real spiritual problems or that they would never know what was “right” but choose what was wrong. Truthfully, though, when we look at other people that way we strip them of their humanity. Paul, though he loved God and, according to his own words, loved God’s law, had the same struggles we all have. He wrote that his natural tendency was to sin, because the law of sin lived in him. Because of that he called himself “wretched” or “miserable”. He was not, however, hopeless. The law of sin lived in him (as it does in all of us) but the power of Christ was stronger. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25a, New Living Translation)  


The power of Jesus Christ will always be stronger than the power of sin living in us, but we have to choose which power we want in our lives. We can choose our own wills or we can choose Christ, but we cannot choose both. 


Blessings on you…Leigh Ann




TUESDAY

Are you familiar with the concept of a “breath prayer”? Its purpose is usually to express our deepest need to God, though it can also be an instrument of praise. Here is an excellent article about breath prayer, as well as instructions on how to create one that is right for you for a season in your life: 


https://gravitycenter.com/practice/breath-prayer/  


Because the breath prayer is to be said while breathing in and breathing out, it should be no more than 6-8 syllables. It should begin with a name for God that is most comfortable for you. (for example, Lord, Father, Holy God, Creator, Yahweh) After speaking that name, the prayer should express your deepest need. As the article mentions, it is a something of a process to get to the point where you truly know what that need is, and can express it in a few syllables.


Over the years I have had several breath prayers, one of which I told you about on Sunday during the sermon: “Father, I can’t, but you can.” I breathed that prayer in and out thousands of times when I quit smoking. Other breath prayers I’ve said over the years were, “Father, have mercy on me, a sinner.” “Father, open my heart to love.” There have been others, but I hope I’ve told you enough that you might consider creating your own breath prayer and practicing praying it. You may be amazed at how close you are drawn to the Holy Spirit of God when you are truly focused on breathing a prayer. And when you are close to the Holy Spirit, holy choices become much easier.


Blessings on you...Leigh Ann



wednesday

In one of the devotions I wrote last week I told you that I was about to be a part of a funeral that would likely be the largest in which I had ever participated. I was right, as there were well over 600 people at Bob Hutchison’s funeral, and even more people than that at the visitation the night before the funeral. Hutch’s funeral service was in the Fellowship Hall of Thomasville First UMC. There were 500 chairs set up in that room, and all of them were filled with mourners. The overflow went into the Sanctuary where the service was live-streamed. I was told that there were between 100 – 150 people in the Sanctuary.


Why did so many people, including me, love Hutch? What was it about him that caused everyone who met him to love him and want to spend time with him? In the eulogy I preached I said I thought that Bob lived his life according to three Biblical principles, and that his life was an living example of each of these passages:


  • From Matthew 7:12 - “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (NRSV)
  • “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31, NRSV.) According to Jesus, this commandment was a close second to the commandment to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength)
  • From John 10:10b – “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NRSV)


In intentionally living out those three Biblical principles, Bob Hutchison lived one of the fullest, happiest, kindest and most successful lives of anyone I’ve ever known. His life was indeed abundant, primarily because he spent such an inordinate amount of time thinking, “What can I do for someone else?”


At just 64 years old, it seems to be that Bob died way too soon. But in terms of what he had accomplished in his relationships, his life showed more fruit than people many years older.


I pray that he will always be a reminder to me that God meant for us to truly enjoy these gifts of life He gave us, and that He meant for us to help others do the same.

THURSDAY

I have an email account that I call my “junk” account. I use it for ordering things online, or signing up for newsletters or “something of the day” emails, like all of those precious dog videos. The reason it is my “junk” account is because that is the email address that gets sold from one company to another, and it gets a lot of spam that I quickly delete. Yesterday I got an email from one of those companies that regularly contacts me in order to entice me to buy something. But someone made a mistake when it was sent out, because the greeting line said, “Hi, First Name Here!” Instead of the usual, “Hi, Leigh Ann!”, which is a marketing tool to make me feel special and important because they know my name, someone goofed and I’m guessing that thousands of emails went out with the greeting, “Hi, First Name Here!”


Even though I thought that was a really funny mistake, it also caused me to remember how important it is to make the effort to know people’s names. Unfortunately, I encounter so many people on a weekly basis that I may never know everyone’s name, but I truly do make an effort to know as many as possible. I want to be able to call my mail carrier by name. I know the name of the produce manager at Publix, as well as the name of the man in the seafood department. It does make people feel special if you know their names, and that’s very important to me. It’s just one of those tiny things I can do to let people know that they truly matter.


It is amazing to me to think that God knows us each by name. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows us intimately, because He made us. As you go through your day today, make an effort to get to know the names of the people you encounter, and each time you commit one to memory let it be a reminder to you of how important you and they are to God.


Blessings on you…Leigh Ann


friday

Porterfield friends, if you are reading this on Friday morning, I am preparing for a third funeral within the span a week. Emotionally it has been a very difficult week for me. It is a great honor to be asked to say the last public words over someone’s life, but it is also an emotional strain to do so. Grief is the price we pay for love, and I’ve been around a lot of grieving family members in this past week. 


The flip side of that coin, however, is that I’ve also been able to be a part of a lot of love this past week. I’ve been able to hear memories that have been full of laughter, appreciation and joy. Families have allowed me into their intimate moments, and I’ve been very grateful for that. 


Most of all, this last week has reminded me that life is short. No matter how long we live, life is short. We have a limited amount of time to build relationships, to shower others with love, to laugh, to serve, to be filled with wonder and awe, to live abundantly. As Christians, all of us want to leave this world one day in order to live eternally with God. Until that time, however, let’s don’t waste a minute of the life God has given us here! Every minute is truly a gift, so enjoy!


Blessings on you…Leigh Ann