Friday, November 15, 2013


My granddaughter likes the “power of the pen”. She likes to draw animals on random family member hands with Sharpie pens. At our last family dinner, she was leaving her initials on those who were not quick enough to pull away.

“I’ve branded you. You are now mine.” Those eyes twinkled at me.

Her dad, who is studying to be a lawyer, was quick to use it as a teaching moment. “You have ownership now—that means you are now responsible for the care and feeding of everyone you just branded.”

When she realized that would include the care and feeding of her younger brother—she reconsidered her impromptu ink party.

When I think about branding, I think about my family tree and the cattle they had. They didn’t have GPS tags in their day—a hot brand was applied to the hide of a calf. That way, if the animal wandered away or was stolen, you knew which rancher they belonged to. Cattle rustlers would sometimes try to change the brand, but I have to think you could tell a fresh brand from the old original.

Jeremiah wrote down God’s words:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)

God doesn’t mark us with ink or hot branding iron. He engraves it on our hearts. This is how our spirit knows we are His. He has ownership and is now responsible for our care and daily bread.

When Christ returned to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, He left the Holy Spirit for us. That is also a seal, or brand, that every Christ follower bears. It is not physically visible like a tattoo or mark, but it is spiritually discernible.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)

Haven’t you been around someone that seemed familiar? Later, after getting to know them, you find out they are a Christian and there is an immediate bond. Our spirit recognizes the seal on their heart. We know we belong to the same Shepherd.

It is a comfort to me, that if I wander outside and stray from God…I still bear His mark and I know He sends a rider out to find me and bring His lost sheep back. Even if I get buried in the world, all I need to realize is that I am His and there is nothing that will separate me from His love.

So stop wondering if it’s too late. You bear His mark on your heart. Why don’t you start home now and meet Jesus our Shepherd halfway?

Isaiah 43:1-7 (ESV)

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Words

By now, the least favorite candy is picked through and reluctantly consumed. In my trick or treating days, it was the root beer flavored barrels and the taffy chews with the peanut butter center that remained. The chocolate was long gone. In fact, we sometimes didn't wait to get home for some--it was consumed while walking the Halloween sidewalks. With every doorbell and greeting, we'd check for that Hershey logo as it was tossed into our bag.

Then there was the house that always had homemade caramel corn balls. Which is a bad idea in Florida. By the time we got home, it was a sticky mess that attracted every lint molecule in the neighborhood--no matter how much plastic it was wrapped in!

Word would get around about which house has what. And the house with the party that left an honor system bowl? I pitied them for the tricks they endured when a not so honorable goblin took the whole bowl early in the evening.

Our pastor was talking about our words and how they are the fruit of our heart. What you say can be a clue to what is going on within.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. Matthew 15:18 (ESV)

There are sweet words of encouragement or bitter words of judgment. Do you dole out kind words generously or do loved ones feel they need to jump through hoops to hear just one? You never know what's going on behind someone's mask. So before you speak, make sure it's something that is life-giving.

Beware of your words dear Christian. Like the unwanted trick or treat candy, you may have to eat them some day. Be sure that they are nourishing to the soul, not just a sweet treat that is gone in a moment. Consider them as treasures, to be shared in love.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11