Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonders in the Sky

 “God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. Nor does he need anything that we can supply by working for him, since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.”  Acts 17: 24-25 (TEV)

As my husband Dick and I excitedly watched a local air show, we shook our heads in disbelief at the gravity-defying feats of flight performed by the talented pilots in their brilliantly painted airplanes. Audible “Ohhhhhs” and “Ahhhhhs” could be heard all around us each time a plane looped and dived and spun around in what appeared to be uncontrolled abandon.

On our way home, our attention was drawn to a little flock of common house sparrows hopping about near an intersection.  With no runway for acceleration, one little brown bird lifted directly off the ground and skimmed over a parked car.  Momentarily retracting his wings, the sparrow shot through a chain link fence and then ascended to a nearby maple tree.  Veering around leaves and branches, the sparrow abruptly landed on a slender twig

In amazement, I turned to Dick and asked, "Could anything at the air show fly like that?"  Staring incredulously, he shook his head no. Awe rendered us both speechless.

While humanity took decades to achieve flight, with just a word, God spoke a sparrow into existence which possessed far superior flying capabilities.   Though we often marvel at all we can accomplish, what God has in store for us is greater than we could ever imagine.  A common brown house sparrow proves it!

Prayer:  Lord, when we are trusting too much in the limited capabilities of ourselves or others, remind us of Your powerful hand at work all around us. Amen.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams
First published in THE SECRET PLACE—SPRING 2008

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Few Words in Favor of Loitering . . .

"Back in the day" people often gathered at drug stores and garages to meet friends as well as transact business. Filling your prescription or having your car serviced took time; everyone made allowances for it. In my hometown, Appleby's Drug Store provided a place for young and old alike to loiter and to catch up on "news".

Appleby's included a busy soda fountain. While waiting for their medications, retired gentlemen with a little time on their hands could sit on one of the six tall, padded bar stools and enjoy a cup of coffee. Many solutions to the world’s economic, moral, and foreign policy problems were bandied about on those stools.

Racks of magazines lined the wall opposite the soda fountain. Three small Formica-topped tables surrounded by wooden chairs with round, plastic-covered seats provided a convenient place to peruse the periodicals while waiting. Applebys didn’t seem to mind that only a few customers seemed to actually purchase the magazines.

The druggist worked behind a chest high barrier at the back of the store, moving methodically among the shelves of medications. Most customers stood and chatted with one of the three Applebys who filled their prescriptions.

Teens came to Appleby's after school and on Saturdays, not to get a prescription filled, but to sip a “Dishwater", and eat beer pretzels. A Dishwater consisted of a delicious concoction of vanilla syrup, carbonated water, and a little milk. Spinning back and forth on the bar stools, or sitting at the tables, teens pored over the movie magazines on display and gossiped with their friends.

Whether it was retirees discussing politics or teens re-hashing the latest school happenings, those few moments spent loitering in friendly conversation helped build a feeling of community.

It seems that in some cases loitering is good! We would definitely benefit from loitering a bit with God—talking about what’s on our minds and in our lives, enjoying His companionship, getting His "take" on things.

When did you last loiter with God? Need some ideas to get started? Try S.O.A.P.-- Rev. Wayne Cordeiro's recommendation for spending time with God:

  • Scripture: Start off with the Bible. Pick a reading plan and stick with it.
  • Observation: As you read, write down any observations that you have from the text.
  • Application: Based on what you have read…what should you do? Make this practical and realistic. Write it down and hold yourself accountable to it.
  • Prayer: Last but not least, spend some time with God in prayer. Confess and repent of any sins that were brought to light while you were reading. Spend time thanking God. Also spend some time in silence listening to God.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lasting Friendships

Some friendships do not last,
but some friends are more loyal than brothers.
Proverbs 18:24

Do you have friends more loyal than brothers? Dick and I lunched today with Joe and Michelle, a couple with whom we share a relationship that fits the description in Proverbs 18:24.

For seven years we lived in the same town as Joe and Michelle. We worked and worshipped together at church, talked over ideas and concerns, shared family time and meals. Though Dick and I are more than 15 years older than Joe and Michelle, our values, attitudes, and commitment to Christ dovetailed, spiritually nurturing each of us and drawing us closer than siblings.

So when Dick and I found out we were moving, I wondered how our friendship would fare with the distance. Dick pastors in a denomination where, instead of local churches hiring their own pastors, bishops appoint pastors to serve in local churches and other ministry settings. In this “Itinerant System”, pastors move from one appointment to another,

Moves are frequent; during the past 35 years in ministry we have moved nine times. This move would take us about 75 minutes from our close friends.

I need not have worried about our relationship with Joe and Michelle. We have stayed close despite the distance. Though we miss the frequent contact we enjoyed before, through email, texting, phone calls, and visits we continue to support and even challenge one another to be faithful in our day to day walk with Christ.

Once again God has proven the absolute truth of His Word.

The Spirit-inspired song, "Friends" by Michael W. Smith expresses my sentiments so well. If you are missing a special friend today, listen and allow God to minister to your heart.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


“Ohhh! Look!” I exclaimed to my husband Dick, pointing to the poster board tacked to a telephone pole. “There’s a yard sale down this street!”

Dick heard those words many times. For years we stopped at all the yard, garage and rummage sales we found. After all, we might discover a real bargain. And who could beat the prices?

Auctions, flea markets, and second-hand stores were also great places to get what we wanted without spending much. Finding a working HO train engine or the complete works of Shakespeare sent a little thrill of excitement through us.

Several Christmases ago one of my sisters gave me a little resin sheep with the word “Simplify” written on its side. As I dusted the tiny black and white figure each week, the word resonated deep inside me. That was what I needed to do—simplify. When I told Dick, I was surprised to find that he had been contemplating the same thing.

It wasn’t that owning possessions was wrong; we were just beginning to feel as though our possessions owned us. The words of Matthew 6:19 struck a chord with us. We had been doing exactly what the scripture admonishes us not to—“laying up treasures on earth”.

Our priorities changed as God taught us to distinguish between wants and needs. When we shop nowadays, Dick and I ask ourselves: Do we really need this or just want it? A year from now, will I still want this? Can I forgo this luxury and meet someone else’s need?

We also eliminated some of the baggage we own. Giving to church rummage sales is a great way to downsize. The proceeds benefit a variety of ministries from camping programs to families in crisis. So when I donate items I not only help give individuals the opportunity to stretch their dollars, but I support missions as well.

Most recently Dick and I found the online auctions and book resale sites an exciting means for dispensing of many no longer wanted objects, especially CDs, books and computer accessories.

People from all over the world surf the Internet for bargains. Through online marketplaces like eBay,, and we can weed out our cupboards and clear our shelves of previous “must haves”. Some sites even allow you to directly earmark the profits for charities.

And, long-standing thrift shop ministries—Goodwill, the Salvation Army, American Rescue Workers—still really appreciate big bags of good, clean, used clothing. They are thrilled to receive boxes of usable house wares in attractive, working condition. When we pull up to the back of the store, they open the door with a welcoming smile and the ready offer of a receipt for tax purposes.

Now, don’t get the mistaken idea that we have taken a vow of poverty or adopted minimalism. We just think more carefully before we buy, and simplify whenever the opportunity arises. For we have found that true needs require no moth-proofing.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams
This article was published in the Summer 2009 quarterly of VISTA .