Finch or Serpent?

This morning was a first—a sharp-shinned hawk perched on a large, low branch of the locust bean tree that grows barely 15 feet from my patio. It was a cool cloudy morning, and the usual birds were conspicuously absent. Maybe they knew enough to stay away from this ruffian, but one tiny finch fluttered nearby. The hawk showed no apparent interest. Soon the finch came within a few inches of the hawk and in a strike as quick as lightening the hawk captured the poor bird in its claws.

I thought, How often am I like that innocent little finch, ignorant of the danger that lurks nearby, waiting and watching for me to draw close?

Sin is like that hawk. It looks beautiful and harmless, disinterested in us. We mistakenly think we can get close without becoming its prey. But before we realize it, sin has clutched us and we are captive.

Matthew 10:16 tells us “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We live in a world filled with sin. An attitude of “how close can I get without falling prey?” compromises a holy life. We must be wise enough to recognize sin and flee when temptation flies in and perches next to us.

So how do we gain that wisdom?

  • Ask for it. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5, NLT). 
  • Read the Bible. 
  • Study the Bible. 
  • Attend church and learn from the pastor. 
  • Read other books about God by Christian authors.

The choice is ours to make. Will we flutter around the hawk or be wise as serpents?

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13, NLT).

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Finding Assistance

Do you find yourself in a financial struggle for the first time in your life? Maybe someone you know has asked where they can go for help. Do you have an answer? If you have never had a need for this type of assistance, you may find yourself wondering how to find it.A Google search on the keywords “assistance agencies” or “assistance programs” along with your state will offer a cornucopia of results (e.g. assistance programs Missouri).

Here are several sites I recommend utilizing in your search: ( GovBenefits is the official benefits Website of the U.S. government and offers information on more than 1000 benefit and assistance programs. You can search by state, or start with their confidential questionnaire for the most comprehensive search of assistance programs.
Community Action Partnership. Find a community action agency in your state via this link:
Catholic Charities. Find a local agency here:
Here is another Website that offers a state-specific search for assistance programs:

Many local churches also offer help. If you attend church, ask the church secretary if assistance is available. If not, ask if they have a list of local community agencies that can help. If you do not attend church, I encourage you to call one of the bigger churches in town and ask those same questions. Reaching out to those in need is what churches do! 

Don’t lose hope. Help is out there. Just ask.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

Battling Temptation

How long did Peter weep that fateful night in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago? He had denied Christ three times just hours after he had vowed to die with him if necessary. His pride blinded him to his weakness. Peter was self-confident, and when the crucial moment arrived, he didn’t have the strength within him to follow through on his promise. Do you have the strength needed to follow through on your promises?

I like to think that there are certain things I would never do—murder, steal, have an affair. But I realize under certain circumstances I might do any of those things. Like Peter, within myself I am weak.

“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13, NLT). This is good news indeed! When a temptation challenges me, I can call out to God and access his strength to help me resist. Let our strength be in God-confidence rather than self-confidence.

  • “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)
  • “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NIV)
  • “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NKJV)
Oh, the wonders of God’s power and his promises.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010.


Love Unfathomable

Peter wept bitterly as he thought back through the events of the night.

“Peter, this very night before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times,” Jesus said as he and the other disciples trekked to the Mount of Olives.

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” Peter declared. Yet a few hours later he had done exactly that as he stood in the high priest’s courtyard. “Woman, I don’t even know the man!” He heard the rooster crow and his gaze met Christ’s. Shocked, he staggered back from the fire and ran. Now, Peter was left to ponder how Jesus could still look at him with such love even though he had denied him three times.

Christ knew Peter was going to fail him, yet he kept on loving him. He doesn’t tell Peter “Get out of here. You’re no longer my disciple.” Instead he said, “Watch and pray with me.”

Christ knew us all before the beginning of time. He knew our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and our failures. He knew the sinful creatures we would be, and still he chose to die for us. Why? Because he loves us that much. For some that’s hard to grasp. We have had such terrible things done to us that no one could possibly love us. But Christ does! Believe it, and embrace his love for you today.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010. For the full scoop on Peter’s denial read Luke 22:31-62.

Share With Us

Are you learning to recognize God’s blessings in your life? Please share with us throughout this week, how God blesses you in little and big ways.