Cleaning Day

My mom cleans her home every Thursday morning. Like clockwork. And it shows. Her home is always ready for guests, and it always feels freshly cleaned. She keeps it tidy and “touched up” throughout the week.

My home is clean. But I found that adopting my mom’s Thursday morning routine didn’t work for me. Too often, Joe and I would be running errands, be out of town, or be helping someone somewhere on Thursdays, and my housecleaning would be the thing to get put on hold. I like things clean, but I confess that I’m also a piler, a (true) perfectionist, and a procrastinator—not a good combination! So I had to adopt a method that worked for me. More about that later.

As I grabbed my dusting cloth this morning to start on the family room shelves, it hit me that sin and dust are clearly first cousins. They both enter our homes and lives subtly. They both need to be dealt with before they grow in their scope. They are both among the things we too often try to hide rather than take care of.

James 1:15 (NASB) states all too clearly: “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” It’s this vicious cycle that always needs to be dealt with—before it has a chance to overtake us and move to the next stage.

So let me jump back to the topic of cleaning and share the method that works for me, because it mirrors my daily “heart cleaning” in God’s Word.

For me, if I can do a little each day, my house feels like it’s in a perpetual state of clean. Then, if I miss a day, I can simply get right back on top of things the next day. So, for example, on Mondays, I do all the bathrooms. On Tuesdays, I vacuum and dust the upstairs. On Wednesdays, I do the living room and family room. On Thursdays, I clean the kitchen and dining room (since that’s generally when we grocery shop, and I can get the food put away as part of my kitchen-cleaning routine). And so on….

Every now and then, I do a deep cleaning, spending a little more time working on those areas that I may have inadvertently neglected or that only got “lightly” cleaned at other times.

My spiritual cleaning is the same. I daily seek the Lord and ask Him to cleanse my heart of the sin that is there, because I don’t want it to form roots and overtake me. His mercies are new every morning for a reason! I need them daily!

And yes, every now and then my heart needs a deep cleaning too. Sometimes sin builds up, becomes “comfortable,” and begins to overtake my thoughts, my words, my actions. That’s when I have to pause and spend extra time with the Lord, willingly praying the words of Psalm 51 to Him:

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:1–2, 10, ESV

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my cleaning and make sure I’m not using blogging as a procrastination tool that keeps me from getting today’s…er…yesterday’s…dusting done!

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Of Training and Spiritual Growth

The Captain’s Corner

In my thirty-six years with the airline it seemed that I never stopped training. There was initial training (when I first hired on to fly). There was recurrent training (at least once a year and often twice a year I went to ground school and flight-simulator training). If I changed airplanes, I received transition training (equipping me to fly that particular kind of airplane). All of this training was for the purpose of providing me with knowledge, checking my knowledge, and reinforcing my knowledge to fly safely and to handle any emergencies that might arise.

One thing was sure: my life with the airline was neither stagnant nor routine—always changing and challenging, always equipping me to grow in proficiency and professionalism. While some flight crews complained about all the training, I looked forward to it. It sharpened my skills, increased my comfort level with the aircraft, and gave me confidence.

In a similar way, our walk with the Lord involves growing, exercising our spiritual knowledge, learning, testing, and training.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, KJV).

Christian growth should not be stagnant. Scripture speaks of our new birth by faith in Christ as our Savior. It also speaks of our spiritual growth:

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NASB).

Babies should grow both physically and mentally. Likewise, Christians should grow. But how do we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ? The Word of God is “milk and meat” to the new believer. Reading, studying, and hearing the preaching and teaching of God’s Word strengthens us spiritually. As believers, we learn how to live, how not to live, how to serve God, and how to discern truth and error. All of this helps us to grow in grace.

Our airline training involved time, directed study, repetition, and review of facts. The training helped us to grow from novices to professionals. Christian maturity (learning and moving forward in our walk with God) is both needful and necessary. No one should remain a spiritual baby, simply feeding on “milk” due to being sluggish about his or her spiritual growth. (See Hebrews 5:11, Amplified Bible.)

People who are growing spiritually spend time in the Word of God and apply the Scriptures in their life experiences to help them discern between good and evil and to follow God’s will in purpose, thought, and action.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, ESV).

Most of our airline training was in a classroom. Where is God’s classroom for Christian training? It is best found in a Bible-teaching and Scripture-preaching local church. Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV) states: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”

So as we used to say in the airline, “I’ll see you in training!”

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Gearing Up to EXPRESS Gratitude

In 2002, I launched a little blog on another website. Blogging was relatively new, and I was learning right along with every other blogger out there, but I loved expressing thoughts and ideas to those who were willing to read them! It was on that blog that I first began a “Thirty Days of Gratitude” each November. No, the general concept wasn’t original with me, but I took a slightly different approach—not just focusing on gratitude but emphasizing the importance of expressing that gratitude. The response was quite honestly overwhelming and prompted me to carry the annual tradition with me when I launched Petals from the Basket several years later.

So why am I posting about this in September? As my husband is outside preparing the house for the cold months ahead, I am reminded that November is literally just around the corner. This “gearing up” post is plenty early so that you have time to purchase a copy of my book Petals of Gratitude and join us this November for our annual month-long focus on expressing gratitude.

Yes, we should be and must be thankful every single day of the year! That’s why there are currently many popular books on the market that encourage readers to list things they are thankful for. However, as I stated above, the goal of this book is to help us set aside a specific amount of time to focus on the habit of expressing that gratitude.

My first posting for “30 Days of Gratitude” on the Petals from the Basket website was in 2012. It was such a reader favorite that I did it again in 2013. However, in 2014, life happened, and with caring for my father in his last months with Parkinson’s disease, I didn’t take the time to continue the annual tradition. But “30 Days of Gratitude” returned in 2015, culminating in the publishing of this book.

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV).

Will you join me in working through this little book during the month of November? We’ll go through the book together, and there will even be giveaways and special incentives throughout the month!

Click this book cover to order your paperback copy of the book. 

Click this book cover to order your copy of the book for Kindle

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New Book Available!

Joe and I are thrilled to share with you that over the course of the last month and a half, God has enabled me to complete a Bible study book for women that is now available on Amazon! Choosing to Change when Change Happens is a 7-lesson Bible study book for women, following the life of Moses and his journey toward a greater knowledge of God. To God be the glory!

Click on the book cover below to order your copy or to read more about the book.

Christian Service

The Captain’s Corner

Early in my walk with God (through faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior), I was challenged by Scripture and good preaching to serve God. I was also exhorted to consider that all ground is sacred ground for the believer. We are all in full-time Christian service, wherever we may be or in whatever we may do.

In my career, I relocated both as a single person and as a married man with a family to various flying bases—Indiana, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and more. In each of those moves, I always found a church “home” first—a Bible-preaching church where we could serve God with our time, treasures, and talents. Once I knew that there was a good church in the area, I looked for a house that we could call home.

We who have a personal relationship with Christ are often pictured in the Scriptures as sheep. Because sheep need a shepherd to lead them and a flock to be a part of, I made certain that my church selection included both a good preacher/pastor (shepherd) and a good Christian fellowship of believers (the flock).

I have served my local church by cleaning the church building, singing in the choir, playing my flute, teaching a couples’ Bible class, serving as a deacon, etc. It seemed that if I was not flying an airplane, I was serving God at church.

But church is not the only place where we can serve God. Our sphere of influence can extend way beyond our local church setting.

Think of your workplace. Are you the same person on the job as you are at church? Consider how you do your job. Do you perform your work fervently, cheerfully, helpfully, and completely?

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV): “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV): “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

I loved every minute of my career with the airlines. Another crew member once asked me, “Why are you so enthusiastic about this job?”

My reply? “I love this job.” My goal was to let my love for my job and my love for my Savior be reflected in how I did my work.

Our conduct on the job will serve as an example of Christlikeness through our attitudes, actions, and thoughts. You can be ready to give an answer to all who may ask you (as I was asked), “How is it that you are so different?”

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV): “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Jim Elliot, martyred missionary for Christ, said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” So be in full-time Christian service wherever you are and in whatever you do.

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Lest We Forget

The Captain’s Corner

Today my wife, Brenda, sat in a very special seat—aboard a Boeing B-29 bomber (“Fifi”). In a similar seat, her dad, Ben Strohbehn, flew twenty-six missions as a flight navigator during the Korean Conflict. Brenda was tearful as she looked around the small navigation compartment. The dedicated Commemorative Air Force staff and crew comforted her over her tears of remembrance. “It happens all the time,” they said. The Commemorative Air Force flies and maintains this vintage bomber—one of only two in flying condition—to educate people about the sacrifices of those who have fought for our country and its freedom.

Likewise, God’s Word has many admonitions to us, as children of faith in Christ, to remember God and His works on our behalf. It reminds us, in times of prosperity, to remember all that He has done for us. Deuteronomy 4:9 admonishes us: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” Similar admonitions to “beware, lest you forget” are found in Deuteronomy 6:12 and 8:11–18.

In the New Testament, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to help us remember that He sacrificed His very life to pay the penalty for our sins. “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Remembering Christ’s sacrifice helps us appreciate our salvation so that our gratitude and thanksgiving are more readily expressed to God. Additionally, remembering His sacrifices for us reinforces our motivation to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 13:28), and our service for God is strengthened. Finally, remembering our Lord’s sacrifices on our behalf “proclaims the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Just as my wife was overcome with gratitude for her father’s sacrifice through his service in the military, as Christians, we must be grateful for and never forget the sacrificial love of our wonderful Savior!

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Change Happens

This was to have been an announcement that The ABCs of T2:3 — Integrating the Names, Character Qualities, and Attributes of God with the Principles of Titus 2:3–5, my ladies’ Bible study book, was ready. But it’s not. And it’s going to be a long time—if ever—before it is ready.

Change happens. Not only is that a true statement, but that was the title of a recent four-week ladies’ Sunday school class at my church. Little did I know how things would change when the pastor’s wife called and asked me to teach one of those weeks. I was to choose a Bible character from whom we could learn lessons on change and prepare a thirty- to forty-minute lesson. I was free to choose the person as well as my approach to the lesson.

God put, as Joe (my husband) likes to say, a “fire in my belly” from the very minute I began working on the lesson. I chose Moses and initially planned to look at all the changes in his life: bulrushes, burning bush, plagues, Ten Commandments, etc. My goal for my study time in the mornings was that I hoped to saturate my mind with all of the events, their correct order, and the changes God walked Moses through.

But God changed my thinking.

The more I read in the Bible (starting in Exodus 2 with Moses’s birth and ending in Deuteronomy 34 with Moses’s death), the more the facts did not jump out at me. Instead, I was struck over and over again by Moses’s growing knowledge of–and relationship with–God as he saw God working in each of the changes he was going through. Oh. My. Heart. There was that topic that I love so well: “Knowing God!” I began to see that the more we know of God and the better we know Him, the more we can choose to change how we view the changes that come into our lives. The lesson (and therefore the study times) took a drastic turn toward the personal and the practical!

After I taught the lesson, I was speaking with Joe about the fact that I had put in so much study time and had gathered so much material that I probably could have taught a whole series of lessons just from the life of Moses. As I began to pray about it over the next few days, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to set aside thoughts of publishing the “Titus” study and focus on pouring my heart and efforts into providing the Moses study for other ladies to use. When I tossed the idea out to Joe, he enthusiastically supported the idea and has greatly encouraged me in “gittin’ her done” these last few weeks. The goal has been to just power-write and take the passion burning in my heart and put in on paper ASAP!

So it thrills me to no end to share what God has done and is doing and to tell you that very, very soon, Choosing to Change when Change Happens, a seven-lesson Bible study designed for use in either personal or group study, will be available! I have again chosen to use an on-demand self-publishing service, in part so that I can keep the cost down for those who purchase the study. Hence, the quick turnaround option.

Until then, stay tuned!

He Just Can’t He’p It!

My husband’s friend Ken is a godly, hardworking man with a heart of gold, and his heartfelt joy (even in the midst of difficult situations) can make even the gruffest of men break into a grin. He loves to chop wood in his free time, and Joe and I envy his multiple, evenly chopped stacks of firewood! Ken originally hails from Kentucky, and his Southern drawl is definitely on the “twang” end of the spectrum!

Several months ago now, Joe was talking to Ken on his way out of church. As the conversation was ending, Joe said, “God is good, Ken.”

Without skipping a beat, and in his wonderfully authentic Southern twang, Ken replied, “Joe, He just can’t he’p it.”

Sometimes we wonder in amazement…

…that a holy, perfect, all-knowing God could love us. But it’s His nature. It’s who He is.

…that the wise, powerful, creator of the universe could care about our simple needs and our desires. But it’s His nature. It’s who He is.

…that the merciful, grace-giving, wonderful Savior could forgive the sins we feel are unforgivable. But it’s His nature. It’s who He is.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1, ESV).

“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5, KJV).

“Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:68, KJV).

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9, ESV).

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you” (Psalm 86:5, ESV).

Because of His steadfast love for us, because He sees the big picture, because He is a good God, what He does—even when it might not seem like it from our human viewpoint—is always good.

After all, my friend, “He just can’t he’p it.”

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My Flight Operations Manual, Part 2

The Captain’s Corner

In my previous post from “The Captain’s Corner,” I discussed the similarities between the Flight Operations Manual (FOM) and the Bible, God’s Word to us. As flight crews we were governed by FOM procedures in order to operate the airline safely and efficiently. We memorized some of the procedures; others were easily available; all required knowledge of where to look quickly in the manual for guidance. Just as the FOM helped us to operate the airline, God’s Word to us helps us live as children of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

Thankfully, the Bible is complete and sufficient.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises…” (2 Peter 1:3–4). 

God’s all-sufficient “great and precious promises” are His Word, by which we gain knowledge of Him and learn how to live godly lives in an ungodly world.

How did we study the FOM? We read it, re-read it, and read it again! So what should we do with God’s Word?

Read it.

Have a regular time for Bible reading. Various Bible-reading schedules are available online or through your local church. I have personally used a schedule that allows me to read through the Bible each year. Take as much time as you need or as much time as you have available each day for this important exercise of reading God’s Word.

Re-read it.

Early on, back when I was in college, I would read five Psalms each day. In a thirty-day month, you can read all of the Psalms! Reading the Psalms helped me to worship and praise God. That is why I have continued to read this book over and over again through the years.

Retrieve it.

Scripture memorization takes effort, but it is an effort that is well worth it. Taking the time to memorize God’s Word equips us to more readily fight the battle against sin when temptations arise.

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:9–11).

Rely on it.

In a thirty-one-day month, you can read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day. Proverbs is powerfully practical with precepts for daily living. These “wisdom topics” provide guidance for earthly relationships.

Research it.

As you read the Bible, you will find various ways to study: topical studies, word studies, book studies, biographical (character) studies, etc. A well-known preacher, Clarence McCartney, would preach sermon series on unique subjects, such as “Great Questions of the Bible,” “Great Mountains of the Bible,” and “Great Men/Women of the Bible,” and these would make great topics for personal Bible study as well.

As you study your Bible, find a good translation and stick with it. You may want to reference other translations to help you in your understanding of difficult words or unfamiliar passages. A site such as BibleGateway.com will allow you to simultaneously reference several translations to assist you as you study. Additionally, Bible commentaries abound—many of them online. These are good reference tools, but they should never be used in place of—or with a higher priority than—reading God’s Word itself.

Just as the Flight Operations Manual assisted each member of the crew with the essential elements necessary for operating the airplane (and the airline as a company), we should view the light and lamp of God’s Word (see Psalm 119:105) as an essential daily element for all that pertains to “life and godliness.”

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in
“The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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I Am Grateful for the Day That Never Was – Repost

Note: This post was first published three years ago today, on August 9, 2014. Much in my life (besides my hairstyle, which, by the way should not be the focal point of this post!) has changed since then. In particular, I am now joyfully married to a godly man whom I will love gratefully “for all of our tomorrows” (as we like to say to each other daily)! But the truths I learned on this date (in 1986) and shared publicly on this date (in 2014) are just as true today. And had I remained single, God would have been just as good and kind and holy and loving and sovereign as He is today, because what God does is always good. As I read this post aloud to my husband this morning, he said, “You need to share that again.” And I agreed.

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“Any regrets I may have over that which I have lost are swallowed up in relief over that which I have escaped.” ~Unknown 

That quotation has been my annual “mantra” on August 9th. However, I take it one step further and use it to realize that it is because of the goodness and wisdom of God that I can view this day in that way.

Some may read what I am about to share and think that I should “be over it by now.” I am.

Some may read what I am about to share and think that I am in some way bitter. I am not.

Some may read what I am about to share and think that I must somehow despise men. I do not. Unh-unh, no way, no how!

I’m going to share it anyhow—but not to prove anything or to defend myself against those whose thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. I share this because somewhere there is a girl, a family member, a coworker, a friend whose life plans just changed, and I want her to know that she’s not the only one, that joy will come again, and that hope will return.

With my wedding plans nearly finalized for my—you guessed it—August 9, 1986 wedding date, I received a call mid-April that changed everything. The wedding was off, and the reality of an uncertain future loomed before me, taunting me with its emptiness and lack of hope. I had cancelled my contract for teaching the following year (and my replacement had already been secured), and there I was, twenty-five years old, with every well-laid-out plan beyond that minute suddenly erased with the giant pink eraser of “there will be no wedding on August 9th.”

Before I continue, I will be transparent and tell you that it hurt deeply, and that for several months, when I looked at what I was “missing out on,” I was bitter, angry, and, quite honestly, a little ticked off. But when I looked at how God used that one single moment in time to change my life—and my heart—I became grateful, encouraged, and comforted. God knew best. The man to whom I was engaged married not long after, and his wife is the perfect match for him. They faithfully serve the Lord together, and the choice to put an abrupt end to our plans—in the long run and in the big picture—was the right one.

When I was finally able to take the blinders off of my view of things, I saw so clearly that I was in love with love, and he and I both deserved more than that. God’s love runs so much deeper than anything we can “muster up” just because we long for marriage.

Sadly, I primarily received the empty platitude from so many people that I had probably even said more than once myself: “God’s got someone better in store for you.”

First of all, just because he chose not to marry you does not make him a bad person. Though many people use that expression to “console” someone who is sad after a breakup, it’s not a great expression. In fact, it’s kind of tacky and lame to attack “the bad guy” or “the bad girl.”

Secondly, maybe God has singleness, not “someone better,” in store for you. But be careful here. Don’t follow my poor example of saying (as I did more than once at that time) that “I’m never going to get married. No one’s going to ever hurt me like that again.” I feel that I can say this because I’m single, but I can generally recognize the woman who is bitter or desperate because she is so verbal about her singleness—and usually in loud and brash ways, accompanied by sarcasm about the subject. I long to go whisper one simple thing to women like that: “Shh.”

Am I tickled pink about not having an earthly life companion? No, I’m not. Am I thrilled to be exactly where God wants me to be at this moment, in this place? You bet I am! Because His way truly is perfect. God didn’t bop Himself upside the head that April morning of my phone call and say, “Oh stink, I forgot all about Brenda.” He knows what’s best for me. He allowed me to learn things that I would never have known otherwise.

So be careful about the “consolation” you give to others:

“It’s good to be single. Think of all the things you couldn’t do if you were married.” “It’s better to not be married than to be married to the wrong person.”

And on the opposite side, when someone becomes engaged:

“Oh, you’ll love married life. Being married is the best thing ever!” “There are so many more ways you can serve as a married couple.”

Instead, we as the body of Christ need to joyfully serve in whatever way—at whatever time—God has for us. Perhaps what we should simply say (and what we should simply teach our children and those in the church pews) is:

“The best thing you can be is what God wants you to be today, in this moment, in this place. His way is perfect.”

When we view life through that lens, we can, with sincerity and a joyful heart, be thankful for the day that never was because it has been a vital part of making us who were are today.