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“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

I have this in a frame over my desk…

But recently, I read a devotional that reminded me we have a gentleman God who knocks and asks to enter into our lives, our souls, and our thoughts. The writer asked if our daily Bible time had become bone dry? Were we praying for the Holy Spirit to join us and reveal the meaning to us?

I thought about how many times I yawn as I sip my coffee, crack open my Bible, find the passage of the day, read it, and then check it off my to-do list. My feelings would be crushed if I knew readers treated a book I wrote in this manner.

When did I lose the idea that this is a love story?

I truly believe “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  I have known times in my life a passage has pierced my heart with the truth of it’s message as if God reached down and typed it onto the page.

Perhaps you have as well.

We are blessed in the western world to have the Bible in so many places and in so many translations. It is on my coffee table, on my bookshelf, in an app on my phone, and bookmarked on my computer. Framed verses scatter the walls of my apartment. Some are taped to my desktop monitor and secured with a magnet on my fridge.

I am surrounded by the Word, hemmed in, armored. Do I take that for granted sometimes? I confess. Yes, I do.

Forgive me, Lord. Speak to me anew. Enter in…the door is open.

Winnable

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

I exercise my brain by playing solitaire on my smart phone. The programs I choose always have the option of playing a winnable hand. So I do.

Now some of you may cluck your tongue and say that is cheating or grouse that it takes away the challenge. I get that. For a while I avoided that option for the same reason.

“Winnable” doesn’t guarantee you will win no matter what card you play.  You can still make the wrong move.  However, the hand can be won, which takes strategy. Choose the wrong card combination and you can get stuck. When I do reach an impasse, knowing that the game is solvable pushes me to discover the key to completing it. I can reflect and determine where I went wrong. It gives me hope and encouragement to know that completing the game is still a possibility.

As a Christian, I know the battle has already been won. Death and sin have been defeated. I will spend eternity in the presence of my Lord (Maranatha!). This life isn’t all there is. Nonetheless, it is what I am dealt now and I have to play it.

I have choices along the way, and can make wrong moves, which get me stuck. That doesn’t crash my hope because I know Christ has destined me to win. Like the game of solitaire, I can “undo” my moves, go back, find the error,and make a better choice.

Unlike the game, there are consequences for our choices in life that are not so easy to undo.

courtesy of Steven Shorrock

Again, knowing I can win gives me hope so I can press on, as Paul said. Confessing my sin and learning my error, I can move closer to the goal.

Another option in these solitaire games is the button “Do You Want Me to Show You How to Win?” Occasionally I use them, after I have trouble figuring it out on my own.

In my life, I have learned to press “YES”more quickly, returning to prayer and the Word to guide me. And using my faith eyes to see God moving in my daily life to give me direction, reassurance, and lovingly correcting my path.

A win-win, don’t you think?


What is a digital ministry? My passion. My mission field is my keyboard, which reaches hundreds of thousands over the internet every month through Power to Change. We truly are fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations. Want to journey with us? You can volunteer as an online mentor to those searching (don’t panic we will train you and you set your own hours) , or you can pray, or you can support the effort with a donation. 

It’s a Drag

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

I spoke with my insurance agent about renewing my policy. As she clicked away on the keyboard at her end I heard her frustrated sigh. “Sorry, this computer keeps wanting to take me where I don’t want to go.”

I’ve been there. Click and a screen appears that I didn’t expect, or a pop that tells me a new password is required (and I have to rack my brain to recall it), or requesting the answer to a security question. Or my favorite, READ ERROR 404. Argh.

After a few more huffs into my receiver, she acted surprised. “Oh, here we are. It got me to the screen I needed. I didn’t think about going this route.”

courtesy of Facebook posting – no artist noted.

It made me think though how often these digital incidences raise my blood pressure…

Then God whispered into my heart,”How often do you react the same way when I detour your plans?”

Lately, God has been yanking me out of several comfort zones, and I haven’t wanted to go!

But the truth is, rerouting is a part of life. Abram was called to leave his homeland. The Hebrews had to relocate to Egypt during a famine , as did Joseph with Mary and the baby Jesus. Jesus rerouted his followers through Samaria, a land where no good Jew would venture back then. God rerouted Paul in his ministry when he wanted to go to Asia.

Today, believers are often rerouted as well. We are constantly in the battle to die to self and live for others. To go against the grain of self-centered secularism and show hospitality,

sacrificial love and forgiveness.

Where has God rerouted you, perhaps dragged you against your will? How did it turn out? Probably pretty well, despite the doubts, hardships, and stumbles. Sometimes He  has to takes us where we never thought we’d go so He can teach us, comfort us, correct us, or grow us.

At times our faith walk can be a drag…in a good way.

 

 

An author friend, Linda McCutcheon, who ministers to single moms, found a God message recently in her hiking. Here it a re-blog from her site, that she wrote for Power to Change, the digital ministry where I am on staff. Confused? Never mind. Read and absorb her wisdom!

 

Recently I was hiking in the mountains. Somehow a little stone got into my shoe. I knew it was there and quite aggravating, but I never stopped to take it out. The views were so breath taking, I got distracted. Can you believe it, the next day I felt that same stone which I had not taken the time to remove.

Isn’t that just like bitterness? It begins small.  It is irritating and it affects what we are doing. If not dealt with, it begins to gnaw at our life. Each step I took, I knew the stone was there.  When bitterness is harbored in our lives, it stays with us throughout the day. It controls our thought life, marriage, home life, our day to day relationships and our work suffers.

The Apostle Paul saw this in the life of fellow believers.  He understood that bitterness takes hold of our minds and controls our existence.  He wrote,

”For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:23)

This is not a new concept.  King Solomon knew from his God-given wisdom that bitterness zaps us of joy. Because of this, we can’t enjoy day to day life.

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10)

Life is not an easy hike in the forest. We hit bumps and stumps with level and uneven places.  No argument from me.  However, we also have some wonderful breath-taking moments when we can see though despite all the unevenness of our life, there is time for reprieve and healing.  When we can sit back, empty the stone in our shoe, and begin again, our heart will heal, the bitterness will subside and we can move ahead.  Bitterness can easily creep back in so we have to continually be aware of that ‘stone in our shoe’.  Throw it out….ask God to help walk without this stone of bitterness.

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Is there a stone in your shoe?  What is hurting your soul right now? Ask God to release you from it.  Begin to enjoy life and all its breath-taking moments again and let the stone dribble out.  Start to see the quiet things in your life that are important…a touch of a pet, an encouraging word from a co-worker, or maybe a walk in a park to see the handiwork of God. Flip your shoe over and release the bitterness out.  Slowly begin to see the joy in life.

 


What is a digital ministry? My passion. My mission field is my keyboard, which reaches hundreds of thousands over the internet every month through Power to Change. We truly are fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations. Want to journey with us? You can volunteer as an online mentor to those searching (don’t panic we will train you and you set your own hours) , or you can pray, or you can support the effort with a donation. 

Violet Exposed

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  Ephesians 5:13

At a women’s retreat about a year ago I won the door prize of an African violet. It bloomed for a while, then stopped. For months it kept putting out leaves but it never bloomed again. I figured maybe it was out of season. But this spring, though it still thrived, was pushing out new leaves…no blooms.

So I went on line and asked, “Why won’t my African Violet bloom?” The top three articles said the same thing– it needs more light. Oh. Okay.  I opened my blind slats a bit more. Within in a few weeks tiny buds appeared.

I realized, that’s me. I can read the Bible, I can pray, I can attend church. I will thrive and continue to grow, but will I blossom? No. Not unless I expose myself to His light regularly, daily.

Wait, you may say. Doesn’t all of that you said accomplish the purpose? Yes, if I don’t filter it out. If I don’t review my grocery list while I am reading about wheat in the Bible, or if my mind doesn’t wander when I pray, or if I concentrate less on the pew in front of me — the man with a cough, the wiggly child, or the woman whose clothes tag is dangling on the outside of her blouse– and more on worship.

We can be exposed to God and yet not bask in His light. We may think enough filters in, and yet we are not blooming the way we should. His power lies dormant inside of us, waiting to burst forth because something is in the way of the rays. Life-stress, anger, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude.

In order to reflect the Son, we need Him shining in our lives daily, unhindered by the blinds of world. If you are not blooming, maybe it is time you opened the blind slats a bit more. You may find what you really need is more exposure in order to bask more in His warm love and soak in His grace. Figure out what is blocking the light and how to adjust your focus. Soon, people will notice a difference in your face and attitude. You will be blossoming.

One Hour

One hour. 60 minutes. One 24th of a day. We cherish it when it comes to sleep time. We become anxious if we have to wait that long. And often we waste it on things like TV, social media…even worry as we pace the bedroom floor in the moonlight.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26

Jesus asked the question. How do we answer? If worrying doesn’t consume your time, substitute another phrase – by being proud,  by being angry, by being revengeful, unforgiving, caught up in a video game, vegged out on Netflix…yep, I am stepping on my toes, too.

Yes, we all need down time, but during that time can we spare an hour of talking, reading and listening time with our Lord?

Tonight, Jesus will face his fate with blood sweat and tears. He will kneel face down in the dirt among the scraggly olive trees and cry out to His Father. And His disciples? Snoozing. He’d asked them to stay awake and pray for one hour.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter (Matthew 24:6).

They didn’t, and when the soldiers came, they fled. They didn’t have the strength to stand and stay because they hadn’t been bolstered by God-time.

Are we any different?

Will you carve out an hour today, or tomorrow on Good Friday, to reflect (and thankfully praise God) over what Jesus did for you?

 

But grow

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

This is hardly a new observation, but it is something I observed anew…perhaps because God wanted me to be reminded of this simple truth.

I bought a planter to grow “cat grass” because it was less expensive than purchasing the planted ones already growing in the pet store. My always-indoor beasties need grass every now and then to aid their digestion, but no access to it other than what I bring to them. To keep them from chomping on my house plants, I give them their own.

The kit arrived, containing a planter, four small mulch discs, and a packet of grass seeds – rye, barley, wheat, and oats. The instructions said to place a disc into one of the planting squares and add water. Wait ten minutes. Then make a well in each square, plant the seeds, and cover them with the damp soil. Place it in a diffused sunny place and keep the room temperature at 68 degrees or above. In 3-4 days, my cats would have grass. Easy enough.

Still I was skeptical. How long had those dry seeds been in the packet? No expiration date on them. They could be years old and I wouldn’t  know. Sure enough, by the end of day two, tiny shoots of grasses began to emerge from the mulch. It worked!

You see where this is going. Jesus told parables about seeds. We’ve read them, heard many a sermon on them. So, what did God remind me?

First, that seeds can lay dormant for a long time, but with the right elements (water, nutrient soil, and sun) they can suddenly sprout. Same thing goes for people. You may think you have had no influence, but given time and the right circumstances, what was lying dormant can begin to push through.

Second, follow instructions and leave the rest up to God. Put aside skepticism. I didn’t know if I could trust this manufacturer to produce a product that would do as it claimed. But I do know my God keeps His promises. If He says it will happen, it will.

Third, in order for me to grow, I need three things – the Son shining gently in my heart, the Word to be a nutrient for my mind, and the Living Water soaking my soul with faith and trust. Eventually what God has planted in me will begin to grow so I can be of service to others in need.

Speaking of instructions…The Lord told me to write this. So I am obeying. Maybe because you needed reminding as well? Seeds planted.

 

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