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witness to a friend

The Come and See Witness

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The first chapter of John grew longer every day, or so it seemed. I set a goal for 2018 to memorize a chapter of the Bible every month, without much consideration for the length of chapters. Unfortunately, the first chapter I chose was 51 verses long. I needed much longer than a month to memorize it, but I finally arrived at verse 42, and, at last, I was on the home stretch. The time in John 1 was well spent. I read this chapter at least twice every day, in addition to the times I quoted the verses as I memorized them. In a few short months, I read the first chapter of John well over 100 times. My understanding deepened with every reading. There’s an important truth in that chapter I’m only beginning to understand: Everyone who met Jesus and followed Him did two amazing things. First, they testified to Who He is and, second, they invited someone else to follow Him, too. Recognizing Jesus I love the moment John recognized Jesus as the Promised Messiah. God told John to watch for the person on whom the Spirit descended and remained. “He’s the One.” The day Jesus presented Himself for baptism, the Spirit descended like a dove and remained on Him. The manifestation shocked John. “I didn’t recognize Him,” he said repeatedly. (John 1:29-34) Since Jesus was John’s cousin, they’d known each other all their lives. Only when God revealed the truth of His identity did John understand Who He was. From that day on, he gave a clear witness to any who would listen every time he saw Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Giving a clear and simple witness John’s two disciples were with him the day he looked up and saw Jesus walking in the distance. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:35-36) The disciples heard John’s very clear witness, left his side. and followed Jesus. Those two young men followed Him for the rest of their lives. John’s witness did not contain a detailed sermon on the prophecy concerning Jesus or a high-brow theological treatise. Instead, he simply said, “Look. He’s the One.” His witness invited others to see Jesus and left the rest to them and to our Lord. John served as a human road sign, pointing the way to Jesus, and we should, too. Inviting others one by one Andrew stood with John the day he pointed to Jesus. He left John to follow Him. After a day spent with Jesus, He immediately left to find his brother Simon and invite him to come and see this man he believed to be the Messiah…and on it went. One after another, someone met Jesus and could not be contained. They had to tell someone. When I reviewed this chapter again, questions filled my mind. Who did I invite to meet Jesus recently? Ponder that for a moment. Did we tell anyone about Jesus in the last month? Did we tell anyone who didn’t know about him already? Are we so excited about meeting Jesus that we share the news with anyone who will listen? A challenge that must be met The life, light, truth, and grace of God Himself reside within us. Chew on that for a moment. The light of God Himself dwells in us, and the love of God compels us to share the only light capable of casting out the darkness in sin-sick souls. We dare not keep it to ourselves. Friends, the “come and see” witness is tried and true. “I’ve met the one who’s changed my life. Come and see.” If they see Him us, they will want to know Him for themselves. Share the light. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: Contentment Regardless of Circumstances Lent: Learning to Love the Discipline Footprints in the Snow[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]It’s a huge help to me when you like and share my posts. Thank you! It helps even more when you share my posts on Pinterest. Here’s a pinnable image to pin: Thank you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”75″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67195″ media_width_percent=”76″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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contentment in grainfield

Contentment Regardless of Circumstances: Why it Matters

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Comfort and contentment are my preferences. I’m not ashamed to admit it. On a recent Friday, though, a downed tree crashed through my fence and changed my plans in an instant. Editing gave way to fencing, even though the sky was overcast and rain threatened. I don’t mind repairing the fence on a beautiful day with blue skies and perfect temperatures, but fence work on a cold and rainy day is not my favorite. I did it anyway because it had to be done. The ease of comfortable discipleship When the weather is perfect, the circumstances of life are pleasant, and health is good, the obedience of discipleship is fairly easy for me and, I suspect, for most of us. I enjoy a time of few challenges. When those circumstances change, however, I’m not always as enthusiastic about the work of hard, painful service. I sometimes find contentment a challenge. The path of uncomfortable discipleship Sickness. Broken relationships. Financial woes. Wayward family members. The list of problems we face is long, and coping is hard. If we’re not careful, our level of comfort can affect our faithfulness in ways we don’t intend. It’s easy to move our focus from Jesus to whatever difficulty we face. A story from Luke 6:1 shows us the disciples’ response to less than perfect circumstances, and it’s one we should adopt. Here’s a quick paraphrase: Jesus and His disciples headed out from here to there, walking through a grain field. The disciples were hungry, so they broke off some of the grain heads and began to eat them. Raw grain. Straight from the stalk. Not a single complaint about the fare or demand to stop somewhere to eat cooked food. No one grumbled or whined about the less than idyllic provision. Elaborate meals and constant comfort were not part of their contract. Jesus called them to follow and they did, whether the trek led through a sumptuous feast or a grain field. If they were hungry, they ate what Jesus provided along the way. Our response to discomfort I prefer perfectly seasoned, well-cooked meals when I’m hungry. I can eat raw grain from the field, and I have, but I don’t often choose it. As I read the story this morning, I wondered about my response to Jesus’ provision if I’d been walking with them that day. Would I have complained aloud? Secretly seethed? Grumbled in my heart or offered whispered whining to my fellow disciples? When Jesus called Peter and his partners to walk away from the miracle of a boat-load of fish, He did not promise comfort. He simply said, “Follow me.” No matter where the disciples went, they knew Jesus would be there with them in the circumstance. He shared the good times and the bad. Discipleship is contingent upon nothing. It’s easy to be a disciple when we are comfortable. The question we all must answer is whether or not we will follow in a difficult and uncertain situation. Discipleship contingent upon favorable circumstances is not discipleship at all. Serving Christ is because of Who He is and not what He gives. Just as important, serving Christ includes accepting what He provides without grumbling or complaining. It also includes accepting what He chooses not to provide. Jesus promised the disciples trouble, tribulation, and difficulty, (John 16:33) but He also promised He had already overcome all the difficulty the world might bring. Discipleship, He told them, involved picking up a cross and carrying it with them every single day. To save their lives meant losing them. (Luke 6:3-24) The blessings of hard discipleship and contentment The pages of Scripture are filled with the promises of God. He gives what we need and He is with us in whatever we face. Nowhere did Jesus offer ease. Instead, He offered peace, rest, His presence, and the promise of an eternal home in Heaven. He promised our basic needs would be met, not our extravagant wants.   Disciples trade their desires for Christ’s provision. It’s that simple. It’s that hard. Let’s invite a Holy Spirit inspection of our heart, our expectations, our desires, but be prepared to see our hearts as God sees them.  Are we content with what God has given us, or do we complain and continually ask for more? Do we hold back from abandoned obedience because of fear of less than we want? Today, let’s pray for a heart filled with contentment for whatever God provides, and grateful for whatever circumstances He allows. Let’s serve our Savior no matter what He chooses to give or withhold. “…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy: Lent: Learning to Love the Discipline Sliding Down the Slippery Slope and How to Stop the Descent Choosing Contentment and a Grateful Heart How to Wrestle With God When the Answer to Your Prayer is Delayed Asking Why and Finding Answers When I Traded My Happy Heart for Grumbling and How I Got it Back When the Lion Roars: Five Promises Christians Can Claim[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Thank you. Thank you for investing some of your valuable time to read this blog post. I pray it’s been a blessing. Would you mind taking a moment to share on social media and pin to Pinterest? I’ve provided icons and a pinnable image to make the process easy and quick. Thanks again![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67415″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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my Father's Business and golden gate

What Will Life Be Like if I Do My Father’s Business?

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Just after 4 am, the train roared down the tracks, horns blaring, “Coming through. Coming through.” There’s no chance of sleep when the iron horse rides, for me or the dogs at the end of the bed. Too cold to drag out of my comfy cocoon, I pulled the covers tighter and pondered a bit. “Lord, what should I write about today?” Seven simple words came to mind. “I must be about My Father’s business.” When You Lose the Son of God You may remember this story, but here’s a quick review and Leanna Paraphrase. It comes from Luke 2:41-52. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover every year. They traveled in a caravan, probably for safety’s sake, so there was always a crowd around. By the time He was twelve, Jesus was probably familiar with the city and comfortable moving around there. I’m not sure how it happened that He slipped away, but his parents headed back home with the caravan after the Passover like always. After a day’s journey, they realized Jesus was missing and went back to search for Him. The search for the missing Savior I imagine Mary and Joseph looked in all the typical “boy” places, maybe the souk or the pool of Siloam. He had vanished, or so it seemed. Imagine their panic for a moment. God entrusted them with His only Son and they lost Him. Consider how you’d explain that problem to the Almighty. Finally, they went to the temple, the last place imaginable for a young boy to hide. He was in plain sight, sitting in the midst of the teachers, having a lovely conversation and asking questions. Mary responded like every other scared mother in the world. “We were scared to death and thought something had happened! We’ve looked everywhere for you! What were You thinking?” The Divine perspective on My Father’s business Jesus smiled and shook His holy head. “Mom, why were you worried? Didn’t you know I have to be about My Father’s business?” The twelve-year-old God-boy saw the opportunity to speak with the most learned scholars in Israel and He took it. Surely those teachers realized He was no ordinary boy, for His insights came only from God. Did they wonder whether He might be the Messiah? Maybe. Seated at their feet, He challenged them with His words and planted hope in their hearts. The warmth and mystery of their meeting would stay with them for years. Start early to accomplish God’s will Even at twelve years old, Jesus kept His eye on the end goal, paved the way for His coming public ministry, and never looked back. I lay, snuggled under layers of blankets, and wondered what my life would’ve been like if I had “been about My Father’s business” at such a tender age. What if I had focused so completely on doing God’s will? I’d have a different life and, possibly, the world might be a little different, too. Complete surrender In 1872, Henry Varley spoke words that still ring true today. “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” Varley’s vision was of men and women so surrendered to God that their lives focused on “being about their Father’s business.” It’s not too late We, too, can, and must, surrender to such a degree that our first priority is to be about the business of our Lord, to love Him with all of our beings, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to make disciples everywhere we go. Today, let’s ask ourselves this hard question: Am I completely surrendered to God’s will and work? Am I focused on “my Father’s business?” If not, let’s take a step closer and ask Him to make His will our own. We, too,  can do our part to change the world for Him. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? Luke 2:49 KJV [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: Is it Possible to Walk the Blameless Path? Discouraged: When Your Nets are Empty and You Feel Like Giving Up Working from Immediately and Getting More Done[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Please help extend my digital reach by liking and sharing this post and pinning to Pinterest. Here’s a pinnable image to use. Thanks![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”78″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67198″ media_width_percent=”75″ border=”yes” media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Signs of the Times Downed tree

Taking Heart Despite the Signs of the Times

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Yesterday, I planned to finish a chunk of edits on my fiction work-in-progress. They’re dangerously close to past-due, so all my attention was glued to the manuscript. As I edited a terrorist attack and imagined the sound of gunfire, a noise from outside stopped me in my tracks. Automatic weapon fire, quickly followed by a loud explosion. My heart lurched in my chest. “Whoa. They’re here, in my yard!” I thought. “Who’s outside my house with an automatic weapon? They’re gonna hit my horses!” I jumped out of my chair in an instant and raced outside to confront the shooters, no weapon in hand except a hearty dose of indignation. I arrived to find the automatic weapon fire was 1/3 of an old oak tree splitting off from the main trunk. The explosion was the sound of the enormous tree hitting the ground. The catastrophe and danger I envisioned was nothing more than an act of nature. The only destruction was to my fence. A few of the bigger branches (the size of trees) broke the wire in two places and knocked all four strands loose for a long stretch when they fell.  I heard the sound clearly but failed to interpret it correctly. Signs of the times Jesus taught his disciples about occurrences, both in nature and society, and warned them to take note of the signs of the times and interpret them well. (Matthew 24:29-31) “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:25-28 When we see and hear the signs He said, interpret them wisely. The shaking of earthly powers signals one important thing: Jesus’ imminent return. There’s no need for dismay or despair, even if the signs suggest an expectation of terrible things to come. If there was ever a time of dismay, of fear and expectation of what will come next, it is now. Powers around the world are shaken. Governments are in disarray. Citizens protest and fight in the streets all around our world. We live in an increasingly troubled world, but there is no need for fear. From the beginning of the signs of the times, we’re to recognize a new day is coming. Though all around us are seized by fear and panic, we, the disciples of Christ, must lift up our heads with anticipation. Redemption draws near We serve a risen, reigning, and returning Savior. At just the right time, Father God will declare the moment, and Jesus will return on the clouds. We’ll all see Him, as well as the angels who accompany Him, and those who love Him will be gathered up with them in the clouds. We live in a broken and hurting world, but this place of sorrow is not our home. One day, we’ll enter that eternal kingdom where tears and sorrow are not allowed. Only joy, and love, and peace. Until then, recognize the signs and lift our heads, for redemption draweth nigh.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: The Words We’re Waiting to Hear Missed Lessons and the Failure to Change[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Thanks for helping expand my digital reach. Your likes and shares on social media and your pins on Pinterest make a bigger difference than you know. Here’s a pinnable image. Thank you!![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”84″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67265″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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hope seen as lamb in pasture

Finding the Beautiful Place Called Hope

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] “Hope is that beautiful place between the way things are and the way things are yet to be. See Hebrews 11:1” Yesterday, my pastor posted those words on social media.  They reverberated in my head and I began to wonder about the beautiful place of hope. A Scripture search revealed hope to be the most unexpected place imaginable. First, a quick history lesson. Before the battle of Jericho, God decreed that all silver and gold belonged to Him and should be placed in His treasury. (Joshua 6:19) This ban remained in place. Joshua and his army fought the battle at Ai and Achan’s greed defeated them all. (Joshua 7:1-26) He saw a beautiful mantle, as well as bars of silver and gold, took them, and hid them. The army of Israel suffered a sound defeat because of his hidden sin. Ultimately, Achan was tried and found guilty. Joshua took Achan, his family, and all his possessions to the Valley of Achor, where he received his punishment. The entire family of Achan received a sentence of death by stoning, followed by burning. As a result, the valley of Achor became known as the Valley of Trouble. Trouble transformed to hope God describes this place of judgment as a “door of hope” for His people (Hosea 2:15) and a resting place for their herds. (Isaiah 65:10) The word translated as hope indicates a literal cord or attachment, as well as the ground (or foundation) on which our hope rests. It also describes the scarlet cord Rahab threw out the window for the spies of Israel and on which she and her family depended for their salvation. (Joshua 2;18,21) What else does Scripture teach us? The Psalmist declared his hope in God alone. (Psalm 39:7) Gentiles find their hope in the name of the Messiah, Jesus. (Matt 12:21) As Christians, we fix our hope on the living God who is the Savior of all men. (1 Tim 4:10) The word translated as hope also indicates trust and the willingness to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence. Waiting in the place between The Valley of Achor, the place of judgment and death, represents the beautiful spot between the way things are and the way things are yet to be. God transformed the place of judgment into rich pastureland. There, we find the door of hope, the door to all we expect and for which we wait. According to Jesus, He is that door. (John 10:9) Even in the hardest and most difficult seasons, we need not fear, Those places of pain are the transition between the ways things are and the way they are yet to be, and Jesus is the door between. In times of trial, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, press ever closer to Him, and find our hope, our expectation, and our scarlet cord of deliverance in Christ alone.  It is then that our hope becomes the beautiful place between the way things are and the way things are yet to be.  Therefore, let us fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13) and wait for Him. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: The Frost-Free Faucet in the Box and the Blessing of Second Chances Living in the Shadow of the Cross[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Your likes, shares, and pins help extend my digital reach in ways I cannot. Thank you. I hope you’ll share this post, too. Here’s a pinnable image for Pinterest:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67212″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If you’re looking for an in-depth, life-changing Bible study for the Lenten period, consider the new James study, now available in an e-book format from [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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The Benefits of Sabbath Rest

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” The quote is attributed to Marc Antony, but it certainly applies to my life.  I love what I do, even when it’s a messy, stinky job like cleaning out the barn. The disadvantage comes when you do what you love without a break. Even Jesus, who often worked all day and prayed all night, honored the Sabbath. I, on the other hand, find rest difficult. Rest may not seem like progress, but it is. Several years ago, I accidentally “did nothing” one Sunday. At the end of the day, I complained that I did not do a productive thing all afternoon. Quick as a flash, the still, small voice in my heart whispered, “Oh, yes, you did. You took a Sabbath.” Rest isn’t easy for me, but I’ve been intentional about the Sabbath for a while now. I attend services at my church and come home to rest.  Of course, the livestock must be fed, but I don’t clean the barn or check items off my to-do list. Instead, I listen to music, walk outside, play with the dogs, read books.  On a rare occasion, I nap. When the weather is nice, I sit outside and ponder life. Early one Sunday morning,  I lay in bed and considered what I wanted to do for the day. I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I said, “Lord, could I have a pass on Sabbath rest today? I’d sure like to work on edits.” I did not get a pass. Instead, I received a still, small reminder of the benefits of honoring the Sabbath. Isaiah  58 offers an enticing reward for choosing rest on this holy day. “IF because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight…THEN you will take delight in the Lord…ride on the heights of the earth…be fed with the heritage of Jacob…” Isaiah 58:13-14 nasb In case you need a reminder about the heritage of Jacob, you can find Issac’s deathbed blessing to his son (which he stole from Esau) in Genesis 27.  “Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you, Be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed by those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.” Genesis 27:28-29 The simple act of obedience in Sabbath rest yields delight, abundant provision, authority, and influence, as well as blessings for those who bless you and curses on your enemies. I can’t quite take this in, but I believe it’s true. IF I will choose to turn from doing what I want and spend the day taking delight in my God, THEN He will bless me in astounding and generous ways.  Obedience in rest is worth it. Today, the to-do list can wait. I choose rest and all the blessings it brings. What will you do today? How do you honor the Sabbath? I’m eager to hear, so be sure to leave a comment below. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also like: When You’re Too Busy to Be Still But Rest Isn’t Optional Four Reasons We Should Honor the Sabbath Rest Today The Prodigal Puppy…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]I’m thrilled you’ve invested your time in reading this post! Thank you. You are awesome!! I hope you’ll also take a moment to help extend my digital reach by sharing on social media and pinning to Pinterest. Here’s an image to pin:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67383″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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discouraged fishermen with nets

Discouraged: When Your Nets are Empty and You Feel Like Giving Up

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]My small group agreed to do a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer. It’s a good study and requires a fair amount of introspection. My preference is to dig into the ancient languages and drag out truth. What I don’t want to do right now is to dig into my heart and drag out the particular sins on which the study focuses. I also don’t want to admit I haven’t done my work. Last night, I pulled my book out again and determined to persevere. I made it through a couple of days’ lessons without too much repentance.   The next day’s lesson, though, slammed me in the face with the reality of my sinful and discouraged heart. The passage of Scripture was Luke 5:4-10. Here’s a quick Leanna paraphrase (but read it for yourself later): Simon Peter and his buddies fished all night long. As professional fishermen, they expected a nice-sized catch, but not one fish made its way into their nets. They adjusted their technique. Tried everything they knew. Nothing helped. The sun came up and their nets were still empty. Literally empty.  Discouraged didn’t begin to describe how they felt after an entire night’s worth of hard manual labor and not one fish.  They cleaned their nets in anticipation of going home for a big breakfast and a long sleep. They possibly groaned a little bit when they saw Jesus headed their way because Jesus and action went together like pita and hummus.  Jesus took a long look at the empty nets and said, “Go back out to the deep water and let your nets out again.” Peter was polite. He didn’t say, “What do you know about fishing? You’re a carpenter.” He simply said, “We fished all night and didn’t catch anything. But okay.”  Did he expect results from the redo fishing trip? Probably not, but Peter, though discouraged, went anyway. Why, despite the empty nets and the hopeless night, did he load up his boat and head out again? Maybe because Peter knew Jesus’ word was always worthwhile. It always brought results, and it still does. They let down the nets and caught so many fish the boat nearly sank. That enormous haul absolutely rocked Peter’s world. The point, of course, is that fishing nets, directed by Jesus, are more efficient and more effective than fishing nets directed by the best fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. I’ve worked hard the last few weeks. The new e-book launch. The new website. Blog posts. Speaking. In the midst of all the work, I’ve dealt with my cornea problem and persevered. Today my nets aren’t truly empty, but it feels as if they are.  I want fish I can count in my nets, but that’s not what Jesus has given. The e-book launch and the new website launch didn’t coincide quite the way I expected they would. Not as many reviews as I wanted came in, although the ones I did get are magnificent. (Thanks to those who left reviews!) The analytics plug-in on the website isn’t working yet, so there’s no way to tell if people are seeing my new site and blog or not. There are still some glitches to work out. Numbers I can see encourage me, but I don’t have them right now, and I’m a little discouraged without them. Today, I’m face to face with nets that look empty and I long to know where Jesus wants them cast. The plan for today was to work on writing projects from home, but I want to know I’ll have a yield. What will be in my nets at the end of the day?  What does success look like when it’s not measured by fish in a net or dollars in a bank? How do we measure the result of obedience when it doesn’t come in tangible ways? Nowhere does Jesus say obedience brings lots of fish to our nets or dollars to our bank.  Scripture tells us the results of obedience are manifested by changed lives, new disciples, and the fruits of the Spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control.  My job isn’t results. My job is obedience. This morning, I reassessed my results and found my nets aren’t empty after all. A young man surrendered his heart to Christ earlier this week and my heart is full of Spirit-fruit. I shared Scripture truth with a young woman who used those lessons in a talk she gave last night. I read back through some of my early writing and found a new/old Bible study to share. My nets aren’t empty; they’re bulging. I have much to celebrate. Are you discouraged today? Does it feel as if your obedience has brought very little yield?  Maybe it’s time to stop looking for fish in the net and start looking for joy and peace in our hearts, for the evidence of influence in the lives of others, for the evidence of Christ-change in us.  This morning, I’ll cast my net again and ask our Lord to fill it with the kind of fruit that lasts. What about you? And Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break;” Luke 5:5,6 nasb [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Thanks for reading this post. You might also enjoy reading: Seven Steps to Regain a Heart of Gratitude What Will Life Be Like if I Do My Father’s Business?  Is it Possible to Walk the Blameless Path?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Your likes and shares on social media have made a huge difference in expanding my reach. Thank you! When you pin to Pinterest, you make an even bigger difference. Here’s a pinnable image I hope you’ll use! Thank you so much! You rock![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”75″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67310″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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blameless and beautiful

Is It Possible to Walk the Blameless Path?

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Every profession has its own language. Medicine has three-and-four syllable words, often with Latin roots. Our big words make sense to us, as physicians, but probably not to those outside the profession.  Recently, I realized missionaries have our own language and conversational topics, too. Yesterday, a few of us took a break together and one of my co-workers mentioned Job. “I’ve been wondering about Job. God says he is blameless and upright. Was Job really blameless? Did he really not sin?”  We chewed on that question for a while. I wanted to grab my computer and do a search of the Hebrew words used in the verse but saved it until this morning. Was Job blameless? There’s another that can’t be denied. Can I be blameless? Of course, that leads me to the hardest question of all.  If I can be blameless, why am I not? This morning, I awakened with the question of perfection (or being blameless) on my mind. I won’t bore you with the Hebrew, but the word translated as “blameless” is also translated as complete, guiltless, perfect, morally innocent. The blameless man is described as a “man of integrity” and “man of peace.”  I envision Job as he must have looked after he developed boils and grabbed a piece of broken pottery to scrape back and forth across his wounds. That picture is all too vivid in my head, but I haven’t considered him as the pre-trial Job before.  Today, the picture in my head is a little clearer. Integrity. Peaceful. Righteous. Humble. Obedient. Quick to repent in accordance with the law. Kind to animals, widows, and orphans, and everyone else, too. Generous. Well-liked. A quick smile and a ready laugh. Sincere. When he did wrong, he followed the law concerning guilt and sacrifice for sin. Job wasn’t sinless. He was forgiven.  God considered Job blameless and upright (Job 1:8) because he kept short accounts with his sin, rather than allow it to pile it up as if it were a treasure to be hoarded. Can we be blameless? I know a few people like Job. They’re not sinless either, but they don’t hang around in sin for long. They repent and move on. Doing right is a purposeful habit for them because it’s a way of life they’ve chosen. I want to be seen as blameless, peaceful, kind, sincere, fun to be around because of the joy in my heart, generous, humble too. I have good news. It’s possible because of the forgiveness God offers us through the blood of Jesus.  Job’s sinful nature required the blood sacrifice of one animal after another. Every sin required another sacrifice. Jesus paid the final sacrifice with His blood. No more animals need to die to buy our forgiveness. It’s already been granted. His blood sacrifice dealt with our sin nature. The blood of Jesus doesn’t render us sinless. It renders us forgiven. Our job is to live as those who are forgiven and choose God’s ways over our own. Will we sin? Yes. No more blood needs to be shed, however. As God’s adopted and much-loved children, we need only repent and ask for forgiveness and it will be granted.  Repentance does not mean we continue to sin, but that we turn from that sin and choose a different path – the blameless path. God laid the way out before us in His Word. It’s well described and usually easy to recognize. It is obvious Job chose God’s path and received a reward for his faithfulness.  We, too, have a choice. Will we walk the blameless path or one of our own choosing?  I don’t want God to draw the enemy’s attention to me, as He did to Job, but I do want Him to look with favor on me. I’d like to be the one who’s most like Jesus. I’m not, of course, but, once again, I choose to walk in the path of righteousness, to live without blame and relinquish my claim to sin, to surrender my bent toward wrong. I may not be as blameless as Job, but I can make a better choice. We can make better choices. Our question for today is one we all must answer. Will we walk the blameless path or not? “Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity.” Psalm 37:37 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: Why We Should Choose Humility… Discouraged: When Your Nets are Empty and You Feel Like Giving Up Working from Immediately and Getting More Done[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Thanks for sharing your time with me today. Would you also take a moment to share to social media and Pin to Pinterest? It helps extend my digital reach in amazing ways when you do. Thanks for your partnership![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67378″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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prayer walk and old hands

The Prayer Walk and the One With Whom God Wants to Talk

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]A surprising but sweet thing happened yesterday. Eight Days of Hope training is this week. It began last night. I wanted to prayer walk the building and the apartments where the trainees would stay before it started. As usual, I put out a call on social media for help. I can usually get volunteers, but not this time.  A prayer walk of one is not without merit, but I wanted someone else to help, because of the “two or three gathered together” verse. (Matthew 18:20) None of my ideas worked out, so I asked the Lord to orchestrate it as He saw fit, especially since the idea was to have a conversation with Him. When God chooses the one who will prayer walk… The answer I received was not at all what I expected. A friend of mine promised to come, and probably bring a young friend. (Young being younger than we are.) As it worked out, my friend had to help with her grandson, but she brought the young woman anyway. This sweet young lady was a complete stranger to me, but I asked if she wanted to prayer walk, and she assured me she did. I don’t think she’d ever done anything quite like it before, but we moved to the front of the building and started praying. I didn’t expect much from a first-time prayer walker.  With the first words out of her mouth, I knew I had the right partner. We prayed in sequence, as one. I’ve seldom had as seamless a prayer walk experience. She instinctively understood the needs that might arise in each area of the building and prayed accordingly. We prayed together for an hour or so, then she went back to stuffing envelopes. I headed off to do other work. All afternoon I savored the experience. I’d asked God to send the one with whom He wanted to talk, and He did. She was a stranger to me, but she was no stranger to God. With what kind of person does God want to talk? Last night, I pondered the idea of being the one with whom God wants to talk and wondered what characteristics would make me that kind of person. What I saw in her was humility, gentleness, kindness. There was a sweetness of spirit that made me want to be more like her.  I’m reminded of my mama’s favorite verse from Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  There’s a note beside that verse from a sermon Jeff Flinn shared in 2005:  “I thought the Lord was calling me to ministry. Now I know, He was calling me to Himself.”  I want to be the one with whom God wants to talk and commune, the one He calls to Himself because He enjoys my company. Perhaps He’s looking for one who is just, merciful, kind, humble; the one who loves God and his neighbor. I want to be that one. Don’t you? Today, let’s search our hearts and ask God to clean out our haughtiness, judgmental and critical spirits, and our lovelessness. Let’s ask Him to fill us with mercy, kindness, humility, and love so that we can be the people with whom He wants to talk, the ones He calls to move in closer because He enjoys our presence as much as we enjoy His.  “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading: How to Wrestle With God When the Answer to Your Prayer is Delayed  Prayer Walk After Meridian Tornado Real Prayer Moves Us Closer to God Becoming a House of Prayer: 5 Simple Steps to Change Your Life When the Prayer of Desperation Becomes Through the Roof Prayer [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]I am so blessed that you gave of your time to read this post. Thank you! I would be so grateful if you’d take another moment to share on your social media platforms and pin to Pinterest. When you do, you become a part of expanding our digital outreach. Thank you for being so awesome! Here’s a pinnable image:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67336″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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hide from God

When You Try to Hide But God Can Still See

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] A furry face nudged mine until I roused slightly to look at the clock. Not quite 5 am. I groaned, turned over, and snuggled deeper into the covers. I was almost asleep again when a rough little tongue licked my face. Still not willing to get up, I pulled the covers over my head.  Maggie patted me repeatedly with her paw, despite the covers pulled snug, and an odd thought floated through my mind. We don’t have any more success in hiding from God than I do in hiding from my dogs. That odd phrase echoed in my head as I shuffled downstairs to let the dogs out for their morning business. Do we try to hide from God? Yes. I believe we do. We may not call it hiding, but we certainly try to evade His persistent call. We’ve all had those moments when life slams us in the face and we find it agonizingly hard to bear. When life slams us in the face We’ve all experienced those decision points… A betrayal requires forgiveness. The call to service requires obedience. A stronghold needs to be shattered. Habits need to be broken. Desires must be surrendered. God’s call is to freedom, wholeness, healing. Sometimes, though, the cost of achieving His lofty goals seems far too high. We’re willing to settle for less to avoid the price. Why reject God’s best? Instead of offering forgiveness, we take our seat in church, paste on a smile, and hold our anger tight, as if God can’t see what we’ve hidden. Instead of hard service, we choose the easier path and pretend an unending string of good deeds offsets the call to deeper obedience. Rather than allow God access to our strongholds, we hold them close and call them unbreakable. We take “I can’t” as our mantra, and ignore the fact that God can. Instead of allowing God to help us break our unhealthy, unwise habits, we pretend they’re harmless and that we “deserve” them.  Rather than surrender our ungodly desires, we grab them and hold on tight, as if God’s desires for us weren’t higher, better, more deeply satisfying. Why do we choose something less than God’s best for us? Because we don’t believe what He offers is better than what we want.  When we’d rather hide from God… We hide from the true and perfect light of God, which (according to John 1) enlightens every man, including us. We’re comfortable in a little darkness, and we want to stay there. Staying comfortable in the dimness just out of the God-light might even require us to progress past disobedience into denial.  If we say there is no God, we don’t have to worry about Him anymore, right? Wrong. Our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing God is not thwarted by our words or our claims. He is. Hagar in the desert learned, even there, the God who sees could still see her. (Genesis 16) David spent years running for his life from a crazed king who was determined to kill him, yet, no matter where he ran, God was still with him. (Psalm 139) His words attest to the truth we often want to ignore.  “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there…Even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will take hold of me…” Psalm 139:7,8,10  Why do we kid ourselves into thinking we can deceive this God Who is where we are? Who sees all?  He knows all. We can’t hide a thing. Not our sin, our unforgiveness, or our chains.  The amazing fact is He still loves us, despite our failed hide-and-seek. He still loves us, and He has a plan that’s good. It’s time to stop hiding. Today, let’s examine our hearts and look for that which we have tried to hide, if only from ourselves. Let’s allow God to clean us out and break our chains.  Embrace His plan, even when hard, and hang on, for the adventure of a lifetime waits for our surrender. We can have God’s plan if we will, but we must relinquish our own plan to His first.  Is it worth the price? Yes, it is, so let go and embrace our Father who loves us, and receive all He has for us. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]You might also enjoy reading these posts: When Kindness Invaded the Potty Place Repentance: It’s Not Optional  When We Replace Rules with Repentance and Generosity Create In Me a Clean Heart 5-day email course (Follow the link to register) How to Wrestle with God…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Thanks for sharing your time with me today. I’m grateful you chose to read through this blog post and hope it’s been a blessing to you. If you have another moment, would you share on social media and pin to Pinterest, please? Use the icons and the image here: Thanks again.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/3″][vc_single_image media=”67412″ media_width_percent=”75″ media_link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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