Jul 27

FOR FAITH: It’s Harvest Time

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Before I lived in an agricultural community, I thought harvest meant autumn. Sure, summer is the time for tomatoes and other fruit, but autumn is harvest time. After all, that’s when we have Thanksgiving and see cornucopias filled with plastic veggies in store windows, right?

But now that I’m living amid fields of every possible variety of food, I’ve discovered that harvest is happening now. And it’s happening fast!

On Wednesday, I drove past the field of yellow wheat drying on the stalks. Thursday at mid-day the combine machines started grinding their way through the field. By Thursday evening, the harvest had been packed into giant trucks and hauled away. Before long those fields may be burned and made ready for the next crop.

If I had locked myself in my house on Thursday I would have missed the whole thing.

Which reminds me of Jesus.

Scripture tells us that there is a harvest of souls coming—when Jesus returns to earth to bring His children home with Him.

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together (John 4:35-36).

 Scripture also tells us that we will not know when that day will come.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).

 Scripture further tells us that our job is to be ready when He comes.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matthew 24:42-44). 

Then Jesus tells us one more thing to prepare for the harvest. It is our job is to tell others about Jesus, to make disciples of them, to go out into the world and tell everyone Jesus’ good news.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

 In other words:

  • I shouldn’t lock myself in my house.
  • I should actively go out into the world and tell the news so that Jesus’ harvest can be even greater.
  • There is urgency. The good will be gathered and the rest will be burned.

Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:30)

…telling His disciples: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:13).

Nope, I don’t want to be sitting in my house when Jesus comes, asking why I wasn’t out in the fields, being one of those workers. And I certainly don’t want to hear him say to me:

“See ya; wouldn’t want to be ya!”

Ouch. Thanks for the reminder, Jesus.

 

 

Jul 24

FOR FAITH; FOR READERS: Praying the Armor of God by Rick Stedman

armor of god

 

Sometimes we don’t know how to pray for the people we love. Praying is something to be practiced, not only because it should be done consistently and continually, but also so that it becomes a natural part of our lives. Until the time when praying becomes natural, it is lovely to have a guide on how we might pray. That is one of the beauties of Stedman’s Praying the Armor of God.

Praying the Armor of God is divided into two parts. Part 1 discusses the specific pieces of armor the Apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:10-18. Stedman takes each stated piece of armor, gives a bit of historical background to it and ties it nicely to relevant Scripture on how each piece would protect aspects of our loved ones: for example, praying for Jesus to put the helmet of salvation on family members who do not yet know Him or praying for Jesus to put the belt of truth on family members to protect them from Satan (the great deceiver) from gaining a foothold in their lives.

Stedman then gives his readers a handy method to help them remember which days to pray for which piece of armor: for example, pray on Wednesday to Wield (the Shield Faith); pray on Friday to Fight (with the Sword of the Spirit). Matching the letter of the alphabet of the day of the week and the type of prayer, becomes a handy memory tool.

Part two of Praying the Armor of God contains written prayers that can be personalized by filling in the names of people we are praying for, with specific suggestions for various groups of people (men, women, siblings, teens, prodigals, leaders, etc.). Additionally, the book contains helps that make the book easily adaptable for a small group study.

Stedman includes other relevant Scripture to compliment Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He also shares personal anecdotes and comments that make the topic of study easy to understand and a pleasure to read.

Because of the depth of topic, the book would be helpful for people whose faith is already strong and who already have an active prayer life. In that case, Praying the Armor of God provides one more topical way to pray.

On the other hand, because of Stedman’s helpful sample prayers and tracking journal, the book would likewise be helpful for people just beginning to learn to pray in new ways for people they love.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

You can pick up your own copy of Praying the Armor of God here.

You can visit Rick Stedman at his website here.

For more about the Armor of God, head to my series on Ephesians 6:10-18

The Perfect Fit (Intro)

Buckle Up (Belt of Truth)

Wearing Righteousness (Breastplate of Righteousness)

Standing Firm (Boots of Peace)

Shields of Faith (Shield)

Heads Up (Helmet of Salvation)

En Garde (Sword of Faith)

To War! (Being a prayer warrior)

 

Jul 20

FOR FAITH: Fresh Breath

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I’ve written often about how interesting it is to live here in the middle of farm country. Every road we drive down holds a field. Or six. We continue to be astonished at the acres of lush green, the gallons of water needed to grow the crops and the multitude of people they will feed.

We’ve been able to identify wheat, barley, alfalfa, people corn and silage corn, sugar beets, potatoes (of course; it’s Idaho), hops, onions and orchards of all kinds. But last week, we were driving by a newly-mowed field and perked up, in total delight at what we smelled: mint.

Which reminds me of Jesus.

Timothy 3:16 tells us:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

If you’re like me, you don’t get too close to anyone between that first cup of morning coffee and your first tooth brushing. But it’s during that hour with my morning coffee that I’m also sitting in a comfy chair with Jesus—reading a devotional; praying; meditating on Scripture.

It’s as if God was munching on a batch of freshly-mown mint leaves! That God-breathed Scripture I’m reading refreshes and renews, making me feel ready for the day.

I imagine that from now on, every time I chew a piece of spearmint gum I’ll have a desire to thank God for my life and His life in me.

Because it’s such fun to find new ways to praise Jesus.

Jul 17

FOR FAITH: OZ AND I–Exercising My Will

OZ AND I image copyThis morning Ozwald Chambers whacked me with the following words:

“I cannot give up my will—I must exercise it, putting it into action. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God’s Spirit.”

The first part of what Oz said made me nod. Sure, I knew that. Surrender doesn’t mean giving up my will. It means expressly exercising my will by purposefully and deliberately surrendering in order to obey God’s will. Making my will His. Or rather, taking on His will; making His will mine.

Not giving my will up. Just exercising my will in a better way; for a better purpose.

The second part though hit me in the teeth, made me shake the cobwebs from my brain and blink wildly to clear my vision so I could read those words again.

I must will to receive God’s Spirit.

Scripture tells us that when Jesus left this world, He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that, as believers, we receive that gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. Why then, do so many Christians walk around oblivious to the Spirit’s presence, His leading, His strength?

Perhaps because we have not willed to receive it.

The Spirit is with us. That is a promise from Scripture. But if we are not aware of the Spirit’s presence, how can we appreciate the gift? How can we follow His leading? How can we be strengthened by it?

If we first have not willed to receive it.

In other words, we must first have acknowledged the Spirit’s presence and daily and actively seek to be open to His presence, His leading, His strength.

Francis Chan wrote about modern Christians’ lack of recognition of the Holy Spirit. We pray to the Father. We pray to Jesus the Son. We recognize the work of the Father and the Son. But we largely ignore the Holy Spirit both in doctrine and in our lives personally.

Recognition of the presence of the Spirit, is the first step to allowing God to have reign in our lives. Not just God the Father and God the Son; but also our very closest presence of God—the Holy Spirit living smack dab inside us right here and right now.

The first step in living in the presence of the Spirit is acknowledging Him—willing ourselves to receive the Spirit—and allow the Spirit to work in and through us.

But first we must will ourselves to receive Him.

Thanks Oz for the reminder. Thank you Holy Spirit for your presence.

 

(This post is based on the devotional by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest, dated July 8)

Jul 13

FOR FAITH: More Praying Names – Delila and Herbert

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The Book of Revelation tells us that the names of Jesus’ followers are written in the Book of Life. Those names are important. And they have meaning.

I love to pray that people will live the meaning of their names. Periodically I post prayers based on meanings of names here on this site.

If you would like me to include a name of someone you are praying for, you can contact me by clicking on “COMMENT” at the end of the most recent blog post. I will research the name and create a prayer based on the name’s meaning. Check back here for new additions.
I pray you will be blessed by this endeavor.

 

∞∞∞

 

DELILA; DELILAH: one who weakened

Dear Jesus, I pray that Delila would live the meaning of her name. I pray that she will recognize the strength and power she holds. I pray though that she would use that strength and power in Your name and for Your good purpose. I pray that she will recognize the power she yields because it comes from you. Amen.

 

Herbert: excellent army

Dear Jesus, I pray that Herbert will live the meaning of his name. I pray that he will fight for the cause of your salvation. I pray that his fights in life will be the ones that you lead. I pray that he will recognize the winning side in the battle of good and evil and rejoice in the knowledge that you have already won. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Jul 10

Geology and Jesus: When the World Was New

 

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Photo by Jim Peterson

When I think of young, growing things in nature, I imagine them soft and tender. But on a recent visit to the Grand Tetons National Park, I had to adjust my thinking. These mountains—estimated at 10 million years old—are among the youngest mountain ranges in the world. They are so new that there has been no time to soften contours from their present jagged peaks; to wear down the rocks into soil that would support green plant life; or to crumble lower elevations into gentle foothills.

Rather the Grand Tetons soar dramatically straight from the flat valley floor up to the jagged, pointed peaks. They are evidence in nature that sometimes “young” and “new” mean rough and in need of softening.

That reminds me of Jesus.

When I began to seek Jesus, my faith was new. My spiritual life was rocky; jagged even; pointing upwards, but with deep pits and sharp points.

Using Scripture for parable references, God desires us to stand upon the mountain with Him (1 Kings 19:11; Psalm 24:3). He desires that we place our feet upon the solid rock of Christ (Psalm 18:2; Psalm 40:2; Matthew 7:24). But God knows the hike up the mountain may take time. It may be exhausting. We may find the way filled with sharpness and pits.

Just like the new and majestic Grand Tetons mountain range, my faith is still growing. I am still climbing higher to the heavens. Fortunately, all the while, God is working to soften and remake me into the woman He desires me to become.

Jul 06

FOR WRITERS: Q2 Goal Review

 

Goals

I’m a goal freak. I start defining annual goals in November. I set them in December. I announce them in January to anyone who will listen. Then I review and often revise them at the end of each quarter.

Usually I do a mini review each quarter right here on this website. It makes me accountable for working towards what I said I intended to do. More importantly, it hopefully re-inspires others to dig out their own goals, see what they’ve accomplished and get back on track if needed.

That’s what today is about.

If you’re following my goals; but especially if you just need some encouragement on your own, here is a review of my writing goals for 2015:

 

Goal 1: I am Elizabeth.

This book is the fifth Bible study in my series With Faith Like Hers. It is a character study of Elizabeth—John the Baptist’s mother, who we meet in the Book of Luke. My initial goal for this project was to have the book finalized and in production by now.

In April, hubby and I sold our house and moved out of state. That meant very little time for writing after March. So my Q1 review revised this goal to set the release for the end of 2015. Life has settled a bit and I’m back to working on Elizabeth. We are on track for an end of 2015 release.

 

Goal 2: Kids and Cash.

This non-fiction book for kids had an initial goal to create a book proposal and start sending it to agents/publishers mid year. Because of the move, this goal was placed on hold in order to focus first on Elizabeth.

 

Goal 3: Platform building.

Again, the move took most of my planned writing time. I have, however, taken on a role with the e-zine, Ruby for Women to do additional book reviews. I hope to incorporate my work with Ruby as an increased part of platform building.

 

Goal 4: Mastermind group.

My initial goal was to gather like-minded authors into a marketing group to help each other market and promote our work. We are now just beginning to get going with reciprocal book reviews. Those book reviews will post here as well as other locations on the web. We will work toward additional projects as we determine our future focus.

 

♦♦♦

 

That’s it for my Q2 review. How are you doing working toward your 2015? What do you need to do more of or differently in order to accomplish them? How has your focus changed over the past six months?

For a bit of Scripture that may help with inspiration, read my post about “Wishes and Dreams.” Best luck to you in achieving your heart’s desire this year. Let me know how I can help.

Jul 03

FOR READERS: Faith, Hope & Love by Kimberly Rae Jordan

 

Faith hope loveThe last couple of books I’ve read “for fun” have been pretty heady stuff. Great reads, but I was ready for something light that I could read while on the treadmill, not worrying about having to take notes and keep track of intricate plot lines. I certainly did not want to read a book that I would not being able to put down before getting to “The End.”

So I picked up Faith, Hope and Love, described as an inspirational romance. A nice Christian chick lit, I thought. I had read a previous book by Jordan, Marrying Kate and it was just the kind of book I had in mind to read now. (Here’s my review of Marrying Kate from 2013.)

Faith, Hope & Love is the story of happily-married Cassie and Quinn, young missionaries in Columbia. The story begins dramatically with Quinn’s kidnapping, before Cassie has the chance to share the news of her pregnancy. The story then takes up with Cassie and their six-year old daughter learning of Quinn’s release. The book focuses on the reunion, happiness threatened by the emotional scars Quinn carries from his imprisonment, the anger he feels toward God and Cassie’s internal conflict over her desire to reunite her family or release Quinn, no longer the same man, from their marriage.

This book wasn’t just a light read. I dug into the Kleenex box more often than I expected and found myself thinking about this book even when I was forced to put it down and focus on other things, such as, well, life.

Jordan did a wonderful job fleshing out the characters and giving her readers insight into the emotional upheaval that involve people whose lives have been torn apart . She also did a good job exploring the way people of faith either lean into their faith for strength or abandon it entirely. The novel was well-structured and felt realistic in the setting, relationships and outcomes.

If you’re looking for a light read, this may not be it. If, however, you’re looking for a book to curl up with for a long night of sobbing into soggy Kleenex…enjoy. I did.

 

Jun 29

FOR FAITH: Wishes and Dreams

Carol with dandelion

Think back to your childhood. You would squeeze your eyes shut, blocking out the world. Then you would put your whole heart into your wish, open your eyes and blow at the fairy wand, sending your dreams and wishes out into the world.

When I spotted these dandelion fairy wands, I recalled my wee wishes from childhood. They were such little wishes—important at the time, but little in terms of eternity.

These mammoth dandelions—each one larger than a grapefruit—reminded me of Jesus.

 

Jesus wants us to live a big life for Him. But sometimes, our wee little dreams are grounded in fear and formed by the stability of a safe life filled with busyness and habit.

What if I dared to dream big dreams?

Moreover, what if I dared to dream of following Jesus’ plan for my life—taking me away from my little dreams and adopting His majestic and perfect dreams?

Although it’s not the size of the fairy wand that’s important, these delightful dandelions have reminded me that whatever God’s plan is, it is always better than whatever I might have in mind. Always.

And although what God has in mind may seem mammoth, if He is in charge and if I am obedient to His leading, I can be sure that the best thing is for His dreams to become my dreams.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if he we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there a big dream you feel God is leading you to follow?

Jun 22

FOR FAITH: 1 Peter 2:25

1 Peter 2 25

 

We aren’t meant to be the lone wolf. Our natural desire is for the company of others. And no matter how much leadership skill we possess, we desire to follow others if they know better than we.

Scripture is filled with references to us as Jesus’ flock of much-loved sheep and to Him as the Good Shepherd. If we are astray, the Good Shepherd may come for us since He desires that none should be lost.

But before He comes for us—we’re likely to be frightened, hurt, broken, trapped amid sharp rocks, hungry, thirsty, dying. Better not to be lost in the first place.

Most of us are familiar with the kindly image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and us, the happy sheep. But what of the Overseer?

Jesus, the Overseer watches over us. More importantly, He watches over our souls. Some Bible versions use the word Guardian rather than Overseer. Jesus guards our souls. Keeps them safe. Because He knows how easy it is for us to wander off—again.

Not only do sheep need to follow the Good Shepherd, sheep are naturally defenseless against predators. We too are defenseless against evil without Jesus, our Overseer, there to defend us.

I’m so grateful for Jesus who keeps me in His flock and guards my soul. Thank you, Jesus!

 

 

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