Jun 20

LEGACY: Heritage

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When the New Year began, I parked myself in my chair, eager to find one word that would help me maintain a focus on my journey of faith. God sent the word legacy for my 2016 word. Off I scampered to write about leaving a legacy of faith behind through the books and articles God inspired me to write.

Less than three months later, my daughter and her husband announced they were bringing a brand new baby into the world later this year. Obviously, when God gave me the word legacy for 2016, He had something more in mind than just what I would write. He usually does.

I discovered that the legacy handed down to me through my mother and her mother before her is continuing through my precious grandchild to come.

I wonder who he will become. Whose lives will he touch? How will this world be better because he is part of it?

I continue to be watchful for where God has placed me; who He has placed in my life and what challenges He wants me to pursue. That is part of my personal legacy. But with the coming event of a grandbaby, God has reminded me of the truth that we are all part of each other’s legacy. We are part of the human legacy. We are part of God’s legacy.

And it is very good.

 

Jun 13

LEGACY: Becoming God’s Child

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As we end the first half of 2016 and head off to begin the second half, it’s time to ponder the year. What have we accomplished? What do we still want to do with this year and our lives? Whose life will we touch for the better? Who in our life should we help to enrich and how might we do so on purpose?

My one-word focus for 2016 is “legacy.” I am still becoming the woman God intends me to be. I wonder what that woman will look like—spiritually and as a social animal.

God has placed several people on my heart this past month. He is hinting that I help them with their writing in very specific ways. They may or may not need or want my help. Maybe the only helpfulness that will come from my approach will be that they are encouraged, knowing someone cares enough to offer. Or maybe I’ll join them on a new adventure in the making.

God has also challenged my faith. Ten years ago, He took me to writing short inspirational posts and led me to places for their publication. Then He guided me through the writing of character studies, teaching me spiritual truths and helping me explain and share those with others through the books I write. More recently, He is nudging me toward evangelism—having first gifted me with words and then trained me with truth. And so I wonder at the vision of the me God sees. And how far into the future that vision extends.

The experiences with other people become part of our legacy—our lives lived for the better of the world, even if that betterment is just one person at a time. Even if that one person is just ourselves. We are part of the whole. We are part of God’s plan. We are part of God’s legacy of humanity.

And yes—God’s leading will include a book that I’m writing about evangelism. It’s not about standing on the street corner yelling at people. It’s not about heading off to Africa or Guatemala. But it is about our duty to introduce other people to Jesus. It’s working title is, Jesus Wants Me to Do WHAT?

The teaching I’m receiving in the writing of that book has been humbling and uplifting and exciting and hard. And awesome! The best part? I’ve only started writing it!

 

 

Jun 06

FOR FAITH: My Heart

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the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people           (1 Samuel 13:14).

King David. Now there was a man after God’s own heart. That’s what we hear.

Then we think about all the sinful things David did and wonder, “huh?”

Many people first assume that the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” means that David’s heart was like God’s. We conclude that, despite everything wrong David did in life, his heart was like God’s—sensitive, loving, courageous.

I believe that, too.

But the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” means something else, too. Two things—at least.

A man after God’s heart means David was seeking God. We have expressions in life about “chasing after our dream” or “going after what we want.” Those expressions are about seeking. King David was a man who sought after God. He wanted to know God personally—God’s character and plan. David’s seeking to know God’s heart pleased God.

A man after God’s heart also means David was trying to live in a way that pleased God. If we “go after” someone’s heart, we are trying to capture their love. David knew God already loved him. Still David had a desire to live in a way that pleased God. David didn’t always succeed.

David wrote the lovely Psalm 51 that shows his heart filled with despair over his sin, saying,

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight                                  (Psalm 51:4)

Psalm 51 expresses David’s realization and sorrow that his sins were not just wrong or mistakes. David realized he had sinned against God. Sinning against God caused David sorrow because he had failed to live in a way that pleased God.

So how do we apply these understandings? We can focus on three things by asking:

  1. In what way do we have characteristics of God’s heart? Are we sensitive to the needs of others? Do we then try to do something about those needs? Are we loving towards others even if we don’t personally “like” them? Are we courageous when God asks us to obey Him or embark upon a ministry directed by Him? What other characteristics of God should we be pursuing in our life?

  2. Are we seeking God? Do we long to know Him more? Do we engage with God through prayer and meditation on Scripture on a daily basis? Do we understand that Jesus wants a deep, personal relationship with us? Do we understand that Jesus wants to be known by us?

  3. Are we trying to live a life that is pleasing to God? Not to earn brownie points? But to please Him out of our love for Him and our understanding that He wants us to live in the best way possible so that our lives will be rich and fruitful?

I want to be known as a woman after God’s heart. I want to have a heart like God’s. I want to seek to know Him. I want to live a life that pleases Him.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a heart after God’s? What does that mean to you?

May 30

PRAYING NAMES: Ava; Aiden

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I love to pray for people by praying that they will live the meaning of their name. Here are two more.

If you would like to pray in this way for someone you know, please leave me a comment and I will create a prayer for them in a future month. Be blessed!

Ava: like a bird; Hebrew form of Eve: life; living

Dear Jesus, I pray Ava will live the meaning of her name. I pray she will feel as if she can soar like a bird, knowing she has freedom from sin and from death through you. I pray she will also learn lessons from your daughter Eve, seeking to recognize evil and walking with you daily. Amen.

Aiden: fiery one

Dear Jesus, I pray Aiden will live the meaning of his name. I pray he will live a life that is on fire for you. I pray that his enthusiasm and love for you will be contagious and encourage others to live lives of fire for you. Amen.

 

May 23

CLAIMING JESUS’ LOVE

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image from Pixabay.com

 

The Gospel of John is definitely my favorite of the four Gospels—filled with evidence and explanation of the deity of Jesus along with a history of Jesus’ ministry. One thing that has always made pause though is that John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” None of the other three Gospels refer to John that way.

During a sleepless night last week, I had a revelation. Whether it’s what John meant or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is how I can apply the revelation to my own life.

John refers to himself five times in his Gospel as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

John 13:23

John 19:26

John 20:2

John 21:7

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We know that Jesus, Peter, James and John had a close relationship, because Scripture records that those 4 were together at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28; Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2). Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him where they were privileged to witness God the Father declare Jesus to be His son.

But maybe  something else was going on that led John to refer to himself as the disciple Jesus loved. I believe it was a title John claimed.

Many Christian women (as do I) say “I am the daughter of the King.” It is a title we claim. It is a recognition that I am part of God’s family. I am the daughter of the King of the universe, now that God has adopted me (Ephesians 1:5). So is Juanita. So is Trudy.

Other Christians say: “I am a child of God.” That’s also a recognition of belonging to God. It’s a recognition of that person’s identity in his relationship with Christ. I am a child of God. So is Harold. So is Nancy. So are you, if you belong to Jesus.

Those titles are a recognition of our relationship with our Savior. They are a recognition of our identity to God. They are deeply personal but they are not exclusionary.

Clearly Jesus loved all 12 of His disciples—even Judas who betrayed Him.  Prior to Jesus’ ascension, he told the other eleven

As I have loved you, so you must love one another”  (John 13:34).

Jesus loved all of His disciples, just as He loves you and I. John surely knew that. But John took his relational love from Jesus personally. John gave himself a title and claimed it. John claimed he was the disciple that Jesus loved.

We who follow Jesus today are Jesus’ modern-day disciples. And Jesus loves us personally. We—like John—can claim that relational title for ourselves.

I am the disciple Jesus loved.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? In what ways do you see that you are the disciple Jesus loved?  In what way do you still need to claim the title John gave himself?

 

 

May 16

LEGACY: Mentoring

 

 

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In our small group Bible study, we  came up with a short list of the characteristics of mentor-ship:

  • Being an example

  • Trust

  • Confidentiality

  • Being non-judgmental

  • Accountability

  • Love

  • Guidance

  • Being compassionate/caring

We also came up with some ways to mentor others:

  • Study together

  • Teach or explain theology or biblical principles

  • Remind others of God’s plan or promises

  • Pray for and with others

  • Be accountable to each other for doing what we say or how we should live

  • Help set goals or daily practices for devotion, meditation, prayer

  • Model life

  • Create a testimony and share it: what life was like before Jesus, how we came to Jesus, how life is different now

  • Let others see Jesus’ light through us

  • Look first to mentor our children and family close to us

Then our assignment was to return the following week having picked one way we could mentor others—and do it. I pondered the list for a while and then focused on teaching/explaining theological principles with others. That felt like a natural for me, since I write Bible study books. Homework done. Next project?

But as  I was reading my daily devotional, Hope,  Billy Graham cautioned against people whose motive is  “to impress you with how wise and perfect they are” (March 8). That got me wondering about my own motives. Do I want to write Bible studies and mentor others in order to impress people?

That got me praying. Fortunately, what God ultimately led me to understand that morning was that I don’t write Bible studies to impress people with how much I know. I write to engage in the process of learning myself.

I begin the studies not knowing what God has in mind for me to learn but  with a heart that wants to learn. I write the studies with an excitement as God opens the pages of Scripture and pours them into my heart. I share the studies with an enthusiasm to explore God’s character with other people and what God is (still, in an ongoing way) teaching me.

For me, the aspect of teaching others about God’s character and plan is a matter of sharing and learning something together. Haven’t you ever been in the process of teaching and saw something new you’d never seen before? Or that the teaching enlightened it, made it clearer, or that you suddenly found it easier to do?

We mentor each other. We can also mentor ourselves. And that mentoring of ourselves and others can be part of our legacy of faith.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is mentoring part of your legacy? How might it become a bigger part of what people remember about you?

May 09

CARNATIONS REMIND US OF JESUS

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day—a time to remember and honor the women who raised us. Traditionally, the flower most often given on Mother’s Day is the carnation, which is the flower of the month for January. I’m presently finalizing a book that includes information about the flowers and birthstones for each month and how they remind us of characteristics of Jesus or His plan. Here’s an excerpt from Flowers, Gemstones & Jesus about carnations.

♥ ♥ ♥

The flower that represents the month of January is the carnation. Legend says that Jesus’ mother Mary shed tears as she watched Jesus carrying the cross upon which he died. Legend further says that when her tears fell to the ground, they became carnations. Carnations thus became a symbol of mother’s love.

When the second Sunday in May was selected as a day to celebrate and honor motherhood in the United States, Ann Jaris, the leader of the “Mother’s Day Movement,” chose the carnation as a symbol of a mother’s love. A colored carnation is worn if that person’s mother is alive. A white carnation is worn if the person’s mother has died.

As for the meaning behind the word, some scholars believe that the word carnation comes either from the word coronation (to crown the king) or corone, which were flower garlands used as Greek ceremonial crowns. The flowers in those crowns traditionally included carnations. Either base word reminds us of King Jesus.

Other scholars believe the word carnation originated from the Greek word carnis (meaning flesh), referring to the original color of the flower. Carnis can thus remind us of the incarnation of God made flesh—Jesus.

Unlike more delicate flowers, the carnation is strong and sturdy—staying fresh for many days. Also, unlike the sweeter fragrance of others flowers, the carnation is spicy. That spiciness can remind us of the spices—frankincense and myrrh—brought by the Wise Men as a gift to Jesus on Epiphany [celebrated on January 6, twelve days after Christmas].

 

Flowers Gemstones FRONT COVER

Coming in 2016 from Amazon.com in print and Kindle

May 02

WHY I LOVE IDAHO

 

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One year ago, Jim and I packed up our two U-Haul trucks and made our new home here in Idaho. Over the past year, I’ve posted several reasons why I love living here.

Here are two more reasons.

1. Last month, we received official notice in our utility bill from the City of Middleton. The Middleton police are cracking down. It’s practically a crime wave: Too many people park their cars facing the wrong direction on the street.

Although it’s the law to park correctly, that’s not such a bad type of crime wave to have.

What’s so great about the crackdown is the reasoning behind it. Our fine police officers have nothing more dangerous to do than get folks to park properly.

I love Middleton, even when the cars aren’t parked just right.

2. Every morning on the non-Christian radio station Jim listens to, the regularly scheduled music stops and a version of the Star Spangled Banner is played. An hour later, the music stops again and the station heads to an elementary school in the region. There, we hear the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance. When they’re done, they shout “God bless America!”

There are things wrong with our country, but it is still our country and God can still bless it. It’s nice to have that reminder each morning and it’s nice to know that kids here are being reminded to start the day focusing on God and country.

God bless each of you and please, God, bless America.

Apr 25

FOR FAITH: Psalm 77:14

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God is in the business of performing miracles. Sometimes He even lets us see them displayed. Praising God for His power and goodness.

Apr 18

SHADOWED VALLEYS

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Once in a while we have glorious, spirit lifting experiences where we feel as if we have just spent time atop the mountain with God. The key is to take the experience, the lesson and the emotion back down with us when we descend the mountain and  head into the valley.

Even if the valley we descend into feels like that valley of death.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23: 4 ESV)

When we think of being in a valley of the shadow of death, we think anxiety and uncertainty, misery and pain. But there are other things going on.

GOD’S SHADOW IS RESTFUL

Remember the way the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary? It was God at His best, blessing Mary and protecting her. When the angel spoke to Mary, he used the Hebrew word episkiazo, which was the same word Matthew and Mark both used when talking about the transfiguration of Jesus. The overshadowing was a bright cloud covering Jesus, Moses and and Elijah as God the Father exclaimed His joy and love for Jesus.

It reminds us of the way we can rest in the shadow of His wing; we can retreat from the terrors of the world and rest in the shade he provides. See also Psalm 91:1-2, Psalm 17:-8-9; Psalm 36:7; Psalm 57:1; Psalm 63:7; Hosea 14:7. Shadows can definitely be a good thing.

SHADOWS OCCUR WHERE THERE IS LIGHT

If there is a shadow, it means there is light on the other side of the shadow. Specifically, the shadow is nothing of substance. The light of the world however  comes from just one source: God. Remembering that God is the light, shining through the shadow, can give us encouragement for the journey.

DEATH HAS NO MEANING

When Psalm 23 was written, Jesus had not yet come to live in the world. He had not yet been crucified. He had not resurrected to prove to us his power over death. We have the benefit of seeing Jesus live again. We have the understanding that we are eternal beings. We need not fear evil in the valley of the shadow of death because we know that Jesus has triumphed over both evil and death. The valleys are no longer the valleys of the shadow of death. They are just lovely, restful, pastoral valleys. We might as well enjoy their beauty.

♥ ♥ ♥

Mountain tops are awesome. They provide us with a vision of the grand and amazing. We are able to see vistas clearly and get a sense of the big picture, literally and spiritually. But the valley is where we live. And when we look for Jesus in the valley, He is right here, walking along side us, whether the valley is shadowed or lit with heavenly sunbeams.

Enjoy the journey.

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