Grateful or Disobedient?

A man with leprosy came to Him (Jesus) and begged Him on his knees, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 1:40‭-‬45 NIV

I’m curious. How do you read this true scenario? Was the man’s behavior disobedient or grateful?

Was the healed man dismissive of Jesus’ authority?

Or was he simply so overwhelmed with gratitude that he couldn’t help but tell everyone of his miraculous healing?

And was this glorifying to God? The healed leper was testifying to the kindness and power of Jesus.

But, didn’t Jesus, Messiah, command the healed man to go directly to the priests with his testimony? Wasn’t he strongly warned by Jesus not to tell anyone? The man was supposed to follow the law of Moses. (See Leviticus 13-14)

Did the healed man’s actions affect the movement of Jesus in that community? Was the work of God hampered by the man’s exercise of his free will? If so, how?

Worth pondering, this scenario is a much deeper well than it might appear on a cursory review.

I’m curious. Holy Spirit, what insight and revelation of truth would you like to reveal through this scripture? How does this real life scenario apply to my life in 2021?

Please come Holy Spirit and bring wisdom. Please reveal to me what You want me to know. Come and teach me how to honor Jesus and submit to His authority in my life. For my own good and for His glory…

I’m curious. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Uncle Jim’s Thanksgiving

Maybe I just don’t remember a Thanksgiving celebration quite so impactful, but this one certainly goes to the top of my favorites list.  As I surveyed the faces, I recognized the presence of countless miracles gathered in one room.  In particular, God used the miracle of Uncle Jim to teach me perhaps one of the most important lessons of my lifetime.

Table set and ready for the gathering.

Right at three years ago Uncle Jim received a terrible diagnosis.  It was lung cancer – stage 4. The uninvited and unwelcome malignant tumor had made itself at home between a lung and spinal cord.  Quickly following discovery treatment began. The pressure to make life altering decisions in the fast lane must have been overwhelming.

In my quiet times of reflection, I thought of King Jehoshaphat.  He had once faced a seemingly impossible situation. Enemy forces loomed large over God’s people and land.  In response, King Jehoshaphat called all the people of Judah and Jerusalem together in prayer. Honestly and humbly, the king prayed, “O our God… We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV

Two years passed and I began to sense that I needed to do more than pray the King’s words.  I sensed the Lord nudging me back into direct contact with my uncle. I cared deeply for this man who had been more like an older brother in our youth, but I felt awkward reaching out across years of silence. There was no discontent between us. Quite simply I had delegated communication responsibilities to my parents. They kept me informed of all the latest news. The busyness of life and miles of distance I now realize are a poor excuse!

Uncle Jim and his son, Jon, fried turkey chefs. They came to visit and cooked too!

The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.

Sensing an urgency, I wrote a long overdue letter to my uncle.  I told him that I had been praying for him, and I referenced the words of James 5:14-15.  I carefully wrapped a small vial of oil, prayed for God’s favor, and mailed the package in absolute obedience to God.  Once received, Uncle Jim called me. He was curious. Skeptical, yet pleasantly surprised to receive this type of mail from me. For about an hour we enjoyed wonderful conversation full of laughter and honest questions.  I had very few answers.  

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
James 5:14‭-‬15 NIV

Before we said goodbye, I asked if I could pray for him.  I encouraged Uncle Jim to contact a local pastor and seek Godly wisdom.  He said he would think about it. Finally, I said to Uncle Jim, “The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.”

Weeks passed without a word. Then unexpectedly Uncle Jim called to let me know the rest of the story.  His son’s youth pastor had enthusiastically gathered nine other men to anoint Uncle Jim with the oil I sent, and pray a simple prayer of faith. 

My own faith was encouraged as I listened to my uncle relay the details. “It wasn’t weird”, he said, “and I didn’t really feel anything unusual.”  My response was simply this, “Did you feel loved?”  

Fast forward a year later, Uncle Jim received the good news from his doctor.  The beautiful word remission had replaced the terrible word cancer. With strength returning, Uncle Jim and his children made the long drive from South Florida to join us for Thanksgiving.  We joined hands around the feast and called out to God with thankful hearts.

Uncle Jim kneeling in the front. He’s showing off his renewed strength!

So many times in life we do not know what to do, but we have a choice.  We can put our eyes on God. We can trust the fight to Him. We can reach out to touch another human being with encouragement.  Just as critical, we can make sure someone feels loved in the middle of the battle.

Do you feel loved?

This is my #dontforgetthanksgiving story. What’s yours?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine, 

Lisa

Saturday Share with Chloe Townsend

Welcome to Saturday Share!  

Saturday Share coffeeThe purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus.  It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line.  If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.

I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives.  Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT  

I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:

Chloe Townsend

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Learning to Dream with God

By Chloe Townsend

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed creating things of my own. It mainly started with the art form of drawing. My big brother and I would spend hours in his closet tracing looney tunes characters in hopes that one day we could do it without the help of the massive character book that guided our hands as we lined the cartoon shapes on our pieces of tracing paper.

SS Chloe with her mug 021718

It wasn’t just my brother and looney tunes that influenced my desire to create. My mother was an incredible seamstress with a studio above our garage full of fabrics, threads, and machinery. I spent many days watching as she intricately sewed curtains and reupholstered furniture for clients and new projects.

Creativity seemed to be in my biological makeup. But what has been interesting for me as I’ve “grown up” is that with all of the creativeness I had around and within me, I never knew what I wanted to do with it. I knew it was something I truly loved and I often felt like my true self while doing anything in the artistic category, but when I went to college I was so unsure of what occupation to choose for my life. To do a fine art degree would mean that I would most likely struggle financially unless I magically received an art opportunity of a lifetime so I nixed that idea before I finished my senior year of high school. I didn’t want to be the struggling artist. And then I heard about graphic design which I thought maybe that could work if I decided I wanted to go the art direction. I signed up to take the Introduction to Graphic Design class my second semester of college and by the end of it, I felt like I had failed it. My professor’s critiques made me believe I was in the wrong department. So I switched my career focus and decided business sounded like a possible choice.

That next semester I took a few business classes and felt more confused than ever. Then, when I received my grade for the prior semester, I had a B in the graphic design course! Like, what? I thought I failed that sucker. So I noped out of the business department and immediately decided from that point on that graphic design was what I needed to do. Out of all the other career paths, that one felt the “most right” for me.

All throughout college, the design professors would say that designers needed to find their niche. Whether it was branding, illustration, or marketing/advertising – find that specific design area to thrive in. Yeah, I never did that. I had NO idea what design area I liked best or thrived in and quite honestly, I had no intention of figuring that part out. I got to the point where I would say that versatility was one of my main strengths. That was just my way of avoiding what they told me I should do.

So, let’s fast forward past graduation and to me landing my first “big girl” job. I became a marketing designer at a company north of Atlanta and really learned the difference between a mediocre designer and a great designer. There were many things that college was unable to prepare me for in the real design world but I managed to get by and become a better designer in the process. But the dog-eat-dog mentality of Corporate America really started to weigh on me. It got to the point that I had trouble sleeping at night and was stressed about 90% of the time. My quality of life plummeted in a crazy downward spiral and my main way of dealing with it was an ugly girl cry and asking God why I was still there. It was very unpleasant, to say the least.

SS chloe pottery 021718

Then, after an unfortunate event, I became the scapegoat for some coworkers. And I heard the Lord tell me it was time for me to pack my things and leave. So I did. I had nothing lined up next and after a month’s time, I was able to find another job (praise be to God).This job was basically the complete opposite of the first. It was very slow paced and I was able to design with ease. I knew after a period of time I would get bored and need to move on but in that moment, I needed something that could help me chill out. I needed a place that I got to leave work at work and didn’t have to think about it until I clocked in the next morning. After about a year into this job, I started feeling antsy. This job was not one with much creativity and there was no moving up in this position. It was very repetitive and I began to feel like I might go insane from always doing the same cycle every three months. But one of the great things about it was that I started to dream for myself. I started (what was LONG overdue) to ask God what I needed to do and where I needed to be. I was tired of sitting behind a desk and not enjoying my work. If I’m going to spend the majority of my waking hours doing something, I should at least enjoy it, right? I sound like a true millennial, don’t I?

All I knew to do was pray and seek God’s guidance. I asked why I was never happy in these jobs and what was wrong with me when it came to working at them. I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t seem to be okay with them. I mean, I was getting to do some form of design at both of them which wasn’t the case for some of my other college design friends. I was blessed to actually find and be hired for jobs in my field. But I really wanted to do things with my hands. I wanted to feel giddy about the work I created. I didn’t want to be glued to a computer screen all the time. I wanted more spontaneity and flexibility in my life and I wanted to feel and believe that whatever I did was making a direct difference for the kingdom of God.

…the people of the city wanted you to walk on flowers wherever you went. And a new dream started to bloom in my heart. I wanted to make things with sweet character like that.

After praying about all of this, I felt like the Lord was telling me to start an online magazine where women get to share their stories of Jesus. I began to dream about it and knew I needed to pursue it. It’s been an incredible experience and when the dream began I believed it was what I needed to do for the Lord. Unfortunately, it’s been somewhat harder than I expected. The way it’s set up to work successfully is by consistently receiving submissions from others and the majority of the time, people are busy and aren’t able to make time to submit something for it. At the beginning of it, I believed it was going to be my main thing, but now, I think I was jumping ahead of the Lord (don’t do this). Although, it’s a huge blessing to run, it’s no longer my “main” dream with Jesus. One of the greatest gifts resulting from this magazine is that I started to see I could do more for God and I didn’t have to work towards someone else’s vision/dream to accomplish it. He would give me my own dream to pursue and grow for him.SS 1John5.14 tpt chloe

In May of 2017, my husband and I went on our first trip to Europe. We went to Barcelona, Spain for our third year anniversary and we had an incredible time while we were there. I fell in love with the beautiful architecture of the city and was mesmerized by Antoni Gaudi’s work all throughout Barcelona. One of the details I loved most about it was the city’s flower tiles that seemed to be almost everywhere I walked. This simple flower design added this unique aesthetic that I wanted more of in my life. One of the stories behind the tiles was that the people of the city wanted you to walk on flowers wherever you went. And a new dream started to bloom in my heart. I wanted to make things with sweet character like that.

In the United States, we tend to throw buildings up and try to immediately make as much profit as possible out of them. Architecturally speaking, the last thing America seems to care about is the aesthetic beauty that brings forth a unique character. Unless, of course, you go back to the days when America first started to become America. Those people had better taste when it came to building and home design.

So I came home asking the Lord if this new dream was mine or his. If I were to pursue it, it was going to be a big financial investment and I really had no idea how I’d be able to pull it off. I had told a friend about this new dream of mine and how I’d need a kiln and all sorts of other expensive things and how this was likely not going to work out for me. After a few weeks, I got a call from this friend who excitedly told me she saw on her Facebook newsfeed that one of her friends was giving her 20-year-old kiln away. On top of that, it had never been used. If I was willing to go pick it up, it was mine. I don’t know about you, but I believed that God was telling me in that moment that this was his dream for me. Not just mine. I pretty much cried and began the process of making this ceramics dream happen. It reminds me of 1 John 5:14 (TPT) which states, “Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we present any request agreeable to his will, he will hear us.”

Within the past month, I’ve left my day job to pursue this dream head on and start a business where I create tiles and other home goods in hopes to bring back the beautiful character and aesthetic that modern America has seemed to leave behind. Our God creates beautiful things and so, with my hands, I pray I can do the same in his holy name.

Friends, if you’ve read this God story, I have an exhortation for you: If you have a dream of any kind, I urge you to ask the Lord if it’s his or yours. Then wait for the Lord; he will tell you! And if your dream falls in line with his will, DO NOT let the enemy tell you that you’re unqualified, that it’s too late/you’re too old, or anything else that will steal this dream away from you. You are none of those things. If God has called you to pursue a dream, be obedient and pursue it in faith knowing he goes before and behind you! He knows the glory that will follow it and I know without a shadow of a doubt he will be glorified through the gifts/dreams that he’s given you. Be encouraged that our sweet Lord is with you every step of the way. He’s never let you down before, why would he start now?

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SS chloe headshotChloe Townsend is an Arkansas native living in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. She lives with her husband, Caleb, two cats, Gatsby and Valentine, and baby girl pup, Rey. In her spare time, she likes to read, create, drink coffee, play soccer, write, pray to and worship Jesus, and hang with her wonderful friends and family.

You can follow Chloe on Instagram: @chloebelletown or check out her magazine website: truegoldmag.com.

Have I made room for Jesus lately?

Even though the Christmas carols have been put away for another 11 months, I’m asking Holy Spirit to bring these words back to mind often throughout 2018.  I pray the tune will play softly in the background of my everyday thoughts.  Please, Lord, as I tend to let my mind and my heart get cluttered with useless and non-productive stuff, place a spiritual trash bag in my hands.  I want to be obedient this year to live clutter-free physically and spiritually.Have I made room

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2, NIV

On the radio, an old familiar Christmas carol plays softly as background music.  Passing through the room, my mind swirls with thoughts of all I need to accomplish today.  Suddenly, I tune in to these words from Joy to the World.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room

I had just read those words: “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:6-7, NIV

I have to stop now and ask myself, “Have I made room for Him in my own life?”  I have received Him.  He sought me out and proved His love for me first.  Then I received Him, His love and His gift of belonging to His family.

But, have I made room for Him lately?Romans 12.2

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I received a surprise request.  A friend of a friend called to ask if he and his family might rent our basement apartment while they look for a house to buy.  We were thrilled to be asked.  We’re delighted to give what little space we have, but would it be enough for their precious family of five?

Immediately, my husband and I jumped into action to clean out all the stuff of our own lives we’ve accumulated in that space.  Years of stuff stored in the closets.  Things our sons left behind when they went to college, old books, and ski gear from that one trip out west.  All stuff we thought we might need again sometime, which we haven’t.  And now it needed to be pulled out and sorted, thrown away and given away because we were making room for a family to come to live with us.

We’re so grateful for this opportunity to make room.  This precious family has given us a fresh awareness of our need to clean out the old stuff of our hearts as well. We need, daily, to make room for our King.  Let us receive Him.  Let us prepare Him room.  Heaven and nature sing.  And let us sing of the wonders of His love.

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 12/30/2017.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

 

Day 17: Women, to {grow} and bear good fruit, don’t you see we need each other?

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.  So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.  Ruth 3:5-6 niv

Afterwards, Naomi said to Ruth:  “How did it go, my daughter?”  Then (Ruth) told (Naomi) everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”  Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3:16-18 niv

Women, don’t you see?  To grow and bear good fruit, we need each other.

As I peek into the window of Naomi’s house, I see two women who have chosen to intentionally follow provisions set forth in the Law of Moses to {grow} a family.  Naomi, firmly rooted, knew the way for Ruth to be redeemed by a near kinsman.  Boaz, was Naomi’s choice because of the kindness and honor he had shown to both Ruth and her entire family.  Over a longer period of time, I think Naomi had been lovingly teaching her daughter the way to set the redemption process in motion.grow tomatoes.png

Ruth listened.  She obeyed her mother’s instruction exactly.  After Ruth had done all she was told to do, Boaz gave further instructions, and she obeyed him as well.

The seeds of a new family had been sewn.  The soil was rich and the family name would continue with firm roots, grow and in time bear fruit.  Boaz promised, one way or another Ruth would be grafted into a new family.  Though to grow means to wait.

Well, I’m thinking specifically of the time I decided I wanted to grow tomatoes.  Visiting with my parents and checking out their new garden, my dad offered me three of his leftover tomato plants.  Though I had been unsuccessful at growing tomatoes in the past,  I decided to be more intentional and give it another go.

I mean, if I followed the directions, how hard could it be?  The easy part was following the directions.  I was purposeful this time.  I did my research, and I followed every detailed instruction.

The tomato plants were carefully planted in the sunshine, staked for potential growth support, and I watered them only once a week per the directions.  I couldn’t wait to walk out my door, pick and eat juicy red homegrown tomatoes.

So, what’s the hard part?  Waiting.pablo (87)

Every morning, for weeks,  I walked outside, inspected my little plants for any obvious growth, measured their growth, observed new leaves and inspected the plants for any signs of buds.  I watered the plants once weekly and pulled weeds from around the roots.  And I waited… waited…  waited some more…

Do you know how long it takes to grow tomatoes?  Yes, but it’s worth the wait because there’s not much better than stepping outside the door to pick juicy red tomatoes, wash and eat right off the vine!

I see a similar {grow}ing process in Ruth and Naomi.  They are family, closer than blood relatives, daughter and mother.  They are a beautiful example of discipleship.  Truly, I think if I could be invited into their home I would see iron sharpening iron.  Naomi diligently taking time to teach her daughter.  In the waiting, Naomi was preparing Ruth for her new home.  Yet, in the process of preparing, caring for and waiting for the right time to be fulfilled, Ruth was breathing encouragement, renewed vision, and purpose into her mother, Naomi.

Ponders:

As you read through Ruth chapter 3, what truth regarding growth stands out to you?

  • I remember the day I boldly proclaimed to the Lord, “I want you to {grow} me up!”  I think I wanted all the benefits of growing into His likeness, but I had no idea the difficult training course of becoming like Him.  I also didn’t factor in the “waiting” time involved.
    • Jesus said we would encounter trouble in this world, but not to worry because He has overcome death and defeated satan already.
    • Jesus also said that if we are going to follow Him we will have to deny ourselves, take up a cross and go where He leads.
    • Considering the cost, do you want to ask Jesus to {grow} you up into His image?
  • Is there a woman in your life who is mentoring you on the journey with Jesus?  And just as important have you extended your hand back to a woman coming along behind to mentor her?
    • It’s a beautiful picture of women – each extending a hand – one in front of another and alongside, linked up arm in arm, persevering, caring, loving and pointing toward Jesus as we run the race marked out for us.
  • If to {grow} means to wait, what do we need Holy Spirit to teach us about cultivating relationships, walking the Jesus journey together and anticipating the coming fruit?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa