O Lord, I’m tired…

We sat together, a group of women ranging in age from young mommy to less young with grown children (like me), around several tables pushed in to make one.  The chatter was bountiful as we brightened our doodle sheets with many colors.  The word LOVE was sketched vertically down the black and white page our teacher handed out.  You might have the impression we were helping out in a children’s class; but no, we were gathered up for Bible study.  All of us women folk – coloring and doodling, chatting and laughing.tired 030918

My spiritual daughter is leading us in discipleship training through Titus 2 over six weeks this spring.  This was our third week, and we were getting ready to talk about loving our husbands well.  We would even dare to uncover and discuss our Father’s view of submitting ourselves as wives under the headship of our husbands.

This young friend who prayerfully walks ahead of us on this journey through Titus 2 asked me, momma, to open us with prayer.  My first words were these…  “O Lord, I’m tired…”  I exhaled a long deep breath from the bottom of my weary lungs.  I whispered again…”Lord, probably everyone here is tired, and so this is why we come to sit at Your feet…”

It’s true, you know?  We’re all tired as the result of something or tired of something.  I can’t speak for everyone – just me.  But I’m tired from the constant pelting of these sharp cords against my heart and mind…

Angry words, hateful attitudes, and accusations are often hurled ruthlessly.

Violence, abuse, and brutality – one human being against another.

Families are broken and separated.

Pathology reports, diagnoses, hospice care and death.

Job loss and financial ruin.

Anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicide attempts.

And then I remember the days of horrific torture Jesus endured leading up to His crucifixion and death.  He took all of these angry lashes upon His flesh and more.  Every sin ever conceived of satan and perpetrated by man – Jesus bore it.  He chose to do it in obedience to His Father’s will.

Then the ruling priests, over and over, made bitter accusations against him, but he remained silent. So Pilate questioned him again. “Have you nothing to say? Don’t you hear these many allegations they’re making against you?” But Jesus offered no defense to any of the charges, much to the great astonishment of Pilate.  Mark 15:3-5 tpt

Jesus silenced His tired, weary heart and mind and just took it – all of the evil of all time from the Garden of Eden to the Battle of Armageddon.

If I think I’m tired… and I am… surely my Savior, Jesus, understands why.

Ponders:

Is there something weighing you down to the point of weariness?  Is living in this broken world making you tired?

Do you believe Jesus bore that thing in His flesh?  Would you like to ask Jesus to take (_name it here_) from you and give you rest?

Ask Him.  He will do it.  Jesus delights to be our peace.

Come Holy Spirit of God and bring Your comfort.  Let us gather tired at Your feet Jesus and receive Your rest for You are peace.  Thank You for lovingly hearing our heart cries. amen.

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Today I am joining Kate and her wonderful community of faith writers for some Five Minute Friday writing fun.  The word prompt for this week is {tired}  If you’re in the least bit intrigued, come join us for the Five Minute Friday link up

All you have to do is ponder the word prompt, set your timer for 5:00, and start typing. When time’s up, publish and link up.  Oh so simple!

If I had only one chance…

Just recently I was asked this question:

Now that you’ve journeyed with Jesus many years what do you want younger sojourners to know?

There are so many things I want you to know.  It is the delight of my heart to get to share the path with beautiful creations of God.  Yes, I’m talking to you.  No matter who you think you are or what you believe or how far you’ve wandered, you are a beautiful creation of God.  So, may I ask that you don’t disqualify yourself from this small window of opportunity I have to share four simple truths with you?

My hope before the Lord is for Him to make useful – to redeem – my many wanderings off the path and my eventual returns to the straight path.  I hope one day to be able to glimpse an aerial view of my journey from birth to death.  Assuredly, my life path will reveal anything but a straight line!

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So, for this short part of our walk together, I want to encourage you with four simple truths.  And as we head our separate ways in just a few moments, I want to challenge you to explore these truths for yourself.  There’s absolutely no need to take my word for it.  I can’t convince you of anything.  However, there’s power in sharing our stories so I am compelled to do that.  More importantly, the Spirit of God is the best teacher as the Word of God is alive and useful in convincing us of truth.

So, just in case, this is my one chance to cross paths with you, I want you to know:

You are loved.

You are not lost.

You can go home.

Your story matters.

I believe and I want you to know that everything in the course of our whole life journey submitted into God’s Hands is productive and beneficial.  Our Creator wastes nothing of our experience in molding and shaping us into the image of His dear Son, Jesus, our elder brother.  All we need to do is listen for the sound of Father’s voice calling our name… and turn our face toward His voice.  He’s already on His way to you.

And He chose us to be His very own, joining us to Himself even before He laid the foundation of the universe! Because of His great love, He ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in His eyes with an unstained innocence. For it was always His plan to adopt us as His delightful children.  Ephesians 1:4-6 tpt

You are loved.

Ephesians 1

How do I know?

I know.  I have God’s Word on it!

You might argue that I don’t know you. I don’t know where you’ve been.  Maybe you would counter with the truth that I don’t know what you’ve done in the past or how you are living today.  I pretty much know the arguments by heart because most of them were my own arguments to refute the idea God could love me.

All of those arguments are irrelevant.  Not to be offensive and not because I say so, but because God says so.  His Word, written in the book known as The Bible, is really His love letter to you.   Through this tangible loving and living Word, He beckons you to know of His great love for you simply because He knit you in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139).

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I’ll catch up with you here next week.  I hope you will want to rejoin me here for a walk in the truth of God’s Word.  My story will be here and Holy Spirit will be our teacher in truth and love…

Until next time this is my prayer for you and me:

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!

~Lisa

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Future walks on our pioneer journey:

You are not lost.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:9-10 esv

You can go home.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7 niv

Your story matters.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

Psalm 51:13 niv

 

Saturday Share with Bettie Gilbert

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:

Bettie Gilbert

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He Became Our All in All

by Bettie Gilbert

Thirty-two years ago, our family followed God’s leading and moved across the country. We picked up stakes, and together with our young children, left the familiar behind. What we could not see, were the ways that God would use that move to shatter all of our pre-conceived notions of what Christianity and the Ministry looked like.  We had so many lessons to learn. . .

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
 Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  Isaiah 46:3-4 NIV

The month before we moved, a friend gave us those verses from Isaiah. And I chose to cling to the promises that HE would sustain us through every step of the uncertainty.  And He did!  But in the process, my husband suffered through a deep depression as the Lord gradually loosened our hold on a ministry dream that had too much of our own selves written all over it.  When my husband shared words that I had spoken to him with his counselor, the counselor wondered how I could have such insight.  I only knew that God was carrying us, and there was nowhere to go except to Him.

HE became our only answer.

 

SS Bettie G I will carry you

 

When we weren’t sure our faith would survive intact, God held onto us, and He led us back to our Midwestern roots.  But the trials were not finished.  Through the next 10 years, He shook up every notion of what we thought our days should look like. He drew us out of ourselves and brought us into the solid ground of His merciful sustaining grace.  We tasted what it felt like to have a failed ministry, a failed business, and no home of our own.

HE became our only home.

As our children walked with us through those moves, they watched what we went through.  And in the process, they each faced their own kind of testing. One felt the weight of fear and anxiety, one felt the tug of worldliness and ease, and the other felt the sting of not measuring up to the standards of a legalistic church.  I heard myself crying out to God.

Oh Lord! Why would you allow our children to suffer so, simply because they were made to walk through the lessons that we, their parents, had to learn?

How will they ever overcome these trials that were the results of our own mistakes?

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

What a faithful Lord! How merciful are His judgments, beyond tracing out!  God has knit together the shape and form of our children, just as He has shaped and formed our own beings. And what was for our benefit will be for their benefit also, because of His great grace.  The very trials they face are the very places where God brought us into intimate touch with His mercy. It is the way of intercession.

BG SS He comforts us

He allows us to bear each other’s burdens for a reason. It is in the bearing that we are covered by His wings.  Under His wings we find refuge, and even when we cannot see it at the moment, He is drawing our children under His wings, as we pray for those trials to be redeemed by the power of His blood. As I prayed and watched God move, my children found their own place of refuge under His wings.

But it was in the remembering of those lonely seasons that my heart longed for other Mamas whose hearts now ask the same questions concerning their own children.  Would there be a place to connect and share those burdens?  Could we ever know that we are not alone in bearing those burdens to Jesus?  How could we share our heavy hearts together?

Jesus heard those longings, and by a roundabout journey, He connected me with a beautiful prodigal returned, one whose own Mother had prayed for her through the long years of testing and wandering also.  As she and I began to share our hearts, we realized that the Lord had given us each a kindred spirit and a longing for both the lost ones struggling and their Mamas praying over their return. It has been such a joy to be part of the team gathered at the website that my friend Anna began, BelovedProdigal.com, and to join in praying and sharing with others whose hearts are also longing for the return of wandering loved ones.

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Are you in a place of lonely praying now? Do you find yourself looking back with sadness at the lessons you or your children have had to walk through?  Does it feel that redemption of those times may never come?  Listen to these words that Jesus spoke to us:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

As we offer back to Him those very trials and tribulations, He will redeem each one.  We may not see how, we may not know when, but He will work things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

HE has become our only purpose.

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Bettie G headshot SSBettie Gilbert can be found in a small town in rural Southeast Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband of 39 years. You can find her blogging at BettieGsraseasons.com where she is seeking to be transparent with the journey that God has her traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Osteoporosis. She is also excited to be part of the team sharing words over at BelovedProdigal.com joining in as the Lord calls the lost ones back to His heart.

Just stop all the fussin’

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:1-2, NLT

 

Years ago I ran the ‘mom taxi’ for my two middle school sons and friends.  Rarely did we taxi about town sans an argument.  “I call shotgun!”  “You cheated!”  “Stop looking at me”  “You’re a ­_”  “I HATE you!”  “I’m tellin’…”

Be completely humble

I scolded, gave consequences and quoted Scripture.  To no avail, I demanded teen boys speak only edifying words to one another.  Heart-broken over these word-brawls, we purchased an SUV with three-row seating.  Problem solved.  I claimed the front row with each son one behind the other.  No more carpool unification strategies.  I simply chose to divide to keep the peace and protect my sanity.

Afraid of being awarded ‘worst mother’ designation, I’m tempted to scrap this post and pick another topic.  However, Holy Spirit reminds me of truth.  My sons aren’t the first, nor are they the last siblings to treat each other with such selfish and jealous contempt.  My brother and I were no better, but we can trace sibling rivalry through the generations all the way back to Cain and Abel.

The truth is that such behavior is the natural condition of our flesh.  Unfortunately, all of God’s children, myself included, at all ages and stages of life are capable of similar unhealthy, unproductive and simply sinful behaviors.  And it breaks the Father’s heart.

Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Is the Father’s solution separation?  No the plan to divide and conquer is the plot of the evil one.  Instead, our Father calls for humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance all wrapped in love.  To seek to live peaceably with all and in unity with His Spirit in love is to bless our Father’s heart and bear much fruit.  (Romans 12:18, Colossians 2:2, Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV)

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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 – 1/13/2018.

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

Saturday Share with Marie Gregg

Saturday Share coffeeWelcome to Saturday Share!  

The 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.  Our stories are not finished and that’s the main point!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1-2)

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

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Little Spaces

by Marie Gregg

Like any other writer, I dream of book tours and lecture circuits, but the actual reality of those things is far beyond my comfort zone. Planes, trains, and automobiles whirling about the country, carrying me off to places unseen and people unknown…my heart begins to thud with the mere contemplation.grace 2 Peter 3.18 MG

I’m not a brave person.

When I think of the word brave, my mind conjures up images of people who have done great things. Florence Nightingale, caring for wounded soldiers left in appalling conditions during the Crimean War. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. Desmond Doss, the conscientious objector who saved the lives of up to 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus.

Me? I’m lucky if I can put together one coherent sentence when in the presence of a stranger.

Great things? Acts of heroism?

Yeah, right.

I am far more comfortable in the little spaces, the hidden places.

I wonder if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego felt the same way. Sure, they agreed with their friend Daniel when it came to obeying God’s commands about what they could eat (Daniel 1:11-16). Yes, they were promoted, became part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s inner circle (Daniel 1:19-20). But their story doesn’t require much ink. They go along, doing their thing.

Until Chapter 3, the statute and the flames.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you experience various trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-3 (CSB)

Rach, Shach, and Benny found themselves thrust into the middle of a situation that they may not have anticipated. In a split second, they had to choose. The King or God? Life or death? They got to live out the words of James long before they were ever written. Their little space, their hidden place, was suddenly exposed.

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So it is with you. And me.

We need a broader understanding of what it means to be heroic. A brave person is not made in a single moment, on center stage, but in the thousands of little choices that go unseen by all by God. For me, bravery is built every time I choose to walk into a room believing that I am a daughter of the King. It’s not something anyone else notices. It’s a war inside my head, a battle across my soul. Who am I going to believe, the voice of the Enemy that spews lies to break me down and keep me isolated, or the voice of the Holy Spirit that empowers me to do what He has called me to do?

I don’t always make the right choice. More days than I care to count, my head is down, eyes studying the floor, hoping that I can sneak by unnoticed.

My trial: Anxiety.

My test: Doing it anyway.

Publishing a blog post, meeting someone for coffee, leading a small group, making an announcement in church. It all scares me. My mind jumps to the worst-case scenario every single time.

Jesus meets me there. Just as He gave those three men the courage to defy a king, so He gives me courage each and every day. All I have to do is reach out and take it. Make the choice to trust Him and watch another brick be placed on the Wall of Bravery in my mind. My hands shake in the effort to cling to His steady ones. Sometimes, slick with the sweat of fear, they slip away.

He holds on when I cannot.

“…solid food is for the mature – for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity…” Hebrews 5:14-6:1 (CSB)

It doesn’t happen overnight, this bravery. It’s a growing thing, a pressing thing. It’s part of the lifelong process we call sanctification, the way that Jesus smooths the rough parts and shapes us into the people He designed us to be. Bravery is found in letting go of what has gone before and reaching for the deeper things that lay ahead. It’s found in putting one foot in front of the other, even as the entire body trembles, because Jesus says, “You can because I Am.”maturity Hebrews 6.1 MG

You, like me, may always be content to live behind-the-scenes. Our voices may always be quieter than others, our actions subtler. But make no mistake: We face the statue and the flames all the time. When we’re tempted to run from God’s assignment for us, tempted to hold a grudge, tempted to take a second look, tempted to open the bottle or take the pill. A thousand variations and a million different choices.

 

Jesus is there, in all of it.

You and me, let’s choose Him.

Even in the little spaces.

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Marie Gregg headshot

 

Marie Gregg lives in North Idaho with her husband and two fat, neurotic dogs.  She is the author of several books, all of which are available on Amazon.  When she’s not engaged in Bible study or competitive napping, she writes about life and theology over at Along the Way.  Join her on the journey. (Facebook    /   Instagram   /   Twitter)

Book Review: Stones of Remembrance by Daniel G. Amen, MD

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated with our human brain. It is amazing in its capacity to retain and retrieve information, analyze it and produce an action by sending messages to the rest of the body.  Because Dr. Amen referred to his book as ‘A Memory Rescue Resource’ I was intrigued.  Who couldn’t use some memory work?

 

Absolutely, I found this little book to be a valuable resource for encouraging memory exercise – primarily by way of Scripture memorization. joshua 1.8

I particularly liked the organization of the book.  The 12 letter mnemonic device (REMEMBRANCES) was very helpful for memorizing the 12 spiritual disciplines considered by Dr. Amen “the foundations of a healthy brain and strong memory as well”. (page xvii)

The foundations highlighted by Dr. Amen are: Rest, Exercise, Meditation & Prayer, Eating Healthy, Meaningful Work, Bonding with Others, Relaxation, Absolution, New Learning, Concentration, Enjoyment, and Socialization.  With each spiritual discipline, Dr. Amen provided a short synopsis of the important role each plays in the healthy functioning of the brain.  For example, in the last discipline discussed – socialization – Dr. Amen asserts our need for interpersonal relationships.

“We need other people in our lives to thrive emotionally and spiritually.  Without friends and family to interact with, our minds begin to decay.  In fact, studies have shown that feeling lonely is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”

Also particularly helpful are the “Tips for Memorizing Scripture” toward the back of the book.  Though the 10 tips seem rather common sense, reading through them encouraged me to keep going.  I realized I already practice several of the tips without recognizing them as a tool.  Others appeared to be a possibility for future memorization work.

I quite often hear people say they are not able to memorize Scripture – regardless of age. This is very bothersome to me because God tells us to meditate on His word day and night.  His word tells us He will write His word on our hearts.  He also says we are able to ask Him for anything – including wisdom – and to commit our ways to Him and He will accomplish what seems impossible.  Thus, I was greatly encouraged by Dr. Amen’s exhortations to practice using our memories.  I agree with Dr. Amen, our brain is a valuable and amazing aspect of our created bodies – knit together by God Himself – and so we must be good stewards of the tremendous resource we’ve been given by our loving Creator.Proverbs 7

May we all be found willingly and joyfully exercising our brains while we are able.  May we follow the precepts God gave us by remembering His commandments, meditating on His word, talking about His character when we rise up and when we lay down, and teaching the next generation.

Thank you, Dr. Amen, for this compact and valuable resource for keeping our minds healthy and alert by remembering God’s word which is living and active – like our brain!

Book Review: Walking on Water by Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D.

The title intrigued me first – Walking on Water – in reference to Peter’s bold request to walk out on the stormy sea to meet Jesus in the darkness. The subtitle also caught my attention – experiencing a life of miracles, courageous faith, and union with God – because this is where I’m walking in my real life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a miracle or courageous faith or union with God. Certainly, I need all of the above.

Jennifer A. Miskov did not disappoint as she boldly and honestly shares her journey with Jesus into deeper water and stormy seas resulting in a more intimate trusting and productive walk of faith.Matthew 14.28

In addition to the power of scripture combined with Jennifer’s real-life testimony, she offers activation exercises at the end of each chapter. These life applications of scripture caused me to pause and ask Holy Spirit for deeper application of God’s word in my life. 

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will simply highlight a couple of my big takeaways from Walking on Water.

The Art of Letting Go (pp. 51-61) – “Just because others are not stepping out of a boat you feel  you are supposed to step out of does not mean that you cannot or should not.”  Obviously, Peter was the only disciple to climb overboard to walk out toward Jesus, but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought through the practical truth of the scenario.

All the disciples were in the boat.  They were all afraid.  Peter was the only one who asked to walk out to Jesus and meet Him in the water.  What Peter didn’t do is even more compelling – He didn’t turn around to recruit anyone else to go with him.  He wasn’t clinging to anyone else or even the boat for security.  Peter just went.

I tend to look around to see who will go with me.  This is a tendency if which I want to be free.  I believe Jesus calls me out alone and expects me to obey whether anyone else comes along or not.

Resilience (pp. 118-129) – “If you can learn to navigate through disappointment, get back up, learn from the experience and move forward, you will grow in faith and be better prepared to step into the impossible in the future.”  In this chapter, Jennifer introduced the idea of ‘falling forward’.  We will all fall down on our journey of following Jesus as His disciples.  The critical point is that we fall toward Jesus as Peter did in the water.  Yes, Peter looked down to the waves and doubted, but when Peter fell, he fell moving toward Jesus – not running away.

I recognize my tendency to run and hide when life, ministry, and in general, simply following Jesus gets really challenging.  I have a fear of failure and so I tend to want to play it safe rather than risk falling at all.  This picture of Peter falling toward Jesus out in the open water is one I will carry with me as I seek to venture into unchartered faith territory.  Yes, Peter fell, but he fell doing the miraculous and Jesus was there to catch him.  I think I want to try too.

silence martha martha

There’s so much more wonderful, life-giving and challenging teaching packed into Walking on Water.  Jennifer’s style is conversational and so it’s easy to read one chapter after another.  However, the activation exercises at the end of each chapter are so thought-provoking and transformational I found myself spending a day or two on each chapter.  In my experience, it was helpful to marinate in the activations over a day or two in order to fully experience truth.

My journey through Jennifer’s book has been interactive, encouraging and life-changing. I can’t wait to pass this book to a friend and have already recommended it to several others. Most likely, Walking on Water will be a Christmas present or birthday gift for family and friends in the near future.

I pray you will jump out of your boat and enjoy Walking on Water.  Thank you, Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D. for blessing my life and enriching my journey with Jesus.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

FMF: Silence is golden

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Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday writing opportunity!  I’m thrilled with Kate’s word selection this week because I’ve actually been pondering much on {silence} this whole week.  So much have I been challenged by this idea of seeking silence that I committed to obtain 15 minutes of this precious commodity each day for 21 days.

I seem to not be able to do these things alone so I put the challenge out there on my Facebook page – Eyes on Jesus and Shine and I was amazed how many other people wanted to join me in seeking silence before Jesus.  #notalk #noscreens #nodistractions #november

Here’s the scripture verse – familiar to me, probably to you – which Holy Spirit began to open up from a new perspective.  Perhaps the familiarity was my problem.  “Yes, I know that story.  Of course, I’m Mary.  I love to sit quietly at Jesus’ feet – in His word…”

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-41

However, the longer I sat quietly at His feet pondering the truth of God’s word, memories began to play through my mind like an old reel to reel.  I could see myself in the back seat of a car – sitting between Great-grandma Becky and my brother.  My grandfather was driving and Grandma Naomi was sitting in the front passenger seat.

I don’t know where we were going or where we had been, but at some point, Grandpa Floyd grew weary of the backseat chatter.  He declared the start of “the quiet game”.  Oh man, not the quiet game!  The stakes for losing the quiet game?

The loser had to sit in the front seat between the two grandparents!

I being the firstborn, rule follower was trying very hard to be silent.  I wanted to win the game.  I refused to look at my brother who continuously tried to poke and make faces so I would laugh or tell him to stop.  That’s what little brother’s do.silence martha martha

I stared straight ahead.  Eyes locked on the windshield.  And then my sweet precious Great-grandma Becky, in an effort to keep my mouth busy without talking, held out a pack of Wrigley’s spearmint gum.  I was so grateful.  Yes, chew gum – don’t talk!  And then, after taking the stick of gum said, “Thank you!”

I lost…  I cried…  I had to move to the front seat and sit in between my grandparents.

This is all I remember, but somehow Holy Spirit is exposing a lie that when I have difficulty sitting totally still and want to speak out in my quiet time with Jesus, I’m doing it wrong.  Grateful for truth today…  Thankful Jesus delights in me just the way He made me.  Grateful He is healing deep places of my wounded heart to prepare me more and more for the mission He has for me to fulfill on my journey toward HOME.

 

Ponders:

  • Would you like to join me in this challenge to choose silence with Jesus each day?
    • #notalk  #noscreens  #nodistractions  #november
    • It’s not a formula.  It’s not a punishment to sit with Jesus.  There are no losers when we choose to sit quietly with Him.
  • What are your thoughts about sitting silent?  Is it a place where Holy Spirit has permission to expose some lies you’ve been believing without realizing it?
  • Will you journal your experience and talk with Jesus about all He wants to teach you in the silence?
    • What golden nuggets is the Lord giving to you in the silent place?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

Day 30: I yield & You {refine}

Refine: to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities (dictionary.com)

In all this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy  1 Peter 1:6-8 NIVrefine

On this 30th of 31 days of gleaning with Ruth – questioning my way through my own personal famine season, I ponder the word {refine} with a hopeful heart and a refreshed spirit.  Yes, without a doubt, I am – we, my husband and I are – in a season of refinement and it’s a painful process, yet clearly, throughout God’s word, He assures us it is for our good and His glory!

To Peter, Holy Spirit inspired an illustration of refinement by fire, which we can read also in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the Psalms just for starters.  I’m also reminded of the words in Hebrews 12:29, which harken back to Deuteronomy – for our God is a consuming fire.

Those are the illustrations to which I’ve grown accustomed.  They speak mightily to me because of growing up near the Everglades in Florida.  I’m well aware of the devastation a fire will cause over acres upon acres of land, and yet there’s something miraculous that happens as a result of all the extraneous foilage being burned away.  The seeds hidden down under the ground’s surface are broken open by the heat of the fire and soon green shoots of new life spring up out of the ashes.  New life – cleansed and purified.

Through my gleaning up and down and around again through the scriptures in Ruth I’ve been challenged with a different illustration of refinement.  God, by way of His Holy Spirit living in us and teaching us, has the best ideas for expanding our understanding in the various seasons of our lives.  His goodness is evident in that He really wants us to understand we are never alone.  Never will He leave us…never will He forsake us.

refine wheat - square

So, gleanings of refinement from the book of Ruth:

Famine – we begin with a time of trial.  The people of Israel were living out cycles of disobedience, consequences, crying out to God, turning back to Him in repentance and peace.

Similarly, the agriculture, all of God’s creation, experienced cycles of drought, famine, rain, refreshed soil, seed, and harvest.  It’s a natural process because we live in a broken, sin-soaked world.

And so, even though at times we are tempted to believe God is doing something terrible to us and the enemy takes his best shot in our weakness to try to convince us God is not good, we need to go back to what we know is true.

We have to remember the truth of Who God is, and who we are redeemed in Him.  We need to remember the seed of His word sewn deep in the soil of our hearts.  We choose to resist the devil and draw near to God.  We yield our dry hearts to receive His Living water and in time the harvest will come again.

God refines us through the cycles of famine and harvest.

Harvest – this is the time of refreshing, returning for Naomi and adoption for Ruth.  This is the time of plenty.  Food is gathered and shared with the poor, the widows and foreigners inhabiting the land.

And part of the harvesting process is threshing.

to thresh – to separate the grain or seeds from (a cereal plant or the like) as in wheat – to separate the edible part (the grain) from the stalk – as with wheat or barley (dictionary.com)

I’m going to need to chew on these truths awhile longer because I’m fascinated with these few details Holy Spirit is unveiling for me in the idea of threshing coming with the harvest.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Who was responsible for the threshing of the wheat and barley harvest?

The Kinsman Redeemer – Boaz

Why was threshing necessary?

To refine the wheat/barley for making bread with which to feed the people.

In this we are able to see Jesus – our Kinsman-Redeemer – who allowed Himself to be threshed, broken open in our place.  He didn’t need the refining and yet He took it in our place.  Jesus told us – and tells us still through His living and active word – He is the Bread of Life.

Every table is an altar – please enjoy this worship of Jesus, the Bread of Life broken for us that we might be revived and live free – yielded to His refinement.  Receive the Glory Lord.

 

Ponders:

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.  Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Ruth 3:1-2 

Then she told her 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

  • Will you ask Holy Spirit what He wants you to know about your current season of refinement?  Possibly past seasons of refinement are still a mystery and painful.  What healing do You want to bring to us, Jesus?
  • Will you?  And will I yield to our good God and Kinsman Redeemer so He might refine us for our good and His glory?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

~Lisa