What I’m commanding you today is not too hard for you. It isn’t beyond your reach. It isn’t up in heaven. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go up into heaven to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” And it isn’t beyond the ocean. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go across the ocean to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” No, the message isn’t far away at all. In fact, it’s really near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart so that you can obey it.
Today I’m giving you a choice. You can have life and success. Or you can have death and harm. I’m commanding you today to love the Lord your God. I’m commanding you to live exactly as he wants you to live. You must obey his commands, rules and laws. Then you will live. There will be many of you. The Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to take as your own.
Don’t let your hearts turn away from the Lord. Instead, obey him. Don’t let yourselves be drawn away to other gods. And don’t bow down to them and worship them. If you do, I announce to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You are about to go across the Jordan River and take over the land. But you won’t live there very long.
I’m calling for the heavens and the earth to be witnesses against you this very day. I’m offering you the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or curses. But I want you to choose life. Then you and your children will live. And you will love the Lord your God. You will obey him. You will remain true to him. The Lord is your very life.
Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NIrV
The choice is not between a list of do this and don’t do that on one hand and freedom on the other hand. The unbelieving world often sees it that way. The truth is; it is a choice between choosing love (life) on one hand and separation from God (death) on the other hand. God is waiting to shower blessings on you and your family. He is waiting for you to make your choice. Talk to Him – He is listening. Listen to Him – He has much to tell you. The Lord is your very life.
Teen-agers turning to drugs. Single mothers floundering
in depression. High-ranking business men sneaking out for extra-marital
affairs. Lonely people marginalized by society resorting to deadly violence.
We all hurt in one way or another. What is it
that we do with that hurt? How can we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps? Where
do we go for help?
Reach Out to God
God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Christians readily acknowledge this fact. However, we
must come to the realization that God also created all the resources we
need. He also created the principles by which we live – healthy
principles that benefit everyone. He also created purpose for our lives.
God is the source of Everything.
God is the source of healing and help in every day-to-day
situation. He has provided what we need, not only live, but to thrive
throughout our life. When we need to be restored, we must go back to God. He is
the one who created life in the first place and it is only He who can bring
life back into dead circumstances. We cannot do it on our own.
In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to seek first the
kingdom of God, and all the things we need will be given to us.
Reach Out to Others
God has also provided the Body of Christ to lift one
another up, to encourage one another. We need them: a support group, a
Christian counselor, a sincere Bible study group. We need a place where we can
share our deepest needs, fears, and temptations. We need someone to meet with
regularly as well as someone we can call on at a moment’s notice. Ask God to
provide this support for you.
Reach up and reach out. The God of hope will fill you
will all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13
These thoughts come from the wonderful book by Dr.
Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend titled How People Grow, What the Bible
Reveals about Personal Growth.
I have just finished reading John Adams by David McCullough.
What an amazing read!
Though I do enjoy history, I do not care for politics. David
McCullough did a masterful job of weaving Adams’ biography with the detailed
politics of the early United States. It was a compelling narrative that kept me
engaged to the very end.
The author leads us through John Adams’ studies to become a
lawyer, his early law practice, both the Continental Congress sessions, his
time oversees as an ambassador, his vice-presidency, his presidency and his
retirement. Adams’ personal diary and his thousands of letters give us great
insight into not only what he did, but how he thought and how he felt. It was
John Adams was a major player in the building of our
nation. He was incredibly intelligent while still maintaining his personal
integrity. His thorough understanding of world politics, philosophy and human
nature were paramount in his adamant stand for America’s independence and
continued strength. He worked tirelessly to build the ground work for our
“I fear that in every elected office, members will obtain an
influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not
learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There must be decency and
respect.” John Adams
“He who loves the Workman and His work, and does what he can
to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him.” John Adams
“The longer I live,
the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire,
the less I seem to know…. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
Texas. Ohio. Nevada. Florida. Georgia. Colorado. North Carolina. Arkansas. Alabama. Virginia. Connecticut. California. Oklahoma. New York. District of Columbia. Missouri. Maryland. Indiana. Tennessee. Rhode Island. Kentucky. Mississippi. Michigan. Oregon. Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Washington. Louisiana. Michigan. Iowa. South Carolina. New Mexico. Massachusetts. Hawaii. Nebraska. West Virginia. Vermont. Minnesota. New Jersey.
We are a
nation in mourning. The senseless killing continues. We Must do something.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
promise is an If, Then promise. If people do this, Then God will do that. Our
step comes first.
from Wicked Ways
“He has shown you, O man, what is good.
does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
the Bible, Ask God what he wants in your heart and in your life.
Please, Stop and Listen.
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
has been unusually busy, but it has also been extraordinarily rewarding.
Last summer a fledgling library was started in my rural community. We squished a
few donated book shelves into a small store on main street. The store owners
graciously allowed us to use their store, and we began accepting used books of
every kind. This tiny town had never had, in its entire history, a library. The
county library is 30 miles away for some of our residents, not convenient enough
to make use of. Books poured in. Fiction filled half our space, but we also had
sections for history, travel (if outdated tour books of Mexico count), pets,
and of coarse self-help. A few people wandered in occasionally. More books were
sent our way. And more books. And more.
It became obvious
that we needed more space – and more patrons. We launched a community meeting
and began looking at empty spaces around town. In our one traffic light town of
1,200 residents, there were not many options. We quickly ran into the ever-present
wall: no money. The great thing about a small community is that everyone talks
to everyone. News travels faster than a speeding bullet. We simply mentioned to
a few people that we needed non-profit status and to begin fundraising. The
very next day we were told that we had non-profit status under a community services
non-profit in town. Someone had told the president, the president had sent out
an email, all members voted in the affirmative by email, and it was done. They
had become our umbrella.
our eyes and shook our head. “Wait! We aren’t ready.” It doesn’t matter. It was
a done deal. Then the money began pouring in. People would stop by and hand us
$100. “You are doing a great thing here!” they would say. And the books poured
went by in the arduous task of looking for – and agreeing on – the new
location. Though I hated the process of heated debate, the needed evaluation
and discussion were very valuable. It was also a huge turning point for us. We
went from a tiny store corner to our very own building. We also had to look
into the face of a monthly commitment to paying rent and utilities. That was
scary! We are just a tiny group of people in a tiny town. Many times, someone
in the group would say, “We don’t have to move. Let’s stay here. We don’t have
the money.” And it was true, we didn’t have the money. We only had a vision of
what could be.
civic club handed us a check for $5,000. We put on a fundraising dinner and
earned another $1,000. We were off!
was June 1. People came out of the woodwork to pack and move boxes of books.
There we were, standing in a large open room – with only a couple of tiny mismatched
bookcases. Now what were we going to do?
president of the board stepped up and said he would build them. He designed,
built, stained and clear coated each bookcase. We were all amazed! As soon as
he set a finished bookcase in the new library, we would fill it with books.
More books poured in. One trailer brought 30 boxes! We now have over 6,000
linear feet of book shelf space and we are still building.
library is still a work in progress, last Saturday we were overflowing with
visitors. A local celebration brought many people to town, and they all had to
come and see their new library. Little ones found cute board books, pre-teens
found chapter books, grandmothers found new fiction to read and the history
buffs had more than a myriad of titles to choose from. The library’s copier,
computers and internet access now give low income residents a place to connect
with the world for no cost. Anyone can now walk in the door and engage their
love of reading. Where there was once nothing, now there is a warm hub of
friendship that links us with literacy.
And the best part of it all? When we volunteers are long gone, new generations will walk in this door and take a book off the shelf.
How have you invested in your community? What do communities need more of these days?
When God created the world, He did so with Relationship at
its core. Humanity was created in order to be in Relationship with God, and
in Relationship with one another.
If either one of these Relationship Dynamics is off track,
then our emotional, mental and spiritual health is out of balance. We begin to
try to fill the holes with many other things: money, sex, material possessions,
power over others … the list goes on.
If both of these Relationship Dynamics are in good working
order, then we are able to grow into mature Christians, who are in turn able to
give to others who are in need.
Those are the simply basics of how life works.
When God created Adam and Eve, there was perfect union with
both God and with each other. The two people walked with God in the garden,
talking with Him and being open and honest with each other. Genesis 2:25 says, “The
man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is not only
about no clothes. This is two people being completely intimate physically, but
also emotionally. They were in harmony. They were vulnerable with each other,
not hiding anything. They “knew” each other completely. There was no shame.
We were created to be in that kind of Relationship with both
God and others. To be open and honest. To be intimate. To be accepted.
Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in
the world is. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt
Everything in life comes down to these two Relationships.
We must be reconciled to God. We must ask His forgiveness
and we must cultivate a daily relationship with Him.
We must reconnect with others. We must care for each other,
forgive each other, reach out in love and support for each other.
So how do we do this? Jesus gives us this very important directive
in living our lives. “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask
God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that
you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
We know what God wants for us and what we need – Intimate and
We know the first step in getting those Relationships.
Prayer. Talk to God. Admit that you need Relationship and ask Him to help you
That is asking in Jesus’ Name and He will do it.
Is there a Relationship in your life that needs restoring?
Start working on it today.
“Half the people will laugh
at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”
These voices -and many others
just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear
them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.
I am working on a large
project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have
spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings
What exactly am I
Shame? Self-doubt? Fear?
Timidity? Yes, I think so.
Shame = a painful feeling of
humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior
(either real or perceived)
Self-doubt = lack of
confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.
Fear = of disgrace,
embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.
Timidity = a lack of courage
or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.
I push the thoughts back into
the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.
Where do these thoughts come
My mother was very much this
way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father
often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed.
Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.
Yet – I am an adult
now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I
cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.
Insight for Living has a
devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our
With a big, hearty smile,
Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.
Really? What a relief it
Instead of pushing back
those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them
in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.
Yes, it is true. I am not
perfect. Never have been, never will be.
I will do my best. I will
ask for help.
I will take everything to
God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!
Now! Time to get back to
work on this project. It will be great!
A wonderful spring
vacation last year, in May, the prime spring gardening month, led to an
extremely unusual June in the garden. My strawberry patch had produced well the
previous two summers. My husband had built a wire fence arch over the top which
we covered with bird netting. The berries grew red, juicy and plump. Yet two
weeks away from home last spring had put me seriously behind.
evening in early June, I strolled out to wander through the lush garden. I
leaned over to peer closely at the berries, adjusting my glasses a bit.
I picked him
off, throwing him in the grass and twisting him into the ground with the toe of
my garden shoe. I turned over a few strawberry leaves to see if there were more
there. There always are!
I picked and
smushed and picked and smashed. Once I grew weary of this routine, I retreated
to the house, found a small jar lid and pulled an IPA beer out of the fridge.
Back in the garden, I sunk the jar lid into the ground just far enough for the
soil level to lead the vermin straight into the lethal beer. I poured the rich
smelling IPA into the lid, then resumed my slug hunt.
later I looked up from my search under a particularly large strawberry plant
and spotted slugs everywhere, headed straight for the beer “barrel”. Who said
slugs are slow? Not me! They were all making tracks straight for the IPA, more
coming out of the shadows all the time. My stomach sank. This was a true
I gave up
and went inside. I thought I would empty the beer barrel in the morning and
next morning, I tiptoed quietly out to the strawberry bed. The beer barrel was
overflowing with dead, slimy slug bodies. I gave a deep sigh as I knew beyond a
shadow of a doubt that I had not made a dent in the slug population.
evening, I refilled the beer barrel and left the wire fence off of the
strawberries. I just knew the birds would come and eat any slugs that couldn’t
fit in the beer barrel. Smugly, I went off to bed, sleeping well at the thought
of my genius.
The next morning, I rose early and dashed out, expecting to see a clean strawberry bed. The beer barrel was tipped out of the ground and thrown a foot away, half of the strawberry plants had been thrashed, and sliding along through this devastation were countless more slugs.
had drunk the IPA, eaten what strawberries the slugs had missed, and apparently
waved a hearty good-bye to the slugs as they flew off, well satisfied with the
slug IPA I had served up for them.
The evil king of Aram was out to kill
the king of Israel and plunder the countryside. 2 Kings 6 Time and again he
plotted where and when to attack the Israelites. Yet the king of Israel was
warned each and every time and made well his escape. When the evil king was
notified that Elisha the prophet was the source of the military leaks, the king
sent horses and chariots along with a strong army force to get rid of the man
The Arameans surrounded the city where
Elisha and his servant were staying. In the early morning, Elisha’s servant stepped
outside to begin preparations for the day – there was the enemy army! They were
The servant ran back inside and
shouted at his master, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?”
Elisha was not concerned. “Don’t worry
about it,” he told his servant. We have a bigger army than they do. As a
puzzled servant stood there with a muddled look on his face, Elisha prayed. “Open
his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
The servant did not know what was out
there. Even the enemy army did not know what was out there. Yet God had
provided all that was needed – more than what was needed. They just couldn’t
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see. Hebrews
Then the Lord
opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of
horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6
Chris Tomlin wrote a
wonderful song about this “God of angel armies.”
The chorus goes like this:
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
God of angel armies
Is always by my side
Listen to the entire song here:
Angels are real. Angel armies are
real. But most importantly, God is real. Pray and ask Him to open your eyes.