The Choice

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.

Becoming Minimalist

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/

I stumbled across this website the other day and was ecstatic to find so many kindred spirits. I have been thinking and living this way for many years. It is who I am. Yet I have difficulty finding others who are like minded. I sit in a group of ladies at the coffee shop and the topic invariably turns to the latest clothes and shoes they all bought. I sit silent.

I chat with a group of parents at the local high school basketball game. They begin to talk about the latest car or boat they bought. I sit silent.

Have we as a nation given our decision-making ability over to those in marketing? They write snazzy advertisements and produce enticing commercials—we fall all over ourselves to hand over our hard-earned money and fill our houses, and basements, and garages, and rented storage units with stuff we do not need and mostly will not use.

“The culture-driven inclination to find happiness in our possessions is rarely thwarted in any way through the process.”

Joshua Becker

Stuff does not give true happiness. It is a lie. Don’t believe it.

Joshua Becker is right. We must evaluate our lives. Who am I? Where is my life going? What will I leave behind when I am gone? Love or stuff?

I am noticing that my tone is a bit harsh. I apologize and I wonder why…? I think it is because so many people in the world, in our neighborhoods, do not have a real friend. They are starving for love. No one has the time to spend with them, listening and loving them. Instead America is busy with T.V., phones, social media, shopping.

Okay, let me return to my topic sentence. I am ecstatic to find so many kindred spirits! Check out this blog. I see that he has a following of over 190,000. That gives me hope. So, jump on the band wagon and throw overboard the latest doo-dads and gizmos.

The research is confirming our observation: we own too much stuff. And it is robbing us of life.

Joshua Becker

For eye-opening stats, read this blog post with careful attention. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/clutter-stats/

Today I am filling a box with stuff to go to my local thrift shop this week. What are you doing in your life this week to de-clutter and de-own? Share your story to encourage others.

Satisfying the Soul

 

 

nature red forest leaves

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Billy Graham published a daily devotional titled Hope for Each Day, Words of Wisdom and Faith. My husband and I have been reading it together this year, usually at breakfast. November 5 was a particularly powerful entry that I wanted to share with you. 

November 5, Satisfying the Soul

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35

The Bible teaches that a person is more than just a body–each of us is actually a living soul! Our souls are created in the image of God. God Himself has implanted His own nature within us!

Just as our bodies have certain characteristics and appetites, so do our souls. The characteristics of the soul include intelligence, emotions, and will. The human soul or spirit longs for peace, contentment, and happiness. Most of all, the soul has an appetite for God–a yearning to be reconciled to its Creator and to have fellowship with Him forever.

In our world, we give most of our attention to satisfying the appetites of the body and practically none to the soul. Consequently we are one-sided. We become fat physically and materially, while spiritually we are lean, weak, and anemic.

The soul actually demands as much attention as the body. It demands fellowship and communion with God. It demands worship, quietness, and meditation. Nothing but God ever completely satisfies, because the soul was made for God. Don’t starve your soul.

HOPE FOR TODAY  When was the last time you intentionally denied yourself food, drink, or rest? Be sure to tend to your soul’s needs just as attentively.

(Billy Graham)

To satisfy my soul I read scripture daily and spend time telling God about my day, my thoughts and my relationships. I try to remember to ask Him often what He would have me do. Sometimes a few days will slip by in which I haven’t connected with Him. I get too busy to stop and read, or other people take my whole day and I fall into bed exhausted without even speaking to God. Then my soul gets hungry.

What do you do that feeds your soul?

All the Light We Cannot See

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All the Light We Cannot See    by Anthony Doerr

One of the very best books I have ever read!

The story is epic, an honorable tribute to those who refuse to not love.

The writing, down to the last detail, is masterful.

The characters are real. They are my neighbors, they are me.

Marie-Laure and Werner are now my good friends. And Papa. And Jutta. And Etienne.

Thank you for coming into my life.

Thank you, Mr. Doerr.

(I just recently discovered Mr. Doerr’s writing. If you have read this book, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought.)

nanowrimo

nanowrimo

https://nanowrimo.org/

Nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month

 

OK! I’m going to do it!

The first time I heard about nanowrimo, I thought someone would have to be crazy to do that. Now, here I am, almost a year later, trying to convince my friends in my writing group to do it with me.

They think I am crazy.

Nanowrimo is the National Novel Writing Month in which we attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. We enter our daily total number of words and watch the number climb.

Last year I wrote my first story. It is a children’s story about a boy growing up on a homestead in the Bozeman, Montana area. He meets an unusual neighbor who begins to mentor him in his relationship with God. The boy starts to really ask some important questions. Then difficult things in life begin happening – don’t the always? This boy begins to pray and watches as God does some amazing things in his life.

My first draft is finished, but I have learned so much about writing since I started it a year and a half ago that I really need to go back and smooth it out. Then I hope to find a publisher.

I have started a second story: this one a mystery set in 1916 Glacier Park. I will do my best to give all the clues to the reader yet see if I can hide the answer from them until the very end. I will definitely have to use my friends as guinea pigs before I look for a publisher.

So now, nanowrimo.org.

I have pledged to start a brand-new novel on November 1st and have all 50,000 words written before the last minute of November melts into December 1st.

Yes, I am a bit nervous. Writing just for word count is not how I usually write. I think that ideas are more important than lots and lots of words. I am much more succinct than most people I know. This will be a new experience and a challenging time for growth.

This new story is based on Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18. A young woman living in Germany makes her way to America, intending to find work and send money home to her parents. She arrives penniless and is sold into indentured servitude.

Check out nanowrimo.com and see if you are up for the challenge.

Anyone else out there writing stories? Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

Desiring God

Several months ago, I stumbled across an amazing website: desiringgod.org.

Daily articles are written by solid, mature and wise Christians. The articles range from practical everyday topics to deep devotionals that touch our hearts. Some examples of recent articles are:

Oct. 4 – Do You Pray Against Temptation?

Oct. 3 – The Most Repeated Verse in the Bible

Oct. 2 – What Will Make Our Children Happy?

Oct. 1 – What Does Prophecy Look Like Today?

Dec. 21, 2016 – What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas (Okay, so it’s not recent but you must agree, it is essential.)

Besides articles desiringgod.org has a myriad of resources for everyone, from the business person to the stay-at-home parent, from students to ministry leaders. In their own words, here is their mission:

Most people in the world have no experience of deep and abiding joy.

Even though it is something we all desperately long for, the assurance that true happiness can be known — fully and forever — is a hope that billions of people live every day without. This is a tragedy.

Desiring God is on a mission to change that.

We aim to help people everywhere embrace a profound truth that changes everything about life and eternity:

You were created for something greater than yourself. You were formed for something awesome and magnificent.

You were made to know glory — God’s glory. And the deepest longings of the human heart can be fully satisfied by pursuing that glory. In fact, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Thank you to all the staff who put so much time and work into encouraging us in our daily walk!

What is your favorite Christian website?

 

close up of tree against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Friended Me

This new CBS television series premiered last week.  When I first saw the title that old groan ran through me. Hollywood takes a vital subject like God and usually makes a royal mess of it. They either mock God and the Christian faith or belittle the morals that He teaches us.

My groans echoed through the house, but I turned the T.V. on anyway. If it was to be a slam on the Christian faith, at least I would be able to rebut it with my friends and family. Maybe the show would have some redeeming value.

I was very pleasantly surprised! The characters are genuinely trying to help others in need. They are cute and perky, giving great energy to the story. The writing kept the pace moving quickly without resorting to sexual comments or over the top explosions every thirty seconds. The story gave us some delightful twists and turns, yet also told stories that happen to real people. We all have broken relationships that need mending. We all need encouragement when we are down.

The story also does a great job of asking the important questions about God. Is He there? How do I know? Why did my mom die so tragically? What does God want from me? God does not want us to blindly accept someone else’s faith as our own. He wants us to search for Him. He wants us to ask the hard questions. Talk to Him. Read the Bible for yourself. Ask Him to show Himself. He loves you more than you can imagine!

A huge “Thank You!” goes out to CBS for creating a show that uplifts and entertains at the same time.

Going to Egypt

Jeremiah 39 – 43

Locked in chains, he was pulled along with the other prisoners. They were filthy and starving. The smell alone was enough to make him wretch. They stumbled down the broken streets. Jerusalem, his home, had just fallen to the Babylonians. It was 586 BC and the prophesied fall of Judah had finally come. Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

The captain of the guard rode his horse up and down the columns of captives being marched to Babylon. He shouted orders to his guards, first in one direction, then in another. His eyes fell on Jeremiah the prophet. “This is all God’s work.” He told Jeremiah. “The disobedience of your people has brought the justice of God. But today I will free you from the chains on your wrists. You may choose anywhere to live. Don’t worry, you will be taken care of wherever you decide to go.”

Jeremiah, along with the others who had been left behind, settled under the newly appointed governor, Gedaliah (GEH-dah-li-uh). He promised peace and security. The few remaining people moved into the empty towns. They worked the vineyards and the orchards. The wine and fruit they harvested overflowed.

A top officer for the deposed king, Ishmael had eluded the Babylonian army.  He returned to meet with the new governor, to talk of the country and the people, to share a meal. Between the second and third courses Ishmael and his men rose, drew their swords and struck down Gedaliah.

News of the murder spread like wildfire. The people could talk of nothing else. “Why did he do it? Surely the Babylonians will make us pay! They will come and burn the fields and vineyards. They will carry us off to exile along with the others! We should run away. Quick, we can get half way to Egypt before they get here.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Ask Jeremiah the Prophet what we should do!”

They went as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“Please, Jeremiah. Pray that God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. We will do everything God says. Whether we like it or not, we promise to obey.”

Jeremiah locked himself into his prayer closet, fasting and praying.

One day. Two days. Three days…Ten days. Then Jeremiah heard from God.

He spoke to them as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“This is what God says to you. ‘If you stay, I will bless you greatly, your enemy will have compassion on you. If you disobey and run off to Egypt, your enemy will overtake you and you will never see your land again. Do not go to Egypt.’”

The arrogant men stepped forward. “Jeremiah, you are lying! This is a trick. We are going to Egypt.”

 

How often do we pray for God’s will and direction in our lives? How often do we rationalize away our obedience? God’s judgement came on Judah because of their disobedience and when the people ran away to Egypt they took their disobedience with them. God promised them that if they went to Egypt, they would never see their homeland again. The Babylonians did indeed invade Egypt in 568-567 BC.

Lesson From Jeremiah

  1. Commit time to prayer. Jeremiah did not hear instantly from God. He spent days praying and listening. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. Never stop praying. Luke 18:1-8
  2. Listen for God’s voice. Prayer is conversation. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we listen. Still your busy thoughts and turn your attention to God, wait expectantly for His answer. Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:1
  3. Obey. Instead of looking at your own circumstances, worried and fretting, take God’s hand and walk in obedience. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. John 14:23

 

Bullets of Satan

Why is it that accusatory thoughts repeatedly float through my mind?

Laying in bed in the early morning, just waking up, the room gradually growing light. The thoughts begin their work.

Remember when the kids were small, how you over punished them that one day? That was terrible. You were a terrible mother.

            Remember when you were in college, there was that one study group with that girl you didn’t like? You sure told her off, that was so unchristian like. She will always remember you as the mean one.

Remember how you were so demanding of your ex-husband? No wonder he couldn’t put up with you. You ruined that marriage.

If I let myself begin my day after this barrage, I find that I take out my hurt feelings on my family and friends. Yes, I have made mistakes in my life, I do have regrets. But no, I was not a terrible mother, I did not ruin my marriage. Those are lies that Satan builds out of our humanness. Those bullets of Satan change me into a demanding and unforgiving person.

When I refuse to accept those lies, turn to Scripture and ask for God’s help—everything changes. Christ fills me with a love for others, and myself. I turn my thoughts to the new creation that God has made in me.

Remember last week when you gave groceries to that single mother and her kids? You were a godly friend.

Remember the forgiveness you have received through Christ and in turn forgave that harsh word that flew out of your friend’s mouth.

Remember when you taught Sunday School and the kids were amazed at the story of Gideon? You passed on the Word and the Love.

Laying in bed at night, just before I fall asleep, the bullets of Satan also begin their work. No! I refuse to listen. And you can too.

I pull out my Bible and read. Satan’s bullets disappear.

Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

Friends and Magic

I was thinking today about some people in my life that are a gift to me.

An intelligent, spunky child of 6 years old with an insight to the world far beyond her years: as I share reading skills with her, she shares her joy and magic with me. A day does not go by in which she does not make me laugh.

Last time her mother paid me for tutoring her in reading, she stopped and stared at me. “Why do you get money?” she demanded to know. My reply was, “Because I work very hard.” She did not miss a single beat but quickly responded, “I’m the one who does all the work!”

Her joy makes my heart sing!

A co-worker. We unexpectedly became fast friends. They have a gentle, calm way of  being upfront and honest about things. It feels wonderful and freeing to think about and discuss ideas together without worrying about being accepted or someone’s agenda. They are also a wonderful listener. To just be and share. And to be heard – those are true gifts!

It seems that most people work at keeping a hierarchy among everyone they know. They try so hard to put themselves at the top. They tell downgrading stories behind the backs of others. “Do you know what she did?…” “He never gets it right!…”

What are they looking for? Acceptance? Recognition? I’m not sure but it seems to me that they never truly get what they want. They never seem content. The bickering goes on and on.

Me too?

When my friend listens to me, they listen with their eyes and ears and understanding. I feel greatly accepted and recognized. What would the world be like if we were all like my friend?

I am grateful to these two individuals for what they have added to my life. I would like to find ways to thank them.

Do you have people like this in your life?

Are you a gift to someone? Strive to be a gift today.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenThe Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey