Road Trip: Delivering the News

horse cowboy

If you follow me on social media, you know that with summer and its longer days, the wandering has commenced. My husband and I made our way east via the road less traveled . . . literally. This year, we chose to take The Loneliest Highway across the country to see what we could see. U.S. Route 50 comes by its name honestly. Much of the way, we and the locals were the only ones using it. Cars were few and far between.

That was okay with us. We liked the slower pace it provided. We saw beautiful country. There was also a bit of history to be found. U.S. 50 was built along the Pony Express route. It was fun to imagine the riders as they charged through the wilderness carrying the mail to people who longed for news. Given the short existence of the Pony Express, it had a lasting impact. Today, small towns dot the landscape where there once was only a stop on the trail.

This legacy of the Pony Express made me think of another story I heard from a friend from India. He told me he is only the third generation Christian in his family. It all started when his grandfather, the community’s witch doctor, met Jesus. With news too good to keep to himself, he wanted everyone to know so he took the message on the road, traveling from town to town, delivering the story of Jesus. Today, in each place he stopped there is an active church among its people.

In this busy life with our lives consumed with tasks for today, I wonder how often we think about what will have a lasting impression on our world. Will our actions today bring benefit to others in the future?

There is a story in the Bible about a time when Jesus told his disciples to set sail for a region called Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. There He had an encounter with a demon-possessed man from the town who had lived rough for many years due to his condition. The long and short of the story is that Jesus healed the guy and restored him back into the community. You can read it for yourself in Luke 8:26-39. When Jesus was ready to depart, the man begged to go with him, but Jesus had something better in mind. He urged the man to return home and tell how much God had done. (Luke 8:39)

That is exactly what the man did.

He “went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” I may have chosen to go with Jesus and get a new start for myself, but he was obedient and did as Jesus told him. We do not know if he could have anticipated or even knew later what kind of impact his life had on his community, but we have the full story. This particular miracle of healing was the first in Gentile territory, a region called the Decapolis. Sometime later, Jesus did return and a crowd of 4000 came out to see Him. (The story is found in Matthew 15:29-31 and Mark 8:1-10.) Jesus repeated the miracle of healing, again and again, restoring “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others.” (Matthew 15:30) Did these people come because of the story they had heard about the guy whose life was changed by Jesus? I like to think it was.

So, what impact are we having in the world around us?

Are we like the transformed witch doctor who carried the news of Jesus to other communities, resulting in churches being established? Or maybe like the man from Gerasenes who just shared his story with the neighbors. At the time, I’m sure neither of these men had any idea that their words would bring thousands to the feet of Jesus. The legacy that belongs to them is great, but ours can be too. We must take what we know about Jesus and make it known to the world around us. These men were not great theologians with exemplary training and a huge following. They were just common individuals who took what they had been given—a relationship with Jesus—and told others. It made an impact and continues to do so, especially if we now take their example to heart. How much of the world will be changed simply because we carried the Good News and delivered it? Only time will tell.

Share Jesus.
Change the world.

 


Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
Anne Frank

 

Hey there! Did Ya Miss Me?

Whew! It’s been a while since I have had time to get over here and post. Have you missed me? I have been traveling (That’s what girls on adventure do. Lol!), making a home in Oklahoma, and even doing a little writing. Over the past few weeks, I have been reformatting the Legacy: Living NOW for Future Generations devotional study journal that I co-wrote with some other wonderful teachers. I am extremely proud of the work we have done with the hope it will help many make the most of their personal Bible study time or even use in their small groups. I am excited for you to see its new form. It will be available by the end of June on Amazon. You’ll hear more very soon.

But in the meantime, I hope you will take look at another Bible study I had the joy and privilege to be involved with. Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, Lighthouse Bible Studies, will be available for purchase on Amazon June 21st. You can also find it on the Lighthouse Bible Studies site for pre-order right now.

This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage it. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us the wisdom to handle such real-life issues as unwanted change, grief, loneliness, financial debt, and difficult people. It shares God’s blueprints for a renovated heart by looking at Jesus’ character, godly people in the Bible, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the Beatitudes. It also discusses how to help our children grow in godly character. And if you want to use it in a small group setting there is a leader guide included. You’ll find me in the section about Hidden Problems.

Heart Reno Cover

So, you see things are happening. Just stay tuned, I have some posts coming up. You can also check out my food blog, The Party’s in the Kitchen. Or you can find me at the usual places—Life Letter Café, SoCal Christian Voice, or Broken but Priceless Magazine.  I am also starting work on a cookbook that will be out in October and another devotional study journal for the spring.

Thank you for hanging in there with me. Your presence and support here make it all worthwhile.

 

 

Heart Language

book-1760998_1920

This weekend more than ever I wish I had the language skills to understand Spanish. We were working in a community in Mexico and many times throughout the day I was asked questions that I could not answer. And even when I kind of got what they were saying to me, I lacked the vocabulary to respond in their language. We made it through though. They, with their patience and me, with pantomime and baby-talk. This was not the best-case scenario for building a relationship.

My own relationship with the Bible has had the same moments. The words, even though written in my language, were foreign to my ear. I read and listened, but much of it did not make sense. But over time, I began to catch on to some words and phrases along with the ideas behind them. This didn’t happen overnight. Much like language learning, I had to spend time reading and listening to grasp hold to their meaning.

I have a friend who moved to Germany to become part of the community there and share the story of Jesus with her neighbors. The first thing she had to do was learn the language. She had to immerse herself in the culture and listen to get the grasp of what her neighbors were saying. Little-by-little she became fluent. When I saw her recently, I could tell that English had actually become her secondary language. She now thinks in German, and when speaking to me she had to translate her thoughts back into English. Occasionally, she even started her sentence in German, and then realized it was English I needed. It was quite comical to see her face when she realized her mistake. But what can you expect after being living the language for ten years?

My point, I guess, is even the words of the Bible are a different language to worldly ears. They sound foreign and the ideas seem strange at first, but the more time spent ‘hearing’ them through study, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more they become part of us until we begin to talk and think with them. When God whispers them back to us throughout the day, we don’t have to guess what He is talking about because it has become the language we think in, as well.

Some people call the language they first learned their ‘heart’ language. In the case of my friend in Germany, her ‘heart’ language has changed. She now understands, speaks, and thinks in German. Even though I would love to speak Spanish fluently, I hope my ‘heart’ language will be the one found in the words of the Bible. Those are the words God inspired that will give me everything I need to live this life the way He would like me to. It will take time and diligence, but in the end, it will be worth it.

The good man brings good things out of the good treasury of his heart . . .
Luke 6:45


Hiding God’s word in my heart has developed time. One of the most effective ways I have found is using the SOAK method of study. It helps me to slow down and, you got it, SOAK in the word. Check it out in my post No Connection.

Also, I have co-written a devotional journal that uses the method and can help you get started. To find out how you can get a copy of Legacy: Living NOW for Future Generations, A study in Second Timothy leave your request in the comments.

When Helping Hurts

woman-1006100_1920

What do you do when helping hurts?

I have been faced with that question recently. No matter what I did in the situation, my ‘help’ was just prolonging the hurt. When I considered withholding my help, guilt came, bringing with it a flood of ‘what ifs” to my brain. “What would Jesus do” kept me second guessing my role. I felt helpless going forward and hopeless looking back. There was no consolation, only misery.

Still, what do you do when helping hurts?

In my case, I had to decide to let go of the situation, understanding it probably would grow worse. Heartbreaking when it is a loved one. Not an easy task. I struggled to keep my resolve. Keeping your hands off while keeping your heart engaged isn’t an easy thing to do. I can certainly attest to that, but the thing I had to realize is that God deeply loved this person and had a plan for them.

It’s possible that I was in the way. My helping was keeping their eyes on me and not allowing God to take center stage. This may be where the verse “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬ comes in. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The verse itself has nothing to do with rescue the way we would like it to mean, but rather growing us up through trials. I guess you can look it as strength training. In the case of the situation I was interfering with, my strength was being proven. I was also taking on the other person’s portion of the trial and doing all the heavy lifting, effectively blocking him from growing stronger. In my crusade to help, it was actually doing them a disservice. In the end, they would not be able to stand up against adversity. They simply would not have the muscles to do so.

Romans 5:2 talks about the same thing saying, “we boast in the hope of the glory of God. But not only that, we also glory in our sufferings.” Why? Because they give us a future and a hope. Through our suffering, perseverance is produced. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:4) With hope, we can stand in strength against whatever comes our way. Isn’t this what we want our struggling loved ones to possess?

So, what do we do when helping hurts?
  • Step aside and let them grow strong.
  • Be the one who allows the work to happen in their life.
  • And pray, pray, pray. Everyone needs a cheerleader.‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12


 

Note: There has been no change that I can detect in the situation. God’s timing and a softened heart will need to align with each other. I am always reminded of do not “grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I will continue to pray and offer encouragement where appropriate and watch for God who sees all things and loves all of us deeply to work out the details.

Practicing Small Things

cereal-1444498_1920

I wondered today,
Did I make a difference in the world?
I kissed babies,
Poured Cheerios,
Changed diapers.
But did I do anything that made a difference in the world?
I hugged tightly,
Read words,
Sang silly songs.
I wonder if those are things that can make any difference the world.

What would come from time spent living a simple, quiet life?
Would it pass away unnoticed?
Or return in the lives of those who were kissed, ate Cheerios, or joined in the singing?
Was the world different
By the moments of love,
The small offerings of service,
Or the delight in each other?
I wonder.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . . “
Zechariah 4:10

First Impressions

clotheyourself

“You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it does tell me whether I want to engage it or not,” my sister stated on Facebook the other day. I have no idea what she was referring to, but I have an idea it wasn’t a book. It made me chuckle. I had just had a run in with someone who claimed to be a Jesus follower but from the attitude she was wearing, I wasn’t so sure.

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14

What does it mean to be to be clothed in Christ?

This may be where people find difficulty. Do we know what Jesus looks like? We use a lot of statements about what the Bible says, but how often do we think about how Jesus interacted with the world around Him? When was the last time you investigated the Scriptures to see how Jesus did things? I must admit I spend more time in the instruction found in the letters of the New Testament texts than in the actual stories of Jesus showing us how it’s done. How about you?

To know what it means to clothe yourself with Christ, you will first need to know what He looks like. Let’s take a peek. Our very first glimpse of Jesus acting on His own sets the stage for the rest of us. Start here by reading the story in Luke 2:41-52. I’ll wait.

Seek

In this tiny bit of Scripture, we get to see a snippet of His childhood. Right from the beginning, Jesus is demonstrating to us the importance of seeking God. Here we find Him in the temple courts. Jesus went to the place where He was sure to find what He was looking for. I know, I know, you’re right when you point out that Jesus was always in God’s presence since He was God. But He was also a man, living a man’s life. If we look at His life lived here on earth, we can learn how to live ours better. In this case, He shows seeking is good but there’s more. Jesus also submitted His life to God, His Father. His first recorded words reveal His heart in this when He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business.” Luke 2:49 KJV

Learn

Along with seeking and submitting, Jesus was also listening and asking questions. In my last post How’s Your Spiritual Life Going, we investigated the importance of taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His teaching. Jesus goes a step farther here and shows us to ask questions as we search for wisdom. There is a young woman in my Bible study group who is always full of questions. I love this girl and her bravery to investigate what she does not know. As a new Christian, there is much for her to discover in God’s word. Let’s face it, there’s much for all of us to discover no matter how well versed we think we are. When we stop asking the questions, we will also stop growing. Questioning is a sign of the desire to move forward and grow.

Obey

Finally, Jesus shows us the importance of obedience. This story ends with Jesus living in obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is key to living a life that wins God’s approval and is attractive to those around us. Proverbs 3 puts it like this—“My son, do not forget my teaching but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV

Do you see something familiar here?

The passage in Luke ends with these very words. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV It all came from seeking God out, learning all He could from Him, and living according to His ways.

In a sense, this story begins with the submission of the heart and ends with the practicing of submission in life. If we follow Jesus’s lead, our outside will tell the world exactly what’s on inside. To look like Jesus, we can’t just believe in Him. We must do what He did. The result will be a beauty the world will want to engage.

Those who say they live their lives in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6 NLT


What is your favorite story about Jesus? What do you learn from His example that can become a part of how you live?

 

 

How’s Your Spiritual Life Going?

 

measurement-krawiecka-3176118_1920

Argh!

Once again, I was ripping out all the stitches on my sweater project. My work was all wrong according to the gauge, and when that happens— well let’s just say—things don’t turn out like they are supposed to. In my case, if I kept going, I would end up with something that wouldn’t fit. My only solution was to admit my mistake and start again, this time using the right gauge.

Gauge: something that could be used to measure or judge something else

Have you ever been working hard at life and found that you used the wrong gauge to measure how you were doing? I know I have. I have been caught up in tasks and feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do.

We live in an accomplishment driven world. When asked about who we are, we often answer with what we do—a parent, a teacher, an entrepreneur, an artist, etc. When asked about how we’ve been, the word ‘busy’ is on our lips. Sound familiar?

So, how is your spiritual life going?

You know, the one you share with God. Do you answer with who you are in ministry or what you are doing to serve? There again, we like titles and accomplishments. They’re tangible. When was the last time you answered that question with, “I have been spending a good deal of time sitting at the feet of Jesus?” Perhaps never.

Perhaps a new gauge is in order.

There is a story in the Bible about a gal named Martha. Maybe you have heard of her. Check out her story here. She was a close friend of Jesus, providing hospitality to Him and His entourage when they came to town. Martha was good at what she did, and she filled a role that was needed. You might even say it was her calling.

There did come a day when she was a bit overwhelmed with the preparations for an event that was happening. I can identify. Just before everything comes together, there seems to be a moment when it feels like it’s just too much. Do you know what I’m talking about? Martha’s solution was to demand that Jesus do something.

Here’s Jesus’s answer, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Luke 10:41 NI

I’m sure Martha is thinking, “Yes, and what is needed is for someone to help me!” But that is not what Jesus was referring to. That one thing she needed was to spend time with the Guest of Honor. She, like many of us who have gotten busy doing many good things, had forgotten Who the party was for. Have you been there?

How IS your spiritual life going?

As you think about your answer, consider what you are using to measure it with. The best gauge to set your life to has nothing to do with accomplishments, status, or giftedness. That’s the world’s appraisal of success, and boy, do they ever keep us distracted. Jesus says time spent with Him is BETTER than anything.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to start fresh, using a new gauge to measure what’s important. The thing is, when we get that in order, we feel less overwhelmed because we have invested in something better—time spent with Jesus. With our spiritual lives intact, life seems to fit better. It’s worth the time to make it right.

If you’re wondering where to start, reading the Bible stories of Jesus found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is a good place. Then, if you want to go deeper, my last post No Connection contains a method of Bible study that I have found very effective. It is my prayer that you make space to meet with Jesus regularly. There’s nothing better than sitting at His feet.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17