Posts by Patty Schell

Christmas Cross

christmas-tree-230269_1920

As we pulled into a small village on the Baja peninsula in Mexico, there was a car coming in the opposite direction with a lop-sided cross mounted to its roof. I thought it a bit odd, but I have seen stranger things tied to cars south of the border. As we pulled past I could see that the cross was actually the wooden base nailed to the bottom of the Christmas tree.

I was struck with the juxtaposition of these two items—the tree and the cross. Both were symbols of peace and goodwill. One represented the season when God made His way to earth to dwell among men. The other, God making a way for man to reach heaven to dwell with Him.

I love when God uses seemly obscure moments of life to bring His story of hope to mind. It was but a brief sighting of something so ordinary, but the message behind it will last an eternity. I pray as we enter into the festivities of the Christmas season, we will keep the entire of the story in mind.

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NET

Can I Get a Witness?

https://pattyschell.com/2017/11/08/can-i-get-a-witness/
“I can’t do that.”

This statement is one often heard when people are called upon to share their testimony with others, followed by, “Evangelism is not my gifting. Someone else would be much better at it. I wouldn’t know what to say. Just let me serve behind the scenes.”

They talk themselves out of it with thoughts of what could I say that could possibly attract my friend who needs Jesus? And what if I mess it up? Fear of failure creeps in, clamping their mouth shut, waiting for a better moment. And all-the-while, they secretly pray for someone else ‘more qualified’ to step in.

It may be the word testify that causes people to tremble. It feels so very formal, but in reality, it’s just speaking from your personal knowledge. It is your story to tell, your life experience to share. If you have encountered Jesus and He has changed your life, that is Good News, something worth telling everybody.

But still, how do you organize your thoughts. I’m going to suggest that it can be as easy as ABC.

At the church I attend, the weekend service always includes an invitation to say the ABCs. Admit you are a sinner, believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins, and choose to following Jesus. It’s a great outline that can also be used to break down your testimony . . . er . . . I mean, your story of how God changed your life.

Let me show you.

Admit

What brought you to the point of admitting you needed Jesus?

For me, it was a constant parade of people marching through my life making it easy for me to hear the good news and respond to it. I was a little girl who by the good graces of others went to church. My parents didn’t attend, but my siblings and I were often invited to join friends or relatives at their weekend services. It was on one of those times I met my husband, Paul. He was an all-around good guy and his influence in my life made me want to know Jesus.

Eventually, I decided to ask Jesus into my heart. Acknowledging that I had rejected God was an important part. I had always thought I was rejected because of my sin when that wasn’t the case at all. Jesus was waiting for me to realize He had a plan all worked out, one that brought forgiveness and restoration and the assurance that I was accepted. My part was to place my life into His hands.

Believe

How did you give your life to Jesus?

Belief for me was easy in thought but much harder in action. I had to grow into it. I switched alliances from myself to God and back again over and over. I wanted control. I would fail on my own and turn to God. He would put me on the right track. Each time, my rebellion was shorter. It seemed I was catching on to the idea that God’s plan was best when it came to how to live life. Over time, I got to know how faithful God is. No scolding or shame ever came from Him, only love, as He gently taught and corrected me in His ways. It was a process, but I now know Jesus has always had the very best in mind for me.

Choose

What has changed since you have chosen to follow Jesus?

‘Choose to follow’ is the ongoing story of Jesus in my life. It is one that will play on into eternity. Significant change had to happen on my end including: getting acquainted with God through His word, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit, and accepting the call to follow Jesus wherever He leads. What does that look like in my everyday activities?

A better me.

Everything I do is focused on loving God and striving to live life according to His standards. Not only do I benefit when I choose this way of life, so do those around me. Walking with Jesus changes how I see things, how I respond to tough situations, how I speak, and how I love. I want to do things His way. My hope is that the world around me will be changed for the good as I follow Him.

So, here’s the thing. The good news about God’s faithfulness to everyone cannot get out there unless we speak up through our words and actions. How else will they know if we don’t tell them? Whose life will your story of God’s faithfulness change? What person will meet Jesus because you invited them to come along to church? You won’t know until you try. It’s worth the risk. I’m living proof. My life was changed through many people being faithful to their calling.

Put your story of faith to work.

The ABCs—admit, believe, choose—is a good place to start.

Write it down.

And . . .

be ready to change the world.

 

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:14-15

Gazing with Wonder

https://pattyschell.com/2017/10/19/gazing-with-wonder/

“Beautiful!”

Over and over, my husband and I both used this word as we traveled around the countryside this past summer. We saw mountains to deserts, farmland to forests, and everything in between. But the most impressive sights perhaps were rocky cliffs where colorful bands of stone had been revealed through fractures deep under the surface of the earth.

One such place we visited was Capital Reef, a national park in Utah. This was one of those lucky discoveries. We had not planned to stop in the area but with all campgrounds full of the more popular destinations for the holiday weekend, we took what we could find. We were very happy with the outcome.

Capital Reef has what they refer to as a wrinkle in the earth’s crust. Ha! Wrinkle, indeed. This uplifted landmass soars 7000 feet into the air. An ancient fault beneath the earth’s surface that caused the ground to be thrust upward is the most likely explanation for its creation. Whatever the reason, when we gazed at the outcome, we remarked on its beauty.

God Sighting

Most people, including myself, tend to want their lives to resemble gentle-rolling, grass-covered hills rather than exposed rocky outcrops. We prefer to keep anything negative hidden deep under the surface. Nobody wants their faults on display, but often times, it is God’s work through those faults that bring the most beauty to our lives.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

This verse found in Second Corinthians is a reference to the beginning of time when God created the world. In Genesis 1:3, a world that was formless, dark, and void began a process of change when God brought light to the situation. The focus wasn’t the dark, formless, empty earth, it is what God created out of it that gets our attention.

Even though there were places where the actual fault could be seen, it was not what drew your eye. It was the beauty of the layers of exposed rock that displayed their history in vibrant bands of color. The same can be found in our lives. Rather than our weaknesses, it will be God’s extraordinary work in us that is seen.

For instance, check out what Second Corinthians 4:7-12 has to say about it.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Not crushed even when hard pressed, not in despair even when perplexed, not abandoned even when persecuted, and not destroyed even when struck down—These show the layers of God’s faithful work in our lives. Where we saw weakness and failure, God’s light reveals something completely the opposite that draws people’s attention. It’s our transformation into the likeness of His Son, Jesus, that is revealed. His strength and majesty on display in our lives will bring hope and life to others. And to this, we must gaze in wonder and remark— “Beautiful!”

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:15

 

 

Generously Sow

https://pattyschell.com/2017/09/30/generously-sow-2/
I fed a homeless guy last night. His name was Edward.

It isn’t unusual for me to feed someone I see that might be hungry. Maybe it’s because my mamma taught me it was impolite to eat in front of others, though I don’t really know if that applied in this situation, since Edward was sitting alone on the dirty curb, and I would eat my meal at a nice clean table surrounded by a large group of people who were laughing and chatting with each other. It doesn’t really matter, but I think the reason I fed him was because God placed him in my path to feed and so I did.

A passage found at the end of Deuteronomy 24 talks about making provision for the foreigner, fatherless, and the widow from the excess we find in our own “fields”. It is just one passage out of nearly 100 found in the Bible that address our responsibility toward caring for the poor. One thing I would also like to point out, it doesn’t say those who are rich be generous. It makes a statement to us all no matter where we find ourselves economically. If you have a “field” big or small God’s talking to you.

I have found that the most generous people are actually the ones who can afford it least. I’ve seen those who had very little of their own divide and share what they had with someone else in need. A few years ago, I worked with a small church in one of the poorest areas near my home. We ran a midweek children’s service with singing, games, and stories. At the end of the evening, we fed the children supper along with some home baked cookies. Every single time they would ask if there was enough to take home. Some refused to eat what we offered so they could carry it to a mom or dad, grandparent or sibling who was not in attendance. I can just see them running into their houses making their little offering to whoever was there, becoming givers themselves.

Giving is a simple matter really,

but it’s no small thing. Even though each of us may only have the capacity to make a momentary difference in the life of one, man, woman or child—it is still worth the effort. It adds up. Most of us have more to offer than we think. A hamburger, a smile, a dollar or two, a moment of your time to give recognition. God has placed what others need in our “field” so we get to be generous and practice love. It grows us up a little more into the image of His Son who gave everything.

The feeling you get when you follow through with God’s will in your life is exhilarating and makes you want to do more, give more, love more. I can’t describe it. You just have to experience it for yourself. And in case you didn’t realize, caring for the poor is God’s will for everyone–you, me, everyone. Remember he says it nearly 100 times.

After my encounter with Edward, I thought about him all the way home and prayed for his life. Would he always be homeless? Would he someday have a wife? Children? He was a very young man. Where was his family? His parents? His siblings? Would he make it through the cold night? Would he know Jesus just a little more because someone fed him a hamburger and asked him his name? Only God knew the answers. What I do know for sure, that night, Edward’s name was in God’s ears and on His mind.

. . . whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6

Things You Learn While Wandering

girlonadventure.com

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Gandalf


It’s amazing what you can learn while traveling down the road.

Yes, you will view beautiful scenery and meet interesting people, but one thing I love the most is when my husband discloses something I did not know before. It seems that discovering new places and people have an added effect. It also brings on the recollection of adventures from the past

We have been married for going on forty-five years, and the chance of uncovering something new would seem very slim I suppose. Add our long history together with a man who is reserved with his words, and the odds of learning something new just aren’t good. But the exact opposite has happened. I have learned some details about his life that were previously unknown to me.

During a trip to Big Sur, Paul told me about camping there as a boy. He was friends with the neighbor’s son and they had invited him. He had spent a lot of time with the family at their farm on the central coast of California, helping to pick the crops they raised. Another place reminded him of the time his dad took him to see a car race. Then on a recent road trip through Iowa, he talked of the time he visited his uncle’s farm and he was given permission to ring the dinner bell to let them know it was meal time. He was good at it, except when he rang it at the wrong time. He smiled as he told of the big ruckus he had caused and how much trouble he had been in from his ‘innocent’ mistake.

These tiny glimpses into my husband’s boyhood made me love him even more. I could picture a small bit of this little boy who grew up to be the man I know. It’s a treasure to peek into a time that was previously a mystery to me.

God Sighting

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

 When Jesus was giving His last instructions to the disciples, they were disheartened. What would they do without Him? Who would be their Teacher? Jesus told them not to worry. Good things were coming. Then He tells them of someone who would come and be with them forever—the Spirit of Truth

This Advocate or Holy Spirit, as Jesus calls Him, whom God will send “will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He says it again in John 16:12-13 “I have so much more to tell you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

I am so glad that we, too, are recipients of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13) We will know Him, for he lives with us and will be in us. (John 14:17) It is He who is constantly pointing out new things to me as we travel through the Scriptures. He also reminds me of things I already know in the moment I need them. Whether to apply to my life or to lend to someone else, He whispers, “Remember that verse or story we saw in the Bible? That applies here in this situation, too.

But the best thing about having the Holy Spirit is the constant glimpses of God along the way. The little mysteries He uncovers for me to draw my heart closer and give me a better understanding of the God who has allowed me to walk through life with Him. I cannot be silent about what I discover along the way. I write in the hope that others will embrace this journey with God for themselves. They will never regret what they discover when they go a-wandering with the Holy Spirit


Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

 

All Washed Up

girlonadventure.com

When we pulled into the truck wash, a group of tattooed, bandana toting, life-lived-hard men descended on our truck and travel trailer. Brushes in hand, they worked vigorously, scrubbing every inch of its surface. Water sprayed, soapy bubbles cleaned, and the mud ran off. They made quick work of the dirty job.

It’s good to start out clean, don’t ya think? We are off on an adventure of uncharted waters. Newly retired, my husband and I are going to start with a bit of wandering across the countryside seeing things we have never seen. Perhaps it’s a bit symbolic to start this new phase of our lives clean, shedding of the layers of the old life’s demands that don’t belong on this journey.

This reminds of another fresh start,

a new beginning that would change my life forever. I decided to ask Jesus to save me from my sin. My initial decision, if the truth be known, was made because I recognized if hell was real, I didn’t want to go there. It was a start that allowed me to travel into a new life that would take me places I never imagined.

One thing that is not lost on me is the fact that there were a bunch of people in my life with scrub brushes in their hands. I know that it is Jesus who provided the forgiveness of my sins by His death and resurrection, but there were many who prayed, encouraged, and taught me along the way. They had hard-life experience and knew how to lead a wayward, teenaged girl to Jesus. I thank God that they did.

There is a story in the Bible in Mark 2 . . .

about some friends who would not let their friend go on with his usual life. You see, he was paralyzed and unable to do anything different than live his paralyzed life. The friends were not having it. They knew he needed healing, so they loaded him up on a stretcher and delivered him to Jesus. It was no easy task. Before the night was over, the man’s faithful friends would need to claw their way through a roof to get him face-to-face with Jesus. I imagine their bloody hands and knees were forgotten when their friend was forgiven and healed. It had all been worth the effort.

This story is one I learned in Sunday School as a kid. I have always pictured four friends carrying their buddy off to see Jesus, but the text actually says, “Some men came, bringing to him (Jesus) a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.” This was a lucky man to have friends that cared so much.

If you have been following me on Facebook or Twitter,

you have seen that I have been encouraging people to do something meaningful to change the world. This falls into that category. When was the last time you prayed for a friend to find Jesus? Most of us have a list of those who we know that need to have a face-to-face with Jesus but they are paralyzed and can’t get to Him. Are you willing to risk some bloody hands and knees to change their lives? It was because of the friends’ faith the man was forgiven and ultimately healed. Don’t waste any more time. Get the stretcher and haul your friends to Jesus.

“Some men came, bringing to him (Jesus) a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”

Mark 2:3-5 NIV


Who do you know of that took the time to bring you to Jesus?

I have a list of the ones I suspect were instrumental in getting me into Jesus’ presence. I have been thanking them when I can for their faithfulness to changing the world for this once rebellious and unruly teenager. If anyone needed a good scrubbing, I did.

Check out this post about the benefits of showing gratitude—Navigating Customs: Give Thanks

 


 

“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV

A Snarled Life

girlonadventure.com

Screaming erupted,

accompanying the morning’s hair brushing session. Neglected only one day, my granddaughter’s long blond hair had turned into a tangled mess. We thought it would be okay to ignore our normal routine. We were just hanging out at home. It wasn’t like anyone would be seeing us. No big deal to let her hair go unbrushed. No big deal, that is, until it was. Now pain and tears were involved in the whole process of combing out the snarls.

How quickly life can end up the same way.

Our days seem smooth and easy. So much so, we begin to neglect simple ‘grooming’. We forget to pray; we put off looking into God’s Word; a day or two won’t really matter much. Before we know it, quite a few days have passed without God’s input. Without it, life begins to get tangled and snarled. To make it smooth again, whole lot of ‘brushing’ will need to happen. It’s a good thing the One doing the combing has a gentle touch.

As I consider this whole picture, I am reminded that it takes some time to work the tangles out of my granddaughter’s hair. There are some unpleasant moments, to be sure, but there also is quite a bit of time spent talking as we work on the tangles. Moments of I remember when are shared. A closeness is created through the process, and trust is developed. Before we realize it, beauty emerges from where the tangles once were.

Are you leading a snarled life?

I have been there. Yes, I believe it might have involved some screaming and tears, but God eventually smoothed out the tangles. One thing I know—I never want to go there again. To avoid the snarls, constant maintenance is required. I can’t allow much time to pass before I am in the Word and praying for guidance. Without it, I just feel unkept and disheveled, unable to function, and certainly not looking my best.

If you are unsure of where to start, begin with prayer. It is true, confession is good for the soul. A simple, “Hello, God, it’s me,” will get the process started. You’ll know what to say from there.

The practice of meeting with God . . .

on a regular basis to pray and study His Word takes time to develop. Once it is a habit, you will wonder why you ever neglected it. Peace is one bonus to regular ‘grooming’ your life with the Word. And that is a beautiful thing.

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11