Forward Friday: From Rascal to Regardful.

When I was seventeen, I was a brat. There. I said it. My deepest, darkest secret. Okay, it’s not. But it is true. Most seventeen year olds are brats. They have it all figured out. Know everything. Hey, if you weren’t, I said most not all. 

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Joseph. He’s great to study for character growth (writers, did you hear that?). At seventeen he’s a spoiled brat. Oh, yes. He is.

Genesis 37:3-4 MSG: Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.

He was daddy’s fave and Daddy made no bones about it. He made this amazing coat of prestige and honor and Joseph wore it proudly. Didn’t seem to mind the fact that it hurt his brothers deeply or that being the fave caused hatred in their hearts. 

These brothers couldn’t even speak peaceably to him. Now, I don’t know about you but when someone is unhappy with me, I know it. I can see it on their faces and feel it when I enter a room. That’s just someone unhappy! Not hatred.

But Jospeh didn’t care. He didn’t bother to see. Instead he chose to tell them his dream about how they’d bow to him. Yeah, that’s what you do when you’re hated. You lord a dream over them. Not once. But twice! Nice work, Jo.

And one day, Daddy sends Joseph out to check on his brothers. Why wasn’t he out there helping in the first place? Oh yeah, he’s spoiled. He’s a rascal. Dons the coat, oh yes, he does. Because that’s what you do when you’re about to approach your own brothers. Rub it in their faces that you’re loved most. I kinda feel bad for the brothers. 

While Joseph was in the distance, the brothers plotted to kill Joseph.

Not just give him the business, but murder him. They’ve murdered before…remember poor Dinah and the revenge on the entire town for the act of one.

But they end up selling him as a slave.

I wish we had time to pick all this apart. But we don’t. Joseph ends up a slave and then imprisoned and what we learn is that Joseph grows and matures over this period of time. Because how can a rascal like Jospeh rule a nation humbly? He can’t. Not unless he’s been humbled and molded into the kind of man God would need to rule and lead.

There are many glimpses of Joseph’s maturity and humbling process, but this one is one of my favorites. In Genesis 40, the chief butler (cup bearer) and the chief baker are thrown into the prison for offending the Pharaoh. Joseph is put in charge of them. Day in. Day out. 

Verse 3-7 MSG: “After they had been in custody for a while, the king’s cupbearer and baker, while being held in the jail, both had a dream on the same night, each dream having its own meaning. When Joseph arrived in the morning, he noticed that they were feeling low. So he asked them, the two officials of Pharaoh who had been thrown into jail with him, “What’s wrong? Why the long faces?”

The NKJV says, “He saw they were sad.” 

At seventeen, he was oblivious. He ignored the hateful glares, the snarled lips. The disdain in their words. Maybe he saw the looks of sadness when he wore that coat the first time. But he didn’t think to spare them the pain by not wearing it. By not having some kind of conversation with them or Jacob. 

But now.

Now, he’s seeing. “You’re sad. What’s wrong?” Not only does he see, but he speaks. He inquires. “Why are you upset?”

Joseph was now hoping for the future, but living in the present.

I wonder if he’d regarded his brothers’ countenances and inquired if maybe things would have been different. Maybe. Maybe God would have gotten him to Egypt to fulfill his destiny and God-given dreams another way. I don’t know.

I do know this: Joseph had been more preoccupied with being the favorite and his future dreams than he was about the present. And he missed A LOT! 

Our God-given dreams require planning and preparation on our part.  I had to actually write and do the work to be published. And I admit, that for a time I became so focused on the gift that I neglected the present. I wasn’t awake to the “now.” I wasn’t paying attention to what God might doing right then in me, through me. 

Maybe that’s you. Don’t be so consumed with the dreams and the future that you neglect what’s right in front of you.  Wake up! Wake up and be present in the moment. See the people around you. Notice the hurt, the pain. Notice you might need a conversation with someone you love. Humble yourself now! Don’t go through a pit and a prison to do it. 

Don’t miss the moments. 

Don’t wait dozens of years to wake up. 

Yes, God has dreams for you in the future. But He also has dreams for you to walk into today! 

Forward Challenge: Be awake today. Remove the apps from your phone. Step away from working toward your dream for one hour, two, a day and be present in the moment. Who looks sad and needs encouragement from you? 

Forward Scripture: “…Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.” Proverbs 8:34 MSG

Forward Prayer: God, who made the day, awake me to present in it and responsive to Your will as You start Your day’s work. Thank you for Your good plans that include me. Open my ears to hear You and my eyes to see You and where You are at work. Help me to take notice of those around me and recognize when they need a word of hope, of encouragement and give me ,through Your Holy Spirit, the words to say. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

What do you need to do today in order to be AWAKE and present?

Forward Friday: One Word 2018

December has been a whirlwind, y’all! A good whirlwind, though. I spent less time on social media and more time with friends and family face-to-face. How about you? In fact, lately, I’ve been thinking about the time I spend. Time on social media. Time with my laptop. Time with family. Friends. Time with Jesus. 

Some days I feel the quantity but not the quality. 

I’ve been praying a lot about what God might have me place my focus on this year. It’s going to be another whirlwind–it’s true that the older you become, the faster time seems to pass. I have three books and one (maybe two) novellas releasing this new year. My daughter will be home for one summer before she truly will live somewhere else. My son is entering high school. Things are stirring in other personal areas, in my church. So, Lord, what should my focus be?

I learned several years ago, that resolutions don’t work for me. I give up. Of course, I set goals. I think it’s important to do that. But the ONE WORD or PHRASE for the year keeps me focused.

These past few months, the Lord has really pressed a word on my heart. It whispers through my lips in prayer. A friend ordered me a book and journal with the word and topic for Christmas, not knowing this word has been burning through me. 

AWAKE. I have to admit there are areas where I’ve been asleep, spiritually sluggish. Exhausted to the point of not being able to rouse myself. And the Lord in His tenderness has brought this to my attention and given me a good shake.

What exactly does AWAKE mean? What will this look like in my life? 

I want to be awake mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. I want to SEE all that God has for me and be growing daily. I want to heed what the Lord says and be on guard for distraction and temptation so I can bypass it! I want to be observant like Joseph when he noticed the countenance of the butler and the baker and saw they were upset (you know at one time he wouldn’t have noticed that). 

I want to be AWAKENED. Breathing in God and breathing Him out. 

So each week I’m going to unpack some verses that will help us all awaken, help us all grow and meditate on His word and what it means. I hope you’ll join me, share with your friends, and this year, be awake with me! 

What say you? Are you in?

Forward Challenge: Be awake in all things. Be present. Be observant for what God is doing. Be heedful and obey. 

Forward Scripture: “The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up…—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” 1 Kings 19:7 MSG

Forward Prayer: Awaken us, Lord. In every area where we’ve been dozing or full-on snoozing. Waken us to Your heartbeat. Your calling. Your Word. Breathe into us and make us live again. No more dry bones. Only life and life more abundantly, in Jesus name. Amen.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution, goal, one word or phrase, or a particular scripture for the new year? I’d love to hear it. 

Happy New Year, Friends!

Forward Friday: Full Steam Ahead

“They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.  In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.” Matthew 24:10-15 MSG

I think it’s safe to say these verses describe our present times. We can’t control the vicious gnashing of teeth, especially on social media sites. In fact, there isn’t much we can control. We gape in horror and mutter, “Lord Jesus, come.”

It’s frightening. Shocking.  But what grips me most isn’t what the world will be like (is like) it’s what happens to Christians in these times. That’s the horror show. 

The KJV version says, “…the love of many shall wax cold.”

The phrase ” shall wax cold” in the Greek is psychō. Now, I know it seems fitting. Yes, people are going psycho! It’s true. But that word doesn’t mean what we think it does. Kinda like in The Princess Bride. “I do not think that words means what you think it does.”

It actually means, “to breathe, blow, cool by blowing, to breathe–voluntarily but gently, reduction in temperature by evaporation to chill.” Wax. Cold.

Psychō differs from the word Pneo–which means to breathe hard, blow.

I see two pictures in my mind. One is of a wax museum. We visited the Ripley’s Believe it or Not and it’s crazy how real-to-life those wax figures are.  But they don’t breathe.

Our hearts wax cold…all that movement forward ceases. We become like wax figures. No life left.  It’s a gentle reduction in temperature. Gradual. Quiet even. Like those last dying breaths. Shallow. Stretching out in between the next one until none remains. Lifeless. Gone. Cold.

Maybe you aren’t deceived by lying preachers. But isn’t the evil abounding overwhelming? The political climate is ripe with tension. Infighting. Add one natural disaster after another and it’s enough to make one want to crawl in a hole and never come out.  

I’ve seen a few posts lately that say, “Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.” Why do we need this kind of statement? Because our hearts grow cold, we shut down. We turn off the TV and live in our bubbles. Why? Many reasons. One of them is because it feels so big and we feel helpless. So we shut it all out. It’s too much. Too fast. Our hearts grow weary before they grow cold. We stop doing good. Harvests can’t be reaped.

We lose our passion. But Jesus says to stay with it to the end. Keep on keeping on. How? For one, there is hope in the next words. All during this time, the Good News will go out. Lives will be eternally saved. God hasn’t given up on us. Or forgotten. He’s working. Moving.

The second picture I see is a steam engine. A steam engine in an interesting thing. In their cycle, water is heated which turns to steam to propel these engines forward. Slow at first, then faster…faster…gaining momentum. The higher the heat, the more steam. Until it’s full steam ahead!

But it takes water to heat it up! “…just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Ephesians 5:25-26 NLT

It’s going to take continued washing in the water of God’s word to heat us up. Passion = heat! You’ve heard the phrase, “on fire for God.” Passionate about God. About the things of God. The word ignites our faith. fuels our strength. Gives us direction. And increases our momentum to keep us going forward. To stay it out until the end. 

I don’t want someone looking at me and wondering if I’m alive or not. I want people to be inspired and motivated by my love for Jesus, by my passion for Him. What about you?

Forward Challenge: Make it a priority to get into the Word. Find one verse and study it. Memorize it. Chew on it. Get it in the marrow of your bones and live it. Watch God ignite a new fire in you!

Forward Scripture and Prayer: 

 

Eyes Wide Shut

It’s easy to do go about your daily life and settle into the fact that what you see is what you get. We say we walk by faith and not by sight but if we don’t daily remind ourselves of that, we forget. And what you see is what you get. 

This passage of scripture really stood out to me this past week. 

Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.
 “Throw it down on the ground,” theLord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
 Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.” Exodus 4:2-4 NLT
All Moses saw in his hand was a shepherd’s staff, a rod…a piece of carved wood. A dead stick if you will. 
But was it? 
The minute he obeyed God and threw it down it became a snake. I’m not so sure Moses didn’t jump back like a flash of lightning over the fact it was a snake as the fact he was shocked out of his gourd. He wasn’t expecting a petrified piece of wood to become a living, moving thing.
What you see isn’t always what you get. Not when God is in the mix. 
You may think you’re holding onto to something that can’t move, breathe, live, or become something else. You may be discouraged, disappointed, and depressed over it. 
But what you see…well…it isn’t what you always get. Walk by faith. Trust God to take what you think is dead and turn it into something that will blow your mind! 
How’s your walk by faith going today? 

Guess Where I Am?

Hey everyone! Today, I’m over at Jill Kemerer’s blog. Jill is my good friend and critique partner. Join me as I talk about this scripture in relation to my Christmas novella! 

“Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” James 2:13 MSG

 Hope Under Mistletoe, is a FREE and exclusive gift to you for simply signing up for the Patched In–my newsletter! (top right corner)

A
rowdy bar owner. A widowed pastor’s wife. And Christmas Hope that brings them
together.
After widower Eden
Snow’s church almost burns to the ground, she’s compelled to find a temporary
place to hold services and Christmas cantata practices.
Has-been hockey player,
Knox Everhart, has a reputation for being fast on the ice and with women.
Except Eden. She’s always been a fascinating mystery to him, which is why he
agrees to let her use the back room of his bar—with one rule: No converting his
customers.

But when Eden brings
the church to the bar, it offers something the bottle can’t. Hope. And he finds
himself falling in love with a woman and a Savior he feels unworthy to pursue. 





See you at Jill’s! 

Never Go Against A Sicilian!

Hey everyone, thanks for coming back for part 4 of The
Princess Bride series. If you’ve missed the first three, you can catch up:
Let’s watch the clip first!

Quite an interesting scene here isn’t it? Vizzini is adamant
he’s not a fool. He prides himself on his brains, his wits.

“First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the
harder the fall.” Proverbs 16:18 MSG
I love Westley’s reaction, “Truly, you have a dizzying
intellect.” Sarcastic amusement. Vizzini goes on and on. Thinking about who he
believes Westley is. Deduction. Man’s logic, and in the end…trickery.
The battle of wits to decide who is right and who is dead.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.” Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
I think many times we can pull a Vizzini. We base our view
of who God is on our limited knowledge, human reasoning and deduction and not
on the actual Word of God, thereby failing miserably.

We try
to figure out tough situations out on our own.  We take matters into our hands, leaning on our
own understanding.
Vizzini was at a crossroads of sorts. He had to figure out a
tough decision. Now for the sake of this clip, we know he’s the villain. We
know that Westley is the hero and needs to take him out. I’m not comparing
Westley to God in the sense that God gives us no way out situations. He doesn’t.

But we
all have hard decisions to make. And going on our own understanding always
leads to dire consequences.
We may not understand everything about God. We don’t. We
never will. But we don’t have to understand Him to trust in His wisdom and His
goodness. To trust in His promises that 
He will never leave us, never forsake
us, that He’ll always guide us, give us wisdom and help us navigate through
tough times and even tougher choices.
Because God…yeah, He always surprises us! Vizzini NEVER
expected poison in both cups. WE never expected it! And God answers our prayers
and guides us in ways we’d never expect either.
By putting the poison in both cups, Westley removed
Buttercup’s immediate threat and freed her from an enemy.
You never know how He’s going to do what needs to be done
for you either. But the surprise is always worth it!
“With God are wisdom and
power; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:13 NET

Which
character from The Princess Bride can you relate to most? Why?

Do you
ever struggle with trusting God? How do you get through it?



Join me next Monday for Hello, My Name is Inigo Montoya.

The Power of “With”

 

 

 
It’s good
to be back after a long week of vacation. We took the kids to Branson for the
week and had a wonderful time. Experienced God’s beauty 174 feet below the
ground in an amazing cave. Marveled at the beauty of his mountains and lakes as
we drove and traveled by boat. And we were moved at His love for each one of us
as we enjoyed the Sight and Sound Theater’s performance of Jonah. Incredible.
The early mornings on the screened-in porch where I sipped coffee and spent
time in the Word breathed fresh life back into me. It was a vacation full of
precious memories.
 
 

 

 

This
morning during my study, I happened to glance down at two passages and they
spoke volumes to me.
 
Paul is
speaking in a letter to his young protégé Timothy. He says in 2 Timothy
4:17-18, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the
message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might
hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will
deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for the His heavenly
kingdom…”
 
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.
 
If you
know me well, you know that a simple phrase or word will strike up a song
inside me. A good friend calls me walking iTunes. It’s the running joke. So
naturally, I started humming, Stand by Me by Ben E. King.
 
When the
night has come
And the
land is dark
And the
moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t
be afraid
Oh, I
won’t be afraid
Just as
long as you stand, stand by me
 
Then it
hit me, the scripture didn’t say that Jesus
stood by Paul. It said, with.
 
The
phrase, “with me” in the Greek is moi. It’s a possessive pronoun of
mine in the first person. It states that which I have; what I possess
 
By isn’t
so bad. In Acts 23:11 Paul says, “…the Lord stood by me and said, ‘Be of
good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must
also bear witness in Rome.'” The Greek word for “by” is
ephistemi and it means to be present, to be at hand. Jesus was there to
encourage Paul when he needed it.
 
And yet…
 
With me says, “Because I am
with you, all that I possess. All that I
have is yours.” That includes His strength.
 
“But
the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” Because what is His, is
yours when He is with you.
 
Look at
the verses above in 2 Timothy. Paul says in verses 9-15 that several left him
including Demas, Crescens, Titus. Only Luke was left. Alexander the coppersmith
did him much harm.
 
“At
my first defense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me.” (v. 16)
 
But the
Lord…!!!!
 
Whatever
you may be going through. No matter how abandoned you may feel. The Lord is not
only by you to encourage you, He is with you. All that belongs to Him is yours.
Including His strength.
 
Friends,
there is comfort in that!
 
“To
Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (v.18)
 
Knowing that all Jesus has is yours, how will that change what you do
today or how you think?
 
 

 

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But Who?

Imagine with me, John the Revelator. Exiled to a
rocky island called Patmos. Imagine him sitting one day, staring off into the
distance and longing for home, for eternity, for Christ. And in an instant he’s
taken up to heaven in a vision…
“I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One
Seated on the Throne. It was written on both sides, fastened with seven seals.
I also saw a powerful Angel, calling out in a voice like thunder, “Is there
anyone who can open the scroll, who can break its seals?”
There was no one—no one in Heaven, no one on
earth, no one from the underworld—able to break open the scroll and read it.
I wept
and wept and wept that no one was found able to open the scroll, able to read
it.” Revelation 5:1-5 MSG
Can’t you feel is his angst as he weeps. Who can
fulfill God’s plan in history? Who is worthy to do it? No one. No one can
accomplish what is written in these scrolls. The utter doom slides 
into your
stomach like an icy ball.
Hopeless.
Helpless.
But then…
“One of the Elders said, “Don’t weep. Look—the
Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David’s Tree, has conquered. He can open the
scroll, can rip through the seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

A lion!
A conqueror!
John must envision a mighty warrior with a
frightening roar, sharp teeth, a powerful king. 
Aggressive. Coming with force.
Slowly, tears running from his cheeks, he raises
his head to see this Lion.
“So I
looked, and there, surrounded by Throne, The Living Creatures, and Elders, was
a Lamb, slaughtered but standing tall.” Revelation 5:6
Not a lion.
A lamb as though it had been slain.
Without a roar. Without sharp teeth.
He came as sacrificial love. In mercy. In grace.
A lamb! A lamb!
But he is powerful. He is mighty! He is standing tall!
“He came to the One Seated on the Throne and
took the scroll from his right hand. The moment he took the scroll, the Four Living
Creatures, and Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.” Revelation
5:7-8
And all sang around the throne!
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain ; To receive
power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation
5:12
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to
Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
Worthy.

Is.

The.

Lamb.

What is just one name you’ve experienced Christ as? 

Photocredit: freedigitalphotos/ponsulak

photocredit:freedigitalphotos/tratong

If you can’t something nice…

…pray. Nope it’s not, “don’t say anything at all.” You need to say something. To God. And not in the context of, “God, please keep them away from me before I kill them! Please don’t let me have to work with them, minister with them or quite frankly, see them!”

This Wednesday, we’re going to look at what this verse means and how it applies to our actions and our prayer life and why it’s so important for us to bless those who may not bless us so much. 

This video below gives us a hint at our lesson. I kept today’s post short so you can pause for just a teeny tiny minute and let the words minister to you, focus you and give you an opportunity to worship our great God! Take it! 🙂 


Tomorrow my daughter will be fifteen! FIFTEEN! Leaner’s permit. Gulp! Pray for me, please. 🙂

Have you ever felt persecuted? May not have to do for Christ’s sake, but in general? How did you handle it? 

It Takes Courage to…

 

…to pray at all times. And it takes faith like a child. 

We’re going to unpack this verse in depth on Wednesday as we continue our series in humility based on Romans 12:9-21. Join me and isn’t this the sweetest picture you’ve ever seen? Feel free to pin it on your Pinterest page.

But now, take a few minutes to worship before moving on to your next blog post. The song gives us a hint into the lesson. Keep it classy i.e. humble!

What else does it take courage and childlike faith to do?