Wednesday, November 29, 2023

How to share about God's Word

A hard lesson I learned in telling my story was people don't need the details of my pain or suffering. They can relate if I give labels or short descriptive words. Telling my details never healed anyone or changed anyone that I am aware of, but when I shared about God, His character, and how He moved in my life and circumstances, I would see people change for the better because they drew nearer to God. I learned this lesson the hard way through trial and error.

I recently read this passage and saw immediately in Scripture the format I learned the hard way. Lol. 

In five short verses, we are given a simple model of how to share about God's Word in our lives and circumstances.

It clearly says when your children ask. Okay, there is an assumption that we open the door for questioning and we are discusding truth from the perspective of God's commands not man's. Sometimes, that is the hardest door to open. But when it is this is a simple model to follow.

Here is what you do...
1. Tell my/our story in God's story. 
2. Explain the circumstances simply.
3. Give God's name. 
4. Show God's character. 
5. Explain how God moved in the circumstances.
6. Explain how we should respond.

Did you notice that more attention is focused on God? 

I love this because it gives God the glory and not my pain or suffering. 

Don't get me wrong. I know there is a cathartic healing that comes in processing our pain. But that is a totally different circumstance than this. That should happen at the feet of someone that can help you see and discover God in your circumstances. 

This is more about telling others about why and how God's Word provides us our healing. Save the catharsis for your place of receiving. This is about the moment when you know and are healed so you can give. 

I had so much to learn. God has taught me so much. I am still learning. I love that He is giving me truth through His story so I am better at sharing His character. 

Shalom y'all!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Irresponsible shepherds were given a warning by God!

Irresponsible shepherds were given a warning by God! 

That could be a newspaper headline for Ezekiel 34. Wozer! 

It is important to know that biblically a shepherd represents a king, prince, or overseer that can be political or spiritual that is in charge of leading God's people.

God asks, "Should not shepherds feed their sheep?"

God does not tolerate leaders that are self-indulgent, greedy, uncaring, or self-serving.

God makes it very clear He is against shepherds who only feed themselves. 

God does not tolerate shepherds that do not clothe, feed, strengthen, heal, bind, bring back lost sheep, scatter sheep, or protect their flock.

The warnings are a comfort for the one who hears because God speaks of promises found in emphatic I WILL statements.

I am against the shepherd that does these things.
I will require my sheep at their hand.
I will put a stop to their feeding sheep.
I will rescue my sheep from their mouths.
I will seek out my sheep.
I will rescue my sheep.
I will bring them out from the peoples and nations where they are scattered.
I will bring them into their own land.
I will feed them on the mountains of Israel.
I will feed them on good pastures.
I will give them good grazing land to lie on.
I will seek the lost.
I will bring back the stray.
I will bind up the injured.
I will strengthen the weak.
I will destroy the fat and the strong.

God then speaks very clearly to His flock. The above was a warning to the Shepherd gone astray. Below is the promises given to His sheep who hears HIS voice.

I will make a covenant of peace and Banish wild beasts.
I will make it so my sheep dwell securely.
I will make them places of blessings.
I will send them showers of blessings.
I will bless them with fruitful trees and fields.
I will make them secure.
I will break your bars of yoke.
     They will know I AM THE LORD!
I will deliver them.
      They will no longer be prey to the nations.
I will provide plantations.
      They will no longer suffer, be hungry, or receive the reproach of the nations.

You are my sheep. The sheep of My pasture. I AM YOUR GOD! Declares the LORD!

A leader's service must be for the benefit of others and their community. God does not tolerate self-indulgent leaders.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The little red plane grounds me

As Papa got into bed he said, "You know every night, I leave and go places. Sometimes I get in the car to go to work. I went shopping the other day. But everytime, I open my eyes and I see the plane, I know I am home."

I bought this plane for Papa for Christmas last year and hung it above his bed so he had something fun to look at. I had no idea that the little red baron plane would be his grounding.

Papa often tells me about how the plane helped him. Sometimes his journeys are not fun and the plane helps him to know he is home safe. 

I have been thinking alot about grounding. What in my life grounds me? 

Greg, Mikayla, Grant, Mom, and a few dear friends ground me. When I feel discombobulated, I can process with them and suddenly I am centered again. They help me see things from a different perspective, calm me, and remind me to laugh or cry when necessary. I feel at home and safe in being real with them. 

Creation grounds me. Just being able to sit outside, walk, and enjoy the trees, birds, and beauty of creation fills me up. It centers me. I find I feel more grounded when I spend more time in or with creation. It gives me joy and opens my heart to awe and wonder. This includes Peach and Melchizedek as they minister to me through their kindness and silly antics.

Creating things grounds me. I believe part of it is because it is something I can control. Part of it is because it ignites joy in me. Truly wonder and awe of beauty and giving come alive in me when I am creating. When life is really stressed I am always better if I pause and take time to create. It slows me down and stops the crazy cycle that can run amuck in my head. It also inspires generosity in me. It must be shared to be fully known.

My morning ritual grounds me. I get up, make my chai, get my Bible and my journal and then I sit in my comfy chair to watch the birds and squirrels while I read my Bible and pray. My time with God in the Word grounds me spiritually and emotionally. I can tell when my time is shortened. I am not as grounded if I don't keep my eyes on the LORD. He is my red plane that helps me know I am safe and home. He is the reason I can process with my family and see beauty in creation. He is what makes me centered and stable. He opens me up to repentance, forgiveness, love, hope, healing, kindness, generosity and so much more that is beyond me apart from Him.

What is your red plane that grounds you? What helps you remember who you are and that you are safe? 

If you don't know the answer, maybe you should seek God and ask Him to help you find what will help you become grounded. I promise He will give you what you need at the moment you need it.

Shalom, y'all.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Golden Tumors and Golden Mice

Truly, there are some strange things in the Bible. Like golden tumors and golden mice. This morning as I read 1 Samuel 5 and 6 about the Philistines and the ark of the covenant. I wondered, why in the world would they think sending the ark off in a cart carrying golden tumors and golden mice would be a good thing? Lol. 

First, we need to know and recognize that the ark of the covenant represented the presence of God and when they sat the ark next to Dagon, their god made of stone, Dagon kept getting knocked over and eventually decapitated. They started to recognize that the presence of the ark in their territory was not a good thing. The plague made them realize they needed to do something.

Apparently, the illness they were struck with was most likely the bubonic plague. This disease was caused by mice and it affected the lymp nodes. So of course they thought, if we turn these into little gold idols God will leave us alone.

Their diviners said, 
"So you must make images of your tumors and make images of your mice that ravaged the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps He will lighten his hand from you and your gods in the land." (1 Sam 6:5)

This always makes me laugh, but this morning I realized that when you do not know the One True God or how to worship Him of course you would try to do something that would appease Him. When you don't know that He desires pure hearts not sacrifices, a golden object seems like a good offering. 

It did work in that the presence of God was removed and they could go back to worshipping gods made by human hands. But they missed the opportunity to know and worship the one true God. 

Then I thought, how often do I find myself trying to appease God rather than worshipping Him? How often do I try to do a ritual or focus on an object rather than my Savior hoping to find the magic bullet? 

Truly, this is a crazy story with even more twists like a nursing cow wandering with the cart carrying the golden tumors, mice, and the ark of the covenant. Can you imagine them watching the cows lowing over the hills headed to the field of Joshua in Beth-shemesh? They figured the milking cows would go back to their locked up calves, but if they returned the ark to the Isrselites they would know the One True God was at work against them.

They removed the object that they thought was causing harm and did have relief from the removal, but they did not know the gift of a relationship with the One True God. 

Did any believe that day? We don't know. Unlikely since we aren't told. What a sad thing to recognize the presence of God, but to settle for appeasement and not a relationship.

There are so many deeper lessons in this story, but the one that seems to resonante today is I need to keep the sacred, sacred by worshipping the One True God. This cannot be done through appeasement with idols fashioned by human hands or from tests to see if He is at work. It is done through the humbling of a human hearts and a desire to know Him, celebrate Him, and to worship Him alone.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

I will be with you

I am with you! by Nordeman & Grant

Every night I pray with my Mom, Papa , and Aunt Janie there is one thing I always pray. Thankfulness for being together and that God is with us. 

This morning God so blessed me with this song and the reminder of the beauty of saying, "I am with you." I was listening and decided to play it again as I read and then God had me read Isaiah 43:2. God gave us this verse when we flooded and lost everything. Mom and Poddy let us live with them while our home was restored. I just realized that we are blessing them the way they blessed us.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you" (Isaiah 43:2).

I love those whispers. I heard God whisper His reminder this morning, "I will be with you."

Our lives are blessed and good. We are under no trial or tribulation. Our blessing is that in both our good times and bad times we know that God is with us and we are together.  

We are so thankful.

Simply, God says to me and you, "I am with you!"

Saturday, November 11, 2023

How to pray

I was recently asked how I pray. Here are two videos that share what has been the most transformational in my spiritual walk. These videos provide my persinal prayer walk journey. 

How to pray Scripture from Genesis to Revelation

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Sacred Rhythm of the Storytelling Process

At our ASM retreat, Naomi asked me to teach on curiosity from two Bible stories of my choice. God surprised me by the two Bible stories He put on my heart. The first one was Naaman's healing. Wozer! Once I got into the story, I was blown away at how curiosity was demonstrated by every person and we were able to see both the good and bad of a king and a servant using curiosity. There were two kings and several key servants. We see the use of curiosity for good and for bad in such a profound way that it is almost embarrassing to watch the bad. Crazy! Go check it out in 2 Kings 5 or you can watch the video I created of it on YouTube.

The second story made sense because Paul used the curiosity he found in culture to share about the One True God in Acts 17. 

I started practicing this story for a week before the retreat. I am always trying to train myself in a new story and as I prepared this story, God reminded me of a time when trying to tell a story like this one would have been overwhelming to me. But now that I have created mental story maps for years and used them consistently over time, I was able to settle into the sacred rhythm of the storytelling practice to trust its process and to trust the story to do its work in me.

God is blessing me with seeing the fruit of faithfulness in staying consistent in the process. It bears its own kind of peaceful fruit. I love it and want everyone to know and find the peace of such a gift in their service to our LORD. 

I feel that God is giving me a deeper sense of trust and peace which is even harder to explain. 

FATHER, please bless my dear beloved with the fruit of consistent processes that develop peace as they use their gifts faithfully for Your kingdom. Show them how You are at work in this sacred rhythm of growing their gifts and talents. Show them there is blessing that comes through the struggle and time. Allow them to know the grace of just being in the process and how it builds trust and hope. Kiss their souls today. In Jesus name, amen.

Here is the new story I learned.

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Spirit Stirred Up!

I started Ezra this morning. I needed a change of pace in my reading. I felt God wanted me to read it as I glanced over books I had not read in my Bible this go through. I am caught by two things this morning.

1. The Spirit of God stirred in a political figure that was not Jewish to send his people back to go rebuild His temple.
2. God stirred up a small remnant of His followers to go do the work.

When the Spirit of God stirs things up, things happen!

I find hope because God can and does stir up political figures! We must pray for it! And God can use a tiny band of followers! 

We must never underestimate the power of a small minority stirred by God! Despite hardship, difficulties, sacrifice, lack of comfort, costly endeavors, lack of resources, and lack of majority support a small group stirred by God can rebuild a broken spiritual house! 

And when this happens God will cause others to make provision for it to be accomplished!

Holy Spirit, come! Stir the nation's political leaders to bring forth Your will and plan. Raise up Your remnant! Make them strong and courageous in You! Build Your Spiritual house and let Your kingdom reign. In Jesus' powerful name. Amen