Old and new. It began at the airport in New York just before we left for TelAviv. We were invited to join a Purim celebration!
We were given noisemakers. We watched the reading of the whole Megillia – the entire book of Esther – in Hebrew – about 15 minutes (!) and participated with groans and noise every time Haman’s name was read. Whew.
Little gift bags were shared that contained Haman’s hat cookies and candy. We were instructed to share them with others, so everyone exchanged. That’s when I noticed.
We eager foreigners, were, of course, taking pictures with our phones and cameras, but I had not expected the Rabbi’s standing nearby to pull theirs out too! It just seemed incongruous for these gentlemen in ancient regalia to have a modern iPhone in use 🙂
That rather set the tone for the entire trip. Day One was mainly arrival but also some introductory scenes – the airport, the bus ride to the hotel, Tel-Aviv (not a tourist town), the little grocery store, the lego-like construction going on everywhere, people in costume for Purim and the Mediterranean Sea.
Not sure what was with the death warning – probably a high voltage pole. I felt safer here than in Milwaukee or Chicago. Walking on the beach at sunset again we saw old and new – always and constantly new construction going on – sometimes the new on top of the old, or seeing the old view through plexiglass on floors.
First meal in Israel – plate was my selections from about 20 choices set up buffet style.
Notice the Schindler elevator
And the journey began – Lessons on the bus on the way to new adventures – tomorrow Caesarea and many other stops – usually 7-8 a day.
We traveled with Cliff Graham and the Good Battles Tour group. Itai and Marla were our Hebrew guides.
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/cliffgrahamauthor
The trip’s Instagram account is http://www.instagram.com/israelbattletours
In any of those services, you can also click on the hashtag #goodbattletours and see where travelers are going to be tagging their posts.
It was amazing to stand in these places, to realize I was where all civilization began and in places (here or near as they say) where Jesus, apostles, warriors, and ancestors were. It was remarkable to hear scriptures read at varied sites and to view what was being spoken.
Old and new – Ancient Words.
Still true and still changing me and bringing new life and hope.
The more you think about Jesus, the more you will think like Jesus
This week I’ll be focusing on Jesus, thinking about Jesus, and pondering how Jesus walked
I’ve been particularly entranced with the idea since 2001 when I found Bruce Feiler’s book and dvd Walking the Bible.
Feiler had a learned, religious man as guide through the historical places where Jesus lived and walked.
I will have a learned godly man, leading me and others through some similar territory, but with a special emphasis and perspective from one who walks with God.
Walked in the Bible means more than to propel oneself forward on foot
1John 2:6 says: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (original word meaning behave or conduct)
And how did Jesus conduct or behave himself? In such a manner that the Spirit of God was recognized in Him.
John 1:36 tells us how John perceived this man walking toward him:
and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
What do people see where we walk? How we walk? When we walk?
In what manner do we walk?
Is the Spirit of God recognized in us by the manner in which we walk (conduct ourselves/live?
Will walking where Jesus walked cause me to think about Him? I’m sure it will. Will that experience also make me more like Jesus? I hope so.
Pictures coming. In the meantime, let’s focus on our walk – more important than how many steps we walked, what did we notice? Were there people with a story to tell? People who want us to listen to them?
What or who did we notice? What did Jesus do when he noticed someone?
Here are a few examples of what Jesus saw and how he walked:
Matt. 8:18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side.
Mark 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Mark 12:34 And when Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.
Luke 13:12 And when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.”
John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
What can we learn from things Jesus said?
When Jesus looks at me, he sees that I too, have a “condition” and have been a long time in it. Jesus knows that and asks me the same question.
I know there have been opportunities before the moment when Jesus asked, “Do you wish to get well?” Jesus saw the people. Jesus listened to them. Jesus observed their needs and weaknesses.
Sometimes I play/try to get out of the condition on my own, but Jesus offers freedom with His authority.
I hear Him asking: Do you really want to get out of that habit (condition) that you’ve been in a long time? Do you want to be free of it’s enslavement?
Yes, I do.
I’ve been meeting with a wonderful group of supportive friends discussing food and how there are often spiritual needs (or lacks) behind some of (most of?) our physical habits.
It’s refreshing to encourage one another to develop healthy habits and a healthy life. without condemnation.
Sometimes I feel too busy to take the time to plan healthy snacks or meals, or when out doing errands to choose to find healthy and exceptionally delicious foods, or to even eat at all. I married a good man who stops me in my tracks and asks, “Have you had lunch yet?” When I start to whine that I have so much to do, he reminds me that I will have little strength and “thin attitudes” if I allow my body to get dehydrated or weak, and that I am cheating those I want to nurture if I don’t nourish myself physically.
It is also vital to nourish our souls so we have something to feed others spiritually too! Ken is awesome at scripture memory and I taught our kids to have quiet times when they were toddlers. I’d give them a book, and let them observe me across the room being quiet for a minute reading and praying. Gradually I upped the time to five minutes, then seven minutes. Those practices helped them and helped me too.
All of those things are habits we develop bit by bit, day by day. Nourishing ourselves, strengthening others, and allowing others to nourish us.
God has a lot to say about nourishing us too!
“The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
So, I need to make it a habit to go to the well, and sit for a while, allowing God to guide, and refresh me.
We’re not to make the matter of food a way to impress God. What is that saying – eat to live don’t live to eat. Food was made as a temporal thing with a short life – to sustain our bodies for a short time. Food rots. Why would I go to something that rots before going to God for ever-lasting nourishment?
Matt. 6:25 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Then there are emotions. I know I often eat emotionally – sad, glad, or rushed – they are all excuses to grab chocolate, or curl up with a bag of potato chips. None of those things are bad – but eating just that can be a very bad habit affecting every area of our lives. When I don’t eat well, my body doesn’t run well, and I get more tired and crave more junk.
Do I eat differently when I go out with someone who will treat me to a smorgasbord of elaborate foods? I still forget sometimes that it takes 20 minutes for food to settle, and if I eat until I feel full, I’m likely to also feel sick. The last 3 words of this verse speak of another habit:
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-3, MSG).
Several days of this week I will be at speaking engagements – and they are all at meetings that involve eating! On the way there and back and in between I’ll be spending time with some delightful people and we will also be eating together. I’m sure I will have a lot of temptations before me.
I’ll be praying this prayer for those in my circle of outreach in life and praying for myself too – to let this awesome week be an example and an encouragement – and the strengthening of good habits!
3John 2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
Did you get that last phrase? It gobsmacked me! – When I turn it around (don’t you just love reconstructing sentences) Here’s what I read:
Just as (how) your soul prospers
May you prosper to the same degree in every work and ministry you do
May you be as healthy physically as you are spiritually!
Now there’s my thought for the week
I pray it nourishes you too.
Nobody Loves Me… Please notice me!…
That’s the way a majority of the world feels today. Not everyone will be getting a bouquet of roses, a box of candy or even a valentine. The “Commercial Holidays” as my hubby puts it, makes many singles, widows, widowers, orphans, feel sad, so let’s notice them tomorrow!
There’s familiar (a neighbor, a clerk where you often shop or get service of some kind)
unfamiliar, (saw a fellow pushing a bicycle through the slush today),
A small gift card or a little gift useful to male or female can bring joy by lifting some hearts that they were noticed. If you have time, they may even want to chat with you.
Be prepared to answer why you are giving them a gift –
I am so cared for and want you to know God cares for you too
27 days to Spring – Sunshine is on the way!
A little gift from the one who created hearts
In memory or honor of a loved one (often share my Daddy’s love for people or how Mom loved surprises and ice cream!)
How easy can it be with a day of hearts!
Grab some baggies
Insert some color (heart or flower cut outs or cardinal pictures – or a drawing your kids made)
Insert a little message – a verse, a proverb, a song, a random picture of a flower or something that evokes hope,
Insert a treat – something individually wrapped and decadent like a Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Chocolate Candy, or something useful like hand lotion, a pair of dollar store mittens, or a small gift card to get a hamburger, sandwich or coffee, ice cream cone, some quarters for laundry/parking meters, rummage sales, etc..
How many smiles will you get tomorrow giving out your baggies that say You Are Noticed?
Phil. 2:1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Phil. 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
Phil. 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Happy Valentine’s Day!
2Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
Simplicity, in my experience, is usually found in Single Servings – One at a time.
There is a very profound ongoing growth principle in the Bible. It is the Put On – Put off principle.
To put off complicated put on simplicity
To put off overscheduled, put on a single focus – one at a time
To put off indecisiveness, put on a single decision
Breaking the Fast has long been described as the most important meal of the day. Yet I often skip it as I have so many plans to accomplish
Relating that to my spiritual life, the first thing I need to do daily is to fuel the spirit with healthy life-giving fuel.
Start with 7 minutes (1 min for thankfulness (I look at yesterday) – 2 min to read a verse or three – 1 min to write down any directive to do, not do, start or stop – 1 min to pray for someone else this makes you think of and 1 minute to pray for yourself, 1 min. to write out last thing first (if nothing else gets done today – what was one most important thing you to accomplish), and close with 1 min. to praise God for what He is going to do today
Mid-day refueling is something I also often skip – too busy with the day’s plans, too involved with others plans for us, or too tired already from trying to complete an impossible list for the day. Too busy to nourish, or snacking on quick unhealthy and often unsatisfying tidbits.
Hydrate body and spirit – Take 1 minutes to drink water, 1 minute to stretch, 1 minute to review a scripture verse and 1 minute to remind self that because I am in Christ, wherever I go and whatever I do, I am bringing Christ into the situation.
Rather than vegetate on the sofa, overeating by the television, too tired and then to full to get up, I need to plan my next day’s ‘bites’ so I can enjoy a peaceful evening time.
Make a menu of all three meals, preparing what I can in case I have to run out and do errands, I can grab a healthy choice in my Bento and fuel while on the go. Similarly, write out my memory verse in large print on a card I can pocket and glance at throughout the day.
I don’t foresee my life slowing to a lounge-by-the-pool pace anytime soon, if ever.
Can you relate?
Simplified living is about more than doing less.
It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus.
It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created.
It’s living life in Single Servings.
Are you dishing up at least three times a day? Keep it simple, body and soul.
God longs for us to have a sabbatical heart. But we are often more concerned with having a fruitful heart. Being fruitful. So to get a vision of the sabbatical heart, let’s start there and see
What fruit is NOT
Fruit is not success
Fruit is not busyness
Fruit is not financial or material wealth
Fruit is not popularity
I believe fruit is the result of a fallow heart!
Fallow ground appears to be unproductive and lifeless, but while it is resting it is receiving nutrients and being built up in preparation for new seed which will bring fruit. But before that can happen it must be fallow (resting) for a time.
Hos. 10:12 Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
This verse was written after the sabbatical year (the 7th year in which they were instructed to let the ground go fallow (unplowed and unplanted)
John Wesley explains the fallow year’s purposes:
If you look at the fallow ground you see hard ground, unplowed. It looks very inactive, unproductive and dry. It looks to be without life. (Haven’t we all had periods of life like that)
Do you see any fruit? No, obviously not, but there is something important and unseen that has occurred as a result of allowing the land to rest for a time.
The land, while resting, is being rained on and built up with nutrients to develop, nourish and support the new seed.
Without the time of rest and building up, the fruit would be inferior, weak, and more sparse every subsequent crop.
Similarly, we need to be sure not to work the soil of our creativity, the soil of our bodies (God’s temple) or the soil of our spirit-soul without periods of rest.
We need to periodically stop, listen and take in nourishment that builds us up in preparation for the new seed. The new crop of fruit/maturity in us.
When I went on missions trip much time was occupied with planning, preparing and sometimes rehearsing the works we would do. We prayed for fruit (evidence of our prayers and efforts). The church expected us to come back and share what God had done through us.
When I’ve gone to conferences I’ve found that my work and my heart flourish more if I take a day or a particular time allotment and use it to “Sow with a view to righteousness” – where I rest and instead give, water, plant. During that time of rest from marketing my own work, I seek instead to encourage others, asking how can I help you, or how can I pray for you.
Whether on a mission, at a conference, or in everyday life, God has shown the need for a sabbatical heart. He has left me in awe to realize he is more concerned with the nourishing and maturing He does in me than what ‘ministry’ can be done through me. Sometimes that means a period apart – a quiet time – a rest from striving.
The more I can rest in Him, be in the Word, receive the spiritual nutrients, the more he can build up his fruit in my heart and life. The more I accept those periods of rest, I see now, the more God is enabling me to be strengthened and instructed to “Plentifully pour out the fruits of his goodness and mercy.” That comes from a sabbatical heart.
As Hosea said, God wants to rain (water, teach, instruct) righteousness on me and on you –
God wants to develop your sabbatical heart! Are you resting in Him?
Forget resolutions. They are so temporary. Trust me, I’ve been trying for months to reduce – me, my closet, my spending, my clutter, when what I needed was a renewal. Have you felt that way – two steps forward and four back? Just wanting a fresh start and the power to make it last?
Instead of relying on promises to yourself, you’ve decided to rely on God’s promises to you! I especially enjoy the The Message translation:
Deut. 26:17 You’ve renewed your vows today that God is your God, that you’ll live the way he shows you
Imagine – a makeover, by God – The Original Designer!
He has the complete plan for you – from the inside out.
It will make you shine no matter your hair, skin, weight, or circumstance of life. Check out your new inner wardrobe:
Col. 3:12 So, chosen by God for this new life of love,
dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:
(understanding others are where you have been or where you were headed)
(re-living God reaching out to you when you did not deserve it)
(astonished that our holy God considers you a treasure)
(secretly celebrating the promise that God is with you and will never leave you)
(activating God’s promises to let them lead/correct/instruct/light my path)
(running to God first so you respond with His love instead of reacting with your feelings)
content with second place,
(satisfied to know you have first place in Christ’s heart)
quick to forgive an offense.
(making the choice not to accept and nurse the offense, but to refuse/deflect it, and give it to God to resolve)
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.
(Putting it in the Father’s hands for only He can completely and justly deal with it anyway)
Col. 3:14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.
(and all day long, practice the presence of Christ, letting HIM be seen in you)
It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.
Never be without it.
First what is Grace? Strong’s Concordance (1656) reveals grace as: to compassionate [as a verb – my note] (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace): — have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, show) mercy.
Now who is to receive this Grace?
Those who hear
All of you (believers to whom God directed the apostles to write)
All who are beloved of God and called as saints
Those are just a few of the descriptors of those to whom we are to “give” grace / to show or demonstrate grace
I know you realize that includes you, but have you known that YOU are involved in receiving grace not just when others are giving and showing grace. Look in the mirror. That is God’s child – she needs grace from you too!
How to do that? A few examples:
Do you listen to yourself? Sometimes I have to tell myself to stop it! Stop vocalizing the enemies lies that I am not enough, that I am still guilty, shamed, condemned. Vocalize the truth. Only such words that will bring life. Stir in grace to what you serve yourself.
Eph. 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord – put your name in the psalms and in the hymns and pray Grace over YOU.
If you haven’t thought of it before, add your name to your prayer list! Realize all that Christ has sacrificed for you – all the treasure (See Ephesians 1) that He has allotted to you, and how very much He loves you, the temple of His Spirit.
Read the verses again and replace you, your, those, one another, etc. Then give some Grace – again and again –
and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you like words? We writers do, and I enjoy listening for my new word each year.
During Christmas the grandkids were playing in the living room when the youngest, Alayah, fell and began crying – she looked around and ran to Uncle Daniel. I said, “Alayah, does Uncle Daniel make you feel all better?” Surprisingly, Tony (5-1/2) looked up from his HotWheels cars and said, “Uncle Daniel makes everything better!”
Those words were a gift of grace, and my word for this year is GRACE.
Tony’s comment made me realize that everything goes better when handled with/accompanied by grace! I’ve heard and seen a lot this past year that could have used more grace…
…times when truth was shared. More truth is needed, but without grace truth can be brutal
…times when power was emphasized. Power is needed to overcome, but without grace, power can be cold
…times when we longed for (and sometimes fought for) peace but forgot about grace in the longing to get our goal our way
…times of knowledge – growing and being built up – Growing in knowledge is so important and with grace, it also includes and welcomes
…times we grew in faith or helped others grow in faith – and hopefully applied it with the same grace we received
…times of praying/asking – (supplication) – and needing grace to weep with those who weep and also to rejoice with those who rejoice
May 2018 be a year of GRACE and GLORY
A time to accept Grace from the hand of God, from myself, and from others
A time to give Grace with the same abundance, abandon and extravagance that God has given to us
John 1:14 and 1:17
Romans 1:5, and 5:17
I Peter 1:2
2 Peter 1:2 and 1 Peter 3:18
It’s true for me – if I have a dedicated folio to guide my devotional thoughts, I’m more likely to remember the passage teachings as well as to DO the devotionals – Is it true for you?
I like my journal or folio to lay flat so I can easily write in it, as well as to review prior journaling to check my progress.
Devotionals are to set my daily focus and to provide some self-accountability.
The Near Journal does all that and more.
The Near Journal is flexible; and can be used with normal bible reading or it can also be used as a complement to a themed/topical bible study un an easy to use 90-day journal.
The Near Journal also features:
Jacob started this journal because he needed it himself. He’d always struggled to have a consistent daily quiet time, and when he used prewritten/themed devotional books he always felt that all he was doing was reading and answering some questions – and was still neglecting prayer, memorization, and growth. So he set out to build himself something that would help him have an excellent daily quiet time – without telling him what to read, study, or learn.The Near Journal/ Draw Near Co.
The Near Journal has helped me to combine setting my daily focus and memorizing scripture in a memorable way. I enjoy the uncomplicated format – guiding users into simply record new truths you learned, new goals or new prayers.
Start 2018 off right – or give a gift that will help others start their year right
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Help your Youth Group or others to receive these free planners – Share this info with your family, friends, and church family so they can start the year right and get the youth group this wonderful help! Then, add your youth group to the list to receive free Near Journals
Yes, I’m confessing. I admit it. I see it now for what it is. A habit. No, it’s stronger than that – an addiction.
I found myself at it again, you see, just this morning. I was casually flipping through Webster’s Dictionary when suddenly my eyes bugged, because I saw myself. There I was – me and my life-blood all wrapped up in that one small word: ad.dict: to apply habitually, as one’s mind to speculation; to give (oneself) up to or over, as a constant practice.
It’s true – I used to enjoy eating – but no ambrosia is a match for the written word. I used to shop for clothes, electronics, and chocolate… now I ‘shop’ for topics. Sleep, also once a familiar friend, has become an enemy of sorts, snatching the elusive turn of a phrase or singing conclusion I’ve searched for all night in self-imposed insomnia.
My job – you know – the avocation that lines the pocket that pays the conference fees, that buys the postage stamps, that stuffs the envelopes with SAE’s, is what feeds the flame. Like maple syrup running down the tap into the bucket, every moment of my work has become nothing more than a funding source to fuel the addiction. I’m out of control. I can’t stop.
I can’t drive across town without “seeing” a story – hanging out a window, screeching by in a wildly-painted 1956 T-bird, or dallying in the middle of the street, making faces at me as it sidles past…. just slowly enough to antagonize by whispering the seductive message I cannot resist – “there’s a story here!”
I don’t talk to my colleagues anymore – I interview them! They laugh and string me on but then I hear the theme in their monologue, see the twist in their character, and I feel the pull – the challenge to create a story again – to find their soul and show them to others with just the right words.
The evidences of my addiction are at my side constantly. My favorite Zebra pens and the note pads are everywhere. It seemed normal when they took over the magazine rack in the bathroom, but I should have realized something was amiss when I began stashing them under my pillow, in the glove compartment, slipped into every coat pocket, between the file folders, in the hamper… yes, even there. Deep down I know it is because I am helpless against the intoxicating desire that can strike anywhere, at anytime, and I must be prepared to satisfy its call.
Face it, I tell myself unabashedly: writing what God has done is the one thing that I cannot NOT do.
Feeling brain-dead from searching for some elusive prose, I climb the treadmill to pray and pound out my disconnected thoughts, making room for God to write on the slate I definitely know is blank. Recorded scripture forces my concentration and I feel it flow through me like oil on a snarled gold neck-chain, relaxing the knots, smoothing the kinks and restoring its purpose.
Finally, thoughts that began as subtly as wisps of fog are curling into words that form on the tongue and waft up more delectable than the smell of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies. They sift and swirl through my mind, reforming into their own life form until I get it – that high that nothing but writing words can match! At last those little words, those tasty bits of life and eternity that led me on, taunting for resolution, have come together.
Exhaustion and victory warred for supremacy. Both won.
The sense of fulfillment is so powerful, so confirming, that I am impelled to repeat the cycle, to revel in the view from the summit while simultaneously acknowledging that it is not really over. For me the pull of words will never be over. I live for that feeling of completion. Yes, these are the words of an addict and proof of the power of my obsession.
Because I have tasted, I continue. I know that every struggle is worth it to experience the one-step cure that at least temporarily alleviates the symptoms – publication!