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Not The Same Old Refrain

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “refrain.”

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with the lyrics of an annoying song running through your head? It’s nearly impossible to get them out, isn’t it?

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Just like some of the words we’re so used to hearing in our own minds.

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“Nobody really likes you.”

“You’re so dramatic!”

“That bad thing you did years ago? Yeah. You’ll never be forgiven for that.”

All of these things are lies coming from the Father of Lies. And they need to be replaced by a new refrain, “He has loved you with a steadfast love. He will never leave you nor forsake you. God so loved the world (that includes you) that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

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When the same old refrain starts running through your head, replace it with a new one. You are loved. You are valuable. You are a child of the king. Royalty! There is a place reserved for you in heaven. As far as the east is from the west, so far have your sins been removed from you. And He remembers them no more. You have been given gifts by God to be used for His glory.

And that amounts to a lot!

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No Experience Necessary

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “experience.”

I have a college-aged son who is looking to graduate in December. He is currently looking for internships for the summer, but is running across a lot of positions where he has to have previous experience. Well, when you’re a college student looking for work in a national or state park, experience is hard to come by. (If you have any connections, hit me up!)

 

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It can be discouraging when you’re looking for a job, but when you’re talking about a relationship with Jesus, it’s a really good thing.

He doesn’t ask us to be religious. He doesn’t expect us to have our act together (whew!) He wants us to come as we are.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yep, that would be the kind of experience we all have, wouldn’t it?

There’s a song playing on Christian radio these days called “Church (Take Me Back)” by Bryan Fowler, Michael Cochrane and Micah Kuiper. The words are very poignant when you’re talking about someone who has wandered away and just wants to get back to the faith that is in their bones. A place they can call home. A place where they are known.

“It’s not a trophy for the winners
It’s a shelter for the sinners
And it’s right where I belong.”

They just want to go to church.

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That’s how it should be with all of us. Church is not supposed to be a haven for the righteous. It’s supposed to be a hospital for the wounded.

Can we just get back to that? Can we be welcoming of everyone who walks in the doors? Because they’re not looking for a place where they have to be perfect; they’re looking for a place where they can be accepted. People just need to heal. Let’s give them that chance.

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2020’s Direction? Be a Blessing

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “direction.”

Each year for the past 3 years I have asked God to give me a word for the new year, something that can help focus my attention on something I need to improve, or something He just wants me to be intentional about. First it was “obey,” then it was “trust,” last year it was “let go,” and this year, the direction He has given me seems to be the word “blessing.”

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What I am garnering in talking to Him about this is that He doesn’t want for me to just focus on all the blessings that He so generously has given me, but rather on being a blessing to others. I see that as sometimes happening in very practical ways.

For instance, I order health and home products from an online company and a couple of friends usually add to my order. This month, I used some reward points to get an item for free. The free item ended up working out best to be the one my friend ordered. So instead of just equaling out the cost and both of us saving, I made the decision to give her the benefit of the free item all her own.

Might not seem like that big of a deal, right? In a sense we’ve both earned the points because we both order, though my portion is usually bigger than hers. But I actually struggled with the decision for a few minutes, until God reminded me of the word He had given me just a few days before. I repeated it to myself, something I figure I’m going to be saying often, over and over: “Be a blessing.”

(Adding just a few minutes past the prescribed 5): The working definition I’m going with for “blessing” is this: To bring people closer to God by providing for a physical, emotional or spiritual need. That’s not a dictionary definition. It’s not one I’ve read anywhere, but it seems to be one that works with what I have learned about blessings. It’s not just the #blessed that people post online about all the things that they have; it has more to do with our relationship with God.

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I will be looking for opportunities to be a blessing this year, and I will also be looking to see how God is drawing me closer to Him through those around me.

Happy New Year!

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Darkness Dispelled

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes from a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “darkness.” 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5 ESV).

It’s Christmas time, obviously. I love it, and I don’t love it so much in some aspects. I hate the commercialism. I love the lights and the pretty decorations. I hate that sacred songs are used to try to sell stuff. Although I do know that many “sacred” songs were taken from old bar songs and other not-so-sacred arenas.

I also know that we have taken other celebrations from the secular, and even pagan, into our stable of Christian holidays. And I’m really OK with that, for the most part, because I know that when God came into my life, He changed me. He brought His light and it dispelled the darkness.

So taking something that was once used for pagan rituals and making it new follows the gospel narrative, does it not? So when what once was a bar song becomes remade into a hymn of praise to God, I think God smiles.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Transformation, that’s what it’s all about.

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So Jesus, coming into the world and bringing the light of life to a dark and musty home for animals, transforms everything He touches. The dirty become clean, the broken become beautiful, the dark become infused with light.

That’s the gospel. That’s the message of Christmas. That’s what the beautiful lights represents.

Darkness is dispelled.

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To Not Know But Be Known

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “unknown.”

It seems that we humans like to have things explained. We want to know the why of things. I recently lost one of my beautiful koi to unknown causes. I just went out one morning to the small pond in my front yard, and the water level was extremely low, and one of the two remaining koi I have was dead.

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There didn’t appear to be any reason whatsoever.

My husband has had ulcerative colitis for almost 30 years. They don’t know why. The origin is unknown.

I have another friend who collapsed one morning and was taken to the ER. They have no idea why it happened.

It’s very frustrating to be on the questioning end of the unknown. No amount of researching or exploring seems to be able to answer our questions.

It’s frustrating with the sudden death of animals, and it’s frustrating with medical situations. We don’t like to settle for not knowing, but sometimes, we just have to. But thanks be to God, we can also accept being completely known by Him.

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Wait For It

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “Wait.” 

out to canaanMy 17-year-old daughter, my husband, and I are reading aloud each night from Jan Karon’s wonderful Mitford series. We’re right now on Out to Canaan and one of the big themes in this particular book is “wait.”

Under nefarious circumstances, several different real estate investment firms from Florida are trying to swoop in and buy up properties in the small, North Carolina town of Mitford. All these properties are meaningful to the town’s beloved Episcopal priest, Father Timothy Kavanagh.

When the mansion of a wealthy deceased parishioner, dear to the town—and Father Tim—needs to be sold and an investment company wants to come in and build a spa, Father Tim says he wants to wait 30 days before making a decision on the way-under-value offer.

When the local bakery owned by a dear friend is for sale because she thinks she needs to move to Tennessee, and she’s unsettled about the whole thing, Father Tim advises her to wait on an offer that is way below her asking price, but the only offer that’s come in.

And then, to top it all off, when his very own parsonage goes on the market because he is retiring—in a year!—a full-price, cash offer causes him great concern, especially when they want an answer immediately. He says he wants no action taken for 10 days.

At this point in the book—we’re on chapter 18—we know what happens with 2 of the 3, but we’re still waiting to hear about the 3rd. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say, waiting is not easy, especially when you’re being pressed for action. Sometimes we just want to jump at what’s right in front of us. But waiting, especially when God is asking us to, is always the best thing to do.

IMG_1858Think about Abraham and Sarah. They got anxious about seeing God’s promise fulfilled, so they took things into their own hands. That did not end up well. (See Genesis 16 for the full story.)

Waiting is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But waiting on God is always good.

On that note, I highly recommend Rebecca Brewster Stevenson’s wonderful book Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God. 

 

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Getting Out the Word of God

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes (I cheated a little today) on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “active.”

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

IMG_1848For more than 30 years, my husband has worked for a ministry called The JESUS Film Project. The movie “JESUS,” taken from the book of Luke, is dubbed into all the major languages of the world, and lots of minor languages as well. The thinking is simple: No one should have to learn another language to understand that God loves them.

For many years the ministry has worked alongside Wycliffe Bible Translators to get Luke translated first so that the movie can then be dubbed into that language and the people can hear and see the story of Jesus in their heart language. (Learn more about it here.)

Lately, I have had the privilege of working in two areas that are helping people hear and understand the Word of God. The first is called her.Bible. This is a project that seeks to record an audio Bible with diverse women’s voices. The producer of this project realized that there was a silent space when it came to audio Bibles in women’s voices. her.Bible has produced the entire New Testament and the books of IMG_1847Proverbs, Ruth and Esther in the Old Testament. They are now seeking funding to be able to continue recording the rest of the Old Testament. My role is to make sure that the recordings are word perfect to the New Living Translation of the Bible. Check out her.Bible here.

The other work I’ve been doing is with a Christian meditation app called Abide. It is the #1 Christian meditation app and has been helping thousands and thousands of people worldwide to meditate on God’s Word, hiding it in their hearts and growing in their faith because of it. I am writing daily meditations and bedtime stories to help people get peaceful sleep, and helping in the editing and planning processes. Oh, and they also have a YouTube channel!

IMG_1849The app is free for the shorter versions of the meditations, and costs less than 11 cents a day for the full version. Learn more about it here and by checking it out in the Google Play or Apple app stores.

The Word of God is active. It is living. It does not return void. Everything that we can do to get His Word into the hands, hearts and ears of people is worth the investment of time and money. The JESUS Film Project has an app, Abide is an app, and her.Bible is working on an app. Won’t you go and check them out? Have questions? Put them in the comments.

 

 

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