Posted in Faith Nuggets

Missed Beauty

The country of Jordan has a desert climate. For anywhere from seven to ten months out of every year, no rain falls, and the country is covered in a dull, dusty brown.

But twice a year, a miracle happens. Right after the first rains arrive in October or November, the mountains of north Jordan turn a beautiful, lush green. Clover and grass sprout everywhere and remain for a couple of short weeks until the winter chill set in. Then, it all dies again and turns a wintry gray until spring rolls around. Spring, like fall, is short-lived, those few weeks bring the most beautiful time of the year. Sometime in early March, as the warmth returns and the rains begin to recede, the whole countryside erupts into a tapestry of red, yellow, and lavender as the wildflowers bloom. Intermingled throughout it all is the deep purple of the national flower of Jordan, the wild Gilead iris, commonly grouped with black irises.

I grew up in those hills of north Jordan, and each spring we would take a day and head out to pick wildflowers – especially poppies and irises. We would come back with a trunkload of flowers to brighten the next few weeks. I loved the poppies, but there was nothing like the deep, royal purple of those irises.

When I moved back to Arkansas, I still saw irises in the spring. Blue and lavender and white and yellow and all sorts of beautiful colors sprouted in gardens and yards everywhere I looked. But, I almost never saw anything dark like those Gilead irises.

Then, several years ago, my mother-in-law surprised me with the gift of several black iris bulbs. I was so excited! Doug and I went and bought a pot and some good soil, and we planted those irises according to the best directions we could find.

Then, we waited. The green leaves sprouted, but no flowers appeared. The next year we moved the pot to a more sunny location. Still no luck.

The year after that we were in a new home, so I transplanted the bulbs into a spot already populated with flourishing irises. I watched and waited. The established irises bloomed beautifully, but my transplanted bulbs still produced nothing more than tall, strong leaves.

I felt so disappointed. And in my disappointment, I almost missed the beauty that did exist before me.

There is something regal about a cluster of irises. They stand tall, and their petals flow with amazing grace and perfect shading. And in my yard – for the first time ever – I had a whole patch of beautiful light purple and blue flowers. But, because they were not the dark purple I’d hoped for, I almost disregarded them.

I am ashamed to admit that the dismissal of those not-quite-dark-enough purple irises reflects the way I dismiss God’s gifts so very often. I am a planner. A plotter. The type of person who takes possible scenarios and plays them out to logical conclusions. In the process, I establish what I think should happen.

Ironically enough, God rarely, if ever, works the way my daydreams try to dictate!

When His reality – His amazing gifts – fall into place, I far too often get pouty because they are not what I wanted to see. I miss the beauty of His provision because I’m staring at the flowerless leaves of my expectations. My demands, if I am honest.

This spring, I’m watching all of my irises. We have had a sunny spring, but cold is expected. It is possible none of my flowers will bloom this year because of the freeze. Or, because they have been slower to sprout than the established irises, it might be that my black bulbs are the only ones that flower. Who knows? What I do know is that I intend to soak in whatever God sends. I will choose to not miss the beauty He sets before me, whatever the color.

Posted in Faith Nuggets

Worth It!

My son has loved Legos since before he could walk or talk. He had a funny way of showing his passion at that age. We would build something for him, and he would take great delight in tearing it down and begging us to build something else for him to destroy. I honestly believe that his excitement for destruction lay in the realization that he could watch us build again and again, because he anxiously awaited the day he could build for himself.

At age seven, after discovering several fun Lego sets and kits, my son learned that there was such a thing as Lego robotics. Honestly, he had no clue what that entailed. He only knew that “Lego” and “robot” were combined in the same concept. He was hooked.

My husband knew much more about it, having learned that the Lego Education line encouraged kids to learn programming and electronics skills ranging from the most basic to highly involved. He also knew that our son was nowhere near ready for that kind of challenge. But, he encouraged Steven to start saving, confident that by the time he reached his financial goal, he would also be ready for the challenges involved.

For the next three years, Steven saved diligently. Every now and then he would dip into those savings for a major purchase. A bicycle to replace the one he’d outgrown. A mechanical Lego cargo plane to help him learn a little bit about the difference between his familiar Lego creations and the Mindstorms kit he was saving up for. Other little things here and there. But finally, shortly after Christmas this year, he had enough money saved up. The mailman delivered Steven’s order just a few weeks ago, and he has already learned incredible things! Pacing himself, he is discovering what he needs to learn bit by bit to achieve ultimate programming goals.

Steven recently asked me how he got started saving in the first place. “You heard the words ‘Lego’ and ‘robot’ and were hooked!” I explained to him that he had no idea how big of a deal this kit was. Doug and I did, but he did not. All he knew was that it was worth the time and effort it would take to save up for it. He knew it was worth the sacrifice of not being able to spend money whenever he wanted. Even as a young child, he grasped that this was important to him – without even knowing just how far it would take him.

Even now, the big picture is too great for him. He can only focus on one thing at a time, learning what is right in front of him. But, he is investing in the little tasks now because he knows that opportunities he can’t even imagine are still ahead of him if he is diligent.

Is that not the perfect picture of salvation and faith? How many of us truly knew what we were grabbing hold of when we first declared that Jesus had become Lord of our lives? How many of us knew the challenges and promises bound up in that moment? My guess is that none of us truly grasped the depths of our new life. We just knew it was worth it. It was something we desperately hungered for, and we were willing to go wherever it took us.

Oh how amazing to know that I do not have to grasp the fullness of what I have received from Christ in order to live in His will. He understands for me! He knows my present, my capabilities, my future, and the promise of all that lies ahead. He knows the challenges and the joys, and He is ready and able to walk through each one of them with me when I am ready. He is guiding me through each step so I will not reach a goal too soon, nor will I have to wait too long. Every moment of His plan for my life is laid out in His wisdom and perfection. When I’m ready for the next challenge, He will lay it before me. In the meantime, I can trust Him with the one in my path at this moment. I don’t have to have it all figured out to progress through His will. I just have to do the task set before me right now and watch as the little goals along the way change, grow, and evolve while I conquer each hurdle.

Even as a young child, Steven knew the kit was worth his time and energy. Now he knows each step of learning is worthwhile. And, in faith, both of us know the same thing is true in our spiritual walk.

It’s worth it!

Posted in Faith Nuggets

When It’s Bad

One afternoon recently, I sat down to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And none of it was usable.

You might be thinking right about now that I am probably being overly harsh and self-critical. But, it really did all need to be rewritten or reworked. I had some decent ideas, but when I tried to flesh them out, they just would not come together. The thoughts were scattered and incomplete. None of it was even in the “oh, this was mediocre, but at least I can still publish it” category.

But it was still writing. It was still trying. It was still practicing my writing muscles. And, finally, after several hours of thought, prayer, and effort, the work led to some solid ideas that could be more easily developed in later writing sessions.

Sometimes when I try to push the writing, things just get worse and worse. I lose whatever momentum I had, and I just become frustrated. But more frequently, if I keep trying – even if hours of my efforts end up in the “trash” – I come around to something useful and productive.

It’s against my nature to believe that something “bad” is actually productive. If it’s going to end up in the trash can, is it not a waste of time? Should I not be just giving up and pouring my effort into something more constantly productive?

That’s my inclination. And it’s a dangerous one, because I have never been able to start off with only good results. I was a toddler once who had to fall quite a few times before I walked successfully and consistently. I had to say things the wrong way before I could learn to speak properly. And, if you could only see some of my high school papers! Mom “bled” them, marking them up with a red pen until there was more red than black on the page. Ouch! But, by my senior year, the red had become much less prominent.

The failures – the bad work – morphed into successes.

I can’t help but connect this to the idea of spiritual growth. In every stage of this life, we start on the immature, failing end of faith. Yet, where else would we start? Many of the things I struggled with twenty years ago are no longer an issue. But I wouldn’t be hashing through today’s issues if it had not been for the Holy Spirit’s work in me then. There were many failures. Many attempts that ended up with me in a heap on the floor crying out to God for help. For His hand. For His mercy. For His peace. For His strength. If not for those times, would I know Him like I do today?

Sometimes, life is just bad. Circumstances hammer us. Our failures pile up. The choices of others break us.

But if we do not experience those seasons of life, how will we see the Holy Spirit produce faith in us? How will we grow closer to our Lord and Savior? The bad paves the way for Him to work for good in and through us.

Does if feel as if everything you put your hand to meets with resistance or failure? Keep working, my friend. Keep praying. Keep seeking His perfect will and wisdom. He will use this to make something good in you. What a glorious promise!

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Scripture

Stepping Out

In Matthew 14, we find the familiar story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. Typically when we read this passage, we focus on Peter’s faltering. He does fine until he notices the waves, then he begins to sink. Jesus gently rebukes him for doubting, and then they return to the boat.

But recently I stopped long before Peter ever started to sink. I got stuck on the first part of the story.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14:28-29.

Let’s put aside the sinking part for a moment and think about the significance of these verses. How often do we really stop to look at what Peter is asking for here? The disciples see what they think is a ghost. Turns out, it’s Jesus. Jesus reassures them and let’s them know it’s Him. Then Peter asks Jesus to call him out onto the water with Him.

Does that not seem insane to anyone else?

I have some friends who are risk takers. They love dares and challenges and will jump at any of them. Perhaps they would be more like Peter. But, not me. I wouldn’t even think to ask Jesus to call me to join Him. I’d be waiting in the boat, overawed at the miracle happening before my eyes. I would never even think to join Jesus on the stormy seas. But Peter did. He was so excited to see Jesus that he wanted to be right out there with Him.

Oh, the love Peter had for Jesus! His reckless personality often got him into trouble, but he always wanted to be right their with his Lord. Even on this wild and windy night. And, as long as he had his eyes on Jesus, being right there with Jesus was all he could think about.

I doubt I will ever be the risk taker Peter was. But, I can’t help but wonder what strange and crazy things might pop into my head if I focused on Jesus like Peter in those first moments on the stormy sea. We point out his faltering and sinking, but could trying and sinking possibly be better than never trying at all?

Obviously, it would be best if I saw Jesus and Jesus alone and completely blocked out the wind and waves. Every time. Instead, even though I see Him, I never lose sight of the circumstances and challenges all around me. I never do get out of the boat and walk to Him. I just wait for Him to come to me.

Maybe, instead of pointing out Peter’s failure on the sea, I need to realize my own failure to get even that far. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to follow his example and step out on the waves, eyes fixed on Jesus.

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Life

Fulfilling True Religion

What comes to mind when you think of your “Christian duty”?

We can all probably come up with a long list of ways we are pressured to do our duty by the world around us, whether our society or the church as a whole. Love everyone and do not judge are two common, general ones. But, there are also several ways to serve that are encouraged and emphasized within the body of believers.

– Be a foster parent and/or adopt. There are thousands of children who have nowhere to go, and it is our Christian duty to care for orphans in their distress.
– Give to a long list of ministries. All of them are good, and they are worthy of your money.
– Serve in a homeless shelter or food kitchen, or find some other way to volunteer in a way that ministers to the less fortunate.
– Engage in prison ministry.
– Go on a short-term mission trip.
– Move to the mission field, whether it be among a specific social group in your own country or overseas.

I’ll stop there, but the list could go on and on and on. You are probably already thinking of several to add to the list, whether they are services you engage in or some you have been “encouraged” to be a part of.

Now, before I go any further, let me just emphasize that we are all called to serve. In some way, shape, form, or fashion, we are meant to surrender our all to the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming His bondservants and serving for His glory. That means sacrifice. That means a measure of discomfort. That means being stretched and grown.

But the truth is that none of us was meant to serve in every single capacity. We have to prayerfully select what ministry to support with the finances God has entrusted to us because we do not have limitless cash flow. There are times when we cannot open our homes to foster care or adoption simply because God is using our homes or our families for other purposes. And just because we are serving in a ministry that is not widely visible does not mean we have to also step into a food kitchen or a prison just because that is the currently socially acceptable means of service within the culture or our Christian communities.

Yet, we are often made to feel guilty because we do not share the passion of others around us. We may quietly give financially to numerous ministries, but we’re not going on mission trips. Or, we may serve weekly in a crisis pregnancy center, but we’ve never adopted a child. Or our ministry might look completely different, not matching the norm in any way. Yet we feel torn in a gazillion different directions and fear we are not doing enough simply because we do not respond to every passion.

I will go ahead and dare to say that sometimes “Christian duty” is trumped by the way God is currently using our energies.

Please hear me when I say that I am not giving any of us license to make excuses. If we find ourselves constantly making excuses for why we are not actively participating in an area of service, then we are being disobedient. Plain and simple. But, sometimes we don’t have to offer the excuses because we know in our hearts we are right where God has told us to be. We are serving Him in obedience, even when it does not fit into the picture of service that society or our community has created. They might not understand, but that’s okay. We can just say no, knowing – because we have an active relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ – that we are living and acting in full submission to His lordship.

My friend, the biblical commands to give, serve, care for orphans and widows in their distress, and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth will not always fit into a societal mold. Sometimes it will look strange. Sometimes it will be odd. Sometimes it will be misunderstood. And, it might be that no one else shares our passion; that we have to settle for being supported in faith by the community rather than actively working alongside others in our community. Our job is not to fit a mold. Our job is to serve in obedience. Our job is to make sure that we are actively responding to God’s instruction, not society’s expectations.

What does your obedience look like today?

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Scripture

My Refuge

Do you ever feel like David, Asaph, and the other psalmists?

Everything is falling apart. Everyone is out to get me. There is no hope. The wicked seem to be winning. The worst seems to be happening. There’s no way out.

Psalm 73 is one of those songs. The wicked have no suffering. They always win and succeed while the godly suffer. I’m sure Asaph is not the only God-fearing person to utter words like those found in Psalm 73:13-14:

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning. (NASB)

It’s not so much that we feel that our salvation is in vain. We just see blatant sinners succeed time and time again. Criminals go unpunished while innocents suffer. Corrupt businesses triumph over those that try to remain pure in their practices. Those who blatantly disregard God find success after success while those who seek to serve Him with all their hearts struggle day in and day out just to make ends meet.

From an earth-bound perspective, submission to Christ seems to be a very negative thing sometimes. And it’s not going to get any better. Our culture is pushing against the Lord with increasing rapidity.

But, Psalm 73 doesn’t end with verse 14. Instead, it goes on. Verses 16 and 17 stand out most profoundly to me:

When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. (emphasis mine)

Until I came into the sanctuary of God…

How often am I beat down because I refuse to enter the Lord’s presence? I neglect to bring my discouragements, frustrations, and fears before Him. But as soon as I do, my perspective cannot help but change. I cannot help but see every aspect of this world in light of eternity.

Once again, I can’t help but be hammered with this truth: this life is just a blip in eternity. It’s a single point on a line which, by definition, stretches infinitely in both directions. All of history and all that remains of this earth’s time fits into that single point. Barely a dot. But, that dot is all I see sometimes. Living in the middle of that dot, it looms all around me, overwhelming my sight. I forget eternity. I forget what’s beyond. And I lose sight of what’s true.

So, what is true? That I will move beyond this dot into an eternity in the glorious presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they – those who seem to be succeeding now – will suffer instead. Their successes will mean nothing. In truth, they mean nothing now because they are empty. There is no real satisfaction in them. They only lead to more hunger. More striving. More missing something they can’t identify.

No matter what, though, I can always say…

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. (Ps 73:28)

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Life

Provision

Back in July, our van died. After 235,000 miles, it went kaput. It wasn’t a sudden thing – we knew it was dying. But one day, I needed to go somewhere. So I hopped in and cranked it up. It did not even make it to the end of our short street before it died for the last time, never to truly crank again for more than few brief moments.

If this had happened while we lived out in the country, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. We rarely needed both vehicles there. But here in the city, it’s different. So, I thought for sure God would quickly either fix the van or provide another vehicle.

I was wrong.

Meanwhile, a precious friend’s car died on Christmas Eve. Within a short time, God had provided her a replacement, ensuring that she would not be in a one-vehicle situation. I’m chuckling a bit right now, because I had the thought for this post long before my friend’s vehicle died. But, only now, after seeing how God has worked differently in very similar situations, is all of this fleshing out in my head. I love how God does that!

So, what is the difference in our situations? Well, my friend and I have very different lives and dynamics, and I can give you practical ways that she really needed that vehicle. But, I can point out practical ways we need another one, as well. The difference does not come down to practicalities. It comes down to one thing: God’s will.

God’s provision has nothing to do with my concept of need or desire. If it did, I can point out a myriad of situations that would have had different resolutions – not just in my life, but in the lives of people dear to me who have endured grief and suffering far beyond my piddly concept of needing a second vehicle. No, God’s provision is not dependent on my perception. Instead, it is dependent upon His will.

That may seem harsh, especially in light of grief and pain. But, that is because we view it with our narrow vision.

On New Year’s Day, my mother posted this greeting on Facebook:

I love TIMELINES……… if you put 2016 on a timeline of just the past 10,000 years, it’s barely a BLIP! And, if those 10,000 years are put on a hypothetical timeline of eternity, they wouldn’t even register. 2017 will come and go before we know it, so make the best of it! It will be gone before we know it. HAPPY NEW BLIP!!!

Oh how I love that! It reminds us that God sees eternity. And His provision is based on our lives for eternity. It’s not about what will simply grow me or make me useful during my short blip of a life here on earth. It’s about what will mold me into what I am supposed to be in light of eternity. It is about how what He does through me right here and right now will contribute to drawing all men to Himself…for the sake of their eternal souls.

The most baffling reality of this is that my needs, and God’s provisions for them, do have relevance for eternity. My little life. My little needs. My little journey in this little blip are relevant enough to God that He works His will in and through me today. He chooses to replace my friend’s vehicle but not my van because there is relevance. How incredibly humbling and amazing!

Sometimes I see a glimpse of that relevance. Sometimes I can point to some semblance of a “why.” But I never see the full scope of what He sees. What He knows. Why He works the way He does. But He’s the God of the universe. The King above all kings and Lord above all lords. He’s the utmost Ruler. Yet He knows me, and He considers the little details of my life – the details He works in daily – to be relevant to eternity.

Wow.

Lord, may I be reminded of this truth every time I doubt Your provision. Your provision is in line with eternity. And I am overwhelmed that I get to be a part of that.

Posted in Around the Web, Christmas, Faith Nuggets

What is Advent, Anyway?

‘Tis the season when Advent books and products are everywhere! There are Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, Advent devotionals, Advent Bible studies . . . and the list goes on. But, what exactly is Advent? What does it mean?

Advent Defined

In one of his devotionals, my husband describes Advent as “the idea of coming, of expectation.” Christmas celebrates the incredible moment when Jesus, King of creation, left royalty beyond our imagining to come live as the humblest of humans — all for the sake of mankind’s redemption. Our redemption!

When we celebrate Advent, we do more than simply set aside one day to wish Jesus, “Happy birthday!” We reset our focus over the course of the whole season. Nothing can make Christmas more precious than an increased awareness of what Jesus really accomplished by taking on our flesh.

When is Advent?

Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and runs through Christmas Day. Because of this, the season can vary in length from twenty-three to thirty-five days, depending on which day of the week Christmas falls.*

Some devotionals and celebration plans also include the Twelve Days of Christmas. No, that is not just an annoying Christmas song! It is, in fact, the time between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6), the day traditionally set aside to honor the Magi’s visit.

How Does One Celebrate Advent?

The celebration is about as varied as the people who celebrate. As long as you are diving into the spiritual significance of the incarnation of Christ on a weekly or daily basis, you are celebrating Advent. But, just in case you need a little more guidance, here are a few suggestions:

Find a Devotional

Advent devotionals range in style from weekly (each of the four Sundays and Christmas Day) to daily. Strive to find one that not only meets your schedule but also has content to appropriately meet your family’s needs.

Light Candles on an Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths, like devotionals, come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. But all Advent wreaths have at least four candle holders. The idea is to light one candle each Sunday of Advent. A fifth, larger candle should fit in the center of the wreath (some wreaths will have a candle holder for the middle). This is the “Jesus” candle, intended to be lit either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Each Sunday, light one candle. If you have chosen an Advent devotional, read the entry for that Sunday. If not, choose a focus for the season and discuss a portion of it each time you light a candle. Here are some ideas:

  • people of Advent such as the shepherds, Magi, angels, and Mary & Joseph; or Zacharias & Elizabeth, the innkeeper, Anna, and Simeon
  • Messianic prophecies
  • topics such as love, joy, peace, and patience, discussing how they relate to Christmas

Use an Advent Calendar

There are Advent calendars designed to open windows to cute pictures each day, create a manger scene, decorate a tree, discover a surprise, play music, and on and on! Whether you choose one of these or create one yourself, let this be more than just a daily countdown to Christmas Day. Let it be a time when you stop in the midst of the busy season and honestly refocus on the true reason for celebration.

Sing a Carol a Day

There are enough fantastic Christmas songs to pick one a day throughout Advent. Every day, sing or listen to one Christ-centered Christmas song as a family. Then discuss what that song communicates about Jesus and his first coming. (This can also take the place of a topical discussion when lighting the Advent wreath.)

In the words of my pastor husband, “You cannot fail Advent.” As long as you take a moment weekly or daily to step back and consider the truth of Christmas, you are appropriately celebrating Advent.

*This year, 2016, Advent began on Sunday, November 27, and runs a full five weeks. But, it’s not too late to start! 

This article was originally written for Well Planned Gal and published on hedua.com, now wellplannedgal.com. Reprinted with permission.

Posted in Faith Nuggets

Willing to Work

I find it funny when people say, “Oh, I could never do _________. I’m not ________ enough.” Go ahead – just fill in the blank. You just might be able to remember at time when you have said just such a thing. I know I can!
As is frequently the case, God has used both life in general and my children specifically to make me completely rethink my “I could never” statements. Take my oldest child, for instance.

No Outlet

For years I have marveled at the stories floating around in my daughter’s mind. She is so incredibly creative, and she has concocted entire worlds in her imagination. For years, I tried to figure out how to get those worlds out of her head and into a form that she could share with others. When she was little, I had this notion that, as soon as she learned how to write, she would be able to keep a journal and just write everything out. When she finally did learn how to write, however, it didn’t take long for that notion to crumble.

The physical act of writing proved to be excruciatingly tedious for my sweet girl. She could draw all day long. But handwriting was a completely different story. She hated it. And I finally accepted the fact that my sweet girl would never write. She finally accepted that it was okay to hate writing, even though she needed to learn the basic skills involved. But when it came to those stories, I was determined to not give up. We would just have to get them on paper another way.

Discovery

Fast forward a few years. As my daughter grew older, she learned a new skill: typing. Or keyboarding. Or whatever it is called these days. She learned how to push the letter keys on a computer keyboard in quick succession to cause letters and words to appear on a computer screen, an action that opened a whole new world to her. And created quite a shock for her mother!

First, she wrote a nearly perfect book report without help. Then, single-paragraph writing assignments for school became easier for her.

But it didn’t stop there! I nearly fell out of my chair the day she said, “Mommy, I got to write three paragraphs in language arts today!”

Got to? GOT to? Whatever happened to “had to”?

It got better still. She followed that statement up with, “It was fun!” I almost cried.

A few days later, I walked into the living room to see her propped up before a laptop, tapping away.

“What are you doing?” I asked, curious.

“Writing a fantasy novel,” came her matter-of-fact reply. Later than night she asked me to help her set a daily writing goal. Yes, that time I really did cry.

Work for It!

My child thought she hated to write. But she discovered she just needed the right avenue through which to do it.
All of us have dreams and talents. But, we often find ourselves limited when it comes to actually turning those dreams into reality or utilizing those talents. So, we hole up. Or give up. Or push it all down. We neglect to fight for those dreams. We refuse to push for ways to express our talents. We are unwilling to think outside the box.
Scripture is full of evidence that God is not limited by normalcy. Story after story reveals how He worked creatively, uniquely, and unexpectedly in the lives of biblical heroes. The incredible reality is that you and I are no different. Were our talents and dreams to be fulfilled through normal ways, how often would we give glory to our Creator? But, when He makes us turn to Him for a creative solution, He is glorified as the world watches what only He can accomplish through us.

I have been privileged to read some of my daughter’s novel and peruse several related short stories. It is so obvious to me that God made no mistake when He created an incredibly imaginative child who hated to write. She had to blossom. She had to push. And now, she loves writing more than she ever would have had she not had to work for it.
What are you willing to work for?

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Scripture

Who Are My Counselors?

Recently, I was reading 2 Samuel 10 in my daily Bible reading. What a sad story. Because King Hanun listened to the bad advice of his princes, a series of battles followed that cost hundreds of lives.
I can’t help but compare this to Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12 or King Xerxes and Haman in the book of Esther. Even Absalom in 2 Samuel 17 is an example of following bad advice, even though we all cheer when we read his story, knowing that Hushai’s counsel was actually intentionally given to save the lives of King David and the people with him.
Considering all of these stories, I can’t help but come to a couple of conclusions.

Counsel is important.

There’s a lot of cockiness wrapped up in every one of the personalities mentioned above. Yet, each one of them sought counsel. Even with their high opinion of themselves, they still sought out the counsel of others.
Most of what we observe in the character and behavior of these men is not admirable, and we should not strive to emulate it. Except in this one thing. Like them, we should never be too proud to seek counsel.
But, we should remember a second reality that these men, sadly, ignored.

Our choice in counsel is even more important.

This is where I’ve been parked lately. How do I choose my counselors? Do I seek out those who will simply support what I already want to do? Do I look for the popular or easy to follow advice? Or do I see advisers that will steer me well, regardless of my desires?

The wise choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, so often that wisdom does not flow through into our practical choices. We instead surround ourselves with advisers and counselors who advise based on practical ideas or pros and cons or what they see will make us happiest or what will keep our relationships and status quo running smoothly.
The advice we need has nothing to do with the most practical option or even our happiness or relationships. It has to do with the will of the Lord. In fact, far more often than not, His will seems to completely contradict the practical and “obvious” route. His will involves trust even when the path is not clear. It involves obedience even when the results seem painful.
Godly advisers will help us know how to trust and obey. Are those the counselors we seek?