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I KNOW Him!

What you need to understand is that while I’m about to reference a Christmas movie, this is not a Christmas post. I feel like I would lose a whole crowd of people if I blogged about Christmas right now. But I do need to use a Christmas movie to get an important point across.

I’m doing a study of 1, 2, and 3 John right now and my lesson for this week had a really neat analogy in it. Have you seen Elf? If not, it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is- go watch it. Elf is actually my older brother’s favorite Christmas movie and I usually end up watching it more than once throughout a Christmas season. It’s just that good.

But the scene below is really the one I want to talk about today so rather than me typing it out, it’s probably better to just watch it:

In 1 John 1 we read this:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

The author of that passage KNEW Jesus. He had seen him, had touched him, heard him. Can you feel his excitement as you read this? There is almost a “Buddy-the-Elf” like eagerness to proclaim Jesus to his readers so that they too could know. He wanted them to know that Jesus isn’t a myth or secret; he is so very real.

I’ve been thinking about this analogy all week. Do I have that same kind of excitement? Whenever Jesus is proclaimed does my heart cry out, “HEY! I KNOW HIM!!” Buddy was so sure of Santa and loved him so much that he seriously couldn’t contain his excitement- am I that way about my Savior?

But more than that, do I follow the example set by John? While I’m not an eyewitness to Jesus during his time on earth, I have a testimony about him that shouldn’t be kept to myself. Words of truth and love to share with the world. I hold the truth about who Christ is, what he has done, and how he’s worked in my life. I am an eyewitness to those things.

Like John, that I will proclaim.

P.S. My current devotion is Abide by Jen Wilken. I owe the analogy to her! Highly recommend the study!

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Devotions

 

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A Part of HIStory

This weekend I had an incredible, terrifying opportunity. I was asked to do devotions for a ladies retreat and after a lot of prayer I said yes (Hey, it fit the criteria!) But I was pretty nervous because (believe it or not), I’m not much for public speaking. No one at my church thinks that is true because I make announcements all the time but they are too far away to see how much I’m shaking! I write, I don’t speak.

So I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to do these devotions on. I had 5 sessions and a varied audience. I asked several people what they thought and I kept getting the same answer- tell your story. So that’s what I did.

I told the story of my life and how God’s grace was woven throughout it. Pretty much what I’ve written on here. I was amazed at the response and the conversations that I was able to have simply because I opened up.

And at some point it hit me- that’s something people crave: openness. We really have a desire to be honest and open with our struggles but so many things prevent that! Either from bad past experiences, fear of judgment or consequences, or simply a fear of being vulnerable to other people, we hide things that we are struggling with.

And yet this weekend, I found a wonderful group of ladies affected by my story and willing to open up to me. It takes one person sometimes to kick down the walls and find the common things we all struggle with. One person being honest for everyone else to be honest as well.

Through that simple honesty, I was able to share Christ. I didn’t open up any theological book for my devotions this weekend. I didn’t need to. I needed my Bible and my Backstory (like the alliteration there?) and it was simple and effective. Every believer has that. You don’t need a seminary degree to share the gospel with others. All you need is a willingness to be obedient and do it.

I’m glad I said yes this time. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in evangelism

 

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Retelling the Story

Can I just say that this whole Reading Through the Bible in 90 Days thing is amazing and crazy at the same time?? Some days, I really don’t. like. it. For instance, I don’t like reading 24 Psalms in one day. I LOVE the Psalms and I like to savor each one as I read them. (On the up side of that, I actually learned to somewhat distinguish writing styles. It was crazy. I could tell when we switched back to David’s writing before I even looked it up! So that was a bonus.)

But other days, I really love it. The whole perspective is different. I’ve read through the Bible in a year at least 6 times before but this is SO much more that the picture changes. You get a broader view of what’s going on and how God is working.

When I was reading in Deuteronomy, I initially was a little frustrated. Which, unfortunately, is normal because it always feels redundant to me. I mean, I feel like Moses LITERALLY just told the Israelites all of this in the two previous books and now I’m reading it again almost word for word. Whhhyyyy?? I get the point! Let’s move on!

But this time, as I read it, two phrases stuck out because they came up over and over again. The first is:

Take Care.

Moses knew that obedience to God’s commandments wouldn’t just happen. He told the Israelites to be careful, to take care to follow God’s law. This is actually a theme all throughout Scripture, not just something from Moses. Psalms talks about guarding your heart and being careful. Ephesians says to look carefully how you walk. God’s jealous, you know. He needs to be first and won’t let anything else take that place. It was a reminder to me to watch my thoughts and actions and to be more faithful to my Lord.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Deut. 4:7

Which brings me to the next word:

Remember.

Moses was desperate for the people to remember what God had done for them! He was retelling their own history for them. He understood the importance of recounting God’s acts and what he expects from his people. He knew that as humans, we forget.

And you know what? Sometimes I need that. And you do too. Sometimes we need a friend to sit across from us and say, “Look! Don’t you remember what God did for you here? See how he’s working right now??! Isn’t he amazing?!”

We need to do for each other what Moses was doing for his people. We need to retell that amazing story of God’s work! We need to take care, keep our souls diligently, and not forget.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2018 in Devotions

 

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When You Don’t Feel Like It

Warning: Honesty Alert! This post may contain elements of honesty that are unfamiliar to regular church goers and may come as a shock to you.

When I was about 10-11 years old, I started doing devotions on my own. My family did devos together but suddenly one day, I decided to do my own also. I grabbed my Bible and my Lisa Frank notebook, sat down, and started reading. I read through Genesis in 5 days. If you don’t know, Genesis has 50 chapters. Not bad for a kid, right? I loved it and was hungry to learn about the Lord and read his Word for myself. So I kept going. For years, I read through the Bible in a year and in multiple versions to compare them. In the last two years my devotions have taken more of a meditation aspect.

But recently, I simply haven’t felt like doing devotions. (crowd murmurs) I really don’t think this is an uncommon problem in the church; I just think that most people aren’t willing to admit it. After all, it sounds terrible. How can you not want to spend time with your Savior, the One who gave his life for you?? I’ve been a part of my Young Adult group for over 4 years now and every week there is always at least one person who asks for prayer that they make their devotions a priority. But they make it sound like their schedule is so busy and they just need to set aside the time. I certainly have the time; but no motivation.

So what do you do? What do you do when you wake up and literally don’t want to do your devotions or pray? I think the temptation is that you shouldn’t force yourself to read God’s Word. Tell me you haven’t said to yourself before, “Well I’m not going to get anything out of it anyway.” And we use that as an excuse to go about our day without spending time with Jesus.

Let me ask you something. Do you believe that God’s Word is living and active? Do you believe it can work even when your heart is cold? Trust me, I know the heartbreaking feeling. You sit down with your Bible and feel nothing. You don’t want to read it, you don’t want to talk with the Lord. But you want to have the desire to do them!! I have literally sat and prayed, “God, I don’t want to do my devotions today and I am so sorry. Please forgive me for having a cold heart. Please, PLEASE, help me to learn something from your Word anyway.”

I think there are benefits to doing your devotions, even if you don’t feel like you have an amazing time with the Lord every day. I also don’t believe our faith is based on emotions (thank the Lord!) and if you decide not to do your devos just because you don’t think you will learn anything, you’re probably playing right into Satan’s hand. It seems to me that most of the things that are good for us in life are difficult at some point and take work, such as exercise, healthy eating, or perfecting any skill.

So my advice (to myself) is this: don’t give up! It may be hard for a while. It may feel forced for a while. No matter what you are feeling, tell God about it. Pray, pray, pray for God to give you a fierce love for him that drives and motivates you!

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Devotions

 

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Deep Thoughts on Coloring Pages

I am not a creative person. There are probably several people reading this right now who would disagree with that statement but I know a crafty person when I see one and I am definitely NOT one of them. You know those people that look at something on Pinterest and actually MAKE it?! I don’t have those skills unless someone is holding my hand every step of the way.

However, with the ability to read mysteriously gone for now, I’ve had to get a little creative with my devotions and they have taken a mildly crafty turn. I’ve been using coloring books. Yup, you read that right. The person who loves a good theology book is using coloring books for her devotion time. Ironic, no? I’m sure you’ve seen them- the “Adult” coloring books that are supposed to help you relax (unless you are Type A) and these ones have Bible verses on them. So I color a page and meditate on the verse while doing so. It usually takes me at least two days per page because of the detail.

The other day, I finished up this page:

img-5513.jpgAs I looked over the completed page, I chuckled to myself about how much time I had spent on that border versus the words. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a lot of times, that is exactly what we do with the gospel. The gospel is so simple that a child is able to understand it but we try to crowd it with extra stuff sometimes and spend way more time on that when we should just be focused on Christ.

You can find other analogies too. What if that center box represents Scripture and the border is everything else in your life. What do you spend more time and energy on? What is your focus on? Do you allow the busyness of life to crowd out your time spent with the Lord or is it the other way around?

All that to say, I guess you can learn stuff from crafts. Well, I don’t really think I learned it from the coloring book… 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in Devotions

 

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When Dreams Fall

I always thought that dreams had to be something big. Like a dream job, how you want to change the world, or the perfect marriage. But I’ve recently learned that dreams can come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t always have to be something life-altering. Sometimes, a dream can be something that is small but important to you. Actually, I think that is really the key: importance.

How did I come to this conclusion? Hmmm…when I first tried to understand the idea of not working for a while and needing to rest, I hated the thought. Mostly, because I am not very good at resting. I like to be doing stuff and I like to be working so the idea of giving that up frustrated me. But suddenly a wonderful thought popped into my head and slowly a dream started to form. I started to envision all this time that I would have to study God’s Word and do my devotions. I thought about quiet time without time restraints and unlimited hours to read great books and really get closer with the Lord. And I got a little excited. I ordered a few new books and stared at them, waiting for the time to come where I would finally have time to read them.

And the time has come. Do you know what? I can’t read. This has happened before, right when I first started having seizures, but I find myself really unable to read for any length of time. My eyes jump from line to line and the amount of focus it takes to read is so incredible that my head starts to pound and I get worn out very quickly. Everyone tells me to get audio books but I am the worst auditory learner IN. THE. WORLD. It’s like background noise and I just tone it out. (I’m sure some of you are thinking I’m crazy but maybe you don’t like reading at all so picture something else. 🙂 )

In my disappointment, my heart and mind cry out “Lord! How can this be good?! How can it be good for me to not be able to read your Word? I don’t understand!”

And you know what? I will honestly say that I don’t know the answer to that question. But I know that I don’t need to know all the answers and I can also honestly say with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” I read this simple quote the other day and I feel like I should write it down and put it up all over my apartment so I don’t forget it! It said, “And if not, He is still good” Just let that sink in. You can put whatever thoughts you want in there and it won’t matter:

He. is. still. good.

What a beautiful thing to rest in.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in contentment

 

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A Buffet Line

Buffet restaurants are my favorites and I also dislike them. Ha! They are my favorites because I don’t have to decide and order and there are tons of options but I don’t like them because I usually only eat one plate of food so I don’t really feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of the whole deal. But still, tell me you are going to Golden Corral and I’ll be all in.

As I was doing my devotions this morning, it hit me that sometimes we treat God’s Word like a buffet line. Like there are tons of options and we get to pick what we want. There is a particular reason that this thought came to me today. Right now I am memorizing 1 Peter 2 and I’m also studying 1 Peter which is pretty handy. As I was working on memorizing this morning, it occurred to me that there is one very popular verse (actually partial verse) in the section I was working on, but all the verses around it are often left out. Look:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:13-17

So if you just read over that, maybe you found the verse I’m talking about: “Live as people who are free..” Everyone loves that verse. You see it on t-shirts and mugs, and you often hear sermons preached on it. People love freedom. But do they enjoy the part that says not to use your freedom as a cover-up for evil? Do they like the verses above it and below it that tell them to honor the emperor or in our case, president? Ouch. Threw that one in there, didn’t I?

Let me travel a little further along the lines of verse 13. It says to be subject or rather, be obedient to the government, right? Now this is assuming that the government is not telling you to do something against God’s Word. Can I bring up a touchy issue? Oh good. I was going to anyway. When I purchased a gun a while back, I had numerous of my believing friends tell me that I needed to get two of them. Very confused, I would ask why I needed to have two and the response was always the same. So that when guns are outlawed and the government comes to take them, you can give one and keep the other but it looks like you have given yours.

Besides the obvious deceit in this action (which would go against the first verse in 1 Peter 2), can someone point me to a verse in the Bible where God grants us the right to own a gun? I can’t think of any verses but I can think of several that tell us to obey those in authority over us because God has placed them there. I can point to a verse that tell us to be subject for the Lord’s sake to our government.

Perhaps you are one of those people that I talked to and maybe you are upset with me right now. I would love to have a good conversation with you and hear your side of things. I’m not trying to be better than anyone here but I am trying to honestly evaluate what God has told us in his Word. And I am trying to live by it.

Because as much as I love buffets, his Word isn’t optional.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Devotions

 

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