Category Archives: God

Lightnin’ Bugs – Here a Moment and Then Gone – as the Summer

BLog - Lightning BugsPhoto Credit: www.strangesounds.org

Catching lightnin’ bugs (as we called them in Georgia) was a grand part of our summers growing up. We never got tired of it. Sometimes, mom would say “Just enjoy them”, and we put the jars away.  My brothers and I would play outside in the hot sticky evenings. We played until it was too dark to see how to run. Often, we would just follow the lightning bugs as they flashed signals to each other. Male seeking female, mating on their minds.

As children, we were mesmerized by them because they seemed to not exist until those few hours every night. From dusk until deep dark, they flew, and we were enchanted with them. We didn’t notice mosquito bites then, nor the heat.

Called in from the yard at last, we would take turns washing up in our one bathroom in those days. I never understood how that line of dirt made its way around our necks. Or how filthy feet could get from chasing around the yard with no shoes. Summer nights, after long hours of play, were filled with deep sleep for us as brothers and sister, growing up with shared life. Dreaming of fireflies darting up from the grass, flitting through the night sky, to a mysterious mate.

Our children spent most of their growing up years in the  Africa bordering the Sahara. No lightning bugs there. Summer vacations back in the US were made all the more magical by these evening lightshows.

I just recently found out that lightning bugs were beetles. Beetles in Africa are big and shiny black and not for play in our family. They are right up there with the mammoth flying roaches, in terms of creepiness. Fortunately, lightning bugs, in the dazzling loveliness of their glow, make them an altogether different creature…almost on the order of fairies, rather than insects.

Summer, like the season of lightning bugs, never seems long enough. So we savor it. From indoors and out. I am thankful for a yard lit up at night by these little showmen. Every place we have ever lived had its own loveliness…for now, in Virginia, this is part of what we celebrate of God’s creation…in our back yard. You are welcome.

Blog - lightning bugs by robindance.mePhoto Credit: www.robindance.me

Firefly

Light in play

Silent signal

End of day

Rhythmical

Illumination

Simple

Childlike fascination

Demanding chase

They blink and dance

One more spark

And that’s your chance

Neon glow

Adorn the night

Summer’s glory

Our delight      by Robin Dance*

*Magic of the Night by Robin Dance

Fireflies! 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Lightning Bugs

How to Attract Fireflies to Your Backyard

Blog - Fireflies or Lightning BugsPhoto Credit: thaynesworld.com

Monday Morning Moment – A Fresh Start – 5 Verses to Get You Out of Bed & Going

Blog - Monday Morning

Monday morning. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. Crazy, maybe…but I love fresh starts and new beginnings. When I woke this morning, this quirky little song was bouncing around in my head. It’s a Beautiful Morning – that oldie by The Rascals (1968, I know, really old). That got me going, but what keeps me going on a Monday morning (o.k. along with coffee) are the promises of God.

Here are 5 verses that are a quick read to help you get out of bed and get going. Remember, He’s got this.

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. – Mark 1:35

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3:22-23Blog - Monday Morning 2

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.Psalm 30:4-5

Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm90:14

Whether you are a morning person or it’s a resounding snooze alarm and no more vacation days that drag you out of bed this morning, remember you have a God who loves you and is with you all the way.Blog - Monday Morning 4

Do Over by Jon Acuff – my current read; will tell you about it when I’m done.

How to Fall in Love with Mondays – Reignite your Love for your Work with these Five Strategies – Fast Company article by Lisa Evans, referencing Do Over by Jon Acuff

 

Ramadan – Much More Than Fasting – A Quick Study for the Sake of Your Friends & Coworkers

2008270mnj287From the Archives – June 30, 2014

“Ramadan Kareem!” “Ramadan Mabrouk!” “Ramadan Mabarak!” may be familiar words to you…or not so much. Around the world, among Muslims, these are greetings of blessing for their holy month of Ramadan. In this month, all Islamic peoples are united in the observance of their religion, more than any other time of the year.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is considered holy because Muhammad, Islam’s most revered prophet, reported receiving the Qu’ran during this month. At the sighting of the new moon at the beginning of Ramadan, Muslims begin a month-long exercise of six tenets of their faith, consistent, to a large extent, among all of the world’s practicing Muslims.

Fasting [Sawm (Arabic: صوم‎)]  From sunrise to sunset, during Ramadan, devout Muslims fast. In some countries, in fact, it’s illegal for a Muslim to be seen eating or drinking during these hours. There are exceptions (young children, the sick, elderly, and others in a few defined temporary situations). However, the fast is intended to be complete during the day (no food, drink, smoking, sexual intercourse, or profane speech). At sunset, the fast is broken with a meal together as family and eating can continue into the night until just before sunrise the next day. Because of this “flipped day”, Muslims, when possible, sleep during the day or spend time in recreation, exercise, or visiting. The women must still cook for that “break-fast” meal. School and work hours are shortened during Ramadan because of the fast.

Tip for you: Be sensitive to your fasting friend or coworker. If possible refrain from eating, drinking, smoking in front of him/her. Invite them to break their fast with your family (it means a meal later than usual, if Ramadan is in the long summer months). Don’t miss an opportunity to join them if you’re invited to a meal in their home.2008270mnj285

Charity [Sadaqah or Saddka (Arabic: صدقة‎, plural ṣadaqāt صدقات)] and/or Alms-giving [Zakāt (Arabic: زكاة‎ )] Part of the reason for fasting is to experience the life of one poorer than you. The idea is to eat less and use the money saved to give to the poor during Ramadan. Islam has two types of charity – one is voluntary charity to the poor that is seen often during Ramadan; the other is the mandatory alms-giving, required by faithful adherents to Islam. Ramadan is sometimes the month when Muslims give their alms through their mosque(s).

Tip for you: You and your Muslim friends/colleagues may share a concern for the poor of your city or for an oppressed people group somewhere in the world. This could open a door for you to act together on behalf of those in need.

Prayers [Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة‎ ṣalāt; pl. صلوات ṣalawāt)] Prayers are a major tenet of the Muslim faith. During Ramadan, prayers are considered even more powerful to the faithful Muslim. Entry into Paradise can hoped to be won by Muslims through the careful attention to religious practices during Ramadan. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, a special Night of Power [Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر‎)], is believed to have even greater weight in the practicing Muslim’s pursuit of favor with God.Cairo086

Tip for you: Even if you do not usually notice your Muslim friend or coworker’s prayers, during Ramadan, you may see them praying in their homes or at their desks. The mosques in your neighborhood will be much more noticeably busy during Ramadan. Besides the usual Friday service, and the 5 regular prayer-times during the day, there are often special opportunities for Muslims to gather to pray and read and discuss the Qu’ran. Pray for them as they pray.Cairo100

God-consciousness or Piety [Taqwa (Arabic: تقوى‎ )] For many devout Muslims, Ramadan may not be so exceptional, except for the fast. Most, however, count on this month for its spiritual focus. Both men and women will have opportunities to learn more about their God and the teachings of their prophet Muhammad. The global observance of Ramadan is a galvanizing experience for Muslims, with each other, and with the history of their religion, and, their hope, with God.

Tip for you: Ramadan is an excellent time of the year to increase your own understanding of what your Muslim friends/co-workers believe. Questions about their faith are usually welcomed. Arguments about faith are not. Do your own homework about the faith issues where you may disagree with Islamic teaching. This type of information is prolific on the internet (especially related to differences in thinking between Christians and Muslims). Then you can ask or discuss the faith issues that matter most to your friends/colleagues, because during Ramadan, they have been thinking about them.Cairo094

Community [Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎)] Breaking the fast together and praying together in the mosque are clear signs of the strong bond between Muslims, especially seen during Ramadan. Christians enjoy this experience through similar celebrations (Christmas and Easter, to name two) and through their faith in Christ, bringing them into the larger Family or Kingdom of God. This Muslim observance of Ramadan, in its 30-day concentration of focus and universal religious practice, is unique to this religion.

Tip for you: For some, the community of the Islamic world, in their religious practices and political views, can be a little uncomfortable. A good reminder to self is that Islam is a religion, and Muslims are people. Whatever you agree with or disagree with, regarding the religion, needs to be separate from how you engage with the persons who identify with a certain religion. All of us need community and affiliation. So don’t be put off by the Islamic practices you see in Ramadan. Remember, the people who are fasting, praying, and trying to understand God may share very similar concerns and struggles. AND if your Muslim friend/colleague is observing Ramadan away from his family/religious community, he or she is especially isolated and could really use your friendship during this time.

Ramadan’s Festival Day(s) [Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎)] – at the end of this month’s fasting and praying – in a future blog.

Muslim Website on Getting the Most Benefit Out of Ramadan

YouTube Video – Iftar (Breaking the Fast) Ramadan 2015 Around the World

YouTube Video – Ramadan | Month of Mercy | Almarai Emotional Commercial

Breaking Fast with Family – English Subtitles – Coca-Cola Commercial – Strong Message of Perceived Power of Month of Ramadan in Changes of Heart

Short Public Service Announcement on Breaking the Fast & Family Time Together After

Breaking the Fast – Ramadan Subway Commercial – You Don’t Have to Know the Language to Appreciate the Message

California Muslim Teens Explaining Ramadan

A Morality Tale (Ramadan Pepsi/Lays Potato Chip Commercial) on the pull of society on Muslim Youth & How Ramadan Holds Family Together

What Growing Up in a Muslim Country Taught Us About Ramadan – Another Author’s View

Glossary of Islamic (Arabic) Terms for the Month of Ramadan

Arabic Words & English Transliteration

 

Worship Wednesday – Lord, I Need You – with Matt Maher & Audrey Assad

Blog - Lord I Need You 2Photo Credit – Patheos.com

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16

Children and their moms and dads can be such a picture of our inborn need for God. Babies nuzzle mommy’s cheek when hungry and nestle into her shoulder in sleep. Preschoolers skin their knees and make a beeline straight to mom for that hug, “booboo” kiss, and super-hero bandaid. The first day at school, looking up to her daddy, that little girl transfers her hand from his to that of the kindergarten teacher’s.

When his drawings of people look more life-like in his opinion, the buddy artist shyly and proudly shows his progress to his mommy. The young girl finds herself the less-valued one of a three-some friendship, and retreats to mom, through tears, for her to remind her of her true value. When the youngest son is bullied as the littlest in the class, he takes courage in his dad’s big love. Chemistry homework fills up the daughter’s evenings, night after night, and she cries out to her daddy knowing he’ll help her figure something out.

A lonely 9th grader becomes a sought-after baker in his school and mom gives way to him in the kitchen. Facing another move, because of dad’s job, that daughter deals bravely with entering a new high school. An adolescent son missed the cut for the soccer team and grieved so hard it pierced the heart of his praying mom.

Then he rallied…with basketball and music. She rallied…graduating with honors. The youngest rallied to find his way in life, melding the hard experiences into character.

So it goes as children grow up and no longer need their parents as they did before. The analogy to our need for God breaks down here, because we never grow out of needing Him. Matt Maher, in telling the story behind the song “Lord, I Need You” talks about how C. S. Lewis describes “need-love”. It is very different from other loves.

 “Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: “We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.” Need-love says of a woman “I cannot live without her”; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.” – C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Need-love, as in the song “Lord, I Need You” comes from a heart that is aware of its lack and knows who can fill the emptiness. Need-love, on the flip side, moves us to respond to the good in our life, the joy and blessing, with gratefulness to God. With so much love. Sometimes, we hear people in our culture express thanks and yet the thanks seems to float out into the air with no place to land. God is our place to land.

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”Blaise Pascal, French Physicist and Philosopher

 

“I know that everyone is going to go to God in their darkest need and struggle. My hope is that at some point it isn’t just that you go to God in your need but that you are so overwhelmingly hit between the eyes with the love of God that you would go to Him in your joy. In your joy, you would still say, “Every hour I need You”, not just in your brokenness, in your darkest times. There is always a reason to have joy. As believers, we can show witness by leaning on God in times of hardship but also leaning on God in times of joy and celebrating.”Matt Maher

I grew up singing favorite hymns from hymnals, by page number  – #379 Annie Hawks’ “I Need Thee Every Hour” was one of those songs.Blog - Lord, I Need You - Hymnal (2)

Matt Maher and a team of song-writers/worshippers have brought us again to God, as His children eager to share our need for Him and our joy in Him.

Worship with me:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You*

*Lyrics to Lord, I Need You – written by Matt Maher, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Jesse Reeves and Daniel Carson

Chords to Lord, I Need You

YouTube Video with Lyrics – Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

YouTube Video – Matt Maher – Lord, I Need You (feat. Audrey Assad) – Acoustic 

Story Behind the Song – Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

I Need Thee Every Hour by Annie S. Hawks, 1872

Singing From the Same Hymnal in a Post-Hymnal World

Matt Maher Music

Blog - Lord, I Need You - Matt MaherPhoto Credit – YouTube Video

On the Passing of Elisabeth Elliot – Love is a Laid Down Life

Blog - Elisabeth Elliot - Love is a Laid Down LifeLord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever, fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit, use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt and work out Thy will in my life at any cost now and forever.”* – Betty Howard’s prayer which her daughter Elisabeth took as her own at the age of 12

To the right of my desk is a bookcase filled with some of my favorite books. These authors inspire me to live a very different life. Among them are Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, Tom Elliff, Bertha Smith, Patricia St. John, and Elisabeth Elliot.Blog - Elisabeth Elliot - 2

Elisabeth Elliot has died. Rather, she has gloriously entered into the very presence of the God whom she loved and served faithfully all her life. I am so thankful to have lived in the generation of her writing. For over a decade she has quietly lived in the shadow of Alzheimer’s, yet her writing and speaking have continued to leave their mark on generations who desire to know God as she knew Him.

I was five years old when Jim Elliot was killed along the Curaray River, in Ecuador. He left a young widow, Elisabeth Elliot, and a tiny daughter named Valerie. Elisabeth began writing to preserve Jim’s diaries and his memory for Valerie to know her dad as she grew up. Fortunately for all the rest of us, Elisabeth kept writing.

Sometime in my early teens, I first became aware of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. She published his journals in 1958 and I still have a copy of that first printing – Shadow of the Almighty – The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. I devoured Jim’s writing of his complete devotion for God and his passion for others to know Him. Elisabeth’s own burning love for God drew Jim’s heart to hers.  Their marriage would be brief, but what Elisabeth learned of God in that time set a course for her to touch lives beyond her imagining.

Elisabeth Elliot was a no-nonsense kind of woman. She was consummately honest and frank in dealing with God and the culture of our day. These days, there seems to be little tolerance for spiritualizing or moralizing. I wonder if those who pick up her books today, in the stir of publicity at her passing, will be refreshed or shocked at her writing. She wastes no words, cutting through to what it truly is to be a follower of Christ…not of someone we made up…but the One who laid down His life for us all…that One.

Her bluntness, her disciplines, and her love of God have many times, over the years, shaken me out of dullness and loss of resolve…for which I will always be thankful.

I’ve been encouraged by all the young men and women who have commented about Elisabeth Elliot on social media since she died. To put her on some sort of pedestal would be wrong; to say her life pointed us to God and to a life only possible walking with Him, would be more accurate and right.

If you don’t know Elisabeth Elliot’s writing/speaking, begin here with the quotes below. Don’t stop with them, though. The links will help you on a journey you will never regret.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot, missionary to Auca indians in Ecuador”
Elisabeth Elliot, The Journals of Jim Elliot

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”  ― Elisabeth Elliot, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

“Stand true to your calling to be a man. Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men”
Elisabeth Elliot, The Mark of a Man

“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”  ― Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”
Elisabeth Elliot, Secure in the Everlasting Arms

“Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God’s intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is ‘… the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that the loss’ of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible the losses seem.”  ― Elisabeth Elliot

Perhaps some future day, Lord,
Thy strong hand will lead me to the place
Where I must stand utterly alone;
Alone, Oh gracious Lover, but for Thee.

I shall be satisfied if I can see Jesus only.
I do not know Thy plan for years to come.
My spirit finds in Thee its perfect home: sufficiency.
Lord, all my desire is before Thee now.
Lead on no matter where, no matter how,
I trust in Thee. – by Elisabeth Elliot, in her college years**

“You are loved with an everlasting love. And underneath are the everlasting arms.” – Thank you, Elisabeth Elliot. You’ve made it Home.

Blog - Elisabeth Elliot - photo

Blog - Elisabeth Elliot and Lars GrenThank you, Lars Gren, for loving and caring for this wife of yours. What a journey you two must have had together.

*Elisabeth Elliot 1926 – [a fast read on Elisabeth’s life by Adsideo Church]

**Elisabeth Elliot – 1926-2015 – a tribute by Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition

Peaches in Paradise – Why I Loved Elisabeth Elliot by John Piper

Goodreads.com – 164 Quotes of Elisabeth Elliot

Marriage: A Revolution & A Revelation – A Supreme Earthly Test of Discipleship (a manuscript draft by Elisabeth Elliot)

On the Subject of Forgiveness – Leaving Self Behind – Elisabeth Elliot

How to Simplify Your Life – an article by Elisabeth Elliot

30 Years Married – a Walk with God as Much as With Each Other – from the archives, on the impact of Elisabeth Elliot’s counsel on living life married

The Journals of Jim Elliot compiled by Elisabeth Elliot

End of the Spear – a biopic on the lives of Elisabeth & Jim Elliot among the Auca people of Ecuador

Photo Credits: Image of Elisabeth Elliot from elisabethelliot.org

 

Monday Morning Moment – Be Kind – You Just Never Know

Blog - Another Man's MoccasinsPhoto Credit: Gelene Keever

“Never judge a man before you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”   – Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

My heart is especially tendered right now  toward some friends going through a difficult time. They come to mind often and I’m praying my heart out for them in these days.

As I did early morning errands in anticipation of a long workday, those I passed along the way put me to thinking about the proverb above. A dear friend of mine in cancer nursing quotes it often.

There are some people’s moccasins I hope, in all honesty, to never have to wear. Some have borne their lot in life well, and others with deep bitterness and relenting anger. Even the moccasins that have the appearance of being fine and fancy must bear a cost to the owner…more than the money they paid. I prefer my own old, scuffed, marred, well-traveled moccasins.  Yet, today, my heart is full, thinking of those whose roads are difficult to walk right now.

Praying hard for someone does something to us more than we anticipate. It causes us to look at others with greater compassion. We never know fully what that colleague or neighbor or beggar or family member really has on them today. An act of kindness, or a word of hope (real hope), or a decision to be deferent – might make a lighter burden for that one…next to you.

“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.” – John Watson, The Homely Virtues by John Watson – Courtesy

You usually see quotes from God’s Word in my writing, but the proverbs of native peoples give us glimpses of the wisdom of God as well. I close with this Cherokee story, and bid you a day sweetened by a fresh look at those around you. With hearts tendered, you just never know what difference you can make…

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed. “”*

*American Indian Proverb Quotes

Walk a Mile…a Day…32 Hours in Someone Else’s Shoes by Gelene Keever

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

War Room – A Film and a Strategy – Praying Our Hearts Out for Those We Love

War Room – A Film and a Strategy – Praying Our Hearts Out for Those We Love

Blog - War Room to publish 4

“May Yahweh answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary & sustain you from Zion. May He remember all your offerings & accept your burnt offering. May He give you what your heart desires & fulfill your whole purpose. Let us shout for joy at your victory & lift the banner in the name of our God. May Yahweh fulfill all your requests.”Psalm 20:1-4

Have you ever laid awake at night fretting or even despairing over a loved one’s situation or life choices? Have you felt the choking hopelessness not thinking you can do anything to help? God forbid, we deal with a request for prayer as new fodder for gossip, or we just click “Like” on Facebook and never really pray. Never really pray as if all the powers of Heaven might come to bear on a situation if we did. Pray.

A new film by the Kendrick Brothers opens in theaters in the US on August 28, 2015. It’s called War Room with the subtitle Prayer Is a Powerful Weapon. I had the opportunity to see a pre-release screening and it so lifted my heart. It’s a compelling story about a married couple, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan (T. C. Stallings and Priscilla Shirer) whose relationship is crumbling by degrees. Ambition, pursuit of pleasure, entitlement, and unforgiveness have dealt mortal wounds to their marriage. Only a miracle would save their marriage.

This glimmer of hope arrives through the friendship of Elizabeth with an elderly woman, known only as Miss Clara. (Karen Abercrombie). This tiny old woman is a serious force of nature…wielding supernatural weapons, in her faith in God. She wages battle daily for those God places in her path. Unbeknownst to them at first, Elizabeth and Tony would soon see the very God of the universe draw near to them in response to His daughter’s cries for help. If you see this film, Miss Clara may remind you of your praying grandmother. So much love. So much power.BLog - War Room to publish 2

The film opens on a war room with military officers pouring over maps and coordinates as they planned strategy for battle. When Miss Clara enters the story, a very different war room is introduced. She prays all the time, out loud and confidently. Yet there are times during each day, she enters her war room – a tiny closet, with a chair and Bible, and notes taped up all over the wall. Those notes were prayer requests and Scripture promises. Complete focus on God and on the ones she was praying hard for…no distractions.

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6

Some situations need excruciatingly intimate business done with God. Prayer requests in a meeting or through social media make a difference also. However, we don’t see answers to prayer sometimes because we think the problem is too great or the situation too far gone. Miss Clara kept her faith…whatever the outcome, this should be our heart toward God. He is able.

Blog - War Room to publish 3

When we battle in prayer for those we love, this moves the heart of God. What are you praying your heart out for right now?Blog - War Room to publish

YouTube Video – War Room – The Heart of the Film

War Room – Doing Battle with Prayer – WRBL Special Report

“The Three Battles” by Alex Kendrick

To join the conversation: WARROOMMOVIE on Facebook; @WARROOMMOVIE and @ANSWEREDPRAYER on Twitter

Putting on the Armor – Equipped and Deployed for Spiritual Warfare –  Dr. Chuck Lawless (pdf Bible study)

How to Pray Evangelistically – How to Pray God’s Heart – by Dr. Chuck Lawless

How to Pray when Someone You Love is Stuck in Sin by Erin Davis

Photo Credits – All images are from WarRoomTheMovie.com media materials.

Rainy Day Respite – in the Crazy & Confusing of Life – God Is With Us

2015 June Blog Rainy Day Respite“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.” Hosea 6:3

It’s rained all day. This morning, the rain started gently, more a mist. Some of my dear neighbors walk every morning, so I didn’t need to check with them as to whether this morning would be different…but I did. Walking as usual. With umbrellas. And jackets. The rain was soft, almost warm. Hardly a sound made except for the occasional breeze launching rain from the summer-leafy trees.2015 June Rainy Day Respite 3

I love walking in rain like this…an experience made even sweeter by the company of friends. The world seems quieter in this soft rain…the noises of work and school life muffled somehow. So quiet.

The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand. – Deuteronomy 28:12

All around creation is fairly bursting with vivid color, all washed and clean from the rain. What a gift this is…to nature, and to nurture the soul. This day is a gift I wish for you…a day with a gentle rain.2015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 036 2015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 0432015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 0412015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 0462015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 050

The rain changed though. A hard, relentless, soaking rain continued. Still a boon for growing things. Still a living lesson on God.

He speaks to us in the rain. I have always loved walking in a summer rain. This afternoon, on an errand, my umbrella wasn’t quite to the task, and I got wet through and through. It made coming home all the sweeter. A cup of hot coffee, a short reading with Oswald Chambers, and a reminder of His promises:

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).*2015 June Blog - Rainy Day Respite

As sure as the rain is, so is God’s presence with us. [I am reminded, that even in desert places, God’s presence is with us there as well.] Just as the rain does what it is intended to do; so does His Word to our hearts. When we allow ourselves to get quiet, we hear Him speak. When we tune our hearts to Him, silencing the noise of the world, He refreshes us and restores us, as the rain does the earth.

I hope you got to enjoy rain where you are today…and for sure, I hope you experienced the deep comfort of God’s Word and His nearness to you in some quiet place in your day. Never forget, in all the crazy and confusing, He is with us (link to the song below).

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” –  Matthew 7:24-25

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”Isaiah 55:10-11

*My Utmost for His Highest – Daily Devotional – June 4 – Oswald Chambers

YouTube Video – He Is With Us – Love & The Outcome (Official Video)

YouTube Video – Sound of Rain: Smoky Mountain Rain in Fog

Dave’s Happy Little Flowers – Begonias2015 June Phone Pics, Blog, Flowers, Friends, Family 055

Worship Wednesday – Choose Well Whom You Serve – The Doorkeepers (Bowab) of Egypt

 6437A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.                    I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickednessFor the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!   – Psalm 84:10-12

For many years, we were apartment dwellers in the desert city of Cairo, Egypt. The Nile River winds gloriously south-to-north through the city, but it is nonetheless a remarkably dusty place. The fine sand of the Sahara blows in daily and covers everything in its wake. Washing windshields, sidewalks, and hallways must be done each morning. These are among the many needful tasks for which the doorkeeper is responsible.

Most residential buildings have a doorkeeper, called a “bowab” in Arabic. He and his family often live in a tiny space on the bottom floor of the building. He, his wife and children run errands, do various other tasks for building residents, find taxis for those who need them, and stand guard, so to speak, at the door of the building.

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The bowab has a lower station in life, but the ones I’ve known treated their work and those they served with dignity and graciousness. They may have preferred a different path, but maybe because of lack of opportunity or education, this was their life. Whether they chose it or not.

I had read Psalm 84 before moving to Egypt, but not until meeting the bowab of our building did these words come alive to me. This Psalm is written by the Sons of Korah* who were doorkeepers and porters those days in the house (tabernacle) of the Lord. They have a fascinating history which set the stage for them also to be sincere worshippers of God – humble, joyful, passionate worshippers.

Reading this Psalm, I am reminded of the pull of the world on us to walk away from God. To leave our stations. To choose to do something else. To be someone else. We begin to believe the voices that we deserve something different…something better…we owe it to ourselves to break free. Our thoughts can get more and more muddled…with that wanting something more…more than this?! More than what we have in Psalm 84?

We choose our course in life. God draws us to Himself, but we choose to align ourselves with Him or with the world. There is no “not choosing”. On days when my thinking gets clouded, I’m so grateful for the Word of God – how the truth of who God is resonates in my heart and mind. He is my Sun – driving away the darkness and my fear with it. He is my Shield – deflecting the arrows meant to wound and confuse me. He withholds no good thing from those who walk with Him.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

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Just this morning, a friend reminded me of his devotional reading today out of A Daily Dose of Spurgeon:

“These were potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges; there they dwelt with the king for his work.” 1 Chronicles 4:23, ASB

Potters were not the very highest grade of workers, but “the king” needed potters, and therefore they were in royal service… We, too, may be engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work, but it is a great privilege to do anything for “the king”; and therefore we will abide in our calling… The text tells us of those who dwelt among plants and hedges… They may have desired to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement, but they kept their appointed places, for they also were doing the king’s work… Ye unknown workers who are occupied for your Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have been found upon dunghills ere now, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and ill weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell ye with the King for His work, and when He writes His chronicles your name shall be recorded.”Charles Spurgeon

Remembering the Sons of Korah and the Egyptian bowab helps me reckon with my station in life. How thankful I am that God has delivered me out of merely existing for myself and into gloriously serving Him. There is nothing menial there. All momentous. Nothing small. All mysteriously and lovingly God. I want to stand at that door…how about you?

“Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:14-15

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YouTube Video – Better Is One Day – with Lyrics – by Matt Redman

*Who were the Sons of Korah in the Old Testament?

Egypt Essentials: The Bowab by Erin Owen

Sebastian Traeger on the Value of Our Work

2015 May - Blog - The Gospel at WorkFor we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

I had the opportunity recently to hear Sebastian Traeger speak on work. Although the auditorium was packed, he could have been speaking to one young person sorting out his future. Or to a professional in a mid-life funk wondering if what he does really matters. What he said, and the thoughtfulness of his presentation, actually surprised me. It had less a flavor of a highly successful entrepreneur’s career advice, and more that of a friend counseling a friend.

Here are the highlights from his talk:

  • Is fulltime ministry more valuable than my job? Are some jobs more valuable to God than others? No.
  • Who we work for is more valuable that what we do. Whatever is our work, as believers, we work for God. He is our boss. We are servants of the King.
  • God deploys each of us to do what He has for us to do – and what He means for us to do is always beyond our competence. We need Him.
  • What God values is not always obvious to us (Matthew 20:1-16).
  • God deploys us. Be fully where He has you until it’s clear He has a next assignment for you. He deploys us both inside our workplace and beyond, in our communities and to the nations.
  • Desire, abilities, opportunity – these three factors work together under His guidance. You may have one or more but not all three where you are. Don’t be discouraged. Trust God and do whatever you can to be faithful in hearing and obeying God in your desire, abilities, and opportunities.
  • What assignment has God given you? Be faithful.
  • Paul’s example in his letter to Philemon about Onesimus – one can seek freedom (a change) from his (work) situation but he must strive to be faithful in the meantime.
  • There is mystery in God’s purposes. Trust Him.
  • Finally, in sorting out your work situation, remember 3 things:     1. We live in a fallen world. Take this into account in dealing with your expectations.  2. Pray for opportunity (within your work and outside your workplace).   3. Trust God.

Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert go deeper into these concepts in their book The Gospel at Work. They present a revelationary teaching on the issues of idleness and idolatry in our work and how to “pursue faithfulness, then fruitfulness”.

“The answer to fighting complacency is recognizing that you work for the Lord in all that you do. He’s not primarily calling you to your job; He’s calling you to belong to Him. Understanding the gospel in light of our work helps us to understand that we are to be sold-out disciples in all things.”*

Blog - Gospel at Work - Sebastian TraegerBlog - The Gospel at Work - Greg Gilbert - from cbmw.org

Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert

The Gospel at Work – A Conversation with Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger (ERLC)

The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger & Greg Gilbert

The Gospel at Work Website

*Q&A: Sebastian Traeger on the Ministry of Work at ValuesandCapitalism.com

The Gospel at Work – A Conversation with Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger (ERLC)

Skybridge Community

Photo Credits: Images of Sebastian Traeger (bpnews.net) and Greg Gilbert (cbmw.org)