seeds of faith

seeds of faith

In the dirt and the dark and the muck of her sin, she bravely sows seeds of His word. She buries them deep in the mess and the mud. Hands dirty, soul scarred, heart broken. She waits by faith for His truth to take root.

Cold and storms. Ice and sleet. The elements pound the seeds planted deep by faith. It is the season of Lent of the soul. Waiting, weeping, hoping, striving.  Ages and seasons.

Finally.

Darkness gives way to sunrise. Death gives way to life. Seeds of suffering, watered by tears, groan and grow. Against the odds, in the dark of the earth, they push through the debris of seasons past.

Because He is stronger. Because He rose from the ground. Because His death brings life. A shoot comes forth delivering hope. Buds, blossoms, fruit. It is finished.

Great suffering yields great fruit.




The Year 2020

The year 2020 has been a year, and we’re only half way through it. What will the other half will bring? Giant spider invasion? Flying snake infestations?



Daily we stagger around, pretending we’re fine while we deal with the cultural shifts.

 Thankfully, due to the mask requirement no one can see the stress lines etched on our faces.

The truth about my 2020 stress level

Am I stressed? Hmm, let’s see. In the past year I changed careers, switched churches, experienced a global pandemic, and dealt with a significant health problem. An adult child move back home, sons 1 and 2 got married (#covidweddings), I sheltered at home, and I spent 3 months Zooming with my students in a little room in the front of my house. Yep, I’m a little stressed. It’s time to get real about our thinking and feelings.

The truth about my 2020 feelings

Honestly, there have been times this year when I’ve felt completely untethered. It’s a struggle to get up and jump on the crazy train each day. I wonder what’s the use?

All the while pray for my country, my president, my family, my fellow Americans and things still seem to continually spiral down. I’ve struggled with short bouts of depression, and at times I can’t seem to find joy in anything (baking, sewing, riding my bike, CHOCOLATE). America seems to lost its bearings. Same. Where is all this headed?

Count it all stress

We’re Christians for crying out loud. Are we supposed to count covidstayathomeelearningsocialunrest all joy? Must we give thanks in everything?

Yes. Why? Not because all things are good, but because they will be used for good. Therefore, we give thanks now for the later joy. Hard things shape us, knock off our rough edges and sculpt us into the image of Christ. Hard things keep us humble, on our knees, and in the presence of our Father.

What should we do?

Read Ephesians 6. What does God provide? Armor. We weren’t put on this earth for a Christian vacay. It’s time to armor up buttercup, and join the battle. In this present challenge, find a way to use your gifts for others. And then, ceaselessly pray about everything until you make it to the other side.

In closing

Maybe God has untethered us because we were tethered to the wrong things. Do we trust in America or do we trust in God as our money says (the money shortage is another post)? God is not surprised by what is happening. This is not the end of the world. Believe it or not, God is using all this in the next step of His plan. It will all turn out for our good and His glory.

How are you dealing with 2020? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!

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Resources

Do you need a little help managing your 2020 stress? Please click on the links below:

Stress and Anxiety Attacks

Stress and Anxiety Part 2

Stress: Experiencing Real Rest

 




4 Steps to Become a Christ Follower

These are uncertain times, but there is one thing you can be certain of–God loves you! He also has a plan for your life, to give you a hope and a future. In order to become all that God creates you to be you must make a very important decision and take the 4 steps to become a Christ follower.



Step 1. Admit you are a sinner

Sin is something that goes against the truth of God’s word such as stealing, hurting others, or lying. If you are like me you can think of many things you’ve done wrong. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Step 2. Believe that Jesus died for you.

Because of our sin, we need a Savior. “While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us.” Romans 3:23

Step 3. Ask Jesus to be your Savior.

Tell Him of your need for a Savior and ask Him to come into your heart. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Step 4. As a Christ follower, rejoice in your salvation.

Now that your burden of sin and the emptiness of your heart is lifted, you can rejoice! “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

For a little more information on how to become a Christ follower, please click on the play button below.

4 Steps to Become a Christ Follower

If you decided to become a Christian,  welcome to the family! Please leave  a comment in the comment section below. I’d love to chat with you!

 

See below for other salvation resources:

How to Become a Christian by Faithward

Peace with God

How to know God

 

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5 Days to Fast & Pray for our Nation

If your heart has been broken by the state of affairs in our nation, we’re right there with you. What can we do?



Join 5 Days to Fast & Pray for our Nation

5 Days to Fast & Pray

Mary and I invite you to join us August 10-14, 2020, for the 5 Days to Fast and Pray for our Nation initiative. We’re basing this week’s prayer and fast on the following verse:

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7 ESV

Here is a brief description of the group: This non-partisan group is for like-minded individuals who wish to pray in accordance with the truth of the Bible for the leadership, direction, and healing of the United States of America.

2020 has been filled with many challenges, and we think it’s important that as many people as possible are praying during this time.

Details

  • Join the Facebook group.
  • Pray according to the daily theme.
  • Try an activity.
  • Choose an optional fast: TV show, food or food group, meal, day, or technology.
  • Join in the daily Post & Pray on Facebook at any time of the day.
  • Attend the virtual live prayer time on Wednesday, August 12.

If the idea of fasting is holding you back, please don’t let that stop you. It is optional. If you’ve never done any type of fasting before and would like to try, we have several ideas that will allow you to try it out “gently.” Read through this previous post on fasting for some possibilities.

Thank you for considering this. Again, you can join the Facebook group here.We will be posting on the Facebook page leading up to the August event, and you will receive a 5 Days’ Prayer Guide to use as we get closer to the event. Our country needs your prayers. Please join us.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please respond to the end of this post. We’ll be happy to provide additional information.

Blessings,

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The Good News about the Bad News

Yup. We’ve got ourselves some bad news. Covid is surging again in Michigan. Racial tensions reach the breaking point in several large cities around the country. NYC has de-funded the police. The NYT reports Americans are being tracked by their smartphones. LA and San Diego school districts are online only for the fall semester. Everywhere we look it seems there is bad news. Is there any good news about the bad news?



Where is God in all of this bad news?

Right in the middle. Remember there is nothing new under the sun. Nations rise and fall and God has His plan and His people in place. A Daniel in Babylon. A Joseph in Egypt. An Esther in the palace. And God has placed you right where you need to be.

Acts 17:26 states “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” Where and when you are is no accident.

Do some good!

God has placed you exactly in your city, on your street in your very house for such a time as 2020. Why? Because God has meaningful important work for you to do in this crazy chaos we call life. People need encouragement. Neighbors need to hear the truth. Unemployed friends might need a meal…and we all need some toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

God is in control.

God has promised to use all things for our good and His glory. Therefore everything is under His direct control. Remember, Proverbs 21 states “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” God is in control and that is great news!

The real Good News!

Because of all the negativity, people are more open to the real Good News. Pray and ask God to give you an opportunity to share the gospel. Since you are praying for an opportunity to share, be prepared to speak. Tell your friend/neighbor that:

  • God is not surprised by 2020,
  • God loves us,
  • God also loves the world,
  • He has a plan for our lives,
  • Jesus died on the cross to take away all of our sin (every bit), and
  • Jesus is waiting to be our Savior.

People are scared, tired and discouraged. Give them a real reason to hope.

So what else can you do?

  1. Be proactive. God tells us to pray about everything. Join a prayer group such as 5 Days to Fast and Pray for Our Nation and be a part of the healing!
  2. Be informed. Learn about the current events and cultural trends so you can speak with intelligence. Read all points of view on a given issue.
  3. Be kind. Listen to others and be respectful. Everyone has a right to their own point of view. We can disagree and still be civil.
  4. Be reasonable. Know when to walk away. Not every post or comment needs a response.

Leave a comment below and share some good news. We all could use it!

copy right 2020. all rights reserved.

Resources:

How to find God Video

The Good News Movement

The Good News TV Show




Journey: shelter at home

Shelter at homeCovid 19 has brought many changes to life in America. During this unprecedented season many of us have had adult children move back to shelter at home. Amid times of stress and hardship sometimes there is no place like home sweet home.



Please get your Bible, journal and pen. Take a moment to quiet your heart before God and ask Him to teach your through His Holy Word.

journey home

Please read Ruth 1:1-7.

In the days when the judges judged, there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to live in the country of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah. They came into the country of Moab and lived there. Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.

They took for themselves wives of the women of Moab. The name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. They lived there about ten years. Mahlon and Chilion both died, and the woman was bereaved of her two children and of her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab; for she had heard in the country of Moab how Yahweh had visited his people in giving them bread. She went out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her. They went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

Who left Israel to go to Moab (vs 1-3)?

With whom did Naomi leave Moab to return to Israel (vs. 7)?

Why did Naomi decide to return to Israel?

come on home

Go back and read verse 6 again. Go back to verse 6 again and make note in your journal of a few important words from this verse.

The word arose used in this verse is from the Hebrew word quwm which means be clearer, confirm, ordain, strengthen, to stir up. The use of this word indicates that Naomi makes a a definite decision to return to her homeland.

But this was not a decision Naomi made on her own. Quwm also means to denote the inevitable occurrence of something predicted or prearranged (Strong, 1996). From the definition of this word we see God is at work in Naomi’s heart, strengthening and stirring up her soul for the return trip to Bethlehem so she could go back and shelter at home.

return home

Take another look at verse 6. The Hebrew word used for return is shuwb which means call, convert, deliver, draw back, fetch home again, rescue. Again we see evidence that God is at work behind the scenes to bring Naomi back to Bethlehem.

Using what you’ve learned from the definitions of arose and return, please rewrite Ruth 1:6 in your own words in your journal.

why return home?

Why was God going through all this trouble to bring Naomi and her daughters back home? Please open your Bible and read Matthew 1:1-16.

Whose family line is recorded in Matthew 1:1?

What familiar woman’s name is recorded in Matthew 1:5?

The wonderful sovereignty of God! A Hebrew family willingly leaves the Promised Land to live in Moab. God not only calls Naomi back to Bethlehem, but He uses this event to further His will. Ruth is part of the family line of Christ!

shelter at home

How about you? Have you wandered far from God? If You have God is working right now, behind the scenes to quwm your heart so you will shuwb back where you belong to shelter at home with Him.

What’s one thing you need to do now so you can return to shelter at home with God?

You do not have to wait until you clean up our act, get it together or fix yourselves up before you go home. Naomi sure didn’t. She returned home empty and broken. But she was wise enough to return. Run home now. God is waiting for you to shelter at home with Him.

How are you sheltering with God during this season? Please leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with you!

copyright 2020. all rights reserved.

For more information on sheltering at home, please click on the links below:

Moody Bible Sheltering at Home

Focus on the Family: Corona Virus Quarantine

Please click below to access parts of this study:

Day 1: Journey, Shelter in Place

Day 2: Journey, A Good Name

 




Journey: A Good Name

The birth of a baby is a joyous event! The parents to-be spend hours preparing the nursery, buying baby paraphernalia, baby-proofing the house and most importantly, choosing a good name. Today our Bible study focuses on the meaning and importance of names.

Please take a moment to pray and ask God to open prepare your heart to receive His word. Get your Bible, journal and pen!

Please read Ruth 1:1-5 out loud.

 In the days when the judges judged, there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to live in the country of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah. They came into the country of Moab and lived there. Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves wives of the women of Moab. The name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. They lived there about ten years. Mahlon and Chilion both died, and the woman was bereaved of her two children and of her husband.

A good name

Like modern day parents, names were also very important to the ancient Hebrew people. However, the Hebrews believed that names not only identified a person, but also represented the character of the person.

What is Naomi’s husband’s name?

The name Elimelech is a combination of two Hebrew words that mean my God is king. Elimelech’s name is a reminder that God is king  and sovereign over every event, even famine. Like Elimelech, we need to remember the meaning of God’s good name and shelter in place during times of trouble.

A few more good names

Read verse 2 again.

Who is Elimelech’s wife?

In Hebrew, Naomi translates as pleasant, splendor, grace, beauty. Naomi faces a great challenge to live up to her good name during a time of hardship and loss.

What un-pleasant thing is Naomi trying to face with grace?

Like Naomi, what un-pleasant hardships are you trying to face with grace?

A good name changed

Please skip ahead and read read Ruth 1:20.

She said to them, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

What did Naomi change her name to and why?

Do you think Naomi has reason to be bitter?

Do you think Naomi has reason to continue trusting God?

Why should we continue to trust God during hard times?

Good names?

As a teacher I sometimes wonder about the names parents choose for their children. Cinderella. Pumpkin. Steelie. Why? But Naomi and Elimelech win the What were they thinking? prize.

Look back and remind yourself of the names of Naomi’s sons.

Mahlon translates from the Hebrew as sick, weak, worn, afflicted. Chilion means pining, destruction, failing. I’d like to ask Naomi why she chose such strange names for her children. Can you imagine being married to Afflicted or Destruction? ( Well…I dated a few “Destructions” in my day.)

No other information is given about Afflicted or Destruction in the rest of Scripture. It’s likely sickness may have been a factor in the deaths of the brothers. They seem to have “lived-up” to the meaning of their names.

One more good name

While every thing seems to be going wrong for Naomi, one thing was going right. Ruth. In Hebrew Ruth translates as friendship, companion. In the middle of loss and heartbreak, God provides Naomi with a friend.

What encouragement do you draw from God’s provision of Ruth to Naomi?

 

Give an example of a time when God provided you with a friend during a time of heartbreak.

 

One last name

We have one more name to consider, Orpah (not Oprah!). In the original Hebrew Orpah means gazelle, or mane. Orpah descends from other Hebrew words which mean back of the neck, obstinate, to seize, to pull. 

What insight is God giving you about Orpah and her name?

A little bit later in our study we will see how Orpah’s name may be a precursor of her future actions.

Thank you for joining me today for Bible study! As always please leave me a comment below in the comment section. I’d love to chat with you!

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To learn more about Ruth and the importance of names, please click on the links below!

Journey: shelter in place

Behind the Name