Category Archives: encouragement

A Voice in the Wilderness

Mmmmm. Roasted grasshoppers. Six grams of protein in each one.

While on a family camping trip, my brother demonstrated grasshopper flambé–one of the many survivalists’ skills he learned in the military. After spearing a grasshopper, he carried it to the picnic table and held his arthropod appetizer over a flaming candle. Assured the grasshopper was fully cooked he allowed it to cool a few seconds before popping it in his mouth. Crunch. Crunch. Swallow. He smiled at his wide-eyed audience and soon four young boys were hunting grasshoppers, all eager to check this accomplishment off their man-card. Besides, God’s word says their clean (Leviticus 11:22).

As strange as it seems, this is exactly what John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus ate in the wilderness, (along with wild honey). He was the voice commissioned to break four hundred years of silence. Clothed with leather and camel’s hair, he heralded the news, Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. John 3:2.

Although our clothes and diet are different from John’s, our mission is the same. We are the 21st century voice in this millennial wilderness.

Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!

May this mission drive everything we do–our interactions with our family, co-workers, friends, neighbors, store clerks, waitresses and even the unexpected divine appointments at Walmart and TaMollys.

Hmmm? Grasshoppers and salsa anyone?

Crunch. Crunch.

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The King’s Favor

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass. Proverbs 19:12

It happens every time we go camping. In stillness, quietness and obscurity, after the moon and stars appear. Atmospheric water vapor condenses into droplets. By sunrise, the ground, picnic table and anything left outside is covered with glistening beads of moisture–dew.

And so it is with The King’s favor, and favor with people (Proverbs 19:12). It happens softly, slowly, in ways we can’t see, yet we know when His favor is upon us.

Jesus,
Bless my friends with favor wherever they go–jobs, stores, gas station, drive-thrus and neighborhoods. May your presence draw in souls. Your promises are true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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A Compassionate King

For years Nehemiah thought about his ancestors’ desecrated graves. These thoughts troubled him. Then one day he could no longer hide his feelings behind a forced smile and his routine servant-cup-bearing duties.

“Why is your face so sad?” asked King Artaxerxes. Thick silence filled the throne room.

How do I answer him, thought Nehemiah. Will my reply cost me? My job? My life?

With trembling knees and hands he drew in a deep breath, admonished the king, then told him his desires.

If an earthly king can detect a downcast servant how much more can our Heavenly King discern our intents and desires (Hebrews 4:15)?

Dear Jesus,

You’re our Creator–a God of details. Your word teaches us we ‘have not because we ask not’ (James 4:2). You know the longings, and at times the aches in our hearts. Help us to give voice to those yearnings as we cast our cares on you. More importantly, cause our thoughts to align with your will. In your name we pray, Amen.

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A Memorable Break

At seventeen I had a lot of questions–few answers. Questions about life. Questions about the future. Questions about God. Is He real? And is there more to being a Christian than going to church and trying to live a good life? Yes, I had questions and a job as the Assistant Head Dining Room Girl at  summer camp.

My duties included setting tables, serving food, serving second and third helpings of food, cleaning tables, washing dishes and mopping floors. As second in command of the eight Dining Room Girls, I had to make sure all our tasks were completed and help solve any problems among us. Consequently, serving three meals a day, plus a night-time snack to staff left little time to enjoy any camp activities.

However, one day before supper, we were invited to step outside and join the campers.

“Everyone take on of these slips of paper from the basket,” said the Camp Director. “Now walk to an area by yourself, sit down and think about what you’re reading. Stay in your spot until you hear the dinner bell.”

I reached into the wicker basket and took one of the folded white papers and meandered to a nearby tree. I plopped beneath it feeling grateful to sit outside a few minutes, even if it was July. I leaned against the tree and opened my assignment.

 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine      own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

At last–an answer.

I peered at the sky then down again to what became my favorite Bible verses.

Yes Lord.

I will trust.

 

 

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Spiritual Survival

I’ve heard the secret to wilderness survival is what’s tucked away in your pockets, belt and mind. What’s kept there must sustain you when all else is lost.

As I make my way through this world of declining morals, I ‘ve found I must diligently put God’s word in my heartPsalm 119:11

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil–evil, evil, evil from morning to night. Genesis 6:5, The Message.

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Peter 3:15 The Message.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV.

As I make my way through this metaphoric wilderness of life, I must answer as Jesus did, It is written. Continue reading

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A Transformation

We called a friend to ask if we could borrow his pressure washer.

“Sure as long as you pay me in some of your homemade bread. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Making bread is one of our pastimes. It’s amazing how the ingredients can mix into such warm deliciousness.

Jesus told a parable about bread making, (Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21). Although there are other scriptures comparing leaven to sin, (Matthew 15, Mark 8, 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 5), Jesus’ allegory to His Kingdom being like leaven hits home–in the kitchen and in the heart.

Heaven’s Leaven

When yeast is mixed into the dough then left alone, a change will show.

The dough will soon be twice its size thanks to yeast that made it rise.

The kingdom’s like this Jesus said, like the leaven makes our bread.

Word and Spirit both alive begin to work, deep, deep, inside

and change a life bound by sin, setting it free–new life in Him.

And He in us, hope of glory. Heaven’s leaven. Unseen story.

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Going the Extra Nine Miles

The saying, going the extra mile, originated during the Roman occupation of Israel. Roman soldiers had the right to ask any able-bodied man to carry all their equipment for one mile. After carrying a soldier’s armaments for one mile, the one who fulfilled this obligation could put down his burden and leave the soldier to carry it himself or seek someone else to serve the next mile.

In Matthew 5:41, Jesus addressed this law and surprised his hearers by saying they should accept the opportunity and even go beyond the required duty by carrying a soldier’s load for two miles instead of the required one mile distance. Say what??

Two thousand years before Jesus’ astonishing statement, Jacob sent his son Joseph on a sixty-mile mission to deliver provisions to his ten sons, Joseph’s brothers, shepherding their flocks in Shechem, (Genesis 37:14). As instructed, Joseph arrived in Shechem and heard his brothers had been there and could be in Dothan. At this point, Joseph made a decision–to return home or continue on to Dothan.  After all, weren’t these the same brothers who mocked and despised him?

Yet, through his weariness, frustration and perhaps some hidden reluctance, Joseph manned-up and trudged another nine to twelve miles, a day’s journey, through the wilderness to complete his Father’s desire.

Dear Lord, Make me like Joseph–willing to seize the opportunity to serve others, even if it means going an extra nine miles.

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Music from the Ashes

laugh.jpg

Digging through the charred rubble of the Su Valley Junior-Senior High School near Talkeetna, Alaska, volunteers recovered several musical instruments. Clarinets, brass horns and a tuba passed from person to person. Elementary School music teacher Sandy Shoulders called it “music from the ashes.”1

A few years ago I experienced a low time in my life. Weeks turned into months and eventually my mental cloud dissipated. Then one day something funny happened at work and I erupted with a loud belly laugh.

“Mary, I’ve never heard you laugh like that,” my co-worker said.

It was true. I hadn’t laughed in a long time. The sound of joy returned, and like the salvaged band instruments, it was music from the ashes.

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 NIV

1 Associated Press. “Searchers salvage musical instruments from Su Valley rubble.” KTVH-TV June 18, 2007  http://www.webcenter11.com

11/1/08

“Mary, you’re so funny.”

I heard this twice last week. I’m not a comedian by any means, but the sound of laughter confirms the inward joy that God has restored in me. I’m free from things that oppressed and weighed me down. I’m free to be myself. Free to laugh, dance, run, sing and shout. Yes I’m free.

Thank you Jesus.

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Gratitude Matters

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.

Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss philosopher

Lord open my heart & eyes for opportunities to show gratitude.

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The Hourglass of Time

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
 Niccolo Machiavelli

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