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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Ultimate Gift

Jason thought his inheritance was going to be the gift of money and lots of it. Was he ever in for a big surprise? Based on the best-selling book "The Ultimate Gift" by Jim Stovall, the story sends trust fund baby Jason Stevens on an improbable journey of discovery, having to answer the ultimate question: "What is the relationship between wealth and happiness?" Jason had a very simple relationship with his impossibly wealthy Grandfather, Howard "Red" Stevens. He hated him. No heart-to-heart talks, no warm fuzzies, just cold hard cash.

So of course he figured that when Red died, the whole "reading of the will" thing would be another simple cash transaction, that his Grandfather's money would allow him to continue living in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. But what Red left him was anything but simple. Red instead devised a plan for Jason to experience a crash course on life. Twelve tasks, which Red calls "gifts," each challenging Jason in an improbable way, the accumulation of which would change him forever. -

I will forewarn you that this movie will make you cry both tears of joy and tears of sadness. You'll definitely want to keep the tissues handy. Nevertheless, this is an inspiring movie that you need to see. I came across the advertisement for the movie and watched the brief trailer. I was intrigued and put it in my queue through Netflix. It was as good as I had hoped and more. I walked away feeling inspired and challenged all at the same time. Throughout the story, I was reminded that I have a good life. No, I may not be rich, but after seeing what money can do to a person, I think maybe it's a good thing I don't have much of it. Still, I am so blessed with all the things that truly matter. What a great film! It was clean and suitable for audiences of all ages. I encourage you to set aside a couple of hours and watch The Ultimate Gift.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are You a Prisoner?

Do you ever feel like a prisoner? As Christians, we were once held captive by sin, but thanks to the grace of God, we are freed from that captivity. But does that mean we are no longer bound by anything? I don't know about you, but I often feel like a prisoner. I'm held captive by a body that can't seem to keep up with my life's goals. I'm held captive by financial bonds. I'm held captive by the restraints of time. Sometimes, I'm even held captive by chocolate. (Don't laugh. It's quite a predicament.)

Seriously, though, I think we all feel like prisoners from time to time. Circumstances beyond our control bind us to a life we never expected or a problem we're unable to solve. Freedom from our bonds (whatever they may be) seems to always be just out of reach. The prison doors have slammed shut, and we don't have the key.

Thankfully, we know the One who is the Key to unlock all of our prison doors. No matter the type of bondage we're in, Jesus is the answer. In addition to that, I read a verse this morning that encouraged me further. It reminded me that I was a prisoner, but a prisoner of something good. Take a look.

Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee. - Zechariah 9:12

Prisoners of hope. I like that! Doesn't it feel good to be reminded that we are not only held captive by negative things but also by something positive. We are bound by hope. So what exactly is hope? Webster's dictionary describes it as follows: (1) trust, reliance (2) a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment (3) someone or something on which hopes are centered (4) something expected with confidence

As Christians, we have hope in every sense of the word. We have trust and reliance in the Word of God. We know it says what it means and means what it says. We have a desire accompanied by expectation in that we know God's promises are true and will be fulfilled. We have Someone on whom our hopes are centered, for through Christ, all things are possible. And we can expect with confidence that there is a better place awaiting us where they is no pain, no joy and no prisons.

What kind of prisoner are you today? I hope you can say you're a prisoner of hope!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Challenging Question

Recently, the youth leader at our church posed a very powerful question to our young people. The young people were quick to spread the news throughout the church. I don't know about everyone else, but that question has been on my mind a lot over the past week. The question was this: What if you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

At first, the question brought to mind other questions. What would I have? My husband? My family? My sweet dogs? My church? My home? My salvation????? To be honest, an uneasiness crept through me as I realized how little I would have. That uneasiness was then accompanied by shame. Shame on me! Sometimes I forget just how ungrateful I really am.

This is not a long post because I don't need much space to say what the Lord has laid on my heart this morning. I challenge you today to thank the Lord for what you have. If you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today, what would you have? It's something worth thinking about.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seeking to Save

Jason and I recently watched the movie "Knowing." It was a very intense movie about a little girl who predicted future disastrous events, including the end of the world. Was the movie accurate according to the Bible? No, of course not. Did it portray any important lessons? Most definitely.

You see, in the movie, the main character (played by Nicholas Cage) has the list of dates of the disasters. The list includes a few dates in the future. After figuring out what the list of numbers represented, the character did everything in his power to prevent the events from taking place. He went to the places and warned people of the danger. Still, his efforts proved insufficient, and the disasters took place as predicted. So what does that have to do with us?

We, too, know of an impending disaster. The Bible gives us a clear picture of what the future holds. For the saved, it holds joy unspeakable and peace unimaginable. For the unsaved, however, the future is horrible beyond comprehension. So when was the last time we warned someone? We have a chance to make a difference. Are we taking advantage of that opportunity?

I don't know about you, but I know I can be a much better witness that I've been lately. I've been lax in my responsibility as a Christian to go and tell all the world that Jesus saves. The movie compelled me to do a better job in my position as a witness. It was a reminder that I know what the future holds, and I need to act on that knowledge. Our church motto is "Each One Reach One." Have I reached my one today? Have you?

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Spirit Is Not So Willing

My grass looks horrible. No, let me rephrase that. My weeds look terrible. There is no grass in my yard. It is a lovely configuration of various types of weeds. Big. Small. Leafy. Stringy. Just weeds, plain and simple. But right now, those weeds are yellowish-brown and crunchy. There is no life left in them. My yard looks like the site of some major devastation. The upside is that the yard doesn't have to be mowed as frequently. The downside is that the site is depressing. The dreary scene seems to sap all the color out of everything: the trees, the sky, the flowers. It's just sad.

What is even more discouraging is that my body and spirit feel the same way. The past month and a half have been unlike anything I've ever imagined. It seemed like we jumped from one crisis to another. And then when things seemed to settle, Jason's work hit their busy season, and the chaos continued. I can't tell you that last time I got a full night's sleep. My exercises over the past month have been nearly non-existent. My eating habits have not gone in a favorable direction. And my daily routine? What is a routine again?

Please understand that I'm not complaining or seeking pity. I'm simply explaining how events in our lives can dry up our spirits and weaken our bodies. You know the verse that says "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Lately, I feel like my spirit is exhausted and my body is living off adrenaline and caffeine. I want my spirit to be willing, but I just can't seem to make it go that route.

It's not even that I'm discouraged. I'm just tired. I long to get back into a normal routine. Before all of this happened, I was making such good progress in my health plan and my writing. I felt good, energized and productive. Now, I feel like a zombie just trying to get through each day. I long for the state of life I had reached, but I realize that to reach that state again, I'll have to start over. That's a pleasant thought, isn't it?

Okay, now that you're totally depressed (cookie, anyone?), I'll tell you the good news. God's strength is perfect. Even though I may not feel like I have the energy to accomplish the day's tasks, God's grace is sufficient. Day by day, He gives me what I need to succeed. There is nothing that I can't do. He is all-powerful. Anything is possible! Everything is possible! In His strength, I can be willing and able to live life to its fullest.

What about you? Are you struggling to make it through? Do you feel like your life is a maze, and you're unsure which way to go? Does each day seem to bring more chaos than the day before? Are you so tired and weary that you can no longer find your "want to"? If so, don't give up. Don't be discouraged. No, you can't get through this time alone, but you don't have to. Turn to Jesus. Call His name. Open His Word. Hear His voice. Feel His presence. Allow Him to strengthen you. He can make all things right. Trust me. I know from experience.

Friday, August 19, 2011

He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not

Isn't it amazing how Satan can fill our minds with thoughts of both worthlessness and pride? In some instances, he comes to us and whispers how good we are and that we don't need to depend on anyone but ourselves, especially not God. He fills our minds with powerful thoughts of pride, fame and self-sufficiency, similar to the way he dealt with Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tells us that we're fine on our own, and sadly, many times we believe him.

On the other hand, he is the same source of worthlessness that we often feel. He is the one who comes to us and tells us that no one cares. He convinces us that we're all alone and the reason for that loneliness is because we're simply unlovable. He parades our faults and failures before us as a reminder of how lowly we truly are. He persuades us that God, no matter how loving, could not possibly love us after all that we've done. According to him, we're on our own.

Well, which is it? It can't be both ways. We can't be too good and too bad at the same time. We must recognize this ploy for what it is--lies from the father of all lies. Think about it, what could be better for Satan than a proud or discouraged Christian? It's an attack. Nothing more. Nothing less. The question is are we ready for it. When he comes knocking on our door, are we too distracted to notice the subtle darts he's firing at us?

No, we're not perfect, but we don't need to be. Christ has paid for all our sins, and it is only through His blood that we can be cleansed of those sins. That being said, it is also important to remember that there is nothing we could ever do to make God love us any more or any less. His love is perfect, and we are never separated from it.

Whatever lies Satan throws at you today, throw them back and say, "I am loved."

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson

Habakkuk 3:2 says, "O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known." In a world of such wickedness and pain, it often becomes difficult to see God working. The God of the Bible seems to be nothing more than rumors or fairy tales. Even those who are strong in the faith find themselves looking toward the heavens and crying, "God, are you there? Don't you see what's going on down here?" We long for a revival. We plead for God to make Himself known to us. Still, we're often left to wonder if the concepts in the Bible are little more than fanciful dreams.

The goal of Rumors of God is to remind us that the Bible is true and that while we may not see God working, He is there fulfilling His master plan. Authors Whitehead and Tyson lead the reader on a journey to experience the kind of faith he's only heard about. With heartwarming stories and applicable Scriptures, the authors explore some of the most important facets in the Christian life. Discussions on love, grace, compassion and hope abound throughout the pages of this well-written resource.

From the very first page, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. By the end of the first chapter, I was inspired and compelled to have a stronger faith and to do more with that faith. Page by page, I felt the Spirit nudging my heart. It wasn't as if I was necessarily learning anything new, but rather that old truths were being reinforced in my heart and mind. My favorite part was when one of the authors told the story of a visitor that had come to his church. The visitor had been quick to tell the author that he didn't enjoy the worship service because he didn't get anything out of it. The author's response was, "I'm sorry. You misunderstood. It wasn't meant for you." He went on to explain that the purpose of worship is to give glory to God, whether we get anything out of it or not. His forthright attitude made me appreciate the book even more as I have grown weary of the watered-down theology being served in many pulpits today. Rumors of God offers the truth, plain and simple.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Your House in Order?

The company with which my husband is employed (The Clean Force Company) has had a very busy week this week. They clean the carpets for a local apartment complex for college students. The existing tenants move out at the end of July, and the new tenants move in the second week of August. That leaves Clean Force with one week to clean the entire complex. With only two vans and three employees, the job means long hours and a lot of hard work.

Jason has been leaving around 7:00 in the morning and getting home around 8:00 in the evening. With that kind of schedule, I am confined to "dog duty" for the entire day. It's been nearly two weeks since I've been to the grocery store, and the meal selections are getting pretty slim. We're not starving by any means, but if I don't get to the store soon, I may have to start combining foods that God never intended to go together.

That being said, when I found out that last night would be another late night, I sent a text to Jason and asked if he would pick up a pizza on his way home. The response I received was "Sounds good. I invited Anthony [his co-worker] over too. I hope that's okay." To be honest, the first thought that popped into my head was Are you crazy????? First of all, I was hoping to have at least a little bit of family time before you crash. Second, the house is a disaster! You know this. You know I haven't been able to keep up with the housework while trying to keep Mitch down and calm. It just doesn't work. My dust bunnies have dust bunnies. Are you trying to kill me?

What I actually said was something along the lines of "I guess so. I had hoped to have some family time, but if you've already invited him, we'll make it work." What was I supposed to do? Un-invite him. That would be rude. Besides, I like Anthony. I just didn't want anyone to see my house in its current condition. I don't even like seeing my house in its current condition. (Fortunately, I had already removed the pesky five-foot-long spider condo.)

I did what I could to spruce up the house a little. I ran the dust mop across the floor and corralled as many dust bunnies as possible. I cleared off the dining room table so that we would have a place to eat. I ran a brush through my hair and dabbed a little makeup on my face. Everything looked better but far from perfect. Fortunately, I think Anthony, like Jason, was too tired to care. Still, I felt so ashamed. After all, doesn't the Bible say something about women being "keepers at home"?

But you know, as important as it is to keep our physical houses in order, it's even more important to keep our spiritual houses in order. You see, I had warning that company was coming over for dinner. I had a couple of hours to set things in order (somewhat). When the Lord returns, there will be no such warning. There will be no phone call or text message letting us know He's on His way. There will be no more time to set our houses in order.

Are you ready to meet Him today? Have you been washed in His blood? Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? Have you confessed your sin and asked for forgiveness? Is your house ready? Dust bunnies or not, here He comes!

If you would like to learn more about what it means to set your house in order, please contact me. I would love to introduce you to the greatest gift ever given.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. - Matthew 24:36

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Scalf Linamen

The Chocolate Diaries is a book of secrets for a sweeter journey on the rocky road of life. The book is full of illustrations, real-life accounts, hilarious anecdotes and even recipes for delicious chocolate delights. With wit and charm, Linamen discusses difficult issues that women face and offers new insights on dealing with the problems. Some of the stories are so inspirational they could touch even the hardest heart. Other stories are so comical you'll find yourself laughing until tears run down your cheeks. The book is both heartwarming and eye-opening.

I am a huge fan of Karen Scalf Linamen and own most of her books. From what I see of her in her work, we are kindred spirits. We're both a little kooky, and neither of us are afraid to admit that sometimes life is not what we expected. Nevertheless, God is good and faithful, which is a theme carried out through each of Linamen's books (that and chocolate, which is just another way we are kindred spirits).

When I discovered the opportunity to review Linamen's new book, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to delve into its pages. It has been a difficult month, and I knew that if anyone could make me laugh through my tears, it was she. I was not disappointed. In fact, at one point, I was laughing so hard that my husband couldn't help but ask what in the world was so funny. I was laughing too hard to tell him. The Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine," and I can tell you it's true.

The Chocolate Diaries was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I needed to be uplifted and encouraged. I needed to laugh. I needed to be reminded that while my troubles look big, I am blessed and have a very good life. I needed the reminder to look up. Can a book do all that? Yes, my friend, it can. Whether you're feeling down or just need a good laugh, I highly recommend getting a copy of The Chocolate Diaries. I guarantee you will not regret it!

I received this book as part of the Blogging for Books program hosted by Waterbrook Multnomah. The opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 8, 2011

No Doubt About It

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. - Matthew 19:26

This morning, I had the opportunity to read some thought-provoking thoughts from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Here are just a couple of the quotes I read. What pops into your mind as you read them?

"There's no use trying," [Alice] said, "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

"For you see, so many out-of-the way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things were really impossible."

Believing in the impossible. What a great lesson for believers and unbelievers alike. More than once, the Bible states that nothing is impossible with God. He can do all things. Because the Bible says it, we know it's true. So why don't we act like we know it's true? Why does it take so little to shake our faith?

I'm currently teaching a series on God's promises in our ladies' Sunday School class. So far, the series has taken us through several different events with Jesus and his disciples. We've seen the disciples sent out by two's to preach and heal. We've seen the feeding of the 5,000. We've seen the calming of the storm and the calming of the spirit of the maniac of Gadara. What catches my attention is that from one miracle to the next, the disciples never seem to grasp the power of the One they are with. They watch Him work a miracle, but at the very next sign of trouble, they wring their hands and moan, "Now what are we going to do?" Just once, I'd like to see them turn to Jesus and say, "Wow, this is really a predicament, but we've seen you solve worse problems than this. What do you want us to do, Lord?" Just once, I'd like to see myself do the same.

It's easy to say that I believe God can do the impossible. It's another thing to live like it. And in that area, I'm afraid I have to say that I fail daily. I want to believe. I want to trust. But there's this nagging doubt in the back of my mind that says, "Yes, He's God, but this is a really big problem. You'd better try to handle this one on your own." Brilliant, huh? Instead of handing my problems over to the Almighty God, I keep them in my own hands. Me. You know, the one who can't walk and chew gum at the same time. The one who can't find her way to the mall without the aid of a map or GPS. The one who can't grasp the simple meaning behind faith. Yeah, that's a great idea.

Oh, Lord, forgive me of my doubts and my fears. Please forgive me for thinking that I could handle things that are way over my head. Help me, Lord, to trust in You. You are the God of the impossible. You can do all things. You don't need my help or my permission. You have it under control. Help me to not only believe in Your power, but also to act like I believe in it. Help me to live my life in assurance that You can meet every need.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Same Verse - New Meaning

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10

For most of my adult life, this has been one of my favorite verses. In fact, I often use it as a prayer. Unfortunately, I often find it necessary to pray for a clean heart and a right attitude. And until recently, that's all I really saw in this verse.

Create in me a clean heart - Lord, forgive me of my sins and wash my heart clean. It's simple. It's basic. It's to the point. I've done wrong. My heart is dirty. Please clean it.

Renew a right spirit within me - Lord, help my attitude. I'm having a lot of trouble with it right now. I'm angry and bitter. I'm jealous or covetous. My attitude is not right, and I want to get it right before I say something I'll regret. This attitude is not helpful, nor is it pleasing to You. Please renew a right attitude in my heart.

If that were all I ever gleaned from this verse, it would be enough. But through our recent trial with Mitch, God showed me another nugget to hold fast to. You see, throughout this entire ordeal, I've been struggling. Not with anger or bitterness. Not with discontentment. Not with discouragement. No, I've been struggling with fear. The "what if's" have been knocking at my door constantly. What if he starts bleeding again? What if the stitches don't hold? What if infection sets in? What if you have to start this process over. . . AGAIN? What if this? What if that? Day and night, my mind has been filled with nagging questions and suffocating doubts.

Now, when I say that I've been struggling with fear, let me elaborate. I haven't just been afraid. I've been downright terrified at times. I'm talking scared to the point of shaking so bad I could barely stand and being so sick to my stomach that I was sure I was going to lose my lunch. The gnawing sensation within me was paralyzing and sickening.

During one of my attacks, God brought to mind another powerful verse: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7) At that moment, the two verses seemed to collide, and I saw something I'd never seen before. When I pray, "Renew a right spirit within me," it goes far beyond just fixing my attitude. It goes much deeper than that. It means fixing my entire spirit. Now, when I pray that prayer, instead of just thinking of an improved attitude, I realize that I am asking God to take away my fear and to replace it with power, love and a sound mind.

You see, God is not the author fear. It doesn't come from Him. It is not of Him. By allowing it to rule my thoughts and actions, I was allowing it to take the place of God in my life. I was allowing it to become my master. For me, this is unacceptable.

Am I still fearful? From time to time, yes. Is that fear still gripping? Most definitely. So, what's changed? The way I handle it. I now know how to pray. I know what to pray for. I know what kind of spirit I need. And above all, I know the One who can give me that spirit. It's up to me, however, to ask.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dog Tired!

Last night was not a good night. It started off fine, but once Jason left for work, it went downhill fast. We had gotten Mitch all settled in for the evening. In fact, he was sleeping quite peacefully on our bed. Normally, once we can get him settled, he stays settled for the night. However, when Jason had to leave at 9:00 last night to go to work, Mitch quickly became unsettled.

For hours, I tried to coax him into going to sleep. I petted him. I talked with him. I hugged him and loved on him. He would settle for a few minutes and then jump up like someone had stuck him with a pin. When Jason arrived home at 12:30 in the morning, I had hopes that Mitch would settle in. He didn't, at least, not until 5:30 this morning.

I honestly don't know what was wrong with him. I took him outside for a bathroom break. I gave him some water. I even gave him a little milk. For crying out loud, I even spent some time on the floor so that he wouldn't be cramped. Finally, at 5:30, we had had enough. We put him down on the cushion on the floor. Within a few minutes, he was settled. Go figure! Unfortunately, Jason had to get up at 6:30.

As I stumbled around the house this morning, I noticed several things. I was hungry, thirsty and extremely achy. I had visions of chocolate donuts and Pepsi dancing in my head. I even told Jason, "I'd give my right arm this morning for some caffeine." I was joking, of course, but I can't deny that the cravings were definitely there.

As I thought about this, I remembered reading once how when our bodies are tired, they will actually crave other things to try to make up for the lack. My body wasn't really hungry or thirsty (although, I believe it truly was achy). My body was tired, and no matter how many donuts I ate or sodas I drank, my body would still be tired. Why? Because I'm not giving it what it needs. It needs sleep. Lots and lots of sleep! While food and drink may offer a temporary pick-me-up, they will not fulfill the deeper craving.

I wonder how many times we try to fill our lives with things to fill the void, knowing deep down that only God can fill that emptiness. I'm not just talking about salvation, but even in the Christian walk, it's possible to meet our cravings without truly meeting our need. Our spirit craves time with God, but we're too busy to make that happen. Our spirit craves spiritual bread from the Word, but instead we fill it with television and internet. It's no wonder something always seems to be missing. There's a place in our hearts and lives that only God can fill. It's about time we stopped trying to fill it with other things and started giving ourselves what we truly need.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Mitch is napping, and I think I may do the same. After all, sleep is what I truly need.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Desiring God by John Piper

Desiring God is a book about finding joy and satisfaction in God and God alone. Throughout the pages of the book, author John Piper teaches that the Christian need not choose between delight and duty in the spiritual walk. He offers the opinion that the only true way to glorify God is to find joy in His presence and His person. Using a multitude of Scriptures to back up his point of view, Piper introduces Christian hedonism which states that "delighting in Him [God] is the work of our lives." Piper puts forth the claim that God can only be glorified in our lives when we are satisfied in Him.

To be honest, this book was not exactly what I expected it to be, not that that's either good or bad. In fact, I found the book to be very deep and detailed, so much so, that I will need to re-read it several times before I can truly grasp all of what he's trying to say. The book is rather lengthy, and Piper has a tendency to repeat himself a lot. Unfortunately, when he repeats himself, he uses the same language as before instead of restating things in a clearer (or even different) manner.

Because the book was so long and so deep, I fear I found the process of getting through it rather tedious. There were insightful passages, but overall, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I want to understand what I'm reading so that I can make a decision on whether or not I agree. To do so with this book will require me to read it several more times, but honestly, I don't know that it's worth the effort. There are too many other books out there that I can read through and grasp fully on the first time.

Again, I am not saying that the book is bad. It was just difficult to follow, at least for me. Parts of it did cause me to examine my Christian walk and ask myself, "Am I a joyful Christian?" After all, when others look at me, they should see Christ, the joy of the world. For this insight, as well as some other golden nuggets, I give the book a rating of "Good."

I received this book as part of the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books program. The opinion stated here is my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Packing Light

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.- Mark 6:7-9

In this passage, Jesus is sending out His disciples to do great works in His name. The passage goes on to tell us how the disciples, though the power of Christ, healed the sick and cast out demons. I imagine, however, that when they were given their instructions, they were a little perplexed. I know I would be.

Basically, Jesus tells them to set forth on a journey without taking any provisions. No food. No money. No extra clothing. Nothing but a staff (presumably for protection from wild animals). That's it! Now when we go on a trip, my husband does a wonderful job of packing light. He takes only the bare essentials and has no problem with wearing the same shoes with every outfit. But what Jesus was telling the disciples to set out with goes far beyond light packing. They weren't to take anything but a staff.

I imagine a hand going in the air. "Um, excuse me, Jesus. How are we supposed to provide for ourselves? How are we supposed to eat?" Jesus just smiles and continues to give other instructions for the journey. When the directions are completed, the disciples are sent out. Now, let's fast forward to their return from their journey.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. - Mark 6:30

Interesting! Excitement fills the air as the disciples recount their stories to Christ. They speak of healing and restoration. They talk of powerful sermons and stirring devotions. But what's interesting to me is what is not mentioned. There is no mention of their want. No mention of a lack of provision. No mention of starvation. By what's not mentioned, we can see that Christ provided for the needs of the disciples. Though they took nothing with them, they had everything they needed.

The story goes on, but I'll carry this over until tomorrow's post. In closing, let me just say that sometimes it looks like we don't have what we need to complete our journey. Our strength is gone. We're out of time. The bank account is empty. Our health is failing. Whatever the case may be, it may seem like we're headed out on a journey without any provisions. Just as with the disciples, God will provide what we need when we need it. Trust in His promise.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19