Monthly Archives: September 2013

Anybody in Need of a Shepherd

Have you ever lost anyTHING?

AnyONE?

Have you ever forgotten where you parked your car?

Sorry to say this is my new inexplicable occurrence du jour…

A friend of mine said she and her husband bought one of those recorder thing-ys  for her Mother-in-law last Christmas.  This thing, “As-Seen-On-TV”, allows you to speak into it & say, “I parked in 5B”, to remind yourself where you parked. My friend admitted she’d wished she’d bought one for herself as well! (Perhaps this will surface on our Christmas lists this year…)

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This week I’d like to tell you about a beautifully written and powerfully encouraging book by Robert J. Morgan.  John and I have been blessed to meet Rob, hear him preach at his church in Nashville (where he’s preached for thirty-three years), and read his amazing books (twenty-five and counting).

He once drove from Nashville to speak to our Book Club when we’d read 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.  Loads of men and women were beyond blessed that evening.

My challenge is to only write about one of his books as they each touch the reader in a myriad of ways.  (I’ll list some of them for you at the end and you can peruse his website when you get a chance:  www.robertjmorgan.com )

Let’s take a look at some of the many pearls Rob offers in his latest book, The Lord is My Shepherd—Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23. 

 The Lord is my shepherd

For those of us who love pets, as in dogs and cats, and for some who own and ride horses, we grasp the whole pet care/call-me-crazy concept.  But how unique of  Rob and his wife, Katrina, to counter offer their daughters’ request for horses by suggesting sheep!

They immediately bought four or five lambs and their daughters were hooked.  They got to bottle-feed them at first.  Imagine gazing out in your backyard and seeing sheep grazing!

Rob points out that even if we don’t have actual sheep in our backyard, simply from reading Psalm 23, “we can gaze out that evocative window every day. ..It’s possible to transport yourself instantly to green pastures, still waters, restored souls, overflowing cups, and righteous pathways.”

(The sheep and the pasture photos below are thanks to permission from  Liz Curtis Higgs and her fascinating Scottish blog:  www.MyScottishHeart.com )

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NOW, more than ever, we Christians need the peace and power of Psalm 23.”

Furthermore, “ALL sheep need a good shepherd.” Uh, and that would be you and me.

Even when we think, “Oh, I’m just fine, thanks.  Don’t need anything.  Don’t need anyone either.”  That’s exactly when we need a shepherd, because frankly, we humans are a tad bit like sheep.  Wandering for a shepherd.

Isaiah 53:6 in the NIV says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Rob informs us that “a sheep is the one animal that is utterly clueless and helpless without a human being nearby….Without someone tending us, we become ragged, unhealthy, and utterly pathetic.”

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Let’s look at this familiar psalm for a minute:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (NKJV)

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Just a few of the fun facts on Psalm 23 that Rob includes are fascinating: (I’m only giving you a few so you can discover the rest when you read the book!)

“It only has 6 verses and about 100 words.

It begins with ‘The Lord’ and it ends with ‘forever’.

25% of the text includes 28 personal pronouns.

Sheep, shepherds, lambs, and flocks are mentioned nearly 700 times in the Bible.

The sheep is the first animal mentioned by name in the Bible. (Genesis 4:2, Amplified Bible)”

While Rob covers the concepts of peace and God’s power within Psalm 23, each chapter is filled with encouraging, equipping ideas for the reader to take to heart.  One of my favorite parts is where Rob talks about the theme of Psalm 23.  The Living Bible says, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.”

Pages 34 and 35 show us how we will not lack for “peace, provision, hope and encouragement, guidance, deliverance, companionship, protection, help and healing, abundant life, nor for an eternal home.”  He takes you thru’ each verse! It’s akin to a pep talk to press on!!!

Additionally, if you struggle with fear like I do, you’ll see case, after case, after case built straight out of the Bible to put you at peace.  Rob shows us “the testimony of Psalm 23:4, ‘I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

The Bible assures us and reassures us of the real and literal presence of the Lord in, upon, and around our lives every day.

Our instant connection to Him is prayer, and one of the simplest prayers in history is:  ‘I will fear no evil, for You are with me.’”

 

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My favorite quote from Jill Briscoe’s book, A Little Pot of Oil, is also included in The Lord is My Shepherd, bringing home again, that sweet point of the Lord’s presence with us.

Jill says, “In the years following, I have never stopped learning about the Spirit’s sweet, abiding presence.

He has drawn me to Christ as Savior and Lord and

Has ignited a passion in my soul for those who do not know Him.

He has taught me how to pray when I didn’t have a clue what to say,

Enlightened my mind to the Scriptures and

Thoroughly applied them to my life, and

Overwhelmed me with grace.

He has strengthened me when I was weak,

Humbled me when I was proud, and

Sensitized me to sin.  In fact,

He has been all that I have needed Him to be, whenever I have needed Him.”

A little pot of oil

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest book store for The Lord is My Shepherd—Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23.  You will be so blessed and you’ll want to share it with your friends and family. (My husband, John, just finished it and loved it!)

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” will never ring truer for you and me.

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated, bet you can guess, to author, speaker, pastor and friend, Rob Morgan.  Thanks, Rob,  for another beautiful book we can all savor over and over!  Please keep writing!  Hug Katrina for both John and me!  We hope to see you soon!)

Rob Morgan

Please pray for Rob and his family and his church, The Donelson Fellowship.  It’s only about five minutes from Opryland, if you’re ever in Nashville.  It’s an experience you do not want to miss.  The church’s website is:  www.donelson.org

Rob’s website is:  www.robertjmorgan.com (Checkout all of his books!)

A few of my favorite books of his include:

The Promise

Red Sea Rules

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Then Sings My Soul

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Filed under Book Reviews, Friends, Life Lessons

Book Club Resumes with The Harbinger this Monday, September 23rd! Please join us!

Ahhh, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Branches’ Women’s Ministry’s Book Club is about to resume!  If you are anywhere near Louisville, by all means, please join us!  And bring a friend or two or four!!!  (For more information on the Book Club, click on Brand-New Branches Book Club)

We’ll discuss a breath-taking, show-stopping book by Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger—The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future.  You’ll love hearing from Maggie Alcorn, Amy Davenport, and Nancy Tinnell who will enlighten us on the book and lead us in discussion.

TheHarbinger

For those of you who’ve read it and then ask, “Now what?”, there’s a new Companion book with a study guide that’ll answer lots of your questions.  It’s got a neat section in the beginning that shows pictures of the locations of the Harbingers.

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The “story behind the story” chapter is also incredible.  Jonathan whipped out the first book in only four months.  Reviewers call it “mind blowing” and you will agree.

While we recommend you read the book BEFORE you come, some attendees enjoy hearing the discussion FIRST and then deciding if they’ll read the book afterwards! Either way, come see us and bring a friend!  We’ll meet at Middletown United Methodist Church from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  They are located at 11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY  40243. (www.middletownumc.org )

If you have questions, you may call Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839 or email her at:  NTinnell@middletownumc.org

Hope to see you Monday night!

Future meetings for your calendars include:

October 28th, 2013The Chance by Karen Kingsbury

TheChance

 

November 25, 2013The Christmas Quilt  by Vanetta Chapman

The Christmas Quilt

BREAK FOR CHRISTMAS….

January 27, 2014 Gods at War by Kyle Idleman .  Meet the Author!!! KYLE WILL BE JOINING US!!!!  Men are welcome!

Gods at War

 

February 24, 2014Joni and Ken:  An Untold Love Story by Ken Tada and Joni Ereckson Tada

Joni and Ken

 

March 24, 2014I Am Potential by Patrick Henry Hughes.  Meet the Author!!!  PATRICK WILL BE JOINING  US!!!  Men are welcome!

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April 28, 2014Tattler’s Branch by Jan Watson   (We’ve invited Jan and are hoping she’ll drive over from Lexington to be with us!)

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‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to our fearlessly brave ladies who host Book Club:  Nancy Tinnell, Maggie Alcorn, and Amy Davenport.  We must all covet to pray for them over this new season and year.  Thanks for all your time and effort!  Can’t wait to get started again!!!)

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Filed under Book Clubs, Friends

LAUNDRY – In the Bible?

Oh, the laundry…

Piles, and piles, and piles of dirty laundryAnd no matter how careful you are, at the end of the folding and sorting, you still wind up with an odd  number of socks.  Or that perfectly-now-mildewed-load you forgot about two days ago.  Sigh…

Just use your imagination to picture what our laundry looked like, while raising three boys, who all participated in sports.  Throw in a very adventuresome husband, my case for saying I really am blessed with four boys, and we’re talkin’ Mt. Everest-like piles.

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This past week, even tho’ we’re now empty nesters, my husband (remember, my fourth boy) has been all over the state of Kentucky hunting doves.  You know those poor, lil’ ole coo-ing birds.  Nope, we’re not travelin’ down the hunting road for discussion, but let’s just say, as I type, our yard has as many feathers strewn about as blades of grass.

I’ve grabbed the Oxi Clean more than once to spray the mud and blood out of his huntin’ clothes.  Ewwwwwwww.

God’s timing is hilarious.  Last week I was with dear friends discussing Chapter One from Liz Curtis Higgs’ Bad Girls of the Bible and What We Can Learn From Them.  I was stunned to discover “laundry” is in the Bible!

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We arrived at question three, part b (This is on page 246 if you have the book).  Liz says, “Psalm 51 gives us a biblical model for handling sin in our lives, step by step.

You may be surprised to discover how much God is willing to do on your behalf.   Read the entire psalm, and then note the many specific things David asked God to do for him.  Of all those requests, which ONE would YOU ask of God right now?”

When I did my homework on these questions, I’d read from the NIV version.   I noted it seemed like a really good “shopping list”!  I found it more-than-challenging to choose just one thing to ask God.

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Especially after my friend Jane read it to us in the Message (See below.)  We all wound up choosing several.   You can see I highlighted our favorites.

Psalm 51: 1-17, in the Message, reads:

“(1-3) Generous in love—God, give grace!

huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.

Scrub away my guilt,

soak out my sins in your laundry.

I know how bad I’ve been;

my sins are staring me down.

(4-6) You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen

it all, seen the full extent of my evil.

You have all the facts before you;

whatever you decide about me is fair.

I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,

in the wrong since before I was born.

What you’re after is truth from the inside out.

enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

(7-15)  Soak me in your laundry and I’ll  come out clean,

scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,

set these once-broken bones to dancing.

Don’t look too close for blemishes,

give me a clean bill of health.

God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

Don’t throw me out with the trash,

or fail to breath holiness in me.

Bring me back from gray exile,

put a fresh wind in my sails!

Give me a job  teaching rebels your ways

so the lost can find their way home.

Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,

and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.

Unbutton my lips, dear God;

I’ll let loose with your praise.

(16-17)  Going through the motions doesn’t please you,

a flawless performance is nothing to you.

I learned God-worship

when my pride was shattered.

Heart-shattered lives ready for love

don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

Look at verse 2:  “Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.”  Isn’t that the best visual?  All of you laundresses out there, can you relate?

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(Quick time out:  Those of you who love to iron like I do (NOT!) may be happy to hear my friend, Sherry, doesn’t even own an iron!  I told her, upon this exuberant discovery, we’d be fast friends forever.  I digress…)

Back to the Bible:  Verse 7 is even better:  “Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.”  This is such a picture of cleansing and redemption.  Love that.

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Several of us in the group also chose vs. 10, which in the NIV is about asking for a “pure heart and the renewal for a steadfast spirit.”  I love how the Message says, “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.”

How many times do we beg for “do-overs”?  All you golfers out there, don’t you love mulligans?  I sure could use a “Genesis week”.  You?

A couple of other gals chose vs. 12 regarding “restoration of joy and a willing spirit to sustain us.”  (NIV) Whereas the Message says, “Bring me back from GRAY EXILE, put a FRESH WIND in my sails.”

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What a great picture of  renewal, restoration, even rescue from the depths of despair or “gray exile”.  Isn’t that the best?  See what I mean by a great “shopping list”???

What we tend to forget is King David wrote this psalm after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan over his adultery with Bathsheba.  Let’s not forget he also orchestrated the killing of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband! (See 2 Samuel 11)

And yet the redeeming kicker is: David knows where to go, whom to go to, and what to ask for.  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  Cleansing. Deliverance.  He knows the traits of the Lord because of their relationship.

Relationship with us is what God seeks.  In Liz’ book on the Bad Girls, she points out that while Adam and Eve had sinned by eating the apple, God still sought them out.  He went to find them.  “You can run, but you can’t hide” has never been so true.

And covering up our sins?  That doesn’t work either, because God knows.  Sooner or later the truth will come out.  I pray we all will realize where we are with God.  Are you okay with Him today?

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Max Lucado, in his new book, You’ll Get Through This—Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times, tells of a time when he and his wife, Denalyn, were in a disagreement about which realtor to use for the sale of their home.  He stormed off to church to preach. (Well now there’s a future searing sermon if there ever was one!)

Gnawing at his heart was this all-is-not-right feeling.  He said, “The distance between my house and the church building is only a five-minute drive.  But that’s all it took for God to prick my conscience with the truth.  Shouldn’t you be at peace with your wife before you preach to my church?”

Finally, before preaching, Max called Denalyn and they talked thru’ their problem.  He knew if his heart wasn’t right with his wife, it wasn’t right with God either.  Let’s pose that question again:  Are you okay with Him today?

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I experienced a tortuous time recently.  It begged for some truth-telling.  I lost more than a night’s sleep over it.  And the longer it went on, the worse things got. I felt like I was dragging a wagon full of lead, everywhere I went.

Finally, the truth came out.  Yes, there were consequences, but I have never in my life experienced more freedom and relief.

John 8:32 is the best:  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV)  My Life Application Bible enlightens:  “Jesus himself is the truth that sets us free. He is the source of truth, the perfect standard of what is right.  He frees us from the consequences of sin, from self-deception, and from deception by Satan.”

John 8:36 says, “ If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.” NIV

My treasured friends, we must hang our hats on verse 2, where David is saying God is “Huge in mercy.”  He asks Him to wipe out his bad record, scrub away his guilt, and we can now return to the laundry (!): “soak out my sins in your laundry.”  Perhaps go have a good soak in your bathtub!

Verse 7 in the NIV says, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

May God’s unfailing love cover every square inch of you and me. And may our laundry piles only be a reminder of  the cleansing we have available from God and His unending grace.

Don’t miss verse 17 in the Message:  “Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

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‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to one of the most amazing writers and sweetest friends around: Liz Curtis Higgs.  She’s the real deal.  She’s a precious, encouraging friend and mentor to me.  She’s one of my favorite authors (www.lizcurtishiggs.com).  She loves the Lord more than life itself.  She can articulate grace to others like no other person I know.  She juggles a crammed calendar, a smokin’ keyboard on her computer, a brain burstin’ with books and still somehow ministers to all of us.  God Bless you, Lizzie.  Keep writing and I’ll buzz over and do your laundry any time. Of course, it may come out very gray! And by the way, we are LOVING the Bad Girls!)

Y’all come see us in Bible study.  We’ve only started with the first Bad Girl, and there are nine more to go!  (Click on….“You’re invited”…)

Standing are Elizabeth Jeffries and me.
Sitting from left to right are our buddies Jane Chilton, Naomi Rhode and our Lizzie
Standing are Elizabeth Jeffries and me. Sitting from left to right are our buddies Jane Chilton, Naomi Rhode and our Lizzie

Standing are Elizabeth Jeffries and me.
Sitting from left to right are our buddies Jane Chilton, Naomi Rhode and our Lizzie

 

 

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