Monthly Archives: November 2015

When You Say Grace this Thanksgiving…

We’re talkin’ Turkey this week….You?

Turkey and stuffing….

Mashed potatoes…

Piping hot gravy…

Homemade yeast rolls…

Green beans cooked-to-death in savory-n-salty Kentucky country ham…

Pumpkin pie…

Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey On A Plate(Someone please tell me there is chocolate, somewhere???)

My favorite children’s book this time of year is The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, because let me tell you, for a lot of years, many relatives came from all over the place. They stayed all over the place. They stayed a very, very, very long time. (I s’pose the three-day fish rule hadn’t been implemented yet.)

The Relatives Came

My Aunt who started this whole thing is now at Sainthood status in my book. I laugh out loud over the years I balked at trekking to Owensboro for Thanksgiving.  My Mother would remind Dad and me that this very well  could be my Aunt’s last Thanksgiving. (That was at least fifteen years before she did go to be with the Lord.)

Generally every year is different, tho’, depending on who’s visiting which side of the family. This makes for every year’s uniqueness, and for that, we are all thankful. Seriously. Keeps you guessin’…

This Thanksgiving Week all I want us to do is focus on one simple Scripture. I landed on it in the same devotional I told you about last week, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist.

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Shauna says,

“I absolutely believe that…

Gratitude is a way of life,

a practice as opposed to a feeling,

and I want to be the kind of person who chooses to be grateful for what is, instead of angry about what isn’t. Wow! Let that soak in for a few seconds…

Here’s the verse I want us to chew on all Thanksgiving Week:

Colossians 4:2 in the NIV says:

“Devote yourselves to prayer,

being watchful

and thankful.”

The NLT expounds on watchful and thankful suggesting we pray “with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition doles out a specific prescription:

“Be persistent

and unwearied

and steadfast in your prayer life,

being both alert

and intent in your praying with thanksgiving.”

These adjectives are some kind of magnanimous marching papers!!! Park on them for a few minutes! Here’s my summary:  Never give up praying…And while you’re at it, be happy while praying!!!

Phillips’ version and the ESV suggest an ongoing lifestyle of prayer: “Always maintain the habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray.” (Phillips)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (ESV)

The Message is bottom line:

“Pray diligently.

Stay alert,

with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”

May we all meditate on these six versions of Colossians 4:2…Try taking one per day of Thanksgiving Week. My prayer is we’ll all be more grateful, even for the little things this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Count Your Blessings

Blessings to all and may you find some chocolate somewhere….

Chocolates background. Chocolate. Assortment of fine chocolates

‘Til next time!

P.S. My good buddy Liz Curtis Higgs taught me how to look at several versions of the Bible at once. It really helps in your understanding of God’s Word. Here’s her tip:

Go to: www.biblegateway.com

Type in your Scripture you wish to study. (To see all the versions, it can only be one verse.)

In this example from our post, try typing in “Colossians 4:2” and hit “Search”.

Underneath where the Scripture is, there’s a neat little phrase that says, “Colossians 4:2 in all English translations” Click on that, and voila!!!

All the versions will show and if you don’t know the abbreviations, keep scrolling down and they’ll be spelled out for you. It’s the BEST!!!!

Give it a whirl….

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Holidays, Life Lessons

Every. Single. Day…(Savor by Shaunna Niequist is a must-read.)

Brush your teeth.

Floss.

Wash your hands.

Woman Washing Hand Under RunningTake your vitamins.

Don’t forget your meds…

Especially if some of the above phrases come from your doctor, we’d all be wise to heed his or her advice. Every day. Right?

Every. Single. Day.

What if we added one more daily activity, guaranteed to help us and all those who cross our path?

I ran across this idea in a new devotional I’m crazy about. (One can never have too many devotionals, right?) You may want to consider this for a Christmas gift for your friends or family members. Little fun fact: in addition to three hundred and sixty-five devotions, about every ten to fifteen pages, Shauna includes fun recipes!

It’s called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist. (www.shaunaniequist.com ) Shauna is a beautiful young wife to Aaron and Mom of two boys, Henry and Mac. She also happens to be the daughter of well-known preacher, teacher and writer, Bill Hybels and his sweet wife, Lynne. (www.billhybels.org and www.lynnehybels.com )

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Shauna wrote this devotional to teach us readers ways to savor our lives. This encompasses our children, friends and family, our community, God’s creation, etc. She says, “This is my attempt to clear away space and noise, inviting you to hear the ‘drumbeat’. God’s always speaking, always.

He’s always moving,

Always present,

Always creating,

Always healing.

The trick, at least for me, is paying attention.

The trick is savoring.

As God would orchestrate, my Wednesday Bible study group just finished Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. We declared it’s a manual for the Christian Life. Priscilla says we must put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) daily…and, in a gazillion other ways, she says we must have our faces planted in His Word every day.

Every. Single. Day.

I just so happened to bring Shauna’s devotional with me to Bible study for Show and Tell.  Don’t you know that day’s devotion was right out of Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is a like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Note we’ll be blessed when we delight in His Word, when we meditate on it day and night.)

Eugene Peterson’s wording from the same passage above in The Message is simultaneously amusing (“Smart-Mouth College!!!”) and to the point:

“How well God must like you—

You don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

You don’t sling along Dead-End Road,

You don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,

You chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

Bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

Always in blossom.”

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Same can be said for our Christian walk. The more we study the Bible, the more we become Christ-like, yielding fruit for Him, bearing “fresh fruit.”

Apples On Tree

Joshua 1:8 tell us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

psalm 119-97

Psalm 119:97 simply says, “Oh, how I love your law!   I meditate on it all day long.

Friends, these are just three of seventy-one verses in the Bible on Meditation. (Check out www.openbible.info to see more.) My Life Application Bible says, “Meditating means spending time reading and thinking about what you’ve read—asking yourself how you can change so you will live as God wants you to.” As my friend Caroline says, “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Shauna says her Dad suggests:

“… every Christian needs to spend time alone with God every day, praying, listening, reading the Bible, letting ourselves be reminded that we are God’s creation, God’s children.”

Every. Single. Day.

Shauna adds, “God wants his people to trust Him daily, to need Him and follow Him every morning with new faith.”

coffeeandBible

She confesses, “I couldn’t live well without regularly reading God’s Word.

Every. Single. Day.

Should you find yourself saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but I don’t have time for that.” I challenge you to simply give it a try. You’ll be surprised when you give God your first few minutes of the day, somehow your minutes and hours are more plentiful. Just try it. (You can also get some more ideas from this: “BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A BIBLE STUDY”)

Every. Single. Day.

‘Til next time!

 

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Do You Know That You Are Flawless?

Ahhh, marital bliss….Could be an oxymoron, but one would pray for one’s marriage to truly bling-n-blossom with bliss.

Same can be said for relational bliss… Right?

“Right” being the magical word. As in, “I’m right.” But of course, ideally, you wouldn’t want to have to say that. What you wish for is for your spouse or your friend or relative to say, “YOU are right.”

Hubster and I have an ongoing joke with each other whenever one of us says, “You were right about that.” If we catch each other, whoever heard it will say, “Wait, what did you say?” To which the other will eat crow and repeat, “You were right about that.”

Why is it so hard to tuck tail and admit the other was right? Uh, that would be because our friendly foe called Pride tells us otherwise.

We want to be right.

We need to be right.

We need to show whomever we’re talking with, “It’s my-way-or-the-highway, turkey.”

Angry Fury Woman Screaming Man Closes His Ears.But….for marital bliss, or any relational bliss to bling-n-blossom, you’ve got to dump those lies.

There’s freedom in not having to be right all the time. Maybe, just maybe, your friend or spouse could have a point.

Freedom SignWhen Lynn Reese visited our Bible study recently, she taught us about humility. The chapter we studied from Liz Curtis Higgs’ It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba is simply entitled “It’s Good to Be Humble”.

FINAL-COVER-Its-Good-to-Be-Queen-600x900-267x400Lynn said, “The prescription for humility comes from the inside out.” As in the heart….Hello?

She added, “Humility is not thinking about yourself at all.” Just try that in your next conversation. Piece of cake? I don’t think so. Way worth the effort, tho’!

Finally, Lynn had us listen to an amazing song by Mercy Me called “Flawless”. We will go over some of the lyrics in a minute, but what I plead for you to do is to take the time (four fabulous minutes) to watch the YouTube.

The visual will open your eyes to how we are all good-n-bad, workaholics, battling bad attitudes, guilt ridden, doubtful, suffering with an illness, struggling with an addiction, you-name-it, we are all flawless because of the cross.

Cross Against The SkyHubster and I watched this YouTube over breakfast the other morning with tears streaming down our cheeks. (Spoiler alert:   When you do watch this, do not be shocked by the paint all over the band members! Watch how it’s removed….It’s the big, beautiful point of the song…) Three million, eight hundred thousand, four hundred and ninety-three people so far have watched this…

FLAWLESS” BY MERCY ME  (Official Music Video)

Let these lyrics soak in:

“There’s got to be more

Than going back and forth

From doing right to doing wrong

‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are

Come on get in line right behind me

You along with everybody

Thinking there’s worth in what you do…

Then like a hero who takes the stage when

We’re on the edge of our seats saying, “It’s too late…”

Well let me introduce you to amazing grace…

(REFRAIN)

No matter the bumps

No matter the bruises

No matter the scars

Still the truth is

The cross has made

The cross has made you flawless

No matter the hurt

Or how deep the wound is

No matter the pain

Still the truth is

The cross has made

The cross has made you flawless

Wooden Background With Olive Heart And White Cross For An Obitua

Could it possibly be

That we simply can’t believe

That this unconditional

Kind of love would be enough

To take a filthy wretch like this

And wrap him up in righteousness

But that’s exactly what He did

(REFRAIN)

Take a breath, smile and say

Right here, right now, “I’m ok…”

Because the cross was enough

People finding Christianity

Then like a hero who takes the stage when

We’re on the edge of our seats saying, “It’s too late…”

Well let me introduce you to grace, grace,

God’s grace”

No matter the bumps

No matter the bruises

No matter the scars

Still the truth is

The cross has made

The cross has made you flawless

No matter the hurt

Or how deep the wound is

No matter the pain

Still the truth is

The cross has made

The cross has made you flawless

Flawless-stamp

No matter what they say

Or what you think you are

The day you called His name

He made you flawless

He made you flawless”

(REFRAIN)

Friends, we don’t need to always be right, we do need to be right with God.

I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”

Liz Curtis Higgs says, “God humbles us so we will know our place and willingly receive His gift of grace. Then we can ‘draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the FULL assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.’” (Hebrews 10:22)

May we all REJOICE that we are indeed, flawless!!!

‘Til next time!

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When You Get Kicked in the Seat of Your Pants…(Tough, Trembling Words from Francis Chan…)

Hi Friends! The below post is a reprise from last November. It warrants a repeat for several reasons. One being Hubster and I’ve just returned from a fun trip to California (more on that down the pike) and the other being we all need a good kick in the seat of our pants from time to time. You’ll see why upon reading…

Few things surprise me anymore. You?

Spend enough time watching the morning or nightly news and the shock factor simply, and sadly, fades away. News stories fly at lightening speed, the more gruesome ones making breaking news. Crowds cheer when a victim gets kicked.

Let’s establish while there are some negative kicks in the seat of our pants, there are also some positive kicks in the seat of your pants. Neither are comfy scenarios, but…

I’m going to prove to you good kicks will make you a better, more effective believer.

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

Please meet my friend “Buck” in the above photo. He’s our “kicker” for today.

My goal today:

…to enlighten you to read any verse in your Bible, in a different manner.

My prayer:

…for us all to open our eyes and hearts differently when we open God’s Word.

Bible

How many of you have ever read writings by Francis Chan or heard him speak? He has the uncanny gift of preaching while kicking you in the seat of your pants. I’ve been known to veer in the opposite direction from him, knowin’ I was gonna get it.

francis_chan_331x221_755769185

A few years ago, our Book Club read and discussed a powerful book of Francis’: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. (Danae Yankoski and Chris Tomlin are also contributors.)

crazy love

I warned our members this book was going to mess with them in a mighty way. The chapter on being lukewarm nailed me to the wall.

Revelation 3:16 warns, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

One of our very good friends, who at the time, happened to be the manager of the bookstore at our church, was so convicted by this book she and her husband put their home on the market. It quickly sold.

They got rid of a lot of their belongings (I benefitted from her books she was ridding herself of, thanks again Sara!), and moved to South Carolina to help with a start-up church. They moved into a neighborhood to be the salt and light of Christ, being true disciples.

Friendly neighborhood of townhouses.

I confess I thought they were a wee bit Crazy-Love-Cuckoo. Something in me, however, revealed I no more had the guts to do what they were doing than a man in the moon.

To throw myself under the bus one more time, I haven’t read any more by Francis until today. Somehow, he snuck into a book I bought unknowingly.

Oh, I can see the Lord smiling: “Gotcha!”

Francis, along with his inspiration from the Lord, has kicked me in the seat of my pants again. It’s my pleasure to try and kick all of us in the seat of our pants today! I promise, you’ll thank me. (Please hang in there….)

The book? PASSION: The Bright Light of Glory by Louie Giglio, with contributions from Francis Chan (I totally missed that!), Beth Moore, John Piper, Judah Smith and Christine Caine.

passion

Each of the sixteen chapters are talks given by these wonderful teachers from Passion conferences. They each pack a punch. They all revolve around Passion’s mantra from Isaiah 26:8 that says,

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth,

We wait eagerly for You,

For Your name and Your renown

Are the desire of our souls.”

CHECKOUT www.268generation.com for more information about the Passion conferences as well as Louie’s church, Passion City Church, in Atlanta, GA:

www.passioncitychurch.com

Francis shows us Isaiah 66:2 –

“This is the one to whom I will look:

He who is humble

                             And contrite in spirit

                                      And trembles at my word.”

Ready to be kicked? …

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

(We’ll “get” to see “Buck” more than once, sorry…)

Francis asks, “Do YOU match the description of the person to whom God is looking?” (Humble, contrite in spirit, trembling at His Word???)

What does it mean to “tremble at God’s Word”? Francis says we’re to respond like this:

“Wow! That came from God! I just read words sent to me from God Almighty, from the Great I AM!”

Francis says, “When you view the Word of God like that, you realize:

How much you need to listen,

How much you need to act.

I want to beg you to read your Bible.

But that’s not all. I want to beg you to not just study the Bible, but to tremble at the very words of God.”

He continues, “Imagine trembling at everything in your Bible! With every page you turn, you maintain a sense that ‘I’ve just heard from the voice of God!”

Oh, we best repeat that: “I’VE JUST HEARD FROM THE VOICE OF GOD!!!!!”

Francis reminds us how Peter trembled at the Word of God in Matthew 17 (verses 1-8). Later, in 2 Peter, verses 16-25, Peter returns to that experience, when he heard God’s voice on the mountain. He says we’d “do well to pay attention” calling the Word “living and abiding”, with the beautiful climax echoing Isaiah: “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.

Sun rays shining brightly in clouds

Francis says, “If we actually took God’s Word seriously on this point—if we trembled at His Word—then we could actually live out the grace that Peter talks about in 2 Peter 1:2 – “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Ready to be kicked again?…

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

Round Two with “Buck”…

Francis asks us, “Is God’s Word formed in your life in such a way that people see grace and peace exuding from your life and wish they had your God?

Kicker incentive:

“From knowing Him,

From a relationship with Him,

If we are close to God and tremble at His Word, then these things will characterize our lives.”

Francis’ prayer is one for us all: “May you experience so much of God’s grace that everyone around you says,

‘Wow. I wish I had your God’.”

Praying hands bible

Nough said.  I pray we’ve all benefitted from these kicks…

(If you haven’t been kicked enough, ha, be my guest and finish reading chapter five in Passion—The Bright Light of Glory. I didn’t reveal all….Mr. Chan, and the Lord, thankfully, aren’t thru’ with us yet. As my Uncle Bruno used to say, “You worry, I’ll be back!)

‘Til next time…

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