Micah and Mary

Currently, I’m doing a reading plan that involves reading ten different chapters in ten different books of the Bible per day. For me, it’s a fairly flexible one—some days, I only end up reading one chapter, other days it’s just five, but I always aim for all ten. The way this particular plan is set up is that once you finish reading a certain “section” of the Bible, you just start it over—and that can cause some interesting mashups at times!

A few days ago, several chapters really stood out to me, and I thought I’d share my notes from them today, as I’m still thinking about them this morning.

Key texts: Mark 14:3–9, Judges 17–18

Mark 14: The gift Mary gave Jesus (“ointment on his feet”) was to be talked about wherever the gospel was preached, forever (see vs. 9).

In Judges 18, something else has happened that will also be spoken of for a very, very long time: Micah, an Ephraimite, “did that which was right in his own eyes” (see 17:6), and made himself both graven and molten images. He then created a priest in a weird mix-up of calling these images “the LORD”, thinking he was worshiping the God of Israel.

It was an evil combination of true and pagan worship, and it happened while the house of God was at Shiloh…he still had access to the truth, but he decided to do what he thought was right.

And by that one perversion in one man, one family, everyone in Dan (well, at least the ones who came to live in a nearby city) ended up being drawn away too. This lasted “all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh,” “…until the day of the captivity of the land.” (See vs. 30-31.)

Of course, we don’t really know which captivity this was (or at least, I haven’t taken time to study that part out!)—it may have been as far out as the Babylonian captivity, or perhaps a closer, smaller one. It’s hard to tell.

What we DO know is that this perversion, confusion, and sin, lasted a long, long time.

Morning Devotions: Micah and Mary

One sacrificed everything for her LORD.

One didn’t even bother to figure out or ask what his LORD required.

One did perfectly, and caused great blessing.

One did perversely, caused great confusion, and drew many away from the truth.

Which one am I?

Both may have considered their decisions inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. It’s easy for us, me, to fall into that trap, too. Thinking that our little actions don’t really matter.

But they do.

We may never see the long-term results. Mary probably didn’t, although Micah may have, at least to a certain extent. Both thought they were in the right. But what each one did affected many, many following generations.

How am I living my life?

Am I living it right in my eyes, after the pattern of Micah, or right in God’s estimation?

How are my actions now—however inconsequential, thoughtless, or otherwise—going to affect those around me…and the generations following me?

What a sobering thought!

As we start this next week, let us never forget that each action, each decision, does matter. Yes, God gives grace. But we’re still responsible to continue living for Him in everything we think and do.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” —Ephesians 5:8

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” —1 Timothy 4:16

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” —1 Peter 2:9-10

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” —1 John 1:7

What have you been learning in your personal devotional time lately?

2018 Blogging Goals

As I was working on finalizing my goals last Sunday on the way home from church, I remembered a footnote that was added somewhere in the planning process: Blog Mon/Wed/Fri. While I am not planning on setting three blog posts as my goal every week this next year, it did reinforce a point to me as I was planning—I needed, wanted, to schedule in time every week to blog.

I’ve been writing online since I was twelve, and in the years since then, I’ve often discovered I love the process of composing my thoughts into something half-legible, and sharing it with the world. I’ve also loved following other bloggers who do the same thing, sharing their thoughts, opinions, and encouragements as the muse struck them.

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Over the past two years, I’ve sort-of lost out on my desire to blog. But now, in 2018, I want to get back into that. My goal is to post at least one time a week, ending up with fifty-two posts by the end of year. My prayer is that I can encourage the body of Christ over this year.

As I’ve believed for years (and many, many other people have believed before me!), words have power. To some small degree, I feel like I’ve been entrusted that power. And I don’t want to waste it.

So this year, while my goal is to write more regularly (and I’m trying to set aside time on Thursdays to do that), I hope I’ll end up writing more. I hope, no matter how much or how little I do end up writing, it will be an encouragement to someone.

This year, I’m hoping to go back to one of the basics, in some ways. 1 Thess. 5:11 says we need to “edify one another”, or, in other words, “build each other up.” I feel like I don’t know how to do that very well. But I want to try again.

What are you planning to work on throughout this next year?

Old Word, New Word: Hope and Rejoice

Well, I wrote a blog post yesterday, and assumed it had saved (because WordPress always saves what you write, right?). No. Obviously it was too long or something.

How did your 2017 go? Mine went by in a flash, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened the last two months! In many ways, it felt like a rebuilding year for me—recovering from several difficult happenings, and going on to deeper depths with the Lord.

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Near the beginning of last year, I wrote a blog post about my word for the year. “Hope” was—and still is!—something I had much to learn about, but that was the main thing I wanted to remember throughout 2017. There is hope. Whether I can see it or not, it’s there, and sometimes simply clinging to the promise of hope was all I could do in certain months.

But God was faithful through it all, just as He always is. I’m so thankful!

There are several key things I remember from my year of hope—of rebuilding.

  • The wonderful youth conference I attended in Dec. 2016. For the first time in months, I was able to reconnect with the Lord (I’m SO thankful for that!)—and, as a result, many of the things I learned then are things I’m still pondering and applying to my life.
  • In February and March 2017, I learned a lot about prayer, and how it works in real life. I’m so thankful for all the Lord taught me during that time! It gave me strength and sustenance in the following months.
  • A family trip to the States in June and July was so encouraging and wonderful. We were able to reconnect with old and new friends, and for me, it was a great time of encouragement and some healing from the previous year’s events, including my brother’s death.
  • What I had learned about prayer in February came into play quite a bit in August through October. I had several major things to work through in those months, and prayer was the main thing that sustained me through that time. One-year anniversaries of traumatic events are, quite simply, tough. But God sustains us through them, for which I am ever so thankful! This was probably the time when I saw my word “hope” come into play the most—because that was all I had to cling to. And hope in Christ was more than enough to bring me through. Because He IS enough.

“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” —Hebrews 13:6

  • Throughout the last half of the year, we knew we had to move out of the place we’re renting, but had no clue where we were going. Again, hope came into play, as the only thing we really had to pray then was, “okay, Lord, we know You’ve got somewhere for us to go to—please reveal it in Your time!” And it seems like He has (but that’s another story for another day!).

Over and over again throughout this past year, I saw specific ways where the Lord reminded me of my word for the year, giving it to me in moments where I’d normally be really struggling over uncertainties in my life. He was so good. If I sat down and listed each time, I’d probably fill books! 🙂

It wasn’t an easy year, in many ways. Often, I found myself struggling in the valley, wondering if I’d ever see beyond the tears and current storm—or if it would just last the rest of my life. But He has brought us through, and although I’m positive 2018 will probably have its own unique struggles in it, I am also confident that none of them will be any bigger than our God.

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“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” —Hosea 2:15 (emphasis mine)

Despite the valleys I went through last year, and the ones that will probably come next year, I’m going to continue claiming hope over them. The Lord our helper is with us (see Hebrews 13:6 above).

Twenty-eighteen is already nearly two days old according to my calendar, and as I’ve been pondering what my word for this year should be, I keep coming back to a theme: Rejoice. Give thanks. Be joyful. Since I appreciate action words (it’s been good to tell myself to “hope in the Lord” this past year!), I’ve decided this will be my theme for the new year.

No matter what comes next year—and I’m sure there will be plenty of joyful moments as well as painful ones!—I want to remember to rejoice. Because God is good.

What is your word for the new year? Or, if you don’t do “words”, what’s one thing you’re hoping to remember as a guiding line for the coming year?

Little Things and NaNo Update

Early this morning, I remembered that today marked a year exactly since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that disrupted our lives and the lives of thousands of people here in New Zealand. Wow. Amazing how many changes can be made in a year, and how two minutes at midnight has created challenges for people to this day. One main road still hasn’t been opened yet as a result (although the current hope is that they will be able to open it within a month).

So much in such a little time.

Little Things and NaNo Update

I was listening to a podcast earlier today as I cleaned a few windows in my bedroom that have been bugging me for weeks. Michael Hyatt, a well-known leader in the business world, was talking, and he said something about how our words and actions can influence people either positively or negatively, depending on how we use them. He went on to say that our attitudes and perceptions of life can, in some cases anyway, be huge determining factors in how others relate to us—or even if we end up keeping our jobs or not! Again, another case where little things can influence huge changes, either good or bad.

Lots to ponder there.

The main project for me these last two weeks has been writing. Since I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing at least a little each day. It’s been so, so fun. And while I know that we shouldn’t just do life for the fun aspect, I do think it’s okay in the creative sphere to really challenge yourself to turn up each day and get something done. The challenge is good, but it’s also fun to do.

Last week, I finished the first children’s story I was writing, and began a second that I’ve been pondering off and on for a little while. I’m almost to the end of the second now, and I’m not sure where I’ll be going from here, as I’ll still need nearly 23,000 words of something to write in the next fifteen days in order to win NaNo.

One thing that I have found fascinating over the course of this challenge is the fact that my creativity levels can be depleted. Some days are better, some are worse, but overall I’ve witnessed a general slide in the creativity to a not-so-full state. That’s fine, as I know I’ll be able to tank up over the next few months again, but it has been an interesting trend to follow.

I also have been amusing myself greatly by how much I forget to include one particular character in my more recent story. It’s a dragon, who is supposed to be a little bit on the arrogant slash snarky side, but he keeps forgetting to act his character or I forget he’s even there…this is when I’m looking forward to doing some editing so I can put him back in later. 🙂

In all, NaNo has gone a lot better than I expected so far, I’ve loved (almost) every minute—except for the few times when I realize I’m writing an extremely boring scene!—and I’m looking forward to the final sixteen-or-so days.

Now, I’d better go see if I can figure out another story to write, or else make some good progress on planning out the story I’ve been wanting to write for years!

What projects have you been working on lately? Have you ever listened to podcasts by business leaders? What is one useful tip you have picked up or been given recently?

Website Building and the Vine

Ever since—well, almost before Learning Resource Directory was launched, I’ve been wanting to change to a different name. I knew I wanted something shorter, easier to type, and catchier, but laid that aside to let my subconscious mull over it while I got more important things, like the website launching and more book reviews written, done.

Just a few months ago, I finally came across the perfect name. And although I’m not (quite) ready to share that with you yet, suffice to say I’m thrilled to finally have a name I love!

I bought the domain name several months ago, but didn’t have time to do any more then, as I wanted to research hosting (Gretchen Louise’s tips have been extremely helpful in that area!). I eventually decided to do in-between hosting on Bluehost, where I’m currently hosting this website. I’m not planning to stay here long-term due to a plethora of problems I’ve had, but for now I’ve got another year on the contract I’m on and I may as well use it.

Website Building and the Vine

This past week, I’ve transferred the domain to Bluehost, and am now getting into the exciting phase of deciding on a theme and how to put it together, what I’d like for a logo, how I want the reviews to show up (static, like I have now, or more of a blog layout?), etc., etc.

For someone who’s been through all this designing and tweaking multiple times before, for multiple websites, this is where all the magic (and a lot of the “Oops! I broke it. Now what did I do wrong…?) happens. Next job is to contact someone who designs themes, who has done one particular theme I’ve got my eye on, and ask if she does 30-day money back guarantees in the off chance it doesn’t end up being the right theme for what I need.

And as I sit here, pondering the work I have ahead of copying and pasting, and messing up and trying again and maybe—just maybe—getting it right the first time around for some things, I can’t help but think of that passage in John 15 where Jesus speaks of the vine and the branches. He’s the trunk, the roots, where all the nutrients and plant strength comes from. If that gets cut off, the vines and branches can wither in just a few hours.

Just like a new domain name on a new host—it has potential to do a lot, and if fed the right bits of code and has the correct files that are all interconnected properly, it works well and delivers the information to those who need or want it.

But if just one part of the coding is wrong—even one character off, it’s broken.

Like what mysteriously happened last night when somehow the connection between the two major parts of the website and this blog got disconnected, and they went down. Turned out all I needed was a few bits of text—a database name and a username, and perhaps a password—put in the right places, and we were live again (don’t ask me how they were wrong in the first place, but anyway—it’s obviously fixed now, if you can read this!).

Sometimes, it seems to take daily checking to make sure this website is up and running like it should, no pages showing funny gobbeldy-guck or not showing up at all.

And I have to think how important it is to keep going back to the trunk, the Word, to make sure everything’s still lined up right. No character misplaced, no essential file accidentally deleted. It often takes daily refreshing—both the browser tab kind, and the prayer and reading kind.

But it’s all worth it. Because, in the end, if we are still being fed through the trunk, getting the nutrients we need, we can thrive and grow and through that growth be a blessing to others.

Keep your eyes and heart on Jesus!

What have you been doing lately? Have you ever worked on putting a website together?

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

There were maybe twenty of us youth together that December evening eight months ago—perhaps a few less; I’m not certain. Together, we had just come through a week-full of meetings at a youth conference, each day, on average, infusing us and the many other attendees with four Biblically-rich, challenging sermons. I don’t know if my sentiments then could express what the others were feeling or not, but I felt full. Spiritually fed, my soul enriched far beyond what I normally encountered in my everyday life. The Lord had shown Himself faithful in the days leading up to that chilly Saturday evening, showing me areas where I wasn’t serving Him to my fullest extent, and overall just drawing me closer to Him.

I felt full. And as I looked around the room at all the other youth—spread across the assortment of couches in the spacious, yet cozy-feeling living room, I felt so blessed to be there. To be able to spend a bit of time with these special people, some of whom were very close friends, some friends from years past, or relatives—and grateful to have shared the enriching week with them.

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Someone—our evening’s host, perhaps, who happened to be one of the speakers at the conference—suggested we all write down one thing we really appreciated or were challenged by in the previous week. As we each took time to look back, I know many of us remembered fondly different scenes from the week, and the room grew silent apart from the occasional humming as someone tried to put their thoughts onto paper.

Soon all the papers were gathered up into a plate, mixed together, then passed out randomly, and we each took turns reading what was on our particular note, then tried to guess who had written it. Some of the notes were quite in-depth, with several sentences dedicated to whatever the person was thankful for. One, I remember, simply said “Food!”—it was submitted by a younger guy in the group! While that provided humor for some of us, the thing that really struck me was how many people said they were thankful for the encouragement to be grateful. That was a theme that had been running throughout the different sermons that week, unintentionally (or intentionally by the Lord?) tying together each of the four different speaker’s messages. Although by far that wasn’t the only thing we learned it was one of the most memorable thoughts. And I’d hazard to guess that at least half of us there that night mentioned something to that effect.

Fast forward to last Friday, when I was trialing a new pattern on a jumper (online dictionary says this should properly be called a pinafore—new word usage on me!). The first attempt failed, and it was late that evening when I finished a second top, only to find out that it was way too small as well. To say the least, I wasn’t in the best of moods. Twice, the solution had eluded me, and frankly, I was quite disgusted.

The worst part about it? I had posted on Instagram earlier that afternoon—before, you can be sure, I found out that both attempts weren’t right—saying something about being thankful I could sew. That evening, I wasn’t feeling very thankful.

A latte and time for sewing this afternoon. #Thankful #littleblessings

A post shared by Esther Filbrun (@estherfilbrun) on

So yesterday, as I was happily sewing along, making my third try at getting this pinafore top done, I started thinking over what I’d learned at youth conference about being grateful. Then I thought about the gratitude list I had started right about the same time as the two failed attempts…and how, for some inexplicable reason, those two pinafore tops were not included in said list.

Any coincidence? I think not. After all, why would I be thankful for something I was decidedly not grateful for at the moment? Yes, I had appreciated the moment earlier—back when it was (ahem) social media-worthy.

But I knew it was a double standard.

So while, yes, I did write down gratitude for the completed one, I’m going to make sure to add the two failed attempts to the list, too—I learned something from them as well.

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Because if there’s one thing I learned from the youth conference, we as God’s temple* have something priceless at our disposal. Back in the Old Testament, under the old law, the tabernacle held something precious: The altar of incense. Today, under the New Covenant, we as God’s priests (see the 1 Peter reference below) are in charge of our individual altars of incense—praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. This is a task that should be attended as our highest joy, an outflowing from our hearts because of the inflowing of the Spirit as He does His work in us.

It’s a precious thing, one I want to keep practicing. So next time my side seams don’t match up, or the garment ends up fitting much differently than I had intended, perhaps I should post a picture of that and start a trend with the hashtag #ThankfulForFailure …and a chance to try again.

Have you been practicing being thankful for things lately…even if it’s things that really didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to? What has the Lord been teaching you through failure recently?

*See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Ephesians 2:19-22, and 1 Peter 2:4-10

Home, Sweet Home

One thing I love about being away is that I can thoroughly enjoy being home again. In saying that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed my time away…the sweet, albeit brief, reunions and all the precious memories made with our friends and family. It was so good.

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Little sister enjoyed petting the donkeys at the Creation Museum when we visited!

But near the end, especially those last few days as we were packing up, saying our last goodbyes, and realizing that our time had already past—like that!—it was bittersweet to realize we’d soon be home. Back to “normal” life, to a normal routine again, to just being us again. I looked forward to that. But as I looked back over the seven weeks, I knew that my heart would always be partly there—with those dear family members. Those that though I only see them once every few years, they’re still some of the nearest, dearest friends I have on this earth.

When I think of that, I know I’m so blessed.

We’ve been home just over a week now, and it’s been so, so good to be back. So good to say hello to the dear friends here, to have the comfort of my own bed (even on the nights when it gets quite frosty out!), to have my own space and just be able to be with my own family.

And as I think of all I enjoy about this temporal home, I can’t help but think of the heavenly—if I enjoy this so much, how much more should I look forward to Heaven, where we’ll forever be with Jesus? If I looked forward to being back in New Zealand, how much more should I long and yearn for the better Home? It’s then that I see how shallow I can be in my Christian walk…and how much growing I still have left to do.

In our family devotions recently, we’ve been studying Jesus’ crucifixion. And despite how horrific that ended up being, it was really interesting to discuss some of the different traits Jesus displayed during His trial and death. Love, peace, patience, and courage, just to name a few. Dad pointed out that Jesus wasn’t focusing on the next whiplash, though—He knew it was coming, but instead of looking at the “now”, Jesus was looking far ahead to the “joy that was set before Him”. In part, that’s us—and all the other courageous saints through the past ages. That’s how He could endure. How He DID endure. Partly because He knew He had to, as there was no other way to redeem us, but also partly because He knew the reward at the end would be so sweet it would be more than worth the pain.

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A version of The Great Bible, printed in 1566, as seen in the Ark Encounter.

As my mind raced ahead, following that “joy that was set before Him” path, a thought clicked in place that I hadn’t quite considered before. That’s how God’s saints endured, all through the ages. That’s how they stayed strong, even when they knew they were going to the stake.

It was the joy set before them. They knew about and reveled in the Home that was waiting for them on the other side, so no matter what temporal struggles they had to face on this side, they knew it was worth it all…and more. Our Lord had gone through it already, setting an example for us, and they were just treading in His footsteps. They knew, without a doubt, where they were going, and what they’d get when they got there.

Oh, that I might have faith like that when my day of testing comes! And may we all follow the Lord ever more closely, so we can spend our eternity with Him, and with all our precious brothers and sisters that have gone before us. What a reunion that will be!

Fearless and Full of Faith

A month or so ago, I was memorizing the last of a memory verses list that I had created a year or more previously. I came to Daniel 3:17-18, and as I began working on the passage I was struck with the beauty in it.

Imagine the scene:

Court retainers line the smooth walls of the throne room, their eyes keenly intent on the three young men standing before the great king Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conqueror of much of the known world. The king’s eyes flash as he stares down each unrepentant man by turn, his voice a low rumble of angry thunder as he bends toward them. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you do not serve my gods, or worship the golden image that I have set up?”

The young men don’t waver for a second. Not once does their gaze shift to each other, and yet they remain silent. Waiting. The court tenses, each man knowing the fate of these foolish leaders if they don’t follow the king’s command.

“I will give you one more chance,” Nebuchadnezzar continues, his voice growing harsher with each word, “to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will immediately be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.” He pauses for a second, his gaze shifting from one uplifted face to the next. His final words cut through the room, a defiant challenge to those listening. “What god can save you from my power then?”

The throne room is silent. The king still leans forward, his threatening, keen gaze on the three men—administrators of the province of Babylon—standing before him.

Slowly, one sandaled foot raises and settles without a sound, another follows. A young man looks down at the tiles below his feet for a moment, takes a deep breath, and as he raises his eyes to meet those of the king, his shoulders draw back—not in pride, but in power.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”

The court gasps at his boldness, their attention riveted on the young speaker standing just one pace beyond his fellows. Many glance at the unmoving face of the king, then back to the firm yet hopeful countenance of the bright-eyed youth as he continues, “But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

An explosion of furious words blasts through the air, shattering the breathless silence.

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This statement…it’s powerful.

I don’t think I’d ever considered faith in the light I saw it in that morning while reviewing memory verses. These three young men—dear friends of Daniel—had complete trust in God.

I’m sure, as they stood there meeting the gaze of this king who could order their death at any moment, that there was some unease in their hearts. Any human facing death is bound to have a little (or maybe not, maybe I’ve always assumed that that’s a fact of life?). But they had such faith in the Lord that they weren’t overly concerned about it. They didn’t even mention death in their reply to the king! Their strength came from the Lord, and they knew it—and weren’t overly worried about other people knowing about it either.

This is true fearless faith.

Unswerving, unbending trust in the LORD, the Creator of the world and the Upholder of all things…including their lives.

As I was mulling over this beautiful fearless faith, I had to think of some of the other Bible stories that have to do with faith. Not too much later after memorizing these verses, my brothers and I listened to a dramatized audio version of David and Goliath from Your Story Hour. (By the way, I love how Your Story Hour shares Biblical stories! As a child, I often was quite bored with the same stories over and over, but they have a way of presenting them in a whole new light—I highly recommend looking into them if you want a fresh perspective for you or your children!)

Consider 1 Samuel 17:45-47:

“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”

Notice all the confident verbs (I think that’s what they are…correct me if I’m wrong!) in the passage. Again, David had no doubt that God would deliver Goliath into his hand; it was just a matter of going out and conquering him, which he saw as no challenge.

And of course there are plenty of other examples in the Bible too:

  • Abraham and Isaac (“God will provide Himself a lamb” Gen. 22:8)
  • Caleb (“give me this mountain” Josh 14:12)
  • Jonathan and his armor bearer (“there is no restraint to the Lord” 1 Sam. 14:6)
  • Jehoshaphat (“our eyes are upon thee” 2 Chron. 32:7)
  • Ezra (“The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him” Ezra 9:22)
  • Job (“I know that my redeemer liveth” Job 19:25)
  • Paul in the shipwreck (“I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” Acts 27:25)

I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that I’ve remembered or been referenced to in my study.

I looked this subject up in my Thompson Chain-Reference, and the label they gave was “victorious faith”. That’s what these people had—victorious, fearless faith. Wow.

So I ask myself this evening: Do I have this unwavering, unrelenting faith in God?

Could I stand firm, even if I knew I faced certain death, and proclaim boldly that God is who He says He is and He will do what is best—whether to glorify Himself in taking me home to glory, or perform a miracle? That’s a tough call! I hope I can say yes, but I don’t know. Sometimes my faith seems to be quite weak!

How about you? Do you have this kind of faith? What would you do in a situation like the three young men were facing? Do you know of any other Biblical stories that would fit on this list? Has anything special popped out to you in your memorization time lately?

Fog

This morning was one of those gorgeous mornings where the fog laid thin skeins of white around the tops of trees and houses, softening tones and exuding an aura of tranquility. I remember about a year ago, two years into the drought, how I stepped outside early one chilly morning and was surprised to feel moisture on my face. It was fog! It caught me by surprise, because we rarely got moisture of any kind in the air, but feeling the slight dampness was quite refreshing.

Now, three years after the drought began, I’m thankful to say that we’ve had rain this past month—several inches, quite a bit more than what we’ve gotten the last years combined! I’m optimistically hopeful that the drought has broken, but we’ll see. For now, I’m thankful for every drop of either rain or sunshine that we receive.

Fog

Have you ever noticed on foggy mornings that you can see things you don’t normally see? It seems strange—because, after all, the fog is hiding a lot of things from view, but it’s true. One thing I’ve noticed lately are spider webs. I run into them on a very frequent basis, but often can’t see them. When they’re studded with thousands of little gems, though, sparkling beautifully especially when the sun is just peeking through the clouds, they’re absolutely gorgeous. Spiders are living out a beautiful example of following our Creator’s plan and using the gifts they have. In doing so they not only bring glory to Him by following the guidelines He gave them in making intricate works of “art”, if you will (something that even man has to marvel at!), but also create very useful food-catching homes.

Amazing, isn’t it, how complex the Lord has made our world?

Rose

This morning as I was taking off for work, I noticed the flowers on the faithful old rose bush out by our gate. They wore a few dew-drops too, and served to be another pretty reminder to me to bloom right where I’m planted. I might not be big, or important, or have a whole lot of knowledge—but I can be the best me possible and serve the Lord with everything I’ve got right here and now, and in that way glorify Him. Just like the spider. Or the rose.

And speaking of which—I need to go help my brothers shuck corn. Guess “blooming where I’m planted” involves being faithful in the needed everyday work too! 🙂

What has your daily life taught you lately?

Handed Over

Just recently, I’ve been pondering on a line from a movie about Brother Sheffey. It has come to me several times and been quite a challenge to my spiritual walk, so I thought I’d share it with you, too.

Blooming oregano

Near the end of Sheffey’s life, a young man came to him asking for forgiveness for a wrong he had committed earlier which effectively stopped Sheffey’s ministry. Following this request, Sheffey shared a profound thought.

“God never forces His will on men. He calls them unto Himself, but if they will not follow Him, then they have to go their own way. The campground is gone—not because you burned it, but because God’s people didn’t want it. And God let them have their own way.

“Every time we give up a part of our faith to try to fit into the ways of the world, we lose it forever. We lose a precious part of God’s promise. Sacrifice to the world, and the world will never give it back. And some day, when the world tells us we can no longer have our religion, except where they say, and God is driven from our schools, our government, and our homes, then God’s people can look back and know that our religion was not taken from us. It was given up. Handed over, bit by bit, until there was nothing left.”

Are you keeping the faith? Are you pushing on, against the tides of evil that are pressing in at all sides? Are you actively working against the roots of Satan that are trying to overcome your faith?

This is a sobering question for all of us, myself especially. It’s too easy to let things slip. But we must never, never do that.

Hebrews 10:22, 23—“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

2 Timothy 1:13, 14—“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Hold on!