Tag Archives: DEVOTIONAL

Making Bible “Family Time” Simple

This new devotional by Tony and Jonathan Evans, KINGDOM FAMILY DEVOTIONAL, turns what often seems like a daunting task into a simple, consistent, and fun routine!

It simplifies family devotions.

We’re all busy these days, kids included! Carving out a consistent time to come together as a family over God’s word sounds simple, but very often isn’t.

The KINGDOM FAMILY DEVOTIONAL helps tackle that problem with family devotions that are short, clearly Biblical, and do-able.

There was a lot for me to like about this little book but here are the five things that were at the top of my list:

  • First, it picks a one-word topic and stays there for five days.
  • Good thinking! For five days the family can come together learning the serious stuff but weekends are for family fun!
  • I liked the way it came up with ways for the entire family to participate. Not always an easy task!
  • I liked that it is for all 52 weeks of the year. That builds consistency, and for me—that’s the real challenge.
  • I liked that it began with the topics of LOVE and then RESPECT. To my mind, they go hand in hand and are desperately wanting in many of today’s contemporary families.

So, summing up:

  • This book is clearly Biblical in it’s teaching.
  • It is a devotional that brings the focus of our family time around a single word for an entire work-week using the Bible as a life reference.
  • It encourages our family with fun ways to participate together and apply what we’ve learned.
  • And, it gives parents a simple to follow Biblical road map for their families for an entire year.

Easy, consistent, focused and fun—what could be better!

My sincere thanks to Focus on the Family Resources and Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy and asking me for my review.

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Broken To Bless

Pottery4I think it was Ruth Graham who wrote, “…there is a broken heart in every pew.”

Many years down the road, with many a “breaking-experience” under my belt, I can say a healthy amen.

We in The Church are “a building” built from broken things.

I recall when I was the editor of my women’s church newsletter.

I went to our Women’s Director purposing a series on suffering. I offered a couple of samples topics and suggested the book of Jeremiah as our ongoing theme. Her response, “We don’t want to hear about these things. Write about happy things.”

I thought at the time, “Seriously?”

I personally knew of many people in our church that were going through a very difficult time.

There were single moms, struggling to get to the next payday, wondering how they would feed their kids. Divorced dads, hemorrhaging internally, but wearing stoic smiles. People out of work wondering only two things—where and when? Folks dealing with catastrophic illnesses, for themselves, or their families. Marriages that were being held together with scotch tape, and half-hearted,  “why-do-we-even-bother” prayers.

Could she not see? Did she not hear? Or, was it just the same old coldness of heart that chooses to walk by the bleeding and broken, choosing “the other side of the road” like Jesus related in the parable of The Good Samaritan.

Today, thirty years later—I still do not understand it.

How can people who meet together to sing about loving the Lord, listen intently to all those fine-sounding-sermons about reaching the lost, but then pass the lost, messy, and broken—looking right through them?

Perhaps it’s going through a few breakings myself. Knowing firsthand, the pain and confusion; the helplessness; the dark and intense days suffering brings.

And yes, I know there are “professional victims” in our Churches. Those who seek a continual attention-feast every time you encounter them. (Yes, I know.) I have also encountered the drama-queens (and kings) who suck all the emotional oxygen from the room. Every church has these folks.

The trick, as I see it, is to not let their choices blind you to the genuine suffering that is all around us.

We are buildings filled with the broken, and yes, sometimes messy ones. People whose lives are in crisis and need our compassion and tenderness.

Our simple and decent caring.

That is what I am pleading for here—hearts that care for the wounded and brokenhearted, rather than walling ourselves off behind aloof and superior stone walls.

Jesus calls each of us to reach for His basin and towel.

My bible says no one is exempt:

Does He not call you, too?

Jesus was always tender with broken hearts—asking what He could do.

Are we, not all called by Him, to do the same?

Is not the last word… His words to us?

 “…YOU …do as I have done for you.”

BROKEN VESSEL

Into a shop, I chanced to go
Seeking vessels high and low
When in a box I casually spied
A broken vessel—cast aside

At first glance, I thought I’d take
These broken pieces for to make
A vessel “new” from broken things
To carry songs and glad tidings

But no! My Master bid me take
This broken vessel, for His sake
And look again… “This jar was you…
Before My loving grace you knew!”

“I came into this world so dark
Received the nails that made their marks,

To gather vessels—not a few,
Shattered and broken, just like YOU;

To bring to wholeness once again,
To piece and polish, glue and mend…”
Ahhhhhhhhhh, now I see!” I answered Him.

“The centerpiece for which I search,
To show, display, inside the Church,
Is BROKEN—like so many more,
That wait for us outside these doors.”

Why are we oh so slow to learn?
Why don’t we see that what man spurns,
Is just the ONE that God will use?
He chooses MOST what we refuse!

I thank you LORD for taking me
A BROKEN THING—that all could see,
Had little use… not much could be…
Reclaimed… restored… for Your glory!

 

 

 

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Beloved Prodigal… (Part 1 ~ bat Shuvah)

Lost-Son-1

The road you’re on is not an easy one. (I should know.) I have been down your road.

It is for that reason I wrote this book.

I am hoping it will plant some seeds of trust in that heart of yours.

The Jewish would call me “bat Shuvah”—she who has returned.

I have returned.

  • To my Abba-Father God.
  • To The Church.
  • I am a Prodigal no longer.

Yes, I returned.

But you know what?

I confess (even today) I still struggle to not get discouraged and go over that hill again.

Perhaps that’s because I also have learned—today’s Church can be a cold and lonely place for the wounded and broken. All the disillusioned, angry, and messy-ones. And yeah, it scares me to confess that truth to you.

Truth is, I grew up in a house full of secrets.

In my house?

It was definitely not okay to be wounded or broken.

(That would have been admitting the truth.)

No, appearances had to be kept up at all cost. Illusions were prized far above truth.

I still shake my head today, thinking back, looking at the choices my parents made I wonder, “Why would anyone want to live like that?” Then, I look at how it still is in today’s Church and I realize, not much has changed. People still live lives of posing and pretense.

Perhaps they think it easier… less messy—to just fake it.

But my heart has to ask, “Isn’t that just a waste… to live an unreal life?”

I mean…

“How do you ever become “REAL” without telling your real story?”

6a1d6b965ff0038f17473284a4997d96So, here it is. Mine, with all of its ugly scars, brittle edges, and more than a little healed-crooked, hard won, Jacob-type-leaning, and limping.

I’ve come a long way from that crooked and broken road.

(Been through some fierce storms, too.)

I hope I’ve learned—a little…

And maybe even earned… my place?

To speak to that deeply wounded heart of yours.

 



 


 

Coram Deo

truthI had always felt it.

This distance.

All of my life—I felt out of sync with what was around me. Family. School. Church. God.

Wherever I was, there was them, then there was me.

Separate.

I don’t know why. Perhaps it is hidden in early events I cannot now recall. Anyway, forget the why. That isn’t what I want to talk to you about today.

It’s the Who.

It’s this separateness I always felt from God—as though He was way too BIG, way too GOOD, way too whatever, for the likes of someone like me.

I think most of us (who believe there is a God) know that following a God, “past finding out,” just ain’t easy!

(I think I gave up on doing that very early in my life.)

Thinking God was like, everyone else, living in universes I couldn’t reach or understand. I was wrong of course, but many years of my life would pass before I learned that God is not out there somewhere, disinterested, unfeeling, or uncaring.

He is an up close God.

A “get in your business” God.

A Father who takes His Fatherhood—mighty serious.

Like the day I decided to end my life.

That was “the day” I met up with My Father-God.

My “Abba-God” up close, and real, real, personal.

And no, I don’t know why He did this, except to say that I now believe my separateness from Him; my belief that He didn’t care what I did, or what happened to me; had become unbearable for us both.

I suppose that is hard for you un-believers to believe.

(Yeah, I get it.)

Still… I’m telling you right now, if you have hung-in with my story this far?

Oh, boy!

I think out there somewhere is waiting for YOU, your own encounter with, Coram Deo.

Wikipedia says,

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase translated “in the presence of God” from Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God.

Sounds fancy doesn’t it?

It’s not. It’s actually terribly simple.

Bible teacher R. C. Sproul explains it like this:

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

Sounds all up-in-your-face starchy doesn’t it? But what it actually means is God is everywhere, all the time, watching, knowing, and ready for an encounter with you.

Probably when you least expect it. (Like me.) Like Paul on that Damascus road.

He will get all up in your stuff.

Love does that—especially Perfect Love. And trust me, you won’t have any smart alec answers to Perfect-Love if He shows up some day, barging into your confirmed unbelieving. He will quite simply, blow the doors off everything you thought you knew, or believed about this God you trivialize, casually curse, or just hold in a sincerly doubting disinterest, or contempt.

I wish I could adequately describe what this day will be like for you.

(When He shows up I mean.)

I can’t. Sorry. The closest I can come is to describe it is this:

His Presence will have a jaw-dropping, power, and purity to it.

That is His holiness.

You really can’t imagine how awe-creating it is.

I guarantee you, you can’t kiss the floor fast enough!

You’ll want to come close in wonder, and run away and hide, all at the same time.

jesusandthelambHe will feel like liquid warmth, pushing out every bit of the cold, dead, darkness, surrounding you (which you weren’t even aware of) until His Love showed up, and began to drive it out!

You will instantly realize: The Dark has zero power over Him!  He is Supremely powerful. Always The One in control—of everything.

This Presence? Sweeps you off your feet emotionally, while arresting you forever, in its realness. The memory of your experience won’t ever turn you loose.

You won’t ever be the same.

Can’t be the same.

His coming into your space?

Changes everything. He really shakes you up! So, fair warning…

I believe His intention, is to do this more and more as our days grow darker and darker, and His returning comes closer and closer.

We’re all on a deadline. Him most of all—since only The Father knows the day and the hour His Presence will depart this world, and everyone will be handed over to the evil one.

(Check the book. It’s in there.)

He’s all about building His Church and finishing what He began on that Roman cross.

Which means that if He is pursuing you?

(And Coram Deo says that He’s everywhere, all the time?)

It means that He’s right where you are—right now. Relentlessly pursuing.

That’s Him. Wooing… you. For Himself. HereNow.

Get ready.

You’re next.

 

 

For more on Coram Deo I recommend R. C. Sproul’s, In The Presence of God, available on Amazon, or http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-coram-deo-mean/

Denominational Squabbling Or What This Gospel Isn’t

denominational

Denominational Made-up-Minds.

(Oh baby!)

Of all the things in The Church, perhaps this is the thing that scares me the most. This blind prejudice to, “We have always done it this way.” or “That is what my daddy believed, what my mama believed, and by golly, it’s what I believe!”

Well… okay then! Pardon my seeing this Glorious Truth through a slightly different lens than yours… and ummmm, is this what you call, “…walking in love?”

I think this intransigence I encounter to other interpretations, or points of view when interpreting the bible, is a prime breeding ground for strife and argument.

Jesus ate with publicans and sinners didn’t He?

And you mean we can’t tolerate someone who prays in a different style than ours? Sings with lifted hands? Waves banners? Chooses a different day to meet? Or, heaven forbid, voted for that other guy! Etc., etc., etc.

If you want to turn a devout-denominational into a cold fish at best, or a snarling junkyard dog at its worst, just begin to challenge their long held, “you’ll-pry-them-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands” beliefs.

Oh my, can you feel the love?

churchMy bible teaches me God’s “love language” is unity.  The bible speaks constantly about it, especially in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Doesn’t he implore us to do this over and over again?

Didn’t Jesus?

I just don’t believe division is really God’s idea.

(I think it took all of us to think this one up!)

witnessGod knows there is power in unity.

There is peace.

It’s in the book! [Ephesians 4]

No, we don’t all interpret the bible the same way.

I know.

But if we can agree on essentials—then do we really need to divide over the rest?

What childish nonsense.

Can’t we grant one another a certain degree of freedom for love’s sake?

Why do we treat others with such cold and hostile disdain, or disrespect those, who simply see things a little differently or choose to worship in a style that is contrary to ours?

church-clip-art-free-church-people-clipart-photography-gallery-0ZGviE-clipart

Is that a reason for giving or taking offense?

The hour is late and I think most of us believe Jesus’ return is imminent. So… let’s be about our Father’s business. We have a Harvest to bring in. For love’s sake let’s stop our petty bickering and finger-pointing.

onemany4

What a relief, if we could all just decide to let go of the rope!

What delight there is in dwelling together—in peace!

Let’s do what we have been gifted for and have been called to do, in the unity of love; taking from that unity the power we need from the Holy Spirit in all of us.

Our mandate is not to figure out who is right and who is wrong.

Rather, our commission is to reach the lost, bind up the broken, and rescue the perishing—while we still can!

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4
f6fbc304d4d804a73ef43016fd2fc94e

The Infinite Value of One

one-clipart-cartoon-number-one

We live in a day when everyone seems to be chasing BIG numbers.

(We measure by numbers.)

Big numbers seem to say, “This person is important.” or “You need to own that thing that everyone else is buying.”

Big numbers seem to equal a BIG deal.

Bigger equals better—that’s the world’s mantra!

But remember? The Kingdom of God is usually running counter to the world; the way the world thinks; and this I find to be particularly true when it comes to calculating the value of individuals.

Most media sites these days have folks seeking large volumes of “Followers or Friends, with people in hot pursuit of the most, Views or Shares.”

Unfortunately, no matter how many you might get? You’re always going to find some other guy out there, with a “score” that makes yours look like very small potatoes.

(…sigh.)

Welcome to my world.

I was thinking about this a lot this morning (definitely feeling like small potatoes) when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper softly to me,

“Would you still write, if there was only one person you were actually reaching each day? Would they matter? Would you write to encourage only them?”

Only them? Only one.

I said, “Yes LORD, even if there was only one because I know—every ONE matters to You. You left the ninety-and-nine to go and care for that one lone sheep. I know we all matter to you LORD. Every. single. one. We matter. Every single moment.”

You do matter, you know?

You are the only you God created. You are unique. Special. One of a kind!

Others may treat you as just another number on their score card, or just another “sale” they wanted to tot-up… but you are of so much more value than that.

So if today, you are feeling especially insignificant?

Please remember this:

You are priceless in the eyes of God.

He sees YOU and He has great plans… for YOU.

In His economy? One is a very BIG deal.

(So… you are.)

Who can guess at what “just one” might accomplish in this world?

Like maybe just one little… (previously unknown and unheard of…) Belgium nun—for instance?

13454938494_d65ff35ef2_b

How much God cherishes each—one, of us.

There is a world-changer inside of you!

Maybe it time to turn the Infinite One inside of you, loose?

The two of you shall shake the earth.

(Count on it!)

 

The Parable: A Commission

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Before you go…

I want you to listen to Me…

Are you listening?SuperBanner_Creation_2016-08-10_082843

CATERPILLAR:

 

 

(…grumble… grumble… grumble.)

chrysalis-clipart-butterfly-pupa

(DREAM-MAKER:)

I want you to remember Who you work for.

CATERPILLAR:

Work for?

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Yes. You work for Me. Your life is in My hands. You are kept by My love.

CATERPILLAR:

SuperBanner_Creation_2016-08-10_082951

SuperBanner_Creation_2016-08-10_083018

 

chrysalis-clipart-butterfly-pupa

chrysalis-clipart-butterfly-pupa

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Caterpillar you do not work for fame or applause.

You have your commission.

It is almost time. Things will happen  rapidly now.

 

CATERPILLAR:

DreeeeEaM-MaaAKeR?

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)SuperBanner_Creation_2016-08-10_082747

Yes little one.

 

CATERPILLAR:

huge-eyes-clipart-huge-eyes-clipart-halloween-eyeball-clipart-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-900-x-427-mud4ly2oy6ixbz0jkhnlf3pul4hb1rvgset7uv4kng

 

preach-the-gospel-to-the-world

 

The Parable: A Calm Caterpillar

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Soon.

CATERPILLAR:

Soon? What does that mean? Soon? When is, soon?

Aviary Photo_131150547272699720

I’ve been waiting a long time—I mean,

I’ve been in here

a long,

long,

long time.

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Patience.

CATERPILLAR:

k5961793Okay… (sigh)

I’ll calm down.

I’ll be patient, but I’m just saying,

it’s been a long time. In a very tight space.

I can’t move it’s so tight!

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

Sing Me your song.

CATERPILLAR:

Song?

(DREAM-MAKER:)chrysalis-clipart-butterfly-pupa

You know the one.

CATERPILLAR:

Ummmm, okay. Let’s see…

Dear God above, the source of Love, please here me when I call

With colors gay, begin today, to make me something new.

swirlnotes1redLet me sing, on gossamer wings, to dreamers—not a few;

A song to show, that all things low, can miracles believe,

If they will shed, all fear and dread, and new dreams now receive!

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The Parable: A Dark Constriction

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CATERPILLAR:

All this way! All this effort! To end up here…

in this miserable,

dark place.

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(I don’t like this place…)

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CATERPILLAR:

Dream-Maker? Do You hear me? I hate this place!

Oh-why-oh-why, did I ever pray those prayers!

Dream-Maker how much longer? Haven’t I waited long enough? Dream-Maker?

I did everything You told me to do—I followed. I obeyed chrysalis-clipart-butterfly-pupaYour instructions. Is this all there is? Is this what obeying gets you?

A tight dark cell—alone? Dream-Maker, why don’t You answer me?

I call and call…  are You there?

 

(DREAM-MAKER:)

I’m here.

CATERPILLAR:Aviary Photo_131150547272699720

Oh…  (whew!) Dream-Maker, it’s You!

I called and called…

Can we go now?

Is it time?

Dream-Maker? (sniff-sniff)

Pleeeeeeeez… let me out!

nolight

(Isaiah 50:10Isaiah 50:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God.

WP-Bible plugin
KJV)