The Problem with Meddling

SUE TELL|GUEST Do you practice the habit of having a word of the year? In 2021 the word God gave me (or two words) was pull back. Why? What does that look like? I started praying and was stopped in my tracks when I read Peter’s admonition, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” (I Peter 4:15, emphasis mine) Is meddling really in the same category as murder, theft, and evil? And are there areas where meddling is God’s reason for my pulling back? I began to pray. I began to seek the wisdom of my friends. I began to hear stories. And I began to hear God whispers. Three lessons rose to the surface: We who are entrusted with leadership are highly susceptible to meddling. Meddling can have serious consequences. When I don’t pull back and cease meddling, my time, capacity, and energy to give myself to God’s purposes designed for me are in jeopardy...

The Problem with Meddling2022-06-09T18:23:05+00:00

In a Given Day: Giving Praise to the Giver of Days

SUSAN PYKE | GUEST What’s in a day? Every life has a first day. I recently witnessed that joyful day in my first grandchild’s life! And we all will have a last day. We can probably describe our happiest day, and our saddest. Days that felt like they would never end, and days that ended much too soon. We are anxious about upcoming days: the scheduled biopsy, a meeting with our child’s teacher, a presentation at work, or the day the rent is due. The simple truth that God gives us each day to live for His glory can quickly get lost in these emotions and anxieties. How can we remember to praise and trust God for today when our minds and hearts are filled with memories from the past and fear about the future? We can find help with this searching question in John 1:1-5. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. With these verses in mind, we can go through our day more intentionally aware of Christ’s love and life for us. In the morning, we remember that Jesus, who was there at the first morning of creation, abides with us today. At mid-day we remember his sacrificial, redeeming love for us. At the close of the day, we see his truth by the light of his life in our darkness. God’s design of the daily rhythm of any given day can remind us to praise the Giver of days.

In a Given Day: Giving Praise to the Giver of Days2022-05-04T00:25:35+00:00

Cultivating Hearts of Adoration

ABBY HUTTO | GUEST One summer while my children were in elementary school, I instituted a new prayer policy in our home. I could no longer take hearing the same prayer over and over again. Every single day, three times a day, they prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for our food and please help us have a great day.” I finally had enough. I purchased a little chalkboard, downloaded a prayer guide with 31 names/attributes of God, and made a new rule: before we thank Jesus for our food, before we ask him to make every day a great day, we must first thank him for being himself. I declared that summer a season of adoration. Meditating on God’s Character My children were doing what comes instinctively to all of us. When we pray, it’s easy to thank God for the things he has done for us. We don’t have to search our minds for things we want to ask him for. If we’re truly spiritual, we confess our sins. But appreciating God for just being who he is doesn’t seem to come naturally to us. Adoration is not something modern American Christians spend a lot of time doing. Our culture, our schedules, and our overactive hearts don’t leave us time to slow down and meditate over who God is in his character and nature. We rarely separate who God is from what he does. At first glance, that may not seem like a big deal. After all, who God is in his character and nature is displayed in his acts of power as he works in our world to rescue and save his people. Thanksgiving and supplication are vital to our prayer lives. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts.” It is good and right to be moved by God’s intervention in our life. When he provides, comforts, rescues, it is right to be thankful for what he has done. But do we also adore him for who he is? Do we open our prayers as Jesus taught us, adoring our Father who is hallowed and enthroned in his heavenly kingdom?

Cultivating Hearts of Adoration2022-05-04T00:37:03+00:00

They Saw, But They Forgot

MARLYS ROOS|GUEST Sometimes, no matter how many times we’ve read a Bible passage, it strikes us and sticks with us as a new revelation. It’s proof that “the word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12). God’s Word doesn’t change, but on occasion He opens our eyes, our minds, and our hearts in His timing when He has readied us to see a particular truth, to take it in, meditate on it, and perhaps share it. Seeing a passage anew is exciting; it’s like getting a tiny glimpse into heaven where “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all” (Luke 12:2, NLT). In fact, the passage I recently “discovered” is about Israelites who actually did see heaven: Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under His feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  And He did not lay His hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank (Ex. 24:9-11, emphasis added). They Saw The first thing which stands out in this passage is the clear declarations: “and they saw the God of Israel” and “they beheld God.” It’s repeated, so there is no doubt those seventy-four men were clearly in the presence of God. Apparently, God had even set a table for them to eat and drink in His presence, reminiscent of Joseph’s feeding his brothers or, perhaps, a glimpse of the table to be set in the Upper Room, or even of the table to be set for believers at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb still to come. However, of particular interest in this passage, are its timing in Israel’s history and those who are named. After the feast, God called Moses up to the mountain to receive instructions for building the Tabernacle and the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, but what did the others do? Moses told them to wait until he returned. Did they? Or did they go down to the people and exclaim, “We saw God!!!” Did they tell of His glory, the glory of the Lord, like a “devouring fire,” which remained on the mountain for the people of Israel to see from a distance? The Scriptures don’t tell us what they did―until Chapter 32...

They Saw, But They Forgot2022-05-04T23:29:38+00:00

Stewarding the Struggle

KAREN GRANT|GUEST The rough concrete scratched my toes as I focused on keeping my nose above water at the Fun in the Sun Club pool in Arlington, Texas. My goal that day was to touch the bottom. Water pooled in my ears and my hair swayed like seaweed in my eyes as I learned to hold and release my breath while flipping upside down to touch the bottom. Then I could swim toward the light. My parents applauded as I ventured into deeper and deeper water, opening my eyes to churning legs and feet, and watching my breath in measured bubbles. Discovering that less and less effort was required to break the surface, I began to trust air and water to do what they do. Where were you in the murky pool called the pandemic—that time of uncertainty, fear, and crisis? Were you upside down, attempting to avoid the churning chaos, swimming for the light before you ran out of breath, looking for cheer from someone, anyone out there? To gain perspective, we must somehow step outside of our own view. I believe the only healthy way to do that is to open God’s word to a relevant passage, engage with it, wring it out, cry into it, and ask questions until we get to the bottom. We submerge ourselves and trust Christ to do what He does when we engage with the living and active breath of God. We burst through the surface into His world, His thoughts, His reality, and it does what He does: it reveals areas where we must repent, restrains us from wrong, and sheds enough light for at least the next step. Stewarding Our Sorrows I remember the image of my pastor many years ago as he related the death of over ten friends or family within the span of a year. He and his wife were left empty; they could only be still and listen. They realized that stewardship is not only for money, gifts, and time, but also includes stewarding our sorrows. He held his hands out in the shape of a bowl before the congregation and told us that all he had to offer the Lord was ashes. This image continues to guide me as I’ve come to Jesus with my own offerings of ashes due to losses, severed relationships, and broken dreams, laying them at His feet and trusting Him to make them beautiful in His time. My question to Jesus in 2020-21 then became, “How can I steward this unto Your glory? Would you use me, and re-form me to bring comfort and encouragement to others?” He took me to Isaiah 12, and I was stunned. The truths in this chapter are clear for both its original and prophetic audiences, the covenant people of God. Gratitude, Opportunity, and Joy This is what I found: Our stewardship comes through gratitude, opportunity, and joy. Look at verses 1 and 2...

Stewarding the Struggle2022-05-04T23:27:23+00:00

I Can Do All Things

BARBARANNE KELLY|CONTRIBUTOR I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). There’s a funny little sign on my bookshelf right next to my desk that says, “I run marathons to deal with stress. Just kidding, I eat chocolate.” It makes me laugh, but it’s kind of true. I have run several half-marathons, one full marathon, and lots of 5k races. Just as surely as you will see someone at a baseball game holding a sign that says, “John 3:16,” at a race you will see shirts and signs declaring, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me —Philippians 4:13.” I appreciate the good intentions of those who wish to display their faith at a public event. But if the meaning is that “I can run a marathon because Christ gives me strength,” then I’d like to offer a gentle correction. Context Matters Let’s consider the context in which Paul wrote this passage. Throughout Philippians, Paul is writing from and to stressful situations: separation from friends, prison, persecution, potential martyrdom, interpersonal conflict. Both his living example and his loving exhortations have centered on Christ. More specifically, they have centered on the mindset of Christ and the life-changing power of the gospel. Follow me through some of the highlights of the letter with Philippians 4:13 in mind: The only way Paul can rejoice in the proclamation of Christ, even by his detractors, declaring that his imprisonment has served to advance the gospel—without any shade of resentment—is through God who strengthens him. The only way Paul can press on with full courage, now as always, not being ashamed of the gospel, but hoping that Christ will be honored in his body whether by life or by death, is through God who strengthens him. The only way believers can live in a manner worthy of the gospel, standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by our opponents, is through God who strengthens us...

I Can Do All Things2022-05-04T23:27:42+00:00

How Much More: Marveling at God’s Care for His People

I was privileged to attend a small Christian university. At the beginning of every semester, regardless of the subject, my professors began their new classes with a reminder of God’s creation. My chemistry professor enthusiastically announced we would be amazed at how God had constructed the atom. A calculus professor started his semester telling us that math demonstrated God’s order in the universe. Even the fine arts professors would introduce their topics by reminding us that God knitted each individual together before anyone else even knew they existed. The authors whose works we would read were graciously knitted together with talents for communicating ideas through the written word. Studying under godly professors gave me an appreciation for learning subjects with an eye toward how each fit into God’s creative plan. One of my retirement goals was to get back into college to study subjects that had always fascinated me. Ornithology was on my list. Birds are so diverse and so numerous; scientists are still working on categorizing the eleven thousand known species. The sights and sounds of birds are a beautiful part of God’s order. Birds have been remarkably designed with vision, hearing, touch, and smell senses that surpass that of humans. Some birds can see ultraviolet wavelengths, and some, like eagles, can see four focal points that they watch at once. Certain owls can catch a mouse in total darkness, guided only by their hearing. The sandpipers’ bills are so sensitive that they can detect differences in pressure when they probe mud to sense things before even touching them. Many birds use an acute sense of smell for navigation. Others can sense the magnetic field, read the stars, track the sun, and hear infrasound as part of their navigational skills. Luke calls our attention to birds in chapter 12: “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (v. 24). As much as I have been in awe of the birds I have studied, I am reminded in this verse of how much more in awe I should be of those God made in His image...

How Much More: Marveling at God’s Care for His People2022-05-04T23:19:34+00:00

E-119 Gospel Friends Roundtable Edition Carols of Christmas with Vanessa Hawkins, Ronjanett Taylor, B.A. Snider, Robin Stevens, & Sherry Lanier

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E-119 Gospel Friends Roundtable Edition Carols of Christmas with Vanessa Hawkins, Ronjanett Taylor, B.A. Snider, Robin Stevens, & Sherry Lanier2020-10-20T17:27:10+00:00
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