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Who Do You Say That I Am?

by Robin Puchala

Image by Sharon Tate Soberon
Flickr.214856471_018da61906
CC BY ND 2.0

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am”? Matthew 16:15

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” What would prompt a question like that? In Jesus’ timeline it is growing close to His crucifixion, but His disciples are unaware of this. Jesus has been teaching them for almost three years and they have shared life and broken bread together hundreds of times.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus gives them valuable advice for their future, ”Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”; but the disciples miss the point — they are still thinking with their natural minds, so they think He is making reference to the bread they haven’t eaten. What a shock for Jesus to think they completely miss His meaning saying, “How is it that you do not understand?” (v. 11).

I don’t think I’m ascribing to Jesus’ emotions if I point out that he must have felt a sting of disappointment and concern — these were His future leaders, His Generals if you will, who would carry on in His absence. Read the rest of this entry »

The ordinary miraculous

by Dawn Aldrich

Ordinary Objects by Stuart Dootson
Flickr.4568976192_c0504112f9_CC BY NC ND 2.0

Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” Luke 8:39 NIV

We spend most of our days in the ordinary. We awake, eat breakfast, dress for the day, and head to work or drive our kids to school, or to visit an elderly parent. Later, we return home, share a meal with our family, relax and ready ourselves for slumber. {Rinse and repeat}.

Life is full of the mundane, the ordinary, unless it’s intersected by something extraordinary–a surprise or a crisis. We’ve become numb to the extraordinary Divine presence in our ordinary–little miracles that when compounded equal an extraordinary life! Read the rest of this entry »

A hope to hold onto

by kerriebutterfield

 

Image by Casa Thomas Jefferson
Flickr.com_handshake_6964013353_e7ec857740_o.jpg_CC BY NC ND-2.0

I’ve found in life that hope can be a slippery subject. Most often when you need it the most it’s difficult to hold onto, and can slip right out of your hand as you desperately seek to keep a hold of it. At least that has been my experience. I’m often driven by what I see, what I feel, and what I think I know.

Years ago, in a particularly discouraging season, as I was waking up on a Sunday morning, I had this thought run across my brain: “I’m so tired.” Not too surprising for a non-morning person like me. As I lay there, I began to agree with that feeling, and it seemed to gain strength. I mean I was tired, but as I lay there I got more tired. The next thought that skipped across my brain was, “You should sleep in. No one would even notice if you weren’t at church this morning.” Read the rest of this entry »

Set Your Mind, Set Your Life

by Robin Puchala

Image by Andrew
Flickr.71439342_08fd0d48bf_CC NC ND 2.0

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 (NKJV)

We have just started a new year, dear ones — 365 days to begin again; to receive God’s blessings and become what He intends for us to be and do.

Personally, I haven’t been so great at keeping New Year’s Resolutions, but this year feels different. I am taking the time to prayerfully craft a plan with God and I can see the difference already.

I have also chosen a word for 2019 — Focus!

I am praying for greater focus to overcome daily distractions. We have so many to put up with — social media, phone calls, the demands of work and family and errands, just to name a few. In the midst of all that, today’s scripture asks us to “set our minds on things above”; set it. I had to pause over that one. My mind is racing most of the day — maybe you can relate; so I would have to ask — Lord, how? ‘Set it and forget it’ only applies to my watch or maybe a microwave these days, right? Right!

So how do I set my mind?

Here’s five key things to help set our minds on ‘things above’?

  1. Guard your time with God, especially in the morning. If you’re really pressed for time, may I suggest an amazing little pamphlet you can download from the Navigators called, “Seven Minutes with God”
  2. Include bible study.  Billy Graham read five Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs daily to complete both books of the Bible every month
  3. Employ God’s promises to refute the enemy’s lies. Choose several scriptures for every challenge and declare them like a prescription…morning, noon and night. For more on this, go to ScriptureKeys.com
  4. Use imagination. While reading Scripture, imagine the setting and place yourself in the picture. Try scenes like The Beatitudes or the account where Jesus fed the 5,000. Let the scenes unfold before you — rising hills, expansive blue skies; Jesus standing atop the hill preaching to you in the crowd
  5. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Check in during the day and watch for your relationship to deepen.

I hope one or two of these suggestions have resonated with you and you will use them to “set your mind” on Jesus every day. (One last suggestion, read the full passage from Colossians 3; and if you like The Passion Translation, please read the passage from there as well. You will not be disappointed.)

 

Focusing on first things

by kerriebutterfield

Focus by Kaila VanSumer
Flicker.photos/dioamato/5405697015/in/photolist-9eFBoF

Focus is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary  as, “directed attention.”  As I wracked my brain to write something meaningful about focus, ironically my brain went in all kinds of directions. Eventually, I felt God directing my attention to the creation story and focusing on what He focused on when He created Adam and Eve–blessings and co-reigning over the earth. 

In the record of  God creating , He focused on goodness. He created , stood back and declared what He created to be good. (With the exception of Adam himself, which He made complete by creating Eve and then declared it, “good”). God’s focus is on completeness/wholeness not perfection.  Read the rest of this entry »

The God of Hope

by Mindy Kiker

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

As we approach the Christmas season, we prepare our hearts to celebrate the gift of Immanuel, God with us.  Are you expectant that Jesus is coming, or are you burdened by all that has to be done between now and December 25th? We invite you to anticipate with us the arrival of Christ. We begin our anticipation by asking God to place in our hearts a glimmer of hope.

In Romans 15:13, we are promised that as we trust in God, He fills us to overflowing.  That’s not a few drops of hope, but a flood. The seasons, struggles and storms of life may leave us feeling parched and weary, but He gives us joy and peace more powerful than our circumstances. When Jesus arrives, His joy and peace arrive too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Out with the Old

by Rob Dunne

flickr.com/photos/nevilleslens/14534754156/in/photolis_CC BY NC ND 2.0

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

My wife Kellie and I recently undertook a DIY project…painting our kitchen cabinets. It was, by far, our most ambitious home improvement project to date. Truthfully, it is not for the faint of heart.

The first step was to remove the doors, drawers and all of the hardware. Next, we removed the contents of the cabinets or covered the insides with plastic. Of all the steps, this was the most difficult in my opinion. Both of us used an electric hand sander and the dust went everywhere! After sanding, you use a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.

In addition to the cabinet frame, there were twenty-one doors and seven drawers. We put two coats of primer and two coats of paint on all of it. Once they were all dry, the hinges and new hardware was placed back on everything. Lastly, the doors were hung and the drawers slid back in to place. In the end, our kitchen got a much needed facelift and Kellie and I are quite pleased with the results. However, it was a lot of work!

Read the rest of this entry »

A Child of Joy

by Mindy Kiker

I was depressed. Trapped by hopelessness and despair, I could see no way out. My guilt intensified because a baby was growing within my body, a tiny person trapped inside, feeling my every emotion, floating in a noxious bath of misery.

Why did you send this baby to me, God, only for me to taint before he is even born?

I still talked to the Lord, but my mind rejected genuine prayer. I scorned the Word. My heart despised the church. My mouth refused to sing. Once beloved spiritual practices had vanished. What was I to do?

Startled by the phone, I answered in my false cheerful voice, surprised to find my mom’s good friend who has prayed for me since I was a little girl. She rarely phones me, but when she does, I know it is important.

Read the rest of this entry »

Something Bigger Than Ourselves

by Wendy

DSC_3389

photo by W Coy. Use with permission

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

That afternoon I sang in a gorgeous, warm, intimate, wood-and-gilded 1891 hall named Carnegie. Not my first time there, but definitely my first time on stage. I listened and watched as the sound left our mouths and wafted high into the dome and the fifth balcony, swirling into patrons’ laps and dropping onto their faces with joy. We weren’t allowed to wear cologne, but someone’s shampoo smelled like orange blossoms. Resonance hung in the air with the scent. No one breathed. Perfect silence before the applause.

We were nobodies on that stage, but the hall and the composer/conductor wooed us into something bigger than ourselves.  The hall was like a living thing, a willing ally covering our mistakes; an unseen collaborator warming and shaping our sound and spinning it into gold as it danced between rounded walls. And we happily believed the sound and the audience’s warmth bouncing back to the stage.  We left the hall with that sparkling joy still glittering our hair and our faces.

Two mornings later it snowed, despite being more than a week after Easter and well into April.  Gloom and depression fell along with thick, foggy, slushy flakes which couldn’t stick because the ground was too warm.  Like the concert, the previous week’s hint of warmth was a tease of joy until reality crashed the party.

Read the rest of this entry »

His Pride and Joy!

by juste buzas

Image by David Verdugo
Flickr.com_3361579417_6ae151b5ab_ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!  May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and the length and height and depth [of it];”  Ephesians 3:17,18

One afternoon, when I was snuggling with my daughter while watching a movie, God overwhelmed me with the power of His love.  He showed me a picture of this love.  Just as my arms enveloped my dear daughter, His arms were wrapped around us.  My daughter and I were so thoroughly encased in the Father’s embrace that we were completely hidden.  We were wholly and entirely sheltered in His adoration and love.

As I sat there on the couch with my daughter, I realized that my love for my children pales miserably against the reflection of God’s eternal love.  This truth did not discourage me.  Rather, it gave me hope.  Life is the process of becoming like God.  And, God is love.  It is in His love, that this process of life is fulfilled.  It is in God’s love that all things…righteousness, justice, peace, and reconciliation become reality. Read the rest of this entry »

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