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If We Had Methuselah’s Years

Genesis 5 . . .

Just imagine . . .

According to this genealogical chapter:

Adam lived for 903 years.

Seth lived for 913.

Enosh lived for 905.

Kenan for 910.

Mahalalel for 895.

Jared, 962.

Enoch, 365 . . . on earth. He walked faithfully with God, so God took him away. (See verse 24.) He may still be alive. He literally may never experience death the way most of the rest of us do. That makes his son Methuselah’s record-breaking 969 years look like, well, our 70 to 100—or maybe more like a miniscule fraction of only our very first day of life.

And most of these men didn’t even become parents until they were close to or into their hundreds!

What would you do with all of that time? How would it change your life?

psalm-90-12

Right now, I’m picking and choosing. Besides caring for my family and our home, participating in church and community activities, reading, writing, running, and flower-hunting, there are several other things I’d love to learn to do. I’d love to learn another language or two. I’d love to learn to draw the flowers I take pictures of now. I might even enjoy trying to grow a few. And I could always use more time for the things I already enjoy.

Instead, I find myself pruning activity from my life in order to make time for the things I’ve prayerfully decided matter most right now. This is the reality of human life. We learn to ask, as Moses did, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We don’t have time to do everything. We must choose where to focus our energy to make the best use of the time that we have.

I wonder if Methuselah ever felt the need to number his days, to conserve time. Did he use his 969 years wisely? Or did he fritter them away? Maybe we’ll get to ask him someday.

S-o-m-e-d-a-y.

That’s right. For now, we pick and choose our activities to use our time as wisely as possible, knowing it is limited here on earth. But someday we’ll start enjoying eternity in Heaven where we’ll be able to pursue all the God-honoring creative endeavors we’ve ever felt inclined to try! Knowing this, we can learn to view this life as one of many seasons of our eternal life just as we break our human life into seasons of its own – the season of childhood, youth, training, home-building, career-developing or transitioning, the empty nest, mentorship, retirement . . .

There are so many seasons we get to enjoy in the span of an average life! Just imagine all God will allow us to do once we enter eternity with Him!

I’m going to try to remember this next time I’m forced to prune activities or to say, “No,” to something I’d love to do. For now, my time is limited. This won’t always be so. I can fully focus on and enjoy whatever season I am in. God has promised there will always be more!

Father, thank You for the promise of eternity—a gift we cannot even begin to understand. Until we receive it, please teach us to number our days, to choose wisely. Help us to thankfully give what we have now to You, knowing You plan to give us so much more someday. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

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Of Dead Keys and Fruitless Fig Trees

The Dead Key BagIn our house, I’m the Keeper of the Keys. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s similar to being the one who is expected to carry every else’s papers and books at church because I’m the one who carries a purse. (I usually refuse to live up to this expectation, but it’s there just the same.) I don’t carry a purse around the house, yet I’m still the one who gets to keep track of all the spare keys.

Whenever we move into a new home, every responsible inhabitant gets a set of house keys—and I get any extras to keep in a drawer—just in case. Every time we purchase a new padlock or security box or file cabinet, I get the spare keys for those, too. And because there’ve been times when a family member couldn’t find a key and the spare key couldn’t be found in its appointed place for one mysterious reason or another—most likely because said family member never gave The Keeper of the Keys the spare key to begin with, though said family member prefers to think The Keeper of the Keys misplaced the spare key—I’m a little bit obsessive about hanging on to all the keys that have ever come into my possession—ever—from the beginning of my mysterious appointment to this role.

The result of this obsession combined with our tendency to move is what I’ve come to call The Dead Key Bag. It’s a plastic, zipper bag stuffed full of keys that I have no idea what they open but feel compelled to keep—just in case. I laughed out loud when the lady who packed our house for our most recent move found my dead keys, brought them to me, and asked, “Are these important? Do you need to carry them yourself or should I pack them?” I told her that I didn’t know what they belonged to, so she could go ahead and pack them. She looked a little confused but took them back to pack anyway.

That’s when I realized I probably could have taken them and thrown them away right then. (The packer was probably thinking this, too.) We were moving. I had all keys-in-use on my key chain. Any keys in that bag were most assuredly dead. I’d be getting new keys. It was the perfect opportunity to free myself of The Dead Key Bag. Since the lady had already packed them, though, I decided I’d toss them when I found them in my new home.

I shouldn’t have waited. Earlier this summer, I told you about this particular packer and how she collected all the night lights in the house and packed them together in one box. Well, on the other side of the room from the drawer where I kept The Dead Key Bag was a drawer where I kept current spare keys. Spare keys that I could identify. Keys currently in use. My efficient packer friend found these keys—in their different drawer on the other side of the room—and thoughtfully added them to The Dead Key Bag.

It’s a key nightmare! Now I have to keep the dead keys or risk throwing out a key we still use.

The other day my son Seth asked for the spare key to his car. With a sinister gleam in my eye, I handed him The Dead Key Bag. He dumped it out, and we examined its contents together.

“Mom, these little keys are luggage keys—for the little padlocks on your suitcases that anyone can open with a toothpick. They’re useless. You can throw them away.”

I didn’t.

“These are the keys to Justin’s, Alex’s, and my first cars. We’ve sold the cars. You can throw these keys away.”

I think I’m going to have them bronzed—like Grandma bronzed her children’s baby shoes!

“This is the key to Dad’s Ranger the lady hit and totaled two years ago.”

That one needs to be plated with gold! My husband walked away without a scratch. Thank You, Lord!!!

“The rest of these look like house or padlock keys. We should melt them down and make something useful out of them.”

I have no idea how to do such a thing, but Seth will figure it out if I give him permission. In the meantime, I’m putting The Dead Key Bag back in the drawer for a designated project day when I’ll toss every key for which I cannot find a lock.


This reminds me of the parable of the fig tree found in Luke 13:6-8. The owner of a fig tree goes out to search for fruit. For the third year in a row, he can’t find any, so he tells the caretaker to cut down the tree. The caretaker begs him for one more year and promises to give extra attention to that tree for that year in order to help it produce fruit.

The tree’s purpose is to produce fruit. A key’s purpose is to open a lock. A person’s purpose is to find God, accept His gift of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ, and spend eternity enjoying a loving relationship with Him.

The world is full of people who haven’t found their purpose, but God is patient “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Like the owner of the fig tree and The Keeper of the Keys, however, God has chosen a day when His patience will end—a day known only to Him (Matthew 24:36).

Until then, those of us who know God are like the caretaker in the parable. We walk and talk with Him daily. We love Him and strive to get to know Him better. We serve Him faithfully, doing whatever He tells us to do. We’re fulfilling our purpose, while doing all we can to lead others to Him. The end of the year/designated project day is coming. We must help lead people to our Lord.

How do we do this? We do what the caretaker did!

  • We plead with God on their behalf.
  • We offer them Living Water, like Jesus offered it to the woman at the well (John 4:1-26).
  • We give them the nutrients of God’s Word as opportunities arise.
  • We pay attention to their needs, loving them in Jesus’ name as we love ourselves.

There isn’t much we can do for a bunch of dead keys. They’ve served their purpose; they are done. But we can pray for and love people who haven’t yet discovered the purpose for which they were made. Our God is patiently waiting, reaching out to all. Let’s ask Him for a greater awareness of opportunities to help people come to Him.

Father, thank You for salvation. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for sending Your Son to save us from our sins, so we can enjoy an eternal relationship with You. We thank You now for Your patience with those who haven’t found You yet. Please continue to wait. And while You do, please send Your Spirit to help us do all we can to help lead these souls to You. We love You, Lord. We want them to love You, too. For their good. For Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Living in the New-Covenant Kingdom Now

Purple Flower“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” –Deuteronomy 8:18

A new thought came to me when I read this verse this morning. When we compare the old and new covenants of the Bible, we talk often about the fact that anything accomplished by the old sacrificial system was temporary, so that those sacrifices had to be offered again and again and again. Jesus’ sacrifice, the sacrifice of the new covenant, happened once for all people for all time. No sacrifice for sin will ever be required again.

Deuteronomy 8:18 hints at another difference between the two covenants, though. Whenever the old covenant is referred to, the rewards for honoring it are temporary things. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised His people wealth, land, long life, big families, and status. Jesus, in the New Testament, didn’t promise any of those things. In fact, regarding this life, He promised suffering!

Don’t get me wrong. People in the Old Testament suffered, too—and sometimes for reasons they couldn’t understand. But when they did, their restoration or “happy ending,” so to speak, involved only temporary things. Joseph became a ruler, second only to Pharoah, and was reunited with his family. Job got his wealth, family, and reputation back. The Israelites in exile looked forward to the day when God would restore His Kingdom on earth.

But God had a bigger plan. Jesus talked about it all the time before His death and resurrection, but His followers couldn’t understand until after those events. When Jesus died and rose again, He brought the hope of eternal life into the picture in a whole new way! He tore the veil between the physical and the spiritual. Because of Him, we live with a dramatically different understanding of what it means to be saved. Before the resurrection, people expected to be saved for this life. After, they knew Jesus had saved them for eternity!

None of the disciples got a “happily ever after” ending like Job did. All were martyred except for Judas, who took his own life, and John, the beloved disciple, who probably suffered more than any who were killed! At the very least, he had to wait the longest to be reunited with Christ in that promised heavenly home.

New-Covenant KingdomBut none of them were looking for Job’s happy ending. Their hearts were set on eternity. Yes. Jesus promised them suffering, but He also promised freedom from sin, comfort, strength, character, wisdom, His Presence, the fruit of the Spirit, citizenship in His Kingdom, adoption into His forever family, a new name, an eternal home in Heaven, crowns they’d be honored to throw at His feet and so. much. more.

If we’re looking for wealth, health, and status in this world, we’re living with an old covenant mindset. Jesus invites us to follow Him and His disciples into His New-Covenant Kingdom now.

Jesus, this life can be confusing, disheartening, even hurtful sometimes. But we choose to trust You. Our hope is not for the rewards this world can offer but for the eternal ones that You promised. Help us to keep our focus on eternity with You as we faithfully serve you here. Help us to boldly follow the example those early Christian set, knowing that eventually, just like Your beloved disciple did, we’ll see You face to face in our new home. Nothing can separate us from Your love! Amen.


Giveaway news!!! If you have a Goodreads account, there’s a Home Is Where God Sends You giveaway going on now! Click here to enter.

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Following Like Matthias Did

“Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”Acts 1:26

Matthias. He perplexes me. His name is only mentioned three times in the whole Bible—all in the first chapter of Acts where his selection as Judas’ replacement among the twelve apostles is recorded.

DSC00587eIf replacing Judas was such an important thing, why doesn’t anybody tell us what Matthias did once he filled this role? Since the gospels were written after this event and Matthias was chosen because he’d been hanging out with Jesus all along, just like the apostles did, why didn’t any of the Gospel writers mention anything Matthias did during that time—in a foreshadowing kind of way? Who is this unknown apostle and why did Luke feel it necessary to mention him in Acts 1—and nowhere else?

We won’t really know this answer to this question until we get to Heaven, but I think the Bible gives us a few clues. Matthew 19:28 records a promise Jesus made about Heaven. He said, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Later, Revelation 4 records John’s vision of the throne room of Heaven. John writes, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads” (verse 4). A few verses later, he continues, “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being’” (verses 9-11).

We don’t know for certain who these twenty-four elders are, but theologians speculate that they are probably the twelve sons of Israel (from the Old Testament) and the twelve apostles (from the New Testament).

So what does this tell us about Matthias? Because Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, he was chosen to sit on one of those twelve thrones of Heaven that Jesus told his disciples about. When we get to Heaven, we will see Matthias worshiping God, laying his own crown before Him, and declaring Christ’s worthiness. I’m sure Matthias served Jesus faithfully throughout his life. But the lack of information about this service leads me to believe that Matthias’ service for eternity far outweighs any work he did on earth.

And that leads me to wonder, no, to know that the same is true for each of us. We are living life now in preparation for eternity. We serve God now in training for forever. And if we don’t get any recognition now from friends, associates, or strangers, well, that’s okay because God sees our hearts, knows who is truly faithful, and has a plan for our future in Heaven with Him always.

Judas got a lot of attention while on earth, but in the end, he had to be replaced. I pray we’ll all follow Matthias’ example instead.

Lord, please find us faithful. Teach us to serve quietly with eyes riveted on You. We worship You now in training for eternity. You are worthy, our Creator and King. May our lives forever glorify Your holy name. Amen.

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Only One Option Works

DSC00596e“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”John 14:6

I’ll confess. We’re a family of tortilla chip snobs. There is one brand we love. Eating any other kind equals reluctant settling.

Sadly, I’ve only been able to find one store in our area that carries this brand, and that store only keeps the chips in stock for holidays and sporting events that demand great amounts of tortilla chip consumage.

The last time that this store had our chips in stock, I grabbed four extra-large bags of them. (I would have purchased more, but they would have gone stale before we could have eaten them. There are limits to how much you can stock up on tortilla chips.) When I got to the check-out stand, the cashier said, “You must be throwing a big party.”

I said, “Oh, no. Your store doesn’t have these chips in stock very often, so I get a bunch whenever you do.”

“Are they that good?” she asked.

I assured her they were. On the way out the door, I thought, “Wouldn’t it have been great if she’d asked me about Jesus instead of tortilla chips?”

Jesus is the One I love. No other religion, person, or substance can satisfy my soul. Not only is He my Savior, the One Who gave His life to open the door to Heaven for me, but He’s also my best Friend. Jesus offers peace, joy (even in the midst of heartache), wisdom, patience, and compassion. He loves me like no one else can.

He wants to do and be all of this for you as well—and He’s the only One Who can. Anything else is settling and will never satisfy. Jesus is the way to Heaven, the Truth that sets you free of the pain that comes from believing this world’s lies, and the One Who gives us life: abundant life, eternal life, a life that’s worth living.

If you haven’t met Him yet, I recommend Him to you! Click here to read more about the life Jesus offers. There’s no sufficient way to put this relationship into words; Jesus is Someone you must experience. But I promise that if you reach out to Him by seeking to know Him through His Word, the Bible, by talking to Him like you would talk to a friend, and by telling Him you really want to experience Him like others do, He will be there for you. And You will be thankful—eternally.

Jesus, I love You! Please draw others to love You, too. You are the way, the truth, and the life, the One Who leads us to the Father and into the best relationship of all. I’m so thankful for all You’ve given to me, what You make available to all! I don’t want anyone to miss out. Please reach them, Lord. Amen.

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Standing Firm in Your True Citizenship

Finding Home“But our citizenship is in heaven.”Philippians 3:20

A few days ago, a Facebook friend posted a link to a quiz that I just had to take. The quiz claimed that in ten questions it could tell me just how Californian I am.

I already know that I am 100% Californian. Not only was I born and raised there, but through my mother’s side of the family, I’m a fourth generation Californian. I may be moving all over the world courtesy of the United States Army, but my California roots run deep. No quiz can argue with that.

But this quiz did. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answers. In fact, I knew just what answers to give in order to get that stereotypical 100% endorsement, but they wouldn’t have been truthful answers either for me or for most of the other Californians I know from all over the state. And so, I only earned a 60% on that silly quiz—possibly made up by someone born and raised in New York State. Judging by the comments left by others who had taken the quiz, I wasn’t the only Californian who disagreed with the ten question assessment of their heritage.

I am okay with that. I know where I come from.

But today I saw another quiz on Facebook that promised to tell me how Southern I am. Being a displaced Californian who has lived in the South for six years now, seven if Texas counts, I decided to try that quiz. (Yes. I am a sucker for silly quizzes.) Again, I answered truthfully despite knowing the correct answers to most of the questions. (I’m still not sure what pig pickin’ is; I don’t think I want to, come to think of it. And I never drink sweet tea unless it’s artificially sweetened. I am a Californian, after all. Would you believe diet cokes weren’t even given as options on this quiz?! Note: diet coke is intentionally lower case. My fellow Californians know why.)

In any case, it turns out, according to that quiz, that I am 63% Southern.

I am so confused!

How does one score a 63% on a ten question quiz? Did they give partial credit for some of the answers?

More disturbing: how is it that I am now 123% of a person?

And how will things add up if I take quizzes for Maine, New York, or the Netherlands? I think the math alone disproves the validity of the quizzes. Percentages of a whole must always add up to 100%.

I think I’ll just stop taking those Facebook quizzes (until the next one comes along) and rejoice in the fact that my true citizenship isn’t really in any of those places. My citizenship is in Heaven with Jesus, my Lord. I hope that yours is, too!

There’s only one question we have to answer correctly in order to know that this is 100% true:

  • Have you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of Your life for all eternity?

If you have, we’re fellow citizens in God’s Kingdom! If you haven’t, you’re only one prayer away. Click here to learn more!

Jesus, thank You for making it possible for us to join your Kingdom. Please help us to appreciate and celebrate our citizenship every day! And, if anyone is reading this who hasn’t yet trusted in You, please open their hearts and minds. Draw them in Lord. Invite them to know You and bask in Your forever love. For the glory of Your name and the good of all. Amen.

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Psalm 18:35 on My Mind

NewOMMYou make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.”Psalm 18:35, NIV

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”Psalm 18:35, ESV

This is our fourth week of five, memorizing Psalm 18:32-36. I hope you’ve been following along, adding one verse each week. If you’re new here, though, don’t worry! Psalm 18:35 is quite powerful all by itself. I encourage you to jump right in, focusing on this one verse this week. To see the whole passage at BibleGateway.com, however, you can click here. To see the previous three posts on this passage, click here, here, and here.

Before we go on, I do ask that you indulge me in something I don’t usually do. My OCD tendencies rebel against it. My editorial training does, too. But some things just can’t be helped! So far we’ve been looking at this passage in the NIV. It was my intention to continue in that version through the whole thing. But I stumbled across verse 35 in the ESV and loved it! In this instance, it makes everything so clear. So–I will memorize the passage in the NIV, but I will share my thoughts on the verse from the perspective of the ESV. In my mind, one brings out the meaning of the other. As we remember the NIV, we’ll also remember what we learned about each phrase from the ESV. Please consider this a parallel version study.

Verse 35 of our passage goes right along with my post from last Thursday. In that post, I talked about how all people alive on Planet Earth right now are somewhere in the process of making right choices in order to grow in Christ. Some have yet to choose to follow Him at all. Others are learning to choose to do the things that will help them mature spiritually. They are choosing to grow toward God–or not. In Psalm 18:35, David explains what has happened since he chose to accept God’s call on his life and to serve faithfully as king.

  1. God saved him from all his enemies. Through Christ, God has saved us from bondage to sin (if we have turned away from our sin and asked Jesus to be Lord of our life*). Remembering we have the shield of salvation can give us courage to face anything. With the promise of eternal life, we have nothing to lose when we live our lives for Christ.
  2. God’s right hand supported him. References to God’s right hand are symbolic of His power. God is all-powerful. He was powerful enough to protect David and establish him as king. He is powerful enough to help us achieve anything He calls us to do.
  3. God’s gentleness made David great. I picture moms with preschoolers here. These moms must be firm, yet gentle as they love, discipline, teach, nurture, and train. An overly harsh approach will cause children to live in fear, unable to mature and function independently. Firm, but gentle correction enables children to grow in confidence, able to make right choices and develop strong skills. David didn’t have an easy life, but God dealt with him gently even as He used some tough realities to prepare David to be a great king. God never gave David more than he could bear. God does the same for us.

Father, thank You for the shield of Your salvation, the power we need to do anything You ask, and Your gentle guidance intended to make us great. David chose to cooperate. Help us to do so, too! For the glory of Your Kingdom. We love You, Lord. Amen.

*If you haven’t yet asked Jesus to be Lord of your life, please click here to learn how. It’s easy! He’s waiting to hear from you today. He loves you. He died for you. He lives for you today. (The link will take you to a post I wrote on an older blog of mine. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, my request still stands!)

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Praying for Flowers That Matter to Bloom

IrisesI love finding surprise flowers growing in my yard. I have no idea where these came from, but I’m treasuring the gift.

I’m getting impatient, though! I’ve been waiting three days for them to fully open up, to show their glory in the bright sunlight. Earlier this year, two different bunches of daffodils started to open just before the weather changed. One bloomed beautifully just in time to be destroyed by a sudden downpour. The other was buried in snow before it ever had a chance to show its splendor. I’m hoping the weather doesn’t turn ugly on these. Even now, I can see their potential. These are going to be gorgeous!

These flower thoughts are leading me to think of people I know today. God inspired several authors in the Bible to compare people’s lives to flowers: Isaiah, Job, David, Solomon, James, and Peter–to name a few. Even Jesus used the analogy. I’m thinking of Peter’s (which quotes one of Isaiah’s) today:

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.'”1 Peter 1:23-24

In light of eternity, our lives are as brief and as fragile as the flowers in my yard. Some people live very short lives. It seems they move on into eternity before their lives bloom fully. Others live a long time but refuse to bloom at all. I have several like this in my yard right now. The green part of the plant came up, but the flowers have yet to show. For whatever reason, they probably won’t this year. That is just as tragic as being squashed before the bloom. And then, of course, there are the ones whose flowers reach their full potential, so we can enjoy them for a little while before they die.

People don’t get to choose the length of their life. They don’t really get to choose what their flower looks like either; God gives people their appearance, personality traits, abilities, interests, and such, then they work with what they have. But people do get to choose whether or not they will reach for the sun (be saved through Christ), drink in the rain (listen to God’s Spirit by reading God Word, praying continually, and worshiping with God’s people), and do all they can to become what God created them to be (practice spiritual disciplines, so they can know God and live in tune with His will).

All people alive on earth right now are somewhere in the process of that choice! And God, their Creator, is waiting in anticipation, along with all the hosts of Heaven, I’m sure, to see each person bloom!

Just stop for a moment and try to imagine that. I’ll wait. Close your eyes and picture it right now: God watching in earnest anticipation to see you reach your potential in Him.

I’m thankful that God is patient. He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). “He is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

After we are born again, God wants us to continue to grow and mature. He wants us to grow in grace, in righteousness, in knowledge, in wisdom, in unity, in love, in Christ! All of these add to the beauty of our bloom, but salvation, as Peter explains in 1 Peter 1:23-24 is the most important thing. Our lives are short. If we bloom gloriously on earth without Christ as our Savior, then it’s all for nothing when we die. But if we’re born again, of imperishable seed (Jesus Christ), then we’ll share God’s glory forever whether or not our petals have a chance to bloom in this world.

The ideal progression:

  1. We’re born again in Christ and start to grow in Him now.
  2. We reach for the sun, drink in the rain, and do all we can to become whatever God has created us to be while we’re on earth.
  3. God takes us to Heaven where we share in His glory by His grace throughout eternity.

Let’s pray for all people as God waits patiently. He won’t wait forever. Let’s pray for God’s flowers to bloom!

Wildflower ThoughtsFather, remind us to pray regularly for all the people we know. Some are striving to bloom on earth without Your Son. Thank You for Your patience with them. Please make Yourself known and open their hearts to Your truth. Others know You and are growing. Help these to reach their potential. Help their lives to bloom brightly and glorify Your name. Still others feel they have done all they can and are waiting to go home. As they linger, according to Your timing, will, and perfect plan, draw them ever closer to You. As long as we’re breathing, that’s the ultimate reason why. We long to know You better as we wait to meet You face to face in eternity someday. In Jesus’ name, amen.

This post is linked to A Little R & R and Fellowship Fridays.

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Understanding Lent

Lent.

I’ve known of this season on the Christian calendar since high school. My BFF was Catholic—she still is, in fact. When we were growing up, she tried to explain holy days and such to me as her family recognized them. I found their practices interesting but didn’t understand they could have meaning for me.

DSC01152eOne year, my friend decided to give something up for Lent. I decided to join her. Being the teenage girls we were, sugar seemed like the thing to surrender—if you’re going to give something up, you may as well lose a few pounds while you’re at it, too.

Ah. Motives. I don’t really think either of us had a clue why we were giving something up for Lent. We just knew it was something she was supposed to do. And we were completely faithful—right up until midnight on Easter Eve when we didn’t have to wait another second and gorged ourselves on Easter candy.

I can’t honestly say it was a religious experience. But I think we thought it was just the same.

Over the past few years, though, I’ve been striving for a better understanding of the true significance of these days. Practicing Lent is a Christian tradition. It’s a useful practice for worship, but not found in the Bible nor essential for faith. I’ve come to appreciate the practice, though, intended to prepare our hearts for Easter’s celebration in a more meaningful way.

In case you are unfamiliar with Lent, I’ll summarize: it starts on Ash Wednesday (today) and lasts for 40 days plus six Sundays. (These are days of rest. You get them off!) Ash Wednesday is an intent look with grief at what humanity lost in the Fall. God told Adam, “For dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19b). We mourn with ashes as we consider the dust we deserve to someday be.

But Lent ends on Easter with a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Thanks to Jesus, we look forward to eternal life instead of dreading a destiny as dirt! Lent is a time to consider how Christ gets us from hopelessness to hope, from darkness to light, from death to life, from fallen to someday glorified! We meditate on what He’s done for us while reflecting on what He’s doing in us—and how the two actions are a lot alike. Jesus died for our sins, so that we can die to sin and live forever with Him.

Thank You, Jesus, for life. Amen.

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In This World But Not of It

“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.'” -John 18:36, NIV

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” -John 17:15-16, NIV

DSC01139As I read the two verses above and notice how they fit together, three thoughts stand out to me:

1. Jesus kept His focus on eternal Kingdom goals. Jesus’ words in John 18:36 reveal that He was able to endure the pain and injustice of the cross because He knew that His suffering, though real, was temporary. He kept His focus on God’s Kingdom–His Kingdom–and the impact that His actions would have for eternity. Jesus really did experience physical pain, ridicule, humiliation, and a sense of abandonment, but He knew that it was of this earth. He clung to that truth as He endured the atrocious events of that day and chose to follow the path that impacted His Kingdom for eternity in the only triumphant way.

2. Jesus didn’t ask God to remove His followers from this world. John 17 records Jesus prayer for His own glorification, for His disciples, and for all who would come to believe as a result of His incarnation, death, and resurrection. He didn’t pray that God would take His followers out of the world but that God would protect them from Satan. If God had removed all believers from this world as they came to believe, there would be no one around to tell others about Him! For the sake of God’s Kingdom, we have to follow Jesus’ example, focus on God’s Kingdom, and endure faithfully through circumstances that God can use to impact eternity.

3. Jesus did ask God to protect us from Satan. Knowing this, we are assured, even when we don’t understand, that anything that God allows into our life can be used for the good of His Kingdom and for our own development as God’s children growing into maturity. God will not allow anything into our lives that has the power to force us back into slavery to sin. So long as we dwell in His Kingdom (currently on earth but not of the earth), Satan has no authority over us. Christians live under God’s sovereign protection regarding eternity.

That said, regarding this world, God sometimes chooses to protect us from life’s harsh realities. Other times, however, He allows us to experience them, to suffer pain that is not fair. When He allows this, we can trust that He will use those realities in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend to prepare us for His Kingdom or to draw others into it. What happens on earth, whether painful or joyous, is temporary. God cares for us deeply. He hurts when we hurt. Yet His primary concern is with the eternal. It has to be! Therefore He acts, first of all, to impact that. We choose to cooperate with Him when we trust Him to be with us in all situations and serve Him faithfully.

Father, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes I don’t understand why You allow some of the things You do. But I know You are sovereign, and I know You are good. You are building Your Kingdom now, right here on this earth. Please use my life according to Your plan. Please help me to trust You in all You do. Amen.