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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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The Find-a-Penny Prayer

“Find a penny. Pick it up. All the day you’ll have good luck.”

I found a penny on the ground by my truck yesterday. I wasn’t even tempted to pick it up. I live in Texas now. It’s hot. That penny would have burned my fingers. But seeing it made me smile. I remember how exciting it was, as a child, to find a penny on the ground.

Find a Penny PrayerThough I didn’t claim yesterday’s penny, a new value for found pennies occurred to me. When we see pennies on the ground, let’s pray for the people who dropped them. The lost penny may not have caused great financial hardship (unless they’d been desperate for a cup of coffee, searched their car for change, found exactly the right amount needed, then dropped that one penny . . . these things do happen). But we can ask God to bless them financially, help them manage their money wisely, or even just to do something that will brighten their day.

Then, if we don’t pick up the penny ourselves, we can pray for the person who will! I’m picturing a child, but I also remember a pastor who used found pennies as a sermon illustration and explained why he always picks them up. (I don’t remember why, though, just that he always does. I’m guessing I didn’t remember what he’d hoped I would.)

Regardless, let’s let found pennies remind us to pray for those who dropped them and those who will pick them up. A conversation with Jesus is better than hoping for luck.


You know, I have to admit that some of the prayer prompts I come up with, like this one, sometimes seem a little silly at first. But I love discovering that something as simple as a penny on the ground can remind me to talk to God on another person’s behalf and that, as I talk to Him for that person, His Spirit immediately reminds me of other things to talk to Him about. As quick as that, I’m praying as I go about the random business of my day. And maybe that person who dropped a penny really needs to be remembered in prayer. Or maybe that prayer will remind me to pray for someone else’s known need that I forgotten to talk over with God. Or maybe God just wants to get my attention—for us to spend some time together in the middle of a busy day. I can’t look at anything that reminds me to talk to God as silly when I consider it that way. May everything around us come to remind us to pray.

Father, thank You for drawing my attention to a shiny penny on hot pavement. Thank You for reminding me to pray. Please help us all remember to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We love You. We love meeting with You—anytime of day. Amen.

For more prayer prompts, read my book, Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually. Available for Kindle at Amazon.com or in paperback through several on-line bookstores.

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Home Owners’ Dysociation Blues

Blue Bonnet“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” –Luke 6:27-31

Last week, I read The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (and loved it, by the way). I immediately recognized it as dystopian fiction but realized that I didn’t know, precisely, what that word means. What exactly makes dystopian dystopian? I looked it up. It was a well, of course, moment for me.

Dystopian is the opposite of utopian. A utopian society, if it existed, would be perfect. A dystopian society, on the other hand, is one where nobody wants to live. Well, nobody except for a select few power-hungry bullies who force everyone else to follow all their arbitrary rules – such as: every district will send two children a year to fight the other districts’ chosen children to the death because doing so will maintain harmony in our world. Or you will spend your childhood preparing for marriage, but if you aren’t chosen for marriage on a specified day, you will have to be society’s invisible slave for the rest of your life. Or you can only have one virtue. If you have more than one virtue, you are a danger to society and must be destroyed.

Somebody really needs to stand up to bullies who make ridiculous rules like that.

My husband and I recently moved into a dystopian community. We didn’t do this on purpose. But, in spite of this, we do love our new home! We chose it from a distance through pictures. We even “drove” down the street via Google to see what the neighborhood looked like. We knew there was an element of risk, but we’ve lived in the general area before and are only renting this time, so we felt confident. And we were thrilled when we walked into the house for the first time. The reality is even better than the pictures were. And as a bonus: if I walk out my back gate, I walk into my very own wildflower field! Have I mentioned we love our new home?!

We’d only been here a few days, though, when we got an e-mail message from our property manager. Seems the trailer we were using to move some of our stuff into our home was perceived as a violation of Home Owners’ Association (HOA), or should I say, “Home Owners’ Dysociation” (HOD) rules. We were told to move it off the property immediately or face the HOD tribunal for disciplinary action. Thoughts of Jace from Duck Dynasty fighting for the right to keep chickens on his property came to mind. That and knowledge of forms of disciplinary action taken in fictional dystopian societies was enough to make us comply. We finished unloading the trailer and moved it that afternoon. Now we can’t walk through our garage, but since the HOD can’t see it, they don’t care.

Horse ThistleIf you don’t already know this, my husband and I move every few years (You can read some of the lessons we’ve learned from this here.) It’s not unusual for neighbors to come to the door to introduce themselves and welcome us to the area. Some offer to help if we need anything. Others bring flowers or fruit baskets or casseroles. We never expect this from our new neighbors, but it’s always nice to receive a friendly greeting. It helps us feel like we belong.

The e-mail from the HOD had the opposite effect. It made us wonder if we may be unwanted here.

Instead of coming to our door to talk with us politely, an anonymous stranger with a camera took a picture of our trailer and sent it to our property manager along with a complaint. That’s just offensive.

And, as it turns out, the rule about trailers only applies to trailers that aren’t in use. Ours was in use, helping us move into our home. That stranger with a camera was overzealous—and just plain wrong. (Not to mention, a tattletale.) We almost wish we could have faced that tribunal to defend ourselves, but our property manager refused to tell us how to contact the HOD. She also refused to give them any defense on our behalf. Just thanked us for complying to get the HOD off her back.

As I said, we love our new home. But had we seen the rules before we signed the lease, we wouldn’t have chosen to live here.

Ironically, the letter that came with the list of rules said “These obligations [notice: not rules, obligations] are not intended as an inconvenience or an invasion of your freedom, but rather as a means of maintaining harmony in your community.” Ironically is a difficult word to use correctly, but I did use it correctly here. The truth is the exact opposite of what is stated in that letter. We were inconvenienced. Our freedom was taken away. We don’t feel any harmony. And we don’t yet feel that it’s our community.

So what are we going to do?

  • We are going to enjoy this new place for as long as we are living here.
  • We are going to love our neighbors as we love ourselves—even if we learn they go around taking pictures of perceived HOD violations and tattling on us.
  • We will avoid further confrontations with the HOD by following their rules—unless they tell us to fight each other to the death. (In that case, we’re breaking our lease.)
  • We’re going to thank God for our home, for our neighbors, for this new community, and for any opportunities to serve in His name.
  • And the next time we see someone moving in, we’ll visit, introduce ourselves, and take a welcome gift.

The problem with dystopian societies is their leaders care more about outward appearances than they care about the individuals who live within. It hurts to be one of those individuals. But there’s an object lesson here. Whenever I notice the specified exactly one tree and seven bushes in each yard of my neighborhood, I’ll remember that people are more important than buildings or yards. It’s people who give value to a community. It’s people loving people in Jesus’ name who make that value soar.

Father, please teach us to care about the people who inhabit the homes in our neighborhoods. Help us to reach out with love and acceptance and hospitality. Thank You for the perfect example we see in Your Son. Help us to clothe ourselves in Him as we love others in Your name each day. Amen.

Bible verses that floated through my mind as I wrote this: Philippians 1:10, Matthew 23:27, Philippians 4:4-7, John 13:34-35, Colossians 3:12

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Devising Ways to Restore Relationship

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” -2 Samuel 14:14

2 Samuel 14-14This verse from 2 Samuel appears in the middle of the account of one of the greatest tragedies of King David’s life. His son Absalom had murdered David’s other son Amnon to avenge David’s daughter Tamar. Then Absalom had fled to Geshur where he stayed for three years. Second Samuel 13:39 tells us that David longed to go to Absalom but refused to do so. The verse above was spoken by a woman sent to David by Joab, David’s nephew and the commander of his army, who wanted to help David restore the relationship with his son. Unfortunately, though David chose to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem, he still refused to meet with him face to face. Absalom became bitter, tried to steal the kingdom from David, and was murdered by Joab.

I wonder how things would have been different had David welcomed his son home with open arms . . . or at least with a little face time at the day’s equivalent of Starbuck’s.

We can’t be too hard on David, though. We don’t know what Absalom was like before Amnon assaulted Tamar. He may have been rebellious and threatening from the start. And murder is a serious offense. If David wasn’t comfortable allowing a murderer, even his own son, to live under his roof, near his wives and other children, I’m not sure we can fault him for that. Still the ultimate outcome was tragic. Absalom’s death broke David’s heart.

I love the insights of verse 14, however. This verse is all about God and His relationship with us—an example the woman encouraged David to follow regarding his son—one we can follow regarding close family members or friends who wound us. Let’s look at this verse more closely:

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.” We have wronged God, and we can’t fix it any more than we can pick up water once it’s spilled on the ground. What’s done is done. The consequence of death is inevitable.

Or is it? Keep reading:

“But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.”

God is God. What He wants will be. He wants relationship. He won’t force us into a relationship with Him because He wants us to come to Him because we want to. Yet He made a way to make relationship possible again.

I love that this verse was written long before Jesus came. He Is the way that God devised to save us from the consequences of our sin, to restore relationship. But the woman who spoke to David did not know about Him. She must have had great faith in God, in His mercy, and in His love and faithfulness. Maybe she was referring to the then-existing sacrificial system. Maybe she had noticed God’s work in the lives of people around her, His drawing them to Him. Whatever she was referring to, she knew our God wants relationship with His people and works to make it possible in spite of our sin.

This is why it’s so important for us to forgive those who have wronged us. Yes. We need to protect ourselves from further harm, and we have that right. Yet, as far as it is possible, we must strive to restore relationship. We must prayerfully devise appropriate ways to reach out with forgiveness and in hopes of fellowship even if all we can do is call or send a message once in a while to let the person know they’re still in our thoughts, we still care.

Granted, there are times when even that is not possible. The person, like Absalom, may be dangerous (physically, mentally, or emotionally) or may be uninterested in further contact. If that’s the case, our responsibility is to forgive, pray when God brings the person to mind, and move on. But when we can work toward mending a relationship, we offer the one who hurt us a great gift, and we receive an even greater gift from God in return as He uses our actions to make us more like Christ, His Son.

David refused to welcome Absalom home, but God has devised the perfect way to invite His banished children to enjoy a forever relationship with Him. Not all accept the invitation, but it’s there just the same. We thank Him when we follow His example and reach out with forgiveness.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” –Romans 12:18

Father, I’ll thank You forever for sending Jesus to make it possible for me and for all who want to to enjoy life with You! When others wrong me, help me to remember what You’ve done. Give me the desire to forgive and, if there is a way, reveal my part in restoring a healthy relationship. Amen.

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Yielding the Outcome to the Lord’s Authority

 “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’
   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” –Luke 5:12-13

Jesus canThese two verses reveal so much about having the right attitude toward God when we pray for our own wants and needs. The leper wanted to be healed. He knew Jesus had to power to heal him. But he didn’t demand this healing. He left the outcome in Jesus’ hands: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” In this case, Jesus was willing. He chose to heal the man.

But what if He hadn’t? The leper realized that this was Jesus’ right. He chose to trust Jesus with the outcome either way. The Bible doesn’t tell us how the man would have reacted if Jesus had said, “I’m not willing. No healing today.” But I’d like to believe the man had heard enough about Jesus to know that He Is God and He Is good and He always chooses what’s best for His children—even when they don’t understand why. And I’d really like to try to always pray with that same faith. Though it’s hard to understand when God says, “No,” it honors Him with the trust and respect He deserves.

When we present our requests to God, let’s remember the leper’s prayer:

“Lord, if You are willing, You can!” . . . and if You aren’t willing, we choose to trust You with that. You are God. You are able. You always choose what’s best for the glory of Your Kingdom, for the good of everyone. Help us to know this regardless of any prayer’s outcome. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Book Review: “Against the Flow”

Against the FlowIf you’ve ever really wanted to dig deeply into the book of Daniel, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism is the perfect book for you. It’s intense. It takes time to absorb. But it is worth the work. Author John Lennox will lead you through every chapter Daniel, carefully explaining the culture, the events of the time, research and opinions of other experts, and the book’s application for Christians today.

Lennox’s explanation for the arrangement of the book was especially helpful. His insights into the work God was doing in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, especially as compared to His choice of treatment of other gentile rulers in Bible times, revealed much about God’s gracious character, plan for all humankind, and attention to individual lives. Lennox’s analysis of Daniel’s visions and prophecies is useful and hopeful. His comparison of Daniel’s response to the culture he’d been taken into to what our response can be to some of the issues in our own society makes this book especially relevant.

This is the second book by John Lennox that I have read, and I was greatly impressed by both. This author has a gift for seeing and presenting truth clearly. He knows the Bible and the God Who gave it to us. We live in a world full of confusing ideas. Lennox helps his readers sort them out and, firmly, but respectfully—as Daniel did—stand on truth.

I thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

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Because He Said So

When we become parents, we vow we’ll never say it. Our parents said it and drove us crazy. We decide we will not do that to our kids. We’re more patient, more creative, more understanding than that. We determine that our kids won’t hear that phrase coming from our lips.

But then the day comes when they ask for something they can’t have.

We say, “No.”

They say, “Why?”

We patiently explain.

They look at us with big, sad eyes and ask, “But why?”

We try again to explain.

They get frustrated, stomp their feet, and ask again, “But why?”

And before we know what’s happening, those four little words come out of our mouths of their own volition:

“Because I said so.”

And suddenly we understand. Our parents weren’t being impatient, uncreative, or insensitive. They desperately wanted us to understand the why, so we’d accept the disappointing answer and not be unhappy with them, so we’d trust that they were doing their job as parents and choosing the best for us—even when it hurt.

But sometimes, kids, still learning and experiencing and maturing, just cannot understand. That’s why they’re still kids, living under our roofs, dependent on our care. “Because I said so” has to be enough for them. Someday they’ll thank us for it. (We hope.)

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” This is God’s (through Moses) “Because I said so” to the Israelites. They were still relatively new to this whole being-God’s-chosen-people thing and there was much about Him and His plan that they could not understand. Moses assured them that, though God had the right to not tell them everything, He had told them everything they needed to know. He told them Who He Is. He told them what they could expect from Him. He told them what He expected from them. Their job was to obey the law He’d given and to trust Him with the rest.

For. Their. Own. Good.

God maintains His rightGod has revealed so much more of Himself and His plan since that time. Thanks to Jesus, we know things the Israelites couldn’t have imagined. Yet God still maintains the right to keep secret things. We won’t always know why. There’s much we cannot understand. Sometimes Because I said so has to be enough.

But we do know that God loves us and that all His plans for us are good. He has told us Who He Is. He has told us what we can expect from Him and what He expects from us. He has even sent His Spirit to help us in our quest to live His way. Our job is to follow His Son and trust Him with whatever we can’t yet understand.

Better yet, He’s given us His Word. As we study it, His Spirit helps us to grow in wisdom and understanding. Just as our children grow in knowledge, experience, and maturity, so do we. We’ll never understand everything, for only God is God. But as we faithfully study and pray, God will reveal what He wants us to know. Let’s thank Him now instead of waiting until someday.

Father, there is no one like You Who understands all things. Therefore please help us, Your beloved children, to trust You. When Because I said so is the only answer we can handle in our humanity, help us to be thankful for what You have revealed. Help us to follow Your Son’s ways. We’re so thankful to be Your children. Please teach us what we need to know, so our lives will please You. For our good and Your glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Book Review: “A Sparrow in Terezin”

A Sparrow in TerezinA Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron is both a new story and a sequel, contemporary and historical. The contemporary story of William and Sera, including their association with Sophie, is the sequel to what was begun in The Butterfly and the Violin. Arrested at his own wedding, William is facing a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Sera must travel to Europe to learn what he refuses to tell, to find the evidence that will clear his name and a brighter path for their future.

Kaja Makovsky’s story, set in 1942 is new to readers of this book. Sent by her parents from Prague to Palestine and then, through her own efforts, to London at the beginning of World War II, Kaja is desperate for news of her parents’ fate. When she learns through her job of atrocities being committed against Jews, she returns home intending to rescue her parents, only to be caught up in the horror herself.

As in the first book of this Hidden Masterpiece series, the stories are tied together by artifacts present in both. The peril of the characters is intense, leading readers to wonder if all hope is lost. A Sparrow in TerezinYet there is beauty and grace in the midst of it all. I found so much to love about this book in spite of its tragic setting. (And I’d never heard of holocaust ghettos, so I learned something new. Cambron’s note at the end of the book about the historical discoveries she’d made through her research that led to the creation of this book were enlightening.)

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of A Sparrow in Terezin for my honest review. I would rate it among the best of historical Christian fiction available now.

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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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Surprising Lessons from the Mighty Bay Leaf

Bay LeavesI tried a new recipe today. I made my very own red beans and rice from scratch. Well, according to the recipe, they were Jessica’s Red Beans and Rice, but I made a few adjustments—such as leaving the jalapenos out and cutting the amount of red pepper flakes in half. Trust me, there was plenty of heat without that extra bit!

As I was nearing the end of the cooking time, I saw the bay leaf sitting on top and pulled it out to discard just as the recipe told me to do. I looked at it for moment and couldn’t help but wonder if adding one little leaf to a recipe for such a short time could really make a difference. I asked my Facebook friends.

Wow! I had no idea people felt so strongly about the bay leaf! My friends quickly spoke up in its defense. I promised never to question its power again.

Along with his defense of it, my brother made a helpful suggestion, though. He told me to boil a bay leaf in water then smell it and taste it, so I’d know just what flavor I was adding to my recipes. I tried it! I think I understand now why I’m not a big fan of Italian food—that’s the taste I don’t care for. But I can see it adding something worthwhile to beef stew.

My friends were absolutely right! The bay leaf is a powerful addition—even after you pull it out and throw it away. And my brother’s suggestion will help me to use this power with wise discrimination. I may get a handle on this cooking thing yet.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like that little bay leaf. I wonder if my presence is really making any difference in this great, big world chock full of amazing people. Would anybody notice if I disappeared? Would the aroma of my life linger? Does it make a difference now?

The answers to those questions, though, if I’m trusting God, I don’t need to know. God has already told me everything I need to know about the significance of my life. I know God loves me. I know He created me with purpose—whether I recognize it or not. I know He placed me here—right here, right now, intentionally, knowing exactly what He was adding to this world and the impact my life would make.

Lavender PansyHe did the same for you! Knowing what we know, we can trust that since God chose to add our lives to this world’s mix that He did so with purpose. (Kind of like I can now add bay leaves with purpose—or choose to leave them out. Regarding bay leaves, I know what I’m doing now. God has always known what He’s doing regarding each of us!)

There’s one more factor to consider, though. The bay leaf won’t release its flavor alone. It needs the heat from the water or soup or sauce or stew. Likewise, we can’t be the people God planned for us to be without Jesus. His sacrifice, the one we especially consider today, provides redemption from sin and makes it possible for us to live for Him. When we choose to accept Him as our Lord, to gratefully accept His sacrifice on our behalf, He begins to transform us into the people He always planned for us to be. Best of all, He invites us to get to know Him right now, to grow closer to Him every day—probably the greatest purpose and privilege we can enjoy. As we live in submission to Him, what our lives add to this world turns out to be just what the recipe needs.

Jesus, thank You again for all You have done and are doing for us. We don’t deserve any of it, but You gave Your life—and now You offer Your life that we can seek You and find You and get to know You better each day. You have blessed us greatly! We thank You. We adore You. We’re Yours, Lord. Amen.