We all have a story

We all have a story

I am reposting an entry I wrote last summer after returning from Ethiopia. This entry reminds me of one of the reasons I am returning in a few weeks— anytime we share about God’s love to another, or anytime we love another through acts of kindness and goodness, we are contributing to God’s story in that person’s life. God does not need us to accomplish His purposes, after all He is God, but He has given us the blessing to be used as a witness of His love. This specific blessing is a privilege and an honor, and is indeed humbling. 

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Fighting the "ites" little by little

Fighting the "ites" little by little

When I was studying the Old Testament to write my devotional, HIStory in 30 Days, I often came across lists of names that end with “ite”. Seven of these “ites” are identified as the enemies of Israel that happened to reside in the Promised Land—Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites. (“Ite” simply means “people of.)  After God rescued the Israelites from slavery, they were to travel and take the land in possession of these people groups. They were commanded to destroy them completely. (Deuteronomy 7:1-2.) A cursory reading of the Bible might lead one to conclude that this was unkind of God, but the Bible and other historical accounts confirm that these pagan nations were evil and committed horrible atrocities including child sacrifice. God wanted the Israelites to get rid of these enemies so they could reap the full benefits of the Promised Land. It was a command born out of His Mercy. The same is true today for us, but in a spiritual sense. While many promises of God are available to us such as peace and joy, we also need to battle the “ites” in our lives. What are mine?

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The Pursuit

The Pursuit

Recently I was reflecting on my early days as a legal intern. The firm I worked for took on a significant amount of divorce work, and occasionally they assigned me to serve legal process in a divorce action. Because I had an unassuming “look,” my firm presumed that I could easily bypass any hurdles in order to access an office, get by a receptionist and ultimately, to hand official papers to an unsuspecting individual. Most often, their strategy was successful. I was desperate for the job, as I was paying my way through law school, so I continued to accept the assignments. It was a horrible job, and I was often terrified that a husband would take his anger out on me, the messenger! Fortunately, that never happened, but I did experience other fearful incidents.

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The imagery of the light at the end of the tunnel is very powerful for me—I am claustrophobic, and therefore, hate tunnels! Over the years of living in Northern Virginia, I have had to drive to New York City on many occasions, and sometimes alone. This requires going both there and back through the Baltimore Tunnel as well as the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel. Fortunately, my phobia has not prevented me from making the trips, but that doesn’t mean the journeys are without anxiety or fear. To minimize my stress, I plan the timing of my trips to avoid heavily trafficked times. And then most importantly, whether I am a passenger or the driver, I pray without ceasing! My eyes are ahead, longing for the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Why am I still surprised when God answers my prayers?

Why am I still surprised when God answers my prayers?

For the past several months my husband and I had been praying faithfully about a certain situation and upcoming event. Finally, the day came, and we saw God answer our prayers in exactly the manner for which we prayed. I should have been elated! But, instead, my dominant emotion was one of surprise. I hadn’t expected God to act so precisely, nor was I then prepared with what would follow—the responsibility to do my part in God’s plan. I panicked, and, if I am totally honest, I questioned God’s timing. Really?

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If you have lemons make lemonade. If you have corn make...

If you have lemons make lemonade. If you have corn make...

This past weekend I was having family over for a barbecue. I was pressed for time, so I ordered my groceries online from Instacart. I noticed while checking out that the price was a bit higher than I had expected, but I knew I had a substantial order—burgers, cheese, rolls, tomatoes, corn on the cob, etc., so I didn’t check over the list closely. I quickly pressed “Submit Order.”

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Do we live a devoted life?

Do we live a devoted life?

This past year I have gotten to know Jeena Thomas, a wonderful young woman who attends the women’s Bible study at which I teach. While she is young enough to be my daughter, we have developed a special connection to each other, particularly because we have several things in common— we will both be returning to Ethiopia this summer to continue work with the orphans we met last year, and we both love Jesus and God’s Word! On several occasions she has sent me her thoughts about different passages of Scripture that we have been studying. I have loved her fresh and honest insights. She is my guest blogger this week, and what follows are some of her recent reflections that I asked her to share. They spoke to me, and I pray they challenge you as well.

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More than a fan

More than a fan

The other night my husband and I went to Nationals Park to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Washington Nationals. My husband has been an avid Cardinals fan since childhood, and after meeting him 37 years ago, I have become one as well. (I think this was a precondition of our marriage!) The game was close—3 to 2 in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Cardinals were ahead. As I was looking around before the Nats took the field, I noticed people leaving—not just one or two, but a significant number. “Why did they even bother coming to the game,” I asked my husband.

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Let me introduce you to Someone I know

Let me introduce you to Someone I know

As Easter approaches, I find myself reviewing in my mind the reasons I have come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I want to be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks what Easter is about (1 Peter 3:15). And as I have shared before, I know there is evidence to support my faith—the many prophecies Jesus fulfilled by His birth, His ministry, His trials and death, as well as the evidence of His Resurrection—the many eyewitnesses including women, the empty tomb, and the changed lives of His disciples. All of these evidences help us to see Jesus for who He is—the divine Son of God. But Jesus also wants us to know Him in a much deeper way.

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But we were created with a brain!

But we were created with a brain!

“The Oxford dictionary defines faith as “1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something 2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”

The first definition seems benign enough. But I couldn’t disagree more with the second definition, that implies faith must be blind. My faith, is absolutely based on proof and evidence.

The Bible, on the other hand, defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1).  How do we have assurance, and how do we have conviction of things unseen, unless there is evidence to support our confidence?  

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"I AM praying for them."

"I AM praying for them."

Have you ever sent out a request for prayer by email, text or Facebook and wondered if the recipient prayed in return? Sadly, numerous times in my life, I have neglected to pray when asked. (I have now gotten into the practice of praying immediately upon receipt of requests— I do not trust my aging memory!) Perhaps my own forgetfulness is one of the reasons I have found comfort in the knowledge that Jesus has prayed and continues to pray for me. He never forgets.

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The Elegance of Faith

The Elegance of Faith

Recently I reached out to a young woman—I had the blessing to walk alongside her during her journey of coming to faith in Jesus several years ago. She came to mind because I am in the process of preparing a talk for a women’s gathering titled, “Blind Faith to Confident Hope,” and I was curious if there were any answers that were especially meaningful to her at the time.

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Who is my King?

Who is my King?

Jesus came to us to be our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Of all the ministries filled by Jesus, this is probably the one we think about the least. Why? Is our avoidance due to our impressions of flawed human kings of history and this world—who have often been despotic in their rule, or the other extreme, mere figureheads? But when Jesus mounted a donkey to enter into Jerusalem six days before His Crucifixion He was pronouncing Himself King. Before any of us reject the Kingship of Jesus perhaps we should consider the many differences between His Kingship and that of the world’s kings:

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Waiting for a good purpose!

Waiting for a good purpose!

A first reading of this verse forces us to ask the question: If Jesus loved them, why would He have waited two days before He went to them? By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. He had suffered the pain and agony of dying. His sisters had cared for him during his illness, and then grieved his death with sorrow and weeping. In the meantime, Jesus had been performing miracle after miracle elsewhere, as signs that He was the Son of God. If He really loved his friends, shouldn’t He have run to heal Lazarus? Shouldn’t He have spared them of this suffering and grief?

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God is Bigger than the Boogie man

God is Bigger than the Boogie man

My children were too old to enjoy Veggie Tales when its series of videos, books and songs came out. But I have had another chance to be entertained by the collection, for even at five-months old, my grandson is captivated by the music of the cartoon vegetables. Now that I have gotten over the ridiculousness of talking and singing vegetables, I have to admit, I find myself singing the songs over and over again in my head.

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I was blind, now I see!

I was blind, now I see!

Last year, I wrote a blog about the man born blind, whose story is recorded in John 9. I have referred to him as the “one thing man.” After Jesus healed him, the religious leaders of the day interrogated him. They tried to discredit what had happened to him in an attempt to discredit Jesus as well. First, some claimed that he wasn’t the same man. When that was verified, they tried to prove that he had not been born blind. Finally, they attacked Jesus, claiming He had violated the Law by healing the man on the Sabbath. Each time the man was interrogated he reiterated the facts surrounding his healing. To him, how Jesus had done what he had done was irrelevant. What mattered was simple: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

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This new year, I resolve...

This new year, I resolve...

The new year is a time for resolutions. We resolve to get physically fit—to exercise, and to lose weight. We resolve to become spiritually fit—to return to a church community, to restore a daily devotion, or to pray more regularly. And for some, resolutions are made to search for life’s meaning and purpose— to search for answers to some of life’s difficult questions:

 Why does God allow suffering?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

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