Out for a Walk

“Have you ever taken a walk with a friend? What happens while you walk? Are you both silent, lost in your own thought? Not likely! Most of us talk as fast as we walk when we are out for a stroll with a good friend. We share all kinds of things, our hopes and dreams, our concerns and fears.

The Old Testament contains passages that say, “Enoch walked with God.” “Noah walked with God.” and “Abraham walked with God.”  Can’t you just see those men walking down the dusty road with their hands clasped behind their backs, talking with God as they move along?

Of course, the Bible uses the word walk in a different sense, to mean more than just the physical action of walking one foot in front of the other. It really means to live life on every level with God as your companion. It means to consider God’s instruction and direction in every decision. But I think there is something to the act of physically walking.

In Genesis it says, “God walked in the garden.” He was looking for Adam to walk with Him, but Adam had sinned and was hiding. God wanted Adam’s company. He wanted to talk with Adam as they walked along.

In Deuteronomy 6:7 and again in 11:19 the scripture says we are to talk to our children about the Lord’s ways as we walk along the road. In those days people traveled by foot most of the time and it was a very natural setting to teach God’s principles to their families.

While Jesus was on the earth, He physically walked almost everywhere He went. Once He had a donkey and a few times He went by boat, but mostly He walked from village to village. Can you imagine how much He taught His disciples while they walked?

Now for us, while I’m sure God knows walking is good for our health and He’s glad that we do it, He’s thinking more about the opportunity for conversation; the companionship we feel with a friend when we’re out for a walk on a lovely day. He wants us to invite Him along; he wants to talk with us and He wants us to share with Him those things we share so easily with a friend.

Listen closely, don’t you hear your Father saying, “Come on, let’s go for a walk?”

“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (CSB)

 

 

Keeping up with the Traffic

When I was a girl I remember hearing a story about my grandfather’s driving habits. He worked hard all of his life and one day he bought the car of his dreams. A brand new Cadillac. After he retired, he moved to Florida but continued to make trips back to Ohio at least once a year. Driving a car with that much power would tempt anyone to drive a little too fast and Grandpa was no exception. On one trip north, he was pulled over by a Georgia State Trooper who had clocked him going 80 in a 55 mph zone. When the officer told him what his speed had been, my Grandpa said he was just keeping up with the traffic.

“Sir,” said the officer, “no one was passing you!” They both had a laugh, but Grandpa got a ticket anyway. And I’m sorry to say it really didn’t have much impact on his driving! People often justify their actions by comparing themselves to others. With speeding, I’ve even heard people say that it’s safer to keep with the traffic than to drive the speed limit. Whether statistics prove this to be true or not, it’s a dangerous premise to base your actions on.

What if we apply the same theory to other areas of our lives? We can know God’s commands, just like we know the speed limits, but we can choose to ignore them. We use excuses like “everyone else is doing it anyway so what’s the difference?” Like somehow there’s safety in numbers and God won’t notice our sin.

Perhaps we ignore the Sabbath because it’s bad for our business, we can’t let the competition get ahead. Or we ignore God’s command to always tell the truth by saying, “everyone else tells ‘little white lies’ so why does it matter?”

When we compromise what we believe to be true because it makes our lives easier, we are believing a lie. We can be tricked into following man’s principles instead of God’s by allowing ourselves to be led by someone else’s behavior. Like my grandfather, we’re just trying to keep up with the traffic, just going with the flow. It seems harmless.

God has given us the scriptures to guide us and train us for eternity. He tells us clearly, that we will not understand His ways. We have to trust that He is good and that He has set parameters in this life for our benefit.

We need to boldly choose to follow God’s principles and not be influenced by the ways of the world. It’s where we will find God’s blessing.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” – Proverbs 14:12

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Are You a Person of Influence?

What does it mean to be a person of influence?

I recently read an article that listed ten steps in a strategy to becoming a person of influence. Among the suggestions listed were to become more visible on social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Also suggested was writing a blog or e-books and seeking out speaking engagements.

These suggestions might work fine in the business world. But how can you become a person of influence where spiritual matters are concerned? What suggestions might work to influence the world for Christ? How can an average person ever hope to have influence that changes the world for the better?

Farther down the list I found a couple more suggestions. One was to start a movement around something you are passionate about. Well, this one is an easy one. We don’t have to start a movement, we’re already involved in one with firm foundations that began with twelve passionate men who took Jesus at His word and were faithful to share it.

Another useful recommendation said to become a subject matter expert. In the business world, that means to learn all you can about the subject you care about. Isn’t that what we’re called to do with the gospel? The purpose of God’s Word is to make us experts on the subject of His gift to humanity. We’re called to learn all we can about Jesus and His kingdom.

Finally, it was suggested we become super connectors. The article went on to explain that there is always someone we can introduce our friends and colleagues to in order to create a greater network. Business people are always looking for new contacts that will advance their business. This is a suggestion that rings true to the believer. We were created and commissioned to be super connectors! What better goal in life than to connect all of our friends to the one person who matters most to us? Jesus is waiting to be introduced to everyone you know.

What does it require to become a person of influence where Christ is concerned? Become a follower of Jesus, learn all you can about His plan and purpose by reading His Word and then determine to look for every opportunity to connect everyone you know to the One who already knows them by name.

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'”Matthew 16:24

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”2 Timothy 3:16

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 

Are You Peculiar?








IMG_8187

If you asked most people to define the word “peculiar” you would get some variation of this: “something or someone who is odd, strange, unusual or weird.” Most people would not appreciate being called peculiar. It definitely has a negative connotation in our current culture.

But looking at the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, I find the following:

Peculiar – One’s own; belonging solely or especially to an individual; not possessed by others; of private, personal, or characteristic possession and use; particular; individual; special; appropriate.

Our modern culture has shifted this word, peculiar, to mean something to be avoided or kept at a distance. No one wants to be called peculiar. They don’t wish to appear odd or strange. Most people would rather blend in and be inconspicuous.

But in the King James version of 1 Peter 2:9 we read, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This doesn’t mean strange or weird, it means they belong to God. Peculiar comes from the Latin word peculium which means “private property.”

We are a peculiar people! We belong to God. We are His and no one else’s. He claims us as His own. And maybe to the world that looks strange or weird. If belonging to God makes me seem strange to the world, so be it!

If following after Christ means you stick out and look different than the world, is that okay with you? How peculiar are you willing to be? Will you stand firmly on the fact that you have been chosen by God, no matter how that looks to the world?

What’s In a Name?








“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Those are Shakespeare’s words. Actually Juliet said them. Would a rose smell as sweet if it were called something else? Say, a skunk cabbage or a stinking corpse lily? It’s hard to imagine.

Have you ever thought about the importance of names? People pay a lot of attention to names. Just look at Hollywood. Would a movie starring Archibald Alexander Leach and Doris Kappelhof have been as successful as one starring Cary Grant and Doris Day? And somehow a gun fighter played by Marion Michael Morrison wouldn’t seem as threatening as one played by John Wayne. Maybe it’s a good thing they changed their names!

Speaking of name changing, there are many examples in the Bible where God or someone else changed a person’s name. Frequently it was to signify a change of heart or a redirection in his or her life. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. God chose those names to call Abraham and Sarah into a new direction as parents of a new nation. Naomi changed her own name to Mara to describe how bitter her life had become. Simon became Peter, the rock on which God would build his church. All of these are quite significant events.

Another significant event is marriage. The tradition of most English-speaking countries has been for the woman to take her husband’s name when she marries. There is no real proof as to why this tradition began, but there is speculation that it was similar to the name changes in the Bible. A new bride has had a redirection in life. She is now one with her husband and shares his name. It is definitely a change of heart when two become one and the name change is one way to acknowledge its importance.

Biblical names had great significance. The meanings of many names turned out to be prophetic in nature. Many Christian families today take seriously the naming of their children and seek God’s direction before deciding on what name they will give each child.

There is definitely power in names. But there is one name which is above every name. One name that all of creation must bow to. One name that has the ultimate power.

Jesus.

Call upon His name when you feel stressed, when you need comfort, when you need power. Call upon His name when you are discouraged, when you are sad, when you are afraid. He is there and the power of His name is available to you in every situation.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Philippians 2:8-10 (NASB)

Jesus Laughed

Sometimes I think we take life too seriously. I know I do. I get caught up in the pressures of my to-do list or the decisions I need to make. I think “if I can just get this or that done then I can relax.” I always seem to be waiting for one more thing to be resolved before I can set it all aside and rest for a while.


Jesus had an incredibly intense life at times, yet he was able to get away from the crowds and the demands and rest. He was able to spend time just hanging out with the disciples. Do you suppose they sat around the fire in the evening and talked about life? Can you picture them telling stories about things that happened to each of them? How about a funny story from Peter about a mess he got himself into? And at the punch line did Jesus laugh? I bet he did. He was able to focus on enjoying the moments in His life that were special. He knew He had a lot of difficult things to deal with, but I don’t believe He constantly thought about those things. I think He allowed himself to love life with His friends.


We can always use the excuse that there are too many important things to attend to at the moment. We can convince ourselves that life it too difficult just now to be able to relax and just have a good laugh. We can tell ourselves that it would be irresponsible to set those challenges aside for a time to just enjoy the life God has given us. But if we do, we will miss some of the most treasured moments of life.


Everyone knows that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” That verse shows that He had emotions like we do. He wanted to show us that we could have compassion on others. I think He also would tell us that it’s okay to enjoy life and talk and laugh together. I wish there was a verse that said, “Jesus laughed!” I believe He did and that He still does in Heaven. When I get there, I can’t wait to hear Jesus laugh. I’ll bet He has a great laugh!


A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22(ESV)

Bad Behavior, Gauges, and Jesus








Wouldn’t it be great if we all walked around with little gauges over our heads. You know, like the lighbulb in comic strips?  It could be like the temperature gauge in a car only the C would be for calm and content and the H would be for hurting and life is HARD.

That way, when we had difficult encounters with people we could see that there are reasons behind their behavior.  If that guy who just cut you off in traffic had the needle on his gauge pointing clearly toward the H because he is on his way to the hospital hoping to get there in time to say goodbye to his father we might be more forgiving.

Or maybe the woman who was rude to the cashier, her gauge read H because she just lost her job.

And the young girl who rear-ended you at the traffic light because she was distracted. Not by her phone but because she’s pregnant and her father threw her out of the house this morning.

If we all had gauges we would be more patient with each other. When we saw that needle tipping toward the H we would offer hope instead of judgment. We would encourage instead of condemn.

But we don’t have gauges or any way to know what someone else is facing today. Perhaps if we could realize that we ALL are on H at times we could begin to offer understanding and patience. It’s what Jesus did.

It’s what He still does.

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:1-4 (NASB)

What Are You Afraid of?








Fear: “A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.” – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

So, what are you afraid of? If we asked people to list what they fear their lists might include, death, poverty, sickness…but perhaps things like public speaking, other’s opinions, failure, and rejection might also appear.

If we use Webster’s definition of fear, the expectation of evil or danger, we would have to revise our list.  What actual evil  threatens a person who fails, or who must speak in public? What danger presents itself in other’s opinions?

What if we revised our list to only include those things that truly brought the risk of danger? Let’s take a closer look.

Do you fear death? John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Do you fear poverty? Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Do you fear for your safety? Psalm27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” 

And just in case we forgot a few, God has already covered those too.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (ESV)

There will be times when we are afraid but David tells us the simple remedy.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (ESV)

So again I ask, what are you afraid of?

 

 

 

Are Your Prayers Getting Through?








If you have a cell phone you are probably familiar with “dead spots.” Places in your house or in other buildings where you don’t get a good signal. Places where you might be talking and suddenly the call is dropped for no apparent reason.

We might experience the same sort of thing with prayer. You might have heard the expression “I feel like my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.” Why do we get that feeling and how can we get rid of it?

Scripture tells us many reasons why it seems our prayers aren’t being heard.

We pray with wrong motives: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)

We pray without faith:  “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22)

We pray while we still have sin in our lives: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

If we want the Lord to hear and answer our prayers we must pray the way He requires us to.  We may try to blame our unanswered prayers on God or even on the devil but the biggest hinderance to answered prayers is us. WE are the ones who have to examine our hearts and our lives to remove the things that are blocking our prayers. It’s God’s desire to answer us!

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7(ESV)

Do You Trust Someone You Don’t Know?








First impressions aren’t always positive. Sometimes you can meet a person and be uncomfortable without knowing why. You wouldn’t trust them to watch your children or to enter your house when you are away. But then you spend more time with them and realize they are trustworthy. You can now leave them with your child and your house key without a second thought. They are the ones you can call in an emergency and know they will be there for you. They’ve become friends.

When we moved from Ohio to Iowa many years ago, we had to start fresh in a new place. The friends we’d left behind were people we trusted completely because we knew them well. It took time to build new relationships. We spent time with acquaintances and eventually embraced them as lifelong friends. We did the same thing when we moved to Florida a few years ago. Now we are making new friends again. Learning to trust people to come into our lives.

How does that happen? How to you learn to trust someone? The key is spending time with them. Getting to know them. Watching the way they live their lives to see if their “walk” is consistent with their “talk.”

It’s the same with God. He wants you to trust Him completely. But how can you trust Him if you barely know Him? If you haven’t spent time with Him, how do you know that He will be faithful to His promises? If you haven’t spent time in His word, learning about His character, how can you expect to believe He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?

The best way to learn to trust Him is to get to know Him. Then you will be able to trust Him with your child, your house key, and your very life.

Paul says it well in 2 Timothy 1:12:

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (NASB)