Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Prayer

We Know About Green Spaces, But What About Blue Spaces?

We hear a lot about green spaces and how we all need time to view the open land, touch the trees and enjoy the air quality they create for us. But how many of us value blue spaces?

 

Blue spaces are areas near water such as lakes, oceans and fresh water streams. These too are all associated with a better well-being, less stress and relaxation.

 

I recently read about a current study in which it was discovered that those who lived less than half a mile from a coast were less likely to suffer from “common mental disorder” like anxiety and depression. Interesting, but what’s the point?

 

This study leads me to one of my favorite scriptures in the New Testament. It’s found in Matthew chapter 13, verse one, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.”

 

There’s something about water, the sounds, the fresh or ocean air that surrounds it. Jesus had a spot, a blue spot to commune with His Father and to consider His day ahead of Him.  Apparently, just taking time to be, was important to His well-being also. Eventually the crowds found Him so He entered a boat and taught them while the people stood on the shore listening.

 

Do you have a favorite blue spot? If not, perhaps you want to find one and enjoy some time to commune with your Father just like Jesus did.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Prayer

For the Love of Rocks

I accomplished all of my own landscaping, by trial and error, but it is something I enjoy. While landscaping, I used rocks–lots of rocks. I outlined specific landscaped areas, made steps, created a retaining wall, built a sidewalk and even a bench seat all out of local, beautiful and from small to large rocks.

 

Finding all of those rocks was no easy task. They came from barn foundations and walls. Most of them were hand hewn and some had holes drilled right through them for one purpose or another. I would often pause and think about how many hands touched this certain rock, what quarry it originated from and was its natural beauty noticed for a century or more before I obtained it?

 

Recently in accomplishing yet another landcaping project at my home, I was once again in need of a few rocks. This time I had no idea how to find the particular color I needed. I voiced a request on social media and had an immediate response. I was told about a young stone mason who collected rocks, tons and tons of rocks.

 

I called him and we arranged a time to meet. This young man loved rocks more than me. He had dump truck loads spread over acres of ground. He had gray, brown, red, tan, black and even white rocks. I never saw so many rocks in one location. And when he heard of my love for these precious stones he couldn’t stop talking about them and then showing me his many, many accumulations. He knew the origination of each pile of rocks collected and he was excited about sharing a rock commonality. He even wanted to give me the few rocks I needed.

 

How is it that God cared enough to show me the way to some rock piles? Or did He so care about this young man that I was destined to meet, build a repore with him in order to share about faith? Not sure.

 

Matthew 6 tells us to not worry about food or clothes (or in this case, rocks). He feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the field. He tells us to seek Him first because He knows where all the rock piles are located.

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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

The Importance of This Time in Our Lives

There is always something to learn in life about ourselves or about others in both good and bad times. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time and a season for everything.  (See Ecclesiastes 3:1.) Here are a few of my observations and reminders from this amazing, but challrenging season.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Prayer

The Unmistakable Comfort of Psalm 91

So many have found Psalm 91 to bring great comfort, strength, truth and spiritual reality to us during this unique time. Personally, I have been praying through it every morning for my loved ones and the many others I am responsible for. One morning I felt prompted to look up one of the words in the dictionary for greater clarity and then became intrigued with so many of the other words found in this amazing Psalm. I ended up with a very amplified version and decided to share it with you below. I hope it is of great comfort, help and support to you as it is to me when praying these beautifully written words.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Parents, Prayer

7 Healthy Responses to the Coronavirus

I love Psalm 91; it is so full of good news.  With all of the change the whole world is facing today, God’s word and His promises do not change and it is good to remind ourselves of this fact.  If you haven’t read this Psalm recently, please do and consider reading it daily as recommended in point number one below.  Its truth is so encouraging in this hour.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Prayer

Do You Have a Dream(s) for 2020?

Joseph was just a teenager of 17.  He received two significant dreams that he foolishly, and in a bit of arrogance, shared with his family.  Of course, if you know the story, his brothers hated him for the content of those dreams and for expressing them.  (Genesis 37:1-11)

 

It would be another 20 or so years until those dreams became reality.  During those years he experienced some really low periods, like jail time in a king’s dungeon for a false accusation.  But Joseph held onto his dreams from God.

 

A dream is a direction that you feel led toward from your spirit, not your head.  It typically incorporates your personal bent and gifts.  When God sparks a dream in your heart, it’s difficult to let it go. I have experienced many dreams/visions fulfilled over my 65 years.  As I look back, I am in awe of what my heavenly Father has brought about.  That said, I also believe there are still many more dreams to be fulfilled. It takes a dream, a vision from the Lord to move you on.

 

It’s not that we’re discontent, for if we are, we’ll most likely remain where we’re presently at for some time. Dreams are from God about what’s next, what He’s preparing you for and that means you need to finish what you’re doing.  We need to complete it well, with integrity and no burned bridges.  There is something about completing a vision or taking it as far as God desires you to.  We must find contentment in what our Father has given our hands to do.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  (I Timothy 6:6)

 

Author Steve Addison wrote, “Discontent without vision leads to cynicism, but a dream without action is a fantasy.”

 

God downloads a life-giving dream into your spirit, you begin to consciously see it and either meditate on what the Father is saying or begin excusing why the thought couldn’t be God and dismiss it. If we have our eyes on his present circumstances only, we’ll feel as though Joseph missed God or God missed Joseph.  Not so. Life was happening to Joseph, but all for a reason.

 

God was wasting nothing.  His plan was coming about.  In Genesis 45 we see that Joseph’s heart was broken as his brothers knelt before him and he sobbed uncontrollably. Did he miss his brothers?  Yes.  Did he miss his father?  Yes.  But perhaps that is not why he was crying.  Maybe, just maybe, he was crying because the dream he had as a child was being fulfilled, before his very own eyes.  Nothing was amiss or awry.  God did not mess up or forget one single detail. All those years of suffering now melted away with purpose and fulfillment.  All those years of not knowing about his homeland or his family while in Egypt, are now history with the exuberance of a fulfilled dream taking place before him.

 

Do you have a dream?  Is there something inside of you?  Is there something you are passionate about to pursue?  If not, ask God for a dream, a vision from Him. Give your dreams a place in your prayer life.  Write down what you hear your Father speak to you and write down the answers He reveals.  As Habakkuk 2:2 says – “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”

 

We have a brand-new year ahead of us – 2020.  Maybe you gave up on a dream or thought it too lofty;  consider re-digging those wells.  Give thanks for the many fulfilled dreams in your life and expect, anticipate many more. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)

 

Dream on!

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

Did Your Candidates Get Elected? Here Are 7 Ways to Follow-Up

With this election behind us, both winners and losers now face a certain reality.  My wife, an elected poll official, said her polling place was busy all day and evening.  This is not the norm for interim elections, but certainly good to see an interest among constituents.

 

You’ve had to listen to all the political rhetoric before the election and we’re hoping it doesn’t follow the election so we can get on with our lives, so to speak. For those elected, to get to work representing those who elected them and those who did not.  But, what can we do now for those who are elected?  How can we serve them as godly persons?

 

We can pray!  I would like to share a few guidelines for prayer for the newly elected and the ones remaining in political office.  The scriptures admonish us to pray for these persons and we desire to obey that word so clearly spoken.  That means, even if the elected official is not one whom you voted for, you are still admonished to pray for them.

 

Specifically, what can we pray that also aligns with God’s word?

 

  1. Pray for a revelation of the love of God. Knowing God’s love and responding to that love affects every aspect of personal and public life. (Romans 5:5, 8; I John 4:9, 10)
  2. Pray for a revelation of God’s truth. It is the word of God and the Ten Commandments that initially created our foundation for law.  Pray that this same Word is seen as truth as it was with our forefathers. (Proverbs 30:5; Hebrews 4:12)
  3. Pray for a revelation that all humanity is of value and created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27; John 3:16, 17)
  4. Pray for a revelation of life – life in the womb and life at every stage of life. (Psalm 139: 13-16; Jeremiah 1:4, 5; Isaiah 44:2)
  5. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and humility with high moral character and integrity to lead this nation. (Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 10:9; 11:3; Isaiah 66:2)
  6. Pray for a revelation of the fear of God; it is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10)
  7. Pray for a heart that seeks after God and desires His will and not their own. (Matthew 6:10; Hebrews 10:9)
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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Leadership, Prayer

Election Day: A Few Political Core Values to Consider

As we approach election day here in the USA on November 5, I thought I would pass along to you some really healthy and sound advice/political values from Kris Vallotton.  Kris is a well-known author and pastoral staff member at Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  I think what he writes is worth considering and sharing.  But first, let me share some of the best advice from God’s word found in I Timothy 2:1-10 from The Passion version.

 

1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

4-7 He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out. This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth.

8-10 Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.

From Kris:

  • I can deeply love people in whom I strongly disagree with. I refuse to demonize any politician who is made in the image of God.
  • I have enemies and Jesus gave me power over them on the cross, but my battle is NOT against flesh and blood.
  • When you call someone by an evil name…you have decided that you know their heart. But, the Apostle Paul said, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?”
  • Associating with, or serving political people, should not be confused with embracing their ideologies. All political offices deserve to be honored according to Romans 13.
  • I am commanded and called to pray for my leaders. If you don’t pray for them, then you don’t have a right to critique their success or failure.
  • My first allegiance is not to a political party but to the kingdom of God.
  • I cannot separate my spiritual views from my political views because the government of this world is being affected and infected by the invisible realm.
  • Great government doesn’t take away the right of people to sin. That’s sharia law.  It does however, protect people from sinning against others and teaching people to do so.
  • It’s not the responsibility of government to Christianize the world. That’s the church’s job.  Jesus rules the nations with a rod of iron, but He leads the church with a shepherd’s staff.

Let’s prayerfully walk this election out like our first allegiance is to the kingdom of God and not to a political party.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Prayer, Women

Seven Benefits of Praying Couples

My wife and I have found a place of intimacy that far exceeds any level of intimacy within a marriage through our connecting in prayer.  We have made this a priority for many years and have grown our marriage in numerous ways through the vulnerability of prayer together.  Here are seven benefits that we have identified from praying together.

  1. When we pray, we find agreement with God and with one another. Agreement is far more powerful, life-giving and life changing than disagreement.
  2. Through prayer together we are not so self-focused, but rather, we are focused on God, one another and the needs of those we are praying for.
  3. We are recognizing our need to trust outside ourselves. We are realizing we cannot provide all the needs or answers.  We are humbling ourself to say, we need God.  Prayer reminds us and our family that God IS our source.
  4. Prayer helps us to grow in grace and patience. We learn to wait on God.  We also learn to confess our needs, brokenness and vulnerability. We, before God, recognize our need for forgiveness.
  5. We communicate our life issues when we pray and that helps us to hear out loud those needs. We pray what is on our heart and when we hear one another’s heart, we know what deeply touches us and concerns us.
  6. Prayer changes us as we learn to listen to God. It changes us financially, emotionally, mentally and sexually.  In all ways we are changed as we reach out to and then hear God’s still small voice.  Our hearts and our minds are transformed through prayer and we experience a greater level of oneness.
  7. Praying together increases our intimacy. As intimacy increases our trust levels increase and as our trust levels increase, our strength and bond together grows stronger.

Helping you to start your prayer trek

  • Purchase a devotional book, read and then pray.
  • Take turns praying/reading.
  • Start small or brief and grow your time.
  • Find a specific focus and pray.
  • Walk your neighborhood and pray.

  • Pray together with your children teaching them to pray.
  • Pray in the car when there is a lull in the conversation.
  • Pray when one of you or your children are not feeling well.
  • Pray with thanksgiving to God repeatedly.
  • Bless one another in prayer.  Bless one another’s day, workplace, etc.
  • Ask your spouse how you can pray for them.
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Challenge, Encouragement, Prayer

The House That God Built

Whenever we have a first-time visitor to our home, given the chance, we tell them a story.  I’ll tell you that story too.

 

Mary and I were married for twelve years before we owned our own home.  To be perfectly honest, while serving in missions, we didn’t think we’d ever own a home and we really weren’t concerned about it.

 

We had just moved back to our home area after serving in missions for eight years.  We left the work that we were doing out of obedience to God to start a new child welfare agency.  We rented a small apartment from my in-laws and were quite happy there.  In time, we began looking for real estate only to be told by the bank that without any savings and a better paying job, we could not secure a loan.  We really frustrated real estate agents because what we thought God had for us was always different from what they were showing us.

 

Then one morning in my devotional time, God highlighted this verse out of I Chronicles, “I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you.”  That was it.  That was all we needed.  We began to proclaim and to speak the Lord’s favor; we would have a house and God would be the builder.

 

One day an older friend of my wife came to visit us.  She announced she was selling her farm located just a mile from where our apartment was.  She looked directly at us and said these words, “I want you to go out to the farm and see where you would like to build a house.”  We were shocked…speechless.  Wondering how much this lot would cost us she then said, “It is going to be a tithe of my farm; it’s yours free and clear.”  She left and missed seeing Mary and I dancing around our kitchen, shouting loudly in thanksgiving to our Provider.

 

With the commitment of a very dear friend, he and I built that house from foundation up, nailing every stud, pulling every wire, plumbing and painting.  Now almost 32 years ago, we still tell the story.  We can’t stop telling the story because it’s the house that God built.

 

Even when man (or bank) says it can’t be done…   Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

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