Leaving It All Behind

It’s just stuff. It can be replaced.

I’m in my 11th consecutive year of reading the entire Bible and I realized I have a whole new perspective this year on the story in Genesis of Lot and his family fleeing from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah before God rained fire down from heaven, destroying everything. They were told not to look back as they left but Lot’s wife didn’t listen and she turned into a pillar of salt as she turned back to look at her home and all of her stuff.

This is a great lesson on what is really important.

I live in the Denver area where thousands of people just had this same experience. The Marshall Fire started right in the center of a very populated area and the winds were 100 mph and higher. The fire grew fast and furiously, burning up everything in it’s path. Thousands of people were quickly evacuated from their homes taking their families with them but leaving everything else behind.

My daughter’s house was initially in the path of the fire if it kept going in the direction it was going. So she and her husband packed up their 2 small children, their dog, their computers, their safe with important documents and 2 small suitcases with clothes and precious toys and came to my house. They left everything else behind not knowing if anything would still be there after the fire was contained.

We all got into bed that night wondering what the morning would bring.

During the night God answered our prayers and calmed the winds giving the fire fighters a chance to get a head of the fire. The next morning my daughter and her husband were able to pack up their family and go back home because it was no longer in danger.

But thousands of people went back to their neighborhoods to find everything burned. Nothing was left untouched by the fire. In every interview I saw on TV, people were sad about losing their ‘stuff’ but very happy that their family was safe.

What a great lesson for all of us about what is really important.

It’s just stuff.

The Unknowns

It has been hard in the past to make decisions about next steps when I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.  There have been times in my life when the ‘unknowns’ created a lot of anxiety and fear.

I love reading about Abram’s (soon to be Abraham) decision-making in Genesis.  First, God tells Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”  Genesis 12:1. 

No forwarding address on that one.  Just go.  I’ll tell you when to stop.

And the Bible tells us in verse 4, “So Abram went.” Wow! Abram is a good role-model here for how much he trusted God.

This is my 11th year of reading the entire Bible and it is comforting to realize how much my faith and trust in God has grown as I’ve read and applied God’s word to my life. I experienced something  similar to Abram’s 2 years ago when God told me to move from Phoenix to Denver.  What?  I had been living in Phoenix for over 40 years and had never once thought about moving to Denver even though my daughter and her family were now living there. 

I prayed about it overnight and knew that I needed to do what God was asking me to do.  I have learned from experience that the only way I can expect God’s blessings in my life is to be obedient.

Then I shared what God was saying with my husband who prayed about it and the next day he said, “We need to go.”  He has also learned the importance of obedience. 

We heard and we went.

We put our house in Phoenix up for sale and I heard God telling me not to buy a house in Denver until we actually moved.  So we moved while our house was under contract and arrived in Denver on March 17, 2020 – just as everything was shutting down because of the pandemic. 

We know you’ve got this, Father God.

We were ‘homeless’ during the weeks of being sheltered in.  The first house we looked at in Denver was the right size and the right price and the right place and God said ‘yes’ so we bought it – getting a great deal on it since a lot of people were backing away from buying houses because of the uncertainty.

We knew you had something good waiting for us, Father.

These last 2 years, I have continually seen God’s hand on our lives.  There have been many situations – one after another – where I know God moved us to Denver ‘for such a time as this’.  He had a purpose for bringing us to this new city and he had blessings lined up if we would obey.

I have discovered that it’s not so hard anymore making decisions when I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.  God knows and I trust him.  I don’t experience the anxiety or fear I used to have because I know God is in control and he is working it all out for my good.  I just need to listen and do what he says.

Thank you for taking away my fear of the unknowns, Abba Father.

Two People = One

Dating is fun.

Being engaged is exciting.

Weddings are a great big party that celebrates love and commitment.

Marriage is tough.  Good…..but tough.  Worth it…..but not easy.

I’ve been married to the same man for over 40 years.  So I know how tough marriage is.  And he knows  how tough marriage  is.  In order to stay married, we have had to work through it all.  And stuff just keeps coming at us.

Every year, as I begin reading through the Bible again, I pause when I read Genesis 3:20, “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”

Adam named his wife Eve after they had both lived in the Garden of Eden with God for who knows how long.  This was after they had eaten the apple and sinned.

Up to this point, they were both called Adam.  Together, they completed the person of Adam.

man+woman = one.

How much would our perspective of marriage change if we sincerely considered ourselves – man and wife – to be one person?  It wouldn’t be, “I’m done dealing with his problems.” or “I’m tired of her behavior – I’m out of here”.

It would be more like “my leg always likes to cramp up” or “my neck is stiff and its driving me crazy”.  When our leg cramps up, we rub it and stretch it.  When our neck is stiff, we massage it and warm it up.  When a physical part of us is having a problem, we work with the issue, figure out how to help it and get help if we need it.  There’s no other option.

VERY different than the ‘throw away’ attitude that many people in our culture have towards marriage today, isn’t it?

Sometimes married people joke about their ‘better half’.  How would our marriages be different if we acted like we believed that?

Please help us honor you with our marriages, Abba Father.

My Ticket to Ride

How close can I get to God?

That’s a great goal, isn’t it?

I’d like to get as close as Enoch.  Enoch was Adam’s great, great, great, great grandson and we read in Genesis that he walked in close fellowship with God.  “Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  Genesis 5:23-24.

Enoch never died.  God just took him home.  I don’t have any control over it, but that’s the way I’d really like to go.  Elijah was the only other person that we know of who God took up to heaven before he died.  Elijah rode a fiery chariot up to heaven.

How cool is that?  How many bonus points does it take to get a ride like that?

God has a huge sense of humor so he knows I’m just kidding.  I was once told that it’s ok to joke around with God and that makes sense to me.  He is always watching us so we might as well make him laugh.

I wonder how many more people have ‘disappeared’ or gotten a chariot ride up to heaven?  It’s a safe bet that we don’t know about them all.  I prefer the chariot ride because I wouldn’t want the people I love who are left behind to have any questions about what happened.

It is obvious that both Enoch and Elijah had a very close relationship with God.  That must be the ticket.  So I’m going to work on my relationship with God knowing he has already determined my last day and what my trip into heaven is going to look like.

But it never hurts to ask, right?

Please put me on the chariot list, Father.

In the Beginning…..

A new page is turned.

New possibilities have opened up.

What’s going to happen?  I don’t know.

For some reason, many of us say that we don’t like change.  But then we generally like new beginnings.  When we make choices that cause our lives to change and we can call it a ‘new beginning’, we’re ok with it?  But we don’t like change?

Yes, we are strange and wonderful creatures.  And I am one of the strange and wonderful creatures who likes change.

Change is good.

I was taught to like change through my over 34 years of working for corporate Jack in the Box.  We were constantly moving and adjusting and changing.  If I didn’t like a specific change, I didn’t have to wait too long for it to change again.  As long as my strategic brain could see us improving – hitting goals and moving forward – I liked it.

This has really helped me keep up with our electronic age where things change so quickly and so often.  I have a goal to stay current on technology.  I don’t have to be at the cutting edge but I plan to stay in the middle somewhere, not behind.

One of the things I love about God is – he doesn’t change.

“In the beginning, God….”(Genesis 1:1)in-the-beginning-genesis

He was here before the beginning and he will be here after the end.

He has promised – it’s a fact.

In our crazy world of unknowns, God wants to be known by you and by me. He gives us his Word.  He gives us his Spirit.  He gives us a spiritual family.

He wants us to know him and he guides us towards himself as we read, listen and respond.

I am extremely interested in discovering the new possibilities God is going to bring my way in 2022.  As I start reading through the Bible again for the 11th year in a row, I am confident that God has new things to teach me and he also wants to highlight other truths that I need to be reminded of.

You are invited to take the journey with me and read the entire Daily Chronological Bible this year.  There are already several of us on this journey together.  I guarantee that God will move in your life in a big way as he honors your commitment to know him and hear him better in 2022.

So, with anticipation and confidence that God has important things to teach me this year, I start again –

In the Beginning, God…..

Thank you for new beginnings, Abba Father.

Not a Good Place

As the final Revelation of God’s Word begins, the Spirit is writing to the 7 churches through John.  The message that reverberates through my mind are his words to the church of Laodicea –

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  Rev. 3: 15 – 16.

The Spirit sounds pretty disgusted with this church.  They were rich and they were acting like they had everything they needed.  But the Spirit calls them pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

And then he offers them the truth – “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.”  Rev 3: 19-20.

 The Spirit tells the church of Laodicea to repent and reminds them that Jesus is always ready to forgive them and redeem them.

Lukewarm is not a good place to be.  Jesus came to earth to save us and transform us into beacons of light in a lost and broken world.  ‘Okay’ is not what we are called to be.  ‘Comfortable’ is not our goal. The Holy Spirit wants to set a fire burning within each of us as we seek to know and love our Abba Father.   As our love for God grows, he transforms our hearts so we can truly start to love other people like he does.

There is a fire burning in my heart.  It burns hotter the closer I get to God.  This fire keeps me passionate about following Jesus on this journey towards the truth.

What’s the temperature of your heart for God?  Is there anything or anyone you care about more than God?  Are you lukewarm?  Or sold out?  

Turn up the heat, dear Father!

 

Great Love!

Do you feel it?

I do.

I see it in the gorgeous sunrise as God once again declares his faithfulness to me with the start of a new day.  I feel it in my 3 year-old granddaughter’s hug.  I see it in the smiles of my friends.  I feel it in the ‘love you’ from my husband of over 40 years.

It’s the great love God has lavished upon me.

God tells me that I am a precious child and he proves that by showing his love for me in a multitude of ways, every day.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.”  1 John 3: 1a

It’s very encouraging to realize that the closer I get to God, the more of his love I feel pouring out over me.  As I’ve been consistently memorizing God’s scripture these last 6 years, I also feel his wisdom pouring out from his Word.  More knowledge.  More understanding.

I am his child!  How much more love and wisdom and knowledge and understanding does he have available for me?

There is no limit!

As 2022 quickly approaches, I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for this next year.  New challenges.  More love.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Surrounded by a Cloud

A huge crowd has gone before me.

They were faithful here on earth and are now receiving their reward in heaven.

My family has had a long history of being people of faith.  My grandparents immigrated to the US from the Netherlands during a time of discontent and division in the Reformed Church.  My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, their parents, their grandparents and on and on make up a big portion of the faithful ones from my family who have gone home before me.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12: 1-2.  Every time is read this, I visualize a big bunch of Dutch people in their wooden shoes cheering me on as I run the race God has set before me. 

For generations, my ancestors have been farmers – both here and in the Netherlands – who planted the seeds but then had to trust God to water them and give them sunshine to grow.  It’s easy to see in farming how God has a direct affect on the success or failure of your crops.  I was raised in a small farming community in Iowa and I will never forget the standing-room-only prayer services we had when the crops needed rain.  There was never any doubt about who was in control.

I know my mother is in the front of my cloud of witnesses in heaven – clapping loudly and yelling encouragements.  She was never a quiet person so I’m sure she’s not quiet in heaven.  My crowd in heaven also contains other Christians who were my role-models here on earth – challenging me, teaching me and loving me.

And, for many of you here on earth, someday I will be in your cloud of witnesses, cheering you on as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus here on earth, running the race each day and looking forward to joining me in our forever home in heaven.

Amen!  Hallelujah!

Making a Plan

It is coming very quickly – 2022.

New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rep because so many of us break them within a day or two of making them.  I’m a goal-oriented person so I like them as long as I limit them to things I REALLY want to do.  I try to stay away from making resolutions that sound good but I’m not really committed to making them happen.

Here’s one that I’m totally committed to continue making happen in 2022 –

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” 2 Peter 3:18.

These are the words Peter uses to close out his second letter.  There are several other things I would like to accomplish in 2022 but I’m not as committed to them as I am to this.  And I have a plan.  Please feel free to join me in any or all of these –

*I’m going to read the entire Bible again – for the 11th year in a row.  I have found that reading the entire revelation of God feeds my soul much more than skipping around in various chapters or verses.  I love the chronological Bible because the natural progression through history makes more sense to me and helps me understand what God is saying.  It’s not a Study Bible because things that are mentioned more than once in the regular Bible are condensed into one spot. The changes in the Chronological Bible make it much easier to read the entire book but I always keep a Study Bible handy if I want to know specifics.

*I’m going to continue to memorize scripture.  My big goal is to memorize the entire book of James.  Yep, all of it.  Yep, it will take years, especially since I don’t have a good memory. It’s a God-sized task and I know he’s up for it.  So far, God has helped me memorize the first and second chapter of James and I’ve begun to work on the 3rd chapter.  He constantly blesses me by speaking to me through these words that he has etched on my heart and mind.

*I have couple of people in my life that I am meeting with and spiritually mentoring. I’m praying that God will open my eyes to anyone else he is bringing into my life who I can walk beside on this journey of growing our faith.

*After moving to a new state during a worldwide pandemic, my husband and I have finally found a new church home that we are excited about. It’s awesome to praise God and give him glory with a spiritual family again! We are figuring out where and how God wants us to serve. We have very recently joined a small group Bible study from our new church and we are excited about growing in our faith with them.

I’m committed to this plan. I know that I need to consistently put myself in God’s presence and he will grow my faith in 2022.

What are your spiritual goals for 2022?

Do you have a plan?

Please help us be intentional in growing our faith, Abba Father.