Category Archives: life

The Jesus Challenge week 1

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Like many other followers of Christ, I often have a hard time applying the actual “following Christ” part. Sure, I live a pretty good life, go to “church” and Bible class 3 times a week, pray and read my Bible, but if I’m honest, there’s more to following Christ than this. That’s why, when I first saw my cousin Danny’s facebook post about the “Jesus Challenge 2013” I was immediately interested.

Simply stated, the Jesus Challenge 2013 is a Facebook group started by Danny to challenge us to ACTUALLY LIVE like Jesus! Every week for 2013, he will post a short passage from the life of Christ along with some brief thoughts, a challenge, and a prayer. The challenge is to help us apply a characteristic that Jesus exhibits. Then you can post your own thoughts, receive encouragement and the like. I LOVE this idea! It’s a very easy way to help you be like Jesus in your daily life!

Last week, I thought I had the challenge in the bag without even really trying. It seemed so simple. Like Jesus noticed the little children, he also noticed others who often get overlooked and he made them feel special. The challenge: to notice people in our daily lives others often overlook and to let them know you noticed them. I thought this would be very simple. Kids, I notice them, I work at a preschool, it’s hard not to notice and appreciate their special gifts. The poor, they’re all around us and my heart breaks for their situations, and I try to help when I can. The addicted, I have family members who struggle with addictions. Etc. . . I honestly thought this was going to be an easy week. WRONG!

Friday, I began to notice someone, and it truly makes me feel ashamed. It may sound trivial, but it’s not. No unnoticed person is trivial. I noticed my UPS man. Actually, a friend noticed him for me. I have lived in the same house just one week shy of 3 years now. If you know much about my husband, you know he has a rather large personal theological library. Many, if not most of these books have been acquired from the Internet. Plus, that used to be how we bought diapers. Needless to say, when you have free 2 day shipping on Amazon, and you do a lot of online shopping, the UPS truck will be at your house…ALOT! Our UPS truck visits our house at LEAST once a week, and often more than that. I have had conversations with our delivery man several times and even told him how I got diapers so cheaply. Needless to say, I learned his name Friday. From a co-worker, who was talking to one of the kids in my class, who’s father makes the UPS deliveries in town. My town, to my house. . . OUCH! What really stung is my friend knew more about him than I did and he isn’t even her UPS man. AND I didn’t even connect the dots and realize his child was in my class and had been since August. She connected the dots for me. Talk about a fail.

This all got me to thinking, like it should. I wonder how often do people slip in and out of my everyday life without me even noticing? How many opportunities have I missed to share Jesus with someone just because I didn’t notice? I think it’s safe to say I pretty much failed the challenge this week. I only say “pretty much” because I did realize who I was not noticing but I haven’t had the opportunity to let him know how much I appreciate the great job he does, and how his child makes my days easy and enjoyable.

I plan on carrying this challenge out, for this week as well as my entire life. I pray that my eyes are not closed to the people around me and the opportunities I have to share the love of Jesus with everyone around me.

Do you want more information on the “Jesus Challenge 2013” or want to join me in this challenge to be more and more like Jesus? If so, follow this link to the Facebook page: Jesus Challenge 2013

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The Passing Shadows

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I absolutely love fantasy stories and movies.  Naturally, my favorite is the stories of Middle Earth by Tolkien.  I love the whole world he imagined and wrote about.  I also love how Peter Jackson brought that world to life.  It is such a great story of good vs. evil, but it is so much more than that.  


As a christian, I often feel like I am on a journey through Middle Earth, carrying the “Ring of Power” around my neck.  Sometimes, when I see all of the evil around me, I get discouraged and feel like there is no point in trying to make a difference.  I get bogged down and don’t want to continue my journey.  I think that is why the following scene in “The Two Towers” speaks so much to me.



Frodo has lost site of the goal.  He thinks he can no longer go on.  He feels the task is too hard for him.  Then Sam steps in, and reminds him what is at stake.  He reminds Frodo that the shadow is passing, and “A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”  He redirects Frodo back to the goal of a new day that will come when evil is destroyed.  


As awesome as that is, my favorite part comes next, when Sam states his realization for why certain stories “stay with you.”  He said, “But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.  I know now.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t.  They kept going because they were holding onto something.”  


Sometimes, we all need a Sam to remind us the shadows of life on this imperfect world will eventually pass.  Evil will be destroyed, the new heavens and the new earth will be, and the sun will “shine out all the clearer.”  But, for our story to mean something, we can’t give up and turn back.  We need to hold on to something to help keep us going. 


As I am writing this, an old folk song from India keeps playing in my head.  I’ve sung this song so many times, but it always reminds me, even in the darkest of days, that with Jesus, there is no turning back.  God doesn’t want me to turn back, just like He didn’t want the Israelites to turn back when they were in the wilderness.  Turning back is foolishness.  I need to put my hope in Him, and keep going.

I have decided to follow Jesus.  

I have decided to follow Jesus.  

I have decided to follow Jesus.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back.  No turning back.  


Pretty much the entire book of Hebrews is about not giving up and motivating each other to not turn back.  It’s about holding fast to the hope we have in Jesus, no matter what comes our way.  Don’t give up!  Keep going!  We have something to hold onto, because He is faithful until the very end.

Hebrews 10:19-25
English Standard Version (ESV)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Sand-burs

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On my walk to the church building, I’ve been noticing a sand-bur here or there the past couple of weeks.  Usually, I only notice one when it catches my sandal or gets caught in Jackson’s pants leg.  Having only been stuck by a couple, I didn’t really think we had a problem.  Little did I know, until I started looking, I did not know how bad of a problem we really have.


As I walked my pathway to the building, I noticed clump another clump of very mature sand-bur producing weeds.  I pulled one and saw another; pulled it and found another.  I pulled sand-burs for  quite awhile, until it was too dark to see them or snakes.  I thought I pulled so many that there wouldn’t be many left for me to finish in the morning.  Then, Saturday morning, I went out to finish the job.  Wrong again.


In the morning light, it was easy for me to see how big the infestation is.  At that point, I pulled the rest of the noticeable clumps from my path and decided to come back to the others.  Since I had only noticed the weed in that part of the yard, my thinking was I could get some help and pull them before they spread to another area.


That afternoon, I took Scott with me to the backyard.  We each had a laundry basket full of wet sheets and towels to hang on our clothes lines.  Low and behold, when I went to hang a towel, I was stuck by a sand-bur!  I looked down, and all around were giant clumps of sand-burs.  Keep in mind, this is in a completely different area than the other sand-burs.  There is even a structure in between the areas.  As I looked down, I quickly became aware as to how vast of a sand-bur problem we have.  There are way too many for one or two people to pull in any short amount of time.  Scott ended up hanging almost all of the towels and sheets while I pulled sand-burs.  I cleared a pretty big area under the clothesline,  but there were many more left.  My fingers became sore, and I was overwhelmed by all of the work left to do.  


As I was uprooting the problem, and pulling stickers from my fingertips and toes, I began thinking…


How long will it be before I can go barefoot again?


Where did these all come from?


How did they become such a problem without me ever noticing?


How can I fix this problem?


The questions go on and on (just like the pain in my fingertips).


I then started thinking about other problems that kind of creep up.  Things like dirty dishes in the sink and laundry that needs put away, and serious things, such as jealousy and greed.  At first, it’s just a want or desire for something you don’t have and before long you’re bitter towards anyone who has what you can’t get, or you spend all of your time chasing after the Jones’s and you miss out on the important things.  


When I take time to stop, and really look at my life, I realize it’s often full of sand-burs too.  The closer I look, the more I see how vast my problem is.  I know you know what I mean.  I’m pretty sure we all, at one point or another, find ourselves looking at the shambles of our life wondering , “Where did this all come from?  How did it get so bad without me noticing?  What can I do to fix it?”


Fortunately, there is an answer to our problems.  It’s Jesus, pure and simple.  He has the ability to fix our problems.  If we let Him, He’ll do more than mow over our issues.  He’ll help us dig out the burs from the root.  This doesn’t mean it is an easy solution.  It’s far from easy.  Just like my sand-bur infested lawn, it will take a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and some soreness to rid a life of the painful weeds that creep up and take over.  It may take awhile, and it may hurt, but the end result will be more than worth it!