Avoid

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Do not avoid uncomfortable situations or moments. Instead, walk boldly in the truth that God is with you in all things.”~TB

Unpleasant

The world teaches us to avoid unpleasant experiences. Human logic dictates that if the moment induces discomfort, it must be a bad thing, therefore we remove the “yucky stuff” from our lives. What an amazingly ironic and counterproductive paradigm! The problem with that ideology is that it eliminates the most vital and necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. Through the unpleasant times, we get to grow closer and know God in a more personal and one-on-one manner. In fact, it’s those uncomfortable and painful moments where we grow the most. That is if we take them as they are and not as we perceive them to be.

Kiln

When I was a kid in elementary school, we’d have the opportunity to participate in an art class. Some of the projects included working with clay, making different sorts of things. I loved it. Being able to mold and shape things– essentially making something out of nothing– is something I love. My favorite part was seeing my work after it was fired in the kiln. For those that don’t know, a kiln is a heating chamber that transforms materials in high temperatures. When the clay is heated properly, it is then ready to be turned into a vessel. If you’ve ever worked clay, you’ve seen firsthand how a slippery and malleable substance is transformed into a sturdy and utilitarian product. God is the Kiln to our clay.

Good Burn

In order to be the vessel that God has called you to be, you must learn to reexamine your mind about the kiln process. Trials and tribulations are the firey elements that shore up your vessel. Without them, you remain mushy and unsustainable. When you avoid the molding and kiln of God, your ability to rise to the calling on your life is impossible. Don’t avoid the process,  but trust that all things in your life are used to strengthen your relationship with God. Let the Bible mold you and your time with God be the fire that hardens the clay. In doing so, we see as God intended us to see. When that happens, we walk in the way that God called us to.

Today’s Question

Are you going through the kiln or do you want to remain mushy and broken?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 8

1 “In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. 
2 They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure. 
3 And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! 
4 “Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back? 
5 Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around. 
6 I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle! 
7 Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD ’s laws. 
8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies? 
9 These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD . Are they so wise after all? 
10 I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds. 
11 They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. 
12 Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD . 
13 I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone. I, the LORD, have spoken!’ 
14 “Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the LORD our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the LORD . 
15 We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’ 
16 “The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it— cities and people alike. 
17 I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 
18 My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken. 
19 Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem? ” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?” “Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” says the LORD . 
20 “The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!” 
21 I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. 
22 Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?

Take the Picture

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Each day has its own highs and lows so you might as well enjoy the ride.”~TB

Landlocked

I’ve been in the same place/space for over 3 months, which is about the longest time I’ve been in one spot since September 2018 when I made the wild/impromptu plan to travel the US. It was a wacky year of sorts filled with interesting people, places, and adventures. There were amazing wins and amazing losses but through it, all God never left me and I came out unharmed! I took a bunch of pictures to document my travels (which I used a couple for this post) and as I look back at them– recalling different events at various places– the only thing I’d change would be to worry less and take more pictures.

Moments in Time

Compared to eternity, life is ridiculously short. Unfortunately, many of us are so worried/focused on one thing or another, we fail to enjoy the life that God gave us. The good news is that God promises peace and not perfection, so if you’re willing to walk in faith, you can experience it. Looking back at these photos, I laugh, because if I had known what I do now, I would’ve chilled out quite a bit. But, that’s how life works, we have to make the best of what we have, practice Christ-like behaviors to one another, and enjoy the moments in time that are afforded to us. I don’t 100% know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that if we trust in God’s peace rather than our own we can learn to take the picture today instead of lamenting about tomorrow

Today’s Question

Are you experiencing God’s peace today or your anxiety about tomorrow?

Enjoy the reading

Isaiah 66

1 This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? 
2 My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. 
3 But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol. 
4 I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.” 
5 Hear this message from the LORD, all you who tremble at his words: “Your own people hate you and throw you out for being loyal to my name. ‘Let the LORD be honored!’ they scoff. ‘Be joyful in him!’ But they will be put to shame. 
6 What is all the commotion in the city? What is that terrible noise from the Temple? It is the voice of the LORD taking vengeance against his enemies. 
7 “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. 
8 Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. 
9 Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD . “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God. 
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. 
11 Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.” 
12 This is what the LORD says: “I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity. The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap. 
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” 
14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the LORD ’s hand of blessing on his servants— and his anger against his enemies. 
15 See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke. 
16 The LORD will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him. 
17 “Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the LORD . 
18 “I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory. 
19 I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations. 
20 They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD . They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD . 
21 “And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the LORD, have spoken! 
22 “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD . 
23 “All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. 
24 And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror.”

 

Intent

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“In matters of communication, intent matters as does grace and mercy.”~TB

When Help Goes Wrong

A few weeks ago, I was making a pot roast for my parents. Man, do I make a mean pot roast. My trick is to allow the roast to slow cook for at least 8 hours. I find that the meat just falls apart yet it retains its juices. One morning, I prepped the dish, and decided to use the day to take care of some tasks. When I got home, I went to check on the pot roast only to find that the meat had already been cut into pieces and it had been slow cooking for only 6 hours! I was livid. Turns out my dad thought he was doing me a solid by chopping up the meat. In his mind, he was helping. In my mind, he butchered (pun intended) my perfected process.

Stop Drop & Roll

My first instinct was to read him the riot act, driving home the point of my process and how the dish was simply ruined (dramatic, I know, but if you love to cook you get it) the meal. But when I saw his face after I informed him of the mistake (and perhaps I had my mean face on) I stopped for a minute and chilled out. I realized that his intention was to help me, not to ruin the dish. This moment did not call for a fire and brimstone approach. Instead of focusing on the mistake, I decided to focus on the intent. How cool is it to have someone want to help out? I simply let it go and then we sat down to play some epic dominoes. God delivered the domino victories to me that day. Justice was served.

 

Intent Matters

It seems like today, we hustle and bustle through life, quickly judging and assessing yet sometimes failing to look at the bigger picture. Relationships are complex in nature and if we fail to recognize the true intent of the people in our lives, we can get things wrong. Sure, an action may have caused an unintended outcome, but that’s what mercy is for. After all God forgives our actions— both good intent and bad. The point is to evaluate a situation on a case by case scenario. In the example above, I had to look at all sides of the equation, not just how I felt in the moment. Had I chosen anger, my dad could have gotten defensive and then we would have had an argument on our hands. Instead, we had the opportunity to laugh at it, play some dominoes and life went on as usual. So the next time someone in your life accidentally offends you, don’t forget to look at their intent with mercy and grace. Remember the mercy and grace that Christ extends to us every second of every day.

Today’s Question

Do you consider intent or are you intent on being continually offended?

Enjoy the reading

Isaiah 24

1 Look! The LORD is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people.
2 Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors—none will be spared.
3 The earth will be completely emptied and looted. The LORD has spoken!
4 The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away.
5 The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant.
6Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin. They are destroyed by fire, and only a few are left alive.
7 The grapevines waste away, and there is no new wine. All the merrymakers sigh and mourn.
8 The cheerful sound of tambourines is stilled; the happy cries of celebration are heard no more. The melodious chords of the harp are silent.
9 Gone are the joys of wine and song; alcoholic drink turns bitter in the mouth.
10 The city writhes in chaos; every home is locked to keep out intruders.
11 Mobs gather in the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has turned to gloom. Gladness has been banished from the land.
12 The city is left in ruins, its gates battered down.
13 Throughout the earth the story is the same— only a remnant is left, like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest.
14 But all who are left shout and sing for joy. Those in the west praise the LORD ’s majesty.
15 In eastern lands, give glory to the LORD . In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16 We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One! But my heart is heavy with grief. Weep for me, for I wither away. Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere.
17Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth.
18 Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare. Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake.
19 The earth has broken up. It has utterly collapsed; it is violently shaken.
20The earth staggers like a drunk. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy.
21 In that day the LORD will punish the gods in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth.
22 They will be rounded up and put in prison. They will be shut up in prison and will finally be punished.
23 Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of his people.

Teachable Moments

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Hi Peeps,
Today’s Quote
“Each day brings a plethora of teachable moments to shine the love of God onto your home, workplace, and life, but you cannot make people love you or God!” ~ Jon Barnes

Moments

The momentum of your daily moments is directed by the sharing, caring, and thanksgiving of your own personal actions.  Each moment sings like praises unto God in silent vibrations and acts of kindness that only God can feel, see, and hear.  Like the wind, others will notice that special something, but they don’t know where the wind comes from.  The wind comes from the Love of God and His Provisions for us.

Provisions

Be a part of God’s provisions by providing opportunities of sharing, caring, giving, and thanksgiving, we live a lifestyle of goodness, mercy, honor, and grace, which is freely given to the people we meet, know, and love. Copying God’s methods of shining on the just and the unjust is a natural flow for Christians to follow.

Teaching

Teachers and students alike both learn from the same reasons and lessons from life’s experiences of doing the work of God, not just merely reciting words of inaction. The very process of teaching is a student form of learning, growing, and sharing the kindness and love of God, which brings understanding, patience, meekness, and real results. Enjoy your moments with God and other each day you live.
Today’s Question
Did you step up into your teachable moment to share your goodness and joy?
 

Enjoy The Reading

Ruth 3 

Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer[b] of our family.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”
15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he[c] went back to town.
16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
 
Love,
 
Jonathan