Hindering Understanding

Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. Luke 11:52

We’re in the process of helping my son, Zack, buy his first car. Our focus is on a car with all-wheel drive, good safety ratings, and reliability. But Zack is seventeen. He calls those “mom cars” and won’t be caught dead in one. So, he’s turning to his friend for support.

Zack’s friend may be quite versed in cars, but he lacks wisdom and experience. Regardless, Zack is holding him up as a car guru, taking his every word as gospel.

Together, they’re advocating for a car with speed, rear-wheel drive, and a cool-looking exterior. Their emphasis is on how a car looks and performs, not on its reliability and safety. My husband and I feel like we’re banging our heads against a wall.

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Look Up Often

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 1:11

For a while now, Jocelyn has been complaining that it’s difficult to read the whiteboard at school. The great mother that I am, it only took me a solid year to make an appointment with the eye doctor!

Sure enough, she needs glasses for distance. The eye doctor said he wasn’t surprised. He sees more and more young people who are becoming near-sighted because they spend so much time looking at things up close.

He advised that whether we’re looking at a screen or reading a book, it’s critical that we look up every twenty minutes and focus on something in the distance. Otherwise, our eyes will lose their ability to see far away. In a joking way, he predicted that with how the world’s becoming more and more dependent on screens, our far-sightedness will eventually phase out. Through evolution, we’ll become creatures who can only see close up.

In a way, his advice is similar to prayer.

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Hang On Tight

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When the weather is nice, I like to spend my prayer time on my back deck. It’s my happy place: private and quiet, with a beautiful view of the trees and sky. It feels like a front row seat to God’s creation as birds dart about and bees visit the flowers I’ve planted in various pots strewn about. Witnessing it all draws me closer to the Creator.

Today, as I sat gazing out over the trees, I saw a bird land on a branch. I guess the bird was heavier than we both realized because the branch dipped dramatically under his weight. Had he not been hanging on, claws clutched tight around that branch, he would have slid right off into thin air.

It felt like a lesson on the importance of holding on.

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The East Gate

The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Ezekiel 43:4

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As I read Ezekiel 43 the other day, I longed for the “glory of the Lord” to enter the gate of my heart. I started to wonder about the significance of the east gate. Before I could research that, I heard God ask me: “What’s blocking the east gate of your heart?”

Of course, studying the Bible and the theology of it is important. But in our relationship with God, I think how His Word impacts us personally is far more important. So I began to ponder that question.

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Good Influences

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! … Do not take a purse or bag or sandals…” Luke 10: 2-4

We moved my oldest son, Zack, into college last Friday. I’ve known for a long time that I’m no longer the one who influences his choices, or remains the primary person shaping who he’ll become. That’s why my nightly prayer for him has been, “Please bring him good, true and faith-filled friends.”

I met his roommate for all of five minutes while helping Zack unpack. He seems like a nice kid. But it’s too soon to say whether he and Zack will bond, or whether he’ll be a good influence or not.

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Remaining Prepared

“You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 24:44

None of us expected the world to shut down when COVID-19 hit in 2020. When it did, we all looked at things differently: Did we have enough toilet paper and food to get us through? Had we saved enough money to pay our rent or mortgage? Was our internet speed fast enough to accommodate virtual learning and remote work?

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Remaining Connected

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The queen of Sheba, having heard a report of Solomon’s fame, came to test him with subtle questions. 1 Kings 10:1

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My son recently quizzed me with an online Jeopardy game, thinking I would fail. Much to his surprise, I answered every question right! What I didn’t tell him is I had played the same game with friends just days before. All the answers were still fresh in my mind.

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All In

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“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

Although a lot of us think we’re in control of whom we meet, fall in love with, and marry, that really isn’t the case. Love is a gift. It can’t be pre-arranged, fabricated, or ordered from a website. Of course, there does come a point when we get to decide whether we’re going to accept love, return it, commit to it, and nurture it. But the origin of love itself is in God’s hands.

The same holds true for our faith. It is a gift. God gives it freely and generously. Then the decision is ours.

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What We See

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Rely on the mighty Lord; constantly seek his face. 1 Chronicles 16:11

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I used to be an intense neatnik. Everything had a place and I wouldn’t rest until it was in it. Some would say it bordered on obsessive compulsive disorder.

Over the years, I’ve relaxed a lot. I’d like to pat myself on the back and claim I’ve achieved balance. But the real truth is my vision has declined. Without my glasses on, I don’t see the dust or dirt, stains or scuffs. Even with my glasses on, they’re so weak, my house looks relatively clean even if I haven’t lifted a finger or a broom in a week.

As a result, I feel lighter and freer. Things look more beautiful to me despite the dirt and dust others may see

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Stay the Course

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:11

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My sister, Kerry, claims that we siblings all subscribe to the 3/4 Rule: working on projects almost to the end, and then abandoning them, unfinished. I find nothing more overwhelming and disheartening, though, than a pile up of incomplete tasks. It kills me to do all that work yet never get to experience the reward.

So, I push through to overcome our natural tendencies. Not only do I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor, but I find it inspires me for the next project.

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