Being a Blessing

If it’s Biblical, it must be true. As believers, we base our lives on this concept. But just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t always mean that it applies now, in our current situation, in the way we think it does. Reread the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Even Satan quotes Scripture. He just twists it, quoting passages out of context, misapplying it, and ignoring other passages.

This is particularly deceitful because there is truth in what we’re hearing. After all, the best lies are mostly true. A nugget of deception is hidden among words that we recognize as coming from God. And so we are misled.

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Be a Berean

How well do you know the Bible? Do you attend a church with Biblical teaching? Do you read books about the Bible? Watch a Christian TV show? Perhaps you’re part of a small group, a “home group.” Some groups discuss the previous weekend’s sermon; others may read a book together and discuss that. When is the last time you cracked open a Bible and read it for yourself? Continue reading

To the Penny

1977 - Pete Holzmann Engr corner StanfordPete and I were chatting with a friend, sharing stories about how we’d learned to trust God. So often we’re focused on what’s happening now that we forget to look back at the many years of God’s faithfulness and direction. As Pete related one major lesson he’d learned many years ago, explaining how it laid the foundation for so much of the ministry he had now, I realized that it’s a story worth sharing. I didn’t know Pete when this happened—I met him a month later—but it’s had a huge impact on my life. Maybe God will use it in your life, too. Continue reading

Is Persecution a Blessing?

After reading scores of stories describing how my Christian brothers and sisters are suffering and dying for their faith, I had to stop and ask, doesn’t God see this? Doesn’t God care? How can the good, loving God I know let such horrors happen to His chosen people?

I was having a hard time getting around these thoughts when I came across an article written by a contributor from the Middle East, and adapted for INcontextMinistries by Mike Burnard. (You can see the original adaptation here.) That article has provided the inspiration for some of my thoughts here.

We in the West are too comfortable. We have a hard time acknowledging that our God might ask us to suffer social ostracism, ridicule, or insult. Even more abhorrent is the idea that we might suffer physical loss for following Jesus. “Sacrifice” means getting up Sunday morning and going to church instead of lying around in bed reading the newspaper. (And our pastor had better finish the sermon in time for the afternoon football game!) While we hope that we would be willing to die for our faith, in reality we suspect that that level of commitment will never be put to the test. Thus, our theology can’t accommodate the true suffering of others.

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A Timely Hug

Last Saturday, God gave me a huge hug. I’m still floating.

Last week, a few women in our home group decided it was time for a ladies’ day out. They planned to have lunch at a local tea house, then browse through some gift shops together. Normally, this wouldn’t have interested me very much—I’m not much of a window-shopper, and I usually don’t take well to “women’s events”—but this is the group we joined last May and I’m still trying to get to know everyone. Besides, I felt a nudge, insubstantial but very real, from the Holy Spirit, saying “Go!” So I went.

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Knee-Deep Farming

The cows are back!!

Well, technically they’re cattle… (in this case) cows and steers destined to be T-bone steaks and meatloaf. Forgive me if I call them all cows; it’s just easier.

For the past 18 years, we’ve lived on five acres just outside the city limits, across the street from a good-sized piece of undeveloped land. While our property is mostly Ponderosas with some grass, the spread we look out on is mostly short-grass prairie with a few trees. It’s been owned by a series of developers. I’m sure they have plans for high-density housing and strip malls, but one good side of the bad economy is that no bulldozers have yet arrived to spoil the peace and quiet of our country spot.

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More Blessings… (I think)

Last week I wrote about the many ways God was gracious to us on our California adventure. Even through I wrote more than usual, there was no way to fit everything in. It was truly a trip to remember, and I’m very, very thankful.

Eventually you have to come home. We finally walked through the door at midnight, Tuesday night. We dragged our bags up the stairs, ran through a quick shower, and crawled into our own bed. Coming home can be pretty nice.

It wasn’t until morning that we discovered God’s next “blessing”—the kind of blessing you have to examine closely before you see the good part.

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Giving When We’re Broke

Pete and I enjoy giving financially. This doesn’t make us super spiritual, and I’m not trying to brag or impress anyone—it’s just that we both find giving to be lots of fun. I am quite sure our attitude is a direct result of God working in us, rather than anything we achieved for ourselves. It’s a gift from the Holy Spirit.

However, as I wrote a few months ago, we’re currently “treading water” financially. We haven’t received a paycheck since October. Since there’s no income, we have nothing to tithe on, and we’ve cut our discretionary spending to zero. It’s frustrating.

Well, frustration can be the impetus to start thinking more creatively. Sunday afternoon, Pete and I sat down together and said, OK, we can’t afford to write checks. How else can we give? Sometimes our culture is so focused on money, we miss other things we can spend. A bit of soul-searching was all it took to come up with a few ideas:

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