Watch Where We’re Going

riding bike on trailDuring one camping trip several years ago, Pilot and I biked over winding dirt trails through a wooded area and quickly found out we needed to watch where we were going.

We enjoyed one particular trail the most and rode it often. Unlike the trail we dubbed Buzzard Bay, this trail was not populated with a flock of nesting buzzards waiting for us to stop peddling. Deer walked across this path instead. Much more pleasant.

The first time we rode this trail, I lead the way. After we’d been on it for some time, I felt confident the trail was easy-peasy.

I sped down one descent, took the sharp left turn rather quickly, and hit the brakes immediately to keep from running into a tree that was invisible until I was right on it.

Knowing Pilot’s tendency to gaze off to the side at whatever he passes, whether that be while biking, walking, or driving, I yelled out over my shoulder, “Watch out!” Fortunately, he slowed down and missed the tree.

After that first trip, we knew to be careful on the curve, and approached it with caution before accelerating to our previous speed.

Our goal in biking is to have fun, get exercise, and enjoy God’s creation. Goals we accomplished each time we set out during this trip.

The campground had maps of the trails which made it easy to know where we’d end up after we set out. The trails were well marked and well kept. They were easy to navigate if we made sure to watch where we were going, and didn’t get sidetracked. 

Life’s a little like the bike trails Pilot and I rode. To navigate life’s trails, God gave us a trail map, the Bible, to know where we’ll end up after we set out. We just need to make sure we watch where we’re going and don’t get sidetracked.

Some of life’s trails are winding and treacherous, with obstacles that jump out at us when we least expect it. Some are straight and smooth. Some of life’s trails are filled with gamboling deer. Others are filled with lurking buzzards.

The Bible tells us which paths to avoid, which paths to follow. It tells us where we’ll end up after deciding which path we’ll take.

In life, we do okay when we pay attention and don’t get sidetracked by the distractions of the world. But if we take our eyes off the trail set before us, we just might find we’re rounding a sharp curve, and heading straight for a tree.

Life’s a long and winding road. We can follow the path God sets before us, keeping our eyes on Him and watching out for trees that jump into our path, or we can disregard his voice and travel down Buzzard Bay.

The choice is ours to make. But as for me, I’d rather travel the trail with gamboling deer than lurking buzzards, wouldn’t you?

Have you ever taken your eyes off where you were going, for even an instant, and ended up in a situation you didn’t want to be in?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Keep looking straight ahead, without turning aside. Know where you are headed, and you will stay on solid ground. Don’t make a mistake by turning to the right or the left. Proverbs 4:25-27 (CEV)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God Loves A Fixer Upper

Bible open to the Psalms Today’s guest post, God Loves A Fixer Upper Psalm 19:10-14 written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

The Fixer Upper Formula

Next time you watch a show featuring home or garden renovation, look for this universal formula to play out.

First, the family and the crew meet in the backyard or at the house, cast a vision, and get guidance on what they want, what they value, and how much it will cost.

Second, a hidden fault will be revealed just as the work starts. There is always something that no one saw at the beginning that threatens to hijack the entire project. The good news is that there will always be a creative solution. But in the meantime, we will all be on the edge of our seats to see if, once again, the team will overcome what no one saw coming.

Third, the grand reveal introduced the family to a transformed space. Everything has been made new and done in a way that will last and be sustainable.

How does God bring renovation to our lives?

God uses His word to begin a transformation in each of our hearts. First, He wants us to see how valuable change can be. Then, using vivid imagery, God reveals that His word is a treasure.

Have you ever asked the Lord for a vision for your life?

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:10-11 ESV)

God’s word is beneficial in short-term ways. Money or gold can be spent on whatever is needed. Honey can be eaten or used medicinally immediately. By contrast, Verse 11 points to the long-term benefits of listening and obeying God’s word. Notice the promise tucked in here, “there is great reward.”

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. (Psalm 19:12-13 ESV)

The case of the rotten support beams

On a recent home makeover show, the crew discovered critical support beams were rotted inside the concrete. The rotten wood was concealed until the time was spent in a very close inspection.  Some of the concrete had to be chipped away to reveal the state of these beams. If left in place, the balcony would have collapsed.

The problem with hidden faults is that they are hidden. Spending regular time alone with God, focused on hearing from Him, is a pathway toward discovering secret sins. Sometimes praying for the Holy Spirit reveals what we can’t see by ourselves.

A Heart Inspection

Have you set aside time recently for a heart inspection with your Heavenly Father?

Finally, the “big reveal” day comes on the renovation show, and the changes are displayed. Fresh flowers and candles are added to make a clear outward sign of all the work done behind the scenes.

An Authentic Renovation

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)

An actual heart renovation is revealed by what I say, how I think, and what I care about and value. These are the visible signs of all that has been changed within. We are walking about as living evidence of what God is doing to transform us daily.

Do the words of your mouth and how you spend your time and talent reveal God’s priorities?

As humans, we a drawn to the idea of renewal because it positions hope within reach. On television, it is all about the talented crew’s hard work. Spiritual transformation works from the inside out and can only be accomplished by God, but He desires our partnership.

A Prayer for Personal Renovation

Lord, thank you that you long to transform with the ultimate makeover to restore hope, reveal hidden problems, and support sustainable growth and change. Please show me how to begin that work today. Amen.

This is the third post in a series on Psalm 19. Here are the links for the first and the second posts if you want to read more.

 Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Gluten-free 2 Ingredient Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe

peanut butter fudgeThis extremely easy Gluten-free 2 Ingredient Peanut Butter Fudge recipe has made the rounds on the internet, but in case you missed it, here it is for you to try. Like I said, it’s extremely easy, and tasty too.

  • 1 (18 ounce) jar peanut butter
  • 1 (12 ounce) container whipped cream cheese frosting

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with waxed paper.

Spoon peanut butter and cream cheese frosting into a microwave-safe bowl. Stir to blend.

Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir mixture, and heat again for 30 seconds.

Stir once more until thoroughly blended.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

That’s all there is to it, folks. Super simple.

Enjoy!

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Receive and Give

bridge over riverDuring a recent sermon, Preacher mentioned the Jordan River and the Dead Sea as an illustration of how people sometimes go to church and receive, but never give what they receive to others.

Preacher explained that unlike the Sea of Galilee, which takes in fresh water from the Jordan River and lets it flow from it, the Dead Sea takes water from the Jordan and holds onto it.

As a result, the Sea of Galilee is vibrant and living, while the Dead Sea is dead. Similarly, if all we do is go to church and receive without allow what we receive to flow from us, we could end up like that Dead Sea.

As I listened to Preacher’s message, I thought about something a friend said years ago about being a Stinky Sponge. If all we do is soak up biblical knowledge like a sponge soaks up water, but don’t ever apply or share it, we’re like a Stinky Sponge. You can read the blog post I wrote about it here.

Preacher ended his message with a poem by Helen Steiner Rice, “The Key to Life and Living”.

The Key to Life and Living

by Helen Steiner Rice

 

A very favorite story of mine
Is about two seas in Palestine.
One is a sparkling sapphire jewel,
Its waters are clean and clear and cool,
Along its shores children play
And travelers seek it on their way,
And nature gives so lavishly
Her choicest gems to the Galilee.

 

But to the south the Jordan flows
Into a sea where nothing grows,
No splash of fish, no singing bird,
No children’s laughter is ever heard,
The air hangs heavy all around
And nature shuns this barren ground.

 

Both seas receive the Jordan’s flow,
The water is just the same, we know,
But one of the seas, like liquid sun,
Can warm the hearts of everyone,
While farther south another sea
Is dead and dark and miserly.

 

It takes each drop the Jordan brings
And to each drop it fiercely clings.
It hoards and holds the Jordan’s waves
Until like shackled, captured slaves
The fresh, clear Jordan turns to salt
And dies within the Dead Sea’s vault.

 

But the Jordan flows on rapturously
As it enters and leaves the Galilee,
For every drop that the Jordan gives
Becomes a laughing wave that lives
For the Galilee gives back each drop,
Its waters flow and never stop.

 

And in the laughing, living sea
That takes and gives so generously
We find the way to Life and Living
Is not in Keeping, But in Giving!

 

Yes, there are two Palestinian seas
And mankind is fashioned after these!

 

— Helen Steiner Rice

Preacher asked the following questions.

Do we receive and give, or receive and keep?

Which sea are we like? The Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea?

Stinky Sponge or Dead Sea. Neither is what Jesus calls us to be.

We are called to be his ambassadors. His light to a world in darkness. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet.

We can’t very well do any of that if all we do is receive but never give, now can we?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry New Every Morning

meadow lake

New Every Morning

by Annie Johnson Flint

Yea, “new every morning,” though we may awake,
Our hearts with old sorrow beginning to ache;
With old work unfinished when night stayed our hand,
with new duties waiting, unknown and unplanned;
With old care still pressing, to fret and to vex,
With new problems rising, our minds to perplex
In ways long familiar, in paths yet untrod,
Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!

His faithfulness fails not; it meets each new day
New guidance for every new step of the way;
New grace for new trials, new trust for old fears,
New patience for bearing the wrongs of the years,
New strength for new burdens, new courage for old,
New faith for whatever the day may unfold;
As fresh for each need as the dew on the sod;
Oh, new every morning the mercies of God!

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The God Shot Book Review

the God Shot book coverThe God Shot by Tara-Leigh Cobble contains 100 short devotions that look at sections from the New Testament to give a snapshot of the attributes and names of God.

Tara-Leigh’s hope is that by reading the passage in context, the reader will be able to see the meaning of each individual verse in new ways, and see how they all tie together to weave a picture of God and his goodness.

Each devotion points to a name or attribute of God. Tara begins these brief devotions with a short explanation of the scripture’s context. She moves into how the scripture relates to the reader. She closes out with application questions and thoughts to ponder.

The God Shot is perfect for when you need a quick devotion.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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We Are In A Battle

disappointed boyWe are in a battle.

As the apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 6, we are not fighting against human beings, but against wicked spiritual forces.

In his book, Peace With God, Billy Graham states Christians have three distinct dangerous, vicious enemies who will use any method to defeat us in our Christian life. Those enemies are Satan, the world, and the flesh.

First off, Satan.

We know Satan was defeated at the cross by Jesus, but he still has power to influence us toward sin.

Just look at the names the Bible gives him. The wicked one. Devil. Murderer. Liar, and the father of lies. Adversary who seeks to devour. Serpent. Accuser of the brethren, along with other none flattering titles.

Satan is not happy when anyone gives their life to Christ. In fact, it makes him really mad.

Billy Graham says we shouldn’t rely on our feelings, because that’s where Satan attacks first. He’ll do whatever he can to tempt us and lead us into sin. To make us doubt. To discourage, and disappoint.

There are a lot of ways the deceiver can tempt us; jealousy, hatred, envy.

Satan might tempt us by making us feel proud and important. To make us confident in our own powers, instead of trusting in God.

The father of all lies would like nothing more than for us to follow his example, and become liars and lead others astray. He is powerful, crafty, and subtle. He is called the god of this world, the prince of this world, and the prince of the power of the air.

In his book, Mr. Graham told a story regarding Satan’s attacks.

Years ago I heard my friend J. Edwin Orr compare the Christian attacked by Satan to a mouse being attacked by a housewife wielding a broom. The mouse does not sit there contemplating the housewife or the broom. It is busy looking for a hole — a way to escape. So we Christians under satanic attack should look for our “way of escape.”

He goes further to say,

The devil will tremble when you pray. He will be defeated when you quote or read a passage of Scripture to him, and will leave you when you resist him.

Next, among our enemies is the world.

Mr. Graham said when anyone asks him how to know what is “okay” to do, and what isn’t, he tells them to:

Earnestly and prayerfully ask, ‘What would Christ have me to do?’

‘Can I ask His blessing upon this particular thing for me?’

‘What would Christ think about my amusements, recreation, books, companions, and television programs?’

‘Could I ask Christ to go along with me to this particular event?’ Being omnipresent, He’ll be there anyway. The point is, should you?

He continues by saying,

This does not mean that in society we are snobs or have a superiority complex, lest we be in danger of spiritual pride — which would be far worse than any worldliness. But today there are so many professing Christians who are walking hand in hand with the world that you cannot tell the difference between the Christian and the unbeliever. This should never be.

Lastly, Mr. Graham addresses the third enemy we face; the lust of the flesh, which he calls that evil tendency of your inward self.

It is the battle of the self-life and the Christ-life. This old nature cannot please God. It cannot be converted, or even patched up. Thank God, when Jesus died He took you with Him, and the old nature can be made inoperative and you can “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (Romans 6:11).

Yes. We are in a battle. A spiritual battle. We do not fight a battle against human beings, but against wicked spiritual forces.

Aren’t we glad we don’t have to fight this battle alone?

Jesus won the victory at the cross. Because we belong to him, we too have victory. We stand under Christ’s authority and in his mighty power. The same power that defeated hell, sin, Satan, and death.

Let’s put on our armor and stand our ground, refusing to give one more inch to our enemy. Amen?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. Ephesians 6:12 (GNT)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Bitterness

pouting boyBitterness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than the vessel on which it is poured. Unknown

Last month I began Jennifer Rothschild’s Bible study, Amos An Invitation to the Good Life at church. Through the coming weeks, I’ll mention thoughts gained from the study. Today I’d like us to consider what the study said about bitterness.

In the first chapter of Amos, the prophet announced God’s judgement on Israel’s surrounding nations. Edom was one of those nations.

The Edomites descended from Jacob’s brother, Esau. If we remember these brothers’ story from the book of Genesis, there was a lot of bitterness between the two. So much so, Jacob went to a foreign land to get away from his brother’s anger.

Things weren’t resolved once the two men died, either. Nope. Bitterness continued for generations. Over 430 years actually. The Edomites still brooded when they refused to grant the Israelites permission to pass through their land on the way out of Egypt.

The Edomites fought against King Solomon. They opposed King Jehoshaphat. Even Psalm 83 asks God to destroy them.

In the book of Obadiah, the Edomites rejoiced over their brothers, the Israelites’, hardship. Instead of offering help, they did a happy dance.

In the book of Amos, the Edomites are mentioned as a nation that will face God’s wrath for their unbrotherly acts.

As we consider the story of Edom, we may feel they deserve punishment for their bitterness, anger, and hate. But what about us? Are we holding onto bitterness, anger, and hate toward someone? Maybe a couple of someones?

Are we holding bitterness toward a family member, a former friend, a co-worker, fellow church member, neighbor? The list could go on, but you get the idea.

If we had an opportunity to assist the one we’re angry with in some way, would we? Or would we respond just like the Edomites, and say no?

Do we sympathize and offer encouragement when someone we hold a grudge against suffers, or do we gloat just like the Edomites did?

In Jennifer’s lesson she made this statement, which she followed with several questions.

Choosing unforgiveness and holding onto hate or bitterness against someone who sinned against me is wrong. It is just as wrong as the sin perpetrated on me. I am like Edom when I choose to hold onto bitterness and withhold sisterly love. How does that hit you?

Here are questions Jennifer asks us to consider.

Am I holding onto hate or bitterness toward someone who has wronged me?

Is it right for me to hold onto that wrong?

How does it hurt me to hold onto bitterness?

Here are scriptures she offered for reflection in relation to the above questions:

  • Mark 11:25
  • Romans 12:10
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Hebrew 12:15
  • 1 Peter 3:8

As someone said, bitterness is like vinegar. When we hold onto that bitterness and don’t let it go, it harms us more than it harms the person we hold bitterness against.

Let’s determine to keep the root of bitterness from growing, and as much as it depends on us, live at peace. Amen?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

 Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives. Hebrews 12:15 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Follow God’s Will Book Review

Follow God's Will book cover

Brittany Ann‘s purpose in writing Follow God’s Will is to teach a biblical framework readers can use to hear God’s voice, understand his Word, and determine his will.

Written in a conversational style free of religious jargon, Brittany Ann offers action steps to put into practice what she wrote, especially in the Witnessing with Truth and Love chapter.

The book is divided into two sections. Each chapter consists of scripture to look up, personal stories, and questions.

In the end, Brittany Ann states God has given, and will give, you everything you need to accomplish his will for your life. He simply asks us to trust him where he has us, trusting him to guide us to our next steps in his perfect timing.

Regardless of where you are in life right now, I believe there is wisdom within the pages of Follow god’s Will you can glean from.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Blythe Daniel Agency for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

An Abundance of Bison

large male bisonEarlier this month, I mentioned the trip Pilot and I took to North Dakota and parts in between. Although the main reason for our trip was to follow segments of the Lewis and Clark trail, we hoped to see bison at some point.

On our last day in South Dakota, before we headed home, God did immeasurably more, and provided an abundance of bison. Including the big fella pictured above, who got up close and personal to Pilot’s open window. Maybe Pilot shouldn’t have been eating bison jerky?

During our drive north through the Dakotas, we glimpsed several bison on distant hills. Some were barely more than dark spots on the prairie, still, we were grateful for the sightings.

On one of our spur of the moment decisions, we decided to drive through Custer State Park, SD before we headed to Deadwood. And are we ever glad we did.

At first we saw a few bison off the side of the road. Still far away, but at least you could tell they were bison. As we kept driving the Wildlife Loop, more bison came into view.

I had my camera stuck out the window as Pilot drove. I was so excited to see the bison. With each group of bison we came upon, I thanked God for answering our prayer to see these magnificent animals.

But God wasn’t done.

Looking back on that day, I wonder if God may have smiled at my excitement, and thought, “Sandy. Just wait. You haven’t seen anything yet.”

It wasn’t long before traffic slowed.

I stuck my head out the herd of bisonwindow to see what the hold up was.

A very large herd of bison is what the hold up was.

Right at the side of the road!

I would have been happy, and considered it a wonderful bison-sighting day. Yet, God had more in store.

After we made it past this herd of bison which meandered across the road, we went down the road a little ways, then decided to turn back around and head north to Deadwood.

That’s when God provided the most amazing experience of our trip. We found ourselves at the head of a line of traffic stopped by a herd of bison crossing the road.

baby bisonThese animals saw no need whatsoever to hurry across the road.

In fact, we were stopped for almost an hour as the bison stood in the road in front of us, snuggled against our front bumper, and peered into the windows of our RV.

If we were foolish enough, we could have reached out and touched them. We aren’t that foolish. 

In Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul, the male main character, Bealomondore, tries to explain to the female main character, Ellie, why Wulder has given them what Ellie considered the nice, but unnecessary, item of pie in their noon meal.

Bealomondore told Ellie, “Like a good father, Wulder delights in the pure pleasure of His children’s hearts.”

When Ellie still doesn’t get what he’s saying, Bealomondore explains further that Wulder delights in His people’s enjoyment of simple pleasures. Pie, being one of those pleasures.

Or a herd of bison so close you could touch them.

Our God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He lavishes his love upon us. God gives us more than the necessities of life. He gives us the nice, but non-essential, pleasures as well.

Why?

Because God delights in our enjoyment of what he gives.

The next time God gives us pie, in whatever form our specific pie may come, let’s enjoy it. That’s the reason for the gift, after all.

And don’t forget to say thanks.

What non-essential pieces of pie have you received lately?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17 NLT

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!