To some extent, we all want to do great things, and as Christians, we want to do great things for God. The further we travel, the more we spend, the deeper the sacrifice, the more people saved—the better. We look up to people who do those big things for God.
Then we look at what we do. It seems so small. So trivial. And no one notices.
Naaman had that attitude. In 2 Kings 5, Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times to be cured of his leprosy. Take a bath? That’s all? It wasn’t big enough, and Naaman reacted in anger. But his servants said, “’If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’” (2 Kings 5:13). Then Naaman did the little thing God asked, he was healed, and God was glorified in a big way.
We may not see the result of our service, but God does. If you’re serving the Lord, doing what He asks you to do—big or small—never allow yourself or others to minimize it. The smallest light can have a mighty impact.
“What’s your word of the year?”
This challenge came from our Christian radio station – to find a personal theme word of the year. I already had it. While I cringe at the idea that the Lord is bound by our calendar or that He communicates with everyone the same way, the past few years He has given me words, concepts that He impresses on me. First it was “holy” as He taught me about His holiness, and then it was “grace,” both His for me and the grace I’m to show to others.
This year it’s “abide.” Everywhere I look, this word pops up, a good sign God is trying to get through to me. In John 15:5 (NASB), Jesus says, “‘I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.'”
I want to bear fruit. I want to write and speak powerful words that teach people about the Lord and help them grow. I want to have a deep and positive impact on the people in my life.
But sometimes I get too wrapped up in the fruit-bearing…and neglect the Vine. How stupid is that? How can I produce any good work for the Lord without Him?
I can’t. And I don’t want to.
This year – and for the rest of my life – I want to concentrate on abiding in Jesus, attaching myself to my only source of life, of power, and of creativity.
How about you? Do you have a “word of the year” or something God is trying to teach you?
Most of us have a mental image of the ideal believer—shiny-faced, unquestioning, always good and cheerful and obedient. So what about those who struggle and grumble, doubt and disobey?
Sometimes God blesses them and makes nations out of them.
Jacob was no model of godly behavior. He lied and cheated and deceived. Talking to his father, Isaac, he referred to “the Lord your God.” Fleeing from his furious, betrayed brother Esau, Jacob made a brazen bargain with God: “’If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God’” (Genesis 28: 20-21). Twenty years later, Jacob returned home, laden with wives and children and flocks, and on the way, he physically wrestled with the Lord. And God told him, “’Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome’” (Genesis 32: 28). Only then did Jacob acknowledge the Lord as his God and build an altar to Him.
The name Israel means “he struggles with God.” The Lord chose this God-wrestler to be the father of a nation and to bless all the nations through his descendant Jesus.
Perhaps we should alter our mental image of the ideal believer to include those who struggle with God, ask the hard questions, take doubts to Him—and overcome.
How about you? Wrestled with God lately?
Good news for all of you who are involved in women’s ministries or who are authors. My friend Laura Wrede has started a new women’s ministry column in the Examiner, a national on-line newspaper. Please read her letter below:
My name is Laura Wrede and I have been writing for Examiner.com as a Travel writer for some time and was recently assigned the “National Women’s Ministry” column due to my education and experience (but most of all, I believe…God’s directing).
I feel I have been allowed the unique opportunity to take advantage of writing for a secular publication (with over 7 million readers and climbing) and offering a place where woman, who follow my column, can share their Christian worldview (this gives them a larger voice than a personal blog might).
I am creating a “guest spot” for authors and writers where I will highlight their work, ministry, and thoughts on what is relevant to today’s Christian Woman. If they have a personal website or blog, I would include a linkback in the source section.
In general this column is for all women who want to share their comments and be part of a larger online community where not everyone is Christian (a good testimony opportunity).
The way that examiner works is by popularity. The more people who look at the articles, subscribe and comment, the more popular that column is. The more popular…the more often it is found on the home page- page one where all see it, not just Christians searching for Christ focused reading. What an amazing witness opportunity!
Right now, the most read (popular) columns on examiner.com in the “Religion category” under “Lifestyles” are the Atheist columnist and the Humanist columnist!
I want to change that! And I need women like you to show the world that God is still alive and well and flourishing in the US. As Christians, we tend to stick to Christian publications, but miss the opportunity to give voice to our faith among the world!
From you and others, I am looking for the following:
1. Subscribe and follow the articles and Twitter them. Invite all your social contacts, friends, family, church members, etc. to do the same.
2. Comment on the content so that others can benefit from your point of view.
3. Suggest relevant topics concerning Women’s ministry and Women’s issues that you would like to see in print (emailed to me)
4. Suggest authors that deserve to have the spotlight on them for their work. The authors do not necessarily have to be well known, nationally published authors. In fact, we prefer to showcase little known, yet promising authors. If you feel that describes you, please do not be shy, tell me about you! (emailed to me)
5. Suggest a story of someone you know that would be an inspiration to other women in their faith (emailed to me).
6. Put a link to the column on your blog with a little blurb and invite others to subscribe.
I can only reach out to others, tell them about the opportunity, write what I beleive God wants me to share in the articles, and answer emails. I cannot do this alone, but together we can do it.
Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If so just pass on the instructions and link to others…spread the word and email me if you have any thing to share. Here is a link to one of my articles to check out.
Thank you so much for your interest and help in spreading the word. I look forward to hearing from you.
God Bless you,
National Women’s Ministry Writer, Examiner.com
I wanted to show you the faces of Haiti – before the quake – so we know who we’re praying for. Each year my husband, Dave, goes to Haiti with a group of men from our church to help with construction at a village school which also feeds hundreds of orphans every day. He’s grown to love these people deeply.
“White lies are harmless as long as you use good judgment.”
“You may tell a white lie to avoid discussion. But that only breeds mistrust and distance.”
These quotes from two marriage and family experts appeared in the article “’Fess up or Fib?” by Jessica Yadegaran in the Contra Costa Times on January 6, 2010. Which expert is right?
Lying is so easy. If I lie about my mistakes, I avoid the consequences. One little white lie about a friend’s new outfit and I make her happy. Conceal a purchase from my husband and he won’t lecture me about my spending habits. A well-told lie can make life feel smooth.
But lying becomes a habit. We feel more comfortable making mistakes, knowing we can talk our way out of them. Underlying issues grow in magnitude as necessary conflict is put off. Then we’re caught in a bald-faced lie, and trust is shattered. And trust shattered is not easily glued back together.
Truth is hard. But truth is right. Truth means owning up to our mistakes. Truth means finding a creative way to compliment a friend even if we don’t care for her fashion sense. Truth means opening up to those we love, exposing ourselves to the pain of conflict—and to growth.
Let’s look to the only Expert who matters. God never condones lying, even little white lies. Rather, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12: 22). The story of Jacob and Rebekah deceiving Isaac for his blessing shows the disastrous results of lying—anger, threatened murder, and a family fractured.
As in most things, God calls us to the difficult road. Truth requires humility, creativity, and hard work. But it’s always worth it.
Click on the link below to find out the winner of the 3-strand string of pearls from the 12 Pearls of Christmas contest – no, it wasn’t one of my readers.
Nothing says New Year’s Eve like a list! Here are my favorite reads from 2009 in alphabetical order. It was hard enough to pick only ten, much less rank them. This is why I don’t do book reviews.
1. Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner
A lovely story of a woman jilted at the altar, who opens a secondhand wedding dress boutique. Susan Meissner writes beautifully, and the story has both humor and depth.
2. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry
All I can say is, “Wow!” This debut novel is about a troubled marriage shaken up by a horrible accident. I was pulled in by realistic characters, original writing, and plenty of unexpected twists.
3. The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz
On the Kentucky frontier, a girl comes to age in a dangerous land. In her debut novel, Laura Frantz sets the right balance between a beautifully crafted story with interesting characters and plenty of fascinating historical detail.
4. Home Another Way by Christa Parrish
A young woman comes home to a small mountain town to claim her inheritance and comes to grips with her past. This heroine may be the prickliest I ever met, but Christa Parrish is such a gifted writer, you care about this heroine deeply.
5. Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson
A young Quaker woman helps runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, and tries to keep her distance from an attractive, outspoken abolitionist who could threaten her work. Melanie Dobson drew me in with a compelling heroine living in secrecy. Her writing conveys historical detail that enhances and never distracts from the story.
6. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
The first wife of King David has always fascinated me, so I loved seeing her come to life in Jill Eileen Smith’s gifted hands. Full of detail about life in biblical times and a good read about a conflicted woman.
7. The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill
A teenage girl is trying to get to California to go to college, but her colorful mother waylays her plans at every turn. With her blend of quirky characters and laugh-outloud humor, Patti Hill is one of my favorite authors. See if you don’t both hate and love the mother – and feel for the daughter.
8. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
A young widow begins to hear her dead husband’s voice – is she losing her mind or is there some deep secret she’s hiding from herself? Bonnie Grove’s debut novel is a well-written page-turner.
9. The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
I hesitate to pick up novels set during World War II because I often find historical inaccuracy. However, this novel was both well-researched and delightfully written. This is a poignant story of a little boy who loses his mother and the crotchety grandfather forced to take him in.
10. Yesterday’s Embers by Deborah Raney
A whirlwind romance leads to a troubled blended home, and Deborah Raney portrays both parts of the story with realism and talent. Deborah Raney is another of my favorite authors with her heartfelt stories in beautiful prose.
And for 2010? I can’t wait!