Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

I think we are officially in the season of fall….<3

It is a gray and windy fall day here on the prairie. 

Which suits this Monday following a full weekend of family and being on the go. 

We enjoyed a visit from our Rochester branch that included taking in a soccer game for Graham

and dinner here at our house afterwards.

Church before sending Randy and Sonja on their way was followed by some hangs with three of the four while Emmett went to a birthday party.

It all ended with a drive home through a wild storm that made for quite a bit and so today I am looking forward to the routines of the start of the week. 

The washer is humming, food is waiting to be prepped in the fridge and the dust and lint are crying out for a good cleaning. 

Over the weekend I started in the New Testament for the annual read through of the Bible. I love the direct language of The Message most of all when I hit the New Testament. 

As Eugene Peterson took the Greek and put into our every day vernacular, I find the speech to be refreshing and to the point. 

Yesterday and today I worked through the chapters referred to as The Sermon on the Mount. 

Many passages were underlined from previous readings, but I found myself marking up even more and then adding emphasis to those already noted. 

There are so many I want to share, and may come back to this week, but for today I was particularly struck by this passage in chapter 9.

Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.”

Matthew 9: 35-37 The Message

I am struck with both the image of picturing Jesus 2,000 years ago visiting what towns and villages looked like in the Middle East and yet I cannot help but contrast that with what towns and villages look like now. 

In the Middle East and the Midwest and the coasts and the countries and nations that make up our world. 

Still the same in so many ways, as people are diseased and bruised and hurt and confused and aimless. 

So I read on in the passage to see what his call of action was/is.

“What a huge harvest!” He said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

Matthew 9:38 The Message

Verse 10 begins with the announcement that no sooner was the prayer prayed, then it was answered and Jesus called his 12 and sent them out giving them power to “kick out evil spirits and to tenderly care for bruised and hurt lives.”

I pause and ask myself a hard question. 

I no doubt can look at the landscape of humanity and see what Jesus saw. 

But am I seeing only the despair and not the potential of a great harvest? 

Am I getting down on my knees and asking God to raise up workers?

hmmmm….much to ponder on this fall day. 

I am going to focus on directing my efforts and energy away from discouragement and into prayer for more workers.

More and more for the harvest is great here and around the world.

Blessings, my friends, as you heed the words of Jesus and pray. 

Tis Harvest season…and we are equipped to bring it in bountifully for God <3

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To pray for a shepherd’s heart…. <3

For my Monday reading I was in Ezekiel 34 and I know I have a tendency to say this is a favorite passage, but this is a favorite…and for a dear reason.

A number of years ago, I taught a small class of about five to ten adults at our church. There was another well-established class that met at the same time and had for years. Their teacher decided God was calling him to step down and so I was asked if I would consider taking over that class for him and blending it with ours. 

As the words of a firm but polite decline were forming in my head, I heard instead words that sounded like my voice talking being audibly that were affirming yes, indeed, I would love to take that class on. 

In a slightly stunned state of shock, I saw the pastor who had asked me nod in an assured way and thank me as he walked off. I turned my attention to God and asked what in the world had just happened, and I told Him I knew that had to be Him and He better show up big time in this thing we had just signed on for. 

Shortly after I started teaching to the larger group, I realized that I absolutely could not stay on top of that many people. In our small class, I was adequately able to remember prayer requests and feel like I knew my class. This new deal was just way over the top for me. 

And then I read Ezekiel 34. 

Have you read it? 

Please do. 

In this chapter, God tells us what shepherds are supposed to do and what a good and a bad shepherd look like.

As I read those passages and thought about the people who were now sitting under my teaching every week, I prayed and asked God to give me a shepherd’s heart. I prayed that I would not muddy the water where they needed to drink.

I prayed for a heart that valued what He valued when responsible for a group of people.

It was a big prayer, and He answered it. Faithfully. For many years after that. 

A shepherd is supposed to:

  • Build up the weak ones
  • Heal the sick
  • Doctor the injured
  • Go after the strays
  • Look for the lost

It’s a tall order. 

No one does the shepherd job as well as Jesus, but with His help, we can do a fairly good job of at least trying. 

God answered my prayer by expanding my heart and my time to take in the needs of others.

He enlarged my heart to love those who sat in the seats every Sunday morning and to notice things about them.

He helped me remember their family members’ names and situations that were hard for them. 

He gave me joy in their wins and compassion in their losses.

He gave me just what I needed to welcome the most unexpected visitors to our circle over the years and He filled me with discernment when a wolf or two decided to try and enter the fold. 

This year on my read-through of the Bible, I realized that just because I no longer have a regular class that meets once a week, I still need to/have to/must pray for a shepherd’s heart. 

You do too. 

All of you have some people around you who need to know they are loved and cared for.

You can’t do it in your own strength.

So read Ezekiel 34 and jot down the things a shepherd is and isn’t and then pray for God to give you a shepherd’s heart. 

Then rest up. 

Because I have found that when He answers that prayer, you will need a lot of energy to tend those sheep He brings your way. 

Blessings my friend. 

We need more people with the heart of a shepherd. 

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Oh Jeremiah…you never disappoint….

Oh guys…I have to share this with you or I will burst. 

I know I have read these passages before, because my Bible was all marked up with them. But every time I read this I just get goose bumps so here is the story. 

All through the book of Jeremiah, God has him do kind of odd and unusual things that carry a lesson and message for the people of Israel. In chapter 35, God has Jeremiah prepare a banquet in a very public setting in the Temple and invite a group of people who have recently arrived in Jerusalem from the country areas. 

They are called the Recabites, and they are a family of metal workers who live as nomads. The commentary from Eugene Peterson helps explain that they are descended from a man named Jonadab son of Recab. The art of metal work was full of skills and knowledge that this family guarded carefully. The entire focus for generations had been solely on mining ore, refining into metal and shaping into weapons, tools and chariots. 

This meant no farming or settling dow as they moved to wherever the resources and work were located. They were careful about who they let into the family through marriage and they did not drink wine because as Peterson points out, even in the Middle East in Jeremiah’s time….loose lips sink ships. 

So God has Jeremiah set up the dining table with not only a meal, but also goblets and vessels of wine. To which the Recabites say, no thank you. When asked why they will not partake, they simply state that their ancestor, Jonadab commanded them  and our children to never drink wine.

Now this is not a teaching on abstinence from alcohol. This is message for the people of God in Jeremiah’s time about obedience. God speaks to His people and points out that this family has followed the directives of their founding father throughout the generations and even in this time when they have had to flee from their nomadic life and seek shelter inside the city walls of Jerusalem. 

He questions the Israelites…if they can be obedient through all these generations, why can’t you? 

Peterson ends his commentary on this portion of the book of Jeremiah with words that resonate with me in this day and age. We are living in times of great violence, upheaval and conflict. 

He points out that the Recabites had lived in obedience to Jonadab’s command for 250 years and the sudden friendship with the people of Jerusalem didn’t change that. They didn’t worry about offending their host and benefactor. 

We are called to be in the world, but not of the world and Peterson’s words give me a call to action that I want to pass along to you:

“The essence of Jeremiah’s message was: ‘The Recabites are ordinary, mortal human beings, and they’ve been living in obedience for 250 years. You also have a way of life that requires certain disciplines to maintain its character. The disciplines involve your decisions about the way you live: worshiping regularly, being faithful in prayer, tithing, caring for the poor, living morally and pursuing righteousness.’”

“Jeremiah raised weighty questions about our unreflective way of going about our well-defined jobs – jobs that become lives shaped and sanctioned by the crowd. Any time we turn over part of our lives to the crowd, we become less human, less alive. On the other hand, every time we retrieve a part of our lives from the crowds and respond to God’s call to us, we’re that much more ourselves, more human. Every time we reject the habits of the crowd and practice  the disciplines of faith, we become a little more alive.” 

Eugene Peterson, The Message commentary on Jeremiah 35

I used to say to our teenagers…look at the what the world is doing and what you are doing? Are you looking more like the world than a follower of Christ? 

And then I would have to turn the magnifying glass back on myself as God would ask me the same question. 

It is not hard to follow the crowd these days. 

They are loud and persuasive and almost bullying. 

The world is no longer inviting us to join in, it is threatening us not to. 

Please review the list of things Jeremiah reminded the people of God marked them as characteristically different:

Worshiping regularly

Being faithful in prayer


Caring for the poor

Living morally

Pursuing righteousness

Think of the Recabites today when you are invited to partake in some kind of activity or conversation or argument or agenda or entertainment and weigh your choices based on your obedience to God, not on the habits of the crowd. 

Bless you…please forgive typos…read for common sense til I can edit. 

You are precious…live well <3

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