Who’s the boss…the age old question <3

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This week has provided some extra time to catch up on the Nehemiah study, so it seems my thoughts continue to center around sharing some nuggets mined from the depths of Kelly Minter’s summer offering thought Lifeway. 

While the videos that are provided with this special series are current, the material in the  guide is copywriter dated in 2012. I had to double check because I keep thinking she wrote it as this year of 2020 has been unfolding. 

This morning she was talking about imagining what it was like for the Jews to be deported – leaving behind everything familiar to them. Their customs and traditions – all the things that made up their daily life and seasons. 

As I read her words I couldn’t help penning in the margin, “We are kind of there.” Our daughter’s family, like the rest of the country, are making hard decisions about the coming school year. Teachers, administrators and staff are working out all kinds of possible ways to educate children online and in class. 

While we would be registering and wondering who teachers are, perusing the school supplies and starting to adjust sleep schedules to accommodate the upcoming transition, all is in flux.

The buzz is about not judging choices made by others. Some parents are working around work and family members who need to be protected from exposure due to immunity issues. And all of this is happening knowing that in a heartbeat the well calculated plans may get shut down. Literally. 

We just don’t know. And to be honest, we are not good with unknowns. We like to “know” and by “know” we mean, not only be well-informed but be omniscient. We want to have all the information and make everything work the way we want it to work. 

But it is times like these that remind us – we never really knew…we aren’t meant to be omniscient…we are not in control. 

Trust and obey…live in the times you are placed in. Build relationships, love well, give generously and do what you can do leave the rest in the hands of God <3

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Sometimes we are not all in this together, even if we are wearing the same t-shirt <3

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Much to do today so a quick thought gleaned from Nehemiah study yesterday. While it is quick and brief, it packs a punch that is hard to take and knocks the breath out of me a bit. 

At the end of Chapter Six the repairs of the wall around Jerusalem has been completed in a mere 52 days. Nehemiah still has some fine details to wrap up; like installing the doors in the gates and rebuilding the houses so people can actually move back into the city. 

His nemesis from the beginning of the project, a fellow named Tobiah was still working hard to discourage him even though it was clear that God had helped the Jews do a nearly impossible task in record time. But the shocker is, this man from Samaria has help and it is coming from the Jewish nobles. 

It would seem Tobiah had married into the family and made some friends who were willing to team up with him to intimidate Nehemiah. They possibly liked what Tobiah could do for them economically. The nobles of the area were writing letters to Nehemiah telling about all the good things Tobiah had done and Tobiah was writing letters to intimidate Nehemiah from finishing. 

In the study, Kelly Minter pointed out that these letters would be the equivalent of our texts, emails and social media posts. As I was studying this yesterday and taking it in, I noted in the margin of my Bible that I need to remember not everyone who is in the faith community is at odds with those who are opposed to God’s plan, will and the callings He places on leaders. Others who would seem to be on the same team as me have agendas that God’s plan may interfere with

Kelly puts it like this:

“Good deeds, whatever they may be, never trump a heart that deceives, mocks or uses intimidation.” 

Kelly Minter, Nehemiah a Heart that can Break; Lifeway Press 2012, pg 83

I want to make sure my heart is aligned with my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to make sure I don’t get confused and assign “godliness” to the good works of someone and become deceived by a leader whose heart is not set on what God’s heart is set on. And I want to make sure my own heart is guarded against that which would compromise what I know to be true, nor to cower when intimidated by anyone or anything that distracts me from God’s clear calling. 

I pray we will have discernment and focus as we walk out this journey <3

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The cycle that is our story <3

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If you check in regularly, my annual read-through of the Bible has me in Jeremiah lately. I am also enjoying the summer study of Nehemiah with Kelly Minter that Lifeway is offering. 

It is an interesting contrast and compliment to each other this week as Jeremiah is warning the people about the coming exile for their disobedience and Nehemiah is obediently returning after the 70 plus years to help rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. 

Disobedience and obedience. Warnings with promises. The people who were exiled and the ones who got called back after the exile. It is so clear that obedience paves the way to better living and not because God is full of ego and rewards us if we do things His way. 

No, it is that His way is better and in obedience our lives will be better. He isn’t asking us to do things because He likes to boss us around. He is telling us how to live because He knows what is best. 

As a parent and grandparent I can understand this so well. But I am also a child and often I want to do things my way. Often I think I know best; or at least what is in my best interest. And that is just the thing. 

Children, and we all are children, will choose the easiest, most appealing to their way of thinking, methods for doing all things. And if you have ever spent more than ten minutes trying to corral children, you know this is never a good or “successful for the majority and well-being of everyone including the child” plan. 

It is so easy to see willfulness and stubbornness in others but not ourselves. That is one of the things I love about reading through the Bible each year. God doesn’t sugar-coat His story. All the characters that make up His-story are flawed and have baggage. 

Except one. 

God’s Word is a constant cycle of our sin and rebellion, His grace, our repentance, His restoration. The pattern exists in ever decade of history, every society, every human. Over and over. 

Sin – separation – mercy – grace – conviction – repentance – forgiveness – restoration. 

What are you reading in God’s Word lately that speaks to you right where you are ?

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