Tag Archives: Mark Batterson

BREADCRUMBS: The End – not!

When you get to the end, subtle He is not.

Now when I am driving down the highway minding my own business, singing in a cracking, raspy voice along with the Greatest Showman CD playing loudly my car, I really am not looking to hear from God. That is when the first car passes me.

It has 3 7’s on it’s license plate. I love 3 7’s together. It is considered by many as a sign of completion. I always notice because I was born on the 7th day, and the parents always had VM777 on their license plate. (Isn’t strange how we remember such trivial things?) My brother has 3 7’s in his phone number. Needless to say, whenever I see 3 7’s together, I have to smile and say a little prayer for all the 3 7’s I know. This is not a rarity. I see 3 7’s quite often. The next car that passed me was something I’ve never seen.

Car #2 had a bumper sticker that said “Blessings!Be!” – Spelled just like that – exclamation points included. Blue background – yellow letters – bold crazy font. I can still see it plain as day in my memory. “Blessings!Be!” is something that I use often when I talk or write to people.  Seeing it on a bumper sticker – exactly the way I write it – made me laugh out loud because I have never seen a bumper sticker like that.  However – it was car #3 that made me begin to ponder and turn off the CD player.

The third consecutive car that passed me on our local freeway yesterday had a license plate that said, “MRS K – LOL”. Now seriously, when I have been called “Mrs. K.” for almost all of my teaching career, how could I not sit up a little straighter and think about all these things?  How could I ignore the crazy randomness of these three cars without thinking about it? It is my nature to ponder strange things. Always have. From earliest childhood till now, I ask more questions than I ever find answers.

“Wisdom is knowing how much you don’t know. So you have to start there and ask God to teach you.” M Batterson, p223, Day 40 in Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge

Tonight, I finished watching Passion of the Christ. I am not strong enough to watch it without many breaks and lots of tears. To think of what He sacrificed for us is beyond my comprehension. But I do know, that everything in the OT from the first letter to the last letter points to the “Son”. In fact – I read somewhere that the first Hebraic letter and the last letter put together spell “ben” or “son”. Everything in the NT – all that Jesus said and did – points us back to the “Father”.

“LORD, teach us to pray.” ~Lk 11:1

After the Grands and Hubby left today, I began digging up old rotten fence posts and rails that had been buried under years of rotting leaves, dirt, and gravel. It was not fun. I got dirty and sore. My knees crackled here and there. I prayed against finding a poisonous snake or spider. Wore my gloves and used a shovel to prod at things before I reached blindly into the mess, However, I did uncover a rather plump, gray mouse, who, strangely, didn’t run, but more or less, gave me nasty looks for destroying her home and moved under the next pile of leaves and wood until it was all gone. She flung one last look at me and wiggled under the last batch of leaves between two tree roots.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” ~Lk 24:5-7

Tomorrow – or even tonight when I walk the dogs off the porch (since in Jewish eyes we are already celebrating Sunday), I will look up to the sky. I will remember to seek Him who is living with my prayers, and when I don’t know what to pray, I will recite the abc’s and let Our Father put them together into prayers He knows I wanted to say – needed to say. 
God knows where we are… 
Even driving down a freeway… 
Even when we are not thinking about Him at all…
Even when we are deep in our own sin…
And in these latter days – God is not subtle – His knock at your door is happening and the Breadcrumbs continue to drop.

He has risen.

Day 40 – Prayer Alphabet

Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do. And if you’re anything like me, my best is not good enough. Without the Holy Spirit’s help, I’m below average. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Keep praying and believing that the best is yet to come!
Mark Batterson   

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BREADCRUMBS: Blessed Day

Whoop!Whoop! Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle caught a full-sized mouse last night. She left it smack-dab in the middle of the hallway and was curled into a ball at the foot of our bed just waiting to be proud when we woke up. 

Annnnnnddddddd…we were. Nature when left alone works very well, and SSS got tuna for breakfast. Who knew we needed a cat? I think you know how I would answer that one.

Today was a totally God blessed day from start to finish. I spent a lot of time being “churched” today. This is a saying I picked up when I was in our small gospel choir in Saxapahaw. The ladies and the choir leaders would use it when they were feeling the Spirit moving among us as we prayed at the start of choir – sang in the Spirit – and at the end of choir when we prayed in the Spirit again.

“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.”~Dan 9:4

While it was still sort of windy outside, the Spirit inside was so much stronger. He reminded me to circle Daniel 9 in prayer again- – – ALAT – As Long Asit Takes (which is an acronym that Mark Batterson used in “The Circle Maker”). With my Gemini nature, I have to work really hard not to flit hither and yon. So I wrote it down in my prayer journal and circled it. Hopefully, I will stick at it ALAT in the days to come.

“But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets.”~Dan 9:9-10

Other than that, didn’t really do much. Read devotions. Spent time catching up with some of my favorite TV ministers. Worked on our front deck for a few hours – stain/painting. (Do you realize arthritis really doesn’t like that chore – especially those individual picket thingies that seemed to have multiplied today?). Played with the dogs and kitty as we walked around the yard. Read some more. Cooked a chicken, potatoes and gravy. (yum) Carried on some conversations with friends that make me smile. And just finished up watching: “Let There Be Light”.

“Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth.”~Dan 9:13b

Great movie. Reminded me how much I loved Dionne Warwick back in the day, so I ordered some CD’s. Perfect ending to a perfect day. Kitty curled in my side. Puppies looking at me ready to walk outside one last time and then get a toothbrush treat which they love. Hubby snoring. Me? Yawning big time and ready for saying goodnight to God before I close my eyes for the night.

Breadcrumbs have been dropping hinting at new things, but for today, I was given peace, blessings, and many, many God-winks. And for that, I am oh-so thankful. I needed a day like today. Who knew? I guess you know the answer to that one again.

God is in the world. The Spirit is blowing – sometimes pretty hard. The Son stands beside us with grace in His hand. Who could ask for more? So my wish for all of you is to “have a blessed day” for yourselves some time this week.

“O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”~Dan 9:19

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Sanctuary 2015

mothers day 2015 b“When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply…”

When I read this Bible verse today, it caught me. I continue to read and re-read because it holds so much truth for me today. There is just so much about life we don’t understand. Why our loved ones have to die long before we truly understand how important they are to our lives. Why our children grow up way long before we are ready for them to soar out of our everyday lives. Or even – why doesn’t everyone think the way we do? That is probably the most vexing, right?

“till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.” — Psalm 73:16–17

mother day 2015aThen there are weekends like this one. Weekends that remind me where my true sanctuary lies. Long talks with the Grands curled into my arms as we play tic-tac-toe with hearts and angels. “Face” time and yakky calls with the grown kid-lets over the thousands of miles between us. Hugs and laughter from the newly “mastered” daughter. A single rose from the garden that my hubby put in glass to bless our table. A large double peony from my mama’s garden transplanted from OH to NC which bloomed for the very first time this weekend. It is His Sanctuary…the family…a mobile sanctuary that He created for us; to help us endure the turmoil created by our own free will.

This weekend, (just by chance? I think not. Thank you, Father.),I started a new images (1)devotional by Mark Batterson, Praying Circles Around the Lives of your Children. The funny thing is – that the more I read it, the more I realize that it isn’t just about praying circles around your children. It is about praying circles around all those that are in your family circle…and your extended family circle…and in your extended- extended family circle…and even – for your extended heavenly family circle. Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Steps, bio or adopted, friends, pets……….

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt ~18:18

1951Today was a special day. Not because it had an official title declared by Congress. Not because of the gifts (although an xoxox typerwriter bracelet, fresh fruit and flowered book bags are, indeed, treats that I treasure). It is rather, the voices on the other end of a phone, the hand-written card/blog/statuses, the mama flower that bloomed it’s fragrance once again, a single rose, each individual effort that reachs out and binds our familial circle a little tighter here on earth and in heaven.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everyt situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

My sanctuary stands firmly upon its foundational rock tonight. It cradles me as I pray and binds my prayers around those I love. Those things that were troubling me, trouble me no longer for I understand the final destiny has already been beheld by the One who created us all and my soul basks in that perfect LOVE. Needless to say, I am feeling humbled and blessed.

RESURRECTION

10953672_846323232080949_375399929_nFinished The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson tonight. I was actually trying to drag it out so it would last throughout the Lenten season, but every time I opened the book, I just couldn’t keep my eyes from straying to one more page – one more segment – one more chapter. Mark Batterson is passing on a message. There is a Grave Robber, and He robbed the grave – not once – but twice.

“Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life.”~Jn 11:25

No pussy-footing around at this point. No subtle metaphors. Just a statement of fact; “I am the resurrection…” Can you imagine standing next to a man you have known for awhile and listening to these words come out of his mouth? Can you put yourself in that moment? How would you react?

I keep trying to picture myself in Martha and Mary’s place. Resurrection? What batterson_sharpie_5x5WEB__52543.1415291539.500.750the heck does he mean by that anyway? Did they already know – deep within themselves – that Rabbi Yeshua was the Messiah or were they still trying to get their head around the fact that he MIGHT be the Messiah? People had been talking about the Messiah for years. Every generation thinks the Messiah will come to them. How many doubts darted around their minds every day? I like to think if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t think he was crazy and look around to see if others were thinking the same thing. I like to think I would have the discernment to see the Messiah standing right in front of me. But, truth be told, I’m not sure I would. I’m a pretty healthy skeptic, and no one in this world raises anyone from the dead.

In that moment, the Grave Robber looks at the sisters of Lazarus and through his own tears reveals the truth of who He truly is. “I am the resurrection and the life.” He knows what lays ahead as He says these words. Are his tears just for Lazarus, or are they also for another moment that is coming all too soon? The people gathered by the tomb are the ones cloest to him. He loves them well. He bore all the temptations, pain and fears of any man that had walked earth for 33 years…maybe more. But…and this is the stumbling block for many – he was the WORD. He had prepared the soil for this exact moment. Parables and smaller miracles had tilled and fertized in the soil of these people. It was time to plant the seed and see if it would bear fruit.

“Jesus said to her, “…whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jn 11:26

I wonder if Matha hesitated at this crucial moment. I wonder if she looked at Mary and the others before she answered. I wonder how I would have answered Rabbi Yeshua in that exact moment. I hope, I pray once again that I would have had a Matha moment and replied as strongly and confidently as she did because it is a question he asks of all of us…….even in our oh-so-wise-technologically-advanced society……..today. “Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Jn 11:27

[Google images]graave robber

 

DICHOTOMY

sunset mar 16 2015aI don’t know what it was that drew me outside tonight. The geese were talking down by the lake. There was a basketball bouncing somewhere on one of the other cul-de-sacs. A bird was singing in one of our oak trees in the front yard. Soft voices of our neighbors drifted up from the lake. But I don’t think it was any of those things, that pulled me away from the comfy chair.  I think it was the quietness of G-d.

I stepped out on our tiny front porch and looked toward the east. The typical deep blues and grays were overcast with an even deeper purple as the approaching night crept closer. Turning west took my breath away. Aquas, Carolina blues, ribbons of pinks stretching the length of the horizon while a lone goose soared, looking for the perfect place to sleep away the night.

“Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have shelters, but The Son of Man does not have a place to lay his head.”~Lk9:58 (ABPE)

You have to understand, I don’t take many pictures. That was mom’s job. She lovedsunset mar 16 2015f taking pictures – sharing them with her friends and relatives – capturing the moment that she saw with her artistic eye. Instead, I tend to absorb the moment, treasure it in my heart; maybe pulling it out to write about it at some later time. Yet tonight, I turned back to the house and grabbed my phone.Not content to snap one picture, I ventured (in my barefeet, no less) out into the yard. I wanted to capture the eastern sky as much as the western sky. The dichotomy of the two pulled sharply at me, but the camera’s eye couldn’t catch the mingling darkness tinged with the fading rays. So I settled for snapping pictures of the final evolving colors in the west.

Yet, in between the snaps, I kept turning back to the eastern sky. It pulled me in as much as the western sky. Back and forth. Back and forth. Until it dawned on me. It was the lion and lamb dichotomy.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” ~Is 11:6

I have loved this section of Isaiah since I was a child. Actually, Isaiah uses this same contrasting picture of different animals several times in his book. Before the house burned, I had a print of this verse hanging in our house. It was done, not in full color, but through the eye of a brown lens. The lion, the lamb, the curly headed child. It was a treasure that couldn’t be replaced.

Recently, as I was reading Mark Batterson’s The Grave Robber, the Holy Spirit drew a different picture in my mind. This was not just a picture of things to come – not just a picture of our return to the habitat that G-d envisioned when He placed us in the Garden – but it was also a picture of Christ himself. When the WORD became flesh the first time as Rabbi Yeshua, He had to come as a LAMB. The world was a pretty violent place…crucifixions, beheadings, wars… His people needed to see how His Father’s LOVE could change a world – could change our sin nature. And it did…off and on – bright spots in a long history of darkness – for a while.

But as seems to be the case, we often choose the idols even when we know better – even when we have been shown perfect LOVE. It is much easier to love the ease of idols rather than strive to perfect ourselves. It is much easier to excuse our weaknesses rather than strive to correct them. It is once again, a violent world – crucifixions, beheadings, wars….

When the Messiah Christ comes again, He will show another side of His personality- the LION. 2000+ years ago, we were shown His great LOVE, and still – we ignore the wisdom He taught. We walk away. We hide our face. We cover ourselves with leaves of excuses. We have lost our innocence – our righteousness. Only a LION’s roar will be able to break through our cacophony and lead us back to Our Father’s habitat that He designed just for us.

Tonight was a dichotomy of G-d’s making – darkness on one side – light beckoning on the other. The choice is ours. The LION is coming.

“…Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” ~Matt 6:10peace

Baby Sparrows Addendum

Shhhh….it’s a secret and you can’t tell the Grands…yet.

I’ve been watching this secret all week. I wish now that I had taken pictures, but true to form, I never think of pictures until it is much later. Until today, that is. Today I managed to think ahead (a little) and snap a picture memory.

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After the week we had with baby birds at the daughter’s house, I was not surprised to see what was happening at my house. God is like that. When He is teaching me a lesson, it usually doesn’t come via one experience. He knows me all too well. Knowledge is one thing – wisdom is a whole ‘nother thing…..and sometmes with me….God knows He has to put it in my face in more than one way. I doubt. I question. I backtrack. I wimp out.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” Heb 11:1

A few weeks back one of my sons posted about a music study completed by the Berlin Academy of Music that determined it takes tens of thousands of hours to become a world class soloist in any field. Now this doesn’t take into account savants or prodigies, but it does reflect most of us. So today, I wasn’t surprised when my preacher started talking about the same things that Our Father has been impressing in my hard head all week, and it all started with baby birds.

If you read that earlier post, you know it didn’t end well for the baby birds. The Grands were sad, but fascinated as well…(especially with the bright blue eyeball that popped out of one of them after the dog discovered it….sigh). Yet, at the same time that was happening – just a few miles away at my house – another set of bird parents were building a nest. Their vision of the perfect nest is different. They put it in a low tree that is no higher than my chin. Tonight, I took a picture of the four eggs that are resting in it.

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“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Prov 29:18

Now I can see all sorts of potential problems with this nest placement. There are roaming cats in the neighborhood (and this would be a very easy climb); the dogs and I are always around that tree when we are playing ball and could knock the tree; and scarier for everyone – the Grands will be putting their face in it – every minute – of every day – when they find out. However, the mommy and daddy birds have a vision – a goal – a plan…and what they have accomplished in a week is truly a miracle in progress. The parents built their nest in faith and nothing pleases God more than that…especially when humans – the ones He “made in Our own image” – seek their dreams – set their goals – step out in faith.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb 12:1b

It’s not always easy. The first set of birds lost two of their three young ones. Who knows what life will bring to this new set of birds. What I do know is that they act on their faith. They act with perseverance. If something happens to this nest, they will build again. They will put in hours and hours of achieving and mastering their dream.

Today, my preacher said, “The God of the Bible is a dreamer.” Those words have been following me all day. Daily we make choices that either follow the dreams that we are seeking or ignore them. Different times in our lives, we re-evaluate, modify our dreams or re-set them altogether. Think of those times that shook your life – junior high, high school, college, marriage, retirement, a death in the family – these are the times when dreams are shaken, modified or changed.

For me this past year has been one of those time. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no “retirement” in the Bible or in God’s design. Whether we are birds of the air or humans “made in Our own image”, we need to PERSIST in dreaming and seeking the vision of our lives. So here I go. Circling the dream and persisting in that “even though” faith. It is easy to coast through the day, going from one “busyness” to another “busyness”. It is entirely something else to be like Martha who watched her brother die and then waited four days for Jesus to arrive.

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. EVEN NOW, I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” John 11:21

It’s time to have that “EVEN NOW” faith and get on with the dreaming. BTW – don’t tell the Grands yet. I’m still enjoying this secret between me and Our Father.

A Shard of Faith

Storms of LifeA day without anything on the schedule is rare for me – even in retirement. Today was one of those days. The Grands are loving on their other grandparents. Daughter and husband are enjoying being hosts. So I putzed in the garden, worked on dad’s memory book of artifacts and pictures, read a little, worked a jigsaw puzzle, read a little more, planned a trip to Boston to see an old friend, mapped out a tentative trip to OH/MI, and finally decided to get a family doctor…are you bored yet? But through it all, found an hour to spend reading the WORD – which I sorely needed.

After that I spent some time reading “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. It makes me think about how I pray. It is easy to say the words – “I’ll pray for you…I’m praying for you..You’re in my prayers…” and then follow through by writing it down in my prayer journal and saying a small prayer at some point during the day. A vague prayer spoken in response to someone’s need. Does God listen and answer vague prayers? I’ve been thinking about this all weekend.

I decided that I think He does…especially when it concerns someone else’s needs. He knows that we don’t know the specifics in those cases, but He honors the love being shown to His children by listening and honoring even our short prayers. However – Batterson makes the point that Jesus stressed being being specific when we come before Him in prayer for ourselves.

“As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.” Matt 20:29-34

He knew they wanted to be healed so that they could see, and yet – He asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Batterson states: “Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers result in a well-lived life.” p25

I don’t know about you – but when it comes to answering Christ’s question -“What do you want me to do for you?” – I am not so well-defined. I stutter. I croak. I cringe. But over the past few days – I’m trying to find the words. I’m trying to “spell” them out in a more definitive way because that is how faith grows. If I have faith enough to trust My Father to approach Him in prayer, I should have faith enough to be specific. Get logic out of the way. Get the “reasonable” words out of the way. I don’t have to “justify” His potential answers. Just lay it before Him and KNOW that while His answers may NOT be my answers – His answers are ALWAYS the BEST answers.

I love it when My Father allows me to catch a glimpse – out of the corner of my eye – of a shard of truth. I continue to pick them up whenever I am blessed to find them – and the amazing thing is – they fit together so perfectly that they are no longer individual broken pieces. They have just become a more beautiful shard – still small – still incomplete – but growing larger and larger as my faith grows.

“Often during a busy day
I pause for a minute to silently pray.
I mention the names of those I love
And treasured friends I am fondest of —-
For it doesn’t matter where we pray
If we honestly mean the words we say,
For God is always listening to hear
The prayers that are made by a heart that’s sincere.” Helen Steiner Rice