The Surprises of 2017

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I had no idea.  I’ve been thinking about how life with God is such an adventure.  Last January 1st I spent time reflecting on the previous year, and in prayer.  God gave me Hebrews 11:8 as a theme verse for the year.  Then on January 2nd I read this in My Utmost for His highest:

Heb118 I didn’t know what was next.  I wasn’t expecting anything unusual really.  Then in March I spent a weekend with Sandy Richter, and two weeks later I knelt on the grave of Paul in Rome and the words that came out of my mouth were, “Lord, help me be faithful to preach the Word, in season and out of season.”  (Is the Word ever out-of-season?!)  In April I applied to seminary, in May I was accepted at Asbury, in June I stood in the pulpit on a Sunday morning as a guest speaker for the first time, and in September I started classes.  A year ago seminary was not on my To Do List, and here I am one semester into the game.

I still don’t know what’s next, other than the Inductive Study of Mark class I registered for this spring.  I really am enjoying being in seminary, but I don’t have an end game… In fact, not knowing “why” makes school a continual faith exercise… I am here because I am obedient, not because I have a plan.  As long as I check-in with The Master Planner on a regular basis, He will certainly keep me headed in the right direction.

My verse for 2018 is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  I wonder what the new year holds… I wonder if I am already standing ankle deep in the rising river waters?  Last January I didn’t give my theme verse much thought, this year I am paying attention!

Tell your story – How has God been busy in your life this last year?

The Magnificent Obsession

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Five stars – absolutely!  I highly recommend Anne Graham Lotz’s book The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life.  It’s a LotzCoverpersonal look at the life of Abraham from when God called him to leave Haran until Abraham sent a servant back to Haran to get a wife for Isaac.

If you can, I would take a full nine weeks to work through each chapter, reading the parallel text in Genesis, and making time to discuss what you are learning with a friend or small group.  The text needs to be digested slowly.  Our book club’s biggest problem was that we only had a few hours to talk about all the things in the book that had impacted us!

I was fascinated to see how members of our group were affected by different phases of Abraham’s life:

  • Women enduring a season of upheaval and change were challenged to let go and leave it all behind and follow God through periods of uncertainty,
  • Mothers of prodigal children were challenged to “lay down their Isaac” and let God be in control (in fact, we were all challenged to let God be in control!!),
  • Women in mourning over the loss of a spouse, a marriage, or years in the wilderness found comfort and hope while reflecting on the faithfulness of God and particularly the death of Sarah,
  • Some of us, prone to impatience, were challenged to not run ahead of God with our plans (remember Hagar and Ishmael?) but to walk patiently beside Him and wait for His timing and His plan, and
  • Others were challenged to go deeper with God, to “Wake Up!” earlier, pray more diligently and specifically, and seek to know Him persistently and consistently.

Find time to read Anne’s book this year.  You will not regret it!

Sarah – Agree or Disagree?

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Agree or Disagree?

“Without a doubt, Sarah is the most important woman in the Old Testament. She is the equivalent in the Old Testament of the Virgin Mary in the New Testament. She expressed her pursuit of the magnificent obsession in a supporting role. I don’t believe for a minute that Abraham would have become the man he did without her support and encouragement.”

“What makes Sarah remarkable is that devoted her life to Abraham, giving him her support and encouragement through good times and bad so that he could wholeheartedly abandon himself to God and His call.”

– Anne Graham Lotz, The Magnificent Obsession, pg.213-214

Sarah aka Mrs. Abraham

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Meet Mrs. Abraham, aka Sarah.  Military wives, you think you’ve moved a lot?  Sarah was a wrap-up-the-tent and pack-it-on-the-camels, country-hopping expert!  And guess what, things did NOT always go so well for her… as you have discovered in your homework.

I have been mulling over two thoughts this past week:

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” -George Santayana (p.83)  Do you remember our theme verse from the first day of class?  Romans 15:4 says “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Ladies – we need to learn from the past!  From our own past, and from the experiences of others.  When we look back we should be encouraged and have hope – God is faithful.  We will not be abandoned.  He is our ‘ezer – our Helper, a Mighty Warrior, our Strength, and our Refuge!

Secondly, why am I always trying to fix things myself?  Wouldn’t it be a lot easier, less stressful, and turn out better in the end if I just let God do it His way?  Without my meddling?  “Some of us never see God’s miraculous provision because we’re too busy trying to fulfill our own needs through the arm of the flesh.” (p.88)

We’ll talk more about “helping God out” next week, lesson #4 – Hagar.  

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”  George Muller (p.82)