THE MOST FERTILE TIME

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR CAN ALSO BE THE MOST FERTILE TIME OF THE YEAR FOR SPIRITUAL BEGINNINGS. IF YOU HAVE MISSED THIS, CONSIDER SEIZING THE SEASON THIS YEAR. NOW IS THE TIME TO PLAN. YESTERDAY THIS WAS MY LITTLE VILLAGE, BUT SHE WILL SOON BE CLOTHED IN WHITE. YESTERDAY I WALKED THE TRAILS OF FALLING LEAVES WITH MY GRAND-DAUGHTERS BUT SOON WE WILL BE CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING THESE TRAILS. NOW IS THE TIME TO GET READY TO SEIZE THE MOST FERTILE TIME OF THE YEAR AFTER THIS POLITICAL SEASON, PEOPLE MAY BE ESPECIALLY HUNGRY FOR HOPE. MANY PEOPLE WHO WOULD SHUN AN INVITE TO A GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE WILL GLADLY COME TO YOUR HOME FOR A CHRISTMAS TEA. WOULD YOU PRAY NOW ABOUT HOSTING A TEA IN YOUR HOME? YOU MIGHT PARTNER WITH A SISTER IN CHRIST. THEN […]

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WINSOME WAYS OF TESTING THE WIND

HOW WONDERFUL IT IS WHEN YOU FEEL THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT MOVING SOMETIMES THE BREEZE COMES UP SO QUICKLY YOU CAN SCARCELY BELIEVE IT! I remember when my neighbor Gladys visited our Bible study. She was so quiet that I stopped by the next day with banana bread, thanking her for coming, telling her I hoped she’d come again, praying she might open up. She asked me to stay for tea (a good sign!) and over steaming cups of orange spiced tea, I queried, “You were so quiet at study — what you were feeling and thinking?” “Honesty, I felt kind of stupid — the other women seem to get it, but Dee, when I read the Bible, I feel like it is written in a foreign language.” She was an intelligent woman, so I was quite sure what […]

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HOW TO LISTEN WHEN YOU DISAGREE

WE MUST BE AWARE OF THE ENEMY’S SNARES WHAT SATAN FEARS THE MOST IS LOVE, THE BIRTHMARK OF A CHRISTIAN. GOD IS LOVE, AND AS HIS CHILDREN, WE MUST REFLECT THAT LOVE, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE DISAGREE. NOTHING CAN BUILD A WALL FASTER THAN QUARRELS. OUR ENEMY KNOWS THAT, SO WHEN A SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSY COMES UP HE IS FEEDING THE FIRE HE IS FEEDING OUR PRIDE SO THAT WE WILL BUILD A WALL BETWEEN US AND THE ONE WE LONG TO WIN TO CHRIST.  I HAVE LEARNED THE HARD WAY IN THIS REGARD. AS A YOUNG CHRISTIAN, AFTER COMING ON SO STRONG WHEN I DISAGREED, A WALL CAME UP BETWEEN ME AND ONE I LOVED. I HAD TO GO AND HUMBLE MYSELF, ASKING TEARFULLY FOR FORGIVENESS FOR NOT REALLY LISTENING TO HER. I TOLD HER, “I SEE IT WAS MY […]

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THE ART OF LISTENING (# 4)

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE LEARNED HOW TO BE THE HOST IN CONVERSATION. THEY ARE OTHER-CENTERED. THEY LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND, NOT TO REPLY. THEY HAVE MASTERED THE RARE ART OF LISTENING. WE MUST BECOME “WOMEN OF UNDERSTANDING” WHO KNOW HOW TO DRAW OUT THE DEEP WATERS OF ANOTHER’S SOUL. The purposes of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5  WE NEED EARS TO HEAR WHAT IS KEEPING THEM FROM JESUS. SO OFTEN THE ART OF LISTENING GOES HAND IN HAND WITH THE ART OF HOSPITALITY. JESUS DIDN’T HAVE A HOME, BUT STILL, HE PRACTICED HOSPITALITY. HE MADE A BREAKFAST ON THE BEACH AND INVITED PETER TO JOIN HIM. HE TOLD ZACCHEAUS, “I’M COMING TO YOUR HOUSE TODAY.” HE BROKE BREAD WITH THE TWO ON THE […]

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A HEART TO MELT FEARS (EVAN. #3)

ON THE SIDELINES AT PICKLEBALL, I HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH A WOMAN. Elaine: “What’s new with you, Dee?” Me: “Well, I’m part of a group that is just starting a new church — and that’s been exciting.” Elaine: “What kind of a church?” Me: “We call it ‘The Orchard,’ but it’s an Evangelical Free Church.” In response, Elaine looked a lot like this. “Evangelical?” she said. “You mean you push your religion on people?” She took me by surprise. When I recovered, I said: “Oh no — not religion! But we do talk about how Jesus has changed our lives.” Elaine was quiet, then seemed relieved when called to play pickleball, and ran. I’m praying for another chance to talk to Elaine, to see if she has been hurt by those whom were insensitive. I want to hear what is […]

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EYES TO SEE (Evangelism… #2)

IN GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY, HE HAS PLACED YOU IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, CITY, WORKPLACE… NOW YOU MUST PRAY FOR EYES TO SEE YOUR FIELD.        Jesus told the disciples to start in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. We too need to start where we are, and pray for His Spirit to open our eyes to the people right within our path. Your field changes with life circumstances. I became a Christian when Steve was going through medical school, so my first “field” was my neighborhood and the wives of other medical students. When I had children, their friends were my next “field.” Each neighborhood we moved to was a new “field,” and I have also sought to minister in what experts call the “fertile field.” (More about that soon.) Though some of you are rural, most of us have a […]

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EVANGELISM FOR INTROVERTS #1

In the increasingly hardened culture of today, it’s easy to feel like this about evangelism but by walking in the Spirit, it’s possible for this to change to this: And truly, I am so excited about sharing with you what I’ve learned, for though our methods need to change with the culture, the power of the gospel remains the same. Even if you are an introvert, as I am, you can do this. For when you move with His Spirit, you are not alone, and you will experience power from on high. If you have not yet experienced being part of the process of seeing a life changed by the gospel, I am praying this will be the year it happens. This community is one I am so proud of, for you are living your faith, and I am truly, […]

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WHAT MATTERS MOST (PS. 49)

SLOW SUMMER DAYS & SWEET SUMMER NIGHTS ARE FADING INTO FALL, AND WE CLOSE OUR SERIES ON THE PSALMS OF THE SONS OF KORAH WITH AN INTRIGUING CHANGE IN TONE: FROM WORSHIP TO WISDOM, FOR IMPORTANT THINGS ARE SAID WHEN TIME IS RUNNING OUT. PSALM 49 OPENS LIKE PROVERBS, WITH A CRY TO ALL:   WE REMEMBER THAT THE SONS OF KORAH SAW THEIR FATHERS, WHO TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES, SWALLOWED UP BY THE EARTH. NOW THEY DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO SONGS OF WORSHIP, TO SINGING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS MOST. TO PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR A RICH STUDY, LISTEN TO THIS: On a personal note, I think you did tremendously last week with Augustine and the City of God. There were great questions, thoughtful “listening,” and together we grew. I’m so thankful for the fellowship here. On a side note, this […]

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CITY OF GOD (Augustine)

LAST WEEK I ASKED FOR PRAYER FROM YOU, DEAR SISTERS, FOR THE WINDS TO CALM, FOR WE HAD FOUR BAPTISMS SCHEDULED AT MY HOUSE.  JESUS STILLED THE WIND QUICKENED HEARTS AS FOUR NEW CHRISTIANS IN OUR CHURCH PLANT, THE ORCHARD, TOLD OF FINDING THEIR REST IN HIM. Ron  was religious, but did not find rest. But the love of God has dropped from his head to his heart, and after so many years of restlessness, he has found his rest in God. Ron is a transformed man — showing us all the power of God! RON SAYS, OFTEN WHEN HE IS WALKING HIS DOGS IN THE WOODS, HE FALLS TO HIS KNEES IN GRATITUDE. FOR HOW MUCH JESUS MEANS TO HIM FOR HOW CHANGED HE IS! A VIETNAM VET WHO WAS SO RESTLESS, TRANFORMED BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT. […]

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JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM! (PS. 48)

JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM! SHE IS BEAUTIFUL IN ELEVATION! ON MANY OF THE HOLY LAND TOURS, WHEN THE TOUR BUS APPROACHES JERUSALEM, THIS SONG IS PLAYED, FILLING HEARTS WITH ANTICIPATION AND AWE.   BUT THIS SONG, AND PSALM 48 ITSELF, SEEM TO SPEAK OF A DIFFERENT JERUSALEM THAN THE ONE WE KNOW.  INSTEAD OF WAR TORN, SHE IS THE “JOY OF THE WHOLE EARTH.” INSTEAD OF BEING SITUATED IN THE SOUTH, SHE IS IN “THE FAR NORTH.” INSTEAD OF RESISTING JESUS, CAUSING HIM SORROW,   SHE IS REJOICING IN HER GOD. WHAT’S GOING ON? WHO IS THIS JERUSALEM? A HINT. SHE IS A CITY, AND YET, SHE IS A BRIDE. SUCH A MIXED METAPHOR, AND YET EXACTLY THE ONE WE SAW IN THE SONG OF SONGS. REMEMBER? SOMETIMES WHEN HE DESCRIBES HER WE SEE A WOMAN’S BEAUTIFUL BODY — BUT BLINK, AND […]

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CHRIST WILL REIGN ON EARTH

IT’S FUN TO WATCH THE REACTION OF THE SHOPPERS WHEN SURPRISED BY A FLASH MOB SINGING THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS. SOME ARE DELIGHTED, SOME DISTURBED, SOME CONFUSED… WILL IT BE THE SAME ON THAT GREAT DAY WHEN JESUS RETURNS?   https://   WHEN PSALM 47 BEGINS, IT SEEMS A SIMPLE PSALM OF PRAISE, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE GOING ON AS WE GLIMPSE IN VERSE 2. VERSE 5 TELL US: NOTICE THERE IS A SHOUT, A TRUMPET, AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD. DEREK KIDNER POINTS OUT THAT THIS IS A CLEAR ALLUSION TO 2 SAMUEL WHERE ONCE THERE WAS A SHOUT, A TRUMPET, AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn. 2 Samuel 6:14-15 * BUT DO YOU SEE […]

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DOES GOD PLAN DISASTERS? (PS. 46)

RETURNING TO THE PSALM THAT INSPIRED LUTHER’S “A MIGHTY REFUGE,” THAT SUSTAINED ME WHEN MY HUSBAND RECEIVED A TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS, AND THAT KEPT OUR OWN CHRIS FROM GOING UNDER WHEN HER BELOVED SON DANIEL WAS MURDERED. THE FOLLOWING PAINTING WAS IN THE WAITING ROOM WHERE CHRIS AND HER HUSBAND WAITED AFTER DANIEL WAS ACCOSTED. PSALM 46 THOUGH THE WATERS ROAR THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS FALL INTO THE SEA, GOD IS OUR REFUGE THIS IS A PSALM WE NEED IN OUR HEARTS FOR LIFE IS HARD AND FULL OF TROUBLE. THIS TIME I WANT US TO CONSIDER IT, IN PART, IN LIGHT OF THE SONS OF KORAH, WHO WATCHED THE EARTH GIVE WAY AND SWALLOW UP THEIR REBELLIOUS FATHERS. ONE DAY THEY WOULD WRITE PSALM 46.    Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth… […]

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HEAR, O DAUGHTER (PS. 45)

I’m excited to approach Psalm 45 afresh, for this is the psalm that Jonathan Edwards said, “is the Song of Songs in a nutshell.” For those of you who are new to us (and welcome!) I have, with the help of the dear sisters on this blog, been working on a book on the Song of Songs for four years! They have prayed, tested my attempts (twice!) and encouraged me so! I am now in the editorial process with the same editor who did The God of All Comfort and Idol Lies, and I love and trust her. So when Elisa  told me I was way over peoples’ heads, I listened. I don’t want my readers to be like deer caught in the headlights. Instead, I want them to be like the child in this picture, experiencing the wonder of […]

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THE PSALMS ARE BI-POLAR

RIFE WITH THE PATHOS OF PRAISE AND THE ETHOS OF AGONY, THE BOOK OF PSALMS CAPTURES BETTER THAN ANY CORPUS OF SCRIPTURE, THE BI-POLAR NATURE OF LIFE. (William P. Brown: Seeing the Psalms) AND PSALM 44 SEEMS SPLIT IN THE MIDDLE, ABRUPTLY CHANGING FROM JOYFUL PRAISE TO HEARTBREAKING LAMENT! PSALM 44:1-8 REJOICES IN GOD’S RESCUE! PSALM 44:9-26 LAMENTS: SO HOW ARE WE TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS? GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT FAR FROM HIM: THEY ARE PRAISING HIS MIGHTY DEEDS IN THE PAST, THEIR HEARTS “HAVE NOT TURNED BACK,” THEY HAVE “NOT FORGOTTEN THE NAME OF THEIR GOD” OR “SPREAD OUT THEIR HANDS TO A FOREIGN GOD…” SO WHY HAS GOD “NOT GONE OUT WITH THEIR ARMIES?” “WHY ARE THEY BEING SOLD AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER?” THIS VERSE IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE MYSTERY, FOR WHENEVER AN OLD […]

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WHEN YOU’RE DESPERATE

WHAT CAUSES A FATHER TO  HAND HIS BELOVED CHILD OVER TO A STRANGER IN A RAFT, A RAFT THAT VERY WELL MIGHT NOT MAKE IT ACROSS? I LISTENED WITH TEARS TO MINDY BELZ TELL STORIES OF THE FAITH OF SYRIAN REFUGEES (AND YOU CAN HEAR HER THIS WEEK) AT THE WOMEN’S GOSPEL COALITION. I THOUGHT HOW OFTEN OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST WHO ARE FLEEING ISIS HAVE PRAYED DESPERATE PRAYERS, LIKE THE PRAYERS OF PSALMS 42-43. Psalms 42/43 (really one psalm) is one of my five favorite psalms, a psalm I often pray, and a psalm I prayed repeatedly after my husband died. God knows we will each face desperate times and so He has given this psalm to teach us how to hold on to our Rock. This psalm begins Book II of the psalms, and is the […]

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