Thursday, December 31, 2015

Engine Misfire, part 2: How to recognize a misfire


Yesterday, I wrote about my recent "service engine soon" light and the misfire that caused it. If you missed that blog post, you can read it here.

As promised, today we're considering how to recognize a misfire. To my predominantly left-brained mind, it sounds a bit mysterious, but it's not. An engine misfire, in very simple terms, is a loss of power and can occur for a variety of reasons. For an automobile, a misfire can cause vibrations at idle, poor acceleration, stalling out, and difficulty starting the engine. 

For the disciple of Jesus, a spiritual misfire is much the same. 

If the spark and fuel required to provide power for disciples are prayer and Bible study, a lack of either will cause adverse effects in our lives. 

How do we recognize a misfire before it becomes a complete loss of power? 

Restlessness, lack of peace, difficulty persevering in tasks God has commanded, isolation and withdrawal from our Christian community can be early signs of a misfire. 

Left to continue, the situation will deteriorate, and the works of the flesh will become evident in our lives, and all too quickly. 

In case we've forgotten, Galatians 5:19 tells us that the works of the flesh are: "sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." When these things are in our lives, we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

The easiest way to recognize a misfire, though, is an accounting of time spent in prayer and Bible study. Are we opening our Bible or not? Are we spending quiet time in prayer and meditation on Scripture or not?

If we feel far from God, it's not His fault. 

If we feel far from God, the solution is simple. 

Confess our sin and ask for forgiveness. Open our Bibles and read until God's Still Small Voice speaks in our hearts. Pray until we know God has heard and answered.

Proper functioning as a disciple of Christ requires time with the One we say we follow. 

As we look toward 2016, let's live boldly as disciples of Christ, embracing the adventure of faith on a daily basis. Let's open our Bibles and bend our knees before the One who gave everything for us.
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My heart is filled with gratitude for your faithfulness in reading Lines from Leanna this past twelve months. Readership has more than tripled this year. Hearts have been encouraged. Lives have been changed. I appreciate you more than you can imagine.

To celebrate this great year, I'm hosting a special New Year's Eve e-celebration. Count down the New Year with Lines from Leanna. I'll be posting a countdown of the most-read posts of 2015 every hour beginning at 6 pm and going until midnight, so be sure to read along. Bookmark the link and check back throughout the evening.

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Need a quick holiday read? Humor mixed with faith? 

Consider my e-book. The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. (There's a link to give it as a gift as well.)
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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: Overcoming,  Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves,  The Belated Christmas LetterLiving LeanThe Sleep GoalThe Service Engine Soon Light, and The Engine Misfire.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.
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#enginemisfire #misfire #prayerandBiblestudy #faithful #disciple #JesusChrist
Photo courtesy of free images.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Engine Misfire


The service engine soon light had been on for five days. It didn't look like it was going off on its on, so I drove to my mechanic's shop yesterday. On the way, I stopped by town hall. When I started the engine again, the "service engine soon" light had gone off. I considered calling it an answered prayer (which it was) and going home, but opted to have it checked. Just in case. 

"One cylinder had a misfire," John told me after a quick check of the car's computer. "It looks like just one cylinder. Has it been misfiring?" 

"Oh, no. It's been running fine." I didn't think it had misfired. Silently, I wondered how I'd recognize a misfire if it happened. 

"Well, it's not misfiring now. If it happens again, come back and we'll take a closer look."

I was delighted with the plan, but still uncertain about the cause of the misfire. As you might expect, I turned to Google. I am no mechanic, but it appears that misfires happen as a result of two possible problems. Ignition problems or fuel problems. 

There are a host of subproblems in both of these categories but, in broad terms, both a spark and fuel are required for an engine to run smoothly. 

If anything happens to prevent a solid spark or adequate fuel flow, the engine will misfire.

Nothing could be more true for the life of a disciple. We, too, need a solid spark and adequate fuel to maintain the faithful, disciplined life to which we are called. 

That spark comes from time spent with our Lord through prayer. It was the presence of the Holy Spirit that brought tongues of fire to the disciples in Jerusalem and it is that same Holy Spirit that delivers the Holy Spark to fuel our lives as disciples today. 

Without spending time in His presence, the Holy Spark will be sadly diminished in our lives.

The fuel for faithful living comes from The Book. Nothing can substitute for the Word of God, the Bible. If we are only going to read one book, it should be the Bible. As a writer of books, I say this with conviction. Only God's Book is sufficient to provide power for our souls.

Without spending time in God's Word, Divine Power and Wisdom will be greatly diminished in our lives.

We will consider how to recognize a misfire tomorrow (in lives and in cars), but, for today, let's consider the consistency of power in our spiritual life. Do we have an abundant supply of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? 

If we lack power, perhaps we have a spiritual misfire as a result of inadequate time spent in prayer and Bible study. 

The solution is simple, and can be fixed in a matter of minutes. 

Open the Bible. Bow the head. Bend the knee.

Bible study and prayer. Neither are optional. Both are essential.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Need a quick holiday read? Humor mixed with faith? 

Consider my e-book. The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. (There's a link to give it as a gift as well.)
~~~~~~~~~~
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming,  Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves,  The Belated Christmas LetterLiving LeanThe Sleep Goal, and The Service Engine Soon Light.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.
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#enginemisfire #misfire #prayerandBiblestudy #faithful #disciple #JesusChrist

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Service Engine Soon Light

Friday is my day to open and close the park in our little town. This past Friday evening, I jumped in my car and drove to the park. When I started the ignition, there were no warning lights on. I drove to the park, stopped, and got out to lock the gate. When I started the ignition again, a warning light flicked on. "Service engine soon," it said.

It was the Christmas weekend, so there was no way to "service engine soon." I parked the car and drove my old farm truck instead. Today, my mechanic will check the computer to see what kind of service my engine needs.

The red light suggests trouble is brewing in my engine, but catastrophe can be avoided. If I'm willing to heed the warning.

Therein lies the problem, doesn't it? It's easy to ignore a warning light for a few days that turn into a few weeks and finally results in a major motor problem. I firmly believe in that possibility, so I have warning lights checked.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had the same kind of warning lights for our soul? Imagine a flashing light that says, "Trouble ahead. Better rethink this decision." 

We don't, of course, have a flashing light, but, as disciples of Christ, we do have a warning system. It's called the Holy Spirit, and one of His jobs is to "convict the world concerning sin". (John 16:8)

During the last few hours with His disciples, Jesus comforted them with the promise that they would not be left alone. He would send a Helper to convict them, remind them of His words, and guide them into the Truth. We have that same Helper to convict, remind, and guide.

His warnings, spoken with a Still, Small Voice are a little like the warning light in my car. 

His whispers are a quiet direction to take note, reassess, make a course correction before we go too far. If we are willing to be still, listen, and heed his warning.

It's being still to listen that trips us up, isn't it? 

The words of a song from my childhood come to mind. "Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus. Speak that my soul may hear. Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus. Calm every doubt and fear." (B.B. McKinney)

If we will be still enough to listen, He will speak where we can hear. 

When He does, He will do more than calm our doubts and fears, He will convict us, guide us into truth, and help us make the right decisions. Every time. 

~~~~~~~~~~~
Need a quick holiday read? Humor mixed with faith? 

Consider my e-book. The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. (There's a link to give it as a gift as well.)
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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming,  Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves,  The Belated Christmas LetterLiving Lean, and The Sleep Goal.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.
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#serviceenginesoonlight #StillSmallVoice #HolySpirit #disciple #Christian

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Sleep Goal


Last night, Maggie the Wonder Dog wanted something. She scratched my leg, ran in circles trying to get my attention, and finally sat down and whimpered. I thought she wanted to go outside. She didn't. I tried putting her in my lap, thinking she wanted a snuggle. She didn't. It went on and on. 

Finally, I stood up, put hands on hips, and demanded, "What do you want, Maggie? You'll have to show me." Maggie raced for the stairs.  She wanted to go to bed. It was only 7:30. I was knitting and not ready for bed. She didn't care. There was a storm outside and she wanted her safe place. 

She went to bed. I didn't. 

Maggie has always been serious about sleep. I never have been. 

I've always subscribed to Proverbs 20:13, which says, "Do not love sleep, lest you become poor..." Sleep, it has seemed, is a great way to do less and miss something important. "I can sleep when I'm dead," I usually say. (That's not technically true, because I'll be singing around the throne of God after I'm dead. Not sleeping.)

Recently, however, sleep has been on my mind a bit more. It started when I found my FitBit after a several week period of lostness. It was, for no sensible reason, under the driver's seat in my truck. 

My dashboard now includes a report on my "sleep goal" progress. 

Since I had not set a sleep goal, FitBit set one for me. Supposedly, I should get eight hours sleep. That's not likely to happen, because I'm not sure I've ever slept that long. This morning, though, I had a notice that said, "Congratulations. You met your sleep goal." 

Yeah, right, I thought. The FitBit had recorded 8 hours and 29 minutes of sleep. Apparently, I am very still while reading in bed, because it counted some of my reading time. I'm not complaining. I met my goal (but only by being still... not by sleeping.)

The question of sleep goals (and not sleeping) brought a verse to mind. 

"Behold, He who keeps Israel 
Will neither slumber nor sleep."
                                       Psalm 121:4 nasb
`
It is a great comfort to me that God is always "up". He never misses the circumstances of my life because He's napping. He never sleeps through my distress. He is always awake, alert, and on the job.

No matter what we face, God is awake for it.

No matter how far we run, God is awake to see it.

He is never asleep. Never off duty. Never ignoring the world He created.

The "no sleeping verse" goes on to relate a truth worth remembering. Instead of sleeping, this is what God does:

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand...
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this day forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121: 5, 7, 8 nasb

Take heart today that our God is up and on it. He hasn't missed a single circumstance of our lives. He knows. He sees. He cares. He actively works on our behalf.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Need a quick holiday read? Humor mixed with faith? 

Consider my new e-book. The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. There's a link to give as a gift as well.)
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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Mission StatementFinding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming, and Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves,  The Belated Christmas Letter, and Living Lean.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.
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#sleepgoal #Godneversleeps #disciple #JesusChrist #Christian

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Living Lean


"Hey, Ryan, I have two of these vases. Why don't you take one back to Atlanta. Don't you need a vase for flowers?" I had made the vases during my days as a potter, and I view them as a treasure.

Ryan looked at me in disbelief, but spoke with the patience usually reserved for a child. "Mama, my apartment is really small. I have nine decorative items. If I had even one more thing, it would be cluttered." He was serious.

I looked around my house and saw my "stuff" with new eyes.  "I have more than nine decorations," I said, musing.

"Yeah, and you should consider getting rid of some of them."

Out of the mouths of babes...

I have not only considered getting rid of some things, I've started cleaning out. Much to my surprise, I found a three-piece service for eight of Christmas dishes, twelve goblets with trees for stems, a snowman spoon rest, and a set of snowman salt and pepper shakers, none of which I have used in the last two decades. They had been stashed in a top cabinet so long, I'd forgotten I had them.  

Those Christmas items are only the beginning of the "stuff" I've accumulated over twenty-six years in this house. They will soon be going to a new home. 

I'm cleaning out what I don't need. 

Ryan lives lean and it's so freeing for him that I've decided to try it. Well, I probably won't live as lean as Ryan, but I'm moving in that direction. 

This morning, I considered one of the verses I've memorized.

"...one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions..." Luke 12:15 esv

Life is not about stuff. Life in Christ is about freedom. 

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free..." Galatians 5:1 nasb

That freedom includes the freedom from "stuff", but it is so much more. Christ intended us to be free from the burden of sin, as well. 

As we make preparations for the new year, let's clean out the accumulations of the old and move toward living lean. 

Let's do more than just clean out unneeded possessions, though. The bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, selfishness, and all the other sins we accumulate were not meant to find a welcome home in our hearts. Let's clean out the sin that so easily besets and make our hearts lean and clean as well. 

Today, let's take a fresh look at our hearts and the sin that dwells there. Offer the "clutter" to Jesus and let Him make us fresh and clean. 

If we want to make a fresh start in 2016, we must begin by having a "fresh heart". 
~~~~~~~~~~
Need a quick holiday read? Humor mixed with faith? 

Consider my new e-book. The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. There's a link to give as a gift as well.)
~~~~~~~~~~
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Sin FastFinding Christmas: The Mission StatementFinding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming, and Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves,  and The Belated Christmas Letter.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.
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#livinglean #possessions #timetocleanout #clutter #disciple





Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Belated Christmas Letter



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 nasb

I didn't send out Christmas cards. I meant to do it this year, but I didn't. I didn't write a Christmas letter, either. I meant to do that, too. I love those letters that summarize the high points of the last year, and intended to write one of my own. At last, I've gotten round to it. 

In a way, this is my "Christmas letter". 

The whirlwind of Christmas is winding down and I've had a few minutes to reflect on the past year. What a year it's been. Full of joy mingled with sorrow, laughter tinged with tears, triumph with a touch of defeat. 

It's been one of the best years of my life.

My son graduated from Georgia Tech and started his dream job. He's happy and content. He has a girlfriend I love more than I imagined possible. It's been a joy to watch him as he becomes the man he was born to be.

My writing has prospered. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and a writers' group, attended my first big writing conference, and wrote more than I thought possible. My first novel (still being edited) placed in the top three in the Oregon Christian Writers' competition (a national competition). I received more encouragement than I deserved this year. 

At sixty years old, I have begun to believe that I'm "on my way".

After raising cattle for a quarter-century, I sold all my cows. I adore cows but I had to put out feed in single-digit weather one too many times last winter. It's been a relief.

I taught myself to do a cable stitch and knitted my first afghan. 

Maggie the Wonder Dog had a severe eye injury that took far too long to heal and left her with a cataract and limited vision in one eye. She endured it all with far more grace than I would have, and I learned a little more about perseverance.

I've attended far more funerals and visitations than I thought possible in a single year. 

People my age. People younger than me. People I loved. There were a few times when I couldn't fit them all in. Mama said that would happen, but I didn't believe her. I do now.

Jamie (my neighbor's wife) died this year and I've found myself taking care of the elderly man who, as my "farm manager", took care of me for decades. It's hard beyond words and sweet beyond my wildest imagination. I've watched this dear man begin to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and clean his house. 

Sam and I decided yesterday (finally) that we're going to make it.  

After more than two decades at the same church, I've spent the last two months visiting sister churches in our area. It has been precious beyond belief. 

I've found that the family of God is anywhere the Spirit of God abides. 

I've come to understand the body of Christ universal in a new way. It's not confined to denominational boundaries, brick walls, or territorial boundaries. I knew that already, of course, but I've experienced it in a new way, and I'm better for it.

I spoke and taught and volunteered and celebrated the Risen Savior. I laughed with friends and family alike and enjoyed meals around the table with those I love.

There've been hard times and a few times when I wasn't sure I would make it through, but I did. Looking back, I've grown and learned from every hard time. 

I wish I'd done a few things differently, but I wouldn't really change a thing. (well, not much)

It's been a great year and I've seen the hand of God so many times that I've been in awe of His mercy and grace. 

None of the good things I've experienced were of my own making. They came straight from God, because every good and perfect gift comes from above. 

What's amazing to me is that a new year is lurking just around the corner. In less than a week, we'll start working our way through another year. My prayer, for you as well as for myself, is that we do what Jesus said to do. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. If we do, everything else will fall into place.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you." 
Matthew 6:33 nasb

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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Good Husband, Finding Christmas: The Sin FastFinding Christmas: The Mission StatementFinding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming, and Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
~~~~~~~~~~
 #JesusChrist #disciple #seekHim 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Giving with gusto

But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Luke 11:41-42 NASB)

In the previous verses, we saw that Jesus had refused to obey the ceremonial ritual of hand washing before the meal. It was not a law of God but a rule of man, added to expand the law. The Pharisees, Jesus told them, were more concerned with washing their hands than with cleansing their hearts from wickedness. 

Matthew Henry wrote, "to keep ourselves free from scandalous enormities, and yet to live under the dominion of spiritual wickedness, is as great an affront to God as it would be for a servant to give the cup into his master's hand, clean wiped from all the dust on the outside, but within full of cobwebs and spiders." When I visualize his words, it is a startling reminder that God sees our hearts and all that is within them. Allowing Him to cleanse our hearts is much more important than cleansing our hands.

Instead of washing their hands, Jesus recommended that they give to the poor. This was a reference to Deuteronomy 26 (worth reviewing later) in which the first fruits were to be given as a tithe and shared with those who were less fortunate. Only then were they to enjoy the blessings of the land God had given them.

The Pharisee and his friends would have done better to cleanse themselves before the meal by charitable giving. Matthew Henry again wrote "What we have is not our own, unless God have his dues out of it; and it is by liberality to the poor that we clear up to ourselves our liberty to make use of our creature-comforts."

The Pharisees were exacting in calculating their tithe, going so far as to tithe the mint and dill in their gardens. Jesus said it is good to be careful about the tithe, but not at the expense of justice and the love of God. 

Do the most important things first, He was saying, but don't neglect the other. As Micah wrote, God requires justice and mercy as well as walking humbly with Him. Justice and mercy are an outgrowth of walking with our God. Tithing alone is simply a charitable deed, no matter how exacting our calculations. The blessing is gained when charitable giving is an outgrowth of a relationship with our Lord, an outgrowth of our love for God. 

The key word is relationship. God created man for fellowship with Him. Our reason for existence is a relationship with Him, yet we focus our lives on everything else. I'm as guilty as anyone else. It is much easier to write a donation check than to allow God to cleanse my heart of the sin that so easily besets us. My giving, however, only has meaning because of my relationship with God. Allowing Him to cleanse me is a vital part of walking with Him.

I learned something from a young girl with whom I met to pray several times. Before we started to pray, she would wash her hands as a symbol that she wanted to be clean before the Lord, both inside and out. I've found myself doing the same thing since then. As I wash my hands before intercession, I pray the same prayer David prayed. Create in me a clean heart, (not just clean hands) and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:2)

Today, let's ask God to cleanse us inside and out, making sure that our giving is an outpouring from a heart of love toward God rather than one more task on our checklist. Let's give with gusto, because we love.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NASB)


Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves



Merry Christmas from Greenbriar Farms and the Wonder Dogs! 

"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." Matthew 25: 35 nasb

As we celebrate today, thousands of people in our area are still reeling from the catastrophic tornado less than forty-eight hours ago. The loss of property, catastrophic in its own right, is nothing compared to the loss of life and limb. Not everyone is celebrating the way I will today, with a special meal eaten with those I love. 

Not everyone is eating in the place they most love to be.

Wednesday, emergency personnel, many who are volunteers, went door to door, checking to be sure people were safe. It was a horrible kind of head count. Who made it through? Who didn't? At least one of those rescue workers lost his home, yet he was there, doing his job. 

For thousands of people across the South, it was a long, hard night.

As the WTVA newscaster reported on the damage in Holly Springs, there was a catch in her voice. "I live in Holly Springs," she said. Her heart was breaking for her town, but she stayed in place. Warning others. Keeping people safe.

There are many people who went above and beyond. We'll hear their stories over the next few days and we'll take heart in the kindness of strangers, the mercies shown in the midst of the tragedy. You and I can be part of the recovery effort. We can be one of the ones who goes above and beyond. 

We can be the strangers who show kindness to those in desperate trouble.

Hope Reigns (a Tupelo-based charitable organization) strives to "show the Love of Jesus Christ to disaster victims 48-72 hours after a disaster strikes anywhere in the contiguous 48 states." (I've copied directly from their website to ensure my accuracy.)

"The means to meeting this goal will be through clearing debris, tarping roofs, gutting water damaged homes and salvaging personal property. These are the most basic immediate actions necessary to preserve property and livelihood. In so doing, Hope Reigns volunteers seek to build bonds with home owners, community leaders and other disaster relief organizations for immediate relief and in hope of laying a foundation for future disaster-recovery efforts.


If you are interested in volunteering, please email hopereigns@eightdaysofhope.com."

There will be lots of presents given and received today, but one of the best gifts you can give is a helping hand to one in need. Why not join with us in helping our neighbors recover from the disaster they've experienced?

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:40 nasb 
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The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
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The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
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#HopeReigns #eightdaysofhope #mstornado #tornado #Advent #keepChristinChristmas #MerryChristmas #JesusChrist 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Finding Christmas: Overcoming



Late yesterday afternoon, Sam came by. "What about these storms they say is coming?" he asked. I opened my radar app and projected their course. They would miss us. I thought. I hoped. 

Friends and family began to text and call. "Are you watching the weather?" No. Of course I wasn't. I was knitting and listening to Josh Groban's Christmas album. "You can stream it live," my sister told me as she repeated what Matt Laubhan (our meteorologist) was saying. "Get in a safe room or go to the storm shelters." 


I called Sam. For the first time ever, I put a chair in the small hallway outside my downstairs bathroom and sat Sam in it as I prayed for safety. It's a tiny space. Barely room for Sam and his chair, two Wonder Dogs, pillows and blankets, I sat on the floor with my laptop. We were squeezed in tight. 


Until I began to stream the live weather report, my only concern was me. 


My farm. My property. My animals. My Sam. My house. Suddenly, I realized the storms were headed toward people I know. People I love. My prayers weren't just about me anymore.

The long-track tornado was on the ground for more than 150 miles. It left devastating damage. At least four are dead in Mississippi alone, two more in Arkansas. 


Homes are gone. Dreams are wiped away. Life has changed.

This morning, people will search through the debris to find whatever they can salvage. The process of rebuilding and recovering has already begun.Those who have lost so much will survey the damage and wonder how to go on.


I don't have all the answers, but there is one thing I know for sure. 


Jesus said we'd have trouble. There would be heartache and loss and sorrow. And there is. 

He said something else, and we'd do well to remember it today.


"... In the world you have tribulation, 
but take courage; I have overcome the world."
                                           John 16:33b nasb

In the midst of our sorrow, one truth remains. Jesus can help us face our loss, and He will. He has overcome the world, and He will help us. 

For thousands of people who were in the path of the storms, life has changed in ways they never imagined, never wanted. The recovery will be long and hard. One truth, however, remains the same.

King Jesus reigns victorious over sin and death and He has not left us alone.

And old song plays in my head this morning. Maybe you remember it.

"Jesus will help us. Jesus alone."

Pray for all those affected by last night's storms, especially those who have lost loved ones. They have sustained unimaginable loss. Pray, too, for those who will be aiding in the rescue effort. 

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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: Prosperity and Success,  Finding Christmas: Prophecy FulfilledFinding Christmas: The Good Husband, Finding Christmas: The Sin FastFinding Christmas: The Mission StatementFinding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
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#mstornado #tornado #Advent #keepChristinChristmas #MerryChristmas #JesusChrist #disciple,#Wordbecameflesh  #Christian

photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Finding Christmas: The Storm Shelter


Like most people around here, the warm weather in December has concerned me. It's a precursor of bad weather, and I've dreaded what was to come. I listened to the weather report yesterday with growing concern. 

Storms are predicted for today. The possibility of tornadoes in our area is 70%. Twenty years ago, I'd have heard that figure and interpreted it to mean it's a 30% chance of no tornadoes. That was before I saw the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused. Before I survived the Tupelo tornado of 2014. Before I volunteered in the recovery effort in Louisville and in Tupelo. 

Storms come, and they can leave incredible destruction in their wake.

We know that now, and people in our area have already begun to take precautions. They've located storm shelters. Gathered food and supplies. Just in case.

Storms can come in life, too. You've probably experienced those, just as I have. 

Those terrible trials can leave incredible destruction in their wake. They leave us longing for a life-storm shelter to protect us and those we love.

Isaiah wrote of a shelter that never fails.

A King will come, he wrote. One who will reign righteously. His princes will rule justly. 


And each will be like a refuge from the wind,
And a shelter from the storm...
Isaiah 32:2 nasb

We have a shelter that never fails. A refuge from the wind. Protection from the storms of life. King Jesus rules and reigns with righteousness. His name is a strong tower and we can run to it. No matter the storm we face. Illness? Betrayal? Heartbreak? Death? He can shelter us and carry us through.

Isaiah was right. Our good and righteous king, Jesus, did come. As we approach Christmas, and the celebration of our Savior's birth, let's remember that the Baby in the Manger is also our Righteous King and He, alone, is our refuge and shelter.


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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: Look to the RockFinding Christmas: The Rear GuardFinding Christmas: Prosperity and Success,  Finding Christmas: Prophecy FulfilledFinding Christmas: The Good Husband, Finding Christmas: The Sin FastFinding Christmas: The Mission Statement, and Finding Christmas: The Divine Paradox.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
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The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
~~~~~~~~~~
#stormshelter #tornado #Advent #keepChristinChristmas #MerryChristmas #JesusChrist #disciple,#Wordbecameflesh  #Christian

photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Finding Christmas: The Divine Paradox


I know that Isaiah is not generally considered a comic read, but reading Isaiah 64 this morning struck me as so funny that I laughed out loud. Maybe I found humor in the words because I identified with the sentiment so strongly.


"Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down...
When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, 
Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence..."
Isaiah 64:1-3 nasb

I've felt like that before, and you probably have, too. (This is the Leanna interpretation) Isaiah had been waiting for God and was about worn out. I've been there. Desperate for God to do something. Anything will do. Just move, God. 

That's where Isaiah was. Just come and do something, God. How about something big and showy? Do something impressive and flashy, the kind of thing that scares us out of our minds because of how huge it is. Do something so big even the mountains will quake in response.

Isaiah wanted an enormous move of God that would impress everyone with its magnitude and power. It took hundreds of years, but God answered his prayer, and His answer took everyone by surprise.

God rent the heavens and came down. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. It wasn't a joke. It was an answered prayer. It was so big and surprising that most people couldn't believe it, because, although it was huge, it looked so small.

The paradox of God is a delight to me. We want something big, and He does something big but disguises it as something small. So small that we have to look close and open our hearts to receive it. 

I've prayed for God to move in huge ways many times. A few weeks ago, the invitation at the end of the church service I had attended, as usual, was for anyone who wanted to come to the altar to pray alone, to have the altar ministry team pray with them, or to have prayers for healing, in addition to making a decision of some kind. 

More than a dozen people went down. Some prayed alone. Some prayed with ministers. At least one person went forward to request healing. 

As I watched the forward flow of people, saw their tears, recognized the peace in their faces as they left the altar, I understood something in a deeper way than before. 

Sometimes the move of God is so dramatic and flashy that every eye sees it and trembles. Sometimes the move of God is so intimate and personal that only a handful of people see it and tremble. 

Both moves of God are big. Both are "awesome things which we did not expect". Both are answered prayers.

As we celebrate the big move of God that seemed so small, the Baby Jesus in the manger, let's be sure to thank Him for all the ways He moves in our lives and celebrate the paradox that startled mankind and transformed our world. 

God sent His Son to save us all. Nothing could be more dramatic than that.
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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Finding Christmas: Remembering the Stripes,  Finding Christmas: Look to the RockFinding Christmas: The Rear GuardFinding Christmas: Prosperity and Success,  Finding Christmas: Prophecy FulfilledFinding Christmas: The Good Husband, Finding Christmas: The Sin Fast, and Finding Christmas: The Mission Statement

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
~~~~~~~~~~
#divineparadox #moveofGod #Advent #keepChristinChristmas #MerryChristmas #JesusChrist #disciple,#Wordbecameflesh  #Christian