Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hand Washing and Heart Cleansing

She was four decades my junior and, in many ways, just finding her way, but, for a brief time, we were prayer partners. We longed to see God move, to see Him change hearts and lives in tangible ways, so we agreed to meet before worship services and pray. 

I, who have spoken about prayer and fasting numerous times, expected to teach her about prayer. Instead, she taught me a very important lesson.

The first time we met, she washed her hands before we prayed.

Her hands had not become soiled between her house and the church. The hand washing had nothing to do with dirty hands. It was about a dirty heart. Her symbolic cleansing made sense to me. I washed my hands, too, and, as we washed, we asked God to cleanse our hearts.

It's a principle as old as the tabernacle. God instructed Moses to put the bronze laver, filled with water, between the tent of meeting and the altar. Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons were to wash their hands and their feet before they approached the altar as a symbol of man's need for cleansing before God.

Soap and water will never remove the stain of our sin, of course. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse me of sin. I know that. 

The symbolic hand washing is a reminder that I go before God with no righteousness of my own. My life is stained by sin and only God can remove it. As I wash my hands, I ask Him to do just that. Cleanse and purify.

King David knew the power of God's cleansing. After his terrible debacle with Bathsheba, his sin haunted him night and day. That's what sin does. Its relentless clamor and accusations leave us exhausted and hopeless. 

David wanted peace, and he knew where to find it. He went before the Lord and begged for cleansing. 

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin..." 
Psalm 51:1 nasb

David knew what he wanted and he knew there was only one way to get it. God's cleansing and forgiveness.

Clean heart. Right spirit. 

When we allow God to cleanse us from our sin and wash us white as snow, we get a bonus of peace and joy.

Are we burden by the choices we've made? The sin in our lives? Do we desire peace? Allow God to create a clean heart, clean mind in us. When we do, we'll find that He has restored our joy as well.

"Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit." 
Psalm 51:12 nasb
photo courtesy of

In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Leaving a Legacy: Choices That Last for GenerationsJumping to Conclusions: The Terrorists That Were NotNothing is Impossible: Ayman al-Zawahiri,  Morning Quiet Time: Who Speaks FirstChanging the World: What One Man (Or Woman) Can do, When Hard Times Come: Pressing On, and Friday Night with Friends: Sara Foust.

#chronologicalBible, cleansing #cleanheart #forgiveness #disciple #JesusChrist

Friday Night with Friends:

Our guest blogger tonight is Sara L. Foust. She's a fellow writer. We met in an ACFW online writing accountability group. I've come to love her and her writing, and I think you will, too. Be sure to leave her some encouraging comments and thanks for taking time from her blog to visit with us. Thanks in advance for loving on my friend.

James 1:3- (KJV) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

This week in Sunday School our women’s class teacher gave each woman a gift bag containing a few goodies.  One of the things in each bag was a rubber bracelet, each with a different word on it.  She had no way of knowing who would get which bracelet.  
When I pulled mine out, it said ‘FAITH’ and I immediately knew that the bracelet that was meant for me had indeed found me.  
Some of the others said strength or courage or hope, but I have no doubt God knew I needed the one with faith written on it.  Tears sprang to my eyes and I was reminded yet again of the trials I am facing right now.  There are constant worries as a parent, wife, home-owner, teacher of my children, and foster-mom, yet there are also constant blessings.  
There are two ways to look at a trial of life:  as a burden or as a blessing.  
Sometimes God intentionally gives us a trial in order to help us grow our faith, for often in our weakest moments, our moments of greatest fear and anxiety, it is then that we are able to fully surrender and humbly give our future to God.  
It is in those times when we feel that we cannot take one more step that God is able to swoop in and lift us up, plant us on our feet, and help us walk forward.  
Each time that we stumble and God comes to our rescue, it forges a stronger bond, a stronger faith in our belief of His ability.  Each time that our faith is tested, and God proves He is in fact still there, it strengthens the very fabric of our faith.  
Each time our faith is tried, we gain a little bit more ability to be patient for the next trial.  And, once our patience has been added to, we are more perfect and entire.  Patience performed by us in the face of turmoil fashions a more perfect being, a more complete version of ourselves.  God wants us to learn to be patient and run (Hebrews 12) the race for Him.  
He wants us to have enough faith in His omnipotent power that we can wait on Him to move!  
Once we gain the ability to be patient, our faith will be tremendous, and we will be perfect and whole and feel that we lack nothing.  
I may never get to that point, but I am going to try.
I am going to wear this bracelet for a while (even though I don’t normally wear jewelry) because I want to be reminded when I look at it that my faith is being tried, not broken.  

I want to be reminded that when I look out and see the next mountain of a trial looming, God going to help me through it and become a better servant for Him.  

I am going to wear it to remind me that because of my faith in Him, each trial can become a blessing rather than a burden.
You can read her blog at:
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Friday, February 12, 2016

When Hard Times Come: Pressing On

On this date in 1994, the ice storm had already done its dastardly best. It left behind downed power lines all over this portion of our state. Since my house was off the road, and my lines only served one house, I was one of the last to have power restored.

That sad news meant I was without electricity for more than two weeks. With a toddler in diapers. Cloth diapers. No electricity meant there was no running water and no heat. 

I used oil lamps for light, continuous fires in both fireplaces for heat, and hauled water from the lake for flushing. I bought jugs of water for drinking and cooking and hauled water from a generous neighbor for bathing. We let the livestock into the lake pasture so they could get a drink.

It was a lot of work.

It was also a grand adventure and I still look back on the jambalaya in the dutch oven, simmering in the corner of the fireplace, with fond memories.

I wouldn't want to do it again, but I could if I had to, because the ice storm of 1994 trained me.

Two years ago at this time, we had a rare snow, the water to the barn froze, and I found myself hauling water again. This time for livestock.

It was a lot of work, but I'd had a harder time in 1994 and survived it. I persevered.

This week, the skies have been blue, the days have been pretty, and not a snow flake in sight. 

The aftermath of the 1994 storm seemed interminable, but it wasn't. The days of frozen water pipes in 2014 seemed interminable, but they weren't.

The Apostle Paul knew more than he wanted about hard times. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. He was hungry, thirsty, cold, and uncomfortable. Life after Christ was more difficult than I can imagine, but he didn't whine or complain. He didn't curse his circumstances or struggle to break free. 

Instead, Paul counted it all as a small inconvenience in comparison to the gift of Christ and praised God for the opportunity to suffer for Him. He understood one important fact.

All the hard times we face are temporary. 

When hard times come, and they will, we have several choices to make.

Will we whine and complain, or will we respond with good humor and rejoicing in our adversity?

Will we persevere or crumble under the pressure?

Will we look for a lesson to learn, a skill to gain, a witness to demonstrate in the midst of our trial?

Will we see God's hand of blessing in the midst of our hard times, or only see the difficulty?

Let's use our hard times as an opportunity to glorify God in our response. Like Paul, let's press on, persevere through, and rejoice in whatever comes our way. No matter how long.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus..."  (Phil. 3:14 nasb)

Our next Friday Night with Friends guest blog will post at 6 pm TONIGHT. You don't want to miss it!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Changing the World: What Just One Man (Or Woman) Can Do

One of the most exciting stories in the Bible (at least to me) is the story of God's wrath after the children of Israel made the golden calf. 

You probably remember the details. Moses was on the mountain with God, getting the ten commandments, for forty days. The people had counted on Moses as their deliverer and leader. Aaron made a poor substitute.

Mankind has an inherent desire for an object of worship. While Moses was away, they remembered the gods of the Egyptians and wanted something tangible. 

"Make us a god to go before us," they told Aaron.

"Sure. Great. Take the earrings from your wives and daughters ears and bring them to me. I'll make you a great little idol." (This is the Leanna Paraphrase, as are the following "quotes".)

It's a good thing I'm not God, because I would have zapped Aaron on the spot when that stupidity came out of his mouth.

On the other hand, I'm no better than Aaron. Although I don't make idols from earrings, I am as adept as anyone at attaching a greater significance to "things" than I should.

But I digress.

God, of course, knew about the "earring idol". He was ready to destroy the people and start over, but Moses begged for them. 

"No. It will make you look bad among the surrounding peoples. They will think You couldn't deliver your people so you killed them."

God relented on destroying them, but He was still angry. He'd just delivered them from Egyptian slavery and done a flashy and fabulous miracle with the Red Sea. 

"Go ahead to the Promised Land, Moses. I'll send you an angel to help, but I'm not going in your midst."

The people did a kind of "ornament fast" and mourned the loss, but God did not relent. Moses begged for them again. 

"Don't make me go without You."

"Okay, Moses. You win. I'll go with you, but I've still had it with these people."

Moses begged one more time. "No, Lord. If Your presence doesn't go with us, don't make us go."

A miracle happened during that quiet time between God and Moses. The Lord God Almighty relented and agreed to go with the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.

"And the Lord said to Moses, 'I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I have known you by name." Genesis 33:17 nasb)

The people who journeyed to the Promised Land didn't know it, but they enjoyed the presence of God because of one man's passion for Him.

One man's passion for God can make a difference we can't begin to imagine. 

D.L. Moody's friend, Henry Varley, once said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him." Moody vowed to be that man. He went on to have an evangelistic ministry on two continents that resulted in more than one million conversions.

One ordinary man, serving an extraordinary God, can do things most of us don't dare to dream. 

I'm just an ordinary woman. You're probably ordinary, too. It's easy to discount the kind of impact we could have on the world, but our surrendered lives, in the hands of God, can be part of incredible blessings. We can impact more than just the people around us. We can impact the world for God. 

If we will.

Varley was right. The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man or woman who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.

By God's grace, let's commit to be that one.


Our next Friday Night with Friends guest blog will post at 6 pm this Friday night. You don't want to miss it!

In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links: Friday Night with Friends: New BeginningThe Temperament Test and Married OnenessLeaving a Legacy: Choices That Last for GenerationsJumping to Conclusions: The Terrorists That Were NotNothing is Impossible: Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Morning Quiet Time: Who Speaks First.

#chronologicalBible #powerofone #changetheworld #Moses #presenceofGod #passion #disciple

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Morning Quiet Time: Who Speaks First?

I found two notes in the margin of my Bible as I was reading this morning that stopped me in my tracks. 

The passage was from Exodus 29. It was about the consecration of the priests and I was maybe not paying quite as much attention to priest consecration as I should. When I came to verse 43, I had to backtrack to get the full impact. I'll show you the two verses that spoke to me, then tell you what I learned.

"It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations
 at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, 
where I will meet with you, to speak to you there

And they shall know that I am the Lord their God 
who brought them out of the land of Egypt, 
that I might dwell among them. "  
Exodus 29:42, 46 nasb

My notes in the margin of my Bible (from 2/2005) read:

"The purpose of meeting with God daily is for Him to speak to me."

"The reason for bringing them out of bondage was so that God could dwell with them."

I don't know about you, but sometimes I forget who is supposed to be talking in these early morning quiet times of mine. There are days when my routine goes something like this:
Read a little Scripture. Run through a litany of prayer requests. Proceed to my day.

That's not the way quiet time with the Lord is supposed to go. 

It's not called quiet time because God is supposed to be quiet before us. It's called quiet time because we  are supposed to be quiet before Him. 

I hate to admit this, but I kinda wanted to read over what I'd written yesterday before I got to quiet time this morning. My laptop was in my hand, but I set it aside. "No, Lord. I'd rather hear from You first," I said and reached for my Bible. 

I was cruising through the passage when Exodus 29:42 hit me like a palm to the forehead. "I'd rather speak to you first, too," it seemed as if the Lord said. "I want to dwell with you. That's why I brought you out of your sinful life."

It's what God wants with all of us. He wants to abide, to dwell with us. To speak with us and help us live the kind of lives He intended for us.

We don't have to do life alone. God stands ready to walk through it with us, but the choice is ours.

Will we stop talking long enough to listen? 

Will we step outside our Egypt of sin and allow Him to dwell with us? 

We have a choice to make, and it's one we must make every day. 

No matter how busy we are, no matter how many concerns burden our hearts, the first One who should speak as we begin our day is the Lord God Almighty. If we'll listen, we might find He has exactly the words we needed to hear.

Our next Friday Night with Friends guest blog will post at 6 pm this Friday night. You don't want to miss it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Nothing is Impossible: Ayman al-Zawahiri

I've had terrorists on my mind. That's partly because I'm editing my first novel and it's filled with terrorists. It might also be because I've been jumping to conclusions and seeing terrorists where there were none.

All that terrorist thinking has reminded me of the time when I selected a terrorist of the week and asked you to pray for them.  It was July 6, 2014 and our terrorist of the week was Nasir al-Wuhayshi. He was the general manager of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and one of the most dangerous men in the world.  

His stated goal was to "destroy the cross. The bearer of the cross is America."

I use the past tense because he was killed in a drone attack in Yemen on June 12, 2015. He was 38 years old.  He left behind a legacy of death and destruction. 

I wept when he died, but not because I was sorry his reign of terror had come to an end. I wept because I had prayed for him to come to a saving knowledge of the Great I AM, but he never did. He died as he lived. A bitter and murderous man.

He had a choice and he made it, but I still grieve the lost potential of a man redeemed and transformed by the blood of Jesus. 

Stranger things have happened. Consider the Apostle Paul. 

My first terrorist for whom I prayed was Ayman al-Zawahiri.  He is Egyptian and was trained as a surgeon. He practiced medicine for a while, but now, he is a full-time terrorist. One of his wives and two of his children were killed by a U.S. bomb in Afghanistan. Their loss fueled his anger, but he was a terrorist before they died and eventually became the head of Al-Qaeda. He was instrumental in helping the ISIS expand and merge with other terrorist organizations to become ISIL. 

As a physician, one who is trained to preserve life, it is unthinkable that one of my colleagues would dedicate himself to the murderous atrocities of ISIL, but al-Zawahiri knows no bounds. 

Assassination. Kidnapping and torture. Bombings. He is responsible for the death of untold numbers of people.

Law enforcement officials around the world have tried and failed to stop him. 

Only God can bring this man to his knees. 

Only God can stop him.

Jesus said, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44 nasb) 

Ayman al-Zawahiri is one of those enemies for whom we are to pray and to love. With the command of Jesus in mind, I'm choosing to pray for him. I'm choosing to ask God to bring him to repentance and salvation. Whether it is through a dream or a vision or the testimony of a believer, I pray this evil man will be transformed. 

He's not the only terrorist for whom we need to pray, but he is the leader of a large group of terrorists. Imagine the impact his salvation could make. 

Praying for our enemies. As disciples, it's not optional. We have it to do. 

There's no better place to start than praying for Ayman al-Zawahiri. 

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, 
but with God all things are possible." 
(Matthew 19:26 niv)

photo from Wikipedia

Kathy McKinsey wrote a beautiful article for Friday Night with Friends, New Beginning. If you haven't read it yet, you can click here. You can read more by Kathy at her blog. Our next Friday Night with Friends guest blog will post at 6 pm this Friday night. You don't want to miss it!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Jumping to Conclusions: The Terrorists That Were Not

You may not know this, but I paid my way through medical school working as a nurse. I took the long way around to a medical career, but economics demanded it.

It was 1977, my senior year in nursing school, and the last course of the final semester. We were taking turns presenting our end-of-the-year projects in class and listening for hours every day. 

I'm not sure why our instructors made the decision to let us do needlework during the presentations, but it made sense to us at the time. The project I did was a needlepoint sampler with a profound truth. 

"A smile is the same in every language." 

I had just returned from three months in Central America doing medical missions. Some days, a smile was all that got me through. The needlepoint piece still hangs on the wall in my home. It's a constant reminder of the days when I was a stranger in a foreign land with nothing but a smile for communication.

That philosophy came back to me recently when two young men sat behind me in church. My first impression was that they were likely Middle Eastern. 

I hate to admit it, but the thought crossed my mind that they might be trouble. I surveyed my options for self-defense. I made a tentative plan. 

It was completely ridiculous. 

LIFE LESSON: Get all the facts before you jump to conclusions.

Just as I was pondering my options for self-defense, those words from 1977 came to mind. 

"A smile is the same in every language." 

The next thing that came to mind was "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35 nasb)

At that moment, I blushed with shame as I remembered the months I'd spent praying for terrorists by name and begging God for their salvation. (I've added the links to those blog posts below.)

Although I hate to admit it, my mind was racing in high gear. It sounds really silly now, I know, but, for a few minutes, I thought, "How very like God. After all those terrorist prayers, He has finally brought me some terrorists." If God had brought me some terrorists, I thought, He probably wanted me to try to introduce them to Jesus. 

I could possibly be a little over-zealous, but the Apostle Paul was, too.

As soon as the hand-shaking time started, I turned around, offered my biggest smile, and introduced myself. I shook hands and welcomed the two young men. After church, I talked to them again. 

I was determined to show the love of Christ to these young men, no matter who they were.

LIFE LESSON: Jesus loves everyone, and so should we, no matter who we "think" they are.

As it turned out, God had not brought me some terrorists at all. He had brought two young men who needed Jesus. Just like me. They weren't even from the Middle East.  

They didn't speak much English, so my smile, once again, was my language.

I prayed for those two men all week. Just in case.

Yesterday, during the singing, they walked in, accompanied by an older couple. One of the men had brought his Mama and Daddy. I was so glad to see them that I started to cry. Happy tears streamed down my face. 

LIFE LESSON: That's what praying for someone all week will do for you. 

I was out of my seat like a shot after the service ended. The taller of the men saw me heading his way, threw up a hand in greeting, and smiled. I greeted them all. When I reached my new friend, I told him, "I've been praying for you all week. I'm so glad you're here today." I meant it, and he knew it. He put his hand on his heart and grinned. 

All we could do was smile, but, as it turns out, a smile really is the same in every language, and we communicated just fine.

The next time I see someone who looks a little different, I hope I skip the conclusion jumping and go straight to showing the love of Jesus. 

After all, that's what we're supposed to do. Every single time.

Praying for Terrorists Links: 
The Terrorist Prayer List 
Praying for Terrorists: Nasir al Wuhayshi
Radical Obedience: Ibrahim al Asiri
Radical Obedience: Abubakar Shekau
Radical Obedience: Hamas and Khaled Meshaal
Radical Obedience: Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi
Praying for Nineveh
Remembering 9/11: How to Prevent A Terrorist Attack
Persevering for Paris
Resisting Evil 
Nigerian Nightmare

 #terrorists #smile #JesusChrist #disciple #loveoneanother #jumpingtoconclusions

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Leaving a Legacy: Choices That Last for Generations

I've finally come to the Ten Commandments in my chronological Bible study. Several of the women in my class bought a copy of The Chronological Bible, but I decided to stick with the Bible I've used for two decades and the notes I've accumulated in the margins. Today, I was glad I did.

We'll have a little word study here and then I'll put it all together, so bear with me.

The notes in the margin of Exodus 20 include a few notes from a sermon by Doug Tipps in January of 1977. (copied from the margins of my previous Bible) When God said "You shall not", the "you" in Hebrew is second person singular. It means that God is not just speaking to a multitude of people. He's speaking specifically and personally to each person. 

In a way, "You shall not" actually means, "Leanna shall not." Put your name in the place of the second person singular "you" and read these verses. It's sobering.

In Exodus 20:4, the word for "visiting" has a neutral root that has no emotional content. God "visits" us and reacts to what He finds. He sees us and responds to whatever life choices we have made.

The root word for "iniquity" means to twist or distort and conveys the idea that, when we sin, we twist or distort the perfect image of God He created in us.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at verses 4 - 6.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 nasb

When we choose to sin, it changes us. It leaves a twist or distortion in us that persists. 

Sin always leaves a scar. 

Those sin-scars may not be long, purplish, snakelike lines running down our face, but there are scars in us, even if they are visible only to God. 

Sin-scars leave an impact that can be felt for generations. 

When we sin, we impact more than ourselves. We impact our children and grandchildren, as well.

That may be hard to believe, but consider what might happen if I decided, in a moment of utter stupidity, to try a highly addictive drug. There's a history of addiction in my family and I, too, could become addicted. The cravings for the drug might drive me to do desperate things that could ultimately cause me to lose my home and property and alienate me from all those I love.

What would that do to my son? To the grandchildren I hope to see riding horses and playing in my pastures someday?

Nothing good would come of it. That's for sure.

We can easily see how a Big Bad Choice might leave scars for generations, but what about something like gossip? It's not less a sin, but is, perhaps, less visible. That, too, can lead to destruction of reputations and alienation of friends that lasts for generations.

Our choices matter.

The choices my parents made impacted me in significant ways. I am partly a product of my environment during my "growing up" years. My son is partly a product of those years, as well. Even his children will see something of the sequelae of my choices and of my parents' choices.

What, then, are we to do?

When temptation comes, and it will, considering our children and grandchild can help. Do we want the sin-scar this choice will cause? Do we want this choice to impact generations of our family or not? 

What we do leaves a legacy. It's our choice whether that legacy will be for good or for evil. 

What kind of legacy will we leave? The choice is ours, and it's one we make every day of our lives. 

Choices matter, so choose well. Their impact lasts much longer than we know.
Kathy McKinsey wrote a beautiful article for Friday Night with Friends, New Beginning. If you haven't read it yet, you can click here. You can read more by Kathy at her blog

#TenCommandments #choices #choosewell #leavealegacy #legacy #thousshaltnot #JesusChrist #disciple