Saturday, May 7, 2016

What Does God Want?

I read Psalm 4:5 this morning. "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness," the psalmist had written. My first question was, "What are the sacrifices of righteousness?" Here's what I found:

God gave detailed instructions about sacrifices in the Mosaic law, but He made one thing clear in His Word. He's not after a bunch of burnt cows and sheep. He wants hearts that are wholly His. Acts of obedience in the burnt offerings demonstrated the bent of people's hearts, but even that became nothing more than a ritual.

What God desires from us is a broken and contrite heart, a broken spirit. (Psalm 51:17) He wants us to see our sin as He does. He wants our sin to break our hearts and for that heartbreak to give us a repentant heart that wants to break free from the hold of sin. Can you see how much breaking is involved?

God wants us to offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 50:14). That's not just a listing of blessings. The sacrifice of thanksgiving is a difficult offering, and suggests that we give thanks in all things, even when it's hard. Even when we don't feel like giving thanks. Even when we feel ungrateful. Give thanks. It's not optional. When we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, we honor God. (Psalm 50:23)

He doesn't want the sacrifice of fasting that's just for show. He wants us to sacrifice with humility and sorrow over our sin. To sacrifice our sin in exchange for His righteousness. To sacrifice our hold on others for His freedom. To sacrifice our riches for generosity of spirit. To sacrifice our comfort to share with those in need. (Isaiah 58)

He wants us to offer a sacrifice of continuous praise (Hebrews 13:15)

A sacrifice of righteousness begins when we choose to sacrifice our will to His, when we praise Him when it's hard, thank Him when we don't feel grateful.

Let's offer a sacrifice of righteousness today. We'll have to begin with hearts broken by our own sin, but we can't stop there. Thanks and praise are integral to the sacrifice God desires.

I thank you, Lord, for ... 
I praise you, Lord, for ...

Let's do it together. I'll start us off. 

I thank You that I don't have to please man, as long as I please You.
I praise You for Your faithfulness and that I can trust You.

Now you try.  Comment below.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Golden, Medicinal Words

Coach Jon Ginn is the worship leader at Hope Church in Tupelo MS and he is also the lead worshipper. I am blessed every week by his worship and by his life and that of his sweet family. When I received this weekly "letter to the choir", I immediately asked to use it for Friday night with Friends. (He had written about words the week before. Rather than change his article, I've reprinted it just as it came to me.) I think you'll be blessed. This is Jon's first blog post, so be sure to give him lots of encouragement and love, because I hope it won't be his last.

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

 I know, I know, we just talked about the power of words last week, but I don't think we can be reminded of this fact enough. Being in Proverbs 25 today (today being the 25th) once again this principle stood out. Let me give you a quick word picture from my study Bible.

The apples refer to a decorative motif in jewelry, similar to the more familiar "pomegranate" pattern. (Ex. 39:24-25, 1 Kings 7:18) The image represents godly speech (a word fitly spoken or suited for the occasion). A wise reprover to a listening ear (Prov. 9:8b-9) is like gold jewelry; that is, stunningly beautiful and valuable (possibly because of its rarity).

When someone says the right thing at exactly the right time, it is a thing of beauty. Just like seeing a rare jewel or work of art gives us deep appreciation for God's creation and craftsmanship of man, a word spoken in this manner feeds our soul with godly instruction and hope.

Our words become medicinal when spoken through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the words we ought to say at the time we should say them (if we are in tune with Him - Matthew 10:20). Yes, some medicine is bitter when first tasted; this is true. However, the end result of healing and that is a beautiful thing.

May your words be beauty to those to whom you speak this week. 

#applesofgold #words 

Good Advice for a Son

I read a passage a few days ago that was so profound, I marked it so I could write about it later. 

Here's the setting: 
King David called all the officials of Israel to Jerusalem, along with the princes of the tribes and the military commanders. He brought all the civil, religious, and military leaders together for one gigantic meeting. 

He rose to his feet to make an announcement. He wanted to build a permanent house for God and had made preparations to build it. When David said he had made preparations, it was a classic understatement. He had drawn the plans, assembled the building materials, hired the builders. He'd done everything that was in his heart, not to get the people's accolades, but because He loved the Lord with his whole heart. 

It must have been a terrible blow to him when God said David was not to build His house. "You're a man of war and blood shed." If I'd been David, I'd have argued. "You're the One who made me a man of war. I was a shepherd before You got me started with warring." David, however, was a better follower than I. He just said, "Yes, Sir."

I might have tried to hide the blow from the leaders, or cushion it at bit, but not David. He said, "I wanted to do this, but God said I wasn't fit for the job." 

As God always does, He offered a "nevertheless". (this is the Leanna paraphrase coming up.) "I'm not going to let you build the temple, David, because you're a man of war. I need a man of rest to build it, so I'm going to let your son, Solomon, build it." 

As a parent, there is no greater joy than to see my son blessed, to see the favor of God rest on him. I imagine David was the same. 

David made his announcement. Solomon would build the temple. People probably gasped. Solomon was young for such a big project. 

David turned to Solomon and, with everyone listening, he gave words of wisdom to his son. If Solomon had heeded them, things in Israel would have turned out much differently.

"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him..." 1 Chronicles 28:9 nasb

David didn't give Solomon building advice, management suggestions, or tips for bringing such a project in on time.

He gave Solomon advice about his heart, his faith, his integrity.

A relationship with God was not too hard to have. Seek and find. That's all that's required to know God. 

If you seek Him, He'll let you find Him. 

In my mind's eye, I see a boy looking for God. When he least expects it, God steps out, laughing, and says, "Here I am!" Arms open wide, He welcomes the boy to the One he most desires. Right when the boy least expects it. Right when the boy thinks he won't find the object of his search. "Here I am!" God says when he lets the boy find Him.

Maybe the boy realizes it, or maybe he doesn't, but that seeking had a purpose. It solidified his resolve to find God. It pushed his desire. It made him value both the search and the finding. It might've been hard, but it was worth it.

David's relationship with God wouldn't do for Solomon. He had to find and build a relationship of his own. He had to own his faith.

Solomon was to seek and find God first, but when he did, David had a bit of wisdom for that, too. He'd learned from experience.

Get to know God. If you get to know Him, you'll want to serve Him.

Serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind.

Decide to serve God, and do it because you know Him and want to serve Him. Not because of something He might do for you.

It's good wisdom for us, too. Get to know God. If you seek Him, He'll let you find Him. When He does, you'll be so blown away by His goodness, His majesty, His personal love for you, that you'll want to serve Him.

What about us? Do we need to do a little seeking? Press a little harder to have a deeper relationship? 

Maybe what we need is a willing mind or an unfettered heart. 

If we seek Him, He will let us find Him. It's good news in a world that's filled with me.

Seek. Find. Love. Serve. Good words for a good life.
Check back tonight for Friday Night with Friends. Coach Jon Ginn is our guest blogger.

Studying God's Word is a good way to seek Him. Join us as we study Hosea in depth. Visit http// and get started today!

Here's the link to yesterday's post: A Story in Six Words

#goodadvice #GoodFriday #seekGod

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Story in Six Words

There's a style of writing known as "flash fiction", in which a story is told using a minimum number of words. I've done a little of this, and once write a story with exactly one-hundred words. It was quite a challenge.

The tale (oft repeated, though, according to Wiki, possibly an early urban legend) is told of Hemingway and his friends, sitting around a table and talking about the brevity of his writing style. A challenge was raised. Write a novel in six words. Hemingway's answer: "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."

Those six words give very little detail, but they paint a picture of sorrow and loss that is unmistakable. 

As Ryan, Hannah, and I walked through Piedmont Park recently, I noticed a park bench on which a man was seated. As we approached the bench, he stood up and walked away.

When he did, I was reminded of the writing exercise known as "photo writing." In this exercise, you are given a photo and have to write a story around it. 

I looked at the scene before me and speculated that the man had met a woman there every day for the last twenty-five years. Maybe today was the first time he'd ever come to the bench to find it empty. The woman had died and the bench would never be occupied in the same way again. He sat quietly for a few minutes, haunted by the loss, then walked away, never to return.

Hannah and Ryan agreed that was a great exercise, so I mentioned the six-word Hemingway exercise and we pondered the possibilities of combining the two. We decided to write a six-word novel for the man and the bench.

Empty bench. Love gone. Forever lonely.

We speculated on a few six words combos for a while before switching to another topic, but it's left me wondering about how to tell stories in six words. 

This morning, I'm pondering the possibility of telling our life stories with the same brevity.

Here are a few I like:

Broken dreams. Jesus' feet. Sinner redeemed.

Sin's wound. Blood applied. Heart healed.

Promise kept. Peace given. Future heaven.

God loved, gave, forgave, saved, transformed.

"And they overcame him (the accuser of the brethren)  because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony..." Revelation 12:11 nasb

Our witness to the power of Christ in our lives matters more than we realize, for it is a mighty weapon through which we can help to overcome the enemy of our soul. We must have a testimony that is known and ready to be shared.

It might seem like a pointless exercise, but we cannot share our witness to the power of Jesus in our lives if we've never considered it. When I think of the magnitude of the God-story of my own life, I realize it could not be contained by multiple volumes the size of War and Peace.To share it, I have to shorten it.

Whether you realize it or not, you, too, have a God-story that could not be contained by pen and paper. It's too big to tell the whole. To share it, you, too, have to shorten it.

Why not try a few six-word God-stories of your own. I'll be interested to see how you describe your own life in a few words. Is there hurt or sin in your story? Love? Redemption? 

Just six words. Try it and leave a comment below. 
If you've considered participating in the Hosea study, it's not too late to join. Visit http// and get started today!
In case you missed this:
Yesterday's post: The Thanker Job

Tuesday's post: Writing Fiction and Handing Off Pain

Update on the Bible study: 
 My Latest Adventure 
#sixwordnovel #testimony #linesfromleanna

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Thanker Job: Cultivating a Habit of Thanksgiving

King David wanted to build a house for God, but God assigned that job to a "man of rest". Solomon, would build the temple. David wasn't sure his son was up to the job. Solomon was too young and inexperienced to tackle the work David most wanted, so he made a plan.

David would completely design the temple and the work flow and assignments. He would gather all the building materials and the workmen. One everything was collected, he would trust Solomon to put them all together. 

When the temple was built, the Levites wouldn't have to carry around the implements, so David assigned them a new job. They were to be the official "thankers" and "praisers".

"And they are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the Lord, and likewise every evening." 1 Chronicles 23:30 nasb

I read those words and was reminded of Exodus 19:6, in which God told Moses that Israel would be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." 

David may have assigned the job of morning and evening praise and thanksgiving to the Levites, but I believe God has assigned that job to us all.

I read those words in 1 Chronicles 23 yesterday and immediately began to make my morning list of thanksgiving and praise. I started with the goodness of God and the ways He has shown Himself faithful to me. I continued with thanksgiving for my family and the people with whom He has surrounded me. 

The list of thanksgiving and praise was long and sweet. As the day wore on, I continued to think of things to add to my list. I was still giving thanks and praise when time for the evening praise and thanksgiving rolled around.

This morning, I had even more things for which to give thanks and I realized that, when we cultivate a habit of thanksgiving and praise to our Lord, it changes us and makes us focus on the good in our lives. It brings more joy, more contentment, more peace.

This is a habit I plan to keep. Morning and evening thanksgiving and praise. It's such a nice way to start the day. Why not try it? I've set an alarm for every twelve hours so I can be sure to do the job that must be done.

Professional thanker. Professional Praiser. Jobs worth having. Help wanted. Apply on your knees.
If you've considering participating in the Hosea study, it's not too late to join. All ages. Men and women alike have joined. We'd love to have you. Visit http// and get started today!
In case you missed this:
Yesterday's post: Writing Fiction and Handing Off Pain

Update on the Bible study: 
 My Latest Adventure 
#givethanks #praise #linesfromleanna

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Writing Fiction and Handing Off the Pain

A fellow writer and I were discussing the benefits of purging our emotional hurts by writing them out. The exercise forces you to address the wound, examine it in detail, and (if you are willing) let it go.

I had a suggestion. "Make it fiction. Give it to a character, help him/her work through it, and demonstrate an opportunity to grow through it. It'll give the character more depth, true emotion will shine through, and you can touch the hurt without spilling your guts. It removes the sting."

We discussed the various merits of this technique for a while. When my novels finally get finished, the characters might or might not have a few of the troubles I have had. (I thank God I haven't experienced all they have!)

This morning, as I waited for the coffee to finish dripping through the machine, our conversation replayed in my head. "Give it to the character" echoed around for a bit and then a little whisper in my heart said, "Why don't you just give it to Me?"


When we experience wounds of any kind, be they emotional hurts or physical ones, we have a choice. We can hang on to the pain, ladle the pain onto someone else, or take the pain to the Healer of Our Souls and leave it in His competent hands.

I haven't always chosen the latter, but I've learned it's the best thing to do. When we cast our burdens on the Lord, He doesn't just sustain us, He heals us. 

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds us their wounds." Psalm 147:3 nasb

Not long ago, I experienced a hurt that had some sting to it. I don't always respond quite so quickly, but that day, there wasn't time for whining or mulling or nursing the wound. Instead, I did the most sensible thing of all. I gave it to the Lord.

"I don't know what to do about this, Lord, so I'm giving it to you. If you want me to do something, You'll have to make it clear." It wasn't a fancy prayer, but it was good enough, I guess, because God took the hurt, healed it, and showed me how to navigate through it.

Next time, I hope I give my hurts to the Lord right away, without wasting time on brooding. He doesn't just take the sting out. He heals the hurt from the inside out.

Maybe I'm not the only one who's experienced a few of those stinging hurts. Those agonizing, twisting-dagger-to-the-soul wounds. If you have some of those wounds with persistent sting, why not do the most sensible thing of all? Quit brooding about the hurt and hand it off to the One who will bind, and balm, and heal.

Best of all, when you give your sorrow to the Lord, you won't leave empty-handed. In it's place, God will give you the joy of the Lord. 

Sorrow to joy. It's a trade worth making.

Why not do it today?
In case you missed it, here's my post from Sunday: My latest adventure
The Hosea Bible study has started but it's not too late to join.

Here's the link from yesterday: The Fancy Paint Job and the Crummy Roof
#writerslife #sorrow #castyourburdens #faithlife

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Fancy Paint Job and the Crummy Roof

I had a wonderful time over my birthday weekend. My son had planned activities for the entire time. I am still in awe of the gracious love he poured over me like a balm. We made sweet, sweet memories.

Ryan had planned for us to attend a parade and festival in one of the neighborhoods in Atlanta. There were gorgeous old homes, many of which had been restored to showplaces. One house in particular was very impressive. It had been painted a rich forest green with brown and tan trim. It was lovely. 

We rested on the curb for a few minutes and watched as one person after another stopped to photograph the house. As I considered it and the attention it gathered, my eye was drawn to the roof. It was in terrible shape. There were numerous missing shingles.

The owners had taken great care to make the outside look good, but, for whatever reason, hadn't secured the inside by repairing the roof. I wondered if that job was next on their list. If it was a new problem. If they couldn't agree on roofing materials. If they hadn't noticed because their eyes were fixed on things below.

There wasn't a hole in the roof that I could see, but, without attention, the roof would soon be a problem.

I sat on the curb, fanned myself with a hand-fan, and pondered how often my own eyes are fixed on things below. 

How often do I focus on the appearances in my life rather than my Shelter in the storms of life? 

How often do I worry about the cosmetic changes but not the most important structural changes needed in my life? 

My priorities? 

My relationship with our Lord? 

Today, let's take a close look at the entire "house" of our lives. Are we taking care of the one thing that secures our "insides", our souls? Are we focusing our attention on our relationship with God or our relationship with the world? 

An attractive outside may be pleasant to behold, but is of little value if the inside isn't secure. 

"God is our refuge and strength, 
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride."
Psalm 46:1-3 nasb
ps - the photo is of my house, not the fancy one, and it has a good roof.
In case you missed it, here's my post from yesterday: My latest adventure
The Hosea Bible study has started but it's not too late to join.
#shelter #Mondaymeditation #linesfromleanna

Sunday, May 1, 2016

My latest adventure

It seems like just yesterday, but it was March 31, 2016 that a sweet friend of mine asked me if I had a Bible study she could do. I've written a variety of studies over the years, so I headed to my filing cabinet to find something for her to study. As my hand touched the drawer, I felt so clearly, "You could write something for her." 

I had way too much to do already. There was no way I could add a project of this enormity, but God was in it and it has come together. Pastor Terry Faulkner brought me a laptop loaded with a suite of commentaries to use. Pastor Scooter Noland gave me his own research notes into Hosea. 

The time in which Hosea lived and ministered is so much like our own that it's a sobering look at the result of poor choices and rampant idolatry. 

People have encouraged and prayed and joined in the journey with me. Today, a mere 31 days later, that study my friend wanted is a reality. 

I'm reminded of what happened when Hezekiah reopened the temple.

"Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly." 2 Chronicles 29:36 nasb

I may be the only one rejoicing, but there's no doubt in my mind that God prepared this study and it "came about suddenly." 

I'm including a link in case you want to check it out and/or join us in this adventure. I'm writing as fast as I can and hope to stay a few weeks ahead of the participants. 

There's a Closed Facebook group for discussion (if you want to join just let me know) and a dedicated blog for the study. (

If you're interested in a little peek, here's the link to the intro:

and here's the link to the first lesson:

I'd love it if you'd join us for all or part of the study.

God bless,
#Biblestudy #Hosea #lessonsindiscipleship