Just for fun, I was recently asked to come up with a devotional for our Liberty Ladies Game NIght using popular games and how they can be likened to our walk with God. There were three games that struck me… Ready to play?!
Apples to Apples: This is a game of comparison where there is a main word and each player lays down a card from cards they were dealt, based on their perspective and how that card relates to the main word.
In life, we have been given “The Word”- The Word of God. We each have been given a unique set of cards that life has dealt us. We do our best to “play” those cards according to how we perceive what we think God and His Word are telling us.
There are times in the game of Apples to Apples when we don’t have a single card to play and we have to throw down a random card. Inasmuch as when God calls us to do something or believe in Him for the impossible and we don’t have the physical ability or faith to offer.
As in the game, where one person determines the final outcome, so it is with God, Who determines the final outcome from our “leaps of faith”. (Faith the size of a mustard seed and in the unseen.)
Chutes and Ladders: Chutes and Ladders reflects the “Ups and Downs” of life. Sometimes by our own choices, sometimes repercussions resulting from the choices of others. The downward spirals and upward climbs can be short or they can be longer. Unlike the game, however, where you can just “whoop” up the ladder, the climb of life is painstakingly rung by rung.
Ever notice the longest ladder in the game is the one that takes you the furthest and the closest to where you want to be?
It takes Perseverance and Tenacity. (Romans 5:35) “… knowing that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…”
Reverse Charades: I find it interesting that it is from three people acting out and that one person is guessing. Like the way I often try to figure out and second guess what I think the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are doing with situations in my life, instead of just “Being still” and trusting that they’ve got it handled.
We become the great “Spiritual Sherlocks” parading through each room in our “mind palaces” to solve what we think are pieces of evidence. Especially when it looks like nothing is really happening. BUT…(Hebrews 11:1) “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Unlike the game, where guessing makes us the winner; with God, our guessing is in essence the taking of control out of His hands as we try to work it with our own minds.
In Conclusion: Life with God is a journey. A journey that is “not about whether you win or lose, but it is all in how you play the game. A life invested in and trusting in God ultimately wins in the end!
That's the Book: Haggai
This was a beautiful weekend. Sunny, time with family, good results from an EKG. Catch your attention? Sure caught mine. Saturday afternoon I felt a weight on my chest. The kind all those Pinterest meme's about women's heart attack symptoms being different than men's tell you not to ignore. So I hauled into the urgent care. Said enough magic words to earn an ambulance ride and full workup at the local ER. Turns out my heart is completely fine. Not sure what happened but might have been a mix of a nasty allergic reaction and a bit of paranoia from too many recent visits to friends and family in the hospital. As I read through the book of Haggai, I'm feeling grateful and paying attention.
In 520 BC the Babylonian empire fell to the Persians. The Israelite people in captivity were given a the opportunity by the Persians to return to Israel. A remnant returned and were using all their time and resources to rebuilding their homes but were completely neglecting rebuilding the temple. Haggai encouraged them to get to work! Gratefully they did. As they worked some of the people were discouraged by the size of this new temple compared to the grand temple of Solomon. Haggai's message was the same. One of encouragement. Be strong. Look to God. Be faithful. Keep working. The future is bright. It's the same message to us.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways.'" Haggai 1:7
As I'm sitting here this Memorial Day I'm grateful for the sacrifice others have made for my freedom. I'm sickened by recent hateful events and praying for insight to how to respond. I'm pondering work life balance. I'm wondering if I'm sewing seeds of hope around me. I'm thinking through the input I receive in my life. Too much junk food. Too much time online. Considering invitations and motivations. Clearly I need to eat better, exercise more often, detox on technology. Its a time for thought. Here is a list of ten questions you may want to ask yourself. Give careful thought to your ways.
1. Do the people who matter most in my life know that I love them?
2. Do my actions match my faith?
3. Is there someone I need to forgive?
4. Are my habits dragging down my health? or my story? or my family's health?
5. Is there someone I should thank?
6. Am I using all my resources for myself only? What can I cut or give to support what God is doing?
7. Do I have questions I need to trust God to answer?
8. Is my version of success the same as what God wants?
9. Am I vested in heaven? What can I do to be more heaven focused?
10. What do I do to rest, to restore, to renew?
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list. And its not supposed to trigger guilt or frustration or despair. Mindfulness is a way to get to freedom. To peace. To growth.
"Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, and work. For I am with you," declares the Lord Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear."
I love this verse. Broken and weak is useful to God because its where we can be molded and grown. But His instruction for us is to be strong. To work. To not fear. The reason that is all possible is because HE is with us. Be strong and work FOR I am with you. God is the purpose and the power. Can I encourage you today? God wants you to get help. He wants you to ask the hard questions and find the reasons for the stress. He wants you to think and face and ponder the truth. But its because His goal for you is for health. To be mighty for and through Him. Now - just like the people in Haggai's day were distressed because the work of their hands was smaller than they thought it should be - sometimes we forget the long view. God will eventually set all things right. The seeds we sow now may be for eternity not for next week. But the effort will produce results. His spirit remains among us. Wherever we go. Give careful thought.
The team at Read Scripture hits it again. Your choices MATTER. Read and see what Haggai has to do with your story.
I think I need this shirt. You might need one too. Faith Over Fear. He is with you.
Lands!! The Pacific NW knows how to dress in pretty weather. Have you looked around? If not, do so quickly. The rhodies are blooming and its a gorgeous time to be alive. I'm going to draw a winner for free dessert (think Burgerville Strawberry Shortcake ) from the people who post a pretty picture of the blooming rhododendrons in your life. Email me on at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the QuirkyFaith Facebook page. I have a prize too for the first person who comments and knows what book I got the word Lands from as an expression.
Quirky Faith has a birthday coming. Whoop whoop! Today though I am happy to report a milestone. Quirky Faith must be official. Here is proof. Yup that's right. We hit the big time. We now are receiving junk mail.
I was out of town last week at a work conference. One night I was eating by myself at this classy restaurant with a view of the river. Sometimes alone is lovely. I ordered a huge plate of pasta. As I sat there I thought about fake pasta. You know. Zucchini noodles and chicken sausage. I get it. I like my pants to fit too. But really. The fake pasta has nothing on this big plate of cheese, meat and carb goodness. I do that in my spiritual life sometimes. Substitute conversations about God instead of prayer. Read commentaries instead of the actual Bible. I plug in a lesser and pretend I don't notice its not as good as the real thing. Do you?
That's the Book: Zephaniah
I've got four Old Testament books of the Bible to go. People ask me how I get anything out of words which were written thousands of years ago. Sometimes I follow Pastor Rick Warren's advice on this one and put my name in the verses. I tried it with the book of Zephaniah. It hurt. And then it was healing.
The book of Zephaniah tells the story of the prophet who went to tell King Josiah to bring the people back to God. King Josiah did so. These words brought life to the nation. May they bring life to you today.
Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one. She accepts no corrections. She does not trust in the Lord. She does not draw near to her God. Zephaniah 3:1
Mindy obeys no one. Mindy accepts no corrections. Mindy does not trust in the Lord. Mindy does not draw near to her God.
Try it with your name. See if the prophets words ring true. If so, just like King Josiah, heed the warning and reject these as your truth. Make the reverse your truth.
How about these words?
The Lord within her is righteous. He does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. Zephaniah 3: 5
Sing, Daughter Zion: shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. Zephaniah 3:14-15
Sing, Mindy. Shout aloud, Mindy! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Mindy! The Lord has taken away Mindy's punishment.
Oh Glory BE! Can I get an Amen??
Part of the faith journey is accepting as truth what you read. Learning to live by the principals and edicts written down. Part of the faith journey is also laying aside the lies you believed formerly. Letting go of the words which the enemy of your soul likes to play as a background to your daily life. If you have competing inner dialogues may I encourage you to actively pursue both parts of faith? The accepting of the words of truth AND the rejecting of the words which weigh you down?
Here are some lies to let go. They are not true.
What I did is too bad to be forgiven.
I don't deserve to have my punishment taken away.
God doesn't really love me.
What people say about me matters more than what the Bible says about me.
I won't ever be healed.
The fear is here to stay.
Take a stand today. Reject the words of death. Accept these instead.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3: 17
The Lord your God is with you my friends. Insert your name. The Lord your God is with you Michelle. With you Heather. With you Elizabeth. With you Chris. The Mighty Warrior who saves you Joe. Who saves you, Michael. Who saves you, Aaron. He will take great delight in you, Sarah. He takes great delight in you, Nicole. In his love he will no longer rebuke you, Jennifer. He will no longer rebuke you Amy. He will rejoice over you Jill with singing. Over you Dylan with singing. Over you Meghan and Sue and Corrie. Over you Wendy and Jolene and Kavita and Armida and the list goes on. Plug in your name. These are the words of life. Can I get an Amen?
What lies do you want to let go of today? What truths are you going to embrace as your own?
Straight from Zephaniah. Ready for some signing? Try these ones.
Way to go team at The Bible Project. I say it every week. These are a great resources. Watch.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words, no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1 – 4
All of the earth is constantly proclaiming the glory of God. The wind rustles tree leaves, the sun moves in a consistent, daily, hourly pattern. Time passes at the same speed, without fail. Seasons change, clouds form, rain falls. Even though these things don’t have a true voice, they don’t have words, as we do. Their ACTIONS bring glory to the King.
This should be an example to us – when we don’t have the right words, we should use our actions to glorify Him. Colton Dixon said it best; “When I can’t find the words, to say how much it hurts, You are the healing in my heart…if I had no voice, if I had no tongue, I would dance for You like the rising sun.”
Oftentimes, we as human beings can feel helpless and not know what to say, either in response to an issue or offering a word of comfort or otherwise. But, if I recall correctly, one of the oldest phrases out there is, “Actions speak louder than words.”
A comforting touch can mean more than a comforting word.
An act of service can mean more than a word of advice or support.
I recently had to help a very dear person in my life go through the process of having surgery done on her heart. As I was waiting for her during the procedure, I was reading through Psalms, and the above quoted verse popped out at me. It was perfect timing, of course, given that God is so skilled at providing the right thing at the right time. I was struggling with figuring out how to comfort my very dear human during this scary time. I couldn’t figure out the words to say to provide the comfort she needed. All I could think to speak was, “I love you” before she went into the operating room.
I waited patiently during her procedure. Afterwards, she was still heavily sedated and taken back to her room, where I could finally join her again. I waited anxiously for the doctor to come in and tell me how the procedure went. I kept hearing the nurses throw around the word “unsuccessful” and immediately my mind was racing, trying to figure out how to break this news in a gentle, comforting way.
Eventually, the doctor came in and shared with me that the procedure was indeed, unsuccessful. I sat there, stunned. Yes, there was a plan of future action, and hope was certainly not lost. But in that moment all I could do was sit there and look at this person who meant so much to me, as she laid there half asleep and unaware of the procedure results. I quietly sat there, contemplating how I was going to keep myself AND her held together.
When she finally woke up, the first thing she did was turn her head towards me and ask, “Did I hear him correctly…? It was unsuccessful?” All I could reply, was “Yes” followed by a general summary of what the doctor told me. Pure frustration and defeat crossed her face as she turned away from me and stared at the ceiling. I felt my heart shatter as I struggled to find words of comfort. Everything that was going through my head (“But hey, maybe there’s a bright side…” “Everything happens for a reason…” “At least you know now what ISN’T wrong…” ) were all things that I knew she was fully aware of and would be pointless for me to even attempt to say. Instead, all I could think to do was place my had on her arm and pray. I can only hope that my presence at least offered some comfort, but as soon as I took ACTION, I personally felt peace. I didn’t have to speak…my actions spoke for me.
On the grander scale of life, God calls us to take action for His Kingdom. He calls us to talk the talk and walk the walk. Oftentimes, I feel like we use words as a crutch to avoid taking action. We feel as though if we say something, it’s just as good as doing it. But hey…it’s not. You can’t just SAY you’re going to go brush your teeth so your morning breath disappears. Your morning breath ain’t gonna disappear until those bristles scrub those pearly whites – hate to break it to y’all, but it’s just not happenin’.
One of my favorite – actually, it IS my favorite – songs is “I Won’t Let You Go” by Switchfoot.
“When it feels like surgery, and it burns like third degree, and you wonder ‘What is it worth?’ When your inside’s breaking in, and you feel that ache again, and you wonder ‘What’s giving birth’? When your fear is currency, and you feel that urgency – you want peace, but there’s war in your head. Well maybe that’s where life is born, when all facades are torn. Pain gives birth, to the promise ahead. If you could let the pain of the past go of your soul, none of this is in your control – if you could only let your guard down, if you could learn to trust Me somehow, I swear that I won’t let you go.”
LETTING your guard down. LEARNING to trust. HE WON’T LET YOU GO.
These are all actions – no words necessary.
If the wind, the trees, the sun, the rain, the clouds, seasons, even TIME can glorify God by actions without words – why can’t you?
That's the Book: Habakkuk
I think we need to talk about how to handle bad news. I've sat in a few hospital rooms lately. Again. Friends and family waiting to hear diagnoses, test results and treatment plans. I've talked to people waiting on court decisions, job layoffs, financial crisis and marital tensions. Laws change. People leave. Goodness. You do know in this messed up and dark place we're all going to get bad news at some point? Having a plan for when it comes is critical.
The book of Habakkuk is only three chapters long. In the first chapter, Habakkuk asks God a hard question. WHEN? When are you stopping the horror around us? God answer is to wait. He fully will. God is sending judgment to set right what is wrong.
The second chapter Habakkuk asks another question common to us. WHY? Why are the evil people allowed to overcome God's chosen? God's answer is they won't always. The end game is good.Problem was the time between Habakkuk's question and the promised restoration included a prophecy for great destruction, judgment and heartache. Epic bad news.
Chapter three is a song Habakkuk sings to the Lord. This prophet's response is a gorgeous plan of how to face our hardest days. When I read through this song I saw a good plan of how to handle bad news.
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled. Habakkuk 3:16
When you get bad news don't be afraid to react. Cry. Yell a Psalm out loud. Call a friend. Pray with all the words- the angry, sad, descriptive, big words. Tell the truth.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us. Habakkuk 3:17a
The waiting. Ugh. Hurts in the tummy. Tightness can't breathe. Waiting. But all the panic, fretting, and worry only makes it worse. The key to getting through bad news is to pause. Patience. My mama says to remember it won't always be this way. Take a walk. Give a hug. Color. Wait patiently.
REJOICE IN THE LORD
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3: 17b -18
Gratitude in everything. It certainly does not take away the sharp pain but thankfulness does make a way forward. It's like breathing through contractions in childbirth. Need a list? Try thanking God for friends, for doctors, for food, for clean water. For grace. Don't let yourself off the task until you can breathe.
KNOW THE SOURCE OF STRENGTH
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19a
Bad news can shake your emotions. It can drastically change your plans. But it can not remove God. Bad news does not delete heaven. It does not change eternity. He is able to carry you through. The path may be steep but God can make your steps steady. The key to bad news? Don't do it alone.
You are going to get more out of the Bible Project's Read Scripture video than whatever new cat video or pop culture dating news was next on your scroll list. Take the time.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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