Weekend Walk, 08/11/2012: Devotions From My Garden: Beautiful Attraction

We enjoyed a special visit with grandparents this week and they brought with them gifts, as is the way of grandparents.  One of our surprise presents were two tiny plants that they grew from seeds.

They are butterfly plants.  I looked them up online and saw into our future.  They bloom with brightly colored purple, pink and blue flowers.

And they attract butterflies.

This, of course, is the most exciting kind of plant we can grow in our garden that blooms right outside my daughters’ bedroom window.

Pink, purple and blue . . . and a butterfly magnet?

That has “King girls” written all over it.

I’ll be transplanting these tiny green plants into the garden this weekend and then we’ll watch and wait for the day that the first butterfly visits our flowers.

Of course, these aren’t the only kinds of plants that have a peculiar attractive quality.  Some flowers catch the eye of hummingbirds and the shoots of dill and parsley in our garden are the diet-of-choice for the Easter black swallowtail.

In the same way, we as Christians are to have an attractive quality about us that draws people to stop a while, turn aside, glance our way and choose to linger in our presence and know our Savior.

But if we’ve let our life plants wither and die, grow scrawny and unattractive, or deprive them of the necessary nutrients for our fruit of the spirit to bloom, then we’ll fail to attract others to Jesus.  Even worse, we might repel them.

So, this week, I’m meditating on a verse that reminds me to be a sweet scent of Christ in the world, a reminder to others who meet me and know me of God’s love:

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

The Meaning of Life

My oldest daughter wants to be a ballet-dancing scientist and teacher (not a science teacher, mind you, a scientist and a teacher who also does ballet on the weekends).

My middle daughter wants to be a magician who also tells jokes (thanks to the program we saw at our public library this summer by a very funny magician-entertainer).

I can’t even count how many possible careers I once considered to be the definitive answer to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Pastor, college professor, librarian, pianist, lawyer, editor, teacher.  Any and all of them were on the list at some point.

Most of them probably still are on the list if I’m being truthful.

The thing about life is that so often we’re looking for that one overarching purpose.  What were we made for?  What did God put us on the earth to do?

And if our answer is at all ordinary or seemingly unsubstantial, it seems like not enough.  Our hunt for that one grand design continues.

We ravage books on anything that will help us find the neon sign of God’s will for our lives.

To me, though, the ultimate end of such books is sometimes disillusionment.  Inevitably, the author discovers through miraculous circumstances that he’s meant to be a missionary to Africa or she is meant to lead an international ministry to the “least of these.”

Meanwhile, you may be reading this blog in between diaper changes and laundry cycles.  Or maybe you’re munching away on your lunch at your desk with papers to file on the left and accounts to enter on the right.

So, what does this mean exactly?  Does God only have a purpose for some of us and the rest are just fodder for the world economy or babysitters for the next generation?  Are we “ordinary folks” the rejects God decided He couldn’t use for any truly meaningful life purpose?

Or does God have some top-secret design for our lives and we just haven’t performed the correct magical ritual to unlock it–the five simple steps to discovering our purpose?

Of course, there’s a very real way to miss out on God’s plans for you.   If we aren’t willing to obey what He says, we will not be in His will.

Yet, there are those of us who have prayed heartfelt confessions of submission so many times and we’re still searching for the plan.

Honestly, as a teenager I was baffled at how some prophets responded to God’s call. God said, “Go” and so many of them (Moses, Jeremiah, Gideon, Barak) answered, “I’m too young.  I can’t.  Send someone else.”

Now, if God said to me, “Go,” I was sure I’d be the “Here am I, send me” kind of girl.  I’d be like an audience member picked to be on The Price is Right, screaming my head off all the way to the stage in wild excitement.

But there are times when it feels like our names just aren’t being called.  Others take the stage and are commissioned.  We clap for them and listen even harder for our turn.

Have you been there?

Perhaps, though, we need to stop searching for one sole purpose like there’s only one point to our life.  The truth is, God has a plan for you and that plan involves here and now and not just tomorrow.

Colossians 1:16b tells us, “all things were created through him and for him” (ESV)

Chris Tiegreen writes:

“If you have ever struggled to find meaning in your life, consider this amazing truth: You were created for Jesus.  You weren’t created incidentally as a by-product of the rest of creation.  You were specifically designed for Him.  You are a bride, handpicked for the Bridegroom; or an adopted son, chosen specifically by His Father” (Worship the King, p. 104).

God created us for Him.  More specifically, Scripture says:  “Everyone who is called by My Name, whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7)

Why are you here?  What’s your grand purpose?  What’s God’s plan for your life?

To give Him glory.

Today that might mean dishes, diaper changes and laundry—with a cheerful heart, fully invested in the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the children God has specifically placed in your care.

Today it might mean praying for a coworker in the next cubicle over.  It might mean quitting one job and starting on another.  It might mean mentoring a younger woman or meeting with your neighbor for coffee.

God doesn’t just have a plan for your life: He has a plan for your every day.  Don’t become so focused on the grand design that you miss the beautiful, God-ordained moments of ministry He brings across your path today and tomorrow and the next day.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Weekend Walk, 03/17/2012—Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hiding the Word:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

My kids have been asking me all week, “What are we doing for St. Patrick’s Day?”  They are imagining a holiday full of parties, gifts, special programs, and elaborate meals.

I answer, “Wear green.  That’s what we do.”

On a whim, I did ask if anyone wanted green eggs and ham for breakfast, fully expecting the response of “EEEEWWWWW, disgusting, no way!”

Amazingly, only one daughter opted for a Pop Tart over the green concoction I cooked up on the stove.  Lesson being—only offer to make green eggs and ham when you actually intend to cook it.  Fortunately I had the necessary food coloring to make good on my word.

My middle daughter insists on calling this Leprechaun’s Day and I’ve been correcting her every time.  I know what she’s doing; she’s trying to spice up this otherwise bland holiday with some fun and folklore.  She is a child captivated by stories and attracted by the imaginary.

So, I called my daughters to the computer this morning and we talked about how this all started anyway.  We wear green and eat crazy meals of green food and the cabbage most people avoid the rest of the year all because of a missionary.

Really, that’s the bottom line.  Patrick, a young teen living in Roman Britain from the 5th century, was kidnapped and enslaved in Ireland for years.  After escaping and returning to his family, he felt that he had to return to the land of his enslavement, where Christianity had not reached and where people didn’t know about God.  It was his bravery as a missionary pioneer that we celebrate today.

It seems fitting, then, that our verse for the week centers on missions.  I hope you’ll join me in meditating on this verse all week long, praying over it and perhaps even memorizing it:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  (Romans 10:13-15).

For the history fans among you, I found this video on the history of the holiday.  Enjoy!

]Weekend Rerun:

A Matter of God
Originally Published 03/17/2011

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you”
2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV

I am a contest-enterer, but only very rarely a contest-winner.  About one-and-a-half years ago, I participated in the adult summer reading program at our local library.  Every month that I read some books (only one of my most favorite things to do in life!), I could place my name in the hat for a prize drawing.  Then the day came when the librarian called me on the phone and said I had won.  I was ecstatic!  When I picked up my little trinket of a prize at the library, it didn’t even matter that it was only worth about $5.  I felt like I had won the lottery!

Even when I play board games, I usually lose, and I certainly lose if the game involves rolling the dice, having the highest card or getting the ice cream princess in Candy Land.  I think my kids like playing games with me because I don’t let them win, and yet they always win despite my best efforts.

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day I was thinking of how I am so very unlucky, but I am so very blessed.  I’m thankful that my life is not at all dependent on luck, but is instead dependent on God’s mercy, love, and strength.   The Psalmist told God, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:15, NIV).  I can have full confidence that my times are in God’s hands–my every day, my moment by moment, all entrusted to Him.

In my devotional time recently, I’ve been reading 2 Chronicles, which is one of my most favorite books of the Bible.  There is a clear, unmistakable trend in this book about the kings of Judah and Israel.  Almost every one of the kings had a life-defining moment when the nation was surrounded by a massive army that was better-equipped and more experienced than they were.

Every time a king fought the enemy in his own strength, either by amassing a defensive force or by making treaties with other nations, he was defeated.  Yet, when a king turned to God and prayed for His intervention and help, he was miraculously saved.   Often, the enemy troops would become confused and fight amongst themselves or they would simply run away in terror without ever engaging in battle.

Luck had nothing to do with it.

One of my favorite examples is King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  Like many other kings, he faced a vast enemy army.  The Bible tells us, “Alarmed, Jehosaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3).

He was alarmed.  He was emotionally distraught about this seemingly impossible situation.  All the circumstances told him that he was about to be defeated and his people slaughtered on the battlefield.

So, with all of his fear of certain defeat, Jehoshaphat turned it all over to God.  The whole nation fasted and then he prayed with them publicly.  In his prayer, he said, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV).

Oooh, that verse sends chills up my spine.   In so many of our life situations we have no idea what to do.  We’ve worked everything out on paper and still come out short.  There is just no physical, tangible way for us to defeat the enemy we are facing.

Those are the very moments when we need to look to God, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).

That’s what Jehoshaphat did and God answered his prayer, saying: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).  The next morning, instead of sending out his best troops against the enemy, Jehosphat “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness” (2 Chronicles 20:21, NIV).  The singers lifted up their praises to God and the enemy was totally annihilated without Jehoshaphat’s army raising a spear.  All they had done was worship God.

Scripture tells us they named that battle site the Valley of Beracah or the Valley of Praise.   Ultimately, “the fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.  And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for His God had given him rest on every side”  (2 Chronicles 20:29-30, NIV).

Are you in a valley, surrounded by circumstances that will most certainly defeat you?  Your survival isn’t a matter of luck, it’s a matter of God, and our God is trustworthy, dependable, faithful and mighty.  Resolve to fix your eyes on God and not on your physical “reality.”  Resolve to transform your valley into a valley of praise.   That is when God is glorified and we find rest.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #1, Barnabas

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

We have the world’s largest dress-up collection.

Our closet holds two Rubbermaid containers full of tiaras, fairy wands and wings, long flowing dresses, and clickety-clacky high-heeled shoes.

But after my daughters choose their perfect outfits, they find themselves missing a piece in most of their fairy-tale games.

They can play Sleeping Beauty, but there’s no prince to wake her up.

They can play Cinderella, but there’s not much point in going to a ball if you have no dance partner.

They can play Snow White, but once she eats the poisoned apple, she’s a goner without a prince to rescue her.

With three girls in the family, we’ve got the princess roles pretty well covered, but we’re always missing the prince.  My oldest daughter always suggests what seems like the perfect solution, “Mom, if you just had a boy than he could play with us.”

Never mind that he won’t pop out of the womb and instantly be ready to ride over the hill and wake sleeping princesses.  Or that even if they waited until he was five years old, he might prefer playing Legos to wearing tights and a feather cap and dancing at balls.

My girls are missing a role.

It’s made me think about the roles we are sometimes missing in our own lives and ministries.  Maybe we all could do some recruiting for some open positions in our circle of friends.

Job posting #1: Barnabas

  • Must be willing to believe in you when no one else does.
  • Must always “have your back” and stand up for you against opposition.
  • Must know exactly the right encouraging words to say when you need it most.
  • Must be willing to work alongside you and give you friendship and practical help in whatever God calls you to do.

All applications will be considered.  Deadline for applying is as soon as you can! Equal opportunity employer.

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to put their arms around you and say, “You’re great.  You’re beautiful.  I believe in you.  What you do matters.  Don’t quit.  I’m with you all the way.”?

You need a Barnabas.

We all do, I suppose.

It’s hard for any of us to be strong and confident on the tough days when our hair doesn’t look right in the mirror and the ten outfits we try on make us look frumpy.  Oh, and of course a runway model stands next to us in line just to accentuate our plainness.

We tend all day to needs that seem so vital to the little people at our feet, but don’t ever seem to make it on the news.

We pour ourselves daily into ministries that don’t make a bestseller list or pack arenas and at times seem to make so little difference, no one would care if you quit.

We make ourselves vulnerable and put ourselves out there in obedience to God’s call and others come trampling all over our dreams with massive steel-toed boots of apathy or even outright opposition.

Yes, we surely need a Barnabas.

Paul certainly did.

Paul didn’t start out as a massively famous and successful missionary who penned the bulk of the New Testament.  He began as a devout Jewish man named Saul who was famous for his brutal persecution of the early church.

When he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and dramatically converted to Christianity, the disciples didn’t welcome him into the Christian fold with welcome arms either.

They were terrified of him, “not believing that he was a real disciple” (Acts 9:26).

The church thought Saul was a faker with a capital “F.”   Everyone except Barnabas, that is.

Luke writes, “But Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord” (Acts 9:27).

This was Barnabas’s great spiritual gift, encouraging others in their faith and bolstering their ministry.  In fact, his real name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, “which means ‘son of encouragement'” (Acts 4:36).

It makes sense then that Barnabas would believe in Saul when no one else did.

He wasn’t just a source of encouragement for Saul.  In the early days of the church, the Gospel message was spreading, but only to Jews at first.  When some people crossed the line and started telling Gentiles about Jesus, the church leaders weren’t too sure that this was acceptable.

So, who did they send to visit with the Greek believers in Antioch?

Barnabas, of course.  Just like he did with Saul, he put aside prejudice and “he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24).

Barnabas was forever encouraging others, telling them “Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  I see God at work in you.”

Even when others counted people out, he had the faith to see what God was doing in their lives.  Not only that, he put himself on the line in order to give the ministry of others a boost.

He didn’t just affirm God’s call on Saul’s life, he said, “I’ll come alongside and join you in your work.  I’ll travel with you.  I’ll endure hardship and persecution because I believe in the call God has placed on your heart.”

Without Barnabas, would we have Paul?  Would the Gospel have spread to Gentiles everywhere?  Would Paul’s New Testament epistles be written?

Maybe not.  It took someone with the gift of encouragement to help Saul reach the full potential of the Paul we know.

We all need a Barnabas.

And we all need to be a Barnabas for others.  Someone today needs you to be a Barnabas for them.  How will you be the encouragement they need?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.