The Spigot

As my husband, Gary,  watched from a distance the way I served others, he often described it this way: “You get to help people, who’s cups are depleted or empty, place themselves under the spigot of God and His Word so that He can fill them, restore them, guide them and use them.” 

Through these bi-weekly posts, move your cup under the spigot of God to receive encouragement in life and truth from God’s Word to live the full life offered by Jesus (John 10:10).

Presents

The beaming bride-to-be sat on the round ottoman opening presents. Surprises awaited to fill her new home. As the wrapping fell to the floor, Sophie discovered new items thoughtfully picked out by family and friends. The macramé table runner from Lisa. A colorful apron reflecting the generosity of Annette. A Shark vacuum from Peter’s sisters. A marble rolling pin from Carol to make cookies. The list goes on; each gift was specially chosen to bless Sophie and Peter.

As these items make their way into the Gomez household, both Sophie and Peter will remember the givers as they enjoy the gifts. Presents remind us of the people who give them to us.

Presents

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus received gifts from traveling men. These gifts reflected their givers as well. Wise men brought carefully picked presents to give to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were perfect gifts for Jesus, the King of Kings. I wonder if Mary and Joseph pictured these generous men whenever they saw the gold in their home? I wonder if they remembered the gift-givers each time they smelled the aroma of the frankincense and myrrh?

Do all good gifts remind you of the Giver?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

How often do you thank our Triune God for the blessings He has given to you?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

When you think of God, do you reflect upon Him sending His one and only Son as a present to earth for humankind?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

When you think of Jesus, do you contemplate the salvation His sacrificial present provides us from our sinful state?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

What stirs within you when you realize God does not necessarily give you what you want but gives you just what you need?

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:15-17

When you think of the Holy Spirit, do you embrace Jesus reassuring words that we would receive a Helper, Advocate, and Guide from heaven?

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:25

Can you think of a time you had to wait for a special gift?

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. Acts 1:4

I love this time of year when we take time to imitate the King of Kings and give gifts to one another to celebrate Jesus’ birth. When you think of Jesus, do you think of God, the gift-giver?

Before entering this gift-giving season, begin with gratitude. Thank God for His generous presents: grace, love, eternal life, the Bible, His faithful presence and peace, spiritual blessings, good things to enjoy and share, spiritual gifting, etc.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 1 Corinthians 12:4

Practice ABC Praise to thank God for who He is, for His character, for His goodnesses. It is actually better than counting sheep when you can’t sleep or bidding time when stuck in traffic. Begin with A and move through Z, thanking God by proclaiming His names, His qualities, and His blessings.

The presents we receive from God reflect who He is: Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Friend, Judge, Father, Healer, Shepherd, Forgiver, Reconciler, Provider, Abiding Presence, etc. Reflect on who the Giver is and the abundant gifts He bestows upon us.

What kinds of presents will you give in the next two months? Will you intentionally choose gifts to bless the recipient? Consider God’s gift to humanity in Jesus. God gave us what we needed. What are the needs of those for whom you will select presents? In what ways can you engage thoughtfully with their needs? Sure, it might incur more time to be thoughtful about the gift, but remember that God patiently took a few thousand years to prepare the present of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Give thanks as you remember the presents of God in your life.

Be thoughtful this season as the presents you will share can reflect your character, your God-given qualities, and your relationship with the recipient. Follow God’s example and let the presents you give reflect you, the giver.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Ephesians 2:7-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

R. Kevin Seasoltz. God’s Gift Giving: In Christ And Through The Spirit. New York, NY. 2007.

 

Alan Vermile. It’s a Wonderful Life Study Guide: A Bible Study Based on the Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Brown Chair Books. 2019.

Vows

The dimly lit church highlighted the center aisle and the platform at its end. Dressed in a finely tailored suit, the young man set his gaze at the back of the sanctuary. Tears pooled within his eyes as he watched the love of his life slowly move down the aisle escorted by her father, with a white flowing veil trailing behind her.

This was the scene on the much-anticipated day when Samuel David Hoag and Emily Suzanna Law spoke vows of devotion, exchanged rings, and committed their love to each other before God, family and friends.

Vows – A solemn voluntary promise or a set of promises that commit to a determined role, calling and/or action.

There are nearly 50 references to vows in the Bible, many of which occur in the Old Testament. These commitments revealed blessing when followed and consequences when broken.

The book of Psalms references vows multiple times (see Psalm 56:12, 66:13; 116:14; 50:14; 65:1; 132:2; and many verses in Psalm 119). Similarly, Leviticus detailed the necessity and resulting outcome of vows.

Many Bible characters made vows, but one of my favorites is the vow of Hannah. She made a vow to God in 1 Samuel 1:11. “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”

This wise, hope-filled woman vowed to dedicate her son to the Lord if He would bless her with a son. Hannah desired God’s blessing and in return promised to bless God with her son, giving him back to the Lord in service. Samuel, Hannah’s son, became a mighty prophet and priest representing God because of the vow Hannah proclaimed.

Sammy and Emily wrote their own vows of promise, honor, and commitment. Notice their pledge made just days ago.

Our Wedding Vows – 26 October 2019

Emily Susanna Law, Since the day that we met I knew you were the kind of woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. As I got to know you further, I only fell more in love with the godly woman that you are and are becoming.

Thus far, God has guided us through this crazy journey called life and today in front of our family and friends He has blessed me with the opportunity to join with you in marriage becoming husband and wife.

I know that our life together will be full of many highs and lows and in them I promise to stand by your side and trust God to direct how they go.

I promise to lead you to the best of my God-given abilities and with love, serve and support you making your dreams reality.

Since the beginning God’s blessings and provision have been abundantly evident and I look forward to the future knowing he has so much more in store than the present.

I promise to honor you, respect you, and remain faithful to you and you alone as we strive to honor God in this covenant of our own.

I promise to treasure and protect you as the beautiful and priceless daughter of the King that He made you to be.

I promise to be intentional with you even when life gets rough and to seek God for wisdom to handle when trials come up.

I promise to surround you and our marriage with my prayers, keeping God as the focus of it all.

All these things I promise to you my Love, and so much more with all of my heart, with all that I am, forever and always, till the end of my days.

I love you, Emily!

Our Wedding Vows – 26 October 2019

Samuel David Hoag, Since the day we met I knew there was something special about you. My heart wanted to turn and run, but with your patient pursuit and God’s guidance, I stand before you today with family and friends promising myself to you in becoming husband and wife.

I know that our life together will be filled with hills and valleys, but I promise to stand by your side, trusting God to make a path for us.

I promise to trust your leadership following where God leads, to love and serve you through all that our days may hold.

God has faithfully blessed sand provided for us in numerous ways and I promise to continue to embrace His provision in all our coming days.

I promise to honor, respect, and remain faithful to you and you alone as we strive to honor God in this covenant of our own.

I promise to support and encourage you as the strong and gentle man of God He made you to be.

I promise to not let the sun go down on our strife, and to seek God’s grace working through any troubles that arise.

I promise to cover you in prayer and to fight for our marriage with the power that God has given to me.

I promise these things my Love and so much more with all heart, with all that I am, forever and always, till the end of my days.

I love you, Samuel!!

How does reading these vows encourage and challenge you? If you are married, when is the last time you read your wedding vows?

Dust off the promises you made and look at them with an honest heart. Are you actively keeping the words of commitment you made to your spouse? What areas in your vows need care and attention? Ask God to help you faithfully fulfill the promises you made.

Vows are not to be taken lightly. These pledges represent intentional service, self-less attitudes, and strength to trust God, even when life is challenging and confusing.

Likewise, what sort of vows have you made to God? Have you promised Him your life, attitudes, words, behaviors, dreams and hopes?

God has committed numerous promises to us and He is faithful to keep them all. We actually become more like our Savior when we make promises to Him and others.As we carry them out, we follow His example. Let Scripture guide your vows, then trust God to help you fulfill them. We get to depend upon God for the realization of the vows and promises we make.

Remember the promises you have made to God and others. Ask God for grace and vigor to fulfill them. Delight in following His example of faithfully keeping His promises.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 61:5
For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Deuteronomy 23:23
Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Max Lucado.  Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God. Nashville, TN. 2018.

William J. Byron. Words at the Wedding.  Mahwah, NJ. 2007.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

November 15-16 – Lakewood, CO
Women’s Retreat Speaker, Southern Gables Church

Questions

How is it with your soul today?

When was the last time someone asked you this question or one with similar depth?

Jesus asked questions, a lot of them. He entered into conversations that brought about lasting change by asking thoughtful and meaningful questions.

  • “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)
  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Mark 10:51)
  • “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30)
  • “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
  • “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)
  • “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)
  • “How many loaves do you have?” Matthew15:34)
  • “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew16:26)
  • “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17)
  • “Do you love me?” (John 21:17)

How often do you ask questions in conversations? Questions followed by silence invite others to consider their response and enter into a reflective exchange. These discussion-starters open the door for further familiarity in relationships. When questions flow in dialogue, vulnerability and honesty emerge.

Children ask a lot of questions. The inquiries of kids arise from curiosity, wonder, and longings to understand. Perhaps the perpetual barrage of questions by the little people in our lives becomes exhausting, but their inquisitive spirits teach us as we age. Do we live with curiosity, wonder and longing to understand?

The Bible records the story of Priscilla and Aquila. They engaged in thoughtful conversation with Apollos. When these three met up, it became evident that Apollos didn’t have the full picture of Jesus death and resurrection. Priscilla and Aquila invited Apollos into their home. They offered curiosity, hospitality and shared the way of God more accurately (see Acts 18: 24-26).

I imagine this mighty couple asking Apollos a lot of questions to initiate deeper understanding of the wonder and power of God. This interaction changed the story for Apollos. He became a bold follower of Jesus Christ and a great help to those who believed in Jesus. Confidently, Apollos refuted his Jewish opponents in public debates demonstrating from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (see 1 Corinthians 3:5-6).

When we develop relationships by asking questions, we learn and grow together. We humbly set aside preconceived ideas and expectations, and learn the heart of others as God created them. When we query each other, we respectfully acknowledge we don’t know everything about the other person. This leads to growth, interesting conversation, and honest sharing.

Frank Lauback, a missionary to the Philippines in the early to mid 1900’s, poignantly urged people to move into sincere honest conversations. He desired authentic interactions that offered space to pose questions, listen, and respond to the wonderings and longings of the soul. He moved dialogue beyond mere facts and shallow musings to profound soul revealing engagement.

I love Lauback’s exhortation in Letters by a Modern Mystic from January 26, 1930.

“In defense of my opening my soul and laying it bare to the public gaze in this fashion, I may say that it seems to me that we really seldom do anybody much good excepting as we share the deepest experiences of our souls in this way.

It is not the fashion to tell your inmost thoughts, but there are many wrong fashions, and concealment of the best in us is wrong. I disapprove of the usual practice of talking “small talk” whenever we meet, and holding a veil over our souls.

If we are so impoverished that we have nothing to reveal but small talk, then we need to struggle for more richness of soul.

As for me I am convinced that this spiritual pilgrimage which I am making is infinitely worth while, the most important thing I know of to talk about. And talk I shall while there is anybody to listen. And I hunger – O how I hunger for others to tell me their soul adventures.”

Do you struggle for more richness of soul in your conversations?

Let questions open doors to sharing soul adventures.

The next time you find yourself interacting with someone, listen and ask questions. Purely pay attention to their heart and words. Experience the unveiling of their soul. Just as Jesus posed questions to instigate awareness and growth, allow authentic curiosity and wonder to flood your conversations.

Not sure what questions to ask to lead into the sharing of soul adventures? Here are a few ideas:

  • How is your soul?
  • Who is God to you right now?
  • What is on your heart today?
  • What do you need?
  • Describe a high and low today.
  • What gives you life?
  • How are you stuck right now?
  • Where do you notice God?
  • What is your prayer life like?

Let’s share soul adventures by engaging in conversations that change through the powerful use of questions.

How is it with your soul today?

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Luke 17:17
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Mark 8:27-29
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Martin Copenhaver. Jesus Is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered. Nashville, TN. 2014.

Joanne J. Jung. The Lost Discipline of Conversation: Surprising Lessons in Spiritual Formation Drawn from the English Puritans. Grand Rapids, MI. 2018.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

October 26 – Denver, CO
My son, Sammy, gets married to a beautiful young woman, Emily, on October 26th. Would appreciate prayer for a blessed celebration. Thank you!

Spur

What are you reading that encourages your soul? How is the Bible bringing life to your day? Have you shared it with anyone lately?

The verse, Hebrews 10:24 reminds us to consider the ways we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. When we share the ways God moves within our soul, the impact and power of prayer, and the significance of Scripture, we spur each other toward depth with God. Opening our hearts and sharing our journey with its ups and downs stimulates others, motivating them to move closer to Jesus in their own spiritual journeys.

So, where have I been sitting with the Lord, lately? Among other passages, Psalm 23 has been a place of consolation. While perhaps one of the most familiar Psalms, God, by His Spirit, has used these God-breathed words to impact my soul.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

The first verse reminds me that God is my guide and that I have everything I need. In Him all my needs are met. I am not deficient as He satisfies me. Do you realize you lack nothing?

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

This verse illustrates my experience with Jesus. The Lord makes us lie down. This isn’t a request. There is power and authority in His movement toward us. He prevails upon us so we are still. In what areas of your life is God making you lie down?

Green pastures sound lovely. It causes me to think of a lush, verdant field. One of the practices my nutritionist suggests is walking barefoot in the grass. So, on evening walks with Joy, I enjoy strolling through the field with my toes touching the grassy blades. For centuries people walked barefoot everywhere, but today we cover our soles with rubber. I think we’ve lost something along the way. Try it. Walk in the grass for a few days and notice how it impacts you.

He leads me beside quiet waters,

I love that our God who is present with us leads us beside quiet waters. The waters provide peace and nourishment to our parched souls. I imagine God taking my hand and leading me. I am thankful that He leads and I follow. I can trust the way He takes me.

Erroneously, I assumed the path beside the quiet waters would also be “quiet” or free from debris and turmoil. I now understand that although God leads, the path is not always clear and smooth. Thorns, pebbles, and twigs often litter the route. Pain and peace coincide together along the way with Jesus, yet, the gentle hand and presence of the Lord never leaves our side. In what ways do you follow the Shepherd?

He refreshes my soul.

Do you desire refreshment? I know I do. Too often, I desire refreshment from God before being held to the ground or while following a twisted path. Refreshment follows both God’s direct intervention in our lives as well as His gentle leading along calm waters.

He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Again, God guides. He leads us along right paths so that He is honored and glorified. Do you trust Him to lead you? Is your faith in God’s direction, or do you attempt to sort life yourself? How are you experiencing God’s glory along the path you currently tread?

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Walking through the dark valley is not optional. It will happen, we just don’t know God’s timing for the treacherous encounter. Fortunately, God’s very companionship in the midst of the agonizing time offers comfort, correction, and connectedness in the space of suffering, confusion, shame, conviction, and uncertainty. His perfect love casts fear away in the darkness.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

God lavishes His abundance upon us in our time of need. He takes care of the preparations and knows what is needed to nourish our souls. God often does this while others look on, those who have intentionally and unintentionally participated in wounding our souls. God’s focus is our presence at the table. His tender care and planning attend to us when we feel beaten and broken by others.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

God blesses us in our messiness. He causes our emptiness to be filled and then we overflow with His goodness and grace. Our cup spills over because God is generous. He bestows favor and dedication upon us as we embrace His presence and protection. In what ways do you notice God’s blessing in your life today? Do you thank Him for blessing those around you? With what is your cup overflowing?

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

Imagine goodness and love trailing behind you every moment of every day. It is as though you are wearing a veil and these traits of God’s character follow you wherever you go. Look at them. Notice God’s goodness; His generosity. Notice God’s perfect love; His sacrifice and redemption.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We get to enjoy God’s presence forever. Now, He houses within us by the Holy Spirit. Soon, we will dwell with our triune God all the days of our lives where nothing is hidden from His gaze. What impact does being with God forever have upon your living both now and in the future?

God meets us as we commune with Him through His life-giving Word. Share your stories of encountering God with others. Receive God’s attention as you listen to the spiritual adventures of those around you.

Spur each other on in their spiritual journey with the Great Shepherd of their soul.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 3:12-14
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Louf OCSO, Andre. Grace Can Do More: Spiritual Accompaniment and Spiritual Growth. Dubuque, IA. 2002.

David C. Benner. Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2004.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

October 10 – Denver, CO
Speaking at the ECFA Governance Forum at Denver Seminary

Commitment

It is hard to believe 2019 is racing to its conclusion. Often at the commencement of a new year we make commitments to change, in anticipation of growth and healthy living. Do you remember any “resolutions” you committed to in January? Maybe you chose a word for the new year?

When is the last time you reflected on the patterns you committed to engage this year or notice how you’ve entered into your word for 2019? If you haven’t yet seen positive change or engagement, there are still nearly four months; there is still time 🙂

Commitment

Last Christmas Sophie gave me a new Bible. It is called the Daily Walk Bible. Beginning with January 1 and Genesis 1, the reader is guided through the entire Bible. It’s great. For each day there is a short devotional and chapters to read. I shared the plan with some close friends and together we joined in this practice of reading through the Bible in 2019. Each week we gather to talk about the chapters we’ve read. It has been a blast.

What is remarkable, though, is God’s sovereign timing. He perfectly timed my placement in His Word with the events of my daily living, especially during the past two months. God’s has graciously nourished my soul with timely readings. While attentive to the truth that these Scriptures were written to specific people in specific times, I also notice the Spirit of God gently speaking truth to me in my situation and space, sustaining me.

In July when wrestling with the Lord, experiencing darkness, God consoled my soul with Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 45:3 “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” I ponder the hidden treasures of the Lord to this day. Most of all, I find encouragement that He calls me by name.

I found myself resonating with Jeremiah. Poor guy! No one listened to the concerns he shared from the Lord. Ever feel like no one around you is paying attention? Then into Lamentations I identified with Jeremiah’s weeping and yet in Lamentations 3:21, he found hope. I struggled to embrace the hope as I found myself sitting in verse 20, “My soul is downcast.” Nevertheless, I soaked in chapter 3 pleading with Jeremiah: “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry or relief.” You came near when I called you, and you aid, “Do not fear.”

Ezekiel’s prophetic words in chapters 34-37 connected deeply with my soul. Chapter 34 is all about the Lord being a good shepherd. He searches for His sheep, tends to their needs and shepherds with justice. What a great shepherd we have! Chapter 37 reverberated within my soul as I begged God to send breath from the four winds of the earth and breathe into my weary soul so that I may live. I imagined the way God brought life to a valley of dry bones. He breathes life so that all would know that He is the LORD. Read chapter 37:1-14 and be amazed at the mighty power and presence of God.

The mysterious nature of God jumped out to me in Daniel. While perplexing and somewhat bizarre, God’s ways with Nebuchadnezzar bring glory to God and humble lessons to the people (see Daniel 4:37). I’ve meditated on the mysterious movement of God often in the last weeks. He is beyond understanding. Yet, often we try to put God in a box and figure both He and His ways out.

What would it be like to actually embrace His puzzling nature? Actually, it is freeing to just be with God and not try to sort this crazy life but rest in His greatness.

Then I moved into Hosea. Hosea had a tough assignment. He demonstrated great fortitude. In this small book, I noticed the unfaithful nature of God’s people and extensive means God employed to draw His loved ones back to Himself. In what ways do you live unfaithful to God and your loved ones?

Joel and Amos followed Hosea. I recognized God’s just judgment toward His wayward people and also His intense love and care for the poor. Interestingly, on September 11, I read Amos 9:1 which says: “Strike the tops of the pillar so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people…” Crazy, right?! My heart grieves for those effected by the events of 9/11.

Likewise, Micah proclaimed an unpopular yet necessary message. I found Micah 7:7 becoming my current simple prayer: “I watch in hope for the Lord. I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” I experience conviction and comfort from Micah’s words as the posture of watching and waiting while knowing God hears connects profoundly within me.

All this to say, God is mysteriously and intentionally involved in the life of His followers.

I did not know when I made the commitment in January to read through the Bible the ways God would connect so personally His Word to the place and state of my soul. Reading it has been a source of sanity during this time. The words have actually helped give voice to the inner turmoil and provided reminders of God’s sovereignty.

So, what about your commitments for 2019? Are you continuing in them? Do you notice their impact in your journey today?

Interestingly, In January I attended a mini soul care retreat during which I chose the word “deeper” for the 2019 year. I’m not sure why exactly, but that was the word bubbling from my soul. A little sign I made at the retreat has hung along the refrigerator since then. It was just a few weeks ago, I “saw” the sign and realized, deeper is exactly what God is doing with me. He is taking me deeper with Him. I am moving in deeper communion with my living Lord. Wow!

Whatever your commitments – never discount their impact. Whether the commitment seems small and insignificant or insurmountable and life changing, the promises we keep and the resolutions we make affect us and those around us in ways we could never dream.

Let’s live fully committed to the commitments we make for God’s glory and our good.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

The Daily Walk Bible. Carol Steam, IL. 2013.

Eugene Peterson. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. Downers Grove, IL. 2019.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

September 25-October 1 – Guatemala City, Guatemala
I will be speaking multiple times for women’s groups and leading two full-day retreats. Thank you!.

Remember

Have you ever had someone say something like this to you? “The past is in the past, move on.” Or maybe, “The old is gone, live in the new.”

Jacob definitely had a past. A past he likely wanted to forget. But, Jacob remembered. Jacob’s past testified to God’s faithfulness. Additionally, Jacob walked with a limp for many years – by my calculations at least 50 years. The limp represented a reminder of Jacob’s past wrestling match with God. The past exists in the present. God used the hardships of Jacob’s past to become the fertile soil for a new man and a new nation. A nation that would remember their past whenever they enjoyed a meal: they did not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon (see Genesis 32:32).

Paul also had a past filled with great promise but overflowing with much pain as he persecuted followers of Jesus. Because of his past, God positioned Paul to be a mighty vessel of evangelism and transformation through the ancient world. Yet, he too lived with a physical malady. He carried with him a “thorn” – a reminder of his humble dependency upon God Almighty. Paul remembered, and this propelled him forward in service of his Savior.

To recognize the past; its impact and influence, is necessary and profitable for growth in the present and the future. To disregard joys, sorrows, celebrations and hardships from the past is to miss the glorious movement and redemptive work of God.

Reflect for a moment on your past. Perhaps consider the highs and lows, the victories and defeats, the pain and pleasure. Remember conversations from yesterday, actions and interactions made in the last few months and memories from years ago. Each of these reside under the sovereign presence of God.

In what ways do you allow the past to speak into your present? How have you grown because of the past, or do you deny the past and shut it out?

Throughout the Bible God exhorts His people to remember. Remember is used over 230 times in the Bible. In the Scriptures, sometimes God remembers and at other times, He exhorts His children to remember. While He is perfect in His recollection, we are not. Many times we want to flee the past. We are often either a forgetful people or a people living in denial.

God instructs us to remember. Remember the Sabbath. Remember the LORD. Remember whose you are. Remember the ways of your ancestors. Remember where you came from. Remember to obey. Remember the prophets. Remember God’s great mercy and love. Remember through the cup and the bread. Remember.

God invites His people to remember. But why?

  • When we remember, our spirits are strengthened. By remembering we can see God’s activity in ways we missed in the midst of the event. We witness the movement of God.
  • Remembering offers space and opportunity for God to infuse His healing grace into tough circumstances.
  • Our trust in God and confidence in His goodness grows strong when we remember.
  • God’s character reveals itself through the past—his faithfulness, mercy, presence, peace, and sovereignty fill the moments of former days. We learn more of who God truly is in the midst of the ups and downs of life.
  • By remembering, we can spur others on and encourage them when life seems harsh, uncertain, and hopeless. We offer stories of God’s redeeming work and transforming power.
  • We testify to God’s abundant grace and kindness when we remember.

Do not fear the past for God is in your story.

It is healthy to acknowledge our stories, colored with both brightness and joy and also darkness and desolation. This promotes authentic living with Jesus, ourselves and others. When we refuse the reality of the lives given us, we accommodate and hide from the past rather than grow, heal and exhibit transparent living. God values authenticity & vulnerability (see Philippians 1:9-11; Romans 12:9-21; Hebrews 4:12-13).

Just like it did for Jacob and Paul, the past leaves a mark. If you’ve ever broken a bone, you likely feel it when the weather changes. If you’ve made a delicious meal, you plan to remake it in the future. If you’ve gotten stung by a bee, you avoid them at all costs. If you visited a beautiful park, you anticipate returning someday. If you’ve experienced trauma, you have a heightened awareness to actions and attitudes connected to it. If you celebrated significant milestones, you encourage others to pursue their dreams as well. The past remains a part of our present.

Consider the marks of the past that impact you today. Have you allowed God’s healing presence to descend into the space and situation?

Remember the joys and celebrations. Offer gratitude to God for His gifts and grace. Remember with the Lord and allow His healing presence to penetrate the darkness, the questions, and confusion of the past. Look for His redeeming companionship offering hope, healing and understanding.

Jesus delights to restore the broken messy aspects of His followers. And, these shards of sorrow create newness and life under His tender care. You are always on God’s mind—“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand” (Psalm 139:17-18).

Remember and marvel at God’s presence in the past and the present. He faithfully journeys with you.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Deuteronomy 5:15
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Lamentations 3:19-21
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.

Ephesians 2:11-12
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Judith Hougen. Transformed into Fire: Discovering Your True Identity as God’s Beloved. Grand Rapids, MI. 2009.

Dawn Eden. Remembering God’s Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories. Notre Dame, IN. 2016.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

Aug.24-Sept.22 – Gary continues his travels oversees for two more weeks.I would be grateful for your prayers for the ministry God has called him to, as well as prayer for peace, protection, healing and growth for me as I serve others at home.

September 25-October 1 – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Please pray for my preparation for an upcoming trip to Guatemala. I will be leading two full-day retreats as well as speaking to multiple groups. Thank you!.