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).

Known

Recently I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Jingle All the Way. At the climax of the story, a young boy who was feeling forgotten by his father watched a parade with a downcast spirit. At that moment, the comic hero in the parade, Turboman, chooses to give a gift to one of the many children lining the streets. They are all  shouting, “Me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!”

The little boy has no idea that his father is actually the one dressed in the Turboman costume and mask. At that moment, Turboman points to this little boy and calls out his name, “Jamie.” The lad was stunned and, at first, speechless. Then, in awe the young Jamie proclaims, “He knows my name.” It is a powerful moment.

He knows my name!

This reminds me of the scene from the Bible when Mary Magdalene stood outside the empty tomb, weeping for Jesus.

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). John 20:13-16

I think in similar fashion, Mary thought to herself, “He knows my name!”

Have you ever wondered if names are important to God? If so, just read the first 12 chapters of 1 Chronicles in the Bible. Recently while reading these chapters, I noticed the numerous names and contemplated the reason that God included those lists. The Bible records the names of people. Some are well-known like David, Solomon, and Joshua and others are lesser-known like Abishai, Jeiel, and Nahshon. But, all are known by God. I determined that names are people, and people are precious to God. Each person matters. He or she represents life and relationship. Each name represents a soul created and known by the King of the universe.

He knows my name, and He knows your name, too!

God reveals more than just a familiar “knowing” of our names. He knows everything about us. Psalm 139 assures us that God knows all there is to know about each of us. His knowledge of you and me is complete—nothing is hidden from Him. He knows every detail of our being and attends to us in all aspects of life.

Too often our identity becomes wrapped up in names given by other people, but not by God Himself. Have you ever been confused about who you truly are? As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you realize the implications of the fact that you are known by God?

Like a really good piece of chocolate or your favorite food (if you are one of those who doesn’t fancy sweets), savor these truths about what God knows to be true about you. Perhaps substitute your name for “You” in each statement. Delight in the reality of who you are.

God knows you (Psalm 139:13-18).
You are a child of God (John 1:12).
You are Christ’s friend (John 15:3).
You are chosen (Ephesians 1:4).
You are completely forgiven (Romans 5:1).
You are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
You are a joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
You are the dwelling place of God (1 Corinthians 3:16).
You are victorious through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
You are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You have been made for righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
You are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2).
You have been made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
You are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10).
You are a citizen of heaven (Ephesians 2:6).
You are capable of facing any situation with Christ (Philippians 4:13).
You are made complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).
You are dearly loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4).
You have life (1 John 5:12).
You are redeemed (Revelation 5:9).
You are marked with His seal (Ephesians 1:13).
You are His beloved (Colossians 3:12).
You belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19).

God knows you well; He lives with the constant reminder of your existence. Your name is so significant and important, Isaiah 49:16 proclaims that you are engraved upon His hands: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

God loves you! He is unable to forget about you.

Do you believe the truth of who you are?

You.
You are.
You are His.
You are His treasured.
You are His treasured possession (1 Peter 2:9).

He knows your name! Savor and live into the reality of who knows you and whose you really are!

“Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

 

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

Romans 8:14-17
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.

Who You Say I Am – Hillsong Worship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo

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

Neil T. Anderson.  Who I Am In Christ: A Devotional.Ventura, CA. 2001.

Melissa Kruger.  Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of our Identity in Christ.  Deerfield, IL, 2018.

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

April 24-27  – Lake Wales, FL
Warner University

May 4  – Littleton, CO
Sanctuary – Women’s Retreat, South Fellowship Church

Unplanned

Last week I joined a few friends at the theater to watch the movie, Unplanned. It is the true story of a woman who devoted her life to Planned Parenthood for eight years before recognizing their twisted ways and resigning from senior leadership. The film reveals the anguish of unplanned pregnancy, the burden of unplanned duties, the gift of unplanned friendship, and the hope of unplanned forgiveness and grace.

Everyday we face unplanned events and encounters. Some of the unplanned create stress, conflict, and burdens: a medical diagnosis, disagreements with family members or friends, pressing work deadlines, car trouble, stormy weather, company layoffs, church closures, or financial burdens.

Other unplanned phenomena reveal hope, joy, and excitement: a doctor’s prognosis, authentic dialogue with family or friends, work extensions, alternative modes of transportation, blue skies and sunny days, new employment, church plants, or financial freedom.

Although much in life seems unplanned to humankind, God remains purposeful, redemptive, and pure in all His plans. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this reality: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Additionally, verses such as Psalm 33:11; “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” and Proverbs 19:21; “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” reiterate the trustworthy and strong care of our sovereign God.

  • Unplanned by Moses, God would raise Him up to be the deliverer of His people from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus 3).
  • Unplanned by Bathsheba, God would restore her honor as she sat at the right hand of her son, Solomon, the king of Israel (2 Kings 2:19).
  • Unplanned resistance to bring the gospel to Asia, God would redirect Paul and his companions to the receptive people of Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).
  • Unplanned by Esther, God would make her queen to save the Jewish people from horrible destruction (Esther 2:19, 8:11).

What other unplanned (from human-perspective) stories from the Bible come to your mind? Ponder God’s faithful presence and great intention. These true stories encourage faith and trust in God even when our own situations might cause us to feel disorientation, pain, and stress.

While the Bible abounds with examples of the exchange between what was unplanned by man to the redemptive plan of God, history reveals story upon story of God working through the unplanned events and encounters of people.

  • Jim Elliot’s unplanned death brought an entire tribe to repentance.
  • Joni Erickson Tada’s unplanned diving accident led to a worldwide ministry serving the disabled.
  • Chuck Colson’s unplanned criminal actions birthed Prison Fellowship which serves the incarcerated around the globe.

What is the unplanned in your life? Do you notice God’s redemptive movement? Sit in silence with the steadfast love of God and ask Him to show you His plan within the unexpected of your life.

My unplanned cancer led to God’s plan for me to experience more of His presence and transforming movement in my life. God was present with me in the pain of the unplanned heath assessment. He met my fears, confusion, and physical exhaustion with His hope, peace, and spiritual strength.

Scripture comforts us by telling us God “puts our tears into a bottle,” or as another translation states; He records our misery and lists our tears on His scroll; they are all in His record (see Psalm 56:8). Whether God collects our tears or writes them down, He must be present to witness them. God is with us in the planned as well as the unplanned events and encounters of life. His presence neither hides from our pain, nor only celebrates the happy, positive aspects of life. Through both, the Sovereign Lord is with each of us!

Where do you notice God’s presence and peace in the pain of the unplanned of your life?

How will you let God enter into the unplanned you encounter?

For the protagonist in the film, Unplanned, God worked through an unplanned experience in which she assisted in a procedure to open her eyes. God’s plan for healing, wholeness, and freedom often begins with an unplanned occurrence.  Look for the redeeming hand of God within the unplanned moments of life.

 

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

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 40:5
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

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

Abby Johnson.  Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.  Carol Stream, IL, 2011.

Charles F. Stanley.  God Has a Plan for Your Life: The Discovery that Makes All the Difference.Nashville, TN. 2008,

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

April 9  – Lakewood, CO
Rekindle your Soul – MOPS at The Bridge at Bear Creek

YES

March has been a historic month for the Hoag household.

On March 2, under the San Diego drizzling sky, along the shore of the Pacific Ocean, Peter Gomez asked, “Sophie Victoria Hoag, will you marry me?” Utterly surprised, yet totally confident, Sophie responded with a resounding, YES!

With a cloudy sky hovering above and his energetic dog, Hope, by his side, on March 22, our son, Sammy Hoag, asked Emily Susanna Law if she would spend the rest of her life with him. Excited and filled with wonder, Emily replied with a definite YES!

As you can imagine, the next ten months will be filled with new adventures, detailed planning, and terrific celebrations.

The word “YES” holds great power. It conveys the positive response of: absolutely, affirmative, certainly, agreed, and of course.

Scripture overflows with “YES” responses.

  • Build a big boat for a deluge of “rain” (which was an unfamiliar phenomena) – Noah said “YES” to God’s instructions, thus saving humanity.
  • Sacrifice your one and only son – Abraham responded “YES” and God supplied a substitute and established a lasting covenant between Abraham and his offspring.
  • Return to your master – Hagar followed God’s directions, confidently saying “YES” to God knowing that the “God who sees” journeyed with her.
  • Take the land – Joshua and Caleb declared “YES” to the invitation to enter the promised land and announced victory despite the fickle nature of their countrymen.
  • Lay at his feet and trust – Ruth surrendered her will to God. In saying “YES” she would become the great grandmother of King David.
  • Bear a son by immaculate conception – Mary recognized the favor of God and embraced His plan for her life. This “YES” brought the Son of God into the world.
  • Do the will of the Father – Jesus chose “YES” for us and became the Savior for all of humankind.

What names come to mind when you think of those who have said “YES” to God?

Throughout Scripture and across the history of the world, many have responded “YES” to calls from God. These individuals weren’t super stars; they were ordinary people like you and me. I expect saying “YES” wasn’t always easy, but their confidence resided in God, giving grace and peace to walk in His ways.

God often asks unusual things from the perspective of this world, yet in His other-worldly manner, a purposeful plan unfolds. For example, a decade ago, my husband, Gary, said “YES” to God to go from serving one organization to serving many—which meant leaving the perceived comfort and security of a great job—and God faithfully expanded the impact of his work.

Only recently, Gary said “YES” again to God to serve as CEO of Global Trust Partners, the international entity birthed by ECFA. I can only imagine what God will do all over the world through this organization aimed at multiplying disciples of faithful administration. God is doing the seemingly impossible today even as He did in Bible times.

Imagine going to battle with just a trumpet, a torch and a jar. Triumph in this case didn’t makes sense through human eyes. But the Bible tells us, victory followed for Gideon and his army because they said “YES” to God’s interesting commands (see Judges 7). Because Gideon said “YES” to God’s superior battle strategy, he brought reverence and glory to God’s name.

Reflect on the past 24 hours. To what and to whom have you said “YES?”

In what ways is the God of the universe inviting you to say “YES,” but hesitation and indecision seem to control your response? Do you realize that failure to respond to God with “YES,” actually delivers the answer “NO?”

What keeps you from following God’s Word and His nudges upon your heart? Be honest with yourself and God.

This reminds me of the father in Mark 9. He struggled to say “YES” to Jesus, so he asked for help with his unbelief (see Mark 9:24). This father turned to and trusted in the character of Jesus, the healer. Jesus offered grace so the man could trust Him more. Powerful, yet gentle Jesus met this father in his weakness to respond confidently.

Feeling unsure about saying, “YES?” Ask Jesus to give you His confidence and spiritual trust in His ways.

Sophie and Emily strongly replied with “YES” to Peter and Sammy because they knew who asked the question. Sophie and Peter have spent hours talking over coffee, going for hikes and engaging together on the SDCC campus. Likewise Emily and Sammy have enjoyed numerous walks on the trail, car rides across town, and creating delicious meals together. Both of these couples have spent time developing deep authentic relationships. These young ladies know the character, desires and heart of Peter and Sammy, which means they can entrust themselves to their care.

How well do you know the Lover of your soul? God is crazy about you; spend time with Him. When did you last “go on a walk” with Jesus? He enjoys connecting with your heart; intentionally develop depth in your relationship with Him. Have you meditated on the character of God lately? He is faithful and true, slow to anger and abounding in love. When you read the Bible do you notice the attributes of God? He is protector, provider, peace, passionate and so much more. Can you share the ways God interacts with and feels about you? He is close to you, knows you, delights in you and has an inheritance for you.

Immerse yourself in the Truth. When your confidence is rightly set upon the unchangeable, steadfast character of God, you can trust Him with your “YES.”

Walk with God, notice His invitations to you, follow Jesus ultimate example with an obedient “YES”, and let the Holy Spirit lead the way.

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

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Luke 1:38
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.

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

Clint Byars. God Says Yes to Over 3000 Promises: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are yes in Christ. Sharpsburg, GA, 2016.

Kyle Idleman. Not a Fan Updated and Expanded: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI. 2016,

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

March 26  – Lakewood, CO
Soak your Soul in the Truth – MOPS at The Bridge at Bear Creek, Spa Night

April 9  – Lakewood, CO
Rekindle your Soul – MOPS at The Bridge at Bear Creek

Beg

I love when God gets my attention by sending me a message through multiple channels.

The other day a friend suggested I listen to an app called Pray As You Go. The simple 13 minutes of reflection focused on the story from Mark 9:14-29 when a young boy’s father cried out to Jesus for compassion and help on behalf of his disturbed son. Jesus freed and healed the lad, teaching His disciples the imperative practice of prayer.

The following day when substitute teaching fourth grade, I read and reflected with my students on John 4:43-54 during the Bible lesson. In this passage a royal official approached Jesus and begged Him to heal his near dead son. The desperate father pleaded with Jesus and graciously, the boy’s health was restored by the word of Jesus which resulted in belief throughout the royal household.

I noticed how these two separate accounts intersected with my soul. Parents crying out to Jesus for their children. Family begging God on behalf of those they love. The children in these two scenarios did not know how to pray, but the parents did and they went to Jesus. God moves significantly when we come to Him with our concerns for others.

Jesus responds to begging. To beg is to ask earnestly or humbly for something. Perhaps to beg is not the negative word I have assumed it to be. Is it time to change our understanding of the word “beg”?

This caused me to think of our dog, Joy. After she’s eaten dinner she enters the kitchen and stands by the oven. You see, above the oven is a cupboard that stores her Dasuquin, a tasty treat with ingredients which help her aging joints not ache. Joy silently stands and waits. Often I walk around her, but I see her and know she is waiting for me to respond to her “pleading.” What would it look like for us to just be in God’s presence with our requests? To stand and wait, lifting our prayer to Him?

Other times, when Gary and I eat dinner, Joy stands right beside the chair to be with us while we eat. Occasionally, she rests her head on our leg, but she just waits. She doesn’t bark or whine, but she remains close by reminding us of her presence. In a sense, she “begs” for our attention. Do you beg for God’s attention to the rumblings of your soul? What does it look like to remind God of your prayers?

Jesus responded to the begging of others with grace. People moved toward Jesus with earnest requests. Recognizing their own inadequacy, men and women approached Jesus with humility asking for His intervention (Mark 10:46-52, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:15, and Luke 18:13). These Scriptures resonated with my soul, reminding me of the power and great impact of prayer.

Do you admit your insufficiency to meet the cries of your heart? What keeps you from bringing your petitions to God?

Historically, prayer comprises one of the three components surrounding Lent (prayer, fasting, giving). Lent is a time for moving deeper with God in prayer. He invites us to bring our requests to Him (Matthew 6:5-13). Prayer isn’t convincing God to do something on our behalf, it is declaring our dependence upon Him and trusting His faithful response.

Will you humbly go to God with the pleading of your soul and trust Him with your heart? For what are you begging God this Lenten season?

  • A renewed commitment to obey Jesus teachings?
  • Release from a job?
  • Reconciliation of a broken relationship?
  • Healing from physical, emotional and spiritual wounds?
  • Financial provision?
  • Freedom from addiction?
  • Expanded impact?
  • Receptive hearts?
  • Depth in community and friendships?
  • Deliverance from anger, bitterness, envy, a critical spirit?
  • Vibrant Bible study and prayer time?
  • Hope for the orphan and widow?

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18 to teach his disciples that they should pray and not give up. The persistent widow of whom Jesus speaks instructs us to not waver in going to God with the pleas of our heart.

Notice when similar messages cross your path. God may be trying to get your attention to remind you of His truth and encourage your journey with Him.

What do you want God to do for you this season? Ask Him. God welcomes our authentic begging.

 

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


John 4:46-53
And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

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

Jenni Hoag. 2019 Lent Calendar.

Andrew Murray. With Christ in the School of Prayer. Overland Park, KS. 2019.

Weight

One of the pleasures of traveling to different countries is the joy of learning new words and expectations. While in Australia, I learned a few words that I like quite a bit. Instead of garbage, our Aussie mates say “rubbish.” Say rubbish aloud five times – it is a fun word. When going for a walk, they say it’s time for a “wander” and when rest is required, the Aussies say they need a “doze.” I enjoyed learning new phrases and refreshing words to add to my vocabulary.

There happens to be one word, though, that became quite a bother. Weight!

While the meaning of weight is the same in both the U.S. and Australia, its restrictions at the airport are not. When flying from the U.S. luggage can weigh up to 70 lbs, but when flying within Australia, luggage must weigh no more than 23 kg or 50 lbs, and one’s carry on luggage cannot pass 7 kg or 15 lbs. Because Gary and I bought many books to distribute to the various groups we spoke for, our luggage weighed far more than the Australian guidelines.

Upon arriving at the Sydney airport and preparing to fly to Adelaide, the flight check-in attendant’s first inquiry attended to the weight of our bags. In order to abide by the airline regulations, we needed to get rid of all unnecessary burdens as well as distribute the weight of our bags evenly. Have your bags ever been overweight? It’s an awful feeling. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the bags tipped the scale into the red, so an extra fee was added.

What weighs you down? Are you carrying extra weight?

Jesus invites His followers to give any extra “weight” to Him (see Matthew 11:28). Many trappings encumber us as we journey with Jesus. Perhaps the need to possess the latest fashion, gadget, or belongings burden you, or the narratives of modern culture confuse and distract you from godly living. Whatever pressures you experience, the King of the universe offers freedom and levity when we jettison all unnecessary loads at His feet.

Consider the areas that add weight for us to carry through life. Work, family, friendship, ministry, hobbies, expectations, cultural messages, attitudes, health, finances, etc. Are there any weights that you need to unload?

New Testament writers such as Paul, James, and Peter each exhorted followers of Christ to rid themselves of things such as bitterness, anger, slander, malice, filthy language, deceit, envy and hypocrisy (see Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, James 1:21, and 1 Peter 2:10). These attitudes surely add weight to the spiritual journey.

Which attitudes or actions in your life do you need to remove, with the help of the Holy Spirit?

Soak in this Scripture. Read slowly and notice if anything bubbles to the surface regarding life’s hinderances. Welcome the Holy Spirit’s attention to your soul.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Read it again and wonder about the ways this Scripture connects with your soul.

Receive God’s grace to you as you read the verses a third time. Purposefully strip off any unnecessary weight that might slow you down or trip you up, so that you can “run with endurance” the race God has for you. Thank God for His presence with you.

While the Holy Spirit reveals things we must “throw off” in order pursue Him wholeheartedly; not all weights need to be thrown off. The clothes we are instructed to carry in our proverbial suitcase are kindness, compassion, and forgiveness (see Ephesians 4:32).

Elsewhere we learn that we must put on the armor of God and follow Jesus’ sacrificial model (Ephesians 6:13 and Romans 13:14). Humility, gentleness and patience are the “luggage” of our lives. Ironically, this kind of “baggage” is not actually heavy. The Spirit nurtures these godly traits within us which are not burdensome but gifts of grace to enjoy and share with others.

Take a look at your baggage and get rid of what weighs you down and let the Holy Spirit fill you with godly thoughts, desires, and actions for His glory. And perhaps weigh your bags before your next trip Down Under :–)

Lent 2019 commences on March 6, with the celebration of Easter on April 21. With the focus of prayer, fasting and giving, what weight might God invite you to release so as to take hold more deeply in Christ?

Download the Lent Calendar I’ve created to encourage your journey through Lent. Just as Advent leads to Christmas, Lent leads to Easter.

Intentionally prepare your heart for the greatest story ever when the weight of sin was dealt with for eternity by the resurrection power of God.

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

1 Peter 2:1
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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

Jenni Hoag. 2019 Lent Calendar.

Kenneth B. Wingate. Run with Endurance: The Triumph of Faith. Dallas, GA. 2014.

Pounce

Though thick clouds still hung in the sky, the falling snow had subsided. Joy (our 10.5 year old GSP) and Hope (Sammy’s 1.5 year old GSP) eagerly anticipated their afternoon walk. Both dogs love romping through the snow. It was almost as if they knew adventure awaited them.

After gearing up in snow clothes, Gary, Joy, Hope and I began our arctic trek to the park across the street. Leaving our neighborhood, we discovered a bright yellow tennis ball. Gary snatched it up knowing how much Hope loved to play fetch.

Upon entering the path through the park, Gary threw the ball into the adjacent field laden with several inches of snow. Hope energetically chased the ball which disappeared into white fluff. Upon reaching the buried ball, Hope pounced with all of her enthusiasm, looking for the hidden treasure. She then quickly dug with her paws flinging snow into the air, bringing the ball to the surface. With her nose covered in snow, Hope then flung the ball into the air and awaited its descent with anticipation. Lunging forward, Hope then pounced upon the ball again and again.

Sometimes, this lively pup just submerged her face into the snow, as if reveling in the delightful surprise buried below the surface. Hope repeated this exciting activity multiple times pouncing repeatedly.

Gary and I watched with delight. Smiles spread across our faces as we watched Hope bound with energy searching for the ball, digging to uncover the hidden object. Hope exhibited such pleasure in her activity. As much as we enjoyed watching Hope’s exuberance, so too did Hope revel in her search.

While reflecting on our walk, I wondered what God thinks of His children. Does He smile when we pounce into His Word, digging, discovering the treasures He has hidden for us there? The Bible reveals on numerous occasions that God delights in those committed to Him (see Deut. 30:9, 2 Samuel 22:20, Psalm 16:3, Zephaniah 3:17 and many more). One of my favorite verses is; “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (see Psalm 147:11).

When we spend time with Jesus in the Bible, we grow, putting our hope in His unfailing love. We honor and respect God, giving Him primacy in our lives. God becomes known more deeply as we spend time with Him.

When was the last time you pounced into the Word of God? Do you approach the Bible with eager anticipation?

Imagine yourself “pouncing” into the Bible, discovering eternal riches.

Picture God delighting in you as you discover His treasures in the Word. I believe God loves watching His people engage with His inspired Scriptures.

As Gary, and I continued the snowy walk, I noticed that Joy took great pleasure in the outdoor excursion, yet, gave little attention to the bright yellow treasure buried beneath the snow. She missed it all together. Do you miss the blessings and hidden goodness in God’s Word? Have you become bored with the Bible?

Don’t let cultural narratives and the enemy of God sabotage your excited approach to the Scriptures. God gave the Bible to us so that we would know Him more deeply and be formed by Him through the Truths buried within.

He delights in us as we delight in His Word.

If you find yourself stuck when approaching the Bible, perhaps it’s time pounce in a fresh way. While there is a time for Bible study and scholarship with the Word, there is also a time to pounce upon, dig in, and linger with the Word. Just as Hope pounced repeatedly, we too, can “pounce” into and read Scripture passages multiple times, allowing the Truths to sink into our being.

There are many ways to pounce into Scripture. Maybe enjoy one of these three fresh approaches to your time with Jesus and discover valuable treasures beneath the surface in His Word.

Pounce into Scripture by reading a passage more than once. First read the section slowly, listening to God’s Word. Read it a second time, reflecting. Listen for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Sit with that word or phrase for a moment. Read the same passage a third time receiving from God. Wonder and pray about how that word or phrase connects deeply with your soul. Read through the text one last time. Listen again, resting in God’s presence and then responding with gratitude. Thank God for His companionship and what He has shown you through His Word. Enjoy being in the presence of God. Read, Reflect, Receive and Respond.

Pounce by allowing your five senses to help you enter into the Scripture passage. As you read, notice what you hear and see. What can you touch, taste and smell? Pounce again. Listen to the voices, notice the people, and take in the setting. Let God’s Word come alive. As Martin Luther said,“If I read with all of my senses, if I creep into the text, I will emerge from the text transformed. I have encountered the figure of Jesus and this now shapes my figure” (Jesus: the Image of Humanity, pg. 14).

Lastly, pounce into God’s Word by imagining yourself in the scene. Who would you be? Why are you there? How do others in the scene respond to Jesus? Read the passage a few times imagining yourself as the different persons mentioned. What is Jesus speaking to you? What does God reveal to you about Himself, yourself and creation through the text? Allow God’s Word to come alive. M. Robert Mulholland explains this well; “… seek to allow the text to begin to become that intrusion of the Word of God into your life, to address you, to encounter you at deeper levels of your being” (Shaped by the Word, pg 56).

Treasures await when we pounce, dig in and linger with the Bible. Ask God to bring Scripture alive and meet deeply with your soul as you bury your face in His living Word. Delight yourself in the Lord by pouncing into His Word in a fresh way and imagine God delighting in your energetic approach to Him.

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

Psalm 119:16
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. – Read all of Psalm 119, noticing the number of times “delight” occurs.

Psalm 149:4
The LORD takes delight in his people…

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

M. Robert Mulholland Jr. Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. Nashville, TN. 2001.

Chris Webb. The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2011.

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

February 9-24 – Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, Australia
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Pastoral Staff and Senior Leaders.