without guile

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Luke 15:3-6 NIV
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.

Let me ask you a few questions about the passage above and see what you think. Ready? Go.

(Please “Leave a Reply” below the post and mark which question(s) you are answering.)

  1.  What kinds of trouble might a sheep (or a person) get into if they are separated from the flock and the shepherd? How could they be harmed, or do you think they would be okay?
  2. Does this verse indicate that the shepherd is aware of where each sheep is? What does this tell you about how Jesus looks at you and me?
  3. Have you ever felt like the lost sheep? I know I have. How does this verse help you in your walk with Jesus? What questions or comments does this passage bring up?

One thought: In today’s society the shepherd might be encouraged to think “Oh, the sheep is just exploring his or her options. They have to discover things for themselves before they can really learn it. Maybe the one sheep thinks they can find a new path. After all, we want to encourage their creativity, right?”

What do you think? 

Next time I tune a piano, I will be ready. I learned the hard way about the importance of being prepared or even over-prepared. Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea, but here’s the gist of it – I wasn’t as prepared as I might have thought. 

piano tuning

On Monday, I had a piano tuning job in Jackson, about 20 minutes away. I had directions on my phone and it looked like a pretty easy trip. It wasn’t. For one thing, there were lots of turns. I thought I could just look at my phone every time I needed to know which turn was next. What I didn’t think about was that I would have to pull over, stop, type in the pin number on my phone, pull the app up, and confirm/reconfirm my next steps. Mistake number one.

Because of my confusion over directions, which would have been solved if I had written them out, I was late for my appointment. The homeowner was late too, so that worked out. The tuning itself was pretty straightforward, but it would have made it smoother if I had batteries in my headlamp and sticky notes to mark the tuning pegs. The tuning took a little over two hours, which is about right. The owner was very appreciative and said his neighbor also wanted her piano tuned. I gave him my number to give to her, so that was cool.

The man’s house was in a subdivision – a very big subdivision. With no battery power on my phone, I had no GPS. I ended up making a wrong turn and was late coming home, which made Karen late for a Sunday School get together.

So with all that said, what is the spiritual application? I think it is this: We need to be ready for when Jesus returns. How can we get ready? I can think of three things off the top of my head.

1.) Keep in communication with Jesus, all day long, in every situation. If there is something you need to know, ask Him to show you what it is.

2.) Keep growing in your faith by digging into the Word, spending time with other believers, and taking steps of faith when the opportunity arises.

3.) Look for opportunities to share the love and Word of Jesus.

None of this is required. It is in response to a growing relationship with Christ, just spending time with Him, crying out to Him, just whatever else comes in a growing relationship.

(Note: I apologize for the delay in getting this posted. More posts coming soon.)

let us pray

                               praying hands


Without giving any names, I am asking you to join me in going to the Father for these requests. Remember that we have full access to go to Him in prayer through Jesus. Lord, we pray for:

  •  a site member with a special needs daughter with multiple challenges of body, mind, and spirit. Pray for mom S. and daughter E.
  • a site member who has crisis level needs for housing. He is living in his shop, which is leaking. He wants and needs a small house of his own. It is the rainy season there and that makes things very difficult.
  • several site members with long term medical issues who are looking for relief, wisdom, and healing. My wife still has a cold. I am awaiting surgery. others have mobility issues and pain. Lord, please bring your healing and peace to all these needs. Let us hear the good reports so we give You the credit for answered prayers.
  • What do you want me (us) to pray for? To let us know, just “leave a reply” right below this post. (You must be signed in to make any comments.)

Thank you for your prayers for all site members. Let’s lift each other up and then look for how God is going to answer these prayers. 

Pastor John

Dealing with anger – a multiple layered problem we can relate to

I saw this picture on For Like Minds website and thought about all the layers that may influence or cause anger. The point being made is that anger is a normal response to mental illness, and I can understand that. When things are not working the way we want or expect them to, it can be frustrating. 

If you see something in the picture you can relate to, let that be an opportunity to talk it through with the Lord. He knew that feeling too. In all things, Jesus understands and is our great healer, transformer, and compassionate redeemer. 

(A reminder – to reply to a post, go below the post and look for “leave a comment.” I would love to hear from you.)

Aspects of anger

A graphic on anger

Two tricks of the enemy we need to be aware of and resist
   without guile                                       What this lamb needs to be aware of

Sometimes we get into a mess and we don’t know how we got there. All we know is that we somehow got into our own private battle and we have to figure out a way to cope with the battle scars and escape the flaming arrows of the enemy. The enemy? Yes, the enemy of our souls loves to lead us into trouble, and he is really good at it.  As I have been reflecting on this strategy, I notice (and I know from personal experience) that there are tricks he likes to pull on us that keep us going the wrong direction.

One of the things that we (and the lamb above) need to be aware of is isolation. If you ever watch any shows on the Animal Planet or other networks, you will notice that when a predator is after a herd of animals, it will look for the one that is separated from the pack. It is alone and it is vulnerable. Do you know anybody like that? Reach out to them. Are you in that vulnerable position? I urge you to reach out for support. Contact me. Call a prayer line. Write a prayer request on DAB friends or other support group. Stop and pray. Pour your heart out to God. I double dog gone guarantee that He will listen. You will not be alone. You may feel alone, but I promise you on the authority of the Word that God will we with you in the middle of your mess. If you are alone, isolated, vulnerable, tell someone. Please don’t let yourself be a lone ranger Christian that cuts himself or herself off from all support, both human and divine.

Secondly, the enemy will look for those that are weak. I am not talking about physical weakness. I am talking about those who are weak in faith, or weak in the Lord. Dear Reader, you and I need to prevent this weakness by stepping outside our comfort zone and doing things that will help us get stronger in the Lord. We need to eat (take in, absorb) His word. We need to drink of His love. We need to exercise our faith in Him and seek His leading and favor. And sometimes we just need to rest in His arms and let Him carry us and guard our souls.

I am here for you and I will listen. Others in this community are here for you as well. And I know God is there for you, even right now. Don’t let yourself crawl into your own hidden world. That is very dangerous!

You and I need to keep looking to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We need to keep following Him, and keep walking with Him, one day at a time. And sometimes we just need to rest as Jesus watches over our soul.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the Shepherd of our soul that keeps us safe from the attack of the enemy. Jesus, you have the last word on this. I believe that last word may very well be … “not this one, devil. This one belongs to me!”

The three steps to renewal. What step are you on?

                          “Steps”

The first step is hard but necessary. It is called “repentance”, which is a change of mind, heart, or direction. It is a realization that there is something in your life that needs to change, something that just isn’t working. Something is off, and you know you need to turn away from it, reject it, push back against it. It could be a thought, an unhealthy lifestyle, an attitude, or an action. Whatever it is, it has to go. Right now.

The second step in this process of restoration and renewal is “return.” You’ve already turned around (repentance). Now return to where you belong. Return to God. Return to your family, your good habits, your healthy way of thinking and living. As the song says “get back to where you once belonged.”

The third step, and the result of the first two, is to “rest”. Jesus said “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 11:28) Rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in the peace of God. Rest in the assurance of God’s unconditional love. Rest in knowing you are on the right path. You may have failed in the past, but now you are in good fellowship with the Father, who loves you unconditionally and will always welcome you back. Rest in the assurance of His love

Repent. Return. Rest.

One big pile of limbs and what it means for us

pile of twigs and limbs

                                                     What debris is in our lives?

Just yesterday a tree trimmer took a huge crane and cut off a big bunch of limbs … I mean a BIG bunch of limbs. They very carefully cut them up into smaller pieces and placed them on the road, ready for the next crew to pick up the huge load.

As I looked at that huge pile of limbs, I thought about the things we sometimes let into our lives, the stuff that just keeps accumulating for days and weeks and years. What limbs? What debris? What excess?

Self is probably at the core of it – fear, selfishness, greed, pride, control, looking to things to comfort us instead of God. We (I) pile up the approval of others to sustain me instead of seeking God’s approval. I also look to food for comfort, which caused me to gain three pounds this week. Not good. Some of that I had no control over, but some of it … Of course, I could also put all the focus on that and get my mind off of walking with the Lord, one day at a time, by faith, walking in His grace and love.

We can accumulate things, people, control, feelings, positions of power and leadership, pride, knowledge, or any number of things that we just don’t need … but to what end? No, instead we need to just settle in to a deep, quiet relationship with Jesus – one where we sit down at His feet. I don’t think we can get too much of that.

If you are in the trimming / pruning stage of life, rest assured that the end of the pruning is a vessel thats fit for growth and for bearing fruit. May that be true for all of us.

Is it time for a trim?  

overcoming

Dealing with a tough subject – Suicide prevention and resources

This is national suicide prevention week. With that in mind, here is a list of resources to prevent this tragedy. These can be found at the link below from the Facebook page for “For Like Minds”

“Please share this page using the links on the left hand side.”

https://www.facebook.com/forlikeminds/posts/479437022636282?notif_id=1568068168117105&notif_t=page_highlights

One person’s difficult journey toward recovery from psychosis and anorexia

overcoming

green, blue, pink colors on a face screaming. Red color in the background.

I cannot imagine the journey this lady in the article below has been through. She kept resisting treatment and kept searching for the right combination that would take her from mental chaos to peace. Click the link below to get the full story.

Overcoming psychosis and anorexia