Whether we are learning how to play basketball, cooking a new recipe, playing a game with our kids, or learning how to follow Christ, we must learn the basics. Without understanding the basics, we will never build a firm foundation or be able to excel at anything we choose to do, so we must get back to the basics.
Jumping Ahead of the Basics
Often times we are so eager to do the BIG things for Christ and His kingdom that we forget that the daily work of walking with him is what is most important. Without being in his word, Satan has too much of an opportunity to trip us up and make can something SEEM godly, when it is really not God’s way at all.
One result of jumping ahead of the basics of the Bible is that we can actually not only end up following a misleading path delivered by another well-meaning Christ follower, but we ourselves could lead others in a direction away from Christ as well.
The Coffee House Conversation
This past summer as God called my heart to write again, I found myself sitting on a terrace of a coffee house with my husband. He was working and I was writing.
As I took a minute to look up from my laptop, I noticed that a young woman had settled herself on the opposite side of the terrace and pulled out a well-read Bible.
To say I felt compelled to go pray with her was an understatement, so I finished my thought, saved my work, and walked over to say hi.
Now, I don’t mind meeting new people, but sometimes I can be awkward. I’m not sure what I said, but she politely invited me to sit down and we proceeded to talk for about two hours before ending with a prayer.
The Sad Epiphany from our Conversation
It was an utter joy speaking with this young woman. She was full of wisdom and knew God’s word. As I looked at her Bible, which looked like it had been poured over for at least a decade, I asked how long she had been following Christ and her answer shocked me:
Less than a year!
Praise the Lord that she had been leaning into God’s word so heavily, but this is where the sad epiphany occurred.
She beamed as she shared her conversion story, but sadness filled her face as she confessed that almost immediately she was confronted with well-meaning Christians who encouraged her to read other books than the Bible so that she could grow in her understanding of her role as a disciple of Christ.
Why would we think that giving a book that shares someone else’s thoughts about what the Bible has to say could be better than God’s actual words?
But don’t we do this sometimes?
Instead of reading a book that talks about what God says, she decided to read what God says. She wanted to go directly to the source!
Even though at the time she was less than a year old as a follower of Christ her spiritual maturity level was way beyond her years and it all started by being in God’s word. From their her faith grew, her walk with God became more solid, and she faces each day knowing that the God of the Bible is living, breathing, and giving her his strength!
Is this a sad truth that we are facing?
Is she the only Christ follower that in their immature stage has been offered something other than the Bible to learn from?
Do we as Christ followers tend to put more emphasis on other books that supposedly explain the Bible rather than encourage people to dig into the Bible for themselves?
The Myth that Compels Us to Share Other Books
After walking away from this conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many of us may choose to recommend another book than the Bible to help someone grow spiritually?
It’s seem ridiculous doesn’t it? But as I thought about my own walk, I remember thinking several things about the Bible before I started digging in on my own.
“The Bible is too hard to understand.”
“I can’t understand this on my own.”
“I need someone to explain this to me.”
And although these are seemingly true the devil totally takes advantage of these thoughts and turns them into beliefs that keep us from opening the Bible.
Here is how I respond to these statement now:
“The Bible is too hard to understand.”
Although some concepts in the Bible may be difficult to understand, we will never begin to understand them, if we don’t start reading and studying them now. As we read and study, we will begin to make connections that will help us understand. God is good and gracious and will help us as we seek Him.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” – Proverbs 8:17
The thoughts “I can’t understand this on my own.” and “I need someone to explain this to me.” now get answered by James 1:5:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
We can ask God to give us wisdom and understanding as we are reading his words, so that we can grow closer to him.
What Does Getting Back to the Basics Look Like?
Getting back to the basics is really simple. It means opening our Bibles, reading them, praying for wisdom, and then with courage implementing what we have read.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22
It’s not about just reading the Bible for ourselves but also reading the Bible with our children and teaching them how to live it out through our Lord’s strength.
Bible Reading Tracker Printable
This year our family decided to keep a visual Bible Reading Log of what we have read. As we read through different books and chapters, we color off a chapter of that book. We keep it tucked in our Bible so we don’t misplace it and actually tend to use it as a bookmark for where we finished.
I’m excited to see what all God will teach us this year as we draw closer to Him through His word!
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, we praise you! You spoke this world into being and created us. Your words are powerful. Your Word brings life, hope, peace, and mercy. We pray that we will delight in your words and teachings, that we will meditate on it day and night and be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it’s fruit in season and who leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1-3). May we then live a life that honors and glorifies you and points others back to your words of truth. In Jesus’ powerful name – Amen
Blessing Others with a Valentine’s Day Heart Attack
For the first time last year, the kids and I decided to give some friends and neighbors a Valentine’s Day Heart attack. This is a fun way to secretly let others know that they are loved and someone cares about them.
We not only wanted them to know that they are loved by us but by God too, so of course, we made up our own Valentine’s Day Heart Attack Hearts saying as much! We printed them out on red paper, cut them up, grabbed tape, and tried to not get caught by our neighbors.
Achieving Part of our Goal
The goal of not getting caught by our neighbors was blown in the first 10 minutes. LOL!! I tried to nonchalantly send the children to the house next door while the neighbor’s vehicle was gone only to have the lady of the house pull into her driveway as the kids were running wildly with the hearts in hand. It was hilarious!
We were able to give a Heart Attack to the rest of our neighbor’s and friends without them initially knowing, although I’m sure they eventually realized it was us.
We need to work on our secretive sneak factor. At least, the true goal of blessings others worked out.
Unexpectedly, we also received a surprise of our own.
Receiving Our Own Heart Attack Surprise
Trying to be sneaky, we decided to give our own front door a Valentine’s Day Heart Attack too because we didn’t want to make it easily noticeable that we did the attacking.
After attacking our friends and neighbors, we received our own surprise. It wasn’t a heart attack but actually more along the lines of a heart hug!
I thought this was a cute idea for Valentine’s Day and really expected everyone to remove the hearts a couple days after Valentine’s Day.
However, the opposite happened.
Some people left the hearts on their glass doors, windows, or mailboxes until the weather and wind removed.
The neighbor, who caught our not-so-sneaky crew, sent us a picture months and months later after we had moved saying the last remaining heart was hanging on for dear life and she was going to leave it on there until it fell off by itself.
What a blessing this was to us! We felt so loved and cherished! And that is exactly what we wanted them to feel.
Our mission was accomplished with blessings that were returned!
In reference to sharing God’s word and love with others, this verse from Isaiah 55:10-11 comes to mind:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Valentine’s Day Heart Attack Printables
I hope this has encouraged you to give out Heart Attacks for Valentine’s this year.
Those red paper hearts simply said:
“You are loved!”
“God loves you!”
“You are a blessing!”
Although the message was short, the blessings were felt for months after the chocolates were devoured.
Whether it’s Valentine’s day or not, may we choose to find ways to let others know they are loved and cared for not only by us, but by the mighty One who created this entire universe. They are loved and they are special. He knows them by name and wants to be an eternal blessing to them.
Prayer Over our Hearts
Lord, we praise you for loving us the way you do. You give the best gifts and we praise you for the gift of Jesus, who died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could come to be blessed as having you as our Heavenly Father.
Lord, give us the courage to spread your love freely to others. We praise you that every gift you give does not return to you empty. May we share the blessing you’ve given us with others freely. In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!
Are you willing to be humiliated? As the kids and I read through Isaiah 20, this was one of the main questions that came to mind.
Are you willing to be Humiliated?
What would be the most humiliating thing you can think of that God might ask you to do?
In my wildest dreams I would not have thought God would ask this of anyone, but as I read it out loud to my kids, I realized that what God asks us to do is often for the benefit of others and can put us in an earthly humiliating position.
How was Isaiah Humilated?
[God] said to [Isaiah], “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.”
And [Isaiah] did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exciles, young and old, with buttocks bared – to Egypt’s shame.
Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. In that day people who live on the on this coast will say, “See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria!
How then can we escape?”
3 years of Nakedness? Really?
I’ve been to topless beaches in Europe, where I kept my suit on, and even then I couldn’t fathom being uncovered.
But without hesitation Isaiah took of his shoes and his clothes. Yes, it was sackcloth, and I’m sure he was relieved to not be wearing that itchy, old, uncomfortable piece of clothing, but naked for 3 years!
Isaiah exchanged his sackcloth for nothing that would protect him from the sun, insects, or the chapping wind!
For 3 years, he boldly walked in what others would consider humiliation. This was surely a sign that did not go unnoticed by the population of people he passed by.
Although he may have seemed like the emperor with no clothes, he knew he didn’t have any clothes. However, he had a calling and his crown is definitely waiting for him in heaven. He obeyed even in the midst of earthly humiliation.
Will we be as willing?
Will we be as willing as Isaiah to go through with what God asks us to do?
I pray so, if it comes to that. If so, then we truly will be following in Jesus’ steps as earthly humiliation followed him being beaten and nailed to the cross.
“Remember what I told you:
‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey your also.
– Jesus, John 15:20
Humble ourselves to God
Although, I do believe that God won’t call many followers to replicate Isaiah’s physical act of obedience in order to warn others, I do believe God expects us to humble ourselves to Him every day.
For the Sake of Others
Most definitely, Isaiah streaked across the countryside not in fun as a college student who is trying to get into a fraternity but as a man of God who was trying to turn the attention of others back to their Creator and true Savior.
You see, what was happening was any time God’s people were in trouble or scared, they would run to others instead of running to the only One who has ever truly delivered them, the LORD.
Who Do We Run to In Times of Trouble?
This is a question that we must ask ourselves. Because if we don’t have the courage to ask this question, we stand to be humiliated but not by choice.
Isaiah made the choice to humiliate himself to the world by humbling himself to God.
If we choose to not humble ourselves to God and put our trust in others, we will be humiliated for all the world to see. It may happen in this physical life or it may be the ultimate humiliation that leads to damnation and destruction in the next.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, you suffered the ultimate humiliation for us on the cross. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, you sacrificed your whole self to save us!
Lord, we pray we will lean into your courage and strength and trust you above anyone else on earth. May we hold your opinion and your truth in it’s rightful place and seek your approval over the approval of man.
What words comes to your mind as you think about the days of December?
There are so many words and images that fill my mind when I hear that the days of December are coming or are here. These are just a handful.
Especially since we started celebrating Hanukkah and Advent, one of my favorite images is of our family gathered together by candlelight or flashlight reading God’s word.
The Power of the Light
There is something powerful about even a soft light glowing in an otherwise dark room. Your eyes can’t help but look at the light. Your eyes might search the dark room but they always come back to the light.
Try this experiment with your family tonight.
Turn off all the lights. Then, carefully and quietly walk somewhere else in the room. Turn on a flashlight or light a candle and notice how quickly everyone’s face turns toward you.
I do this little experiment with our kids every so often, because I want them to remember the power of the light. The light cannot be ignored. Others might try to extinguish it, but the light always breaks through the darkness and shines a path before us.
Christ is the Light of our Lives
Christ is the light of our lives and even though we have difficult times, he is our constant guide and companion, shining the path so we can walk.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Doesn’t that verse give you a surge of hope and joy?
He has removed the darkness from our lives and given us the light of life!
Oh, to never have to be afraid of the darkness. To “not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more (Luke 12:4).” This is the peace that comes with following the light.
The Truth often Hidden during the Days of December
Yes, those verses are joyful and hope-filled. They give us all the warm fuzzies, but there is a truth that is often overlooked during the days of December, that in honoring Christ, I cannot over look here.
In Luke 12:5, Jesus continues…
“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.”
Depending on where you stand in your relationship with Christ right now, you may exude joy in proclaiming that you know and trust the One who should be feared, knowing that he is protecting your soul from being completely separated from him is something to praise and celebrate.
OR you may not even realize that there is a God worth loving and trusting that will protect you from the tortures of hell, if you choose to follow Him.
Our Longing for the Days of December
Our longing is for more and more to know the heart of Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the joy of being reunited with their Heavenly Father. The advent season is a time of eagerly anticipating Jesus’ return and joyful praise over what Christ has already accomplished.
But we can’t forget about those that don’t realize he is coming back!
He is coming!
Jesus will return soon, so let us take on not only this time of eager anticipation with joy in our hearts but realize the urgency in these moments too. So many still do not know Christ.
We want them to have a holy, reverent fear of our Lord because his light is truth. He is the holy way. They need the eternal hope that we are so joyful and excited about right now. They need to see you shining the power of Christ’s light in their dark world.
In these days of December, many are looking for the light that you have.
Shine brightly! The light cannot be ignored.
Prayer Over our Hearts
Lord, your love for us is beyond compelling.
When we hear what you’ve done for us, it humbles us to know that you would love a people that have in their actions and words have spoken hate against you. You took our sins upon you in order that we, an unholy people, may be reunited with our holy Heavenly Father.
Oh Lord, we pray that we will not only praise you, but proclaim you to those you have placed in our lives. Let us be a shinning light to those who still don’t know you and are living in darkness. Let our hope in you become their hope as well.
As followers of Christ, may we unite together in purpose so that your light may shine even brighter here on earth. May we let the light of Christ shine so all can be impacted by his truth and eternal gift of salvation!
Have you ever labeled yourself in such a way as to isolate your feelings? I did that when I labeled myself a “Fly By Friend,” but I have decided to call myself that no longer.
What is a “Fly By Friend”?
I dubbed myself this after realizing I had a tendency to gravitate to those who seemed to really need a friend or felt left out in some form or fashion and then would fly off as soon as they found someone else. It may sound silly, but in a child’s mind, even in an adult’s mind, we find ways of coping, when we have relationships that are no longer close like they once were.
So I dubbed myself a “Fly by Friend” and I honestly didn’t mind being one at all. I love being able to be there for people, to encourage them, and motivate them on their journey. And although I may have wished for the relationship to last longer, I knew it served a good purpose in their lives and I was content with that.
I understood that each person came into my life for a purpose, even if only for a time, so I didn’t mind only being there for the time they needed that encouragement.
A part of me, held onto this identity because then it was easier to encourage the person to fly onto their next growth phase and not be hurt or offended when we weren’t as close as before.
No Longer a Fly By Friend!
As I was speaking to my husband today, I realized that I hadn’t thought of myself as a Fly by Friend in a long time. I am no longer a Fly by Friend!
And you know what I realized…I have more deeper relationships now than I had before!
I had begun to pray a part of Psalm 68:6 over myself and my family.
Lord, we trust you wherever you take us. We know “you set the lonely in families” and so we pray you will bring us to those who will be like our family wherever we go. In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!
I was ready to receive deep friendships and God provided them!
Yes, there are still people that will only be in our lives for a certain time, but now I’m ready for these deeper relationships and I realize that I wasn’t completely ready for them before.
Watch What We Speak
What we speak to ourselves or others becomes our truth, whether it should be a truth or not. This is not to say there isn’t an absolute truth! No, God proclaims absolute truths.
It is to say that what we think and say becomes our reality often times. This is one of the reasons why I believe God tells us to guard our hearts.
Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. – Proverbs 4:23-26
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Capturing My Thoughts
When I believed I was a “Fly by Friend,” that is exactly how my relationships looked.
But in not identifying with that idea for the past several years, I have been ready (mentally, physically, and emotionally) to have deeper, long lasting relationships.
And you know what?
God, has answered my prayers! And in his mercy, He is teaching me how to be a better friend to those I have the blessing of calling friends and family!
Question to Prayerfully Ponder
Have you ever labeled yourself in such a way to isolate your feelings?
Is there something in your life you would like changed?
Consider how you are talking to yourself about that area of your life and then take those thoughts to God in prayer.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, you are holy and awesome and beyond compare. You teach us the meaning of true friendship. You do not force us to love you. Freely, you gift us your friendship and allow us to choose how we engage or disengage from you.
You encourage us to love and be friends to others as you have been with us. As you have walked with many physically and spiritually, you know the heartaches and the blessings that can come with befriending others.
May we not allow our fears to keep us at arms length from others, but trust that you have a purpose for each interaction.
May we seek your guidance as to whom we allow to walk closely with us so that these close friendships would encourage our faith and not steer us away from you. We pray that as we walk with others that we would bolster their faith in you too!
Lord, we trust you wherever you take us. We know “you set the lonely in families” and so we pray you will bring us to those who will be like our family wherever we go.