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My son came home from school one day and grabbed the dust pan and broom. I had wondered if this boy who rarely jumps into chores without my prompting had suddenly become responsible and independent during the course of the school day. As I was getting ready to sit down and congratulate myself for training him right, I heard him say, “Got it!” With that declaration, he grabbed a Ziploc bag from his pocket and carefully poured in the dust bunnies he had collected from under our couch. 

 

By the expression on my face, he could see that I was quite confused. “It’s for science,” he said. “We are studying what kind of stuff makes up dust. We’re dissecting it!”

 

I didn’t know if I should be proud or offended that he knew just where to find these suspicious little dust-bunnies. I thought that I’d been successful at keeping those little buggers hidden. When it was time to host a party or even just a friend or two, I would take great pains to go through the house collecting and eliminating these dusty little reminders that people actually live in my home. I much prefer creating the impression that my family is so squeaky clean and happy that even the dust bunnies don’t gather here. 

 

But my son knew better. He knew just where to find the shady characters. And now, he was going to dissect the very dirt that can expose me for what I am…a hider, a fake, a person who needed help. 

 

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No book is a chapter

No chapter tells the whole story

No mistake defines who we are…

Bob Goff

 

One day a gentleman came to my mother-in-law’s door saying that he could resurface her driveway for several hundred dollars. He told her, “I’ve been doing some resurfacing in the neighborhood and have enough supplies to do your small driveway.”

 

She and my sister-in-law had been discussing that very thing recently, so she said, “Sure, why not?”

 

After working a short time, the gentleman came back to the door to say that he had finished the job. Happy that he had done such quick work, she readily wrote him a check and continued about her day.

 

When my sister-in-law got home, she gingerly walked across the newly resurfaced driveway. But, something seemed amiss. It wasn’t until she spotted her own footprints on the floor, that she realized that the guy who had “resurfaced” their driveway had conned mom by pouring motor oil over the driveway not by laying tar.

 

She and mom immediately jumped in the car and headed to the bank to stop payment on the check. But, that con man had gone directly to her bank and cashed her check straightaway after leaving her place. 

 

Mom was heartsick. Devastated. We all were. Not only had he conned her out of a significant amount of money. He had left her with a big mess to clean up.

 

We may think that kind of thing could never happen to us. But, catch any one of us off guard and we can be duped just like my mother-in-law…

 

Sometimes with much graver consequences. Like Jehoshaphat.

 

Yep. That’s right. I said, Jehoshaphat.

 

You may not be familiar with this king of Judah. But, he was one of the good ones. And that’s saying something, because there weren’t too many of them back in the Old Testament days. In either Judah or Israel.  

 

The Bible describes him in 1st Kings 22:43 and in 2nd Chronicles 20:32 as a king ‘who did right in the eyes of the Lord.’ That’s because Jehoshaphat’s heart was devoted to the ways of God (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He sought God’s direction (2nd Chronicles 18:4). He implemented reforms. He removed idol worship from the land (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He raised up judges to act according to God’s standards (2nd Chronicles 19:5). He set in place spiritual standards, as well, teaching his people God’s Law (2nd Chronicles 17:9) and elevating godly men to the priesthood (2nd Chronicles 19:11).

 

Yet, like all of us, in unguarded moments, he, too, was fooled. One of those decisions cost him a fleet of ships (2nd Chronicles 20:33-37). But, the other nearly cost him his life.

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I beg you to step into whatever adventure God has for you, whatever the cost. He leads us down different paths,

but none of us is led down the path we would have chosen for ourselves…

Trust whatever He has for you. It will be better than anything you can plan for yourself.

— Francis Chan

 

 

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The sun was especially hot. As he reached for another heavy board, sweat dripped onto his dirty hand, creating a miniscule, muddy stream. Without thought, he wiped his brow, leaving a muddy trail onto his forehead. Then he straightened his back slowly, like a morning glory unfurling in the early hours, and he went back to the task at hand.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

It was of no surprise when he began to hear the cacophony of cackles and derisive chuckles, increasing in volume after several more heartbeats as the sun increased its power. Especially on a day like today; hot days like this brought them out in full force.

 

There were the usual. The voices that enjoyed hearing their own rise above on a strong, conceited current and riling up the encircling crowd, like a mother with her chicks that followed blindly, although not to such a nurturing leader.

 

“Hey Noah!” He heard the familiar voice.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

“Your feet are looking particularly dusty on this fine day. How interesting… Shouldn’t you be standing in mud by now?... Oh wait…” He shaded his eyes as he strained his head forward in exaggeration, focusing his eyes towards the distant horizon. His arm catapulted towards the sky, his finger pointing. “Is that a raincloud forming in the distance?... Look everyone, a cloud!”

 

The crowds’ eyes followed. The voice continued. “Maybe today will be the day our fine friend gets his much-needed rain! We might actually get…an inch, or maybe two! Just enough for the bottom board of your boat to get wet, Noah. How about that? What do you say, Noah?... Why so quiet?”

 

The laughter followed. More mocking. More heckling.

 

Noah reached down.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

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Did you know there was a day when the sun stood still?

Heidi Anderson

 

Ever since my first-born was just a tiny kicking blob on an ultrasound, I’ve debated about his life verse. There’s so many compelling nuggets in Scripture that could ennoble him to live a faith-filled life… but I was always stuck on the cliché, oh-so-common verse in Joshua: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9).

 

Shouldn’t I be more creative though? This verse was announced at my college graduation ceremony, screen-printed on the back of my volleyball warm-up tee, etched into half of the mugs in my cupboard, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s splashed across every other Christian trinket you could possibly find around the globe. 

 

But. Even so. I’m convicted with the thought that its over-use shouldn’t diminish the potency of what this verse delivers. Because there’s power among these words. So much strength to draw from. And it introduces a character in the Bible with such sure faith—exactly what I hope for in my son. 

 

So yes, I’m stuck on that man Joshua. The one with the audacious faith that made the sun stand still. And I’m talking literally. Joshua needed more time to defeat his enemies, but in order to do that, he needed daylight. So, when evening hours hit and the sun started to dip down, Joshua very simply asked God to pause it from falling further. To freeze time for His people. Who would even think to pray that prayer? To believe that God will literally stop the world for him? Stop the scientific order that faithfully repeats itself like clockwork day-in and day-out? Joshua. And God gave him exactly what he asked for.

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Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – (Matthew 14:31)

 

My heart was beating wildly as I watched my son stand at the edge of a small cliff off the coast of southern Greece. The beautiful turquoise waters beckoned him to jump, but his feet said “no.”  While I had watched seven older cousins make the leap, I wondered if giving permission to my youngest to jump off a cliff might have not been my best parenting decision.

 

 

Fear was gripping his little mind. There was the fear of physical harm if the jump didn’t go well, and the fear of humiliation if he decided to crawl back down the cliff. After all, his brother and cousins had already made the leap.

 

I tried to yell up words of encouragement when I remembered years ago, trying to get him to jump off the diving board at our local pool. If I remained on the side of the pool, he would jump off the board sideways, narrowly missing the edge of the pool. But when I swam out beyond the diving board, then he would jump out safely and swim right to me. 

 

 

I immediately left the side of the cliff where I was safely watching from afar and swam out to where he would ideally land. I said, “Just jump out to me and swim my way, just like we used to do at the pool. Don’t look down, just look at me. I’ll be right here.” 

 

 

What happened next was a combination of sheer terror and sheer delight (mine and his) as I watched my son leap from the edge of the cliff and into the water in front of me. Within seconds, he emerged from the brilliant blue, wide eyed and smiling. He swam right to me and screamed, “I did it!” He may have doubted the water, but he trusted me at my word, that I’d be there when he came up.  

 

In his gospel, Matthew tells a story about the disciple Peter, who also towed the line between fear and trust. 

 

When the disciples find themselves out in their boat caught in a treacherous storm, they see Jesus coming out to them, walking on the water.  As if this isn’t scary enough, Peter stretches his fear and faith a little further. Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, ask me to come to you.” And Jesus says, “Come.” So, Peter swings his feet over the side of the boat, carefully setting his feet down on something that should have engulfed him, and miraculously, stands up. Then Peter begins to take tentative steps toward Jesus. He looks forward. Although I have no way of knowing, I picture Jesus keeping Peter’s gaze with an expression of encouragement as if to say, “Keep walking!” 

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