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Just when I’d begun to dive full-in to this faith thing, questions began to arise. Big questions. Questions that, depending on the answers, had the capacity to completely derail my faith. And that terrified me. It was ID-100181314as if, with every question, I was teetering on the verge of hell. Luckily, God was holding tight to me, using my doubts and questions to draw me deeper into Him.

He’s amazing that way.

And I just realized… my short story, without explanation, will leave you baffled, wondering how it possibly connects to physics and Marcia’s excellent post. So, let me explain. :) My questions had to do with biblical authority and credibility. I wanted to know if there was evidence to back up what I read. How did we know this book was God’s Word? How did we know Jesus truly was who He said He was? A man swallowed then regurgitated by a whale? Seriously?

These questions didn’t just arise my curiosity. They completely unsettled me, and I had to pursue them, regardless of where they led me. (I’m insanely stubborn that way.) So I spent the next three-to-five years studying EVERYTHING I could find: flood geology, archeology, astrophysics, the writings of the apostolic fathers, and the list goes on.

IMG_1976Here’s what I found: God uses it all. He is in all, the Creator of all, and the One who holds everything together. And yes, He can and will  even us physics to reveal another layer of His unfathomable glory. This is a hugely long intro into an amazing post written by Marcia Gunnet Woodward.

Faith and Physics by Marcia Gunnet Woodward

            God speaks to each of us differently. With me, it’s often through words and ideas—His, mine, or someone else’s. Math and science, not so much. The other day, though, He and I had an interesting conversation about physics and walking on water. I was reading the story of Peter going to Jesus, walking on the water.

Matthew 14:25-31

…He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him…they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus [said], “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  (NASB)

 

I heard God whisper, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

It was the same old story it had always been, but I sensed Him wanting me to see it through new eyes. I looked at it again and heard Him whisper again.

“How many times have you jumped in a pool? What’s wrong with this picture?”

I started thinking about jumping into a pool, about how short the time is, between when you leave the land, and when you are completely immersed. That was when I saw it!

I searched physics websites, asking the question, “How long does it take a six foot tall, 200 pound man to drop six feet?” I gave Peter the benefit of the doubt, though it is highly unlikely that he was that large. You know what I discovered?

They estimate the amount of time for a 200 pound man to drop six feet would be…ID-10064783

0.15 seconds!

15/100 of a second!

Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that just make you want to wave your hands in the air, shout “Amen!” and get up and dance? It doesn’t? Maybe I should explain.

The Scripture says Peter saw the wind, got afraid, and began to sink. Then he called out, “Lord, save me!” Or in another translation, “Master, help me!” But from the time Peter was standing on top of the water to the time the water closed over his head should have been 0.15 seconds! Do you know how much you can say in 0.15 seconds? I timed it with a stopwatch.

            In 0.15 seconds, the most you can say is, “Muh!”

What if it means that in spite of the wind, in spite of his fear, in spite of the fact that Jesus didn’t seem to be near enough to reach him, or help him, or get there in time, Peter wasn’t really sinking? The Scripture says, “…he began to sink.” His feet may have been getting wet, but it sounds like he wasn’t going under! Jesus’ miracle-working power was still keeping him above the waves.

And the same is true for us. No matter how bad the circumstances around us look. No matter how frightened we are. No matter how far away Jesus feels in that moment, He is there! And His resurrection power is at work in us, keeping us safe ’til the storm passes by.

How about it? A lesson on faith from a law of physics? Can I get an “Amen”?

 

***

        Marcia studied English and writing at Indiana Wesleyan University, and has been a published writer for over 30 years. She has written devotional and inspirational articles, newspaper stories, theatre scripts, short fiction, and children’s books. She is also a freelance editor and writing consultant. Her “day jobs”—newspaper carrier, Avon lady, barista—have fed her incurable fascination with people, and she enjoys writing to explore the commonalities and diversities of the human race. She sees her mission as using the parabolic arc of story to launch projectiles of truth and grace past barricaded minds and into walled-off hearts. Visit her online at her blog, It’s All About Marcia and website, and connect with her on Twitter (@MarGunWoo) and visit her Facebook page: Marcia Gunnett Woodard

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Did Marcia’s post increase your appreciation of this miraculous account? When has God captured your interest with a story, sentence, or word, inviting you to dig deeper, and what were the results? I’m pretty sure we all have times of doubting and questioning. Can you share yours? Did God use your questions to deepen your faith, and if so, how? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before you go, I invite you to view the Christmas story through, perhaps a deeper lens. God chose a rather unlikely cast to share in the glorious incarnation. Kinda makes you wonder why, huh? And what was the real reason Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a place to stay? Join me on Renee’ Blare’s blog as I talk about this Unexpected Christmas Cast.

Oh, and some fun news! Readers have been messaging me to tell me Amazon is shipping my second novel. Woo-hoo! I can’t wait to hear what they (and you?) think of it! And I absolutely can’t wait to get myWhenDawnBreaks_N154102_300dpiRGB author copies. It’s always fun to hold an actual copy of your book. And to blast pictures of you doing so all across FB. haha.

Throw back Thursday--I took this picture of our princess on a special family day. Memories matter, and time passes quickly. Make it count.

Throw back Thursday–I took this picture of our princess on a special family day. Memories matter, and time passes quickly. Make it count.

Oh, my, does today’s post hit me smack in my momma-heart. With our princess so near launch age, everything in our home has become more… intentional. Because we know our time is short, and we want every moment to count. It’s like we’re trying to cram all these memories into her already exploding brain. I’m not sure if these memories are for her or us. ;) I suspect both.

I often say, parenting is the hardest, most important, most rewarding, heart-wrenching and heart-lifting job a person can have. And there aren’t any do-overs.

Okay, so that thought sent a jolt of adrenaline shooting through my gut. Let’s just say, there are numerous moments I’d like to do-over. But praise God He’s in the restoring, healing, transforming business and can turn my biggest parenting mistake into something beautiful. (If anything, I’ve helped our daughter see plenty of things she doesn’t want to do when she becomes a parent. ha!)

Maria headshot LLBDToday my sweet friend and fellow Living by Grace hostess, Maria Morgan, shares her thoughts on influential parenting. If you haven’t read her book to your kiddos yes, you absolutely must. I’ve heard it’s becoming many children’s favorite.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy (I believe e-version) of her children’s book, Louie’s Big Day! The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments left on today’s post. 

Making Your Influence Count

By

Maria I. Morgan

What kind of influence are you having on your kids? Our only child will be getting married in less than a month, and over the course of her engagement I’ve had ample time to reflect on that very question.

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It comes with both wonderful experiences and some difficult challenges. In spite of all of our parenting blunders, I’m confident the Lord will continue to work in our daughter’s life. God’s Word is reassuring:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

No guarantees

To the best of our ability we’ve pointed our girl to the Savior and tried to live out what God’s Word teaches. I’m so thankful for His grace where we’ve fallen short.

As parents, we have a big responsibility to teach and counsel our kids based on the truths of the Bible. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for families that began with a godly heritage to walk away from the Lord a generation or two later.

A sad commentary

Remember Ahaziah? His grandfather was Jehoshaphat. God’s Word describes Jehoshaphat as a man who,

“…sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 17:4

But Ahaziah’s father, Jehoram, decided to follow a different path. He married Athaliah, a woman who worshipped idols, and he chose to follow in the footsteps of the previous kings of Israel. In the space of one generation, the true God had been denied.

The advice of a mother

By the time Ahaziah began ruling Israel after his father died, he was already entrenched in evil practices. His mother had left a lasting impression on him:

“…for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction.” 2 Chronicles 22:3b-4

I’m thankful for the examples of others who chose to follow God in spite of parents who were unbelievers. Godly parenting doesn’t guarantee godly children. Each person must decide who to follow: God or Satan.

This doesn’t negate our parental responsibility to teach our children the truth of God’s Word. Each day as we submit to the Lord and clothe ourselves with His armor, He will equip us with the ability to do so.

Your turn

Are you leaning on the Lord as you parent your children? What step will you take today to teach your kids God’s truth?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for working in my life and the lives of my kids even when I fail. I know I’m not 100% responsible for how my children turn out, because each of them was created with a free will. But I also know I am responsible for teaching them Ad for December issue Book Fun Magazine-page-001Your truth. Help me to do so today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*It’s so important to teach our kids godly truths. And just in time for Christmas, I’ve released a children’s book that can serve as a tool to help accomplish that goal. Louie’s BIG day! features timeless characters who learn about purpose and friendship. The book concludes with questions to stimulate conversation and help re-emphasize biblical concepts. It’s fun for the whole family! Available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon.

Maria Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker who has a passion for sharing God’s love and truth with others. Visit her online at MariaMorgan.com

***

Let’s talk about this! Life can get so busy, and there are so many issues we as parents or grandparents must deal with *now*. And yet, I’ve found I can get so busy chasing fires, it’s easy to lose sight of my longterm plan. How am I preparing our princess for adulthood? Am I pointing her to Scripture? In our discussions, am I speaking love, grace, and truth?

livingbygracepic.jpI encourage you to ask yourself those same questions. Are you parenting with intentionality? What can you do, starting today, to build spiritual truths into your children? Make a realistic and attainable plan, then start today. I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with us. Then we can all learn from one another. What makes intentional parenting challenging for you? What have you found to work? How do you free up time in your crazy-busy week to train up your children and build lasting and meaningful memories? Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

 

How deep, how far reaching, is your hope? Before you give the appropriate Christian answer, pause and evaluate your life. Your words. Those thoughts that whisper to you throughout the day and keep you awake at night.ID-100249429

Surrender. Releasing our life to a bigger plan, whether we can see the details or not. Looking past our momentary frustrations, pain and struggles to see God’s eternal plan.

Because, “if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NLT).

If this is all there is, God help us!

To pose the question asked by my pastor, Lance Burch from Reality Church, last Sunday: “What if our lives are bigger than we know?”

This was certainly the case for both Ruth and Boaz. When I read their story, being the romantic that I am, I zero in on their unfolding love. Boaz is Ruth’s provider and Ruth the sweet, loyal, nurturing wife and mother. *sigh* Such a tender example of true and holy love.

And yet, there’s an even bigger story unfolding in the pages of Ruth, a greater romance that calls out to all mankind, for Jesus is our Boaz, our kinsman redeemer, our deepest and truest love.

Pause to read Ruth 4:13-22 and Matthew 1:6-16.

The real story hidden within this beautiful romance is the wooing of Creator God as He laid the groundwork for His redemptive plan, which ultimately led to the greatest sacrifice mankind has ever known.

Ruth’s life was bigger than she realized; bigger, I believe, than she could have imagined.

As is ours. But I think, often we get so caught up in the I of our story, we lose sight of the Author. It’s His story, and we are but supporting roles. Directed by Him, for His glory, to point others not to ourselves but rather, to Him.

It’s funny, this following of God’s plan. When I first began to write full time, I became obsessed with “the dream”. My prayers were dominated by self-centeredness. Lord, help me get published. Grant me new opportunities. Grant me favor with the contest judges reading my work.

Kinda ugly. In fact, not long into it, God made it clear, my writing had become my idol, and God wanted me to let it go. To lay everything, my whole self, on the alter, and thus, my prayers changed as I began to recite the words of Romans 12:1-2, which I personalized as follows:

“Lord, in view of all You’ve done, in view of Your mercy and grace and the death You endured on the cross, for me, I offer my whole body to You as a living sacrifice. May this be my act of worship. Help me not to conform to the ways of this word but instead, transform me by renewing my mind. Help me to know and live Your good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

That is a prayer God has consistently honored.

As I uttered those words, sometimes multiple times throughout the day, asking God to give me the desire and strength to live them, a funny thing happened. Doors of opportunity began to open and publishers began to ask to see my work.

How exciting, right? What I prayed for years ago was finally beginning to happen! You’d think this would be cause for celebration, that I’d be ready to barge forward unhindered.

That wasn’t what happened. I’m not sure if I can explain the heaviness of what followed and the deep urgings that filled my heart, urgings I believe were birthed by Christ. As I turned yet again to God in prayer, I sensed so strongly and clearly that God was going to use me, and suddenly my inadequacies came into focus.

ID-10075996I knew I wasn’t ready. More than that, I knew I had a long way to go before I would be ready.

So once again my prayers changed. I began praying that God would humble me, remove my selfishness, grant me increased self-control, fill my mind and heart with His truth until everything else was pushed aside.

And once again, He honored that prayer… in a much different way than I’d ever anticipated.

I asked for humility. God gave me two humbling (and at times, very humiliating) chronic illnesses. I asked God to teach me truth. He granted me trial after trial that brought me to my knees in deep, sobbing prayers. I asked Him to remove my selfishness and He showed me, through the faithfulness of a terminally ill friend, what it meant to live for Christ.

In the course of three years, everything changed.

I changed.

My struggles centered my heart in Christ and His eternal plan, and it’s my pain and loss that have allowed me to love others in a deeper way than I ever could have, had I not first been broken.

“What if our lives are part of something bigger than we know” ~ Lance Burch, Reality Church

Don’t be the center of your story. Surrender everything to be part of something immensely, miraculously, mercifully eternal.

Let’s talk about this. I know today’s post is insanely long, but today’s lesson is the most important, I believe. We started this study talking about surrender, and that is how we’ll end it.

If we could but catch a glimpse of eternity, how our lives would change! Everything looks different in light of the cross.

Pause to prayerfully listen to this song.

Are you repellant or attractive? Pause to think of that for a moment. Consider your interactions with others. Are people drawn to you or do they try to avoid you? How do they feel after having spent time with you? This is an area I feel God has been challenging me in lately. Daily, He’s challenging me to take my eyes off myself, off my agenda and challenges, and look around. Because it’s hard to love others when I’m consumed with me.

Today my sweet friend Julie Arduini, author of Entrusted, shares her thoughts on lighting up our world.

melodylodgekoct132_editedThe Attractive Light by Julie Arduini

We moved into what we’re believing is our “forever home” a couple months ago. It’s a place where we can have ministry events, entertain, encourage, and I even have an office to write. What’s also new for us is it’s in a development. Even after daily errands we’re still like tourists gawking at the homes and finding new things to enjoy each day.

Earlier this week I noticed something. One home has a gorgeous light in their foyer that when turned on is something you can see as you drive by. The home was designed to showcase that light and it’s attractive. I’m drawn to it every time I drive by. When turned off, it looks like every other house. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was “that house” until I looked closer and realized the fixture was there.

Isn’t that the same for us as believers in Christ? For the most part, we’re an easy group to find. You can see the joy in faces. Kind eyes. Smiles that allow others to put down their guard and share. Trust. And hopefully accept the invitation to a relationship with the One who invites through His love.

The world? It’s a place that isn’t eternally attractive. There isn’t much warm and inviting about it, and people are driven to fill a gap with superficial things that will be as productive as a hamster wheel. When I’m at events that aren’t ministry related or church-affiliated, it feels dark. Honestly, I wish a lot of the times I could pass by and avoid it all.

But we’re called to be like Him. To be that light. And as I drove by the house later that day the light was back on. For me it was a reminder. This has been a stressful year and I’ve been tempted more than once to check out. Ignore the need I saw. Keep a grudge when I was ID-100179171wronged. But that’s a mentality much like the beautiful house with the light turned off.

It’s a dark world filled with people craving light. Let’s re affirm our commitment to be the vessels He will use to bring light.

***

Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows—literally—into Speculator Falls with a busted GPS, arriving in town as the new senior center director. She has only one goal—that of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publically rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.

Buy it here.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Pause to think of people you know. Do any of them draw you to them? Make you feel special? Valued? Loved? Why is that?m Now pause to ask yourself this question: How do people feel around me? Am I acting like a light? What can I do to shine more brightly? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before I go, I wanted to invite my Omaha Metro friends to my next book sighing, which will be held this Saturday. Come, bring a friend, and your sweet tooth because there will be chocolate! (And candy corn flavored taffy, my new favorite candy! :) )Jennifer Slattery Poster_Community (1)-page-001 And be sure to pop by Beth’s blog tomorrow for our next Beyond I Do Bible study lesson. :)

Other posts you might enjoy:

Shining in the Dark

Are You Cancerous or Contagious

 

 

 

 

Did my blog title cause your hackles to rise? With today’s appearance/performance centered culture, most of us must fight daily to bring everything back to surrendered obedience. Blog posts and Youtube videos abound countering our culture’s shallow and exhausting trend, and with good ID-100184427reason. So rest assured, I’m not going to tell you to jump back on that people-pleasing treadmill. To the contrary. I’m going to encourage you to center your whole heart, every thought and desire, in Christ.

Because if you do, your actions will follow, and people will notice.

Two, maybe three years ago, a dear friend approached me with a story idea. At first I told her “Absolutely not!”, because I felt completely ill-equipped to write it. But then one morning, I awoke with the story unfolding in my brain. Having walked with Christ on this writing journey for a while, I determined God had birthed the story within me. Therefore, He wanted me to write it. So, I called my friend, making sure she understood all this would entail.

I’d need help. A lot of help. You see, this novel would require a great deal of medical knowledge, which I lacked. It’s very difficult to plot something you don’t understand.

And so began our journey. Over the course of a year, Ami Koelliker and I met over lunch, coffee, at her house, talked by phone, and swapped documents as we ID-10023724eeked out the story. And I mean eeeeeeeeeeked out. This was the most difficult story I’ve written to date. It was frustrating, exhausting, and often, downright discouraging. To make matters worse, I kinda doubted we’d ever even sell it. So in essence, we were spending all this time, giving ourselves headaches, on a project that we knew would likely end up in our computer’s trash bin.

There were many times I wanted to call it quits. Many times. I even considered writing Ami a check to compensate her for her time then being done with the whole thing.

But I didn’t. I stuck with it. (As did she.)

And here’s why: I’d made a commitment, and I intended to honor it, regardless of the cost or the outcome.

Flash forward two years, and I receive an email from my editor. New Hope wanted to contract this novel. (Yes, I signed, and the story is going through the various editorial stages now and has a scheduled release date of October 2015.) A story I’d seriously considered bailing on. I’m so very glad I didn’t.

It’s not that I am or was highly spiritual or possessed incredible inner grit. But this is an area God is growing in me. Because our word matters. Consider the following verse:

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord: Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends … and keep their promises even when it hurts” (Psalm 15:1-4 NLT)

Our actions reveal our heart. It’s one thing to say we’re transformed by grace; it’s another to reveal this with how we live our lives. For as Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right” (NLT).

Christian character is a big deal. It adds credibility to our witness and forms a foundation of trust that lets others know we’re honest, reliable, and forthright. Conversely, lack of character is a big deal. It destroys our witness, hinders deep relationships, and ultimately leads to ever-increasing self-deception. And living in self-deception is a dangerous place to be.

As I read through Ruth, from the first chapter to the last, I was instantly struck with how honorable both Ruth and Boaz were. They worked hard, honored their commitments, were loyal to their loved ones. And everyone knew this.

In Ruth chapter 2, Boaz says to Ruth, “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers” (NLT).

Then, in chapter three, we begin to see Boaz’s character. He says, “Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman” (3:11 NLT).

How does Naomi respond when she learns of Boaz’s statement? She says to Ruth in verse 18, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today” (3:18).

In other words, she knew Boaz would take care of it, and that he would take care of it immediately. 

Their previous actions had revealed their character. Ours do as well. 

Let’s talk about this. If you haven’t had a chance to, read Ruth chapter 3 here. I know you likely read the first part of this chapter Friday but I encourage you to read it again. Actually, I encourage you to read chapters 2 and 3 again. You can do that here.

What stood out to you as read Ruth chapter 3?

What character traits impress you most in Ruth? What about in Boaz?

What areas might God long to help you grow in, in regard to your character?

How well do you honor your commitments? If you struggle in this area, what will you do differently, having studied this portion of Ruth?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below, on Facebook, or via our email loop. And make sure to visit Beth’s blog Friday for our next lesson.

Other posts and resources you might find helpful:

In Absence of Integrity

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

And as a teaser… for those curious about this book Ami helped me write, here’s what it’s about:

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

 

 

 

Are You Teachable?

“I’ll do it myself!” the two-year-old cries, stomping his pudgy food with fisted hands. ID-100284325

“I know what I’m doing,” says the stressed-out teenager who’s convinced they have a strong grasp on reality–and that we, the adults in their world, don’t.

“That editor just doesn’t get me!” says the writer who’s convinced their book is the next big seller, even though others have alerted them to major plot holes.

And so, they dig in their heels and continue on their way… further and further from the finish line.

ID-100260522Early in my writing career, my skin was thinner than a pears and as easily bruised. But before long I learned, if I truly wanted to grow, I’d need to allow God to develop within me a teachable spirit. This realization has helped me in every area of my life.

Are you doing the same? Today my sweet friend and fellow ICD writer shares her thoughts on teachability.

Are You Teachable by Susan AkenSusan'sheadshot

     (Read Ruth 3:1-6)

How do you react when someone gives you advice that is scary? We don’t know all of Ruth’s motivations and reasons for choosing to go with Naomi but we do know she was determined to stay with her and was deeply attached to her. Ruth had great respect for Naomi. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth devoted herself to taking care of Naomi and providing for her. She always listened to Naomi and followed her advice. In chapter 3, verses 1-6, Naomi asks her to get all dolled up and go to the threshing floor where Boaz is sleeping. She tells her to uncover his feet and lay down there. Verse 6 tells us that Ruth “did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.”

She took a great risk here. She risked being rejected and embarrassed. She couldn’t know without doubt how Boaz would react. I think Naomi was sure of his reaction but there was no guarantee. Naomi asked Ruth to take this risk because she knew that Boaz (as next of kin) was her best hope for a future and she knew that he had taken an interest in Ruth since he told her to only glean in his field and instructed his workers to leave extra grain. When Naomi told Ruth to lie at his feet and then ask him to spread his garment over her, this was a custom of the time to let him know she was interested in marriage. You can read more about this HERE:

Ruth allowed Naomi to guide her and trusted her advice.

BeyondIDocover In Beyond I Do, Ainsley also has a mentor who gives her advice. Her friend, Deborah, who led her to Christ is also her coach and friend. Deborah encourages Ainsley to stay open to her mom and to forgive her even though she would prefer to just shut her out of her life. Deborah asks her to take a risk by opening her heart to her mom. Her mom has hurt her so many times over the years and she is afraid of being hurt again. But Deborah keeps gently prodding Ainsley to reach out. She remains open and teachable with her mentor. In one beautiful scene, when Ainsley realizes that she is not sure what is next in her life, Deborah asks her, “If you could do anything, knowing God would stand behind you 100 percent, what would that be?” When Deborah asks that question, Ainsley knows immediately what her answer is. She has known it in her heart but Deborah helps her voice that desire. She helps Ainsley find her ministry to hurting families.

If we want to grow as Christians, we must remain open and teachable. When we think we know it all or that we don’t need advice, we’re headed for a fall. When someone speaks into our lives what feels like criticism or makes a suggestion that would take us out of our comfort zone, God uses it to help us to grow and become more mature. I am experiencing that in my life. My good friend, Jennifer, has become a writing mentor (though I am older than her) and she has recently given me some challenges as a writer that would take me out of my comfort zone. She is also helping me realize that I need to be open to advice and constructive criticism in order to grow as a writer. We need each other!

Some questions to discuss, pray over, and ponder:

First, if you haven’t already done so, read Ruth 3:1-6

  1. How do you react when someone offers advice that scares you?
  1. Are you cultivating a relationship with a mentor? (I don’t think it has to be someone older than you, just someone you can learn from) Is there someone you could mentor?
  1. Would you be willing to share about a mentor relationship and what you learned either when you were mentored or when you mentored someone else?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below, join the discussion in our email loop, or at our Facebook Group page Beyond I Do Bible Study Group. 

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Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings. Find out more about her writing or pick up one of her devotionals here.

Is your love for the convenient and comfortable keeping you from the extraordinary?

melodylodgekoct132_editedToday a sweet friend and talented author of Entrusted, Julie Arduini, challenges us to evaluate our life, opening ourselves up to God’s nudging, even if that nudging terrifies us or leads us well out of our comfort zones.

Moving Beyond the Comfortable by Julie Arduini

As Ruth worked the fields under the harsh sun and I suspect the wandering eyes of the fellow laborers, she wasn’t comfortable. The hours were long. It was dry and hot. Had I been out in those fields I confess it would take all of five minutes before the muttering would start. I would have imagined my life had I gone back home. Surely it would have been more…comfortable. I’d be angry thinking how Naomi would be home, not as hot and dirty, and although grieving, she’d still be what I was not.

Comfortable.

Ruth in the fields symbolized her faith walk. It was outside the comfort zone. She could have returned home. She stayed with Naomi. She could have refused to work the fields, but she didn’t. She could have kept the fruits of her labors for herself but she went home and gave the grain to Naomi.

I’ve never had to work a field but I have been challenged to step outside the comfort zone. With writing I remember the day God whispered it was time to say goodbye to writing the newsletter for the local Mothers of Preschoolers group. There wasn’t a bad thing in what I was doing, but God was calling me to do more. I had no idea what that more looked like, and walking in obedience was definitely a leaving the comfort zone experience.

I’ve left the comforts of a life I thought I would spend the rest of my days. We were an Upstate NY family, it was all I knew. When the financial fallout of 9/11 hit our area my husband’s job changed. An opportunity came in the exact time frame his job was ending but it was nearly 300 miles away. It meant leaving everything and everyone in a season where our baby was very ill and my dad passed away. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

BeyondIDocoverIn Beyond I Do, Ainsley’s life is a fairly predictable package. Things are planned out. Her life, her future is…comfortable. How tempting it is to ignore His call and bulldoze forward on our own strength and hopes. Ainsley’s choice is what Ruth had to face. What I had to surrender was the comfort zone.

It isn’t easy but Ruth’s story offers a great look at God’s heart. When Ruth obeys and surrenders the comfort zone she has a protector and provider named Boaz. He makes sure she receives food, drink, the most fruitful land, and stalks that had already been pulled out for her.

The very first day we moved to Ohio our daughter, severely delayed at the time because of her sickness, pulled herself to stand. Our son blossomed in his new school. My husband thrived and had dreams fulfilled at church.

Ainsley received a happy ending.

Leaving the comfort zone isn’t easy. It’s a choice nearly every minute to fight resentment and grumbling. But eternal rewards are there and as Ruth 2:1-17 show, favor is abundant.

That’s the zone I want. How about you?

Could you relate to Ruth and her obedience to leave a comfort zone by working the fields?

Do you tend to resent people who don’t seem called to leave the comfort zone?

Have you ever been in Ainsley’s position with a future mapped out but God was calling you in a different direction?

Describe a time when you felt God’s favor and protection.

What do you sense God is asking you to do with what you’re reading in Ruth 2?

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Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. I often tell our daughter, I’d much rather receive God’s blessings than consequences. What I mean is, I’d rather be walking in His will then venturing away from it. There’ve been many times when following God’s will has been difficult, uncomfortable, and frightening. Moving to Papillion was one! (You can read about that here.) But in every trial and triumph I’ve learned God is good, loving, and faithful. He truly does have our best in mind.

Share your thoughts in response to Julie’s questions here, via our study email, or at our Beyond I Do Bible Study Facebook group. If you’re not a part of our email loop or Facebook group and would like to be, simply shoot me an email and I’ll get you added. :)

WhenDawnBreakspreliminaryBefore I go, I wanted to share some exciting events in my world. I recently learned my novel, When Dawn Breaks, is available for pre-order at 25% off! You can get it here.

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution forces her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 23 page excerpt here.

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