Friday, September 19, 2014

Leanna's fav's #11: Trophies of Healing, part 2

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, (Luke 8:1, 2 NASB

In the previous post, we learned that Jesus was accompanied by "some women who had been healed".  They served as a kind of "trophy of grace", as they were living, breathing proof of His power over sin, sickness, and evil. 

The first woman mentioned is Mary Magdalene, Magdalene being used to indicate her hometown. This was the Mary  from Magdala, and not the Mary from Bethany. She is described as having seven demons that had "gone out" from her. They had, indeed, gone out, but not willingly. They had "gone out" at the command of Jesus. 

The number seven is an important number in the numerology of Scripture, and is used to indicate perfection or completion. The presence of seven demons implies that she was completely evil, as we can well imagine with seven demons residing inside her. She was likely completely controlled by those demons. She was completely controlled by demons, that is, until she met Jesus. He cast them out and set her free. As we would expect, that freedom was such a relief that she never wanted those demons back again, and she did the only thing that could assure her freedom. She left her evil lifestyle, and kept close to Jesus. 

There are three very important lessons to learn from Mary Magdalene's presence in the group. First, once Jesus cleanses us, our sin no longer belongs to us. He has removed it as far as the East is from the West. She was no longer "Mary the devil woman" but Mary from Magdala. It's important to remember that we, and those we love, become new creatures in Christ. We must be willing to loosen our hold on what Christ has removed, and embrace the new person, the cleansed person He is creating. 

Second, Mary's presence was a testimony to the power of God, not the power of the demons. They were her past. It was her new life that was compelling, and it focused totally on how powerful God was, not on how bad she had been. A recitation of her sins is not included, because what she had done was not the important point. It was what Christ had done that mattered. 

The third point should bring great hope to those who have loved ones mired in sin. Not even one who is completely controlled by evil is beyond the redemptive power of God. All have sinned; all are in need of a Savior; none can be saved except by the blood of Jesus, even one who is completely evil. 

Do you know someone who is filled with and controlled by evil?  Do not give up hope for them. Remember that Mary Magdalene was controlled by evil until an encounter with Christ set her free, and He can do the same for those we know and love, as well. 

Are you struggling with the power of sin in your life? That power can be broken, but only by the work of redemption accomplished by Christ. Invite Jesus to set your free, then stay close to Him so you can stay free. 

Mary Magdalene became a trophy of grace, and we, by the power of God, can be trophies of grace as well. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Leanna's fav's #9: Go in Peace

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.

And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:50 NASB)

At last we come to the final words of this beautiful passage. "Go in peace," Jesus said to the woman. She was well known as a sinner, and scorned by the religious community.  Not welcome in polite company, she found her way to Jesus's feet only by barging in where she was not wanted, and stayed there only by the divine intervention of Christ.  Peace?  It had likely been many years since she had known peace. 

At the feet of Jesus, weeping a river of tears and using her hair as a holy towel, something incredible happened. She let go. She let go of her desire to sin, she let go of that mountain of sin and guilt she had accumulated, she let go of her shame. Giving it all to Jesus, she left it with Him. In that place where all the hurt, guilt, and shame had been was an infilling of faith, hope, and love.  It was more than enough, but Jesus had yet another gift for her. Peace. 

Peace. Isn't that a lovely word?  Webster's Dictionary defines peace as a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from hostilities, civil disturbances, or emotional unrest. For this woman, it meant freedom from the war between good and evil, sin and holiness that had waged in her for years. The word translated here as peace is eirēnē. This is the same word the angels used when they sang before the shepherds the night Jesus was born. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men." 

Sometimes used to mean "undisturbed", as well as harmony between men and nations, it can also mean the peace that only God can give. In this instance, I believe it is used with all the richness of intent possible. What Jesus offered this woman was the freedom from disturbance from her past and those who would remind her of it, as well as a freedom from fear for the future. He offered her the quiet assurance of peace with God, and the understanding that He would be with her, whatever her earthly circumstances. 

The richness of this peace can only come through repentance and the forgiveness it brings. Do you or your loved ones long for peace? You can have the same peace the woman with the alabaster vial found at the feet of Jesus. You cannot, however, keep the burden of sin and guilt you have been carrying.  It must be left at the feet of Jesus in exchange for the freedom and peace only He can give. 

If you have had enough of your burdens, leave them with Jesus and accept all the healing He longs to offer. Accept his faith, hope, and love, as well as that precious "extra".  Go in peace. 

Go in peace. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Leanna's fav's #8: Maggie's Turn: Man's Best Friend Speaks Out

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

This was my first ever "character with a voice".

My birthday is on Monday, and I will be four years old. Well, I might be five years old. I don't know, but that's ok. Wonder Dogs don't care about those silly age numbers anyway. Since I know so many tricks and some people think I am very smart, Dr. Walter Downs suggested my name as a guest blogger. I'm not saying how smart I am, but I CAN dance like a ballerina AND sneak like a spy. Thank you, Mr. Walter!!

Of course, I've never written a blog before, my time being occupied with Wonder Dog business, but I don't mind sharing some of my little wisdom that makes my life so wonderful. Well, I'm only going to give you two little pieces of my wisdom. I have a lot, but if I give it all out now, you know what would happen. That's right. No more guest blogger. I'm holding something back.

First of all, you need to know WHO YOU ARE and why you were created. I'm Maggie the Wonder Dog, and my job is, of course, to be a wonder, doing many things that no one would expect me to do. Like herding cows. Shih-Tzu's like me don't usually herd cows. 

This "what I was created-to-be" business works like this. Since my "breed" is Shih Tzu, there are some characteristics of Shih Tzu's that you should expect to see in me. Dogs like me are loyal, friendly, loving, and alert. We make good watch dogs because we are so alert, even though we are little. That is why I bark so much. I'm on the alertness job ALL the time. I never, ever take a day off. If I don't watch out, who will?  There is no sense in fussing about me barking. I'm born to sound the alarm. 

I'm sounding the alarm because I have to take care of my humans. That's part of being loyal. Now, if I am going to be loyal, I need to be loyal to the right person, so it's important to know WHOSE I am, too. I belong to my mama, and she is a wonder like me. She has so many animals for me to watch, it's like being a guard at a zoo!! 

Sometimes...  Oh I don't know if she wants me to tell this. Well, I'm going to anyway. Sometimes, my mama lets the cows out and they get busy eating grass and won't do what she says. She can get pretty frazzled about that, and one time she cried! I did not like that! Those cows were not nice to my mama. From then on, it's been my job to be sure those cows are sweet to her. When she says round up, they better do it or they will be dealing with me! That's part of being loyal, and I'm good at it. Are you good at being loyal?

I know a lot about being a Wonder Dog, but I don't know that much about being a human, so I asked my mama about her breed. She says her breed is Christian, and she tries to act the way she's supposed to, being a Christian and all. She says Christians are supposed to be loving, gentle, peaceful, patient, kind, good, loyal, and self-controlled. 

Hey, that seems like a bunch to remember, but those Christians sound a lot like Shih Tzu's!  It looks to me, though, like Shih Tzu's might be better at being Shih Tzu's than Christians are at being Christians! (Except my mama! She's terrific!) 

When I asked mama who she belongs to, she said, "Jesus, of course." She says she is loyal to Jesus because He's been so sweet to her. "Does He fill your treat puzzle every morning?" I asked. That's what mama does for me. She laughed. "No, silly. I don't have a treat puzzle! He just fills my day with joy and peace!"  She really likes joy and peace. Me... I like treat puzzles. But I like it when my mama has joy and peace, too. 

I know many other things I can tell you about later, but that's about enough for today. I've noticed it takes humans longer to learn their tricks and their obedience than it does Wonder Dogs. I better sum it all up. You need to figure out what your breed is and what you are meant to be like, and then you need to be that way! You need to decide who you belong to and then you need to be loyal to them.

Wonder Dogs like short commands. Maybe humans do, too. Here's the one for today:


The end. From Maggie the Wonder Dog. 

Leanna's fav's #7: Approaching from Behind

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. (Luke 7:37, 38 NASB)

At this time, Jesus was "reclining at the table". This was not the table and chairs to which we are accustomed. It was a low table around which pillows were piled (rather than chairs) on which the guests sat. If you understand the position of the guests, you can better understand the woman's action. Jesus was seated, leaning to one side, with His feet behind Him. 

This woman knew Jesus was in the house and came prepared to offer a gift of love to Him. She quietly approached and, by the time she arrived just behind Jesus, tears were streaming down her face. She was overcome with her love for her Savior and her gratitude for the forgiveness of her sins, as well as conviction/grief over her sin. We might have tapped Him on the shoulder to let Him know we were there, but she just knelt behind Jesus, with tears dripping onto those precious feet.  

She had come with a lovely gift, but she did not even try to catch His eye or look Jesus in the face. She was not trying to earn points with Him, she was simply there to honor Him. 

It's one thing to do public acts of love for Jesus in a way that brings recognition to ourselves. It's another thing entirely to honor Jesus "from behind, at his feet". How often do we offer silent, loving acts of service "from behind"? How often are our actions motivated only by extravagant love and immense gratitude?

Today, pray that we and our loved ones would be filled with "behind" love that seeks no recognition but only strives to honor Him. 
The link for last might's post is here:

Leanna's fav's #6: Unexpectedly Grateful: Becoming a Writer

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

This is the story of my "writing roots"; it's how I became a writer.

The first meeting of the new Blue Springs Garden Club was tonight. My entire day had been crazy from beginning to end, so, of course, I was late arriving. The speaker had already started and I was trying desperately, but failing miserably, to make an unobtrusive entrance. As I slipped into the room where we were meeting, something on one of the end tables caught my eye. It was a copy of "The Clay Papers", my first book. I smiled and hurried to my seat. "What a kindness to not just remember that book but to display it!" I thought. It felt like a secret blessing from one friend to another. I was thrilled. Remembering all that book meant to me was completely distracting. I'm afraid I missed quite a bit of what the speaker said as I thought about the stories in that book and how I became a writer.

In the mid 90's the internet was still young. People were just beginning to have computers in their homes. It was already clear that much evil would come from this new technology and it seemed like a good idea to reclaim the technology for the Kingdom. I offered a brand new kind of service. It was an email prayer ministry for our church. People signed up and I began by sending out a verse and a little prayer starter. Before I knew it, the sentence was two, and soon became a paragraph. As you can imagine, one paragraph became two and things grew from there. 

Everything changed when I started taking pottery lessons a few years later. I was so moved by the lessons that I would think about them all the way home. As I drove, the lessons began to take shape as little stories. I would type the stories and send them as an "email extra". Pretty soon, I had an entire series. People began to make comments like, "You should put these in a book." That seemed like something that only very super-special people did, but not something that someone as common as me would ever do. 

When the pottery classes ended, I continues to write little stories about my everyday life. Before I knew it, there was a pretty big stack and I couldn't decide what to do with them all, so I started a notebook. You can guess what happened. Of course, I filled that one and started another notebook of little stories.  

Looking back, it makes me laugh. I was going to a Physician Resource Council meeting and, for some crazy reason, I stuffed a manila envelope with stories and slipped it into my suitcase. I wagged that envelope all through the meetings for several days.  In one of those crazy God-orchestrations, Susan Stevens, the editor of Physician magazine came to speak to us and was having lunch with us that last day. I was strongly impressed to give them to her, but thought I would probably die if I did. Finally, I summoned every bit of grit I had and just said I had brought some little stories and wondered if she would take a look. She was so gracious that she made my clumsy approach seem like the most reasonable action I could have taken. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was to leave that envelope in her hands. It felt like I had cut my heart out and handed it over. Those stories were "me" and I was terrified of what she would say. 

The good news was that she could not critique them until she had read them, so there was no way I would have to face her after she'd gone through the packet. A week or so after I returned home, a letter came that looked very suspicious. I had a feeling it was "the letter". You know, the letter I'd been dreading and longing to receive. It was, indeed, the letter from Susan Stevens. I had to read it over and over to be sure. She said she had loved my stories and she had picked out two years' worth of stories for the magazine. She planned to use one each issue. Two years. I was shocked and thrilled and crying and laughing and astounded. In her letter, she called me a "wonderful writer"! I couldn't even say the words, "I am a writer."  That seemed too mysterious and wonderful to imagine, but a real editor had really said I was a writer, so maybe I really was.   

As you can tell, it turned out that I really was a writer. I wrote for Physician magazine until budget cuts cancelled it. I've written for other magazines, and newspapers, written multiple Bible studies, and finally wrote that book about the pottery lessons. These days, I'm astounded by the frequency and the sheer volume of writing I'm doing. 

What sweet memories that little book on the side table brought back! The thing I'm grateful for today is not just that I've become a writer. I'm thankful for the journey that brought me to this place, all the people who gave me a chance , all the encouraging words along the way, and those precious people who have not only read the words I've written but seen them as valuable. Thank you. 

Leanna's fav's #4: Maggie's Big Adventure

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week. 

This was such a dramatic event that the story is still precious to me, years later.

Thursday is Maggie's big day.  It's PLAY DAY!  Maggie goes to day camp at the vet's office, and she loves it!  Today, when I dropped her off, the assistant had a little fumble with her collar.  "Oh, don't let Maggie get loose!" the secretary said.  We all had a good laugh, remembering her big adventure. (It wasn't at all funny at the time, though.)

It happened like this...

When my son was in high school, headed to Georgia Tech, I began to worry about how I would manage with the upcoming empty nest.  I did what any sensible middle-aged mama would do.  I went back to work, ran for alderman, and bought a high-maintenance dog.  Maggie is an 11-pound Shih Tzu who thinks she is queen and that everyone should pay homage to her.  She can dance like a ballerina, walk on her hind feet like a lady, sit, shake, high five, stay (sorta), and roll over.  I think she can count to three, but maybe not.  She can also herd cows.  (We happened on that by accident, but it's a story for another time.)

In a stroke of a true silliness, my office manager at the time (who owns Maggie's full sister) and I decided they should have Sister Spa Day.  Maggie and her sister would go to the vet for grooming together.  What fun they would have! Or so we thought.  The first trip went fairly well, but not too long after we started this, the two girls went with Aunt Judy to the vet.  Unfortunately, Aunt Judy opened the van door and Maggie saw her chance.  Did I mention Maggie LOVES to run fast?  Maggie jumped out and started running.  She ran across the street and into a field, where she ran and ran.  Suddenly, she spied another field with trees across yet another street.  This particular street, however, was one of the busiest streets in town and it was the busiest time of day.

That second field was exactly where Maggie wanted to be, so she headed out at top speed, dragging her leash behind her, with Miss Judy and the vet's office employees chasing along, desperate to catch up.  Maggie, who has no idea about cars, darted in front of a car, racing across the street.  The first car slammed on the brakes, stopping exactly on the loose leash.  Maggie gave a giant tug, broke free, and kept going.  She was not letting anything keep her from the next field of fun!  As she scooted across the second lane, oncoming traffic screeched to a halt.  Yep.  You guessed it.  Three car pile-up and Maggie just made it past.  She was still running.  (If you were in one of those cars, please don't tell me.  I'm just glad you were safe and thank you for not hitting my wayward dog!)

Unbelievably, Maggie made it to the second field, where she raced around and into the tree line.  Not another sign of Maggie.  By that time, I had left work to search for my dog.  Before long, patients and their families were out helping me look.  Not a sign of the little scamp.  I looked for her until I finally had to get back to the office, then searched again after work until dark.  I was not at all comforted by the people who stopped by and told me the coyotes would eat her during the night.

It was pretty awful to go home to my empty nest without my Maggie. My mama (who lived with me) was as pitiful as I was.  We were both trying hard not to cry, and doing a poor job of it.  Later that evening, I began to pray for Maggie.  She'd never spent a night outside before.  She'd never been alone before.  I couldn't imagine how scared and lonely she must have been.  Not to mention how I was feeling.  "Lord," I prayed, "Please tell someone how to find Maggie and help them to find her."

The next morning, a friend called to say he and his wife were bringing me a dog.  My first thought was, "Good grief! I only lost my dog yesterday.  I'm not ready for another dog!"  There was something so cheerful about his greeting that I paused and asked, "Which dog?" What sweet words followed!  "Your dog," he said.  "I'm bringing you YOUR dog!"  I could hardly believe my ears!

That morning, he had awakened and had known how to find her.  A former pilot, he used aerial photos to examine the area and found a little shed in the woods.  He and his wife drove there, and she walked down the path, straight to the little shed.  You guessed it! Maggie had spent the night (maybe the entire time) on a mattress on the floor of the shed.  She was waiting to come home! She was stinky from the mattress, but didn't even have leaf litter in her fur.  She was unharmed and she was safe.

To this very day, when I look at my big friend, I always think, "the seeker and saver of dogs."  I will never get over how my prayers were answered when the exact way to find my dog was exactly what he decided to do and exactly how he found her.  He's my hero and the answer to my prayers.  I often wonder if he realized that his plan was divinely inspired.

You know, a lot of energy was expended seeking and saving my lost dog, but there are countless people who have also lost their way.  For one reason or another, their desire to be free and their need to run have taken them where they never expected to be.  There is One who came to seek and to save the lost, and those lost ones are a high priority for Him.  The good news is that there is a plan to find them, and we are the hands and feet to carry it out.

Perhaps you are the very one who will seek and bring to safety a lost soul.  How can that happen?  When you know what needs to be done, do it.  Just do it.  That's what my hero did.  He saw a need, recognized a solution, and did what it took to get the job done.  Returning a lost dog is a wonderful thing.  Returning a lost soul... now that is priceless.

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Leanna's Fav's # 14: Asking for 1000

This is the last one in my favorites series, and it leads us into "birthday week".  It's here because it's the story of how the blog was started and the confirmation of God to continue with a job of writing that is harder than you might think and has required more sacrifice than I expected.  It's a job that has been worth it all.

A little over a week ago, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, God wanted to do something new.  The thought of a blog had occurred to me several times, but, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't exactly sure what this blog business was all about.  I guess I'd read some blog posts, but I have never followed a blog or had any idea how one gets started.  In all things computer, I usually just rely on my sweet son Ryan (now a senior computer science student at Georgia Tech.  Yea Ryan!)

Last Monday night, I sat down at my computer and prayed the simplest prayer. "Lord, if you want me to do this blog thing, You will have to show me every step."  Instantly, I thought, "Google it." That's how God talks to me sometimes.  I ask for help.  He says Google it.  We have such a sweet relationship.  Of course, I Google'd how to set up a blog.  One of the very first sites on the list was a blog about how to set up a blog.  That made me laugh so much that I just clicked right on it, did exactly what it said, and in about thirty minutes, I had a blog set up.

Can I tell you how SHOCKED I was?!! I wasn't even sure what a blog was and I had just started one!  I thought maybe I had just lost my mind, because as soon as I started this wild project, I immediately knew I would be writing twice a day.  One minute I didn't know what a blog was and the next I'm blogging or whatever it is called twice a day?  Craziness!!

I posted this good news on Facebook the next morning, then went to work.  People seemed a little stunned when I gave them the news.  They were all WHAT??? I think most people were about as lost as I was about it.

I could see this was an odd kind of craziness I had begun, and really needed to be sure I was called to this.  Writing twice a day is HARD! When I need to know if I'm on the right path, I just ask for confirmation.  This time, I felt like I needed something really clear, so I asked God to show me for sure.  "If this is right, let me have 100 views the first day and 1000 the first week."  Really, I had no idea how ludicrous that was for a first time blog.  Now I know that it takes months to build up readers.  But who knew?  Not me.  I just asked for what I asked and waited.  I must have checked the stats about a thousand times that first day.  By 8:00 the next morning, I had 170 views!  170!!!! Unbelievable!  I felt like God had given me exceedingly, abundantly above all that I had asked.  Confirmation!  It felt really good and empowered me to press on.

The big test came Saturday.  I loved the view count.  I was constantly checking the view count.  A big part of the excitement was just astonishment that people were reading what I had written. I was amazed. In a flash, though, I had a confrontation with the Lord about the importance of ONE.  If even one life was touched or changed, that had to matter, too.  If I didn't care about the individual, my excitement about the crowd didn't matter.  I was totally convicted.  "That's it," I thought.  "I am not checking stats or view counts one more time until Tuesday morning.  God can do whatever He wants and I will just find out on Tuesday."  It was, truthfully, an act of submission and utter abandonment to the will of God.

The stat checking had already become a habit, so I had to discipline myself not to check that first day, but by Sunday I was peaceful with it.  This morning, however, I was eager to look.  I waited until 7:38, very nearly a full week since the blog went live.  Stopped at a stoplight, I checked as I waited.  There were 1000 views.  Not 1001 and not 999.  Exactly what I had asked God to do.  I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but my first thought was, "I should've asked for more." At the same moment, I was laughing out loud at how funny God can be.  He had given me such a huge number the first day, but exactly what I asked for the first week.  Both came straight from the hand of God.  Both were confirmation.

Here's the funniest part of all.  I'm not sure I'd have had the same response if He had given me 2000 views, but that 1000 did something wonderful in me.  It showed me exactly Who is in charge, and it is not me.  1002 might have happened by chance, or 1013, but exactly 1000?  Not likely.  I have laughed all day over that 1000.

I had a number I had planned to request as a "sign" for the first month, but decided it would be about pride rather than confirmation, and who wants that?  My current request is that God give me as many viewers as He wants, but that He would use every story, every devotional, every post to touch at least ONE person for Him.  I'm pretty sure I can count on God to answer that prayer. 

I have no way of knowing where you are in your relationship with Christ, but  I can say with certainty that every promise in the Bible can be counted as a personal promise.  Our God is faithful and true.  He is able to do whatever is needed to accomplish His plan in your life.  All my numbers and view counts were silly, but God humored me.  He must have taken delight, though, in my submission to whatever He wants to do with the project He started in the first place.  He will take great delight in your submission, too.  Ask Him to accomplish His perfect will and watch to see what He does.  He will have you laughing in delight before He's through.  I'm living proof of that!

Leanna's Fav's # 12: Mamie Speaks Out

Now. In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

I chose this for multiple reasons.  It was the second "character with a voice" and it made me think I might be able to write fiction one day... when there's time.

My name is Mamie and I am ten weeks old.  I am really just a baby, but my new mama 'dopted me a few days ago, and she asked me to be an apprentice Wonder Puppy.  I was so e'cited about being an apprentice Wonder Puppy!  I don't know what any of those words mean, but it sounds good, doesn't it? Well, I do know about puppy, because I am a puppy.  I know all about that!

Being a puppy means you have some brothers and sisters, too.  You all play together and eat together and sleep in a jumbledy pile.  It's lots of fun being a puppy!  When I got 'dopted and came to my new house, it was really e'citing because there was another big, big puppy there.  My new mama said it was not really a puppy, it's a Wonder Dog! I don't know what Wonder Dogs usually do, but this one is not as nice as I thought she would be.  She won't play chase, and she won't eat with me, and she won't feed me either (because she looks like mother did, and I thought, well, maybe... but nope.  Nothing doing there!) She won't snuggle, either!  

It is very hard being an apprentice Wonder Puppy.  I kinda wish I hadn't taken this job.  My new mama told me that God had given me to her and her to me, and we are gonna be just fine.  It sure don't look like it though.  Oh sorry.  Mama said that was s'posed to be doesn't look like it.  Anyway, no fine here.

This is what my mama told me when I was sad.  She said that people have problems with other people who don't like them for no good reason.  Sometimes, people don't like other people because their skin or hair or clothes or thoughts are different!  Can you believe that?  How dumb is that?  They should take a lesson from puppies.  We don't care about any of that silly stuff!  We just care about eating, and sleeping, and playing, and snuggling!  She said when people are not nice to her, she is supposed to pray for them and bless them.  I asked, "Does that mean you would let them play with you anyway?" and she said, "Oh, yes."  I think my mama might be part puppy.  That's what we would do, too.  

Anyway, now I have a Wonder Dog who is not nice to me, and I'm gonna do what my mama said.  I'm gonna pray for her and ask Jesus to change her heart.  (It would be really nice if you would help me pray, too.  I'm new at this, and I can use all the help I can get!) I'm gonna bless her, too.  She can even have some of my puppy food if she wants it.  

Now, my mama told me that I should help you know what to do.  Apprentice Wonder Puppies need to learn how to help with lessons.  

We should be more concerned about eating, sleeping, playing and snuggling than we are about what color someone is or their clothes, or how different they think than us.  That stuff is just dumb.  I don't think Jesus cares about what color you are, anyway.  Look at how many different colors He made. Really, the kind of thinking and doing He cares about is the kind that is like Him.  He wants us to act like Him and think like Him.  If you aren't doing that, you should get started quick.

Here's the short lesson:
Be nice to everyone.  No matter what.
Pray for Wonder Dogs.  And all the mean people, too.
We need more snuggling and more playing.  (My mama said it's okay to say that since I'm just a puppy, but it's true!)

The end.  By Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy
And all those prayers were answered. The Wonder Girls are the best of friends, and the sweetest of snuggling buddies now. 

Leanna's fav's # 10: Terrorist Prayer List

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

This is precious to me because it was such radical obedience.  I was afraid, it was costly in terms of readers, and I'm still glad I started this series.

The morning of 9/11, a patient called to cancel their appointment. "America is under attack," they said.  We quickly set up a television and watched in horror as the Twin Towers began to crumble, our sense of security crumbling right along with it. As the death toll mounted and the news of the terrorist plot unfolded, an interesting thing happened. At the same time that there was a turn towards God, there was an intense anger towards our attackers and a desire for vengeance that was pervasive. 

Like many communities around the country, ours had a prayer service and my church was the host church. People were asked to lead prayer for government leaders, for the injured, the missing, the families of the victims, all those affected. When one of the organizers discussed the program with me, we talked about the importance of praying for our enemies. Someone would have to lead the community in praying for Ossama Ben Ladin and his band of terrorists. 

As it turned out, that someone was me. I don't know what that prayer did for anyone else, but it reminded me that we are not powerless. As disciples of Jesus, we are servants of the Most High God. We can approach Him in prayer with confidence about anything, including terrorists attacks and the terrorists that carry them out. 

Praying for the terrorists did something else. It humanized the terrorists and helped me to see them as sinners in need of mercy and grace, just like I am. As the years have passed, I've prayed for terrorists off and on when a particularly heinous situation occurred. 

Not long ago, my boss said something about praying for the terrorists, and I was surprised. "Aren't you praying for the terrorists?" he asked. "Well, yes. I pray for terrorists, but not every day."  Then, the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted, and I began to wake up saying, "Lord, have You released your girls yet?" Praying for the terrorist abductors has been a consistent part of praying for those girls.

Today, the subject of terrorists came up again several times. Three Israeli teenaged boys were on the way home for Shabbat when they were abducted by terrorists. Nothing good is likely to come of this, and once again, I find myself praying for terrorists. 

As I've considered the terrorist prayers, I've begun to wonder what would happen if the body of Christ began to pray consistently and regularly for specific terrorists. After 9/11, there were playing cards with the names and pictures of suspected terrorists. What if we had a "worst terrorists in the world" prayer list and prayed for them on a daily basis? Do you think God would move in some way? I do. Scripture tells us He will. If the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and it does, then we can pray for terrorists, confident that God will intervene in some way. He might even draw them to Jesus so that they become disciples and fishers of men. 

I will never be a soldier or carry a gun and hunt down terrorists. I will never be the one at the front of the line protecting our nation from harm. I can, however, be at the back of the line, on my knees, praying for God's protection and mercy. I can be the one who, through prayer, helps to bring the lost (including the world's terrorists) to Christ.  

As a matter of fact, you can also be the one doing battle in prayer. Who's with me in this? Will you step up and pray for the redemption of the most violent, deadly terrorists in the world?

Start now by praying for the terrorists who have abducted those Israeli boys. Can you make a difference in this? Yes, indeed, so start praying and don't stop. It's a big job but someone needs to do it, and it might as well be us! 

Leanna's fav's #2: Lesson of the Fig Tree

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  I had such a hard time picking the posts that had meant the most to me that I'm posting my favorite devotionals in the morning and the stories that mean the most to me in the evening.

This was the first-ever post for the new blog. It was exciting, frightening, and the "one" that started it all.
What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.” (Luke 3:9 MSG)

The fig tree at my home has been there for decades. When I first moved there, it bore a few figs, but gradually the yield was less and less. After a few years, there was essentially no yield at all. As the fig count waned, my frustration with the tree grew. Nothing I did helped it. Finally, I just cut it down, nearly to the ground. Imagine my surprise a few years later when Sam, my farm worker, said, "Hey, have you seen that tree you cut down? It's loaded with figs!"

I am not an expert on trees, but it seemed clear to me that all the non-productive parts of that tree needed to go. A severe pruning (to the ground) saved it.

It's easy for us to allow dead wood to accumulate in our lives, isn't it? It's not so much that it looks dead as that its non-productive. When I prune, I lop off the branches that look diseased, but also the ones that don't bear fruit. In our lives, it's not just the sin and hurt (diseased branches) that need to go. Those things in our lives that do not make us more like Jesus or demonstrate the love of Christ to a lost and dying world may need to go too.

Just about anything can be deadwood in our lives. I have a friend who says she didn't have time for Bible study until one day she realized how much time she spent reading the newspaper every morning. When she stopped beginning her day with the news and started it with the Good News through Bible study, she found she had plenty of time for God, and now has a life that bears much fruit for him.

Just about anything can end up being deadwood because it keeps us from doing what Christ intended. Internet browsing, Pinterest, Facebook, shopping can all be good things. They can also be time-stealers that keep us from something better.

What is the deadwood in your life? Take a serious look at your life today and at all the activities you include. Does it make you more like Jesus? Does it demonstrate Christ to a world that is perishing? If not, it's time for some pruning. Choose today to have a life that is "green and blossoming", then do whatever it takes to get there.

Pray today for pruning that yields a tremendous harvest, both in our lives and that of our loved ones.

(c) Leanna Hollis 2013

Leanna's favs #13: Waiting for Jesus, Stay or Go

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week. 

Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Child, arise!" (Luke 8:52-54 NASB)

At that moment when Jesus was thinning the crowd, Jairus and his wife could not know for sure what Jesus would do, nor how He would do it. The only thing they knew for sure was that He was likely to do something, and by their presence, they consented to His way. 

When He started talking about their dead daughter still being alive, they laughed along with everyone else. Just sleeping? No, they didn't believe that. On the other hand, Jesus was there and there was never any telling what He would do next. It was a crossroads of faith for Jairus and his wife. They could wait to see what Jesus would do, or join the other mourners. They stayed. 

That staying may not seem profound to us, but it was a very powerful statement of faith. We want to be in charge, make decisions, make things happen. As humans, we've been making decisions, and often bad ones, since the Garden of Eden. Jairus, however, made a wonderful and wise decision that day. When Jesus appeared to be speaking nonsense, when He made no sense at all, Jairus stood still and stayed to see what Jesus would do. In that staying, he was saying, "I believe He can. I believe Jesus will do something, and that something will be good."

At the intersection of utter hopelessness and the intervention of God, there should be a big red sign. Stop. Selah. Pause and consider. Hold right there until your next move is clear. Be still until you can clearly see which direction to go. 

When Jesus picked up that little girl's hand and started speaking, Jairus knew without a doubt he had made the right choice. When God's deliverance comes, the wisdom of staying is always clear. It is in those moments just before His intervention that we have the greatest risk and greatest likelihood of moving on our own, making a terrible decision, and missing the most exciting moment of our lives. 

Be still dear ones. Do not rush ahead. There is something to learn at that crossroads of faith, and it is something that will change your life and your faith forever. Can you trust Jesus?  Yes, you can. Can you wait for Him to move? Yes, you can. You can, that is, if you will, and if you wait for Jesus instead of taking matters into your own hands, you will find that it was the best decision of your life. 

Wait for Jesus. You will be so glad you did. 
Here's the link to last night's post:

Leanna's fav's #5: Yeast: Least in the Kingdom

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. (Luke 5:37 KJV)

Grapes are just grapes until they come into close contact with yeast. With just the right conditions, grapes can be transformed and preserved because of the interaction with a single-celled organism that is usually only 3-4 microns in diameter! For those who don't like metric, that 4 microns equals 0.00015748 inches. That's mighty small!

The super-tiny yeast can make a super-large effect that has an amazing result. Being LARGE is not necessary. In fact, Scripture tells us God is fond of using "the least". Bethlehem was the least town in Judah, yet it was the birthplace of our Savior. The least part of Peter's shadow healed the sick. The apostle Paul described himself as "the least of the apostles", yet he carried the gospel literally throughout his world. Jesus, when He allowed the children to come to Him, said, "...he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." (Luke 9:48 KJV)

It's true. The least likely instruments are often the most powerful and effective in the hands of the Master. The simplest, most humble person, in the hands of Christ, can be used to change the world. God takes delight in the unlikely - people like you and me.  

Do you feel tiny and insignificant? Good! God can use you mightily! Does it seem that you have nothing to use in the Kingdom? If God can take a single-called organism and transform a vat of grapes into vintage wine that will have a richer flavor as the years go by, He can use you to make a difference in your world! 

Today, pray that God will use us, as the least likely, to make a great difference in the world. Pray, too, that He will bring truth to our loved ones in the least likely of ways and using the least likely of messengers. Pray that unexpected truth will yield that much-anticipated redemption for which we yearn. 
Link to last night's fav:

Leanna's favs #3: Waiting that's Worth It

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

Seeing their faith, He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." (Luke 5:20 NASB)

Let's put ourselves in the place of these four men for a moment. They had watched the man on the stretcher from the time his paralysis began, hoping he would improve. They were clearly trying to help, so they had likely helped him throughout his illness. When they heard about Jesus, a little seed of hope had begun to grow. When they heard he would be teaching in Capernaum, hope emerged full grown. I don't suppose they were worried about his sins being forgiven. They had sacrifices for that. What they were hoping for was physical healing. 

Their hoping became action when they gathered up that stretcher-bed and carried him to Jesus. After the near-miss of the crowded doorway and the excitement of the rooftop entrance, their expectation must have been astronomical. They were looking to Jesus to see what He would do.  

Jesus did they last thing they were expecting. He forgave the man's sin, then got into a heated discussion with the Pharisees. They must have been thinking, "Wait a minute!! What about his paralysis? He still can't move!"  Just for a moment, they must have grumbled, "A lot of good it did to bring him to Jesus!"

They grumbled because all they knew of their story was the events of verses 19 and 20. They could not see what would happen by the time verses 24 and 25 rolled around. They only saw part of the story.  The part they were seeking was just around the corner. 

What if they had said, "If that's all you are going to do, Jesus, we are out of here!"?  It's likely there would have been no healing for their friend that day. It may have been surprise or some experience with the ways of Jesus, but for whatever reason, they all held still and waited. As they waited, it became clear that Jesus had never lost sight of the paralyzed man. Jesus had planned to heal all along, but He would use the healing to demonstrate His authority and the power of God within Him to all those gathered. 

Imagine the joy of those men as their disappointment proved temporary! Jesus did heal! They would not be carrying  a stretcher back home that day. Their friend was jumping and laughing with great joy. They all were!

Perhaps you have waited for God to move for such a long time. Maybe it seems He has done everything except what you have asked Him to do for your loved one. It could be that you have "a few more verses to go".  Maybe He wants to accomplish a greater purpose and a more complete victory. Don't give up hope, dear ones. Hold firm until all the healing is done. 

Pray today that we will persevere until every one of our loved ones has experienced the healing only Jesus can bring.  
Link to last night's fav:

Leanna's Favs, #1: The Blazing Fire

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  I had such a hard time picking the posts that had meant the most to me that I'm posting my favorite devotionals in the morning and the stories that mean the most to me in the evening.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed writing them and selecting them.

The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?” But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.” (Luke 3:15-16 MSG)

What a word picture! Despite all the years of waiting, the people were still anticipating their Messiah and were wondering about John. "Maybe he's the one," they thought. John did not give those rumors time to get started. "Nope. Not me," he said. He went on to tell them a little about Jesus. I wonder what they thought when he spoke about baptism by fire. It is such a vivid idea in my mind. A blazing fire and somehow being lowered into it but emerging (hopefully) unscathed. It brings Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to mind.

When John explained his metaphor, he painted a beautiful picture, didn't he? The idea of igniting implies that the tender is ready and the fire is laid. Jesus is coming, John explained, to ignite the fire in our hearts with the Holy Spirit. It will give us "kingdom of God life" in our hearts and change us completely. We will be fresh and new. Here's the wonderful part that would be easy to miss: the Holy Spirit is coming to stay, to live within our hearts, and Kingdom life (the life God desires for us) is available permanently.

The pilgrims who walked the Emmaus road with Jesus described the experience with these words, "Our hearts were strangely warmed". In the presence of Jesus, that fire of the Holy Spirit burned within them and made them different.

The fire is laid in our hearts, the tender is ready. How bright is that Holy Spirit blaze? Are we keeping the fire stoked with Bible study and obedience to the commands of our Lord? What a wonderful thing it is to be cleansed, changed, warmed by the fire of His love!

Pray today that we would keep the fire burning bright with our faithfulness and that our loved ones will see that fire in us and want it for themselves.