Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where the action happens


"And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.'" Luke 12: 42-43 NASB

It sounds terrible, but I've been dreading this section of Scripture. I've spent days (okay, weeks) on the first portion of this passage, and there are more days to come. I have quietly worried that I was "stuck" in the passage. My little foray into Romans felt fresh, and I've worried this would feel stale. 

The Word of God stale? The sharper-than-a-two-edged sword Word of God boring? I might be boring, but God's Word has life in its pages.

I dreaded resuming the series until I opened my Bible and saw Truth again. I am sometimes so very foolish, and I apologize, to you my fellow readers and to our Lord. How could I possibly think reading about being a "faithful and sensible steward" is boring? 

Close to Christ is where the action happens, where all the excitement begins.

We've seen pistis, the word translated as "faithful", several times before. I've reread these posts. Pistis is NOT boring. The woman with the issue of blood had enough pistis to reach out to Jesus' for healing. Jesus told her it was her pistis in Him that made her well. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is pistis. 

This pistis, or faith, is a rock-solid certainty that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the One through whom we receive salvation in the Kingdom of God. 

It takes pistis to stake our eternal future on Jesus Christ.

It takes pistis to follow Him every day.

This is not an esoteric concept reserved for a few. This is the bone and muscle of being a disciple of Christ. It's more than "God said it so it's true". This pistis, this kind of faith, believes not only that God can do what He has said, but that He will.

It's the "down to the last dollar and I need milk for the children" faith that knows, somehow, God will send what's needed.

It's "I don't know which way to go because every door is closed" faith that expects, knows, God will open the one door we haven't yet seen, and it will be right.

I learned an interesting thing at Writer's Conference this week. 


I have pistis. 

I don't always act like I have pistis, but when I do, it's a glorious, exciting thing. When I believe with pistis, I believe that there is nothing my God can't do. Nothing needed He won't do to provide for me, His child. 

With pistis, I know the impossible is possible, because I serve a God who laughs at impossibility. I become an Hercule Poirot-Miss Marple-McGyver problem solver because I know the answer is waiting to be found... in Christ alone.

It's who I want to be, and I've spent the last few days considering what it would take to live in wide-open pistis. As Paul wrote, I must get rid of the sin that encumbers me... the fear that encumbers me, and live like I believe. It changes my life when I live that way, and I love the excitement of that lifestyle, the fresh joy every day. 

We're all supposed to be following Jesus with pistis, so let's do it. Let's live with wide open trust in the One who redeemed us. Let's live with the faith of those first century disciples, who weren't afraid to say, "I don't have any money, but I'll give you what I do have. Stand up and walk." 
~~~~~~~
Our Father, forgive us for our failure to follow You, to believe You. Help our unbelief and give us the pistis to follow You, to believe You to do what You've promised to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Holding on to Truth




"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out 'Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14-15 NASB)

This is my last day of writing conference. I've learned lots, but home beckons. Over the past few days, my emotions have been on an insane roller coaster. I've heard stunning praise for my writing with absolute belief in my story from some and the heartbreaking pronouncement that thrillers won't sell, especially with terrorists in the story line, from another. I'm dizzy with the praise one moment and teetering on the brink of despair the next. It's exhausting. I'm ready for an even keel, my own bed, and my Wonder Dogs. I'm ready for retreat.

Pastor Ed Underwood has been the evening plenary speaker this week, and he's spoken some very important truth. 

Being a writer will mess with your head. Being a Christian writer will mess with your heart. 

He's absolutely right. Being at a Christian writers' conference will also mess with your heart. If you allow it.

The key word is allow. Will I allow the enemy to mess with my mind or not? I will not. I'm excited and a little disappointed and overwhelmed. But excitement and disappointment and the sense of being overwhelmed are all emotions. They aren't truth.

My truth is I still have an editor who enthusiastically wants to hear a pitch and a top agent who wants a proposal. I have a skilled for-hire editor willing to not only edit my book but teach me to edit as he does. Talk about value for your money! 

The most important truth of all, however, is that I still have a Heavenly Father who not only loves me, but has a good plan for my life. What do I have to be disappointed about? Nothing at all. 

I wrote it yesterday, and it's true today. 

The spirit of adoption, as a child crying out Abba Father, changes everything.

The one in charge of my life and my future is not an agent or an editor. The one in charge of my life is God Himself, and He's my Daddy. He has a plan and it's good. Because God is my Father, I can count on Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." 

Our Father has a plan, and it is good. 

For today, I'm headed to another class and another inspiring speaker, followed by a leisurely afternoon before a red-eye flight home. I'm leaving filled with more knowledge than I had when I came, more encouragement than I had, and more information about the CBA market than I had. I'm also going home with an inkling of a plan. 

Most important, though, I'm going home with the same truth I've had for many years. God is in control, and He is still on His throne. 

~~~~~~~

Father, thank you for loving us enough to adopt us. Thank you for a plan that is always for our good. Draw us closer to your truth and closer to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The spirit of adoption

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out 'Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14-15 NASB)

I'm still at Writing Conference. The last few days have been a whirlwind. In case you're wondering, the day starts with worship at 9 am, then classes until lunch, then more classes until the late afternoon, when there's a panel discussion that ends just in time for dinner. After the evening meal, there are "night owl" sessions. Meetings with agents, editors, and mentors are sandwiched in between all the classes and meals. 


It's been late when I've finally headed to my room, and even later when I've finally settled down after the excitement of the day. My head has been in a whirl, and so has my heart. 

After the last nine months of 12-14 hour days spent poring over my computer, writing up a storm, editing until I wept, and agonizing over just the right word, I'm finally pitching my story while trying to fine tune it. It's been a solitary life these last months, and the bustle and crowd this week have been a shock. 

Even more shocking has been this business of pitching my story in two sentences. Thirty seconds to tell what has taken most of a year to write. As a person of many words, the restriction of words frightens me. Pitching to people who could impact my future terrifies me.

When I read this passage, however, I'm reminded once again that there is no need to fear. As a daughter of God, I have not been given a spirit of fear, which enslaves me. The logical thing, the way of the world, might be to have, instead of fear, a spirit of courage, but that's not what God gives us. 

Are you ready for this? 

We don't need courage because we have been given a spirit of adoption.

That's counterintuitive to me. I want courage as I head to these meetings. I want to be bold and brave and strong, but courage and bravery and strength are a distant second to the great gift God has given me.

The spirit of adoption, as a child crying out Abba Father, changes everything.

The one in charge of my life and my future is not an agent or an editor. The one in charge of my life is God Himself, and He's my Daddy. He has a plan and it's good. Because God is my Father, I can count on Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." 

Our Father has a plan, and it is good.

There's no need to be afraid, because I want God's plan more than I want my own. The search is not for just any agent. The search is for the agent God wants for me, for God's plan, and that changes everything.

The truth that stuns me is that God's plan is not just for the big things like agents and editors and publishing companies. God's plan is epic in its expanse. Eternal in its duration. He is our life and breath. There is no need He's overlooked, no search He cannot solve. 

If you are searching for answers, turn to the One who is All-Knowing. Cry out to Abba Father, who doesn't give us fear. He gives us adoption, the most incredible gift of all.
~~~~~~~
Father, Thank you that you have a plan for us and it is good. Help us to walk as children of the King and follow Your path for our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Acting like we belong to God

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out 'Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14-15 NASB)

We're taking a little break from Luke 12 today to dash over to Romans 8. This is Writing Conference week, in case you didn't know, and my schedule (and my brain) are in a bit of a jumble. It has been an exciting and overwhelming week and I've seen God's hand at work all around me. I'll give a full report when I get back home.

My Abba (Daddy God) has been so nice to me that I'm looking at an "Abba passage" today, and maybe tomorrow, too.

The word translated as "being led" is agō. It could also be translated as "being carried". Close your eyes and imagine the arms of God carrying you. That's how His leading is sometimes, isn't it? We can't make the steps ourselves so He scoops us up, snuggles us close, and carries us in the way He intends us to go. 

The word translated as "sons" is huios. It literally means "those who manifest a certain character". 

This is the Leanna translation, but I think it's right. "For all who are being led or being carried by the Spirit of God, these are the ones who act like their Father because they are His children."

If God is leading me, even if He's having to carry me through, my behavior will be a reflection of Him. I'll act like whose I am.

If I'm my Father's daughter, I'll act like it. People will recognize it. Just as people used to say, "You look so much like your mother," they should also say, "You remind me so much of your Father."

Is that what people say about me? Is that what they say about you? It should be.

For today, if we can't walk in obedience, let's ask God to carry us into obedience, so that all who see us will say, "I know her family. She's just like her Daddy."
~~~~~~~
Abba Father, lead me, carry me through whatever You have for me today. Help me to act like You and make You proud. May all who see me, also see You in me today. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Monday, August 10, 2015

He's talking to me


"But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through. Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of Man cometh. Peter said, 'Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?'"  (Luke 12: 39-41 NASB)

I love Peter. He's so forthright. His thoughts fly right out his mouth, and it's a good thing, because they're often my thoughts, too. 

Peter had listened as Jesus told them about the lilies, and storing up treasure in heaven, the master who had gone to the wedding feast and the servants who waited with expectation. He listened to it all. Since some instructions had been for the disciples alone, Peter wanted to be sure about this one, too. Is this for everyone or just for us?

Jesus answered him with another parable, but He was telling Peter that His words were for everyone, and everyone includes you and me. How wild is that? 2000 years ago, Jesus spoke words that apply specifically to me today. I think they all apply to me, but in this little spot, Peter and Jesus confirm it. 

I'm talking to you, Leanna, so listen up.

Why are you worrying about food, clothing, and the things you think you need? My Father will provide it all. I'm talking to you, Leanna.

Stop worrying, and don't doubt Me. (Luke 12:29) I'm talking to you, Leanna.

Be ready and waiting. I'm coming back. I'm talking to you.

We will move into some hard words from Jesus tomorrow, and we may not like them. It's important to realize, from the start, that Jesus is talking to US and He expects us to take His words seriously. Ouch.

For today, it's enough to know that the words we've just studied were also for us. 

Stop worrying and don't doubt Me. 

On this day, as I begin my first-ever writing conference, begin to establish myself as a "professional writer" (whatever that means), and prepare to meet with agents and editors and fellow authors, I'm very glad these words apply to me. Stop worrying, Leanna. I've got this. Don't doubt Me.

As you go about your day, remember the words of Jesus. 

Stop worrying and don't doubt Me. 

He's speaking directly to you. Whatever your need, He can handle it. Trust Him. 
~~~~~~~
Our Father in Heaven, who sees and provides for sparrows and lilies, forgive us for our worry and our distraction by things. Help us to give our day, our lives, into Your caring hands. We choose to trust You for all that You have planned for our day and ask for the bread (and all the needs) of this one day. Help us to please You today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

photo provided by www.turnbacktogod.com

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hearing in the midst of clamor



"Peter said, 'Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?' And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or at in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.'" (Luke 12: 40-48 NASB)

You probably know about "the best laid plans of mice and men..." I'm having a little of that today. Because I'm flying today to Portland for a writing conference, I had to get up at 4:30 and leave my house at 5 am to make my flight. Since the thought of missing my flight scares me, it's my habit to arrive at the airport in plenty of time for my flight. 

Yesterday, as I was making my final preparations, I decided that I could sleep until 4:30 and write my blog post after I arrived at the airport. It was a great idea. In theory.

I'm at the gate, and surrounded by strangers who are chatting with their companions. The TV is blaring with CNN commentators waxing eloquent about the recent debates. At the same time, the overhead music is playing. There are so many words flying about, all unrelated, from so many different sources that I can't find a silent spot.

I live alone. It's quiet in my home. The "noise" I hear when I write consists of birds singing, roosters crowing, horses whinnying, the click of claws as dogs race around me.

I'd forgotten how precious silence can be until I was suddenly without it.

This morning, there's no quiet to be found. I'll write about our focus passage later, but it won't be while I'm in the midst of all this ruckus, because I need that Quiet Whisper to guide my fingers on the key board.

Hearing God's Still Small Voice in the midst of clamor is nearly impossible.

It will be a long day of flying, but I'll be looking for a quiet place later today and I'll likely write more then.

For now, look for a quiet place. A truly quiet place. Be still. Listen for the Still Small Voice of God and wait for Him until He speaks.
~~~~~~~
I'd appreciate your prayers this week as I travel and attend the conference, make connections, and see what God has planned for me this week.
Blessings, friends. I'll write again later.
Leanna