A most cozy resident of Tater Knob Pottery and Farm….Berea, KY
Moisture suspends in the air, as the early morning fog rolls about down the cracks of cobblestone streets. We walk hand in hand, a needed weekend get-away from the demands of everyday life. Warm coffee in one hand, warm hand in the other. Smells of fresh baked goods and sea water mingle in the air in a dance of complexity.
My eyes are drawn to a red door and I suddenly feel that I am in another place. Perhaps Europe? The door opens and a young lady darts out with a handful of leashes attached to furry dogs that are excitedly pulling her down the street. I stop for a moment and snap a photo. This, would be a great photo to capture the charm of these city streets. I think about how just around the corner, commerce bustles in a district trying to wipe the sleep out of its weary eyes and begin another day selling and buying. Who would ever think that someone lived in that building, with the red door. Did I mention that I always wanted to live on the top of a shop…or at least have a red door?
Had we not slowed down we might have missed it. And it might not seem like much, but it was one of the most cheerful sights I saw that morning…Oh yes, there were flowers and docks and such, but for me- that cheerful brick building with the lovely awnings took the prize. Though I stopped in my tracks to stare, loads of people continued to shuffle down the sidewalk right past it, without so much as a curious glance. So interesting how we all see something different when something is in front of us.
This launches me into a thought concerning people and this generation of children. People can pass by them without so much as a glance, nothing seemingly interesting in that. Yet, this generation is lying quietly on a side street, waiting for someone to stop and show interest, someone to take notice and declare that they are something to stop for….something to value, something to prize.
Yet sadly, traffic keeps moving and the beauty and creativity lays dormant until someone stops and declares, this is worth stopping for. This is worth slowing down and seeing.
In the book of 2 Chronicles we find an account of Joash, a 7-year-old king who comes to the throne through circumstances that are unimaginable. His father, Ahaziah was murdered, and Joash’s own grandmother tried to kill him. His life was spared and protected by his grandmother’s sister and her husband who was Jehoida the Priest. With the help of the Priest, Joash took his position as king as a young child.
Jehoiada took responsibility for overseeing the most important aspects of Joash’s life. We understand from the passage that Jehoiada mentors him, and pours his life and energy into training the young king. This older man taught Joash the ways of God, and instructed Him in Godly living. He did not think it was a small task to teach, nurture, and encourage Joash in the ways of God. It appeared that he took this responsibility very seriously. While Joash had Jehoiada in his life, he lived in God’s ways, pleasing the Lord with his actions and decisions.
“Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.”
-2 Chron. 24:2
Unfortunately, after many years of training Joash, Jehoiada passes away. This passing of a man who was so influential in the spiritual upbringing of Joash, leaves a void in his life. It takes no time at all to see the departure of the faith of Joash, without the encouragement and accountability of his persistent and wise mentor.
Joash eventually accepts the counsel of wicked people, and pushes the Godly away. In due course, he eventually has Jehoiada’s own son killed. This was the very same son of the man who encouraged and trained Joash throughout his formative years.
What happened to this young man? We see he was instructed by a Godly man. He was taught God’s ways and He obeyed the Lord. The influence of a man of God in Joash’s life could not be underestimated. Joash clearly needed continued council and teaching. Undoubtedly, each person must have their own relationship with God and nurture that relationship, seeking God whole-heartedly. Despite this truth, another important element is missing in the lives of many young people. That element is mentorship from the older generations.
In the book of Titus chapter 2, we can see this instruction concerning the older generations, teaching the younger. So many younger generations lack the courage to seek this wisdom from the older generation, and many in the older generation perhaps do not believe that younger people desire to learn from them. Oh how we need a change in this area in the body of Christ!
What would have happened to righteous King Joash if another Jehoiada would have stepped in and continued the mentorship, the encouragement, and the accountability that Joash still desperately needed? We of course, will never know.
This generation is no different. This generation is crying out for the older, Godly people to take them under their wing and invest in their lives with great compassion and diligence. It has always been that the older generation is charged with reminding the younger generations of the glories, miracles, and wonders of God…until that generation becomes so hungry to see it for themselves…that they pursue God with even greater passion.
“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” Psalms 71:18
There must be encouragement, there must be conviction in our hearts to silence the accusations of the enemy that lies waiting to whisper that the next generation is too lost, too enamored with sin, and too disinterested in the older generations.
Stop on the sidewalk and see what is in front of you. This generation must not be left in the alleyway, unnoticed by the hurried traffic of a busy world. It would be an epic tragedy to remain undaunted by the lives of the next undiscovered generation which God Himself knows and created for His glory and His purposes.
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
Like never before this generation needs to walk in the footsteps of those who went before them. Oh that the Jehoida’s of this world who know God and who can mentor young people in righteous living, would call out to the younger people who are fading into the world!
May the older generation know that there are young people who long to be trained and mentored by them. May the younger generation know and greatly regard that the older generation has wisdom and counsel that is beyond necessary for this day and hour. May every person take their place and position in the body of Christ so that the name of Jesus is magnified and that God Himself is glorified in generation after generation.
This post is part of the “Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour” which I am a part of, along with a group of soulful, journeying kindreds. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!
Rest. Something seen in our fast paced culture that we view as a rare treat or something we are told to do when we are feeling sick. Perhaps rest is delegated to a summer vacation or a trip to the spa. Seldom do we seek after rest or categorize it as a necessity. Often if we think of rest we picture the laziness that comes with not crossing another item off our “to do list.” Bonnie Gray breaks down rest in a simple, beautiful way, showing how rest is not a frivolous act carried out by an irresponsible person, but rather a commandment from the one who created us and knows what is best for our lives…The Lord.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest….” Matthew 11:28
It is within the pages of her book, that Bonnie pours out her heart, sharing her journey to find rest through the only one who can give true rest for our souls-Jesus. You will find glimpses of your own need for rest and a gentle nudge from a friendly voice who encourages you, as a sister in Christ, to step into that promised rest that the Lord beckons us to.
I want to share one of my favorite passages from the book…. Bonnie is setting up the parable Jesus tells concerning the good Samaritan, and in it she likens ourselves to all three people in the parable…I saw so much truth in this… Found on pg. 86-87
“Jesus shows us a new way of resting in the story of a wounded stranger on the side of the road. I’ve always read this story seeing the wounded stranger as someone else. Not anymore. I know that wounded stranger has always been me. It’s the part of me that I’ve neglected, a casualty stripped bare on the side of life’s highway. That stranger is me, too wounded to step closer to joy. That joy-wounded me is a time waster to the Levite busy getting back to his temple duties. The joy-wounded me. I’m exhausted by trying hard to be useful, so I’ll never end up staring into a bag of garbage and feeling unloved an unknown-again. “
This passage spoke to me and I believe it will speak to many people. How often do we neglect to see our own condition and we hurry right along and go back to the busy schedule of life…or how often do we avoid dealing with wounds or hurts that are inconvenient. There is victory always in Christ Jesus, because He alone heals the broken hearted. The sooner we can acknowledge that we have a broken heart, the sooner the one who created the heart to begin with can bind up those wounds and pour the salve of His love over it to heal and restore it completely. Jesus is able and He will! Rest is available in and through Christ, and I am determined to start looking at His rest with great joy and expectancy. A refreshing comes through that precious rest… and so…..be refreshed in Jesus, Amen.
Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too. You can get a copy HERE.
“Know then, that all failure has its beginning in private, in neglecting to wait on God until filled with wisdom, clothed with power, and all on fire with love.” Samuel Login Brengle.
From my young adulthood onward, I have been a person who has actively cultivated the skills needed in the stressful art of….. rushing. My mind has had a rolling “to do list” that would grow and expand at a rate in which I would rarely reach the last item before ten more were added in their place. As an adult, the problem expanded and life began to look like a long list of chores, rather than a testing and proving ground for faith and love.
We are not on this Earth for the purpose of seeing how many items we can check off a list.
I am seeing more clearly that in all of this rushing- the eternal things are sacrificed on the alter of busy-ness. I once heard someone say, “the devil never much minds a busy Christian…” Truth is if we are busy with many things (of life) we will miss the God -sized things….Waiting on God is imperative. The time spent in the quiet, waiting on God are fuel for our spirit…… This fuel keeps us going when the demands of everyday life endeavor to eclipse the plans and purposes God wills for us throughout our day.
When I think of a great example of this, I think of Luke 10:38-42….
I picture Martha rushing around trying to show Pinteresty-style hospitality to Jesus… while Mary saw a beautiful opportunity to quietly wait on the Lord and listen to His words. Could you imagine if Martha would have placed dinner on hold for a few minutes to drink of Jesus in that moment? I don’t think she would have been scorned. In fact, I believe she would have had all of the energy and strength to serve her guests with enthusiastic joy!
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31
I’m sure Martha thought, “I am serving the Lord here!” No doubt she was looking down on Mary thinking Mary had dropped the ball while there was work to be done. Yet in her failure to wait on Jesus, Martha was the one to be corrected, while Mary was commended.
In order to do our work well, we have to be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. We are filled by this power as we “experience the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:19) We must get into His presence and experience His love in order to be filled with this fullness.
“Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Romans 12:11
Jesus wasn’t giving us permission to be lazy, He was showing her a better way. Jesus (Himself) is the only way. Seeking Him first is key, and committing the tasks of the day to Him is imperative. Jesus revealed that which had lasting value and greater eternal significance and purpose. Mary seized the opportunity and she received the blessing of being refreshed in Jesus’ presence. Oh how I have had too many Martha moments and have needed to take a cue from Mary!
What if we slowed down, waited on God more, and stopped being so busy for the sake of busyness?
What if we took an inventory, not of all the things we haven’t gotten done, but of how we have neglected the Lord and what we can do from this point onward to cultivate a stronger relationship with Him?
Since we can do nothing apart from Him, we must abide in Him, allowing Him to strengthen us and to help us to see our lives from an eternal perspective. Our lives are not our own. We belong to Him.
So if I say no to a few more things, and tuck the list aside for now, friends…It is because there is access to Him and since there is access why wait……enter the throne room and wait there.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
An ocean of woodchips soften the floor of the playground where giggles and screeches cascade throughout the development. I sit peacefully on a bench at the edge and observe the sun- washed faces all around. Warmth is transitioning the seasons, and the tender smell of new beginnings jolts the air. The children delight in the freedom of leaving sweaters and jackets behind and run haphazardly through the lot. One older child, stands out as she commands the other children on the grounds. Her tone is one of jesting and teasing while mixing sarcasm with peals of laughter. She is at a crossroads, standing at the threshold of teenager hood, as I like to call it. Somewhere in the tension between wanting to be a child, yet compelled of necessity to be an adult, she stands.
Her ashy blonde hair swings wildly about her face as she twirls the children around and around. They trust her, you can tell, but they don’t know why…I don’t think she does either. She obliges them again and again to a nearly dizzying effect. In some unspeakable way she looks as if the modern world commands her to let them loose…. to grow up and to turn her back on these things that she appears to find joy in but cannot confess that she finds joy in…. because of course that would be uncool. Hence the sarcasm.
I watch this scene and the heart of God in me is torn too. Society wears on these young ones, commanding them to grow up, to leave behind…to enter the world that announces stress and strain. To the reality of a world that would unabashedly demand compromise. This society of ours that teaches survivability lies within a person’s ability to outsmart, outshine, and outscore. To the world that calls good evil and evil good and that depends on heaping up temporal earthly things in order to find a measurement of happiness.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” ~1 John 2:15
This young girl, standing there at a monumental threshold…society tugging and pulling her to go over the line. Yet something in her pulling back to linger here in the carelessness of this last careless season of life.
From somewhere in the distance a faint call goes out like an alarm sounding, the voice of a Mom wanting children to come in for the night. The children gather their belongings and the pack leader of it all begins to pull hard on the red wagon to bring a delivery of children to their respective homes. As she gathers them in haste, I stand to gather my children too before the sun sinks behind the hill. I am compelled to speak to her. Then the heart and compassion of God fills me up to overflowing and I see this young lady with many obstacles ahead…not because of anything in particular, but because of what the world honors and cherishes and what will be naturally launched her way. I see myself as that child-nearly adult…not knowing much, but finding the excitement of freedom just up ahead and throwing caution to the wind whilst believing all of the worldly lies of what is said to be important.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” ~1 Cor. 3:18
I ask her name. She answers quite respectfully. I tell her that she does an excellent job caring for these children and that I can tell they trust her, and that in so doing she has to be careful of what she says over them, for they are tender and want to follow suit. I stare straight at her and she does not break my glance as I tell her that God has a great plan for her life. Perhaps she will have a role teaching or caring for children someday, and God is the one with that marvelous plan. And there I see it, the hardness and sarcasm that poured from her before fall away. There is a hope and a calm that shifts her perspective.
God loves me? God sees me? I could see the heart wheels turning.
And here I am again, I feel the heartbeat of JESUS for the children. His awesome love and faithful care touch everything, because He created it all. This child, like every child is precious to HIM, is beautiful in His sight. Why would we want to be careless with our words to these most beloved ones? I see the power of speaking kind things over the generations that are largely left to sort through the muck and mire of this worn out culture which frequently leaves the “least of these” behind.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
Here I melt. I melt because in the midst of it all, there is Jesus. He is the one who stood before time and called us all by name and knows every small aspect of each of us and His call goes forth to everyone. From smallest to greatest…He is calling these children. These young ones need people to encourage them, to fight for them, to pray over them and to believe for them. They need to know that they can resist this culture and they can break forth from its lies and become who God created them to be.
The young girl walks past the gate and the wheels of that wagon turn and turn halfway down the way as I take a final spin with my two sweeties, round and around. From somewhere down the path that parts the houses, the girl pulling the wagon turns back. Her face is fresh aglow with encouragement the wheels cease and she raises a hand to wave, saying: “Well, good-bye, and umm, have a nice week!”
She smiles a warm smile and goes back to her task and somewhere I know God’s love has touched her heart. God’s goodness and His care for her is real, and she knows it. In that moment I know it too that as we speak life- giving words over others, we will see new things springing up all around.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
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Paint cans jostle around, encased in the machine. Meanwhile a man beams through a brilliantly toothy smile, wrinkle-creased eyes waiting patiently for the lull of mixing to cease. We met just moments ago and yet we have arrived in conversation at a family chat about our Father.
Sure there are a handful of generations between us and skin colors and cultures are right diverse, but we are family. Already we are reminiscing on the goodness of our Lord and the true worship that comes from a heart of gratitude. He does a light skip step as he dabs a splat of paint on a lid and talks about how he nearly charges the sanctuary every Sunday morning to sing praises in the choir. You see he’s been singing those same old Gospel hymns for ages and his gratitude shines forth like the Son. He cannot contain His joy regarding who God is- and now neither can we. The paint swatch is dry and we talk about how if we all never meet again, we will meet again at home… We look up and all smile, having that certain knowing that the presence of our Father was with us all…right there in the fluorescent swept department store.
Then I go side by side with a special friend and splash paint on walls and see our children giggle and play with utter delight and we press on trying to get something accomplished…and I marvel. With so much going on in life, she gives her day away and pours in to the task.
And a pang of hunger catches our stomachs and our hands are getting tired as we out Karate the Karate Kid and the message comes that chocolate smothered lattes will be delivered and our children will be fed and that help is on the way… and though their days have been lived already they keep going and give more….and I marvel.
And freedom is given, and trust is allotted to choose a color in the first place and kindness is ever modeled in the foundations of leadership…. And I marvel.
And a call from Momma, and a text from a sister, and a phone call from a friend to my best friend, and I am swept up in a swirl of gratitude over all this… The Lord begins to speak to me about family. His family, our family…our eternal family. And maybe it doesn’t move you, but I was moved to tears… because genuine love never produces anything less than a genuine flood of emotions.
The weeks flow in and no sooner ebb back out like a tidal wave of time relentless and unceasing… and if we are not careful we let others slip through walls of water like life drained straight out. In moments of forgotten care, we can inadvertently toss lives off our shores and out into the deep.
We can get so caught up in our own interests that we can forget what is happening in the lives of others….and I am guilty at times too…hanging on to my own life instead of sharing the space of my raft.
Yet families do not forget… they see, they reach, and they meet… life is not a solo mission and who ever lived it without love and compassion never lived a true life at all.
What happens when our lives become so ensnared with “to dos” that when we look up from our keyboards and our electronics our landscape has in fact become strange land?
If we are not careful the cares of this life will leave us lifeless and Jesus’s love that is boundless can become all bound up in our own self-centeredness.
~Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
As the Lord spoke tenderly to my heart about family and what it looks like… He impressed upon my heart that His family does not wait to be family when they reach home, but rather they bring the comforts of home to family here…wherever they go…
Because our heavenly family is being established everywhere, it is in our connecting and serving one another that we sample a side of heaven down on Earth.
His sons and daughters, my brothers and sisters…. We serve and share and come alongside well before we cross to the other side. We are meant to be entwined in life together…encouraging, exhorting, and simply loving –Already.
~I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love….~ Colossians 2:2
And I saw a snapshot of the week.. and it looked like HIM to me.
No selfish ambition, or vain conceit…just a bunch of the King’s children all around seeing each other’s lives and going all in – in order to glorify the one that is All in All- HIM.
When it is no longer about us but about Christ in US….then we begin to see the evidence of what is so very precious to the heart of God… true family.
~We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16