What Happens When I Linger in God’s Presence

What do you do with your friends? You hang out with them. You linger in their Read more

When I Cooked for My Church Family

“The food is good, Miss Judy,” said the 4-year-old, and the 6-year-old agreed, “The food is good, Miss Judy.” Our church family meets on Sunday nights, beginning with dinner together at 5. Different people, or gospel communities or couples prepare dinner for us all—usually 50-60 people. Sometimes we get pizza or subs. My life is full, I travel often and cooking is not my great strength. But I was always feeling I should sign up to do dinner. So January 8 was my day to serve our church family. I decided to make Javanese Dinner, a large group meal introduced to our ministry staff decades ago by Vonette Bright. I remember preparing it more than 30 years ago. (My apologies to my Indonesian friends—I don’t know why it is called Javanese.) I went to work. The recipe called for stewed chickens, but I preferred crockpots. I used my two and two borrowed from neighbors to slow cook 6 chickens. Getting two into the larger pots was a challenge, but I managed--and my house smelled wonderful. I surely don’t remember that it was so much work to debone and shred all that meat. It took me several hours. The dish calls for a buffet approach, piling up your food on your plate. First came the rice. I had never tried to make rice for 50 people before—and I was not successful. It just wouldn’t cook enough and stayed very wet. I passed it off as Asian rice, which is usually not as dry as what we mostly serve in the U.S. Then came the chicken. It was good, but needed more seasoning. Next time (if that ever comes) I will add more salt and pepper and a few other spices. Then the toppings, which I chopped as needed: cheese, green onions, celery, carrots, pineapple, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds—you can add what you want. You top it off with the juice from cooking the chicken. Again, more seasoning was needed. I was mostly pleased, except of course for the rice and the lack of seasonings. But all those wonderful people at church loved it! They went back for Read more

Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Linger

... to dwell in His presence, sensing His love and compassion, gaining wisdom and strength and perseverance for this difficult Read more

12 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

Your 12 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness can begin today—and continue every day of the Read more

What to Wear as a Child of God: Jesus

I thought I had finished my series on What to Wear as a Child of God, from Colossians 3. But I neglected the most important clothing of all.   But put on the Lord Jesus Christ….(Romans 13:14) Jesus is the embodiment of all that should describe those who follow Him. Paul admonishes us: “…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:9-14) So when I am overwhelmed at the thought of consistently living compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love—which would be almost any day—I am so grateful that in reality I just have to put on Jesus—He is all those virtues. And how do I put on Jesus? He took the first step: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus put on flesh—He became like us—so we could become like Him. It’s called incarnation—God became human. And that’s what we are celebrating at this Advent season—the coming of Jesus to give us new lives, new hope, even new clothes. So as I look for the appropriate dress for a party, a family gathering, even a church service, I can’t go wrong when I put on the just right attire for every Christmas celebration. I put on Jesus. What about you? Need a change of clothes?  C2016 Judy Douglass Related posts: What to Wear as a Child of God: Love What to Wear as a Child of God: Read more

What Happens When I Linger in God’s Presence

 

new smyrna sunrise 5-14

God gave me an unsolicited word for 2017—linger. I love the concept and even the sound of the word. It speaks for itself. My first call to linger is to tarry in His presence.

Lingering does not come easily these days. All my responsibilities and my ministry via social media have given me a distracted mind. To help me escape some of that distraction, I have spent several days at the beach—lingering in the presence of the Lord.

As I have lingered and listened, this is what has happened. He has spoken to me.

He Loves Me

In reality, all of Scripture tells of His love for me, of His relentless pursuit to bring me back into relationship with Himself. I could find hundreds of verses assuring me of his love. Here are two I am especially grateful for:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

‘The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

He Calls Me Friend 

In the Old Testament, even in any other religion of the world, no one could imagine thinking of God as “friend.”

Yet Jesus once again turned the religious establishment upside down with these words to His disciples:  “I have called you friends….” (John 15:15)

What do you do with your friends? You hang out with them. You linger in their presence.

He Assures Me I Am His Daughter 

It would have been enough to have my sins paid for, to be forgiven, to have an eternal home—and all the other gifts offered through His death and resurrection. But God did one more things: He adopted me.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

He Treasures Me 

I understand that. I certainly treasure my children and my children. But I hardly think of myself as a treasure. God does:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

He Reveals His Plans for Me

He whispers in my ear about the pathways for my life:

“You have made known to me the paths of life….” (Acts 2:28) 

One of my favorite Scripture passages assures me more specifically of this:

“For we are God’s handiwork (actually, work of art), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

He Blesses Me 

Of course. I am blessed when I am in the presence of my family, my friends, many other special people in my of life. So surely I am blessed in the presence of God.

Moses instructed Aaron to bless the people in this way:

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
   the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ (Numbers 6:24-26)

He Gives Me Rest

Since I seem to be weary much of the time, this benefit of lingering in God’s presence brings me great joy:

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence….“ (1 John 3:19)

He Is Always with Me 

Sometimes people neglect us, fail us, even abandon us. Not our God.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) 

So I continue to linger in His presence, listening for His words of love, comfort, encouragement, hope:

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11)

What about you? What have you heard as you linger in His presence? 

C2017 Judy Douglass

 




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Personal Reflections 2 Comments

When I Cooked for My Church Family

antioch-eating-2

“The food is good, Miss Judy,” said the 4-year-old, and the 6-year-old agreed, “The food is good, Miss Judy.”

Our church family meets on Sunday nights, beginning with dinner together at 5. Different people, or gospel communities or couples prepare dinner for us all—usually 50-60 people. Sometimes we get pizza or subs.

My life is full, I travel often and cooking is not my great strength. But I was always feeling I should sign up to do dinner. So January 8 was my day to serve our church family.

I decided to make Javanese Dinner, a large group meal introduced to our ministry staff decades ago by Vonette Bright. I remember preparing it more than 30 years ago. (My apologies to my Indonesian friends—I don’t know why it is called Javanese.)

I went to work. The recipe called for stewed chickens, but I preferred crockpots. I used my two and two borrowed from neighbors to slow cook 6 chickens. Getting two into the larger pots was a challenge, but I managed–and my house smelled wonderful.

I surely don’t remember that it was so much work to debone and shred all that meat. It took me several hours.

The dish calls for a buffet approach, piling up your food on your plate.

First came the rice. I had never tried to make rice for 50 people before—and I was not successful. It just wouldn’t cook enough and stayed very wet. I passed it off as Asian rice, which is usually not as dry as what we mostly serve in the U.S.

Then came the chicken. It was good, but needed more seasoning. Next time (if that ever comes) I will add more salt and pepper and a few other spices.

Then the toppings, which I chopped as needed: cheese, green onions, celery, carrots, pineapple, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds—you can add what you want.

You top it off with the juice from cooking the chicken. Again, more seasoning was needed.

I was mostly pleased, except of course for the rice and the lack of seasonings. But all those wonderful people at church loved it! They went back for seconds. They kept telling me how good it was. I think they were truly surprised that I could cook at all, especially for 50 people.

But the best was to hear those girls tell me they loved it.

And the rest of the best is being a part of a church that’s a family and eats together and encourages the others, even my meager efforts.

And the kids know my name.

What about you? What helps your church feel like a family? 

C2017 Judy Douglass

 

 

 




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling, Personal Reflections Leave a comment

Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Linger

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.   Today we consider an invitation to linger.

Learning to linger

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“I have a regular phone call with a group of young believers,” the professor from a South Asian nation explained. “These new followers of Jesus need to learn to linger in prayer.”

I was struck by the word “linger.”

My husband and I spent a recent morning at the Bridges Vision Conference at Daytona. More than 1000 international students gathered to explore the person of Christ and their relationship to Him. Some were long-time believers, many were recent followers of Jesus and quite a few hadn’t entered such a relationship with Christ.

Steve and I had the privilege of sharing how God had worked in our lives with several groups of students—a special opportunity. We are grateful.

For me, though, the idea “to linger in prayer” lingered in my mind.

For much of my life, I didn’t linger much.

My husband would tell you that one of my frequent responses to requests to do something would be: “That doesn’t fit in my schedule.”

My younger daughter would tell you that too often as a child she heard her mother say, “Hurry up. We’re late.”

Even Jesus, who lingered often with the Father, would tell us that His disciples couldn’t linger with Him. In the Garden He asked the three closest to him, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:36)

I hadn’t thought much about a word for 2017. I didn’t choose one last year—and God had lots of surprises over the months.

But as I have pondered lingering, my heart and mind have felt increasingly drawn to it. Perhaps that is exactly what I need at this too busy season of my life.

To linger—with my husband who, though surely with more responsibilities than I have, is much more likely to linger with people.

To linger—with my kids and grands. So many good things happen when I do that. And for those of us who love a prodigal it is especially needful for us to linger with them and with other family members who might get neglected.

To linger—with the people who are a part of my life and the ones God brings into my life. For those of us with prodigals, lingering with others in a similar place can encourage them and us.

To linger—most of all to linger with God. Surely to cry out for my loved one. To pray for others in much need. And especially to dwell in His presence, sensing His love and compassion, gaining wisdom and strength and perseverance for this difficult journey.

Whether or not “linger” is your word for this year, I’m sure you would be blessed and helped by abiding with Jesus on a consistent basis. To petition for your loved one, but primarily to be loved by God.

A blessing for your new year:

May you live from a grateful heart, a humble spirit and kind actions.

May you hope in the goodness of God and assurance of His love for you.

May God surprise you with His blessings every day.

With love and gratitude that you are in my life,

Judy

What about you? Do you have a word for 2017?

C2017 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Loving a Prodigal 2 Comments

12 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

At Ronald McDonald House

Kindness and compassion are usually the motivations behind RAKs—Random Acts of Kindness.

The phrase caught hold through a book—Random Acts of Kindness—by Anne Herbert, telling true stories of acts of kindness. Defined as unpremeditated, inconsistent actions designed to offer kindness toward the outside world, RAK’s have become popular practices in our world today, counteracting, according to author Herbert, “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.”

Kindness and compassion began long before—in the beginning as we humans were first created by a kind and compassionate God. To be kind and compassionate was hardwired in us, though most of us have strayed from that approach to life in varying degrees.

The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance for children of God to live and love as Jesus did—putting on compassion and kindness (Colossians 3:12). Random Acts of Kindness should be a way of life for us.

Make snacks for RMH

My friend Heather has, for several years, sought to make this lifestyle real to her daughters, now 6 and 4. Every Christmas they have embarked on 12 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. The kind acts change as the children grow.

“We do 12 days…other people do more or less…whatever makes sense for their family and budget.” Heather explains. “Here’s what we are doing this year for RACK.”
Day 1–Buy Coffee for someone
Day 2–Buy Groceries for someone
Day 3–Deliver treats to neighbors
Day 4–Make snack packs for Ronald McDonald House (with help from friends)
Day 5–Deliver snack packs to Ronald McDonald House
Day 6–Take thank you cards and treats to firefighters
Day 7–Give out candy canes to shoppers
Day 8–Give to Salvation Army Red Kettle—and ring the bell
Day 9–Take gifts to a family in need
Day 10–Prepare dinner for our church family
Day 11–Provide Redbox movies and snacks (leave $1, popcorn and candy taped to Redbox machines…we usually leave 2 at each)
Day 12–Give Starbucks gift cards to strangers or service workers

Movie and a snack
Other ideas we’ve done in the past:
– Give to Angel Tree
– Give treats for trash and delivery men
– Give Lotto tickets at gas pumps
– Buy dinner for someone
– Collect cans for food drive
– Serve meals to the poor
– Give treats for teachers
– Make ornaments for friends
– Send cards to soldiers
– Take toys to kids at the hospital
– Give to Toys for Tots
– Go caroling and hand out candy canes for neighbors
– Prepare a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child

giving to Red Kettle

Wow! A beautiful practice, and great training for a lifetime of kindness and compassion.

Your 12 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness can begin today—after all the original 12 Days of Christmas began with Christmas Day and ended with Epiphany on January 6. The season of Advent, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, is a month for Christians to await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in 12 days of celebration. RACK would be a great way to celebrate.

But why limit your kindness and compassion to Christmas? We can celebrate and honor—and emulate—Christ every day as we look for ways to live and love as He did as a way of life.

What about you? What RACK’s might you do?

C2016 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

What to Wear as a Child of God: Kindness

What to Wear as a Child of God: Compassion 

 

 

 

 




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What to Wear as a Child of God: Jesus

I thought I had finished my series on What to Wear as a Child of God, from Colossians 3. But I neglected the most important clothing of all.

 baby jesus

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ….(Romans 13:14)

Jesus is the embodiment of all that should describe those who follow Him. Paul admonishes us:

“…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:9-14)

So when I am overwhelmed at the thought of consistently living compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love—which would be almost any day—I am so grateful that in reality I just have to put on Jesus—He is all those virtues.

And how do I put on Jesus?

He took the first step:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus put on flesh—He became like us—so we could become like Him. It’s called incarnation—God became human.

And that’s what we are celebrating at this Advent season—the coming of Jesus to give us new lives, new hope, even new clothes.

So as I look for the appropriate dress for a party, a family gathering, even a church service, I can’t go wrong when I put on the just right attire for every Christmas celebration.

I put on Jesus.

What about you? Need a change of clothes?

 C2016 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

What to Wear as a Child of God: Love

What to Wear as a Child of God: Compassion

 




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