Tag Archives: Father

Isaiah 16-18; Romans 13

A woman I love lost both her parents and her sister within the same year. They were a close family, and this loss was understandably enormous. There were things she said that touched me so deeply. I have not forgotten her words.

In recent years, many events have caused me to examine myself and my beliefs. Where did I place my hope? Who did I trust? So many questions surfaced in a time of change, loss, wonder and grief. I’ve sought understanding in the wrestle. When life as I knew it and believed it to be was turned inside out, it became a time of challenging perspectives and making new connections. I focus forward. I cannot rewrite the story of the past.

11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires (Romans 13:11-14, NLT, emphasis added).

This dear woman lost her family, and many years later, I would come to know that type of void. God reminds me and underscores that I am His. There is a darkness that would delight in distracting me from walking in God’s light, in dressing me in rags of condemnation and wounding.

I meet the Lord at sunrise every day. I belong to the day. I belong to Him. He called me Daughter long before I ever called him Dad. There is shining armor with my name on it, and I am clothed in His presence. It is an embrace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Hosea 11-13; Matthew 19

I think long on following Jesus. The verses today speak of following (and not following).

Precious God, a Father, and His tenderness. As a parent fondly remembering their youngest years and treasuring my own children, I read of His love:

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and I called my son out of Egypt.
But the more I called to him,
    the farther he moved from me,
offering sacrifices to the images of Baal
    and burning incense to idols.
I myself taught Israel how to walk,
    leading him along by the hand.
But he doesn’t know or even care
    that it was I who took care of him.
I led Israel along
    with my ropes of kindness and love.
I lifted the yoke from his neck,
    and I myself stooped to feed him. (Hosea 11:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

In Matthew, the children come to Jesus, brought by their parents.

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. (Matthew 19:13-15, NLT)

A rich man searches for the kingdom’s entrance, and Jesus tells him:

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:21-24, NLT)

I read on. God makes the impossible possible. All of it. Everything. Everything is possible.

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. (Matthew 19:25-30, NLT)

Father God, you call me out of captivity, and from that freedom I have everything to gain–more than what I leave behind. When I read of your tender love, I am reminded of who I am in your sight because of Jesus. The things that hurt me hold me down like a heavy yoke–can’t I give it all up to follow you? I list it all like an inventory, and I give it to you, for your sake. Please help me to discern the things I should focus on, but first, You.

Courtney (66books365)

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Song of Solomon 4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1

I have read some 55 marriage books in my lifetime – almost one per year of my life.  Currently I am reading one that has been out there for a while but I just picked it up on sale (Dutch men can be like that).  It is authored by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and it is called, Cracking the Communication Code.

Pretty sure that I have shared before that my wife and I have been married now for 33 years.  I read books on marriage because I want to grow and keeping growing.  Do not think for a moment that an adventure will pass me by – no way.  I want everything possible from my marriage and more and I am not afraid to engage others in sharing what they have learned.

One key ingredient in a healthy marriage is the ability to say, as often as possible and as creatively as possible, I love you to each other.

My darling, you are lovely,
    so very lovely—my darling, you are lovely
    in every way. Your love is sweeter than wine. – Song of Solomon 4:1,7   CEV

Young women of Jerusalem,
    he is my lover and friend.  – Song of Solomon 5:16

So it is not that odd when I think of our Church family and in particular, my small group, in the same way.  If I am surrounded with faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love, then I too, as part of the Church family, should be growing in my love for them too.

My dear friends, we always have good reason to thank God for you, because your faith in God and your love for each other keep growing all the time. – 2 Thessalonians 1:3  CEV

That is a lot of loving.  It challenges me every morning to meet with God and tell Him how much I love Him too.  The one difference from my spouse and my Church family is that God always tells me He loves me too.  In fact, He sustains me with His love, carries my through the day, gives me the Holy Spirit to do what He asks me to do and mostly that means loving other people. What a joy to grow in my love of Him every day – He nourishes my life.

Father, thank you for meeting with me each time I call out Your name.  No matter where I am or what I am doing You come and enter my world and fill me with Your love.  I never have to operate out of my own energy or expect anything from anyone else – You alone are all I need.  Thank you for continue to change me, cause me to grow, for allowing me to see You differently each day.  You have blessed me with Your love and I am so very thankful.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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2 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 34; Romans 2

I have changed jobs/ministries over the past 30 years 6 times and as I enter my 31st year of ministry, I start my 7th place of ministry.

Everytime I find myself in transition, I dream of being asked to come back.  I dream that they will realize how much they miss me or need me and quickly find a way to bring me back.  I say dream because it never did happen. I kind of get what David went through when his own family members were not calling him back to serve as their king.

Say to the leaders of Judah, “Why are you the last tribe to think about bringing King David back home?  He is your brother, your own relative! Why haven’t you done anything to bring him back?” – 2 Samuel 19:11-12  CEV

One thing has happened though – somewhere along the way, maybe after 1 or 2 years of being away, I will hear things.  Sometimes they are direct and sometimes indirectly I will hear that it was wrong for them to let me walk away and they should have fought harder to keep me.  The reasons are really good reasons and most have to do with my character and walk with God. God tries to show me that He is my protector, He guides me and when it is my time to go, it is my time.  My character has nothing to do with it, He just wants to protect me and put me in the right place of ministry for that time.

If you honor the Lord,
    his angel will protect you.
 Discover for yourself
    that the Lord is kind.
    Come to him for protection,
    and you will be glad. – Psalm 34:7-8  CEV

Makes me think that maybe I forget to invite God back into my life after going through some of these life-changing transitions. Actually, this last transition was the worst. I had to leave a ministry before God opened the door to the next place.  His goodness was all I had. I turned to Him in ways I would never had done if I was in a safe place.

You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him? – Romans 2:3-4  CEV

Father, thank you for loving me even if when there are times I am not thinking of You.  Thank you for caring and protecting me even though I may feel I am not in a safe place.  Each step I take, I take with You.  So looking back, I see You moulding my character, making me into a better leader.  Basically, challenging me to lead others into Your incredible and life-changing presence.  I thank You for giving me this ministry. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Joshua 1-4; Psalm 143; Luke 14

When Jesus called me, He called all of me.  It all began when I was 12 years old and when I was 14, I completely surrendered to Him. I wanted everything God had for me, I wanted nothing in the way between Him and I.  I read the Bible everyday looking for ways to obey Him and follow Him just like Joshua did.  Joshua became a role model for me for many years.

Long ago I promised the ancestors of Israel that I would give this land to their descendants. So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law[b] he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land. – Joshua 1:6-8   CEV

My first spiritual dry experience came soon after when I was 15.  There was a long season of not praying and not reading my Bible – it seemed that everything that was relevant was not anymore.  In my boredom one day, I picked up one of my dad’s books called, Martyrs Mirror. It has a historical record of all the martyrs who had died for their faith beginning with the apostles and those from the early church.  Very early on in the book, probably the first five pages, I wept when I read of the passion of these early followers of Jesus and was ashamed that I had lost mine.

I remember to think about
the many things
    you did
    in years gone by.
 Then I lift my hands in prayer,
because my soul is a desert,
    thirsty for water from you. – Psalm 143:5-6   CEV

When I hit my knees to surrender myself, I gave Jesus my desires and my life.  It was then that I realized that I had really given Him my all.  It was never going to be my way, always His way and I realized that this was going to be the best adventure I could ever have. He had my life in the palm of His hand.

You cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own. – Luke 14:33

Father, You have never left me and You have walked with me in whatever circumstances I have been in.  You have seen me ashamed for having nothing, seen me embarrassed for being so small and little among others who know much more than I.  Yet, when I get on my knees before You, You make me feel like a giant, like I can do and accomplish anything because You walk with me.  I may not be like others, but when I walk with You, You walk with me and I am all that I need to be because You have called me to be Your child.  I love You for this and each new day is a day where I take Your hand and follow You. With a thankful heart.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Numbers 34-36; Luke 4

My wife and I are reintroducing ourselves to the television series starring the lawyer, Perry Mason. Reminds me how easy it is to judge and how critical it is for me not to.  I was always taught that my name was always a precious reputation but keeping that name is not always up to me. Just the idea that God knew I could be wrongfully accused and that He set up provision for these things makes me feel that my name nestled in the palm of His hand is the best place for me to be.

After you have crossed the Jordan River and are settled in Canaan,  choose Safe Towns, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection.  If the victim’s relatives think it was murder, they might try to take revenge.[c] Anyone accused of murder can run to one of these Safe Towns for protection and not be killed before a trial is held.  There are to be six of these Safe Towns,  three on each side of the Jordan River.  They will be places of protection for anyone who lives in Israel and accidentally kills someone. – Numbers 35:10-15  CEV

I grew up hearing stories of missionaries who shared stories of how angels came to the aid of those who were under attack.  Many quoted Psalm 91 and I am glad my mother made us kids memorize that Psalm at an early age. I have used it many times.  Satan tried to manipulate Jesus in the desert with the temptation of security and comfort in line with this whole idea.  Thankfully Jesus showed how to discern what real protection looked like.

The Scriptures say: ‘God will tell his angels to take care of you. They will catch you in their arms, and you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’” – Luke 4:10-11  CEV

I try not to put God to the test, but I have no fear when I walk a dark ally, or go across a vacant parking lot during the day or night.  Somehow I know it is not my time to go home and that God has a lot of work for me to do.  My wife says angels work on overtime when I leave the house.  I just preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit’s work as our Helper.  Fits right into this thought.  I believe our lives of peace come from leaving our hands in God’s – even when things are going terrible.  If I do not leave it in God’s hand, whose hand is big enough to hold it and keep it safe?

Father, I am thankful that You want to protect me and keep me safe.  I love the fact that You care for me very much.  Even so, there are days I start without You.  Forgive for those moments when I think my life is too important for You.

Erwin

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Exodus 38-40; Hebrews 1

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My wife and I celebrated a little bit earlier in the week.  We attended a Comedy Night sponsored by Focus on the Family.  Leland Klassen is one of my favourite comedians and he did not disappoint.

I still remember the day I gave my heart to Jesus, still one of my favourite memories when it comes to matters of the heart. He promised to be with me always, to never leave me, to guide me and lead me in my life and for His purposes.

Those moments I experienced were usually not as intense as when the children of Israel were crossing the desert, however, His peace was just as reassuring.

 No matter where the people traveled, the Lord was with them. Each day his cloud was over the tent, and each night a fire could be seen in the cloud. – Exodus 40:38   CEV

There is something about giving my heart to Jesus that changed quite a few things in my life – but today I will tell you two of them.

First, there was a change in me from how I viewed life.  I was a mean kid, made my older brother mad and made my younger brother cry.  I was a bully at school. Love has a way of reaching into an angry heart and soothing it.  Jesus gave me eyes like His and I saw things differently and saw the needs of others more clearly.

Secondly, I noticed I was different from others and others noticed I was different than them.  Often people would come up to me and ask me how I stayed happy even when they could see the world against me.  I would gladly tell them of Jesus.

You loved justice
    and hated evil,
and so I, your God,
    have chosen you.
I appointed you
and made you happier
    than any of your friends. – Hebrews 1:9  CEV

It is my prayer today, that as we celebrate with the one we love, that we remember the One who loved us first.  I have found my love for Him is an incredible foundation and reservoir of love for me to give away.

Father, thank you for loving so much and giving so much love that when You asked me to love I had more than enough to give away.  I do thank you so much for my wife.  I love her more than any other person and am so happy that she is part of my life.  Today, as I take a moment to remember the day You became the holder of my heart, my love for You knows no bounds.  How often the English language fails me in expressing my love for You.

Erwin

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