The Other Lens

Today’s Reading: Luke 16: 1-13

At the beginning of August, my family held a family reunion which brought together family members that had not seen each other for more than 20 years. This was also important because this was the first time that the descendants from my great-great grandfather gathered together.  It was testament to the longevity of my great-great grandfather, who was born into slavery and his lineage.   In preparation for the reunion, I had several conversations with many members of my family.  One of these conversations with my second cousin, I received an education that I had forgotten. When we were younger, this cousin and I would play at our grandparents houses. While reminiscing, I mentioned that I was a “good kid”.  She quickly and promptly reminded me that I was a “little stinker” and if  things were not a certain way I would get mad.

When I was younger, my grandmother was a babysitter and a nanny for children. She would be available for parents to drop-off before work and pick-up after work.  She would take care of children in the early morning hours through the evening hours.  I would be at her house during these times as well. One particular time, it was early morning and I couldn’t get my way and I remember biting a friend. It’s a powerful memory because I remember the consequences of my actions and I believe I never bit anybody again.  Sometimes the actions and realities of our past can be forgotten or clouded from our present.  Sometimes the new person that God has created in us does not allow us to be burdened by our past mistakes and past lives.

Luke 16:1-13

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me?

In today’s chapter of Luke, Christ is showing us a shrewd manager and how this manager knew what to do and how to do it, but chose not to. In the previous examples,  I wanted to show you that we all have multiple lens that we can be viewed through. Many of us have a picture of who we are currently. This may be the same or can be different from what others see.  I have found that after many years of reflecting, re-examining, and repenting, I can see the goodness in me.  I can see myself in a different light than that little boy in the previous tale.  God has given us the ability to become renewed and a new being. After a long period of time, I remembered these instances in my early life that created the person who I am today.  I had those experiences to make me reflect on my behavior and how I interact with others. 

In our previous lives, we all have done a lot of things that are not the best. In our previous lives, we have hurt people. In our previous lives, we have done despicable things to ourselves and others. This is not to cover up or to be ashamed of who we were in the past, but to give us a new one perspective on who we were and what we did. God has wiped every sin away from us and has created us into new beings. 

Isaiah 43: 25 

“I, I am he

    who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,

    and I will not remember your sins.”

His forgiveness and he has changed us,  but he doesn’t want us to forget the lessons that we learn from the past. The lessons from the past helps us to be more compassionate to others and to understand their faults better.

How can we grow and go forward? How can we know what we’ve done in the past and what we will do in the future will affect our future. The manager or the steward  in the story knew what he did in the past. The steward knew how to be better. The steward had the resources to change his ways. What will we do with this new “lens” perspective?

Be Blessed

Going Fishing

I need Jesus. If I’m sincere, I need him a lot more than the amount of time I spend with Him now. I can’t quite figure out which one of the many human flaws keeps me from this daily surrender? ( Romans 3:23)  I’m grateful for His living word that can pierce my heart and draw me home. Hebrews 4:12

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

Verse 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Why did Simon say this? In reading comments on this verse, it shares how Jesus had spoken previously to Simon and Andrew. (John 1:40-42) They had heard and met Jesus previously but were too distracted by their business of fishing. ( I recall scenes of this in the series The Chosen- I would recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet) For myself, I connect with the start of school and getting everything ready. I think about worldly distractions that can come when you have young kids involved in various activities and two working parents in education—distracted by the world, distracted by focusing only on our jobs. Simon and had forgotten about the miracles that Jesus had performed. Still, Jesus pursued them and got their complete attention by filing their nets.

Have you been distracted lately? Have you forgotten the miracles Jesus has already performed in your life? I have at times. Thankfully, Jesus never stops pursuing us.

Verse 10-11 Then Jesus said to Simon, “ Don’t be afraid; from now on, you will fish for people”. 11 So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed Him.

The journey we all take closer to Him is incredible. Luke 5 reminded me of His miracles in my life and my lack of focus at times when the call of the world distracts me. Lord, I’m so grateful for every blessing you have provided in our lives. Let these miracles draw us closer to you. Thank you, Lord, for always pursuing me and helping me to become a fisher of others.

Kind, Kind Father

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

He is Kind to the ungrateful.

Am I kind to the ungrateful? Or do I mostly love those that love me back? Do I extend mercy to others, the same mercy that God extends to me? When I think of the mercy he has shown me, wow. He is a kind, kind Father. 

This week’s passage challenged me, and I spent time taking inventory of my relationships (especially the tough ones), and what they would look like if my kindness matched our Father’s.

The world says “fake it till you make it”…I have a friend that says Faith It Till You Feel It. What a great approach to showing kindness to those that can’t repay it, blessing those that say bad things about us, or praying for those that mistreat us. We can take that step in faith to show love and kindness, and ask God to change our hearts, the situation, all of it. C.S. Lewis says it this way in his book, Mere Christianity: Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

A lot of relationships are complex and need help, healing, and boundaries. A small act of kindness can be a place to start. It won’t fix everything, but it just might align our hearts to be more like the Lord’s.

Celebrating THE Baby

Three weeks after Christmas, on a day we were putting away some Christmas decorations, our family was studying Hebrews 8. As I was listening to the verses being read, I was overcome with joy of the Good News being described. At the conclusion of the chapter, I shouted HALLELUJAH!, leading to a surprised and puzzled six year old.

This chapter describes Jesus as the new, better, eternal covenant for God’s people! Hallelujah – to God be praised!! As best I could, I explained to my son why this is amazing news for us. God is so merciful!

When we look at Luke 2, our passage for today’s journal entry focuses on Jesus as a baby. He’s born in Bethlehem and the very next thing is the angel and heavenly hosts appear to the shepherds, share the news, and proclaim Glory to God! The shepherds went and found baby Jesus and then they shared this with others and praised God!

Christmas is a season that draws our hearts to the Lord and closer to one another, and is an opportunity to celebrate the Good News of who Jesus is, and how he came to save us. In general, babies represent hope for the future, newness and freshness, the miracle of life. And Jesus as a baby brings us so much more than that. Each year I’m challenged to keep Christmas in our hearts a bit longer, and not let the excitement of the good news be put away when the nativity is carefully packaged back up, when we take down the tree, and all the celebrations are over.

I love the example that the angels and shepherds gave us at the birth of Jesus – they wasted no time in telling others and praising the Lord!  In a few months we will celebrate and remember this perfect and complete gift from God, as Jesus becomes our sacrifice and then defeats the grave. Between now and then, will you join me in keeping the excitement and gratitude of this gift alive? What are some practical ways we can continue to share and worship like the angels and shepherds did? I’d love some ideas from others!



Savior Baby

Nineteen years ago, Adam Nash was born. His birth was meticulously planned and while his parents always wanted another child, he was brought into the world with an additional purpose: to provide cord blood to his older sister, dying of Fanconi Anaemia. It was a medical success, and since then there have been more children conceived through IVF, carrying specific genetic makeup to provide for sick siblings. Isn’t science mind-blowing? As you can imagine, this brought up a lot of ethical and moral questions. News articles, interviews, books and movies have all followed these cases and told their stories. They’ve coined these genetically designed children as Savior Siblings and Savior Babies.

I’ve only read a few articles, am not an expert or speaking from a specific position. I am so grateful that I’ve never had to weigh options like this to save my child. The articles I’ve read span in language, from “win-win” to “commoditizing children”.

When we come to Luke 1:31-33 we find Mary, being informed that she will give birth to the Son of the Lord God. We don’t know exactly when it was revealed to Mary that this meant he was the Messiah and Savior (Hebrews 10 gives some additional insight). God came to earth, in perfect flesh with a body to make atonement for our sins. The planned Redeemer was born to walk with us, teach us, and die for us.

As we enjoy our Christmas celebrations and see the nativity sets with baby Jesus in the Manger, host Jesus Birthday parties, and rejoice with song and be merry… let’s also remember that He came for one purpose. For you and for me.

Our family has been doing a daily devotion together of the Names of Jesus. He’s the Way, the Root of David, the Good Shepard, the Alpha and Omega, to name a few of the twenty-nine name. As we’ve been reading about each of these, I’m humbled at the fullness of Jesus as a human and all the while coming with the purpose to reunite me with God. To secure my eternity in heaven through the redemption of my sins. The picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to his Father to take the cup from him shows his flesh. The fully human side of Jesus knew the suffering he would endure on the cross. He was born that night in the stable, completely aware of the physical and emotional anguish he would go through.

Baby Jesus in the manger, is our Guide, our Friend, our Healer, He was born to be our Savior and our Sacrifice.

Plot Twist

There’s a man I know, and from early on in childhood he loved to learn. He was so fascinated by facts and figuring things out, that his parents couldn’t keep up with him. For his 5thbirthday, he asked for notebooks and pencils so he could take notes about his favorite topics. He was one of those kids that asked endless  why and how questions. In adolescence, he became especially curious about science and the human body. As he got older, he studied and learned as much as he could, eventually going to medical school and becoming a physician. He was a well-respected doctor in his field, when suddenly his life took an unexpected turn.

Plot twist – he becomes an author!

And I don’t even know if he wanted to make this change, but one thing led to another and he found himself meticulously documenting, describing, and getting everything written down that he could. His love for medicine didn’t wain, but he was so pre-occupied with this project, that practicing medicine became secondary.  He went from saving lives to writing about people’s lives, becoming a biographer and historian. He wasn’t sure why he, a doctor, was supposed to walk away from his practice and become an author, nor did he know the impact this change in direction would have. Nonetheless, he went.

He became one of the most successful, sought after authors in the world. EVER. There’s only two other authors that are more successful than him, by the world’s standards.

Meet Luke.

Biographer of Jesus and also the Apostles of the early church. His ‘project’ was advancing the gospel through truth-telling. Facts, documentation, historical accounts of salvation through Jesus.

We really know so little about Luke, and the first two paragraphs above describe my guess of what his life may have been like. Since he was such a humble servant, he kept the focus where the Holy Spirit led him: the gospel of Jesus. While we don’t have the details on his background or conversion, we do know the most important thing about him – he was a follower of Jesus. He was highly educated and trained as a physician, with great attention to detail and fact gathering. Christian tradition holds that he also drew and painted to go along with the books he wrote. He is also the largest contributor to the New Testament (Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles), only surpassed in the Old Testament by Moses and Ezra. The Bible was written by God, and these writers were called to get the words on the page. What an amazing testimony through his faith and obedience, Luke influenced generations and generations to come.  The Bible is the most read, purchased, or copied book ever in history, and Luke was one of the top three leading writers!

One of the few and final pieces of information we have recorded about Luke is from Paul’s second and final letter to Timothy. In Chapter four he notes that only Luke is still with him in the ministry, as all of his other ministry partners have scattered. This is believed to be the last letter that Paul wrote, and he was killed shortly after.

Luke seemed so focused and impassioned to advance the gospel, that his own life, career, desires were in the background. From the outside looking in, it seems like a major life change and plot twist, and Luke doesn’t even mention it!

This is so inspiring to me, someone who likes to be on a path and moving toward a certain direction. When the “plot twists” in my life come, I usually make my thoughts on it pretty well-known. Why??? When I break it all down, the goals are the same, no matter how God decides to get me there: Salvation and glorifying God. Whether that’s through motherhood, being a physician or author, being a friend, sharing the gospel with a stranger… what may feel like a plot twist in my world, is just God’s way of accomplishing his ultimate goal. Is God calling you to something that feels like a big plot twist?

If you have time this week, do some digging and get inspired by Luke. I loved reading in my study Bible about his writing style, where he’s mentioned, etc. You can find Paul’s two other brief mentions of him in Colossians 4 and Philemon 1. It was also special to read how Luke and Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’s birth come together and bring the real event to life.

What are you discussing?

Good Morning Bible Journal family, I  hope your day has started well or I’m getting the opportunity to tell you it is going to, just because you are intentionally taking the time to be in the word today!  I love the opportunity to read God’s word and take in valuable insights and nuggets of information to reflect and apply into my own life.  Enjoy reading through Luke 24 today.  The last chapter of Luke, a timeless reminder of the promise Jesus made and kept when he said he would be defeat the grave and rise again 3 days later. The story of man who were first hand witnesses.

In focusing on Jesus’s word throughout our scripture reading I’m reminded about the  art of face-to face conversations.  The opportunity to listen, reflect, support, and encourage. Two people are walking together after finding out about the death of Jesus. Jesus the comes alongside them and In the NIV translation, Jesus says, ” What are you discussing?”  the ESV or King James says, “What things?”    For me it can be, my kids behaviors, the health of my wife, the daily situations of my job, the overwhelming feeling of writing for classes, my kids sports, or at times my faith. It can be politics (timely), weather, money for bills, baby clothes…the list goes on.  These are all topics that I can and have found myself discussing the last couple weeks.  I’m reminded how fast our mind can forget, shift, and/or be lead by our circumstances or pressures of the world.  In Luke 24, why are so many surprised? He had been telling everyone along the way.

Paul is an excellent example  of character of not being swayed by his circumstance.  Paul faced persecution, torture, and told he would get killed.  Paul’s response was Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

These four words, “What are you discussing? ” spoke to me as I read through today’s reading.  I reflected on my conversations and thought about, ” What I had been discussing with others and why? Was it about a closer relationship with God?  Do I remind myself and others? about these priceless which can bring pure joy, yet the pressures I put on myself and lean towards the world can have me discussing my lack of superficial happiness based on circumstances where true joy comes through Him.  Out of all my conversations are the ones about how Jesus has changed my life present? Honestly, not as much as I like, not as much as they should be.  I’m sorry Lord for my lack of belief in all things are through you.  I pray for my words, thoughts, and discussions to have a focus that includes you.  Whether alone, with my family, friends, at work, or with strangers.  Will I discuss you? what would it look like if I did more?

Just like the promise that Jesus made to us that He would rise again three days later.  Jesus says he is coming back to take us back to His Kingdom forever.  Are you ready? Are we having conversations to let others know about this promise? I pray that we are having more of these conversations. Instead of the nervousness that come with these conversations… think of the joy and opportunity for an eternal difference you can make through your discussion.

So I reflect and ask again, what are you discussing?

Acts 4:20  Peter and John said to the religious leaders, For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. What amazing things has Jesus done in your life. Use this as a platform to share with others.

Have great discussions today!

Blessings , DL

God Won’t Contradict Himself

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you a specific direction or sign?

Or maybe deep down you knew what the right decision was, but you were hoping and praying God would show you a different (easier) way? I mean, maybe God will just give you a “feeling” to go off script for a bit. Or maybe we just want Him to tell us (again) what He’s already told us.

I find myself praying for wisdom and direction A LOT. And then I find myself praying for wisdom on when I need to pray more, or when I need to move forward with what I know from the Word or what the Holy Spirit is pressing upon me.

Here’s something cool about God: He doesn’t contradict Himself. He’s not trying to confuse us, or make His will a mystery. Salvation isn’t some puzzle or choose-your-own-adventure book. God desires us to know Him – all of Him. The more we know Him, the more we will understand His ways and the best path.

Knowing Him includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all acting as one. And John 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. So the Word (the Scriptures in the Bible) is in lockstep with God.

My third grader has been studying math properties the past few weeks. You know, commutative, distributive, associative, etc. 2×3=3×2, (2×3)x4 = 2x(3×4), and 2x(3+4)=(2×3)+(2×4).

I don’t know what this property would be called, but here goes:

God = Word (from John 1)

God = Jesus = Holy Spirit (from the trinity, 1 John 5:8)

Holy Spirit = Word

So what does this mean? This means that God doesn’t contradict Himself. And the Holy Spirit will not direct us in a way that is contrary to what the Bible says. He doesn’t go “off script”.

The Holy Spirit won’t give you a peace to continue in sin. The world tries to manufacture peace in all sorts of ways – but true peace only comes from God.

As we pray for direction, approval, wisdom for an area of our life, let’s also simultaneously seek the Word. Let’s pray for God to direct us to scripture to help us find the answer. Let’s pray for understanding of the Word. Let’s pray for boldness and obedience to follow the Word, without looking for an excuse or contrary direction.

In the second half of Luke 16, Jesus shares the story of The Rich Man & Lazarus with his disciples and the Pharisees. There are so many fascinating pieces to this story, and the very end is what challenged me to leverage the Living Word for direction in a bigger way. Don’t wait for some sign or God to send someone to me from Heaven… but use the Living Word today.

Take a moment and read through this chapter – the Rich Man finds himself miserable in hell (his Jewish lineage didn’t save him) and begs for Lazarus (in heaven) to raise from the dead and be sent to go warn his family that hell is real and to repent of their sin.  Jesus tells them that the answer is no – his family has Moses + the Prophets (representing the Word of God) and that should be more convincing than a dead man telling them or giving them a sign. They’re either going to read the true Word and follow God, or they’re not.

OUCH – that was a zinger for me and really made me look back and wonder how often I ask God for a sign or direction on something He has already told me in His Living Word. Or maybe a time I was hoping for a looser interpretation or a loophole to something in the Bible. God’s just got to be up there laughing at me! “Ummm… Holly-Rae, quit asking me for directions when they’re sitting on that shelf five feet from you!”

What a waste when I:

  • Pray for direction that isn’t aligned with the Word
  • Look for a sign when I have the red letters in front of my face

Jesus tells us very clearly in this text that no sign (dead man – back to life – warning) will be given. We have the Living Word! Let’s use it, learn it, and allow it to guide us. The Holy Spirit is here to help us and aligns with the Word – let’s not confuse His voice for any other voices in the world!

Up next – Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally – KIDDING

Continual Prayer

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Today’s Reading: Luke 12

Our last few posts have included the importance of prayer.  How have these chapters engaged and enhanced your focus on prayer? While I have reflected on prayer, I think about how my daily prayers can include praying for growing in a relationship with our Lord personally, for family, friends, and those still lost.  Many times these prayers can have a focus on current circumstances I’m going through or ones that have been shared.  One of my continual prayers is found at the beginning of todays reading. Speaking to me, really, convicting me, is the first couple verses of Luke. Enjoy reading through Luke 12 as it is filled with so many warnings and encouragements.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

We have written on hypocrisy many times throughout bible journal the last few years. If you would like to read some more look up hypocrisy in the search box. One of the last ones I wrote about I reflected on was, ” Do as I say, not as I do. “

Today, my heart reminded me of the Pharisees, wanting to appear to look good on the outside, yet on the inside their hearts were far from God.  Their selfishness was growing like yeast.  It’s scary when I think how selfish I can be at times, the continual private prayer I have is to have this awareness when my selfishness can creep in and avoid the temptation.  So when I looked back at one of my study bibles on this topic it reminded me about these possible signs to avoid.  Hypocrisy is knowing the truth but not obeying it.  People can say they follow Him, yet not obey.  My simple prayer is to obey.  Hypocrisy can include a self-serving life.  Leading should be not about control or position, but serving others. Hypocrisy can include an outward conformity without an inner reality.  Saying one thing…and doing another.  Honestly, I’ve fallen short many times. It’s hard to admit.  Thankfully Romans 5:8 reminds me that Jesus loved us so much, that he died for us, while we were still sinners.  That daily we can ask God to search us, see if there is anything offensive in us, and lead us closer to Him. Psalm 139:24.

Dear God,

I pray to help us live rightly.  To simply obey. Lord help us to be aware of all the ways the world can pull us away from you. Help us to focus on your words of truth that can will keep our paths straight, in your light, and away from hypocrisy.  God we know that there is nothing we do or say that you don’t already know or see. Help us to take up our cross daily and submit to you.  We love you Lord and thank you for your words today that will be implanted in our hearts and minds today.  Amen


Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

Waiting For The Word/

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.