Use The Solar Path of Totality to Share the Path of Eternity

Use the Path to Totality to Share the Path to Etenrity helps put into perspective that God made both the sun and the moon and only He makes the total solar eclipse which lasts only a couple minutes but eternity is forever!

We live in a tiny mountain town in the “Path of Totality” for what many are calling “the great American eclipse” August 21. I even saw T-shirts with the moon eclipsing the sun and Charlie Brown and Linus sitting on the roof of the doghouse with large letters “Idaho Path of Totality.” Actually, the whole state of Idaho isn’t going to experience the total eclipse, not even partially, but hey, that’s marketing.

But we are going to experience it, and we’re so small that our city doesn’t appear on the map showing the coast-to-coast path of totality, but somehow people have learned it falls directly over us. And they’re coming! By the thousands to a town that’s barely 2000 residents, with one stop sign (not stop light) two lane and dirt roads, one gas station, a couple of small restaurants, the two small motels and B&B sold out for a year . . . you get the picture. There will be far more of them than there are of us.

People coming are willing to pay crazy prices to arrive, rent a room or cabin here or in surrounding cities, or at a nearby ski resort, even reserving seats on the ski lift during the eclipse. That’s the last place I would want to be! This is going on all along the “Path of Totality,” for an event that is only going to last two minutes!

I was reading an article by Zoe Schlanger, Witnessing an eclipse is so overwhelming it has created a global community of “addicts”. Schlanger interviewed “eclipse chasers” who admit it is addictive and a lifestyle of a “close-knit community of like-minded souls” who spend thousands of dollars and plan eclipse-watching trips. They describe the awe of what they call a life-changing experience.

Looking at the Eclipse Through God-Focused Eyes

I recently heard jokes that liberals were complaining the total eclipse was mainly passing over conservative states that voted for President Trump. As I looked closer at the map, with a few exceptions, like Oregon, that’s true. However, locals say the spot in Oregon used to be quite conservative.

That means many descending on our Midwest conservative cities will have the opportunity to see how the majority of Americans actually live. They’ll come and spend money, which will boost the economy of every city in the eclipse path, but we’ll also have a chance to shower them with hospitality, kindness, friendliness, and share Jesus with any who might not know Him as their life-changing Savior.

Regardless of what state you’re in, and whether or not you’ll see the eclipse, everyone should admit only God creates a total eclipse of the sun! He created the moon, the sun, the stars . . . the entire universe . . . and as hard as some will try to explain Him away, we can’t let that happen. Instead of participating in the hype of this great phenomena, we need to remind everyone that this is God’s doing.

Since the beginning of time, God ordained when and where all eclipses would happen. Scientists can study it, but they can’t change its course or change the effects. Only God.

Atheists can try to deny God and claim evolution, but they can’t explain who created their own body and breathed life into it. Only God.

God, the Creator of earth and all that’s in it decides when and where a total eclipse of the sun by the moon will happen. Only God.

What Can Christians Do to Put the Eclipse in Proper Perspective?

Where are the t-shirts, hats, and banners saying “Only God Can Make a Path of Total Eclipse”? Or maybe with Peanuts telling Linus, “God made the sun and the moon.”

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to view the eclipse, but I’m suggesting we use it as an opportunity to share the Creator of the universe and watch it with awe for our Great God.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

The Bible records a time in the Old Testament when King Hezekiah was dying and he begged God to give him more years of life. God said he would give him fifteen years and as proof God turned back the sun: “‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’ So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.” Isaiah 38:7-8

Then Hezekiah praised God in a testimony. Here is a portion of it—

In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness. Is. 38:17,19

Job gives testimony of the total control God has over the sun, moon, stars, day, and night . . .

If someone wanted to take God to court,[a]
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?

If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
and the stars won’t shine.
He alone has spread out the heavens
and marches on the waves of the sea.
He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.
10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles. Job 9:3-4, 7-10 NLT

Use the Eclipse to Share Jesus

Sometimes the first verses in the first chapter of the Bible are so familiar they lose their awe-inspiring, magnificent, amazing, indescribable impact that King Hezekiah and Job understood so well: our Holy God is totally responsible for everything in our universe. Now that’s a phenomena we all should be sharing and what better time than now?!

When the conversation turns to the eclipse, how about inserting discussion starters like:

  • Isn’t it amazing that God made this total eclipse happen right over us!
  • Since God created the sun and the moon, He decided August 21, 2017 was the exact time in history for another total eclipse across America. That’s incredible don’t you think?!
  • The eclipse is exciting, but it’s only going to last two minutes. As believers, we’ll spend eternity in heaven with God, the Creator of this eclipse. Now that’s something to get excited about!

“And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.” Deut. 4:9

If you received this blog by email, please leave a comment here.

Remember Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available for pre-order and release date is getting very close, September 12!

Love Your Body–Try Something New

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

All my life I haven’t liked Brussels Sprouts! They’re one of the few foods I’ve never acquired a taste for….until a few years ago!

When we were receiving organic fruits and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets, it was always a surprise what I’d find inside the box, and was I surprised to see a bag of Brussels Sprouts! Ugh, I thought. Who can I give these away to? But instead of giving them away, I asked my Facebook friends if they had any great recipes, mentioning that I don’t care for cooked cabbage, but I’ll eat it raw in fish tacos or coleslaw.

One of my FB friends posted a recipe for Chopped Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad. What? You could eat Brussels Sprouts raw? That thought had never entered my mind, but I try to eat as much raw as possible since that’s the best way to get all the nutrients.

This recipe had cranberries, blue cheese, and toasted pecans. How could I go wrong? And it was Super Bowl Sunday, so why not make it and try it out at the party we were attending. So I put those cute little round cabbage balls in the food processor and walla, it looked just like shredded cabbage. I tasted it…and oh my! What a different taste than cooked. I knew right then I was going to LOVE this salad–as did everyone at the party!

For those of you who shop at COSTCO, they’ve got a delicious fresh salad with cabbage, kale, Brussel Sprouts, and other goodies you mix together with a delicious salad dressing. I have some in the refrigerator right now!

So what’s the moral of my raw Brussels Sprouts salad story? As I was enjoying the delicious salad, the Lord reminded me that there were probably many other things…not just food…that I thought I didn’t like because I had only looked at them from one perspective.

How about you? Is there a person you don’t get along with? A food you’re sure will never touch your lips? A place you think you could never live? (As a native Californian, I would have never in a million years expected I would be living in the rural mountains of Idaho).

A color you would never wear? What’s on your “never-ever” list that you’d be open to looking at from another angle? What might you be missing if you didn’t?

Many people avoid God and Christianity because they’ve had a bad experience, and like me with Brussels Sprouts, they’re positively, absolutely convinced it’s not for them. Could you help someone in your life see God from a different perspective?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!–Psalm 34:8 NLT

Thompson’s B&B and Ministry Retreat

Write for God with website

Dave and I have always had a heart for turning our home into a refuge for friends and a retreat for couples in ministry. When we lived in Southern California, we bought our cabin in the mountains for that very purpose, along with using it for my writing retreat. I did more writing there than entertaining when we lived in So Cal, even though we repeatedly invited couples and family to come visit. But now that we’ve moved away, when we go back to the cabin, we’re “booked” solid. Funny how that happens more now that we’re gone then when we lived there. We’re just glad the Lord has allowed us to keep that cabin and use it for His glory.

When we moved to Idaho, our home has a basement apartment perfect for guests. Many friends and family have accepted our open invitation to visit and let us pamper them with food, fun, field trips, and peaceful relaxation.

A special treat has been opening our home to fellow authors/ speakers I know through AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association), or through networking among those of us in the ministry of writing and speaking. Even though we might not know each other well, we know that what we have in common as Christian writers and speakers is enough for us to have a blessed time together.

The adventure for my hubby, Dave, is that he has never met any of the authors and their husbands who come to stay with us. But he knows it’s going to be a great time because we’re fellow Christians and that’s enough to build a friendship and relationship.

I was talking to a friend who is not a believer and explaining how we’ve never spent time with, or in some cases even met, some of the guests coming to our home. She said, “Well you share the same morals and values so you know they’re not going to do you any harm.” I thought to myself, she gets it. Even though she’s not a Christian herself, she understands the camaraderie Dave and I share with fellow Christians and what a testimony this is to her and others.

The First Time

The first time I introduced my husband to the experience of hospitality with people neither of us knew was when we took a trip to Montana. I knew author/speaker Tricia Goyer lived in Montana at the time. So I contacted her online and said we would be visiting her town and suggested we meet for coffee. When we got into town and I called her, she invited us to come to her home for dinner instead of coffee. As we walked up to her front door, Dave said, “You’ve met Tricia before, right?” Chuckling, I said, “No, we’ve never met!” My husband was shocked and replied, “This should be an interesting evening.”

We both had the best time and stayed until almost midnight. After that wonderful experience, he has never hesitated when I say, “Guess who’s coming to stay with us for a few days?”

Opening Our Home to Traveling Friends and Authors

Kathi and Al Macias

Two years ago, author and speaker Kathi Macias and her hubby Al were coming through Idaho, and I invited them to stay with us. I knew Kathi, and had met Al at an AWSA conference where we discovered that we all attended the same high school. I was in the class ahead of them. We had a wonderful time during their visit with us, and Al and Dave quickly became great friends. When we visit our So Cal cabin, which is near the Macias’s home, they come to visit, and Al and Dave have even spent a day on the golf course together.

Bill and Pam Farrel

This past week, Pam and Bill Farrel, who have love-wise marriage ministry together, were speaking in Montana, and I invited them to spend a few days with us in Idaho. You guessed it . . . Dave had never met either of them before, but by now, he already knew it would be a great time. And so it was. The Farrels were coming off a speaking weekend and going home to face a home remodel, and hopeful sale of their home. They were so ready for a break, and that’s what we hope they experienced while here. We enjoyed our first float down the river with them, a mountain walk, and hours on the deck with deep and meaningful conversation, laughs, fellowship, ministry discussions, and again, making new forever friends in Christ.

floatingPam's collage

Recently, a friend from our Couple’s Bible study said, “You really have a lot of company.” We had hosted California friends in December and January, and always savor our times when the grandkids are here for a visit. Dave and I have truly come to know the blessing of the Apostle Paul’s advice: Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:9 NLT. We also have been the blessed recipients of cheerful hospitality from so many of our friends and family when we travel.

Dave and I offer our home and our hearts and invite friends, acquaintances, and fellow ministry workers for Christ to come and experience what we love about God’s beauty in our mountain paradise. Many have taken us up on that offer, and we pray that many more will enjoy what those who have visited call: “The Thompson’s 5 Star Bed and Breakfast.” But don’t worry; we’ll feed you three meals and snacks too!

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

You can read more about how God helped me become more hospitable and balance my Martha with my Mary, in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

MaryandMartha300dpi

Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God. Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

If you received this post in email, leave a comment here.

A Miracle Story of Love, Family, and Restoration

Ricky praising

Most Sunday mornings, Ricky was in the front row of church, sitting next to his parents Jean and Don. Often Ricky would accompany the worship team by playing the drums, strategically placed for him next to his front-row seat. I’m told that at one time, he joined the praise band on stage.

Ricky and drums

When Dave and I moved to Garden Valley and started attending Crouch Community Church, we didn’t know the history of the Brown family. We did, however, immediately see the love this senior couple had for each other—always holding hands—and for their adult son, Ricky, who occasionally had to have his drumsticks quieted after the music had stopped playing.

You see Ricky was a very special son, and as the church overflowed with family and friends at Ricky’s memorial last week, we learned more about just how special he was. If you have a special person in your life who can’t communicate clearly, or at all, there’s probably a depth of spirit like Ricky displayed in unique ways. God has a way of gifting these special people with love, compassion, and spiritual insight.

Enjoy Ricky’s miracle story, shared at his memorial service, and his family now shares with you:

 

Ricky Lee Brown born August 28, 1956, passed from the arms of his parents to the arms of Jesus on Saturday March 19, 2016, at the age of 59. Ricky left behind . . . for now . . . his parents, Don and Jean Brown, his sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi, and countless family and friends.

Ricky’s life story is one of restoration, the strong bond of a loving family, and the unending miracles of God.

Ricky is the firstborn, and only son, of Don and Jean Brown. At birth, he only weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz., and it took a month for him to gain enough weight to come home from the hospital. This was the beginning of nine and a half months in and out of hospitals.

During that time, doctors and family members suggested putting Ricky in Nampa State School. Doctors said with Ricky’s health and physical issues, he wouldn’t live past eleven or twelve and would never walk. With the overwhelming advice from doctors and family, Don and Jean went through the court system and made Ricky a ward of the state when he was 8 1/2 months old. It was the most painful thing that Don and Jean had ever done.

They visited Ricky regularly and introduced him to his three sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi. Right from the beginning, Ricky was compassionate. Jean remembers one time when he was in the state home, a baby started to cry. Ricky pulled himself with his arms over to the crib and patted the baby, trying to comfort it.

To everyone’s amazement, Ricky miraculously started walking at age eleven—the age doctors had predicted he wouldn’t live past—and he finally stopped running a persistent high fever. His sister, Cindy, started working at the Nampa State School in her late teens so she could spend more time with Ricky.

In his twenties, the family moved Ricky to a group home in the Boise area as part of a new program to try to teach life and work skills to disabled individuals. After Ricky’s three sisters left home, the Browns were able to visit Ricky more frequently.

Ricky loved classic country music and liked listening to it loud!

He also loved to tear apart anything he could get his hands on—radios, bikes, and in later years, his clothes. He loved to gas up the car, even if it was only to top it off.

Ricky could only put five words together, at most, but he used those words to ask people: if they were going to work? If they had a payday? And if they were going to church? Ricky’s happy smile and his thumbs up were his trademarks!

smiling RickyRicky thumbs up

Another Miracle

When Ricky was thirty-seven, he became extremely ill while still living in the group home, so Don and Jean made the decision to bring him home. Doctors told the Browns they would just be taking him home to die, but they said, “So be it. He’s our son, and we want him with us.”

By the grace of God and the help of family, they discovered that the current health problems were yeast related. Jean found a book on how to treat yeast with diet, and she became vigilant with Ricky’s diet and nursed him back to health. This same son, who doctors said would not live past eleven or twelve, would never walk, and was sent home at thirty-seven to die, fully recovered from the “terminal” illness! That’s what God, love, and family can do!

Don and Jean couldn’t bear the thought of giving Ricky up again, so he continued to live with them and they started the parenting season all over again. The Lord redeemed the years they lost while Ricky was in group homes, and they had twenty-three glorious years living together as family.

Ricky and sisters

Ricky’s relationship with his sisters and other family members flourished as he became a part of family reunions, jam sessions, weddings, and birthday parties. As a trio, Don, Jean, and Ricky traveled the country playing music and enjoying countless adventures. One of Ricky’s greatest loves was the drums. He had a set in his room and spent hours listening to music and playing along. He also spent hours tearing his drum set apart. He loved smashing cans and taking them to the recycling center for a “payday,” which he promptly put in the offering box at church.

Family picture

Ricky and Don on horse

 

Ricky and Don camping

As Ricky got older, he enjoyed putting together puzzles and sorting coins or Legos. Amazingly, he was able to put puzzles together picture-side down on the table. For someone doctors said wouldn’t live past eleven, and would surely die at thirty-seven, Ricky enjoyed a long life of almost 60 years surrounded by his loving family, friends, and community.

Ricky touched many lives with his joyful spirit and his love for Jesus. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Ricky was a great example of childlike innocent faith. We know that right now he is enthusiastically enjoying heaven.

*********

The Brown family hopes that Ricky’s miracle story has been a blessing to you, and especially an encouragement to all who have a “Ricky” in their life. If you have a story to share with the Browns, or want to tell them how their sweet restoration story touched you, please leave a comment to encourage them and pray for them as they grieve the loss of their beloved son.

If you received this blog by email, you can comment here.

How to Have a Date with Jesus

FullSizeRender-1 (2)Be My Valentine!

I know I don’t have to remind you that this Saturday is Valentine’s Day! A day we set aside for showing that special someone how much they mean to us. It can also be a difficult time for someone who doesn’t have an object of his or her affection to dote on or be the recipient of doting … but it doesn’t need to be a sad day for those who know Jesus as their First Love!

My First Prayer Garden

 Almost twenty years ago, the revelation hit me that even though I was happily married after being single for 17 years, my husband was not first in my love life, Jesus was. And shouldn’t I approach my special time with Jesus each day with the same attitude I would lavish on my earthly love, Dave. So I set about finding a special place to spend with my First Love every day and I called it my prayer garden. At this time, we were living in sunny Southern California so I could have my quiet time outside almost every day. I’ll share with you in a moment how I’ve carried on this date with Jesus in my new home of Idaho. Here is the story that I wrote in 2001 of how I initially created the special “date” atmosphere in California.

Thinking of Jesus as the lover of my soul and the One I love above all others, gave me the idea of creating a romantic atmosphere for my daily “Quiet Time” with Jesus. It needed all the touches of a special date. First, it must be quiet and free of interruptions, so that meant outside. Since my backyard is all cement, I arranged colorful potted plants in a shaded alcove of the patio and hung a humming bird feeder. I placed a chair for Jesus and a chair for me with a small table in the center for a romantic fragrant candle. I later added wind chimes, and my son-in-law made a waterfall. Walla I had a Prayer Garden.

 

My Prayer Garden

My Prayer Garden

My Date Bag with Jesus is always Packed

Then I pack a ‘date bag’ with my Bible, a journal, devotional, highlighters, pens, Post-it notes, current Bible Study, and oh yes, a lighter for the candle. One trip back into the house for something I forgot could be a major distraction. prayer garden 1

My “Date Bag” with Jesus

First thing every morning, I grab my cup of coffee, my date bag, a blanket or sweater if it is chilly, and head out for my date with Jesus in our Prayer Garden. Here is a major key to intimate time with my First Love—I shut the door to ALL interruptions. The answering machine gets the phone, and the family knows I am having my Jesus date when the Do Not Disturb sign is out.

When our date is finished, I repack my date bag and put it back in the same spot every time by the patio door so it is ready for tomorrow’s big date. If the weather is not good, Jesus and I curl up together on the couch, and I play soft instrumental worship music in the background.

To keep romance exciting, it’s good to vary the activities on dates, so I constantly add freshness to my Quiet Time with variety. Each Christmas, I pick out a new devotional for the coming year. I select one with an area for journaling love letters to the Lord. I start my Quiet Time date by praying the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18 and would never think of going into my day without this spiritual protection. I alternate working on my small group Bible studies or one I am doing for fun. Some years I read completely through the Bible, and other times, I leisurely enjoy the Scriptures.

At the end of our date, I sit back close my eyes and linger in conversational prayer, letting my First Love talk to me. He always whispers words of love and endearment as He reveals His plans, visions, and goals for us. Often, there are answers to prayers and questions, and many times, we just share a sweet silence. Like any wonderful date, I hate for it to end, but I know my First Love will be waiting eagerly for our special date tomorrow.

Idaho Quiet Times

Now that we live in Idaho with its four seasons, my Quiet Time locations change with the season: when the weather is nice, I’m out on the deck and when it’s snowing or cold I have a quiet time area right outside my office with a beautiful view out the window. I still have my Quiet Time bag packed and ready to go depending on where I’m having my date with Jesus. It’s my most favorite part of the day!

View from deck quiet times.

View from deck quiet times.

Indoors Quiet Time

Indoors Quiet Time

 

 

View from Indoor Quiet Time!Indoor Quiet Time View

How about you? Tell me about your dates with Jesus. Leave a comment below, or if you receive my blogs by email click and leave a comment.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a poem I wrote about my California Prayer Garden. Enjoy!

OUR PRAYER GARDEN

You wanted to meet me early in the morning

          In a place that was special to just you and me.

My heart was willing, and I had such a yearning

          To talk and be in your presence daily.


I began to arise just after the sun came up,

          And searched for a place where we could meet.

It had to be quiet where no one would interrupt,

          For the time that we shared would be so sweet.

 

I moved from room to room,

          As I tried to find the aura,

For you and me to just commune

          Every day at the same hour.

 

As we began to spend our time,

          I felt you nudging as I would pray:

“Our get-togethers need fresh air and sunshine.

          Let’s be amongst the beauty of the day.”

 

Of course, it was there all along.

          The table, the patio, the view–

I had all the makings for a Prayer Garden,

          But flowers were sadly very few.

 

A “green thumb” I have never been,

          But I knew this was the spot for us.

And it would not be a Prayer Garden,

          Without the ferns, oleanders and hibiscus.

 

A shopping trip to the nursery was fun,

          Even though I didn’t know what to buy.

Some flowers wanted shade and others liked sun,

          So I just bought what caught my eye.

 

Soon my garden was worthy of comment.

          The flower beds were colorful and in full blossom,

And the array of potted plants carpeted the cement.

          The transformation was truly awesome.

 

One final touch called out to me,

          Wind chimes to catch Your breath in the breeze.

A hummingbird feeder for quiet company,

          In the place where we will meet when ‘er You please.

Jesus, I know now why you sought a garden

          When you went to pray alone that night.

Amongst Your creation God’s presence is sovereign,              

          You just know God’s plans will turn out right.

Janet Thompson 7/17/96

 

Mamas Don’t Take Your Babies to Town

A River Runs Through Garden Valley, Idaho. Picture by Megan Griffith

A River Runs Through Garden Valley, Idaho. Picture by Megan Griffith

If you’ve been following my Monday Morning Blog, you know that I’ve had guest bloggers for the past few weeks while I was on the rode speaking in San Diego, CA and Billings, Montana. In both Southern California and Montana, we combined business with fun and visited with friends and family. I trust you enjoyed the different guest bloggers and the wide variety of topics discussed—all with the theme of mentoring from their experience and expertise.

It’s great to be home and hard at work on a new book, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember . . . Creating a Culture of Memories. If you have a story of forgetting God’s past goodness, and or ways that help you remember His goodness, please contact me for guidelines.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the title of today’s blog . . . nothing! I just want to say “Hey” and let you know where I’ve been and what I’m up to. But now, let me share with you something that is burdening my heart and does relate to this blog title.

Election Day—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This past Tuesday was election day, and I know many of you rejoiced with me when you saw how the conservatives came out in force and let their voice and vote for change in our government be heard. I went to bed thanking God that so many of us took a stand to put into office those we hope will honor and abide by the conservative moral agenda.

That was the good. The bad happened in my own little rural community in our “red” state. For several months, a liberal force was stirring up interest in taking steps to change Idaho law to allow legal gaming, otherwise known as gambling, in rural *Boise County where we live. There was a question on our ballots last week asking if we were for or against this effort. Of the six cities in rural Boise County, five voted to pursue changing the law and our little town of Garden Valley was one of the five. Only 220 votes differed in the total county vote, but enough to give the commissioners incentive to move forward.

As Dave and I traveled through Montana, a state that God created with such beauty and majesty where Dave and I almost moved, we again were saddened at how such an amazing state allowed the marring of its gorgeous landscape by garish and grotesque casino signs and billboards. Returning home, we now discover that our quiet picturesque community with a river running through it might suffer the same ill fate. Here is a picture of our precious town and the surrounding area. What do you think that’s going to look like with a glaring casino sign? Ugly!

God's Beautiful Creation!

God’s Beautiful Creation!

Crouch FranciscoThe Center of Town in Garden Valley, ID is Crouch

Does this look like a good fit for our little town? Naught!

Does this look like a good fit for our little town? Naught!

But it’s not just the marring of God’s creation that’s heartbreaking; it’s the moral degradation that accompanies gambling. They don’t call Las Vegas “sin city” for nothing or coin the term “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” No, God sees all the drinking, smoking, loss of money, drugs, prostitution, vulgarity, and debauchery that takes place on the strip.

And here’s the saddest part—Satan loves to make sin look enticing, fun, and justifiable so why not make an area of sin—the Las Vegas strip—a “family fun place” where you can bring the kids. Who could find fault with water slides, carrousels, and play areas? Except their surrounded by smoke, excessive drinking, gambling and loss of money, corruption, and risqué shows. It’s like taking a family vacation in Sodom and Gomorrah and we know what God thought about that city.

Or try to justify that gambling and lotteries will bring in money for schools. Really? That’s how we want to fund our schools? There’s no right way to do the wrong thing! And believe me, the owners of these casinos make far more money than a school will ever see.

The Purpose of Gambling is to Make Losers

Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hocking your house against a lucky chance. The time will come when you have to pay up; you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.

Proverbs 22:26-27 The Message

So back to our little town. The whole purpose of gambling is for the casino to make money—and the gambler to lose. Those big casino owners and backers are not philanthropist wanting to help the community and economy. They are business people wanting to make their fortune off all those gamblers sitting in casinos with blank looks on their faces feeding the slot machines or throwing down chips that represent their family’s sustenance.

Drinking, drugs, robbery, and crime accompany gambling when people lose money, which they will, and get angry or depressed and take it out on those around them or become a danger on the road when they get in their cars drunk, mad, and desperate. The adrenalin that flows during games of chance, gambling, quickly leads to addiction. Our quiet little town has all the potential to be inundated with, as the newspaper put it—a degradation of moral character.

**The Christian Perspective

The Bible calls for Christians to be good stewards of the finances that God has given us. Funding casinos is not being good stewards or storing up treasures in heaven. I don’t think a Christian would want to be sitting at a blackjack, craps, or poker table or a slot machine when Jesus returns.

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.Matthew 6:19-24 NLT

Some might say, “Oh we go to Vegas, but we never gamble.” Every dime spent there is funding all that happens there. “We must act all the time as if it were day. Keep away from wild parties and do not be drunk. Keep yourself free from sex sins and bad actions” (Romans 13:13 NLV).

Or “It’s just entertainment with discretionary funds.” How could it be entertaining to throw money away with nothing to show for it? I would advise Christians with that kind of discretionary “throw away money” to consider sponsoring a child through a Christian organization like World Vision or helping your church building fund or giving your pastor a bonus. Store up your treasures in heaven.

17 If a bird sees a trap being set,
it knows to stay away.
18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
it robs them of life.Proverbs 1:17-19 (NLT)

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. (Titus 2:1-6, The Message)

Please pray for Garden Valley Idaho. There are still many more steps to change the laws of Idaho to legalize gambling in Boise County, and Garden Valley could opt out even if it passes. Pray that the 50 voters that exceeded the “nay” votes in Garden Valley open their eyes to the travesty this would be for our precious little town. Pray that some would come to know Jesus through the many discussions that will ensue. Pray for spiritual and physical protection for those of us who oppose legalized gambling in Boise County.

Pray for Las Vegas, the Christians who live there, and those who are ministering to the many lost souls on the strip.

Pray for those of us who live in Boise County and want to maintain the peaceful quality of life that drew us to this pristine paradise where we feel safe bringing our babies and grandbabies to town!

*Note: The city of Boise is in Ada County and is not in Boise County. Boise County is comprised of rural: Idaho City, Placerville, Garden Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Lowman, and Mores Creek.

**To read more on a Christan Perspective of gambling, here are two links or do a Google search:

http://www.gty.org/blog/B110522/is-gambling-ok-dont-bet-on-it
http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/position_papers/pp_downloads/pp_4186_gambling.pdf

Also consider that it was the Roman soldiers–Jesus’ killers–who gambled for his clothes, not His followers . . .

Is Your Soul At Rest?

McCall Retreat

Our “Cabin” for Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat

This past weekend our church had its annual women’s retreat in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. We stayed in a retreat cabin on the lake and the weather was spectacular! We enjoyed early morning walks, kayaking, amazing meals out on the deck overlooking the lake, skits, karaoke, making new friends, and all the “slumber party” things we girls love to do.

But mostly we fellowshipped together, enjoyed worship time, the teaching of our speaker Phyllis Cook, and a Sunday morning devotional led by new friend, Athena Crowley. What a treat it was for me to just “be” and not have any specific role except to enjoy and refresh. I prayed that God would give me divine appointments and something to share with you today.

God is so faithful!

Divine Appointments

Have you ever prayed for divine appointments? I think God loves it when we do because He can really show up big time and He gets all the glory. I’ve written before about praying for divine appointments and how God has answered them for me in amazing ways and He didn’t disappoint this weekend:

1. The retreat speaker, Phyllis Cook, and I had never met so when we started talking she asked my name. When I said “Janet Thompson,” her face lit up in recognition, “I have one of your books.” She went on to explain that while a friend of hers from Israel was visiting, she wanted to buy Phyllis a book for her ministry at Meridian First Baptist Church where Phyllis’ husband pastors. Phyllis and her friend went to the local Christian bookstore and the friend chose my book The Team That Jesus Built and bought it for Phyllis. Phyllis and I marveled that God brought us together and we took this picture for Phyllis to send to her friend in Israel.

Phyllis Cook and me

Retreat speaker Phyllis Cook and me looking straight into the bright beautiful morning sun!

2. I felt God impressing on me to speak to a woman at the retreat, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time. The last morning, I said, God if You want me to do this You’re going to have to intervene. He did!

3. Our last meal, I sat next to a woman I had not met. We started chatting and I learned that she and her husband had just moved to Garden Valley in the summer. She heard about the retreat when they visited our church and decided to come. I invited her to our couples Bible study group and she was excited for them to join us.

4. I loved the gluten-free, honey, organic, pumpkin muffins that were on the snack table. Someone said that “Athena” made them. I had not met Athena, but as we started talking, she said, “Oh, you’re the author I was told to meet. Could I talk to you over dinner and discuss the book I’m writing?” We enjoyed a dinner of great food and “author” conversation.

Athena Crowley and me

Athena Crowley and me

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

When I called home Friday night, hubby prayed that I would have a time of rest and refueling as I prepare for a very busy fall of speaking and writing.

In God’s perfect providence, Phyllis Cook, our retreat speaker, chose Matthew 11:28-30 as her topic for the weekend:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The first night she talked about verse 28 as God’s invitation to rest, refreshment, and peace. Ahhh just what my husband had been praying for me.

The next morning, she helped us focus on verse 29 to find inner peace from Jesus’ example of gentleness, humbleness, forgiveness, and a servant attitude.

Her last session explored the paradox of taking on a yoke to find rest! Phyllis pointed out that Jesus’ yoke of humility is far lighter than trying to bear the yoke of pride and all of its manifestations.

Phyllis had us look at the yoke of pride. Are any of these weighing you down?

  • Complaining against God
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Anger, moodiness, impatience, rudeness
  • Perfectionism
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Seeking independence or control—my way
  • Devastated by criticism
  • Defensiveness or blame-shifting
  • Not having close relationships
  • Competitiveness that always has to win or be first (I added to this to the her list)
  • Can you think of more?

Here’s how Phyllis explained Jesus’ yoke of humility. Do you see why it’s light?

  • Trusting God’s character
  • Not questioning God
  • Focus on Christ
  • Lots of prayer
  • Thankfulness
  • Willing to wait, long suffering
  • Good listener
  • Serving
  • Teachable spirit
  • Repentance, asking forgiveness
  • Close-relationships
  • Letting others win or go first (I added this to her list)
  • Can you think of more?

I was at peace all weekend and felt an incredible sense of rest in my soul and my spirit. Even when my mind wandered to all I had to do when I returned home . . . including writing this blog . . . I couldn’t conjure up a single moment of anxiety!

Arise and Go About His Work

My soul being at rest does not mean it’s time to stop speaking and writing. Contraire! It means I continue on About His Work with renewed energy and focus. Our Sunday morning devotional by Athena Crowley, the sweet woman I mentioned above who made the delicious pumpkin muffins, confirmed God’s call on my life . . . but this was not just a call to me. This was a call to every Christian!

Athena read Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

From this passage, Athena shared that we are to arise from our “winters” of:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Our Own Interests

Because it’s springtime in our souls! God is calling His people into into a closer relationship with Him so that we can go out and share the light of His glory to others who need more of Him in their life . . . or don’t yet know Him.

The world is full of so many who are stumbling in darkness. God calls every Christian to be His flashlight to help the lost find their way into the light of His glory. If our light is going to shine brightly, we need to refresh, renew, and refuel!

Is your soul at rest?

Can you choose humility over pride?

Are you ready to arise and be God’s flashlight?

If yes, then start praying now for those divine appointments where God will use you in a lost and lonely world.

 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Beach Baptisms and More . . .

In last week’s blog, I shared the amazing vacation that Dave and I took with the Love Song Couples Getaway—our second vacation with this God-centered group. Read in two earlier blogs how we discovered this group and about our trips to Maui and the Bahamas. Both of these vacations overflowed with fun and friendships, but we also had great worship and Christian teaching that challenged us to strengthen our marriages and our walk with the Lord. On both trips, there was an invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior or rededicate your life, followed by beach baptisms.

On the beaches of Maui, 87 people, including a young boy passing by, were baptized in the ocean and 39 people were baptized in the Bahama’s ocean. What a celebration that was and an amazing memory for all those who experienced the joy of making a public statement of faith and for those of us who prayed for them and cheered them on.

Chad and Andrea Burnell  (Idaho Falls} being baptized by Pastor Jim Wright in the Bahamas

 

More new friends: Holly and Bob Isenberger (WY) Jackie and Steve Riley (WA) and Dave and me celebrating with Chad and Andrea after their beach baptism

 

Why Be Baptized?

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change of heart when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. We believe that Jesus is who He said He was—the Son of God who died to bear our sins so that we might have eternal life. We receive salvation by admitting we have sinned, asking for the Lord’s forgiveness, and believing that Jesus Christ died for our sins and arose three days later to offer eternal life with Him to those who believe:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Jesus said there was no other way. We cannot work our way into Heaven with good deeds and someone else cannot make the decision for us—not our parents, our spouses, our friends, or our church—it’s our personal decision. Only we can determine whether we believe in Jesus, and we need to be old enough to understand and acknowledge what it means to make Jesus Lord of our life.

 
Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist symbolized what Jesus was soon going to do for us on the cross—dying, being buried three days, and then rising again. Immersion water baptism of a person who has accepted Christ as their Savior, symbolizes dying with Christ to their old sinful life and rising up out of the water a new person in Christ.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Matthew 3:16

The baptism itself does not save us or make us Christians, just as wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make us married. The wedding ring shows the world we’re united with and committed to another person, so baptism tells the world we’re united with and committed to Christ.

Baptism is an expression of faith. You must be able to hear, understand, and reason. A christening or infant baptism is a choice made by the parents; a profession of faith baptism can only be made by someone old enough to make decisions for themselves. Peter explained at Pentecost,

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

There is a progression—we hear, believe, repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, then publicly profess our faith through baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

My Daughter and Granddaughter’s Baptism

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I talk about praying and fasting that my daughter Kim would want to be baptized after she accepted Jesus as her Savior. My husband Dave and I had the blessing of baptizing Kim and her fiancé Toby two weeks before their wedding. I said at the time, “You give your child their first birth, but what a joy to be part of her being born again in Christ and wanting the world to know!”

The day after we returned home from our Love Song Couples Getaway this year, my 8 year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, was baptized. Katelyn accepted Christ as her Savior last year at our churches VBS, and this year she was ready to be baptized. She’s been attending AWANA’s for three years and Sunday School on Sundays. Her parents felt she was now old enough to understand her decision to follow Christ and they had the honor of baptizing their daughter. Following is the precious video of Katelyn’s baptism—

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

 

Here is a picture of my son in law and new baby Sienna. I’m still trying to get the family picture to download…sorry about that.
Next month my husband and I take off for an adventure to Montana and Idaho. If you know of fun places there to see and visit please let me know. We are looking at a possible retirement spot near water, mountains and a cabin setting. Any ideas?
I’m on a 2 book deadline so have to get back to writing. Hope you are having a great summer…mine has flown by.
Blessings, Janet
PS I will be speaking for LifeWay at Max Lucado’s church in San Antonio Aug 22-23. If you would like to come go to www.lifeway.com and go to women’s events and Fully Loaded. I’ll be teaching on Woman to Woman Mentoring and The Team That Jesus Built.

http://womantowomanmentoring.com/2008/08/here-is-picture-of-my-son-in-law-and/