The Dust of the Rabbi

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Matthew 4:18-22
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Have you ever really considered these verses? Have you ever really thought about this invitation, and what it meant 2,000-plus years ago in the northern region of Israel that surrounded the Sea of Galilee?

These two groups of brothers were working in their families’ businesses, which is what Jewish boys often did when school wasn’t an option. Their fishing businesses provided both food and money to buy things they couldn’t provide for themselves. It was probably how their families had lived for generations.

Apparently, these boys weren’t that good at it because in Luke Chapter 5:5, it says that when Jesus came along, they had fished all night and not caught anything! Still, this guy Jesus, whom they may have heard about from their cousins the Zebedees when they were hanging around with John the Baptizer, made them an offer, and they dropped everything to follow him. James and John did the same!

They left everything! Their businesses, their families, their synagogue, and their communities. They left it all and walked into the unknown, an adventure that we still read about today!

They knew a little bit about what it was to follow a rabbi. There was a saying that a disciple “was to be covered by the dust of his rabbi.” This meant the disciple followed the rabbi so closely and imitated him so thoroughly that they were covered by the dust as the rabbi’s sandals stirred up the dirt. The disciple lived as the rabbi did, emulated his behavior, and sat under his wise teaching. But Jesus chose these brothers to be fishers of men. What a curious invitation!

Still they gave up convenience, comfort, and control to follow him, and what an adventure they had! Imagine following Jesus as he spoke the parables, healed the sick, cast out demons, and taught them how to pray and to trust in him and his Father. For three years, they followed him, and then one horrible day, the dream was over.

Who were they now, since their rabbi was gone, dead on a Roman cross? All that they had come to believe about him died that dark afternoon. Sunday changed all that when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, but John’s gospel says they returned to the Sea of Galilee and took up their old occupation (with the same dismal results). Jesus helped them out once more and then gave them their next job!

The adventure, along with the discomfort, inconvenience, and lack of control, continued! Through their efforts and God’s grace, over the next thirty to forty years, the greatest movement the world has ever known was born and nurtured: the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Questions:
What breaks your heart? Are you willing to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable, or out of control to begin to change it?

Next Steps:
When you find the thing that breaks your heart, pray about what God would have you do about it. Research the problem, and find a way you can begin to make a change. Think about this quote from Edward Everett Hale, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting us on this great adventure of knowing and following you! Even though what you ask might be uncomfortable or inconvenient at times, I pray that you grant me the courage to obey the opportunities you place before me, that I might know you and love you more through them. I am only one, but still I can do something. By your will and power may the something I do grow your kingdom here on earth. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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The Poster Child of Adventure

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What is your idea of living an adventurous life? Does the thought get you excited or make you cringe? For Nate Cook, high adventure included stripping off his clothes and every convenience, abandoning all comfort, and giving up control of every element in his environment. Me? I’m afraid of dead fish, so even the thought of spending time in “the wild” eating them freaks me out.

Why an adventure? Is it for fun? A change of scenery? To find out what you are really made of? Or is it bigger than that?

David, son of Jesse, was the youngest of eight sons and the overlooked runt of the litter. He was the shepherd of the family’s flock of sheep and goats. His job included guarding, guiding, and sitting around watching the flocks day after day. Alone. (See 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings for his story.)

David’s closest companion was the one true God. Nothing came between them with David’s shepherding lifestyle. He spent hours talking to God, writing him love letters called Psalms, and praying for the ability to serve and understand the Creator of the universe.

David was hardworking, a deep thinker, and fearless in a fight—think about taking on a lion or bear with a club to protect your sheep. And he was obedient to his father, Jesse, and his Lord.

One day, God sent his prophet Samuel to Jesse’s house to find and anoint the man God had chosen to be the king of Israel from among Jesse’s sons. God told Samuel that man would be, the seemingly least likely choice, David. Because he had a servant’s heart, David was God’s man. God was always at the center of his obedience and motivation.

You might say, from that day forward, David became the poster child for living a big, adventurous life. Sometime later, Jesse sent him to the front lines to deliver food to his brothers who were in King Saul’s army. When David arrived, he saw the king and the entire Israeli army standing on a hillside, overlooking the Elam Valley, paralyzed with fear while a giant of a man, named Goliath, taunted them every morning and night. Goliath was defying the army of the Living God of Israel.

David was furious that this pagan soldier would insult the Lord and defy the army of God and demanded to be allowed to fight Goliath. And so the adventure began! Ever since, the amazing career and life of David—described by God himself as “a man after my own heart” in Acts 13:22—have been immortalized in literature.

For the rest of his life, David continued risking life and limb against the enemies of God and Israel. His motivation? Serving the one true God.  Did he ever fail, ever sin? You bet. But he also begged God for forgiveness, turned from his sin, paid whatever price the Lord demanded as the cost for that sin, and continued to love and serve God until the end of his life. In other words, a life of great worth is one lived for the glory of God. Now that’s an adventure.

What’s your adventure?  I hope mine doesn’t include dead fish …

Questions:
Have you ever considered the possibility that serving God could be the greatest adventure of your life?

If so, how is your life reflecting that viewpoint?

If not, why?

Next Steps:
Ask God to give you clarity as to what he created you for by checking out the lives of some of the great heroes of the Bible. Pray for God to lead you into your own adventure serving him.

If you need help, call one of our campus pastors.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for making life about so much more than chores, jobs, and the day-to-day. I pray that you would help me live a life worthy of a child of God. Focus my perspective on you and whatever adventure you have for me, and give me the ability to be your servant all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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Who Am I?

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The daughter of Pharaoh found Moses floating down the river in a basket and adopted him. Although Moses was born a Hebrew, he grew up in the home of Pharaoh. As a young man, Moses witnessed an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. Moses killed the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). Fearing he would be found out, he ran away to Midian, leaving behind the convenience, comfort, and control of being the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. In Midian, Moses married, had a son, and lived a good and simple life.

Then one day, God spoke to Moses in the form of a burning bush. God told Moses, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt” (Exodus 3:7). Moses listened and was amazed by the bush that didn’t burn up. God spoke many things to Moses and then said, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10).

Moses didn’t want to go. He protested to God that the people wouldn’t believe him. But God promised to be with Moses, to convince the people and Pharaoh. So Moses decided to leave his life, again. He had faith in the power of God—Moses knew God would honor his promise.

Because Moses had witnessed the Egyptian cruelty imposed on the Hebrews, it likely made a significant impact on his decision to, once again, leave the convenience and comfort of his life and his family to venture out in faith. Moses once had enough compassion for the Hebrews that it caused him to take another man’s life. Now, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob was promising to be with him so that he could approach the situation with more power than he had ever known before. Although Moses didn’t cross over to the promised land, God was with him all the way, and the Hebrews were freed from slavery.

Being in a relationship with God makes all the difference when you’re faced with uncomfortable inconvenience or about to embark on an adventure. I look back over my life and remember situations in which God asked me to give up something in order to be a blessing to someone else. God’s blessings and bounty in my life are undeniable. I don’t deserve any of them, but Jesus made me worthy by dying on that cross for my sin. He can do the same for you and anyone who calls on his name!

Questions:
Is God calling you to give up some comfort or convenience to make a difference in the life of someone else? Do you have faith that God will fulfill his promises?

Next Steps:
Read the stories of Moses in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers. Think about the comfort and conveniences Moses had to let go of to follow God’s will. Meditate on what God has asked you to let go of to bless your life or for you to be a blessing.

Prayer:
God, you are my Father, most holy and worthy of my praise. Thank you for the courage it takes to let go of my own desire to make a difference in the life of another. Help me to see where you are at work in my surroundings and strengthen me to join you there. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, that my legacy would be as a servant of the most high God. This world, this country, these people need you. I lift them up to you Lord—have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and lead us in life everlasting.  Amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep. Julie loves her husband John and their combined five adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite activities are walking their two dogs and golfing. She loves sharing her faith and is grateful for the chance to be a LIO contributor.


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Noah Was a Hero

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When I hear the name Noah, the first thought that comes to mind is that he was the builder of the ark. Although this is true, Noah was much more—he was the only righteous man living on Earth. Because of Noah’s unwavering faith in God, God spared all living animals, Noah, and his family (eight people), and the planet itself. Can you even imagine living in a world where EVERYONE is evil to their core? How did Noah remain faithful? He walked closely with God.

Genesis 6:8-9
8 But Noah found favor with the Lord. 9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on the earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

Hebrews 11:7
It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Noah’s righteousness did not come from his character or self-control; it was his faith. Faith resides in your mind and heart but shows up in your walk with God. Even though experience was against the probability that the flood would occur, Noah was faithful. He left convention behind and embraced adventure as he followed the Lord’s commands.

During the weekend services, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder interviewed Nathan Cook, a participant on the show Naked and Afraid. He was dropped off in a jungle with nothing, not even the clothes on his back. He left everything behind to go on an adventure of survival.

In contrast, the adventure on which Noah embarked involved risk and had no guarantee of success, but he simply obeyed God. What did Noah leave behind? At the onset, he left the comfort of his daily routine to undertake the back-breaking task of building the ark. Once on the ark, he then left behind the comforts of his home, the conveniences of having necessities at his fingertips, and the control of everything he knew thus far in his life. By accepting the invitation to step into a bold and risky adventure Noah experienced something very meaningful and significant. Noah’s adventure was like no other and allowed him to experience God’s faithfulness and saving grace in an amazing way.

Questions:
Would you go on an adventure like Nathan? Would you go on an adventure like Noah? Was your response different? If so, why?

Next Steps:
Read Genesis 6-9 for the complete story of Noah and the ark. Pay close attention to how God’s heart changed from broken (Genesis 6:6) to compassionate (Genesis 8:21).

Prayer:
Dear Father in Heaven, give me wisdom to be like Noah. Thank you for the rainbow as a sign of your covenant to Christ followers. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for my sins. Help me to seek out unbelievers so I can introduce them to the life-changing adventure with you! In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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A Life-Changing Adventure

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During the weekend service, Ben interviewed Nate Cook, a CedarCreek attendee who experienced quite an adventure on the television show Naked and Afraid. CedarCreek’s mission is to introduce people to Jesus and the life-changing adventure with him. But what is an “adventure”?

An adventure, as Ben defined, is “a bold undertaking, usually involving danger and unknown risks, that leads to exciting new experiences.”

If adventures usually involve danger and unknown risks, that means there’s no guarantee of success or safety when you go on them. It’s enough to make some of us wonder, “Why should we go on an adventure at all?”

Personally, I’ve struggled with perfectionism most of my life. There have been times when I felt it was better to not try something at all, rather than risk failing at it—so part of me recoils at the idea of success not being guaranteed. Maybe you’re like me, or maybe the idea of safety not being guaranteed makes you anxious.

But you know what? The times I’ve decided to do something adventurous have led to some of the most life-changing experiences for me—experiences that shaped who I am, helped me grow in ways I couldn’t imagine, brought me closer to God, and honestly, completely altered the path I was on.

For example, in my senior year of high school, I applied for my college’s “Freshman Irish Studies Program.” I had lived in the same house, in the same small town, since I was three.  I had known many of my friends since elementary school, and some even since kindergarten. But if I was accepted into this program, I would spend my first semester of college (which was already a big shift for me) in a foreign country with a group of students I’d never met before.

I was accepted, and that experience changed my life forever. My own family still says I came back changed (in a good way), and nearly seven years later, the people I met on that trip are still some of my most trusted friends. Applying was scary, but it was the best decision I’ve made in my life, so far.

However, if we are looking to have adventurous opportunities following Jesus, there are things we need to surrender:

  • Convenience
  • Comfort
  • Control

Spending my first semester in a different country was not comfortable; it definitely wasn’t convenient; and there was a lot outside of my control. I had no idea what to expect. But looking back, I wouldn’t exchange that experience for anything—definitely not for those three Cs.

When you see that surrendering those things can lead to adventurous opportunities, it changes your perspective on uncomfortable, inconvenient, or uncontrollable experiences you might have previously avoided.

You start to realize what you might have thought of as an inconvenience, a threat, or underlying anxiety before is really an invitation to step into the bold and risky adventure in front of you—which can lead to experiences that are truly meaningful and fulfilling.

Over the next four days, we’ll look at four characters from the Bible and how they surrendered areas of convenience, comfort, and control by choosing to live by faith—and as a result, lived full and meaningful lives.

Questions:
Think of a time God called you into an adventure. Did you follow? What was the result?

What opportunities are you avoiding for the sake of your comfort, convenience, or control? What would it take to get you to take the step God is calling you to make?

Next Steps:
Read Matthew 16:25. Reflect on this verse and what it means to give up your life for Jesus’ sake. Write it down. Memorize it.

The next time you find yourself avoiding something for the sake of your comfort, convenience, or control, pause and ask yourself if God is calling you into an adventure. Pray and seek God’s direction.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the life-changing adventure you call us into. Thank you for being faithful and trustworthy—we know that no matter where you lead us, you’ll be there with us. Help us to listen for and follow your guidance. Teach us to surrender comfort, convenience, and control so we can follow the exciting plans you have for us. May your will be done in us and through us. Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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“How can we live in such a place?”

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This weekend, Barb Roose quoted Corrie ten Boom, who said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”

We can all learn from Corrie ten Boom’s life. She loved people and had compassion for those around her who were being persecuted. So much so that she put herself at risk to help them. Corrie and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in their home. Eventually, the Nazis discovered the Ten Boom’s house and arrested them. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Scheveningen prison, and then from Scheveningen to Herzogenbusch (a political concentration camp also known as Kamp Vught), and finally to the Ravensbrück concentration camp (a women’s labor camp in Germany).

We get a glimpse of how Corrie and her sister were able to live in the awful conditions at Ravensbrück through the story of a powerful conversation had by a group of women prisoners. One day, Corrie had had enough of the fleas biting her legs and said, “How can we live in such a place?” Betsie responded to her sister by sharing that God had given her the answer to her question in the Bible verse she had read that morning. Betsie’s proclamation gained the women’s attention, so they quickly took out their Bible and read from 1 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

After reading the verse, Corrie looked around at her awful surroundings. She saw a dirty room with wooden bunk beds full of cold, hungry, and sick women. She took in the terrible smell that couldn’t be escaped, and she felt her legs full of flea bites. But then, as she thought about that verse, she started to see all that she had to be thankful for. She saw her sister, who was there with her. She thought about the fact that there wasn’t an inspection upon their arrival, making it possible to smuggle in the Bible they held in their hands. And she saw a room full of women, hearing and learning about Jesus for the first time through that Bible.

After reading this verse, Corrie’s perspective completely changed. Her focus moved from the negative things about her surroundings to the many blessings she had. This shift was the answer to her question, “How can we live in such a place?” This weekend, Barb challenged us to put on our “gratitude glasses.” She asked us to look around our world and our surroundings and to begin choosing to see all the things that we have to be grateful for.

At first, you may not see it, or you may not see much. But the longer you wear your gratitude glasses, the more things will become evident to you. You will begin to see that there is reason to rejoice, no matter the season or circumstance you find yourself in. After all, if Corrie ten Boom could rejoice and be grateful in a place like the Ravensbrück concentration camp, surely, we can find a reason to rejoice today.

Questions:
Do you find yourself giving more weight to the negative experiences in your life or the positive experiences?

How can you take steps to change your perspective and put on your gratitude glasses?

Next Steps:
List three things that happened today or yesterday that you are thankful for, and share your answers with someone.

Read more about Corrie ten Boom’s story and how she learned to be grateful for the fleas.

Fill out the Friday’s section of the Summer Side of Life Journal.

Prayer:
Dear God, I have so much to be thankful for today. Because of you I have a reason to be grateful in every season and every circumstance. Forgive me for the times that I only see the negative around me, and help me to put on my gratitude glasses today so that I can see my many blessings. Father, use me to be a light and voice of thanksgiving to others so that we can rise above today’s challenges and honor you in the midst of them. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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More Than Religion

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What happens when a relationship becomes convenient? We tend to close ourselves off from giving and receiving the right kind of love. The same rings true when we compartmentalize our spirituality. Breaking our faith down into the category of “religion,” particularly formal ceremonies and rules,  may shield us but won’t deliver us from the darkness. When religion is only about doing or saying the right thing, it can stop us from chasing after God, who continuously chases after us. We can get stuck in a place where we only want something from God.

In Barb’s message, she talked about Thanksgetting vs. Thanksgiving. Thanksgetting is only thanking God when we want something in return. Thanksgiving is showing appreciation to the giver. Think about a time when you felt used or underappreciated. Did that cause you to place less value on that relationship?

I’ve been on both sides. I’m sure most of us have. That’s what makes us human. Often those relationships fade away, only to be repaired later, if we are lucky. Thankfully, we don’t need any luck to mend our relationship with God. He doesn’t hold a grudge. When we’re lost, he searches for us. When we are ready to be found, he turns on his light, which is more prominent than our wants. His love is unique.

Jeremiah 10:6-7
6 Lord, there is no one like you!
For you are great, and your name is full of power.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
and in all the kingdoms of the world,
there is no one like you.

Social media helps us reacquaint with friends from the past, but too often, we only use those platforms for likes and posting pictures. We don’t focus on building those relationships. It’s easy to hide from what brings us closer together. That’s how I see religion at times. Instead of focusing on a relationship with God, we focus on checking boxes, which keeps  us from receiving the love and protection of God, that we need from God to step out into the world. David Jeremiah said, “We need the one who causes us to fall on our knees. We need to rediscover our need for God.” We need to know his love is more than religion.

Questions:
Do you use religion to keep yourself from seeing the rest of the world? Dido you know that building a relationship with God is how we fullyto receive  his love?

Next Steps:
Be an everyday Christian. Grow your relationship with God by sharing his truth in your daily life. Reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ when you are hurting.

Fill out the Thursday’s section of the Summer Side of Life Journal.

Prayer:
God, quiet my anger during these tough times so I can share your love with the world. Open the eyes of those who have allowed darkness to keep them shut. Guide all of us as we lead our families and communities to do better. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Unmatched Loyalty

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It is amazing, the opportunities presented each day—both good and bad. Wouldn’t it be great if we could restart our bad days before they really turned awful? As soon as something negative happens, resist thinking, “It’s going to be one of THOSE days!” Instead, change the way you think before the (inevitable) next terrible thing happens, confirming your day is doomed. Embrace the mindset, “You can start your day over anytime you want to!”

Talk about negativity! During the weekend service, guest speaker Barb Roose unpacked the story found in Exodus 16. The Israelites, led by Moses and Aaron, are trekking in the wilderness. Their journey had already presented its share of challenges, and God had faithfully acted on their behalf each time. But another problem arose:

Exodus 16:3
“If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

Where was their gratitude? It was replaced by negativity and complaining. How quickly the Israelites forgot that God had overcome their previous obstacles. And … how quickly we forget, too. Worse yet, some of us may never notice his faithfulness.

In the June 4th post of LivingItOut, “Been Nudged,” I shared several of my own meaningful moments from October 2014. That year was a challenging year for me on many fronts, but God was with me every step, and his faithfulness still astounds me! He repeatedly demonstrated his devotion.

I could never have known when my mother, husband, and I dined together on June 20, 2014, that it would be the last time we would sit together for a meal. She had the misfortune of falling and breaking her right shoulder on June 22. Everyone, except God, was surprised when she passed on July 27—exactly five weeks after the meal we shared. God’s faithfulness frequently surfaced during her final five-week journey.

Mom had surgery on June 24. Her stay in the hospital was like a wild roller-coaster ride. Another untreated medical condition prolonged her stay, and she was very miserable most of the time.

I remember calling CedarCreek one morning to communicate my mom’s situation. Mom had made it perfectly clear she didn’t want a stranger doing her funeral service. There was no reason to think she would pass, but she had mentioned the “no stranger” scenario to me more than once.

On July 12, Mom transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. At last—the homestretch! Rehab began with much success. Everything was on the upswing!

I visited Mom on July 26 with a package in tow. It was a book—sent by its author—a preacher from that “state up north.” She was thrilled beyond description! Mom had touched his life when he was a BGSU student.

An early morning phone call on July 27 took me back to her bedside for several hours. Mom had experienced a horrific coughing spell, but when I left at 7:45 a.m., all was well. Another call came, and I made a second trip to her side. Upon my arrival, she turned to me saying, “Karen, oh, Karen. I want to die.” Without missing a beat, I prayed with her and for her, knowing our days are numbered. If this was her day, please make it effortless and peaceful. Shortly after, she was transported to the hospital and passed at 12:10 p.m.

I found myself contacting the preacher up north to report Mom had passed. God, in his undeniable faithfulness, brought this pastor from Mom’s past into her life at her passing. God honored my mother’s request—no stranger performed her funeral service.

God is ALWAYS faithful, whether we notice it or not. Thankfully, his faithfulness does not depend on us.

Questions:
What do you regularly complain about? Do you have a negative mindset? Do you need to start the practice of restarting your day?

Next Steps:
Stop and consider the basis of the complaining you do. Identify the root cause. Choose to dump the negative mindset. Choose to restart your day over whenever it is necessary. Ask God for strength and wisdom in recognizing his faithfulness to you.

Fill out the Wednesday’s section of the Summer Side of Life Journal.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, your faithfulness to me is undeniable. You have never left me when I have made a mess of things. You always offer guidance when I seek your help. You have never stopped loving me, even when I have been unfaithful to you or my priorities have been out of proper alignment. I am grateful that your faithfulness does not depend on me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.


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An Attitude of Gratitude

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Exodus 16:4          
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.

In 1984, the realization struck me: I am not the King of the Universe. No matter how much I wanted to be “large and in charge,” there would be situations in my life that I could not escape or alter—just endure.

I looked up and said, “If you do exist, Lord, I turn my life over to you.” And the great journey began.

In 2009, at the age of 60, my sweet husband of 22 years was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He died seven years later, having lived at home for all but eight months of those years. Even when he wasn’t well, he remained a blessing.

After the diagnosis, and even though we were devastated, we gave thanks to the Lord for all the good years and memories we shared—we didn’t waste time asking, “Why me?” We knew, God was in control, and we trusted him. Our duty was to be obedient and grateful for his presence through it all.

Throughout my husband’s illness, we found ourselves resting in the arms of the Lord as he handled every detail, heartbreak, and setback. He provided all the answers, people, and services, exactly when they were needed. Not a minute too soon or too late.

During the weekend service, author Barb Roose explained that just six weeks into the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land, they were whining about what a bad idea it was to leave Egypt (Exodus 16). They had already forgotten about the horrors of slavery, all God had done to make Pharaoh let them go, God holding back the Red Sea for 2 million people to cross the dry bottom, and how he subsequently released the water just as the Egyptian army (who was in hot pursuit) crossed.

We all forget to be grateful. We want what we want, when we want it, and we want it now. Since that rarely happens, life inevitably gets difficult, and we have to make a choice:

(1) Whine and work harder to return to “normal” (which also rarely happens).

OR

(2) Embrace that nothing is allowed in our lives that hasn’t passed through God’s hands first, and live in the peace of that knowledge.

We can save ourselves a lot of fear and angst by accepting his love and lordship over us as his beloved children. As the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:28, “… know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love

God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  God will provide.

Questions:
Are you choosing to trust God and stay grateful for all the circumstances in your life?  If not, why?

Next Steps:
Fill out the Tuesday’s section of the Summer Side of Life Journal.

Pray for God to show you his purpose in your struggle, and thank him for the opportunity to grow closer to him through all situations.

Google “Bible verses about gratitude,” and read them. Write down the verses that speak to your circumstances and put them in a place where you will see them throughout the day.

Prayer:
Father God, I praise your name. Since Adam and Eve chose knowing evil over trusting you, we have struggled with the consequences of sin. Thank you, Lord, for freeing us through your perfect son, Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for us, and then rose again, so that we may live forever to love and serve you with our lives. Please help me to remember that in all circumstances, you love me and use all things, good and bad, to grow me closer to you. In the unparalleled name of my savior, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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Leave a Comment?

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They’re Back!!!!

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I have a great life! I live in a beautiful condo on a golf course across from Maumee Bay. I am married to a generous, funny, supportive man. I get to spend winters in Florida near my daughter and her family. But this morning I woke up and saw a mayfly on my window and none of that mattered! All I could think about was the upcoming two weeks of messy, stinky, swarming bugs that descend upon those of us who live near the lake once or twice each summer. They had arrived! Seriously, is this what I’m going to focus on today? In the midst of my 1,000 blessings (actually, I’ve only gotten up to 210 so far), I’m going to focus on mayflies?

Well, scientists tell us that the presence of mayflies indicates the lake is healthy—so maybe mayflies are actually Blessing No. 211! See that? I just changed my perspective! Now instead of viewing the mayflies as a nuisance (well, they still are!), I am grateful because they are a sign of something good.

During the weekend service, speaker and author Barb Roose told us that we all have a “negativity bias.” We can’t help but see all that is wrong in our lives and the world. We don’t focus on the blessings, big and small, that we have. It takes intention and work (sometimes really hard work) to change our perspective—to look on the sunny side of life! I am grateful to God that I am generally an optimistic person. I feel sorry for those who have fallen into the habit of only looking at the negative side of any situation. It hurts my heart to know that they live under a cloud of negativity, which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Gratitude is giving thanks and passing that sense of appreciation along,” Barb said. Sometimes it is difficult to find something to be grateful for, especially under our current circumstances and in light of recent events. We need to change our perspective—take the focus off ourselves and put it back on God! By training ourselves to see God’s blessings in everyday things, we will also train ourselves to give God glory in all things.

Gratitude gives life. As Christians, we have so much to be thankful for, even when the day doesn’t seem so sunny, or should I say, summery.

John 16:33
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Questions:
What good gifts has God given you? How can you show your gratitude for them?


Next Steps:
Fill out the Monday’s section of the Summer Side of Life Journal.

Begin a gratitude journal. If you have been marking your moments this week, you already have a great start.

Listen to “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong United.

Prayer:
My dear Jesus, as I think about the song, “Another in the Fire,” it reminds me of how good you are to me, that you have stood with me every day of my life. You love me, you guide and protect me, and you bless me with wonderful gifts. When I look at where I was when you found me, and where I am today, how can I not fall on my knees in grateful worship? “Should I ever need reminding what power set me free, there is a grave that holds no body, and now that power lives in me.” I am grateful, Lord. Let my praise be a fragrant offering to you. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Tuesday evening. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media