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Monday, November 14, 2011

Where "Off the Beaten Path" Has Taken Me Lately

I thought I'd take the time this week to catch you up on what I've been up to lately. Off the Beaten Path Ministries has opened some new avenues for me recently and I've been having a blast.

Two Saturdays ago I had the opportunity to spend a lovely morning with the ladies of La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. I'm ashamed to say that the only pictures I managed to get that day were of the lovely banquet hall. Once the ladies arrived, things got crazy and my camera never saw the light of day again.


I had every intention of snapping photos of the ladies I sat with, the women's pastor Jenine, my hostess Sandy, and Priscilla, who "womaned" my book table for me. They were some of the most gracious, beautiful, and lovely women I have ever worked with. One thing you can count on in Arizona is that the women in your audience will all be having an exceptionally good hair day. Every day is a good hair day in Arizona! And these ladies certainly all had lovely hair, but they also had equally beautiful spirits. I was so impressed with the spirit at this event.


Again, I apologize for showing you pictures of empty tables. They were all filled with women decked out in their Christmas finery ready to bring in the season.

I had been asked to speak on my very favorite topic: how Jesus, the bread of life, satisfies our souls. But, because this was a Christmas brunch, I took a Christmas spin on the subject and entitled the message "Lord, Fill My Stocking!"

We talked about how our children anticipate the filling of their Christmas stockings each year and how we can, likewise, anticipate God filling our hungry souls with good things.

"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good!"
(Psalm 107:8-9)

Here's what we learn from how our children get their Christmas stockings filled with good things:

  1. They don't try to fill their own stockings. They leave that completely to Santa. We likewise need to quit trying to feed our own hungry souls. When we try to satisfy our own souls we end up munching on the unhealthy fare of this world, the dangerous diet of our flesh, and, bottom line, that which is far below the quality of the King's table. We need to leave the filling of our souls up to the One who created us with hungry souls to begin with: our God.
  2. They put their stockings out to be filled. We must also ask Jesus, the bread of life, to satisfy our souls. That step requires that we believe He is who He says He is and that He can do what He promises to do for us. When we truly believe those two things, we will hold out our hungry souls to Him just as our anxious children lay out their empty stockings in anticipation for Santa's goodies.
  3. Our children anticipate good things to fill their stockings the next morning. Do we have the same kind of anticipating faith? Do we believe in God's goodness so much that we anxiously await His filling and resist the temptation to run to things of our own devices?
  4. Our children lay out their stockings and go to sleep! Or at least we encourage them to. And if they have trouble sleeping, it's not because they are skeptical that Santa will visit. Their sleeplessness is more likely attributed to the fact that they are so excited they can barely close their hopeful eyes! When we ask God to fill our hungry souls with good things like unconditional love, significance, security, joy, comfort, and peace, we, too, can rest in His faithful provision. We can cease our labors with which we have tried to fill our own hungers, and rest with sweet expectancy.
  5. Our children finally enjoy the bounty of their hopeful requests. Their stockings are filled and just as quickly emptied as they pour out their loot with excitement. We too can expect God to fill our souls with something that truly satisfies and doesn't leave us wanting: His Holy Word. God's Word, meditated on and memorized, satisfies even better than candy or a juicy orange (which is what my children find in the toe of their stockings). When we eat God's Word it seeps into every nook and cranny of our souls and satisfies like nourishing milk and sweet, rich honey. It's lip-smacking good.
So does that sound like a good plan to you? I encourage us all this Christmas to take a cue from our children and ask God to fill our stockings souls with what is good!

To the ladies of la Casa de Cristo, thank you so much for sharing your gracious hospitality with me. You were truly a Christmas blessing!

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about my newest book, which was published this past week! And there will probably be a give-away involved, so bring your friends with you tomorrow!

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