Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments



Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”  ~ Joshua 5:13
 
I think this is a reasonable question.  The Israelites had just ended forty years of wandering in the desert and were preparing for their first battle.  It's important to note that none of Joshua's men were warriors and all of them were recovering from their recent circumcision.  Yes, it was important for Joshua to know just whose side this man was on, so I'm sure the answer he received was more than a bit startling.

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”  ~ Joshua 5:14
 
The commander of the Lord's army is in fact Jesus, which is why He then instructs Joshua to remove his sandals; he is standing on holy ground.  Joshua did so, and I can only imagine the awe he felt bowing before the Lord Himself!

Once he recovered from the experience, perhaps a considerable time later if he's anything like me, I wonder if he was a bit shaken by the content of the message.  If God was sending me into battle and didn't come right out and say he was on my side, I'd find that more than a bit disconcerting. 

So if these were God's people, and God is the one leading them into battle, why does He say He's on neither side?  Could it be because the lines aren't drawn as neatly as we'd like to think?

God is for those created in His image, but He is vehemently opposed to sin.  God was for His people, the Israelites, but He was against the sin of the Israelite Achan (Joshua 7).  God was against the sin of the inhabitants of Jericho but He was for Jericho resident Rahab, who acted favorably on behalf of His people (Joshua 6:22-23).

So, is God for the Democrats or the Republicans in this upcoming election?



Given the precedent set in the book of Joshua, I think it's safe to say, "Neither."  If God doesn't declare a "side" as His chosen people battle the pagan residents of the Promised Land, it's not likely He's going to do so now either.  We, however, need to choose - not necessarily a party, but a candidate.   And as Christians, our choice should be based on the truth found in God's Word.  

While there isn't much about voting in the Bible, mainly because nations were ruled by kings and the average person didn't have a voice, we can look to Scripture to determine where God stands on particular issues.    For instance, God's position on the value of human life is very clear, as is the definition of marriage. 

Do your homework!
Look into the candidates (and proposals).  See where they stand on issues.  Investigate their records to see if their words match up with their actions.

Pray!
Ask God for guidance.  Ask Him to intervene in this election so the candidates elected will be the ones that will direct this nation back to Him.

Vote!
Multitudes of people have died for the right to vote, a right we too often take for granted.  I've often wondered how quiet it would be if only those who voted were allowed to voice their opinion post-election (insert sound of crickets chirping here...).

Lord, I thank you for the privelege of living in a place where my voice is heard.  I pray that everyone eligible to vote will exercise their right to do so.  Give us wisdom and insight to select the candidates best equipped to lead us in a manner pleasing to You.


Lisa
 


Linking up with "Soli Deo Gloria", "Titus 2sdays", "Teach Me Tuesdays", "Tell Me a Story", "True Vine Challenge", "Weekend Whatever", "Spiritual Sunday"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments


Did you ever play board games when you were a kid?  I remember playing Password, Pyramid (back when it was only $21,000 rather than $100,000 - inflation!) and being fascinated by the red plastic card viewer.
 
Do you remember those?  There were cards printed in blue and red, and the only way you could read them was to place the card viewer over it to decode the answers. Without the decoder, everything was jumbled and you couldn't make sense out of it.

photo courtesy of boardgamegeek.com
A friend recently mentioned that before she became a Christian, the things of God made as much sense as those cards without a viewer.  Nothing in life became clear until she began viewing the world through the lens of the Holy Spirit.

When we give control of our life to Jesus and accept Him as Lord (submitting to His authority) and Savior (accepting the gift of Salvation He offers through His death and resurrection), the Holy Spirit makes His home within us. Suddenly, we begin to see in a different way. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God is saying to us and why.

It's important that believers remember this when talking with people who are not yet followers of Jesus. We can't expect them to understand "Christianese" or make sense of what God says when they don't have the help of the Holy Spirit.

What a great fit for this week's verse in the *She Sparkles* A-Z Scripture Memory Challenge: 
 
U - Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it. ~ Proverbs 16:22

There's no time like the present to join us in memorizing God's word!  You can jump in with the "U" verse, or start with one of the A to Z verses we've learned so far:
 




  • A - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b
  • B – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
  • C – Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
  • DDevote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
  • EEvery good and perfect gift is from above James 1:17
  • F – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • G – God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • H – How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2
  • I – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Galatians 5:1
  • J – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
  • K – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13
  • L - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
  • M – May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:76
  • NNothing is too hard for God. Jeremiah 32:17b
  • O – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
  • PPut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11
  • Q - In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15b
  • R - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8
  • S - Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
  • T - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5

Lisa

Linking up with "True Vine Challenge", "Weekend Whatever", "Spiritual Sunday"


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 12 comments

My husband and I recently spent a week traveling through Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Our first attempt at seeing the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore failed since all the boat tours were cancelled due to high winds, so we began looking for plan "B", which turned out to be a delightful (if not cold and damp) tour of waterfalls in the area. 
 
Adjusting our plans to stay an extra day paid off; we were pleased to find that the 10:00 a.m. tour was a "go", at least with the footnote that if the weather got too bad the ship would turn around and return to port. 
 
Bundled in our winter coats - plus a newly purchased hat and gloves for me - we made our way on board.  Normally we'd choose to ride out in the open on the upper deck, but with it barely 40 degrees, rainy and windy, we opted to ride below deck with everyone else.  Once we reached the Pictured Rocks, however, my husband and a few other brave souls faced the elements to get clear photos, while the rest of us sensible (and already freezing) people spread out along the windows below.  (Taking a cruise in mid-October, on a boat less than a quarter full does have its advantages!)

 
Insert photos here:
 
Unfortunately, you'll have to use your imagination.  Due to a camera glitch, all those gorgeous photos Bob stood out in the cold rain for managed to disappear somewhere between the camera and the computer, never to be seen again...
 
By the grace of God I took a mere two photos, now known as the only photos, through the windows below deck.  This sight was so interesting; I knew God had a message for me in it.


There, standing on a rock, is a lone pine tree.  With all the trees around, it initially blended in, at least until it occurred to me that trees don't grow on rocks!

Back at the dock, I read a newspaper article about the regular occurrence of Lake Superior reclaiming some of the Pictured Rocks.  Each year, a bit more of the rock wall crumbles, eventually making its way into the lake.  Initially this tree stood on an arch, but many years ago the arch gave way, leaving this solitary pine tree standing on a stone pedestal. 

How does it survive?

If you look closely you can see roots stretching horizontally from the tree to the shore.  This tree sent out roots to connect with its source of nutrients back when it had the arch of rock to support them.  Being firmly rooted, the tree was able to stand despite the foundation crumbling from beneath it. 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." ~ Matthew 7:24-25

Here we were, the rain coming down, the winds blowing and beating against the tree, yet it did not fall, even with the foundation long ago disintegrated out from under it. 

Have you ever felt like your world was crumbling beneath you?

Jesus is the Rock you can turn to in times of trouble, but as we learn from this pine tree, the best time to turn to Him is before the crisis hits.  We never know when our world is going to come crashing down around us.  By strengthening our relationship with Him when skies are calm, we'll find ourselves on a firm foundation when the earth gives way.

Father, I lift up to you those who feel right now that their world is crumbling around them.  May you be their Rock, their source of strength during this difficult time.  I pray that the rest of us would seek you now, giving us a firm foundation for the storms we are sure will eventually come. 

Lisa
 


Linking up with: "Tell Me a Story", "Soli Deo Gloria", "Titus 2sdays", "Teach Me Tuesdays", "God Bumps and God Incidences", "Word-Filled Wednesday", "Into the Word Wednesday" , "Thought Provoking Thursday", "Thankful Thursday"
 



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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 12 comments

It's been a while since my husband and I have had a vacation, so after a recent visit with my mother-in-law in Wisconsin he decided we would take the scenic route home, driving through the Upper Peninsula.
The weather in Michigan is always "iffy"; this time last year the U.P. had temperatures in the mid 70's and it was actually 75 here in West Michigan the day we left.  Unfortunately, while on our excursion, we were lucky if the temperatures made it into the 40's.  Thankfully I thought to pack our winter coats, though I did have to break down and purchase a hat and gloves while we were there.  The fall colors were past their peak, but the scenery was still beautiful, even if it was against a backdrop of dreary gray. 

We headed to Munising, where we hoped to see the Pictured Rocks.  For the most part they're only visible by boat - hence the designation of "National Lakeshore" - so we were disappointed when the cruise was cancelled because of the high winds.   This was the only stop we had specifically planned for this trip.   

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

We decided to stay in Munising another night and try the cruise again the next morning, so with the entire day at our disposal we started looking for something else to do. 

Munising Falls
Plan "B" came in the form of a map of local waterfalls.  I didn't even know there were waterfalls in this area, so this came as a welcome surprise.  Even though it was cold and dreary, we still took in some beautiful scenery. 

Miner's Falls

 We were even able to get a glimpse of the Pictured Rocks here at Miner's Castle.  Just looking at the waves you can see why the boat tour was cancelled.  The wind was biting and vicious, often pelting us with rain, but the views were breathtaking.

Wagner Falls

Au Train Falls

Scott Falls
Sometimes I get hung up when my plans fall through, but look what I would've missed out on if things had gone as I wanted them to.  We saw all these spectacular waterfalls in one afternoon!

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." ~ Isaiah 43:19

Do you ever get frustrated when things don't go your way?  It could be that God has a plan "B" in store for you!

Father, I thank you that You are so much bigger than I can fathom.  Help me to let go of my plans and place them in Your hands, trusting that You will lead me to the places You would have me go.  Thank you for your beautiful creation and the hidden wonders all around us.   

Lisa


Linking up with "Faith Filled Friday", "Spiritual Sunday", "Into the Word Wednesday", "True Vine Challenge", "Weekend Whatever", "Write on Edge", "Inspire Me Monday", "The Beauty in His Grip", "Playdates at the Wellspring"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments


"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line."

I think I first heard this back in math class, but somehow this has invaded my entire way of thinking.  How about you?  Perhaps it's the "instant" society we live in.  We don't like to wait for anything:
  • Technology allows us to instantly pull up a video or download a book. 
  • A quick  look at Facebook (is that possible?) gives us an update on everyone we know and allows us to update others with a few strokes of the keyboard.
  • We dine on fast food and microwave meals.
  • and so on, and so on...
We know where we want to go in life, or maybe God has given us a vision of what He's calling us to, and we want to be there NOW!
  
We can spend so much time and energy trying to "make things happen" that we miss out on what's going on in the here and now.  We plan and scheme and try to force our own agenda rather than trusting to the One who loves us and has a plan for our lives.

We're up to the letter "T" in the *She Sparkles* A-Z Scripture Memory Challenge:

She Sparkles Scripture Memory Challenge 2012

T - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; ~ Proverbs 3:5

I will be the first one to say that God's path seems to be filled with detours and layovers. God called me to teach and write many years ago, yet most days I can be found caring for my two infant grandsons.  How can this be part of the plan?  After a full day with them, I am sapped of all energy and can barely string a sentence together...
 
But wait, that kind of thinking would be me leaning on my own understanding with no "trusting in the Lord" anywhere to be found.  If you look up this week's verse and continue reading you'll see the message continues...





 
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:6
 
What if that squiggily line in the illustration above is actually God's idea of a straight path - straight from one experience to the next; a succession of seemingly random events each necessary to prepare us and mold us into the person He's needs us to be to fulfill the calling He has for us?
 
What would life look like if we stopped trying to make sense of things or forcing our own agenda and instead saw each experience as a necessary one, bringing us one step closer to fulfilling God's plan for our life?  Maybe it's our own attempts at a direct route that are actually the detours.
 
There's no time like the present to join us in memorizing God's word.  You can jump in with the "T" verse, or start with one of the A to Z verses we've learned so far:

  • A - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b
  • B – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
  • C – Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
  • DDevote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
  • EEvery good and perfect gift is from above James 1:17
  • F – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • G – God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • H – How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2
  • I – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Galatians 5:1
  • J – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
  • K – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13
  • L - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
  • M – May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:76
  • NNothing is too hard for God. Jeremiah 32:17b
  • O – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
  • PPut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11
  • Q - In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15b
  • R - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:8
  • S - Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:2
Linking up with "Wordfilled Wednesday", "God Bumps and God Incidences", "A Holy Experience", "Thankful Thursday", "Thought-Provoking Thursday"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments


So, you're wearing your Batman P.J.'s and think you're invincible...

 
What began as a "test drive" of the recently refinished chair quickly turned into an exploration of the front porch. 


 
Slowly he inches his way...to the steps, of course.  I wonder if he thinks I won't notice.


 
 
He has the whole porch to play on, so why is does he find the area surrounding the stairway the most interesting? Can't he play back by the house where it's safe?


Closer...closer...

He thinks, "Closer to freedom!"

I think, "Closer to falling on your head!"

What is it in us that makes us want to push the limits?  Obviously, even from an early age we're trying to see just how far is too far. 

I'm sure he sees the railings on the porch as an obstacle, but they aren't intended to keep him from having fun; they're there to protect him from falling.  The railings don't take away freedom; they actually give it by allowing him to move about freely in the area where it is safe.  Without them, he'd have even less space to move around in as the nervous adults surrounding him work to keep a safe distance between him and the edge. 

Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. ~ Jeremiah 7:23

...that it may go well with you.

Did you ever stop to think that God gave us laws to live by, not to keep us from having fun, but so that it may go well with us?  The world may tell us that we're missing out, but if you've ever gone outside of God's will, you know that the results are anything but fun.  Sooner or later we'll realize there's a good reason why God has given us boundaries.  God's laws are the divider between well-being and devastation, safety and harm. 

What if we thought of His commands as a safety railing around our life, not restricting us but showing us the parameters of a secure environment?  As long as we stay within these limits, we know we can move about freely and safely.  Beyond them, sooner or later, we'll find trouble.
 
Of course, I wouldn't let my grandson play at the top of a stairway if I thought there was any chance of him getting hurt. He's too little to understand the danger involved.   What you don't see in these photos is a protective grandpa ready to scoop the little guy up if he goes too far. 
 
In life, God is always right there beside us.  Sometimes He intervenes to keep us from harm, but often He does not.  Because He loves us, He's given us free will.  We're free to choose to follow his commands, or fall on our head. 
 
Which will you choose?
 
Father, I thank you for your protection.  I deeply regret those times I've failed to heed your warnings.  Help me to obey your commands and remember that you always have my best interests in mind.
 
Lisa


Linking up with "Thankful Thursday", "Thought Provoking Thursday", "Weekend Whatever", "Spiritual Sunday", "Write on Edge", "The Beauty in His Grip", "Monday Musings", "Tell Me a Story"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments


It's been a month now since I started caring for my grandsons who, next week, will be 3 months and 16 months old.  They're here four days a week, and I wouldn't be honest if I didn't tell you, Grandma is tired!


The shift to "full-time Grandma" has actually gone smoother than I expected, at least until this past week. 

What changed?  My focus. 

It has been my prayer since entering this season that I would be fully present while I'm with the boys, and really, shouldn't we be doing that all the time?  Keeping my mind on the task at hand rather than jumping ahead to what I think God will have for me next.  So my focus has been on caring for the boys rather than all the other things I'm not doing (and the list is growing as I speak!)

 
This week, though, it's been hard.  Because of busyness in the evenings last week and over the weekend, I started off the week feeling behind, and at the end of the week (i.e. NOW) we're leaving on vacation, with all the preparation that entails.   Unfortunately, my mind kept going to everything I wasn't accomplishing rather than what I was doing. 

 
Do you ever catch yourself doing this?  Thinking about everything except where you are right now? 
 
"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does..." ~ Ephesians 6:7-8
 

Thankfully I caught myself and realized the problem is with my thinking more than anything else.  While the world may think what I'm doing is a waste of time (I even had someone in ministry tell me, "I really don't understand why someone would leave their ministry for grandkids"), I know that I'm exactly where God wants me to be!
 
Lord, help me to remember that in everything I do, I'm doing it for you!  Guide me as I minister to these precious boys, and prepare me for what you have in store for me next. 
 
Lisa


Linking Up with "Spiritual Sunday", "Weekend Whatever", "Tell Me a Story", "God Bumps and God Incidences", "Word Filled Wednesday"
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