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DevoShine: Try Me

Esther 4:12-16

“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’”

 

I love this passage. Stories of these incredible women in the Bible – Esther, Ruth, Mary – have inspired me ever since I was a little girl. A powerful and loving God elevates men and women alike.

Esther always seemed to me like a timid and gentle woman. She wasn’t really interested in stirring the waters. She did what she had to do. Throughout her story, Esther’s choices seem to be made for her and Mordecai always seems to be guiding her path. Even in the first part of this passage, Mordecai is warning Esther and telling her that she should take action. The strength of Esther’s reply catches me every time. I don’t know if I would be capable of responding with that much confidence if I was being required to do it. There had to have been a willingness, a faith, and a determination that Esther held.

That last sentence – “And if I perish, I perish” – seems unreal. This woman was ready to stand before a king who would surely kill her for speaking out. And what was her response? If I die, I die. So be it. Kill me.

I don’t know if this is faith, courage, or desperation, but whatever it is, it is admirable.

A theme in my life lately has been faith. A faith that releases worry, stands firm, and touches every part of my life. It is so far from a perfect faith. But when I hear those words from Esther, it gives me something to strive for. I want a faith that looks into the face of death and says, “Try me.”

DevoShine: Eyes Up

Matthew 14:25-33

“Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
‘Come,’ he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’

And then they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

 

This is one of my favorite Bible stories. It is one that shows the truthfulness of human nature.

Peter is such a relateable disciple. Here’s a man who truly believes, and is vocal about his desire to follow Christ. His heart is fully in the Lord. So then, why does he fall?

I find myself coming back to this story for several reasons.

First of all, Peter had good intentions. He had faith that Christ was who he said he was, and could do what he said he could do. There are days when I feel so close to God and so confident about who he is that I can’t find it in myself to worry about anything. I believe in the power of Christ. I believe he will take care of me.

However, as the story continues, we see that Peter started to look around. He took his eyes off Jesus and turned his attention to the wind and the waves. In my life, the wind and the waves look like work, finances, relationships, school, and responsibilities. The wind and the waves look like the future and the unknown. And just like Peter, it is when these things capture my attention that I begin to feel like I’m sinking. My vision is crowded with other things and I struggle to see and hear Jesus through it all. And if we’re honest, it does feel like we’re drowning.

But the most important part is that Peter cried out to the right person. He didn’t turn back and call out to the disciples to save him, and it doesn’t say that he tried to fight the storm on his own. He called out to the one person who could lift him out; “Lord.” Sometimes I struggle with this one. I waste too much time trying to fix the situation on my own before turning to Christ. I have found time and time again that calling out to Christ and refocusing on him will lift me out when I cannot do it on my own.

I love the word that is used when Jesus lifts him out; “immediately.” As soon as Peter called out, Jesus reached down and lifted him out. He didn’t scold him first, he didn’t get angry at Peter for failing. He immediately pulls him out and then reminds Peter of who he is. “Why did you doubt?” Christ does not get tired of us. He doesn’t get angry when we fail. He is excited about our attempts! Like a father teaching his child to ride a bike, he picks us up when we fall and encourages us to try again.

I read this story all the time, and I never get tired of it. This book is not outdated, ancient, or expired. The truths that Peter learned that day in the storm are the same truths that I need to hear today.

As you face the storms in your life – as you are tempted to glance at the wind and the waves – remember; eyes up.

Silence.

Silence. How often do we find true silence? How many times a day do we find ourselves sitting in a space so quiet that we can’t even hear the humming of an air conditioner, or the buzz of the electricity in a lamp? For me, that answer is never.

Silence has become an indulgence. Something that we reward ourselves with after we’ve completed all our work, seen everyone we need to see, and finished all the chores around the house. And maybe we don’t even experience silence after that; maybe our reward has become watching television while scrolling through social media.

When I study, I listen to music. If I’m with people, someone is usually talking. When I’m doing chores or getting ready, I pick my favorite playlist on spotify or turn on the TV to provide some background noise. Silence has become bothersome. Silence has become a bad thing.

Last week I visited a small chapel that sits on the back of my college campus, and for the first time in a very long time, I experienced silence. For over an hour, I sat without distractions and was silent; no phone, no homework, no emails buzzing in my pocket. It was in those moments that I realized how loud life truly was…how loud I allowed life to be.

We need silence. We need to sit without distractions and be still. The Bible gives us several verses about this:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14).

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5).

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24).

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” (Isaiah 30:15).

Yet today we are fed constant noise. Maybe we like the noise because it distracts us from having to listen. God uses the silence to speak, and perhaps the truth for many is that they don’t want to hear what the Lord is trying to tell them, so they fill their lives with noise instead. This reminds me of another story in the bible:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” (Jonah 1:1-3).

(If you don’t know that story, Jonah eventually gets swallowed by a fish and then comes to his senses, following God’s directions and doing as God asked. There’s a whole veggietales episode about it.)

Basically the point I’m trying to make is this; silence is a good thing. Silence is peace. Silence is sanity. Silence is listening and obedience. And in this loud and pushy world we live in, silence is necessary.

However, silence is still hard to find. But I encourage you to search for it. Find ten minutes in your day that you can dedicate to silent listening without distractions. Maybe it’s waking up ten minutes earlier, maybe it’s staying up ten minutes later, or maybe it’s substituting ten minutes of your social media time. However you can find it, I encourage you to use it.

Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel

Shine.fm had an opportunity to speak with children’s author and Olivet Nazarene University Graduate Dan Holom and Disney lead animator and illustrator Mark Henn about their new book “Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel.”  The entire interview is below.

Listen to the entire interview with Dan Holom and Mark Henn below

If you would like more information about Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel, or would like to purchase a copy click HERE! on the Amazon link below.  Plus, if you would review Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel and let Amazon know that this kind of book is great for families that would be great too!

 

 

Sharing the Christmas Story with Your Kids

Well, Christmas day is finally here—and my kids can hardly believe it!

I pray that you will set aside some time to thank God for the incredible gift of his Son.

If you’ve never read the Christmas story to your kids, you can find it in the first two chapters of the book of Luke.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!   

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in highest heaven,and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  

After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Merry Christmas, from all of us at Shine.FM!

Listen to today’s audio here.

What verse do you go to for encouragement?

A lot has been happening already this week here in the U.S. between the flooding in Colorado and yesterday’s tragedy at the Navy Shipyard in Washington D.C.—and it’s only Tuesday! When things seem to be going crazy around you…what bible verse do you cling too? For me I usually go to Jeremiah 29:11! What’s yours?

~Garrett from Shine Afternoons

Difference Maker: The Bible League

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Bible League International supports the body of Christ wherever it is impoverished, persecuted or oppressed in more than 55 countries. With help from friends, Bible League International equips local Christians to plant Bibles, plant churches and share God’s love in the hardest, most hostile, most resource-poor places on earth. In the past 21 years, they have trained and equipped more than 2.5 million local Christians to lead millions to Christ, planted more than 58,000 churches, and discipled nearly 37 million people in or through Bible study.  They do this by providing Bibles and Scripture materials for churches and ministries to use in their evangelism and discipleship efforts, including an Easy-Read Bible that’s translated into many different languages.

Get to know Chicagoland Difference Makers Bible League International this month on The New Shine.FM!

Listen to the Difference Maker segments here:

Bible League Segment 1

“Walk-It-Out-Wednesday”-Your Quiet Time

Hey it’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and today is a “Walk-It-Out-Wednesday.” I don’t know if you heard, but  scientists where I graduated high school from (that’s Minnesota by the way) have created the “world’s quietest room.” It’s a high-tech, acoustic chamber in which you can hear your own heartbeat and not one person has lasted longer than 45 minutes. So it got me thinking about my quiet time with God, and being quiet and “hearing” His voice? Do find it hard to have a “quiet” time? How are you “walking out” your quiet time?

Are you waiting on God?

While you’re waiting…..

~Garrett

Walk It Out Wednesday: Handling fear with your family

Hey, it’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and guess what…it’s another “Walk-It-Out-Wednesday!” Today we are talking about how you handle fear in your life. Monday was another “rock our world” day and it reminded us that even here on U.S. soil, we are not immune from events like what happened at the end of the Boston Marathon. So when things get a bit scary in your life and a little fear creeps in, how do you “walk-it-out?” Let me know at 855-98-SHINE!

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