Have You Found It?

Have You Found It?

Encouragment
There is this place. A refuge of complete safety with a foundation firmer than bedrock and walls stronger than diamonds. While rumors of fear and disaster may reach the hearts of those sheltering there they will never be disturbed. Is it Utopia? No, for it is not made with human hands. Is it paradise? No, for neither is it a creation of God. Is it make-believe then? No, for voices ancient and fresh give breath to its reality. How do you find this place? The doorway to this refuge is whispered in the silence of our souls. One ancient voice declares of this refuge, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy
Practically James – Practically Speaking

Practically James – Practically Speaking

Encouragment
Ever say something and immediately wish you could retract it?  I can think of several times. In fact, the longer I think about it the more examples come to mind and the more I’m embarrassed. The insensitive comment. That joke which inadvertently offended. The rash promise. The harsh line that didn’t need to be said. The times of silence when words could bring healing comfort. We’ve all been there which makes our next lesson from the Letter of James all the more real and relevant. By way of reminder, we’re using James’ introduction as our outline. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully d
Relevant Wisdom for the Internet Age

Relevant Wisdom for the Internet Age

Encouragment
Does the Bible speak to today’s issues? Consider for example your Facebook or Twitter feed. The ancient writers knew nothing about our technologically advanced world so how could their words impact our interactions in cyberspace? But here the thing -- It does.  The reason will become clearer If we’ll put down our screens for a moment. Let’s take one small issue that’s been the buzz for about a year but a problem long before then. We’ve all seen them, the posts on Facebook and Twitter that make some claim to be true but scratch the surface and it’s “fake news.” So a “friend” on Facebook shares a share of a share that is foolish and untrue. What should I do about it? Should I ignore it or refute it? We’ve all been at that point of decision. If I answer I may get dragged into a troll
Practically James – Wisdom

Practically James – Wisdom

Encouragment
“It’s just common sense!” How many times have you said or heard that phrase? The idea behind it is that there is a well-known set of knowledge and wisdom we all share. It’s common sense that spitting into the wind is unwise. But how often is common sense invisible until someone violates it and trips our “that was stupid” warning light. I wonder though, is common sense, well, common? Is your library of wisdom the same as mine? Probably not. Just by observing the world we see that common sense is the seed of many disagreements, arguments, conflicts, and fights. Whose wisdom is right? Let’s turn to James for the answer. Early in his letter of encouragement and instruction James says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
Dale’s Rules for Life – Number Two

Dale’s Rules for Life – Number Two

Encouragment
I have these rules of life, 27 at last count.  They aren’t in any particular order or priority and I don’t call them by their number in some kind of code. The second one on the list goes something like this - Everything in life is a trade-off. (I wrote about the first rule here.) What I mean by that less than poetic observation is there are rewards and consequences to every choice we make and every step we take. Consider outdoor grills for a moment. I could save money upfront and buy the cheap one or spend more with the expectation that it will work better and last longer. That’s one example. When it comes to outdoor grills (and a lot of other things) my experience says to buy the more expensive one but not the most expensive one. It doesn’t always work that way of course. Sometimes
Lambchow Report 2017

Lambchow Report 2017

Encouragment
In years past I’ve put the “Your part” at the bottom of this report and wondered if anyone made it that far. So, I’m going to give you a heads up. If you want to skip all the numbers, review, and looking forward just skip to the bottom to read how you can help others embrace the adventure of following Jesus through this ministry. The Original Opening It’s New Years Day morning and I’m reviewing all the 2017 numbers for Lambchow. What the numbers tell me is that 2017 was a year of change. Our website readership grew slightly, about 9%. The number of opened emails grew by 21%. Prayer requests gained 28%. The downloads and subscriptions to the Bible Studies saw the largest change with 68% growth.  Another set of numbers tells me that close to 50% now access Lambchow on a tablet or phone in
Practically James: Get It Done

Practically James: Get It Done

Encouragment
One day four men built a backyard deck. Two men came from the lofty halls of mechanical engineering, two were mechanics of different stripes. As it turned out the deck boards extended past the end of the deck and needed trimming to even up the edge. The engineers measured and discussed how to trim the boards without cutting into the floor joist beneath. They debated and argued over various methods of how to find the exact right place to mark the top of the deck for the power saw to follow. All progress stopped because of this one problem. The mechanics listened for a few moments to the engineer’s discussion. One of them grabbed the power saw and with the help of the other standing beneath to keep an eye on the position of the blade they rapidly trimmed the boards to the right size. True st
Leaning Forward

Leaning Forward

Encouragment
Tis the season to make resolutions. To choose one or two things to resolve to do differently as one-year changes to the next. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, they tend to be short-lived and lead us to make rash promises. Some have chosen goals instead of resolutions, better but missing a vital element because our goals are often too narrow or overly broad. Besides, none of us can predict what next year will bring. James offers us some practical advice in this realm of resolution making and goal setting. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Inste
Looking Back

Looking Back

Encouragment
In the days between Christmas and the New Year most of us pause, if even for a moment, to look back. But the Bible sometimes seems purposely schizophrenic when it comes to looking backward. So what’s a follower of Jesus to do? Look back or not look back? Jesus plainly said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, NASB95) Which makes perfect sense if you know anything at all about plowing a field, looking back is the last thing you want to do if you want straight lines.  Or consider Lot’s wife. She was dramatically turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back with sorrow and longing at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:26). There’s also the example of the Hebrew’s as their hearts turned back to Egypt w
Colors of Christmas – Gold

Colors of Christmas – Gold

Christmas, Encouragment
Our final Color of Christmas is gold and its symbolism of value. We may not be paid in gold or use gold at the local store, but the idea of value remains regardless of the currency. We exchange something we have such as time, ability, and expertise for something of value which can then be exchanged for something desired. However, this activity of commerce and exchange is not the meaning of Christmas gold. For that, we must return to the story. Matthew records the journey of the magi and their search for a newborn king. Put aside for this article when they encountered Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in relation to the other events associated with Christmas. Matthew’s point is that in Israel, the Jewish homeland, foreigners with a strange language and religion recognized Jesus as king. Everyone e
Christmas Kisses

Christmas Kisses

Christmas, Encouragment
I haven’t realized until recently the uniqueness of my childhood Christmases. My family wasn’t large but long. When I was a child, there were five living generations including four grandparents, six great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandmother. Seven of them lived within a few miles of each other. The others were less than thirty minutes away. Beginning noon Christmas Eve and culminating Christmas evening we would visit every one of them. Sure, there were presents, I remember a few of them, but what I remember most are the wet grandma kisses. Our day began at noon with a customer appreciation meal at Wuethrich Oil in Eureka. Grandpa Kindred, Mom’s dad, worked there as an alignment specialist. Every year they would clean up the garage and offer hot ham sandwiches for all that
The Colors of Christmas – Green

The Colors of Christmas – Green

Christmas, Encouragment
From where I sit it is both strange and understandable that green is a prominent color of Christmas. In one sense there’s very little green to be seen. Unlike spring that is filled with a variety of vibrant greens, winter in central Illinois is brown until the snow flies. Trees have shed their green leaves, The crops that color our fields have been harvested, frost has beaten back our perennials and killed off our annual decorative plants. The grassy carpets of our yards have gone dormant. The only green to see are the evergreens of pine, balsam, and spruce. Some of these may even take the form of a Christmas tree. But, if you have been following our Colors of Christmas series you may have guessed that there is also a deeper meaning to this color as well. To connect the dots we must tu