Summer Activities to Keep Your Faith Alive

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School’s out, sun’s out, and we’re outside to enjoy it! Whether you just graduated, took the summer off, or been out of school for a while, you’re in for some kind of routine change these next few months.

It’s easy to get lost in the slew of sunshiny activities, new schedules, vacation days, and more, but one thing you don’t want to lose is your time with Jesus. Here are some activities to help enjoy summer and keep your time with God a priority.

  • Outdoor Devotions

If you have a regular devotion time, you probably already started doing them in the comfort of the morning sun. I love being able to enjoy the birds and the breeze and the calm of the morning while reading my Bible and devotionals. Sit on your porch, balcony, or bring a blanket out to the lawn. Have a cup of coffee or smoothie to combine with the perfect morning pick-me-up.

  • Painting

I love to play around with painting. My favorite place to paint is on the porch with a sermon or some worship music playing in the background. It helps me focus, feeds my spirit, and exercises my creative juices. I paint rocks, shells, and canvases. Some have verses or images pressing on my heart. Even if painting isn’t your thing, you can do something else like wood carving, knitting, puzzles, sketching, while allowing God to minister to your soul through teaching or music.

  • Hiking

Nothing brings the heart closer to God than nature in my opinion. Its unmistakable beauty can be such a clear representation of God’s fingerprint. Bring a friend or a group and hold a Bible study at a picturesque location. Don’t get too distracted by the scenery—the point is to be surrounded by God’s beauty as you fellowship and dig into His Word.

  • Camping

The summer is the perfect time for a retreat. Longer than a hike, camping takes you out of the luxuries of the world and brings you back to the basics. Camping can be a good time to escape from every day distractions so that you can pray under the stars or spend time in the Bible by the fire. If you can’t go far, you can take a mini-retreat via tent in the backyard.

  • Night of Worship

Sticking with the camping theme, a simple worship and fellowship around a small bonfire can be so refreshing. It’s a time to get intimate with people, with yourself, and with God. Time to share feelings, encourage others, and simply worship. I guarantee you and your friends or family will want to have another one soon.

  • Be Thankful

Nowadays, summers fly by, so make sure you’re relishing this one with thanksgiving. Before we know it, the nights will turn cold and coats and boots will be coming out of storage. Be thankful for the sun, the rain, and the time with family and friends. Be aware of new life, new blessings, and the change that summer sweeps over your life.

No matter how much you do this summer: vacation time, friend time, family time, work time, beach time…it will never be as fulfilling as Jesus time. Shine some light on the soul this summer. Have fun, make memories, and grow into the next season of life!

God bless!

LJM

The Day of Atonement: Down to the River

Dressed in white, my family made our way to the nearest river in our hometown. It’s a beautiful spot to watch the falls cascading down the rocks while a few ducks and geese float along the gentle rapids. We found a clearing near the water, and there, we opened our Bibles in observance of the second fall feast: The Day of Atonement.

What is The Day of Atonement?

Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement arrives as one of the highest holy days of the year. When the Israelites first built the Tabernacle, the Levitical high priest would perform a ceremony in order to cleanse the nation of their sin from the previous year. The Atonement ceremony included laying hands on the head of one of two goats. The chosen goat would then ‘receive’ the sins of the people and be released into the wilderness to die.

Only then could the high priest enter the Holy of Holies without being struck dead. Once the ceremony was complete, the Israelites were cleansed, symbolizing their readiness to dwell with God.

How do you observe?

The Days of Awe are the ten days after Feast of Trumpets, and it’s a time of prayer, repentance, and settling debts. The people have a feast the evening before Atonement, but on the actual day, they deny themselves with a fast to recognize God’s holiness and to hate their sin. Temples have several services during the day with blessings, prayers, and Scripture.

The Tashlich ceremony, typically done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is where the people cast bread crumbs or stones into a body of water to represent casting off their sin.

⇑ Keep reading to see why this is relevant ⇑

Scripture References633fa63917d243f219ff007e292e9fac--scripture-quotes-bible-scriptures

  • Hebrews 9:14
  • Matthew 6:14-15
  • Micah 7:19
  • Leviticus 16:29, 23:27, 17:11
  • Isaiah 58

Why is it important?

God instructed His people to observe this day, not because laying hands on a goat took away sin, but because it was a rehearsal to prepare them for when the Messiah, Jesus, would come and redeem them. He was the high priest who bridges the gap between us and God in the Holy of Holies. He was also the sacrifice, who took the weight of our sin, so we can be ready to dwell with Him in eternity.

doa

How do I apply?

Remember the stones I mentioned in my last blog? I’d passed them around earlier, and now was the time to bring them out. Mine was colored with different symbols revealing my sin. Holding onto our stones, we took communion, remembering Jesus’s blood shed for the world.

*This next part is something I added and is probably not done in other congregations. *

I poured the wine (juice) over the stones and then I poured water over them to represent the blood and water that gushed from Jesus’ side when he died. Then, we threw the rocks into the river, believing in Jesus’ gift of washing our sins away.

Hurling my rock into the water uniquely touched my heart. I sent the stone that kept reminding me of all my weaknesses and failings careening into the river, and once it left my hand, I realized I could never retrieve it again.

Going back to the person we were before the blood of Jesus would be just as impossible as me wading in the water trying to find my rock. Just like that stone, that sinful person is dead and gone never to remind me of who I used to be.

Our sins have been washed away, and now we can walk in the newness of life hand in hand with Jesus! Praise God!

The Day of Atonement is just the beginning. Are you ready to dwell with Jesus? That will lead us into my next and final feast blog: The Feast of Tabernacles. I hope you’ll join me!

 

God Bless!

-LJM

Tower of God

The name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower where the righteous can run and be safe…but sometimes Life tries to shake that tower and we watch as brick after brick falls to the ground. Overcome with dread, you wonder how much longer this tower will stand.

Then the Wind stirs from within the walls and sends your face to the ground.

Suddenly, your voice isn’t tight with despair, and the tears streaming from your eyes aren’t heavy with sorrow, they are merely overflow from a well filled with joy.

And on your knees in humility, you can only look up to the sky in awe and cry “Yahweh! You are God! And though I’m not worth it, I am loved by you. And I will spend the rest of my days trying to return your love.”

Just for a moment, that tower stands tall and no amount of fear, doubt, or anger can pierce its walls.

∼Proverbs 18:10∼

 

Stand strong in the Lord. Run to Him and be safe.

God bless!

-LJM

Message in the Stars

I received a message from God in my driveway.

Let me back up. For those of you that may know me, you may know that I adore the night sky. Whenever the moon swells and the stars begin to fill-in their map of the universe, I get captivated. With my neck craned back, I gaze upward in silent admiration at God’s artistry.

Well one night, when evening had settled, I burst out the back door and laid down on the warm asphalt of the driveway. With the midnight curtain spread above me, I prayed and praised God for the vastness of His work. It was such a peaceful moment, but one that didn’t last long.

The tingling against my leg made me think of the bugs that could be crawling about on the driveway, heading toward my skin. The dog barking in the distance reminded me of the coyotes that may be lurking on their nightly prowl.

The seemingly rational fears disrupted my serenity and laying on the driveway was no longer comfortable for me. After a few minutes of trying to relax and focus on the hope of a shooting star, I had to stand up, looking around me with more paranoia than I’d like to admit.

But even while I checked my skin for bugs and shook the gravel out of my hair, God was speaking to me.

“Do you see what happen here?” I felt Him say.

“How I spooked myself?”

“And yet, no bugs under your feet and no coyotes hiding in the bushes.”

“But I am in the mountains, it’s not unheard-of to find coyotes in the area.”

“Don’t you know that I am with you? You were dwelling in so much peace. Quiet–meditating in my presence. Wasn’t it great? But you let your fear take over.”

“I’m sorry, Father, I couldn’t help it.”

“Fear is out to rob you of your peace and joy in Me. It doesn’t take long before its ideas capture your mind.”

“Barely five minutes.”

I chided myself for letting the “what-ifs” creep into my thoughts and not only ruin my prayer time, but also my star-gazing time. I realized just how quick and easy Satan can use something so little to disrupt our connection with God.

I learned that to continue inviting the thoughts of God into my life, I must train myself to push away the thoughts of the Devil: fear, doubt, pride. They will work to steal everything good God has been working in my heart and will stop at nothing until they succeed.

But I have the love of the God of the Universe. I have the hope of His promises. I have the peace of His plan. And I have the blessings of His favor.

So when Satan attacks next time, maybe I’ll be ready to stand firm in victory with my eyes pointed toward the stars.

God Bless!

LJM

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Not Worth the Sting

Who am I to you, O Lord?

I am but algae that covers the deepest part of the ocean.

A barnacle that clings to the earth like a ship.

I am the dust that dirties the earth,

Yet you choose to rub your face in it.

 

I am not worth the sting

Of the kiss from a lying friend.

I am not worth the pain

Of claws stripping through your skin.

I am not worth the spit dripping down your face,

Or the blood gushing from your side.

 

Why? Why don’t you get up?

Why don’t you rise on the wings of your angels?

I am not worth the trembling of your screams

As you cry out “My God!”—

 

My God! You have delivered me,

You have brought light to my shadowed face,

You have pierced my lying tongue,

And sprinkled love over my perverted heart.

 

I promise to bathe in your crimson glory,

And step out in the path before me,

For I was worth it in your story,

And you are worth it in mine.

 

 

Blessing to you

-LJM

Matthew 20:28

Copyright © 2018 Leah Jordan Meahl. All Rights Reserved.

 

Celebrate Your Little Victories

Little Victories: successes that appear to be small or less significant in a grand scheme.

When you hear the word victory, you may think that the only way to achieve it is to defeat an enemy or overcome a tremendous obstacle, but at the root of victory there is a choice.

From the moment you open your eyes to see the red lights on your alarm clock, you are given a choice. To get out of bed or not? To live or not?

That one choice opens you up to an entire day of endless possibilities. To have coffee or not? To say hi to him or not? To pick up an extra shift or not? Seemingly small decisions could lead to little victories and the many little victories that make up your day, the many bigger victories await you in the future.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV)

Jesus died for us so that we could walk in the ultimate victory. Why not celebrate that in the simplest ways?

We have been given a high calling by the God of the universe, and each day He urges us to walk in a manner worthy of that calling. Every choice we make is important for our welfare spiritually, mentally, and physically. They can draw us closer to God, help us glorify Him, and become better than the people He first saved.

So what counts as a little victory? Some of mine include: drinking more water and less coffee, reading my Bible instead of watching Netflix, or complimenting a difficult coworker.

In essence, any good choice is a little victory. Why? Because every good decision is a victory against the enemy of your sinful nature, the part of you that wants to give in to your flesh that’s weak.

Like blessings, little victories can come disguised as something insignificant and go without being noticed or appreciated.

So, count your blessings and your little victories, and look forward for what’s to come.

 

God bless!

-LJM

Philippians 3:14

When Your Heart Needs That New Car Smell

Soaped down, hot water jetted, and towel whipped, your car might as well have come out of the furnace like a piece of blown glass, crystal clean.

You know the feeling. Your beautiful wheeled baby is free from the layer of grime that had begun to build on the doors. Not a spot or blemish can be found sprinkled on the windows. The leaves stuck in the windshield wipers have been vanquished. And that’s not all.

The crumbs wedged in the crevices of the seats have been lapped away along with the dirt and candy wrappers that littered floor. Dust no longer coats the dashboard and the coffee stains have been scrubbed until their existence is forgotten.

To top it off, a little cardboard tree hangs from the rearview mirror filling the car with the aroma of sexy Black Ice or whimsical Tropical Sunrise.

That drive home feels just as satisfying as if you had driven straight off the lot with a new car. Remember that feeling and savor it as I tell you why a car wash is on my mind.

You see, that’s how I feel when I read the Bible. That’s how I feel when I spend time alone in my room praying. And not just the “Dear God, A. B. C. Amen” kind of praying, but simply being in total awareness and transparency with God, which is a state we tend to reserve for when we’re really in a bind.

As a result, I always end up feeling clean and new, but I often wonder why I don’t strive for that as often as I could?

Can we really say we drive a clean car when we only clean it once in a while?

Only when the dirt and clutter get too overwhelming, we finally cave and clean out the car, just to wait another six months before doing it again.

Our hearts are the same way. Every day adds another layer of grime or a new addition of garbage and we are the culprits. We allow it. Wouldn’t we feel better if we just kept the car clean?

I know God would prefer it that way.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

The God of the universe can hold the stars in his hand like a pile of gold dust and yet He sent His Son so that our hearts could be His forever. We are just that precious to Him.

If we don’t take the time to maintain the condition of our heart with God’s Word and His presence, our heart will suffocate from the negative forces designed to strangle the life out of us. Their weapons? Chainmail of laziness. Arrows of bitterness. Daggers of anxiety. And of course, the tempting poison of everything the world has to offer.

As I challenge myself, I also challenge you to make more room in your heart for Jesus because He is the ultimate satisfaction and the greatest weapon for when Satan tries to steal it away. Believe me, he will try. It might take more work, but all the effort is worth it.

Don’t be caught with a dirty car, because you’re chauffeuring the King of Kings.

God bless!
-LJM
Romans 12:2, Psalm 51:10, Matthew 5:8