Many times these days I have found my stomach tied in knots. Parties with no social distancing prolong our corona agony. Anger against social injustice spills over into more injustices. Pickup trucks plow through protesters to make their own protest. What will happen when local schools reopen? How can we agree on measurable goals to put an end to violence in the street and racism in our communities? I pray, “Lord have mercy,” even as I acknowledge that we don’t deserve mercy anymore than Jerusalem did as the Babylonians approached.
But hanging onto my fears and letting them tie me in knots shows a lack of trust in the all powerful God of righteousness and justice whose nature is love. And trust is one of the things he wants to see growing in me when I put my faith in Jesus Christ.
Part 3 of my new book, Honey from the Comb, collects verses about traits God wants to see in me. The collection began with the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—but that is just the beginning. A couple mornings ago, trust came up in my prayer time. It’s not inconsistant with action, but it IS inconsistant with my stomach knots. Here is the trust entry from the Honey from the Comb. As you read, consider your own response to the ways God is stretching you.
[Only two days left to get the Kindle version of Honey from the Comb for $0.99!]
Trust is putting your faith into action in a concrete situation. As you pray these verses, consciously rest in God and give him your present situation with confidence regardless of how hopeless circumstances may appear.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:14-15
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD Psalm 40:4a
In God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-33
The first section of my new book, Honey from the Comb, collects verses to help you focus on who God is and what he is like. But when we do that, we realize that we aren’t as good as we would like people to think we are. Isaiah was a young prophet when he had a vision of God in the temple (Isaiah 6). His response wasn’t “Wow! What a great worship experience!” It was “Oh, no! I’m ruined! I have such a dirty mouth, and everyone around me has a dirty mouth!” He was embarrassed when he compared himself to God instead of to other people.
Part 2 of Honey from the Comb focuses on Scriptures to help you be specific in confession.
My newly released book, Honey from the Comb, follows the ACTS pattern for prayer--Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. In coming days we will look at the other sections, but today, lets think about Adoration.
Adoration is praising God for who he is and what he is like. It focuses on his character more than on the specifics of what he has done. (That is the job of thanksgiving.) The passages in the first section of Honey from the Comb are chosen to help you meditate on different aspects of who God is. The idea is to read a line and pray it back to God, telling him how true it is and why it matters to you right now.
A dear friend in our church passed away last week from cancer. Her family are much on my mind today as I think about God, our Comforter.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Lord, I know you heal the brokenhearted. Bind up the wounds of Char's family right now.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Lord, I praise you because you come close to the brokenhearted. May Char's family know your presence in a special way at this time.
Perhaps you are hurting right now or know someone who is. Use these verses from the Adoration section of Honey from the Comb to worship our great God and guide your prayers.
Fighting in the streets.
Not to mention personal struggles with relationships,
and feelings of failure and inadequacy.
“Stand up from the waist,” the tiny round-faced woman demanded. “Sit on the part of the body God gave you to sit on, and I don’t mean your back!” She always said it with a scowl that she could never hold without breaking into an infectious grin. For more than fifty years I have heard that voice in my head and scooted to the edge of my seat to comply every time. How can anyone pretend to sing slouched in an armchair?
Elise Marshall, my high school music teacher, formed me as a singer. She taught me to use my diaphragm, an open throat and a loose jaw.
In the days since Black Mountain was released, I have been eagerly watching for reviews. I asked some people ahead of time and lined up several blogs. I have been mentioning them on Facebook, but didn't want to stuff your mailbox every time one went up. So here is a summary. I'd love it if you added your review to those on Amazon.
June 4 Rani's Simple Living Rani thinks I need to write a book about Nicholas. I'll have to think about that!
June 8. Book Reviews from an Avid Reader. Joan likes the research (which I enjoyed very much.) She also says, "What I liked most in this novel is the idea of God redeeming and restoring the life of a repentant person. What a great representation of the life transforming nature of the gospel. I also liked the suspense at the end."
June 9 International Christian Fiction Writers. Donna Fletcher Crow, author of Glastonbury; A Novel of Christian Britain, interviews me about Black Mountain. She says in her review, "Black Mountain concludes Leanne Hardy’s Glastonbury Grail series with a powerful pilgrimage, both physical and spiritual. Magic and faith, myth and eternal truth intermingle in this novel of the Holy Grail. With the beauty of an epic poem, it presents an allegory of the grace of God."
June 11 History Thru the Ages. This historical Christian fiction site features an article by me on how my Glastonbury Grail series came to be written. It's not too late to comment and enter a drawing for a free copy of Black Mountain.
June 12 History Thru the Ages. An article about how writing was viewed in the 16th century and the "new" 1536 translation of the Bible into English by William Tyndale. Comment again and enter your name in the drawing a second time.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Compassion and Justice, hand in hand. It is who our God is. Not one or the other, but both together. "Grace and Truth" is how one of his closest friends described him when he came to live with us--Word made flesh, the One and Only come from the Father (John 1:14).
We are living in difficult times. But they are also exciting times. No, I don't expect to see the Kingdom of heaven in its fulness, coming in the next few months, certainly not by political efforts. But I do hope to see Christians standing for compassion, Christians speaking out for justice, Christians living out grace and truth in an age when it is so much easier to sling mud on the Internet.
“It demonstrates the deep pain of American people of color in an age of one police killing after another,” I wrote in 2016 of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me. How many more killings have occurred since then? More than I can count. (There appears to be a Washington Post data base of police killings that might answer that question, but I’m afraid I’m not a subscriber, so I don’t have access.)
Last week we watched in horror the video of a policeman kneeling on a black man’s neck until he died—far longer than necessary to subdue him even if he had been resisting arrest as alleged, which he is definitely not doing in the nine minutes of the video. The huge outpouring of protest in the days that followed show that much of the country agrees with me that until we hold police responsible for their actions, we will not see an end to this racist violence. (Holding a policeman of color responsible for shooting a white woman does nothing to break the cycle.)
I’m white. I can’t help that. But I can listen. And listen is what we are called to do in these days. In no way do I condone the the theft of TVs from Target or the trashing of local groceries and pharmacies, but I can hear the frustration that leads someone to pick up a brick and throw it through a window.
Hear with my heart, not formulating my own defense.
Look through God’s eyes of compassion, justice, and yes, wrath at evil.
Click here to read my 2016 thoughts on my own whiteness and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book.
I was impressed this week:
We had a parking lot service this morning. Our church had one last week as well, but it was pouring down rain, and we didn’t try to make it. Instead we watched the on-line Sunday school class (pausing for discussion among the three of us at the appropriate times) and the on-line sermon (after listening to a couple specially chosen YouTube praise songs.) You may have done something similar.
My website contains extra information on my books. One thing that I try to include is something about the writing of that book and a writing tip that grows out of the experience. Here are some thoughts on the writing of Black Mountain, the third of my Glastonbury Grail series, out the first of June.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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