Ichabod needs an Ark (Bible study)

DSC_0018-001Keeping our eyes open:

I’ve long been fascinated, motivated, inspired, equipped, and encouraged by small-group Bible-study with other men. Yes, I enjoy and benefit from mixed sessions, but – especially understanding how men tend to be wired – there is a particular benefit to such homogeneous groupings that will always keep me involved.

There is a sense in which we need one-another in order to be fully functioning spiritually. Yes, this is true of every believer, regardless of gender; however, it seems to be in the nature of “The North American Male” to cultivate a general defensiveness when it comes to peeling back the layers and inviting God into our deeper selves.

Fact is, we need encouragement even to allow ourselves access to our deeper selves… let alone our friends, our spouse, or our God.

The Ark of the Covenant:

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

My Wednesday evening study group is taking a look at the Old Testament book of Samuel (I & II). It’s a great story, full with action, intrigue, rebellion, fighting, love, betrayal, pathos, redemption, and more.

This week we read the story of how the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, and what happened as a result. Read 1 Samuel 4-7 and you’ll get a good idea of the pace of the entire book.

Our conversation was – as always – wide-ranging. My facilitation style is 1-part steering, 2-parts asking good questions, 3-parts listening, and 5-parts relying on the Holy Spirit.

In retrospect, the meat of the evening’s conversation seemed to revolve around the following part of the story, after the Ark of the Covenant had been passed from village, to village, to village, and ultimately back to one of the border communities:

Then the people of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?” So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”(1 Samuel 6:20-21)

Stiff-arming God: It seemed to us that the Philistines (like us) had the option of turning away from their idols, and following the One God. But instead they got scared and wanted nothing to do with the Creator. “To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?” they said.

If we are honest – and we spend a lot of time at our small-groups trying our best to do just that – we have to admit that we invest a great deal of effort attempting to place a comfortable distance between our inner selves and the God we say that we love and trust.

So we talked about carrying our own Ark of the Covenant around with us, deliberately keeping the presence of God near.

At the end of chapter 4, the wife of Eli’s son Phinehas has a baby; she names the child Ichabod (meaning, literally, “inglorious”). “Because,” she said in one of the saddest passages in scripture, “the glory has departed from Israel.” (1 Samuel 4:19-22)

We know with all our hearts that God’s presence is not restricted to a building, a temple, or a wooden box such as the Ark of the Covenant (see John 4:19-24). However, we do sometimes need symbolic help when it comes to paying attention to God, to inviting that presence into our moment-by-moment.

IMG_8082Or, sadly, we can live our regular lives – in business, with our families, involved in recreation – as virtual Ichabods, because, like Israel, the glory has departed.

What can you do, today, to remind yourself that God is – absolutely – with you? What can we do to avoid being an Ichabod?

(the bird photos are gratuitous! Enjoy!)

 

 

good news people – getting my Lent on

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“The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” - Matthew 13:18-23

While talking with a friend the other day – it was a deep conversation about faith – he made the following, interesting, observation: “I haven’t had a television for the past two-three months, and I’ve found that my spiritual life has become more vital and connected.”

Multiple-TV-Screens5-001He wasn’t saying that watching a television is necessarily damaging to faith – so much as that in his experience the television was doing the following three things:

  1. It cut him off from any experience of quiet or reflection.
  2. The TV provide such a constant stream of negative imaginary and bad news that he was losing touch with the principle and the practice of Philippians 4:8-9: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
  3. God’s message was being “crowded out by the worries of this life…”

all_liesTOP-TEN PEEVE: One of my “top-ten” pet peeves is walking into a home where the television runs as constant background. Always on, even when not being specifically watched, streaming sound, imagery, and value-laden messages in an uninterrupted flow.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy having access to a television. But it’s not a member of the family! The TV remains quiet and unobtrusive, firmly in the “off” position, until Rebekah and I choose to watch a particular show – and that show is typically stored on the DVR so we can watch at our convenience – usually late in the evening and with a cup of tea.

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Mo-Ranch, Texas

GETTING MY LENT ON: This is where the spiritual disciplines – such as paying attention to the season of Lent – can be so helpful. At this time of the year, in the weeks leading up to Easter, we can be especially mindful of how insistent the non-spiritual message is in our day-to-day lives. Then, being cognizant of how we are constantly tripped up, we can take deliberate steps to reconnect ourselves to God.

We may be “naturally” spiritual beings, but we live in culture where the distractions are not only omnipresent, they are rooted in secularism and quite often – I believe – in direct opposition to God.

To that end I plan to take some time to talk about a few spiritual disciplines over the next few days. Prayer, meditation, worship, study, service, community, and more.

Remember, this is a journey we’re taking as followers of Jesus. Never static, always on the move.

In the name of the God who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing…” (Jude 1:24) - DEREK

Communion with sunrise up the hill

early morning communion

 

 

friends of God – the ultimate “name-drop”

Good Read:

DSC_0018Today’s post is a paraphrase, of a summary, of an excerpt, from a book.

My Sunday morning discipleship class – “Practical Christianity” – is studying Reaching Toward Easter during Lent. To help with this, I prepared a “bite-sized” version of each daily reading, designed for a quick, first-thing-in-the-morning devotion. Today, in this post, I’m paraphrasing this morning’s selection.

Friends of God:

“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” – John 15:15

Sometimes I stop for a moment and try to get my mind around the astonishing fact that Jesus values me – Derek Maul – as a friend.

Jesus - The Christ; Lord of Heaven and Earth; Son of the Living God; begotten not created; of one substance with the Father (homo-ousia); Emmanuel; Beautiful Savior; Creator of the Universe; Prince of Peace - has made the deliberate point of calling me friend.

Typically, going about my everyday business, I don’t realize just how mind-boggling this is. But the truth of this stunning realization is absolutely huge – nothing can compare.

barrymcguire-ger274NAME-DROPPING! If you need help putting this idea into perspective, think about those people you know who are name-droppers; maybe you’re one yourself?

  • The Barry McGuire; no kidding! We played guitar together and he asked me to teach him the whole song.”
  • “That’s right, I’m talking about the same guy who hosts that popular talk show. We played18-holes of golf.”
  • “I’m serious, the President of the United States himself. It was a pretty cool moment!”
  • “Yes, you heard me correctly, I said SCRABBLE with the Queen of England!”

Now conceptualize this: The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows each one of us by name. God calls us “friend”. Can we grasp even a small part of what that really means?

Not only that, Jesus loves me – this I know. “I love you so very much,” Jesus points out, “so completely, that I was even willing to lay down my life for you. Do you understand the measure of how much you mean to me? Peter, Thomas, Mary, Judas, Andre, Bernie, Cynthia, Ruthie, Rob, Kevin, Mindy, Derek, Rebekah….?”

Available at Upper Room and Amazon PRAYER: You knew exactly what would happen, Lord, and yet you still valued our relationship more than your own life. I’m so glad I do not need to earn such friendship in terms of my status, or my achievements. I can’t imagine where I would be if you held to the requirements of the law, or worried about how your image might be enhanced – or otherwise – with me hanging around. Thank you for your gracious, unconditional, acceptance, and for your honest love. Amen

Excerpt from Derek Maul’s book, “Reaching Toward Easter” (Upper Room Books, 2012)

caught in the act (great stories need to be told!)

IMG_8217“Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” - Acts 2:46-47

PAPARAZZI! Yesterday, shortly after our near freeze-out at church, this photograph appeared on the WFPC Facebook page, along with the following caption: “Sending a giant Thank You to Derek Maul, our one man WFPC paparazzi, for his tremendous work to highlight the wonderful life of our church!”

All I can say is, “Busted!” Mitchie Griffin caught me taking a photograph of the beautiful iced-over tree branches coming in from the parking lot. Most people were hurrying inside to get out of the freezing rain, but I wanted to pause long enough to capture some of the signal beauty that always comes along with the hardships of winter.

IMG_8201THE STORY: And that really was the story today. We probably had less than half of our typical attendance (the National Weather Service had issued a “treacherous conditions” travel advisory), but the experience of being together was rich, nourishing, and beautiful

You see, there’s a good reason I take so many photographs: We have a wonderful story, here – and great stories need to be told.

We have a wonderful story, here – and great stories need to be told.

Today’s story is that my parents, Grace and David Maul, joined the church. “We were members at The Tabernacle in Sarasota for 30 years,” my mum said, “and members at Folkestone Baptist for 30 years before that. So we plan on being here for a long time.”

IMG_8214I love that spirit of commitment and possibility. Rebekah shared the email conversation she’d had with their previous pastor. “I’d be happy to send a letter of transfer,” he wrote, “if you’ll just mail a $10,000 check for our building fund.” “I must have misread your message,” Rebekah replied. “Didn’t you say you were making a $10,000 contribution to our building fund (if we’d take them!)?””

BLESSING: But what a blessing, after almost 33 years of ministry, to have my parents make the commitment to become active members in the church where we are serving.

We sang Be Thou My Vision, and I thought about how my eyesight may need progressive lenses, and reading glasses, and soon a new prescription; yet I can see so clearly – more clearly than ever before – when I look at this life, and at the transformation faith makes possible, through the eyes of Jesus.

IMG_8205We are a young church (WFPC will be celebrating 25 years in Sept 2016), and the predominant demographic is families with elementary aged children and teens, but God is also enriching our identity through people like my parents, who were already 60 years old before this congregation was even organized.

Four moments marked the morning like the beauty of the ice-clad branches.

  • One: Listening to Zara Gregory’s offering of special music during the 9:00 Praise service.
  • Two: Singing songs of worship. My heart lifted, even though my voice is croaky.
  • Three: walking into Rebekah’s office to witness my parents meeting with the pastors and elders.
  • Four: standing in front of the congregation, watching Rebekah hug my mum and dad as they made public their commitment to the life of WFPC.

IMG_8217-001Ice? Freezing rain? Miserable winter conditions? I didn’t really notice. I was more attuned to the serendipitous moving of the Spirit of God.

Hold still… shift just a tad to the left… let me get a picture of that…

“And that’s what happened. God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good. There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.” - Genesis 1

 

 

proud of my church and its witness to Jesus

slightly out of focus but enthusiastic Presbyterians from WFPC

slightly out of focus but enthusiastic Presbyterians from WFPC

 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:5-8

John Fawcett addresses Presbytery

John Fawcett addresses Presbytery

REDEMPTIVE MEETING: February may well have been fabulous overall (see yesterday’s post), but the last few days turned out to be pretty rough, featuring Rebekah’s busted back, a seriously distressing dental visit for me, plus an annoyingly bad cold for good measure.

So it was more than gratifying – more like redemptive – to be able to drive over to Greenville for the quarterly meeting of New Hope Presbytery and celebrate ministry milestones with two outstanding men from our church.

First, Bob Beichner was approved as a candidate for ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Bob, a professor at North Carolina State University, is internationally acclaimed as an innovative educator, and has served as an elder at WFPC. He shared an inspirational story about his call and was received enthusiastically.

Bob and John

Bob and John

Then, John Fawcett was received into membership at New Hope Presbytery, and gracefully jumped through the last denominational hoop before his official installation as our associate pastor for discipleship and mission next week.

Like Bob, John spoke eloquently and passionately about his call, and about his commitment to ministry in and through WFPC.

JOY & PASSION: It was quite obvious to everyone gathered in Greenville Saturday afternoon that WFPC is synonymous with commitment, love, passion, joy, and enthusiasm for following Jesus.

Seriously, folks, if that simple approach to living faith out loud becomes the hallmark of how our church presents the Good News, both in our local community and through the community of Presbyterians, then I see nothing but exciting ministry in the years ahead.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”Ephesians 3:20

- DEREK

More images from the meeting of New Hope Presbytery:

 

 

Family + Church + Snow + Food = a fabulous February

DSC_0006-002“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

February has been an interesting month here in Wake Forest; 28 days definitely worthy of a pictorial review. It’s been especially memorable because we are meeting each and every day head on, as followers of the Living Way of Jesus. This life is too important, too stocked full with possibility, for anything less.

So let’s break it down: Family. Church. Weather. Food.

IMG_7243Grandchildren: With Naomi, Craig and the children just two hours north in Richmond, Rebekah and I are perfectly positioned to swoop in, enjoy, then zoom back home again. I have – no kidding – probably a thousand great photographs; but this one, taken by Naomi, tells the story as well as any.

David is three and Beks is 20-months. Naomi and Craig are fostering a creative atmosphere where both children are thriving. There’s very little around our grandchildren that beeps, buzzes, whirls, or flashes. Mostly it’s about wooden blocks, trains, cars, puzzles, books, Legos, and the opportunity to color.

Photographs like this make my heart sing. Enrichment; teachable moments; creativity; imaginative play; joy. They’ve got it all going on.

WFPC: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is, of course, the reason Rebekah and I packed up seventeen years of Brandon and moved to the Piedmont of North Carolina. February marked 18-months in on this adventure, and sometimes we still pinch ourselves and wonder if we’ll wake up one day to discover it’s all some beautiful dream.

"All who believe are welcome at this table"

“All who believe are welcome at this table”

Portrait of A Community at Worship – February 2 – is to date my most ever visited post. We begin each month by sharing bread and wine around the Lord’s Table; it’s an action that speaks eloquently to the beauty of the Jesus-quality of love that unites us.

We are not a community that walks in lock-step, and we certainly don’t all agree when it comes to the social issues, opinions, ideas, politics, theological nuances and more that seem to divide so much of the church in the USA. But we are a family of faith that walks in unity when it comes to our love for Jesus, and our commitment to live faith out loud as we seek to be the presence of Christ, both to one another and this community. We are committed to unity, not uniformity, and there is a world of difference between the two.

We are committed to unity, not uniformity, and there is a world of difference between the two.

DSC_0022-001SNOW-MAGEDDON: February also featured the winteriest of wintery winter days. Snow; ice; single-digit temperatures. If ever there was an indication that we’re not in Florida anymore than this has been it.

But oh how beautiful! The splash of color a cardinal makes against the snowy backdrop. Trees glistening, all dressed in white. Street scenes like Christmas postcards.

Entire roads in our Tyler Run neighborhood blocked off while grownups watched the children ride sleds down the long hills. “Yay! No school!” A carnival atmosphere the first day… then parents increasingly frustrated as schools closed for the fifth, sixth, and seventh days.

nice presentation!

nice presentation!

FOOD & MORE: This has also been the month the “gourmet initiative” took off. If you missed the original explanation, this is my all-year-long Christmas gift for Rebekah. Each week during 2015, Rebekah gets to pick any recipe from the new cookbooks, and I will make it, exactly, according to the instructions; no deviations.

She has picked out some challenging recipes, and I have been having a fun time turning her selections into wonderful meals. Stay tuned for more of these. I’ll try to share a new one at least every couple of weeks. So far, so yummy.

SO WHAT! The “so what” here is our commitment, as a couple, to “live like we mean it.” No half-measures; no wasted time.

IMG_8162February has been a great month, because we are meeting each and every day head on, as followers of the Living Way of Jesus. This life is too important, too stocked full with possibility, for anything less.

- DEREK

(the photo gallery features two more pictures for each category: family, church, weather, and food)

 

 

 

 

 

shoveling snow and following Jesus

IMG_8165 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Hebrews 12

I am now the proud owner of my very own snow shovel. I know, that sounds kind of nerdy, but it’s a fairly big deal for this relatively recent import from the sand and sunshine of Florida.

So I went directly next door and shoveled my parents’ sidewalk, and their front stoop, then a path to their car. I was having so much fun that I shoveled our own front stoop, and sidewalk…

Then I realized how tired I was and so I put the shovel away.

But that was yesterday. Late in the day a lot of the snow turned to slush, and then – overnight – it all froze solid. Now – snow shovel or not – it’s just about impossible to move.

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Image by Naomi Campbell

VIRGINIA: Our daughter Naomi’s family recently moved to Richmond. Their new home is just a couple of hours north from Wake Forest, but they’ve been getting significantly more snow. It’s perfect for small children (and enthusiastic parents)  who like to build snowmen.

Unfortunately, they live in a new development, and the snowplow routing schedule doesn’t acknowledge that their street actually exists. “No problem,” our three-year-old grandson said, “I can use daddy’s snow shovel.”

It was a wonderful idea, but David didn’t last more than a few minutes before turning his attention back to play.

COMMITMENT: Looking at that picture of David, enthusiasm shining brightly all over his face, shoveling snow with one-hundred percent commitment, made me think about the joy, and the enthusiasm, and the “I can shovel the entire street” sense of moment that so often characterizes the first few steps, or miles, or days, of the spiritual journey.

But then reality sets in. We have a bad day, or a difficult week; we lose our cool with our children; we fight with our spouse. We become discouraged, and we quickly lose touch with the shiny newness of faith. And sometimes we wonder why we were so exited before – or we simply forget how we once felt.

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Image by Naomi Campbell

JESUS said that, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

At first glance the great teacher sounds kind of harsh, but the aphorism turns out to be a word of practical encouragement. Because there is no need to look over our shoulder, searching for the enthusiasm we once had. Commitment (and assurance) is always found in the next step, not the previous one.

Commitment (and assurance) is always found in the next step, not the previous one...

SHINY & NEW: The shiny newness and fresh enthusiasm of faith is ours now, not then. And it comes – like the person at the plow, from keeping our eyes on a fixed point ahead. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” - Hebrews 12:2

IMG_8162For the disciple, the Follower of The Way:

  • the journey is the encouragement;
  • the pathway is its own reward;
  • the next step is the best step;
  • the decision to follow is right in front of us every new day;
  • moving forward is always a challenge;
  • and everything becomes possible – everything – when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

park in the early morning sunshine...

park in the early morning sunshine…

fresh footprints in the clean snow (the theology of so-what?)

IMG_8148-001 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25

IMG_8162Good morning from extra snowy Wake Forest. This latest fall – overnight – has been heavy enough to break off several major tree limbs, and it’s a mess outside. A beautiful mess, granted, but a mess nonetheless.

The great irony of this week-long series of snowstorms and deep freezes is how many of the folk who told us “It almost never snows in Wake Forest;” and “It’s been thirty years since we saw single-digit temperatures,” have been posting photographs of themselves from – you guessed it – Florida this week.

The good news is that yesterday – along with around 20,000 other people – I did manage to purchase an authentic, super-sized, snow-shovel. It should be an exhilarating afternoon once the snow stops!

DSC_0027-001SO WHAT: It’s fun to post photos, and – as I pointed out a couple of days ago – it’s a real privilege to have this opportunity to engage so many people in an ongoing conversation about “Living Faith Out Loud.” But today I’d like to explore the “why” of my work, and ask the question, “So What?”

Rebekah – whose preaching (click here for recent sermons) so often inspires my own voice – tends to build every message she delivers around the idea of “So What?” She will share stories; she will wax eloquent; she will exegete; she will analyze; she will explain; she will expound; she will make you laugh; she will make you cry. But then, at some point, she will either say “So What?” out loud, or the challenge will be implied.

It’s a great question. In fact, if this blog were a book, the introduction would likely read something like this:

DSC_0003-002One of the great theological questions of our time is, “So What?”

It’s a beautiful new day; the fresh snowfall is magical, pristine, inviting; the invitation is implied; the challenge has been thrown down, the stage is set. How will my experience of living faith out loud, of living like I mean it, play out on the untarnished surface of this rare opportunity?

It’s rare, because there will ever, only, be one February 26, 2015. This is it.

So, what am I going to do? This blog is the ongoing story of how I am responding to the divine imperative. What kind of a story am I living?

If you are at all curious, read along. For me, it’s the story of Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion.

It’s a story that’s still being written.

IMG_8139Enjoy some more snow photos; think about what it means to be a Follower of The Way; and then immerse yourself in the practical theology of doing.

“If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:25

– DEREK

 

 

a faith that is systemic, not merely topical

DSC_0038BIRDS and more BIRDS: Today’s photographs come from another snowy day here in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It really is beautiful here in the Piedmont, and the birds are grateful for the feeders. I hope you will enjoy the images.

In other news, I’d like to share something from my discipleship class at WFPC. This week (and through Holy Week) my Sunday morning adult-ed class is studying my book, “Reaching Toward Easter.” We are thinking of Lent as a journey, and we are pilgrims together, traveling along this pathway, making our way toward a deeper experience of faith.

Today’s reading is titled, “If You Say that You Love Me…” Here’s a condensed version:

If You Say that You Love Me…

DSC_0012-001“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” – John14:15-16

Question: What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks that keep non-believers from ever darkening the doors of their local Christian church?

Answer: A lack of authenticity, church politics, and the hard to hide truth that the authentic Jesus kind of love is seldom central to community life.

Jesus was crystal clear regarding what he wanted to see when it came to “discipleship.” It’s safe to say that the Lord wasn’t looking for correct doctrine or outward appearances or a social political slant.

“If you love me,” the Master said, “keep my commandments” (John 15:10). Such a simple admonition; but then Jesus always has a way of cutting through the baloney and getting right to the point.

DSC_0033And so Jesus shows us the way, plain and simple. “All righty then. I’ll use small words and speak slowly. Listen up: If you love me – if you truly say that you love me, then follow my directions; demonstrate my love; keep my commandments…”

When we follow Jesus, the Christ-life becomes our life, and the application is by definition systemic, never merely topical.

When my cousin Linda was dying from cancer, and she was becoming defined – more and more – by eternity than by time, we had a long, wonderful conversation via Skype. “I’m not sure anymore,” she told me, “exactly where I come to an end and where God begins...”

So where is that place where we end and where God begins…? It turns out that there is no such place for those who follow closely.

Available at Upper Room and Amazon PRAYER: Challenge us gently, Lord; show us the way; grant us courage. Amen

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Gallery of 22 winter photos from Tuesday/Wednesday:

more snow, and a renewed mind

IMG_8103-001But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have (he thinks differently – he has a different spirit). He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. – Numbers 14:24

Sunday afternoon – finally – we managed to dig out my parents’ steep driveway… and now this morning it’s been snowing for the past four-five hours.

You may or may not have wanted more snow photos today. But then again we may not have wanted any more snow. But here it is… and here we are. So I might as well say, “Isn’t this beautiful,” and enjoy the signal blessing of being here in Wake Forest.

DSC_0071-001PLUG FROM THE MAYOR: There’s nothing like a good boost of encouragement when you need one. I may not be selling many books nowadays (come on, people, it would only take a few of you to get the ball rolling again!), but it turns out that the mayor of Wake Forest liked a recent column enough to use a Derek Maul quote to conclude her “State of the Town” speech Monday evening.

More than a “plug,” I see Mayor Jones’ reference as an indication that, beyond simply being a newcomer, I am now contributing to the collective consciousness of “what it means to live here in this community.”

Being a writer involves the responsibility to introduce new thoughts, to get inside people’s heads and hearts and help to shape the way they see things… but it also involves helping people to articulate the way they already think, and feel, and believe, and to help give other people a voice too.

Even if they are the mayor.

NEW THOUGHTS:

IMG_8090Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2

The Romans 12 quote – along with the “thinks differently” verse from Numbers – remains one of my consistent favorites, and the idea expressed speaks poignantly to what is on my heart today.

We all have this opportunity to help others think new thoughts, and to live new lives. God gives us access to others in varying contexts and to varying degrees. But the truth is that what makes the most difference is not so much something big – a quote that gets a lot of “hits” or “air time” or public exposure – as it is the cumulative, accumulated, impact of tens, and hundreds, and thousands of witnesses living faith out loud from day-to-day.

this morning...

this morning…

That would be you, my friends. Emissaries of new life. Reasons – good reasons – to make the world give pause, to take note, and to believe.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

PS – if you enjoy this blog, and find it to be an encouragement, please consider sharing. Thanks a bunch – DEREK