Sometimes it is a whisper, sometimes a nudge

The scripture above says, Jesus knocks on the door of your heart but only you can let Him into your life.
Once I opened the door to my heart and allowed Him to take residence, I have experienced that He keeps on knocking, nudging, and whispering to us. He does this so we can live out Hebrews 10:24 “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

There are a couple of things we need to do for Him to use us in this way. 1) Take time to stop and listen. Psalm 46:10 says we are to “Be still and know that He is God.” Think about your own life. When you are busy and focused on something, you don’t hear what someone near you might be saying or notice that they might need your help. How then can we hear what God is asking of us if are not taking the time to listen to what He has to say or what He want us to learn?

I am write this post to share and encourage you to tune in and listen to God who wants to share with us what He wants us to do. The simplest of acts can have an impact. Sister Jean B. Bingham says it this way. “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others — as well as on ourselves.” We are called to share. https://www.calledtoshare.com/2020/04/27/shoulder-taps-and-gods-timing/ We are called to live out the scripture, James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? The beauty of acting out our faith is the more we exercise acting on the whispers and nudges, the more He shows us how to let others know we care. Sometimes it is just a text, a phone call, a timely handwritten note. We might drop bagels or some other treat for no apparent reason other than they came to mind. There is power in simply following up with someone after you have said you would pray for them. It is uncanny that no matter the act, time and time again people will say, “how did you know?”, “You doing this came at the perfect time”, or “You have no idea how much this meant to me” I have also been struck recently by how God leads me to answers at a time where I have been challenged in some way. I will read something in a book or the Bible or listen to a devotional that speaks so clearly to my present circumstance.

The key to acting on what God has for you is not doing it for your own gratification. It is not about getting recognition or being patted on the back. It is about opening your heart and mind so that God can tell you who He wants you to serve. A friend calls it “doing awesome things quietly” My dear friend Pamela prays it this way. “Lord, help me discern Your voice and follow You first, the One uniquely worthy of my surrender and allegiance. And may my following You be a draw for others to follow You too.”

It really is a simple process if you allow yourself to slow down. In the midst of the quiet, you will begin to have people come into your mind. When they do, act on it. Open the door so God can be present with you in every moment. You will begin to experience the wonder of being His conduit in allowing His Kingdom to come on earth as it will be heaven. In that moment, you will find yourself becoming “thankful in all things”

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It is all about taking that 1st step

Take a moment to reflect. What are you struggling with these days? Where is there doubt in your life? If we are honest, there is not a day that goes by where life doesn’t bring some type of challenge. I heard the quote the other day “life is like a gym membership with a difficult cancellation policy.” Another one is “life is a merry go round with no way of getting off” Sound familiar? As I wrote in my last post, freedom can only be found when we pray and surrender to God’s ways realizing we are not in control. Tim Keller says it this way.
”Tim Keller-“To the degree you can shed the “unreality” of self-sufficiency, to that degree your prayer life will become richer and deeper”. So in the midst of whatever life is throwing at you, the first step is to let go and trust that God will carry you through. The first step has to be ours as a sign of our willingness to trust. You can read about these first steps throughout the Bible. Here are just a few:
Moses picking up the snake trusting it will turn into a staff. Moses placing the staff into the water so that sea would part for his people. Abraham placing his son Isaac on the altar the four men taking their paralyzed friend to Jesus. A father coming to Jesus asking for him to heal his child. The sick woman who reaches forward to touch Jesus’ cloak hoping it will heal her. The Prodigal son turning around and taking the 1st step back toward his father.
The first step for them and for us is placing our hope in and trusting that God is in control no matter what the circumstances. Only then can we begin to experience the freedom to live life in the way it was meant to be lived.

The same thing can be said about taking steps to to build relationships with those with whom we disagree, Jim Denison shares four steps found in the Bible.

  1. Ask the Lord where and how to begin, confident that he will lead us to those he is already preparing for our initiative (cf. Acts 16:9–10).
  2. Pray for the humility to learn what we do not know and to change what we need to change (Philippians 2:3Proverbs 18:12).
  3. Ask for the words to speak and the grace with which to share them, knowing that life transformation is not our work but that of the Spirit (John 16:7–11).
  4. Trust the results to the God who knows our hearts and loves us unconditionally (1 Samuel 16:7Romans 5:8).

As I wrote a couple posts back, it all comes down to where you place your trust. Take the first step today to Love God with all your heart, Love others as He loves you, and then let go and experience the freedom of trusting God with the outcome.

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Who can we trust?

It has now been a couple of weeks since we watched our elected officials grapple with whether the President of the United States should be impeached for a second time. No matter which side you fell on regarding this decision, I found myself asking these questions. Was it true that the constitution does not allow for an impeachment after they leave office? Did the President know folks were coming to storm the Capitol? Was this just done because the Democrats wanted one more shot at Mr. Trump? Were the news outlets reporting objectively or was their desire to just sell more advertising?
These questions led me back to my main question, Who can we trust? We all have people in our lives that we think we know and to whom we can depend. This was further compounded for me when I heard about two strong Christian leaders who were living sinful private lives while leading thousands to and in their faith journeys. I was saddened to hear this had happened but was not surprised. Why? Because, like many leaders in the bible and like most of us, they fell prey to the things of the world. The end result is, should we choose to place our trust in man, we will ultimately be disappointed. Nor, can our family, friends, and colleagues truly trust us as we will make mistakes as well. The Bible makes it clear in Romans 3:23 that ALL not some “sin and therefore fall short of the glory of God” Meaning, people will disappoint us and we will disappoint others. It also means that there is no one we can truly trust except for God.

So what is the answer? It is that at the end of the day, we are only responsible for ourselves. I don’t mean this in a selfish, “it’s all about me way”. Quite the opposite. we need to have an attitude that no matter what comes our way, no matter how someone else wrongs us, how we respond is the choice we get to make. God exhorts us to “turn the other cheek”. He says “love others as I have loved you.”

It is all about to what are you tethered? Is it to the world or to the One who created you and knows how you best should live. I wrote about this concept a while back. Here is the link http://thankfulinallthings.com/to-what-are-you-tethered/

So how do we do it? If you have been reading my blog, you know Andrew Murray says it happens when we “Abide in Christ” like branches cling to the vine. Gregory Boyd in Present Perfect says we need to remind ourselves that “God is in the Now”. He goes on to say when we strive to honor Him the we can trust in the outcome. When we allow ourselves to detach from God’s presence thinking we can live life on our own power, like a branch, without the vine’s nourishment, like the faith leaders who lost their way, we lose our strength and the ability to live as we were meant to live. Charles Stanley says another way to think of it is to stop and wait. “The word wait has a different sense here—it means “pause for further instructions.” It’s not passivity; rather, we must choose to stop our actions and listen for God’s directive. Sometimes the Lord is silent for a season, but He has a purpose. He knows the perfect time for us to act, and until that moment, He wants us to wait. More strength and character are required to be still in the midst of a storm than to frantically seek our own solution.” May we all go out into our worlds acknowledging our desire to do things under our own power. When we do, the only one we can truly trust, promises to make us strong enough to persevere through whatever challenges or disappointments that come our way. Allowing us to remain “thankful in all things”.

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Musings on a snowy day

What is it about a snow day? Where I live in Charlottesville, VA, snow days are a big deal. Everyone talks about it for days before and things shut or slow down during and after the event for a couple of days. Part of the attraction is that sometimes because of the mountains to our west and the Atlantic Ocean not far to our east, it goes around us and doesn’t happen at all. We got one today 😀

Watching the snow fall early and into the morning, I relished it’s beauty and the way it brings a fresh look to my usual perspective. The view from in front of my house or off the back deck is the same. (see below) Yet, it has been changed by the newly made winter wonderland. What came to mind is that it is only temporary. It is exciting and allows us to enjoy something new but pretty soon it melts away and the view is back to what it was before. The deer poop in the back yard is still there. It is just under the white blanket that will soon go away.

This is true about our lives as well. How many times do we try or do new things hoping they (like the snow over the deer poop) will cover up what is really bothering us? Interestingly, what deer leave behind can be harmful to your yard if not removed. https://mybackyardlife.com/what-to-do-with-deer-poop-in-yard/ The same can be said if we don’t deal with what causes stress and worry in our lives. It just spreads and causes more damage. If we are to remain thankful in all things, we need to find what brings us our purpose and our joy. Only then can we fight the circumstances that want to rob us of that very thing.
Paul David Tripp says it this way. “Looking to creation to do for us what it was not meant to do will not only disappoint us, it will enslave us, and for that there is rescuing grace.  We need to be constantly pointed toward the One who alone is able to satisfy the longing of our hearts.” What the world has to offer us is like the snow. It is temporal and will melt away leaving us disappointed and once again, yearning for something more.
Most of us know the Latin phrase, carpe diem, meaning “seize the day.” What we all need though is Coram Deo which is Integrity found when men and women live their lives knowing they were created to be in a relationship with God. A Ligonier ministry writer said it this way. “It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.” What it is not is a life that continues to be disappointed as it goes from one experience or snow day to another hoping to find happiness.
The good news is that God makes it all possible. He desires to be in a relationship with us and says the darkness of our imperfections are made as white as freshly fallen snow. Isaiah 1:18. James 4:8, says “if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us” and when we do we can have that snow day experience exclaiming “new every morning, new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” https://youtu.be/TYyZCCs5bJc

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Isn’t it great when someone says you made a difference no matter how small or large?

Affordable housing was the topic on my radio show a couple weeks ago. I had the opportunity to speak with two Realtors whose initiatives resulted in four families buying homes when they never thought it possible. I congratulated them saying, “you all can always look back and be thankful knowing your efforts has and will In the future, help others experience homeownership.” It reminded me that our individual decisions to go out and serve can and will make the world a better place. I saw a powerful video about Rick Rescorla that illustrated this very point. Very few know his name but his one act cost him his life but saved the lives of 2700 fellow employees. https://youtu.be/J8XfwZAKPMk As I wrote last week, he exemplifies choosing not to retreat but to strive forward on behalf of others.

Two scripture passages jump out at me when thinking about how knowing we have made a difference in the world allows us to be thankful. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 2 Corinthians 9:11,12 “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

The ultimate verse though is Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The greatest motivation to do good works is not so that we can be applauded or told how much someone appreciates you. It is that God exhibited the greatest act of love by allowing His son to die for us and therefore when we got out to serve others, It is like we are serving Jesus himself.

I read a book years ago with the title, The Five People You Meet In Heaven  by Mitch Albom. It follows the life and death of a man named Eddie who is killed and sent to heaven, where he encounters five people who had a significant impact upon him while he was alive. Thinking about it reminds me of the opportunity each of us has to create positive or negative ripples out into the world. I think we would all agree, like Eddie in the book, we would rather have people smiling when they say to you “I remember when you…….” I bet the almost 2700 people who survived the tower collapse on 9/11 remember what Rick Rescorla did for them.

“Ever present Father, You are active in everything and everyone and every moment, moving the world toward the full manifestation of your loving reign. Help us to love ourselves wholly up to you; to be instruments of your will in this and every moment” Gregory Boyd

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Thoughts on how to remain thankful

Bruce Pulver shared how he thinks of the word Hope. That led me to respond this way.

Bruce Pulver
“HOPE.
Have
Overwhelmingly
Positive
Expectations”
My response/add on
Having Hope allows us to remain
FOCUSED
Focused
On
Creating
Unbelievable
Success
Every
Day

Having this kind of mindset allows me to make the most of each day so I, by God’s grace, can be a better person tomorrow. Another way I look at it is with the two words RISE UP which comes from the verse Isaiah 60:1-3

60 “Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you. Nations will come to your light. And kings will see the shining-greatness of the Lord on you.

God calls us Each and every day to RISE UP/P
Resolved Intentional Striving for Eternal things. W Unbelievable Purpose/Passion. Over this past month or so, I have been trying to live out Gregory Boyd’s Exhortation to live out my life knowing “God is in the Now” and when I do it makes the [Present Perfect] (the name of his book)
When I can stay in the moment it pushes away all the distractions, discouragement, and challenges so that I can live a life of gratitude. It is not that the adversity disappears. The story of Peter walking on the water In Matthew 14:22-33 illustrates this very point. The storm was raging while he was out there. It wasn’t until he took his eyes off of Jesus that he realized the wind and the waves. When he did, he immediately sank. Isn’t that just like us. When we start trying to do things on our own power the stuff comes flooding back in leaving us discouraged and defeated. We just need to choose to remember that God loves us and that is all that matters. When We go out into the world virtually or in person with that thought process it is much easier to be thankful and as Miles McPherson encourages, strive to honor those who cross our paths.
How do we stay in the Now? Here are a couple things I have done.
1) I have set a reminder on my phone at 6am, 9am,noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. It comes up at BSKIG. Be still and know that I am God. When I see the notice, I stop and recite The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. I try to add things into both that bring up things that are going on in my life at that point in the day. An example is below.
2) I try to commit to honoring every person I encounter whether on the phone, via zoom, or in person. A quick prayer, “Lord, let me honor this person in this interaction so that they might see You in my conversation with them”

These simple things have helped me greatly in remaining thankful during these mind boggling times. I hope they will in some way help you as well. If it has, please forward it to others and ask them to subscribe so they can receive an email when Impost new content. You can reach me via email at michael@mrg7175.com.

My Quarantine version of Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

As I navigate the lonely paths of Covid19, The Lord will be my guide and His presence is all I need 

Whether I think it is needed or not, I will use this time for rest and quiet reflection. 

So that my soul can be refreshed 

As He guides me where He wants me to be used bring Glory and honor to His name. 

Even though I walk

 through the valley of people wearing masks

I will fear no evil,

He gives my faith confidence so that I can go or do wherever He feels the need to send me. 

 Knowing even in self-isolation you are with me and won’t forsake me. 

Like the shepherds’ rod and staff, your Word and the Holy Spirit will teach and comfort me. 

Even in the midst of my adversity, You will abundantly provide all that I need so that I will it be afraid. 

Like an anointing, You will bless and protect me from whatever evil that wants to prey on me. 

You will fill me with your spirit so that cup of love you want me to share overflows. 

I count and trust on the contentment of your love for as long as I am to live.

This assurance brings joy knowing that I will be welcomed and will forever dwell in the house that you went and prepared for me. 


What have you learned from the Covid19 Quarantine?

My Quarantine version of Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
As I navigate the lonely paths of Covid19, The Lord will be my guide and His presence is all I need
Whether I think it is needed or not, I will use this time for rest and quiet reflection.
So that my soul can be refreshed
As He guides me where He wants me to be used bring Glory and honor to His name.
Even though I walk
through the valley of people wearing masks
I will fear no evil,
He gives my faith confidence so that I can go or do wherever He feels the need to send me.
Knowing even in self-isolation you are with me and won’t forsake me.
Like the shepherds’ rod and staff, your Word and the Holy Spirit will teach and comfort me.
Even in the midst of my adversity, You will abundantly provide all that I need so that I will it be afraid.
Like an anointing, You will bless and protect me from whatever evil that wants to prey on me.
You will fill me with your spirit so that cup of love you want me to share overflows.
I count and trust on the contentment of your love for as long as I am to live.
This assurance brings joy knowing that I will be welcomed and will forever dwell in the house that you went and prepared for me.


Quarantine is hard. I started writing this Friday. What happened to TGIF? Hello! Who else finds themselves asking, “What does it matter that is the weekend? It is another day just like yesterday and the day before, and the day before.” I then ask God, “in the midst of all that is going on, how am I to remain, “thankful in all things?”
A friend’s family recently spent a week on the eastern shore of Virginia for what I found out was their annual spiritual retreat. I loved the idea of it yet realized, that is something I have never intentionally done for an extended period of time. The key word I realized was intentionally because my circumstances have now provided two recent seasons of spiritual retreat. Last year, Guillain Barre Syndrome stopped me in my tracks physically. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrieThis year my Covid19 self-isolation due to my GBS compromised immune system has provided another 5 months of elongated down time for introspection of who I am before God. I read Isaiah 40:31 differently this week. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.

Notice it says those who WAIT. Webster defines wait this way. “stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens” or “a period of time used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen.” I am sure all of us in some way or another are experiencing the angst of waiting. I hear folks say all the time, “if I just knew when this would all be over it would be so much easier to manage”. Yet wait in this verse means something much more. The Barnes bible commentary unpacks it this way. “The word rendered ‘wait upon’ here (from קוה qâvâh), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. It is applicable to those who are in circumstances of danger or want, and who look to him for his merciful interposition.“He refers to those who were suffering a long and grievous captivity in Babylon but this phrase is applicable also to all who feel, because of this uncertainty, that they are weak, feeble, guilty, and helpless.” God says wait and trust in Me. Waiting does not mean doing nothing, Barnes continues, “It does not imply inactivity or laziness, it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him – a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object”. “What are you doing while you wait? Will you look back when (please Lord) this is over with a feeling that you used this time of waiting well?

There are so many stories out there of people who have done extraordinary things in periods of time out. Shakespeare wrote King Lear,’ ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ as London reeled from the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and an outbreak of the bubonic plague the following year. Paul wrote the epistles Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon from his Rome prison cell. Isaac Newton discovered gravity during an 18 month quarantine. I recently watched Glenn Lundy http://Www.glennlundy.com interview Joe Buckner who spent time in prison. He shared he had no idea that his journaling during his confinement would turn into 2 books and help him become successful in business.https://yorkathleticsmfg.com/blogs/loversandfighters/beautifully-savage-the-joe-buckner-story

It is up to you. You can succumb to feeling sorry for yourself wishing that things could be different or will you wait on the Lord? When we do, He promises to “lift you up with a renewed strength. Allowing you to soar high on wings like eagles. You will go out ready to serve without growing weary” even if it is from the confines of your home using Zoom, phone or mailed hand written notes. You might even drop curbside pick up things on people’ porches.

Who knows. Maybe you will write a book, a blog people read 😀, or invent the next greatest thing. What I can tell you is just commit to making a difference and your part of the world will be better for it. If you do nothing else, the time you spent waiting on the Lord will have been time well spent. It’s not too late. As in another place in Isaiah, wait and listen for “the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And be willing to say, “Here am I. Send me!”

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