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After the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, one man from each of the 12 tribes walked back into the previously flooded, now miraculously parted waterway and picked up a large stone.

An odd choice, it might appear, unless we read of the purpose for the stones.

“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7)

This extremely visual account from Hebrew history is incredibly relevant to us today.

Particularly the five-word question that Joshua said would come from generations of children.

“What do these stones mean?”

The people in Joshua’s day could easily recall the meaning of those stones and the memories of God’s deliverance power that accrued to the Israelites. Trusting God and obeying God was always the best way because He could ALWAYS deliver on His promises if His children obeyed Him.

The stones served as a tangible reminder of God’s endless love, earthly power and eternal purpose.

You and I haven’t walked across the dried bottom of a miraculously stopped up river. But we have been delivered by God’s grace through some very difficult emotional, physical, financial or spiritual obstacles.

It is that deliverance that we should memorialize with stories or keepsakes or even with dedicated places of prayer in our homes or churches.

And those stories or keepsakes or dedicated places of prayer should prompt questions by others — particularly children — about why we have such memorials.

“God was SO good to me and here’s what He did…..” should be our introduction to a recounting of God’s grace, shared with inquiring hearts.

I want to encourage you to set up “stones” in your life that prompt children or other adults to ask questions about God’s intercession in your life.

Write out a testimony of how God helped you through a tough situation.

Frame some pictures of you serving in an important volunteer ministry at church and put them in places that people will see them and ask about the activity.

Prepare a prayer garden in your yard or at your church so that people can inquire as to its purpose and be told of God’s intervening nature.

Assemble a small, decorative array of stones — picked up on the grounds of an missions ministry outpost — in a pretty bowl on your work desk and be prepared to explain the work of the Lord in that place.

Perhaps you’re one who can memorialize a deliverance from alcoholism by smashing booze bottles into tiny pieces and gluing them to the base of a small cross placed on your desk.

People need to see us memorialize our deliverance so that we can teach them about Him.

As they do, some just might want to join us on the “other side” of the river.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Infomercial tycoons have made millions of dollars from people who want assured success via speaking and decision-making strategies.

Perhaps you’ve attended such a session or purchased a CD series promising a faster path to prosperity.

The Bible can save us a ton of money, though, in our pursuit of genuine prosperity of the heart, mind and soul.

And by living out the very simple principle of Joshua 1, we can even anticipate prosperity of the tangible.

In a beautifully crafted affirmation of God’s plan for Joshua’s blessing, the Lord spoke these words as the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land:

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:7-8)

My goodness.

Check out that last sentence again.

“Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

I want to prosper and succeed in all I do.

So do you.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be tall, dark and handsome with perfect white teeth and toned, tanned skin in order to experience the contentment of success promised by infomercial tycoons.

We simply have to read the Bible daily and meditate day and night on what we’ve learned so as to not wander off the path of faithfulness.

It’s about spiritual humility, not physical or mental ability.

Do what God asks.

Receive what God promises.

I like that formula.

It’s simple.

And I need simple.

Perhaps you do, too.

Let’s be strong. Let’s be courageous. Let’s stick to the path of faith.

Favors from our Father will follow if we do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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What is fun for you?

Doing good things that please God?

Or doing things that don’t?

The Bible says that God sees all we do and say.

If what we do or what we say is enjoyable to Him, we’re good to go spiritually.

The reverse is true, of course.

Here’s a concise scripture regarding this topic:

“Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.” (Proverbs 10:23)

People ignoring God’s commands sometimes have a lot of fun in their sinful choices regarding sexual immorality, coarse joking, unethical financial dealings and other ungodly behaviors. But the clock is ticking on that kind of fun and the bomb of consequences will eventually explode with costly consequences, sometimes in this life but definitely in the next.

People living wisely, though, gain pleasure from thinking and living in the way of godliness. Pleasure is more enduring than fun. Pleasure is the fruit of good choices.

I’d rather have a life pattern that yields mellow, no-regrets pleasure than I would random flashes of intense fun that sprout from sin yet are destined to wilt in the heat of God’s judgment.

There is no price tag that we can put on a clear conscience. It is invaluable.

Let’s live wisely in order to gain that which can only come from the overflow of living to please God.

It’s the more pleasurable path.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Most trees don’t develop deep roots unless they have to.

If plants have frequent access to water in the first few feet of soil, the roots spread wide but not deep.

This is why so many trees are toppled in warm climates when hurricanes strike.

But there are a few tree varieties that never topple in the storms.

They might be stripped of leaves or even branches, but the trunk remains.

Why?

Because of deep roots.

The plant kingdom teaches us something else about deep roots.

They are the survival pipeline when droughts hit.

Plants without deep roots dry up and die.

How do deep-rooted plants avoid this outcome?

By having to keep reaching, reaching and reaching with roots until the sustaining water was found.

I have a garden and I have trained my plants to not require watering every day.

Why? Because some days I am just not around to do it and I don’t want them to die as a result.

Listen, we need deep roots of faith because we experience emotional or financial and physical wellness droughts.

Sometimes we’re in a spiritual drought where it seems that blessings are rare and burdens are many.

At such times, our roots can grow deeper through prayer, through Bible study, through worship and through conversation with other believers as we seek after the everflowing Living Water of God’s Truth.

We will feel parched at times. But we will find the purpose of the parching — to deepen our roots in preparation for a more godly life.

We will be on our way toward becoming oaks of righteousness rather than swaying reeds of comfort and convenience.

Here’s the verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that prompted this message:

“The godly have deep roots.” (Proverbs 12:3)

No matter what storms might batter and strip our branches, no matter what droughts shrivel our leaves, let’s remain alive and standing firm because we’ve sent our spiritual roots deep into God’s heart through prayer, worship, study and Christian fellowship.

It’s what godly people do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As a former business editor for a group of newspapers, I enjoy reading articles regarding workplace relationships and management styles.

I read an article this morning that can have a direct benefit for Christians who practice the lessons described by the author.

Published orginally in Inc. magazine, the article describes seven characteristics of likeable bosses who foster greater productivity among employees.

As I read this list, I was reminded that these same seven characteristics can help Christians to be more likeable in the workplace or schools or neighborhood or at home.

And the more likeable we are, the more “listen-able” we are to the non-Christians around us.

In view of our mission to share faith with others according to the timing and leading of the Holy Spirit, boosting our ability to influence others is a very important thing.

So let’s appy these faith-adapted principles at every opportunity.

1. Be Friendly

Sounds obvious, but simply taking a moment to greet your unsaved friends by name and make small talk with them goes a long way toward increasing your likeability. Be as approachable and accessible as possible. Take time to compliment others and ask them how their day is going. Be patient; remember that it’s important to set aside time for your people, no matter how busy you are. In fact, that busyness — yours and theirs — makes a friendly word even more important.

2. Be Available

Some pretty amazing ideas for life success come from non-Christians, but if the Christians aren’t approachable by non-Christians, most of these ideas will never surface. Non-Christians are more likely to come to share their ideas and potential solutions when their Christians make it clear that they value their others’ opinions and want to hear them. While not every idea is going to be a winner, it’s very much in your interest to hear people out. Showing non-Christians that their opinions and ideas are important to your life is a wonderful way to keep your relationships energized and happy–and boost your likeability along the way.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, so try to be flexible whenever you can. Decide what rules you will make exceptions for and avoid putting too much stress on the little things. Be understanding when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. Offer second chances whenever possible. Make sure that the work of living and serving gets done, but be flexible when it comes to personal matters, weather, or traffic.

4. Be Positive

Just as negative energy can rub off on others, so can positive energy. While negative emotions on your part tend to create negative outcomes in both your unsaved friends and your organization, positive emotions help your friends open up to a universe of new options and alternatives. Be optimistic and genuine with the people living around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making your relationships healthy and constructive.

5. Be Dependable

You need to believe that your non-Christian friends will do the right things at the right time, and they need to be able to depend on you to support them in good times and bad. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, no matter how small. Your unsaved friends must be able to trust you because their future is in your hands. Being an unreliable Christian will result in unhappy and distant relationships with unsaved people who would rather be friends with someone else.

6. Be Grateful

Everyone wants to know how they are doing, so give feedback. Praise is just important as criticism, and you should regularly complement your non-Christian friends for a job well done. As human beings, we subconsciously seek praise in all aspects of our lives, including the job. Show your appreciation in a variety of ways. Keep it fresh and genuine.

7. Be Compassionate

Try to see yourself through your non-Christian friend’s eyes–are you someone you would like? Put yourself in your others’ shoes and have compassion for their trials and tribulations as well as their accomplishments and victories. Having (and showing) true compassion for your non-Christian friends might take effort on your part, but the results will be well worth it. Your people will respect you as a Christian, and they will find you more likeable–increasing their loyalty and effectiveness as a result.

Let’s do our best to apply these principles. There are many people who need close relationships that these measures can help to produce.

As always, I love you
Martin

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