Follow Andrew to Freedom

by Deb Hackett

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). John 1:42 NIV

I remember when I was offered writing mentorship. I was at lunch with a friend, and we were working on an upcoming presentation she was giving. Once we finished, it happened. She looked across the table at me. and I got that feeling. You know the one. That feeling. Halfway between nauseous, rabbit in headlights, and so excited you can’t sit still. The spirit was up to something.

“Tell me again what you write?” she asked sweetly, and sipped on her coffee. I politely explained that I was working on a contemporary romance. She expressed disbelief at not knowing my genre. But I’d been deliberate about that. I didn’t want to be ‘that friend’ who always had writing questions. It seems the Lord had other plans.

And so, a day later she was yelling down the phone at me to send her the chapters while I resisted. What I actually wanted to do was completely rearrange the refrigerator, closets, garage, hide under my desk, and throw up.

Have you ever been in that position? Where you’ve been working at a dream, maybe for years, and at the first sign of forward movement you want to run in the other direction? Perhaps you’ve been asked to serve in a particular ministry or offered a new role at work. Then on the eve of fruition, you’re too scared to act.

Or how about this, you take the opportunity, only to be assaulted by crippling doubt. I was privileged to serve on my previous church’s worship team for six years. But even into year six, I battled the voice that whispered I wasn’t good enough, and routinely fought the urge to quit, despite loving the people and the role.

Andrew was the first disciple to be called by Jesus. (Some accounts have him recruited with Simon, but John’s Gospel says Andrew was first). What did Andrew do next? He went and got his brother and brought him to Christ (John 1:40-42). Then a little later in Scripture, some Gentiles come to see Jesus. They approach Philip, but instead of Philip taking them to Jesus, he talks to Andrew, and then they both introduce the visitors to the Lord (John 12:20-23).

In a third instance, Jesus has been preaching to thousands of people, it’s late, and folks are getting hungry. The disciples suggest he send the crowd away, but Jesus tasks them with finding food for them. They are nonplussed. Andrew comes across a small boy, who had five loaves of bread and two fish. Without hesitation, Andrew does what has by now, I think, become second nature. He brings the boy to Jesus. And the rest, is one of the most beloved Bible stories of all time (John 6:1-14).

What we don’t see in any of these events is Andrew second guessing. He doesn’t second guess what he’s got to offer, he doesn’t second guess what people will think, and at no point do we see him worrying about what will happen next.

Andrew knew. He knew two vitally important things. One, that Jesus loved him completely for who he was. And two, that all he was called to do, was what he was called to do. What happened after that wasn’t on him. We never see Andrew worry about the result of his actions.

Imagine if we practiced that discipline. If we took the talent we’ve been given, used it the way we were called to, and did so without being paralyzed by what the outcome might be. It’s our job to bring the offering, and the Lord’s to use it in His way.

Allow that truth to seep into your heart and live free, because Christ has set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 1:5 NIV

About the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives in England with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What paralyzes you?

Taking Heart in the Heartache

by Beth Duewel and Debb Hackett 
@DuewelBeth
@debb_hackett

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV

Debb: My family is in a season of uncertainty as my husband’s current role in the military comes to an end, and we wait to see where we’ll go next. After years in our present location, it’s hard to start living through the ‘last time we’ll do this, go there, see them’ moments, especially as we don’t have anything to run toward yet. I look around at the families who are rooted in this community we have loved and think how different their predictable lives seem to ours.

I acknowledge this is solidly a first world problem. We aren’t in danger, hungry, or homeless, and we have no major health concerns. But each day, the not-knowing gets a little harder. I don’t want to waste these last few months in this mood.

Beth: I get this! When my daughter was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I found myself living in the space of “She may never graduate, drive a car…” It was a crowded place to dwell, and I must have been some kind of delirious to worry about such temporary things. The not-knowing kept me anxious. Moody. Makeup-less. Then one day her neurologist said, “You may want to at least try to look optimistic, because we really don’t want to make her think she is not going to be okay.”

That’s the thing: Jesus didn’t put on a face and pretend it was going to be okay, but assured that we can expect peace even though it’s not. Just imagine, in the early chapters of John, Jesus tells the disciples what will happen. He will go away. They will suffer. But, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33 NIV). He knew that in His absence their tired hearts could know the home of His presence.  

Deb: So Beth, how do we do it? Even in the short time of writing this, we’ve seen our lives change. A lot of those ‘lasts’ have been taken away. How do we find peace and take heart in heartache? Even as streets and grocery store shelves are eerily empty, when schools and playgrounds are closed and everything, even church, looks different? When so much we knew in life has shifted? No one’s shooting, but the military folks I know agree we are at war.

Beth: Just like any battle, the not knowing is the hardest. Eventually, we exhaust ourselves. We have somewhere to run to though, a destination, a home even. Because Jesus says this in verse 32, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32 NIV).

The thought of Jesus abruptly leaving had to have been a frightening thought for His disciples. The anxious worry of being scattered to their own homes, of being truly alone, would have been a shock after the security of traveling together for three years.

We now know this was one of the last conversations between Jesus and His disciples. Although Jesus knew what waited ahead—trouble then triumph—He offered harmony in the middle of both. His promises give comfort a voice. I am not alone. In me you will have peace. I have overcome the world. These truths, re-read after a makeup-streaked day of work in the ER, tell me it’s going to be all right. This connection is vital to our fierce, soul-filled peace. Life may shift and change, but we can expect the best because “…my Father is with me.”  

Debb: And that’s how we make it through whatever life throws at us—uncertainty, fear, anxiety, illness, or heartbreak. My family has always known and lived the trouble, but now more than ever, we need to claim the promise: we can take heart because Jesus has been to each of those hard, emotional places before us, and we know that in the end, The Story concludes in victory. He wins. And so do we.

TWEETABLE
Taking Heart in the Heartache – an encouraging conversation between @DuewelBeth and @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

beth duewel (2)
fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the authors: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How does knowing the end of the story help you live in the here and now?

 

Preparing the Soil of Your Heart

by Debb Hackett @Debb_Hackett

In the fall, I check the strength my biceps for the hours I know I will spend leaf blowing and bagging. This isn’t anything I ever did when I lived in England, but despite the hard work, it remains a joy because it’s still a multicolored novelty. At least until the next good wind gives me another yard-full. Then I might frown for a moment.

Fall isn’t traditionally a time we think about planting seeds; it’s when we watch the foliage lighting up the horizon before falling away. The trees then grow dormant over the winter, only to burst to life again in a blaze of spring glory. But even when the plants are “sleeping” they’re preparing for spring.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:23, NIV

The Parable of the Sower was a metaphor about different responses to the Word of God. Even when we have heard and responded, there can be challenges that can draw us away from the Lord: distractions that can pull our eyes from the life-giving message of the cross to focus elsewhere.

Both seeds grew. As I pondered the difference between the thorny ground and the good soil, I was struck by how slim the difference was between the two types. It’s the same with my heart. How often am I walking closely with the Lord, but then begin to fixate on my circumstances?

Jesus, in His great love and mercy knew that we’d face challenges. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). He is greater than anything we can encounter here on earth. In order to stay healthy, we need to aim our face toward the Son, giver of life and hope.

We follow His teaching, asking Him to guide our steps. We try to live faithful lives that bear fruit. But in order to grow anything, the soil needs tending. So how do we prepare the garden of our hearts to foster future growth?

I’m checking for weeds, things that distract me from the Gospel, and I’m fertilizing the soil, putting in the nutrients that will feed new growth. I’m spending time reading the Word, studying it, and applying it to my life. I’m worshiping in my car, my kitchen and of course — in the shower, I am belting praise out unless the house is sleeping. Finally, I’m fellowshiping with other believers who can encourage me as I go.

This fall as the leaves tumble, let them be a reminder to take the time to tend our hearts to keep them hospitable to future new growth. It’s the way to keep us from growing hard towards the God who loves us passionately. Then we will be ready for whatever lies ahead, for a new season of challenge and abundant life.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105, NIV

TWEETABLE
Preparing the Soil of Your Heart – insight from @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How do you keep your heart soft towards God?

See the Light

by Debb Hackett @debb_hackett

It was an hour before sunrise and the earth was shrouded in darkness. Not quite formless or desolate, like in Genesis 1, but definitely moody…

Some weeks ago I had the joy of attending a writers’ retreat in the heart of Amish country, in Lancaster, PA. As morning beckoned the sun, and it began to raise its sleepy head, the early shadows started forming. I walked into the dining room to have a quiet time of prayer, but was distracted by the sky. Shafts of golden light were embellishing the countryside, giving evidence to the hidden sun’s presence. It struck me that nature, God’s grand design, was providing me a metaphor to my relationship with the Father.

You see, I knew the sun was there, I just couldn’t see it. The beautiful evidence was right in front of me. But while certain parts of the sky were gloriously lit up, the shadows it caused kept some parts of the scene concealed. The work of the sun and its position below the tree line were unmistakable.

Life is the same. Our Bibles teach us the Lord is with us, and we know it in our hearts. Yet we don’t can’t take His hand in a frightening moment. Because the Lord isn’t a tangible, physical presence.

Except He is. Or rather the effect of his Spirit in our life is.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he assures his readers that when we believe in Jesus Christ and His saving power, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. “In Him…after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB). His Spirit is there to provide life, guidance, and instruction (John 16:5-11).

He is not always a discernible presence, but we can be sure He is within us. In Scripture, it is an indisputable fact. We may not see Him, but we can see the evidence of His indwelling. The fruits He produces are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB). Just like the rays of a hidden sun.

God’s Spirit reveals Himself all around me as well. Just like I don’t have to see the sun or the air to know they are present, so it is with the Lord. In the hardest moments of my life, hindsight has revealed the Lord was right alongside me. He was there when my husband whispered Scripture after we lost a baby to miscarriage. He was there when a friend brought flowers after news of a sudden death. When I was stretchered off a ski slope and wheeled into surgery, He was there in the skill of the medics. (And also in quieting my fear. Being skied down a mountain in a sled isn’t for the faint of heart.)

When I know just the right thing to pray for a friend who’s struggling, or feel the urge to stop and give a meal to a homeless person, learn their name and pray for them, that’s not because I’m a champion at love, but because the King of Love lives inside me and isn’t sleeping.

We might not physically see Jesus within us, beside us, before or behind us, but He is there. The evidence is compelling. Be encouraged to look for the signs. Look today for the tangible signs of God.

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                                                                                                                                                  Hebrews 11:1 NASB

TWEETABLE
See the Light – insight from @Debb_Hackett on finding God in the dark on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What evidences of God’s presence have you noticed lately?

Faith for Miracles

by Debb Hackett @debb_hackett

Last fall, my ten-year-old daughter needed two rounds of reconstructive ear surgery. She’s had problems since she was a toddler and has worn hefty hearing aids since she was four. Friends told me they were believing and praying for miraculous restoration, but in all honesty, I found I couldn’t.

I know Jesus loves me, and I know He loves my daughter, formed her in my womb, and has numbered each hair on her head. I had all kinds of faith for miracles in the lives of others, but none for my own family. I was too scared.

 My problem wasn’t believing that He could, it was trusting that He would. I had forgotten how much Jesus loves my daughter. More than even me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).”

We have just celebrated the glory of the resurrection. God not only showing His power, but His all-encompassing love. He loved us all the way to the cross. And not just at the cross, but in our present everyday struggles and successes, too.

A few weeks later, with tear-filled eyes, I dropped her off at the carpool stop and watched her bounce into school without hearing aids for the first time ever. That was when I dared to believe I had witnessed something incredible. She was well. At that moment, I finally stopped being a coward and started calling it what it was all along: a miracle.

My situation and reaction reminded me of Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna (see Luke 1-2). Four people who were waiting in eager anticipation for Jesus. Nowhere in Scripture do we see them uncertain about whether He was coming, or if He would indeed be the King they anticipated. They expected something miraculous, and look at what they got. A King who defeated death and saved His people from their sins. One who would rule for eternity.

So now I’m trying something different: I’ve made a spiritual resolution. I’ve walked with the Lord for over thirty years and have seen amazing things happen first-hand. I’ve heard even more stories of the Lord saving, providing for, healing, or setting people free. In 2018, when one of my close friends was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, this time I waited expectantly for miracles. Sure enough, there have been, praise God. Despite being too ill to complete all the chemotherapy, there was no sign of any cancer in her body at the most recent scan.

As the trials come (and Jesus did warn us about the trials), I am determined to see them as opportunities for the Lord to show off His love.

…Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.   Matthew 17:20 NASB

TWEETABLE
Faith for Miracles – insight and honesty from @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What are you trusting God for right now?

 

Souls as Clean as Snow

by Debb Hackett @Debb_Hackett

It’s that time of year. For anyone living in the northern two-thirds of the United States, the weather seems to lurch from near-Armageddon amounts of snow or ice, and frostbite causing temperatures, or beautiful spring-like warmth that offers a welcome respite from the full-on days of winter.

We are a family of skiers. Every Saturday sees us up at 5 a.m. to get to our favorite resort in time to make “first tracks” and be the ones at the front of the line when the lifts open. During a recent trip, conditions were particularly beautiful. The trail-groomers and snow makers had done an outstanding job and the slopes were adorned with fresh powder. As my skis swished down the mountain, I was struck by how like God’s grace a ski trail is.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
 they shall be as white as snow; (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)

First thing in the morning, the surface of the trails is white and smooth, perfect for skiing. But as the skiers come, the snow gets chopped up and marked. Sometimes there are deep ruts or slash marks, and over time, moguls or bumps form. By the end of the day the snow can be dirty with mud, and pine needles or twigs mixed in. Isn’t that a little like us? We wake up to a day with no errors… yet. Then there’s a poor thought, maybe a sharp word or some other type of mistake and we are off. Sin makes it’s “first tracks.”

We go through the day with all the challenges life throws at us and we can find our closeness to Jesus slashed, or perhaps our faith hit some bumps. By the end of the day we might well be a little less than pristine, feeling the weight of our sin.

But even as I skied and contemplated this, the Lord was quick to reassure me…

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17, NIV)

It doesn’t matter how dirty our snow gets, we know the ultimate groomer. Unlike a ski slope, Jesus doesn’t bury the mess in more snow so it’s hidden. He cleanses us from it and leaves us forever washed white.

Be reassured today that there’s no sin so great or mistake so big that Jesus can’t forgive it or redeem it. That’s just how much He loves you.

Take a minute to ask for that love and grace work in you and shine through you today.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

TWEETABLE
Souls as Clean as Snow – @Debb_Hacket on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How has God’s grace impacted your life?