Reckless Love

Matthew 18:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

Parable of the Lost Sheep

12 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

This passage of the Bible has confused me my whole life.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that if I were the shepherd and one of my 100 sheep wandered away, I would not leave the ninety-nine to find the one.  I would cut my losses and move on.  I would evaluate the risk of leaving the 99 in pursuit of the one – that I might lose more of the 99 and not end up with the one anyway.  In truth, as I look back on different opportunities that I’ve had to share Jesus with people throughout my life, and some heard the news and some didn’t, there came a point with those who didn’t where I simply gave up.  The good news is that God’s ways are not my ways, and He will relentless pursue us, not giving up on us until we have found the Peace that Passes all understanding. 

A few months ago, we studied this passage of the Bible in our youth group.  In our discussion, our youth pastor pointed out that when Jesus began this discussion to put out that it IS a ridiculous thought to leave the 99 too pursue the one.  Jesus used the ridiculousness of this thought to grab the attention of those to whom He was speaking so that he could share the truth with them.  They all knew that it is silly to leave the majority to pursue the one.   Yet, this is exactly what God does sometimes. 

In my discussion a few weeks ago with my new-found friend, Bob (the recovering alcoholic who is writing a book about his journey), we wondered outloud why it seems there are certain people that God pursues relentlessly, and why there are certain people who have a predisposition to really hear God’s voice and others could seemingly care less.  Although I don’t have the answer, I know it’s true.  I have seen God relentlessly pursuing people, and continuing to give them opportunities to return to Him like the prodigal’s son. 

For Bob, that moment occurred when God leaned over and said to him in an inaudible but unmistakable voice that He would let Bob die if he didn’t get his life straightened out.   In my life, that moment occurred when I truly heard the words of Jeremiah 29:11 for the first time.  In Rich’s life, the crushing of his spinal cord was an “ah-ha” moment for us that God was in reckless pursuit of his soul. 

God will allow heartache and even physical pain into our lives to get our attention.   He IS pursuing you.  He is reaching his hand out to you today to ask you to join Him for all eternity.  All it takes is for your to acknowledge Him as your Savior and make him Lord of your life.   He will take the ugliness in you – your sin and your filth – and make you beautiful in His eyes – it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done, or how unworthy you think you are. 

I’ve been asked why I’m so passionate to be a servant of the Lord and put myself out there to a world that doesn’t care.  My only response is this quote from Charles Spurgeon: 

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

making a difference for just one is more than enough motivation for me… 

My prayer for you today, my friend, is that the Holy Spirit will flood your entire being with the reckless pursuit of the Heavenly Father, who is calling you home to Him.   May you hear His voice and obey His calling. 

Make a difference for just one today…

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018 – Journey For Life – All Rights Reserved

To Bring You Back – Paul Alan

Are you thirsty 
Standing in the rain? 
Not sure where you are 
Or how you lost your way? 
Are you drowning 
In some bar outside of town? 
Searching for something given not found? 
A crowd of people 
But totally alone? 
At the front door 
But worlds away from home? 

Light up the nights last regret and 
Burn your only safety net 
Step to the edge 
It’s such a long way down 

Chorus: 
I left the ninety-nine to find the one 
And you’re the one 
I walked a thousand miles 
In this desert sun 
Only to bring you back 
Only to bring you back 

Are you tired 
Of chasing the wind under water? 
Do you aspire to breath again? 
Are you dying? 
Is that the best that you can do? 
Cause you can’t find your place 
In a world that wasn’t meant for you? 


Hello it’s Me 
I couldn’t sleep 
I was just counting sheep 
And I’m missing you, 
Hello it’s Me 
I couldn’t sleep 
I was just counting sheep. 

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Your worst enemy

Is it the girl in the hallway, who is jealous of your date?

or the man who works beside you, uncertain of his fate?

Perhaps  the one who feigns to be a friend for all to see

but in the silence of the dark, true colors soon to be

No, though all these may be true.

Possibly, just possibly, your worst enemy might turn out to be you.

Copyright 2018. Journey for life. All rights reserved

Perspective..

If I shared with you all the miracles I’m seeing unfold in my life right now, it would almost seem like a motion-picture.  In due time, I will share them all  with all of you, but for now, I’ve been sharing them with some of my closest prayer warriors that I refer to as my personal “board of directors.”

By the way, if you don’t have a personal Board of Directors, I would encourage you to fine one.  Not just anyone can serve on your board of directors – they’ve got to be tried and true friends – friends who will keep you confidential discussions confidential.  The Board of Directors is likely to be very small, but very powerful – they are friends who will encourage you to take a leap when you need to;  to take a step back when you need to; they always have your back.  My personal recommendation is to have a Godly Board of Directors as well – those who have an active prayer life, and will not hesitate to go to prayer on your behalf – and you’d do the same for them.

On Saturday night, I texted the members of my Board of Directors to tell them about a miracle that was unfolding right before my eyes in the life of someone very close to me.  At the same time, said individual said to me, “you know, I’m watching for miracles to happen.”

My only response to that person was, “Can you not see them happening right before our eyes??”

I think we can miss miracles if we aren’t watching through the lens of expectation.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life abundantly.”   I’ve lived long enough and had enough ups and downs in my life to know that doesn’t mean “have Jesus and have prosperity”..   but I’ve lived long enough to know that if you have Jesus, you have prosperity in life – perhaps not in material wealth, but in other areas of our lives.

The coolest thing about sharing miracles is that it helps other people grow.  I have one special friend with whom I’ve shared these some of the events of the past few months.  Last week, they said to me, “you know, this is pretty incredible to watch from my side.”   In part because of the things that have been happening, this person has stepped out in faith to begin a journey of their own – and I’m expecting miracles for them as well.

My cup runneth over.

Blessings to you all, my friends.

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

 

Press Release – Masquerade – the battle within

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Masquerade

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

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Samantha Elizabeth Barrett releases ‘Masquerade: The Battle Within’

Book tells story of one woman’s trials in life, how she emerged victorious through her faith in God

 MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Samantha Elizabeth Barrett wanted people to understand that, through God’s help, they do not have to be victims of their circumstances and they can claim victory over trials because of “God’s provisions for us.” This objective prompted her to write “Masquerade: The Battle Within” (published by WestBow Press), a personification of a woman’s struggles, and gives hope to readers that they can survive the battle as well as the war.

The book shares the story about a woman who experiences trials in life that cause her to doubt God and even contemplate suicide but, through Christ, emerges through her trials with the knowledge that God is with her, and always will be, regardless of future trials that she knows she will face. It is not a fairy tale, but one that shows there is hope in the trial through Jesus.

“I personally experienced some of the topics covered in the story – I lost my own father to cancer when I was 8 years old and struggled in my young life to find purpose amidst my hurt,” Barrett says. “As a young adult, I found Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have dedicated my life to mentoring others in various capacities, to try to help at-risk youth see that they can have hope through Jesus Christ.”

Barrett’s sincerest hope for readers is that they would see that, with God’s help, they could emerge victorious over difficult circumstances.

“Masquerade: The Battle Within”  By Samantha Elizabeth Barrett

Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.5in | 128 pages | ISBN 9781973605591

Softcover | 5.5 x 8.5in | 128 pages | ISBN 9781973605584

E-Book | 128 pages | ISBN 9781973605577

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Samantha Elizabeth Barrett is a musician, engineer and mentor. Her desire is to leave things better than she found them. She is a sister, daughter, wife, mother, aunt and a friend.

One-Two-Three-Thumb!

I told my piano students tonight that I would have to write a book called “one-two-three-THUMB!”  In practicing scales, I have noticed that, for some reason, the most common mistake that I see in my piano students is in the fingering of their scales.  With their hands separate, and only one hand to focus on, it goes fine.  As they play up the scales, their fingers play on the keys:  1-2-3-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5.. and back down again.. 5-4-3-2-1-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-3-2-1…   but for some reason, when they put both hands together… and one of them is supposed to play 1-2-3-1-2-3-4… while the other one plays 5-4-3-2-1-3-2-…  they lose their minds and play 1-2-3-4 instead of 1-2-3-1.   I find myself continuing to holler “one-two-three-THUMB!”  With the latest students to whom I taught scales, I began their scale lesson by simply having them practice C-D-E-F using their right hand: 1-2-3-1 fingering over, and over, and over again, and C-B-A-G with their left hand: 1-2-3-1 fingering over, and over, and over again, until I thought it would be possible to do it together.

Over and over and over and over..  that’s how they need to practice it in order to develop the muscle memory for their fingers to go where they need to go when the time comes.

Scales are important to a piano student (even though relatively few believe they are “fun”) because they build dexterity in our fingers, and help to prepare us to play more complicated works.  Developing good scale habits positions us to play very complicated pieces of music with ease.

With only one hand to focus on, we can get it right.. but when we add another hand, our mind gets distracted, and if we haven’t committed our fingering to memory, it is likely that we will get it wrong.

As I thought about this tonight, I realized that it’s a little like focusing on Jesus.  When we’re away at a spiritual retreat, or with friends or families who believe like us, it is easy to focus on Jesus.  But when we add “the other hand” and the distractions of life, if we haven’t committed to the things of Jesus, when the distractions come, we may get it wrong.

With my students, the lesson that I teach them is to do it over and over, thousands of times, until it becomes like second nature.  That’s what we need to do with Jesus, too.  Spend so much time focusing on Him that it becomes second nature to us.   Then, and only then, can we focus on Him when the distractions come our way.

I challenge you tonight, to repeat your spiritual scales over and over and over again, developing the spiritual dexterity needed to navigate busy lives.  Developing our spiritual dexterity so that it becomes second nature positions us to be able to do more complicated works for the kingdom.

Blessings,

SB

 

 

 

My Everything

On Sunday evening, our church hosted a musical event – kind of a “talent show” of our musicians.  I was blessed to be able to accompany my twelve-year-old daughter, who sang a couple of songs.  One of them was a song that I had prayed at my keyboard nearly five years ago, the night before the funeral of an eleven-year-old boy.  I truly believe that God gave us music to help us pray.

Trent was a normal fifth-grade boy, doing normal fifth-grade boy things.  When he got sick with the flu, his mother took him to the doctor. They watched his symptoms for a few days, and they seemed to get worse instead of better before he was admitted to the hospital.  Both his mother and father are colleagues of mine, and I was shocked when Melissa told me that the doctors were concerned that Trent might not live.  I prayed hard, and believed that God would save this boy –  I mean, what perfectly healthy boy dies of the flu, right?

Sadly, Trent died a short time later.  I know that God is not obligated to answer our prayers the way we want Him to, and that He ultimately has a plan for all of our lives, but I will tell you this was a hard pill to swallow.  His parents were devastated.  Our co-workers were despondent.  I was crushed.

I sat at my keyboard, very, very late the night before the funeral and wept.  My heart was broken for them.  I knew that their lives would never be the same – that they would need each other more than ever, and that they would need God to get through.   I thought, too, about all of the other people who have experienced such loss and sadness, and how they, too, needed God to help them get through.

As I sat and played notes, eventually the notes turned into a tune, and words began to fill my mind.  The result was the song that we shared on Sunday.  I had played it instrumentally during communion several times, but it had never been sung.  When I asked my daughter if she would sing it for me, her willing heart immediately said, “yes”.  When we sat down to rehearse it for the first time, I handed her the words (no music, for I’ve never actually written it out), she sang it absolutely perfectly, as if she knew the tune already.  Dumbfounded, I asked her how she knew it.  She said, “I’ve heard you play it lots of times here in the house”.    Although that may be true, I never even told her it had words, yet she was able to hear the exact timing of every word as God had written them on my heart several years before.

My Everything

Sometimes the road seems empty

Sometimes the road seems long

I have to keep believing in what keeps us strong.

At times the path is crooked

At times the world is cruel

All I can do is hold on to Truth

You’re my everything…. My everything

You’re the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

You’re my everything…. My everything

You’re love keeps me strong

When our hearts are heavy,

And we just don’t understand,

God still holds us firmly in the palm of His hand

When our hearts are troubled,

And everything seems wrong

He heals the brokenhearted and He brings a new song

He’s my everything…. my everything

He’s the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

He’s my everything…. my everything

Gets me through night til dawn.

Holding on when I can’t let go, carrying me,

He breaks the chains that bind me and sets me free

Everything…. my everything

He’s the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

He’s my everything…. my everything

His love keeps me strong.

This is the message  the book Masquerade attempts to share with its readers.  Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted, and He binds up their wounds” (NIV).  I cannot pretend to understand why God took Trent home.  I only know the experience in my own life is this: God will never waste a hurt.  He will use every tear and every sorrow to mold and shape us into who He wants us to be.

He’s my everything.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life – All rights reserved.

Satan cannot win!

There are times in life where we feel as though we are losing the battle. Beaten and defeated, we sink into depression, deeper and deeper, feeling more hopeless than ever. The devil thrives on seeing our self-defeat, but the reality is that Satan cannot win!

In my book, Masquerade, Charissa is fighting this battle, and she knows in her head that God wins over Satan, but she cannot seem to pull herself out of the pit. Her good friend, Dwayne reaches down to extend a life preserving reminder that Satan cannot win! They were just the words that she needed to hear to be reminded that we have the power of God to call upon when life seems hopeless.

Everybody needs a Dwayne in their lives; someone who is sensitive to the needs of others and knows how to encourage them when they need it.

Charissa is forever grateful for her friend, Dwayne, and his faithfulness to encourage others. Do you have someone in your life who needs encouragement that Satan cannot win the war? Be a Dwayne today! Remind someone that God has not given us a spirit of weakness and fear, but of power through Him. With that power, we can fight the battles of depression and despair!

Be a blessing!

To those who have ordered my book, thank you! If you’d like, you can leave a review here

For those who haven’t, you can get your copy here!   Order Masquerade Here!

 

SB