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565 E William & Mary Dr. (765) 327-7157
Centerton, IN 46151 info@rest-ministries.org

campfireIt was a perfect evening…clear skies, a cool nip in the air and a crescent sliver of the moon allowing the starry heavens to tout their glory. You could not have ordered a better night for a campfire.

I found it difficult to pull my eyes away from the dancing flames. Staring at a blazing fire has almost a hypnotic effect and seems to soothe even the weariest. I love to watch the flames waltz, lick and curl around a log, consuming the mightiest of timber in just a matter of minutes.

As I gazed intently, deep into the heart of the inferno, I saw glowing red and white embers belching out flames from every minute crack in the log. Then I noticed…once a flame became intense enough to nearly consume the entire limb, a tiny portion of the glowing hot coals would break off and roll a few inches from the immense center of the firry furnace.

Within minutes, what was once a blistering, sizzling ember, an essential part of the fire, was now peripheral and rapidly cooling, transforming into a whitish-grey ash. As several more moments passed, the once robust flame was now nearly extinct. Finally, the remaining residue became a cold black chunk of crud…not really good for anything!

I had to stop and muse how the scene I had just witnessed mimics many of our Christian lives. How often we are so immeasurably on fire for God when we first come to know Him and His saving grace, but when it comes to making Him Lord of our life we often start to rapidly cool down in our love affair with God.

Our natural tendency is to pull away from God and try to operate under our own power…as we pull away we quickly cool down. What once was a searing passion for God is now only a shadow of what once consumed us. Once our main focus becomes life around us instead of God, we are destined to become a cold black chunk of crud.

Jesus addresses the “cool down effect” in Matthew 13:22-23 The ground covered with thistles represents a man who hears the message, but the cares of this life and his longing for money choke out God’s Word, and he does less and less for God. (TLB) No matter how hard we try, we can’t serve two masters…we need to make God the Lord of our life…the only one we worship. No more worshiping money, the pleasures it can purchase or anything else. We will worship something, we will worship whatever we value most…we need to worship God, God alone!

What do you need to insure you remain a blistering glowing ember and not get caught up in the worries of this world? Time alone with God is a great place to start…get to truly know God. Know Him, love Him, pursue Him, spend time at His feet…let Him be Lord and learn to truly love Him.

We would love to assist you becoming a “glowing hot ember” or maintaining “the glow”. Contact us to schedule a personal retreat at Shepherd’s Gate Inn by calling 765-327-7157 or emailing becka@rest-ministries.org

Stoking my fire for Him,

Chuck Lehman

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magnifying glassWhen I was a young boy I loved to play outside on hot summer days. One of the things I enjoyed doing was to take a magnifying glass and hold it in the sun, focusing the rays of the sun into a powerful concentrated tiny dot of light. With this tiny dot of light I would melt things, burn my name into pieces of wood and start small fires! It didn’t take me long to find out that if I didn’t hold the focus of the magnifying glass tight enough or if I kept it moving around too much, I couldn’t harness the power of the sun so it would be strong enough to accomplish anything.

Our blog posts aren’t a magic key or a special formula that will instantly change your life. Our intent is to help you focus on an intimate relationship with God using the assistance of spiritual disciplines. Our desire is to assist you to fall deeper in love with God so you will have an unquenchable thirst for intimacy with Him.

Just as in the case of my focusing the magnifying glass to concentrate on “the sun,” in our Christian walk, we must concentrate all of our focus on “the Son.” When we truly keep focused on the Son and our intimate relationship with Him, we will unleash the full power of God in our life!

Keep your “magnifying glass” tightly focused on God and don’t allow the things of this world to distract your focus from the one thing that matters… our relationship with God!

We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Focused on the Son,

Chuck Lehman

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017Moving from Bible reading to Bible study can be easier than you might think. Think of a topic or subject of interest and perform a word study. For instance, if I want to learn more on fasting, I start with a concordance, a Bible dictionary and Bible commentaries. These can be purchased at any Christian bookstore; as well as many free versions are available on line. I find http://www.biblegateway.com to be a great study resource.

I start by searching the Bible dictionary to find out the Biblical definition of fasting. Next I move to the concordance to find every time the word fasting is used and then I journal the answers to the following questions. Who was fasting? Why were they fasting…what was the purpose and reason? What type of fast was it? What did God accomplish when through the fast? Finally I look at the commentaries on the Scriptures where fasting was discussed to see what scholars are saying on the subject.

Another very quick way to excavate the Scriptures is to take a specific word from the passage and dig for buried treasure in that specific word. For example, I recently was reading Psalms 90:17, which reads

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes establish the work of our hands.”

I simply a standard dictionary and looked up the words favor and establish as well as their synonyms. I was astounded at the powerful impact this small verse had that I had previously overlooked!

Bible reading is like smelling the steak being grilled, but Bible study is like finally getting to enjoy eating the steak!

Enjoying the feast,

Chuck Lehman

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tax-day-2013We drove to Louisville, Kentucky for our yearly tax appointment with our accountant, feeling a real unusual sense of anticipation…really a peculiar feeling, because I used to dread my day with the tax accountant. This particular visit was out of the ordinary…much different!

We walked into the office of our tax advisor, John, and nobody was at the reception desk. After about 15 minutes of not seeing a single person in the office, the entire staff emerged from the conference room. John informed us that frequently a woman from his church feels the need to stop by his office and pray for his staff. On this particular occasion, the entire office shut down and had an hour-long prayer meeting! As astounding as that was, I could hardly believe the events that then followed!

We had walked into the accountant’s office for our tax appointment and a prayer meeting broke out in the lobby…not just any old prayer meeting but a God ordained and God directed prayer meeting! After only being introduced to us by name, the mighty prayer warrior insisted we needed to be prayed over as well.

For the next ten minutes I listened as one of the most powerful, prophetic prayers I had ever heard rolled off this woman’s lips directly to the throne of God. By the time we sat down with John, it was very difficult to focus on something as “earthbound” as income taxes!

Previously, taxes had driven me to prayer…God let me not owe any money and please make the refund large…God I pray I have all the information correct. But this was the first time taxes had ever driven prayer to me! That day impressed upon me two things. First I was impacted by the boldness of allowing the need for prayer to completely halt all other activities and host an impromptu prayer meeting. Secondly I discovered the need for me to be much more aware, in tune and discerning in efforts to embolden my own prayer life…it is the most powerful and frequently the least employed tool we have!

Be on the lookout…you never know when God may decide to use you to help make a prayer meeting break out in your workplace as well!

Praying anywhere,

Chuck Lehman

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treasure chestNo matter how well intentioned, regular Bible reading will not be something that just happens. To consistently daily dig into God’s treasure chest of wisdom, it requires effort and accountability. I find a Bible reading plan to be just the little nudge I need.

There are many reading plans, some are topical, some are devotion based, some trek through the complete Bible while others are for the entire family. Some plans cost a few dollars, many are free and some are available for smart phones as well.

I find https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans to have a well-rounded selection and a great place to start!

I also find it very helpful to use a different translation of the Bible every time I read through the Bible. The new wording often jumps out and grabs me giving new meaning to Scriptures I have overlooked before! Bibles on the computer are a great resource for new versions.

Digging for God’s Treasures,

Chuck Lehman

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God's MoneyDonald S. Whitney writes in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life these words,“We will give to the extent that we believe God will provide for us.”

Do we really trust God to provide for our needs? Do we think God might need some help figuring out exactly what our needs really are?

The facts are, the more we believe God will provide for our needs, the more willing we will be to risk all that is “ours” by giving to Him. The less we trust God, the less likely we will be to give to Him “our stash of cash.”

Since all we have belongs to God and it has been given to us to use… the question is not, how much of my money should I give to God?  Rather, the question that begs to be asked is, how much of God’s money should I keep?

The reasons we find to spend our money and the things we buy with it, are the best indicators of our spiritual maturity and Godliness… Our tithes, offerings and generosity are an act of sacrificial obedience and worship of our wonderful God…how much do you trust Him?

It’s a good idea to test your faith prior to finding your back against the wall…show how much you trust Him by how faithful you are to give His money away! Maybe then when you reach out in desperation you will find a familiar hand to rescue you!

Sometimes those tough times come just to perfect our faith…does your faith lie in your abilities, wealth and power or do you trust God in advance to meet your needs and care for you? Paul puts it so well…It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it.  We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally — not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!  2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (THE MESSAGE)

Everybody trusts something or somebody…who or what do you truly trust in?

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Luke 12:34 (THE MESSAGE)

 

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Lemon Blueberry Bread

1-1/2 cupslemon blueberry bread flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×5″ loaf pan, dust with flour, and tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. In a separate bowl mix the blueberries with the 1 tbsp of flour and then gently fold them into the mixed batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake 50-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

While the loaf is baking, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until sugar is dissolved, and then continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Let bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan.

Use a fork to poke holes in the top of the loaf and brush with the lemon syrup. Continue to brush the loaf until all of the syrup is added.

To make the lemon glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the top of the loaf. Let the lemon glaze harden before serving.

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About fifteen years ago, I was listening to two guys on the radio talking about the moon. It was the radio announcer’s last question that really caught my interest, but it was the expert’s answer to the question that has resonated in my memory these many years. He asked, why most of the time, the moon looks so small in the sky – like a little ball; and then sometimes the moon looks huge and takes up the whole skyline.

super-moonThe expert went on to explain that most of the time the moon is up in the sky with nothing around it to put its size in perspective. The times the moon looks huge is when it’s low on the horizon and we have the horizon or skyline to put its size in perspective. The moon doesn’t really change in size – IT’S ALL A MATTER OF OUR PERSPECTIVE!!

I thought, how true in life; sometimes the things we face in life seem astronomically huge – overwhelming. If we just try to power through those problems on our own, they ARE huge; but we have something to give us a hope filled perspective – Jesus Christ! When you stack up all the things you are facing in life beside Jesus, it’s easy to see what is bigger.

With Jesus to keep things in perspective, it isn’t just the size of our problems that are affected; we view many things in a different way. The way we obtain, save, and spend money, the way we deal with and treat people, the things we value, how we talk, what we watch…Jesus keeps things in perspective.

Sometimes life gets in the way of our perspective and I find I need to just step back from life for a few moments to stack things up beside the Names of my God to regain perspective. When I am sick, I stack it up against Jehovah-Rophe – My Healer. When I am weak, I place it before my Strong Tower.

When I need guidance I seek the perspective given by My Shepherd. When I lack for provisions I fall before Jehovah Jireh – God will provide. When things look shaky, I seek the Sure Foundation. When confused I fall before Truth. Some days I need The Almighty, sometimes My Rock, sometimes The Redeemer, while other times I seek my Advocate…I could continue – there are over 700 Names of God in the Bible…that fact alone helps keep things in perspective!

Click here for a full list of the Names and attributes of God available in our Tool Kit for Personal Retreats.

Keeping it in perspective,

Chuck Lehman

 

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bible_and_coffeeHow badly does God want to spend uninterrupted time with you? Exactly how much does God just want to hang out with you?

He desires to rest and be still with you so you can be still and know He is God and He can be exalted (Psalms 46:10). That desire for relationship with is at the core of God’s character and it is so strong He is willing to take care of you needs in advance so you can hang out with Him without interruptions! God has a track record of “paying it forward” so you can just be in his presence.

In Exodus 16:21-26 God provided the gift of Manna for the people of Israel as they wandered the wilderness. They were instructed not to hoard any and keep it over night…except on the 6th day God provided enough food to last until the morning of the 8th day! God provided so they could spend an uninterrupted day of rest with him!

Here is another amazing Biblical example; the Israelites were also called to observe the Sabbath Year, where every seventh year they didn’t plant crops and let the land lay fallow for the whole year so the soil could replenish itself. God provided in advance through a supernatural production of crops in the 6th year so as to last until harvest in the 9th year (Leviticus 25:18-22). God provided in advance for the people and the land to spend an uninterrupted year resting with God…God pays it forward!

However for us to “take advantage” of God’s generosity of paying it forward, it requires monumental trust! It requires a tremendous level of faith to stop our labor and rest in God’s presence. This is where the rubber hits the road, most of us struggle with this issue; we wrestle with questions like: how will the work get done if I take time off…if I take a day off, I won’t have enough money to meet my bills, how will I provide for my needs?

So sadly most of us trudge on under our own power, never ceasing our toil. It really comes down to our faith in God’s ability to provide for our needs if we stop and pause from our work to spend time in the presence of God! Did you catch that? Sadly, we frequently choose to put more faith in what we can accomplish than in what God can accomplish, therefore we never stop working to spend time with God, in His presence!

Let me say that again: it comes down to our faith in God’s ability to provide for our needs if we stop and pause from our work to spend time in the presence of God! Until we fully trust God to have our best interest in mind, we will never step away from our work long enough to give Him a chance to prove Himself…for Him to guide us, provide for us and minister to us!

We personally spend at least 3-4 days per quarter in Sabbath rest with God and without fail, more guests book retreats while we are gone than normally would in two – three weeks! More donations come in when we are obediently resting with God then we can drum up in several weeks of our meager efforts alone! Do you have enough faith to let God prove Himself? Be still…you will know He is God and He will be exalted!

Next time we will look at some things God uses to accomplish preparation in our pausing…

Hangin’ out with God,

Chuck Lehman

 

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Discovering Your StoryLadies, are you looking for a good deal? Here’s a a 50% off deal too good to pass up! If you’ve been wanting to:

  • Get away for some peace and quiet
  • Grow spiritually
  • Experience what Shepherd’s Gate Inn has to offer
  • All of the above!

For only $50 you can have it all at a very special retreat April 5th and 6th just for women! Dana Russo has previously led the Discovering Your Story retreat for Shepherd’s Gate Inn and it has received rave reviews!

Click here to read more about this retreat.

Come by yourself or grab a couple of girlfriends to join you! Limited space available so don’t delay in registering for this retreat!

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