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The Secret of the ‘Next Chapter’

14 Nov

I love mysteries … the humorous kind. I ran across a website called “Stop, TrustGodWithTheNextChapterOfYourLife_LOLwithGodYou’re Killing Me” that made me think of a funny Christian mystery I read in the past. I wish I could find more of them.

I think I love mysteries because there is the “thrill of the unknown.” Part of the adventure is not knowing what twist might occur in the story.

And I love humorous mysteries because I love to LOL with God … especially in the middle of a surprise!

Years ago, I was one of those people who skipped to the end of a book. I wanted to see how everything would end before I decided whether I’d buy it. It finally “dawned” on me how I was destroying the mystery of anticipation!

So I stopped reading the ending and now read each new chapter of a book in succession.

(The only exception is when I read the Bible. Sometimes I skip to the end because all those last chapters remind me God has a plan, and that gives me hope in the midst of the world’s chaos!)

I think I’ve learned the secret of life’s “next chapter” … the anticipation of a new adventure with God. I don’t have to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

In fact, that might not be best.

In a negative sense, we’re not to worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34 says, “…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Worry doesn’t make sense (Matthew 6:25, 27), because the eternal God is already present with us in our future. God invites us to throw all our anxieties on him, because He truly cares about us and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He will give us the strength we need to face anything that it tough, but our worrying about it today won’t help.

But in a positive sense, is it really best to know everything about tomorrow? Might it steal something precious from those moments?

Think of a child’s anticipation of a trip to Disneyland, or waiting for gift-giving on Christmas Day. Think of a bride’s anticipation of her wedding day.

NancyAndRobertWolgemuth_WhatASurpriseMy friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is marrying Robert Wolgemuth today, November 14, 2015. Her story about their love and courtship is just plain amazing. And it’s something that totally surprised her.

She wrote, “… no one could have been more caught off guard by this turn of events than I. In recent years, I have found myself in the most settled, contented, healthy, fruitful place of life and ministry ever. I did not have the slightest inkling that He was about to call me to step out into a whole new realm of faith and service.

“Enter the God of love, mystery, and surprises!”

Nancy tells women,

“…God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story.” 

Yes, the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). It may lead us through seasons we cannot understand this side of heaven, but we can rest in Him and believe He is writing a big story for His glory, our good and—in working through us—blessings for others.

He is preparing unimaginable things in heaven for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9), and we get to experience a foretaste of that on earth.

In the words of an old hymn:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine … Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.  This is my story ….”

The secret to receiving and enjoying God’s good will is to trust Him with the next chapter of your life … and the next … and the next.

It is anticipation with surrender and contentment.

Anticipation with surrender says, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You” all along the way—even when my story’s chapters don’t unfold exactly as I thought they would. Even when I might have written my script in other ways.

Anticipation with contentment allows me to rest in God and His will for my life and leaving lots of room for Him to take me on unexpected detours.

In the big story of our lives, each unfolding chapter allows us to LEARN DEPENDENCE on the Lord … and to praise Him for His goodness and grace as our story unfolds.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t think Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth would either!

Are you worrying … or are you anticipating the next chapter of life with Your Creator? Be ready for the God of love, mystery and surprises!

– Dawn

Graphic adapted from photo at Pixaby




Are You ‘Excited’ about Jesus?

10 Oct

In their excitement, people do some really over-the-top things at athletic events. Think about it:

  • They make  and raise huge signs (to be seen on TV?) – blocking the view for people behind them.MinnesotaVikingsFan_SourceUnknown
  • They mysteriously show up in the same color or wear “costumes” to identify with their team (some better left to Halloween).
  • They raise their hands together and do “the wave.”
  • They show their support for their team with yells and mantras – “We will, we will Rock you!”
  • They aren’t afraid to taunt the other team … or the refs.
  • With passion for their team, they shell out money for symbols of their support (like giant foam fingers).
  • They get crazy about their team … and nobody thinks they’re weird!

I wondered recently, why don’t Christians show similar excitement about Jesus?ExcitedAboutJesus_LOLwithGod

In all fairness, we do sometimes.

In September I attended an Air 1 tour concert. The music and lights, the crowd’s enthusiasm … it wasn’t hard to be carried along in the musicians’ high praise to the Lord of Heaven!

People got into the music, their hands swaying back and forth overhead. (A Christian version of The Wave?) They shouted out responses at musicians’ cues. Many rushed to the lobby to purchase rainbow-colored lights (used like metronomes in the darkness, keeping in time with the beat). The excitement level in the auditorium was as high or higher than any ball game I’ve experienced!

I’m sure the room was filled with many kinds of people that night. Some were there just for the music. Some were there to experience an event. Others were there to worship, or hoping to connect with God in a new, fresh way.

It was a great, exciting night! But it was just one night. And I wondered the next day, how many are still excited to know the Lord as they go back home, or to school or work?

The Christian life isn’t a one-night, one-event, one-conference “high.”

The Christian life is joy filling the heart regardless of circumstances. It’s excitement about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It’s faith and faithfulness, appreciating God’s goodness and grace. It’s abiding in Christ. It’s the outflow of the Spirit.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says (answer #1) one of our main goals in life is to “enjoy” God forever. Maybe “enjoyment” is a better word than “excitement,” but anyone who’s been in love knows the two are linked. 

Enjoying God doesn’t just happen. We have to know Him. We have to understand what He’s done for us. And to experience lasting joy, we have to hop on board with His plans for us. 

Just as when we go to an athletic event, we have to “get excited” about Him and being on His team!

Here are some scriptures that speak to me about why I can enjoy God:

Psalm 16:5-11. . . . I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices. . . You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 144:15. Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

With that in mind, here are just 10 ways I’m nurturing my enjoyment of the Lord, which lead to greater excitement about Him.

  1. seek His presence and read His love letter and guidebook (the Word).
  2. I spend time with others who love Him too, so we can enjoy Him together.
  3. I find new ways to appreciate Him – to praise and adore Him (singing, writing, etc.)
  4. I talk to Him about everything, because He is my Lord and my friend.
  5. I view my life as an adventure with Him, with opportunities to grow and serve.
  6. I cooperate with His work in my life, knowing I am becoming more like Jesus.
  7. I embrace the freedom I have through His grace and transformed thinking.
  8. I use the gifts He’s given me to make a difference in the world and for the Kingdom.
  9. I rejoice in His work in others’ lives, the progress I see as they trust Him and obey.
  10. I am amazed whenever I see His handiwork in creation.

How do you “enjoy” God? How do you build excitement in your life for Jesus and what He is doing in the world?

* I could not find the original source of the Viking Fan photo. If you know the source, please tell me so I can properly credit.

“Excited” Graphic adapted: Image courtesy of nenetus at

 – Dawn

Why Not Say ‘Yes’?

9 Jan

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, two young church members were going door to door to invite people to visit their services. When they knocked on one door, it was immediately clear the woman who answered was not happy to see them.

She told them in no uncertain terms that she did not want to hear their message, and before they could say anything more, she slammed the door in their faces. To her surprise, however, the door did not close; in fact, it bounced back open.

She tried again, really putting her back into it, and slammed it again with the same result – the door bounced back open.

Convinced these rude young people were sticking their foot in her door, she reared back to give it a slam that would teach them a lesson.

Just then, one of them said quietly: “Ma’am, before you do that again, you really need to move your cat.” [1]


For many years, opportunities knocked on my door and I refused to answer. Even some opportunities I believe came from the Lord.

I was either too afraid to get out of my comfort zone, too afraid of what people might say if I “blew it” or too afraid of failure.

I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t a Bible verse that inspired me to answer those doors. It was a movie. And I didn’t even see the movie.

I read a review about a silly Jim Carrey movie, “Yes Man.”

In the 2008 film, based on a book by Danny Wallace, Carrey’s charactera lonely manattended a motivational seminar and heard the speaker tell the audience, “Say ‘yes’ to everything.” The exercise was designed to build self-confidence and greater purpose.

According to the review, Carrey’s character acquired new skills as he continued to say “yes”which leads to a happier life.

For me, a Christian, saying “yes” means a lot more, especially when it involves the Lord. It’s a matter of obedience, regardless of my fears and potential discomfort.

When opportunities come, I still pray for discernment and check to be sure the opportunity doesn’t violate scripture, but then I pray, “Lord, I’m going for this unless you give me a clear ‘no’ or ‘wait.'”

Refusing to walk through doors God prepares for us means we’re willing to settle for the blessings of the past.

God told Israel:

“. . . I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God, the Creator, may want to do something new in and through us! And He will strengthen us for whatever He calls us to do (Ephesians 3:16).

Canadian author Connie Cavanaugh wrote a book in 2011 that gave me more insight for my new-found “say yes” freedom.

In Following God One Yes at a Time, she wrote (emphasis mine),

“Fear can become a barrier behind which we cower, too afraid to say the next yes. Or fear can be the pathway on which we move forward, one yes at a time, perhaps slowly and painfully, but hand-in-hand with God.

“Every time we choose to believe God and say ‘yes’ with our feet,” Connie said, “a brick comes off the wall fear built and gets placed squarely in front of us to become a stepping-stone that takes us toward fulfillment of God’s dream for us.” (2)

Connie explained the kind of follow-ship that leads to fulfillment of our dreams and God’s will for us. “Following him,” she said, “requires the simple trust and immediate obedience of a child who believes God will make the way to Him simple, immediate and possible.” (3)

I still have so much more to learn about following God, but now I’m eager to say “Yes!”

In fact my focus word for 2015 is “dauntless,” which means “fearless determination.” I’m determined to walk through every door God opens with fearless faith and freedom!

How about you? Are you ready to walk through the doors God opens for you?

Is there a door you’re refusing to walk through right now? If so, what is keeping you from obedience and a fresh adventure with God?

(1) “Prospecting for the Lord,”
(2) Connie Cavanaugh, Following God One Yes at a Time (Harvest House Publishers, 2011), pp 150-151.
(3) Cavanaugh, ibid., p. 14.

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