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B I G  I D E A 
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
Pastor Bob
C H U R C H   M E D I A

Recent Devotionals

October 2021

Job_ Day 2 — Oct 19th

“Job_ Day 2 — Oct 19th”.

Job_ Day 1 — Oct 18th

“Job_ Day 1 — Oct 18th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 66 — Oct 15th

“Daily Respite_ Day 66 — Oct 15th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 65 — Oct 14th

“Daily Respite_ Day 65 — Oct 14th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 64 — Oct 13th

“Daily Respite_ Day 64 — Oct 13th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 63 — Oct 12th

“Daily Respite_ Day 63 — Oct 12th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 62 — Oct 11th

“Daily Respite_ Day 62 — Oct 11th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 61 — Oct 9th

“Daily Respite_ Day 61 — Oct 9th”.

Daily Respite_ Day 60 — Oct 8th

Daily Respite_ Day 59 — Oct 7th

“Daily Respite_ Day 59 — Oct 7th”.

F R O M   T H E   B L O G

Recent Posts

Chapter 6 of Becca Ehrlich’s “Christian Minimalism” A Sneak Preview


This Sunday night we will hold our 3rd Book Study discussion on Becca Ehrlich’s new book, “Christian Minimalism: Simple Steps for Abundant Living.” Each and every chapter for me has been enjoyable and compelling. And yes, challenging too. But the two chapters that we will be discussing this Sunday are, perhaps, the two most important.


Chapter 7 is called “Vocation.” It’s about our calling from God, something every follower of Jesus should be reflecting upon and praying about all the time. But it’s Chapter 6 – “Spiritual Growth,” that I want to highlight in this article.


Below I will offer you a few excerpts and statements from that chapter in order to provide a sneak-preview of the kinds of things we will be talking about Sunday evening – and individually should be thinking about often.


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Let’s start with this statement that opens up the chapter. As you read it, I want you to think about this: “Do I believe in my heart every word of each of these sentences?” Here it is:


Being a Jesus follower means cultivating our relationship with God. It’s a natural part of who we are. Jesus himself took time to pray, even when He was busy traveling and teaching and doing ministry. Because we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we are able to listen to the Spirit’s leading and inspiration even as we go about our everyday lives.


What do you truly believe in this statement? Which parts of it are harder to answer than others? Do you consider yourself a Jesus follower, even after reading this? Why, or Why Not?


Ehrlich claims that all the stuff we accumulate is actually garbage. She says that “we keep material possessions and bad habits and toxic people because we think we should, or because we are scared of what will happen if we get rid of it all.” Keeping these things “stinks up our lives” and builds a wall between us and God. Her point is that we need to put God first in our lives … not just by saying it, but by actually living it.


To emphasize her point, she quotes the Apostle Paul from his letter to the Philippians. Compare Paul’s view of the value of God in his life with your own view of God in your life, as you read this excerpt from Philippians 3:7-8.


Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.


Have you ever experienced the “infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus”? If yes, how has that affected the way you live in a culture where more is always better? If not, what are the things in your life that may be keeping you from “gaining Christ” and becoming one with him?


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When discussing how we use our time and money, Ehrlich uses an example that she says shows up in a lot of TV shows and movies. Read this and see if it could be a description of your own life.


… someone who works more and more hours to gain more and more money or recognition and has too little energy or time for loved ones.


Can you relate to this in your own life, or in the lives of friends and peers around you? Does this hit close to home?


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In the section called “Be Still,” Ehrlich proposes that God gives us a different way to live our lives, in contradiction to the lifestyle our culture promotes. Are you looking for an alternative lifestyle? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever heard that Jesus promotes an alternative lifestyle? See if you agree with her statement below:


God offers us a different way of life. How are we to be still and listen for God if we are never still? How are we to exalt God and put God first when everything else in our lives crowds into our time? God did not create us to run full-speed through life, never noticing God’s actions. We were made to listen for God and notice what God is doing.


When is the last time you sat still and just listened for God? Did you hear anything? Did you feel like you had to hurry up because you have so many other things to do?


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In the section on “Surrender,” Ehrlich talks about the difficult challenge of surrendering to God. She describes her own struggle below. See if you can relate to her journey to surrender.


My whole life, I have struggled to surrender to God. I usually think my plan is better than God’s and charge ahead, never taking time to listen for what God’s plan might be. This has gotten me into trouble many, many times. You would think I’d have learned my lesson after each time, but clearly I am a slow learner.


Do you share that same experience with Becca Ehrlich? What is your aversion to surrendering to God caused by? This is how she describes her own challenge:


Since I had previously lived my life one way for over thirty years, grasping at control wherever I could, surrendering has been hard work. But here’s the thing: surrender = freedom.


What do you think Ehrlich means by “surrender = freedom”? Do you believe that? What things in your life are you perhaps over-controlling, but don’t really stop to notice it?


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My last example is from her section on “Fasting,” although for Ehrlich, the practice of fasting can (should?) apply to almost any part of our daily lives. One area she focuses on is that great American pastime, shopping. She describes her year-long fasting from shopping experience, and then offers us her “3 Biggest Takeaways.” See if any of these resonate with your life.


Takeaway #1: We often buy and consume on automatic pilot.

Takeaway #2: We regularly mix up our needs and our wants.

Takeaway #3: We need less than we think we do.


If these do relate to your own life, do you have any motivation to change? Why, or Why Not? Have you ever fasted? If not, would you be willing to try if it meant a closer connection with God?


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I hope you can join our little group this Sunday at 6pm in the overflow space. Even if you don’t share a word, you will still soak in a lot of good and useful wisdom from those gathered.


Stay well. Stand strong. Keep your eyes on Jesus –                                            Pastor Bob <><





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So God made a Farmer ~ Paul Harvey

This so deserves a repeat, I offer to you a famous poem of the late Paul Harvey which he delivered at a national FFA convention in Kansas City in 1978.

Here it is …

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker”

— so God made a Farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board”

— so God made a Farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild; somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it”

— so God made a Farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt, and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps; who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, and then pain’n from tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours”

— so God made a Farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds, and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place

— so God made a Farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church; somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”

— so God made a Farmer.


God bless our farmers!


Pastor Bob


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Have you ever listened to a tree?


Holly Worton has, and she “translates” for us the messages she receives from her trees in her book, “If Trees Could Talk: Life Lessons from the Wisdom of the Woods.” Holly is one of our 6 devotional authors that we are listening to for our “Daily Respite” devotional series. (All Daily Respite recordings are available at www.vinestreetchristianchurch.com under “Daily Devotions.) Below is Holly’s devotion from yesterday (Tuesday). In her book, Holly Worton offers both some opening remarks about each tree and how she found it, and closing reflections after the tree has finished speaking.

Below, I simply provide the transcription of what the Windmill Hill Hawthorn said to Holly.




“Windmill Hill Hawthorn”


You are correct in saying that this is your place.


      This is your home, this is your land, and this is where you belong. And in the same sense that this land is yours, this land is for you, you are for this land … everyone in this world has a land that is for them; where they feel connected, where they feel rooted, where they feel grounded, where they feel right, where it just feels like home. Regardless of whether they go out into Nature and connect with the natural land, some people may sense that one place is right for them, or not. But they can deepen that connection, they can deepen that relationship, they can deepen that deep sense of home by going to Nature around that place and connecting with it; connecting with the trees, connecting with the earth, connecting with the water, the sky, the wind, all of the elements.


      Many, many people have not yet found their abode, their comfortable place, their home, and their spot in the world. And this is sad – because everyone does have a place.


      We understand that people make decisions based on the practicalities of life; whether that be finding a job, proximity to family, friends, other things, practical things; but we would suggest that if you have not yet found your home, your place in the world; if you could just travel, visit, go to the places where your heart guides you. Whether that be the next town over the next country, or halfway around the world, if you feel drawn to a place; visit, experience, connect … and we understand that this sounds just a bit crazy, because again the practical brain comes in and says: I can’t afford that, I don’t have money for that, what if I want to go to a place that is, as you say, halfway around the world, and I just don’t have the money. We would like to suggest, again, that you put aside the practical thoughts, practical ideas, practical solutions, the practical problems, and simply allow yourself to dream.


If you have a place in mind, start connecting with it: by reading about this place, you can buy books about the place, you can read online, you can do searches, you can look at photographs, you can look at images, you can collect images, you can make a collage of all your favorite images of this place. And connect with this place on a digital level, on an intellectual level, by reading … and that will start the journey.


There is a reason you are drawn to some places.


And that does not necessarily mean that you have to move halfway around the world and live in this place – but perhaps, these are places that you could visit. And once you make the connection, you may find that it is easier for you to return to these places, and it is easier, and easier, for you to visit these places; and it is easier for you to return to these places, and it is easier for you to connect and feel the deep sense of belonging. That sense of, “I am home, I am here” that so many people crave.


And so, we would like to remind you, that perhaps this path starts for you by setting aside practical worries, and concerns and simply connect wherever you can by reading online, by reading books – connect, connect, connect. And perhaps you will find the ways, perhaps you will find the practical solutions, on how to get to these places and how to return to these places and how to perhaps even one day live in these places that you are drawn to. But it all starts with that intuitive nudge, that calling of the heart, as it connects to your heartland; to the place where you belong, to the place that feels like home, to the place of your abode, perhaps, perhaps not … but you will be surprised what happens when you answer that call.


This is all.


Note from Pastor Bob – actually, that is not all the Windmill Hill Hawthorn had to say to Holly that day. This tree had one more important lesson to suggest to all of us humans. That lesson will be featured in the Religion column of the Arthur-Graphic next Wednesday. I suggest we listen …


<>< Pastor Bob

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