What does “radical” mean and why as Christians are we called to be radical followers of Jesus?
Radical: “very different from the usual or traditional” “favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions” ~ Merriam Dictionary
The best example of being radical in our lives happened after my hubby was denied a $100 raise. We were astonished as it had been promised. But it turned out to be such a blessing. It pushed us into trusting God to lead us. It pushed us into starting our own company. We needed to let go of any fear of failure; fear of what others would say; fear that we couldn’t provide for our family.
After almost fifteen years of running our own business, we heard a different call. Step back. While taking a break on Margarita Island, hubby and I talked about how much joy we were getting out of running this business. Hubby was a 6 and I was a 2. We discussed whether it was possible to sell the business and how would we go about it. That will be another post.
Suffice to say that we decided on that sabbatical to look into selling.
Nine months later and many setbacks, we successfully sold the business.
As we listened to God for the next step of our journey, we knew that hubby needed to keep busy. He had worked all his life and this early retirement had him a little scared.
We decided to move away from our home town, up to the trees and the lakes. We decided to take on a project of building our own home. Hubby always loves building and plans so this kept him very occupied and happy. We even renovated a cottage at the same time.
However, when all was said and done and we moved in we said:
The next step
What if we used the area above the garage to make a couple of bedrooms and rent them out as a Bed and Breakfast? Sounded exciting. So we took that plunge.
We ran our B & B for four years. We found it fascinating to meet new people, discussing various subjects at breakfast. Finding out about different lands, and different ideas enlightened our thinking.
Step back again
During this time we both had become involved in our little town. Our B & B made it harder and harder to work around our schedules. And my mother had come to live with us as well for part of the time. Our family had grown and we needed the rooms when they visited.
So we closed down that enterprise.
Those are just a few of our radical moves in this life. I didn’t even count the one about our early marriage.
That book started me thinking of what my life would be like if I completely listened to God. And not only listened but did what He said.
Yes, you can travel to Poland — God said
The first time I truly listened to a radical spiritual calling happened while reading a post on the Internet. I read that there was a mission that taught English to Polish people while also helping them to read their Bibles and discover Jesus in their lives.
My heart started to pound. I really felt this might be something I should do.
I had so many buts.
I had never travelled alone.
I had never eaten out alone.
I didn’t know any of these people and I am shy (was shy).
I had recently decided to follow Jesus (around the time of selling our company) and didn’t think I knew enough about Christ to help.
I had food allergies and environmental allergies.
I kept hearing — GO. Different times I would see the same post. I had to find out more. But that meant emailing someone. NO, I didn’t think I could do that. And it was someone I didn’t know.
When God really wants you to do something, He makes it very clear.
This notion of going to Poland would not leave me.
I went to bed thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I wrote the email.
After many back and forth conversations, talking with my hubby and lots of praying, I decided to take that step and go. I had to go on training as well. That’s another story.
I visited Poland five times on a mission trip and once with my hubby on a vacation. We met lovely people and I developed a passion to teach others to read God’s Word. I also loved working with children (one of my jobs at the camp) and this led me to run a VBS for seven years at our church. And I grew in my faith and trust in God.
Living radically means listening to God.
Are you hesitant?
Is there something you feel called to do but are afraid?
Is God placing a call on your life — and you are holding back?
May I suggest you talk with your Pastor or a mentor?
Spend time in God’s Word and in prayer.
Remember to listen to His answer and how He speaks to you.
Disclaimer: There is an affiliate link in this post.
One thing I am sure of — we will not be floating on clouds with the angels. We will have an earth. But it will be different. Come with me as I travel through some scripture to figure out how this will look.
First, look at water
Water — we have lots of water on this planet. Actually, over 2/3 of the planet is covered in water. And only 25% of that is fresh water.
Let’s think about water:
Destructive power — floods
Water can bring devastation.
Here in our county of Haliburton, the town of Minden had severe flooding — again.
Our minister said that although he grew up in Minden they never had any flooding problems. There used to a 100-year flood in the town. Now it’s the second time in 6 years that flooding has occurred. And record flooding too.
Have you had a time where you made a hasty decision? Have you ever made financial decisions that were not good ones? Do you listen to God on a daily basis?
A Purposeful Faith
We want our children to have a strong purposeful faith. We want them to trust and believe in God. We want to instil in them good values and faith disciplines.
The Kingdom of Thrim is packed full of valuable lessons – from money, to listening to God, to being creative and using your God-given gifts – to being content with what you have. Help your child find his way.
Created for ages 6 and up, The Kingdom of Thrim brings colour and excitement to a child’s life through vivid watercolour illustrations.
A page from The Kingdom of Thrim
The lessons learned are life lessons as one adult reader said:
“I needed this book. If you feel like you’ve lost your gift or wandered too far from home and aren’t sure if you can find your way back, you need it too.” Jeff Goins
Other happy readers have said,
“This is a delightful children’s book with a strong Biblical message. I loved the soft tone of the illustrations. It would make a wonderful story-book for those bedtime moments that are so important for bonding and teaching.” – Marcia Laycock
“Janis Cox is a beautiful storyteller and lovely illustrator and does an excellent job of presenting a story for both kids and adults that speaks to the very heart, no matter what age you may be. Highly recommended.” – Sally Meadows
“Pause” is such an important word in our lives. Jesus went away from all the people to find communion with God. He left early in the morning to go out by himself to pray.
We need to use His example.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV).”
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16, NIV).”
In the hustle and bustle of our lives we need to take that time. Five minutes. An hour. A day. A week. Take whatever you need to find out what God is saying to you.
I find when I am feeling rushed and tense, it’s good to leave and just breathe somewhere quiet. I use the washroom. Usually that brings quiet. A short walk around the block. Sitting outside in nice weather.
Where do you find rest? We need it physically and spiritually.
My mother-in-law gave us a plate when we were newly married. It didn’t make sense to me at the time. As the years go by it means more and more to me.
I wrote a post about this. And many times in the past few weeks God has said: slow down. Stop. You can read more posts at the bottom.
But I really wonder how many of you will really heed this warning.
What are you striving for?
If you are in ministry, are you doing for God instead of being with God? Sometimes He wants us to slow down to hear His voice. Stop and find out what He wants. There will be more power if you allow the Holy Spirit to enter your life and your decisions.
I had to check through God’s Word to see what He said about the word “secret”. I know it’s not good to keep secrets if it hurts someone but it’s also not good to spread news – gossip. The only way we can figure out what God says about secrets is to go to His Word.
Are you looking for a group to help you on your way to growing closer to Him? Do you want to be connected in a deeper way?
It’s time for Five Minute Friday – we have 5 minutes to write on a prompt. The prompt the word is “secret”. Join us and meet others who write for Him.
Surprises are lovely. Keeping things a secret helps with the surprise. We have had 3 big surprise parties.
Surprise Number 1:
I remember my husband’s 30th birthday party. He came in the back gate and found a whole bunch of people in his yard. His first thought was, “What are all these people doing here?” SURPRISE.
Surprise Number 2:
Then he surprised me on my 40th. Our kids were visiting – that was normal. We were going away to Europe the next day. Not normal. I had things still to figure out. But Hubby talked me into having the kids come to celebrate. But then there was the doorbell and people started arriving. Party time. I had fun but told him to time it better the next time – I need time to plan. But what a sweet SURPRISE and well-kept secret.
Surprise Number 3:
Our children surprised us on our 40 wedding anniversary. In the early evening my son-in-law decided to vacuum the carpets – clue. But I thought oh he is being so nice. Then the doorbell rang and I answered it. A friend was at the door. I said, “Oh what’s wrong? Can I help you?” She said, “surprise!” And that was that.
Those were all lovely surprises by keeping them secret.
But today when I heard the word “secret” I immediately started to sing “It is no secret what God can do”.
So I have 5 minutes to write on the word “turn”: Set the Timer: Go
I keep hearing the words from the Bible: “Turn from your ways”.
And that’s exactly what God told me when I accepted Jesus as Saviour in 2001.
” ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11, NIV).”
There were many ways I had to turn from.
Here are 3:
I’m still judgmental. But not as bad as I was. Everything that would happen I would have an opinion and I believed my thoughts and ways were the best.
I am working on turning even further from that.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3, NIV).”
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Oh yes, I think that is how I am wired. I am a task-master, a doer, a person who likes to get things done. I want to fix things and make them right. I’m reminded of Peter – yes, he too wanted to make things right. Remember when he wanted to set up tents for Moses, Elijah and Jesus? He thought that was the right thing to do. It was not.
I have to learn over and over that others have thoughts and ideas too. I am working on that as well. But, as someone told me, “Don’t let go the fire that you have inside you. Just don’t burn anyone.”
Self-control – that’s what I am working on. Keep looking to Jesus.
I worried constantly. The control part of me helped me do that. I feared climbing ladders, thunderstorms, speaking in front of people, what people would think, how I looked. And it goes on and on.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes (Matthew 6:25, NIV)”.
Bible Art by Janis Cox
Now I learned to pray and I have heard that the best worriers become the best intercessors.
Jesus let me drop all that when I said to Him, “I’m yours.” Now I will go boldly where Jesus wants me to go. I will tread the waters and not look down.
These are my 3 big turns since deciding to follow Jesus.
Time’s up. Join me at Five-Minute Fridays to speak your mind about a prompt.
A 33 Dot Challenge to Encourage My Creativity – My Snuggly
As for painting, I have been challenging myself by trying to push my imagination to see things from nothing. Yikes. That’s not easy. Today is another 33 Dot Challenge. Meg Konovska got me hooked on this.
Here is the first dots with connecting lines.
Now as I turned this round and round I saw a number of things. But I kept seeing the mouth open.
So I followed most of the lines — some I erased and some I added.
Here is the next step:
The next step is the most fun. Painting it.
Now I ask God to show me what He wants me to remember about stuffed animals.
I know that my first thought went back to my youngest’s favourite — a Puffalump — a soft stuffed animal. She took that friend everywhere. And now he lies upstairs in the grandkids’ loft area with an assortment of Cabbage Patch Dolls, a Curious George and a Snuggles Dog.
I am sure Puffalump is lonely. The grandkids are getting older and don’t visit very often. They still play with the Lego and other toys. But “stuffies” are past.
What do “stuffies” signify?
Love — tales of highs and lows of the day, of frustrations and joys — all are shared with our loving friends.
Cuddles — something to hug when no one is around.
Protection — yes, at night when things go bump in the night, the stuffie stays close and can ward off fears.
Sounding Boards — when a child might not talk to an adult, a child will talk with a stuffed animal or doll. Many of these are used in counselling sessions to help ease a frightened child into peace.
Rest — sleep comes easier when a child has a friend to settle down to sleep with. Tucking a child in with a snuggly, gives a safe warm feeling.
Now that we are adults, where can we find our peace? Who can comfort us at all times? Who can protect us? Whom can we talk to?
Who is our Snuggly?
I believe I have found the answer. After years of searching and trying to live life on my own steam, I have found my snuggly, my “stuffie”.
My snuggly is Jesus. Jesus is my hope, my all in all.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (NIV).”
He is my Counsellor. I can talk to Him.
We are taught how to pray. And then we LISTEN.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7, NIV).”
Jesus is my Protector. He is my fortress.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1–3, NIV).”
Jesus loves me with a steadfast love.
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD (Psalm 32:10, NIV).”
When I asked God to tell me what He wanted me to learn from my picture — I had no idea what He would show me.
But here it is — Like a snuggly, God is:
Jesus is my hope, my all in all.
Jesus is my Joy and Peace.
Jesus is my Counsellor. I can talk to Him.
Jesus is my Protector. He is my fortress.
Jesus loves me with a steadfast love.
Have you found your Snuggly — the most powerful One of all — Jesus?
CALL TO ACTION
Are you frustrated with your spiritual life?
Do you want to meet Jesus and talk to Him?
Do you need friends to pray and study with together in a safe place?
I have TWO opportunities for you:
1. Grow Through God’s Word is a unique Facebook Group — a safe place to dig deeper and be inspired through God’s Word.
2. Would you like to excite your study of the Bible — Join me for a free Bible Art Course — coming soon? Sign up now.
I am still challenging myself to draw 33 random dots on paper; then connect the dots without intersecting any lines; then paint. Today it turned out to be the theme of balance.
This challenge has me inspired. I never know what I will see.
This time was very different. I couldn’t see anything for a while. First I saw a foot but it looked like it was stepping on the head. Why would someone be stepping on a head? I didn’t like that. I saw the little dog but wondered what he was doing up there at the top of the page.
Step 1: Connect the dots to make contour lines.
Outline when I connected the 33 dots.
Do you see anything? I turned it around and around but kept coming back a foot, a head and a dog. At one time I thought I saw a whale’s tale but there was no whale.
Step 2: See if I can make anything out of this.
The outline of the picture as I saw it. 33 Dots.
As I looked at my rough sketch I changed the bows on the triangle on the dog to make it a real bow. I erased some lines and added some.
Step 3: Draw with micron pen and paint.
This is the final outcome.
The final picture for 33 dots – Balance
Step 4: See where God leads my thoughts.
This year is the first time I have found a balance of how to write, paint and enjoy retirement. I have focused on God for the past 17 years but have been balancing ten times more things that I had to.
To me I have learned balance by learning to focus on the one thing I heard God say to me. And that was: “Encourage believers to read their Bibles and pray.”
That also has led me to try Bible journaling and getting out of my shell and talking and listening to others. God is teaching me to become a spiritual mentor.
In this study of 33 dots, Instead of just “painting” listen God before I paint. He helps me connect the dots. Then after I paint I see what He shows me – the meaning of my painting. By doing the 33 dots challenge it forces me to trust God and it makes me look, and create.
The person at the bottom (me) is learning to carry a heavy load as well as balance a dog on a poll. I think the standing person represents my work in writing and painting. It is steady on its own. The little dog is the rest of my life. It moves around so I have to watch it carefully so it doesn’t topple. But it’s the fun part. Even though my “work” of painting and writing is delightful I can also take fun in the other people in my life and the experiences around me.
And the Holy Spirit helps keep all things in balance.
Notice how the person at the bottom is looking forward. And that’s where I am looking. Not down or up but following God on the path He is leading me. My word for this year is “Go Forth” and as I pray and listen to God I am willing to change my direction. The things I am balancing are light because Jesus is right beside me or should I say inside me.
Jesus is my strength. He leads and guides me. I do what He tells and shows me. I listen.
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Are you struggling to find more time with God? Where is your path headed? Do you want to feel His strength in your life?
CALL TO ACTION
Are you feeling disconnected from God?
Is your art or writing suffering because you are struggling do work on your own?
Do you want to tap into God’s unlimited creativity?