What do Mr. Bill and the Bible have in common?


When I was in high school, Saturday Night Live often entertained us with crazy skits. It’s a show I haven’t watched for decades due to the change in content that seems less creative and more crude, but in those days we laughed our heads off at the ridiculous antics of the Coneheads, satiric sketches, and of course, the claymation characters of Mr. Slugo and Mr. Bill.

For you youngsters who may read my blog, a pair of real life hands would gesture according to a narrative in which Mr. Hands or Mr. Slugo would torment Mr. Bill and his dog with everyday situations, like showering or karate class that would destroy a clay figure. Mr. Bill would frantically cry out, “Ooohhh, nooo!” Believe me, it was only funny because it wasn’t real.

A number of years ago, a family member (Mom) sent me the little guy in the above picture as a joke. I wrote a post about it that you can read if you’d like.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Over the past year, Brendan and I have taken turns hiding Mr. Bill in various locations to get a laugh with each other. Here are some of Mr. Bill’s adventures:

We like to pretend the Mr. Bill got himself into these incredible predicaments, and keep a running joke of what Mr. Bill might be thinking. Lately, Mr. Bill has a thing for high places and spinning.

It’s a silly game, but it gives us a laugh. We’re a little crazy like that.

Here’s the thing…

While hiding a silly rubber man to play a game with my husband may be ridiculous, hiding something more important is not.

God says to hide his word in our hearts. And that is no joke!

Why should we hide God’s word in our heart?

  • So we won’t sin against God. (Psalm 119:11)
  • So we can learn and grow to be like Jesus, mature and ready for everything. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
  • So we can give an apt word to someone who has a need for wisdom or encouragement, or wants to know about our source of hope. (Proverbs 15:23 & I Peter 3:15)
  • To allow the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus’ words and God’s great love for us. (John 14:26)
  • So we can wield it as a weapon against Satan. (Ephesians 6:17)
  • So if we are ever in a situation where we do not have a Bible, we will know what it says and be encouraged.

Hiding Mr. Bill may not make a lot of sense, but hiding God’s word in our heart is wise and advisable. Memorizing it is great, but even if we can’t remember the exact words or verse, the more we read, the more we understand the true character of God. And the more we can apply it and rely on what it says.

What’s a verse you have hidden in your heart? Mr. Bill wants to know.

Can you guess who conspired with Mr. Bill on the Aussie high dive?

Out of Control?


Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Pexels.com

A number of years ago, I lived in Nevada where snow fell for the better part of the year. Many days, the roads were still covered in ice and snow, even with plows clearing them on a regular basis.

On days like that, I rarely went out. But on this one particular day, I had no choice so I piled my four kids in our old Bronco, set my four-wheel drive, and ventured out despite my longing to avoid the trip into town.

We lived outside Reno, in a little valley at the foot of the Sierras so whenever it snowed, the storm would swirl around in our valley as if it were trapped by the surrounding mountains and hills.

Getting out was hard enough, but going down the slippery hill, onto the highway, and into town proved challenging at best. Especially when the snow blew in blizzard, white-out conditions.

As it did on this particular day. (Did I mention I would have rather been at home with a cup of tea and a good book?)

Whenever we made the twenty to thirty minute journey into town (depending on what part of Reno we needed to arrive at), it seemed like a longish drive. But on snowy days, the are-we-there-yet question played every few minutes in what felt like a never-ending trek of epic proportions.

We made it down the hill, onto the highway, and the road was remarkably clear of traffic. (Those smart other people!) But it was not clear of snow and ice.

I drove clutching the steering wheel while reassuring my youngsters that all was good. “You all have your seat belts on, right? Mommy’s just double-checking.”

That’s when I glimpsed a flash of red up ahead of me through the blinding snow. The brake lights of a slowing, or stopped(?) car. I tapped my brakes lightly, but in an instant, the car spun out of control.

Kind of in slow motion.

But within a few seconds we were headed the wrong way on the highway.

I’m thrilled to say that we didn’t crash. Simply landed with a bump and poof of snow in the center divider. While we were shaken up, I was able to carefully navigate us into the right direction and off the highway. Thank you, Jesus! (I say that a lot.) I decided to take the longer, street route the remainder of the way into town. Yeah.

Here’s the thing.

For those few minutes, the scariest part was feeling like I was completely out of control. My car was turning and sliding and no amount of driving-in-snow protocol helped.

I was helpless, powerless, and sensed danger all around.

I think that’s how most of the world feels these days. Between the virus, job losses, the election, violence in our streets, and even friends and family turning against us on social media, we can spin out of control and land facing the wrong direction.

Isn’t that what we fear most? Being out of control?

Don’t we want to know what’s happening all the time and have a handle on it? Our family, our job, our finances, our spouse, kids, friends, and the outcome of this election?

But what if we don’t? What do we do then? How do we handle life when we feel like we’ve lost control?

It’s been a slow road, but I’m learning to trust the God that IS in control. He sees all, has already been where we’re going, and knows what’s up ahead. I may not know, but if he does and I trust him then no matter what happens, I can be at rest.

Even when I’m out of control.

What if God knows everything about this virus, the election, the violence, and what my spouse, kids or friends feel and think? What if he’s using every single good and bad thing to bring something good, or better for us or someone else? What if we trusted that what we can see is only part of the bigger picture and plan?

I could tell a multitude of stories of all the times I questioned what was happening from injury, sickness, death to job loss, financial struggles and misunderstandings with family or friends. I have plenty of material.

I know this from my sixty years of life. God is good. He is faithful. I can trust him with everything and when I do, my heart is at peace even in the midst of messy spin-outs. It took practice to learn, and I’m still in process, but I know my God, and he loves us.

Getting to know him is the first step. Getting to know him intimately (nothing weird, just up close and personal), is the next. First we try talking to him and trusting him with something, and then we can trust him with the next thing and the next. Anyone who would give their child so that we could be close to him must love us an awfully lot.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” I John 4:9

“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19

Hawaii

Today, when you feel out of control, maybe try talking to the God who loves you and is in control. You may find a new sense of peace to give up your control and leave everything in his very capable hands.

I have. I hope you can too.

Soul Weary?


Don’t give up.

Those words have popped up in numerous places in the past couple of days. How appropriate! This week has been a long one with deadlines, doctor appointments, sick kids, and pain. You know how it is. Right?

I love how God knows how it is for us too.

He offers us exactly what we need in various ways. A call from a friend, a hug, a listening ear, a walk admiring nature. All of those little places that remind us that he sees and hears us when we’re weary.

I was reminded of how the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty long years. That’s two thirds of my entire life! They were promised a trip into a land flowing with good things like plenty of milk and honey. After the first few days they were complaining. What about after five, ten, or twenty years? It’s hard to keep the promise in sight when we feel weary or worn out.

This year certainly has been a wearing us down one.

But God is true to his promises. Even when it takes years to see them come to pass. Even when everything around us looks or feels hopeless and exhausting. His word encourages us not to grow weary in doing good. He must have known that we would. LOL

When I watched this clip this morning, I was encouraged and thought someone else might need a boost too. So here is another encouraging word about not giving up.

Let’s make it through another day, another week without allowing weariness to stop us in our tracks.

The climb is always worth the view!

In what areas are you weary? What uplifts you?

Where is God When…?


One morning this past week, I set off on a morning stroll as I often do. Clouds showcased the rising sun against a splendid blue background. When I reached the point where I usually turn around, I pivoted to return home, and a stunning rainbow gracing part of the sky surprised me. It had been behind me, but I didn’t notice until I turned around.

How many times do we miss something beautiful because of our perspective or position?

As I walked home, the rainbow grew until it arced over the entire sky. I encountered four people on my way back. None of them had noticed the rainbow.

The first one was running. I said “hi” and barely got the word “rainbow out as she smiled and ran on. I don’t think she even saw it.

The second person walked by with a smile.

“Did you see the rainbow?” I asked, pointing to the sky.

She turned around and gasped. “Oh, my! It’s beautiful. No, I didn’t see it. I was headed the other way first, but it wasn’t there. Now look. Thank you for pointing it out to me.”

“God’s promises,” I said.

“Yes. I think every time I see a rainbow that there is hope.”

I agreed and wished her a great day.

As I continued on, the rainbow grew in clarity and intensity. I praised and thanked God, not only for the gorgeous sight, but also for every challenging and difficult thing in my life and the lives of my family. Without the flood, there wouldn’t have been a rainbow–the sign of God’s promise that he would never wipe out the earth again.

Yet, many things are wiping out our lives right now, right?

Those tragic situations can turn us to God if we let them. I think he often allows them for our benefit. He knows where our bottom line is; where we will finally fall on our face before him and cry to him for help. Only he can bring the rainbow times out of crisis.

The third and fourth people I met were a couple who had been walking and talking in full view of the rainbow, which by that point had become a double one. A light drizzle showered us even as the sun shone brightly around. When I pointed to the rainbow, they were surprised they hadn’t even noticed it, but were so glad to have it brought to their attention.

“God’s promises are true,” I said to the husband as his wife pulled out her phone to snap a picture. He smiled and pointed one finger to the sky. “Yes,” he agreed.

I wished them a beautiful day and left them still admiring the handiwork of God.

When I returned home, I saw a post from a man whose blog I’ve been following for about eight years. He just celebrated his 60th birthday after being diagnosed with ALS at the age of thirty-six. No one expected him to live for more than a few years, but his faith has inspired tens of thousands of people all over the world. You can read his post and story here.

A rainbow moment.

God is good. Even if he allows bad things. We may not understand his ways or his methods of showing us who he is, but we can trust that whatever he chooses, it will produce something beautiful, colorful, and remarkable in the end.

What is your rainbow situation?

My newest book, When the Wind Blows, has rainbow moments for the six main characters who are thrown together when a hurricane sweeps through Southwest Florida. It will be available on Amazon on October 20, 2020 and offered for FREE the first five days. If you want to get in on the action NOW you can use the contact form or email me at laura@laurabennet.com and I will send you a FREE PDF copy so you can be one of the first to read and review (if you would be so kindly inclined).

Coming October 20, 2020
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GZ7KFLG
On sale NOW – Load it FREE for your Kindle on Amazon

Full or Empty Cup?


close up of coffee cup on table
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

An empty cup can be filled, but a full cup can’t hold what God wants to pour into us.

What are we full of?

Fear, hurt, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anxiety, dread, depression, anger?

OR

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, hope?

Do we fill our cup each day with “what if’s” that breed fear?

OR

Are we filled with excitement, dreams, possibilities and “God will”?

Jesus said that for all of us who are heavily burdened to come to him and trade whatever is weighing us down for his life of love, joy, peace, and hope. Laying everything down at his feet, we can let him handle our concerns and let him lead us by still waters.

Sometimes we find it hard to empty ourselves.

Pride, fear, shame, and disappointment can cause us to not trust God. We feel the need to control. But every step of faith that gives God more control yields relief and a lesser weight on us. Then we are free to let God determine our journey.

And his ways are far better than what we think we need or want.

He blows my mind with the healing, blessings, fulfilling ways my life expands and gets to touch others. His word says he gives us the desires of our hearts. I testify to the truth of that!

So today, are you empty or full? What is your cup full of?

Confused?


DSC_0059With so many contradicting messages blasting through our world right now, it’s easy to be confused about what to think. Who’s sharing truth and who’s manipulating people’s emotions?

As someone who loves Jesus, the saddest aspect to me is when I see or hear about proclaimed followers of Jesus arguing about politics, doctrine, and their own opinions. Are we adding to the confusion or showing a hurting and broken world faith, hope, and most importantly, love?

Accusing various believers or specific organizations of not being righteous or godly because they worship differently, pray silently or openly, baptize in various ways, support a political party, or wear masks (or not) divides us and drives us into confusion rather than the unity that Jesus desires for us.

The first and most important issue is whether we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive his gracious gift of laying his life down for our sinfulness, we are part of a family. That’s good news no matter how we receive it—whether in a church service, at a beach worship time, or in our bedroom, car, or shower. We might be homeless in an alley or looking at a sunset when we realize the love of God for us and choose to follow him.

After that, Jesus gave us some pretty clear and simple instructions for the rest of life.

  • Love him. He loved us first. He gave his life and longs for us to respond to his love.
  • Love ourselves. We are created and loved by God. He has a great plan for us. Treat ourselves kindly.
  • Love others. We’re all created and loved by God. When we realize we’re loved, we can extend that love.
  • Seek God first. Everything else falls into place when we do.
  • Live humbly. While we have our own thoughts and opinions, so do others. God is God. We’re not.
  • Speak the truth in love. Be honest with ourselves and others always.
  • Mercy over judgement. God forgave us. Forgive others, and let God be the only judge.
  • Grace, not deeds. God’s showed us grace when we were a mess not because we did something right. Be gracious to others in the same way.

I’ve been guilty of seeking my way, thinking my way is the only way, judging others, and not wanting to show grace or forgive.

We all have.

But when we get caught up in whether others are doing it our way, or sharing our opinions, or applying God’s word differently than we think it should be interpreted, we divide rather than unite.

God says a house divided can’t stand. So naturally that’s the enemy’s plan. If he can use us in the church to divide the church, then it’s a win, win for him.

And a loss for us and for those who don’t know Jesus yet and are turned off by our portrayal of him.

We have to let go of ourselves. Our agendas. The way we think things should be done.

Die to self is what Jesus calls it.

Not because he doesn’t want us to be the thinking, creating, unique individuals that he designed us to be, but because he wants us to be free to live fully in those ways. And his plans give us so much more than we can secure for ourselves.

When he increases in our lives, and our broken, self-focused, my-way-is-best decreases, we can walk in love. Loving him, loving us, loving others. Loving life.

And the world will know that Jesus is Lord, and he SO loves them.

A New Thing


For the past fifteen years, I’ve held a vision in my heart for a new kind of educational experience. Over the years, I’ve added notes, quotes, ideas, and cost analysis scribbles to the folder housing this dream. I’ve pushed it aside as life interrupted, picking it up again only to find the timing wasn’t right. But life is changing – has changed – now, right?

I believe God is doing a new thing.

For many of us, dormant dreams are awakening in us as God breathes on us with new life. The shaking of the world as we’ve known it has caused us to sit up and take notice. Are we going to keep living in the old ways, or will we shake off the dust and arise to something new?

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

For me, while I’m still writing books (When the Wind Blows is coming in September!), and my husband and I continue to help people plan their financial journey, God has also downloaded this exciting educational project called Discovery House.

You can learn about it at www.ourdiscoveryhouse.com and if the idea interests you, you can learn more and support us on our GoFundMe page.

But what about you?

What new thing is God doing in your life? Even if you’ve battled with health, loss of a loved one, or a job change, what new approach can you take? What new thing can you learn?

Maybe you haven’t thought about this season being a time of good things, but what if beyond all the chaos there’s a new path that God has ready for you?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Peace Be With You


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This week I was reading in John 21, and God spoke to me about peace. He asked me to share what he said, but first let me set the scene.

The followers of Jesus are cowering together in a room together with the doors locked.

Why?

Because their leader, who they thought was going to bring about political freedom, has been murdered. Tortured, mocked, and nailed on a tree to die for “no reason” according to the man who released him to be crucified. And even though some of them have seen him alive after he’s risen from the dead, they are hiding because people are hunting them to kill anyone who has followed Jesus.

Chaos, riots, turmoil in the streets. Fear permeating through the locked doors. Sound familiar?

And then Jesus shows up in the midst of their fear and says “Peace be with you.”

Today I heard him speak through his word and the whispers in my spirit. This is what he said:

No matter what is happening in the world right now, when I am with you, you will have peace. Do not get caught up in the drama of the times. Sit with me. Abide with me, and I will bring peace. I will cover you with peace. Not the peace the world claims void of racism and pandemics and turmoil and killing and riots, but peace outside of that, beyond it, in spite of it. Peace is not the absence of turmoil, it is my presence that is perfectly right and transcends what you can see. If you seek me, you will find me. If you trust me, you will rest in me. If you align yourself with me, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world, you will be in peace, surrounded with peace, covered with peace. I AM WITH YOU. Peace be with you. Let me breathe on you. Live in forgiveness. Stop doubting. Stop looking for something in the world to bring you peace, just believe the I AM, and I AM with you. Peace be with you.”

May you find peace in Jesus today.

What About Forgiveness?


During a discussion about the events of the recent murders, our love for our friends of all races, and how to navigate in a world where the violence of some escalated into ridiculous destruction, my husband asked a question.

“What about forgiveness? What would Jesus be thinking/doing in this situation?”

I thought he brought up a good point. One that has caused me to contemplate and consider my thoughts, opinions, and actions in regard to the racial injustice now and for hundreds of years previously.

So many thoughts and questions.

We talked about how we can’t fully understand what it feels like for someone of color to have to be careful where they go, what they do, and how they look. We haven’t been in a situation to have to instruct our children how to be careful when driving or being out with friends.

What little experience I have of that type of discrimination is when my younger brother, in our late teens/early twenties, was pulled over more than a couple of times because his long hair stereo-typed him as a drug user.

Or the numerous times I’ve been followed by men in cars trying to lure me, degrade me, or assault me because I’m a woman. Even as recently as a couple of weeks ago, a man in a doctor’s office elevator undressed me with his eyes. Not a pleasant experience.

But still, it only gives me a small taste of the concern and tension my dear black friends feel on a daily basis.

We talked about how people all over the world are discriminated against, persecuted, and maligned because of their skin, beliefs, or cultures. I asked Brendan, who’s from Australia, if he had any friends who were of Aboriginal descent, those who were native to Australia, and if they experienced the same kind of discrimination.

We talked about how we both felt uncomfortable now with people of color because previously we simply saw everyone we met or knew as people. Not white people or black people or Asian people or Latin people. Just as someone might use skin color as a description of us white folks, we might describe others the same way by their color or ethnicity or culture, but we didn’t think of it in a derogatory way. Is it?

But now, would people assume we did? Had we not been interested enough in the past to find out someone’s story because they were of a different color or background? Should we go out of our way to be kinder than usual to let people know we care about their color? Have I discriminated in some unknown way because the majority of the characters in my books have white skin?

I believe that black lives matter.

They absolutely do. I’ve been ignorant in my assumptions that black people aren’t treated badly “any more” as a whole. I’m grateful for the conversations that are opening my eyes, and breaking my heart.

And I also believe that every life matters.

Every single person whether they’re black, of another culture or race, white, young, old, male, female, unborn, or living with some kind of limitation or disability should never be thought of as “less than.” But haven’t we all at some point looked at someone else and thought they were not as good, right, talented, kind, handsome, fit, pretty, etc. as us?

Not to take away from this current crisis of racial injustice.

But the bottom line is our sinful hearts. Wrong motives. Selfish attitudes. Pride. Fear. Lack of compassion.

And what about forgiveness?

I believe there is a place for righteous anger. God has displayed his in numerous occasions in the Bible. And I believe he calls us to speak out against sin; not people, but sin, calling out evil and injustice. He tells us to speak for those who don’t have a voice. To stand up for those who are in captivity.

But I also believe God calls us to forgive. To lay down anger, and not let it make us sin. Not let the sun go down on it. Not let it turn into roots of bitterness. He says our anger will not bring about his righteousness. Even if we’d like to believe it will.

What the officers, as well as so many others we don’t even know about, did in killing innocent people or turning their backs as it happened, was so wrong. Unjust. Evil. It’s righteous anger that calls it out for what it is.

And, as my husband pointed out, Jesus was beaten, tortured, and murdered in a horrific way too, but he chose to forgive those who did not know what they were doing.

Of course, they knew what they were doing. But they had no real concept of how wrong their actions were. They were ignorant of what it meant in a bigger than human understanding way. They were foolish and led by evil, self-centered hearts.

Doesn’t that describe all of us?

Should we forgive? Jesus forgave us. He forgives the officers that killed Mr. Floyd and the others. He forgives the rioters and looters. And he forgives us for any of our opinions and fears and questions because our understanding about all of it is not his understanding.

He tells us that we see through a glass dimly. We can’t grasp all of what this means. We can’t. Even if we think we can and try to. So the best we can do is to spend time with him asking him to give us his eyes to see. His heart to understand and love with true compassion. For everyone.

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photo by Agberto Guimaraes https://unsplash.com/@agb800m

And his grace to forgive.

 

 

What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”