Nudgings Feed

Nudgings #39 - Cling to Jesus

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I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. (Psalm 63:8, NLT)

The other day I spent over two hours watching a power company worker climb and trim a huge tree. Wow. I can’t speak for the climber, but for me, just watching it all was an amazing, interesting, challenging, adventurous, nerve-racking and scary experience.

The climber used a harness, carabiners, ropes, two flip lines and a set of spikes on his feet to hold himself and his heavy chainsaw to that tree. At one point I saw the climber’s spikes slip, but the worker didn’t fall because his flip line and harness held him fast. The tree stood tall and strong, and as long as the climber clung to it . . . he was safe.

In Psalm 63 we find King David (a person just like you and me) in the midst of an amazing, interesting, challenging, adventurous, nerve-racking and scary experience––life.

And what did he do? He held on to the One holding him.

“I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” (vs. 8)

So, that’s what I will do. I will cling to the mighty Tree of Life who is holding me––Jesus, the one who died upon a tree.


Nudgings #38 - Eternity

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God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT)

For now we see through a glass, darkly … (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV)

I don’t understand all this “eternity” talk . . . but then again maybe I do, sort of. Eternity means forever, and forever includes tomorrow, and I spend a lot of time thinking about, wondering about and unfortunately, worrying about tomorrow. And I know you do too.

All humans have “eternity” in their hearts and minds. Just look at the way we all check the weather. The news stories and interest articles that catch and keep our attention are all about what is coming—what might be. And for all of us, at one time or another, things don’t look too good—in fact, they look dark. So what are we to do with this “eternity” in our hearts?

The wisdom literature of the Old Testament tell us to:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

And Jesus, as he speaks to Jairus, a desperate father in the New Testament, says to us:

Don’t listen to them; just trust me. (Mark 5:36, MSG)

This “eternity” thing is in us, and way beyond us. We get it, but we don’t, and this place of tension and unease leaves us in a difficult place. What are we to do? Like the Apostle Paul, “we see through a glass, darkly.” He had eternity in his heart too, so I’m going to follow his lead. He says:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)


Nudgings #37 - Holy Saturday

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There isn’t much written in the Bible or in the history books about Holy Saturday—the day between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. It is a backwards day, a hopeless day—an evil day. Its silence screams things like: hate, loss, war crimes, hyperinflation, malignant, shame, “there’s nothing more we can do,” good-bye and Jesus is dead.

And then the angel says to the women at the tomb and to you and me . . . 

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” (Luke 24:5-6, NLT)

Let us be reminded that the suffering only lasts for the night. The darkness of Holy Saturday will end—evil spelled backwards is live—and joy comes in the morning. 

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, NLT)

Let the backwards silence of Holy Saturday be drowned out by the One who said,

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)

Jesus is Risen!


Nudgings #36 - But Now . . . Follow Me (Easter Poem)

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Go, tell his disciples and Peter, . . . (Mark 16:7, NIV)

But Now . . . Follow Me
by Ryan M. Roberts

Where Jesus walked, the disciples followed;
But not all the way.
“Where I go now, you can’t. But later, ...”
Was all that He would say.

After midday prayers, Peter’s words rang out,
“No matter what or where or who;
You are mine, and I am yours.”
He said, “I will die with you!”

Amid friends huddled ‘round the fire that night;
“Hosannas!” gleamed in memory.
With hopes high, but resolve low,
The glow faded into Gethsemane.

They watched with the Christ in darkness,
But their prayers turned quickly to sleep.
And Peter’s vow, though earnest,
Was more than he could keep.

He drew his sword at the gleam of the torch,
But the Lord said, “No more of this!”
Jesus touched and healed His enemy;
And was led away, betrayed by a kiss.

Peter followed Him from a distance;
Keeping warm by the fire of his foe.
When asked, “You’re with Jesus, yes?”
Three times his response was, “No.”

With the lies came a rooster’s crow.
The look, a whip, the crown, a hill,
A cross, the cry, a spear thrust forth;
The King of Kings to kill.

Three days passed, Peter sat alone;
The guilt and regret—his choice.
Now what? Now where? Now who?
“He’s gone!” Peter leapt at Mary’s voice.

He ran to the tomb, bent low and went in,
Echoes, predictions, rags filled the space.
“Tear down this temple and in three days it will rise.”
Peter left, wonder full on his face.

There were sightings and sayings that, “He is alive!”
Stories no book could contain.
Yet ashamed, Peter watched the Christ from afar;
He should laud, but his failures remained.

Peter said to his friends, “Let’s fish,” and they went,
To row and to cast was no chore.
The fish, they were few, but the company good;
Then they heard a voice from the shore.

Jesus was there, by the fire, cooking food.
He said, “Come my friends, let’s eat.”
Peter pledged all his love—heart, mind and soul,
Jesus smiled and said, “Feed my sheep.”

“Your own efforts and failures, left you lost and in chains,
Through my wounds and my death you are free.
Where I went, you could not go on your own,
But now . . . in my power, follow Me.”


Nudgings #35 - Call Out to Jesus

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The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him. (Psalm 145:17-18, NIV)

I will never forget the day that Becca broke her arm. We were having fun together at the elementary school playground near our house and Becca was showing me her first-grade “skills” on all the different play equipment. She was climbing and hanging and swinging and saying, “Watch this Daddy,” and “Look at me, Daddy,” and I was close by watching and “oohing” and “aahing.”

And then it happened. 

Becca slipped off the bars and fell to the ground. She put her hand out to break her fall and landed on her arm. As I ran toward her she looked up at me and cried, “Daddy!” and I can still hear her voice—it sounded so shaky and fragile and fearful—it pierced my heart.

I helped her immediately. I gently cradled her hurt arm in my hands and calmly told her that everything was going to be OK. I held her close as we walked back to the house and I assured her that her Mom and I were going to take her to the doctor. Two hours later Becca’s tears and pain were replaced with a good story and a fancy blue cast—and I was the first person to sign it. 

“Daddy!” . . . I will never forget the sound of Becca’s cry. Even before she called out to me, I was running to help her, because I love her.

How much more does God the Father love you and me? He so wants us to call out to Him—and a cry is all it takes. When it comes to prayer, God isn’t picky. He wants to hear from us and He wants to help us because He loves and delights in us just like parents delight in their children. 

The LORD doesn’t require perfect words or polished language. Your voice gets his attention. Your cry pierces his heart. God is a good Father to his children. He hears us, helps us, saves us, “oohs” and “aahs” over us . . . and loves us.

Call out to Jesus. 


Nudgings #34 - For Joy

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For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

The joy set before Jesus was you and me! He went through the horrific pain, struggle and humiliation of the cross so we could find mercy, grace and life with God.

When I was 27 years old I left my job as a fifth grade teacher and took a position as an elementary school principal. That might sound good and glorious, but it was difficult . . . I mean—diarrhea every day—difficult.

I was the youngest adult in the building, I was the boss, and I was a nervous wreck. One day I was so stressed that when the secretary brought a purchase order into my office for me to sign, all I could do was scribble—and it looked nothing like my signature. The secretary saw my shaky hand and with concern said, “Oh Ryan . . .”

I was a mess.

At the time, being a principal wasn’t my dream job, but it paid the bills (nearly double what I made as a teacher) and made it possible for my wife to stay home and care for our newborn daughter. I didn’t like the stress and the struggle, but that didn’t matter. I was thankful for the job and did it for the joy set before me—my wife and my daughter.

But all that doesn’t come close to what Jesus did for you and for me.

He left Heaven, came to earth as a baby, lived as a servant, healed the sick, loved the unlovely and showed us God’s heart. And in return, He was wrongly accused, slapped, spit upon, mocked, beaten and tortured. He was stripped naked, impaled on a wooden cross and died a criminal’s death.

He could have called ten-thousand angels and stopped the pain and injustice, but He didn’t. He did the hard thing. He paid the price for you, me and the whole world so that we might be free from the power of sin and death in our lives. We were a mess, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

He did it for the joy set before Him and that joy was you and me!


Nudgings #33 - Choices Matter

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This isn’t a fortune I pulled out of a cookie at a restaurant, it is a picture of Proverbs 20:7 in my NLT Bible. (Yes, I write in my Bible.)

Life is challenging and I need wisdom, so each day as a part of my daily Bible reading I read a chapter out of the book of Proverbs. Years ago I learned that Billy Graham read a chapter a day out of Proverbs and I thought it wise to follow his lead.

Every morning I know the exact chapter I will turn to—I just look at the calendar. There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs and there are no more than thirty-one days in a month, so I check the date, and then read the corresponding chapter. The result is always help and wisdom for my day.

Wisdom comes from God. It is the good, guiding, life-giving way to act, think and live. It is God’s mind and the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our being and doing. It’s the way to live well, appreciate what matters most and take nothing for granted—it’s the way of blessing.

God gets my attention in Proverbs 20:7 by mentioning my children and He reminds me that my choices matter. None of us control much of what happens in this crazy world we live in, but we all get the power to choose how we “walk,” think, act, talk, spend our time and live life.

Jesus is interested in our lives, so much so that He gave His life upon the cross to save us from our sins. He wants good for His children as we walk this journey of life and He gives us help along the way, and it doesn’t come from a fortune cookie, it comes from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gives us wisdom, and because He is love—He gives us choice.

Choices matter.


Nudgings #32 - Crystal Clear

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In these days of trouble is your faith fuzzy and your hope blurred?

Look to Love.

The Apostles Paul, Peter and John all make it crystal clear that love is the first and last word—it is to be the supreme attribute and value in our hearts and lives.

Paul said, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

Peter said, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV)

John said, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, NLT)

Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”(John 13:34-35, NLT)

Jesus, the One who is love, came and lived with us and died for us, and now He lives in us and shows us what love looks like:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)

So we pray:
Jesus, as we walk in darkness, wade through troubled waters and stumble forward on a path that is unclear, we look to Love. May it live in us and through us, for Your glory. Make us crystal clear for You.


Nudgings #31 - Show Up

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Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9:62, MSG)

I have a standing meeting at 5:00 a.m. every day. It is with the Almighty God and sometimes a few other folks, and the agenda is always the same:

Jesus must become greater; Ryan must become less. (John 3:30)

The focus of the meeting is on my walk with Jesus—yes with my feet—but mostly with my heart, because the inner walk is what empowers and sustains the outer walk. God got me started on this journey with Jesus and He is the one that brings about growth in my heart and life.

Everything that happens in the meeting is grounded upon this one point: God loves me and saved me from my sins through the shed blood of his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus rose from the dead and He is my hope, my help and my life.

All I do is show up, lean in and make myself available to Him.

My morning meetings always include a time of prayer—calling out to the Lord for His help, strength, Spirit, protection, wisdom and love in my heart and life.

I read from the Bible. It is God’s voice to me. It washes my heart and mind, sheds light on my path and builds my faith. The Word of God is primary to the meeting agenda.

I often do some spiritual reading from various authors and teachers (they are the other folks at the meeting). This reading is usually from devotionals and commentaries and it is always based on the Bible.

And then, I write in my journal. This is the way that I reflect on what I have learned and heard from the Holy Spirit. Reflecting is key to growth in Jesus, for blessed is the man and woman who meditates on and delights in God’s Word.

I try not to miss a meeting because Jesus is always there, waiting for me to arrive, and every day that I show up, I walk away with strength, help and hope.

Do you have a standing meeting with Jesus? He wants to meet with you, and it doesn’t need to be at 5:00 a.m. He is ever available. You set a time and He will be there.

All you need to do is show up, lean in and make yourself available to Him.


Nudgings #30 - 40 years or 11 days—You Choose

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Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel. (Deuteronomy 1:2-3, NLT)

Last summer I was on a freeway somewhere on the border of Idaho, Washington and nowhere . . . and I missed my exit. Frustrating!! I had to drive miles and miles before I could cross over to the other side of the freeway, retrace my steps, and get back on my desired path. It added 90 minutes to my trip!

But adding an extra hour and a half to a trip is nothing compared to what the children of Israel did. They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days!

On the day they followed Moses out of Egypt they were only 11 days away from the Promised Land, but it took them 40 years to get there, and the crazy thing is, that it wasn't the distance or difficulty of the journey that delayed their arrival—it was the path they chose to take.

My excuse for missing the freeway exit last summer was because I was listening to music and not paying attention to the signs. But what were the Israelites doing (or not doing) that delayed them by 40 years?

I found the answer in Psalm 78. It says that God rescued the Israelites from bondage and slavery in Egypt, saved them from Pharaoh’s army by parting the Red Sea, guided them by cloud and by fire, gave them water to drink and food to eat (which is essentially saying that God gave them life), and yet . . . they kept on sinning. They failed to trust God. They complained, they rebelled and they did not remember Him, His ways, nor His Presence in their lives.

They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days because of worry, grumbling, whining, a bad attitude, an ungrateful spirit and . . . sin. Now that’s an exit you don’t want to take. It will lead you down a road that will strip you of hope, leave you with regret and rob you of precious years—even entire seasons—of your life.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to lose 90 minutes of time, let alone 40 years, and I suspect that Moses and the Israelites didn't either. In fact, most of the folks that started out on that 11-day journey to the Promised Land were dead and gone 40 years later. They never made it.

But please note that not everyone missed the exit to the Promised Land. Joshua made it, and may we all pay attention to his words:

"Choose today whom you will serve, . . . as for me and my family we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15, NLT)

40 years or 11 days . . . you choose.
I choose Jesus.