Freedom Friday: The God of the 4 Cent Monkey

If you struggle with believing that God cares about the little things, I have a story for you.

A friend gave me a gift card to Babies R Us, so I wanted to buy a couple of things I’m concerned about not having at this point (a month away from my due date), as well as possibly update the baby registry.

We went to the registry desk at Babies R Us to get our free gift for registering since we registered online and had not been in the store yet. While we were sitting there, having the sales woman explain things to us, JJ (my younger son at 4 1/2) spied the stuffed animals. He couldn’t resist picking one out for his baby sister on the way, so we added a monkey to the baby registry (one of his nicknames is Monkey).

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We only registered for 4-5 things because I had trouble finding stuff, and they didn’t have the shirts in stock that we had traveled to the store to buy. So we were planning on leaving without buying anything.

JJ was very sad we weren’t buying the monkey, so I figured I would look at the registry list to see what the cost for the monkey was. It said 0.04. I thought that couldn’t be right, so we went to grab the monkey to price check it at one of those scanners they have around the store.

4 cents.

We brought it up to the register to check one more time. Yep, 4 cents! We paid 4 cents for JJ’s gift to his baby sister.

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JJ, setting up his sister’s bed with the 4 Cent Monkey

Sometimes it’s easy to believe in the God who can hurl mountains into the sea, but not so easy to believe in the God who cares about the small stuff, too.

Sometimes it’s easy to believe that God will provide for your most basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), but it’s more difficult to grasp the abundance of His rich blessings to those who call Him Father.

Maybe there’s an area of your life in which you need to be reminded that God lavishes His love on His children. He is quick to rescue, quick to open His arms, and even quick to give a 4 year old a glimpse of His provision – not because we really needed another stuffed animal, but simply because it was important to JJ.

God gave us a 4 cent monkey so that JJ could give his sister a 4 cent monkey.

Just because He loves us.

Is there something you have been hesitated to ask God for, because it doesn’t seem important enough?

It’s important to God.

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35 weeks pregnant

Freedom Friday: Straining Toward Freedom

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.

The above verse caught my eye in church on Sunday (Philippians 3:13-14). “Straining toward what is ahead,” it says. Not strolling into it or waiting around for it to happen – but straining. I looked it up in the Greek, and it means exactly what it says:

to reach out towards, to stretch out further, to strain for

Sprinter Crossing the Finish Line

No one ever wins a race by taking it easy. It takes training, it takes effort, and it takes straining.

Yet this does not make us happy. We, like the Israelites, look back longingly at Egypt when things seemed easier. We don’t want to stretch ourselves to reach towards what God has for us. We’d rather it be handed to us.

Why do we expect freedom to come easily? According to our nature inherited from Adam, sin is what comes naturally to us. Even with the Holy Spirit living in us, guiding us into all truth, we need to learn to walk in the fullness of the freedom Jesus died to give us (written about in Freedom Step 5 of my book).

Though believers are no longer slaves to sin, we can continue to allow sin to enslave us. Whatever inclination we choose to obey will become our master (Romans 6:16).

This is why we, like the Israelites, must forget what is behind in order to walk in the fullness of the Promised Land God has for us.

This verse has been used by some to “prove” we are not meant to process and heal from our past. That’s not what Paul is saying here. One of the ways we shake off those things that hinder us is by allowing God into those places of wounding so He can set us free.

What Paul communicates here is that we are to press forward (“endeavor earnestly to acquire,” the Greek says) in order “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v.12).

“Life is not simply a pensive look back to the known, but a daring leap forward to the unknown.” Mary DeMuth

There are times for rest, and times for war. There are times for waiting, and times for straining.

What is God calling you to strain toward in this season?

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #10: Assemblies of God History, Missions, and Governance

It’s been 4 1/2 months since I’ve updated my #EmptyShelf challenge.

Ouch.

It’s not because I haven’t been reading, though admittedly, I’ve been reading a lot less. I am 3 books behind on posting blog updates with two other books I will finish very soon.

In these months, I’ve walked through a very difficult pregnancy, a long-distance move, and getting resettled as a ministry director here in Boston.

So without further delay, book #10:

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Assemblies of God – History, Missions, and Governance (this links to Amazon, but this is not the most updated version of the text. Global University would have that.)

I’m working on finishing up my ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God. I took 2 classes about a decade ago that were very similar to this one, but it seemed I needed to take this updated class. I wasn’t thrilled about it 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and how much I learned. It was a lot of memorization (as there’s a test you take at the end), but the improvements and developments that have occurred in the past decade were worth reading about.

I also had more of a context for a lot of what the book was talking about and the history within the Assemblies of God movement since I have now been attending various AG churches for most of the past 15 years.

This book would certainly be enlightening to anyone with an interest in the development of the Pentecostal movement in the 20th century.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge: