Perfect 10

We are so very excited to announce that our four new additions - Jalynn, Josie, Bryan and Elly - are now officially SHACKELFORDS!!  We are so blessed to permanently add the four beautiful children to our family.  Thank you for your prayers during this almost 2 year process!

Acting Right vs. Being Obedient

What is the difference between “acting right” and “being obedient”? In our prayer time this morning, my wife and I were convicted that we needed to switch modes - to change our “act right” into “be obedient”.

Too often we act rightly. This is an action - doing the right thing. It is, by it’s nature, not inherently wrong. But if “acting right” becomes our modus operandi, it will ultimately fail. We don’t have it within us to do righteousness.  Instead, we should strive to be obedient.  To be obedient is to focus on the One we are being obedient to. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey all that I have commanded.” [Jn 14:15] To be obedient is to love God. He also said, "apart from me, you can do nothing." [Jn 15:5] You can bear no fruit of obedience without being connected to Jesus (a.k.a. abiding).  


I so easily fall into the trap of going through my days working hard to do the right things.  Are you like me? Our busy culture entangles us in a web of harried activities.  Satan loves for Jesus-followers to get so busy doing “good things” that they forget to rest in simple obedience to Christ. When I read the gospels, I never get the sense that Jesus was busy, or harried, or behind schedule. With all that he needed to accomplish - you know, saving the world - He still spent massive amounts of time in Sabbath rest and prayerfulness! This allowed Him to hear God and then take that next step of obedience, no more and no less. So what did Jesus do?  “I do nothing but what the Father tells me to do.”

Can we live this way? Can we be obedient? Only if that being is in Him.  Being in His Word.  Being prayerful.  Being still and knowing He is God.  I feel Jesus saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary of acting right and burdened by busy-ness, and I will give you rest.” The yoke of acting right is heavy but being obedient is light and feels more like love than law.

photo taken by Ken Shackelford, 2017 on Table Mountain in Cape Town, S. Africa

God Rejoices to See the Work Begin

As we continue to get Lumenations up and running, I have been thinking about the phrase in the Bible "Do not despise small beginnings..."  It had been a while since I've read that scripture so I had to look it up.  The prophet Zechariah uttered these words in a vision he had about the rebuilding of the Temple by Zerubbabel. This was after God's people returned from their Babylonian exile.  The foundation had been laid but there were powerful forces lined up against the completion of the temple itself.  There was much discouragement among the people as this dream of a temple seemed more like a pipe dream - way too big for it to be accomplished.

evan-kirby small.jpeg

Do not despise

...these small beginnings.

God says in Zechariah 4:10 "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." [NLT]  God made it clear earlier in the same chapter that there was only one way they could hope to accomplish this great task:  "not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit"!  [Zech. 4:6b-NKJV]

King David, who laid the groundwork for the first great Temple of God, showed the contrast between those working in their own strength and those operating in faith when he proclaimed that "some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." [Psalm 20:8-NIV]

How much faith do we need? That can also be small and still be powerful and effective. "Truly I tell you," Jesus said, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move." He then utters six incredible words, "Nothing will be impossible for you." [Matthew 17:20-NIV]

The vision God has given me for Lumenations is big - so big that I kept it at arm's length for almost 20 years.  God continued to grow and refine the vision throughout those years, building that foundation, making it ready for work to begin.  We have begun this knowing it is too big for us but we believe God is saying, "It is NOT too big for Me."  We know this is a step of faith and pray that, together, our faith is at least the size of that oft-mentioned mustard seed.  We know it will not be accomplished by our power or our might so we will trust in God's Spirit to guide us and strengthen us.

Please pray for these small beginnings!

- Ken S.

Heidi, Kate and Ken - meeting in Searcy - all excited to see this thing get off the ground! [photo above by Ken S., top photo by Even Kirby, used by permission -]

Heidi, Kate and Ken - meeting in Searcy - all excited to see this thing get off the ground! [photo above by Ken S., top photo by Even Kirby, used by permission -]