Receive Him Willingly

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“Now when the evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid,’ Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” John 6:16-21

Jesus had instructed the disciples to go on ahead to escape the crowd. It was dark. Jesus had stayed to send away the multitudes and after He did, He escaped to the mountain to pray.  The disciples set sail and encountered a storm. They were never out of Jesus’ sight. He knew full well they were headed toward a storm. And at just the right moment He came. He was not late, they didn’t drown, He was there.

Granted they had been tossed around a bit. They were no stranger to this type of storm. They knew the seriousness of it. I have to wonder what they were thinking. Were they thinking, “Where is He?” or “We are going to die!” or “How are we going to get through this tempest?” They didn’t call out for Him but there He was walking straight toward them in the midst of their situation. He didn’t need a boat, he used the water to walk like we use the earth.

It states clearly that they were afraid. Were they afraid of Him? This loving Jesus that had taught them, guided them and stayed with them. Never abandoning, never forsaking. What about you? Where would your head be if you saw Jesus walking toward you on the water? I feel like I would be relieved but at the same time, in utter and complete awe.

The very first thing He says is, “It is I, do not be afraid.” He doesn’t want us to be fearful in our storms, especially when deliverance comes. Maybe the rescue won’t look like you thought it would. But you can rest assured that it will come. Maybe right when the gales are threatening to overtake you. He will walk right into your situation. But how will you respond? If your rescue doesn’t look like you thought, how will you receive it?

It says they willingly received Him into the boat. He didn’t have to convince them or talk them into it. After getting over the initial shock of His presence, I feel like they were like, “YES! Please come in with us!” And when they received Him, they were IMMEDIATELY to their destination. No more struggling. No more straining against the wind and waves.  Their deliverance was immediate.

I’m not sure who this is for today but please do what the disciples did. Let Him into the boat. No matter what it looks like. In my experience, when He shows up, it’s never the way I thought He would. He is vastly creative and every move He makes has purpose and meaning. Hear this as well, it’s not about you. If feels like it is because you are so wrapped up in the circumstances. Everything is always all about Him. His purpose. His glory. His presence.

When you take the focus off of self and fix your gaze upon Christ, everything changes. It did for the disciples and it will for you too. You no longer feel like you are hanging on by a thread but are being held by the strongest love you’ve ever known. He won’t be late friend. Take heart. Press on. You are never out of His sight. He is there and will act at just the right moment. You need not worry about when. Those details are for Him alone.

So what do you do while you wait? I pray. I trust. I wait (he has taught me to) patiently. And I wake up every morning praising and worshiping Him for who He is and what He has done and what He will do. The way cool thing is that your deliverance will be immediate. The storm will be behind you. Your faith strengthened by the journey. Your help is coming, just you watch and see! You’re going to be amazed!

Photo credit:https://www.wikiart.org/en/ivan-aivazovsky/the-tempest-1899utm_source=returned&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=referral

A thorn in the flesh

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul had some amazing visions and revelations about Heaven and Paradise. In the verses preceding these he explains that he isn’t sure if he went out of body or in. Either way he had heard inexpressible words that could not be uttered by man. He goes on to say he could boast about them but will not so that he won’t be viewed above what he actually is.

In the key verses, he explains about a thorn in his flesh. I am going to assume that it was an actual pain in his bodily flesh that he couldn’t rid himself of and that God would not take. Some may interpret that word flesh to refer to a sin or temptation that he had. The word flesh from The Key Word Study Bible KJV means bodily flesh of a living creature. So something was poking him into some severe discomfort.

I love that God kept him humble. He keeps me that way and it’s a process I assure you. When He prompts me to do something and it goes well, I am tempted to turn my joy for the Lord into pride. I get so excited that I did something right and well that if I’m not careful, it turns into a yay Kim party instead of a yay God party. I quickly remember that I can do nothing without Him. He gets all glory and honor because He alone is worthy.

I have a nerve in my lower back that is obviously faulty. I live in an intermediate state of pain. Especially when I run. You don’t get used to the pain but after some time it’s like that nagging annoying friend or co-worker that is always there trying to bring you down. But that pain keeps me humble. If I could attain all of the goals I have for myself that old ugly pride monster could pop onto the scene. And we will have none of that.

I, like Paul, have asked over and again for God to take it. Yes I can go to the doctor and have back surgery, no thanks. I may have to at some point but not now. I had enough of surgery last year so I will just deal. Through a devotion I recently read He let me know that I needed Him more than my personal goals and that this body would continue to fail me in this world.

His grace is sufficient for anything you are going through. Anything. What does that mean exactly? I take it to mean that the unmerited favor of God that has been and will always continue to pour out on your life is all you will ever need. He does not treat us according to our sins but in loving kindness is gracious to us. Amazing. The God of the universe is bestoying grace and mercy on me. Why? Because He loves me that much. The same is 100% true for you too.

What if your pain comes from within? What if your heart has been ripped out of your chest and torn to pieces? What if the worst nightmare you have had comes to life? He made you. He knows you. He knows your pain and suffering. He will walk through it with you. He will sustain you. He will carry you. And then there’s that beautiful grace that we experience with Him and His strength is complete in our weakness. It is sufficient friend.

Pain is never wanted or welcomed initially. But when we realize that He has purpose in it and that our faith will increase with it we become a powerful weapon against the enemy and his devices. He wants us to crumble under the pressure. But we won’t! We will allow God to work in us and through us to get to the other side of the mountain. You won’t be stuck on the side here forever. You will go up and over before you know it! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

I can testify that God will bring you through. If you have to live with your pain in the flesh, His love, mercy and grace will be enough. Press on in your pain. Remember that His strength is complete in your weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong!

 

 

When God calls your name

“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:2-4

These verses were part of our Sunday School lesson this week and I wanted to share them with you. I am a visual person so I thought to myself what would I do if I pulled into the driveway and one of my shrubs was on fire but I could still see all of the leaves and flowers on it? Would I run past it and grab the hose or call the fire department? Or would I draw near to see why it was not being consumed. What would you do?

To the credit of Moses he turned off of his path of tending sheep and drew near to see what was happening. It was only then that the Lord called to Moses. When he turned aside. When he stopped what he was doing to pay attention. When he was intent on finding an answer.

I wonder why God used a burning bush? Why didn’t He just call out to Moses? Do you think it took a burning bush to get his attention? God will capture your attention by whatever means that it takes. He may not use a burning bush but perhaps an illness for you or a loved one. Maybe a job loss. A wayward child. Financial devastation. Hurricanes. When God has a message for you, He will get it to you. The answer here is to be listening all of the time.

I love that when God called to Moses he said, “Here I am.” I wonder how many times God has said, “Kim, Kim!” and I pushed right on past.  No stopping or veering off of my path. So busy and wrapped up in life that I didn’t hear my Lord when He called. I want to be like Moses and every single time he calls my name that I say, “Here I am.” I am not saying I have never heard from or listened to God only pondering the missed opportunities that turned into burning bushes in my life.

I remember when I was growing up that I had to be able to hear my Mom when she called me for dinner. She would call my name and I would yell, “I am coming.” She was less than happy when I was out of voice range. I may not get to play the next afternoon or two. I just wonder if God is that way toward us. He calls and we are out of range. Then we have the consequences of disobedience to deal with.

Why not stop what you are doing right now and ask God if He has been calling for you? Turn aside and look for Him. Join Him in what He is already doing. I think sometimes we think that when He calls that we have to go to Africa. Some will. Often times though it’s happening right where you are today. If you will look around, you will see where He is at work and you can join Him there.

Or maybe it’s a huge task that He is calling you to. When He called to Moses He was going to instruct him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. No small task. But everything that had happened in his life to that point had prepared him for the task at hand. It’s the same for you friend. Every single occurrence you have encountered has prepared you. He won’t ever ask you to go it alone. He just needs a willing vessel.

Joining God in a grand adventure is full of blessings. I am not saying it’s easy but it is worth it and the fellowship with God is priceless. Turn aside. Seek Him. Ask Him. Follow Him. God always blesses obedience. Have a super week, praying for you!

 

Faith Without Works is Dead

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But some will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

I drive by and run by this tree many times per day. It is in the empty field beside of our house. It has had limbs to break free and land in the roadway. There are many dead limbs that have fallen at the base of the tree. I want someone to take it down before someone gets hurt. If it falls the way I think it will, we will all be without power for quite some time. It is a danger to the community.

You can’t see it very well but the tree has friends behind it. Full of foliage, some turning, some falling. But they are flourishing. Same piece of property, same soil, perhaps different species of trees but nonetheless one is dead and the others are thriving. What happened here? Was it an insect, damage to the root system, or was it diseased? I don’t have the answer but as I pondered it I began to think about faith.

Friends please hear me clearly on this. You can do all the good things that you can possibly perceive and not know Jesus and it has little benefit. It’s all about your heart motive. Works cannot and will not ever save you or get you into Heaven. Works are an overflow of what is going on in your heart. Out of our great love for our Savior, we seek to serve Him in the ways that He puts before us. When we act on it, it exhibits our faith.

On the flip side of that, you cannot be saved and not do good things for other people. Jesus is not to be hoarded up all to yourself. His love and grace should be an extension of our faith. If you don’t have these works, maybe you should check your relationship with Christ, maybe you have damage to your root system.  If you do have them and are doing them to be acknowledged by the world or other Christians, maybe you should check your relationship with Christ, there may be an insect eating away on the inside. I am by no means condemning anyone. I always talk to you about what I have experienced.

I love cardinals. I am so excited to see one. Every. Single. Time. We were driving down the road and I saw a dead one just lying right beside of the road! I was horrified! I thought, “Jesus, what does THAT mean?” Immediately faith without works is dead came to my mind. I had become so wrapped up in what was going on with me that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me.

When my eyes were opened I began to see opportunities every day to serve Him. To be His hands and feet. As soon as one would pass another would open up. It was then that I started to wonder about that dead tree.  I thought, “Was that me Lord?” I didn’t feel a response but I know in my heart it was a yes. See we can get wrapped up in doing good things, church service and so on but miss the every day opportunities God places before us because we may think, “I am serving. I am doing my part.”

No! A thousand times no! Serving at church is fantastic and I applaud you for doing so. But please don’t mistake that for all you are called to do. It’s every day life where it happens. There is a sign above the exit of a church that says, “You are entering the mission field.” YES! That’s what I am talking about right there!

You don’t have to be the dead tree in the middle of the flourishing field! You can be one of the trees with all of the foliage! Every time one of those brightly colored leaves of yours falls, another person is fed, another person is invited to church, a weary Mom gets the afternoon off, another child gets to play catch, someone walking down the street gets a ride and it goes on and on…

Where will Jesus send you today? Aren’t you excited? Isn’t it just amazing to know that the Creator of all has an assignment just for YOU today? Be open, look in all places. He wants you to flourish! Pray and see what amazing thing lies in your path today! All praise to Him who is worthy!!

Joy!

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“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

As I trod through my latest band of trials, yes they come in numbers at times, these verses were some of the focal point of Sunday School a few weeks ago. Why do I talk about trials so much? Well, the way I see it you either are getting ready to have one, are in one or just left one.  I just love how God does it. No matter what I am facing, He sends the perfect message at the perfect time. Does He do that for you too? Isn’t He perfectly awesome?

As I studied, I parked on the word joy. Joy. Dictionary.com defines it as: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. Synonyms are bliss, delight, elation, merriment, rejoicing, you get the picture. So I wondered, “Okay God, how am I supposed to FEEL joy right now? This hurts.” And then I am redirected to the next part of the verse that states “the testing of your faith produces patience.” Okay now I am supposed to feel joy AND have patience? Is it even possible? Oh yes!!

I read the Forward Teaching Guide for High School Students by Randall House. They put it like this: “The world teaches that joy implies life is always, good-that ‘feeling’ joyful and ‘feeling’ good are synonymous. In God’s Word, however, the word joy does not translate as a ‘feeling’ word, but rather a ‘knowing’ word. James was not implying that whenever  we are being persecuted or hungry or sick we should ‘feel’ joyful. Instead, whenever we are experiencing trials of various kinds, we should ‘know’ that our experiences will result in perseverance, and for that reason they are joyful. Perseverance always produces a stronger faith.” And I will add that a stronger faith increases your patience. You KNOW God is working, you’ve experienced it in the past. If He came through then, He will come through now!

Wow! Joy is not a feeling but a knowing. That I can process. I do KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that no matter how hot the fire gets, God is with me. And that is reason to rejoice! I am not in it to win it, God is fighting for me every step of the way. He is stretching me and my faith continues to increase with every passing day. If I am looking, I can see glimpses of His hand on my life. I can thank Him for things He has thwarted out of my path that I didn’t even see. I can even thank Him for the trial because through it He has done a work in me that I might not have known if it weren’t for the pain.

I can even sing His praises during this stormy time because of who He is and what He has done. I think sometimes for some of us we want to blame God for not stopping what has come into our lives. Could He have? Most definitely. Did He? No. Why? That’s a risky question in my book to ask God. If God spoke to my heart and said, “Kim, I want you to expand your faith. Go ahead, do it right now.” Where would I begin? I would go into God’s Word which always increases my faith but would it really stretch me to the place He needs for me to be in order to carry out His purpose for me? Perhaps, but God knows me better than anyone else. He knows how to capture my attention. Unfortunately for me it involves some discomfort.

The other source of joy in my trials is the ensuing victory. God’s got this. We have to be open to what victory looks like to Him in our situation. It most often is not what we envisioned. But it works out perfectly, in His time, in His way. We can kick and scream and refuse to walk forward (not advisable, been there) or we can yield to the situation and turn it over to the source of joy Himself. And walk right through it, not limping, or crawling. Marching as a soldier ready for the battle. Our soldiers fight for us so that we don’t have to. So it is with your God.

I will leave you with words from the book of Nehemiah:

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Photo credit to kingofwallpapers.com

 

 

God is Good

“So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Mark 10:18

He was the man that would give you the shirt off of his back. He had a huge heart and loved to help people. He was often misunderstood because of his rough, burly, manly, Navy exterior. He was so kind and gentle underneath. Those that took the time to know him, you understand what I am saying.

It was a slow decline in health. He had warnings from the doctors. He had warnings from his body. When he finally decided to heed those warnings, it was too late for him. I knew that he was very sick but I had no idea he was dying right before my eyes. To my understanding, people could live with this for years. The doctor would not give a time frame. I am not sure if they did not know exactly or didn’t want us or him to lose hope so quickly.

I prayed. I know others did too, especially my Mom. I prayed for healing if it was in the will of God. I remember a day when my Mom and I were talking and she was very shaken. She inferred that they were a little upset with God. I have been there before, haven’t you? It wasn’t too long ago that I literally looked up and said, “Really God?” Something that I had prayed for 20 years not to happen, did.

Within 30 minutes or so God reminded me of Job. My situation was no where near his. I am not saying we should compare hardship or trials on different levels. What is devastating to me may not be to you. I was able to quickly shift to, “I cannot tell the oceans where to stop. I did not hang the stars into place and know all of their names. I cannot know what every single person and animal on this planet is doing and are thinking. Only You, God are able. You are able. Forgive my question for I trust in You.”

I reminded my Mom that day that what was happening with Dad wasn’t by any means God’s fault. He didn’t cause it, it was a choice that Dad made. Sure God could have easily reversed the illness in a swift second. But He chose not to. For reasons we cannot know this side of Heaven.

God is good friends. Bad, sometimes unbearably bad things happen on this earth. Bad does not come from God. It comes from your enemy. God is there with you walking through the trial every step of the way. When He allows things in our lives that we don’t understand, He has a purpose for it. Sometimes we experience pain now to later liberate many in chains by the same captor.

I have often said to God, “If you can help one person through my testimony, it was worth the pain.” Is it well with your soul friend? Has something so overwhelming occurred in your life that you said, “Really God?” When I said it, I didn’t realize how disrespectful that it truly was. I mean this is God we are talking about. He knows. He sees. He cares. He loves. HE IS GOOD.

Lysa TerKuerst recently said, “God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God.” My addition is God will work out something good in this situation. I may not see it right away, but I fully believe that He will. Do you? Can you? My son said last night, “I can’t ______.” I said, “You most certainly can, you don’t want to.” Sometimes letting God have the pain and the permission to be God is more difficult than trying to control it yourself. After all to some of us, control is our comfortable place.

Control is an ugly, consuming monster. I believe that something in our lives happens along the way that is so out of our control that we are helpless. Most often it happens when we don’t yet know how to depend on God to be our strength in the situation. After that occurrence, it is easy to begin to manipulate and navigate hard places so that we won’t be hurt again. That is not part of God’s plan for our lives. He alone is in control, we are definitely not. You may think that you are but God always has the final word.

In our weakness He is strong. Covered by His feathers, we find refuge under His wings. He can be trusted. He is in control. He is good. In every situation. We would do well to remember that some things that happen may be the result of our own choices. Some are due to sinful choices of others. Regardless of the whys, we know the Who. The One who is able. I hope you will turn to Him today.  Even thank Him for where you are and watch and be amazed at what He will do.

It is well with my soul. Thy will be done.

 

Note those who cause divisions…

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18 NKJV

I remember when I had just made my commitment to life change through Christ. I had volunteered to help with a benefit at our small Baptist church.

There were many women hustling and bustling about. I was trying to find my fit and where I could help. I always want to help but am fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing so I generally stand back and wait for instructions.

There was one lady there who was assuming the role of leadership that I had a problem with. My flesh wanted to tell her how wrong she was and take it over myself. But I kept quiet, until a new friend came over to me.

I immediately began to spout off about what all I thought was wrong with the situation. She lovingly but sternly looked me in the eyes and said you are trying to cause division among the brethren. Gulp.

I received the message loud and clear. My old way of speech and actions had no place in the church or anywhere else for that matter. Those few words spoken to me that day made me realize how much I was going to have to rely on Christ to make me into the person he created to begin with.

I wish I could say that was the only time I ran my mouth when I shouldn’t have after that day. But I will say that I didn’t do it with the intent of throwing somebody under the bus. Over the years I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut especially in the body of believers.

What could have happened that day is that my friend could’ve responded with the same zeal for under mining a fellow sister in Christ. This could have led to all sorts of trouble that day. But thank God for her stepping in and diffusing the situation. I welcome that in my life at anytime. That is someone who truly loves you and cares about you and more importantly loves God and seeks to serve Him in every capacity.

The second area to address is false teaching. There are so many teaching the Word, study materials, study Bibles and Bible commentaries it can overwhelm me. So what’s a girl to believe? I am a bit naive most of the time so I have been guilty to believe what I hear and read without doing the research on it myself. I publicly apologize if I have said in these posts anything contrary to how God intended for the Scripture to be interpreted.

One of our pastors was quoted as saying, “If you have a question, always go back to the Greek.” So I bought a Hebrew Greek Key Word KJV study Bible. Friends, it opened my eyes to what I believe that God is saying to me. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it.

We can’t be found guilty of believing everything that comes our way. God is at work, it’s so true. But so is your enemy. How better to thwart God’s plans than to have you believe what isn’t true about His Word? Do the research yourself. God will speak to you through it and lead you to His heart on the matter. Don’t depend on what others say, depend on what God says.

The more you immerse yourself in the original meaning of the Word, the more likely you are to recognize heresies when you are presented with them. Just a few added/extracted words or innuendos can change the whole meaning. Be on guard!

I hope this helps someone out there as much as it has me. God loves us and is all about the truth. If you have found yourself believing everything you hear, He is waiting to for you to come to Him. He wants to help you understand his heart. If you feel you are causing division or have caused it, pray and ask God to redeem what has been lost or damaged. He will guide you onto the path of righteousness. My prayers are with you as always. May grace envelop your life today.

Photo credit: skoeber / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

The Blessing

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“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

As many of us prepare to send our children off to school over the next few weeks, I pondered what I could bestow to mine other than the truck load we have gathered.  I pray for her every day but she doesn’t hear what I pray specifically. She does hear often, “I have prayed for you today.” I am so grateful whenever someone says that to me.

She doesn’t hear me implore with God about her safety, wisdom, and Godly friends. She has no idea how many times I have walked out in the driveway and put my hands on her car and prayed, mainly Psalm 91. She doesn’t know that she is in my thoughts every waking moment in her absence. She does know how much she is loved and missed. I send enough texts to let her know that! Probably too way many.

It’s so difficult for me because we have been so close. We are opposites so we get along very well. She gets me, unlike most. We talked throughout her days in high school. The only time she ever got her phone taken away was from talking to me! We talked all throughout last year. We texted a lot but face time was fun to meet new friends and help with tears from old ones.

This is her second year leaving but many firsts. First full time student on this campus. First year of her own apartment. The first time that I feel she will truly be gone from home. She wasn’t content with where she was last year so she was home most every weekend. Great for me! Not so much for her. I can’t accurately convey to you how elated I am for her right now! I think this will be such a positive change.

I have taught her how to cook and do her laundry. She knows how to iron, but I doubt that will happen! She was in a small very protected environment last year so we have talked to her about all of the dangers and the “what ifs” of life on a large campus. She knows the importance of being a part of a church body and we have spotted one on campus for her to try. She knows the power of prayer and I am confident that she will not stray from her faith. She is responsible and very capable of being successful this year.

When I think about a blessing, my mind automatically launches toward Jacob and Esau. That family blessing that had been passed down to Isaac was crucial for the future of Israel. Although Jacob deceived his father for the blessing that belonged to Esau, it was all a part of God’s divine plan. God honored Isaac’s blessing to Jacob even though it was initiated in a muddled fashion. I anticipate God to implement this blessing for my girl because He honors His Word and I feel it is also crucial for her future.

So I will send her off with this blessing. I love these verses, they are so comforting to me. How about you? Is there someone in your life that needs a blessing? How would it impact their lives? I can remember the times when others have said kind words to me and about me. I can remember the times that people have genuinely wished me well and been positive about my future. It impacted my life. I can also remember the opposite words. The ones said behind my back and to my face. Those have impacted my life as well.

What if you aren’t sending your child off for the first time alone? You can bless them for this school year, you can bless them in their marriage, you can bless them in their career, you can bless your grandchildren. Our pastor did a whole series on the blessing. Write it down, hand deliver it, read it to them. I imagine it will be a treasure kept close to them for the rest of their lives.

Give a blessing, be a blessing, and be willing to receive one. I think God is always giving but we hold our hands up and say, “Not now” to Him by our rebellious thoughts, actions and words. I wonder how many blessings that we have evaded? Please look for them live them out! God, the ultimate, supreme bestower of blessings, longs to be gracious to you.

I love you Madi. As you trust in the Lord you will find new strength. You will soar high on wings like eagles. You will run and not grow weary. You will walk and not grow faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

 

 

 

 

Speak Out! Don’t be silent!

“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him,’Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.’ So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. Acts 18:9-11

I dropped out of the news. Every time I turn it on, someone has shot someone else or other disasters are unfolding. I long for good news. Why is it rarely reported? I believe there are many good people on this planet doing good things for other people. What would happen if we would inflate those stories and air them 24 hours per day? Do you think just maybe it would encourage others to do the same? If we continually glorify these shooters and plaster their names and pictures everywhere, there will always be another one. Someone looking for that moment of fame even if it means they are dead when it airs.

Take a moment to think about this. Whose faces do you remember when you recall the horrific mass murders in our countries and around the world? I scarcely recall the victims, it’s the murderers that I see. The very ones who don’t need to be remembered. But what if friends, one person would have told those shooters about the love of God?

I think if we, as Christians, would have a louder voice, maybe these situations wouldn’t happen. Are we going and telling? One of our pastors said in service a few weeks ago that there are 29,000 lost people in a 3 mile radius around Highland Baptist Church.  3 miles. Why is this so? Our verse says to speak out and not be silent. So what keeps me silent, what keeps you silent? What are we preoccupied with, does it truly matter for eternity?

For those of you who don’t understand what “lost people” means it is simply someone who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Someone who has not been presented with the saving message of truth and grace. Someone who is trying so hard to live their life on their own but coming up short and having no real direction. Apart from Christ you are empty. Continually striving to fill that God-shaped vacuum in your heart. Stuffing it full of achievements, money, stuff and hopeless love. God is the true source of love and Jesus is our hope.

Paul was steadfast in his belief. So much so that he stayed on a full year and a half teaching the Word of God. I know that when I teach, I check my watch several times to make sure that I don’t go over my allotted time. Not so for Paul! What if we completely emptied ourselves and let the fullness of the Holy Spirit take over and teach and learn until everyone “gets it”? What if we had a fire in us that could only be quenched by sinners coming to know Jesus?

Would it impact our country? Would it impact our world? So often I have heard others say, “I am only one person, what can I do to make a difference?” I have told my class before that if you only tell one person today and that person tells 5 and those people tell 2 and one of those people tells 300 and 15 of those go and tell 500, the possibilities are endless! All because you chose to speak out to that person in the check out line, that person in the post office, that person in the church parking lot, your waiter/waitress and the list goes on and on…your own family for goodness sake.

Lysa Terkuerst recently talked about a guy she went to high school with. He was a jock, one everybody knew and loved. She classified herself as one not in the click. They met years later at a Christian conference both leaders in the faith. I will paraphrase what he said to her. He mentioned that all of the people he knew and all of the events he had been so popular in, that not one person EVER told him about Jesus. No one. Ever. There was his motivation to go and tell.

Christians, I am calling you out. The things that are happening in our country are our responsibility. If we band together with one voice and each one of us do our specific part that we have been called to, maybe some of this nonsense will subside. If I stop and ponder the state our country is in right now I cannot come up with a better word than nonsense (definition: senseless, foolish and absurd.)

I think that Christians know that Jesus is coming back but we have lost our sense of urgency about why we are here to begin with. To go and tell! To speak and not be silent! So what will you do today? Who will you tell? Just remember it was one person that preached a series of messages to Billy Graham about sin that transformed his life.  Look what happened from there…he has preached to 215 million people, not counting who he has ministered to in radio, television and written word. One person.Speak out and don’t be silent!

 

 

Close enough does not equal God’s best


Waterfall

The Lord has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for our livestock. If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us the land across the Jordan River.” Numbers 32:4-5

I was physically and emotionally drained as we made it to our destination. Our youth group hiked Catawba Falls last week.  It was not for the faint at heart. There were two places where you had to pull yourself up with a rope. I am not a seasoned hiker so it was definitely an experience for me!

Every turn and twist on the way up, I looked down. It was so far down the side of that mountain. I was praying that God would deliver us to the top but I wasn’t so sure I would make it. I am a little clumsy so I slipped and tripped and completely wiped out 5 times. If you would have had a camera on me, you probably would’ve made it to America’s Funniest Home Videos!

There is a place on the trail where you can no longer hear the water fall. I felt like we had made a wrong turn and I was frightened that we were lost. A quick text to our youth leader and I found out we were on course so we trudged forward.

You can see from the picture that I made it to the clearing and stopped. The kids went on ahead and could see the full splendor of the waterfall. I could only capture an angle of it. I decided in my mind that I was far enough, I was just fine planted where I was.

The thing is I am filled with regret now. I have seen photos of the full waterfall and they are breathtaking. Why did I stop short? Why would I not push myself to go the distance? Why did I not breathe in every moment of that trip? We were pressed for time but I would imagine most of it was fear and anxiety. Oh, for a do over.

Our verses are talking about the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh desiring to remain where they were. They wanted to build their cities on this side of the Jordan. They wouldn’t wait for God’s best and His inherent miracles that lie ahead. Instead they settled with where they were. Moses went on to call them a bunch of sinners! Ouch.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you pushed yourself to a place you felt was good enough and stopped?  You realized fully what God said to do but you made the decision to stop and not trust Him for the rest of the journey. Did that decision come with consequences? I have discovered it comes with long term ramifications. It may seem beneficial and appear favorable at the moment but doesn’t most sin? Satan does his job well in making situations appear good enough to stop short of God’s blessings. He doesn’t want you to prosper. God’s Word clearly states the opposite.

I am not sure where you are in your journey today but I can share mine. God has planted a dream in my heart and wants me to trust Him to bring it to fruition. I have traversed almost 7 months into it and am feeling that old familiar desire to retreat. I hear that voice saying, “This is far enough. Do not press on.”

But not this time satan! I won’t listen to your hisses that this doesn’t make any sense and I need to fix the problem myself. I won’t jump ship here and say this is good enough I am settling here. I will, by the grace of God keep going and waiting for His best. I hope you will too!

Max Lucado said in one of his sermons, “While we are waiting, God is working. You will get through this. It may take some time and it may be painful but you will get through this.” God’s best is completely worth the wait. He is working in you through the process.

Don’t give up! Don’t settle! Keep going! It will be so worth anything you have had to face or will face on the rest of your journey to the promised land. You may be at the place where you can’t hear the water anymore but the path ahead is clear. God is reaching out His hand to guide you forward. He is with you and for you. God is love. He won’t fail you and He will bring to pass every promise in His Word and He will fulfill the dream He placed in your heart. Keep moving onward!