Saturday, February 24, 2018

Being PLANTED and REPLANTED

My words of the day are:
PLANT -- sow, seed, place or fix into a specified position
REPLANT: To plant again in a new place

Seven years ago, this Peace Lily PLANT was given to our family for my husband’s memorial service. What a beautiful representation of “peace” that was given to us. And peace is what God gave us. I REPLANTED that PLANT into a larger pot, but it seems I need to go bigger as it’s been struggling some in the last couple of months. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle that plant is still alive at all, given my record of being “green thumbless”!!

Besides a plant being planted, PLANTED also means being stuck, fixed and unmovable. I've proven that is not me. I've found that REPLANTED can be a very thing. It’s over a year since my home in Tulsa sold (without me even trying to sell it). I knew God was setting me up to be REPLANTED in Texas near my children. I’ll admit there have been many times of discomfort during the process of the move – finding the exact “pot”, rather "home", to be REPLANTED into and getting use to all the changes in my life here in Frisco. In the directions for replanting and repotting a Peace Lilly, it says: “Don’t worry if the plant looks a little bedraggled for the first few days after replanting because slight wilting often occurs. Give the plant time to settle into its new home.” And, God was saying to me “Trust me and my timing. You may feel a little bedraggled, but you’ll see “I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

REPLANTING me from my familiar surroundings, my family and friends, my home and church in Tulsa was oftentimes bittersweet though the sweetest part is living closer to my children. Of vital importance was to find a church to call "home" here in Frisco. Oh I know that God is with me anywhere and everywhere, but having that “family” and “community” connection has been a mainstay since I made my debut on Planet Earth. Church has been where I met God, personally, and where I found friendship and fellowship and solace during challenging times and where I found my greatest expression of worship and praise to my God.

My search for that church “pot” to be replanted in took months because I was looking for “a feeling” of home like my wonderful home church in Tulsa – smaller where you get to know everyone and everyone knows your name. That just reminded me of the CHEERS theme song. LOL! Then it occurred to me “Select one then, dive in. Get involved. If you want friends, show yourself friendly.” I did. A 39,000+ member church. WHAT??? How can I experience “family” in a church that large. “That POT is just too big to be REPLANTED in” is what I thought.

I found and signed a contract on my home on February 21, 2017 – one year ago, I settled on my new church, St. Francis of Assisi in July – seven months ago. This post was inspired by my being a Greeter/Welcomer at my church this week when we were having a 3-day Lenten Mission. As people came in the door, many said “Hi, Donna!” and hugged me or I would recognize them and welcomed them to the service. Other greeters with me who had been part of the church for years said “Donna, you sure know a lot of people for being here such a short period of time!” When they said that, I had an “aha” moment. God’s words to me had come to pass. You see I did get involved. I became a sponsor to a young woman in our church’s discipleship program (RCIA), I became a greeter, I attended a women’s ACTS Retreat and met 80 women who will be lifelong friends to me and now I’m serving on the Spring ACTS Retreat Team. I am a Eucharistic Minister, serving communion, and attend Bible Studies. I have a church community and family that I love now.

Yesterday morning the inspiration for this post came to me and I looked up on my wall across from my bed and read the words from the Bible and penned by my daughter, “Oh Lord, bless me indeed and ENLARGE MY TERRITORY (He sure did!). Let your hand be with me and keep me from evil so I will be free from pain.” 1 Chronicles 4:10.

Yes, big changes in our lives can oftentimes be uncomfortable and downright painful, but when we realize that our times of REPLANTING and REPOTTING are the ways to stretch us to take us to the next level of maturity and growth. Maybe you’re being stretched today. Maybe your “pot” is too small to hold the expectations that God has for you and you need to be REPLANTED. Trust Him and do your part to open up to new horizons, new opportunities and new friends that God wants you to love, encourage and support.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hearing God’s Voice is a Hot Topic

Wikipedia defines GOD’S VOICE as: The voice of God, in Judaism and Christianity, is a "heavenly or divine voice which proclaims God's will or judgment."

No doubt, by now, I'm sure you’ve heard “The View’s” co-host Joy Behar’s inconceivable words about Vice President Mike Pence’s faith. “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… that’s called mental illness … hearing voices,” she said. I was motivated to write this post because Joy Behar got it all wrong, because, apparently, she doesn’t know or recognize God’s voice.

Apparently, Behar's mocking of Christianity as a mental illness alarmed other Christians as well. Over 25,000 people had called ABC by early Monday morning to complain about that “The View” segment.

When she said those words, she displayed her lack of knowledge about the God I know AND have heard daily. In fact, He's my foreign AND domestic correspondent that gives me advice for my daily blogs and FB posts. In my daily walk with God, He tells me all kinds of stuff. No, a mighty voice does not boom down from on high. His voice is subtle -- almost imperceptible -- and I can't hear it unless I'm really listening. Sometimes the voice comes as a gut feeling -- other times I may read and hear His voice in scripture. I may encounter a solution to a dilemma by a billboard or something a friend says. His voice comes to everyone who seeks His counsel. The voice of God can even be heard in times of challenges. If we don't get something that we really want, maybe God's trying to tell us why and that He has something better in mind for us. Maybe we'd better listen. If we stop to listen to God, those who ask His counsel -- those who really want to know -- will receive messages and advice from the Creator. Those who will not listen, will hear nothing -- at least, nothing from God. But if we are hearing God, we can implement His recommendations with confidence. It will be the best advice we'll ever get.

"Can you hear me?" Those are words that I know our Heavenly Father must say to us time and time again, but we're so caught up in the "noise" going on in our lives -- the TV, cell phone, radio, computer, social media, overburdened with to do's, and thinking about everything except for tuning in to the Master Speaker frequency in our lives. How often God must say to me, "Donna, do you hear Me?" And, my mind is everywhere except for keeping my ears open to His voice.

Like our kids, many times we do hear, but we're just not obeying. In fact, we may be as guilty as our kids are when we've told them time and time again to do something.....and they totally act like they never heard us. And, so often, the things we say to our children are the very things God wants us, His children,to hear:
“Be still.” “I’m the parent and you're the child -- that's why!" “If you'd paid attention to me, you would have avoided that mess.” “Trust Me. I know what's best for you.”

I have some really good news for Joy Behar, the media and for us.....we CAN hear God's voice, if we listen. The Bible, God's love letter to mankind, makes it clear that we were created to have two-way communication with Him. Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

I pray for you and I today: "Dear God, help us to listen carefully to what You have to say to us. Please help us to be first-timers -- first responders to YOUR voice. Amid all the craziness of this big world and the busyness in our own little worlds, may we tune in to YOUR frequency, your voice -- whether it's your still, small voice or your obvious loud and clear voice -- not eventually, but immediately! Thank you for your patience as our loving Father! Amen.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Legacy of Billy Graham

These were some of the headlines of news releases yesterday: From U.S. News: “Billy Graham, America's pastor, has died”; From CNN: “Billy Graham, whose 'matchless voice changed the lives of millions,' dies at 99; NBC News: “Billy Graham, evangelist, pastor and counselor to presidents, dead at age 99”.

No words of defamation. No words of scandal. No words of scorn. Only words of character, honor, dignity and integrity about a true servant of God who had the biggest heart for winning people to Christ. He redefined American life by popularizing Christianity's core message — Christ died for your sins — downplaying denominational details and proclaiming the joys found in faith.

The accolades inspired me to write this post today. Only God knows the number of souls that came into a relationship with Jesus of Billy Graham's life and message. My earliest memories of Billy Graham were of hearing his message of placing our lives in the hands of God, and then the song "Just As I Am" would be sung by the massive choir, and there would be droves of people who went forward to receive Christ as their Savior.

Two years ago, I was walking through the halls of Northwestern University, St. Paul, MN, while at the NCFCA National Speech & Debate Competition with my grandchildren. I passed this portrait of Billy Graham many times. I knew I needed to take a photo of it. His portrait is 2nd in line of all the other presidents. In 1947, at age 30, Billy Graham became the 2nd president there, and at the time, was the youngest person to serve as a sitting president of any U.S. college or university. He served as president from 1948 to 1952 when he resigned to become a full-time minister.

I thought about his legacy, the seeds he planted in the future generations there, and how that legacy laid the foundation of "seed time and harvest" of his future. While Billy has crossed his finish line, those young people in that university and the rest of us who were impacted by his ministry, will continue to plant seeds that will influence others for Christ. Surely this scripture applies: "Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit." John 12:24.

Billy Graham's heart for reaching out to the masses with the love of Jesus could not be confined to a university. He carried it to the world and millions came to know Christ because of his message. No doubt, the heavenly choirs were assembled and the bands were already tuning up for Billy’s grand entrance into heaven. Hearing about his passing and remembering those halls of Northwestern University, has increased my own desire to live with a determined purpose to know Christ more and to share His love passionately.

A General of Faith went home yesterday, but we’re still here to pick up the baton he left for us to run with. That baton in our hands is the same baton Christ gave us and it is to continue to spread the Good News, sow into this generation encouragement and help steer them to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then we, too, will not only impact this generation, but the generations to come.

With all the scandalous stories of high profile individuals that seem to come down the pipe daily, it gives me such appreciation for someone (anyone) who stays the course of faithfulness to God and family, who lives what he preaches, and who lives with passion of taking as many souls with him to heaven as possible.

In his autobiography, Just As I Am, he wrote, "If anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God's doing, not mine, and He-not I-must get the credit." Along with God's words to Billy when he entered the pearly gates, I'm joining in with mine, too! "Well done, good and faithful servant, Billy Graham. Thank you, God, for giving us a true and faithful role model to follow." RIP, Billy Graham.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maestro! May My Eyes and Heart Be on You!

Maestro definition: Master Conductor, expert, genius, prodigy, pro, virtuoso, a great or distinguished figure in any sphere.

I’m sure you’ve been there when an orchestra is tuning up before their concert. All of those musicians are doing their own thing to check out their instrument – to be sure it’s in tune. Those players are not in sync or in harmony. How could anything beautiful come from what sounds so disharmonious and chaotic. But, in a matter of minutes, it is like a switch was flipped and the Maestro appears. He tap, tap taps his baton and, voila, the chaos turns into the most melodic, rhythmic, harmonious, sweet sounding and beautiful music. The appearance of the Maestro changed everything. Every eye and ear of the orchestra was set on their Maestro, and he guided them through a symphony of delight to all who were captured by the richness of their symphony.

If there were no Maestro, the musicians would continue to be doing their own thing that continued to result in an abundance of NOISE. Isn’t that similar to our world today? So much noise of anger, animosity, dissension and voices of “know it alls” – so much criticism of this and that in our world with CHAOS abounding.

On Ash Wednesday, last week – the day when many Christians went to church to focus on their MAESTRO and it was also the day when yet another tragic shooting took place in a Florida school. The perpetrator’s maestro was not God but the enemy of his soul. The reaction by the NOISY masses was “We need gun control. We need more mental illness awareness.” In the meantime, the ONE – the MAESTRO – our Creator – had been terminated from schools. Our MAESTRO was no longer welcomed in prayer or any other acknowledgement of Him. I can’t help but believe if God were still allowed in our schools, it would be very different today.

My point today is welcoming our MAESTRO to lead again because when He is leading – a spectacular symphony is heard. And in similar ways, our lives create a beautiful symphony of harmony and melodic music when we depend, rely, and fully follow the direction of our Maestro – our Master Conductor. There may be chaos, disharmony and disagreement on so many levels around us, but if OUR eyes and OUR ears are fixed on the peace, joy, and harmony that God represents in our lives and when we follow His lead, He will turn the chaos and disharmony of our life into a beautiful symphony of peace. That music will be a sweet, sweet sound in His ears and in the ears of those in our life. I think of the prayer of St. Francis as I type this post, "Lord, make me an "instrument" of your peace!" May peace be the song in our heart, in our mind, and in our mouth as we follow our Maestro's lead.

I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship You, oh my soul, rejoice!
Take joy my King in what You hear.
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.

Psalm 57:7 "My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Please, God! Take This Baggage!

BAGGAGE: past experiences that are regarded as burdens, cares and weights (i.e., emotional baggage).

I made it home from Tulsa in time to quickly change clothes and head to my church for our annual 3-night Lenten Mission where we intentionally set aside the time to dive deeper and lean in closer to God. It’s about going to a place of introspection and renewing our hearts to purposely enter into a deeper relationship with our Lord. It’s as though we’re at the doctor’s office and he’s using his stethoscope to check our heart beat and condition. Then he gives us the “prescription” for healing our heart.

Last night’s message focus was on our relationship with Jesus Christ who is our Face of Freedom. He sets us FREE which implies that we have been BOUND by stuff. We’ve become stuck in our issues and clutter and all that BAGGAGE in our lives. Jesus gets us because He came to earth to be one of us and experienced what we experience. Hebrews 4:15 “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned.” We experience temptation, rejection, betrayal, disappointment, discouragement AND, so did Jesus. Jesus came to give us freedom. Freedom from anything that holds us bound: bad attitudes, addictions, fears, guilt, despair unforgiveness, anxiety, worry. All of that “stuff” is BAGGAGE that Jesus came to free us from. It’s time to ask God to free us of baggage that our soul cannot afford to lug around anymore. Jesus came to give us abundant life but we can’t live in that abundance as long as we don’t let go of the stuff.

Once we are willing to let go of all that BAGGAGE that we’ve carried far too long, Jesus will free us of the weight of so much baggage. We did that in a symbolic way last night as we wrote on an index card the names of the BAGGAGE that was weighing us down and then, where four tall crosses were at the front of the sanctuary with a basket beside them, we processed forward and gave those cards that contained our “BAGGAGE” to Jesus -- once and for all. All that “baggage” will be burned so there's no need to ever take it back on.

Now that we’re free of all the stuff – we can be FREE to give our full attention to Jesus – to make Him the Savior and Lord of our life. This question was asked “Where is God in your life on a scale? Is He #1 or #3 or #8? When we were dating our wife or husband, we couldn’t think about anything or anyone except them. We couldn’t help ourselves. We thought about them and even talked about them incessantly. That’s how our relationship with Jesus should be. What if we incessantly thought about Him, talked about Him and talked to Him, the more in love with Him we will become. When we’re that much in love with the Lover of our Souls – the cares of this world (the BAGGAGE) will no longer weigh us down and have us bound. I’m ready for that FREEDOM. How about you?

Monday, February 19, 2018

YES -- Count Me In!

Yesterday I received an email asking me to be a "welcomer" at a 3-day Mission at my church this week. I'll admit I had thoughts of saying "No", because it meant I had to be at church an hour early each night and because I would just have returned home from Tulsa and, and, and (What other excuses could I think of?), but then I remembered what a YES means. I responded to that email: "YES. Count me in!"

My word for today is YES: an affirmative response; absolutely, agreed, okay, okey-dokey, absolutely, indeed, affirmative

There were many times when I was reluctant to say “Yes” to something or someone for fear it may cost me way too much in time, commitment, energy and strength. Maybe you’re right there, right now. Are you struggling with a “yes”? I was. I was just a youngster when my church’s youth choir leader asked me to sing a solo. With trepidation, I struggled with the response, but I said “yes”. When I was a little older and attending my future father-in-law’s church where he was the pastor, he asked me to play the piano for the worship service. Still I struggled with that “yes”, but, afraid, I said “yes” and I played on for years. My future mother-in-law asked me to play the lead role in a Christmas play as well as to play the piano for the church's worship service. My YES in those "younger years" took me out of my comfort zone.

The President at First City Bank on OK City urged me to get my securities brokers license so I could be a branch manager at a new branch that was being built. And another employer asked me to be the Assistant Director in Communications at the University of Manitoba. And my husband pushed me to get my airplane pilot's license, as well as my Real Estate Broker’s license. To every one of those “asks”, eventually, and sometimes, with apprehension and nerves peaking the highest levels possible, I did say “YES” and every time, I became more confident, more determined, more courageous, more accomplished, and more victorious over my anxieties and fears.

God wouldn’t have held a “NO” against me, but that “NO” would have continued to create inferiority and regret within me. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all God’s promises are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Christ we can say “Amen,” to the glory of God.“ Of course this verse is talking about our YES to those times when we are challenged in our faith. God looks at us to take that step of faith because he knows that we know we can accomplish ALL THINGS, through Christ Who strengthens us.” Philippians 4:13.

YES, it depends on the question being asked. A “no” to some questions is needed, but to those questions that stretch our faith and confidence, we should be bold enough to say “YES”. God is looking at us to take that step of faith. What does saying “Yes” look like for you. Maybe, it’s “Yes, I’ll forgive.” “Yes, I’ll trust you.” “Yes, I’ll share God’s love with others.” “Yes, I’ll volunteer for that charity.” “Yes, I’ll join that Bible study group.” “Yes, I’ll lead that Mom’s Group.” “Yes, God, I’ll open my eyes to your supernatural doors of opportunity today.”

Hebrews 10:23 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” People and time and fear and nerves will keep us from our YES. It’s not our ability, but God’s ability in us that gives us the boldness and the courage to say YES!

Think about the YES of Noah. His family was spared. What about the YES of Mary, the Mother of Jesus? Her YES, her unwavering faith and her cooperation with the Holy Spirit, gave us the Messiah. Just think about what your “Yes” could produce!

I'll say yes, Lord, yes, to your will and to your way.
I'll say yes, Lord, yes. I will trust you and obey.
When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree,
And my answer will be YES, Lord, YES!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Regaining Focus in a World of Distractions

My word for today is DISTRACTION: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something or someone else; interruption, disturbance, interference, hindrance

This post today is longer than my "usual" long post (yikes!) but this message impacted me so much I just had to pass it on -- almost verbatim. My pastor started his message with these words from an anonymous author, but worthy of acclaim because of its significance to us and our world today:

“Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his demons, he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from biblical values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, continual experience with Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their Christian lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain experience with Jesus Christ."

"How shall we do this?" his demons shouted. "Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!"

"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or CD player whenever they drive. To keep their cell phones, TVs and their computers going constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their emails and mailboxes with junk mail, advertisements, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes."

"Give them Santa Claus to distract them from teaching their children the real meaning of Christmas. Give them an Easter bunny so they won't talk about his resurrection and power over sin and death. Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted. Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God's creation. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy!"

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences. Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!"

"It was quite a plan! The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there, having little time for their God or their families and friends. Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives. The question is, has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge!"

Pastor Rudy went on: “In today’s readings, we saw that Jesus was busy casting out spirits, then He went to Peter’s home to heal His mother-in-law, and then He met the crowds. It was a busy day. The next morning, He went to a solitary place to pray. It must have been away because the disciples told Him that the people were looking for Him. Then He traveled through Galilee. You always see Jesus drawing away from the crowd to go and pray; to wait on the Lord, to develop His relationship with His Father. Do we remember why Jesus was here in the first place? Do we remember where there is fuel for our daily tasks? He is God who gives strength to the weak. He will renew their strength. Why did Jesus go to the synagogue every week? Why did He go to quiet places to pray? Why did He withdraw from the disciples? Because that is what helped Him keep on track and to receive His strength."

Then, Pastor Rudy referred to men in our church who went on a three-day retreat to get away from DISTRACTIONS so they could focus on God. He went on…..”Why did 35 retreatants sacrifice time away from their family and 34 team members spend months preparing for this retreat? Why are we so committed to ACTS (the retreat name) at this church? Because if we get this right, then we will be better men, husbands, fathers. These men got it right. They are heroes to their families and to us. They followed the example of Christ to get away from the DISTRACTIONS to renew with God.

Following that message, he went on to say, “Now. I want to talk to you about these men who went away on the ACTS Retreat this weekend. They went away to be with their band of brothers to spend time with Christ – to draw closer in their relationship with Him. These men are heroes to their family and to us. They followed the example of Jesus because after Jesus had ministered and prayed for the sick and fed the multitudes and raised the dead, you will find in scripture that He needed to get away to pray. The priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere in the Gospels. It’s how He began his ministry. It’s how He made important decisions. It’s how He dealt with troubling emotions like grief. It’s how He dealt with the constant demands of his ministry and cared for his soul. It’s how He taught His disciples. It’s how He prepared for important ministry events. It’s how He prepared for His death on the cross. Jesus’ solitude is how He went deeper in His love-relationship with God. Our men, this weekend, followed Jesus’ lead. Won’t you follow as well?"

At the end of that message, the entire congregation applauded the message and our heroes AND God, who is speaking to us all about DISTRACTIONS that are robbing us of what's the most important ATTRACTIONS -- our families, our friends, our own physical well being AND our God. As my pastor said, "It's time to get it right!"

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Absolutely BREATHTAKING

Breathtaking: beautiful, awesome, amazing, astonishing, heart-stirring, magnificent, thrilling, awe inspiring

When it came to traveling, my husband and I lived with no regrets. In our younger years, when our budget could only afford weekend trips to nearby places and lakes, we thoroughly enjoyed time away with our children and we embraced God’s creation in the sweetest ways.

On our 25th wedding anniversary, we took on a new fervor for traveling to foreign and distant lands. One of our “must do’s” at every place we went was to visit cathedrals (in these photos are The Berlin Cathedral in Germany, Notre Dame in Paris and Cathedral of Milan, Italy). I continue to make that a priority today. BREATHTAKING are those cathedrals as they soar toward the heavens. My breath was always taken away at the architecture, and symbolism found in those buildings that presented us with an overwhelming experience of wonder and magnificence. We were captured by the those early master craftsmen and artists who, by hand, created such majestic monuments to God.

Those structures were built to reflect God’s all-surpassing splendor, but I wonder how we could possibly recapture in our hearts that BREATHTAKING feeling of God’s grandeur and be reminded again of His majesty. My blog, yesterday, was about being heavenly minded. We can’t be heavenly minded without acknowledging the ONE Who made the heavens and the earth.

Just think about the greatness of what God has created. All we have to do is to take one look at a starry night sky and think of God’s power as He spoke the universe into existence. I remember the snow-covered mountains of Alaska and the majestic Pacific Ocean that was teeming with millions of God's creatures and I imagine the power that holds this earth and all its wonders together. I remember the BREATHTAKING moment when I held my newborn babies and grandbabies in my arms and I thanked God for the miracle of life itself.

Man isn’t wrong to reach for the sky with those BREATHTAKING structures that are intended to point us to God. But our truest BREATHTAKING moments should be reserved for God Himself as we say to Him, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Lord, You do take our breath away with Your greatness. Thank You for reminding us of Your grandeur in Your world and in Your Word.

Friday, February 16, 2018

So Heavenly Minded, No Earthly Good

Clever and catchy cliché, isn’t it?
Heavenly Minded: Having the thoughts and affections on heaven and heavenly things, devout, holy, godly

I confess I said “She’s so heavenly minded, she’s no earthly good” about this super pious Bible college student who stayed in her apartment, fasted and prayed, and studied the Bible all day. At the same time, she hadn’t paid her rent or college fees because she didn’t work to earn an income. She expected God to provide for her since she was devoting her time and life to Him. Whether she was right or wrong in her thinking, how shameful of me to have judged her.

I stand corrected because it occurred to me that this quote may be more accurate than not. In fact, I wish that it were said of me in this way “She’s so heavenly minded, she’s SO GOOD on earth.” Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth."

When we get ready to go on a vacation, our minds are fixed on where we're going. We count the days. We plan our wardrobe. We calculate the cost and plan the timing. We fine-tune everything at home for being away a period of time. We ask someone to take in our mail and to watch over things while we’re away, and we look forward, with great anticipation to the great time we'll have once we get to our vacation site!

Contrary to popular opinion, being heavenly minded really does inspire us to be more earthly good. So, our goal as Christians should be on planning our one-way trip to heaven, and also to love and faithfully serve the Lord on this side of heaven. C.S. Lewis offered these quotes about heaven:
~ “It’s not that we think about heaven too much, we think about it too little!”
~ “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
~ “The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply, is proof that Heaven must be our home.”

Maybe that little Bible College student needed to be a little more balanced in her desire to please God, but I can’t say those words anymore “So heavenly minded, no earthly good”. Being heavenly-minded, changes our perspective about everything. The fact is one day our heart will stop beating. That will be the end of our body and our time on earth, but it will not be the end of US. Our earthly body is just a temporary residence for our spirit.

In Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose-Driven Life", he says this about heaven: "When we fully comprehend that there is more to life than just here and now, and we realize that life is just preparation for eternity, we will begin to live differently.. We will start living in the light of eternity and that will color how we handle every relationship, task and circumstance. Suddenly many activities, goals and even problems that seemed so important will appear trivial, petty and unworthy of our attention. The closer we live to God, the smaller everything else appears. When we live in light of eternity, our values change. We use our time and money more wisely. We place a higher premium on relationships and character instead of fame or wealth or achievements or even fun. Our priorities are reordered. Keeping up with trends, fashions and popular values just doesn’t matter as much anymore."

God has a purpose for our life on this earth, but it doesn’t end here. His plan involves far more than the few decades we will spend on this planet. I’m thinking – I want others to say that about me…..”She’s so heavenly minded – she is earthly AND heavenly good!” How about you?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Clean Up Time -- Getting Out the LINT Roller!

Clean Up Time -- Getting Out the LINT Roller!
I, accidentally, threw a towel into my wash with my black slacks. Oops! Lint – those little fibers from that towel got all over those pants. I proceeded to pull out my trusty, sticky lint remover roller and I got all those tiny balls of lint off of them.

My word for today is LENT (not LINT). Often we hear the word "Lent" and we think "lint”. Actually, “Lent” and “lint” sort of mean the same thing. It’s taking the time to "come clean" -- to rid ourselves of the funk and junk that has settled in our hearts.You better believe if I knew Jesus was coming to my house today, I'd make sure it was "spic and span"! And, He does make His residence in us, so shouldn't we be sure that our hearts and minds are "swept clean" for His place of residence?

Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually, Easter comes, it is not just another day at church, but an opportunity to receive the overflowing graces God has to offer. Lent gives us the opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the cross -- and it wasn't pretty, and it’s about a laser focus on Christ’s resurrection.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday (the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day fell on February 14th). Ash Wednesday was a call out to us for amping up our LOVE LIFE with Christ and Valentine's Day was a call out to us for amping up our LOVE LIFE with others. Lent continues on for 40 days (symbolic to the 40 days Jesus was in the wilderness) through Holy Thursday just before Easter. It's the time of intentional laser focus on HIM -- about HIS love for us. It's about heart change -- from "It's all about me" to "It's all about YOU, God!" “We stand honestly before God and say, ‘You are God and I am not."

Typically, our thoughts are more on what our next meal will be, or the next TV show to watch, or the next assignment we'll be on to, or the plans for the weekend or the next trip or vacation we'll take. Many times, we simply go about our routines without really ever giving God a second thought. So, what if, for the next 40 days, we were able to be less distracted from our relationship with Him by making a few changes to our routine -- taking bites of time to dig deeper, pray more, be kinder to those around us, maybe take a walk to bask in God and His creation -- just to get closer to Him in our thoughts and actions.

Perhaps as we acknowledge the little things that sometimes distract us from God, we could become more aware of the weight of His sacrifice for us. Then this Easter will be a REAL resurrection to celebrate -- the resurrection from our OLD selves to our NEW selves in Him. Indeed "It's all about You -- not me, Lord!"

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day, Old AND Young Lovers!

My word for today is "Valentine’s Day" – a day that St. Valentine gave his life for; recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance around the world

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year because it holds one of my most precious memories. On this day, the cutest dark haired 13-year old boy named Ronnie (aka Ron) Wuerch and me, the lankiest, 12-year old girl had our very first “official” date (chauffeured by Ronnie’s dad) to a Valentine’s Banquet at my church. The photo here is that day – when Ronnie had to stand on the step above me – because I was taller than him. Oh, how I remember the butterflies in my stomach, the sweaty palms, and the pride I had in showing off my “boy friend” to my friends. At thirteen, Ronnie was already an accomplished pianist with an amazing voice. He played the piano and sang at the banquet. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world when my girl friends said, “He sings and looks just like Frankie Avalon!”

It was a complete set-up by my grandmother – of all people. She invited my family to their church where Ronnie’s dad was the pastor. Right from the start, that cute boy kept looking and smiling at me….and I smiled back. A few days later, Grandma called me: “Ronnie Wuerch says he likes you.” And, I replied, “Tell him I like him, too!” And that’s the way we began. Early on, my grandmother and our mothers knew (you know – that woman’s intuition), that we were meant to be. And we were.

This day is about lovers and I like to give credit where credit is due. This is the story of St. Valentine's Day. Valentine was a Christian priest who lived near Rome during the time of Emperor Claudius II, a sworn enemy of the faith. In the beginning, Valentine had won the emperor’s admiration, but lost it – and his life – by trying to convert Claudius to the faith. On February 14th, 278, the emperor was so outraged by Valentine’s unwanted evangelism AND because Valentine was secretly marrying Christian couples against His edict that he had Valentine tortured and beheaded. It is said that just before Valentine was led away to his execution, he wrote a note to the blind daughter of his jailer, whose vision was restored after he prayed for her. According to legend, he signed his note, “from your Valentine.” Hence, the tradition of sending Valentine cards.

I wonder what St. Valentine would make of this day of celebrating love. Would he laugh hilariously at all the chocolate, flowers, hearts and expressions of affection that lovers share, or would he cry at all the expense without a true increase in genuine love -- especially when it would be so beautiful if this day would really increase our love for each other.

Perhaps he would appreciate it all and maybe he would express his feelings by quoting St. Paul, whose wisdom he revered: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

Thank you, St. Valentine's for reminding us, ABOVE ALL -- to LOVE. I am celebrating love with all of you lovers out there on this beautiful Valentine's Day. I urge you to live in the moments God has given you. Treasure your moments together. Please don’t take those moments for granted.

And for all of you.....can I gently remind you of an important truth? A truth that makes all the difference to me? If we are God’s children, we are involved in the greatest love story ever created. God created us, knows us inside and out, and loves us from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes. We can celebrate love this year just like everyone else, knowing that we have a deeper understanding than anything that’s advertised or on the shelves in a store. GOD LOVES US!

Happy St. Valentine's Day to all my FB friends! God loves you so much AND so do I.......<3 <3 <3


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I'm Making My Declaration of DEPENDENCE

DEPENDENCE: depending on or relying on others for support
INDEPENDENCE: not depending on or relying on others

We live in a culture that teaches us that it is possible, and in fact preferable to be “INDEPENDENT”… free from responsibility, accountability, and from moral and Godly values. A Declaration of Dependence makes an inspired biblical-based case that the opposite is true. Today I'm making my own definitive declaration that I am in fact “DEPENDENT” on God for everything of real value…my personal, material, physical, and spiritual well being.

We start with dependency on our parents for our daily needs. But, deep inside is that “independent” spirit that starts to demand its own way. Just watch a two-year old be possessive of his stuff and say “MINE” or they pull their hand out of our grasp because they want to be INDEPENDENT of our hold on them. Where do they learn that? Surely, we parents don’t act that way or do we?

As we continue to mature, we become more independent. I grew up dependent on my parents and then on my husband and when he graduated to heaven, I became INDEPENDENT. I only had me to take care of me now. My survival instincts kicked in, with a “CAN DO” mentality. Some of my friends are in awe as I drive alone for hours to get to my next destination. My friend called me a few days ago and I was getting my car serviced for my next trip. She said, “Oh, my husband is doing that right now, too.” I laughed and said, “See, if my husband were still here, he’d be doing this for me too. Welcome to my world!"

I like to pay my own way, live in my own home, make my own decisions, rely on no outside help. And, I’ve learned that if I face an unexpected DIY challenge, I just go to my dear friend, Mr. Google, and I get all the help I need from him. Believe me, he is very worthy of my praise. I can’t begin to tell you how many challenges he has helped me solve.

INDEPENDENCE is a blessing when it comes to domination from another country (i.e. the reason for our Country's Declaration of INDEPENDENCE). But when our Country AND we start to be INDEPENDENT of God and our trust in Him, then "Hello, Trouble!" It is trouble and struggle when my heart’s attitude is “I can do ALL things through ME who can do anything on my own” instead of the attitude that is most desirable to God, “I can do all things through CHRIST Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13). He wants us to be DEPENDENT on His all sufficiency. It’s what Jesus told His disciples: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The fact is, we should never outgrow our dependence and our trust in God, and daily we should be making our Declaration of Dependence on Him Who made us and holds us in the palms of His mighty hands.

I often feel closest to God during times of weakness because I come to depend on Him more. I have a yearning in my heart for Him to transform every nook and cranny of my life. I want Him to be my all-consuming thought, desire and passion. Isaiah 30:15 says “This is what the Almighty LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting Me.”

Maybe someone reading this today is in a world of confusion and you want to independently take care of the challenges you face. Then this post is for you. Maybe you're feeling physically and mentality spent -- completely exhausted. Could THIS message be heaven-sent to you today? Could God be urging you to STOP for just a while to declare "In God I Trust" and DEPEND on Him?

Let's make our Declaration of DEPENDENCE on God and His wisdom for our lives. I'm convinced that grabbing hold of His mighty hand and DEPENDING on Him, will lead us where we need to go and what we need to do. He's our good, good Father and surely, Father knows best!

Monday, February 12, 2018

And, SUDDENLY……

My word for today is SUDDLENLY: quickly and unexpectedly, immediately, instantly, without warning

Meet Red Gerard. Talk about SUDDENLY!!! On Saturday, 17-year old snowboarder, Red Gerard, from Colorado was sitting in last place heading into his third and final run. He was hoping to just get a good run and 4th place. But when the pressure was on, he delivered. During his run, Gerard's creativity was on full display, as he repeatedly used features of the course that other riders were ignoring. Red scored 87.16 from the judges, putting him in first place. The top competitors failed to exceed Red’s scores. Red received the first gold medal awarded to the U.S. team at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics AND he was the youngest snowboarder to ever win a gold medal and the youngest male athlete to win a Gold Medal since 1928 in a Winter Olympics. SUDDENLY Red's life changed forever.

I remember another SUDDENLY. Small town of Checotah, OK and the small town girl raised on a farm there -- Carrie Underwood, who just decided to try out for American Idol. Out of all those competitors she won the grand prize and SUDDENLY her life changed forever. We still love to follow her because she represents the SUDDENLIES that can happen to any who are willing to pay the price of going for their dreams.

How do we deal with the SUDDENLIES in our lives? SUDDEN illness, SUDDEN financial loss. Sudden wealth. Sudden fame.

Last week I was at a very prayerful night with others, when all of a sudden, I heard a gal who was looking at her phone exclaim “Oh, my God, NO! The stock market has crashed!” SUDDENLY, her world turned upside down, at least for that time being.

Now, let’s consider our God – Who is a God of surprises AND SUDDENLIES. And because He is God – he usually doesn't work the way we want or think. But this one thing I’ve come to know – His SUDDENLIES, for those who are His devoted followers, are filled with His power, His grace, His mercy, His love AND have learned to wait for His perfect timing. God's SUDDENLIES happen with our best interests at heart.

God always operates in a place above what we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). That’s because His thoughts and ways are so much higher above ours (Isaiah 55:8).

Just when we think we're boxed in on every side, God SUDDENLY provides a way of escape. Just when the last penny is spent, God SUDDENLY surprises us with a bonus. Just when we thought we were going down for the last time, God SUDDENLY shows up in a boat or helicopter. The lesson? Three words. DON’T GIVE UP!

Is the road long? Is the night too black? Are you in last place? Don't stop. God is watching. For all you know -- right at this moment -- the check may be in the mail. Opportunity could be knocking at your door -- right now! The SUDDENLIES in our lives can bless us – whether they are overwhelmingly disappointing or overwhelmingly over-abundant blessings. The point is – embrace the SUDDENLIES. They are part of the MASTER Plan of God to get us from Point A to Point Z. Don't quit. For if you do, you may miss the answer you've been waiting for!! Expect surprises. Expect SUDDENLIES!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bourne Identity and Born Identity

Bourne Identity and Born Identity
If you were a fan of the "Bourne Identity" action spy thriller movie, you’ll remember that Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon), was a man suffering from extreme memory loss and spent his life trying to figure out who he was.

My word for today is IDENTITY: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is; name, identification, recognition

Jason Bourne was the opposite of who Jesus Christ was on this earth. Jesus was secure in His IDENTITY. God made sure of that when John baptized Him in the River Jordan and the windows of heaven opened and God’s booming voice declared “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) How’s that for the OPENING CEREMONY (thinking about the Olympics Opening Ceremony) of Jesus’ public ministry. That is where His IDENTITY became proclaimed throughout the earth. After that, He didn’t need His ego stroked. Nothing could budge Him from His place of IDENTITY. We know He knew His mission and nothing was going to derail Him from God’s plan for His life because He knew who He was in God.

And then there are us. We are born with an IDENTITY crisis – similar to Jason Bourne’s IDENTITY crisis. We are insecure in who we are, how smart we are and what others think about us. We compare ourselves to one another. We aren’t satisfied with this or that about ourselves and we want to be like someone else instead of BEING the human BEING that God made US to be. We have a “Born” IDENTITY crisis.

But here’s the extraordinary, over-the-top news flash for us. We are sons and daughters of Almighty God. Remember Satan trying to tempt Jesus with an IDENTITY crisis when Jesus went to the Mount of Temptation? Satan said, “If YOU ARE the Son of God (there’s the doubt he’s trying to create in Jesus), then throw yourself from this temple…..” Matthew 4:5. Jesus didn’t buy into those tactics. He always responded with “It is written…..” And neither should we buy into the enemy’s tactics. Satan tries to undermind our IDENTITY with “How come you did that? That was stupid. Your IDENTITY is LOSER! You failed again. No one loves you. You are a wimp. You will never succeed.” If we listen to those lies, then he can derail our IDENTITY. Criticism, embarrassment, rejection and wrong attitudes can knock us off our secure position of who we are in Christ. But, like Christ, if we respond with “It is written…..” then we too will overcome his ploys to give us an IDENTITY crisis. FYI – we better learn God’s Word so we CAN respond with “It is written……” I love the end of that encounter of Satan trying to put an IDENTITY crisis on Jesus and Jesus always responding with God’s Word back to Satan because Matthew 4:11 says “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” That is God’s loving promise to us as well.

God approves of us. We have power, we have heaven backing us up and we have everything we need to walk as a light in darkness. The time is now to start walking in our true IDENTITY and amplify what God has placed within us. Our BORN IDENTITY is a child of the most High God, a member of the Royal Family and we can sit at the Banquet Table anytime we want to. His banner over us is LOVE……and don’t you forget that for one minute.

1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.”

In the words of Matthew West’s “Hello, My Name Is”, this is who you are:
“Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
Amazing grace is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true king."

So, HELLO, my sister or brother, my name, your name and our IDENTITY is child of the one king I’d say “We are royalty!”

Please watch listen to Matthew West and Jordan's Story. I promise you'll be blessed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8OjyWQhaj0


Saturday, February 10, 2018

EVERLASTING is a Long, Long Time

My post today was inspired by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s 8-hour “Dreamer” speech which set a new House record….by quite a lot. She crushed the previous House record speech of 5 hours, 15 minutes. This post isn’t to suggest that her speech seemed to be EVERLASTING, though her fellow Democratic representative couldn’t OUTLAST the speech and fell asleep. Personal request here: Please remind me to not be in a seat behind a public speaker AND one who is being televised! After all, I have been known to nod off inadvertently myself. My post isn’t anti Pelosi, but it is “Thanks, Nancy, for inspiring me with the word EVERLASTING."

EVERLASTING: Love, live or last longer than; outlive, survive, withstand; forever

We think of that word when we’re at a sports game that seems EVERLASTING or having to endure a medical treatment that seems EVERLASTING. And, women, aren’t we so thrilled that labor and childbirth aren’t EVERLASTING, though it may feel like it? Thank God, a clear end (literally) is always in sight.

In our wedding vows, we said “I will love you forever.” That means EVERLASTING, but we are fallible and subject to change when those vows (promises) are broken. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.

In its proper context, EVERLASTING is a word I embrace and count as one of my greatest reasons for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Here’s the truth He promises AND He keeps His promises:

Isaiah 40:28 – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the EVERLASTING God.”

Jeremiah 31:3 -- The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an EVERLASTING love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Psalm 103:17 – “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.”

Deuteronomy 33:27 – “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are His EVERLASTING arms.”

Isaiah 26:4 -- “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an EVERLASTING Rock.”

Psalm 100:5 – “For the LORD is good; His loving-kindness is EVERLASTING and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Jeremiah 10:10 – “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the EVERLASTING King.”

Rest assured that our Father, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and our Abba (Daddy) Father keeps His promises and when he says EVERLASTING love and kindness…..He means it. He’s a good, good Father. The question is are we good, good children? I hope so because, more than anything, we want to live EVERLASTING with Him for all eternity!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Intimacy "In-To-Me-See"

INTIMACY: close familiarity or friendship; closeness, rapport, warmth, affectionate

Those words that describe INTIMACY are from the dictionary, but I embrace this meaning: being INTIMATE means “In-to-Me-See”. It’s a blending of our heart with another’s so we can “see into” who they really are, and they can “see into” us.

Experiencing true INTIMACY begins with being connected to our own heart which is directly connected to God’s heart when we open our heart to Him. Because God made us, He intimately knows us better than anyone else can. He sees inside us and knows who we really are. Sees “into” us. For this reason, He can make us feel known in a way that no one on earth is able; and in this we can experience intimacy in an indescribable way. Intimacy with God through His Son Jesus has been the most rewarding and life-changing thing I have ever experienced.

This month of February is known as “The Love Month”. The greatest commandment is this: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind" (Matthew 22:37). So simple, so important, so transforming. This is the one thing God most desires. I’m so grateful that God loves us and that He keeps working on us. How DO we go from "believing in God" to REALLY falling in love with Him – being INTIMATE with Him? Since He “sees into” me and knows me – so much so that He knows the number of hairs on my head (Matthew 10:20), how much more should I crave to “see into” God’s heart and grow my heart of love for Him.

Here's how my INTIMACY with God grows:
1) I think about Him. That's one of the easiest things to do because everywhere we look -- He is there. The more I think about Him, acknowledge His presence in my life, recognize Him in EVERYTHING -- people, nature, circumstances, etc., the more deeply I fall in love with Him. I think about how amazing He is as my Creator and how selfless He is as my Savior. I contemplate how incredible it is that the God of the universe cares about me – is INTIMATE with me.

2) I tell Him I love Him and why I love Him.

3) I spend time in His presence. No INTIMATE relationship can grow without time spent together. The same is true with our relationship with God. When I determined long ago to set aside specific time with Him to pray, share, express gratitude to Him, then my love for Him started increasing.

4) I endeavor to do everything out of love for Him -- from serving at my church and volunteering, to my everyday tasks and chores. When I choose to do a task out of love for God, my love for Him grows and our INTIMACY grows.

We can all work at loving God more. I know I’m still walking out my faith journey, but I'm on assignment to urge others to fall in love with God, too – to become INTIMATE with Him. It’s one of the most important trademarks of a Christian -- to help others learn to love Him with all their hearts. And the best way to teach others is to model OUR love for God.

My prayer is that you will experience the joy that comes from an intimate relationship with God and that out of that love you have experienced with Him, that you will find INTIMACY with a special someone who is also in an intimate relationship with God. No doubt, with that priority -- true INTIMACY will be found with each other and the load of walking this earth will become a little lighter and so much brighter.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Living With Expectancy

My friend and I were talking yesterday about the choices we make every day. It starts the minute we wake up. We can hit the alarm over and over again and wish for a day of just sleeping. Or, we can CHOOSE to wake with great EXPECTANCY of what this day can hold in special favors, little kisses from heaven – like green lights, a great parking place, a sale on the item we're getting ready to buy (yesterday, it was a sale on grapes and clementines) – and even greater EXPECTANCY that a miracle we’ve been hoping for – shows up!

EXPECTANCY -- the state of thinking or hoping that something, especially pleasant, will happen; anticipation, excitement.

My dear husband spoke often about HOPE which he defined as “The great expectation that something good is about to happen.” Those folks who say “Don’t get your hope up”, have it all wrong – getting our hope UP is EXPECTING something good is coming our way.

Maybe this post should also include the word, CHOOSE, because every day we choose to be joyful or sorrowful; to EXPECT good things coming our way or CHOOSE to dwell on the negative circumstances of our lives and when we do….you better believe – we’ll get more of what we're EXPECTING. “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all!” Really? Is that really the EXPECTATION that we want to put out there? No, thank you! I choose daily to “Expect a Miracle”! Maybe those are three words we need to write on little sticky notes and place them all over our homes – so that we are in the attitude of expectancy. Just think about that EXPECTANT mom-to-be. I assure you, she is definitely living in the attitude of expectancy. But, why not us? Every day holds the possibility of a miracle and so why shouldn’t we expect it in our lives?

Years ago, my husband and I were going through one of the toughest seasons of our lives and our daughter placed sticky notes on our bathroom mirrors, on the refrigerator door, the coffee pot, our computers, doors, our Bibles, the treadmill, and many other places with the words “Expect a Miracle” on them. And, the more we saw those words -- the more we believed in the possibility of the miracle we needed. Those words were imprinted on our hearts and our minds and our lips. We didn't let our words or actions go rogue, because that could have aborted our miracle. Besides, we had planted tons of seeds in our church, in ministries, in charities, in good works and good deeds. So we sure didn’t want our harvest to be stolen by negative attitudes, speaking and thinking. We put a guard up against negativity and doubt. Before long, we DID receive the miracle we needed and it came in such an amazing, over-the-top way!

That's what I believe for you today -- that you begin to live in EXPECTANCY for good things and even miracles coming your way in the form of brilliant ideas, witty inventions, right people, right places, right timing in your life. Let's start picturing in our minds what that "baby" is going to look like -- that job, that financial breakthrough, that healing, that relationship restoration, that promotion, that brainwave idea that makes a total difference in our lives! "Nothing is impossible with God" -- so live with GREAT EXPECTATIONS!

Psalm 77:14 "You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the people".





Wednesday, February 7, 2018

You Bear a Striking Resemblance of Your Father

People often say my daughter resembles me and my granddaughter resembles her, and I resemble my mother. It’s undeniable – we were all cast from the same mold. My son is undeniably, His dad’s son. They RESEMBLE each other.

My word for today is, obviously, RESEMBLE: to have qualities or features, especially those of appearance, in common with (someone or something); look or seem like.

While I love that compliment “You look just like your mother” or “Your daughter and granddaughter certainly look like you” – most importantly I want for them and me to RESEMBLE our Heavenly Father – and to RESEMBLE Him is to resemble His nature and His ways. Ever heard someone say, “The more we live together, the more we finish each other’s sentences and we’re even starting to look alike?” That’s what I pray for in my relationship with God. And the more time I spend with Him, the more I know His plans and purposes for me, and the more I (like to think), that I start to RESEMBLE Him. His nature is LOVE. This is the month of love and what better time to become LOVERS of God and RESEMBLE Him in His love for others.

This life we live is truly all about love. Of course it is, because God IS LOVE and the most important lesson He wants us to learn on earth is how to love. To say “I love you” can sound like a cliché if our actions (or our RESEMBLANCE of God) don’t measure up to those words. We say “I love you” in the same sentence that we say “I love chocolate cake” and there are times when it seems the one saying those words, loves chocolate cake more than us.

Learning to love unselfishly is certainly not an easy task. It runs counter to our self-centered nature. That’s why we’re given a lifetime to learn it. God continues to demonstrate His love to us each and every day. And that’s why He is our role model and why those who spend time with Him will start to RESEMBLE Him and His ways. Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

God wants His family to RESEMBLE Him and to be known for love more than anything else. Jesus said our love for each other – not our doctrinal beliefs – is our greatest witness to the world. He said, “Your strong love for each other will PROVE TO THE WORLD that you are my disciples.” John 13:35. He proved to the world His love – and now as we love and serve, we take on His character and RESEMBLE Him.

It’s admirable that we could RESEMBLE our Father within our four walls and in our own families, but love isn’t learned from hiding out with our four, and no more. We must be around people, even those cranky, grumpy and even frustrating people around us, because God's LIGHT of LOVE in us is what the world needs NOW. In Acts 10:38 we see how Jesus RESEMBLED His Father everywhere He went: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good.”

Resembling our Father is to LOVE. It matters most. It takes top priority. So, let’s be LOVE show-offs and RESEMBLE our Dad today!






Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stuck in the MIDDLE?

The MIDDLE: the center, an equal distance from the extremities of something; halfway, a position at an equal distance from the sides, edges or ends. The middle child. The one in the middle of a circle. The piano's middle "C". The middle of the night.

I know what being stuck in the MIDDLE is all about. I started out strong in a challenging “stormy” season. I was determined to ride out this storm in relentless faith. I kept saying “We’re on the brink of a miracle. I just know it.” A new day came, and we’d proclaim “God’s mercies are new every morning!” But, there were still no changes and, what seemed to be no answer to our prayers. It was getting darker by the minute. Initially, I hit those challenges with courage head-on, but as the battle persisted, I became bone weary in the fight. I know God’s Word enough to “have the faith of a mustard seed and speak to the mountain and say ‘Be removed’, and I know how to “stand, and when I’ve done all to stand, keep standing”, and I know Jesus “approved” of those who had great faith, and I didn’t want to be one of those “Oh ye, of little faith” followers. But I – rather, we, seemed to be STUCK in the MIDDLE of this storm.

The fact is, in most all circumstances, problems don’t disappear overnight. More often than not, we just keep moving through them with slow, persistent diligence and consistency. As much as I’d love to think that this life of living for God was “Easy Street” or “Comfort Road”, quite often, there are MIDDLE hills and valleys and detours of working through something – in the space between moving on courageously and waiting for something to change. In that space, it’s quite natural to lose our gumption to function. Hope gets buried beneath piles of defeated thinking, and we’re sure we’ve planted in the wrong fields or hung with the wrong people, or made the wrong decisions or wrong moves.

In Exodus 14, we see that Moses and the Israelites were stuck in the MIDDLE . Pharaoh had just freed them from captivity when the Lord led Moses and His people out and away from Egypt. But shortly thereafter, Pharaoh changed his mind and went after them. As the Israelites camped near the Red Sea, soon all of Pharaoh’s army barreled down on them. When the Israelites saw them approaching, they were full of fear and began to question every move that brought them there. Moses spoke up “Fear not, stand firm . . the Lord will fight for you.” Exodus 14:13-14

I loved this scene from the movie, “The Ten Commandments” when the Lord parted the Red Sea waters and the Israelites went through on a dry path. Charlton Heston (rather, Moses) led the Israelites across to the other side unharmed, and then the big finale was when God brought the waters back together again over the Egyptian army. The Israelites were scared, yes, but they saw the promise fulfilled: "The Lord will fight for you".

I don’t know the details of your circumstances or situation, but if you’re worn out from running from the enemy and fear is making you question where you’re at right now, please hear this: Keep on keepin’ on. You’ve got this."The Lord will fight for you!"

Psalm 31:24 says it like this: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage; all you who wait for the Lord.” It doesn’t say HAVE courage. It says TAKE courage. Keep on keeping company with Christ and ask Him to make you tenacious in faith, to take your fears and to give you courage to not only face the Red Sea – but to walk across unscathed. Bravery is not the absence of fear but following God through the fear as we believe God’s promises. It’s holding on to the facts of our faith more tightly than to the fears for our future. I promise you – I know it’s true. This MIDDLE season will not be wasted. It will not last.

Jesus Christ freely gave Himself to be "stuck in the MIDDLE" of the cross, in the MIDDLE of two thieves -- even though He could have called 10,000 angels to free Him, but didn't. He FREELY gave His life "in the MIDDLE" for you and me. Best of all -- He died, and in the MIDDLE he was buried, but on the third day rose out of that grave to FREE you and me from being STUCK in the MIDDLE. Just maybe, right smack dab in the MIDDLE of our circumstances God is wanting us to let go of the doubts, fears and worries, because He isn't surprised about our MIDDLE. It's probably just the tip of the mountaintop where we'll slide right down into the Finish Line of what He has prepared for us. So....“Hold on, my child – JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!” (Psalm 30:5)

Monday, February 5, 2018

APPOINTMENT or DISAPPOINTMENT

CBS News Headline this morning is this: "Super Bowl 2018: Eagles pull off stunning win over Patriots". Whether you are a Patriots or an Eagles fan or not a football fan at all, if you tuned into the Super Bowl game last night and watched it for any period of time, you would agree that it was a good one to watch! Lots of drama and surprises! Along the way you may have had some feelings for which team you’d like to win. I’ll admit, I was cheering for the Eagles, so I was thrilled when they won. Tom Brady had DISAPPOINTMENT written all over his face when he couldn’t pull off his #6 Super Bowl win. I was so inspired when Nick Foles, the Eagles back-up quarterback, Doug Pederson, the Eagles coach, and several other Eagles’ players, when interviewed at the end of the game said, “First and foremost, I give all the glory to my Lord Jesus Christ.” While one team and their stunned fans were DISAPPOINTED, the other team and their fans saw their win as a Divine APPOINTMENT. I love when I hear anyone speaking about God and His goodness. They are helping to make HIM famous.

My word(s) for today are: APPOINTMENT -- a meeting set for a specific time, and,
DISAPPOINTMENT -- the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.


Maybe you don't care one way or the other about a Super Bowl game, but maybe some-ONE or some-THING has brought you tremendous DISAPPOINTMENT. We can't stop disappointment, but we can stop staying stuck in it. I know how easy it is to dwell on something or someone that hurt me. But, wallowing in disappointment gets us nowhere. I remember times of great disappointment and as long as I remained in sadness and regret, the more miserable I would get. But, when I would refuse to stay in that place and go to my Peace-Giver, I would snap out of the doldrums and find that place of joy, gladness, comfort and peace. Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

Isn’t it interesting that the word "APPOINTMENT" comes from within the word DISAPPOINTMENT? I’ve seen again and again how disappointments take something FROM us: a dream, a piece of our hearts – maybe whole chunks of it. But disappointment also GIVES us something too: a gift, an opportunity, the possibility of creating change.

God has incredible plans for us and the enemy of our souls would like to keep us from ever experiencing those plans and just stay "put" in woe and distress. God's purpose for us goes way beyond times of disappointment. In fact, that disappointment today may just be the set up for HIS APPOINTMENT where hope is found and a major comeback is on its way that produces successes and joy. That's what happened to me. My days are filled with purpose and I know that I'm walking in my destiny, getting to bring others with me on this road.

Let's remember God is in the "set-up" and APPOINTMENT business. There are many future God-appointments on the other side of whatever disappointment we may be encountering today.
God has got your name on His appointment schedule. He'll be right on time. Don't you be a minute late!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! We Win – No Matter What!

My word(s) of the day is/are SUPER BOWL -- the National Football League’s championship game, played annually in the United States between the two best professional football teams: the National and the American Football Conferences.

I’m one of those “fair weather” football fans. If one of MY teams are playing (Dallas Cowboys or Seattle Seahawks), I’m watching the game. If they’re not or they're out, then I’m only watching the big finale – the SUPER BOWL.

I was on a fact finding mission as I created today’s blog post. Today, February 4, 2018, Super Bowl 52 will be played at 5:30 pm at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN with the two BEST teams competing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy made by Tiffany & Co. that cost $50,000.

The prize for Super Bowl players isn't shabby. It’s worth it for each player to give their all for a few hours to be paid $107,000 on the winning team and $53,000 each on the losing team. For most of the top players, this bonus is more about bragging rights because because they already have lucrative professional contracts with their respective teams. New England Patriots average squad salary is around $2.3 million a year which goes to show the Super Bowl bonus is peanuts for them.

To see the big game in person, as of yesterday, the average price of a ticket was $4,000. You can get a bargain 50-yard ticket, 3rd row for $16,887 and an end zone seat at $5,557.

The Patriots are favored to win, but there are those who are declaring the Eagles will crush the Patriots. I understand how the Patriots are favored because Tom Brady has led the Patriots in winning five Super Bowls in his career with them. If winning, Tom Brady will become the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl (40 years, 186 days). Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and haven’t been to one since 2005.

Will Tom Brady prevail again or will backup quarterback Nick Foles lead the Eagles to Philadelphia's first Super Bowl win? In either case, let's hope for a game that's at least as entertaining as the commercials (currently at $5 million for 30-seconds). Super Bowl Sunday is a legend and I’ll be watching for the best team to win.

No matter what....whether you are a SUPER BOWL fan or not…..this day will be just another day in things that matter most. This day will pass away, and in the light of eternity -- it won't matter. BUT, being on the WINNING TEAM is really what matters. I'm not talking about football, baseball or dominoes. Patrick Henry, a REAL Patriot during the American Revolution said, "United, we stand. Divided, we fall." It won't be just Tom Brady or Nick Noles that will win in this game today. It is being united with their team that will seal the deal. United is what we pray for those of us who desire strength and unity in our homes, our country and our faith.

Isn't it time for OUR team to be the one that says "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?" (Joshua 24:15). The winning team is God's team of fully devoted followers. I've read the Play Book (the Bible) and I’ve read the back of the book.....and this TEAM that REALLY matters -- the one that will defeat the enemy once and for all.....WINS big time. In fact, we’ve already won!

Psalm 108:13 “With God on our side we will win; he will defeat our enemies.”


Saturday, February 3, 2018

More Than a Coincidence

A couple of days ago I posted about “remembering”. In the final paragraph of that post, I spoke about Christ’s words at the Last Supper from Luke 22:19: “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE of me."

COINCIDENCE: a remarkable concurrence of circumstances without apparent causal connection; providence, happenstance.

Here’s why the word COINCIDENCE is my word for today. After I had my “remembering” blog ready to post the next morning, Mom, who is busy going through family pictures to sort out which one of us she wants certain photos to go to, pulled out this photo for me. Imagine my joy and delight. Those are my two when Ryan was three and Staci was six months old. As precious as that photo is – take a look at the words on the pulpit behind them “Do this in remembrance of me.” What an absolute confirmation of how Holy Spirit is so faithful to give me my blog for the next day! I don't believe it was a mere COINCIDENCE but it was a providential circumstance.

Albert Einstein once said “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Actually, most of us are like children playing hide and seek, wanting to be found, yet hoping we won’t be. Once we understand the way life really works — the flow of God's energy that directs every moment — then we begin to see the amazing potential in that moment.lives.

When a coincidence happens, we shouldn't ignore it. We should ask ourselves, "What is the message here? What is the significance of this?" On Thursday, Mom’s home health nurse, Karla, came over to check on her. Here’s the “coincidence”. Karla was one of the precious gals in my Life Group here in Tulsa. Of all the nurses in Tulsa, Karla became Mom’s nurse -- which has been a blessing for both of them. Mom and Karen helped Karla get out of her comfort zone, and Karla has provided such tender loving care to Mom that we couldn’t have been more pleased to have her than if we had “special ordered” her. Karla has had some physical issues and needed a an electric bed that would raise her head. Mom is selling her electronic bed in her estate sale and sold it to Karla at a bare minimum -- blessing-for-Karla price.

The point is, we don’t have to go digging for the answers. COINCIDENCES may arrive as a sudden insight or an amazing God-moment -- that you look up toward heaven and say "Thanks God! I know you did that!" I choose to believe that God is behind COINCIDENCES.. A Biblical definition of coincidence is “what occurs together by God’s providential arrangement of circumstances.” The point is – we need to stay “in the moment” of each day, so that we can readily recognize God’s hand at work in our lives that gives us the HOW, WHEN, WHERE and WHY we met that person or we went that direction, or we received that phone call, or we were delayed in traffic only to arrive at our destination in God’s perfect timing so that we would see that person that was crying and you were there to comfort them.

There are no accidents or COINCIDENCES with God. And He has a perfect timing for everything He does.

"Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” Isaiah 46:9–10