Thursday, October 18, 2018
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Laura Story wrote a song entitled “What If Blessings Come From Raindrops?” based on the incredible blessings she had as a Grammy award-winning songwriter and recording artist. The faith Laura sang about was put to the test when her husband was on breathing machines after brain tumor surgery. He also had significant post-operative vision and memory loss. She said, "I spent my whole life singing, 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,' but until Jesus took me through something where my only option was to trust Him, I didn't really know that sweetness. It's hard to understand why God would allow us to go through this, but I know He works all things together for good. When He leads us through valleys, we get to trust Him and draw closer to Him all the more. Though I've doubted, His grasp has never released, never slipped. He's remained completely faithful to me. He has proven that He really is my foundation and my hope."
She went on: "I'd like to tell those going through tough times, 'God will fix your situation', but He just may not fix it. Scripture doesn't promise we'll understand everything while we're on this side of heaven, but it does tell us the broken things in this life will find their greater purpose in His redemption story. God promises there is a purpose for the pain we're going through. He promises He's doing something greater when we don't understand it.
I can vouch for what Laura said. I had to give reasons for the hope and peace that I had during my husband's illness and his graduation to heaven. People asked me, "How can you have so much joy?" Like Laura, I said, "My joy is found in Jesus. It's not found in my circumstances. I can't guarantee things will get better. But I can guarantee I'm going to get better. Life isn't all good, but God promises He will work it ALL together FOR GOOD for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28).
I urge you to listen to this beautiful song, written and sung by Laura. Perhaps it's a "rainy" season in your world today. This song may give you the encouragement you need to realize that though it might be raining, God's plans include the SUN shining again and you will come back stronger, wiser, and more joy-filled if you let Him fill you up with His goodness and mercy. What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Getting an exclamation point has everything to do with how we wake up each day. Getting an exclamation point has something to do with "hitting-the-ground-running" each day. There's just no time to be thinking about the good old days. I love my memories. I love all of my old photos. But if I want an exclamation point at the end of each and every day, I need to wake up saying "What can I do TODAY to leave a mark and a legacy?" Here's what "Exclamation Point" recipients look like:
They have a life to live so they live it… exclamation point!
They have an assignment to complete…exclaimation point!
They have work to be done….exclamation point!
They have a victory to achieve….exclamation point!
They have a devil to defeat….exclamation point!
They have a storm to calm….exclamation point!
They have a prayer to pray…exclamation point!
They have a promise to claim… exclamation point!
They have a habit to conquer…. exclamation point!
They have a temptation to overcome….exclamation point!
They have an enemy to love…. exclamation point!
They have a burden to lift…. exclamation point!
They have a friend to help….exclamation point!
They have a race to be won...exclamation point!
On a gravestone, it shows a date born, then a hyphen, then the date of death. The hyphen represents all the in between birth and death -- what that person accomplished in their lifetime. Quite frankly.....I'd like for mine to have on it:
"DONNA LIVED.... EXCLAMATION POINT!!"
Monday, October 15, 2018
There is so much beauty in the scripture in Titus 2:3-5 which talks about older women teaching younger women. I'm so grateful for how that scripture has played out in my life. Many older women (in faith AND age) influenced me as they lived out their faith before me. The role has reversed as, now, I get to be an influencer to younger women. I love responding to a young mom who messages me "HELP!!! What do I do?" Or when a middle-aged daughter shares her plight of caring for her 80+-year-old mom who recently suffered a stroke. I draw from my well of experiences when, as a young wife, mom, and daughter, faced similar times. Much of the stuff of life we go through and how we cope and succeed through it all is for others to know "We survive!" Even my "widow" experiences have helped other widows become warrior women who realize God still has purposes for their lives and then turn their mourning into dancing.
Who are qualified to be the "older" or the "younger" women? If someone is younger in their faith or in life, then we are the older. I saw my granddaughter encourage her younger (in faith) friend. I've seen you sweet moms who figured out the ropes of nursing, getting your little ones to sleep through the night, or the method to use for potty training be the "older" women to those who are "less traveled" on the "mommy" road.
I think about some of you, my sweet sisters, that think you don't fit into either category. You think what you do doesn't count because you're doing it at 2 am in the morning when no one is looking -- except for your sweet baby who has lost his pacifier, AGAIN. Or because you think you need a podium for your voice to matter or make a difference.
I want to take your sweet faces between my hands and tell you "You ARE making a difference." Podiums and pulpits are not just found in churches. Speeches do not just come from stages. I'm telling you diapers, laundry, and a sink full of dishes are serious theology. You are the Proverbs 31 woman who rises while it's still dark to provide for your family. You are teaching your children what a devoted follower of Christ looks and acts like. The hours that you sow juggling sports practices, ballet, and football games or carefully navigating the selection of your daughter's prom dress so it's NOT too low cut in the front, is your mission field. You are teaching and training and being the example of faithfulness and resilience and determination. When you break up conflict between your kids, you are being the peacemaker that, one day, they'll remember how you resolved conflict when they're having to do that with their kids. You ARE in ministry.
It is an honor to offer my life, my lessons learned and failed to my sisters who, on a daily basis, maneuver your lives with precision and are teaching the younger. And while you are teaching the younger, those of us who passed that way long ago.....are engaged in taking care of elderly parents, coping with aging bodies, carrying on when a cherished loved one passes away. But, all is well, because we have "older" teachers that showed us the way. We will survive because we know we're here to grow, mature, train, teach and walk hand in hand -- making our world a better place to be because we cared AND shared and mentored those who became leaders worth following!
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12. And, here's the real kicker.....Jesus said to us "YOU are the light of the world" Matthew 5:14. WOW!! How's that for a standard to live up to? It sure puts the onus on us to check out our wattage and our light output, doesn't it?
If you're reading this and think "She's sure not talking about me!" Then, I urge you to get connected to the “Light Source”, the Lord Jesus Christ AND get connected to other “light” bearers so that you become THAT "bright light" to those around you. They need YOUR light to shine brightly! Before long, you’ll hear others say to you “You light up my life!”
Saturday, October 13, 2018
The meaning of that “30,000 feet view” is best explained by looking out the window of an airplane. We see puffy, white clouds that look like cotton and we may be inside those clouds and see nothing but white matter all around us. Down below there could be fires raging, traffic jams, floods taking over lands and lives, and chaos of wars and conflict.....but we can’t see it because we’re tucked away inside a protective cloud that blocks our view. It’s like a state of peace and contentment -- flying high above it all and not seeing what is “earth-bound”.
When there are no clouds that block our view, all we can see is methodical organization of fields and lands marked by dividers (roads), gorgeous mountain ranges, valleys and hills, rivers and lakes, towns and cities with spectacular skylines, neighborhoods that are perfectly aligned. We can even see little cars. We don’t see the chaos that's going on in those homes, cars or buildings. Oh to have that 30,000 feet view of life. It sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Oftentimes, that's the way we live. When it comes to living in God's peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) -- it's a great way TO live. The eagle stories we hear about how they can fly above storms is a great analogy for us.
As peaceful the thought of not knowing about what's going on down below the clouds, or the thought of eagles being able to fly above it all, that wasn't God's life plan for us. He orchestrated our debut ON this earth and brought us to this place, at this time, to be right smack dab in the middle of LIFE and all that it holds. People are hurting. They are in need. Their world is falling apart. They need someone who SEES them and wants to do something to help them. We've heard the saying "They're so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good!" We're here to be earthly minded to LOOK and SEE -- SEE and BE the answer to someone's prayers, needs, heart cries, because we are servant minded -- like our Father and heavenly minded enough to want to take them to heaven with us!
We are here on assignment. When we make the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives, we are given an assignment by Him to BE His disciples and His light to shine brightly in this hurting and cynical world. We see and hear those who claim to be Christians, but it’s hard to identify them because of their anger issues, the backstabbing, and word-slinging that accompany their talk and walk and their positions that oppose God’s Word. It’s up to us to be the beacons of light that “preach a sermon” every day – not so much by what we say, but how we live, how we talk, and how we walk. Not only having our Father's eyes to see those around us in need but to be His hands that hold the hands of those who are hurting, touching the untouchable and reaching out to the unlovable. To be His feet that travels to the captives and the outcast and free them. To have His heart full of compassion that SEES others as valuable brothers and sisters in need of a role model. Matthew 9:36 "But when He SAW the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them......"
When people look inside our lives.....don't we want to hear them say "They've got their Father's eyes, His hands, His feet.....AND His heart?"
Friday, October 12, 2018
I love to share about God’s goodness and mercy that follows us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6) but then comes along another storm or battle that rocks and reels our world again. So many people in the Florida Panhandle are facing “life AFTER the devastation from Hurricane Michael”. The National Weather Service reported it to have been the third-strongest storm ever to strike the U.S., calling it a catastrophic and unprecedented event.
It's a cinch to speak "goodness and mercy" from my place of comfort, security, and safety this morning. I could go on my merry way and not give a second thought to those precious people who are suffering and are reeling from this disaster. But I can’t. How could I be so callous to not consider those whose homes are destroyed or at the very least are dealing with damages that will take a long time to restore. Our awareness of hurting people should be even stronger in times like this as well as the urgency to pray for their peace, comfort, and resilience. We should also be praying for first responders, emergency relief organizations and those who are providing love and support in tangible ways.
I don't take my comfort for granted because I’ve been through some mighty serious storms in life, and in weather. In fact, I could be right here in the comfort of my home and still be reeling from storms that could be in and around me. I could be completely lost and hopeless -- longing for inner peace and rest in my soul. How grateful I am that I found that God's goodness and mercy did follow me in those times because I found that safe place in the person of Jesus Christ, and what a difference it has made in the many storms I’ve encountered.
There will always be storms in our lives. It’s predictable whether they are from the forces of natural disasters or those from the pain of broken relationships, disappointments, discomfort from illness or loss of loved ones. In all those storms, no matter what comes our way, there is only one Constant that can carry us through each and every storm. We can be hope-filled conquerors because our trust is in God, our Good Shepherd Who promised His goodness and mercy to be with us.
Maybe life seems overwhelming from the storms you may be in today. I've been there and each time I found my answers, my peace and my comfort in the One who is our Good Shepherd. I realize those overwhelming circumstances drew me to the Source of answers, the stable foundation, and my shelter in the storm. I urge you to go there for your place of refuge today. I pray that Jesus' words to the disciples as they were reeling in fear and despair are His words to calm you today: "Peace, be still". In the meantime, let's PRAISE HIM in the storm! And, may His goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Do you bear any bruises and scars from battles that you may have been in lately-- maybe in the political arena or even in your home or workplace? On Sunday, I encountered a very well trained cashier at a store who was courteous, friendly, and even gave me a $10-off coupon off my purchase. Afterward, she said, “The only thing I ask of you is to pray for me. Just pray for my children to get along. That's all I need” And, I did. I am still praying for her children as I type this post. Her request grabbed my attention because I had just been in church and a lady there asked me to pray for her family to get along. And God must be saying "Oh, that my children would get along!"
When I heard those requests, it made me realize – battles are raging all around us on a daily basis -- the political world, family, marital, relational and financial issues, anxiety, depression, addiction, abuse, sickness, death, hopelessness, rejection, stress, loneliness, disappointment, etc. And the list goes on. Did I hit on one of the battles you may be facing today?
I met with a dear husband and wife last week who were weary and battle-worn. I sensed they needed a pick-me-up. Earlier in the day I was singing a song over and over again called, “Surrounded -- This is How I Fight my Battles“. It’s a stirring new worship anthem written by Elyssa Smith from the Dallas-based group, Upper Room. It has been playing in my head for weeks at random moments in my day. I played it for my friends from my iPhone. I could sense the heaviness in their hearts was lifted. Some of the words are: "This is how I fight my battles; It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You."
After we listened to the song, I read from 2nd Chronicles 20 where enemy forces were fast approaching Judah who was no match for the invaders. King Jehoshaphat called for prayer and fasting. Then Jahaziel, a young priest, prophesied with a loud voice, "The Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's! You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you!" It was decided that singers should lead the troops into battle. Can you imagine? Those singers were the barrier between the enemies and the army of Judah! That daring step of faith showed that they believed God would fight for them. Jehoshaphat instructed the singers as they took their position. "Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever." They were thanking God in advance for the victory He had promised the day before. No sooner had they begun to sing and praise that God caused the enemy forces to fight and destroy each other. When the army of Judah overlooked the battlefield, they saw only dead bodies on the ground. No one had escaped.
What an amazing testimony to the power of faith, prayer, and praise--and that same power is available to us today. Praise is the voice of faith. You may feel “surrounded” today. You may feel like the enemy and his forces are pressing in on you and are about to overtake you. Everywhere you turn, you see the worst possible set-up by the enemy. You think there is no way out, no way around and no way through. Oh, but do not be dismayed or disheartened. When it looks like you’re surrounded, remind the enemy how you fight your battles – not with a sword or spear or fear or worry – remind him that you are surrounded by the Lord God of hosts by praising and worshiping Him. Praise Him on the battlefront lines and when you do, God goes before you, fight and wins the battle for you..
Praise is the voice of faith. If we really believe God has heard our prayers, we will start praising Him for the answer, even before we see it. When we're tempted to get down and discouraged, let's remember to fight our battles with praise and thanksgiving!
“This is how I fight my battles”…..lyrics and song:
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
For the times this summer when we could have used a good, soaking rain and it didn’t come to these last few days when it came in abundance, I still offer thanks to God in times of lack and times of plenty. Now, with this drenching by these autumn rains, my pots are so full of water, that the plants (what few remained) are swimming for their lives. "I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine, and oil." (Deuteronomy 11:14)
These rains have reminded me of the blessings of God. Feeling like we're in a dry, barren land and a spiritual and emotional drought has sometimes consumed us. Other times, we are in amazement at the downpour of blessings that fill our “joy” pots to overflowing. You know those times -- when we’ve prayed for “rain” (answered prayer) and a healing takes place after we were given a negative diagnosis, or our child was healed, or the "free" tire change, a $10 discount on a purchase, the unexpected check in the mail, the word from a friend that says "Your post today was exactly what I needed". These are all personal stories when I knew it was God in the form of a downpour -- every time.
As we were raising funds for our Walk for Life last weekend, I was bound and determined to walk even though I had something terribly wrong going on in my leg. I walked with a limp because the pain was so intense. I prayed for it, massaged it, iced it and sat in a hot tub with jets pounding on it, and it wasn’t getting any better. Then, on Wednesday night, I was at a prayer meeting at my church that started with singing beautiful songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. As I sat on that hard chair, the pain in my leg was throbbing, so I got up and walked to the back of the room and with all-out worship and praise, raising my hands and singing “love songs” to my Father, walking back and forth from one side of the room to the other, the pain completely left me. That was one week ago today. I walked in the Walk for Life and I still have no pain in that leg. I sincerely believe I received a miracle. A drought (pain) was once a part of my life, but the downpour of healing came. Today I am soaking in gratitude.
I assure you, God comes in the seasons of dryness, barrenness, and drought if we express gratitude in the midst of that season. In the dry seasons, our Father is working out things for our good. He’s a good, good Father who wants to give His kids great ideas, discernment, creativity, wisdom, knowledge and all kinds of exciting things that can turn our drought season to downpour season. We call on Him and He will open the windows of heaven to us. Deuteronomy 28:12 says “The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of His bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.”
Let it rain, Lord, let it pour!
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
I remembered the lyrics of an old song: “Happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again, so, let's sing a song of cheer again, happy days are here again!” I traced down the song's origin and found that it was written in tribute to the Armistice of November 11, 1918, which was the agreement that ended fighting on land, sea, and air in World War 1.
Then that wonderful “Oh Happy Day” song, rang in my ears – a song that many artists recorded, and the movie “Sister Act”, made it popular again. It was even a crowd pleaser when our Masters IV Quartette belted it out.
In these times, it almost seems that those songs and endeavors for peace, love, and happiness are impossible. But, "nothing is impossible" with God. What’s going on in politics and our world doesn’t define our happiness. Those thoughts pale in contrast to those of us who rise to the 30,000 feet view that our Father has when He looks at us and this world. I found a “happy days” scripture for us in Psalm 144:15 “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” Because of the resurrection of Christ and the good news that we will live in peace and harmony forever with Him, should cause God’s people to be the happiest people on the face of the earth!
It is sad that there are a lot of unhappy, discouraged, miserable, and hopeless people in this world. But that should never describe God’s people. There is truly nothing to be discouraged about in this life if He is part of it! But that’s the key, Jesus has to have the lead role, the starring part and be our main focus!
Yes, things happen, problems come and go, as they always do, but there is nothing, in any of our lives that can’t be overcome with the Lord’s help. He is an overcoming, death-defying, grace giving, problem-solving, all forgiving, amazingly awesome good God! As Christians, we of all people should be happy about our lot in life. We should be ecstatic! We have been forgiven of all the sins, we have ever done or will do, only by the precious grace of Jesus that God sent to us oh so long ago.
It makes you wonder, why in the world aren’t more people able to get their hearts wrapped around this life-giving, life-changing message that Jesus has given to whosoever will believe? It was a message, that was so important for God to get to us, that He was willing to sacrifice and give up His one and only Son, so we could have it! I’m telling you today if you know, and I mean truly know the Son of God, you have a reason to be singing continuously, "Oh Happy Day....when Jesus washed my sins away!"
Monday, October 8, 2018
AND, more importantly than anything I lack, here’s what I know. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know about God’s love for me. Don't try to convince me otherwise. I know that God is NOT dead. I've seen way too much evidence otherwise. I've experienced way too many of God's blessings, and I know they didn't come to me by happenstance or coincidence.
I know there are times that it just had to be God that did THAT for me, or gave me that, or showed me that and that's when I looked up to heaven and said, “I know that was YOU, God, wasn’t it?” I know God sees me right where I am right in this minute in this day. I know His love for me is vast and beyond what I can imagine. I've been loved so much that it's the story of my life.
And all this that I know about me and my story, I want it to be the story of your life as well. I want it to change everything, including how you look at God, yourself, and other people. I want you to live in confidence that when God looks at you, He sees beauty. He sees value. He sees hope. He sees kindness, strength, love, compassion. He sees a precious treasure beyond compare.
When God looks at you and me, He doesn’t evaluate us based on our family history, or how cute and spunky we are, or how popular we are. He doesn’t consider our education, our resume OR our bank balance. What might impress others, doesn’t impress God. None of that changes how He values us. In fact, whether we behave well, or not, His love for us is unconditional. He doesn’t love us because we’re wealthy or smart or good. He loves us because we’re HIS! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God” 1 John 3:1 God doesn’t compare us to others. We are a unique work of His creation. And we are His definition of BEAUTIFUL. Isn’t it time we see ourselves as God sees us?
When you're hiding or when you feel beaten down, and you can't see anything clearly, He's still hard at work, handcrafting all the details for your beautiful future. He sees you. He loves you. We are SO loved by ALMIGHTY God -- doesn't that AMAZE you? It sure amazes me.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
Yesterday morning, some of our EMwomen joined other passionate people in the Walk/Hike for Life in McKinney, TX. There were booths set up with passionate representatives from homes for pregnant, homeless women that provide hope and help to them. Centers were represented for women who need healing after choosing abortion and for helping women to choose life. There are many people who are passionate about “choosing life” and who devote themselves to many volunteer hours to help make a difference. What is it that drives these people to give of their time to causes like this? What drove our little band of women and one strong man to raise funds and to show up to walk for life? It was the passion to make a difference.
The passion of Jesus led to the redemption of man. We can model His passion. The Bible tells us that we’re to seek God passionately. We’re to love God passionately. The Bible says that we’re to serve and obey God passionately. We’re to trust God passionately. Then as if we didn’t get the message, in Colossians 3:23 He says "Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart as unto the Lord and not unto men." He says I want you to do everything passionately when it comes to loving Me, serving Me, living for Me.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Oh, but very quickly, to straighten me out like He often does, my loving Father/Dad/Papa sent me these words: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.' 2 Chronicles 7:14. Notice He said, "If MY people....." Scrolling through my FB timeline yesterday morning, I saw that one of my Canadian friends' "shared" a video of a huge prayer meeting that was going on in Washington D.C. on Thursday. God's people were humbling themselves and praying.
Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court if a favorable final vote count comes in today. Whatever way it goes, God's Word gives no room for gloating or pouring "vinegar in a wound" to those who opposed this confirmation. In fact, King Solomon put it this way in Proverbs 25:20-22 "Don't be like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or pours vinegar on a wound, or who sings songs to a heavy heart. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you."
In so doing, we continue the earthly ministry of Jesus. He prayed that we would live in such a way that the world would believe in Him because of us (John 17:21). Then He returned to heaven so his Spirit could bear witness to Him through Christians all over the world (John 15:26-27).
Our work of loving, giving, serving and living as Christ did should be stronger than ever before. Charles Spurgeon said: “You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is His living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people.”
Friday, October 5, 2018
My, how far we’ve come. In a matter of seconds, everyone who owns a cell phone can receive a message that could save our lives. I’m thankful for warning systems. The dashboard lights in my car, smoke detectors in my home, even the little bumps in the road that let me know when I’m crossing over into another lane. If there’s any device or object that’s able to warn me of danger or impending catastrophe, I want it working for me.
From a spiritual perspective, we have another built-in warning system – our conscience. Just as pain warns us of physical danger to our body, our conscience warns us about the potential threat to our morals and values. Our conscience alone can’t save us. It’s merely a warning device. And unless it has been guarded and trained, it won’t be able to alert us to spiritual danger. A malnourished, confused, and underdeveloped conscience won’t be able to protect us. In fact, it could actually lead us to immorality and regrets.
Yesterday I talked about training our spiritual muscles. That training can be applied to training our conscience like our physical and spiritual muscles. It needs to be developed and protected and sharpened. Living a life of freedom, joy, peace, hope, and love is possible and that’s why God made sure to give us such amazing warning systems. My Mom’s famous line was “Let your conscience be your guide”. Those were her parting words when I went out with my girlfriends or boyfriend. Those words served me well as they were loud in my ears and kept me on the straight and narrow path. May we heed God’s warning signals and alerts.
Never do we want to ignore His warning system. It’s his love call and his love language. He loves us too much to leave us.
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Faith is very much like a muscle. The more we use our muscles and exercise them, the more they grow. And the more we grow, the more we can lift and others will even notice our muscles. even when we’re not flexing. I’m smiling as I type this because I am wishing that I had physically noticeable muscles when I flexed. LOL! In the same way, someone who is a man or woman of faith is not merely gifted with it, their faith has become noticeably larger because it has been worked out over time until it can be seen without even flexing!
When I ask for God to “increase my faith”, He gives provides me with increased opportunities to grow muscles. YIKES!! Not the most pleasurable experiences – working out often hurts! Some of those workout routines may look like an illness that we or a loved one are facing; a loss of a job; difficulty in a relationship; struggling with another trial or testing. Each workout routine gives us the opportunity to depend on Him more, to trust Him literally for every breath we take, to spend more time in prayer with Him, and to get as close as we can to Him.
We can recognize those whose faith is so strong even when they are not flexing it. Once we get spiritually fit, the issues that once plagued us (i.e., fear, despair, worry, unbelief, hopelessness, concern) seem to have little effect on our strong belief and trust in God. My post today was inspired by a precious friend who I follow daily on FB. This woman's faith muscles are so developed that through the greatest tests, she still proclaims “Nothing is impossible with God”. Just take a look at her musclebound faith:
“Faith is the only reason I’m still standing and fighting. It is the reason why my “terminally ill” son is still alive at 8 yrs old and now off of 19 medications. He’s never walked independently a day in his life, but EVERY SINGLE DAY multiple times a day, I tell him his legs are SOO STRONG!! I tell him he is SOO SMART!! I tell him he runs SOO FAST!! I tell him he’s such a great preacher!! 😎 I tell him he’s healthy and whole!! His vision is perfect!! His hearing is perfect!! His organs perform the way God designed them to! I tell him he’s loved SOO MUCH and that the same spirit that lives in JESUS lives in him!!
That, my dear friends, is what I call “faith-muscle”. After reading Lori Street Whitmore's words, I went back to the gym – God’s gym, that is – and I exercised a little harder, longer and thought, “If she can make it through so many rigorous work-outs of faith, so can I." What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. So many faith-muscle-bound people encourage us. I’ve got several of those “trainers” in my life. Perhaps, you need to start with the best muscle strengthening program available. Here are some of the training manual’s tips:
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good faith; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
He also used that acronym when he was speaking to people about those dark shadows of defeat and discouragement that were looming over their lives, but in reality, those were the scare tactics of the enemy to make them think they were going to fail. False Evidence Appearing Real. I also remember when he’d encourage someone to consider applying for a job at a certain place. They did, and they got the job. He proved his point that FEAR about tomorrow was getting them no place, but putting muscle to trust in our unfailing God makes “all things possible” and causes FEAR to flee.
My two young grandsons asked me to tell them the "cat and Papa" story again. Believe me, they’ll be telling their kids this story one day. Here’s the story:
Our daughter, Staci, was the guest speaker for a Mary Kay Annual Convention in Nashville. We had a few minutes to spare so we walked to a little shop nearby, and this little "fake" kitten caught my eye. I wanted it for a companion to the ceramic dog we had. When the kids were younger we always had cats and dogs around, but the day came when the kids left home, and so did the pets. These little imitation ones suited us just fine -- no responsibilities of feeding, watering or cleaning.
I still have that cat AND dog, to remind me that SOME THINGS are just not as they appear. Ron spoke about the acronym of FEAR again -- False Evidence Appearing Real. That cat stirred up concern in him -- he sure didn't want to be chasing it around the house -- like he had with birds that had come in through the fireplace before. But, thankfully -- that cat was false evidence -- it only appeared real!
How many times do we worry and concern ourselves with things that aren't real? If we had kept a journal of those worries, and reviewed our journal a year later, we'd see things that were worrying us or causing us fear that never came to pass. With trusting in Him who is the REAL DEAL -- fear doesn't have to consume us and neither should we give it the time of day.
This scripture says it plainly: Isaiah 41:10 "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."
Now watch out for those fierce, violent little kittens that just might come and settle in for a long night's nap!
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Of course, I’m going to segue to a “God” comparison. Over the last few days, in light of the current political climate, my posts have been focused on getting our hearts in the right places, doing the right things, and being people of integrity and honor even when no one is looking. Yesterday, I referenced the mistakes we make even when we're purposing to do the right thing. We do our best and oftentimes our “best” falters. When it seems that our failures outweigh our successes, it could seem we are surely doomed for a life of hopelessness.
These scriptures assure us of God's amazing grace: "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9
"Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
Monday, October 1, 2018
And isn’t that true in our lives, as well? As much as we try to do better, it seems our nature is prone to emotional, physical and spiritual mistakes. Maybe it has to do with the company we're keeping, some unhealthy habits, some compromising of our ethics and integrity, or literally missing the mark. Little mistakes can really slow us down and even limit some of the blessings God wants to give us. I remember back in my early learning-to-type days when I made so many mistakes because I wasn't focusing or I was concentrating more on speed than being mistake-free. Now, at this stage of my life, I really want to be as mistake-free as possible, but like what I heard someone say "I do really well with living mistake-free, but then I get out of bed and meet up with people, and then I need the "correcting fluid" to clean up my mistakes.
I was being challenged by my own post by purposing to live a mistake-free life. I know that's just not possible. As long as we're in these earth suits, we'll be prone to missing the mark. But here's the good news: God is so quick to forgive us when we come to Him, and like the "correcting fluid" I used, "Wite-Out", God applies His "white-out" to our mistakes and not only covers them, but He makes us white as snow. "Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." Isaiah 1:18 His forgiveness really is divine.
I've come to know that focusing my attention on getting it right in my heart, attitude and life makes for a beautiful page in this chapter and book of my life. My daily prayers are “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 and "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God!" Psalm 19:4
Sunday, September 30, 2018
I was reminded of the “tawdry” story of Joseph in Genesis 37:1-36 and Genesis 39 to 41:57. You must read it for yourself. It’s a story of false accusations that turned into redemption. Here is a quick overview: Joseph’s brothers sold him to a caravan of traders who in turn sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt. Potiphar saw the Lord was with Joseph, and “that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and Potiphar left all that he had in Joseph’s charge." Wow! That is favor!
But, that’s when the plot thickens. Joseph was “handsome” and after a time, Potiphar’s wife began to "sexually harass" him as she asked him “to lie with her.” Joseph’s refusal of her advances was honorable. He reminded her of the trust that Potiphar had placed in him and described her intentions as “wickedness” and "sin". Joseph continued to resist her, but eventually, after being physically assaulted by her and his cloak stripped from him, he made the choice to flee. After his escape and arrest on false charges, Joseph seemed to have had no legal recourse.
Unfortunately, Joseph’s godliness didn’t rescue him from false accusation and imprisonment. Our godliness and good character is no guarantee that we will escape unscathed. But if we read on to the end of Joseph’s story, we see the favor of God on his life and how his redemption unfolded when he was promoted to Governor of Egypt and became the “savior” to his family and nation.
The story of Joseph is a story of hope that by God’s grace, good may eventually prevail in the situation. Joseph also provides a model for us, that even when we are falsely accused and wrongly treated, we carry on, living above approach, allowing God to make it right in the end.
I remarked to my daughter how important it is that we instruct our children and young people (and even the rest of us) to be careful who we hang out with and where we hang out; to be wise in our activities; to be above reproach in our decision making and being sure that we are in the right places at the right times. Only God and the individuals know the total truth in the Kavanaugh hearings. And, only God and you and I know about the mistakes we have made in our lives. Living our lives with the WWJD perspective: “What would Jesus do?” would most certainly help steer us in the right direction of living above reproach.
I heard this question asked: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Never has it been clearer, that character should be the highest priority for being trustworthy and credible to our children, our peers, our neighbors, our constituents, but most of all….to God. He has a front row seat in our lives. Our actions DO speak louder than words. It makes Dad so proud of His kids when He sees them “doing the right thing when no one is looking."
Psalm 119:9 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word."
Saturday, September 29, 2018
In front of the Rockefeller Center in New York, is this two ton, 45 feet tall bronze statue of the ancient Greek God, Atlas. Greek mythology explains that Atlas is carrying the world upon his shoulders, not as a testament to his strength and courage, but as a punishment for defying Zeus. Atlas has exaggerated muscles -- like many men I see these days in their muscle shirts to show off their muscle-bound bodies. Though their exteriors look like they have it all together, no doubt inside is a man that is struggling with the heavy loads of life he is carrying.
No one will get out of this world without carrying some really heavy loads. Atlas will never get out from under that world; the Man Who carried the Cross not only got out from under it, it led to His resurrection and a crown in life and life eternal. He offers that to us today. We can continue to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders or we can allow Him to carry our crosses, our weights and break free so we can, instead of carrying our world, revolutionize and remake our world.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Friday, September 28, 2018
As a kid in "public" grade school, I remember that "The Golden Rule" was taught, and emphatically brought to our remembrance when one of us needed discipline. It set the tone for our respect and appreciation for each other. Our teachers would quote it to a kid who was a bully (yes, there were bullies back in those days, too) or to a kid who was disrespectful to their teachers or peers.
Oh. My. Goodness. Why isn’t “The Golden Rule” more prominent in our schools, workplaces, homes, politics – literally, EVERYWHERE, today? Whatever our religious or faith persuasions might be, what a difference it would make if we lived our lives with adhering to those beautiful words from Matthew 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." If we made those words the absolute non-negotiable in our lives, this world would be such a better place.
If we want love, let us give love; if we want kindness, let us give kindness; if we want respect, let us give respect; if we want "innocent until proven guilty", let us judge others as "innocent until proven guilty". If we desire to not be judged, may we not judge others. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.
"The Golden Rule," is indeed a biblical principle. Luke 6:31 also records Jesus saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This statement is in the context of a lesson from Jesus about loving our enemies. Jesus led by example -- He treated people that way. Rather than doing to others what they have done to us or giving them what they may deserve, we are to treat them the way we want them to treat us.
If we lived by “The Golden Rule, just maybe we would be a conduit of living out Jesus' words as we treat others the way we want to be treated. "The Golden Rule" will be the best "rule of measure" we use daily to spread love and peace in our world.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Honestly, too many of us keep our Christianity in a closet. We heed the old admonishment to not discuss religion or politics. But, really? The two major discussion points for letting our lights shine are not be discussed? How can our voices be stifled when the voices of others who oppose God’s side are so loud?
I once worked for a technology company going through its beta-testing period. Giving our opinions about the systems were important for the engineers. I didn't want to “rock the boat”. I “hoped” it would all just work itself out and get better. Before long, I broke my silence after I heard someone say: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” That idiom means that the loudest (or most noticeable) people (or problems) are the ones to get the most attention. I hear those loud, noisy, angry, bitter, cranky, mocking-God-and-His-people voices in our world today; voices that oppose the 10 Commandments, God’s Word, morality, and God, Himself. Those people are getting so much attention these days because they are boisterous and loud. Christianity remains the largest religious group in the world at nearly a third (31%), yet we restrain our voices.
Jesus didn’t call us to be closet disciples. He gave us some stern warnings about denying Him. Matthew 10:33 says: “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Keeping our faith to ourselves isn’t the “light” that Jesus said we should be. He told us to go into all the world with Him. Our faith was made to be made public because we are called to evangelize the world and we cannot do that silently.
There are controversial groups who have “come out of the closet” and their voices are VERY, VERY loud. It’s time for us to stop hiding in our closets and declare Whose side we are on.
With this blog today, I’m proposing that we bravely use our “outside voices”. Election time is around the corner and we have the opportunity to make our voices heard. One of the greatest ways to be bold and loud as followers of Christ is to believe that politics really does matter. We better believe that these upcoming elections are important. We better believe that our vote makes a difference. I’m not saying that voting takes the place of preaching the gospel or feeding the poor or mentoring our children or having a personal relationship with God. Not a chance. But I am saying that voting for the principles in God’s Word will make a massive difference for our nation. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." Psalm 33:12
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Maybe you have that prayer, too. I asked God for her bright light to shine. I ask God for yours and my bright lights to shine today. At one time or another, we've all sung that little song, “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.” We know it, but do we actually let our little lights shine, especially when we've run out of a good battery charge?
Listen to the wise advice of the Apostle Paul who tells us how to keep our lights shining: “Do all things WITHOUT complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15). Just imagine the difference we could make in our homes, schools, neighborhoods, and businesses if we didn't complain about this, that and the other, and instead, presented our "LIGHT" with cheer and joy? Our lights could alter the atmosphere wherever we go. Our lights could literally dispel darkness and knowing scriptures like this one keeps our "light" battery charged up.
But what about those "light" drainers? It may be a negative comment or someone's bad mood or a surprising situation like a flat tire or a washing machine breaking down or a bad medical report or any other bad news coming our way. The "stuff of life" can drain our "battery" with doubt, worry, and negativity. What may have started out as an occasional little loss of energy that weakens our light, can soon become a bolt of lightning that trips a breaker that completely shuts down our light, our energy and enthusiasm altogether. That's why keeping "charged up" with God's Word will keep our lights burning brightly that will cause the darkness around us to flee -- not so much by what we say....but what we do in spite of our own circumstances. Others are watching how we demonstrate God's love, peace, and joy -- right in the middle of some of our darkest times.
We can make a conscious effort to be sure our little lights are backed up with God's Word as our eternal backup source and we'll be bright and shining lights all the time -- right in the midst of negativity and all the "stuff" being sent our way. St. Paul reminds us, "you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." (Ephesians 5:8).
That's what the darkness needs -- in spite of our circumstances and the darkness around us -- it needs LIGHTS that conquer every opposing force. People will be thinking "How can they be so peaceful, full of joy and hope -- when I know they're going through the stuff of life, just like me?" Before long, they'll get it. They'll know it. And they'll want it, too! "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16.