Through It All

Keep Walking

Exodus 14:13-16 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

Most churches have used the anthem “No Longer Slaves” in the worship set as it has grown in popularity. The bridge of the song belted out “You split the sea so I could walk right through it… My fears were drowned in perfect love…You rescued me, so I can stand and sing…I am a Child of God. Such an empowering message, which makes the one praising and worshiping God in that corporate moment feel strong and immovable. Right? At least I do. It reminds me of all the times God has brought me through tough even tragic situations. The times that I thought I couldn’t find my next breath much less my next step. Church ends and life begins again.

How do I carry that mentality from church into real life? The feeling of strength and power when all hell is breaking loose in my life. How do I maintain confident trust in the Lord when the walls of water around me grow tumultuous? How do I hold an anchor that I cannot see or feel the weight of? I don’t know about you but I think walking on water seems preferable to “drowning” in perfect love. You know having the faith to walk with Jesus above the wind and waves. Need I remind you, Peter jumped out of the boat by faith but found that his heart was not ready for the journey so he immediately sank…let’s read about it.

Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Different scenario same God. While the Egyptians pursed the Israelites, there didn’t seem to be a real choice in the faith matter. Either walk through the Red Sea or die on the beach, not favorable but definitely with great reward. The boat was being beaten by the winds and waves. The disciples were afraid. Jesus came to them walking on the water. He did not split the sea or calm the storm yet but when Peter asked to come to him. Ever hear the song, “Oceans”…ever sang it out loud. We ask the Lord to challenge us, take us deeper, move us closer to Him, allow us to live in His Presence but when the opportunity comes – our flesh fails. Faith is clearly too small to keep us buoyant. The Lord faithfully, loving and always reaches down to catch us. It took a whole lot of faith to walk between two walls of suspended water but the people had no choice it was move or die. Peter had a choice. Intrigued by Jesus, he thought he was ready to walk with the Lord. When his feet hit the water, I believe that Peter thought Jesus would impart some super power to him and he would magically stay on top of the water. Not the case then and not the case now.

Our super power is faith. But just like every other super hero, it takes time to cultivate our power into something tangible, useful and, yes, even powerful. For a new driver, putting the right foot on the accelerator and pushing it down hard the first time seems exhilarating and easy at first. The powerful force of the engine engaging as sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel while our entire body is catapulted forward makes us think maybe there is more to this than I thought. At least, I hope so. Faith is powerful but it comes in raw form. It is dispensed in our heart as a small measure and left up to us if it will remain a seed or be harvested into a mighty force. However, my power is not in myself. It is not part of my being. It is the Christ in me. In order to find the power invested in me by my Creator and see it manifest in my life – there will be pressure applied to my life to force it out.

Whether external (as the Israelites experienced) or internal (as Peter experienced) – faith is the power that God desires to express from our life. What if that thing that is pressing, pushing or bearing down upon you is not to overtake you but rather to move you to something better? What if He is moving you from a mundane life to supernatural existence? Could it be that you have somehow settled for less than enough when the Lord has more than enough instore for you? Or maybe just maybe there is more than you can think, ask or imagine that stinking thinking has stopped you from dreaming and doing? The Lord will never leave you in Egypt. He won’t let you drown in fear and doubt. He has already given you every spiritual blessing now you just have to go after it, reach out to take hold of it or move to where the promise is!

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned means that you already have been apportioned the faith you need to be triumphant and victorious in every situation. It is in you. It came with Christ. Now what are you going to do with it? What did the Lord say to Moses when he came to them relaying the fear of the people in the midst of their complaining? He said, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” God has given you faith and power. Jesus has given you the grace to make it through. All that is left to do is what He tells us to. We must go through it. Peter asked. Jesus answered. Sure, come to me. The disciple who followed Jesus, heard Him teach the Word, saw Him perform mighty miracles, and was overwhelmed by all the followers. He definitely knew the Lord but his faith was still too small to make it a few feet on top of the water. The cry of the living sacrifice is give me faith to give more of me. I believe the Lord is telling us that He already gave it to us now it is time to do something with it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

For we (are to) walk by faith and not by sight. I have added that “are to” because if it were that easy our churches would like fearlessly in a state of ongoing revival. Flesh would not weigh us down but faith create a light so bright it would illuminate the world with God’s Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The only way to know what measure of faith evident in our life is through testing. When I make a cake, I measure the ingredients to ensure it will be delicious. Any good recipe has a process, it takes time, and one must go through all the steps using the proper ingredients. Our life in Christ is the same.

We are free to choose the amount of faith cultivated in our life but the measure is the same. It starts small but has the potential to turn into something big. The Lord is our courage. He is our strength. He promises victory to those who trust Him, follow Him, and stay with Him. I cannot do that where I am now but must keep walking no matter how relentless the enemy or overwhelming the storm. Eyes on Jesus not my circumstances. Faith entrusted and invested in Him not the evidence of my life. He is faithful. He knows it’s going to take some time – that’s why the Lord blesses endurance with salvation and life. He knows that I will mess up, my flesh will fail but Jesus promises that His Grace is enough for me and will work even better in my humble weakness.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I only know my own struggles and battles but I know this. God is good. He is faithful. He will help me if I trust Him. He will give me courage. He will be my strength. He is constant and unfailing. The Lord always responds to my cries. He has never left me or forsaken me even when I have given up myself. See the Lord gave you and I faith because He has something bigger and better for us. If only, we will keep moving, breathing and existing in Him until we have it. This is what we hope must for and truly believe. Do you feel pressure? Do you feel pushed to make a move? Seek the Lord today. Call on His Name. Ask Him for direction. Offer your heart and mind to Him for careful inspection. Let Him weed out those thoughts that have you all tangled up. Sometimes just seeing things from God’s Perspective or tying His Promise to your problem will lift your head up to see that help has arrive. His Name is Jesus. He overcame the world…let Him overtake your heart. He will walk through it with you!

Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all the psalms. It is about the constancy of Christ even though He is called the Shepherd. I could elaborate on the first verse endlessly never moving on to the rest. When Jesus becomes our Provider, Protector and Providence – there is nothing more valuable or desirable to be found. He is constant. He is sovereign. He is faithful. Always good. Forever gracious. His Loving Care and Kindness is endless. He always offers me more, better, fruitful, and productive opportunities in life. However, this knowledge and understanding comes at a price.

It takes trust. It requires time. It is to invest a footstep in following rather than leading the way. It is to submit the most precious commodity given in order to receive forever. It is a risk in the beginning. How do I know? Where will I go? What will I do? Will it be worth it? The second part of verse one is an achievement of soul satisfaction. Jesus promised to give us a rich and satisfying life which the enemy has decide to steal, kill and destroy if at all possible. This is the journey of life. The ebb and flow of our flesh and spirit as one attempts to surrender our only thing of value to a Savior of infinite worth. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want is not one-sided statement but a partnership. The Lord is my Shepherd. He is doing His Part. I do not want because I have invested my life and my soul is satisfied.

The enemy cannot take anything from us that we are not willing to give. Any part of our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is heavily guarded by the One who is victorious and overcame the world. There is nothing invested in the Kingdom that the enemy can lay claim to or take hold of. Someone needed to hear that today. Our eyes keep looking at the giants rather than staying focused on our champion. He is bigger, greater and more powerful. The Shepherd is not meek but a fearless and faithful warrior who will not leave a single one behind who desires to be found.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

The peaks and valleys of life are inevitable. Jesus did not come to save the world. The tumultuous journey and path chosen by darkness is written and confirmed. The earth as we know it will pass away one day despite our stewardship of it. Jesus came for me and you. He loves me and you. His Greatest and Most Earnest Intent on the Cross was to have a relationship with us. The very first thing His Spirit did was to tear the veil that once separated mankind from God’s Presence from top to bottom. It was clear in that moment that our Savior and Lord’s Desire was for us. A personal and intimate journey through life into eternity with us. He is ready to escort us through a world where love has grown cold and sin rampant. Where bad things happen to good people. To a place where sickness and disease snatches innocent children. A place where mental illness plagues many as the tormentor and accuser hisses in their ears. See this world is not going to get better. It has an end. Enoch lived a life pleasing to God immersed in His Presence so one day he just disappeared. I believe Enoch to be just as human as you and I. I am sure some days were great and some a struggle. The consistency of His Life and Love was God.

The last week has been a challenge. The past few months a struggle. However, in the midst of the hardship, hurt and even uncertainty, I have found Psalm 23 to be true all over again. Life with Christ is not always level paths. There will be peaks. There will be valleys. Even plateaus that make some wonder if the Lord really will do as He promised. I have visited all three time and time again. I have a choice in these challenges. I can change and be changed or remain subject to the roller coaster of life. I can remain yoked to Christ or decide to do this on my own. When I remain faithful, I find that His Goodness and mercy are right behind me and overtake me on a regular basis. Not because I have done it all right, or even gotten a single point of the learning experience, but simply because God is faithful. He is constant. He does not change. What if I could for a moment establish such constancy with Christ?

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

About five years ago, I gave up control of my life. It was not a beautiful surrender or sweet submission. It was the moment that I realized I have absolutely no control over the daily outcomes in my life. I cannot provide, protect, or prevent anything in the life of those I love. I cannot fulfill God’s Promises of healing, deliverance or salvation. I am but a mere human being who is dearly loved by the All Mighty. Something in me has changed. At first, I thought it was a survival mode mentality that would surely change when danger passed and disaster was averted. It didn’t change at all. Normal was shattered. New life had begun. It was uncomfortable. It was not convenient. It was my complete undoing. Things are so much better now.

There is a song by Bethel called “All I Know Your Love Endures”. I found it on YouTube this week looking for comfort. A new song. Something to sing walking through the darkness of the valley. The chorus is “all I know is this Your Love endures through every change…I am sure of it Your Love endures it will remain.” Do you believe that today? Can you sing such a love song in the midst of uncertainty, climbing the rough side of the mountain, or on those days when the Light of His Love appears as only a faint flicker in a distance just too far to traverse? The bridge says this “Emmanuel…Your every word sustaining…your nearness is my victory…from summits and in valleys I’ll sing.” I encourage you to find this powerful worship song and listen to it over and over. Our victory in Jesus Christ is not in our ability to make it up the mountain or through the valley but to allow Him to be our constant. To be our song from the highest peak and into the depths of the wildest sea. Deep calls to deep not to wade in the murky and stagnant waters of complacency. God is greater than the highs and lows in life. We say it, wear it, and recite it but when it makes its way into our heart and soul enough to believe it. It is then that our delight will be the Lord and His Unfailing Love, Goodness and Mercy will sweep us into His Presence. As our soul prospers so will we despite the challenges and struggles of life. Not because of our faithfulness but simply because He is faithful. Thank you Lord! You are the Good Shepherd. I do not want but only desire more of You!

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

As Soon As

As Soon As.jpg

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (Message) This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

“As soon as”…the prequalification or prerequisite factor – the waiting game called life. As a child, such a statement seems terminal when it calls for patience that last more than five minutes. Sometimes even that is a stretch for those with infernal impatience such as myself. At least in the natural when someone says, “as soon as” there is an element of gratification as one can watch and see as they fulfill the ordered list on the way to fulfillment. And then there is faith, hope and God. God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as”… then I will.

These words are the most difficult because it is hard enough to see the Lord’s inner workings or His Mighty Hand come in to play. Hindsight is generally 20/20 with God but what is right in front of us elusive. Faith and hope are the qualities that God is developing in us by teaching us to love, lean and trust Him more. Oh what a difficult task especially when the stakes may seem quite high. As soon as…and not a day more. Faith keeps us waiting until as soon as comes. Hope makes waiting worth every minute. In the meantime…

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.” There are days that I feel as though I am living in exile. Those seasons when the conditions and circumstances of my life do not line up with the Word of God. The times when I stepped out in faith and feel like I am still floating rather than walking on water or swimming in the depths of the deep to which He has called me. These are the times when trust is our portion and confidence is our hope. The “what we know” of God and foundation called Christ keep us from falling. God promises that He will show up. He will do just as He promised. There will be the rejoicing of “being brought back home” from this place of invisible exile…if I am just patient and wait on Him.

“I know what I am doing.” Depends on who is driving…I guess. I remember getting in the car with our first new driver. The moment that he started the car, I knew I was in trouble. He was ready to throw it in reverse and speed out of the driveway. I patiently (or at least I thought I was calm) asked him to wait while I reiterated instructions and safety measures that I felt necessary. He rolled his eyes and told me, “I know what I am doing.” I did not believe him. He pulled out, slammed on the brakes, changed gears, and floored it the three houses to the corner and stopped for the stop sign halfway in the road of the intersection. He then graciously turned on the blinker and before I could catch my breath was off again. The only word that I could utter was “stop”! He seemed confused. No, I demanded he stop right there and pull into the neighbor’s driveway. I got out of the car and walked all the way home officially resigning from my position as driver’s education mom. Walking in the house, my husband said calmly, “That was quick, how did it go?” “Terrible.” I responded. He inquired as to the well-being of our son with “Where is he?” I replied, “Probably in the driveway up the street where I left him!” As I walked into our room and shut the door. Like any good dad, my husband retrieved our son and taught him how to drive.

When I got into the car with our son that day, I knew full well that he was a newbie. I was well aware of his inexperience. It was his lack of trust and unwillingness to pay attention that drove me out of the vehicle that day. God keeps telling me day after day, “I know what I am doing.” Some days I sit back and enjoy the ride trusting that He is God. He is a good father. He loves me with all of His Heart and knows what is best for me. And then…there are all those other days when I don’t and try to take the wheel and drive to my own destination.

I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Psalm 139:16 tells me that “like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” If this is true (which I believe that it is), it means that God knows every moment of every single day of my life before I take a single step or breathe within it. He knows all the good times and all the not so good times that will come. He understands that some days I will get this thing called faith right walking in faithful, humble obedience and then days that I come in like a wrecking ball. Like a carefully constructed school lunch, God gives me mercy each morning and on every bad day, a snack of grace at night. I have everything that I need to successfully live out God’s Plan and Purpose despite my fickle heart and rebellious flesh. God prepared it for me when He designed my life. Challenges are opportunities to experience the championship of faith. Pressure gives way to Presence in my life. Every difficult thing interwoven with His Plan for my Destiny and Divine Destination.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG) The come-from-behind promise of God that ensures as His People, as His Precious Children, that we cannot and will not miss an ounce of His Goodness or single provision of His Plan and Purpose is that He works “every detail of our lives” into something good. All that is required is loving Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (Message) “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

What if while waiting on the Lord, I am not waiting on Him at all but rather He is waiting on me? Is it possible that God has His Act together but I am the one struggling? Sure it is. We take an ounce of knowledge and try to work it into absolute wisdom. God’s Thoughts are higher than my thoughts and so are His Ways, yet somehow in my human finite thinking I take a word or wisp of truth and try to build my whole life on it. I know I am the only one so just bear with me while I work this out. What if we replace the word “when” with the words “as soon as”? It would go something like this:

When As soon as you call on me, when as soon as you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When As soon as you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when as soon as you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

What if the ball is in my court and rather than “as soon as” being God’s next move rather He is waiting on my next move. Will it be closer to Him? Will I decide to come to Him? Will I decide to pray? Will I begin searching for the Lord wholeheartedly? Will I get serious about this life after God’s Own Heart? Will there be a day when I want Him MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? The promise to those who make their way to this place is that the Lord will “make sure you won’t be disappointment.” Hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is not reserved for what we can see, do or logically make happen in our life. It is evidenced by faith in the substance that we cannot perceived naturally with our senses or logically with our mind but know to be true because He lives in us. Perhaps, I need to spend my time waiting on the Lord doing something different. It is not God’s Move but mine that He is waiting on today.

Psalm 27:7-9 (Message) Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 NLT) I love this verse so much. It has been on my heart a lot lately. You know with five kids, I hear the word “mom” all the time. It catches my attention even when it is not my own brood. My husband and I were riding in the minivan one day filled to overflowing with all the children. I was driving and not really paying attention to the banter in the back. When suddenly, he blurted out in a stern voice, “Don’t you hear them calling you?” Apparently, the peanut gallery had been saying, “Mom…mom…mom” and I didn’t respond to them because basically I had tuned them out. It happens. However, let one of them cry out in fear, hurt or distress and I can hear them across the house, outside, down the street or in the next county. There is a difference in the sound of their cry. I believe that God always listens when we speak to Him. He hears our every word. However, I also believe that our conversations with the Lord become mindless chatter over time. A check off on the to-do list of godliness rather than a personal and intimate conversation with the Lover of our soul and the One our soul loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Message) How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“As soon as” can mean waiting on the Lord but most of the time I believe that He is waiting on us. Our response to God’s Promises is faith and confidence that this hope we have is valid, authentic and real enough to pursue with passion each day. We put our passion into so many worthless things when the reality of Christ is that God has already blessed us with every good thing that He has. We are made with purpose on the verge of prosperity if only one might make their way into His Presence choosing to live there. His Presence is our promised land. It is not a religious place filled with routine, ritual or tradition. It is not a place of performance or service. It is the place where we come to know and respond by wanting Jesus more than anything else – as soon as will be accomplished. Everything I need, want and desire is fulfilled in the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ is offering me. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me. Nothing is impossible for those who live by faith not fear. As soon as, I learn to live, move, exist and breathe in the midst of His Presence – I believe that the time will pass and so will the season. It will be time to harvest from all those tears, find joy in the midst of mourning and I will be restored, revived and renewed just as He promised. As soon as…

Isaiah 30:18 (Message) But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Time To Prophesy

Time To Prophesy

Romans 4:16-17 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

“Prophesy over your life.” I could hear the soft whisper and feel the gentle stirring as the Lord is nudging me a little. It is not a weird sensation or awkward urge just a tender bit of encouragement from an enormous God who has extravagant plans for my life…and yours, too. In the overt move across the nation to neutralize God and disembody Christ’s Church, I wonder if the effectiveness of such an overture is because we do not hear and respond to the Lord on a personal basis or in an intimate setting. Is our striving for a relationship or to maintain a religious agenda limiting our effectiveness? Oh don’t get me wrong. I love church. It is one of my favorite places to be. I love to praise. Worship. Fellowship. Learn. Encourage and be encouraged. However, I must be honest. I have been to many churches over my lifetime which means I guess I haven’t found the right one or the One lives in me keeps moving me. I have discovered in times of perplexity if I call out to the Lord for help He rushes in to offer it but it is usually not with a way to help or change others but an inward push to change me.

May I be honest and a bit transparent today? Ok, thanks! I have struggled with discouragement over the last couple of weeks. You know the times and seasons when you wonder if you made a wrong turn, got ahead of the Lord or maybe have fallen out of step. Looking around, life does not look like you expected. You are provided for but not necessarily prospering the way God’s Word says you will. The Word of God and His Promises have not yet come to pass. The blessings in your life are obvious but not exceedingly and abundantly more than you can think or ask. Like a long trip to a new destination, when it takes a little too long, or maybe you begin to question the directions given so you begin to look back and see if maybe you missed a turn along the way. Usually, it happens right before the next turn comes or you arrive. I know God’s Word. I believe it is true. I know the Lord is good. He is faithful. He is true. Now what? God is telling me to prophesy.

Such a churchy word, prophesy. Surely you have to have a master’s degree in theology and some kind of super anointing to be that guy or girl who prophesies, right? Nope. Not at all. In Joel 2:28, it says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” Across all translations it is consistent in translation that God will pour out His Spirit and ALL PEOPLE will prophesy. In Acts 2:17-18, on the Day of Pentecost, it happened for the first time in a group setting. Peter reminded everyone of the prophet’s words. I remember sitting in my first “full gospel” church. I quiet woman who was very shy was two rows ahead of us. At the end of the service, everyone had their heads bowed and eyes closed in prayer and she started shouting and speaking in tongues. My head shot up and my eyes opened. She was giving a prophetic word to the church. The pastor gave an interpretation and I whispered to the Lord, “Please don’t ever do that to me.” Well, I have recanted on those words and asked forgiveness. I know that such things are doctrinally challenging and hair-splitters for congregations but the point of my sharing this is that God promised that EVERYONE who is Spirit-filled will prophesy. You. Me. Everyone.

Now before you make the same mistake that I did, let’s talk about prophesy and what it really is. To prophesy is to declare or foretell by divine inspiration. Pretty cool, huh. Romans 10:19 tells us that if we “declare” with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that salvation is fully accomplished. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God tore the veil in the temple from top to bottom so now nothing could stop us from living in His Presence. It also began to raise the dead. Immediately. Opening graves and pulling out people. When Jesus rose again, He said, “I will send the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit (will come) and fill you with the Power of Heaven,” (Luke 24:49) Most people who call themselves Christians agree on these points. The disagreement is in manifestation. So let’s talk about prophesy specifically according to the Scripture so we can be empowered by it today.

The promise comes by faith. It’s true. Faith gives substance to what is believed. Faith pleases God. Faith makes the impossible possible even in the smallest measure. In Romans 4:17, the New International Version tells us about the father of faith – Abraham. What did Abraham do that was so great? He believed in the God who gives life to the dead AND “calls into being things that were not.” The Bible is filled with great potential for believers. However, I think most if not all would agree that many things have not come to pass in our life. Therefore, it is a book of prophesy…right? Could the basic elements of prophesy begin by something as simple as declaring God’s Word over our life?

Ezekiel 37:4-10 (NIV) Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

“The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21) Oh, if we only believed that to be true. We would be so careful to make sure the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart agreed. (Psalm 19:14) This is the part where I get really excited and don’t want to finish writing but just bask in the Presence of my Precious God. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!” We have been given a book filled by divine inspiration promises and blessings yet to be discovered in our life. We have the Word of God. It belongs to us. Every single thing in God’s Word is mine. He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him until it completely accomplished what it was sent out to do. If God speaks to you in a dream or vision (again Joel 2:28 says that He will), it remains circulating in your life until it comes to pass. We have been given a prophetic vocabulary. Why are we withholding it? Hmm…

So I prophesied as commanded…the prophet obeyed God. Did what He told him to do. The bones came together. The Word of God did exactly as promised but there was no life in the bones. Hang on. Simple obedience like sowing and reaping will perform as expected each time. What is planted will grow.  Religiosity will draw people together but the Spirit gives life. It is the Breath of God that sparks revival, fuels renewal and builds a vast army called the Body of Christ into a living, breathing form. In John 4, Jesus meets the woman at the well. He tells her that the time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. We must allow God’s Word and Spirit to work its way from inside of us outside of us. We must not only speak the Word of God but give it life in our breath by believing it. The Spirit and Truth belong to us. Live in us. Work all things together for our good and God’s Glory when we begin to obey the Lord and speak to the dry, dead areas of our life the Word of God and release His Spirit to do what God promised to do. Jesus said, “The very words I speak are truth and life.” It is time to prophesy.

I Corinthians 14:1-4 (NLT) Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

There is a difference between speaking in tongues and prophecy. There I have said it. Everyone groan and cringe if necessary. I will give you a moment to reposition yourself in your seat. I am going merely on the Word of God here. Love should always be our highest goal. Love for God. Love for Jesus. Love for people. You should desire the Gifts of the Spirit beginning with the Fruit of the Spirit – absolutely. Speaking in tongues is a prayer language between us and the Father. I do believe in the gift of tongues. I do not believe that you must have this gift to be fully effective as a believer. It is a gift from God to us. We have the option to use it or not. The ability to prophesy is also a gift. The Word of God in this passage tells us that we should desire the gift of prophesy more than any other gift. When I pray in tongues, it edifies me. It is for my relationship with Jesus Christ and our communication. When I prophesy, it takes the Word of God in me and allows the Spirit of God to breathe life in it and it pours out on others. When I teach a Bible Study, I love it when people see Jesus like I do. I love it when they see themselves in God’s Word. For them to experience just the slightest essence of God’s Love gives me an overwhelming rush because God really is that good. The one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. What better way to represent the Awesome God who loves us so much.

This discouragement I have felt was linked to the circumstances of life and my current condition but as I prophesy God’s Word over my life and now share it with you – I am encouraged. Prophesy is the very thing that the church needs. In the most practical form, we have all the elements needed to project God’s Blessing, His Purpose, and His Plan to others wrapped tightly in His Love. The Word of God for my life is power. His Spirit is the result of grace that is more than enough when I am not which is most of the time. What would happen if rather than getting stuck in ourselves, wrapped up in religion, and caught up in disputes if we all just began to prophesy life to all the dry, dead and broken things in our life and church and community? What is the potential? Every promise of God is the potential. A strong and sound Body to be the Bride. So many possibilities if we only believe enough to prophesy in our life and others today. Prophecy is the practical application of God’s Word in every conversation. It is to breathe life in dead things and see them come back to life. It is to encourage. It is simple It is not my job to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ palatable or preferable…just to prophesy and watch dead things come to life. I have the power to change my life. The Spirit of the Living God lives in me and His Word is my inheritance. It is time to prophesy in my natural life what already is in the Heavenly Realm. It will prosper my life and encourage others if I simple take the time to prophesy.

John 6:63 (NLT) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

 

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

One More Step

One More Step.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

One more step. Just one more step. What if my purpose will be revealed in the very next footfall? What if my potential will be realized in just the span of one foot length? What if I am that close to a breakthrough but too tired to move? What if the door is finally open but I choose to stop and turn away? One more step. The Lord is asking us to trust Him for the next step in our life not the summation of our destination. Too many times our focal point is not the finite but much farther ahead than human eyes could ever see. Determining our destination by a divine moment than God’s Plan – we take His Whisper and whip it into our own idea, concept or goal rather than patiently and confidently waiting on the Lord to show us the very next step.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. If you read this verse and think about it, the Goodness of God will begin a spark in your heart today. The Lord directs our steps. Is this a good thing…always? Well, it is if you continue reading “He delights in every detail of our lives.” What about the tough times? Heartbreaking situations? Overwhelming circumstances? Chaotic situations? What about those steps…are they divinely ordered because the Lord delights in us? Absolutely. Romans 8:28 is our guarantee. God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them. What is my purpose? To love God. Do I? Well, of course I do. Do I always get it right? Nope. Do I fall, fail, and mess up? Constantly. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that no matter what if I love and desire God – I will always find myself in His Goodness. Always.

How can this be possible with all the sickness, hardship, trauma and terror in this world? The good die young while evil prospers. The rich get richer and the poor die in poverty. Love is cold and growing more so every minute. Sin has taken over. Perverted thoughts and skewed thinking rule the world in which we live. Jesus has not fallen off His Throne. He has not turned His Back on us. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are permitted to choose our steps each and every one to our liking and choosing. God put mankind out of the garden not because He was mad at us or hated us but to save us from the torture of living forever in a deteriorating condition as a result of sin. Can you even imagine? A terminal cancer patient who can never be whisked away from pain and suffering into the Arms of Jesus? Death would be our escape and sudden release from the condition caused by our rebellion. We made the choice to turn our back on God that day. He made the choice to love us any way and make a way for our return.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Discipline will always move us away from disqualification. Discipline keeps our feet on the path when our heart looks back or tries to wander of. Discipline is the stairway to goals and achievement. Discipline focuses on the end goal not all the steps that make their way to it. If God showed us the summation of our life from the beginning most of us would quit right then and there. If we could see our life without God’s Plan to teach us things like persistence, patience and endurance – it would be so overwhelming many would never take the first step – let alone another one. God has planted purpose in each and every step that I take. His Plan is a good one and comes with a future and hope. Discipline requires a wholehearted effort and so does the Plan of God. No halfsies. You must desire the Lord with your whole heart to trust Him without borders. To go where you have never been. Do what you never thought you could do? Be exactly who God created and called you to be.

I Samuel 17:38-40 (NLT) Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

David obeyed his father’s directive to go to the battlefield to take his brothers food and supplies. He was then to bring back a report on their condition and news from the front. David followed his father’s directions. It seemed like just another monotonous task yet he did it. Upon arrival, each step led him from shepherd to warrior to giant killer in the span of one afternoon. I wonder where God is leading you today. Is today that one step will turn into victory? Is today the day you kill the giant who has been taunting and threatening your life? You will never know if you do not take the first step. David’s journey to the battlefield did not begin that day. It was a series of steps. Each one in obedience to someone or something in his heart, and know he would become a name everyone knew. He would become a giant killer. He would be victorious and his story recorded in the Word of God for all to read and glean from. What is your story? There is no way that you could possibly know because His Thoughts are so much higher than our own. The Lord is preparing a blessing far greater than you can think, ask or imagine. He is leading you to it. Are you following?

Here is something else from this passage that I believe is wisdom from on high. God has placed purpose in each and every one of our steps. He has planned, prepared and equipped us to overcome and achieve victory in our life. The absolute worst thing to do in such a situation is try to do it our way, be someone who we are not, or follow the advice, direction or leading of anyone other than the Lord. David was fully armed to take down the giant that day. God sent him into battle with everything he needed to overcome. If he had worn someone else’s armor or yielded a borrowed sword, I do not believe that David would have triumphed. We must have confidence, not only in God’s Plan, but that He has fully equipped us to achieve our goals and triumph in each battle. Faith is worth more than any other commodity used to fight. Grace keeps us moving in the right direction. Discipline will always lead to success. Obedience to God may lead us right to the battlefield but it comes with the promise to triumph.

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

I do not believe in random fate. I do not ascribe to coincidence. I believe that no matter how I set out today that God is with me and in complete control. Even when I choose a different direction than where He is leading me, His Unfailing Love and Goodness is still in hot pursuit. Like a sheepdog herding wandering sheep, I believe God and His Spirit are constantly encircling me, directing me, leading me, and guiding me just like the Lord has promised. On especially difficult days, it is hard to see God’s Purpose, His Plan or even experience His Presence, but if I decide to take just one more step – I will find Him right there waiting for me. God is with me. Christ lives in me. Where I go – He goes. Where He goes – I want to be.

In John 18:4-5, Jesus is in the garden. He went there to pray. But now the Temple guards were there, things were beginning to come together. And the Word of God says, “Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him.” God’s Plan fully revealed. It was going to be rough. It would be horrible and torturous. He thought I was worth it, so you know what Jesus my precious and loving Savior did? “So He stepped forward…”The Lord took one more step. I don’t know what you are facing. The last few weeks have been challenging in my life. The thought of leaving this quiet place in the Presence of God is disheartening, but God is with me. He is where my help comes from. He promises that my steps are ordered. He tells us that He delights in every detail of my life. Is there blessing even in the bad days? Yes, according to His Word. How will I find it? Taking one more step…

Proverbs 20:24 (NLT) The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

After walking through a long season of waiting and a time where two steps forward seemed to result in three steps backward, I have seen God change my mode of operation. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have no reason to look back. Anything in my past worst having the Lord is more than capable to bring into my future. Micah 6:8 has become one of my most favorite verses, “…The Lord has told you what is good and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” It is so simple. Not hard to understand or follow. There are some things in my life that don’t add up or make sense according to His Goodness or His Glory and these are the things that might hinder my next step if I hadn’t decided to just trust the Lord and keep walking.

In Acts 2:14, the Holy Spirit had finally come to fill us. The Day of Pentecost must have been quite a party. It would also be the consummation of purpose in a man named Peter. The same Peter who said that he would die for Christ yet denied him not once but three times just hours before His Death on the Cross. Same Peter just kept following Jesus. He stepped out of hiding into purpose that day. You never know if today is the day that your purpose in Christ will be revealed. It doesn’t matter the outlook or forecast today – the Lord directs our steps. To overthink and scrutinize our course according to our expectation leads to discouragement. We have a hope that never ever leads to disappoint. The power or purpose is not in my next step but the Power of the One inside me who has already planned, prepared and promised me a rich and satisfying life. He is directing my steps right to it. He will lead me there if I just follow Him. This is not an act of service or according to any ability that I have. It is based solely and completely of faith and trust in God’s Love for me. Do not despise small beginnings. Rejoice in every victory even those that seem insignificant. Take the next step today. Do not be afraid to move ahead. Simply walk humbly with your God. All the Power, Potential and Promises of Your Father are carefully laid out before you – you are headed in the right direction…as long as you take one more step.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT) So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Reviving Relationships

Reviving Relationships

Proverbs 11:30 (NLT) The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.

It’s a girl’s weekend – Woo Hoo! My mom, sister, sister-in-love, oldest daughter and I have ventured to a women’s conference out of town. Over the years, the Lord has grown our family and knit us together beyond the commitment of family to the covenant of friendship. We do not get to choose our familial relationships. It is ordained by God and heredity. However, friends are not the same. We do decide who is allowed in the inner circle of our lives. Those who can be trusted to share life with beyond superficial communication and ordinary contact. Some people are wonderful at maintaining such connections. Thoughtful and dedicated to each relationship. Others not so much. I see it in my own family among my children. Some are social and make friends easily. Some not so much. Others gather friends easily and others move from one friend to the next.

It always happens once reconnected with these ladies. I remember how much I love them and miss them in my everyday life. We live in different places. From Missouri to New Hampshire to Florida, yet put us in a room together and the laughter begins to flow as words and stories fill the room. I love that. I cherish that. We are called to be friends and have friends. God loves relationship. He loves friendship. He created families and encourages us to be friends. Yet, the enemy attacks such a kinship daily. Strife lingers in most families deemed imperfect and dysfunctional. It’s not a people problem. It is a sin problem. The only solution for sin is the Blood of Jesus that provides us a sufficiency of grace to draw from and spread all around.

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life. Each day our life is comprised of a series of sowing and reaping. Planting seeds for the next season and harvesting the crops of the last. Those who sow love, grace and friendship will receive the same. But if I feel alone, isolated and lacking in this area, the Lord will provide every seed I need to sow it into my future. Wise people are those who sow God’s Word in their life to allow its promises to grow will make the decision to pursue relationships and work to maintain them. Why? It fills our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness as it multiplies around us.

Luke 1:39-42 (NLT) A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

As many know, Elizabeth carried John the Baptist who would become the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Mary had just been told by the angel that she was carrying the Son of God. Jesus and John the Baptist were destine for friendship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary chose to go to her cousin who must have been her friend and confidant to share her good news. When she arrived on the threshold of Elizabeth’s home, the baby inside of her swelling form leapt with joy. It says that in that moment, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. God has made an investment in those who He predestined for relationship. The seeds in others hidden for us as a deposit to be discovered in the midst of friendship. He ordained this between Mary and Elizabeth. He also ordered it for the next generation – Jesus and John.

We must learn the value of friendship. If we understand that it is ordained by the Lord and blessed by the same, it will become worthwhile. It is essential to becoming the Body of Christ rather than a dysfunctional and barren union that lacks productivity or prosperity. Friendships should be evident in the Body – the whole Bride of Christ is to be presented without blemish or handicap to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords which is not possible if it is all torn apart. Relationships are messy. Family drama just plain foolishness. It is much easier to shake the dust off our feet and walk away then to fully engage and fight for friendship. The Lord has blessed friendship. He loves harmony above all things.

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV) How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

I struggle reading the story of Job. Engaged in the good fight for faith in the midst of great tragedy and devastation, I find his friends religious and annoying. They are constantly berating him and accusing him and seemingly judging him. I wonder why Job keeps answering their knock on the door. I think as I sat scraping my sores with fragments of pottery with a broken heart and tear-stained face that I would probably respond to their intrusion with a “go jump of Mount Sinai” retort. Job continues to engage with them. It was well worth his time. In Job 42, the Lord instructs Job to pray for his friends and so he does. It is immediately following the restoration of friendship through forgiveness that “the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10) Could there be a blessing that we are missing due to an unwillingness to nurture and maintain friendships in life? Absolutely! What the Lord does for others He will do for us? He has no favorites. I am God’s Favorite Child just like you are.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Elizabeth and Mary experienced the Power of Agreement when two friends become one by faith. The Holy Spirit joined them right then and there. This is the same promise given to us by Jesus in this passage. Ecclesiastes 4:12 elaborates with A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Relationship is God’s Security in our life as it unites the Body of Christ in to a faith-fighting machine. The enemy is powerless against God’s People standing together as one. We must seek to agree with our family and build strong bonds of friendship within each structure. Our families include those given by birth or joined by association. Any seed of potential friendship that is not cultivated is purpose left to die in the ground. Real friends have bonds closer than family ties. (Proverbs 18:24) It takes work. It requires our attention. We need the Fruit of God’s Spirit to feed and nourish godly relationships in our life to build long lasting and diehard friendships. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) It smooths rough edges and breaks off hard parts especially in our hearts. We need those kinds of friends to grow, mature and develop in our walk with the Lord. They are the very ones who God uses to speak instruction, wisdom and direction into our lives. These are the ones who will be His Voice to us. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is valuable and sweet. (Proverbs 27:9) The Lord has hidden treasure in each one to be unearthed and bound in Heaven to experience blessings only given by a good, good God!

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

If we only knew the promise hidden in real abiding relationships called friendship, I believe it would become a priority in our life. God has given us such an opportunity to be empowered by investing our life in others if only we believe. I will admit that I have taken relationships and friendships for granted countless times in my lifetime. Allowed distance or even dispute to separate me from people who I know the Lord has specifically placed in my life. There is no such thing as a coincidence for those called by God just constant opportunity to experience His Grace, Goodness and Glory like gentle waves washing over our life. The enemy wants to make us think that people are the problem when really they are the reality of blessing in our life. No greater love for Jesus is shown than when we lay down our life for our friends. It is not all about the big things but each day giving up a little bit of my way to maintain peace and prosperity in friendship. God blesses every relationship that is harmonious and unified. He loves it. His Spirit cannot help but come in the midst of such agreement. Maybe we have missed the true meaning of revival. Maybe just maybe it will begin with the restoration of true friendship and real relationships in the Body of Christ that cause an outpouring of His Love too great to deny! We won’t know unless we try! We can start with our family and work our way out until ripples become a current that changes the atmosphere with His Love. We must revive relationships and be committed to friendship to experience the Fullness of God’s Love.

Romans 15:5-6 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

I don’t remember who spoke these words into my life. Like a challenge issued to every part of my stubbornness, I set out to prove them wrong. Never is a powerful word. It is difficult to enforce. It is final. It means not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, and to no extent. However, who are we as mere human beings to dictate time. Ecclesiastes 3 tell of God’s Outline of life including the relevance of His Timing in that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” climaxing with the promise that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, and even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Never implies control over God’s Will and Timing that is simply not the case.

When our daughter was very small, she developed rapid onset asthma. Within a matter of weeks, her condition had worsened to the point of daily doctor visits and an extension list of medication to manage her breathing. We had to carry a nebulizer with us everywhere. Her activities were limited in order to prevent a respiratory illness due to the compromised state of her lungs. This would be the beginning of a journey of faith. I had been praying for the Lord to give me faith. I wanted to see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and even the dead raised. I wanted to see the signs, wonders and miracles. For weeks, I struggled with the condition of my child. A couple strong in faith mentored us and taught us about the elements of faith. To them I am forever thankful for their teaching and guidance by the Holy Spirit. On the day that the Lord would reach down and touch our daughter, forever removing this dreaded disease in a single instant, I found a truth about the Lord that I will “never” forget. God rules forever. He dictates the boundaries of our life with His Love. When the enemy tries to cross that barrier, the Lord firmly enforces His Position of the Reigning King. When the doctor told us that she would remain the list of medications forever based on a slightly improvement and never be without it. Heaven and earth collided. The room stood still as His Presence filled that place. Our God is the One who has dominion over forever. Neverland is not a real place. God does not ever except never but gives it a time and place.

I have found it to be true that every never I ever have spoken is a line that I have crossed. Never makes us think we have some kind of control over our life including our mind, will and emotions. The moment it is established as some kind of boundary – it seems our flesh takes the challenge. As a young person, there are some things that I said that I would never do based on the mistakes of my parents. Disappointments and doubts that formed a plan for my life with certain boundaries which I am sad to report – I did them all. Giving my heart to Jesus during my teenage years, I accepted a harsh doctrine with many more definitive items on the long list of never. I did them all, too. Every never has become a reality in my life. I wonder if Peter felt the regret of never, the pain in his heart as he discovered that he was all too human by denying Jesus not once, or twice but three documented times. Jesus told him that the enemy wanted to “sift him like wheat.” I am sure it was a painful process but oh so necessary to make the reunion on the beach more wonderful.

Matthew 5:34-37 (NLT) But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

To say, “I will never” is a vow. It is implied control over our present state that is just not the case. We are ruled by a master – be it sin and flesh dictating our attitudes and actions or the Master who gives us the Mind of Christ. The enemy uses the statement that “I will never” to set up false barriers and invisible boundaries in our life so when we cross them we are shackled with guilt, shame or regret. The feeling of failure erodes faith as doubt and fear take over. We cannot ever say that never is possible for us or become insistent in one direction. This life that I live given to Christ is a humble offering. It is to yield my life piece by piece to the Lord. It is to accept His Will giving up my own. Therefore, I cannot say never but remain hopeful that whatever happens in my life that the Lord will keep His Promise. What promise? This one:

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Predestination – now that is a word that will start a quick theological debate. I am not looking for a discussion or a debate simply to reveal the promise of such a revelation. Predestination means to decide in advance, to foreordain, to predetermine which is exactly is what the Lord did for us. He provided a plan for our life including a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before our birth. (Psalm 139:16) He decided to give His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my life. Not to bring condemnation but grace sufficient to cover ever sin in advance. (John 3:16-18) The Lord has provided everything I need according to His Riches in Glory (Philippians 4:19) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) to yield abundance and prosperity in my natural existence on my way to heavenly hope. Jesus even promised that He went to prepare a place for us in eternity and will come back for us one day. (John 14:2-3) We are predestined. Freedom allows us to choose our destination. There are many flights leaving the airport today that will go to a variety of destinations around the world. The people in the airport must choose their destination according to their free will. We do the same. To indicate “never” in our life may be the very dictate issued that limits the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised us. (John 10:10)

The promise found in predestination is this: “we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.” Jesus came to save us and provide the grace needed to return to right-standing with God. Humility is the route to such a destination. It is to release control of our life including mind, will, emotions, body, spirit and soul to live in His Love completely. This eliminates never and impossibility from our life. Faith in Jesus is the requirement which means I give up my way to follow Him beginning with my stubborn heart set on dictating the order of my life and accept His Spirit to lead me into the everlasting.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

The New International Version translates the same verse as – “And I will give them an undivided heart”. We want Jesus in our life. However, to release perceived power and control contradicts everything the world tells us. We are to protect our heart. Gather all the broken pieces and hold it all together. Hide our insecurities. Build walls between ourselves and fear. Fake it until you make it. God has placed eternity in our heart because that is the part He longs for. To pursue God with our life and keep our heart for ourselves will end in disappointment and frustration. God is love. Love is messy. It requires brokenness and giving up our way to unite with the object of our affection. No marriage can survive two people bent on having their way all the time. There must be giving.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Is the Gospel of my life hidden behind a veil? This veil can be constructed of many things. It represents the veil in the Temple. The one that kept people on the verge of knowing the Lord but dependent on someone else to endure the process. The Spirit of the Lord ripped the veil in half when Jesus died for our sins. There is no longer anything separating us from God and His Heart except those who decide to reconstruct a barrier in our life. The limitation in our life is built by us not the Lord. He made it clear. God wants His Children. His Desire is for us. He longs to live in love with us. He has created a life for us worth having.

We cannot share a love that has not been experienced. If we do not give our heart and all its stubbornness and brokenness and insecurity to the Lord to accept the new heart that He offers then what is the point. I can share the Good News with others but without the Light of His Glory which is His Love shining forth – it’s just another fairytale or feel good story. I can share all the miracles that we have experienced in our life as a result of faith – but without the love found in the careful and constant intervention of Jesus – it is just another coincidence or inexplicable random event – gawked at today and forgotten tomorrow. The Gospel is a farce without the heart of God’s People shining His Love through fragile, clay jars containing grace and mercy for all. We must give our hearts to Jesus. Every part. The broken parts. The hidden parts. The held-on-to parts for safekeeping. Our life is nothing under our own control. We cannot even keep the simple promises and vows made in our life. Jesus makes all things possible. He erases impossibility completely according to His Will and Way. His Goodness can only overflow from a heart freely given and a responsive one accepted in return.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So we go back to the beginning…God has promised to give us a new heart. He also offers us a new spirit. A tender and responsive heart. What is the never in your life that is holding you back? Or maybe it is the never that you did anyway? You and I are created in the Image of God. Christ is the visible image of God. Before departing this world, He took the Light of God’s Love and placed it in our heart. The cold, stony, and stubborn heart still held on to carries the potential to live a rich and satisfied life not in the choices we make or our ability to “change” our life making better choices or improving habits, but in our acceptance of a tender and responsive heart. We must respond to God’s Promises beginning with accepting the new heart and new spirit that is freely given to us. However, this is a position of trust that believes no matter what happens in our life that His Love is working out everything for our good. Do you believe that today? If so, your love will be made in the image of God. Your giving will be complete as you give your life away in love relinquishing control. God is intent on changing us not the environment that we live in.

The Glory of God shines brightest through the broken. This verse came to me praying for a mighty woman of God with congestive heart failure. A year ago, she testified in church that through many complications she did not have a “zipper” meaning no heart surgery. She gave the Lord glory for her healing and was a source of encouragement to me. She is in the hospital today facing her third heart surgery. Her faith in the Lord is stronger than ever. She still sings louder than everyone else when worshipping Him in the sanctuary. The first to proclaim “Hallelujah” at the mention of His Name. Her testimony is even stronger today than it was a year ago because in the midst of her trial she is still in love with the Lord. Her faith shines through the darkness of a broken body. Her heart for Jesus beats strong though her human heart is struggling. Jesus let that be me today. I give you my broken and beat up heart for a tender responsive one that shares the Light of Your Love consistently in all things, in all ways, from now until You come! I must decrease allowing You to increase Jesus! Like a wineskin bursting with new wine, I give my heart to you again. Make it beat with Yours, Lord. Give me the desires of Your Heart, God. Make me one with You today Jesus!

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”