I’m no poet

I’m not a poet, nor the daughter of a poet.

Some days I’m barely able to put two words together.

Forget about writing coherent sentences on those days.

Then, it is enough to grunt, choke, and sputter the need.

Then, in roaring power, the Holy Ghost takes over for me,

speaking a lyrical message, wrapped in poise. He does what I cannot do.

And what I can do, I do.

Today, this is what I could do…

CALLING OUT TO HIM

Sometimes, when I worry,
my heart so full of fear,
the doubt seeps in,
the questions come,
“My God, are You still here?”

It’s in those pensive moments,
when darkness clouds my view,
I still my heart,
and hear Your voice,
“My child, I’m here with you.”

Set them free!

The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. 2 Kings 14:26 NIV

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free… Luke 4:18 NIV

In this place, in this time, under the reign of Jesus Christ—a reign that will go on forever and ever–we find freedom, recovery, healing, and the chance to change bad to good by drawing on God’s mighty resurrection power given us through the death and now-living status of our Savior.

What will you do with that power today?

Praise Him!
Tell of His greatness!
Make sure the whole world knows.

Begin local and reach beyond borders.

In Jesus is life everlasting! Shout the good news far and wide.

The Process

My whole being, praise the Lord; all my being, praise His holy name. My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all His kindness. Psalm 103:1-2 NCV

I love the Healing Journey!

I know you guys know that already, but I want to relay to you one of the reasons why I love this program so much, this morning.

The Process!!

For years, I thought Christianity was a destination and that once I arrived I would be smart beyond my years, able beyond my skills, and loved beyond my wildest dreams, by everyone. Yeah, that didn’t happen, and for many more years I sat with the disappointment.

I felt the feelings.

I realized what it was to be overwhelmed.

I experienced long periods of disillusionment and pain.

I felt abandoned—if not by my fellows, then by God–and I embraced a Martha attitude and personality.

I busied myself to make up for crushed expectations.

Stoic. Disciplined. Hard-working. Hard on myself and everyone else. That was me.

I seriously thought in this state that if I worked harder, did more, and earned the esteem of others I would be worthy of God. Even as I told others that salvation could not be earned, I was living my life in a way that said, “Yes, it can. Watch Me. I’ll show you how.”

How many disciples of the wrong attitude did I win during that time?

How many do I still influence with these opinions when I get in a Martha mood?

The American Work Ethic, it was an idol in my life, and it kept me miserable when my drive to do more, always more, was actively employed…but, The Healing Journey!

My answer to the pain came from God through the Healing Journey!

Last night’s Healing Journey class was affirming, amazing, and absolutely God-inspired, and while I’m not at liberty to share too much of what went on there, I can share that small groups were formed last night and through a lottery system much like what was employed centuries ago by the early church, God matched the perfect people to their imperfect group leaders, and the results were glorious.

I’m excited about the healing that is going to take place in EACH ONE OF OUR SOULS this year. For surely, we leaders continue to heal as well, as we facilitate the healing of others around us, allowing God to use us as conduit for his mercy, grace, and glory.

I love the Healing Journey class!

They were priests…

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And David’s sons were priests. 2 Samuel 8:18 NIV

In 2 Samuel 8, there’s a note at the very end of the chapter that I never remember seeing before today: “And David’s sons were priests.”

I’m sure I have not seen that before today. Neither do I remember hearing it mentioned in any Bible study, Sunday School lesson, or sermon I’ve ever heard. It’s not odd that David’s sons should have served in many capacities within the kingdom he established, they being men of knowledge, intellect and stature, but why don’t I remember seeing that before?

Traditionally, we hear about only a few of David’s sons, the bad boys of the family, but he had at least seventeen male heirs (six recorded in 2 Samuel 5, and eleven more in 2 Samuel 8). It’s not surprising then, that these sons might have covered a broad base of services within the kingdom of their father. The surprising thing for me when I read about these sons today, though, is that they served as priests and that I had never realized that before.

It’s important to know what the Bible teaches!

Today, I’ve been reminded of the importance of reading God’s Word.

Do you read the Bible regularly? If not, why not?

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Willingness

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 NJKV

This past week I was reminded how quickly Jesus decided to trust God and walk in his way when the devil tempted him in the desert. At first glance willingness was an easy thing for our Lord, but not so. In the garden, the Bible says Jesus sweat droplets of blood while agonizing over his impending fate on a dirty cross of hate. This says to me that being willing to do something he did not want to do was as difficult for Jesus as it is for me.

I can be willing to do what I do not want to do.

This past week I did something I did not want to do. I did it because I thought it needed to be done. I was not happy about doing it—would always rather sit on the side lines in comfort than to step out and do hard things—but I did it none the less. I did it thinking of how a position of leadership and sacrifice requires us to step out of the safe zones of life and into the fray.

We are called to more than ordinary lives, the songs says…called to thrive, and part of thriving is growing into that life that Jesus planned for us long before we breathed our first breath.

Today, I can appreciate how quickly Jesus responded to His Lord and Papa’s request to do a hard thing, and yet still understand it was not easy for him to do it, nor did he want to do it. He did it, because He trusted the One who called him to sacrifice himself for the betterment of a dirty, disgusting, unbelieving, and sinful world. I may not be called to so high a calling as Jesus (Oh, Lord, let it not be that I am, for I am not as strong as your Son), but I have my own hard things to accomplish in this world. I need strength to accomplish them. I don’t always want to be that strong, nor do I always want to do the work that will make me stronger than I am right now, but I trust the One who is calling me to wrestle with dis-ease and I know the good He has in store for me if I will.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus love and righteousness.

What is your hope built on today? What hard thing are you being asked to do, having decided you will do, but wish you didn’t have to do?

All the things!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness. Abraham Wright

The following is a devotional from the book Inspiring Faith, 365 Days a Year, and is entitled: All Things! This devotional is a little book that I bought some time ago, and it is my go-to for inspirational encouragement many days. Today’s message hit the nail on the head, so to speak, regarding where I’m at in my life right now.  I had to disappoint someone over the weekend, and I’m having a tough time processing my feelings about it.  This devotion helped me realize once more that life is life and feelings are a part of the deal, and that if I will but trust God, he will make all things work together for my good.

I’m praying for that one who I had to disappoint this past weekend, even as I deal with feeling that go along with delivering bad news.

Maybe this message will help you in your processing of feelings today.  I hope so.

ALL THINGS!

Our culture craves comfort, the avoidance of pain, easy projects, nothing but success, leisure time, entertainment, fun hobbies, and anything else that can fit under the umbrella of “smooth sailing.”

When things don’t go right—a slip on ice, a conflict with a loved one, a demanding and troublesome boss, a leaky roof, car trouble, financial setbacks—there is a prevailing attitude of surprised anger and resentment, a strong sense that life is unfair and cruel.

Paul, a survivor of every sort of calamity, challenges this mind-set. Not only are difficulties inevitable, but they become opportunities to grow—and even become catalysts for great things to happen. Are you convinced that all things work together for good in your life?

Accept discipline. Ask God to help you get the most out of the difficulties you encounter. You might feel pain for a moment, but the long-term rewards will be great.

Heavenly Father, we don’t understand why bad things happen, and we especially don’t understand how You can use them for good in our lives, but You do. Thank You! Amen.

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Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?” Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.” …all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore. 2 Samuel 2:26-28 NIV

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Have you ever argued with someone in your family or circle of friends?  Me, too.  In fact, I had this one gal who used to hate to see my car pull into the driveway, because every time we stopped by, her husband and I would end up arguing religion.  This was before he was saved. I get it now, and I got it then, he didn’t believe.  Everything I was discovering and all that I felt at that time was crazy talk to him, but I couldn’t let him malign my faith just for the sake of keeping quiet or not upsetting the apple cart.  Peace at any price?  Yeah, I’m not that girl.

After this fellow got saved it was different between us. No more shouting matches. No more sullen disgust.  Now, we were both on the same path, if not at the same place along the path and our conversations grew steadily quieter.  Still, I remember those days of loud voices and crinkled brows. Not good!

Today, if you’re caught in the middle of a fight that keeps going and going and going (even though you earnestly want it to stop), I have some advice I can share with you.  First, I would encourage you to begin praying about the situation in a pointed fashion. Next, ask God to give you a word that you can softly speak to your sparring partner when the fighting begins.  Third, ask God to be your provision in those moments when things start heating up, and then ask Him to show you a way off the battlefield. Finally, ask Him to begin a work of forgiveness in your heart that will overrule the spirit of dis-ease that is currently having its way in the relationship you have with this one who continues to argue.

If you are not that one who fights on, but you know someone else who is, pray for them and believe God will make a way for the fighting to stop. He can do the impossible…does it every day.  Trust Him to help you make peace.  He will!

Disclaimer:  Trying to stop an argument with someone who is verbally or physically abusive can be dangerous.  If you’re in a situation like this with someone who puts hands on you when you fight, please seek help now.  Correction from the Lord can only come through a willingness to listen and obey Him.  If you’re in a relationship with someone who will not listen, will not obey, does not know God or have his Holy Spirit living in him or her, please seek help from professionals who can get you out of the dangerous place and to safety.  

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline number to call is: (800) 799-7233

Bad Fig!

I will give them a heart to know me… Jeremiah 24:7a NIV

Figs1_0In the 24th chapter of The Bible, in Jeremiah’s prophecy to God’s people, there’s talk of figs; good figs and bad figs.

“So what?!” you might say, “the Bible talks about a lot of things.” It does. But these figs are figs of significance, because they’re figs that represent two people groups.

Fig-uratively speaking, these figs talked about in Jeremiah 24 presents a conundrum. “Why a conundrum?” you ask. Because the good figs are representative of people who were about to face hard times. They’re about to go through very hard territory, a part of their life that will be filled with disruptions and unimaginable pain.

HOW IT’S GOOD TO BE A GOOD FIG, IF IT MEANS HARDSHIP AND PAIN?

Let’s see if we can fig-ure out why it’s good to be a good fig, even if it means you’ll have to face imaginable pain.

In God’s Word it says these good figs represent the exiles during Jeremiah’s time.

Those taken away.

Those forced into Babylonian captivity.

Those robbed of their dreams and hopes.

The future for these folks doesn’t seem all that rosy at first blush, but…these people are labeled “good figs” because they have God’s attention. Their “good” status comes from being blessed by the Lord. Grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace is going to be given to these figs during their painful transplant, which is why they are categorized as good figs.

God sees these folks pain coming–it has to come, can’t be avoided–and in it He will be there, experiencing it with them. By His own word he promises to:

Watch over and care for them.
Bring them back to their homeland.
Build them up, not tear them down.
Plant them, and not uproot them.
Give them hearts that recognize him as the Lord.
Make them His people; a special, blessed, and mighty people.

Conversely, the bad figs…well, they’re on their own.

DON’T FEEL BAD FOR BAD FIGS

Some of you reading this today might want to feel sorry for the bad figs in this story. Don’t! They don’t deserve your pity. They are rotten, no good, very bad figs. They’ve been given countless opportunities to be good figs, but they’ve squandered those opportunities, even as they made conscious decisions to run opposite of God’s will. The bad figs in this story chose to exercise their free will to disobey their master, and they did it again and again, and again, and again, until the results they got were exactly what they hoped for—to be left alone by God.

A UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE

Reliance on God causes grace and blessings to flow into our lives.

Ignoring God means we get to do life alone, on our own, calling the shots for ourselves but at the same time pushing away grace.

The moral to this story is this: Be a good fig, no matter the cost, because good figs find grace in their time of need.

Would you classify yourself as a good fig or a bad fig right now?  When have you let bad figs suffer their consequences for the decisions they’ve made?