Whatever You Feel, Jesus Felt it First

As I was falling asleep, the image of someone hurting came to me. I felt like the person who may read this could use Christ’s peace today.

  • When you feel overwhelmed, remember Jesus. He carried the weight of the world on His shoulders.

 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24) NIV

  • When you feel abandoned, remember Jesus when He went to Gethsemane before He was led to the cross. He asked His disciples to stay with Him while He prayed during His most troubling time. Instead of being His support, they fell asleep.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Matt. 26:36-41) NIV

  • When you feel unappreciated, remember Jesus. He willing endured lashings that tore his flesh in order to save the very people who were doing this to Him.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. (Jn. 19:1) NIV

  • When you think people are talking about you or plotting no good, remember Jesus and the Pharisees that rejected Him from the very beginning. They thought they knew better and spent a good portion of their time trying to trick Jesus to discredit and humiliate Him. When that failed, they plotted His death.

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mk. 3:1-6) NIV

  • When you feel alone, remember Jesus on the cross. Only He alone was worthy enough to die a sinner’s death to eradicate our sin punishment. Only He could be the one to endure this torture to save us. He alone took to wrath of our Father, and only He alone had to die.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Lk. 23:44-46) NIV

There isn’t an emotion, feeling, thought, or worry that you experience that your Jesus didn’t feel. He could have gone through life solely as the deity He was but instead went through it as a human who feels, thinks, and bleeds.

You have a God who knows. Talk to Him and share your hurt because Jesus isn’t far removed from your pain. He understands exactly what you feel because he has been there.

This is not forever, but our Jesus is.

This too shall pass.

Who Are You Inviting Over For Coffee: The enemy or God?

Enemy: You are so ugly.  No one can stand to look at you.

God:  You are one of my most beautiful and precious creations.

Enemy:  You are nothing.  Why do you even try?  You know you will fail anyway.

God:  Put your complete faith and trust in me, seek my will, and we can accomplish anything.

Enemy:  You know no one likes you.  That is why you are always alone.

God:  I never leave your side.  I’ve known every square inch of you before you were even born.  I will never leave you no matter how many times you try to push me away.  You are never alone.

Enemy:  You know you struggle with temptation because you are weak.  Other people can handle it.  What is wrong with you?

God:  In me you draw your strength.  When burdens overtake you, temptations trap you, and fear surrounds you on all sides, remember who I am.  I created the Earth and the stars.  I’ve caught every one of your tears and witnessed the results of your shame.  I gave you my Son so you wouldn’t have to carry that anymore.  Put your hand in mine and taste the freedom you have been missing.

Whose voice do you listen to on a daily basis?  Which one is your ever-present companion? It is not the circumstances of our lives that need to change. It is the conversations we are allowing to run through our minds.

If the enemy and God were standing right before you, who would you invite to your table for coffee? Whose advice would you like to hear about your worries, fears, aspirations, and future?

When the whisper in your mind derails you, berates you, shames you, isolates you, and creates fear, pay attention, and be on guard.  Ask God to remove the lies and replace them with His truths.  Both God and the enemy can not share the same space for your attention.

One voice is a liar.  The other voice is a life-giver.  Be as cautious as you would when inviting someone into your home. In the same way, be just as cautious as the words you invite into your life.  Words have power.  Let God breathe His truths into your spirit.  He is waiting for you to clear your schedule, hear His knock, and accept your invitation for coffee at your table.

Two Sides of a Fence: Joy and Sorrow in the Psalms

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to the song, “I Can Only Imagine.”  My mom passed away last year and as I listened, I reflected on the beautiful movie depicting how this song came to be.  Next my thoughts slid over to the moment my mom first met Jesus.  In that second,  I realized her first moment after her death was vastly different from mine.

The moment she passed away, I fell to my knees at her lifeless body with my head in her lap sobbing tears of sorrow.  My screams of heartbreak ripped through the room.

At that very same moment, my mom fell to her knees with her head in Jesus’ lap crying tears of joy and singing songs of worship and praise.

I was in disbelief at my loss.

She bathed in relief at her gain.

I was devastated and broken.

She was with the Divine and made new.

Isn’t that the way with our world?  The viewpoint we see is so strikingly different than Jesus’.  If we could glimpse for a microsecond on how Jesus views us, I believe every heart would transform right then and there.  Where we see darkness and despair, He sees light and eternity.

That is why we have faith.  We have faith in His promises, His great love for us, and His claim that He is the Divine Lord and Savior who will wipe away every tear.  Our hurts will not last forever.

Psalm 6:2-3 describes what I felt the moment my mom died:

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?

Psalm 8:1-2 describes what my mom must have felt:

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.

My mom’s world and my world are very different now, and it began the second she stopped breathing in the air of this earth and drank in the sight of her Lord.

We straddle two sides of a fence between anguish and joy, pain and praise, and fear and faith.  Whichever side of the fence we choose to spend our time will determine if we are seeing life with our own eyes or through the eyes of God.

While we are still walking this earth, breathing its air, and watching what we do to each other on the nightly news, we can still cry out to the Lord for His generous mercies and praise His majestic name.

That is what it means to by human, and that is what it means to be His.

Photo by Janick Kern on Unsplash

Created From Dust-God Makes All Things New.

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

I write like I dance,

My arms wide open-in a trance.

I now seek Your will be done,

Mine? Too much I have found,

To be empty, uninspired, and dead.

Yours, the kingship, the true head

Will be my lighted flame,

And no more will I blame

For Your hand I do hold,

Shedding all of the old.

As I rest my eyes upon you,

Wiping my heart free of the dew

Settling in the depths of my soul

Growing colder as I grow old.

Because my eyes and spirit dimmed

While coveting my whims,

Leaving me shivering in the cold

So to you, I give my spirit old.

For your eyes see,

What mine never will.

Your heart forever beats,

When mine sits still.

Your hand opens and extends,

The moment my grasp ends.

Your love gives and empowers,

Where mine hides and cowers.

And your words give eternal life,

Where mine speak only of strife.

You are perfect and just-

Creating me from dust.

So to you, Jesus, I ask,

Make me new, so I can dance,

Live, and write for You

To glorify my Lord,

Who wiped away the dew.

We Can Never Dream Bigger Than Our God

I am in the beginning stages of writing my new book.  I know the topic, the basic outline, and thought I knew the book in the Bible I wanted to use.  I had it down to two.  I then decided to pray over the ideas I had swirling in my head, and God rejected both of my ideas.  He said Psalms.

Really?  Psalms?  It’s one of the largest books in the Bible.  OK, God.  One particular Psalm?

No, all of Psalms.

Le sigh.

I have learned that God expects so much more out of us than we do.  I think He wants to push us to our limits, so when get to the edge of the cliff, we have no other choice but to trust Him.

The topic of the book is being a mess.  It is something I relate to very well and often look up to God and wonder, how do you still love me?  Have I done enough yet to make you think twice?  Remember, God, that thing I promised I wouldn’t do but did, how can you still trust me?  When will my lovability rub off and run dry?

His answer?  Never.

I am on a journey to discover how I can embrace this.  How we can embrace this.  And you know what?  God is right.  Psalms is a great place to land when it comes to our messes.

Did you know Spurgeon said out of 219 quotes from the Old Testament cited in the New Testament, 116 are from Psalms?!

OK, God.  I am trusting you.  I can’t out-dream you.  I am the one who trips and fails-not you.  To Him I give my mess, to Him I give my words, and to Him I give my hope.

To Him be the glory.

In Our Schools, Who Will Win – Our Culture or Our God?

pexels-photo-373488I work in the schools.  I have been a speech and language pathologist for twenty-one years and nineteen of those twenty-one years I have served inside a school.

What I have noticed over the course of time is the decline of so much we used to take for granted-respect of self and others, kindness, and discipline to make the right choices and work within the rules.

When I was growing up, there used to be just a few “bad” kids who stirred up the pot of emotions at school, and we all knew who they were by name.  Looking back as an educator, I can see how some of those kid may have had a learning disability they were trying to cover up or a home life that made them feel insecure or unloved.  I can now understand why some of the “bad” kids were bad.

Today, the decline is not just for a few case scenarios, but actually it’s the good kids we are trying to search for in the crowd.  There are more of these kids who want to learn and work within the rules, be respectful, and learn, but the ones that don’t care are now drowning out the rest.  And there are a lot of them.  More and more each year.  Our quiet kids become quieter, and our loud kids become louder. 

Swearing down the hallways is the second language of choice and teachers being looked at like a fly ready to be squished by a student who didn’t want to be bothered by a directive.  

These are the children who are bolder, broader, and catapulted into the mainstream because they feel it is their right.  I wonder where they got that from?

I don’t blame the kids.  There is a much deeper issue, and I am tired of the deafening noise of the culture we have created allowing our schools to no longer  be a place of peace and learning, but a battleground for unrest and worry.  It’s hard to learn when you don’t feel safe.

What I have observed is a systematic erasing of the verses in our Bible – one by one:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”(Mark 12:30-31)

Our culture serves a god that serves us, not the other way around.  We are told to pursue whatever make us happy, whatever gives us fulfillment, and makes us feel good.  The god we serve doesn’t ask us to love each other like ourselves.  We are asked to love ourselves above all else.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:66)

Our culture has the tail wagging the dog.  It asks of itself, “What would make the children happy?” “What would entertain them?” Cue in social media, advertising, parents giving-in, and kids feeling entitled.  What way are we training our kids to go?

Thou shalt not kill.

Our culture doesn’t value life.  It has created death as entertainment in the video games and movies even the youngest of our youngest are allowed to watch. An unwanted life is a hindersnce that needs to be destroyed before it is born.  Why is the shooting up of a school become the battle cry choice of those who are hurting or in need of mental care?  We have become our own gods choosing who will live and who will die.

From what I observe, what my children come home and tell me, and other friends in different districts have shared, we have a new normal coming our way, and it is anything but normal.  With each verse of the Bible we red-line, our culture wins while everyone else loses.

The Bible can not be totally erased, no matter how much our culture tries.  It and we will one day have to account for our actions.  Many things need to change, and it needs to begin with the first verse our society decided to cross out:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

My hope lies in this:

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have over come the world.

Dealing with Grief: My Mom is Just Around the Corner

How do you handle grief after losing your mom? Shield of Faith

My Wedding Day with My Beautiful Mom.  I Look Like a Giant Compared to Her!

John 11:25-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

The one year anniversary of my mom’s death came and went a week ago.  I anticipated that moment and wondered how I would feel.  A week later, and I am still wondering how I feel.  

I know that she is not far away.  If she was, I would feel the distance—but I don’t.  I continue to say “My parents” as if she is still here.  When I am at my dad’s house, my mind tells me my mom just ran to the store, and I just missed her.  When I am at the store, my heart tells me she is at home preparing dinner and gearing up to watch the shows she just taped.  When my dad calls and I am only talking to him, I envision my mom at the doctor’s office and not available to pick up the phone.

This last year has been a lot of, “Oh darn.  I just missed her by a second” thoughts, so when the year anniversary came and went, I still just feel it’s a matter of time before I bump into her again.  Our timing has just been off.

Have you ever experienced this?

In a lot of ways, I feel like my mom moved closer towards me.  Closer than has she ever been before.  A year ago she shed the worldly worries and jagged edges that sometimes define our outlook and is sheathed in the love and light of Jesus.  She can see, hear, smell, feel, and delight in the Lord in ways I could only dream about. Depression can’t touch her.  Migraines can’t trap her.  And a lung disease can no longer claim her.

I may not be bumping into my mom at the grocery store or seeing her physically on the couch playing her games on her tablet or deciphering puzzles in her books, but if given a choice, I doubt she would trade her now for our here.  Our here and now will one day by united with hers, but until then, I choose to say, “I’ll see you soon,” rather than, “Where did you go?”  I know where she is, so she never really left.

My mom is simply around a corner I can’t see, and she will step into view when God says it’s time.  She put in her time in a world that harbors sin, disease, and death and transitioned into her eternity.  Our grief of losing them has a way of making us reflect on our own mortality and wonder about life vs. death, but really there is no death.  We have a temporary life and an eternal life.  It’s life and life.

I prayed for my mom’s salvation for years, prayed over her and with her in her sickness, and asked her if she knew where she was going when her corner was swiftly approaching.  She said she knew and felt very peaceful.  I knew in that moment I would be okay because she would be okay.

My peace in my grief comes from the corner I know where my mom turned.  My bumping into her will be a true celebration.  On this side of the corner, I pray God can use me to point as many people as possible to Him.  My purpose and mission help my grief.

What we do with our time on this side of the corner can affect not only the here and now of those we love, but the future forever of the death corner they will turn.  Where do we want to bump into our loved ones when God says it’s time? 

In honor of those we lost and love, let’s begin a mission of seed planting and use our grief for a purpose greater than ourselves.  Let the line turning the corner to an eternity with Christ be so long, the ticket holder ran out of numbers. 

The day we turn the corner and see our loved ones standing behind Jesus, may there be a truck-load of people behind them holding a seed we helped to plant.  That will be a day we will count our grief as joy.

 

 

 

I Wish I Knew It Would Be the Last…

Our clocks are unyielding.  They stretch across time like marching soldiers going to war.  Nothing will deter its advancement forward, no matter how much we beg.

My girls are getting older-both are teenagers.  One just entered into this milestone, and the other one is on the verge of driving.  I was laying in bed thinking about all of their transitions in life, our transitions in life, and I wish I had a heads-up when each milestone in their lives was going to end before the next one began.

Our babies grow out of onesies and into a shirt and pants, but when was the very last time we snapped our child into a onesie?  If time tapped me on the shoulder and kindly alerted me to this passing of the baton, I would have savored my last moment of dressing my child in what I had lovingly packed away in her drawer while anticipating her arrival.

When our babies walk for the first time, we are so celebratory of that moment that we fail to notice something else came to an end.  It isn’t until months later we realize our now mobile child, who feels they now can rule the world, crawled for the last time, and before that, rolled over for the last time.  If I had known that day would be the last day before time wafted that moment like a sheet in the wind, I would have savored my baby rolling to get closer to her toy or performed crawl races with her, so I could watch her flying effortlessly on her knees.

I puffed up with pride the moments my daughters walked unassisted and shifted a little closer to independence, but now I wonder about the last time I held my hands out to support my wobbly child, or the last time she needed my extended finger for stability?  These moments escape so unnoticed until they are noticed years after they disappeared.

I am not asking time to stand still.  I am merely requesting an “ahem” or elbow nudge to let me know when this page turns, it can never be turned back again.

I can’t remember when my daughters became so big that holding them became too difficult.  Their weight and height outgrew my strength, and I had to tell them, “Sorry, mommy can’t hold you.”  The last time I was able to carry her in my arms, I may have held on for a little longer if I had known it was coming to an end.  I can probably imagine myself internally grumbling from struggling to hold my now hefty child, but if I knew I would never have that chance again, I think I would have loved through those minutes instead of wishing them away.

I guess I am just having a hard time discerning these transitions and wondering when did they occur.  Did I think I still had a chance to experience these things one last time or that the finality of them wasn’t real?

My oldest daughter loved digging up worms and filling her plastic cup to the brim. She would sit for long periods of time with her pink shovel softly digging in the wet ground as she carefully exhumed each one.  Dirt wiggled in her cup, and she lovingly carried around the fruits of her work.  I never noticed the day her shovel became idle or her cup remained empty.  If I knew it was the last time she decided this was a fun activity, I would have stopped everything to dig in the dirt with her.

My youngest daughter loved oranges and frequently ran around the house to find me.  She’d lift her arms up to get my attention wanting me to help her peel them.  I am pretty sure I was happy when she could eventually do this on her own.  I look back now and wish I had known it would be the last time I peeled her orange for her before her independence just took another giant leap forward.  I think I would better be able to savor that moment than fly through it impatiently since I had a million other things to do.

I think we spend so much time looking over the horizon at what is coming ahead, deciding this will be a better time, that we miss the time right in front of our eyes.

I know many of us can relate to losing a loved one.  When my mom passed, I wish the last time she came to my house before she got too sick to leave hers was known to us all.  We could have turned that visit into a celebration rather than the normal routine it had become.

I also wasn’t made aware of the last time I savored a meal my mom made, because she was an amazing cook, before the hose providing her life-giving oxygen trapped her behind the four walls of her home.  She tired easily.  I wish I could remember the last time.

Time is cruel but a necessary entity.  Unfortunately, it has yet to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you may want to savor this because it will be your last time.”  If it would, I would be feeling a lot less nostalgic today as I watch my girls grow into women, and my losses of loved ones wouldn’t be with regrets of missed opportunities and words of love exchanged.

Time marches onward with purpose.  It has to lack emotion, or it would bend and sway to our cries and pleas.  God moves us forward, so we don’t sit where we stand or live where we press pause.  Time is a force of nature created by God for His divine purpose.  In heaven, I understand there is no time.  There won’t be a need or purpose for it.  We will be reveling in the moments where we stand with our Lord and Savior.  That is the moment we will want freeze in time forever.

In the meantime, on this strange and exasperating side of the divide, we have to live with the fact that our moments will be fleeting, our lives will be measured in time and milestones, and in military fashion, we will be forced to march forward no matter what the circumstances may be.  We are marching forward for a reason, but as we do, let’s not take away from what is right before us by craning our necks to see what is around the bend.  We should leave that up to God to determine.  Our present is a gift for a reason.

 

The Power of Inviting a Friend to Church

This is my first video blog, and it is always better to do something for the first time with your best friend!

The topic is the importance of inviting a friend to church.  Because someone stepped out in faith and invited me, the course of my life and my children’s lives changed forever.

If you have someone in the back of your mind you have been thinking about inviting to church, listen to your inner voice.  It may just be God nudging you to change another generation of lives.

Click on the picture!

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Are Those You Follow Worthy of Your Time? Ask God First.

Many want to lead, but who should we follow?  Let the Spirit of God guide you.

Many want to lead, but who should we follow? Let the Spirit of God guide you.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

(1 John 4:4-6) NIV

I always like to share the passages that I read. The Bible is just such a powerful gift. It’s our sword for a reason.

In 1 John 4, we are asked to be vigilant by testing those who claim to be of God. We are told God is love, and those who do not love are not from God. God sacrificed His Son, and those who do not believe in the sacrificial gift are also not from God.

How many people go out into the world proclaiming they love and they believe, but their actions and words really don’t reflect this truth? I can think of those who try to lead flocks of people when instead of being a shepherd, they really are the wolf.

God gave us His Spirit and with it comes our ability to perform a truth test. Our first commandment is to love God with everything we are, and the second commandment is to love each other as we love Him. We are sheep asked to follow His voice and not the voice of the world. Those who hate what we love-hate us. They never knew the atoning love of God and will make every effort to lead us astray.

You are given the Spirit of God. Listen and apply the truth test to those you follow and believe. False prophets are here, and you are given the ability to see through their facade.