What Would Be Your Answer if Jesus Came Today?

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

If Jesus came today, what worry that you are holding onto would be erased in an instant? Would it even matter anymore?

If Jesus came today, would you be able to tell Him about the people you pointed His way?

If Jesus came today, would you be confident or ashamed in how you are living your life for Him?

I read this verse today, and it really convicted me. I love my Savior, but how often is our time, talents, and treasures used for this world instead of pointing others to Him?

Not everyone is called to mission work or preaching. God gave each of us our own unique personality and strengths because they serve a very big purpose in His kingdom. We just need to pray to Him if we are unsure of what that is and ask for opportunities to present themselves where we can help. The best thing we can do is just be willing. He will open our eyes to those who are lost and provide ways we can love them and show them the love of Christ.

It may be as simple as providing a meal, raking someone’s leaves, offering an ear when someone seems like they are hurting, or inviting someone to church.

I was lost and searching until a friend invited me to church. That was all it took. My heart was ready to hear the truth, and God used my friend to get me to a place to hear it. She was open and willing to do what God asked, and my soul was saved.

Let’s not be ashamed when Christ comes but be confident we are loving people and pointing them towards His kingdom. We are His hands and feet. We just have to be willing to use them.

Church Shooting in Texas: Choose to Focus on the Light

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 5:14-16) NIV
 
My heart and prayers go out to the many affected by the decision of one man to hurt many during their time of worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
 
Mr. Roger’s mom was so right when she told him as a young boy to look for the helpers when bad things happened. During this tragedy, there were so many wonderful helpers/heroes. Evil came into that church, but good outshined any of the darkness.
 
The two men who chased down the shooter risked their lives so he couldn’t hurt anyone else or escape from facing the devastation he left behind. Many people flooded that church to offer whatever help they could and the people within that church loved and cared for the brothers and sisters in Christ they just spent the morning worshiping with. The first responders walked into the unknown to help in a situation none of us could ever comprehend, and to the country as a whole poured out their love and prayers for those who were lost, wounded, or a part of that harrowing experience.
 
Jesus’ light is not made from earthly materials. The Pharisees tried to snuff out Jesus’ light on the cross only to have it supercharged, multiplied, and returned as the Holy Spirit that now resides in you and me.
 
Darkness can only occur when there is an absence of light. What this man tried to do was force his absence of light on other people. He walked into a place full of light that exponentially became brighter as others came to help. Darkness is fleeting even in the presence of the tiniest of flames or the tiniest of creatures like the lighting bug who dots the night sky.
 
I am choosing to focus on the light, the helpers, and the heroes in this tragedy. I am choosing to focus on prayers of comfort, peace, and healing for all who are involved. I am praying for this man who chose to keep light out so he could remain in the darkness that speaks only in the language of evil. This is becoming more prevalent as these tragedies keep occurring but Jesus’ light can permeate any wall—even one encased in darkness.
 
Be the light of the world today. You never know whose flame you will light just by showing them yours.

He’s Got This!

“No one who denies the Son has the Father, whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (John 2:23) NIV
 
I have been off of work for several weeks now due to health issues. It can be frustrating when your mind and heart would like to do things, but your body says, “No way!”
 
I’ve been really relying on my armor because in our weakest times, our enemy likes to kick us when we are down. Can you relate? I’ve had to push aside thoughts of being useless, a burden, a bad mother and wife, and unworthy of love. The enemy has nicked me a few times, but that made me quickly realize I forgot to ask Jesus for His protection.
 
Moses had a speech issue, and Paul had health issues. We all carry a burden of one kind or another, but I hang my hope on John 2:23. We have the Son and we have the Father. What could be greater than that?
 
Whatever your troubles are today, don’t let the enemy take you down because you carry the promise from the savior and creator of the universe saying, “I’ve got you!” Looking at life through that lens makes everything else seem small. We are never alone and we are never forgotten. We are His child cupped inside of His hands.
 
These troubles will fade away, and a perfect place is our eternity. Until then, He gave us each other to lift up and encourage. We’ve got this because He’s got us. I pray for your comfort and peace in His promises today.

What Do You Fear?

Are you afraid? Does it seem like our world is cracking and crumbling at its very foundation? Between the natural disasters and human disasters, it can feel like we are hurtling into a formless abyss with no end in sight.

A friend once told me that fear stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real.  I love this because right now we have an enemy among us who is celebrating the trials and violence that is hitting us in quick succession.  He dances at our division and laughs at our fear.  He claps at the catastrophes and cackles when we cower.  He is loving all that is happening in and around our country and steps in to make sure what is divided between us will stay divided and what fears we carry will be locked inside for an eternity.  We can not let him do this to us.

Our enemy is the great accuser and is looking up to God saying, “See, not one among your beloved creation is listening to your voice right now.  I am the voice of fear they hear and abide by, and I refuse to let them see otherwise.”

Our fear is his potion that plants our feet where they stand.  Also, our refusal to acknowledge the part he plays in keeping us fearful is his greatest tactic.  Credit is not what he seeks.  Success is what he seeks.  He can’t be successful if we know who the author of fear is. He will do whatever it takes to keep the veil firmly placed over our eyes.

Ever since I have started publicly writing for God, I have felt attacked at every turn.  He has been throwing every life stress in my direction which have kept my fingers idle and off of the keyboard.  When our days are whittled down into seconds, our health is being compromised, when family and marital stress is at its peak, and when life outside of our four walls is beyond our capability to understand, he lets our fears simmer into a soup that takes hold of us until our vision becomes very small and very skewed.

I pray and pray for God’s armor to cover my family and yours.  Satan’s playing field just seems to be growing bigger and bigger allowing fear to seemingly form mountains that surround us.  His evidence appears real, but God has something to say about that.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9) NLT

We can’t let him win by letting fear color our vision.  We see the chaos, but it isn’t occurring without the Creator of the World seeing as well.  Our God is not immune to our fear.  He says to call on Him, rely on Him, give it to Him, and love Him.  Fear has an anecdote and His name is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Rays of light are everywhere and they start with us believing that Jesus is above all of this and he’s got this—He’s got us.  We can shine in this dark place through our love and trust in Him.  We can boldly tell our enemy his days are numbered and soon to expire.  We become fearless when we stop looking around and start looking up.  The moment we hang on to Jesus’ robe, humble ourselves at His feet, and give our fear to Him to leave at the cross, He is then able to restore our hope, guide our path, and lead us to victory because He loves us without end.

I will not give up writing.  I will not give up on my family in difficult times.  I will not let his veil cover my head because I serve a God who gave me eyes to see.  I see you Satan, and you will not keep me from pursuing my God, His Son, and His will.  The Holy Spirit is within us and will not be silenced.  It will shine and spread until the rays of light form a continuous band that leads others to the path of righteousness.  Jesus is our victory and has always been our victory even before the first sin was sewn.

In Jesus precious name I pray.

Amen!!

 

The Princess from “The Princess and the Pea” is diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

I am convinced this princess didn’t feel the pea under that stack of mattresses because she had some princess spidey skills or keen princess pea detection abilities.  She had to have felt it because she had Fibromyalgia.

She wouldn’t have been diagnosed back then because the medical community is just now catching up with what thousands of men and women have been saying for decades—”We hurt!”

I am definitely no princess with fine linens and my bedding and sheets tend to look more like a pack of wolves were fighting for their territory, but when I lay down, I can feel even the tiniest crease in my fitted sheet touch the sides of my leg.  My nerve endings scream, “Get away from me pea!”  I then have to flatten out all of the wrinkles trying to steal away my good sleep.

It’s pretty ridiculous, really.  Sometimes when the pain is at full speed ahead, my sheets can look more like a snake pit rather than a comfortable place to rest my body.  A piece of string on my leg can feel like a hot, burning metal wire searing into my skin.  Every crack, crevice, and wrinkle now becomes my mortal enemy.  If I was on that stack of mattresses, that pea may as well have been a bowling ball.

The one thing I know to be true about Fibromyalgia is that it is just my human cross to bear living on this side of Eden.  In the DNA lottery passed down from generation to generation, I hit the screaming in pain, nerve endings on fire disease jackpot. I also know that it won’t last forever.  It won’t be my eternity.  It won’t define me as a person.  And it won’t change my place as a child of God.

We are all dealt a DNA hand of one form or another.  What we do with it and how we respond to it is what shapes our lives.  I have to admit I didn’t respond very graciously going through the “What in the world is happening to me?” process and most of that time I can honestly say I wasn’t seeking God for help or guidance.  I was just plain mad.

It’s been ten years since that diagnosis and many more years before when I knew something wasn’t right, and now I have gained something called perspective.  It’s when you crawl out of the soupy mess of your life and look down to see what you were actually swimming in.  Through this process I learned I needed God, I can’t blame God for my post Eden DNA, and it’s when trying times hit I need to move closer to Him, not further away.  My Fibromyalgia has steered my life in many different directions, and I can actually say in a bizarre way it has helped me. I’m stronger mentally, I’ve learned to humble myself and ask for help, and I rely heavily on my Father to meet my every need.  Even though my body dictates what I will accomplish in a day, it won’t ever stop me from doing God’s will.

Our adversities are what make us who we are.  Sometimes they also bring us to our knees which may be the only way we are willing to get there.  It’s how God got me there, and I wouldn’t trade a day of pain away if it meant going back to the person I was—the person who thought she knew Christ but really didn’t.  I’ve been refined through the fire and have many more burning hours to go.  How about you?

Have your adversities brought you closer to God or further away?

 

It’s time to be Kingdom Workers for God. Pick Up Your Gear, and Let’s Go!

So, I’m writing a second book.  I just completed the workbook for The Full Armor of God as a companion to use during Bible studies, and I am waiting for that to be published.  Now, onto the next one.

Today I finally wrote my first few paragraphs of my second book.  I had a name picked out for the title, but that was chosen weeks ago.  I just haven’t found my footing until this morning.  It’s a praise that I wanted to share.

I had difficult pregnancies, and I would figuratively crawl and scrape to the day I would find out the gender of my baby so I could name him or her and feel a connection and a reason to keep fighting through the sickness.  My mom even cut out a picture of a baby from a magazine and used a magnet to stick it to my refrigerator.  I felt like I was in a locker room before the big game and listening to the coach telling me to fight through the pain and win one for the team.  I was having my mom’s first grandchild, so she locked eyes with me and helped carry me to victory.

My title to blank pages is a very similar experience.  I can gratefully say the picture on the refrigerator is taking shape, and I am starting to see what I will be working towards.

I keep looking up at God to see if I am finished with His plan for me, and I keep hearing, “No—just keep on writing.”  Sigh.

I am new in this arena of sharing words and feelings to unknown eyes, and even this blog is an act of faith.  Some writers have complete confidence in their place, space, and time, but I have always been a closet writer showing only my words to God and maybe a friend.  Trudging forward, I am doing this out of obedience and love for my Father.  We are meant to share the covered slate that has been written upon our lives over the years, and that is what I am feeling He wants me to do.  That is what He wants you to do.  Just keep moving forward and sharing what He has taught us.

I pray that you are listening to your Father’s voice.  When we band together and follow the path He has laid out for us, then together we can move mountains for His kingdom.  We may not like it, but only He can see what is coming up over the horizon.  He may need your gift of speaking, writing, listening, encouraging, giving, helping, cooking, building, caring…for a time such as this.  It is what God sewed inside of you since conception, and He may be calling on you this moment to use your gift to be a kingdom worker for Him.  We may never know who we touch, but we always know Who is actually doing the touching.

I will write until He tells me, “You are finished.”  Until then, I will keep sliding outside of my comfort zone and openly share my world—the world where God is our King and deserves the best that we have to offer.  He will multiply and use your efforts far beyond your imagination.  Don’t you just love God’s math?  The least is the biggest and the biggest is the least.  A mustard seed will do, and the smallest act of faith will be rewarded.

God Bless you on your journey.  We are all in this together, right?

 

A Prayer For Those in the Wake of Hurricane Irma

Dear Lord,

Your promise is that you will never leave us nor forsake us. You said we are your beloved whom you were willing to give up your life on the cross so we could live. I hold on to these truths and picture your whole hand hovering over Florida and the surrounding areas. I know this hurricane is just a puff of air against your mighty power and you could stop it with a single word—but it remains.

As humans, we will always wonder why because it is our natural inclination and desire to possess the same understanding that you have. That comes from the very first humans ever created who ate what you asked them not to. Our desire to be all knowing is still plaguing our humanity today.

I turn to you because even at the time of your death, all seemed lost for the apostles who watched and wondered if giving up their lives to follow you was for nothing. They felt fearful and hopeless, but just as your unfair arrest, trial, and death seemed to be the end to all who called you Lord and Master, you were the only one who truly knew its purpose.

I trust in your wisdom and knowledge and give over my worries, doubts, and concerns as my family and so many other families were unable to evacuate before the storm arrived. Because of your promises, I know, Lord, that you are standing by them and will continue to be with them until this fury passes. I feel your arm around their neighbors, surrounding cities, and throughout the affected areas because you will never leave us even when all can seem lost. I know you are comforting the families who are seeing the destruction of the wake for the first time and in disbelief that their house is no longer standing. You are in this storm, through this storm, and over this storm and prepared us ahead of the storm even before the evening news had a hint of the winds to come.

In this I hand over to you the present and future of the people affected by the unknown because you are all knowing—not us. Love, keep, protect, and give your peace that transcends our limited understanding to all who seek your comfort. Thank you for your promises, and thank you for holding us in your hands.

In your precious name I pray,

Amen

A Prayer for the Hurricane Irma, Katia, and Earthquake Victims.

To say that our collective hearts are breaking for all of those affected by the litany of natural disasters would be an understatement. I have family in Florida and can’t even imagine leaving my home behind to take refuge knowing that may be the last time I see my community in tact. The unknown is beyond scary.

Then I awoke to the news that Mexico has been hit with the worst earthquake it has ever seen just as Hurricane Katia was making landfall. Aren’t these the moments we look up to heaven and say, “Really, God? Couldn’t you hold back this devastation? What is the deal?”

Then I remember the God that I serve. Any one of us could be in the path of something bigger than we could ever imagine, but we have a God that is bigger than anything we could face. Why is this occurring? I have no idea. Can God still handle our questions, pleas, and doubts? Yes, He can.

I know He is with everyone who is feeling this devastating loss, and my prayers go up to the One who holds it all. He knew this would take place even before we were born to experience it. God knows the beginning to the end. During all of this devastation, it may feel like He has left us, but He hasn’t. He could have left us when we chose sin over Him, but He stayed and continues to stay because that is how much He loves us. We need to reach out to Him and in our hurt and confusion, ask Him to be the mighty God that He is and help all of those who are in the wake of this unleashing from nature.

Dear Heavenly Father, we know that you are mighty and powerful. We know you could stop all of this with an inaudible whisper. The reasons it still remains is beyond our human understanding. Lord, I may not know the why’s, but I know the Who. It’s you that I search and seek to provide comfort, calmness, peace, and hope in the midst of this scary time. It is you that I beseech to be with the people affected by these disasters whether we are experiencing the reality of the situation first hand or watching it from afar. It is you that I pray to because I know even in the fear, you are holding every person in your hand and living among them because you are omnipresent. You never turn your head away from us and you never leave us. In this I put all of my faith and trust. Please be with everyone during this difficult time, and please give the emergency workers the unobstructed opportunity to assist and save those in need. Give them your eyes to see who is in need and your supernatural strength to perform these tasks. Give our leaders the wisdom you possess in how to best help and serve the communities. Please unite our shields of faith and hear our prayers. We weren’t promised an easy life on this side of Eden, but some days, it can seem almost unbearable. Please Lord, give us your heart for comfort and help us to comfort each other. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen.

Are You a Talker or a Listener?

Psalm 46 10

Have you noticed that when we pray, our eyes are closed, our hands are resting, and our mouths are still? The only thing open is our ears. I think this visual picture describes how we are to pray: listen more and speak less.

I need reminding of this every time I pray. I’m usually heading straight to the point and dumping in Jesus’ lap all of the fears, concerns, and burdens that are plaguing me.

Jesus is not our therapist taking notes. He already knows the reasons we are in prayer. He is looking to see if we come with thanksgiving, a willingness to confess our sins to receive His forgiveness and grace, and humbling our hearts and minds to be ready to listen to His loving guidance.

That doesn’t mean Jesus would rather we didn’t pour our hearts out to Him.  He wants us to give it to Him to take to the cross.  He already knows our needs before we tell Him, but that doesn’t make him disinterested in our fears and concerns. We just can’t hog up all of our quiet time with Him asking for our world to be fixed.  When we take moments in our prayer life to acknowledge and feel reverence for our Lord and praise Him for all that He is, all that He does, and all that He will do, then we gain the mindset that we are seeking the advice and counsel from the creator of the universe and not just someone who grants our wishes.

When we do pour out our hearts, it keeps things in perspective.  Our problems may seem giant, but revering our God reminds us that He is bigger.  He’s got this—we just have to remember who we are talking to.  For prayer life to be effective, there needs to  be more than a one-way conversation with one topic being discussed—ourselves.

When we pray, we need to practice quieting our minds and spirits to hear the wisdom that Christ is trying to speak into our lives. He loves us all so very much, and He has so much to say if we are willing to listen.

 

IS Your Life In Or Out Of Focus?

Well, life just got really busy with the beginning of this school year. There is so much involved in preparing for students, putting a classroom (speech room) together, and making sure my own children are prepared to start their school year.  The sands of time are falling faster than my list of things to do is being checked off.

What are you spending your time focusing on right now? What commitments are forcing you to move around at lightening speed?  Is your focus on Earthly things like mine has been lately or on Heavenly things which I have been ignoring?

When I was putting the contents of my desk back together, I came across an index card that I had written a reminder. I am not sure when I wrote it, but it was a message to keep the focus on what is in His plan for me, and not necessarily what I had planned for myself.

The top part of the index card had a phrase that I had heard (I think from church):

God’s first concern is not our happiness—it’s our holiness.

This truth struck me and stirred something inside of me while I was organizning my room. It is so easy to slip back into the pattern of keeping God at bay so we can take care of the more “important” things.  I thought I would share with you the message that I wrote on this index card in case it would help someone else to keep their focus.  I was lucky enough to find it at a time my hamster wheel was starting to turn.  This is the reminder that I wrote:

I want to fast-track my way into what I want, but then I short-circuit His plan for me.  God doesn’t want me to just focus on jobs, relationships…, so He isn’t going to give me the steps in my life until I stop and grow in my fellowship with Him.

When I’m in His Word, in prayer, and looking upwards, then He reveals His next step.  It may not be the answer that I want, but it’s His answer, so it’s perfect for His will and plan in my life. He will let me suffer and in my suffering, I am drawn closer to Him; my character is building and my testimony is created.  It’s all for His glory—not mine.

If you have one foot inside your hamster wheel and ready to jump on, I pray that this reminder will help you as well.  As a Christian community, we need to be reminding each other of what our priorities should be because when God is the focus, everything else that is out of focus will soon be crystal clear.