Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where Will You Be Found?



Bad news. 

Jobb loss.

Divorce.

Diagnosis.

Things we would rather not talk about and definitely would rather not experience, but they are a part of life.

What you do when they happen is key.

Do you hide?

Retreat?

Get angry?

Retaliate?

What if you nestled into Him?

What if you could only be found in Him?

What if others were looking to you and found Him because that's where they found you?

If you say you follow Christ, people are watching, even in the church. They want to know, do you believe what you say you believe? Is your God gonna catch you this time? Is your God good now?

The older I get the more I realize how little it matters what happens to us, it's what we do with it that counts.

Nobody wants bad news, but we have Good News.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Nobody wants to lose a job, but we have hope.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5
Nobody gets married planning to divorce, but we have redemption.
For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. Isaiah 54:5
Nobody wants to be sick, but we have strength.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Psalm 18:14
Seems easier said than done, I know, but it's a discipline, a lifestyle if you will. If you practice being in His presence a little every day, when those hard times come you will naturally default to your hiding place, your safe refuge, your Father's arms and there in that secret place is where you will be found. Not only by men but by Him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sticky Tape



Forty-six.

That's how many different kinds of adhesives I have in my "adhesive box." 

There are tape runners, glue sticks, double-sided tapes, various washi tapes and many, many others.

Each one has a specific purpose.

I'm an artist. As an artist, I use different kinds of glue for different things. The more I learn about art, the more adhesives I acquire. 

As I pondered my adhesive obsession today it dawned on me that my "adhesive box" is a lot like the Bible.

When something ceramic breaks - I have a glue for that.

When I need to adhere pieces of wood - I have a glue for that.

When I'm making a card - I have several types of glue for that.

Just like I have an adhesive for everything, I look to the Word of God for a verse for everything.

When my heart is breaking - there is a verse for that.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted andsaves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 ESV
When I'm weary - there is a verse for that.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galations 6:9 ESV
When I'm lonely - there is a verse for that.
God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6 NIV
Just as my "adhesive box" is an often used resource in my craft room, the Bible is an often used resource in my life. As I mature as a daughter of God the more verses I store up in my heart. I learn which verses are best for each situation. 

Don't wait until tragedy strikes to find a verse to see you through.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 ESV
My favorite adhesive in my box is called "sticky tape" - no joke this stuff could probably adhere a toddler to a wall. The Word of God has power, to hold us together in the tough times. Not just bandage us, but truly hold us together. I have my go-to adhesive for the tough jobs and I have my go-to verses for the tough times that life throws at me.

When hard times come He will bring His Word to remembrance to comfort you and speak to you. He will then comfort others through you using the same comfort, His Word.

Lots of people say they don't hear God, but I know He speaks to all His children. He's no respecter of persons. One way He speaks is through His Word, so if you are not hearing Him open up your Bible and hear what He has to say.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wrestling with Weakness



Old habits die hard. 

The one word that has been used against me more than any other word is weak. If someone said, or even implied I was weak they could manipulate me to do almost anything. Something inside me would kick in, puff up and determine to be strong and prove them wrong. 

It took me years to grow out of that. 

It felt like a personal attack on my character and by definition, on Dictionary.com, it means an inadequate or defective quality, as in a person's character; slight fault or defect.

I already felt defective I didn't want others to see it, but this insult, this word confirmed they did. Calling me weak was just adding fuel to the fire of my low self-worth, self-esteem, and self-image. Pride said, "Prove them wrong. Do more. Try harder. Strive. Wear yourself out."

That was until I understood weakness.

God's strength is made perfect in my weakness 2 Corinthians 12:9

When I cry out to Him (in weakness) He delivers me from all my troubles Psalm 34:17

When I don't know what to pray (when I am weak) the Spirit makes intercession for me Romans 8:26

It has taken years of wrestling this old habit. I had to learn to stop reacting to a word, a person, a perceived insult to rest in my weakness. To find joy in His strength and allow His power to be made perfect. 

There is much to be gained from this dichotomy, wrestling with weakness.

Accepting my weakness forced me to acknowledge His strength. 

Accepting my weakness made me more aware of His power.

Accepting my weakness made me confident of His love for me.

I can say with all confidence, I am weak. Thank God I am weak! I have seen His power, His miracles, and His mighty hand more than ever, since humbling myself and submitting to the blessings of my own weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
There isn't a more intimate place for a relationship than to acknowledge your own weakness and lean on someone else's strength. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I'd Rather Sink Than Swim: What it Really Means to be Still and Know


 "Just trying to keep my head above water," used to be my go-to phrase, although it sounds melodramatic, it was the reality of my life.

Never getting ahead.

Going from crisis to crisis.

Just trying to make it through the day.

It was a horrible way to live.

I can't tell you when things changed, but they did. Sometimes, if I'm not careful I still feel like I step back in the water and thrash my arms around, treading the cares of the life, just to keep from drowning. Moving my arms frantically, one in front of the other, just trying to get ahead.

Often when we overcome something and experience similar symptoms again, we think, "I've lost my healing or I'm in bondage again." Be careful! That's what the enemy wants you to think. It could just be a temptation to fall back into an old way of thinking or simply to get you to give up. Always go back to the truth, the Word of God, the Bible.

Fear of my head going under water seemed like the worst possible fate until recently when I discovered that sinking is the best thing that could happen.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
After further examination of "still" I discovered it means more than just doing nothing.

Think about being in the water. What would happen if you were completely still? You would float. It evokes a peaceful picture in my mind of relaxing, surrendering and completely trusting. As beautiful as that sounds, it is only a fraction of what "still" in this verse actually means.

Looking closely at the original Hebrew definition (7503, Strong's Concordance), still, a verb, means to sink.

(Sink) and know that I am God.

What if I just stop flailing my arms around and sink? Now that's a beautiful picture of surrender.

Another meaning is fail.

(Fail) and know that I am God.

Strong's Concordance refers back to another word (7495) rapha', which means to heal. Moses and the Israelites met this God, the Lord who heals you in Exodus 15:26.
...saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”
(Sink, fail, heal) and know that I am God.

It leaves me awestruck.

He wants to heal me but, I must sink, I must fail so that I may know He is God (I am not). He never intended for me to do this in my own strength, which explains the exhaustion when "I" try to keep "my" head above water.

I have never thought of healing and failing working together. If I stop "trying to keep my head above water" I will sink, I will fail, but He will heal. It is who He is, Jehovah Rapha, God our healer.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Life You Carry Saved the World


It had been awhile since I sat in an OB/GYN office, expectancy was palatable and there were round bellies everywhere. Mamas held new babies fresh from the womb. Some held glossy slips of paper from sonograms - staring, studying and memorizing every feature, bone, and line.

Images of life. 

Soon that life would no longer be inside them but in their arms.

You can't help but remember being pregnant when you are surrounded by women carrying life. My pregnancies were amazing, I will go so far as to say life-changing.
Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.1 Timothy 2:15
With each pregnancy, there was the moment I knew I carried life and hope expanded in my heart. The moment I knew if I carried a boy or a girl and dreams were planted. The moment the Lord gave me the name that spoke to their destiny, their calling and their place in His heart and Kingdom. and prayers became specific. The moment that I prepared the room, the clothes, and my heart to welcome that baby home and reality set in. Then there was the moment of birth. Life coming forth, no longer concealed, but visible for the world to see. New life!

For a moment today, I longed to feel life inside me.

See my belly expand.

Anticipate birth.

Life. 

Then He whispered, "You carry Life too."
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Galations 2:20
What must it have been like for an unmarried, teenage girl to be told, by an angel, that she carried life? Not just any life, but the Life that would change the world as she knew it.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33
In seasons of barrenness.

In seasons of loss.

In seasons of grief.

It's there, the Life of Jesus, sustaining you.

The life of Jesus impregnating you with hope and promise.

In Him even in death, there is life.

He is life!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life..." John 14:6

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Confessions of a Former Elf Hater


Mischief and naughty deeds done by The Elf on the Shelf are all over social media this time of year. Over the years it has done little to entice me to participate in his shenanigans. I wasn’t impressed. In the elf’s defense, I had never read the book.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24
I was so unimpressed with the elf that I opted to skip a women’s tea that I have attended for 11 years because the author, Carol Aebersold, was going to be the speaker. It wasn't personal, I just wasn't interested. I’m ashamed to even admit this.
When you’re forming your opinions,
Do it carefully – go slow;
Hasty judgments oft are followed
By regretting – that I know.— Anonymous
The tea was scheduled for last Saturday and amazingly enough, it snowed in Georgia, so it was canceled. The change in schedule caused several tickets to become available and I felt this stirring, this strong desire to attend. My kids were going to be with their dad so I wouldn’t need a sitter and my oldest daughter said she’d go with me.

It was a win, win and there were two tickets left at the same table. Score.

Carol came on stage and she was a beautiful and poised woman. She was funny and engaging, but what was most impressive was her faith in God. She appealed to us to get rid of negative self-talk, act on our ideas, persevere and defeat rejection.

It took all of five minutes for me to know why I was there. She was talking to me in many areas of my life.

She shared the story of how The Elf on the Shelf came to be and the tradition it has been in her family. Carol beat the odds and overcame rejection to do what God called her to do. She used an idea that had been in her family since her children were small. It was a great reminder of how God will use what is already in our possession to bring about His purposes.

Several months ago while in Nashville I was making small talk with a woman, we were talking about children and mom things and out of the blue she said, “I’m going to give you my opinion even though you didn’t ask for it. You don't need to attend another conference or read another book. You have everything you need to do what God called you to do.” I was shocked by her boldness and grateful for it at the same time.

I knew God was speaking to me through her.

We often think if I do this one more thing, take this one more class, read one more book, then I will be able to (fill in the blank).

Carol also addressed the “naughty” elf and the “mischievous” deeds. She said she didn’t know where all that came from because it wasn’t in the book.

It wasn't in the book. 

How many people reject or even hate Jesus because of the way we act? Because of our naughty and mischievous deeds? Can I go so far to say, “Our sin?” They reject Christianity and the whole idea of Jesus because of our poor representation. Many people have never read the book (the Bible) and assume that we are representing this Jesus, just like I thought the mischief and naughtiness were representing The Elf on the Shelf book.

Ouch!

Sometimes it’s us, the church, we reject Jesus because a fellow believer did this or that. They did a "naughty" or "mischievous" deed, they sinned, and we associate their behavior with Jesus. We write Him off because we don't want any part of a God who has such unruly children.

Be careful. 

Go back to the source, read the Bible.

Before you reject the main character read the book.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Treasure that Changed My Life



Muttering under my breath with hands on her shoulders, I prayed, "Lord, send someone to her to teach her of Your great desire to heal." We were in a small group together and I knew her story and her struggle AND I knew my God.

Two weeks later she approached me and asked, "Would you consider mentoring me?"

Funny how God answers prayer isn't it?

We read through the book Christ the Healer by F.F. Bosworth.

We were both learning.

Growing.

Healing.

I looked forward to our every other week meetings in my den with the large pocket doors we would pull shut. There was usually tea and a treat if I had baked that day.

That time was precious.

In a mentoring relationship, there should be mutual respect, encouragement, and growth.
Mentorship is a demonstration of Sonship - in heaven and earth. It is a cry to the son to listen to the instructions of the Father. It is the hope of the older women to teach the younger. It is recoginziing a need for assitance and support in fortifying our callings, purpose and destiny. Theresa Harvard Johnson, Apostolic Mentorship: Critical Tools to Help Artisans Identify their God Ordained Mentor
Of all our meetings and talks, what stands out the most is one verse we came across in the book:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
A treasure.

Neither of us had read that verse before and we were so amazed by the words, I think we read it more than once.

The excitement was palpable.

We are at least nine years past those scheduled, secluded meetings in my den and she has blossomed into a confident, determined and faithful woman.

For me, that verse changed everything.

He would do it and He has, repeatedly.

He would show me things that were hidden and He has, repeatedly.

Jesus died for this so that I might have life and have it more abundantly and part of that is supernatural wisdom - the great and mighty things I do not know.

There have been many situations where this was all I had and God always came through. The message resounds throughout scripture.

When words fail...

Psalm 119:66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
When life is hard...

Psalm 119:27
Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.
When I don't understand...

Psalm 119:125
I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.
When I don't know what to do...

James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
When people fail...

1 Kings 3:11-12
God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
I say with all confidence, test Him in this. Call to Him, He will answer you AND show you great and mighty things that you have not known.

The treasure is two-fold; I found a nugget of truth that has sustained me in many situations for many years, but the greater treasure was discovering it with someone who was searching too. We find treasure by pursuing God through His Word and pursuing relationships with those He puts in our lives.

Treasure is meant to be found.