Friday, July 30, 2010

The Light Will Come

To the one with the wounded heart
The years fighting have left you scarred
Wait the light will come
To the one with the distant eyes
All this crying has left you dry
Wait the light will come

Lift your eyes
The sun has overcome the night
Come alive
As we shine in loves true light

Here is laughter beyond the tears
Here is courage to face your fears
Look the light has come
So rise you daughters and stand you sons
Claim the victory that Jesus won
Look the Light has come

These are the words to Phil Wickham's song The Light Will Come.  Can you relate to the words of this song?  Are you having a time of darkness - difficulties that seem to pull you down, wave after wave, keeping you from seeing the light at times?  Maybe it's a relationship that has gone bad.  Maybe you lost your job and it seems there are no jobs to be found and time is ticking.  Some people are living in a dark cloud of depression which keeps them down - even when they have what seems to be the "perfect life".  Life can be so hard sometimes.  I can totally relate.

We all, at some point, wait for the light to come.  As a believer in Jesus, I know that I have found the true Light in my life, but that doesn't mean that every day is sunshine and rainbows.  There are times I have to have faith (dig deep to believe the light is there even though I cannot see it or feel it sometimes) because we live in a very dark, dangerous world that is filled with sin.  The Light has come - and whatever it is you are going through today, that is a promise of God. 

The problem is, sometimes we get comfortable in our darkness.  It's what we are used to.  Think about it - when you are in a room and the lights go out, at first you are in a room of pitch blackness.  But after awhile you begin to see more and more as your eyes adjust to the darkness around you.  It becomes so comfortable, in fact, that you close your eyes instinctively when someone walks into a room and switches the light on and you squint to keep the light from blinding you!
 
Let's consider the light of the sun:  First, it makes things grow.  It gives life to living things.  It is warm, comforting and soothing, but it can also be exposing, bright and offensive if you've been in darkness for a long time.  It gives us light to see our way.  Come to think of it, those same qualities of the sun are also qualities of the Son.  I like that.  And just like the sun rise, the Son rises gently in our lives, not harshly like the person who walks into a room and flips the switch that makes you close your eyes and squint in pain!

OK, there is an exception to this in the bible - when Christ appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus...that is a super-cool true story of how a man who persecuted and killed Christians met Jesus Christ, face to face and was blinded physically by the light and purity of Jesus but actually had his eyes opened spiritually (you can read about this in Acts 9)!  He had problems with his physical eyesight from that moment on, though he did see well enough to travel around telling others the Truth about Jesus Christ.  And spiritually speaking, his eyes were so opened that the Holy Spirit used him to write about two-thirds of the New Testament!  So, you see, Christ used a time of physical darkness in Saul's life to bring light to his spiritual eyes.  Could it be that He may be using the time of darkness in your life to do the same?

I pray today that if you are experiencing darkness in your life you will be strengthened in your faith that the Light will come.  Jesus is there - He is not going to allow this darkness to consume you!  Reach out to Him - He is gentle and kind and He has come to give us hope in a dark world.  We cannot be afraid to allow Him to expose the dark areas of our lives, though.  Maybe your darkness is caused by hurts or pains in your life and though you are a believer, it seems dark today. You are a child of the Light according to the Bible - so don't allow the enemy to rob you of your joy and your peace!  Walk in the truth of who you are - Whose you are.

Maybe your darkness is there because you are not walking in the Light of Jesus - you are not a believer and you are not sure about all this "Jesus stuff".  I pray today that you will see that He loves you and He wants to bring you out of this darkness and into His marvelous Light!  John 3:19-21 says "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."  


Today I pray that God will lift the darkness in your life gently - that the Son will shine and give you comfort and peace in this dark world.  How good our God is to give us the Hope that He does! We don't deserve it, we don't earn it, He just loves us and wants the best for us.

The Light has come.


For more information on how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit www.needhim.org

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It Is Written...

When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he used scripture to fight the enemy, which is exactly what we are to do.  That is one of the reasons why it's so important that we actually read the Word of God and know what it says.  As the youth pastor at TCBC spoke about Jesus' temptation the other night, I kept thinking about the way Jesus would not even talk to the enemy unless He was quoting scripture - He just spoke truth and the enemy had to flee.

So today I thought I'd put together a few scriptures we can memorize and have in our arsenal when the enemy comes knocking.  Instead of wrestling with the temptation, we can be like Jesus and confidently say "It is written..." and then fill in the blank with the appropriate scripture.  It's time to stand up and be strong in the LORD and His mighty power!  Here are a few examples - maybe you can think of some that help you in your journey?

When tempted to be angry...
It is written...."Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. I am to live at peace with everyone as much as it is up to me." (Matthew 5:22 & Romans 12:18)

When tempted to commit adultery...
It is written...."Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man & the lust of his eyes - does not come from the Father." (Matthew 5:28 & 1 John 2:16)

When tempted to complain...
It is written..."Do everything without arguing or complaining." (Philippians 2:14) "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

When tempted to be a people-pleaser, not a God-pleaser...
It is written..."I am not here to please men, but God.  If I were here to please men, I would not be Christ's servant." (Galatians 1:10)

When tempted to be discouraged...
It is written..."But My righteous one will live by faith... But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." (Hebrews 10:38-39) "Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid; for the LORD your God goes with you - He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)


When tempted to fear...
It is written..."God does not give us the spirit of fear and timidity but of power,  love and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) and "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18)


When tempted to argue...
It is written..."Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know that they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth..." (2 Timothy 2:23-25)

When tempted to gossip...
It is written..."Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

When tempted to give up...
It is written..."Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  (1 Cor. 15:58)  and "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.." (James 1:12)

When tempted to forgo reading/studying the Bible...
It is written..."Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  I have taken an oath and confirmed it that I will follow your righteous laws." (Psalm 119:105-106) 

When tempted to lose faith...
It is written..."Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1) and "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Timothy 2:13)

When tempted to deny Christ (or be ashamed of being a Christian)... 
It is written..."I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16)

When tempted to be divided (dis-unity)...
It is written..."I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10)

I hope you see how relevant and powerful scripture is to our lives today!  If you have certain scriptures you use in this way, please leave a comment with the scripture reference and what it helps you to overcome!  Let's make an arsenal of powerful scriptures to help us fight the temptations that come our way each day!  God's Word is alive and powerful - and if we are going to fight this battle, it's so important that we use the offensive weapon He provides - His Word (the Sword of the Spirit).  After all, isn't that what Jesus used?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Post-Surgery Update!

The surgery went well and I'm feeling much better these days!  The healing process was just as my doctors said - 48 hours of pretty bad pain and then progressively getting better.  I don't know yet if the infection has been eliminated but we will find out at my 2-week follow up appointment.  My doctor has given me an antibiotic rinse to use 3-4 times per day and I've been diligently following her instructions and praying for healing!  Please continue to pray for complete healing!  Thanks so much.

There have been other adjustments in my life recently, too.  I have been working full-time as the International Communication Coordinator at SIM International for the past four months.  I really enjoyed my position there and met some amazing people who I call family now!  However, I did realize quickly that a full-time international position was more than I could do with my other responsibilities, so I've decided to continue to help them out as a volunteer and consultant in their communication department and also continue to help them with a monthly podcast, but the rest of the position's responsibilities I have relinquished. 

This was a tough call - because I really enjoyed it!  But I know I did the right thing.  Right now I'm trying to heal up and get rid of this relentless infection and just spend time with my family, while continuing to speak, write and teach the occasional fitness class at the YMCA.  A little simpler, I suppose you could say!  Who knows what God has for me in the future - but for now I'm super content and grateful for what the Lord is showing me through all of this.  He's so good!

All of this to say - we've had a lot going on here!  My blogging hasn't been quite as regular (sometimes a girl just needs to be quiet - something I struggle with - ha!) but that doesn't mean I haven't had a lot on my mind.  I will get more regular with blogging once I'm back to myself again and I look forward to sharing with you all that I've learned!

Tomorrow I get to travel to TN to speak to some amazing ladies at Celebration Church!  I had the privilege of sharing with them last year and they have kindly asked me back.  I cannot wait to see them again.  On Wednesday morning I will be on the Morning Show with Brian Sumner at WCQR from 7-9am (www.wcqr.org) and I'm really looking forward to it!  You can listen in online live if you are not in that listening area.

Have a wonderful day - thanks for checking in on my blog! 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!  Colossians 3:16

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pain with Purpose

So tomorrow is the big day - I'm having surgery on my adenoids.  Weird, huh?  Even the doctors think it's weird for a woman my age to have an adenoidectomy. :)  Usually that's a kid thing, isn't it?  I've had a very persistent infection up there for a long time and it's time we just get it out of there.  I am looking forward to not having these headaches, the dark circles under my eyes and the earaches, etc...that come with it - so I will look forward to that instead of dreading the next few days!

Anyway, I'm glad to be getting it over with but I'm not looking forward to the pain.  Hate it.  I could be all super-spiritual and say I'm looking forward to the suffering but I am not gonna lie to you.  I am not a fan of suffering, but I am a total fan of the fact that I know it's not in vain.  God will use it, I know this to be true.  It will be pain with a purpose. 

My surgery is scheduled for 8am tomorrow.  I have to be there at 6am.  I'm all about getting there early enough to get knocked out so I can just get it over with, but wow - that will come early! :)  I'm reminded of my skydiving experience in 2004 for some reason.  I dreaded it but wanted to do it so bad so it would be over with and then I could move on, having conquered my fear.  I loved it and hated it all at once.  Tomorrow is a little different, but it's the same love/dread thing. 

All of this to say...I'd appreciate your prayers!  I have a speaking event next week at Celebration Church in TN and my doctor expects me to be recovered by then, so please pray that will be the case!  I checked & re-checked with her to be sure.  She said "No problem".   I have heard that if you have your tonsils out with the adenoidectomy it's dreadful - but that just having the adenoid surgery should not be as bad.  I hope that I've heard correctly...LOL

In the meantime, here's a verse that is encouraging me today..."Trust in Him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lost Cause? Think Again.

She was a young teenage prostitute.  A Christian missionary (we'll call her Jane) who lived in the area had taken her in and given her a place to live and, to her dismay, the young girl stole things from her home whenever she would leave.  But instead of sending her out, she would just take her with her whenever she'd leave the house - even on dates!  She put her through a program of rehabilitation and watched as the young girl, who was still a teen, went right back into her lifestyle - time and time again.  Jane eventually moved away.

Jane continued to pray for this young girl daily by name.  She plead with God to save her, to change her and to give her a new life.  Several years later, Jane received the call she so desperately wanted to receive...the young girl had turned her life over to Jesus and had successfully gone through rehab!  She had a new life.  The rejoicing was mixed with awe as she praised God for this miracle!

Is there someone in your life that you've given up on?  Someone you've prayed for so long that you're beginning to wonder if it's worth it?  Maybe they are too far gone.  Maybe you feel you need to move on. Or maybe there is someone you sense God is prodding you to share the Good News with but you feel that they are not going to respond - and you're not even sure you want them to!  Please...be encouraged.  There is no one on earth that God cannot save.   He has the power and the Bible clearly says that He desires that all people come to repentance! 

Often I think we can come off as a sort of "Jonah" in the world.  Jonah thought Ninevah was a lost cause - that the people were so sinful that not only did he not believe God would save them, but he actually didn't even want Him to save them!  He ran from God's call to share the truth with them because he felt it was hopeless.  Then, the storm came and he was swallowed up by a fish where he stayed for three days.  Eventually, Jonah reluctantly obeyed God and when he preached to Ninevah, the entire city repented!  Instead of rejoicing, Jonah had a pity party.  "Why would God save these despicable people? " But God used Jonah's "belly of the whale" experience to bring him low in order to lift him up to be used in a mighty way as He reminded Jonah of His awesome power and might. 

I'm not sure who it is you're praying for or who you may have given up on or maybe you are even avoiding being around them...but I know that we serve a powerful God.  If He is calling you to reach out to someone - someone you see as sinful, hopeless or even despicable...don't run from this call.  When we do this, we will inevitably find ourselves in a storm and may even spend some time (not literally - but figuratively) in the belly of the whale.  God's love for the lost is a very motivating and powerful force!

If God calls you to it, He will see you through it.  He will give you words to speak, He will begin a work in the heart of that person (or those people).  Trust Him and don't hold back - He is mighty to save!

After all, didn't He save you?  (smile)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Listening

As I expected, I received some loving but firm emails from people who read my blog the other day when I wrote about some of the music I listen to sometimes.  I want you to know that I truly do appreciate that there is concern for my spiritual well-being (I mean it - thank you).  I also wanted to explain a few things, so you can see where I'm coming from (and where I'm not coming from) not because I feel I owe anyone any explanations, but because I want to share what God is teaching me through it all since I love to do that sort of thing (smile).

First, let me say that I try to be led by the Holy Spirit in every area of my life.  As a result, I actually do listen to more positive, uplifting and encouraging music than not.  I love praise and worship music and would prefer that over anything else most of the time.  I don't feel guilty when I listen to "secular" music, though.  I learn from it.  Let me explain.

I feel that sometimes secular music is very honest - these are people who are expressing themselves through artistic ways - the way God created them to express themselves.  I have an artist son who expresses himself through photography, for instance.  Sometimes I get freaked out by his photos - they can be weird at times - but he's expressing himself.  It's how he cries out and expresses the hurt in his life - the pain and rejection.  I believe music is a way that people do that, too.  When I'm hurting, I write poetry.  Sometimes it's very honest and some people may not like that.  But it's real.  It's who I am.

Listening the Pink Floyd the other day, I honestly heard something I'd never heard before.  I heard a man who is confused about who God is.  He sang in one song "When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of my eye - I turned to look but it was gone, I cannot put my finger on it now - the child is grown, the dream is gone.  I have become comfortably numb."  I imagined a man who was looking for the Truth - but every time he'd look for it, it would be snatched away.  This immediately reminded me of Luke 8:12 - "Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved."

There was more in his music that told me this man has a very twisted view of God.  He imagines that God is judgmental, cruel, ready to throw everyone "up against the wall".  It seemed to me that someone at some point, some one who confessed to be a Christian in his life has treated him with such contempt that he has labeled God as a result.  He feels judged, confused and to ease his confusion, he tries to numb himself and makes assumptions, all the while expressing himself through his art. 

I will be honest - I actually shed some tears as I listened to his hurt and pain.  I wondered if making music like that was his way of shoving out the people out of his life who would refuse to listen to his "devil music".  What if someone listened, understood and prayed for him?  What if someone had approached him, in love?  The thoughts flooded my mind.  I can say it was convicting - something I know most people wouldn't understand could happen through secular music, but it happened to me.  I'm just being honest.

There's another song from a secular band called Linkin Park that I listen to sometimes.  I like their music, though some of their songs I cannot listen to out of personal conviction.  However, there is a song they sing where they say "Crawling in my skin...these wounds they will not heal.  Fear is how I fall - confusing what is real."  Gosh, I can relate to this!  I remember when I was seeking the Truth in life - it was just like that.  They are expressing themselves.  Another song they say "Put to rest what you thought of me while I clean this slate of uncertainty.  Let mercy come and wash away what I've done.  I'll face myself to cross out what I've become, erase myself - forgiving what I've done."  Sounds like a guy who is hurting and is seeking forgiveness to me.  There are many more examples I could share with you - but I think you get the point.

I'm not telling anyone they need to go out and listen to secular music and try to analyze and spiritualize all the songs. I'm not trying to make excuses.  I'm being real (something, I've told you, is very important to me).  I hear the hearts of these people.  Some of the secular music is just gross - horrific if you ask me.  But a lot of it is just people that God created who are expressing themselves and trying to deal with the confusion, hurt and pain that they have in life.

Most people who are not believers tell me that Christians just don't take the time to listen to them.  I know that's true with me sometimes.  I feel I'm right and I get pushy with my beliefs.  Maybe if I would listen to what people are saying and pray for understanding...maybe if I would remember where I came from and be reminded of the deception that is in the world...maybe then they would see I am trying to relate to them instead of pushing them away again?  As a believer, I have the Holy Spirit of God in me! He will lead and guide and direct me.  I cannot be afraid.  He will tell me when I shouldn't listen to something.  He will convict me when I'm crossing the line.

Often I feel that we are afraid - afraid to face what people are feeling and expressing.  But we don't need to be afraid.  God doesn't give us the spirit of fear!  Every love song that is written is written from that place God created in each of us to be loved and to love - but often we hear the words going to someone that cannot love them back the way God can.  Listen.  Really listen.  There's more to the music than we assume.

Important note - if you have a conviction about listening to secular music and it's coming from the Holy Spirit and not a place of legalism, you need to heed this warning.  You must obey Him!  We all have different convictions.  For instance - I don't go near alcohol because I used to struggle with alcoholism, but another believer may be able to have a glass of wine without any problems or convictions.  We must not judge others, though, if they do not have a conviction about something.  We must trust that the Holy Spirit within them will lead them.  If we want to pray for them or even confront them in love - it must be under the guidance of the Spirit of God or it's just us trying to do His judging job for Him and I can tell you from experience, it will not go well!

Paul talked about this from the perspective of eating in Romans 14.  Some of the folks were hung up on what they should or shouldn't be eating in order to be a "good Christian".  It's the same deal - no matter if it's what we eat, what we read, what we do...these scriptures apply.  Romans 14:3-4 "The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

And finally, Titus 1:15 "To the pure, all things are pure..."  and Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart - for they will see God."


I see God in His creation.  I hear Him in music and in lyrics, sometimes even when the people who wrote it are not Christians.  Sometimes I just want to rock out and I just enjoy the music.  Other times I'm introspective.  Sometimes I just want a good cry.  I like music.  God created me this way.

I have to have a good balance - but I cannot keep turning my head from the cries of the lost.  I hope you will not condemn me for my personal beliefs - but even if you do, I still love you and welcome you to grow with me. :)  Listen today...with new ears.  Look...with new eyes.  Ask Him to show you something new today.  And don't be afraid when He does.

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