Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fear of the Unknown

There's a lot of scary stuff going on in the world today and I can honestly say it is just more than I can process in my mind at times. What is going on in our world?  It can be tempting to begin to fear. Fear the "what if's" and the "how come's" that we naturally feel when things don't make sense. And on more than one occasion lately, I believe those very words have come out of my mouth: This makes no sense.

In Matthew 14:22-33, we read about a storm the disciples were facing on the boat in the middle of the sea where they were being tossed by the waves.  As frightening as that may seem to us, there is no mention of the disciples being afraid until verse 25..."Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying 'It's a ghost!' And they cried out in fear." 

I think that is interesting.  They were just fine with the storm, but it was something they could not explain or comprehend in their mind that tipped them over the edge into fear.  When our brains see something unexplainable, we panic. 
Immediately, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  Another version of the Bible says "Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid."  And yet another says "Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid."  So, Jesus knows they are afraid of what they do not understand and he knows that in order for them to overcome that fear, they must take courage.

Did you get that?  It wasn't something that came naturally.  It was something they had to take, a choice they had to make, an action they had to take.  And in His presence, they were able to settle their hearts.  Peter even had the opportunity to walk on water!  But once Peter began to walk on water, his mind, again, didn't comprehend how he could be doing it so once again he became afraid and started to sink.  Again, Peter was faced with another opportunity to "take" when he reached out to take the extended hand of Jesus and He pulled him out of the water. Jesus understood the fear Peter felt and had compassion on him, but again, it had to be a choice Peter made to take what Jesus was offering freely.

Today, if you are beginning to feel paralyzed by your fear or if you are sinking because you feel like it's more than you can comprehend, I want you to remember this verse and repeat it over and over in your mind:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ)

We cannot trust in our own understanding when things don't make sense, but that doesn't mean we have to panic or fear.  God is still in control.  He is still sovereign, or He wouldn't be God.  When we cannot trace His hand in a situation, we can always know His heart. He knows what is happening and He has a plan, even if we don't understand it. 

"Lean not on your own understanding" would also include when we don't have any understanding at all. Instead of focusing on the things we don't understand, as Peter did when he began to sink or as the disciples did when they saw what they thought was a ghost, let's reach out for the One who understands everything completely.  His arms are always reaching for us and He will give us peace in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of uncertainty and rest in the midst of a world that is most definitely in a state of unrest.  Fear can be paralyzing or mobilizing.  We have a choice.

So, what's going on in the world today?  I'm going to trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on what I do or don't understand, acknowledging Him as Lord along the way.  Then, and only then, can I "take heart".  It's a choice I must make.  It's a choice we all must make. There are always going to be things we may not understand, but one thing we can always know for sure...God is still God.  That will never change.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lifting the Cynical Fog

My friend let me borrow the book A Praying Life by David Powlinson a couple of months ago and it has taken me awhile to pick it up due to my busy schedule. I finally picked it up last week and for some reason, I began reading it in Chapter 9. The title of the chapter? Understanding Cynicism. 

I was instantly drawn to it, as if it had all the answers to all the questions I'd been struggling with for the past year and a half. I've read Chapters 9, 10 and 11 so much I've practically memorized them at this point! They all deal with the sin of cynicism.

I have always been an optimist, a very happy, half-full kind of spirit. I went through some rough spots in some different areas of my life, where I began to see that not everyone was genuine. It seems as though every couple of years, I'm faced with the reality that people are not always what they appear to be and I somehow would be able to push through with God's help. But this time I just didn't seem to have the strength to fight the lies. I kept telling myself that it didn't matter, I needed to focus on Christ, people are not perfect...I kept telling myself those things, but clearly I was not listening.

Fast forward a year and a half later and I've got a real struggle with cynicism. The very thing I hate the most.  And I am learning a lot as I work through this. I process things so much better when I write them out, so here are some of the things I'm journaling about in this journey - I want to share them because as I talk to others about it, I'm realizing this is a big, big problem in the church. We all know it's a big problem outside of the church, but that's for someone else's blog. I'm just going to address what I've seen inside because that's what Paul reminded us to do in 1 Corinthians 5.

Here are a few "gems" from the book:

Cynicism is the opposite of a childlike spirit. It dulls your soul. It questions God instead of believing Him. 

Cynicism begins, oddly enough, with too much of the wrong kind of faith, with naive optimism or foolish confidence. At first glance, genuine faith and naive optimism appear identical since both foster confidence and hope. But the similarity is only surface deep. Often, with naive optimism, faith is put into the goodness of humanity instead of the goodness of God. But optimism rooted in the goodness of people collapses when it confronts the dark side of life.  

A cynical spirit will give you the illusion of righteousness. It assumes you know better than others, it assumes motives of others' hearts and basically, it's rooted in pride.

To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of "being in the know" cynicism actually destroys intimacy. 

The first sin was initiated with cynicism - questioning God. The serpent used cynicism to get Eve to question God. We've been doing this ever since. You see the results!

Cynicism makes us go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. It shifts our focus from Christ to our circumstances.

A cynical spirit clouds your judgment. With every lie you believe, imagine the fog settling into your vision. I've noticed that when I'm cynical, I get depressed easily and I cannot see the good in much of anything. It reminded me of the photo of my front yard view on a sunny, clear day contrasted with the same view on a cloudy, foggy day. Nothing has changed except the circumstances around me. The view is the same, but I cannot see it. I must have faith that it is still there, even though I cannot see it. Cynicism tells me it's not there anymore.

So could you be cynical? Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you question other people's motives? Do you trust less than you used to trust? Do you find intimacy with others difficult? Do you isolate yourself? Has anyone in a ministry or church leadership hurt you and as a result, has it effected your faith? Are you focused more on the circumstances of your life than you are the truth that God is good?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, please pray and ask God to show you the root of your cynical spirit. I've been struggling through this and though it has not been easy, it is really helping me to understand that a lot of my cynicism comes from my naive optimism - my faith was in people, not God.

Here's a Psalm that has been helping me, too. I almost gasped when I got to verse 11. It nailed me down to a tee! God's Word cannot fail, my friend.

Psalm 116

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
    for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
    as I live here on earth!
10 I believed in you, so I said,
    “I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
11 In my anxiety I cried out to you,
    “These people are all liars!”
12 What can I offer the Lord
    for all he has done for me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
14 I will keep my promises to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 The Lord cares deeply
    when his loved ones die.
16 Lord, I am your servant;
    yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people—
19 in the house of the Lord
    in the heart of Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Not About the Cups

I have a confession.

It's not going to be pretty. Fair warning.

I got angry today.

I was angry because I heard that some Christians were said to be angry about red cups at Starbucks not representing Jesus well during the Christmas Season. How ridiculous. Seriously? Personally, I don't know anyone who is angry about this but I digress.

Then I became angry that the media, yet again, seemed to be putting down all Christians because of the reactions of some. My eyes rolled. Why must I always defend myself? I vented. It felt great for a few minutes. After all, I wasn't that kind of Christian. And people needed to know!

Then I noticed everyone on social media was venting, too. I began to get a little irritated by that. Now I was angry that everyone was angry. I was even angry with myself. Why did I fall for the hype?

I opened my Bible because I wanted to know what Jesus thought about cups. (smile)

Here's what I found:

Jesus tells us not to be concerned about the outside of the "cup", but more so with the inside (Matthew 23:25-26).  Once the inside is clean, the outside will eventually become clean, too. He was actually speaking to the religious folks, the ones who thought they had it all together. I came to the conclusion, based on Scripture, that He's probably not concerned about the outside of Starbucks' cups. Jesus had bigger fish to fry. That's all I needed to know.

I paused. I prayed. I realized....

The inside of my cup was not clean. I was nursing anger. Anger doesn't produce the things of God. God was using this cup hilarity to show me my heart. It had nothing to do with Starbucks. It had everything to do with my heart.

So, I asked God to forgive me. I was angry, I was frustrated and I was self-righteous. Again.
(I told you this wouldn't be pretty)

All of this to say:

Thank you, Starbucks. Thank you for the brilliant marketing strategy that has everyone talking. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. God used it to reveal my heart to me and even though it wasn't pretty, it was important for me to see.

Oh, and thank you for bringing back Carmel Brulee Lattes. They are amazing.

#mycupiscleannow


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rise and Shine

I have to figure out how to make this my alarm. I need to hear this every single day - first thing!

I feel like I can do everything God has asked me to do when I hear this.

Now, if I could just believe it every day....

Thursday, September 10, 2015

How Important is Rest?

When people come into HUB Fitness, they sign in through our computer with a key-fab that alerts us that they are there. However, if we walk away from the computer, it shuts down into sleep mode after about 3 minutes.  Someone programmed it to do that, so it did.  But when people try to sign in, it won't allow it because my computer is asleep! I decided to change the programming to "never" sleep hoping it wouldn't do that and we would just remember to shut it down. This is the message I received:


Interesting.

This is a lesson I learned last year! I was so sleep deprived, that it had begun to really take a toll on my health. I've learned so much about the importance of rest. I'm thankful I learned it before things out of hand with me. 

In the movie Inside Out, they show (very adorably) that when your body rests and goes to sleep, that is when your brain sort of goes into "organizational" mode. Your brain stores memories, cleans up and gets things in order and ready for the next day. Your blood pressure goes down. Your heart rests. Our body goes to work the moment we stop working, basically. But if we aren't resting enough, our bodies will shut down.  

Just like our computers. 

Seems we may need some re-programming.

When is the last time you rested, I mean really rested? Jesus is super clear with us that rest is important. He even encourages us to, "Come to Me all who are weary and carry heaven burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) 

God commanded the Israelites to rest on the seventh day. He also told them to work for 6 years, and take time to rest on the 7th year. They pushed through for many years, not observing that rest, and ended up in captivity as a result. You see, God wasn't commanding rest to be controlling or to be demanding.  He was commanding it because He programmed us. He programmed us to need rest. Even God, who is perfect, took time to rest! And like our computer at work, if we never sleep our lives will be shortened and/or we will end up in captivity. God gives us commands because He knows how we are built to thrive! And I think we would be wise to listen to our Supreme Programmer.

I want to encourage you today to re-evaluate your schedule and make sure you are taking time to rest. Sometimes, like me, people learn the hard way. We crash and burn and then walk away having learned. But if you can learn before that happens, and take the steps you need to rest, you will never have to experience that crash! That is my hope for you, my friend.

Feel like you don't have time? God will take care of redeeming the time. He never asks us to do something without giving us provision to do it. In all honesty, you cannot afford not to rest. The time it puts back into your life will be well worth it.

Rest, my friend.

Exodus 34:14 The LORD replied, "I will personally go with you...I will give you rest. Everything will be fine for you." 




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Physical and Spiritual Fitness Paralleled

It's been such a whirlwind of excitement over the past few weeks as we have settled into our new adventure at HUB Fitness. Rod and I purchased the facility back in June and our feet hit the floor running from the moment we signed the papers. I absolutely love it!

Things are coming together and I'm beginning to see more and more the eternal purposes God has for me at HUB. We are a fitness facility and the main thing we do is offer a place for people to go to learn, workout and be active together. But as a believer, I am fully aware that God has even more in mind for me there. He always has a bigger picture and an eternal purpose, no matter where He places us. And I look forward to seeing how He plays it out in the days to come.

Having been in ministry for so many years, I've noticed a lot of similarities between fitness of the body and fitness in the spirit. Going to the gym is a lot like going to church. Being healthy physically is a lot like being healthy spiritually. They have a lot of the same characteristics, struggles and victories. Here are a few that come to mind:
  • They both take a lot of work and self-discipline (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • There is no quick fix for either. (Philippians 1:6
  • You need accountability in both areas to succeed. (Hebrews 10:25)
  • It's easy to make excuses not to do either one. (Proverbs 12:15)
  • The benefits far outweigh the demands. (1 John 5:12)
  • Physical and spiritual fitness do not take time from your life - they put life into your time. (John 14:6)
  • You need rest to recover both physically and spiritually.  When you pour out, you need time for re-filling. (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • Lifting will make you stronger in both.  In physical fitness - lifting weights; in spiritual fitness - lifting His Name (1 Timothy 2:8).
  • We should not compare ourselves with others in either one, for we are each designed specifically by God for the purpose He has for our lives. (Galatians 6:4-5)
  • Both are extremely beneficial in growing our confidence. (Proverbs 3:25-26)
  • It's inspiring to see someone who is succeeding in being spiritually or physically fit. (Proverbs 28:12)
  • It's always a struggle in the beginning, but once you start to see and feel results, you wonder how you ever lived without it. (Joshua 1:7-9)
I'm sure there are more examples - these are just the ones that came to me. If you can think of others, leave them in the comments section! It's really baffling to me that the things that matter most to us and to our health (physically & spiritually) are the most difficult to begin and keep up with sometimes. We find excuses, we justify our (in)actions and we suffer so much (unnecessarily) as a result. I wonder why that is? One thing I do know - without God's help in both, I'd be a mess.  He is the One who gives me strength to fight the battle and equips me along the way, both physically and spiritually. 

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  1 Timothy 4:8

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Together

I've never been more proud to live in South Carolina. We just experienced an unspeakable tragedy and yet it seems we are coming together and being of one heart and mind instead of being angry and unforgiving. 

I have thought a lot about the shooting in Charleston over the past few days and I believe that if it had been me that was shot and killed, my one dying prayer would be that God would use the tragedy to bring others to Himself - that He would redeem it and bring good from a senseless and ignorant act of hate and evil. It seems that is just what is happening. I believe God is showing us how big He really is right now.

I know I am a white woman and I have no idea what it's like to be treated with such hatred and disregard by ignorant people because of the color of my skin, but I don't have to be a black woman in order to feel the sting of loss here. These may not have been my brothers and sisters in race, but they were absolutely my brothers and sisters in Christ. How do I know?

They were studying Scriptures - together. 

They were praying - together

They were doing what believers do, even as they were gunned down - they were growing in their faith - together

And they stepped into the presence of the very God they loved so faithfully - together.  

I truly believe they would not want people to react with hate, violence and anger. Their families are a beautiful example of the grace and forgiveness I believe they would all show. They will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)

We are believers. It's what we are called to do - together.

May God be glorified, may hearts be made new and may Christ be Lord over this tragedy, silencing the ignorance of evil intentions.


#RomansEightTwentyEight


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fun News!

I've already made an announcement on Facebook about this, but I wanted to share with those who
follow my blog that my husband and I are going to be business owners! We are in the process of purchasing HUB Fitness in the Downtown area of Travelers Rest.

I've been working there for the past year as a fitness instructor, and I've grown to absolutely love the people, the location, the classes and pretty much everything about this place! It's a true blessing for Travelers Rest to have a facility like this - right in the heart of TR's fast growing Main Street! And the members are such a blessing to us.

Jennifer Arends, a successful triathlete, long-distance runner and Ironman competitor, started HUB Fitness on in April of 2014 and it has been a successfully growing business. She also started HUB Coaching, where she coaches athletes who are training for triathlons, races, marathons and ironman competitions. Both businesses grew so much in the first year, and in order to be able to give her clients the attention they deserve (while still being able to spend time with her family), Jennifer made the decision to sell HUB Fitness to me and my husband. She knows I have a passion, much like hers, for not only HUB Fitness, but for helping the entire Travelers Rest community get fit and healthy.  I guess you could say it's a "win-win" situation!

Please come visit us online at www.hub-fitnesstr.com or better yet, if you are in the area, stop by and say hello! And if you live in the area, there is a free week pass you can sign up for on our website. We want you to come check us out and see what you've been missing! Our whole philosophy at HUB Fitness rests on commitment, consistency and community. 

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands. 
Psalm 90:17


Friday, June 5, 2015

The Root of People Pleasing

"I'm a people pleaser." You hear it a lot. Maybe you even say it. Many of us are always trying to please everyone - and frankly we're exhausted. It's a struggle we think is rooted in "niceness", so it
can't be that bad, right? It's almost as if it is a sin we think is okay because it makes people happy. God wants us to make people happy, right?

But what if we're wrong?

What if our desire to please everyone is rooted in pride and has nothing to do with being nice?

What if we are trying to please everyone because we have a deep desire to be well-liked? 

What if it has nothing to do with the other person being happy, but it's all about ME being liked? 

That is what I began to see the other day as I drove down the road, listening to Greg Laurie preach. He mentioned that Satan's fall came because he desired to be worshipped, instead of worshipping God. I felt a nudge in my Spirit. Wanting to be "well-liked" isn't a too far off cousin from wanting to be "worshipped". It struck fear in my heart.  I began to see my true motive. It wasn't pretty.

Lately I have been feeling God trying to pry my white-knuckled fingers off my people pleasing issues. I guess I always thought it was because I really liked people, so I want them to be happy. But I'm beginning to see it in a whole new light. It is rooted in my desire to be liked.

I'm entering a new chapter in my life as my husband and I are purchasing a fitness center in Travelers Rest called HUB Fitness.  I know we will not please everyone in this process and that scares me so much. As long as I try to please everyone, though, guess where my focus will be? Not on my vision. Not on my purpose. Not on God's best...but on their idea of what is best.  Have you ever noticed how everyone's idea of what is best is always conflicting with other people's ideas? This can lead to considerable frustration if I don't trust God to help me through it and change my heart!

Perhaps that is why Paul adamantly proclaimed in Galatians 1:10, "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant."

Thank you, Father, for your conviction and for revealing my heart in this. Give me strength to be okay with people not agreeing, people not liking me, and please give me wisdom to stand for what you want me to do - no matter what anyone else may think.




Monday, May 18, 2015

My Journey Back to Health

This post has been a long time coming. There was so much in me that did not want to share the photo that I knew had to accompany this blog, and yet the truth is, I feel I need to share it and just be real about the past year and a half and the struggles I have been dealing with during that time. My prayer is that perhaps my story will encourage someone else who may be dealing with something that seems insurmountable in their life.

For a little over two years, I had the privilege of being a part of a Radio Morning Show. Yes, it had it's benefits and I definitely enjoyed the job - but the part that was hardest on me was the lack of sleep. With two teen daughters who like to talk late at night, a full time job of being a wife and mother and my getting up at 3am Monday through Friday, life really began to take it's toll on my health. I gave all I had to the morning show, and by the afternoon, I was running on fumes. My family got my left-overs.

I would always promise myself I would nap during the day, but I'd get busy and never would. As a result of my lack of sleep, I lost motivation and desire to go to the gym. I was totally exhausted. My blood pressure went up and I was even put on a blood pressure medication, which then resulted in my needing a potassium supplement (I ended up in the hospital with heart issues as a result of low potassium). I began to struggle with anxiety and was put on anti-anxiety medication and my brain began to literally shut down. I lost my memory, I was constantly in "fight or flight" mode and as a result, I put on about 30 pounds and began to fall into depression.

What is so ironic is that after the birth of my son in 1992, I began my first fight against obesity and poor health. I began taking fitness classes and then got hooked and began to study to be an instructor myself. I loved the progress I was making physically and wanted to share my enthusiasm with others by helping them achieve their goals, too. I instructed fitness classes, trained, coached and encouraged people for over 20 years. I even wrote a book about fitness! I didn't stop doing this until I quit working in the fitness industry in order to focus on my radio career. What I didn't realize was that my exhaustion and lack of sleep would lead to the exact same fight, just a little over 2 years later.

I remember having the thoughts, "Well, I guess this is it. I'm going to be overweight now for the rest of my life." I sort of gave up on myself and resigned myself to living this "new life" I'd created for myself. It was such a hopeless feeling. I began to pray for God's direction in my life. I knew something had to change. And I knew He would help give me the courage to do what I needed to do to reclaim what I had lost. Not only was I suffering physically, but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

After swallowing hard, trusting God and stepping away from the morning show, I decided to try to get back into fitness. I studied and became re-certified, went to Columbia and received my Zumba license (after being licensed in 2003, I had let it lapse) and I began to teach classes at HUB Fitness last summer. I began to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night and started eating more carefully. I noticed my cravings for carbohydrates went down when I began sleeping more. I also noticed that my brain fog lifted and my memory was getting so much better.  Within a few months, I was taken off my blood pressure medication and of course, that allowed me to go off my potassium supplement. I was also taken off my anti-anxiety medication. It was such a great feeling!

One of my classes at HUB Fitness! I LOVE these people!
Today, I have gone from a size 16 to a size 8 and I've lost 20 inches - but more than that, I feel so much better. I am enjoying instructing fitness classes and encouraging people to meet their fitness goals at HUB Fitness in Travelers Rest and I can finally, after a year, say that I feel like I'm getting my old self back again. It's not so much about the weight as much as it is about the way I feel so much better! No more medications, no more brain fog, no more feeling like my family is getting my leftovers.

I'm so thankful to God for leading me to Jennifer Arends, the owner of HUB Fitness and Coaching, who gave me the opportunity to return to what I love to do and allowed me to be a part of this incredible community at HUB. I know having this facility here in Travelers Rest has made a huge impact on my life! I've always believed that commitment, consistency and community are the KEY ingredients to success when it comes to life-change.

I'm not sure what it is you're facing, but I know we all have things in our life that seem insurmountable. I want to encourage you to press on. God may ask you to do something hard in order to achieve something that seems impossible. I know leaving the morning show was a difficult decision, but it was the right one for my health and for my family. I also see how God used that time in my life to grow me, teach me and humble me. Hard lessons, but ones that have built my spiritual muscles, for sure!

If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, I want to encourage you to read this article: Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain (WebMD)  Educate yourself on the importance of sleep and exercise and ask God for direction. One thing I specifically asked Him for was: Please God, help my "want to's" to change! I didn't realize that in order for my "want to's" to change, there were some difficult changes He would ask me to make in my life. But I trusted Him and now I see what He did there. (smile)

If you want to try a class at HUB Fitness, your first class is FREE and we'd love to see you there! Find our schedule at www.hub-fitness.com. The first step is the hardest. But I promise you, it is worth it!

1 Corinthians 9:27 – I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition…
Some of the awesome team of instructors at HUB Fitness!




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Be Still...And Get Moving

What on earth does it mean to be still?  You hear the verse often: Be still and know that I am God.  But does being still mean playing a game of freeze tag with God?  Does it mean we do nothing and make Him do everything?

You can read about the Israelite's Exodus out of Egypt with Moses as their leader in Exodus chapter 14.  The Israelites were approaching the Red Sea and the Egyptians were hot on their trail.  There seemed no way out!  They were panicked and crying out to the Lord, saying to Moses, "Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren't there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn't we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?  It's better to be a slave to the Egyptians than a corpse in this wilderness!"

Poor Moses.  He was only following what God told him to do.  He calmly told the people, "Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today...the Lord Himself will fight for you.  Just stay calm."  

Just for the record...I can totally relate to this.  Everything seems fine until things look impossible when we are walking with the Lord.  That's when we begin to question everything.  Not only do we question everything, but we question God Himself.  Why does He allow such things?  It's easy to just go back to Egypt. Our Egypt is wherever it is that we came from before we began a relationship with God through Jesus.  It's tempting to just want to go back there and live.  Goodness...things seemed simpler then.  The enemy didn't bother us because we weren't a threat!  How quickly we forget the bondgage, the slavery, the horrific way of living back in our Egypt.  I wish it was as easy to get Egypt out of me as it was for me to get out of Egypt!

Anyway...in the next verse, God told Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!"  Wait a minute.  Didn't Moses just tell them to be still and let God fight for them?  What was God doing?  Why was He telling them to move when they were just told to be still?  Which should we do when we are facing our own "Red Sea" moment?

The answer is simple.  We need to be still and get moving.  See, being still doesn't mean just standing there and doing nothing.  In Joshua we read how God told the people to be still and let the Lord fight for them.  But did they just sit there?  No. 

Being still isn't always an outward retraction.  It's more often an inward reaction. 

The original Hebrew word used for "still" in Exodus 14 is yatsab which means to place, set, stand, present oneself or station oneself.  It also means to station oneself, take one's stand, stand, present oneself, or stand with someone.  God wants us to take a "stand" when we are being still.  That means we are steadfast in believing in our heart that God is going to fulfill His promises.  We will trust Him.  We have peace in our hearts, but we are not just sitting there doing nothing.

Being still is an inward reaction brought on by our total dependence on Him to use us as we go forward in obedience.

What is it that God is asking you to do right now?  Is He asking you to be still and wait on Him?  Please...obey Him in this.  Be still and get moving!  
  • That means if you have a dream you feel God has placed in your heart, continue in what you have before you right now while trusting Him with your dream.  Prove your obedience in the small things, knowing and having peace in your heart that God has it all under control.  He put that dream in your heart for a reason. Trust Him with the outcome - even if it looks different than you thought. 
  • It means that if you are waiting on God for physical healing, do all you can to be healthy, make good choices, go to your appointments and pray without ceasing, knowing in your heart and having peace that God has it all under control while you believe that your healing and deliverance will come. 
  • It means that if you are waiting for one of your children to give their life to Jesus, you continue to pray, fulfill your duties as a wife and mother (or husband and father) and have quiet trust in your heart that God has it all under control.  He hears you and He has a plan.
But it doesn't mean to just sit there and do nothing.  There is still life to be lived.  There are still responsibilities that need to be met.  There are still others who can learn and grow from your example of having peace in the midst of your "Red Sea" moment.

Blessing always follows obedience.  According to what I've learned on this little Biblical "treasure hunt", being still is one of the most action-filled things God asks us to do!  It is one of the hardest things, too, because we always feel like we must control everything around us.  Being still is relinquishing that control to Him and trusting Him to get us through.  It is when we are willing to allow Him to fight the battles while we walk forward in confident trust that He has it all under control.  It is rarely sitting there, doing nothing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Waiting on God in an "Instant Gratification" World

Whatever we need in today’s world of convenience can be had within minutes, if not seconds. We definitely live in the age of instant gratification.

Need to talk to someone? Pick up the phone. No need for wires anymore. No cords. No dials. 

Need something to eat? Fast food. Microwaves. Boxed, prepared dinners. No need to wait. (We won't get into how unhealthy this can be...that's another blog!)

Want to get caught up on the news? Turn on the TV. Or the computer. Within seconds, you’re all caught up.

Folks, we are losing our ability to wait. And it’s killing us spiritually.

Let’s think for a moment…

Noah waited 120 years from the moment he started to build the ark to the moment God brought the first rain drop.

The Israelites waited 430 years in captivity to the Egyptian nation before God rose Moses up to lead them out of their slavery.

There was no word from God for 400 years until Jesus Christ finally came and fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies as the Messiah.

That’s a lot of waiting. 

A lot of years. Centuries, in fact! We can miss the years and years of waiting as we quickly turn the pages of our Bibles in these stories. But don’t you just wonder what those times of waiting must have been like? Clearly, the promise was not forgotten and there was always a remnant of faithful believers who stayed focused on the promise, while living in what seemed to be silence. But I believe there were many who began to doubt.

Are you waiting on something? I know the struggle of waiting. 

Waiting on a phone call from a doctor with a biopsy result. 

Waiting for a word about whether or not I was being offered a job. 

Waiting on an update from family about a sick loved one.

Waiting on God to handle a situation where I saw injustice. 

I’m still waiting on some loved ones to trust in Jesus Christ.

Some things we wait for are serious and some are just the fulfillment of a dream. Sometimes we’re waiting for God to act when we’ve seen and experienced terrible injustice. 

We often have to wait on God. I’m beginning to realize that in that wait, God is allowing us to be tested. He is growing our faith. He is preparing hearts around us and He’s preparing our own heart, too. He is lining up His perfect timing. 

Sometimes He even gives us an answer we do not want to accept after we wait - but we can trust He is protecting us and lining up His plan in the midst of our heartbreak. God is good. Our disappointments and times of waiting do not change that fact.

The Psalms and Proverbs have beautiful scriptures on how we can wait:

Wait honestly:
I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3

Wait quietly:
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. Psalm 62:1

Wait hopefully:
I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:81

Wait patiently:
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

Wait courageously:
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Wait expectantly:
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:30

Whatever you are waiting for, I want to encourage you to keep believing and use this time of waiting to draw near to God, to learn to trust Him in new ways, asking Him to prepare your heart for the answer. Wait honestly, expressing your feelings to God during those times of weariness. Wait quietly, not complaining to anyone who will listen. Wait hopefully, knowing God hears and God has a plan. Wait patiently, trusting God’s timing is perfect (and usually not the same as ours!). Wait courageously, not fearfully or doubting. Wait expectantly, knowing God is working and He hears you. 

Yes, you can have instant gratification when it comes to waiting on God. But not in the way you might think. You see, it depends on where you choose to place your focus. If you are focusing on what you’re waiting for, you will be disappointed and will not have that instant gratification you’ve probably come to expect in today’s world. 

But if your focus is on God and knowing Him in a deeper way, you will be fully satisfied - instantly - as you seek His face, His purposes and His will. 

Come to think of it, that may just be what you’ve actually been waiting for all along.

Isaiah 30:18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hold On

Hopelessness.
Despair.
Doubt.

There’s no question in my mind that the disciples must have felt these
emotions as they watched Jesus being brutally crucified. What was going on? They gave up everything to follow this man and believed He was the Son of God – the promised Messiah!

Just days earlier, the people of Jerusalem lined the streets while shouting, "Hosanna!" with palm branches and shouts of joy as Jesus made His triumphant entry. But now, there He was, dying a humiliating and horrifying death on the cross. Some of those same people who had earlier hailed Him were now cursing Him and spitting on Him. Some were, along with the disciples, weeping over Him as they still had hope He might be their salvation, their King.

The disciples could not understand at that moment that all was well. They could not understand that the plan was going just as God designed from the beginning of time. At that moment, things looked so dark and discouraging to them…. but resurrection was coming.

Hope was around the corner. If only they had a glimpse of that coming glory!

Friends, if life seems hopeless, overwhelming or confusing, please hold on.

There must always be a death for a resurrection to come.

Death of a dream, death of a relationship, death of a habit that you feel you can never break or even death of our foolish pride – these are types of deaths we all experience in our lives every day.

If only we could have a glimpse of the coming glory!

Maybe we cannot understand at those moments that all is well, that things are going just as God designed from the beginning of time. Things may look dark, difficult and discouraging…but resurrection is coming.

Yes, things looked hopeless the day Jesus took His last breath.
But resurrection came. 
And resurrection is coming for you, too.

Hold on.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Those Awkward Years (And How to Love Your Kids Through Them)

The highlight of my week in third grade was when Mom would drop me and my sister off at the local Roller Rink. Carpeted walls.  KC and the Sunshine Band playing "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!".  The mirrored disco ball. The hokey pokey.  The dice game.  Couples only.  That funky smell of the spray they use in the roller skates to "disinfect" them.  

Yeah, it's still the same.  

If you don't believe me, go to the roller rink.  It will take you back. 

I have some good memories from third grade, but honestly, it was a tough year for me.  I was overweight, wore glasses, had no confidence, was totally insecure and nobody really liked me.  During "couples only" at the roller rink, I was always sitting and watching everyone else holding hands, slowly going round and round the rink, wishing I was out there skating with someone like everyone else, but no one ever asked me.  I wasn't exactly what you would call popular and I was socially awkward.

I think it started when we were sitting against the wall at gym class and we had to sit "Indian style" (it wasn't a politically incorrect thing to say back then - now we call it "criss cross applesauce").  I felt a bubble in my tummy and tried to straighten out my legs to keep it from escaping, but my teacher yelled at me and made me sit "Indian style" again.  Before I even knew it was coming, my "tummy bubble" escaped and it thundered loudly against the wooden suspended floor in the gym.   Everyone looked at me "Ewww!!!  Gross!!"  

Giggles. 

Pointing. 

Judging. 

Like no one else ever did it but me!  

It was the end of my reputation, if I ever had one.  Oh, do I feel for kids in school!  One good thing about third grade for me was my friend, Jimmy.  He had a wooden leg.  I thought that was pretty cool but nobody else would talk to him. It's like they were afraid of him. I never understood that.  I would sit with Jimmy at recess on the bench and he would teach me math since he couldn't play on the playground equipment like everyone else.  I liked Jimmy a lot.  But I hated third grade. I hated math too, but that's another blog.

Did you ever have a year like that?  An awkward, socially destructive, frustratingly difficult year?  Oh, it's the worst.  The only thing worse is seeing your child live through a year like that.  If I didn't know those difficult days were what God used to build so much of who I am, I'd give anything so my kids would not have to go through it at all. But I know He taught me to become more compassionate, empathetic, humble and sensitive to others through those experiences. 

Romans 5:3-4 tells us, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." Your child's character is going to strengthen through their struggles. They will become more empathetic, more humble, more compassionate and a lot more sensitive to others who are struggling.

If "awkward years" describes your child, share your stories of your awkward years with them.  Make them laugh.  Listen.  Hug them a lot.  Encourage them. Teach them the truth about who they are, according to God's Word. Be patient. Trust God and try not to "fix" it (I know that's a hard one)!

And one more thing...

By all means, please...don't ever insist that they sit "criss cross applesauce" on the gym floor. (smile)

Got Questions?

GotQuestions?org