Monday, September 18, 2017

Wrestling with God

This has been a hard year for me, I guess you could say it was a year of wrestling with God. After pulling back from my speaking ministry for a couple of years to focus on a business that ended up failing, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I began to question if God might be mad at me for giving up a thriving speaking ministry for a business that He knew would never even survive! Lies flooded my mind that convinced me that I had blown it. Surely, God had moved on. He would probably never allow me to speak again.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I spoke at a ladies retreat for Mount Pisgah Church. I shared four
Mount Pisgah Church Ladies Retreat 9/15-17 2017
sessions throughout the weekend. The retreat committee asked me to be their speaker last year - long before my business failed and long before these lies began to flood my mind.

As the months and weeks led up to the retreat, I felt really overwhelmed. I even considered calling the retreat coordinator and letting her know I didn't think I was the right one for the job. I felt unqualified. I'm ashamed to admit that there was actually a fear in my mind that God wouldn't show up. What if He didn't show up? I knew I couldn't do this without Him!

Whatever lies came to my mind prior to the retreat, I made a conscious choice not to believe them. I believed His Word instead. The lies still came (daily!) but every time a lie would come, I would fight it with truth. As I prayed last week before the retreat, I was being honest with how unworthy I felt to be someone to share with these ladies. God spoke to my heart: "I led them to you, so you would lead them to Me. Just show up."

He had a plan and He would be faithful to complete it...

It wasn't about me, it was about Him...

Even when I didn't believe it, I prayed He would help my unbelief...

He reminded me that He loved those ladies so much...there was no way He wasn't going to show up.

He also reminded me that He loved me so much...and He was not mad at me.

So, I went.

Shaking, trembling....fighting my unbelief with Truth from God's Word. 

And He showed up. Big time. Maybe more than ever before, because guess what? I was completely surrendered to Him, knowing that in my own strength, this whole thing would fail. I was completely dependent on Him. Where I am weak, He is strong.

He isn't finished with me yet.  I just wrestled with God, and though I may walk away with a limp to remind me that it's not about me, I will never regret or resent this past year.

Because it confirmed my call.

Thank you, Lord.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Total Eclipse!

There is so much excitement here in my little town of Travelers Rest, as we will be in the direct path
of the total eclipse coming up on Monday, August 21. It's going to be a monumental, and historical day. I've never seen a total eclipse and honestly, I think it's pretty amazing that it is coming (literally) directly to my front door in SC!

As I've thought about the eclipse and have read what to expect, I must admit a little anxiety has crept in. Just a little. I mean, it's weird. It will assault my senses and confuse my "normal" for a few minutes. Darkness in the middle of the day - and plunging temperatures almost immediately (we can drop 10-20 degrees in seconds) are kinda freaky sounding to me. Birds go quiet - dogs go crazy. I guess you could say I'm fascinated, but a little freaked out.

Light is so comforting. It's warm. It's inviting, it allows things to grow - to flourish. It is revealing (hello, fitting room lights) and it's also a bit un-nerving if you are in a dark room and someone flicks on the LED light. But the light will be gone. And as excited as we all are (and I know we are!) about experiencing this phenomenon, I really think it's going to be alarming in some ways.

I wonder if an eclipse could be a tool that God uses to reveal to our hearts what the world would be like without the sun. Or perhaps The Son? Even for a few seconds. On the day of the crucifixion, the sun went dark for three whole hours! Can you imagine?

As you read the account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Luke 23:44, the Bible says, "By this time it was about noon and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. the light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary was torn down the middle. The Jesus shouted, "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!" And with those words He breathed His last."

Science claims it was not an eclipse (based on the calendar & the moon), but the Greek word that Luke used when He wrote this scripture was Eklipontos - a participle of the verb ekleipō - which means “fail/leave off/cease.” Whether it was an eclipse or not, it was definitely a Divine Darkness God sent to reveal to the world that in killing His Son, they would lose it's Light. Darkness would ensue.  After all, Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the Light that leads to life." John 9:5, He said, "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

Jesus also claimed in John 3:19-21 says, "God's Light came into the world, but people loved darkness more than the Light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the Light and refuse to go near it for fear that their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."

Let's be honest here. We are pushing the Son out of our world. We hate the Light because it exposes us and reveals our true hearts.  Every day we read how we are pushing God out of our schools, our families, our governments and even our churches, folks. If we lose our Light, we will live in complete darkness. How can we not see this? Has the darkness appealed more to us than the Light? Do we realize what we are choosing? God is not going to force Himself on a country or a world (or a heart) that doesn't invite Him in. CS Lewis said it best: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." 

I am going to spend some time while enveloped in the darkness of the eclipse thanking God for the Light of Jesus that He willingly sent to this dark, cold world. Hope. Forgiveness. Redemption. The Light that gives us sight and offers light and love to every heart who will invite Him! 

And even for a few minutes or seconds, when the world is dark and cold, may we all be reminded that "Once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true." (Ephesians 5:8-9)

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Help..."

I'll warn you, I'm about to get real here. It won't impress you at all and it might actually tempt you to judge me, but that's between you and God. (smile)

I've usually been a "good Christian girl" who wakes up early and has a set quiet time with God - reading and studying scripture, praying and just being still. However, the past few weeks or so, I wake up for my quiet time and end up getting distracted. I check my messages on my phone, open my
computer and catch up with people on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I post things from my personal page, from my business that is closing, the new job I'm starting and the fundraiser I was organizing. But my Bible lays there - unopened - unread - unused. It got easier, honestly, to just ignore it and get on with my busy day. After all, I have so much to do! But yesterday, things changed.

Though it seemed easier to ignore after awhile, I must tell you something - I have felt every tinge of sadness and grieving in my spirit throughout the day as I have put other things before God. I couldn't shake it and it wouldn't go away, no matter how much I promised not to ignore Him the next morning (and then failed to deliver). I was beginning to feel like I was drowning in a weird way. I felt like I needed Him to save me from myself, but I didn't know how He would ever get through to me.

I got up yesterday, got distracted and then as I was about to get up off the couch to start my day, I realized I had done it again. I had ignored God. I told myself, "You are NOT getting up until you spend some time with Him." But I felt so torn because I had such a big day planned. I whispered, "Help." and then reached for my journal that has some words that would be from Jesus (and Scriptures to accompany and affirm the words) on one side of the page, with the other side being lines I can journal on. I opened it up to yesterday's page and wouldn't you know....God was there. It was so amazing. Here's the first part of what I read on the page:
"What are the triggers that pull you away from Me?
What temptation can yank you from My arms?
What can fling you so easily into the abyss, and then as I wait and reach for you, I hear your small voice, "Help." and I am there."
Are you kidding me? Did He just say that? He heard me whisper, "Help." and immediately, He was there. I read the rest of the page through tears and journaled for the first time in weeks. It was awesome. I asked God to continue to help me, because clearly I didn't have the discipline in my own strength. He is helping me already.

This morning, I woke up at 4:30am - way too early if you ask me - but, it was Him. I know it was. My heart began to race and the first words that came to my heart were, "Yes, Lord". So I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee and spent way more time with God than I had in a long time. I can tell you, my day has been amazing. I don't feel tired. I don't feel defeated and I don't feel my spirit grieving anymore.

If you are struggling to put God first today, why not whisper to Him, "Help." He will be there. He will help you - He only waits for you to ask.

"You will seek Me and you will find Me when you seek me with your whole heart." - Jeremiah 29:13

"My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds "Lord, I am coming."  -Psalms 27:8


Sunday, April 16, 2017

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! If only we could know that things will get better!

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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What if?

This is a note to my friends who follow Jesus. I have had so much on my heart lately that I haven't even known what to say, how to speak, how much to share, how much not to share. It's a weird season for someone who loves communication! I think many of you are right there with me, though. This may take a few minutes, so do me a favor and pray before you read on and don't rush through it. Also, when you see a scripture, don't skip over it thinking you already know it (smile).

Friends, hear my heart when I ask you....

What if, in our desire to help "change the world", we are only making things worse?

What if what we are trying to do actually goes against God's perfect plan for us in such a time as this?

What if it's true that people don't change because someone else imposes morality on them, or because of rules or laws? 

We already know from personal experience that people change when hearts change. And how can hearts change if the focus is always on the outward behavior? Galatians 2:21 says, "I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die." And yet, we focus only on the law when we try to change people from the outside, in.

Of course, my heart's desire would be if the laws of the land lined up with the laws of God! What a beautiful day it will be when that happens! Let's keep in mind though, that even WE cannot keep all those laws perfectly. We know that will not happen completely until Christ returns. In the meantime, I am concerned that our focus is more on law and behavior modification than it is our most important calling of all - to love God and love othersJesus said in John 13:34, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.Just as He loved us. That means, in spite of sin. That means, in a broken and deceived state. That means no matter what - unconditional love. 

God knew that people would be most open to His ways and His gospel not through controversy, but through unity and love. He tells us in 1 Timothy 2:8, "In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy." 2 Timothy 2:23-24 reminds us, "Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people."

Remember in Romans 2:4? That verse says, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Are we being kind or are we being condescending? Are we tolerating others or demanding that they change and be more like us? Are we patiently praying for and trusting God for their salvation? Are we pointing fingers at others but ignoring the thing that matters most? By the way, the thing that matters most? Love. 
  
Personally, I'm too aware of my own sin to throw judgment on anyone (Matthew 7:2 makes it clear that the judgment I give to others is the measuring stick that I am judged by...no thanks). Even Jesus didn't come to judge, but He came to save the world from their sin. (John 3:17) That includes me and you.

However, as children of God who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we now have God's Spirit, which gives us the ability and desire to obey His Word. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations."

Don't miss this: He put His Spirit in us so that we can follow His decrees and be careful to obey His regulations. That means, before this happened, we were unable to do this. People who have not accepted Christ are literally incapable of obeying God's laws that we want to impose on them. It's almost like we are trying to get them to obey our Father, but they don't live in our household. It's crazy to think that when we focus on something they cannot understand or accept, that we could change their hearts. No, only He can change a heart.

Billy Graham said it best when he said,  
"It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love."

Galatians 2:16 says, "We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Jesus Christ, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For not one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law."  No, actually, people are made right with God and then (and only then) are capable of obeying the law. (On a side note - take a few moments to read all of Galatians 2 if you can - woo baby!!)
  
Oh, my friends. I am not saying that we lay down and accept things the way they are.  I am
saying just the opposite. But what if getting up and doing something looks different that we thought? What if doing something means we stop being so angry about what is going on around us and started taking inventory of our own hearts? Are we loving people or shoving people? Are we listening or do we just want them to shut up and hear us? Are we showing God's kindness in our lives?  

What if, in the pursuit of holiness and justice, we realized that our hearts are in desperate need of healing, too? 

What if, instead of arguing and shouting, we remember that nobody is ultimately accountable to us, but to God

What if, even though we really thought we were right about something, we realized in humility and admitted that we could be wrong? 

How can we show others His kindness today so that when that day inevitably comes for them, they will hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."? 

So what now?!

Here are some practical, Biblical things we can do to show God's kindness and love to others. Once you read through them, if you have any other scriptures you want to share in the comments, please do!

Colossians 3:12-15 "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in perfect peace. And always be thankful."  

Colossians 4:5-6 "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive, so that you will have the right response for everyone."

1 Peter 3:13-17 "Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.  Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!"


Got Questions?

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