To the High School grad…

By | Bible, Personal | No Comments

To the High School grad,

Graduation is a mile stone, for sure. Ironically, today marks ten years since my own high school graduation. I know, it’s almost hilarious… But it got me to thinking….what would I say to myself ten years ago from my now-27-year-old self?

So here it is, graduates….my two-cents from my perspective. Learn from my mistakes and jump ahead of the game!

DSC01041

You’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime. It will be thrilling. It will be amazing. It may even be scary at times. But your Guide will never be far away and He is orchestrating each leg of the road ahead. Three things I would say to you above all else:

1. Trust HIM. There will be days of heartache and pain and unexplained circumstances. This is life in our fallen, cursed world. No matter how difficult or rough the journey, remember that He is Faithful. He is worthy of your trust. He is capable of holding your heart…even when it is breaking. He is the only unchanging One and the only One Who will always be there, always be near, always smiling and singing over you. Trust Him. Fully. Freely. With all of yourself, trust Him.

2. Learn to say NO to things that don’t really matter. Say no to things that will bog you down and threaten your walk with Christ. Say NO to things that will clog your heart from the truth of God’s Word. Say NO to the things that aren’t God’s best for you. Often, the good things in life will keep you from the best, friend. Always reach for the best.

3. Never let your fearful NOs stand in the way of your impossibles for Jesus. That’s bad English, so let me translate: the biggest obstacles to doing great, impossible things for God is when we let fear get the best of us and say NO. Don’t say no to Him. It may look ridiculously impossible…but that’s His business. And quite frankly, He enjoys the impossible. I have found in my own life when I say NO it’s because of fear: fear or rejection by family and friends, fear of the unknowns, fear of the outcome, fear of failure, and on and on. Oh, Wow! I wish I could say I always said yes to Him…but sadly, I do not always follow obediently. Those choices are some of my most regretted. Yes, there is grace and forgiveness, but I just can’t help wondering what life would have been like if I would have said YES.

In short, SAY YES to Jesus. Always say yes to Jesus.

Life isn’t one giant leap after another…its small steps. So take each small step in His direction and amazing, impossible things will happen.

There will be thousands of things people say to you about these next few years of life…and to some degree, they may expect or even encourage you to throw wisdom out the door and “find yourself”, which really means “be selfish”. I’m saying the opposite. Dig in. Go deep with Jesus in these foundational years. It’s ok to be different than the world…to go against the flow for the sake of Christ. You have what it takes- I know that about you. You have determination, zeal and a love for life that will take you far if you use it for God’s glory.

Being radically in love with Him will change your heart AND everyone who comes in contact with you. John Wesley said, “Set yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” I’m in agreement…so all that to say—Get on fire…for Jesus.

Today is the day, graduate. Get on fire!

Crazy Love

By | Bible, Uncategorized | No Comments

Hosea and Gomer. I’ve always loved this story…not because it’s a happy fairytale, but because it’s not. It’s real. It’s human weakness and Supernatural love on display. The kind that only God can give.

Last week I purchased a copy of “For Such a Time As This” by Angie Smith. It’s a children’s book designed for little girls all about the women of the Bible. The illustrations are beautifully done by Breezy Brookshire and the writing style Angie uses is lovely.

image

I settled in one afternoon on the couch with my eight-year-old sister to flip through the pages and read some stories to her. At page 120, I stopped. There they were. Hosea and Gomer. As I read the words aloud (well written, by the way, for a younger crowd) it struck me again. I’m in awe of this story.

Hosea is told to marry Gomer despite her checkered past. He does and he loves her. They have children, but Gomer’s old life pulls at her. She eventually leaves. But this is where it gets so unbelievable. Hosea’s love for Gomer is unreal. After all she does…her trickery, her lying, her cheating, her unfaithfulness…Hosea chooses to love her anyway.

My favorite part of this story is the end… Gomer winds up being sold into slavery. Dirty, penniless, and unable to help herself…she stands there on the selling block waiting for someone to buy her. Rejected. Broken. Unwanted. Hopeless. Her past is stained. Her future is bleak.

image

Then a Jewish man steps up to bid. He buys Gomer and she looks up into the face of her master…and gasps. It is Hosea. Her Hosea. The one she was unfaithful to. The one she turned her back on for something worthless. He bought her back.

This is unconditional love. Crazy love.

At this point in the book, I am crying. I can’t hide my tears and my little sister is trying to figure out why I’m crying at a children’s book. My voice wobbles as I read the last few sentences. But it’s not a children’s story. This is my story.

This story is of Jesus rescuing me from myself. Loving me despite my flaws. Redeeming me though I am completely unworthy. Calling me consistently to Himself when my heart wanders. This is MY story.

Hosea 3:1-2
“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods…So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.”

Hosea and Gomer. Jesus and me. This is my story. Unconditional love for an undeserving girl….and I’m forever grateful to Him.

Dear Teen Girl…

By | Beauty, Personal, Womanhood | No Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Teen Girl,

I’m writing this letter to you because I need you to know something…I know you get a bad rap for your age. Maybe some of it is legit (after all, you are a young and imperfect human being like the rest of us), but I believe you are more. You are beautifully created for TODAY and for this time in history. I’m young enough to know that the problems you face are real, and old enough to know you will make it. No really, you will. I know it seems like no one in the world could ever make it out of these years alive, but you can. You will. (The God that made you has also parted the Red Sea and healed the sick, so helping you through the teen years is very doable for Him.) So pretend I’m standing next to you, me-a twenty-something and you-a teen…and drink it in. What I’m about to say comes right from my heart. I want you to listen close:

I believe in your generation of young women.

I see in you an amazing hunger for truth that the world isn’t satisfying. The girls of your generation are looking for answers..and you are smart enough to know that this world doesn’t have what it takes. I see in you a desire to know Jesus and discover if He is real for yourselves. I see in your generation a fire to be more than what is expected. To go beyond what is accepted and stand up in a culture that expects so little of teens. I see a passion for being different and swimming against the tide. I see you girls rebelling against culture and saying YES to Jesus in ways that knock my socks off. I know many in your generation believe that your teen years can be some of your best years, some of your most fruitful years. I believe in your generation, but more importantly, I believe in you.

Did you hear that?

I believe in YOU.

You may think the whole world is against you.

It is.

You may think that the entire culture is nipping at your heels waiting for you to fail.

It is.

You may even feel the pressure of your Christian community expecting you to waste your life and make some major mistakes in the next few years.

For the most part, they probably are. It’s just human.

But for all the negative pushing against you, I believe you can be different. I also believe that you WANT to be. Deep down in the recesses of your heart, you desire more than anything to stand up and stand out. You want to do something big with your life and to find out what really matters. You want to know what you believe in and to stop piggy-backing on someone else’s faith. You want to know Jesus personally. To KNOW He is real for yourself.

I believe in you.

I have seen what happens when a girl catches fire for Jesus. I have seen the fire in her eyes as she shares truth unashamed. I have seen the power she possesses to change and challenge an entire generation. I have stood in awe, again and again to watch the path of one ordinary girl…One ordinary girl who chooses to give her 100% to Someone powerful and far bigger than herself.

I believe YOU are that girl.

You see, I believe you are just like Esther. You are come to our generation, to our time in history “for such a time as this”. You were born for this! You are a princess sent here in mission for your Heavenly Father, capable of insurmountable odds and mind-blowing things because of Him. I believe you are crazy-loved and wonderfully perfect for this mission and I believe in you. Esther wasn’t a hero because she was extraordinary…she was a hero because she made some amazing choices in the moments she found herself in. She just did the next right thing and left the results to God. And I believe Esther’s God (Yahweh) in you, could do the same heroic deeds. (Esther 4)

I believe you are like Jeremiah…a young person feeling unequipped and yet called to be the voice of God to His people. (Jeremiah 1) You are equipped by the very Hand of God as He puts words in your mouth and wisdom in your heart for the journey ahead.

I believe you are like Timothy…bearing the weight of an incredible spiritual harvest, and yet despised because of your age (1 Timothy 4:12). That’s why I’m writing this letter…because I see that you are capable of showing a dying world the healing power of Jesus. You are about His business!

I believe in you. I love your heart, your craving for Jesus and your zeal for truth. I love your energy…I could use it some days. I love how your eyes light up when you connect with the Word or understand something new from Scripture. I appreciate your honesty.

I believe you are beautiful, chosen, unique, and created for this moment. I believe you are forgiven, bought, secure, and sealed. I believe you are cherished, valued, loved, and adopted into royalty. I believe you are enough.

Can I just tell you, I believe in you for more than the shade of your tan or the silkiness of your hair. You are more than what you look like. I believe in you because I know your Creator…and He doesn’t make anything less than masterpieces. You’re one of them. Every time I see you I smile because I know He has an amazing plan for you. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat…wondering, what will He do next with you?

Why do I talk to teens, write to teens and speak to teen girls like you? Simply put, I want a front row seat for the adventure God has you on.

I believe in YOU. I believe in your Jesus. Put a daughter on a mission for her ALL-Powerful Father, and I believe we have… a winner! That’s why I believe in you!

Keep it up little sis, I’m cheering you on!

Love from, An Older Sister

Who is Your Daddy?

By | Bible, Personal, Relationships, Suffering, Womanhood | One Comment

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1 (KJV)

One of my life passions is helping young women understand the depth of God’s love for them. Of course, humanly speaking, wrapping our minds around the limitless love of God is impossible. However, even if we catch a glimpse of that unconditional love He has for us, it completely transforms the way we see our Heavenly Father. It’s all about Who we belong to, girls!

I once saw a powerful 3 minute video clip by Pricilla Shirer that I want to share with you. (and if you can’t watch this video, you can read the words to it at www.goingbeyond.com/blog/who-do-you-belong/)

Every time I see this clip (and trust me, I’ve watched it a lot), I want to stand up and cheer for my Heavenly Daddy! The fact that this limitless Daddy chose to become Father to a limited girl like me… that is amazing! I’m in awe of that kind of love. That kind of grace overwhelms me. What mercy and kindness!

I’ve also noticed the more I focus on Him and Who He is, the more I see myself and my surroundings in a different light. When I am secure in His love, not much else matters, does it? It changes the way I see myself in the mirror in the morning. It changes the way I view the ministry He has set before me. It completely transforms the way I view big problems in life…because they’re not too big for Him.

I love seeing the first part of 1 John 3:1 in this way too… “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!…” (HCSB) We are!

We are His daughters! Princesses of King Jesus. Savor that incredible thought for a little while, gals. Dwell on it. Think about the power of that small sentence. You are His little girl.

You.    Are.    His.

Nothing can stop Him from loving you… “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come , Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I want some feed back here, sisters. What are some of the amazing things you LOVE about Jesus? What makes your heart burst with thankfulness when you think of Him? I want the comment box here to flood with your praise of our amazing Heavenly Daddy. What are the characteristics you most appreciate about Him right now? So go ahead…click below and share.

Jonah and Me

By | Bible, Personal, Testimonies | No Comments

“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3

IMG_0196

Years ago, I used to read those verses and think…what is this guy’s problem? Does he really think that he can run from the Lord? That was then. This is now…and NOW I have realized something: Jonah and me….we have this problem. We are in the same boat. Sometimes literally. I am quite sure that Jonah is somewhere in my family lineage way back. I’m just way too much like him to not be related.

You see, the more I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that He sometimes calls us to do uncomfortable things. Crazy things. Hard things. Ridiculous things. Awkward things. Radical things. Way-outside-our-box things. All for His glory.

That being said, I have a major confession to make. I have to tell you an inside story to a recent weekend event…

There is a wonderful sweet lady in my community named Pam, that I know and we have come to do ministry together. About a year ago, she came and asked me to speak at a womens conference. She wanted a “warm up speaker” for an annual Christian women’s event in February 2016 called Ladies Day Away.

I said NO.

She asked me again.

I said NO.

Third time is a charm, right? So she asked me again. I decided to get spiritual and say “I will pray about it”.

How many of you know that when you pray about something you better be ready to get the green light if He gives that as an answer? I fought with God. Actually, I FOUGHT WITH GOD. I argued. I pleaded. I tried to convince Him that I wasn’t the one. The more I begged, the more He gave me counsel through His Word that He wanted me. I felt stuck. I knew better than to say NO to God, but this is one of those times that I seriously debated jumping on a boat headed for Tarshish. Or one heading anywhere but speaking to this group in February 2016.

Jonah and me. We have issues.

Lots of conversations with my parents followed…they know me better than anyone, but most importantly, they know my Jesus and they could see the struggle in me. They prayed for me, with me, and encouraged me to obey and trust God for the details. I was stuck. Everywhere I turned I heard my name called. Every verse I turned to was telling me to go. Every song I heard was about obedience. Every voice was telling me to listen to my Heavenly Father. The sky seemed to spell out neon signs: “GO AND SPEAK”. I was caught…scared to death to disobey God’s leading and equally as frightened to walk in the path the Lord was asking me to.

Pam is a sweet and patient woman. She wouldn’t take NO for an answer. She kept telling me that she felt God wanted me to speak. She also asked me on several occasions: “do you ever feel like you have a whale on your tail?” I knew what she meant…she was calling me a Jonah. Wow, did she ever know me, or what?

Jonah and the whale became our standing joke. Whenever we talked about it, there was some sort of exchange about Jonah or a whale. Comments like “well, I don’t want to be swallowed by a whale” were common. We weren’t just laughing though, we knew it was serious business to disobey our all-powerful God.

I finally said YES. Reluctantly. I stood on the brink of the unknown feeling terrified to move forward, but even more scared to death to turn back. God wanted my submission…my obedience. He wanted all of me. My fearful heart. My uncertain future. My inabilities and corks. He wanted me…FULLY and FREELY. He wanted 100% of Faith Walker.

I have to tell you, once I said YES, it did feel better inside. Obedience always gives way to freedom, but don’t think for one moment that I felt like I was out of the woods. No ma’am. I was now only at the beginning of a very long road that I felt would surely lead to my death. Crazy how our imaginations run wild, isn’t it?

For months, every time I prepared part of my message to share…God would tell me it was all wrong. I would crumble the paper and start over. I would try again. Cram it in the trash. This went on for months.

In the mean time, God was dealing with my fears. I’ll be honest here and tell you that I am not a fan of public speaking. Hate is a strong word, but I might even use that word in conjunction with speaking. Speaking for Bible study sessions on video even nerve me up (little plug for our online Bible studies!). I’m totally serious. I’ve had meetings with three people that make me squirm. No joke. I’m just not the limelight-lover. So everything about this event made me want to throw up.

Added to that was the fact that the majority of these ladies would be moms and grandmas…neither one of which I am. Teen girls I get. Children, babies and toddlers I can handle. But women? Why does that make me worm in my seat? I honestly felt God had made a horrible mistake. Pam kept me well informed of the registration numbers coming in and every time I wanted to barf. I would go right to God and remind Him of what a mess I was going to make for Him in February if He didn’t do something.

So He did. Instead of fixing the event or letting me off the hook, He opened His Word one morning. It hit me between the eyes…or at gut level.

“The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” Then the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. This is the Lord’s declaration.

“Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me: I have now filled your mouth with My words. See, I have appointed you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.”  Jeremiah 1:4-10 (HCSB)

HE was speaking in February. I was just the mouth piece with which He was going to do it through. And who was I to question His abilities to use a weak, young, blubbering, scared-to-death girl from a little town in Southern Michigan to complete His work? I kept thinking about Jonah.

Jonah and me have doubting problems. We have better ideas. More qualified friends. We have more comfortable plans for our future. Ones that don’t involve dangerous or unpleasant things. Like telling others about Jesus when they don’t want to hear about it…forget that they are facing judgment…Jonah and me value our safety!

Time and again, God convicted me of my UNBELIEF. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith (no pun intended). He is my soul’s Anchor and the King of kings. He is Creator of all and Keeper of eternity. Why do I doubt His ability to use a fragile person…when He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and has breathed the stars into existence?

I have a puny view of God…so I view impossible situations like that- impossible. Forgetting that my Jesus is the God of the impossible. The Lord of everything. He is Love. He is Life. And He is the Writer of my life story…how dare I grab the pen and tell Him He is writing it all wrong?

The day arrived and I could feel a peaceful rest fall on me. Inside I felt waves of nervousness and uncertainty, but each time I felt incompetent, I reminded myself that this was His ball game…I was just along for the ride! There were dozens of prayer warriors scattered across the United States praying for me. I read the two passages of Scripture that God had given me over and over, quieting my turbulent heart. The section in Jeremiah and also a part in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

I prayed as I’ve never prayed before. Putting on the headset microphone and staring at the stage, I thought…this has got to be a dream (or a nightmare!). Jonah and me. I told you we have trust issues. I kept hearing God’s voice…asking me to lean like I had never leaned before. They announced my name. One foot in front of the other, Faith. Just don’t barf. 20 minutes and it will be over. I stepped foot on the platform…and a miracle happened. All fear vanished. All the butterflies in my stomach, the shaky hands, the dry mouth, GONE. So this is what it means to ride with Jesus!? I’m all in.

After I spoke that Saturday, I felt filled to the brim with joy unspeakable. Obedience does that, doesn’t it? It makes us full as we follow the path of Jesus, no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may seem at the time. I was standing at our Polished Cornerstones booth during one of the first breaks in the conference when lovely Miss Pam walked up. She was holding a box. “This is for you darlin!” She handed it to me. It was heavy and I was curious. As I unwrapped the paper, I smiled.

IMG_3921

There in all the tissue, was a beautiful glass whale. I laughed. Then I teared up. I’ve been given a lot of gifts over the years, but few have meant as much to me as this little glass whale. Why? Because it has a story. A story that beckons me to follow Jesus…or else. Jonah and me…we sometimes learn the hard way.

What about you, friend? Has God called you to do something dangerous or uncomfortable and you’re looking for a boat to Tarshish? Take it from someone who is a fellow whale-on-the-tail gal…He will not call you and then leave you unequipped. He will give you exactly what you need at the precise moment you need it (and probably not a moment sooner!). Why? Because He loves using weak people to showcase His glory! Your inabilities are a beautiful way for Him to shine through you! Riding with Jesus is always an adventure, friend. Why not say, YES…and then watch Him show up in a bigger way than you’ve ever imagined? You can do ALL THINGS through HIM who strengthens you!

I’ve had people ask me, will I speak again? I laugh…nervously. Can I be honest? I still feel like Jonah. If God asked me to stand on a stage again and speak to 400 women I would feel like running for Joppa (to find a ship to Tarshish) AND throwing up. That’s my knee-jerk reaction. Just because I’ve obeyed once doesn’t mean I will jump into speaking engagements or other uncomfortable situations every time God brings one around. No ma’am. I will be slow and deliberate and caucious. Really…because I KNOW that if Jesus isn’t in it, it will be a miserable failure. I’m not a public speaker. I’m just a child (along with Jeremiah), I’m a coward at times (like Gideon), I’m broken and scared (like Moses), and I’m for sure a runner (like Jonah). So…to answer that question: I hope that by God’s grace I will answer YES to whatever opportunities God asks me to fulfill. God doesn’t need my confidence, He just wants my obedience.

For all the uncertainty and fear and unknowns, it was a great day. I had fun. I learned a lot. I had many wonderful conversations. Actually, come to think of it and to quote my ever-smart mother, “we had a whale of a good time”!

Are You Coexisting?

By | Bible, Personal, Studying Scripture | No Comments

     Last spring, my husband and I were both shocked to find out that we had a snake infestation at our house. Now to some it would just be a little problem, but both of us hate snakes and are deathly afraid of them. I cannot stand to see pictures of them, think of them, see them, and for sure be tourchered by them being right outside my door. When I see them, I try to chop their heads off as soon as I can so they will never be back (I’m sorry if anyone really loves snakes). What is it for you? Spiders, mice, bugs? I consider these things to be vermin. When I see them, I want to get rid of them. Not in a year, or a month, or a day; now!

 

     Here’s the thing though, if we are so ready to clean the filth out of our physical lives, why do we take our sweet time with clearing out the filth in our spiritual lives. Instead, we find ways to partially get rid of the filth. Then, when God is done convicting us about it, we let it slide right back into our house with us. Eventually, it becomes our “secret best friend.” God sees our sin as disgusting, abhorring, much worse than vermin. So why do we not see it like this? What is holding us back from reality? We look at gossip, envy, lying, strife, hatred, you fill in what fits for your life __________ and say, “It’s okay, it’s not really that bad.” If we stop ourselves and search the scriptures, we will come away wanting to chop the head right off those sins. James 1:26 says, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” Wow! Does that hit close to home? That does not make it sound like it is just okay and it’s not too bad. Galatians 5: 16-21 says, “16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (My emphasis added in bold) Let that last part of the passage sink into your heart. I know you do not fit that whole list! You are probably similar to me and struggle with what we call the “church sins” or “Christian sins.” But when I stop myself and really let that passage sink in, God’s Word tears at my heart. I want to inherit the Kingdom of God! I want to live my life to serve Him as best as I can! I know that I cannot do it with those huge, ugly, sickening “Christian sins” holding me back!


     Go, search the scriptures. Whatever it is that you are holding over Christ and giving Him full control of your life, go see what His Word has to say about that. Let Him speak to your heart and life. Stop looking at sin as okay or not that bad! It is why God the Father sent His precious and only Son to die on the cross! He went to pay the punishment for my sin and yours! Let’s do all that we can to rid our lives of the vermin. Chop their heads off as soon as possible. Think of your (physical-snakes) vermin. Would you want it to stay around and get bigger or would you want to get rid of it as soon as you possibly could? “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10) He is not dead. There is power in His resurrection and it’s there for you to use. He did not defeat death and the grave in vain. Call on Him now and ask Him for His power in your life in ridding yourself of the vermin that wants to destroy.

“Presentation” is Everything

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Before I start this blog I would like to say that it’s really a huge accountability act for me. It’s actually a declaration of my belief system…because you don’t know what you really believe until you write it down and because being accountable for God’s will for us is what often takes our faith to the next level. And I’m ready to climb higher with my Savior. Having said that, let me confess this….

image

It’s one of those nights when I’m chasing sleep and it’s definitely winning. This is a brand new season for me. I hesitate to use the H word (hormones) but there, I did it anyway. I never lived the perfect life or anything like that but I would say that I have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out ways to muscle the circumstances that kept me from FEELING like things were spinning out of control. Did I say “control”? I am a fixer. There’s no medication for it but it does need a cure. Enter God’s plan to make me authentically usable. (Which, by the way, often looks amazingly like bonafide weakness).

God is teaching me that He is enough. I crave restful nights, productive days, and a well attended to family but He isn’t giving me those things IN THE WAY or IN THE MEASURE that my spirit is demanding. I admit that I have complained to Him on more than one occasion. He isn’t the only One Who takes the hits either. My sweet family is feeling awfully close to MY struggle. Take for example my 26 year old married son who stops over to pick something up, finds me in three day old pajamas with matted down hair and a sour look on my face. Special, I know. It’s always the ones you love the most that have to deal with the less than best you. I had been dealing with a myriad of various personal illnesses for several days. He just very tenderly asked me “are you ok”? I cried. I mean it was a fairly simple question but it made me just bust up in my soul. I wasn’t okay. Hadn’t been okay. Didn’t see “okay” on the horizon.

But God sees the sunrises for eternity. He remembers every time the sun has ever rose and set for about six thousand years. He is faithful about it too. He has made a predictable pattern and His power keeps all the heavens in check. The planets orbit on a precise axis just because He said so and He has the first and last and all the in between “says”. Bad grammar. But you know what I mean.

I mean to say that my sleepless nights and my fatigued days and my mom-deprived family does not have Him worried. He isn’t trying to concoct a plan for survival for me. He already did that. It was called Golgotha. My rescue prescription is called The Cross. My Rescuer is Jesus Christ. My Father sees and knows and hears and nothing is about to change with that. I, however, need to do a little changing. Like speaking truth. Out loud. Singing and making melody in my heart to The Lord. Maybe even a little shout in’! Because I know my Redeemer liveth! Come on now!

We are going to have rough days, trying seasons…maybe even a few thorns in the flesh…but we do not have to surrender to discouragement. We do not have to submit to having our joy stolen and crushed beyond recognition. We do have to allow God to be our strength though…keeping joy and walking in faith is not a work that the flesh can ever be sufficient for. It must be His Spirit taking control of mine. It’s true that I must yield but even my yielding is an act of grace that He has bestowed upon me. I once read something that said “never doubt in the darkness what you have known to be true in the light”. I wish I could give some wise soul credit for that statement. It’s true.

It, however, is a huge temptation to do so. To doubt, that is. To recoil…to wince…maybe even kick and scream? What He longs for me to do is to yield my body as an instrument of righteousness. His righteousness. He tells me clearly that first I must be fully dedicated to Him…body, soul, and spirit. The Scripture puts it in these terms: “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

I conform to this world (the things that I want) when I set myself to be the lord of my life…the lord of my health…the lord of my family…the lord of my schedule…the lord of my sleep. I am transformed when I immerse myself in Who He is by getting into His Word and allowing it to wash away all my expectations of what is good and acceptable and perfect. My mind is renewed when it gives Him complete Lordship and the right to say when, where, and how. My life becomes “presented” when He is the Will Maker…the Will Keeper…the Will Sustainer.

Is this easy? As my 18 month old granddaughter would say “no way”! Living sacrifices are prone to crawl off of altars. That’s why under ceremonial Hebraic law the sacrifice had to be tied to the horns of the altar. Bound up there so when the knife and the fire and the dying began that sacrifice wouldn’t get away. That’s when things get tight. That’s why He says in the New Covenant “present” your bodies. Maybe presenting is a little like dying to self. He isn’t interested in fighting us. He doesn’t market coercion. He loves us to do it out of our love and our trust of Him. When we KNOW WHO HE IS and HOW HE LOVES then we will not crawl off that altar. We will want to. Let’s be honest. Deep down in our humanness we will want to flee quickly! We will have to hear His voice to have the courage to stay there. But God even gives us all the necessary staying resources. It’s all a mysterious act of grace that our minds can’t fully comprehend.

image

I don’t know how many more nights of chasing sleep I might have…I have no idea if or when or how I will minister to my family in the ways I desire to…I cannot predict what a productive home will really look like for me right now…but I know Whom I have believed in and He is able to be the Keeper and the Master and the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I am only the “presenter” by His merciful grace.

Carrying the Light

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Matthew 5:14-16
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is n heaven.”

Last week an ice storm came through and our power went out for a few days. This presented some interesting challenges in day to day life. When you’re a kid, this becomes one thrilling long journey…when you’re an adult….not so much. After eighteen hours I was ready for power again.

We have wood heat (praise the Lord!) so despite the chilling cold, we were able to keep warm and our gas stove allowed us to cook, but the adventure wore off quickly for me. Who wants to take a candle to the bathroom? Or have to carry a flashlight in your pocket all the time? Or watch the laundry pile up because the washer and dryer is out of commission? And I must have said, “Please shut the refrigerator!” a thousand times. What is it about a power outage that makes people so hungry that they have to survey the refrigerator contents twice an hour?

Two days without power and it shows you a lot about life….and attitude. Believe me. At the end of the second day (when I was thoroughly sick of no lights) I had a light bulb moment. Almost literally.

It was pitch black, and even the candles spread all over the house didn’t cut the darkness very well. I was sitting on the couch in the thick blackness. I don’t remember what I was doing, except for having a sour attitude. I mean, really, what can you do when it’s dark and you have NO electricity? Then this light entered the room…it was my little sister. She is not an adult, so this was still a huge adventure for her. She was LOVING the moment and I was in the same house HATING it.

She was holding a small glass dish with a tiny tea light candle in it. Strange how the moment hit me, but it was like she was HOLDING LIGHT. You really couldn’t see her glass dish, because the light obscured the container. It really looked like she was cupping light in her hands…and she was bringing it to me. “Faith, look!” she said.

I stared at it. All I could think is how BEAUTIFUL it was. This cupping of light in her hands. It made me want to hold it in mine. To carry it around the room like a little child and share it with others. To wonder at it and be filled with the adventure that was in those sparkling eyes. Why couldn’t I find joy in this moment?

The light was amazingly bright. It seemed so luminous. Chasing away the shadows and lighting the face of this little girl. This child bringing light to me. I had to smile. I couldn’t help it. The moment was beautiful….and since phones don’t run on electricity, I had to take a picture.

IMG_3128

When the moment was past, it got me to thinking…what do I look like to this dark, dying world? Do I cup my hands like a willing servant and carry the light to dark places? Do I smile like a child and enjoy the journey…carrying the Light, the Beauty to others? Is my life’s light bright enough to draw them to JESUS?

I have this picture as my phone’s wallpaper right now…and it’s a visual reminder that I am to carry the Light wherever I go. I want to cup JESUS in my hands and take Him to the dark places.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Sometimes Provisions are Really Tests

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Exodus 16

Funny how we complain about things….we are just sure that our needs are being overlooked by someone….when it’s really just an indictment against God our Father. We wouldn’t admit that but the truth is we FRET instead of acting in FAITH. We WORRY instead of choosing to WORSHIP. We COMPLAIN instead of deciding to COMMUNICATE OUR GRATITUDE.

The Israelites had just made a mass exodus from the land of their bondage…been led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day…the Red Sea had been parted…they were even given an awesome water resource after realizing they were thirsty. Then the big idea became meat and bread. It didn’t take that thought long to go viral.

After God had done the impossible in their lives multiple times they turned around and grumbled. Miracles weren’t enough, they had to have meat. Honestly. It’s not just WHAT they complained about either. It was the WAY they murmured. The insults they hurled upon God their Provider! They said it would have been better to die in Egypt where at least they could have meat and bread. Really? It’s so good I’m not in charge of influencing God. Because about 600,000 men plus women and children would have been sent right back where they came from! I would have marched them back to Goshen myself!

But there’s this little verse in the 16th chapter of Exodus that just haunts me. I mean it really corrects me in my spirit. Enter God’s answer to murmuring: MANNA. For real? He told Moses ahead of time that bread would come from heaven. First, quail to the full and then the next morning manna. There would be rules. There would be a measure given to communicate sufficiency. HIS sufficiency. Not ours. Isn’t His mercy amazing? His goodness keeps chasing us. He keeps racing to rescue us!

So Moses gives them the gist. Two quarts per person. No more. You can bake it, boil it, eat it raw…but don’t save it. There’s always a few people who try to push against the stops. For them it was worms the next morning. On the day before Sabbath He let them double up. No worries about worms though, because that was one 24 hour period when God shut down decay. Only He gets to do that. Only He gets to keep the destroyer held back. We would be good to remember that when things seem to spin out of control in our lives. Trust in His power and not our own muster-the-mind problem solving techniques. When you really step back from your calamity and realize Who us really in control, it looks like a no-brainer.

But that verse still grabs my attention. Kind of arrests my thought patterns about what God is doing here for the Hebrews. What He is ultimately doing for US.
Exodus 16:4
“Then said The Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out to gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no.” KJV
God told Moses He was giving into their complaint. He heard their grievous and ungrateful lamentations. But He had something bigger than bread in mind.
THAT I MAY PROVE THEM! The Holman Christian Standard Bible says it this way: “I will test them to see whether or not they will follow My instructions.” I WILL TEST THEM. He wasn’t as concerned about their stomachs as He was about their submission.

What if God’s provisions for us are really tests? What if His ultimate rescue plan involves seeing if we really will serve Him in righteousness or not? What if His meeting our needs really represents Him discerning our level of relationship with Him? All the best teachers, professors, and disciplers give tests to see what the student has learned.
What if God’s main goal was not provision but rather proving? And what is there to prove other than our faithlessness? HIS FAITHFULNESS! He proves what is in our hearts so He can reveal what is in His heart toward us. He cares for us so much. He longs to be Abba Father, the One and Only that we run to when we are in trouble. He seeks for us to trust Him implicitly, to resist the temptation to work our trials out in the flesh. He wants us to trust Him to the point of obedience…even if that obedience means we will suffer or if it means we will lose something important to us. He wants to be first in our lives. He will not share His glory with any other…He will not stand for anything or anyone that competes with our deepest affection for Him. He wants to be our All in All. So He provides for us to prove us…to test the stuff our heart is really made of. What is my heart made of today? Do I have Him on the throne of total power? Does He have my whole heart or only the small areas I think I can trust Him with? Am I willing to follow His instructions even though it might mean personal sacrifice? Have I laid my expectations on the alter of surrender so that He can give me MANNA from His Storehouse that is sufficient for my soul searching needs? What do I do with what He does give me as provision? Am I the faithful steward or do I try to gather more than He has really given? Does my life praise His provision or does it squander it through disobedience to His heart?

He fed the Israelites faithfully for 40 years in the wilderness. He never missed a day. Maybe they dreamed about steak and potatoes but they never had to go to bed hungry. Forty years of food that they didn’t even recognize when they saw it for the first time. They didn’t have to grow it, only gather it. They weren’t even sure what to call it. Incredible how God wants us to remember what He has done for us…and so they were told by God Himself to gather up two quarts of manna and to put it in a container so that it could be kept throughout their generations. That manna went with the Ark of the Covenant everywhere it traveled. There inside with all the other articles of testimony was a container filled with manna…or as it was said in their tongue “What is it?”. A powerful reminder that God does provide and that He also proves us in the process…to see “what is it” that is in our hearts! Sometimes His provisions are really a test.

“For He satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9

I Have Enough

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

“And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.” Genesis 33:9

Forgiveness leads us to believe we have enough. Believing we have enough causes us to sense authentic gratitude. Authentic gratitude generates joy. So what creates an environment of forgiveness? The belief that we have enough.

Arkansas2012 437

Jesus on the Cross…said Father forgive them for they don’t realize what they are doing…and then He said “it is finished” because He knew His sacrifice was enough.

Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and wept…he embraced his former “enemy-brother” and seeing all the entourage of Jacob’s company ask “what is all this?” Upon finding out it was Jacob’s way of pleading for mercy he says “I have enough”. This satisfied man came with a heart of forgiveness because mercy rejoices with truth and he had figured out the truth that he had more than he deserved!

Those in Scripture that lament in bitterness of soul are always the ones that feel they don’t have enough…not enough vineyards for Ahab…not enough babies for Hannah…not enough family for Naomi…not enough fruit trees for Eve…not enough loyalty for King Saul…each one focusing on what was missing instead of what was present in their lives.

How does “enough” affect us in our daily living? In our culture? In our aspirations? In our generations?
So is forgiveness paving the way for sensing His giving of enough or is sensing His grace of enough paving the way to forgive?

I am realizing day after day and as I look for gifts God gives out of mercy that I have this mountain terrain of expectations that loom over me. Like God owes me this relationship or that fruit in ministry or this answered prayer or that wonder filled day…and I climb from one precipice of disappointment to another. I am undone and exhausted at the days end and when forgiveness presents itself as an opportunity I fail to see it as a viable option for expedient living. I mean, after all, isn’t sincere forgiveness …forever and ever kind of forgiveness for the lionhearted Christ followers? The real giants of the faith? Sigh.

Enough. What compels a cup to deny any more water when it becomes full? What happens to fish nets that carry too many fish? Where does all the extra air go that we aren’t breathing? Who determines the enough level of our soul?

And whoever started the shouting match words ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!? Because I beg to differ about them meaning it!

Enough is when my soul agrees with the truth embedded deep down in my regenerated spirit (that part of me born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ). It’s when my spirit can override what my mind, will, emotions, and even my body tell it in weakness. Like getting “enough” sleep…enough affirmation…enough laundry done…enough time to think…enough heart to heart communication. The realization of enough is when I rehearse what I should get out of life by merit and compare it to what I have gotten out of life by the merciful kindness of the Almighty. Honestly, if we go on merit I am sunk and it’s over!

I have been reading through the book of Genesis. It just leaped at me today. The really hard question I have been asking Him tumbled out between the inspired words. Well, it’s hard to me anyway. “When is forgiveness conceived in us since we are too weak to make it happen in ourselves”? There was the answer in small print …sandwiched in a verse that could well swallow it up. It was just three little words that held on to a huge secret. A secret with the potential to thwart the enemy’s big gun artillery attack on me. I have enough. This is what it looks like if I emphasis it: I HAVE ENOUGH. Esau said those redemptive words having already forgiven his broken and repentant brother. But then a curious thing happens …just two verses after Esau proclaims enough Jacob also acknowledges enough. Jacob the deceiver who has met with God in the night…wrestled the angel…obtained a blessing he did not deserve says “God hath dealt graciously with me…I HAVE ENOUGH”.

Esau had to forgive his brother. Jacob had to forgive himself. Both spent years finding out that ultimately they both possessed enough. They both had more than they ever deserved….the grace of God imposing itself on their idolatrous hearts. It is an answer that I thank God for…it is an answer found at the Cross. It is finished. Enough is enough and we are the victors in Christ Jesus. Lord God, allow me to sit at Your feet and sense enough. Let me hear Your heart in the pages of Scripture and know You are enough. Forgive through me by allowing my heart to see You as enough.

Word art is all the rage these days. I think I will make my very own wall plaque…it will be bold and obvious and uniquely displayed. It will state simply and ornately these three powerfully true words:
I. H A V E. E N O U G H.