buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “spiritual journey”

God’s Pursuit

Did you know that I am a certified health nut? Well, it’s officially called a health coach certification. It’s a long story of how I got to the school to attain the certification, but let’s just say God got my attention a few years before that time. You see, I haven’t been very healthy most of my life. I have been fighting battles with sickness since my early years. The catalyst to change was in 2006 when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I have a gluten trigger that will cause my body to attack my thyroid mistaking it for a foreign object. Everything changed when I learned of this disease and how I could heal by changing my life.

Sickness has been a theme throughout my life. In 1985, I came down with Rocky Mountain Spotted-Fever (RMSF). At that time of my life, I was living in the far lands; living with the pigs (reference Luke 15). My life back then was filled with wasted living – just looking for a good time, laughing about the hangovers after a night out with my friends. You would think after almost dying from RMSF, I would have woken up to the fact that this wasn’t God’s plan for me. But it took a couple more years before a revelation came that I needed to change my ways.

I struggled on and off with female troubles for a few years after the RMSF diagnosis. By the time the female issues were a full-blown sickness, I was living back at home with Mom and Dad. I lost my job and had nowhere else to go but back home. God gave me the opportunity to start over. I started back to church regularly and found out God was more interesting than I remembered from my childhood. However, I still wasn’t quite convinced that I needed to give Him everything. I still tried to live my life on my terms.

Everything changed in 1993 when I lost a close friend to an accidental free fall from a plane. Oh, she jumped with a parachute; but failed to open it at the proper time. She loved Jesus and all was good for her eternal place. But it rocked my world because I didn’t know that death could come so quickly to one so young. I understood in theory, but that was a wake-up call to me. It opened my eyes to death in a new way. I could have easily been the one in an accident and lost my life only to discover I wasn’t too sure of my eternal dwelling place. So I went all in to find out what it actually took to be assured that I was in God’s hands forever. I took steps to resolve the conflict that was warring in me but still couldn’t let Him have everything – yet.

It took another ten years or so before the female troubles were completely removed (surgery is a good thing for that). All that time, I was growing in the knowledge of God but failed to understand my body was the temple for the Holy Spirit. I was not respecting His temple. I didn’t know all that I know today. It took the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s to get my attention to give it all to God. Every part of my body is His and I should respect and honor Him by the way I treat His temple. When I finally understood that piece of His message, I started taking the steps to completely overhaul my health and define who God wants me to be: whole and healthy – mind, body and soul. And I gave it all to Him. (We’re still working on the body part. One day, the perishable will be replaced.)

I am grateful God has given me these chances to change. He has pursued me and never let me go. He could have easily chosen to let me continue to go downhill or stay in the pit of despair. But He didn’t. I have been told this past week that God is a personal God. I believe it because I have experienced His personal touch too many times to ignore that fact. He knows me and my struggles. Yet, He loves me personally – uniquely because I am His creation. He formed me with all my frailties in my mother’s womb. He thought of me before I was born. He actually had a secret me before He revealed me to my Mom. That’s pretty cool.

God thought of us all before we took our first breaths. He knows our hearts and our struggles within. And loves us anyway. He pursues us individually and uniquely. He is our personal God. And He is pursuing you today to find Him in your circumstance. He has used sickness to get my attention. How is He pursuing you?

If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:21-22 (NLT)

Athirst for God

On the first day of the New Year, I opened the book “Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer to renew my focus for this year. As I read the words, I realized he penned them in 1948. He begins his preface “in this hour of all-but-universal darkness.” How much more are these words relevant to this day and time? He wrote of those who are growing hungrier for God. The people “are athirst for God and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.” In his day and time, he felt there was a revival happening but realized it may be the “cloud the size of a man’s hand.” Oh how I wish this to be true now!

Tozer wrote about how evangelicalism needs to change in light of the conditions around us. He reflected most were no longer seeking to build an altar for sacrifice, but were more comfortable “to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” He referenced 1 Kings 18 for the imagery. For those who truly desire God, they cannot “reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the ‘piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.” Is that not poetry? Are his words not true to this day and time?

We need teachers like this who inspire us to have this desire for ourselves. But is it really the inspiration of the teachers or is it not by the hand of God drawing us to Him if only we would respond? We should all long for nourishment to satisfy our souls. “For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.” Ouch. Okay, that stepped on my toes a bit. How long do I sit in a chair drinking in the Word, but fail to let it draw me closer? In one ear and out the other without really thought provoking change coming from it.

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” Yes, let it be as he says. Let this be my heart’s desire for this new year. I no longer want just an occupation of the seat, but an occupation of my heart. For far too long, Satan has snatched the Word right out of my heart because I didn’t pay close attention to the application. I leave the gathering every Sunday and have an agenda for the day. But did the agenda have time to reflect on what was heard? Does my soul feel quench by the Living Word?

One of the sentences speaks the loudest to me right now was this: “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” Tozer closes saying God’s hungry children need to find Him. If his (Tozer’s) “fire is not large it is real and there may be those who can light their candle by its flame.” The Holy Spirit can fan into flame even the smallest of sparks. We need sparks in the Body of Christ for this day. I don’t know if the revival happened in Tozer’s day. I didn’t research it. We are in desperate need of one today. Think of the difference we could make if we all were athirst for God!

If you are hungry; if you are thirsty, Jesus says “come.” First things first. We cannot do anything of any importance until we get right with God, and we are clothed in His righteousness. I don’t remember where I heard this prayer, but I am claiming it for 2016. “God, work boldly in me that You can be clearly seen working through me.” For God’s glory in this New Year! Come on Sparky! Let’s do this!

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:36-38

This post inspired by The Preface found on Page 8 of the “Pursuit of God” © Moody Bible Institute of Chicago 1948, 1983, 1999, 2006.

Blank Page

Over the last several weeks, I have been staring at a blank page. I am not feeling very inspired. I have started out with a few thoughts and have ended up tossing it in the “garbage” can. I don’t know why I am blocked right now, but it’s a bit disconcerting. I know that I am called to write about my story, but I have yet to get down to it. I keep waiting for the words to come but nothing. Not one word seems to be flowing. I have prayed about it – seeking guidance about the blockage. Everybody keeps telling me that the timing will be right when I finally get it written. I just don’t want to be disobedient by not doing what I know I am supposed to be doing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been greatly distracted. My Dad had a few episodes of illness that hasn’t quite been resolved. It has weighed upon me. My Dad is very special to me. My Mom died about six years ago. She asked my sisters and me to take care of Dad, but since he got remarried about four years ago it’s been more a “spirit” of taking care of him instead of a “physical” task. About the time my Dad came down with his illness, I started having house issues that needed my attention. I listen to the news and the overwhelming issues that catch my attention just gives me even greater distractions. It seems that one thing just leads to another. It has given me the sense there are multiple plates spinning, and they are all about to come crashing down.

I have managed to get the blog posts and newsletters written in a timely manner. But that’s just because God is gracious to help me even when I can’t seem to focus. Somehow it all comes together. It would seem that He would do that for the book as well, if I tried to sit down and just start the process. But my head is just a jumbled mess right now. Does anyone relate? I keep thinking that when the weather is bad, I will have ample reason to write. I can’t do anything outside – but the snow needs to be removed from the driveway. The dogs aren’t barking to keep me from writing either since the owners have kept them inside on these snowy, cold days. But I get distracted with doing my taxes, budgeting expenses for the month, reordering supplies, etc; it just seems to be endless with distractions.

When it comes down to it, I think I just have a problem with the subject matter – me. Telling my story isn’t that complicated. The problem is I don’t want to be that vulnerable – to be that open before the world. I know God would like to get the glory of what He’s done in my life, even if it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal to me. He has asked me to share so that it may help someone else who struggles in the way that I have struggled. My story is part of the larger story – the restoration of our relationship with God. He began a good work in the beginning, and He will complete it in the end. My story doesn’t seem to be that great unless I truly look at it from His perspective. There was nothing I could do to restore my relationship with Him. I was far from Him, but He drew me near by the cross of Jesus.

The Bible seems to be just a mass of stories from the first page to the last. But there is only one theme throughout each page – Jesus. I never really contemplated how my story fits into His story, but it does. Every person has a story that fits into God’s story of redemption. We all fall short of God’s perfection, but Jesus redeems us so that we can fit into His story. One day, the distractions will no longer distract me, and I will start the work. The blank page will be filled with the work of Jesus in my life. One day, He will get all the glory. One day, it will be finished, and the work that was started will be completed. The page is blank right now, but it is all going to come together at the right time and in the right way!

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3

Change is Good!

Have you ever written or told your full story? I have written three different versions and none of them seem to be the right story to tell. I have experienced heartache (as we all have). I have had many sicknesses that were painful and wondered how I was going to survive it. But I did. I have had triumphs and struggles with addictions. Up and down it goes. There is story after story of times when I believed a lie only to discover the Truth in the story. In the midst of it all, there is one thing that was constant – change. I never liked change when it was thrust upon me – when my Mom, Dad and I moved away from family and friends. Those were hard years. Or when I lost a job, and I realized I needed to move back in with my parents (dread upon dread). Or when I learned that I had an autoimmune disease, which I chose to treat holistically. Change isn’t easy to navigate, but it’s one that builds our character!

Over the last few years, I have come to understand that God allows change to happen for our good and His glory. It’s in the telling of the stories that we see His hand of protection, provision and providence. God is sovereign over all things. Nothing surprises Him. Sometimes we just don’t understand the timing of it all though. But there’s a reason for that too. I was listening to a message Christine Caine gave at Liberty University when she launched her Propel magazine. She made a comment about each one of us being plucked from eternity and placed into the time continuum. We were placed in this time for a reason. Maybe we actually get to see Jesus return one day if we live long enough! This will be the greatest change the world has ever seen in its history, and we could be eyewitnesses to it! (Now, wouldn’t that be a story to tell!)

Her message struck me though as I consider why now? Why is this the time I was planted in this particular time of history? In this country, women have greater rights, greater privileges than ever before. Women are allowed to hold office (even run for Presidency). We can own homes. We can do so much more than fifty years ago. Everything changed after World War II. Change is the only thing that is constant in this crazy world we live in! And change is happening with an increasing frequency. Technology develops rapidly. You blink, and there’s a new version of a gadget that you just bought! So what is God up to? Why the increase in change, and why are we so blessed to live in this time? Only God knows at this point. He hasn’t given me any revelations that I could share with you. But I believe we are going to see something great in our lifetimes – it may not be Jesus coming back. I do believe though we could see a great revival throughout the world. And maybe women will be leading the way!

We all have stories that God has given us to tell so that He could get the glory. Stories are meant to share. The ones on our path need to hear of a conquering hero that saved us from the evil one. There is power in the stories we tell. Everyone likes a good story where the damsel in distress is rescued by the Prince and they live happily ever after. There is a “happily ever after” in our stories. We might not see it right now, but one day we will. We have been written into The Story of God’s Glory. Each one of us who call Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have a good ending. Christine Caine made a comment about her ordeal with cancer last year that really has resonated with me. She reflected before she was put under for surgery – “has she done everything that she was supposed to do while she was here and did she bring everyone she was meant to bring to heaven with her?”

Change is meant to grow us and develop our character. Our character is meant to glorify God. And our stories of how we got to where we are, is the life-change that people need to hear so that they too can have the future with the happy ending. Change is a very good thing, even when it’s forced upon us! One day, I’ll share more of my story. In the meantime, I am just grateful for being a work in progress knowing God still has amazing things to show me!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Sweet Spot

Recently, I heard a message which contained a few statistics on churchgoers. The research indicated that there were four categories of churchgoers. We all start out in the first category as people far from God. We may know about Him but do not have a relationship with Jesus. The second category is ones who have a relationship with Jesus – we understand we have received grace by the blood of Jesus, but still working out what this relationship really means. The third category is people who have a close relationship with Jesus. They depend on Jesus daily for guidance. The fourth category is the ones who have Jesus fully in the center of their lives. They have totally surrendered everything to Him. It’s the most important relationship they have. It guides everything that they do. Of those in the fourth category, the teacher said his research focused on the thirteen percent of the “elite” Christ-centered folks.

The thirteen percent are the ones who love Jesus with all their hearts. They willingly share their love of Jesus with others. They serve Him completely. There is nothing that stops them from sharing everything they have for the love and sake of the Gospel. One out of seven or eight people in the church have this type of commitment. I wish I could say that I was in the thirteen percent. This is my goal though. The church’s mission is really about getting us all to this category. We are to become disciples who make disciples. Disciples have a heart for people – we are supposed to love one another. This is our trademark as a disciple – that’s how others will know we are disciples of Jesus. The relationship with Jesus is the key to loving others. We can’t do it on our own. It’s impossible to love others first. Sometimes though, I have found it’s easier to focus on the vertical relationship than to focus on other relationships.

The church is in the business of moving us from one category to the next. However, we may have a wall that gets in the way of moving from one category to the next. This was really a “ah-ha” moment for me. I definitely have built a wall around my heart. I have gotten hurt in the pass, and it’s just easier to keep people at a distance. I haven’t loved others as I should because it’s a vulnerability that I just don’t want to risk. But the wall is keeping me from living in the sweet spot with Jesus. The sweet spot is the place where everything changes. It’s the place of being in the center of God’s will. We are living with purpose and contentment that God is in control of our circumstances for our good and His glory. The sweet spot is where I become one with Jesus. I always thought it was the marriage ceremony to come in the new Kingdom, but I believe now that is the true place where God wants us right here, right now. To be married to the heart of Jesus – to be one – united in His desires and united as the body of Christ. Living in the sweet spot is a great joy to Jesus. When we’re all in, He can do more through us than what we could ever ask or imagine!

What if this was the goal of everyone in the church body? What if it was no longer thirteen percent of the church but more like fifty percent or sixty-five percent? How would that change our communities? How would that change the perception of “church” today? Would we make a difference in our cities or nation? This takes a different mindset. It takes commitment to the relationship with Jesus. It takes more than just going to church every Sunday and checking a box for the week. It’s a dedication to develop more understanding, more time with Him, more opportunities to serve Him – it’s more cost to us. It’s called a surrendered life. It’s about giving up control. And who actually likes giving up control?! Control needs to be in the hands of the One who can handle it. To become spiritually mature, we need to become more intimate with Jesus. It’s the only way to move from one category to the next. Let’s grow the percentage of those who are in love with Jesus, live in the sweet spot, and make a difference in the world around us!

Note: The teaching message was from Oak Hill Church by Greg Hawkins “The Goal” and “The Plan”

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

The Good Fight

Once upon a time, I used to hate to read. It was always so tedious to me. But when I think about it, I realize I hated to read text books. History and other topics never interested me when I was in school. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of it now. My interests are vastly different from when I first began to read. I love to pick up a book with meaning – with a purpose than just reading a story for story sake. Romance novels hold no interest for me. But give me a story of someone’s real life; I am fascinated especially of those long ago. I love to understand the history behind the story as well – like the time period and the ways of the world at that time.

Case in point, I just finished reading the biography of Joan of Arc. I have heard the story long ago of this famous girl who rode in front of armies and then was burned at the stake. But I didn’t know the real story or even if the tale was a real story. Joan believed God sent her on a mission to free France from English bondage. (I have often wondered why the French and English don’t get along – there is a long history there.) As I was finishing this story, my heart became so distressed about this young girl. The story occurred long ago, but I felt tears welling up because of the treatment by these powerful “church” men. They had in mind to do her harm from the very beginning of her capture. They were never going to set her free. They believed they were doing right, but their hearts were so dark. The main judge had the idea if he destroyed this young girl he would get the most promising position in the church. Seriously?

I am in distress about this because times really have not changed much. Oh, we live in surely a better world than the dark world of long ago. But man’s heart is still such a dark place. I see the believers today under some extreme conditions in other parts of the world where evilness delights in torture and ruin of God’s people. The shame they bring on young girls by their evil hearts. The torture that women endure – rape, watching their children brutalized, husbands beheaded and such. How can a person be so depraved? My heart hurts. And I realize that the darkness is in me too. I could easily have fallen into that dark place and stayed there. I am just as guilty as any other person today or six hundred years ago. It’s only through the grace of God that the darkness doesn’t rule my heart anymore.

We are meant to feel this injustice so that we will stand up to it. Those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are meant to be warriors for the cause of Christ. We have the armor that God gives us so that we can go into the battle field and wield the sword with accuracy to defeat the enemy. We can have the same authority that Joan had as she rode to defend her King. She believed she was doing it for her King and country by the will of God. We know that as followers this is not really our home. We are just here for a little while. Our King and country is not of this world. And we have the same conflicts to fight for the injustices of this world. We are here for the poor and needy. We are to make the most of what God wills for our lives. We have a purpose just as this young girl did so long ago. God is waiting on us to join the battle.

Joan heard voices to lead her in her battles. She knew things that were impossible to know. We too have a voice that we are to follow. The Holy Spirit will teach us those things we need to know so that we can fight the good fight. Things are not too different now – the battle is still on. Warriors are still needed. But we have been asleep for far too long. It’s time for us to wake up and be ready to join in God’s work. Are you ready? God’s waiting.

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good.
Seek justice. Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:16-17 (NLT)

Rules or Follow

Rules. I tried my best to follow them, but I usually failed. “Don’t do that. Don’t say that.” You have to do this because that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. You have to be a good girl in order to get to heaven. I was never really bent toward being good. I failed to live up to the standards set by my parents and by God. I just couldn’t do it. But then I found out no one else could either. My parents made mistakes. My sisters made mistakes. My friends made mistakes. So if everyone makes mistakes, who can live up to the standards of all the rules? No one.

When I started reading the Bible, I noticed Jesus didn’t say anything about following the rules. He said to follow Him. He asked the disciples one by one to follow Him. Yes, when we follow Him, we will actually follow the rules because He would never lead us into something that went against what God says. God placed rules or laws for us to follow so that we would know when we sinned – when we went against what God says. The law was not abolished when Jesus came; He came to fulfill them. He broke the rules by communing with sinners. He went against what the religious men said to do. Religion was made by man; but a relationship was made by Jesus. For many years, I didn’t understand that Jesus wanted a relationship. I thought it was always about the rules.

No, I couldn’t follow the rules. But I can follow one who breaks the rules in order to have a relationship. Jesus said to follow Him. I started that by reading what He said and read about His actions. The Holy Spirit seals us with the promise that we are His and teaches us how to follow Jesus. It’s by grace that we are given the presence of His Spirit. Yes, I believe I can follow this person who gives grace and mercy. I can have a relationship with the one who died for my sins. I can love the one who loved me first. I can be mindful of His laws because I have His presence within me. He teaches me as we walk the path – the Way. This is the way to eternal life with Jesus. One step at a time. Will I do it perfectly? No. But when I get off the path, I know His presence will gently remind me where I need to be. He will instruct me on how to return.

Is it really that easy? Yes and no. Yes, it’s just a simple command to follow Him. The hard part is laying down my own selfish desires – the “my way.” The hard part is to give up the things that keep me from hearing His voice – the things that distract me from His will; things that keep me from His best. It’s easy to follow when my heart is right and my focus is right. But the distractions, the other voices keep pulling me from the path. I am like Peter who starts out of the boat with the right focus, but somewhere along the way, I get distracted by the storms. Jesus never leaves us to drown though. He is always just one call away. Lord, save me! And He always does. No matter what. That’s because of the relationship with Jesus.

It’s not about religion. It’s about Jesus, my Shepherd. I am just a dumb sheep, who tends to wander. But I have a Good Shepherd that will not leave me in a place where the wolves are waiting. He searches for me because sometimes I don’t even know that I am off the path. Religion says that we search for God. But God says “I searched for you and found you and did not leave you where you were. I claimed you as my own.” That’s the God I follow. Jesus says to follow Him. Yes, I will follow Him to my eternal life with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This I confess and believe with all my heart. Jesus is Lord of all – King of kings; Lord of lords. For there is no other.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:16-18

The Dash

A few weeks ago, I posted some thoughts on life and death. This topic keeps coming up for me. I was listening to a sermon series from Pastor James MacDonald on Psalm 90. In one of the sermons he asked those listening to count the number of days we have remaining. In Psalm 90, it states in verse ten about “the length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have strength.” So if I calculate my age now until mid range of seventy-five years, I have a little over eight thousand days remaining if I make it to seventy-five. I don’t know the actual days remaining, but God has already set my end date. We all have an end date, whether we like to think about it or not. One hundred percent of us will die one day. Our hearts all began to beat in our mother’s womb and one day it will stop. If we should have a tombstone on our grave, we might have the dates stamped on there with a dash in between.

In Psalm 90:12, the writer asks God to teach us to number our days. The writer goes on to say in verse 14 to satisfy us in the morning with His unfailing love so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Wouldn’t that be nice to have joy every morning? What if we started each day with joy in our hearts; how would our day change? How would our life change? How would we impact those around us? These are the things I am contemplating as I have considered the rest of my days on this earth. The dash on the tombstone is our life on earth. The dash determines our destiny for eternal life. The dash matters.

The “dash” was another message I heard a couple of weeks ago from Pastor Louie Giglio (yes, I listen to many preachers). His message was from Luke 12:13-21 concerning the parable of the Rich Fool. The rich man had many riches – he didn’t have enough room to store his goods. Right now, I am picturing garages filled to the brim with junk; the one thing that should be in the garage doesn’t even fit amongst the junk! Our most expensive possession (outside of the house itself) has to sit outside in the weather. (This is not to mention that many people in the world live in a garage-sized space!) The rich man built bigger barns to hold his goods. He believed that he could then relax and take life easy. He had enough to last him the rest of his days. He just didn’t know how long his days were. In verse 20, God called the man a fool. The stuff the rich man gathered would do nothing for him in his eternal life.

We will all give an account to God one day. I would much rather hear from God “well done, good and faithful servant” rather than “you fool!” Each day matters. Each day I have a choice to make. I want to be wise in choosing things that bring God honor and glory. I want those treasures in heaven to be piled high, don’t you? The garage piled high will get me nowhere. It will only cause a lot of heart ache for the one who ultimately has to clean the garage (and house) out after I am gone. Someone will have all my possessions here on earth one day. Does this sound morbid to you? To me, it’s a reality check to make sure that I count my days wisely. There is more to this life than stuff. Life is a precious gift that is given to us by God for His glory and for our joy. Jesus came to give us abundant life, not abundant possessions! The dash matters.

Then he (Jesus) said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

When God Interrupts

Have you ever been interrupted in the middle of a conversation? Isn’t it annoying? It’s also very rude. Yet, when God does it, are we perturbed by it? We can have the greatest vision for our lives, but if it’s not God’s will, He may come in and interrupt those plans. Sometimes He allows us to follow our own course, but at some time He will help us to see something much better – His will for our lives. On Tuesday, my nephew and his family flew out of the country to begin a new chapter in their lives. It’s not something we as a family really wanted for them. After all, they are taking precious little ones far from family. But God has placed a divine interruption right in the middle of their lives and ours. He called them to a higher purpose than living paycheck to paycheck. He called them to go and make disciples to those on the other side of the world. He called them to love people who don’t know Jesus. He called them to something better.

In a way, I feel a bit envious of their new chapter. They know what they are supposed to do in this foreign place. They have their instructions and will have such an incredible time experiencing Jesus in a very different way. They are risking everything they have for the sake of the Gospel. But isn’t that what we are all called to do? Faith means nothing if it isn’t put into action. Faith means stepping out even when the vision isn’t fully revealed. Faith means we will go even when we don’t know what’s in that place where God wants us. Our faith is not for the faint of heart. It means taking huge steps so that God will be glorified in them. The unknown would probably scare us to death if it was revealed. Sometimes, it’s best not to know.

But faith means we place our lives in someone’s hands that is greater and knows all things. There is nothing that surprises our God. He is Sovereign. He sees our circumstances before we even get there. He is already there working it out for good even before we encounter it. God brings us the interruptions so that we can know Him better. We can understand another aspect of who He is. He is more concerned about our heart than He is about our comfort. If He needs to interrupt us, then it will be for our good. It is an opportunity to know Him better and to know His love in a greater way. And it’s always about bringing Him glory.

Yes, I am sad to see my nephew and family leave us. But I can’t wait to hear the stories they will have on how God has shown up in this new chapter. I can’t wait to be able to go to that place where they will be and see all God s doing through them. It’s hard for the grandparents to experience this season. I can’t imagine the loss they are feeling. But I know that God is going to take that pain and use it for another purpose. He is going to make something good out of all of it – I know it because God is that good. He takes it all for His glory and our good. God interrupts our comfortable so that we can experience a greater joy and greater presence than we could ever imagine. God is that good. His love is that good. We just have to have the faith that good will come out of those interruptions!

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

Let It Go!

“Let it go. Let it go.” Is the song in your head yet? When I was at the beach with my family, I finally had the opportunity to see the movie “Frozen.” I had heard the song “Let it Go” everywhere, but I didn’t have the context of the song. My niece told me I should write a blog about it, and I laughed it off. Yet, here I sit writing away! But it’s more than a song; it’s a verse in the Bible. It’s about running our race without anything hindering our progress. I was challenged in a sermon recently about throwing off those things that hinder my progress in my walk with Jesus. Is there an area of temptation that is keeping me from experiencing a deeper relationship with Jesus?

I remembered the song. Forgive me, I don’t remember the “star” in the film, but the woman with the icy touch was hurting the people she loved. She froze her sister’s heart and only an act of true love could unleash her to live. But instead of loving, she fled and locked herself into a protective ice castle so that she wouldn’t hurt anyone else. She determined this was the best thing for all concerned. But it was not the case. She did hurt the world even though she didn’t realize it.

After contemplating my own condition, I wondered if I have also locked myself in a protective environment that is unintentionally hurting those around me. We are meant to be out in the world loving the people God places in our lives. But I isolate myself with the church crowd. I really don’t have opportunities to witness to others about the love of Jesus. I don’t place myself in those places where I am called to minister – outside my walls. True love unleashes us to offer love to others. His true love is placed in us not only to benefit those within our walls, but it’s to reach out and love those around us – our neighbors, our co-workers, those we meet in the street. I have failed in this commandment too many times to count.

The past is behind me – let it go. I don’t want anything hindering my walk. I need protection too to keep me from tripping on this walk. I need to pick up the armor of God as I walk out my door. I want to be in the world but not of the world. I need the full armor on. I will put on the helmet to protect my thoughts. I cover my heart and soul with the breastplate of righteousness. My feet are ready to carry me to those places God wants me to go. The shield of faith is lifted up to keep Satan’s attempt from making me stumble or fall on this walk. And I am wielding the sword which divides the soul and spirit – not in judgment of others because I have no right to judge. The sword which is the living word of God is active and will do the work but we have to be the ones carrying it forward. How will they know if we don’t go?

So I am challenging you too. Let it go. Throw off that thing that is hindering your race. Only true love can release us to do more for His glory but first we have to lay “it” down before Him. Then pick up the full armor and get busy. I’m up for the challenge, are you?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

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