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Archive for the tag “Trusting God”

The Floater

The start of a new year is always a little daunting to me. New slate, new beginning, new… what? I really detest making goals. I detested it for my employers – because you know making goals never reflect in the raises we are given. It was always a budgeted amount regardless of what was stated on our reviews. I got a few promotions along the way because I was a good worker and did more than what was expected – but the raise was never given in proportion to the amount of effort put in and the goals that were attained. I did the work because I was given a job to do and I did it without much fanfare.

But I must tell you, through much of my life I have floated from one decision to another. I have led a quiet life. I don’t put things on a goal list or things I want to attain before I die. However, my Pastor challenged us today. He wants us to think of our funeral. I don’t like to think in those terms, but I see his point. God is a strategic God. And He wants us to be involved in His plan. His goals for our lives should be reflected in the way we live.

I have started reading through the Bible as my yearly endeavor. Right now, I am in Genesis – yep, just starting out. But I am reminded of a few things of significance – God has an order to things He creates; He puts things into place exactly at the right time and in the right order. He uses unlikely people for His purpose.

I am in the story of Jacob at this time. He’s an interesting character. Jacob’s name means deceiver and he lived up to his name. He stole his brother’s birthright and his blessing through deceptive means with the help of his mother. Jacob married a woman through deception – his future father-in-law switched wives on him and Jacob didn’t realize it until after the wedding night. Oops – married the first daughter and not the one he truly loved. Hate it when that happens!

But eventually He did marry his beloved Rachel. His first wife, Leah started having sons before his second wife Rachel. Jacob didn’t love Leah but yet she kept producing sons. Rachel was barren for many years then had Jacob’s favorite son Joseph and eventually Benjamin. He had twelve sons and one daughter through four different women – fascinating story; you’ll need to read it for yourself (Genesis 26-35).

It’s interesting to me that God didn’t use Jacob’s favorite wife to produce the heir to God’s Kingdom – His story is through the least favorite Leah and not through the favorite son but through one of Leah’s sons, Judah. Interesting, right? Jacob’s name is eventually changed to Israel and the blessing that was given to Jacob has been transferred from one generation to the next. The blessing given to Jacob (Israel) is that those who curse Israel will be cursed and those who bless Israel will be blessed (Genesis 27:29). God’s blessing is still reverberating through the centuries. God’s promises never fail.

As I contemplate God’s strategic plan, He has a place for me too. My Pastor told us we are to be intentional about our lives. We will never create a life of influence by accident. God has given us a vision for our lives – we are to bring Him glory in whatever we do. He has left it open to how He will use us, but He leaves nothing to chance. He uses it all for our good and for His purpose (Romans 8:28). When we go in the wrong direction, He uses it to build our character; for our future. But we are to surrender today and let God direct our steps for our future. He did this with Joseph, which means we will be exactly where God wants us to be at just the right time.

God gave Joseph a dream. The dream looked like nothing Joseph experienced along the way. However, Joseph stayed the course and chose to honor God in each and every situation until the dream was fulfilled. Joseph’s life wasn’t easy – first sold into slavery (by his brothers), then prison for something he did not do before he ever knew God was still working out the dream through him. The dream was fulfilled when Joseph rose to the second in command in Egypt. It was a road full of obstacles but one that finished at the right time and right place.

When I contemplate my own funeral, will it be a quiet affair with just a few friends and family in attendance? Will I have a life of significance? As long as I have breath in my lungs, I have an opportunity to live a life of purpose – glorifying God and letting Him lead me on a path with complete surrender of my own hopes and dreams. It’s His vision and dream that will be the most influential in all of history.

Can I be a part of His story? God’s Word tells me I can and you too. His Word also says to lay down our lives and take up the cross. That’s the life we’re meant to live – not a floater, but intentionally surrender every day. Not my will, but Yours be done; forever and ever. Amen.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Peace Beyond Understanding

When circumstances keep piling up from one thing to another, where do you turn for help? Over the last couple of months, I have seen circumstances change dramatically for several of my extended family members. One family lost their Mom suddenly; well, within 6 weeks time. The other family is in a battle that we all fear – cancer. Having experienced this myself, I know how their world can be rocked to the very core.

My Mom’s diagnosis ten years ago, will forever be etched into my memory. Devastation. Overwhelming sorrow. Shock. Questions of “what to do now?” seem to be unending. But right in the midst of the storm, peace. I told my Mom the peace I was experiencing and she too felt it. It was totally unexpected. Yes, overwhelmed with a sense of great grief, but peace in the midst. This peace transcends all understanding, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippi church (Philippians 4:7).

To be at peace, no matter what happens, is just not humanly possible. It’s an act of the Holy Spirit. I experienced it during those next two months as my Mom succumbed to the natural order in which we are all called. We do not get out of this life alive, but we are appointed to die at least once. However, that was not the end of my Mom’s story; she lives today with the Lord!

With my extended family’s ordeal, I visited my beloved aunt and noticed her own peace beyond understanding. She has the unbelievable peace knowing this is not the end. She knows her eternal home. Her joy was evident when I was sitting with her. She tried to explain this peace to me. She said she felt Jesus right beside her and knew He was there in the midst of her battle. She said no matter if He called for her today or in nine months, she was ready. Peace beyond understanding.

As I turn to a new year in just a few hours, I wonder what 2020 will bring. As the year indicates, I hope it’s a year of vision. I hope I can see clearly – both physically and spiritually. It seems this last year has been one of darkness. I can’t explain this cloud that has hung over me but something has kept me from writing or even had the ability to sit quietly in the Lord’s presence. It’s been a tough year. I do not have bouts of depression. I have joy and peace most of my days. The darkness has nothing to do with me physically. I believe there is a battle in the heavens that is playing out here on earth.

2020 may be another year of darkness, but I am praying for the rays of God’s light to shine brightly through the darkness. The world has turned upside down and I don’t expect it to right itself anytime soon. With the tumultuous political climate we’re in, this year may be a difficult year for us here in the US. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I believe we’re in for quite a ride. So be ready for it. Prepare for the battle – with prayer – so that you will be at peace no matter what happens. I ask for God’s protection from this darkness. And pray consistently for His help for our nation.

I hope you are ready for the battle because it’s coming whether we’re ready or not. It could be a personal battle like my Aunt’s or a national battle that affects us all. We all come to a battle we cannot face alone. But we have One who will be in it with us just as my Aunt has experienced Him there beside her. I know God has all things under His control. He has the time of all events – life, death, Jesus returning, or the daily battles we all face – He’s got this now and forever. I trust Him to complete the work He’s started – in me, in my Aunt, in this country, and in the world. And I know His peace is for each of us to experience – beyond our understanding – now and forever.

May God’s light shine upon you and His blessings flow in you and around you for this next year. Keep focused on the His will; be obedient to His calling, and let Him use you mightily for His Kingdom throughout this New Year. Let’s move forward with His peace in this new normal and let Him get the glory. Here’s to a new decade of fruitfulness! Happy New Year!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

God is Good Like That

Eight years ago this weekend, I made the decision to quit my full-time job. It was a hard decision, but I did it not knowing how it would all turn out. I just knew it would turn out okay. I thought God was directing me to something new. I thought my health coaching career would take off. But it never turns out exactly as expected, right? Since I quit my full-time job, writing has been my thing.

Seven years ago this month, I started writing this blog. Hundreds of posts have been published. Writing has been a way for me to process what God is doing in me, around me and through me. I published two books during this time as well. Not sure if there will be another book in the future, but right now, it’s not happening. Who knows what the future will hold?

These last eight years have been a blessing, but it’s also been stressful. I have used all the money I saved while working in corporate America for twenty-five years. Three and a half years ago, I started working a part-time job in the natural health world that I truly love, but it doesn’t pay much. The financial stress hasn’t eased much. However, God has used these last eight years to teach me about trusting Him. I never know from one year to the next how I will manage to meet all the bills from month to month, but somehow God provides just enough to get by. God is good like that.

My corporate job was a financial budget analyst. Finance is one of my strengths but also one of my weaknesses. It has been a major stumbling block at times. I can worry about finances when things are looking a little grim. Sometimes, I believe I have provided for myself when things are going well. My security can be found in my savings account or my stock portfolio instead of my true security in Him. When it is all stripped away, I can rest assured in the fact that God is my rock and my refuge. I can trust in Him alone.

It’s taken all these years to believe it in my heart because I have trusted in Him to see me through the lean years. God provided the means in the “fat” years so that I could be sustained in the early part of the lean years. He prepared me for these lean years. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was working out a plan that I didn’t know I was following. God is good like that.

Throughout the Bible, we see God take people through some stuff in order to be useful to Him in the future. Joseph comes to mind. Joseph had a dream that eventually came true. But the years from seventeen to thirty were difficult for him. Abused by his brothers, sold into slavery, sent to prison; but it was nothing like the dream. Yet, God was working the plan to make the dream come true.

Moses too had a bright future. It would take eighty years for the plan to unfold for him. He must have needed more time to “season” than Joseph. Yet God was working His plan in Moses’ life. At eighty years old, walking in the desert one day – God calls him into his purpose. “Go and set my people free.” Joseph saw this day before his death. Joseph instructed his people to take his bones with them when they left Egypt (Genesis 50:25) because God will come to their aid. And just as Joseph predicted, 430 years later, God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt with Joseph’s bones in his possession (Exodus 13:19).

God may also have a hard place for us to endure for a time to season us for His purpose. We may not understand it at the time, but it’s a time of patient endurance that will bring us the greatest blessing if we just hold on to the hope we possess in Christ Jesus. Jesus said He would complete the work He started in us so hold on for that day. I am still holding on. I am still waiting for the dream to come true (hopefully it won’t take another twenty years to see it happen). How about you?

God said He would do it – trust Him. He is faithful and true. His Word shows us in the smallest of details, His plan is still unfolding and we’re a part of it. We just need to let God work it all together for our good and for His glory because He will do what He said He would do. God is good like that.

My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel. I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:3-6 (TPT)

Puzzle Pieces

Since Thanksgiving, I have been working on a jigsaw puzzle. My sister started one when I went to visit for the holiday. So naturally when I got home, I had to start one of my own. I finished it last night. It took the longest time to see the picture come together, but the last thirty minutes all the pieces fell into place quickly. I could see the big picture by then and the crazy-looking pieces could be easily placed in the right holes quickly.

As I looked over the final picture, I realized God was doing the same thing in the world today. Since the beginning of time – let’s say the edge of the puzzle was put together. It was fairly easy in the beginning. God breathed and it was done. The edge of time was born. Then slowly, each piece was put in place around the outer edges. Throughout the centuries another part of the picture would be made clearer as each piece of the puzzle was put in place. Then Jesus Christ was born.

The puzzle piece of Jesus didn’t make sense to the religious folks. They failed to look at the big picture which was given on the “box top.” They didn’t see Jesus as the main theme of the picture. They thought they knew what the box top revealed only they didn’t actually look to see if it was true. Their thoughts didn’t match up with the true picture. They were also missing some of the pieces of the puzzle. They didn’t connect the right pieces in the right places.

In the first week of working my puzzle, I didn’t have a clue how all those pieces in the box were going to reveal the picture that was on the box top. I just trusted the box top was true and the pieces would come together eventually. Each piece was examined closely to see if it would match the hole. I looked for the distinct shape and color to match the picture that was forming slowly before my eyes.

God has given us the “box top” for to see the true picture. It’s God’s puzzle although it’s not a puzzle to Him. He had the picture in mind from the beginning. He just places the pieces at the right time in the right order. We just get to watch it take place over time. Sometimes we miss the event that places the piece on the table. It just looks strange to us. But God is faithful to reveal the big picture one piece at a time in His own way.

We celebrate Jesus’ birth next week. Jesus’ life was a major piece of the puzzle that helps us make sense of the big picture. For the last two thousand years, the puzzle is coming together. The pieces in the box are becoming less and the bigger picture is being revealed. We may think this world has gone crazy; but in reality, it’s just one more piece of the puzzle being put into place. The closer we get to the missing pieces being put in place, the quicker the puzzle will be complete and the picture will be revealed. It will happen just as the “box top” has shown us. One piece at a time.

There was a quote I read the other day by William Penn. “For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.” After losing my Dad this year, the quote resonated with me. Dad is not gone, but was turned over to eternity. We will all go from time to eternity. One day our individual puzzle will be complete. Every piece will be put in place and then it will all make sense. Of course, it will be hindsight that reveals God’s work on our puzzle – but it will make sense (hopefully).

Right now, it might be a jumbled mess with pieces still in the box and the picture on the table incomplete. But one day, a piece will fit into place that will bring a bit more revelation of what God is doing in our lives. We just have to trust His picture of us that He is putting together. It is always about our character – one piece at a time. It’s His purpose to get us to the place of completeness in Him. One piece at a time. Trust Him. It’s the only way to live in this jumbled mess when the pieces are still in the box and nothing makes sense.

God started time when He breathed the sun and moon into existence. There will be an end to time – when the last piece of the puzzle is put into place – when we will be turned over to eternity. One day, it will happen just as God revealed it. If we don’t see the complete picture yet, we need to look more closely at God’s Word. The Word is true. If you need proof, look to Jesus. Jesus was God’s biggest move of a puzzle piece put into place. Trust Him. In this time and through eternity. It’s all His. One piece at a time.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And his will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (ESV)

Two Feet of Jesus

In my small group, we’re going through the Book of Mark. An impression has settled over me concerning these Scriptures. Jesus wanted us to have faith. I know, duh. But really, faith is the key to everything concerning Jesus. David Jeremiah said in one of his teachings about being an Overcomer, “faith is about security in the object of our faith.” He gave the illustration of ice fishing. Is it better to have a little faith with two feet of ice or to have a whole lot of faith with two inches of ice? Of course, it would be a little faith on two feet.

Jesus said we should at least have faith as small as the mustard seed. Even with that smallest of faith, we could say to the mountain move and it would move. That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think. But it’s the object of our faith that causes the mountain to move.

Jesus could do nothing in the place where there was no faith, especially in His hometown. People grew up with Him. They knew Him or at least, they thought they knew Him. They didn’t understand where He received His education. They couldn’t trust Him because they didn’t know His instruction came from above. They didn’t believe He was the Son of God because they thought He was Mary and Joseph’s son. They didn’t know the back story even when it was given to them in their Scriptures from long ago.

The learned scholars had the back story, they too didn’t believe. They were waiting for the Messiah; yet when He came, they didn’t recognize Him. They had everything before them and they couldn’t see Him. They had no faith in Him. They had more faith in their Scriptures, which were only given so that God’s people would recognize their need for the Savior and recognize Him when He arrived on the scene. But they chose to have more faith in two inches of parchment rather than the two feet of Jesus, the living Word.

Who am I to criticize them? I can be just as bad with my faith walk. Sometimes I put my faith in the wrong things. Money. People. Job. You name it. I have probably trusted it more than I have trusted Jesus. However, I believe my experiences over time have developed more trust in the two feet of Jesus. I still lose sight and have to be reminded. But Jesus continues to give me new insight when I read His Word. Faith – it’s a big deal. We can’t get to heaven without it.

James MacDonald spoke recently about miracles. Jesus performed many miracles (as long as there was faith present) throughout His ministry. Does it still happen? I wrote down from the teaching – “only God can move mountains.” But Jesus said we could do it with faith as small as a mustard seed. The faith is for God to move it on our behalf, not in us. We ask in faith and watch Him move it. He still has the same abilities as He did when Jesus walked the earth. But it still takes faith.

Pastor James said “Miracles are common where God’s glory is revealed. Miracles are uncommon where God’s glory is concealed.” Why do we want a miracle? Will God get the glory for the miracle? Pastor James’ last point was “miracles flow for a deeper faith.” God creates miracles for His glory and for our faith in Him. The more we trust Him the more He’ll do through us. We take greater risks when we truly believe God is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do.

Faith. As small as a mustard seed. Two feet of Jesus is more than anything else this world has to offer. Money. People. Jobs. There’s no comparison. God said He would never leave us or forsake us. Do you believe it? We could all use more faith. But if we start with the smallest of faith, He will enlarge it as we lean upon Him as we take the next step and the next. Faith grows more confident the further we walk with Jesus – He might even take us all the way to the center of the ice – but He never leaves us there alone. His two feet are right beside us. Trust Him to get to the other side. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.”

Jesus replied, “Where is your faith? Can’t you see how wayward and wrong this generation is? How much longer do I stay with you and put up with your doubts? Bring your son to me.”

Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the boy was instantly healed!

Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”

He told them, “It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!

Matthew 17:16-20 (TPT)

The Test

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.

However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.

In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).

In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.

Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.

The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.

Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?

We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14

The Stirring

What could possibly go wrong with a day of exploring a cave with twelve young boys? I’m sure if the young coach would have thought it through, it might have occurred to him it wasn’t a good idea during monsoon season. But like all of us in those seasons of our lives, we don’t necessarily think of those things that could go wrong – especially when we are young and life hasn’t thrown us a curve or two. Been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. You too? Too many times we end up needing a savior to rescue us from our misfortunes. But sometimes in those misfortunes, we find our greatest victory.

We’ve all heard the stories of these children and many more of unfortunate circumstances for other children stuck in a situation that was not of their own doing. Children are vulnerable to the whims of the adults who are in charge of their care. It’s unfortunate some of those adults don’t make the best decisions on behalf of those children. Maybe they don’t think their decisions through. The best laid plans don’t always have good outcomes. But sometimes they do, even when the odds are stacked against them.

On my July 4th holiday, I had a movie marathon. One movie opened my heart in a new way. It was about children. Particularly, about one Irish child’s unfortunate circumstance that produced a great victory for hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The story was told through the movie Noble, the story of Christine Noble. One woman changed thousands of children’s lives by her willingness to go. This one woman had a dream of Vietnamese children suffering in the gutters of a city in Vietnam. That dream changed her life and the lives of countless others. One woman.

This week, I also finished a book I had been reading called Love Does by Bob Goff. Love Does is part of Bob’s story and the work he does just because he can. Bob is a willing participant in Jesus’ work around the world. Bob’s heart was positioned to be used for the children of Uganda. His foundation has built boarding and schools for the children in Uganda. Uganda has many orphaned children due to wars and AIDS.

Bob and a young man boarded a plane for Uganda with an idea to help the Ugandan children. They drove up to the northern part of the country through war-torn countryside and checkpoints along the way and saw the needs so great they knew they had to do something.

Christine boarded a plane for Vietnam. She didn’t know how she was going to help either, but she knew she needed to try. She began to walk the city and through God’s direction found the place where the need was the greatest. And she began the task to build a better life for the ones she found there. And the idea grew.

God led both of these inspirational people were led on their journeys. They listened to the inner voice and the stirring in their souls to do something. They didn’t know how. They didn’t have the resources. But God did. They were just willing participants in God’s work to help these children have a brighter future. Bob and Christine had an idea. They had no idea how that idea was going to play out. They just started to walk their idea out. And God was faithful to lead them to the right people and the right places.

Sometimes we might think, these types of people are different. But I think we’re all called to have the same willingness to go and walk out the ideas that stirs our souls. Sometimes we over think our ideas – we’re afraid to fail, so why even try? But maybe God has stirred our souls. Maybe God has given us the ideas to walk them out and depend on Him to show us the way.

God’s heart leans in the direction of children. God hears the children’s cries of help. God directs our steps to help these children. I know there are many times children have cried out for help, but no one comes. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear. I think it has more to do with those He prompts to do something and we failed to act on the stirring.

There are some divers who have flown around the world to help the children in the cave. The divers’ hearts have been stirred to action. It might seem insignificant at the time, but it could change everything for the future of the country. It only took one stirring to begin the change in Uganda and one stirring to begin the change in Vietnam. One stirring.

The Spirit of God is looking for hearts that are willing to be stirred for the sake of the children. Today it may be children in a cave in Thailand or in an orphanage in Uganda or Vietnam; but tomorrow maybe in a red-light district in Greece or at a border crossing in Texas. What would God have us do for the children? Any ideas?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Stand Firm

This morning’s Bible passage was from Daniel 3 concerning the three men and their fiery trial. The King had set up a golden image for everyone to worship, but the three Jewish men refused to do so. They knew that worshipping an idol was forbidden by God.

In Deuteronomy, Moses referred to God as a jealous God. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

So when the men were given the opportunity to worship the idol, they still refused even though it meant they would be thrown into a blazing furnace. They were convinced that God would rescue them, but even if God didn’t they would still stand firm in their conviction. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Conviction. Do you have that type of conviction? Even if? If everything you know to be true, do you still stand firm? Many people throughout the world have that type of conviction. They stand firm even if their lives are threatened. We are at a big disadvantage in this western world. Hard to believe, right? However, we have many things that distract us from worshiping God. Our conviction may not stand up if we are threatened.

This week, I read the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He was an investigative reporter who decided to investigate the evidence for Jesus. He was an atheist whose wife became a Christian. He wanted to disprove this Christian cult (as he considered Christianity). So for two years or so, he followed the evidence. In the end, the evidence led him to the truth. The evidence was overwhelming that this Jesus did live; He did die; and He did rise again. The evidence was enough to convince Lee that it took “more faith to maintain atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Many lives have been changed throughout the centuries through this Gospel message. As an investigative journalist, Lee knew how to trace the evidence – he had seen too many trials with evidence stacked up against the defendant that conviction was just a matter of when not if. Evidence can change the whole trial. Testimony too is an important key to conviction. But evidence in the case seals the deal.

After reading Lee’s book, it just gave me a deeper feeling of gratitude for what Jesus had done for me. Jesus did suffer and die for me – and you. It was a gruesome death. It was all the wickedness poured out on Him by every lash He received – tearing skin and muscle and every fiber from his head to his knees. He took that pain and suffering on for every human heart that beats even if those hearts don’t beat for Him. His pain and suffering was enough to cover every sin committed – past, present and future. His sacrifice was enough to cleanse every heart and make every heart whole.

There was a period in my life where I doubted this Christianity thing. I saw the hypocrites in church and wondered how this Christianity was supposed to be true. A man once said to me that he didn’t want to go to heaven if the “Christians” were going to be there. I understood what he said because I had thought those same thoughts somewhere down the line of my faith journey. However, we don’t follow Christians, we follow Jesus. Christians are just a work in progress.

My faith journey didn’t stop with the doubts; it just made me want to know more. My parents and my grandparents were convinced that Jesus was who He said He was. But I couldn’t rely on their faith to help me when times got rough. I had to have my own conviction that this Jesus was the real deal.

We can’t stop at the questions and doubts. God doesn’t want us to quit searching and seeking. Actually, we are told when we search and seek, we will find when we search with our whole heart. God is after our whole heart because He is a jealous God who doesn’t want to share our hearts with any competition. Does that seem too harsh? God so loved us that He sent His Son to die for us. He earned every heart by the strips on His back. It was a pretty harsh way to die. But He did it for our sakes because there is no other way to God but by the blood of Jesus.

Are you convinced about this Jesus? Do you still have doubts? Seek out the evidence. It’s never too late to find Him. And you’re never too broken to be fixed. Jesus is the real deal. I am convinced of it. I hope you are too. When the fiery trials come, let us stand firm on the foundation of Jesus.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud
and mire;
he set my feet
on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song
in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the
Lord
and put their trust
in him. Psalm 40:1-3

Rubber Meets the Road

For the last couple of years, I have been contemplating making a move. It’s on my radar once again, but this time I think I’m ready to go. It’s not an easy decision; one that I do not take lightly. I have been in this place for over seventeen years. It’s the longest time I have lived in one place. However, I have always said this was the house God gave me. When it’s time to transfer managers, I would wait on Him for the right time. So the decision is based on His direction.

The offer is on the table through a new start-up company who buys houses at a fair market value. It was so much more than I had anticipated that it has me a little startled. I don’t want to chase the money; but if this is God’s blessing, I don’t want to miss the chance either. This is where faith becomes an action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road and becomes very real in moving out in faith.

It feels somewhat like an Abraham move. God told Abram (before the name change) to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). I don’t think God is calling me to the mission field, but I am leaving my home of seventeen years. It’s a separation that is real. At this point, I don’t know if I am leaving my community and my church family too.

My small group is going through the Priscilla Shirer study about hearing God’s voice. So relevant for this time. The point that came across to me is about hearing God’s word through a sense of peace in the decision. I have heard God’s voice a few times in my life, but this one is different – as they all were. It’s a matter of discerning the right thing and the “almost” right thing; the good versus the best. That’s where it gets hard. No one knows the future but God.

A few years back, I knew God was asking me to sell my car. It was an almost “dream” car for me. I loved it, but it was costly to maintain. It was a struggle in my spirit to let go. It took me a month to finally put the car up for sell. Once I released it, I found the next car that was so much more economical and have had no expense except for maintenance. It was a complete blessing, especially in my financial lean time.

At Beth Moore’s conference last weekend, the first thing I wrote down in my notes was the faster we obey the easier it is the next time. Yes, I am struggling with the letting go process. However, the struggle isn’t much about letting go, but discerning if it’s God’s will to let go. Letting go is easier when we know God is on the move. I want to go where He is going. Don’t you?

In Priscilla’s video for the study this week, she talked about knowing what you’re called to do. She mentioned that we need to be on the front lines in God’s plan – we have to know our own “front line.” What is our individual assignment? Jesus had His own front line. He did everything His Father asked of Him and nothing else. We are to be single-minded as well. We are to work on our own “God-thing.” Do you know your God-thing? Is your time divided into things that are not yours to do?

My God-thing is to help people get healthy. I found my passion a few years ago; however, I am still working through what that really looks like when the rubber meets the road. How do I walk it out consistently? Right now, I work for a natural healthcare doctor. When I went to school to get a certification in health coaching, the instructor said to “find your voice” and use it to help others. Finding my voice was the key to writing. At the time, I had no idea that was the next thing God wanted to do through me to help others. Here I am years later, still typing away.

I don’t know what the next thing will be when I finally make the decision to move. I don’t know what’s in store for the next few months or years either. But so far, peace has settled over me. A couple of weeks ago, God whispered “trust me” and I am. God always knows when we have had enough. He will never keep us longer in a place than we need to be. The time is always right when His hand is moving us.

The last thing I wrote down in my notes from Priscilla’s message was obedience brings freedom. The Scripture associated with her last point was directed at Galatians 5 about self-discipline. As I looked that over, I noticed in verse 25 “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Wherever He leads, I’ll go. Will you?

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

Lordship Over All

Over the last few years, it has come to my attention on numerous occasions that there may be a lordship problem amongst the Body of Christ – well, maybe it’s just my problem. But if it’s a problem with me, it might be a problem for others. I think we can all agree that Jesus came to save us from our sins, so yes, He is our Savior. But can we also agree that He is not only our Savior, but supposed to be our Lord – over all things in our lives? Not just the Lord over our spiritual lives, but also our marriages, our families, our working lives, and yes, even over our finances. Everything should be surrendered to His control.

I am a financial person. It’s my training, it’s my experience, it’s my nature to look at things financially first before I consider other things. My Mom was the same way, so I owe my financial nature to her. I have been blessed with parents who did not live beyond their means. They were good stewards of the resources God gave them. And they taught me to do so as well. Being a single woman, I really have no one to be accountable to for financial resourcefulness. It’s me and only me – unless you put Jesus in the mix, then I am accountable to Him for how I manage His resources.

As followers of Jesus, we are managers of everything He has given us. We will be accountable for how we use His resources – that includes our gifts, abilities, time, and our financial resources. He doesn’t just give us funds for our pleasure, but for His purpose. Sure, He gives us opportunities to use some of the resources for pleasure, but not all of it. We can say “no” to our inner child when our inner child sees a something it wants. It’s called self-control. And we need to have better discipline over God’s resources.

This was a big lesson for me to learn a few years ago. God put a passion in me that required a bit of training to do it well. I researched the schools that were available at the time. Each time I looked over the possibilities, I kept coming back to the same school. It was going to take a big step of faith. It was a big expense. I had a bit of savings but not enough for the travel and expenses it was going to take over a period of ten months. But I felt this was the right one for me, and God seemed to confirm it on several occasions. God opened the way for me to do it, but it cost me to follow through.

Through that experience, I learned to say “no” so that I could say “yes” to something greater. I think that’s what Jesus’ Lordship is all about. Saying “no” to our fleshly desires gives us greater opportunities to say “yes” to something better. Putting Jesus Lord over all things gives us something greater. That includes our financial resources. Spending every last penny and borrowing more to feed our fleshly desires is robbing us of the true joy that can be found in Jesus alone.

We need margin. We need to be able to serve God with our financial resources; the resources that He has allowed us to have. He gives to us so that we can be a blessing to others. We are called to be “funnels” of His resources. We are not to hoard and believe that what has been given is solely for our use.

This is the lesson that I am currently learning. I want to be a funnel, but right now, I have that mentality of scarcity because of my lack of resources. I am in an uncomfortable position to learn this lesson – whether its by my own doing or His – He is teaching me through it. It’s about opening my hands. He can place resources in my palm and take them out at His discretion. This is not mine, but His. I am just His manager, and He instructs me on how to use what He has given me. At least, that’s what I am learning.

There were things I had to let go of. He determines which is best to go and which is to stay. It’s uncomfortable. However, I am committed to His Lordship over all. He has to be – He made the purchase for that right. He purchased my sins and my life by His death. He paid the price so that I could live a better life through Him. This is His right as my redeemer. And by His resurrection He has given me a new life.

I acknowledge that He is my Savior and Lord. I hope you can do the same. Learn the lesson so that you can be a blessing because He will give you so much more than you can ever earn on your own. Trust Him! Trust His character. He will never give you less than His best.

 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:29-32 (MSG)

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