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What is Before You?

19 Dec

Last week I went to a graduation for one of my daughters friends. Although it was not taking place in the summer, all of the normal graduation traditions were present.  The stage was set with the podium and microphone.  Multiple seats held the dignified guests.  The flags of our state and our district were proudly displayed and rows and rows of seats for our young graduating class faced forward towards the stage. Alas the music began.  The 2011 class began to proudly walk towards the crowd.  People were cheering.  Balloons were floating and waving with words of encouragement like, “Congrats” “You made it!” and “Great job”  The look of pride on the seniors faces marked a long road of struggle, of overcoming major learning obstacles and having conquered them.  They took their seats.  The speaker had to wait for the audience to quiet amidst the cheers, shouts and tears.  The honor guard presented their colors.  The choir sang.  The opening speaker took to the mike and began to speak.

And at that moment a major truth hit me.  You see, the mascot for the school that we were attending was the Red Devils.  The graduation was taking place in the gym and painted on the wall behind the speakers podium was a painted Red Devil.  The painting was approximately 18-20 feet in height and about 8-10 feet wide.  The painting itself was of a devils face.  It was red in color with jagged horns.  Its teeth were horrific and misshaped.  Its eyes had a sinister glow and look to them.  All around the base of its face, different shades and shapes of fire danced and licked around it.  The effect was quite evil.

Now sitting opposed to that gruelish figure were our graduating seniors. Proud of their accomplishments and so looking forward to the next chapter opening in their lives.  They were hopeful, eagerly listening to any bit of truth or encouragement they could glean from the speakers.  I would dare say that most, if not all of them, were so focused on the graduation activities, they did not even see the gigantic evil looming before them.   I would dare to suggest that those sitting in the bleachers were equally unaware.

So many times we too are going through life, so focused on our activities and purposes we don’t see the gigantic evil before us.  Now I am not suggesting that we become devil watchers.  But I want to encourage you to be aware.  To be prayerful.  To be on guard for your loved ones, family and friends.

1 Pet. 4:8 reads,  “Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The first part of John 10:10 reads,”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”

We have a real enemy.  He wants to destroy Christians.  If he can’t kill us, then he wants to steal from us.  If he can’t steal from us then he wants to hurt you by any means possible.  Stand guard.  Be on alert. Be prayerful.  And remember the promise made to us in the second part of John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

We are created to have life and to live it abundantly!  Jesus came to secure it and to deliver it.  All you have to do is accept it.  Come on, what are you waiting for?


Just giving a little help…

31 Jul

I sat and listened as a lady shared how she was at a crossroad in her life.  She had two different directions before her.  She shared that she didn’t have a clear understanding of which would be best for her. Therefore, she decided to put both of her options on a piece of paper. After writing both of her options onto separate pieces of paper, she went in search of a bowl.  Once she had obtained a bowl, she dropped them in.  As she swirled them round and round in the bowl, she proclaimed, “I don’t know what I should do, so whichever I pick out of the bowl, must be God’s will”  Then she closed her eyes,  reached into the bowl and made her selection.  She opened her eyes and read the direction.  She then looks at her friend and shares, “This is obviously the will of God.  There’s is no reason for me to be nervous.  After all, I picked this direction out of the bowl.”    She glances at her friend looking slightly guilty and blurts out, “All right!  I only cheated a little and peeked when I picked. Sometimes God needs some help!”

Can you relate?  Do you ever feel that way?  You want to trust God but you think if you “help” out then things will go faster, easier or maybe quicker if you are helping…

Too many times we can be found guilty of trying to help God out.  The problem is our plans are second rate compared to the awesomeness of God’s plans for us.  In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

See, God tells us that he has a plan that is good and that it is one that will give us a future.

So what do we need to do?  We need to step back and let God direct. Most of all, we need to understand that God doesn’t need our help.  He does, however, invite us to walk with Him.  He needs to do the leading. We need to do the following.

Therefore, the next time you are inclined to help God out, remember the council given to us in Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

It’s okay for us to make plans.  We just need to seek God in order to determine:

First, IF this is the direction you should go.

Second, WHEN you should go and

Lastly, WHAT you need to know and/or learn as you go.

Cause in the end, we want to live assured that we are living in the promise found in Jeremian 29:11,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Till we meet again my friend!

Blessed be!!

It’s too Easy to be Broken

16 Apr

A man was facing a radical life changing event.  The scarier part was the life changing direction was that is wasn’t even in his hands. He had no control over his future.  His life – his career – his tomorrow was in the hands of another.  He had never faced a situation like this before.  He did not know what to do.  Earlier in his life he had faced situations that weren’t as drastic as this but as he faced them alone, he did not get the results that he wanted.  Now facing this, he had every reason to be in fear.  To doubt himself and the outcome.  Would his life change today? Would he again hear results that his ears, his heart and his mind did not, could not, accept as true?

Unbeknownst to him, I took my concerns for him to a select group of confidential friends.  I shared his fears, my fears, the concerns, the future that he faced.  They poured prayer over this situation with me. For days they continued to pray.  For days they stormed the gates of heaven asking God to intervene on behalf of this young man.   They asked for grace.  They pleased for mercy.  All for a man they did not know.  His burdens became their burdens.  They truly revealed themselves to me as warriors in the battle of this young man.

At 1:30pm he went to learn of his future.  At first, he could not find information at the location that he was initially informed to attend. For over 45 minutes he sought for the person that could give him the information that he sought.  Finally in a totally different building, on the 5th floor, he found a young lady that shared with him that at 8am that morning, the results that he really, really wanted but didn’t believe that he would receive, was indeed the results he received.

His first words upon hearing this news was, “You’ve got to be kidding me!?!”  He could not believe that he heard her correctly.  He wanted those results yet he never believed he would receive those results. “Why are you so surprised?” I asked him while watching tears fill his eyes.   “I didn’t think this would happen!”  I shared with him about the people I asked to pray for him.  I expanded on how they were faithful in asking for God’s favor.  As he reflected on what had just happened, on what he just heard, he sat in wonderment – in amazement.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”  When he went alone before, he did not get the results he wanted.  This time, he went as a triple-braided cord.  Himself – his prayer partners & God.  He was not broken.  He was not attacked.  He was not defeated.  He got the results he wanted.

How about you?  Are you bundling yourself with others?  Are you sharing your needs and concerns so that others can gather themselves around you?  IF NOT, what is preventing you?  Stop trying to do it alone.  It will never get you the results you want.  Try it a new way.  Because

Moving on a path – them BAM!!

14 Apr

Imagine yourself walking down a sidewalk.  The sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  The birds are singing.  It’s a beautiful day.  You see something on the sidewalk up in the distance.  It is slowly moving from one side to the other.  As you get closer, you notice a child walking towards you. Whatever is on the sidewalk, moving slowly, is between you and the child.  As you approach, you see that it is a large snail. Completely stretched out, moving gracefully, with his “shell house” moving right along with him.  All of a sudden the child that was walking toward you laughs out loud and kicks the snail as hard as he could into the grass!

Imagine yourself in the place of the snail… Life is grand.  After weeks and weeks of rain, the sun is finally out!  The sidewalk is warm and toasty.  It feels so good that you have stretched yourself out completely.  You’ve “put yourself out there”.  You are happy.  You are content.  You are moving towards a goal.  You are excited about the path before you.  Then all of a sudden, your happy day begins turning and rolling, over and over.  What was up, is now down.  What was right, is now left. Nothing is where it should be.  What happened?  You weren’t bothering anyone.  You were just doing your thing.  Content. Happy.

Life is sometimes like that.  You don’t see the thing that is getting ready to derail you from your content and happy path.  It may hurt.  Things may be upside down for a little bit.  So what do you do?  How do you respond?  Let the snail be our guide…  He knows the abilities that the creator has given him.  He has a way to protect himself.  He knows how to upright himself.  To reset his course and be true to the Creator who made him.

So when we are knocked off course, lets be like the snail.  Let’s be true to our Creator too.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  See?  We don’t have to fear.  We don’t have to be dismayed.  We just need to accept the help and strength that is being offered.  There is a right hand waiting to make things “right with us” (righteous).  Come on my friend, reach up.

Just go…

1 Apr

I was cleaning out my office today and found an entry from a study that I wrote years ago. I would like to share it with you:

The passage for this particular study was Matthew 26:17-25.  Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to prepare for the passover and they were instructed to see “a certain man”.  The question I posed was:  How were they to know which man?  Did they stop and ask Jesus what man, did they ask for more details or a better description? Did they wait to respond until they had all of the details?  No. They just went. They trusted that once they got there, it would become clear to them.  Has there been times in your life that you “just went with Christ?”

There will be many times when Jesus will ask us to just go with Him.  We may not be certain of the path or even the reasoning behind it but we can be assured of one thing:  God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.  How do I know?  Because time and time again, He’s proven Himself trustworthy.  Here’s an example:

Towards the end of my husbands seminary training, he was called by a church to be a youth pastor.  After being there only a short time, we discovered there were a group of people that wanted to take the church in a different direction that our convictions agreed with.  Yes, we were concerned but we prayed and left it to God.  Within two months the senior pastor, who shared our beliefs, announced that he was called to a different church and tendered his resignation.

So here is my husband, still in seminary, wet behind the ears, standing up for his beliefs within the church.  After a meeting with the leaders, they announced that Don would preach while they sought out their direction and new pastor.  What did we do?  We continued to pray.  We trusted God to handle the needs of the church and our future.  The second week that Don preached there was a pastor search committee from a neat little church that aligned with our beliefs in the audience, listening to their next pastor.

So we prayed and we trusted God to handle this situation.  What did He do?  He allowed my husband to partner with a church that shared his beliefs.  There are two things that I learned during that:

1.  Don’t compromise on God’s Word – He’ll protect you when you protect it!

2. When situations come up (and they will!) God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.

So, I shared with you yesterday that I had a rough week.  I shared that my ladies are walking with me.  Then today I find these words written many years ago.  The cool thing, the truth I found then is the same truth I need to realize today.  It is the same truth that you need to realize today too.

Until tomorrow, we will continue to walk in Grace.

Blessed be my friend!

Thanks for My Handfill

28 Mar

I was in that in-between stage.  My youngest child was 12.  My oldest was 21.  What am I in-between, you ask?  I did ‘t have anyone “little” to hold and snuggle with.  My arms were empty!

Therefore I started my search.  I hounded (excuse the pun) the animal shelters.  At last, in July of 2010 I found him. He was a 7 pound min-pin.  He had been left abandoned in an apartment.  They didn’t know his name.  They didn’t know how long he had been stranded there – no food, no water.  When I arrived at the shelter – he didn’t even have his papers ready – just the tag number 608!  I went immediately to the front desk and placed a hold on him.  Their rules stated he had 3 days before he could be adopted in case his owners came back for him.  I couldn’t even meet with him – we had to communicate through the bars of his pin but what personality!  Every day I called the shelter to confirm that he was still there – he was. Finally I was able to go to the shelter and meet my boy.  I arrived at 8:30, as soon as they opened, and was escorted to the puppy play area.  I was sitting on a bench waiting for him.  The gate opened, the staff member came walking him on a leash.  She shut the door, bent down and released the leash from his collar.  He immediately took off running.  He ran towards me and jumped on my lap!  He licked my face and jumped down, ran around and came back and did it all over again!  I was in love.  I’d like to think he was too.  An hour later, with the new name of Zeus Meeks, he became my baby.  Zeus loves to cuddle.  He sleeps under the covers close to my legs.  If I move, he moves.  The only one he loves more than me is my husband.  You can hold him for hours – he loves his belly rubbed.  Yes, he has filled the gap in my in-between stage.

This morning I was laying in bed.  Zeus was laying on my right side – he had turned over so I could scratch his belly.  My husband was on my left- I was rubbing his shoulders/back with my left hand.  At that moment, it hit me how blessed I am.  I was sandwiched between two “boys” who loved me.  They sought comfort and love from me.  I stopped and gave thanks.  I was, and am, so thankful for these blessings in my hands.

As I continue to reflect on what was in my hand, I realized that although they were what was in my hand at that moment, there are many, many more things entrusted to my hands, in which I need to be thankful.

I have a beautiful family – 5 kids and 2 soon to be children-in-laws.  An awesome house on 3 acres of scenic land – our sanctuary. My health. Many friends.  A great church family.  You.  See?  So many, many things! Then I had to ask myself, am I truly thanking God for the many things entrusted to my hands?  I realized that I need to express my thankfulness again.  Want to join me?

“Oh,  How blessed I am!  I look around at everything that you have entrusted me with and I am thankful – truly thankful.  Train me and equip me to be better at caring for each of the things that you have given me.  I recongize that when you gave me these things, you found me to be faithful with them.  Please continue to do so.  If I become unthankful or unfaithful with these things, please gently remind me again to be thankful for the things that fill my hands.  Amen.

We reached the Top but that’s not the end of the story!

26 Mar

We reached the top!  We gaze upon the cross.  It’s foundation is a huge boulder.  We take turns sitting at the base of it. There is a since of accomplishment.  Of all being right with us – the cross – the world.  We looked back at the path, the journey, that we had taken to get us to the cross and realized IT WAS SO WORTH IT!

How about you?  Have you journeyed to the cross?  Do you also realize how worth it your decision was?  Are you sitting at the foot of the cross this moment?  If not, where are you sitting?Where are you resting?

Do you notice how weather ridden the cross is?  It has survived many a storm.  In my life, in your life.  Even storms that have yet to come – the cross will endure.  We too can endure, if we continue to sit in the shelter of the cross.  Lean over, dear one, cling to it with all that you are. The cross will endure – so can you.

You would think that this would be the end of the story – the moral of the story was shared.  As cool as the truths were coming up, I found more profound truths going back down.

Evidentially we all feel like we have to leave the cross.  In our case, it was because our next class was scheduled to begin.  As we began our climb back down, I realized that it was harder to walk down the hill than it was to climb uphill.  I had to walk more cautiously.  My foot slipped much more often.  My head and shoulders were leaning backwards to keep me from tumbling forward and becoming hurt.  Gravity was working against us – pulling us away – downward.  Our bodies were resistant to go.

Then bam!  More truths unravel before my eyes!

My body did not want to leave the cross!  Although gravity pulled me downward, my tendency was to lean back – TOWARDS THE CROSS!  You see once we encounter the cross, we don’t ever want to be separated from it!  Time, after time, my foot slipped while walking away from the cross – numerous times I was close to falling.  My friend, when we walk away from the cross – that is the first slip, multiple ones follow until we fall.

We need to stay at the cross.  Rest there.  Find shelter there.  Nothing good will come of it when we chose to leave the way of the cross.

How do we return?  When those storms come, picture where you are sitting.  What are you doing?  Are you sitting at the cross – confident that the storm will pass, or are you being billowed around by the wind, rain and elements?  STOP!!  Take inventory of where you are – where you want to be – then CHOSE the way of the cross.  I promise, it is that easy.  We are the ones that make it harder than that.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Do you want easy and light?  I know I do!  I’m grabbing my fuzzy slippers…on your mark… get ready… REST!!!

Red Light…Green Light…

11 Mar

Have you ever thought the prayers you have prayed have gone unanswered?  Some people do.  Several years ago Garth Brook wrote a song titled “Unanswered Prayer”.  The chorus reads, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs, that just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care..”

I would like to challenge that thought process today. When you are driving your car and come to an intersection, what determines how you proceed?  A stoplight!  The stoplight determines if it is safe to go – GREEN.  If you need to proceed with caution – YELLOW. Lastly, the stoplight tells you when you may not go any further – RED!

My friend, God answers your prayer in the same way.  When you pray – you are receiving an answer.  God has either given you a red light, a yellow light or a green light.  Many times when we receive a red or yellow light we assume He is not answering us.  We wanted the green light and when we didn’t see it – we assume that prayer went unanswered.  Our prayer didn’t go unanswered, we were just color blind!  Let look at some stoplight answers in Scripture:

Elijah was afraid & ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it & prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life…” (1 Kings 19:3-12)  Elijah stated that he had enough!  He wanted God to take his life.  His prayer was to die.  It was not in God’s timing for this prayer to be answered the way Elijah wanted.  Therefore, God answered this prayer with a RED stoplight.

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head… I am a woman who is deeply troubled… I was pouring out my soul to the LORD… I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”…. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” (1 Sam 3:11)  This was a yellow light prayer!  Hannah prayed – she did not get a green light the first time she prayed, nor the 2nd or 3rd.  In the Course of time, as she continued to pray, her yellow light turned green!

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. ( Luke 17:11-19)  These men asked God to heal them.  His response?  A green light!  The timing and the heart of Christ was moved to grant the result they asked for.

Did you notice what the 10th man did?  He returned praising God loudly, he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.  Friends, regardless of what color light we receive, we too should follow the example of the one healed:

1.  Praise God loudly

2.  Throw yourself – your needs, prayers, and request at his feet

3.  Thank Him – for He WILL answer your prayer the moment you pray it!





Creative Ways to Enhance Your Prayer Life

8 Mar

Prayer is to be a constant part of our daily lives. This is the reason we speak of our “prayer life.” Think about the times that most us do pray – at church, during our quiet times, before meals, before bed, in times of crisis.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually (NIV), without ceasing (KJV and NAS), and at all times (Message).

We can compare Bible study to eating – which brings about nourishment and growth to our spirit.  We can also think about prayer as “breathing.”  Just as breathing is essential to our physical lives so our prayer life is essential to our spiritual lives.

Breathing consists of both inhaling and exhaling. Likewise, prayer is to be not only a process of talking to God, but also listening or receiving from God.

I have recently discovered two Creative Ways to Enhance Your Prayer Life:

The 5 Finger Prayer

1. Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you—your parents, brothers, sisters, etc.. They are the easiest to remember.

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. It reminds you to pray for those who point you in the right direction – those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger.  It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain — the sick, the elderly in nursing homes, etc. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, “the least shall be the greatest among you.” Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Use your daily routine of life to reinforce your prayer life:

When you first wake up – Praise our Creator

When you shower or bathe – Ask for cleansing of your soul; confess, repent & receive forgiveness

When you eat – Give thanks not only for the food, but for your family, home, life, etc.

When you go to work or school – Pray for those with whom you come into contact

I hope you find theses creative options as a help to enhance your prayer life.  Ephesians 6:8 says: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.