Thursday, September 29, 2011

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • We watched a family say goodbye to their loved one. Tremendously sad – he had a short, but fierce, battle with a rare cancer. There was barely enough time to process the diagnosis and he was gone.
  • A mysterious medical issue suddenly took the life of a young teacher at the kids’ school. The shock of it rippled through the building, causing confusion and profound sadness for the staff, students and family.
  • A family member, who had many years ago beaten that nasty c-word, cancer, was informed that it was back. Aggressive and growing, the doctors are scrambling to treat it before it gets any worse.

Oh, the sorrow. Life is very hard sometimes. Sometimes, answers are hard to come by. When my kids ask me why and I don’t know myself, all I can say is, “we don’t know why, but God is in control of it all and He knows. We have to trust Him because His way is better than our way, even when it seems hard to understand.” The message is not just for the kids. It’s a bit of self-preaching.

Because when those troubles come, and they most certainly will, our response will either confirm or deny what is truly the belief of our hearts. The enemy will try and use difficult times in an attempt to chip away at our faith, tossing thoughts of disbelief and questioning our way, waiting to see if anything sticks.

My daughter has a favorite verse posted on her bedroom door. Psalm 56:3 states, “when I am afraid, I will trust in you.” There you have it. No questions asked. Not a wavering thought around. And, she states it often when faced with troubling circumstances. As I sat in the funeral for our friend after his valiant fight with cancer, I felt the tears welling up as I thought about his children, left without him for the rest of their lives. As I closed my eyes to pray, the words of my daughter’s favorite verse came to mind. I whispered them over and over and calmness came over me.

Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we would have trouble. But he offers peace amid the trouble because nothing in this world can shake the eternal destination of a believer. This world is temporary, as we are reminded every day when some new trouble comes along. But, as Jesus said, He has overcome. There is nothing that we can face that will change that truth.




Friday, September 23, 2011

Guest post!

Hi friends!
Today, I have the honor of guest-blogging on Let's Get Real, the site of my friend, Carey Scott. She is a great inspiration and I hope you'll hop over to her site and check it out. You will be blessed!
While you're there, check out my post - I hope you will read it and realize just how much Jesus LOVES you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought...

...Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8

We trust Him, or we don’t. The words cut me to the core. Simple words, but so much truth in them. They require action. They demand it. There is no room to waiver here.

Life has been challenging for a while now. At first, my normally positive personality skipped into “this is meant to be” mode. Honestly, it is. But, just because things are meant to be, it doesn’t mean they will be easy, short-lived or comfortable.

As the months have rolled by, life has dramatically changed. It’s much quieter. There isn’t as much chaos walking out the door in the mornings because Mom isn’t trying to get to work. We aren’t spending nearly as much money, and those “extras” we used to think nothing about are becoming increasingly sparse.

God is working on us. He is working on me. That’s for sure. He is speaking through the words of Scripture, friends and circumstances.

When my friend wrote those six words in response to a cry out from me as yet another blow came our way, she was telling me like it is. Truthful words that I needed to hear. Words I needed to process for the last couple days. A reminder that I needed to seek first His will above my own.

The words from the prophet Jeremiah are testing my resolve. Life is testing me to see how strong my faith really is. God is standing there with me, watching and waiting for my response.

My hope and confidence ARE in the Lord. And though the season of drought is upon me, I will not falter as I continue to dig my roots deeper and more firmly into His riverbank.

I may not have a job. Our family may lose some of the comforts we have gotten used to. We may see life change even more dramatically than it has thus far. But one thing is sure. We will not lose faith in our God. Because in all the trials we have faced, He has been there with us, guiding us and giving comfort.

I pray for the strength to keep walking in faith. Because I know when I do, He will give it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”’ Matthew 17:20

Jesus’ words are so clear they almost sting as I read them. Sting because I’ve been trying to move mountains by myself. I’ve been focusing on the mountains themselves rather than the maker of those mountains.

While well-intentioned, I am not God. And even though I am motivated out of love, the work is not for me to do. This is a hard lesson to learn. Apparently, it is one I need to learn over and over.

Can you relate?

My well-meaning heart wants to:

• Fix the problems I see.
• Push ahead and find answers to what I see are my challenges.
• Step out ahead of God and His plan for my life.
• Rescue those who are making bad choices.
• Confront and try to save the lost because they are my loved ones.

Yet, when I read the words of our Savior, I am gently reminded that only He can move mountains. My role in the equation is simple, but difficult. I am to have faith.

• Faith requires no outward action on my part, it is an internal choice.
• Faith means that I choose to believe and trust that He is more than capable.
• Faith tells me to release that person, circumstance, issue, challenge or choice to Him.
• Faith asks me to pray.
• Faith says be still.

Friends, it is not easy to choose faith. But, Jesus tells us that when we do, He can and will move mountains. And when He does, what will that do for our faith?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;

he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the LORD has done,

the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease

to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the shields[d] with fire.

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

As we reflect on the events of 9/11, let us never forget that God is above all the chaos, confusion and pain of this world. Yes, evil exists and bad things happen in our world. But, God has overcome and is with us in the middle of everything. He is our refuge and strength when we don’t know where to turn. He waits for us to invite Him into our circumstances.

In our church service today, we spent time reflecting and remembering. But we also spent time recognizing that out of sadness and trouble, God prevails and God brings new life. He can restore from the ashes of ruin. He can fill the hole in our hearts that nothing else we try to fill it with will.

Life will go on. What will you do to continue to honor their memories? What will you let God do in your heart?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” Psalm 31:14

Battles are tough. Sometimes, the hardest part of a battle is understanding who your enemy truly is. Often, I forget where the real battle is happening. You know what I mean? Those times when:
  • I’m angry at my spouse
  • My kids are bickering with one another and me
  • I hear the whispers – you’re not qualified, you’ll never have a strong ministry, you’ll never convince that person to believe in Jesus

Oh yes, those are real battles. But, I have to step back and remember who the real enemy is. It isn’t my kids or my spouse. It’s not silence or rejection in ministry. It’s not an unreceptive heart.

It’s Satan. The enemy of all. Especially the enemy of those in Christ. His greatest accomplishment would be to render us useless. He can’t take away our salvation, but he can sure try to muck up our time here on Earth.

Every time he traps me in a pit or causes me to respond harshly, he wins. When I wallow in pity, fear or a lack of confidence, he wins again. Those are battles I must fully be aware of and learn to fight back.


With the truth of God’s Word. The only true and proven way to defeat the enemy is through the power of Christ. His death and resurrection defeated Satan once and for all and we must claim and cling to that power every single day.

In a raging battle, we need to open God’s Word and seek out truth statements to speak out loud. When we do that, the enemy slinks back, defeated and demoted.

I am in a battle now that seems to be coming from all sides. The attacks are subtle, but effective, because the enemy knows more about me than I do myself. He knows my weaknesses and plays on them to try and trip me up.

I have written this passage from the Psalms on a piece of paper that I am keeping nearby all the time. By speaking it out loud, I unleash the power of Christ in me to fend off the attacks of the day. The Message version of the passage has a great interpretation.

Desperate, I throw myself on you:
you are my God!
Hour by hour I place my days in your hand,
safe from the hands out to get me.
Warm me, your servant, with a smile;
save me because you love me.
Don't embarrass me by not showing up;
I've given you plenty of notice.
Embarrass the wicked, stand them up,
leave them stupidly shaking their heads
as they drift down to hell.
Gag those loudmouthed liars
who heckle me, your follower,
with jeers and catcalls.
Psalm 31:14-18, The Message

Yes, Lord, gag that loudmouthed liar. I love how he says, “hour by hour I place my days in your hand.” We desperately need Christ every hour, every minute. The battles are too big to face alone.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Revisiting a past post - Believe

Friends, I wanted to share with you this post. I wrote it a few months ago, but took it down because I wasn’t sure about it. This week, I found myself stumbling a little bit, thinking of ways to “settle” in my hunt for employment. Sure enough, God spoke in a way I knew had to be him. Just after having a conversation in which I started thinking about settling just so I could find something, the bracelet I talked about in this blog simply fell off my wrist. As I picked it up off the floor, I realized God was saying no, do not settle. I have this. Your job is to believe. Read on.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Oh what truth in those words! For the past couple of weeks, this verse has melted into every fiber of my being and, praise God, has taken hold in a way that is difficult to express.

If you happened to read my last post, I wrote about my daughter and how her life has run parallel with my faith journey. Eight years ago, I returned to work from maternity leave to find my position eliminated. At the time, it nearly devastated me. Looking back on it, I could see God’s hand in it all along, I just didn’t have the faith or trust in Him to know that it was all part of His plan for my life.

In perfect timing, right after writing that post and thinking about that time in my life for the first time in a long while, my latest position was eliminated, and again, I find myself in a time of what could be called turmoil.

But, this time was different. Unlike eight years ago, I KNOW He has a plan for my life and that it is not only good, it is His perfect plan. Come with me on a little journey.

The last business trip I took was to Phoenix for a meeting. On the flight, a lady sat in the middle seat, saw my Bible study materials and asked me how I liked it. I’m not typically a talker on a flight and, at first, I tried to be just cordial enough to get to where I could dig into my study as I was behind. But, she was so sweet and something nudged me to keep talking, so we did. We chatted about my kids, her grandkids, our mothers, the Bible study and her recommendations about what study I should pursue next. When we landed, she asked for my card, saying she wanted to send me something. After arriving in Arizona, I learned my meeting was canceled. I began to wonder if meeting her was the true purpose for the trip.

One morning, I checked my mailbox when I got to the office. A box was in it. It was from my flight friend! Inside was a note saying what a blessing our conversation on the plane was and that if I was going to do the Bible study we talked about, I was going to need “this.” “This” was a beautiful handmade bracelet with a bead that read “believe.” I was stunned, in tears and overflowing with love. Later, at lunch, I was praying and said, “whatever the next step is, God, I’m in. No matter what it is, where you want me to go, I’m yours.”

An hour later, I got the phone call about my job being eliminated. As I hung up the phone, I prayed again. Asking for peace and wisdom, I felt completely calm. I KNEW this was God’s way of taking me off a path that wasn’t right for me anymore.

In the time since, I’ve had affirmation after affirmation that I am right in the middle of the road that He wants me to be on. That the plans he has for me are good and that His peace is the peace I can wrap my mind around.

My study Bible says of this passage that although we will have strife and trouble in this life, we can be a steady and stable force when we remain in Him (paraphrased). My thoughts and trust are with the One who knows everything, created everything and has nothing but my best interest at heart. So, though I walk through a period of uncertainty, I know that it is nothing that I am facing alone. He is holding me by the hand, guiding every step and working in the middle of my circumstances for His glory.

What about you? Are you in perfect peace in the midst of your circumstances?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Just looking down at the water was enough to scare me off. As I stood on the teeny diving board suspended far too high above the water, I knew I couldn’t do it. Trying as hard as I could not to throw up, I gingerly made my way back to the steps and climbed down.

Have you ever been so scared you were frozen? That’s how I was that day. I was probably 12 or so and we had gone to a pool with a “high dive.” The idea of plunging into the water from that height sent shivers down my spine.

Thinking about that time in my life, I wonder how many other things I’ve avoided because I was too frozen or scared to plunge in?

When it comes to faith, don’t we all sometimes climb back down the steps of the ladder because the fear of the unknown of jumping in with all our might is too scary?

But that’s just what Jesus challenges us to do.

He doesn’t want my toe-in-the-water faith. He wants me all in – over my head and completely depending on Him, following where He leads.

I have to admit, I have a tendency to start strong and trail off, distracted by other things. Or, worse, I tend to back off when it gets hard.

When I study this passage in Luke, and the entire section (Luke 9:51-62), I get really uncomfortable. Because I, like the people in the passage, say I really want to follow Christ, but I can let other things take my focus off him. So, I’m praying.

Father, I pray that following you becomes the sole desire of my heart. I pray you will fill me with your Holy Spirit and the discernment to know where you are leading every day. I choose to follow you today, tomorrow and every day you give. Give me the strength to keep my eyes on you and trust that no matter where You lead, I will follow. Even if that means jumping off the high dive.