Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Believe. Then, everything is possible...

Christine - WINNER of Masterchef.  One of my new heroes.

Like most folks, I love to be entertained and my DVR play list certainly shows that.  As of right now, I think there's probably 12 TV shows that I still haven't had the chance to watch...but I did see the finale of Masterchef.  

This year, Masterchef featured a blind contestant named Christine.  From the very first moment I saw her on my TV, I was elated.  Not because I know her but because her story spoke volumes to me. Here was a woman who suffered from an illness that gradually took away her eyesight at the age of 10 yet she persevered.  Abundantly.

This makes her one of my new heroes.  The fact that she is living her dream, and her passion AND not letting the fact that she can't see stop her is amazing to me.  

Now, I don't know about you but I think I would question God.  I think I would shrivel up - not doing the things I love because of my disability.  Of course I don't know what I would actually do but I can imagine... 

I had the great privilege of watching the finale with my daughter and it gave me a great opportunity to talk to her, explaining and showing her that with perseverance and determination, you can do anything you can dream!

So often trials and sickness are thrown upon us. This world we live in is a fallen world where bad things happen to really good people.  And when those things come our way, we can either choose to wallow in the misery it brings OR we can get up from the ashes, turning into a beautiful phoenix...

This story reminds me of Acts 9 (Saul's Conversion).  It just so happens that he was on a mission - his own mission to jail and kill believers of Christ.  On the road to Damascus, he was assaulted by a blinding light and was blinded for 3 days.  But, when the Lord said for him to get up, he got up!  He got up and started walking...

That's what we HAVE to do.  Sometimes our only action is to simply get up.  Get up off the couch.  Get off Facebook.  Get out of the bed.  You get the point.

Friend, please don't feel bound in your circumstances.  You are a mighty force to be reckoned with.  The only problem is YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT.  

If you have a dream - go for it.  Don't wait another day.  Do what you can, talk to people, make lists, etc. - do something!  

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Trials = Joy??

Encountering trials aren't exactly fun.  In fact, I don't think they're any fun at all.  I don't know about you but I can't remember any time in my life that I have prayed for a trial to go through.  No thank you very much..  

Yet in James 1:2 God says for us to 'consider it a joy' when we encounter trials.  A joy!  Now, I don't know about you but it is really hard for to me to consider a trial a joy.  But if we want to be more like Christ, that's exactly what we must do.  Friend, we have to be shaken from our comfortable positions on the couch if we want to be fit and healthy in the Lord.  Sometimes we have to work out by reading the Word or praying, other times, we need an all out body makeover in the form of a trial.  

Let me be sure I make myself clear - trials are NOT a punishment from God.  No way, no how.  They can be, however, a consequence of a action that was made that was not clearly thought out - but they are not from God sitting up there punishing you for <insert sin here>.  However, God will allow some things to come our way.   Most times when a trial finds its way to us, it's simply the enemy trying to gain a foothold into your life - he tries to diminish your faith and cause doubt to rise in your heart.  Instead of giving the enemy any sort of pleasure from our pain, we need to remember what God's Word says about these trials & tribulations that will occur.

If necessary, write these scriptures down on sticky notes and place them in areas where they will be seen daily.  Memorize them and hide them in your heart.  Trials will be much easier to go through when you use the weapons God has given you. (2Cor. 10:4 & Eph. 6:17)

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. - James 1:12  

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13 

 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. - Romans 12:12

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. - James 1:2-4

 Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. - 1 Peter 4:12-13

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. - Romans 8:28

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” - John 16:33

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.  We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.  None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. - Romans 8:35-39

Be blessed,

Fit Me In Somewhere, Lord

                             Photo Credit: A Splendid Adeventure 

From Spoken Worship, by Gerard Kelly

Fit Me In Somewhere

Fit me in somewhere
in this giant jigsaw, God,
somewhere in this work of art
you're working,
select a space my shape can fill
and with a puzzle maker's skill
let my contours find their fit without contortion.

Teach me which patch I am, God,
in the cosmic quilt you're quilting.
Show me where my square of selfhood is of use.
Let the colourful complexities
of the pattern that is me
find their purpose in the placement that you choose.

Show me my position, God,
in this group photograph.
Stand me where you want me to stand.
Put me next to who you will.
Make me stand, for good or ill,
precisely in the place your plan demands.

Tell me what I am, God,
in this body you are building;
a tongue to taste, 
a nerve to serve, 
an ear to hear.

Give me grace
to not be, gracefully,
the parts I am not called to be
and to play with elegance
the roles I'm given.

Fit me in somewhere
in this giant jigsaw, God,
somewhere in this work of art you're working.
Weave your wondrous tapestry
until the twisted, tangled threads of me,
surrendered to your artistry,
form an image that is beautiful to see.

Spoken Worship: Living Words for Personal and Public Prayer (Paperback Edition)
Spoken Worship - Kindle Edition

Journey through Acts 9 - A {transformed} Heart

This is day 2 of our Transformation series.  For day one, please click here

When we left off yesterday, Saul was on the road to Damascus on a mission to find and imprison believers of the recently crucified Jesus.  Saul was walking with his companions and was suddenly accosted by a blinding, white light from Heaven.  We talked about how sometimes we feel like we have it all together - like Saul thought.  Then out of the blue, some blinding trial comes our way and hinders our sight - something that has the ability to transform us from what we think we are into what God designed us to be.

I imagine myself as Saul - how that must have felt like.  About a year of so ago, my daughter and I went with her homeschool group to Desoto Caverns.  It's amazing, really.  It's a series of geologic caves and a tourist attraction located in Childersburg, Alabama.  The main room of the cavern is twelve stories high, and larger than a football field.  In 2 words, it's massive!

It's filled with chairs and once all the children come in and take a seat, the presentation begins.  The tour guide draws everyone's attention to the little lights that dot the surface of the cave.  While it's not terribly bright in there, your eyes can adjust enough to the darkness that you can see what's around you.  However, when they turn the lights off, that's it.  Nothing.  You can't see your hand in front of your face.  After a minute or two, they turn the lights back on and you can see again.  Barely.

After an hour in the caves, upon your ascent out of the cave the light from the outside gets brighter and brighter.  So bright in fact, that you have to shield your eyes and maybe even squint.  Of course this example isn't quite as extreme as what Saul went through, but it does give you an idea of how he must have felt.

The Bible says that it came in an instant, or suddenly.  BAM!  Has this ever happened to you?  You're sailing along, happy go lucky, husband has a great job, life is good and SPLAT!  The rug comes flying out from under you.  Your husband gets fired/laid off/hurt on the job, bills pile up, kids start acting out - you feel as if you can't see the way out.  You've been blinded by life...  
(I may be interjecting my own life here but this is all about being real. lol )

When these times come, it can prevent growth - even for a long time Christian.  Especially for a long time Christian.  We get weary - it's the same old routine.  We can learn from Saul though...

The first thing Saul did after he asked, 'Who are you?' was to pick himself up up off the ground.  This is revelation to me.  He did not wallow in the mud, he did not lay there and pitch a fit about not being able to see, He didn't question God further (which is in direct opposition to what Ananias does a few verses below).  Saul simply got up and did what God told him to do.  He started walking.

He performed an 'action'.  It's easy for us to lay in a pile of questioning sorrow when the unthinkable happens.  As women and mothers, we do so much for people even to the point of laying aside our own needs and desires that it seems very unfair when circumstances take us to places we wish we didn't have to go through.  Even still, we have to walk. 

We still have to walk in faith.  We still have to walk in courage.  We still have to walk in the truth that God is who He says He is and that His Will includes us being shown His unmerited favor and peace.

Only then can we see the manifestations of His blessings.  Only then can we rise above the trappings of this world, releasing our fears and bitterness from our hearts and thoughts.  It's in that place of pure trust that our hearts become one with God.  It will not be us having to do anything - it will Him through us.  

Beloved, I know that these days aren't easy.  I know that sometimes it's hard to get up and walk anywhere.  I also know that some days, the greatest act of faith is getting out of bed.  It's okay.  God honors all of it.  

Don't wallow.  Trust in who God is.

This is what God says, ... “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it?  There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands."  Isaiah 43:18-19 (MSG)
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) 

“The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” Job 17:9 (NLT)


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Praise brings results. ;)

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind for me.  First, my computer exploded.  Like, literally exploded. The fan started making the horrific sound and BAM!  An explosion. (well, in all honesty it was a really loud boom - not like a BOOM but a boom.)  After that - nothing.

As someone who is a writer, it is imperative I have a computer (because we know pen and paper is sooo redundant.  just kidding!!).  So, I really didn't know what to think - I wanted to scream, to throw it in the yard but I didn't.  Instead, I laughed.  Really all the enemy wants from us is to throw us in the deep end - where we're struggling for air, grasping at the water in front of us wishing and willing ourselves to grab hold of something, - anything.  All he wants to do is shake us up because when we're shaken, we can't see straight.  We might start forgetting all the benefits the Lord grants us (Ps 103:2-5), and THAT is what he aims to do.

No, I didn't pitch a total fit.  I sat there on my bed with a booming computer and laughed - partly out of frustration but mostly because I knew it was the enemy trying to get a rise out of me.  I held my ground and laughed in his face.  I called him a loser and a punk.  I told him that this hindrance he was trying to cause was not in any way diminishing my faith in my Father.  I started praising the Lord, thanking Him for the brand new, even better, prettier version of my newly deceased laptop that I just knew He was planning to give me. :)

That happened on August 29th.  Today, September 6, I go to my door and what do I see??  I see the Fed-ex guy standing there with a box from Dell in his hands!!!  I.almost.died.

God is so good to me.  He gave me a brand new, PINK, Dell Inspiron 15R.  It's totally swanky and completely fast!  In fact, this very blog post is the first thing I'm using it for.  It manifested itself because of praise, the least I can do is have its first action be a praise report!  <woot, woot>

If you're praying for something, or praising God for something you're already believing, just hold on.  God is still in the GIVING business!  Don't lose hold of your faith - just keep believing and never stop praising.

Stay blessed!

*edited to add:  I am so thankful for the people that God decides to use in all our daily lives.  The fact that God thinks enough about us to use regular ol' people to bless us is miraculous in itself!  I am grateful for the person God used to bless me with my snazzy new computer that I had to pay nothing for.  :)  I pray that I can 'pay it forward' so to speak.  I pray that I am able to hear the need in others and that I am a blessing to them.  That's my prayer for all of us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

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Monday, September 3, 2012

You are NOT Crushed!

Be encouraged as you are pressured from every side, I am using all things to draw you closer to Me. My Word will be accomplished, every prophetic Word will come to pass, as this age is drawing to a close. Be not weary in trusting in Me, I will uphold you and preserve you. Your forefathers and the saints of old, longed to see your day. This is the day that my glory will shine brightly, even more as darkness increases. This is the day of My greatness, when My anointing shall rest on all that will yield, the old and the young. Wait, write and be attentive. All things that I have spoken in My Word are accelerating to an end. Stay in a state of readiness. Awaken yourself to My Presence. Do not become overwhelmed by the pressures, you must overpower them by submerging yourself into communion with Me, says the Lord.  ~ Debra Lowe