Friday, April 24, 2015

Reminders of His Love~










 
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015







 
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Because of His Mercy~








 
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

On Microphones, Gazebos, and Living the Word~

Several years ago, I sat in the middle of a gazebo, which sits in the middle of a park, which sits in the middle of our small town. With a microphone positioned in front of me, I opened up the Word of God and read Psalms 78 through Psalms 82.

I was just one of many who had volunteered to give twenty minutes of their time reading from the Bible. It was the plan of those who organized this "read through the Bible" event, that by the time the National Day of Prayer rolled around later in that same week, the entire Bible would have been read and proclaimed in our city.

As I took my place in the gazebo, I listened to the instructions of one of the organizers of this week long, around the clock, event. "Speak loudly and boldly into that microphone. We want God's Word going out into our entire town."

And, so I did.
Loudly and boldly I read from the pages of God's Word.

And yet, only two people heard the sound of my voice:
the lady who had given the instructions, and me.

You might think I had volunteered for one of the shifts in the wee morning hours. Nope. Twelve o'clock noon. Right in the middle of the day. During lunch breaks and mid-day happenings. Only nothing was happening here at the park. No one had bothered to come hear "God's Word".

As I sat reading, I couldn't help thinking about a particular verse found a few books over from where I was reading.

 Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.
Large gazebo in the Kiseleff park
{Photo  Credit}
~ 1 Peter 3:15, NCV


Reading the entire Bible aloud and proclaiming God's Word boldly "over" our town. I understood the concept behind this long thought out, well organized, event. I understood the scripture they were basing this event on:


So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

~ Isaiah 55:11


And, I believe in this cause.
That is why I signed up to read from 12:00pm to 12:20pm.


And yet, we are told in the very pages of God's Word that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)



It is a noble and grand idea to want to proclaim God's Word "over" our city. But, in order for faith to take root, and lives to be changed, people must truly hear the Word of God. No one had taken the time or felt the need to come to the park to hear the Word of God read. During my twenty minutes of proclaiming, no one heard the proclamation.

But, later in the day, when a friend shared a concern with me, I was able to pray with her. I spoke words of scripture that went gently and tenderly from my mouth straight into her ear and into her heart and infused her with faith.

When a co-worker and I were working on a project, I was able to quote a scripture of encouragement, reminding us both, that with Christ, we can do all things. Our spirits were revived and our appreciation and love of the Lord deepened.

We are not going to win our world to Christ, sitting in the middle of a gazebo, that sits in the middle of a park, that sits in the middle of our town, boldly declaring the Word of God.

This is good. This has its place.

But...
hearts are best won, one on one.

Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.
~ 1 Peter 3:15, NCV

Our Christian lives, lived out each day through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, should create a hungering and thirsting in the hearts of others. As they observe our life and the way we live, they should notice something irresistible about us. Our love for God should draw them closer to discover a love of their own.

As we share our faith,
as we tell of the GOOD NEWS,
they, who have ears to ear and a heart that yearns to understand, will find God.

Am I saying we shouldn't have been reading God's Word aloud in our park that week? No.

Am I saying it is going to take much more than this to touch lives for Christ here in our community? Yes.

We are called to proclaim God's Word to the world around us. Sometimes, this might be done by sitting in the middle of the gazebo, in the middle of the day, in the middle of your town, boldly proclaiming the Word of God. Always, this should be done by living our life in a way that upholds God's Word and draws others to us in search of the hope in our heart.

Sometimes, we need a microphone.
Sometimes, a gazebo will work.
Always, we need to be living the Word.~






 
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sometimes, You Gotta Knock~

One night, I spent some long overdue quiet-time out on our patio writing. While I enjoyed the great outdoors, my husband enjoyed kicking back, relaxing and watching a basketball game indoors. Occasionally though, my sweetheart would open the sliding glass door and share a smile or a "Hi, honey. Doing ok?" with me and then head back indoors to cheer for his team. As the sun slowly meandered beyond the horizon, I typed until my fingers and my heart were content.

As dusk melted into darkness, I decided to pack up my laptop and head indoors to cheer alongside my mister. Gathering all my belongings, I reached for the door handle only to discover it was locked. Out of habit, my husband had accidentally locked the door the last time he had poked his head out to check on me.

What to do?

* Stay out on the patio until my honey decided to once again shower me with terms of endearment.

* Check all the windows on the back side of the house and shinny my way through one that might be open.

* Attempt to scale the tall rock fence, land in the front yard and check all the windows on that side of the house - or better yet, hope the front door might be unlocked.

* Sleep out under the stars.

* Knock.

Seems like a pretty easy decision, right?
And yet, when it comes down to knocking, we seldom do.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 
~ Luke 11:9, KJV

When life presents us with a closed door and we find our self standing out on the back porch alone with our hope and dreams,
our fears and failures,
our wishes and wonders,
we usually use all of our time, energy, and resources
thinking up,
mapping out,
and executing our plans.

We try this and we try that. Then, we try this and that again.
Over and over. One idea, one notion, one strategy after another.

But, knock? Nope. We seldom think to do that.

And yet, this is exactly what Jesus invites us to do. Could it be any simpler than that?! No wonder we end up wondering why God isn't answering, as we stand on the outside looking in.

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
~  James 4:2, NLT

Standing on my patio that evening, I did what any wife would do. I ratta-tap-tapped on the door.
Upon hearing his wife knock, my husband did what any loving husband would do. He came to my rescue. He made a way where there was no way.

Are there locked doors in your life?

Have you been stranded out on the back porch?

Knock.

Upon hearing your cry, the Lover of your soul, Jesus, will come to your rescue.

Key to the open door
{Photo Credit}

He'll make a way where there is no way.
He'll even go before you and prepare the way.

But,
you gotta knock!








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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our Blessed Hope~








  
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Friday, April 3, 2015

The Message of the Cross~








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Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Way of The Cross~

Awkward and uncomfortable, a fellow believer and I stand in the hallway at church; our words guarded, our conversation stiff. Words spoken in the past have now formed a dam, causing the normal flow of communication to seek alternate routes. As we sputter and stammer and search for the right words, we are interrupted by a five year old boy on the way to his classroom.

"Look, Ms. Stacy! I have something to show you!"

With one hand, he tugs on my pant leg. With the other, he tries balancing his open Bible, while flipping pages with his chin.

"WOW. Did you get a new Bible?" I ask.

"No. It's my same old Bible, but what I want to show you is new."

As he searches for the new treasure he longs to share, we "adults" attempt picking up our awkward conversation right where we left off. It is obvious our hearts are on different sides of this issue. It is also obvious this is a chasm that will not easily be crossed.

"Oh, look! Here it is, Ms. Stacy. Here's what I want to show you! LOOK!"

He points to a picture of Jesus, bent low, under the weight of the cross.

"Oh, honey. It's a picture of Jesus carrying the cross."

"Yeah. It's sad. Don't you think?"

My eyes meet the eyes of  the man standing beside me. We both nod in agreement.

"Yes, sweetheart. It is very sad. But, that's how much Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us so much He was willing to carry that heavy cross and He was willing to die on it."

"Yeah," he shakes his head up and down. "And He died for all of us, didn't He? For me, and you and you." Now he's using his free hand to point at me and my brother-in-Christ.

"Well......want to hear the new part?" he asks excitedly.

"Yes, I'd love to hear it."

Again, eyes of two different viewpoints meet and we wonder together what this little heart has discovered.

"The new part is from when I looked at that picture. I prayed and told Jesus I would carry it for Him. It's new because this story is old, BUT, if it was a new story, this time, I would carry the cross for Him."

With that, he snaps the Bible shut, and heads down the hall to his class, skipping and smiling all the way. Standing alone once again, all we can do is smile, lower our heads and walk, each to our own destination.

Strife.

Division.

All too familiar roadblocks in the body of Christ.

One person sees it this way.
One person sees it that way.

Neither can see past their own way to see The Way.

The same old story - time and time again.


crossing the wey
{Photo Credit}
But,
what if?

What if this time,
we chose to make the story new?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to bend low?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to sacrifice,
to trade our want for the want of the other?

What if this time,
one of us was willing to walk the road of love?


What if this time, one of us was willing

     to carry the cross of the other,

          to walk in a different pair of shoes,

               to see this issue from a different point of view,

                    to give up our all that all might be gained?

I peek in the window of the classroom where this sweet little boy now sits at a table with his friends. As he points to the picture and excitedly shares his revelation, I lift my eyes to heaven and smile.

Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you for loving us, ALL of us, enough to carry the cross;
the cross you would give your very life on.
Thank you for this precious little boy who has opened my eyes to see a new way,
a death to self, life-giving way.
May, I too, be willing to carry my cross, to die to self,
that your body, the church, might live.

As I head down the same old hallway, I carry a brand new truth in my heart:

The only way to cross a chasm is by way of the cross.





 
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