Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You're Worth It!

This morning for breakfast, I had the most amazing dining experience. I was seated at a quaint little outdoor patio table, surrounded by beautiful flowers and the soft fragrance of jasmine. The air was cool and fresh, and soft music could be heard in the distance. My meal was prepared to taste, and was absolutely delectable from the first bite until the last! Truly, it was an extraordinary way to start an ordinary day. But then again, I'm worth it!

OK, before this starts sounding like a Loreal commercial, let me explain. I had breakfast at home, out on our patio. Our rose bushes are in full bloom, right along with our jasmine, which is slowly climbing it's way up the trellis which shades one end of our patio. Birds perched in nearby trees were sweetly chirping their "Good mornings". As the chef for the day, I had prepared my breakfast just the way I like it... a fluffy spinach ,black olive, green chile omelet, slightly buttered toast, and Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Tea with a smidgen of honey....all delicious, if I do say so myself! A dining experience fit for a princess....even it that princess just happened to be me.


The idea to enjoy a breakfast extraordinaire came to me earlier this morning while I was in the shower. Today had started out like most days. My alarm, not aware that I was happily asleep, had rudely awakened me at 5:30 a.m. I then somehow managed to get up and walk to the kitchen where my programmable coffee maker already had a nice pot of hot tea waiting for me. I poured myself a cup, stirred in a little honey and headed for the shower. As the water tried to do it's part to enliven my senses and wake me up, an image slowly started appearing in my mind. I found myself thinking how nice it would be to be somewhere else starting this day in a totally new and different way. I pictured myself vacationing in Paris, or perhaps Venice, enjoying breakfast at a quaint little outdoor cafe. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Why wait for someday, I thought. Why not today?! Granted, I couldn't make it to Paris in time for breakfast, but I could make the time to treat myself to an out of the ordinary breakfast.

Usually, breakfast and I are simply two ships that pass in the night...well, ok, day. We never have time to actually connect and enjoy each other's company. And why? Because I'm too busy, of course!

Busy living life.

But wait! Is that what life is all about? Being too busy to actually enjoy my life?

BINGO! This is the thought that hit me while I was in the shower. Not only did the water wake me up, but my gracious Heavenly Father awakened in me the desire to not just live life, but to enjoy it.....ALL OF IT. Even breakfast!

So...I treated myself to breakfast...and felt absolutely spoiled by it.

Imagine that! The simplest thing, fueling my body for the day, became something that brought great pleasure to me and totally changed the "feel" of my entire day.

I have a feeling this is what God had in mind when we created us.

He didn't create a beautiful world just so we would have an address...a place to be. No. He created this world so we would be surrounded by an environment that would enliven our senses, tickle our nose, delight our eyes and revive our spirit.

We werern't created to simply "get through" life. We weren't formed by his hands to simply exist in a world that we never enjoy. We werern't placed on this earth to just "be busy". We weren't given life just to "get through" life. We were knit together in our mother's womb so we might enjoy life.

When was the last time you gazed at the sky? When was the last time you felt the sunshine or heard the song of a sparrow? When was the last time you ate breakfast in the morning & actually tasted it?

Today, take some time to enjoy your life~

You're worth it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

God's Love Letter to Me~

We may seek God by our intellect, but we only can find him with our heart.--Cotvos

I love getting an email or a letter from a friend. As my eyes read the words, my heart begins to hear the voice of the person behind the letter. I hear their laughter or their sorrow. I hear their sarcasm or their humor. I hear their delight or their disgust. I hear their excitement or their worry. Their letter is more than just words on a piece of paper. It is them....speaking to me...through these words. I know the sound of their voice, and sometimes, as I read their letter to me, I can almost "hear" their voice.

The time I spend reading their letter is not grievous. It is not boring. It is not something I do just because I feel like I have to. Quite the opposite. I am excited each and every time I receive a letter from someone dear to my heart, and usually, this letter will interrupt whatever I am doing. I stop, right then and there, and read the words of my friend, or the words of my sister, or the words of my God.

Yes, the words of God. Once you have fallen in love with Jesus, His Bible becomes as dear to you as the written word of someone you love. When I was a child, I was told the Bible is God's love letter to us. I have to say I never really "got that" until the Holy Spirit showed up in my life.

Thanks to my mother, from my very existence, I have known about God. My mother faithfully took us to church each and every week. I heard Bible stories, memorized scriptures, and sang hymn after hymn. Thanks to my mother, I had a solid Christian foundation from the beginning of my life. This foundation held me up through my teenage years and even into adulthood. My knowledge of God kept me from harm, helped me to pursue "right" paths and influenced decisions I made. I am so thankful, that from a child, I knew the scriptures and I knew about God.

As time went by, however, I discovered knowledge was not enough. It gave me direction and a path to follow, but it didn't satisfy my soul. It kept me anchored and grounded, but it didn't meet my inner most needs. It had introduced God to my head, but not to my heart.

Then, the Holy Spirit came into my life. My longing for something more, for something real, for something passionate and personal, led me to my knees. I prayed for God to make Himself real in my life. I didn't just want religion, I wanted a relationship with Him. I wasn't satisfied to simply have God in my head, I wanted (and NEEDED!) Him in my heart.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

God wants us to know Him. He desires that we enter into a personal, intimate, passionate, relationship with Him. This is why He sent His one and only son, Jesus, into this world and into the life of you and me.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Jesus in the Way, the Truth, and the Light. It is through Jesus that we have access to the Father. It is in the face of Jesus that we come to know the face of God. It is in the face of Jesus that we find love, compassion, forgiveness, joy, peace....... It is in the face of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that our head knowledge finds it's way to our heart.

My early childhood foundation introduced me to God. It was the face of Jesus, though, that captured my heart. Now, when I read God's word, it is HIS voice I hear. No more are the words written there simply words of instruction or guidance or correction. Now, they are words of love. As I read the scriptures, I hear His heart. I hear His joy. I hear His sorrow. I hear His voice....guiding me still. I hear His love for me. I hear His delight in me. I hear His voice.

Maybe, like me, you grew up with a knowledge of God. Praise the Lord! Maybe, like me though, you now desire more. Do you have a burning desire to truly know God? Do you want a deep, passionate, personal relationship with God? Seek Him. Spend time in prayer talking to Him and listening for His voice. Read His word in a spirit of prayer.....listening for His voice to your heart. Ask God to send His precious Holy Spirit into your heart.

It is the Holy Spirit that reveals God to us. It is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes to see God in the face of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us and guides us into ALL truth....truth that goes beyond our head and into our heart. It is the Holy Spirit that re-creates us and births us anew into a living, breathing, life-changing relationship with Christ.

I no longer have religion.....I have a relationship. I no longer have a book of scriptures, I have a love letter written by God with me in mind. I have a letter from the lover of my soul. I have a letter from my dearest friend. I have a letter from one who knows me like no other, and who loves me like I have never been loved before. I have Jesus!!!

We may seek God by our intellect, but we only can find him with our heart.--Cotvos


Friday, March 18, 2011

Even At the Door

It's official. They're back.

With temps in the upper 70s and low 80s, it is safe to say Spring has arrived. My yellow crocuses are up, brightening the world with their beautiful yellow selves and the red of my tulips is peeking out, ready to do some brightening of its own.

I love Spring. But unfortunately, with the arrival of Spring, we also saw the arrival of something else....

scorpions. (I know.)

Two nights ago, my husband killed our first invader of the season. As he was doing his manly duty, I thought of this post from days gone by and thought I would re-post it.

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One of the perks of having a husband is having your very own small game hunter. At least that’s the way I like to refer to the man of my house. Anytime an eight legged creature or otherwise unwelcome guest is spotted, my husband is beckoned and viola! Bug be gone! It’s like having my very own personal exterminator. The only problem is my man isn’t always home when one of these small beasts decides to pay us a visit. Such was the case one night several weeks ago.

With my husband out of the house for a few hours, I decided to take advantage of my time alone to do some household chores, one of which was laundry. With a basketful of clothes tucked under my arm, I made my way to our garage where our washer and dryer are located. After I started the load, I headed back toward the door leading from the garage into our home. As I reached for the doorknob, I just happened to look up. There, on the ceiling looking down at me, was a scorpion. As our eyes met, I knew there was only one thing to do. I darted into the house as fast as I could, quickly closing the door behind me. Then, I calmly and casually strolled into the living room acting as though this brief encounter had never happened.

Try as I may, though, I couldn’t erase the image of the scorpion from my mind. I knew it was out there. I had seen it and all the pretending in the world wasn’t going to change that. I also knew this fella had legs. It wasn’t going to be content to simply hang out on the ceiling of our garage. Before long, it would decide to venture indoors. Like it or not, I knew I had to kill it before it had a chance to crawl under the door and make itself at home in our home.

Mustering up all the courage I could find, I headed back out to the garage. I picked up my husband’s weapon of choice, a long stick, and proceeded to do some small game hunting of my own. After numerous shrieks (from me, not the scorpion), this would be home invader soon fell lifeless to the floor. Mission accomplished.

As I made my way through the doorway and back into our home, I was reminded of the words found in Genesis 4:7, “sin lieth at the door”. Remember the story? God had asked for an animal sacrifice, but Cain, being a tiller of the ground, had instead offered the Lord a sacrifice of fruits and vegetables. When God didn’t accept Cain’s offering, Cain became angry. God knew if Cain did not squelch this anger before it had time to consume his heart, sin would soon follow. Foolishly, Cain walked away from God’s counsel. It didn’t take long for his anger to take over his thoughts and subsequently, his actions. In the very next verse, in fact, we read the sad details. Cain lured his brother, Abel, out into a field and killed him.

All too often, instead of eradicating the sin in our life once and for all, we foolishly allow it to remain at the threshold. Sometimes, we pretend it doesn’t exist. We go on about our life as though there is nothing to be concerned about. Oftentimes, however, we do acknowledge it, but in our arrogance, we proudly parade around it as though we are invincible and the sin incapable of penetrating the walls of our heart.

Like Cain, when we willfully allow sin to take root in our heart, the following verses of our own life will eventually reveal the sad details. Sin comes packaged with consequences. As the sin plays itself out in our life, we too may discover that our actions have "killed" something very dear to our own heart. Maybe it is our reputation that received the deadly blow. Perhaps it is our marriage that is now lifeless and dead. Possibly, it may even be our very will to live that is found gasping for it's next breath.

The scorpion in my garage didn’t stand a chance. Unfortunately, neither do you and I when it comes to sin. In our own power, we are completely incapable of battling this invader of our heart. How we need a savior.

Have you checked the doorway of your heart lately? Is there a sin lying in wait for an opportune time to make its way into your life? If so, don’t wait another minute. Call upon your Heavenly Father. When we confess our sins to God, He is ever faithful to come to our rescue. His weapon of choice has always been the blood he shed for you and me on the cross of Calvary. As we confess and then repent, God covers this sin with His precious blood, giving us the ultimate victory. With hands held high in praise and thanksgiving to our God, we can once and for all boldly declare, “Mission accomplished!”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tears of Joy

As I child, I never really liked playing Hide-n-Seek. Well, that's not entirely true. I thoroughly enjoyed hiding, but when it came my time to do the seeking, I would always suggest a game of Hopscotch. Don't get me wrong. I'm more than willing to hold up my end of a game. If I hide, I need to take my turn seeking. I get that. But for some odd reason, not knowing where to look, made me feel anxious and uneasy.

Sherlock Holmes, I am not, and I don't get the tiniest bit of pleasure out of a "good" mystery. If I am looking for something, or in this case, someone, I want to know exactly where to look. I want a map with a big, bright red "X" marking the spot. But, hide-n-seek doesn't work that way. It's all about the hunt; followed by the excitement you feel when you discover your friend hiding in the last place you would ever have thought to look.

Once I gave my heart to Christ and His precious Holy Spirit came to live inside me, I began to discover the fruit of the Spirit in my life. As I allowed the Spirit to take control, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control became evident at different times and places in my Christian walk. Joy, however, seemed to be hiding from me.

But how could this be? Wasn't it supposed to be in my life, too? Although separate and unique, these characteristics of Christ are one. After all, they are known as the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the spirit. So...where was my joy? Believe it or not, when I finally found it, it was in the last place I would ever have thought to look.

Following Christ, I soon discovered, is not an easy thing to do. This spiritual journey requires much from those who would choose to walk the walk, and not simply talk the talk. To be true followers of Christ, we must be willing to give Christ our all...and this requires sacrifice, and death. Yes, even death.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 (King James Version)

In order for Christ to live fully in and through me, I must die. You must die, too. As children of the Most High God, we are called upon to take up our cross daily, denying self and surrendering all to God. This process of becoming a new creature in Christ is excruciatingly painful. Death never comes without tears of sorrow.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5 (King James Version)

Tears. What an unlikely place to discover my joy, and yet, that is exactly where I keep finding it. As I surrender my will to the will of my Father, I pass through a valley of tears. Yet, on the other side of this dark place, I discover true joy.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory 1 Peter 1 6-8. (King James Version)

Unlike the game of Hide-n-Seek, God has been faithful to map out the way for us. The blood stained cross of Calvary clearly marks the spot where our joy is found.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross Hebrews 12:2 (New International Version)

Imagine the thrill of my discovery when I finally found God's precious gift of joy in my tears of surrender. Kneeling at the foot of the cross, I exchange my tears of sorrow for tears of joy. It is here,I find joy unspeakable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Testing Times of Life

Tonight, the Lord brought this post (written July 2, 2010) to mind, so I am re-posting it. To my faithful readers, I hope you don't mind a "re-run", but sometimes, a girl just needs a little reminder~

“But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold." Job 23:10

"All right, class. I need everyone to clear the top of his or her desk. Today, we are having a pop quiz." Aah....a pop quiz. Unlike other tests, this is a test that just "pops up", totally unexpected and totally unplanned. As a student, whenever I heard these instructions from my teacher, I always started to feel anxious and in some ways, tricked. I hadn't been warned of this test ahead of time and a result, I hadn't taken the time to prepare. I hadn't studied. I simply wasn't ready. But... ready or not, the test landed on my desk.

Yesterday, I was surprised with a pop quiz. It didn't come in the usual way...as a paper placed on my desk. No, this test popped into my life when I found myself confronted by an angry person.

Amazingly, I had started my day meditating on countless scriptures in God's Word that pertained to peace. When I walked out my door that morning, I was filled to the brim with peace.

Then......all that changed. As this woman attacked me with bitter words, I felt anything but peaceful. Oh, you'll be happy to know that on the outside, I remained calm, cool and collected. I responded in love and tried to de-fuse her anger in a gentle way. But.....on the inside......I was a mess! Anger, hurt, resentment, frustration. All of these emotions and about a zillion more were having their own "private" war.

When this "battle" was over, my peace was gone. For the next couple of hours, I kept replaying the scene in my mind. What just happened there?!?!? How could that have just happened?!?! Today, of all days, I was going to walk in peace. I was all "peaced up" when I left my home. But, where was my peace now? Why hadn't my peace survived this altercation? Wasn't that the whole purpose of peace in the first place?

Then, it hit me. POP QUIZ! Only this is one test I should have passed with flying colors. I knew all the verses about peace. I was prepared. I had studied for this one. Yet....when the test came. I failed. Why?

It is one thing to know something. It is something entirely different to apply this knowledge and make it who you are. Teachers often use testing as a means to determine whether or not a child has mastered a skill or discipline. A wise teacher will use not one, but multiple tests, to gauge the level of understanding in the student. It is not enough to simply memorize facts, repeat rules, or circle A, B, C, or D. A student must apply the knowledge in order to gain the wisdom. The child must take the information and then use it, apply it, make it work.

I had the information, but now I was being called upon to use this information, to apply it, to make it work.

Peace isn't simply something we can merely talk about. It is something we need to put into practice in our daily lives. If we don't.....what's the point?! Peace isn't for the times when all is hunky dory and peachy keen. NO! Peace is for the moments when all of hell is trying to break in. Peace is to be the guard fighting at the door of our heart.

Peace needs to be ready at all times. And then, when the heat is on, peace needs to step up and defend. In these moments of the battle, if we are prepared and have hidden God's Word in our heart and if we know that we know that we know peace is ours for the taking and the living in, then we simply need to call on the power of the Holy Spirit and hold our ground.

We are in spiritual warfare. This is a 24-7 fight. We cannot for one moment let our guard down. We cannot for one moment think we have arrived! We cannot take our eyes off our Jesus and place them onto the "test of life" placed in front of us and expect to walk away victorious.

I shouldn't have been caught off guard. I am not ignorant of the devil's devices.(2 Corinthians 2:11) I know to " Be self-controlled and alert. [because] Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8).

I also know my God. I know that greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) I know that with Christ, I can do ALL things. (Philippians 4:13) I know when I have a demand placed on me, my God shall supply ALL my needs. (Philippians 4:19) I know to be anxious about nothing, but to pray about everything, and in doing this, the peace of God will guard my heart and mind. (Philippians 4:6-7). I know, I know, I know. Now, it is time to live it. Time to apply it. Time to make it work in my life.

I know this is not the last pop quiz that will come my way. Somewhere, sometime, when I am least expecting it, I will be tested again. The next time, I pray I stand in the peace that I know to be mine. I pray that I use my sword of the spirit and defeat the enemy of my soul. I pray I master the art of living in the spirit and living in peace.

What about you? Has your peace been tested this week?

Remember, our God is faithful.

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:12,13

Life is all about learning how to live it. Thankfully, in Christ, we are able to sit at the feet of the Master teacher.

Yes, indeed.

“...he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold." Job 23:10


Saturday, March 12, 2011

For His Name's Sake

I don't tell you this to boast, but to make a point. When I was little, I almost never got into trouble. At least not while I was outside the walls of our home. I never got sent to the Principal's office. I never had a "run in with the law". I was a good kid who always tried to be on my best behavior. Like I said, I don't tell you this to boast, but to make a point. And, my point is this. How I behaved reflected on my parents. I knew what I did would either bring them praise or....embarrassment. I knew this because my father told me so.

"Stacy, where ever you go and whatever you do, remember this. You are wearing my name. When you were born I proudly gave you my name as your own. Wear it proudly. Never do things that will bring shame to you or to your family name." My behavior - good or bad - in a certain way, reflected on my parents.

Now, I have a new name. I have been adopted into a new family. I am now a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. I now wear HIS name. As a Christian, I, too, have a responsibility to be on "my best behavior". Not to bring praise to me, but to uphold the name of my Heavenly Father. I need to live my life for His name's sake.

Have you ever stopped to think that your behaviour is directly interwoven with God's reputation?

Reputation-

Dictionary.com defines reputation as the estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally.

Reputation is who people THINK we are. Character is who we REALLY are.

Through reading God's word and the guiding of the Holy Spirit, you and I have come to know the true character of God. He is merciful and just, forgiving and kind, faithful and true. We know who God really is. But sadly, not everyone does.

Your life may be the only Bible some people read. ~Author Unknown


Stop and think about this for a minute. (You may even need to read this a couple of times before the depth of the meaning soaks in.)

When our behaviour tarnishes God's reputation, His real character is in jeopardy of never being seen.


When we call our self a Christian, we are wearing Christ's name. As others watch us living out our lives, are they seeing Christ for WHO HE REALLY IS?

Does what we DO make is difficult for others to see WHO God is?

Are we bringing glory and honor to His name, or are we tarnishing it by our un-Christlike behavior?

What is your life telling others about your God?

What is mine?

Is our character ruining God's reputation?

Are we living our life for His name's sake?

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16, The Amplified Bible


Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Time to Spring Forward

Have you ever wished you could go back and completely redo a certain episode or time in your life? Maybe, in anger, you spoke words that to this day, still separate you from someone you love. Maybe you let a golden opportunity pass you by and now you are haunted by what might have been. Maybe you took a path in life that has led you far away from your intended destination. Maybe you simply let time tick away without seizing the moment and making the most of each hour of each day. Maybe you chose what didn’t matter, in place of what did.

As much as we would love a "do over", the sad reality is this: what is done is done and we can't go back and undo it. We can only go forward. Yet, how many times have you and I gotten bogged down in the muddy mess of regret and guilt and found our self idling instead of moving on with our life?

When I opened my bathroom window this morning, I was surprised to discover these beautiful blossoms on our peach tree.



I am always delighted and amazed in springtime. Bare trees become clothed with beautifully fragrant blossoms. Birds, seemingly silent through the cold winter months, now chirp until their hearts are content. And most amazing of all, the metamorphosis of the butterfly begins. All of nature showcases the newness that comes with the warmth of the sun and the birth of yet another season of life.

Life goes on. No matter how cold the winter, no matter how deep the snow; Spring eventually comes. The cycle of life continues and I am so glad it does. It is a beautiful reminder of the new thing God wants to do in your life and mine.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19

Living in the past only accomplishes one thing...keeping us from living in the present. Don't get me wrong. Wisdom tells us to learn from the past, but it in no way would have us take up our residence there!

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

Today, what is holding you a prisoner of the past? Don't you think it's time to let it go? Can you really afford to let it keep stealing your future? Forget those things that are behind and instead reach for what is still out in front of you. Open your heart and your life to receive the new thing God is waiting to do...in and through you!

Our Heavenly Father has an amazing way of taking our messes and turning them into miracles. He can take the ugliness of our past and transform it into something breathtakingly beautiful. Just look at what God can do in the life of a caterpillar! He wants to do that and so much more in your life and mine! Yet, the choice is ours. We can either choose to Spring Forward or to Fall back.



Like this robin, who showed up in our yard yesterday afternoon, I am ready to welcome Spring into my life. I, too, am ready to show up for the next season of my life. How about you?

Monday, March 7, 2011

A God-Given Invitation

Last week, while visiting HERE, I read a quote that is stirring my spirit still.

“If the size of the vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, chances are it’s insulting to God.” ~Steven Furtick

Have you ever read something and knew God had placed it in front of you for a distinct purpose? This was one of those moments. You see, my vision for my life involves writing.

I love to meet the Lord at my computer. As I place my hands on the keyboard, He is faithful to place his message in my heart. As I move my fingers to the beat of His heart, words begin to appear, sentences begin to form. In moments of sweet communion, we weave together His story of love and forgiveness, hope and encouragement, redemption and restoration.

There is no doubt about it. I love to write. But, for some odd reason, thinking of myself as a writer is very....what is the word? Yes! Intimidating! In fact, when I think of myself as a "real" writer, intimidating almost isn't a big enough word to describe all the emotions I feel.

Intimidating. Usually, when we think of this word, we associate it with something that instills fear. I think it is interesting to note, however, that this word means so much more than just us shaking in our boots.

Dictionary.com defines it this way:

to discourage, restrain, or silence illegally or unscrupulously

I don't know about illegally or unscrupulously, but I know all too well about intimidation being discouraging, restraining and worst of all, silencing. I also know, if I allow it to, intimidation can steal my dream and cloud my vision.

But that morning, as I sat in my pajamas, the light of the new day just beginning to spill into our living room, I realized in this quote, the Lord was giving me an invitation.

He was inviting me to dare to live out the desire He himself had placed in my heart. Before I was ever formed in my mother's womb, God knew me. It was God who molded me and formed me. It was also God who planted the "I want to be writer" seeds in my heart. This passion, this longing of my heart, is not incidental. It is my invitation. It is not meant to be intimidating, it is meant to be invigorating.

And it is...when I let God write through me. In fact, when God chooses to use me to speak His words of hope, encouragement and love, invigorating almost isn't a big enough word to handle all the emotions I feel.

Intimidation comes when I forget the words of the Lord found in Zechariah 4:6.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
.
Remember the rest of the quote?
"...chances are it’s insulting to God.”

The plans God has for my life (and yours, by the way) are far grander and more amazing than I could ever think or imagine. And, by myself, they are unreachable. Yet, when I partner with the creator of my heart to fulfill the desires of my heart, they not only become obtainable, but they become the very thing that will bring life to my life.

That's the way God made it. That's the way God made me. He made me to be a writer; a teacher of His Word through the written word. The intimidation is simply a reminder to never step out into my dream without my dream giver. It is also a reminder to do my part to be the best writer I can be.


So, now I ask you.

What is your vision for your life?

Is it intimidating to you?

If so, no worries.

Your intimidation just may turn out to be the invitation of a lifetime.~

Friday, March 4, 2011

Keeping It Real

Ok...let me admit it right here and now! I have a problem....a HUGE problem....with keeping it real.

Abraham Lincoln is attributed with having said: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. And yet, we try, don't we? Maybe not intentionally, but speaking for myself, I have to admit, over the course of my life thus far, there has been a lot of fooling going on. Don't get me wrong. I don't intentionally try to fool anyone...(or on second thought, do I?) I don't view myself as a dishonest person. It's just when it comes right down to it, I have to admit... I am not living an authentic life.

And who knows this better than God. For unlike people, we can't fool God.....any of the time! He sees our heart. He sees the real us.

According to Dictionary.com, the word authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be. I claim to be a Christian, but am I really what I claim to be? This is a sobering question, isn't it? And I have to admit, this is a question I am very uncomfortable asking myself.

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:3, 9-16 (NLT)


Paul is urging us to wake up and see our self for who we really are. He is forcing us to take off our spiritual blinders and look beyond what we are doing (our actions) to the reason behind it (our motives). He is provoking us to step up to the call on our life and to live like Christ.

And yet, my life, the who of who I am, is so unlike Christ. For years, literally most of my life, I have tried to live like Christ. But, try as I might, and hope as I may, I was never able to do it.

Until recently, that is.

Do you want to know my secret? Do you want to know how I was finally able to live up to living like Christ?

Well, here it is in a nutshell-

I gave up.

I quit trying.

I died to the notion of me ever being able to do it.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20


I stopped trying to be Christ and instead invited Christ to start being me.

It is by "adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in" God that I can be Christ to the world. It has nothing to do with me, and EVERYTHING to do with Christ living in me and through me.

When I can't, Christ can. When I die to self-reliance and start living in reliance on Christ, Christ shines through. When I stop being fake, and allow Christ to be real, the world will see an authentic Christian. The world will see Christ.

But, I might add...this is a day to day surrender. Each moment of each day, I have to choose to get me out of the way so Christ can reign supreme.

I have to remind myself that it is not my might, or my power, but by His spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)

I have to remember that without Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Christ I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

I have to bring to mind the glorious work Christ has begun in me and His faithfulness to complete it (Philippians 1:6).

And, when I become disconnected from my Heavenly Father, I have to run to His side and once again abide in the vine, so He can bear fruit in my life (John 15:4).

To call yourself a child of God is one thing. To be called a child of God by those who watch your life is another thing altogether.~ Max Lucado


Yes, it's time to get authentic in our Christian walk. It's time to move out of the way and to let Christ have His way. It's time to stop pretending and to start abiding. It's time to say not me, but you, Christ.

It's time to get real!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't Forget Your Praise~

The Temple of the Lord was finally finished. Now, the day of dedication had arrived. First, Solomon brought all the gifts into the Temple.

1 So Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Temple of God
.

Then, the Ark of the Covenant was brought to the temple and sacrifices of sheep, goats and cattle were offered up to the Lord. So many that no one could keep count.

2 Solomon then summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of tribes—the leaders of the ancestral families of Israel. They were to bring the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to the Temple from its location in the City of David, also known as Zion. 3 So all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the annual Festival of Shelters, which is held in early autumn.

4 When all the elders of Israel arrived, the Levites picked up the Ark. 5 The priests and Levites brought up the Ark along with the special tent and all the sacred items that had been in it. 6 There, before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count!


Next, the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Temple - in the Most Holy Place.

7 Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple—the Most Holy Place—and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 8 The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles.


And then............

13 The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words:

“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!


and THEN!!!!!!!!.......

At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. 14 The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God. 2 Chronicles 5: 1, 7, 13,14


God presence filled the Temple of God.

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Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16

Today, God no longer lives in the temple Solomon built for Him. Now, God lives in you and me. We are His dwelling place.

At the dedication of the Temple of the Lord, the people brought gifts to God. You and I are to also bring our gifts to the Lord. Gifts of tithes and offerings, our gifts of our time and our talents. Gifts of our service.

Then the people brought the Ark of the Covenant. Inside were the tablets of stone upon which God had written His law. Now, His laws have been written in our heart. (Hebrews 8:10) Like then, God still desires obedience of His children.

Then the people offered sacrifices unto the Lord...the blood of sheep, goats, and cattle. Today, you and I are saved by the blood of Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice. We are called upon to sacrifice our life for God....to take up our cross daily, denying our self, and following after our God.

Then the people praised the Lord. It was their praises that ushered in His presence.

So often in my own life I am faithful to give, to obey, to pick up my cross. Tragically, however, I don't always offer the Lord my praise. I think it is interesting to note that all of these things bring glory to God. All of these things give Him the honor He deserves. All of these things are acceptable ways in which we worship our God. Yet, God's presence filled the Temple of the Lord AFTER the people began to praise Him.

Our giving, our obeying, our sacrificing....these all come as a direct result of our faith in God.

PRAISE....IS the result of our love for God.

Our giving, our obeying, our sacrificing....these are actions of our heart.

PRAISE....IS the outpouring of our heart.

Our giving, our obeying, our sacrificing....these are outward expressions of our worship and love for God.

PRAISE...IS a declaration of our inward expression....the expression of our heart.

Then the people praised God and His presence filled the temple.

You and I are now the temple of the Most High God. God now lives in you and me.

Today, as we offer ourselves to the Lord...to be used of Him and for Him....may we not forget to also offer Him our praise.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Ride of My Life~

Today was one of those days. Maybe you have experienced days like this before, too. It was the kind of day when, once in my car, I longed to just keep on driving. Right on past my exit for work. Right on by the grocery store. Right on around the doctor's office. Right on by...well, you get the idea, especially if you, too, have ever "dared to drive". Don't get me wrong. It wasn't that I felt the need to runaway, although, I have to admit, some days I do! No. Today was a good day. A keeper, in fact. And...that's exactly why I wanted to keep-er going!

As soon as I slid into the driver's seat, it all just came together. Great worship music on the radio. Clear, blue skies, and the overwhelming presence of the Lord. Truly, it was like a moment made in heaven, only it was happening in my Nissan! My heart was overcome with an almost insatiable desire to stay locked in my car and simply enjoy this moment, enjoy this ride with the Lord....all day long. Seriously. I felt as though I wanted to drive across Texas! (If you have ever driven across the good ole lone star state, you know that is saying something!) The only thing that would have made this start to the day any better would have been a full tank of gas and a commitment-free day. Unfortunately, I didn't have either of those, so I reluctantly drove to work.

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As I slid into my desk and tuned into K-LOVE radio on my laptop, it all just came together. The quiet and peacefulness of my workspace, the beautiful praise music enveloping the room, and the overwhelming presence of the Lord. Truly, it was like a moment made in heaven, only it was happening in my tiny office! My heart was overcome with an almost insatiable desire to stay locked in my office and simply enjoy this moment, enjoy this time with the Lord....all day long. Seriously. I felt as though I wanted to spend all of eternity with the Lord. And the only thing that made this start to my workday even better was the realization that this moment of communion and worship never had to end. An empty gas tank and a list of commitments nine miles long couldn't keep me from basking in the presence of the Lord, every minute of every day. Only I could do that.

And sadly I do. Instead of choosing to commune with the Lord, I whip right past my Bible. I breeze right on by my favorite "quiet place". I zip right through my prayers. I allow the cares, worries and deadlines of this world to drive me. Instead of listening to the still small voice of my blessed Jesus, I listen to all the other voices begging for my attention. And you know what? It is on days like this, on the days that I choose not to commune with my Lord, that I find myself wanting to run away!

Yes, today was a good day. A keeper.

Lord, keep me ever focused on you. Teach me to surrender the driver seat of my life to your precious Holy Spirit. May it be you, who is the driving force in my life. Amen.