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When I am shaken…

Sometimes it feels like I am in the world’s biggest shaker bottle. I am shaken and tossed about so that I cannot find my footing. Life is like that sometimes. It usually happens to us unexpectedly because if we were to anticipate it we could counter with appropriate action. So what’s a girl to do when she is shaken and tried?

As I was reading, Psalm 46 this morning, I kept rereading verse 3, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” In order to anticipate and see what to do before this happens, I have to return to verse 1-2. Because God is a refuge, strength, and help, I do not have to fear when I am shaken up. I can recognize the shaking for what it is a testing of my faith. Dr. Henry Blackaby in His book, “Experiencing God“, calls these testings of the faith, markers, that we can look back to and see what God has done in the past and how He brought us through them. I am a planner by nature. I like to know what is coming and be ready with a battle plan, yet often life shakes us up with things we can’t possibly plan to handle. So, I have a new plan for me. When the shaking occurs, run to God immediately. Find refuge in His presence. Let His divine strength radiate through me. Ask for help that is beyond my ability, but comes directly from the Father. Will I ever falter? Sure, I will. Will I have a lapse in executing this new plan? More than likely. Yet, in this, I would hope that next time life shakes me, I will bounce back a little quicker than last time. I will trust God more than last time.  I will rest in God’s presence more and as I learn and grow He will make me over into the Christian He wants me to be.

The shaking of life is going to happen. It is inevitable, but, sweet friends, we are not alone. God is there.

Blessings to you!

#psalm46challenge

Am I in the grip of God or fear?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.for: or, of Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  ~Psalm 46:1-2
As I read and pray over this Psalm this morning, I am drawn to the phrase, “Therefore will not we fear.”. I often find myself focusing on the circumstances of my life rather than on God. I let these things cause me to fear and worry. The fact of the matter is I do not have to worry or experience fear about my circumstances. Because God is my refuge, I can go to Him with everything that is bothering me. I do not have to be fearful of the “what if’s”. I can choose to rest in the hand of God. I can choose to rest in Him or let fear strangle my trust in God.
I John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.” In the presence of the love of God fear has no place. Many times life will shake us up. Our world will be turned upside down. Will we be paralyzed in the grip of fear or recognize we are in God’s hands? When I feel I am starting to worry or being fearful, this should be my indicator that it is time to focus on God, let Him calm my Spirit, and jump-start my joy in Him.
“Therefore will we not fear…”
I want to live here today!
#psalm46challenge

Joy in the Process

‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘ Romans 15:13

Of all the ministry areas the Lord has led me to work in, I find myself enjoying leading Bible Study with the ladies of our church. It actually has not always been this way. When my husband and I first began in ministry together, He was the associate pastor at a local church. He had been serving  in churches for quite some time before we were married so he had his feet already wet and prepared more than I was for the challenges in the ministry. I had served in the church, but had not yet been in a position of leadership. I remember the first time I was approached to lead a women’s bible study. Two words come to my mind, “SHEER PANIC”! I would have to get up in front of other women and lead in a study of God’s Word. I felt so unworthy and then concerned. What if they asked me stuff I didn’t know the answer to? What if they thought my teaching style was weird? I went through every scenario. I prayed a lot. I prayed God would change His mind. Then I realized that God was calling me to do it. So I took a deep breath and jumped in feet first. God did a work in me. He taught me to rely on Him.

When I think of leading a bible study now, I look forward to it. I know I am doing what God has called me to do. It took a little while to find my groove, but the Lord showed me I just needed to be myself and trust him fully. A lot of prayer and preparation goes into it, but I have found joy in all God has taught me over the years. It’s hard to believe that it has been 24 years since that first Bible study. I give God the praise for all He has done in me and through me. Last night, Our ladies finished up the Book, “Why Do I Put So Much Pressure On Myself And Others” by Kathy Collard Miller. Though the Book is a lesson on how God helped our author through overcoming and learning to cope with perfectionism, we looked at a lot of Scripture to realize who we are and whose we are! I had the privilege to go through this book several years ago. This time the Lord taught me some more about how my life goal should not be about making sure everything is perfect, but to strive to pursue Christ with my whole heart. Someone with perfectionist tendencies often never sees the joy because they are more focused on the circumstances. I am thankful that God is willing to take us where we are and lead us to where He wants us to be. If we spend all our efforts focused on things we cannot control we will not have the energy to pursue Christ. We can find so much joy in the pursuit of Christ.

God can fill you will all joy and peace as Romans 15:13 says. The key is we have to be in a position to let Him. Let go of things, and grab Jesus with both hands. Don’t let Him go. Tell Jesus you can not take one more step without Him. To Trust and Rely on God should be our focus. When this happens, Joy will be the product, and Peace of God will be experienced as you never have felt before. We can find joy in the midst of trials. The bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18) We can learn to hope in God alone. Do you want pure joy? My friend, you cannot find it outside of God. Pursue Christ and find joy in the process!

Blessings to you today!

An Attitude of Restfulness

Ok, to begin. I was tired! I was very anxious, and unsettled, yet all of these did not seem to actually convey how I really felt. It went much deeper. I was already reaching for my inner “panic button”. I was waiting and praying for an answer to a need that I had. Deep down I knew that the Lord would take care of it, and I knew He would be with me even when the deadline for the answer was on the way.  Yet, Here I was doing everything but trusting. I was out of sorts and these feelings lead to frustration on my part. Why am I doing this to myself? Though I am an anxious person by nature, can I really use this as an excuse? These feelings that I have are real. I’m at an impasse. I’m tired and I need rest not only in my physical body, but also in my heart and in my soul. So I run to my Heavenly Father, confess I cannot handle this, confess my failure to trust, and ask for the rest that is only found in Him.

At the end of what we know as the Lord’s Prayer (after the Amen) in Matthew 6, Jesus continues to speak. He speaks of forgiveness, fasting, reward, and God’s care of you! Verses 25-29 read, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” God is taking care of the most basic of your needs. In doing this, will he not also take care of any other needs you and I may have? I am learning daily that God wants me to rest when I lay down, of course, but He also wants me to rest when I am going about my days activities. God wants me to cultivate an attitude of restfulness. So you may ask, what does this look like practically speaking? Have you ever seen someone in a situation where you know everything around them was going sideways, yet they have a peaceful smile, they are moving about deliberately doing what they have to do, and they have a calm about them that is not “normal”. This is someone who is relying on God for their next breath, next step, and next moment in time. They exhibit an attitude of restfulness. My heart’s cry is to rest and trust like that!!!

Your reaction may be, “NO way can I do that?”. Sometimes I feel it too, but it is in these moments we have to look beyond our situation and ourselves, and focus on Jesus, the only true source of rest for the heart and soul. Walking with Jesus is not running ahead and getting out of breath. Walking with Jesus is when He takes a step we take one too. Step by step, moment by moment, resting in His presence is the only way to live. This is what an attitude of restfulness looks like. We can embrace this way of living, but not alone. It is a daily partnership, between the Almighty and me! My dear friend, restfulness is a prayer away. When feelings want to claim your calm, lean on the Savior and let Him support you through it all. When we seek Him first, we will find the rest we need.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:33-34

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

We are taught as girls to be fearless.

 Throughout my young life when confronted with a foe, Well meaning adults told me not to let things bother me. “Put on a happy face,” or “Don’t be so sensitive” and the like were pounded into my brain. Without meaning to, these adults were telling me to hide my real emotions. Be Fearless! was their cry. In the midst of this I began to hide the “real me” behind a rosy cheek and a sweet smile.  The mask of “Everything is  Ok” was put firmly in place and the real me began to build a wall to protect my sensitive heart. Did these people want was best for me? I think that they did. Perhaps, you were in the same situation that I found myself in. To be honest, young girls can say ugly and even hateful things to you and laugh it off as if it is your fault if you took it the wrong way. Self protection lessons were taught to us by loving people who were looking out for our good and hoping that we would learn to be strong through the situation. So in confrontation we learned to suffer in silence and bury the fear we felt. On the outside we were fearless, but on the inside we were determined to hide our emotions and tears. This way of dealing with hurt followed us into womanhood.

Imagine what it would be like to be sitting in the middle of a crowd of women. A fearless soul steps to the microphone and announces, “If you are ready for us to see the real you, would you please stand up?” How many would jump to their feet and make their way to the mike? I sense that it would probably be one of those awkward moments where everyone is waiting for everyone else to stand up, and inwardly thinking, ” No way, not me!” Fear strikes hard and courage flees.

“How can I show you the real me?” The real me is something you don’t want to see. My mistakes and failures are many.  I fall short of what God would have me to be so often. My regrets overwhelm me and I am lacking in the good things you think you know about me. I am so weak and frail, yet in all of my weakness there is someone who knows the real me best. God knows every heartache, tear, and emotion that surrounds me every day. God sees my humanness, and loves me with a great love. He reaches out and holds my face in His nail-scarred hands and whispers, “I know you! I know your faults, and how needy and frail you really are. I also know your heart and when you lean on me in utter dependence how fear of failure can be overcome. By yourself  you are lacking, but with me you have everything you need to break through the fear. My love for you is infinite and nothing you can do or say will make me love you less than I do in this moment. I freely give to you a hope, a peace, and a future.”

God through His Word tells us, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:) ~Ephesians 2:4,5    A beautiful truth is revealed when God’s love is realized and experienced. 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love for perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not make perfect in love.”   I am sure we have all felt fear tormenting us at times. Fear causes us to shut down and pull our “masks” firmly back in place. Fear can cripple us ,and push the “Real me” further back behind the walls we have built up over our insecurities. However, When we truly look at God, we can experience His perfect Love. Only then, can we become a person that is willing to share a portion of their inner self (the real me) with others.

As you experience the love of God today, ask Him to help you to open your heart to those around you and see a glimpse of the real you coupled with the love of God that shines through you. Will you dare to be fearless today and rely on His perfect love? Remember with God it is possible and probable to be fearless.

It is time for fear to take a seat and let the Real Me stand up. Are you up for the challenge today?

Blessings in the Storm

I trust that all my friends and visitors to this blog have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year to come.  God has truly blessed my family this Christmas with a great family, church family, and a wealth of friends. I say all of this to say that this time in my life has not been without its struggles and things to lay at the feet of our Lord. Many times throughout our walk with the Lord we will face the unforeseen. It will come out when we least expect it and for a moment even hold us so tightly we cannot see which way we should turn. Storms can come upon us suddenly and dark clouds can bring fear to our hearts, yet in all of this we know we have someone who is there beside us in the midst of the darkness and fierce wind. Then it begins, the rain pours down. I have not thought of the rain as blessings, but it truly is so.

We need the rain. The rain nourishes the dry areas. It gives us something that watering from the hose in the yard will not. It cools the atmosphere around us. The leaves of the trees turn upward to receive the rain from the clouds. Sometimes the leaves will actually turn upside down to receive the rain at the place that will give  the most benefit for its delicate root system. The hard ground  softens under the impact of the rain upon it.  When you think about it, the rain has the healing properties in it to make things better for the earth, yet to receive the rain it must be accompanied by the storms.

I have found recently that in the midst of my storm, the Lord has sent his blessings of rain to overwhelm me.  The blessings have covered me at times with small drops and other times with large torrents. Over and over I have felt the love of my heavenly Father cover me with his strength, encouragement, love, and the cascading rain of His blessings. In my time alone with Him, I lifted my hands and heart to accept what He has for me as His spirit pours down like the rain. It has been what I have needed to help me when fear has taken hold of me. I wish that I could say that I am strong enough on my own to weather the storm. We try to hide our weakness so often for fear of what people will think of us, or put on a brave front because we feel it is expected of us. If you could see inside of me, you would know I am so weak and fearful. It is God who has been my strength. If I did not have Him with me I could never face the storms of life.

Not only have I received the blessings from the Lord, but also from the gracious friends and family who have interceded with prayers for me and my family. I do appreciate all of the prayers that have been sent on behalf of us. Thank you. You have been apart of the sweet rain that has covered us.

Blessings to you!

Watch Out, Spider!

In my effort to get to work on time the other day, I, as usual, went flying out the front door and raced with my purse, foam “guzzler” of iced tea and bagel. Clay chose to fly out the door after me and  reminded me that he had seen a spider in the door of the car that we needed to take care of. I didn’t want to disappoint him the pleasure of killing a spider, but if I identified it quickly enough I could proceed down the road and reach my destination on time. My plan was to put Clay at ease and take care of it Iater that day. I opened the back door and asked him where he had seen the offender. This spider had built a web between the doors that you could only see if you opened the back or front door on the driver’s side. All I could see was two egg sacks and a complex web. Clay pointed it out as it was hiding up under the hinge that holds the door in place. The way the spider was hiding I could not identify it so with a stick I removed part of the web and the egg sacks and “squashed” them. I didn’t want them hatching and taking over my car. It is a small four door and there wouldn’t be room for all of us. 🙂 Anyway, because I couldn’t see very well I closed the back door and opened the front door to see if I could get a better view. I did. It was a black spider so I was immediately concerned I asked Clay to run inside and get the bug spray. When he returned, I armed myself with bug spray in one hand and a stick in the other.  I sprayed it good and as it slowly descended on a silky strand of web with legs curling I saw the red hour-glass shape on it. It was a black widow. I got chills as I “squashed” it when I realized that it had been there for quite some time. At any moment, it could have chosen to hop out on me or one the boys and hurt us.  I praise the Lord for his hand of protection on our family.

As I went throughout my day, I could not stop thinking about the near miss we had and God’s protecting hand. Then my thoughts lead me to realize that temptation and sin is there lurking, waiting for just the right moment to strike. It waits patiently for the opportunity to catch me with my guard down and in the place where I am the weakest. At every turn in this life, sin is all around us. We are faced with it in the media, in the places we go, and sometimes in strangers we come in contact with. We need to be ever mindful that there is one that would love to see us fail and bring down the name of Christ. It is so important for us to watch out for these opportunities, and “squash” them as we would a poisonous spider.

It is not easy to turn from temptation and sin, but we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and a Savior who overcame the very essence of sin and death on the cross.  It is God who provides a way of escape for us so we do not have to give in to the temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we read, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will no suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  We are going to be tempted to do the wrong thing. Satan does not want us to succeed in the Christian life, and if he can keep us defeated, he most certainly will. My favorite line in this verse is “God is faithful.” He is here with us and we can rely on his strength when we are weak. When we became a Christian, we trusted Him with our very soul. In the same way, we can trust God for our daily keeping also. He can help us to resist temptation and guard against the attacks of those who would harm us.

It is time for you and me to keep our eyes open and watch for potential danger, temptation and sin. We know we have a friend who has endured such temptation and become a victor over it. We must turn in Jesus in our need. Jesus is our hope and He is ever faithful.

When you need a Word…

As a child, my parents, Sunday school teachers, and pastors have encouraged me to pursue Scripture memorization.  One of the highlights of my young years was going to a Bible Club every Wednesday in the next neighborhood over from ours. We were taught stories from God’s Word, and lessons on how to follow Jesus. We were taught the plan of Salvation through the verses of the Romans Road (Romans 3:10; 3:23; 5:8; 5:12; 9:10-13).  Scripture Memory was emphasized every week. We were sent home with a cookie and a Scripture verse on a piece of paper to learn for the next week. One of the first verses I learned was Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against God.”  I also learned Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” They even offered a complete camp scholarship if you learned 300 verses of Scripture. I was encouraged to go for it. I am so glad I had people in my life to encourage me in the study and memorization of God’s Word.

It is because of these early experiences that I am blessed today. There have been times in my life when I needed a word from the Lord. The things we face in this life can catch us off guard and circumstances can overwhelm  us to the breaking point. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a word from the Lord and your Bible was either in the car or back at home? This is where the Lord began to bring verses of Scripture to my mind when I needed them most. Sometimes it was just a phrase or two of a verse, but a phrase is often sufficient when in tribulation.  I was reminded of this again when I was sitting at my desk quite overwhelmed with a problem, and I found myself really scared. I prayed to the Lord for help, and in an instant the Scripture came, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” Over and over on that day, when thoughts of fear came, the phrase remained. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” How thankful I am that He is willing to speak to me where ever I am with words of comfort from His Holy Word.

The Word of God is more than just a book. It is a living testament of a Holy God reaching down to man. The promises are endless. The words are true. God has given to us a guide on how to live this life. We, as a follower of Christ, need to follow his teaching wholeheartedly.  Pehaps you would like to  know more of the word of God. Take one or two verses per week and commit them to memory. You may think that one or two verses a week is not much, but as time goes by you will know more and more the heart of God, and when you least expect it, He will bring to mind a verse that will give you what you need for that moment.  You can ask the Lord to guide you and He will. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know many verses from memory, you can start today. I am glad that God is willing to take us right where we are and move us forward. He does that just because He can, just because He is God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

What a Building!

As God continues to mold and shape me into the person He wants me to be,  I begin to see the depth at which He has gone to draw me to Himself. 

How I build upon the foundation that he has laid is important.  1 Corinthians 3:12-13 states that we need to take care what we build because it will be tested by fire. Our  motivation should be to build the things that matter in the kingdom of God. Why?  In verse 16 we read, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”  He is building on us and we are building on the foundation he has laid. It’s amazing isn’t it. We are all working. We all need to be striving toward the same goal. Only then will the work of God go forth and do what it was intended to do.

Love for God should also be our motivation, or our driving force.  Love and fear cannot coexist.  We will let one or the other be the driving force in our life. Fear will have us running for cover, and we will barricade ourselves back in the comfort zone that we had tried so desperately to rezone.  I am so glad we have this verse in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:  because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” These are powerful words.  Love will cause great change in us. It will propel us into the most challenging, amazing place we have ever known. The very center of God’s will for us.

The work that has been taking place in my life is not so I may glory in the work, but that Christ may be glorified through what has been accomplished. Galatians 6:14 reads, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  When we build upon the foundation  gold, silver and precious stone, Christ will be glorified. Our building will be a testimony of what He has done.  Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

When my days of building are over and I reach heaven, I want the Lord to say, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” I want him to be glorified with the finished product, so I will strive to do all I can to impact the kingdom of God.

Comfort Zone Reconstruction

“We never test the resources of God until we attempt the impossible.”   F. B. Meyer

When was the last time, you attempted something big for God.  Something so big it scared you.

I am convinced that we as Christians are living in a comfort controlled environment. We fail to jump out of our comfort zone.  Why? Our comfort zone is the place where we feel safe. You know what I mean by those warm, fuzzy feelings. We have them and we like them. We, of course, want to keep them, but in reality is this what God wants us to do? Did God call us to be comfortable?

In Romans 8:28,  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Many times this verse is used to let us know that no matter what comes into our lives that God is in control of things and it will work for good according to his will.  As I read these verses today, I thought the verses say much more than this one point alone. These things “work for good” when applied to us fulfilling his purpose for us.  Are we working outside of what is comfortable fulfilling His will and His purpose?  We are called by Him to attempt great things for Him. This activity does not happen when we are content to only do what we have been doing or only what we know how to do.

I think God what to stretch me and move me. He wants me to be more like Christ. We find Jesus moving and shaking things up. We find Jesus addressing the things that were not comfortable for people to deal with. The woman at the well’s testimony after he gave her living water was, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did!”  Sound comforting to you? It is rather scary, yet I know God does know everything about me.  He wants me to rely on Him. Do we really rely on Him when we are camping out in our comfort? I don’t think so.  We need to get out of the zone and run like crazy people toward what God wants us to do.  Will we be afraid? Maybe, but God doesn’t just stop there. Why else would he prompt Paul to say in verse 31,” What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us who can be against us.

I am ready to attempt some great things for God. I want to find those resources that are available to me. I want to see God do something that was thought impossible!

It is time for a Construction Zone not a Comfort Zone!