5 Ways You Can Rest in Peace!

waterfall-620313_1280Rest in peace?  What am I talking about here?  No I’m not talking about dying.  I’m talking about how to rest in the peace of Christ in spite of what’s going on around you.

I just love God’s sense of humor.  Why is it that we can pray and ask, ask and pray for something for years sometimes and then when He answers the cry of our heart we freak out?  This is happening to me right now.  There’s this opportunity I’ve been waiting for, praying for, for many years now.  I decided that I wasn’t going to make this thing happen.  I can be quite persuasive and determined when I want something.  Eventually I learned that when I make things happen, they aren’t always in His timing and so the outcome isn’t always what I hoped for.  No, I’d be better off waiting patiently for Him to bring a thing around if it’s meant to be. 

So I took my hope and left it at His throne.  “Good,” I stated as I wiped my hands clean of it’s influence.  Every once in awhile I’d look longingly at that thing, lying there at His feet, wondering if it would ever come to pass.  I never forgot about it for the reach of that desire is entwined deeply inside of me.  I made up my mind; if it was going to happen, it was going to come through God’s hands, not mine.

Three weeks ago the opportunity came knocking.  What?  “Now God?  It’s been laying there so long with You I almost gave up on it,” I lamented.  Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted to do it anymore.  But there it was, an opportunity to do the very thing I’ve dreamed of for a very long time.

The point of all this rests in a scripture I ran across the other day.  “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you.  The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” John 14:25-27 (MSG).

I love how the Message Bible says it:  I’m giving you My peace, leaving you well and whole.  You don’t have to feel abandoned and grieving, upset and distraught.  No, I’m leaving you my gift of peace.  So how come I don’t always feel so peaceful?

Here is what He showed me, five ways to move into His peace:

1)  Receive.  In this day and culture, it’s not easy to receive.  We’re all pretty good at giving, but that receiving thing, um, not so much.  In my case, I must now reach out my hands and receive this answer to prayer.  My Father has determined that the time is right for this.  He’s given me a gift, something He knows I’m ready for now.  It’s time for me to receive it to myself.

2) Rest.  See the photo at the top of this blog?  That’s my place!  Oh how I wish it were in my backyard.  Sitting at the side of rivers or streams is my particular piece of heaven on earth.  I love to sit by rivers and just rest.  When I’m particularly bothered with something, sitting by a stream or river is the quickest way I know to give it up to Him and get my perspective back in alignment.  Sitting in my special corner of the world is one way I can get myself gathered so I can proceed to the next step.

3) Reply.  This is where I now have to talk things over with God.  This is the time for “I’m scared God, how on earth am I going to be able to pull this off?  You’ve let me sit without this for so long, I’m not even sure I want it anymore.  And yet, this is the exact time you’ve decided I’m to do this thing?  Really?”  This is your chance to really have a heart-to-heart with God.  Tell Him everything.  It’s ok.  He desires to have fellowship with us and He can take our human frailties and persnicketys!  Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The Word tells us they walked in the cool of the evening with God.  That’s almost as good a picture as my river above.  Well, I’m sure there were moments of bewilderment and confusion as Adam and Eve learned from God how exactly there were to take care of this burgeoning garden.  God is big; He can handle our questions.  He can even handle our balks!

4) Re-engage.  Now I get to get on with it.  I have work to do.  I have to re-engage with this dream of mine and go to work to pull this off.  God thinks I can do it.  In those moments when I don’t have much peace about this prospect, I may have to go back to step 1 and start all over.  No matter.  God says I can do this and so, in spite of my misgivings at this moment, I have to work at this.  I’ll continue to talk this over with Him, to get His help, to ask for His input.  After all, it’s my dream!

5) Rejoice.  When it’s all said and done, I will need to rest again in Him and rejoice that He helped me through it.  I don’t know the outcome of this yet.  That old negative side of me, the one God says is dead (my old nature who died with Jesus on the cross!), wants to raise up her head and chatter nonsense to me.  No, I get to tell that old me to sit down and be quiet.  I am rejoicing that my Father thinks I can do this.  After all, it will be the Holy Spirit in me that is really responsible for the outcome of this thing.  I get to be the willing participant and if Papa thinks I can do it, then I believe I can too.

What do you think?  Can you receive His peace in the midst of the circumstances of your life?  Try these five steps and see if they help.  Right now I have to get on with following them myself; there’s work to be done.  Blessings my friends.

Moving As We Wait

move-664898_1280 (Photo by Pixabay)

I’ve been questioning recently my ministry focus. Perhaps you’ve faced similar dilemmas. You think you know what you are called to do in God’s kingdom and then something happens that causes you to question the soundness of this purpose.

I believe I know where I am called and I’ve been quite busy in my little corner of the world. Until recently. Someone close to me challenged me. Am I going out to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and sharing the Good News of the Bible with those who do not know?

Let me explain, as a reminder, in Acts 1, we learn of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The faithful remnant were gathered together in Jerusalem for fear of persecution by the Romans for being followers of Christ. Jesus returned after his death and appeared a number of times over the next 40 days to some of them and proved that it was He in a resurrected body.

Finally, He gave them a command in verses 4-8: “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;  for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.  And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8 (NASB77).

So, once again, the question was, “am I being His witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?” For those of you who might not yet have learned what this means, the above scripture has been cited as one of the main purposes for our being: we are to witness or share the truths about Jesus Christ to others in “our town, state, region, and throughout the rest of the world” so that none might be excluded from hearing the Good News of the Bible, that Jesus Christ is the only way into everlasting life.

Yes, this was a quandary for me. I chewed on this for days. I fretted. I stewed. And I wondered if God was in all I do. I asked Him if I was to get involved in another ministry like going to a prison, working at our local schools, perhaps volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center. You see, I am quite active in my local church, I’ve been on short-term missions, and the Lord is my focus in writing. But by and large, my ministry focus is within the church. I cried out to Him, “Lord, am I not doing enough outside my church, am I to take on something outside my current focus?”  And God remained mysteriously quiet.

I finally wrote to a trusted friend and mentor, a woman I greatly respect and one whom I knew would speak truth to me. I laid out the dilemma and asked for her opinion. About the time I wondered if my request had been lost in cyberspace, she replied. Her words settled over me like a warm blanket on a very cold night. She felt that often we get caught up in wanting to “work” our way into all God has planned for us. She shared a word from the Lord to her at one time: “If you work, I will rest and if you will rest, I will work on your behalf.” Truth!

I pondered her wise words. I chewed on them. I considered all she said and all I felt I knew to be true. And the days passed. Finally, I knew what God was saying to me: “Open your ears and eyes to My Presence. I will guide you as you go. You are often in too much of a hurry. Slow down and make time for Me to speak or show you the way.”

The other day I was in the grocery store, oblivious to Him, just getting it done so I could move on to the next thing. As I wheeled my cart out the door, I was suddenly impressed with His Presence. I actually stopped dead in my tracks and asked, “Lord, is there someone or something You need me to see or do right now?” I waited perhaps 15 seconds as I looked around the parking lot. I was willing to be used by Him if He were to say so. I didn’t see or hear anything. I came to understand that this was an exercise for me, that He wanted me to be aware of Him and to await His instruction. And as quickly as I felt Him near I then felt released to move on.

My friend’s word from the Lord became my word from the Lord. “If you work, I will rest but if you rest, I will work on your behalf.” I am to be aware always, in the church and out, of His Presence. When I’m tuned into His Presence, He will bring opportunities for me to speak of Him. All I need to do is wait (rest) on Him. He will do the rest; He always has, He always will. It is, therefore, so important that we be moving as we wait for His Presence!

As Timothy shared, we are “…to preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not…” 2 Timothy 4:2a (TLB)

This is dedicated to a wonderful and wise woman of God, who I am blessed to call my friend; you know who you are.  Thank you for helping me learn who I am in Him!

Seven Reasons to be Joyful

person-690112_1280Writing hasn’t been coming easy the last couple of weeks.  Not sure what that’s all about since things in my spirit are soaring.  So, just for today, I’m going to part from my normal format and tell you why I’m excited, looking forward to the days ahead and feeling joy at all the prospects.

1)  I know that my God loves me beyond all I can hope, think or imagine.

2)  In spite of the fact that there are issues going on in my life in which I can’t see the end, I know that God is working them all out to have a good outcome.

3)  I just learned (or better, just realized) that I walk in an open heaven all the time!  By open heaven, I mean that I have access to all things heavenly, my Father hears my cries, and He is willing to help me in every situation if I will lean into His understanding and be patient for Him to work it all out.  Additionally, I am a favored child of God, so when I ask Him how He wants me to respond to any situation, He will answer me.  My job is to listen and take risks.

4)  I am living during the time period I am best suited for.  God could have had me be born into any other time period in history — but He didn’t.  So that means I’m here for this time, in this place, to act on His behalf.  In other words, I am here for such a time as this in spite of my own doubts about that truth!

5)  I have lived long enough to witness the “coincidences” of life and to realize there are no such things as coincidences.  Each and every coincidence was orchestrated by my Father in heaven, often for reasons I have not seen the answers to yet.  It makes life a mystery and yet satisfying because He promises to work out all the mysteries to my good!

6)  I am alive, have a sound mind, a relatively healthy body, and a promising future.  I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, and an incredible son.  My son in turn chose an amazing wife and together they have pursued God all the way through their lives and are now sharing Him with their three beautiful children, my grands.  What more can I ask for?

7)  Is my life perfect?  Far from it.  I’ve had to give up and repent of many sins and mistakes through most of my life.  It’s taken me far too long to mature into the ways of Christ, but thankfully I think I’m getting it now (I hope that’s not being presumptuous Lord!).  I’ve tripped and fallen flat on my face so many times, I cannot number them.  But, through it all, I’ve been able to get back up, dust myself off (often with the help of loving members of the body of Christ) and keep on walking with my Lord.  No, not so perfect, but I’m amazed at what He’s doing in and through my life.

And there you have it.  Seven reasons to be joyful today.  And I am!  Many blessings on your day and may you too find your own seven reasons to be joyful today…and the rest of the week.

Who ARE you listening to?

girl-140571_1280I decided to go with this thought again because I think there is so much we need to consider about this subject.  In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that our internal self-talk can be so detrimental, and perhaps even downright dangerous, to our growth in Christ.

Many years ago I came across a book by Shad Helmstetter called, “What to say when you talk to yourself.”  It was a very thought-provoking book and it helped me realize for the first time that the chatter going on in my head was having a profound effect on my life.

Currently I’m reading a book by Steve Backlund called, “You’re crazy if you DON’T talk to yourself!”  This too is a great book, not so much about defining the chatter going on in your head, but to make you think about what exactly you’re allowing that chatter to say to you.  Backlund reminds us, “that Jesus didn’t think His way out of the wilderness…  He spoke truth to invisible beings and to the mind-sets that sought to restrict and defeat Him.”

We really owe it to ourselves to get savvy to this concept.  One of the voices in our head is not  a friendly voice; it belongs to the enemy of our soul and he just loves to twist, contort, and otherwise lie to us about the condition of our lives and our relationships.  Backlund contends that we are indeed supposed to talk to ourselves and also to talk to the things in our lives, allowing our relationship with Jesus Christ to blossom and thrive as we proclaim Biblical words and truths into and over our daily circumstances.

Let me give you an example.  I used to have a big problem with speaking negatively.  It wasn’t that I saw myself as a negative person, because I didn’t.  But someone close to me bluntly stated one day, “you are one of the most negative people I’ve ever come across!”  At first I was offended and angry.  But once alone, I started praying about this and asked the Lord to show me what exactly they were referring to.  Over time, I realized they were right.  I totally had a negative viewpoint about life.  I had a hard time trusting others because I feared their motives.  I was suspicious of people instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I found I actually expected negative things to happen to me.  And do you know what?  Negative did follow me and my cozy little life around!  Shocking truth!

I’ve worked at attempting to have more positive expectations about life.  I can still get caught up in the negative (oh, so sad a fact that once caught in this lifestyle, it’s difficult to change that skew), but I try hard to allow for more positive things to happen in my life and, in my head!

One thing I know.  The Word gives us instruction about such things, most of them related to what we say with our mouths.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.  “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19.

I invite you to take a listen to the voices in your head.  Are they life-filled?  Or are they full of negative thoughts?  Very often what is happening inside our head matches up with the words that come out of our mouths; our words have tainted our thinking so much so that our minds have now embraced what the enemy wants us to — that life is hard, and there’s not much hope.

You see, your ears hear what your mouth proclaims.  This is hard to come to grips with in the beginning.  Negative talk equates to negative thoughts and the enemy loves to chime in with his two cents, in total agreement to your conclusions.  And to make matters worse, he then adds his own commentary to the mix.  And the more you agree with those thoughts, the more they rage, the more they come out of your own mouth, no matter your intentions.  Sadly, this is the exact point at which we begin to speak things out loud we truly didn’t mean to.  And therein lies the truth of “death and life are in the power of the tongue!”

But when I practice speaking good things, I’ve noticed there’s a correlation then to what thoughts are running in my head; my thoughts begin to fall in line with what I’m speaking.  I love that the more I speak about good things, the more I come to expect those good things in my life.  And if you’re tracking with me here, you begin to see that your words become contagious to your thinking.

Paul says it best:  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8 (NLT).  Paul was such a loving teacher and his words still ring true today.

Fix your thoughts.  Webster’s defines the word fix as:  to make (something) whole or able to work properly again : to repair (something); to deal with or correct (a problem).  That’s a definition worthy of repeating.  Fix your thoughts, make them whole, able to work properly again.

Do you have issues with negative thoughts in your life?  Do you seem to attract the negative?  Do you struggle with an automatic response of negative?  You’re not alone.  No, far from it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this and invite you to leave a comment on what you’d like to change in that area of your life or, how you have conquered this problem.

Let’s all adjust whose voice we’re listening to, shall we?  And let’s start proclaiming the Light and Truth of the Word and allow it to do it’s transforming power in and through us.

Who Are You Listening To? Do Not Trust Every Voice!

girl-140571_1280

Do you listen to every voice you hear?  More importantly, do you act upon that voice once you’ve heard it?  I can tell you from my own experience that you need to be very careful who you are listening to these days!

Today I’m honored to have a guest post called, “Born to Lead – Until Death Do Us Part,”  for a new friend and sister in the faith, Ashley Hale.  You can find my post at  http://www.circlingthestory.com/reader-stories/Linda.

I hope you’ll join me as I share with you a time when I listened to the wrong voice — and the resulting devastation that resulted from that decision.  Also, take a little time over at Ashley’s site; she’s got some great things to share!

1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Seeking Me – or Wherefore Art Thou?

people-163906_1280Where, oh where have I been?  A friend asked that question of me the other day.  I actually hadn’t realized I’d been missing until I came here to find that it’s been quite a number of days since I last posted.  I didn’t mean to do this.  I hope I will be forgiven.

There are those days when you find yourself so lost in circumstances that you can barely keep your head up.  Too much to do and too little time; I had succumbed to the tyranny of the schedule yet again.  We’ve been home from my parents for a week and a half and the moment we arrived we were hit with surprise after surprise.

I really thought the transition back to our regular life after my dad’s surgery was going to be an easy one.  Um, not so much!  The dog promptly conspired with an upset digestive system that caused more sleep-deprived nights.  That made the next days difficult to navigate.  The mail revealed a couple of anticipated payments to be missing; the trail to track them down was long and convoluted.  Taxes had to be paid because April 15th waits for no man.  A bill got misplaced in the myriad of paperwork from being gone for over two weeks; the recipient was not so forgiving as I’d hoped.  A few surprises resulting from renters moving out and the left behind pet aromas greeted us to mock our no pet policy.

All that left me woefully behind on cleaning my house.  A week and a half later I still haven’t gotten to cleaning and the dust layer grows.  Friends who used to live here came into town and we invited them for dinner only after demanding promises they not look at the fracas of our home.  A new Bible study I’d signed up for needed DVDs watched in order to catch up and not be left behind.  The workbook had to be answered to the tune of eight days worth.  There were staff meetings to attend at our church, texts to some folks we’ve come alongside for a time, correspondence to respond to, bills to be paid.  Ok, so in looking at all this, I realize why I’m still exhausted.

Ecclesiastes 4:5 (NLT)
5 “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.”

Proverbs 16:27 (TLB)
27 Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.

Whew!  I can rest easy because there has been no pause for idle hands to even exist in this schedule!  I guess I can take solace in the Ecc. 4 verse; we won’t be led to ruin for lack of anything to do the past two weeks.  The good news is we’re home.  The better news is God is still in control.  I may think I’m in control periodically, but all this is better left in His capable hands.  In the meantime, I really am praying for my productivity levels to catch up with the myriad amounts of things to do around here still; and I pray all is well with all of you.  You have been on my mind and I’m praying that your tyranny of the schedule looks more calm than mine right now!

Good News From Yesterday’s Silence

imageYesterday was eerily quiet.  Good Friday, the day our Lord died on the cross came and went.  That day was filled with activity, pain and sorrow.  Emotions were high.  The man who had days earlier told truths unheard of and performed signs and wonders was now dying a death reserved for common criminals.  The wonder had died down and the masses went home.  Nothing much else to see here.

Saturday was a new day but it was quiet.  All the hopes of this man truly being their deliverer had died as He took His last breath.  The disciples, for the most part, had dispersed.  We aren’t told but I imagine Peter was heartsick; he had denied knowing his Lord just as Jesus had said he would.  Can you imagine the guilt?  The happenings of the past three years that had caused folks to be giddy with hope, were now over.  This man, the one they hoped would deliver them from the Romans rule, was gone.  No delivering, no freedom, nothing to look forward to.  Might as well go back to the fields, back to the merchant booths.  Life was back to usual.  There was nothing else to look forward to.  Hope died.

Sunday dawned.  The women went to the tomb to beg for His body so they might take care of Him properly.  As they walked, sorrow was deep.  But suddenly, this new day took on a look quite unexpected.  An angel of the Lord appeared and everything changed.  Instead of it being two days after the death of all their hopes, they suddenly found a new assurance had risen in their hearts.  He was not there in the tomb!  The angel told them so, that He had risen.  All the pain, all the grief changed in one brief second with an encounter from heaven.

We need to remember this encounter.  How many times have you faced grief, sorrow, and pain and then despair in the intervening quiet?  We so often fall right into the enemy’s plan to discourage us by believing that the silence after the storm is where we will remain.  Not so, according to the wonderful story of our Lord.  Saturday followed the horrible scene from the day before and, for most, it seemed a day of disappointment and despair.  But we know from history that Sunday brought a new deal, a promise of hope, a turn in circumstances so radical that everything changed.

The Word tells us that Jesus left this world on Friday and all was quiet the next day.  From the surface it seemed nothing was happening.  But the glorious truth is that much was happening in God’s economy.  Jesus descended into hell to take back the authority of heaven and earth.  No one could witness that act and so it seemed that all was lost, all hope gone.  Not so.  Sunday came and with it, the promise of a new deal.  The Messiah truly was the Deliverer!

My hope today is all in Him, my Savior and Redeemer.  When circumstances arise that appears to be never-ending, I have but to remember that in the quiet day of despair, my Savior is working, unseen, to change my situation.  My Sunday is coming and He will redeem the day.  As before.  As always.  Of this I am sure.

Keeping my eyes on Him, my Savior and my hope.