Rejoicing When It’s Not Easy

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It’s day three of Coronavirus shut-down. In my neck of the woods we’ve not been mandated to shelter in place, but today the President advised meeting in groups of no larger than 10. That pretty much shuts down most group activities we’ve been involved in.

How are you doing with this? I have to admit I’ve had better weeks than last week. First it was all the conjecture about the government running our lives and shutting us down, just. like. that! Then it was news of COVID-19’s symptoms, incubation periods, and washing hands. Oh, and yes, there’s the toilet paper thing! What really got to me were a couple of posts I read about life in lockdown in Wuhan and also in Italy. I guess it was at that point that reality really set in: our lives were forever changed in a way we just didn’t see coming.

With elderly parents in an assisted living facility nearby, I cautiously took them to dr. appointments last Thursday in a neighboring city. We went to lunch. We talked. And we laughed. Then I went to Costco because I needed groceries. My parents opted to remain in the car while I shopped. What I witnessed inside, began the fear lump in my throat. No paper products of any kind. No sanitizing products. The meat counter was scarily empty. Shelves were obviously stocked but supplies were down from what is normal at Costco. And the people. Many, many more people than I’ve ever seen in our Costco! The wait in line was long, longer there than all the time it took me to shop.

When we returned home, I took my parents back to their place. We were met at the door by one of the directors who informed me I couldn’t come in and that my parents would no longer be able to leave unless for dr. appointments or emergency situations. I understood but I knew my mom would worry about all the family out of her range.

Now the fear lump grew. I wrestled for the next three days over all this. Each day brought more bad news. More restrictions, more cases, more people in jeopardy. And then, on my daily phone call with my mom on Saturday, I heard the fear in her voice. She knows that I’m the one who pays her bills, makes her appointments, tends to their getting to wherever they need to go. She said, “you have to stay well!  You’re the one who takes care of us and our needs and we’ll have no one if something happens to you!”

That reality had already crossed my mind and was the main reason behind the lump of fear churning in my stomach. Our church had announced they would still have service on Sunday, but they were going to go live on Facebook for anyone who opted to remain at home. I had decided already that I would stay home in the attempt to minimize exposure, even though our town had no reported issues at this point. When I reassured Mom we were staying at home and not going to church, I could hear the relief in her voice.

So, we’d kind of made the decision to stay home on Saturday and shelter in place. Today is Monday. Day three. So far, it hasn’t been bad. I’ve reached out to neighbors and we’ve all agreed to give a shout if someone is going to the store so we can minimize all of us going. We enjoyed church on the web (after we got some technical problems solved!). We prayed with the National Day of Prayer for our home, town, region, state, country and world.

Today seems more manageable. As I’ve read news updates, I’m able to be more discerning about what is fear mongering by the media and what is solid fact. My fear is abating. Unfortunately I’m the kind of person who struggles with fear periodically. I’m learning that when fear begins to grab hold, I must aggressively begin to capture my thoughts and sort through what’s fear and what’s rational thinking for the situation.

Just three weeks ago, before all this COVID-19 stuff really heated up, I had had another bout of fear threatening to wreck a much needed vacation. I’ll spare you the details but the fear resulted in anxiety and that was about to swamp me. That night, laying in bed with my husband, I told him of my plight. I thought I needed to go home because I was going down emotionally and I thought I needed help. Well, I was right about needing help, but it wasn’t what I had in mind when I first told him about it.

I’d been reading a book while I was there and the chapter I’d read the night before suddenly popped into my mind. I began retelling it’s message to my husband. And it basically boiled down to one thing…worship is a weapon! I realized I needed to take captive my thoughts, right then and there and do a little warfare. We believe that the enemy is real and that he loves to trip us up, over big things and little things. This was what appeared to be an all-out attack on my peace. So we fought back, even though I didn’t feel much like it!

We began by singing a couple of worship songs we knew by heart. We then declared that the place we were in was safe territory, covered by the blood of Jesus and unceremoniously kicked out anything not of God to depart – RIGHT NOW! We then sang again and then began thanking God for everything we could think of. Finally, we ended our time praising God for who He is, what He has done in our lives, and for giving us the opportunity to live a wonderful life. This probably took 45 minutes. And then we went to sleep.

I slept like an absolute log that night (this is quite unusual for me!). And the next day? I felt like a brand new person. Wow God! Anxiety was gone, fear was gone, and I felt energized and alive. All this to say, there is a God-provision for us all through the days we now find ourselves in.

It’s ok to tune into the news or read the latest updates about this dilemma. But I would warn you, don’t linger there and instead, try to turn your attention to God and what He has to say about such things.

Matthew 24:6-7 (NKJV)
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV)
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

These three Scriptures are just the tip of many, encouraging us to rejoice, even in hard times. The Good News of the Gospel tells us that these things are not uncommon to man, meaning we all go through trials. And here’s the thing: we’re all going through this trial together! The economics of our country will come back. COVID-19 won’t last forever; this is just the normal cold/flu season and when we get down the road a couple of months, this thing will be a memory. Hopefully, the death tolls won’t be so bad if we join in this sheltering in place thing and help kill this virus.

If you’re especially having a difficult time, try what I did a few weeks ago, even if you don’t even think you have the energy or desire to do it:

  1. Worship God. If you don’t know any songs by heart, get on YouTube and look some up. Use your worship as a weapon! Sing until you feel like singing more. Even when you don’t feel like it, SING and dedicate your worship to God.
  2. If you recognize that the enemy may be involved in your struggle, command him to leave your premises, your mind, and your peace now in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.
  3. Thank God for everything you can think of. Your home, shelter, electricity, food in the fridge, that loaf of bread, your children, your job, etc. You get the idea.
  4. Now praise God for who He is. He’s the Alpha, the Omega (the beginning and the end of all things), ruler, King, Abba Father, provider, etc.
  5. Finally, end with another song or two of worship.

Remember, we’re all in this together. If we were all to do this simple exercise, might we be able to turn the table on this virus? Let’s try, shall we! Banded together in the love of Christ, anything can happen!

I’d love to hear your testimonies! Blessings, protection, and healing on you and yours…

As the River Flows…

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I close my eyes.  The gentle rocking of the boat lulls me into sweet serenity, rocking back and forth so calmly I can almost forget I am trying to get to God.

Difficult days push you forward, sometimes imperceptibly, and you find yourself just going through movements of routine.  Get up, shower, dress, eat, chores, and so on throughout the day.  Nothing causes you to stop and realize that the movements are rote.

And then, after perhaps days of wandering, you catch a glimpse of His robe in some part of your day.  “Wait!  Is that you Lord?  Wait for me!  Please?”  My awareness of things of the Light is suddenly shocked into action.  There is one thing to be grasped in this moment; my Lord is here and I do not want to miss Him.

I do miss Him, for days it seems.  But I’m scrambling back up the banks of my awareness, trying desperately to get back to Him.  The short Bible passages I am able to focus on in these moments serve as my lifeline.

Up the banks I go, sometimes clawing, sometimes resting, always knowing I must get back to the place where I can see His presence fully.  He is a compelling force – and I want to be with Him.  I can see the top of the ridge.  I go for it.

As always, He is there.  My wanderings have not caused Him concern for He always provides lessons in the chase.  I see the river winding slowly away from me, around a curve, and then here it comes around the bend and makes its way back.  My Lord has not left me – He is always there for me, waiting.

I jump into the waters, soothing balm for my tired body.  The small boat is coming towards me; I grab its side and pull myself in.  I am so weary, I cannot speak.  I lay down and close my eyes.

The gentle rocking lulls me into sweet serenity as The River flows. I am with Him as we go forward together!

 

I Can See Clearly Now

When you look through a monocular, or what I remember in movies as an old-fashioned  “spyglass” that pirates used to use, you look at a particular place. While you peer through, you cannot see the entire field of vision, only the space around the focal point you’re looking at. What does this create? A partial view of your surroundings or tunnel vision!

When you’re up against a problem, we have a tendency as humans to only look at the thing that is disturbing or harassing us. We fixate on it really. We worry about it, lose sleep over it, and otherwise just keep looking at it over and over. What is it we think will happen by looking at it and only it? We want, more than anything, for it to just go away.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

This scripture is a good reminder of the nature of our walk with our Lord, one we tend to focus only on the beginning, forgetting the promise made at the end of the verse! The enemy of our souls is here, in this world, and he brings suffering and negative into our lives. But. God is also with us and He’s always working for us, helping us to live well in a hostile surrounding.

“Oh that mean old devil messed up my life because he means to steal my blessing!” Or how about, “I can’t believe I’ve been having all these awful headaches; I’ve been prayed over for healing, but they’re still hurting me!” Or perhaps, “we’re in financial messes because of the enemy!”

I think we’ve all been guilty of such statements, concentrating only on the dilemma at hand, that thing we’re focusing on that is causing us so much angst. But the truth of the matter is that if we would but shift our spyglass upwards, we might begin to “see” in the ways our Lord has intended.

Let’s look once again at the scripture.“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Our tunnel vision tends to look at part a of this scripture; God’s intention is that we might look at part b!

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Are you a follower of Jesus? Have you invited Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior? If yes, then this promise applies to you! He came so we might have abundant life!

As we fumble around with only seeing the narrow view of our predicament, He sits in heaven, longing for us to shift our sight to the heavens. He always has the solution to our situation, for He knows the end from the beginning. The solution may be sitting right there in plain view but the problem is we’re not even looking for it because we aren’t looking to Him!

I am guilty of fixating on the problem. So what’s wrong with that picture? As I focus only on the problem, the negative thing occurring in my life and not looking around for His solutions, I miss His answer. Oh, so much time wasted!

This tunnel vision of mine is a trait I’m currently asking Papa God to help me with. I’ve learned, through hindsight, to see His provisions every single time I have a problem. I am now, finally, learning to not react to the problems that present in my life. I’m learning to say to myself when the next thing shows itself, “don’t react! Don’t react!”

Instead, I try to take a deep breath, pick up the monocular, and take another look, this time upward to see if I can identify His solution waiting there for me to discover. And as is so true of our loving Father, when I then shift focus back down onto my problem, I suddenly see the solution…right there in front of my eyes!

As growing Christians in a hostile world, it is important for us to remember that God has our back…always! And, according to John 10:10 above, He promises us that in the end, our problems are going to be turned to our good, full of abundant life. What is abundant life?

Webster’s defines abundant as: plentiful; in great quantity; fully sufficient; as an abundant supply. In scripture, abounding; having in great quantity; overflowing with. We might tend to look at “abundant” in the verse as, “oh, that’s nice.” Abundant in the original Greek is the word perissos. It means: Super-abundant! Superior! Beyond abundant! This is no small promise.

I invite you to attempt to turn over a new leaf with me. Instead of looking at life and its problems as a tunnel-visioned, “oh no, here we go again!”, let’s try to focus on the One, looking for His promise and provision. Put down the monocular, stop looking at the problem, and instead, look for His provision in the bigger picture.

Lord, help us to see this life through Your eyes. Yes, there are problems we face but there is no problem bigger than you, Lord! I pray blessings over my brothers and sisters reading here today and I pray your heavenly provisions of abundance will pop into our line of sight in brand new ways.

I’d love to hear your comments as you attempt to see things clearly now!

It’s High Time to Shift!

Shift. Transition. Move. Change. How are you doing with that?

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18 NIV

We “are being transformed”. That kind of sounds like it’s a for sure thing to me. You and I are being transformed. What if I don’t want to be transformed? What happens then?

We humans are famous for resisting change. But. Don’t you just love it when you hear someone talking about something and follow the sentence up with “but”? But implies there’s something coming here I don’t really want to hear! Truth is being spoken here, BUT…  Isn’t it just like Papa God to throw us a curve ball?

Shift means to move, change place or position, a turning. Change means to alter, make different. As much as we don’t care for change in our lives, God’s plan has always been to move us from one state of being to another. He wants us to look like His Son, Jesus Christ, and when we say yes to Him as our Savior, the works begins, plain and simple.

I think I’ve said here before that I used to say something really dumb; “I don’t do change!” Yep, that was a dumb statement. I suspect it made God laugh right out loud. As I look back over my life, I can see countless episodes of change most of which I balked at.

The truth of the matter is that God intends for us to change. Again, this Scripture above states, “we are being transformed”. The Living Bible says it a little differently:

“But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” 

This tells us we are being changed by Holy Spirit to become more and more like God. “Hey God, I’m not so sure I want you to be changing me!” In reality, I think if you were really honest with yourself, you’d admit that all the changes you’ve gone through thus far at God’s hand, have been for your betterment and your good.

It’s time to shift! Allow Papa God to move in your life. I’m hearing Him in this message; “Come on, let’s get on with it, shall we?” Perhaps we think we’re going down a path toward a door in front of us when in fact, God is asking us to shift, move, change directions toward that door behind us! Are you willing? Will you give Him permission?

Earlier I said we are being transformed. The implication is that it’s happening. Yet we still have free will. God wants us to come along His path, but the fact remains we must still choose to go with Him. Here again, look back over your life and understand that the changes you’ve lived through came to completion as a result of you choosing to go with the flow.

What amazing things might God have waiting in the wings of change, of shifting from one place to another? God’s promises are all good. He cannot lie and He will never forsake us. So, any change or shift that He’s proposing must have a good outcome.

Go ahead and shift gears. This shift, this change will move you, via His transforming grace, into a place you could never hope for or imagine in your wildest of dreams! He says so. That’s good enough for me. How about you?

You Need to Know…Ask God!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)

I’ve often thought of this verse but my focus is usually on how God is able to do far more than. I’m in awe of God and His capabilities. This morning I was reading a prophetic word by a woman in Texas and I was stopped by something she said about ASK! She said, “Asking and contending activates faith…!”

I chewed on that sentence for a few minutes. If I ask for something from God, then I’m compelled to wait on Him for the answer. If I have no faith for what I’m asking for, does it cancel out my request? (Why then did I ask for it in the first place? I’ve done this in the past, but praises to our God, it doesn’t seem to phase Him!). I believe, after many years of walking with God, that He loves to confound us and our sometimes lack of faith, by answering us, even when we doubt He will. What does that do for us? It catapults our faith into the possibility range of things!

Let me give you an example. Back to when I was first saved. I’d been walking with Jesus for a few months. I was astounded about this new “relationship” I was experiencing and trying to take in the fact that God was real and ready to be with me. It confounded me at times because my upbringing in faith was in a denomination that didn’t teach about our relationship with Christ…only the sovereignty of God. Consequently I grew up afraid of God. (I want to clarify here that this was my take-away and not necessarily what they taught).

So I’m in this new relationship with Jesus. All was good until one day it wasn’t. I had a bit of a crisis in my new found faith. I don’t even remember what that crisis was, I just remember that I was devastated and I needed to know that God was real. I mean really real. I wanted proof! And so I asked for proof.

“If you’re real God, I need to know! I don’t want to keep walking down this path only to find myself five years from now learning that this was all a pipe dream. If you’re real, I want proof. You have to show me You’re real!”

I was driving in my car at the time this conversation was happening, on my way home from work and whatever had happened that triggered my trepidation. Suddenly, I heard a voice say to me, “Linda I love you so much!” I heard it…audibly! The voice was so loud and clear, I was startled. I remember actually looking in the backseat as I was driving, thinking someone was in the back seat and they’d heard everything I’d been pouring my guts out over, deciding to play a joke on me. That’s how clear I heard what I heard.

“WHAT? Was that you God? I don’t know what just happened, but if that was You, I need You to do it again!” And He said it again! Out loud. “Linda, I love you so much!” I burst into tears. And then into hysterical laughter. And then gratitude took over, me telling God how much that meant to me. Keep in mind I’m driving while this is happening. I lost all touch with reality at this moment, laughing, crying and talking to God as if He was sitting in the passenger seat. I guess He was in fact sitting in my passenger seat because we had the most glorious time.

I had absolutely no recollection of driving home. All I remember is this magnificent time spent with the God of the universe, in my car, and He, by His answer to my question, “are you real?” became very, very real to me! It was splendid!

My next memory is of lifting my head off of my hands, as they rested on the top of the steering wheel, and I was parked in my carport at home. To this day I still don’t know how He got me there, but He did. And this all important incident, this very specific asking of God to prove to me He was real, forever changed my life. God was real and my faith was activated, just as this author the other day stated it can happen.

Back to our scripture…”Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20 (ESV). God is the God of the universe. He created this universe, so I believe He’s certainly able to do anything. And He can and will do far more than we ask…or imagine! Here’s another of those wonderful promises of God. He’ll do far more than we can ask or imagine. Wow. That’s a lot! 

God cared about me and my doubts. I asked…and He answered. And my faith was activated. It was the pinnacle of my experience with God at the time. And I’ve never forgotten His tender care and love to answer my cry. That was some 40+ years ago.

What is it you need from God right now? Have you asked Him for an answer? Have you dared? He wants to answer your question. You may need to ask Him again (see Matthew 7:7), but He promises to answer. What have you been desiring, more than anything, to know from God?

Go ahead. Ask. And as He answers you, watch your faith catapult!

Lord, I’m asking today, for you to answer the questions of my brothers and sisters reading today. Activate  our faith today because I know that I know you want to answer us in ways far more than we can ask for or imagine. Thank you Lord…

Surviving the Valley; Hurricane Days & Dusty Road Nights

It’s been a long, hot, dusty road. I’ve missed you all and the truth is, I’ve missed me! What do you do when you find yourself living a tough road? You travel the road.

In the summer of 2018, I was reading a great book by Graham Cooke, “Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior.” Kicked. My. Butt. Ouch! I was also listening to a lot of Graham’s teachings. Somewhere in there I heard him say, “when you find yourself in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death, this is not the time for a pity party. Instead, keep walking, one foot in front of the other, until you walk out the other end.” I grabbed onto that saying like my life depended on it.

The past year has consisted of all things parental. My parents are aging and an accident last summer for my mom, changed all our lives. We moved them to our town. Not easy. We sold their house. Not fun. We’ve attempted to encourage them as they came to grips with leaving their independent life behind and learned to depend on us. Again, not easy.

A year has passed. I love having my parents nearby. Prior to this, I spent 40+ years away from my childhood home and family. I am now here to help; to transport, make appointments, oversee their health issues, take care of their finances, and attempt to soothe them in times of turmoil at all these changes. I’ve realized that losing one’s independence is like nothing else in our lives. Hard. Humiliating. All encompassing. Nothing is as it was. Nothing.

If you’ve wondered why I haven’t been writing, this is it. I’ve experienced doubt, angst, joy, sorrow, love, and countless other emotions over this past year. I’ve felt extreme highs…and sorrowful lows, at having my parents here, in an assisted living facility, ten minutes from our home. And for all my own feelings, my parents’ have had a bucket load of their own. Some days I am their comforter. Some days I’m their demon, forcing them to face things and decisions they’d much rather avoid. It has felt like a hurricane has blown through our lives, leaving chaos and disorder in its wake.

The Lord recently reminded me that writing has always been my comfort. From my days as a young girl forward, I’ve always written. Mostly about my feelings. I’ve come to realize that all those days spent spilling my feelings onto a page were in fact a healthy release of frustrations and doubts, helping me cope with the long, dusty roads of my past.

My heart is hoping for some time to spend writing again. Soon. I’m reminded of a verse in Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NASB77). “I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the LORD answered me and said, ” Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”

The vision is for a time, not yet come, but it will not fail. God has not forsaken you or me. His Word of life will not fail. Do you find yourself, like me, on a long, dusty road of life? Are you making your way through hurricane debris? Please be encouraged. God is here, right now, right next to us. Do not succumb to the “pity parties” the enemy intends to swamp us with. Instead, keep walking. One. Step. At. A. Time. One day, in the not so distant future, you will see the dawning of a new day. O glorious day, when we realize we’ve walked out of the valley and into His glorious Light!

Travel mercies my friends. The “more” of God is waiting to unfold. Ask Him to revive your weary soul. And don’t forget to look up! He’s still smiling down on us all.

Like a Glove

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Do you remember report card day? Oh my, how I feared that day. As a kid, I never really knew whether my teacher was going to write something on my report card that would damn me in the eyes of my parents. As I look back now, I realize this was a bit ridiculous because I was a good kid. But back then, I didn’t really know this fact. I tried to be good, but all would be revealed when I handed that report card to my parents at the end of the day.

As difficult as that was, it afforded me some comforts, receiving this piece of paper that listed, in black and white, how I was doing, not only in my academics but also in my social life. By the way, that social thing is what got me into trouble! You see, I liked to talk back then, and that got me into plenty of “discussions” as a child, not with my peers which I loved, but with my parents.

“If you don’t settle down and stop talking, your teacher and I are going to have a serious talk about what to do with you!” my father would threaten. It might have been easier if my fellow classmates didn’t think I was so funny! Yep, I was runner up for the funniest female in my high school class, a fact I thought was just wonderful. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t agree with this achievement of mine!

OK, so back to report cards. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God handed out report cards periodically, reporting to us how we were doing in subjects such as evangelism, healing the sick, loving others, and so on? Some days I would welcome such reporting. Other days, it might be just as anxiety inducing as it was back in my childhood.

“What is it you want me to doLord? I’d love for you to tell me, unequivocally, what exactly it is you created me for.” I wanted to know about purpose, why I had been created in the first place. This question, this one question used to haunt me; what exactlydid God expect of me during this time on earth?

A few years ago, I heard a sermon about Gideon and a one-word definition completely changed how I looked at my question about purpose. It can all be summed up in Judges 6:34: “But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon…” Came. The original word in the Hebrew is labesh, pronounced law-bash. That word, came, is repeated a number of times in the Bible. But it is only here (I did not do an exhaustive search of the term “came upon,” however I did follow quite a number of scripture references) that this term is used to describe what happened to Gideon.

Gideon had been learning a strong lesson about God, the God of the universe as opposed to the god of Baal. You can read about this in Judges 6. Gideon was instructed by an angel of the Lord and he responded by doing exactly as he was told. There was a submission described in this section of Scripture, whereby Gideon did what he was told and in doing so, something quite extraordinary occurred.

‘Came’ in this verse means to clothe. The Spirt of the Lord “clothed” Gideon, put him on like a garment. In the sermon I heard, this act was described as, “in other words, the Lord put Gideon on like a glove!” Wow! In an act of total obedience, Gideon allowed himself to be fully and completely used of God. There were no conditionals here; Gideon submitted himself completely over to God.

I don’t even remember when I heard this sermon, but it has forever changed how I view God and myself. “What do you want me to do Lord,” has changed to, “Lord, I want to be like a glove.” I believe, the Father is looking for those of us who want to do what He desires in any given situation. Do I always make it? Sadly, no. But I believe it is a thing to aspire to, to allow my Father in heaven to put me on like a glove and do as He would do.

My purpose? While I know God created me before the foundations of the world (see Ephesians 1) and He gave me unique looks, qualities, gifts and talents, I believe He wants me to beHis hands and feet in a world dying for meaning. He is God and I cannot pretend to know His purposes in and for this world. But I believe He needs our help. We are His hands and feet when we speak the truth of the Gospel, bringing others into Kingdom life. We are His hands and feet when we proclaim healing and other miracles of Kingdom in faith. We are His hands and feet…

I desire for my Father in heaven to be able to put me on like a glove. In doing so, I am blessed when someone else is blessed at His hand. I am blessed when He heals. I am blessed when He provides. I am blessed when He speaks. I am blessed when He brings about a miracle. I am blessed when I am obedient!

Lord, make me like a glove… Share in the comments how you are affected by this statement. Oh, and I’d love to hear your testimonies of moments when you allowed our Father to put you on like a glove. It’s a good thing, this being a glove!

See You in My Dreams

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I had a dream last night. Most nights I dream but this one was a little different in that when I woke, I noticed the dream. I didn’t do it quite fast enough because I lost a couple of the details as I went about getting going. But, then I remembered the dream and I actually spoke as much of it as I could remember out loud. Speaking it out loud, I knew, would help cement some of its details into my memory so I could “chew” on it a bit.

I’ve been reading a great book about the spiritual realms and the author is very encouraging about writing down your dreams upon waking (in the middle of the night or otherwise). It is only in this deliberate, and perhaps obedient, act that your dreams can come alive for you. He likens dreams to one of the ways that God speaks to us, speaking to us from His spiritual realm in coded messages that create such 3-dimensional movies for us! It’s a rather wonderful thought.

As I’ve read, I’ve wondered, could this be true? I’ve always had a hard time remembering my dreams, a trait I chalked off as “oh well, I guess I’m just one of those people who can’t remember their dreams.” This author suggests otherwise. He stated that dreams are a communication tool God uses to speak to us while we sleep, in that restful place, perhaps one of the only times we aren’t so distracted by the things and pressures of this world. I’ve become intrigued. What if my Father in heaven is indeed attempting to speak with me, to share prophetic information about my future, to help me understand a part of my life that I’m having difficulty with?

In his instruction, the author suggested writing down as much of the your dream as you can remember. Keep a dream journal. Oh gosh, there’s that journal thing again! I’m presented with the thought and I have in fact journaled in the past however, I’m not consistent in my journaling. A dream journal. Could it be true that in my obediently writing down my dream remembrances, God will speak to me? Not sure why, but this morning as I prepared to go to Easter services, I was impressed to write down what I remembered about this dream.

I have this cute little spiral-bound book that I recently purchased on one more of my attempts to begin journaling. There are exactly two entries in it. Two! I’ve had the book for a few months. Sad fact, those two entries. Oh well, I’ll not allow my past dictate my future, so off I went, digging through this pile and that, looking for the journal so I could record the dream. Confound it! That book seemed to have disappeared for a few minutes but I pressed on in the hunt. Fifteen minutes later, I found it.

I wrote out all I could remember of the dream. I stared at the page. “OK, Lord, there it is, just as you’ve impressed me to do. Every detail I could remember. Is there something here you want me to know? What does it mean? Lord, I want to know if you’re attempting to speak to me through this dream so would you please reveal yourself in this remembrance?” It was time to get going or I would be late for church, so I left it on my table and left for church services.

I shared my dream with a friend after church services. I shared it only as a piece of information, not really expecting to get an answer from her. When I was done, she stopped for a moment. I knew she was thinking about what I’d just shared and quite unexpectedly, she rambled off what she thought the dream meant. I was kind of awed; her interpretation held a lot of merit, a number of things that could be true. I know enough about such things to know I now needed to take it before the Lord for confirmation or negation. (Please dear reader, always take what others say to you, whether in prophetic words, dream interpretation, words of wisdom, etc., before our Father and wait! Don’t just jump to believe what someone else may say; they are not God! We deserve to know whether this word/interpretation is true to our Father’s heart or not and believe me, He will confirm or deny it if you’ll wait before Him!).

So, I’m in the waiting now, waiting for Papa in heaven to reveal to me whether there is truth in my friends’ words or not. I’d like to note that my friend is quite responsible in her sharing. She knows that it is her responsibility to share what she hears from Papa, if He tells her to go forward, and it is my responsibility to weigh her words to see if they line up with God’s intended message to my heart through this dream.

What about you? Do you dream? Do you know how to interpret your dreams? Share with me what you’ve learned about this because I’m clearly in the beginning mode.

Dreams. I believe they are more than “movies” running through our subconscious. I’m believing that dreams are a way that our Father in heaven desires to speak to us – personal parables, if you will – and He hopes we’ll get interested enough for Him to begin a wonderful “conversation” with us through our travels and adventures in dreams. If we’ll get serious to write down what we remember, I believe He’s going to begin to reveal more and more to me through my dreams. Who knows? Perhaps this is the gateway to more…visions, trances, and so on from our heavenly Father. He did it for his disciple, John. Why not me? Why not you?

Blessings on you and me as we dream – and as we listen through our dreams. God is talking…are you listening?

Through the Open Door

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Consider this photo. It’s a bit silly and whimsical, this door in the middle of a field. It is possible to completely avoid the door, to simply step around the post and continue walking into the expanse beyond.

There have been times in my past when presented with just such choices I would have gone around. An old rebellious nature in me would cause me to see constraints as suspicious and therefore to be avoided.

I recently came upon a piece I’d written about two years ago and it too was about open doors. At the time I was feeling frustrated because something in me sensed a new opportunity (an opening door) and yet it was stubbornly hiding itself or otherwise remaining closed to me. It’s a feeling I’m quite familiar with and it has caused me no end of grief.

You see, when faced with such blockades, these times often cause impatience (and impetuousness follows close behind), causing me to go around the doorpost and on into a future I felt quite capable of managing on my own. I’m positive God isn’t happy with this behavior.

The value in journaling or otherwise writing down your journey can show you important pieces of yourself. This old piece I’d written showed me, loud and clear, how I wasn’t waiting on God. Today, with a clearer eye, I see what He was doing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the benefit of hindsight when we’re faced with the decisions of life now.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Many years ago, a friend gave me this verse as part of a prophetic word. It was so appropriate at that time, a much needed promise to give me hope for my future. I just looked up the root meanings of the main words in this verse and found a new revelation. I just love it when Papa gives me the gift of new meaning, fresh from His Word!

The root meaning of “spring forth” is samah. It means to sprout, to bring to bud. What I saw for the first time is this: bring to bud means to me that this is another of those “process” things. The verse doesn’t say the new thing is new now; it says, in the original language, that the new thing has begun, is set forth as a bud. Buds aren’t the finished product, it’s just the beginning of what will become a beautiful new flower. It must go through the process of growth to “finish” to maturity.

I see a new meaning to open doors in my life. Like this photo, they are placed there as a promise to me that something new is sprouting up, a new opportunity, perhaps  to grow into that which I’ve been hoping for. If it’s a open door from God it is an invitation to enter in. Funny, that once you go through the door, again just like this photograph, the field looks pretty much the same as if I’d walked around the doorpost. The only difference is one of submission and obedience; I’m choosing to go through the open door that God has placed in front of me and now I will patiently wait for Him to bring the bud to flower, allowing God to be in control and not me. Once through the doorway, things look pretty much like life as normal. It is only in the waiting patiently that things which originally looked familiar will transform into something new and amazing, sent from a loving Father! 

What about you? How do you handle those periods in your life when you are chomping to go forward and yet, everything today indicates you are to go nowhere any time soon? I’d love to hear how you keep from charging around the open door.

I want to encourage you to go through the open door! That bud is going to be beautiful…in its own way, in its own time!

Give Thanks Until You Become Thanks

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I love Graham Cooke’s teachings! He made this statement today in a podcast (see http://www.brilliantperspectives.com): Give thanks until you become thanks!

I read it and wondered, “how on earth do you become thanks?” I listened to a short audio he had available on this subject. By the time I got to the end of this short explanation, the anxiety I’d been feeling was already shifting.

I’m not sure what’s been happening lately in my life but anxiety has been following me around. I do fine for some days. But there are those other days. Anxious. Worried. Fretful. What on earth Lord?

I love that Cooke says that the Lord always gives you an upgrade. He’s not into shifting you downward. Ever. No, our Lord is all about us advancing, making our way from glory to glory.

Webster’s dictionary defines glory as: Brightness; luster; splendor; magnificence; Praise ascribed in adoration; honor; praise; fame; renown; celebrity; The felicity of heaven prepared for the children of God; celestial bliss.

I see nothing there that speaks of darkness or sadness or demotions! No, our God, our Father in heaven is for us and, by His own Word, He is better than any earthly father in that He loves us and He loves to give us good gifts.

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:9-13 (ESV)

It doesn’t matter that perhaps your own experience with your earthly father was anything but positive. This God of ours, this God who proclaims He is our Father, that He adopted us, grafted us onto His vine of life, is all about us advancing into the more of all He is. He seated us in heavenly places, next to His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s no small statement. If I’m seated in heavenly places with Jesus, my Savior, then that somehow, miraculously, positions me there, with Jesus and my Father, God. And if I’m there, then this that I’m feeling must shift to His will!

Anxiety, go! Frustration, worry, fretting, go! You have no right here, messing with me! I’m with my Father, my Savior and Holy Spirit. Thank you God! Thank you that you have made a way of provision, a way of escape to any and all of my challenges. How do I know that? His Word…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

So, what is the way of escape today Lord? Praise and thanksgiving! As Graham Cooke said, “give thanks until you become thanks. Speak it out loud. Speak it back to God; He loves to hear His Word spoken back to Him.”  Graham said one more thing that caught my attention. He said, “giving thanks is an act of your will, not of your emotions.” When I choose to worship Him and give thanks for all He’s done for me, I bring myself into alignment with His nature, for He is worship, He is thanksgiving. Aligning. Right. There.

OK Lord, I’m doing it. I’m exercising my will and I’m deciding to give thanks…out loud.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 (ESV)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. Psalm 7:17 (ESV)

 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 (ESV)

 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7 (ESV)

 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Psalm 33:2 (ESV)

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. Psalm 86:12 (ESV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

 Because,

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

 Continue here, giving Him thanks for all He’s done in your life. Name as many things as you can think of. Name them all…

Are you getting it? Are you becoming thankful? I am. I want to be a thank you to my Father in heaven. I want to be known as His kid who thanks Him for all He has done in me, through me, and for me. Give thanks until you become thanks! I will Lord, and I am. Thankful. For all You do, for who You are, for loving me as You always do, regardless of my performance or my shortcomings or yes, even my anxiety. Oh God, I love you!

I invite you to share your thoughts on thanksgiving, on being thanks. I pray this has helped you today…