Friday, December 5, 2014

The Purple Scarf and God's voice......

She stood outside of the store manning her red Salvation Army bucket on a cold overcast day. The weather reflected the mood I was in. I was feeling discouraged and generally down on the world and on human nature in general. She smiled at me, a big warm smile, and told me my purple was beautiful, and that she had something to give me on my way out. I did my best to smile back at her, "ok" I told her. And walked on into the store. I was supposed to give her something on the way out, not the other way around. Right?
I completed my transaction, and left. Sure enough, there she was waiting for me as I walked out. "Wait!" She told me. She handed me a soft purple scarf. It smelled like her perfume. I hugged it to my chest and said thanks. She smiled at me again, and said "God told me to give that to you."
I hugged the scarf to my chest again and started to cry right there on the curb. "You have no idea what this means to me!" She hugged me. I hugged her back. Her name was Nadine. "Yes, I know" she said.  "When God speaks to me I listen"
I walked away from that store, feeling like a load had been lifted off my heart. I couldn't stop smiling. This is what Christmas is all about. This is what happens when you listen to God's voice.
As you go about this season doing your shopping, cooking, and checking off your list of "to do's" don't forget what it's truly all about. "Peace on earth good will to men" doesn't truly ring clearly unless we are listening for God's voice, and not just listening, but hearing and doing. 

What will be your purple scarf this Christmas season? And who will you give it to? 

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Simplicity of God

"It can't be that easy"

I sat with her at her kitchen table. God had prompted me to sit down with her and share the salvation message. Her children had heard it a hundred times. They came to church without her. Single mom, drug addict, life filled with one pain after the other.

She listened intently as I answered her questions about why I beleive in God, why I know He is real, how He saves......... And when she asked me what she had to do to have what I have, and I simply said, "Ask!"

She proceeded to tell me about her past experiences with religion and how she had been hurt and confused by it all. Having been painted a picture of God as a big giant ruler with a set of standards that no one could possibly live up to.....

So I asked her to pray. And she did. And she was saved, born again, and she stated all the things that happen once Christ has come in and made you new, that "tingling" all over, that incredible weight lifted off your shoulders....

"That's how you know it's real!!!
And yes, it's very simplistic.

When my sisters and I were young we sang together a lot. We did music with a purpose. One of the songs we sang was called "The Eagle Song" by The Imperials.

One of the verses in that song has always stuck in my mind.

"What human intellect can't sway must be explained away, earth, wisdom, creation of men.
Search without end to fill the spirit housed within, simplicity of God somehow escapes man."

With all the knowledge and science and searching for answers about the origin of absolutely everything, mankind overlooks the only answer that is reasonable. All because to them, "It can't be that easy!" To just simply accept that "In the beginning GOD....... And that's all there is to it.

Have you ever wondered why it seems the most intelligent people on earth according to the standards of earth have such a difficult time believing in The God that created them?

Luke 11:9&10 says this: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and if you knock the door will be opened!"
Pretty simplistic.

Today if you are confused, if you feel that salvation is difficult to attain or that you have to earn it in some complicated fashion, I'm here to assure you that all you need to do is ask. Yes it's that simple!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Substance of things hoped for


Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen............Hebrews 11:1

I am an optimistic person. I always have been. Optimism seems to come easily to a person who has  the gift of FAITH.
Even when times were at their darkest for me, I always beleived that God was going to pull me through, and He always has.  I've always had enough money. I've always been healed. I've been given more blessings than I could ever know about let alone count.
So I would say that my "faith" is pretty big! And it stands to reason, because we have a Great Big God in which to have faith in!
For many others though, faith does not come so easily. Faith is something that has to be worked on and grown, because for those individuals with a logical brain, faith has no substance.

My wonderful husband is one of these people. Although he loves God very much, and believes He is there, he has a difficult time believing that such an amazing being would be interested in our problems, our headaches, our struggles....
And he also needs something that he can SEE.

The dictionary defines Faith as a confidence or trust or belief in God. It defines substance as "that of which a thing consists, or physical matter" or "concrete ness"
It defines hope as "a feeling of trust, anticipate, or an expectation and desire for something.

I happen to like the Bible definition the best, which according to Webster would translate as,  "Faith is the concrete physical matter of our expectations and desires for that thing we anticipate from God"
Pretty cool right???
Now, Matthew 17:20 says that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, and this is teeny tiny, we can move mountains. I remember when I was a little girl and I heard this scripture for the first time. I was riding in the back seat of our family station wagon and I literally looked over at what I considered to be a mountain and told it to move!!!!
Well it didn't. Lol. But in my child's mind I was taking this scripture very literally. It didn't shake my faith though, and as I grew and matured I realized that God probably did not intend our faith to be used for landscaping. Instead, the mountains of depression, discouragement, anger, oppression, and unforgiveness, just to name a few, could be removed with just a little faith.

Imagine what we could do with faith the size of a football!
That same scripture goes on to say that "nothing will be impossible for you!"

I don't know about you, but to me that sounds pretty substantial.

How big is the substance of your faith? Do you have at least a mustard seed? What are you hoping for today?

Please leave a comment, I would be happy to pray for you!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Another Perspective....

Not so long ago, my Dad hurt my feelings. It was with words, not intentional, and when he found out he apologized. Now don't get me wrong. My Dad is awesome. I have said many times that he is in loving character the closest thing to Jesus in the flesh! And even though I am a grown woman, I still got my feelings hurt.
I went home to tell my husband all about it. And after I had talked and vented and pouted, he looked at me with that sad look he sometimes gets.
"At least you have a father to hurt your feelings."

Now I have another perspective.

A close friend of mine had a dying mother. She became angry with God and told Him, "If I'm going through this pain just so I can help someone else, that is not ok. It's not acceptable."

Another perspective.

Two women walk up to a pastor, and let him know quite strongly, I hate men!!"
One of them had been molested repeatedly by her step father. The other one had been taken to a truck stop when she was 10 and sold to the truck drivers for sex so that her mother could have drug money.
These were the reasons for their hatred of men and subsequent lesbian lifestyles.

Another perspective.

A gay man had been treated so badly by church people professing to be "Godly" that he turned against God and became an atheist.  More perspective....

As a woman that grew up with a near perfect childhood, Christian parents, precious promises, and prayer  daily along with hugs and kisses and love.... It took my getting into the world, making lots of mistakes, and trying to lean on my own understanding to gain another perspective

Becoming pregnant at 18. Getting married at 19. Divorced by 20. And that's just the beginning of the story.

Proverbs 3: 5&6 says, "Trust in The Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge The Lord in all that you do, and He will direct your path."

Each time we take a path that is off the course that God set out for us, we gain a new PERSPECTIVE.
And our new perspectives then become a vital part of our story. How we understand others, a little glimpse  at the way God sees.
My story is still being written. Every day I gain a new perspective.

What is your new perspective?

*****please leave a comment!*****

Monday, April 14, 2014

What God Knows

We had a "new girl" at kids club a few weeks ago. She sat there soaking up everything as the lesson was taught, focused intently on her craft, and gobbled up her snack. As we were getting things cleaned up, she approached me and asked, "Does God really know how many grains of sand there are on the beach?" My reply was of course an affirmative "yes!" Then she asked, "What else does He know?" Wow! What a question! I replied, "Well, He knows how many hairs there are on your head, and on the heads of every person in the world!" She looked thoughtful for a moment. Then asked, "Does He have it written down?" "No, I said. He just knows." Her reply was so sweet and innocent, "Wow! He must be really smart!"

Yes. He is really smart. He is God after all. He knows everything! I started to think about what God knows. Psalms 56:8 says "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."
God knows everything. And He always has known everything.

I think the most awesome and amazing thing about what He knows is that He knew exactly what kind of people He was creating, and still He created us. He knew we would reject Him and try to go our own way. He knew we would nail His son to a cross. He knew we would fall repeatedly into sin, hurt each other, and disappoint Him on a daily basis, and still He created us.

He also knew that we would need Him. He put that place inside of us that is only filled by Him. He knew that we would love Him. God just KNOWS. This awesome being that created the universe is interested in me! He knows my favorite color and my favorite flower, and He will give me glimpses of them just when I need them! He sees my heart when it is happy, and when it is breaking. He knew the very place I would be sitting today to write these paragraphs.

Whatever is hurting you today, He knows. Whatever you are trying to do for Him and feel like you're failing, He knows. Nothing catches Him by suprise. He loves you so much that no matter what you've done, no matter what you're going to do, He knows. And He cares.

"For the precious fallen daughter, for her devastated father,
For the prodigal who's dieing in a strange new way.
For the child who's always hungry, for the patriot with no country,
I have a message........
He sees you, He knows you, He loves you!
Jesus loves you!
(Twila Paris)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Realizing your calling

When I was young, I used to invite everyone to church. I guess I thought it was a pretty cool place to be! I'm sure all of my friends up into my teenage years got invited and was there at least once.
When I had my own children, they started asking their friends to come to church. I borrowed a friends truck and piled them into it on Wednesday nights and off we would go.

Now I have grand children, and I started taking them to our Wednesday night service called "kids club". After a while my 2 oldest grandchildren began inviting their friends, and soon my car became too small. Since my father is the pastor, I asked if I could use the church van, and pretty soon it was filled with screaming kids, a lot of them from under privaledged  families. After a while I started looking around for someone to help.  I told myself that children were not my calling. I was called to be a missionary.

One day I was talking to my daughter and I told her that I was trying to find someone to drive the church van. I was tired of the stress it was causing in my life. "Children are not my calling......"

I hadn't even finished the sentence when my daughter started laughing at me."What are you talking abut?" I was a little indignant.  "This is your calling mom, don't you remember when we were little and you drove us all to church! " this is you being missionary! "

It opened my eyes to a lot of things! Mostly to how wise she is! We talked about how these children had no one in their lives to show them love, or to be an example for them. She responded with "that's why He puts someone like you in their lives"


So now when I pick up the van filled with screaming children, I look at them a lot differently. Do I still get tired? Yes. Do I sometimes want to pull over and throttle them all? Yes. Do I still have a headache from pure exhaustion at the end of every Wednesday? Well, not every ..................

I've always preached that God will not call us to do something without equipping us to do it. And I firmly beleive He doesn't call us to something that we wouldn't truly enjoy. The things we are passionate about. Nothing with God is ever random, or happens just "by chance". These things are all a part of His perfect design, His perfect plans.
Now I walk home after parking the church van filled with left over snacks and discarded memory verses. And as I'm walking, I'm smiling. 

This is me being a missionary! And I love it! Because this is my calling!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just because you have failed, it does not mean you're a failure!

I was recently told that I needed to "open up and talk more". Now, anyone who knows me might find this statement more than a little hilarious. I have no problem standing up and delivering  a great sermon, be the main speaker for women's meetings, lead a mission team, and never have any trouble with "speaking".
But when it comes to talking about myself and my shortcomings, well that's something entirely different.
So the next time I was in a meeting, I decided to give it a shot. I'd talk about myself. I told how I had perfected the art of living a double life. On the outside I appeared to be very put together, patient, calm, and always smiling. And indeed that was the person I wanted to be. But the flip side of me was scared, discouraged, anxious, weak, and intimidated.
I am a preachers daughter for heavens sake! A missionary! I sing on the worship team! I teach children's church! I'm not supposed to have all these weaknesses!
After the meeting was over, a woman approached me and said, "I know exactly what you mean. I was a phony too."
Well, I was immediately offended. That's not what I intended to say at all! And if that's all you got out of it, I'm going right back to not saying anything.
I went home, and after thinking and thinking about what I had said, and what she had said, I realized that that was exactly what I was. A phony. A failure.
I went to God. And He brought me to The Word. Psalms 37:24. "Though you fall, you will not be utterly cast down, for The Lord upholds you with His hand."
Isaiah 41:10, "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I AM YOUR GOD! I will strengthen you and help you, I will hold you up with my victorious right hand!
I realized that I am not a failure, I'm just a human. And in that realization came a great peace.
I need God and I need His strength, His wisdom! I need Him to lift me up with His mighty hand!
2 Corinthians 4:9 ...we may get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

And I could hear Jesus whispering in my ear, "Just because you have failed, that does not mean you're a failure!

So the next time I have the opportunity to share my failures with someone else, I can also share the truth that because of Jesus and His saving power, I am not a failure.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jesus is the greatest super hero, and His super power is grace!

I love super hero movies. Super man, Spider man, Iron man, X-men, you name it. The thought of 'Getting the bad guys' with super strength, zapping them with lazers, bending them with my mind, forcing them to tell the truth, and saving the world just gets me all pumped up!
I have often visualized just how I would go about zapping the people who have hurt and offended me or my loved ones. There's even an evil little grin that would come across my face, kinda like the one the grinch does when he thinks he's stolen Christmas.
Oh how I have longed to have super powers! Even just for a day!
How very arrogant of me!

The disciples displayed the same kind of arrogance in Luke 9:51-56, when they came across some opposition from a group of Samaritans. They asked Jesus, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?"
Boy did I see myself in that question!
But Jesus responded by rebuking them and walking away. I can imagine him looking at them and saying, "What in the world is wrong with you? How would they ever get saved that way? Fire from heaven indeed.  Oh!"
As a human, with human minds, given the super powers we crave, we would go around zapping people left and right. And just for doing what we perceive to be bad guys! Thank goodness we don't have super powers! Can you imagine the poor souls sent directly to hell without ever having the chance to repent? The more I ponder on super heroes, the more I realize that Jesus is the only real one. And of all the "super" things He did in the Bible, parting the Red Sea, starting fires in puddles of water, saving men from fiery furnaces and lions, the most amazing feat was this perfect being, putting on human skin, and giving his life so that WE could truly have eternal life.
Super man couldn't do that.

Yes Jesus is the greatest super hero. And His super power is grace.