Astounding Grace

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There are times in my life when the grace of God astounds me. I am in awe of God everyday, but then there are days…

My family and I came to know the Lord within months of each other. We moved to our current home 16 years ago and at the time were finishing leading the pre-school ministry at our former church, which is only thirty minutes away but the commute is a two lane road almost the entire way there and it remains the same today. We didn’t have a new church to go to, yet I was excited when our commission ended so we could look closer to home.

We weren’t believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior at the time but then something curious happened. My husband began listening to Calvary Satellite Network and he would come home and tell me about the things he was learning by listening to the Pastors. I took the proverbial ‘bull by the horns’ and ran with it. At the same time a friend had given me the first book in the “Left Behind” series and I could not put it down. The night I read the last page I prayed and told God I did not want to be left behind, I asked for forgiveness of my sins and asked Jesus to come into my heart. The next morning I was literally a changed woman!

Fast forward about seven years to when our youngest, who we know now suffers from a mood disorder, anxiety and ADHD, although she is a straight A student, came out of Children’s Church one morning and announced that we were all getting baptized. So we did and we began serving together as a family. Our older two are a year apart in age and when our oldest entered sixth grade I became an adult leader with our youth group. Those were some amazing years, working with the youth and pouring into them and watching our own children grow spiritually. When our daughter graduated from middle school I felt my time with the youth was done and stepped down. What I didn’t anticipate was my kids not wanting to participate in youth group anymore. Slowly, they stopped going to church and remaining involved. The same pattern happened with our youngest, although I held out hope that it would be different for her, this is the child, who at five, announced God was going to give her money to open a homeless shelter and she wanted to take in as many people as she could. I cherish that memory and still believe it lives in her heart because God put it there.

Through the years one of my fervent prayers is for my children to desire to have an intimate relationship with God. As time has gone on our oldest studied abroad and met her boyfriend, who was in the same program as she was but from a different university, our son met his girlfriend and we discovered the challenges of our youngest. And, through the years, my children have gone from rolling their eyes at me or walking away when I would attempt conversations with them about God and faith, to listening, conversing and sharing their thoughts and ideas, to once again asking for prayer. There are some kids who immediately find their own faith after they separate from their parent’s faith and there are some kids who go through great trials and tribulation before they find their own faith. That is how it has been for our kids, each of them has had a life event that knocked us all for a loop. But, as I reflect back I realize I wouldn’t have it any other way because I have been able to walk through these events with my kids and my faith and the best part is that I have seen and continue to see them grow spiritually.

Over the past year and a half  we have been consumed by the challenges of our youngest but life continues on. A few months ago our son’s girlfriend had a life event that caused our son to pray with his girlfriend and he led her to the Lord. Astounding grace! A few weeks after that she broke up with him and God has revealed how my son has turned to Him for help. Astounding grace! Recently our daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her and while she is going through the steps of grieving she commented to me that she still prays for him because she doesn’t want him to continue down the path of darkness. Astounding grace! Our youngest begins her Junior year of high school in little over a week. God has already shown me that he has gone ahead and placed in each day of her Junior year, exactly what we need. When I told her this she didn’t roll her eyes or comment negatively. Astounding grace!

Precious One, even when you don’t seem to feel or see God working, be encouraged that he is.

His grace is astounding!

Shalom!

 

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Grace Wins Every Time

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Greater than hate…God’s grace.

Redemption and righteousness…God’s grace.

Acceptance…God’s grace.

Christ in me…God’s grace.

Eternal life…God’s grace.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17.

God’s grace is for you, God’s grace is for me, God’s grace is for all creation.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.

Precious One be the change you want to see happen.

#stophate #stopviolence #prayerworks #PRAY more than you talk.

Shalom!

The Battle Cry

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Photo courtesy Flikr photo sharing.

Every year some of my friends ask God for a word for the year. A word that helps them focus on his will for their life. One friend received the word balance and whenever we have the opportunity to spend time together she shares with me how God is teaching her balance in her life. Another friend received the word breakthrough, knowing this friend, she is not only praying for breakthrough in her own life but for the entire Body of Christ and across the nations!

Even I have asked God, on occasion, for a word that will highlight my year, but as I reflect back on this I realize God gives me, without me asking, a battle cry. My battle cry for this year is Romans 8:28.

 

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God gave me this verse very early in this now half old year, during a time when I was in a ministry funk and had been for the past six months, coupled with the challenges and struggles of our youngest lovebug. This verse seemed to be everywhere, in things that I read, conversations that I was having and before long God was giving it away to others. He even used it as a parallel theme in a message I had the opportunity to give at church one Sunday. However, every time the struggle for my daughter would rear its ugly head, I would question God if I was suppose to step away from ministry. I felt the two were somehow intertwined. There were days I would look at my husband, in tears, and simply say, “I Am Done.”

One morning I sent a message to our Pastor, who was our friend before he became our Pastor, and I was conversing with him as both friend and as a part of the flock he has been given to care for. He already knew of the struggles we had been facing and I told him that I felt I needed to step away from ministry for awhile. He said something simple yet profound that has come to pass. He told me that I wasn’t stepping away from ministry I was looking at it from a new angle. He didn’t try to talk me out of my decision or offer any advice. He simply spoke God’s truth into my life, knowing the gifts and anointing God has given me and left it there in encouragement and support.

Still the struggle for our daughter continues and I continue to question God about ministry. I ask him, “Why me, why us, why my kid?” Something in my spirit knows I ought to be looking at how the two are connected. There is something I need to learn about me before I can move on. Then God gave me this.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3,4.

Herein lies the answer to my questions. Character, God is building character for the next season of ministry through the struggles in my child’s life by teaching me to respond rather than react because he uses ALL things for my good because I love Him and he has called me.

Just yesterday as the struggle once again raised it’s distorted, twisted, pitiful self, God reminded me of the battle cry he has given me and literally minutes later a friend messaged me, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Precious One, IN.ALL.THINGS.

Shalom!

 

We The People

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…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Not long ago, our youngest lovebug told a young man she was ‘talking’ too that if he started coming around to our house to expect to have a conversation about Jesus. I love that!

I use to be an in your face Jesus freak. Oh, I’m still a Jesus freak but then I met grace and grace completely dissolved the legalistic world view I had. As a believer in Christ I believe it is important to realize and understand that, unless God has opened up the mind of someone yet to believe, they can’t understand the revelation of Scripture because they don’t yet have Holy Spirit living in them. For that matter, I believe many of us who do have Holy Spirit living in us don’t take the time to consistently dig deep and have a relationship with the holy Scriptures. They, the Scriptures, are alive and crying out to have a conversation with us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

You see, Scripture is Jesus and having a relationship with Scripture is nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with Christ.

What we’ll find when we talk with Scripture is that God loves all his creation and he wants none to perish but all to come to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Is this going to happen if we spout our frustration about current world events all over social media? I can assuredly tell you, “no, it is not.” And the reason it is not is because you are spouting to a world that doesn’t understand. The change you want to see happen begins with you and it begins with me.

2 Chronicles 7:14 above confirms this for us. Are you called by the Name Jesus Christ? Then it is your responsibility to humble yourself, to pray and seek God and turn from your wicked ways. Yes, you are forgiven of all your sins and yes sin no longer identifies who you are, but we still sin and we are to confess and repent of our sins because sin stands in the way of our fellowship with God. (1 John 1:8-10). Here is the best part, when we take responsibility for these things God promises to forgive our sins and heal our land! Not simply heal but completely heal, which is the original context of the word and land is not only physical land but the people in the land!

We can’t cause anyone to have a relationship with Jesus, that is Holy Spirit’s job, but we can live our life is such a way that others notice the difference and want to know more about why we seem different. Those are the moments we pray for; moments to share Jesus in a loving and grace filled way not an in your face beat them over the head way.

Precious One be the change you want to see in your sphere of influence and ask God to multiply that around the world. Jabez did and God granted his request.

Shalom!

Here’s to your Health

810-9148-64-166Some people like to listen to music while they run but I like to reflect, ponder and talk with God, catching the thoughts Holy Spirit brings to me as they flitter into my thought process. That was the case this morning. I was running in the neighborhood of one of my first friends when we moved to this area and the old French proverb, “the more things change the more they stay the same” came to mind. What this proverb means is that tumultuous changes don’t affect reality on a deeper level. As I thought about this I began to see this a bit differently. Sadly, my friend passed away about three years ago. Her husband sold their house and their four children no longer reside in the area. Things changed and nothing is the same for them. Yes, on a deeper level their loved one is no longer with them, but that is only a part of their total reality. A reality that has changed and is constantly evolving and being shaped by the hand of God.

A few days ago I wrote about Daniel’s seriousness to prayer. You can read that post here. As I was writing the Daniel post, Holy Spirit began to answer a question I had about my prayers in a current situation and by the time I was done writing He laid a plan tailor made for me to make some changes to the way I approach prayer. He gave me an assignment; the names of three people who are struggling with their health and asked me to devote some uninterrupted time each morning for three days discovering what I could about what He says about healing and applying these truths as prayers over the three people he asked me to pray for. He is an amazing and good, good Father indeed! While there are many verses about healing and health, here is my favorite so far and at first glance one might not think this has anything to do with healing but allow me to show you the gem I found.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Hope in the original text is actually the word peace, which can mean health. The words ‘a future’ in the original text is an expected end; it is an expectation, hope of deliverance, a thing that is longed for. Literally it means a cord of attachment. This cord of attachment comes from a word that means be strong, endure, remain, patiently wait for, on or upon.

God knows the plans he has for your life, plans for health and the hope of deliverance. All you need to do is patiently wait upon him connected by the cord of expectation.

Are you feeling discouraged, angry, discontent or hopeless? Perhaps you’re thinking a change of scenery might make you feel better. Maybe a job change, moving to a new neighborhood or seeking out new friends. Then yes, the more things change the more they stay the same; you bring the same heart and soul condition to your new changed reality.

However, as a believer in Christ if you stay firmly connected to Jesus it is impossible for you not to change on a deep level because the truth is Holy Spirit is always transforming you through the ongoing process of sanctification; drawing you closer and closer to Christ like behavior; experiencing his characteristics, his joy, his love, his peace and his healing. Your choice to say yes to Jesus didn’t end when you asked him to be the Lord of your life. Everyday you get to choose to say yes to the lover of your soul.

Precious One, maintaining health, spiritually, mentally and physically, is a choice. So, what will it be? Superficial change where everything remains the same or real down deep change and the hope of deliverance as you stay connected to the cord of expectation?

Shalom!

Tough Love

The cross of Golgatha

Sometimes I believe we mix up tough love with God’s grace, especially when it comes to our children. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences for their unwise choices or actions, but it is how we mete out those consequences that make the difference between tough love and grace.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor, but even more than that grace is God’s favor freely extended to us because He gives Himself away to us and others and is always leaning toward his beautiful creation that is created in the image of Him.

I think of the Samaritan woman at the well, who had been married at least four times and was living with a man that was not her husband. She was an outcast and wouldn’t go to gather water from the well in the cool of the morning with the other women because she was shunned and judged by them. Instead, she would wait until the hottest part of the day, when no one else would be there and she could gather her water in a bit of peace. Then she met Him, the Man, who would die an excruciating death of pain and asphyxiation nailed to a cross for her sins, my sins and your sins. Yet, what did Jesus do? He offered her grace and set the foundation for a culture of honor.

A culture of honor is where we recognize that we all fall short of the glory of God and realize that we all mess up and sometimes those mess ups have consequences and to give those consequence in a way that honors God and not simply feels like the right thing to do. Many times the consequences in a culture of honor feel counter cultural to what society says we should do. But Jesus was radical in his thinking, perhaps that is part of the reason the Pharisee’s didn’t like Jesus, because he didn’t play by their rules. Jesus also calls us to think like him.

But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16b.

Which means we have the intellect to receive God’s thoughts through faith, which also means we must stay connected to God consistently to create a culture of honor in our homes and in our communities.

Precious One, you and I, we deserved to die that torturous death on the cross but Jesus took our place. That’s grace and grace is what we ought to extend to others, nothing less. Even when, no, especially when the actions of others are deserving of consequences.

Live radical. Live like Jesus.

Shalom.