Monday, April 30, 2012

Going Out Into the Deep

I like shallow water.  Shallow water is safe.  The shallow water invites you to float and splash happily along.  Your feet effortlessly touch security as they firmly rest on the bottom.  Minimal exertion is involved.
Shallow water is.....comfortable.

But.....what if God is calling you to deeper waters?

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon (Peter), "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." 

But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net."  

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"

For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.....

And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." 

So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.  Luke 5:4-11

This is Simon Peter's first encounter with JesusHe was a fisherman.  What did he do?  He fished.  He was a professional fisherman with his own fishing company.  Here comes this preacher who gets into one of Peter's boats and asks him to go a little out from shore so He could preach to the people on shore.

Are you getting the picture here?  Peter didn't know Jesus, he knew fish.  Peter had been fishing all night and didn't catch anything.  He was probably tired since he'd been up all night.  He probably wanted to go lay down, but felt compelled to help this preacher out by letting him use his boat.  Then, this preacher started to talk to him about fishing!  What does a preacher know about fishing?!  Yet, again, he listened to Him.

 He went out into the deep.   What happened when he went out into the deep?  He caught more fish than ever!  The Lord blessed him.  And because he obeyed and went out into the deep, the Lord declared that he would be a fisher of men.

Peter saw the Lord when he went out into the deep.  He saw a glimpse of the miracle working power available that left him wanting to throw away his world colored glasses into the ocean.  His encounter with the Lord motivated him to substitute his life of empty nets of fish for full nets of men. 

Even though shallow water is comfortable, I don't want to stay in the shallow water.  I want to go out into the deep with my Lord.  I want to see His miracle working power.  I want all to be astonished by all the Lord has done and is doing.  I want to catch men.

I always knew there would come a time when the Lord would want me to post my testimony.  I never felt the time was right until the other day. 

Thursday night was Hope Resource Center's fundraising event.  Hope Resource Center is a local Christian crisis pregnancy center.  (Great ministry!! If you want to donate, click above to find out how.)  Pam Tebow was the guest speaker.  During her powerful and moving testimony, I heard God say,  It is time.

It is time to share my story.  It is time to see nets full of the glory of God, and changed lives. 

It is time to go out into the deep.  Is God calling you deeper? 







Friday, April 27, 2012

Story of Redemption



This story of redemption begins with an eighteen year old girl.  Her jet black hair drapes her back in waves and compliments her olive tinted skin and green/hazel eyes.  Gracefully she walks through the meadow.  Her countenance glows with beauty and innocence. 

She takes the hand of a man near and he twirls her around and around.  The sunlight glistens as it shines on her long locks of hair.  Radiant and peaceful, she runs free from care.  She lovingly jumps into the arms of  the only father she has ever known. 

This beautiful girl has never set foot on earth. The only home she has ever known is heaven.  The only Father she has ever known is God.

Her life is one of 54 million that never were given a chance to live.  54 million is the number of abortions that have occurred since Roe vs Wade and killing the unborn became a legalized choice.

A life taken, never given a choice.  A life quieted, never given a voice.

I know this choice well.  I am not one speaking in judgement or as one who cannot relate.  I know the hard reality of decisions young girls face.  I am not without compassion ready to lecture and judge.

The girl I speak of is.... my daughter whom I dearly love.

A daughter I'll never hold until one day in heaven. 

The grief would be too much if the Father didn't comfort me with His love.


Society calls it "choice", deceiving young women.  They dare not tell the truth. 

The Truth:  Abortion not only takes the life of the unborn, it hurts the very women who are told it is only a choice. Abortion hurts women! It is only because the the redemption blood of Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him that I am free spiritually from the shame and guilt.

This is a story of redemption that continues as God unveils His redemptive plan.  My freedom has been a journey.  My loving husband, two precious sons and beautiful daughter are also a part of that redemptive plan.  My daughter is named Sarah Grace because it is by "Grace" that He has blessed me with a beautiful family and the little girl I didn't deserve.

I will never embrace my first daughter here on this earth, but I will not allow her death to be in vain. The time of silence is over.  It is time to be a voice for those who have none. 

 Lord, I pray you would use me and my testimony for Your glory.  I pray that what Satan meant for evil, that You would use for good, that many would come to know the Truth and be set free by the power of Your Holy Spirit and the redemptive blood of Jesus.  I thank you, Lord, that even though my sins were as scarlet, that you have made me white as snow.  I thank you Lord that you have removed my sins as far as the east is from the west.  I thank you Lord that I will someday see my daughter again and until that time, she is in your loving care. 

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.  Ephesians 1:7


Statistics show 1 in 4 women have had an abortion.  If you are one of those women in need of freedom, I have hope for you....there is a Redeemer, His name is Jesus.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  His blood covers all sin.  It is His desire for you to be free.  Jump into His loving arms and let His comfort be yours.

I would be honored to pray for you or speak with you.  Please feel free to contact me.

I will be posting more about my testimony as the Lord leads. 



By Only His Ever Loving Grace Am I Free,



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So, You Think God Can't Use You?


A friend came to me yesterday despondent over having to cancel a commitment due to a financial situation.   Tears welled up in her eyes.  Tears turned to sobs.  Her heart heavy with unwarranted guilt, her head hung low as she explained the difficult financial situation her family was suffering.  She also has had many health challenges which added to her sorrow as she spoke of her situation.  My heart ached for her.  Compassion flooded my soul as I embraced my friend and prayed with her. 

God knows exactly where my friend is.  He is still on the throne of Grace and He is still God.  He knows exactly where you are.  He knows all you need and He knows all you desire.  We just need to be still while we trust in Him.  In stillness, waiting with faith and patience

One of the heart wrenching concerns my friend shared was that she wanted to be used by God, but felt He couldn't use her because of her health and financial challenges.  She wanted to ministrer healing to others, but felt disqualified due to her present circumstances. 

Oh, my friend.  If we all had to wait to be qualified to minister to others, there would be no ministry at all.  

No one is qualified. 

God wants to use you right where you are.  


And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9 (emphasis added)

No one is qualified so that our boast may be in the Lord and not of ourselves.  God delights in using the people that seem least qualified to demonstrate His power. 

In Hebrews 5:1-2, it says:

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for me in things pertaining to God, that may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.

The high priests in Jerusalem could have compassion on others because they were mere men also in need of a Savior. 

However, we also have a High Priest who understands our weaknesses, loves us anyway and allows a way for us to find power from the unlimited throne of Grace to help us in our time of need.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Heb 4:15-16


In our weakness, the power of Christ is all sufficient.  He has a never ending supply of grace to provide us all the power we need to do what He calls us to do!  He is just waiting for us to go to the throne boldly to receive it. 

The high priests in Jerusalem would have to offer sacrifices for sins as anyone else since they were not perfect.  (see Heb 5:3)  Then a sinless High Priest came who himself was the spotless Lamb of God who became the sacrifice for all sins and weaknesses.  His purpose...to grant us access to the Holy of Holies as sons and priests of the Most High (Rev 1:6).  So, we ourselves could enter into the throne room of Grace boldly instead of having a high priest appointed to intervene for us. 

Praise the Lord we do not have to be perfect to be used by God. 

God will use us right where we as long as "right where we are" is at the throne of Grace.

Boldly.  On our knees. In His Presence.

His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  The power of His Grace is limitless.  Don't let your weaknesses try to stop you, let the Lord empower you through them. 






Friday, April 20, 2012

Our Hero

Have anyone ever hurt you?  Perhaps someone who was suppose to love and protect you failed.  Perhaps worse.   Perhaps the person who was designed to defend you deserted, mistreated or abused you?  The broken hearts suffered in a world full of sin can leave one cynical, outraged, and hopeless.

The world is full of carcasses of shattered dreams, stolen innocence, physical oppression, and despondency.

The adversary of this world takes aim to tear down the people of God.  God's most prized creation is his sworn enemy. His ammunition may not be metal bullets or and grenades, but the affects can be just as devastating.

 In this world of chaos and calamity, we need a hero.  We need someone who will come to our defense and save us.  People may intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  We may even be our own worse enemy at times with poor decisions.  

Our first inclination may be to fight back or to "let them have it".  When we are hurting, we can want to lash out so others will hurt.  If we have hurt ourselves, we may even punish ourselves. 

About a year and a half ago, I was going through a hard time.  Someone I loved hurt me deeply.  For months, I toiled with how to respond.  I was full of unforgiveness and bitterness, although I didn't realize it at the time. 

I wrote this person a letter laying out all the ways they had hurt me and how wrong they had been in their accusations.  I had every intention of mailing this letter to "let them have it", but God intervened. 

God revealed to me the unforgiveness in my heart.  He revealed the bitterness and offense I had allowed to fester until it was a poison running through my veins and out into other areas of my life. 

God opened my eyes and spoke these words...."Let Me defend you."

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Ex 14:14

The Lord showed me that the only letter he wanted me to write was one that said, "I have been offended, please forgive me."

God, are you kidding?  I can't write that letter.  You know what that person said to me.  You know how that person hurt me.  God responded again, "Let Me defend you."   

I wish I could say I immediately wrote that letter.  It took weeks of prayer and reading The Bait of Satan by John Bevere to change my heart to the point of complete surrender.  (Great book!  Highly recommend it for dealing with offense.) 

When we hold on to the hurt someone caused us, we cannot forgive them.  Forgiveness gives us freedom from the hurt.  By holding on to the hurt, we are actually harming ourselves.  The person that hurt me didn't cause the poison of unforgiveness and bitterness in me, I did that. 

We have the choice to allow those bullets aimed at us to destroy us or draw us to our Healer. 

Perhaps there is someone you need to forgive today.  Maybe it is someone who caused you a lifetime of hurt.  Maybe it is yourself.   Forgive them.  Forgive yourself.

The Lord has seen the injustice and hurt, and it breaks His heart as well.   Let the Lord defend you.  Let the Lord fight for you.  The battle is His.  We have a hero and He WINS. 

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of flesh; is there anything too hard for me?  Jeremiah 32:27

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped:  therefore my heart greatly rejoices and with my son I praise him.  Psalms 28:7

Fear not for I am with you, do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10






Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Innocent Even Though Guilty

"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.  
He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the Lord upheld me.

He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he compensated me because of my innocence.

For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil.  For all his laws are constantly before me; I have never abandoned his principles.

I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right, because of my innocence in his sight."  2 Samuel 22:17-25

The Lord led me here this morning.  King David wrote this at the end of his life.  The same King David who committed adultery and murder says at the end of his life that he kept the ways of the Lord and kept himself from sin.  He said he was innocent.  How is this? 

David knew the power of the forgiveness of God.  David knew his covenant with the Lord.  David knew the heart of God.  In 1Kings 15:3, it says that David's heart was perfect with the Lord's heart.  He was a man after the heart of God. 

My history is as soiled as David's.  Perhaps yours is as well.  Yet, I understand how David can write these words free from the condemnation of past sins.  I could write the same words David wrote. 

God is my rescuer.  He has delivered me.  He has upheld me.  He has led me to a place of safety.  He rescued me because He delights in me.  I am blameless before God.  I am innocent in his sight.  He has blessed me beyond measure.   

Can you write these words?  He has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).  Is your heart right before the Lord?  Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.  If you have a heart after the Lord, your desire will be to please Him and not sin.  Do we mess up?  Yes, but having a heart after God means that we do not go looking to sin and are quick to repent if we do.  He is always there to reach down and lift us back up when our hearts are right before Him. 

You are blameless and innocent in His sight.  If you are in Christ Jesus, the blood of Jesus covers all sin.  You are worthy of the good life God has for you.  No matter how soiled your past may seem, the blood of Jesus washed it clean.    

"As for God, His way is perfect.  All the Lord's promises prove true."  2 Sam 22:31


Are you living the good life God promises for you?  If not, why not?  If you don't know the promises of God, do a little digging in your Bible.  You will be amazed at what you find!  You are worthy of all God has for you not because of what you have done, but because of what He did. 

At the end of your life, I want you to be able to write as David did, "The Lord rescued me..... the Lord delivered me....the Lord upheld me....I kept the ways of the Lord.... the Lord rewarded me because I was innocent in His sight."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Your Bill Has Been Taken Care Of

When Chris and I celebrated our ten year anniversary, we decided to spend a week in Orlando.  Why Orlando?  Well, because we met there.  We met at Disney World and we love it!  For our special anniversary dinner, we made reservations for the Luau at Disney's Polynesian Resort.



Kind of pricey.  Totally worth it!  After all, it was our ten year anniversary.

While we were waiting to be seated, we struck up a conversation with a couple.  We made small talk and shared that it was our anniversary dinner.  Time came for us to be seated.  We said our cordial goodbyes and followed the hostess to our table.

After we were seated, a waitress came up to us and said, "Your bill has been taken care of."   The couple we met earlier had paid for our dinner!   And remember, I said it was pricey!

They didn't know us.  We did nothing to deserve the gift.  It was our price to pay and they paid it for us.  They didn't expect anything in return.  It was a free gift from a generous couple.  We received the gift with a grateful heart.

The grace of God works the same way.  In contrast, Christ knows us.  He knows our every thought, our every action.  Our sin is laid out in front of Him.  He sees it all, yet He still went to the cross for us.  We did nothing to deserve the gift.  Death was our price to pay, yet He paid it for us.  He knows we cannot repay.

He bought us with the most valuable gift of all... His life, His blood.

If we spent every moment of every day in good works to repay, we would still come up short.  Works cannot substitute for the free gift of grace given to us by Him.  In fact, works suggest that we can buy the gift that only Jesus could give. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:8

With this in mind, let me ask you.....why do you strive?  Why do you keep beating yourself up when Jesus' has already been beaten for you?  Was it in vain?  Was the cross not enough? 

It was enough.  HE IS ENOUGH.   The full price has been paid.  There is no more left to pay.  A generous and loving Savior paid the price for you.  Just receive the gift with a grateful heart.

Your bill has been taken care of. 







 





Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eyes on Who?

My son, Luke, recently received his yellow-striped belt in karate.




He is the small one in the middle.  Doesn't he look fierce?!  Don't want to mess with him! He is 47 lbs of sheer power!

Karate is great for developing self-discipline and focus.

Sometimes the students get distracted.  It doesn't take much to distract five to seven year olds.  Their eyes wonder to the TV outside the room, to the shoelace that is untied, to the scratch on their foot, to the kid picking their nose, etc.  Like I said, it doesn't take much to distract them. 

One of the common phrases the instructors say to the students to help them regain their focus is:
 "Eyes on Who?"

To which, the students rhythmically reply, "Eyes on you, sir."   (very loudly)

Wherever our eyes go, that is what our focus will be on.

Two major deterrents from the correct focus are the world and ourselves.

The world is competing for our focus.  Giant billboards on the side of the road, store displays in the mall posting scantily clad women and men, and perverse television shows all shout "look at me"!  Not to mention the millions Hollywood spends in hopes of capturing our attention.

All of these can distract from where our focus should be centered.  It takes discipline to keep our eyes focused on the Instructor.

The other distractor I mentioned was ourselves. 

When our eyes are focused inward, we see only ourselves.  When our eyes our on ourselves, our vision becomes blurred or off focus.  God wants our focus to be upward towards Him.  He wants our full attention.  Only then, can He direct our focus outwards towards others.

Worry, reasoning, self-pity, and anxiousness are all indications that your focus is off.

When we find ourselves caught in one of the traps above, it is time to ask ourselves who our eyes are on?

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.  Proverbs 4:21-22

 It says to not let His Word depart from your eyes.  Jesus is the Word made flesh.   Our eyes need to be on Him.  Our eyes need to be focused on the Instructor.

When our eyes get a little off focus, when the world or cares of this world petition for our attention, or when we are tempted to look inward, I pray we would heed the Voice that gently reminds, "Eyes on Who?"

May we respond humbly, with certainty, knowing His loving eyes never leave us, "Eyes on You, Jesus. Eyes on You."
 








Monday, April 9, 2012

That's the Way the Cake Crumbles

Every year for our Easter celebration I make a bunny cake.  The bunny cake is in memory of my sweet Grandma Mary who passed away in 2004.  The memories of celebrating Easter at her home growing up are precious and fond.  The tradition of the bunny cake started with a "God Kiss" several years ago. Click on "God Kiss" to read about the special gift God gave me one Easter.

This past Saturday, I again set out to make my traditional bunny cake.  My husband's favorite cake is white, so that was the cake mix I decided to use.  I don't know if I didn't mix the ingredients quite right.  I think all the ingredients were in the cake.  Well, whatever the reason, it didn't quite turn out as planned.....





The bunny started to crumble and there was no fixing him.  Poor bunny.

However, when you make 2 round cakes, the best part is that you have another cake!  When I was taking the second one out of the pan, it also fell apart.  Thankfully, I was able to salvage it enough to put it back in the pan in one piece.  I took some colorful licorice from the kid's Easter eggs found at a hunt and used it to write

JESUS IS ALIVE

with a cross made out of licorice on the bottom.  I did have a picture of it to show you, but it got deleted.  : (   Trust me, it was beautiful!  Can you picture it? 

So, we turned the crumbly bunny cake into a beautiful "Jesus is Alive" cake.  Appropriate.  Symbolic. 

A bunny is no substitute for the real meaning of Easter. 

Everywhere we look, we see vibrant Easter eggs and bunnies.  We see pastel decorations and signs with HAPPY EASTER written in large letters with huge bunnies.  Neighborhoods boast large eggs and stuffed bunnies.  Among all the varieties of colorful grass, eggs, bunnies, chicks, and candy, where is Jesus? 

Don't misunderstand, I am all for fun and our kids do Easter egg hunts with eggs filled with candy.  I even make a bunny cake every year. 

However, if the focus is the bunny, the most important ingredient is missing!  And as a result, your life will crumble.  

"All flesh is as grass, 
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers, 
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever."  1 Peter 1:24-25 

Everything this world has to offer will crumble away.  Everything in this world will fall.  The Word of the Lord is all that will remain forever.  It is the rock on which we need to build our lives to keep them from crumbling.

It grieves my spirit when I see many in the world reducing the awesome price Jesus paid to redeem us from sin and death to a fluffy bunny holding an basket.  An empty basket can never satisfy what aches in our souls. Only the empty grave and a resurrected Savior can satisfy the unquenchable voids in our hearts.  The eggs are stuffed with earthly treasures while neglecting the Treasure God gave us on the cross.  The colorful grass will wither and fade away.  

Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross.  He endured immense pain and suffering.  He was whipped countless times.  He was beaten until He was unrecognizable as a man. He was spat at and mocked.  A crown of thorns was pressed into His head.  Nails were pounded into His hands and feet.  Then, He suffered the slow, painful death of crucifixion.  All this and more, yet, the world remembers a bunny?  

He did nothing wrong, nothing to deserve that punishment!  I deserved it.  He died for me.  He died for you. He endured the cross so that we could be forgiven and live free.  

I pray I never forget where I was and how He saved me.  My life was a crumbly mess until Jesus picked up the pieces, put them back together and made it beautiful.  He will do the same with yours if you allow Him.  If your life feels like a crumbly mess, give it to Him.  He will give you a new, beautiful life.   A Jesus is Alive life!








Monday, April 2, 2012

Detours

Detours....don't you love them?!  Yes, I am being slightly sarcastic.

The other day, I was heading out the door.  We started out on time, but then Sarah couldn't find her shoes.  Then, she found one of the shoes, but the other was M.I.A.  We finally decided to ditch those shoes and settle for the ones that didn't quite match her outfit.  By that time, we were running a few minutes late.  No problem, I knew a short cut.  I took the new shorter route recommended by my wonderful and directionally-gifted husband.  Then, right in the middle of the "short cut", there it was, in big bold black letters upon a bright orange backdrop....DETOUR.



The very word made me feel anxious.

Oh, not today.  I don't know where I am going on this new route.  Where am I going to end up? I hope it doesn't take too much longer.  

I mentioned that my husband is directionally-gifted.  I am not.   So, it makes me a tad nervous when I don't know where I am or where I am headed.  Plus, I was already running late due to the case of the missing shoe.  I tried to just stay calm and talk to myself.  Learning how to self-talk is vital for victory.   Just trust God.  Maybe there is a reason for this detour.  It will be ok if I am late, it is not a big deal.  
Why?!  Why did there have to be a detour?!  What is the deal? No, it will be ok.  No big deal.  I'm sure it ends up near where I am going.  (I hope.)  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  Prov 3:6.   


Detours may seem inconvenient at the time, but they are in place for our protection.  When I leaned on my own understanding, all I could think about was the inconvenience this detour was causing me.  The same is true when we are walking with the Lord and he leads us down an unexpected path.  Our own understanding causes us to initially get anxious with questions.  I don't know where I am going.  Where am I going to end up?  Why?!  What is the deal with this detour?

It catches us off guard and we feel like we might be going in the wrong direction.  However, it is in those times that we need to trust the One who knows the beginning and the end.  His sense of direction is perfect, and He will never lead us in the wrong direction.  His detours are always with a purpose.  




















 
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