Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Gift of Opportunity

"But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."  James 1:4

Many of you may have seen the movie War Room that was released in theaters this summer.  It is now out on DVD and Blue-Ray.  This movie was more than a theatric performance, it was a gift wrapped in truth.  Since this movie, I have been more intentional on writing out prayers based on scriptures to address specific needs and concerns regarding myself and others.

Before I share more, I want to clarify that my marriage is good and my husband is incredible.  I love him dearly.  At the time the movie came out, I was struggling with insecurity and perceiving my husband's words in ways he didn't intend.  I was constantly anxious, afraid he would reject me.  These fears were based solely on insecurity and lies from the enemy and not based in truth or reality in any way. A friend suggested I begin praying 1 Corinthians 13.

In my struggling, I decided to write a prayer, like suggested in War Room, that I will share with you today in hopes that it might help someone else.

Lord, may I be patient and kind, not envious, that I would not boast, nor be proud or rude.  I pray I would not dishonor others, seek my own and would not easily get angry.  I pray I would not only seek out my own interests, but also the interests the others.  I pray I would not keep a record of wrongs, not delight in evil but rejoice in truth.  I pray I would protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere knowing your love never fails (1 Cor 13).  Lord, I pray I would joyfully submit to my husband.  I pray Chris would always love me as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her.  Lord, help me respect Chris at all times and communicate my respect for him effectively (Ephesians 5:25,33).  I pray our marriage would be rooted and established in love (Ephesians 3:17).  That our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so we can discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10).  Father, I pray we would love each other deeply and that love would cover a multitude of sins.  I pray we would love one another with 1 Cor 13 love, your love.  I pray we would remain in your love (John 15:9) and I pray Chris and I would not love the world or anything in the world (1John 2:15).  Help us honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10).  We pray for our love to increase and overflow for each other.  May our home be full of your grace, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

What happened as a result of this prayer?  Have you seen the movie Evan Almighty? It is no War Room and perhaps theologically off a bit, but still had a good message and one line perfectly illustrates my point:

"Let me ask you something.  If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?  If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous?  If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" 

The Lord answered my prayer above by giving me the gift of opportunity.  My husband ended up partially tearing his Achilles tendon.  Did the Lord cause that?  I don't believe so.   Did the Lord use it?  Yes.

Suddenly I was in a place were I had to put my husband's needs before my own.  I had to look out for his interests above my own.  I had to serve my husband in new ways such as driving him to appointments and doing the daily things he normally would have done independently.  I was given the opportunity to convey my love for him in new ways.  I was given opportunity to lay down my life for his.  It wasn't the way I expected the Lord to answer my prayer.  Did the Lord answer my prayer?  Absolutely.  Our marriage is better than ever.  Our love is greater than before.

People will warn you not to pray for patience.  My dear friends, pray for patience and all the other good things of the Lord.  He is faithful and gentle.  The results may not come in a nicely decorated package, but the gift of opportunity will be worth any effort needed to unwrap the beauty inside (that is inside of you).  


Merry Christmas!  May the Joy of Jesus fill you this Christmas season!

With Love,


 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Season of Misses

Logging into my blog just now, I couldn't help but notice the date of October 23rd being the last post written.  Sweet friends, that is too long to go without saying hello.  My deepest apologies.  

This post has been stirring in my heart for a month or so.  A Season of Misses.  

And now it is the Christmas season, and I believe under all the decking of halls and silver bells, our hearts are ringing with: 


"Lord, don't let me miss this.  Don't let me miss You this season.


Business is a word that would have defined my life a few months ago. That is until the Lord gave me a "season of misses."  Below are a few things scheduled until the Lord changed all my plans.  These are some of my "misses":

A weekend away at a women's conference.  Spending sweet time with dear friends at the conference. A weekend away ministering at the Deeper Still Ministry retreat.  A weekend women's conference in my home city.  Going to my aunt's funeral,  Speaking at a women's event.  Going to visit my family in Illinois.  Hearing a good friend speak at a women's conference.  Going to the mom's group at my church.  Going with my family to visit dear friends who moved away.  

This list is just some of the "misses" in the past two months.  I am sure I cannot remember all of them.   Why did I miss them?  Life.  A husband with a torn Achilles and sickness in our family the whole month of October.   

At first my heart was heavy with misses.  But Lord, I really wanted to go to that ministry event.  But Lord, I love Deeper Still.  But Lord, I really miss my family.  But Lord. I really wanted to go to my aunt's funeral.  And hear my friend speak, and spend time with the ladies at church.  But Lord...

Then, my perspective changed.  Perhaps my misses were not misses at all but rather the Lord redirecting my call.  

Sue, where is your heart?  Do you hold up any of these as idols in place of Me?  Let's take a pause and step back so you can realign yourself with my best for you.  

"Look here, you people who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there for a year.  We will do business there and make a profit.'  How do you know what will happen tomorrow?  For your life is like a morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone.  What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.'  Otherwise, you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil."  James 4:13-16

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and he will direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

This season of misses turned out to be one of the best things that has happened for me.  He has been teaching me to pause, to ask for His direction and turn my eyes towards Him.  

This Christmas season, I pray we will set aside time to reflect on and cherish the true Gift of this season.  All the tinsel and parties and holiday events are fun, but too much business will cause this season to pass and we'll miss the One thing we need the most.  Let's not miss the Person for the sake of celebration.  Fully embracing Him and His glory is worth any misses.  I'll gladly miss if it means gaining Christ.    



Friday, October 23, 2015

The Skin of Jesus

"'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second one, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29

In a conversation with a friend recently, she shared a profound statement someone advanced in years had relayed to her.  It was simple.  It was pure.

"I have found that only two things really matter.  That we love Jesus and that we take care of each other." 

The statement stuck.  It basically is the two commandments summarized.

Yet, in church,in life, we have so many programs and busyness grasping for our time that often these two things, the most important things according to Jesus, get pushed aside unintentionally.

Our busyness feeds ourselves until literally "our plates are full", as we so often say.  What we have left to give our neighbors is quite often crumbs to nothing at all.

I'm not here to point fingers.  I am guilty as well.

This past week, however, the Lord has been showing me the importance in this commandment.  The importance of this action.

I have been very sick.  Finally, at midweek, I was rightly diagnosed with pneumonia and possibly mono and placed on stronger antiobiotics.  I am just now beginning to feel slightly normal, but still coughing and weak.  While sick, the importance and truth of the statement above hit home.

Very often, people need not only the words of Jesus, but also the skin of Jesus.  Jesus cared for people.  Jesus stopped.  Jesus interrupted His plans to help.  Jesus loved.  Jesus loves.

In the body of Christ, we often talk about what part of the "body" we are.  Are we a mouth that speaks truth with boldness and proclaims the gospel?  Are we a foot that goes to spread the ministry of the gospel across lands?  Are we a hand that serves in the local church or at a local ministry? All of these are good and needed.  All parts are needed  (1 Cor 12:14-26).  And all the parts should care for the other parts as it says in 1 Cor 12:25-26.  No matter what our callings or giftings are, we are all called to be the skin of Jesus.

Being the skin of Jesus is acting, is going and loving and showing care to one another. It is my prayer for the Lord to help me do this, this very important commandment well.

The first step might be to get our plates not nearly as full so we have more than crumbs to give to our neighbors.  Just a thought.  For you, loving your neighbor might begin with being more present with your own family or it might mean literally getting to know a neighbor.  It could mean reaching out to a friend and seeing how they are doing (not on the surface, but really how they're doing.)

For me, I know it means being more intentional about listening to what people are going through and sincerely seeking how I can help.  Brining a meal can speaks volumes of love to someone hurting or sick.  Texting a friend to say, "I love you and I'm praying for you" can be a powerful testimony of Christ's love.  We just need each other.  My friend's friend rephrased the two commandments so simply...

"I have found that only two things really matter.  That we love Jesus and that we take care of each other." 

This really sums up all that matters.  How can you be the skin of Jesus to someone today?

Dear Lord, I want to follow you.  Lord, help me love you with all my heart, soul and mind and then help me truly and sincerely love my neighbor as myself.  Lord, forgive me for being selfish and filling my plate to the point of having no more room left to give to those in need.  Father, help me love others well.  Help me be the Your skin to someone today.   In Jesus' Name, Amen.





Friday, October 9, 2015

A Closer Look at Our Fear


"He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells in Him." Daniel 2:22

My son nervously asked me to come into his room.  He hesitantly directed me to look at his window and asked, "Mom, do you see those two lights through the window that look like eyes?"  Immediately I saw what he was referring to and went over to the window.

One thing I have found through the years is to dispel a fear, you have to face it.

Admittedly, the two lights did appear a little freaky.  However, upon a closer examination, I discovered the source of the illuminated illusion.  Somehow the reflection off a shiny black object in his room had hit the window at just the right angle to appear to be two eyes on the other side.

Many of the fears we hold are similar to that of my ten year old son. His fear was only an illusion of something real.  His fear was not based on truth, but rather a lie held in his mind.  There were no eyes in the window, but rather just a reflection.

There are fears we hold which have no physical substance but rather are merely a reflection of a lie we have held onto from something in our past.

Busyness or being too fearful of what we might find by taking a closer look into the window of our souls may keep us from the window. Instead we just pull down the shades and pretend we have no fear of what is on the other side.   Whatever the reason for our lack of pursuit of extinguishing our fear, we are walking around in bondage as a result.

Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at our fears.

What I am starting to discover is that if we will just take a closer look into the dark window, we will find the root of the issue.  We can uncover the truth of what lies in the dark and bring it into the light of God's Word.  When fear is brought into the light of God's Word, His truth will shatter the darkness and fear will lose its hold.

My son is no longer afraid of his window or what is outside in the dark.  Just as I led my son to take a closer look into the darkness to dispel his fear, I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord to reveal the hidden things in the dark that are causing you fear.  Ask Him to show you what lies you are believing and seek His truth.  Fear will disappear in the light of His truth.

Revelant Scriptures:

Isaiah 41:10  "Fear not, for I am with you;  Be not dismayed, for I am your god.  I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Holes Don't Bother Me

Our lawn has holes in it. Patches where once beautiful, green grass laid are now barren and brown.

Our lawn has been on a journey.  For years, we have longed for luscious velvety soft grass.  In the past year or so, my heart rejoiced in the fruition of our green dreams becoming a reality.  That was until the holes.

Crab grass began creeping in our perfect picturesque landscape.  Those ugly crab heads spread in spite of conscientious care.  It seemed like they just appeared out of nowhere and nothing was working to crush the crabs.  My wonderful husband had to take matters into his own hands and dig up the weeds, leaving our grass looking like a green dalmatian with dirt brown spots.



This picture only shows some of the holes.  There are more. {smile}  However, I have to tell you, the holes don't bother me.  They might have in the past, but now I can see the beauty in the holes.  Here is what I know:

I know these holes are only temporary.

I know new grass will be planted and will fill the once weed ridden spaces with new life.

The holes represent the old being taken out making room for new.  Although there may be a time when it looks barren and spotty, there is a fresh newness that will spring up.

I am sure you are seeing the analogy in this imagery to our lives in Christ.

We have holes.  Our holes may be a result of weeds in our lives.  Maybe we have already dug up the weeds but there are still barren spots while we wait for fresh new grass to grow.

God is filling your holes.  He fills your holes and makes you whole.  He is planting and tending to those places of barrenness.

What are your holes?  I would love to hear from you today and pray for you.  God is not afraid of your holes and neither am I.  Holes don't bother me.  New life is coming.

Relevant Scripture(s):

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth."  Isaiah 43:18-19a

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phillipians 1:6






Monday, July 27, 2015

Does Planned Parenthood Care No Matter What?


My heart pounded as we entered the door of Planned Parenthood.  Anxiousness hovered over me like a dark cloud on a dreary day.  I walked to the desk to sign in.  The lady behind the counter measured up my fear and quickly suggested a pill to ease my nerves.  She handed me the pill and water.  Within moments, lightness overtook the heaviness of dread.  I couldn’t feel.  Everything seemed funny.  Then my name was called…from that point on, nothing was funny.

A nurse escorted me down a long hallway and into a cold sterile room.  There was a metal table.  I knew immediately I wanted to leave, but it seemed too late.  Then pain.  Screams.  Wailing.  Uncontrollable tears. 

Then it was over.   I was no longer pregnant.  In the waiting room, I knew…I knew what I had done was wrong.  I had tried to convince myself that it was only tissue.  I had tried to convince myself it was only a blob of nothingness.  My baby was 11 weeks old when I aborted.
 
At 11 weeks old, she had hands, feet, fingers, and toes.  Babies can be seen dancing and playing in the womb at 11 weeks old.  

Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t I know? Would it have mattered?  I’d like to hope so.
 
In April 2014, I went back to visit that Planned Parenthood for the first time in twenty-one years to pray healing over the land.  Karen Ellison, the founder of Deeper Still and some other Deeper Still team members and long time friend, Jill Balkema, walked around the building with me looking for a spot to pray.  The building had an aura of decay and death even evidenced by its outward appearance.  It was as if the death that happened on the inside of the building couldn’t help but seep through and spread to the outer as a wound bleeding inside rises to the surface as a discolored and eye-sore bruise.  



With the door in sight, my only thought was, “I wish I would have never opened that door. “ Then, as we prayed, the sign by the door was brought to my attention.  “Care. No matter what.”

I wonder?  Do they really care no matter what?  What about the lives lost daily?  What of the women left wounded who come into their doors?  What about those standing outside crying because of a choice made years ago?  If I had told them my story and how an abortion nearly destroyed me, would they had listened?  If they read this post, how would they respond?
 
Please don’t misunderstand.  I don’t blame them.  It was my choice.  My question is a rhetorical one.  The answer…an obvious one. 

Planned Parenthood has been in the news much lately as the public has gained knowledge of their practices in harvesting and selling aborted fetal tissue.  Planned Parenthood received $528 million dollars last year of tax payer’s money or $1.4 million per day (Lifenews.com).  Congress is in the process of trying to bring a vote to the floor to have Planned Parenthood defunded by tax dollars. Let us continue to pray for the lies to stop and truth to surface. 

That day in April 2014, as we stood outside Planned Parenthood in Champaign, IL and prayed, a lady came out and asked us to leave.  Did that lady care why I was outside crying? Twenty-one years of heartbreak and pain.  Twenty-one years of “what if”.  Twenty-one years of wishing I had never walked through that door.  A twenty-year-old girl I will never see this side of heaven. 

“Care.  No Matter What. “?   It is time for truth. 

Please join me in praying for truth to prevail and click on the link below to sign the petition for Planner Parenthood to be defunded.

Oh Heavenly Father, we come to you today on behalf of our nation.  The governments and rulers of our nation have created laws against You and against Your anointed.  Oh Lord, we as a people have allowed them and have bowed down to the idols of selfishness and self-reliance.  We have sacrificed our sons and daughters on the altars of self-interest.  Oh Father, we ask for you to hear our cry and forgive us and forgive our land.  We ask for You to speak and for truth to be unveiled and justice to come.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.












Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Told My Friend She was Ok to be Gay {And Why I Regret It}


She sat across from me at McDonald's.  I knew it was important.  She needed to talk to me.  Desperation poured from her lips as she sought my advice ( for some reason, she thought Miss Poor Decisions 1994 was the perfect person to ask.)

My friend was married.  She and her husband had a child together.  I never expected the words that flowed from her mouth that day.

She began to explain how she was attracted to another girl and she wasn't sure what to do about it or if she should tell her husband. 

I will always regret what I said to her that day.

Please don't judge me for what I'm about to disclose.  I was twenty.  Lost.  Remember Miss Poor Decisions 1994?  Yes.  I could have been crowned. 

My advise to her:  Follow your heart. You deserve to be happy.  Tell your husband. 

My heart aches typing those words.  Lord, forgive me.  Forgive me of any part I had in wrecking a marriage, hurting a child, and hurting my friend by encouraging her to go down a destructive path paved with sin. 

Why do I share this with you today?  Because I know I'm not the only one who will ever have this conversation.  And I want to help you make a better choice. 

To my friend, please forgive me for not having the courage nor the wisdom to have led you to a life-giving choice.

Here is what I wish I would have said to you that day twenty-one years ago:

Don't go there.  If you choose to go down that path, it will be full of heartache and brokenness. Resist the temptation. Run toward God.  Love your husband.  Love your child.  Be the best wife you can be to him.  Pray for your husband and marriage.  Pray for your child.  Go to church.  God loves you and wants to deliver you from temptation and sin.  God has such a good plan for you.  Choose Him.   

There is much controversy around the gay marriage issue and I have mostly remained silent on it until now.  Regardless of your position, I want you to consider this question: 

Which advice is truly the most loving?

I saw my friend a few years later.  She had traded her beautiful long black hair for a short bleached butch cut.  She was with the girl she had told me about.  Her daughter in tow.  My heart sank the moment I saw them.  She had followed my ill-given advice.  I thought it was the loving and accepting answer. 

Encouraging others to go against the Word of God is never loving nor accepting, it is dangerous.

What was my friend really desperate for that day?  Approval or rescue?  I believe she knew she was about to jump off a cliff and was crying out for someone to stop her.  Instead, sadly, I gave her a push. 

For those who say Christians are full of hate for not agreeing with homosexual marriage are misinformed.  It is because we love that we are against it.  I personally know the bondage of living in sin (and homosexual sex is sin) (Leviticus 20:10-18, 1 Tim 1: 8-11, Rom 1:24-28) and I want all people to experience living in the fullness of God and freedom in Christ.  Sin hinders our relationship with God.  I have lived both ways.  Trust me, freedom is decidedly better! 

Will you join me in displaying love by praying for my friend from twenty-one years ago? 

Father, I pray for this friend.  I don't know how she is or where she is but you do.  I thank you that you love her so much and that you laid her on my heart this day.  Lord, I pray for you to help her.  I pray for her to come into a life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  I pray for you to rescue her and deliver her from bondage and free her from sin.  Lord, I pray for you to work in her life in miraculous ways and reveal yourself to her mightily.  Lord, save her and her family. And I pray for salvation and healing for her, her child, her husband and the other girl.  In Jesus' Name, Amen












Saturday, June 27, 2015

Checking Motives


While cuddling and reading devotions with my eight-year-old, Philippians 1:15 tore my heart wide open.

"Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel."  Phillipians 1:15-17

Pressure for platform and numbers can distract attention.  The moment envy rises its ugly green head in our hearts when it comes to fellow ambassadors of the gospel, we can be sure Phil 1:15 isn't far from describing our state.

As ministers of the gospel of Christ, we need to be keenly aware of our motives.  And this not only goes for ministers, but every service in the church body.  There is a key question we must continue to ask ourselves...Why do we do what we do? 

Do we like the attention?

Does it make us feel good about ourselves?

Money?

Is position and favor our conquest? 

There are other questions to ask as well.  But, there should only be one answer.  The only reason for proclaiming the gospel of Christ is simply to preach Christ.

Thankfully whatever the motives, still Christ is preached, as Paul admirably points out in Phil 1:18.

"What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in trust, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."

Anyone is subject to fall.  Anyone at any time can be tempted with envy and jealousy.  No one is immune.  We are all human.  We just all need to be aware.

Do you find yourself comparing your ministry to others?  Check your motives.

Do you find yourself begrudging the fruit in others' lives?  Check your motives.

Do you think you are right in how you do things and others are wrong?  Check your motives.

Do you ever feel like someone "stole" something or someone from you?  Check your motives.

At the beginning of this post, I shared an intimate confession. The Lord used Phil 1:15 to reveal an area of sin in my life.  This sin broke my heart.  And as a fellow sojourner in Christ, my heart is to help others avoid the pitfalls along the journey.

My prayer is that our goal and aim would be One.  My prayer is that all believers in Christ could be joined together in unity rather than me-nity, focused on others and the Kindgom of God rather than self.

It starts with each person doing a heart check and walking in love with one another.  It starts with me. It starts with you.

Father, cleanse my heart and renew a right spirit within me.  Lord, may my only motive be Christ and Christ alone.  Forgive me for times I have been envious of my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.  Forgive me Lord and rid me of pride and selfishness.  Lord, I pray that as Your children, we would love each other and encourage each other along this journey.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.    




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Forget to Enter to Win!

Friday morning I am giving away a prayer journal!  Don't forget to enter to win.  Click this link below to see how to win!

http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2015/06/results-or-relationship-and-giveaway.html

Also, I posted a new post today on the other blog I write, Deeper Still Devotions.  Click the link below to read this post.

www.deeperstilldevotions.blogspot.com


Blessings to you!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Results or Relationship {And a Giveaway!!}


As soon as my fingers typed the word, I felt a check in my spirit. ...Results. 

The message was a text message sent to a friend as we ping ponged opinions on a theological concept that I won't go into here.

The sentence I typed was along the lines of, "I have gotten good results with this."   This referring to the theological concept and a posture of prayer.  

WHAT???!!!!

Results.  I was sick to my stomach.  Is that what prayer is about?  Is that why I pray?

Do I pray to get results or do I pray to cultivate a relationship?

I think this is a very good question, not just for me.

God doesn't have a problem with us praying with expectation of results.  In fact, He honors those prayers and answers them.  However, if results are the only reason for our prayers, there is a problem.

For instance, what if your children only came to you every time they wanted something.  What if they were only talking to you for results and did nothing to nurture a loving relationship with you?

Being the good parent you are, you would be happy they were talking to you and most likely honor their requests.  However, would you be grieved?  Would it sadden you that results were their priority over relationship?

I believe our heavenly Father is grieved with the number of His children who either never or rarely speak to Him.  I believe it grieves His loving Father's heart.

Friends, I want to encourage you to get a journal and write letters to your Father.  Then listen.  Listen for a response.  Then write His response.  Journaling is one way I speak to, listen and hear the Holy Spirit.

The Lord wants to speak to you.  He wants that relationship with you.  Please don't understand.  It isn't wrong for you to pray expecting Him to answer.  Yes.  Prayer Works.  Prayer bring results.  Let's just not let results be our exclusive focus.  He longs for you to know Him intimately.  He longs for relationship.

"But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33

"Seek the Lord and His strength;  Seek His face evermore." Psalm 105:4

"When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."  Psalm 27: 8

"But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all  your soul."  Deuteronomy 4:29

This week, I want to help one of you cultivate your relationship with the Father by giving away a prayer journal.  You can enter to win by one of three ways:

1.  "Like" my facebook page.
2.    Invite 10 others your know to like my page.
3.    Share a post.

If you invite others or share a post, please comment below or send me a Facebook message to let me know. I will randomly select a winner from all who entered by drawing a name on Friday morning at 8 am.  

 How fun!!!  










Monday, May 25, 2015

Stop Praying

It was an early morning run.  My friend and I met up, shoes laced and pavement ahead.  Running can be therapeutic, especially with a friend.  As we ran, we talked about life, about God, about our struggles and our victories.  Friendship is a beautiful thing and I'm very thankful for this friend.

That morning she shared how she had been praying and praying about something for years, to the point where she was beginning to get discouraged about this one area in her life.  I listened.  Then, two words, almost counter intuitive, rose up inside of me.  They could seem shocking or even blasphemous...

Stop Praying.

I'm sure my friend thought I had lost my mind on the last hill during those three miles.

Before you start thinking this girl just took the oxy out of oxymoron...

"Answer this question:  Does the God who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does He do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust Him to do them in you?" Galations 3:5-6 MSG

My point is actually not to stop praying.  In fact, that would be not be Biblical.  We are called to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5: 17).  However, what does praying without ceasing look like?  Isn't is just continual conversation with the Lord about all things, then trusting Him to work out everything together for our good? (Romans 8:28).

Yes. Pray. Please. Pray.  But...  After you have prayed, there comes a time when you must enter in His rest and just trust.

Does the Lord who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things out in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does He do these things because of your striving or because you trust Him?

The answer is simple.  Trust.

It isn't up to you! Now, that is liberating! 













Monday, May 11, 2015

Fear Steals

Fear steals.

The sun shone down warming my shoulders as we road a ski lift up to the top of a fanciful water amusement park.  At the top was a mountain plunging a near vertical 12 story drop!  However, the water monstrosity didn't scare me nearly as much as the ski lift to the top.




I never have noticed a fear of heights in me, but that day, fear was there.  All around me was beauty and a magnificent view as we scaled higher above the trees.  However, the beauty all around me escaped my vision due to fear. 


But, that is what fear does.  Fear steals.  Fear steals the beauty around us and causes us to focus inward instead of looking outward.  

Fear of rejection causes us to focus on our own insecurities instead of the beauty of the people around us.  

Fear of failure can cause us to cower instead of step out in adventure and risk.  Fear of failure can also steal our destiny if left to overtake us.   

Fear of abandonment can cause us to miss intimacy in relationships and open ourselves up to the beautiful friendships the Lord has placed in our lives.  

Fear of the unexpected can paralyze us right out of God's perfect will. 

Fear causes us to miss out on the blessings God has placed all around us.  

And fear of heights can cause us to miss out on the amazing God-given views above our eye level. 

Plain and simply fear steals. From views to value to valor to vulnerability, fear keeps us from freedom.  

Instead of allowing fear to hold us in chains, we need to take fear captive.  

I pray we would rise up with courage, cast down our fear and stand firm in God's love and care.  Fear, we are onto you.  We know how you come to steal.  You are a thief and thieves belong behind bars.  

"We demolish arguments and very pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10:5 

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love him because he first loved us."  1 John 5:18-19

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalm 27:1

















Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jill and Tilly

Shortly after I became a Christian, in 1998, the Lord led me to a Bible study with two other ladies from my Sunday school class at church.  It was such a blessing because I really wanted to grow and develop strong Christian friendships.  Due to my past, I didn't feel worthy of Christian friendships and thought anyone in my Sunday school class would surely reject me if they truly knew about my past.

One day at Bible study, my friend, Jill, asked us to pray for a friend of hers who was considering having an abortion.  I said I would pray.  As I began praying, tears began to fall.  Tears turned into sobs to the point where I could hardly even pray.  I apologized and quickly brushed it off as just getting emotional about praying.

That night, the phone rang.  I answered the phone and it was Jill.  She said, "Sue, the Holy Spirit wanted me to call you.  I feel like He wanted me to ask you if you have had an abortion."

Pause.

My heart pounded as I softly answered, "Yes."

Jill was the first Christian friend I had ever told.  She was the first person I had shared openly with about the abortion other than my husband

The response I received from my friend that night was life changing.  I expected that if my Christian friends knew the truth, they would reject me and condemn me.  The enemy had me believing a lie and it was the furthest thing from the truth.  Jill extended so much grace and love to me that night.  My heart began healing that very night, and all because my friend was obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit and made a phone call.

The Lord was at work and the next week, I was listening to the Focus on the Family radio program when the story of Tilly by Frank Peretti came on the air.  Again, my heart softened and began to heal.  The Lord was revealing that He was at work and wanted to heal my heart.  I can't explain it, but to know the Lord loved me so much and was so interested in healing me, overwhelmed me.  I remember sitting there on the floor of my apartment, on my knees, listening to Tilly, tears flowing and wondering how could this be that the Lord would want to heal me.

He does heal.  And not only does He heal, He desires to heal.  He is very involved in your life and interested in your healing.  Healing is most often times a process.  Just like the couple of steps I just shared with you.  There have been many more steps since that first year the Lord began my healing. And although I have had much healing, I know the Lord continues to heal me even now.

I don't believe we will be finished here on earth.  It is an ever-going process with the Lord.  But, the day is coming when we will be complete in Him.  And oh what a glorious day that will be!

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6

Lord, I thank You for Your promise that You will complete the good work You begin in us.  Lord, I pray for those who maybe feel like they haven't started the process.  Lord, I pray for you to bring them their Jill and Tilly.  I pray for You to lead them and guide them in the next step and in every step towards complete healing in You.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 









Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Catching Up and a Little Diving


Hey Friends,

First of all, I want to start today with a letter before my post to apologize for not writing on here for three weeks!  I don't recall ever going that long in the four years I have been writing without posting something on here.  Life has been busy and crazy and I just flat out have not had much time to write.

My dad had surgery a few weeks ago and then had to undergo the same surgery again due to complications.  Much of my emotional energy has gone into what is happening with him.  But I want you to know I haven't forgotten you and I love you all very much.  The Lord continually shows me that I am in His will with writing and to continue no matter the results at this time.  So with all that being said, I am happy to be back with you today and pray for the words the Lord gives me to bless you and encourage you to continually live free in Him.

Love,
Sue

I am currently leading the Bible study, Children of the Day by Beth Moore, and I wanted to share something the Lord showed me the other day.

"We have access to the Holy Spirit welling up in us like a spring. Tapping into Him requires deliberation and cooperation so God can love through us. Like me, you've probably asked Him to love through you, then fizzled out within the hour. Here's the catch: we cannot love when we perceive ourselves as unloved. We cannot offer to others what we don't possess."

Jude 21 says, 'Keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.' That means practicing the mindset of being profusely loved by God. We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping in the sea. Actively engaging in His unending, extravagant, no strings - attached affection for you is not narcissism.  It's necessary. It can mean our survival when we're faced with loving the loveless." -Beth Moore

I loved this! "We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping into the sea." 

We must plunge into the depths of His love!

The Lord said to me, "Sue, this is what you must understand, know, and believe...YOU ARE LOVED. You cannot love well unless you know YOU ARE LOVED."

It seems so elementary, but I think here in lies the mystery of why loving is sometimes hard. We forget how loved we are by the very Creator of the Universe!

At times, we may feel rejected, judged, unaccepted, overlooked, hurt or abandoned by others. However, when we are submerged in the depth of His love and know we are loved, it is a protective covering that deflects the darts of unlove.

He will never reject.  He will never hurt. He will never abandon. He only loves.

YOU ARE LOVED.  


Friday, April 3, 2015

Stoop and Look


"But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb." John 20:11

Mary stood outside the empty tomb weeping.  She knew the tomb was empty, but only by stooping down and looking into the tomb did she receive the revelation of glory!  The tomb was empty because Jesus is alive!

Without the belief that Jesus is alive, Mary had no hope.

The word "stoop" is parakypto in Greek and it means "To look at with head bowed forward."

Mary received hope because she stooped or bowed her head forward.  "Stoop" seems to me to be a kneeling position, the position of prayer.  In the position of prayer, her viewpoint eventually changed.

Her understanding came as she knelt down and sought answers, slowly, each step revealing new enlightenment.  She could not see the True Hope was right there in front of her. Hope was literally right there in front of her eyes.  Jesus was standing there...ALIVE!  

"Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus." John 20:14

Friends, I want you to know that Jesus is standing right in front of you.  I know you may feel empty inside, but as long as the tomb is empty, we can be full!

The tomb is empty because Jesus is alive!  Your circumstances may look dismal and bleak.  It may appear that all hope is lost, but Hope is standing right there!

Bow your head and eventually everything will become clear.  You will see Hope standing right in front of you.  

Do you know what I love about Jesus?  No weeping is insignificant.  No tears are misplaced.  He is standing by His beloved even when our vision is fogged or faulty.  Even when we are blinded to His presence right in front of our eyes, He calls. He waits. He answers.

The Living Hope is standing right in front of you today.  We soberly remember Good Friday and the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus.  We reflect on the price paid for our freedom and salvation.
And we celebrate His glory and victory over sin and death!  We celebrate the empty tomb!  Jesus is not in the grave.  He is alive and standing right in front of us!

Stoop down and look.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!!!  He is ALIVE!!!








Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Endings

The other night I was reading to my daughter from her Little Princess Devotional when my daughter asked me a question:

What is hope and faith?

We had just seen recent blockbuster Cinderella.  Therefore, with fairy tales fresh on the mind, I explained hope and faith in the best way I thought an eight year old could understand.

Hope is to believe in a happy ending.





"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 NIV  

Biblical "hope" is having a confident expectation of a positive outcome.

Therefore, to have faith is to believe or have a confident expectation of a positive outcome when the evidence is not yet seen.

In the movie Cinderella, there is a point when Cinderella nearly loses her hope.  She almost can't believe in her happy ending.  But, we all know what happens, don't we?  Yes.  Her fairy God-mother shows up!

Sometimes in our lives, we may nearly lose all hope.  We may even feel like we can't go on and there is no use in trying.  It is at those times that we must not lose our hope.  We must continue to believe there is a happy ending.

Cinderella almost gave up.  If she had, it would have cost her a prince and a happiest of endings. Her prince came to her rescue and so will our Prince.

I love this picture of hope as believing in happy endings mostly because it is so simple and child-like.

The Lord says in His Word that we are to have faith as a child and come to Him as a child (Mark 10:15).  Believing is child-like faith.

I understand that life can be hard and your circumstances may look dismal.  In fact, perhaps you are at that place where you have almost lost all hope...hopelessness.  If that is you today, my hope and desire is to encourage you to have hope.  My aim is to encourage you that God has a good plan for you.

We play a part in writing our own stories.  Yes, we make choices daily.  We decide in what direction the plot will turn.  However, as long as our pens are in sync with the Author, we can rest assured He is guiding our story towards a happy ending.

This is the great mystery.  How do we write our own stories when there ultimately is a divine Author.  I may not be able to answer that question, but I do know the Author and I know He is good.

Sometimes our happy endings look different than how we would have written them, but He is a better writer than us  We need to trust the Author.

I trust the Author.

Lord, I trust you.  I pray my pen is hand in hand with Yours.  I thank you that I can be confident for the things I hope for because I can be confident in You.  Thank you Lord for happy endings.  I believe.  Amen. 

Hope...Believe...Trust






















Monday, March 23, 2015

Grace Runs Towards

"And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."  Luke 15:20

"Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing...But he was angry and would not go in.  Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him."  Luke 15:25, 28.  

Both of the verses above are found in Luke 15 in the story of the prodigal son.  If you haven't read the story before, I encourage you to go read Luke 15:11-32 now and then come back.  We'll wait.{smile}

Great story.  The first son had squandered away all his inheritance, he turned his back on his father and family and decided to live only for himself.  The second son stayed at home, was in sense "a good boy" and worked hard on the farm.

Who sinned?  Did the first son sin who wasted all he had on foolish living?  Did the second son sin who worked hard for his father?  Yes.  And Yes.

Both sons sinned.  In Romans 3:10, it says, "There is no one righteous, no not one."

Both sons were in need of grace.  So, let me ask you some questions...

Who is the Father for in this passage?  Who does the Father care more about?

The answer:  Both.

The Father is not for one of His sons and against another.  He is for both.  He desires both.

The body of Christ is not in competition with each other.  The second son in the passage made the mistake of thinking that if his father was for his first son, then he was somehow being robbed.

Not so.

And what I found so incredibly beautiful is how the father ran to both sons.

It says in the passage the father ran to his son even when he was still a great way off.  The Father will run to His sons and daughters even when they are still a great way off.   Grace runs towards.

And when the second son was also in sin and angry (and most likely self-righteous, prideful and jealous), the father didn't abandon him either.  "His father came out [to him] and pleaded with him." Grace moved toward this son as well.

Grace runs towards. 

What I want to point out in these verses is how in both cases the father moved towards his sons even when they were struggling with sin.

As Christians, I think we are sometimes afraid of those we see who are struggling with sin.  Maybe we are afraid we will "catch" the sin like a disease.  Or maybe we don't want to associate ourselves with those in sin in fear of what people like think of us.  Or maybe we are just full of self-righteousness and pride like the second son and think we are better than our brother.  Ouch.

The Bible does clearly warn us to be careful when attempting to restore a brother who has been in sin so we don't fall into temptation (Galations 6:1), however, it is only saying that to remind you that you too are prone to sin and no better than your brother.

If we can truly look at others with the eyes of grace, realizing that we are not better than others, I think we would be able to run towards our brothers with grace with open arms and loving hearts.

To abandon one when they are weak or in sin is to misunderstand the heart of God.  Grace runs towards the broken and lost.  

I am speaking to myself as well here.  I need this.  All I know is that when I was in the depth of sin, there was no one running toward me.  All I felt were people pushing me away.  How beautiful it would have been to have felt the loving breeze of grace running towards me in my greatest time of need.  I pray I would remember and be that breeze of grace for others.

Today, I want to encourage you to run towards someone.  Be that breeze of grace.  It may be just the breeze they need to lead them back to the Father.














Monday, March 9, 2015

Swimming with Sharks

Last summer my family and I went to Typhoon Lagoon, a water park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.  At this park, there is an attraction where you can literally swim with sharks. However, these sharks are "friendly", meaning they stay at the bottom on the diving tank and don't eat people.  I wouldn't want to swim with any other kind of sharks, only Disney sharks.

The other day, the Lord revealed to me that I have been swimming with sharks spiritually.  In contrast, these sharks are not like the ones at Disney.  They are not friendly, and to continue to swim with them will only lead to captivity and eventually death.

Swimming with the sharks is representative of living with a hidden sin.  In my case, this sin was unforgiveness.  I honestly didn't recognize the sin nor the danger until the Lord revealed to me I was swimming with sharks.

And eventually sharks devour. 

Sin is sneaky and often disguises itself as "friendly".  Sin will swim next to us pretending to be on our side, all the while leading us into a watery trap.

"Now the Serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, ' You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ' You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it; lest you die.'"  Genesis 3:1-3 (emphasis added)

The serpent pretended to be Eve's friend. Serpents and sharks are never our friends. He appeared to be wise and on her side, all the while luring her to her death.  The enemy isn't interested in just getting us to taste sin.  He wants to destroy.

If you have been swimming with a shark, big or small, I want you to join me in getting up out of the water.  Perhaps you are comfortable with your shark and he feels safe.  He isn't.  He is a shark!

Read the verses below and see how serious it is to swim with sin.

"But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." 1 John 2:11

"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:15

"See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.  Outside the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death." Lamenations 1:20

These verses are sobering.  Thankfully, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who helps us get up out of the shark infested waters.

"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."  1John 2:1-2

The Lord wants to help you out of the water.  He is walking out to you.  He is not afraid of your shark or your sin.  Take his hand and let him help you out of the water.  Ask Him for forgiveness.  Don't be led into the destructive trap set. Get out of shark infested waters! 

Serpents and sharks are never our friends. 



Father, I realize today that I have been swimming with sin.  Father, please forgive me for _________ and help me out of the water.  I don't want to continue in this sin.  I want to be free.  Help me Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 









  



  















Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stressed or Stretched




"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation;  He is my defense; I shall not be moved."  Psalm 62: 5

My friend and blogging cohort Becky Crenshaw introduced a new way to read through the book of Psalms in the month of March.  Click here to read more about it.

I am one of many following her lead in reading through Psalms.  Yesterday, one of the verses I read was the above verse, Psalm 62:5.

Lately, due to circumstances, I have felt a little stressed.  Stress is also why I haven't written as much here.  As I thought about how I have been stressed last night after reading this verse, these words resonated in my soul...

God doesn't call us to be stressed but rather stretched to rely on His strength.  

There is tension placed on a rubber band when stretched.  The strength of what is holding the band keeps it from moving.  The little rubber band is unaware of what is happening at first.  It may hurt.  It may feel uncomfortable. However, as it is being stretched, it grows.  It changes.  It expands.  It takes on a new shape as it is drawn in close to its holder.  The band takes on a new shape for a useful purpose.  This new shape can only be cultivated by the strength of its holder.

A rubber band left in a drawer may be comfortable, but it isn't fulfilling a purpose.

I'm sure you can tell where I am going with this.

God is our Holder.  He is our strength.  When we feel stressed, we are actually being stretched for a purpose.  It feels uncomfortable, but we can be certain He is holding us.  And as long as we trust in the Holder, we won't be moved.

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation;  He is my defense; I shall not be moved."  Psalm 62: 5 









Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I Share My Abortion Story?

It was a typical day.  I opened my email.  Inside was an email from someone who had found my blog and read my story.

Her words conveyed desperation.  She had also chose an abortion.  She longed for healing, but hopelessness dripped off her fingers as she expressed her pain and regret through words on a screen.

We spoke on the phone that day.  I pray the words the Lord gave me pumped hope into her hopelessness.  It was a divine connection.  God had ordained every word spoken or typed.  I pray she saw how intricately His loving hand was involved in her life.  God was reaching out to her to begin her healing journey.  This is our God.  This is our Father.  How He longs to fill us with His hope and healing and wholeness! It is up to us to take His hand.

She asked me a question that day.  She actually asked me many questions that day.  The Holy Spirit guided me in every answer.  The questions were good.  This question was good...

"Why do you share your story?"  

The words lingered in the air for only a brief second as I thought about this verse..."Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)

"Why do I share my story?"

What a fabulous question!  The answer surprising rolled right off my tongue as if I had rehearsed it over and over again...

My passion is to see women and men set free from the bondage of the sin of abortion or any sin for that matter.  I want to see my brothers and sisters in Christ living in freedom!  The enemy lies and tries to tie our identity to an event or a situation and straps us down with condemnation, guilt, and shame.  He lies to us about who we are and it makes me plum mad!  My heart is to see those wounded by abortion set free to be a voice of truth to spread light on the harsh reality of the destruction it does to women, men, and families.  It not only ends the life of a living child with a heartbeat, it damages the heart of those who make that choice in ways that globally effect their lives. Abortion hinders marriages, mothering, fathering, and other relationships.  

The enemy's plan is to keep God's people locked up in silent defeat bound in chains that keep them from fulfilling all God called them to do.  The enemy doesn't even have to do much to accomplish his goal.  He just needs to get God's people to agree with the lie and they will keep themselves locked in chains.

God says in His Word, "And you will know the truth and the Truth will set you free." John 8:32

I share my story to share the truth that God not only forgives all sin, He removes all sin (Ps 103:12).  I am not identified by what I have done or not done.  I am identified as a child of the Most High God.  I am His beloved.  I am His handiwork created in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10).  I am the righteousness of God in Christ (Rom 3:22), a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

The truth needs to be told.  The more voices declaring the truth of the gospel and grace, the more free God's people will be, which will lead to more truth of the gospel and grace.  It is a beautiful cycle!

And the more voices spreading the truth of abortion, the more hope we have for this atrocity to end and those wounded to find healing and freedom, which in turn leads back to spreading of Jesus's love and grace.

The cycle of freedom can be compounding!  The possibilities are truly overwhelming when one grasps its gravity.

We need your voice.  Will you share your story?  It might be scary at first.  But then, it isn't.
And the more you share, the freer you become and the more freedom wins and the enemy is
defeated.

"And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their testimony." Rev 12:11  

You can start here.  Email me.  Comment.  Take a breath.  Then, take a step.

There is freedom and healing.  Your sin is not your identity.  It is not who you are.  You are His.

You are why I share my story.



(For more information on healing the abortion wounded heart, feel free to contact me or you can go to www.godeeperstill.org)  



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What if I Pray and Nothing Happens?

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4

My 9 year old son lay in bed under his worn from lots of love "Cars" themed comforter.  I knelt beside his bed, as I do just about every night, and asked him if he wanted to pray about anything. Immediately the tears formed.

I inquired lovingly, "Why are you crying?  Is something wrong?"

Through sniffles, he said, "I want to pray about something but I don't think I should. I don't think it will happen. And you and God won't think it is important."

I patiently insisted that nothing is too small to pray about in God's eyes and He wants us to pray about everything. He still was sure his request was not worthy of God's time.  He was even embarrassed to tell me.

Finally, he relinquished and with a deep breath, said, "I REALLY want that Lego set.  You know, the one that is $300.  But, I know it is a lot of money and I don't think it will happen. I don't want to pray about it and it not happen."

Now, one might think he was acting in manipulation with the tears and pleas for the Lego set. However, I know my son and this was no act.  Besides all that doesn't work with me and he knows it.  $300 is still $300.

I understood my son's hesitancy.  How many times have I thought the same...What if I pray about it and it doesn't happen?  I don't want to pray about it and it not happen.  Isn't it better if I just don't pray about it then?  

Guilty.

I shared Psalm 37:4 with my son..."Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."

However, this verse, requires an explanation, which I also willingly expounded.

The beautiful part about this verse is that when we are truly delighting ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our heart will line up with the Lord's desires.  Our will becomes His will as we are in His Word and delighting ourselves in Him.

When we are not delighting ourselves in the Lord, often our desires are very self centered and can become idols.  When our desires are bordering on idols, we can be certain the Lord will not grant that request.  His answer will be a loving "no" every time.  A baby might want to play with a rattle snake awfully bad, however, a loving mother won't give it to him!  She knows it will hurt him!

As our hearts change and line up with His, then the Lord does give us the desires of our hearts.  He can because as our hearts line up, our desires also will line up.  We may find the desires we once had have faded away and been replaced with new.

As I was writing Psalm 37:4, the word "also" caught my eye and I was curious about what the first part said.

I found the answer in the verse above.  Together, they read like this...

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."  Psalms 37:3-4 [emphasis added]

Trust in the Lord. 

When we are trusting in the Lord, we are confident that He has our best interests at heart.  Even when we don't see the answer right away.

Even in the struggle, will you delight yourself in Him?  Even in the struggle, will you trust in the Lord?  Will you trust that He is faithful?  Will you continue to "do good" and love others even in the midst of being Lego-less?

His answer is coming.  He is never late.  He is always faithful.

When we don't pray because we are afraid it won't happen, we are really saying, "God, I don't trust you."  A better stance is to pray with the posture...God, I really want this, but You Lord know what is best and I trust you.  

When you are trusting in the Lord and your heart is in line with the Lord's, you can be certain that your requests are heard and will come to pass if it is best.  God always wants His best for His children, just as we want what is best for ours.

From something as small as Legos to as big as matters of life, God hears your every cry.  He is faithful.  Trust in Him.  Delight yourself in Him.  He will give you the desires of your heart.























Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Word for 2015

For the past few years, I have been asking the Lord for a word to represent each new year.  I first heard of this through being involved with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies (which ROCK, by the way!).

In 2013, the Lord gave me the word Newness.  And BOY! Did that ever describe 2013!  The following posts share a little of how the Lord brought newness that year...

http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2013/11/god-what-are-you-doing.html

http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2014/01/continued-newness.html

In 2014, the Lord gave me the word Boldness.  In many way, I have seen the Lord manifest more boldness in me over the past year, which I may share at another time.

In December, I began to ask the Lord for a word for 2015.  Almost immediately, I heard the word, "Light".

At first, I thought this meant simply the Lord wanted me to be more of a light and shine more of His light.  However, over the past few weeks, I feel there is more to this word than I initially sensed.

Light can be used in many ways.  In fact, Merriam-Webster has fifteen different definitions for the word light!  But, I am less interested in Webster and more interested in the Creator of Webster for defining light.

The Lord uses the word "light" in many ways in His Word.

One way the Lord uses the word "light" is to contrast the darkness.  Darkness is...well...dark.  In the darkness, it is hard to see.  In the darkness, we stumble.  In the darkness, we are blind.

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us form all sin."  1 John 1:6-7

To walk in darkness is to walk in continuous habitual sin, or keep sin hidden from God.  Please don't misunderstand.  We cannot hide our sin from God.  God knows about it already.  However, there are times that perhaps we, like Adam, try to cover up our sin with leaves and pretend there is nothing wrong (Gen 3:8).  

The good news is though that if we walk in the light, that is if we stop a habitual sin and then confess it to the Lord, then we can again have fellowship with Him and others.  It is hard to have real fellowship with other believers when one is hiding under leaves.

I don't think I was living in habitual sin, but as I mentioned in Shoot the Foxes, the foxes of compromise are sneaky and can creep in gradually.  I want light to illuminate any foxes I might need to shoot.

"He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light." Job 12:22

There are things hidden in the deep.  The Lord spoke to me one time about the things hidden in the deep places.  He took me visually down into the depths of the ocean where there are creatures lurking that cannot be seen from the surface.  There are living forces in the depths that are unknown to us.
They are unknown because they are in the dark and cannot be seen unless special equipment is used. They are unreachable due to their depths.  Even though cannot see them, they still effect the total ecosystem and the surface we can see.

Inside our depths are things that are hiding.  We cannot see them, but they effect the things on the surface.  We are unable to get to those deep places.  In fact, it is safe for us to go there.  But, the Lord can.  He reveals the hidden things kept in darkness and brings them into the light.

He reveals not to condemn, but to restore.  

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give the light of knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." 2 Cor 4:6

When we asked Jesus to be Lord of our life and invited Him into our heart, His light was implanted in us.  We don't have to strive to get His light.  We don't have to confess we are the light so many times a day.  We don't have to muster up faith to believe we are a light.  We just need to stay plugged into the Light source for His light to shine through us.  Just abide in Him.

The Lord usually surprises me and has much more in store than I can know.  For now, though, I  think the word "light" for me this year partly means:

 1.  The Lord is going to take me deeper in Him and reveal even more things hidden and bring them into the light and restore. 

2.  The Lord is going to help me be more of a light to others. (Please Lord!)

If you haven't asked the Lord for a word for 2015, it is not too late!!  I encourage you to get alone with Him and your journal and ask.  He has a plan and a journey for you this year that you don't want to miss!

Additional verses:

"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. "John 1:9

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light."  Eph 5:8


Reflection questions:

1. What does it mean to you to walk in darkness?

2. Are you willing to go deeper with the Lord this year?  Are you afraid of the deep? Do you believe the Lord can restore?















Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shoot the Foxes


As I wrote about last week, my first New Years resolution is to declutter (physically and spiritually).

My second resolution goes along with the first.  Namely, shoot the foxes.  No, don't call PETA.  And I'm not taking up hunting. I saw Bambi one too many times for that.  :)

We still may not know what the fox says, and I have no interest in talking to it.  I am only interested in what the fox does...

"Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes." Song of Solomon 2:15 

There are foxes.  Sneaky and crafty little critters that seem insignificant.

The Hebrew word for "fox" is shuw'al, which means burrower.  A fox digs holes and dwells underground.

The holes it digs destroys the roots.

What are the foxes in your life that are digging holes?  What are the foxes that are underneath the surface, that have dug down deep destroying roots?  You can't see it.  You can't see the root being destroyed.  The result comes in the form of fruit shriveling up and dying.

The Hebrew word for "little" is qatan, which means little, insignificant or unimportant.

These foxes seem small.  They seem unimportant.  Watching a movie here (and I'm not even talking R! Some PG-13 movies are just raunchy!).   Listening to a song there.  Little.  Small.  But destroying the root one scratch at a time.  The scratches are so small they seem insignificant. But they add up.

I'm not trying to be legalistic here.  I am just tired of the compromise.  I am tired of the cussing.  I am tired of the sex.  I am tired of viewing the sin. And if I watch those movies, am I somehow saying I approve?  You don't have to agree.  I.  Am. Just. Tired!

I crave purity.  I crave innocence.  I crave holiness.

And it goes beyond media.  However, our culture is bombarded with media, so these foxes seem to be everywhere!

The Hebrew word for "spoil" is chabel.  Chabel means to bind, ruin, or spoil.  The little foxes spoil the vines.  They bind up our souls and ruin the fruit.  I am convinced they are anything but insignificant and small.

For our vines have tender grapes.  The tender grapes are where the fruit of our lives blossom.  Foxes also eat the grapes and devour the plants.  They either kill the root or just eat the fruit.  Either way, the vine is spoiled.

These foxes are not easily caught, which is why I say, just shoot the varmints! We want them gone, not in some cage to let out at a later time.

I am on a quest this year of decluttering and detox.  These foxes have to go.  We may still not know what the fox says, but as far as I'm concerned, he can just say, "Bye-bye!".    





 
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