Archive | July 2016

What’s holding you back?

Matthew 19:16-22 – “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Every person has something holding them back from serving God the way He wants us to. It might be pride or finances or fear or lack of motivation, but something is holding us back. 

For the fella in this passage, it was money. The guy kept all the commandments. He knew what God has said in the Old Testament and he executed the commands faithfully. But Jesus looked into his heart and saw what was holding him back – his love of his possessions. He liked his life. He enjoyed being comfortable. He was hungry; he got some food. His sandals were beginning to show wear; he bought more. His bed was comfortable; life was good. Jesus knew he was a “good guy” by the world’s standards. Jesus also knew that in order for him to serve Him, he needed to give up the comfort and convenience his life afforded him. 

This hits a raw spot with me. I’m comfortable. I like my life. But what is holding me back? What is keeping me from going next door and inviting my neighbors to church with me on Sunday? What’s keeping me from telling the person behind me at the store about what Jesus has done in my life? For me, I think it is fear of rejection. I want people to like me. I get torn up when I think someone is mad at me. And with that fear, it keeps me from reaching out like I should. I gotta work on that – through prayer. 

What’s holding you back?

It’s a question we all need to ask ourself. It is an area that needs to be sought out and addressed. 

We have revival at our church coming up soon. Our pastor has been challenging is for weeks to get revival going before it even starts. Well, here’s my contribution to the flame – What’s holding you back?

My challenge to you this weekend is to think about this. Think about what is holding you back. Start praying about it. Let God show you what the problem is and let Him fix it. 

We all need revival. Our country needs revival. Our family needs revival. Our communities need revival. Revival is a return to life. Revival is a renewed or more active attention to Him. Revival – What’s holding you back?

Coming home

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

Once there was this kid who thought he knew it all. His dad had lots of money and the kid knew it. He told his dad he was going to leave. He needed his space. He wanted to go make a name for himself. So, he asked his dad for his portion of the inheritance. It was time for him to go and take his place in the world. He knew best. So, his father did as he requested. With money in his pocket and brains in his head, he set out on his own. And boy did he ever. He ended up in a real mess. He had blown his money on the treasures of this world and found himself at the bottom of the barrel. “How did this happen?”, he asked himself time and again. He had to work, something he had never done in his life. When he left, he left completely- never having contact with his family. All the while, his dad kept an eye on the horizon, hoping that one day his son would return. He had his room prepared. His clothes were laundered and his favorite food was stocked in the pantry. His dad was ready to see his son again. Then one day it happened – his son’s silhouette appeared on the horizon; he would know it anywhere. The father took off in a dead run. Nothing would come between him and his son. When the dad reached him, he threw his arms around him weeping and rejoicing all at the same time. His son had returned. Nothing would spoil this moment. “I’m sorry dad. I messed up. I don’t deserve this welcoming. Let me stay here and earn my keep, please daddy.” But the father would not hear of it. He had a festive dinner and celebration that night. His son had come home. 

Have you ever been away for a while and then come home? Hugs are shared. Greetings and questions abound. And more hugs. Your loved ones just can’t get enough. It’s great, isn’t it? The love you feel at that moment makes all the darkness of being away… go away. 

We, as children of God, sometimes ask God for our blessings and the set out on our own. We step away. We chase a rabbit, so to speak. However you want to say it, we aren’t where we should be – right beside Him. But when we make the choice to walk back to our Father, He comes running. He takes us back with arms wide open and accepts our apology for leaving in the first place. Now, more than likely, there will be consequences but that comes with the territory. Actions and reactions. But nonetheless, when we say we are sorry from the depth of our heart and truly desire to turn 180 degrees from the wrong we have done, it’s gone – totally and completely gone, never to be brought up or held against us again. 

Our Heavenly Father is watching from the windows of Heaven just waiting for your silhouette on the horizon. He is waiting for you to decide that you have had enough of the mess you have made. He is ready to run out to you with arms wide open. 

Go. Go my brother or sister. Go to Him and let Him love on you a while. Heaven knows we all need to run back to Him. 

Lose the shoes

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

We went to the movies this weekend. In one of the new movies coming out, there is a girl that wears these large, heavy shoes. When she removes them, she levitates. (I know. Weird. But roll with me for a minute.)

It made me think – we all walk around with these big, bulky, heavy shoes. We call these shoes sin. These shoes are dirty and nasty and they hold us down. They keep us from mounting up on eagles wings. 

These shoes are made out of lies that we tell ourself. Lies like we aren’t good enough. Lies like “you might offend someone.” Lies like “no one cares.” 

They are also made out of anger. Anger that keeps us from mending fences. Anger that makes us spout off hurtful words. 

They are also made out of pride. Pride that keeps us from admitting when we have made a bad choice. Pride that says we are better than someone else. 

They are made out of many more things that keep us tied to this earth and drag us through the mud. Those shoes are hurtful and unattractive, yet we wear them around like we have no other choice. 

But we do. We have the opportunity to break free of those pesky shoes and fly. Now, we can’t be perfect and sinless, at least not yet, but we can be holy and righteous. Jesus told us that if we would follow after Him and obey His commandments that we can live right before Him. That is soaring. That is real living. 

But we cannot take off the shoes on our own. For some reason, we inherently like them way too much. Jesus is the only One that can remove the shoes. When He humbled Himself at Calvary, He loosened the shoes from our feet. He broke the bondage they create. He gave us the opportunity to soar with Him. 

We all have the shoes (Romans 3:23 – ” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”). No one can escape it on their own (Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”). It is a gift that Jesus loosens the shoes. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. All you can do is accept the free gift that is offered. It is the ONLY thing in life that is truly free. 

My challenge to you this week is to accept the gift and let Him loosen your shoes. They are ugly and yucky and will ever help you soar. Jesus wants you to fly. He wants you mount up on wings with eagles. But to do that, you have to lose the shoes.  

The Corners of your Mouth

Psalm 128:1-2 – “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.”

Last night, my husband and I were poking around in some new stores. We found this one store that was full of sayings and stationary and pillows – random little things that make life more fun. 

I found this little saying – “Your day follows the corners of your mouth.” Think about that for a moment. 

It’s true, isn’t it! If you have a smile on your face, your day seems to go better than when you frown. And when your mouth is a straight line, well, nothing seems to happen. 

I had never really thought about that before. Yet, when I woke up this morning, I did my best to choose to make the corners of my mouth point toward Heaven. I could bend your ear from now until forever about all the blessings in my life. God has been so very good to me. But today, I am going to choose to show my blessings by pointing the corners of my mouth towards the One who has brought me thus far – my Heavenly Father. 

So let me encourage you this weekend to ponder this short little saying. It is small but profound. Take it to heart and choose to guide your day by the corners of your mouth. 

A Whole New Level of Peace

Isaiah 32:16-17 – “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

My son left Monday for a 10 day trip to the United Kingdom to play soccer with his team. We took him to the airport and left him in the hands of his coach and several parents. 

And I’m not worried. I’m grateful. 

Now, true, I didn’t sleep much Monday night knowing that he was flying across the ocean, but deep down, I knew he would be fine. 

This whole experience has been interesting to say the least. I have learned a whole new level of trust and peace. I have let my 14 year old son go to a foreign country without me. People would look at me like I’m crazy when I told them he was going. 

“How can you let him go without you?” “Aren’t you worried something could happen to him?”

My answer is this – He is an amazing young man. I trust him to make good choices. And if the Lord wants him, He can get him just as easily at home as He can in the UK. My son knows Jesus Christ as his Savior. He loves and follows Him. He trusts Him. 

New level of peace and assurance. 

This is what God wants – us to be continually growing. He wants us to stretch our limits. He wants us to trust Him more and more. He wants us to find our assurances in Him. He wants us to depend upon Him and not upon ourself. 

What I am feeling now is prayerful. I’m not necessarily worried; I’m just feeling the need for constant communication on behalf of my son. I pray for his safety. I pray that he will have an amazing time. I pray that he will soak in all the knowledge and experience that he can. But most of all, I pray that he will be the example of Jesus that he needs to be for the boys around him. 

School is just around the corner. For some, this is a really big deal. This is a super challenge. For some parents, they need a new level of trust in Jesus and in their children. We need to pray for all those involved. Our children are bombarded with yuck on a daily basis. They need peace. They need assurances. Jesus can offer them both. Let’s begin praying for these kids and these parents and these teachers and these administrators. Let’s pray that they find a whole new level of peace. 

Report card

1 Corinthians 11:32 – “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, I presented this task to my class. 

Get a piece of paper and write “Report Card” on the top. Then make a list: Conduct, Bible reading, Church attendance, Witnessing and Prayer. Now, grade yourself. Be honest. No one will see it but you and God. 

It hurts, doesn’t it. We can look at this list and think, “oh, I’m doing okay with this.” Then you think about your attitude and your focus and your genuineness. That’s when things get muddled and ugly. 

I know when I thought about this yesterday, my heart was convicted. And all areas were affected. I couldn’t say in my heart that I did a really good job with anything. 

We all have room for improvement. We all have areas in our life that need daily attention and quarterly checks. 

But you know, these checks are for our good. They hold us accountable and make us better. God has provide His Holy Spirit to keep us on His path. He wants us to be successful – closest to Him. He wants us to live a good and happy life – closest to Him. But we are sometimes like an animal, we get distracted easily – squirrel! And once we are distracted, we are headed down a path that leads us away from Him. We need God to yank the chain now and again. 

So this week, let me encourage you to fill out this “Report Card”. Pray about it. Ask God to show you ways that He wants you to improve and change. 

Turn the page

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Today is the completion of a two year project – working at the nursing home. I have worked in a nursing home setting consistently for almost 10 years. That is a lot of people and a really long time. I have learned so much from all the people I have come in contact with. Some of them have nearly driven me crazy and some of them have truly touched my heart. 

But today, I am leaving a small group of people that have come to be my adopted grandmas and grandpas. Their antics have made me laugh. Their situations have made me cry. When you work with people the way I do, your heart gets attached to them. And leaving them leaves a hole that is very difficult to fill. I think the hardest part is this – even though I will go back and visit, there will still be some I will never see again. That is hard. 

But in reality, we face that every day. It is just more clear on some days than it is on others. 

I am moving on to another job that will still keep me in contact with new people that need my help and my skills. But these people at this little facility will always hold a special place in my heart. 

And by the way, it isn’t just the older people I will miss. There are fabulous people that I work alongside. They are kind and gentle and thoughtful and dedicated to making the lives of those around them as beautiful as possible. 

I know that the older ones will probably never read this but I want them to know today that I love them. And I want to say thank you for making an imprint on my heart. For the ones that I labor alongside, I want to say thank you for caring with me to hold up this older generation. Your labor is not in vain. 

We all need to remember that Jesus said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)  I cannot tell you how many times this verse has run through my head over the years. 

So as I turn the page today, I will remember that Solomon reminded us that there is a time for every thing. And today is my time to turn the page.