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John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

Another temptation 

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Usually when I think of temptation, I think of doing something I know I shouldn’t – like eating that donut as big as your head or watching a show that you know you wouldn’t watch if Jesus was physically sitting on the couch next to you.  But let me ask this question- what if self pity is a temptation? I mean, think about it, haven’t you ever just felt the tug to feel sorry for yourself about something? “Poor little me, I have so much to do and I am so under appreciated.” 

I know I feel that way from time to time. In fact, I was there last night. I had thought my week was set. I had a large function behind me, laundry was on its way to the finish line, lunch was ready for the next day – I was set. Then, I get an email about an unexpected practice this week. Boom! Monkey wrench! Suddenly, I’m rearranging and contemplating and becoming more and more anxious because this monkey wrench felt like the Empire State Building had been dropped into the middle of my week. Now, I’m over exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like. 

I could almost see the devil in the corner rubbing his greedy little hands together saying, “Ooh weee, we got her now!” And for a time he did. So sad. I stewed. I cleaned (that’s what I do when I get frustrated). I felt sorry for myself. I was tired of doing and being everything for everyone. 

And then it happened, God started whispering to my heart. He started reminding me that He had provided my husband to help me figure things out. He had provided friends to be there when one of the kids needed a ride. He had provided Grandpa to help on Tuesday nights. He had provided. 

God was trying to grow my faith and my patience. Patience for not only my situation but also for myself. I am constantly learning that I need to chill out and let God do His thing. He must get so tired of teaching me that lesson but praise His name, He never quits. 

A “re”newed view

Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I teach the teenagers on Wednesday night at church. These last few weeks we have been going through the student version of “A Case for Christ”. And let me tell you, tonight’s lesson is going to be tough. I debated skipping it but I feel that as tough as it will be, my kids need to hear it. All of it. So instead of trying to determine a witty presentation of the subject matter, I’m just going to read it. 

I have to. There is nothing witty or clever about the transgressions committed against my Jesus. 

In our society, we are okay with watching movies that are gruesome and horrible. We read books that give us nightmares. We watch videos on social media that terrify us. But to careful consider the torment and brutality of what Jesus went through for us, well, that’s another story. We can’t take it. It hurts too much. 

I think that when we stop and look into history about the torture methods and ways  a death sentence was carried out in the Roman culture, we can’t help but feel burdened and grateful and incredibly sad. We hear periodically about Jesus being “wounded” for our transgressions. I don’t think that begins to scratch the surface. 

Jesus was brutally tortured for my sin. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition for my sin. Jesus was humiliated on the cross for my sin. Jesus felt the weight of His own body through the nails piercing His hands/wrists for my sin. Jesus endured what can only be described as suffocation and His organs shutting down very slowly for my sin. And I know that if I was the only person in history that would ever accept His sacrifice, He would still have done it – for me. 

And that is powerful. 

With each touch of the whip, He thought of all those through time that would choose Him as their Savior. With each agonizing moment on that cross, He thought about each life that would be drastically changed because of His act of selfless love. 

Do you think about that? Do you consider that when work piles up? Do you think about that while your folding laundry for the ump-teenth time this week? Do you consider His sacrifice and love for each and every one of us when that nut monkey cuts you off in traffic?

Probably not. I know I don’t. But I should. I believe that if we would live our life redeemed and grateful for His sacrifice, our world would change. Fear would leave. Doubt would run and hide. Compassion would be as common place as anything you can think of. 

But it’s so much easier to turn our thoughts away from Him. It’s so much easier to forget. 

I want to encourage you today to take a moment and read about His suffering. I want you to think about His sacrifice. I want you to say “thank you” and mean it from a place in your heart that is torn and burdened. 

Bugs and honey

Matthew 3:1-4 – “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

O, John the Baptist. Can you imagine for one minute what he looked like? I mean, I see someone with long hair, long beard that isn’t kept, skins draped around him and more than likely, a stickiness in his long beard. Not the most welcoming sight. 

We have this perception in our mind of what a proclaimer of the Word should look like. We see nice/clean clothes, kept hair and probably recently bathed. 

But is that what God wants? 

John the Baptist was available. He had a specific purpose in life and he chose to embrace it. I guess he could have walked away. I guess he could have chosen to be eating lamb and bread instead of locust and honey. But he probably would have ended up with something akin to the belly of a great fish (O, Jonah). 

The point is Jesus doesn’t necessarily want you to quit bathing and start eating bugs and honey in order to serve Him. But neither does He expect you to have nice clothes and kept hair. He wants you to be available. He wants me to be available. 

We need to be listening for His voice. We need to be ready to act when we do. We need to be prepared to share whatever the need requires. Just be available. 

Out of the hole

Isaiah 40:29 – “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

It’s been a long week – and it’s only Wednesday. I’m playing the role of one man taxi driver for a household. My heart goes out to single parents. It’s rough to not have another hand to reach out to!

Yesterday I spent 2 and a half hours driving, non-stop. We were 45 minutes from home and 1 mile away from the soccer field when they cancelled practice because of rain and lightning. Ugh! 

On the way home, my son, bless his sweet little heart, did his best to try and cheer me up. But God love him, I was so sick of driving and hangry (that’s hungry AND upset) that it was mission impossible. 

But as I sat outside the dance studio waiting for my daughter to complete her class with my belly full and my work done, the clouds started to break and a tiny bit of light blue sky could be seen. The rain was over.  People were beginning to come out of their shelter from the much needed rain and things began to look better. Yes, I was STILL in the car but hope was on the horizon. 

You know, some days we feel we get jipped in the needs department. Our “poor little me” attitude comes out for a pity party and we gladly welcome it in. 

But then you come across this verse. It reminds me that when I try and do things myself and rely upon my own strength, that “pity party” me comes out to play. And she’s not very much fun. When I rely upon solely upon the strength from my Savior, He lifts me up. He makes the clouds break and encourages me to come out of my hole. 

So let me encourage you today to draw your strength solely from Jesus. He’s the only One who can keep you from fainting at life. 

Under the cloud

Matthew 28:20b – “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

I have been reading a fictional account of a Biblical truth regarding Caleb. It tells of his life and story as it relates to the children of Israel and their exodus from Egypt. While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but stop and ponder for a moment about how it must have felt the day that the cloud was no longer over the children of Israel. 

Think about it, from the time they left Egypt until they crossed the Jordan river, they had a cloud to provide protection from the hot sun in the day and warmth from the fire within at night. There was an entire generation that grew up under that cloud. They were a generation that knew only of the cloud and its’ movement. They were a generation that had only eaten manna from Heaven. 

Can you imagine what it would have felt like to wake up one morning with none of that there? I tried to find when the cloud left and the manna stopped but didn’t find a specific time. It just seemed to no longer be available. 

Sometimes when we choose to walk away from God, it feels like He is just no longer available. In actuality, it is us that is unavailable. We are the ones who have left Him, not the other way around. 

God never left the children of Israel even when they left Him. He never forgets His promises. He never forgets your name. He always remembers your burdens and successes and faults and highlights. 

So if for some reason or another you feel like you have gotten up and God is…gone, He’s not. You have moved, not Him. 

Search your heart. Identify the sin that has built up the wall that is keeping you from His loving protection and guidance. Tear it down and rest under His cloud. 

The Contract

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

As a parent, I have the responsibility of training my child to live in an adult world. The real one. Not the one you see on television. I mean the one where no one separates your laundry or cooks your food or balances your checkbook. That education, my friend, falls upon us as parents. 

Several weeks ago, I was fed up. I felt like I was the maid, cook and chief laundry doer all without pay – and I was done. Hence, The Contract. I typed (yes. Yes, I did) a contract for my two (beloved) teenagers to sign. Now, being an occupational therapist, I knew that expecting my children to accomplish all I had going on in my head at one time was unrealistic. So, I broke them down into attainable goals. 

February tackled the laundry. March will tackle the breakfast thing. April will attack the lunch situation. Come summer, they will be taking turns doing the laundry in its entirety for the week and cooking at least one meal a week – I have lofty aspirations. 

So, yesterday morning I reminded my two cherubs that tomorrow was March 1 – the beginning of make your own breakfast month. The response was less than enthusiastic. It made me chuckle. Bless their hearts, I have spoiled them rotten. 

Don’t get me wrong. They are terrific kids. I couldn’t have ask for better children. I just want to make sure that I send them out of the nest with the ability to fly. 

And that starts with laundry and breakfast. 

I fear that in some ways we are failing our children. We coddle and shelter them so much that failure is foreign and “no” is incomprehensible. 

I love my children with my whole heart. I know that God has given them to me for a very specific purpose and plan. And if I fail to prepare them to fly, then I prepare them to fail. 

I remember the days when I thought my son would always sleep in the swing in our living room. I remember thinking that my daughter would never have tame hair. But my son now sleeps in his bed and my daughter brushes her mane. It’s all good. But it didn’t come without coaxing and crying and fussing and complaining- even on my part. 

So let me encourage you – train up a child in the way that they should go. This applies not only to domestic duties but also to spiritual growth and maturity. Jesus is what makes it all happen and without Him, everything (and everyone) falls apart. Happy Wednesday.