I’m feeling the Spirit’s leading to take this next week off from posting in order to focus on Jesus and what His plans for this next season are so that we both can be on the same page. Judging by how the last few days have gone and the tremendous insights I have gained already we’re in for a wild ride folks!
Your prayers would be tremendously appreciated at this time!
For those of you whom I’ve been able to talk to recently you know how terrible the last few nights have been for me. (For those of you I haven’t spoken to, there’s a blog coming about it when I get back from this spiritual stay-cation.) Last night, was a night of watching (Exodus 12:40-42). The conversation that I had with the LORD last night was so incredibly inspiring! He is such a generous and living God and w have barely even begun to taste and see just how good and awesome He is! Great things are in store my friends, great things!
Don’t forget to pray for me and for each other! I love you!!!!!!!
Monthly Archives: May 2012
I’m feeling the Spirit’s leading to take this next week off from posting in order to focus on Jesus and what His plans for this next season are so that we both can be on the same page. Judging by how the last few days have gone and the tremendous insights I have gained already we’re in for a wild ride folks!
Today’s Reading: Exodus 13:1-16:8
I was awakened this morning by the rolling thunder of a storm passing over our house; as the thought of the jug of orange juice in our fridge passed through my mind. Yup, orange juice. This is how God starts the conversation this morning, a booming ORANGE JUICE! And then says to me “there’s always enough to go around, it’s the blood of Christ in communion.” Yes, in this house communion isn’t always your standard grape juice. Sometimes the good old orange juice gets broken out and passed around because it’s the juice we have in the house. Have you ever made orange juice before? The first thing that you do is you roll the orange on the counter pressing it firmly with the palm of your hand in order to break the membranes inside so that you will be able to get more juice out of it in the end. Then you take a nice sharp knife and you pierce the orange cutting it in half. Then you take a torture device called a juicer and jam it down through the center of the orange half squeezing the orange half round and round the juicer until there is nothing left but an empty shell of skin.
The next thing that God showed me this morning with the next rumble of thunder was a vision of Jesus standing on the top of a beautifully round green mound of earth with a round loaf of bread in His hands holding it skyward and giving thanks to the Father for it. He then looked upon that single loaf of bread expected to feed the ravenous multitudes seated before Him and He broke it in half, handed one half to a waiting (and also hungry) disciple. Then He looked once more at the whole loaf in His hands, broke it in two once more and handed another half to another hungrily awaiting disciple. This continued over and over again, each time Jesus broke the round loaf in half, handed the right half to a waiting disciple to disperse to the crowd and then looked down upon the loaf once more again made whole until finally the entire multitude was satisfied and fed with hands on full rounded bellies, crumbs falling from their drowsy lips and pieces of bread round lying all over the green grass. More than enough.
With the next thunderous roar from the Lion of Judah He showed me the half-eaten pan of salted caramel fudge sitting in my fridge, aluminum foil still stuck to its gooey caramel dripping out around the edges. I saw myself prying the delectable prize from the pan, a small piece of foil refusing to let go of the sticky sweetness in my hand. And I put it all in my mouth, foil and all, in order to suck the sea salted caramel off the shiny surface not wanting to waste even the tiniest bit of the addictive substance.
Each of these things, made to be in the mouth, on the tongue, in the belly, not in the containers or wrappers. Like communion bread and juice, Jesus’ body and blood – His life, they were made to always be on our lips, always on our minds, always in our bellies like rivers of living waters but that couldn’t happen until they were removed from the container. This happened on the cross when He cried out His last “It is finished” and gave up His Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus, like the juice from a fruit, was removed from its container; like a loaf of bread His body was broken over and over and over again in order to make us whole. Like sea salted caramel fudge the communion, or Eucharist, of Jesus begs to be taken out of the fridge, off the pan and placed into our mouths, rolled around our tongues where His gooey sweetness can drip down our throats and fill our bellies. When we have tasted we will see His goodness and mercy pursuing us all the days of our lives.
Lastly, as the final touch in the conversation that caused me to throw back the covers and race to find my computer in the dark stillness of the very early morning He showed me the centerpiece of the Garden of Eden the Tree of Life. When Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, believed the lie of the Enemy, God decided that it was far too dangerous for them to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in their broken state. So He devised a plan that would save us all from the food poisoning of that fruit.
The entire Bible is all about the cross, every word of the Old Testament points forward to it, and every word of the New Testament and our lives points back to it. As The Tree of Life, the cross is the tree that brings us life. It stands in the middle of history, the centerpiece of the garden of Life and Love. When we have eaten the fruit from it, believe the truth of the Living God, we become far too dangerous for the Enemy to stand against in his now broken state. When we taste and swallow and eat the truth that Jesus died to set us free because He loves us, we become immortal, in that very moment. Not after we die physically, immediately. In the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Enemy they surely died, they died spiritually immediately. Today, because of the cross, the Tree of Life, when we eat His fruit of truth we surely LIVE!!!!! Immediately!!!!! And every time that we give thanks for that fruit, every time that we live lives filled with thankfulness we are eating and drinking Jesus’ sacrifice all over again, we are continually digesting the fruit of the Tree of Life. Gratitude is the fruit of Life!
We have so much to be thankful for, yet so often we allow those opportunities to pass as we speed by at 55 miles an hour on our way to the next event in our life. We miss the opportunity to witness the multiplication miracle of time. It’s the only thing we have on this planet that we can’t buy and will never get more of… unless we are thankful. Somehow, pressing the pause button on the speed of our life to take a moment to be thankful manages to multiply time in a way that there seems to become more of it to go around. Like taking a day off every week to relax and recharge our systems seems to multiply our energy and our minds, taking a moment here and there does the very same thing. Thankfulness is a miniature Sabbath day wrapped up in a beautiful container that begs to be opened and savored, to be passed over the lips sweetly and then digested down in order to spring back forth over our lips as words of thankfulness once again as springs of Living water from our innermost being.
Today’s Reading: Exodus 10:1-12:51
This weekend has been quite eventful for our family; we drove down to the other side of Indianapolis to pick up an engine for my husband’s derby car!
It was HOT out there that day. And the air conditioning in the truck was nice and cool, our refreshing drinks were in the truck, there was a radio in the truck to keep the kids and I company while he and the man selling him the engine loaded it into the truck. There were plenty of great reasons why I should stay in the nice comfy truck and read my book while my husband was out doing all the dirty work. But then when he moved the truck closer to the shed there was this bell that was just calling my name through the windshield of the truck, begging for me to come out and get a closer look, to take his picture. So I did. I put down my book, hopped out of the truck and asked the guy if I could have his permission to walk around his property and take photographs that may or may not appear on the web when I was done. J He of course had no problems with that.
So away I went, snapping photos here and there, wherever the Spirit led me feet to go I followed. The bell was just a warm up exercise, an excuse to get me out of the truck, it wasn’t what God really wanted me to get out and take pictures of. No, the real photo adventure was behind the shed in the weeds! That’s where all the really exciting stuff was happening. I followed the fence to the back of the property where the unknown was waiting for me to discover it. Where the critters hid in the cool shade of a thicket and chattered at me to stay back from their place of safety. The farther I traveled alone onto the back of the property the more I could feel the presence of God leading me. I could feel His excitement mounting as I neared what He had prepared to show me;
the intricate curls of an unfurling purple weed with delicate fuzzy leaves.
I rounded a corner and gasped “Lord! There’s a Queen Anne’s Lace! They’re one of my favorites!” I could almost hear the grin in His voice as He whispered “I know” straight to my soul. “Thank You Papa!”
I could almost hear the conversation between these two weeds as the wheat-like seeds of grass bowed to whisper in the yellow flower’s ears the secrets of creation that God has shared with it this morning on the breeze of the morning wind. The trumpets of the purple flower preparing to sound their blasts of summer as the heat poured out over us all. At this point I could feel the beads of sweat running down the funnel of my back and I began to think of the cool air filling the truck, this was by far better in every way. While I would have been comfortable in the truck I would have missed the testimony of the weeds. Their voiceless chorus of praise to their creator, their arms raised in honor, their heads held tall straining to catch every ray of His marvelous light upon their flesh. Their seeds prepared and waiting for the wind to blow, to sow, to plant, to grow. I would have missed the spittlebug’s nest nestled amongst the tall grass awaiting the day when its children would emerge from their bubbled birth place. I would have missed an answer to an unspoken prayer that ended up being an inside joke between the Lord and I. The other day I was visiting my friend Kelly and her cat Romeo strolled up to be pet and loved on, his fur filled with burrs. As we stood outside petting him the two of us pulled the pesky spiked balls from his silken locks and I commented “Where do they find these things anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them growing anywhere yet the cats never seem to have any problem finding them.” So I laughed when right there in the middle of my hunt for the intricate beauty of our creator there it was, a plant with those very same burrs on it. I had never said I WANTED to see one, just that I couldn’t remember having seen one and now here it was. I fingered the little burrs and marveled at their tiny detail, each little hair on the burr soft on its own yet together they become like Velcro in the animal’s fur. Then remembered that they were the inspiration FOR Velcro!
I was especially taken by these purple flowered weeds. So delicate, so curly like my own naturally curling hair that is straightened daily. I was fascinated by the way the flower itself straightened as it grew, how the flower began curled, closed, and then unfurled like a flag or banner, proclaiming God’s hand in its life by simply being there. By pointing its sun-soaking leaves skyward pointing to His marvelous light and using that light as its food. There is so much we can learn from creation. So much we can learn about God by observing His creation, so much we can find out about the artist by taking the time to study His art. And His art surrounds us from every direction, from breezy winds to the summer sun stroking our bare shoulders and baking them til deliciously crispy and delightfully red.
All experienced because I chose to get up out of my comfy seat in the truck and join God on a hunt for beauty. A scavenger hunt for something delicious and new.
Today’s Reading: Exodus 7:1-9:35
I never know what God is going to have me do from day to day let alone from minute to minute. Last night, I was exhausted from the day and yet at about 8 o’clock I had the insatiable urge to go to the local small town grocery store and buy the supplies to make the new sea salted caramel fudge recipe I have discovered. So with now five-year-old daughter in tow we run off to the store to buy chocolate heaven supplies. As I stepped out to the car I was instantly struck with the call of the Lord, I looked up at the now clear blue sky that mere moments before had been a dull gray heavy with drops of rain and peals of thunder. I now understood the insatiable urge for chocolate; it was the excuse God was using to get me out; out of my comfort zone and into His glorious creation.
Five-year-old buckled safely and away we went to the grocery store to complete our chocolate mission. My left foot stepped out onto the moist pavement and again my gaze was drawn above to the mixture of clouds and fresh sky. Breath-taking.
Marveling at the dark clouds’ inability to cover the cheer-filled white clouds I looked closer. There in the near dusk sky was a pearlized crescent moon.
As the camera shutter snapped and I glimpsed the first twinkling of the moon on my 2″x3″ camera screen I breathed “Lord, it just doesn’t do it justice” and in an agreeable response a rolling peal of thunder rumbled off to the north where the storm was now raging as it had only minutes before right where I stand. My heart rejoiced in my Beloved Jesus and how He communicates with us all when we have ears that are opened and listening to His voice; ready to join Him in the pleasure of His creation.
Arms loaded with fresh fruit and fudgy supplies we pulled out of the parking lot and were drawn this time away from home and towards the open countryside in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of the sunset through the stormy clouds. I was not disappointed! Oh the scenes that God had set up for me, waiting for me to capture them on a Sandisk snuggled deep within my point and shoot Nikon. I park on the side of the wet asphalt careful to avoid the steep drop off, aim and shoot misty fog through near darkness over a still barren field yet to be tilled and planted this season, I am completely in awe of the color I am able to capture and the difference between the way things look to my own eye compared to the eye of this camera lens, the details that it simply can’t capture, I’m frustrated. I try again. Aim, point and shoot. Aim, point and shoot. Several shots later I put the car back into gear and pull forward a bit into a small gravel section just off the side of the road, a place for the tractors and farm implements to get from the road into the fields. As I turn to look behind me to pull out I am struck by the sight that greets me through my passenger side window. A broken down fence just begging to be taken home with me miniature sized on my Sandisk memory card… and my heart. Again, the absence of the bright sunlight and the presence of the still beautifully blue sky and cheer-filled clouds strike my fancy. The glory of twilight, the iridescent dream-like quality that it gives everything it surrounds. It amazes me. He amazes me. I smile at a bird a few feet in front of the headlights of my car peering at me through the grass; he refuses to turn so that I can take him home with me too. His beautiful brown and white feathers so different from the black and orange robins that live in our yard and seem to be everywhere this time of year, I can’t identify him.
I turn the car around and point the headlights once more towards home, but wait! There is yet another picturesque scene staring at me through the windshield waiting for me to snap it right up.
The beauty of an old barn worn by the wind and the sun and the rain, all constant and heaving yet it still stands, faithful to perform its duty of protection for those precious tools of the farmer’s trade. The misty fog of the earth is rising to surround it with mystery and night. As I assume the photographers pose, squat on the side of the road, car humming behind me, headlights shining in my hair, camera poised between hands, elbows perched to balance camera and body in order to capture the most precise representation of God’s glory that I can muster, yet it still does no justice to the glory that has surrounded me in this coming night after the chaos of the storm that has just hit the area bringing the desperately needed rain to the thirsty fields full of seeds waiting to sprout and grow and bear much fruit. I count myself blessed to have followed the Spirit’s leading and discovered these awaiting sights to tickle my creative side and my hunger for something special, something different, something Godly and glorious.
I traveled less than five miles from my home yet in that time I was transformed, transfigured by the aftermath of a storm, the beauty that it left behind in its wake. All… because I stepped out of my comfort zone. I left the security of my house and my air conditioning and stepped into the humid and glorious. I was suddenly surrounded by the sound of drops still falling from the tree’s lovely leaves, the birds rejoicing in the bath, all in chorus with the ever quieting sound of the thunder rolling on in the distance. Somewhere else the storm is just now beginning for someone else, mine is ending.
With an “I love you” waiting for me when I pull into the driveway at home once again. I love you too Lord.
Today’s Reading: Exodus 3:1-6:30
Today I just want to point something out that I underlined and circled in both today’s reading and yesterday’s reading: “I know” (Exodus 3:19) & “God knew” (Exodus 2:25)
My friend, God knows! He knows what we need, He knows what we want, He knows! And a loving God that is willing to make promises to us for our welfare and not our harm
is also a God who is able and willing to provide for our wants AND our needs. When we remain in Him, He remains in us and we can ask with confidence for anything in His name and believe that we will receive it and we will. God is a good God. He loves us and He delights in providing for us abundantly above all that we could think or imagine! To quote from Pharaoh in Esther “Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” (9:12) God wants to hear our requests; He wants to hear us ask Him for the things we need and what we want. Not because He doesn’t know, but because He wants us to tell Him so that we will recognize it when our desires get fulfilled by the One who cares the most about us. He is SUCH a good God!
In the comments section below I would love for you to share a fulfilled request with us! Your comment will appear on our website where others can see and rejoice in your answered prayer so please share! J
(Can you tell it’s summer vacation here? The posts are getting shorter and shorter!)
It’s funny; normally I never play video games on my own. Occasionally I will play them with the kids, but even then it’s seldom that I cease my constant motion long enough to sit let alone play a video game. We had made plans earlier in the week to go swimming at our friend’s house and I’ve been looking forward to it all week! No parties to plan, no house to clean, no homework to do, nothing but sun and wet giggles filling my senses. Last night I even dreamed about swimming in the pool and playing with the kids, if that tells you how much I’ve been looking forward to this time off. Then this morning when I got up I realized that it was a day off, so I wasn’t even going to write today either… but then I sat down and played the video game and had to share with you what God had been showing me this morning1
At this point in our life my husband and I are being faced with many decisions. We’re felling the nudging of the Holy Spirit to the changes that are coming… but what will they be? Which way do we need to move? How do we make these decisions? Are there even decisions to be made? This morning, just like many of the mornings lately, as my husband and I embraced to pray at the front door on his way out to work, I could feel his tension mounting. I could sense his hesitancy to leave. Work has not been a pleasant place for him to be lately. Not that there’s anything unusually “bad” happening there, it’s just time for a change. So as I held him close breathing in his scent and savoring this intimate moment I opened my mouth and prayed “Lord, please show us the w….” and then I laughed. “Yes Lord, YOU are the way. Thank You for such a tremendous reassurance. You are the Way, and we are following You. Lord we trust You completely. Thank You.”
There’s nothing like an instantly answered prayer, where Jesus stops you in mid-sentence with the TRUTH. He is the way. He is not only the way to the Father; He is the Way to everything in life. Every decision, every path in life, every question in life can be answered with one name – JESUS! And what a precious name it is isn’t it! J
In playing Super Mario Brothers this morning with my son he achieved something impressive. He reached 99 lives. He had read online that when you reach 99 lives “something weird” would happen. So all morning, before I joined in on the fun and was just watching, he worked and worked to get up to 99. And he would get so upset when he would lose a life in the attempt to gain one. And I would look at him and say “Honey. You have NINETY EIGHT LIVES! I think you’ll be OK.” Because in the game, when you get down to zero lives the game ends. And so I kept pointing out to him “Honey, there’s no way you’re going to die, you’ve got NINETY EIGHT LIVES!”
So often we look at life upside down. We look at this life as it’s all we’ve got… but it’s not! Yes, it’s the only mortal earthly life that we have and we shouldn’t treat it with contempt, however it’s not the end. We have NINETY EIGHT LIVES! Well, really when you think about it, it’s more like infinity than ninety eight, but still, you get my point right? We’ve got to look at this life from the point of eternity, not the here and now. We have to feel free to take risks and “fail” in order to learn something. Because no matter how many times we “fail” it doesn’t really matter because we have more “lives” to live after the failure. We get to keep playing the game. We may have to start the level over again, but that’s OK, because every time we start the level over again we learn something else that we didn’t know the first time. We get an opportunity to play the level better than we did at first.
There are times in life when words slip out of our mouths that may hurt someone else. There’s no way to pull those words back in and swallow them down as if we never said them, but that’s no reason to bemoan the opportunity that we’ve just been given to learn! Every time we are faced with what seems like a huge life changing decision to make, a leap of faith if you will, what’s the harm in leaping? So what if we don’t make it to the other side we were leaping to, there’s always another life, another chance to leap again and perhaps make it to the other side this time. However, I’ve learned something about leaps of faith; generally they’re not nearly as much of a leap as a short step into the dark onto solid rock. One of our kids’ favorite movies is Monster’s vs Aliens. In this movie the main character Susan is being chased by a giant alien robot and she’s on the top of a roof and sliding down seemingly to her death. She gets to the edge of the roof and is hanging on by her fingernails when her grip lets loose and she falls… about two inches. She had forgotten that she was fifty feet tall – the same size as the building! God doesn’t let us fall when we leap into His waiting hands, it just may feel like that sometimes because that’s what we’re expecting to happen. We aren’t realizing that the leap is really just another step in our walk together with Him.
In today’s reading in Esther we finish the story of the Jews in their plight against Haman the horrible. We read about how the Jews were able to fight back and well… we always know how that goes don’t we. “No one could stand against them”. God had their backs the whole time. It didn’t seem like it in the beginning because things looked so dark and hopeless but He was there. And in the end, no one could stand against them.
God’s got our backs.
No one can stand against us.
God is with us, and if God is for us then who can be against us, right?
God bless you my friends, live in His truth today. He is the way, go in it and no one can stand against you1
Today’s Reading: Esther 4:1-8:17
Ok, I promise you that I did not plan this ahead of time, the cliff hanger in the story and all. But I know who did plan it and He is so awesome to have done it this way! Today we get to all the really great parts of the story of Esther! Here her people are, slated for complete and total annihilation and everyone powerless to stop the flow of events except Esther. And there’s her surrogate father to remind her of that very fact. Esther, who knows but that you have come to such royal position for such a time as this? I think in all of history there are few phrases that live in infamy as much as “Who knows?” and “for such a time as this”. Oh, how many times in my life have those phrases echoed through the caverns of my soul filling them with possibilities. “Who knows, maybe I have bigger plans for you than you thought I did…” “Who knows, maybe I really can be ‘that good’…” or “Maybe I placed you in this uncomfortable situation for such a time as this…”.
Life is filled with uncomfortable situations, it just is, we can hem and haw about where those situations come from and why they’re there until we’re blue in the face from running around in circles chasing our tails but in the end all that really matters is the fact that life gives us uncomfortable situations and it’s up to us as to how we’re going to deal with those situations. It’s all in how we think about them and see them. Take our pre-empted plans the other day, that was certainly an uncomfortable situation, or at least it would have been if I hadn’t been having so much fun! Honestly, I was so excited about the adventure and the prospect of what God was going to do with this situation that I hardly cared about that fact that we were stuck on the side of the road! I should probably add here that part of me knew that we weren’t going to make it all the way to our pre-determined destination, but my brain wasn’t in on that information.
After we had met six-month pregnant police officer Michelle and the two State troopers, the mechanic showed up followed directly by the tow-truck driver, Petie. Now Petie was a fun fellow, beautiful are the feet that bring good news and his feet were pretty beautiful! While they didn’t bring the news of being able to fix poor Tammy’s new-to-her car (she’s only had it a month) he was the one who was fully capable of taking us to the ones who could! And THAT was good news! So we three girls, minus Tammy’s daughter who was taken on to school by the red-headed Michelle, were aided into his tall tow truck cab with a gentlemanly hand. I sat in the middle next to Petie on a florescent yellow roadside assistance jacket covering a milk crate with my daughter on my lap, while Tammy sat in the bucket seat by the window. As the gentleman walked back around to his side of the cab after helping us ladies up Tammy and I quickly prayed that God would bless him and his vehicle and everyone that rode in it after us. When we were on the way to the “car farm” (the four-year-old’s name for a car dealership) Tammy asked Petie “is there anything that we can pray for you?” And that just opened up a whole new can of worms! It just so happens that Petie the gentleman is a Christian too! For the entire 20 minute ride we three adults swapped God stories and scriptures and that Petie, I tell ya, that man spoke with such conviction that I by the time I stepped back out of his truck, again aided by his arm, I felt like I had been in the presence of Jesus! God hadn’t just sent us any old tow truck driver, He’s sent us His son of light! For the rest of my life I will never forget Michelle or Petie, they were such tremendous “God sends” that day, little touches from heaven sent in the form of two beautiful children of light simply doing their jobs. But to Tammy and I they meant the world to us!
That is such a powerful message to me. The by simply doing our God-given jobs, police officer, tow truck driver, teacher, mail man, blogger, mom, we have the opportunity to become someone else’s angel right there on the side of the road. Michelle the police officer had an obligation to stop because she’s a police officer, but she did not have the obligation to stand there by the side of the road and talk to us and make friendly for an entire hour! She could have sat in her car the entire time and listened to the radio! But she didn’t. Petie didn’t have to help us up into the cab of his truck like a gentleman, he could have let us stumble in all on our own, but he didn’t. He didn’t have to carry on a twenty minute conversation about God with us while he was driving, he could have remain stone silent and we never would have known that we all are kin. And who knows, maybe they were having bad days too until we showed up on the scene! Honestly, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when Tammy and I are around, we’re filled with the oil of gladness most of the time and we’ll bring it out in you too when given the chance. But none of that would have ever happened if we all had simply kept our mouths shut. If we had focused on the problem instead of focusing on the solution that God was unfolding right before our eyes.
To me that’s what is so beautiful about the story of Esther. While God isn’t mentioned once in the entire story you can so plainly see His hand at work through the entire thing! So many times in the story you can see His perfect timing at work, from the first feast Esther throws for the king and Haman with the evening in between to allow both men to ponder on what it is that Queen Esther is wanting. The King so curious he can’t even sleep so he gets out “the book” and reads and remembers about Mordecai and realizing that he has forgotten to honor the man who saved his life…. WOAH!
He has forgotten to honor the Man who saved his life… If that isn’t a significant sentence I don’t know what is!
Have I forgotten to honor the Man who saved my life? Does my life honor Jesus? Does the way I go through my day honor His sacrifice?
That day, Michelle and Petie honored Jesus, they honored him before they ever told us that they were Christians. They honored Him before they ever said His name. They honored Him in their smiles, in their peace-filled demeanors, and in the fulfillment of their jobs. Sure they get paid to stop and help people in their time of need, but they don’t get a paycheck for being nice while they do it. And who knows that you weren’t put in your own position for none other than such a time as this…
Today’s Reading: Esther 1:1-3:15
I have to tell you that the story of Esther is by far one of my favorites. There are so many things that are significant within its pages, the complete absence of any reference to even the name of God, yet the tell tale signs of His Almighty presence in the salvation of His people. It’s just an amazing story. To me, the pinnacle moment within the story is when… oh no! We haven’t gotten there yet! I can’t ruin it for you! Sigh… OK, well, I guess I’ll just have to save that message for some other day.
I guess, instead, I’ll tell you a story that I’ve been holding onto. It’s a story about my prayer partner Tammy attempting to take me to this little café that she found downtown. They have a lot of outreaches there and she wants to take me there to meet the owner so that we might be able to make some connections between our ministries. So Tammy and I had made plans to drive down there together. I would put my son on the bus, jump into Tammy’s car with my daughter and then drop Tammy’s daughter off at school before heading over to the café. Well, it’s about an hour long drive downtown from where we live so we had some time in the car to talk and what not. During a brief lull in our conversation I checked my daily devotional app on my phone. I thought it was a good one and decided to share it with the car. I read about how God gives us double blessings for our troubles. Now, you know I tell the truth, so when I say I had just finished reading the devotional when “it” happened; you have to understand that I mean I had no more than said the last word in the devotional about double blessings for our troubles when the car started steaming. Yup! Honest to goodness. So even though the car had just been in the shop less than a week before to get the oil changed and everything under the hood checked, the sweet smell of coolant came pouring out in its gaseous form to tickle my nostrils with the characteristic smell of a water pump issue. Now of course we were on no less than the biggest interstate in Indiana at the time that this happened, so we pulled over to the side of the road in the hopes that the engine might cool off enough to get us the rest of the way to our desired destination for the day. We may have waited all of a minute before striking out once more, if nothing else than to get off the interstate to a much smaller and less dangerous spot to be on the side of the road. We managed to get to the necessary off-ramp before the car wouldn’t go any further and stopped on its own. Tammy put the poor ole girl in park and called the school, “Yup, we’re on the side of the road, she’s going to be late.” Next she called the lady at the café, “Ummmm, we don’t know when we’ll be there; we’re on the side of the road.” “YOUR ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD! What happened???” And as the story poured out, the lady at the café said those wonderful words “Well, let me pray for you!” So together, we four girls in the car and the one on speaker phone bowed our heads in prayer over the situation asking that God’s will would be done and that His angels of protection would surround us throughout this ordeal. The lady had no more than finished praying when the black unmarked police car with a beautiful red head in the driver’s seat pulled up behind us, lights flashing – God’s sign to me that help is on the way… or HERE in this case!
Michelle the police officer strolled up to our car, all six months of her pregnancy in full view and glory, she truly did glow – at least for us she did anyway, but maybe that was because she was the beginning of the answer to our prayers! For the next hour Tammy and I talked to Michelle about her pregnancy and our own pregnancies, a very common denominator among women, while we waited for the state’s version of Triple A to show up. I think it was about the second or third time that Michelle went back to her car to check on the progress of the mechanic that Tammy and I realized that we had twenty copies of my latest book “The Pink Polka dot Kitty” in her trunk and both decided that she needed a free signed copy! It is dedicated to moms after all and she was about to become one! I had just given her the copy when the light flashing State Police car pulled up. The gun-toting officers stepped out to see what all the fuss was about and took a gander under the hood propped open to cool. The female state officer took control of the situation and told Michelle to call a tow rather than the mechanic that must have been on the other side of town when he got the call. So she called in for the tow truck assistance and the State troopers left to investigate a van that had “caught her eye”.
The troopers had been gone only a few minutes when not one roadside assistance vehicle pulled up, but TWO at the exact same time (the mechanic and the tow truck driver)! In our time of trouble we didn’t get one police car, we got two; we didn’t get one roadside assistance vehicle, we got two!
Our trouble had been an object lesson that God was teaching us, and has become one of my FAVORITE stories to tell lately. God doesn’t just tell us He will bless us, He DOES bless us. He doesn’t just bless us once; He blesses us over and over and over again. In this world we will have trouble, it’s just a fact. BUT, we don’t need to fear that trouble, because we can overcome those troubles. And we can rejoice in them because we know that God will not only bless us in those troubles, but He will doubly bless us for them as well. One of my favorite sayings while in adversity is “God doesn’t let stuff like this happen to me for nothing.” As a daughter of the Almighty King of Heaven and Earth I have such a tremendous and impenetrable hedge of protection around me that there is NO WAY that the Enemy can get through it… unless there is a purpose. And I have the faith and assurance that that purpose is for my good and not my harm. That it is for the good of not just me, but for everyone that I ever have contact with. That everything that I experience in this life is shaping and molding me to be the woman God wants me to be. So when my regularly scheduled day gets pre-empted with something unexpected I have the assurance of knowing that God is doing something in my life that is important and I can rejoice in the silver lining of the rain cloud hovering over me at the moment because I know that the sun WILL come out tomorrow and it will bring with it such tremendous blessings that I have never known before. Yes, life has troubles, but Jesus has overcome each and every one of them and through Him so can we.
Today’s reading: Ephesians 3:1-6:24
I have a parsley plant that my son grew from a seed at school and gave me as a Mother’s Day gift. I lovingly placed it on the little shelf above my kitchen sink so that it could be near the window and then I would see it all the time. Somehow, to this day I do not know how, it managed to fall into the crock pot that was soaking in soapy water in the sink. Not good for a little sprout like this! I took a new pot, every so gently and carefully took the tiny strings of plant out of the water, rinsed them in clean water and placed their tender roots into fresh soil. Now, I’ve gotta tell ya, they look pretty pitiful right now. And honestly, considering everything they’ve been through in the last week, they should! But every time I walk past them I blow on them (to remind them of the outdoors and the Holy Spirit) and I tell them “It’s going to be OK, you’re going to make it.” I know, it sounds a little crazy, but is it any crazier that Jesus does that to us in our time of bedraggled need? We’re special to Him and He cares for us so much more than just a plant, yet He too blows His Spirit breath upon our weary heads and whispers “It’s going to be OK Beloved, you’re going to make it through this. I’m here.”
Fear not the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. Because he hold fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to Me I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:5-16
He is the God of endurance and encouragement!
“It’s going to be OK Beloved, you’re going to make it through this, I’m here.”
Today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1-Ephesians 2:22
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there by any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24
Testing, testing, one, two, three…
Everything is tested. An inventor tests His gadgets over and over again before they are declared worthy of being “done”. A student takes hundreds of tests to prove their ability, or lack there of, to move on to the next level of education. This week my son had to take a swimming test. Now, I have to elaborate here a bit, mostly because it’s a story about my son but also because it shows my point quite well.
God has blessed me with an AMAZING group of friends, one of these amazing friends just happens to own a pool and be generous enough to let us all swim in it! Well, this week was the grand opening of Miss Peggy’s pool. So we started by sitting down and listening to Miss Peggy’s pool rules. One of which was that all kids had to take a swimming test to swim in the deep end of the pool without a life jacket on. The test entailed swimming from one short side of the pool and back, that was it. Now, the kids that were at this grand opening party are no newbies when it comes to swimming. They’ve all logged many many hours into their swim books before opening day, BUT, that didn’t change the rule. So I dove into the deep end (read Pursue to see how big of a deal this is), lined up my son and his friend who also wanted to swim minus life jackets and had them swim to the other side and back for their “test”. Now, I knew they would have no problem passing with flying colors, they both knew they could do it, so why did they have to go through the test? To PROVE to themselves that they could do it. (And to honor our gracious hostesses wishes.)
You see, I believe that is what all testing is. God is omnipotent, He know EVERYTHING, He GOD. He doesn’t need to test us to know if we’re ready for the next stage or to be put out onto the battle field yet or not. He’s GOD, He already knows all those things… but we don’t.
Today has been a testing day for me, this whole week has been really. It’s been filled with moments here and there of doubts, questions about where I stand in my faith… or if I would stand at all. Moments where I was faced with a decision, will I choose to believe what God has taught me and shown me… or will I go the way I’ve always gone before? Will I revert to my old way of thinking or will I trust my maker, my inventor, to do the things He’s told me He would do – be the One He’s told me that He is? And every time, it’s been a choice. It’s been a minute where I’ve had the liar and deceiver in my ear harping at me with discouraging and negative thoughts about myself, my friends, my ministry, my husband, my kids, my parents, you name it he’s tried getting me down with it. From things like:
“Kelly is at home all alone right now without a husband, and your husband hasn’t gotten any in a long time, they’ll probably get together tonight while he’s over there fixing her car…” (Sometimes he’s not very good at firing his darts at my heart…)
“Kelly don’t forget about me when you move…” (sometimes he’s right on target.)
At every point I had the choice, do I believe this thought that I just captured running through my mind? Or do I cast it out like yesterday’s trash? I’ll admit, there were a few that I let them burn me a little as those firey darts started to sink deeper into my skin but as far as I can tell I was able to eventually hold up my trusty shield of faith and extinguish them all one by one. But it wasn’t easy. I’m not altogether sure when the testing began, but I know that by Wednesday night I was starting to droop from battle fatigue, Thursday wasn’t too terrible, but Friday and Saturday were just plain… well… a pain! Wednesday I described it as “static” it was becoming difficult for me to function and hear the Holy Spirit clearly. That static seemed to intensify with each passing day until I came to the middle of the day today. I’ve been working hard to prepare for my daughter’s birthday party tomorrow and simply didn’t have time for a spiritual battle in the midst of it all. I’m sure you know how it goes. Yet that’s precisely what was happening. But God is good and helps us in our time of need. He had scheduled for one of our neighbor’s daughter’s birthday party to be Saturday afternoon so that I could have two whole hours all to myself to sort things out. Isn’t He the greatest!?!
There I sat in the middle of my bed, my Bible clutched to my chest praying that the Holy Spirit would come and fill me with His fire, to open my eye because I want to see Him! Begging God to help me through this ring of fire I seemed to be passing through and it dawned on me. This was the same test that I had been through five years ago when my daughter was born! You see, I had Ecclampsia with my son, which is really high blood pressure that resulted in me having two seizures, my kidneys had started to shut down and we had to do an emergency c-section where I felt like I was going to have a third seizure right there on the operating table. In other words, it was really bad and the likelyhood of it happening with subsequent pregnancies was very likely. So when I found out that I was pregnant again, after trying for what felt like an eternity, I was thrilled and terrified all at the same time. I sat down in the middle of my bed and prayed. I told God, You gave me this baby so I know that this is Your plan. I am choosing to trust You with my life Lord. If I die, I know where I’m going and I’m trusting you to take care of my husband and my son in my absence. If I have another seizure and tramatic pregnancy, I’m trusting You that it is Your plan. Whatever happens with this baby and me, we are in Your hands because I’m trusting You. And I will never forget the feeling of peace that washed over me after I prayed. No Holy Spirit words were spoken that I remember, but I just had this all over knowing that it wasn’t going to happen again. That I wouldn’t have a seizure again and that I wouldn’t die. I could proceed in this pregnancy knowing that it would end well.
Well, I spent six weeks on bedrest due to early high blood pressure and protein levels. The last week of that was in the hospital under the close watch of my doctor monitoring everything. By ALL outward appearances it certainly looked like we were headed right down that same path that ended in seizures and possible death, but the entire ride down that dark road I clung to the peace, that moment of Light when God had washed over me with the confidence that it “wouldn’t happen again”. Yet here we were and it was certainly looking like it was happening all over again. My Mom and husband were both a wreck. They were trying to hide it from me, but neither one of them was doing a very good job. I kept trying to tell them that it would be OK, and that God had told me that I wouldn’t have another seizure, but since I was the only one that had had that Light washing experience it was really hard… well… probably impossible for them to really understand what I meant. I had the peace that passes all understanding, they didn’t. At least not as much of it as I did. Then the day came when all the tested levels came back at just the right amounts to cause our doctor to breeze into the room and say “It’s time! Let’s have a baby!” Then whisk me off to the operating room to have another c-section. Within an hour from the announcement our little Princess was born, healthy and strong, and so was her mother! No worse for the wear, just tired and very glad that the whole ordeal was OVER!
I had spent nine months fighting the voice of the Liar trying to tempt me into giving up the belief that God would protect me and that He would hold true on His promise to keep me alive. I had a week where every single outward appearance pointed to the same end as the first time… but I didn’t give up and I didn’t end up in that same place either! God held up His end of the bargain, He ALWAYS does! God is faithful one-hundred percent of the time. In that moment on the middle of my bed He didn’t tell me nothing would happen, He gave me a peace that I would not have another seizure or die and I didn’t!
My friend, tests aren’t for God to discover what we’re made of and what we believe, He already knows those things. Tests are for US to discover what we’re made of and what we believe. An untested belief is just that, untested. Just like an untested invention is an unknown, a question as to whether or not it will hold up under the pressure it was built to withstand, so are we! Until we’ve walked through the ring of fire we really don’t know what we’re capable of accomplishing or what we REALLY believe. And, if we know what we believe, we may not know if it will stand up under the pressure of a dramatic circumstance.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
She considered God faithful to fulfill His promise to her… and He was.
Tests are an opportunity where we choose to believe in God or believe in our circumstances. Choosing to believe in God is NEVER the wrong choice! Even when it seems like He’s telling you to sacrifice your only hope at achieving the promise He made, there’s always a ram in the bush just waiting to be discovered. (Genesis 22)
Today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1-9:18
God bless you!!!!!
Today’s Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-4:16
I was excited to get up at 4:30 this morning and open my Bible to a new letter! We’re up to Ecclesiastes!
While meditating on the verse, “a time to seek and a time to lose”, from our reading today God said “Toil is meaningless” over and over. Then I had a vision of my husband and I working out together in the front yard of his parent’s former house (the house faces east we were facing west). My Father-in-law was standing near the front door of the house, facing east, watching us work. My Mother-in-law was in the side yard (which faces the south and was straight in front of us) planting a bunch of deep purple flowers next to a very tall straight tree. After this God said to me, “The gardener has prepared a place for you”, “The gardener has prepared a work for you.”, “The gardener has prepared a glory for you.” The place is your heart where you meet with Him, the work is your calling, where you serve with Him, and the glory is the end result of your time in the garden of relationship with Him.
Here are some examples from the Bible. Daniel just prayed because He loved God, yet through his relationship with God Daniel was brought to a very high position and much glory. David sang because he loved God, yet through his relationship with God David was crowned King and wrote most of the Psalms. Jesus was born a king, yet He served faithfully all His years. He toiled to keep all the Law without flaw and He did it. On the day of the cross He was crowned with thorns and the curse so that there would be no more curse of toil for us to bear. All that is left is the peace that passes all understanding. Yes, there is still hard work, but there is a big difference between hard work and toiling. Hard work brings joy when done in the peace that comes from knowing that you are doing it for the Lord. Toil is just hard work; there is no joy, peace or reward in it. When we lean not on our own understanding but acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice through everything that we do He makes our paths straight.
Yesterday I worked for six and a half hours to make chicken and noodles from scratch for a friend who needed some cheering up. But my hard work wasn’t toil, in fact it brought me much joy because I knew that I was not only working for my family and my friend but for Jesus too. Toil is meaningless, hard work is not. Work as though you are working for the Lord and it barely feels like hard work anymore either, because you’re enjoying yourself while you do it.
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 32:1-34:12
You know, it’s amazing to me how I’ve read some of these things time and time again and never picked up on the weight of significance that they have. In reading today in Deuteronomy I was, of all places, sitting on my bathroom floor. I had stayed up late last night finishing a post and so my husband and I both inadvertently overslept this morning. Which consequently meant that I didn’t get my snuggle time with Jesus this morning like I usually do. Instead I started my day with the morning chaos of getting two males ready for school and work and out the door all with a four-year-old girl hanging on my leg begging to watch Phineas and Ferb. Sigh… not my preferred relaxing way to start the day, but I’m not complaining, all of that is a tremendous blessing and I appreciate it greatly! In fact I wouldn’t know what I would do without it; we have fun in the morning. So having my morning routine disrupted meant that I was forced to grab my Bible, lock myself in the bathroom for about thirty minutes and devour what I could from His word before going any further into my day. And there, in the midst of my back leaning against the vanity doors, toes perched against the wall, Bible teetering on my knees, no pen to take notes, daughter knocking “Mommy….” I noticed something. The majority of what we read today and yesterday was curses, darkness, dread and condemnation – not very fun to read about and start your day with… unless you know the end of the story. There I was on the cold linoleum floor and the Holy Spirit ever so softly whispers “He took it all”. I wept.
Jesus took it all. Every curse that we’ve spent the last two days reading about, Jesus took them; every one of them, He took it upon Himself at the cross. For our sake, for you, for me, for our children and our children’s children God put all our darkness on Jesus. Jesus knew no sin; He went through His entire life without sinning. And yet here I am, when I was focused on the law and couldn’t go an hour without sinning! Jesus took it all so that through Him, His sacrifice, His blood, we might become the righteousness of God. US, righteous. Jesus saved us from the law, He became the curse for us. Wow! What a mighty God we serve! Lord Jesus thank You! May we live this day in absolute awe of the sacrifice that You made all for us!
Jesus Paid it all by Kristian Stanfill
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 29:1-31:30
Yesterday while writing I stumbled over something that rocked my world. Love, God’s love, is perfected with us. God isn’t complete without us, just like my grandpa whose wife just went home to heaven a few months ago. The other day he said to me “I never knew how much it would hurt”. To be without this woman of his dreams, the partner of his soul, it hurts. Without the object of his love he is in pain, excruciatingly so. God feels that without us, He is in excruciating pain without us in His life. I can’t imagine the pain that Jesus felt on the cross, physical and spiritual, but I am imagining that it was something akin to a birthing pain. The kind of pain that you endure because you know that the reward that comes from that pain is so very worth the cost. The joy that comes from holding that baby in your arms makes the pain of birthing it fade into nothingness. The joy that Jesus feels, holding you in His arms, filling you with His Spirit, loving others through your arms and your words and your deeds, it’s all worth it for Him. And because His Spirit is within you, like a husband within his wife, the more you get to know His gentle nudging and groaning the easier it is to respond to Him. I have found that often times it is not in the manner that most people would expect but rather at times that love comes out in a convicting way through the truth that can sometimes hurt. That doesn’t make it any less the truth or love. My husband tells me when he is frustrated with me, when he is proud of me, and when he is pleased with me. But he is a very quiet man and often times I have to draw it out of him, God can be like that. It has taken me years to learn how to read my husband’s feelings and I’m still not that great at it. The same is true with God, our union with Him is one of give and take, gentle nudges in one direction or the other. Yet at the same time it is also late night conversations in the dark through tears and laughter in the park over the funny things the animals are doing at your feet. It’s through telling glances over the dinner table, a conversation with your eyes; that’s what being married to God is all about. It’s a constant conversation in all the different forms of communication. We wouldn’t dream of only talking to our spouse once a week for an hour. Yet with God it’s the common concept that as long as we go to church and spend our time there every week then we’re doing what God wants us to do. If I went to visit my husband at work for an hour a week, but never talked to him any other time during the week would that make any sense? For the longest time it was my belief that as long as I did all the right things I was doing what would please God. Little did I understand at the time that what pleases God the most is when we acknowledge His presence.
Several years ago a movie by the name of Jerry Mcguire came out, perhaps you’ve heard of it, and there was a scene in it that became very well known. The main character Jerry and his girlfriend were standing in an elevator with another couple that just happened to be deaf. As the elevator lifted them all higher to their destinations the deaf couple silently signed to one another with definite looks of complete and total adoration towards one another and then the doors opened and they exited the elevator. Jerry turned to his girlfriend and asked “what did he say?” and she told him “He said, ‘You complete me’.” Then through the course of the movie Jerry and his girlfriend end up splitting up, he hits the big time and once there realizes that it means nothing to him without someone to share it with so he goes speeding back to his girlfriend’s house where she’s having a party and he storms in the door, says “hello” and then enters into this big long drawn out speech about how much he loves and needs her and none of the success meant anything without her and she finally stops him and says “You had me at hello”. *romantic sigh*
There God was up on His throne, He had it all, fame, fortune, power, prestige but it meant nothing without someone to share it with. His life was hollow without us! How awesome is that??? We complete HIM! We are His other half, His love, His Beloved. That’s how He sees us, His Beloved.
Does He complete you? Does God’s Spirit fill you up in ways you never knew you were empty? He can! But He’s a gentleman, He stands at the door and knocks… and then waits for you to open the door to Him. He will never force His way into your heart, He will wait to be invited. But OH! Once He is invited in you will never want Him to leave. You won’t be able to imagine your life without Him, because He DOES complete you in ways that you never knew He could. God has a way of making your life whole in ways that you will make you simply shake your head in disbelief. I keep finding myself saying “God, how can you be this good to me?” I see Him everywhere and in everything now.
Today my daughter and I went on a walk in the park where the trees grow right up next to the trail.
Those trees are filled with life, from birds
to bees, squirrels and chipmunks the lifesongs of all that surrounded us simply resonated. At one point there was this sharp chirping sound that was coming from a fairly low spot in the trees very near us. Keeping my eyes trained on where I thought the sound was coming from I slowly crept closer to it, camera in the ready and then I spotted the noisemaker, a chipmunk on a twig! I’m not sure that I’d ever been that close to one before today. As we walked I was in awe of the way that the sun warmly stroked the heads of some of the flowers while others immediately next to those in the sun were in the cool dappled shade from the trees’ leaves above. I was amazed at how the power of the perfume of a stand of flowers could overwhelm my senses as I passed them by. I was intrigued by a side trail that led to I knew not where, only to look closer and see God’s glory reflecting from the face of a lone flower on the side of the mystery dirt path. To me, to see nature, God’s creation is to marvel at God Himself. To know an artist you look at their work, to know an author your read their books, to know a friend you talk to them. Delve deeper into your faith, test yourself and your motives today. Are you operating on a surface level in your relationship with Jesus? Are you only going through the motions of faith, or are you soaring above the storm through faith? Question yourself, how have I seen God today? Where have I seen God today? Have I been Jesus for someone today? What you do for the least of these you do for Him.
Read: Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68
Well, today’s the day we come to the passage of scripture that I’ve been dreading and looking forward to the most. It’s the if-then statement of blessings and curses. For anyone who is a student of ancient law you know this section very well… I know I do! This is the section of scripture that almost killed me. You see, I had discovered God, like, REALLY discovered Him; I came to the eye opening experience that God isn’t just some religion He’s REAL! The God I had learned about my entire life was, well is, real. I was so in awe of this creator God wanting a relationship with me that I was desperate to please Him. I was so in love with this man named Jesus that I wanted to DO something to gain His attention, His favor, His love and approval. Well, I’ve always been fond of the Old Testament, the stories, the people, the rules – so clear cut, like bold black and white drawings it was so easy to see who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I could read those rules and follow them and KNOW that I was pleasing God, right? I could do everything that everyone on the radio, behind a pulpit or behind a pen told me to do and I could know that I was gaining God’s favor right? Oh, so wrong! It makes me want to weep remembering the cords of religion that I tied around myself during that time in my life. I was trying so hard to please God and by doing so I was making Him weep. I was trying so desperately to be someone else when all He wants me to be is who HE made me to be – Imperfect ME.
I went to extremes to try and please God, I was exhausting myself trying to make Him happy with me and He lovingly sent me several messengers to tell me that He was happy with me and to stop trying so hard to please Him. But I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I did something wrong, if I tripped and fell in my faith that God would get angry and curse me. I was spending so much time reading in the Old Testament without reading it through the filter of the cross that I was falling deeper and deeper into a pit of despair. It got so bad that I was constantly asking God to forgive me throughout the day, hardly an hour would go by without a sin occurring and that was on the days when I hadn’t even left the house. And then I heard it, the words that changed my life. Not instantly mind you, the Accuser would have none of that, it was a word of hope that God planted deep into my heart so that it would be rooted deeply enough to withstand the tugging and clawing of the Accuser. That word was “forgiven”, past tense, as in it’s done, finished, over, I have been forgiven. Not He is in a constant state of forgiving me, I have been forgiven. Everything that I will ever do that stands against me in the court of Heavenly Law HAS BEEN (past tense) forgiven.
You see the key to my dilemma was that I was trying. I was trying to be good, I was trying to do the right thing, I was trying to love others with my works, I was trying trying trying trying… But that’s just it! His burden is EASY and His yoke is Light! When we are in Christ there is no trying, there is only doing or not doing. When Jesus died on the cross He went through so much more than all the physical things that we saw. Jesus was fulfilling a supernatural law, supernatural things generally can not be seen with physical eyes. Jesus endured so much MORE than we even know about, things that we could never or would never want to imagine, and part of my prayers this morning I was thanking Him for what He gave up for us on the cross, so much more than we could ever imagine and you know what He told me “I gave it all”. Jesus was not born of man, He was born from the Holy Spirit of God, He was fully man and fully God – how, we will never understand this side of heaven, but He was. That day on the cross Jesus did something, He took upon Himself a task that no man before or ever again will ever have to endure, He took upon Himself total and complete darkness. By allowing the Father to pile upon His shoulders the entirety of our sins He was allowing the Father to completely cover Him with darkness. The One who is The Light was smothered in our darkness. And for that time the candle was snuffed completely out. In Matthew 27:50 it tells us And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. His spirit, THE Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and Love and Peace and Patience, the Spirit of joy and kindness, goodness and faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; the Spirit that made Him The Messiah He gave that up – for us. For me. For you. He gave up His absolute most precious thing in life and in death, He gave up His Spirit. The essence of who He is, He gave that up for us.
So that we could continue to worship Him in lip service only?
So that we could keep following the same religious rules that had tied up all the Israelites for thousands of years?
He gave up that most precious Spirit of His very own so that He could share it with us!
On the day that Moses walked down the mountain with the Law written on tablets of stone 3,000 people died. The Law is referred to as the ministry of death. Yet on the day that the Holy Spirit came on Pentacost and wrote itself onto hearts of flesh 3,000 people LIVED! The Holy Spirit, Jesus’ spirit, is the Law of Life, it is the ministry of love! Following Jesus isn’t about following rules made up by men, it’s about following the man you love!
Almost twelve years ago I stood next to my Beloved in the front of a church filled with family and friends and bedecked with flowers, satin bows and plenty of tulle where I vowed to never leave or forsake him, the love of my life. A few short years later he decided that he didn’t want to work in a factory for the rest of his life and that he needed to go back to school to be a mechanic for Mercedes. In order to do this our little family of three had to move three hours away from our quiet little small town life in our huge rental house and live in a tiny apartment in the suburbs of the big city of Chicago for two years. We would be on an extremely tight budget that left no room for frivolities like trips to the zoo with a two-year-old, or even weekend movies. Those were two hard dark years, but we found ways to have fun and enjoy where we were at the time. And above all that, we got through it too! At no point did I ever consider not going to that hard place with my husband, not once. Was I upset that he asked me to leave the comforts of our hometown, the closeness of our parents and everything that we had ever known about life? Yes, yes I was. But did I believe that he was asking this of me because he knew that in the end having endured this time of difficulty would benefit our family tremendously? Yes, yes I did. As much as I hated the thought of leaving my home and family, the thought of leaving my husband was unthinkable. I was more than willing to go wherever he thought was best for our family, and I agreed with him.
Love isn’t about rules. Love doesn’t insist on it’s own way. Love is about being with the one that you love. My husband and I don’t have a set of rules for each other that we follow; you have to take out the trash for me to love you, you have to make sure my laundry is always done for me to know that you love me, you have to have sex with me everyday… love isn’t like that! We would never dream of treating our spouses like that… yet it’s OK for us to think that that’s how Christ treats His bride – the Church? Do we really see Him that way? I did. I saw Him that way for a very long time. And you know what the result of that was? The harder I tried to be the perfect girl for Him, the more I failed.
My husband is an absolutely amazing man. He does so much for our family, he sacrifices so much of his time and his own plans just for us; to make us happy. And yes, there are times when he has to stick to his guns and do what he had originally planned because he knows that its important. But whenever possible he is more than willing to bend over backwards to spend time doing something to help us because he loves us. This weekend he had plans of his own, I’m honestly not sure what they were but I know that they were plans to work outside. I wanted to paint the kitchen before our daughter’s birthday party this coming weekend. And while he certainly didn’t have to help me, remember he had other plans that didn’t include painting the kitchen with me, he spent hours taping the cabinets and counter tops for me (I’m horrible at this part of painting) so that the finished product would look just that much better. Folks, that’s love. That’s love in the deepest sense of love, giving of yourself and your time and talents for the ones that you love and care the most about. Jesus did that for us on the cross and He’s still doing it today. At this very moment He is sitting at the right hand of God talking to the Father about us and what He, our husband, thinks is best for each and every one of us. That’s love. Jesus sitting as our advocate in the courtroom of heavenly Law where the Father is the judge and Satan the Accuser stands against us trying to remind us of our continual sins. Notice I said trying to remind US of our sins, he knows there’s no point anymore trying to tell the Father because Jesus is there, sitting in His own finished work of ultimate forgiveness as living breathing proof that we have already been forgiven for what we do and say.
Do you feel like I do right now? Like you need to DO something to thank God for this ultimate forgiveness, this radical grace? I was praying asking God what He thought I could do for my husband to thank him for what he did for me this weekend and God said “ask him what he desires from you”. And it clicked for me, “OK Lord, what do YOU desire from me?” Now, get ready to be blown over by His response because I know I was.
“Uhhhh… try what Lord?”
“Try to be perfect”
“Um, Lord, haven’t we already been through this? I’ve tried that, I can’t do it remember the harder I tried to be perfect the more I failed miserably.”
“Beloved daughter, what is perfect?”
“Without flaw or blemish”
“and who made you?”
“Do I make mistakes? Did I make you flawed?”
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14
“So is there any part of you, physically, emotionally, or spiritually that I did not make? Is there any part of you that is flawed or blemished in MY eyes, your maker?”
“Remember, My ways are not your ways; My standards are not your standards. I don’t expect you to be Me! I expect you to be who I made you to be, YOU!”
1 John 5:13-17 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know that and to believe the love that God has for us, God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.
As Jesus is so are we. Love perfected with us. We KNOW that we are living in Christ because He has given us His Spirit! This is the LIGHT! Jesus gave it all on the cross, He gave it all to us and the all that He gave us was Himself, His Spirit. And when we choose to get married to Jesus, whether standing at an altar in a church or in our backyards or even in our cars; we receive the greatest gift of all time – His Spirit! God, the Spirit of the living breathing God comes and lives in your flesh. And that Spirit of God that lives in us is nothing less than the Spirit of LOVE. But that’s not all, there’s more, by God’s Spirit of love living within us, love is perfected… love is perfected with us… love wasn’t perfect without us. God wasn’t perfect, isn’t perfect without you and me living in Him. Woah! That’s huge! To say God isn’t perfect without little old imperfect me, well, that’s a mighty statement. But there it is! And think about it, it makes perfect sense, love isn’t love without someone to love! In Christ’s love we are made perfect, the unpalatable is made palatable. Like a strawberry protein shake, the dusty pink powder is made useable when it is mixed with the milk, through Christ our imperfections are made perfect.
As Jesus is so are we.
Pray: Morning Prayer
Read: Deuteronomy 23:1-26:19
This is actually a word that I caught yesterday too but it wasn’t that word’s time quite yet; today is. The concept of a promised land isn’t just for the ancient Israelites, and it’s not just about heaven someday, did you know that it’s for you – today?!? It really is! Each and every one of us has a promised land, a place that God has promised us; whether it’s a physical land, material item, a calling, a career, a child, a dream fulfilled, you name it! I believe that in this life we can have many promised lands in many different areas of our lives, but honestly, there will be a main promised land. For me it is my calling, my ministry.
The promised land isn’t something that we originally seek on our own, rather it is something that God shows us a little peek of, promises it to be ours, and then we wait as patiently as possible while He prepares it for the proper time. The Promised Land, for each of us, is something different yet like Abraham waiting for Isaac, it may take many years to get to that place of promise, perhaps even generations. Abraham never lived to see all of his own promises from God completely fulfilled. Yes, he got to hold baby Isaac and watch him grow. He got to see, live in and walk through the promised land of Canaan but he never got to see his children live and thrive there; they moved to Egypt to be with Joseph before that could happen. But the promise was given to Abraham first then passed down through the generations until just the right time when Moses came along and God used him to lead their whole family out of slavery (plus a few Egyptians too)! The seed, or children, of Abraham had to wait a long time before their promised land was again in their sights, but God is faithful to His promises and He delivered them into it just like He said that He would; on the day that He said that He would!
In Genesis eleven when we first meet Abraham his father is traveling to Canaan with his son Abraham, Abraham’s wife Sarai and Abraham’s nephew Lot. Yet the traveling party never makes it all the way to Canaan, they settle in Haran instead, perhaps because Abraham’s father was sick, who knows. The Bible doesn’t say why they left in the first place or why they stopped short of their goal, but I find it very interesting that something within Abraham’s father inspired him to travel towards the land of promise and managed to get Abraham half-way there. After his father dies at Haran God comes to Abraham and says “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3) Notice here that God doesn’t point out that He’s going to take Abraham to Canaan, just to “the land that I will show you”, it just happens to be Canaan the land that his father had set out for years ago. The journey his father started Abraham finished.
In Genesis, chapter fifteen, God promises Abraham that He will bless him with a child to inherit the newly mentioned “very great” reward (Genesis 15:1). God also promises that this seed will be planted in the land that he is now standing. So while Abraham is in that place of promise as a stranger his child’s children will stand there as residents, deeply rooted in the rich soil of promise. Abraham carried on his own father’s dream of living in Canaan, his children will continue that dream of not only living there, but possessing it. They will not be foreigners, strangers in that land of Promise; they will live there, they will thrive there and it will be their possession. And what-da-ya know, low and behold a few hundred years later not only were the descendants (or seeds) of Abraham as numerous as the “stars in the sky”, but they were also the owners of their very own Promised Land! That place that generations ago God and Abraham stood and cut a covenant of blood signifying that God would uphold his promise to Abraham, they now stood in that promise, on that land, and it was theirs. They could hold that dirt in their hands and say “This is my possession”. They were able to plant seeds of their own into that dirt and watch them grow, bear much fruit and flourish!
Each and every one of us is filled with seeds of our own. Seeds of faith… seeds of hope… seeds of love… seeds of promise… the seeds of all the generations yet to come they are all within us. Being parents, mothers and fathers, we are in the process of tending to those seeds that have been planted and are now growing outside our bodies. As we tend to our children day in and day out we are filling them with new seeds. Seeds of faith, seeds of hope, seeds of love, seeds of promise, seeds that will continue to grow within our children to someday bear fruit to feed all the thousands of generations within them that are yet to come.
In today’s reading, chapter twenty-five verses five through ten, we read about the custom of taking your deceased brother’s wife and perpetuating his name. This section of scripture is special to me because it directly relates to the first Tamar’s story in Genesis thirty-eight. She was in this very situation where her first husband, Er, died before she had any children with him. So she was given to his brother, Onan, to bear a child in Er’s name. Only when Onan, went to “do his duty” he spilled his seed onto the ground denying her any hope of having a child with him in his brother’s name. Well, God really didn’t like how Onan was abusing Tamar and removed him from the picture. At the time Er’s youngest brother, shelah, was too young to fulfill his duty to Tamar; so Tamar’s father in law, Judah -great grandson of Abraham, sent her to live with her father. This was a huge disgrace to her. As Shelah grew of age Judah did not do what was right and give Tamar to him to be his wife so that she could bear sons in Er and Onan’s names through Shelah. At that point, when it became obvious that Judah wasn’t going to do the right thing, Tamar had every right to completely disgrace Judah and his entire household by publicly removing his shoe and spitting in his face. But she didn’t do that. She didn’t want to bring disgrace to the family that she had married into. So she chose to force Judah to do the right thing instead. In spite of having been disgraced herself, she chose to honor Judah and his household by slyly tricking Judah into sleeping with her, at just the right time of month no less, in order to ensure a child through Judah’s family line. She was not only standing up for herself and her own rights as a widow, she was standing up for the honor and the future of their family! Tamar stood up for those little seeds within herself that hadn’t had a chance to grow yet. She stood up for those little seeds of generations to come; Perez and Zerah – the twins she bore from Judah, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz – the husband of Ruth, Obed, Jesse – the father of David, King David - the father of the second Tamar and Solomon, Rehoboam, Abihah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manassah, Amos, Josiah, Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthen, Jacob, Joseph, and even King Jesus. Each and every one of those ever-so-important people were within her womb, waiting to have a chance to live, to sprout and grow, to make an impact on this world and if she hadn’t stood up for them, they never would have been.
When we plant seeds of faith and hope and love into our children we are doing so much more than simply tending to the sapling sprouting in our little home garden. We are tending the mighty tree that will bear the seed containing fruit of all the generations to come! And who knows what those little generational seeds will do? We have the opportunity to not only carry on (or sever) the generational cycles that have been passed down to us, but also the opportunity to pass them down to the next generation. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says, “You can count the number seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” And it is so very true! God knows each and every apple that will come from your seed, He knows the fruit that each precious seed will bear, and plant and grow in its life and time and in all the lifetimes to come. God knows the plans that He has for you… and your generations to come. He knows the plans and He knows the promises and He will be faithful to fulfill each and every one of them just like He did with the Israelites and their own Promised Land.
When the LORD promised Abraham a son to inherit his legacy AND the land they were standing in; each and every one of those numbered starry-eyed children was in Abraham’s loins at the time the promise was given and sealed with blood. Beloved… when God made these promises… He wasn’t making them to Abraham alone, He was making them to us all. For, as believers, we are all Abraham’s seed. Oh my friend! WHEN, not if, not maybe, but WHEN you come into the land the LORD your God has promised you as an inheritance, take possession of it, live deeply rooted in it, love being in it, rejoice because of it! Because it’s YOURS, all yours, live in the abundant life that Jesus’ blood sealed for YOU. Like turning your nose up at a dinner your mother slaved over just for you, it would insult Jesus if you didn’t dig in and enjoy the freedoms and the pleasantries of this life full-well knowing that they are but a shadow of what is still yet to come. The future Promised Land of Heaven. May you live abundantly today under the promise of Him who is does exceedingly abundantly above all that you can hope or imagine! Amen!
Pray: Morning Prayer
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 19:11-22:30
My word for the day: “Mixed”
So I’ve been feeling the Spirit’s leading for the last few weeks that I should start a “word for the day” where I share with you the word, or words, in the reading or from the reading that really popped out to me at the time I read. But the time wasn’t right until now. Yay1 J God has been talking to me a lot about teaching you more about meditation. I mention it often but I haven’t really ever taken the time to actually tell you about it. Many times when we hear the word meditate we first think of a monk on some mountain top cross-legged, closed eyed, oooooohhhhhmmmmmm-ing along to himself. And yes, that is one way of meditation, but truly meditation can also be as simple as laying down on your bed, or the floor, breathing deeply to calm and relax your mind and body and talking with God about what you’ve just read. I’ve mentioned a lot lately God’s responses to the things that I have asked Him about that day’s reading, this is often when I receive those responses from Him – while meditating.
Today, one of the many things in the reading that popped out to me was the section in chapter twenty-two about not mixing things.
*Verse 5: A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.
* verse 9: You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of see, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard.
* verse 10: You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
* verse 11: You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.
I was perplexed by all these things that were not allowed to mix and in my margin I wrote “don’t mix: keep things separate… but not any more, now He tells us to mix!” When I wrote the word “separate” God caused me to think of Him telling the Israelites to be separate from the other nations, set apart. They were not allowed to socialize with them, marry them, nothing. They were then much like the Amish are now, not that they aren’t polite when outsiders meet or talk to them, but they live in a completely separate world from us. This is what God called the Israelites to do in that time.
And then there was Jesus. (Oh isn’t His name just like a song?!? I love it!) When Jesus came, all those people that the Hebrews weren’t supposed to socialize with, the lepers, the prostitutes, the Samaritans, all of them flocked to Jesus… and He welcomed them. Before He was crucified a gentile (non-Jewish) woman came and begged Him to heal her daughter to which Jesus replied that His miracles were for the Jews, but when she persisted saying that even the dogs get to eat the crumbs from the master’s table He caved and healed her daughter in that moment. So even at that time, before the resurrection, Jesus was reluctant to offer Himself to those outside the Jewish faith and nation. But AFTER the resurrection is a completely different story! After the resurrection Jesus appointed Paul to minister mainly to the gentile nations and people! Although the message of salvation through Jesus was first intended for the Jews, it certainly was not intended for them ONLY.
So with all this in mind, when I finished reading today’s section I lay face-down on my bed, my Bible nestled by my head and I questioned Him “Lord, for what purpose did You mix these things together?” And I just love what His response was! “To make something new!” He then proceeded to show me what He meant. He beckoned my ear to hear my husband in the kitchen mixing up his recovery drink (the protein shake he drinks after he works out). I could hear him pouring the milk, tapping the pink powder out of the measuring cup, snapping on the lid and then shaking the contents vigorously. The milk in the shake is palatable by itself but you would never ordinarily eat the protein shake power on its own yet when mixed together they created something completely different and new and perfectly lovely! The milk on its own is wonderful, pure, good for your body. Then there’s the powder, it has all the elements in it to be something good and healthy for our bodies, but on its own it just doesn’t work. However when it is mixed with milk or water it is just the thing your body needs to help it grow strong and healthier than it would if you had just drank water or milk. Separate they are both good, together they are better.
As I am writing this God is really opening my eyes to the next level of this lesson, I love how He does that! God, through His word, is that milk and we are the powder. His word, the Bible, is pure it’s good, it’s everything that we need… except it does us no good if it sits on a shelf and gathers dust from lack of use. Then there’s us, the dusty powder; when sitting in the can on the shelf we too are quite useless. We have the potential to be something great and do much good, but without the word of God within us, the Living Water flowing through our veins we simply aren’t that palatable. Ahhhh! But together, mmmmmm, now that’s a tasty new drink! Together with God through a daily walk with Him we become something altogether different, someone that has the ability to bring health and healing to another dusty powder person. We have the ability to show them the milk! We have the ability to show them the stream of Living water that we go to everyday to fill up our own cups to keep ourselves from becoming dusty powder once again. We have the ability to open our mouths and spew out the water of His work to hydrate a thirsty soul. We have that ability through Christ.
You know, it’s good to be “mixed up” with God! Don’t you think so?
Pray: Morning Prayer
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 16:1-19:10
Oh my friend, to stand where I stand now, on the banks of the Jordan river with my toes tickling the water’s edge watching them part. This morning I stand on the cusp of a new season in life, and knowing that it is a new season is rare. The seasons of life usually come and go with such fluency that we rarely notice the passing of one season and the beginning of the next; but not this time. The last twenty-four hours have been a complete whirlwind of activity! And while the teacher in me is desperate to tell you what God showed me through His word this morning, the friend in me is antsy to share with you the happenings of my life, so I think I will let the author in me speak first by telling you that I will be writing what the Spirit leads me to write and I will trust that the teacher in me will find a way to be a really great teacher by somehow working the lesson into the story. That is what will make the lesson more fun and interesting to read about, right?
So last Thursday night, a week ago from today, God has me stop on the way home from dance class to take pictures of the field of yellow flowers, the sundog and a street sign and just as I’m snapping the picture of the street signs He whispers “crossroads” to me, freezing me in my place, hands still lifted with camera ready to shoot another shot of the street signs. This same thing happened last year, not the street signs mind you, but God telling me about the crossroads that I was standing in and telling me to choose the path I wanted to go down. Now, I don’t know about you my friend, but this certainly has never been a regular occurrence in my life… until now that is!
There I stood literally in the middle of a country crossroads with the Holy Spirit speaking to me about choosing a path! What’s a girl to do? Choose a path, right? Ahhh, but which one? The path I’m already headed down has been one serious adventure so far, but yet I know that there are dangers untold up ahead, do I want to keep going? Then there’s this other way, the path where there are fewer dangers, but then there are fewer adventures as well. It would still be a ride, but it would be more of a kiddie ride at the fair rather than a roller coaster at a big amusement park. It’s almost like God’s got me standing at the crossroads of two paths in the park, one leads to the big rides and the other leads to the smaller, less intimidating rides, and asks me, “so which one do you want to ride? Both will be fun, I’ll be with you no matter what, and whichever ride you choose when it’s over we’ll still be going home together. So, whatcha think?”
Well, being the adventurous type I knew that I would never be able to stand my heavenly self looking back on my life and seriously saying “I took the easy road”. So I told God I’d take the adventure. The very next day things started happening, mostly just in my spirit, perhaps it was preparing for today! Monday morning I was overwhelmed by the message that God had given me to speak, a message of redemption and thankfulness through the sacrifice of praise, how lucky am I that I get to spend my life speaking a message like that??? But then God really kicked me into gear! Tuesday is usually my day off, I don’t cook or clean I only write and… well… sleep. (I gotta rest sometime with the crazy schedule that I keep.) Yet, strangely enough I found myself completely compelled to finish formatting the book I had been working on, “From Donuts to Daycare”. I worked on it all day like a mad woman, copying and pasting, resizing photos, pulling everything together until I got to the last chapter “The Pink Polka Dot Kitty”. I went to add the post after that one and stopped in mid-air, “nope, this one doesn’t go in here.” And I knew that that book was finished. So I went to work on the cover page again and looked at the title “From Donuts to Daycare” and I said “Lord, that’s a great title… but there isn’t a single thing in this book about donuts OR daycare!!! What’s the deal?” If I hadn’t already been sitting down I probably would have rolled on the floor laughing at His response. “Well, I had to get you started working on this book somehow and I knew that giving you the cover and title would be the only way to do it, so I gave you a cover and a title.” And in that instant I knew that that book’s name wasn’t “From Donuts to Daycare”. Having just spent an entire day working through it I had read bits and pieces from each chapter and was able to watch the story develop and unfold right before my eyes. That season in my life hadn’t been about donuts or daycare, it was about finding the Pink Polka Dot Kitty – Grace. And not just any grace, God’s radical grace! The kind of grace that is so good you have a hard time believing that He can be that good! A grace that He showed me through a stuffed pink polka dot kitty that I bought as a gift for my daughter.
So in the same instant that I knew the name of that book wasn’t “From Donuts to Daycare” I also knew that its name was “The Pink Polka Dot Kitty” and that I had already made the cover weeks ago when I wrote the piece about the kitty. So by Tuesday evening I was finished formatting and had the entire book uploaded to my Kindle e-book publisher. Yay! By Wednesday morning it was available for download on Kindle. Yay! I went to my Parks & Prayer meeting at the park on Wednesday morning, which lasted FIVE hours! It’s too bad none of us like each other, I got so sunburned. Anyway, while we were praying I asked for prayers for “The Pink Polka Dot Kitty” and while we were praying one of the ladies says “God says I need to order twenty-five copies”… WHAT???? She’s co-hosting their Mother’s Day banquet this coming Friday and wanted TWENTY-FIVE copies in the next two days! I told her I would do what I could. That evening when she came by my house to drop off the check to pay for the books she asked me to come to their women’s book club in two weeks to talk about “The Pink Polka Dot Kitty”! YOWZA! So in twenty-four hours my life went from placid and serene to crazy and frenzied! Suddenly I had twenty-five books to get printed, a speaking engagement to prepare for, a little girl to take to Kindergarten screening and oh, do a little writing along the way too while you’re at it sweet-heart.
I started this day much like I do every day with my Cinnamon Apple tea and my Bible, but very quickly got spiraled into the chaos that comes with stepping out into the unknown. Now please don’t read me wrong, by no means am I complaining, it just may seem that way due to the spinning of my head at the moment! When Daddy picks us up to dance, He likes to spin and make us a little dizzy at times! It amazes me to no end how quickly things in life can change. I’ve just sold more books in the last twenty-four hours than I have in the last year! Only God can do something like that.
Pray the Morning Prayer
Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 12:1-15:23
As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to Him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; Deuteronomy 15:14-15
This morning was interesting for me, as I was reading through today’s reading I kept noticing all the mentions of blood – how could I not after yesterday with the Holy Spirit singing “blood and water flow…” over and over again? Anyway, by the time I got to the end of the reading I had several things underlined to go back over them later after I had allowed the reading to sink in a bit. I lay down to meditate on the reading and work over it in my head and just kept praying “Lord, what do all these old rules have to do with us today?” The more relaxed I became the louder His voice became until the Holy Spirit said “He is a just God”, then opened my eyes where they fell on the section of underlined scripture where Moses is detailing his instructions for a slave when they don’t want to leave their masters house.
Therefore I command you this today. But if he says to you “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, then you shall take an awl and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. (15:15-17)
My eyes fell first onto the bold section and then ran back up the page to the beginning of what I had underlined to put it into context. When I read “I will not go out from you” I was immediately reminded of God’s promise to us “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) And realized that this commandment for a slave is a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do for us all!!!!! Read it again!
if he says to you “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, then you shall take an awl and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. (15:15-17)
Jesus was pierced
for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins, the punishment that was supposed to be ours He bore for Himself! If that isn’t love I don’t know what is! Because He loves us He did this for us! And because God is just someone had to take the punishment for the sins. So Jesus stepped up and said “I’ll do it Dad. I can handle it, they’re worth every second.” Through the blood sacrifice of Jesus we have been redeemed out of slavery to sin and into Life through the Spirit! Hallelujah! God is just, and He poured that justice out onto Jesus because they both knew that we wouldn’t be able to take it ourselves. But even better than all that is the fact that Jesus not only took it all Himself, but He took it all plus extra. He not only paid our bill, He tipped the waiter too! He left nothing for us to pay, nothing other than a debt of gratitude toward Him. Paid to Him through the use of the gift that He gave us, a relationship with HIM!
This morning I got my bill for the web address that I’ve been using for the last year www.TamarMinistries.net God led me to keep the address and have it point to the blog to keep everything consistent and flowing smoothly. Anyway, when I opened the bill for the address renewal I found that the balance on the account was zero! I was floored and just kept shaking my head and saying “How Lord? How can I owe them nothing when it cost me so much last year?” I have still to figure out how my balance was zero to pay for another whole year of web-domain name hosting, but I’ll take it! But as if that wasn’t enough, God really wanted to drive this point home today so He gave me a second scenario to share with you.
My husband is a mechanic for Mercedes, so of course, I drive a Mercedes. (It was cheaper for us to buy a Mercedes than to buy any other car! Yup, God’s that good!) As I pulled out of my parking space at the park this afternoon after our Parks & Prayer meeting I noticed that the car was making a funny noise. As I pulled out onto the paved road in the park I noticed that my car seemed to be leaning a bit to one side and when I let go of the steering wheel it pulled dramatically to the lower side… yup, I had a flat tire. And not just any flat tire, this was a rim-of-the-wheel-was-driving-on-the-ground kind of a flat tire. UGH! So I carefully pulled into the gas station across the street and up to the air station, popped in the three quarters that I just “happened” to have in my purse – I never carry change. But when I tried pumping air into the oh-so-very-flat tire, nothing happened. And I’m not talking about, a little air went in and the tire re-inflated a little bit. No I mean NOTHING happened! The air was leaking right back out of the tire just as fast as the machine was pumping it in!!! Well, being a girl I doubted myself and my tire filling abilities so I went into the station to see if the only other soul in sight, the attendant, might know anything that I could be doing wrong to get air into this tire. He asked the lady in back in the kitchen to see if she knew of anyone in town that did tires, pulled out a local phone book and jotted down the number onto a scrap of yellow paper for me. Now, again I have to point out here, my husband is a mechanic… who has a side business of mounting demotion derby tires for other demo drivers… he knows a thing or two about tires. I know that if I have something going on with our car and I don’t call him and ask his opinion first then I’m an idiot! So when the attendant is giving me the number of a local tire company the first person I called was, of course, my husband. And his first reaction was, “Call the Mercedes roadside assistance line! That’s what it’s there for.” It hadn’t even dawned on me to call the manufacturers service line for help! (There’s a huge lesson in that right there, but I’m going to pass it up to get to my original point, however ponder on it awhile and I’m sure the Holy Spirit will enlighten you as to where I would have gone with it if I had the time to go down that rabbit trail.) My first fear, how much will it cost???
So I called the Mercedes roadside assistance line, talked to the technician that they sent out to save me, he arrived in his somehow still crisp clean and perfectly white Mercedes uniform shirt and ended up swapping my flat for the spare. But how much did it cost??? It was free! Absolutely positively zero charge for him to drive 45 minutes out to where I was, change my tire and drive another 45 minutes back to work!!! Seriously? How can something like that be free? I mean, this isn’t a service like AAA where I have to pay for it every month or every year, this is a service that I get just because my car is a Mercedes!
Yeah, God really IS that good.
Jesus paid the price for us. The entire price, He paid every penny and then some. We don’t have to pay for ourselves every month or even every year; no. We get premium roadside assistance, any time day or night, JUST because we’re driving with Jesus. Just because we’re in the car with Him we get luxury service all day, every day for FREE. Wow, our God is awesome!!!!
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 9:1-11:32 (don’t forget to pray!)
This is one of the most beautiful versions of the Battle Hymn of the Republic I’ve ever heard! I got tears in my eyes, there’s just something about those beautifully innocent voices that screams my message today! I’m including the lyrics here because there aren’t any in the video, please sing along and vocalize our triumph over the Enemy!
Today is a marching day! (I’ll explain more later.)
So this morning I wake up with the Holy Spirit singing “blood and water flow…” over and over again. Not the entire song mind you, just those four words again and again. Very obviously a message I am to decipher through out my day today, a riddle for me to rejoice in solving, a puzzle to share. Most days I love these riddles, and He knows that, because they always send me deeper into His word, into His truth, into His rapture of discovery. The next thing I do is dig out my copy of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and begin the third chapter (I’m reading this one slowly). Where her friend mentions a list… a list? She hasn’t mentioned a list yet, what is she talking about? I read on. A friend posed to her a challenge – write down a list of one thousand gifts, AHA!!!!! I shriek with joy, “GOD YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!!!!” When I picked up this book I had no real idea what it was about I just knew that God had been pointing me to it for a while and that I therefore needed to read it. Only mere days ago I felt so drawn to counting my blessings, perhaps… because that’s what the Spirit spoke to me that morning, maybe that was why I felt drawn to do it! (Ugh! Sometimes I’m such a forgetful goofball!) Anyway, so here I have two pieces to the puzzle, blood and water flowing together and a list of one thousand blessings – or “God sightings” we’ll call them, a list of places where our eyes have SEEN God’s hand at work.
I go to pick up my Bible to do my reading for the morning, a little later than usual but routines are not meant to be set in stone. I read and read and read and finally come across the message that strikes the strings of my heart with a chord that makes me want to sing: “For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that He did.” (11:7) Again, God shining a light on what He is having me do! What was it that I said over and over again in Overflow while I was counting my blessings from the previous week? “My eyes have seen…” Over and over and over again my eyes have witnessed miracles through the lens of my camera, for your benefit and mine. While God called Ann Voskamp to write down a list (I hear she’s a photographer too so there’s a definite chance that she took several pictures along the way), He has called me to capture as many as I can on film and document them through this blog! So now I have been doubly challenged! Read through His word in a year and write about how it has changed me AND take pictures of the journey and catalog the miracles I’ve seen. Because my eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that HE did! Oh, the things that He does for us every day; those things that all too often we miss, or pass by, without regarding them with the thankfulness that they deserve.
As I sit cross-legged on my bed, Bible in my lap, pondering about how “blood and water” fit into this whole puzzle picture of thankfully counting my blessings, the lyrics of yet another song begin to march through my head “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…” I immediately begin my computer humming with action as I pull up YouTube and begin a search for the perfect version of this song. I want to SEE the lyrics, I want to chew them up with my eyes and digest them with my soul, hymns are sermons to song – what is the message of this one? How does it line up with my puzzle for the day? I pull up a version with the music but no lyrics that are sung, only typed out in the comment section below. Hmmmmm….. I pull up another, words and music but no typed lyrics, sigh… sometimes the hunt can be exhausting. I try another link on the sidebar, this one looks promising, there’s a picture of Jesus on it. As the clip begins it explains the premise behind the video, an elementary and high school choir singing together along with a few key instruments, patriotism in schools is not dead yet. Hallelujah. As the song begins to ring out with a characteristic marching drum beat the pure innocent beauty of elementary student’s voices rings out the pure truth “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on…”. We HAVE seen the glory of the Lord, when He squashed those grapes filled with His wrath into the most precious of wines – His Spirit, which He HAS loosed as a fateful lighting through His terrible swift sword – His truth IS marching on. His truth is marching on through US. And the funny thing about this puzzle today is that all these elements, blood, water, blessings, thankfulness they all tie together in this song. The Battle Hymn of the Republic!
They all tie together through the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross. Without that single game-changing moment in history none of these things would be possible. There would be no blessing beyond the curse; there would be no Holy Spirit of Truth for all who believe in His name, there would be no heaven, no forgiveness, no close communion with the God of all creation – only knowing Him from afar. That, I think, is the saddest thought of all. No intimate relationship with the One who created you. No intimate relationship with the One who created it all, it makes me want to weep. I can’t imagine a day where I don’t feel the Holy Spirit’s nudge to speak up or to do the right thing at the right moment. I can’t fathom not feeling His sweet breath upon the flesh of my heart as He whispers “I love you” through the glistening dew on the petals of my favorite flower and its powerful perfume intoxicating my being as I inhale its delicate freshness. I am thankful for the morning praise songs of the birds consuming the air of this crisp spring morning with their cheerful tunes – Good morning Lord, I love You too!
There ARE so many many many things surrounding us that we can be thankful for!
We need only to open our eyes and see them, take the moment to appreciate them, to allow them to surround us in His glory and see it for what it really is! They may be small in size, but large in worth. God made this creation for me to ENJOY, yet so often I get so busy with the dealings of my life that I walk right past them and miss them entirely. I get so busy and preoccupied with driving the car that I miss the feel of the wind in my hair, caressing my cheek, whispering “I love you!” I get so busy preparing the meal that I miss the arousing aromas wafting through the air tickling my nose with the tempting excitement of the coming culinary treat. I get so busy with the task of cleaning that I miss the pleasure of the feel of the warm water wrapping its silky softness around my hands, I miss the gift of a house that needs cleaning, I miss the sound of a child’s laughter in the bathtub as she plays.
Sometimes the noise of my life drowns out the song of praise that creation is singing all around me and I miss it entirely; I miss the opportunity to sing along.
Oh Papa please help me! I don’t want to miss any more! I don’t want to forget to praise, I don’t want to neglect being thankful, Lord please save me from the noise and deliver me to the song! I want to SING! I want to sing YOUR praises, I want to sing Your victory, You have already won, I am already there with You in victory. It may not seem that way to my eyes, my circumstances may not speak that truth, but Your word does and Your Spirit testifies to that truth. WE have won the victory over the Enemy; he just hasn’t figured it out yet! And that is why I will choose to sing this Battle Hymn of Thankfulness today, that is why I will sing a marching song, because it is through the march of thankfulness that we declare victory over the World and its darkness. It is through counting ourselves blessed that we declare the truth through our actions. Taking the time to notice the “I love you” planted within His creation, is marching against the Enemy it is tramping out those grapes creating the wine of the Spirit of Light and Life. Gratitude conquers all! Because love rejoices in the truth, the truth that God loves you, the truth that He is for you and not against you. Being thankful by enjoying His gifts within creation expresses gratitude toward the giver! When I give my children a gift it is not their verbal thanks that I enjoy the most, they are simply a platitude. What I enjoy and delight in the most is watching them USE their gifts, delighting in them. I love watching them play with the toys that I have given them and I believe that I get that from God – I am made in His image after all! I believe that it brings Him the utmost of joy when we USE the gifts that He has given us, when we USE the freedoms that He died to bring us, when we LIVE in those gifts and freedoms which brings us joy and fulfillment and aids in our ability to express our thankfulness in other forms. Yes my friend, our marching song against the Enemy is living in a constant attitude of thankfulness by enjoying the here and now that we are in, even if the only thing we can find joy in is the wind coursing through our lungs. Be thankful. Life was meant to LIVE.
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 5:16-8:20
So yesterday I stood at the crossroads and then watched Deadliest Catch and made the realization that I simply couldn’t be happy in eternity knowing that I had chosen the easy road. Then today I picked a book up that I had set down a long time ago, Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson. I flipped it open to where I had left off and low and behold what is it on? Pruning! Wilkinson explains that there are two phases of pruning, the first phase focuses on priorities and activities where the second phase tends to focus on identity and beliefs. This second phase of pruning is more difficult to endure than the first phase because it prunes at the core of who you are and what you believe. I read about Wilkinson’s own experiences of pruning moments like these and realized that that’s been what this last year was all about! My identity has been questioned time and time and time again this year – mostly because I changed my name and it set everyone into an uproar, but also because God was using that to help me root myself deeper into Him and then later on to remind me how deeply rooted I am. My identity now completely exists in Him. Without God and my relationship with Him I would have NO clue who I am! I love that about myself, I am His child, His little princess, His baby girl, without that I have nothing. And it’s amazing to me looking back now, because I’m realizing that He first taught me who I am so that when the time of pruning my beliefs came along I would be able to lean on my identity to answer those questions of belief. For my entire life I’ve relied on my own abilities and knowledge of the workings of God and His kingdom to get me through the battles. I felt like as long as I knew the right scripture to speak back to the Enemy he’ll leave me alone. And while scripture is more powerful than many of us will ever truly understand, there have been moments when I have felt completely helpless to defend myself from the Enemy. There have been moments in this last year where I have felt the beating hooves of the donkey as it has trampled over the grain of my soul and then the violent tossing into the air in order to separate the chaff from my wheat. Sifting is a violent process, but it is extremely effective. And during those times I have come to realize that I have had NO power in the situation, none. I have not had the presence of mind to even remember I needed to speak scripture let alone remember any scripture itself! I have been completely in the hand of GOD. I have been at HIS mercy and under HIS control. I was in the potter’s hand and He was using a cutting tool on me to carve out a design of His choosing upon the tender clay of my spirit. The pruning I have undergone this year has not been a pruning where my flesh has been attacked, it has been my mind! I attempted reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind but simply haven’t been able to get through it. I’ve read enough to know that I agree with her that our minds are certainly a battlefield! But past that I honestly can’t remember any of it at the moment. Not that it wasn’t a good book, because it is! I just can’t remember any of it… because I was in the midst of the chaos of battle while I read it. I would like to add to the idea that our minds are not just a battlefield, but also a prison. I have learned that I think about things way too much instead of just giving them over to my Daddy and trusting Him to take care of them. He loves me and it is His JOY to take care of me, good care of me.
I got a movie for Easter that I’ve been really looking forward to watching, Annie. It has always been one of my favorites and last night I got to share it with my kids. I wasn’t sure that they would both sit and watch a non-animated movie or not but they did! And as I sat there simply enjoying sharing something I’ve always loved with my family when Annie walked into that gigantic mansion and started singing “I think I’m gonna like it here…” I began to silently weep. I wept because the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what He was showing me, He is Daddy Warbucks and I am Annie. We begin life as orphans, parentless until we choose Jesus, and that’s when we move into the mansion with Daddy Warbucks. He has all the wealth in the world and we have none, when we live in Him all those things get added to our account too! When we live in His house we have access to all the things and people within His house. As the maids and housekeepers and butlers and gardeners and cooks sang in Annie, “Your wish is our command” I was reminded of the angels and their service to our Father. They live to serve Him by serving us. When we find our identity in Him we are like little orphan Annie who has just been plucked from servitude and abuse and plopped directly into the lap of luxury! Daddy has deep pockets, so not only does He have the ability to buy out the eight o’ clock show at Radio City Music Hall, He also has the desire; because He would love to sit and watch a movie with His precious child. YOU!
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 3:1-5:15
You know it’s interesting how God can use ANYTHING to speak to us. The night I stood at the crossroads I came home, finished writing for the day and then spent the rest of the evening with the family. After the kids went to bed my husband and I sat down and watched a show on the Discovery channel called Deadliest Catch. This particular episode was all about the most dangerous moments the ships had had during the previous seasons. You see, this show is all about fishermen! These men perform what has got to be one of the most dangerous jobs known to man. They spend months out in the Bering Strait risking their lives to catch crab and bring them back for us to eat. And what’s amazing to me is the way in which God structured my steps throughout the past few days where He had me counting my blessings and expressing my excitement about having been called to be a fisher of men with my husband by passing out Bibles. Then has me stand in a literal crossroads and tells me that I am at a crossroads in my path of life where I can choose which path to take. OK, no biggie right? I’m following You Lord, lead the way! But then He brings me home and shows me this show where these fishermen are fighting everyday just to stand up let alone fish! They fight the wind, they fight the bitter cold, they risk falling overboard and dying from hypothermia. But at the same time, their rewards are huge! These crab that they are fishing for are worth an amazing sum, and they love what they’re doing, they can’t even imagine doing anything else despite the risk. By the middle of the show I turned to Sean and asked him to pause the TV so I could explain to him what the Holy Spirit was telling me through all of this. I started by telling him about the crossroads, I hadn’t had a chance to share that with him yet and then I pointed to the TV “God is showing us what is in store. He’s showing us that the road of ministry is dangerous and scary… but very rewarding. We have to decide if this is what we really want to do. How much is it worth to us?” He didn’t really say much at the time and neither did I, we finished the show. Toward the end, as I was sitting on the couch, almost in the fetal position, wide eyed and thinking “can I really do this?” when the Holy Spirit whispered through my soul, “eternity”. And I thought about looking back at this critical crossroad in my life from my after-life, talking about it with my friends and wondered how would I feel about saying to them “Yeah, I chose to take the easy road”. God had me make this very same choice last year at about this same time. He had me sit behind the steering wheel of an RV and told me to tell Him whether I really wanted to keep going down this path or change course. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I started saying “Lord, I’ll follow You where ever You want to lead me, I trust You.” But He was insistent, saying “Make me believe that you really want to keep going.” I knew that the path ahead would be hard, that the testing would be difficult, but I also knew that He would be with me through it all; that I would be safe in the Shepherd’s arms the entire time. So I chose to keep going down the path of ministry. And I’ll admit, standing at the crossroads this year and looking back over the last year, there have been some really really tough dark moments where I really wanted to quit, but they were brief and very productive moments. In those times I was sifted, or pruned depending on which parable you’re looking at, and by the end of them I was a different person, a much lighter person. I knew who I was and what I was doing this for. I knew more and had a much better perspective of life. Yes, there were some really dark low moments in this past year… but God was with me every second of the way, more in those sifting moments than any other moments it felt like.
I have discovered a new favorite after dinner treat, Ghiridelli dark chocolate squares filled with salted carmel… sigh…. they’re simply heavenly! The chocolate is just the right amount of bitter and crispy while the caramel is just the right balance of sweet smoothness to go along and balance the crispy bitterness. But then the salt comes in and pushes it all over the top in flavor. Oh! They are simply amazing! I discovered them with my new friend Jeanette the other day on our way to the Winter Jam concert and we both have been hooked ever since. This week we were spending some quality time at the BMV together (with another mom and four kids under five – we know, we’re crazy) when we started discussing these squares of heaven. She told me about how even her son in second grade is amazed and commented on the perfect balance between all the ingredients and how they go together so well. I’m realizing that God does that with our lives too. There are those bitter moments in life that are just hard, but then He adds the sweet moments that make us smile and laugh and make living worthwhile. You know those kinds of moments that smooth out the rough edges of the hard moments. But then there’s the sea salt that just sends everything over the top. Those people that you share life with that make life just wonderful. Those people in your life that are the salt of the earth, that when you’re down they lift you up. Your husband who knows just what to say when you’re blue, or may have just the right scripture that applies perfectly at just the moment you need to hear it. The friends that will tell you when you’re doing something they don’t approve of, where they will catch you saying something self-defeating and will call you on it. Those are salt of the earth people that make everything in life work together for the good of those who love the LORD and are called according to His purposes.
Ya know, I get that the road ahead is going to have bitter moments, moments that I’m not going to enjoy and don’t look forward to experiencing. But I don’t want to look back on my life and say “I took the easy road”, that’s not me and it’s not something that I would be proud of. Because of the gift of salvation and justification I can look at the future from the viewpoint of eternity and realize, this is only a phase, it’s a brief wisp in the wind compared to eternity. Because I know that it will NOT last forever and because I know that GOD will be with me hand in hand every step of the way, I know that I CAN do anything through Christ. I can endure further testing, further pruning, further dark and bitter moments because I know He is there; that I am SAFE in the Shepherd’s arms. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! I may not know all the options, I may not know all the consequences, but You know me Lord, I can’t choose the easy way. I don’t want to be like the Israelites when they heard the report from the spies who had just entered the Promised Land and seen the “giants” and got scared and said “let’s go back to Egypt!” I don’t want to do that, I know the battle for the Promised Land won’t be easy; it certainly hasn’t been to this point! But I do know that with God ALL things are possible, I know that He is with me. And if God is with me then WHO, or what, can be against me??? The LORD has been with me thus far and I know that He will be with me from this point forward as well. Because He has promised that for every believer, and I believe that He fulfills every promise. I trust that God will be with me in the future battles just like He’s been with me in the previous ones. God has led me out of darkness and into the freedom of the Light, and like an ant who has found a treasure trove of food at a local picnic I will go back into that darkness and tell me friends about the Light that I have found, I will bring them out into the Light to feast on God’s picnic – His abundant Grace. That’s another thing I could never be happy with in eternity, accepting my own freedom and leaving it at that by allowing everyone around me to continue living in darkness and death. I’ve experienced God’s marvelous Light, I’ve tasted the sweet smooth creaminess of His goodness and His pure grace how could I not share that with EVERYONE? Not just a few select people who I know will accept it, but EVERYONE.
Lord, I will do my best not to cling to the shore line, but rather to cast my lines into Your hands to allow You to guide my boat into the sea, into Your grace, into Your keeping. I know that with You I am safe from ALL harm. I know that in life there will be tribulation, but I will not be afraid because You have overcome the world! I believe that You will keep me safe from everything that will harm me eternally, that You will keep me from losing the thing that matters the most in this life and the afterlife – YOU. Without You nothing is possible, with You EVERYTHING is possible. Lord, I agree with Beth Moore, I believe that You are who You say You are, I believe that You can do what You say You can do, I believe that I am who You say I am, I believe I can do all things through Christ, I believe that Your word is alive and active in me, I’m believing YOU! (From Believing God the Bible Study.)
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 1:1-2:37
I woke up this morning with the phrase “Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…” playing through my mind over and over again and it made me want to spend the day counting my blessings one by one, but I lost count by about 8 o’ clock! I remember writing True Intimacy spending hours and hours knee deep in God’s word searching for the answers to the questions that were plaguing my heart and telling God “Lord, if I could do this for the rest of my life I would be the happiest girl in the world! I love digging through Your word!” And yet here I am nearly three years later, still digging into His word every day and writing about it, but on top of all that I’m photographing His amazing creation and preparing to travel around the country someday with my husband in order to pass out free Bibles to people at local fairs and festivals! Talk about excited to overflowing! Yeah, that’s me!
However, I am still sitting at that banquet table, feasting daily, WITH my Enemy. He is always here trying to poke holes in my cup in order to keep it from overflowing. I will fight his darkness with my very last breath, but please do not misunderstand, it IS a fight! Just this morning, in spite of all these wonderful blessings too numerous to count, the Enemy had me discouraged; what about I can’t even remember at this point but it doesn’t matter, all that matters is the fact that he had somehow managed to drag me back down into his dark place and kept me confused and upset this morning. Maybe it was because he knew that we were making the very last payment towards a very large medical debt and eradicating it from looming over us anymore!!! Hallelujah! All I know is that for a time, there was a battle and it was bleak. He really hates me and what I stand for and what I do everyday, but you know what, I don’t care!
So what about you? Are you in the presence of the Enemy? God has prepared a table for you there, have a seat and start feasting on His word! There’s plenty for everyone! Sit down and you may even be able to feel the anointing oil pouring down over your head protecting you from that Enemy sitting across the table from you, sneering in your direction because he now can no longer touch you. You have the symbol of the Living God on your forehead, His mark, His seal, His Holy Spirit breathing within you bringing you peace and love. Yes my friend, the Enemy may be against us, but God is for us. He is with us and He fills our cup to overflowing. When you sit down to feast at His table of abundant grace and love your cup WILL overflow with blessings over the rim, down onto the table and all over the floor, right in front of the Enemy… and there’s NOTHING that he can do about it! He is completely impotent to stop the flow of the blessings, and so are you because God’s goodness and mercy follows us, it pursues us, it hunts us down ALL the days of our lives. Every single day we look and behold! Another full cup!
One morning God woke me with a vision of a hand holding one of our glasses and a pitcher of hot water came and filled the glass. Then God said, “I have filled your cup, what you do with it is up to you.” I could make coffee, tea, add lemon or any other flavoring. I could let it cool and add ice, the possibilities were nearly endless! And so are ours. When our cups are filled with blessings to overflowing what do we do with them? Where do we put them? How do we handle them? Do we pass them on or horde them for ourselves? I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been an avid hoarder in my day! And you know what I’ve discovered; all that gets me is a stagnant cup. When I put the lid on there’s no way for anything to come out of my cup for myself or for others, but there is also no way for God to come and freshen it back up. Have you ever had one of those great waitresses that always kept your drinks full? Almost to the point where she was wasting the pop and ice? Where you would inevitably not have enough room to eat because you would have two cups sitting there both practically full because she would just keep refilling them? Yeah, that’s how God keeps our cups, always full with a back up cup ready to go as soon as the first one gets even a little low. No reason to horde, or fear that there won’t be enough later, He’s the BEST waiter anyone could EVER hope for!!!
(If you would like to order a wall size print or a bible sized card of this prayer – or any photos on our website – to keep handy for yourself or share with others email me @ TamarMInistries@att.net and we can hook ya up! Every purchase made funds our ministry to be able to travel around the country and hand out free Bibles and get people into them!)
Today’s Reading: Daniel 11:1-12:13
“overflow” Daniel 11:10
You know, sometimes in life it only takes one word. One word to really hit you and knock your socks off, or maybe, there’s only one word that can describe how you’re feeling at any particular moment, right now for me that word is “overflow”. I mentioned yesterday that I am reading Max Lucado’s Safe In the Shepherd’s Arms, I recently read the section on the phrase “My cup runs over”, in the ESV it reads “my cup overflows”, and so it does! In the presence of The Enemy our heavenly Shepherd prepares a banqueting table for us, pours oil over our heads, anointing us for the work He has for us to do and to protect us from the Enemy sitting across the banquet table from us, perhaps wearing sheep’s clothing of his own, who knows! It is in that kind of a setting, at the banquet table of God in the presence of our Enemy having been anointed with oil that our cup is filled to overflowing!
In his book (pg 87) Lucado explains the symbol of the overflowing cup in David’s time. The host used it to wordlessly communicate with his guest, if their drinking cup ran low then the guest had stayed late enough into the night and it was time for them to return home. However, if the was host particularly enjoyed the guest’s company he would overfill the guest’s cup until it was flowing out over the rim of the cup and down the table! Oh my friend! God is so pleased with our company that He not only keeps our cup continually full, but continually running over the rim, down the table and onto the floor!!!
So often I have heard of this verse referring to our cup overflowing with blessings, this is how I feel right now. The cup of my heart is so filled with the joy of the Lord; I am completely overwhelmed with the gift of the task that He has set before me. To spend private time with Him every morning soaking in the Living Water of His word and then using it throughout the day to fuel my ministry of writing and sharing His word of hope with others. And honestly, I was thrilled with that! But then on top of that He added unto me the ministry of photography where nearly daily I am called to photograph yet another breathtaking scene that He has set up just for me in that moment. In the last week I have seen a double rainbow, a rainbow circling the sun, and a double sundog (a mini rainbow in the clouds next to the sun usually just before the sun sets)!!! I’ve been able to see the tiniest of insects drinking from a drop of rain on a flower, I’ve seen a perfect heart torn into the tire cover of a jeep ahead of me while driving. I’ve seen the light of the moon creating a cross with its light in the darkness night, I’ve watched my children bounding with excitement over one of the best inventions known to man – a Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell, I’ve seen numerous sunsets this week, all breathtaking and unique,
I’ve seen God’s creatures great and small, I’ve looked on as my husband and son sat side by side while my son entered a new era when he took his very first shot with a “real gun”. As a mother, it was terrifying and thirllling all at the same time. My eyes have watched the flowers grow and bloom with the light of the sun and the nourishment of the rain. My feet have walked a trail next to a calmly flowing river. I laughed, nice and dry, from inside the house while watching my daughter dance in the rain with her hot pink cowgirl boots, purple butterfly rain coat and Hannah Montana umbrella. I pondered the beauty of the grooves in a tree trunk… and in my face. I’ve lain on my belly in the fresh spring grass of a dear friend’s yard and been amazed at what my eyes have seen and my camera has captured!
And then last night I pulled over on the side of the road to photograph a field of yellow flowers in the setting sun when God whispers to my soul “Crossroads“. There I stood, children waiting in the car gleefully screaming “Mommy” at the top of their lungs, camera still perched in my hands having just taken a photo of the street signs, my feet planted in the middle of where two country roads intersect, the setting sun on my right and the rising moon on my left and God whispers “Crossroads“. “OK Lord” I respond, “where do we go from here? You lead the way and we’ll follow.”
The end of every day is a crossroad, that next step, the first step of the next morning, will lead you down a new path, a new road a new adventure in life. Where will it lead? Where will it go? Will you follow it? Will it be hard? Will it be painful or scary? Only God knows, and most of the time He doesn’t tell us what the road holds, He merely holds out His hand and says “Come, follow Me. Your Heavenly Shepherd who loves you more than you could ever imagine. Come. Let’s do this adventure together.”
Today’s Reading: Daniel 8:1-10:21
Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness and how He can structure my steps in order to really wow me. This morning I drowsily got up to read today’s passages from Daniel and honestly, struggled through them. While I was impressed by the continuity of the message of the end times in all the visions within Daniel the thing that got me the most today was the ram. Last night before I went to bed I was reading Max Lucado’s Safe In the Shepherd’s Arms where he goes through the twenty-third Psalm phrase by phrase. I was reading the section on the phrase “He anoints my head with oil”. In this section Lucado explains how the shepherd uses oil on the sheep, one way is he anoints their noses to keep the flies from laying eggs in them, ew! Another way that the shepherd uses oil is on the sheep’s head, he will pour it over the rams’ heads during mating season. During this time the rams will butt heads with each other over a female. With oil on their heads it is more likely that the blows will simply glance off rather than cause injury to one another. So I went to bed thinking about rams fighting one another with oil poured over their heads. Only to wake up and read about Daniel’s vision of a ram where he describes the ram “charging westward, northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.” (8:4) Lord, what are You trying to tell me? I read the rest of the section, underlining many things and then returned to bed for a few minutes to snuggle up to my husband’s back while I prayed about what I had read. I just kept thinking about the ram, saying it over and over in my mind, “the ram, the ram, what does this mean for me Lord? Ram… ram…. ram” and slowly God started putting a picture into my mind, a picture I thought had nothing to do with the ram, I didn’t know.
The picture was of darkness, total and complete darkness. Then gradually it became a little lighter to where I could see where I was. Like Daniel in his vision defined precisely where he was in the vision, I knew precisely where I was standing in my vision. I was on highway 24 just outside of Remington Indiana almost to the intersection of interstate 65 looking to the north toward Chicago. I was standing just across from where there are a great many silver grain silos, if I were to guesstimate how many are there, I would say about ten, but I’ve never counted before. (We drive by that place often when visiting our parents in Newton county.) Next to the grain silos there is a little co-op building, an office of some sort, but I can’t remember exactly what it is. Just above the little building that looks like a house a storm began stirring in the dark air. It was small, very small, at first but began to grow and as it grew it moved further and further north toward Chicago. The larger the storm grew the more it swirled like a tornado, but this wasn’t a natural storm or a natural tornado, it was more fluid, more real somehow. It was a storm of LIGHT! It was as if tiny little droplets of light were swirling in the cloudy darkness creating a tornado of light in the pitch blackness over Chicago-land. The storm never touched the ground, it just swirled over the ground in the darkness, getting closer and closer to it until it almost touched but then began swirling backward – counterclockwise – until it was almost back up into the sky. Then the alarm went off and the vision was broken off by the buzzing of yet another day taking off.
To say the least I am perplexed at this vision and it’s darkness. Yet thrilled by the storm of light and the fact that it somehow has something to do with me, considering that I had just asked God “what does this mean for me Lord?” In writing this vision down I am amazed at many of the similarities between Daniel’s vision and my own! The exact location of our visions being known; in his vision the goat that came to oppose the sheep came from the west and never touched the ground, my tornado of light never touched the ground. Yet interestingly enough to me, it almost seems as though my vision is the opposite of Daniel’s in this aspect as well. A ram is a sheep, which would represent God’s faithful; while a goat is representative of an unfaithful people, (see Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats) the ram is the one in charge and until the goat comes and defeats him – unfaithful conquering the faithful. In my vision light is most definitely representative of God, and I am going to assume that because it was little drops of light – much like stars, some larger and brighter than others – that they represented God’s people (“we reflect God’s light” “we are to live like stars in the darkness”). And the darkness, of course would represent evil in general. Although the light never touched the ground, it most certainly was penetrating the darkness and bringing light to the world where it was – light/faithful conquering the darkness/unfaithful.
While I have sat on this vision all day, this is all the farther I have gotten in the interpretation, yet I am still thrilled by the end result. Light conquering the darkness by multiplying and bringing more droplets of glittering, star-like light to the darkness of this world, I’LL TAKE IT!!!!!
So what did God speak to you today through His word?
Morning Prayer: Come Holy Spirit; open my eyes so that I may see You clearly, open my ears so that I may hear You soundly, open my mind so that I may understand You more, open my heart so that I may love You fiercely, open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly. Come Holy Spirit; fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today’s Reading: Daniel 5:1-7:28
This morning I have been smitten with the beauty of the LORD surrounding me. Yesterday was gloomy and dark as thunderous showers passed through one after another filling the streets with splashing puddles and my heart with joy at each roll of thunder. Each one like the boom of a Godly voice singing in chorus with nature’s song of praise; I love rainy days like that! But this morning, the photographer rose up in me with the sun! There is NOTHING like drops of rain sitting prettily upon delicate flower petals sparkling like diamonds as they reflect the sun’s glorious light! These days we often think of rain as less of a blessing and more of a curse, or in the least a hindrance. “Rain, rain, go away come again another day!” we chanted as youths and may even today teach our own children to sing along. But that’s not how God sees the rain; not at all. Rain is critical to a plant’s development, without rain there would be no food, without food there would be no life! Rain is a tremendous blessing in the life of a believer!
Like little drops of diamond upon the delicate petals of our soul the hard moments in our lives come to cleanse us from the things that hinder us from becoming more intimate with our Heavenly Husband. Yesterday, in Daniel we read one of my all time favorite stories in the Bible, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I have written about it before (in Fire of Affliction) so I won’t go into detail again, but the rain is just like that firey furnace that instantly burned off the cords that bound the godly men but never touched the clothes that they were wearing – not even with the smell of smoke! So is with the cleansing rain, it removes the dirt that we see upon ourselves and helps us to live lives that honor God. Lives that point to Him. Lives of beauty and passion.
This morning I peered out my front door to wave goodbye to my husband as he jumped into his truck and rumbled off to work. Suddenly, my eye was captured by a patch of yellow irises, tall and proud, and I set my mind to photograph them at my first opportunity. I carted my son off to school, pulled the car back into the driveway and promptly and purposefully strode across the street to the neighbor’s yard where these pristine flowers stood at the crossroads of our main street and a gravel alleyway. They may have bloomed before yesterday’s rain, I’m guessing that they had, but I certainly hadn’t noticed them until this morning as the first rays of morning sun struck their pale yellow faces lighting them up with a radiance that I simply couldn’t ignore or resist. Their beauty was striking, but what immediately caught my eye was not the flowers, or the absolutely breathtaking beauty of the rain droplets sparking in the now bright morning sun, it was the flies! There on the flower petals were flies, big and small, drinking from the water droplets on the flowers!!! I’ve never seen such a thing! I mean, I’ve always assumed that the bugs drank somehow, but I’ve never actually seen them do it up close before! And with my camera I was able to actually zoom in and see them closer than with my naked eye. It was fascinating! So through a little bit of fighting with the auto-focus on my camera and a lot of pleading with Jesus to “help me get this shot!” so that you too could see what I was seeing I was finally able to get a picture of a gnat drinking a drop of water from the leaf of a future flower in the garden. As I was taking the pictures I was amazed with how God structured my steps this morning. First, by pointing the flowers out to me from afar He drew my attention to them through the light of the Holy Spirit and the morning rays of sun. Then, He brought me closer to them, camera in tow, in order to feast on the sight of the sun in the water only to show me something that I had never seen before. A sight that I never would have been able to see from behind my closed door!
My friends, every morning I pray for God to open every part of me that I can think of that could be closed to Him, I then ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill all those places with Himself, His Holy Fire. And then I feast on the Word of God through our daily reading of the Bible. Every morning I feast at the Table of Communion with Jesus through His Word. And it is through His word that He strengthens and fortifies me, He speaks to me in those moments and because of those opening moments first thing in the morning I am more open to Him and His gentle but firm leading throughout the day. Because I have prayed daily for God to open me up, to see HIM clearly and hear HIM soundly, to understand HIM more and to love HIM fiercely, to give to HIM generously and to receive from HIM humbly I DO! I am, for the first time in my life, seeing Him clearly! I am seeing His light and His wonder and His goodness! I have spent so much time in the gloomy dreary days of my life knowing that God is good and experiencing Him through the rainy moments of life, all the while missing those moments of wonder during the morning after the rain. God is good ALL the time! In Him there is NO darkness! LIFE has dark moments, it just does, but those dark moments help us to appreciate the morning after. Those dark days place into stark contrast the bright mornings where The Son is shining upon the rain that came to cleanse and causes it to shine like diamonds upon the delicate petals of the flower of our heart, opening oh so beautifully toward the Lord’s caress and loving care through the garden of our relationship with Him. He is the gardener, the One who tends to us oh so carefully. He is the One who comes in and firmly but carefully rips those weeds out of our lives, the ones that choke us and rob us of the nourishment that only He can provide us.
Yes my Beloved, He cares for us so tenderly. He allows the rain to fall upon our heads, but that is certainly no reason to turn our faces away from His attentions, but rather turn them all the more toward His radiant light in order to allow its rays to shine down upon us in order to use that rain to reflect that marvelous Light onto those around us. Perhaps in the hopes to draw them nearer to us so that they may see something they’ve never seen before… God working in their own lives. And He uses US to do that! Now, how awesome is that?
Today’s Reading: Daniel 3:1-4:37
God’s been saying a lot to me lately about communion. And what’s been interesting to me is that nothing has been overly obvious but rather it has all been rather veiled. A sermon here and there talking about communion, every once in a while a scripture will come to mind having to do with the Lord’s Supper, and then last night He really kicked things into high gear for me. Yesterday I wrote about Jesus holding out the cup to His disciples as a marriage proposal, then shortly thereafter my husband and I left for our Monday night Bible Study at church where we had our last meeting for the season and therefore had a “last supper” together where we even took communion. Which, I was simply thrilled about since I had just finished writing about how beautiful of a gesture that was. Then after we got home, finished homework, put the kids to bed there was a load of laundry that HAD to get put into the dryer before we went to bed so while I was waiting for that to get done I finished reading The Shack. In the very end of the book the author describes the main character, Mack, having communion with Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet there was no ceremony, no ritual, just a simple meal between friends was shared. They ate the loaf and drank the wine together. Yet the message still didn’t hit me full force until this afternoon after struggling all morning to try and write something, anything and NOTHING was coming out right. (I can always know when I’m writing what God wants me to write, because when it’s right it just flows out and my fingers can hardly keep up. Which is what they’re doing now.) Finally, I spent a little time talking to a friend of mine and sharing with her some of the revelations that God has been revealing to me through His word, even when they so rarely directly apply to what I’m reading on that day! Through talking to her I began to realize that I was trying to write the things that I thought God wanted me to say, so I decided to stop doing that. J In the midst of our call I got a call from the school, never a good sign! My son had somehow managed to miss the bus! In almost four full years he has not once missed the bus before! So I broke off our call, grabbed my daughter and dodged the raindrops to get to our car to pick up my son. The street was beautifully filled with puddles perfect for driving through and splashing, drawing out oooohhhs and aaaaahhhhs from the back seat as the water cascaded away from the tires and onto the grass on the side of the road. A perfect break from writer’s block! We came back into the house, I set my children to doing their chores and visited the bathroom where I briefly picked up my new “bathroom book” A Thousand Gifts and low and behold what was the author Ann Voskamp talking about? EUCHARIST! (The Lord’s Supper, Communion!) I shook my head in dismay, Lord, what are You trying to tell me???
And then it finally hit me, as Ann was talking about the meaning of Eucharist and how it is ongoing, perpetual, like, all the time and God finally brought all the elements together in a beautiful masterpiece in my mind, THE TABLE! It’s all about the table!
You see, for the longest time now I’ve been struggling with all the ritual of Holy Communion. I’ve been struggling with it because Jesus and I have Communion almost every single day. In fact there are many days when we have Communion at every meal! You see, it was Ann’s explanation of the oh-so-common elements that God chose to be our Communion elements that helped connect all the dots for me, it’s a loaf of bread and a cup of wine. Bread and juice, a grain and a fruit, my friend how often do we eat a grain and a fruit in the same meal? ALL THE TIME! And that is how Jesus and I have been having communion all these long winter months, I will sit down to eat and then look at what I have placed on the plate in front of myself and the Holy Spirit will strike me with the realization of what I have done! There will inevitably be a grain, usually bread, and a fruit and I will look up at the “empty” chair before me and say “Well Hi there Jesus! Thanks for joining me for lunch!” Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the ritual communion at church on the first Sunday of every month, but when I’ve got people telling me that it’s a sin for someone who is not an ordained pastor to give communion, well my feathers start to get a little ruffled. I’m not an expert on the Bible by ANY means, but I do know that that’s not something Jesus said at the last supper to His disciples when HE was doing the first communion.
Jesus said simply “Do this in remembrance of Me“. Common, simple, un-ritualistic He said “don’t forget to remember Me”. Because He knew that we would tend to forget Him! I spend the majority of my day studying and writing and talking about Him and yet I forget about Him!!! Obviously I’m not forgetting to talk about Him, but it’s kinda rude to sit at the same table with someone and talk about them to everyone else at the table without ever talking TO them, isn’t it? Thank You Jesus for being so patient with us! Communion, as defined online by Merriam and Webster, is an intimate fellowship or rapport: communication. Now for the last few days as I’ve been describing a relationship with Jesus to you, I’ve mentioned over and over again the idea of the kind of relationship where you’re just two friends sitting across the table from one another sharing a cup of joe and chatting about life with one another. When reading Ann’s point about the common-ness of the elements of communion and the concept of communion itself I literally shouted “THE TABLE!” This relationship with Jesus is centered around a dinner table! One, that I might digress a bit to point out would inevitably be made from the wood of a tree… like a tree of Life perhaps… the remnants of a cross…) This table where the common, everyday elements of bread and wine are shared between two jovial friends sharing the day’s events together in communion or intimate fellowship or rapport. (*wink*)
Sometimes, we simply make things harder on ourselves than we really have to. Communion; intimate fellowship, a marriage proposal and acceptance, a simple meal shared between friends at a table – any table, Communion = time spent with God. Hallelujah!
Peace be multiplied to you! (Daniel 4:1)