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Archive for the ‘From My Heart’ Category

 

I have been reading a book on prayer, Busy Lives and Restless Souls: How Prayer Can Help You Find the Missing Peace in Your Life, written by Becky Eldredge. In the book, Becky talks about the instances when God says NO! to our prayers. She asks us the question, “Would you still be willing to say Yes! if God’s answer is NO!?”

As I pondered on that question, I realized that there have been times when God did say NO! or NOT YET! and I still found myself trusting Him. Hanging onto Him until the storms of life passed. Yes, I have struggled through a divorce and the transition to single motherhood. I have struggled with poverty, chronic illness, and anxieties. I have prayed for God to alleviate the pain that these issues have caused. I have prayed for God to work in the tough situations of my life. I have heard my fair share of God’s NO’s! I still struggle. I still deal with the same situations. 17 years later and life is still a struggle. But, I have NOT prayed for the healing of a child or spouse and still had to watch them die. I have NOT lived through a mass shooting or a terrorist attack, praying for an answer and never seeming to get one. I have not tried to save a fellow Marines life while in the middle of a firefight, only to see him die and trying to find the Why in it. As much as I have struggled in life, as many times as I have prayed for help, I have not had to live through a life altering trauma such as those listed above. If I had to live through such a tragedy as any of these, could I still say, Yes! to God. Could I still say, “Thy will be done”?

Luke 22:39-44

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 

Jesus prayed for “this cup” to be taken from him. From my perspective, this can only mean that Jesus did NOT want to die. He knew the suffering that He would soon endure and He did NOT want to face that suffering. But, in the same breath, he says, ” yet not my will, but yours be done.” Remember that God said NO! to Jesus. God said NO! to His beloved Son and Jesus still had faith enough to trust God’s will.

If Jesus, facing death, and dealing with human emotion, was willing to say, “thy will be done” when God said NO! than I should be able to follow that example when God says NO! to my prayers. But can I? Will I? I wish I could say that I knew for sure that I would still say YES! to God in that type of situation, but because I am human and I do deal with anxieties, I honestly don’t know.

This is something that I am working on. I continue to pray. There are times when God says YES! and there are times when God says NO! I continue to go deeper in my relationship with God. I continue to push myself to where I can say YES! in any circumstance. I continue to grow in my faith.

CHALLENGE: Reflect on the question, “Will I say YES! when God says NO!?” Be willing to get real with yourself. Don’t be afraid to admit that you would not say YES! Don’t be afraid to admit that you are still growing in faith. That’s okay. Most of us are. Get real with God and find out what you need to do to get to the YES!

In the meantime, I am always here if you need me to pray with you or journey with you. You are NEVER alone!

 

 

 

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fear-not-tomorrow

 

Joshua 1:9

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

God promises that He will go before us and be with us. He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but He also expects something from us. He expects us to be strong and courageous. He expects us to look fear in the face and have enough faith to step out anyway. He expects us to look past our current situations, as bad as they may be and have faith that as long as we center our lives around Him, everything will be okay. We will not drown in our circumstances. We will not faint under the pressure. The struggles of life will not take us down, as long as we stay strong and trust God.

But, you don’t know my circumstances, you say. No I don’t. But, I know my circumstances. I know my life and I know that my life has been full of trials and struggle. It has not been easy to raise 5 kids as a single mom. It has not been easy to live under the oppression of poverty for 17 years, working my butt off and feeling like I am still drowning in my circumstances. I know how it is to feel like you will never get ahead in life. I know how hard it is to be an outcast as a foster child in someone else’s home. I know the grief of having your dreams destroyed along with your marriage. I know how discouraging it is trying to find out who you are and trying to find a way to fix your mind because you struggle everyday with an anxiety disorder and a Schizoid personality disorder. I know the frustration of dealing with chronic illness and the ups and downs of that illness. I know, but more importantly, God knows. God knows how I struggle to simply exist some days. God also knows your circumstances and how you are struggling to get through each day. Don’t think that God does not care. He cares and He has promised to be with you wherever you go. Have courage in your circumstances, knowing that God is in those circumstances with you. He is not going to leave you struggling alone. He will never turn His back on you. Be strong. Have courage. Trust God. He is with us in every situation of our lives. He will comfort you. He will fight for you. He will NEVER forsake you! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED!

 

 

 

 

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John 4:1-26

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 8:1-11

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Yes, the women in the above passages were living in sin, but from my experience, when women find themselves in the depths of sin, it is because they are trying to heal themselves from pain and heartache. They are trying to self-medicate. They turn to alcohol/drugs, men, and other sinful ways of life. But the pain of the past does not just go away, instead guilt, shame, and self-hatred result.

I believe the Woman at the well and the adulterous woman had suffered pain and heartache in their pasts. No, the passages do not say this, but I feel their pain and I believe that something happened to them in their pasts to lead them to the life they were living when Jesus found them.

Our pain can lead to so many bad decisions that lead us to even more pain and hurt. The pain and hurt in my own life have led to an anxiety disorder, a schizoid personality disorder, low self-esteem, a need to please everyone else, even sacrificing my own welfare to do so. I hate confrontation and have allowed others to control me because I have felt powerless and did not want a confrontation. I did not want to be hurt and the sting of hateful words can hurt deeply. The old saying of, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is so not true. Words can sting and they have the ability to stay with you a life-time. I have allowed my fear keep me from obeying God when I knew He was telling me to step out in faith. This is disobedience and sin.

Jesus found these two women at their lowest, but instead of condemning them, He confronted their sin in love. He was compassionate and offered them eternal life. He gave them HOPE! He loved them where they were and offered them a hope of something more. It is the same for us today. He loves us in our sin. Yes, He confronts us about our sinful natures, but he is merciful and gives us hope for a blessed future in Him. Jesus knows my heart and He knows your heart. He knows our past and the pain that has led us to where we are. He sees through our sin and sees our hearts. He loves us and His compassion is overflowing. My sister, allow Jesus to meet you where you are and give you that living water that only comes from Him. He can and will heal you, right now, right where you are. Open your heart and allow Him to pour out His love and compassion. Your past and present does not have to dictate your future. Only you can decide what your future holds. If you allow God into your life and live out His will for you.

You may be a woman scorned right now, but that does not mean you always have to be. With Jesus in your life, together you can write a new story: a story of courage, strength, love, compassion and hope! Let the love of Jesus heal your wounded heart. Step out in faith!

 

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Isaiah 43:18
Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past.

I was part of a Facebook discussion yesterday on the “Rebel flag” and what it represents. Any discussion that includes what has become to be known as the Confederate flag (the “Rebel flag” was not the real Confederate flag. It was only the battle flag of Northern Virginia. There were different variations of the real Confederate flag.) is going to bring with it passionate feelings about hate and racism. My friend is passionate about not supporting a flag that represents hate and racism. My ancestors from my grandmother back lived in Louisiana. My ancestors were cotton plantation owners and yes, slave owners. What is my view on the Rebel flag? It is a symbol of a part of United States history. I will never condone racism, hate, or oppression of any kind. I am passionate about speaking out against injustice. I will not discredit those who view the rebel flag as a symbol of hate because of what their ancestors lived through. I will challenge all of us though to see it for what it is, an inanimate object that has no power other than the power we give it. Recently there has been a trend in tearing down the statues that represent parts of our history as Americans. People have become upset by what these statues represent. We are giving power to non-living objects instead of examining our own hearts to see what part WE are playing in bringing the hate and racism from the past into the present and future. These statues and other symbols that we see as representing negative aspects of our history need to be used to fuel us to work for peace instead of the violence that is erupting instead.

This country was built on the destruction and slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women and children. The Native Americans. We, as Americans, have a history of violence and intolerance. At the same time, I have seen great examples of compassion and love. WE choose what attitudes we will take into the future. If we choose hate and racism then we, at least need to be mature enough to take responsibility for those actions and not blame our actions on a statue or piece of fabric that has no power to make us do anything. My ancestors were slave owners, but that does not define who I am. I am passionate about working to bring justice where injustice lives. I am not my ancestors. I choose not to bring their attitudes into my present and future.

My challenge to you: Forget the past. The lives of our ancestors are gone. They are dead and so are the circumstances they lived through. Learn from what they lived through to make things better for those of us living now. Learn from the past to make things better for our children. Choose to make the future a better one for all of us. Let go of the past and choose to live in peace.

 

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Matthew 12:25-26

25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

How did the Church of America become so broken? How did we get to this place where we care more about our Sunday morning productions and many ministries than we do about truly loving each other? When did the Church become a business to be run? People are running from the Church in droves because we have become judgemental, cliquish and mean. Our pastors and church leaders have become selfish. If it isn’t done their way, then it isn’t done. If someone doesn’t agree with their way or their opinions then they are ostracized or defriended. Christianity has become a huge entertainment business and we have forgotten the ONE this whole business is centered around: JESUS! We are mean spirited. We run around gossiping, spreading rumors, tearing each other down and ignoring those we feel are somehow inferior to us. We stand behind our denominational lines and turn our noses up at everyone who doesn’t believe the way we do, because somehow we have gotten it into our heads that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Denominations are man made. WE have divided the church. WE have become so full of ourselves that WE fight against each other to have the biggest church buildings, the largest congregations (whether people are disciples or not doesn’t really matter, as long as they fill the pews), the grandest Sunday morning productions, the most ministries, etc. etc. The Church has become the vehicle to boost our egos. We think all of this is okay because we throw God in here and there. We teach Jesus, so isn’t that enough? Do we actually have to FOLLOW JESUS EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES? Isn’t giving a good biblical sermon enough?

WAKE UP CHURCH OF AMERICA!!!

We are creating broken hearts…broken spirits and if we don’t fix this NOW, this entire country will pay the price.

So, what is the solution?

A better question is:

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Colossians 3:12-14

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Mark 12:29-31

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Why aren’t we loving people to Jesus? Why are people leaving the Church in droves because they are being hurt inside the Church? We are not perfect. I know that. I certainly have done my fair share of hurting others, but Jesus expects us to love one another and not just other christians but EVERYONE! That’s how non-believers become believers…we LOVE them to Jesus. If we let go of our judgemental, selfish attitudes and started to love those in our congregations and our communities, we would unleash revival on America like we have never seen before. But, I don’t feel very loving.

LOVE IS NOT A FEELING!

LOVE IS ACTION!

GOD IS LOVE!

The more love you give, the more love you will have to give. It starts with each christian, each pastor, each church leader, each congregation, in each city, in each county, in each state, to bring revival to a nation. It takes prayer, but it takes each of us being willing to obey Jesus and step out of our comfort zones and LOVE those around us. Reach out to the ones who are broken in some way by life. God will NOT answer our prayer for revival and spiritual awakening if we do not take action and start loving people to Jesus.

A REAL SPIRITUAL AWAKENING BEGINS WITH LOVE!

We CAN unite the Church of America.

We CAN bring God back to America:

It starts with you and it starts with me.

IT STARTS WITH LOVE!

GO OUT AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

 

 

 

 

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Where have you been?
I’ve looked for you for ever and a day
Where have you been?
I’m just not myself when you’re away

The above is the chorus of a hit 1980’s country song sung by Kathy Mattea. When I heard Where have you been? at work a few days ago, the chorus became more like a prayer:

Where are you, Lord?

I search and search and I still can’t find you.

Why have you left me?

I am deeply troubled without you.

My spirit longs for your presence.

Where are you, Lord?

Why have you abandoned me?

There are times when it seems that God has left me to navigate this world alone. I pray and pray, but it seems that God is just, gone. I feel alone. I feel like I have been left to handle my life issues alone. For years I cry out for relief from the oppression, but my prayers seem to fall on deaf ears. Does He hear me? Does He care? Does He know that the world seems to be crashing in around me? Does He care? I can’t do this alone. I am tired. I am weak. My source of strength has left me. My heart beat fades, until it beats no more.

My spirit cries out,

 I NEED YOU GOD!!!

I NEED YOU JESUS!!!

WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME???

In the stillness, I hear a whisper:

 I have not left you.

I love you.

You are my beloved child.

I am here.

I will never leave you

nor

forsake you.

My heart beats again. My spirit quickens with joy again. I am not alone. I cried out and He heard me. He wiped my tears gently. He whispered my name and calmed my fears. He loves me. I am alive, because He lives within me. I can conquer anything, because He is with me.

I’m just not myself when you’re away.

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As I read the events of the crucifixion of Jesus in John 19:1-30, I am overwhelmed by the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. These verses always have the same effect on me, a deep sense of gratitude for His love for me and a sense of sadness that I will never measure up to that level of sacrifice.

I was talking with my daughter, Cree, yesterday and she said something interesting. She said that when she and her co-workers talk about their families, she tells them that her mom is married to God. She tells them that I live for God and God alone. I have always felt called to religious life. I have always known that I was called to a deeper relationship with God. Maybe, that’s why my earthly marriage failed. I knew from early on that I had to live for God only. By giving myself wholly to God, maybe I can, in some small way repay Him for the enormous sacrifice He made for me. In my imperfect way, I am fully committed to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

We can never love enough, do enough good deeds, or be good enough to get into heaven on our own. This is why Jesus died. Jesus died so that if we believe in Him and devote ourselves to living for him in this world that we will live with Him forever when this life is over. He wants our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to be one with Him, so that we can be His ambassadors in this world. He wants and expects nothing less than our everything. Doesn’t He deserve that for the sacrifice He made on the cross? I think He does. I am wholly devoted for life to being married to God.

This week I want you to read through John 19 and reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made so that you may live eternally with Him. What change can you make in your life to deepen your relationship with Jesus? What do you need to do to show that you are wholly committed to Jesus? How can you be an example of Jesus in this world?

Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us. He wants your everything and nothing less. How can you honor that request this week?

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