Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembering to Rest

If God has told me anything over the past few years, He has told me this. Over and again. And again. Rest, rest, rest. And rest. And as much as I believed He wanted me to get physical rest, I now understand more than anything else He has wanted me to learn to rest in Him. To trust in Him. To cast my cares on Him. To give my worries to Him. To not have anxiety over the future. To not be buried in the past. To not re-play conversations in my head all day long. To not concern myself with how I will make it financially. To not berate myself for not doing "enough" writing. To not be upset over what other people may or may not think of me.


When I came across this photo of paralyzed dog Mr. Simeon resting with three-legged Traveler, it struck me what an easy time most dogs have resting. And it made me think that they can rest like this because they don't worry about being taken care of. They simply believe they will. The more I learn to focus on the Lord, the more I learn about Him, the more I learn to trust Him, the more I remember what I have so often forgotten and failed to do. To rest. Not merely to stop what I'm doing and slow down, which I have truly learned how to do, but to rest in my mind. Knowing that He is sovereign. And that my job is to love and to worship and to serve Him with all of my heart. The rest - yes, the rest - is up to Him. 

Serving God in Everyday Life

Some might call me crazy, and I would have to agree. I am crazy for Christ, and I have a boundless, uninhibited, unrestrained, wildly passionate desire to share the love of Jesus Christ whenever I have the opportunity. I have learned through the years that serving God in my everyday life means keeping my heart and ears ever attuned to opportunities to share the Gospel while ministering the Lord's love to a world in need. Some might say I have the heart of an evangelist, and I would have to agree.

A recent trip to the beach on Hilton Head Island, SC,
with paralyzed dogs Mr. Simeon and Miss Mercy
With no formal training, and no informal training, and nothing at all but my phenomenal passion for the Lord and for proclaiming Him to the world, I have come to see that everyday life provides endless everyday open doors into people's lives. From going grocery shopping to parking my car to walking the beach with Walk by Faith Ministry's very special dogs, I wait for the prompting of the Lord to open my mouth as the love I have for Him pours out into the world around.

There are no limits to possibilities when it comes to sharing Jesus as the Holy Spirit moves through my heart and my life to pour out the Truth of the Gospel and the mercy and grace of the Lord to a world in dire need of salvation. I consider it a privilege, and an honor, and a blessing beyond measure to love - and to serve - the love of my life. The Lord!

"Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:14-16

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You GRIEVING? Hide Under the Cover

Dedicated to Annie.....

When a friend of mine, inundated and overwhelmed with grieving a monumental loss along with another incredibly trying challenge and all of her usual responsibilities, shared with me that she just wanted to crawl under the covers and never come out, I could so easily understand. I have grieved enormous losses, baby losses, and everything in between, and along with my other life challenges have oftentimes wanted to seek the refuge of hiding under the covers - and sometimes did. But when I realized there is only darkness and pain under the covers of a bedspread stained with tears or a quilt strewn with tissues or a sheet to get all twisted up in for people who toss and turn through troubles like I do, I found no refuge, no safety, no comfort, nothing at all but bare, shallow breaths and moments of what could hardly be considered relief. 

There was simply no light in the tangles of the covers of my bed - or whatever I sought escape in from the relentless, caustic, cutting, jagged, piercing pain. Ultimately, I had to come out from all the covers I had sunk down under in my fruitless, and disappointing, attempts at coming away from the moaning hurt, the fierce, so frequent cries of my breaking, and re-breaking, and so often broken heart.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Beauty in Hard Places

There is something about pain that can bring out the worst in us, don't you think? And there is something about walking through hard places that can make us feel ugly, and make the world around us look ugly also, don't you think? There is something about the darkness of our hard places that makes us forget to hang onto the light, don't you think? Do you ever feel like you're drowning in hard places, and like the life and breath are getting sucked out of you? Oh, if you could only come up for air - for breath - for even a single breath of anything beautiful. There is something about hard places, isn't there, that makes us feel like we're going to be stuck in them forever. I've spent so much of my life struggling in hard places, seeing anything and everything but beauty. So stuck. So hard. So everything but beautiful. In the past 24 hours, for the first time ever in my life, I received some incredibly hard news and discovered breathtaking beauty in the midst of it all.

I can only imagine somebody reading this with eager anticipation for me to share what incredibly hard news I received. Let's face it. We live in a world in which even the most virtuous of us have at least a little fascination with hearing other people's news. It gives us a refreshing breather from our own lives, and news, doesn't it? So I hate to disappoint anyone who wants to hear my incredibly hard news, but I'm not writing this piece to share my news. I'm writing it to share my amazing discovery in the midst of my really hard place with the hope that others will find what it has taken me decades to discover when it comes to hard places.

The beauty in the midst of it all are not my circumstances, nor my challenges, not my hurdles, nor my obstacles. The beauty isn't the hope that things will turn out differently. The beauty isn't that somehow the hard news will go away. The beauty isn't that I got what I desperately didn't want, or that I didn't get what I desperately wanted. The beauty isn't that God didn't answer my prayer birthed out of virtually 20 years of relentless challenge. The beauty isn't in the hard place at all. But the beauty is in the midst of the hard place. There is nothing beautiful about the hard place. The beauty is in the Lord.

But how can I find beauty in the Lord in the midst of hard places? By loving Him, trusting Him, beholding Him, staring at Him, looking to Him, seeking Him, coming to Him, running to Him, receiving from Him, giving to Him, being still before Him, resting in Him, dancing with Him, delighting in Him, marveling about Him, being amazed by Him, seeing Him for who He is, witnessing His majesty, remarking on His magnificence, sharing Him, speaking of Him, studying Him, learning of Him, telling people about Him, having faith in Him, thinking of Him, being renewed in Him, refreshed in Him, revived by Him, restored by Him, strengthened by Him and in Him, pouring out my Heart to Him, hearing His heart as He speaks to me, rejoicing in Him, praising Him, worshiping Him even, yes, even, even right in the hard places of my life.

None of this is contingent on my circumstances, is it? None of it is conditional on coming out of my hard places, is it?

How about you? When was the last time you stopped, breathed, rested, and rejoiced as you beheld the beauty of the Lord - even in your hard places?

"One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple " Psalm 27:4

Friday, April 11, 2014

Who Said LOVE Has to Be BIG?

Who said love has to be big? We humans came about that  notion, didn't we? Love has to be extravagant, lush, lavish, enormous, decidedly, abundantly, monumentally BIG enough that people will take notice, right? If we really love, our love should be obvious, big enough for a front page story, or at the very least for somebody to see? For others to recount? For us to feel worthy, big enough, loving enough. Somehow, someway, we humans have come to this idea that our love should be worth making note of. I have yet to come across a place in the Bible where God quantifies love, where God says "this is the size love needs to be." God has so much to say in His Word about love, but when does He ever say how little or big an act of love needs to be? He does say this, however. Love needs to be genuine, sincere, authentic. So I wonder this. If we humans would stop trying to love in a way that love can be measured, but instead would humble ourselves and love with authenticity, even in the smallest of acts, what would love look like then? What would our daily lives look like then? What would even this very moment look like for all of us, for any of us, if we would toss aside the limitations we place on love and let love be all that God intended for it to be? Wouldn't that be something?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

All the Pretty Colors

When was the last time you stopped in the busy, rushing, whirring, crazy fast tracks of your life to take a good, thankful look around you to notice all the countless colors God created? As I strolled down the tiny country road I live on with paralyzed Miss Mercy gleefully scurrying forward in her wheelchair, I looked all around me amid this beautiful, hot, sunshine-resplendent spring day and realized the colors God uses merely for tree leaves alone are manifold. When I shifted my eyes from the trees elsewhere, I saw the same. All the pretty colors. So many colors. And shapes. And sizes. And types of trees. Of grass. Oh, and I could go on. Of bugs. Of dirt. Of clouds. God didn't just create the world. He created it magnificently. With creativity that never runs out. And I can't help but think I have spent most of my life not even noticing. Not even seeing. Not even appreciating. Not even acknowledging. Not at all thankful. But this is not all.

For now, in my mid-40's, as parts of me begin their downhill travels (hair color, eyesight, skin, etc.), I see I have not only been utterly blind to, and ungrateful, about so much of the beauty God has created, but I have lacked thanksgiving for how God has equipped me to see His magnificence all around me. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Taste to taste. Nose to smell. Feet that walk. A mind that works. Food to sustain me. Oh, and how I could go on. How often have I stopped not just to thank God for all the beauty around me, and how often have I stopped to simply thank Him that He has enabled me to appreciate it? Not enough. Never enough. Can there ever be enough of thanking Him? Oh, if only I would just remember to even begin in this direction of thanking Him, thanking Him, thanking Him! My maternal grandfather was color blind. My cousin was born with most of her sight missing. I have eyes that see. Ears that hear. The ability to walk down my tiny country road to see how God has brought back the return of spring - and how lovely, and how warm, it is!

But even as I consider all the pretty colors, and how blessed I am for the ability to enjoy all this, I realize that more than anything else I have this. I have eyes that see the Lord. I have ears that hear the Lord. I have a heart that hungers incessantly for the Lord - and that is continually filled with Him. I have feet that help me to walk down the tiny country road of my life with Him. And truly, there are blind and deaf people that see and hear more of the Lord than those with perfect eyesight and perfect hearing. For at the end of the day, the greatest blessing of all is not the endless array of all the pretty colors nor this pretty spring day - nor the eyes to see it all.

The greatest blessing is the ability, the desire, the yearning, the seeking, and the fulfillment of knowing the Lord God almighty, Creator of all the pretty colors, through faith in His precious, only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. For even as precious as His Creation is, it is nothing whatever when compared with the Creator Himself! Oh, Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Praise His Holy name!


1Praise the LORD!

            Praise God in His sanctuary;

            Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
      2Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
            Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

      3Praise Him with trumpet sound;
            Praise Him with harp and lyre.

      4Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
            Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.

      5Praise Him with loud cymbals;
            Praise Him with resounding cymbals.

      6Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
            Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150

Saturday, April 5, 2014

PARALYZED DOG INSPIRES HOPE AND LIGHT

Paralyzed dog Miss Mercy never complains. Not ever. She is always full of joy. She has dragged herself around ever since she got hit by a car and found herself locked inside a rural Georgia shelter where she would almost certainly have been euthanized. Her pain was excruciating, and my five-hour trip to go pick her up out of the shelter was followed by the emphatic verdicts by two reputable veterinarians: EUTHANIZE. They simply could not see past her pain and spinal cord injury. Neither could I. Not with my human eyes anyway. But when I sought the Lord, He convicted me. He called me to walk by faith - not by sight. And, after a short period of super strong pain killers, Miss Mercy received her miracle. Almost two years later now, Miss Mercy is utterly pain free - and 100% joy-filled. She simply LOVES life - most especially going out into the public and greeting people with her ever smile and her eyes so full of light. 

Paralyzed dog Miss Mercy dragged her little sweet self so full of joy to the patch of light....

When she's not in her wheelchair, she scoots around at top speed (her top speed anyway) on her knees. She lives in her own nice-sized bedroom with two-footed Winnie and one-eyed, blind dog Glory - with evening visits from perfectly healthy, totally adoptable Esther (who still hasn't found an adoptive home!). Leave it to Miss Mercy to inspire me and so many others with a reminder that joy is found not in focusing on challenging circumstances, but instead in focusing on the light. For us humans, that's Jesus, light of the world. For Miss Mercy, it's focusing on her blessings - a patch of sunlight streaming through the window like in this photo, the kindness of strangers who love to pet her, her yummy dog food, hanging out with her doggy buddies, getting attention from Mommie, and enjoying her life to the fullest!


Paralyzed dogs Miss Mercy and Mr. Simeon visit 96-year-old friend in rehab

GOD'S NOT A QUITTER

Have you ever stopped to think that God's not a quitter? I hate that word. Quitter. I hate it because it's a word that has stuck with me for decades - ever since it was first spoken over my life by someone very influential in my life. I was criticized. I was judged. I was called a quitter. And for someone as tenacious and committed as I can be, it was a tough word to hear. And still is. It is a word I wish I could say never defines me.

And though I suppose it never actually defines me, there are times when I do exactly that. Quit. Even though I am indescribably tenacious with the most important thing in the universe - the Lord - I am as human as anyone. And there are just things that I most assuredly do quit - whether I should or should not. But as much as I am completely capable of quitting, it is astounding to me that the Creator of the universe just never, ever quits. He has always been God, He is God, and He will always be God. And when He starts something, whether it be everything from creating the world itself to creating a sweet flower in the ground, He brings to completion that which He begins. Even us. And if anything when it comes to quitting versus staying the course amazes me, it is this.

Use Your Story for God's Glory

If you think transparency is just for the sake of bringing our junk into the light so God can heal it, think again. If you want God to use your story for His glory, then you may just come to find that transparency isn't just for you. It's for all those who might be drawn to the Lord through what God has done in your life. So the next time you're tempted to hold back your story because you're too shy, too embarrassed, too ashamed, too private, too averse to thinking about the hard stuff again, too anything at all, consider this.

If you've ever desired for God to use you, realize that He might have much bigger intentions than sending you into the kitchen to fasten your apron strings and to bake dozens of brownies for the church rummage sale. Or he might have much different plans than sending you back to coach youth softball for the special sports league for at-risk inner city kids.

He might just want to use your testimony - yes, even the hard stuff - to show forth His glory and to transform other people's lives as He is doing yours. If the Holy Spirit has been tugging on your heart to share with someone - friend, stranger, or even a whole group of people - about what God has done in your life through your faith in Jesus Christ, don't shut the door on the Holy Spirit. Open it wide, and thank God He is entrusting you with opening your heart, and your story, to bring light to a world in such dire need for the light and hope and LOVE of Jesus Christ. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tired FROM Praying

I was trying to figure out why I was so exhausted as I lay sprawled across my bed at an unusually late hour for a nap and an unusually early hour to go to bed for the night. Was it caring for the 17 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs in my care, a number of whom have health issues and/or medication needs right now? Surprisingly, no. Was it all the driving I did this week, especially some city driving I have grown to really not like? No. Was it the people I ministered to over the phone throughout the week, knowing how I pour my heart into ministry even on the telephone? No. Was it the intense counseling session I had early in the week, given I am at last dealing head-on with the incest perpetrated against me as a child? No, it wasn't even that. Now, it's not as though any of those things - not to mention all of those things combined - would not be enough to cause the average person to be incredibly tired. Then it dawned on me. I was tired FROM praying. I most assuredly am not tired OF praying. I am exhausted FROM praying. But how can prayer be exhausting? For me, it can given the wildly raw, wildly intense, to some perhaps unusual way I have learned to pray.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Storm, Little Faith....

Do you know what I love about the story of the disciples who panicked in the middle of the storm and woke up Jesus from His sleep to save them only to be rebuked by Jesus for their little faith and big fear? They may have been low on faith, but they knew to run to Jesus to be saved. And even though Jesus rebuked them for their fear, He still brought calm to the storm. I have days where I am so very low on faith, but the most important thing of all is that I remember who is Lord. Jesus. And no matter how small or big my faith on a given day, my number one need is to seek the Lord. No matter how small or great the storms of my life at any given time, and no matter how small or great my faith, there is truly nothing more important than this. There is no greater love. No greater name. No greater power. No greater authority. No greater grace. No greater mercy. No greater forgiveness. No one greater. Nothing greater. Than this. Jesus is Lord. And as I have sometimes told people who are in such dire straits that they can barely utter a word, let alone function, I have told them to do this. Just say His name. Jesus. If you can do nothing else at all, do this. Say His name. Over and over. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. For He is Lord!

"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”" Matthew 8:23-27 NIV

Rescued and Relentless

My 15.5 year old dog Jake, nearing his trip to heaven, reminds me of the way I want to be with God. Jake is always in my face. Even now, as I sit in the hot sun,  Jake has gone in and out of the cool of the house countless times - always making his way back to me. He doesn't come with a plan or purpose. He knows I don't have treats. He may or may not get another pat on the head. But no matter how worn out he is by age and health issues, he is persistent in his perseverance to be in my presence as much as possible. This is the way I want to be with God. Persistent in my perseverance to be in God's presence.

Even now, Jake stands at the doorway, panting with all his exertion (no small feat given his severe arthritis and what might be cancer or simply extreme age for his breed) and waits for his next trip to me as I enjoy the strong and hot entrance of spring. Jake is relentless. This is how I want to be with God. Relentless in my seeking Him. Relentless in coming after Him. Relentless in returning to Him every time I have stepped away. Relentless about being in His presence - even if I come to Him tired, weary, panting. Simply relentless.

Jake (in the back) resting with Abigail (front).
Believe it or not, they are NOT related....
Jake does this indoors also. He does not come to receive something from me, though sometimes he does. He comes to me, over and over no matter his obstacles, because he wants to be with me. He desires my company, and my company is enough for him. It is not about getting anything from me; he desires my companionship. This is how I want to be with God, though so much of the time I go running to God in search of something. For God to hear me, for God to help me, for God to answer my prayers. Oh, I long for the day I am so thankful and so surrendered and will so trust in God that my highest priority will be His fellowship. I am slowly moving in that direction. Slowly. Out of breath. Like Jake.

Trials, Trials, Fiery Trials

Everywhere I turn, people hurting. Everywhere I turn, people struggling. Everywhere I turn, people walking through fire. Sick. Weary. Hungry. Poor. Hurting. Broken. Wounded. Abused. Lost. Abandoned. Neglected. Rejected. Raging. Violence. Oh, how I could cry out to the Lord, why Lord? Why Lord? And I have. I have cried out to Him about my own trials. And I have wondered about the trials of others. But at the end of the day, I remember what I told a woman in the midst of her own struggle. Jesus never promised us we would not have our tribulations and trials. But He did promise us this. He has overcome the world. If we would only remember in the midst of our fiery trials that God is sovereign, if we would only take comfort in His presence, if we would only seek His face and allow Him to conform us to the image of Christ as we are refined in the fire of our trials, if we would only run into His arms and rest in Him, then we would discover the blessing greater than any of that which we walk through. Knowing Christ. No matter how much my life has not turned out in any way as I had desired, no matter how many challenges I have been through and continue to go through, I am blessed. For I am not alone in any of my trials as I once was. I am in  Christ.

... "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world
you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. ... " John 16:33 NIV

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." 1 Peter 4:12 NASB

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Longing to Love

Whoever said love has to be complicated? As soon as I jammed my peanut butter fingers into the sterilized dog bones and dropped the now sticky bones to the ground for their proud new owners to scurry after at full disabled-doggy speed, the tears flocked to my eyes (as best they could despite my recent bout of dry eye) in my humble realization through this so seemingly insignificant act of how simple, and small, and seemingly insignificant an act of love can be. But when is love ever insignificant? To paralyzed dog Miss Mercy, and two-footed dog Winnie and one-eyed, blind dog Glory, who share a bedroom, heaven had just opened wide its doors and tossed down their peanut butter delights. So why the near tears over something so seemingly simple and small?

Because I think I win the world's record for the widest gap between my indescribably, exceedingly, endlessly, over-the-top passion to love the Lord and others - AND how extremely far short I fall daily. Oh, how I long to love! The more I seek the Lord, the more I know His love, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I long to love Him and others. And where for so very long I took love for granted and barely gave it a second thought or glance, now I know it's a matter of life or death, isn't it?

One-eyed, blind Glory with paralyzed Miss Mercy....
Not so long ago, I wouldn't have given a passing thought to tossing peanut butter dog bones onto the floor for three disabled dogs, but I am learning not to take God - and love - for granted. And no matter how far short I continue to fall daily in loving God and loving others, I now know how unwise it is to take these precious moments of love, mercy, and grace for granted.

God's Precious Blossoms

I couldn't believe my eyes. In 24 hours, a naked tree that had but one or two blossoms burst forth with so many precious blossoms that I couldn't possibly count them. And, in another 24 hours, even more. At 46 years old, I believe it's the first time in my life I ever noticed such a phenomenon. Only God could have created growth like this. I suppose, in retrospect, I have been too busy surviving one winter season after another in my life to take thankful notice of spring - of what God does when He brings spring on the other side of all life's winters.


Now imagine if the tree had given up near the end of winter, right at the edge of winter and spring, and bowed down to the ground and given up on living. Imagine if it had ended all possibility of the growth to come - the miraculous growth - all because winter was so cold and grey and harsh with no sign of spring to come.  But the tree, refusing to bow down and give up, lifted its branches like arms instead to the heavens with no idea of what would come, or when - but  nevertheless hoping for light and sunshine and warmth and blossoms. How often I have bowed down to the ground, weeping and cursing and yelling and complaining as I felt enveloped and trapped and suffocated by winter seasons in my life when I couldn't even remember what a blossom looked like. But as I have tenaciously chased after the Lord, He has lifted up my head in my many winters, pouring mercy into me and lifting me back into His hold. Each time, when I thought I could bear no more, with the strength of the Lord drenching me with love, I found my hands and heart rising once again to heaven with the promise of spring to come.

And, sure enough, despite days I could only see one blossom on my life, sometimes in only 24 hours too many blossoms to count would come. God reminds me these blossoms might not be answered prayers, but all in all they are blessings that are greater than any other blessings at all. Spiritual blessings. Love. Hope. Mercy. Faith. Forgiveness. And the blossoms, the blessings, are not just His gifts to me. For I find that as God brings me from all the winter seasons into spring, He is growing me up into a daughter who herself is beginning to have these blossoms to offer others. Love for an enemy. Faith for a friend. Encouragement for a weary one. Hope for the discouraged. So many blossoms. And, even as I write, I look to the tree. And if I am not mistaken, there are even more precious pink blossoms on that tree. And, as I look into my heart at where I have experienced so very many long winters, I have again the hope that spring is on its way - with the promise of God's blossoms. Blessings that could only come from above. God's precious blossoms. God's precious blessings. Too many to count.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is It Quitting Time Yet?

Do you ever just so incredibly unbelievably desperately really, really want to quit doing something that you can't figure out whether to tear your hair out, scream at the top of your lungs, burst into five gazillion tears, run and hide under the covers, or eat five gallons of ice cream to try to get rid of all the out-of-control, I-want-to-quit-NOW feelings? Okay, granted, I'm not craving five gallons of ice cream, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows I've been struggling with the eating disorder monster again. But the rest of it? The pulling out hair, screaming, tears, running and hiding, oh yeah, count me in.

Someone I met years ago who had gone through an incredible trial told me, "Life isn't fair, but it's good." I can't say life is fair, and I can't say it's always so good, not in my estimate anyway, but God is ALWAYS good. And God always knows what He's doing. And when God is yelling in my ear (not that He yells, mind you, but I've been known to exaggerate), "Don't quit!", it's hard to deny Him. How can I possibly quit on God when He never, ever, ever quits on me and has every reason in the world to do just that! But I can, as God can attest to, do a really good job of pulling a two-year-old tantrum (AGAIN!) and yell out to God (or sob, as the case may be), "But WHY, God? WHY?" In other words, why won't God let me just QUIT? Drum roll please. And along comes today's answer.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Greatest Comfort of All

Dedicated to my precious friend who grieves today. She knows who she is. 

Some people need comfort. Some need lots of comfort. Some need tons of comfort. I've needed tons and tons of comfort throughout my life. So many losses. So much tragedy. And I cannot help but think of the greatest comfort of all today as a dear friend of mine in the midst of trial after challenge after trial has had to release her precious dog to the Lord. I am reminded of the journey I have taken when it comes to comfort. For just because I have found the greatest comfort of all does not mean I knew all along. I most assuredly did not.

Long ago, I believed grief was intended for behind closed doors - not to mention in alcohol and all sorts of unhealthy places. When I was in college and learned my mother had euthanized my childhood dog, I got drunk and hid from my friends in my room so nobody would be near me and my grief. When I learned that my grandmother was seriously ill and ultimately died, I found the bottle again - not to mention stayed true to my belief that grief should be done in private. No wonder I went to the bottle. I don't think God ever intended for grief to be done alone.

Need a New Beginning?

One of the zillions of things I love about God is that He is all about new beginnings. When we repent and confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, we are born again and get our most important new beginning. God erases the debt for our sins because Jesus paid our penalty on the cross, and we get the greatest new beginning of all on earth. We not only are no longer headed for hell because of our sin, and are now promised eternity with God through faith in Jesus Christ, but we get to have a relationship with God on earth. How's that for an amazingly, awesome, breathtakingly phenomenal new beginning - to be restored to fellowship and personal, intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe, the very fellowship that we humans lost with our Creator because of sin.

When we die, if we are followers of Jesus, we get the other greatest new beginning. We begin our journey in eternity with the Lord. In between our salvation and our beginning in eternity, there are countless other new beginnings. Like every time I confess my sin to God and am forgiven for something wrong I have done. And like the amazing new beginning I have had just this morning. In spending time with the Lord, in seeking Him and listening to Him speak into my heart, I realized He has taken me to a new place with a gift He has given me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Praise Report on Sweet Jake

The Lord blessed sweet Jake, Walk by Faith Ministry, and myself this week with plenty of love, generous donations for Jake's visit to the vet, and the surprisingly good news that what I suspected would be bone cancer turned out to be very severe arthritis. I am well aware that Jake, at 15 years old, may not be with me for an extraordinarily much longer time, but I am thankful for the extra time the Lord has given me. Given my not-so-long-ago loss of my beloved ministry co-founder Red, combined with the loss of several other of my immediate "dog" family members and other losses, this was an unexpected blessing for which I am truly grateful. Many thanks to those who prayed and to those who donated.

A Blind Dog's Lesson - She Can See Love

Sometimes words just pop out of my mouth. Then I see their significance. Surely they are borne in heaven, some of these words. Like these. She can see love. Right in the midst of feeding, medicating, and letting in and out the ministry's 17 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs, I called out to blind, one-eyed Glory. She couldn't see me, of course, but she could hear me. She has trouble locating sound, too, so she does not take a straight path to get to me. But she knows where love is. Blind Glory can see love. And so it is she ran in one direction, stub-of-a-tail wagging, then in another. Then she ran another way, then another. She ran as fast as she could, wagging tail never stopping, until she found me. Her source of love. Blind Glory not only can see love. She persistently, tenaciously, passionately, attentively, dog-on-a-vital-mission goes after it. Until she runs into it. What a precious, doggone lesson in the love of God, isn't it?

Sweet Glory when she still had two eyes......
How often do I run blindly in one direction only to find God isn't there? How often do I run blindly in the other direction only to discover I am off course? How often do I turn in yet another direction to remember I shouldn't have gone that way? And how often do I finally, at last, only because I am tenacious and God is loving, merciful, and patient, crash into the greatest source of love there is, and the only source of true, legitimate, real, genuine, authentic, everlasting love there is? God Himself. And I, like Glory, cannot walk by sight. Because I cannot see God. And often I find myself running after things and people I can see, thinking I will find the answer there. To no avail, of course. Then, like Glory, I run in another direction. I only wish I could say my tail wags as I run in the next direction. But Glory, on her mission, always has a happy, joyful, disposition, utterly convinced she will find her source of love if she doesn't give up. She is not discouraged that she made the mistake of running the wrong way yet again. She is only ever more convinced she must find the right way to get to the right destination. Glory doesn't walk, or run, by sight. She lives by faith.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: RAW FAITH by Kasey Van Norman

Got faith? How about raw faith? Don't know what I'm talking about? Call me a voracious reader. Sometimes I read two to three books a week; often I bounce around from book to book. While countless Christian books I read are hugely informative and often inspiring, strong in teaching and encouraging, too, many of them are written by authors who stay on the surface rather than diving deep below. Every once in a while, however, I run across an exception. Such is the case with Kasey Van Norman's book Raw Faith: When God Picks a Fight, published by Tyndale House Publishers and scheduled for release in April 2014. If you're ready and willing to take a dive down deep - deeper than you may have ever gone before or deeper than you've been in a while - be prepared to go on a raw, gritty, challenging, and, yes, phenomenally inspiring and life-transforming journey with Kasey.




Everything about this book is totally raw - a somewhat rare, and wonderfully refreshing, thought-provoking quality in a book in my experience. Raw, and real. Where so many books are sugar-coated with comfortable, easy, palatable, sweet-sounding, somewhat, if not entirely, surface kind of writing, Raw Faith is not. Not at all. Where the Bible calls us to offer our bodies (or lives) (Romans 12:1) to God as a living sacrifice, it is my belief that Kasey has done just that by extending an invitation to readers to dive down into the depths of her heart, her life, her story as God is glorified through her testimony.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Donations Sought for 15-year-old Sweet JAKE.......

Some of you might remember not too long ago that when I lost my beloved ministry co-founder Red, I felt that I would likely lose my sweet Jake at the same time. The Lord blessed me immeasurably by keeping Jake in my life all these months since. Jake needs to go to the vet to get two x-rays of his leg, as he is in a lot of pain and having difficulty walking. His back pain seems much more manageable with his medications, but his leg is a different story. I would be very grateful to anyone who would like to make a donation toward his care. I am raising $250 for his care. DONATE BUTTON is below......!
I came into my bedroom one day to find
Jake "reading" the Bible........
Fifteen-year-old Sweet Jake, who has been with me for many years after coming into my life via my ex-husband, has graciously shared my love, time, care and attention with countless other rescued dogs through the years. He has sacrificed the life of a regular family doggie so that I could work with all the other dogs that have come in and out of our lives.

Jake had been an outside-only dog with heartworm, no veterinary care, vaccines, or flea/tic prevention, and left for several days at a time with another dog and a massive bowl of dog food. I literally had to DRAG him indoors. Over time, I had to DRAG him outside because he decided AC, heat, and comfort sure beat living outside. Jake currently lives in my bedroom with paralyzed dog Mr. Simeon and disabled dog little Miss Miracle, with periodic visits from Abigail.

On a different day, I came into my bedroom
and found my beloved Red "reading" the Bible....
Despite Jake's pain, he follows me in my room to get as close to me as possible, and walks back and forth to my bed to get right in my face as I read and write. He is so excited to see me when I open the door to let him back inside after his bathroom breaks that he literally does a little "run" despite his pain. His love for me is amazing, and I would love nothing more right now than to give him all the care he needs to bring him comfort as he lives out what time He has left on this earth. The way Jake loves me is such a reminder that I need to follow the Lord in the same way - always keeping my eyes, and heart, and attention on Him. I wish I could say I do this with the Lord even close to how well Jake does this with me!

Thank you for your love, prayers, and donations!!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

WANTED: NEW SPONSORS........!!!!!!!!

NEW SPONSORS wanted for WALK BY FAITH MINISTRY. Sponsors donate ANY amount they choose on a monthly basis toward WALK BY FAITH MINISTRY as a whole, toward one of the mostly special needs & senior rescued dogs, or to any other aspect of the ministry. It would be AWESOME to have some sponsors for the INSPIRATIONAL WRITING & BOOKS, too! Unfortunately, the ministry has lost several sponsors this past year & it would be a BIG BLESSING to add some new ones! Please contact me at love@walkbyfaithministry.com if you are interested. Thank you & God bless you!!!

Becoming Real

I talked to a friend today whom I have known for a long time, but all of a sudden I find we are becoming real. We have talked thousands of times before, and have woven in and out of each other's lives. But as much as we always came back to one another after periods away, we always knew we had our safe, hiding places to run to.

For as close as we have been, we were never close enough. We held back pieces of ourselves from each other, not because God likely wanted us to, but more than likely because we were afraid - and prideful. As down to earth and simple as we both are in so many ways, right down to the way we dress and speak and act, we kept ourselves pretty carefully made up with each other.

Endless Mercy

You astound me, God. You amaze me. No matter how short I fall, you are there. You wait for me. Your mercy never runs out. You have it new for me every morning. You could so easily turn your back on me and walk away. How often have I done that very thing when I have not had mercy for others. But there you are, not only waiting to shed your mercy on me, but teaching me to do the same with others.

You are a well of mercy that never runs dry. I need only to come to you humble, broken, sorrowful, confessing my sin to you, remorseful over what I have done. And you take my contriteness, my brokenness, and replace it with the cool, refreshing, life-giving, water of your mercy. Your fountain of mercy so strong, it pours into me. And I, bent over, withered, dry, dehydrated with my sin, receive your transfusion, your flow into me of mercy, and become transformed. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Poem for My King - by Lara Love

You draw me to yourself
Even in my iniquity
You do not turn away
But pull me closer to you
And readily I come
To be held by you
To be-hold you
To take hold of you
Wrapped in your arms
Tight in your embrace
Tears falling on your shoulder
You take my heart
You take my hurt
You take my sorrow
And give me hope for tomorrow
Not for anything particular
But the hope I hold in my arms
Is not just the promise
Of forever in heaven with you,
As though that were not enough
But it’s the promise of the way you hold me now
Wrapping me in grace
Enfolding me in mercy
Even as I struggle with sin
Even as I hurt over what was done to me
I have you to cleave to
You to cling to
You to love, oh Lord
And I bask in the peace
Of finally coming to grasp
That even in all my imperfection
I am loved by you
You want me
You accept me
You love me
You, my Lord,
I cry safely in your arms
Tucked gently in the refuge of your forever love.

-     A Poem for My King, by Lara Love

Empty Hands, Empty Heart

Today I am letting go of something beautiful. Oh, it felt so good - for a while. It looked so good. It sounded good. I enjoyed it greatly - for a while. Oh, there were so many wonderful things about it. It was comfortable. It was wonderful to be loved. To be appreciated. I did well with it for a while. I saw God use me. How wonderful that was. So much wonderful about it - except. Except God didn't want me to hold onto it.

And I assumed that the open door that I ran through to fill my hands and heart with this meant God had opened the door - and kept it open. But open doors aren't always opened by God. And even open doors that God has opened aren't always meant to stay open. Sometimes when God opens a door and I run through it, I remain past the time God wants me there. And sometimes I burst through open doors that He hasn't opened at all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

He Bore It All

I was wandering through the cool, sun-splashed yard, picking up the never-ending supply of dog poop, mind you, the perfect fodder and time for yet another heavenly blessing, when the thought made a crisp, clean, and smooth entry into my mind. Jesus bore it all. Not some things. Not other things. Not this. Not that. Not just that stuff over there. Not what he was in the mood to bear. Not the pretty stuff only. Not the hard stuff alone. Not slim pickings. No, not limited in any way. He bore it ALL. Everything.

So why do I, and why do we, bear anything at all when His shoulders are strong enough, His hands wide enough, His arm powerful enough, His love endless enough, His grace sufficient, His mercy forever, His sacrifice on the cross ALL-encompassing, ALL-embracing, ALL-inclusive?

Why, yes why, do we carry the weight of sorrow, of grief, of hurt, of brokenness, of wounds, of scars, of cuts, of scrapes, of bruises, of our sin, of others' violence and crimes and lashes against us, sickness, loss, emptiness, loneliness, anything at all, why do we sink, and find ourselves crushed and hopeless and discouraged and flattened on the ground, unable to take another step, another breath, another anything at all - why? Why, when He bore it ALL?

This is NOT to say that we won't still hurt, that we won't still suffer, that we won't still experience hurt, and hardship, and challenge, and so much more. In fact, Jesus PROMISES us we will have tribulation. But He also PROMISES us He has overcome the world. So why do I find myself time after time crawling in the dirt, my head down, tears puddling in the dust as I cry out, cry out, cry out, help me, I can't take this burden anymore? It's because I forget. He not only bore it ALL. He bears it still. He bore, and bears, ALL.

And ALL I have to do, and ALL we have to do, is to reach out breathlessly, brokenly, yearning, hungry, thirsty, desperate, desirous, needy, humble, yes, humble, and take the yoke HE offers us. So that He - yes, HE - can take the weight off of us and hand us His own yoke. His own burden. Light, because He bore, and wants to bear, ours. Easy, because it is His. I am tired. I am broken. Again. But this time I remember. And so it is. I give Him the weight. I give Him the burden. And I reach out my hands to take what He hands me. His peace. His forever love. Himself.

Isa 53:1  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 
Isa 53:2  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 
Isa 53:3  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 
Isa 53:4  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 
Isa 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 
Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 
Isa 53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 
Isa 53:8  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 
Isa 53:9  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 
Isa 53:10  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 
Isa 53:11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 
Isa 53:12  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (underlining and bold added for effect)

Mat 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 
Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

WANTED: SAFE & LOVING HOME FOR ESTHER!!!!!

ESTHER, a healthy, joyful, vibrant, active, athletic, loving, sweet as pie, 3-year-old, Red Tick / German Short-Haired doggie in the care of Walk by Faith Ministry, is in need of a SAFE & LOVING home with a dog-experienced, doggie-dedicated family. She MUST be in a very active home with a large fenced yard, plenty of walking, jogging/running, & LOVE!!!!!!!!! 
Esther is an INDOOR doggie that LOVES the outdoors but needs a home where she will live INSIDE as part of the family that will give her plenty of outdoor EXERCISE and PLAY TIME!!!! She does GREAT with people and with most other dogs. No cats or small animals please!


Esther, found super skinny at a hunting club where the caretaker believes she might have been shot and killed by hunters because she did not belong there and did not have a collar and tag on, has spent the past couple of years with Walk by Faith Ministry - an odd mix considering most of her "siblings" are special needs and/or senior dogs. 

She is extraordinarily sweet, and I absolutely LOVE her, but my hands are full with 17 mostly special needs & senior rescued dogs - not to mention all the other aspects of Walk by Faith Ministry as well as walking through some super hard personal challenges. Suffice it to say, it would be a big blessing to know Esther gets ALL the love, attention, play & exercise in a safe and loving home that she deserves!!!!!!!!!

APPLICATION, HOME VISIT & REFERENCES, & ADOPTION CONTRACT. Donation of any amount to Walk by Faith Ministry for approved adopter.

Please help spread the word, and PRAYERS very much appreciated! For more information, please call 843-338-2219, visit www.walkbyfaithministry.com, or e-mail love@walkbyfaithministry.com.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

GOD is SMALLER

Wow. Talk about convicted. I was just reading in a book the testimony of a woman who heard God ask her the question as she was in the midst of a fiery trial if she thought God was BIGGER than her circumstances. I couldn't even finish reading the testimony before I was struck - by the Holy Spirit nonetheless - with the strong, undeniable conviction that I have been in the midst of my own fiery trial with a simple - and horribly wrong - lie buried deep in my soul. GOD is SMALLER. Well, of course He's not. But He used the woman's testimony - and the question He asked her - to make me take a good look at my own heart. Oh sure, I love the Lord with all my heart. Everyone who knows me knows that. But that doesn't always mean that I'm walking by faith. And it certainly doesn't mean that I am not falling for Satan's lies. Like this big fat lie. GOD is SMALLER. Wow, eh?

DONATIONS for PARALYZED DOG

PARALYZED Miss Molly (dog on right!), who will be moving to her new home in a week, went back to the vet for the umpteenth time for her foot that after a full year has still not healed. Her needs have put a big strain both on the ministry's budget as well as on me in terms of her needs regarding care. She is an absolute LOVE of a dog, but has definitely kept me on my toes. PLEASE consider a DONATION toward Molly's care. Anything beyond her vet bill will go toward the ministry as a whole. Donations can be made at https://www.youcaring.com/walkbyfaithministry or by clicking on the DONATE button on the right side of this page. 

THANK YOU & God bless you!!!!!!!!





Monday, February 24, 2014

Child's Picture, Hand of the Lord - DAILY INSPIRATION

It looked like any other ordinary kid's drawing. Colorful. Crayons. Or was it markers? Colorful anyway. Simple. Innocent. All over the piece of paper. Not seeming to make any sense, but happy. Cute. Something for any mom to be proud of. Proud enough, in this case, for the mom to hang the drawing on her office wall. But how could the child have known, or the mom known, that one day I would walk into that office and find myself staring at the wall? Not just any ordinary wall, but a wall in a small office of a clinic decorated with a kid's drawing that to maybe anyone else was just that and nothing more. A kid's drawing. But to me, who had entered that office by the hand of the Lord, this really wasn't any ordinary kid's drawing.

"I've had a problem with the clinic," I explained to the woman. "And I'm not here to get anyone in trouble," I said. In fact, I wasn't altogether certain how I had arrived in this particular woman's office. She was in a different building, in a different location than the clinic I had visited, and I didn't know her name or title or anything other than there had been a wide open door. One office worker had passed me on to another, then to another, and was there one other? I don't know. I somehow landed in this woman's office. With the kid's drawing on the wall.

The woman listened.

When the Truth Helps - DAILY INSPIRATION

Ever heard the expression, "sometimes the truth hurts"? The truth sometimes really does hurt, but that very same truth can be an enormous help. Such was the case this afternoon when I asked a precious friend of mine if she would be honest with me about something. Then I asked if she would share her heart about something very important to me - something very near and dear to my heart. I knew this would be hard for her. She has such a big, beautiful heart, that I can only imagine she would not have the easiest time with telling me the truth - the hard stuff, that is. She's an encouraging person by nature, so to ask her to say stuff that might not be too encouraging could have been a big challenge. She did it anyway. And what definitely was hard truth to hear was also totally encouraging. But why?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Surrounded by Angels - A TESTIMONY

When I plopped down into a not-so-comfy classroom-style wood chair in a women's small group at a church I had only visited once just a few days before, I had no idea what to expect other than to learn a little about the book the women had been studying. The last thing I thought would happen is that I would open my big mouth, speak about something extraordinarily hard to talk about, ask for prayer, and find myself surrounded by a group of passionately praying women with hands laid on me just like the Bible talks about.

I actually felt like a boulder of sheer weight had been lifted off my lap by the women as they wrapped up their prayers and walked away from me. I left with a sense of relief that they had lifted the burden off of me and placed it in the hands of the Lord. Soon after I got in my car, I heard the Lord speak into my heart that I needed to call my ex-husband who recently moved several states away.

BOOK REVIEW: Awesome Inspirational Fiction!

If I were a woman of few words, which I am quite clearly not, I would sum up author Melody Carlson in a single sentence: she is one God-loving, amazingly gifted author with multiple series of books for teens that are totally outstanding, inspiring, entertaining, funny, moving, and life-transforming all at once. Okay, so I couldn't even keep my one-sentence summary to a few words. Then again, in the case of reviewing a bunch of her books I've read and am still reading, why would I be sparing with my accolades? Alright, for any of you who know me well, I don't give Melody Carlson the glory for her books. And I am quite sure neither would she. God most assuredly gets the glory for the writing - and heart - gift He has given her, but surely she deserves a big THANK YOU for her love, faithfulness, obedience, diligence, and perseverance in using the gift God has so clearly given her to glorify His name.
one of Melody Carlson's numerous Christian teen diary books
Now, in case you're wondering, why is a 40-something woman voluntarily reading books for teens, voluntarily choosing to review a bunch of them all in a single review, and voluntarily sharing from my heart exactly how blessed I am to have stumbled across her books? The rest of this review should be more than sufficient in answering these questions. But I hope my review goes a step further. I hope it helps to draw more readers to her work - and, through her work, to a more intimate, precious, life-transforming walk with the Lord. So, for anyone curious to learn more about this treasure trove of marvelous books I have stumbled upon, moving right along...

Monday, February 17, 2014

The REAL Definition of a FRIEND - DAILY INSPIRATION

A childhood friend gave me a big, colorful poster to put on my wall that gave an interesting definition of a friend. Not only can I remember little of my childhood, but I can remember nothing of the poster other than its purpose to define a friend. I do remember how I considered this girl my best friend, and I also remember how she gave up our friendship when another little girl gave her an ultimatum to choose between me and her. Off she went. I am not sure if there is any perfect definition of a friend, and I certainly have fallen far short as a friend far too many times to recount, but today I had the great pleasure - and blessing - of seeing a wonderful definition of friendship in action. And it all boils down to six words.

Love. Pray. Time. Listen. Share. Laugh. As the Lord had led me to do months ago, and I just couldn't seem to get around to it, I shared with my long-time friend the hardest thing I have ever had to share with another human. I came with no expectations other than to do as the Lord had told me. How surprised, and blessed beyond measure I was, when my friend gave me the greatest gift a friend can give. She laid down her life for me. She gave me the love of Jesus Christ. Prayer to God. Her time in a busy world. She listened to me when so many do not take the time and care to listen. She shared with me about her own self. And she laughed with me. Yes, in the midst of a conversation in which I shared the deepest place in my heart, she even helped me to laugh.

I probably will never remember the definition of a friend that was on that childhood poster. But I have seen in action what it is for a friend to lay down her life for me. In loving me, praying for me, giving me her time, sharing with me, and laughing with me, she gave me the greatest gift I believe a friend can give. She gave me her heart that is so filled with the Lord's love that she can't keep it to herself. It is this love of Christ she pours out to the world around her, inspiring me to continue to aspire to do the same. Talk about the REAL definition of a FRIEND.

p.s. I thank God for EVERY SINGLE FRIEND He has blessed me with throughout my life. I treasure each and every one of you, and each of you blesses me in a unique, God-given way. And for those of you I don't know, I consider you my friends also. I love you all with the love of God! Bless you all! 

    "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13 NIV

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Ultimate Lie Detector Test

I should take a lie detector test - daily. Not just any old lie detector test. But the ultimate lie detector test. And not because I tell lies, for the truth is that I hate them and I don't tell them. I really need to take the ultimate lie detector test daily because I'm a sucker for believing them - even when the lies are dangerous and potentially deadly. But then deception can be deadly, can't it? At the very least, it's dangerous, right? So why do I keep falling into the trap of believing them? The master of deception, the father of lies, is a first-rate professional at causing, creating, instigating, perpetuating, and provoking people to think lies, speak lies, believe lies, and most of all, to make decisions and to live according to lies. After all, his life's mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). And I'm not speaking of just any old lies. I'm talking about the lies that go against God's Truth - His Word.

By now, you've likely figured out I'm talking about the devil. Chances are you've fallen for some of his lies yourself. And you may have knowingly or unknowingly helped him out by perpetuating some of them, maybe in your own life and quite possibly in the lives of others. So what's the big deal, then, about taking a lie detector test - daily? It's simple. For those of us like myself who keep falling for his lies, I need to take the ultimate lie detector test - daily - to figure out what, if any, lies I'm believing. Then, once the test determines which lies I have been believing, I need to get rid of them. Undoubtedly, I need to do a much better job of committing, and remembering, to take the test. And I need to do a much better job of getting rid of the lies once the test reveals them. Now there's some truth for you, speaking of lies! So what then is the ultimate lie detector test?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stripped Naked - of Pride - DAILY INSPIRATION

When I began to ask God fairly regularly over a period of time to clothe me with humility as the Bible talks about, the last thing I expected is that He would strip me naked. But now that I think about it, it's best to get undressed before getting dressed in something new, right? And that's precisely what I had to do. Before God could clothe me in humility, He had to strip me of pride. For I was cloaked in so many layers of pride, unbeknownst to myself mind you, that I could not possibly have gotten clothed in humility without first being stripped. So how exactly has God stripped me of pride?

Some years ago, I cried out desperately to God to change my circumstances because they were simply unbearable. He told me He would not change my circumstances because He was using my circumstances to change my heart. Several years later, once the hardness had been taken off of my heart and I had undergone a massive cleansing of my heart, coupled with learning how to purify my heart on a daily basis, I figured I was pretty much through with any big surprises. Not so. For just when I thought I was aware of all of my shortcomings and doing my best to work on them, God showed me the mighty sin of pride - and how very destructive, dangerous, and potentially deadly it is. Well, I figured I could simply ask God to help me to be humble. Needless to say, the Bible says that I - meaning me - need to become humble. It doesn't say that God is supposed to do it for me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are You a Royal Prince or Princess? - BIBLE TAKEOUT

I have often through the years heard believers in Christ proclaim how wonderful, and important, it is to receive and partake and enjoy the incredible blessings of being so-called royalty because we have been adopted through faith in Jesus Christ into the Kingdom of God. "We're royalty! We're princes and princesses!" people have told me, encouraging me to see myself as God's princess and to therefore thrive and to appreciate the gifts of being royalty. They have encouraged me to see myself as a daughter of the most high God, and to enjoy being His princess. Admittedly, I have fallen short of living the abundant life promised me in Christ. And truthfully, I have often seen myself through eyes other than God's - i.e. not exactly a princess!

photo courtesy of morguefile.com

But at the same time, I wonder how many people who speak of the wonders of being royalty in God's Kingdom realize that God's Word has a job for His royalty to do such that sitting around polishing one's prince or princess crown and calling on one's servants to bring in the newspaper and prepare a five-course kingly breakfast might not fit so well with. God's royal priesthood of Christ followers are God's possession, and this belonging to God comes with a life-saving assignment. We are called to "proclaim" the Lord who delivered us out of darkness to the world at large! This does not mean that God does not want us to enjoy our lives, but it does mean that we have a purpose above all else - to love Him with all our hearts, to love others, and to share the good news of Jesus the Christ with the world. Something tells me some of His princes and princesses might need a reminder from time to time that it's time to get out of the palace and reach out with the Gospel to a broken world in dire need of Christ.

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Two Churches, My Mirror, One Love - DAILY INSPIRATION

Two churches. Just miles between them. Yet a world apart. I visited both last Sunday and couldn't believe the difference between the two. What I was able afterward to put my finger on as what may account for the difference between the two churches has made me take a good hard look at myself in the mirror. And it just may make you do the same.

photo courtesy of openclips via Pixabay.com
The first church had a quiet, almost somber, death-like feel to it. The second church seemed vibrant, joyful, alive. Both pastors preached the Word of God. But the first pastor has a reputation of knowing the Bible absolutely inside and out, verse by verse, history, context, forward, backward, absolutely anything and everything. I cannot even fathom ever having that degree of knowledge, let alone memory.

The second pastor, meanwhile, preached a simple message. Perhaps he, too, knows an exceedingly extraordinarily phenomenal amount about the Bible. But his message was so very simple. And it was vibrant, like the congregation. The first congregation? The worship seemed so somber that I shouldn't have been surprised to see the worship leader despite the large size of the crowd staring - and smiling - right at me. I believe he was looking at me because my hand was raised heavenward and my face was filled with joy and a smile beyond measure. I had a sense he does not see that very often in the congregation.

But why would a big church with a pastor who knows virtually everything there is to know about the Bible seem so sober and lifeless while a church down the road with a pastor who preaches so simply be so full of life? And why did the difference between the two cause me to take a good look at myself in the mirror?