Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving, an antidote for worry…

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

There it is, in black and white, the antidote for anxiety and worry. No matter what we’re faced with, all we have to do is take it to the Lord. But do so with thanksgiving for all we already know to be true, and that is God’s constant provision. No matter how bleak our future may seem, how unstable the economy, how dreaded a prognosis or how helpless any situation may feel, God will provide and He is always on the clock. He never sleeps and He never slumbers. He is ever aware of where we are and what we’re going through. Absolutely nothing catches Him off guard or causes Him to hiccup in His provision. He is constant and He is a stable force. So don’t hesitate to take your requests to Him – but use thanksgiving as an approach. Thanksgiving, an antidote for worry…

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).

Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!

Hope

Give thanks, even if you are detained…

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Thanks to all those who have emailed and one even called me with “where are you?” because I didn’t post a devotional yesterday. I’m just thrilled to know you’re checking the site daily. It really does mean so much. I have no idea what the deal was yesterday except that I had a gliche. I received a bucket load of emails this morning and I’m able to get to our website so here I am!

We spoke to the young girls at the Department of Juvenile Justice on Sunday night and that was a little more difficult than usual. I kept thinking how easy it was for me to show up with my Bible in hand looking all pretty and “together” and sit across from young girls (two were only 13 years old) and tell them to give thanks in spite of their circumstances. They were very receptive and we had a great question and answer time but I felt very pious at first. But when I started naming things that they had to be thankful for in spite of the fact that the majority of them will spend Thanksgiving Day detained, their eyes lit up and they nodded in agreement that maybe they do have something to be thankful for.

So what about you? Are you going through difficult times? Are you detained by a burden or a trial or an illness that has you imprisoned by fear or distress? Will Thanksgiving Day find you in a place that you would never have chosen and would give anything to be able to escape? Spend some time today listing things that could be worse, or things that have gone well this past year, or things that you know have been “fixed” since this time last year. The truth is there is much for us to be thankful for. It is God’s will for us that we are thankful in all circumstances, not with doom and gloom woe is me thanks anyway Lord, but “Thank You in spite of my present state!” If we remind ourselves of all God’s done for us this holiday season, we will be able to give thanks with a joyful heart – in spite of ourselves and our circumstances.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Hope

He reached Down from on High and took hold of Me!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me. He drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16

Jesus, that’s my testimony. You reached down and You took hold of me and You drew me out of very deep water. And each day, Father, one at a time, You are continuing to draw me out of those waters. You are the only one who was capable of drawing me out and the only one capable of continually drawing me out. Bless You Lord! Praise Your name that by Your mercy and Your grace, You reached down and took hold of me! And thank You, Father, that You are still holding me today!

I ran across that scripture last night, Lord, in the front of a book that was given to me in May of 2006 – after Hannah’s surgery. Paula had written that verse on the inside cover of “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. You blessed my heart as I read last night and I could so identify with “Much Afraid” – the character in the story that You desired to take to the high places.

At the beginning of the book these words are recorded: “There are no obstacles which our Savior’s love cannot overcome. The High Places of victory and union with Christ can be reached by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by the laying down of our own will and accepting His.”

“The lessons of accepting and triumphing over evil, of becoming acquainted with grief, and pain, and of finding them transformed into something incomparably precious; these are the lessons of the allegory in this book.”

That is what You are all about, isn’t it Father? – transforming our pain and our grief into something precious beyond compare. Giving us a joy that is deep and abiding! That is the prayer of my heart and what I desire for You to do in my life Lord!

That is a common desire for we as believers, isn’t it Lord? “How deeply we who love the Lord of Love and desire to follow Him long for the power to surmount all difficulties and tests and conflicts in life in the same exultant and triumphant way. To learn the secret of victorious living has been the heart’s desire of those who love the Lord, in every generation. We feel we would give anything if only we could, in actual experience, live on the High Places of love and victory here on this earth and during this life – able always to react to evil, tribulation, sorrow, pain, and every wrong thing in such a way that they would be overcome and transformed into something to the praise and glory of God forever. As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, His own lovely character.”

You know, Lord, if we could pick the way You could produce Your character in us, we wouldn’t pick pain, hurt and suffering. We would choose a different path. But Lord, You are continually reminding me that “Every acceptance of Your will becomes an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to Your will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which You desire to bring every child of Yours while we are still living on earth. The High Places and the hinds’ feet do not refer to heavenly places after death, but are meant to be the glorious experience of Your children here and now – if they will follow the path He chooses for them.”

Psalm 18:33, Hab. 3:19 “The Lord God maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon mine High Places.”

You don’t want us to wait until we get to heaven to experience the high places, do You Lord? You want us to experience the high places in the midst of our trials. Of course You would – only You would think of that and only You could make that a reality!

Much Afraid had been in the service of the Chief Shepherd for many years but there was something deeper that she was longing to experience. Early every morning, she would meet with the Chief Shepherd and learn His wishes for the day, and again in the evenings she would meet with Him to give her report on the day’s work. . .

You know Lord, I anticipate reading about Much Afraid’s journey! You are going to change her name from Much Afraid, aren’t You? Oh Father, You are going to give us each, as believers in Jesus Christ, a new name – a name that will remain – the scripture says in Revelation.

Yesterday I saw a precious friend as I was gathering some groceries. She asked how we were doing and told me that she continued to keep us in her prayers. As we started to part ways, she said, “I hope you all will be able to enjoy this Thanksgiving season.” Oh Father, yes, yes, yes, we will enjoy this Thanksgiving season – perhaps as none other. For we now count our blessings in different ways and You have given us a new appreciation of those things that are of the greatest value! I am so thankful for the way You are taking care of us, Lord! Thank You for continuing to set our feet upon the High Places! I love You, Lord, Amen.

 

Talk it up!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Alexia shared some scripture today out of The Message and I love it! Here it is…

“We thank you, God, we thank you— your Name is our favorite word; your mighty works are all we talk about” (Psalm 75:1 The Message).

My challenge to you for the weekend is to spend time talking about the mighty works of God. I can spend hours yacking and realize when I’ve finished that I’ve not had a whole lot to say. I’m going to practice this weekend thanking God for His mighty works and then telling others about them. Is God’s name my favorite word? For some, His name used in vain is their favorite word but in reverence can we say our favorite word is God or Jesus? At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. At the name of Jesus Satan has to flee. At the name of Jesus the sight is restored. At the name of Jesus mighty things happen!

Talk it up this weekend! Look for the mighty works of the Father and make them all you talk about. We all know how it is when we’re excited about something. We use the phrase, “That’s all I could talk about!” That’s what this scripture is saying. God did something for me and that is all I can talk about. Speak His name often and then let the results be what you yack about. Talk it up!

Hope

God’s will for my life…

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Have you, like me, said many times, “I wish I knew God’s will for my life” or “I just want to do God’s will” or “I want to be in the center of God’s will.” A verse that I was introduced to this week tells me exactly what God’s will is for my life – and for yours!

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The Message says, “God wants you to live a pure life.” There you go! God’s not really concerned about whether I am a doctor or lawyer or teacher or preacher. That discredits the old song, “Momas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” God’s okay with cowboys! What God wants for me is that I be sanctified – holy, pure, set apart. As long as I strive to live a pure life set apart from the world’s view on life, I can be certain I am slap dab in the center of God’s will. He needs holiness, purety in every field of work and at every college and in every school. I think about Caleb and his decision on where to attend college. “Where does God want you to be?” is a question that would automatically come out of my mouth. Of course Caleb prays that it’s God’s will for him to be a Tarheel! But the truth is God doesn’t care where Caleb attends school, as long as Caleb lives his life holy and set apart. If he’ll do that, God will use Caleb wherever he ends up. And should that be UNC, then God has given Caleb the desire of his heart – a bonus so to speak.

That’s my message for you today. Don’t get hung up on what profession God wants you in, what church He wants you to attend, where He wants you to go to school, whether He wants you to teach a Sunday School class or a basket weaving class. Realize that God’s will for your life is that you be holy. When you figure that out, you’ll be in the center of His will wherever you are in your life.

Hope

The overflow of our brokenness…

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Another statement from Dr. Michael Catt yesterday was that we minister at our best when we minister out of the overflow of our own brokenness. When we are broken we are at the end of ourselves; therefore we can’t rely on ourselves. Sometimes God has to knock the me out of me. Beth Moore calls that ridding us of our self-stuff. Once we rid ourselves of ourself, we can then be used to minister to others.

I remember just a few weeks after Hannah’s Hope Ministries began, Deb and I were discussing whether we should go through training to become counselors. I’m sure I shared this with you then but I’ll remind myself and you! That very day I opened my Streams in the Desert devotional for that day and the message was this…God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comforters. Dr. Catt said the we learn to comfort by being the afflicted. In other words, We must be the one in need of comforting before we can comfort others. Otherwise, we’re shooting from the hip and are clueless as to what the person is going through.

So why do we go through heartache, grief, pain, sorrow, extreme brokenness? So that we can minister to others from the overflow of our brokenness. Deb says that each time she shares Hannah’s story God heals her heart a little more. God’s grace is sufficient to carry us through our own brokenness, to heal us – put us back together again – so that we can comfort others. In the long run, it’ll be worth it.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Hope

In order to walk, we have to kneel…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

I attended a Clergy Breakfast this morning (not that I’m a clergy but was invited to represent the ministry) and the speaker was Dr. Michael Catt from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. Sherwood is the church that has produced the Christian films, Fly Wheel, Facing the Giants, and the most recent being their blockbuster film, Fireproof. Dr. Catt was speaking on the importance of fireproofing your ministry. To fireproof something doesn’t mean you won’t go through the first, it means you are ready or equipped for the fire. That makes sense! I have a fireproof filing cabinet and clearly that doesn’t mean the cabinet will never be exposed to fire. But it does mean that it will not be destroyed by the fire.

That is great application for our Christian walk. We must fireproof our lives so that when we do go through the fire, we’ll be ready and will not be destroyed. Dr. Catt shared that in order to walk through the fire, we must get on our knees. I made myself a note and rephrased that to say in order to walk, we must kneel. If we don’t spend time on our knees, we will not be ready for the fire. If we’re not prepared for the fire, we will be consumed by the heat and the flames. Prayer builds a fireproof wall around our hearts so that nothing will destroy it, regardless of how hot the heat or how high and severe the flames.

“But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you…he who formed you…’Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isaiah 43:1&2).

“the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous” (Psalm 146:8).

In order to walk, we have to kneel…

Hope 

Standing on the edge of the water…

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I have dreamed a crazy dream a couple of times lately and I don’t know why. I’ve dreamed that I was in a vehicle and that vehicle was being pulled into the water. I was desperately trying to get out before the vehicle went under. In one dream I was asking the person with me if we could get out of the truck if it was completely immersed. In the other dream I was asking if we would live should we jump out before the car hit the water. Crazy dreams! I don’t love the water. I don’t fear it but I don’t love it. I can swim but spending a lot of time on the water in a boat or on a jet ski is not my favorite past time. As I read Deb’s post from Saturday about the WOW conference I was reminded of Tammy Trent’s testimony and am thinking that maybe her story prompted my dreams. Tammy shares that when she realized it had been a while since her husband had come up out of the water between dives, she walked to the edge of the dock and leaned out as far as she could looking into the water. She tells that after she went for help she stood for hours on the edge of the water just waiting for God to bring Trent up alive and well. She stood on the edge of the water begging God for her miracle. I remember listening to Tammy and feeling an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and grief as I put myself in her place. What a frightening time that must have been for her!

Sometimes we stand on the edge of the water, desperately looking for our miracle to emerge, anxiously awaiting God’s answer, sometimes to the point of hyperventilating at the thought of drowning in our sorrow or disappointment or anger or grief. But just as Tammy shares how God wrapped her up in His arms and strengthened her to leave the dock and trust Him with Trent’s life, He wraps us up in those same big arms of love. If you’re standing on the edge of the water praying for a miracle, don’t despair! God’s path for you may lead you to the edge, or it may lead you through some rough waters, but He will deliver you. He may not come through with the answer we want, but He will work it all to our good and His glory.

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters…” (Psalm 77:19).

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters” (Psalm 29:3).

Hope

WOW was for me, Lord!

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Good Morning Father!

Your continued attention to my life and to my healing, once again amazes me! You are so into the details, aren’t You, Lord? Things that I promised You many years ago, You bring to my mind at just the right moment. I will never forget someone from church calling our house years ago and asking me if Mickey would be willing to do a devotion for an Upward Basketball game during half-time one Saturday morning. Our kids were all playing and I quickly told the person on the other end of the line that I knew Mickey would be delighted to do the devotion and I accepted the invitation for him –certainly he would do it.

I was not so prepared for his next question when he said, “We would love for you to do a devotion also – if you would be willing.” I quickly told him that Mickey would do a great job and we would just leave it at that!  Immediately when I got off the phone Your Spirit and Your conviction began in my heart. I knew You – You had been at work in my life and I had plenty I could testify about but it was another step of faith in a new place I hadn’t been before – I would be “stepping out on a limb.” You like us on limbs, don’t You, Lord? And usually the thinner the limb, the more You like it! That way when You strengthen the little limb we are on – You get the glory – because everyone knows we couldn’t be holding up the limb!   I can’t remember if it was just a few hours later or a couple of days later, but Your Spirit and Your conviction never let up and I knew You were calling me to share a word of testimony during one of those half-times. I called the person back, told them of Your conviction and told them I would be glad to share a devotion. And at that time, Lord, I told You that any time for the rest of my life that You opened a door for me to share a word of testimony. I would walk through it!!  I made You a promise that day and Lord, I believe I have been true to that promise. It has been such a blessing to testify to who You are and what You do in my life! I set a stone in the ground that day and I told You I was willing to “step out on a limb” to speak for You anytime You asked me for the rest of my life! I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Eddie and Upward for that opportunity to begin sharing my faith in a new way. I shared that devotion – I don’t remember what I shared but I remember the joy of You empowering me and it became the first of many opportunities You would open in that way! Only You could know how much I would need to talk and share years down the road!

So back in the spring, Lord, when a beautiful young mother, Caroline, approached me and told me what You had placed on her heart and that she wondered if I would be available to share my testimony – I knew that I had already told You I would share whenever You opened a door and I readily accepted the invitation – sharing was bringing such healing and purpose to my heart! – it would be my great blessing to share. Caroline shared a little of her story with me – Your restoration of her marriage and family and how You had been at work in her life. She had been traveling to women’s conferences and was being challenged in her Christian walk through the testimonies of others. She would always go – make it an overnight trip and be encouraged in her heart and faith.  You placed in her heart, after the last conference she went to, that we should do the same in our town – in our community – so that more ladies could participate and wouldn’t have to be away from home overnight. She had been so blessed by the testimony of Tammy Trent and her story of God’s healing and restoration after Tammy’s husband drowned in a diving accident. She had contacted Tammy to see if she was available for one of the last weekends in October – and she was!

She also contacted Wendy Duke, a friend of hers whose daughter had been born without one of her legs due to a cancerous tumor that began before birth. Wendy had also agreed to share. Caroline had asked another friend, Faith Davis, to share on that afternoon. The Lord was using Faith’s life, song and testimony for Him in powerful ways.

I will never forget the first time all of us met – I didn’t know any of them but immediately we felt that sister in Christ bond. It never takes long! We met at Star Bucks, fellowshipped, shared little bits of our stories and we prayed together. It was a powerful and precious first meeting. For the weeks and months that followed we got together to pray for the conference and the ladies who would attend. Caroline came to my house many Wednesdays and we would pray together – it was a precious time and You were developing a new and deep friendship in my life. She was a young mother of two and I had already traveled some of the paths You had her on so I believe our time together each week became an encouragement for her also. And Lord, You know I have told You many times that if You will give me one person a day to pray with for the rest of my life – that I think I will be okay! My life was blessed and enriched by those times of praying together and You were continuing to heal my heart!

I don’t think I understood until just yesterday that perhaps the WOW conference was for me! Of course it was – that is always the way You work. I remember that on the day of the conference one of the things we had been praying about was that Wendy’s new book, “The Grace by which We Stand,” would be shipped in time to be available for the conference. And, of course, it came the evening of the 24th – how into the details You are!

I was so challenged by Caroline, Wendy, Faith and Tammy that day and acquired copies of Wendy’s and Tammy’s books. Up until this time, Lord, You know I had told You that I wasn’t going to read any book until I was completely finished with the one I believed You were calling me to write – I needed to be hearing only Your voice and not anyone else’s style or journey. You also know, Lord, that for several years I have not been a big reader except for my bible. I remember Mickey challenging me years ago about having only wholesome things and truths going into my heart and mind. He was challenging me about a couple of night time “dramas” I was watching and he exhorted me that I shouldn’t be watching them. So, from that time on, I didn’t ever watch them again. Television has never held much glamour for me.

After I finished “A Dove Set Free” and the WOW conference, I was ready to begin reading testimonies of Your grace that others had written. You know, Lord, it is a great blessing to share of Your faithfulness and it is a great blessing to hear others share of Your faithfulness! Giving testimony to Your work in our lives always edifies the body of Christ! We need to hear and know what is going on in the lives of other believers.

I started with Wendy’s book – “The Grace by which We Stand” – the story of her journey with her daughter Savannah through multiple surgeries, chemo treatments at just a few weeks old, the removal of the tumor and the rapid growth of the tumor returning – a story I was all too familiar with. It was amazing how You allowed my heart to so identify with Wendy’s heart. Some of the scriptures You wrote on her heart were some of the same scriptures You wrote on my heart and I was so blessed by reading her beautiful story of Your grace! And I had gotten the opportunity to know and love her – I wept through its pages and You brought even more healing to my heart! And I must tell You, Lord that I was very proud of myself for having read that book. It had been many, many months since I had been able to concentrate long enough to read a book or even had any desire to do so – that in itself was healing for me!

After that accomplishment, last week I picked up Tammy’s story, “Learning to Breath Again.” I could certainly identify with that thought as You were teaching me to breath again! Well, last night, Lord I finished reading Tammy’s story and testimony and o
nce again You challenged , blessed and encouraged my heart as I allowed You to show me more and more of Your grace and Your healing. I was astounded, once again, at some of the parallels of our journeys – even though different – You were guiding each of us through our respective journeys. Last night as I finished there were several things she talked about that I could so identify with –she talked about her husbands service and how someone had arranged for her to release a dove. She talked about lifting her hands, releasing the dove, imagining it was her husband, Trent, flying away to heaven – the dove took off and never returned home. Of course I thought of my story, “A Dove Set Free” and the parallels once again.

She talked about You telling her that she needed to walk away from her musical career for a season so You could put her life back together.  You told her that Your plan hadn’t changed – her plan had changed but Yours hadn’t. She talked about the process of going through his clothes and his things – I could once again identify.  She talked about words that were said from those in the body of Christ that hurt and should never have been said. She talked about those early times of sharing when You carried her – I could identify. She ended by talking about what Trent would be saying to her, “Girl, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. I had to go away, but God is using your grief for something very powerful. Don’t give up, Tammy. You’re going to be just fine. I’m so proud of you!”  Of course, I could hear Hannah saying those very things to me! She talked about “Carrying his torch” – that sounded familiar also!

Oh Father, how merciful You have been to me – thank You for allowing me to read two books over the last couple of weeks – thank You for bringing healing and encouragement to my heart through the testimonies of others!

When Faith shared her challenge so powerfully, one of the things she talked about was that You use our giftedness to bring healing to our lives – when we use what You have given us – You use it for our benefit as well as for those we are sharing with. You have brought such healing to my heart through sharing – thank You Jesus! Thank You for allowing me to share and thank You for continuing to heal me in the process!

The WOW conference was for me, wasn’t it Lord? You sure went to a lot of trouble for me – thank You Jesus and thank You for everyone You allowed to share! You have healed my heart just a little bit more through that experience!

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 1:24

 

Coming through the back door…

Friday, November 14th, 2008

The past few weeks I’ve kept myself busy managing the entries that are coming into our blogs from hackers. The good news is that I as web manager receive an email notice each time anyone posts a comment. So I know when the junk comes in but if I’m not at my computer I can’t delete them right away. Last night more than 25 inappropriate junk posts came in to our website. I was afraid I had missed some so I went back for days of entries to be sure I deleted them all. Someone somewhere just sits around and writes code that will hack into other computers through “the back door.”

That is a great picture of how the devil works. He has nothing better to do than try to hack into our lives. He knows he can’t just show up at the front door and expect us to invite him in. We’re smarter than that. So what he does is plots how to get in without us noticing. If he can sneak enough inappropriate thoughts into our heads and we allow them to pile up, before we know it we’ve been hacked and all the good stuff has been moved to the back by the junk. If we stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and allow the Lord to be our web manager, the Spirit will prompt us each time Satan is trying to hack in. All we have to do is immediately use the truth we have hid in our hearts to delete any doubts, fears, anxieties, or inappropriate thoughts from our minds. Satan is shrewd and he has no other agenda than to destroy us. Don’t let him in the back door! Keep God’s Word at each post so that when Satan slivers in, you’ll receive notice immediately. And don’t beat yourself up if some of the junk reaches its destination. It happens to all of us – we’re all in this together! We’ve got to stand firm in our faith and delete the junk immediately.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:7-9).

No big plans for us this weekend, thank the Lord! We’re actually home on a Saturday for the first time in two months. House and garage cleaning are all that’s on my agenda. Our football team is in the playoffs with the best chance in years of advancing to the next round. Go Boiling Springs Bulldogs! and the Dorman Cavaliers (gotta pull for Michael). Have a great weekend.

Hope