Archive for April, 2010

What does He know?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The day that Jesus asked Peter to use his boat for a pulpit, He later told Peter to go back out in the water and throw down his nets for “a catch.” Peter and the boys had been fishing all night. They were cleaning their nets, preparing to go home. You have to wonder what some of the thoughts were of the individuals that came in contact with Jesus. The Bible doesn’t record any skepticism from the disciples. But you have to wonder, knowing how human they were, if they had thoughts like we do. Here Peter had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. He told Jesus that. But he then he told Him that he’d do it just because Jesus said so. I wonder if Peter had any “initial thoughts” like, “What does He know about fishing? He’s a great teacher and a powerful leader. But He’s a carpenter for crying out loud. Who does He think He is coming in my boat telling me how to do what I’ve been doing my entire life?” You have to wonder! We are so territorial, aren’t we? If we’re good at something, we don’t want anyone telling us how to do it better. We take pride in our work, and when someone totally removed from the field shows up and puts in their two cents worth, we’re awfully tempted to respond with a touch of sarcasm. Even when that someone is Jesus Christ Himself.

fishing-netIf Peter was at all tempted to respond in such a way, there is not a hint to it in the scriptures. Quite the contrary. Peter made a point to let Jesus know he’d already been there done that, but yet simply because it was Jesus that said so, Peter did it. And we know the results. The nets were so full they had to call another boat to help, and both boats were so full they almost sank. And it was then that Jesus called the men to leave their jobs, the trade that they’d mastered years earlier, and to follow Him as disciples. He promised to make them fishers of men. And He did.

Has Jesus called you to do something that has caused you to wonder, “What does He know?” Has He infringed on your comfort zone and you’re so confident in your place in life that you think you know more about what’s best for you than your Creator does? What does He know? He knows exactly how all of this “stuff” will turn out. He knows the plans He has for you, and He knows what’s best for you. Even when you may feel like you already have “the best” without Him interfering. What does He know? He knows you inside out. And He loves you anyway.

He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He always has been, He still is, and He always will be. Why not trust Him with your nets?

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink…Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men’ (Luke 5:4-7; 10).

“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you and hope and future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Thank you to Ronnie, our Associate Pastor, for triggering this thought!

Hope

Who moved my cheese?!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Does change throw you all out of sorts? Do you get completely discombobulated when someone changes things on you, especially if it’s without warning? I just love the book Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It’s about the importance of change and the various reactions to it. I shared my book with Pastor Danny a while back because unfortunately, a local church is the place that “change” can cause the biggest of uproars!

The names of the mice in the book are Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. Sniff looks for change. He just loves to shuffle things up. He thrives on change. Scurry doesn’t necessarily look for change but when change happens, he scurries right along behind and assists where needed. I’m Scurry. Always have been. I never initiate changing the furniture around but when someone suggests it, I’m the first one helping to move the couch. Then there’s Hem and Haw. You can imagine who they are. They gripe and complain and fuss and fume and buck the system from the time the word “change” is mentioned. They cry out in every way, “Who moved my cheese?!”

muggsy-small1

Muggsy Bogues Houchins

I’m going somewhere with this. Hang with me. About four months ago my sweet, dearly beloved husband started complaining that Jax the beagle needs a playmate. My response for several weeks was, “I hardly think so. I caved to one dog, two is pushing it. Not gonna happen. You’re wasting your breath.” And I went on to say that when something happens to Jax in 15 years there won’t be another one! My reaction didn’t slow Clay’s pleading one little bit. After about 3 months of him nagging almost every day (even when he was out of town!), I started asking around to see what others with dogs had to say. Almost everyone I talked to said that two dogs are better than one. “Jax will be more content if he has a playmate. He’ll be less demanding of your time.” So I allowed myself to entertain the idea somewhat. However, I told Clay that if there is to be a dog #2, it will be a little furry one that will let me hold him and will hang out with me. Jax is a wonderful dog and is great company. But he’s a beagle. He wants no part of hugs and petting and lounging. He is fiercely independent just like Caleb. With that, I started googling small dogs that do not shed, do well with other dogs, and have great personalities. The more pictures I looked at, the more I warmed up to the idea of dog #2. To make a long story longer, Sunday afternoon Muggsy Bogues Houchins came to live with us. Muggsy is a malte-tzu, part maltese part shihtzu. He has the maltese facial features and looks like a teddy bear. Absolutely precious! He’s 10 weeks old, weighs 3 lbs and will get up to 8-10 lbs. The name Muggsy didn’t come easy. He was called Snickers, Theo, Hux, Alvin and finally Caleb named him Muggsy. He said that he’s such a little guy he had to either be Spud Webb or Muggsy Bogues (both are basketball players of course, small men who made great contributions to the game.) So Muggsy it is!

Jax pretending Muggsy is not really at his feet...

Jax pretending Muggsy is not really at his feet...

I would’ve thought with Jax’s pleasant demeanor and fun personality he’d be Sniff, or at least Scurry. Not even close! He is the poster child for Hem and Haw. He is the martyr right now. Woe is me. Why in the world would you bring a furball excuse for a dog into MY house to play on MY red rug and chew on MY daddy’s shoes and sit on MY mommy’s lap? He has not yet come around to the need for a companion. He already had Clay as the best playmate ever! Why did we think we needed to bring a fluffy little biting pest into his life?! Why did we move his cheese?? We’ve been assured by Muggsy’s breeder, the vet, and several friends that Jax will come around and when he does, they’ll be best friends. They encouraged us to remind Jax that he’s still our puppy and that he has nothing to fear. Life will be good they tell us. I sure hope so!

How do you do with change? Are you Sniff or Scurry - or are you Hem and Haw? While God calls us to be content, He does not want us to become complacent. Look for opportunities to change it up a little and see what the Lord has in store! Don’t be afraid of change! And if you’re a faithful church member and your pastor or leaders want to change things up in order to move the church forward, get on board! Get out of your box! Don’t cause your pastor grief because of your fears. Accept the Muggsy’s in your life. See them as opportunities to improve and to flourish in the work of the Lord. Don’t find yourself crying “Who moved my cheese?!” Change is not to be feared – because God has not given us the spirit of fear! He wants us to be bold and confident that He will take care of us.

“The common people are paralyzed. Gripped by fear, they can’t move” (Ezekiel 7:19).

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Hope

Flesh it out!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Our church has taken on the acronym slogan, ACTS – A Church That Serves. The Lord used Pastor Danny to challenge my heart Sunday night. Love this verse from The Message…

“Then he (Jesus) said, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life’” (John 13:12 The Message).

serving-othersJesus commands us to put others first, serve others, live a life of self-denial. But how many of us really do that? I’m talking to myself here! Jesus didn’t ask us to do something that He wasn’t willing to do himself. He fleshed out His own commands. The disciples were every-day, “get your hands dirty,” plain ole ordinary kind of guys. Jesus, on the other hand, was King of Kings. He was the only Son of Almighty God. He was Master, Deliverer, Comforter. Yet He dropped to His knees and washed the stinky, dirty, grimy feet of the disciples. Then He commanded them to do likewise. He wasn’t telling the disciples that they had to wash everyone’s feet they came in contact with. He was fleshing out His expectation to put others first, think of what is best for others, what’s in it for someone besides yourself. Have a servant’s heart. He asked the disciples on several occasions if they believed what He was saying. Their answer was always “yes.” In this passage He said, “Then act like it!” He “laid down a pattern,” set the example. If we believe that His Word is true, then we need to flesh it out! This command, just like all His commands, comes with a promise. If we do what He commands, we’ll live a blessed life.

Having a bad day? Feeling like the world is out to get you? Having a “woe is me” meltdown? If you believe God loves you and has a plan and a purpose for your life and that He is in control and that He knows all and sees all, then act like it! Flesh it out by serving others! Get your mind off yourself and meet someone else’s need. If you do, you’ll live a blessed life.

Hope

Broken, so that we don’t have to be…

Monday, April 26th, 2010

We observed communion in church yesterday morning, and I think it was the sweetest communion service I’ve ever participated in. Pastor Danny did a beautiful job painting the picture of our need for the Body and the Blood. Then Marcie Stanford sang one of my favorite Janet Paschal songs, The Body and The Blood. I blubbered through the entire service because all I could think about was how Jesus was willing to be broken so that I don’t have to be! Because of His broken body and shed blood, I can personally and boldly go the throne of an Almighty God, completely broken, and find complete healing! Had Jesus not been willing to sacrifice the body and the blood, we would still be under the law, and there would be annual ritualistic sacrifices. There would never be the peace and assurance of being set free. But Jesus took care of that! As He said to His disciples, He says to us…

bread-wine1“…’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19 & 20).

One of the lines in the song, The Body and the Blood says…

And when you reach the end I offer you again the body and the blood

Are you broken today? You don’t have to be! He was broken, so that we don’t have to be. Amen!

Here’s a link to hear Janet Paschal sing this beautiful song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXzMrfzAaUk

Hope

Unfailing and Everlasting Hope!!!

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Unfailing and Everlasting Hope

 

Father, You awaken me this morning pondering the thought that You have called me, as You have called each of us in the body of Christ, to be “Messengers of Hope!” That is what You desire for us to be, isn’t it Lord? Messengers of Hope who declare the praise and glory of who You are!! Messengers who encourage others that no matter what their circumstance is – how bad or difficult their “news” might be – that there is a hope bigger than anything they face! Hope that is unfailing and everlasting! Hope that has an anchor that cannot be moved! How precious is that!!

 

Father, without the unfailing and everlasting hope we find in Jesus Christ we would be of all men most miserable. But Father, the same hope that was prophesied from the very beginning in Gen. 3:15 – “He (Jesus) will crush your (Satan) head” – to the hope that millions have found and clung to down through the ages – to the hope that is changing lives today even in the midst of earthquakes, volcanoes, unsettling economic times, devastating diagnosis – to the hope that will carry us right to the feet of Jesus – the truth and Hope You offer marches on and stands the test of time!! Bless Your Name!! Great is Your faithfulness!  

 

Oh Father, I do not know of a time when we have ever been more desperate for hope – something to hold onto when our worlds come crashing in! You are moving Your body, Lord, You are moving Your body!  You are calling us to pray, You are breaking us, You are making us desperate and dependent upon You, You are allowing us to be in places where our only hope must be “supernatural” – bigger than anything this world can offer.

 

Lord, this morning and this weekend all over the world, the message of Your hope will be shared and spoken with those in need! Speak loudly Lord! We desperately need to hear from You!  Allow us to share and speak Your hope boldly and clearly so that no one is mistaken about where our hope comes from!

 

I pray for the precious body of Christ in Kings Mountain this morning as we gather to hear a word from You. Lord – speak to that one who has recently been “diagnosed,” to the one whose “papers” have just been signed, to the one who child is rebellious, to the one who has recently lost their job, to the one who is “burned out” and weary – minister truth and life and peace and grace for the glory of Your Name, Jesus – for the glory of Your Name!  Reveal Yourself as the Redeemer, the Restorer, the One who makes all things new, the Lover of our souls, our satisfier, our peace, our purpose, the One who gives life and breath, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!

 

We look to You, we anticipate You, we long for You – in all Your fullness – in the name of Jesus we ask and pray, with thanksgiving, Amen!!

 

 ”we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure!” Hebrews 6:18b-19a

Between the Thees, the Thous and the Verilies

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

bible31What a sweet celebration service at my church this morning for a dear saint, Carolyn Coggins. Pastor Danny read a poem about a life well lived. I don’t remember a lot about the poem, though I thought it was beautiful. But one line that stuck with me was that Mrs. Carolyn lived out the pages of the scriptures. She was able to read between the thees, the thous and the verilies, and she got it.

When I die, whether it be tomorrow, next week, next year, or based on the statistics of the women in my family that have “gone before me,” whether I’m close to 100 (sorry, Clay!), I pray that whomever offers my eulogy will be able to say the same about me. Hope was able to maneuver around the thees, the thous and the verilies, and she got it! She fleshed out God’s Word! She wasn’t perfect, and she got it wrong more than she got it right, but she was diligent in her pursuit of God and His Word!

I pray that for you. Don’t get hung up on the thees, the thous and the verilies. Live out the Word in your every day life. What a beautiful testimony you’ll leave behind!

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:16).

“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word” (Psalm 119:74).

Hope

I wanna know how it feels…

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The first time my immediately family tasted death was when Daddy died February 25, 1998. We did not know what true grief was. We had all lost friends in automobile accidents or death from an illness, had lost our elderly grandparents, those type deaths. But death had never hit so close to home until Daddy. My sister, Leigh, the baby of the five of us, called me after Dad had been in heaven for about a week and she said with MUCH passion, “I wanna know where Daddy is and what he’s doing! If I’m supposed to believe that God knows best and this was His plan for Daddy and for us, I have to know where he is and what he’s doing! Now find out and call me back!” I told her I’d give Billy Graham a call and get back to her.

I went to the only source that I knew could provide an answer, God’s Holy Word. Google wasn’t around in 1998 so I had to do things the old fashioned way, I looked up “death” and “heaven” in the concordance in the back of my Bible. I read every scripture that was referenced. The answer I came up with that offered the most comfort was short and simple, “To be absent from the body is to be present with Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). I called Leigh and told her ”I have no idea what Daddy is doing. But I do know where he is. He’s in the presence of the Lord. What that means I have no idea exactly. Maybe he’s fishing in the river of life, or hanging out on the throne, or simply resting in God’s presence. I don’t know! But what I do know is he’s with the Lord – so whatever he’s doing is good! He’s hanging out with his Creator!”

From that point on I had a longing for heaven that I’d never had before. I was longing to see Daddy, of course, but more than that. I was longing to know exactly what heaven was all about. A year after Dad died, one of his close friends passed away. I remember walking out the front door of Bill’s house the evening before he passed, knowing in my heart that I would not see him again on this earth, and I found myself being jealous of Bill. I turned back, opened the storm door and said, “Bill, tell Daddy hello, okay?” And I will always remember the longing for heaven almost hurting as I walked across the front yard to my car.

Of course 8 1/2 years later that longing was rekindled when Hannah, too, went to hang out with her Creator. This week I was looking for a CD and I came across the soundtrack to “I Wanna Know How It Feels.” I haven’t heard it in a few years, but immediately I remembered how much I love that song. I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days and it has rekindled that longing. Here are a few of the words…

entrance-to-heavenI wanna know how it feels to make my way down the streets of gold

I wanna know how it feels to have a talk with the saints of old

I wanna know what it’s like to rest my feet by the river of life

I’ve heard of heaven and I know that it’s real

I wanna know how it feels

I know heaven is real. I believe in life after death – 100%! But I have no idea what heaven feels like. I wanna know! How about you? A friend posted on Facebook last week, “Why does life have to be so complicated?” and I immediately posted the response, “So we’ll long for heaven!” I wanna know how it feels!

“…you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you. But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety” (Deuteronomy 12:9 & 10).

Hope

Steppingstones Into Future Blessings!

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

A Garden of Fountains – Come Away My Beloved

 

“The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

 

“Behold, My hand is upon you to bless you and to accomplish all My good purpose. For this hour I have prepared your heart, and in My kindness I will not let you fail.

 

Only relinquish all things into My hands; for I can work freely only as you release Me by complete committal – both of yourself and others. As was written of old: “Commit our way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5 I will be your sustaining strength; and My peace shall garrison your mind. Only TRUST Me – all I do is done in love.

 

Adversities are a necessity. They are part of the pattern of life’s pilgrimage for every individual; and who can escape them? But I say to you, that for those who walk in Me, and for those who are encircled by the intercessory prayers of My children, I will make of the suffering, yes, I will make of the trials a steppingstone to future blessing (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

 

My arms are around you, and never have I love you more! I will make you like a garden of fountains whose streams are fed by the mountain springs.”

 

What a beautiful word for my heart this morning, Lord! Thank You! With all that is within me, I believe You are the God who makes our trials and suffering steppingstones into future blessings! That is what You did at Calvary, isn’t it, Lord? That is what You did at Calvary!  Wow, the blessings that have come as a result of Calvary!  Oh Jesus, allow us to look at our trials as steppingstones – watching and waiting expectantly at what You will bring forth from our brokenness!

 

I am watching Lord and I am waiting with expectation! Train my heart to seek You in this way – to continue to look into Your face until I see just a glimpse of the tapestry You are weaving . . . In the name of Jesus, I pray, with thanksgiving and anticipation, Amen!!

Stay focused…

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I took my mother for an MRI this morning and as I was leaving the medical center, one of the desk attendants said, “Are you letting Jesus use your boat today?” I whirled around and said, “Ma’am?” She repeated it with a huge smile on her face. I’d never seen this lady before in my life. It took me a minute to get my thoughts in line and realize that she was referring to my devotional on Monday. I guess she could see the confusion on my face and she said, “I read your devotionals every single day.” That blessed my bones – and my heart! I said, “No way! Are you serious?” Again I had never seen her before and when I glanced at her name tag, had never heard of her! Because I didn’t get her permission, I won’t name her name but she encouraged me so much! Then she made a request for a devotional. I have to say that is a first. I’ve never had anyone ask for a particular topic. But here it is, new friend!

peopleOften we get up in the mornings fired up and ready to face the day, armed for the challenge! Bring it on, Satan! I’m ready! But not far into the day, we take our eyes off the goal, off the purpose, and put it on people. We allow those we have to deal with day in and day out to cloud our vision. It’s easy to get off course if we lose focus and look at our circumstances. Especially when our circumstances are packed with “people”! “People” can muddy the clearest of water! My advice to you, my new friend, and everyone else who is reading, is to stay focused. Don’t allow individuals to rob your joy. Treat every encounter as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Whoever is causing you grief is Jesus presenting you with an opportunity to love them like He does. I just spent the morning allowing the Lord to put my Mom in my boat! I love her dearly but I so desperately want her to see that she has so much to be thankful for with her health. We sat in the waiting room with a mother of a 42 year old daughter who has advanced MS, and a 46 year old lady who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. And we’re there trying to get relief from a pulled muscle! But Jesus wanted to use my boat today. Personally, my boat was not planning to sail that way. I had other plans. And while I could’ve come up with all kinds of legitimate excuses as to why one of my three sisters could do their daughterly duty, I felt compelled to put Mom in my boat. And we had a good morning together. Sometimes the Lord jars me into reality with the fact that if I can’t meet my own family’s needs when in life crisis, I won’t be very effective with others. Lord love Faye Ann!

Stay focused, friends. Keep your eyes on the prize, your train is moving in the right direction when you do not allow others to be in charge of the controls. And remember, if the Lord asks to use your boat, let Him do it. Stay focused!

“The LORD is on my side, and I am not afraid of what others can do to me. With the LORD on my side, I will defeat all of my hateful enemies. It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else” (Psalm 118:6-8 CEV).

Hope

For such a time as this…

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I am serving on the National Day of Prayer committee and the theme for this year is For Such a Time as This. With that on my heart I’ve found myself singing the song by Lord Song, Such A Time As This a lot lately. We (our quartet) sing this song when we go to churches and share Hannah’s story. Here are some of the words…

rain-in-a-desertWhy did I walk through the valley

Why was I forced to my knees

Why did the sun parch and dry me

When I walked through the desert of defeat

Then came the clouds and the rain fell

I thought I’d never make it through the night

Then God gave me the answer when I prayed with you

He let me see the dark to hold the light

Then it goes on to say that because of what I’ve been through I can now pray with a brother or sister who is going through a hard time. Why? Because I know just what they’re going through. God prepared me for such a time as this.

I received a call from my good friend and former supervisor, Marty this morning. Her brother-in-law who has been fighting cancer but is presently cancer free received the news yesterday that his two year old granddaughter has a brain tumor. Marty’s husband, Jim is the one that you helped me pray for a couple of years. Jim passed away with cancer in August 2008. Marty has another brother-in-law that is currently battling a brain tumor. So within two years Marty’s husband and two of her sisters’ husbands have been diagnosed with cancer. And now a two year old child. Marty was very emotional this morning as you can imagine but her words were, “I know God allowed me to go through all I did with Jim so that I could be here for my family. But I don’t feel very strong right now!” I said to her, “God prepared you for such a time as this. He packed your bag when He formed you with the strength and personality to minister to your family. With all that said, it’s okay to cry!”

Although we know these words of encouragement are true, sometimes “I ain’t feeling it!” Sometimes we want to say, “Are you sure you have the right person, Lord? Why do you trust me with so much heartache?” But He always comes through. His grace and His love and His strength are sufficient for each mile of our journey.

If you are faced with a trial that God prepared you for, yet you’re discouraged and wanting to bail out, hold on to the truth of God’s word. He prepared you for such a time as this, and He equipped you for the battle. And He understands that we grow weary. Just look to Him to renew your strength for the journey. He has never and will never let you down.

“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” (2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4).

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life” (Psalm 119:50).

Hope