Archive for January, 2011

How Great Thou Art…

Monday, January 31st, 2011

We had a wonderful weekend in Labelle, FL getting to know more of the Body of Christ – individuals with whom we will spend eternity with in heaven! They told Hannah’s story through the Judgement House drama with such passion and love and heart for the story. And for Hannah’s family to be there, in the words of one of the Aunt Hope characters, “Brought it home.” They were able to make the connection and see that this incredible story of hope in Christ is not fabricated. God wrote it, not us.

We ended the weekend by going back into the Heaven scene which was set up in the sanctuary. Deb sat down at the piano and began playing How Great Thou Art. It was beautiful! The entire cast and crew gathered in “Heaven” and Deb shared with them about the day that Dr. Corso asked them to talk to Hannah about what she wanted her Celebration of Life Service to look like. Hannah’s answer was that she wanted a lot of praise and worship music, naming first How Great is our God and How Great Thou Art. Deb shared with our new Labelle church family that Hannah wanted to be sure everyone at the service understood that she served a great and mighty God, even when He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to. Then Deb said to the group, “Guys, we serve a great big God! Oh how great He is!” and she sat down at the piano and everyone began singing…

O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds thy hands have made

I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee

How great thou art, How great thou art

Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee

How great thou art, How great thou art!

I’m not sure there was a dry eye in Heaven. I pray that you hear the truth of this message. We serve a great big mighty God, and He is awesome in this place – even when He makes decisions contrary to what we want or think we need. One of the cast said to me last night, “I know you all miss Hannah so much. But if the Lord had chose to heal her of this horrible cancer, she would be at Clemson and Labelle Florida would have no idea who she is. Look at the lives that would not have been changed for the Kingdom.” There were over 25 salvations in those three nights of performances. Oh yes, How great is our God! Sing with me How Great is our God! And all will see how great – how great is our God!

“the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God” (Deuteronomy 7:21).

Hope

Travel light…

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I’m reading Max Lucado’s book, Traveling Light for Mothers. I love his writings! I’m yet to read anything by him that I do not like. I was laughing so hard in the first couple of chapters of this book that I practically read every word to Clay. I tried to tell him what I was laughing about and decided I’d just read him what I was laughing about. He appreciates great humor.

So today I’m packing for a trip to Labelle, FL where First Baptist Church Labelle will be telling Hannah’s story through the Judgement House drama tomorrow night, Saturday night and Sunday evening. Deb and Di Easler are going with me. I’ve been rushing around the past 30 minutes trying to pull things together to take with me and I caught myself doing exactly what Max Lucado accuses us women of doing – packing a whole bunch of “just in case” stuff. He admits that he’s as bad as any woman when it comes to that. He says he always takes a pack of wieners on every trip. After all, you never know when you’ll find yourself at a barbeque and you don’t want to be caught empty handed. He’s exaggerating his point, but I have spent a good bit of time “unpacking” too! I’ve always WAY over-packed, but this trip I’m gonna travel light.

I'm working on downsizing...I'm only going away for 3 nights!

I'm working on downsizing...I'm only going away for 3 nights!

And the spiritual application is that we leave home every day with too much stuff “just in case.” How many of our worries, our fears, our anxieties ever actually come to be? I remember hearing a pastor share a story about a woman who had a fear of falling down steps. She stayed clear of steps for years and years and years for fear she would fall all the way down them. One day she was at the back of the church looking down a steep set of steps that led to the Sunday School department and she laid down and rolled all the way down the steps. When she landed on the bottom she got up and said, “Whew! I finally got that out of the way, now I don’t have to worry about it anymore!” We travel way too heavy. If we had to pay financially for our emotional overload, we’d never get paid up. Anything over 50 lbs with most airlines costs you a good bit of money. They are basically making you pay for taking a bunch of stuff you really don’t need. It’s a good thing Jesus doesn’t charge us!

What did you leave home with this morning that you didn’t need? Any unnecessary worries? Any cares of life that really don’t belong to you? Any excess anxieties that you can do absolutely nothing about? Here’s a verse for you.

“Unload all your worries on Him, since He’s looking after you” (1 Peter 5:7 JB).

Soak it in, practice it and travel light!

I will try to post a devotional tomorrow, but I will leave home around 6:50 a.m. and I’m not sure when I’ll get somewhere that I can log on. Keep checking on me though. I’ll do what I can! Pray for each presentation that takes place this weekend that hearts and lives will be changed for the Kingdom, all for the glory of God!

Hope

All I need is a little devotion…

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Our church is well into the Upward basketball season at church, as many are, and they are asking for individuals to volunteer to do short devotions on Saturday mornings. “All we need is a little devotion.”

I thought this afternoon that God is asking the same from us. All He wants is a little devotion. Devotion: Selfless affection and dedication to a person or principle. Selfless affection and dedication to Him and to His work. He’s really not asking for much. I think the hardest part for us is the “selfless” part. Self gets in the way more often than we want to admit. I know I fight being selfish every day. But when I weigh out what’s important and what’s not and take myself out of the equation, I find it easier to stand firm and stay true.

God is saying to you today, “All I need is a little devotion.” Prayerfully you and I can say to Him what Hezekiah said in Isaiah…

“Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes” (Isaiah 38:3).

And you’re probably saying when you read my daily loooonnnnggg ramblings, “All I want is a little devotion.”

Hope

Don’t stray from the Power Supply…

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I left my power cord to my laptop at a friend’s house last night. I had to climb behind their couch to plug it in and when I unplugged the cord from the laptop I dropped it to my side with the intention of climbing back there and unplugging it before I left. I forgot. So today I am depending on the battery – which is not going to last much longer. I’m typing fast because very soon I’m going to lose power. I’m already getting the ”Warning! Your battery is low!” I wish I could plug it up quickly and keep going, but I’ve strayed from my source of power. It was not intentional. I did it without realizing it. I got sidetracked with other things and didn’t keep my focus on the power source.

Sometimes I wish I could slap the devil up side the head. Clay and I were talking to a friend last night that is very grounded in his faith. But Satan is throwing some powerful darts of discouragement at him. And you know, if we allow our eyes to wander from our Target and zoom in on our circumstances, or even worse, on the people involved in our circumstances, it won’t take long and we’ll be ready to bail out. It is imperative that we recognize the darts and from whence those darts come from (the mean ole devil!) quickly, or our peace supply will run low. Jesus is our Source for peace and if we don’t stay plugged in to the Source, keeping our eyes on Him and off our circumstances, it won’t be long until our “stored peace”, our battery pack will be used up. Get plugged back in quickly or you’ll shut down! And it won’t be intentional. You’ll get sidetracked and innocently stray from the Source. Recognize the signs, heed the warnings, and return to the Power Supply of peace quickly.

Jesus Christ gives us perfect peace, but we must keep our thoughts on Him.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV).

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

I did NOT want to run errands in the cold rain! I’m still not back to 100% from the strep virus and would much rather work away right here at my computer. But low power prevents that so I guess I’ll make good use of my time and take off. Until tomorrow…

Hope

In His Grip…

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I have started this devotional four times today. Four times! And I kept going back to square one. I had three ideas I wanted to pursue and nothing would come to me. I’ve been emailing back and forth all afternoon with the youth minister of First Baptist Church in Labelle, FL. They are doing Hannah’s story through Judgement House this weekend, and Deb, Di Easler and I are flying down on Friday. I can’t wait to meet this guy. He reminds me so much of Matt, our youth minister. Anyway, I just clicked back to my email to respond to him AGAIN, bless him, and for the first time his signature caught my eye.

gods-handsIn His Grip,

Preston

That warmed my soul! I’m so glad I’m not barely hanging on by God’s pinky finger, or dangling on His fingertips. I am In His Grip! The Hands that formed the earth, the Hands that hung the sun, moon and stars, the Hands that filled the ocean blue, the Hands that molded man in His own image – those same mighty, powerful Hands are gripping me with all His might. I’m not going anywhere! The storms of life will NOT overtake me. I’m In His Grip! Winds of doubt and fear and uncertainty will NOT blow me over. I’m In His Grip! The sting of death will NOT be victorious. I’m In His Grip!

I can’t wait to call a friend whom I’ve been counseling with. Unless God works a huge miracle in her life and in the heart of her husband, her marriage is in serious trouble. I can’t wait to remind her again Who’s she is! She is In His Grip. The threat of divorce will NOT bury her in despair. She is In His Grip!

Guys we can choose to loll in misery if we want to – but we need to get a grip. We’re In His Grip!

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” John 10:28).

“My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).

Love it in The Message…“Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me” (Psalm 31:15 The Msg).

Hope

The Answer…

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Last Friday as I was driving Caleb from the beach house to Coastal to purchase his books he had a Josh Turner CD playing. The song, “The Answer” came on and Caleb chuckled. He said, “I like how Josh recorded all those country songs and all of a sudden he threw Jesus right in the middle. Caught everybody off guard!” I said, “At least Josh knows where Jesus belongs, right in the middle of everything.” I did my best to remain quiet through the song but my devotional wheels were turning round and round!

Jesus is the answer. The answer to what? The answer to everything. Let me encourage you as you go about your daily activities to throw Jesus right in the middle. Catch everybody off guard. Don’t leave Him out of your schedule. Allow Him to be the center of your agenda. You’ll find your day will go much smoother. And when you get stumped by life’s hard questions, remember that Jesus is the answer. As Josh Turner says in his song…

You’ve got questions?

You need directions?

Look no further cause there’s no other

He’s an Anchor…Jesus is the Answer.

“After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him…I say these things, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them…Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:1, 2, 13, 17 & 18).

This world is full of questions and doubts and fears and worries. We, as Christians, have the Answer. Give it to them! As Anne Graham Lotz says, “Just give me Jesus!”

I apologize for not posting yesterday. I got very sick Wednesday evening and ended up with a fever all night well into the day yesterday, nausea, headache, chills, all that good stuff. Today I’m back in an upright position and can look at the computer screen without getting waves of nausea and a pounding headache. I started on an antibiotic and lots of Vitamin C yesterday so hopefully the worst is behind me. Have a great weekend!

Hope

The unforced rhythms of grace…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

I came across The Message paraphrase of one of my favorite scriptures in Matthew…and you’re gonna love it as much as I do!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Msg).

The best phrase in there for me is Jesus inviting us to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Dispensing grace to His children is not a hardship for the Lord. He doesn’t struggle with whom to give it and from whom to withhold it. Grace for Him comes with a rhythm, and that rhythm is unforced. I can’t help but see myself trying to dance. I have ZERO rhythm! Even just to cut up around the house when a song puts a skip in my step is not a pretty sight. I could hurt myself without much effort. The best news ever was when I realized that Clay has no more rhythm than I do. I didn’t have to worry about him wanting to lead me to the dance floor while on our honeymoon and me embarrassing him. He and I both recognize that we need to be spectators. I envy those with rhythm, my son being one of them. He has incredible rhythm and always has. When Caleb was about 8 years old he did a Michael Jackson dance for me and I was amazed! Where did this child come from? was my initial response. I have to say his dad is where he gets that talent. Caleb can move with the best of them and his rhythm is as natural as breathing. Unforced.

God’s grace to us comes as easy and natural as breathing. So don’t question how gracious He is to you. Just accept it, learn from it, and dispense it with the same unforced rhythm to others.

Hope

Go to the Source!

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

I came across this scripture last night and thought it was a perfect follow up to yesterday’s devo…

“Stay with me a little longer. I’ll convince you. There’s still more to be said on God’s side. I learned all this firsthand from the Source” (Job 36:1-3).

Not that any of us have ever been guilty of spreading rumors, but when I read this passage the first thing that popped in my head was, “Rumor has it…” If you don’t know something for a fact, don’t repeat it! I used to be guilty of entertaining conversations that were rumors on other people. Then when I went through my divorce and became the object of the gossip, I realized how hurtful it can be to believe something about someone when you don’t know all the facts. I’ve tried to teach that to Caleb as well. If you don’t know the facts, don’t discuss it.

If you are a Christian, your knowledge of Christ is not a rumor. You have been to the Source and you can testify to the truth of His Word. Concerning Jesus, you can know all the facts. If you hear a rumor about Jesus or God or Christianity, find out from the person if they know this first hand. Do they have a personal relationship with Jesus or are they spreading rumors? We all have the right to go straight to the Source through salvation! Once you know first hand about the One Who created you and loves you unconditionally and has a plan and purpose for your life, share the good news! And do it confidently because you have been to the Source.

Hope

Get as close to the Source as you can!

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Last week when I was working from my friend, Melissa’s beach house, I called her to find out which wireless network I should tap into. She told me there was an unsecured one in the area for all to use, but in order to get a connection you had to sit as close to the exterior wall as possible. We had a good laugh with that, and when I hung up I moved my work station to the corner of the bar and sat as close to the wall as I could get without hitting my elbow. The closer I got to the wall, the stronger the signal strength. If I slid across the bar for any reason, the signal would be very low and everything I tried to do was slowed to a creepy crawl. So I simply glued myself to the stool up against the wall and I was good to go! That worked well until all the couples got there for our weekend getaway – then we found ourselves having to share the signal. It was a great joke all weekend. At one point Melissa said she hoped there was nothing illegal about what we were doing. I assured her that if the “source” had a problem with it they would have secured their network.

wireless-signalIt occurred to me during that little daily exercise that we should have the same principal with our connection to the Lord. In order to have strong coverage, we have got to live as close to the Source of our strength as possible. When we stray away, the signal is weakened and our productivity and influence for Christ slows to a crawl. And if we don’t return to the Source, we will lose connection all together. The good thing about our Source of Strength – there’s plenty of room for all of us to tap in! And though we are secure with our connection to Christ, we don’t need a password. All we need is a personal relationship with Him! From there the only requirement is to stay as close to Him as we can. The closer we are, the stronger the signal. And with a strong signal – a strong connection – our opportunities are limitless!

“We take our lead from Christ, who is the Source of everything we do” (Ephesians 4:14 The Msg).

“…indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:23 NASB)

“You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one” (Colossians 1:22 & 23 The Msg).

Thank you so much for your prayers for Caleb. He is feeling much better, though he continues to have a sore throat. His appetite is back and when I talked to him earlier today he said he was “feeling good.” It was difficult to leave him behind, but it would have been difficult whether he had been sick or a picture of health. Leaving Caleb four hours away is like leaving a part of my heart. But I know I have so much to be thankful for. Someone reminded me on Facebook last night that I need to be thankful he’s not in Afghanistan. That’ll snap you out of your stuper! There’s always a silver lining to every cloud!

Hope

I Have Tasted Your Goodness!

Monday, January 17th, 2011

“Oh Jesus, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.” A.W. Tozer

 

Oh Jesus, this is my heart’s cry – my heart’s cry!  I have tasted Your goodness and it has satisfied me as nothing else in this world. There is none like You, Lord! There is none like You! Oh Jesus, I am very aware of my desperate need for Your mercy and grace over my life and in this new year I want to want You more! Take this thirst in my heart and life and make me even more thirsty for Yourself. Show me Your glory, Lord, so that I may know You as never before! Oh Jesus, help me understand this year the reality and depth of Your love for me and allow that reality to free my heart and life in ways it has never been free before! Call me out for Your purposes and raise me up to answer Your call!

 

What a blessing to be back with my d-girls last night. Oh Father, I love pouring out – I need to pour out – I must pour out!!  I must speak from the overflow of my heart so that the waters of heart may flow freely. My joy is most complete in You when I am pouring out – more than at any other time! Oh Jesus, give my girls a hunger and thirst for You. Give my sons and husband a hunger and thirst for You! Thank You for glimpses of the ways I see You at work in their lives. That blesses and strengthens my heart! Thank You for pursuing them as You pursue me! Find me more faithful in this new year than You found me in the last.

 

Open doors of opportunity for me to declare Your praise! I am so very aware of my daily desperate need for You and for Your word! I am so aware that I must remain in You – abide in You or I will quickly find myself focused inward – which is such a dangerous place for me to be. I want more of You – I want more of Your word – I want more of Your word to take up residence in my heart and mind through memorization and meditation. I must have my mind renewed all the time on Your truth – I must be chewing on Your truth – saturating my mind with truth!

 

Your word says, “It is better to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35  “This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” (G.B.Shaw) Use me up for Your purposes in this new year and keep my focus on You ! 

 

 You are teaching me so many things – faster than I can absorb them – I want to learn them – I want to hold them and treasure them – I want to incorporate them into the fabric of my very being. Help me as I recount some of the things You have challenged my heart with even the last few days.

 

Relationship with You isn’t difficult when we do it Your way and not in our strength and effort. You just want me to come to You – “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8 You just want me to turn my face to You! You say to me, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20  Oh Jesus, how can it be? That Creator God of the universe came near to love me! You want the truth and reality of Your love to set my heart free! You give me glimpses of Your love through my love for my children – what joy and delight when they let down their guard and just open their hearts and lives to me!

 

F. Chan says, “The fact is, I need God to help me love God! And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans. Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.” “As we train ourselves to run toward our Refuge, toward Love, we are free – just as we are called to be. As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him. It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment.” Oh Jesus, keep me running to You – running to You – time and again this new year!