Archive for February, 2011

We are a valuable asset…

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Urrgghh! I’m suffering from a severe case of technological frustration! While traveling back from Nashville on Friday I attempted to post a devotional from my new Droid, which replaced my Blackberry that died a death of natural causes. I sure got a lot of wear and tear out of it but I wasn’t ready to give it up! I could not get the devo to post and had no idea what I was doing wrong. I still don’t know. And I apologize for no devotional on Friday.

Thursday night while we were working at the Carpenters a severe thunderstorm hit. The winds were very high, the lightning was popping and hopping all around the house, the rain was coming down in horizontal sheets, and we lost power for a few hours. We worked by lantern and candle light. There was an actor/producer there (I’ll change his name to Butch to protect the innocent). The wind took the basketball goal down and it landed on Butch’s car, going through his sunroof, unbeknown to us as we worked away. You can imagine how wet the inside of his car was. The Carpenters felt horrible about it and I said to them, “It’s just a car. That’s what insurance is for.” But when Devon said “Of all the vehicles parked around the goal it had to hit a Jaguar!” I responded, “Oh! I didn’t know it’s a Jag!!” Ken said to me in jest, “It’s just a car, remember? Does God see that car any differently than one of ours?” We had a good laugh and I assured the kiddos I’d use this in my devo.

I wasn’t surprised when I opened my Bible Friday morning to Isaiah 43 in The Message and read this…

“I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you…That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you” (Isaiah 43:3 & 4 The Msg).

The perfect Word from the Lord to remind me that I am very important to God, and so are you. He is no respector of persons. In God’s sight I’m a Jaguar, even if in reality I’m only a Mazda CX-7. The most famous or richest or intelligent individuals mean no more to the Lord than the poorest, unknown, uneducated person. He loves us all with an everlasting love. He paid a HUGE price for us – the blood of His only Son. That makes us a valuable asset. We mean the world to Him. All He wants in return is a personal relationship with us.

I pray this encourages your heart as it has mine. God loves you. You are not a little nobody. You are a special Somebody – a Jaguar of sorts.

Hope

I’m running to the Mercy Seat…

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Di Easler and I are on our way to Nashville for a production meeting and we have Travis Cottrell cranked up! We’ve gotten stuck on the song, Mercy Seat because it is a daily trip for me. I don’t just meander that way from time to time – I run down that road wide open every day! If it were not for God’s Mercy Seat, I would be in a mess. Mercy – God withholding from me what I deserve. If I got what I deserve, punishment would abound. But because His mercies are new every morning, I rush to His Seat to receive what I don’t deserve. God is gracious with His mercy, He hands it out in abundance.

Are you weighed down with guilt, or the helpless fear of getting what you deserve? Take off running to the Mercy Seat. He says you can come into His presence without fear where His mercy hovers. That sounds like where I want to hang out!

“Treat me with mercy according to your great and steadfast love” (Nehemiah 13:22).

Hope

Don’t just scratch the surface…

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The Lord has really been challenging me about not being a surface Christian. I don’t mean that I’m only a Christian on the surface but not really in my heart. I mean that I’m only scratching the surface of Who God is and what He wants to do in my heart and life. It is in the depth of our being where we will find peace. Peace is not hanging out on the surface. Quite the contrary. Our circumstances are shallow, they rest on the surface. So if our Christian walk is only surface then we never get beyond our circumstances. We never get over them. We allow them to control our very being and they rob us of our joy. But if we will go deep – past the circumstances and beyond our current situation, we will get to know Jesus, the very One Who speaks peace to our hearts.

February 20th’s Jesus Calling talks about Jesus residing in the deepest part of our heart. He invites us to delve in and find out Who He really is and what He can do for us. I get the mental picture of diving into a deep swimming pool. We can either dive horizontally and barely skim the surface or we can go vertically head first and dive to the deepest part of the pool. That’s what Jesus wants us to do in our relationship with Him. Get in His word and dive head first with the desire and determination to find out all we can about Who He is. It is there we find peace.

Can we get into heaven if we’re only scratching the surface of our Christianity? Absolutely. We can accept Jesus as our Savior but never really get to know Him as Lord. But we will miss out on so many blessings in this life, and will live a defeated Christian walk dwelling on our circumstances. Don’t just scratch the surface.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Hope

Unredeemed…

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Oh how I needed to hear, “Unredeemed” by Selah this morning! I hope I don’t share too many lyrics of songs in my devotions, but this song has one of the most incredible messages of grace I’ve ever heard. While studying the life of King David, this song is so appropriate. And just when Satan is at his fiercest in throwing darts of reminders of my failures, I’m reminded that it has all been redeemed! I have to share all the lyrics of this song. Please take your time and read them, letting them soak in to your heart.

The cruelest world The coldest heart
The deepest wound The endless dark
The lonely ache The burning tears
The bitter nights The wasted years
Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
 

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
 

It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame

And all the love the never came

For every vow that someone broke

And every lie that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall

But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store

Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Guys, if you are struggling with poor decisions, past mistakes – or present ones!, guilt that threatens to choke you, shame that has you defeated, please lay it before the Lord. Jesus Christ has redeemed it through His blood on the cross. All of the undesirable places you’ve gone, the wrong turns you’ve made, the broad roads of compromise you may have traveled, those are all places where grace is. These circumstances in your life may be unfulfilled or unrestored, but they are not unredeemed when laid before the Lord. What a message.

Listen to the song, you’ll love it… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfGbcjCVDOs

“Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself” (Galatians 3:13).

“Looking for the blessed hope…of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed” (Titus 2:13 & 14).

Hope

Sometimes nothing works but tears…

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I have been so burdened today for a family here in Spartanburg, Jimmie and Becky Dunbar. Their son, Mac, a freshman at USC was hit by a drunk driver while crossing a street in downtown Columbia late Saturday night and is in critical condition. All of Mac’s extremities are broken, his abdominal area is a mess, and right now he’s in surgery to repair his liver. The 23-year-old young lady who hit him did not stop so she’s now being charged with DUI, hit-and-run with great bodily injury, and leaving the scene of an accident. She is now suffering the consequences of poor decisions, and those decisions have changed her life forever. While Mac can miraculously recover, his life too has been changed forever. His recovery will be a long drawn out process.

All I’ve been able to say to God over and over today is, “Except for grace, that could be my son in the hospital bed or in the jail cell.” None of us are above it happening, none of our children are above making poor decisions. God’s keeping grace is as amazing as His saving grace, and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. My heart breaks for that young lady sitting in a jail cell awaiting a hearing. My heart breaks for her parents, assuming she has parents. I know nothing about her, but I have prayed many times today that God would protect her mind and heart from the guilt and “If only”s that will haunt her the rest of her life. And for Mac, I pray for God to preserve his life and heal his body quickly. And for Jimmie and Becky, I pray for a peace and strength that can only come from Christ. If you know the Dunbars, you know they lost a two-year-old son in a drowning accident about 13 years ago. Only God’s grace can sustain and protect their hearts and minds.

Sometimes nothing works but tears. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good cry. I have one of those headaches that I know will not go away until I get somewhere by myself and cry all of this out. Psalm 142 is a picture of David doing just that. He is on the run for his life and is being mistreated, misjudged and falsely accused. His life has been turned upside down by the king of Israel. David is in a hard place. And in this Psalm he agrees that sometimes nothing else works but to cry.

Maybe you are in a hard place today. It’s okay to cry. Just be sure you follow David’s example and cry to the One Who can do something about your circumstances. Go ahead, you have my permission to have a good cry. Sometimes nothing works but tears.

“I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way…I cry to you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need” (Psalm 142:1-3, 5&6).

Hope

Try this – Not that!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Saw a tweet from Healthy Living with a link to No Guilt Desserts. I clicked on the link and there was a list of Try This – Not That!’s. I think we should do the same with No Guilt Christianity…

Try This-Glass half full, Not That! Glass half empty. Try This-Prayer, Not That! Worry. Try This-Encourage someone, Not That! Point out their faults. Try This-Pure thoughts, Not That! Questionable entertainment. Try This-Smile, Not That! Woe-is-me. Try This-Read the Bible, Not That! Worry and fret. Try This-Sing praises when things go wrong, Not That! Whine and complain. Try This-Invite someone to church, Not That! Lay out yourself. (Sorry, had to throw in an Ouch!)

Feel free to post a few of your own in the Comments. I’d love to hear them! The Bible has a long list of Try This – Not That!’s. His Word offers alternatives to any temptation we face. We just need to get in there and find them, then practice them.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Pray for Deb this weekend as she is down at the coast in Marion, SC where Marion First Baptist Church telling Hannah’s story through Judgement House. It’s really beautiful weather down there. I just talked to Caleb and he said he’d been wearing shorts, tee shirt and flip flops all week. I fear he may realize why Coastal Carolina is not a bad college of choice! We are in for great weather here in the Upstate too. Can’t wait to enjoy it. Have a great weekend.

Hope

Jesus is enough…

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I am enjoying our study on Wednesday evening with the ladies. Beth Moore’s David – 90 Days with a Heart Like His. Last night we talked about when David had to flee for his life from king Saul – who also happened to be his pa-in-law. David ran for dear life straight to the city of Nob, which means “city of priests.” David knew he needed encouragement, protection, prayer, support, and he knew he could only get that from fellow followers of the Living God. He ran to Nob and cried out to Ahimilech the priest. He was very hungry and asked for bread. But Ahimilech didn’t have any ordinary bread. All he had to offer David was consecrated bread. What a beautiful picture! Consecrated bread is a symbol of God’s covenant – a covenant to protect and sustain. All Ahimilech had to offer David was the promise that God would protect him from the evil Saul, and would sustain him through the battle. All he had to offer David was God. God is enough.

God fulfilled His covenant to us by sending His only Son to die for us once and for all. Jesus rose from the dead and is our Bread of Life – He is our consecrated bread. Where do you run and from whom do you seek advice when you’re in a panic? When your life turns upside down, where do you flee to? Do you seek godly counsel, call a good solid Christian friend, run to your Pastor or Sunday School teacher or Christian mentor? I pray you do. Only those who share your Christian faith can give you the godly wisdom and advice that you need when your heart is in a panic. And there will be times that all your godly counsel will have to offer you is Jesus. To steal a quote from my friend and trusted prayer partner, Di – Jesus ain’t no ordinary bread. No, friends. You’ll find that when Jesus is all you have, Jesus is enough!

“The priest told him, ‘There is no ordinary bread on hand. However, there is consecrated bread.’” (1 Samuel 21:4).

“Jesus answered…’Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life’” (John 6:47 & 48).

Hope

Slap Dab in the Center…

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

On Saturday we asked Caleb what his plans were and he said he’d love for Clay to go to our church gym and shoot basketball with him. That meant so much to Clay – and to me! Of course I went with them and got a good walk in while watching them play at the same time. We were there at least two hours, probably longer. We laughed at Caleb’s impersonations, expressions, balling over Clay, balling around Clay, and of course Clay was exaggerating the obvious – that he’s getting “older” and can’t keep up with Caleb, it was so much fun! And it brought back memories of Caleb’s years of playing in high school. I thought about the different positions of each player on his team and the role that they held. There’s no need to list them all, but I want to point out the Center. The center’s role is to plug the lane and keep the other team from scoring uncontested. Protect the lane and head off the shots.

As I walked I prayed for Caleb and his relationship with a girl he’s “talking to” (I haven’t been given permission to use her name so I better ask before I do.) I prayed that God would be the Center of their relationship so that in order for either of them to get to the other, they would have to go through Him. Then my mind took off with that thought! If God is in the center of our lives in all areas, nothing or no one can get to us without going through Him first. And we can’t get into stuff we have no business getting into without going through God. If He’s in the center of our lives, we’ll allow Him to defend us and keep away the darts that Satan will throw. We’ll also allow Him to act on our behalf offensively. The Holy Spirit will prevent us from making poor decisions, taking wrong turns, getting involved in things we shouldn’t – if God is in the center.

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

Slap dab in the center – that’s where God wants and NEEDS to be.

Hope

Sorting laundry…

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
This is Caleb at about 6 months old. He loved pulling the clean clothes out of the basket and covering himself with them. Aaawww!!

This is Caleb at about 6 months old. He loved pulling the clean clothes out of the basket and covering himself with them. Aaawww!!

Laundry is really not a dreaded chore for me. I don’t mind it all – especially when the laundry belongs to my college student because that means he’s home for the weekend! Caleb came home for Valentine’s weekend and we enjoyed his visit so much. And of course he brought home his dirty laundry. Some may think I’ve gone over the edge when I say that I enjoy doing Caleb’s laundry. Nothing pleases me more than to pull his once very stinky and soiled laundry now clean and fresh Mountain Spring scented clothes out of the dryer, fold them and place them neatly in his laundry bag. And I pray that he appreciates that labor of love and recognizes it as my privilege to care for him.

Have you ever tried sorting laundry while it’s still in the basket? It is an impossible task. Beth Moore made this statement in her David study…Feelings can be a little like laundry. We can’t sort them until we pour them out.

God wants us to pour out our feelings to Him and allow Him to sort through them. He takes great pleasure in sorting your dirty laundry, washing all the soiled areas away and returning them fresh and renewed. There are no feelings too deep that He can’t bring them to the surface and replace them with joy and contentment. Maybe you feel lonely, abandoned, dumped on, ridiculed, cheated, fearful, anxious, depressed, the laundry list can go on and on. God wants to sort through these for you – but He can’t until you pour them out at His feet. Keeping them crammed in the laundry basket will only cause them to mold your heart. It is your Heavenly Father’s privilege to sort your laundry of feelings.

“A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the LORD. Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you” (Psalm 102:1).

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

“I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way” (Psalm 142:1-3).

Hope

No greater love!

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful web family! The weather in Spartanburg is absolutely gorgeous – a perfect day to celebrate love! I want to remind you that the greatest love letter ever written is God’s Word, and the greatest love language ever expressed was Christ’s sacrifice for you and me. He took one for the team – and because of that, we win! No greater love!

Maybe you are without a Valentine this year. Please know that God loved you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you – He paid the debt once and for all for your sins and mine. There is no need for any other sacrifice, no other payment, all penalties have been taken care of. One God – One Son – One Death – One Victory over death! No greater love!

This love is offered to you at no cost – free of charge! All you have to do is accept it by believing that God sent His Son, His Son lived a sinless life, died a cruel death on a rugged cross, rose from the dead three days later, and is now interceding on your behalf at the right hand of His Father in heaven. Confess your sins, by faith ask Jesus to take up residence in your heart, and you’re in! No greater love!

If you are lonely today, please know that you are loved – an everlasting and unconditional love. If your life is spiraling out of control, please know that you are loved. God’s love for you is ever reaching – nothing is out of His grasp. He is so into you – there IS no greater love!

Love the lyrics to Amazed by Lincoln Brewster…

You dance over me while I am unaware
You sing all around but I never hear the sound

Lord I’m amazed by You…
And how You love me

You paint the morning sky with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
For You hold me in Your hand

Lord I’m amazed by You…
And how You love me

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16 & 17).
Hope