Archive for April, 2011

He can move a mountain…

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I’ve set my ringtone to Mighty to Save and I’m so glad I did! When someone calls I hear…

Savior, He can move the mountains

My God is Mighty to Save, He is Mighty to Save!

Have you been or are you now faced with a mountain that you just do NOT have the energy to climb? I remember an old gospel song that says…

Lord don’t move that mountain. Just give me the strength to climb.

That’s good and I always liked it and it has its rightful place, but sometimes I want God to move the mountain. And sometimes He does. Not always, but sometimes. Have mercy, some of our mountains are stubborn and they refuse to be conquered! They’re stubborn and self-absorbed, and just when you get excited for the five steps you’ve made up it, something happens and you find yourself slipping 10 steps back. It is those type mountains that you pray for God to remove from your life.

Just in the past week or so I’ve gone back to the truths of Beth Moore’s Get Out of that Pit study that we did a couple of years ago. She says if something or someone is threatening to pull you or push you into a pit, distance yourself from the situation. That’s not always easy – especially for a peacekeeper personality like mine. I want to fix it. I want to smooth everything over. I want everybody to just get along. I’ve been counseling with a few individuals and by default I encourage them to keep peace and continue to work at the situation. But the gospel according to Beth says that sometimes you have to throw in the towel, admit you can’t climb the mountain, step back and allow God to move the mountain in His time.

Savior, He can move a mountain! But we have to take our hands off of it and give Him full access in order for it to happen. Got a mountain too steep to climb or too big to conquer? Walk away from it and watch God work.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job…This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (1 Peter 4:12 The Msg).

God says to Abraham…“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

Clay is almost home from working two weeks in France – and I am so excited! He’s already landed in Charlotte and is going through customs. Now for the most dangerous part of the trip: driving I-85 from Charlotte to Spartanburg. I hope each of you have a great weekend – I plan to!

Hope

It is well…

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The deadly storms that swept through the south the past couple of days have been frightening to watch. Last night is the first time I have ever sat glued to the weather channel watching the direction of a system. For two hours I followed the storms and tracked them to see whether the Upstate was going to get hit. I’m sure had Clay been home I would not have been as anxious about them, but being here just me and my puppy dogs made me uneasy. Finally about 12:30 I decided I needed some sleep so I prayed for peace and protection and I went to bed. I woke about 1:45 to strong winds and lightening. I checked the weather on my cell phone to find that we were not under any warnings so I rolled back over, prayed again for peace and protection and I went right back to sleep.

The dogs were my alarm clock at 6:15, and I opened the front door for them and found a beautiful breezy morning. I said to the pups, “Hmmm, all is well here!” Then a few hours later during our prayer time Di prayed for the victims of the tornadoes and she said, “Thank you, Lord that it is well here in Spartanburg. It is well.”

Yesterday during Papa Bailey’s funeral we sang…

When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul!

I’m so thankful that it is well in my heart and with my soul whether storms are brewing or a gentle breeze of peace is blowing. Because of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, whatever my lot it is well, it is well with my soul. How about you?

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1).

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

Hope

Teach us to live well!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Today I attended the funeral of an 88 year young man. He is the father of a lady I worked with for years, and the grandfather to a good friend from church. Mr. John Bailey had been married to his lovely bride for 68 years. He had been a lifelong member of Central Church of Christ. The minister did not have to preach Papa Bailey’s funeral today because Papa Bailey knew what it meant to live well. The minister shared so many beautiful stories that by the time I left there, I felt as though I had known this man all my life, yet I’d never met him. I will probably share several devotionals over the next few days on lessons I learned from this stranger.

The best of the best story is the one from Easter Sunday, the day Papa Bailey went to heaven. He showed no signs that he’d go to heaven on the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. He went to church with his bride as he does every week, dressed in his finest as he does every week. When he walked into the church he came to face to knee cap with a 15 month old little boy who was toddling around. The parents retell the story that Papa Bailey started bouncing around with the little boy, only they didn’t describe it as bouncing. They told the minister and the family that he danced with their little boy. In the words of the minister, “Central Church of Christ is a conservative church. We don’t dance in our church,” he said with a grin. “But on the day that John went to heaven, he danced. And now he’s dancing all over heaven with Jesus and the loved ones who have gone before him.” Wow! I said aloud, but quietly, “Amen!” When I got in the car I cried again, and I still cry as I type this. I can just see this 88 year old man who loved the Lord, loved his family, loved life, dancing with that little boy, having no idea that in just a few short hours he would die of a massive heart attack and would have the privilege of dancing with his Risen Savior – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day! Wow!! What a day to go!

My challenge to myself and all of you is – live your life worthy of the calling that God has placed on us. When someone stands to give the eulogy of your life, be sure they have some really good stuff to tell your family and friends. Be sure that there is no question in the minds of those left behind whether or not you’re dancing in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Should strangers be there, allow them to know you personally by the time they leave because of the life stories you leave behind. You want others to say of you, “Now that was a life well-lived.”

Dance on, Papa Bailey, dance on!!

“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!…then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let your servants see what you’re best at— the ways you rule and bless your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!” (Psalm 90:11-13 The Msg).

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1).

Hope

Sleepwalking…

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Do you or someone in your family sleepwalk? I never have but I have a sister that used to and one of her sons did when he was young. It’s quite scary to watch. Their eyes are open but they can’t see anything, and though they’re walking around they have no idea where they are or where they’re headed. Until they run into something, or someone shakes them back to reality. I love today’s Jesus Calling! It talks about how we as children of God tend to sleepwalk. I took a bit of liberty and wrote my own commentary on that reference.

We simply exist on most days. Our eyes are open but we aren’t seeing anything. We are completely unaware or unconcerned about our surroundings and what is happening in our life. We get up in a stupor with no plan to rise to the next level of our Christian walk. We coast in neutral through our days as if sleepwalking with no idea of why we’re here or where we’re headed, until we bump into an obstacle that stymies us. Then we wake with a jolt and either respond with anger and frustration at the obstacles that shook us out of our slumber, or we see the obstacles as opportunities to gain a greater perspective on our purpose in life.

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

Don’t sleepwalk through life. You’re here for a purpose. Don’t sleep through it.

Hope

Bottled Lives…

Monday, April 25th, 2011

What a blessed day we had at Cudd Memorial yesterday as we celebrated Easter – resurrection day! We had the service in our CLC, and all the chairs we had set out were full, people overflowed into the bleachers and many were standing. The excitement of the day of celebration was in the air! And Danny’s message was awesome.

He made so many points I don’t know which one to steal first. One in particular that has stuck with me is the reference to the bottled lives of Mary and Mary Magdalene as they approached the tomb. They took with them bottles of ointment, cleaner, etc. to clean Jesus’ body. But instead they found an empty tomb, and because Jesus rose from the dead – they no longer needed what was in the bottles.

Do you have a bottled life? Have you bottled up anger, disappointments, unmet expectations, hurts, mistakes, poor choices, repeated sins, grief? Because Jesus Christ rose again, you no longer need what’s in the bottle. Take your bottled life to Him and allow Him to empty that bottle through faith. Empty it at the feet of the only Risen Lord! He died and rose again to set us free from our bottled lives. Don’t allow His death and resurrection to be a waste of time for you. He loves you! Pour it all out to Him and when you do, you’ll be like Mary Magdalene – you’ll profess to all whom you come in contact with, “I have seen the Lord!”

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

Hope

Post Flood – The Strength to Surrender

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Noah had a choice . . . I have a choice! You know Lord, You spoke to and challenged my heart last night through Lisa’s teaching. The two of us often look at each other and comment “this study was for me.” It was, wasn’t it Lord? It was the two of us You wanted to teach – it was never about us teaching someone else! You have given us multiple opportunities to share Riding Waves of Grace because You are waiting for and desperately want us (me) to “get it.” And I am coming to understand more all the time the reality . . .  every day I am given a choice! Every day I can choose to surrender to Your will and to Your way! Or I can fight against Your plan and allow the things that have happened in my life to lead me to a place of bitterness and despair!

 

We talked about the day Noah came off the ark last night! After 120 years of daily picking up a hammer to build the ark and then living aboard the ark for over a year with family members and smelly animals, Noah’s daily choice to “walk with God” didn’t end! You know, it would seem that his walk of obedience should have “let up” or “lessened.” After all, because of his obedience to You, the entire human race was spared! That should have gained Noah a “free pass” or a “get out of jail free” card! It seems Noah could have “put his feet up for awhile” and just cruised through the rest of his life.  But on the 17th day of the second month when the door of the ark was opened, I think Noah probably just stood at the top of the ramp and surveyed his surroundings as the animals walked down the ramp past him. He had personally taken care of those animals and feed them every day for over a year! Now they were on their own! That part of his obedience was completed!

 

Noah had invested the last 120 years of his life preaching righteousness to a wicked and perverse generation. He had been laughed at by his neighbors, ridiculed by family members and worked tirelessly to accomplish the assignment God had given him! As he stood at the top of the ramp surveying his surroundings, he didn’t look out on a “perfect world!” Instead, he saw a whole new world with a whole new look. The ark had made its safe landing on the top of the mountains of Ararat! He couldn’t plant a garden up there – it was cold and rocky. He was going to have trek down the mountain and build a new home – a home that would never look the same as the one he had left a year ago.

 

All of the cultural advancements of his generation were gone. Noah was about to start completely over. . . start completely over! What does that look like? Everything looked different – nothing was the same!

 

Noah could easily have become bitter – he could have let fear paralyze him. He could have decided it was easier to just end his life than to start over at 601 years old!

 

But Noah didn’t become bitter – he didn’t become paralyzed by fear! Slowly and soberly, Noah came down the ramp of the ark into his “new world.” His heart must have felt some sadness – probably a lot of sadness. Everything he had invested and given his life for those 120 years was now over. As different as he was, as different as his perspective was, Noah had a choice to continue walking in obedience to God!

 

You know Lord, we sometimes think that after we go through “the flood” that we should gain a “flood free” pass – that our present suffering should gain us a ticket for “no more suffering.” The reality is that as long as we live on this fallen earth, we will go from one place of dependence upon You to the next place of dependence upon You! We aren’t going to “arrive” until we see You face to face!    

 

Noah must have been tired! He must have been exhausted – this journey of obedience had taken so much from him!! And at the same time, Noah had gained a profound understanding of the reality of who You are!

 

So perhaps it was at the top of the ramp that Noah made the decision to “go on” with You!

 

No matter where we have been – we must also choose to “go on” with You!  There is another assignment awaiting us! Perhaps not another ark to build – but a new plan and purpose for our lives – “post flood!”

 

Our scripture memory verse for the week was Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

 

And so, even amidst his tiredness and his very long “to do” list, Noah began this new part of his journey building an altar and giving You thanks for Your faithfulness to that point in his life! Noah worshiped before he worked!!

 

Oh Jesus, every day You call me to worship You – to be still before You – to hear from You – to gain perspective – before I “plow on” with my day! Every day You give me the opportunity to surrender my will and my way to Your will and way! And Lord, You continue to teach me that the only place of rest and peace is surrender – whether I like it or not!!

 

Oh Jesus, give me the strength to surrender! Give me the strength to surrender to Your will and to Your way!!

 

You know Lord, today we celebrate the greatest act of surrender the world has ever known! The day Jesus willingly gave His life for us! He took on the form of a servant and became obedient to death – even death on the cross! He asked You to take the cup from Him – but more than he wanted what He wanted, He asked that Your will be accomplished! And because of His obedience to Your plan –  I have eternal life and  overcoming, victorious  resurrection power through Your Holy Spirit!

 

The greatest tragedy the world has ever known – the greatest sorrow and suffering – the place where joy and sorrow met – through that You brought forth the greatest victory the world has ever known – the redemption of mankind! Use my suffering Lord to bring forth great victory for Your eternal kingdom purposes! In Your name, I ask and pray, Amen!

Rocky path…

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

I’m not sure I remember the story from King David’s life where he was attacked by Shimei as he was walking to Bahurim. Shimei came running at the King, cursing and throwing rocks, then showered him with dirt. My first thoughts as I read this scripture was, “Who in the shivers is Shimei and where’d he come from?”

Shimei represents all of our unexpected attacks. We’re strolling along a path where life is good and fair and just, and from nowhere rocks and dirt start pelting us. Sometimes the rocky paths are brought on by our poor decisions and irresponsible choices. And sometimes they are due to no guilt of our own. Either scenario, God is merciful to meet us on the rocky paths and protect us from being taken out.

Are you traveling a rocky path today? Are you being showered with unexpected dirt and stoned unmercifully? Is Satan hurling accusations your way? Allow God’s love and mercy to strengthen and encourage you to stay the course. As Beth Moore challenged us in the study, I challenge you to stay faithful. You are on the winning team!

Here are a few verses from King David penned in the Psalms…

“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3).

“I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God” (Psalm 71:22).

“Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God” (Psalm 86:2).

Hope

Focus on the shelter, not the storm…

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Late last night I clicked on a link posted to one of my North Carolina friend’s Facebook page to watch a video of one of the many tornadoes that spun through my Tarheel home state on Saturday. I ended up watching many videos of home video coverage of some massive tornadoes. In most of the videos the person in charge of the camera was panicking, as I would have been! But one guy just amazed me. He and his family were driving up I-95 in the Dunn area. His wife was driving and he spotted the tornado off in the distance. He said to his children something like, “Hey, kids I think we’re gonna see a tornado.” As the video and the tornado progressed, there was an urgency in his voice but no panic. He told his wife at one point to accelerate and she said, as calm as if he had told her to stop and get him a Coke, “The gas is to the floor and we’re not going anywhere.” You could see the traffic slowing as the black angry clouds threatened to swallow up the entire area. But no panic, no fear, no bad language. The worst he said was, “Holy Moses!” I have to say that’s the first I’ve heard that. I have no idea why I spent so much time watching those videos. There are two things in life that I can say I fear – very badly, 1) being stuck in an elevator; and 2) being caught in a tornado. And you guessed it. Since it was midnight when I watched the videos, I dreamed about tornadoes all night.

This morning I tried to reason why this family was as calm as they were – especially compared to some that I watched where the language was R-rated from the panic. I came to the conclusion that this family had been through a tornado before and had survived it. They knew enough about them to have an urgency to get ahead of it if they could, but yet they knew that most survive them if they take the proper measures to protect themselves should they have to ride it out. You’re following me, aren’t you? You’ve been reading me long enough to go before me.

When an unexpected storm comes into our lives, we panic when we either…

a. Have never been there before;

b. Do not seek the appropriate shelter, i.e. prayer, God’s Word, spiritual godly counsel; or

c. Didn’t learn anything the last time we went through one.

I urge you – don’t do like I did last night. Don’t spend any time focusing on the storm clouds, the way they’re shaped, how dark they are, the fierce winds that accompany them. Instead, spend time knowing what to do when one comes. Focus on the shelter – where to go for shelter, what to have on hand to help you ride out the storm should you lose power…you get the idea. Know God’s promises before you need to claim one. In the midst of the storm is not the time to frantically run around trying to find a source for strength. Have it in place and know where it is. Focus on the shelter, not the storm.

“I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm” (Psalm 55:8).

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Hope

A work in progress…

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Our friend, co-worker of Clay’s and next door neighbor, James has been working away on a beautiful patio area with a nice swing and pergola. It is located just off our driveway between our backyard and his deck. There have been two trees that separated our property blocking the view for several years, and the last couple of years the trees have died. James cut both of them down a couple of weeks ago. My mom came over Sunday evening and she just loved James’ new patio area. I told her the swing had been there a while, and that James had been working hard to design that beautiful master piece. He says it’s a work in progress. You just couldn’t see it for the dead branches.

Jesus has been working a while on me – how about you? There are some dead branches and low hanging limbs of “self” that need to be cut back. I am a work in progress as He clears off areas that are preventing others from seeing what He is doing in my heart and life. When all the trimming and pruning and HACKING is complete, others will stand amazed at the finished product. It’s been there all along – you just couldn’t see it for the “self” junk!

“Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product” (Psalm 25:21 The Msg).

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

“…blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:9 & 10).

Please continue to pray for the movie project. I have been working crazy hours – mostly first second shift this week! Another teleconference tonight with Ken and the Hansens as we continue to tweak and polish the final draft of the script. We can all use your prayers!

Hope

Hope is a spring board…

Monday, April 18th, 2011

“We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you” (Colossians 1:5 & 6).

I read this verse during Sunday School yesterday and I immediately had the visual of hope being a trampoline, and faith and love bouncing up from it. If we try to share our faith and love with others without our hope being firm in Jesus Christ, faith and love will fall flat – and so will we! It would be like trying to spring from the hard ground. I remember how much Caleb loved and played on his trampoline. He loved to move the portable basketball goal to the trampoline and practice dunking. The other day when he was home he told me that he thinks the reason he can jump so high and dunk so well to be a skinny white boy is because of the trampoline. That could be it! I used to jump on the trampoline with him and I was able to kick my feet straight out and touch my toes, twist and turn and carry on like crazy. I assure you that I can’t spring up from the floor or ground and touch my toes to my hands in midair! And if faith and love spring forth from our hearts, it will be because hope is the trampoline.

This week we celebrate the greatest event in history – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. It is because of the resurrection that we have hope. And that hope is the spring board for faith and love. Firm up your hope in Christ, and watch faith and love spring forth to all those you deal with!

Hope