Archive for April, 2012

I’m gonna get you home…

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Last weekend Clay and his buddy, Joe went back to Devine, TX to get their Cessna 172 that they flew out there for repair New Year’s weekend. They had a great flight back home, for the most part. No bad weather to contend with until they were almost to Greenville. Just before getting to Spartanburg the traffic controller told them they’d have to fly around a thunderstorm that was over Spartanburg. Clay said his first thought was, “Oh man, we’re almost home!” So they made a wide “go around” and suddenly out in front of them was the most beautiful double rainbow that literally circled under the plane (picture to the left). Clay said the peace from those rainbows was overwhelming and he could almost hear the Lord saying, “I’m gonna get you home.”

The Lord says the same to me and you in the midst of our storms. His word is full of “rainbows” that hold promises that He will get us home. The storms will not overtake us if we will keep our focus on Him and allow Him to strengthen us and guide us through the storm. He’s gonna get us home, we just have to stay the course.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust” (Psalm 25:1).

“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).

Hope

Man, I wanna hang out in the shade for just a minute!

Friday, April 27th, 2012

While I was running earlier, the temps in the direct sun were pretty warm. As I was heading into my third mile I ran through a pretty wide shade. I said out loud, “Man, I wanna hang out in the shade for just a minute!” I was huffing and puffing and that little bit of shade was very refreshing. But I knew that if I stopped I’d a) mess up my average running speed, and b) may not start back! So I dug deep, breathed a prayer for energy and strength, and kept digging. It felt as if I could hear the Lord saying, “You’ve only got one last stretch and you’ll be there.”

That’s how we are spiritually. When troubles in life are hitting us directly and times are hard, the Lord provides short little shades to refresh us. The shade may be in the form of a soft spoken word of encouragement or a song on the radio or a devotional. Or the shade may be a good day thrown in the midst of some long difficult weeks. Whatever the shade, we sure are tempted to cry out, “Man, I wanna hang out in the shade for just a minute!” But God calls us to keep going. We can’t finish our assignment if we stop and hang out in the shades of encouragement. God has us on course for His plan and His purpose, and we must keep digging until we finish. And we don’t want to just finish, we want to finish strong. Can’t you hear the Lord saying, ”You’ve only got one last stretch and you’ll be there.”

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

By the way, I haven’t updated you lately on my First Place 4 Health journey. I continue to run 4 or 5 days a week, basically running my own 5K two or three times a week. I didn’t measure inches before I started, but I’m down 18 lbs! Thank you for your prayers as I continue on this new lifestyle change. Have a great weekend!

Hope

God remembered…

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I was reading from Psalm 78 this morning about the inconsistencies of the Israelites’ faith. They asked for water, God gave them ABUNDANT water supply. Then they wanted more than the food He was providing. They wanted the food they were craving – specific food. And they doubted the God who had parted the sea and turned the water into a solid wall for them to pass through, the God who had led them by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, the God who had performed miracle after miracle for them was not capable of providing them specific food requests. Psalm 78 talks of God’s anger and frustration with His chosen people. Most of that chapter talks of the mistakes and poor decisions of the Israelites and God’s wrath and anger. But then comes these verses…

“Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh” (Psalm 78:38 & 39a). Emphasis mine

Have you ever seen that verse before? I know I haven’t! God was merciful to His people for continuing to forget what all He’d done for them because He remembered they were but flesh. I love that! It’s as if God said, “Oh yeah. I created them from dust. They’re just flesh. Of course they don’t have it all together.” And He remembers the same about you and me. He has done so much for us. He has performed miracles and rescued us and provided for us and protected us and loved us yet we doubt His power and forget His might. But God doesn’t give up on us. He is merciful and forgives our iniquities. Time after time He restrains His anger. Because God remembered that we are but flesh.

Aren’t you thankful that God remembered?!

Hope

We raise our white flags…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Caleb came home from Passion 2012 at the first of the year going on and on about a Chris Tomlin song, “We Raise Our White Flags.” I was thrilled when it came out for download, and as I was running last night it played on my shuffle. I wish I had had a white flag with me, I would have been raising that thing all over Milliken property! Here are some of the lyrics…

You made a way for peace

Laying Your body down

You took our rightful place

This freedom song is marching on

We raise our white flags

We surrender all to you, all for you

We raise our white flag

The war is over 

Love has won, Your love has come

Now I admit it’s one of those songs that says the same few lyrics over and over and over. But I love it. By about the fourth time of saying, “We raise our white flags” you can’t help but lift your hands and wave them around in surrender to what Christ has done for you! I surrender to the One Who made a way for peace! We don’t have to be overtaken by fighting and bickering and hatred and murder and adultery and stealing and thieving and DEATH. Jesus Christ laid His body down in my rightful place – thus making a way for me to have peace in the midst of a crazy world around me. He took my rightful place – a death that should have been mine. Why would I be ashamed to wave my white flag and surrender to Him?

We raise our white flags, we surrender all for You! All for You!

Here’s a link to the song – get your white flag ready!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYuBdnaLNtw

“Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God” (Hebrews 9:15 The Msg).

Hope

Please Use Other Door…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Today I sat in the parking lot of the downtown Post Office and talked to Dr. Steve about one of his patients for close to 30 minutes. The entire time I was on the phone I watched individuals try to exit a door that was locked with a fairly large sign that read Please Use Other Door. The two glass doors are side by side, one works and the other did not. Every single person who went inside tried to come out the one that had the sign Please Use Other Door. The sign hangs precisely eye level with 95% of Americans, give or take a few inches. I chuckled every time it happened. One man pushed on the door, stopped, stepped back, read the sign, and pushed on it again – trying to jar it open. Finally he stepped two steps to his left and exited the other door. By the time I finished my conversation I was thinking to myself, “Seriously? How hard is this? Please Use Other Door!” I went inside, checked the mail, came back out and TRIED TO COME OUT THE LOCKED DOOR!! In my defense I was texting while walking which is never good. However, seriously?? How hard is this? I laughed at myself all the way to the car.

We’re just like that as Christians. The Lord throws up Please Use Other Door signs in our lives and doggone it we are gonna push on that door or bust. God throws signs up in clear view, eye level so we don’t miss it, and we still totally miss it. Why? We’re preoccupied with other things. So much vying for our attention that we miss the warning signs from the Lord and we plow headlong into a locked door. Some of us allow the one jar to get our attention and we heed the sign. Others of us are like the man who was going to do his best to get out that door one way or the other – when the better choice is just a couple of steps away. It’s all about self-will, determination, bullheadedness. We’re so busy with “living” that we miss the message from the Lord.

Is God throwing up red flags in your journey? Is He giving you clear signs to change your course? It’s best to heed those signs. It makes life much more “doable.” 

Please Use Other Door.

“If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant” (Job 36:11).

Hope

In Christ…

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

I listened to Perry Noble’s Easter message online, the senior pastor of New Spring. What a message! I loved this truth that Perry shared.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Emphasis mine.

This verse does not say if anyone is “in church” or “in Bible Study” or “in prayer”  or “in a small group” or “in a particular denomination“, it says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Attending church doesn’t seal our eternity in heaven. Participating in every Bible Study that is offered all over town will not seal our eternity in heaven. Praying with everyone who crosses our path or joining every prayer committee in the county will not seal our eternity in heaven. Hosting a small group in our home or committing to attend one will not seal our eternity in heaven. Picking the denomination that best lines up with our interpretation of the Bible will not seal our eternity in heaven.

The only way to secure that we spend forever in heaven with the Lord is to accept Christ. If anyone is in Christ he is a new person. All these other “godly” activities will take care of themselves. We must determine what we believe about Christ and then act on it. In Christ, that’ll seal the deal.

Hope

God is perceptive…

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Yesterday I decided to start memorizing Psalm 139. I love that chapter. I mean I REALLY love that chapter! Last week I counseled with my friend, “Jane” that I told you all about 3 years ago. Jane is in her last weeks of battling cancer. I shared some of Psalm 139 with her. Yesterday while reading through a couple of drafts of the script, I took a little break and turned to Psalm 139 and started working on my memorization. Immediately my mind went to Jane, so I sent her a text and told her to have her son read that chapter to her. I pray she grasps the love that God has for her!

As I read each verse I looked out over the ocean and prayed the verse to the Lord. I wanted to grasp the love He has for me too! The one that really struck me was verse 2…

“You perceive my thoughts from afar…” (Psalm 139:2).

As I processed that, I looked down the beach and watched for just a minute a young couple with two small children. I pretended to know what they were thinking and the motives of their action. I didn’t know those people from Adam’s house cat (my Granny’s saying). I had no idea what they were saying or doing. Besides, they were way down the beach. I could pretend to know, and even make up a pretty good story. But God doesn’t have to pretend to know what we’re thinking. He is perceptive. He’s God. We need not be pretentious. He knows exactly what we’re thinking “from afar.” I can’t stray too far, I can’t run too far, I can’t wander too far. No matter how discouraged or disheartened or disturbed I am, God knows. And more than just knowing, He cares deeply.

Hope

As vast as the ocean…

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Late evening view from my chair

By 3:00 yesterday afternoon I was mentally and emotionally spent. I had read back through Clay’s original script that he wrote 3 years ago, a script that details more of Hannah’s six months with sarcoma than even our Caringbridge journal. Ken Carpenter has done a beautiful job keeping me involved in every phase of the project. So I planned this Great Escape to hopefully aid in the script process to know what we may be missing or what we may be telling that doesn’t have to be told. Yesterday morning I took my Nook that had the script downloaded on it, a notepad, pen and a light lunch and escaped to the beach. By the end of Clay’s script I was crying as if I didn’t know how the story was going to end. I laid down my Nook and notepad and sat for an hour looking out over the ocean talking to the Lord. “There’s so much to tell, Lord. We don’t want to come up short!” And then I blubbered as I said, “God, the task of knowing what to tell and not to tell is as vast as this ocean!” I couldn’t shake the overwhelming sadness. Well into the evening and night I was so sad. I can’t describe it any other way than I was sad. Not really overwhelmed, just sad. 

I worked on a few Hannah’s Hope things until after 2:00 this morning and was still very sad when I went to bed. Clay called early this morning having no idea I’d been up so late, but I’m so glad he called! As soon as I heard his voice I felt better. He made me laugh out loud a couple of times, as usual, and I realized as we hung up that God had refreshed my soul in those few short hours of sleep. Because of God’s great love I was not consumed by the events of the previous day or the task at hand! His compassions and mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness is GREAT! I had a little prayer session before I got out of bed and repeated what I had said to the Lord about how the task is as vast the ocean. I heard a gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit reminding me that God created that vast ocean by simply speaking the word. He can do the same for our vast task of scripting Hannah’s story. I bounced out of bed with new energy and purpose. The task is still vast, no less than yesterday – but God specializes in vast. All He has to do is speak and the vastness becomes minuscule.

Are you facing a task as vast as the ocean? Don’t run from it – God’s got it!

“…My soul is downcast within me. 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 3:20-23).

Hope

Spring in the desert…

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

As a follow up to yesterday’s devotional, I’m drawn back to where the angel found Hagar. She was “near a spring in the desert.” Our deserts are hot and dry and lonely. But God always provides a spring to help us keep going. He doesn’t always snatch us out of the desert, but He provides what we need to continue on. The scripture says the angel found Hagar “near a spring”, some translations say “beside a spring.” No doubt Hagar was thirsty and had sought out water. We don’t know if she had just finished drinking from the spring or was just coming to it. But the scripture intentionally mentions the spring in the desert. Hagar was thirsty, and God provided the spring.

Di shared with the class that looking back over her 50 some years of living, she has spent a lot of time in the desert. But God has never left her there. He’s always been there with her and eventually He delivered her. And I can testify the same. I’ve found myself in some lonely deserts. Some of my own choosing, some I was placed there by someone else or circumstances beyond my control. But God has never left me there. He doesn’t always snatch us out as soon as we recognize we’re in the desert. But He doesn’t leave us there to survive alone. There is a spring in your desert. Just as He sends an angel to speak encouragement and peace and comfort, He also provides a spring of refreshment. Even in the desert – the hard places, the grief, the sorrow, the sickness, the loneliness – there are springs of refreshment. Don’t just go near the spring, dip from it.

“The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert” (Genesis 16:7).

Hope

Angel in the desert…

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Our Ladies Bible Study this past week talked about times in our lives when we feel invisible. I was unable to attend the actual class as I was visiting a cancer patient, but Di shared with me that they talked about Hagar being in the desert. You may recall the story, we’ve talked about it before on this blog. Hagar was Abraham and Sara’s servant girl. She is the one who Sara insisted Abraham sleep with so that she (Sara) could raise the child. Then after Abraham did what Sara pushed him to do, Sara became very jealous of Hagar and mistreated her. Hagar, being a lonely maid servant now pregnant with her master’s child, fled for her safety and for her sanity. She found herself in a lonely desert.

Several times since Di and I talked about that lesson I’ve thought about the many people who the Lord has allowed me to minister to just in the past few weeks and months who have found themselves in a lonely desert. Circumstances beyond their control have stripped them of the “normal life” as they know it and they have fled emotionally to a lonely desert. There’s nothing more despairing than loneliness. I am at the beach staying in a friend’s small two bedroom house, locked away for the week in hopes of taking us to the next level on a few movie assignments. Caleb dropped me off around 6:00 last night and then went on back to Coastal. It is so nice and quiet in Ocean Lakes at this time of year. And that’s just wonderful until darkness falls and you find yourself alone with no one to talk to. Last night I could have allowed my mind to go places that could have paralyzed me with fear. But instead I prayed myself to sleep and slept like a baby for 8 hours! 8 hours?? That NEVER happens! But around 11:00 last night as I was settling in to the cozy bed I thought again about Hagar and her lonely desert.

I hear from so many of you either through emails or comments or Facebook or Twitter or text messages of you know me personally and have my number. I know that many of you have fled to a lonely desert emotionally to escape circumstances in your life. You may not realize you fled, yet you find yourself in the middle of the desert not knowing how you’ll ever get back to the real world of happiness and contentment. God saw Hagar in that desert, He knew where she was. And He sent an angel to encourage her and bring her back home. And it was there near a spring in the desert that Hagar named God, “The God Who sees me.” God is the God Who sees you too. He knows exactly where you are and the situation that has taken you there. And God will send an angel to encourage you and strengthen you and bring you back out. Maybe He already has you just didn’t recognize the angel.

Listen for God’s voice today. Watch for a word or words of encouragement from someone today. It may just be your angel in the desert.

Love you all and am praying for you! Just wish I could do so by name.

“The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur…She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:7 & 13).

Hope