Archive for July, 2013

Copy the Lord on that…

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

This morning during our tele-prayer time with my BBB (Beach Bum Buddy) Di, I was reading her a list of needs that we have at Hannah’s Hope Ministries. Most are immediate financial needs. I compiled an email to send to our Board of Directors and Advisory Board. When I told Di (who serves on our Advisory Board) who all I was sending it to she said, “Go ahead and copy the Lord on that email. He may have a few ideas of His own.” That woman cracks me up! She is a balm for my soul.

Have you copied the Lord on your list of needs? It’s okay to share the list with others. It’s not just okay but appropriate to ask others for advice, for wisdom, for prayer. It is normal and critical to have someone or several someones whom you can call on, cry to, hash with, vent to. We all need someone who encourages us. Are you lonely? Are you frustrated? Are you struggling financially? Are you hurting? Are you in a funk? Just blue for no apparent reason? Are you holding on to something that doesn’t seem to be worth holding on to? Are you just treading water until something better comes along? It’s okay to talk to others about your problems. But whatever you do, be sure to copy the Lord on that. He may have a few ideas of His own.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6).

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me” (Psalm 30:2).

“I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me” (Psalm 120:1).

One of my favorite…

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).

Hope

The firing line…

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Many years ago I heard the old hymn, Keep on the Firing Line

You must fight, be brave against all evil. Never run or even lag behind.

If you would win for God and the right just keep on the firing line.

This weekend during my shooting class the meaning of this song became much clearer. There’s a firing line, and everyone who is shooting stands just behind that line. It is not only important but imperative that you keep on the firing line. If you stand too far back, your bullet could hit someone in front of you. If you step ahead of the line, you could be hit by a bullet. Everyone must line up at the firing line and stay on it. That eliminates any chance of being hit or hitting someone with stray bullets. And the instructor walks the line shouting instructions that are critical. If you’re not at your post, you won’t hear the warnings and the detailed instructions.

As Christians, we’re in a battle. Not against the Lord, but with Him, for Him. There is a firing line and it is imperative that we do our “fighting” as close to it as possible. If we lag behind the others, we could hurt someone along the way. Or if we get ahead of the Lord, we could be hurt. It is at our post that we will receive instruction, equipment, armor, ammunition, guidance, wisdom, and courage to stay the course. Stand firm in your faith. The scriptures draw the firing line. And it is in the Word and in prayer that we will be able to keep on the firing line.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21).

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

Hope

Keep your eye on the Target…

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Clay and I, along with my sister, Leigh and her husband, Tyler completed a Concealed Weapons Permit class on Saturday. Because Clay travels a lot I purchased a handgun a few months ago but have not had any formal training. I hate guns, as a general rule. But I understand the need and embrace that need. Until Saturday my warning label would have read Have gun, no experience, beware. But not now! We had a good time, learned a lot, and are now good upstanding law-abiding citizens who will be packing.

I got pretty upset with my husband during the shooting part of the test (not a smart time to upset the wife.) I’m too competitive to be a girl. Everyone shot 50 rounds. The first 45 rounds I had stayed between the 8 and 10 (10 being BULLSEYE!), even hitting 10 a few times. For those who may not know exactly what that means, if the silhouette were an actual man, my first 45 shots hit him square in the chest, with only a couple dropping to the stomach. But when I didn’t hit the bright red target, my shots were veering to the right just a bit (hitting around the left side of the bosom.) So Clay suggested I adjust my target. Rather than look at the bullseye, look at the 8 to the left, reasoning that because I’m shooting to the right making a slight adjustment to the left may put me spot on the bullseye. So my last 5 rounds I adjusted as Clay advised. I missed the entire man (the target is the silhouette of a man). Completely missed him! Shot over his shoulder?? I was so mad. The perfect score is 250, having to shoot 175 to pass. I probably would have shot 240ish. Instead I shot 206. I know I passed. I understand that SLED doesn’t care whether I score 175 or 250 as long as I pass. But I care. I fumed and griped and fussed and whined for an hour. Leigh kept telling me to quit blaming Clay. Yes, he told me to do it, but I’m the one who pulled the trigger. I didn’t have to listen to him. She told me I need to take responsibility for my own actions. Whatever. It feels a lot better to blame Clay. What I should have done was make the necessary adjustments to my shot, the way I was holding the gun, spend less time anticipating before actually firing so as not to pull up, adjust my stance, my breathing, whatever it may have taken to hit the bullseye. But I didn’t do that. I took Clay’s advice and did it his way. I took my eye off the target and put it on an 8 to the left. And I missed the cardboard guy with all five rounds.

Our eyes must stay on Jesus. Perhaps you’re veering a bit to the right. That doesn’t change the target. The adjustment that needs to be made is not to change the target. Is this faith thing not working for you? Don’t let anyone talk you into setting your eyes on other things and trying it their way. Don’t decide because you’re falling short of the target that maybe you need to change targets. Maybe if you try it another way you’ll still get this Christian walk down pat? No. Taking your eyes off Jesus will only cause you to get further off the mark. Keep your eyes on Him. He’s the target, the prize, the way, the truth, the life. He’s the answer to any question. He’s always – ALWAYS spot on. You will never have a perfect score with Him because we are human, we’re sinful creatures. But if we keep our eyes on the Target and continue to make the necessary adjustments, we’ll be all over it. And should you allow others or other things to talk you into taking your eyes off the Target, accept responsibility for your actions and for the consequences. Confess, repent and refocus. Jesus loves new beginnings!

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15).

“But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge” (Psalm 141:8).

So Clay finished with a perfect score in target shooting and on the written test. I made 206 out of 250 on the target shooting and a 98 on the written, missed one question. If our tests are any indication, I suggest anyone who considers entering our house unannounced should reconsider. (Insert wink.)

Hope

Word Alert

Friday, July 26th, 2013

I found an iPhone App called Word Alert, and I have it set so that every morning at 7:00 a scripture for the day pops up on my phone. The other morning it hit me how appropriate the title of the app is – Word Alert. I was in desperate need for an encouraging word. I needed a nugget of truth to get me through. And when I picked up my phone there on the screen was Word Alert. It was as though the Lord was saying, “Word Alert! Word Alert! Look no further! It’s the Word that you need!” I love my devotional books and my Bible Studies. But it is the Word of God that sustains me, encourages me, rebukes me, disciplines me, leads me, directs me, sets me free.

When you’re in a crisis or just in need of a little nudge to keep on keeping on, go to the Bible. There’s always a fresh word, always an appropriate word, always a true word. Look no further. What you need is a Word Alert.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Hope

Between now and heaven…

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A dear friend of mine, David Rush lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, and he journaled the beautiful prayer below. I find it to be appropriate – a heart-wrenching prayer yet filled with hope, not despair. Many of us have found ourselves at a similar crossroads. At a “Now what?” place. I asked David if I could share it, as I believe it will encourage you too…

Between now and Heaven my life here on earth

Is a journey with a beginning and an end

I have experienced many days filled with joy and laughter

But I have experienced many with deep disappointment and sorrow

I search for an answer but don’t know the question

And I seek direction without knowing where I am going

The curiosity of my youth slipped away and the discontent of my age came upon me

I wonder what it is I should be doing with this life

Then comes the day I turned to the Lord and asked

What do I do between now and Heaven?

Lord, what is it you want me to do? I know you hear me Lord

I beg to hear Your voice, Lord I pray

Give me direction. Give me wisdom. Give me strength

Give me peace and joy that only you can give

Do You want me to go? Do You want me to stay?

Should I speak or should I listen?

I call out trusting You will protect me from harm

Knowing you will provide my every need

Resting upon your promise

But I still ask

What do I do between now and Heaven?

I am your servant ready to serve

You brought me to this place in life where I want to bring you glory

I want to share Your love with a sad and dying world

I make myself available knowing my abilities are few

Take me now my Lord, use me

My heart is ready

I ask you now to please show me Your will for this life

What would you have me do between now and Heaven?

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

Hope

Talk ‘em up!

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

I saw this tweet today…

Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your burdens!

How often do you run into someone in the mall or grocery store or at church and ask them how they’re doing and they answer you with a list of blessings? Not very often. Quite the contrary. They (and we) are too quick to talk about the burdens. Why do we do that to ourselves and those around us? There are few people out there who really want to hear about our troubles and trials. They usually ask, “How are you doing?” out of habit or as a form of greeting. Few people genuinely want to know. But by default we talk about our “stuff,” our burdens. What would our mood be, our attitude be, our outlook be, our countenance be if instead we talked up our blessings? Life would be so much more pleasant for us – and those around us! Our blessings far outweigh our burdens, but it doesn’t feel like it. And that’s because we focus on the burdens.

Talk about your blessings – come on! Talk ‘em up! And see how much better you feel. I’m gonna take that as a personal challenge, to verbally speak about the good things the Lord has done for me. I encourage you to do the same, and watch your outlook on life take a turn for the better.

“Be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!” (Joel 2:21).

“You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you” (Joel 2:26).

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

Hope

Be a Light-bearer…

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

I have an opportunity to return to the workplace for 16 hours per week while continuing to do Hannah’s Hope Ministries as well. It’s been a difficult decision but one very much prayed over. I’ve been excited about this opportunity, but last night I had a mini-meltdown. I’m sure there was a touch of insecurity involved as I have been out of the workplace for 6 1/2 years. Clay reminded me this morning that this just expands the ministry. He challenged me to look for opportunities to provide hope. I did my quiet time before I left home, but did not read Jesus Calling until I was sitting in the parking lot just before going inside to start my new position. Here’s what I found…

I desire each of My followers to be a Light-bearer. The Holy Spirit who lives in you can shine from your face, making Me visible to people around you. Ask My Spirit to live through you, as you wend your way through this day. Hold My hand in joyful trust, for I never leave your side…Brighten up the world by reflecting who I am.

Well, okay Lord, I hear You. And my day could not have gone better! The people I work with are familiar with Hannah’s story, obviously aware that I am Executive Director for Hannah’s Hope Ministries, and talked about Hannah and the impact she had on hundreds of lives. An auditor was visiting from Greensboro, NC and had not heard about Hannah. I had the opportunity to talk to her one-on-one and share a bit of Hannah’s story. And the Lord was so gracious to allow me to find favor with everyone.

If Christ is in me, then I must be a Light-bearer, making Him visible to people around me. I pray I brighten up the world around me by reflecting who He is.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Hope

Overrule me, Lord!

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Yesterday our Pastor painted a beautiful picture of submission to God’s plan for our lives. He took us to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus made His plea to His Heavenly Father. Three times Jesus stepped away from the disciples to a quiet place in the garden, fell on His face before God and cried out…

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:40).

Other translations record it as, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Pastor Danny’s challenge to us was this. Are you facing a difficult situation? Are you at a crossroads in your life and need direction? Step away to a quiet place, get into a position (whether face down, on your knees, or whatever allows you to humble yourself), and cry out to your Heavenly Father with a sincere heart, “Overrule me, Lord!” I don’t think I’ve ever thought of this prayer from Jesus as saying that. But it is! Perfect picture of complete submission. Jesus told God what His preference was. He boldly asked the Lord to change His plan – and Jesus was persistent with His request. But He ended each plea with, “Overrule me, Lord!”

God isn’t intimidated or upset or offended by our petitions. In fact He urges us to bring each one to Him. But the condition of our heart must be, “Lord, this is my request. But I’m asking You to overrule me, Lord!” That’s a tough prayer. We all have our own agendas, our own calendars, our own To-Do list, our own chartered course. And that’s okay. But in order to live a joyful Christian life, we must tag on the end of each these words, “Nonetheless, overrule me, Lord!”

Hope

Writing on the wall…

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Today as I hashed out some things with my dear friend and prayer partner, Di, I found myself getting rather overwhelmed. At one point I threw my head back and asked with great passion, “Lord, why won’t You write something on the wall for me?! Nothing is certain right now, and I don’t want to make the wrong decision!” Di and I both turned to the wall and scanned it closely – as if there was going to be a message written on the wall in Manny’s Italian Restaurant. You never know, but it’s not likely.

Then as I hashed some more I came back around to what I know to be the truth. God doesn’t always make our paths crystal clear. He doesn’t always give us an undeniable sign. As much as we’d hope for a burning bush to pop up in our path, it’s not going to happen. So what we have to do is determine whether either of our options or choices or decisions are a moral one. If neither choice is right or wrong but rather a preference, then the best thing to do is follow the heart. So it’s important that the heart is in the right place. And the way to know whether the heart is in the right place is to put our desires and motives and actions up against the scriptures. God doesn’t have to write on the wall, He gave us an entire book filled with His guidelines.

Facing some difficult decisions? Looking for writing on the wall? Look no more. Get in the Word.

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

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3).

Hope

I turn to You…

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

One of my favorite Selah songs (among many) is I Turn to You. Love this verse…

For the faith to move ahead
And to let go of the past
And to see me as You do
I turn to You…What else can I do, Jesus? I turn to You…

It takes faith, a LOT of faith, for me to see me as Jesus sees me. Every time I look in the mirror I see me – a LOT of me. I see every imperfection, every extra pound, every wrinkle, every out-of-place hair. I also see every imperfection in my spiritual life. I had a “Could I be any sorrier??” moment this morning as I was straightening my hair. I confessed things back as far as I can remember. I laid it out there as if I had never confessed any of it before. “Lord, I know how unworthy I am. Unworthy to be used in any way. I don’t know how in the world You use me every day in this ministry.” I was wollering in self-loathe. And then I heard this song on Pandora…

For the faith to move ahead
And to let go of the past
And to see me as You do
I turn to You…What else can I do, Jesus? I turn to You

In order to see me as Jesus sees me, I must turn to Him. Only through Him will I find the faith to let go of my past and move ahead. Only through Him will I have the courage and the boldness and the freedom to stay the course. What else can I do?
 
“It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 8:16b).
 
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
 
Hope