Shine Bright

One of my favorite people asked me this morning, “Why do people blame guns instead of a lack of knowing Jesus?”  I am not sure and quite honestly this question was way more than I could answer at 7:00 am or at anytime for that matter of fact.

The more messed up this world seems, the more good and right the ways of the Lord are to me.  There is no other way.   Politicians are not going to pull us out of darkness.  Health professionals, although very helpful, are not going to save us from darkness.  Not our pastor… not our spouse… Only One defeats darkness.  He is the Light.

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus brings light to humankind.  Only He can remove the darkness.  He is the way, truth and life.  I am so thankful Jesus saved me from darkness.  I do not have to fear evil because He is my Savior.

But, I can’t help to have a heavy heart for those who have been blinded and do not see or know the light of Christ.  Why do we blame guns and not a sinful heart?  Maybe that’s easier to understand… Maybe we don’t know what sin is and how dark it can become… Or possibly, we don’t know the only One, Jesus Christ, who can forgive our sin and give us a new heart, a heart that wants to love rather than kill…

I have been forgiven.  Christ has given me a new heart.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Probably most of you reading have turned to the Lord and been forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ and given a new heart.  If not, I pray this sparks a curiousity to learn more about the Savior of the world.  But, for those of us that know the hope of Christ, I encourage you to let the light of Jesus shine.  This is a bit hard for me to write because the morning of the horrific news of tragic loss in Las Vegas, I said to my husband, “Well, that will make you want to never leave the ranch.”  Of course, the Lord wasn’t going to let me believe this crazy thought.  Through my bible study this week God has shown me the light of Christ is not to be hidden.  The world desperately needs this Hope we have.  Today, I have a greater desire for others to know the only One who can save us from sin and darkness.  There is no better time than now to let the light of Christ shine in our lives.  Perhaps your friend, neighbor or that person you didn’t realize was observing your life will be drawn to the Light because we didn’t hide but instead let it shine brightly. 

“Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.”  Matthew 5:15 

Lord, help us shine BRIGHT so that many might know.

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Start with 5 minutes and Pray

I remember hearing a long time ago some wise women or man of God saying, “Start with 5 minutes in the Word and before you know it, it will be an hour and you won’t even realize it.”  I can’t remember who… I’ve sat under many over the past 17 years.  I see some of your faces as I type and oh am I grateful for you.

I also recall thinking, you are nuts!  An hour in any book much less one I struggle to understand.

It did begin with 5 minutes.  5 minutes of mind wandering, slow reading of usually a devotional sometimes the Bible.  How could I watch hours of “E” tv but not read the words that were written by God Almighty.  I don’t know but it was a start.  You’ve heard it, you have to start somewhere.

Then about 8 years ago a dear wise women of God said, “Pray before you read.”  Not only did she tell me to pray, she showed me how.  Once again, thank you Lord for wise biblical counsel!  If you don’t have these people in your life, get them.

This was not a prayer… please forgive me for cussing, forgive me for not going to church, or sorry God for fulfilling my needy desires with online shopping.  Although repentance is important and necessary.  This was not a prayer of God I need this or that.  This was a prayer… God, I know the answers are in this book.  I desire to know your ways and love you only.  Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.  Psalm 119:18  One of my favorite scriptures to pray.

There are many other scriptures you could pray.  Here is a list of a few:  Isaiah 40:8, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 119:27, 2 Samuel 7:28, Psalm 119:103, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This is praying the will of God in your life.  He wants us to seek Him and know Him.  Two ways we can know Him more are praying for knowledge and understanding and then read/study His Word.

I am now at the point where I look up and an hour has passed reading and studying His Word and to be honest I don’t usually want to close this precious book.  But, a shower needs to be taken and we are called to go live and proclaim this beautiful Truth that God loves us so much He sent Jesus to save us and through Jesus we have Life!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”    1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:57‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There are several other steps that have helped me engage in God’s word but for today I encourage you to start with 5 minutes and most importantly Pray!  God has answered my prayer and I delight in his Word and he will answer your prayer too.  Thanks be to God!

A great study I recommend is Open Your Bible by Rachel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams.

Friends, I have never stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called.  I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.  Ephesians 1:16-18

Broken…New…Waiting…

Well, hello pencil and paper.  It’s been a while since I have written and to be honest the words seem a little stuck.  Stuck maybe because I haven’t been digging as deep into God’s Word as I desire to be… Or in a busy season of motherhood… Or maybe because I have been broken…

I am now at a place where I’m seeing the Light through the broken cracks, experiencing newness and waiting upon the Lord.

“From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Brokenness is difficult but oh how I love when I begin to see the Light through the cracks.  The Light tenderly pieces us back together.  Perhaps, we sometimes must be broken to lift our eyes to Jesus, to seek Him more than ever.  Brokenness will bring us to a place where we finally realize, the Lord is our helper.  He is all we need.

Sometimes as the Lord begins to piece the brokenness back together there are new steps we must take in obedience, like when Moses went back to Egypt to set God’s people free after he had killed a man or when Ruth chose to stay with Naomi and then work in Boaz’s field.  Both of these situations would have been unfamilar and new.  This is where I am shaky and I always drag my feet.  But, I remember my brothers and sisters I have read about in the Bible and I look back on my own life.  I remember obedience to the Lord is always good.  Like the time almost two years ago when His still tender voice kept urging me to write.  I can look back and see how He has drawn me closer through being obedient in writing and sharing Truth.

“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Even after taking these new steps of obedience, it might take a while to get an answer or results so we wait upon the Lord.  For me, I am learning that waiting on the Lord is completely trusting He knows best.  He is working good in the waiting, so stick with God and keep waiting.

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalms‬ ‭27:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Faith is rising up like ivy

Reaching for the light

Hope is stirring deep inside me

Making all things right

Love is lifting me from sorrow

Catching every tear

Dispelling every lie and torment

Crushing all my fears

~The Garden by Kari Jobe

If you are broken, hang on and look for the Light through the cracks.  He loves you!

If you are in the new, seek the Lord and keep obeying.

If you are waiting, trust the promises that you know are true.  You will see the Lord’s goodness.

Kombucha for the Soul

I want to finish the race.  I want to fight the good fight.  I don’t know if I will hear, “Well done.”  But, it is my goal.

I read this on my kombucha tonight, which by the way, this bitter slimy drink is suppose to be doing amazing wonders in my gut.  Whether it is working wonders or not, only God knows.

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I found these words encouraging after battles at the dinner table and a family devotional that felt well… somewhat useless.

“Just try your veggies.”

“Be thankful for what is on your plate.”

“Stop focusing on blowing bubbles with your gum and listen to the Bible story.”

Small battles, yes, but I have felt myself growing tiresome.

I don’t write personal goals down but I know some of the things I am working towards.

I desire to be a loving wife.

I desire to point my kids to Christ.

I desire to become a better writer.

I desire for our family to live healthier.

I desire for my life to glorify God.

I desire to fight the good fight. I want to remain faithful and finish the race the Lord has set before me and hear, “Well done.”

Then life happens.  These goals are not attained quickly nor easily.  Struggles come and there is the thought, “Just give up.  Is it really worth it?  Does anyone care?  Does it matter?”

In this moment when lies began to fill my mind, my gaze fell upon these words,

“When setting goals, count any movement towards it as a measure of success; even the smallest step.”

Putting the veggies on the plate is a small step.

Getting little humans to sit in the same place while you read the Bible is a small step.

Registering for that online writing class even though you are just on lesson 2 is a small step.

If we are moving toward God, we are moving in the right direction; even if they are baby steps.  If we are seeking God and our goals are God focused, every tiny step is success.  So at the end of each day find your tiny steps of success.  What seems small just might have giant kingdom results.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:5

Friends, these words are not just for Timothy, they are for you and I too.  Keep fighting, keep running, or jogging or walking!  Keep loving and serving your family.  Keep seeking truth.  Complete the ministry God has given you.  One miraculous day when we meet Jesus face to face, we will discover it was all worth it.

Settle Down

A bit restless they eyed us with caution.  Who are you and why are you close?  They needed to learn we were there to care for them.

On this cool overcast May morning, our family rode through some new yearlings.  Trying to figure out their new surroundings, they were somewhat  unsettled.  Our purpose was to simply be present and settle them down.  My husband whispered instructions to us.

“Be quiet.  Don’t ride at them, gently ride around them.”

Maybe after a few times of riding through them, they might be more settled in our presence.

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For several weeks, the Lord has been whispering to my heart, settle down.  I hear but I have not settled.  Fear has gripped my heart and I have been striving to be a perfect mom, spouse, and church member.  With enough research, I can figure out how to fix things around me and have an effective ministry.  Yikes, writing that out sounds worse than I thought.  Yes, I have been in fix it mode and it has left me tired and unsettled.

My head knows the Lord cares for my family and I and I need not worry about anything, oh but how easily I forget.  I have been eyeing the Lord with caution and living unsettled.

But, this morning He whispered, “Settle down.”

There is no need to be cautious when it comes to trusting the Lord God Almighty.

You are secure.  The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

You can stop striving.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28  I feel like I write and say this scripture often but when am I really going to get it?  We will not be settled until we truly believe this truth.

In her book Seamless, Angie Smith says,

“We aren’t God.  That means we can’t “put ourselves in His place,”  and any attempts to apply our own standards and expectations on Him are basically futile.  He is entirely separate from us, and fully sovereign-meaning He can do what He wants when He wants.  He is also fully love so what He does is ultimately loving whether we can presently understand or not.”  (pg 24)

Thank goodness all of our nutty striving, will not change God’s good plan!

You can settle in the Lord.  Settle, meaning to quiet, calm or to bring to rest.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

Lord, help us remember, we find true rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Help us follow You, knowing You are working all things together for good for those that love You.  May we rest in our loving Father!

Teach Me to Take One Day at a Time

I have been singing and humming this song for two days now.  One day at a time sweet Jesus…

Has the Lord ever challenged you to rethink something that you have lived your whole life?  You have bee-bopped along your entire 37 years and never even thought twice about the change He keeps stirring in your heart?  As much as you try to make it go away, it won’t go away.  I am learning the Lord is relentless pursuing his beloved.  He won’t give up on us.  When change is for our good, He will change us.  He loves us that much.

A lot of times when we begin to hear that still stern voice, we ignore it and might even say silly things like, “Oh Lord, that’s not possible.”  Can you believe we actually say things like that?  The Bible is clear when talking about the power of our risen Savior.  As my pastor preached with passion Sunday, the power of Christ is with us to accomplish the purposes of God.  All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.

He brings you to your knees with a circumstance in which all you can do is surrender.  This is when we look to Heaven and believe everything He has taught us and stand firm in our faith.  We can count it all joy because He is using, even this, for good.  We will know Him more through our challenges, suffering, and the changing of our hearts.

One day we wake up and repent for being slow to obey and we decide to walk in obedience with Jesus because He is the only way, truth, and life.  It’s hard but it’s worth it.

We surrender,

listen,

resolve to obey even when it’s not easy,

believe we can change,

and trust in Him who is trustworthy!

Whatever it is He is nudging you to rethink or change, remember ALL things are possible through the power of our risen Savior.

This is my prayer today:

I’m only human I’m just a woman
Help me to believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway that I have to climb
Lord for my sake teach me to take one day at a time
One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time

One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus by Patsy Cline

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I Will Give Him Back

I hover.  I control.  I hold on.  I worry.  When I know God’s Word says, rest, give up, let go, do not be anxious about tomorrow.  Why do I still wrestle with this?  I know God is sovereign. Yet, I still wake up at 2:30 am fretting.  This particular morning it happens to be about my children.

In the early hours of the morning, the Lord brought to my mind Hannah.  So this morning, I left Isaiah for a bit and flipped back to 1 Samuel 1 & 2.

She ached for a child.  She wept and prayed before the Lord.  Hannah was so distressed (worrisome) that the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk.  Hannah, just like us worried but she prayed earnestly.  “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”  1 Samuel 1:11

Then she worshiped the Lord.

God heard.  God answered.  Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets was born.  A little later, Hannah shows much trust and obedience.  She returns to the Tabernacle and says to Eli, “Sir, do you remember me?  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.”  1 Samuel 1:26-28

Although I am a little sleepy eyed this morning, I am grateful that the Holy Spirit awoke my mind and heart to Truth this morning.  Thank you for Hannah’s story and thank you for helping me remember my own redemptive story.

God has answered my earnest prayer for children just as He did Hannah.  My husband and I have dedicated both of them to the Lord.  I can confidently give them to the Lord all the days of their life.  He will care for them.  Even when life doesn’t play out for them as I envisioned, may I be quick to remember Your plans are so much greater than anything I could dream up.  Truth is hung all throughout our home to help us remember God’s goodness.  Maybe while picking up dirty clothes in their rooms, I should stop, read and remember God’s promises.

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Gracious Father, may we remember and rest in your goodness.  When we begin to fret over our children, help us be confident in your sovereignty and know your plans are always better. Show us how to give our children fully and freely back to You, just as Hannah did.