Saturday, February 25, 2017

If It's Up To Me I'm Going To Fail

Hey Friend,

I was recently struggling with an issue about which I desperately needed wisdom.  I know the first part of James 1:5-8

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

Okay, I get it....need wisdom...go to God and ask and He will give.  Sounds good.  But then comes the rest of the passage:

But let him ask in faith without doubting.  For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.  

Uh oh...wait a mean to tell me that God's answer to my question is contingent upon my faith?  But I'm the queen of doubters.  I'm going to get crushed by the monstrous whitecaps of that surging sea.  I can be as indecisive as they get.  To me this spells failure!

Lord, I don't like this part of the verse.  Did you have to put that in there?

Panic stricken and unraveled, I start searching in my mind for scripture.  Key stories and verses I keep in my "Emergency Kit" for times like these.

I am reminded of the time that Christ says to the doubting father who is asking for his son to be healed, "Everything is possible for the one who believes."

The father responds, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"  (Mark 9:22-24)

Whew, I'm not alone.  I can relate to this father.  I believe, but there are so many times that my belief falls short and I cry out, " Lord I do believe, but help the doubting Thomas part of me that falls short."  

The truth is that I cannot create in myself the magnitude of faith that is called for.  No matter how hard I try, I'm just not going to be able to muster it up.  

Okay, that's what I conclude about Wisdom, but what about faith itself??  The passage on wisdom calls for the man to ask with faith without doubting.

So what does the Bible say about my faith?

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this not on your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

So the faith that I so boldly profess at times.  This is not my own doing?  My faith, itself, is a gift from God?  You got it.  Not even my own faith is my own. When I am tempted to be smug in my faith and knowledge, I am being an arrogant fool because the faith I have is a gift from God so that no one may boast.  And, not only is God the author of my faith, He is the perfecter....He will continue to grow the gift He's graciously given me.

Okay, what about all the fruits of the Spirit - showing kindness, gentleness, compassion, love, forgiveness, patience....

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING." (emphasis mine)  (John 15-5)

Nothing?  Really?  Okay what about following your decrees Lord.  Surely I can follow your Word?

"And I will put my Spirit in you and move you (cause you to move) to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."  (Ezekiel 36:27)

Like a lightening bolt, it hits me between the eyes.  If it's all up to me...surely I am going to fail.  TRUE!

But here is the Good News:

"I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."  (Philippians 4:13)  

In Jesus EVERYTHING is possible! Through Christ moving in me, I can do all things. 

Real discipleship is complete dependence on Christ for everything.  My life, our lives, should be Christ-sufficient and not self-sufficient.  This is the only way to bear fruit as a true disciple.

Also living in complete dependency on Christ requires great humility on our part.  Every day I need to humble myself before Him and acknowledge that apart from Him I can do nothing.  That's a big slice of humble pie!!

Apart from Christ, I do not have the ability to bear fruit.  He supplies EVERYTHING from His abundant fullness.  

So back to that wisdom thing....I am realizing by drawing on the Scriptures that only God can create in me the faith that He deserves.  The faith to follow His wisdom comes from Him, not something I muster up.  

I just need to embrace Him, let Him transform me, abide in Him and watch how He will move in me.  

Dear Heavenly Father,  Forgive me for my arrogance in which I give myself credit for the faith that I have.  Thank YOU for the gift of faith that you have so graciously given me.  I thank you that you don't leave me to fend for myself on my own self-sufficiency.  Help me to humble myself and know that the only way not to fail is to rely and depend on Christ's sufficiency.  Rely and depend are not "bad" words...they are words to truly live by.  Thank you that you realize I am but dust and I need your Spirit to move in me (cause me to move) to follow your decrees.  More of you, Lord and less of me.  Thank you for all the gifts you give me on a daily basis.  May I live my life to give you the credit and the glory.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed,
ps.  There have been three separate bombings near our school in the Middle East.  The children are afraid and frightened by all of this.  I can't even fathom the fear that they must live through each and every day.  

Would you please pray for our school, the children, the teachers and staff that God would place a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe.  And, that he would give them a sense of His abiding peace and comfort.  

If you would like to help financially, we could really use your support as we have been harboring more children to keep them safe.

Friday, February 10, 2017

True Hope For The Perfectionist

Hey Friend,

Recently I found my heart resonating with a piece by Mallory Manning, writer and blogger.  She was talking about perfectionism - something that I thought I had licked. What I've learned is that our nemesis may not go away that easily, but there truly is hope.  

Mallory writes:

"I feel like I can't uphold my end of the deal."

What deal did I make?  Who was involved in this deal that I don't even remember making?

Me, I make deals with myself all the time.  I will be punctual.  I will remember to send birthday cards.  I won't let anyone down.

In some form, things like maintaining our commitments and celebrating others reflects the loyalty and intentionality of Christ.  But instead of honoring God with my reliability, I often desire to meet expectations to maintain my image and prevent others' judgments.  So I make deals with myself, shaking hands with perfectionism.

But you know one truth I'm continually learning?  I will never be able to uphold my end of the deal and that's precisely the point.

I found some of Mallory's points to be spot on.  You see, as a member of "Perfectionists Anonymous", I get this.  Having spent a good part of my life trying to earn what was already mine through Christ, I know what a trap perfectionism an be.  

Christ died not so that we would "owe Him something" through our actions, but so that we could walk in FREEDOM.

Let me say it a different way...Christ died to set us free.  Being a perfectionist = being a prisoner.

One other thing that my perfectionistic ways uncovered was a nasty little stumbling block called "pride".  Funny how pride is often at the root of so many of our problems?!

By my continual striving and attempts to earn my salvation, I was in essence saying that what Christ did was not enough - that I still needed to do something above and beyond what He did.  That's pride.  When Christ sacrificially breathed out those last words, "It is finished,"  He meant it was complete.  

There is nothing more for us to do, but to walk in the freedom for which He laid down His life.

I have found a scripture that is like a soothing balm to the struggling perfectionist who wants to leave those ways behind and walk in the freedom that Christ intended.  It is found, interestingly enough, in this well known segment of scripture...

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and My burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Usually we associate these verses with someone who is going through a rough time, is weary, and needs the rest that only Christ can provide.  This may be true, but the real gist of Jesus' words here are this:

If you are weary and burdened by living under the weight of the Old Covenant, with its legalism and its laws, come to me because I can give you rest.  There is a new way of living.

If you are tired of living under the judging eye of others, let God be the judge and if you have accepted Christ, you are perfect in His eyes.  Human evaluations no longer matter.

Perfectionism, by the way, is weighted down by legalism and laws - a kind of get it right or else attitude.

Jesus bids us lovingly, "take up my yoke (the New Covenant that is based on grace and not on merit) and learn from me."  

Unlike the heavy yoke of the law that we continue to fall and stumble beneath, Jesus gives us a new, lighter yoke, of the New Covenant of grace and forgiveness.

"Because I am gentle and humble in heart and, In me, you will find rest for yourselves."  

No more having to make deals with ourselves because we feel like we will disappoint God or disappoint others.  Jesus is gentle and humble...He doesn't make deals.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

If you feel like you are continually struggling under a heavy burden to "get it right or else", chances are you are wearing the wrong yoke.  I get like this sometimes - so frustrated with letting myself down, others down, God down.

That's when my dear husband looks me square in the eye and says, "Bev, you don't have to be perfect."

That is my reminder to set aside the pride I have unwittingly picked back up and put on.  That's my cue to lift off the heavy yoke of the Old Covenant- with all its burdens and laws and slip into the light yoke of Jesus - the one that says...

"It's finished.  There's nothing more for you to do.  I did it all.  Now go and walk in the freedom that I've paid the price for."

Do you struggle with perfectionism?  Do you ever feel like you are held to a higher standard than everyone else?  Do you find it hard to be easy on yourself? What's preventing you from taking in the freeing Truth of Jesus' words?

Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for the pride that says that I can do this on my own - that somehow I can earn your love and my salvation. Help me to take in the Truth that there is NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT unless it is me being seen by You through the blood of Jesus.  That is the one and only way.  Help me not to continually stumble beneath a heavy yoke of laws, legalism, and perfectionism.  Enable me to live in freedom under the yoke of your New Covenant.  You died so that I could dance....let me dance in freedom knowing I am loved by you no matter what because you paid the price for my mistakes.  Let me strive less and abide and rest more in You.  Thank you Lord and it's in Your name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps.  Come and check out some of the new news and happenings with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  See the faces of lives that are being transformed because they too are living under the freedom of the New Covenant!!  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Craving Connection 2 - A Journey Through Life's Seasons

Hey Friend,

Given the response and the comments I've received on my previous post, I am revisiting this topic of Craving Connection.  

We were made, by God, to be in relationship. First and foremost is our relationship with God.  After that, God has put in us a desire for relationship with a partner in life and with friends of all ages, races, and nationalities.  It's just the way we are wired.  

When those connections aren't made it can make us heartsick.  Yes, ultimately, Christ is all sufficient for us and I have found there have been seasons when God needed to remove everyone from my life so that He could have my undivided attention.

I also know, that the enemy prowls about, seeking to isolate us and destroy us. Just like a lion in the wild will try to isolate a week member of the herd, the enemy does the same thing with us.  If he can get us alone, he has a better chance of his lies sinking in and his message of despair and hopelessness finding a home in a hurting heart.  

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8)

That is why it is not a luxury or the cherry on top to have friends and connections, it's essential.  Now that I've said that, I will admit that making connections - extending my hand in friendship is not always easy.  Ask me to walk into a room full of people I don't know and my hands will begin to get sweaty; my blood pressure will rise; and thanks to this anxiety disorder I have, I have even been known to have panic attacks and have felt a need to flee the room.

I'm much better at one on one encounters, but to get to one on one, sometimes you have to walk into the full room - if you know what I mean.

I remember, in college, not knowing anyone on my floor.  I kind of sat back and did a study of people and tried to get a "pulse" on what made certain people tick.  I believe we are attracted to like minded individuals, so when I watched Christine from afar, I thought, perhaps, this is someone I would like to get to know.  Enter the hard part...going down to her room and introducing myself. That's right.  If there's one thing I've learned is that if I'm going to have  a friend, I can't wait for her to come to me...I have to go to her.  

I remember introducing myself and asking if I could join her for dinner in the cafeteria that night.  Thankfully she said "yes".  Thus started a long friendship. We were both looking for friendship, so we ended up joining the same sorority and wound up as roommates.  So that was a success story.  

I have extended my hand in friendship to others only to be rejected or at least the friendship not reciprocated.  I've had to learn, albeit the hard way, that this is the price you pay for finding kindred spirits.  It doesn't mean you are a loser, it just means you haven't found the right friend yet.

When I was young and newly married, I easily found friendships through work and with neighbors in the townhouses in which we lived.  Besides, I was a young newlywed so friendships were great, but not something on which I depended.

Enter the season in life, however, when with a newborn baby (my first), I found myself relocated to the Mid West, in a town where I knew no one, in January, amidst one of their nastiest winters.  This is when depression greeted me for the first time.  I was like a sitting duck for the enemy.  My hormones were everywhere.  I had experienced several major life stresses at once, and basically I was a mess.

I prayed earnestly to God for friendships.  I knew I needed a lifeline.  I needed others I could ask questions about how I was to raise this little person who demanded all my time and didn't come with instructions.  

Enter my neighbor, who though she had older children, had a friend who was the coordinator of a group called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  The nice Welcome Wagon lady also came to my door and invited me to the Newcomers meetings.  Sweaty palms, racing heart, fussy baby and all, I mustered all I had and went.  

One thing my mother told me has always stuck with me...ask people questions about themselves.  A good conversationalist asks lots of questions.  No one likes a person who goes on and on about themselves ad nauseam.

To say that Newcomers and MOPS, especially, were lifesavers for me, would be an understatement.  For women with children birth - 5 years of age (even if you have older children but still have one in this age group you are welcome). Through two more moves MOPS became my gateway to connection.  I found Christian women who were real, like me, and also were craving connection and some adult conversation.

When I moved to NC and my children were 4 and 9 I was moving out of the preschool set and I found myself thrown back in time to college days.  I was going to have to observe and seek out someone with whom I could relate. Fortunately many of us were newcomers in our neighborhood.  I thank God for the one woman who had the gift of hospitality and she invited all of us new folk to her house for coffee.  

That's where I met Claire.  I can't exactly remember who extended the hand first, but we've been close friends for 20 years.  She recently moved to Florida, however, and I'll say losing close connection with friends is a grieving process unto itself.  

I will say that finding a church where you feel at home is also crucial.  That is one of the first things I seek out - I'm like a heat seeking missile when it comes to that.  It may take time, but a church is a gateway to Bible studies, small groups, and other forms of community.

Slowly, over time, I built a comfortable circle of friends.  All was good.  Life was fitting like that old shoe except for my marriage which suddenly ended one day when my husband simply up and left.  To say my world was turned on its head (again) would be an understatement.  Divorce, by far, is one of the hardest things I've ever gone through.  Single parenting is downright HARD!!  

I also found that some friends that we had as a couple disappeared into the woodwork.  Other married friends were busy with their families and weekends became a lonely nightmare.  

Here I was back to square one again... having to seek out like minded and similarly situated individuals.  

I have discovered that God will put people in my path, but it is up to me to take that scary step of extending my hand in friendship.

Sweaty palmed and anxious, I ventured into building connections with three other separated and divorced women.  We became what we called, "The Perseverance Posse".  If there was ever a time I needed friendship, this was it. I really relied on these women and my married friends who stuck with me.  I would have never made it through had I not had these women in my life.  I thank God for them all the time.

So here I am now, an empty-nester who runs a non-profit ministry from home. I am by myself most of the day, except for the company of my trusty beagle, Topper. I can be a bit of a loner, at times, so I don't mind being alone.  In fact I rather enjoy it, but how much alone time is good?  How much is dangerous?

Thankfully I am remarried to a wonderful, godly man, but I still crave connection with other women.  It's harder to make coffee dates and such so I have found an on line community of women through a Christian group called (in)courage.  

The wonderful group of writers at (in)courage put out a daily blog/devotion that I read and comment on religiously.  

They have also just released a wonderful book called, not surprisingly, "Craving Connection".  Each short chapter written by a different writer includes ways to build connection, avenues to join and have community, and opportunities to engage with others and ....yes, even some challenges.

I invite you to join us (yes, I'll be there) starting on FEB. 7th as we will go through 5 weeks of short chapters and challenges.  I am hoping to find some new, fresh, creative ways to make connections.

As I've tried to point out here, craving and building connection is a lifelong journey.  It may look different in the changing seasons of our lives, but the necessity and even the command by God remains.  

Will you join us?  I really hope so!!  

And now the winner of my giveaway drawing for a free copy of "Craving Connection":
Dawn B. - Woohoo!

If you didn't win, please pick up a copy at your favorite bookseller and join us, won't you?  We were not meant to be islands unto ourselves, so lets roll up our sleeves and dig in together shall we?

I will be praying for you as you are brave in building connection.  I hope you will find connection here at my blog as well.  All who are real, honest, and not afraid to be a little vulnerable are welcome...

Be blessed...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are You Craving Connection? (Plus Giveaway!)

Hey Friend,

Ever since I can remember, I've always belonged to groups.  Whether it was youth group growing up or joining a sorority in college, I liked "belonging". Perhaps that's why I joined Newcomers groups when I moved around, MOPS when I was a mother of preschoolers, Bible studies, church small groups....

There has always been something deep inside me that craves community.  I find this kind of ironic because I was an only child who learned, early on, to be comfortable in my own company.  In fact, I like being alone in the quiet and still of the early morning.  

I am now in a season of life where I am working from home.  I head up a non-profit ministry - Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. that supports and fosters Christian education for the orphaned and destitute in one of the scariest places on earth - the Middle East.  How I got here is a story unto itself, but it all began through this blog. 

I'm up at 5 am. while it's still dark outside (revisit loving my alone time and quiet time with God).  I work pretty much non-stop all day, taking time out for lunch and perhaps a cup of coffee in the afternoon.  I'm pretty much alone all day (except for my beagle) until my husband gets home.  This is REALLY different for me.

I tried joining an evening Bible study, but since I'm up at 5 am. I find that my brain turns to mush and pretty much shuts down by 7:30 pm.  Not good for adding to, or deriving anything from Biblical discussions.  

I'm learning that at different stages of life, connection looks different.  

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.  (Matthew 18:20)

I'm learning to maybe put extra hours in one day so that another day I can meet a friend for coffee.  To be able to look my friend in the eye and pray with and for her is just good for my soul.  

The way the enemy prowls about, I know this time is not a's a necessity!

On a regular basis, my husband and I have one of my single friends over for dinner. After we eat, my sweet husband excuses himself for some hockey on the tube upstairs while my friend and I chat away.  I know we both need this community.  We are both dealing with some of the same trying issues with our adult children and it's good to know we are not alone.  

You know those ideas you get....gee, wouldn't it be great to invite a few of my neighbors over who I never get to spend time with?  One day I decided I'd share my coffee time with three neighborhood friends.  I kept it simple - just coffee and scones that I picked up at a cute little french boulangerie.  Can you say non - stop talking?  I admit my "coffee break" ran a little long - oh say 2-3 hours long. I politely had to show my friends the door as we could have easily sat and talked for a couple more hours.

And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The next day I started my workday a little early and got caught up on the time I had set aside for community with friends. I needed that time with friends to hit the "refresh" button! 

I am learning that I NEED unity and connection with God, my friends, and my community.  

Community is not an option or a's a life source.  Cut it off and we'll soon perish.

God created us to be in community with others.  So where do I start....

I'm excited to announce the release of a new book "Craving Connection" which is a collaboration by some of the best Christian writers I've read.  They talk about:

* EMBRACING the desire God has given each of us for connection
* INVESTING in meaningful relationships, right where God has you
* BECOMING the friend you wish you had

Each segment, written by a different writer, gives you things to consider.  She'll also give you a challenge and ultimately a way to engage with others.  

Not only do I love the different writing styles, but I love the different ideas that I wouldn't have thought of - like this one:

**Set your phone alarm to remind you to pray for friends and family on your prayer list throughout the day.  **

The best news is:  I'm giving away a free copy of "Craving Connection" !!

To enter the drawing you can get one entry for:
1.  Leaving a comment either here or on   Facebook
2.  Another entry for subscribing to my blog

Drawing will be held on Feb. 6th so be sure to get your entries in.

If you aren't fortunate enough to win, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book online or at your favorite bookseller.  It's a must read!!

So, what's holding you back vs. what is there to be gained by making connections?  Who might God be putting on your heart to make a connection with?  How can you be an easier person to connect with?  

I also invite you to join our online connection group hosted by (in)courage.

We will be doing 5 sections of the book together starting on Tuesday the 7th.  For 5 consecutive weeks we'll read a section (about 8 pages) and then do the challenges together.  I think it will be great fun to learn new ways to connect.  I hope you'll join me!!

You'll be glad and blessed if you join us (yes, I'll be there)...

Friday, January 20, 2017

More Room For Him

Hey Friend,

When I got married three years ago, it was like the King of clean and simple lines married the Queen of clutter.  

Yes, I admit that I am that sentimental person who hangs onto everything. Everything has meaning - from a piece of furniture, to a knick-knack, to my children's kindergarten drawings.  My attic was...shall we say....a disaster?

Enter my loving and patient husband.  He knew my "deer in the headlights" look and so he pared down a huge job into little chunks.  It's taken three years, but you could hold a small ball in our attic.  There is room to move, Praise!

He's also helped me around the living areas of our home.  I truly have adopted the truth that less is often better.  I suffer from an anxiety disorder and, not surprisingly, I found that as I cleared out the clutter and over abundance of stuff, my anxiety levels went down.  

Was it hard to part with some bet.  After numerous garage sales, I found, however, that I was happy that some of my "beloved" things were going on to a new home and would be appreciated by someone else.  It was time for them to move on.  Other stuff simply needed to be pitched.

I've been reading this month in the Gospel of Luke.  In chapter 9, Jesus speaks to this very issue.  Listen carefully to what He says after He commissions the twelve to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God...

"Take nothing for the road,"  He told them, "no walking stick, no traveling bag, no bread, no money; and don't take an extra shirt."  (Luke 9:  1-3)

Jesus would definitely not approve of how I pack my bag for trips - with extra outfits "just in case".  

Jesus is clear when He tells the disciples to live simply and travel light.

He really breaks it down to bare bones.  Why so?

I believe that Jesus wants His disciples to learn to lean on Him for their sufficiency and not their "stuff".  In the unknown up ahead, Jesus wants His disciples relying and depending on Him, not the comfort of their belongings. He wants them to trust that He will provide for their needs.

I've asked myself why I hold onto my stuff?  

Does fear of the unknown make me hold onto what's comfortable around me like a security blanket?  I can see it, touch it, grab hold of it, whereas God is a lot less "tangible" at times.  

Even harder questions...

Do I want "fear" to be my anchor in the storm or do I want "Faith" to be my anchor?

Am I willing to trade the "known" for the "unknown"?

Do I really trust that God will be sufficient for ALL my needs?

Further on in Luke 9, Jesus talks about the twelve taking up their cross.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me."  (Luke 9:23)

Think about it realistically.  Can I realistically pick up my cross and follow Jesus if I'm dragging along all this baggage?  

I have this vision of me fumbling to carry my cross (which is what really matters), because I am schlepping along suitcases filled with physical and emotional stuff and baggage.  

Some time, some where, I have to leave some thing behind...

My mounds of stuff may temporarily sooth my feelings of insecurity, but eventually they will rot and rust and turn to dust.  

Can I wrap my little pea brain around the fact that God is enough?

God is even MORE than enough.

I am finding that as I clear out the clutter in my home, in my mind, in my I leave the comfortable but useless baggage behind....

I have more room for Him.

How about you find it hard to part with stuff?  What are you clinging to that God would have you let go of?  Is there something hindering you from leaving it all behind to take up your cross and follow Him?

Dear Heavenly Father, how I thank you for your patience with me.  You coax me to leave the "known" behind, take your hand, and step into the "unknown".  Help me to trust you and not to live in fear.  Help me to leave the comfortable behind and trust in your "enoughness".  Guide me to live with only what I truly need.  Enable me to trade in my chaos for the sake of Christ.  Show me the way - your way - and help me to walk in it.  Help me to travel and live light so that there will always be more room for You.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed....

ps.  Speaking of living simply, the children at our school in the Middle East live SO simply.  We take for granted that when it's cold we hike up the thermostat or when we're hungry we raid the fridge or the pantry.  Not so for the children of Redeemer Christian School.  This  blue jug of propane barely takes off the chill in the classroom in the winter.  This meal in school is the only meal they will get for the day.  

In an attempt to live simply, might you give to those who barely have anything?  Heat, food, shelter...we need your help today.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Oh To Be On Fire

Hey Friend,

Each year I choose a "Word" for the year...a goal, a watch-word, a guide-word for my daily living.  In 2016 it was "See".  I intentionally tried to slow down and be cognizant of God all around me each and every day.  I wanted to truly see Him, His Creation, His work all around me.  

So this year, why "Fire"?  Perhaps it was because I was inspired by a quote by the great theologian John Wesley:

"Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn." - John Wesley

It made me think about my I live with a passion - a love for Christ - that is so intense that people would say that I'm on fire for the Lord?  

My greatest desire is that a (wo)man would look at my life, and the passion they saw would point an arrow directly to God.  I want it to be unmistakable just Who is the love of my life. 

Jesus, himself, said that half-hearted, lukewarm, indifferent Christians make Him literally sick to His stomach.  So much so, that He would spit them out of His mouth.  

Is that me?  Do I call myself a Christ follower, but yet have no fruit that would testify to the blood of the Spirit coursing through my veins?

I believe that Jesus wants on-fire, red-hot, enthusiastic followers who love Him more than any one or any thing.  I want that to be me.

The word "Enthusiasm" comes from 2 Greek words, "En" which means "in" and "Theos" which means "God".  "En Theos" literally means "in God" or "God in us."  An enthusiastic person speaks as if possessed by God.

The word possessed usually has a bad connotation - as if possessed by an evil spirit.  Actually the word "possessed" means to be spurred on or moved by a supernatural power.  

The love of Christ compels me.  (2 Corinthians 5:14)

I want to be determined to follow Jesus and I know that I need His love to compel me and propel me forward.  

I want love and compassion to motivate all that I do.

I want a heart that is yielded to the Lord.

Lest I get too ahead of myself...I can't be "on fire" for the Lord out of my own will and striving to be on fire.  I cannot burn unless there is a Source for my flames.

The source of my heat is His Word!

The source of my heat is His Word!

I say that twice for emphasis because I know me.  In my good intentions, I will try to fan the flames of my own self-produced fire and I will be nothing more than smoke....wisps of hot air that rise up on the wind and disappear.  

Our God is a consuming fire.  (Hebrews 12:29)

In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is compared to fire or flames of fire.

I want to be on fire for the Lord.  I want HIS consuming fire to consume me.  

I want His passion to be my passion.

"Is not my word like fire?"  declares the Lord...

In order to be on fire, there is no getting around it.  I NEED TO BE IN HIS WORD DAILY...PERIOD.

"I have found that I have no unusual endowments of intellect.  But this day, I resolve that I will be an uncommon Christian."  - David Livingstone

Christ's disciples were not endowed with great intellect.  In fact, most of the heroes of the Bible had great weaknesses.  That's okay, because through their weaknesses, God can shine.  The kindling of their lives produced the hottest fire because it was evident that God was the Source behind the flames.

May I go forward in this year with the Word as my sword.  May I speak and act courageously.  May my life be so on fire that others will come from miles to watch me burn, and may they ask...What set her heart on fire?

This is my prayer...will you pray for me that I would be on fire for the Lord - in His strength, not my own, and may God get the glory?

What is your "Word" for 2017?  Would you share in the comments?  If you haven't picked a word, might you consider starting this year and ask others to keep you accountable?  

Be blessed....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Loneliness As A Gift?

Hey Friend,

Ironically, the time in my life when I have felt the most lonely is when I was married.  Living with someone who doesn't love you is probably the worst kind of lonely there is.  I've been completely alone and it is not as bad as living with someone you care about and not having those feelings reciprocated.

Perhaps this is the worst kind of loneliness because it reeks of rejection.  I don't know if there is any more harsh feeling than that of being rejected.  

When Jesus hung on the cross and felt the eyes of His Father turn away and all of His friends had scattered to the hills, what kind of loneliness must that have been...what rejection?

But, it was Christ's experience of being completely alone that birthed the gift of communion with God for us.  

Jesus had to be completely alone so that we could be ushered into the glorious presence of the Father.

Writer, Shannan Martin, beautifully shares this truth about loneliness...

"But there's a big difference in being alone and feeling forgotten or unseen."

She goes on to say,

"In recent years, I've faced this struggle more than ever before.  Though fleeting, it always remembers my name.  It hits in waves and leaves me gulping, flailing. I don't understand why God allows it. Shouldn't my faith be all the protection I need against this peril?

...I finally recognized the power Satan has over me in this area.  I hand him this weapon and he finds it quite effective.  If he can convince me I'm alone in the world, I willingly fork over a portion of my holiness, no questions asked.  He fuels my pain as I lash out or become withdrawn or paranoid.  He greases the wheels of vindictiveness and I ride.  He double-binds me to myself - a guaranteed recipe for disaster."

Shannan's words resonate with me and sometimes I just look up at God and I say, with a sense of yearning in my voice, "God, no one here 'gets me'."  There are some days on this earth, that are populated with billions of people, that I feel all alone.  

I want to be understood.  I want someone to care on a level that is beyond human....

How true that loneliness brings us to the edge of ourselves.  I believe that He calls me to that lonely place so that there is no place else to go but to dive off the cliff and into Him.

Knowing the pain of loneliness is not necessarily a is a bridge that takes us into the lonely places in others so that we might be the hands and arms of Christ that provide comfort.

It takes pain to know pain...perhaps the pain of loneliness is a gift??

I have found, though, in my life that there have been times that God has had to remove all the comfortable people around me so that, in my loneliness, He can be my enough.

So why all this talk on loneliness right after we've celebrated the gift of Emmanuel - God with us?  Often, after our mountaintop experiences, we must go back down the mountain and live in the valley.  

My prayer is that I...that you...will carry the gift of Emmanuel with you as we go forward into the new year.  He is always there and has promised "never to leave nor forsake you."

I also believe my feelings of loneliness serve to remind me that I am just a tramp at the manger...passing through.  I gaze at the Nativity scene and I realize that baby Jesus is alive.  He sees me.  He knows me like no one else does and He will come back for me one day. 

I know this because He promised me He would come again...

Meanwhile, my loneliness is a reminder that I am not yet home.  It's an ache that won't be entirely filled here on this earth.  I will not be satisfied until that one glorious day when I am in daily, in-person, communion with Him.

How about you?  How are you feeling after the celebration of Emmanuel?  Is there still a part of you that is lonely...that feels like the world just doesn't "get you" sometimes?  If so, you're not alone.  

Dear Heavenly Father,  thank you for reminding me that "alone" doesn't exist within the bounds of your love for me.  Thank you for "getting me".  Help me when I want to turn to others for affirmation of You - let me turn directly to You to fill me up and be my enough.  When I feel alone, let that be my signal that you are waiting in the wings wanting to draw near to me.  Remind me that when I promised to "take up my cross and follow you" that there would be lonely days.  Let me suffer like you have suffered rejection, Lord, so that I can reach out to others who are feeling alone.  Enable me to be your hands and feet.  Let my loneliness be a gift to others.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps.  We are really in need of gifts for Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. so that we can make a wise decision in January of 2017 if God would have us expand our school to serve more orphaned and destitute children in the Middle East - offering them an education and a life-giving transformation in knowing Christ as their Savior.  
If you can, please donate by midnight Dec. 31st.

Thank you.....