Thursday, September 30, 2021

What is the Best Way to Share Your Faith?

Hey Friend,

I had my steamy cup of coffee in hand and was ready to settle in for Sunday online church. No sooner had I plopped onto the sofa, turned up the worship music, and called up the stairs for Dave to come down, the doorbell rang.

Who could be ringing the doorbell at 9:30 am. on a Sunday morning? Pushing pause, I scurried toward the front door. It was our neighbor, John. We'd been journeying with him and his wife, Tracy, as she battled pancreatic cancer for the past year and a half. The cancer, sadly, was winning. 

John obviously needed to talk and, I believe, there was a reason he rang our doorbell. John's much needed verbal-purge wound it's way around anger, past frustration, through anguish, alongside despair, until it wound up on faith's front porch. A door had opened...

Genesis 12 is known as the "blessing chapter" in the Bible. A good summation would be: "You are blessed to be a blessing."




So how, exactly, are we to be a blessing?

Until recently, I thought there were basically two ways to be a blessing and to share your faith with others. The first method I call "In your face." This is the more aggressive path of quoting scripture continuously and turning every conversation into a sermon.

The second method I call "Live like Jesus." This method is more passive -- I'll just go about my life, living and trying to look like Jesus, and my actions may pique someone's curiosity about my faith. This method isn't bad, per se, but it relies on someone "catching" our faith much like they'd catch a cold.

The third method I've learned is perhaps the most effective way to share our faith -- it's called "Be a blessing." "Blessers" are much more likely to bring others to faith than "Converters" who are out to save souls. I do, however, admire those favored with the gift of evangelism.
 
When desiring to be a "blesser," perhaps the first question to ask yourself is this:

"What would I value in someone that would make me want to discuss personal spiritual matters with them?"




Would I value:

~ Someone who listens without judgment?

~ Someone who lets me draw my own conclusions?

~ Someone with enough confidence to hear my perspective before sharing "Jesus is the Way."

Jesus was a master at blessing others. This carpenter knew how to build relationships. Here are 5 key practices I've adopted from His playbook...

5 Practices Jesus Uses to BLESS:

1. B = BEGIN with prayer. How many times did Jesus go off to pray during His ministry? I like to go on prayer walks around my neighborhood in which I pray for each house I pass and ask God who I can bless, and who needs to hear the words,"God loves you."

2. L = LISTEN. I think of the time when Jesus asked the blind man what He could do for him. Listen to your neighbors -- they will tell you how they need to be blessed or healed.

3. E = EATING. Jesus shared lots of meals with strangers and unlikely guests. We eat three meals, seven days a week. That's twenty-one opportunities to love on others. I've found sharing a meal with people we don't know well is one of the best ways to begin building a relationship.

4. S = SERVE. If you ask, people will tell you how to serve them ie: include their child in carpool, provide a meal, or pick up a prescription. One question I've gotten much better at asking is this: "How can I pray for you?" 




I never used to pray before walking into a grocery store. But, one day, I prayed in my car for Jesus to guide my steps and conversation in the store I was about to enter. It didn't take Him long to answer my prayer. In the produce section, an elderly woman told me she liked my shirt which had all sorts of adorable dogs on the back.

We discovered we'd both had Westies among other dog breeds. Other shoppers raised a few eyebrows as we doubled over laughing about dog tales and puppy escapades. I kept my lips closed and listened as she lamented over her husband's recent passing. Against COVID protocol, I asked her, "May I give you a hug?" -- she graciously accepted...and then I asked, "How can I pray for you?"

My grocery store run had become more an act of giving than an act of getting. 

5. S = SHARE your story...but only when asked. Most folks don't want to know about your achievements, they want to know they're not alone in carrying their burdens and shame. Hubris gets you nowhere, but humility is a welcome mat. By sharing "me too" stories, we can lighten the load others bear.

As Christians, we need to be inclusive in our prayers -- in learning to listen, while sharing a table, when serving, and when sharing. Will you pray with me?

Dear Heavenly Father, I am truly blessed by you. Please enable me to go out and be a blessing to others. Let me be to someone else, what I would like them to be to me. Give me strength and courage to use the practices Jesus used to bless others. I'm asking you to bring to mind people I need to bless this week. What first step, Lord, do I need to take? Tell me. Show me. Here I am, Lord, use me. Enable me, ultimately, to share the hope that is within me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you? Is your style more "In your face," or "Live like Jesus?" Do you feel God calling you to a more active way of sharing your faith by being a blessing? What step(s) can you take this week? Who can you bless? Will you share?

May you be blessed in your endeavors...


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Friday, July 23, 2021

Child, I Don't Want You to be Left Behind

Hey Friend,

It's 3:30 am and I can't sleep...

Time transports me back a few decades to that silent night in a hospital bed. The nurse brought you in and gently laid you in my arms. Your tiny head smelled of gentle goodness and perfection. The baby I'd prayed years to hold was finally nestled in my arms. 




As you slept I made a promise. I promised God I would do my very best to raise you in His love and teach you His precepts. I solemnly dedicated you to my Savior. I asked Jesus for His arms always to be open to you until you fell into them. I laid you down at the foot of the cross -- you were my crown whom I cast at His holy feet.

Now, the enemy of our souls has his fist tightly clenched around the hourglass of time. He's squeezing out the sacred sand and I'm powerless to stop it. I pour out my heart -- earnestly begging Jesus to woo you back to Himself before it's too late. You know His hand is right there, but will you reach out to grab it and save yourself? I can't do it for you, this is a decision only you can make.

But know this:

For all your hurts, Jesus is your Healer

For your failures He is forever your Father who picks you up

For your addictions, your Adonai can break the chains

For your sorrows, He sends His Holy Spirit to comfort you

For the mistakes, He is your Maker and He makes beauty from the ashes

For your unattained yearnings, He is Yahweh

For your lowest points, He is El Elyon - your God Most High

For your agony, He is Abba-Daddy who holds you

For when you want to hide, He is El Roi - the God Who Sees You and loves you

For your shame, He breaks the shackles

For every sin that haunts you, He is Elohim - He is God who is bigger than everything and anything






For God so loved the world that He gave us

His One and Only Son to save us.

Whoever believes in Him will live forever. (John 3:16)


Come bring your weary heart. Come to the table and find only His love will satisfy. Come bring your thirst and pant no more. Come lay your flaws and failures at the foot of the cross. Come walk in freedom because He has died for your sin and defeated death. 

I praise God for the wonders of His love. I praise Him for the wonder that is you.

Jesus gave His life so you could walk in freedom. With His blood you are made whiter than snow. Your new name is Beloved. Pick up His yoke -- it's light and it won't burden you. Give Him your past and He will lavish His grace upon you and give you eternity with Him.

Fall on your knees and find it's the way to His Heart of love for you.

I love you my child. Run into His arms. I don't want you to be left behind because there is glory upon glory that awaits you. Don't delay. Get out of the boat called Self. Walk on the water toward Him. He will not let you fall. Take hold of His righteous right hand and live. 

I love you always my child...

Be blessed...if you have a child you'd like me to pray for, by name, email me with their first name and I will pray over them.

ps. If you liked what you've read here today - might you want to SUBSCRIBE to my weekly posts (and nothing else)? Just go to the SUBSCRIBE block above and follow the prompts. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Apathy -- the Christian Pandemic

Hey Friend,

First a little business -- in case you haven't noticed, my blog is no longer getting to your inbox courtesy of Feedburner. Google, which owns the Blogger platform on which I write, announced they were dropping Feedburner as a subscription service.

I had one month to come up with, and implement a "Plan B" which gave this non-tech-savvy writer a mild panic attack. After reading the pros and cons of all the services out there, I decided to go with follow.it. Please let me know, by way of a comment or email, if you are receiving my blog posts. No mail service is good if it doesn't get the mail where it needs to go...

It occurred to me, I can't remember the last time I heard a pastor preach about the second coming of Christ. In fact, I don't think I recall an expository message based on prophetic scripture since my youth.

The late A.W. Tozer wrote about what he called "the decline of apocalyptic expectation" in the contemporary church. Mind you he lived from 1897 - 1963. I wonder what his commentary would be on our modern-day church?





Christ is coming again! I believe the church has forgotten this truth. Christians, rather than being distinct from the world around them and living in expectation of their Lord's return, have become so much like the world that sometimes you can scarcely tell the difference between the two. Many churches reflect an apathetic, rather than serious, attitude toward the coming of the Lord.

Some church-goers view talking about the end-times and Christ's coming again as a downer -- a negative subject. Who wants to hear about Armageddon and ruin a perfectly good Sunday morning?

The events surrounding the second coming of Christ do come with a stern biblical warning and judgment is a prominent theme. BUT...I believe the coming of Christ is the brightest, most radiant star on our bleak horizon.

Others plead -- please don't spend an hour teaching "end time" matters on Sunday morning to people with family struggles, business and marriage failures, and a host of other emotional and physical problems. That is SO irrelevant!

Irrelevant?

In his book, The Book of Signs, Dr. David Jeremiah says this, "I can promise you with a strong degree of assurance: One minute after the Rapture, the subject won't be "irrelevant" at all. It will be the very definition of relevant."

If it's been awhile since you've read about Christ coming to catch away the saints to the marriage supper of the Lamb, while the earth is plunged into the Great Tribulation, take a gander at Matthew 24:36-44 and see if goosebumps don't rise up on your arms.





Q: What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?

A: I don't know and I don't care.

I believe that's kind of the way many feel about the Rapture. They don't know and they don't really care.

Jesus warned about three different attitudes about His coming again. Let's call them the Three "C's":

Cavalier Attitude:  Just as the days of Noah were, so also will be the days before the coming of the Son of Man. Before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 

Genesis 6:5 tells us that when the Lord looked down upon His creation He "saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." 

When you read all the horrible stuff reported in the news, do you wonder how could anyone ever think up something so evil? That's the way it was just before the Flood. 





Noah preached and warned about the coming flood for one hundred twenty years. That's a long time to preach one message, but no one wanted to hear about "judgment." Quite possibly they told Noah he was irrelevant and politically incorrect. 

In 2 Peter 3:3-6, Peter is saying the time immediately before Christ's return will be just as it was during Noah's day. I wonder if they wished they'd heeded Noah's warning?

Careless Attitude:  1 Thessalonians 5:2 reminds us, "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." Just because the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly, and just because we don't see this taking place right under our noses, doesn't mean we can become careless in our attitude. 

Other people get robbed, develop fatal illnesses, have their marriages fail, or lose their savings. Jesus warns against a careless, reckless, self-deceptive attitude that keeps insisting, "It can't happen to me." It can and it will. One day God will say, "That's enough."

Callous Attitude:  I believe many put off making a decision for the Lord because it's "not convenient." Perhaps they've got some wild oats to sow or some crazy, self-indulgent things they want to do. They think they've got it all figured out -- at the first whiff of Jesus coming again -- then they'll pull their life together. It's kind of a callous procrastination. 

This same attitude goes for believers. One of the greatest lies Satan deludes us with is this: There is plenty of time. I know I've thought to myself, I'll have that conversation with my neighbor tomorrow. I'll write my son about the hope that lies within me -- tomorrow. 

Stubbornly, we always think there will be a tomorrow, but just as the door on the ark closed, so is the Son of Man coming at an hour we do not expect. Let's not wait until the time is convenient. Even if the world mocks you like they did Noah, let's have an attitude of radiant expectation vs. lackluster apathy.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for having an "I'll get to it tomorrow" attitude when it comes to sharing with others the greatest truth of all time. Let me not be cavalier, careless, or callous when it comes to getting right with you or sharing hope with those who need to know even if they don't want to know. I thank you for your persistence in your long-suffering so that the whole world may know your abundant and saving grace. Let me be your messenger. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

What about you? What's your attitude? Are you willing to be like Noah even if the world mocks you? What holds you up? What urges you on? Will you share? Be blessed...















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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Why We Can't Afford Not to be Bold

Hey Friend,

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)

As I look back over the past year and a half as well as the days, months, and years leading up to today, I don't think you have to be a theologian or Biblical scholar to recognize God's hand of favor is no longer resting on the once loyal shoulder of the US because He will only be our God if we will be His people. 

I believe we are in the "yet once more" season of God shaking the earth "so that those things which cannot be shaken remain." It's almost as if we are consciously trying to provoke God's judgment. 

Some of the signs of a nation heading to judgment include societal division, civil disrest, disorder, lawlessness, raising of idols, sexual immorality and perversion, violence, overturning our moral and constitutional foundation, abolishing God's Name and His holy Word, and killing of the innocent and unborn. All these things are taking place right before our eyes and some days I am flummoxed at how so many keep right on going and doing as if nothing is amiss. 

"Some of the racial conflicts that we are having today are happening because race has become an idol." -- Tony Evans (Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, and African American citizen)





I have read and studied prophecy in the Bible (which accounts for over 30% of scripture). I think we are remiss, as the body of Christ, in not talking about it because I believe we are witnessing something beyond just judgment -- the very times of prophecy being fulfilled. 

Before you write me off as a conspiracy theorist or a prophecy lunatic, Jesus spoke, at length, regarding end-times prophecy. Today, very well respected pastors, preachers, and theologians are sounding this same alarm. Franklin Graham, in the latest issue of Decision magazine says, "The Bible says, 'For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work' (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Behind the ever-rising tide of violence, rage and anarchy is the evil one, the devil himself, spreading his wickedness in increasing intensity. The sheer brutality that has infected our culture is shocking, but not to our adversary who delights in it."

Franklin Graham goes on to say, "One day -- and I believe soon -- the lawless one will be revealed, and that is none other than the rise of the antichrist in the Great Tribulation." 

In Matthew 24, Jesus lays out, for His disciples, a sobering description of the woes which would take place before the end of the age: In addition to wars, there would be famines and pestilence (we've witnessed plagues, viruses, and a pandemic) (Matthew 24:7). Knowledge would increase -- how about by leaps and bounds (Daniel 12:4), but so would immorality. 





The love of many would grow cold (Matthew 24:9). Children would turn against their parents and parents against their children. Men would become despisers of faith, and believers would be persecuted (Matthew 24:9). I used to feel like I could freely express my faith, but now the circle of comfort has greatly diminished. 

The Apostle Paul wrote that men would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers,...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:2-4). And, he describes in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 a great "falling away." Only 6% of Americans now hold a Biblical worldview and it's been quickly shrinking. God is gathering the Jewish population from all ends of the earth back to Israel and armies are rising up and raging against Israel. All these prophecies are coming to pass. 

I used to think it would have been so unbelievably cool to have lived in Biblical times. Well, I'll be darned if I'm not already there. I believe I am part of the generation which will have the greatest privilege and highest honor to have been chosen to witness these things and to live in such a time as this.





Many are turning to fear, but I believe all of these occurences are cause for encouragement and power if you are a believer. The fact that God told us all these things (in scripture) before they occurred, tells us God is still very much in control and very much on the throne. Though darkness surrounds us, we know Jesus -- the Light of the world is coming again and we are assured of our salvation and eternity with Him. 

We are not to fear, but we need to live all the more assured, more bold and more strengthened. Why? We need to stand up for what we believe, share the Good News of the Gospel with those who don't know. We need to -- as our military says -- "Leave no man behind!" Time is of the essence.

"If the dark is getting darker, it's time for the lights to go light up the world. If the world is going from bad to worse, now is the time for God's children to go from good to great." - Jonathan Cahn 

What say you? Can you afford not to be bold? 



ps. If you've enjoyed what you've read here today -- might you want to SUBSCRIBE to my weekly blog posts (and nothing else)? Head to the SUBSCRIBE tab above and be sure to check for the link which will come in the confirmation email. Thanks for reading...be blessed.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday Confessions of a "Good Girl"

Hey Friend,

The scripture from Matthew, detailing Jesus's crucifixion on Good Friday, echoed off the battleship-grey cinderblock walls. I secretly watched the women seated around me squirm in their metal folding chairs as our Bible study leader read the searing words aloud.

These were convicting words being read to convicts. Their crimes ranged from drug offenses, to extortion and fraud, all the way to aggravated assault and homicide. But, the extreme beauty of these women is they knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they needed a Savior. Meeting in a Bible study, made possible through Prison Fellowship, was their lifeline to confronting, and moving beyond, their past.




I'd heard the Easter story every since I was young enough to attend Sunday School class. Visions of felt board characters showing Jesus in the garden, Jesus on the cross, and Jesus risen from the empty grave meandered into the forefront of my conscience.

As I listened to the inmates share stories of abuse, abortion, and missing their babies outside the prison walls, I realized what a stark contrast lay between my conscience and theirs.

You see, I pretty much played the role of the "good girl" in my early life. I was the consummate people-pleaser. I colored inside the lines; stayed out of the principal's office; didn't curse, drink, smoke, or do drugs. So when the subject of Jesus dying for my sins came up, I secretly had this notion He died more for other people's sins -- the really big sins like adultery, robbery, and murder, than for mine.

Maybe that's why Good Friday didn't really undo me and then leave me awestruck until I was quite a bit older. I was forty-three when I saw Mel Gibson's very graphic depiction of Jesus's crucifixion in The Passion of the Christ.





Watching spikes (not nails) being driven into the sinewy flesh of Christ's hands and feet, and blood-laced sweat pour from His brow; witnessing the raw skin and bone torn open on His back -- that's when I saw my sin for what it truly was for the very first time, and only then did I feel the tremendous weight of my transgressions which ushered in the utter sweetness of my salvation. 

Crouched and hidden in a dark theatre, tears welled up and then burned down my cheeks as this self-described "good girl" took inventory of the sin she had glossed over for so many years. Conviction grabbed hold of my heart and made it impossible for me to believe Christ died only for those with sins more grave than mine. My sins had broken His body -- not just someone else's.

Daring to look more closely, self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, as well as endless earning, striving, performing, and people-pleasing jumped out like a glowing neon sign -- PRIDE! I think pride is perhaps the ugliest sin of all -- when we think we can be like Jesus without Jesus.

And what about the times I had heaped guilt upon myself when I said or did something I regretted. Me, beating myself up, was not God-honoring -- just the opposite. It was like I was saying Jesus paying the price for my sin was not sufficient, and therefore God needed me to do something above and beyond what Christ had already done for me. Pride, once again, reared its ugly head.

And then there was the perfectionist/controlling part of me. I thought I was in God's good graces because I tried extra hard to be perfect and I sought to have control over my life. I had missed, or perhaps skimmed over, the verses that said:

For ALL (emphasis mine) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  

And this:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do NOTHING (emphasis mine)." (John 15:5)

And finally:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)





I was not unlike the women I met with, and set myself above, in prison. In fact, they were far ahead of me because they realized how desperately they needed a Savior. I was still being made a prisoner by my own pride.

Until His sacrifice met me where I lived, until I recognized I was a rebel and a far cry from felt-board Jesus, I was unable to understand and claim the grace and power which defied death and overcame the grave.

Jesus didn't go to the cross for good girls and boys. He went for sinners -- sinners like me. Grasping the depth of His love which paid a debt I could never ever pay humbles me and brings me to my knees. 

Oh, what a Savior, oh what grace that saved a wretch like me...





Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for my arrogance and pride that kept me from knowing the utter sweetness of my salvation. You laid down your life for me -- for my sins. Thank you loving me so much you couldn't bear to live without me. Let that sink into my stubborn spirit. Thank you for declaring I belong to You. What a friend I have in you, Jesus! I praise you nothing can change the way you love me -- nothing can separate me from your love. You broke the chains that held me. Your forgiveness is like honey on my lips. Let them declare your love, power, and glory all of my days. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you? Have you ever taken Jesus death on the cross for granted? Why is that? How can you go forward and live a life that points others to Jesus? How does Good Friday and the power of the risen Christ change your life? Your outlook? Will you share?

Be blessed....




Open House Giveaway Still Going On: If you've enjoyed what you read here today and would like to receive my weekly blog posts (and nothing else) AND you'd like to be entered to win a copy of Take Heart: 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay, all you have to do is SUBSCRIBE to my blog at the tab above or click HERE Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Open House, GIVEAWAY & Upcoming Posts

Welcome to my Blog Open House...





I've been doing some major spring cleaning and sprucing up. Like my home spring cleaning, this was long overdue. Funny how we said if we had more time we'd get to all those little unfinished projects. Then, COVID hit. We had more time on our hands, but ironically those projects -- at least my projects, still remain on the "to-do" list. 

So, here we are...here you are...and here are a few things to check out while you're here:

WELCOME TO MY "NEW AND IMPROVED BLOG!!" Check out the updated info on all the tabs above. This is what makes me want to get up each day. Read about a ministry in "Missions" that is shining a bright light in a dark corner of the world. Click on the two devotional pictures on the sidebar and you can easily order a special devotional gift for someone for Easter or Mother's Day!!

WRITER FRIENDS - CHECK OUT THE BLOGS I FOLLOW - YOUR BLOG MAY BE FEATURED?! I love sharing your words with my readers. If you aren't on the current "Blogs I Follow" list, email me and let me know you'd like to be added to the rotating list. I want my readers to be encouraged at YOUR site! We're all arrows pointing to the same Lord and Savior.

GIVEAWAY TIME: 

SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG OR leave a message on Facebook or Instagram and automatically be entered to win a copy of Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay. (US and Canada only) Just go to the SUBSCRIBE tab above. Go to CONNECT WITH ME to comment on Facebook or Instagram. Good luck!
 
 



Look for upcoming posts in this series:

~What to Do When God Says, "Wait"     

~When God Finally Says, "Go"

If you want to be sure to get these posts, just go to the SUBSCRIBE tab above and you will receive my weekly blog posts (and nothing else). 

Thanks so much for stopping by...

Be blessed...





Sunday, February 28, 2021

When God Says, "No" - Plus GIVEAWAY

WELCOME TO MY "NEW AND IMPROVED BLOG!!" Check out the updated info on all the tabs above. This is what makes me want to get up each day. Click on the two devotional pictures in the sidebar and you can easily order a a special gift for someone for Easter or Mother's Day!!

WRITER FRIENDS - CHECK OUT THE BLOGS I FOLLOW - YOUR BLOG MAY BE FEATURED. I love sharing your words with my readers. If you aren't on the current "Blogs I Follow" list, email me and let me know you'd like to be added to the rotating list.

Grab a cup of java and read one of my recent posts below. I'm so glad you're here. 

SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG OR leave a message on Facebook or Instagram and automatically be entered to win a copy of Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay. (US and Canada only)

Hey Friends,


I had been gathering "life research" for almost sixty years. I'd journalled, written blog posts, and stored up experiences and lessons in my mind, all the while asking God, "Is it time, yet?" To which He'd whisper to my heart, "Not yet."

So, when I got this undeniable nudge, from God, in the early months of 2020 to begin writing the book which had been churning around inside me, this thoroughbred hit the dirt running as if the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby had suddenly been thrown open.

COVID-19 hit and I buckled down even more - almost glad to have more time to write without distraction. I was blessed to participate in an awesome but grueling book proposal bootcamp. For months, I forgot to eat meals and the hours flew by as I hunkered down writing words I was certain God ordained for me to write. 

I'd dreamed of being a writer since I was a little girl and here, just before my 60th birthday, it was going to come true. Except it didn't. Ultimately, seven writers' proposals were chosen for potential publication. Mine wasn't one of them. 

"Why, God?" I whined. That's not fair I thought to myself. I'd sacrificed a lot and had put many important relationships on "hold" to pursue what I was certain was God's calling. It made no sense. Why would God call me to it only to just say, "No?"




When God says, "No," our reaction is to think He's not being fair. 

As my dad used to say, "Fair is where you go to get cotton candy." (grumble, grumble)

If I was a writer for a magazine and my editor asked me to write a story for the upcoming edition then told me she wasn't going to print it, I would be justified in saying, "That's not fair."

But, God is not my employer and I'm not His employee. He is my Father and I am His child and that changes things dramatically. Sometimes Fatherly love and wisdom together equal a "no." I need only remember times Ive said "no" to my children - not because I wanted to steal there joy but because I saw the bigger picture. Perhaps I was protecting them from something, or perhaps my "no" was leading to an even more important "yes." I knew better because I was the parent.

As God's children we don't get everything we ask for because we don't really know what's best for us. 

Here are a few categories in which God says, "No.":

1. Sin: God will always say "no" to sin. We're not just talking about the "big" sins like murder, stealing, or adultery. Actually sin is sin and it's the more insidious sins like jealousy, pride, anger, or wrong attitudes that trip us up. It's not a sin to experience anger, but if I lash out at my husband because of how I feel, that's sin. Or, if someone wrongs me and I harbor unforgiveness because I feel justified in clinging to my grudge, I'm sinning. 

God gives us the guardrails of His Word. When we obey and stay within their confines we experience joy. 





When God says, "No" to our sin, He is fighting for our ultimate joy.

2. Comfort: God often says, "No" to our comfort. We are to make ourselves "living sacrifices" according to God's Word (Romans 12:1). I admit I have tried to wiggle off the sacrificial altar a time or ten. When I have to choose between my comfort or dying to my comfort, it's not fun. God is asking whether I will choose self or am I willing to dye to self? Sacrifice is not comfortable.

I can relay many stories about experiencing anything but comfort. If given a choice, I imagine few of us would choose pain and suffering over comfort and happiness. Hindsight is 20/20. When I look back over those times, it is clear God was in the process of humbling me or transforming me. In Luke 9:23 we are encouraged to take up our cross: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Taking up our cross will not be comfortable.

We won't experience true Life unless we die to self.

3.  Dreams: God will occassionally say, "No" to dreams. When this happens, like it did to me, we want to shout, "Why?" - especially if we feel we are in line with His will. This is when we have to embrace perhaps the hardest challenge - to look beyond the "WHY" and focus on the "WHO" saying, "No." 

Why? = Focus on me.      Who? = Focus on God.

When I focus on what I don't get, I've forgotten about what I have already received.

I have received the very best "YES" - my salvation which I did not deserve.

I deserved death, but God said, "NO" to death and "YES" to life for me.

Jesus, literally sweating blood, begged His Father to be spared from the cup of a tortuous death on the cross and God gave a "no" that forever changed the world. We can measure God's compassion by the cross - the seizmic "no" that threw open wide the gates of heaven for us.





God doesn't need to explain Himself to me. Perhaps I need to embrace the answer I didn't want because it is leading to joy beyond my wildest imagination. Or maybe, I need to embrace the "no" because I am being transformed into Christ's image and He accepted the greatest "no" that was ever given...for me.

Dear Heavenly Father, You have given me so many blessings. Enable me to accept the "no's" graciously. I praise you I have an eternal "yes" because Jesus accepted the greatest "no" in order to save me. Teach me to respond as Jesus did, "Not my will, but Yours be done." Let me dwell in your Word so that I may be obedient in obeying your commands and run from sin. Help me not to value my comfort too greatly and be willing to serve others by sacrificing my time, talent, and treasure. I acknowledge your "no" may be paving the way to a greater "yes." But, even if not, let me humbly accept your sovereignty, mystery, and unfathomable goodness, even when my dream is not answered in the affirmative. Let me lean into the "Who" and forget the "Why?" It is in the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

What about you...has God ever said "no" to you? What was your reaction? Was God trying to protect you? Transform you? Humble you? Do you ever squirm under the call to be a living sacrifice? Any lessons you've learned that you'd care to share?  

Be Blessed...

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