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  He fuels my pain as I lash out or become withdrawn or paranoid.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 curse...it 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.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Am I Really Seeing?

Hey Friend,

My guide "Word" for 2016 has been the word, "See".  I have asked God to challenge me to truly look beyond the surface...to stop glancing and to really see.  He has challenged me to slow down and look into peoples' eyes - to see what's on their heart.  He's challenged me to see Him in all of Creation that He's given me and to not take the slightest inchworm for granted.  He's challenged me to look upon my own heart and see what is really there and if I need transforming, then to submit myself to the cutting knife of the transforming surgeon's love.

As a way to wind up my year of "seeing", I would like to share excerpts of a chapter from Ann Voskamp's book, "The Greatest Gift - Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas."

"People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Ann writes:

"Looking comes first," is what C.S. Lewis writes in 'The Great Divorce.'  "Looking comes first if you're ever to find the life you want, if you are ever to 'see you a king.'"

Always, always - first the eyes.  Joy is a function of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of perspective.  You only begin to change your life when you begin to change the way you see....

It's the whole of humanity who live fixated on facades, blinded to the realest real.  The shiny shell of things can bind you and blind you.  It's a veiled God who elevates the veiled things:  the heart, the interior, the soul.  And it's a temporal world that elevates the foil and the plastic, the status and the skills, the physical and the tangible - all this concrete mirage.  Humanity obsesses with vapors, not eternity...

People aren't bodies; they are hearts.  We could train our eyes to turn everything inside out.

"Why should the eye be so lazy? Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see,"  writes G.K. Chesterton.  

Let us exercise the eye until it sees through the fat of things, down to the eternal of things.  Let us exercise the eye by walking with Christ.

There is this call for every Christian to answer His calling to be an ocular surgeon.  

Our seeing must cut through surfaces down to souls.

You could close your eyes and ask it, see it....

Is my life about the heart of things?  Is this my Christmas?

Am I deeply absorbed in Him and the heart of things?  Or is my life a shallow absorption with surfaces?....

The world - it seems different these few weeks of Advent. It sees different. Each day of Advent, we enter deeper into the story of Christ...and enter deeper into Him.  And it's Him who gives us eyes to really see.

To see past surfaces, to the heart of things - all the way down to the love....

The most brilliant, beautiful Person in the universe lost his physical attraction (Isaiah 53) so that we, being spiritually unsightly, could be beautiful in the eyes of God....

"O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with the visible things.  The world has been too much with me.  Thou hast been here and I know it not.  I have been blind to Thy presence.  Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me.  For Christ's sake, Amen."  (A.W. Tozer)

Be blessed....

ps.  It's not too late to make a Christmas contribution to Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
Send checks to:

RCF, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513
For credit giving visit our website:  http://redeemerchristianfoundation.org/donate/

* Tax receipts will be sent in January.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Love Story In An Unlikely Place

Hey Friend,

To be quite honest with you, this segment of scripture was never my "favorite". Perhaps because I don't like war and warfare.  I detest the battle scenes in movies.  

I really don't like thinking about spiritual warfare because, frankly, it scares me at times.  I don't relish the thought of the enemy of my soul coming after me...who does?

When I've read this segment of scripture before, I'd picture myself standing there in ill-fitting armor that was two sizes too big because it was made for a warrior.  I may be a prayer warrior, but please don't send me into battle.

I invite you to read this segment of scripture and let me share with you what Jesus lovingly shared with me...

Christian Warfare

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics[a] of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,
with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.[b]
16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Jesus knows that in our own strength we are toast.  Because He loves us so, He wants to strengthen us by HIS vast strength.  He could choose to give us a sword or a shield, but no, He gives us a custom-fitted FULL armor of God because He doesn't want anything or anyone to touch us because we are His beloved.

Notice how He doesn't suit us up and then say, "Go get 'em tiger" and send us out into battle.  Just the opposite.  He lovingly suits us up so that we can resist in the evil day.  Resisting is not an "offensive" maneuver, it's defensive.  

Jesus is our great defender.  He wants to protect us while HE goes to battle for us.  

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."  (Exodus 14:14)

So what does He tell us to do...He tells us to stand.  After He completely suits us up He commands us to stand while He fights.  

So what is this suit of armor for, then?  It's for protection during the battle. Jesus knows that the enemy is going to shoot his flying, lying, fiery arrows toward us and He wants us to be safe.  

Safe how?

Let's look:

"Stand, with truth like a belt around your waist,"...

The enemy will come at you with lies, deception, discouragement, doubt, condemnation, every un-truth because he seeks to disable and devour.

"You are not worthy of being loved," he says.  

The belt of truth says that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made and that the Lord loves you and delights over you with singing."

"You are not saved.  Because of your sin, God condemns you,"  he says.

The armor of righteousness (the piece of armor right over our heart) says, "Therefore there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  When we believe in Christ as our Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us.  In God's sight we are pure.  Our hearts are forever SAFE.

"You are a failure.  You are incapable - you'll never measure up,"  he says.

The shield of faith, soaked in the blood of Jesus, extinguishes the enemy's fiery arrows.  Faith says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me."  

"You are not forgiven.  God will never forgive you," he says as he invades your mind with all kinds of negative self talk.

Jesus lovingly places the helmet of salvation on our head - the piece of armor that protects our mind.  He reminds us, that through Him, we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west.  We can take all the enemy's lies captive to Him and He will destroy them.   

"You are going to lose.  You aren't going to make it.  I will destroy you," the enemy sneers.

But Jesus.  But Jesus gives us the sword of the Spirit which is God's word.  At the name of Jesus the enemy must flee and at the Word of God the enemy must bow down.  

Whatever lie the enemy comes at us with, Jesus has given us a formidably more powerful Word of Truth to combat it.  

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as our wise counselor to STAND with us and to reassure us of His constant presence. 

He protects our feet so that we will be ready to move forward to spread the gospel of peace.   

The gospel of peace tells me that His grace is sufficient for me and in His grace I can STAND.  

To me, this sounds more like a love story than a war epic.  Jesus covers every square inch of us in the armor of God so that we will be safe.  

But we must take it from His hand and put it on.  His heart, beating with love for you, is stretching out His mighty hand and He's saying, "Beloved, put this on so you will be safe.  Put this on while I fight for you.  Take heart, O one that I love. Though the enemy rages, I have already defeated him.  He cannot have you...you are mine.  Now and forever,  I love you.  The battle for your heart has been won.  Until I come again....stand."

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you that the Bible is your love letter to me.  Thank you for reminding me, time and time again that the battle has been won.  Thank you for sacrificing your Son so that my salvation would be secure.  Thank you Lord Jesus that you fight for me.  You suit me up so that I will be safe and you have defeated the enemy.  When thoughts are being shot at me like arrows, enable me to put on the armor that you have so lovingly made for me.  Let me put on Your truth, righteousness, and salvation.  Enable me to stand in my faith in you armed with the sword of your Word.  Thank you for loving me this 
much.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Be blessed....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inspiring Music Video Debut - Giving Tuesday

Hey Friend,

Today is GIVING TUESDAY!  Giving Tuesday is a movement in response to all the commercialism around the holidays (Black Friday, Cyber Monday).

I'd like you to meet Ava, the adorable daughter of Amy who is on our Board of Directors with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  Ava made 53 custom (with beaded names) friendship bracelets for the children, Director, and teachers at our school in the Middle East.  

Ava "gets it" that Christmas is about GIVING not GETTING!

We need your help to EXPAND the school so that other orphaned and destitute children can find safe haven within the doors of our Christian School.

Would you consider matching Ava's giving heart with a donation to Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. today or during this Advent season??

You can read more about us at our website:

We have also just released our MUSIC VIDEO!!  For security and safety reasons we don't post it on uncontrolled public domains, so, please view it, but we ask you NOT to post it, share it, or forward it to others.  The security of the children is our first concern.  


Checks can be made out and sent to:

RCF, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513
(checks must be postmarked by Dec. 31st)

** RCF, Inc. is a registered 501c3 ministry and tax receipts will be sent year 

Thank you in advance...be blessed!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Year We Ate Thanksgiving Dinner on a Card Table (guest post)

Hey Friend,

Today, as I prepare for Thanksgiving, I have mixed feelings because it will not resemble a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.  Someone will be missing from the table.  I get trapped in the notion that all has to "feel well" in order for things to "be well" with my soul.  My friend, Brenda, beautifully addresses this in her post today.

I invite you to click over to one of my favorite devotional websites (in)courage where my very good friend (who happens to be an awesome writer) is sharing a "must read" post today.  She also happens to be a NC gal y'all :)

While you are dishing out the sweet potato casserole this week, I invite you to take time to dish out some sweet grace upon your soul. It may just be the best gift you give yourself.  

The coffee is sweet and hot and I welcome you to join me with Brenda Ottinger over at (in)courage.  

Also, if you are burned out already with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the commercialism onslaught, I invite you to join me at the Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. website.  TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH IS GIVING TUESDAY.  

Would you prayerfully consider making a donation (any size makes a big difference) before you leave the website??  Donations can be made by check or credit card and tax receipts will be sent out.  Will you give, this Christmas, to those whose NEEDS are so much greater than your WANTS???  

Let's fashion this Christmas after the greatest gift that was given to us...

May you be blessed this Thanksgiving and always...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why My Eyes Are Focused On The Future

Hey Friend,

With all the things going on in our world, including the election, now more than ever I have my sights set on the future - my eternal future.  I'm not going so far as to be, as my mother would say, "So heavenly minded that I'm no earthly good."

As I get older, and I've witnessed the atrocities happening in our world, I feel less and less like I belong here.  I see the Word of God being shoved farther and farther into a corner and the lump in my throat grows.  

If you feel at home, content, comfortable in this world....I challenge you to ask yourself if something is wrong with this picture??  We are not meant to feel at home here because, frankly, as believers, this is not our home. We are citizens of Heaven.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us.  Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.  (1 Chronicles 29:15)

Not that we aren't supposed to make a difference in this world, but we are not to treat this life like this is all there is.

Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and exiles (temporary residents), to abstain from the desires of the flesh, which war against your soul.  (1 Peter 2:11)

Let's face it - while we are on this earth we are continually at war with our earthly flesh and the temptations that beckon to it.  

So why do Christians rarely talk about the Rewards that await us in Heaven??

Contrary to popular thought, we will not be sitting around on clouds strumming our harps...there will be jobs to be done, commands to be carried out, and joy and fun to be had. Eternity is forever and I would certainly get bored with doing nothing for infinite days on end. God has great plans for us and He has a method in mind for handing out rewards and assigning jobs and tasks.  

No, we can't earn our salvation.  We know that "By grace we are saved by faith."  By believing that Christ died for my sins, His righteousness is imputed to me.  

But, once we are saved, this is not the green light to simply switch on cruise control.  

No, nothing will ever separate us from God or our salvation, but we are commanded to "work out our salvation".  

We want to buy into the popular concept that our righteousness is like filthy rags before God, which in a manner of speaking it is - if you are talking about righteous acts in order to earn our salvation. 

But once saved the rewards we will receive in Heaven can and should be a motive for our obedience.

But wait, shouldn't we just be obedient out of love for what Christ did for us?

Yes, but Paul states it quite plainly...

"But each will receive his own reward according to his own labor."  (1 Corinthians 3:8)

Believe it or not even Moses was motivated by rewards...

"He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Hebrews 11:26)

We have been convinced that our obedience after being saved really doesn't matter.  We like "Once saved always saved" and so we rest on our laurels.  One day, however, we will need to stand before the throne of God and account for all our deeds (good and bad) and we will need to give an account of how we have labored to advance the Kingdom.  

God will look upon our acts of obedience.  Yes, we'll fall woefully short of His perfect standards, but the question will be did you try?  or did you simply do nothing?

Will our obedience and labor be despised in this world...you bet!!  Will we be hated and even persecuted....the Bible pretty much guarantees it.

But the rewards....the REWARDS!!! The Bible also promises they will be great indeed.  

The obedience of the believer really does matter...and Yes, God is watching.  The more we practice obedience, the more He unleashes His Holy Spirit to work through us, and I believe He will work in us that which is pleasing in His sight.

Be encouraged if you feel like this world is not your home...it isn't.  Be encouraged if you labor heavily in ministry and toil for the glory of God and the cause of Christ.  

Let Paul's word's resound in your ears:

"Your labor is not in vain."  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

And God will say:

"Well done, good and faithful servant!!"  (Matthew 25:21)

I can't wait to put on the crown of victory and glory knowing that I ran the race before me.  I did my best to be obedient to his Word.  I worked out my salvation and sought to bring glory to Jesus Christ.  

No, it won't be perfect (it can't be), but it will be pleasing in my Father's sight and that's good enough for me.

Do you feel "at home" in the world or do you feel like a foreigner passing through?  If you are saved, how are you "working out your salvation"?  What do you think Heaven is going to look like and how do you envision your role in eternity?

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that you knew there was no way for me to earn my salvation (all my attempts are filthy rags) and so you sent your Son to die for me.  Thank you for guaranteeing me a place in the great, great House of God in Heaven for eternity.  Thank you for cleansing me through the blood of your precious Son, Jesus.  Lord, help me not to switch on cruise control. Keep my eyes focused on the future glory to come.  Help me be obedient to your Word and to love you and work out my salvation through obedience to you.  Like Moses, keep my eyes focused on the rewards to come...let that be the prize for which I run the race before me.  Grant me perseverance and hope as I walk through my days on this earth. I claim your promises you have given me in your Word.  Be with me now, O Lord.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps.  Thursday, Nov. 24th is Thanksgiving.  Friday the 25th is Black Friday.  Monday the 28th is Cyber Monday and TUESDAY NOVEMBER 29th is GIVING TUESDAY!!!

Instead of putting the focus on commercially driven buying and receiving, will you help us put the emphasis on GIVING??

If you'd like to donate to Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. by check or credit...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A New View Of God

Hey Friend,

Ever since I was a little girl in Sunday School, I've always had a positive, warm and fuzzy feeling about Jesus.  I remember, vividly, in our illustrated Bibles, the picture of Jesus seated and beckoning all the little children to come and climb into His arms and His lap.  He smiled kindly as He spoke...

But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them!"  (Matthew 19:14)

Exclamation points are not often used in the Bible, so the fact that Jesus made this a very emphatic statement has always stuck with me.

I have to admit that my way of seeing God, as being so kind, was through Jesus' statement to Philip...

"Anyone who has seen me sees the Father."  (John 14:9)

Okay, so if I see all the love that Jesus pours out - saving sinners from being stoned, washing others' feet, inviting doubters to touch his scarred hands, healing lepers, etc., then I could transpose those warm fuzzies from Jesus onto God.

Even still, I had this lingering doubt that God could be so loving and forgiving. After all, I'd read about the plagues, and His anger with the disobedient Israelites, and the Great Flood.  I could still envision God sitting on His throne, making hash marks on His great tally sheet of how many times I'd screwed up. 
You too??

Well then I invite you to join me in meditating on a segment of scripture that I've been allowing to sink in.  I encourage you to read it slowly and linger on the words I have put in bold print.  Let's look at it together...

Ephesians 1: 3-14:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us.  With all wisdom and understanding he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works our everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who ARE God's possession - to the praise of his glory. 

Look at what God, himself, has done...

He blessed us with every spiritual blessing...

He chose us to be holy...

He predestined us for adoption to sonship...

In Him we have redemption for our sins...


I especially love the word choice here...He didn't give us His grace, no, He lavished his grace upon us.

Lavished (perisseuo in Greek) means:  to have in abundance, more than enough, overflow, to have an excess amount, to abound, to bless abundantly, to bless or excel. A great degree of excess!!

God, in His great love for us, drenches us in His grace.  Picture yourself standing under a rushing waterfall of His love and grace pouring down upon you... completely soaking you...blessing you abundantly and never ceasing.  Getting the picture??

He made known to us wisdom...

He purposed His good pleasure...

He brings unity...

In Him we were chosen, predestined, and included in Christ...


Our simply "being" (no doing required) brings praise of His glory.

You were marked with a seal showing His ownership....

Your inheritance has been guaranteed...

You ARE His praise-worthy possession.  

Now and Forever...

I hope you see the smile on God's face when He looks at you...YOU, his daughter...his son, in whom He delights and takes great, great pleasure!

He rejoices over you with singing for YOU are His prized possession...so much so that He has marked you with the seal of the Holy Spirit so that no one, no thing can snatch you out of His loving hands.  

He didn't begrudgingly give, nor did He dribble or drizzle His love and grace upon you, no, He LAVISHED it upon you.  He poured out all of himself - the very blood of His Son Jesus - so that He could live with you forever in eternity.  

He sent His Son to die....rather than to live without YOU!!!

If this doesn't speak of a God who loves you, then I don't know what does???

What hinders you from seeing God as loving you?  How have you characterized God?  Do you believe that He loves YOU with an unceasing love?  If not, would you pray with me to receive the TRUTH of His mercy, grace, and love?

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for the misconceived notions I've had about you.  Help me to remove the human traits I've placed upon you. Help me to understand that you don't get disappointed in me.  You don't lose your patience with me.  You won't ever give up on me no matter what.  Thank you God that you are unchanging and that means your love for ME is unchanging too.  Enable the Truth that you want to LAVISH your grace, mercy, and love upon me to sink deep into my spirit.  Help me to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am your prized possession - your child in whom you are well pleased.  I claim a new view of you God - one that beckons me to come to you and one that holds me in your everlasting arms.  In the precious name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lord, I Want A New Name

Hey Friend,

Lately, I've been intrigued with how, in the Bible, God and Jesus were continually giving people new names.  I've wondered - what's with all this new name giving?  Why do they do this?

Just a few characters in the "change of name parade" are:  Paul, Abraham, Sarah, Peter, Jacob, and Joshua.  Most of the changes are positive...but not always. 

Going all the way back in the Old Testament, God gave Abram (which meant many or multitude) the new name Abraham.  

"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called friend of God.  (James 2:23)

God called him Abraham because he was a friend to him.  God and Abraham shared a closeness and trust that only true friends share.  Abraham was loyal and dependable - certainly traits you want to have in a friend.

God often changed names to describe some NEW characteristic of a person.

The first thing Andrew did after deciding to follow Jesus was to find his brother Simon and tell him.  "We have found the Messiah" (that is the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.  

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John.  You will be called Cephas" (which translated, is Peter).   (John 1: 41-42)

"Cephas is Aramaic for "rock".  Jesus was calling Peter a rock - a rock on which He would build his church.

Ironically, Peter was anything but a rock; he was impulsive and unstable.  Yet, in Acts, he was a pillar of the early church.

Jesus named him not for what he was, but for what, by God's grace, he would become.

The last example I'll share is Jacob.  Deep-seated family hostilities characterized Jacob's life.  Jacob was considered by some to be ruthless.  He was a con artist, a liar, and a manipulator.  In fact, the name Jacob not only means "deceiver," but more literally it means "grabber."

Jacob tried to flee his troubles in Laban, but only more trouble lay up ahead. Jacob was a man full of fears and anxieties.  Jacob was struggling with fear, darkness, loneliness, vulnerability, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion, depression, and relentless pain....anything sound familiar??? 

At one point Jacob falls fast asleep in the wilderness and that night an angelic stranger visited Jacob.  They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak.  It was then that Jacob knew what had happened:  "I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."  (Genesis 32:30)

In the process Jacob was given a new name - Israel - which means "He struggles or wrestles with God."

So what do all these stories have in common?  

When we encounter God...and I mean a "Saul-get-knocked-off-his- horse-on-the-road-to-Damascus" type of encounter...God gives us a new name. (Like he gave Paul).

When we encounter God/Jesus we are FOREVER changed...we are a new creation.

By God's grace we become something more than we already are.  God sees our potential.

Abraham believed God.  He trusted in the impossible.

Peter, through encountering God's grace, became the Rock on which the church was built.

Jacob struggled and wrestled with God.  His blessing inevitably followed the struggle.  Real growth experience often involves struggle and pain.

I am so very thankful that God is patient with me to go from disbelief to trust (Abraham)...He sees my potential and not my ineptitude (Peter)...and He's big enough to handle my fears, doubts, anxieties, and emptiness, and after I've wrestled with Him, he will give me a new name like Israel.

Oh, Lord, I want a new name.  I want to encounter you so closely, so personally, so utterly real that I cannot help but be changed.  

Lord, see the potential in me and call me out of my self doubt into a new awareness of my identity in you.

Lord may I wrestle with you as I confront my doubts, fears, and anxieties and after awhile, may you give me a gloriously new name like Israel.

For kicks, I looked up what my name, Beverly meant.  I was not too thrilled when the etymology revealed that "Beverly" is Old English for "beaver stream".  

Not too impressed, I read on...the beaver is the 2nd largest rodent in the world. (Really not impressed).  

He is an industrious builder of dams....okay, I'm industrious and I like to build things larger than myself...getting better.

As a child before braces, I kind of had buck teeth like a beaver and I'm sort of squishy around the middle like beavers are lol.

I don't know what new name God will give me???  But I DO know that by encountering God and His Son on a deeply personal level - perhaps encounters that involve struggle and pain - there is a conversion and a transformation. Behold I am a new creation - the old is gone!!

Through the gift of surrender, true freedom is found.  By cashing in the old, I allow God to lead me in the potential way that He has always seen in me.

By coming face to face with God, it builds my endurance, my faith, my trust, my courage, and my character.  

He sets me free of my fears and anxieties...in His power.

What new name is God calling you to?  What potential lies below your imperfect surface?  What are you wrestling with that God wants to bring a blessing from?

Let us pray together:  Oh Lord, give me a new name!!  And all His people said, "Amen."

Be blessed...
ps.  Redeemer Christian School Celebrates 2nd Birthday!!

We've maxed out of our current facility with 50 children...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How To Interpret God's Silence

Hey Friend,

I've heard it said that the Teacher (God) is silent during the test.  I'll revisit this thought in a moment, but for now let's go with that theory.

I'll tell you where my mind goes...straight back to Jr. High in Miss McDowell's English class.  Miss McDowell was an older teacher - an institution at Jefferson Jr. High School.  She was rather tall and quite sturdy.  Everyday she wore dresses, matronly pumps, and fiery red lipstick on her pursed lips.  

When she administered a test, there was no talking...no sirreeee.  There was no asking questions.  Even muffled paper shuffling would make per pause and peer over her reading glasses as she sat at her desk in front of the class.  "Is there a problem Mr. Johnson?" she'd ask with the warmth of the Spanish Inquisition.

I think sometimes that's how we perceive God when we are going through a time of trial or a test.  I know I have looked at Him that way in the past.

God is not a crotchety, silent teacher administering tests and waiting for us to fail.

My view of God has shifted over the years as I have come to believe the Truth about His character.  Here is a stance I have adopted...

When things are going well (or relatively so), I believe that we are to fill our minds with His Truth...meditating on it every day.

Then, when the trials come (and they will), I don't interpret God's seeming silence as indifference or turning His back on us...just the opposite.  I believe He says lovingly and with encouragement, "Bev (Name), okay now I want YOU to speak the Truth I've taught you into your circumstances."  

I believe He does this in the apparent silence so that we can profess and speak the only Truth that will bring any form of peace, comfort, hope, joy, and love....His Holy Word.  The Truth is what sets us free!

I may be all wrong, but I do believe that God gives us opportunities (when the rubber meets the road) to confess the hope that we have within us.  

We need to keep speaking into our circumstances and calling on our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray with and for us.

So back to the initial question...is God truly silent?  I do believe that if we are walking in disobedience, God is not going to shout the Truth at us.  I also believe that sometimes, due to our circumstances and emotions, God may appear to be silent and distant.  But, that is not in keeping with His character.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God is steadfast which means He is unswerving, unalterable, He cannot be moved. His loved toward us never fails or falters.  It is changeless. 

God is as near as a whisper and He never goes "Miss McDowell" on us.  He may not be speaking to us in a way that we can hear at the moment, but He is always speaking - in His Creation, through His people, in His word.

Think about it - if we are going through a trial or test - God always gives us an "open book" test because His Word (Bible) is always available to us.  

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  (Psalm 

God may not speak audibly, but He speaks and He sustains through His Word to us.  Our job is to meditate on His Word and to ask the counselor He gives us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to be our wise guide.  

There may be times that God seems to be silent, but I'm not certain that the apparent silence isn't born out of OUR circumstances, moods, disobedience, sin, or failing to seek Him first above all things.  

I'm so thankful that God is mindful of my sinful frame and knows I am but dust. I believe He is always wanting to speak life into my life, but sometimes my prideful agenda and self-sufficiency gets in the way.  

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I'm no theologian, but I believe that God is always speaking in one form or another. When I look back at the times in my life when He seemed to be silent, I believe that I was the one who wasn't listening.

How about you?  How does God speak to you in good times?  In the midst of trials?  Has He ever seemed silent to you?  What Truth have you learned about God's character?

Dear Heavenly Father,  I praise you that you speak to me in so many ways...through the beauty of Your creation, the loving words of others, and especially through the love letter you have written to us - your Holy Word, the Bible.  Thank you for being a loving God who encourages us to speak the Truth into our circumstances.  I praise you that you are a God who coaches and encourages vs. chides and condemns.  Your will is that we would hear your voice and turn from our evil ways.  Grant me ears to hear you Lord.  Drown out the voice of the enemy.  I praise you that your steadfast love for me endures forever.  Praise be to your name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...