Choose

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1John 5:14-15

Choose to love.

Choose to forgive.

Choose to be faithful.

Choose to be kind.

Choose joy.

Choose to take one more step forward.

Without the work of the Holy Spirit those choices are impossible. And so many times, I ignore His voice and choose selfishness, insecurity, resentment, discouragement and discord.  But the moment I look up from the middle of the mess I’ve made – the bottom of the hole I’ve dug –  My good shepherd pulls me out and cleans me up again.  

And I can pray with confidence that He hears me and will answer me because it is in agreement with His will.

When I choose to move forward- he sends a breeze behind me.

When I choose joy – I hear the birds singing with me.

When I choose to be kind – It multiplies.

When I choose to be faithful- I see His constant hand of provision.

When I choose to forgive- He gives me perspective and breaks my heart over my own sin.

When I choose to love – His pure deep immeasurable love consumes me.

We celebrated 20 years of marriage last week and I am so thankful that God brought us and has kept us together.  It has not been easy, but it has been so good!  It has been daily choosing to love and forgive each other and God faithfully blessing that choice.

Whatever choices and tasks you have to make today – give them to Jesus.  Lay them at his feet.  Big or small, simple or heart wrenching.  He will take them.  He will bring you joy in obedience and surrender.    

Father, today I ask for your joy to fill me as I work. The tasks ahead of me are not things that I want to do, and I am tempted to be discouraged but you have given me this day and know all that is set before me. So, fill me with your joy and wisdom as I set to work. Let me do it for your glory! Father, it is hard for me to love today and to set aside selfishness and resentment. Forgive me and help me to love the way you love. Thank you for being faithful to forgive me. I know it is not your will for our family to live in discord. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and bind us together in your love. Thank you for the victory you have given us over the sinful desires we face daily. We are so undeserving of your grace and would be so lost without your presence. Thank you for your faithfulness!

Move

Hey sister.

We all get down on ourselves sometimes, but you can’t unpack your bags and stay there.

You’ve got to make a choice to get out of that place. Your power is in your choice – and that choice is Jesus.

With His grace you can overcome.

With His strength you can move mountains.

With His mercy you are brand new.

So pack your bags and move along. Don’t stay in a place of despair any longer than you have to.

May the flood of water not overflow me

Nor the deep swallow me up,

Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.

Psalm 69:15

Papa’s Porch

My father died when I was five, and our little family of four moved in with my mother’s parents. Papa was almost 80, Mama nearly 60. My two younger brothers and I were often herded to the porch when we were too noisy or too underfoot. Magical things happened on that porch when we were with Papa. We had front row seats to hummingbirds in mimosa trees and lightning bugs at night. The porch was our stage for performances of all kinds – circus acts, concerts with pinecone microphones, and so many tall tales. Papa was our patient audience of one.

The porch was the place Papa went to smoke his pipe. In my mind, I can still see him with one foot up on the rail, smoking his Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco. We wanted to be just like him. He made us corncob pipes, and the four of us would “smoke” and talk on the porch. To be truthful, we did the talking, and he did the listening. A quiet man with a big heart, Papagave his life to Christ in his fifties when our momma and her sister were little girls. From that time, he was a new man. Each Sunday, he drove to a nearby town to pick up the preacher for church, to their house for lunch and a nap, back to church Sunday night, then back home again.

As I read through the numerous genealogies of 1 Chronicles, I amreminded of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I see God’s faithfulness in providing our family a safe place to grieve and heal. Papa taught us how to whittle and how to garden. He took us to church and tolerated our shenanigans, but the most important things he gave us were security and unconditional love. He lived by a standard that guided us closer to knowing Jesus as Savior. I’ve learned that our heritage matters, but it’s not the DNA that matters the most. It is God living in us! I give thanks that we have a heavenly Father who knew us and chose us before we were born. 

Romans 8:15 tells us, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Daddy God! Lord, You alone are worthy of all we have to give. You are our Audience of One, the Lover of our souls. Help us to remember to “give thanks in all circumstances,” for this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus.

A Heart Transplant

The amazing human heart, the size of a large fist, beats 100,000 times per day and pumps five liters of blood throughout the body. It runs on electricity, which allows it to still beat when disconnected from the body. Ironically, this life-giving machine that signals human life at 4 weeks in the womb, has a limited ability to repair itself. The heart can not regrow new, healthy cells once it is diseased. However, there are heart transplants to give humans a new healthy heart and an improved quality of life.

Not only are heart doctors credited with performing life-saving heart transplants, but God is the Master surgeon. In Ezekiel 36:26, God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Through this verse, I found out first hand that God gives us parenting instructions!

A multitude of “boy” moms will agree that during the teenage years, an alien invasion takes place overnight. These space creatures capture our precious sons and leave us with a “stranger”. I remember asking God, “When was my loyal buddy, who was full of wonder and exhibited such a deep love for Jesus at an early age, ever going to return?” He constantly bullied his sisters and became defiant! I could not get him to hug me or talk about his problems.

I remember driving home from church one night while he incessantly cried and begged me not to tell his dad that he had been extremely disrespectful to his Awana teacher.

I WAS HIS AWANA TEACHER!

During this difficult season, my son also ruined many family meals. Secretly, I dreaded dinner-time because his bad attitude and poor appetite made all of us miserable. Why couldn’t our home be the safe, little piece of heaven it once was. My other 2 children were sick and tired of this monster living in their house.

Empty, confused, lonely, and broken-hearted- how could I fix this son of mine? I read Dr. Dobson books, prayed, joined bible-studies, cried, and begged my family to be patient and forgiving.

A few years later, God screamed out Ezekiel 36:26. There was my answer as to how to pray for my prodigal teenager! Finally, after praying this scripture, I felt at peace. As I prayed , I inserted my boy’s name over and over!! “I will give ______a new heart and put a new spirit in_______; I will take the heart of stone out of _________’s flesh and give him a heart of flesh.” This verse is etched in my heart, and brings so much faith to me.

A heart transplant took place and my prayers were answered. God gave my son a new heart, and HE is not finished!!! Everyday, I am astounded when I see my son loving his sisters, hugging, laughing, enjoying his family, hanging out with us, and just being the man who God created him to be. It is a joy to be his mom and feel the warmth and bond again.

Jesus, thank you for providing me with the exact words to pray for my child.

Freedom

Isaiah 62:4 “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

I’m red, white, and blue through and through. I love the United Stated of America, it’s rich history and the ideals upon which it was founded. I’m so grateful for the people who fought and died in order for me to enjoy the freedoms that I have. But the older I get and the crazier the world gets the more I realize I’m no longer a citizen of this world. The words of Beulah Land echo for me.

Beulah Land,

I’m longing for you

And some day on

thee I’ll stand

There my home

shall be eternal

Beulah Land- Sweet Beulah Land

As a Christian I can wrap myself up in the fact that this is not my forever home. It’s just a tiny segment of the eternity that awaits me. When I gave my life to Jesus I became an eternal citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). I have a house there. (John 14:2) I have loved ones waiting on me there. (2 Corinthians 5:8) On God’s timeline I’m already there (Ephesians 2:6). I will one day enter the gates and truly feel at home.

As we celebrate the freedoms we have in this country I pray that you also have the freedom that Christ provides. If you don’t walk in the certainty that there is something better and that your eternity is secure then make today be the day you give your life to Jesus.

Be the church

Don’t get my words twisted.

Get to church. Find a church. The Bible says not to forsake gathering together. It’s so important.

But if you can’t make it.
For whatever reason.
Maybe you’re sick.
Maybe you’re traveling.

Bring the church to you.

That’s what I did last weekend. Thank you live streaming. In a hotel laundromat I brought the church to me. Sidebar – technology isn’t bad – it’s how we use it that makes it good or bad.

I digress, in the hotel laundromat I felt revival in my soul. I worshipped. I praised. I was convicted.

It was so good.

And if there was a camera in that room the people watching it will see a 40 year old lady in a Britney Spears t-shirt raising her hands and saying amen. And I may have even cried.

It was good, y’all. It was good.

Get to church.
Bring the church to you.
But most importantly – be the church.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

Love holds us together

What does God expect from us as christians – especially in today’s world? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes and neither have His expectations. He expects the same of us now as He did in the beginning, and He created us for such a time as this. That means that He has equipped us with everything we need to fulfill His plan and purpose for our lives.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

This verse clearly says that God created us to do good works. We as christians know that good works do not get us into Heaven, but God still expects it as a result of our salvation. In order to do this we have to have total dependance on God. You know, take up our cross and follow Him. We are obviously not all the same, so we have different things He has called us to do, but there are two very important things He expects from each and every christian.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

God expects us to love Him first with everything we have in every day. We must surrender to him each day and allow everything that flows from us to come from Him. We have to have a total dependance on Him to help us with every single task we face each day no matter how small or big. Loving God first is crucial to our lives because with it we seek him, we strive for righteousness, we obey, and in turn we gain peace, wisdom,and knowledge to handle the things of this life. Loving God more than anything gives us the capability to carry out the second expectation, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God wants us to show brotherly love and kindness and to genuinely have concern for others and care about the needs of our fellow believers. Love is what holds believers together in the faith. We are here to meet each other’s needs by serving, praying, and etc. In this same measure we should also show this love and kindness to unbelievers. Here again we need total dependance on God in order to help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so we can spread the gospel. We should have a burden for the lost, but also be careful in the way we present our beliefs. God doesn’t want us to argue with an unbeliever, only to plant the seed, show loving kindness, and then let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

There are so many opportunities to spread the love of God and to be sure we are always looking for a way to serve, whether we are among fellow believers or in the presence of an unbeliever, without expecting anything in return!! We have to become humble servants just as Jesus did and never think that we are better than anyone!!!

“Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross.

Philippians 2:6-8

Can we?

“Only in the act of praise and worship can a person learn to believe in the goodness and greatness of God.” – C.S Lewis

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” 

“Jesus loves the little children. All, the children of the world.”

“He walks with me, and talks with me, and he tells me I am his own.”

We’ve heard them. 

We’ve sung them.

The question is, Have we believed them? 

Worship is one of the top ways I feel the most connected with the Lord. Prayer and worship. The thought recently came to me, am I truly living out and believing the words I am singing during worship? I think back to all the songs I sang growing up in a christian household, family, and my journey into ministry. Yes, even those children choir songs. What a time of joy that was! Looking back, the songs we often sang when we were younger hold such importance. 

A famous hymn, “He Walks With Me (in the Garden)” 

Can we bring that back? Can today’s generation gather and sing this? Can we hear these words and be reminded of the truth behind them? We belong to the Father, the Master, WE ARE HIS. We live in a world where we need the reminder of how desperately in need of the cross we are. We need to be reminded to shine his light. We need to remember he loves ALL his children.

Lastly, you may cross paths today with someone that just needs someone to tell them that he walks with you, talks with you, and calls you his own. Will you share that with someone today? You never know whose life can take a pivotal turn just by being told the truth.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16 NLT 

Jesus, thank you for worship. Thank you for using music as a vessel to know your truth. Thank you for the connection we can have with you through your songs. May people hear of your love. May people hear of your truth. May more people come to know you and seek you. May I praise your name and declare it to all nations. May I listen to the words and trust in them. Thank you for walking with us, talking with us, and calling us your own. For we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a King. Amen.

Conviction

My pastor made me mad the other day. Not really but I bet I got your attention.

See what happened was God had been in my business about working on myself. Conviction – you know. And everywhere I looked that issue that I needed to work on was staring me in the face. A book, other people’s social media post, in scripture, and then in my pastor’s sermon.

That’s the Holy Spirit, y’all.

I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for a pastor that listens to the Holy Spirit. And I hope you are, too. That’s God communicating with us right here on earth. That’s God speaking directly to us – we just have to listen.

So next time you go to church and you get your toes stomped on – don’t be mad at your pastor. Be thankful for his willingness to let the Holy Spirit speak through him. And be thankful that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. John 4:16

Showing Up

Showing up is underrated. Showing up is support. People flourish when they are supported. What does showing up look like? When your friends are launching a new business, you buy their products/services. You give resources to fund their dreams. When your friend/family are sharing a message at their church, you sit on the front row and cheer them on. When there is a death in the family, you show up to the funeral and give hugs and shed tears together. When a baby is born, you bring a meal to the family. You may even get to hold the baby; that’s my favorite! When your friend needs to talk, you offer a listening ear. When a transition is happening in your family, you help to plan what’s next and show up to pack and purge.

Showing up is following through on what you know is the right thing to do. Our feelings want to tell us, “You are busy. You are tired. You don’t have time. You don’t have enough money.” Our feelings lie to us.

Jesus taught us how to show up. He showed up at weddings and funerals. He supported his friends, family, and community. He brought life just by being present. I encourage you to show up. Your life and the lives of those you love will flourish.

When we show up, we are a witness in the crowd! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Hebrews 12:1 NLT