Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Star Light, Star Bright First Star I See Tonight. . .




God scattered the stars like dazzling diamonds on a sea of black velvet at the dawn of time. He knew we would gaze up at night and gain hope for a better tomorrow, knowing Someone with great power created such wonder.

And in His great wisdom, He knew we would need the blessings in life to guide us like a shepherds staff guides the sheep safely into the fold before the cover of night.

I guess most of us think of blessings as things such as

a wet kiss from your grand-baby

someone who pays for your food in the Wendy's drive thru

a card in the mail from a sweet friend who is "thinking of you"

the sight of the American flag waving in the breeze

a surprise phone call from one of your kids "just because"

puppy breath

These things are blessings for sure, and I love them all.

Here lately though, I find myself thinking and talking about an entirely different kind of blessing.

I am certain you can relate to the "what next" kind of day; and I am not referring to the simple stuff like a flat tire, a headache and being dog-tired.

No, I'm talking bigger. For me it's when people I love are hurting--facing surgery, worry over a much loved pet that may not live through the night, relationship strains and the dreaded "C" word we have all come to despise.

I bet you think I sat at your dinner table and listened in as you discussed your concerns for the people you love.

As I look life's difficulties square in the face tonight, I find myself feeling incredibly blessed.  I admit, I am surprised at God's incredible work and grace in the middle of storms that should be pulling me under.

Instead, I am learning and growing and relying more on The Only One who loves me best.

I see God placing His gentle, Fatherly arms of grace securely around the people I love.

Friends from all over remind me many times a day of their prayers, support, and "call me if you need me."

Most of all, with every prayer I whisper, with every tear that falls, and when worry over things I cannot control threatens to rise within me,

God steps in.

And I am calmed by the reminder

LIFT UP YOUR EYES ON HIGH AND SEE: WHO CREATED THESE? HE WHO BRINGS OUT THEIR HOST BY NUMBER, CALLING THEM BY NAME, BY THE GREATNESS OF HIS MIGHT, AND BECAUSE HE IS STRONG IN POWER NOT ONE IS MISSING.
ISAIAH 40:26

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight--no need to wish, it's not by my might, I know God is answering my prayers tonight. 
He's near, He hears, I'll feel no fear--He made the stars and the message is clear, He knows what's best, He'll dry my tears.

Joy comes in the morning.
  




Sunday, April 23, 2017

These Things I Know

Why are we here?

Is life on earth some kind of cosmic joke?

Does God watch from a cloud and play a game of chess with us?

Does God deal out destruction just to see us struggle?

If God can intercede . . .well, why doesn't He?

Honestly we will not know the many ways He intercedes daily until we get to heaven and are absolutely wowed by it. I will praise Him for the battles I never fought because He stepped in. I will give Him glory for protection against my enemy.

Most of all, I will stand amazed in His presence for a split second before I fall on my face and thank Him for saving my soul.

Until that day, THESE THINGS I KNOW:

 His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God without prejudice,
 He is righteous and true.
Deuteronomy 32

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness
 to all who call upon you.
Psalm 86:5

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 


My momma bought me a Bible for my 16th birthday. In the front cover she wrote out Philippians 1:6. True that day and true today -  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Those things in life He allows - the beautiful and the difficult - He allows for a purpose. The purpose of keeping His promise in Philippians 1:6. 

If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior the promises are the same for you. He is always working and never forsaking.

If you have never prayed and asked Jesus to be your everything, you cannot begin to understand this blog. But, friend, I can testify Jesus is listening for your voice. He's waiting for the invite that will change your eternity. The invite that will change your today.

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

I cannot imagine a single moment of the day or night without Him.

These things I know:  God is good. God is just, God is faithful.

God is always working.

Yes, these things I know.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do I Have to Close My Eyes When I Pray?

One of the many joys of I find in leading in children is that of teaching them to prayer.

Let me first say, prayer is still a mountainous mystery to me. I'm still learning. What I do know though, is God tells us we should pray without ceasing, pray believing, and trust Him to answer out of His grand Fatherly grace and love for us.

I hope the kids I lead remember a few things for a lifetime.

God is holy and is worthy of our respect.

Prayer is an honor, not to be taken for granted.

Prayer can be spoken, thought, and felt. In other words, when we have no words the creator of our heart knows whats going on in the heart.

Kids, like adults, can pray anywhere, anytime. We talk about praying on the school bus, during an exam, in dark, in the daylight, while running on the playground, when seeing someone cry, and after winning the big game. Prayer takes place without saying a word and while saying many words.

Prayer is listening. We can pray scriptures and ask God to lead us. And God answers.

When we are in a large group, I teach the kids that everyone in the room, yes ALL of us, bow our heads and close our eyes. We do that so we are not distracted by the people around us. We do that so we can show God our respect by focusing on Him as we pray.

But, do I have to close my eyes when I pray?

Oh, no. No sweet child of God. Because He is all powerful, all knowing, and consuming love He hears the prayer of faith whether your eyes are open or closed. He hears your prayer even when you don't know how to pray.

He hears the prayers of His children that are words replaced by groans. He knows the heart when all we can whisper is "Oh, Father . . ."

Matthew 8:2 the leper prayed for healing and verse 3 Jesus heals.

Matthew 8:25 the disciples cry out for fear of drowning. Verse 26 Jesus calmed the storms - that on the sea and those in their hearts.

John 4:49 the official pleaded with Jesus to heal his son. Verse 50, Jesus said "Go, your son will live."

Acts 4:24-30 the disciples prayed for boldness and power; verses 31-33 the Holy Spirit answered.

As we pray, we remember that God is faithful to work in all things and to answer our prayers as He works His perfect will in our lives,

The wonder and mystery of prayer encompasses those times we can't understand. The long nights of what seems to be filled with unanswered questions. The sunrise that appears to shout the unknown.

James 1 reminds us to ask in faith without doubting.  Faith that God's will is perfect and we can trust His answer to be what is best. Best isn't always easy. But God's best is faithful and trustworthy.

When you pray, open your eyes and your heart. Know that God is faithful in all things.

Give God the glory as you face the unknown of the day. Praise Him for the sunrise. Trust Him in the heat of the day. Celebrate the breeze that cools you and vast blue sky that reminds you the Creator is real and always in charge. Exhale as you watch the sun begin to set, knowing God is present and faithful in the daylight and the night.

Open your eyes. God hears. God answers. God is faithful.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

That Highly Favored Kind of Feeling

I am feeling extremely special and loved.

You see, I am a part of a precious church family. I know there are countless church families, just like mine, all around the world.

They are families full of people who love each other. People who, when they say they are praying for you, really pray.

I will travel this week to spend a bit of time with someone I dearly love. She's beginning yet another chapter of tough stuff. She's no stranger to life's battles. What I've learned from her though, in each battle, is there's no such thing as quitting.

My church family learned of this new battle and covered me with their love this morning. I received hugs and encouragement and the promise of prayer and numerous "call or text if you need anything" even the offer to travel to where I will be if needed.

This, my friends, is the joy and blessing of being a part of God's family.

As I type this blog and listen to my favorite Janet Paschal songs, I am reminded of God's faithfulness in all seasons. I am grateful He uses His people to be "God with skin on."

This highly favored kind of feeling, it doesn't belong to me alone. That's one of the amazing truths of the family of God.

These people love God.

And they love me.

And they love each other.

Perhaps you are dealing with the speed bumps of life on your own. You don't have to.

God is willing and ready to be your everything.

And His people. . . well, they gather every Sunday and worship Him. Churches full of real people, people with weakness and imperfections. People trying to learn how to be more like Jesus; people who want to love Him more. People who fail. People who hurt. People who long for heaven.

Look around you and choose a place to worship. Become a part of God's great family.

This highly favored kind of feeling, it comes from God. He uses His people to make it known.

Thank you, my precious church family, for loving me. Thank you for praying for me and those I love. Thank you for your favor.

 Don't walk through life without being a part of a church family. You'll experience what it's like to be highly favored.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Day is Coming


A Day is Coming

Imagine, if you can, a world where God intercepts all hurt and pain. Where He stands a guard against all illness and accidents. Imagine, if you can, a life of nothing but joy and happiness and good things.

Would it be a wonderful thing if God so willed to eradicate cancer and addictions? What if He looked down on earth and declared “Enough!” What would it be like to weep no longer for those we love when pain comes their way? And yes, to no longer weep for ourselves because we cannot physically step in and change the course of the future.

It has become the cry of every soul on earth – the cry of those who don’t believe in God as well as those who love God dearly. A cry that says, “If there is a God, why doesn’t He step in and do something?” A cry that shouts, “I believe God has the power to heal, change, and stop my pain. Please, Lord – do it today!”

God could, if He chose to do so, make it all stop. He is the Most High God, The All Powerful Lord.

If He would come and sit alongside me and ask me if He should simply end all this sorrow on earth, I would have to say, “no, Lord, no.”

What would drive us to our knees if we walked in perfect peace on earth?

What would make us take notice of what matters most in life?

What would cause us to turn to God and scream, “Only YOU Lord, I need only YOU”?

 What would God use to mold us, shape us, and form us into the likeness of Christ?

Like you, I have known heartache. Like you, rain falls in my life. I know we all have our own way of grieving and handling the tough stuff we must face.

But to know God’s grace on news levels . . . to experience His peace in my heart . . .to catch a greater glimpse of heaven to come . . . to quote a great old gospel song I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.

We won’t hurt forever. A Day is coming. . .

A Day is coming when the clouds will part and there will be no more pain. A Day is promised, when God will dry every tear from our eyes. . .

Look! God is dwelling with men,

And He will live with them.

They will be His people,

and God himself will be

with them and be their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Death will exist no longer;

grief, crying and pain will exist

no longer,

because the previous things have passed away.

Revelation 21:3-4

God will make everything new, just as He promised.

A Day is coming. . .

Until that day arrives, I chose to believe God’s promises. He has proven Himself faithful time and time again.

A Day is coming . . .

Until then, I chose to be faithful.

Let’s worship Him together. Let’s honor Him together. Let’s believe in His might together.

A Day is coming. . .












Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Who is Easter For?

Last Sunday we had our Easter Celebration for the kids at church. They heard the real Easter story, played some games, made crafts, had a fun egg hunt and finished the day with Worship KidStyle.

I had more than a few ask me "Why are you celebrating Easter the Sunday before Easter?"

We had our special kids day on Palm Sunday for two reasons. Palm Sunday is very much a part of the Easter season. And I believe it is important for children to worship with their families on Easter Sunday, the day we set aside to celebrate The Risen Savior.

I realize that for many, in fact for a growing number of people in America, Easter is not at all about Jesus. It's the bunny, the candy, egg hunts and prizes.

I did a little research to check for the origins of the bunny. Best I could find, we first see it in America in the early 1700's. German immigrants brought it over along with the explanation that the Hare watched for obedient, good children and left them colored eggs and candy in their bonnets and hats. Does this remind you of ole Saint Nick?

The prizes, candy, treats and favor belong to the good.

I learned something else about this bunny; something very disturbing.  The origins can be traced back to the thirteenth century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshipped gods and goddesses. The goddess of fertility had a symbol - the rabbit.

This is what we accept into our homes and unwittingly tell our kids when they wake up on Sunday morning and look for what the bunny left them. The created rabbit, worshipped in place of The Creator, brings treats and favor to good boys and girls.

We gave our children candy and gifts on Easter Sunday morning. We still enjoy the seasonal candy and I will have a little egg hunt for my granddaughter. Thankfully, we never told our kids the bunny brought the treats and we never taught them it was only if they were good.

That message is most certainly the anti-Jesus message. Jesus walked this earth in human form and He died a brutal death. We celebrate Easter Sunday because He did not stay dead. He walked out of the grave that Sunday morning. He brings salvation to all who will accept it. This gift of eternal life is not for the good. And aren't you so glad? There are none that are good. . . no, not one.

Our world - your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members - is full of broken and confused people. Desperate people who look in the mirror each morning and, with tears in their eyes, wonder how they will make it through the day. They walk out the door and go to work or attend school and they wear their "everything is great" face and no one around them knows what struggle is going on in the heart.

And we don't tell them there is a Savior who lived, died, and lives again and He did it for the broken. We are all broken because we are all sinners.

And God made a way.

Easter. It is not just one Sunday a year. No, it's not two Sundays. It's not only for the good.

For the believer, Easter is EVERY DAY, now through ETERNITY! Our broken world is waiting to hear that God's love reaches to them every day in the form of our risen Lord.

Death could not keep it's prey . . . He is Risen indeed!



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rose Colored Glasses Classes

I have the complete privilege of hanging out with awesome kids. I am a Director of Preschool and Children's Ministries. That means every Wednesday and Sunday I get to be with people who are full of energy and creativity.

A dear friend and I get to lead chapel once a week for kindergarten through 5th graders for our Christian school. I think she would agree it's definitely a highlight of the week for both of us. There's nothing like hearing all those kids singing 10,000 Reasons or The Fruit of the Spirit Song.

I recognize my role in the lives of these kids is one of support for their Mom's and Dad's as they raise them to love and serve Jesus. I also know the weight of the importance of teaching biblical truths every time we are together. It might look like we are having extreme fun, well, because we are! But it's fun with purpose. It's fun designed to help kids grow in their knowledge of God and His great plan for each one.

I look around me, and even during the most difficult of days, I see the hand of my grace-filled God. Some might say I wear rose colored glasses. My response to that would be yes, yes I do.

You see God gave those glasses to me.

I believe the Bible when it says God works in all things to bring good to those who love Him.

His Word is true when it clearly says His plans for me are for a future and a hope.

He is a promise keeper and He promised to be with me wherever I go.

So, yeah, I'm looking at life through the lenses of God's supreme presence and promises.

I look for reasons to say, "Do you see it? Do you see God's hand in this?"

And when I have the opportunity to speak with kids, I am quick to remind them of His goodness every single moment of every day.

Last Sunday night with the kids we prayed for a sad heart because her dog got run over that afternoon. We prayed for a family who misses their granddad who recently passed away. We asked God to heal some very sick people we greatly love.

There's no denying life is painful.

Here is where those rose colored glasses classes come in. For every hurt and disappointment we face, we have the opportunity to teach our kids to trust God especially when we don't understand.

We weep.

We mourn.

We get discouraged.

We worry even as we try not to.

But

If we trust God to keep His promises, we will grow closer to Him as we see how He takes ashes and turns them into beauty.

I'm so glad God is faithful and trustworthy. After all, when you really consider it, everything in life comes down to whether we trust God the way we say we do.



If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
2 Corinthians 4 (The Message)