Monday, July 17, 2017

Get back in the race

“When Jesus finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Take the boat into the deep water. If all of you will put your nets into the water, you will catch some fish.” Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish and caught nothing. But you say I should put the nets into the water, so I will.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭ERV‬‬
Some time later...
“Simon Peter said, “I am going out to fish.” The other followers said, “We will go with you.” So all of them went out and got into the boat. They fished that night but caught nothing.”
‭‭John‬ ‭21:3‬ ‭ERV‬‬
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the passage in Luke, chapter 5. I was about to go to Germany on a mission trip. I was encouraged by the promise that God is not dependent on my "fishing" talents. He proved that to be true when we saw so many teens come to know the Lord. He was not dependent on us but His power. We were only there to "throw out the nets." He brought in the fish.
But notice what happened next in the story about Peter. After becoming a follower of Jesus, he denied Christ three times. And then he returned to becoming an ordinary fisherman. He returned to his old occupation. Did you realize that Peter was going to let his sin keep him out of the race?
I have been on many youth camps and I have seen youths give their life to Christ. And within a short period of time, they return to their former "occupation." They forget that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is living in them.
I contend that each and every one of us has been called to be a fisher of men. Go back to the first time when you felt God speak to your heart. Remember the moment that you gave your life to Jesus and made him Savior and Lord. You have not been knocked out of the race. You have not been thrown away when you messed up really bad. You have not been set back by a returning to an old addiction. You do not return back to your former life. God made us a new creation, with a new heart.
I am so glad that He is not like us with limited mercy and strength. He is a God of infinite grace and mercy and forgiveness. The next page in the story of Peter was a life of explosive power. He brought men to a saving knowledge of Christ by the 1000's. He healed the sick in Jesus name. He willing endured being thrown into jail and beaten. He stood before the Jewish High Council and spoke with boldness and wisdom.
Get back up and start living the life He called you to live. God still has big plans for you.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

God Enjoys Us When We Trust Him

“War horses and powerful soldiers are not what he cares about. The Lord enjoys people who worship him and trust in his faithful love.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:10-11‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I just have experienced the most incredible two weeks of God's display of power. I spent two weeks in Germany at a English/Sports camp. I began the week with some sad news from home. I experienced jet lag for days. I had back spasms for the last ten days of the trip. I got a bad cold and lost my voice for two days. I can hardly write this blog without coughing and blowing my nose! I constantly questioned why I was there. I am old. I am not sports minded. I can't speak German. Why Lord, did you bring me here?
He brought me here so that I could see that He does not need "war horses or powerful soldiers." He needs me to worship him and trust him.
I was given a group of 8 middle school aged girls to mentor for the week. I did not speak German and most did not speak English. The older students are better at English. The middle school students are just beginning to learn English at school. My heart was especially drawn to one of my girls who did not know Jesus. She asked me a question. If God was so good, then why did He not draw all of them to heaven? This is a question of the ages, is it not? Many people believe that a loving God would not send anyone to hell. But a loving God provided His son so we could experience a rightness with Him.
When she approached me with her questions, she did not want anyone to know she had these questions. I thought that this would be an impossible situation because she was my most limited English speaking student. But God did not think that this was impossible at all. I began with Romans 6:23.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬
She found it in her German Bible. After she read it, I asked her what did it mean. She said that it meant that Christ was the answer to her if she did not want death.
Everyday for the remainder of the camp, she would stay after the lesson and ask for more Bible verses to read. She would meticulously highlight them. Then she would write the verse on a separate scrap of paper and use that for a bookmark. Our conversation was limited...just the careful highlighting of verses. On the last day, she stayed to highlight 25 verses! I ended with Romans 10:9-10.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I asked her what that meant. She said that if she believed and professed her belief that she would receive Jesus. I asked her if she wanted to do that. She said with a smile, "I do." I was so shocked!!! She went to talk to our camp pastor. He called her father(who is not a believer). Her father agreed that she could be baptized. She came back to find me and hugged and sobbed for 5 minutes. The joy of the Lord was evident in her heart.
Another amazing thing is that she agreed to stand in front of the group and share her testimony. This was huge! She did not like to talk in front of the 8 girls much less 41 campers and 20 adults. She worked all afternoon on writing her testimony. She practiced with me. She was insistent that she must share her favorite verse...Romans 6:23, the one she began her journey with.
God does not need my talents, my energy, or my wisdom. He does not need me to be well-rested. He does not need me to know a foreign language to share with a non-English speaking person. He needs my willingness to go into all nations and trust Him.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Never Give Up

“That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles. So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭ERV‬‬
This is one of my favorite set of verses. I have prayed this many times before when life seemed unbearable. So many truths are contained.
First, we must never give up! God wants us to have the perseverance in every area of our life to stay in the race! There will be many reasons to quit. There will be distractions along the roadside that look better than the race we are on. The enemy wants us to quit and will do anything to get us to quit. But for the joy set before us, it is worth staying in the race for one more step and then another and then another.
School teachers, finish strong this year. Parents, finish strong in loving and giving grace to your kids. Spouses, finish strong in really loving your spouse until you meet the Lord and hear him say, "Well done." Singles, finish strong in waiting on the Lord to provide a godly helpmate. I tell my students all the time, "Summer will be here in a few weeks whether you finish strong or finish like a loser." I really do tell them that:):):).
Another truth that I see is that even though our physical bodies are growing older, our spiritual bodies can actually be gaining vitality and strength. That is an exciting promise to me as I am almost 62. I can surely tell that my physical body is getting weaker and wearing out. But if I continue following the Lord, I can feel stronger in my spiritual walk. That is an incredible thought! However, just as we have to decide how we will take care of our physical body with good choices, we have to draw a line in the sand and commit to maintaining our spiritual growth.
I need to be reminded of the next truth on a daily basis. We will have troubles. But the troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. A simple way to look at this is to compare this to our physical body. Last night at Body Pump, there was a difficult set of exercises and I just did not think I could raise the weights above my head one more time. I had to keep thinking "for the joy set before me, I will endure the pain." In the scheme of life, who cares if I lifted that weight to be made physically stronger but it helps me to remember that a trial and trouble can make me stronger in the spiritual world. I want to praise Him for the trial and trouble because He has an eternal plan in mind.
The main reason I prayed this verse so many times is the part about praying for the unseen. If my prayers are full of my ideas and my plans and my wisdom, than I am leaving God out of the equation. That means I am praying to myself and not the almighty, all powerful God. If my prayers are depending on my strength, why bother? I want to pray for the impossible. I want my prayers to be for eternal things that I maybe I will not see until the other side of heaven.
What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever.”

The King Adores You

““Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word: forget your country, put your home behind you. Be here —the king is wild for you. Since he’s your lord, adore him. Wedding gifts pour in from Tyre; rich guests shower you with presents.””
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭45:10-12‬ ‭MSG‬‬
I love the month of June! My Bible reading plan always brings me to Psalms in June.
This particular set of verses is good advice for a woman approaching marriage. The writers, the sons of a Koran, advised the young woman to leave behind her ties to her country and her family and adore her husband. The Psalms is warning her to come into the relationship with intentionality. On the wedding day, her husband is wild for her. To keep that love alive, she must give up some things, put some stuff behind her.
Even now after 39 years, I am constantly fighting against my selfishness and my desire to put myself first. When I fight to keep my needs at the front, Mark is less likely to adore me. I need to put some stuff behind me. He likes me a whole lot better when I stop trying to be first and fight for my needs to be met over his.
However, these verses are about so much more than marriage. It is describing our relationship with Christ. When we come into a relationship with Jesus, we have to intentionally leave behind our past. We have to come into this new incredible marriage with our Savior, giving up all of us(our country) and letting Him be the Lord and King.
If we continue to put our desires first and not die to ourselves, He will still adore us, but we lose the whole point. We keep trying to bring our past country. We need to enter into the relationship bringing nothing because we have nothing to offer. Absolutely nothing! He adores us and He does everything.
When we need a reset button, as my sister calls it, we reset by dying to ourselves and letting Christ take over. We can't do anything to help ourselves. The enemy tells us we can by working harder. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we begin to walk back into wide open spaces. Today is the best day to quit trying to fix ourselves. We can't.
“If you do these things, your light will begin to shine like the light of dawn. Then your wounds will heal. Your “Goodness” will walk in front of you, and the Glory of the Lord will come following behind you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:8‬ ‭ERV‬‬

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dealing with Hurts

““Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own? Why do you say to your friend, ‘Let me take that piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself first! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You are a hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend’s eye.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I love to read. I love to read books involving spiritual growth. I really like to read devotions. About 50% of them deal, in some way, with people that are struggling with forgiveness. Everyone has been hurt by a family member, boss, friend, co-worker, ...you name it. Sometimes the hurt was small. Sometimes it was a gigantic betrayal.
I've noticed that people deal with hurt in many ways. Many turn to addictions to avoid dealing with the hurt. Food is a popular medicine to use when you are hurt. The enemy tells you that if you eat enough, you will feel better. I've never seen food cure the problem.
Alcohol or drugs have been used to ease the pain. That just causes more problems. Another popular way to ease the pain is entertainment. The enemy tells you that if you look at enough social media, enough tv, enough movies, enough travel to fun places- you will feel better. Nothing wrong with entertainment. However, it is not a substitute for a medicine that you need for a lonely, messed up heart.
I noticed that if you don't deal with it in a healthy way, the bitterness just grows and grows and threatens to destroy your life. I'm not a licensed psychologist but I know this to be true. You have to deal with your own heart and not wait on the other person to deal with theirs. There is nothing you can do to change the other person. You can pray for them but your words or actions can't change them.
While you wait on God to change them, your job is to look for logs in your own life and ask God to change you. I see that in my own life. When I get mad at Mark, the temptation is to point the flashlight on Mark. But that never, ever solves anything. It only makes it worse. And if I don't deal with it with wisdom, it just grows and grows. As soon as possible, I need to ask God to point the flashlight at me, do surgery on me and transform me.
If you are struggling with forgiving someone, even with a small thing, pull the weed out before it chokes you to death. If you are only 1% off in your spiritual life and you don't deal with it now, it will become 99% one day. I know some old people that started out with a lack of forgiveness and they thought that it would not hurt to hold on to it. It's not a pretty sight. Be kind to the old person that you will become.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Purity

In case you don't know the story of David and Bathsheba, it is found in 2 Samuel.
“In the spring, when kings go out to war, David sent Joab, his officers, and all the Israelites out to destroy the Ammonites. Joab’s army surrounded their capital city, Rabbah. David stayed in Jerusalem."
David was out of place. He put himself "out of place. Mark used to be a vice-principal when we lived in Vicksburg, MS. When students came to his office for a discipline issue, he always discovered that they were "out of place." When we stay where we need to be, we will be less likely to stray and do the wrong things.
"One evening he got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his house. From there he saw a woman bathing. She was very beautiful,”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭11:1-2‬ ‭ERV‬‬
I would guess that David knew ahead of time that when he stood on the roof of his house he would see women bathing. This was not the first time. He put himself into a situation where he would be tempted. We often put ourselves into a situation where we already know that we will be tempted. It was only a matter of time before he would give in to the temptation.
Look what God said to David....
"When you took Uriah’s wife, you showed that you did not respect me."
"But you did things that made the Lord ’S enemies lose their respect.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭12:10, 14‬ ‭ERV‬‬
“I let you take his family and his wives, and I made you king of Israel and Judah. As if that had not been enough, I would have given you more and more. So why did you ignore my command? Why did you do what I say is wrong? You let the Ammonites kill Uriah the Hittite, and you took his wife. It is as if you yourself killed Uriah in war.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭12:8-9‬ ‭ERV‬‬
When we ignore God's command to have purity, we disrespect Him and we cause the world to disrespect Him. He said to David, "I gave you everything but it wasn't enough!" God has given us literally everything we need but we decide, just like Eve, that God did not let us eat out of the one tree and that He is not taking care of us. We decide that God is holding out on us and we take matters into our own hands.
If you are struggling with sexual temptations and giving in to them, get help. Do you need an accountability partner? Do you need to join a group.  You won't be the first one to join. You won't be the last one to join.


This is definitely an area where you cannot "conform to the world." The world says that it is okay to have sex outside of marriage. God says it's not. If pornography is the issue, quit "climbing on the roof of your house."

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pray with shameless audacity

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I was reading this verse last week and wondered if I really believed this? If so, do I pray with "shameless audacity?"
I love that this verse says that when I ask God for something, "He will surely get up and give me as much as I need." What I NEED.
Every Monday, I pray for my small group that I love.❤️I was visiting with a member of the class last night and I was telling her how I divide my days into specific prayer needs. For example, Monday is set aside specific for this class. Tuesday is set aside for our Compassion kids that we sponsor and my Mississippi family. Wednesday is for our sons and their families and so on.
She remarked that it sounded like I was not praying for myself. I assured her that me, me, me is at the top of my prayer list most days! However, I want my prayer list to be so much more than me.
Another thought about prayer. If I ask you about your prayer life, I would ask you specifically, "When do you pray?" Like when is it marked on your calendar each day to spend time in prayer? If you struggle to come up with a time, maybe begin to put a specific time for prayer each day. Obviously, pray more than that time but have a specific time carved into your day and pray with "shameless audacity!"
Our prayer life tells us so much about what we believe about God. I am not asking Mark for what I need. He is a great guy but he simply does not have the ability and wisdom and money and generosity to give me "what I need." But God does. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. His wisdom trumps all wisdom. His strength is unsurpassed. Let's pray like we believe that.