Sunday, April 26, 2015

Unseen and Hidden Heros

     As I was thinking of what to share today, I couldn't help but think of those who are always "behind the scenes" serving; in our churches, schools and communities.  It seems I have been in the nursery more than in the church service over the last few months and I have been reminded that there are so many servants that go unnoticed and unrecognized  because what they do is not out in the open where everyone can see, its not glamorous or showy. Throughout scripture the Lord was always reaching out and or ministering in some way to the" least of these". The women at the well, the tax collector, the lepers and servers like Martha and Mary and many more. Christ had a heart for the unloved and unseen people around him. Do we?  I have asked the Lord to show me the "hidden heros" around me and then show me how to love and minister to them as HE did. Its amazing when you just ask, how HE will answer. HE is just waiting for us to ask.
   I will never forget a phone call with my daughter when she was visiting in the mental ward in a local hospital. " Mom, she said " These workers and those they are helping are truly  the "least of these" that no one sees "It breaks my heart" she said. She then later shared with me how she felt led to bring all the workers on that floor dinner and how surprised they were that someone took notice of them and their patients.  I have often recalled her saying that and the actions she took when I see the homeless, those that clean our schools, churches and other public places , the bag boys, the garbage men, those that care for our loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes and I could go on and on. Sometimes they just need a smile and a thank you for a job well done, an encouraging word , offer to help or fix them a meal to show they are appreciated. These small acts can often open the door to share Christ and His love for them.
   When we take the time to acknowledge or talk with the "Unseen and Hidden Heros" in our lives ,we will see that they are just like us. The same God that created us created them and loves them equally as he does you and I.
  Lord, I pray you will show us how to love and acknowledge the unseen and " hidden hero's" around us everyday. Help us to thank them and show them acts of kindness in return for how they serve us. Forgive us for how we pass by or tend to look down at them and even think lesser of them because of the job they do, how they act or how they dress. Bring the "least of these" to our attention all around us and show us how to love them as you love them Lord. Remind us Lord, that when we serve them we are serving you.
Matthew 25:40  Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me"    


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"What Did She say?"

      Have you ever been in a conversation and heard someone say something harsh or hurtful about another person? I would venture to say that all of us have. We have been either the recipient of the hurtful words or we have been the one who has said the hurtful words.  The bible has a lot to say on this subject ,so alot of what I will share is straight from scripture. Can I just say that we have all been guilty of not harnessing our mouth and speaking before we think. It is part of the sin nature within us that Satan likes to use to do the most harm within our homes, churches and relationships in general.  How can we control these harsh and hurtful words from leaving our tongues? The bible tells us that it is the most difficult part of our bodies to harness. " For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word he is a perfect man, also able to bridle the whole body." James 3:2.
The first thing we must realize is that we cannot do this on our own. " But no man can tame the tongue ,it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." James 3:8.  Isn't it amazing how in the same sentence we can be kind and then spout of  words that crush and  tear down those we love.  "Out of the same month proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." James 3:10. So, where do we start? The first place I recommend is memorizing Gods word. "His words I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119 . God tells us right here that memorizing His word helps prevent us from sinning so I think this is a great start!  Hurtful words come from the heart. The more of Gods word we have hidden in our hearts the less room for harmful words. So if Gods word squeezes out evil words, lets get memorizing! Also the more we submit to the Holy Spirit the less we are in control of our words and actions, which we all know never turn out that well. We have to submit to His power daily, His power prevails over our fleshly desires, of envy and self seeking, that produce the harmful words towards others. It is the filling of His spirit that replaces our evil and fleshly spirit.  "Come Holy Spirit and fill us today. " are words to a powerful song we always sang in church when I was growing up. So thankful God is bringing them to mind as I share with you today.  He is always faithful and will continue  to mold and chisel away  at our hard hearts whether we want Him to or not. It is much easier though if we are willing to let Him. " Lord , I desire to become more and more like you ,so fill me with your spirit and words so I can speak words that encourage and build up others. May I be an earthy example of your love and kindness towards my brothers and sisters in Christ and a world that needs to know you."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Serving is a Lifestyle

    As we have begun a new year the Lord has impressed on my heart a more intentional call to serve. What does that look like and how can we more effectively serve those around us. First, let me say that to really serve as the Lord intended us too we must be in a place where we  fellowship with him daily, in His word and in prayer. This is how we begin to hear the Lord speak and prick our hearts to act on His behalf.
    I was at a women's retreat a few weekends ago and got to hear a sweet friend share how she and her family have weaved serving others into their daily lives.  This was such a confirmation of the Lords working in my heart in this area.  I have always had a heart for serving but through the years feel like it has been sparatic at times. I have quenched the spirits nudging often times due to "business" even church business. Can you imagine that we can  get so busy doing church work that we lose site of "His work".  Our desire to be active in the church  is wonderful and God honoring, but if we are not careful , it can be all consuming to the point of neglecting the call to serve and love the lost community outside of our church walls.
    The Lord will prompt your heart daily to the needs around you if you are in daily contact with Him. He speaks when we get still and listen. We cannot be thoroughly equipped for service without ongoing exposure to Scripture. This week as I asked the Lord to prick my heart to the needs of others and it was amazing to me how He spoke just because I asked. The blessings from serving are unmeasureable if we will just listen and act. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 "To this end we always pray for you, that God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power" I encourage you to pray for flexibility in your schedule and creativity as you serve others. It is an exciting command and calling on our lives as believers! This is my friend Rhonda's website if you would like to see some of her creativity in serving.    Happy Serving!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Keeping Christmas Simple

Only 9 days till Christmas! The pressure is on! Are all the presents purchased, Christmas cards mailed, meals planned, house in order for company, goodies for neighbors and friends baked and delivered, Christmas programs and parties attended? I don't know about you but it can get quite busy and overwhelming to say the least this time of year.  I honestly have not accomplished my goal of keeping Christmas simple but I'm getting closer each year in my heart anyway. One of my all time favorite quotes from Elizabeth Elliot has always been, "Do the next thing, there are many good things but choose the wise things to partake in".  Simplifying Christmas begins in the heart. It is the desires of our heart that drive our daily decisions and plans.  Gods word tells us that the desires of our heart are either rooted in the pleasures of this world or in  pleasing Him.  Seeking Him first in all we do will drive our desires to align with His will.  This may seem radical to some of you but my vision of a simple Christmas would look something like this:  Instead of attending all the fancy musicals and programs, I would love to be spending my time sharing the Story of Christmas with the many children in foster care or orphanages in our area. Instead of spending so much time deciding on gifts and the purchasing of them, I wish we could combine our resources and give more to missions or specific local families in need.  Instead of always spending all of our holidays with our close families and friends at various parties and events , we could share our time by inviting those around us who are lost and much less fortunate into our homes to love on and share Christ with. I would love to be apart of a celebration that truly focuses on the Heart of our Savior ,which I believe would involve putting into action, plans that focus and prioritize the reaching of the lost around us. Can you imagine what our homes and churches would look like if this was how we choose to celebrate and honor our Savior this time of year! I cant help but think how it must grieve His heart that so much of our time and focus is really not about Him at all. Yes, we may sing and praise and share Him from the choir lofts and pulpits of our churches ,which is all good, but how are we spreading His story  outside of our church buildings? God forgive me for the amount of time I've spent in stores and shopping malls and online looking for just the right presents when so many are sad, lonely, destitute and lost. Simplifying Christmas is  about how and what we spend our time on, which is a reflection of where our heart truly is this time of year. My prayer is that the husbands and fathers of our Christian homes will lead their families in this direction during this season. What an impact on our children and our world this could make! Have a blessed Christmas !

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Rewind

     As we reflect on our recent Thanksgiving holiday , I cant help but wonder what we ,as the church, did to reach others in response to the abundance of blessings we share.
    Let me back up just a bit and tell you that I just returned from the "woods" of Coleman, Georgia, where I spent the last eight days with my husband, hunting. Now, when I say the woods, I mean we are literally miles from the nearest gas station and or store of any kind.  All you will see when drive through this little town of Coleman is some homes ,one small post office, a church and a blinking light. Oh , and did I forget to mention that there is no cell service unless you are in certain hunting stands, near a tower and clear skies. I'm sure to most of you this sounds like a terrible way to spend your thanksgiving but as I "rewind" my thoughts backward I have truly been able to see all the blessings. Now, mind you, as I am using the outhouse bathroom , I did have fleeting moments of feeling like a true pilgrim!
    I feel like year after year as we celebrate this wonderful holiday we are often missing out on opportunities that we ,along with our children can reach out to others. Now, don't get me wrong, I love everything about Thanksgiving, the incredible food, watching the Macy's day parade and most of all time with friends and family.  But in all of our thanksgivings, like indoor bathrooms, what and how are we responding to the lost, poor and lonely people around us.  Growing up my mom and dad always made a point of inviting a college student away from home or without family over to share in our Thanksgiving day. What a great lesson they were teaching us just through that little gesture. I think what is truly in my heart is that in  response to our many blessings we, the church and people of God, should be inviting the reaching out to the "least of these" more than ever during the holiday season. For example, hosting a thanksgiving dinner at church where "we serve" the meal to the homeless and less fortunate of our communities. Invite them to our homes or family gatherings.
I know this sounds uncomfortable but God did not call us to comfort, He called us to compassion, service and love for the unlovable.  As I was without  my ''comforts of home" this past week my heart was saddened for so many who live like that every day. Lord, Forgive us for not taking the opportunities we have to reach those who are lonely and less fortunate around us. Forgive us for our selfishness in wanting to spend all of our time during the holidays, in the comfort of our homes ,with friends and family when so many are without. Help us Lord to see the needs around us and in response, share and invite them into our lives and families so that we can truly show and spread the message of the Gospel in and through our cities and communities.
" God create a clean heart in me and RENEW a steadfast spirit within me. Do not take me from your presence or your Holy Spirit but restore the JOY of your salvation to me, and give me a WILLING SPIRIT.  Psalm 51:10-12.  
May  each of us begin this holiday season with a renewed vision of how we can change lives through simple acts of serving and loving those around us, remembering the same Christ who gave His life for us, gave His life for them as well!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Your Children Suffer

    There is nothing more difficult for parents than to watch there children suffer.  As parents we want the best for our children. We want them to live full, happy and healthy lives.We never want them to hurt or go through difficult times of suffering and heartache.  It is part of that protective  nature God gives us in caring for them. As mothers and fathers we want to shield them from danger or anything that will harm them. When they are young it seems so much easier to protect them because we have more control over where they go and what they do. As we slowly release them into the world we have to relinquish that control and it then becomes more difficult to oversee and protect them from this world and all the evils in it.  
     As hard as it is to accept, our children will suffer and go through difficult trials in their lives.
It is part of the fall of Adam and Eve and the sinful world we live in. "Why is it happening to them?" has been a question I have often asked the Lord in the last 5 years as we have watched our precious daughter and son in law go through much suffering and heartache. "Why Lord would you allow such suffering to happen to two people who desire nothing more than to serve you and love you with all their heart?' I just don't understand?" I admit that often times I have cried out to the Lord in this way hoping for some kind of answer. I also have asked the Lord to take it from them and let us suffer instead. "It just doesn't seem fair". These are all normal responses  as parents so don't allow guilt to set in. The Lord knows our heart and hears our cry.
      Personally, after many tears over the years, these truths from Gods word have been my greatest comfort; "Count it all JOY my children when (your children) encounter various trials , knowing that the testing of their faith produces faith and faith patience. And let patience do its perfect work that they may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1: 2-4.  "Ok Lord so I get that you are perfecting their faith and that you are going to use all of this in their lives for good but when will it end? "How much more can they endure or we endure of watching them suffer trial after trial?" I wish I could tell you that the Lord has given me an end date or answer to the WHY of it all, but I can't. What I can do though is share with you  what the Lord has taught me and is continuing to teach me through His word.  For instance the verse " The joy of the Lord is your strength." Neh. 8:10 began to resonate in my heart in a way I couldn't explain.  His "PEACE that passes all understanding" continues to fill my heart when I doubt what the Lords plan is in all of this. I have begun to see all that has happened and continues to happen in their lives as part of Gods divine and ongoing plan to bring HIM glory!  Knowing that as hard as it is, trials, in Gods eyes are allowed to perfect our faith , all the while molding and conforming us more and more into His likeness in preparation for eternity! There is a bigger picture and plan beyond what we can see that is unique to all who suffer for the cause of Christ. So with all that said, we as parents should welcome the trials and suffering in our children's lives, as backward as it sounds, trusting that it is all apart of Gods purposeful plan for them. We don't have to like it but we do need to pray, help, love and encourage our children in every way possible, all the while trusting in Gods divine sovereignty over every area of their lives. Lord, help us to see all suffering as miniscule in comparison to what you suffered on the cross for us , trusting that our children  are always under the canopy of your grace and love.

Friday, October 31, 2014

When Life Gets Messy

   We have all heard the saying,"When life gives you lemons make lemonaide". Well, its not always that simple. Sometimes the lemons are so bad its impossible to make lemonaide.  The difficulties we face are not always that easy to fix. In fact many of them are so complicated that we cannot see an answer at all. We don't understand why the Lord is allowing it much less His purpose for it all.
    The thing I always tell myself is that we live in a FALLEN world, Sin=Messy.  Messy can be out of our control and difficult to manage. Messy can also cause much grief and sadness, hurt and brokenness.  So what do we do? How do we manage or handle the difficult situations we all will face at one time or another.  Well, first of all 'WE" in and of ourselves are not the best managers and even if we try it often doesn't go like we hoped.  We are called as believers to lay them at the feet of Jesus "Cast our burdens on Him for He cares for us" His word tells us. How do we do this when what we are going through is consuming our lives to the point of suffocation. First, Have FAITH, faith is a calm trust in Christ despite all our trails and troubles.  Second,  LOVE, a reasoned decision and determination to love those who are hurting or have hurt us. And third, HOPE, an abiding trust and patient waiting, knowing that God has determined the future and has a plan that is beyond what we can see on this earth.   Does this make all you are going through any easier? No, but it can provide a peace and joy that is unexplainable and supernatural, and will enable you survive the difficult things you are facing.
    There is power in His word and strength that will come from praying that only we as believers have access too. There have been times in my own life when all I could do was muster up the strength to cry out His name. Just that little bit was enough to sustain me to get through that moment of despair. One of my life verses has been , "The JOY of the Lord is your strength." Neh 8:10  When I have looked back on these messy times I couldn't even explain this Joy, it was just there when I needed it.  This is how our awesome God works,  we are not exempt from trials we are just promised that He will never leave us and will provide the mercy and grace we need to get through it! 
 "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you will have PEACE. In this world you WILL have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have OVERCOME the world." John 16:33. I am so thankful that as followers of Christ, this messy life is just temporary. We are promised an eternity free of all sadness, sickness and despair! To God be the Glory great things He has done!