Tuesday, May 28, 2013

True Belief

"The heart that truly believes, shall in due time greatly rejoice: we are to expect joy and peace in believing."

A child on Christmas morning believes that they will see something beautiful under the tree. Something breathtaking, and often beyond imagination. 

They wait in eager anticipation, asking many dozens of times how much longer they must wait until Christmas. 
They prepare; writing letters to a jolly man in the North Pole with details to the enth degree, decorating cookies, lighting the tree, and hanging their stocking near the fireplace. 
They share their joy; telling others how soon Christmas is approaching. How they cannot wait to see the things they asked for under the tree. Begging their parents to allow them to stay up and catch a glimpse of what they believe to be a miracle. 

And when the morning of Christmas finally arrives, they are truly breathless with wonder. 

Christmas with young children is pure joy because of their belief. There is no doubt in their mind that Santa will come and bring them every single thing they wanted, plus more. There is no hesitation in their asking, because he would never deny a child their truest wish!

How more loving towards His children is God? ...vastly more. 

How often do we pour our hearts out to Him, without any doubt or hesitation that He will answer? ...far too scarcely. 

The heart that trusts He will answer is a heart full of joy. 
That is when we believe He loves us so much that He will answer our prayers, and we do not stop asking and petitioning until He does. 

Never does a child mention Santa just once. Rather, he is a constant part of their life. In the same way, Christ should be a constant piece of our mind, and life! We should find joy and excitement in sharing with others what He has done - and what we are eagerly anticipating He will do!!! The joy on someone's face when they trusty believe He will answer their prayer is indescribable. It is a joy that must be shared. 

To pray with a child's faith is to trust with a child's heart, leading to a joy so peaceful and deep that it will spill over into the lives of all around you... Just as it did with David. 

Blessed be the LORD! ...
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
-Psalms 28:6-7

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Breathing Threats

"Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord
went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, 
so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, 
he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." 
Acts 9:1-2.

Simply put, Saul was not a nice man. He was one of those men that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck, bringing the I-have-a-rock-in-my-stomach feeling wherever he went. He even speaks poorly of himself, saying that he "persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons. (Acts 22:4). 

He first comes into the scene in Acts 7:58, where he watched the stoning of Stephen. So filled with vigor and zeal after seeing this, he began "ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. (8:3)"

This guy was nasty! He deserved a time-out of heavenly proportion, which is exactly what he was given. God looked at this man, and decided He would use him. He tells of his "time-out" in Acts 22... But the drastic change can be seen in verse 9, with the first account of what happens.

In 9:1, he is breathing threats against those who follow Jesus Christ.

In 9:18, "immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized..."

(In 9:19, he eats. Being baptized was so important to him, that he was baptized before he ate. Which, if I've learned one thing about guys, means this was huge to him. It ranked above food... And he hadn't eaten in three days!)

In 9:28, after a heavenly blinding, he is "moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord."

27 verses. That's all it takes. In my Bible, I don't even have to turn the page to see this change, and both verses have been highlighted vigorously so that it stands out. God wanted Saul on His side. He told as much to Ananias, the one who prayed over Saul so that he would receive his sight again... "He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles (9:15)."

When God decides, nothing can stand in His way. Who are we to say who will, and will not, carry His name? Who are we to decide if someone is worthy of His calling? If someone deserves to show His Love to others?

Who are we, to think that we can change the hearts of men, with law?

We think we can. We think giving rules, mandates, stipulations, and requirements will force people to follow us in our blindness. We think that saying "no smoking, don't get drunk, pray before you eat, always shake hands, don't sleep around, read your Bible three times a day, brush your teeth after every meal, attend church three times a week, serve on a ministry team, and do not get a tattoo" will somehow show someone that Christ is worth following.

"Let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. (13:38-39)"

No matter how many rules and regulations we apply.. We cannot change the heart of man with laws. Ananias had the opportunity to show Love to someone who was viewed as a wicked, ruthless man.  He didn't want to, and he struggled with going to Saul in the beginning. But he trusted the Lord, and referred to Saul as his brother (9:17) from the beginning. 

We are here to Love, realizing that only God in Heaven can change the heart of a man. 

Saul became Paul and eventually made it back to Rome, "preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. (Acts 28:31). Our Lord does not allow our attitudes to stand in the way of His plan, and we are foolish to believe that anyone other than He changes their hearts to make them His Servants.

Saul became Paul, and traveled the world risking his life many times, Because God wanted him too. 

If God wants you to do something for His glory, He will orchestrate your life so that it happens.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What is Forgiveness?

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, 
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 
bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;
just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 
Colossians 3:12-13.

Forgiveness is a choice. Not a feeling. 

Forgiveness is an act of the will.

Forgiveness is not saying that ______ didn't matter, or that I probably deserved _______.

Forgiveness is saying that _______ was wrong. Very wrong. It did matter, and it hurt me deeply. And now, I choose to release you and give you to God. 

The feeling to forgive someone may not come for a very long time, because our hearts are fragile and vulnerable. We don't easily forget when someone wounds our hearts. Thankfully, forgiveness does not ask us to forget, but to choose to take the offender and place them and all the pain they have caused, at the feet of Jesus. To let Him work in their lives, and have the freedom to work in my life, as well. 

When we hold on to the wrongdoings, we become so entangled in them that God has no ability to work in our hearts. We are so distressed, so frustrated, so wanting justice, that we miss what He may be trying to teach us.

Forgiveness means choosing God over bitterness.

It means choosing Love over lies.

It means choosing Healing over hurt.

It means choosing Kindness over cruelty.

It means choosing Christ.

It is not impossible, but it calls for a daily surrender to Him. A willingness to let go, and let God. A wanting for God's place in my life to rank higher than the hurt, anger, and fear that may be present.

Even if we never hear someone say "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" we still must be willing to forgive, trusting that God will bring them to a place of true repentance.. Because only He can change hearts. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Poison & Salve

Black, cold, and hard, the heart hides under the covering. Lifeless. Loveless. Beating only to please itself, producing many poisons...

Pride. Lust. Sarcasm. Disparity. Anger. Deceit. Haughtiness. Jealousy.

The poison is pumped through the body, overtaking it with a power than seems impossible to fight. It encases the heart and mind with a thick black crust. Saturating the mind until it believes it belongs. Life is simply an endeavor to please the poison. To fill the desires the poison brings.

It does not belong.

We do not have to live with hearts of stone.

The Light comes and breaks through the smallest crack in the poison. The tiny ray pushes it's way through the crust, bringing a sudden burst of life to the heart.

Somewhere deep within, it begins to beat.

Slowly at first, for it is still encased in the crust of the poison, which is desperately trying to close the crack created by the Light.

But the Light cannot be stopped.

The center of the heart grows warm as the Light continues to push through the crust. It beats stronger and faster, breaking the crust open wider and allowing more Light in.

The heart thirsts for the Light. It soaks it up, and soon the heart is glowing pink. Fleshy. Warm.

The burning lines of poison are being overtaken with the salve of the Light.

Hope. Kindness. Love. Gratitude. Humility. Thankfulness. Grace. Mercy.

They course through the veins, saturating the weary mind with a new life. Soon, the whole body glows, as the salves heal the burning, charred areas where the poison once was.

The salve of the Light has healed the heart, but the battle is not over. The poison will always try to come back for what it once held so tightly as long as there is any life in the heart. The Light will always reveal the poison and smother it with salve, letting the salve overtake the body.

The beauty comes when the salve covers the body completely. The salve begins to glow, reflecting the Light onto the other bodies it encounters.

The Light is now able to penetrate the poisonous crust in their hearts.. The tiny ray pushes it's way through the crust, bringing a sudden burst of life to the heart.


"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Monday, December 24, 2012

He is Christmas

Time flies by faster than seems possible, most days. The world spins at an alarming rate, begging us to keep up with its whirling ways. Calling to us to play games of popularity and prosperity, pulling and crawling our way to the top... Of what?

In the midst of the crowds, the noise, the shove, there is a quest for more. There is a silent calling to our hearts. The call of a Child who was born into a crowded and busy town during an uproar, it's softness piercing the chaos. The call of a Lover that only we can hear, speaking to us strongly when we are weak. The call of a Man who endured the trials we face now, loving when we are surrounded in brokenness.

Here. Today. The call of our Savior. Born in perfect grace, in imperfect circumstances, to the least perfect people. People like me.

There is healing in His voice. Strength in His grace. Hope in His call. And eternity in His Love. He is the gift we so swiftly forget each day. The gift that is here for our taking every day. And the gift that will last until the days are no more.

He is Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is a Lady?

What is a young lady to do? In this society, era, generation, and world.. We receive such mixed messages about what we are to do, how to act, what to wear, what to think, and how to live our lives..
In one corner we have the Christian standpoint of waiting patiently and quietly for Mr. Right to come sweep us off of our feet. He will come dashingly, daringly, and do everything in a way that rivals Mr. Darcy. In the opposing corner we have the World standpoint of throwing yourself out there and jumping around like a ping pong ball, dating and dumping as you "try out" personalities and guys.

Extremes? Possibly. Common? Yes.

What is a single young lady to do? Does she stow herself away at home, holding her breath as she waits for a dashing young man to come knocking on her door? Does she throw herself into a throng of men to "meet" as many as possible in a small amount of time? How does she interact with the men she meets? How does she treat them? What in the world, does it mean anymore to "be a lady"?

I believe and am learning that there is a fine line. A line that includes caution, being a woman of integrity and meaning what you say, living what you mean, and saying what you believe.

Mean what you say: Simply, the words that come from your mouth show what is in your heart. The things you say and the words you speak show the world what is on the inside. If you gossip or stretch the truth for the sake of attention, that is demonstrative of what is inside your heart. 
Also, when you compliment a young man, mean it. They can tell when you are serious, but they often can not tell when you are complementing them in a back-handed or sarcastic manner. Be honest. Let them know they looked handsome at the Christmas Eve service, or that they did a really good job with their presentation at school. Be open enough to show you soft side, otherwise they may think you don't know how to compliment anyone!

Live what you mean: If you mean the things you say, live like it. Live like the young men in your life are valuable. Act accordingly and let them step up and be men! They need to practice being men as much as we need to practice being ladies! Let them open the door for you, carry things for you, wipe your car off when it's covered in snow, and walk you to your car.... Whether you need it or not. That's the kicker. We may not need their help, we may be completely capable of carrying something or opening a door, but it allows them to practice being men. And really? It's rather nice to feel valued and appreciated. 

Believing what you say: Believe that the young men around you are valuable, and that we are to encourage them to pursue the Lord. And say it; don't belittle them or tease them! They have hearts, and they have emotions, too, believe it or not.. Have you ever stepped back and observed a young man after he is on the receiving end of a sharp blow from a "lady"? Whether she meant it or not? You can see the flame die a little in their eyes. It hurts them. 
Live in a way that is gently pushing them to be men and show them there is more for them than what the world says. You don't have to hide, nor throw yourself at them. You can be you. You can build them up. Show them ways to serve you and others around them. Help them (literally, we are to be "help-meets," why not practice it now?). 

As they learn to be men, we learn to be ladies. As we learn to let them lead, we learn to serve along side them. As we learn to compliment, they learn they are valuable. And valuable they are.

Urban Dictionary defines a lady as: "an elegant and good-hearted woman who uses her femininity in the most dignified and endearing way possible." Gals, let's be ladies! We don't have to throw ourselves at men, nor do we have to hide! What a blessing!! We can live with integrity, dignity, and be endearing and soft towards those around us. Which is how God made us! What greater blessing is there than to live as God made us? As you live this way, you will notice that the men around you will enjoy being around you and come away from any interaction with you feeling valued, whether you see them frequently or once every eighth Thursday. That, is what it means to be a lady.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The number one distraction in my life.
How easy is it to fill your schedule with work, school, church, ministry, family, and friends? How easy is it to let the commitments pile up until you don't know where exactly your sanity went? How easily do we let every activity throw itself at us, until we barely have time left to sleep?

Easy. Too easy.

I've heard it said that you can tell a person's priorities by looking at their checkbook(of course, this assumes that they balance their checkbook). I think you can also tell by looking at the things they clear off their calendar for. What undoubtedly, every week, do you do, no matter what? What is there no hesitation in your mind about clearing your schedule for?

I've found it interesting to watch my close friends over the past few months, with the insanity of school in full swing. To see what they have committed to daily making time for. To seriously think about what I daily commit to making time for. My job is a given, and all other activities are scheduled around that. But before work, if I am not up on time because I was up too late the night before or didn't sleep well, what's the first thing I chop out of my daily schedule? For me it has come down to a) my quiet time, or b) my workout. My time spent in the Word not only refreshes my heart, it starts me off with a much better attitude. And, God is aware when I don't go to the gym, because without fail all my patients on those days that I "skip" working out require heavy manual stretching or massage. So I feel like I did something physically challenging either way!

We are barraged with many, many ways to spend our time. The TV, computer, cell phones, housework, and any extra activities are thrown at us wherever we turn. And when we get caught up in all the extra commitments, we miss out on the things that are of eternal significance. Will doing such and such an activity allow those around me to see Christ? Will working out 5 days/week matter when I reach Heaven?

Will spending the extra 10 minutes with a patient who is having a difficult day, cutting into my lunch, go unnoticed by the King? Will He turn His back on us when we invest our time in relationships that glorify and honor Him? Will He not bless us for giving Him first priority?

Nothing we do to honor Him goes unnoticed.

He wants us to put Him and what is important to Him first. He wants our devotion, the number one, permanently inked place on our calendar. To have His priorities, to Love Him, Love His word, and Love His people.

The enemy will do everything he can think of to have us scratch the things that matter to God off of our life calendar. But we have the choice to say no to the busyness. To make time for the things of lasting importance. And to ink His holy name on every page of our daily planner.