On September 27, 2016, my daughter and son-in-law will travel to Haiti on a mission trip. The purpose of the trip is to disciple, teach and share the Word of God to those living in the small village of Dine just outside of Port Au Prince. I solicit your donations to help them pay for airfare. This is their second trip to Haiti and the local community stands behind their efforts to donate handmade pillow case dresses and shorts for the village children.
When I was a kid, a box of crayons and coloring book could occupy me for hours on a rainy day. It was a free for all with crayons erratically scribbling outside any designated boundary. To stay inside the lines wasn’t a consideration; I was a budding artist.
When finished, the colored page was given to mom who praised me for a job well done and displayed it on the refrigerator door until she found a polite excuse to remove it.
In adulthood the only time I color is with my kids or grandkids and when I do, it’s rare to find a clean page to color. The kids have scrawled over every page in the book with total disregard for the printed lines or direction they move their crayons. When I do find a blank page, I am quick to exercise my proprietary rights and ban squatter privileges to anyone under the age of ten.
For me, a blank color page exemplifies a new start in life; a new beginning in my walk with Christ. It’s like a form of therapy in times of stress and uncertainty. Every circular motion of the crayon is a reminder to stay within God’s boundary lines for the best outcome. I grow and flourish in my strengths, find comfort, serenity and healing when I choose to be obedient to God’s will.
There is a spiritual awakening that occurs when we discover God’s lines don’t confine or hinder us, but rather provide healing to do the impossible within us. His boundary lines are defined by grace, balance and love. To give Him control of our crayon box is to give Him control of our life.
Are you frustrated and confused about your circumstances and question God’s purpose for your life? Is your life going in every direction and cluttered with scribbles that extend outside the lines of grace?
I encourage you to ask God to help you color inside the lines of HIS will. Our Heavenly Father can color inside the lines of our life better than anyone else.
“Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you. Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.” Jude 21
I watched each Olympic gymnast run down the floor mat and jump onto the spring board. They catapulted onto the vaulting table with calculated precision in preparation for a perfect dismount. They knew every twist, turn and flip of their body could cost them a medal.
Countless hours of training had placed these athletics in a position to compete for the gold. They were disciplined, dedicated and driven to succeed in this competition but even that didn’t guarantee victory.
Slips of the foot on the balance beam, out of bound dismounts, body alignments and falls were critically judged. It required total perfection to win and every mistake or miscalculated move would be deducted from their final score. Pardon or favor by the judges was not an option.
I am not an Olympic gymnast nor do I participate in competitive events. However, I do train, practice and take part in Christian living. It is an affirmation of faith that requires a lifestyle based on Biblical principles.
Like Olympic gymnasts, there are times I make mistakes, lose my footing and fall. In those nebulous moments, I question the futility of my Christian commitment and wonder how many more times I can fail before being eliminated? The answer is NEVER.
In Christian Olympics there is only one judge that determines who receives the gold and His name is God; Elohim, (Creator and Judge of the universe). With divine knowledge God judges the actions, spoken words and hidden secrets of our hearts. All mankind is a participant and the only way to win is an admission of our unrighteousness and an invitation to make Jesus our Savior and Olympic coach.
To accept Jesus into your heart means imperfections are forgiven; they are no longer counted against you. The blood He shed at the cross covers the curse of sin. Like the Apostle Paul, the finish line is the Olympic goal of every Christian.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 7-8
Feeling defeated today? Are you ready to give up because you’ve lost your footing on life’s balance beam? Maybe you’re faced with life changing events that have caused you to lose your grip or have fallen from grace and overcome with brokenness.
Whatever your story and wherever you are in your faith, the Righteous Judge is near. He longs to show loving compassion, forgiveness and pardon from all your ineffectual attempts to participate in life without His help. He stands ready to coach you to the finish line and award you the crown of life.
“He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
The trials that test our faith are more precious than gold. So, go for the GOLD!
I tend to live my life in ‘finally’ mode where moments and events are crossed off a mental checklist. It’s like running a marathon to an unknown finish line. There are pit stops along the way, but instead of savoring the moment, I can’t wait until I can finally be on my way again so I can finally arrive at a future moment and finally reach the unattainable finish line.
It’s a destination to destination lifestyle that never takes pleasure in getting there.
The well-known idiom ‘getting there is half the fun’ doesn’t apply to me. I prefer being emailed or beamed to my destination; to heck with stops along the way. I’ll enjoy the trip when I finally get there which translates: OK, we’re finally here, let’s get a move on.
To operate in finally mode robs us of any opportunities to interface with life’s daily moments. There are no exclamation points between each finally, only a trail of dots. Jesus spent his earthly life journeying from one destination to another and a myriad of exclamation points followed Him because He never lost sight of His purpose.
So what is God’s purpose for me and you?
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
We can opt to chase the dots to our next destination, but if the journey isn’t divinely appointed, it’ meaningless.
God purpose for us is to have an intimate relationship with Him based on faith, worship and a heart that desires spiritual growth and a Christ-like character. Short and sweet, God wants to be the blueprint for our temporary residence on earth.
When I find my direction in life disoriented by the finally mode, I know it’s time to slow down and partner myself to the One who guides my steps according to His purpose. Our daily moment’s become anointed as we allow God’s purpose to navigate our life.
When life is finally over, I want God to say WELL DONE (followed by a multitude of exclamation points).
I am not a person prone to depression, but this morning heaviness filled my heart. Loneliness and teary outbursts befriended me as the enemy taunted me with my shortcomings, failures and flaws. What was going on?
I had just experienced a weekend of spiritual renewal that left me feeling empowered to take bold risks in my Christian walk of faith. The movie ‘War Room’ further inspired me to make a greater commitment to my prayer time and the study of God’s Word.
My fiery aspirations were quickly dampened as the enemy began to infiltrate my thoughts with relentless tweets that focused on my inadequacies.
“Why would Jesus love or use someone like you.”
“You think you are helping people through your devotionals but no one reads them.”
“Don’t you know God gave up on you long ago? He isn’t listening anymore.”
“Do you really believe God has a calling on your life at this age? “
And then, Father God began to stir the embers of my downtrodden spirit. Flames of faith reached upward as He stoked the fire. When I called out to Jesus, my darkness was turned to joy. God’s altar of grace burns continuously and the enemy cannot extinguish it.
Our sacrifices of praise, the blood of Christ, God’s Word and prayers of believers will keep the fire burning until God’s appointed time.
As the spiritual veil of darkness lifted, the Holy Spirit directed my thoughts to this scripture:
“The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”
Leviticus 6:13 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I sense an urgency to keep the fire burning continuously as we witness believers being mocked, persecuted and tortured daily for their faith in Jesus. Truly we are living in the end times where ungodliness is embraced by those in high places, acts of perverseness have no shock value and homage is paid to man’s ego and fame.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
II Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
I encourage Christians everywhere to keep the fire burning upon the altar of God. We are at war against the enemy of this world, Satan and there is no middle ground in this battle. You are either for God, or against Him. Who is your master?
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 NIV
I had memorized and recited this verse since childhood but it wasn’t until today that it stirred me with divine enlightenment. As a Christian, I am aware that the power of God’s written Word imparts change. My daddy was a pastor and in difficult times I would turn to him for guidance. No matter the situation I faced, his counsel was always the same– Get into the Living Word.
What the heck does that mean?
I am nearing 60-years of age and though the daughter of a minister, it wasn’t until today, I understood with divine clarity that I am empowered to become more like Jesus when I hide God’s Word in my heart. Old habits and lifestyles are replaced with new ones that please God and lead to peace and joy.
It is the double-edged sword of God’s Word that pierces through all the refuse we hide in our heart. The sword reveals who we are spiritually and when we get into the Living Word (read, study, and meditate) something supernatural happens. Our carnal passions and appetites are no longer concealed and become subject to judgment.
There is life in God’s Word.
Because it is living, it produces effects. It isn’t compared to just any sword, but to a (sharper than any) double-edged sword that is able to cut through the thick joint of a bone to the inner, soft, living part of the bone (the marrow).
God’s Word reveals the invisible dimension of our life; the natural man (soul) and the spiritual man. Are the “thoughts and intentions of our heart” spiritual thoughts and intentions or only natural thoughts and intentions.
Allow God’s Word to pierce you.
When we get into the Living Word and allow it to pierce our soul, we become acutely aware of our spiritual condition. Will there be marrow and life in our bone, or only a spiritless soul?
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
The recent killing of four marines in Chattanooga raises the question, at least for me, of why today? It’s a question I ponder about death. In the case of my dad, it was death by cancer. He clung to life until the appointed day of his death.
As the marines drove to work that day, they had no foreknowledge of the fate that awaited them. That day they were in the right place at the wrong time.
I understand God has given mankind freewill and the choices we make will impact our life as well as the life of others. The gunman of the marines choose the day he would purposely fire an AK-47 rifle at innocent people. In the process, he was empowered to determine the day he and four others would die.
Certainly the families of the slain, like me, have asked why today. As I try to wrap my thoughts around death, I am reminded that scriptures only provide a glimpse into the mystery of death.
“It is in the plan that all men die once. After that, they will stand before God and be judged.” Hebrews 9:27 NLV “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5
In this age of electronic devices death is broadcasted in real-time and reminds us that life is but a breath; it can end with little or no warning. Even as I write this piece another senseless massacre has taken place in a Louisiana movie theater; three people are dead and others seriously injured.
What I do know about death is we will all die. Some will experience a prolonged death; others may die instantaneously, accidentally or by choice. The knowledge that death is inevitable poses a greater question. Are we prepared to meet our maker when that why today moment happens?
The Psalmist said, “My whole life is in your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIRV
When we trust that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the victory of the cross overcomes the fear of death. When our life is in God’s hands the why today question is answered with why not today.