The Fork in The Road

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Why can’t God’s voice and the direction He desires for us be as clear as this answer I found on this path? 

What if it could be just as clear as the X and No on the left path in this picture? What if we just need to ask God some questions and then sit and listen quietly for His answer? Or seek Him through the scriptures?

You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. John 5:38-40 (MSG)

I remember when the kids were small, and we took a bike ride through the NC State campus. My husband and I explained to our children that this was where we met and began dating. They asked so many questions. “What did you do on your dates? Did you have sleepovers? What movie did you watch?” And our youngest wanted to know who babysat them while we were on our dates. 🙂

They were asking lots questions to find more about their mom and dad but beyond that. . . our answers were revealing a side of us they had not seen before. Our Heavenly Father wants us (His children) to ask Him questions too. He wants us to dive into His Word, His past, His promises, and His character so that He can reveal to us who He was, who He is and who He always will be. He
wants to answers our questions and give us direction. 

I wonder if sometimes we are so busy talking to God about our problems, our wants, and our needs that we forget to just sit and listen. Will you join me in sitting quietly with our Father this week and exploring His ways? 

Open Invitation

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Be still, stop striving, let go… and know that God is God” Psalm 46:10

This is the verse I’ve been pondering for the past week, so imagine my
wonder when I looked up from the path I was walking and saw this incredible
image. The sun was piercing through the trees like a spotlight in the middle
of the night almost making the bench glow. I heard God whisper, “Come sit with me.” 

Why is being still and quiet so difficult for us? Why do we find more value
in being busy and to-do lists than sitting still and quiet? Why do we feel
lazy or guilty when we take time to sit with our Father? Why do we always
feel as if we need to be in constant motion?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself and learning the answers to
for several months. We are in a constant battle with the world, and its
definition of purpose, success, and meaning. Over and over again, women tell
me that they struggle with saying “no.” Of course, I can relate and have to
practice it myself. It’s funny to think that such a small word with only two
letters can hold so much power over us. The guilt, shame, and fear of
letting someone down can be overwhelming. 

So, today, I want to leave you with a few examples of when Jesus Himself
said no and I pray it will give you the freedom to say it as well. The
beauty of learning to say no is that there is more time to spend with the
Lord and to focus on the few things He has called us to do for Him and do
them well. 

Jesus said no to Peter, who wanted to him avert His destiny on the cross.
Jesus even called him a stumbling block. Matthew 16:21-23

So, we can say no to friends. 

Jesus said no to His family when they claimed Him as their own. Mark 3:31-34

So, we can say no to our families. 

Jesus said no showing His great power and coming down off the cross as
soldiers mocked Him and He hung with criminals. Luke 23:35-39

So, we can say no to those mock us. 

Jesus said no to the crowd who was calling Him to be King. John 6:14-16

So, we can say no to those who call us into something we know we aren’t
called to do. 

Jesus even said no to the religious leaders who warmed him to stop alleging
He was the Son of God, even though He knew it would lead to His death. John
9:35-39

So, we can even say no to those at our church as well. 


Photo from 10/14/19 – North Carolina Art Museum

Not As It Seems

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It’s not as it seems. Our puppy, Gypsy, isn’t taking a walk on top of a house! As I walked our puppy through the art museum, I found an intriguing structure that allows you to walk on a rooftop.

Looking back on this picture, it helped me grasp the idea that I sometimes deceive myself.  I realized that when I’m asked to do something and I say no or decline, it feels as if I’m letting someone down, being selfish, or missing out.

Does anyone else have a difficult time saying, ” no” or “normally I would, but this time I can’t.”? These feelings are not as they seem. They deceive us into doing things we don’t have time for, don’t enjoy, add stress to our lives, and God hasn’t called us to do.

And most importantly, drain us the energy, creativity, and joy of doing the things God has actually created us and called us to do.  When you look through the gospels, you will find that even Jesus no. In fact, he said no to situations we would all do most anything to avoid: death, family, a show of power, becoming king.

Jesus said no to Peter who wanted to him avert His destiny on the cross. Jesus even called him a stumbling block. Matthew 16:21-23

Jesus said no to His family when they claimed Him as their own. Mark 3:31-34

Jesus said no showing His great power and coming down off the cross as soldiers mocked Him and He hung with criminals. Luke 23:35-39

Jesus said no to the crowd who was calling Him to be King. John 6:14-16

Jesus even said no to the religious leaders who warmed him to stop alleging He was the Son of God, even though He knew it would lead to His death. John 9:35-39

If Jesus said no to some of the hardest things we could ever imagine, how can we allow guilt to keep us from saying no to a few tasks and activities? Surely, our God who created the Universe and threw the stars in the sky has created and called someone to step up to the task.

Next time we are faced with a situation that requires a yes or no answer, maybe we should remind ourselves, we can’t do it all and not everything is our job! God’s got this!

 

Brevity

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I found our puppy playing with this Cicada. He was at the end of his life so he didn’t have much left in him, but enough to spudder around and generate his shrill distinctive buzz. I actually stopped and pondered their short lifespan and it made me sad to consider the brevity of their life. They incubate underground for around 17 years and only emerge to enjoy the sun, rain and life for a brief five to six weeks.

And then I realized two things. *Don’t worry – this isn’t one of those live every day like it’s your last day blogs.

1. Our life may be more than six weeks long, but it is very short compared to eternity. In fact, James describes our lives as a mist that appears for just a little while and then quickly vanishes.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:13-14

This encourages me to live following God and to cast my worries on Him. To do the most with it that I can, but not to please others . . . Just to follow God’s lead.

2. Some people live their lives just like the cicada incubating and living lives of sin and confusion until they come to know God and then they truly live. With God’s grace we can put all the past behind us and move towards something more. A life and heart full of grace, compassion, love and vulnerability. We may not get it right away, but as long as we are here there is hope. I type this especially for those of you who have been praying for a loved one or friend to find Jesus and it feels as if it will never happen. I have those people in my life too. It can be discouraging, but there is hope. We can’t give up. God adores them and will not stop pursuing them because the great love He has for all of His children.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17

And even when we know God and follow Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. . . We will royally mess it up sometimes. Knowing God and believing in Him doesn’t make us perfect, only forgiven. It also gives us a heart that strives to know, follow and be more like Him.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4:16-17

The brevity of this life is just as real as the eternal life that we are promised by God through His word.

May we all live it with wide open hearts and eyes upward.

Giants

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I recently had the opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat. My prayer is that I left the women there half as blessed as they left me. It was apparent as the sessions, days and time together continued that there were many women facing giants in their lives. Giant challenges, trials, sins, and situations that were consuming them, draining them, frightening them and filling them with doubt.

It reminded me of this picture my son and I took while we were at the beach this summer. The sun was setting and cast an unusual twist on our shadows. It made us look ten times taller than we actually are. Two things stand out to me after my weekend and looking at this picture.

One, when we are looking to ourselves to solve a problem or correct it on our own, those terrifying situations seem unsurmountable and too big to take on. But when we realize God is with us, it can put our fears and the situation back into its proper place. There is no problem too big for God, but all of them are too big for us.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20

Two, we forget the God we serve is better and stronger than we could ever imagine. He is bigger than any problem, sin, situation, and trial that comes our way and we can count on Him for our rescue and strength.

The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, Zechariah 12:1

What giant(s) are you facing today? No matter how big and overpowering they seem, God is bigger. I pray you will feel His presence, love, wisdom and courage in ways you never have before. I pray your trust in Him grows with each step you take and that you lean on Him for all the heavy lifting. He can move mountains!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Dust It Off

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All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17


Incorporating scripture into our lives and conversations is something we should do, but I believe over time, when we use/hear a scripture to often, the words can become dull to us. Sometimes, we have to pick it up and dust off the cobwebs. So, I will often study scripture by picking apart one or two scriptures that I hear or use often. This week I did just that with 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

First, I began by pulling out the key words and defining them.

Teach – to impart knowledge or make known

Rebuke – to take someone to task, show sharp disapproval because of someone’s actions or behaviors

Correct – to alter or adjust so it can be set right

Train – practice and instruction over a period of time

Complete – having all necessary parts, elements or steps

Equipped – to make ready for service or action

Second, I rewrite the scripture using the definitions in place of the words.

All scripture was given to us by God to impart us with knowledge, reprimand us for inappropriate behaviors, alter our course for success and instruct us over time (I LOVE THIS part! Notice we aren’t supposed to get it all right once we become Christians. We continue to receive instruction and practice over time) so that as children of God we can have all the necessary parts needed and be ready for action when God calls us to accomplish His plan and good works.

These first two steps slow us down and help us look at scripture in a deliberate way.

Third, I reread the scripture(s) and let it come to life in a new way. Allowing it to reawaken with meaning and hopefully pierce my heart in a new and profound way. Meditating on it, sending up prayers of gratitude for it and now (most recently) capturing an image from my daily life that ties it together visually for me.

What scripture do you cling to, have on your wall, bumper sticker, t-shirt or dish towel that you need to grab and dust off?

Holy Ground

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As I read through Acts 7, I was reminded about Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush as Stephen recounted it in his speech to the Sanhedrin. I would have loved to have been in the crowd for that one.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Acts 7:33

The only two times in my life I have felt as if I was on holy ground (and expressed it exactly that way) was by the death beds of two young people I loved dearly and lost way to early within just a few years of each other. When someone is dying the veil between heaven and earth seems so willowy and slight . . . it’s almost nonexistent.

I’ve often said that God doesn’t need to yell. He only whispers because He is close to us. We don’t yell in someone’s ear! We whisper in it. But here is what crossed my mind . . . Because God is always near us, mustn’t all the ground we walk be holy ground?

My mind is pondering this concept. It’s turning over and over in my heart and mind and giving me a new perspective on what I see around me, do and say.

He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created. Acts 17:28 MSG

Christ in us . . . Just as God was in the burning bush so long ago calling out to Moses. Does that take a hold of your heart in a new and tender way? I pray this thought and image begins to take over my heart with each day and that we begin to slowly realize how close God really is to us. And maybe, just maybe we will kick off our shoes in recognition of the Holy Ground we are on.