FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Sideways

Life.

It did it again.

Came, and knocked me sideways.

Matters of health. Matters of the heart. Matters of the head.

It didn’t matter to life.

Didn’t matter that THIS was not a good time. You know – during the holidays; at the beginning of a new year; during the first days of a new semester; after I had made some commitments and promises and begun some new endeavors, while other family “things” were going on…

Life did not care.

How can so many things be going sideways – all at once?

If you think I have an answer, stop reading right now.

I don’t have an answer. But through the past weeks I have gone from tears to a down right pity party to finally remembering that while I was caught completely off guard – or as I told a friend, having the rug pulled out from under my one good foot (the other one is actually broken) – Jesus was and is fully aware.

It is during times like these I remind myself that nothing catches my Lord off guard.

Why so much at once? I don’t know.  But if He has allowed this, He surely has a reason and, more importantly, He will surely use this for good. Possibly my good, perhaps someone else’s good, prayerfully for the good of His Kingdom. But He will, as He promised, work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

So knocked sideways? Stay in His purpose. Diligently obey Him and He will not only straighten things out, He will set you high above all the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:1).

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Hurry Up; the Red Light is Coming!

My father taught me to drive.

If you knew him, you would find that statement scary.

Let me be clear; I loved my father.  In the words of my paternal grandmother, I loved him better than Peter loved the Lord.  I was probably 30 years old before I thought he could do wrong.  He and I were like two peas in a pod.  We would stay up late at night talking and laughing.  My mother would scream down the hall, “Go to bed you two!”  And he and I would laugh and keep talking.

My sister and I were reminiscing just recently.

Who got up when we were coughing during the night?  Daddy.  He gave you some cough syrup and poured most of it down your pajamas because he was still half asleep.

Who made you rake the leaves with him and then let you jump into the pile?  Daddy.  Then we raked them again and tied them in big white sheets.

Who woke you up in the middle of the night, carried you on his back to the car and took you (still in PJs) to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts because it was time for the “Hot Now” sign?  Daddy!

And who taught me to drive?  Daddy.

Now, I loved him, but he was a horrible driver.  He wrecked his cars and then he wrecked my first car.  He would speed to work every morning because he never left home in time.  He passed 2, 3, 4 cars at a time.  He fell asleep at traffic lights then took off when the lanes next to him moved and crashed into the rear end of those in front of him.  Forgive me for telling this, Daddy – but He passed a stopped school bus or two in his day.  And he told me (true story) that the yellow light meant “hurry up ‘cause the red light’s coming.”  Once I put on brakes as I approached the intersection and the light was changing.  He said, “No, squeeze the lemon!”

Isn’t that what we do when God seems slow to move?  When He doesn’t answer, doesn’t move, doesn’t open the door, we rush ahead of Him to make things happen in our desired timing.  But, in the words of Dr. Phil, “How has that worked for you?”  Impatience and acting independently of God does not work.  He asks for our obedience, and red lights are often part of His strategy and plan. We read in Revelations 3:7 (NIV) that “what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.”

In Genesis we learn of Joseph who waited years for the fulfillment of a God-given dream. Read the story; the wait was more than worth it. God opened a door wide for him and to the benefit of his family. If He did it for Joseph, He will do it for you.

God’s timing is perfect. Obey His signals – including His red lights and yellow lights. As Joyce Meyer says, “Trusting God brings life; believing brings rest.”

And patience brings green lights!


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Hold the Ketchup, Please

I should have known that it was coming.

Life has been good. Real good! I retired – for the second time. I spent the summer resting. It was wonderful. I read. I cooked. I napped. I rediscovered trash TV. (Thankfully I am over that now!) But even better – I prayed. I journaled. I began this blog. Did I say I napped? Yes, it was all good!

Then my phone rang. It was a job offer. It seemed good, so I said, “Why not?”

Then an email came. The very next day. It was a job offer. It was something I thought I’d enjoy, so I said, “Sure.”

I’d forgotten that I had registered for three seminary classes, but still I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I could balance it all. And so, after about 60 days of sweet, blissful rest, I returned to the world of work and homework. My days (and nights) are busy, but they are enjoyable. The pace and culture are very different from my last season of work. I soon got caught up in setting my new calendars, meeting new people, rethinking my days and even shopping for a few new outfits because the hose and heels weren’t necessary every day. I got caught up in this new life which was such a change and such a relief from the past that I forgot.

I forgot the warnings of 1 Peter 5:8-9. I forgot to be self-controlled and alert because my enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour.

But he didn’t forget, and this week he came. The prowling enemy. The devil. He sought to devour. He sought to steal my joy, to make me doubt, to make me second guess myself and my work, to thwart the success I was experiencing, to scatter obstacles in my path, to confuse my mind and to trouble my spirit.

He caught me off guard because I was having such a good time in life. He opened wide his jaws to devour me. And at the first snap of his teeth, I gave up. But thank God I quickly regained my senses and my footing. I realized that the devil may come, actually the devil will come to devour, BUT I don’t have to spread the ketchup on myself making me all the more tasty for him.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? At the first nip we give up and give in. We surrender to him our thoughts, our sleep, our peace and our joy. Rather, we should fight against him. Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), refuse to lose sleep understanding that our Lord never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), hold fast to the peace that our Lord has given us (John 14:27) and guard our joy realizing that it is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Too often we have given the devil far more credit than he is due. He is NOT an all-powerful being who is the evil equivalent of God. He and God are NOT two equal forces in opposition to each other – one good and one evil, one light and one dark. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. He us under the foot of Christ and, therefore, under out foot.  As we submit to God and intentionally resist the devil, we can enforce the victory Jesus won thereby forcing Satan to flee from us.

Hold the ketchup. Please!


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Launch Out Into the Deep

Summer has ended and fall has truly begun – not just on the calendar, but in the weather.  We’ve had some really cool nights and mornings.  I love the change in the seasons, especially between summer and fall.  But I’m a little sad, too.  This summer seemed to fly, and it is the first summer in years that we did not get to the beach.  Once.  Never.  Not even a drive by.

I am really fortunate to live about an hour’s drive from the ocean – the real beach!  Ponds are nice.  Lakes are lovely.  But nothing compares to the ocean.  Waves lapping.  Squishy sand between your toes.  Seashells and Seagulls.  Sometimes we’ve driven to the beach just for a walk along the shore.  With sandals in hand we let the waves wash over our feet, and we occasionally stoop to pick up shells.

That’s a good day – walking hand-in-hand with someone you love along the water’s edge.  But to really enjoy (and experience) the ocean, you have to go beyond the shore.

The same is true with life.  The same is true in ministry.  We have to go beyond the shore.

“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.  Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke 5:1-4 KJV)

Obediently, but possibly with some hesitancy, Simon launched out.  Isn’t this His command for us, too? Aren’t we to launch out into the deep doing what our Lord commands? No excuses. No hanging around the periphery? No sticking with the familiar and the comfortable. No waiting for something to wash up onshore.

Faith can bring the most unexpected of miracles. Verses 6 and 7 of Luke 5 (KJV) tells us that when Simon and his men had done what was commanded, “they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”

Faith is about action. We can say that we have faith, but faith without works is dead (James 2:20 KJV). Simon could have responded to the Master, “Thank you for letting us know that there are fish in the lake. Wow, we were wondering since we didn’t catch any. Maybe we’ll go out tomorrow night.”

Faith requires us to yield – our thinking, our possessions, ourselves. Our Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and neither are His ways our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) We must trust His commands and be quick to obey them.

As Alvin Slaughter sings, “…by faith we must climb into the boat, and follow His command” letting our faith take us somewhere that we’ve never been before. “Launch out, Launch out into the deep.”

Launch Out (by Alvin Slaughter)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVhSy8Ql6AQ

“Sometimes we hold on a little longer than we should   Letting go can be hard but it’s sometimes for our good   The fear of what’s ahead sometimes makes us fall behind.  We can see the times are changing but pretend that we’re so blind   You’ll never really know just what the future holds   But we know God holds us in His hand.   So by faith we must climb into the boat; And follow His command.  

CHORUS   Launch out into the deep. Let your faith take you somewhere that you’ve never been before.  Launch out into the deep. Let your faith make you fly. Let your faith make you soar.  Launch out, Launch out into the deep.”


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Choose Life

Somewhere I read this quote:

What is Life?

They say it is from B to D – from Birth to Death.

But what’s between B and D?  It’s a C.  So what is C?

It is a Choice.

Life is a matter of choices.

And, if you are like me, sometimes that is good and sometimes that seems not so good.  For example, there are days when I wish someone would just make all the decisions for me from what to put on in the morning to what to eat for lunch to what to do about a problem at work and, surely, what to serve for dinner.  (How many ways can you cook chicken!)

My pastor preached a sermon once about our stuff and how much of our time, energy, mental faculties, etc. are consumed by our stuff.  I remember him saying that if you only owned two shirts, chances are one would be on your back and the other in your closet.  Not a lot to think about there – you’re either wearing one or the other. (Hmm, definitely a message there for us ladies, but I won’t touch that one today.)

The fact of the matter is that we have choices in life.  In America, we tend to have the luxury (or the headache) of a lot of choices.  Our closets, for the most part, are full.  Our pantries are full.  Our days are full.  We are constantly bombarded by choices.

When it comes to life, I think the “choice” is whether to choose to live or just to exist until death.

And, yes, even in this we have a choice because Our Father has given us free will – the ability to make certain choices.

Consider Deuteronomy 30:11-20. (Please read the full text; I’ve shared an excerpt here.)

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven… Nor is it beyond the sea… No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. “But if your heart turns away and you will not obey… you shall surely perish. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants – by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days. (NASB)

I love this text!  It seems to have in mind those of us who simply don’t want the pressure of another choice, another decision.  This is essentially a no-brainer; “what I am commanding is not too difficult for you.”  There are but two choices – life and prosperity or death and destruction.  Like those two shirts, you’re either choosing one or the other.

For years I struggled to have children.  After many pills, procedures and prayers the time seemed right.  My OB/GYN told me to act immediately, but a lot else was going on in life, so I told him I wasn’t ready to decide.  I will never forget his response – “By not deciding, you are deciding!”  Wow!  That bit of wisdom is apropos for much of life (maybe all of life.)  By not deciding, we are deciding.  The author of Deuteronomy tells us to love the Lord, to walk in His ways, to keep His commands, to obey His voice, to hold fast to Him.  This is life and the length of our days.  And the opposite (the other choice) brings the opposite – death.

What is Life?  It is from B to D by way of C – our choices.  Choose life!