Better Together

Five women. Women who are branches of one rooted tree who is Christ. Truly He is our One common denominator.

It is true that among the five of us we share some commonalities in that we’ve all stayed married and all have children. Yet, none of our marriage relationships have taken the same tract, nor have we raised our children just alike. The sheer mystery of how we all ended up living within a 5-mile radius of and even met each other testifies to our Father writing our stories.

Two of us began our life story in California, one in New Jersey, and two in Georgia. Add in our husbands who were originated from additionally diverse areas of the country, and the conclusion is that our Father God brought us together for such a time as this.

Thanks to the organizational gifting of one and the hospitality gifts of others, we as couples have met quarterly for dinner, conversation and laughter. As sisters we’ve known each other round about 20 years. However, this past year over four Saturday evenings is the time we’ve gotten to know each other best by bringing our men into the mix. Our bond as brothers and sisters is more tightly knit than any of the previous years.

No one has it easy. This world is rock hard and dimly lit. We’re all struggling individually and as couples to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Yet, when we come together the light of Jesus in each of the ten of us makes the room bright.

At the end of stories around the table, laughter to the point of sides hurting, and hard tears brimming at the edge over painful circumstances, we grab the hand next to us and call out to our Father.

“I laughed so hard I had tears running down my legs!”

It’s all too much. Life. This broken cistern in which we dwell for now. We know our bodies will be made whole one day, but right now they hurt. Our trust is in the Lord for those we guided most imperfectly, but lovingly into adulthood. Hope is what we hold out for the youngest who bring amazing joy in the midst of struggle.

It’s all too much for us to bear individually. So, we as brothers and sisters bear it together, and carry it all to our Good Father, our Elder brother Jesus, and we wait together as Holy Spirit pours the healing balm over our minds and hearts. The balm looks like smiles and hugs from one brother and sister to another as we walk out the door.

Until next time. We’ll text in between. Prayers. Praises.

We’ll cross paths with each other here and there. Old situations will be reviewed and new ones added. Listen. Support. Encourage. Pray more.

How is it that we’ve come together? So different are we – from North to South and East to West. Blue and red. Values yes. Conservative on some and not so much on other issues. Denominations and none. All valuable. All loving. All well-intended. All as different and unique as the One who designed each of us.

How is it we’ve become so close? Certainly not because we think just alike! All ten of us process information through extraordinarily different lenses and filters of life experience.

We have One Father. We are each adopted by Him. Grafted into His One rooted tree. Called by His name. And appointed by Him – commanded dare I declare – to live, love and seek Him together for His glory and our good.

I hope you will take time this week to listen to Ravi Zacharias (RZIM) as he engages in a face to face conversation with a brother in Christ of a different generation. This conversation between Ravi and Tim Tebow impacted me with hope for our future.

That’s how I see it. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,

~Lisa

Day 18: May I {share} what I have with you?

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.  All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.  The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.  There were no needy people among them because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.  Acts 4:31-35share

To {share} is truly God’s idea.  With a focus on sharing we can see from the creation of the world in which we live, God chose to share His creation with us.  And truly this morning I’m struck with a fresh awareness should God choose not to share with me, I would have nothing – not even air in my lungs.

So, as much as I think on any given day I’ve come up with a great idea to share something of what I have with someone else, I have to stop and give thanks to God for sharing that idea with me.  Pondering on the word share for today, my mind first landed in the book of Acts, the early church gathered together in community sharing what they had with each other so that the needs of everyone were met.

I’m wondering if God’s definition of community is sharing.  If we were to look in Father’s dictionary would we find community and sharing as synonyms.  I myself am fairly convinced this is so.  Again gleaning truth from the book of Ruth, I see a similar community of sharing and taking care of one another portrayed.

Certainly, Naomi shared her home with Orpah and Ruth.  Later, Ruth shared Naomi’s home and God and people in Bethlehem of Judah.  The women of Bethlehem welcomed Naomi home and took Ruth in as one of their own.

Boaz shared his field with Ruth and certainly many other women who would glean in his fields throughout the harvest.  Significant here though is that Boaz showed a special kindness to Ruth, a foreigner, by allowing her to share in the harvest.  By sharing with Ruth, Boaz was also sharing with Naomi as was right for a near kinsman.

Naomi shared with Ruth the ways of God Almighty and the Laws of Moses.  As was discussed yesterday regarding discipleship, Naomi prepared Ruth for becoming the wife of their near kinsman and taught her the way of being redeemed.

And then Boaz stepped in.  Boaz had something more than grain he could share with the women to help sustain them.  He had a voice, a good reputation and standing in the community.  Boaz took up their cause at the gate, publicly sharing Naomi’s desire to sell her husband’s property.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Boaz was the first to speak up for the widows, Naomi and Ruth, however, respectfully he shared the opportunity to redeem Naomi’s property with the man who was to have the first option – the nearest kinsman.

I hope you’ll read these beautifully insightful scriptures for yourself…the whole book of Ruth, particularly here Ruth 4, with a focus on what it means to live in community and share – not just with those who are of the Church, but strangers in our communities as well.

Certainly, I have gleaned much from these passages, and I’m asking…

Lord Jesus, teach me again today through Your word and by the counsel of Holy Spirit what You want me to know about community – where I live and work and shop and exercise.  Reveal to me Lord moment by moment what I have in my hands that I might share with someone I meet today.  And more than what I have in my hand, help me to always remember I have You to share with everyone I meet.  For Your Glory, Jesus… amen.

Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together.  Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses.  And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”  Ruth 4:1-4

Ponders:

What do you think?

  • Are the ideas of community and sharing synonymous?
  • What scriptures come to mind when you think of God sharing and people sharing?
  • Will you ask Holy Spirit to enlighten your heart about sharing?
    • what you have to share?
    • who you are able to share with?
    • do you agree you always have Jesus to share with anyone you meet?
      • what might it look like to share Jesus today?
      • what has sharing Jesus looked like in the past?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining

~ Lisa

 

Day 8: {truth} or dare? A dangerous game of name calling

She (Naomi) said to them (the people of Bethlehem), “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”  Ruth 1:20-21 esv

Naomi entered into a dangerous game of name calling as she encountered family members and friends in Bethlehem.  She rejected her true name of Naomi, which means pleasantness or agreeable and took on the name of bitterness or Mara.

I refuse to be judgmental of Naomi.  I’ve participated in this dangerous game of name calling more times than I care to admit.  My name Lisa holds beautiful meaning:  Oath of God, God is satisfaction and in an English translation – My God is bountiful.  When I choose the truth of my name – I love my name.  Who wouldn’t want to be called ‘My God is bountiful’?

However, a number of years ago as I experienced my own journey through the famine land, I felt anything but bountiful or satisfaction and certainly saw no evidence of God’s oath stamped on my existence.  It seemed I was in great danger of losing my husband and both of my sons – not by death as Naomi had, but loss loomed large none the less.

girl in wheat 31 days

I was tempted… and I often fell – made an agreement with the lies of the enemy about my true identity.  I dared to call myself names I felt were more suited to my empty life.  I was bitter, angry, hurt, and I most often called myself failure.

That is until beautiful, loving women of my faith community gathered around me to speak the {truth}.  They would not allow me to choose these lies and speak the ugly name of failure over myself.  I began to receive deep inner healing as they prayed with me and looked into God’s word with me.

We, together with Holy Spirit’s guidance, were pulling up the lies – the weeds – which had begun to take over my heart garden.  In the place of those weeds called lies, we began to sow seeds of truth.  With my friends help, the seeds were watered, life fertilized the ground of my heart and Jesus shed His Light in my heart until the beautiful garden of truth began to spring up and produce fruits of the Spirit.

In a truly transformational prayer time with friends and Holy Spirit, I was asked this question:  Who does God say that you are… By what name does your heavenly Father call you? (5 minutes)

In the quiet of my heart garden, the Lord met me there and the fresh breeze of His whisper washed over me with this name – Passionate Pioneer of Peace.  In my spirit, I heard my Lord assure me, “Daughter, this is the name I call you.”

Interestingly, as I researched Naomi’s true name and the bitter name she chose for herself, I found a beautiful {truth}.  God is famous for taking our bitter and making it sweet.

Brittains SGBAs the Israelites wandered through the desert wilderness – free from Egypt, but not quite home in the Promised Land – they came to a place called Marah, which means bitterness.  Do you remember this place from Exodus 15:23-25?

The people found water in this place, but the water was bitter.  Have you ever felt like they?  Dry, thirsty – water, please!  But the water was undrinkable.  Moses cried out to the Lord for help.  There at Marah, the place of bitter water, the Lord showed Moses a tree (perhaps a branch or a log) to place in the water.  Miraculously, the water was turned from bitter to sweet.

Ponders:

 

Oh, Naomi, you experienced this miraculous blessing of God in your life, and me too.  Gleaning here, I recognize the entrance of Christ’s tree into my bitter circumstances miraculously changes my testimony to sweetness.

  • Will I embrace {truth}?  Will you?
  • Who are the trusted friends in your life who love you enough to call you out when you dare to play the dangerous game of name calling?  Will you ask them to hold you accountable?  And will you do the same for those you love?
  • Will you ask the Lord in the witness of trustworthy brothers and sisters in Christ for the true name by which He calls you?  (Words of Jesus, His promise: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18:19-20)
  • Will you (along with me) with accountability choose to call yourself by the truth of your identity in Christ – your true name – for His glory and the power of your sweet testimony?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine  ~Lisa

 

Saturday Share: Daily Bread with Jordan Headlee

Welcome to Saturday Share!  And I just want to say, “Thank you, Irma, for introducing me to some of the most fun-loving and pioneer-spirited people I may not have ever met if it weren’t for you.”

Irma blew through Georgia at half-speed, leaving us and our new Florida friends without electricity for a few days. (Truly, nothing compared to the destruction and suffering of many.)  Though Irma caused considerable stress, expensive preparation and in the end even some extensive damage and loss, Irma turned out to be an incredible blessing to many of us living here in Cedar Creek, Lilburn, Georgia.

For a few days in September 2017, our neighbor’s home became a refuge from the storm, and I made some new friends.  It was difficult to see them leave, but we found each other on Facebook and Instagram, hoping to stay in touch.  One by one, our little neighborhood has taken great delight in hearing their stories of God’s faithfulness and protection as they’ve each returned to their new normal.

One of the men – husband, dad, and friend – Jordan Headlee has continuously posted positive and encouraging social media messages in the days post-Irma.  I’ve been blessed by Jordan’s perspective on life, God, priorities, and blessings – even in times of great trial.  And so, without further delay, I am thrilled to share with you Jordan Headlee’s words – Daily Bread.

Florida Evacuees Irma 2017 (2)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’  Matthew 6:9-13

 

If you have grown up around the church or in the Bible Belt of the South you are more than likely familiar with these verses known as “The Lord’s Prayer” and may have even prayed it yourself a few times.  In the wake of hurricane Irma, I am still being drilled with “give us this day our daily bread”.

2016 was a rough year for my marriage, my family, and my finances.  2017 was beginning to be light at the end of the tunnel, until September 7th.  On September 7th I came home from work to find my wife had packed to evacuate. I scrambled to pack a few belongings into a backpack and on Friday, September 8th we started our journey to Lilburn.jeremy and jordan

Our friends had thrown out an invitation on Facebook – while we know they meant it, I don’t think they expected the response they got.  We met Jeremy and Nikki McCann at small group going through the book “Power of a praying husband/wife” by Stormie Omartian in June of 2010.  It was another rough season for Dory and I in which God seemed to put us just where we needed to be, looking for our daily bread.

Over the years that small group has stayed connected although we litter the east coast from Delaware down to Florida now.  I’m pretty sure Jeremy didn’t expect 22 people to accept his invitation to come to Lilburn, but we did!  The logistics of having the 5 Headlees would have been enough on short notice, but God provided daily bread yet again.

Normally a 7-hour drive took close to 11.  Gas was scarce and the thought of loved ones staying behind was stressful.  Once we made it to Georgia, the neighborhood of Cedar Creek welcomed us with open arms – bringing food, towels, air mattresses, and other essentials to make the McCann evacuee shelter home.

As if the thought of losing your home, your belongings, and maybe even family and friends that stayed behind wasn’t stressful enough – I didn’t have vacation or sick days to miss work.  We ended up being gone for 6 days.

So why does daily bread hit home you might think?  It wasn’t because the grocery shelves were empty.  It wasn’t because of price gouging what was left.  Driving US 41 most of the way – back country roads, singing with the radio, windows down, with my 4 favorite people in our tiny Ford Escape; it was stress-free and kind of fun.  Realizing if I had to start again with just my children and my wife we’d be ok.  They are my daily bread.  A house, stuff, toys, everything left behind could be done without or replaced.

Cedar Creek tour square

Daily bread. 

We spend so much time worrying about the future.  I’m not saying don’t plan, Scripture is full of verses that talk about being wise, planning, being good stewards, and whatnot.  What I preach to myself is that I need to be present.

In the blink of an eye, Irma went from a 4 to a 2… from devastating to damaging… from destroying to annoying… My kids aren’t going to grow up someday and say “dad I wish we had more stuff growing up”, but they may grow up and say “dad I wish you were around more than you were.”  If we aren’t careful we put so much stock in the future – 401ks, IRAs, second homes, bigger houses, nicer cars, larger TVs, boats, RVs, and toys – that we can miss our daily bread.

I was also worried about missing work, but here’s how cool God is.  We had a debt that was pretty substantial month to month.  That debt wasn’t postponed.  It wasn’t late fee waived.  It was forgiven and a refund check of $57 issued to me for overpayment.

So, what was the monthly amount we owed?  Yep, it was the amount of those 6 days worth of work.  Anyone else get goosebumps?  You can’t make that up!

God will provide your needs.  It doesn’t always happen this way, but in His way He always provides.  Will you see His handy work?

Many places around the world, people go to bed without pantries full of food. When we say “there’s nothing to eat” often it’s more “there’s nothing I want to eat.” When they wake up they hope to have a meal or two that day.

With losing my job in 2016 the idea of daily bread was a reality for us.  That’s precisely when God laid Matthew 4:4 on my heart and seared it into my soul “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

While we were in Lilburn we visited Nikki and Jeremy’s church where Louie Giglio was preaching on how to live fear-less in an age of fear.  My heart was pierced as he read Psalm 46 and talked about who is in control. 

In the midst of natural disaster, war, famine, a cancer diagnosis, divorce, loss of a loved one, miscarriage, depression, in the midst of all of it God is on His throne.  These days were laid out before the foundation of the world. 

I just need to spend more time being still and knowing who is in control instead of joining the panic and wondering if God is even paying attention to what’s going on. He is giving us daily bread

Are you looking for it?

Ponderings:

1: How can I work to be more present for my family, friends, and community? God has tasked us with loving our neighbor as yourself.  What does that look like practically?
2: With all the chaos going on how can I stay calm and have faith?  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬
How can I encourage others instead of spreading fear?
3: Daily bread requires that we keep coming back day after day.  What’s your plan for getting into Scripture and spending time with God daily?  If you don’t have one I would love to help you find one!
4: In an age of fear – the news, internet, and water cooler gossip are full of people fearing the unknown.  How can we spread peace and calm the fear?  Maybe it’s changing how you use social media.  Maybe it’s speaking up about what God pricks on your heart instead of keeping quiet.  Maybe it’s allowing God to use you in ways you aren’t comfortable but are equipped.

Saturday Share: Nancy Parker – Encourager of the ‘Friday Dance’

Yes, Nancy Parker is the encourager of the ‘Friday Dance’ (which you will read in a moment), but she is much more to me and many others.  To begin, Nancy is most importantly a daughter of God and follower of Jesus.  Next, she is the devoted and loving Friedawife of John, and mother to their newly adopted, Freda – the chocolate-brown miniature schnauzer.

Special to me, Nancy is my next-door neighbor.  In fact, Nancy is one of the connectors I have with my new friend, Becky. (Remember Becky and Mike from my recent post – Self, when you’re tempted to think God doesn’t know your location…)

Nancy, from my vantage point, seems to be the lovely bordered garden holding her family of flowers together.  She is the mom to two and grandmother to six.  All of Nancy’s flowers are gorgeously handsome and uniquely created.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35 niv

Amazingly gifted herself, Nancy is an accomplished pianist.  She delights in all manner of fine arts and has been a wonderful encouragement and catalyst for her granddaughters’ participation in music and drama as well.Nancy's family

God knit Nancy together with a heart of encouragement.  Gratefully, I and our entire neighborhood benefit from Nancy’s warm smile and soft greetings. She remembers the conversations right where we left off.  It’s a delight to share a yard boundary with Nancy (and family).

Welcome, Nancy, and thank you for the beautiful way you remind your readers – friends, family, and passers-by…

Dance, it’s Friday. Dance.

Nancy P headshot jpeg

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pencil-33943__340Although January 1st is traditionally seen as the day of new resolutions, fresh starts, and do-overs, I have always preferred the start of the school year for that.

Perhaps it’s because on the first day of school I’m equipped with a freshly sharpened pencil ready to record my new plans, and hopes, and dreams.  Or maybe it’s because my soft pink eraser stands ready to rub out all my past regrets and give me a new start.

And let’s not forget my box of crayons with their perfect points all lined up and ready to add splashes of color and excitement to the mundane.  So check your own backpack, and join me as I step out in a new direction and dance in my shiny new shoes.

Dance, it’s Friday. Dance.

 

 

Saturday Share: Ruth Snell – Seeking to Live in Abundance

So, who is Ruth Snell?

Ruth Snell is an adventurous follower of Jesus, mother of three beautiful seeds and Nana to three more beautiful seeds.  She’s a daughter and sister from Illinois as well.  Ruth has been wife to John for forty abundant and mostly joyful years.  Life long tennis partners still, they’ve navigated some rough terrain together, especially the part when they said, “See you in heaven” to two of their three children on two different days and years.

Ruth and family

I didn’t know Ruth then, but I know the variety of experiences in her life story have all been combined by our loving and living God to sculpt Ruth into the “going for it” woman she is today.  Her testimony is wonderful, joy-filled and enough to bring tears, so I hope you’ll get to read it here sometime in the near future.

Better yet, maybe Ruth will dust off her blog and write her own e-book one day only because so many of us face these “valley of the shadow of death” stops on our journey, and wonder if anyone else has ever crossed this way before.  She has, and she has a word for those of you who are in the valley or on your way.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13 esv

Now that I’m a knitted heart friend of seven or so years, I can testify Ruth has gained exceedingly abundant life through her surrender to God.  She’s suffered loss and has learned through the travail how to sing praises to God through tremendous pain in the dark; and yet, Ruth desires more from her journey with Jesus.  She is asking, seeking, knocking on her Father’s door for more love for others, more joy, more Holy Spirit power in her prayers, more of God’s creative gifts, and more encounters with empty people into whom she will be able to pour the more.

Ruth kisses

I am continually amazed by Ruth’s desire to learn something new.  In one of our first conversations, Ruth expressed a deep heart desire for God to grow her up.  I remember thinking (and maybe I said it out loud), “Now that’s a prayer Father’s going to delight in answering!”  And He most certainly has grown His daughter up with abundance.

In these few short years, Ruth has written several songs and is learning to paint in watercolor.  She’s bought a bicycle for prayer riding exercise in her neighborhood.  Through our abundanceshared Community Bible Study leadership experience, she’s become an inspirational truth-soaked speaker and has shepherded many women with love, compassion, and grace. Additionally, Ruth eagerly pursues opportunities to share Jesus with strangers on airplanes, which she calls, “flying by faith”.

Most recently, Ruth decided to try on her writing hat.  She’s heard me talk about Five Minute Friday free writing, and the faith based community of writers who weekly participate.

In case you’ve never heard of a five-minute free write here are “the rules” for playing.

Read the word prompt.  Think.  Pray.  Perhaps sleep on the word prompt.  Ask for revelation.  Finally, set a timer for 5 minutes.  And write about the word prompt.  In the original intent of a free write, there are no edits, no spelling or grammar corrections. Just post.

In her growing pioneer spirit, Ruth set a timer today and wrote for 5 minutes.  I’m so honored she emailed me with the beautiful result of her “do it scared” first try.  You really have no idea how difficult it is to post without editing unless you’ve done it.  I’m so proud of you, Ruthie!

And so without further ado…

Ruth SnellI am absolutely thrilled to welcome my sister of another mother, Ruth Snell, to the sharing place with her debut Five Minute Friday writing on the word prompt {collect}.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many people collect things –salt shakers, seashells, accomplishments, awards. I’m not a collector of things but I am a collector of encounters in the middle of life circumstances with Jesus.

Several years ago I was playing, The Question Game, with family. The question that left me wondering, others answered quickly.  What accomplishment are you most proud?  They both had accomplishments that honestly they were proud to acknowledge.  But in a moment of sensing lack of accomplishments the Holy Spirit highlighted this for me, my greatest accomplishment was experiencing the Lord in the middle of life. FMF Collect

I realized in this word, “collect” that I do collect encounters with the living God.

In the Passion Translation Ephesians 4:23  says “Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you.”

I collect encounters with the living God when He meets me in the middle.

Stop.

 

Saturday Share: True Gold Magazine with Chloe

Thank you for joining me for Saturday Share.  Today I want to feature my friend, Chloe, creator of True Gold Magazine.

First, I want to tell you how I met Chloe and why I think she is a gem of a woman.  And then I want you to go to her website and read her story of birthing True Gold Magazine in her own words.

Chloe True Gold Mag

Though True Gold is taking a summer break from submissions, I feel sure they will be looking for more creative investments soon.   So for all of you creative people of God I hope you will become inspired to submit something to Chloe at True Gold Magazine – something creative you have birthed – for inclusion in her publication.

(By the way, if you are a vessel for Holy Spirit, you ARE creative.  Just ponder that for a moment…)

I met Chloe on a Friday night at Grace Midtown in Atlanta when we both providentially showed up for an evening of prayer and ministry to sexually exploited people of our city. I was familiar with this regular ministry event, and as prepared as one can possibly be for what and who we might encounter.  However, this was Chloe’s first opportunity to serve.

As I was the first time I walked into an establishment of sexual exploitation, Chloe had the deer in the headlight look of, “I had no idea!”  I wasn’t completely sure, as we had just met in prayer a couple of hours previous, but I felt fairly sure Chloe was not much older than my oldest son.  It seemed natural to me to feel a motherly protection for her.

I remember walking up alongside this precious young woman and putting my arm around her shoulder as we walked inside the darkness and smoke.  It’s unsettling to say the least, and nearly impossible to comprehend the lack of respect for human dignity in this environment.  Even though we, neither one, consider ourselves naive to the depravity of the flesh; eyes must avert and it is difficult to find a cheerful voice with which to minister God’s love to the women and men under these circumstances.

My most vivid memory of sharing ministry time with Chloe is that she carried a pocket-sized artist pad of paper and an artist’s pencil.  She sat quietly on a stool in the dressing room crowded with more flesh than clothing and sketched a picture of God’s love.  There was a specific woman she felt Holy Spirit was guiding her to bless with her picture.

With the amazing tenderness of Jesus in her eyes, Chloe asked me if it was appropriate to give her sketch to the woman.  I encouraged her to be bold and brave with her message of God’s bountiful grace and unfailing love.  She did.  Chloe reached out with the gift, and was met with tearful thanksgiving from the unsuspecting woman.

Life

We spent the rest of the night sitting way in the back seat sharing our life stories and traveling to various establishments chosen for ministry that evening.  I knew as we finished with prayer in the wee hours of the morning just before daylight I had met one of Father’s anointed daughters.  We’ve stayed in touch since then.  I’ve been watching and waiting.  I’m standing on tiptoes of anticipation as Chloe’s God-infused creativity takes deep root and produces a harvest of huge and beautiful fruit beyond her wildest imagination! (Mark 4:20 msg)

Please bless Chloe, as you peruse her work at True Gold Magazine, with a comment of encouragement to persevere in following the path Jesus is cutting for her – the path which will lead to the exact ministry He created her to accomplish.

(Click here to read Chloe’s story about the creation of True Gold Magazine – the inspiration, her passion and her intent for this publication.)

Chloe is on her way!  Bravo, young friend… do it scared!!

…What I have I give you

I wonder, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the needs of the people in your circle of influence?

I do.

And I have good news!

We, who are adopted children of God, have received the gift of God in the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, we have ALL we need to enable us to minister to every person in every situation of life.  This is good news!  We don’t ever have to feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of our world.  Nor do we ever have to feel at a loss for resources by which to offer assistance.

Why shouldn’t we feel overwhelmed?

And why should we not feel lacking in resources?

Living within the believer is the full power and unlimited resources of Creator God.  We are supplied with a garden of fruit trees capable of producing a harvest of God’s character – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Fruits of the spirit equip us for ministry.

fruits of the spirit

Because we belong to Jesus (we are His and He is ours) we are able to meet overwhelming circumstances face to face with confidence and bold JOY.  Jesus is our example.  He encountered crowds of physically, emotionally and mentally broken and hurting people who pressed in on Him everywhere He traveled.  We carry God’s compassion, just as Jesus did; so we don’t have to duck from any person in distress.

Jesus Himself said that His disciples would do even greater acts of ministry than He accomplished because Father would send His Spirit to help, equip and empower disciples of Christ.  The word of God assures us through the resurrection of Christ we are recipients of an unfathomable inheritance and the fullness of power for this present life by which we are able to accomplish the work prepared for us before the foundation of the world.

This is good news!

How do I know this is for regular people like me?

Peter and John give us an excellent portrayal of bold ministry in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances.  Let’s catch up with these 1st century preachers of the gospel as they headed for the Temple in Jerusalem one day…

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold,

but what I do have I give to you.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,

rise up and walk!”

Acts 3:6

Will you go with me in your Bible to Acts 3?  As you read along, let your imagination paint a picture of the scene.  Allow yourself to use the fullness of your senses to interact with the text of God’s word.

As we ponder this scene together, let’s keep in mind Peter and John have recently experienced the resurrection of Jesus, Messiah, and they have already watched Him ascend to heaven with the promise they will not be abandoned.  Holy Spirit will come to them.

Jesus Himself told them to wait in Jerusalem.  They waited.

They received the filling of Holy Spirit.

Every promise Jesus made was being fulfilled and people of The Way were growing in number daily.

And yet…there were still problems…in Jerusalem.  And on this particular day, on the way to the Temple, Peter and John saw a crippled man being placed at the Beautiful Gate to beg for money from those entering the Temple.  Their eyes met, these three men, each going about the usual of their lives and business of the day, and then something amazing happened!empty change purse

Perhaps the crippled man thought he found a couple of sympathetic donors in Peter and John.  Certainly he believed he would receive from them the money for which he begged.  Or did he suddenly fear he was about to be rebuked and silenced?

Peter, however, emboldened by the Spirit of God, not rich with gold or silver, addressed the deeper need of the crippled man.

He needed an encounter with the Living God.  So, Peter spoke directly into the man’s circumstances with the “all” he had to offer.

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.  He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.  (Acts 3:6-8 nlt)

More and more, day by day, I realize (like Peter and John) Jesus Christ of Nazareth is Who (rather than what) I have to offer.  Jesus is the solution for every need.  He’s not just enough.  Our Triune Creator is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  He is God of unlimited resources.  In fact, God created every resource in existence. (Genesis 1-2)

This is indeed good news!

I might not know what to do, but God does.  I might not have the ability to heal a person help up 2017or improve their circumstances significantly, but God does.  I might not be able to set a person free from bondage, but God is able.

Better yet, God wants hurting people to know Him, and He wants regular disciples like you and me to make the introduction.  God desires to impact people for their good, and His desire is for them to be uplifted through simple people like you and me.  Again, there is no need to feel disqualified, discouraged, incapable or overwhelmed.  We are not alone.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

2 Corinthians 4:7-8

Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood of diverse generations.  Right next door, behind and across the street there are homes filled with people who are hurting on various levels. People are ill, out of work, have broken relationships, or have recently buried a loved one.  You see it too, don’t you, in your neighborhood?

I am encouraged to look my neighbor in the eye and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

My office is located in a middle school.  A few thousand people surround me daily with seemingly impossible situations – some details known, but what of all the stuff of life buried within their shattered hearts.  Don’t you feel it too in your work place?

I am emboldened to stretch out a hand to a person in my work place and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

I attend a radiant church full of desire for mission – people wanting to make a difference in our 5 mile circle of influence.  And yet the prayer list of our own sick and wounded seems insurmountable on any given day.  You recognize it too, don’t you?  Wounded warriors on the battlefield?

I am energized to speak up in my church congregation,

“What I have I give to you.”

 

My apologies to anyone who might feel I’ve oversimplified suffering and compassionate Greater is HEassistance, please forgive me.  My intent is not to over-simplify or gloss over pain and suffering.  Rather to take the focus off of my lack, which sidelines me from service, and place the focus squarely on God for He is all-sufficient.

My intent is to:

  1. embolden you to make eye contact with people God has purposely placed in your path.
  2. encourage you to engage hurting people with confidence knowing Christ is in you as you are in Him.
  3. energize and equip you to offer the very best (Jesus) of all the resources you have to every wounded person you meet.
  4. empower you to use the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit given to you for the purpose of ministry.

What I do have I give to you.  His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth…

Ponders:

  • Will you seek to remember Acts 3:6 the next time your tempted to avert your gaze from a “crippled” person on your path?
  • Do you feel emboldened to minister as you reflect on the unlimited resources of God available to us as His Spirit indwells us? (Ephesians 3:20, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • What most often causes you to feel overwhelmed in the presence of hurting and wounded people?
  • Do you believe as a spirit filled follower of Jesus you have received power to be a witness and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, especially in your local community?  (Acts 1:8)
  • Are you able to say like Peter?  I have no silver or gold for you, but what I have I give to you.  His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Steady

Friends, this post, Steady, is written in conjunction with the five minute friday community.  Our leader, Kate Motaung, chooses a word (a theme for our writing), we set our timers for five minutes, and then we write.  The original intent was to write (just five minutes) on the theme word for the week without edits or corrections.  So here we go…

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coffee anchor

Steady. Steady as she goes. Steady Eddie.

These are all the words which initially ran through my thinking as I saw the five minute friday word for this week. Steady…

Well, my life has been anything, but steady over the last 3 or 4 years.  Actually, as I think about that statement I’m not sure my life has ever been steady.  Is life even supposed to be steady?

I’m thinking of a friend of mine, sweet Ruthie, who reminds me often that a straightline on a heart monitor means you’re dead.

So, maybe I am glad that my life hasn’t (probably never has) been steady.  At first glance, steady sounds good.  Even keel.  But then again where’s the fun in that.

Steady (in terms of even keel) would negate fun things like roller coasters and waves and see saws and swings and cartwheels.

Steady is not my life, but steady is my God.  Steady as a rock is another phrase that comes to mind, and He is Jesus.  Jesus is my Rock. My Foundation.  The Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?  (Psalm 27)

Saturday Share: Find Your Food with Jess Dudley

In this week’s Saturday Share I want to introduce my good friend and favorite doula (a person who assists in birthing), Jess Dudley.  You will find her at findyourfood.org where Jess transparently shares her journey out of obesity and now willingly and graciously extends her hand of assistance to all who are ready to say YES to life, abundant life by taking back control from controlling foods.  If this sounds like a journey you’d like to take I encourage you to go visit Jess Dudley today.

I’ve known Jess for nearly 20 years.  We were both moms of 2nd graders when she first caught my eye.  Her daughter and my oldest son were in different 2nd grade classrooms on the same hall.  I saw her as we each walked our children down that hall and into their classroom (back when we were allowed to do such a thing), but I did not know her.dare again

In those days of my early Christian walk my anxiety over leaving my children out in the world created in me a desire to learn how to pray.  I admit it – I was extremely fearful.  I no longer had my children continually under my wing.  I had the feeling of losing control (as if I had ever had complete control), and so prayers like “Now I lay me down to sleep…” were no longer cutting it for me.

 

I was crying out in my soul, “Lord, I need someone to teach me how to pray”!  One day I walked to my mailbox and inside was a Focus on the Family magazine highlighting on the cover (no, I’m not making this up) Moms in Touch – the power of praying moms for their children and their schools.  I held it in my hand in awe of God’s very clear and intentional answer to my cry for help.

The next day I carried the magazine with me to the school and down that same hallway with my son.  I saw Jess up ahead and Holy Spirit pointed her out as the woman who would teach me how to pray.  Please understand…I did not know her.  Nor had we ever spoken to one another.  We had no interaction which would assure me she was a follower of Jesus, but in complete terror and total faith I stepped forward.  Magazine out front I spoke up and told her I believed she was supposed to teach me how to pray.

Well, she looked at me and said, “No, I don’t think so.”  Had I gotten it wrong.  Was there someone else Holy Spirit was pointing out.  The next day I saw her again and similarly Holy Spirit pointed her out.  I approached her again, and she said, “No”.  This time I followed her all the way to the media center in the school where she was volunteering.  I continued telling her my story and how I thought she was supposed to teach me to pray.  Finally, recognizing I would continue to stalk her, Jess looked up at me and something similar to this, “Fine, I knew I was supposed to do it the first time you asked me”.

findyourfood.become

 

And that’s how we began our friendship – a journey together in prayer for our very culturally diverse and transient public school families, teachers and administration.  Jess was my doula in prayer.  She held my hand and helped me to find my voice before the Throne of Grace.  Together we asked God to do what only He could do to encourage teachers and bring parents together in community to support the education of their children.  As a partnership we recruited other mothers to come and pray with us.  We became an official Moms in Touch prayer group.

Our children are grown and we’ve each moved to a different community, but we stay in touch.  Throughout these almost twenty years, the Lord has zig-zagged our paths to cross at times.  I’m delighted to see where the Lord has brought my friend – to take back her life and gain control over food.  I cheer her on personally, but also as an encourager – a doula for many who also want to get their lives back.

Jess, my friend, it is a pleasure to highlight you and the ministry you have with Find Your Food

What do you holdFind Your Food

What are you holding?

When…When we pick food over our faith, shame settles in and it’s not long before we disqualify ourselves and slip away.

So often in obesity we tend to disqualify ourselves and any calling on our lives.  We’re feel we don’t qualify…Failure=Disqualification, right?

Picking Food over our Faith to cope, to comfort, to even entertain. Well, we are sure that’s not right, right?

Well God showed up and started talking to me about this…

Please take time to click here for the rest of this inspirational post by Jessica Dudley.

Jess Dudley

You can also catch Jess Dudley on Facebook Live  9 a.m.