The Little Lighthouse Who Could!  Shine Bright!

You are called to shine forth the Light of Christ. How’s Your Shine?

Remnant, in a world that is getting darker and darker by the hour we are called to be lighthouses for the Lord.  Think about it, it is the whole reason why Jesus went up to Heaven and the Holy Spirit came down.  In John 14:26 Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “The Advocate.” 

Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one goes to the Father except through me.”  He then says in John 14:12 “I can guarantee this truth:  Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing.  They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.”  We, Remnant are called to shine forth the light of Christ like little lighthouses that are safety points for those that are in this dark world.  He says in John 14:25 “The helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.  He will remind you of everything I ever told you.”  The Holy Spirit is the light within us that shines forth and allows us to radiate the love of Christ.  THIS is what we are SUPPOSED to do.  THIS is HOW we are SUPPOSED to be.  We are to be about our Father’s business, as Jesus was about His Father’s business.  Imagine, if you will large numbers of us “shinning forth the light of Christ” in a world deceived and filled with darkness.  We ARE CHRIST’s Lighthouses.  How is your light shining?

Is the light of Christ within you strong? Shining brightly the Way?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to you?  To strengthen you?  It is not a “battery” tucked deep within you, but the Holy Spirit who brings to your heart and mind the things that you need to share with others.  The things that you need to do to grow brighter in Him that has called us.  The power is not anything that is within or of ourselves.  It is ALL Him.  The light within you is only as strong as you allow it to be!  The strength is not one that comes from self but comes from Him who dwells inside of you!  Lighthouses are beacons of light in the storms of life.  We are called to BE lighthouses leading others to the Lord – who is the TRUE light.  How bright are you shining?  How proud are you standing?  Is your structure built upon the One who generates the light within you?  We can do nothing in and of ourselves, we are completely dependent upon He who lives inside of us without His guidance our light grows dim.  The more you submit to what He is saying to you, the stronger the light of Christ radiates from your life drawing others to you so they themselves can see His light within you.

Be that beacon of light Remnant calling others home to God.  Letting them know of His grace and His forgiveness and His mercy and His love.  Stand tall and proud and with praise and with joy and with love help others to become lighthouses for it is not God’s will that ANY should perish, which is why He has called you by name!  Recognize and rejoice that God has called you to be a beacon of His light to others, leading them to safety wrapped up in the light of His love.

Our source is HIM.  Our strength is in Him.  Our light is His light which radiates deep within us.  The days are getting darker as it is getting closer and closer to Christ’s return.  God is calling you to be a lighthouse for Him.  Are you ready?  Then say with me, “Shine bright within me Holy Spirit that God made be glorified! My life, my heart, my body, my soul, my being belongs to Him!” 

The light of Christ which takes away the sins of the world and resides in you leading others home.  No greater calling, no greater joy. 

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God Said it – Believe it!

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Everything within us is connected.  We are made up of a body, spirit and soul. They are connected.

The body is our outward package which houses the spirit and the soul.

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

 

The  soul connects our mind, will and emotion to our physical heart and is what makes up our personality. The soul not only is connected to our physical body (which is like a container, because the body houses both the soul and the spirit which are intricately  woven together.) but also goes hand in hand with our spirit.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

The spirit – is the very core of who we are and houses our need and dependence upon God.

“and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

Those who are spiritually blind and have not come into this spiritual awakening are constantly trying to fill this void with other things (i.e. approval from people, addictions, money, prestige, etc.) The Bible talks about the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) Which only occurs when one comes into the knowledge of their salvation and the spiritual blinders are removed.

 

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The body as one grows older, goes through transformation, one passes from babyhood to childhood to adulthood.  Parents refer to this as “growing pains.” Just as our body goes through “growing pains” so does our spirit and just as we feel them within our body as we grow in Christ, God stretches us spiritually as well.  This stretching grows our trust and our relationship with the Lord and it can feel painful.  But spiritual growing pains are what help you to mature in your walk with the Lord.  God desires us to go deeper with Him.  Part of that requires dying to our self. And as we daily choose to die to ourselves (our will, our emotions, our desires) and choose to grow in Christ (His will, His desire) we flourish in all three body, soul and spirit.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Growing pains  can hurt – be it physical or spiritual, but the end results create maturity and also helps us to develop a deeper relationship with the Lord.

As long as we have breath in our bodies and desire to grow in Christ we will experience spiritual growing pains.  The older we get in Christ the more we are able to look back on our walk with Him to see where He has taken us and to share our growing experiences with others that God brings into our lives.  We are able to extend our right hand of fellowship to those who might be at a different spiritual place of growth than we are, which glorifies the Lord and encourages someone else that they are not/have not gone through what they are experiencing alone. 

We are beautifully and wonderfully made by a God who has loved us beyond anything our minds can comprehend. Let us love Him with everything He has made us to be, body, soul and spirit which is the reason we were created in the first place and in doing so we fulfill our true purpose in Him.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

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The Undefeated Soldier

She was down for the count, face first into the mud.  She’d fallen for the enemy’s trick yet again! She should have known better, she had been trudging through the mud for the past 28 years.  Had it really been 28 years?  She could still remember when she had first received her shiny new soldier’s fatigues.  How she wore them with such pride.  How she had been ready, willing, determined and able!
“Yes let’s go kick enemy butt!” She had said courageously puffing up her chest and ready to spring forward.

Had that really been 28 years ago?  There had been a spring in her step and determination in her eyes.  That was when she hadn’t personally known that the enemy would not fight fair.  It had not occurred to her that he and his dominions had been studying her since birth.  Knew her every weakness and temptation, she had not thought the battle would be so vicious.  But the enemy did not fight fair.

Her army fatigues were faded.  She was weary, though still she pressed on.  She had to.  She believed in what she was fighting for.  She had loved ones that (although they didn’t know it) were counting on her. She couldn’t give in, couldn’t give up.  She had to stay focused. Her steps were ordained by God.

There were times when the mud on the road got thick, so think she had compared it in her head to what it must feel like to walk in molasses.  Sometimes it pulled at her body giving her the sensation that she was sinking, like that of quick sand.

Give in, give up.” The mud seemed to say as it pulled her body down deeper into it, sometimes as high up as her thighs.  There were times when she could hear the enemy taunting her, “Who do you think you are? Do you really think He can use you??? Your sins are ever before you.  Why remember when you did this? Or when you did that? You weren’t thinking of Him then were you?” And the enemy would laugh a malicious laugh.

“GOD!” She would cry out as the battle sometimes got too heated, “Abba Father! Jesus I neeeeeeeed YOU!!!!” Then she would feel the mud drop its hold from her.

She cringed at temptations she had given in to, the times when she had followed not what her commander had instructed, but had gone by her own feelings, times when she had lost focus and gone off course.   Those were the times where she had just wanted to stop and wallow in the mud.  But she couldn’t because the cost was too high.  She had willfully enlisted, on her own accord.  And even when she was at her weakest moment – she still believed.  Deep in her heart she knew that because she had given Christ her heart.  She knew that it wasn’t her strength – but HIS.

There were times when she just wanted Him to hurry up and call them all home, but she knew that was selfish.  There were still many who needed to hear the truth.  To hear the message and be set free.  The battle would continue on until God deemed it OVER.  It was already FINISHED, but until He said it was over she would keep going.  Keep praying, keep, fighting, keep believing.

She had her weapon firmly in her hand – The Word of God.  Over the course of the 28 years a lot of it had gone from the pages of the Bible into the depth in her heart for her to call upon her promises whenever the battle got heated.  Oh how the enemy cringed when she spoke out her promises out loud.

“I will trust in the Lord with ALL my heart and I will *not* lean to my own understanding.  In ALL my ways I will acknowledge Him and He will make straight my path!” (Proverbs 3:5) (Emphasis, her own for she had personalized it…)  After all, THIS was personal…

She had gotten to the point where she (more often than not) could recognize the enemy’s tactics, as they often resorted to the same tricks over and over again.  Sometimes they worked and she would have fall into the trap to regain her footing.  She was 48 years old.  She had enlisted 28 years ago, which still left 20 years of old habits and old ways of thinking to muddle through.  Never had it been easy.  She would get mad at herself for falling for the same trick and temptation over again.  She had always been for the motto, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice – shame on me.”  Sometimes she had literally walked right into it.  How humbling it was realizing she had fallen for the same trick yet again.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” (Psalms 51:10-13).

“I’m tired Lord,” She would state when the going got particularly rough.

“Not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6)

“I’m tired Father…”

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Would come the response.

Every step of the way her leader would speak words of encouragement.  Unbeknown to her was in the spiritual realm the angels that fought in front and behind her. She stood not alone.  To her right and back and front were others who had heard the calling and had on their own accord enlisted the same as she.   She knew the number of her days God would fulfill.  Her life’s purpose all about Him, although the battle at times got fierce, and she got weary, she would continue fighting as long as the Lord commanded her to fight.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess, 4:16-18). 

She loved Him, completely with all her heart, with all her soul with all her mind, in spite of all her faults and imperfections.  But it was never about her being “perfect.” No, there was only One who was perfect and that was Jesus.  How could she not love Him? He had given His life for her. The keys to winning the battle was to acknowledge that it was nothing but His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy, His love and His sacrifice that kept her going.  Whens he was at her weariest she would think on these words:

Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength— he will make my feet like those of a deer, equipping me to tread on my mountain heights. (Habakkuk 3:18-19)

You see, it wasn’t until the scales had been removed from her spiritual eyes that she had known what real love was, the most unselfish love of all.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have ever lasting life.” (John 3:16)

With a new burst of energy, she picked herself up out of the mud, wiped the dirt off her face and stood with her back straight and her chin up.

“Okay satan – so you got me on that round.  You won that fight, you tripped me up in a moment of weakness and temptation –  but let me remind you of this – You *may* have won that round with me but YOU have already been defeated in the war.  Jesus DEFEATED YOU by His shed blood and the work He accomplished on the cross.  So laugh at the way you just tripped me up – but look at me?  STILL I RISE.  And I will go forward in His name and I will fight with every bit of strength I have within me.  And when I sin, I will confess my sin and ask for His strength so I will be stronger the next time around.  Because my strength is not my own – it is HIS.  I shall plead His shed blood down upon me and He will wash me clean! Because I belong to HIM. And every time I fall – I will rise UP again because my Savior lives! And just so that you know for me, to LIVE is Christ, to die is to gain because I know that the number of my days HE will fulfill and I also know that it is in Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN”

… Did you hear that?  It’s the sound of the enemy and his cohorts shrieking.  The fiery darts that they tried to throw her way have reversed in direction mid-air and they have become the target.  God is on His throne and in control… The thing is, He always has been, since the beginning of time. More Words for Your Journey

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No Matter What, God’s Got You!

“I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:26)

 This past Monday was my 4th year “cancerversary” (or so we survivors call it).  It was my 4th Year annual appointment from having been diagnosed with early stage, triple negative breast cancer.  I have been cancer-free for 4 years, but no matter how much time passes  these yearly mammogram appointments fill me with anxiety, fear and trepidation.  This time I was definitely concerned because I had been having painful sensations at the lumpectomy site; sensations I had not felt before and of course ol’ slewfoot taunted me with all kinds of horrible thoughts on what it could be…  Some cancer survivors like to refer to themselves in “remission” personally I have never liked (or used) that word.

I Googled the term “remission” and a Dr. Z’s medical report, Published May 17, 2006 written by Ed Zimney, MD (whoever that is…) popped up. He defines remission as such:

“Complete remission means that there are no symptoms and no signs that can be identified to indicate the presence of cancer. However, even when a person is in remission, there may be microscopic collections of cancer cells that cannot be identified by current techniques. This means that even if a person is in remission, they may, at some future time, experience a recurrence of their cancer.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but for me, I find the term “remission” to be insulting, offensive and inaccurate.  You see – I am *not* in remission, I am HEALED.  God has healed me.  To call it anything else is to belittle what He can do and what He has done and I refuse to belittle God and identify my cancer-free self as one who is in “remission.”  Now it is a personal thing, and many survivors fine with that term, I find it insulting and am quick to correct someone who describes me as such.  God has healed me, He has given me a second chance at life and for that I am truly grateful. I found myself thinking of the scene in scripture when Jesus calls Peter out to walk towards Him upon the water.   Matthew 14:22-33:

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.   After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.

“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water.”

“Come,” He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”He said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.   Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I didn’t want to focus on the taunts the enemy was whispering in my ear, because I knew just as Peter had – I would begin to sink.  So, with my mother by my side, my back straight, my chin firmly set I went to my appointment at the Dana-Farber holding on to my promises.

“I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:26)

“I have made you the head and not the tail.” (Deuteronomy 28:13)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. Your builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will depart from you.…” (Isaiah 49:16)

This is why God tells us to hide His word in our hearts so that we can find strength in His promises. Unlike people, God does not make promises He doesn’t keep, we can trust that if it is written in His Word – He meant it.  He is not a God that He would lie. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith – He knows the beginning of the story of “us” as well as the ending, so who better to trust???!

The memories of my cancer experience always hits me a new when I walk into the doors of Dana-Farber.  The confusion, the shock, the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of what’s to come all come flooding back.  I guess it is a natural “knee jerk” reaction.  Once again, I went through my check in, my blood work and next – the dreaded mammogram (dun dun…) this huge machine that would give the radiologist the knowledge of what was going on beyond the surface… 

This is where most of us Pinks are found sitting in the waiting room, bitting our fingernails, holding our breathes, only to release them when the results (prior to leaving the Imaging Department) are handed to us.  It is the waiting that is the hardest part, the not knowing.  This time around when I was told that everything was normal, I burst into tears. Tears of relief and gratitude.  According to my oncologist, nerve endings can come back to life anywhere from 10 to 20 years from a lumpectomy post surgery.

I cannot tell you what I would have felt if the report had been otherwise, I can only draw upon my previous experience of receiving a phone call saying, “you have cancer…”  But I can tell you this – I believe that God would have given me the strength to face whatever I needed to face as He has done throughout the course of my life and my walk with Him, things may come as a surprise to us – but they are never a surprise to Him.

I have come to realize more and more that each day – EACH day is a gift, a blank sheet of life for us to write upon, one that we will never get back again.  Somewhere along the line we humans began to take each day for granted, to treat each new day as if it were “owed” to us.  The truth is – it’s not.  We were originally created to live forever – before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden bringing sin and death into the world.  But most people never feel like “they’ve had enough life.”  Have you ever noticed that “old” is something that is 15 years older than what you are?

Life is a precious gift.  What are you writing upon the pages of your life? How do you wake up in the morning?  Do you rejoice?  No one knows what the future holds – but instead of worrying about whatever will be, why don’t we just rejoice and praise God for what He has given us today?  When you wake up tomorrow visualize the day as a blank sheet of paper.  What will you write upon it?  What memories will you make?  How will you view things? What difference might you make in the life of someone else?  Write well dear reader!  You won’t get these moments back… See? Another has just passed… Make every moment count because make no mistake about it – each one is a precious gift from God.

 

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Are You There God?  It’s Me, (Add Your Name Here)…”

When I was a child, I read one of author Judy Blume’s books entitled, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” It is the story of a 6th grade girl who is coming of age and how she converses with God. It is what began my own childhood conversations with God.

When I pray, I talk to God like I talk to you – readers of my blog. I speak my mind. I am honest and transparent. I am REAL with God. Why? Because the Bible tells me:

He knows my thoughts before I even think them.” (Psalms 139:2)

So why not just be honest and forthcoming? Besides God desires a relationship with you, a relationship requires communication. My own personal opinion is that God loves it when you have “conversations” with Him.

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13)

The above describes being “religious” having a personal relationship with God is communicating with Him, having a relationship with Him. Your heart is in your conversations with Him, it is a one on one conversation and yet because God looks at the heart of an individual, while we can only see the outside – it is up to God to determine whether or not it is a “personal relationship with Him.” It is between that individual and God.

Any “relationship” requires communication. A relationship should be a two way street – even one with God. I have had many a conversation with God that is similar to that of a child having a temper tantrum on the floor of a store aisle with some of my prayer requests, like a child who wants their parent to buy them a piece of candy and the parent says, “no” there are times when I have brought a request before God and He has said no. No child wants to hear the word “no.” But in looking back at my past prayer requests I can see times where God has compassionately shown me why He has said no. (He doesn’t always show us – He doesn’t have to – He is God). But the one thing we can keep in mind is that:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

We don’t see the FULL situation but God does, He has our best in mind. The Bible tells us:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

If you are a parent you can relate. There are times when you have had to say no to your own children – maybe it’s that they want a cookie before dinner and you say, “no.” And while all they see is that they want that cookie and you have said no! What YOU see is that if you give them that cookie before dinner, it will lessen their appetite to eat food that is more nourishing for them. If we think that way, how much more so does our Heavenly Father who sees oh so much more than we do?

I have come to the conclusion that it is all about the issue of trust…

Trust… What a small word with such a significant meaning…   The definition of trust according to Webster’s Dictionary:

Trust – Reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed.

Who is your confidence placed? Who do you trust?

Trust is something that makes us vulnerable. Who we trust or how we trust is pretty much based upon our past experiences. It also makes it difficult when we have been let down to confidently; walk by faith and not by sight. When people have let us down, it is hard to confidently trust in a God who says He won’t. It is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn in our walk with Him. He desires us to trust Him. Do you trust Him? When you find yourself in a situation where it feels “pitch black” and you can’t see two feet in front of you – do you feel as though God has your back? Sometimes God allows you to be in those situations just so you can place your trust in Him. When you are out of answers and your head is in your hands – Who do you trust? Do you believe you can trust God?

Sometimes we can make trust a “head thing” and not a heart thing. God wants us to step out in faith and know without a doubt that we can trust Him. This is hard to do because while we have God desiring us to trust Him, there is ol’ slewfoot standing by our heads whispering in our ears:

“You are certainly in a fine kettle of fish. You are here because of fault A,B,C – all of your own doing…” Or he taunts me saying, “Yeah – look at Suzy Q over there. She has A,B,C, while you – well you are lacking in D,E,F, G. God must love her more than He loves you…”

Those are lies from the pit of hell. The devil doesn’t want you to trust in God – even when you don’t see an answer. Remember he is the author of lies and confusion. The very last thing he wants you to do is trust in God.

Trust… Sometimes we don’t even “trust” our own selves to make the right decisions. It’s enough to make you want to cross your own eyes. Do you second guess yourself? We all have weaknesses. We all have our “Achilles heel.” And the devil knows how to rub salt into wounds that need to be healed. “Why would God want to help you???” The taunts go on and on hitting those nerves that either push us into depression, despair or are used to push us farther away from believing that God is concerned about us and really cares. Instead of believing the promises we have, we believe the author of lies who (if you recall) deceived Eve and caused sin and problems and death to enter into the world in the first place… His tricks are still the same, they haven’t changed, if they were good enough for him to use on those “REAL” people (notice they were not characters – but real people like you and I) in the Bible, why would he not try to use those same methods and tricks on us now? Remember, he even tried to boldly tempt Jesus in the desert. If he was bold enough to try and tempt Jesus, what makes us think he won’t try to do the same with us?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

God desires that you have life – abundant life. Who are you going to believe and trust? This is one of the ongoing lessons we continuously have to decide throughout anything that life throws our way.

Communication is an ongoing element in a relationship. Relationships in order to be successful satisfying and in order to grow require nourishment. If you are mad at God – Tell Him! He knows! Nothing you are feeling surprises Him. He is your Father. If you need guidance or clarification, tell Him! If we take time to quiet our souls and listen, we will hear Him speak. If we can quiet down the noise of our worries, concerns (and sometimes ourselves even!) You will hear God’s steady, soothing quiet voice. In my own experience God has never once “yelled” at me. Disciplined me, yes – but His voice has been one that is calming and soothing and personal. It takes time to form a strong relationship, but a relationship is something that requires two individuals and God has already said:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

God already desires to be in a relationship with you. To reveal His plan for your life, to reveal how much He loves you. It requires trust which is an ongoing element and difficult to do at some moments in our walk with Him. But when we do trust Him, even when we don’t understand the “why” of a situation, we can experience “the peace that passes ALL understanding” (Psalms 4:7) that comes only from trusting that no matter what we are experiencing, God is in control. Because whether or not we “feel” or “believe” that He is. He is.

 

Hi, are You there Lord? It’s me – Kelly… I am going through a situation that I have NO clue as to what to do. Which way to turn, but I trust that my steps are ordained by you. (Psalms 37:23). I know that you have given me certain promises in the Bible to cling to and believe in when I don’t see a way. I trust You. You tell me that “You have engraved me in the palm of your hand.” (Isaiah 49:16), while I don’t understand or fully see all that is going on around me – I know you do and I know that I belong to You. I need You. Thank You for being an ever present help in time of trouble. Help me to rest and trust in You. In Jesus’ precious name I give this situation to You. I drop it at the foot of your cross knowing fully well that you are more able to handle it than I. Knowing fully well that You have my best interest in mind. Knowing that my steps are ordered by You. I thank you for Your provision, Your help, Your love. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen”

 More Words for Your Journey 

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The Pathway Continued (Part III)

 
A gentle reminder – some of life’s most precious moments happen when you least expect it…

As previously referred to in another wrote (see post from March 2013 entitled “The Pathway)  – I was traveling down a beautiful  road, one that I thought I was destined to travel upon  all the days of my life only to have been chased off the road but the fattest, ugliest, sexless looking of trolls.  It was a private way and the disgusting troll had reminded me that the road belonged to her, pulled out her ownership papers, barked at me to be on my way off her property. Heartbroken – I had no other choice but to change route and cross over upon another path.  Looking behind me at my beloved road one last time, I realized that the road was subservient to its troll and would always be.  The pure natural and vibrant beauty of the road would remain unrecognized, unappreciated and neglected – its location taken for granted –all the days of its existence,  which was a shame for its beauty was such that had I been able to remain upon it, I would have danced and frolicked and appreciated its natural beauty all the days of my life.

My head downcast, and being such, I did not see the different kind of beauty in the new path I’d taken. Different from whence I had come. Golden sunshine peaked down in between tree leaves; birds sang joyfully, honeysuckle pungent and thick filled the pathway with a natural wild sense of beauty.  Yet, I missed it all for my gaze had gone to my feet – not in front of me, and my shoulders were slumped in defeat, I cared not where I roamed.  Like a leave flitting about in the wind, I went mindlessly forward, all that had been vibrant and full of color now in my present state of mind, had become black and grey. I couldn’t venture on the road I longed for, so I no longer cared, the beauty had dissipated in the world around me.

Walking with downcast eyes and a heavy heart I did not see the tall oak of a man until I bumped right into what apparently was a set of trunk sized knees, it  startled me (so lost was I in my own thoughts of sorrow).  Like a startled deer poised for flight I froze in the headlights of this unexpected intruder. (Although truth be known, I suppose I was the intruder, since I was the stranger upon the path).

“Whoa…,” Said a strong steady voice.  He stretched out a solid arm with large hands to keep me from toppling over.

I lifted my head up. This man was so tall I had to lean back and stretch my neck waaaaaaay up to see. Hazel eyes in a heart shaped face looked down at me with amusement.  A red beard handsomely mapped his lower rectangular jaw. He looked like a combination of a woodcutter and a leprechaun gone giant, but there was a gentleness that exuded about him that looking upon him, made me feel unafraid.

“Why are you so downcast?” He questioned, raising a large pointer finger to lift up my chin so we could be eye to eye.  “You should be looking ahead of you, not down.”

“I suppose I should,” I responded with a sigh, “yet I care not where I go.  I am journeying wherever it is my feet choose to lead me…”

“Such a lovely face should not be wearing such a solemn look.” He stated.  “Come, no doubt you are hungry and I am pleased to share my lunch with you along with some words of encouragement to make it all the more palpable.”

He led me along the pathway to a small flowing stream.  This gentle giant of a man sat cross legged on the ground and encouraged me to do the same.  Sighing, I obliged. He opened a lunchbox, which I had not noticed was beside him; broke off a piece of bread and a chunk of cheese and handed it to me.  I was about to decline except for the dead giveaway sound of rumble from my stomach, so I decided to partake of his generosity.

“Tell me your story,” He said encouragingly, leaning forward to listen attentively. His face so close to mine I could count freckles that danced upon his nose.  His red well groomed beard gave him an almost regal look, and the kindness in his eyes encouraged me to share my tale… About the unexpected beauty I had fallen upon, the temptation to proceed, which I gave into, the joy and love and completion I felt walking along what I had thought was my own little beautiful road… How I got chastised and commanded off by the horrible troll and found myself alone, discouraged and at a loss as to where to go. When I was finished, I rubbed my hands together to free them from the crumbs and looked up into the face of this gentle giant to see his reaction to my tale.  How astonished was I when I saw eyes filled with tears and compassion.

He was quiet for a moment, this giant of a man. When I gazed up at him I saw a range of emotions cross his face and it seemed as though he was trying to gather his thoughts.  Why should one feel so strongly for the journey of a stranger?

 He was quiet and I was uncertain whether I should stand and leave or sit and stay.  And then he spoke…

“In life you will encounter many various roads and pathways… I have found that the best ones are those that travel wide enough for two and go “both ways.”  Even those that are not easy on your feet teach you endurance and perseverance; and though you may not realize at it the time, strengthen you for the journey ahead.  The most important thing is not the beauty in the surroundings around you or the context of the road itself – but how you travelled it… Life is a journey down many roads.  Think on this – what did you learn from this last road you took?”

I listened to his words and thought long and hard before I answered.  “I learned of love and friendship. I learned that life is much better when shared.  I learned that there are many more meanings to “unequally yoked” than what I had been originally taught.”

“So you see,” said he. “Although you no longer journey down that road (and not at your own choosing) you have gathered a lot of insightful treasures along the way.  Hence, the roads that you travel end up coming together and forming a map called, “YOU.”  Think now, what else did you learn?”

I tapped a forefinger to my lower lip as I recalled my journey through the road that I loved.  “I learned more about myself.  Humbleness, compassion, mercy… I learned forgiveness and most importantly of all that each person’s journey is their own and not to be judged by the observer.”

“Well then,” he exclaimed, “It seems to me that was a road worth traveling no matter its end… You are a better, wiser person for it. Or so it would seem to me.” He rose from his sitting position and once again loomed high above me. He reached down to extend a hand to me to help me up.  I could not help but notice how small my hand was in his immense larger one.

“Who ARE you?” I couldn’t help but ask, curiosity taking over and then blushed with embarrassment at my straightforwardness, for surely it was not my business.

He grinned at me – such a boyish grin for a gentle giant and responded, “Just a traveler like yourself.” He gathered up the remainder of his lunch box, closed it shut and tucked it under his arm.

Looking around at my unfamiliar, yet beautiful surroundings – seeing the newness of the path for the first time, shyly I asked, “would you journey with me a while?”

He looked at my shy expression and laughed a deep laugh, his hazel eyes filled with amusement.  “It seems as if we already are – for you stand upon the same path as I.”

“Very well, “I said my own laughter ringing with that of his. “Lead the way…”  And, although he took up most of the pathway with his size and his girth – He did.


The moral of the story is to always try and find the beauty in whatever path life leads you. Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” The choice is ours, it may not be the pathway you imagined you would journey on – maybe it’s not the one you wanted or perhaps the choice has been taken out of your hands, not yours to make… It just might be better than anything you would have chosen for yourself…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Psalms 3:5)

 

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Pardon Me, I Should Have Begun with My Testimony

When I was a little girl – I would go with my parents to the summer cottage in the Cape.  Oh how I loved to kick my shoes off and feel the heat (or the coolness depending on the time of year) of the sand under my toes.  There was a rocky pier that I would go out and sit on and think.  And oh how I loved the spray of salt water that would sprinkle me whenever a wave would crash against the boulders of the pier.  We would go usually in the Fall.  A time when the cottage would be empty of renters and people. How I loved the quiet solitude of those days.  I think even before I became a Christian at 21 I was always a “thinker.”  One of the first introductions I had to “God” was the book – “Are You There God?  It’s Me Margaret.” By Judy Blume.  On the brink of womanhood I read that book and I learned soooo much. I began to “talk to God” – “Hi God, its ME – Kelly.”  Growing up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood the daughter of parents who were agnostic they never forced a “religion” upon us.  We were free to explore and learn and choose.  I started going to church by myself when I was a teenager.  I felt something “lacking deep inside of me.” A need to feel closer to God. I chose a church that had solar windows (I thought that was cool). I would go by myself Sunday after Sunday – but the Reverand of that Church only spoke of the history of the Church. There were “prayer books” in the pews but I didn’t understand them (there were no Bibles in the pews). The people were kind enough – but still something was lacking deep inside of me…

Ever since I can remember – I wanted to be an actress.  Since the age of three. Talent shows, musicals, plays, make believe – whatever involved theatre – I just had to be a part of. I knew when i grew up I wanted to be an actress.  There was no doubt, no changing my mind – that was it.

When I was in College I was the only Theatre Major in a school filled with women that were going to be teachers.  It was an all girls college – I had been told that I would be able to take my theatre classes at Harvard.  Not sure who it was who told me that – but it ended up not being true. Talk about a square peg fitting in a circle setting.  I didn’t see the need for college – I wanted to get an agent, head out to California and begin to act.  Oh how wise I thought I was at 17. How little I really knew.  However – again, there are times we go through things for a reason – even if we don’t know what that reason is.

I loved my father (my earthly father) very much. But he was very strict.  It wasn’t until I was a freshmen that I discovered MEN!  And ohhh the men that would come to my college because it was an all girl school! I became a sweetheart (little sister) to a nationwide Fraternity.  Parties galore – studying?  What was That?? I even tried to pledge a sorority – but was appalled by the things they did to us while pledging and couldn’t possibly consider someone who spent weeks and weeks tearing me down during the pledging process being someone I would WANT to call sister when it was said and done.  My whole pledging line – quit.

How interesting it is to see how the Lord allows things to form – to set up things that occur to sometimes bring you closer to Him.  While on my way to a pledge meeting (before I dropped out of the line) my sister pledgers and I were walking down a semi-tough section of town.  I had grown up in an expensive part of town – so I wasn’t familiar with this neck of the woods.  A man was running towards us – not to us – but in the same direction.  In his hand he had a gun.  Another man was running after him.  Yelling, “He robbed my store!” We quickly got out of the way and someone (I think called the police).  We continued walking to the Sorority Sisters House we were expected to appear at.  But I was crying and I was trembling.  It really shook me up.  Three weeks later – I was at a “under 21 club” with the same group of friends.  A fight must have broken out within the club and someone yelled in the darkness of the club “He’s gotta gun!!!”  Again I was in the midst of unfamiliar terroritory and worse – caught up in a stampede of people trying to get out the exit door.  And yes – it was just like what you see in the movies – when you see cattle charging for whatever reason… How weird it was to feel oneself being pushed along with the crowd everyone scared and wanting to get out as quickly as possible.  For a young woman who had not witnessed anything violent – these two experience shook my foundation to the core.

I have lived a very sheltered life, you see.  I’m not ashamed of it and I love my parents for all they tried to shield me from.  But when i faced things I wasn’t familiar with it was like a genuine culture shock to my system. It absolutely terrified me. I felt small and vulnerable…   Shortly after that time – my grandfather died.  Now in a Portuguese family the grandfather is really the head of the family.  I loved my grandfather.  We had a very dear and special relationship.  And although my family will laugh and probably each of us grandchildren will say the same thing “I was his favorite.” (Of course I’d be the only one telling the truth… Winking at you).

When my grandfather died – I was at the end of my rope.  There HAD to be more than just this.  It was at this point I was approached while waiting for the bus one day – by a certain cult we are all very familiar with and I shall not name. They asked me if I wanted to study the bible and I agreed.  I began to study with them – much to the dismay and fear of my mother.  She was so fearful that she made an appointment for me to meet with the Reverand of the Church I had gone to by myself as a young girl.  She even went with me to talk with him. He sat behind his large cherry wood desk and began with the religious stain glass windows behind him.  Smiled at me calmly and said – “So Kelly, your mother tells me you have questions for me?”  And I did indeed.  You see the cult I had been studying with had prepared me for this conversation.  I turned to him with my first question and I asked – “Do you believe we are descendents from Adam and Eve?”  He looked at me and said (this is the truth) “Well, I don’t really know… We could be descendents from Monkeys for all I know.”  I looked at him and blinked.  I asked him my next question – “Do you believe that there will be a judgement day?”  He looked at me again and answered “Could be… Could be not.. We may all be blown up in a nuclear war – who knows?”  I looked at him astonished and I grew even more confused. I felt like why was he a Reverand if he didn’t believe things that were key to his Christian faith?  At any rate – the meeting with him made me determined not to go back.  But an interesting thing began to happen.  Although I had not become a “member” of this cult – I did continue studying with them and as I did – i became fearful.  They were causing me to separate more and more from my family and my parents and my brother meant the world to me. I felt.. uneasy… So I finally told them I wouldn’t study with them anymore – and Ohhh how ANGRY they were.  And at that point – since I wasn’t a Christian yet – my response was what anyone with a Portuguese temper would be – PISSED.  And after she told me where she thought I would go – I told her what she could do with her little book.  And from that point on – I determined in my head that my relationship with God – would be JUST THAT. My relationship with God.  No one else’s business. It wasn’t until a couple of years later – when I transferred over to another University and they were having a fleamarket day – I was inbetween classes and walking around looking at the different booths. I came across a table with something called – tracks on it. a girl my age was sitting behind the table. She asked me if I wanted to talk about God.  I looked at her with an eyebrow raised and said firmly – NO. She indicated to me that she was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ of the Intervarsity Fellowship program at the school and I was welcome to join them for prayer or Bible study early in the morning.  I looked at her, blinked and said… “Ahhhh… no…” And kept on walking.  How odd it was that a few weeks later I had gotten into school early.  I wandered around the university and found myself outside of the chapel.  I went inside so I could “talk with God” by myself.  I felt an emptiness inside of me and no matter what I tried to fill it up with – auditions, Shakespeare, Plays, partying, friends, men – there was an emptiness deep inside of me.  I felt as though there had to be MORE to life than just THIS.  Along came “Julie” the girl I met on the fleamarket.  She came quietly and sat beside me and said, “I’ll leave if you want me to – but it might be helpful if you share what your feeling with someone.”  And so I did. I shared with her all of what you have just read and she told me she wanted me to meet the Director of the Intervarsity Fellowship Program, would I come back tomorrow?  The next day – I came back.  It was early morning.  Students were gathered around in a circle reading from the Bible. There was only one seat left – available.  It was next to this very tall, very slender waayyy older black woman.  I looked at her and thought “Good for her! College is for any age!” And I sat down next to her.  The reading was over in a few short minutes.  Julie approached me and said, “Hi Kelly! Glad you could make it! I want you to meet the Head of the International Varsity Fellowship Program. She turned to the woman next to me.  Who smiled at me warmly gave me a big hug and said with a wonderful southern accent.  “Praise the Lord Kelly! Ahhh have heard all about’cha. I’m sooo glad you came to join us today…”  She looked at the little red book I was carrying in my arms.  You see – the foundation the cult had set in me was still there.  Because no one had ever taken the time to share the Bible with me.  Sarah looked at the book and asked me if she could see it.   I handed it to her.  “She flipped through the pages with a knowing smile.  She glanced up at me and she said… “Ahhh have one question for you.”  Her beautiful dark brown eyes looked at me wisely.  I looked up at her thinking about that Reverand I had met with and I smiled.  Ready for her to be as much as a pushover as he was. She paused for a moment before she continued. “Who wrote this book?”  My face crumbled… Such a simple question.  Unexpected – and yet there I stood not knowing the answer.  Feeling like a fool because there I was believing these beliefs and NOT knowing who’s beliefs I was believing in.  I may be many things – but I’ve never been a stupid woman. I’m much smarter than people think… But in this circumstance, my face crumbled and I began to cry.  I felt alone, I felt confused and I felt very, very lost.  Sarah looked at me compassionately, took both of my hands in hers and said with her musical southern accent, “Kelly, ahhhhh wanna tell you about someone who loves you very much.” (I glanced up at her wondering if she knew one of my fraternity brothers…) She raised my chin with her finger and said, “His name is Jesus Christ. ”  (Now you have to remember – I grew up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood.  Wonderful rich culture. And while I had learned much about the Jewish faith – I had never learned about Jesus.  He was more like a “Christmas fable” to me).  Sarah began to tell me about how Jesus had died on the cross for forgiveness of my sins.  How he would never leave nor forsake me.  How He defeated sin and death by His victory over the cross by rising again.  She told me that it wasn’t “church” or a “building” that would save me.  She told me she wouldn’t “make me” go to a certain church. She told me that all I had to do – was to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus was Lord and I would be saved. I didn’t see what difference it would make, so i went over the Sinner’s prayer as that goes something like this: 

Dear Father,
I now believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son, that He came to our earth in the flesh and died on the cross to take away all of my sins and the sins of this world. I believe that Jesus Christ then rose from the dead on the third day to give all of us eternal life.

I honestly didn’t know at the time what a difference that prayer would make in my life. I had NO idea what was taking place in the spiritual ream while I prayed that prayer. And I also thought to myself – “Lord if you are REALLY REALLY REAL – I need you to reveal yourself to me.”  Sarah gave me a Bible.  She had indicated to me – that I could go out to any Christian bookstore and buy a bible myself.  I think it was important to her that I realize that I wasn’t being “forced to learn something, join something or go somewhere” to be close to God.  You see when someone has a cult type experience its important that they not feel “pushed” into something.  I was overly cautious and very appreciative that she was not “making me join a certain church” although she encouraged me to find a church where i could worship and have a body of other believers around to support me. For the first six months of my new Christian life – i didn’t join a church.  I hungered for the Bible.  I couldn’t read enough of it.  Learn enough about Jesus.  The Apostles – the stories in the Old Testament.  I understood what I was reading.  I fell in love with the Lord.  His Word I hung onto deep within my heart.  You see – its not about being “religious” its about having a “personal relationship with the Lord.” One where you can be REALLY REALLY REAL.  And the most wonderful thing about it – is that He in turn, is REALLY REALLY REAL right back at you…  All of that was 22 years ago.  So hard to believe how quickly time has gone.  I have learned soooooo much – but I have yet sooo much MORE to learn.  That is the most amazing thing about being a Christian – you never stop learning, growing in Him.  There is a peace that passes all understanding.  And its not something I can describe to you because the Bible says – “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalms 34:8).  Its like trying to describe to someone who has never seen – what the color “blue” is.  You can’t.  But once you know Him – you really do realize that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” 

As I indicted in the beginning of my blog – I don’t have all the answers… I am far from perfect (especially during THIS time in my walk) but I can point you towards the One who IS Perfect… His name is Jesus – and while people will disappoint you all the time – HE NEVER WILL.

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