TRAVEL JOURNAL TO CONTENTMENT: Week 1

‘On the Road Again!’
These may be the lyrics to a well known country western song, but they also perfectly fit my “on again,”  “off again,” relationship with CONTENTMENT!

Do you feel me?  I’m flying high one day, feeling successful and confident. The next day I feel bucked off the horse and thrown into prickly berry bushes!

Anyone else? Or is it just me?

This journey we are on to live a life Christ-centered and Christ-driven needs a road map and a travel journal.

Good News, we have the road map, God’s Word, The Bible!  God lovingly wrote a love letter to each and every one of us and in it are all the directions we need to live a Christ-centered life.

The not bad, but not so good news is, we have to write our own Travel Journal to navigate our part in the journey. When we do, we can live Christ-driven lives with clear direction. This is the surest way for us to find CONTENTMENT!

Week 1 of my Travel Journal is: 

#1 GOD WILL BE FAITHFUL TO  COMPLETE IT!

I started my week out determined to do my part and put the effort into finding contentment. I woke up earlier and began each morning with physical exercise and Bible reading.

As day 2 arrived I felt my body a bit more tired than the day before, and my legs slightly heavier to pick up as I ran, but my spirit was determined!

By day 3 I felt that old message of discouragement ring in my ears…

You start out strong but eventually you will fail!

I sensed that pang inside me that wanted to quit! Sure, it would be easier. I could start again next week. Truth is, next week never seems to come. The same pattern of beginning well, “flying high,” and eventually getting “bucked off the horse” and quitting seemed to take over and win the day!

I had made a commitment to find contentment and I knew I had to do my part even when it hurt!

I finished exercising and ran to God’s Word! “Help,” I cried! “I need you to show me you don’t give up on me, so I won’t give up on you!”

In the same book of Philippians, only at the beginning of the book, there it was!

Being confident of this, that HE who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it(or to carry it on to the day of completion), until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

It was right there in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, God is in this with me!  I do my part and HE is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to do HIS!

Day 4 arrived and I got up and asked God to help me do my part because I knew HE would do HIS!  My feet hit the pavement with a greater determination that morning.

I knew then that I already had the ROAD MAP, God’s Word, I had used it!  But what I needed was a TRAVEL JOURNAL, a place to record my direction, purpose, and to do my part to live a life Christ-driven and CONTENTED!

So, I began writing my ‘TRAVEL JOURNAL TO CONTENTMENT.’ 

Week One directs me to keep doing my part knowing God will complete what I begin in His name!

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GOD WILL BE FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE THE PLANS THAT HONOR HIS NAME!

If you feel encouraged to take this journey with me or start your own, I hope you will use both God’s Road Map for you, and a Travel Journal!

HAPPY TRAVELS MY FRIEND, UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

Speak Truth Love

The Chase for Contentment

Friends, God has asked me to write something today that is difficult, painful, embarrassing and humbling. For a myriad of reasons, far too many to write, I have used excuse after excuse, reason upon reason and rationalization on top of rationalization to explain this issue in my life away!

We all have our own issues, and that’s not a slam on anyone. That is called human nature! My issues are not your issues and your issues are not my issues. That is why I hesitate to even write about this. But truth is, God is telling me to! It would be so much easier for me to continue to keep it to myself! True, it won’t come as a total shock to those of you who know me or those of you that have read my blog posts. It is not some thing uncommon to most human beings! It may not be an issue you wrestle with like I do, but it still stands as an irritant to most everybody.

The difference is, the many times I’ve talked about it and shared about it, I have communicated it as a desire, and God has shown me it’s more than that!

I wrote last week about contentment. I shared that I see it as something practically unattainable for me! But after that post, God took me to the mats! That’s right, you heard me, the wrestling mats! The place where God calls my name and gets my attention in anyway He can! The place where I have to wrestle with Him over an issue that is not getting through to my heart! Oh, my head understands it perfectly fine! I know that God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I know it’s true! I know that through Jesus Christ I have eternal life and I will be forever with God, and that’s true! I know that I’m a daughter of the King and that makes me a princess. I am cherished, adored, protected and loved! And because I know that and live that out, God wants me to be the best I can be for Him! In taking me to the mats He was telling me that there’s an issue that is in my head but has not gotten to my heart! And it’s the issue of contentment with my health, weight, age and physical appearance!

OUCH, that hurt to say!

I have read, spoke on and taught Philippians 4:11-12, more times then I can count! If you have ever received an email from me, or visited my home , you know that Philippians 4:13 is my favorite verse!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

I do my very best to live by it and frustrate many people along the way! But as I was on the mats with God this week He wouldn’t let me get to my favorite verse until I dealt with the two verses that come before it!

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want.

Philippians 4:11-12

I know this passage well! I graduated from Bible college! I’ve studied the apostle Paul! He’s one of my heroes of the Faith after all!

I know he was in prison when he wrote these words! I know that he was bound in chains and didn’t know if he would wake up to see another day on this earth! I get it, I told God! No matter what my circumstances are, I am to be “CONTENT” in where you have me!

It got worse! I started to plead my case! God, I said, I have lived in plenty and in poverty. I have felt love and abandonment! I have moved far from home and left everything familiar to me. I have raised babies on the mission field and felt supported and alone! I have experienced friendships that are faithful and those that are disloyal. I have experienced the indescribable joy of giving birth to two babies and the pain of losing one to miscarriage.  

I have trusted You when you told me to go even though I didn’t know where I would end up and I have been blessed by You providing a home for me and having my family near. I have been healed by You and trusted You to bring me out of a coma and I have known good health most of my life. I have given You my life and declared it is not my own! Yet still I struggle with contentment.

I found myself exhausted and sweating after wrestling on the mats and pleading my case.

I fell to my knees and then to my face in silence.

Then, in the quiet and with a still small voice God whispered,

“Yes, but true contentment my daughter, you do not know. Stop looking for it with your head and find it with your heart!“

I discovered that contentment is not just dealing with our circumstances well and trusting them to God’s care. True contentment asks us to put effort in as well!

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Contentment calls for me to do my part as well as depend on God to do His!

Paul found himself in prison but instead of sitting there and praying quietly to God trusting that his circumstances would turn out…he shared the gospel! I can’t even imagine the physical pain he must’ve been in, but instead of sitting quietly and enduring it, he chose to share the truth and the good news of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone who would listen!

We may not like where we are, but we do know that God’s in control! And trusting Him in that and enduring whatever circumstance we find ourselves in is demonstrating faith!

CONTENTMENT is taking that circumstance and doing something with it! Paul sat in a prison cell, chained to a wall and not only trusted in his God and had faith, but he found true contentment by sharing his faith with others!

Back to my issue…

This is my heart’s cry to God…

I know it’s going to take a drastic change for me to do some things for my mental and physical health!

Ultimately, mostly for my spiritual health! I know You have been working on me about contentment… And I’m ridiculously discontent! I know it’s me and not my circumstances.

My life could not be more blessed with my marriage, my children and their spouses and my grandchildren-I have truly the greatest blessings in the whole wide world! I need to fix myself! I have many excuses and valid reasons for not, but the bottom line is I am self-indulging! True, it fills my loneliness and my insecurities that I face being in ministry and being in the “spotlight.” These words are really hard for me to say, and I feel like they’re pouring out as a full confession as I’m writing them to you! But I want to be honest and I don’t want to shy away from it anymore! It’s going to take some hard work. I know what the Scriptures say is that it takes hard work to accomplish Gods purposes! I’m going to stop making excuses and I’m going to stop being so sad about the way I look and about getting old. I can do something about it to be the very best I can be, even at 60! And beyond for that matter! I’m going to ask for your prayers and I’m going to gut it out with you God!

Now, I can say my favorite verse…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

I know You will be faithful to me, you always are! I just need to be faithful to You and put the work in!

I give all the glory to You, God for what I know You can and will accomplish in and through me! On my own I am too weak and I can’t do it!But with Your power, there is nothing I can’t do!

So here goes! The results are not what’s important, the effort and work God’s calling me to put in to being truly content in Him, is!

Speak Truth Love

Contentment In The Midst Of COVID

Contentment has never been one of my favorite words.

By definition, contentment means ‘satisfaction and ease of mind.’ In actuality, it is a state of being. I don’t believe there has ever been a time that I have been described as “easy going.” I love purpose, vision, achievement, and all around productivity! To arrive at a state of contentment, where your mind feels at ease is something I can only accomplish through God’s divine intervention.

I have found nothing better to bring contentment in my life, then giving thanks! And nothing better to give me a heart of thankfulness then reading God’s Word! God tells us in the book of Isaiah that we will find His perfect peace when we focus our minds on Him.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3

Trusting in God is the answer to contentment! When we find ourselves in such difficult seasons, as the one we’re in right now during the COVID pandemic, our only hope for contentment is to trust in Him!

God does not leave us hanging in His call for us to trust Him. He has sent us a love letter, His Word! In God’s love letter to us, we are told to give thanks to Him…why? For He is good!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”   Psalm 107:1

I don’t know about you, but when I want to make a point, or emphasize something, I repeat it over and over again. I am trusting that giving thanks to God because He is good, is what He desires from me because He repeats it over and over again in His love letter to me. 1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 118:29, Psalm 136:1, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 92:1, and on, and on, and on through both the Old and New Testaments more times than I can record here for us, that we are to give thanks to the Lord because He is good to us forever and always!

So in a time where discontentment too easily replaces contentment, and our mind tends to go to all of the things that are wrong, let’s practice giving thanks!

We just had Mother’s Day, and I was reminded of many reasons to be thankful for being a woman. Today I am thankful that because I am a woman, I can be a Wife, a Mom, a Grandma and a Girlfriend.

Now you go!

Name some things that you are thankful for along with me, as we keep our minds focused on God because He is good, and watch Him keep us in perfect peace and contentment in the midst of COVID!

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Contentment becomes contagious when we give thanks!

Speak Truth Love

SHE’S A WOMAN: My Grandmother

LOIS, EUNICE AND LELA

Lela was my…Grandmother!

Everyone deserves to have a grandmother like mine! It was not that she took me to Disneyland every day, or took me shopping whenever we were together, or took me on extravagant vacations, or bought me anything and everything my heart desired.

IT WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!

She gave me what money can’t buy…THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST-LIKE LIVING!  

She spent as much time with me as she physically could. She lived in Arizona and I lived in Northern California. She visited every Christmas and brought me to her house each Summer. I grew up going to Summer Bible Camp and Vacation Bible School at her house each year. I sat beside her as she taught Sunday School with a flannel graph board and poster sized pictures of all the Bible heroes. I stood on a stool next to her as she taught me to bake cookies and cakes. I propped myself up on a dining room chair and watched her make breakfast, lunch and dinner. I attended church with her on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, when I was with her. I helped prepare the jello salad or dessert we placed into the Tupperware dish with her last name printed on the bottom, written over scotch tape, SWITTER!

I went to the grocery store with her as she greeted every worker from the outside to the inside and they greeted her back. I drove to the post office with her as she walked each letter to be mailed inside. Every employee greeted her by name. She brightened the whole place with her smile! I accompanied her to her Women’s Bible Study and listened as she read from her Bible. I walked into the drug store around the corner with her as person after person yelled out her name. I sat close by as she and my grandfather would finish dinner on Saturday night, clean up the dishes and then fill out their offering envelope and place their giving check inside. I witnessed her dress beautifully for church and wear her black patent leather high heels from September through March, and her white patent leather high heels from April through August. I listened as she answered phone calls and spoke words of encouragement and prayers of blessing over the caller. I watched as she served ‘Meals on Wheels’ to shut-ins, and followed her into nursing homes as she visited those inside. I ate the dozens of Christmas cookies she baked and brought to her family each Christmas. I opened the presents she wrapped in festive wrapping paper and wore the dresses she made me each and every year. 

She led me in prayers, taught me to read, and trust the word of God, told me to shine my light for Jesus and know that I was beautiful because He created me!

My grandmother, by the life she lived, gave me the most valuable gift available on this earth,

to live my life every single day that I have breath, for JESUS!

She taught me life giving lessons when she told me to begin each and every day saying,

This is the day The Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

She would also tell me,

“Always forgive, even if the person is not deserving, because Jesus forgave you!”

She loved bigger than any person I have ever known, because she loved JESUS first and others next!

No book, sermon or lecture has taught me half as much as the life my grandmother lived has taught me. She did not tell me how to love Jesus, she showed me how to love Jesus!

To this day, she was my angel on earth, who now is my angel in heaven who waits for me.

I live my life for Jesus because she showed me how!

In the Bible we read about a young man who began his ministry early at the young age of 18 because of the godly influence of his mother and grandmother.

Timothy was filled with the same strong faith as his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother, Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.                                                          2 Timothy 1:5

Women, Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Cousins, Friends…we have a life-altering opportunity to set a Christ-like example for all those around us to follow.

As Mother’s Day approaches, their is no greater legacy that we can celebrate or set, than a legacy of following Jesus and loving His people!

My grandmother set the greatest example of all for me at her funeral.

I did not want to go to the funeral home because I wanted to keep my memories of her “alive and vibrant.” But God knew I needed to be at that funeral home.

I sat outside the viewing area in the lobby.  I was alone, and I watched the postman come in and walk into the viewing room, followed by the drugstore worker, and the lad at the grocery store. The streams and streams of children poured in that she taught in Sunday school and countless others from her community. She had touched all of their lives and they wanted to pay her respect!

Truth was, she had shown them JESUS, and their lives were impacted!

Lela, Lois and Eunice lived their lives full of Faith pointing other’s to Jesus. We can do the same!

On this Mother’s Day as we honor special women in our lives, LET’S HONOR THEM WELL, THANK THEM FOR THE IMPACT THEY HAVE MADE ON US AND OTHERS and challenge ourselves to be the women who will impact the next Lisa or Timothy!

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Grandmothers leave a legacy their grandchildren never outgrow!

Happy Mother’s Day to you friend, whether you are one biologically or have been a Mother to ones who have needed you! We honor and celebrate you, and the Mothers who have gone before us!

Speak Truth Love

SHE’S A WOMAN: My Mother

W O MAN…… I’LL SAY IT AGAIN!  WOMAN!  Remember that song?

How did it go…

“She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget your a man, cause she’s a WOMAN, W O MAN!

Truth is when we hear the word WOMAN spoken our minds often go to icons of that gender. Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Julia Roberts, and the top of most people’s all time female icons list…Audrey Hepburn.

Truth is, if we could ask each of these woman if they were or are completely pleased with the way they look or the lives they have led chances are they would find fault with themselves in some way!  

Audrey Hepburn for example carried herself with such grace and poise she seemed to float in her 5′ 7″ frame. She looked as though she could have eaten anything she wanted and never gain an ounce. I mean after all she had breakfast at Tiffany’s! Forgive the pun!

However, when interviewed she stated that she always wanted curves and desired to be shorter than she was. She dreamed of a dance career and she was too tall for it at the time.

Seems like we are never satisfied doesn’t it. Worse yet, we play the comparison game.

If I only had her shape I would be content. If I only made money like she does I would have what I need. If I only looked like her I would be happy…and on and on and on it goes!

Comparison is the enemy of Contentment.
I believe God wants us to be content with who He made us to be.

As we get close to the day set aside in our country to honor our Mother’s, I am ever thankful that God put wonderful women in my life.  

I have an incredible Mother and had an incredible Grandmother who set the bar high! They taught me to be proud of being a woman, to be confident in knowing I could do anything I put my mind to, and most of all to feel beautiful and not be ashamed of it.

Both women walked tall with grace and poise. They dressed feminine and classy. They were not embarrassed of who they were. Yet, they both had kindness and humility at their core.

My Mother;

My mother is absolutely beautiful physically!  She has deep round brown eyes and dark brown hair that is anything but mousey! She is perfectly proportioned and carries her frame on broad shoulders. Her legs are still shapely even at her age and her thin ankles still accentuate them.  She always dressed classy but with style. She rivaled Jackie O. in her day! However, none of these striking features are what you notice about her. It is her tender heart, her happy spirit, and her lovely smile that greets you.

My Mom loved everyone she met and loved her four girls even more!  She made holidays special, birthdays spectacular, and summer time off of school an adventure.  She never had a a lot of money but created adventure like nature hikes, library days, art museum visits and baking together to make those long days fun.

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What stuck out to me when I was younger and then grown is how many people knew her and admired her at the High School she worked at. My Mom went to work by necessity and ran the attendance office at one of our local High Schools. The students at the High School would beg to help her in her office as their elective class. They just loved being around her!

All of the teachers knew her by name and the coaches would give her free tickets to all of the games! She was a wonderful friend who met needs and she was the best daughter her parents could have had! My Mom never desired to work but did what she needed to do to help provide for her family.

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In the Bible there is a woman that I have never heard a sermon preached about.  She was strong, confident and faithful also. When God asked her to accomplish a hard assignment for Him, she did it!

Huldah was married to “the keeper of the kings wardrobe.”  This connected her to the royal court and palace which gave her residency in Jerusalem. She was a prophetess who spoke for God. When King Josiah ruled over Judah the Lord gave Huldah a very difficult message to speak, but she did it…

She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what The Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the King of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them…”                     2 Kings 22:14

I LOVE to tell people how much God loves them, but I am not raising my hand to be the one to tell people God is very angry with them and will eventually destroy them!

But Huldah was faithful to God’s call on her life and did not back down even when the assignment was hard!

I am thankful for the example of this woman in my life and for the example of my Mother in my life! They were both strong women used by God to bless others in His name!

God uses women just as He uses men. God uses servants just as He uses masters. God uses the rich just as He uses the poor. God uses natives just as He uses foreigners.

We are all made in God’s image and hold equal value in Him!

I thank God that I have examples in and out of the Bible that knew their worth was of equal value and found in God alone!

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WE ALL BEAR THE IMAGE OF GOD AND THEREFORE HAVE FULL VALUE AND DIGNITY IN HIM!

Speak Truth Love

LEAVING ON A JET PLANE —NOT!

I do not know where you thought you would be on this day, April 21st, six weeks ago if I had asked you. I can bet that you would not have told me that you would be quarantined in your home. If you had asked me where I would be, I would have told you that I would be on a jet plane headed for Harare Africa via Dubai! 

Jim and I had planned this mission trip to visit our missionaries there, and speak to as well as encourage the pastors and pastors wives that they work alongside. There was a ‘Pastor’s Conference’ planned and it was to begin only 2 days from now! All the preparations were made, the tickets were bought and the passports were ready! The location for the conference was secured and the topics to be shared selected. We fully expected to have nothing standing in our way. We did not expect a virus to cause the known to become unknown!

There is someone who knew I would not be on that plane even though the tickets were bought. There is someone who knew that the talks Jim and I were preparing would not be spoken at this time. There is someone who knew that while the preparations for the conference were being made it would not take place at this time.

GOD KNEW!

In Jeremiah God speaks to His people through His prophet and tells them that even though they may be in captivity, exiled from their home in Jerusalem to a foreign land, God KNOWS and He has plans for them!  

You see, they would be in captivity for a time, and they would need to persevere and remain faithful. If they did, God had plans for their good, and HOPE for their future. They just needed to trust and pray!

I KNOW the plans I have for you,” says The Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a HOPE.”  In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

This is not where I planned to be 6 weeks ago! I am guessing it is not where you planned to be either? But knowing that God knew, even when I did not know, gives me confidence to believe HE’S GOT THIS!

I did not expect to be quarantined this long. But I bet the Israelites did not expect to be in captivity for 70 years either!

God is FAITHFUL Friends! If we Trust in His knowing and not our own, and we pray to Him, HE WILL LISTEN!

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THE UNKNOWN TO US, IS KNOWN TO GOD AND HE’S GOT US!

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UNSTOPPABLE

This Easter Sunday looked like no other Easter Sunday in my lifetime!

At Easter time my mind is usually full of questions of preparation. Preparations for gathering together. 

What will our Easter services be like?

What will I fill the Easter baskets with? 

Do I have enough Easter eggs to hide for the Easter egg hunt with the kids?

What will I wear to church on Easter Sunday? 

What will I cook for Easter dinner? 

How many people will gather together, and will I have all of the ingredients to make it the perfect Easter celebration?

Did I remember to buy all of the toppings so the grandkids can decorate the Easter bunny cake?

Did we order the honey baked ham that is my son-in-law‘s favorite?

And most importantly, do we have enough Martinelli‘s sparkling cider to go around?

After all, I do live in Sonoma County now and Martinelli‘s is right around the corner!

Not one of these Easter questions that have run through my mind on every Easter I’ve been alive on this planet, ran through my head this year!

This year the coronavirus stopped me from gathering at all!

As I sat for a moment in my grief at the loss of gathering and doing the things I am used to doing on Easter, my spirit was checked.

I felt my spirit awakened to the truth that the real Easter is UNSTOPPABLE!

No lack of gathering for Easter services, Easter dinners, Easter baskets, or Easter egg hunts could stop the UNSTOPPABLE resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Not wars, not famine‘s, not earthquakes, not natural disasters, and not viruses can stop our unstoppable God!

Easter DID happen this year my friends! It may have looked different than any other Easter that we have celebrated! But the truth of Easter is an empty grave and victory over death! Our God is unstoppable and if we believe in him we are unstoppable too!

I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”  Matthew 16:18

This virus has gone on longer than any of us anticipated. It has caused us to change and adjust many of the ways we do things! But what it should never do is defeat us!  

As one of my favorite Pastors said on Easter Sunday morning, “We should never live in the attitude of defeat asking, ‘what if?’ because we serve a risen Savior, and UNSTOPPABLE God, we should live in the attitude of, ‘even though!’”

Even though I cannot gather at church on Easter Sunday, Jesus has still risen from the dead!

Even though I cannot gather with my extended family and have Easter dinner, my family loves me and I love them!

Even though my Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts may look very different this year, I still celebrate that all things are made new through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

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GOD IS UNSTOPPABLE AND WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE THROUGH HIM!

Things may look very different for a time my friends. But it is temporary!

What lasts forever is Christ’s Victory on the cross! Abuse could not stop Him! Ridicule could not stop Him! Torture could not stop Him! Separation could not stop Him!

DEATH COULD NOT STOP HIM!

OUR GOD IS UNSTOPPABLE!

And we are UNSTOPPABLE through Him!

Speak Truth Love

40 DAYS OF PASSION – WEEK 7

JESUS IS VICTORIOUS!
 
I am feeling anything but VICTORIOUS this week as I feel alone and isolated.
My attempts to stay connected to others though Zoom meetings, phone calls, text messages, and Facetime calls, have worked somewhat, but as they end I find myself longing for more!
I have taken on HOME projects that have been neglected for lack of time, but let’s face it, my “empty nest” syndrome has left me with very few of those!  I love my “quiet times” with God and cherish that golden couple of hours in the morning when I sit in solitude and read His Word and hear His voice only!
Problem is, after that life giving time of solitude with God, I NEED PEOPLE!
I started to feel guilty as I wondered what is wrong with me?  I should relish this interrupted period of time in our lives when the “Rat Race,” has come to a screeching halt!  I mean what is wrong with me? I’ve written Blog posts before on the “Craziness of Life.”  Now, here I am, presented with the opportunity to slow down the pace and I find myself craving the race!
But is it the “Race” that I crave? Am I not appreciating this season of slowing down? Am I not taking advantage of the opportunities to reach out to people, encourage them, communicate with them and let them know they are not alone and neither am I? Am I not taking seriously the changes and adaptations we have had to make in our ministry to meet the needs of our people in a different manner? Am I not taking every opportunity I can to read more of God’s Word and His Truth through His Word, additional books and pod casts? Am I not trying new recipes and exercises to keep my health and nutrition at it’s optimal?
The answer to all of theses questions is a resounding YES! I am doing my best to maintain a positive outlook on this unprecedented crisis in our world!  I am trusting in my Savior, Jesus Christ, to give me the strength and endurance to keep my focus on Him and His Word. I am praying as He modeled that, “God’s Will Would Be Done.”  I am calling on Him for His wisdom to adapt and change and meet the needs of the people He has called me to love and minister to.  I am changing up my routine and trying new recipes and exercises.  Yet, I still really miss people!
This week was the hardest week for me through this crisis thus far.  I found myself praying about writing my Blog this week and I was overcome with a sense of gilt and shame.
How can I write on VICTORY when I feel like a failure?
Then Jesus did what only He can do!  He spoke to me in His still small voice…
“I too felt lonely!”
“I too felt sad and unsupported.”
 “I too desired the company of those closest to me.”
“BUT GOD IS BIGGER!”
I was reading through the book of Luke and there it was, God’s Truth staring me in the face! I have had the practice of reading through the last week of Jesus’ life on Earth in the book of Luke from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday for the last 20 years or so.  And here it was as fresh as the newly baked muffins I pulled out from my oven, Jesus had been alone, grieved(aka sad,) unsupported by people, and desperately sought the company of those closest to Him in His greatest hour of need!
“Then, accompanied by His disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.  There He told them, “Pray that you will not give into temptation…He walked about a stone’s throw away, and knelt down and prayed.”   Luke 22:39, 41
BUT GOD WAS BIGGER!  Through the grief, the loneliness and the pain, JESUS endured the cross and was VICTORIOUS over death!

 
JESUS IS VICTORIOUS!
 
His VICTORY did not come without sacrifice!
 He endured the loneliness of separation from the people He came to save as they yelled, “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of The Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven.” Luke 19:38
Then within less than a week their cries turned to, “Kill Him, and release Barabbas to us!” Luke 23:18
He endured the loneliness of separation from those closest to Him as He prayed pleading prayers to God!  “At last He stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, and exhausted from grief.”  Luke 22:45
And finally, Jesus not only endured the pain and suffering of excruciating torture and death by crucifixion, but the worst kind of loneliness, separation from God Himself!
“By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”  And with those words He breathed His last.”    Luke 23:44-46
 
Jesus felt the loneliness of separation from people, close friends and even God Himself!
He was sad, disappointed and even grieved.  Yet it did not stop Him from being VICTORIOUS!
TRUTH BOMB
easter truth bomb
 
GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANYTHING WE FACE, THE EMPTY GRAVE PROVES IT!
 
As we celebrate Easter this year and it looks “different” than we have ever experienced it before,  REMEMBER, GOD IS BIGGER than the Corona Virus!
God is Bigger than our separation and isolation!
God is BIGGER than anything we face now or will ever face, and the empty grave proves it!
“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 
HE ISN’T HERE!  HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD!”  LUKE 24:5-6
 
HAPPY EASTER FRIENDS!
HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD AND HE IS VICTORIOUS!
Speak Truth Love

40 DAYS OF PASSION, WEEK 6

Just hours before His arrest Jesus prayed the most selfless prayer of all.  Knowing what lied ahead of Him, He asks the Father to remove this suffering from Him if at all possible.

That doesn’t seem too selfish does it?  I mean how many of us have asked the question, “Could it be done another way?”  Or made the statement, “I’m willing, but I would love to consider an alternative.”

Jesus knew the pain and suffering He was about to endure.  He was after all, God.  But while being fully God, He was also fully human.  Meaning, not only did He know the pain ahead of Him, He knew He would feel it at its’ fullest.

Yet, out of His LOVE for the Father and for us, He submitted His will, to the will of the Father!

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Week 6-JESUS IS SELFLESS

This High Priest of ours(Jesus), understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.”             Hebrews 4:15

As we begin another week of social distancing, isolation and having our schedules and lives interrupted at best and possibly turned upside down, isn’t it wonderful and reassuring to know we have a Savior who loves us selflessly and was willing to endure the pain and suffering of the cross for us?

Just a few short months ago my feet were walking though the very garden Jesus walked on His way to the cross.  A garden He had walked in many, many times before!

I noticed as I walked through it that it is positioned on a hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem. I could imagine my selfless Savior stepping down the same dusty path,  stumbling over the same rocks, and positioning Himself under the shade of one of these same olive trees, as He prayed to His Father for the people He loved so dearly, people like me and people like you.

Jesus understands our frustrations, our fears, our anger, our pain and every other emotion we experience. Yet He remained selfless and went to the cross for you and for me!

TRUTH BOMB

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JESUS CHOSE SELFLESSNESS OVER SELFISHNESS…THE FATHER’S WILL OVER HIS OWN!

Speak Truth Love

40 DAYS OF PASSION – Week 5

One week into ISOLATION and how are you doing?  Are you stocked up on toilet paper, bread,  and eggs? When you open your refrigerator or pantry door, do you breathe a sigh of relief, or take in a gasp of air as you realize your supply is running low?  Are you cherishing this slowed down pace, or are you ready to pull your hair out because of it?

And what about WATER?  Were you able to pick up a case of bottled water at the grocery store? Or, did you, like me, watch the cart pass you by as it pushed it’s way out of the store with 12 cases of the last water the store had available?

What causes the eggs and toilet paper to disappear off of the shelves? What makes the bread racks empty after years of excess bread becoming outdated and ending up at the food banks?

And why would we suddenly be out of bottled water when most of us live in counties that typically want to shoot us for drinking from a plastic bottle?

FEAR! That’s what!

Sure, we can say that it’s not really FEAR, it’s just common sense and common decency.

We are stocking up to make sure we have enough for our time of isolation. And we are being decent to those around us by being well-supplied so that we stay isolated and do not leave our homes.

But is that really the reason? Do common sense and common decency cause us to panic and hoard?  No!  The truth is,FEAR does!

I am not going to lie that this is not a scary, weird time. It is typical for us to face a frightening, unknown situation like this and be fearful!  But do we allow that fear to turn into panic or TRUST?  

“NOTHING TESTS OUR TRUST LIKE FEAR.”

I love this quote. We all face fearful situations in life. At times they can even feel life-threatening like an unknown virus…like the Corona Virus we are facing.  

FEAR is a normal human response.  We are faced with something unknown that we cannot control and our lives are turned topsy turvey!  We are fearful.

It is what that fear does to our trust in God that matters!

Do we allow our fear to tear down our trust in God and send us rushing to the store in a panic to buy up the last of the toilet paper and water? Or do we allow the fear to fade into  TRUST in our powerful faithful God?

Hezekiah was a godly King who did what was pleasing in The Lord’s sight! Hezekiah was human just like you and I. He was the King of Judah in Jerusalem when the powerful Assyrian army was threatening and conquering all of the surrounding territories.   

He had to have been fearful as he looked around at his world and saw what was happening. Just like you and I are today! His response both assures us and challenges us.

Hezekiah’s TRUST in God was tested and he initially gave in to that fear and paid the “tribute money” demanded by the Assyrian leader. He even used the silver stored in the Temple of The Lord to pay it!  His fear overtook him and he lost his trust in God.

Soon, Hezekiah’s trust in God was tested even further!

The Assyrian King threatened to shut off the water supply to Hezekiah and his people!

He said they would be so thirsty and so hungry that it would cause the people to revolt against Hezikiah.

Sound familiar? Not enough water!  Water is essential to our very life. Nothing grows without it. When we do not grow food, when we do not drink, we die!

Recently, on my trip to Israel I visited Caesarea. There we visited the ancient tunnels and arches used as water ways to bring the water from it’s source to the king!

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Water is essential to all life!  We cannot live without it!  Both of these ancient kings were living in the desert. Their water ways were vital to their very lives!

King Hezekiah was being threatened with the lives of his people and himself! His water source would be cut off.  Life would cease!

As his trust was tested by fear, his trust grew in the only true life source, God Himself!

Hezekiah turned to God, prayed, and pleaded with Him as he trusted in the power and faithfulness of God.  His fear turned to Trust!  God saved them from the hand of the Assyrians!

BUT BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD AND HAVE MADE THE LORD THEIR HOPE AND CONFIDENCE.”                       JEREMIAH 17:7

WE HAVE HOPE TODAY IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES BECAUSE WE TRUST IN THE LORD OUR GOD!

WEEK 5 JESUS IS OUR LIVING WATER. HIS SOURCE NEVER RUNS DRY!

We have a King today, we are not alone in this crisis! While many days living through it may bring fear, may those days be fleeting as we TRUST IN THE LORD OUR GOD, OUR KING OF KINGS!

The King of Kings, Jesus, went to the cross and conquered death to bring living water to you and me! His supply never runs dry and can never be cut off!

TRUTH BOMB

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TRUSTING IN JESUS, OUR LIVING WATER, CASTS OUT FEAR!

Speak Truth Love