The gift of a servant

towel and basin

It had been a long day, and everyone was looking forward to sitting down and lingering over a good meal with good company. The band of brothers and their Leader, Jesus. What an emotionally charged week it must have been so far. The city was alive with the festivities of Passover. A loud buzz of preparation hovered over the house rooftops.

The group walked in and found the table set. Jesus smiles. Someone had carefully laid out the tableware and utensils, signaling the servants were ready. He recognized the simple attention to detail and let out a small sigh of relief. The room was full of holy tension.

At last, Jesus could spend a little down time with a few intimate friends.

He didn’t sit long before he moves to the corner of the room and there he fills a basin filled with water. He lays aside his outer garments, wraped a towel around his waist, knelt quietly and washed their feet.

He worked the souls of worn, tired feet with care. He looked into the eyes of those who would meet his. Some looked away, and one glanced away in shame.

Even still….Love served the hearts, humility knelt, as Jesus’ hands touched each set of feet, kindness came to those who would soon be mourning. He knew which one was whispering betrayal under his breath, and He also knew that the “Father had given all things into his hands, and was returning to the Father.”

What kind of man loves that big while waiting to die?

What kind of love serves on it’s way to certain death?

What kind of love gives with nothing in return?

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love,” said one that Jesus loved the most.

What kind of pure love is a love that expects nothing in return?

This kind of love that is not based on our good or bad behavior, or comparing, nor measured by man. It is a sacrificial love that serves and accepts. Jesus poured out his life as a drink offering for his very friends who were going to fail, deny, turn away, hate, kill, compromise their beliefs, and watch him die. Even when He was hours away from death, His life was obedient to humble service.

Perfect Love is unparalleled. The events that followed his act of service reveal the full extension of God’s perfect Love. Jesus’ love is proclaimed from the ultimate humiliation, the torture, and death on the cross. No greater Love has ever been or will ever be.

Perfect Love saves. I am reminded of this Love when I am found in His presence. It’s free and available to anyone and everyone who believes and calls on His name. You can trust it, hope in it, and have faith in it.

Pure. Simple. Love. An supernatural emotion that can be trusted, tried, and proven faithful and trustworthy, found in the perfect source of God.

“I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

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How to hear God in the midst of your storm

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Two of my favorite writers are talking about how to hear God.  How to know God’s will, understand who He is, and to move forward in faith is a common struggle among Christians.  Don’t we all want to know and understand His plans for us?

I call it struggle because we hesitate asking or going to God in prayer first before the storms of life actually hit.  We say “at least we can pray about it”.  Or worse yet, we casually comment about mentioning the issue to God and then never utter one single prayer.

There is one thing I do know about human nature, we like to handle our own problems, hide the places we need a fix, and tend have selective hearing.  It’s not necessarily a gender thing, or new christian versus veteran-for-life thing, it’s a trait that leans on procrastination.  There will always be tomorrow or later to pray.  Mostly we pray more when life gets tough, or a loved one contracts cancer.  I like to call it lulling our selves into self-sufficiency or spiritual attention deficit disorder.

This is wrong thinking about talking to God.  God always listens to our prayers and loves to speak to His children.

You see, God created us to need people, that’s why community feels so good or you might say “misery loves company”.  One of the huge things about us is that we don’t like feeling alone.  Isolation is a doorway that the enemy crouches at.  I guarantee that Satan loves to seclude us to a place of loneliness to leave us in a pit of powerless feelings in every realm of your life.  If he gets you in that position then, there’s doubt, we are defenseless, weak, often defeated in a moment’s notice.

Satan also likes to get us busy so we don’t have time to commune with the Holy Spirit by reading the Bible.  Often we are confounded by the version that we think the super-Christians are reading.  The real reason people don’t read their Bible is that they hold to the opinion that’s just a book of stories or that it’s boring.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s loaded with the most exciting adventures of life, history, and love.  The currency of God’s word is still something we desperately need on a daily basis.  I personally can’t get enough of it and consult it often.  I take it very personal as God’s love letter to me.

The biggest way to hear from God in the calm days and the stormy days is to stay close.  Don’t move from reading about Him, living in His words of advice, and the position of prayer.  If you stick with these practices, then you will know the sound of the Lord.  Adam and Eve knew His sound, they even hid when they heard it.

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked,  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” Genesis 3:7-8 

I’ve always thought that this sound was something that would have been audible and similar to leaves rustling or something natural like that.  But one day as I was reading this verse and the Spirit helped me realize the intensity of the moment of where Adam and Eve had really understood their mistake.  The first couple was so familiar with God’s presence that once He was near….they knew it.  

There is something about when God enters the room.  You know it, there’s no question about what that noise is, or if it’s a ghost or some kind of mistake in hearing correctly.  When you know the sound of the Lord because of being in His presence you don’t have to ask for sure if it’s really Him.

Moses was pretty sure even though he asked the question of a bush on fire.  Abraham obeyed Gods sound even though he had to give up his son he had waited his entire life for.  David was in solitude when he heard God best.  God still speaks today and it’s us who are deaf to His voice, have clogged hearing with sin in our lives and refuse to lean in and listen close to the love that is undeniably the sound of the Lord in every day life.

When do you have trouble hearing from God?

What I found at the end of my weight loss tunnel

mirror image

If you take one glance at the magazine racks as you are checking out of any grocery store, they will remind you of the image that is popular these days.  The covers boast all sizes, shapes, fashion and the latest trends.  The glossy shines bright, best, and beautiful.  The look of the world is defined by a certain designer’s perspective or glamour expert.

Being defined by man’s standards is always a dangerous place to be and a deadly place to put yourself.  When we focus on what man’s view of how we should look, be, or live up to, we soon forget God’s perspective of us and what we were created for.  To believe that we were created to reflect the glory of God takes practice and focus on how He created us.

We were created from His image and that He is our creator.  If you need a reminder of how God sees you, raise your hand?  Don’t we all?

In today’s world, where glamour is instant, easily attained, and socially pinned, we pale in measuring up in the world’s beauty mirror and fail to see God’s beauty in us.  How many of you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see?  How many of you look at your reflection and only see the failures and flaws?

You can change your perspective and see yourself as God sees you.  It only takes a few new habits to seeing yourself through God’s eyes.  Research shows that it takes three weeks to learn something new.  This won’t happen overnight but it will bring to light what’s hidden from your view.  Hang in there and let’s dig into who God says you are!

At the end of my weight loss tunnel, I had to grapple with who I was created to be.

Step 1:  Begin each day, from this day forward, by asking God to reveal how He sees you…simply because you are his child!

Step 2:  Concentrate on the truth that He shows you and the verse(s) that the Holy Spirit gives you!

Step 3:  Read and pray for the Lord to change your perspective for a heavenly view of your heart and soul.

Step 4:  Reinforce Scripture passages by highlighting them in your Bible and posting them on your mirror!

Step 5:  Write your personal prayers and put them where you need the reminders the most!

Step 6:  Repeat the truth to yourself often.  With a grateful heart, acknowledge that you have infinite worth in the eyes of your heavenly Father.

By following God’s beauty plan, He will move in you to see yourself from His point of view.  That’s a beauty regime to stick with.  It’s a no fail plan and doesn’t point out flaws.  Soon you too will see with God’s eyes the way He sees you, the way He sees us all.  Loved, beautiful, and righteous!

This one simple practice will result in such change from the inside out.  I know you are looking to see you…right?

Why is this so important?  Every person born into this world has had difficulty with identity at one time or another in their lives.  We all struggle with our self-image.  When we strive to be everyone else but the “you” God created, then we are giving control to those things that control our perspectives in life.  When we are anchored in the truth of Christ, we give the Holy Spirit control in what matters most in our life.  We then see the vision that God has for each of us, one of immense value, purpose and an identity shaped by Christ and not by the world.  That’s an image those magazines will never reflect.

How do you see yourself and does it measure up to what God says about you?

Price of a prayerless life

Simply said…prayer works.  I know that, and you know that.  Sure …right?

I heard a story last week about a young mom who had been praying to God about a certain decision she needed to make.  She lamented, “It felt like God wasn’t listening.”  The ladies gathered around her story stopped to encourage her, reassuring her that every prayer is heard.  

She continued to tell us just how God heard her prayer.  She went to an antique store to do a little retail therapy on the same day she had the feeling that God’s hearing might have clogged a bit upon listening to her request.  She spotted an old dainty figurine of magnolia flowers perched atop a glossy, golden branch setting on a corner on a dusty shelf.  The uniqueness of the piece drew her curiosity in.  With a toddler on her hip, she moved toward the shelf.  She picked up the shiny treasure, holding it gently.  She turned over the glazed flower and saw a name written on the bottom.  She gasped.  On the bottom, written in gold, was the name of her husband’s deceased grandmother.  The grandmother had been a collector of fine unique antiques and signed the family name to each one.  Once she died, her memory collection was given away.  

Recognizing the heritage, she walked the precious memento to the cash register and paid $4.00.  The connection to her husbands legacy was worth way more than that.  She couldn’t wait to get home to tell her husband of rare find.  It was then that God spoke to her heart and said, “Trust Me, I’ve heard your prayers, and I just wanted you to know.  You have been heard.”

What a personal God!  No one would have known except this mom on that day what that a single name would have meaning, yet God in His mercy bends down and listens to each one of our words to Him.  You might be thinking this is just a nice feel-good story, and in her family it was a huge sign that God has been present and listening to her prayers. 

What about your prayers?  Does it feel like no one is listening to them?  Do you believe that God hears our prayers?  If we were truly honest with ourselves and each other, we would have to admit there are times when it seems as if God isn’t listening with all the requests that are pounding on Heaven’s heart door.

Most Christians profess that prayer is their weakest area.  It’s a human trap that we can all fall into.  The apostles of the early church certainly knew the trappings of ministry and the busyness of every day life, and also the collision of both ministry and life along the way.  The truth of the matter is we often don’t take time to pray, and therefore we slip into the lie that “God knows it all anyway, so why pray about it?”

The price of prayerless life is high.  God wants to help and empower those who make themselves available to His words and works.  God knows the depth of our distractions that make our hearts wayward and yet He loves us anyway.  God knows the least, the last, and the lost by name.  He knows you like you don’t know yourself.  He knows of the healing He wants to give you, He holds the peace that you need, and He longs to show His compassion upon you.

He also knows your unbelieving heart.  How often do we ask God for something but yet don’t believe Him for the very thing we have asked Him for?  One thing to remember is, that God is not a vending machine.  There are divine reasons that He doesn’t give us everything we selfishly ask for.

Talking to the Father shows our faith in the unseen.  Having faith and trusting God completely to be our Source pleases God.  Don’t let a day go by without talking to the only God who loves more than you can love yourself.

Don’t give into the price of a prayerless life.  Because God does hear every word, and we can’t do this life without Him.  

Mark 11:24  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

One step into the slums

hovel, shanty,

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry about missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”  Matthew 6:33. (MSG)

I was wiping the shiny kitchen counter in front of me and thinking about this verse.  God keeps smiling back with the nudge to search inside where His quiet work is done.  My mind wandered back to a C.S. Lewis tweet as God connected some of my quiet thoughts.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”  ~ C.S.Lewis.

There are so many days when I wish I could lean over our latte-laden table and tell you there has been a big awakening in my soul.  I wish I could tell you that one single prayer of desperation, as I took one step into some Indian slums changed everything for me.  I’m not sure if it originated there or not.  Could one pair of lost eyes living in the slums, urgently and intentionally haunt me?

I again prayed for Jesus to be enough and hold my thoughts to connect with His dots.

In those slums, I witnessed desperation, a desperate class desperate for God.  Followers and those following other gods, all seeking God in the most desperate of ways in the middle of their depravity.  Only a few were believing Jesus was the answer to everything.  In those slums I saw evil oozing from behind doorways.

When we seek God as our answer to everything, he becomes our answer to all things.

“God I want to know the holy desperation that meets YOU at the end of my everything.”  My simple and audacious prayer traveling back home, as I left a piece of my heart behind, asking the simple question of how can a mom raise children in someone else’s trash.    How could evil invade a home so easily?

I still desperately seek the God of the unsearchable to simply find answers to my questioning heart.  His answer was to “live simply so others may simply live.”  Oh how my prayers changed while stepping into the desperate prayers of another mother.

The slummy mess brings a deep and desperate contentment in God alone.  Not only for what He does, not only for how He provides, not only for the peace He gives, but only and simply for who He is.

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves.” ~ Sir Francis Drake, 1577

I wiped the counter again like it was the first time in my already clean kitchen and realized this restless season was for my spiritual springing.   I simply started to take a spiritual inventory to look back at where I’ve grown.

When you look at your past prayers, God shows you where you have been.  God brings restoration and healing in those areas where only you know you need… through the letting go and letting open of the places that we tend to desperately hide.

He has brought me to a deeper level of prayer.  He met me in my seeking and searching as I have sought Him first above all things.  I have waited patiently to let His grace unfold in my life.  I have made time for reading His love letter to me.  God cares much more about our character imitating His character, rather than bringing more under our wings to manage.  In consistently seeking from a desperate heart, God has prepared me to give my heart away with abandon.

God is bringing freedom and abandonment in many areas right now.  In my desperate seeking, I have found so much more.  My soul is budding by leaps and bounds by creating spring-margin for God to bring deeper still the growing in wisdom and stature.

Oh how I love the spring of the Spirit.  It feels like we’ve only just begun, God, but just a few steps in, I know this spring season will be different.  Be desperate for more Spirit springs.  Take and let Him make deep roots, causing the push of new growth towards the light of His Love.  God not only shakes our worlds but He desperately awakens our souls in due seasons and in perfect time.

What you need to know today

I gently slipped her little size shoe off, it was nap time.  Time to rest, and by taking off the shoes, which lay within feet of my hands, they rest. How often do we let our minds rest before the Lord?

If I were to follow myself around with a pen and paper I would dutifully examine all of my choices, behaviors, what I listen to, what I eat, the habits I have, the thoughts that I think in an effort to live out the days I have left with God’s grace and mercy.  As I slipped off that little shoe, God spoke to my heart to say “it’s ok to self-examine yourself to see the changes that I am doing in you, but it’s ok to know that today, you have to leave room in your mind to rest.”

Resting on what we know about God keeps us content to abide in His rest.  

Taking time to reflect is good.  We are supposed to ponder about the things that of God.  We are supposed to leave this time of fellowship with a sense of wonder and mystery.  We don’t have to figure God out.  We can’t wrap human reason around a boundless God, and Infinite Power, and our Eternal Source.  

What you need to know today is that we can’t hear Him unless you rest in His stillness.  The world constantly teaches to produce, accomplish, and make a name for yourself.  To take charge of what you can do.  To promote yourself, to look at the works of your hands, or to take note of what you are about.

“Just do it!”  Just start, and do what you need to do to take care of your “still” time with God.  What this does is build in that rest that we need to hear God’s voice in the stillness or the unproductive times, the times when we don’t feel like we are accomplishing anything.  We need to know it’s okay to rest on those days when we are only planting seeds, and watching for the seedlings of change to take root.

What I know about seeds, there is a period where the heart of the seed has to soften, to germinate to grow, to expand, to prepare to produce.  God’s still voice prepares us to produce and abide in the grace that goes before each one of us.   

Intimacy with God will take you the distance that keeps you “abiding” in His presence, enables you to hear His voice, and keep you in right relationship with Him.  Before we can turn back to Him, we must repent of the things that took us away from Him in the first place.  As we set aside time for reflection and solitude, the Holy Spirit will show us the ways we need to confess and give us the grace to experience forgiveness and fellowship.

Just do it friends, there is no place to start than where you are right now to examine your ways and what is wrong and/or right in your life.  Allow His sweet stillness to give you the forgiveness to get you back on track to experience His stillness.  I too need reminders of restoration and rest that are always needed.

When you feel like you can’t

Some days I feel weak. Some days I feel like I don’t quite measure up to who God has called me to be and what God has called me to do. I guess that’s just it: Mom, Missionary, Public Speaker, Cleaner, Hammy, Wife, Accountability Partner, Mentor, or whoever and whatever is on the list today. Perhaps you have felt this way too.

Don’t we all feel this way from time to time? There are those days that we feel like we don’t quite measure up. We have seasons where things go great and then we have seasons that remind us how much we need God on an hour by hour basis.

It’s only by grace that we can live a life of faith, but it’s certainly by God’s mercy that we can live well and excel while doing it. For those days when feel like you can’t, just remember that seasons of suffering and sorrow remind us that this world is not our home. I hope this helps in some small way.

I finished a long and arduous season of many emotions, plain and simple. It came from everything and hit all at once. Family, writing, outreach, home, parents, emotions, children. All of it, in everything. There was one verse that got me through.

Notice I said “through”. I took a page from Paul’s testimony through hard times.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19

God sends us through those “desert” seasons and by His grace I have traveled through many of them. I have days where I feel so in tune with God’s Spirit, and then there are those other days when I let fear control my thoughts. When fears assail me, I disengage from God’s strength to do this life apart from Him.

Thankfully I am learning to go to God for EVERY need through each and all seasons. I believe that God will and does and has supplied ALL my needs according to His grace and mercy, His glorious riches. No.matter.what day or time or year.

I have also found that my emotions are NOT dependable. Faith isn’t about feelings, Faith is about trusting that when I do run to God for everything and anything, all the things, those “all emotions” are feelings I can leave at His feet. I trust Him to get me through all things by what He shows me, be it by the wisdom comes through His Word, His people, or through His voice. I know I can trust Him on those days when I feel like I can’t make it through the next thought!

All that being said, I am so thankful for new seasons. For the new way of thinking of God, how He supplies and I don’t have to manufacture the good “Christian” answers. The new way of praying with a complete heart of trust, the new way of believing that having this trusting faith pleases my Father. The new way to do life, no matter what circumstances are plaguing me at the moment.

This trust has done a wonder in my life and it has ignited my heart and mind. I am thankful for the “through” abilities of a God who loves us, who is for us, and for reasons that are for His pleasure, work in ways that we can’t understand to leave us in wonder of His glorious riches.

When I see His character displayed in my life, I am fulfilled, satisfied, and made whole. My identity and value is in knowing that I am a part of the priesthood of the saints through all the seasons of life. We need the “deserts” to fully appreciate when God showers his blessings.

Thank you Jesus for deserts and grace to get through them but thank you also for the promise of Your holy words into our lives. ~ Amen.

What’s a time when God got you through something that you faced?

When food is how you cope

I used to think that I needed chocolate chip cookies to help me deal with any and all of my life circumstances. Every one of them. Those hot, warm, chewy and chunky chocolate cookies are certainly comforting when you just need to escape stress or worry, or whatever is facing you at the moment. I know..been to that plate so many times.

Imagine that the cookie, that has your name on it, is “standing” next to you. You are holding it’s arm and walking it towards a judges bench. You ask the judge, “Now should I eat this cookie or should I just tell you my problems, worries, woes and all my complaints.” The judge says, “Just tell me, I can help, but I know for a fact that cookie will only come back to bite you later.”

Now imagine that judge is Jesus. What broke me of the idea of thinking I needed to use food as a crutch was asking Jesus if it was okay that I leaned on the cookie for it’s sweet counsel over His wise counsel. Once I considered that, well the choice was obvious for me.

We know we should run to Jesus first, and He always gives us the best counsel when we listen. We sometimes don’t want to hear what He wants to tell us though do we? I’m throwing myself into that selective hearing courtroom session too! I struggled with that for years, until God got my attention and then showed me His wisdom in helping me make wise food choices.

It certainly brings perspective to the things I run to. 🙂

Food is just like a drug only worse, we have to have it, we have to cook it, we have to buy it and prepare it. We have to have it to exist. We can’t make it behave around us. So what I had to do was learn to behave around food itself, and not let my emotions make my emotional choices for me.

I know it’s hard, 132 lbs is hard work, yes, but the choices that matter are worth it, even the hard ones and that’s a confession from an emotional eater!

This morning I just confessed to my leadership group that the last two weeks have been the most emotionally charged for me with family situations, but I was the strongest in my food choices by not making those emotional choices. That was good to admit but also good to realize that it comes with much practice and prayer. Many days I still want that chocolate chip cookie, but NOW I am so conscious of the consequences of the cookie, that I have to be more choosy in my choices.

The fact remains that food is good, and wonderful, and we can use wisdom in choosing right when it’s important to us. Anything can be a crutch when we use it to cope with something that we want to escape.

“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.” Jim Elliott