Old Shoes

 

 

Well worn, well used…used up. To be discarded, replaced with newer, better, cleaner and more functional. Have you felt like that? Have you ever felt like you were used up, so tired and worn-out that surely God could find someone, anyone, who could do what He has called you to do better, more effectively, faster and with more panache. If you are a mom of littles, like me, it is probably every day, right?

 

Truthfully, it was only when the bottom fell out of these ones, that my husband finally relented and decided it was time. Time to pull out the brand new ones that he has hidden away for oh, about a year. Yes, sitting in a box in the storage room, just waiting for their opportunity to be part of the action. To hit the road, to be used. 

 

Why didn’t he want to switch them out? Well, the old ones had served him through many a bike ride. They were soft and broken in, they slid on easily with no fight and were comfortable through a 40 mile bike ride. See, my husband is no casual, recreational rider. When he rides, it is always a race against the clock, himself and whatever near-impossible standard he has set for the day. Impressed? Well you should be. He doesn’t just ride, he trains. Hard. And he needs his gear to work as hard as he does. Maybe that is why he couldn’t bear the thought of switching out the shoes. Maybe that is why he waited until the bottom literally fell out before he finally made the call.

 

Here is is so amazing about the God we serve. We serve a God that can rescue us when the bottom falls out. And not by replacing us with a newer model. Why is that? I am so glad that you asked. See, He promised His Holy Spirit to bolster and strengthen and empower us to do everything that He asks us to do…yes everything! We are a holy priesthood, called to go into all the earth and proclaim His name. But just look at this promise:

 

    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!     

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness     

    streams in the wasteland.                                 ---Isaiah 43:18-19

 

I don’t claim to say that you will never feel tired, broken or too worn-out to carry on, but the very Creator of universe promises that He will not only meet you there, but will create in you a new thing. In you, not beside you and not instead of you. He wants to re-make you, all new. 

 

See, while the new shoes are squeaky clean and fresh, the old shoes have battle scars and miles of experience that are simply irreplaceable. Your battle scars and miles of experience might be the very thing that qualifies you to reach someone who might be enduring the most difficult thing of their life. They might need you to be Jesus with skin on. Remember the old saying, “You will never understand another until you walk a mile in his shoes…” Be thankful for all the miles He has given you.

You Are a Child of God: SuperGenes and SuperMeans

 

My delightful kids, 10 and 7 years, seem to be obsessed right now with which parent they resemble more. They love observing their own physical characteristics, character traits, innate tendencies and then studying their mom or dad to see which one they are most like. Maybe it is that insatiable desire to know the outcome before we get there. We all have that, don’t we?

 

So after all our analysis, we have concluded that our daughter resembles Daddy mostly, not only in her appearance, but also in a myriad other ways: How they get colds. How they solve problems. And even how they run. On the other hand, we also see that she resembles me, her mom, in a number of ways: How she interacts with her friends, the things she likes to do, her choices in what to wear. Likewise, our son tends to resemble his Mama most closely in skin tone, facial features and his tender heart. But alas, he is a boy and we readily observe all those man-cub tendencies towards making weird (& loud) noises, a love for cars and collecting rocks.

 

It can be argued, of course, that the apple does not fall far from the tree. That you become who you are because of your genes, regardless of any teaching or training or attempts to change it. On the other hand, there is abundant research that points to nurture playing an undeniable role in who we turn out to be.

 

As believers, we are Children of God. That means we are chosen, appointed, redeemed, stamped and sealed. That means that we have the best of both genetics and nurturing. Listen to this…we have been made in His image. (Genesis 1:27) He has implanted the DNA of His greatness in each of us. Let that really sink in for a moment…

 

The hard reality, though, is that we are also 100% human. That means we will never be perfect or even close. However, the Bible says that He is constantly working to sanctify us…that means improve, purify, make holy. He never stops growing us, teaching us and reviving us. Wow. 

 

So, not only do we have ‘SuperGenes’ we also have ‘SuperMeans’. His Holy Spirit working in us will quicken and empower and bolster and strengthen us to complete everything that He puts in front of us, should we choose to accept His mission! 

 

But therein lies the rub, the real pre-requisite for greatness. The Bible makes it very clear that all of this comes to those who have accepted His Lordship and then, on a daily basis, choose to follow Him. Whew! That means saying no to good things that call you off your purpose in Him. That means saying no to other things that pull you away from His holiest standard for your life. That means separating yourself unto Him, to the exception of all else that is desperately grappling for your attention. 

 

Will you choose His destiny for you today? Will you join me as a joint-heir with Christ? The outcome, (and we do know) is literally…out of this world!!

 

 

 

 

If God is in the Work, You will Constantly Be Building

 

 

I love this! On Sunday a few weeks back , Pastor Teague interviewed Roger Smith about some of his real-life experiences over the years as a long-term member of Victory Hill Church. Back then it was Lancaster Church of God, but Roger was actually there from the very beginning.

 

Roger is such a great guy. He is a faithful greeter who will shake your hand or give you a decisive high five as you walk into service. He is the one who makes eye contact and sincerely greets you and may even give you a hard time if you haven’t been there for a while because he notices. And remembers.

 

He has been there through many the stages of growth and building and wisely recognizes that we are building for our future, for our children and, should Jesus tarry, for our children’s children.

 

Jesus said, “I will only do what I see my Father doing. I can only act in obedience to Him.” John 8:28, 14:31 Even as He taught us the importance of obedience, He was teaching us the importance of trusting God for the Holy Spirit power to do the work. 

 

Pastor went on to talk about Nehemiah and how under His amazing leadership, the remnant of Israel re-built the walls of Jerusalem. “So we built the walls in 52 days, because the people had a mind to work.” Nehemiah 4:6.  Wow! Do you get the significance of this? They re-built the ruined walls in a time when there were no forklifts, no cranes, and no pre-cast bricks. They re-built the ruined walls with the pure physical creativity and ability of the workers. 

 

As we enter this stage of growth and building with our church, the following questions began to burn within me:

 

Who among us has a mind to work? 

Who among us will be found doing only what the Father is doing? 

Who among us will pray as Nehemiah did, before he ever started the work? 

Who among us can see that when God is in the work, we will always be building?

 

Let us pray to that end today and allow God to whisper His specific instruction into our hearts and then hop to it…those bricks will not move themselves!

Right Thinking

“Right Thinking and Right Speaking Will Expand Your Imagination” ---Pastor Teague

 

I am a word girl. I simply love words. And books and more books…I’m certifiable. I also stand in awe of those who have the ability to imagine plot lines, great business plans and fantastic architecture. It seems when we are imagining, we are the most like God. So when Pastor Teague belted this one out on Sunday, I did some serious thinking, mulling it over. Could I actually expand mine?

 

Spoken and written and sung. Words have power. Words have the power to encourage, to heal, to change you and me for the better. They also have the power to hurt, to squelch, to undermine and to stop you dead in your tracks. The written and spoken Word of God is transformational, defying our intellect. It is unquestionably beyond our imagination.

 

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” And he was considered to be one of the foremost ‘Imagineers’ in history.

 

Maybe that is why King David prayed, ”keep this (the idea of the temple of God) forever in the imagination of thy people and prepare their heart unto thee…” 

--1 Chronicles 29:18

 

From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Okay, now I am starting to get it. Garbage In, Garbage Out… Although one of the most powerful muscles in the body, the tongue can do nothing without the all-important connection to your brain.

 

So, how do we do right thinking and right speaking? I think it is much simpler than we might think…it might be as simple as immersing ourselves in a steady diet of His Word. Sit down (yes, I am giving you license!) and let His Word penetrate your heart. Listen to a Bible App on your phone or order a great devotional book on Audible if you don’t have time to sit down. Listen to His Word in your car or spend your commute time communing with Him…

 

Think about all those things you long for more than anything else. Peace, love and happiness. Harmony in your family. More laughter, more joy and more health. 

 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.       --Philippians 4:8

 

I am going to guess that if you take this seriously, God will too! And as the ultimate Creative Thinker, I will bet some of His imagination just might rub off. 

Won’t you join me and give it a try? 

…And just imagine what life might be like…

…Never, Never, Never Give Up…

 

 

Pious platitudes perhaps, but let’s take a moment and look at the man who is famousfor having said them. First of all, this is not coming from someone who did, give up that is. These are the words of Winston Churchill. 

 

Mr. Churchill was born 2 months premature, in a time when that, in itself, could have been life-ending. He went on to endure a lack-lustre academic career, barely keeping step with his classmates. He almost died again, when, after a 29 foot fall, was rendered fully unconscious for 3 whole days. Against all odds, he survived, going on to become the elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. From these very humble beginnings, he rose to become arguably the most influential leader in the free world. 

 

But his struggles did not end there. Most people don’t know that in this role, he was forced to overcome what was described as an agonizing lisp and stutter. He went on to stand toe-to-toe with one of the most powerful forces of evil in human history, eventually leading the Allied Forces to victory. Winston Churchill’s influence changed the course ofhuman history globally, because he never gave up.

 

Jesus promised that as His disciples, we will encounter trouble. It is inevitable. He has also promised that He would never leave or forsake us. He further promised that he would send His comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, to lead and guide us through whatever mire we might find ourselves in. 

 

Proverbs 4:23 says: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 

 

It is from our heart, particularly with Jesus in residence, that life springs. Did you get that?

 

This week, guard your heart with the promise of His presence. 

 

  1. When you are frustrated with life(we have every right to be)…Never Give Up!
  2. When you have faltered (we always do!)…Never Give Up!
  3. When you have really failed (and we will do that too!)…Never Give Up!

 

It is often thought that successful people have less difficulty, less failure or an extra measure of good luck in their lives. But in reality, if you examine the lives of highly successful people, like Winston Churchill, its not that they have not failed any less…they have just gotten up more frequently. Or in other words, Never gave up!

 

As we press on into a new school year, as we move into a new phase of our church building and growth project, as you walk with Jesus, training up your children in the way they should go, as you go about your days living out His will in your life, I encourage you to guard your heart and remind it to Never Give Up…

                       ….for Jesus Never Gave Up on you.

New Things

Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

 --–Isaiah 43:19

 

We serve a Resurrection God. That means He is the God of Life and Healing and New Things. But what does that mean really? What does that mean for us as Christ-followers?

 

The word new in the Hebrew is chadash which means fresh. Don’t you love that?  Think about fresh with me for a moment: 

 

Ahhhh fresh air…fresh bread…fresh, clean laundry…fresh fruit. 

 

He is the God of your fresh, new beginning, your fresh, new life and your fresh, new things.

 

We came together, giving of our time and money and energy to Backpack Giveaway 2016 last Sunday.  We, as a church, provided an exciting new beginning to the school year for over 1000 students! We are praying that those backpacks will be a beacon of light towards a new thing for each and every recipient; that somehow amidst the gluesticks and folders and pencils, the very light of God’s newness will shine: calling, wooing and loving and true to His unchangeable nature…never letting go.

 

Back to school is a time when we buckle down, reluctantly throw off our swimsuits and flipflops and in their place, don our more serious school duds. We go to bed earlier so that we can get up earlier and perhaps make resolutions about how this year will be different. 

 

Whether you are going back to school, wishing you were or thankful that you are not, this is a wonderful chance to make this time one of renewal. Allow God to reveal to you your new thing.

 

 Maybe He wants you to establish a regular new time with him, maybe He wants you to cultivate a new relationship, or just maybe He has a new mission for you. 

 

According to the prophet Isaiah, that new thing springs up, so it shouldn’t be hard to see. Your new thing is probably right under your nose! I challenge you to listen to Him today, to look for the newness that He has for you and delight in His renewal. 

 

Trust Him in this: I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  For the world in which we live right now is as desperate for new and fresh, isn’t it? 

 

 Let’s join Him in renewing the wilderness and wasteland, and with Him, truly do a new thing…. 

What can I offer?

 

 

Have you ever, like me, asked yourself that question? Have you ever wondered what you might offer to the kingdom? 

We are gearing up for backpack giveaway this Sunday and what an exciting time it will be. I just know that the fingerprints of God are all over this thing. If you weren’t there on Wednesday evening for the packing of said backpacks, let me give you a little overview…

 

My kids and I walked in at 6:01 pm to the hub of activity in the sanctuary of the church. It had been transformed into a Backpack Filling Factory. Already the assembly line was in full swing. Grateful to see Pastor Aaron, he simply said with a distinct twinkle in his eye, “Ready to pack some bags, guys…let’s go!” And off he goes at his signature brisk and purposed beeline in the direction of the action. We struggle to keep up.

 It was most surely an overwhelming scene, there were people everywhere, some picking up empty backpacks, others zipping and stacking, and still others filling them with all the necessary goodies.

I should probably fess up. Having gone through years and years of grade school, post-graduate and graduate school, my heart still gets a little fluttery every September, when it is time to change gears, buckle down and gather my tools afresh. However, this time I didn’t get to savor for a moment the smell and feel of fresh crayons, paper or glue sticks, for I most surely would have been plowed over by the Backpack-stuffing Machine.

So, we dug in, my kids and I, (trying desperately not to hold up the line) and proceeded to do our part. Now, here is the crazy part. In about 20 minutes, we were done. Done. Completed. Finito. 1000 backpacks in twenty minutes. No, I don’t mean, me and my kids, I mean everyone. It was the most glorious thing to behold the pride and astonishment on everyone’s faces. That we had finished the race in record time and had energy to spare…But, see, this is the economy of God.

 

When He puts us on assignment, as we submit our will to His unshakeable one, He will ALWAYS empower us to do it! 

 

You can chalk this up to good organization and yes, with Pastor Aaron at the helm, it was most surely administrated expertly, but I think the more important thing was all the ‘want to’. It is something that we at Victory Hill can be really proud of. We simply have an abundance of ‘want to’ and I believe that God blesses it as we surrender it to Him!

 

As we move to go forth and bestow our love (and the backpacks) this Sunday, let us be mindful of His great economy, shall we? For we are His hands and feet extended and He will not allow His Word to return void…whatever part you play, just know that He will multiply your efforts, however humble, for the kingdom. Trust in that today!!

 

Thank you so much for all the love and support at the Book signing on Sunday, July 31st. Pastor Teague, who has been so supportive and encouraging throughout this project was so gracious to allow me to come and share this story with you and then to share my vision for Book 2, Leah's Blessing. 

We were able to give back an offering of $100.00, on behalf on your book purchases! For all of you who purchased the book and all who plan to, may the source of Jacob's Hope, Jesus Christ, bless you richly as you seek to know Him! 

Trusting God

 

 

So, it occurred to me today, reading in 2 Corinthians. Am I really trusting God? My calendar is stuffed full, family stuff, work stuff, my kids’ stuff, so full that I don’t have time some days to hear His voice. How do I know if any of this stuff is from Him if I can’t hear Him amidst the clamor of the day?

I decided today, that before I did anything else, before anyone could get my attention or take me away from it, I would sit down and listen. I would listen for the still small voice, that is always speaking, reassuring, loving us. The still small voice that is normally drowned out by all the noise of our daily grind. 

And guess what! As you might suspect, God hadn’t moved. He was right there and ready to meet with me. How can we not trust in a God like that? He, who created the world with a word, He who healed the blind, cleansed lepers and raised Lazarus from the dead. He who left His throne to be born the most humble of human births, knowing that His mission was to die the most despised of human deaths. Yes, that same One, was sitting presumably with His coffee waiting right there in the quiet place that I had left Him! Okay, okay, so the coffee might be a little bit of a stretch, Someone who never sleeps doesn’t need caffeine to wake Him up! (But aren’t you glad that He allows us to sleep and wake to its heavenly aroma?) 

This is what I discovered. Easily half of what I had on my list seemed to disappear as unnecessary as I got my priorities straight. I prayed that He would keep me focused as I completed the things that survived the cut and guess what? I focused and knocked them out like a champ! I would love to say that the day was problem-free as a result of my dedicated time in the morning, but unfortunately that is far from the truth. However, when my bustle turned into bedlam, my heart was in the right place to handle the fall-out! I have to say that this is most ‘no-lose’ deal we could possibly avail ourselves of…and yet we think that all our stuff is infinitely more important.

Yes, God was there waiting on me. God is there waiting on you. God is there waiting on you and me. Everyone. Well, more accurately, He is always there, beckoning, longing for communion with all of us. How do we know that? Remember that we are made in His image, right? Just as we long for communion with Him, He longs for communion with us. We all carry a God-shaped hole in our hearts, which, like a vacuum, seems so easily-filled with whatever comes our way-- Our jobs, our kids, our homes, our cars, our hobbies, our endless lists, the clamor of the day.

I challenge you, today, tomorrow, and the next to join me in this. Before anything else has a chance to grab or even vie for your attention. Let it be where He is. Open His Word, journal your prayers, spend time meditating on all that He is doing in your life, and then and only then tackle that to do list, trusting God.

Position---Persistence----Provision

 

How many times have you prayed for something fervently only to feel like your prayers are bouncing off the walls? --Or smacking you in the face like boomerangs? I have been there more times than I can count. 

 

I have wondered if perhaps God is sleeping during my prayer time or maybe waiting for me to articulate it in just the right way. Eventually, I tend to give up and get busy with something else and even forget what I thought was so ---fire important in the first place. And maybe, like a spoiled child who forgets what they thought they so desperately ‘needed’ when distracted, that is ok.

 

But maybe there is something right now that you simply cannot let go of; maybe there is something that your very life and well-being depends on. I challenge you to press in to God and not give up.  For it is here that we can truly hear.  For when we press in, we are forced to keep our focus squarely on Him, where it belongs! Finally at the end of ourselves, desperate enough to persist in blocking out the noise of the world and the cares of everyday life, here is where we can finally meet God.

 

See, it seems that God wants us to persist so that we can be blessed by the very process of persistence. See, I am convinced that His provision never wanes, He owns a thousand cattle on a thousand hillsides! His provision is more than ample; there is never a shortage and never a ration. But I also believe that God’s provision is reserved for those who genuinely seek and ask in all sincerity.

 

Remember, He knows your heart and your need before you even ask Him. Truthfully, He doesn’t even need to hear from you! But He longs for your persistence in His presence, just simply because He delights in your company! Stop and digest that for a minute. The very creator of the universe longs to spend time with you and with me. 

 

See, just like our human fathers love to bestow good gifts on their children, so He longs to love us and provide and bowl us over with Himself. Are you willing to assume the position, persist in His presence for His provision? I can’t think of a better way to spend my time, how ‘bout you?

 

Family Redefined

When you think of family, what do you think of? Is it a comfortable place? Or does the word family evoke feelings of pain, memories of heartache, difficulty and unrest?

 

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.   

Romans 8:14-17 

 

What a family we are part of! Do you realize how amazing our position is in Christ? 

So that means no matter great or how difficult your earthly family circumstances are, our heavenly family will never disappoint us. 

 

In a world that is devastated by fear and terror, we have no reason to fear.

In a world that is steeped in debt and poverty, we are heirs to an unlimited kingdom.

In a world that is utterly devoid of hope, we have a promise of forgiveness and eternal life.

 

We are a part of a family that is so much bigger than we are, that as believers we have a hard time even comprehending the bigness of it all.

 

We have no reason to fear, to worry or lose hope, we can walk with the confidence of princes and princesses, heirs to an eternal kingdom…an inheritance that cannot be revoked, or transferred or bankrupt.

 

Let us embrace our heritage, our family, our legacy today and realize that the God of the universe actually wants us to live in this fullness. 

 

Take some time to enjoy your position in His family today!