Tell Your Storm: BE STILL

2023 seemed to come in like a storm. 

As if the previous years had not been hard enough from both a personal stance and in the earth, this new year came in like a hornet’s nest that had just been knocked to the ground. And you know how violent hornets can be when disturbed.

Destruction buzzed furiously as it crept out of hiding.

I felt like it didn’t matter that the few years before seemed intolerable and unrealistic. This year’s relentless assaults appeared immediately and with such determination that the previous years seemed like a baby’s lullaby in comparison.

Just look around you at the disasters, the deaths, the political madness that have been shouting throughout the earth, not to mention the personal woes that may have been trying to knock on your door. I have heard them try to knock on mine.

BUT…..YES, there is a but to this story!

If ANYONE has read the stories from the Gospels, you will recall the story of Jesus sleeping in a boat during a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee, as the disciples reacted in fear.

“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”   Matthew 28:4-26

The words that seemed to slip off the page and into my spirit were: “he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

Often we talk about we have little faith and/or how we must rest during a storm. These are great principles to live by. We should rise up in faith and rest in the Lord despite what we see, despite the storms raging in our midst.

But what was highlighted to me this time, was the concept to rise up and tell the winds and the waves – (the storms) – that are ravishing our lives: BE STILL.

How can we do that?

Jesus stated in John 14:12, “I can guarantee this truth: those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing. They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.”  (GWT)

So how can we do greater things? He said we’d do greater things because when he went to the Father the Holy Spirit would come to the earth and fill his followers (and that includes you and me) with his power. (Acts 1:8)

But like Jesus we can do nothing on our own.  Jesus stated in John 5:19,20 that he could do nothing but what he sees his Father doing. He had spent a lot of quiet time, praying and learning to listen to his Father’s voice. (And we should follow that example. John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice…”)

With that in mind, each miracle of healing that Jesus performed was different. For some he only gave a word at a distance, others he touched, some he sought after, and in other circumstances people sought after him. Each event was directed by his Heavenly Father.

Like the healings, the seasons in his life differed, as well. While in the boat, during the storm, he rested. But in the garden before his crucifixion, he prayed and he asked his disciples, as they slumbered, “couldn’t you stay awake with me for an hour?”  He later suffered unimaginably on the cross, though because of that, he triumphed in victory!

There were seasons to rest, seasons to war, seasons to suffer and seasons to conquer. He perceived the times and heard the Father.

I say all this to say that there are times and seasons for everything as Solomon had expressed in Ecclesiastes . God is always on the move. He is not stagnant. He is alive and his words are alive. There are times the Lord may ask you to pray for a particular person and other times he will want you to remain quiet.

In this season of time (at least in my life) I believe the Lord is saying: “Tell the raging storms that are surrounding you: BE STILL.”

So today, I thought about the storms in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, and said, with authority: BE STILL.

A calm and a peace has followed.

I believe there is great victory on the horizon for God’s people. That is why the darkness seems to be invading and why wickedness seems to prevail and why the voices of evil are screaming so violently.

It is the last screams of the dying giants that used to mock you. It is the last scream of the lies that tormented your soul. It is the last scream of defeat and hopelessness anxiously calling your name.

Don’t be afraid of what you hear or what you see because the Lord is saying to the giants in the land: BE STILL. He is encouraging each of us to slay the giants and quiet the storms that taunt us (and the God we serve) just as David did when he slayed Goliath. God has given each of us the authority in HIM to rise up in prayer and declare to the giants and say to the storms that rage war against our souls: BE STILL!

What are your storms? Rise up and tell your storms: BE STILL!

Storms will come
They can be strong and fierce
They scream and twirl
And like a sword, they can pierce

Where can you find freedom
From a storm that rages?
Is there a hidden place
From the war it wages?

There is a place of rest
In the one who spoke peace
Who with words of authority
Made that violent storm cease.

I pray for peace in your midst
During the storms you may face
But also for great victory
So stillness can take its place.

Be still and know that HE is God. God bless.

The Lady Behind the Door

I am not sure of the year, but the event echoes in my mind. It was a warm day under the hot Nevada sun. I had heard about a home Bible study group that was in a small senior apartment complex in the southern part of Henderson, Nevada. I attended a large church in Vegas and thought it would be great to get into a smaller group to actually form relationships with other people, instead of just being part of an unknown crowd.

So, I typed in the address that I had found on the website, into my cell phone’s GPS. I found the apartment complex easy enough and parked in one of the many spaces available. I had the number of the building and of the apartment, but once I walked into the courtyard, I wasn’t clear which building was which.  I figured I would simply knock on a door with the same number in hopes that I was at the correct building.

An elderly lady came to the door. I asked her if this was the apartment that was hosting a Bible study. When she told me it wasn’t, I thanked her and began to turn around to continue my search. But instead, the frail old lady looking back at me through the crack in the door asked if I could please come in and help her. She had wanted to watch a movie but didn’t know how to work her remote, nor was she sure which remote went to which TV or DVD or VCR player.

I hesitated because I was already late but couldn’t ignore the pleading in her eyes. She pulled the door  wide open to welcome me into her home.  As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness of her home from the bright sun outside, I saw her despair. I cautiously walked behind her as she led me into her tiny studio apartment. In that one-room home was a small kitchen on one side and a mattress on the floor on the other side with one lone chair. It was positioned in front of two old CRT television sets, each sitting on separate portable metal stands. One had a VCR player connected to it and the other had a DVD player connected to it. And cluttered on all the open floor space was jumbled stacks and stacks and stacks of movies, some were VHS movies while others were DVDs.

She told me she had wanted to watch a particular movie but wasn’t sure which remote went to which TV and/or which video system. I am not real savvy but thought I could try to help her. She mentioned that she was going to have someone come by but wasn’t sure when they would be there. And so, I set my purse and my bible on the floor and tried to figure it out for her. After several minutes it was all sorted out and she thanked me and then wanted to just talk. I listened to her stories and found out that in her younger years she had actually been a cook for a time for BB King. She proudly pointed to a lone picture of the singer on the otherwise empty walls.

We chit chatted a bit more as she walked me the few steps back to the front door. Because I don’t believe there is ever a coincidence in a believer’s’ life, I asked her if she knew Jesus and if she wanted prayer. She said yes to both. So, in the small dark studio apartment we prayed together. Tears streamed down her cheeks. We hugged before she left, and she asked if I could stop by again sometime. I nodded in agreement, thinking I probably would be here again anyway.

Surprisingly as I turned around, after she closed the door behind me, I saw the number of the apartment I had been searching for in the beginning.

I thought I would return the next time I came to the Bible study. And I want to proudly say, “I did return, and we became close friends”.  Wasn’t this a “God ordained meeting”? But instead, I have to report that I never did go back. The meeting moved locations and busyness took my time from me. After several months I forgot and eventually moved away. Sometimes it really bothers me. How could I not return? How could I forget a lonely person that longed for companionship? I can only hope and pray that God heard her heart, and though I know God forgives me I was not the blessed person to meet her need.

Fast forward several years later to December 2022 and several states north. I am attending a small church in the great northwest and have had the opportunity to create lasting friendships. From those friendships I was invited to a Christmas painting party. I love to paint, especially with friends. It sounded marvelous. One of those friends offered to give me a ride. She had been to the house before, so I gladly accepted.

The snow blanketed the roads, so it was difficult to find parking. She remembered though that there was an open parking lot near the home that was hosting the party. That was convenient. So, we parked and marched through the heavy drifting snow. We were coming in a bit late, so instead of knocking on the door we thought we would just let ourselves into the home.

My friend went ahead of me and announced our presence. Except there was no party there. There were no people. Were they in the back of the house? And then we heard a lady frantically asking who was in her home.

“Oh no,” my friend said frantically, “this isn’t the right house!”

I was hysterical. Part of me was laughing uncontrollably. The other part was anxious, and I pushed my way in front of my friend running towards the front door, loudly whispering behind me, “hurry”!

She, on the other hand, was trying to apologize and explain our plight. I hurried out the front door and hopped like a bunny through the deep snow, which I had previously dredged through, back to the parking lot and back to the safety of her car.  My friend was trailing behind me at a slower pace. I was still laughing uncontrollably when I opened her passenger car door and ducked under the dash. We could hear the owner of the house holler from her front door,

 “Are you the people who were in my house?”

My friend apologized and said she thought it belonged to a friend and she was sorry.

We did eventually find the house, which was only a few houses over. After the party my friend thought it would be nice to bring over some cookies and apologize again. I was not in agreement but followed behind her. My thought, let bygones be bygones.  

We knocked this time and an elderly lady, in her pjs and pulling an oxygen tank behind her opened the door. As my friend apologized again offering her a peace-offering of cookies she also asked if she knew Jesus. The lady said she did, but she had to stay at home these days because of her health and the weather. She watched on TV or online but didn’t have many visitors. I suddenly remembered that tiny frail woman in Nevada who longed for companionship, who was deeply touched when I prayed for her.

My aloofness turned into compassionate boldness. This was my opportunity to pray.  After getting her permission, I came into her home (invited). I held her hand as I began to pray. This was an individual whom God loves and did not forget but I felt the weight of loneliness surround her. Tears filled her lonely eyes, and she thanked us.

What is the takeaway from this? For me there are many things.

  1. There are a lot of people in this world…a lot of people going through heartaches. I hope to return and visit this lady, and that is our plan. We NEED one another. Look for opportunities to spread hope.
  2. Be ready in season and out as found in 2 Timothy 4:2 ” Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” (NIV)
  3. When or if you make a mistake, ask for forgiveness and move on. I would have loved to return to the lady at the door in Nevada. But, though I didn’t I believe God still comforted her, but I missed out on the blessing.
  4. 1 Corinthians 1:27 sure comes in play. “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” (NLT) Both of us looked so foolish but in the end the lady was blessed.

Know this: If he can use me, he sure can use you. Be ready.

Happy 2023.

God Bless.

God Hears

I sat quietly alone on my loveseat with the gas fireplace roaring beside me. Though the TV was on, it was set to mute as I considered my next move. I glanced at my injured foot which was now in a “boot” resting on the coffee table in front of me. I sighed. No one else was home. I just wanted something cold to drink but knew how difficult it would be to hobble with my crutches into the kitchen and return with a cold satisfying drink.

So, my dilemma, as simply as it was: Should I relax my newly broken foot or did I really need a refreshing drink. To myself, yet out loud, I said in despair, “there is no one here to help me”.

Immediately my mind raced to the story of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. It is found in the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John. Apparently the sick, the lame and the blind would sit by a pool of water. It was said to have had healing powers when it was stirred – some translations state that it was stirred by angels.

Some scholars believe the pools were at a pagan shrine or temple honoring the Greek god or demigod Asclepius, the god of medicine or medicinal powers. It was said that the healing snakes stirred the waters. And the scholars contribute the medicinal powers and stirring of the water from bubbles that arose from the mineral springs. Others debunk this theory.  Regardless, a man sat by this pool of water for 38 years with no one to help him get in. He must have come to a place of despair.

It reads like this from the NIV translation:

Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:1-9

What I found interesting about this story is that Jesus walked into the midst of a pagan shrine (if that was the case) not caring about the “protocol” of the day. According to scripture he only approached one individual and healed him, on the Sabbath mind you, which was also against Jewish tradition.

He heard the man’s heart even though the man never asked the Lord to help him. We have heard other stories where people called out to the Lord, but not in this circumstance.

God’s mercy and compassion for those in need, for those who cry out from their heart, is amazing.

It made me realize that he hears, even when we don’t speak. He hears even if an individual doesn’t realize who they are calling upon.

I don’t care if you are:

in a prison cell
amid a war-torn country
in a COVID ward
on center stage
looking in the wrong direction for help
rich and famous
poor and alone
amongst friends
amongst enemies
feeling lost
in a church family
in a cubical
homebound
living on the street
a drug addict
hopeless
or seem to have it together…. God hears the heart that cries to him.

Where do you find yourself today? What is your situation?

I am telling you DO NOT GIVE UP. DO NOT LOSE HEART. GOD HEARS!

Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call, I will answer. While they are still speaking, I will hear.” (NIV)

Psalm 139 explains that he knows everything about you and cares. He knew you before you did. And Romans 8 states that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.

What are you waiting for? What can you lose?

Dear Lord, Hear those who are crying from their hearts, those in despair, those who are in need and even those who do not realize yet that they need you. Amen

By the way: I was able to grab that drink. I just had to guzzle it right there at the refrigerator. And then I hobbled on my crutches back to the loveseat to rest my foot on the coffee table.  And soon my family returned home. I am grateful that I have something to drink, a couch to sit on in a warm house, and for those who are caring for me, as I heal.

I am mostly grateful for God who will never leave or forsake me, who took the time to go out of his way to heal a paralyzed man thousands of years ago when he had no one to help him. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and so I am grateful that he continues to heal today.

Remember: He cares about every detail of your life…and loves you.

God bless.

the Challenge

I was in a corridor with three other people. I didn’t recognize them nor was I aware of their relationship to me. I just knew I trusted them. We peered through an opening from the darkened corridor where we were hidden. We saw what appeared to look like the steps of a courthouse. A large crowd had gathered. The crowd comprised of people who were protesting for their freedom that they once took for granted.

They shook their hands in the air demanding freedom. The leaders (people in power) stood on the platform of the steps, towards the protestors, trying to calm down the frustration that the people were expressing. I wondered why we were not amongst them. But the four of us just listened staying in our hiding place. Suddenly we realized that the loud protesting had quieted. And individuals in the crowd were shaking hands with the leaders, one at a time. And then one by one the protesters departed with contentment in their eyes and a smile on their face. We then realized that the leaders were making deals with each person, promising them something they wanted. The people traded their freedom, traded their outrage, traded their stand for what was right for some type of personal promise. They were willing to compromise.

It was then that the four of us looked at one another knowing we had seen enough and it was time to leave. One of the people told us to follow him. He knew the way to go. We followed him back through the narrow corridor.

And then I woke.

The thought that came to my mind: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13

Compromise has swept the hearts of many. It seems easier at times to compromise than to stand up for what is right. It is hard to fight against the flow. It is hard to walk upstream. It is much easier to just lay back and float downstream on a nice floatie. Is that what has been happening to those who once stood for righteousness? Have they given it up for the comfort of floating downstream?

The word that kept coming to my mind was: challenge. It is challenging to be different from the mainstream. I do believe that many are taking up the challenge. Our lives have been rocked. We have not been allowed the comfort of floating downstream. Instead many are rising up and walking against the grain.

2020 has given us a reason to get out of our comfort zones and stand. This year may have been challenging to be positive in the midst of the news of rioters, in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of schools being closed, churches being closed, businesses going under, people losing everything they worked so diligently to attain. It would seem that hate and lies are dominating the airwaves and the stores, the workplace and the streets; our entire lives.

There has always been challenges, even following the Lord or maybe because we chose to follow him.

Paul faced challenges and said as much in 2 Corinthians 4:8,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

He knew his choice to follow his Lord would take exercising his spiritual muscles. But when he left this world, he left fighting the good fight. He knew that it was worth it, not just in this life, but especially in the life to come. He had gotten to know his Lord on such a personal basis that he was willing to give up all that he was, for the one that loved him above all. He was willing to be persecuted so others would know the truth, the freedom and the joy he experienced. Jesus had turned his world upside down! And in a positive way. He had learned the truth and that truth filled every fiber of his being, in spite of the hard circumstances.

Jesus also tasted what it was like to go against the flow. He knew what it was like to walk upstream in a world that was filled with lies and darkness. He still healed the sick and still set people free, in spite of attacks, not only from the world system, but also from the religious system.

He took up the challenge and set his face like a flint. He was determined that no matter how hard things got, no matter who was with him, he would accomplish what he set out to do; because he loved his Father. And because he loved each of us, as well. He was willing to take up the challenge that his heavenly Father had given him.

He kept his eyes on the joy that was awaiting him, so that he was able to endure the cross despite the ridicule, humiliation, excruciating pain and loneliness so that we, too, may experience the goodness of the Lord. (Hebrews 12:2)

He defeated the lies of the enemy on the cross so we can be free.

Things have been difficult this year. Personally I have fought challenges, as well. I have surrendered my will and my heart to my Lord many times this year. The Lord was challenging me: Do you trust me?

I choose to take up that challenge and trust him. I choose to take up the challenge and obey him, standing up for what the Bible teaches. Many do not understand that choice and even many who call themselves Christians don’t understand. They want their feet in both worlds, compromising. They are like those in my dream who compromised for the promise that was given to them by the world. They have closed their eyes to God’s truth and have accepted watered down truth.

I pray that the Lord will keep me from compromising with this world, that I will stay on the straight and narrow path. I have compromised in my past and it did not satisfy. I never want to return to that life. I know that living for Christ is worth it in this life and also in the one after.

This is what the Lord is challenging me to do:

I challenge you to trust me…more and more each day,
To trust me in this hour and live out what you say.

I challenge you to read MY WORD and hide it in your heart
To keep it fresh in your soul, so your love for me won’t part

I challenge you to stay in truth, the truth that comes from me
Don’t compromise with those that sin. They are blind and cannot see.

I challenge you to seek MY LOVE, a love undefiled and pure.
Not the fake love that roams the land. It is muddy and unclear.

I challenge you to live in worship. You will never be the same.
It will bring freedom into your life. Chains will break in Jesus name.

I challenge you to walk in boldness with MY holy fire.
Sometimes that means to pray, than watch what will transpire.

I challenge you to live the purpose that runs throughout your blood.
Get READY! My Glory is coming to the earth like a rushing flood.

I challenge you to quiet your heart so you can hear my voice.
Will you let me lead you? I’m giving you a choice.

So I responded: Lord help me. Give me your wisdom and your grace.
Help me to be determined to not just run, but run to win the race.

What is the Lord challenging you to do? These are precarious and exciting times. God is on the move and he would like to have you join him. His glory is about to blow through the world. Are you ready? Do you want to be a part of what God is doing? Are you willing to walk through the narrow gate? You will look different than the world. But the joy that is set before you will outweigh the trials.

GOD IS GOOD…….ALWAYS!

Will you accept the challenge?

It is well.

I could hear the sound of his heartbeat and the thunder of his voice echoing as I laid my head on his chest. Nothing mattered. I was in good hands. I was safe and secure. And so, I rested in his arms unafraid, without worry; filled with peace.

I must have been 3, 4 or 5 years of age at that specific time. Whatever age I was, that incident stuck with me. There were times that my parents would be visiting friends past my sister’s and my bedtime. I would fall asleep on the couch. Before leaving, my dad would pick me up and continue visiting while I was in his arms. As I lay my head on his chest his heartbeat and voice soothed me.

Today the Lord brought this memory back to my mind. He reminded me that He is my Father. I can rest in him as he wraps his arms around me. I like how the Passion Bible translates Psalm 91:4.

“His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm” Ps 91: 4.

I can lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat and his gentle yet thundering voice guiding my steps. But I cannot do that unless I spend time quieting my thoughts so I can listen to his voice with my heart.

During these times, more than ever, we must be able to hear the heartbeat of the Lord. We must be able to hear his voice thundering in our souls, so we can heed his leading.

“These are trying times.”

I have heard that statement and read it in different places on websites or store signs.

There are riots, lies, fear and anger that fill the airwaves, social media, stores, the workplace, and the streets. Hardened criminals are being released, innocent people are being harassed and our economic society is being squashed. This is not the land I remember as a child. This is not the land that people traveled to searching for a better opportunity, looking for refuge and hope. Instead it has become filled with unrighteousness, selfishness, jealousy, and controversy.

I, for one did not see this coming. Thankfully, God knew it in the beginning of time. He is taking this opportunity to teach us to trust him and prepare the hearts of the lost.

Learning to trust him with our personal lives is just as important as learning to trust him for our society at large.

Even our best made plans can take twists that we do not expect. It is there that we could begin to lose hope. Perhaps you lost a loved one, a job or a dream and your hope has begun to fall and wither away like leaves in an autumn wind.

The Lord spoke to my heart recently, “Do you love me even when your plans are not what you expected? Do you love me even when you thought things would be different than what you see? Do you? Do you trust me when the land you are standing on gives way, literally and socially and economically? Do you trust me? Can you rest?”

As I was driving to work the Lord put the song, “It Is Well With My Soul” on my heart. I listened to it everyday on my way to work for quite some time and wept as I began to understand what the Lord was asking. I realized that my circumstances personally and the circumstances of our great land cannot and should not dictate our hope or peace.

I have shared the song, “It is Well with my Soul” before on this blog. But if you are not familiar with the story behind that song let me share a short synopsis. In the 1870s Horatio Spafford and his wife had lost their young son to pneumonia while living in Chicago. He sent his wife and four daughters back to Europe with intentions to follow shortly. The ship he sent them on sunk and their four remaining children perished. Traveling the same route back to Europe and viewing the spot where the waters unforgivingly took his children’s lives, he wrote the lyrics to the song, “It is Well With My Soul”

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billow roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I don’t even understand that kind of tragedy. But was I willing to surrender my life, my loved ones, my dreams, and my plans to Him and completely trust him? Could I really say, “whatever my lot, it is well with my soul?

I go back to the image of me resting in the arms of my father when I was a little child. I remember that peace and security. Our heavenly Father longs for each of us to trust him, to rest in him, to lay our heads on his chest and to hear his dreams for our lives. He longs to share his heartbeat for this world. He has not lost hope. His heart beats for you. His heart beats for the lost. There are still souls to win.

Can you hear his heartbeat? Can you hear his voice thunder from his chest telling you, “I love you. You are in my arms. Trust ME.”

Listen.

Psalm 91:1-2
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will REST in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I TRUST.”

God Bless

COVID-19

As I was thinking about the virus that has been sweeping the world, one nation at a time, the first thought that came to me was the scene in the Old Testament of a pole with a snake on it. I’m not sure why but that scene has not left my mind.

“But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.  The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So, Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21: 4-8 (NIV)

According to https://biblestudentdaily.com bronze represents human nature. The Lord had Moses make a bronze snake (snake representing sin) on the pole. All that looked on it would not die from the poisonous snake bites that the Lord had sent because of their sin of speaking against Him. It wasn’t that the bronze snake itself, had any power, but God saw the repentant and obedient hearts. Faith rose up in the hearts of the people and healing and life sprung from that.

Even Jesus used the example of the serpent on the pole as he spoke about himself. He said in John 3:14, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (NIV)

He spoke of how he would die. Anyone that looks on him and BELIEVES will be saved from eternal death. I believe John 3:16 must be one of the most popular verses of all time.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES on him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

He was sent to the cross to save us because we sinned against the Lord. He came to bring life out of death.

Then in Numbers 16 a plague came to the children of Israel again because they grumbled and opposed Moses and even God who was leading him. This time the Lord told Moses to direct Aaron to take his censor (which I might add was also made of bronze) and put incense in it along with burning coals from the altar and run into the midst of the assembly to make atonement for the people so the plague would stop. Aaron did as he was instructed and stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped. But 14,700 died.

You might ask. What does this have to do with this virus that is creeping across the nations? This was thousands of years ago. Is the Lord sending this plague because of sin and unbelief? I am NOT saying that. It would be very dangerous for me to make that assumption.

BUT what I am saying is that the Lord CAN and will stop this virus IF we call upon him! There is power in prayer. There is power in coming before the God of creation and calling on him to intervene.

When the plagues hit Egypt, it was the blood of a sacrificed lamb that was posted on the doorway of each Israelite household that signaled the angel of death to pass over them. No one in that household would die.

There is so much more power in the blood of the LAMB. The blood that Jesus shed. I do not think we understand the power of the blood of Christ. It was by his stripes that we can be healed.

As the old hymn goes,
“There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb.
There is power, power, wonder-working power in the Precious blood of the Lamb.”

I had a dream years ago that a lion was roaring in the forest. He was sniffing for people to devour. I knew my children were in that forest. I prayed that the Lord would cover them by his blood. I saw the lion come right up to them, sniffing, but he could not smell them, nor see them, because of the blood of Jesus.

It reminded me of the verse found in 1 Peter 5:8. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”

So, what is the takeaway?

  1. Run to the Lord. Look to him, like the Israelites looked at the snake on a pole. He is your protector. He is your deliverer. He is your savior. He will heal you. NONE of this is catching him off guard one single minute. He sees it all.
  2. There is POWER in prayer. There is POWER in the blood of Jesus. Believe it and stand firm in prayer. Pray for your family, your neighbor, your city and nation. And if there is sin: repent.
  3. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) So rest in him. Trust him. He has you covered.

ABOVE ALL remember this scripture:

 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1 (NLT)

Seasons of Life

There are seasons in life.

Seasons are demonstrated throughout nature. We experience winter, spring, summer and fall. But there are also rainy seasons, some with storms and tornados or monsoons. There are dry, hot seasons. In different parts of the world there are other kinds of seasons that may not be familiar to everyone. As a child in West Africa we experienced the bugabug season, where there would be so many of the insects that the ground was carpeted with them. In Alaska we had mosquito season, especially in the summer around tall grass and water. There is hunting and fishing season. There is planting and harvesting season. We even have football season, Christmas season etc.…

In other words, there are a lot of seasons in our lives. And then there is the season OF life. First you experience childhood, then the teen years, and young adult. Then perhaps you will experience the season of being a parent or grandparent and finally retirement.

Along with those are joyous times and painful ones, and then some that just don’t make sense.

I don’t know what you may be going through, at the moment, but I can guarantee that you will experience many of these along life’s journey.

Currently I am in a different season than I have walked through in some time. I don’t have the extra time to write as much as I would like, nor be involved in ministry, nor spend as much time with many family members, as I once have had in the past.

As I was contemplating this, I felt like the Lord spoke these words into my heart.

“Lean not into your own understanding.”

That made sense to me because I was trying to understand. I like to analyze and map things out and for some reason my path didn’t make sense to me. Does that make sense? So, taking away the pressure of life making sense, I can simply trust God.

That makes a lot of sense!

The “not leaning on your own understanding” statement is found in Proverbs 3. In fact, all of Proverbs 3 is good and encouraging and worth re-reading.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5&6 (NIV)

So, this season, is a season of trusting the Lord to lead me. I don’t have to figure it out. I am going to rest in the Lord. I am going to just submit myself to him. I trust the Lord with my family. I trust the Lord with my finances. I trust the Lord with my heart, and with my future. I trust that he will direct my path. I even trust the Lord for my country. I trust that God hears our prayers and I rest in that.

I know many people have experienced heartache and grief and perhaps disappointment. We have all walked through something that we don’t understand.

All I can say is:

PRAY
TRUST
REST

Rest in the God of creation who loves you more than one could possibly understand. Encourage those around you with this hope, this truth. He wants to direct your path and give you peace and perhaps stretch your faith a bit. His ways are always better and a lot higher than ours.

And if you are finding yourself in a difficult season in life remember, God promised that he would turn it around for your benefit. That is just the kind of God he is. Read Romans 8:28. Do your own research throughout his word. He is faithful.

Though I am currently not blogging as much as I would like, I will be on here as much as I can.

And in the meantime: I will TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL MY HEART. He will direct my path.

He will also direct yours as you submit yourself to him. Trust him.

God bless you in whatever season you are walking in today.

Will You Dance With Me?

I saw a post the other day about dancing with the one you love. And suddenly I felt like the Lord said to me, “Will you dance with me?”

I thought that was strange and different.

Would I dance with him? What does that even look like?

Would I allow him to take me to a place where my heart does not look at the circumstances? Could I just look into my Lord’s eyes and see nothing else that swirls around my world? Could I spend quiet time with him and relax and enjoy the music that comes from his heart as I follow his lead?

“Will you dance with me?” he asked.

There were many seasons of victory when his children danced. I think of Miriam and the other women who danced victoriously after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. The Egyptians, who were in a mad chase close behind them, were determined to kill all of them. Instead they drowned and fell to the bottom of the sea. Afterwards praise and worship before the Lord filled the sojourners hearts as they worshiped the Lord in dance and song.

“Then Miriam, the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.” Exodus 15:20 (NLV)

What about King David? This man, known for having a heart after the Lord, would often dance before his Lord. His heart was filled with gladness. He couldn’t dance enough before the God who rescued him time after time! God had been faithful to deliver him from a lion, a bear and from Goliath, the arrogant giant of a man. The Lord gave him victory on the battlefield over and over. He worshiped the God who forgave him for making a choice to sin and took him back as his own. He was in love with his Lord and his worship showed it!

Those dances were part of worshiping the Lord. What does it mean though, to dance with the Lord? The key word: “with”.

To dance as a unit takes a lot of time, a lot of practice. It takes getting to know your partner so intimately that you can flow as one, each hearing the rhythm of the music, yet stepping in unison. It takes learning the steps together and already knowing what your partner will do, trusting his every move. Your eyes become connected, as does your heart.

When one of my children was very young, a neighbor dog ripped open his leg with his sharp teeth. We rushed him to the emergency room where they had to stitch up the wound. The doctor told me to look into my son’s eyes and distract him so they could insert a shot into the wound to numb his leg. I got as close to him as I could, eye to eye, speaking gently and confidently to him. He never took his eyes off me and was able to endure the pain.

That is what Jesus wants for us. He wants us to keep our eyes on him, always!

The world around us may seem to be growing darker. But as we keep our eyes on him, all we see is his glory. That is what Peter experienced when he walked on the stormy waters towards his Lord. If he kept his eyes on Jesus, instead of the storm, he could walk on the water. (Matthew 14:22-23)

The Lord wants us to keep our eyes on him. He wants us to focus on him instead of the storms in our lives. He wants us to live in peace and hear the rhythm of his heartbeat.

If I am to be his dance partner, I must know him more deeply. I must learn to instinctively know his moves; keeping my eyes focused on him so I can follow his lead. And when he throws me into the air, I have to trust that he will catch me, as we have done throughout our time practicing together.

It takes dance partners time, practicing over and over, until they have learned to dance in harmony.

Those words came back to me. “Will you dance with me?”

My reply:

“Will I take the time to get to know you? Will I learn to follow your lead and the steps you have already prepared for me? Will I listen intently to the music that vibrates from your heartbeat into mine? Will I learn to keep my eyes on yours, trusting you wherever you lead me?

Will I spend time with you so we can learn to dance as one?”

My answer: “YES!”

What will your answer be?

The Lord asks, “Will you dance with me?”

Following his path

The ferocious wind is howling like a hungry wolf. It picks up what it wants as it races through my life. All that I thought was valuable is being lifted into its merciless vortex and speeding violently in circles around me. I grasp at items in frantic despair.

Then, suddenly all is quiet again. Nothing fills the void of quietness. Nothing fills the void of emptiness. All I see is utter darkness. The things that swirled around me have disappeared. Loneliness takes their place.

I hear a voice say, “Come this way.”  I turn towards the voice and squint, hoping my eyes can focus in the darkness so I can get a glimpse of who might be calling out to me. From another direction a new voice is heard from the depth. Its loud demanding voice pleads for my attention. “No, this way is the best. Follow this path.”

I struggle to know what I should do. Several voices join the plea. Though they seem to be growing louder, the voice I hear clearly is not heard with my ears. It is heard with my heart. I know the voice. I have heard it before many times. This voice is soft, yet vibrates throughout my entire being. This voice speaks with authority but is consumed with peace. I choose to follow the voice inside of me that I have grown to know and love.

It is the voice of my Lord.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

As soon as I take a step in the direction he is guiding me, a light shines on my feet. I slowly see where I am going, one step at a time. I notice that I am on a path that has not been well-traveled. There are dips and bumps but the light shines bright enough so that I can get a good footing. A peaceful sound, almost like the heartbeat of music vibrates from the light, as if it is alive. Though the other voices are relentless they soon begin to fade into the darkness behind me, as do my cares and anxieties. I know in my heart that if I continue on this path, things will work out for my good.

A thought flickers in my mind then travels to my heart.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6″ (NKJV)

I trust you Lord, ” I think to myself. And then I say it out loud with bold confidence, “I TRUST YOU LORD!”

And hence I keep following Him though I don’t always see the rainbows nor smell the roses. I walk in His peace, regardless of distractions that try to encourage me otherwise. I walk by faith.

This is a synopsis of my walk with my Lord. It is definately an adventure, as is your journey with Him, I am sure.

treasure map

Trust is like a treasure map. As you follow it, you will eventually find God’s purpose for your life.  I trust that the Lord has called me onto this path I am currently traveling . He is the one that has opened doors that no one could open. He has also shut the doors that were wide with wonder, but not filled with wisdom.

Why? Because he loves me.

It is amazing what he is doing in my life! I don’t always see his hand at work directly in front of me. But I always see it when I look behind me. I see the miracles from my past which confirms to me that he is working in my future.

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

There are many voices in each of our lives that call out to us with soothing tones. They are not always bad, though they can become distractions, and not always the best choice for our lives.” Come this way and follow me,” they taunt.  The distractions simply keep our eyes off of the Lord of our salvation and can fill our minds with clutter that carry confusion.

That is when we have to close our eyes and focus on the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Everything else…and I mean EVERYTHING else, even the blessings and good things we do, such as helping the poor, must NOT be our MAIN purpose and goal. Being good alone, though it is a good thing, CANNOT save anyone. Even that can distract us from God’s purpose. He desires a relationship with each of us.

That is why the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 (NIV)

Jesus explains:

“Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name, drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never KNEW you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV)

Not all endings are going to be happy, especially if we are determined to follow our own path. But even when we follow the Lord’s leading we will still need to utilize trust. One of my grandsons experienced that this summer.

I had the opportunity to take a couple of my grandkids to a theme park. One of my grandsons suddenly got filled with fear as we got closer to the front of the line of a rollercoaster. He wanted to back out. But I kept reassuring him that he would have fun.

So the brave (well not so brave) child got in the seat next to me. The person controlling the ride overheard us talking. She asked him if he was sure he wanted to go. I gave her the thumbs up.  I had never been on this particular ride but it definitely didn’t look as frightening as the one we had just ridden. I told him that there was only one big drop, the rest were little dips, at least that is how it appeared in the description.20180731_141155.jpg

Well, to my amazement those “little dips” were not as little as I thought. My poor grandson looked straight ahead and without any other visible emotions squeezed tightly onto the bar that held us in the seat.  With each drop he said in a monotone voice, “Nana, I thought there was only one drop.” He continued saying this statement several more times as we went down one “dip” after another.  A couple minutes later as the coaster cars pulled up at the end of the ride the girl who spoke with us earlier asked if he liked the ride. He said, with a straight face and a lot of pride, “I didn’t scream one time.”

He was so proud of himself, as was I.

Sometimes trust may mean that all you can do is hold on. But you don’t have to scream. You can hold on to the words of the Lord. You can hold to his promises and trust him. You can sit with someone who will endure the trials along side of you and encourage you all the way. And when that adventurous chapter comes to a close you can look at the operator and say. “I didn’t scream one time.”

The winds may blow, things may be stripped from your hands, voices may try to distract you, darkness and loneliness may encompass you, and your ride might be pretty wild. But remember what Paul said to the Philippians.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you WILL complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

Be at rest. He is holding you. Trust his voice.

TRUST HIM.

 

The Eye of the Storm

Photo Courtesy - Morris Goen / Palestine Hearal-Press

Photo Courtesy – Palestine Herald-Press Morris Goen

 

I woke up with these words on my mind, “you are in the eye of the hurricane”.   I know that there is a lot of craziness going on in our world and a lot of turmoil. And there are times lately that I have felt I was in a storm, but as I opened my eyes to the new day peace swept through my being.

The eye of the hurricane appears very peaceful, so much so that it can deceive a person into believing all is well, and the storm has passed. Unfortunately the backside of the storm is just behind the deceitful peace.  If a person goes out into the elements without being aware that the storm is not over, they can get broadsided.

I enjoy the Weather channel and watching storm chasing shows. It is amazing how extremely powerful weather systems and nature itself, can be. During a particular weather show the narrator was sharing his adventures via video during a ferocious hurricane.  The winds were horrendous and they were getting quit concerned about their location. Soon the “eye of the hurricane” reached them. It was during that time that he and his crew decided to take cover in a safer location. They were glad they did. When the backside of the hurricane hit they continued to video tape the area where they were originally standing and it was destroyed by the winds.

Have you ever personally encountered a tornado or hurricane? We were hit by a tornado in the fall of 1987 when we lived in Texas.

My family and I just left a restaurant on a warm fall Sunday afternoon. Walking to our car we noticed that the sky had sort of green haze and an ominous quiet filled the atmosphere. Today I would have been more aware that those signs can proceed a tornado.  Then I wasn’t. We casually got into our car oblivious to the impending doom that was approaching our town. One of our sons went home with some friends while we drove out of town to check out a piece of property.

We didn’t get too far down the road when we were caught in an unimaginable hail storm. We had to pull over because we couldn’t see in front of us. Quickly we decided to turn around and head back home. As we entered town we approached a nightmare.  It looked like the town had just been bombed. Semi-trucks had fallen onto their sides, a lumber yard was destroyed and wood was scattered for miles. Gas stations were obliverated and a church was demolished, as was part of the elementary school, a motel and several businesses. Debris was scattered in yards and in the streets. Houses were pulled off of their foundations. Many houses that still stood had no roofs. I heard that the tornado traveled 4 miles and was 1/2 mile wide. I was in shock — what happened?

Of course the main thing on my mind was my son’s well-being. We headed in that direction. The subdivision was thrashed. The national guard was already at work helping people and was not letting anyone enter the area. After I frantically explained that our son was in the neighborhood and probably looked like a crazed woman who was out-of-control, the guard let us pass.  I was overwhelmed with relief when I saw that our friend’s house was still standing in the midst of the debris. My 6 year-old son ran out of the house and jumped into my waiting arms.

We have all seen the images on the news of the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. It is devastating. Someone told me a couple of years ago that there was a tornado warning in their area. They were advised to seek shelter as best as possible. She watched the news after the tornado devastated a neighborhood. A woman said in the interview, “There was no warning. This hit us out of no where.”

The individual telling me the story knew that they were warned over and over regarding the intensity of the storm that was approaching.  A thought suddenly entered her mind, “There has been warnings for over 2000 years regarding the return of Christ. But people ignore it.”

Those of us that are looking for Christ’s return will not be caught off guard. But those who think that God is slow or that they have heard this over and over and it hasn’t happened or simply think it is a hoax, will be surprised and say as the woman did in the interview. “There was no warning.”

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NLT) 

Perhaps the time it has taken for our Lord to return is for your benefit or for those you love. Peter writes, “Think of our Lord’s patience as an opportunity for us to be saved.” 
Peter 3:15a (GWT)

But there are other storms in our lives that catch us off guard and hit with such intense power that it can be devastating! Other people may not see the storm that you are walking through. What if someone we love dies, we lose our job, we are dealing with an illness or are emotionally hurt by those we trust? Or perhaps things just do not go as planned. Will we be prepared for the storms that hit our lives?

My question: will I be prepared?

I thought about that question when I heard the words, “you are in the eye of a hurricane”.  What do I do to prepare for the backside of the storm or for other storms that are sure to come? What can I do while I am sitting in the “eye of the storm” while there is peace?

I can only run towards safety and hide in a shelter. Where is that hidding place? Where is that shelter? Many places in the Book of Psalms states that the Lord is our shelter, our refuge and our hiding place.

Being hidden with him is walking in the will of our Lord. In his will there is safety and peace in the midst of the storm. It is taking time to know him through reading of his Word, through spending time to talk with him in prayer, through listening to words of hope from other believers and rubbing shoulders with those who speak life into our lives. In that place I am prepared for any storm that may come.

I suddenly realized what the Lord was saying. HE IS THE EYE IN THE HURRICANE.  He was encouraging me. I have found that place of safety and peace BECAUSE I am already seated with him. (Ephesians 2:6)

What a fantastic thought!

We can experience peace though the winds are howling and the mountains give way. We can experience peace though the world is crashing down around us. HE is our EYE in the storm. HE is our PEACE.

Shortly after hearing those words, “you are in the eye of the hurricane,” I heard the song, “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.  The Lord promises to never leave us. He will walk WITH us through many storms. I believe there may be stronger storms coming in the days ahead. NOW is the time to prepare our hearts. We do not know what our futures may hold but I rest in him.

Do not be discouraged or afraid because the Lord has your back and the backside of the storm. He IS in control. He is the EYE of your storm.

This is the first few lines to the song. Click the link to hear it in its entirety. It is beautiful. God bless each of you.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm