Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Looking Back/ Moving Forward

This week we’ve been enjoying a visit from my father.  He lives in Virginia where he works full-time as a hospice chaplain, so we don’t get to see him very often.  More than a few years ago, he and my mom packed up their little girls and moved to Fort Worth from central Florida for my dad to attend Southwestern Seminary.  On Monday, we decided to take a nostalgic trip to look at the campus and snap one more picture in front of the little apartment building that was our first home in Texas.  As we drove around, my dad recounted for us the story of how  they were given the president’s special suite on campus to spend the night, prompting one administrative assistant to ask, “Who are you?” assuming they must be vip’s.  My dad told her, “We’re just God’s kids.”  My sister and I have our own faith-building memory of praying all the way to Texas for bunk beds and being ecstatic when we entered our tiny new bedroom and found a set. 
These are stories I remember hearing over and over growing up.  They were part of our own version of Psalm 136, which recounts God’s faithfulness to Israel and repeatedly affirms the truth that His love endures forever.  We need to take the time to remember and tell each other about the epic faithfulness our Father God has shown us.  Remembering how good God has been and how far He has brought us strengthens our resolve to stay the course to the end.  However, looking back is only a good idea if we keep it brief – whether we are changing lanes on the freeway or remembering the way things were.  In order to keep moving forward, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and He is always out front!  His word to us is always, “Come, follow Me!” 

Father, please help us remember all the good things You’ve done on our behalf.  Please give us courage to follow Your lead, even into unfamiliar territory.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  2 Corinthians 2:14

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Transition

This week I’ve been hearing this word:  Transition.  During the process of childbirth, there is a stage of labor called transition.  It is the time when the intensity ramps up, and it becomes clear that things are about to change.  The process of dilation is almost complete and soon you will be saying hello to a brand new someone.  Not surprisingly, transition is the time when many moms start feeling like they can’t handle being in labor any longer.  They are done – sick of contractions, sick of breathing, ready to call the whole thing off.  Hopefully, when a mother reaches this point there is someone there who understands and who can encourage her that she is almost there.  All the pain has a purpose and soon she will get the payoff when she holds that precious baby in her arms.  Okay, so what does that have to do with us?  Well, for those of us who belong to Restoration Church – we are in transition.  It is clear that change is eminent and sticking with the status quo is no longer an option.  I don’t know what we are going to like on the other side of this transition, but I do know this:  Our Father God is good and He delights to bring forth new life – especially in unexpected places!   

For many of us this change means saying goodbye to a place that has represented home.  We have many wonderful memories from times spent in this place.  It’s hard to say goodbye and it is okay to be sad as we anticipate doing so.  It is natural to be a little overwhelmed as we pass through this stage of transition.  What I believe I hear the Holy Spirit saying this week is this:  Trust me.  This pain has a purpose.  The end result will be worth it.  New life is coming.  Be encouraged.  I brought you this far and I’m not leaving you now.  Hold on to My Faithfulness and be faithful to Me. 

Father God, please help us to hang on to You and please remind us that You never let go.  We love You, Lord and we trust You to bring us through this season and on to times of rejoicing on the other side. Bless Your Name Lord for You are Yahweh – the great God who was and is and always will be.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Comparison!

Comparison shopping is one of my favorite indoor sports.  Trying to find the very best deal possible is something many women enjoy.  Unfortunately, the skills of evaluation and assessment that make us great bargain hunters can also make us miserable when we begin to apply them to ourselves and those around us.  From the time we are big enough to step outside our own front doors, we begin to be aware of the differences between ourselves and the kids next door.  She has streamers on her handlebars and a basket with a flower!  I’m still riding a hand-me-down tricycle.  Sniff.  And so it goes all through life.  We compare our appearance, our intelligence, our possessions, our skills, even our personalities, and most of the time we decide that we are the ones who are lacking.  Church isn’t even a safe zone.  It is so easy to begin comparing our Christian walk with someone else’s and feel that we don’t have what they have.  What I hear the Lord saying to all of this today is simply “No Comparison”.  I believe He wants us to know that He never intended us to look at each other or ourselves in this way.  He wants us to know that we are accepted “in the Beloved.”  In Christ, we are all completely received by the Father and for the same reason – the covering of our sin by the blood of Jesus.  All the rest of it – how we look, how we act, what we have, what we don’t have – it just really isn’t that important.  If we can look at ourselves and say, “You are accepted by the Father”, then we can look at everyone else around us and say the same thing.  All those differences just don’t have to matter so much once we know, really know, that we belong to Him.  He is our Daddy God and He delights in our differences because He designed us that way.  He loves variety and while we may value one set of characteristics over another, who says He does?  He seems to enjoy people in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors.  If you haven’t noticed this, you probably haven’t been to Six Flags lately.  Bottom line, it’s time to keep the comparisons where they belong – on the produce aisle.  Go pick out the best watermelon or the juiciest peach, and give yourself freedom to be the best at one thing – being the person you were created to be. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  Ephesians 1:3-6

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

God is Speaking!

Our Abba Father is so amazing.  His love is so great for all that it is always sad when people turn their backs on Him.  I was driving to church today for Ladies Bible Study and I saw one of those signs by the road that indicates who is volunteering to take care of keeping it clean.  The sign said Metroplex Atheists.  I was surprised and saddened.  I thought about how wounded you would have to be to devote yourself to a group that wants to convince people God isn’t real.  I don’t think Bigfoot is real, but I’ve never felt the need to start an Anti-Sasquatch group. To my mind, actively trying to disprove someone doesn’t exist is pretty much an admission that they do and that you have a problem with them.   I’ve decided to be thankful for that sign because it can remind me to pray for those folks and ask the Lord to make Himself real to them.  I know God is able to do this and I believe He wants to. 
Throughout my day today, I have heard the Lord speaking through many different people.  A Facebook friend posted an amazing prayer.  Several women at my Bible study said things this morning that had the ring of Holy Spirit inspired truth.  A friend wrote me an email that was filled with wisdom and grace.  God is speaking and He has so much to say if we will take the time to tune in and listen.  I am so grateful for this!  Just like the disciples, I can’t imagine ever turning away from the Lord Jesus.  He alone has the words of eternal life!  (John 6:68)    Today, I want to encourage you to take time to listen for what the Lord is speaking straight to you.  It may be in your Bible reading.  It could be in your thoughts as you drive down the road.  If you listen, you will hear Him.  Don’t be surprised if the first thing He tells you is how much He loves you.  Don’t let the enemy tell you that is just wishful thinking.  He loves us.  Oh, how He loves us!  And He desires for us to know Him.  Draw near to Him today. 

“This is what the LORD says, He who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is His name: 3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:2-3

Abba Father, Lord Jesus, please speak to our hearts by your Spirit.  Help us tune in to Your frequency.  Help us find the quiet places where we can listen and truly hear.  Calm our hearts and help us hear You.  Thank You for always hearing us.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.