Friday, October 23, 2015

The Skin of Jesus

"'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second one, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29

In a conversation with a friend recently, she shared a profound statement someone advanced in years had relayed to her.  It was simple.  It was pure.

"I have found that only two things really matter.  That we love Jesus and that we take care of each other." 

The statement stuck.  It basically is the two commandments summarized.

Yet, in church,in life, we have so many programs and busyness grasping for our time that often these two things, the most important things according to Jesus, get pushed aside unintentionally.

Our busyness feeds ourselves until literally "our plates are full", as we so often say.  What we have left to give our neighbors is quite often crumbs to nothing at all.

I'm not here to point fingers.  I am guilty as well.

This past week, however, the Lord has been showing me the importance in this commandment.  The importance of this action.

I have been very sick.  Finally, at midweek, I was rightly diagnosed with pneumonia and possibly mono and placed on stronger antiobiotics.  I am just now beginning to feel slightly normal, but still coughing and weak.  While sick, the importance and truth of the statement above hit home.

Very often, people need not only the words of Jesus, but also the skin of Jesus.  Jesus cared for people.  Jesus stopped.  Jesus interrupted His plans to help.  Jesus loved.  Jesus loves.

In the body of Christ, we often talk about what part of the "body" we are.  Are we a mouth that speaks truth with boldness and proclaims the gospel?  Are we a foot that goes to spread the ministry of the gospel across lands?  Are we a hand that serves in the local church or at a local ministry? All of these are good and needed.  All parts are needed  (1 Cor 12:14-26).  And all the parts should care for the other parts as it says in 1 Cor 12:25-26.  No matter what our callings or giftings are, we are all called to be the skin of Jesus.

Being the skin of Jesus is acting, is going and loving and showing care to one another. It is my prayer for the Lord to help me do this, this very important commandment well.

The first step might be to get our plates not nearly as full so we have more than crumbs to give to our neighbors.  Just a thought.  For you, loving your neighbor might begin with being more present with your own family or it might mean literally getting to know a neighbor.  It could mean reaching out to a friend and seeing how they are doing (not on the surface, but really how they're doing.)

For me, I know it means being more intentional about listening to what people are going through and sincerely seeking how I can help.  Brining a meal can speaks volumes of love to someone hurting or sick.  Texting a friend to say, "I love you and I'm praying for you" can be a powerful testimony of Christ's love.  We just need each other.  My friend's friend rephrased the two commandments so simply...

"I have found that only two things really matter.  That we love Jesus and that we take care of each other." 

This really sums up all that matters.  How can you be the skin of Jesus to someone today?

Dear Lord, I want to follow you.  Lord, help me love you with all my heart, soul and mind and then help me truly and sincerely love my neighbor as myself.  Lord, forgive me for being selfish and filling my plate to the point of having no more room left to give to those in need.  Father, help me love others well.  Help me be the Your skin to someone today.   In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Closer Look at Our Fear

"He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells in Him." Daniel 2:22

My son nervously asked me to come into his room.  He hesitantly directed me to look at his window and asked, "Mom, do you see those two lights through the window that look like eyes?"  Immediately I saw what he was referring to and went over to the window.

One thing I have found through the years is to dispel a fear, you have to face it.

Admittedly, the two lights did appear a little freaky.  However, upon a closer examination, I discovered the source of the illuminated illusion.  Somehow the reflection off a shiny black object in his room had hit the window at just the right angle to appear to be two eyes on the other side.

Many of the fears we hold are similar to that of my ten year old son. His fear was only an illusion of something real.  His fear was not based on truth, but rather a lie held in his mind.  There were no eyes in the window, but rather just a reflection.

There are fears we hold which have no physical substance but rather are merely a reflection of a lie we have held onto from something in our past.

Busyness or being too fearful of what we might find by taking a closer look into the window of our souls may keep us from the window. Instead we just pull down the shades and pretend we have no fear of what is on the other side.   Whatever the reason for our lack of pursuit of extinguishing our fear, we are walking around in bondage as a result.

Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at our fears.

What I am starting to discover is that if we will just take a closer look into the dark window, we will find the root of the issue.  We can uncover the truth of what lies in the dark and bring it into the light of God's Word.  When fear is brought into the light of God's Word, His truth will shatter the darkness and fear will lose its hold.

My son is no longer afraid of his window or what is outside in the dark.  Just as I led my son to take a closer look into the darkness to dispel his fear, I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord to reveal the hidden things in the dark that are causing you fear.  Ask Him to show you what lies you are believing and seek His truth.  Fear will disappear in the light of His truth.

Revelant Scriptures:

Isaiah 41:10  "Fear not, for I am with you;  Be not dismayed, for I am your god.  I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Holes Don't Bother Me

Our lawn has holes in it. Patches where once beautiful, green grass laid are now barren and brown.

Our lawn has been on a journey.  For years, we have longed for luscious velvety soft grass.  In the past year or so, my heart rejoiced in the fruition of our green dreams becoming a reality.  That was until the holes.

Crab grass began creeping in our perfect picturesque landscape.  Those ugly crab heads spread in spite of conscientious care.  It seemed like they just appeared out of nowhere and nothing was working to crush the crabs.  My wonderful husband had to take matters into his own hands and dig up the weeds, leaving our grass looking like a green dalmatian with dirt brown spots.

This picture only shows some of the holes.  There are more. {smile}  However, I have to tell you, the holes don't bother me.  They might have in the past, but now I can see the beauty in the holes.  Here is what I know:

I know these holes are only temporary.

I know new grass will be planted and will fill the once weed ridden spaces with new life.

The holes represent the old being taken out making room for new.  Although there may be a time when it looks barren and spotty, there is a fresh newness that will spring up.

I am sure you are seeing the analogy in this imagery to our lives in Christ.

We have holes.  Our holes may be a result of weeds in our lives.  Maybe we have already dug up the weeds but there are still barren spots while we wait for fresh new grass to grow.

God is filling your holes.  He fills your holes and makes you whole.  He is planting and tending to those places of barrenness.

What are your holes?  I would love to hear from you today and pray for you.  God is not afraid of your holes and neither am I.  Holes don't bother me.  New life is coming.

Relevant Scripture(s):

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth."  Isaiah 43:18-19a

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

"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." Phillipians 1:6

Monday, July 27, 2015

Does Planned Parenthood Care No Matter What?

My heart pounded as we entered the door of Planned Parenthood.  Anxiousness hovered over me like a dark cloud on a dreary day.  I walked to the desk to sign in.  The lady behind the counter measured up my fear and quickly suggested a pill to ease my nerves.  She handed me the pill and water.  Within moments, lightness overtook the heaviness of dread.  I couldn’t feel.  Everything seemed funny.  Then my name was called…from that point on, nothing was funny.

A nurse escorted me down a long hallway and into a cold sterile room.  There was a metal table.  I knew immediately I wanted to leave, but it seemed too late.  Then pain.  Screams.  Wailing.  Uncontrollable tears. 

Then it was over.   I was no longer pregnant.  In the waiting room, I knew…I knew what I had done was wrong.  I had tried to convince myself that it was only tissue.  I had tried to convince myself it was only a blob of nothingness.  My baby was 11 weeks old when I aborted.
At 11 weeks old, she had hands, feet, fingers, and toes.  Babies can be seen dancing and playing in the womb at 11 weeks old.  

Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t I know? Would it have mattered?  I’d like to hope so.
In April 2014, I went back to visit that Planned Parenthood for the first time in twenty-one years to pray healing over the land.  Karen Ellison, the founder of Deeper Still and some other Deeper Still team members and long time friend, Jill Balkema, walked around the building with me looking for a spot to pray.  The building had an aura of decay and death even evidenced by its outward appearance.  It was as if the death that happened on the inside of the building couldn’t help but seep through and spread to the outer as a wound bleeding inside rises to the surface as a discolored and eye-sore bruise.  

With the door in sight, my only thought was, “I wish I would have never opened that door. “ Then, as we prayed, the sign by the door was brought to my attention.  “Care. No matter what.”

I wonder?  Do they really care no matter what?  What about the lives lost daily?  What of the women left wounded who come into their doors?  What about those standing outside crying because of a choice made years ago?  If I had told them my story and how an abortion nearly destroyed me, would they had listened?  If they read this post, how would they respond?
Please don’t misunderstand.  I don’t blame them.  It was my choice.  My question is a rhetorical one.  The answer…an obvious one. 

Planned Parenthood has been in the news much lately as the public has gained knowledge of their practices in harvesting and selling aborted fetal tissue.  Planned Parenthood received $528 million dollars last year of tax payer’s money or $1.4 million per day (  Congress is in the process of trying to bring a vote to the floor to have Planned Parenthood defunded by tax dollars. Let us continue to pray for the lies to stop and truth to surface. 

That day in April 2014, as we stood outside Planned Parenthood in Champaign, IL and prayed, a lady came out and asked us to leave.  Did that lady care why I was outside crying? Twenty-one years of heartbreak and pain.  Twenty-one years of “what if”.  Twenty-one years of wishing I had never walked through that door.  A twenty-year-old girl I will never see this side of heaven. 

“Care.  No Matter What. “?   It is time for truth. 

Please join me in praying for truth to prevail and click on the link below to sign the petition for Planner Parenthood to be defunded.

Oh Heavenly Father, we come to you today on behalf of our nation.  The governments and rulers of our nation have created laws against You and against Your anointed.  Oh Lord, we as a people have allowed them and have bowed down to the idols of selfishness and self-reliance.  We have sacrificed our sons and daughters on the altars of self-interest.  Oh Father, we ask for you to hear our cry and forgive us and forgive our land.  We ask for You to speak and for truth to be unveiled and justice to come.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Told My Friend She was Ok to be Gay {And Why I Regret It}

She sat across from me at McDonald's.  I knew it was important.  She needed to talk to me.  Desperation poured from her lips as she sought my advice ( for some reason, she thought Miss Poor Decisions 1994 was the perfect person to ask.)

My friend was married.  She and her husband had a child together.  I never expected the words that flowed from her mouth that day.

She began to explain how she was attracted to another girl and she wasn't sure what to do about it or if she should tell her husband. 

I will always regret what I said to her that day.

Please don't judge me for what I'm about to disclose.  I was twenty.  Lost.  Remember Miss Poor Decisions 1994?  Yes.  I could have been crowned. 

My advise to her:  Follow your heart. You deserve to be happy.  Tell your husband. 

My heart aches typing those words.  Lord, forgive me.  Forgive me of any part I had in wrecking a marriage, hurting a child, and hurting my friend by encouraging her to go down a destructive path paved with sin. 

Why do I share this with you today?  Because I know I'm not the only one who will ever have this conversation.  And I want to help you make a better choice. 

To my friend, please forgive me for not having the courage nor the wisdom to have led you to a life-giving choice.

Here is what I wish I would have said to you that day twenty-one years ago:

Don't go there.  If you choose to go down that path, it will be full of heartache and brokenness. Resist the temptation. Run toward God.  Love your husband.  Love your child.  Be the best wife you can be to him.  Pray for your husband and marriage.  Pray for your child.  Go to church.  God loves you and wants to deliver you from temptation and sin.  God has such a good plan for you.  Choose Him.   

There is much controversy around the gay marriage issue and I have mostly remained silent on it until now.  Regardless of your position, I want you to consider this question: 

Which advice is truly the most loving?

I saw my friend a few years later.  She had traded her beautiful long black hair for a short bleached butch cut.  She was with the girl she had told me about.  Her daughter in tow.  My heart sank the moment I saw them.  She had followed my ill-given advice.  I thought it was the loving and accepting answer. 

Encouraging others to go against the Word of God is never loving nor accepting, it is dangerous.

What was my friend really desperate for that day?  Approval or rescue?  I believe she knew she was about to jump off a cliff and was crying out for someone to stop her.  Instead, sadly, I gave her a push. 

For those who say Christians are full of hate for not agreeing with homosexual marriage are misinformed.  It is because we love that we are against it.  I personally know the bondage of living in sin (and homosexual sex is sin) (Leviticus 20:10-18, 1 Tim 1: 8-11, Rom 1:24-28) and I want all people to experience living in the fullness of God and freedom in Christ.  Sin hinders our relationship with God.  I have lived both ways.  Trust me, freedom is decidedly better! 

Will you join me in displaying love by praying for my friend from twenty-one years ago? 

Father, I pray for this friend.  I don't know how she is or where she is but you do.  I thank you that you love her so much and that you laid her on my heart this day.  Lord, I pray for you to help her.  I pray for her to come into a life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  I pray for you to rescue her and deliver her from bondage and free her from sin.  Lord, I pray for you to work in her life in miraculous ways and reveal yourself to her mightily.  Lord, save her and her family. And I pray for salvation and healing for her, her child, her husband and the other girl.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Checking Motives

While cuddling and reading devotions with my eight-year-old, Philippians 1:15 tore my heart wide open.

"Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel."  Phillipians 1:15-17

Pressure for platform and numbers can distract attention.  The moment envy rises its ugly green head in our hearts when it comes to fellow ambassadors of the gospel, we can be sure Phil 1:15 isn't far from describing our state.

As ministers of the gospel of Christ, we need to be keenly aware of our motives.  And this not only goes for ministers, but every service in the church body.  There is a key question we must continue to ask ourselves...Why do we do what we do? 

Do we like the attention?

Does it make us feel good about ourselves?


Is position and favor our conquest? 

There are other questions to ask as well.  But, there should only be one answer.  The only reason for proclaiming the gospel of Christ is simply to preach Christ.

Thankfully whatever the motives, still Christ is preached, as Paul admirably points out in Phil 1:18.

"What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in trust, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."

Anyone is subject to fall.  Anyone at any time can be tempted with envy and jealousy.  No one is immune.  We are all human.  We just all need to be aware.

Do you find yourself comparing your ministry to others?  Check your motives.

Do you find yourself begrudging the fruit in others' lives?  Check your motives.

Do you think you are right in how you do things and others are wrong?  Check your motives.

Do you ever feel like someone "stole" something or someone from you?  Check your motives.

At the beginning of this post, I shared an intimate confession. The Lord used Phil 1:15 to reveal an area of sin in my life.  This sin broke my heart.  And as a fellow sojourner in Christ, my heart is to help others avoid the pitfalls along the journey.

My prayer is that our goal and aim would be One.  My prayer is that all believers in Christ could be joined together in unity rather than me-nity, focused on others and the Kindgom of God rather than self.

It starts with each person doing a heart check and walking in love with one another.  It starts with me. It starts with you.

Father, cleanse my heart and renew a right spirit within me.  Lord, may my only motive be Christ and Christ alone.  Forgive me for times I have been envious of my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.  Forgive me Lord and rid me of pride and selfishness.  Lord, I pray that as Your children, we would love each other and encourage each other along this journey.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.    

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Forget to Enter to Win!

Friday morning I am giving away a prayer journal!  Don't forget to enter to win.  Click this link below to see how to win!

Also, I posted a new post today on the other blog I write, Deeper Still Devotions.  Click the link below to read this post.

Blessings to you!

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