Tag Archive | faith

An Unquenchable Song

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Oh!  How I try not to be deemed as old-fashioned!

Oh!  How I ache to be at least in touch with the needs, the thoughts and the trends of the younger generation!

Oh! How I desire not to come across as out of date … out of touch … or over that infamous hill.

But let’s face it – at this age – I do indeed have a lot of years of living under my belt.

At this point in my life’s journey – I know a thing or two about life … about marriage … about parenting … about choosing well … about waiting … about wisdom … and about prayer.

At least I hope I do.

I try to dress fashionably youthful yet not come across as that older woman in teen-age clothes.

I like to think that my style is “timeless” rather than “yesterday”.

I sincerely attempt to sprinkle my speech with well-chosen colloquialisms of the day without seeming inconsequential or sarcastic.

I am certainly not “hip” … but neither am I antiquated.

I often read what my 20-something daughters and their friends are reading so that I will keep my fingers on the pulse beat of those incredible people known as “millennials”.

I follow young moms … young authors … young pastors … and young thinkers on all types of social media.

I even know what Reddit and Tumblr are … do you?!

However – I do believe that the place where the numerous years of my life is perhaps the most obvious is in my choice of music.

Sigh …

I am a musician and I have raised all of my children to love music.  Three of my five children majored in music in college.

We McLeods know our music

I will be the first to admit, however, that I am hopelessly outdated, old-fashioned and vintage when it comes to the music that I enjoy.

First of all – I’ll take a waltz over hip-hop, a sonata rather than rap and a concerto over electronica any day of my life!

Chopin, Gershwin and Debussey are on my playlist rather than Beyonce, Maroon 5 and Drake.

(As a matter of fact – I don’t even know who Drake is. I had to look up who had the #1 song on Billboard.)

And, when it comes to Christian music, it’s true …  from time to time I do enjoy Bethel, Hillsong, and gifted contemporary musicians such as Lauren Daigle.

However, the Christian music that truly inspires me is at least decades old!

Music has always had the rare and rich ability to touch my soul in the very deepest place of me.

My heart aches with unmatched joy when I hear these lyrics:

“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold … I’d rather be His than have riches untold.

I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands:  I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.”

I am forced to the altar of my heart as I evaluate those challenging lyrics.  Would I?!  Would I really rather than Jesus than silver or gold?!  Would I truly rather be His than have riches untold?

And the whisper of my heart cries … I would!  I would rather have Jesus than anything!

And then, there are times that I sit and reminisce over the legacy I have been given due to a family that valued the church and loved the Lord. In those sweet moments, I can still hear my father’s voice singing:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest Name that I know!

Fills my every longing – keeps me singing as I go!” 

Oh, Dad!  You were right!  Jesus is the sweetest Name that I know! He fills my deepest desires and He has never failed to give me an unquenchable song! 

And I must admit that one of the unarguable perquisites in judging a song to be a truly great composition is that it must hold solid theology and undeniable truth in every line –

“Great is Thy Faithfulness – Oh God, my Father.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee!

Thou changest not – Thy compassions they fail not!

As Thou has been thou forever wilt be!” 

I want to know Jesus better because of the songs that I sing.  I want to declare Who He is over my circumstances as I sing my songs of faith that the saints in every generation have sung before me. 

And, finally, who can resist the triumph that springs forth in an ordinary person’s soul when these words are proclaimed with the power of the accompanying melody:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee! God of glory, God of love!

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son above!

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness – drive the dark of doubt away.

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!” 

You might judge me as “old” due to the music that sings perpetually in my soul … but I believe that it is music that has kept me young!

The unmatched song that continues to dominate the soundtrack of my life has given me a spring in my step and a sparkle in my eyes.

How about you? What is your favorite song?  I’d love to hear from you … and sing a stanza or two together!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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Have you ever wondered what God’s will for your life is?

Should you go to college?  Get married?  Have children?  Go on the mission field?

Should you spend money or save money?

Should you wear the blue dress or the red one?

Should you call your mom or read a book?

Should you exercise or pray?

Should you change jobs or stay where you are?!

Discovering the will of God for one’s life can be daunting … unless, of course you decide to read your Bible!

I believe that the Bible offers a strategic blueprint for living an abundant life!

I believe that the Bible holds wisdom that is still applicable for our very lives today!

I believe that when the Bible is read daily that it has the potential of giving you the life of your deepest dreams.

I believe that God’s specific will for your singular life is found in the Bible.

I believe in the power of … the wonder of … and the miraculous results of the Bible!

I believe the Bible!

So … now that we have settled that … let me share with you the ‘”guts” of this week’s blog …

One day, several years ago, when I was having my daily quiet time, I read this significant and powerful verse from Ephesians, “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1

In an instant I realized that this verse was telling me exactly what God’s will was for my personal life!  I was called, by the voice of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the very actions, the thoughts, the words and the emotions of God.

And then, I hunkered down and went digging for the priceless treasure that I was certain to find in this verse.

The word “imitators” is the Greek word “mimetes” from which we derive our English word “mime”.

What God doeswe should imitate.

What God speakswe should echo.

What God thinksshould be our very first thought.

What God feelsshould be our immediate response.

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As believers in Jesus Christ, it is indeed God’s perfect will for each one of our lives, to mimic those things that we see in the character of God.

We are called to carefully and intentionally model our lives after the life of God.

As I pondered and prayed over this verse the following week, I realized that this verse is, in effect, calling me to be an actor and that I am taking on the role of God the Father.  What?!!  How can that be?

When I look into the mirror of God, I should mimic every single thing that He does!

Every single day of our earthly lives, we should be more like God than we were yesterday!  Think about it!

Every event that I encounter … every person that I meet … and every circumstance that I endure … should craft me more and more into being exactly like Him!

I should decrease in me and He should increase in me! (John 3:30)

Difficult people … and adverse conditions … and disappointing events … should only have one influence in my life … they should make me more like Jesus!

It is our goal this side of heaven to imitate God.

It is our reward this side of heaven to become more like Him.

It is our focused life calling to act like Him.

It is our daily assignment to mimic Him.

If you have ever wondered what God’s will for your life is … this is it:  To become like Him!

In order to imitate a person, you must study that person and watch how he or she acts and how he or she reacts.  You must know what this person likes and what this person doesn’t like; you must observe how the person treats people and what this person spends his or her time doing.

 

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Let me get specific …

When I was in college, a woman by the name of Ellen Stamps became my role model.  She had traveled with Corrie ten Boom for 10 years and had then married the beloved chaplain at the Christian university that I attended.

I loved absolutely everything about this blonde-haired, thirty-something Dutch woman!

I spent time studying her and asking her pertinent questions about the Lord, about life, about love and about marriage.

I observed the way that she treated people and how she responded to her husband.

I noticed that she always had fresh flowers in her home and made it a habit to play classical music while she was entertaining guests.

I was amazed that she never seemed flustered by difficult people but handled them with wit and with grace. I drank up her uncommon wisdom and I flourished as her joy splashed on my life.

Even today … over 40 years later … not a day passes by that I don’t ask myself,  “I wonder what Ellen would do in this situation?”

If you long to live in God’s perfect will for your life – you must imitate Him … you must know Him …  you must observe Him … you must listen to His uncommon wisdom and you must splash in the joy of His presence!

As well-loved children, every day we spend on earth, our goal must be to become more like our Dad!

We are constantly in the process of becoming more like God!” – Ephesians 5:1

What it Takes to Make a Difference

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If you have read my blog more than a time or two, you know by now that I am a list-maker … a list-lover … a list-idolizer.

Lists simply help me to organize the thoughts that tumble haphazardly through my brain; they enable me to give boundaries to the roller-coaster emotions that fly helter-skelter through the caverns of my heart.

Lists … I love them.

And may I just say … there are lists in the Bible!  If it’s good enough for the Holy Spirit … it’s good enough for me!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” – Galatians 5:22

This week … I am making yet a new list for you and for me.

And … have I got a list for you!

This is a life-changing, wonder-working, destiny-setting, mind-blowing list that will turn you into the person you always wished that you were but sorely knew how often you fell short.

This list will enable you to become the friend that you always wish you had been … the spouse that you always wish that you had … the parent that you dreamed about becoming … and you might even become the disciple of Jesus’ dreams!

First of all, the reason that I made this list is because I realized that at the core of anyone of us, what we truly desire in life is to make a difference.

Sure … stamps in the passport would be nice … a substantial savings account wouldn’t be turned away … education never hurt anyone … but the most valuable and sustaining desire that any of us have is to simply make a difference.

I long to be remembered after I leave planet earth for a kindness done.

I deeply desire to live beyond the dash in my tombstone with the invisible legacy that I have graciously bestowed in the lives of my family and friends.

I want acquaintances who don’t even know my name to say, “Remember that girl with the smile? Didn’t she just walk in a room and light it up?”

I want to cross my finish line and hear the Lord say, “Carol! You did good!!  You were a blessing to history! You made a difference!”

So … what does it take to make a difference? Do you have to have your picture on the front of a well-known magazine?  Must you be the host or hostess of a daily TV program?

Must you write a book that is a perpetual best-seller in order to be recognized as a truly impactful person

Is it a pre-requisite to travel to China and feed the hungry for in order for you to be considered for induction into history’s “Hall of Fame”?

I think not.  I think that perhaps the quest to make a difference begins with the simple yet eternal habits that one establishes in life.

So … here it is … you asked for it … well … maybe you didn’t ask for it but you are getting it anyway!

What It Takes to Make a Difference : Living Beyond Your Dash

1 – Smile.  The world is aching for someone with your smile.  Smile at babies … at strangers … at your family … at your enemies … at your best friend … at your spouse.

Smile in line at the grocery store … smile at the mailperson … smile at church … smile at stoplights … smile at work.

 

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2 – Say something kind to someone every single day. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, if you haven’t said something kind to someone, get out your phone and text someone a word of encouragement.  Then, turn your phone off and go to sleep!

“What is desirable in a man is his kindness.” – Proverbs 19:22

3 – Be faithful.  If you say you are going to do it, do it.  Don’t make up excuses or try to wrangle your way out of a commitment.  Just do it.

4 – Tell the truth.  Don’t exaggerate, fabricate or fictionalize your words.  Be a man of woman of integrity every day of your life.  You will never regret it.

5 – Give something away once a month.  Buy a mug for friend … a book for a child … a bakery goody for a widow … a gift card for your pastor … a flower for your neighbor.  If you can’t afford to buy it – look through your stuff and find one of your favorite items and give it with joy! Your generosity will out live you!

6 – Laugh often and laugh easily.  Don’t be Scrooge, the Grinch and Cruella deVille all rolled into one prune-faced Christian.  Be a delight to be with! Be the kind of person that others just can’t get enough of.  My friend, John Mason, calls this being a contagious Christian!  I’m in … how about you?!

7 – Don’t talk about yourself.  Ask questions of others. I have learned that others are far more interesting than I will ever be.  Be an involved listener rather than a self-absorbed talker.

8 – Figure out what you do well … and then do it! If you are a writer, write.  If you are a gardener, garden well. If you are a servant, serve others with gladness.  If you are a giver, give liberally. If you are a mentor, gather young friends around you. If you are good with money, help others who aren’t.  Live in your sweet spot in life!

9 – Scatter joy wherever and whenever you goI would much rather be known for having too much joy than too little, wouldn’t you?! When you are going through a trial, it is then that your joy becomes the most valuable commodity that you own.  Don’t let anyone steal your joy!!

 

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10 – Read your Bible every day and apply its principles to your life.  Your Bible is God talking to you!  It is your Creator revealing His heart to you!  It is the will of God unfolded on the written page!  If you want to live a great life … then read the greatest Book ever written!  The Bible is not a “flat” book but it is a Book of miraculous transformation. The miracle begins the instant that you open it and begin to read!

11 – Pray more than you worry. Praying is NOT “worrying on your knees”.  Prayer is worship … it is communication … it is declaring the promises of God!

What’s on your list of how to make a difference?!  I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

The 5-Minute Prayer Experiment

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I have 5 grown children who have all left me!
  The nerve of those kids …

They are now pursuing their gifts and destiny in the only Kingdom that really matters.

They are figuring out life for themselves without their mamma’s daily input or opinions.

They are on a journey of joy … of pain … of challenge … of significance … of success … of failure … of hope … of love.

Now, I certainly hope that what my 5 children learned while living at home has given them some type of road map for the journey of life.

I hope that they haven’t forgotten to pray … to read the Word … to be kind … to sing … to play … to dream … to make meaningful priorities … to be unselfish … to trust God.

That timeless saying is really true –

“A mother holds her children’s hands for just a little while but she holds their hearts forever.”

But … that’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about today.  I actually want to talk to you about prayer.

So – allow me to segue …. Or perhaps I should just begin again!

I have 5 grown children who have all left me!  The nerve of those kids …

The hardest days of the year to be away from all of my children is on the day of each of their births.

(You know – I am not sure that birthdays are for the person who is born on that particular day as much as it is for the mother.)

A mom remembers the joy … the pain … the challenge … the significance of the day of each of her children’s births.

A mom remembers and cries … and smiles … and sighs … and aches … and prays.

My youngest was born when I was standing on the threshold of 40 and she has been one of the greatest miracles of my entire life.

After giving birth to 4 of the most dynamic, energetic and creative human beings ever born, I was given the gift of one more.

Her birthday is May 30 and this year I wasn’t with her on her birthday.  She was celebrating with friends and some of her siblings in the city where she lives which is thousands of miles away from me! (The nerve of my kids!)

What I often do on the day that commemorates the birth of one of my children is to spend extra time in prayer for the one whom my heart is celebrating.

There ain’t no heart like a mama’s heart!

There ain’t no prayer warrior like a mama prayer warrior!

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I pray for the birthday child’s walk with the Lord and for wisdom in all of their life decisions.

I pray that they will be kind and that others will be kind to them.

I pray that they will climb mountains with diligence and experience valleys with humility.

I pray that they will think like God thinks and experience the joy of His presence.

I pray that they will be people of honor and of integrity.

This year, as I was ending my prayer celebration in honor of Joni, my youngest, I began to think about whose birthday was next.  I realized that the next birthday that belonged to a member of the original Clan McLeod was on September 2 … which was basically three months hence.

And then, I had the instant realization, that these two birthdays were separated by a mere 3 months … a little over 90 summer days.

A light bulb went off in my spirit!

The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that moment,

“Carol – what if you prayed for specific needs in all of your children’s lives for 5 minutes a day for the next three months?  It will take you 25 minutes a day – 5 minutes for each of your 5 children.”

The Holy Spirit continued His prompting …

“Carol – would you want to do a “5-Minute Prayer Experiment” with me?!”

I was literally breathless with anticipation to see what I, prayer and the Holy Spirit could accomplish to strengthen my kids’ lives in only 5 minutes a day over a period of roughly 90 days!

The next day – I found one scripture for each of my children that I would be praying over them over the course of the next 2,160 hours.

I was in!!  All the way in!

So … let me tell you how this works …

Every day from May 30 through September 2, 2018, I will spend 25 minutes in prayer; this will consist of 5 bursts of 5 minutes each.

Sometimes it is when I am walking … sometimes it is when I am unloading the dishwasher … sometimes it is when I am folding clothes … sometimes it is when I am driving.

Sometimes I pray out loud and sometimes it is an inner prayer.

I pray the Word over each of my children and I pray for specific needs in their individual lives.

5 minutes a day.  All summer long.  90 days.

The minutes fly by and the presence of the Lord is tangible!

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I am expecting God to intervene in the lives of my children and I am beginning to realize that expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

A mother’s prayer is a powerful way to impact the lives of their children even after they are grown and gone.

Our grown children can run away from our words but they can never escape our prayers so our strategy should always be to talk less and to pray more!

It’s not too late for you to join me and the Holy Spirit on this journey!  Why don’t you take the month of August and pray 5 minutes a day for your children or for those people that you love the most?

I’d love to hear all about your 5 Minute Prayer Experiment!  And just know .. while you are praying for others … I will be praying for you!

“Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.” – Spurgeon

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Spoiler Alert!

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As most of you know, I have several addictions in life, some of which I am proud and some of which I am sure are fairly unhealthy.

Some of my unhealthy and addictive habits might be but are certainly not limited to….

How many times in one lifetime can a woman tell herself that chocolate is NOT a daily vitamin?!!

If there were an Olympic sport in hitting the snooze button on the morning alarm clock – I would win it.  Hands down.

And don’t even get me started on Target and please don’t ask my husband about that particular drug of choice.

But … now … as I have already stated … not all of my addictions are harmful – some are very healthy, indeed!

Let me share with you one of my healthy addictions –

A singular addiction that has me under lock and key since about the second grade has also benefitted me in ways too numerous to even count.

I am a self-diagnosed, avaricious read-aholic!

In my book – there is no such thing as owning too many books.

Many days of my life I would rather read than breathe … rather read than eat … rather read that talk.

“What is a bookshelf other than a treasure chest for a curious mind?”

Whenever I walk into a bookstore or a library, my blood pressure rises, my heartbeat accelerates and I have to remind myself to “Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out!

I am the kind of girl who fantasizes about being locked up in the library overnight!

The books that I have read over the course of my life have helped to mold the person that I am today.  I have traveled through time and have met fascinating people on the pages of a book that I otherwise never would have known.

I have climbed mountains, survived blizzards, experienced poverty, dealt with difficult people, and lived on other continents simply because I opened the pages of a book.

I have been the President of the United States of America … the Queen of England … a housewife during the Dustbowl … and a missionary who gives her life for the cause of Christ … simply because I have opened the pages of a book.

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change our lives.”

Because I am so very human, I have even developed a frighteningly bad habit right in the middle of this excellent obsession with reading.  Actually, let me attempt to re-describe the questionable habit that thrives in the midst of a stellar habit –

To me – this particular practice of which I speak is actually not a bad habit at all but a dire necessity to my emotional investment.

However, most of my friends say it is simply a bad habit. A very bad habit.

“What is the habit of controversy?” you may ask.

I am so glad that you asked because I can’t wait to answer you fully!

Whenever I pick up a book – fiction or non-fiction – before I read the first chapter, I always read the last chapter.

That’s not a sin, is it?!

The reason that I do this is because I refuse to give myself wholeheartedly to a book that has a murky ending. I refuse to read a page of a book that comes to erroneous conclusions or communicates that which I consider to be a broken theme.

I refuse.

Other well-meaning bibliophiles may accuse me of spoiling the ending but I think not.  Knowing the ending before the beginning actually stirs my interest in and investment to the book. It is true, this habit removes both fear and suspense from my emotional thermometer – but who needs fear and suspense anyway?!

I love the development of the characters to a deeper and richer degree knowing how it is all going to turn out for them. I feel that I own a sweet secret that I am unable to share with anyone whose life story is being written before my very eyes.

And so I trudge along through my well-set pattern of literary perusal and continue to read the last chapter first.

One particular day, as I was reading the greatest Book ever written, I realized how powerful it is to know exactly what the end of the Bible says!  My heart leaped for absolute joy out of my chest as I embraced the knowledge that I know!

 I know how all of this ends for the people of God!

I know how God will tie it all together!

I know what the final act will look like!

I know who wins!

And I definitely know who loses!

I don’t mean to spoil the ending of the Bible for you … but everything really is going to be o.k.

Go ahead!  I dare you to do it!  Read the last chapter of Revelation and break out in exuberant worship!

God has written the end of your story and it’s a good one … a really good one!

There is no reason for fear or suspense in the life of a believer because the ending to all of our stories is simply out of this world!

God has been to your future and it is good because He is good and He is already there.

God has spent eternity past writing out the details of your life and has made an eternal investment in the ending that will trump all other endings … you win because He has already won!

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

No Matter What

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I received an interesting Facebook message recently from a friend.  Her message wasn’t really a “message” but it was presented in the format of a question.

This question has been boiling in the crevices of my heart for nearly 3 weeks now and I am not sure that I have been able to answer it yet.

The friend who sent it is a deep thinker, a true disciple and is on a passionate journey to follow Jesus in all seasons of life. Although she is younger than I am, in many ways – I want to be like her.

This is the question that she posed to me –

What does it look like to follow Jesus no matter what?

To answer questions that seem to me to be humanly unanswerable – I always go to the Bible.  I always ask myself, “What does the Bible say about this?”

When I go digging for gold in the mines of the Bible, I always find the wisdom and the heart of God. And this time was no different …

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

If my heart’s desire, this side of heaven, is to follow Jesus then there is a price that I must pay.

The price that I must pay is that I must deny myself and take up my cross daily in order to follow Him.

What in the world does that mean?! It doesn’t sound like much “fun” to me.

And – it sounds pretty expensive if you ask me.  I am not sure that I can afford the price that Jesus is asking me to pay.

If I choose willingly to deny myself does that mean that I will never go shopping again?  That I will never eat another piece of raspberry pie?  That I will never get to go to Hawaii?

And if I take up my cross daily does that imply that every day this side of heaven there is some sort of difficulty that I must carry?

What does it look like to follow Jesus no matter what?!

 

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I don’t believe that the cross that we are called to take up is exactly like the cross of Jesus Christ.  His cross was a literal one and ours is perhaps, more figurative … our cross is vividly symbolic of the cross of Christ.

Your cross may not look like my cross but we all have one … you can be sure of that.

I think that if I were to define – in general terms – what a modern day cross is … it might sound like this …

Our cross is that difficult thing that we choose to do simply because we belong to Him.

A cross is a choice and you can choose it or not.  It’s up to you.

Your cross may be seen in loving a difficult person … or it may be found in a place that you choose to go even though it is just so hard.

Your cross may be giving up a relationship that is not healthy or holy … or it may be seen in embracing a simpler lifestyle than you would prefer.

Your cross may be found in serving someone or a ministry for which you receive little or no recognition.

Your cross may be discovered in giving generously to Kingdom causes.

What does your cross look like?

Your cross may look like a nation … or a people group … or a lifestyle … or a person.

A cross may be a change in direction … a denial of creature comforts … or a determination to choose joy even in dark circumstances.

As you can imagine, ever since my friend sent me that simple yet profound question, it has been stirring around in the depths of my soul.

And as disturbing as that question has become to me – the follow-up question is even more unsettling …

Am I doing it?  Am I following Jesus no matter what?

For me personally, some of the ways that I have taken up my cross have been to live far away from my children and grandchildren.  They are pursuing God’s will for their lives and I am pursuing God’s will for my life.  We have, as yet, not landed in the same geographical location.

For me personally, it has meant changing my lifestyle in the wake of cancer so that I can live a long time and fulfill my destiny in Christ.  The lifestyle changes have been challenging but a joyful discipline, indeed.

For me personally, “taking up my cross” has meant embracing the socio-economic level that serving in full-time ministry requires.

For me, personally, “taking up my cross” has meant encouraging my husband to work full-time in missions and to spend long periods of time apart.

What does your cross look like?  Are you doing it?

 

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After my friend asked me that soul-piercing question, she went on to say –

“I was thinking about our mission trip and thought about how many of us had hesitations about going to the other side of the world to serve the people Jesus had called us to serve, and to spread his gospel.

Perhaps out of fear, or being out of our comfort zones, or missing our husbands or children, or taking time off work, or raising the funds to go etc. so many things can discourage the dreams God has given us to complete his purpose in our lives for the kingdom, if we give into the temptation to let discouragement settle upon us and cause us to doubt his plans for us.

However if we pursue him fervently, what blessing follows when we are obedient to his call on our lives. 

Will we be obedient to go wherever he calls us to?

Will be willing to leave our comforts, families, and friends for the sake of advancing the kingdom of heaven?

Will we listen to his still small voice as he calls us to get out of our comfort “boats” and watch as he parts the waters of the stormy seas before our eyes and reach out to the people in this broken and hurting world?

To truly follow Christ is a moment-by-moment decision requiring denial of self and of taking up one’s personal cross.

The blessing is found in the knowing that He is with us as we carry our cross … and He is helping us do it every step of the way.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Tug-of-War

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Have you ever been in a place in life where you felt you were in a tug-of-war with the God of the universe?!

Come on … surely I am not the only one who has ever felt this way!

Perhaps after weeks of desperate prayer, you are just sure that you are pulling God your way in prayer … but your circumstances never seem to cooperate with your passionate prayer life.

Then – you try something else.  Private prayer hasn’t worked so you will take your case public.

What you do next is go to church. Your worship your heart out and even spend time at the altar. You might feel that at long last you have experienced that infamous break-through and … finally … that little flag on the middle of the massive tug-of-war rope has finally landed on God’s side.  Whew!  God won!

Except on Monday morning … you sneakily inch it back your way.

All week long you find yourself talking to God until you are completely hoarse trying to convince Him why your way is the best way and why it makes the most sense … but it seems like heaven is not listening.

You feel that heaven is not interested in your opinions … your desires … your pain … your preferences … your goals … your hopes … your dreams.

You dramatically beg God to do it your way … but heaven is quiet.

Did I just describe your life?  It’s called … a tug-of-war with God.

Your will vs. His will.

Your plans vs. His plans.

Your hopes vs. His destiny.

Your desires vs. His perfection.

Can I just help you out here? It’s no fun to win when you are in a tug-of-war with God.

No fun at all.

In fact … it rather stinks in the long run of life.

And while you are listening to me … let me give you one more tip and then maybe I’ll be quiet …

You actually shouldn’t be in a tug-of-war with God at all.

O.K. … I’m not going to be quiet yet.  Hang with me for just a few more thoughts.

Every believer must decide whether they are going to enter a tug-of-war with God or not. 

Every believer.

 

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It’s inevitable … there comes a moment in life when you have to determine if it is worth it or not.

Abraham had to decide … and God won.

David had to decide … and God won.

Samson had to decide … and God won.

Peter had to decide … and God won.

The odds are on God’s side. If I were a betting woman (and I am not) my money would be on God and not on you.

I have been studying the Book of Job for the past month as I prepare for the next book that I am writing.

Everybody knows who Job is but no one wants to study his life.  We are afraid that what he had might be contagious or something.

What I am discovering is that the Book of Job is a neglected treasure of the Christian life.

Job was in an appalling, hideous, detestable tug-of-war with God.

Job had been an extremely successful man in business and in agriculture.  Not only had he achieved significance in the world’s opinion but even more importantly Job loved God. 

The Bible calls him, “righteous” and “blameless”.

Even so – Job had lost his entire family except his difficult wife was still around to torment him.

Everything that he had worked for his entire life was gone in the blink of an eye.

Everything.

And then – boils appeared all over his body.  Crusty, ugly, oozing, painful boils covered Job from head to toe.

The physical pain was excruciating and the emotional pain was unbearable.

But the worst pain of all was the spiritual pain.

Where was God?!

Where was He?!

Did God even care about Job?

And the tug-of-war between Job and God began in earnest.

Job’s friends were absolutely no help at all – they blamed God and they blamed Job. They were the three stooges of the Old Testament.

Job was desperate to hear from God and to figure out what had happened that made his life implode.

For 39 of the 42 chapters of the Book of Job the tug of war goes on … and on … and on.

But finally – the Lord wins the violent tug-of-war (as He always will) and this is what happened next.

(Let me just give you some inside information here:  You are getting a very small sliver of my next book that is coming out in April of 2019. The next words are taken from the rough draft.  It’s so early in the process that the book doesn’t even have a title yet!)

“I can picture Job sitting there, in the ruins of his life, with his three despicable companions inching away from him. God has spoken and the earth, and all that live therein, are now silent.  Perhaps the silence was awkward for a minute or two but then Job lifted up his head and responded to the call of heaven. Job’s beautiful reply is so poignant and lovely that it is almost painful:

“Then Job answered the Lord and said,

            ‘I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

            Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

            Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.

            I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;

            Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:1-6

 

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The refining work was completed in the life of Job! He retracted all that he had spoken out of pain, out of selfish questions and out of understandable human emotions. Job came out of the fire as pure gold because God had completed a work so vast in his heart that he was able to retract and repent. Job spoke plainly and powerfully to the One whom he served and when Job said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted,” what he was actually stating was, “Not my will, Father, but Your will be done in my life.” Job had laid his earthly agenda down and was ready to partner with His Father in heaven for the rest of his remaining days.”

Do you need to retract your case?  Do you need to repent with Job?

I certainly do … I need to lay my will down at His nail-scarred feet again today.

Not my will, Father, but Your will be done in my life.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!