Christian Living · faith

Turn Down the Noise

Psalm 17:6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words (ESV. )

The other day my husband and I got into an argument. It started with a misunderstanding. I walked in the living room to find the children watching a learning video. I asked (or attempted to) my husband a question. He didn’t hear all of what I said. There was too much noise. He told me first to speak louder, then responded with a statement that didn’t match my inquiry. We both thought we could just speak louder and the communication would be fine. It wasn’t.

Not until the television was quieted and the kids were settled did the mess actually get resolved. Both of us clearly thought we understood the other person. But we didn’t. I sought God shortly after in prayer and exclaimed in frustration, “Speak louder. I can’t hear you!” In that moment a spiritual light bulb went on. God was speaking. He didn’t need to talk louder. I needed to be quieter.

73f00d909800ade3e10faedddea9dfd6

I have been processing the times in my life when I thought God wasn’t speaking. I’ve discovered a few things.

  • God communicates primarily through His Word.
  • He doesn’t always use words
  • God speaks through His creation (sometimes people)
  • Silence doesn’t mean ignored
  • His voice is, in general, more like a whisper
  • You have to listen to hear
  • He speaks through peace or a “check/caution”
  • If we are in sin or not seeking wholeheartedly we cannot usually hear (though there are scriptural examples of God speaking through a donkey or using a whale with Jonah)

The bottom line is…God and the world around us has lessons to teach. We must be humble enough to recognize them and apply the wisdom to our lives. Sometimes our lives are too loud to hear Him.

Today, I want to encourage you to be still. Read the Word, pray, and let your prayer be a two way conversation. Speak, then listen. Or perhaps let God speak first. Just recently I’ve been doing that. My formula used to always be “I speak then He speaks.” Really, what He has to say is more important than my words. God is much smarter.

Get somewhere quiet. Or at least be in solitude with yourself. Riding a bus is alone although there’s people around you. In the car. The shower. While vacuuming. On break at work. There’s time if you really want to.

Get quiet. You never know what He’ll say.

1 Samuel 3:10 ESV And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Job 13:22 ESV Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.

Psalm 119:135 ESV Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

Colossians 4:2 ESV Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Christian Living · faith

The Wrong Cover

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I was at the dollar store when I found a book series on the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) by Robert Strand. One in particular caught my attention. There was only one book left titled Self Control. As soon as I set eyes on it I sensed I was supposed to purchase that book. It’s only a dollar anyway.

Surprise.

When I got home I opened it and turned to the first page. I had only glanced at the front and back covers in the store. Right there on the first page it said Faithfulness. Yep. The cover was wrong. This book was about a fruit of the Spirit. But not self control.

Faithfulness.

At first I tossed the book aside.

That’s what I get when I buy a book for a buck.

But the Holy Spirit wasn’t done with me. I needed to read on faithfulness a lot more than I realized.

Faithfulness: steady allegiance to God and trust/reliance in Him.

Faithfulness can refer to God’s character or ours. Here in Galatians it’s more so referring to human trust and reliance on God. Being loyal. Devoted.

I’m not as faithful as I think I am.

That fact completely smacked me in the face. God had been dealing with me in recent months on holiness and restraint. Self control. But I wasn’t expecting faithfulness to be highlighted here. I recognize that I need to trust God better. Truly. However, God is calling me to a greater devotion.

I’ve been speaking aloud God’s word and promises and injecting mine and other’s names. I am reminding myself that God’s word is true and the spiritual application is for me and you. Abba deserves our total trust and devotion.

Today, I want to encourage you to offer devotion and complete trust to God. Be faithful to His commandments. None of us will ever perfectly, this side of eternity, be 100% loyal to God. A bit sad but true. The flesh and spirit are at enmity with each other. However, I believe we can reach (with great maturity) 99%.

That “wrong” cover ended up being just what I needed. God is so good. He gives us what we need when we need it.

Sometimes the mistakes…aren’t. God will use it. Be faithful, for He is always faithful to us. Always.

Psalm 37:5 ESV Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Psalm 40:4-5 ESV Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

Hebrews 11:1 ESV Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Christian Living · faith

Chocolate Bar or Silver Bar

Genesis 25:30-32 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”

I saw a video on Facebook the other day of people who were asked if they wanted a Hershey (chocolate) bar or a genuine 10 ounce bar of silver. In the clip shown all chose the chocolate. I’m sure some likely chose (I hope) the silver, but none I saw in the edited video did. A Hershey bar sells for around $1 and silver at the moment is around $16 an ounce. So, basically people are offered something of $1 in value and something $160 in value or thereabouts. And yet many still choose the $1.

This would make a great lesson.

Someone said the above in the comments. And it would. I sat on this for a bit, thinking and praying on what to say. I’ve settled here…

Temporary satisfaction or eternal rewards.

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with this more than I realized. I come from a prosperous family. But my husband and I are not as they are. There are times I feel like stepping out of stay-at-home mom mode into career woman status. Some days I miss the office friends. Setting goals and meeting them. Earning a paycheck without being disturbed with dirty diapers and tantrums. I work from home. Outside of the loneliness it can bring, it’s surprisingly psychologically draining.

Sometimes I just want to be happy now.

That’s the thing. Happy. First of all, we’re not called to be happy. Yep, that’s right. We’re called to have joy. It’s a choice. And not always an easy one. God asks us to be content in Him and as in Matthew 6:33 to seek first the kingdom of God. He comes first.

Being a stay-at-home mom has wonderful, even eternal rewards.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m not shaming those that put their children in daycare and work. However, I am saying that if we’re not training up our children, then who or what is? Sometimes the greatest contribution we make in life is in who we raise. If the Lord tarries, some child will invent something lifesaving, another may be a missionary, war hero, amazing carpenter, wonderful baker, brilliant doctor etc. Someone who loves God and loves others.

And then there’s…

Jacob and Esau.

This reminds me of when Esau sold his birthright for some stew. Stew.

He chose temporary satisfaction. Reading on, sadly, he regrets this deeply. Painfully.

How many of us choose temporary pleasures versus eternal rewards? How many of us are spending more time and effort building up earthly treasures instead of heavenly ones? Too many. Lord have mercy on me, I’ve been there. I get it. But greed is a sin. It must be repented of.

Today, I pray you get before God and sincerely ask Him to help you be content and wise in your spending. Be generous. Don’t live just to gain a title, status, certain income, or a fancy home. Live to bless others and build eternal rewards. The most expensive thing in this world is a human soul. It’s so valuable Yeshua (Jesus) died to redeem all who would choose Him.

It’s OK to seek fish to live on. But I pray every person reading this would choose to be a fisher of men-all people. Share the good news of Messiah.

Love God, love others. And choose the silver bar.

Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Christian Living · faith

Consume

Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Consume: do away with completely; destroy.

The word that came to my spirit is consume. In the words of DC Talk…

Anytime, anyplace you invade my space you consume me.

But, as obvious as the meaning is, it’s also a bit abstract. In Deuteronomy God being a consuming fire is used in correlation with being jealous (of other gods) and in judgment defeating Israel’s enemies. However, there’s something else God is pointing me to.

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe

Offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe.

Consume leads me to look at worship. Hebrews 12:28 is very interesting.

  • Be grateful (for receiving an unshakable kingdom)
  • Offer to God acceptable worship
  • Do so in reverence and awe

For our God is a consuming fire.

In English another way to construct these verses is to say: Because our God is a consuming fire, be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and offer to God acceptable worship in reverence and awe.

The striking statement here is to be grateful and offer proper worship. Because He’s a consuming fire. He is holy and He desires we worship in spirit and in truth (see John 4:24.)

God doesn’t accept any ol’ kind of worship. This is where my differences with many other believers is evident. I don’t participate in Easter egg activities or Christmas trees and the usual festivities. I’m not saying it’s technically salvational, however, I am saying that YHVH demands worship His way. Period. Yes, there’s grace as we’re growing in knowledge and wisdom. But as we know better we should do better.

Create in me a pure heart.

God accepts worship in His ways with right intention. It will not bless Him if I’m offering worldly ways and a sin laden heart. A bitter mind doesn’t honor Him. If there’s blatant unrepentant sin in my life I cannot offer a pleasing aroma of worship to Abba.

I cannot truly draw near to God with a bad heart. I must allow Him to be a consuming fire to my flesh and its desires. He is a holy, jealous God.

I can sense the tug in my spirit to draw near. Drink living waters even more deeply. Worship with my life. But it will consume me. Completely. What’s left is Him shining through.

Today, I want to encourage you to draw near with a humble heart. Be consumed. Let Him remove everything that displeases Him. Jealousy. Rage. Pride. Selfishness. Bitterness. Lust. Greed. Laziness. Perverse speech. Whatever it may be.

Our God is a consuming fire. Worship Him with your whole heart. Be thankful for the blessings He’s given you and His promises. Fear Him. Let the refiner’s fire purify.

Please join me in praying, “Take me. Break me. Make me. Use me.”

Psalm 51:1-10 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Christian Living · faith

7 Billion Plus

Psalm 2:8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

The other day I was listening to a worship album from 2001, released when I was in Bible college. It’s called The Father’s Embrace by Stoneleigh Worship Band. Closing out the live worship recording is a reading of all nations of the Earth. With soft music playing in the background a man and woman simply read every country on the planet for keeping them in prayer before God. I haven’t listened to this in many years. And, I still cannot hear it without weeping.

The Father’s Heart.

Sometimes I can feel the Father’s heart with great depth and intensity. I’m not someone who’s ever felt they’d be a missionary. However, there are times I am led to pray for His presence and protection of the Saints abroad.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

One of the most moving chapters in the Bible for me is John 17. This is the prayer of Jesus (Yeshua) right before He is arrested. He knows He is about to die. This is His heart, raw in emotion and powerful in spirit. What is the theme?

Unity.

The enemy wants to divide and conquer. God desires we be one. Going back, at the end of the list of nations on that album, a woman offers a brief prayer.

“Lord Jesus, this is your world. Get your inheritance.”

Every time I hear that my spirit is pierced. It bears witness with intensity. I am reminded of what my brief life is all about. It’s not about me. This culture is bombarding us with the latest, greatest gadget we “need.” But we aren’t called to collect things or compete with our neighbors. We are called to love God, love others. All others.

We are living to do our Father’s business, not our own.

Today, I pray you know with greater depth why you’re here. Life isn’t about just having a nice career, beautiful family, large bank account, and a comfortable lifestyle.

There are over 7 billion people on this planet. So many are lost, hurting, and lacking basic necessities. Never forget your purpose. There is a world in need. The laborers are few, the harvest is many (see Matthew 9:37.)

Go.

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Christian Living · faith

It’s Your Burden but it’s Not

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

*This blog is something I’m writing out of obedience to God. I made a decision months ago to be more cautious in what I say, especially concerning others. I never want to divulge something personal at the expense of a blog. However, life offers experiences with lessons. Some powerful ones. God works through the everyday. Our relationships. Our choices. And these can be a great sharpening tool for one another. So I’m sharing this because I know it will help some people. This might even be a huge lightbulb moment for someone.

Intercession.

A friend sent me a video called Healing the Burden Bearer. I’m what you might call a burden bearer type personality. My giftings, which line up with my calling, involve being perceptive and discerning. I’ve received words of wisdom and knowledge before. I am a sensitive person that feels things deeply. ENFPs like me tend to be intuitive. God has used this in praying for others.

Before I go further I want to be clear.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

There is only one person listed in scripture with the actual office of intercessor. That’s Messiah. However, the Bible does speak of praying for one another.

Having said that, God uses me to pray for others. I’ve needed to learn that sometimes I’m not feeling something of my own. I’ll repeat this a different way. Some of you feel things that are the heart of the Father and other’s struggles. It is for prayer. For those that pray a lot for people, you might relate to the beautiful feeling of release as you feel the burden lift and God’s peace comes. Just as we can feel a burden, we can also feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit when He ministers to someone.

There is a particular situation I am going to use here as an example. I’m doing so respectfully and with tenderness.

There’s been a couple of people my husband and I have been praying for. We really care about them. Sadly there’s been some issues. We are believing God at some point for His restoration. Recently I’ve felt especially led to pray for one of them.

One day I felt a strong fear during my devotions and prayer time. It was unsettling. Then, all of a sudden I felt an anger. I actually blurted out, “This was once a good relationship. A lifetime one is ruined. Full peace was right there and they made yet another foolish choice. After all I’ve done. All they had to do was…”

That hit me out of nowhere. I don’t normally think or feel like this.

I was feeling their burden.

I took this to prayer. God showed me that what I was sensing was their struggles. And I need to get before Him to do my own heart check.

“I’m letting you feel this so you learn and understand and also to pray for them. You are who I want to use to bless them through prayer.”

To be honest, at first I didn’t want to take the burden. I genuinely care but I have my own things I’m seeking God on. I’ve prayed in the past for them. But it’s a new season now.

He’s teaching me how to balance this. How to feel Abba’s grief for others while being at peace and enjoying life. I have tangibly felt the Ruach (Spirit) grieved over this. And this is how I can repay the damage.

I feel their hurt. Fear. Anger. And how they fight apathy. It’s a humbling thing. I can’t articulate the level of humbling it is to feel someone’s struggle, especially when you know it involves you. Just as I can also sense my husband’s hurt and frustration in the vulnerable moments of our marriage. Or a friend’s deep pain from a terrible trying season.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

When we truly understand where a person is at, it brings empathy.

It’s human nature to sit back and say, “Oh well. Not my issue. Deal with your choices.”

But we often don’t have a full picture of why. What are they going through? What have they been through? Why are they doing what they’re doing?

James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mercy triumphs.

This is a hard subject to type on. For some this will resonate deeply, for others it won’t matter much.

Today, what I desire to leave you with is the knowledge that the Ruach is very real. He can be grieved. He is our comforter. We are all members of one body. When one hurts, we all do. God doesn’t want us to go through life alone. People need people. And sometimes He will use us to help someone-in a big way or small way.

Take the time to pray for others. I assure you it carries more power than it may appear. Sometimes it takes years to see the fruit of our prayers.

For myself in this situation here, my burden is for a short season. I feel kind of like I am called to spiritually drop a few atomic bombs in the battle. To pray in the Spirit. I am not meant to do long, gruesome hand-to-hand combat.

So many need God’s healing, deliverance, comfort, and wisdom. Take the time to lift up those around you to Abba, however long you are led to. God will give you the burden and the release. The fruits are wonderful and even eternal.

Christian Living · faith

Letter

Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

I saw a post scrolling through Facebook that said:

Do yourself a favor and write a letter to yourself from God today. You might be surprised.

So, I decided to do just that. Write a letter to myself from God. This ended up being one of the most healing things I’ve ever done. I’m sharing this for those that may need it.

Dear Laurel,

You are so precious to me. I knew you and had you in mind before you even existed. I chose you.

Yes, I see your sins and flaws. I understand you better than you do of yourself. I already know every mistake you’ll make and every sin you’ll commit. Do you know just how merciful I am? I am full of love and mercy. I will always accept a broken and contrite heart. You are forgiven by the blood of Messiah.

I know this world isn’t fair. All of humanity is broken and in need of my love and restoration. Just as you’ve been hurt, you’ve hurt others too. Give what I have given to you. Give my love, my mercy, my grace, and my hope. In me there’s always hope.

You are my daughter in whom I’m well pleased. I love you and died for you just as you are. But, I love you too much to leave you that way. I desire to use your life for my glory.

Laurel, I notice you every second in every day. I’m closer than you can understand. I am good and I desire to give you good. Trust me.

Stop carrying burdens not meant for you. I will carry the burdens. And I will carry you. When you pray, do so knowing I always answer. In my ways and my timing.

Rest in my love. Seek me daily. I’m refining you and shaping you into the image bearer I’ve called you to be.

Most of all, keep your heart tender and full of love and kindness. You are eternally mine.

Abba.

Christian Living · faith

A Long, Thankful June

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This blog took a while. At least longer than usual. I initially was writing one titled Broken from a blog challenge I saw. But that fell, surprisingly, flat. For anyone that knows me at all, brokenness has been a desire and theme in my life. And I don’t just mean the “my heart is shattered” kind. I’m referring to the “what wretched sinner I am.”

Speak to me God.

So, I was sitting before Abba in prayer, Bible reading, and then silence very early. As a thunderstorm was charging in, I was quieting myself.

What should I write about? Should I even write today?

Give thanks.

That was the word that finally came to my spirit.

Well, I already do that.

My response to God.

Wait. Do I already give thanks? I think I do. I’m pretty sure. Hmm. Maybe. Of course I do. I post on it.

I don’t. Not like I should.

And 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is playing over and over in my spirit.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

I don’t know about you but that’s easier said than done. It’s tough enough sometimes squeezing out “thank you” when I’d rather pout. But thanking God in all circumstances. In everything. Really?

I’ve read this verse many, many times. This one is almost nonstop circulating on social media during the Thanksgiving holiday season in the fall. And I’ve done the 30 day thankfulness challenge many Novembers.

But it’s June. This is the toughest month of the year for me as historically there’s been a lot of trauma and heartache. I pretty much grin and bear it during this season.

This year though is different. I feel more hopeful.

And…thankful.

My mother passed away 5 years ago. I’m not thankful for that. However, some of the other painful experiences during this season have grown me. By leaps and bounds. I am not who I was.

Thank you God.

I don’t carry the unbearably heavy weight of bitterness. Or shame. I don’t have a sense of dread. I feel stressed and overwhelmed more days than I want to, but I still see the beauty in my life.

This morning I was grateful to get a front row seat to nature’s theatre. I sat through this thunderstorm realizing just how much I have to be thankful for. I see in my life now the things that were once seeds of prayer.

I am truly blessed.

So, rather than turn off the computer and set my phone on silent all month, I’m doing something new. And better.

June is now my “thankful” month. I will take the time to notice the little things in my world that are a blessing. I am thankful for so much. And I’ll say it.

Will you join me? Make a decision to thank God in the little things-not just the big stuff. Will you tell others what you’re thankful for in them? Most of all, will you give the Father daily thanks? Just for Him being who He is. For His love, faithfulness, kindness, mercy, grace, wisdom, deliverance, provision, healing, and eternal life.

If you want big, start here. Be thankful with the little. Start now.

1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 28:7 ESV The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 140:13 ESV Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Philippians 1:3 ESV I thank my God in all my remembrance of you

Christian Living · faith

Toolbox

James 1:23-24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

This blog post is the result of a word that came to my spirit: toolbox. And, a conversation I had with someone that I was reminded of.

Regarding James 1:23 that I listed above, I really want to be a doer of the Word. Tremendously. Recently I’ve been asking God to-yes you’re going to read this right-discipline me in the areas I need it in.

Hebrews 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Discipline isn’t fun. It can hurt pretty darn bad at times. But it shows we are not illegitimate; that we are accepted by Abba. I want to grow and be accepted by Him. I didn’t have a great upbringing. I don’t know what it feels like to have a parent consistently proud of you. This is a very intimate piece of information I’ll share here. Largely because I haven’t experienced that, one of the things I look forward to in eternity when I see Yeshua (Jesus) face to face is Him saying, “Well done” and seeing a smile of Him being proud of me.

I’m a miserable wretch of a sinner.

Believe me, I get that there’s nothing about me technically for God to ever be proud of. But by the blood of Messiah and His grace, I am trying. I keep pressing on.

Why this is titled Toolbox.

So, as I’ve been seeking God regarding refining and maturing He showed me something. Actually, this was something He spoke to me on a while ago but I’m working through the last little bit of it.

The tool of restraint.

This is the tool, largely due to past trauma, that I needed. When I would get rattled or felt overwhelmed I tended to lack restraint regarding my words especially. I’ve been used to feeling invalidated from childhood and life situations. My sons’ (now 2 are officially on the autism spectrum) behavioral challenges are extremely invalidating. But that’s another blog for another time.

God finally spoke to me about it…

You’ve been misjudged and misunderstood because you lack this. You need this tool of restraint or you will be held back from the fullness of your calling. It’s preventing blessings.

Each thing we learn is a tool we gain for our toolbox. It equips us. As we are obedient and faithfully seek and serve, we gain new tools along the way if we choose to.

I’ve also learned that holiness involves restraint. We can’t be holy as He is unless we know how to properly handle what we’re allowed to.

Holiness is seen more in how we measure what we have access to versus just avoidance.

We can eat but it’s a matter of what and how much. We can speak, but too much or the wrong words is sinful (gossip, lying, coarse joking, perverse words etc.) We can work, but we must rest too.

Tying it together.

God has shown me that there’s no condemnation in Christ. We aren’t disciplined by Him to be shamed. God is offering us a tool for our toolbox. But we must decide if we’ll receive it and use it. Being a doer and not just a hearer involves our toolbox.

We are to read the Word, pray, serve, and follow His instructions if we’re serious about emulating Messiah.

The toolbox helps us become like Christ. It gives us what we need to be a proper “doer.”

Today, I want to encourage you to let God discipline and refine you. Allow Him to give you the tools necessary to be a proper doer. Listen to the nudges of the Holy Spirit. Don’t grieve Him.

The toolbox is a wonderful thing. As I have learned, it is to be embraced. The more tools we have, the more we can do. And be.

Looking into the mirror of God’s word and letting it reflect who we are is unpleasant. But it builds our toolbox. Believe me, it’s worth it!

James 1:22-27 ESV But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Christian Living · faith

The Whale

Jonah 1:3a But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

I received a message from someone regarding one of my blogs. They thanked me for being, in essence, obedient to doing God’s calling.

I paused. For quite a while. I ended up deep in thought.

The long road.

It’s been a long road for me to get here. This isn’t even remotely how I thought God would use me when I was younger. Well, not really. I could see some writing. But not this style. Not as I am. Not with where I’m at currently-emotionally and spiritually (that’s a good thing as I’ve matured.) And when I finally realized how God wanted to use me I ran at first.

Psalm 139:7-8 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

You can’t run from God.

But I attempted to. The Bible college version of Laurel saw “ministry” differently. I didn’t foresee the lessons I needed to learn, the pain I’d experience, the mistakes I’d make or my son’s disability. The work it takes to create a successful marriage. What spiritual warfare is all about. What it means to forgive and love.

There isn’t something or someone specific I dislike. I just struggled with speaking truth as openly as I do. Transparency for me doesn’t come with the ease it appears to. Seeking brokenness daily isn’t comfortable. I don’t want the responsibility. It’s very sobering. Idleness is tempting. But He’s the Potter, I’m the clay.

I’ve had to face some things that were extremely difficult for me. Some of the pain I’ve experienced has been self inflicted. I was humbled in the belly of a whale because I ran. I ran from fully surrendering to God. I ran from His refining. I ran from His voice. So I was sent a whale. Perhaps several.

I’m thankful God sent them. It changed me. And taught me that there’s no sense in running. Beyond that, there’s a purpose outside of me, myself, and I.

Jonah wasn’t sent to Nineveh for his benefit. We’re not sent for ourselves.

Today, I want to speak to the person that’s running from their calling. I don’t just mean ministry position. I am referring to being an image bearer. Exuding the fruits of the Spirit. Being totally surrendered. Obedient to His commands.

Somebody (maybe many somebodys) are relying on you to do your part. Someone needs to read what you write. Listen to what you sing. Eat what you cook. Wear what you sew. Use what you fix. Live in what you build. And pray by the example you show.

You are needed and play a vital role in God’s plan. Take it from me, the whales are no fun. Learn to say, “Here am I. Send me.” Whatever that looks like. Surrender to His will. It’s the best place to be, even when it’s tough.

Psalm 119:1-8 ESV Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

Christian Living · faith

The Needed Enemy

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Yesterday’s blog had some raw emotion. Two of my three boys are now officially on the autism spectrum. This is not the life I expected for my boys nor myself. My husband and I don’t have family to help out. It’s draining. This morning I was unloading to God.

I have a heart to serve. I do that when I can. I know my life is in Abba’s hands. Believe me, I get that life doesn’t revolve around me. But some days I wish I had more than I do. Thankfulness is a battle. And I’m not referring to things.

People need people.

There’s balance between moving through life saying, “What about me” and giving until you’re spent and you/your family is neglected.

This is the gist of my interaction with God today.

Me: God, please change this.

Him: My grace is sufficient.

Me: I need…

Him: Trust I’ll provide.

Me: But there’s been so much disappointment in my life.

Him: My ways are higher.

But this is where I’m focusing the blog on today…

Me: This is too hard.

Him: With me it’s not. You can’t be victorious unless you have an enemy to face.

Like in exercising, in order to build muscle you have to put strain on them.

Resistance brings strength.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

I don’t get stronger with “easy”, comfortable, and looking at myself. You don’t either. We get stronger when we face difficulties head on with God.

Maybe you’ve seen the meme on social media that says, “Don’t tell God how big your mountain is. Tell the mountain how big your God is.”

We are not told to describe how big and bad the mountain is for it to move. We are instructed in scripture to speak to it in faith.

Mark 11:23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Today, I want to encourage you to go through it. Whatever “it” is. Like that children’s song Going on a Bear Hunt…
Can’t go over it, Can’t go under it, Can’t go around it, Got to go through it!

You can’t be a victor without having victory over something. You can’t win unless you participate. And you can’t get stronger until your exercise your faith. Our faith is exercised in the face of fear. Doubt. Trials. Pain. And that mountain.

2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Now, go through it!