Enemies

Who is your enemy? Maybe you don’t have one. Take a minute to give God thanks for that. But maybe you have one. Either you made someone your enemy or they made you theirs. These are tough seasons. Everything in you wants to fight the enemy OR get even with the enemy OR get others to align with you against the enemy OR compromise your integrity for the enemy.  Several years ago, I had one. I had someone against me, who hurt me. And you bet my instinct was to do everything I just mentioned above. It was a tireless, daunting, full-time mental-job to work against my instinct and do as God would do…love them. Jesus said to love your enemies. If that isn’t a fleshly-contradiction, I don’t know what is! But it doesn’t matter if it’s a contradiction or in opposition to our instinct, God said do it. Because He’s mean? No. Because he modeled it at its worst, and love always wins. Jesus LOVED his enemies that betrayed, beat, whipped, abandoned, slapped, spit, nailed and murdered him. And HE WAS HUMAN with instincts, but He did not serve them. There’s an old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” What if we give that an addendum? “Keep our friends close and our enemies close…because Jesus did and in the end, love wins.

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How to Keep TRYING

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Don’t Stop Praying
God Hasn’t Stopped Listening

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.”
Psalm 17:6

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Turn It Down For What?

I was listening to a radio program about noise vs. silence in our everyday lives.  It got me thinking, hence this post where I download my learnings.  By and large, we choose noise. Today, for example, I chose the noise of iTunes when I worked out. I chose the noise of “Mike and Mike” when I made breakfast for the boys. I chose noise when I decided to listen to the radio program that inspired this post.  I chose noise when I put the TV on in the background as I put away groceries. I think I’ve made my case.  And Jesus chose noise too. He chose to be in the noisy Temple when they turned it into a Festival Flea Market. He chose noise when He walked into a town, unwanted or unexpected. But in as much as Jesus chose noise, He also chose silence (if you want verses that back this up, email me). Which, of course, got me thinking. If Jesus chose silence, should I? I think I know the answer. There’s an old saying, “Silence is golden.” Guess what? Heaven is golden too! Maybe I’d have more moments of Heaven on Earth, if I chose more times to be silent in them…

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When We Have
Bouts of Doubt

Mass shootings, hurricanes, earthquakes…all in a short span can make the most seasoned of Christ-follower doubt God. Today I was thinking about some of the greatest biblical heroes, who ironically doubted Christ too:  Zechariah (Luke 1), John (Matthew 11), Thomas (John 20), and a Dad with a convulsing child (Mark 5). I specifically chose these because these guys were actually with Jesus Christ.  They had faith by believing AND seeing! Yet doubted.  I think about the two criminals on each side of Jesus on their execution trees. One doubted Christ his whole life, but in his final moment, converted to faith and entered Heaven.  Why didn’t the other criminal? In his last breaths, he not only opted out of faith in Jesus, but doubted and mocked Him to his face.  A couple weeks ago, Pastor David did a message (http://cbglades.com/current-serie?album_id=48), and said it’s OK to ask, “Why?”  Right now, in our world, it’s reasonable to doubt. There have been times I’ve doubted too. When I’ve fought the tempting voice of suicide, I’ve doubted God. God is life, my thoughts are anything but. “God? Are you there?”  But here’s what I know about my bouts of doubt: they’ve NEVER ran God off.  When He came into my heart, He came into my life, and all its doubts.  He’s not surprised, angry, or annoyed by my doubt. He can handle it. And it gives Him mighty miraculous moments to prove Himself faithful. I know you are living, and you might be doubting, but He’s still unconditionally loving–and never doubting–you.

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When I Left Andy

Before I tell you what I did, I want to explain “leaving.” I’m not talking about a casual departure. I’m talking about a bad kind of leaving.  I’m talking about a “leaving” where it leaves a ghostly look on the face and a ghastly feeling in the heart.  So what did I do? In 2007, on a hot summer night in Florida, our family pulled into the garage. I swiftly grabbed my purse and groceries and went inside. There we were: Raul watching TV; DJ playing with his trucks; and me putting away groceries. “Raul, where’s Andy?” I asked. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked, “Didn’t you bring him in?” Raul asserted, “No, I thought you did.” I screamed, “Raul, we left him in the car!!” I ran to the garage, there was Andy in his car-seat in the car in the garage: no light, no sound, no way to be heard, no one to see him. A 2-year old who couldn’t help himself, where no one could help him. With a frozen, fearful countenance, he was tearing from his eyes. This is the bad kind of leaving. Though I doted on Andy for the rest of that night,  I couldn’t part with the fact that I left him. Years later, this begs a question: who’s left you?  Because if someone has left you in the proverbial garage, there is someone who never will… God. God will NEVER leave you. God will NEVER miss the sight of your tears or the sound of your silent cries. God will never close the door on His way to your heart. What I did to Andy, God will NEVER do to you. This world causes pain when it leaves us, doesn’t it? But God is not of this world. It may be human nature to leave. But it is God’s nature to stay. “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:8 ❤️

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Loneliness But Not
Hopelessness

I know people who are lonely right now. They might think I don’t know how it feels to be lonely, but I do.  Because in 2000 and 2010, I was.  During those two seasons, I found someone who got this at a level unmatched by any of us:  Jesus. Hours before He would hang on a cross (a lonely time in and of itself) he would be in unfathomable anguish, by himself. The account of this is in Luke 22, “He withdrew [was alone] about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed…And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly...” Jesus experienced loneliness. But his loneliness was not his hopelessness. Loneliness can be terribly afflicting. And it can look hopeless…but it is not. Death is hopeless. There is nothing that can turn it around. But anything shy of death is hopeful. If we are breathing, we can keep hoping; if we can keep hoping, we can be praying; if we are praying, we can be someone’s answer to their loneliness, and someone can be the answer to ours. That was quite the run-on sentence!  But somewhere in it, I hope it encourages someone. Though Jesus was lonely, He didn’t STAY lonely. He died with friends near the cross and rose with friends at the tomb. If He is in your heart, He is more near to your loneliness than anyone could ever be (you can’t get closer to someone than in their heart). You might be lonely, but you have God, me, and hope. On these, we keep going.

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This Pain Is Not In Vain

Today I was reading about a guy Jesus healed. Normally, the healing would be the inspiration for a post.  But this time, it was something less noteworthy that inspired me:  “One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (John 5:5)  Thirty-eight years.  13,870 days. 332,880 hours.  Many of us have struggled or are struggling. What struck me about this man’s struggle is how long it lasted. What struck me even more was Jesus knew that.  I don’t know if this is going to encourage everyone, but I hope it encourages someone.  Your pain is not in vain. God didn’t forget about your struggle, get distracted by another’s, or lose track of the days you’ve struggled with it. The intersection of this man’s 38th year of struggle with the day Jesus was there to heal it, was planned and purposed with perfection.  I wonder if this man thought on the 13,869th day that he’d never be healed.  But the timing was perfect because Jesus Christ is perfect. If the perfect Savior is in your heart, the perfect Savior is in your struggle. Every. Hour of Every. Day. | This side of Heaven, we won’t always know the point of our pain.  But to some degree, I am comforted that it isn’t wasted. My pain (and your pain) isn’t in vain because we are in the risen hands of a Savior who’s hands had stakes crucify them.  Our pain isn’t in vain because our stories are His victories.

 

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sometimes
there are no words

Sometimes, there are no words. I’m reminded of Job in the bible. In chapter 2, he’s in the middle of a total life-collapse. He’s lost everything. Although we often use this story to illustrate what his friends did wrong, I want to highlight something they did right. In Job 2:13 it says, “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Sometimes, someone you love will go through something and you don’t know what to say or what to do.  In the last few years, whether visiting an ICU, sitting in a grieving family’s home, or speaking at a funeral, I’ve learned to understand Job 2. Like Job’s friends, sometimes, in some moments, we need to be there with our bodies, and not our mouths. Words are wonderful, they can encourage, comfort and lift up. But sometimes, so can silence. Jesus was all about words to heal–but as I’ve gotten to know my Lord more–I’ve discovered He was about a touch or presence, too. If you are comforting someone, don’t be afraid to just be there. If Jesus is in your heart, He is being unconditionally manifested through your touch, your prayers, your quiet presence.

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Hurricanes: On Earth and In Life

This weekend, Hurricane Irma will make its mark somewhere in Florida. On all mental, emotional, financial and physical levels, it’s stressful; laden with “what if’s.” For me, personally, it presents a one-question test:  Heather, do you trust me?  Circle one:  yes | no  The bible says, “The LORD is my strength and my defense,” “In those days when you pray, I will listen,” “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,” “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened,” and “I am with you always.”  Although I believe God can give us more than we can handle, I don’t think He leaves us hanging with it. I believe that when He gives us more than we can handle, WITH Him, we can handle it. Back in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit, Raul was out of town. I was responsible for a baby, a toddler, an elderly loved-one and a recovering addict. I also had no provisions, no electricity, and no water. If God called prior to Hurricane Wilma and itemized all the stress I’d endure, I woulda said, “Find someone else, I can’t.” But that’s why I’m not God. And that’s some hurricane relief. With God, we don’t have to measure out how much we can handle.  We don’t have to worry about leaning on our own strength. We might think we can’t handle anymore…but (thankfully) that isn’t our call.  In every crisis, when WE think we can’t handle anymore, we need to rest in God and let Him make the calls.  I will never look forward to hurricanes, but I look forward to resting in God. He’s in charge of my life, and the hurricanes. He’s in charge of the beginning and ending of every storm.  He knows what lessons we need to learn in them. His hand is upon our lives; His handprint upon our hearts. Trust Him in the hurricane.

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