No Longer Formless, Empty and Dark

hqdefaultBefore God got involved in creation, it was three things: formless, empty, dark.  Before God got involved in my life, it was formless, empty, and dark. But in creation, and with us…
…what was formless, God formed: Earth, “God said, ‘Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth…Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.’”  (Genesis 1:6-9) You,For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) You weren’t bought at Wal-Mart.  You weren’t made in a lab.  You weren’t a bid on EBay. The hands of the Almighty God, in your mom’s belly, formed you together. And NO life is created accidentally, and EVERY life is created intentionally.
…what was empty, God filled: Earth, I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—” (Genesis 1) You,Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) People have emptied you because every time they assaulted you, manipulated you, used you, cheated on you, rejected you, hurt you…they emptied you.  People empty; God fills.  God is the author, the finisher and the filler of life.  If he can fill a planet with life, He can fill lives with life.  If you’ve confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you are not empty despite what people have done to you. You are solid, and filled to overflowing with the glory of God!
…what was darkness, God lit: Earth, God said,’“Let there be light,’ and there was light…he separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1)  You, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) On the third day, God said let there be light, and it was lit!  And on the day you accepted Jesus into your heart, you were lit! You no longer need to run in the dark.  You light up every room, house, church, office, prison, hospital, rehab, store, and ‘hood you walk into.  The light of Jesus in you, OUTlives, OUTlasts, OUTpowers the dark around you. And I would rather walk in God’s light than run in my dark!

So in closing, just like the Earth around you that you see, and the life-transformed that you are, the case is made that what was formless is formed; empty, filled; and dark, lit.  I hope this encourages someone today!

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New Year’s Restitution

imageResolutions. I don’t make them anymore, because I don’t keep them! But the New Year is a good reset button, and keeping in step with that, I am praying for restitution. By definition, restitution is, “the act of giving back something that has been lost or stolen.’ No sooner did I look up that definition than I recalled a bible verse where GOD declares the same. In Joel 2:25, God says, “I will give you back what you lost.” That’s restitution! Instead of resolving to gain something on my own in the New Year, I am praying for God to restitute something I lost last year. As I reflect on last year, there was some connectivity and bonding lost with some family members. As I head into 2017, I am praying for God to restore that. If God said this in the bible 4000 years ago, and I believe in the bible and I believe in God, then if it is His will, I believe God can bring restitution. So that’s what I’m praying for! What did you lose in 2016? A comeback? A battle? Joy? Health? Dependability? Commitment? Church? A relationship? Perhaps there are things we lost in 2016; but with God, restitution can be found in 2017. Furthermore, the bible says in James 4, “You don’t have ’cause you don’t ask.” So in 2017, I’m asking for restitution!

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New Year. Let’s Go.

img_0854“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This is one of my favorite verses for a new year. Actually, it’s a verse, a life-goal, a mental-health axiom, and a prayer, all in one enchilada! Lemme break it down…

*For I KNOW*
God knows. God knows already what 2017 has for you and me. The bible teaches that he’s recorded our days before our very first day. So if God KNOWS what 2017 holds, I release myself from being a predictor of it. I don’t need a horoscope, an appointment, a dream-weaver, or a fortuneteller. I have everything I need in God KNOWING and I don’t have to pay him. Rather, HE paid his life for me. He made me, He knows me, I trust Him.
*They ARE Plans For GOOD*
Does this mean that in 2017 bad things can happen? Yep. And if I were a betting man, I’d say bad things probably will. But with God, and this promise, bad can happen but GOOD can come from it. How? By sticking with God. When we stick with God, God can bring good from bad. How can He do that? He’s God, and He is love and that is what love does. God already wrote my story. Until my story ends, it doesn’t mean I won’t have bad chapters, it just means bad chapters will eventually end in good results. God is good, and if we are with God, we are held in His goodness.

I hope this encourage you as you head into your new year – God has good plans in store!

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Love Suffers Long

af76dcdfed62fbab589d6db4571f75eaLove suffers long,” 1 Corinthians 13:4

I sat in my car before going up to the hospital room. I was praying God would give me the words to say, and the ears to listen. On the radio was a message about love. Not the romantic love between you and someone you are fond of. Not the tough love, where you detach and put up boundaries. Not the neighborly love, where you love people the way you love yourself. Rather, the kind of love where someone doesn’t deserve it or can’t return it. The King James bible calls this, “Love suffers long,” (1 Corinthians 13:4) What that means in our everyday vernacular is…
LOVE: This “love” I have for you, is an attachment. I am attached to you, so I can’t act like I don’t see you. I can’t drown out my love for you. This love can’t abandon you. Because we are attached, via blood, covenant, or conviction.
SUFFERS: This “suffering” I have for you, is willing to join you where you are, no matter where it is. In my suffering, I become blind, deaf, mute to what you’ve done or are doing, and my HEART is my guide for you. My mind and body may struggle, but my heart is still in this.
LONG: This “long” I have for you means I can’t put a timer on it. I have to take off my watch, and surrender it to God’s WILL. If I have to love you for a considerable amount of space, it means I won’t be too far away. If I have to love you for a considerable amount of time, it means I will be patient for you.

God inspired Paul to write “love suffers long” because it’s what God does for us everyday. He always loves us, He suffered for us, and He will do it for all time and space from Genesis 1 to never-ending. God inspired Paul to write this because it is what love does when one doesn’t deserve love back, and God knows, that WITH HIM this kind of love IS POSSIBLE. You can’t love that person back who doesn’t deserve it…and you don’t need to. If you make yourself available to him, God will through you. How do I know? I did it that whole day in the hospital room for someone who couldn’t return it. Listen, I’m not that great. I’m not that nice of a person, I can be moody, hypocritical and insecure. So I avail myself to God who is 100% pure, possible love. I get out of the way, and let His love suffer long, through me.

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Unexpected, Unfinished Business”

img_0547Three years ago, we were expecting to see the bathroom tile-layer around 9am. Instead, we got a phone call. He wasn’t coming. He had suddenly died. The last thing I had said to him the day before was, “Thanks for everything you’re doing.” He would die that night. Several times that day, I glanced at the unfinished bathroom and thought of him. I also thought of its unfinished business and the bigger picture it represented. A picture that includes all the business we’d leave unfinished, if we died unexpectedly. I don’t know if you have unfinished business with a relationship? A promise? A commitment to Jesus? An apology? Today is the day to do everything. Yesterday can’t be repeated, tomorrow can’t be predicted. Today is the day. Today is the day to forgive. Today is the day to love. Today is the day to bless. Today is the day to know where you’re going if you don’t get tomorrow. Of course we’ll all have unfinished business when we die. But hopefully it’ll just be something like unfinished bathroom tile. Today is the day to finish…

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Losing My Diamond

img_0414I remembered the last place I had my wedding bands and diamond engagement ring. It was Wednesday, December 4, 2013, early afternoon, in this pictured parking lot. So the next morning, before the stores opened, I retraced my steps to the lot. Sure enough, scattered on the ground, were two of the wedding bands. However the solitaire diamond engagement ring of fourteen years and the other wedding band were nowhere to be found. I called the managers of the shops in the plaza. They were kind and understanding. I called the police to file a missing-property report, and the empathizing operator said she’d say a prayer. I knew as I prayed for my rings’ return, a blog post would ensue–but had hoped it would be an answered-prayer post. It’s not. What do you do when you lose something special? I learned there are two things to pray and one thing not to do. The one thing I wouldn’t do is let this mess become everybody’s drama. It’s my carelessness, my ring, my loss. And though I shared it with a few people, I kept boundaries on my emotions and perspective on my circumstances. Two things I prayed were, “God, please help me find these rings,” and “God, if it’s not meant to be found, please let it be in the hands of someone who needs it.” I wish I had a happy ending. But if you’ve lost something recently (I emphasis “someTHING” not “someONE”) I pray this encourages you today.

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A Serious Christmas Consideration

passionotchrist_113pyxurz-600x450-150x150In the Christmas narrative, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, I am willing to accept whatever he wants”  Mary said this after an angel told her she would become pregnant and that Jesus the Christ, would be her son.  Mary’s response is very profound.  She was young, single, poor and a virgin.  The odds were against her, she could have said, “I can’t.”  But Mary had faith: she believed God’s message, though she could not see God;  she accepted the impossible, though it did not make sense.  The faith in Mary’s heart was greater than the logic in her mind.  And by faith, Mary would witness the birth of her son; and by faith, she would witness the death of her Savior.  Here’s the consideration:  what am I faithful to?  The gifts: my family, my husband, my life? Or the giver of my gifts: our God.  Several years ago,  my “mom #2,” Betty, lost a gift…her daughter.  Lisa was a Navy Academy cadet, on her way to the Army-Navy football game, when she was killed in a tragic car accident.  I’ve been one of many inspired-spectators to Betty’s faith.  Betty walks through pain but lives by faith. To this day, Betty continues to walk by faith with God. Never afraid to ask Him “why,” but never to give up on her faith and leave Him.  This Christmas, I pray we declare in our hearts what Mary (and Betty) have declared in theirs,  “Lord, I am your servant and I am willing to accept what you want.”  That whatever God’s calling you to do by faith, that your faith will triumph!

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What If God Had 12 Days of Christmas

img_9876What if God had “12 Days of Christmas” that He (our True Love) gave us? What would that look like? Here’s my little take, and it doesn’t include maids of milking!

 

On the 1st day of Christmas…God gave love.
“Who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

On the 2nd day of Christmas…God gave One.
“…but God is one.” Galatians 3:20

On the 3rd day of Christmas…God gave light.
“…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

On the 4th day of Christmas…God gave his spirit.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

On the 5th day…God gave a door.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…” John 10:9

On the 6th day of Christmas…God gave a shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

On the 7th day of Christmas…God gave bread.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger…” John 6:35

On the 8th day of Christmas…God gave resurrection.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25

On the 9th day of Christmas…God gave the way.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

On the 10th day of Christmas…God gave a vine.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

On the 11th day of Christmas…God gave hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…” Romans 15:13

On the 12th day of Christmas…God gave peace.
“For he himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14

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Three To-Do’s for the Christmas Blues

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-image34413435Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But this time of year can also yield bouts of depression, or “blues” for people. I’ve had the Christmas blues before; and it’s not that I wasn’t thankful for Christmas because I was. Rather, I had thankfulness and sadness at the same time. If you are having the blues, here are 3 things I’ve done. Again, I am not a professional, just a girl on a journey, sharing her story.
1) Consider Christian counseling in December. If you go once a week, that equates to four sessions. It’s probably the best Christmas gift you could give yourself because you are giving yourself the gift of release and peace. Don’t have the resources this time of year? Then when asked what you want for Christmas, tell them a 4-pack counseling session. If it’ll bring joy to you, it’ll bring joy to them to give it.
2) Go to Church. One of the hardest things to see is someone who tells me that can’t go to church because they’re sad. This can not be! The FIRST place we should run to in our sadness is God’s hospital. There is a supernatural, healing, holistic experience awaiting you that ONLY God can offer. Yes you will have to miserably drag yourself there, but I promise, you will leave better than you came.
3) Give. Give, give, give, give, give. Give old clothes to the homeless, give donations to your church, give time to the elderly, give free babysitting to a single mom, give volunteer hours somewhere. It’s true that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I would also add: more healing. It’s the ultimate paradox: giving away is filling up. And that’s just what an “empty” soul needs–a fill-up.
I hope this encourages someone today. Merry Christmas, may you know His peace.

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Prison Chain Reaction

img_0437Last night I got to go to prison with our CBG God-Behind-Bars team, and tonight I get to go back. You might think it’s nuts that I love being there. I wish I could explain why to you, but I’m still trying to understand why myself.  So last night, I was praying and thinking how I could pitch a reason why these women should invite someone else.  I know the biblical reasons, and the reasons we give non-inmates. But what is the incentive–if at all–to have one prisoner invite another prisoner to a church service in a prison?  Two words: chain reaction. By definition a chain reaction is: a reaction that results in a product necessary for the continuance of the reaction.  In the bible, Paul experienced a prison chain-reaction. While he was in prison with Silas, they introduced the JAILER, (yes, the jailer, i.e., warden!) to Jesus, who introduced his entire household (yes, ENTIRE household) to Jesus. Now that’s a chain reaction–because in Heaven, right now as I type this is Paul, Silas, the jailer, his family, his family’s family, his servants, his landscaper, his babysitter…!  And where did it start? In JAIL! These girls have walls AROUND them, but they have wide-open spaces in their hearts for Jesus to work THROUGH them. They have a freedom IN them to start a chain reaction that won’t change their exact location but WILL change somebody’s eternal destination!  If you have Christ in your heart, you have the greatest gift of all, available to all, to share with all, til all have heard!  May the chain-reaction start with screwed up people like you, me and them! 

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