Thursday, July 29 2021
The Joy of the Lord
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
Finding joy in the Lord is an easy task when life is going well. When the bills are paid, and the pantry is full. When the kids are well, and your spouse is sober. When the job is easy, and the days are light.
But what about when they aren’t? What about the days when there are more bills than money and the panty is looking bare? What about the moments when the kids are sick or your spouse has relapsed? When the job is anything but easy and the days are heavy and painful?
Finding joy in the Lord in these moments can feel like another task on the already long to-do list. Well-meaning Christians quote verses at you like, “Rejoice always in the Lord”. But is that even possible in the middle of the pain and heartbreak?
Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible to find joy in the middle of the chaos and pain and uncertainty of your life. It’s possible to experience peace and comfort right now. It’s not an easy path but it’s a familiar one.
It starts with worship. You don’t have to worship God because of your circumstances. In fact, they might be pretty dismal. But you can always, always worship God for who He is…
Ross Parsely once said, "Worship is the affirmation that God is big enough and strong enough to walk with us through a crisis and make something beautiful out of it.”
God, I’m aching today. I need Your grace. I need Your strong Father-arms wrapping around me. I need to feel you. Meet with me in this broken, messy moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Wednesday, July 28 2021
God’s Plans Prevail
“When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.” – Nehemiah 4:15 (emphasis added)
The enemies of Israel gathered together with a plan to stop Nehemiah and the people from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. But the Israelites caught wind of their plan and Nehemiah quickly mobilized everyone. This brave leader set up guards around his people armed with swords, spears, and bows.
The next verse mentions how God had frustrated the plans of their enemies. Sometimes in our lives, people around us make their plans for us. Maybe a co-worker has determined to get you fired. Perhaps a teacher or professor has it out for you. Maybe a jealous friend is scheming against you.
Whatever the case might be, you don’t have to be afraid. Since you are a child of God, He is constantly working on your behalf. He can easily frustrate the plans of your enemies and give you the strength you need to carry on.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take countermeasures. After all, Nehemiah knew that God could protect the city.
But he still took the time to station guards on the low areas of the wall. Likewise, you might need to take steps to protect yourself. Perhaps you’ll distance yourself from your co-worker or jealous friend. Maybe you’ll switch classes, so you have a different teacher or professor.
Do what you need to protect yourself but also trust that God can thwart the plans of those who mean to do you harm.
God, please help me. My enemy is plotting against me, hatching evil without cause. Rise up and defend me in this very moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Monday, July 26 2021
Rebuilding our spiritual wall.
Our faith journey is often referred to as a battle. To be effective in battle you need weapons. Weapons you know how to use!
On any construction site, you will see a variety of tools. Each with a specific purpose. We know you wouldn’t use a hammer to cut a board.
What tools do we have as believers?
Prayer, worship, intercession, the Word, memorizing the Word, forgiveness, the secret place of the Most-High, tithing, and unity. This, by all means, is not a complete list.
The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are our source of power. All the tools we have are powered by them.
What area is your spiritual “wall” crumbling? What brought it down?
Read Nehemiah 1
Nehemiah went before the Lord, fasting, and prayer before any tools, supplies, directives were given. He sought the Lord first.
Our wall is built on who God is- God is the foundation we build upon.
Grab your tools and let’s get to work!
The first tool- Prayer
Prayer connects you to God and allows His power to flow to us in any situation.
this is the source of ALL wisdom
Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are saved? If you hesitate here, today is the day.
We rebuild our spiritual wall in His strength and His wisdom. This requires 2Chron 7:14 to be real in our lives. Humility and total dependence on our part. The Lord has all we need to rebuild. He will teach us!
What “stones” are missing in your wall?
What do you need to “shore” up and strengthen your wall?
Go back to what brought the wall down.
Journal through this process. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
While rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, there was a sword in their hand.
A sword. Look at Ephesians 6:17. The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!
We must be in the Word and know the Word to rebuild our wall.
Others stood behind the builders with their swords ready to fight for them.
Pray for everyone who is in the process of rebuilding! The enemy would love to distract you from this task! We are reminded in Ephesians 6:18 to “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers.”
Here is rebuilding scripture for you to meditate on.
It is the Lord who arms me for the battle. Psalm 18:39
It is God who gives me the strength to do the work of rebuilding. Psalm 18:32
It is God who gives me Victory and holds me safe from my enemies. Psalm 18:43,48
I will prosper in this work. Joshua 1
God will never leave me. Heb 13:5
God will help me succeed. Nehemiah 2:20
Tuesday, September 01 2020
Of my unborn
Of my broken heart
Of my empty arms
Of my fear, regret, and shame
Of the secret I carry
The cry lies dormant deep below the surface
Like a volcano
Buried under layers
Unbeknownst to others who only see the surface
Cannot let them know
The red-hot searing regret
Boiling in my soul
The surface cracks
Tears, once again, flow
Keeping it “under control”
They will not look too deep
If they could see
Beneath to the deep within
Their judgment would shine
Like fire in their eyes
The look they would give
Confirms my shame
I am no good
Too stained to be cleansed
I see the scene
Removed from their doors
For what example would be set
With this filthy mess in their midst
Head hung in shame
Sure now of all I am due
Judgment, ridicule, and pain
No hope for me
Nothing can be done
The stain is set
The scarlet letter
Written for all to see
So all can keep
Their distance from me
I cannot be set free
There is no forgiveness
Great enough for me
Trying to hold my brokenness together
My pain seeps through the cracks
The red-hot lava pouring
All can now see
The burning in my soul
My hope, my life
I am abandoned
I turn and see
The One who knows
His arms are opened
Not for me. Not for me
Keep this all confined
Plaster on the smile
That will keep this volcano quiet
I cannot let them know
I cannot let it show
So very, very alone
Jesus died for all you see
All but certainly not for me
My sin is too great
The sacrifice I made
Has set the tone
In hiding and alone
The voice of the choice I made
Were told to set me free
It’s my body
It’s just tissue
It’s not alive
It will be over
I can move ahead with my life
Grasping tightly to what I was told
Would be undone if these were wrong
How can I live with what I had done
How can I not see the look
The judgment in their eyes
I see it in my own
I cannot breathe
I was wrong
My arms are forever missing this little one
I shared my testimony as a short story in a writer’s group. There was one who was so angry at me. The regret I expressed, stirred such rage in her.
I realized then that I had challenged her stance. Her belief in abortion. I then learned she had had multiple. She repeated "I am fine", "I am fine." so many times. She wasn’t fine. I recognized the deep pain within her. I had seen in it my mirror and in the eyes of the women who shared their pain with me.
In this short story, I brought to the group my path to healing.
Tolerance was not high on the list in that group. My faith, my healing, my restoration were all shot down, and ridiculed while her views were celebrated.
Her rage towards me was taken as strength of conviction which, in the group's eye, made her right.
In the midst of this story discussion, I recognized the look in another woman's eyes. I watched as the small flicker of hope burned out and she pushed down the pain and shut the door. She never gave me the chance to talk to her. She is still out there. Is she you?
Broken hearts, shame, fear, regret, and feeling so alone
These are the other casualties of abortions.
For every child that is lost
A woman loses a piece of her heart
A man loses a child
The loss of family, of motherhood, of fatherhood
Families broken, never to be made whole
We are told in Matthew 6:14-15
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive you”
Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Not just the small ones, all of them.
If you repent of your sins, Jesus will forgive you. Let go of the notion that until you forgive yourself, you cannot be healed. Jesus did and His sacrifice is enough.
Forgive each one who had a part in your abortion.
The ones who told you about it, who encouraged you to do it, the ones who performed the procedure, the ones who didn’t try to stop you, the one who told someone else,
Whoever comes to your mind, forgive.
Forgiveness may take time.
You may repeat this process again and again.
I know I did.
Ask the Holy Spirit for insight on any others you need to forgive.
Let’s uproot the bitterness we are carrying
Thursday, June 28 2018
We heard the thump. Whatever it was, it hit hard. Stepping out into the deck, we found the answer. A beautiful female goldfinch lay dead. She had not noticed the window for what it was and hit it.
How often have I done the same thing? Just gliding along in life, thinking the way is clear only to be blindsided and knocked down by something that seemed to be an open door but wasn’t.
In Matthew 10, we are told the Father notices every sparrow and that we are not to fear because we have more value than many sparrows.
If our Father pays attention to the birds of the air, why should I be surprised when He responds to what I am doing?
The narrow path is where we are called to walk. Distractions are all around us and things are not always as they appear. We are told to be on our guard for the enemy is prowling about looking for one he can knock off the path. He has done it before, Eve with a piece of fruit, changed her life forever. Peter, fear overtook him and he denied Jesus. I could give you a long list from my life.
The bird was flying and probably saw the sun’s reflection in the window but didn’t notice the glass. This distraction cost her, her life. The enemy wants it to cost us our eternity, our soul.
Be aware of his tactics. If it doesn’t line up with scripture, it’s like the window. It might look like an easier way but eventually, you will hit it and get knocked off the narrow path.
Monday, June 11 2018
When I signed on for the book project centered on forgiveness, I truly thought it would be easy. I don’t hold grudges or hold on to unforgiveness. So I thought.
What I discovered was quite different.
The depths I had buried unforgiveness towards myself was unearthed and laid bare.
Not dealing with it wasn’t forgiveness.
Not talking about wasn’t forgiveness.
Burying down deep to hide it and forget, wasn’t forgiveness either.
I knew what I wanted to write but it was not coming together. I wanted a piece full of kumbaya and good feelings. What I received was a strong word with clear instruction of what I was to write. I played it over in my mind for several days. Trying to figure out what it would look like and how I should do it. How transparent I really needed to be. I asked, “Do I really have to do this, say this, share this?!” Silence. The deafening kind! Then I realized I was trying to put my own spin on what He said. I was uncomfortable with the truth laid bare. I was more worried about what everyone would think than the glory He would receive because of His transforming work within me.
A few hours later and with many tears shed, I finished what I was told to write. I didn’t even read it. I just sent it to my publisher and waited. I also had to share it with my husband. It isn’t just my story to tell, it’s his also. It was written from my perspective but it involves both of us deeply.
It became clear the work God had been doing in me over the past few months was all for this assignment. It was time, He wanted a complete healing of the old wound. I had discovered how much I had buried about my past. How much I held on to and the depth of unforgiveness I had towards myself which spilled over onto my husband and infected every area of my life.
I had to come face to face with this question, “Is the work Jesus did on the cross enough for me, for my sin?”. By holding on to unforgiveness, saying “I can never forgive myself”, I was telling Him it’s not, try again, do more for me, and refusing His sacrifice. I am making little of the cross. Ouch! I was given a picture in my mind. Jesus on the cross, looking right at me and saying “Kate, I did this for you”. The choice to receive, however, is up to me.
Unforgiveness is a prison. By forgiving myself, the chains came off and the door opened. I being once a prisoner am now set free.
Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Forgiveness begins with you. If you forgive yourself of your trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
Luke 7: 36-50
Thursday, May 31 2018
Watching “Master Chef” last night. It was “audition” night. Each home cook had a limited amount of time to prepare their “signature” dish in an attempt to win an apron from one of the 3 judges to be in the competition. I am always amazed at what people make. Often thinking, “I want to eat at their house every night!” What pressure. Everything they do is being scrutinized. Many heard, “it’s too rustic”, “not restaurant quality”, “too simple”, “poor presentation” and the list of what was not to their liking continued. At one point, Chef Ramsey says “Is this dish good enough to be in Master Chef? I am not sure.” To which the home cook replied, “I hope so.” Hope. Had he done enough?
I think many of us are familiar with Gordon Ramsey. His flair for dramatic, drive for perfection and of course, his choice of words. As I watched, I thought of how God views my “signature dish”. My life and what I bring to His Kingdom. Many times I get stuck in the comparison trap. Thinking “I am too simple, to rustic and definitely lacking in presentation finesse”. Listening to the enemy of my soul tell me how disappointing I am to God, I have blown it, and am not worthy to be in His kingdom. I will not be receiving the prize.
I had to take this stance of “I am not enough” and give it a good scrubbing. Remove the layers of limiting beliefs, self-worth, deception and how I view God so the truth can clearly be seen. God doesn’t run His kingdom as a competition, waiting to be impressed by what we do and ready to send us packing when we miss the mark. Everyone is welcome. The door isn’t locked, you just have to open it and walk inside. There are no separate qualifications based on if we are smart, thin, young, elegant, or simple. It is not about our talents but our willingness of laying down our life, picking up His cross and following Him. I don’t have to outperform someone or strive for perfection. I am enough because HE is and I am His! It’s all about Jesus. Jesus said, “Believe in Me.” “I am the Bread of Life”. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Those, my friends, are the necessary ingredients for my “signature dish”, a surrendered life. The prize waiting for us isn’t a place in a competition, it is eternity with our Creator, it’s hearing “Well Done!”
Tuesday, May 29 2018
My garden is a mess. I am amazed at the wildness of it. My once beautiful fenced in patch devoted to an abundance of vegetables is unrecognizable, overrun, and unusable as it is. How did this happen?
Last year I decided not to do any gardening due to my busy schedule. I would enjoy the abundance of others at the farmer's markets. I did not work in my garden. None! I just left it. Throughout the summer I commented on the height of the grass that was growing and the weeds that seemed to be appearing overnight. Still, I did nothing. I missed the raspberry harvest because they were hidden by the jungle. Last fall, I thought, “I should have this tilled for the spring.” I thought the same thing a few months ago but didn’t. Today, I just want to plant a few tomatoes and zucchini and my garden is not ready. Not even close! I am paying for the months of neglect of the space.
I fenced my garden in to protect the space from the hungry critters that roam my yard. Added chicken wire to deter bunnies and a gate to keep it secure. The fence did its job. The fence was not designed to protect the soil.
As I worked in my garden, pulling weeds, I thought of the verse in 2 Cor 10:5, where we are told to take every thought captive. What am I allowing to grow in my mind? Am I focusing on whatever is true, lovely, pure and just? Am I wearing my helmet of salvation? Renewing my mind? I think the enemy comes at us like a weed in our mind. Am I ignoring it? Do I even notice it? Or am I actively digging at it to get all of its roots so it cannot grow back? The grass in my garden has a crazy root system that seems to go on forever. The enemy is prowling about seeking whom he can devour. Seeking where he can send the roots to infiltrate, invade and crowd out what should be growing.
In Proverbs 27:23, we are told: “To be diligent to know the state of our flocks and attend to our herds.” Most of us do not have flocks or herds of animals anymore. But the truth of this remains today, we need to be paying close attention to what we need to be paying close attention to. The flocks and herds were their livelihoods. They had to be on the lookout for predators. Know the terrain they were in and navigate it for the benefit of all they were responsible for.
Fast forward to today. In our jobs, homes, and families, we must be diligent to know our “terrain” so we also can navigate it well. What is the status of our home? Our family? Our finances? We must be on the lookout and recognize a weed from the enemy and pull it out.
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world ( this is the fence to protect you) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ( protect the good soil of your mind and watch what is trying to creep in) that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God ( this is the fruit you are called to bear).
No weed the enemy plants can withstand the Cross. Be diligent and aware.
Weed on, my friend! Weed on!