One Thing

What is the one thing you would do if you had no limitations? Regardless of your bank account, your abilities or capabilities, whether others would think you were too young or too old, no matter how complicated or how simple…what is it that you have been storing up in your heart that you wish you could do?

Is it possible to take one step toward that today? If you have prayed about doing it ‘some day’…and you didn’t get a red flag in your spirit from the Holy Spirit…what is preventing you from taking one step toward that dream in the next 24 hours? I am convinced that we can talk ourselves right out of our destiny. We may be distracted by what might happen if we fail or what others might think. We can completely discount our abilities or our gifts at times.

There are so many times that God said in His Word that He is with us. When Joshua was about to lead millions of people, God’s chosen people, into an unknown land and face many enemies, imagine what thoughts were running through his head! How will they all live? What to eat? How to stand up to the enemy? They’re all looking to me??!! What if I make a mistake? What will they think?

Sound familiar? The scenario may look different but our brain can play the same messages that Joshua heard in his. Just like God said to Joshua in Joshua 1 perhaps God is saying to you today…’the time has come’ (Joshua 1:2). Here’s what we must remember – God is for us! His Word of encouragement is this: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 – NLT). Joshua’s journey began with one step…moving forward in the direction God told him to go.

Remember that as you take one step today toward what you believe in your heart that God is calling you to do. God is with you!

Pattern Disrupters

Routines are good. Knowing what to expect can help us get in and get right to work doing what we are expected to do. Our parents taught us routines. It’s how we work and it’s how we teach our kids to get things done as well.

So what happens when we face change in our routine? It could be a flat tire or an unexpected meeting thrown into the mix of our schedule. Maybe its a field trip with your child and his or her class. Or maybe its a surprise visit from a friend! Regardless of what ‘it’ is – it causes us to snap out of autopilot mode and pay attention to what’s going on around us. These are pattern disrupters and they can all serve a purpose.

Even something as simple as running out of milk in the morning can be a pattern disrupter when it creates an opportunity for us to stop at a convenience store on the way home rather than drive straight home. Perhaps there was someone in the store that God wants you to connect with and you have the chance to speak life into them.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “We can make our plansbut the LORD determines our steps.” Routines are definitely good for us. But we must hold our plans loosely and stay open to what God has in store for us. His ways are always full of purpose!

I Am Not Ashamed

When I was a senior in high school I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with the lead vocal professor for the University of Delaware. The Professor agreed to meet with me once a week that year and coach me in my vocal performance. We worked on Italian arias and other songs that helped build my vocal capabilities. He helped me not only with my vocals but with my confidence in performance.

We had been working together for about 7 months when we wrapped up a session talking about what could possibly be in my future as a career. He knew that I had a passion for singing and he was encouraging me to consider several different directions. When I told him that I intended to pursue using my voice for God he was visibly disappointed and at the end of our time together that day he told me that he didn’t think he could help me any longer.

I was disappointed that he wouldn’t work with me anymore but I also was encouraged. I knew that, at the young age of 17, I had come to the first of what might be many crossroads of faith that I would encounter in life….and on that day…I learned there is a cost for taking a stand for Christ… and it is well worth it!

We ALL face times when we are challenged to stand for what, and more importantly, whom we believe. Romans 1:16 (NIV) should shape and shore up our standard of belief. It is a declaration for sure! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” The power of Almighty God brings salvation through the Gospel, the Good News, to ALL who believe! To you and to me. To our loved ones…and everyone all around the world. And THAT is absolutely worth taking a stand for in this life!

The Pinata

Have you ever felt like you are up at the pinata? First they blindfold you. Then someone puts a pole in your hand, spins you around three times and lets you go…wandering around, waving the pole and hoping you hit the target that is hanging up…usually a hollow paper mache’ animal of some kind that is filled with candy. Of course, if you’re successful and whack the pinata just right, it cracks open and out spills all the candy…the fruit of your labor!

Then there are the days that you feel like you actually ARE the pinata! But that’s a story for another day!

God invites us to follow after Him. There are days when we may feel like we are flying blindly through life…but the truth is when we decide to trust God with our life we are making the very best decision we ever could! Psalm 37:23 says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Every. Detail. See, the energy we put into stressing over how things are going to go and how they will work out takes a lot out of us!

Part of a devotion that I read early this morning said this: “Do not stress about your steps. God always puts them in order.” There was just something so clear about that. He always puts our steps in order. I have seen Him orchestrate the most beautiful message out of an absolute mess. It is one of the many things that God specializes in. Our responsibility is to seek Him. If we will take one step toward God today…He will help us the rest of the way!

Cloud Gazing

Clouds are fascinating to watch. Sometimes they even begin to take on the shapes of animals, angels, faces… Some are so beautiful!…big, white fluffy clouds that slowly pass us by. While others are dark, almost ominous, full of rain and energy that often show itself through lightning and massive storms. Even watching storm clouds can be fascinating.

We aren’t the only cloud watchers. In the Old Testament, the Israelites could follow God’s leading by looking to the cloud by day. The prophet Elijah watched the sky for a cloud to signify that rain was finally going to come in order to alert the king. There was a cloud in the sky the day John the Baptist baptized Jesus and the spirit of God descended from it as a dove.

Hebrews talks about a great cloud of witnesses. And when Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection and spending time with the disciples, Acts 1 gives us the play by play. Jesus was “taken up and disappeared in a cloud”. Verses 10 & 11 tell us “As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’

They were literally saying…why are you standing here staring at the clouds? Someday Jesus is going to return from heaven in the same way you saw him go! From the clouds! I love the promise that He is going to come back and we can know that He will be coming… from the clouds. It’s a great reason to keep looking UP! The last thing Jesus said to His disciples was to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and then to go tell everyone to the ends of the earth about Him.

We should keep an eye to the sky and we must keep telling others about Jesus!

Depression Glass

I have this pretty amber glass bowl. It has a floral design on the outside of the glass that you can feel when you run your finger over it. Years ago when a friend gave it to me she told me it was ‘depression glass’. I was curious to know more. And just what you would think…depression glass came out during the great depression.

In a time when money was scarce and people could barely afford to buy food let alone anything like dishes and glassware glass companies realized people couldn’t afford their hand-blown glass so they began making really cheap glass in pretty colors with designs and practically gave it away! Once the country began making its way out of the depression people didn’t want to be reminded of that hard time so much of the depression glass ended up being thrown away.

Today, depression glass is a popular collectible. Some being handed down. Others found in thrift stores, yard sales and online. So what changed? Perhaps today we just like it because of its unique beauty. If you have a piece of depression glass whether it’s been handed down through your family or you picked it up somewhere, the next time you hold it in your hand, remember that it endured a time when people didn’t know if they would even make it.

When the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God told Joshua in Joshua 4:2-3 to pick one man from each of the 12 tribes and ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’ Those stones of remembrance were set out as a permanent national reminder and a memorial to future generations of the miraculous river crossing.

God knows we have a tendency to forget answered prayers when we get into the next battle. If you’re in a struggle now, or the next time you are, set something as a reminder that you are in the hands of the Great Deliverer! Remember that – you are – and He is!

Proper Alignment

When I started driving, my Dad made sure I knew how to do some vehicle maintenance. He didn’t want me to be stranded somewhere and not know how to change a tire. He taught me preventive maintenance; like, how to check the oil and change the windshield wipers.

One day while we were out on a straight road he told me to loosen my hold on the steering wheel to see if the wheels ‘pulled’ to the right or the left. As the car started drifting toward the side of the road he told me…’that’s a sign that your tires are out of alignment. Getting them properly aligned will add life to your tires…and save you from having to replace them as often.’ Good tips from Dad!

There may have been a time when your body needed a chiropractic adjustment? Something was just out of whack. Wear and tear on our body…just like our tires…sometimes requires us to need a re-alignment! If we don’t get it, our body will continue to try to compensate for the things that are out of order. Eventually, we could find ourselves really hurting.

We may not think of our spirit needing an alignment…but we need one…often! We can get beat up just opening our eyes in the morning. Our enemy wants to throw us off the mark at every turn. We can hit potholes, hit the brakes and at times even hit a wall in our spiritual journey. Every day we need a spiritual alignment. King David humbly prayed this prayer in Psalm 51:10 (NIV) and it is a good place for us to come back to as well. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Aligning our spirit with the Spirit of God will add life to our living.

The Broken

Whether you’ve read The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John….or maybe you are getting to know about the miracles of Jesus by watching the hugely popular series “The Chosen”… you’ll notice it clearly that Jesus didn’t spend a lot of his earthly time with the religious leaders who focused more on appearances than what was in their hearts and judged others according to their stature. Jesus was drawn to the every day people in the communities he visited. In fact, he was most drawn to those who were hurting, sick or injured, the broken.

Jesus is the same today as He was in that day. Not attracted to beauty as the world would call beautiful. What draws the King of Glory to us is not how much money we have, or how we dress, or even how well behaved our children are. The magnetic pull between the heart of Christ and your heart and mine….is our brokenness.

Psalm 34:18 pulls at our heart. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” We are all broken in some way. It’s inevitable because we live in this broken world. When we stop trying to cover up our pain and let Jesus come close He will heal the hurt. He is our rescuer. If you are feeling crushed by the weight of the world today – let Jesus in. He is faithful to His Word. The Lord leans in to our brokenness and rescues us when we are being crushed. Thank God for His promise to you in Psalm 34:18 even if you are still feeling very broken. Keep thanking Him and watch what God does!

The Speed Of God

One of the kindest things someone has ever said to me happened on a trip with a group of friends and co-workers while we were on a retreat. We were walking back to our vehicles after dinner from a restaurant on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and it was farther than I was used to walking. Our group had sort of broken into two groups and I was in the small group of those of us taking the leisurely, slow stroll back to where the vehicles were parked.

I needed to stop for a few minutes and a friend paused with me and said very gently, “would you mind if I waited with you?” I was so moved by his way of showing compassion and care. Not calling attention to my inability to keep pace with the rest of the group. Not making a big deal out of the moment. Just a quiet kindness of waiting alongside me until I was ready to move forward.

He reminded me so much of Jesus in that moment. Think about all the moving parts that God orchestrates around us every single moment! The pace of this world is enormous…and exhausting! There are times that we just need to take a beat. Press pause. Catch our breath. And it is in that moment, if we will listen, we can hear our Savior say…would you mind if I waited with you?…

2 Peter 3:9 kindly reminds us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Whether its a physical walk, an emotional journey, or our story of redemption and how long it takes us to finally say yes to God….we may lose patience in the waiting. But God never does. And it is His kindness that leads us to repentance.

What God Has Allowed

We had been sharing our prayer requests with each other as we do each week during our staff meetings and as we prepared to pray together a colleague, who was visiting with us that day, led us in prayer. And he prayed, ‘God, I pray that you would redeem what you have allowed in my life.’ My heart grabbed a hold of that request that day and I’ve never forgotten it.

Jeremiah 29:11 is clear that God knows the plans He has for us. He declares they are plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us hope and a future. And we know that many times His plans for us take us through dark valleys…the valley of the shadow of death, even (Psalm 23:4). Because we live in a fallen world we are subjected to difficult things. You and I know there are many hardships and trials that we face and those that we love must face and at times…life is just…hard.

What brings us comfort and gives us hope is that God is the Great Redeemer. His promise in Romans 8:28 (TPT) reminds us, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”

So when we find ourselves facing dark days, trying to make sense of senseless things around us and just trying to remember to breathe, it is ok to pray with comfort and with hope…that God would indeed redeem what He has allowed in our life. He promised us that He would….for our good and His glory. We can trust Him.