Thirsty Thursday: Keep Swimming

The 5th & 6th graders needed someone to fill in for their teacher on Sunday morning & I volunteered. They didn’t remember what they were studying last week and the curriculum wasn’t in the room. I listened as they talked among themselves and found an in: MOVIES. I had them name a movie, summarize the plot in one sentence, and share how that relates to the real world, the Spiritual realm. At one point, they were talking all at once and one student quoted Finding Nemo, “Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming.” I was unable to elaborate on that because it was someone else’s turn to speak and before long we were discussing outcasts.

I want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing.

There will be times in our lives when everything goes wrong. You pray about it, you keep being faithful, and things do not improve. Months go by. Years go by. Nothing seems to change. Hardship after hardship rain down on you. You feel like you cannot make it one more day.

You can.

You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

You can overcome.

Do not give up doing good (Galatians 6:9).

Why?

People are watching. You can be living proof that God is bigger than our circumstances. You can be an example of faith. You can show someone else that God is worth trusting (HE IS!). God is using you through your circumstances. The people around you are getting a front row seat to God’s majesty. When good things finally come our way, you can proclaim God’s faithfulness. You can be living proof that God’s word never fails.

Don’t complain (Philippians 2:14).

Even when times are tough, you are being used by God, the Alpha and the Omega, to shape eternity. Eternity, people! How can we complain when we have such an important role that stretches from this life on into the next?

Keep trusting. Keep praying. Keep swimming.

Thirsty Thursday: The Lesson

Sometimes the lessons we think are for others are actually for us.

Cupcake disobeyed and had to be punished. We were in the car and I explained that when we were home, she would be punished. As we were approaching home, I felt like God wanted me to punish Hunny in her place.

Wow! What a great picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross! I thought.

Once home, I whispered to Hunny the plan and he loved it. Pointing people to Jesus is such a thrilling experience. Especially when you know that it is something out of the ordinary.

Cupcake understood that Hunny was receiving her punishment. She didn’t seem moved when Hunny explained that Jesus took our place on the cross. She did not seem effected at all. But that lesson wasn’t for her. It was for me.

It was excruciating to punish Hunny. He had done nothing wrong. Cupcake disobeyed. As he was being punished, I was torn up inside. Afterward, I just cried and cried. Punishing Hunny instead of Cupcake was a picture of what God went through when Jesus died on the cross. Because Jesus was the sacrifice, we always look at it from His perspective. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was flogged, He was spat upon, He had a crown of thorns hammered into His skull, and He was hammered into the cross. But what about God?

Imagine you’re at a trial. A criminal broke into your house, beat the person you love the most within an inch of their life, stole all your possessions, burned your house down, and left your beloved for dead in the burning house. The judge says this person is to be executed. You stand up. “Execute my beloved in their place.”

That isn’t the half of what the Maker of heaven and earth went through so that you could have the chance of an eternal life with Him and freedom. He went through the pain of losing a part of Himself for you.

God loves you.

He wants you.

He went through literal hell for you.

You are worth it to Him.

Thirsty Thursday: Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

Many people I know are turning 30 years old. For some reason, this is a sad prospect to most people. They are no longer considered “young” by our youth obsessed culture and feel that their relevance is slipping. Dreams vanish. Life is over.

I don’t think so.

In Numbers Chapter 4, God chose people who were aged 30 – 50 years old to do one of the most important jobs: breaking down and setting back up the tabernacle. I know what you’re thinking: That sounds boring.

Does it?

These people were moving the holy of holies. They were moving God’s throne on earth. This physical place was where God came to meet with Aaron and his sons, the High Priests. This was where the sacrifices happened. This is where blood atoned for the sins of the people. Since the Israelites were moving through the lands, the tabernacle had to come along.

The furnishings from the sanctuary were so holy that if the people accidentally touched something, they would die. They weren’t even allowed to look at these things. Automatic death. Aaron and his sons had to go in first and cover all the things in the sactuary before the Kohathites were to come in and move it.  Other guys had to cover up the pieces of the tabernacle correctly and carry it to the next destination. That was a huge responsibility and an honor. I am sure that there were guys who were 29 years old wishing they were 30 and guys who were 51 wishing they were 50.

You have been given a similar calling. You are moving a tabernacle from place to place in order to help bridge the gap from this life to eternity. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you carry holiness inside you: Jesus Himself and the Holy Spirit. You carry a tabernacle with you wherever you go. You can make it available to others or you can close it up. You can clothe it in righteousness or you can hide it.

God has a specific calling on your life that does NOT quit once you reach a certain age and it isn’t waiting for you to reach a certain age. It is now. It is being kind to a stranger. It is calling that family member. It is sacrificing your time to sit with a friend. Or sacrificing money to help out. It is being the arms of God to hug someone, the hands of God to feed someone, and the feet of God to walk with someone. It may sound boring, but when you change your view to look at it from the throne of heaven (God’s perspective), it is everything.

 

30 Days, 30 Scenes {Day 10} Behind the Scenes Scene One

Yes, it’s the 20th of April and I am ten days behind. Between sickness and not having a laptop, it’s amazing that I’m not further behind.  I am finally feeling well enough to sit up and type.

Today is Easter Sunday and I wanted to share what the first one was like. This scene is taken from John 20.

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I love that Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus until He says her name.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27

We are His! Hallelujah!

Thirsty Thursday: Forgiven

Tomorrow is Black Friday. I know the real title is “Good Friday,” but there is nothing good about the perfect Godman taking the punishment for every evil thing I’ve ever thought, said, or done. I am eternally thankful and grateful that Jesus died on the cross for me and for you. The good part about Jesus dying on the cross happens on the third day, the day He rose.

Easter is about forgiveness. Forgiveness for ignoring God. Forgiveness for treating our friends and family poorly. Forgiveness for EVERYTHING. Jesus forgave the people who put Him on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Instead of praying, God, these people are ignorant! Repay them for what they are doing to me!, Jesus prayed forgiveness.

What happens next is Hunny’s favorite part of the Bible.

Two criminals were being crucified at the same time as Jesus. One on the right and one on the left.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

One criminal believed that Jesus was the perfect Son of God. He believed in his heart that Jesus was Lord. He confessed it with his mouth. He was saved. That’s all it takes.

 

Thirsty Saturday: Loving You

Yes, it is supposed to be Thirsty Thursday, but I did not have my laptop or any means to write a post. My laptop is back and I MUST continue sharing why there is an Easter celebration: Jesus. In the first post, I wrote about how Jesus willingly left heaven to be the son of an unwed mother. The second post talked about God’s love for us. In this third installment, I’m letting you know an important fact that gets over looked from time to time. Jesus openly loved the people around Him even though they were awful and horrid.

Excuse me?

Jesus hand picked twelve men to be His main disciples. Out of twelve men; who saw Him all the time: traveled with Him, listened to Him, prayed with Him, ate with Him, saw miracles He performed; only ONE followed Him to the cross. ONE.

Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. They were His friends. Lazarus got ill and then died. When Jesus showed up with the express purpose to raise Lazarus from the dead, Martha starts in on Him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:21) Jesus didn’t stop loving her.

Think about the last time you were in a large crowd of people. What was running through your mind when you were amongst all those people? Were any of those thoughts kind or nice? Compassionate? Jesus looked at the crowds and had compassion on them (Matthew 9:36). He saw all the people who needed Him, and He loved them.

Palm Sunday is tomorrow. That is the day we remember all the people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna,” and waving palm branches at Jesus. These are the same people who will shout, “Crucify Him!”

It doesn’t matter what you do, did, or are about to do, Jesus loves you. He always has and He always will.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friend. John 15:13

 

30 Days, 30 Scenes {Day 6} Whatevs Scene One

This past weekend sucked. There really isn’t a better description for it. Other than a few bright spots, it was a crap fest.

I decided to use my Whatevs category to write a love letter to myself and to you. If you’re feeling bad, if  other people’s expectations of you are wearing you down, if the comments from others are crippling, then this is for you. This is for us.

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A little reminder that His all encompassing love for us is more than the circumstances of our life. His love is more than enough. We are enough to Him.

Thirsty Thursday: Called By Name

Bezalel was born a slave in Egypt. He probably thought that was all he would ever be. Most likely, he never wondered if God would use him to do anything great. What can be done when you’re considered property?

Then God used Moses to free the Israelites from bondage (Exodus 3:7-12). While they were in the wilderness, God told Moses He wanted a tabernacle to be built (Exodus 26). He had specific designs, furnishings, and motifs in mind. He also knew who was to be the leader in building the tabernacle and all it contained.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting and in carving wood, to work in every craft. Exodus 31:1-5

God gave Bezalel certain gifts. He gave Bezalel these talents to build the tabernacle. Bezalel would even make the ark of the covenant, which is amazing (Exodus 37:1-9). The place where God would dwell on earth. The very seat of God’s mercy on earth would be fashioned by Bezalel’s hands. The hands of a former slave of Egypt no less.

You have been called by name to do the extraordinary. Let me tell you, I do not feel very extraordinary. I feel ordinary. Most days, I feel less than ordinary. But I have been called by name to be Hunny’s wife. I have been called by name to be Yeeyum’s mommy. I have been called by name to be Cupcake’s caregiver. These sound pretty ordinary, but when I ask God to show His glory through this work, it is extraordinary.

Here’s a personal example: When Hunny and I were dating, he had a pencil sketch of a flower on his desk. He told me that he would paint it some time in the distant future. I kept asking him about this flower. I felt like God gave him a gifting to art and that I was meant to encourage him in it. He finished that piece and it reawakened his love of art. Since then, he has painted numerous paintings, done several art shows, donated art for a fundraiser, and has sold his artwork.

God has called you by name to be a sister, to be a friend, to be a spouse, to be a co-worker, to be an employer… He has called YOU. You were meant to do the extraordinary. God wants to use you to make something amazing on earth.

Thirsty Thursday: Heart Movements

While we were surviving the plague, I was not reading my Bible or meditating. I just could not read or meditate while sick this go around. I know that it really effected my mood, but I was unable to concentrate enough to put letters together to form words and words into sentences in my mind while sick and tending to other sick people. Being sick as a grown up is exhausting.

I’m finally starting to feel like I can do normal things again, like read and take showers on a regular basis. As I was getting back into meditation, my heart caught this:

From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Exodus 25:2b-7.

I meditated on “From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.” God is going to move you to give to Him. The great thing about His movement in your heart is that He is never going to ask you to give something you don’t already have. I looked at the list of things people were going to contribute to the sanctuary. Everything from glorious gold to precious stones to ordinary lumber to boring oil was to be given. The same person who is moved to give silver is not the person who has scarlet yarn in their closet. God isn’t going to move you to sell the scarlet yarn so you can give silver. He’s going to ask you to give the precious scarlet yarn you have been saving to make that family heirloom quilt. I put myself in this list. I think God would have moved me to give oil or spices. Hunny and I eat at home more than the average person, so we have olive oil and spices for cooking. I have a few rings with precious stones in them given to me from family during childhood. Maybe God would move me to give those as contribution.

So many people in our lives have needs. Needs that God wants to use you to meet. You may hear of someone’s need that you are able to meet, someone needs work done on their house and you know how to do it, or someone needs encouragement and you send them a positive message. But there will be times you hear of a need that you aren’t meant to meet. You don’t have extra money to support a missionary. You don’t have the time to tutor your friend’s child in math. You can’t meet the need. But you can pray. You can pray for that person to be patient and wait on the Lord. You can pray for the people who are supposed to meet the need that they will contribute and won’t loose out on the blessing of giving. You can pray.

I’m praying for you right now.

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Thirsty Thursday: The Finger of God

This is the finger of God.

That is a bold statement. It is the statement that was given to Pharaoh when he asked his magicians to create gnats from dust (Exodus 8:16-19). God told Moses to tell Aaron to stretch out his staff and hit the ground, so that gnats would invade Egypt. Aaron did it and all the dust became gnats, settling on the people and animals of Egypt. When the magicians tried to do it, they couldn’t. They said, “This is the finger of God.”

Operation Christmas Child is close to Hunny and my heart. My first experience with OCC was a couple weeks before our wedding. The church we attended at the time went to the OCC processing center in Boone, NC. We went to inspect the boxes and make sure everything was how it should be: no liquids, nothing breakable, no war toys, only hard candy, etc. I thought, Hey guys, there are Americans who don’t have anything for Christmas. What about them? God was not amused. He let me know that my people are my responsiblity. When Jesus told the disciples to feed five thousand people, that was His way of letting them know that the needs of the people are their responsibility.

I became a prayer partner with OCC the following year because we were financially unable to pack shoeboxes of our own. I am so glad that I did. I began to hear story after story of the finger of God being on these shoeboxes like this one: A single mother and her small child had to walk for several days to attend a shoebox giving party. It took that long because the son had a painful limp and they had to stop along the way so he could rest. If the boy had orthopedic shoes in his size, his limp would be corrected. When he received his shoebox, there was a pair of orthopedic shoes. In his size. Did you know they made orthopedic shoes for children around the age of two? If someone told you to pack a small box with things that a 2-4 year old would want, would you put orthopedic shoes in them? I don’t think so! But some obedient soul listened when God told them to put orthopedic shoes in a shoebox to send to a war torn country.

Did you know that the finger of God is on you? There is less than a 25% chance of a woman conceiving a child when she has intercourse. There are millions of genetic combinations that could have resulted between your father and your mother. It is mathematically impossible that you, with all your physical makeup and quirky faults exactly as you are right now, are reading this. It is mathematically impossible that I am writing this. But here you are and here I am.

We think we’re so smart. When I say “we,” I mean mankind or human beings as a whole. We think we’ve got it all figured out. “Walk more and it will add a year to your life.” We can’t add a minute to our life (Matthew 6:24-34). Our days are counted as are the hairs on our head. “Read this book and it will change your life.” The only book that can really change your life is the Bible. It’s the only book that was written with the finger of God.

The finger of God is on you right now. What are you doing to show it?