Monday, July 23, 2012

The Intimidation Vaccine

As I was packing for the She Speaks Conference, I was praying for the Lord to speak to me through His Word and the women. My desire was for Him to unpack some direction for me.

I had attended this conference five years earlier, and as a result, Living Real magazine was conceived. Two years later, the first issue was birthed and placed in my hands.  What an awesome God we serve. But this is a huge undertaking, and only a faithful God can continue the task He has begun in me.

I returned to "She Speaks" this past weekend to hear from the Master Designer of my heart, to hone in on my writing skills, and to seek direction once again.

Friday morning, before I left, I opened my Bible to the book of Nehemiah, chapter 4.  The Israelites were attempting to rebuild their wall of protection from their enemies under the leadership of Nehemiah.  The king of Judah, Sanballat, was angry and he and his men hurled insults toward God's people to intimidate them as they sought to rebuild their wall. They said, "They cannot rebuild that wall. It is impossible."
As the people listened to the enemy, their strength began slipping away and the daunting task ahead of them appeared more and more unattainable.  Fear gripped their lives.  They were surrounded by the enemy, and the enemy's intimidation and insults penetrated their minds.  They began to complain and focus on the doubt and fear.  It all seemed so hopeless.  They wanted to give up.

But Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king and the servant of the Lord, had a plan.  He strategically placed some of the people at the lowest, most vulnerable points of the wall, and he posted them by families. (vs. 3) He understood that he needed gap fillers; strong men who weren't exhausted, and he placed them where the wall was weak.  As these men stood in the gaps for their families, the enemy was kept out.  Then Nehemiah proclaimed to the people to not be afraid.  "Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, sons and daughters, your wives and your homes." (v.14)

The people listened and obeyed. The enemy's plan was thwarted by God and the intimidation tactics melted into a puddle of worthlessness. God had proved His power again.  How great is our God!

When women attend a She Speaks Conference, intimidation is bound to show up.  It comes in many shapes and sizes (just like people) and, if we are not prepared, we will be defeated before we begin.  Even a She Speaks graduate can be intimidated.  I've learned over the years, though, that we all put on our pants the same way, including the women on the stage.  We may wear different styles, sizes, and colors, depending on our season of life, or personal preferences, but we all put them on - one leg at a time.  And guess what!  We all serve the same incredible God! The faithful, powerful God, who frustrated the enemy's plan against His children.  This God, the God of heaven and earth, is building what He has designed you and me to be-a living temple which houses the Holy Spirit and displays His glory.

When we display His glory we also spill out the love of Jesus Christ onto those around us.  The enemy has no power over us because we have a Savior who hung in the gap for us on the cross.  A Savior, who bridged the gap across that great divide to the Father. He sacrificed His life for all people, and for those who have trusted in this great Savior, He stands in the gap for us even now as He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  We, who have believed in Jesus Christ by faith, through the blood of the Lamb, have been vaccinated against the vicious virus of intimidation.  If God is for us, then no one can harm us.

When we allow our minds to believe the darts of insult and intimidation that Satan hurls, then we begin to lose our strength, our purpose, and our focus.  This virus, though, can be defeated! We have to fight it with the power of the Word of God.  Where we are weak, He is strong.  When we doubt, He gives us faith.  When our circumstances seem hopeless, He is our hope. We have to fight for what He has equipped us to do.

What are you doing with the virus of intimidation? Don't give up.  Together, let's claim God's promise, believing..."being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for standing in the gap for me against the darts of intimidation hurled by the enemy.  You have made me and I claim your promise that You will finish what You have started in my life.  Give me Your strength and a clear focus today. Use me. Mold me. Make me a display of Your glory as I walk in faith and obedience to Your calling -one step at a time.
In the power of Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

My Pleasure,

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Gift of Joy

What a beautiful gift!

 #109- Twenty-six women graced my den to continue the discovery of eucharisteo.

As we shared with each other some of the gifts we had written in our journals, it was amazing the joy that filled the room.  With each utterance of a gift, you could almost see the worries of our lives begin to melt away.  Part of the discovery of eucharisteo is that gratitude maintains joy!

But to discover joy, you can't just desire it; you have to unwrap it.  As Ann Voskamp puts it, "Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped.  God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy." (page 57, One Thousand Gifts)

Beginning the journal of gratitude and thanksgiving is the beginning of unwrapping the fullest life.  It's receiving joy. The very thing that thrills God's heart, our gratitude toward Him, is what moves Him to give us the gift of joy! You cannot gain joy on your own.  It is only God's gift to give. 

"For You have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad (full of joy)with Your presence." (Psalm 21:6 NKJV- added emphasis mine)

It's in the gratitude to our Lord for the blessings that we experience the joy of His presence.  Using intentional eyes to see what He gives us each and every moment leads to picking up the pen and spilling the ink of gratitude on the page.  Our giving of gratitude maintains His gifting of joy!

#83- Husband's sweet  smile through the porch window


#68- a small insect, which looks like a small green leaf
 This insect landed at my coffee area on my kitchen counter while I was pouring my coffee.
He even posed for me to get several shots with my camera. 
The gift of joy in wonder!

Dear Jesus,
With a journal and a pen in hand, please give me the eyes to see the gifts of wonder You place in front of me every day. Help me to maintain the joy of Your presence as I continue to practice eucharisteo.  In Jesus' Name, I give thanks and voice this prayer, Amen.

My Pleasure,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Dad's Sacred Place

In both of the houses where we lived, my dad had an office in a spare room under the carport. Yesterday I was able to go through my dad's office, located in our second home where I lived from ninth grade until I got married.  My dad's office was his place of quiet, alone time with God.  This was his idea of a real "Man Cave":  No TV, no party foods or drinks, nobody else (unless he was conducting business); just Mahlon and His precious Lord.  This was his sacred place.

I don't remember a day when my dad didn't get up early in the morning, around 6 AM, go to the mailbox to get the paper, come into the kitchen, read the paper, and eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes.  After his breakfast, he would go out to his sacred place and spend time alone with God, read his Bible, study, and read a chapter in the Psalms, a chapter in Proverbs, and pray every day.  I honestly cannot remember a day that my dad missed unless he was very sick.

Spending time alone with Jesus was at the top of the priority list every single day; Saturdays and Sundays included.  If we were out of town or at the lake, he still found time to spend with the Savior.

His favorite Psalm was Psalm 23.  We had it printed in his Celebration Service program, 7 years ago.  In the above picture, a bible was laying on top of that file cabinet.  When I went over to examine it further, it was open to Psalm 23!  What an amazing God we love and serve.  Another priceless gift from my Savior as I was remembering my dad.

I don't know how God does it, but I guess that's why He is so exciting and full of mystery.  I wasn't even thinking about my dad's "going home" anniversary when I scheduled this day with our renters to come over and go through my dad's office to finish cleaning out.  But once again, God gave me some precious time to spend in my dad's special place.  I took pictures of books, Bibles, his spray painted boots (that's another story), and had so many good memories flood through my mind.

I ran my hands across his Bible commentaries, file drawers, cassette tapes, pictures on the walls, and of course, his chair- the one that could roll to anywhere in this tiny space, and yes, it's been repaired with duct tape!  What would a "Man Cave" be without duct tape?

Although this place lacked much in the way of decor, it was none the less the place where real spiritual transformation took place. It's what went on in here that impressed me most about my dad. It was what took place in here that made my dad the godly man he was.  This is where he met with God! He prayed here. He studied here. He listened to God's voice right here- in this sacred place.  This is where he prayed for me every day, as well as, my sister, my mom, our families, friends, our church, our nation, and our world, and everything else in between.  He was committed to his relationship and to spending time with the most important Person in the world to him.  His relationship with Jesus is what affected all of the other relationships in his life.  He was a man of prayer and a man after God's own heart- just like David in the Bible.

Where is your sacred place; your place where you meet with God every day?  Mine is here at the kitchen table most every day.  I'm not as disciplined as my dad was, but I do know what a difference it makes in my life, my relationships, my attitude, when I'm paying attention to my relationship with Jesus Christ.

I still have so many books to go through and decide which to keep, throw away, or give away.  I have papers to sift through, pictures, etc.  But through it all, I praise God that my dad had a heart for Him; that he loved us so much that he was compelled to pray for us every morning.  I also praise Him that he gave me another day to spend in my dad's sacred place, especially on a day of remembering.

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

#89-Thankful for the Pain

Not much sleep on Saturday night. A small area on my back was itching and causing me pain.

Sunday morning, I thought maybe a spider had bitten me.  What led to my conclusion was a small rash (about the size of a silver dollar), itching that was traveling around my upper left side, pain, and some numbness. 

Monday morning, I went to the doctor, mainly because of the numbness and uncomfortable pain.

Before he even looked at the rash, he ruled out the spider bite and preceded to share with me his suspicions.  After looking at the rash, his suspicions were confirmed. He diagnosed me with shingles

Yes, shingles!

I'm so thankful for the pain. If I had not had the pain and the numbness, I would not have gone to the doctor. My case could have been much worse, but because we caught it early, I've started the antibiotics and Extra Strength Tylenol for the pain.  So far, so good. 

# 89- Thank you, Jesus, for the pain.  You give us things that are uncomfortable and even painful to direct us to what needs to be healed in our lives.  You are continuing to teach me to give thanks in everything!  You are amazing!  Amen!

My Pleasure,