Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thirst Quenching Thursday: God's Networking Strategies Can't Be Beat!

God tailors everyday adventures for us to take along with Him. Some days we're all in, other days we miss the boat. But on the days we say, "Take me with You!," we better hang on. His adventures can take our breath away!

Who knew that 13 months ago when my daughter's best friend was killed in a freak, single car crash, that her life's mission and connection to Kampala, Uganda would continue to play out at my breakfast table this morning?

Who  knew 15 months ago when McKinsey sat on our couch and shared with Rick and me her desire to move to the other side of the world that the conversation would continue in our den today?

Who knew?

God knew.

I was honored and humbled to welcome into our home this morning, along with McKinsey's mom and aunt, her African Mum, Desire. If Kin's hadn't moved to heaven first, she would be planning her move to Kampala. Desire would have been her protector, mentor, and life-long friend. Instead, she has become Kinsey's mom's sister in Christ and forever friend.

This precious, radiant, humble mother of 4, pastor, and now my new, sweet friend and sister in Christ, sat at my table to fellowship with me from the other side of the globe in true southern style. (Yes, she ate and liked my crock-pot grits.) Someone I would never have connected with on earth if it weren't for our "other daughter" and God's amazing strategies in networking His children together for His glory.

Yep, you will miss out if you're not all in. 

Every. Single. Day.

Last Thursday evening, Madison, Rick and I were introduced to Desire Julia Barugahare for the first time. Talking and getting to know one another through our family stories took us to another level of connecting. Her first two children are biological, but her younger two are adopted. That always makes my heart smile - connecting through the thread of adoption.

As she asked me questions about my experience of being adopted and how that had affected my life, tears spilled down her cheeks. She had only been fed negative thoughts and warned by those who don't know our God, of how difficult it would be to raise children from unimaginable situations. She told me today that she latched on to the fact that, "You are whole, not broken - full of joy, not anger - and deeply in love with Jesus Christ." She so desires for her children to know the joy of Jesus and love Him so deeply that they will pass on their stories of redeeming love, not only through physically adopted eyes, but spiritual ones.

Because the telling of my story ministered to her, this sweet Mum encouraged me to write letters to her two adopted children; Joey (5) and Kayla (9, I think). So last night, after I had scripted notes in and wrapped the boys' Bibles (for those who live in the McKinsey House), I put pen to paper and wrote each of my new kindred hearts a letter. Today, the bibles and letters along with gifts have boarded a plane headed for Kampala, Uganda with Desire and Amy.

I get chills just thinking about how intricately God works and weaves our stories and lives together. This past Easter Sunday, March 27, was my Adopted Day - a day of celebration in our family. My parents have moved to heaven now, so they aren't here on this earth to celebrate with anymore. But through God's divine networking, He gave me a new family with whom I could celebrate this year, passing my story on to encourage them in theirs.

Again! Amazed and dazed at the intricate details God pays attention to for us to truly "get Him" - to see His glory displayed through His adopted, chosen ones.

I wish I could listen as Desire shares my letters with her two who were selected, not expected. But through Skype, maybe I'll get to meet these precious children God connected me to through the thread of adoption.

Who has God networked into your life this week? How have you seen God's glory displayed through your life's tapestry? Watch Him tediously thread your story with others. Tell Him you want to be all in with Him on the adventures He has for you. I promise you won't regret it.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV).

My Pleasure,

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday - the Gateway to a Glorious Sunday

So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them (John 19:16 -17 ESV, capitalization mine).

As I ponder that horrific day of brutal blood-shed called Good Friday, many may be asking, "How could this day be good?" God allowed His only Son to be crucified, not just murdered, but crucified - a slow, barbaric, painful death.

But Good does describe the day of Christ's crucifixion when viewed through the lens of Truth.

Think about John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 - Only a Good God could love us so intimately and deeply.

- Only a Good God could give up His heavenly seat to experience life in the flesh, to walk among us and teach us how to live fully in His love and power.

- Only a Good God could become the sacrifice for all sin for all humankind for all time. 

- Only a Good God could become THE way for all people to come to the Father.

- Only a Good God could kill the power of sin over His people.

- Only a Good God would want to spend eternity with us.

So much good came from Good Friday. But remember, the best is yet to come!

My Pleasure,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

More of Your 'Above-ness'

Walking large circle laps at Tri City Leisure Center, my mind was reeling. Ideas were flowing in like a flash flood: piano arrangements for Sunday's worship, blog titles, Living Real Conference details. My brain was bombarded with good stuff and I was loving it!

Then it hit me. What I was really enjoying was the theme of everything whirling around in my mind. The things of God were saturating my thoughts and I began to pray, "God give me more of Your above-ness.(I'm good for a new word or two every-so-often and above-ness is my latest.)

As my prayer rose up, God's Word came to mind. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth (Colossians 3:2 ESV). God was doing what I asked. He was allowing me to think on things above by recalling a Scripture seared into my mind years ago.

This morning I looked up Colossians 3:2 and then backed up a verse. Verse one (ESV) is even more specific.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, 
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (emphasis mine)

The theme of the Easter season, the Resurrection, is our foundation for belief in Christ. How amazing is that? I asked believing and I received because I've been raised with Christ

And isn't that what His Word teaches? Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Matt. 21:22 NKJV). 

The desire of my heart was for God to give me more of His above-ness. There's nothing greater that craving more of the Son, the One who is seated at the right hand of God, and receiving. 

God is a good God. He wants to give good things to His children. To those who ask believing, He gives us His best and works all things together for our good so His glory shines brighter through our lives. 

What do you desire of God today? Are you craving more of Jesus, more of His above-ness? Then pray. Pray with your whole heart, believing, and God will answer with His best.

My Pleasure,

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sunday Scribbles: Moving Through the Crowd and Into His Presence

Her story mattered because His story matters. His Story matters because salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is an invitation for all people. All people matter to Jesus. His desire is that no one perish, but that all be saved. (John 3:16)

The 12 year old girl the crowd thought Jesus was headed to heal would have to wait until He healed the woman who had had an issue of blood for 12 years. (Mark 5:21-34)

After recognizing that power had flowed out from Him, Jesus hesitated and asked, "Who touched Me?" When the woman confessed among the agitated crowd it was her, He lingered to listen to her whole story - the story of one who moved through the crowd because she didn't just want to be in the crowd, but who wanted desperately to be fully in His presence. She believed in Him. She wanted more than anything to be made whole.

She believed if she could just touch His clothing He could heal her of the affliction that had made her unworthy of human touch for 12 long years. Can you imagine?

After listening to her story, He told her, "Your faith has made you well."

In the meantime, the little girl waiting for His healing touch died before He got there. Some may think it cruel for Him to wait and take time with this unclean woman, but as we learn all through the Scriptures, every step Jesus took was intentional and very purposeful in unfolding God's Love Story.

So why did He delay?
  • The 12 year old girl represents Israel; the 12 tribes, sick with sin and in need of healing.
  • The woman with the blood issue for 12 years needed to be made whole first.
  • The blood issue represents the thousands of years of Old Testament sacrifices, the bloody mess of animal sacrifice, including many lambs, required to forgive the sins of God's people.
  • But the sacrifice of animals was just a prelude, a shadow of the ultimate sacrifice to come.
  • Jesus was and is the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation to take away the sins of the world. 
  • Jesus had to deal with the woman's blood issue first. (Female is also representative of the nation of Israel.) Then He could on purpose resurrect the young girl, representing all dead in sin, and breathe new life into her, symbolizing what His death and resurrection would do for all people.
For the little girl to be raised, the parents were asked to believe, to have faith, just like the woman for whom He delayed. 

The crowd that followed Jesus to Jairus' home hoping to watch Him heal his daughter laughed at Jesus when He told them she was just "asleep." Because of their unbelief, He sent them outside and only the disciples and her parents were allowed into the fullness of His presence to experience His resurrection power. Only those who believed and had faith could see the miracle.

FAITH is the key that allows us to move into His presence where we can experience His transfiguring power in our lives.

But, many are content with being just part of the crowd anticipating God's next move with the next big thing? We love to be associated with where the action is, in the vicinity of where God's working, but we're hesitant to move through the crowd and into the fullness of His presence allowing Him to actually work in us - to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was illustrating God's Amazing Love Story through the stories of the woman and the girl. 

They both intersected with the Savior by faith

Do you want God's Story to unfold through your story? Are you willing to move through the crowd to experience all God has for you or are you just content in being in the vicinity of Jesus watching what He's doing through the lives of others? 

Take a risk. Move on through into the fulness of His presence with faith meeting Him at the point of grace for a life forever changed. 

My Pleasure,

Sunday Scribbles are the result of something I learn from the Word on Sundays through a pastor or teacher. A special thank-you to my husband, Rick, who's spiritual gift is teaching the Word. This small group 2-week lesson on "The Touch" took me deeper.