Embrace ~ A FMF Post

Friday is the day that many other precious bloggers join to together to write about one word – for five minutes.  Despite the fact that I’ve not joined in this exercise in a long time, it is one of my favorite kinds of posts to write.  The link-up is hosted by Kate Motaung.   If you’d like to know more about it, click here.

Today’s word hit me as something that I definitely needed to consider.  So here goes…

I love to look up the meaning of words so, of course, I had to see just what the word EMBRACE really means.  Here are a few of the meaning that I found on dictionary.com:

hug…to take or receive gladlyaccept willingly…to encircle…surround…enclose…to include

I like those meanings.  Especially the last five.  It reminds me of the church and how we are directed by God’s Word to treat others.  You know in good times and in hard times.

Thinking about God’s Word, I did a little digging to see if the word EMBRACE is found in scripture.  It is. Sixteen times in the English Standard Version.   Most of the verses that include EMBRACE speak of friends and family embracing, or hugging.  But one passage jumped off the page.  It’s one that I have considered many times as we have navigated our ministry journey.  The entire passage is Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.  Right now, I’d like to focus on a portion of the last part of verse 5.  It says:

a time to embrace,…

You may wonder how that phrase relates to ministry?  For our family, as God has called us to new ministry opportunities, we had leave people we love dearly.  That’s where the “hug” (EMBRACE) comes in.  We’ve had to look at what God was calling us to do and “accept willingly” (EMBRACE), stepping out in faith and to do what He is asking of us.  We’ve had to go to the new places and people and “include”(EMBRACE) them.  But that’s not just in ministry.   I believe that as followers of Christ, we are all called to EMBRACE others.  We are called to “receive gladly” (EMBRACE) what the Lord asks us to take on or go through.  We are called to “encircle” (EMBRACE) the people that God allows to cross our paths, even if it’s only for a short period of time.

My time is up………but, of course, I find that 5 minutes just isn’t enough. {smile}

Let me say that I, in no way, think that our call – or our family – is anymore special than the call God has placed on others.  We are all called to minister to those around us.  I am keenly aware that God has a purpose for all of us.  The one for our family happens to have included being in three wonderful congregations.  It’s a bonus for me as now I have more people to EMBRACE (hug).

I have no idea what – or who – the Lord is allowing in your life that He is asking you to EMBRACE.  Whatever…whoever….it is, know that it is the Lord’s time for that in your life.  EMBRACE it!

Joy to You!

This post is linked up with Kate Motaung.  Please hop over and read what others are saying about the word “EMBRACE.”

Unabated Vigor ~ Not Your Typical Valentine’s Post

During my morning quiet time with the Lord, for a few months now, I’ve been camping out in the Old Testament.   First I was in Deuteronomy and now I am in Joshua.  These two books are full of the confirmation that we have a promise keeping God.  I love Deuteronomy 37 where Moses goes “from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, …opposite Jericho.” (Deut. 34:1) and the Lord shows him all the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In verse 4, the Lord tells Moses that he will not enter this promised land.  And in verse 5, Moses died.  I wish I could remember the first time I learned that Moses didn’t make it to the promised land.  I imagine that I probably felt disappointment for him.  I mean, he’s the one that led the people for all. those. years.  He’s the one that faced Pharaoh.   He’s the one that was chosen to write the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone.  To me, Moses is pretty special.  So I wonder, was he disappointed that he wouldn’t reap the benefit of his efforts?

Verse 7 actually gives a little clue to how Moses reacted to not making it to the promised land:

deut34_7

Being the word nerd that I am, I wanted to be sure that I understood the meaning of “unabated.”   According to dictionary.com, it means:

with undiminished force, power, or vigor

That led me to being double sure I knew what “vigor” means.  Again, according to dictionary.com, vigor is:

active strength or force…healthy physical or mental energy or power; vitality…energetic activity; energy; intensity

So here I am, reading about Moses not reaping the benefits of his proverbial sowing.  AND THEN God’s Word tells us that Moses died with power, active strength, force, vitality, intensity.  He died knowing that he had received his inheritance.  And I personally think he was probably very satisfied.

This has me wondering if I would be?  My human, and sinful, nature desires a reward when I’ve worked hard.  I’m not one for fanfare but a subtle pat on the back goes along way with me.  I venture to say that there’s a little of that feeling in all of us.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Hang with me – please – I promise I’m getting there.

As I have been studying Joshua, I have marveled (my word of the year) at the keeping of God’s promises.  He is ever faithful!  He was to His children as the crossed the Red Sea, the dessert, took Jericho, and more.  And He is faithful to us today.  Once we get to Joshua 22, the land that God promised to Abraham has been divided among the tribes – the promise fulfilled – and the people were settling in.  Challenges still arose and that’s not really that surprising considering all the grumbling in the desert.

One of the verses I underlined in chapter 22 is verse 5.  Joshua gives these instructions to the Israelite’s as they settle in:

joshua22_5

Joshua could’ve just said, “be like Moses.”  But he spelled it out.  He reminded them of the commandments.  He reminded them to walk…and keep…and cling…and serve….with ALL their heart and soul.  These qualities – to me are a beautiful explanation of the “unabated vigor” that Moses had.

I often cruise along in my Christian walk.  I wax and wane in my Bible reading and prayer time.  But this!  This is how I want to be.

So as Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am just plain blessed.  God gave me the most wonderful man to be my husband.  We’re into our 23rd year of Valentine’s days (22 of those married).  And we have 2 beautiful children.  The stores are full of cards and flowers and balloons.  Facebook and Instagram are full of Valentine wishes and dates and gifts.  In our house, every day is full of love that is just plain special.  Some years we pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day.  Some years we don’t.  This year, we chose to celebrate as a family.  And I’m really good with that.  But I began Valentine’s Day reading Joshua 22:5.  I began my day reminded of the love that I am to have for my Heavenly Father and the promises that He still keeps today for me.

So this isn’t a typical train of thought for Valentine’s Day but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

I hope that you had a wonderful day with your special someone. And I pray that every day you love the Lord with “unbated vigor.”

Joy to You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

NOW ~ A FMF Post

It’s ironic that the Five Minute Friday word of the week is “NOW.”   The irony is that it’s Saturday and I am just writing.  The link-up stays open for a few days and well, I felt like what I have on my heart is worth posting past Friday.

For anyone not familiar with the purpose of Five Minute Friday, Kate Motaung hosts this link-up where many women come together and write about one word – for 5 minutes.   As mentioned, this week’s word is NOW.

Here goes:

In the last 4 months our family has two friends to pass away in their sleep.  Both have left my heart broken.  Not just for the loss of this friend in our lives but for their families who unexpectedly went to their heavenly home….without warning.

Both had a personal relationship with the Lord.  Praise God for that!  I know where they are.  I even kind of envy them.  I mean, can you imagine, Christmas in heaven?  Worshipping at the feet of Jesus for eternity!!! What an eternity it will be.

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Oddly enough, over the past several weeks, our church has been going through Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love.    In one of the chapters, Chan tells of how we never know when God will call us home.  He tells of a man who gave a eulogy at a friend’s funeral and died immediately after he sat down from speaking.  He was at a funeral when he died.  In the eulogy, he told the attenders of the funeral that they need to be ready for the Lord to take them home.  He told them of the importance of accepting Christ.  Then he died.

Last week, we attended the funeral of our second friend who passed away.  The pastor at the funeral clearly presented the gospel.  He shared with the friends and family of our friend that he (our friend) would want every one of them in heaven some day.

(STOP) …. (But, of course, I’m not quite done!)

The time is NOW.  We can not afford to delay sharing with those we love about Jesus.  I’m guilty!  I’m not very vocal about my faith.  I mean I live it out…or at least I try to.  My goal is for others to see Christ in my.  But I’m not perfect! I still mess up.  That’s called sin.  The cool thing is that Jesus continues to offer me grace and mercy.  Daily.  Sometimes minute by minute.

I have no idea how many days the Lord will allow me to walk on this earth but what I do know is that He has me here for a purpose.  And part of that purpose is to share His love with others.  To share the gospel and to walk alongside of new believers.

I pray that I don’t let the opportunity I have NOW slip away.

Joy to You!


This post is linked up with Kate Motaung.  Please hop over and read what others are saying about the word “NOW.”

He’s In Our Midst

My 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord series is over.  And I’ve had a little break.  I’m ready to see what the Lord would have me share here in my little corner of the internet.  A few years back, I did what I affectionately called “Monday Meditations”.  These were lessons I learned during the sermon on Sunday, verses the Lord had brought me to during my quiet time, or simply things I had on my heart.  I’m giving them a go again.  I’d love to hear what the Lord has taught you on Sunday or the previous week.

Mon_meditations_revdI’ve been working my way through Psalms for some time now.  My process is to read the passage, list attributes of God that are mentioned, write down verses that stand out, and then I pray those verses back to the Lord.  One morning last week, I was in Psalm 74.  The Psalmist is asking the Lord to remember His people and then he describes destruction of God’s sanctuary.  He speaks of the people of God being treated badly.  He pleads for God to destroy the enemy that is reeking havoc on the temple.  Then in verse 12, he says:

Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

I had to read that one again.  I’m burdened by so much that goes on in our world today.  I don’t want to list events or details but the bottom line is that there is much to be concerned about.  And I certainly don’t want to go down the political road, but our nation needs prayer right now for the election tomorrow.  Psalm 74:12 gave me comfort.  A reminder that He is still on His throne…in control.  He calls us to Him.  We just have to answer.  He compels us to pray.  We just have to obey.

A few weeks ago, one of the high schools in our town held a “Fields of Faith” event.  It was sponsored by the school’s FCA group.  They held it on a Wednesday night and invited all churches to bring their youth there for service that night.  There were over 250 kids, and a handful of adults, on the field that night.  I listened to high school students lead worship and share their testimony about who God is in their life.  It was very encouraging.  I felt the presence of the Lord on the field that night.  I left there wondering what would happen if these kids really stood up for their faith.  What difference would it make in our city, county, state?

Later that day, I saw a video come across Facebook.  I love the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.  This video is Matt and his band playing in Times Square.  I was brought to tears watching thousands of people worship the Lord.  I can only imagine that the presence of the Lord was felt right there, in the middle of Times Square.

As I’ve thought about both scenes for a few days, I’ve considered that I don’t give enough consideration to Him being in my midst all the time.  Not just in the walls of the church.  Not just at a concert.  Not just on a football field when teenagers are praising the Lord.  And not even in Times Square.  He’s with me all the time.  I want everything in my life to be based on being in the presence of the Lord.

How about you?  I’d love to hear how you have experienced the presence of the Lord in your life?

In the mean time…

Joy to You!


 

Upside Down Hearts ~ A 31 Day Post (days 30 & 31)

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For 31 days – okay, really only 22 because I missed a few – I’ve shared my heart and I’ve learned more about myself.  I’ve also learned more about my Heavenly Father.  I have more to share but don’t we all.  As we walk and with the Lord, we grow and we are commanded to share His love, grace, and mercy with others.  In this, my final post, I wanted to share a few more verses and quotes that have been key to me when I needed encouragement.

I have a wise and dear friend who always says just the right thing at just the right time.  Over the past year, as we were seeking the Lord for what He had next for us, I naturally felt a bit unsettled.  I’ve shared that I felt a mix of emotions about leaving a place and a people that were dear to our hearts.  At a point when I felt at my lowest, my friend said these words to me:

upside-down-hearts

This resonated with me.  It’s how I felt.  Like my heart was “upside down.”  Once again God had provided a word of encouragement for me that would make a difference in my life.  Of course, that’s not surprising!  He’s in the business of making a difference in the lives of His children.

I think of what the Lord said to the Israelites through Isaiah when they needed reminding that He was still in control.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.      ~ Isaiah 41:10 ~ 

Psalm 94:19 says, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”  Isn’t that comforting?  My paraphrase of this is that “when our hearts are upside down, His joy (and peace) heals me soul.”  Thinking back over losing dear loved ones to illness, times of uncertainty with finances or job or school, I can confidently say that God had my heart in His hands.  I can also confidently admit that I didn’t always respond well to the pressure that came with those hard times.  I’m so thankful for grace!!!

As I wrap up this series, I just have to share something that my 17 year old said to me one day.  At this particular time, we had just been made aware of something very difficult that good friends were dealing with.  The wife of the family felt like there was no light at the end of the preverbal tunnel.

“Remember, even when the road seems darkest, when the tunnel we’re in never seems to end, and when hope and comfort are far from our hearts, God is still good.”  

He’s pretty wise, that boy of mine.

I pray that you have received encouragement through the words that God has laid on my heart to share this month.  Thanks again for joining me and I do hope that you will visit often.

Joy to You!


Bracelets and Flamingos ~ A 31 Day Post (days 28 & 29)

I’ve spent the last 27 days writing about the great encouragement that I received over the years from scripture, quotes, Facebook posts, texts, emails, etc., etc.  Back in April of this year, we packed our home and hugged our friends goodbye.  Before we left, I received 2 gifts that have continued to bring me encouragement on a daily basis.  My friend M gave me flamingos. Not the stick in the ground kind but rather the sun powered kind.  Their wings flap when they’ve been in the light for awhile.  She also bought herself a set.  And a few sets for me to share with others. {smile}

flamingos

Her reason?  As a prayer reminder.  She said that when she sees the flamingos, she will pray for the new ministry that we are in.  AND when I look at them, in turn, I will pray for their family.  Pretty good trade if you ask me.  I shared the wealth and gave flamingo sets to several sweet friends.

The other gift I received was from 4 ladies in our homeschool group.

bracelets

These bracelets are now among my favorite accessory for a few reasons.  One – I just love them.  Two – I adore the friends that gave them to me.   I use them as a prayer reminder too.  When I wear them, I think of my friends and say a prayer for them.  Now, I’ll admit that I don’t do this all the time but I do frequently.

I share these because I am acutely aware of how important friendship is.  Once you leave good friends behind, you really have an opportunity to see the blessing of those friends.    Charles Haddon Spurgeon had this to say about friendship:

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life.  Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.

There is so much truth in Spurgeon’s words.  I know that the difficult times of my life have been more bearable with the friends that God has blessed me with.

One of the most beautiful accounts in the Bible is the friendship of David and Jonathan.  If you’re not familiar with it, take some time and read 1st and 2nd Samuel.  These two books tell us of the deep friendship between them and how it changed their lives.

The blessing of friendship is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that Lord can give.  I’m guilty of sometimes taking my friends for granted.  Or shutting them out when I think that they don’t need to be bothered with my junk.  But what I always discover is that they want to walk the easy and hard roads with me.

Because of our time in ministry and living in several different places, I am blessed to have friends all over the place.  My life is forever changed by the precious women that God has placed in my life.  I pray that you are experiencing that blessing too!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

  

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Thanks for joining me on this 31 day journey.

Contentment ~ A 31 Day Post (day 27)

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Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot.  It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me.  I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard.   It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.

longing-slay-living

After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next.  He was serving at a small church at the time.  We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there.  We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will.  And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry.  Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time.  I had to repent on that one.  And I did.  But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.

Back to our friends.  He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living.  He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more.  We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment.  I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.

But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest.  I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.

Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:11, he says:  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

We were not in need.  We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea.  Our situation was good.  And yet, I was not content.  Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8 

I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above.  When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord.  I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly.  And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.

Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself.  But I did it!  And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.

Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is such an amazing example of being content.  He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)

Life happens!  We can’t avoid it.  Not the bad.  And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good.  Times are tough.  I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t.  But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep.  Here’s the thing:  God loves us and calls us to Himself.  He asks us to follow Him in obedience.  Sometimes He asks us to do hard things.  He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!