Monday, July 8, 2013

Did You Forget Something?

When did they first forget the word of the Lord in Nathum 1:7 - The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  Was it just sin and rebellion in their lives? Was the walk ever real?  What was it?  Perhaps they had just one too many broken dreams and one too many crushed hopes and they simply forgot.  They forgot how He had delivered them in the past and how He brought them through to the other side.  They forgot how He had saved them from what they thought they wanted but in reality would have been a disaster.  They forgot He kept His word to love them.  They forgot His promises are true and He has never forgotten them.  They forgot to run to the mighty Tower for refuge but instead exchanged the truth for a lie.  They forgot the world doesn't hold anything for them.  They forgot the Lord doesn't look at us the way the world does.  He sees beyond the outer to the inner, the heart.  They just forgot!  All the hurts, broken dreams, crushed hopes, hurtful words and actions of others, trial upon trial that we who stand in judgement could not imagine.  They just forgot! 

Praying today that if this is you - once running strong for the Lord but all the "hardness" of life has choked the voice your ears has heard for so long. Praying today you will choose to remember what he has done for you in the past.  He will do it again even greater in your future.  All the junk your soul has endured was just making you authentic for others who come after you.  Perfecting your faith and making you "FOR REAL"!  From one who has walked the road and seen His greatness I am cheering you on to finish this great race and lean on Him who gives you the strength to continue on. Now get up, run, run, run!!!!

Judgement for the hearing impaired

Interrupting the class to retreive something she leaned down and whispered in my ear with a sacrastic tone, "this is an interesting job you have".   She had made a judgement based on a few snippets of conversation she had overheard.  A short time and yet a big conclusion.  I thought of what had happened in that room all throughout the day.  First, I was concerned about the women's feelings and what  they would believe about themselves based on such an insensative remark.  Then I wondered if this would lead to a more guarded discussion time.   These girls had been judged their whole lives.  Conclusions drawn on their lives because of what they looked like, the neighborhood in which they lived and what their parents did (or did not).  Judgement a dirty little word that we have cleaned up with words like discernment or concern.  Here is the truth....we are to judge what is right or wrong according to God's word.  Not to be confused with good or better, worthy or unworthy. 

You see, what this lady didn't know could have filled the whole room.  Like for instance, she didn't know that some were new Christians.  Some were abused and damaged and this was the first placed they were learning to trust.  Some were scared and held no self esteem.  Some just excited to be in a place where they could talk to another.  Hearing something other than the sound of their own voice.  For a moment the lonliness would be forgotten. She didn't know them before and how far they had come.  And here is the clincher!  She didn't know that at one time the woman she was talking to....was just like the women she was talking about. 

She only saw a snippet of life.  She could not know the whole picture.  That place was reserved for the Lord alone.  He wasn't sharing that place with anyone else. 

So the next time you are tempted to make a judgement on what the outside says perhaps a better choice would be to bow the knee and talk to the one who knows the inside as well.  Because the truth is you don't know and He does.  If he chooses to show you then He will show you what your role is in His redeeming work.  So perhaps if you are not willing to role up the sleeves and get to work probably should not ask.  I can assure you the Lord will not just allow you to shout from the sidelines.  His work is done with rolled up sleeves working along side.  Now really would you want to miss seeing God work in another or MAYBE EVEN YOU!  Now put away the "I Would Never Do That" t shirt because darlin' YES YOU WOULD.    We are all a sinful lot waiting for our Redeemer to complete His good work in us. 

WANTED: Judge of Heart Motives

Judgment!  Wow!  That is a wild word, isn't it?  It implies the person behind the word is all wise, all knowing and the final say in the matter.  An interesting fact is that there is no one like that except Jesus.  He is the only one who really knows our "heart motive".  He is the only trustworthy one to know what to do with our "heart motive" and He and He alone has the final say in the matter about the "heart motive".  So what do we do with judgment? 

In unwise hands it turns into weapon to destroy.  In too merciful of a hand it turns into a license to sin.  In a prideful hand it turns into a clique.  However, in His hand it turns into a means of repentance, freedom and justice.  So many of us get judgment confused with discernment.  One proclaims a final verdict and the other just sees the problem.  One draws us to pride and the other draws us to our knees.  One makes us feel better than others and the other reminds us of our own sin and draws us closer to the One who set us free. 

JUDGMENT.....how's that working for you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bling! Bling!


When I looked down I had to laugh! All I could see was a bright shiny pair of flip flops....no toes....no feet..... just BLING!  They sure looked different in the store but then I just tried them on and didn't really take a good look.   Boy, I should have and wished I would have.  Of course, the store clerk just raved at how fabulous they looked!  Recently while traveling the Texas hill country with some friends I thought I would wear them out for dinner.  With every step all I could see were my shoes "blinging" at me.   Our friends laughed with tears streaming down their faces at these "bling bling" flip flops.  They seemed to take center stage screaming, "butter me a biscuit, look whose arrived!" (You know, they talk like that in the Texas)  Really if  I stood in the sun too long in one place I could have started a small fire with the glare from these flip flops.  What on earth was I thinkin'!

When I sat down to do my devotions this morning I thought of those "bling bling" flip flops.  I was in John 3 towards the end of the chapter where John is giving testimony of Jesus.  He says he, John, is not the Christ but sent ahead of Him.  He compares it to a bride and bridegroom,  saying the bride belongs to the bridegroom and the friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for His voice and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice.  He says his joy is now complete. The key words in this passage are "He must become greater and I must become less."

Today Christians are deceived in thinking that if they know the right people doors will open and if they articulate their thoughts with such intelligence it will create opportunities.  But one has to ask, opportunities and doors open for whom?  Christ? For it is Christ who opens doors and creates opportunities not man's efforts.  Oh, man can certainly steal the show with "bling bling" but truly create and open that is solely in the Lord's hands.  Those doors and opportunities are created and opened by prayer and prayer alone.  Of course, we must obey and walk through. 

The majority of what I see today are name droppers and "create your own."  In other words, you hype your resume, be in the right place at the right time and therefore create your own.  You know people who know people who know people.  It somehow gives us an air of importance.  Wonder why we don't see the Holy Spirit move in ways of years past and the testimonies that we heard about in other countries?  We put in five minutes of prayer and hours upon hours of making sure we position ourselves with just the right people.    We throw around well known names and speak of our relationships with them and call them "open doors."  Sad, very sad.  You see, when the Lord opens a door it isn't with fanfare or shout-out on fb or twitter.  It is just like John said.... He increases and I decrease.  In other words, I am not even seen ...only Jesus.  That is how the Holy Spirit draws man to himself.  Even though man is being used only Jesus can be seen.  What is the promise for us?  Joy!

Sometimes, like my "bling bling" flip flops, we steal the show from Jesus because we want to wear the bling bling of the glory for ourselves.  But Jesus calls us to decrease, fade, hide in Him.  We no longer can be seen so Jesus receives all the glory.  So that as we walk they can only see Jesus.  Just like those flip flops - when I walked all you could see were the shoes....no feet, no toes.   Isn't that your hearts desire?    Lay down the idol of ambition, of grabbing the center of attention.  Confess and repent.  Then walk adorning yourself with Jesus so He will receive the glory and you will be overflowing with JOY!

*For those of us who speak publicly this sin creeps up on us.  The encouragement we receive after speaking or teaching may open door of pride.  Ask the Lord to give you something to remind you that it is Him and only Him. 

Now put away those flip flops, quit listening to store clerks who don't have your best interest in mind and look for something that suits what you were created for a little better, um.....maybe some really nice cowboy boots.... what was I thinkin!





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thirty-nine and counting

August 11, 2012 was my wedding anniversary.  Thirty-nine years married to the same man, well, sort of to the same man.  When you have known someone for forty-three years there are lots of changes one goes through over time. The obvious is, of course, aging, which I think we are doing quite nicely.  I was thinking today about all the changes we have walked through together.  There's a time of singleness in marriage.  You know, when it is just the two of you and pretty much you do as you please. All the while cultivating similar interests and learning how to serve each other. Then comes the children of which consumes your life for the next 18 to 21 years.  That is where you hang on to each other and snatch away time whenever you can.  Still serving and crawling in each other's worlds while you raise these family individuals.  Then comes empty nesters.  Finally, taking a deep breath and being able to gaze into each others eyes without hearing your name called or keeping an eye on that one child who cannot be remote controlled.  Yes, we have walked through a lot of changes in our marriage.  I was thinking about all the physical changes as well.  The thin years, the heavy years, the in between weight years, the natural hair, the dyed hair, the thinning hair and the no hair.  And then the emotional life of it all.

Yes, lots and lots of changes,  however, one thing has been steady and unchanging all these years.....God's ever present hand in our lives.

By all accounts I am a needy woman.  I'm pretty high maintenance at times.  So I am so thankful the Lord gave me a husband who understands the needs of this needy woman.  So many times when he would rather be relaxing watching the Colts play on TV he sits with me in our gathering room listening to my yet 100th view on something.  He has encouraged me to run when I would rather walk, climb when I would rather sit down and to strive for dreams I never thought possible for this city girl.  We have traveled  to places I had only read about.  He has held me when I cried because someone rejected me or hurt my feelings.  He has been patient with me in my anger and washed Scripture over me in my despair.  We share the same sense of humor so it is always Ricky and Lucy at our house.  I love those funny moments when we look at each other and break out in laughter.  He has had to drag me into submission and I have had to learn to pray instead of pout.

A humble man who derives no pleasure from hearing his own name.  Over ten years ago he walked away from a high powered corporate job to start a business he wasn't sure would fly past a year.  We held hands and took the first leap of faith.  It turned out well.  I have watched as this humble, servant leader could have much, much more and I have so loved hearing him say, "we could, but I believe we won't". He has ruled our family with wisdom and much love.....giving at a cost to himself. Encouraging his family to let the Lord be our defender, encourager and our first love.  However, it would be a huge mistake for anyone to mistake this servant leader for weak.  He runs a successful business and is a strong man of faith.

These last years have seen us through grief at the loss of our parents, two nieces and some wonderful friends. Some old dreams have been replaced with new ones.  We have had to take hard stands on what we believe.  Loved family members through sin and repentance and rejoiced with adding new members to our "gang" of a family. We have learned some Spanish and French wowing each other with our somewhat broken language skills. 

At times I have had to hold that steady hand so tightly out of fear of the future and at other times I have prayed for wisdom to speak wise counsel to my husband's ears.  We have watched with sadness as our friends marriages have dissolved and we have rejoiced as we have seen marriages repaired and thrive.  Knowing that our marriage is not perfect and we are humans who make mistakes and fall into sin as well, we rejoice in Jesus.

Thank you for allowing me to honor my husband today.  Sorry we don't know the ten ways to keep a marriage safe, strong, etc.  No antidotes for keeping love alive.   However, there is one thing I do know that I wasn't created to be his "cheerleader" and he wasn't created to be my provider.  We were created to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.  When that is in place the rest easily follows.  No pressure on him and no failure for me.  (Frankly what I have seen and heard these last few years coming from "experts" is just too cute and in the "box" to be real.)  I am not always his cheerleader and he isn't always my prince charming.  We have loved, lived, argued, walked, sought the Lord, and believed passionately for 39 years.  I know most of his faults and on any given day don't hesitate to let him know.  He is not perfect and that works well because.....NEITHER AM I.  

Happy Anniversary to the Love of my imperfect life!  "Come grow old with me the best is yet to be!"

(I know this may sound a little "cheesey" but hey, I like cheese! (throw in some grits and I am a happy girl!)




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Monday, August 6, 2012

For God so loved the world........

Extra time is not something I usually have a lot of in my busy life.  However, today I had a lot of "extra time".  So I caught up on some messages, fb and email while I listened to a person talking about witnessing and sharing one's faith in today's world and how it has changed from years ago.   He quoted Billy Graham as saying he would not do crusades like Mr. Graham had done in the past because it would not be as effective today.   Essentially he was saying there is a new way of witnessing and we must stay current as to persuade unbelievers to come to Christ.  Further, he stated it was our "job" as Christians to change as many minds to say yes to Jesus as we possibly can.  I guess so we could proclaim so many saved through our efforts.  Impressive to man....maybe...but not so impressive to the Lord. 

When I looked to the Scriptures I was led to John 3:16.  A verse that has crossed Christian lips a zillion times during the course of their lifetime.  But I wonder if we ever pause and look at  what the Lord was really saying in this verse.   The first part of the verse is where we will start and where we will end.  It says, "For God so loved the world...."   God loved.  He cared.  He was concerned.  He made a plan.  He planned a way of escape.  He prepared for us.  He provided for us.  He informed us.  He LOVED.  

When we are led by the Holy Spirit we love people.  We see them trapped in their sin and circumstances.  We feel compassion for their needs.  We stop seeing them as projects or feathers in our caps.  So often what I am seeing today with my fellow Christians are name droppers who use people to further their careers and ambitions.  If they can't do anything for them they move on to the next.  So their witnessing is really in and for their own name.  I think one of the saddest statements I have heard is from a man who couldn't remember what it was like not to be saved.  How then could you have the compassion and mercy on another if you don't remember what state Jesus found you.  Or perhaps taking it a step further, where you find yourself so often still bound in sin.  How can you really love  if you can't relate to their eternal circumstance? 

When you love someone you enjoy your time with them and you give time.  You include them in your family.  There is a relationship.  So often I see Christians wanting to say a prayer with someone and be on their way.   Clean and painless,  we don't have to walk through their messes or troubles. No getting our hands dirty or sleepless nights of spiritual warfare for us!  With a pat on the back and a "I will pray for you" we are on our way.  The only problem we have is trying to find room for the next feather.  With the four spiritual laws tucked safely in our pockets we move our boxes to the next project.

Today please take the time to ask the Lord to forgive you for seeing people as projects, means to achieve your own goals or feathers in your cap.  This is faulty thinking with the only cure being repentance and then ask the Holy Spirit to give you a love for the world so you might be effective in your witnessing.  Then witnessing isn't about you, your gifts, or intellect.  It is about the Holy Spirit filling you and leading you to where you need to be to talk to those He came to save.  Don't be like the Pharasises thanking the Lord they were not like "them".  Don't be decieved sweet ones "them" is "you"!  Now take another look doesn't it look different.  Somehow easier to love and easier to reach.

I have often used this blog to encourage, love, and admonish.  Today please take this as a small gift the Lord used to remind you of His love for you so you can remind someone else of His great love.  So many need the reminder that.....that even while they continued to sin He sent His Son as a way of escape so that they could be free from sin and spend eternity with Him because ......God so loved the world......

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Devotional submissions

Authors/writers submissions are being accepted for a women's devotional book.  350-500 words.  Must have scripture at top.  Include a 2-3 line bio.  Looking for personal experiences that will encourage women in all walks of life, particularly single moms.  If your submission is chosen for this compilation you will be paid $25.00 and one book plus discounted books for speaking events.  Please email your submission to sduhamell@juno.com with your name, address, phone number and email address.  It would be helpful if you would include a short expression of why your devotion should be chosen for this book.  Submissions must be received by December 31, 2012. Happy Writing!