A Friend

praying

Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:4-5 NIV)

There once was a man who couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t work. A life sentence for a man like him was simply to ask. Day in and day out he would ask for enough to get by. He wasn’t going to get wealthy from his begging. He simply needed to provide enough for himself. I imagine he didn’t have a family but this man had friends. He had people who cared for him and wanted the best for him. They stopped at nothing to get him where he needed to go.

This story is a beautiful depiction of true friendship. This man could not get himself the help he needed but his friends could. They brought him and were met with crowds of people. There were too many people and no room to get in. So his friends tore the roof apart so they could lower their lame friend down. They didn’t give up, they found a way. You see, their friend would only be cured if he saw Jesus.

Sometimes, we are met with circumstances that are beyond us. They seem unfair, even wrong. We wonder if God has forgotten about us. We feel abandoned. And we find ourselves unable to pray. But God is always at work. He understands we are struggling. He knows our hurt. He recognizes that we are simply overwhelmed. That’s when He calls on someone to pray for us.

When God sees us unable to help ourselves, He brings in others to help. He calls in someone who will pray. When we can’t get to Jesus alone because the obstacles are too numerous, He provides a friend who will offer support. God brings in those who are willing to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. They lay us at the feet of Jesus because they know this is where we need to be.

Be encouraged today. God has not forgotten about you. He remains faithful, working out every single detail. And when you cannot pray, He will provide someone to do that for you too. He loves you and He knows what you need. When He calls upon you to pray for someone else, be honored. He is at work in the life of someone else and allows you to be a part of it.

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I’m Guilty

jonahandjona

“No guilt in life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny.” (In Christ Alone)

We sang this song this weekend at church. It’s one of my favorites because it is the perfect picture of life. As we sang the verse…”No guilt in life…” it reminded me of a story about Jonah. It happened several years ago but it still rings fresh in my mind. He was playing on the bleachers while his sister had soccer practice one night. My husband told him not to play on the bleachers because it was dangerous. I’m married to “Mr. Safety”. Anyhow, the little boy playing with Jonah fell and hurt himself. He ran to his mom crying. Moments later, Jonah burst into sobs crying, “I’M GUILTY!!” He had disobeyed his dad and now his little friend was paying the price.

This morning I read the story of David and his guilt. He slept with a married woman. She became pregnant. He tried to cover it up but his plan didn’t work. So, he had her husband killed. Then he took her as his wife. It was the perfect plan. He was king. He could do what he wanted. And everything seemed to be going along as he hoped until Nathan, prompted by God, confronted him. He was guilty! He had consequences to pay. But did that mean God would never favor him again? Did that mean he would be unloved by God? Did that mean God was mistaken when He said David was “a man after my own heart”? I don’t think so.

There are times in our lives we are going to make terrible mistakes. The fact is, we are sinners. We are not perfect nor will we ever be. We try but sometimes our best efforts fail us. We are guilty. But our story doesn’t have to end there. In the midst of our humiliation, God is with us. He sees our hearts and wants to redeem us. Some focus on the consequences but I focus on the relationship. After we’ve sinned and been forgiven, I believe we are more humble. We trust Him a little more and follow His leading. We are not so eager to pump ourselves up. We refocus.

If you find yourself in the midst of a mess, know God truly loves you. He doesn’t love you because you are perfect. He loves you because He created you. He can redeem your mess. He forgives your sin. He will never forsake you, ever…even when you are guilty.

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48 NIV)

Life is Short

life

My heart was heavy and my mind was reminiscing as I drove to the church on Saturday. I was attending a memorial service for a man I had never met. I knew his name. I had seen pictures, but I had never had the privilege of sitting and talking with him. The only thing I knew about him was the woman he had married; an old friend of mine.

My friend was someone I met over twenty years ago. We met at church and realized we had the most important thing in common. We both loved the beach; still do. Way back, when I had no husband and children, we would get up almost every Saturday morning and head over to the coast for a day of relaxation. We’d set our chairs up on the edge of the water and soak in the warm sun. I am convinced there’s a beach in heaven. There is simply no better place on earth.

When I got married, my friend was one of my bridesmaids and she sang. I remember looking over at her singing that day but having to look away because I was about to burst into tears. It’s funny the things you remember. On Saturday, I became teary eyed again as I watched my friend sing at her husband’s memorial service. Her voice brought back so many memories. You see, it had been probably ten years or so since I had seen my friend.

After the service ended I made my way to see her. She gave me a big hug and I burst into tears. I told her I was so sorry. And she responded, “You never got to meet him.” You know, the older I get the shorter life seems. You think you’ll do it tomorrow. You expect everything will remain the same but it never does. There are no guarantees.

So, my question is, if we knew when our last day on this earth would be, what would we do with it? How would we spend our time? Who would we talk to? What would we say to them?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

Where is God When we Fall?

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Soccer season is in full swing. Early morning games on the weekends make us yearn for the off season until we arrive on the open field moistened with dew. The air is chilled and there is an underlying hope that this game will be epic. It wasn’t any different this weekend. Parents stood there with coffee as the girls began their warm-up routine. They had to win or tie to make the finals. After an hour, the team came away with another win. Oh it wasn’t an easy win, they had to fight for it making the victory that much sweeter. In the end, it moved them into a tie for first place. Their only reward was facing the aggressive and sometimes dirty team again. Regardless, they marched to the next battle.

Four games in two days will wear out even the most physically fit person. But these girls didn’t show any signs of exhaustion. They went to the field determined to win. They knew the championship was within reach because they had tied this team the day before. It was a tough game. The girls were aggressive, insulting and obnoxious but our team charged on. Every girl on that field fought hard and when their opponent scored, they fought even harder.

The score was 1-0 with the opposing team ahead. The clock was running out when our striker got the ball and headed for the goal. She outran their defenders but only by a few steps. We held our breath. This was it. When she made this goal she would tie the game pushing the deciding factor to penalty kicks. She planned her attack glancing toward the defenders when all of the sudden she tripped. She fell to her knees sitting on the ball. Her moment was over. The hope of a tie score had diminished as the ref blew his whistle giving the other team a free kick. Our striker was devastated. Those of us cheering her on fell silent.

My girl’s team lost. They finished in second place even though they played well. The coach worked hard to encourage them but their disappointment was obvious. Our striker hung her head refusing to be consoled. Her Dad, knowing her regret, made his way to her. Lifting her head, she looked at her father. Immediately her eyes flooded with tears. That tough young lady stood there and cried as her father held her.

Life is a battle. It’s hard to balance all we have to do. We have demands placed on us. There are things we are required to do. We struggle day in and day out to do the right thing, to have the right attitude and to honor Christ with our lives. Some days are victorious. Others we want to forget. But always, and I mean always, whether in joy or in pain, our Father is there. He celebrates with us and He comforts us when we fall down. There is nothing that can keep Him from coming to us because His deepest desire is to be with us.

As you walk through this week, know He walks with you. He is cheering you on. He is for you. He will guide you and show you the way. And when you trip and fall, He will offer you a hand up and a shoulder to cry on. He’s that kind of Father.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

(Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)

Kind Words

words

Last week, my girl had to give a speech in class. This alone sends shivers down my spine. My first experience with speech giving sent my seventh grade teacher into hysterical laughter. She doubled over with tears in her eyes cracking up. The thing was, it wasn’t meant to be funny. It wasn’t supposed to entertain and as the students carried on, I decided that would be the last speech I would give. And it was, at least in seventh grade.

Karoline told me she couldn’t bring herself to speak in front of the class so she postponed her speech a couple of days. When she finally stood before her peers, she started to cry. She said she pulled herself together and pushed through but was not at all impressed with her delivery. She was just happy to have it over with. I truly felt her pain.

Our experiences in life along with our beliefs develop our understanding. We become what we’ve experienced whether it is good or bad. We are humiliated when we make bad choices therefore becoming humble. We are offered mercy when we least deserve it making us more compassionate. We are forgiven for the worst offences allowing us to look past sin to the heart of the offender. Every single traumatic experience has caused us to grow and expand our perspective.

Our lives are filled with mountain top experiences and sprinkled with difficult times. It is in those times of struggle we draw closer to God. We rely on His strength. Our trust is solidified. It’s funny, but most people will talk about difficult times over the easy because that is where change has happened. When we push through we see it was not us, but God. And we learn we are dearly loved.

After my daughter gave her speech, she moved on to her math class. Her teacher told her she had heard about the speech. Karoline was surprised when she said she heard it was really good. Many, many people around us are struggling. Sometimes they just need to hear words of affirmation. We may not be at the same point, but we are all on the same road. It’s a wonderful thing to lift someone’s spirits and remind them we understand.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.(1 Thess. 5:11 NASB)

The Journey Home

traffic

It’s been a while since I took the time to sit and write. We traveled to visit family this summer and returned with only one week before beginning the new school year. I’ve missed my time praying, pondering and waiting for the Lord to speak to my heart. I’ve been thinking of this post for a couple of weeks though. I hope you enjoy it.

Our journey to return home was not as we had anticipated. We hoped for light traffic. We wished for dry weather. Unfortunately, our expectations were shattered with the heaviest traffic we had ever experienced on a trip. When the traffic cleared, we were met with torrential downpours. It was slow going for much of the journey home but we stayed the course. We finished, even if it was a few hours later than we had planned.

God doesn’t always answer our prayers in our time. Sometimes, His answer comes later. A few years ago I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It was a book challenging readers to step out of comfort to work diligently for the Lord. At the time I prayed. I asked God to show me. I continued to serve where I was but I wanted more. The thing is, it’s now three years later and I finally see what God wants me to do. I’m joining a ministry that brings the gospel into public schools. Several months ago, my church asked for volunteers and I knew this was where God wanted me. But why did God wait three years to answer?

You see, four years ago, I put two of my children into public school. I had home schooled them but they wanted to go to school. I knew the Lord had been prompting me to send them but I didn’t want to obey. I reluctantly gave in and it has proven to be one of the biggest blessings of our lives. When they first started, I went and had lunch with them at school. They were allowed to invite two friends to join us. They became popular and I became the “Cool Mom”. But that wasn’t what God had in mind. He was working in my heart developing a love for the children. As I sat and listened to their stories, I saw how precious they were. I never expected God to use this situation to grow a burden to share Jesus.

At the time of my prayer, I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t use me if I was so willing. Now I see that He was preparing me. Thinking back on our journey home, it reminded me there is a purpose in the slow traffic. There is a reason for the torrential downpours. If there is a delay, it is because God ordained it. And we will get to our destination precisely when the Lord determines.

I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. (Lev. 26:4 NIV)

rain

He Never Gives Up

ship

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. (Acts 27:20 NIV)

This verse is tucked away in Acts. Paul, a prisoner, was being transported when the storm hit. It wasn’t just a little storm, the Bible says, “a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster” came upon them. They couldn’t sail into the storm. Instead, the storm pushed them around. It was relentless and eventually, after many days, the crew lost hope.

Hope is an interesting concept. If you have it, your outlook is bright. You can withstand anything knowing whatever circumstances you are in will end. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you can just hold on, everything will be alright, eventually. But the men on this ship had lost hope. They gave in to the fear of death. They assumed all was lost, until Paul spoke up.

Paul stood before them reminding them of his previous admonition to stay put. He told them not to sail but they didn’t listen. They sailed for a living. They knew what to look for. They had no idea the storm was coming and if they did, they didn’t expect it to be so severe. Now Paul stood again to speak, and they listened.

Time and time again, God speaks to His people and they don’t listen. Their arrogance keeps them from hearing and obeying. They finally had ears to hear once they were out of options. I have found myself doing the same thing in life. I am presented with a circumstance and rather than ask God for direction, I exhaust every other avenue. I come up with option after option to solve this problem. It isn’t until I realize I’ve done everything I can think of, do I seek wisdom from God.

Certainly, God gave us a brain to use. He gave us intelligence. But ultimately, He wants us to allow Him into every area of our lives. He wants to be involved but we forget to listen. I’m thankful He never loses hope in us. He keeps at it teaching and guiding and blessing. He never gives up!