The most valuable building materials are not hiding on the other side of the world. There is no need for trucks or airplanes to get them to you. No, the most valuable building materials can be found right next to you; in your place and time. For, what you may see as mere rubble; cracked and broken pieces that can’t possibly amount to anything, God sees as gold. He sees promise. He sees the perfect stockpile of building materials from which to build new life and new hope. Our job is simply to hand Him every single broken, splintered piece; every fragment, no matter how wrecked or small. Indeed, no matter what it was that created such disarray in your life, God—the glorious and almighty Creator of all—is waiting to help you put it all back together and to build something beautiful, something better; a life that reflects Him; a life of purpose that brings you joy and brings Him glory. As His child, this is your birthright and the legacy He intended for you since before Creation. Let the remodeling begin. Thank you, Jesus. Amen and Ehmen!
And the Word of God Says…
Ephesians 1: 4-5: “For He chose us in Him, before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”
John 6:12: “…he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Writer’s Note: I have always hated stormy weather. I always found it frightening, and still do to some degree. However, about a year ago, as I sat outside on my patio and watched as a summer storm took over the skies over my home, God gave me these words and this “vision.” Makes me smile. 🙂
The darkness rises up from the horizon as if all the demons in hell are readying for battle. Rapidly they advance into the heavenly realms and the world beneath grows dim. The clouds loom darker as the sounds of battle begin. Thank God, the enemy has obviously met resistance. Thunder rolls as angels hurl lightning bolts at the aggressors and the sky lights up with instantaneous flashes of hope. The good guys are winning. They always do. And just as He has always promised, from the darkest of circumstances, the living waters of Heaven rain down on the earth. Thank you, God, for this day; for this storm; and for the beautiful things that will grow because of it. Amen and Ehmen. Have a beautiful day, y’all and embrace both the sunshine and the storms. Much love, Brenda.
Writer’s Note: My dad was on the receiving end of a robber’s bullet many, many years ago, when I was just a little girl, robbing me of the opportunity to grow up with a father in my life. I have since forgiven the one who took him from us, but it still hurts, even all of these decades later…
I sit and stare at the photograph. Like my memories, it is faded. I just don’t seem to remember much. Black and white, shades of gray memories. I know you once existed in physical form, but, unfortunately, our life together was way too short; pretty much just a foreword and preface to my own story. Sometimes I wonder if I have blocked memories of my childhood, just because your untimely departure hurt so much. Because I know if I remember the good times then I will also have to remember how those good times ended. Those were dark days, even for an 8-year old whose most pressing decision was whether or not to climb the tree in the backyard. One day you were there and the next you were gone. And even though my present mind sees our days together as a mere outline, like the beginning of a sketch without the details filled in, today, on this Father’s Day, I sit here and FEEL a flood of memories. I FEEL your warmth as we cuddled up on the couch and watched Elvis movies AFTER my bedtime. I FEEL your strength when you’d catch me as I leaped into your arms when you came home from work. Please forgive me if I ever hugged your neck too tight as I searched for that ever-present piece of gum in the pocket of your starched white shirt. I FEEL your gentleness and compassion as—after being banished to my room to “just wait until your father gets home—you arrived to lovingly correct me and, with the fluffy wallop of a pillow, forgave me of my transgressions. I FEEL the pride I felt when I was up at “daddy’s work.” Yes, that was me that was always rummaging in your desk drawers for change for the coke and snack machines, and no, I still do NOT want a piece of the fruitcake you sold for the Civitan Club. I FEEL thankful for all the family times, the vacations in Clearwater, Florida at the Sandlewood Hotel, the holidays, the dinners around the dining room table and all the moments for the eight years that we were together. For though I don’t remember many of the details, I DO remember the FEELINGs of LOVE—feelings powerful enough to help me navigate through your most devastating and tragic departure; through the difficult years that followed as we tried to put our lives back together; through the many years and many milestones that would have been so much more with you there; all the way through today as I spend this Father’s Day weekend feeling memories made more than four decades ago; memories that turned into a life time of love. Thank you, God, for my earthly dad and for this walk down memory lane. But, most of all, God, I thank you for YOU and for your promise that one day my stroll down Memory Lane will bring me to Heaven’s Gate where I will once again have the chance to jump into my Daddy’s arms. Make sure you have Juicy Fruit. It was always my favorite. Happy Father’s Day to you both. Amen and Ehmen!
Purposeful Pondering: Faith does not allow anyone to live above reality; it is instead a continuous fight. What distinguishes people of faith is not how rarely they hit the dirt, but how often they get up again. Just know that when the enemy flees to his corner, he is only preparing for the next round. Your job is to keep putting on the gloves. Do that and, no matter how bad those punches hurt, your rewards will surpass imagination. Have a blessed weekend and keep those gloves up! Amen and Ehmen!
Purposeful Pondering: Faith is not a requirement to gain God’s love. Faith is simply an avenue to completely FEEL God’s love; to experience it; to bask in it. Truth is, God loves you even when you feel unworthy. He loves you when you doubt Him. He loves you when you know you are traveling the wrong path and choose to travel it anyway. He simply always loves you and Faith is the wisdom to KNOW that! Have a blessed day. Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s Note: As I have mentioned on this blog before, I often “record” my personal God and prayer time by opening a blank page and typing the two-way conversation that ensues. It amazes me how much I get from it as it happens as well as later when I re-read it. How do I know His part of the conversation is definitely His part?Well, simply put, I am just not that smart. If anyone finds it helpful, I will continue to post some of these “blank page” conversations on Amen and Ehmen! Feel free to comment and let me know if any of my posts ever help you. And, remember, prayer is just talking and listening to our sweet, sweet Father in Heaven. Talk to Him. He’s always ready and waiting. Amen and Ehmen.
January 23, 2015 7:32 AM
It’s me. I really am going to try and do better about spending uninterrupted time with you in the mornings; time when I can record on paper my observations and thoughts as well as your answers and teaching. It still amazes me, when I only give you a few minutes of my day, just as I did earlier this week, you still spoke and shared with me such wisdom and love. As you know, I shared what you told me on Facebook, and it obviously helped others. I love this about our “blank screen” conversations and I love you, wanting nothing more than to do your will. Why, then, oh my Lord, do I not sit in front of this page more often? Why am I not going bed earlier so that I wake up earlier and have this time with you? It’s always fruitful. Always. Lord, I pray that you help me overcome any satanic attacks or even just plain fleshly laziness, so that I spend more time learning from you, taking instruction and then sharing that wisdom and love with others. I know that this is your will for me and I want nothing more than to please you and bring your lost children to you so that we can all one day live in the heavenly realms with you as one big, happy family. Amen and Ehmen.
Dear Child of Mine,
You are learning. Just keep your eyes trained on me. Keep your heart and your ears tuned to me. Together, we will overcome the temptations that threaten to steal the mission that I have assigned you. You can do this, if you just stick we me. That is the key, however; sticking with me. Apart from me you are nothing. And, in sticking with me, you must fully and completely trust me. This is where most of my children, including you, go wrong throughout life on earth. You say you trust me, but then you don’t listen to my instruction; you don’t obey my word. Do you not see how hypocritical this is? Now, don’t be deceived. You are not the only one who lives like this. It began with Adam and Eve and has continued throughout history. Even those after my own heart fell and still fall prey to this. I say this not to offer you an excuse, but to make you understand that this is not unique to you. And why is this important to understand? It is important to understand, because Satan will unceasingly and unfailingly try to convince you otherwise. Satan will tell you that you are a failure; that your disobedience is a sure sign that you must not love Me or believe in Me like you should. Or, even worse, that I, your Creator, could not possibly love someone like you. This is a lie from the deceiver; from the enemy. I love you unconditionally. No matter what.
This, however, does not mean you won’t be tested.
Everyone, my child, is tempted and tested, because everyone who has and will ever live has a purpose and a part to play in fulfilling my plans. Absolutely everyone. Satan, on the other hand, seeks to kill and destroy; not because he hates you, but because he hates Me and will do anything to try and thwart my plan. You are just a toy to him, a tool to be used and discarded. He even tried it with my own Son. Why, on earth, do you think you’d be immune?
Note what I just said, he “TRIED” it with my son. To try is to attempt and his attempt failed miserably. My son is pure and my son died for you, giving you the promise of eternal life and the ability to also fight back and come back. You can’t lose with Me on your side. Together, we turn temptations into failed attempts. And, I do one better than even that; for, if Satan is successful at tripping you, I will be there, not only to help you back up and to dust you off, but to use the dirt, the muck and the mire into which you fell to build something more; to teach you and those who witness or hear your story how to move even closer to me. I will never turn my back on you. Ever.
But, know this, too, My child, Satan is the quintessential deceiver and once he gets you down, he will use every trick in the book to keep you there. He is a master of smoke and mirrors and will turn every human weakness into a tool to keep you in bondage; to keep you wandering in the desert and as far away from your mission and path as possible.
Do you remember when my people wandered in the desert for 40 years on their way to the Promise Land? It took 40 years, a whole generation, to traverse a section of land that should have only taken a few days, had they followed my lead and direction. And, because of that, the majority of the generation that left Egypt for the Promise Land, died before they were able to enjoy the promise. This is to be a warning to you. Your life is a journey to your final destination, the promised land of heaven where you will live in peace and joy with me for all of eternity. But, you must follow my lead and fulfill your purpose of leading others into this glorious kingdom. If you don’t, you, too, may very well spend a lot of unnecessary years wandering in the desert where you are easily swayed by Satan, perhaps convinced that you are lost forever when, in reality, you are on the fringe of where your heart longs to be, with me!
You are close enough to touch me; to grab my hand. Don’t let the deceiver use your weakness, your hunger, your own personal pride to convince you otherwise. The desert, you see, can be simply a place you pass through on your way to Me, a place of training and learning. Or, counter-productively, you can allow it to simply become Satan’s sandbox.
May we all reach for His Hand today and stay far away from satan’s sandbox. Amen and Ehmen!
I am finding more and more truth in the old saying, “time flies” these days. In fact, the older I get, the old tick-tock seems to sprout bigger and faster wings, hijacking the moments and carrying each and every one of them far, far away. If we’re lucky, the good ones land somewhere in the recesses of our memories to be retrieved and enjoyed many times in the future and the not-so-good just keep floating into the dark abyss of time never to be recalled again or, better yet, they wind up in God’s toolbox where He repurposes them and turns each into something useful.
Actually, the truth is, God promises to always use our stuff. He says so many times throughout the bible and most expressly so in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to his purpose.” Notice, He says ALL things; not just some things, but ALL things. All He really wants in return is our unwavering love, another fact that He reminds us of throughout His word, such as in Matthew 22:3, when Jesus himself spoke the greatest and foremost commandment of all: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
My prayer today is that all of us learn to love God just like that—with all our heart, soul and mind—for I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is that kind of love that leads to full trust, obedience and dependence on Him and full dependence leads to guaranteed fulfillment of the purpose for which our Father created us. And that, my dear friends, will ultimately lead to the words we all long to hear straight from the lips of our Awesome God: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done!” Oh, how incredible that will be! I know it’s almost July 4th here in the United States, but this year, I say let’s forget Independence Day and start celebrating Himdependence Day!
Amen and Ehmen!
Don’t you just love that sometimes the most awesome things in life are those that defy logic; those that don’t necessarily make sense; those things—like God and Heaven—that require Faith; things like the moon, the stars, the sunrises and sunsets which you don’t have to understand to enjoy; things which require you only to be? I hope that today, no matter what is going on, that you find time to just be and to thank God that you are. Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s Note: I was one who had always spent her life living on the surface, surrounded by a host of family members and friends that I wouldn’t let go past my first couple of layers—my safety barrier, of sorts. And, while that’s sad, it isn’t near as heartbreaking realizing you’ve done the same thing with God. Sure, I had been saved. I was baptized at age 12 and then as an adult in college I had prayed the prayer of salvation. But, that’s where it stopped. I invited God in, but then I didn’t really doing anything else with Him. Instead of letting Him be my Father, I was treating Him more like an acquaintance, perhaps a distant relative; somebody I might seek out on special occasions or think about in passing. I just didn’t fully get it. I was still living for me. In recent years, however—and most especially within the past decade—I finally began getting what it means to have a relationship with God. A true relationship. Not just the bare minimum I need to get into Heaven. Not just a bunch of religion and rules, but instead a true and honest relationship with the God of our universe, my maker, my father, my friend. And, once I had a taste, I just couldn’t get enough. I just wanted to go deeper and deeper. It’s like being in love. I’m so full of joy and things that worried me before, all of a sudden hold no power over me. Sure, I still had problems. Still do. In fact, for the longest, my life didn’t change a bit externally. But, inside, I was completely changed. And I knew that, with faith, the external would eventually change as well. This is an entry from my personal God Journal’s and today, once again, I invite you into my personal journey as I truly began to walk with My Father; the beginning of a love story that just keeps getting better. I hope that today you are enjoying your own love story with Him. There is no better story that will ever be written. Amen and Ehmen!
God, the day I was baptized, I invited you into my heart, but, unfortunately, that’s about as far as it went. I was only 12 and was really following the lead of my friends and family that had gone before. Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they led me to you. It’s just that I didn’t truly get what it meant to be saved and baptized in your name, and though I had found you, I didn’t know what to do next and certainly didn’t know how to follow you. I guess you could say you were just an acquaintance I had made.
Then, when I got to college, my roommate—the daughter of a preacher—shared with me at a time when my mind and heart were more in tune, more open to you. This time, I went to a park where you and I could be alone. I sat under a tree and I earnestly prayed the prayer of salvation. And, in an instant, I felt transformed. I could feel the change inside and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you had given me the gift of eternal life.
Yet, even with this wonderful gift knowingly in my grasp, I still didn’t truly get what it meant to have you living inside of me. The gift remained wrapped. To my credit, instead of treating you like a mere acquaintance this time, I began treating you more like a guest—someone that I would invite to hang out with me from time to time. For years, decades even, I continued—out of sheer ignorance—to live for myself; to be as independent as possible and take care of everything all by myself and to invite you back only in times of desperation.
And, though I forced you into living in the background, the very shadows of my heart, still you remained steadfast and stayed with me. Regardless of how I treated you and despite my ignorance and stubbornness, you continued to shape me and bless me. Still, you called me your child. Still, you protected me. Still, your love and grace remained unfailing, unending, unconditional and absolutely unparalleled.
I just absolutely didn’t realize it—until a few years ago.
Shortly after the heart-wrenching devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, I began to realize that not only had I been holding you back in my own life, I wasn’t properly introducing my child to you either. I was keeping the greatest blessing you had ever given me away from you and I became compelled to do something about it. We began visiting churches, but much to my dismay, they didn’t feel all that welcoming and they reminded me of my childhood church that just seemed so riddled with hypocrisy that once I was old enough to choose, I chose no. I didn’t yet understand that the church wasn’t a building or that simply attending wouldn’t make me a good Christian. I didn’t yet understand that not all people that go to church are faithful servants; that many of them are just playing church and were just as confused and lost as me; that it wasn’t necessarily hypocrisy they exhibited, but the same ignorance and stubbornness I had been carrying for years. I also didn’t really get that a pastor couldn’t just dip me in some water or wave a magic wand and make me a good Christian. His or her job was really just to be a teacher, a shepherd that could lead me in the right direction, but it was totally up to me to actually get into your word and begin developing a one-on-one relationship. I didn’t yet realize that it was people just like me that are to be the church—your church.
So my search for a church home continued. In looking for something a little different from my southern Baptist upbringing, I tried Episcopal, Lutheran, and even non-denominational, but none felt right. Then, one day, just driving into town, I saw a billboard. On that billboard was a toddler sitting in front of the biggest bowl of English peas that I had ever seen with the slogan of “Now that you don’t have to.” Man, it was like that billboard was designed just for me as growing up I had spent hours upon hours sitting in front of bowls of English peas just like that…just staring at them and hoping they would disappear. Well, actually, as I got older, I came up with some tricks like raking them back in the bowl when everyone left the room. I had tried putting them in the trash, but got busted. And, I’d tried slipping them to the dog who, unfortunately, didn’t like them either. I could indeed relate to the kid on this billboard.
Now, don’t be mistaken, even though it was then my choice, I still chose not to do those little round green peas. But, I was intrigued enough with this billboard to try the church it advertised. The church was Harvest United Methodist and from the moment I first stepped into the Ramada Inn where it was meeting, I knew I was home. It just felt right. The people were welcoming, the message was relevant and not threatening to a still new, unformed Christian. And, the congregation was diverse, something important to me. That was almost eight years ago. (In 2015, it will be 13 years)
Today, all of those things still hold true, but I’m no longer a new, unformed Christian. And, God, you are no longer a mere acquaintance or part-time guest in my life; you are now a permanent resident, the sole landlord of my heart.
Thank you for sticking by me and for giving Billie and I such a wonderful church home. Amen and Ehmen!