The Word on Love…


Dear God,

This morning, as I realized I had once again got sucked into checking social media and playing on my phone in general, I opened the Bible app in an attempt to resuscitate my quiet time with You. I found today’s verse, pictured here, most captivating and have decided to use my time this morning putting it to the test. I can’t wait to see what You reveal. So, without further ado, the blank page is yours…Amen and Ehmen

Dear, Sweet, Stubborn and Loveable Child of Mine,

I love you. That should go without saying, but I like to say it anyway for a couple of reasons. One, and most especially when things get hard, My children often forget this.

And, two, love is the key that unlocks everything on heaven and on earth. It’s the foundation for all that is good, right and holy. It’s the driving force behind all creation; the very blood that pumps through My veins and powers my heart for all creation, most especially you and all of humankind, past and present. Without love, there would be no heaven or earth. There would be no you.

Love is…

Spend some time today meditating on what My Word says Love is. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Start by looking closely at the word “always,” Child. The dictionary defines this word as meaning at all times and on all occasions, forever, which is true. But look at the word closer. Not only is my love for you timeless and eternal, but I also thrive in expressing it in all ways as well.

Indeed, love is in everything that I do. Everything.

In the things that make you smile and the things that make you cry. The things that bring you joy and the things that bring you pain. Everything that I do; everything that I allow in your life is wrapped in love.

Make a note though, Child. While all things are wrapped in love, all things that bring you heartache and pain do NOT come from love. They ARE  transformed by love and given back to you as a gift.

What you do with that gift is up to you. You can let it collect dust on a shelf, never unwrapping it to reveal the gift inside, or you can do as I have always intended—unwrap it and use it! Share it with the world; use it to help bring others into My Kingdom.

To do anything less has tragic consequences which mourn My soul.

I love you, Child, and I trust you will do the right thing. I made you. I know you. And I believe in you. My gifts will never be wasted on you.

Go forth and be fruitful. Go forth in love.

Bereaving a bully


Earlier this week I read of yet another classmate’s untimely demise. The older I get, the more frequent these reports seem to come and my reaction is usually pretty much the same—a smorgasbord of emotions.

If the person knew Jesus, I find myself consoled, but still saddened for their loved ones. I then usually spend some time thinking about the good old days and, wonder how they could have possibly passed so quickly.

However, this week’s news did not spark a welcomed walk down memory lane at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.

My mind seemed hell-bent on traveling to a time some 45 years ago where hurtful words repeatedly hurled in a locker-adorned junior high hallway still echo deep inside.

What? Why does something that happened so long ago still linger in the recesses of my mind? Why, when I haven’t given it a thought it all these years, does the mere mention of a name bring it all back to the forefront?

The purpose of this is, by no means, to shame the unnamed or to defile her memory in any way. But, I do See the source imagethink it important to remind everyone to be careful what you say to others and to remind your kids to do the same. What you say does have the power to hurt another and to haunt them long after the words themselves have fallen silent.

Truthfully, at my age, it’s kind of embarrassing, to realize that I still harbor such feelings about someone I haven’t seen or talked to in four-plus decades.  

But, now that I know, I have asked God to help me lay both to rest; to help me to forgive her just as He has forgiven me; to replace the negative memories her name evokes with a celebration of The Father’s unyielding grace and mercy.

Please, Father, I ask you to grant her family and loved ones peace and comfort during this difficult time and help me to look forward to a second chance at friendship when it comes my time to join You both in Heaven.

Amen and Ehmen!

Chasing Peace


 

nature shot at stone mountain

All this time spent chasing peace. The wrong places. The wrong faces. A team of could have beens and should have beens that, in truth, would never be.

A world—both external and internal—rocked by evil and wrong, unfathomable madness and mayhem. So much needless strife and stress. Disappointment and failure. Physical and emotional strains and pains. Needless, but not pointless.

The fact is that it is in the useless that God finds value; in the meaningless that meaning and purpose is birthed. It is in the turmoil of life that we unearth peace; it is in uncertainty that we find faith and what was once exceedingly evasive is finally discovered lying dormant within.

Thank you, Jesus, for not only planting peace inside of our hearts, but for always, always standing guard so that no one and no thing can ever take it away—not even the loss of a job or a loved one that we thought would last forever. My friend Denny and I know this first hand. We have lived it before and are living it now. And it is good.

My prayer today is that you, too, wake the peace that slumbers within, giving all of yourself—your troubles and your victories—to the Prince of Peace, your Father and Mine, the Lord God Almighty.

He loves you and so do we! Amen and Ehmen.

More about Peace from Gotquestions.org:

The Bible has a lot to say about peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Paul refers to “the God of all peace” (Romans 15:13, 33; Galatians 6:16). The term peace is often used as a greeting and a benediction (see Luke 24:36). So what exactly is peace, and how can we have “inner peace”?

A word often translated “peace” in the Bible actually means “to tie together as a whole, when all essential parts are joined together.” Inner peace, then, is a wholeness of mind and spirit, a whole heart at rest. Inner peace has little to do with external surroundings. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He had also told His followers that “in this world you will have many troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of God.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When the “God of all peace” comes to live inside a believing heart (1 Corinthians 6:19), He begins to produce His own characteristics in that life. Inner peace comes from knowing that circumstances are temporary and that God is sovereign over all (Isaiah 46:9–11). Peace comes from exercising faith in the character of God and His Word. We can have peace in the midst of challenges when we remember that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can choose peace rather than give way to fear and worry. Inner peace resulting from a relationship with God allows us to keep things in proper perspective. We can accept difficult situations on earth by remembering that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

We are commanded to “live in peace” with others, as far as it is up to us (Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 12:14). To live at peace means we interact with those around us in accordance with our own wholeness of mind. Our reactions to circumstances can bring peace to an otherwise chaotic situation. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). And James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” God’s desire is that we who know Him learn to live in peace within ourselves first. Then we can radiate that peace to others, bringing calmness and wisdom to tense situations, and in so doing be lights in the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:14–15).

Our Father who art in Heaven…


The Lord's Prayer Photo

Earlier this week, I was asked to review a lesson for an upcoming church-wide bible study. The study is designed to teach us how to be grounded in prayer as taught by Jesus Himself through the The Lord’s Prayer. What beautiful words!

But, The Lord’s Prayer should be more to us than beautiful prose that we learn to recite as a part of our church experience. According to Jesus, it is meant to be a model of how we should pray and, even though it isn’t all that long, not not one word is wasted. Each word is overflowing with meaning which we should not only lock into our minds, but that we should fully understand and experience in our hearts as well.

In fact, that’s exactly what I think Jesus means in the verses immediately preceding The Lord’s Prayer. Matthew, Chapter 8, Verse 7 and 8, say: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look or sound like a pagan and thankfully we don’t have to if we follow Jesus’ lead and understand that God knows what we need before we even form the first word. This, alone, should change the way we pray.

Today, let’s look at the first sentence of The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father

Right off the bat, Jesus bundles us up in a warm, cuddly security blanket and reminds us that we are praying not to just any father, but to OUR Father. His Father—the Father of Heaven and Earth—is also my father and your father. Let that really sink in. God is YOUR Dad. He calls you His child and longs for you to call Him Father.

Who Art in heaven,

I think Jesus skillfully added these words to remind us that our Father is above all and limitless in His power, authority and love. Even if you haven’t had a good father here on earth, most of us know what qualities make a good dad. Ponder for a moment about those qualities and realize that your Heavenly Father possesses all of them multiplied by infinity.

Hallowed Be Thy Name.

While “Our Father” reminds us who we are—God’s children—and his location in Heaven confirms that He is above all and without limit, “hallowed be thy name” reminds us who God is—the Creator of Heaven and Earth who is worthy of our praise. As humans, we can sometimes take for granted that which is closest to us, but with these words, Jesus prompts us to always acknowledge and bless our Father in Heaven with every ounce of honor, glory and praise we can muster.


My Prayer Today…

Oh, how I love you, my dear, sweet Father. Though I never got the chance to really know my earthly dad, I thank you for always being that safety net and security blanket in which I can rest. Thank you for your infinite love and for the knowledge that all things are within Your control and that there is absolutely no reason for me to worry, fret or fear. With all that I am, I praise You for all that You are—the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. My Dad. Forever and ever. Amen and Ehmen.

Red Rover, Red Rover…


God, I hear You calling and I’m trying desperately to catch up with You; to walk beside You, to synchronize my steps with Yours. But, I’m continually running into obstacles.

As if on cue from satan himself, out of the shadows step the demons of doubt, fear and deprecation. red rover red rover croppedThey stand in front of me and block my path, arms locked together as if to engage me in a game of Red Rover.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over,” they chide, demonic laughter filling the air and assaulting my confidence and my faith. I can’t help but shiver as their Goliath-sized shadows hijack the sun’s warmth as well as its light. It becomes a battle just to see.

And, yet, their purpose is dreadfully clear. They have come to intimidate, threaten, frighten, scare, bully, coerce, terrorize, daunt and taunt me; to keep me frozen in place and far away from the purpose that You prepared for me before the first word of Creation was ever uttered.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over.”

My mind starts to reel; to unravel like a runaway spool of thread. I can either run away and live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up on You or I can face this thing head on.  I breathe deep and step back a few steps so that I can gain more momentum. There is no way I’m giving up, I mutter to myself. I will simply close my eyes and run with all my might, straight through their arms and into Yours.  

But, oh sweet Lord, the growls of my opponents are becoming louder and more obnoxious. And, as much as I want to walk with You–to fulfill my purpose–I can’t help but notice how grotesquely strong they look. How on earth will ever be break their hold, I ask myself, and, with no immediate answer, I shrink back in defeat without ever taking a step.

Defeated. Beaten. Overwhelmed and overcome.  I look down at my feet frozen in place as the enemies’ taunts crescendo in victory.  They win. Again.

The only thing I have left now is to pray. But I don’t even know where to start. I am so ashamed that I once again let the enemy defeat me, to hold me back. With the words “I’m sorry, Lord” rising up through my spirit, I begin to hear a still small voice. It is a warm, familiar and very quiet voice, but still somehow louder than the enemy’s raucous heckling. I immediately recognize that it is You.

“Get up, child,” You whisper sweetly. “Get up, but don’t try to run with all your might; this time, child, run with Mine.”

Your words, gentle and powerful at the same time, send a surge of encouragement and pronounced strength coursing through my spirit, mind and body. I rise up into a crouch position just like that of an Olympic sprinter and, with the sound of cheering angels ringing in my ears, I open my eyes. I see the band of demons still outstretched before me and I see their mouths moving. It sure looks like they are still talking trash, but the words filling the air about me are beautiful, peaceful, encouraging.

“It’s over, It’s over, Brenda come on over.”

I can no longer contain myself and, even though I still see the demons, I take off running toward the beautiful sound. And, as I run faster and harder than I dreamed possible, the heavenly cheers grow louder and louder and the demons grow smaller and smaller until I finally burst though their evil stronghold with the fortitude and power of a wrecking ball.

I hold up my arms in victory and as the dust settles around me, I see You standing there in all your Glory.Victory Photo 1-John-4-4-You-Are-Of-God-beige-copy You smile a knowing smile. You’ve been here all the while; waiting on me; cheering me on.

Lord, thank You, for never giving up on me, even when I give up on You; for having faith in me, when my own faith waivers. Thank You for sending Your spirit to intervene when the enemy lines look too strong to break through and for helping me to stand firm when I feel weak. Thank you, Lord, for Your willingness to keep reminding me that, with Your help, I DO have the strength and power to run full steam ahead into Your will and purpose, for it is there that You dwell and it is there I wish to dwell also.  With all that I am, I praise You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

It’s About the Journey. Fight For It.


June 13, 2017

 

Dear God,

Good morning and thank you for waking me up for this time with you. I realize I drag my feet sometimes dear godand I pray that you will help me to eagerly approach our time together. Once I am here, I am always blessed and filled. Yes, Lord, it is in You that I desperately want to invest, not my flesh’s desire to sleep or spend time on trivial things.

Today is a big day for me and for mom, both for the same and different reasons. I pray that you keep Your hands on both of us as with traverse what lies ahead, and that you guide not only us, but those people with whom we are dealing. My interview. Mom’s closing. My test results. Our dealings regarding mom’s chair. You know our individual needs, Lord, and I pray Your blessings and mercies over each of us, that Your will be done and Your Glory shine through us as we interact and react in ways that are reflective of who You are and who we are in You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

Dear Child,

I am so pleased with your desire to follow me and to fulfill the purpose and plan I have mapped out for you. But, I admonish you to follow through on the commitments you make to Me in your efforts to follow this path. As long as you are on earth, you will always have to fight against your flesh, but you have everything that you need to win this battle. You have Me.

Let’s start with the obvious. Your flesh wants to sleep or wants to wallow in bed and be lazy. You can’t alarm clock redcater to your flesh and meet with Me at the same time. But, how do you combat this? Follow the schedule we worked on yesterday. Go to bed on time. Don’t get caught up in all the things you still need to do. There will always be things to do and satan will happily try to keep you awake thinking about each one of them. Picture a hamster on a wheel. This is not necessary. You need proper rest to stay on your journey, but it is up to you to get that rest.

Physical exercise is another necessity. Go for a walk, child. Oh, how I have loved our walks together and I know that you have too. I am blessed when you include me and I am just waiting for you to receive the blessings that I desire to pour over you. I want to douse you in love, in wisdom and all the many beautiful facets of your inheritance now. You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven, my child. Heaven, after all, is not just a destination. Heaven is the journey you take with Me. Look around, take it all in and thank me. I love you, my dear child. Stay with me and know that I am with you always till the end of time…

 

 

There is Direction in Connection


dear godJune 11, 2017

Dear God,

It’s been a tough few weeks. Well, actually, while the situation has been tough, my reaction to it has surprised me. Never in a million years would I expect to be this calm and, dare I say even excited, about being unemployed for the first time in almost four decades. I can see Your beautiful fingerprints all over this and I know that I know that THIS is the answer to my prayers and to the many prayers spoken on my behalf during a most tumultuous year. Finally, I am forced to settle into the faith that resides inside; to nestle into Your lap and watch you work. It’s time to put my faith where my mouth is; to practice what I preach; to trust You unconditionally. I am ready, but ask that You help me along the way. I am sure I will have my moments, but I know that with You by my side, I can do anything that You lead me to do. Help me, Lord, to remember that and to keep my eyes fixed on You as I continue this exciting journey into your will and my purpose. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

You are right to see this situation as an answered prayer and am pleased that you are committing to following my lead into your future. So many of my children, you included—despite desires otherwise—tend to see living by faith as a risky investment. The fact is I Am the only sure thing you will ever encounter prior to arriving in Heaven.

Jobs end. People leave. Money and things disappear. But, I, My dear child, will always be here and am the same loving parent as I was yesterday, am today and will be tomorrow.

Brenda, it has grieved My heart to see you go through such pain and suffering with your job. It especially saddened Me to lose connection with you as you struggled to keep your head above water this past year. This was never meant to be. Remember, My dear one, that nothing can ever separate us. I simply cannot and will not allow it.

Romans, 37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.…

And, so, here we sit. You are right where I want you, child—right beside Me. Close enough that you can feel My heartbeat and hear My voice. Your future of prosperity is wrapped in peace and your purpose contains more joy than you can imagine, and are all found in Me. I am the safety net for which you have always dreamed. All I ask of you is to connect with Me continually and to know that it is in that connection that I shall give you the direction and wisdom you seek. I love you, child

Tribe of Thorns


With time not my own this past year, I have let most of the flowerbeds around my house Thorny weedgo. Thisthorns week I decided to tackle them, one by one, starting with a particularly unruly looking bed alongside the fence.

The first thing I noticed as I surveyed the situation was a growing number of prickly vines. Armed with thorns, they infiltrated the fertile ground and stood watch over a second army of unwanted weeds.  They looked like green goliaths wielding tiny swords ready to pierce the skin of any intruder that threatened their mission to overtake the flowerbed.

Standing between and behind these evil, self-proclaimed soldiers were other thorny vines that had certainly seen better days. Brown and brittle, it was obvious that they were the senior ones amongst this tribe of thorns. I reached in to grab one of the weaker ones, but quickly pulled back as a river of red broke through the surface of my skin and rolled down my arm. Ughhh! I guess Grandpa had a little life in him after all. Ornery old thorn.

It is then that I heard God whisper deep into my spirit:

“It is not just the thorns of today that can hurt you, my child; the thorns of your past will continue to hurt you as long as you leave them unattended. You must suit up and face them; cut them off and throw them into a pile to be burned. They may look dead, brittle and harmless, but looks are deceiving. If you will let Me, dear child, I will help you tend the garden of your soul—pulling up the old and new vines of thorns and allowing the beautiful and the fruitful to flourish.”

Sigh. Thank You, Lord, for these special teaching moments and, above all, for loving me unconditionally. I ask You now, Father, to help me rid my soul of weeds and thorns, both the new and the old. I want nothing more than to be fruitful; a beautiful garden for which you are proud to call Your own. I am Yours. Amen and Ehmen.