REORDERING OUR LIVES!

 

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In a moment God can reorder your life, eliminate confusion, create the new, and establish you in that new place!

It would seem that I learn some of my greatest lessons through life’s simplest experiences. If I’m not careful though, my busy mind will bypass these situations with no further thought as to what the Lord might be saying to me. Ever been there?

For several years I’ve been working from our bedroom in a comfortable chair where I read, write, study, etc. I did have an office, but it’s now been converted to a makeshift bedroom for when guests come. I had a small antique table next to my chair that you see in the picture above. It’s been piled with everything I needed access to–mail, books, notebooks, pens, pads, and the list goes on. I would try to rearrange and organize it, but invariably it would sooner or later (mostly sooner) end up in a mess where I could never find things. Sometimes I would even have to move to my bed where I could spread things out to find what I needed.

A few days ago, my husband was walking through asking me about a particular piece of mail to which I replied, “It’s somewhere in the pile.” I was sitting on the bed looking at the mess when suddenly I saw a “bookcase!” Now as you’ve been reading this, that solution may have already occurred to you. But it had never crossed my mind. Maybe I thought there wasn’t enough space for it, or who knows my logic. I did some quick measurements, and headed to Walmart for their infamous “furniture in a box,” which is usually in “50 million pieces!” But my husband, Roger, can put anything together, so I was greatly inspired to complete this objective as soon as possible. Miraculously they had one style of shelf, which was within an inch of each of my measurements! Roger came through, putting his skills to work, having it together by nightfall even with all the manufacturer challenges. Not to belabor this further, but I was so excited that I got the whole family involved. The next day my daughter, Sherry, bought me these practical yet beautiful little baskets/containers (See the one with the little bird?) to organize my things. Now everything is accessible and ordered right next to my “work chair.”

 

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All of this caused me to consider the many things that can be out of order in our lives and the solutions God has ready for us. However, we can’t just keep rearranging our messes hoping for a different outcome. When it’s time to embrace the new that God has for us, we can’t keep holding onto the old. (After all that was my parents’ table they purchased in the 1940’s, and I had to use it. Now it’s in the makeshift bedroom. Oh, dear!)

Maybe the transformation you need is not as simple as the purchase of a bookcase, but the Father who opened my eyes to see this simple alteration is ready and willing to enlighten you no matter how desperate or disorderly things are in your life. Remember all it takes is a second in time where we actually hear and receive His Word, His revelation, His wisdom about a particular situation. All the circumstances may not change immediately, but suddenly you’ve got the word and insight you desperately needed. Disorder becomes order; chaos comes under His authority and control; frustration and fragmentation are replaced with joy and fruitfulness. In just one moment, He can turn your mess into a miracle!

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“TAMING THE BEASTS!”

“TAMING THE BEASTS!”

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(From Public Domain Images)

It sounds somewhat like a circus act, doesn’t it? If you’re from my generation you can definitely relate. If you’re the younger generation, you may not be familiar with the infamous lion tamer in the center ring of the circus holding the lions at bay with the use of a whip and a chair. But this is not about those kinds of “beasts!” The beasts we’re referring to are the “mind” and the “mouth.” Not that they have to be “beasty,” but without some “taming,” they can quickly become that!

Think for a minute about the two things that you have to constantly say to small children when you’re in a public setting and even otherwise: “Be still and be quiet!” Those seem to be two of the most difficult things for them to achieve. Guess what? Even when we’re all grown up, it still seems to be the hardest thing for us to do. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Is it as hard for you to get still as it is for me? My predisposition is constant motion; that goes for my mind too. Romans 8:7 tells us that the carnal or fleshly mind is enmity against God (hostile, unfriendly, opposing). So the mind can be likened to a “beast,” having to be subdued and controlled. Then about the mouth, James 3:3-12 tells us that the tongue is untamable; it says no man can tame the tongue. You can tame a lion, but you can’t tame a tongue! We’ve all been subject to this “beast,” and thankfully we have recourse. But only the Holy Spirit, as we submit to Him, can produce this control. In fact one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:23), which will tame the mouth and the mind

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(From Public Domain Images)

Thankfully we have a solution for “taming the beasts.” But keep in mind there’s an act of submission that’s required for this process to occur. We have to make a decision to voluntarily limit what we might choose for something of greater priority and higher purpose. His purpose, His priority, His command, intimacy with HIM IS the higher purpose!

As we “tame” the mind and the “mouth” and get still and silent before the Lord, invariably we tend to have expectations: Will I be able to hear Him? What will I hear the Lord say? Will I get some answers I’ve desperately needed? Let’s remember that above all, our Father may simply desire for us to enjoy quiet fellowship with Him. Maybe His plan is to “brood” over you and create something you didn’t even know you needed. Maybe He wants to re-write some things on your heart to break old patterns that have kept you from the best He has for you. Whatever the case may be, it’s worth “taming the beasts.” Interestingly, as the story goes, the reason the lion appears to be tamed is because he is single minded and can’t focus on all four legs of the chair at the same time. He has to be still and attempt to focus because of being single minded! I think there’s a lesson in that for us!

So whether it’s the first thing when you awaken in the morning, the last thing before you go to sleep at night, in your quiet time, at random moments during your day, or at a traffic light on your way to work–wherever! The word for all of us is to submit, make time, be still, be quiet, focus, be single minded, and let the “beasts” be tamed! Let everything that concerns you be absorbed by His Presence! God wants to empower and ready you through intimate times with Him.

Remember, His Kingdom is arising in unprecedented ways in this hour. One particular circus was known for the line, “The greatest show on earth!” We are yet to see “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH” as GOD covers the earth with His glory and reveals His splendor and power through His Church!

 

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IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS!

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

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As we prepare for Thanksgiving here in the U.S., we are grateful for this opportunity to pause and reflect on the blessings and goodness of God that we’ve experienced throughout the year! We know it’s always a “thanksgiving season,” but we value this designated time set by our nation to STOP and GIVE THANKS! How extraordinary an opportunity and certainly to be treasured when you consider the battles we’re confronted with to preserve such holidays as well as our Christian heritage!

This morning as I began my quiet time, I was reading the devotional from yesterday from Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling. This really caught my attention: “THANKFULNESS takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).” This is supernatural and our natural mind can’t comprehend it! It’s beyond our capacity to understand in the natural how this can even work, but God, our loving Father, gives us this command so we can walk in freedom and peace!

I realize that holidays can be difficult for many people.  They struggle during this season for numerous reasons: loss of a loved one, illness, loss of job or provision, fear of the future, unpleasant or destructive things that have occurred at holidays, and multitudes of other things that come to rob them of a thankful heart. But God’s Word “commands” us to give thanks in all situations! This doesn’t trivialize or oversimplify anyone’s grief or circumstances, but instead it’s an encouragement to step into the divine exchange–your sorrow, fear, oppression in exchange for His joy and peace! There are no restrictions, no burdens, no captivities, no oppressions, no circumstances too difficult–nothing is exempt from this Truth! The focus on your adversity will defeat you whereas the focus on the Lord and a thankful heart will free you!

We had a friend years ago that said Thanksgiving was generally a time for dysfunctional families to come together, do their dysfunctional thing, and then end by sitting around eating pumpkin pie. This is sad but often true! Maybe words of thankfulness would help to dismantle the dysfunction! As you begin your Thanksgiving Holiday, and as you embrace this time of “thanksgiving,” be challenged to move into a new place of thankfulness that embraces each moment with a heart as well as words that express thanks in all situations. Be sure to tell your friends and family members how thankful you are for them, even those that know how to “push your buttons.” Pray for those in the Body of Christ who are buried in thankless attitudes. And above all pray for those who don’t know the Lord, that they will come to experience and encounter the greatest reason in the world to be thankful–the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ!

Have a Joyful Thanksgiving!

Next Blog Post: Eternal Relationships Part 3Leaf Wreath

 

PART 2: ETERNAL RELATIONSHIPS!

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Building Eternal Relationships–Is it possible we’ve made this too difficult?

As I began to write this post, the words from some of the children’s songs of the ’60’s and ’70’s began to come to me.  As a mom of small children during that era, I was well versed with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Captain Kangaroo! Those programs must have impacted me as I was chasing a toddler, changing diapers, and being thoroughly engaged in what I considered survival! Today I could hear the words of a song encouraging children to say, “please and thank you.” So I had to go on the Internet and listen to Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo serenade their audiences (children & adults) once again. It brought back some fond memories of a time when good manners, honor, respect, and fair play were proudly touted through these children’s programs.

As I hummed along with the tunes, I thought about how many marriages might experience healing and breakthrough if they followed some of the humble suggestions presented in these programs. Or if they just simply applied the Golden Rule! What’s that you say? Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Here’s what that Scripture says in The Message Bible: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” (Matt. 7:12)

You mean instead of thinking about myself and what I want done for me and running over others in the process, I could actually treat others the way I want to be treated, expecting nothing in return? I could actually focus on honoring others for who God made them to be (not based on their behavior)? I could encourage them based on the gifts I know they have? I could look for opportunities to do small deeds of kindness for them? I could just exhibit some good ‘ole fashioned manners? The list goes on folks–let’s get creative! Instead of a cutting comment or a reminder of how disappointed I am with their behavior, I could think of something profound to say, for example: “I’m so thankful that you are in my life. I can’t wait to see the wonderful gifts you have being fully expressed through you!” OK, I know what you’re thinking, and don’t roll your eyes!  The truth is I could invest, invest, invest, and since Jesus says it’s more blessed to give than receive, I could in turn actually begin to get my socks blessed off!

Folks, the little things mean more than we think. We like to over analyze, spiritualize, scrutinize, justify, relegate blame, accuse, etc. I’m not trying to over simplify this, but I just feel we need to back up and use some of the most basic tools of warfare the Lord has given us. I believe one of the most helpful sections in the New Testament is in Romans 12:9-21. Please read it when you have time!

Sadly when you ask some Christians about their relationships, you can almost sense the walls going up and the emotions shutting down. They definitely prefer not to discuss it! As believers we need to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I’m encouraging all of us to evaluate how we’re treating others. We could be wounding and creating division with relationships that have eternal value and that God wants to use in building His Kingdom.

Relationships are our greatest commodity.  As I shared in a friends blog a couple of years ago, relationships that come easy are “icing on the cake” and the wonderful blessings of this life! But we should never discount relationships that are difficult!  They can be an even greater commodity because they force us to draw near to God where we end up experiencing amazing personal transformation, and we learn to put the basics of obedience into practice.  Ultimately those “difficult relationships” can become “added icing on the cake,” and maybe the very ones that are lasting and eternal!

So, don’t make it too hard, friends! Just practice what you preach!!

 

PART 1: ETERNAL RELATIONSHIPS!

It is a beautiful tea set–china given to us by a church in Belfast, Ireland! I couldn’t have imagined this would be an open door to revelation regarding eternal relationships! I’ve always collected teacups in my adult life, but they’ve sat in a china cabinet for the occasional viewer, followed by the stories of how each one was acquired. Several times I wondered if there couldn’t be a greater purpose for these beautiful pieces of china. I experimented a few times using the teacups with my granddaughters or young women in our church that I mentor. We would discuss their concerns and I would encourage and download things the Lord was speaking to me for them. They seemed to enjoy the “tea time” as their generation for the most part rarely stops for an occasion such as this. Then our 50th Anniversary trip to Europe was planned for the spring of this year. One evening at a meal with the pastor and his wife and a few other people from their congregation in Belfast, I began to share about how I love to mentor young women and have tea parties with them. Lo and behold, a few nights later at a special anniversary party for us, they presented us with a gorgeous tea set saying they wanted to plant a seed into the lives of these young women.

I was so looking forward to the first official tea party with the new tea set. It took a while, as life was busy upon our return from Europe, which is typically why most never stop for this type of optional luxury. Many in the younger generation barely pause for a family meal together much less a non-essential “tea party.”

If you could have seen the young woman’s eyes when she stepped into my dining room and saw the beautiful tea set with cloth napkins and special little cupcakes called “bundtini’s.” As the tea party progressed, the Lord began to speak to me about the effort and price that must be expended in order to build eternal relationships. In this relaxed but unique atmosphere where a special effort had been made just for her, I began to sense a new openness and the relationship building in a new way. The Lord began to speak to both of us about the honor that’s released when we treasure each other enough to invest at this level. The tea set was like a key for unlocking something very significant. Just as it is fragile and beautiful, relationships are also fragile and beautiful. Tea sets have to be treasured and cared for, but also utilized. They can sit in china cabinets, or they can be brought to the table where they can bless people. Relationships have to be treated in the same manner. So often we walk by and view them, but we don’t take the time to bring them into a setting where they can be valued and shared.

It’s through the building and treasuring of relationships that we get positioned for valuable life lessons and encounters that strengthen us for life’s challenges! Social media has it’s purpose, but we should never let it replace face to face encounters–coffee with a friend, an actual sit down dinner with your family, or…a tea party!

Jesus chose a table setting to reveal to His disciples an act of covenant that would redeem all of mankind!

In the next blog post we’ll look more at the value and building of eternal relationships!

EVERYONE NEEDS A “HETTIE HUG!”

Do you have a “Hettie Lue Brooks” to hug and to hug you?

Several weeks ago we drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas for a funeral and celebration service for Don Brooks, “Pop,” Hettie Lue’s husband of 60 plus years who went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, June 4th. It was a day of tears, remembrances, reflections, reconnecting with many old friends, laughter, and above all–praise and worship of our God whose redemption allowed a man to leave such a huge legacy for the Kingdom.

Don & Hettie Lue Brooks built Brookhill Ranch, founded Brookhill Ranch Summer Camp, Christian Ministries Church, and Christian Ministries Academy, beginning over 50 years ago. Roger & I and our family have been huge recipients of the treasured deposits released through this ministry. For a twenty-year period I only missed one of Hettie Lue’s Women’s Seminars that she holds each spring and fall at Brookhill Ranch. I told her at the funeral that had it not been for her being a spiritual mom to me and making rich deposits into my life over the years, Roger & I would likely not have a marriage or a ministry! I believe the relationship the Lord gave us with this family helped to set the course for our lives and for the ministry He’s given us to steward. What if we had refused to align with God’s provision? It’s a daunting possibility to consider!

It was a four and a half hour drive for us both ways, but as Hettie Lue said to us after the service, “I can’t believe you drove all that way. But this isn’t about driving all that distance for an hour and a half service, is it? It’s about something much bigger.” I believe the “much bigger” she was referring to has to do with the relationships God has built. Those relationships transcend time and effort. They go beyond seeming inconvenience or discomfort. They call upon us to give, and give, and give some more even when it’s not conducive to pleasure or ease. Everyone needs those kinds of relationships, lifetime relationships that stand the test of time, the test of life’s battles, and more than likely offenses and disappointments as well. Those relationships are not ostentatious or pretentious–they are real, and they last for eternity! They are one of the primary things God uses to guide us into our destiny!

Even if your life is spinning out of control and the future is uncertain, when you get a “Hettie Hug,” somehow you know in your heart that all is OK. You know because you’ve watched God build and bring forth fruit from 30 years of relationship. You know that a God Who honors relationships and builds upon them in this manner will never disappoint you. You can trust Him no matter what!

So maybe you don’t have 30 years of relationship with a “Hettie Lue,” but you start with that someone, that wise mentor that God brings across your path. You become accountable; you listen to counsel; you honor them; you embrace the wisdom, truth, and yes, even correction that they release into your life. Then when you have that interchange–those hugs you receive from your “Hettie” or your “Don,” and the hugs you give them, there will be a knowing in your heart that your Father has orchestrated and built something that’s beyond mere human friendship. It’s eternal, and it’s meant to equip you for the next stage of fulfilling your destiny and bringing glory and honor to Jesus!

Maybe the Lord is asking you to be a “Hettie” for someone! Of course it will be costly. To father and mother untold numbers over the years has cost Don and Hettie Lue Brooks everything! But when we sat in the service and heard the stories of redemption and victory, we were reminded again that this is God’s economy. This is His plan for multiplication–laying your life down and investing in one life at a time–hugging one person at a time!

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

 

UPGRADING OUR HEARING!

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If you’re a so-called “baby boomer,” you probably recognized this strange looking device right away. If you’re younger, this little apparatus is a transistor radio! I remember receiving mine one Christmas and the excitement of knowing I could have such easy access to the music I enjoyed. I’m sure I walked home from junior high school (that was the 1950’s version of middle school) listening to my radio–imagine that, and without it being plugged into an electrical outlet!

I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with spiritual insight or revelation. Well this morning while waiting before the Lord, a vision of one of these little devices came to me. As you can imagine, I was trying to figure out what that had to do with my special time of trying to hear His voice.  When I see or hear something, I initially want to know if there’s a personal application. My thoughts were, “God are you telling me this is my level of ability to receive “transmissions” from you?” “Wow! Surely I’m not that far behind.” But I do believe it was a word to me and maybe to you also. I believe He was saying we need to upgrade our ability to hear and receive from Him in this season.

Nowadays the trend is to receive information and communication while multi-tasking. It’s not that God won’t speak to you in the midst of another task, but we should never assume this is the preferred mode of communication with Him or even with others. The world’s communication technology has drastically improved, advanced, and literally gone beyond what we could have imagined 50 years ago, and we’ve only touched the surface of communication. But where are we in the Church? Has our communication with the Lord, our ability to hear and receive transmission from Him heightened and improved? Or do we still receive with the capacity of the transistor radio from the ’50’s and ’60’s?

We understand that in some situations persecuted believers cannot publicize, phone, or even text information about gatherings due to the possibilities of being tracked and arrested. They have to pray and ask God where they’re to meet other believers in order to assemble together. In a life or death situation, they have learned to hear the voice of God!

I believe the Lord is challenging us to upgrade our system! We definitely want our spiritual communication with Him to surpass any natural communication technology. Let’s not make it too difficult though. Our friend and prayer leader in Texas, Tom Schlueter, says that hearing God is simply but profoundly, “our spirit poised before His Spirit.” We can envision ourselves as a satellite dish that is continually focused towards Him.

In searching on the web for Scriptures related to hearing the voice of God, I clicked on the first site listed. The page opened, and there was a picture of a 1950’s looking television and adjacent to it, a dial for volume control similar to what was on the old transistor radios. The title of the article was, “Turn the volume of the world down, and hear God’s voice!” Yes, I think He’s speaking to me. How about you??

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

“My sheep hear My voice…” John 10:27

“Whatever He Says To You, Do It.” John 2:5

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You are probably familiar with this Scripture that comes from a conversation between Jesus and Mary when the wine ran out at the wedding feast in Cana. Mary steps into a place of faith here and puts a demand on the miraculous power that she knew was resident in her Son. But this devotional is not really about that as much as it is about the statement Mary made.

Years ago we heard a ministry leader say that as he was reading the Word one day, the Lord told him to stop and go no further until he had obeyed what he had just read. I believe the Lord is saying that in 2015 we must shift out of a place of thinking the instructions in the Word are optional for us! For example, if the Word says, “forgive” or “repent” or “love one another” or “praise” or “give,” these are not electives where we get to choose whether we want to do them or not based on how we feel. These are commands!

Oh, but you might say, “That doesn’t sound like grace.” But thankfully that is grace! Titus 2:12 says that grace trains and teaches us to live righteously and to obey God. It’s in the place of obedience that we really begin to abide in Him and know Him. 1 John 3:24 says, “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…” I’m unacquainted with Philip Yancey, but I love this quote from him: “I do not get to know God; then do His will. I get to know Him more deeply by doing His will.”

We live in a culture heavily influenced by hedonism and self-gratification. If we capitulate to these influences, we negate our position as sons of the Kingdom and never come into a place of really knowing the Lord. We remain in a limited place of impossibilities instead of walking in our destiny and securing our inheritance. We’ve made this way too hard, folks! Your future opening up before you, can be as simple as obeying what you read in the Word!


There’s no time to waste! The Lord is saying, “Whatever I say to you, just “DO IT!”