Are You a Spiritual Streaker?

You may or may not recall the popular fad in the 1970’s called streaking. For various reasons, to fulfill an individual dare, en masse, or just as a hobby, men and women alike were running au natural across college campuses and professional football fields. Even the Academy Awards wasn’t without its own flashing blur. Not long after the awards show incident, Ray Stevens, Country & Gospel singer best known for his novelty songs recorded The Streak. It became a number one single and was certified a gold record in 1974. Needless to say, the sensation took the country by storm.

In our busy lives today are we running through life as a Spiritual Streaker” living unprotected, setting ourselves up for attack from the enemy? The Bible tells us we must prepare ourselves for battle with the spiritual armor of God.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. – Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV
What strikes me about this passage of scripture is that in order to be strong in the Lord’s mighty power, WE have to put on the armor. God supplies it for us but we have to put it on! Let’s look at the individual pieces of armor, their spiritual meaning and apply them to our daily lives.
  1. The Belt of Truth – Naturally speaking, a belt is used to hold things in place; spiritually the belt of truth does the same thing. Truth keeps us secure in Christ and makes effective all the other pieces of armor. We must keep God’s Word of Truth securely wrapped around us every moment.
  2. The Breastplate of Righteousness – The breastplate is made of iron and covers the chest. In our case it covers our heart and is made of righteousness. To be righteous is to be made right with God, free of condemnation. If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior YOU have been made right with God and are indeed robed in His Righteousness!
  3. The Shoes of Peace – Natural shoes protect the soldier’s feet as she travels to battle. Spiritual shoes aid our movement and defense. Equipped with truth and the confidence of being right with God, we journey with purpose, in The Shoes of Peace. With a focused and clear understanding of the Gospel, we’re ready to make Christ known to the world around us.
  4. The Shield of Faith – The shield defends not only the soldiers whole body but also the other weapons. A skilled soldier moves her shield with the attack holding back the enemy’s darts. Faith is produced first when we hear the Word of God, then drops into our hearts when we receive Christ as our Savior. It keeps us from doubting God’s Word, reminds us because of Christ we can stand freely before God the Father. Faith is the foundational message others will see walked out in our daily lives.
  5. The Helmet of Salvation – The helmet is of course a protective covering for the head; without it the soldier would be very vulnerable. Spiritually, we too are vulnerable without it because the mind is usually the first place the enemy attacks. While continually filling our mind with God’s Word, working toward transformation, we must diligently guard its inputs as if our very life depends on it, because it does!
  6. The Sword of The Spirit – Last, but certainly not least, the only offensive weapon in the group, the sword. A soldier wouldn’t dare attempt battle without her double edged sword. She might be able to protect herself for a minute, but without the sword a soldier will never win the battle! Did you notice the word SWORD = S + Word? I love that! Our Sword is literally a Spiritual Word! Spiritually our sword is God’s Word. We must use it consistently and effectively in our daily lives.

Notice that God’s Word is linked to every piece of armor: without it we wouldn’t know The Truth; we wouldn’t be covered by Righteousness; we wouldn’t have a Message of Faith or a mind worth sharing it with!
When we dress to meet the day, our natural armor – our clothes, don’t automatically jump on our body; we have to physically put them on. Are you prepared today or are you setting yourself up to lose by walking into your battle spiritually naked?
God has graciously given us armor to protect ourselves with but it’s up to us to use it! Take out your Bible; find scriptures that relate to your battle today. Put your Sword to work by speaking aloud God’s Word over your life and the lives of those around you!

CHALLENGE: Print out the picture of the woman soldier. Post it on your bathroom mirror. As you dress, consciously put on your armor each day. It will make a difference in your life!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What are some creative ways you can remind yourself to put on your Spiritual Armor each day? To keep it on throughout the day?

From Uh-Oh to Awe!

Slogan writers and even we as a culture haven’t come up with a name to call the 2000’s decade. The 1900’s were popularly called “The Oughts”, so some want to call the 2000’s “The Naughts” in reference to how badly the decade went. Other’s refer to it as “The Oh-Oh’s (00’s) a pun to “The Naughts.” I personally will call it “The Uh-Oh’s!” Since I started the 2000’s making many bad choices, some I’m still paying for.

Fortunately, God allowed me to learn from my mistakes. I’ve been able to turn my mess into my message and create a ministry for women struggling with the same issues I had. I regret many of the things I did in the first half of the Uh-Oh decade, but if I hadn’t been through those experiences I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I don’t want to forget those years and what God delivered me from; the darkness, the loneliness, the emptiness; so I can fully relate to those who are still there today.

After hearing a visiting evangelist speak about 2010 being the year of restoration, I did some research on the meaning of the number ten. The Biblical the number 10 deals with completeness that happens in a divine order or completed during a course of time. There’s nothing left wanting in the cycle the number ten has just completed.

We were estranged from two of our adult children for most of the Uh-Oh years. Our youngest son recently returned not only to us, but to the Lord. We’re expecting to see full manifestation of a vision God gave me 3 years ago, both our sons and daughter standing together with us, one in Christ.

Yes, it’s a new day, a new year and finally a new decade! But it took the second half of the Uh-Oh’s to get here! Praise God the hardest part of recovery is behind me and my family.

We’re believing for complete, divine restoration of our family.

Until that time comes, we labor to rest in the Lord… in awe…

QUESTION:What are you believing God for during this upcoming decade?

Don’t Take No When God Says, “YES!”

Last week I had an opportunity to travel with my husband to meet our new company’s board members and investors. During our stay in Dallas I caught up with my small group from Gateway Church, reconnected with my friends Susie, Cindy and Mary, and met new friends Tonya, Monette and Diane. God always shows up in this group and this day was no exception. Cindy shared what God continues to speak to her: “We must not take no when God says, Yes!” She has shared these words with us on more than one occasion, but this time it came to me with a fresh meaning.

Let’s do a little grammar and look at the tense of the word. It isn’t said, in the past tense, but in the present tense, says. Meaning, the promises in the Bible were not just for the people in Old and New Testament times. The Power of God’s “Yes” is for us today!

God says, “Yes!” to so many things that I think we sometimes take it for granted. Maybe we don’t even realize what He says, “Yes!” about to begin with. He says, “Yes!” to marriage and family restoration; emotional, mental and physical healing; financial breakthroughs; deliverance from low self-esteem and freedom from addictions.

Our problem is that we choose instead to believe the voice in our head that continues to repeat messages from the enemy; messages of doubt and unbelief, confusion and uncertainty, discouragement and defeat.

QUESTION: What are you saying no to today? Physical healing, your marriage, addiction recovery…

CHALLENGE: This Christmas say “Yes!” to God’s love; love that was brought to a hurting and lost world in the form of a baby boy that Holy Night 2000 years ago. No matter what may be troubling you, there’s no hurt, no problem too big for God to overcome. Don’t wait another minute, say no to the enemy today! Open your mouth and tell him God say’s, “Yes!” Yes to your body being healthy and whole. Tell the enemy God say’s, “Yes!” to your marriage being fully restored in Christ. Tell the enemy God say’s “Yes!” to your freedom from all addictions! Don’t take the enemy’s no; God has given you The Power of His Yes! Believe it and receive it today!

An Attitude of Gratitude!

With the Thanksgiving holiday, it is fitting that God has given me the subject of gratitude for this week’s post. More than just taking one day to give thanks for the people and things we have in our lives, I’d like to go deeper and discuss on going attitudes of our hearts.

For years as a young wife and mother I had deep internal struggles. Besides the sex addict lurking within; I lived with constant discontentment, envy, resentment, and anger just to name a few. As a family we were attending a large Southern Baptist Church. We were learning a lot of biblical doctrine but not how to put God’s Word to work in our lives. We were fortunate to be living in our home town of Odessa, Texas near long time friends and extended family. I had a loving husband going to college in order to provide a better future for our quickly growing family. We were very poor but our basic needs were being met. But for me all I could see was what we didn’t have… more money to get a nicer house, clothes, and a car.

Even after Bill graduated from college and we started having all those ‘things’ I was still unhappy. I resented his college education and his corporate job with an important title that allowed him to travel and meet people. I was always comparing myself and our lives to others. The grass was always greener in some one else’s life. From the outside I put on a good show. Oh yes, I was a happily married Christian woman, Sunday School teacher, choir member and dutiful home school mom. But on the inside I was completely miserable. The saddest part was I didn’t know how miserable I was.

Fast forward 15 years… Summer 2004… My evil twin, the lurking sex addict within, had been in control for 7 years. I had destroyed life as I had known it. I had allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my marriage, my family, my job, my home, my car, my cell phone privileges and finally my freedom… I was in jail.

All the things I had once thought important were now gone with no hope of returning any time soon. The Bible says it is the goodness of God that calls us to repent and that is exactly what happened to me. First I had to get to the end of myself; to the end of what my ‘flesh’ wanted, before I could see what God wanted for me was good. Finally, I surrendered. I gave up trying to do anything in my own power. I decided no matter where I was, whether rich or poor, I can do it, but only with God’s help.

In one of my favorite Old Testament chapters, II Chronicles 20, the nation of Judah’s enemies were the Ammonites and the Moabites. With news of impending war with these surrounding nations, King Jehoshaphat became terrified. Instead of being overcome by his emotion he ordered all the people to fast as he sought God for guidance with this simple prayer:

“O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” — II Chronicles 20:12

Our enemies aren’t like the Old Testament enemies. We aren’t at war with other nations and peoples. It’s sometimes difficult to recognize our enemy even when it’s staring us in the face. Yes, our main enemy is Satan and his dark forces, but our enemy can be anything that keeps us from living God’s best life for us… poverty, lack, depression. We can’t get sucked into a mind set that just because we’ve always been poor that we’re supposed to stay poor. Our enemy may be marriage problems, uncomfortable living conditions, health issues, etc…

What about self? When we put our selfish desires before God’s will for our lives we become our own worst enemy. We think we have the best plan. God should remove this hardship. Do it our way. But sometimes we must go through difficulties. God may be trying to teach us something in these hard times. That’s when we must ask Him to teach us quickly what He would have us learn! What distinguishes a mature servant? One who can be content with what they have!

Even today, God convicts me…

Ugh… the toilet seat is up again… don’t complain be thankful you’re not alone!
Huff… can’t get comfortable on this small double bed… don’t complain, you have a bed!
Sigh… still living in a hotel room… don’t complain, you have a roof over your head!

We alone are powerless over our enemies, but whatever our enemy, it is not bigger than our God! God told King Jehoshaphat and the people to march toward the enemy’s camp singing and shouting praises on their way:

“Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” – II Chronicles 20:21

Notice, they didn’t worry they worshiped! They didn’t sit around waiting for God to deliver them. They went to the battle. They pressed in to the enemy. This is a wonderful lesson for us today in the midst of our battles. Are we living in misery or contentment? Can we find reason to praise God even in the midst of troubles? Are we grumbling and complaining, just sitting around saying what we see all day long or are we marching forward into the battle singing and shouting praises to our King?

Many Christians are unhappy; entranced by things of the world, they are looking for satisfaction in things apart from Jesus. Zig Ziglar says, “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows it under his feet.” As believers we don’t have to look far for happiness, we can find it in Jesus who makes his home right here with us.

If you read the rest of II Chronicles 20 you’ll see that God went before them as they marched into battle praising Him. When they arrived the battle had already been won. God had caused the enemies to fight amongst themselves killing them all. God wants to fight our battles for us. But it is up to us to let him.

Let’s have an attitude of gratitude. Let’s not give more power to our enemies by focusing on them. We must thank God for delivering us our enemies.

Remember, Praise always proceeds the victory!

He is Faithful! Forever!

What’s Your Secret?

If you’re a ‘Baby Boomer’ like me you may remember the old game show called I’ve Got a Secret. The show aired from 1952-1967 and was one of my parent’s favorites. The format was simple: while the secret flashed on the TV screen for the viewing audience, four panelists took turns questioning the person with the secret to determine exactly what the secret was. A nominal financial award was given to a contestant whose secret could not be guessed by the panel. It was always funny to hear the questions the panel would ask trying to guess the secret.

I write today about secrets because as a recovering addict I have a past of many secrets. Not that my past is still a secret today, but when I was walking in sin and addiction, my life was full of secrets. Sometimes too many to keep up with. Secrets stacked upon lies and lies stacked upon secrets. It was a veritable house of cards that when finally collapsed was actually a relief.

If you’re a woman who struggles with addiction you know the burden of secrets. Satan, our enemy, knows the power of those secrets. His job is to keep us from uncovering our secrets. As long as the secret is hidden it has power over us. The enemy will tell us we shouldn’t tell anyone our secret because they will hate us. He’ll try to tell us that even God hates us because of our secret. The longer we keep the secret the worse it gets. In fact, nothing will get better until the secret is out in the open.

The key is to find a trusted friend or counselor with whom we can share our secret; go to her for prayer and support. Confessing our secret starts the healing process and removes the power of darkness over our lives. You’d be surprised how understanding others will be once you begin to share with them your struggle.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. — James 5:13-16 NIV

The power of hidden behaviors and secrets can work for us as well as against us. David said, “I have hidden your [God’s] word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” If we hide God’s Word in our hearts by meditating on it and memorizing it we will find a new transforming power that will keep our minds and hearts pure. Jesus taught, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”

Secrets have a way of being exposed. Let’s use our ability to keep secrets for prayer and meditation. Unlike the game show contestants where the panel is guessing the secret, we will see an unbelievable new power, a power of Light, being exposed in our lives drawing ourselves and others to The Source of our secret.

The Kingdom of God is like…

I’ve become fascinated by a new television program my son John recently introduced me to called Fringe. It’s a Sci-fi series about a female FBI agent assigned to investigate weird crimes that are seemingly part of a larger pattern. She teams up with a formerly-institutionalized scientist and his son who perform experiments on the fringe of real science.

You, like me prior to watching Fringe, may not be familiar with the idea of fringe science. According to Wikipedia fringe science is a scientific inquiry that departs significantly from mainstream theories. Mainstream scientists typically regard fringe concepts as highly speculative as opposed to frontier science which is plausible science. In other words, fringe science is on the edge, out of the ordinary, unexplainable, goes against the grain of the norm. What I find interesting about this program is many of the concepts and theories have spiritual undertones giving way to incredible biblical analogies.

One specific concept is that of a parallel universe; or as some call it multiverse. This concept implies that along side the world as we know it, there is another invisible world like ours but slightly different. It may mirror what we see, but there are variable changes. Unlike the natural world, in the parallel universe you may have control over the natural laws of physics, space and time.

In a recent Fringe episode Agent Olivia Dunham was able to travel through a portal that took her to a parallel universe. In this universe she was able to see much of the world as it is in her ‘regular’ universe but some things were different. For example, in the parallel universe, The World Trade Center was still standing because in that universe it had not been destroyed.

As usual, after watching this episode, I spent time meditating on the possible spiritual implications of a parallel universe. It dawned on me that as Believers, we do in fact, live in a parallel universe — The Kingdom of God. What is our portal that takes us to this parallel universe? How do we know if we’re in that parallel universe or in the natural universe that we see everyday with our eyes?

Before I became born again, I lived most of my life as a walking dead person, empty with no real purpose, unaware of the anger that drove me day to day. From early adolescent days to recent adulthood, I hid myself from others in the fear that once they knew the real me they would hate me as much as I hated myself. I was riddled with childhood wounds of abandonment; constantly searching for my father’s love and approval. Heavily burdened with guilt from the destruction I had brought to myself and my family; I sought constant escape in nearly every form of addiction possible. I was a textbook narcissist. Life was all about me. No matter how much it hurt those around me I was going to get my needs met.

On Sunday December 26, 2004 at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, I was born again. It wasn’t an overnight transformation that took place but has been a continual work in progress. However, while Bill and I were living in Louisiana in 2006, a life changing thing occurred. God literally removed a veil from my eyes.

I was in Wal-Mart, of all places, when all of a sudden I could see the people. It was as if they had come out of nowhere. It was like the day I got my first pair of glasses at age 13. When I walked out of the doctors office I looked up and saw the trees. No longer were they just a blob of green, I could see the individual leaves!

That Autumn day in Covington, LA, I seemingly walked through a portal. God allowed me to see what He sees. It was like having X-Ray vision. I could see the people. They were no longer just a blur going by in my life. I could see them individually. I could see their pain, their hurts, their need for healing, their need for a Savior. Feeling their pain I was overcome with emotion. With urgency I was convicted to help them. With inadequacy I was overwhelmed by the task. With the thought of being a chosen vessel, I was humbled and awestruck.

In that moment God delivered me from the bondage of narcissism.

I see myself today living in a parallel universe. The world is as it was when I was walking in darkness, but now I see it through different eyes. To live a life in the Kingdom of God it’s critical that I keep God’s perspective at all times. I must keep Christ first and foremost in my life; His Words in my heart and on my lips.

Like watching a 3-D movie we must put on our glasses and see the world through eyes of Faith. When we have the mind of Christ we can see what God sees, not just pain but potential, for ourselves and the world. We can impact those around us. Defy the laws of physics with our mouth by calling things that are not as though they were until they are!

When we receive the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding our eyes will be enlightened!

A Fruitful Seed… Cracked not Cracked Up!

In keeping with the theme of my last blog, I want to talk about being a seed used for and by God to help grow The Kingdom. As children of The King, we not only have the opportunity for our own internal growth by The Holy Spirit and The Word of God; but we have a responsibility to spread ourselves as seed to a hurt and dying world. We must be able to plant The Love of God in the hearts of those we come in contact with.

When we are born again, The Holy Spirit comes to live in our spirit giving us access to The Fruit of The Spirit. Notice it is fruit, not fruits. In other words, as Galatians 5:23 states – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control are The Fruit of the Holy Spirit, collectively. They work in conjunction with each other. I heard Joyce Meyer say that Love and Self-Control are the book ends that hold the rest in place. If we can just walk in love and self-control the others will naturally come along.

When we are walking in The Spirit we have the ability to tap into The Fruit, as we go about life. We also have the ability to grieve, stifle or put a damper on The Holy Spirit by letting our Soul rule. Because our Soul is made up of our Mind, Will and Emotions, it’s very easy to let this happen.

As we are growing, changing and maturing; learning how to walk in the love and forgiveness that God has shown us in spite of our own sinful humanity; we must be able to show The Fruit of The Spirit in our lives each and every day. The challenge is being a fruitful seed that cracks open to bear the fruit inside without cracking up mentally, emotionally and physically! How do we handle the pressure that causes us to crack without cracking up?

I will be a seed that will crack only to the point of dying to self. What’s left behind will be the empty shell from which the plant’s roots grow. This plant can’t be just a beautiful flower, looking for popularity or demanding the spotlight. It must be a humble fruit tree, modest yet serious; developing quietly away from the public view, waiting for it’s role to be revealed. It’s roots must stand solid on The Rock fed only by The Living Water!

If you’ve been following my blog you know I’ve had numerous opportunities to crack up these last several months. But I’m determined The Holy Spirit will rule me, not my Soul! I’ve been down that road too many times and I’m not going around that mountain again! I will walk expecting the favor of the Lord. I will keep praise and thanksgiving on my lips. I will put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! I am an Overcomer!

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.— Galatians 5:25

How Does Your Garden Grow?

For some weeks now God has been prompting me to write this blog. I don’t know if it’s the pressures of a recent full time job, the waiting for our new business venture to be funded, living in a one room hotel with my husband, son, two dogs and a snake or just plain fatigue that has squelched my creative writing juices… but I’m trying to get back in the groove today. Apologies in advance…. I’m a little rusty; it’s been too long since I’ve written anything but a simple email or a Facebook post. Sad really.

In 2007, as a supporter of Richard Foster’s ministry – Renovare, I was introduced to a most excellent book – Deep-Rooted in CHRIST, The Way of Transformation by Joshua Choonmin Kang. Foster suggested reading it as a weekly devotional for the next year beginning in January 2008. I read as suggested and because of it’s depth have continued this year as well. In his book, Kang talks about many things, but what has been speaking to me lately are the sections on caring for the soul, the comparison of our soul to soil and its fruitfulness.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the Parable of the Four Soils:

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” – Luke 8:4-8

When growing things: flowers, trees, fruit, etc… the soil is often overlooked and not seen as important, after all it is just dirt. It’s not as glamorous or interesting as choosing the flowers and plants. But as any gardener knows, to grow a healthy plant, first you must have healthy soil. In fact, the soil is literally the foundation of the garden. Good soil must have proper texture, structure and fertility to grow strong, healthy plants. If the texture is sandy with loose particles, the air and water move too freely and the plant doesn’t get any. If the texture is tight, like clay, the plant will get no air or water at all. The structure must be loose and crumbly but not too dry. The soil must be fertile, fed with essential nutrients so that it can in turn feed the plants. It should be tender, free of rocks and weeds, ready for potential growth.

It’s the same with our souls. How can we make sure that the soil of or soul is healthy and fertile ground? We can’t let the soil of our soul be hard like clay; trampled down with past hurts and wounds; breeding only bitterness and unforgiveness. We can’t be a rock garden; sandy and shallow, hearing the Word on Sunday morning but not allowing it to change us during the rest of the week. We mustn’t allow the worries of this world, the riches and pleasures to consume us, becoming overgrown with weeds. The seed of the Word won’t grow unless it can get down in our soul deep enough to make a root. It must have room to grow not being choked out because there are too many other things there.

In the verse above Jesus says, “the birds of the air” steal the word. Later in the chapter when he explains the parable to the disciples he interprets the birds as “the devil who comes and steals the word from their hearts.” In Ephesians 2:2 the Apostle Paul describes Satan as “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” I find this quite intriguing. What is ruling our airways today? Are we allowing the things in the air to steal the Word from our hearts and our souls?

Let’s examine ourselves today. I personally ask God today, to keep my soil tilled. I want more than anything to be learning and growing daily from what I hear and read in God’s Word. I determine not to let the things of this world distract me and take priority in my life.

An Instrument in God’s Hands

Those of you who know me or have been following my blog also know that my family has been in one transition after another for the last few years. Job changes with moves from city to city, state to state with the last move taking us across the country from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Coast. From employers who made bad investments causing layoffs, to employers committing fraud and bringing the whole company down with them, we’ve seen it all in recent years. Today we find ourselves again waiting on another job change. Yet through all the drama, uncertainty, sorting, packing, moving, storing and waiting, there can be peace. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily feel the peace every day or even walk in that peace but it is there for me if I choose to have it.

Not too many days ago, my teenage nephew Blaine, was giving me some encouragement on Facebook. (Isn’t it wonderful, God can even use Facebook to speak to us!) But seriously, Blaine responded to my comments about our next ‘faith adventure’ — the uncertainty of where we are going and the aching back that goes along with moving. Then something sweet just came up from inside him… He wrote, “God is only tuning the harp, sometimes things need to get tight to make music.” His comment literally struck a chord in me! I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind for days.

At the age of five I started taking piano lessons. In my elementary years I continued with piano but also joined the orchestra and began playing the cello. By Jr. High I had learned the viola, and eventually played the string bass. So there’s no wonder Blaine’s comment spoke so strongly to me. Even though I don’t play an instrument on a regular basis these days, I still see myself as a musician because that was formed so solidly in me at a very young age.

Every kind of musical instrument: percussion, woodwind or stringed, all have to be tuned in some fashion. Whether stretched, blown or tightened, change must take place for the instrument to be tuned. OK, some instruments can be played and even make music out of tune, but it won’t be pretty. Tuning an instrument requires that you adjust the tuning mechanisms on it to an accepted standard. If a guitar string is not tightened enough the string will be too loose and produces a dull flat sound; too tight and the string may snap. A drum not tightened enough will be loose and have a flat sound; too tight will cause a broken head.

As instruments in God’s hands we are constantly being fine tuned — changed, stretched or tightened– brought to the place of acceptance as we participate in God’s Great Symphony. In these last few weeks I feel like I have been stretched clearly to the point of having a broken head. But alas, my head did not break! Of course, God knew He had not reached my breaking point, but this drum must surely be ready to play!

In what is commonly believed to be his last letter, the Apostle Paul writes to his protégé Timothy:

“… Be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” – II Timothy 2:21

And in the book of Romans, Paul again encourages us:

“Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” –Romans 6:13

I want more than anything to be used by God, to bring glory to Him with my life. It helps me to know I am in the Master’s hands. He’s gently holding me, carefully polishing and tightening so that I will be a beautiful instrument. It’s by nothing I do except continue to walk in obedience, with humility and a reverential fear for The Lord; staying available and willing to be tuned. Making every effort to endure all circumstances with a good temper; pressing on to the prize that waits ahead; fighting the good fight holding on to faith and a clear conscience.

You may be saying, ” Tamara what does that look like? How does that translate into everyday life?” Well, for me it comes down to one thing really and that is keeping God’s Word in my head and in my heart almost every minute of every day if at all possible. At my job, I have my bible open on my desk. In between calls to customers throughout the day, I will glance over and quietly read out loud a verse that spoke to me that morning in my meditation time. Keeping 3×5 cards handy with scriptures rewritten in first person as a confession to speak over myself and my family through the day. This keeps my focus on God and His promises and not what’s going on in the natural world around me.

My family may be living in a temporary uncertain situation today, but you know what, we are happy and have such peace because we know that we are children of The Most High God and that with God ALL things are possible to them that believe and we are believers not doubters. We are expecting something good to happen any minute. As we continue to walk in that expectancy we keep a grateful heart which will make way for the next blessing just around the corner.

I want to encourage you today, put your focus on God and in His Word. Call out to Him. Let Him be your Master. Allow Him to take you gently and lovingly in His hands. Before you know it you will be in tune and ready to make beautiful music in God’s Symphony.

Be a Prisoner of Hope!

Hope seems to come easier some days than others; I don’t know if it’s a function of hormones, lack of faith or both. To be completely honest, today, I’m struggling to have hope. Considering the state of our country, the government, the economy, the world, joblessness, sickness and disease… With all these and other uncertainties one can easily find themselves feeling completely hopeless!

What is hope? How can any normal person have hope? Where can we go today to find even a glimmer of hope? As I write this, I pray God will give you and me the hope we need to walk out His purpose in our lives today.

Hope… it’s a simple word, that appears to have a simple meaning. Like many things in life they look simple from a distance but are difficult to put into practice. You hear the word hope used a lot in conversations so much that it has lost some of its true meaning. Google the word hope and you get 541,000,000 results ranging from the Wikipedia definition to charity organizations, college names, celebrities, hotels, etc, ad infinitum…

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary hope is: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment. I’ve heard others define it simply as — the happy anticipation of something good. I really like that definition because it puts some responsibility back on us ‘to be happy’ while in the process of anticipating something good.

Bible hope is closely related to faith. In fact, according to Scripture we cannot have faith unless we first have hope. Hope is the foundation that faith stands on. One of the most quoted verses on faith and hope is Hebrews 11:1. Let’s look at it in my three favorite translations…

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – New International Version

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – New Living Translation

Now Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. – Amplified

To break it down, faith is the certainty, the proof of ownership-the title deed, of that thing for which we have hoped; even things we cannot see or feel. Just by having faith for something, we already own it! Alright, that tells us what faith is, but what about hope? Remember, we can’t have faith unless we have hope as a foundation. How can we hope for that thing we cannot see if we don’t have any hope. Where does hope come from? Where can I get some hope today?!

Let’s look again to the book of Hebrews for more answers. The author writes in Chapter 6 of God’s promise to Abraham. God was going to bless Abraham with a huge family, with so many descendants he wouldn’t be able to count them. When making that promise God swore an oath in His own name, since there was no name greater to swear by. Abraham believed God and waited patiently for many years until he finally received the promise of a son. In fact, he was 100 years old when Isaac was born. This chapter goes on to tell us that because it is impossible for God to lie, and because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross we too have access to the promises of Abraham. That is where our confidence and our hope is… in the great refuge of God’s promises. This is the hope, the strong anchor for our soul. The key now is to find the promises in God’s Word on which we can stand. God has given me clarification on this in Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. -NLT

In other words, if we believe Christ died for us we can stand confidently and look forward to God’s glory. Even though we go through times of trial and adversity, those times can grow us through endurance and patience which will build our character. With strong character we can stand in confidence of the hope that fills our heart with the love of the Holy Spirit.

I see it like this…

I have been made right in God’s eyes because I believe Jesus died for me on the cross. My faith gives me full access into God’s grace and His favor. Now I can come to God with something to hope for: a healthy marriage, family restoration, job stability, bills that are paid, etc…

  • Hope forms the image in my mind. I see my family restored. I have the vision according to God’s Word; it is something I know lines up with God’s promises. Once I have Hope as a foundation…
  • Faith rises up in my heart; strong, armed with the confidence that I can stand on God’s promises. Giving substance to the image; faith is the energy force that brings the Hope of my family being restored to reality in the physical realm.
  • Glory goes to God when we see the manifestation of God’s goodness in our living reality. When we thank Him for His goodness and share what He has done with others around us.

Because we have access by faith into God’s grace, we can now stand & rejoice in the Hope of God’s Glory!

STAND AND REJOICE!

STAND AND REJOICE!

STAND AND REJOICE

In the Hope of God’s Glory!

I lived most of my life as a prisoner, in bondage to low self-worth and people pleasing; to evil thoughts and fleshly desires; to guilt and condemnation; to depression and desperation; to discouragement and despondency. In the very early days of my sobriety in 2005, God began to give me scripture after scripture full of hope to keep me pressing in to Him. Now I have a collection of 3×5 index cards in a little ring binder that I carry with me wherever I go.

For the last four years as my family and I press through our own life transitions, God continues to put the message of Hope in my path and on my heart. It is God’s Word that is my only source of true hope. I’m determined to surround myself with messages of Hope and to soak on God’s Word continually. The walls around me are Hope. I am now a prisoner of Hope!

If you too, want to be a prisoner of Hope, I encourage you to get a bible concordance or go online to www.biblegateway.com and look up the word — hope. Start reading, studying, meditating and memorizing…before you know it you will be full of Hope!