Hurricane Season?

Have you ever tried to tame a hurricane? How about just talking into one? Does your voice carry very far? The other night was my turn to teach the kids at church. I love these kids greatly—each and every one of them. But the other night was a test of my love. Their behavior was horrible. They wouldn’t listen for more than five second intervals, and I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time communicating in five second bleeps. By the time I left class, I was exhausted and emotionally drained. I tried complaining to God about it, but He didn’t seem too impressed. I reminded Him of how I had planned for the class, how I had put a lot of thought into the lesson. I was so excited about it because it was such a good lesson—a lesson that could really help them. But they were too busy whispering and talking and wiggling around. They were too busy trying to draw attention to themselves. God’s reply to me seemed to saying, ‘Have you looked at yourself lately?’ What a sucker punch. I may be 30 years older than those kids, but my behavior is just like theirs. I’m too busy whispering and talking and running around to listen to God’s voice. And when I look at what He did to prepare for me–His supreme sacrifice on the cross—I’m ashamed. Ashamed of how little I listen to Him. And yet He still loves me. Sometimes God will use drastic measures to get my attention, like a teacher who suddenly slams a book on the desk...

The Samuel Trait

Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:10 But am I? Are you? We live in a world that is super saturated with noise and action. Rarely do we escape the noise of a TV or radio. Streaming media fills our walls and our heads. Even white noise—static—is noise and can easily drown out a whisper, a stirring, a still, small voice. But we’re afraid of the silence. We grow restless and uncomfortable in silence, and it quickly grows until it consumes us, and we turn the box back on. We say we’re listening but our foot is keeping beat with the music, our eye is straying to the screen, our thumb is clicking whatever little box is begging for attention. And we’re not fully focused on who we say we’re listening to. And we wonder why God isn’t speaking to us. Why we’re wandering around feeling lost and left out because we haven’t found our calling or heard God’s voice. We haven’t heard it because we aren’t listening. Really listening. Actively listening while our soul is silent, breathless to hear what it is He has to say to us. Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. Listening for the still, small voice. Samuel found his calling because he heard God calling to him and he listened. He couldn’t hear what God had to say to him the first times God called to him because he was off and running to Eli. Doing. Willing and eager to hear but busy. But when he stayed still and listened, he heard God’s message. Won’t you join me in turning...

Do the Work

A week into the new year. This is the time of year when I realize just how big my goals and ambitions were. It happens every year—at least every year that I set goals. I always start so well. And fall so fast. It seems the bigger the goal, the faster I fall. Can you relate? I have a feeling Gideon could. Gideon, the man who was threshing wheat in a wine press, has been on my mind so much lately. God gave him a task to do that wasn’t just out of his comfort zone, it was way beyond everything he thought he could do. He was to deliver Israel from the Midianites—an enemy that was compared to a swarm of locusts. They swooped in, ate and destroyed everything in sight, and then high-tailed it out, leaving Israel to starve for another year. And God told Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:15-16 That’s a big job. No, it’s a huge one. And look at what God replied to Gideon’s question of how he was to do that. “Surely I will be with you…” The secret to Gideon’s success was God’s presence. It was nothing that Gideon or his band of 300 merry men did. The one thing Gideon needed most was the thing God promised him. “Surely...

Planting for the Harvest

I love this time of year. The summer has cooled and gone for the year, leaving us crisp days as things change. Living in the country means I get to watch the farmer’s fields. It’s a busy time of year as they work hard and fast to pull the crops from the fields. Harvest is the focal point of their year and everything they do shows harvest is the key issue for them. While their fields are covered with snow, the farmers are planning and working on machinery they’ll need for the season. During planting season they’re out there as early as they can be and put in as many hours as possible, knowing if they don’t get the seed in the ground, they can’t reap the harvest from that seed. In the summer they’re fertilizing and spraying and mowing in order to maximize their crops. They do what’s best for the crop so it can grow and produce as much as possible. Finally, harvest comes. They’re ready for the long hours they know it will take to pull their crops out of the fields. In fact, the longer they’re sitting in the combines, harvesting crops (not broken down or stuck and waiting for help to arrive), the happier they are because it translates into an abundant harvest for them. Around here, it’s unusual to see fields sitting idle. It’s just not done. And if a field is empty, there’s a very good reason for it. Farmers plant their fields because they want the harvest. Each and every step of the process is done with harvest in mind, not...

Beating Worry

Have you ever noticed how God teaches you something and you think you’ve mastered it then BAM! He puts you in a situation to see if you really learned the lesson…and you fail. Miserably. Or maybe it’s just me? Not too long ago, as I was returning home from a fair six hours away, one of the back tires of my fifteen-passenger van shredded. At that point I was going a little over 70 mph, in the third of four lanes, where three interstates converged and ran together. God got us safely off to the side and I was back on the road within two hours. That’s when a wave of fear took over and could have pushed me into a panic attack. The spare, although a full-sized tire, sounded and handled totally different than the original had. Not only that, but my husband told me to baby it home. Even after identifying all the new noises and making sure the tire was holding air and asking a hundred questions and being assured by my very patient husband that everything we described to him was okay, I worried. With each mile that we slowly trekked, my anxiety grew. On top of the worry, I felt like a fraud because I had just completed a study on worry. I knew from experience that what I learned would work, so I puzzled over why my anxiety was growing so fast. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will...

Are You A Fanatic?

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ~Matthew 6:14-16 NAS I knew going into this summer that I would have a chance to live as a light in the darkness. I just never imagined it would go like it has. To help out a friend, I spent a week working in a concession trailer at a fair. One day, as we worked, he asked where I grew up. That’s a loaded question, especially if the person asking is not a Christian, and I knew this man wasn’t. When he heard that my parents were missionaries and that I went to a Bible college he asked a question I’ve never been asked before… So, are you a fanatic? I have to admit, the question stopped me in my tracks. Am I a fanatic? Do I go around pushing my Bible in people’s faces? No. Shouting on the street corners? No. But… Does my faith impact every area of my life? Yes. Does God and His Word effect my every decision and every move in life? Yes. After a few moments’ thought I knew the answer. Yes. Some people would call me a fanatic. And that doesn’t bother me a bit. Over the few week I had known this man...

Beyond the Pruning

A couple years ago, my mom gave me a Christmas cactus. It’s the only cactus I’ve managed not to kill—probably because I forget to water my houseplants these days. The poor thing got dry enough that it dropped some of its pieces. When the first one fell, I called Mom. Turns out the Christmas Cactus is one of those plants you can just poke in the ground and it will do its thing. So I pulled an empty pot out of the closet, scooped a hole in the dirt, tucked that piece of cactus in and set it on my window sill. I noticed a cool thing happening. On the older plant, where the segment fell from, two new segments were growing. And the new plant on the windowsill? From that one piece, two buds sprouted and grew. And grew. And grew. Now, as pieces fall or or get broken off, I plunk them into the pot on my windowsill and enjoy the show. Pruned and transplanted. It’s a reminder to me of how God prunes us. Sometimes He prunes something from us and transplants it to someone else’s life, where that something grows and flourishes. I’ll be honest. The pruning hurts and seeing something taken from me and given to someone else can sting, but if I let it, if I don’t turn hard and bitter, it’s cool to watch what God transplanted grow and burst into bloom. And the spot in me where God did the pruning? It’s given new life and becomes even better. Keeping that in mind helps soothe the hurt of the pruning process....

How’s Your Feet?

We do a lot of traveling for work and some months we’ve spent half of our time in hotels. It’s not ideal, but it’s a fact of life for us in this season. Not too long ago, as we pushed open the door to a room, we were accosted with stale smoke. It was late and there weren’t any nonsmoking rooms available for the weekend. We propped the door wide open, cranked the heat, and opened the window as far as it would go. The boys were choking, our eyes were burning, and we all wanted to hang our heads out the window for breathable air. Inside I was cringing. I knew we would reek of smoke when we went to work in the morning and the thought of smelling bad to customers and people we worked alongside was an awful thought. Smelling bad pushes people away, makes them want nothing to do with us. Each night in that hotel room was difficult. Not only were we assaulted every evening by the smell, but the lighting was so poor it felt like a we were entering a hole. When we got home everything was immediately washed and put out to air in the sunshine. As I did load after load of laundry I thought of Peter at the Last Supper when Jesus went to wash his feet. “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who...

All of Everything

You want me to do what, Lord? I can’t. I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the resources. There’s no way I can do what You’ve asked me.   What’s in my hand? It’s what I need. For me. Barely what I need for me. It’s certainly not enough to go around, and not enough to do what You want done. You want me to give it to You? But then what will I do? I’ll have none and I’ll be of no use to anyone.  How about I give You half? I can probably squeak by with just half. All of it? Lord, ALL of it? But… Oh, Jesus. Your hands. That’s my name there in Your scars. Here, Lord. Here’s all that I have—every bit of it. It’s not enough, but You knew that already. Thank You for giving everything for me. Thank You that I can give even this little bit back to You. I love You, Jesus.  Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full. Luke 9:16-17 NAS Jesus! I can’t believe that my little did what You wanted. I can’t believe all that was done with just the bit that I gave You. It wasn’t my gift, it was YOU. You, the Son of God, who worked. My shortcomings made it so all knew it was...

A Naaman Complex

Recently, my husband asked me to do a few things, and I have to admit that my response wasn’t very good. There’s nothing glorious nor grand about wiping down cupboards, washing ceiling fan fixtures and especially about scrubbing hard water marks out of toilets, but they are things that need to be done, and they fall into the things I’m responsible for. You see, I have a Naaman complex. Naaman was angry because the prophet Elisha wouldn’t even come out to speak to him, and he was a great, important man. Too many times I get caught up in my own importance, which is truly laughable because I’m not great, nor important, to anybody except maybe my family. Just like Naaman, I tend to stand there and sputter and fume about why I need to do such menial tasks. So Naaman raced away in his chariot. Thankfully he had wise servants who helped him see how silly he was being. They said to him… “…had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 2 Kings 5:13 NAS The result was that Naaman went to the Jordan River and obeyed the prophet Elisha. Did he quit when he saw no results after going under six times? If he had, he would’ve died a leper. Did he understand why it had be seven times? Did he moan about seven? Did he try to bargain it down to five? The Bible just says he dipped himself seven times as he was instructed...