Mortally Wounded Hearts

Recently, while running, I came upon an older gentleman with hat on that said “Army Vet.” I was immediately prompted to thank him for his service because I’ve lived through sending a brother off to war. I’ve wrestled with not knowing if he would return alive. I’ve heard his stories. The sacrifice is real. Immediately, he told me his name was Joe and explained he was an Army medic. It was a pretty surface conversation initially. Joe went on to tell me how he was shot while saving a fellow soldier on the battlefield. Right then, Holy Spirit prompted me, “ask Him about Jesus.” I don’t like that I’m always hesitant in sharing Jesus. I love Jesus and I want to share His life-giving power, but I find myself doubting my words so much that oftentimes I shy away from it. But, hesitantly I asked, “did you come to know Jesus during this time?” Naively, I thought I would share Jesus with Joe, but the truth is he already radiated Jesus from head to toe. For three miles we walked together and he shared Jesus story after Jesus story of God’s faithfulness in his life. Being shot at 18 years old, 13 major surgeries, twice having open heart surgery, battling cancer, having three girls(two adopted), losing his wife unexpectedly to cancer … the stories went on and on and on. Yet, of all the stories he told, one stuck with me. “One day,  I went out to save a soldier and I was also shot. Right here.” Lifting his shirt, Joe revealed a scar on the right side of...

“Run Them In”

  Every once in awhile something just stays with you. THIS is one of those things. My son’s football career lasted all of 1 season. It simply wasn’t his jam. He liked it, sort of, but at 10 years old, his football career had begun and ended and it was on to the next thing, but in that time, something happened that has remained with me; something profound. Each evening, in the sweltering Georgia heat, the boys would begin practice by running their usual mile lap around the complex. Now, some of these boys were naturally faster than others, and they took off like Forrest Gump. Others, not so much. They lagged behind. Way behind. Running laps just wasn’t their gift. Those who ran effortlessly danced across the finish line,  squirted themselves a drink of water, and were anxiously ready for what came next. What came next was a life lesson for those who were watching.  “Boys!” an unlikely coach’s Friday Night Lights, gruff, deep voice bellowed. “If you’ve finished, then I need some of you to go out there to your teammates and run them in!  You HEAR ME? RUN THEM IN! YOU go out there and meet them where they are and encourage them!” From that command, a group of four began running in the opposite direction. They ran to meet those who lagged behind. They went to encourage. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had… Romans 15:5 I watched as those burly linebackers, fullbacks and centers eventually crossed the finish line....

A Good Plan

“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 Lately I’ve found myself in a little bit of a funk about life. We’re in the throws of the fast lane of life with so much going on. My husband’s work schedule is crazy, the demands of a preschooler and toddler are demanding, areas where I serve and everything else that goes with life – it can be exhausting.  If I’m really honest, I’ve given myself over to the sin of self-pity and even bitterness at times. I get upset with my husband because of the demands of his job, the kids when they don’t respond or act as I want them to and on it goes. And then, if someone dares to ask how I am, I can lead myself down an even deeper trail of “woe is me, life is tough”. But as a follower of Christ, is this the right response? Sure it’s okay to admit the demands of life are hard and circumstances can stretch us paper thin, but is there a difference in my sufferings or hardships? How do I view the daily grind or the circumstances of life? Am I speaking of these God-ordained circumstances with honor? Isaiah tells us in his account of Jesus that He never spoke a word about His mistreatments or sufferings or injustices. He never stood up for Himself. He never demanded His rights or happiness. In fact, in Matthew...

Immovable Faith

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” ~1 Peter 5:8-9 (emphasis mine)   Last October my husband and I traveled twenty-three hours (one megabus and two very long plane rides) to India. We went to visit one of my best friends who was serving there and working with Muslim peoples. The moment we stepped foot into the country, we were overwhelmed by idol worship. As far as your eyes could see there were idols everywhere. The spiritual oppression was deep and seemed too much for my heart to bear. On our trip we went into a Muslim durga and a Hindu temple. Both places were serving the wrong god and worshipping idols made by human hands. Seeing the people lift their hands to these gods in worship made me want to cry. Yet in that oppression, I realized that there is one God and one Enemy. The same God that saved my soul is the same God doing a mighty work in unreached countries today. On the other hand, the same Enemy who does everything possible to distract us and deter us from carrying out the Great Commission is the same Enemy deceiving these people into serving millions of gods other than the One True God. 1 Peter 5:8-9 brings us to a sober realization. We have a real Enemy who hates us and our purpose. He doesn’t want the Gospel spread because it is good news to us, but bad news to him. In my Pawpaw’s Bible,...

Behind the Rusty Gate

There’s a historic section of our town, where homes resemble that regal plantation style and weeping willows drape over intricate points and levels and vines stretch alongside white wooden trim. At the front of these quaint little courtyards are gates. Today, I stood at one, fiddling with the rusty frame and wiggling a stubborn gate stopper. I could’ve easily thrown my leg over the side and walked up the stone path to the cutest little crimson red door, except that, in my mind, that would’ve been breaking some kind of rule (I can never be too risky. I’m a first-born.) So, I pulled and pressed and pried until, voila! It opened. This is typical of an old, creaky wooden gate, isn’t it? But, it got me to thinking about the inner and outer courts. As I pulled away from the home and onto the busy street, this question came to mind: how are things shaking out in the inner and outer courts of my heart and my home? Because I think many of us are living behind the rusty gates: inaccessible and distant. [pause] Whether wounds or over-responsibilities, hurts or disappointments, experiences, commitments, personal development, or self-declared mission, we become so easily shaken, hard-hearted, and just plain tired in the inner courts. Inviting others in, whether physically or emotionally, feels too much like a risk. Today, I’m reading these words aloud… ‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is...

The embodiment of hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13, NIV God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true. But as I think about the lovely friends God has placed in my life, I’m discovering a correlation between friendship and hope. Friends, it occurs to me, are hope embodied. Hopefulness made flesh. Oh, sure, there are friendships that don’t add hope to your life. Sometimes you’re the one who has to do the lifting up, who helps carry the heavy burdens. Truthfully, it’s part of the give and take of relationship. Sometimes it’s hard, and occasionally it feels like work. But not when shared between yourself and someone else who takes the power and responsibility of friendship to heart. When you think about the friends who make you smile, who always believe in you, who have higher goals for you, expectations of you, and possess a certainty many levels beyond what you can summon for yourself—well, isn’t there sort of an effervescent hopefulness there? A joy that bubbles up from deep within your soul? A sense of wholeness because they “get” you—even if they don’t agree with you? A comforting rightness born from the knowledge that they’re a fixture in your life? I’m convinced that friends are gifts from God. And as I look around, I see so many people that didn’t just happen into my life. Sometimes there are coincidences, but more often there are deliberate arrangements. And I...

Extreme Hupomone

If you’re not up on your Greek, which I’m not,  you may not have ever even heard the word, but I can almost with certainty guarantee that at one time or another you’ve struggled with it. I have. Maybe even today. A few years ago I was introduced to this critical word on the path to spritual endurance. We were challenged as individuals and a Body to run the race with perserverance, but how often we forget that in order to run this race, we’ll need supernatural doses of hupomone. It sounds to me like an X games sport and honestly sometimes it feels like one. EXTREME HUPOMONE. Skip Moen elaborates on hupomone in this excerpt from a 2008 post. It’s brilliant and convicting. Maybe that’s the real reason why I feel so tired.  Maybe the true meaning of endurance has escaped me.  In English, “endurance” translates hupomone (patience).  What it implies is a hope that does not give up.  This is not the word used for endurance toward people.  This is about the engineered life; a hope that rests confidently in the character of God and His control.  This is waiting on God to prepare the table in the valley of the shadow. When we allow the fast forward world to dictate our spiritual flow, we will end up addicted to the crushing rush.  We will run out of gas because we have been traveling roads that God did not put on our maps.  Think of the much bigger picture.  Does all the expended energy necessary to just keep up really matter?   Are you and I servants who are running from...

Feeling Shelved?

~~~~~~~~~~ Do you ever feel like God’s put you on the shelf—indefinitely? You long to serve, to do something significant, but life seems to get in the way in the form of: endless diaper changing and naptimes; caring for a sick family member; chronic illness that leaves you bedridden or home bound; an over-demanding schedule?   Countless things can get in the way of our service—of our living out God’s mission for our lives … if we let them. And during those times, it’s easy to feel insignificant and ineffective. But God doesn’t shelf Christians. I believe He has a vitally important job for us to fulfill—one only we can do—at each stage in our lives, from the diaper-changing phase to our nursing home years. Often, it’s not our circumstances that hold us back, but instead, our view of them. The Bible tells us to live carefully, actively, and intentionally: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV). This means being alert to God moments, whether we are cleaning toilets or serving in large ministry roles. Because God is always at work, showing His love and grace in every situation. Rita* loved reaching out to the lost and serving in ministry. But then motherhood came, and her schedule turned crazy. How could she serve God when finding time for a shower was so difficult? As home-life demands increased, her discouragement grew. She longed to serve, to make an eternal impact and expand the gospel, but her time was dominated by diaper changing. She began to think...