While in Colorado we looked forward to a mountain hike. Our destination was a beautiful waterfall. Adventure awaited us, little did we know the challenge we would face. Reaching our destination with ease we rested and enjoyed the beauty of creation. The area around us was littered with loose rock. This made further climbing difficult, so my girls and I didn’t chance injury and played around the base of the falls. After some time we decided to work our way back to the path. I helped my 8 year old back to the safe spot and turned to guide my eleven year old. At that moment I heard someone yell “ROCK!” The warning sounded too late, my daughter was hit in the back with the melon sized rock. Its momentum knocked her to the ground. I stood helpless as she slid past me on the path, her leg seemly twisted behind her. Time seemed to stand still as panicked thoughts rushed through my head.
“My God, is her leg broke? How far are we from the closest hospital? Can a rescue team get here? What are we going to do? Oh God, Oh God, my poor girl, I’m scared Lord, I’m scared!”
Fear could have paralyzed me, but that short prayer drove the fear away and I was able to assess the situation with the help of others. Although she had a horrible bruise on her back, the rest of her flexible, youthful body took the blow without damage. With an ice pack on her back, we were able to hike back to the main road without further incident.
Anxiety ridden as a kid, I have learned that faith can overcome fear. Such a wonderful gift! As a child of God we don’t need live in fear. When it creeps into our life we simply have ask God to make it go. Isaiah 41:10 tells “Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Look how close He is to us. Right next to us, He chases the fear away. The Comforter comes in and calms His child.
Thank you God, you are always with us and you calm our fears. Build our faith, Lord, so each time we fear we remember to call to you! In Jesus Name AMEN
She walked through the door by herself. Strange thoughts ran through her mind.
“Am I dressed ok?
What if it’s weird?
Please, don’t let me say something stupid.
Better yet, please don’t let anyone talk to me!
But please don’t ignore me!
Oh help! Why is this so hard?”
Entering a church for the first time shouldn’t be intimidating but it is. Any unknown place is. We each fight with our past experiences and current fears.
I entered an event two years ago. I was the speaker, so I was a little nervous. I didn’t know a soul. Woman after woman greeted me. Some chatted a bit. They shared a little of their lives and I shared a little of mine. As we talked I realized they didn’t know I was the speaker. What they observed was a woman who arrived alone. A woman who needed to be greeted and received into their community. What a gift! They helped settle my nerves. They helped me through the awkward transition from unknown to welcomed guest.
These women lived Romans 12:13 (NLT) “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” They were so good at it. I would have started attending that church had I not had a home church already. Truly lovely hospitable people.
The word hospitality used in Romans 12:13 means “love to strangers”. Paul was not talking about giving a cup a tea to a dear friend. He was reminding us of the importance of extending love to all we meet. This is a powerful message. It goes against the idea of looking out for self first. The next verse in Scripture (Romans 12:14) tells us to bless those who persecute us. When we show this kind of hospitality it is risky. We have no idea the kind of people we are greeting. We are to do it anyway.
The next time you are at a place you feel comfortable, look around for someone that looks a little lost. Say hello and make a little small talk. Invite them to join you and your friends. Don’t worry about their response. Their acceptance or rejection of your offer is their responsibility not yours. Remember everyone appreciates kind words and gentle welcome.
I asked on my social media pages “Why is your church community important to you?” Over and over I read, “They support, encourage, and pray for me” “They are family.” “They understand and know me.” “They accept me.” On and on went similar comments. The need for relationship is at the center of our beings. We desire community and connection. Someone at the beginning of your journey at your church stepped forward and shared hospitality. What a gift! A God centered precious extension of His Holy Spirit from one person to another.
Simply put we have a choice. We can self-focus. We recognize our own needs, our own limitations and let our insecurities win. Or we can extend a hand, defeating the grip of insecurity on our self and maybe on the one we invite in. The effect of the greeting is immaterial. It is simply the right thing to do.
Romans 8:12-39 Romans 8:15 “Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Insecurity was deeply rooted in me and recently I realized there were STILL remnants of those old wounds. As I was cleaning out a drawer of old photo albums, a picture fell out. I showed it to my son, Mark as proof of my participation on our math team. He said “Hey when was Elizabeth (my daughter) on a math team?” My response was telling “How could you say that! That’s me, not Elizabeth. Elizabeth is so beautiful and I was so ugly.” Do you hear the lie? Thinking Mark had made a drastic mistake; I found Elizabeth and showed her the picture. You know what she said? “When was I on a math team?” It was so revealing to me. Traces of insecurity were still there.
I grew up in a Christian home, we attended church every Sunday. I was loved in my family; words of encouragement were spoken over me regularly. My parents told me Jesus loved me as I was, I trusted my parents. Yet, when I went about my daily life I heard a different story from other people. I was told by other kids my appearance was subpar. In the worlds eyes I was a homely mess and I believed them.
The problem was I could not defend why I believed Jesus was God. I had just accepted it as truth but never investigated it for myself. As I began to question, I prayed a great deal. God began to reveal Himself in a personal way. I pursued Him and He became very real to me. As I got to know Him, He taught me who I really was. The more I understood how I fit into His Kingdom the more confident I became.
Confidence does not equate to pride as long as it is anchored in Christ. If I am relying on my own gifts and talents that is pride. If I think I am better than someone else that is pride. If I believe all my success is my own and for myself, that is pride. If I trust Jesus loves me know matter my performance on any given day that is confidence. My confidence does not depend on who I am but whose I am. I belong to Him and He loves me.
This process continues today. As my confidence grew, I recognized something else was happening. I became more attractive to other people. I love people. My natural personality was hidden because of the victimization that I experienced as a kid. When that pain was healed my true identity was revealed. John 3:3-6 tells me when I accepted Jesus I was born again. This rebirth not only gave me new life it gave me a new family. (Romans 8:15,16). God is my Father and I am His daughter.
This is true for you as well. When you hear those whispers of insecurity remember how God feels about you. Tell those whispers to knock it off, you are loved and that is enough. Take up your true identity as a confident child of God. With confidence we declare our true identity in God’s Kingdom.
Acquire and develop fruit??? to further build our legacy.??? Cold, dark, and dormant. This is winter in Michigan. Yesterday, I wore leggings and jeans. Yes, you read that right. Two pairs of pants at once. It was that cold. Why then write about cultivating when the ground is frozen? Now, in the quiet season, this is when we prepare for the next step. The New Year holds promises of new life. Although, the earth is suspended in rest, we are not. Now is the time to review, refresh and move forward. We need to cultivate the soil of our soul. Cultivating prepares the soil to bear fruit in the coming season. It loosens the ground where it has become hard. It delivers much needed air to the life that lives deep in it. It allows the soil to percolate water where it is needed to aid in growth of the plants for the new season. Cultivate is my word for 2018. When we cultivate we acquire and develop what God planted in us. It allows us to acquire and develop skills to further build our legacy.
Oh how I want to bear the fruit God is calling me to develop. Psalm 1:3 defines this goal. “They are like trees planted along the riverbanks, bearing fruit in each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” I wrote this verse in my journal in mid-December. Unaware of this, my son included it in his Christmas present to me. I’m pretty sure that is confirmation for my 2018 Scripture verse. How do we cultivate so that we bear fruit in all seasons? Remove spiritual weeds from my gardens. This includes letting go of the heavy cares of this world, avoiding deceitfulness that comes with comfort and power, and distractions from the pleasures of life. (Matthew 13) For me this is a daily process. Give up worrying. Put my faith fully in God, not my stuff. Balance my time. Loosen the soil of my spiritual garden. Meditate on His word. I’m not going to read it alone but I’m going to chew on it. Digest it and let it become part of who I am.
Challenge my opinions by comparing them to God’s word. I am often surprised by what I learn about myself. (Matthew 13) You probably will as well. Cultivate to make sure my roots are feeding and drinking from God’s living water. (John 4:10) Drink deep through worship and prayer. This brings strength, empowerment, and resolve. A cultivated garden of my heart allows me to grow toward God and follow God where He leads. This one is scary but I will tell you it is so worth it. It may not be easy but He will take you places you never dreamed and the results will overwhelm you with joy. (Ephesians 4:15) Cultivate to bear fruit that shows I delight in God’s way of living. Each day I will choose live that way.
This is simple if we focus on bearing His fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Don’t worry about how others are living, their fruit isn’t my responsibility. This soil needs to stay rich with the nutrients God provides. We need to cultivate it so that these nutrients penetrate deep into us so that mere opinion is replaced with steadfast truth. “Oh but I know the truth!” Don’t we all think that? Honestly, we are only grasping the edge of it. A wisp of knowledge is in me. God is so great, so vast, we must continue to expose ourselves to Him in order to know Him. There is so much more to know, so much more to understand. Psalm 90:12 says “So teach us to number our days, that we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.” Grow our knowledge Lord, and help us to apply it wisely in order to build the Kingdom of God.
Oh Lord, penetrate the deepest part of me. Help me to know you better. Teach me to live a life that reflects you, my beloved Lord and dearest friend. In Jesus Name, AMEN Are you willing to cultivate with me this year? I’d love for you to join us in our Facebook study of the Legacy workbook. You will receive a downloadable preview of the workbook that is designed to go with the Legacy book. The workbook is free for this focus group only but you will need your own copy of the Legacy book to participate. Space is limited so please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, January 5, 2018.
She thought she could so she did. But it was harder than she thought. Who does she think she is? She tried, so why keep trying? Did she hear God correctly? Was it even God? Or was it some silly dream not work her time? There is fruit but not what she was expecting. Could she have misunderstood? Then quietly she hears the whisper. “Dear one, true it is not way you saw it. But I did implant the dream. Let it play out the way I want it. Don’t force it. You will impact others to grow my Kingdom.” As she walks down the path Jesus has set before her she sees the seeds He has asked her to scatter. She misses sometimes. Some days her imperfections seem larger than the talents He has clothed her in.
Still she walks. She doesn’t know what opportunities or barriers are before her. She just knows the goal. One day she will be with her Savior and each step will make sense. Until then, She will serve because He served. She will sacrifice because He sacrificed. She loves because He loved. She thought she could but she couldn’t. However, Jesus knew she could. He restores her unbelief with faith.
He fills her with joy. He extends His gentleness through her. He supplies her with self-control. He pours out patience so she too can give it. His peace overwhelms her. His kindness emanates from her. His goodness directs her. His love propels her to love like Him. He supplied the power she needs and through Him she will. This is each of our stories. Yes, that is right, this is each of us. We cannot forget we are His workmanship. Keep walking.