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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You're Hired

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.

The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. Only after a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They talked among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified for the job.

Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.” The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed, yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”

The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ Every one of you heard it, and yet none of you understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”

Oh how I never want to miss an opportunity to be “hired” for a job from God because I did not understand His message to me. Consequently, I have to be close enough to Him to hear, understand and follow His voice, “…He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know his voice.” John 10:4

Psalm 119:105 tells us that the Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path and John 1 tells us the Word is God. Therefore as I stay in the Word, God will lead me, guide me and light my path for me. I will hear His voice, understand and…. get the job.

No other employer would I rather have!

(Well… I have to say, my husband makes a pretty good boss too!)


By the way,
-.-- --- ..- .----. .-. . / .... .. .-. . -..
You’re Hired!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Do Over

When I was little we played a game called Four Square involving…. four people. Now if we had only two people then we played…. yes, you guessed it, Two Square.

It was quite an uncomplicated game. All you needed to play was a ball and a few lines drawn on the ground. And the best part was if you made a mistake, all you had to do was yell, “Do Over!”

The "do over" was one of childhood's most powerful rites. It exerted our dominion over the laws of space and time. For a moment, the clock was rolled back and the game was restored to its exact status as before the infraction and play was resumed.

Oh, I so wish we could go back in time and yell, “Do Over!” again.

Leg warmers… Do Over!

Break Dancing… Do Over!

Parachute pants… DO OVER!

Big hair… Do Over!

Dressing like Madonna… Do Over!

Yes, these are pretty much things that happened in the 80’s, but that was the decade I grew up in. I’m sure you too can easily remember, or forget, some fashion mistakes you made and are immensely grateful there are no pictures as evidence. Thank goodness some trends go away!

“Do overs” are wonderful for styles and games but how great it would be if we could have a do over every time we made a mistake in life.

I heard a preacher say last week, “Just because you made a mistake, it does not make you a mistake.” AMEN. I have to say that again…A-MEN!

We allow our past sins and mistakes all too often to define who we are. No, it is not who you are, it may be what you did, but it is so not who you are.

We can’t go back and rewrite our story, but we can learn from it, be changed by it, grow from it, and help others through it.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way.
2 Timothy 3 (Message)

Yes, it is with fond memories that we recall the do-over, a divine method of resolution, and contemplate the untold blessings it could bring if it were somehow extended into our lives today.

Although that’s not possible to roll back the clock to the moment before the infraction, wipe the slate clean and move forward with no shame, we can choose to not let the rest of our lives be dictated by one moment.

I love Lamentations 3:22-24 (NCV)...

The Lord's love never ends;
his mercies never stop.
They are new every morning;
Lord, your loyalty is great.
I say to myself, "The Lord is mine,
so I hope in him."

We can open our eyes each morning with absolute joy in the knowledge that our Father is waiting to spend the day with us, pouring out His mercy and grace. We can't use up His mercies; instead, we can wake up with a renewed sense of wonder at God 's marvelous grace, knowing that He has a more than abundant supply of everything we need, and His hand is open to give it to us if we ask Him.

Our Father does not grow weary of our mistakes as we can grow weary of them. Instead, He gives us every day as an opportunity to experience the deep joy of His ever-present mercies, mercies that can reach us no matter how bleak our circumstances. And if we lose sight of those mercies? No need to fear; they will be just as wonderful tomorrow as they were today.

Reflection:

Do you ever feel like you will never get beyond past mistakes? Just remember that God's mercy is new every day for you, and even if you mess up again (and we will) know that His mercy will never run dry.

How has God renewed you lately? Give Him thanks today for His continual loyalty to you.

Living in my daily dose of mercy,
Tina

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Pray?

Do you really believe God hears and answers your prayers? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and are living a life that lines up with His Word, then yes, He does hear and He does answer.

The problem we sometimes have is believing we are worthy to ask anything of the God who created every last galaxy. Or, we may think He has so many other concerns why would He care about my needs.

There have been many times in the past that it has been hard for me to reach out to my husband with a personal problem for counsel and advice. Why? Because as a pastor, he is forever helping other people with theirs and I am aware of how draining counseling can be. And we can view God this way too. He has enough He has to deal with, why would He care to take the time to listen to my prayer, much less answer it.

Oh my dear dear friend, just like my husband would never want me to carry a burden alone, no matter how depleted he may feel, God too does not want you to carry your load alone. He cares more than you will ever know. His compassion is so strong He’s not wanting to just share your load, He wants to carry it for you. He instructs us to “cast” our cares on Him (1 Peter 1:7). Let me tell you what that word cast means, it means to throw your need to God like Nolan Ryan throwing the first pitch in the World Series.

So let's look at our reasons for prayer today because God already knows everything about you and your needs, so why do you need to pray, you're not telling Him anything new. That’s true; we do not pray to inform God of anything. He knows what you have need of before you even ask (Matthew 6:8). And we also do not pray to instruct God. God knows how to handle our situations better than you and I ever could.

So why do we pray?

We pray to invite God.

Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you. Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened. Matthew 7:7-8

When you pray you are opening the door and inviting God in to your life and situation giving Him total control.

Now, does God always answer the way we want Him to? No, not always. Only because He knows what’s best for us and our life. Jesus prayed before His crucifixion Lord if there be any other way let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:39). But God knew the only way to save humanity was through the cross and Jesus' greater prayer was our salvation not His comfort.

Does God always answer when we want Him to? No, not always. Why? The time between our prayer and our answer can be times of tremendous spiritual growth. Times when we learn to lean on and trust in God with every part of our being. Mary, Lazarus' sister, wanted Jesus to come when her brother was sick, not four days after his death. But did the prayer still get answered? Did the miracle still happen? Oh, yes, just not in their timing.

Is there something in your life that has been long dead? It's STILL not too late for your miracle.

Ask, seek, and knock…

cast your care…

and then believe.

God does hear, and will answer your prayer. In His time, and in His way, only because He knows what's best for our lives. And when He does show up, He gets all the credit because only He can bring life out of death.

Is anything impossible for our God? Mary and Martha would answer you in a resounding... NO!

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again!
James 5:16-18 (Message)

Is that rain I hear in the distance......
Tina

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why the big hurry?

Jesus was never in a hurry. He was never stressed about getting “things” done. And yet the Bible says that if all He did was written down the world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)

What? You mean that in His 3 ½ years of ministry there were no, “Come on boys! Let’s get this camp packed up. We’ve got places to go, people to see! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Now it wouldn't make much sense for the Prince of Peace to be so stressed out would it?

He told us that He gave us that same peace so we too can move from assignment to assignment with ease and a steady calm.

Hurrying affects you in so many ways. I notice when I hurry I have a tendency to mess some things up.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I were having some car trouble and had to rent a car half way to Orlando. On our way back we had a slight emergency with some construction that was underway at our new office. Therefore when we dropped off the rental to pick up our car we were in a bit of a hurry. And it was raining. As we were slinging our luggage from one car to the next, my sunglasses, being loosely secured on my person, fell onto the asphalt scratching them up something awful. If they would have been cheap sunglasses, no big deal. But they weren’t. (Note to self: be more careful with expensive gifts from husband.)

Hurrying will not only affect the things in your life, more importantly it will affect your spiritual life. This Jesus knew. Rushing through life leaves no time to be still and know God.

Jesus was always ready to hear the voice of God at any given moment throughout His day and yet He was still able to get the job done, remaining calm and in control.

Calm… cool…. and collected…. that’s how I desire to live. Am I always successful? Ummmm ….no. But today I purpose to set my pace with Jesus’.

And the next time you see me, yes that will be scratches you see on my sunglasses.

Lesson learned.

Slow down.

Calm down.

Walk as Jesus walked!


Reflection:

What causes you to hurry through life? What steps can you take (planning ahead, delegating, etc.) to help prevent you from feeling you can't slow down?

What are you missing out on because you are racing through every day? A shared moment with a child, the beauty in a sunset, a little peace or just maybe the still small voice of your Father?

Until next time
I'm slooowwwingggg down,
Tina

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who can you trust

"Do you trust me?"

Those can be some of the most difficult words to respond to especially if you have been taken advantage of in a relationship, whether as an adult or as a child.

Broken trust can cause you to carry your pain like a badge of dishonor daring anyone to try and take advantage of you again. And sadly I have seen it all too often.

A couple weeks ago I encountered a woman who has been so hurt in her life nothing I could say or do was showing this woman how much I cared about her situation. She and her three children have been abandoned by their father and now she had no home and ultimately no hope. My heart broke as I tried to say everything I knew to say to break this hard exterior of distrust and pain.

We so often times judge people and their reactions not understanding the shaky foundation their lives are dwelling on. It would have been very easy for me to dismiss her because of her attitude toward me. But instead, I looked past her tough exterior and saw a woman who just needed to be loved. So love we did in the form of a home cooked meal for her and her children.

I think and pray for her often. I don’t even know her name. She was so mistrusting she would not tell it to me after I shared with her mine. But I don’t have to know it, God does.

And on this day after Valentine’s Day I pray for you too if you are riding on an emotional roller coaster of distrust. There is a Prince Charming out there and you can live happily-ever-after but you have to...

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Even if you can’t open yourself up to anyone yet, at least open yourself up to God. He loves you so much He sent your Valentines over 2000 years ago…But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. (Romans 5:8)

Yes, even in our broken and messed up state God still loved us so extravagantly He gave the best He had to offer… Himself. That’s better than any box of chocolate, any day of the week! And you won't gain any weight either.

All my love,
Tina

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When Fear comes Knocking

What would you do today for the cause of Christ if you were not afraid?

Witness to a coworker? Step out into full time ministry? Love someone undeserving? Start a ministry to those in need? Write a book?

Fill in the blank, I truly desire to _______________ but the thought of doing it makes me nervous.

My greatest fear in life was public speaking, which is not uncommon. Chances are you have the same fear too. Most people do. But for me I knew God was calling me to lead and speak into the lives of women and doing it from my comfort zone was not an option.

Will fear automatically leave you because of a calling? I so wish it was that easy. It would have saved me from many sleepless nights and billions of butterflies in my stomach.

I had to learn to live 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given me the spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind."

I also had to learn fear is only a tool Satan uses to keep us from believing we can do and be all that God has called us to do and be. Fear has to be confronted head on and God has given you the boldness to break its hold on your life.

Here is something interesting I read today. The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. What is interesting is these magnificent creatures can be kept in a zoo enclosure with only a 3 foot wall. What keeps them from jumping and easily escaping? They will not jump because they cannot see where they will land.

How many times have we not jumped because we were fearful of where we would land?

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is the ability to jump even when we cannot see. It frees us from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear entraps us with. Sometimes you just gotta jump!

What dreams are waiting to be fulfilled? What steps are you suppose to be taking? You may still feel fear when you take that first step, but you are not walking by how you feel, you are walking by faith.

If you could only see what's on the other side of your 3 foot wall.... freedom! Freedom to do all God is calling you to do.

So the next time fear comes knocking on your door, send faith to answer it.

Until next time,
Tina

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Read This

Do you struggle with reading your Bible? Are you one of the many who just can't seem to "get into it." I want to share with you some facts I found today.

58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school
42% of college graduates never read another book after graduation
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
57% of new books are not read to completion
And most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.

Wow, after reading this it is no wonder we have a hard time reading the Bible. Think about it, compared to most books on the self, the Bible has way more pages, can be difficult to understand and the thought of trying to read it all the way from Genesis to 'Maps' can be very overwhelming.

Please know that you are not alone in your struggle, but please don’t let the uneasiness of the task stop you from getting started either. How many things in life of great value and significance are easy? If something has great reward, it usually requires great work. Case in point… an education, great marriages and living a healthy lifestyle, none of these come easy, but the rewards far outweigh the work.

The rewards of learning, living and loving the Word will far outweigh the work you invest in it too. So today I want to give you a few tips to help you get started or to help you as you continue your lifestyle of reading God’s Word.

#1 You have to commit to do it. You will never complete what you do not start. If you never commit to start exercising, you will never do it. It first takes a made up mind. And ladies, that’s half the battle. If you have to write it down and remind yourself everyday of your commitment, than do it. Whatever helps you reach your goal, that's what you need to do. Commit to it and do it.

#2 Be in it. If you do not go to the gym or put on the exercise DVD or step out the door to walk your neighborhood, don’t think just because you made a commitment to do it that it’s going to get done. You have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Those who practice a consistent pattern of daily reading soon discover it to be “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10

#3 Live it. Most books that you will read are designed to be read and digested. The Bible on the other hand is a living book. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 12:14 (NLT) Because it is alive it becomes a part of who you are, how you think and what you do.

Why is it necessary to commit to, be in and live out the Word? Jesus talked about people who built their lives on shifting sand- their own logic, best guesses and latest reasoning. When the storms of life begin to rage, the lives on weak foundations crumbled. But Jesus also said in Matthew 7, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock."

When your life is founded on the rock of God’s never changing Word, it is guaranteed against destruction. I agree it can be very difficult to just open your Bible and start reading expecting an explosion of knowledge to be unleashed and then be discouraged when it's not. Please let me recommend that you get a great devotional or a Bible study and start there. Two of my favorites are by Beth Moore, Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only & David: 90 Days with a Heart Like His.

Maybe you have seen what sandy foundations can do, maybe you did not just see it, but lived it. Now, together let’s purpose to experience what a solid foundation can do and produce in our lives; wholeness, life, freedom, love, security, peace, joy and all the good things only God can and desires to bestow upon our lives.

I want nothing more than for your life to be the best it can be. That will only happen when you truly commit to study and live the Word of God. Remember your reward will far exceed your work. And honestly, after a period of time, it no longer becomes a struggle you dread but a blessing you desire.

Happy reading,
Tina