Monday, April 15, 2019

The Garden Awaits

The Garden was quiet.  Daylight was fading. The sun was slowly sliding towards the horizon. Resplendent beauty radiated from every corner of the Garden. However, the Creator was oblivious to the grandeur around Him. He stood alone in this plot of paradise for the first time since He had created Man. No one greeted Him that day as He entered. No outstretched hands welcomed Him. No glittering eyes waited eagerly to share the events of the day. 

The curse of sin had fallen, 
like a guillotine; 
severing the innocent, loving relationship 
between Man and Maker. 

It was a sad day. Communion was shattered. The Garden would never be the same. Gone were the brilliant mornings, filled with wonder. Gone were the timeless evenings of fellowship. Adam and Eve were banished and could never return. In fact the Garden stood empty for years.

The Garden was quiet.  Daylight was fading. The sun was slowly sliding towards the horizon.
The Master was alone again, except for the three sleeping disciples. He had already roused them once, but they slept on. 

He walked deeper 
into the Garden and wept. 
He intensely desired 
to bring them one last time 
to this Garden retreat, 
where they had met so often. 
He had planned to 
pray with them - to prepare them. 

The sleeping men had no idea that moments later, soldiers would take away their Lord. In the days ahead mobs would cry out for Him to be crucified and false witnesses would concoct ruthless lies. They would not be prepared for the sight of their Lord yielding his hands and feet to the nails of a cross. The Garden where they lay dreaming would burst into a living nightmare just any second now.  When He cried, “It is finished”, they would not understand His death. They would never realize what they lost, by sleeping in the Garden.

The Garden was quiet. Daylight was just peeking over the horizon - when suddenly an angel appeared! The guards patrolling the tomb fell to the ground in fear as the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.The ground shook as Jesus stepped into the Garden again. In His hand were the keys to Death, Hell, and the Grave! 

Communion was restored!  
Sin and the serpent were defeated! 
Jesus Christ would reign forever!

When Mary arrived - and saw the angels in the vacated tomb - her grieving heart and tearful eyes blinded her vision. She turned to leave as panic threatened to choke the breath from her. When she saw Him, she mistook Jesus for a gardener, and begged Him to tell her where her master was.  (John 20:14-15)

The Garden is quiet. It awaits each morning, fresh with new mercy. All who enter can enjoy sweet fellowship with the Lily of the Valley - the Rose of Sharon - the Morning Star! 

An hour in the Garden 
is strength to the weary mind, 
bread to the hungry heart,
water to the thirsty soul. 

One hour in the Garden with Jesus can bring healing to the hurting and comfort to the lonely. How long you stay and how often you come is your choice. 

He will always be there, 
craving His time with you 
- uninterrupted time - 
an audience of one. 

He desires to take you deep into the Garden to places you’ve never been. You may not recognize Him - if life has distorted your vision; you may think He couldn't possibly be your master - with calamity and chaos cluttering your mind. Don't run away - it is Him! Close your eyes, take His hand… the Garden awaits!

Monday, April 30, 2018

GPS - God's Positioning System

I'll admit - at 58 years of age - I have become directionally challenged. 
I used to be a great map reader - and trip-route planner. But then - technology came along and made my life simpler. 
I no longer have to remember how to get anywhere - I just push a couple of buttons - and my car navigation system takes over. 

"In 6.8 miles use the left lane to merge onto SC-9 South toward North Myrtle Beach." (ahhh... I love the beach!)
Consistent reminders keep me on track even when my mind wanders off - as I'm chattering to a passenger - or listening to an audiobook or podcast.
I always panic a bit when I hear - "In 700 feet turn right onto Main Street."

700 feet? How far is that? Is this the street? 
No - it says I have 400 more feet to go!
And this is the important turn! If you miss this one - you may have to go miles to turn around! 

(Thank God for my Apple watch that actually vibrates on my arm at the exact moment I'm supposed to turn - saving me from a panic attack in 100 feet!)

Living for God is much like this. 
We KNOW our destination is Heaven. But this journey is quite complicated at times. We don't see the full route map - or we could actually PLAN what we're going to do and where we're going to spend the next 20 years of our life. 
Sometimes we THINK we know - and we put down roots - buy a house and a dog. Then God says... 
"For the next 5 years, live in limbo and try to act like you're happy, content and in control."

Actually, all we need to do is pay attention and listen to His turn-by-turn directions. 

"In 2 minutes, ask the lady at the cash register if she is having a blessed day. No matter what her answer is, tell her you believe that she is valuable and her life and influence matter. Flash a genuine smile and continue walking to your car to load your groceries."

Wait - shouldn't I palm her head - and speak in tongues - and invite her to church? 


Follow God's voice. Listen and obey. If He says speak, speak. If He says pray, pray. Don't speak if He's only told you to pray. 

Now, remember, just as an accurate GPS requires a constant and strong connection to the Global Positioning Satellite system to keep you from ending up in "unidentified areas" - God's Positioning System requires constant and strong connection.

I have actually waited until I arrived in an unfamiliar area to turn on my car's navigation system!

"Uh-oh. Where am I? Which way do I go at this intersection?" 
Not a great idea when you've got traffic bottle-necking behind you!

Every day - when you get ready to start your journey... before you step out of your bedroom - turn on that spiritual navigation system. Make sure the signal is strong!

"Lord Jesus, order my steps today. Guide my feet. Order my tongue! Lead me in the direction You want me to go and put me in contact with the people You want me to connect with. If at any time today You decide to change my direction, You have my permission to do so! Re-route me. Send me on a detour. Just lead me all day long in the direction that brings You Glory and fulfills Your Purpose in my life!" 
In Jesus Name!

Happy travels!

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Seagull

I found my place on the sand; away from everyone at the retreat. Just needing some space - a chance to breathe. The October sun was warm but the wind held a chill, so I burrowed into my beach blanket. I had arrived at our annual prayer retreat in a mental fog. Exhausted on every level. I secretly felt sorry for the 30 women there with me - pretty sure I was not going to be very good company. I loved each of them dearly, but felt like only a fragment of who I was had arrived this year. I slipped away for some alone time… hoping no one had followed or noticed.  This was my place. The ocean is my therapy. The momentum and rhythm of the waves is like medicine to my soul. I can imagine with every wave - the stress and tension leaving my body. 
The seagull edged closer to me, keeping a close eye. I could tell he was waiting for a crumb or morsel of food. I had nothing with me. I felt irritation in the pit of my stomach… Seriously? Is there no place I can go without feeling like someone or something needs my attention - or wants something from me?
I realized, “I feel drained by the people in my life! Why is everyone so needy?” 
These thoughts brought guilt mixed with conviction. I disappointed myself with such selfish musings. 
I prayed… God help me. Fix me. Change me. Forgive me. And then…
Jesus, do you feel like me? If my emotions reflect yours; do you see me like this seagull? Do You feel like I’m always waiting for You to toss me a crumb; yet not willing to come close enough to just BE with you. Do you see me as high maintenance, needy and draining? Are these your feelings towards me right now? 
I stared at the seagull. My stare turned into one of those non-blinking, trance-like moments. I was awash in shame for feeling so resentful towards this innocent bird!
Suddenly our eyes locked. The seagull was now about six feet from my blanketed shroud. We stared for a good long moment, and then I blinked. He blinked back. Suddenly  a soft wave of understanding swept from my eyes to my brain - through my mind and into my soul. 
The seagull was an expression of Jesus!
I began to weep…
Jesus! The seagull is You! You lovingly approach me but dare not disturb me. You patiently pursue me without interrupting my life. You willingly wait and anticipate the moment when I will recognize Who You are - and finally get up and fly with You! Fly… far above all of the carnal chaos. High into the peace of Your holiness, where the glory of Your presence can calm my thoughts; revive my spirit and restore my soul. 
My breath caught in my throat as I wept before the love of my life. And then I breathed in a deep lung-full of Him. 

Jesus… I am breathing You in. I am being reborn! On this day, October 26, you are creating a new me! Show me who she is. Show me what you see in this new creation. When I get up off this sand; show me how to walk. Show me how to talk. Teach me all over again how to live. Teach me how to give of myself without depleting myself. I want to be a good and true friend, wife, mother and mentor. Teach me how to be the best version of me possible. I will arise a new creature in You, Jesus. Full of love and compassion. Full of You!

Note: I found these notes in my prayer journal from our Prayer Retreat in 2016... just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Fly

I found this note in my Face Book Notes from 2011 - and decided to share it here on my Blog: 
Jesus cares about whatever is pestering us - or scaring us - or annoying us! He proved this to me today.
I had a 1:30 doctor's appointment - so I headed out at around 1:00 in my Honda Odyssey. I had barely got on the highway and this enormous horsefly buzzed by my head and landed on my jacket. Screaming - and trying to pay attention to traffic - I pulled into the turning lane... stopped and tried to shew him out the window. No such luck. He flew to the back of the van. I was right by our church - so I pulled in - opened up all the windows and doors and tried to find this ginormous fly. I couldn't see him - so I was hoping he had flown away. I had to keep my appointment - so I got back in the van. Less than a mile up the road - he dive bombed my head again and I could hear him buzzing behind my seat. I am freaking out by now... and pull off as soon as I can - safely... I opened up the windows and doors again - praying. I needed to SEE this fly leave my van... but he was nowhere to be found! I looked at my watch and realized I had spent twenty minutes trying to excavate the horse fly - and now had ten minutes to get to the other side of Fayetteville. (I called to let them know I was running late ) With tears in my eyes, I got back in the van. I left the windows down and started driving. I was so afraid that when I got into heavy traffic that fly would land on me and cause me to wreck and hurt somebody! I felt like bawling - but all of a sudden - I got MAD! Mad at the devil! I prayed out loud "God- you are the Lord of all things - and you have power over everything - even this fly! Satan thinks that because he is Beelzebub that "he" is lord of the flies - but YOU have the power to destroy him! Now I need you to let me SEE this fly either die or leave my van so that I can have peace and drive safely." I prayed with so much confidence and faith - and I was somehow able to drive without worrying. When I got to a red light near the doctor's office - I looked around to see if the fly was visible - and to my surprise - there he laid in the bottom compartment of my driver's door - all of his hairy legs sticking straight up in the air - DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! I grabbed a napkin and threw him out the window! Then I had a praise break! This incident just reminded me that God CARES! And I want to remind YOU - that He is concerned with whatever concerns His children. Even if its just a silly old lady scared of a horsefly!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fresh Baked Mercy!

Lamentations 3:21-23 has always been in my Top Ten Favorite scripture passages. 
When I read this chapter yesterday in my Daily reading... I heard Jeremiah speaking to me directly! For the first time, I realized just how amazing these three verses are, when you understand the full setting of the entire passage. 
Jeremiah laments for 20 verses about his present situation.
He is experiencing horrid affliction; he is in a very dark place at this point in his life spiritually and physically. 
He believes that God's hand has turned against him; he has multiple broken bones; he's been walled in by bitterness, pain and sorrow as well as literal stone walls; he feels like everyone has ganged up on him - including God; he's bound with heavy chains and shackles; God has obviously shut out his cries and prayers - literally locked him up and thrown away the key; he feels like he's been tracked down and attacked- by God! Like a bear or a lion - he's been mauled and ripped apart; God even used him for target practice - shot him in the belly and left him for dead. Those around him who have watched his demise - have used him for a laughing stock and shoved rotten food down his throat; he feels as if God has taken his face and ground it into the gravel and pounded him into the mud! 
At this point - Jeremiah is ready to give up on life. He has forgotten anything good that life has to offer... even decides that GOD is a lost cause. In this pit he is in -he has nothing but time - so his mind just plays everything over and over day and night. 
He remembers all of the trouble - the desperate feeling of being completely abandoned. He relives every pain and tragic loss; he remembers the taste of ashes in his mouth and the bitter poison he swallowed... he remembers hitting rock bottom and giving up. 
But in the middle of all of those memories - something he knows for sure about God's love and mercy pops up. 
God's mercy never runs out. It never dries up. Because its fresh and new every morning. A glimmer of Hope quickens his spirit. And in the middle of the ashes, pain and desperation - he remembers how amazing God's grace and mercy is. He stops complaining and lamenting for a moment. He takes a detour off memory lane to reflect on God's faithfulness. 
Wow! Jeremiah is talking to me and you today. I have not been able to get this scenario out of my mind for the past 36 hours... so I felt driven to write this down!
No matter where you are today; no matter how dark and hopeless your situation may seem; no matter how devastating, bitter and vivid the memories of your past; no matter how LONG it has been since you felt like God was listening to your prayers - let alone answering them... allow your mind to take a detour off of memory lane. 
Force your memory to bring up God's goodness and mercy. Remember the night He whispered a promise in your ear? Remember the morning on your knees when He showed you a glimmer of His vision for your life? 
You can believe again! You can HOPE again! His mercy endures forever!
How? How can His mercy endure forever? Because, a new batch is baked every night and is ready for us - fresh every morning! 
I am aware that the "night" you are living in may be dark and cold and lonely. But NEW MERCY is in the oven right now! When the sun comes up - wonderful, FRESH mercy will be waiting on you!
"O, taste and see, that the Lord - He is good!" Psalms 34:8
O give thanks to the Lord of lords; for His MERCY endureth forever!" Psalms 136:3

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Power of Two

Two is an interesting number.
Its the only Even Prime number. (Remember prime numbers? A number that can only be divided by itself and 1). 
Its so cool how God gave us two of a bunch of things. Two arms to hug with. Two legs to walk in the right direction. Two eyes so we can see the beauty and love around us - two ears so we can hear whats going on from any direction. 
Oh yes, one is the loneliest number, but TWO! Well - Its sort of romantic! Just think of all the idioms about "two"...
Two peas in a pod
Bicycle built for Two 
It takes Two to tango
Two heads are better than one
(Well… actually - anything with two heads is kind of weird)
Okay, so I have to admit - "Two" isn’t always so romantic!
There’s the terrible Twos
There’s my Two cents
Two left feet
And Two way streets
Two sides to every story
You know - Two can play the same game
You can take someone down a peg or Two
There’s Two-timers and 
Two-faced people 
And then we learn to stand on our own Two feet.

But the Word of God encourages us to embrace the number TWO. Matthew 18:19-20
“Again I say unto you, That if TWO of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where TWO or THREE are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

It can be more than TWO - but if at least TWO of us agree - and ask - it will be done! 
It can be more than TWO - but if at least TWO of us gather in HIS name - He’s gonna show up!

Amazingly, this encouraging message from Jesus was His response to His disciples questions concerning which one of them was going to get the highest rank.

This brings me to another point...
There can be more than two - but when there’s at least TWO of us, we tend to compare ourselves - and that is a trap!
When we compare ourselves - we enter into competition.
That leads to one of two results... 
Either we perceive that we are inadequate - or at least not as good as the other one.
Or we feel like we are better and above the other person.

If I feel like you’re smarter, more confident and more successful than I am - I won't feel like I can partner with you - agree with you - and work in unity with you.
If I feel like I’m above you - and you’re a moron - I’m sure not going to be able to unite and partner with you in God’s work.

We must remember... We are not in competition! We are on the same team and we need to be in agreement!
We wonder where the Miracles, Signs and Wonders are?
I say Miracles, Signs and Wonders are waiting on TWO of us to GET IT TOGETHER!
Jesus made it plain when he said...
"Again I say unto you, That if TWO of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where TWO or THREE are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Peter is probably reflecting on the previous discussion with the guys about who was the most important among them... and he didn’t point any fingers - but he blurts out the obvious! 
"Lord, How many times do I have to forgive these jokers? Seven times?"
Jesus blows his mind - no Pete - seventy times seven!

Perhaps Peter was trying to figure out - how he was going to find ONE other person to unite with so they could touch and agree together! Of course, it would have been great if all twelve of them could have agreed; but TWO would work just as well.

Who can you agree with - for the things you want and NEED to see happen in your life? You may have some deep disagreements with  family members or friends - but its time to humble ourselves like children and stop comparing and competing with one another!

I challenge you to find ONE other person to agree with. Grab ONE person to pray and believe with. Oh yes, a prayer team of twenty-five would be fabulous - but why wait to find two dozen like-minded prayer warriors when TWO of us can already be agreeing and touching heaven for the miraculous!
TWO of us can change someone’s destiny!
TWO of us can touch heaven for a backslider!
TWO of us can create an atmosphere where the Spirit of God and His anointing can move into our situation! 
TWO can get things done! TWO can gather together and agree in Jesus name - and ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
It would be awesome if ALL of us could agree... but TWO will do! 

The Power of Two was my Keynote Message at NCLC17

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Branded by Love

The following was an outline of the Keynote message I gave at NC District Ladies Conference 2016. Our theme was "Branded by Love" - and so it went...

Branding has been going on for centuries.
I want to run a couple spiritual parallels - and then get to my thought. 

Branding - whether by heat, ice, ear tags, or tattoos, is a method still used to identify ownership of animals. 
Note: Who do you belong to? Who owns you?

In Western states, out on the vast ranges, cattle can easily wonder or get mixed with other herds. They may graze for weeks along with another herd - but when “round-up” time comes - and the owners brand is spotted - all the cows come home.
Note: You may have a son or a daughter who has wandered off… don’t worry - that brand is clear to the owner. He'll round them up. They’ll come home - you just keep praying!

Believe it or not, there are still modern-day cattle rustlers to keep an eye out for. They tamper with the brand - disguise it to look like "their" brand. Being able to identify an animal’s owner by a brand is critically important.
Note: Make sure your brand is clear - not a smudged up - tampered with brand. There’s an enemy trying to claim you and take your soul to Hell.

Humans were also branded for various reasons throughout history... 
  • Slaves were branded to mark ownership; 
  • Criminals were branded with marks of disgrace. 
  • During World War II, victims of Nazi persecution who were interned in concentration camps were branded with numbers. 
Note: Some of you have been scarred and marred by your previous owner. But God is in the business of changing lives. When He gets through with you - His brand will be clear! No one will ever guess how far He’s brought you!

Although some implications and connotations of branding have remained common, for the most part, the negative undertones of branding have been replaced by a more positive and commercial reference.
Branding is now a very sought after thing in the business world. A distinction of quality merchandise and services "brands" a company.
Interesting fact: What do you call a jetted bathtub? (Of course - we all call this luxurious bath a Jacuzzi!)
But Jacuzzi is just one brand name. 
The seven Jacuzzi brothers, Italian immigrants to the USA, set up a company in 1917 producing aeroplanes, and later, agricultural and marine water pumps.  Then in 1956, one of the brothers, Candido, adapted a pump and incorporated it into a bathtub to create a hydro-massage effect which eased the pain being suffered by his young son, Kenneth, a victim of rheumatoid arthritis.
In 1968, another of the family members, Roy Jacuzzi, spotted the real commercial marketing potential of his relative’s invention, and a version incorporating the jets into the structure of the bathtub was launched onto the market.The Jacuzzi surname became the brand name of the product.

And now... my message:
Over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ began His ministry - by pouring Himself into 12 young men - later called Disciples. 
These guys started living and reproducing what Jesus taught them and their number grew. 
They spent every waking moment with Jesus for three years.
Pretty soon - they started talking like Jesus.
They started walking like Jesus.
Just before His crucifixion - Jesus took the disciples aside and tried to explain to them what was getting ready to happen. 
He took a towel and a basin of water - and washed their feet.
Their grimy, sweaty, calloused, stinky feet. 
He knew the pain and hardship each one of them were walking through.
He wanted to love on them.
He wanted to help them.
He wanted to minister to them.
He wanted to teach them a very important life lesson.
At that point none of them knew what Jesus was going through.
I can imagine how much joy he felt as He lovingly watched them interact. They talked and ate - and He loved it.
He was watching the wheels turn in Judas’ brain - and knew what his plans were. 
He washed Judas’ feet - and I can imagine how lovingly he dried them - knowing those feet were getting ready to run to betray him. 
Jesus KNEW these guys were going to be shattered and scattered - devastated by what Judas was going to do; so He tells them:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13: 34-35)
Love was to become their "brand".
It took a supernatural act for this branding to take place.
During the horrendous arrest; they, ran, hid, denied and lied.
During the tragic crucifixion; they fell hopelessly into depression, because His preparatory words were lost beneath their grief and loss
Someone else had to step in and take care of His burial - their devastation was suffocating.Those three long days before His resurrection, they forgot everything He had told them.
But as He stood transfigured before them - RISEN from the dead; they finally believed and obeyed their Lord. 
They went to Jerusalem - and tarried. On the Day of Pentecost - they were totally empowered! The Holy Ghost fell on them and they became bold new creatures!
From that day forward...
They laid hands on the sick - and they recovered
The dead were raised. 
Demons were cast out. 
The blind received their sight.
Of course this stirred up some trouble… 
As you read through the book of Acts - they began to be persecuted for being like Jesus. 
Stephen was stoned. Many were put to death.
Due to the persecution - they begin to obey the command - to “Go ye into all the world”…
They fled to Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch - and the Church grew. Persecution made them stronger and closer!
Seeing each other suffer stirred up such a LOVE! They drew closer together; as a body - they took care of the hurting, the poor, the widows… 
It was in Antioch - where the people noticed how they cared for one another. The way they took care of each other and loved one other caused the public to take notice.
They were called Christians; "Branded"! ...first at Antioch.
(Christian was a word that linked them to Christ. They were acting just like Jesus Christ - so they were called Christians!)
My message in a nutshell.
If we want to be known as HIS girls - we have to carry the brand.
He saw you - as a child. 
He’s watched you through your entire life. 
He saw your pain. Your hurt. Your rejection 
He knew about the walls you had built.
But He saw how valuable you were too.
He washed you. He cleaned you up.
And if you wear His brand - you LOVE.
You LOVE the unlovable.
You LOVE the one who hates you.
You LOVE the one who cheated on you and exposed you.
You LOVE those who can’t love you back.
You SHOW LOVE to Christ by LOVING His creation.
This week - lets pour love on each other. 
(I honestly wish we could have had a mass foot-washing service.) 
Find a way to show humility and love to someone WITH NO EXPECTATION of payment or return.
Show LOVE to the lady in line behind you.
Show LOVE to the sweethearts cleaning your hotel rooms.
Show LOVE to the servers - and the maintenance workers. 
Wear your BRAND!
I don't want someone to sidle up to me and look at my BRAND and say, "Hmmmm… this is a confusing BRAND! Is she a Christian or a Martian?" 
"Is that J for Jesus or for Jealousy?"
"Is that C for Christ or for Crazy?"
Lets wear our BRAND of LOVE today - tomorrow - wherever we go!
Jesus purchased us - and He put His BRAND on us.
He didn’t say: 
"They’ll know your’e Mine by the long skirts you wear."
"They’ll know your’e Mine but the big offering you gave."
They’ll know we are HIS by the LOVE we have for one another! Simple. 
He rounded us up.
He cleaned us up.
And He Branded us.
He saw our value and He paid the price!
Now wear the BRAND of LOVE with Honor!