How Is Your Wait?

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:15

Waiting is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but it is part of what it means to be a servant of God. Because your life is hidden in Christ, His agenda is what matters most. Because His agenda takes precedence over your own, waiting for His timing is as common as flour is for a baker. God has the arial view, if you will, and you can only see from where you are on the ground. Waiting is wisdom, My Friend. You would not want to rush what God is up to in your life or the lives of those for whom you have been praying. If the Almighty is not in a hurry, who are you and I to be in one? Ask the Lord to give you His perspective so that you can experience the peace that is also a part of being a servant of God. Determine not to be like the child for whom everything must happen right now. Exercise child-like faith that your Divine Parent knows what is best and that you can trust Him by choosing to be patient.

I believe that faith makes the Father smile. Because it is impossible to please Him without it (Hebrews 11:6) you and I can be confident of His pleasure when we put it into practice. So, how is your wait, My Friend? Is the Father finding pleasure in your behavior in your waiting season? I can assure you mine is not what it needs to be. I am learning that patience is in my best interest because it brings about the rest I am always asking God to give me—the growth too. Patience helps me slow down enough to savor where I am right now, whatever that season may be. It enables me to devote the needed attention to whatever God has placed in my hand at the moment instead of straining to get where I think I want to be. I also have to keep telling myself that if I choose to do today well, I will be ready for the day I have been longing for when it comes.

Pray with me: Father, forgive me for my impatience. Help me to trust You and to remember anew that You are in control and that this is all I need to know. Help me to be faithful in what You have for me to do right now knowing it is every bit as important as the thing I think I would rather be doing. Thank you that by your Spirit, I already possess the patience I need. Give me grace to allow its release in my life so that I can be pleasing to You in my waiting season. Amen.


Aim High!

“He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. ” 2 Kings 14:3

In some cases, it’s ok to be mediocre. No one can be the best at everything and some things are not important enough to deserve our energy and time.

Other things, however, mean so much that they deserve our utmost.

I speak specifically to your heart toward God. Today’s verse gives a chilling description of the heart of King Amaziah. At first it sounds like he was getting a glowing review: he did right in the sight of God. The description quickly darkens when it says he didn’t do right like his ancestor David, a man after God’s own heart. King Amaziah was satisfied being “good enough”.

Call me an overachiever, but I want to do more than just get by in my walk with God. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart. I don’t want there to be any area of my life that I am satisfied with the bronze or tin when the gold of knowing God deeper is available by His grace.

How about you?

When we start talking about being pleasing to God, the mind automatically looks at the mountain of times we failed before, but that’s not where we should focus. We must focus on the power God offers to help us persevere and overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It begins with repentance and surrender. Are there morals you have let slip? Have you given up striving to hear Him say, “well done” because it seems nobody else is trying? The benefits of following hard after God far outweigh the “pleasures” of mediocrity. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

The cross was God’s way of reaching low to save us. Our best response is to aim high in pleasing Him.

The Prayer That Hurts

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“…yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

When we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that we want our own way. We want things to happen in our favor or in the favor of those we love. Sometimes we cannot think of any reason why God would not want the outcome we desire, but the inescapable fact is that our understanding is limited. Wisdom and the Word both tell us that we must punctuate every prayer with the words that sometimes sting, “Thy will be done.” Those words, spoken by One Who faced much more than anything we might be hoping to avoid, exemplify the heart-stance of submission. Any good servant recognizes that he or she has no final say but this one. Those four words, though said through gritted teeth, drag the flesh to its knees and give reverence to Omniscience.

I can think of some things I want so desperately, and I pray those words in the face of them. It always stings, but I have lived long enough to know that I dare not insist on what I think I want. The Word tells of times when the Lord gave people the thing they refused to give up in place of His will, and I want no part of those kinds of consequences. The lips that pray for the will of God above their own are connected to the mind that chooses to look at the heart of the One to whom the words are directed. Love is there, love proven through the cross that overshadowed the place those words were uttered first. Just as Christ’s surrender through those words secured salvation for us, our same utterance saves us from a multitude of trouble and usher in untold blessing. Sometimes we see what the trouble would be and it is easier to pray those words, but other times we must surrender in the face of the false luster of what we think are good things. Because the devil never shows the price tag until after we give in, we must trust on the front end that whatever our Father says “no” to, or “wait” is for our good. If He gave us the best He had in His Son, why would He withhold any lesser thing from us? (Romans 8:32) Although it may hurt at first, surrender of our will to God’s is a “yes” to the best of what He has in mind.

Keep it Straight

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“Do not be conformed to this world….” Romans 12:1

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philippians 2:14-15

No, you are not crazy. Sometimes it can feel like you might be because so much of what is happening around you is the exact opposite of what should be. Foundational truths are now in question. Everything is open for discussion and never for the better but for the purpose of rearranging according to individual preferences. Loyalty to self above all else is the rule of the day. It is natural, when everyone seems to be going the opposite direction, to wonder if you missed something. The temptation to turn around and go along with everyone else is real. To go against the tide requires strength, and if we are honest, we sometimes get tired of being the strong one, the lone voice of correction.

Too much is at stake, though, My Friend. Someone out there needs to hear your lone voice, to know that they have the option to do what is right instead of what is natural or comfortable. Not everyone will turn a deaf ear. Someone out there has followed the throng and already discovered its promises are empty. Imagine the hopelessness they face without your voice of hope and a better way, the only way. The throng is wrong and as long as you have a voice, you must use it to speak the truth and take all that comes along with it. Jesus said that taking up His cross would mean a target on your back. Opposition is part of the life He has called you and I to live. The enemy of our souls rolls out a carpet that curves and bends but underneath are spikes and hidden pits destined to destroy its travelers. The road Christ offers is straight, though not smooth, but leads to joy and abundant joy at that. It is not your job or mine to change anybody, to force anyone to do what they do not want to do. Your calling and mine is to present the truth and remain faithful to it so that any who desire it know where to find it. Period.

Resist the lure of conformity, My Friend, and its tantalizing call to blend in and fit in. When everyone else is wanting the crooked, you and I must constantly offer the straight. Leave it to Christ to refute the lies that straight equals boring and unfulfilling. The life of peace and joy that you and I enjoy is all the advertising the straight life needs. Those with eyes to see it will see and believe.

In the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, you and I must keep our message and mindset straight.

Still Standing

And having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Life can be hard, really hard. Difficulty has everyone’s address and pays a visit to everybody. Jesus never said life would be perfect, He warned us that the opposite will be true (John 16:33) We frustrate ourselves when we work too hard to make life perfect. Our energies are best spent on allowing our trials to do what God intends them to accomplish: strength, growth, endurance, and patience. This is easy to say but hard to do. Fortunately, we do not have to do it in our own strength. The Lord has promised He will never leave us and while the storms of life are raging, He will remain in the boat with you (Isaiah 43:2).

If you have given up, get back up, My Friend. If you are still on the path of hardship, stay there until the Lord decides to give you rest. You may not see the good changes happening inside you, but trust that God is up to something that you will be glad about when it is over. We often ask God to make us more like Himself but balk at the process it takes to accomplish it. The work He is doing in you prepares you for what God wants to do in your life in the future. What a shame it would be if you arrived at your purpose unprepared. Refuse to give up, My Friend. He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it if you will be faithful to remain standing under your present difficulty (Philippians 1:6)

In the end, trust is your friend. Trust that the God Who saved you, provides for you, protects you, and knows you also loves you. Let His history of faithfulness to you cause you to persevere through your trials. Your pain has a purpose and the struggle is building spiritual muscle. You are going to need it for the days ahead. 

A Worthy Example

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live… Then they can urge the younger women….” Titus 2:3-4

I lost my precious mother-in-law yesterday. This last year of caring for her has been the most challenging season I have ever faced. Strangely, when I saw that she had breathed her last, none of that came to mind. Immediately my mind filled with memories of a life well-lived, one that I want to imitate. Kindness, generosity, grace, unconditional love, strength, and hospitality are only a few of the rays of light that emanated from this tiny woman. Having survived the burial of two of her children and a husband, she would tell anyone that her resilience and strength came only from God. The day I married her son, she said she had not gained a daughter-in-law, but a daughter, and she treated me that way till her dying day. If I ever get a daughter-in-law, I hope to pass on that sentiment.

I want to live and leave a legacy like hers. When family and friends gather in a few days to say goodbye, I want all that will be said of her to be said of me when my time comes. I have a lot to live up to, and I know that it will only happen if I rely on the same Power Source that she did. By the world’s standards, her life was not extraordinary. She was neither wealthy nor highly educated, but her generous spirit and uncanny ability to make so many people feel so loved is iconic.

I am struck most by the fact that she did so much with so little. This is the encouragement I want to pass on to you, My Friend. You already have what it takes to shine, to leave a legacy, and to make an impact on those around you. You already possess gifts that you may not think amount to much but mean the world to those around you. Our precious Mimi loved people through her stove. Each Sunday, any and everyone had a standing invitation to come by for a meal and to drink in all the magic that happens when people get together. Her voice rang with chords of kindness so that even when she had to rebuke you, her gentle love took the sting out of it. The fullness of her love makes the loss that much more painful, but we would not change any of it. You and I can have that said of us too. The secret is to let God use us in any way He desires. We often put too much muscle and shine on being a legacy when the real impact comes through the mighty hand of God working through a willing vessel. Let us not try so hard to be what we are not but allow the wind of the Spirit of God to blow us in any direction He pleases. It is the surest way to become a legend; the best guarantee of a life well-lived and to receive the high prize of hearing the Lord say, “Well done!”

Read Anyway

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

If we are honest, we do not always feel like doing what we need to do. If we neglect loading the dishwasher, no clean dishes will be available, resulting in crusty dishes the next day. Poor oral hygiene is a forerunner to tooth loss, so we had better make the effort to care for them. Wait too long to cut your grass and snakes and mice think they have found a new neighborhood. Skip too many baths and ungodly odors emanate from key places that will not stand for it!

Likewise, reading the Word is not always what we feel like doing, but we must discipline ourselves to do it. Think of what happens when we are lazy about it. The weeds of discontentment, fading loyalty to Christ, and the ugly side we all know we have tend to grow out of control. The mindset of the world, the flesh and the devil slither in and we may be slow to notice. The stench of gossip, rudeness, and self-righteousness flow from places that the washing of the water by the Word normally cleanses. We never intend it to happen; each day of neglect often has a promise to get right tomorrow attached to it. Before we know it, we are way farther away from godliness than we realize. That kind of distance happens by choice even if unintended.

Choose each day to renew your mind with the Word of God. Everyday will not be one where a truth leaps off the page, but it is still doing you a world of good, My Friend. The watching world, your family and friends, and your spiritual health depend on it.

Where Is the Love?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5

I recently spoke with someone who admitted she was living in a situation that was not what God desires. Further discussion revealed that lack of opportunity to make this right was not the core reason she had yet to make the necessary changes. She reasoned out loud that everything else in her life surrounding this situation was in place except this one area. Upon hearing an admonition of the risks her lifestyle posed, she replied that those who already made the change were vulnerable to the same risks as she is now, which was true to a degree.

This set me thinking about what more I might have said in my appeal to her. Why should she do the right thing if there were no apparent consequences? There are always consequences, of course, but so far she had suffered none that she could see. I asked myself what was the strongest reason for doing the right thing anyway. The answer is …love.

Love for the Lord because of all He has done makes all the difference. Love because He first loved us. Love because we care whether He is pleased or not. Love looks beyond the fact that we will be forgiven anyway. It cares about the broken fellowship that hangs between the act and the restoration. If there is no intimacy in our relationship with God, sin becomes less and less of a big deal to us. The nerve endings of sin-sensitivity grow numb and we are the poorer for it. Love for God will often make us do what His rules will not.

Where is the love, My Friend?

If you have lost it or if it has dimmed, how do you get it back? It happens by renewal of the mind, filling it with remembrance of His love for you, and getting back to anything you used to do that cultivated growth and intimacy with Him. Therein is the love-through repentance, renewal, and real relationship.

Speak the Truth

“Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” Ephesians 4:25 (NLT)

My Friends, do not be afraid to speak the truth. What good does it do to know the truth if we are too afraid to tell it? So many try to travel on opposite sides at the same time by saying things like, “Well, God says we are to do this and such, but you do what is best for you.” Truth alert: Whatever God says to do IS what is best! When we become so timid about telling people what the Lord said plus nothing, we are practically endorsing the very thing He opposes! We are called to be salt and light. Salt enhances the flavor of things and light pushes out the darkness. Does that sound like the affect YOU are having on your watch?

Speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, but speak it! Let us divorce our desire to be well-liked and instead marry the determination to be loyal to the Lord and His Word no matter what.

Today I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart and de-bug it of people pleasing, fear of rejection, and loyalty to our own reputation at the expense of truth. Ask Him for courage when the temptation to be silent at the wrong time is strong. Ask Him to help you be bold enough to speak the truth.

Let’s Serve!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1Peter 4:10

The church cannot afford to have anybody sitting on their hands doing nothing but coming to church. The need is too great! There are too many hurting people for just a few to accomplish God’s plan to encourage, serve, teach, edify, listen to, sponsor, pray for, win back, advise, feed, counsel, mentor, evangelize, disciple, visit, coach, text, hug, educate, and everything in between.

I have observed three main reasons for the ministry manpower issue. The first is insecurity: people think they do not know enough or have enough experience to help. This would be a valid excuse if we did not serve a God Who empowers us and promises we can do all things through His strength. (Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7) It is time to call insecurity the liar it is and step out to see how true God’s promises are (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The second reason the unemployment line in the church is so long is a matter of priority. “I would love to help, but I do not have the time,” we say. Everyone gets the same daily allotment of time. Few of us have all twenty-four hours booked with obligations every single day. Rest and recreation are important, but most of us have an excess of “me time.” We have become so accustomed to having it that the idea of shaving a couple of hours off to serve someone else seems like major surgery. Once we step out and see the way God is using us to make a difference, we have joy as we realize we do not miss the time as much as we thought we would.

Third, we think serving is an option. As followers of Christ whom God infused with at least one spiritual gift each, how can we fall for the options lie? We are not our own, we were bought with a price; therefore we all have an assignment. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). No exceptions or excuses. What that looks like will be unique to each of us, but serve we must. Besides, our coming to Christ was the result of someone’s decision to be obedient to serve. It is time to pay it forward.

Now, what is God calling YOU to do about the mountain of needs we face in this world, My Friend? Let’s get out there and serve!