Heavenly Appearance

I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She has the figure that has been impossibly unattainable since the day she arrived on the shelves of toy stores. What was most likely meant to bring little girls hours of make believe fun has become the subject of poor taste and irresponsibility to generations of young girls and women striving to look like her. And it doesn’t end there. In the late 70’s early 80’s a plastic bust was made of this doll with hair that could be styled and makeup to be applied teaching little girls how to eventually do this for themselves. Nothing wrong there.

I experimented with makeup my later years in high school and I have absolutely nothing against wearing makeup. Wearing makeup makes many women feel special. I’m so practical in my ways that applying makeup is more a chore than satisfying. Our two daughters went through the teenage phase of heavy makeup [my husband would always tell them, “don’t ruin the Rembrandt!”] to their beautiful natural look with the occasional application.

Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, an Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations.

Daniel 1:11-13a

Some theorize that Daniel and his friends chose not to eat the meat from Nebuchadnezzar’s table because of the possibility that it had been offered before idols. Others believe that their decision had nothing to do with vegetarianism. Still others theorize that because Daniel and his friends were held against their will they took the opportunity to exercise the few choices they had and preserve their distinct identity. They chose to stand apart from all the other people around them by choosing to eat food that would cause their appearance to look healthier.

There is something deeper in this story. The spiritual appearance of Daniel and his friends. In addition to requesting a veggie only diet to improve their appearance they had a relationship with God. One in which they honored and revered Him resulting in an outward appearance that couldn’t be matched regardless of dietary habits.

Precious Friend. Jesus loves you and when you allow Him to settle in your heart something happens. The power of Holy Spirit begins to transform you from the inside out and your appearance takes on one of heavenly dimensions. Your appearance shines with the joy of Jesus in your heart. No coverup is needed because He infuses you with His confidence and boldness.

Don’t ruin the Rembrandt.

Hurricane Dorian and an Atheists Call to Prayer

Do you pray? Do you believe in the power of prayer? These aren’t judgements whether you do or not, they are simply questions.

Recently we have been having passionate conversation in our home about the effectiveness of prayer [if you’ve been following Hurricane Dorian you may know that a group of believers in Jacksonville, FL gathered together on the beach and began to pray against H. Dorian]. The question has been posed that if God is all knowing and knows the outcome of where Dorian will hit, if it does, is it ineffective to still ask Him in prayer to stop the hurricane. My short answer is, no, prayer to God is never ineffective especially because we don’t know the reasons, aside from the obvious, why God has called us to pray about certain things.

After being informed that a group of Christians got together to rebuke Hurricane Dorian and based on the question that was asked, which is relevant, I dug a bit deeper and came across an article written by The Happy Atheist. You can read Mr. Mehta’s article here. I left the following comment on his article:

Thank you for your article. What you may not realize is that you just put out a call to prayer for everyone who reads and shares your article and believes in prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Thank you for content for my blog today. I will definitely be encouraging my readers to pray and share your article as a tool to encourage others to pray.

Only God knows the reason[s] He led this group of believers to pray. However, through their obedience to show up as a group on the beach and rebuke this hurricane in the Name of Jesus, The Happy Atheist constructed his article. Is it irony that God used someone who proclaims atheism to write an article that I believe will bring attention to believers around the world and unite us in prayer? Perhaps. Maybe this is two-fold, believers uniting in prayer and praying for the salvation of The Happy Atheist.

Dear friends I encourage you to not only read Mr. Mehta’s article and pray but to share, share, share (with grace of course) and encourage your readers to pray and share as well. Or, you can simply repost my article to your website. Either way let’s come together as the Body and use our gifts for the glory of His kingdom and the saving of many lives.

In Heavenly Places

Only God could have taken a dream He placed into my momma heart so many years ago and spoken it into existence by the very one the dream is for.

Have you heard We Are Messengers? This song is not new but I discovered it not long ago. Yesterday was one of those particularly hard days. Not only was I emotionally spent it was a busy day requiring my focused attention. A day where I knew my adrenals were not stress free nor happy. To top it off, my phone was about to ring its last [at least it made it past the proverbial two year mark] and this had me inserting a trip to the phone store of life. Thankfully Holy Spirit kept me from falling down the rabbit hole of self-pity.

Even as I sat on the edge of that rabbit hole, asking God many ‘why’ questions He still chose to be gracious and kind to me as He always is.

Toward the end of the day my son called to check in on me. We talked for and hour and a half. And like many of our conversations my son asks deep theological questions. Questions I have yet to answer for myself. My son is at a crossroads in many areas in his life. We talked about God placing a passion for good work inside us and when that passion comes alive it comes alive! At the end of our conversation my son said something that I told him I would not have expected to hear in a million years. He said, and I paraphrase, “Sometimes I think about throwing in the towel and becoming a Youth Pastor [he also stated no disrespect to YP’s] I think about Ed and Rhonda [the retired Children’s Pastors at our former church] and how they got to teach kids about the Bible. ” I responded, “Did you just say you think about becoming a Youth Pastor?”, and immediately started laughing. Stick with me. I said, “You don’t understand.” To which he responded, “I don’t like the sound of this.” I then went on to tell him that since he was a little guy I always felt he would become a Youth Pastor. And then there was the time after church one Sunday years ago when he ran across the church lawn with his ‘sword’ in hand and his ‘cape’ around his shoulders shouting, “Leviticus Charge!” I told him that Leviticus means, “he the Lord called.”

This morning as I sat down to spend time with God, brushing off the dust of yesterday, I decided to listen to “Everything Comes Alive” and was immediately filled with hope. This song reminds me of God’s goodness. We say God is a good, good Father. Why? Because in His grace, mercy and compassion He gives us gifts that fill us with hope and joy and perseverance even though He doesn’t ever have too. Only God could have taken a dream He placed into my momma heart so many years ago and spoken it into existence by the very one the dream is for.

How has God been good to you? I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Don’t Wait!

Over the years she had lovingly spent time writing her memoir. She wanted to tell her story of survival so others could know and experience the hope she had in Jesus. She was close to finishing [I had been praying for God’s miraculous healing on earth to be the final chapter she would write before being published] when my sweet friend went home to be with Jesus after a short illness.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:14.

The last time I saw my friend was when I went to walk her two beloved Goldens that were feeling a bit stir crazy because their momma hadn’t been able to take them to the park. I sat and talked with my friend for a few minutes and at the time she didn’t know the full extent of what was going on with her health except that her body was railing against her. My friend had the gift of prophecy which she knew and embraced. She also had the gift of evangelism and I’m not sure she realized that. She had no filter when it came to telling others about Jesus and why they ought to put their faith and trust in Him!

As I read Matthew 6:14 I thought about my friend which led me to think about how truly short life on earth is [none of us know when God will call us home]. I wondered, did my friend have any regrets? Were there people she had always meant to forgive or say sorry to and thought, ‘Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow?’ I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know there is no time like the present.

God has given us the beautiful gifts of confession, repentance and forgiveness. Jesus is faithful to show us the sin and unforgiveness in our life and Holy Spirit is always ready to help us confess, repent and forgive.

If there are others you need to forgive or if you need to say sorry or if you need to confess and repent—don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.

Even in death on earth my friend leaves a ‘no filter’ unashamed legacy of loving and following Jesus.

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Leap of Faith

“Dad,” I said, “I want to go to Teller School. I want to learn how to become a bank teller. This school teaches all the basics of becoming a bank teller and they even help with finding a job! The only thing stopping me is the cost and I don’t have the amount needed.”

My parents were depression aged kids, they grew up in an era in our country where a large percentage of people lost their jobs overnight, businesses closed and money was tight. When my grandparents immigrated to America from Italy they landed in Rhode Island and bought a farm that included the upper end of a lake. My dad and uncles worked hard on their farm and had a milk delivery business. My dad use to tell us stories of how he was still delivering milk by cart and buggy, sharing the road with new fangled automobiles, during the early part of the twentieth century. His savings account was cash ‘hidden’ in between the mattress. For the longest time he didn’t trust banks, likely a carry over mentality from the Great Depression. Asking to borrow money took a huge leap of faith on my part!

I’d like to say that because I was the youngest of five and the only girl, his sweetie and thought I had him wrapped around my pinkie was persuasion enough for him to say yes.

I’d like to say that because I was the youngest of five and the only girl, his sweetie and thought I had him wrapped around my pinkie, was persuasion enough for him to say yes. Okay, that may have been part of the reason but as I reflect back I believe my dad saw the value in investing in what would turn into a career of three different jobs within the industry of finance using the skills I learned at the Institute for Teller Training. And, I paid every penny back!

Leap of faith. We hear others say, “I took a leap of faith and applied for that job, asked that person out for coffee,” or whatever else requires a leap of faith. I can’t recall ever hearing someone say, “I took a leap of faith and believed in Jesus!” But Jesus is exactly where faith comes from. It is His gift to us. As we continue to surrender ourselves to him He continually renews and grows our faith so we can know what He prefers. Faith is God’s divine persuasion which guides us to make choices that help us live inside His perfect will for our life.

May God’s divine persuasion grow exponentially within you as you continue to stay connected to Him and you begin to live the abundant life in all areas that Christ came to give you.

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Words of Blessing and Wholeness

“Hey!,” was the text I sent to my best friend recently. She responded, “Hey, how are you? Do you have a few minutes to chat?” And this started an actual verbal conversation about life and catching up with each other.

Since my best friend and I are, well, best friends, we use a casual form of greeting one another. But, how would you feel if you knew that the way others greet you or you them carried more than simply the words of the greeting?

Paul was in the habit of greeting others with, “The grace of the Lord be with you, or the grace and peace of God be with you.” Whenever I read Paul’s greeting there is a certain amount of joy found in his words. I often wonder did all ancient Israelites greet one another this way? Was it a cultural thing at the time? Or, was this something Paul and a few others practiced?

Paul spoke the truth of God’s word and actually delivered the gift of a blessing through his greeting. The Greek word for grace is Charis and it is God’s favor and kindness brought to us through Jesus. It is God extending Himself and bestowing a blessing on His creation by the nearness of His presence.

Peace is God’s gift of wholeness when all essential parts are joined together. This reminds me of our wholeness in mind, body and spirit joined together in harmony with Holy Spirit as we continue to seek Him, read Him, learn about and from Him.

Could it be God’s gift of wholeness through His peace contains healing? That these two words that are not oft spoken in greeting in our current culture could be the beginning of healing?

What would our world, our spheres of influence, our communities look like if we chose to greet others in peace and grace? Would colors seem a bit brighter? Would traffic seem a bit lighter? Would our days seem a bit less laden because we speak the truth of God’s favor, kindness, blessing and wholeness to each other.

Today I say to you grace and peace in the name of Jesus. May you experience His wholeness in all that you are and all that you do. May the blessing of the nearness of His presence cause you to want to be even closer to Him.

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Live Deeply

How do you live deeply? what are those moments that you take to refresh your soul?

Is nature where you feel most connected to God or perhaps a walk along a sandy beach at sunset looking in wonder at the deep and spectacular colors in the sky and praising God?

What are your passions? Where are the places you go and the things you do where you allow God to capture your heart and you know deep within you, you are in communion with Him?

Posing many questions today. I believe reflection is an integral part of our relationship with Him.

Whatever you choose to do today I pray you choose to live deeply with Jesus in that moment and in His presence.

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Builder of the Family Name

I often marvel at the grace and humbleness of royal families that are in the news frequently. They always seem to have a smile on their face and always seem to be kind to the press and paparazzi even as our culture has an odd sense of curiosity about them. They always seem mindful of their behavior upholding the family name.

Johoiakim was king of Judah during a period of time when Nebuchadezzar, king of Babylon took Judah captive. Nebuchadezzar ordered his chief of court to gather Israelite men from the royal family and place them in Nebuchadezzar’s service.

These royal men were builders of their family name. Through them the continuance of the Nation of Israel would be born.

Likewise, every believer in Jesus, the moment they believe, becomes a part of this ancient royal family. We may not wear crowns, and robes, and jewels of old and we may not be followed incessantly by the press and photographers. But we are royalty. We are sons and daughters of the Most High King. We are princes and princesses in the kingdom of God.

We have a royal duty and responsibility to not only build our heavenly family name but to bear our family name with integrity. To be honest, kind, gracious and humble. To practice forgiveness and learn how to hold one another accountable for Christlike behavior. Please don’t misinterpret. Accountability does not mean we are better than each other. Accountability is loving one another in Jesus and learning His characteristics together.

Accountability requires discipleship which is critical to a believer’s life. When we are open to be discipled and to disciple we grow together in our faith. We enter into community with one another and allow ourselves to ask our core circle of friends to hold us accountable.

I am blessed by a group of women who hold me accountable. They have no problem speaking truth, sometimes hard truth into my life. I welcome their voice in my life. They help keep me from tumbling down the rabbit hole of spiritual darkness.

Accountability partners. Don’t leave home without them.

Today’s reading is Daniel 1:3-4. Ask God for His revelation and journal any words, impressions or thoughts. Meditate and pray on these.

Shalom!

Sold Out

Are you sold out for Jesus? What does that even mean and what does that look like?

I have heard the expression ‘sold out for Jesus’ often in my faith journey with Him and I’ve often wondered where the term came from. This verse could quite possibly be the origin.

To be a disciple of Jesus includes persecution and promise and suffering and blessing.

Are you willing to leave your family, your home, your job and your lifestyle for Jesus and the gospel? Am I? If you and I are willing Jesus promises we will not fail to receive a hundredfold in return in this present age. But it shouldn’t be the promise that causes us to be sold out. It should be Jesus and only Jesus.

And still I wonder, why isn’t this being taught?

#knowgodknowhisword

#knowhiswordknowgod

#discipleship

#belikejesus

Forgiveness

I dreamed our phone was ringing but each time I answered it continued to ring until I realized it wasn’t a dream. I would soon wish that it were.

The call was about the passing of a loved and cherished family member and completely unexpected.

In the days and weeks that followed I struggled to understand why. And while I didn’t understand why this happened to our family I knew deep within me I needed to extend forgiveness to the one responsible.

As I read this passage this verse is nestled in Holy Spirit reminded me of this life event so many years ago.

Forgiveness can often be a hard act of kindness to offer toward the person(s) who have hurt or betrayed us.

But not forgiving has many spiritual and physical ramifications.

I think about Jesus who died a horrific death because of my sins and yet He still forgives me.

If you are having a hard time forgiving someone please take a first step and ask Holy Spirit to help you. You’re not betraying yourself by letting go and asking for help. It’s quite the opposite. He’ll set you free.

#discipleship #befree