Counting Sheep

She stood just outside the make believe perimeter. A part of, yet not. She longed for their companionship, their understanding, their love and their acceptance. She doesn’t remember, really, how she came to be where she currently found herself—on the outside.

She had known this group for years. Her children grew up with their children. They had shared graduations, children getting married, the birth of grandchildren along with close calls and the grief of losing loved ones.

These were her people, her community, her tribe. Yet somehow she felt so disconnected from them. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? Was anyone praying for her? Would anyone reach out to her?

In this moment she felt like the one lost sheep that unknowingly wandered away from the flock and couldn’t find her way home. She needed help, yearned for it, for someone in her tribe to help her find her way back into the fold.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is addressing the lost sheep as a sinner that is found and saved. But what about those within the Body of Christ? The ones that aren’t lost physically or spiritually rather emotionally. The ones that once were included but now feel disconnected not sure why nor how to reconnect.

Surely Jesus wants us to go after those within our believing communities that have lost their way, to ‘find’ them and carry them back to the fold.

Jesus wants us to be inclusive not exclusive.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20.

Who is Jesus asking you to include in your circle of friends/influence? More importantly, what will you do?

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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Late Night Text

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Late night phone calls, text messages or knocks on the door are not something many of us want to receive, especially as a parent. Last night one of my best friends sent me a late night text and she simply stated, “miss you. love you. praying.” My first thought was, “Why is she up so late praying?” But instinctively I knew why. I started praying also and within minutes God answered our prayers. (He has always been faithful to answer this particular prayer).

This is how the Body of Christ is meant to operate. That we are so attuned to HIS voice and desire nothing more than to be obedient to His call.

It is our responsibility to take care of God’s House first, so when can experience healing, deliverance, and grow in the knowledge of the power that lives within us. To grasp onto this overwhelming truth that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in each believer, who has called on the Name of the Lord Jesus, as their Lord and Savior.

Precious Ones, please, I can’t encourage you often enough, stay connected to Jesus through practicing spiritual disciplines of reading and studying his word, prayer, praise and worship. Yes, we are no longer under the laws of the Old Testament, and, yes, we are covered by the love and grace of the New Testament, but that doesn’t mean we, “throw the baby out with the bath water.” How are we to disciple one another, let alone a lost and hurting world, if we’re not connected daily and consistently to The Vine? This is not to make you feel badly about what your time with God currently looks like, rather, encouragement to ask God how he wants your time with him to look. I can guarantee you it will include being in His word.

Your soul craves His word.

Precious One, feed your soul.

Shalom!

 

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Meet The Spice Girls

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These five women are some of my closest friends. We have know each other for many years but it was through a life group, three years ago, that God brought us together and began to weave the fabric of our lives into one another like golden thread that sparkles as the light hits it just right.

One of us became a widow much sooner than ought to happen, one of us lost an infant grandchild moments after birth, one of us is an empty nester and still processing and exploring what that looks like, one of us has a husband that is a few years sober, one of us has a child that suffers from depression and bouts of mania and one of us has stage four cancer.

For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. Jeremiah 13:11a,b.

Just as God bound Israel and Judah to Him, he bound the six of us together and we fell into a normal pattern of doing life together; sharing our joys and carrying each others burdens. These are women who choose to  pour deeply into my life and hold me accountable. Women who send Bitmoji’s to our group message simply to say, “Good morning, or “I love you”, or “I’m thinking of you.”

One of us, the decision maker of the group, named our group the Spice Girls; we can be sassy and spicy but always lead one another back to the Lord.

I knew, eventually, the day would come that I would write this blog post, to share with you as best as possible the depth of this collective friendship, which is really one friendship bound and woven together through Christ and in Christ. You see, five of us are now learning how to alternately be the decision maker of the Spice Girls.

After a long and well fought battle, our sweet friend, Joanna, went home to be with her beloved Jesus. To say that she will be missed, well, that is an understatement.

She left us the sweetest parting gift. Her children. We have the opportunity to pour into them and see the light of her legacy; her unconditional love for all people live on through them.

Until we meet again, my sweet, sassy, spicy Friend.

#spicegirls4eva

Shalom.