Delayed Gifts

Excitement was in the air.  A new Christmas “schedule” was in place this year for the Grubbies – as Kevin is a staff member at church and would be at Gateway all day on Christmas Eve.  The kiddos and I attended the later services and afterward we. were. hungry!  I had prepared a few Christmas Eve snacks and we picked up some boneless wings on the way home to round out our Christmas Dinner. Doesn’t everyone eat wings for Christmas dinner?? 🙂

After dinner we got into “gift mode.”  Starting with stockings we each opened our decorative “sock” filled with goodies, gift cards, and other fun stuff… Then, it was PRESENT time.  I mean, who doesn’t love presents???  Julia opened her gift and although she knew what it was, she was thrilled and started digging in to the box so she could start using it.  Joey, who didn’t know what he was getting, opened his gift and squealed with gratitude, thankful to receive what he asked for.  Then, it was Emma’s turn.  There was a wrapped box and it was rather light.  She hurriedly opened it only to find there was not a gift inside.  There was a paper with a picture, drawn by her no-so-artist-mama, of her gift.  It hadn’t arrived yet – so all she had to hold onto was this paper.

IMG_6072

Her delayed gift arrived yesterday and it was even more wonderful than the amateur artist drawing foreshadowed ;). Emma was gracious throughout the delay, waiting in “faith” of the gift that was promised.

And it made me think.  We have the hope of a delayed gift.  We have the written promise(s) in the Bible.  Of course we know it’s not just a paper (or booklet of papers), it is the Word of Life and we have the Holy Spirit with us as we journey through this lifetime – but it is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Psalm 16:11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Titus 2:13We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” 

Romans 8:23And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” 

This paper, this book, holds the HOPE of the PROMISE. The promise of an eternity in heaven, with Jesus, in paradise. Even though the Word of God is beautiful and full and WONDERFUL – it will seem an amateur drawing compared to the GIFT that awaits those of us who have trusted in Him.  Christmas excitement doesn’t hold a candle my anticipation and excitement of the hope of heaven. Glorious Day!

Advertisements

That Wasn’t In The Plan

That wasn’t in the plan. She had her eye on Joseph for a while, and well, he had his eye on her. Next thing they knew, things were coming together for the BIG DAY. The engagement was progressing right along and anticipation was building. Soon they would be husband and wife. I mean, it was almost as if they were married already, except for, well, you know. Engagement was a pretty big deal back then. Then the angel showed up. What the wha? That was freaky. And unexpected. And a little inconvenient. It could mess everything up. What would Joseph think?

That wasn’t in the plan. Things have finally settled down after the pregnancy scandal. Joseph was a rock for her – after the angel cleared things up for him. Ha! The “big day” took a back burner and baby-prep was in full swing. She was having a baby. Not just any baby, God’s Son. Jesus. Savior of the world. That was a lot to take in. But God’s Spirit gave her peace. And THEN they got the call. They had to go to Bethlehem! What the wha? Um, this wasn’t exactly very good timing!! Didn’t they know she was about to pop any day?!?

That wasn’t in the plan. Rolling with the punches, they finally made it to Bethlehem when she felt something. No. Certainly not what she thought it was. Yup, there was another one. Um, Joseph, “It’s time.” What the wha? The place was a madhouse, like New York City on New Year’s Eve! You couldn’t even book a room through Priceline if you wanted to. In desperation, Joseph relentlessly asked around for a place to stay. A place for his wife to rest… er, uh, give birth.

That wasn’t in the plan. Jesus was born. Such a sweet, perfect baby boy. They had lots of visitors. It all felt a little surreal. Time passed and word on the street, (or in dreams…) was it was time to hightail it outta there. Jesus was in danger. What the wha? Wasn’t He the King? Savior of the world? So off they went. To Egypt of all places. And finally back to Nazareth. What a ride!

Individually each circumstance seemed like it was throwing things off course, messing things up… that it wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Before He was ever born… This was all part of the plan.

*He was supposed to be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

*He was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:1-2

*He was supposed to go to Egypt. Hosea 11:1

*He was supposed to be a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1

Have you ever thought, “This wasn’t in the plan!”? Things were progressing along and then you got the call. Lost your job. A relationship went sour. Lost a child. An illness. An accident. Relocation. Major financial disruption. Fill in the blank. What the wha? It just doesn’t seem right. The Grubbies certainly thought that before… This wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Could what seems like bumps in the road, two steps back, hard blows actually be a part of a greater plan? Mary certainly didn’t anticipate the twists and turns her life took, but it was a part of the great plan. The redemptive plan. For His glory.  While it seems wrong at the time, so often you can look back and see, OH YEAH! God was up to something there!

When God says “all things work together for the good of those who love God,” (Rom. 8:28) we can trust that He has a plan. Just like Mary’s life was a part of the great redemptive plan since the beginning of the world. God has a plan and a purpose for where you are, your circumstances and life’s twists and turns. Trust. Have hope. Believe.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment — to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him. We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 HCSB)

Jesus is Not an App

There’s an app for that. I just love how in the span of 90 seconds you can read the headlines for top news stories, check the weather in 2-3 locations for 5-10 days, glance at your to-do list or even your calendar and browse over a couple of emails. Ahhhhh, technology is our friend.   Well, it’s my friend anyways. 😉

On my iDevice there are also apps for music, videos, games, social media, pictures, travel, recipes, sports, reading and yes, for the Bible (or other devotionals). You open the app, do your thang, and when you’re done (if you’re anal about closing apps like Emma and I are) you double click and swipe and it’s on to the next thing.

Speaking of devotionals, our family loves Jesus Calling. It was a book before it was an app, but we loved it so much we bought the app and have it on our iDevices.   So to start our day we may open the app, read the day’s devotional, then double-click/swipe to close it and on about our day. Or perhaps it’s a YouVersion devotional. Open up the Bible app. Read the day’s selection. Maybe even tweet a verse. Double click, swipe. Next.

And that’s ok for a quick pick-me-up, a little snack of God’s word throughout the day. But ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is not an app. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a device or an actual (paper) Bible, God’s word is not meant to be rushed. It’s not just something to check off our to-do list for the day or just to be used to fill in the blanks of a Bible study book. It’s to spend time with Him. Be still before Him. To get to know Him. Focus. It’s a time to let His words comfort; let the truth of His Word convict us, challenge us, change us. Because it won’t if it’s just an app.

I was so blessed and challenged by Micha Boyett’s blog post on Margaret Feinberg’s blog Tuesday on prayer. In an attempt to reconnect with God, she retreated to a monastery because “the Benedictines believe God has actually given us enough time in each day for work and study and rest and prayer”. God has given us enough time.

I don’t know about you, but my to-do list bangs loudly on the doors of my head. It’s almost impossible to turn it off.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 The HCSB says, “Stop your fighting… and know that I am God.” Remember what Jesus said about Mary and Martha? He said Mary got it right.  Chill out. Take a seat.  Let’s hang.

We’re all in a hurry. We’re all busy. Technology is awesome in a lot of ways, but it has trained us that we can get things now, get things quickly and move on without batting an eye. Next. It has increased distractions and lessened our ability to focus (at least for me).

So whether you spend time with Jesus via a screen or a page, slow down. Breathe. Pray. Listen. Hear. Because Jesus is not an app.

I close with May 30th’s Jesus Calling. Find a cubby of space and time, spend it with Jesus. And let that time transform the rest of your day(s).IMG_9825

When You Can’t Hear His Voice

If you’re a believer, you’ve probably had times where you hear a slight whisper in your spirit and you know that was God. Or every message you hear, every song on the radio, every circumstance in your life and/or every time you open your Bible God is SHOUTING something to you or pointing you to something. Or maybe you’re worshiping Him (privately or in Church) and you just feel His comfort. His presence. His peace.

But what happens when you don’t? When His presence seems a million miles away. When you’re desperate for answers but you don’t hear His voice. His whisper.

First of all, know that you. are. not. alone. Yes, God is always with you, but that is not what I’m talking about. You are not alone in feeling this way.

I have felt this way. Other Christians I know have felt this way at one time or another. David felt this way (recorded many times throughout scripture). Yes, King David. Check out his plea in Psalm 13:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?

How long will you look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,

With sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”

Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.

I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

~ David

There are many reasons we may not be hearing from God.  It could be because of sin in our lives, a busy schedule and no time to be still, chaotic circumstances or times of crisis. But sometimes, there’s no particular reason. So what do you do when you can’t hear Him?

Trust His Word: Even if we don’t hear God’s whispers or clear SHOUTS in our lives, we can trust His Word. It is His unfailing, continual and everlasting message. It is the MAIN way that He speaks regardless if we can feel Him or not.  His word is TRUTH. He is faithful and trustworthy so His word is faithful and trustworthy. Make a list of some promises of God you know off the top of your head. Memorize (keep 3×5 cards of) scripture with the TRUTH of God’s Word for this season of your life. This IS Him speaking to you. The word of the Lord holds true. Psalm 33:4

Pray His Word: The same truths from scripture that you are trusting, pray them. Put them in 1st person and cry out to God with His word. Write them. Speak them. Pray them.

Praise Him Anyway: The last line in Psalm 13 is David declaring He will continue to sing to the Lord because He is good. Praise Him. Praising God takes the focus off of us (our problems, our lack of hearing from him, our whatever) and puts it on Him ~ His love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His greatness.

When you can’t hear His voice, Trust His word, Pray His word and Praise Him anyway.

10 Scriptures that will STRENGTHEN your Marriage.

Tomorrow is my and Kevin’s 20th wedding anniversary (cue FiReWoRkS). In preparation for that here’s one more Marriage Post. I actually meant for there to be a few more of these (marriage posts) before tomorrow, but life happens. In case you missed it, here is the post from my parent’s 50th anniversary and a little ditty about being and being married to a “fixer upper” :).   Today we’re going to share 10 verses that will strengthen your marriage. Here we goooooooooo.

strengthenmarriage10. Husbands, love your wivesEph. 5 Oh, come on. You knew it was coming :). But seriously, though. Why do you think this is spelled out in God’s Word? Because it’s not something that comes naturally. It’s something you have to focus on, be intentional with. Guys, we need to know you love us. Aside from God, you are our protector, the love our lives. We need you to show us. Kevin has worked at this over the past 20 years. He is intentional about showing love to me through his love language (acts of service) and mine (quality time). Paul instructs you to love her as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. He goes on to say to wash her in the word. Guys, we ladies are hungry for you to love us and lead us.

9. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Fair play, I suppose :). As a young, independent, strong woman when we got married, this was not something I was thrilled about. However, after the Holy Spirit began showing me what this means and I saw this lived out in godly, older women, I began to understand WHY God laid this out for us ladies. It doesn’t mean you are a doormat, but the final decision (after discussions in which you both have input) rest with our guys. And with that decision lies that responsibility. The hubs is responsible for us as the leader and is responsible for us (and our kiddos if applicable). Ladies crave and need love; guys crave and need respect.   Respect your hubs as the leader of your home. God planned it this way because He knows best. Trust God and pray for Him to lead your hubs as he leads you, and submit to that leadership.

8. Pray constantly. 1 Thes 5:17 I mean seriously. Marriage is HARD. The odds are against us, people. Pray. Pray and pray and then pray some more. Satan wants nothing more than to destroy families and marriages, but WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERES, more than victorious through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:37) Pray for your own heart. Pray for your spouse’s heart. Pray for unity, for LOVE, for strength.

7. Do everything without grumbling and arguing/complaining. Phil. 2:14 I never said we had it all together ;). Ouch. But one of the main things we can do is not only not grumble/argue/complain to them, but also don’t grumble/argue/complain about them. Don’t talk bad about your spouse, friends. Especially in public. Talk candidly with a trusted friend in confidence, or discuss an issue with a pastor/leader etc. when necessary, but never in public. And for the love… not on social media.

6. On the contrary (to number 7), outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10. If you have to do something publicly, honor your spouse. (Of course, don’t honor them publicly if you’re not honoring them privately… just sayin’.) Honor them. If you have something nice to say, say it. For example: “You’re the bomb!” “No, YOU’RE the BOMB!” “No, really! YOU ARE THEEEEE BBBOOOMMMMBBBB!!!” 🙂 You get the point. Honor your spouse in your words, your actions and your with your life.

5. Do all that you can to live in peace. Rom. 12:18 Whatever you can do on your part to promote peace, do it. It may take biting your tongue or a bit of compromising, but it will be worth it. Did I mention before that MARRIAGE IS HARD? It is. We are cantankerous little human beings, aren’t we? Ask for the Holy Spirit to help in keeping the peace. He will.

4. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8 The line right before that is show deep love for each other. What if you’re not feeling it? I’ve been there.  Pray for God to help you to love; love deeply and love consistently. The Trolls in Frozen have it right when they say, “Throw a little love their way… and you’ll bring out their best!”

3. And a close theme with #4, forgive a lot. Something about 70x7ish. Matt. 18:22 Love and forgive. Show mercy. Again, not an easy thing.   We are told to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Nobody’s perfect (duh!). I know I want to be forgiven when I’m a schmuck, so I must also forgive.

2. Love (your spouse) as yourself. Mark 12 I love the YMCA Camp Storer phase, “I’m Third.” God first. Others second. I’m third. If we would truly live this way, we would see revivals in marriages all across America. All across the WORLD! Put his/ her interests, preferences, desires before your own. Again, this is NOT natural. It’s just not. But look out for your spouse. That is counter-cultural since the world tells us to look out for #1 (AKA yourself).

1. And finally, the number one thing you can do to strengthen your marriage is keep God first, personally and as a couple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12 Love God. Seek Him and your relationship with Him. The best thing you can do to have a better marriage is to have a relationship with Jesus. You can’t spend time with Christ and not become more like Him. More loving. More patient. More considerate. More peaceful. More kind. I cannot imagine what a wreck I would be individually and as a wife without Jesus – cuz Jesus already has His work cut out for him with me :).

I don’t do any of these near enough. I sure hope we get another 20/40/60 years together to get some of these better than we do today. God’s grace is amazing. Hope you are challenged by these verses as we have been. Feel free to share scripture below that would also help to strengthen marriages. Be blessed!

LOVE

You’ve heard it read at weddings.  You gloss over it when reading in the New Testament because of its blaring familiarity.  The LOOOOOVVVEEEE chapter.  In fact, you may stop reading now, because you know it.   1 Cor. 13.love

All that aside, let’s take a fresh look at these verses.  Forget about romantic love.  Forget (for the time being) about marital love.  Forget about parental love or amicable love.   Read these verses, look deep inside yourself and examine your own heart, and I will mine.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you fall on the “love-ometer.”  I fall short.  Too short.  So I pray as I study these verses that they will touch me anew.  And help me LOVE well.  And I’m praying for you as you read this. I’d love to hear what sticks out to you as you read this with expectancy.

If I speak human or angelic languages

but do not have love,

I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy

and understand all mysteries

and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith

so that I can move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,

and if I give my body in order to boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends..

Now these three remain:

faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor. 13:1-8a, 13

Feel free to share your thoughts as you read this in the comments section.  What sticks out to you?   ❤ K

 

The Voice

I LOVE The Voice.  It’s a great show.  I’ve enjoyed AI in the past, but this year’s Voice has some seriously amazing talent.  Loving it!

However, that is not what I am writing about… See, there’s a couple of voices out there vying for our attention. One voice is the one we all know.  The one who whispers fear. Doubt.  Worry. Stirs up conflict. Anxiety. Tells LIES – because he is the AUTHOR of lies.  He’s a promise stealer – a joy squelcher – a grace killer.  

One thing I LOVE about studying the book of Revelation is reading about HOW IT ALL ENDS! All the enemy’s lies and destruction will END…

The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come… because the accuser of our brothers HAS. BEEN. THROWN. OUT! Rev.12:10

Don’t ya just wanna yell, “SUCKAHHHHHHHHH!!!”?

No more lies.  No more darts of insecurity, worthlessness, spite, fear, hatred. No MORE.

When we closed LP, the devil would’ve liked nothing more than to wipe us off the face of ministry.  Immobilize us. DEFEAT us. Discourage us. Have us turn our back on our faith even. But, the first week after we closed the church, God spoke over and over and over again, “I AM NOT FINISHED WITH YOU YET!” In fact, we wanted to take a break from ministry, like a looooooooonnnnggg break. And those first few weeks, ministry was the last thing on our mind.

But, God. The Voice. God, our sweet loving Father.  He speaks TRUTH into us from His word and from His people.  He brings counsel. Hope. Restoration. GRACE. Promise. Joy. LOVE. He is GRACIOUS (another post coming).  He even spoke to Kevin through a movie he watched (raise your hand if you’d like Kevin to blog about that!! *hand raised!!).  He whispers life, forgiveness, hope, purpose.  And throughout this ministry break, He is drawing us to Himself – not further away like the dingbat devil would like.

When the enemy is accusing, remind him his time is short – and turn to the Word.  Find TRUTH to replace the lies.  Find HOPE to wash away hopelessness.  Find GRACE to suffocate guilt. And here’s the deal… God’s Word, The Voice, always trumps the lame duck voice of the enemy.  Now, and FOR ETERNITY.