Playing The Procrastination Game

Are you a leader, a follower … or both?

When God opens a door for you to go through, do you immediately say, “OK, Lord,” or do you hang back in the shadows, waiting and watching others before you jump in yourself to test the waters?

I want to bring up again my favorite apostle, Peter.  Peter was just an ordinary fisherman, but when he met Jesus, and Jesus asked him to leave everything and follow Him, Peter didn’t hesitate – he went (Luke 5:11).

Peter became a follower at that point.  A follower of Jesus.

fruitsDid that mean that he was immediately transformed into the perfect godly man?  Definitely not!  He was still Peter – with his same personality, and his same weaknesses.

He still was brash and often put his foot in his mouth.  He even tried to tell Jesus that He wasn’t going to be hung on the cross and die!  Of course Jesus rebuked him immediately – Peter’s mind was on human things, not the things of God (Matthew 16:21-23).

Peter was certainly not afraid of stepping forward to get things done.  He wasn’t focused on whether or not he might look stupid.  He might have had moments where he was scared, but He loved his Lord.

One of my favorite passages is in Matthew 14:22-31, where the disciples are on a boat, and they suddenly see Jesus walking on the water towards them.  In the beginning they’re frightened – what in the world are they seeing?

But then Jesus speaks to them and tells them to not be scared.

Peter is so excited!  He asks Jesus to let him step out of the boat and walk on the water.  And he does!

Then just like most of us, he eventually takes his eyes off Jesus and looks down instead of straight ahead – causing him to lose courage.  He begins to sink.  Jesus tells him that he should never have doubted.

We can look at Peter and think whatever we like, but the bottom line is that he stepped out of the boat when Jesus asked him to!  What were the rest of the disciples doing?  They were on the boat watching to see what would happen to Peter.  They certainly weren’t ready to take the same step of faith Peter did.

Look back for a moment.  As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, everything went great – but then he looked away…

Isn’t that so like us?  Things are awesome, but then we look away from Jesus, and we begin to flounder around, just like the fish in Peter’s net once its brought up on the deck of the boat (pun intended).

I, unfortunately, have found myself many times throughout the years being more like the disciples who stayed on the boat watching Peter.  I’ve felt like the Lord’s saying, “trust Me and take that step of faith,” yet I’m a little fearful, so I wait.  I know I’ve probably missed many opportunities.

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I remember when I finally got my book The God of all Comfort finished.  I know the Lord led me to write the book, and He directed me on how to get it published.

And I knew that I needed to get a webpage started, and even a Facebook page, but I was scared.  I was scared because “what if I looked silly?”

I had numerous confirmations from people I trusted that these were all things that needed to be done – and was reminded that I was not promoting me, but promoting my God.  Yet still I hesitated for probably way too long.

But thankfully Jesus never gave up on me, just like He never gave up on Peter.  Peter went onto be the first main spokesperson for his Lord (Acts 2:14-47).  And God has certainly blessed me beyond measure in this ministry of mine.

My friends – you can indeed be a leader and a follower.  You just need to make sure that you are leading and following the right Person.

Don’t be afraid!  Take that bold step, and do what God is asking you to do.  There are people who need to see the fruits of the Spirit that God has been building within you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s Driving Your Bus?

Jeremiah 10:23 (NIV) says, “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”

I read a short story awhile back which spoke of a full bus going down a long, curvy mountain.  Suddenly the brakes gave way, of course causing a lot of panic.  The bus thankfully made it down to the bottom safely, but once it stopped a man noticed a young boy was sleeping in the back of the bus.

The child stirred, and the man asked him, “How could you have slept through all the chaos and noise?”

The boy’s reply, “My dad’s driving the bus.”

I love that!  The little boy had total confidence that they were going to be alright because he trusted his dad – the driver of the bus.

My question:  Do we trust our Dad – meaning our Heavenly Father?

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Just like me, I’m sure the majority of you have found yourself sometimes going, “How did I get here?  What purpose am I really serving doing this?”

But then, when you look back later, you start to see reasons that God placed you there at that particular time.  You might wonder why you didn’t figure it out sooner.  Well maybe God didn’t want you to – after all, you might have messed it up as you tried to work out His divine plan!

There are many seasons in my life that when I look back I can see how God did things that I couldn’t imagine when I was right smack in the middle of it.  And I’m thankful that He used me in those situations – sometimes even when I didn’t deserve it.

There were times growing up that were really hard – but God had a plan.

There were times I was stuck at jobs which were brutal – but again God had a plan.

There were times when my heart felt like it would never be alright again because the pain was so intense – but looking back I can see how God needed me to go through those things, because He had a plan.

Perfectionism is a thing a lot of us struggle with, isn’t it?  I’ve certainly found myself in that situation many times.  I work myself up to a panicked state trying to get things just right – doing things in my own power instead of trusting my Father.

Green and White Bordered Check List Birthday Instagram PostBut we need to let it go!

I remember one time I was really going through a difficult time.  I was trying to “do” too many different things all at once – and was failing miserably.  I went to a prayer sister and asked her to pray.  As I explained all the things going on, she said, “You need to quit trying so hard!”

Stuck with me…

Joab was the Commander of King David’s army.  Now he didn’t always do things as he should have, yet there was one major battle where he definitely gave credit where credit was due.

The Israelites were heading into a major battle, where their enemies the Arameans were stationed on the one side of them; and on the other side stood their enemies the Ammonites.

Here was Joab’s plan (2 Samuel 10:9-12 NLT – underscore mine):

When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields.  He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites.  “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother.  “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you.  Be courageous!  Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God.  May the Lord’s will be done.

Joab fully realized that God needed to be driving the bus in that battle if they were to win.  The odds were just too great.  The outcome?  2 Samuel 10:13-19, says the Israelites ended up killing 700 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers – the rest of their enemies fled.

It really doesn’t matter how large an obstacle may seem to our human eyes, with God we can rest in His arms, just like the little boy slept in the back of the out-of-control bus.

 

 

Ambassadorship

Wow, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  Ambassadorship.  But such an interesting word!

A few years back I was at a prayer meeting, and one gal said that she had a word from God that she felt she needed to share.  Now let me just go on record that when I hear that phrase, sometimes I get tingly.  Is it for me?

If I do feel like it might be something for me (perhaps something I’ve been praying about), I’ll take it before the Lord and ask for confirmation.  That’s always important – we need to test all things according to the word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

So anyway, these are the words this gal shared:  “I’m going to make you an ambassador for Christ.”

Blue Circle Sunflowers Spring Instagram PostNow when she said this, immediately one sweet gal started clapping for she definitely felt like the words were for her, but as I sat there I started feeling like it was for me also.  Was it?

After that I went before my Father and had some quiet time.  Lord, is this for me?  If so, may I never be fearful of what’s before me.  Break every chain that’s binding me; break everything that is making me hold onto things I shouldn’t.  Help me to trust you more.  May I step willingly into the ambassadorship that I believe you are calling me into.  You state that Your word cannot be chained [2 Timothy 2:9].  Use me, Lord.

These thoughts stayed with me for a couple of days, and I found myself praying often that I’d remember I’m a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that I should never be afraid to live in that confidence.

A couple nights later I awoke in the middle of the night, and I found myself praying over and over for my Lord to break down any walls that were still hindering me from hearing Him clearly in my life.

The next morning I started thinking about when the wall of Jericho fell, and how when it fell the people devoted everything to the Lord (Joshua 6:17, 21).

I want to be totally devoted to You, Lord…

So, let’s circle back to the title of this post, “Ambassadorship.”  What does being an ambassador mean anyway?

shoesDictionary.com has a couple definitions I really like:  “a diplomatic official of the highest rank” and “an authorized messenger or representative.”

Think about this for a moment.  Are not all believers in Jesus ambassadors of the highest ranking?  We, after all, are children of the King of Kings (1 John 3:1)!  There isn’t a greater honor than that.  God, the creator of the universe, calls us who believe in Jesus Christ His children.  We are diplomats!

And, as God’s diplomats, we are messengers and representatives of Him.  Just as an ambassador of the United States represents our country, God has called us to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20) – it’s His great commission to us!  We are representatives of the highest calling.

All of us have moments when we get caught up in way too much stuff, don’t we?  Hebrews 12:1 tells us to get rid of all the stuff weighing us down – things that are keeping us from running God’s race with perseverance and endurance.

Think of it this way:  If you’re a marathon runner, your jaunt to the finish line is going to be a lot slower if you have weights on your ankles.  Lose the weights!  Remove those things from your life which are holding you down, so you can concentrate on being an ambassador for Jesus.

Also remember – there are different ways to fulfill your job as an ambassador.  Whether you’re a full-time mom, or a CEO of a company, God has you where you are for a reason and for a season.  Use your time where He has you to touch as many people as you can.  You are special!

 

 

Don’t Look Back!

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “If only I knew then what I know now.”

A lot of times it’s when we reflect back to our teenage years when we made a lot of stupid mistakes; but sometimes people say this when their marriage is failing, their jobs are getting unbearable, or when their kids are acting up and they seem to have no control over them anymore.

To be perfectly honest we’ve all thought that at least once or twice, right?  For me, I would have certainly done things a lot differently had I known what was coming up in the future!

repentanceBut looking back in hindsight is not a good thing – because there’s nothing we can do about it.  It’s done – finito.  Instead we should be thinking about how our pasts are actually a prologue to where we are now.  Because if we open our eyes in all honesty, we’ll see that the events that happened previously actually have molded and shaped us into who and what we are today.

On Thanksgiving a few years back I found myself thinking about the “if only” statement.

I was bummed out that day.  In the week leading up to it, I had been focusing on what our lives could have been like if we still had all our children, instead of being glad and rejoicing as to all the good God had brought into in our lives since then.

Then that morning I read 2 Kings 4:8-37, about the Shummanite woman, and my mindset for a time went from bad to worse…

This is the account where the prophet Elisha visits with the Shummanite woman and her husband, and they end up providing a special room for him to use every time he passes through the area.

Elisha wants to do something to thank her.  But what?

His servant Gehazi informs Elisha that she has no son, and her husband is old.  So Elisha tells the woman that by next year she will hold a boy of her own.

It was too good to be true for the woman – her dream!  But then as her child grew, one day he complains of pain in his head, and the next thing you know he dies.

She quickly has her servant fetch a donkey, and goes in search of Elisha.  When she finds him she breaks down, feeling betrayed – why would she want a son just to have him die so soon?  Why did Elisha do that to her?

Elisha goes back to the Shummanite’s home, enters the room where her dead son is lying, and lays down flat on top of him, praying that God would bring life back into his body.

God answers Elisha’s prayer (v. 32-35).

This is when I started playing the wicked “if only” mind games with myself.

Should I have done what Elisha did when I entered our son Matthew’s room that horrible morning and discovered he had died in his sleep?  Should I have laid flat down on top of his body?  Did I even pray that God would bring breath back into him?

Had I even prayed at all?

No, I had not.  Instead I had started screaming for Gary.

So as I sat there after reading this passage of Scripture, the questions started:

“Should I have…?”

“Could I have…?”

“Would God have…?”

don't look backBut here’s the thing, my friends – God doesn’t play these sick little mind games with us.  We do it all by ourselves.

As I continued to sit there that morning, I suddenly realized that I needed a mental shift.  Either I could have the whole day ruined because of “what ifs” or I could make it a day remembering the many blessings my Father has given me.

Psalm 118:24 (NIV) says:  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

And, as I look at the events of my life, I can see how they have certainly shaped where I’m at now with my ministry.  I think if you honestly look at your own life, you can probably say the same thing.

God’s plans are always perfect – no matter what we think.

Learning To Rest

I have a problem.  Actually I have many problems, but for today I want to focus just on this one:  Learning to rest and be content in where God has me.  This also includes waiting for God to open doors instead of just holding my nose and jumping into something – and then realizing I’m in waaaay over my head.

Let me try and explain a bit.  Through the years I’ve held many different types of jobs – and I basically loved them all – at least at the beginning.

newI have worked in restaurants as waitress, bartender and even cook; I have worked in law firms doing secretarial and paralegal work; I have worked in sales jobs; and I’ve worked at a non-profit association.  And all those jobs I really enjoyed – for the first couple of years.

But then I find myself getting bored.  I get restless.  I need something new and exciting.

I even tend to get bored driving the same old roads to where I need to go!  After a time I just need to mix things up a little bit – veer off down different streets to get to my destination.

Yes, my husband definitely thinks I’m weird.  Actually I think I’m weird too.

I hear of people staying at the same job for 30 years and I start to cringe inside – how can they do that?

The only thing I’ve really enjoyed over the years without stopping is serving my Lord.  But, that being said, I still have a habit of jumping into new things I think I need to try as far as ministry; but sometimes after taking the plunge realize it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.

Since this year started (2018), I’ve been feeling like the Lord’s telling me I need to learn how to “rest.”

Being able to take naps sounds like a good idea, but the kind of rest I believe He’s been speaking to me about is to quit striving!  I feel like He’s telling me that I need to focus more on “resting” with Him.  To remember that He’s got me firmly in His hands, and that He will indeed open doors for me when it’s time to start something new – instead of me trying to force them open with a crowbar!

I was reading through 2 Samuel not too long ago, and I once again found myself grieving at how King David fell from God’s grace when he had the affair with Bathsheba.

For some reason as his army went out for battle that particular time, he decided not to join his men like he usually did (Chapter 11), and that’s how the trouble appears to have started.  With Bathsheba he stooped very low – to the point of having her husband murdered once she informed David she was pregnant with his child.

White Cropped Photo Baking Bread Pinterest GraphicNow when God sent the prophet Nathan to him to confront him of his sin in Chapter 12, David repents, but there was a price to pay.  There usually is.  In this instance, David and Bathsheba lose their first-born son.  Further, when you get to Chapter 13, you read of how David’s son Absalom kills his brother Amnon because of rape and incest.

David’s family is falling apart, and he just seems to not care.  How sad.  What had happened to David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)?

What had happened to this man of integrity?

Why didn’t he go into battle with his men (2 Samuel 11:1)?  Had he gotten bored?  Was he feeling discontentment with his life?  Just a thought…

There’s a saying that I’ve held onto through the years:  “When you start feeling distant from the Lord, it’s not Him who has moved away.”

For me, I believe a lot of my problem with discontentment and restlessness is that I start neglecting my time with God.  I start making excuses about “how I need to try this,” or “I need to get this done first” before I just sit and “rest” before Him.

Perhaps is that what was happening in David’s life as well?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this season.  I really want to get this “rest” thing down.  After all, He’s in control of my life anyway!

How about you?

It’s OK – Be Unique!

Do you feel like you measure up to other Christians?

A testimony I like to share is about when I became a new believer in Jesus.  I found myself watching mature women at our church to see how I should be acting.  The problem was, I didn’t even come close – I was failing miserably!

My friend and I used to take long power walks.  While we walked, we often talked about maturity in Jesus, and just what that was supposed to look like.  She also felt her words and actions typically failed to demonstrate how Jesus would want her to live.

Because of this huge insecurity in my life, I often would put on my “mature godly Christian woman mask” when I was at church events.  I tried to mimic the words spoken by the women I admired, and used phrases such as “God bless you” often.

But more often than not it was a façade.

jesus was kkindSince my friend struggled as I did, we would try and keep each other accountable, boosting each other up about how God really did love us, just as we are.  We would laugh at some of the dumb stuff we’d do, and then wonder if God were laughing along with us – or if we were, in fact, just being bad.

It took many, many years until I really started to feel confident in who I was – God created me just the way He wanted to!  He didn’t design me to be just like the beautiful elder’s wife that sat demurely beside her husband each week in church, always dressed perfectly.

Phew – what freedom!

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  It just seeps straight down to my soul.  And I have to say, verses 13-16 of that Psalm have probably spoken to me more than any other passage as I’ve struggled with my “uniqueness.”

Here’s how it reads in the NLT:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Are you really seeing what this says?  It’s saying that God made us all – unique!  He didn’t design us to be little robot-Christians.  How on earth could we reach all the different types of people out there if we all were identical in looks, personalities and characteristics?

Playful Etsy Shop Icon_LIThink of what the poorest-of-the-poor would think if we embarked on a mission trip to a their nation that had just been hit by a devastating hurricane, and we show up in a dress and high heels wanting to help them.  How on earth could they relate to us?

I know I couldn’t!  I’d probably be thinking something like get this highfalutin chick out of here!

OK, I’m getting a little carried away, but I hope you can see my point.  We have all been put together just as God wanted us to be put together.

We may have different personalities – but we have the same God.

We may have different skin color – but we have the same God.

We may have different styles of dress – but we have the same God.

For those of you out there who struggle with feeling “just not good enough” compared to other Christians around you, please remember that God made you so very, very special – He doesn’t make any junk!

So it’s OK – leave your mask at home.  Let the inner beauty that God has specially instilled in you shine!  People need to see the real you – the unique special treasure that God has made you to be.

Do Not Fear

On February 19th, I posted a short video on my God of All Comfort Facebook page about real fear that I experienced back when I was a teenager.  My best friend for a time was into witchcraft (Fortunetellers, Witches & Other Strange Stuff).

That was before I became a Christian.  In my teen years I often felt lonely and unloved, so I ended up dabbling into way too much stuff.

As I mentioned in that video, it has only been within the last 10 years that I’ve been able to sleep at night when my husband’s out of town without any lights on, because there were too many terrifying memories – images that would come back to haunt me.

But even when we’re Christians, we find ourselves really afraid sometimes, don’t we?  We know we’re not supposed to be, but we are.

pray instead of talkI’ve found myself afraid often for our son, Jeffrey.  He’s now 26 years-old and lives with caretakers in Arizona – his choice.  He has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is full-time in a wheelchair.  Unfortunately within the past couple of years he’s decided to no longer do his physical, occupational and speech therapies.  We can definitely tell the difference when we see him, and our hearts break.  What’s going to happen?  We worry his muscles are going to completely atrophy, and that soon he won’t be able to do anything at all by himself.

He had such great dreams!  Dreams of becoming a pilot someday.  He even moved away to Arizona so he could attend an aeronautical college there because nothing was going to take that dream away.  Gary and I were over-the-edge with stress, but everything worked out – at least in the beginning.  God opened the doors for him.

But now it’s like Jeffrey’s given up on his dreams.  He quit college after his junior year, and I fear for him, because I wonder just what will happen if he keeps on this path he’s chosen.  It seems as though he’s just given up, and spends his days sitting at home watching movies and playing computer games.

But I’m taking God out of the equation, aren’t I?

Isaiah 41:10 says to not fear; and Psalm 27:14 says we’re to be patient and courageous.  God Himself will give us the strength we need.

And I know all that, but still…

mr. rhs

Jeffrey participating in a high school competition

Last week I attended a prayer meeting, which was just phenomenal.  The Lord’s presence radiated in that room, and I found myself in tears more than once as we worshiped and prayed together.

The main focus was Psalm 91, where it says God is faithful.  He is our deliverer – He is our refuge.

But what struck me more than anything else in that whole Psalm was v. 1:  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (NIV – emphasis mine).

The reason this verse got me fired-up that morning was two-fold.

First, I have really been feeling as I’ve prayed for this new year ahead, that God is telling me I need to “rest” in Him.  I need to quit stressing and trying to figure out what to do, and instead just rest and wait for Him to open the doors.

Secondly, there was the word “shadow.”  What is a shadow?

I love one of the definitions from Merriam-Webster:  “An inseparable companion or follower.”

Think of that, my friends.  Think of your Heavenly Father as an “inseparable companion” – because He is!

I started to reflect on just what shadows are.  Your shadow can always be seen.  Even if it’s pitch-black, all you have to do is turn on any sort of light, and poof your shadow appears.

Did you catch the word “light?”  Just who is our “Light?”

Jesus answers this question in John 8:12 (NIV):

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So what are you afraid of?  What fears do you find yourself reflecting on – probably way too often?  Remember to flick on the Light – your Father is standing right there next to you.