It was Thursday night in Jerusalem. Jesus’ last supper with the disciples had ended. His words had been sober & serious — leaving the men confused, dejected, disappointed, and a few of them feeling betrayed. How could Jesus be leaving them? The ruler of this world was coming? What? They had left everything to follow Jesus, who they thought would be Ruler.
Jesus gets up and motions, “Come on boys.” (John 14:32). Heading outside the city toward the Mt of Olives, they walk single file through vineyards. Jesus reaches down and lifts up a branch. “I am the Vine & my Father is the Gardener. God will tend & cultivate your lives with great care & wisdom — for His heart is set on helping you become fruitful.” I love John 15. It’s a weighty passage that reveals the heart of our God, who is for us, not against us.
Years ago, I would criticize my husband when he’d prune bushes and trees in our yard. I’d try to convince him to take less and leave some blooms to enjoy. Boy, was I wrong! And so, this last weekend, I kept my mouth shut as we filled 2 1/2 trailers of pruned plants. It was shocking, drastic, …and absolutely neccesary. Many Christians misunderstand God’s pruning as painful punishment. The truth is — when God prunes us, it is always for our good. God is removing the things in our lives that are draining away our energy & strength. Pruning is God’s way of making us stronger so we can handle more fruit.
When you are a young branch (new in your walk with the Lord), His pruning may seem like little snips. God is dealing with exterior matters in your life. But, as you mature, pruning seems to become more harsh. Don’t panic! God is dealing with matters of your heart, so the pain may seem more intense. Soon enough, pruning season will pass, and you’ll be enjoying new growth; new transformation; new fruit. The “thing” you lost will be a far away, fading memory.
Perhaps, you feel like your faith is being tested right now. Has God had His pruning shears out? Be encouraged — He is a Master Gardener. He knows exactly how to cultivate you into a fruit-FULL season. You are safe in His hands.
Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant,a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. Proverbs 6:16-19
Hate is a strong word…it literally means to loathe or detest. I hate flying beetles; untangling Christmas lights; the taste of sour kraut; shopping for a new bra; cancer. But after giving it some thought — hands down, the thing I hate most is the abuse of children. Whenever I hear of a child’s innocence being violated by the evil hands or hateful words from another, a righteous anger boils up in me. It’s sickening to let my mind think for one moment of the abuses that happen way too frequently, every day, all around this world. How the heart of God must break at the depths of such sinfulness. How much He must hate; loathe; detest the assault on the most vulnerable and innocent ones among us.
It would be better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and jump into the sea; than to hurt one of His children. Luke 17:2
With a problem this big and so vast, what are we to do? How can we really make a difference? Here’s some steps all Christians can take to be part of the solution.
- Speak up when you see abuse. Defend & protect children from bullies and predators.
- Love, listen, & value the children in your life…teachers, Sunday school leaders, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles! Slow down and give ear to the kids. Reassure them that they are safe with you. Explain to them why they should not keep secrets from you. Keep the lines of communication open.
- Discuss with your children how to stay safe from predators and bullies. For example: Never go with an adult you do not know. Mommy will not send someone else to pick you up. Go tell another adult if you feel frightened or uneasy with a situation.
- Place boundaries around your children to guard their innocence. Even when others “mock” your restrictions, stick to your guns. Your kids are worth protecting! Some of the things I hope you will consider: No boy baby sitters. No biking outside your neighborhood. Encourage sleepovers at YOUR home. Parental controls on computers, phones, & video games.
- Pray for your children! Ask God to put a hedge of angelic protection round their lives. Ask God to give you discernment & wisdom on how to best protect them from harm. Rebuke the devil from your child’s life.
- Never ever ever harm a child! You may not be a child molester…but you can harm a child with hateful, angry words. If your angry, walk away and calm down before talking to children. Determine to speak words of life…that build up, not tear down. You cannot tell a child enough how special & loved they are. It’s food to their little souls.
I know it’s a downer to discuss such ugly topics. But we cannot afford to be like a ostrich with our head stuck in the ground. Our children need our protection of their hearts, minds, and bodies. May God help us!
Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6
Living by faith is exciting — never a dull moment. Every moment of every day, God calls us to live by faith. Like any good father, He wants us to trust Him above all else. And, as we do, we will experience an abundant life — where signs & wonders follow us wherever we go.
Sounds simple, but, who are we kidding? Faith is not easy. In fact, it’s never ever easy!
- Faith is scary – leading us into the unknown – where answers come 1 step at a time.
- Faith fights my own inner struggle to be in control & to rely on my own cleverness. Faith calls me to surrender the reigns of life over to Jesus.
- Faith has no plan B. (Let that truth sink in.)
- Faith is digging in my heels and standing my ground holding onto God’s hand.
But, without faith, we will never please God. We will never move mountains. We will never reach our full destiny. We will never see miracles. We will never bring God the great glory He deserves.
So, where is faith leading you today? Don’t give up! You can strengthen your faith muscles right now.
- Recall God’s faithfulness — He’ll never let you down.
- Remember God’s promises —- His perspective, His wisdom, His truth are greater than your feelings.
- Lift His name up in praise & worship – His name is greater than your circumstances.
- Pray — lighten your load by casting the weight of your cares on Him. Get others praying with you too.
- Read Bible stories — Peter walking on water; 3 Hebrew men who survived a fiery furnace & lived to tell about it; Lazarus rising from the dead; Sarah giving birth at the ripe ole age of 90…. God is the same today as He was for those saints.
I know I’m not writing about anything new…faith is a topic that affects the life of all Christians every single day BIG TIME! I’ve been walking by faith for over 40 years — and I would never live life any other way. God HAS been faithful! He has done many many miracles. He has taken “impossible” situations and turned them around for my good countless times. But, it has not been the easy road. My heart is tender toward my brothers and sisters who are also fighting the good fight of faith. Don’t grow weary trusting God. Raw faith IS the BEST path for us to take!
My dear freind, Shay, stepped in heaven yesterday morning. Escorted by the angels, Shay was led to King Jesus. All her tiredness, anxiety, and sickness left her once and for all. As Jesus embraced her, she received her new name, her new body, her new home. Today she stands strong, full of joy and new life. She’s reunited with loved ones. In light of a greater revelation of God, I can almost hear her calling to us still on earth — “Our God IS a God of miracles. How great! How perfect! How wonderful is He.”
I woke up sad this morning…not sad for Shay, but sad for life without her. Sad for her kids who will no longer have their mother. It’s truly bitter sweet. When we reach for God’s perspective, we understand that “the death of saint is precious in the sight of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17). No words can begin to describe how much better our lives will be when we take that wonderful step into eternity. We are but foreigners on earth…our true home sweet home is heaven, in the presence of our God.
Have you lost a loved one and felt that “bitter sweet” pain in your heart? How do we keep on living by faith when God answered our prayers for healing, by taking our loved one home to heaven? How do we grieve and celebrate life simultaneously?
- Remember the good. Grief mingles with joy when we glance back to celebrate life. It will help heal your soul by laughing & crying as you recall the good times shared with your loved one.
- Live with eternity in your heart. (Eccl. 3:11). Our lives on earth are but a moment in light of what’s to come. Live to know Jesus more & more & more….
- Highly value relationships every day. Life can change on a dime. Don’t wait until it’s too late to embrace those God has placed in your life. Tell them you love them often.
- Keep living by faith. Our God’s ways are higher than ours. While we may never understand why He heals some on earth and others with a new life in heaven, we keep trusting Him. We keep asking for miracles. We keep standing on the truth of Ephesians 3:20. “Our God will do above and beyond what we ask or think.”
So, today is bitter sweet. I already miss my sweet friend. And, if you have a moment today, please pray with me for her son and daughter.
Happy New Year! I love this time of year. New beginnings. New doors of opportunities. New vision. I am convinced to my core that God wants you (and I) to have,not just a better year, but the BEST year of our lives thus far. How do I know this? Well, God has been whispering this in my ear for the last 2 weeks. And, He confirms this promise in HIs word too…
Forget the past — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. SEE, I have already begun it! Do you not see it? Isaiah 43:18-19
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. I Corinthians 2:9
I’d like to encourage you to skip the resolutions and try RESOLVE in 2017! Resolve is a definite determination of where you want to go and what you want to do. Resolve is like digging your heels in. Come hell or high water, I resolve to….
To help you get started, here’s few of my suggestions:
- I resolve to look forward, not backward.
- I resolve to start strong AND finish strong.
- I resolve to passionately love my husband, kids, grandkids, church.
- I resolve to live healed — no regret; no shame; no unforgiveness.
- I resolve to dream bigger!
- I resolve to live by faith & take greater risks with God.
So, once again, Happy New Year! Put your seatbelt on. It’s going to be quite a ride.
Okay, here I go. I’m finally obeying God and starting a blog. I’ve dragged my heels on this thing long enough. Truth is — I actually have a lot to share. Not so much about me; but about the God I so love and follow every step of every day. Along my journey (56 years thus far), I have come to know Jesus as a REAL friend. When I choose Him and His ways, life is a grand adventure.
And so, I’m going to start sharing to whoever wants to join along. I’ll keep it real and truthful; so please try not to judge me. I’ll admit right up front — I am deeply flawed. I’m guessing that many of you will be able to relate, and hopefully be encouraged by my stories.
Sing to the LORD; praise His name. Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:2-4