If Pain is What it Takes

Recently, I had a pretty major surgery and woke up groggy and hurting in the hospital bed. My nurse handed me a morphine pump for pain. Anytime I began to experience any pain I could push the button and get relief. As I laid in my hospital bed unable to move, I played praise and worship music and prayed continuously to God.

Later, I began to think of all the times in my life when I cried out to Jesus for rescue. When I came to the end of myself and knew I needed a Savior, or when death came calling to those closest to me when I broke both of my arms or during the excruciating pain of childbirth. Many times in my life I have cried out to Jesus, and He has always been there to comfort me and guide me through the storms of life.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”118dX” via=”yes” ]There is something about times of pain that cause us to cry out to Jesus![/ctt]

David, who was a man after God’s own heart cried to God on many occasions. I especially like what we can learn from Psalm 86.

A Prayer of David.
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. – Psalm 86

In this prayer, David knows his spiritual condition and need, but He also knows the only one who can help him. He cries out to God for help because He knows God will answer Him because He knows that God loves Him and will forgive him.

As a mother, I want to protect my children from pain. I don’t ever want anything bad to happen to them, and I don’t want them to fail. My husband in his great wisdom, always tells me to let them make mistakes, to let them fail. My instincts as a mom are to protect my boys from harm and from pain.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”Eh0_I” via=”yes” ]If pain leads me to Jesus, then why would I want to keep my children from experiencing pain?[/ctt]

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.                        – 3 John 1:4

If the storms of life and suffering associated with them are what it takes to cause my boys to cry out to God and put their faith and trust in HIM in their time of need, as much as it breaks my mother’s heart I want the Lord to have His way with them.

I love the lyrics of Bring the Rain by Mercy Me. There is a stanza that says,

“Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain”

Whatever it takes Lord. Bring the Rain or the pain, just don’t leave me the same.

 

 

Mastermind Group Interrupted by Divine Appointment

Have you heard of a Mastermind group? Until I went to She Speaks last year, I had no idea what a Mastermind group even was, but I had a close friend who said we need to start a one. So we did.

The concept of a Mastermind group came from Napoleon Hill’s book written in the early 1900’s Think and Grow Rich. He defined it as, “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”

Mastermind

Upon returning from She Speaks 2016, we formed our group for the purpose of holding each other accountable in our writing and pursuit of ministry. Almost immediately after starting our group, God began shaking things up in our midst. Currently, there are three of us who meet every other week to encourage one another, pray for one another, and help each other with our blogs and ministries. We have been praying about hosting a Women’s event this fall, and we are diligently seeking what needs we can meet. We typically meet at my house every other Friday morning, but this week there was a conflict, so we decided to meet up at a restaurant on Thursday evening.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”lh_F5″ via=”yes” ]We thought we were going there to meet up and encourage each other, but God had other plans.[/ctt]

As we finished our food and began our meeting time together, a young boy politely interrupted us and asked if we could help his family. He told us that they were homeless and were trying to gather enough money to get a room.

homeless-844215.jpg

As we dug into our wallets to for money, my friend pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed to the boy. The boy tried to give it back to her—he thought she made a mistake, but the look on his face said that he didn’t think he felt worthy of twenty dollars. He tried to take off, but my other friend and I were pulling money out of our wallets to give to him. We stopped him and inquired where his momma was and told him we wanted to pray for them. We watched as he ran across the parking lot to a parked car. The woman and her two young boys cautiously drove back to the front of the restaurant not knowing what to expect.

This wasn’t the first time they had gone into

the restaurant begging for money.

We went to out to pray and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours outside the car, getting to know this woman’s heart, declaring the truth of God’s love for her and her precious children parked right in front of the restaurant. We proclaimed God’s love for them, encouraged and prayed for them, and gave them hope. They had a Bible in the backseat, and my friend shared some verses with the boys. While she was talking to the kids and looking up scriptures, I spoke to the mom.

I cannot adequately describe to you what happened in that parking lot, but what I can tell you is that it was a divine appointment.

For a few moments, time stood still, the sky broke open, and heaven came down. I am still trying to process it all myself. I am humbled that the Lord interrupted our plans to do “big things for him.” God showed us what really matters. Love Him, love others, and tell as many people as we can what Jesus Christ has done for us.

I don’t know if I will ever see that woman or her children again, but I know that I will never be the same.

sunset-2144479.jpg

[ctt template=”2″ link=”UD9b7″ via=”yes” ]The world is full of lost and hurting people if we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit we can be a conduit of love and hope.[/ctt]

Lord, rescue us from our mundane lives. Break our hearts for what breaks yours! Help us to live aware of others and be sensitive to their needs. Help us to pray in parking lots, and grocery stores, and neighborhoods, and wherever there is a need. Equip us with love and compassion for the needy and give us opportunities to put your love into action.

Friends, will you join me in praying for a transformative change to take place in the hearts and lives of this woman and her boys through the power of the cross? And for the untold numbers of people like her who need a touch from God, who need to know there is hope, and that they are loved.

As we approach Easter weekend, let us be ever mindful of those who are lost and need to know the hope that lies within us. I want to leave you with two new songs from Elevation Worship, Fullness and Mighty Cross. As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, may these videos bless you as much as they have blessed me this week!

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about Jesus?

Today I am honored to share a story with you about a sweet friend of mine. My beautiful friend’s countenance is full of joy, and her smile radiates Jesus! We were together the other day, and as we sat across from one another and shared our hearts for the Lord and all that He is doing in our lives, tears streamed down her face. She said how can people know the joy of the Lord and not share it with others? Then she said, “why didn’t anyone ever tell me about Jesus?” My heart sank. What stops us from telling others about Jesus?

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about Jesus?

That was the cry of my friend’s heart. She wondered why no one had ever shared the beautiful gospel message of hope in Jesus Christ with her before. She didn’t understand how someone could have this gift of faith and not share it. She didn’t become a Christian until adulthood and had come from a broken home marked by pain and suffering.

My friend was a corporate professional facing a difficult time in her life. She was searching for something but was coming up empty.

25698_The_Love

[ctt template=”2″ link=”012cG” via=”yes” ]We have a God-shaped hole in our heart that only Jesus can fill![/ctt]

Just then a young lady who worked for her approached her about attending a Bible Study. She anxiously drove across town to attend Bible Study. She didn’t even know what Bible Study was, but it was there while attending Bible Study that she gave her heart to the Lord and became a Christian.

My friend’s husband was hostile to the gospel. He did not want her to go to Bible Study. He thought she was joining a cult. When she returned home from Bible Study that evening, he had locked her out of her house! After many tears and crying out to the Lord eventually her husband surrendered his life to the call of Jesus too. This couple is now on fire for the Lord and raising their children in a Christian home.

How often do we fail to share our faith with others?

My friend had a valid point. Why and how did she walk around on this planet for over 30 years and never know about the saving redeeming love of Jesus Christ? Shame on us as Christians if we don’t tell others about Jesus. We have been given the greatest gift that has ever been given! How can we keep it for ourselves, and not share?

[ctt template=”2″ link=”skAcY” via=”yes” ]Sometimes I think we don’t share because we are afraid, or we are not sure what to say.[/ctt]

However, Jesus tells us not to fear and reassures us that the Holy Spirit will give us words to share when we don’t know what to say or how to pray. We are all called to share the love of Christ with the world and should always be prepared to share the hope with us.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect – 1 Peter 3:15

There are hurting and lost people all around us who need the hope of the gospel. I love what Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church,

” we are not waiting on a move of God, we are a move of God”!

My Pastor David Fleming of Champion Forest Baptist Church says,”know, grow, go”.  Once we know the love and saving the grace of Christ, and we grow in wisdom and maturity through reading and studying the word, and through prayer, then we need to go tell others. We are called to Move Toward the Mess.

What are we waiting for?

Like my friend, Debi Chapman said at the Refresh Gathering, what we do matters. Christian friend, we need to be busy about our Father’s work. The church needs us to move and share the love of Christ with others now. It is time for us to go. What are we waiting for?

This week I challenge you to invite a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger to a church service or Bible Study, or better yet tell them about the hope that lies within you. Find a way to share how Jesus has changed your life and in doing so you could change someone’s eternity.

[wpvideo CsBMOeXW]

I would love to hear about how you are sharing your Faith with others.

Linking up with the following.

 

 

 

Refresh Gathering

Are you weary? Does your soul need to be refreshed?

As women and especially as wives and mothers, our hearts can become so weary from caring for the needs of others that we tend to overlook taking care of ourselves. Recently, I listened to a message from my friend Lisa Allen, Executive Director of Ministry Training at Proverbs 31 entitled, “Self-Care Isn’t Selfish.” This message really resonated with me. As women, wives, and mothers, why do we think it is selfish to tend to our own needs? For years I have poured my life out for others and neglected to care for myself. The Lord is showing me that life is a marathon and not a sprint. Runners don’t run marathons without first being properly nourished, rested, and hydrated.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us – Hebrews 12:1

As Christian women, we are called to run our race in life with endurance. To run with endurance, we also need to be properly nourished, rested and hydrated. Our nourishment comes from spending time in the presence of God, meditating on His word, and loving others.  Before any flight takes off, the flight attendant instructs passengers of what to do in an emergency.  Passengers are told to put on their own oxygen mask before assisting anyone else.

This past weekend was a breath of fresh air for my soul, it was a privilege to attend the Refresh Gathering hosted by my friend Debi Chapman. I am so excited to share the Refresh Gathering with you this week.  I love Debi’s heart for the Lord, and her multigenerational vision to encourage women. The Refresh Gathering was held at a beautiful venue in Grapevine, Texas called the Laurel. The day was referred to as a “spa day for your soul.”

fullsizeoutput_1a56

It is a beautiful thing when women of all ages come to together to enjoy Christian fellowship with one another and to encourage one another in their Christian walk.

Debi Chapman’s great opening session centered around the story of Lazarus in John 11. The key scripture from her talk was John 11:40.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 ESV

If you believe (in the midst of your pain, suffering, and mistakes), then you would see the glory of God. The enemy wants us to question God when things go wrong in our life. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can choose to see Jesus in the midst of our circumstances.

We must believe that no matter what happens in life….. that Jesus sees us, He hears our prayers, and He loves us!

img_1442

[ctt template=”2″ link=”a148b” via=”yes” ]Where do you need to be refreshed today?[/ctt]

Colleen Stickl of Awakened Heart spoke on receiving refreshment and taught from the scripture in John 4 about the woman at the well and our need to be refreshed by living water. Colleen focused on three specific areas where we refreshment, our identity, our perspective, and our purpose. Each day our souls need to be refreshed by living water so that we can refresh others out of our overflow.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” – John 4:10 ESV

The woman at the well was full of regret and was isolated. As Christians, our identity is not shame or regret. We need to remember who we are, and whose we are!

Our identity is in Jesus, and we are called, chosen, and forgiven.

My favorite statement of Colleen’s was this….

The enemy wants me to look back at regret and look ahead and fear.- Colleen Stickl

Our identity, our perspective, and our purpose need to be in Jesus. 

Monica Zuniga of We Are Unveiled spoke on being refreshed through forgiveness. She taught from the story of Joeseph and reminded us that we have been set free so that we can forgive others. My two favorite quotes from her talk were….

The enemy will always divide

Man will subtract

God brings Unity

Our encounter with grace and mercy with the King of the universe should affect our encounters with others. – Monica Zuniga

Next, we heard from Emily Thomas of Mom Struggling Well. She encouraged us to obey God, and if God is telling you to do something, just do it. He will help you do whatever it is he calling you to do!

Kaye Haun of House on Oak Street encouraged us to allow the Lord to renew our souls. To create an environment that brings refreshment to ourselves and those who we have the opportunity to serve in our homes, we need to be sensitive to our season in life. She talked about slowing down and being present with the people in front of us and being present with the Lord. She encouraged us to spend time with the Lord listening to how he would have us care for ourselves and for others, and allow him to give us ideas of refreshment.

Cindy Haggerton spoke on wellness. Dr. Jim Bob and Cindy Haggerton are a husband and wife chiropractic team who have dedicated their lives to educating the public about health and wellness. I encourage you to find out more about them here at Family Wellness. Cindy shared her powerful healing of restoration in her marriage to Jim Bob. She taught about the brain, digestion, and chronic inflammation and it was fascinating. Her philosophy is “move well, be well, think well,” but this is my favorite quote from her session.

“Your husband needs to see you refreshed.”- Cindy Haggerton

img_1433

Susan Ryan has lived an incredible life of international travel and is passionate about developing leaders. Through humor and wit, she encouraged us to embrace life in all its fullness, messiness, and beauty.

I love this quote from Susan!

“Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”- Susan Ryan

Lexa Brecheen of Gateway Church was precious! She spoke on God’s sufficiency to supply all of our needs. She told us about the importance of one word of refreshment and how it can change the course of someone’s day. Refreshing other people is not about us. It is about God being glorified. Make it all about Jesus.

The day concluded with an insightful panel discussion and Q&A with the speakers, and Debi Chapman closed out by sharing Jeremiah 15:19.

Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them.- Jeremiah 15:19 ESV

Her final charge was this: We are precious because we are made in the image of God, and that the enemy tries to convince us that it doesn’t matter what we do, but what we do matters!

What we do matters!

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. -Proverbs 4:23

We are salt and light, and as we are refreshed by the Lord, we need to refresh others. There were other amazing vendors and sponsors, so be sure to check out Refresh Gathering for all of the details.

I want to close with one final thought from the book of Hebrews.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

Let us encourage one another to love and good works. I would love to know how you inspire and refresh others in your sphere of influence!

 Link ups this week.


 

Move Toward the Mess

Move Toward the Mess

I love God’s timing! It amazes me the things that only He can orchestrate. When you answer the call to follow Jesus, you just never know where you may end up. Following Jesus is definitely not boring! During the Wednesday evening service this week, my pastor talked about how when God calls you, He will most likely call you to a place that is out of your comfort zone. God will never call you to mediocrity. If God called you to something that was easy for you, then you wouldn’t need Him, or have to rely on Him. Hmm… Interesting. Hold on to that thought.

I just finished reading the book Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life (David C. Cook 2016) by John Hambrick. Little did I know that the timing this book would correspond with a day I won’t soon forget.

img_0864Last fall, my Ladies Bible Study group wanted to do some kind of service project together. Today was our appointed day to volunteer at a local soup kitchen by the name of Fishes and Loaves. This soup kitchen feeds 200-400 hungry people in downtown Houston six days a week.

fullsizeoutput_184a

As we pulled up to the to the building, there is already a huge line of people waiting to be fed. For some of these people, this may be the only meal that they eat today. It is a cold day here in Houston, and the temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s, and it is damp and overcast. Most of the men and women we served, live under the bridge near the kitchen on the east side of downtown Houston.

Our group today consisted of mostly men, and a few women. The people thanked us and said God bless you for serving food to us. However, one woman in particular caught my attention, and it struck a cord with me. She came in with a black eye, and I wondered what she endured to get her to this place. Life on the streets is messy.

The Houston food bank along with other generous sponsors help provide the food. Our family donates money to the Houston Food bank every year, but today I locked eyes with the hungry men and women of Houston and I will never be the same.

l_f_line

Magnificat Houses is the umbrella organization over Fishes and Loaves that serves some one the neediest people in the inner city of Houston. It has been serving the mentally ill, homeless and disadvantaged since 1968. Magnificat house provides hope, food, shelter, half-way houses and rehabilitative services to people in the Houston area. It is completly led by volunteers, and operates by donation. Visit Magnificat Houses to learn more about this incredible organization.

Julie Batsche at Fishes and Loaves was our tour guide for the day. Our group served along side some of the most joy filled people that I have ever seen, their countannce radiates Jesus! We began with a tour of the facility, the chaplin shared the history of the organization, and we started with prayer. Today we served fresh salad, and gumbo made by Cedrick Broussard the cook, and his assistant, along with a roll, crackers and dessert to 205 people.

fullsizeoutput_1852The murals on the wall were painted by one of the homeless men who used to come the shelter many years ago. Below is a depiction of the miracle of the fishes and loaves from the gospels that the kitchen is named after. The workers here today see this miracle played out before their very own eyes, because God provides daily for Loaves and Fishes to feed the hungry.

fullsizeoutput_1855Our world is full of lost and hurting people who desperately need to know the love of Christ. In Move Toward the Mess, John Hambrick challenges American Christians who are bored sitting in the pews each Sunday, to get up and follow Jesus into the mess to minister to the lost and hurting in the world. I found this book to be both challenging and exciting.

In the first part of the book, John provides several examples of people that live their lives right smack in the middle of the mess, and in the second half of the book, he outlines practical ways for us to move toward the mess. There is a nice flow from chapter to chapter, and each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions that would make this an excellent book for individual study or small group discussion.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Move toward the Mess:

What gives Paul peace in the middle of the mess is God’s outrageous, unconditional forgiveness.-John Hambrick

Move toward the mess is a love story.  It is the ultimate love story of a mighty Savior who came to earth to bind up the brokenhearted, wipe every tear away, save the lost, and lavish his amazing grace on us.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”U46xi” via=”yes” ]Jesus is on the move today are you willing to answer the call and move toward the mess?[/ctt]

There are lots of different ways to move toward the mess. Last Spring when our community experienced devasting flooding we mobilized hundreds of church members into the community to help flood victims. You can read about how we moved toward the mess in The Church Has Left the Building. It is time for the church to leave the building, and move toward the mess.

I love the message of this book, and would love its message to go viral! Share this post on social media for a chance to win your very own copy of Move Toward the Mess between now and January 15th!

John Hambrick is no stranger to the mess. He is the Director of Starting Point and Staff Development at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA – one of the North Point Community Church campuses in Atlanta that bestselling author Andy Stanley founded. John has served in other churches as an associate pastor and pastor. He has also been a staff member for Young Life and was one of the chaplains at Kings College, University of London. John and his wife, Patty, have two children and reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.