Unconnect/Reconnect

Good morning, sweetheart,” I hear my wonderful husband whisper to me as my eyes struggle to open. I grab my cell phone and begin to scroll through my notifications from the night before.

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” I mumble as I continue to fix my attention on my cell phone, an inanimate object that didn’t hold me as I fell asleep last night, instead of this sweet man that is standing in front of me that God has given to me. My husband lovingly snatched my cellphone from my hand and looked at me straight in the eyes, longing for me to share a moment with him before he went off to work that day. The sad thing is, this isn’t the first and only time I have done this to him or others for that matter.

Now, I know that I’m not the only one who has grabbed their cellphone first thing in the morning or stared at the screen during dinner with a friend, so I have to ask:

When did we get so consumed with technology that we’ve allowed it to capture our complete attention more than an actual human being?

This is a topic that I believe has come to the surface recently in social spheres (“Look Up” Spoken Word by Gary Turk), especially for me after this encounter with my husband that seemed to wake me up and question where my focus is headed. I saw the hurt in his eyes when all he wanted was a little attention before he started his day. Imagine how God must feel when we not only choose other people before Him, but THINGS.

I want to dig even deeper and ask is this dependency on electronics and technology also affecting our relationship with the Lord?

Matthew 6:33 asks us to seek the Lord FIRST.

That means putting Him first in our lives at all times, even the first few moments of our day. He is the One who graciously woke us up, gave us the breath in our lungs, and provided us another opportunity to live another day. He deserves our devotion the moment our eyes pop open, even if it is a mere “thank you, God” before our feet even hit the floor.

As we live in the great information age, we are bombarded with opportunities to fill our time and our minds with so many things that can so easily replace our time of fellowship with the Lord. Information available to us, literally at our fingertips, at all times, is wonderful gift, but that mobile device that we carry around in our purses and pockets can also be a mobile distraction that follows us everywhere we go.

Although our cellphones, tablets, iPods, laptops, etc are not evil, I do believe we need to be cautious as to how much time we are devoting to them. We need to be aware of where we are directing our focus. We need to be attentive of what is capturing our attention.

Perhaps you may not have an issue with technology distracting you from the Lord- good for you! Stay strong and be an accountability partner for those around you who are easily pulled away from the things of God because of the ever-increasing information age.

But if you are like me and you are finding yourself with limited time to spend with Jesus in the secret place, I challenge you to ask the Lord if there is something you can arrange in your schedule to allow better time management. Also, ask Him if He would like for you to fast (technology, that is) something that could be causing division between you and Him.

Devote specific time every day to spend some quiet time in fellowship with God and reading your Bible, without your cellphone or iPad within reach- turn them off during that time.

Be thankful for the benefits of the tools and global connections that technology brings us, but don’t allow technology to rob you of your connection to Jesus.

Let’s refocus and reconnect with the Lord!


Unconnect/Reconnect is also posted on iBelieve.com!

Strength to Endure All: A Life Hidden in Christ

After I received the phone-call from my mom, I rushed home, and looked for anyone from my family, but no one was around. I ran up to my room trying to figure out who to call. Worry and fear gripped my heart, as thoughts of what actually happened circled my mind. I immediately started to have a panic attack and fell to the floor in the fetal position, crying and hyperventilating. Within a few minutes, my aunt, step-dad, and boyfriend were surrounding me trying to calm me down. I wanted to know where my mom was and why she wasn’t there. “What is going on,” I cried out.

My aunt then uttered these words that are now forever etched in my mind, “Honey, your dad is dead. Someone shot him in the head and killed him. His body was dragged across the street to an abandoned building and the building was set on fire. They were able to identity his body this morning.” My mind couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard. This sounded like something out of a movie or a forensic science TV show, not my life! I immediately went into shock and couldn’t stop shaking or crying.

Yesterday, I was instantly transported back to this traumatizing memory that changed my life forever. After almost six years, the man who murdered my father was finally charged with a guilty sentence. He will serve up to 45 years in prison as a punishment for his actions.

And while most people are shouting: “That man should burn in hell!” I am preaching, “You MUST forgive!” because I know the severity of holding onto the wrongs that others have done to us. It simply is not worth it, my friends.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but I have fallen short of the glory of God many, many times, and I need my sins to be forgiven because I need the Love and Presence of my Heavenly Father from now until eternity. No matter what the sin is (how big or how small you may think it is), it WILL separate us from God. I NEVER EVER want to be separated from Him.

Although I made a CHOICE to forgive the man who took my dad’s life right after it happened, I wrestled with so many emotions and thoughts after reading the articles describing the horrendous acts of murder that turned my world upside down in November of 2008. Seeing the photo of this man as he was escorted by two police officers out of the courtroom with his stone, cold eyes looking straight back at me made my stomach churn. My heart was pierced and so many different emotions rose up in me.

Avoiding haunting memories and traumatic thoughts was the main reason I chose not to follow the murder case as the years went on. Immediately, I chose to forgive and move on with both my life with Christ and my now husband. I did not want to live in the trauma. It wasn’t that I didn’t love or miss my dad terribly.  It was because dwelling on all of this wicked and demonically influenced tragedy would never bring my dad back.  I knew that justice belonged ONLY in the hands of the Lord. Most of all, I longed for that man to repent of what he did and find a life-changing relationship with my Jesus like I had found. I still pray for that to this day.

I can’t say that I have found the strength to pray a prayer like this or the strength to forgive from solely within myself. My strength does come from within though, but it is the power and might of the Holy Spirit who has given it to me. My life verse from the Bible will forever hold true, and I will never stop standing upon the promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens me.” I’m so thankful for that promise.

In the midst of darkness or struggle, I know Jesus will never abandon me (or YOU). Although, my earthly father is gone, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone could. I cling to Him when the trials and storms of life try to overtake me, for He is my anchor of hope. I cling to and stand upon His Word that is full of promises – promises of His love, mercy, and grace, for He is my Rock and firm foundation. I cling to my Jesus and the voice of His Holy Spirit, for He is the One who gives me strength and courage to endure every trial I could ever face. I urge you to accept the forgiveness of the Father today and find strength in Jesus to learn to walk in total forgiveness, even in the midst of the darkest of trials. Oh what freedom and peace you will find!

I will leave you with the lyrics of a song I wrote after another trial I faced in November of last year, that seem to fit so perfectly right now:

In You

Verse 1:You’re my desireLord, You are my everything

It’s in You I find

My purpose, my meaning

Verse 2:

So take my life

Display it for the world to see

So that You, my King

Can receive Your glory

Chorus:

I’ll hide my life

In You, Jesus Christ

It’s You who gives me strength

To rise above the storm

Oh yes, My life

Is a living sacrifice

So that You can shine

And draw all men to Your heart

I live and move and have my being

In You

Bridge:

Jesus

When I stand in Your name

Your blood cleanses me of all my shame

The Father sees what You’ve done

How You died on the cross to save us

Me, My Selfie, and I

With the overwhelming flood of social media sites and phone apps filling every millisecond of our lives, it is blatantly clear how self-centered our culture has become as we post about our lives and our opinions numerous times a day.

With the invention of the front-facing camera on our cell phones, we are now able to take endless pictures of ourselves with ease called “selfies.” I have to ask, if we want to see ourselves that much we might as well consider carrying around a mirror everywhere we go, right?

…Vain much?

And now Carly Simon’s voice is singing in my head…

And now I can hear the kids at my youth group asking, “Who’s Carly Simon?”

But seriously, are we too focused on ourselves?

This is a question I have recently asked myself as I am finding myself dwelling on my own issues so much that it is overwhelming my thoughts, completely over-crowding my mind, and creating more problems than solutions. Also, as someone who enjoys praying for others, I’m realizing how less and less of my time talking to God is spent interceding on others’ behalf and more and more of my time is spent asking Him to simply “help me, me, ME” or ignoring Him altogether and trying to figure it all out myself.

Am I self-centered?

self-cen·tered (adjective)- preoccupied with oneself and one’s affairs.

“he’s far too self-centered to care what you do”

synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking,self-interested, self-serving

I have been completely preoccupied with myself and my own affairs.

And I am utterly convicted.

James 3:16 tells us, “Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (NKJV).

Whoa… “every EVIL thing?”

Are you finding yourself confused and needing clarity regarding your circumstances?

What about worry? Are you finding yourself frantic, anxious, or on edge often?

These feelings are not from God and are rooted in fear:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).

When we cast our anxieties upon the Lord like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do, we are humbling ourselves and telling the Lord we know that we cannot figure out this life on our own. This act of surrender frees our lives up to think upon truth found only in God’s word, to spend time communing with the Lord, and to be able to lift others up in prayer. Not to mention being mentally present for people who we cross paths with on a daily basis who may need some encouragement, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on. We aren’t the only ones in the world with problems, so why do we act like it?

The less we focus on ourselves and our problems, the more freedom, clarity, and peace we will experience.

So let’s shift the focus off of ourselves for a while…your mind (and your Instagram) could use a little rest…


ME, MY SELFIE, AND I is also posted at iBelieve.com!

Just Not Now

waiting, trust, timing, patience, worship, prayer, devotional


JUST. NOT. NOW.

Those three words seem to be the words I have had to say quite a lot over these last several months. And I am not a fan of having to turn down opportunities, especially when they seem so right, so perfect.

But the timing may not be…

Sunday morning before church, I was reading Psalm 37 and I think the Lord was trying to prepare me for a decision I was going to have to make later that night…

Psalm 37:4 (NKJV) tells us to:

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

“The Hebrew word translated “delight” (עָנַג, pronounced aw-nag) literally means to be delicate or feminine (Strong’s, עָנַג.)  It carries the idea of being pliable or sensitive.  In this particular context, it means to be dependent upon God and to derive one’s pleasure from Him” (Dan Lowe, MBC Global-Pastor’s Blog).

When we read this verse, we usually picture the word delight meaning to enjoy God, which in a way it does. But as I went deeper researching the Hebrew meaning of the word, I realized the verse almost seemed to be a command to us.

The Lord is trying to tell us that He will give us the desires of our heart once we FULLY DEPEND ON HIM AND HIS WAYS. When we have a full revelation of who God is and what His ways are like, we can take genuine pleasure in Him. Not because of what He can do for us, but just because of who He is.

We see in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV):

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

When we understand this, or at least ATTEMPT to understand this statement from the Lord, we see that God’s plans may be difficult to comprehend for us humans because they will always be higher than our’s.

So how do we walk through life when we have to be the ones making the decisions?

TRUST IN THE LORD. WAIT UPON THE LORD.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

And of course…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

(Proverbs 3:5-6; NKJV)

Then the Lord really hit me with this one in Habakkuk:

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. (2:3 NKJV)
There are opportunities in your life that have yet to completely unfold and there are promises that the Lord has spoken to you that have yet to manifest, but before you give up or take matters into your own hands, trust and wait. The Bible says that God’s promises are YES and AMEN (“so be it”).
If whatever you’re believing for, praying for, hoping for is supposed to happen. It will. In GOD’S TIMING.
You may find yourself saying, “just not now…” but know that the Lord has not forgotten about you.
He knows exactly what He’s doing. He holds your precious life in the palm of His hand and He won’t let you fall. If you lean on Him and depend on His ways, You won’t be able to help yourself finding delight in Him and the desires that He placed in your heart will unfold right before your very eyes.
He is ready to give them to you. All you gotta do is….WAIT.

Jesus, Lord of ALL

 

 


 

Jesus, Lord of all.

What does that mean to you? 

For the past few weeks, I have continuously found myself asking Jesus to reign in my life. But such a simple phrase has such a great impact in your daily walk. It begins with obedience. And every single day that we wake up, we have another chance to turn it all around and walk in His will and His ways.

We can get so overwhelmed if we try to figure out God’s will for our lives in its entirety. The best way to know that you are allowing Jesus to be your Lord of all is to listen to Him DAILY and walk with Him DAILY. If you do that EVERY DAY, you will be walking in the Lord’s will for your life.

So why do we try to over-complicate this? Why do we try to bite off more than we can chew? 

Personally, I know why I have a hard time with taking one step at a time. I am an over-achiever and I have had to teach myself to marginalize my life and learn to find down-time to catch my breath. I make my TO-DO list and if I don’t check everything off of the list, I feel like I have failed. When I finally realize there will always be things to check off of my TO-DO list, the less stressed out I might become.

Another issue I have trouble with is CONTROL. I guess I feel like God’s timing can sometimes work a little slower than I’d like. So when I grow impatient, I try to take matters into my own hands. But giving the situation over to God will always turn out better than anything I could ever attempt.

So I pray:
“Reign over me. Have Your way in every part of my life. I offer up this coming year to You. Reign in me. Reign in my heart. Take control. Of it all. I honestly can’t do this on my own. My plan fails, but Your’s (in Your timing) is perfect. Order my steps, Lord. Direct my path. Teach me to love like You love. Convict me when I’m in the wrong. Give me the right words to say at all times. I ask this only in Your name, Oh Jesus.”

I pray that you learn to hand over your situation over to King Jesus and allow Him to reign in your life. Trust Him.

 

Consumed by Your Love- A Poem


CONSUMED BY YOUR LOVE

You, Lord, are a consuming fire.
A fire of Love.
A holy fire of Love.
And You are Love.
And Your Love casts out all fear and darkness.
Consume us with Your perfect Love.
We will never be perfect but we are clothed in the Perfect One.
Therefore, in Christ, we are able to reflect Your perfect Love to the world.
And we are able to receive strength through Jesus to walk in holiness.
But we need Your holy fire, that is Your Love, to consume us
so that all we know and all we are is Your love.
You ask us to be holy because you are holy.
We cannot reach holiness and purity on our own and in our own strengths or actions.
(We could never pray, fast, or read enough to achieve it)
We need Christ to cleanse us with His blood.
We are made holy and pure when we come washed in the blood of Jesus.
We repent and You cover our sins in the blood and You see Jesus-the Holy One.
Jesus, the Perfect One.
We please You with our faith in Christ and in the cross, not with our works alone.
We need faith to empower us to do great works for Your Kingdom.
But we can do NOTHING if we have not LOVE.
Faith will pass away.
Hope will fade.
But Love will never fail.
Your Love Remains.
Consume us by Your unfailing Love.