Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Sometimes Things Just Suck

My heart is so heavy.  Three people I know lost their battle with cancer within three days of each other... two of them on the same day.  Yes, sometimes things just suck.  I know, if you are like me, you hate that word.  I don't like it either, but it just seems to be the only word that fits.

I lost my dad to cancer when I was twelve.  I have lost many people I know to cancer.  And it is never any easier when you hear the word cancer.  Cancer just sucks.

I know people who are in the fight with cancer this very moment.  And I also know many people who are survivors of cancer.  And even then it still sucks.  Cancer takes so much away from you personally and so much away from your family.  But the one thing it cannot take away from you... is the love that that God has for you; and He hurts deeply for you and your family.  It cannot take away the fact that He is with you every minute of every day.  It cannot take away from you the relationships you build and the love that grows between you and those you know who are in the fight.

There are many people fighting this horrible disease every day; some that are very close to me.  They are getting better!  ... and cancer is NOT going to win!  Yet, even when cancer it not winning the battle, it takes it's toll on you.  It takes a toll on you emotional and physically and every way in between.  It is an ugly fight, but it's a fight that you do not fight alone.  God is with you every step of the way.  And if you are blessed to be a part of a community, a church, a group of close friends, they are also with you every step of the way.

For those in the fight, I know some days are literally hell.  But remember that there is one who fighting for you and holding you close even when you cannot hold yourself up.  I pray that one day there will be a cure for all types of cancer; a cure that does not involve tearing your body down to build it back up.  Until then, I will continue to trust in God.  I will continue to support those I love so dearly and continue to pray with and for them as they fight.  I will continue to walk along side of those close to me who have suffered loss because of this horrific disease.  And I will continue to pray over those in the middle of the fight, as well as the doctors working with them, as I continue to pray that God leads them to a cure.

As a dear friend said last night as we were circled up in prayer, "God knows what we are going to go through before we ever have a clue."  He is preparing us in ways we cannot imagine, for whatever unknown fight we might face. And if He already knows the pain, the heartache, the rough roads that may be ahead in any number of circumstances - then I can KNOW that He is going to be right there with us to help us fight the battle.

May God be near to us all.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Did You Notice?

Someone I know made a comment on Facebook today that reminded me of something that happened to us a few weeks ago.  A few weeks ago Chris and I were walking to the car after the last Dallas Mavericks basketball game of the season.  We had stayed late so by the time we were walking to the car there was really no one left on the streets.  As we walked the path we always take to the car a gentleman started walking our direction.  As we got closer to him he started walking up to us and we stopped. He was collecting money for a program he was in for those who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. This program creates some type of newspaper flyers. We really couldn't understand everything he was saying about the paper, but we listened to him and then gave him some money. And then he said.... "So many people just pass by and never look up. Thank you for noticing me. Can I pray over you?" And then he prayed a beautiful prayer over us as we all held hands. Chris and I both said his comment of "thank you for noticing me" really broke our hearts.

I know that we can sometimes get calloused because of all the people standing on street corners collecting money.  But I have learned to listen to my heart and God's prompting.  There is usually something I feel inside when I know that God is calling me to reach out to someone.  That night, even though we were the only ones on the street, something inside both of us told us to stop.  And his words, "Thank you for noticing me", continue to haunt me.  It is so easy to hand someone money or a bottle of water or whatever you choose to do and be on your way.  But his words will make me be more intentional about really looking them in the eyes and really noticing them.  Because so many times, no one else will even look their way; much less look them in the eyes.

 Jesus "noticed" the woman at the well and had a conversation with her when others just stood around talking about her.  How many times do we really "notice" people around us.  When others are talking about someone they see, do we talk along with them, or do we "notice" them and do something about it.

It is really easy to get so wrapped up in where we are going that we don't "notice" what or who is around us.  I want to pay attention.  I want to be aware of my circumstances and those around me.  I want to see people the way Jesus did.  I want to be brave and not afraid to have those conversations that others may not want to have.  I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  It is my prayer that we will all begin to "notice" people more.


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

How Well Do We Trust?

As I was reading my devotional book from Sarah Young this morning, this was today's message....

"I want you to learn a new habit. Try saying, "I trust You, Jesus," in response to whatever happens to you. If there is time, think about who I am in all My Power and Glory; ponder also the depth and breath of My Love for you. This simple practice will help you see Me in every situation, acknowledging My sovereign control over the universe. When you view events from this perspective - through the Light of My universal Presence - fear loses its grip on you. Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your trust in Me no matter what. You receive blessings gratefully, realizing they flow directly from My hand of grace. Your continual assertion of trusting Me will strengthen our relationship and keep you close to Me."

Some days more than others I need to be reminded of this truth. I do trust Jesus always. But my actions don't always convey my complete trust. Trust is easy when things are going well, but it's in the tough times that trust is so important. THAT trust, will grow a deeper relationship with God as you trust Him "no matter what"

May the new year bring each of us into a deeper relationship with Him as we "trust". Will you join me in remembering.... "I trust You Jesus!"..... every day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The One Who Sits on the Throne

I do not post, comment or like anything political.  And this will not be a political statement either, but rather an observation.

My observation is this... I do not like what politics does to people.  Regardless of what side, person, agenda you want to follow, we are all still human beings.  I have observed people on both sides post or say extremely hateful things.  I have observed people on both sides who are Christians but who react to things in such a way that it is not Christ-like, and I have observed how the world is watching people tearing each other apart.

Regardless of who wins this election, if things continue along the same path, the only person who is truly winning is Satan.  He is sitting back watching as Christians on both sides continue to tear each other apart rather than remembering our leader is not of this world.  He is sitting back watching as people say and do things and post things that are not becoming of a Christian.  He is sitting back watching as the world continues to focus on candidates rather than on Christ.

Social media, and media in general, have become the devil's playground.  Words are said that should not be said and cannot be taken back, darkness is taking a stronghold in people's hearts and people are forgetting that regardless of what happens with this election, there is still only one King on the throne.

Each person has to do what they filled called to do and be willing to let others do the same without judgement.  And regardless of which candidate ultimate wins, God can still use them.  God used prostitutes and murderers, he can surely use democrats and republicans.  God has always used people we might not deem worthy to do amazing things.  This time is no different.

Chris ran across this picture today of a painting from the artist, Heather Theurer.  I love the imagery in this painting.  It reminds me that no matter what evil or darkness might be lurking around, their is still sanctuary in Christ.  There are so many other, useful things that all of this political energy could be spent on.  Things that would glorify God, rather than make us an easy target for Satan.  My prayer is that we all remember Whose we are!

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth 
and on the sea, and all that is in them saying:
To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
forever and ever!"   Revelation 5:13


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whose Painting Your Picture?

A quote popped up on my news feed today from my friend Jeremy Miller who is an artist.  I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

The quote is by Henry Ward Beecher.... "Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."

While this is true about every artist, I could not help but think of "The Artist, The Creator".  Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God.  But this quote.... it literally paints a picture in my mind.

To think of being created in God's own image is sometimes hard to fathom, but how incredible is it to think of God dipping His own brush into His own soul, to paint and create His own nature which is You!  For me that word picture is just amazing.  I imagine God painting and creating every one us to look like Him, but at the same time creating all of us to be uniquely us.

Even when an artist repaints a picture he has already created, it is never exactly the same as the original.  So it is with God.  We are created in His image, but we can never be exactly the same as God, only Jesus can do that.  But I love that as an artist, God created each of us in his own image, but created each us in ways that are unique.  Ways that give each of us unique gifts and ways to reach others.  Each of us has been through something that has made us unique.  That uniqueness is how God uses us to reach everyone.  One of us cannot reach everyone, but each of us through our uniqueness has gifts to share with people who may find themselves walking a path similar to ours.  And through our differences we become One in Him and that's what allows us to reach everyone.

Celebrate your uniqueness.... because God painted you by dipping His brush into His own soul to create you!  And then, keep your eyes open... because God will put people in your path that only "your painting" can reach.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well"  Psalm 139:14 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

I haven't written in a while.  But today I read an article written by my son-in-law, Warren Gray, that was published for Mavs Moneyball.  As I'm sure you know, I love all sports!  MAVS included! So of course, I read the article. (I would have any because it was written by Warren!) If you are a MAVS fan, check out Warren's article here.  

Not only do Warren and I have a love for sports in common, we also have a love for the Lord, a love for His church and a love for His people in common.  Warren's article talks about a "what if" situation where as a fan would you not watch the MAVS for an entire season, including playoffs, if it meant they would win The Finals.  As I read his article, I could not help but relate it to how we as people sometimes see the church.  As people in church we always want things to be going "what we call well" or maybe "our way".  We want to always be on top or at least what we think it means for the church to be on top.  Which typically means we want things to be going our way or done or way.

But just like in sports, we don't always have things going our way... because there is someone else in charge.  For the MAVS, it's Mark Cuban... for the church it's God.  Sometimes when we think things are not going the way we think they should be, our first instinct is to bail.  Kind of like how people's first instinct is to bail on their favorite sports team if they start losing.  But if you bail, you don't get to be a part of all of the good things that might happen "at the end of that particular season".  You don't get to see the end game.  No matter what we may think of any given situation, God is always in control... even in and especially in, our churches.  And if we want to see where God is taking us, we have to stick around and be a part of the valleys if we ultimately want to see what is happening up on the mountaintop.

No doubt, sometimes the valleys are hard and sometimes they are long, but isn't it worth it to stick together through the valleys so that you can be a part of the mountaintop? God's word is full of times of difficulty that culminate in mountaintop experiences.  But you always have to go through the valley on the way to the mountaintop.  To me... the mountaintop is worth the wait and the sacrifice it requires.

I ran across a quote from Patrick Mead this week... And it has been fitting for more than one occasion this week.  (I love the way God works like that!)  

"God doesn't take the broken pieces of our lives and put them back together again; He rearranges them into a new mosaic, a stained glass window thru which His Son can shine."  

He does the same thing through the broken pieces of our churches.  And what are the broken pieces of our church.... we are.  The church is not a building.  The church is the people that are inside of it.  The church is you.  And if we commit to sticking together and sticking around until the mountaintop, we will be part of a beautiful masterpiece that His son can shine through out into the world.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rest = Restore

We have a new sermon series beginning next week entitled "Restore" in which we will be going through Luke 10.  At Highland Oaks we have graphics to highlight each sermon series and various events.  In the graphic for "Restore" the word Rest in Restore is highlighted.  It was like the word Rest was jumping off the page at me.  I started thinking about restoring my spirit and thought in order to do that I need to first "rest".  Not only to rest physically and mentally (which I need), but I also need to rest with God.  It's only in "rest" that I can be restored.

A couple of songs also came to mind immediately when I saw the word restore.

Restore My Soul
The song Create in Me a Clean Heart has in one of the verses "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation"

It really made me start thinking that in order to be "restored" I must first "rest".  I looked up the definitions of 3 words and listed a few of the definitions I saw for each.

relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs
a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility  
mental or spiritual calm; tranquility
to be quiet or still
to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor
to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition
to reproduce or reconstruct
to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost)
to restore or replenish
to revive; reestablish
to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again
to begin again; recommence
To me, all 3 of the words connect to each other in some way.  And for me, "rest" is at the beginning of each one.  If I want to bring myself back to a former state of health, (restore) sometimes I have to "rest" first.  If I want to renew my spirit, I have to "rest"... physically, mentally and spiritually.  If I want to reconnect with God because times have been stressful and crazy, I first have to "rest" with Him.  Rest is such an important part of ours lives.  It's required for a sound mind, it's required for a sound body and it's required in order for us to make a connection with the Almighty.
To be restored, I must first rest. And restored may not mean restored to my former self, it most likely means restored to the person that God is calling me to be.  It may mean restored to see through His eyes; it may mean restored to act upon His visions; it may be restored think more like Him.  In fact, one of the definitions of restore is to give back.  God has given us so much.  It's time for us to rest, be restored, and give back to others what God has so freely given to us.
May we all find rest in Him; and may be we restored to think, smell, act, see and love like Jesus.  
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30