For Such A Time As This

Maximizing everyday moments to glorify God

Give Thanks

Note: This is a repost, but the message hasn’t changed! It’s easy to be thankful when things are good, when we have plenty and when circumstances are going in our favor. The real test is when life seems to be dealing blow after blow. But what I have experienced, and am slowly learning, is that being thankful in ALL not only makes the challenging times more bearable, it shifts my focus away from the issue at hand, and opens my heart and eyes to the greater purpose and blessing that God has for me. On this Thanksgiving, I pray to be thankful and joyful in all things – and that is my prayer for you as well. Blessings.

A Thankful Heart

Thankful:  conscious of benefit received (source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

thanksgiving-prayerTo express thankfulness requires us to realize that something has been done for our benefit, on our behalf.

Its Thanksgiving week, and our “thankfulness radar” is heightened. We pause to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. That is a good thing. It’s only right to consciously acknowledge those things in our lives for which we are grateful.

But, what about those things in life that are hard? Can we be thankful for them, too? I say yes. Not because it’s something I want or prefer, but because the Bible tells us to, for a reason.

“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (NLT)

Paul’s letter doesn’t say to give thanks for some things or for the good things.”  He tells us to give thanks for everything.

Being thankful, to me, means that my perspective is on a higher level than the everyday circumstances in my life. It means that I can see beyond what is happening in the moment and recognize that God is at work, using it, and all my circumstances for good in the end.

When I think back on the past few years, I can trace a path of God’s hand in my life. He was there through some really hard times. As I reflect on them, I can honestly thank Him for those times. Because not only did I grow closer to Him, I learned what it really means to be obedient. I learned that even in the good times, the only true, steady thing I can count on is Him.

It makes me begin to see the blessings in life like ornaments on a Christmas tree – they are nice additions; appreciated, cherished and enjoyable, but not necessary for the tree to survive. If I can begin to see the blessings in my life in that light, I will appreciate and cherish them, but not need them more than I need Jesus.

What I am most thankful for is that He chose to come to Earth and die in my place in order for me to have a place to call home for eternity, with Him. There’s nothing, no blessing or circumstance here that could compare with that.

And that, is, as the dictionary puts it, the “benefit received” of all benefits received.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Enough

Jesus is enough. That was the title of one of my devotional studies this morning. Essentially, the message was, when we get to the point where all we have is Jesus, we have all we need. I’m guilty of thinking I need things like possessions, comfort, prosperity, prestige, you name it. I’ve also gotten comfortable and possibly off track in remembering that first and foremost, I need Jesus. Everything else is just above and beyond blessing.

God can take the minimal scraps of my life and turn them into something I never expected. He is able to make something from nothing. He is able to sustain without all the typical fanfare that I’ve become accustomed to having. When I’m at rock bottom, He works in ways that only He can.

God drove this point home later this morning. I got to church service and it was not “normal.” More people than normal were milling around outside the doors and it looked like the lobby was especially crowded. I made my way inside and learned there was no power on the campus. So, church was gathering in the lobby to make use of the outside light. Crowded, cramped and unable to hear, I considered leaving. And then I got a call from my friend who was there, and looking for me. She found me, grabbed my hand and led me up to where she had nestled a spot near the front.

12189717_10207489097495961_3008518694113925231_nNo microphones, no electric guitars, not video screens. Just acoustic worship and a message that reminded us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. My heart moved and tears welled up. This life can throw many hardships at us. Life can take twists and turns that we never expect. Life can take away everything we think we need. But then, that’s where God meets us. If I hold everything loosely, knowing it is a gift from God, my perspective is right.

When I heard worship service wouldn’t be “normal” I fretted. All the things that I thought I needed were essentially stripped away. No chairs, no electricity, no “experience.” How wrong I was. There was more power in that place than I have felt in a long time.

Because Jesus is enough. Period.

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Like a rose

The nights are getting chilly. Where I live, temperatures are starting to drop and soon, snow will be falling as winter is ushered in. I love fall. The air is crisp, the colors are brilliant and yet, it isn’t too cold.

This time of year, the roses in my garden are in bloom. They are vibrant and beautiful. So, when we had our first frost warning of the season the other night, I went out to cover them, hoping to preserve them a bit longer. There was a bud on one of the stems. I debated about cutting it to bring it in and put in a vase. The edges were a little dark and I wondered if it would even bloom inside. I figured, why not, and clipped it. I put it in my little bud vase at the kitchen sink.

To my delight, that little bud not only bloomed, but it released an incredible fragrance as well. It was just stunning. When it opened, those dark, dry edges were no longer visible and in fact, I almost forgot they were ever there in the first place.

roseAs I was admiring the beauty of that little rose, I felt God’s whisper. “You’re like that rose.”

It’s easy to focus on our flaws, on those dark edges and dry spots that we’d like to get rid of. I can easily get trapped in the snare by the enemy to believe that because of my flaws, I’m of no use for God. In fact, that is exactly what the enemy would want us to believe. Because then he wins. We miss out on the gift of blessing others and bringing glory to God.

Let me remind (me and) you, that this is not true. God doesn’t see that when He looks at us. In fact, God can use our flaws and rough spots for His glory. When He looks at us, He sees His son or daughter. We are His creation and He doesn’t make mistakes.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:14 NLT)

There is great beauty and value in each of us. Like a rose, we can blossom and be a fragrant gift to others, bringing glory to the One who created us.

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Just say “yes”

“In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.” (John 17:18 MSG)

Five years!

Five years ago, a small group of women decided to tackle a half-marathon as a way to celebrate a milestone birthday. In the process, they were able to raise money for a cause.

Today, more than 300 people are part of what is now called “Team Freedom.” This team raises money to help fight human trafficking through an organization called Hope for Justice. In that time, we have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help rescue and restore the lives of those trapped in slavery. While that is an incredible accomplishment, there is much more to be done. And Team Freedom has no intention of stopping.

Four years ago, I laced up my running shoes and joined the fight. I wasn’t a runner by any means. But, after that first year when I heard the stories of women trapped in the sex slave trade, my heart broke. I remember literally sobbing after hearing the story of one young girl. The thought entered my mind, “I HAVE to do something.” God has called us to be a light in a dark world. Well, it doesn’t get much darker than the horrific world of human trafficking. I simply said, yes. I’ll do it. God called me to be a part of this mission and whether I am a runner or not, I’m in.

I've been running with Team Freedom for four years and I have no intention of stopping!

I’ve been running with Team Freedom for four years and I have no intention of stopping!

Fast forward to today. I have completed three half-marathons, two 15K’s and numerous 10K’s and 5K’s. I certainly don’t say that to brag. I say that because my heart remains on fire for this cause and running is how we help. Every day, I wear a bracelet made by a woman who was rescued. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of why I run.

In February of 2016, I will run more miles than I have ever attempted, 25.5 miles over two days. The reason? To give a face to this problem. To hopefully open a conversation with people who may not realize how big this issue really is. Today, there are more than 29 million slaves in the world. That’s more than any other time in the history of the world. I cannot sit by and do nothing. I pray that you would stand in agreement with me on that point.

The stories of the bondage are mind-boggling and stomach-turning. However, the stories of recovery and redemption are like sunshine bursting through dark clouds, bright and stunning.

Jesus didn’t offer me salvation to sit with it on a shelf and wait to go to Heaven. He called me to go out into this broken world and make a difference. To get involved. To step outside my comfort zone and do something, anything, whatever it is that He leads me to do. He made it abundantly clear this was a cause, a team that I needed to be involved with.

Would you please consider helping me reach my fundraising goal of $500? Anything helps and it’s an easy process. Just visit my fundraising site here.

God has given me this mission. And I trust that He will equip that mission by keeping me healthy for training and bringing in donations. Saying “yes” is the first step. I’ve said “yes,” will you?

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God still wins #neverforget

Today marks 14 years since the very fabric of our country was torn. A terrorist attack of unimaginable proportions on our own soil. Most of us can vividly remember exactly where we were when the news began to break. We can remember the pain and heartbreak of watching the towers fall. We remember the unity of our country as we joined in prayer and protection.

My friends at The JoyFM in Florida put together this incredible timeline of the events of that day. Every time I hear it, I sob. But, in the end, I am reassured that my hope, our hope, lies in God. And God was there that day. And He’s still here today. Always has been, always will. No act of cowardice terrorism will ever take that away. Never. Ever. Ever.

God wins.

#‎neverforget‬

 Please take the time to listen to the timeline I have shared from their Facebook post.
God Bless America.
The Morning Cruise's photo.

Our phone lines have been busy this morning as many of you have requested the 9/11 Timeline that we shared today. On this day, we will Never Forget. http://themorningcruise.com/911-timeline/

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Why Kathy Lee has peace even after the death of her husband.

Please take 8 minutes to watch this. The underlying message is what is important to understand – the only true peace is found in God. The only way to Heaven is through His grace – not by anything else. He is enough. If you died today, would your family have the kind of peace that Kathy Lee has? Do you know for sure? Do they know for sure?

Don’t waste any more valuable time. Eternity is far too important. Far more important than anything we face here on Earth.
Pass this along to someone who might benefit!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tlCKgb3LvU
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Divine Protection

I could have died today. Heading to work, traveling in the center lane on the highway, a semi on my right suddenly came over without any warning. To my left, a pickup truck. Behind me, a van. I was completely helpless and boxed in with nowhere to go. Somehow, NONE of them hit me. In a matter of a split second, I could have been crushed in a tangled mess of metal and concrete, traveling 75 miles an hour. To be completely honest, I can’t logically understand how I wasn’t.

Logically.

But spiritually, I can see it as plain as day.

The only explanation that makes any sense is that God sent the angels to protect me. Simple as that. Psalm 91:11-16 says:

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

God has told me that there is something He has planned for me. Something I do not yet know about. Something, obviously, the enemy is aware of and has him shaken. Because the enemy is doing everything he can to prevent it. Well, today, God sent His angels to lift me up in their hands and protect me, and I am grateful.

God has also reminded me that He has me securely held in His palm. He has said, “never have fear because nothing can take you out unless I say so.” And today, He said no.

Seeing the world in the natural can be a frightening, unnerving experience. There are unexplainable happenings that can rip your heart open and shake you to the core. I’ve seen this just this week.  We can crumble under the weight of the things of this world, or we can stand firm in our faith.

I have to choose faith. When the world doesn’t make sense, I have to raise my eyes upward and ask God for peace. When grief grabs a hold of your very core, He is the only one who can bring comfort. When it seems like everything is falling apart, He comes alongside to whisper, “I’m here. I’ve got you.”

Why does He choose to do this? Why did He spare me today? Love.

He. Loves. Us. That. Much.

It’s as simple and complex as that.

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Who’s really to blame?

11200810_10206624359918062_3756386465695936549_nThis verse was printed along the top of a little community newspaper that came in yesterday’s mail. As I was gathering items to throw out, the paper being one of them, the words grabbed my attention and caused me to stop.

What perfect perspective.

Before I was saved, something that happened later in life, I was a well-seasoned sinner. My lifestyle reflected nothing of my upbringing in a church. I made choices that, but for the grace of God, would and could have killed me or rendered consequences that were life altering. And, I reveled in it. I certainly didn’t care to hear that my choices were 1) wrong, or 2) hurting me and others or especially, 3) going directly against what the Bible said.

Shoot, at that time, I didn’t even own a Bible. But I thought I was pretty righteous because I:

  • followed religious practices
  • prayed when I wanted something
  • apologized when I really messed up (only to revert to my wicked ways yet again)

But when something went seriously wrong, I had the nerve to ask God why, and even be mad at Him for letting that “happen to me.” I blamed Him for all my poor choices and the consequences thereof.

Now, I have two teenagers and have learned many lessons while struggling to raise them. One of the earliest lessons was trying to figure out how to administer consequences in love. When they purposely chose to do wrong, even after fair warning, the only option was punishment. As an over-protective mom, often times I just wanted to let things go. But, they had to know their choices were wrong and that there were punishments that had to follow disobedience.

God has used this to teach me. In reflecting on my pre-saved self, I can trace a solid line between my poor choices and the consequences of pain they caused. I have also realized that the blame is not on God, it’s all on me. But, in repentance and grace, I am forgiven.

These days, we see far too often that we revel in sin choices that go directly against what the Bible, what God, has directed. Our culture has become all too accepting of actions and choices that are nothing short of spitting in God’s holy face because we think we know better than Him. We think our happiness and comfort are more important than His righteousness.

We are wrong.

Sadly, if we don’t see the error of our ways, we will reap the kinds of consequences none wants to see. Those who are in Christ will spend eternity with Him. But those who choose their own way, walking against God, will find that this will be their eternal destiny. And it won’t be a choice they can reverse.

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A prayer

These are trying times, indeed. As I grapple with things going on in my life and the bigger world, its tempting to get discouraged. But, this morning, this is the cry of my heart. Will you stand in prayer with me? Blessings!

Lord, I don’t understand all the uncertainties of this life. But, I do know that nothing is a surprise to you and no matter how bleak things may appear through my eyes, you have a viewpoint that is beyond the scope of my capacity. You can take a seemingly hopeless situation and turn it into something beautiful. Help me to respond today in a manner that honors and glorifies you and serves as your light in this very dark world. Thank you for loving us in spite of all we do that rejects You and Your commands. Thank you for sacrificing your son in order that we may have eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!

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Give it an hour

We live in an area that could be considered the country, sort of. It’s not a traditional neighborhood – there are fields all around us. For most of the past couple weeks, we’ve seen an unusual amount of rain. Nearly every day. Couple that with a schedule that leaves little time for luxuries like gardening, and I have a yard overflowing with weeds.

It seemed overwhelming. I’d see it driving home and feel the panic of knowing I was getting close to shutting down about it. It had nearly gotten to the point that I might not be able to pull the weeds, even if I had the time. Some were becoming small bushes.

It was bad, I tell you.

But today, I received an unexpected blessing. An unplanned power outage caused my office to close for the day and I found myself with the gift of time.

I was thinking about my endless to-do list, trying to determine the best use of my time when I felt a nudge. “Give it an hour,” I heard. I wondered what difference an hour would make, but I put my gloves on and headed out to the front yard.

It was hard work. Wet, heavy, big weeds had overtaken my front flower bed. But rather than look at all that I had to do, I decided to focus on a little area. Start there and see. And from that area, I moved to another, and another. And in that hour’s time, what do you know? It made a significant difference in the appearance of the front of the house. It’s not perfect, but it has given me a level of confidence and energy to keep at it. I’m inspired to do more.

Credit: Dr. James Dobson

Credit: Dr. James Dobson

Isn’t it like that when we spend time with God? We get so rushed and hurried in our daily lives that we forget to take the time and spend it in His awesome presence.  Just taking those moments to thank Him and remember all He has done for me brings me back to the place of reverence and awe that He deserves in my life.

What if, like my garden, I gave Him an hour? An hour of just being with Him. How much different would my life and my perspective be? How much more joy would I have?

I think I need to rededicate my efforts and see. Perhaps when I heard, “give it an hour,” that wasn’t so much about pulling the weeds in my garden as it was to pull the weeds out of my life and honor Him with my time?

Are you with me?

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