God is Doing a New Thing!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV

Hello, dear one.

It’s been five months since I last opened the Scriptures with you. I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly! I’ve missed sharing God’s Word with you. Thanks for sticking around.

I’ll be honest with you. When God called me to take a Sabbath rest from my weekly teaching posts, I wasn’t sure what that would mean for the ministry.

Don’t get me wrong. I looked forward to the rest. The freedom from weekly deadlines. Time for my body to heal and to seek the Lord with new fervor. But humanly, it’s hard to let go of the work and trust that when you return, you’ll still have people to serve.

I’ve come to believe that rest requires more faith than work does. Rest trusts that God will still do His thing while you rest from yours. That He still holds everything together for you. That nothing slips from the gaze of the One who never sleeps.

And as I connect with you again during this season of rest from blogging, God has been so faithful. He has never stopped working and moving in this ministry. In fact, as 1 Corinthians 2:9 challenges us to believe, God has exceeded my expectations.

But, as it is written, “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Have you ever experienced a beyond imagining move of God in your life? I pray you have, dear one. But if not, I invite you to trust Him for more. He may just knock your socks off.

These past months I have sought God’s heart over His vision for this ministry, asking Him to articulate our mission so we could step boldly into His plan. Three simple statements have emerged that encompass our calling:

Reveal Christ.

Live Truth.

Love People.

Simple, yet profound. Our mission in a nutshell. Reveal Christ to a needy world through our character and our faith. Live according to His Word, releasing the power of His Truth.

And love.

Really love.

Everyone. Not just those who love us. We need to love those who don’t.

Why?

Because love is God’s heartbeat, beloved. Love describes His very being. God doesn’t just love in action (Romans 5:8). He is love (1 John 4:8). And His love holds the power to redeem and transform.

But it must be given. Freely.

“Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8b NIV

Like Jesus did.

We must learn to live from our heavenly identity and catch people with Christ’s love. Because when love enters, darkness trembles. Hell cowers to God’s presence. And lives change.

I believe that with all my heart, dear one. And I aim to let God prove it.

So, we have stepped in faith to invest in a ministry space. A place where we can teach God’s Word, gather churches to pray, and to minister to hurting people. A place to store provisions for needy families and introduce the broken to God’s love.

And as we stepped in faith, God moved! He brought others to us who wanted to invest in what we’re doing. Builders, plumbers, and electricians offered time and resources to build our offices. A business donated desks and office equipment. Volunteers helped move our Love LIVES donations from our old storage facility in just a few hours.

And now we look at what God has built in a few short months with awe and gratitude. His Spirit leads with vision for the days ahead. And joy floods my heart for what He has yet to do beyond my ability to dream.

So to mark this new phase of ministry, we’ve developed a new logo, centered on the Word of God and boldly proclaiming our mission.

Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We invite you to join us in our mission.

Reveal Christ. Live Truth. Love People

It will change everything.

Take a quick peek at the warehouse God has blessed us with

Below are photos from our new Love LIVES warehouse where through God’s provision, we meet the needs of abuse victims and broken families in our community. It offers an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by providing for financial, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. In meeting the most basic of human needs, we build trust. This lays a foundation that enables us to share the love of Christ and the good news of the Gospel.

We invite you to join us in all the new things God is doing through prayer and financial support.

When God Says Rest

When God Says Rest

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10

Two years ago, after a women’s conference at my home church, I had the opportunity to share a word of encouragement with the speaker. I didn’t know at the time that God would intertwine our paths and allow us to serve alongside one another at several future events. But as I hugged her and withdrew, offering her smiles and warm words, she looked deep into my eyes and spoke a word to me.

“God says rest.”

Her gaze seemed to reach into my soul, and I sensed my Father in it. Her message reinforced something God had already been stirring up in my heart. He called me deeper. To the abiding place, where I would no longer go in and out from His presence. Instead, I would remain there. In that place, I would learn rest in Him.

I acknowledged that to her, and she spoke once more.

“It’s deeper. It’s deeper than that.”

Her words have lingered, surfacing off and on these last two years as I’ve sought to fulfill the call God has placed on my life. I know with certainty that God calls me to deep rest. But I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t known how to find it.

And all the while, Galatians 6:9 beckons relentlessly.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Sometimes our mandates from God can become the very thing the enemy uses to destroy us. The slave driver convinces us to bow under oppression once more. Only this time, we bow in the Name of Jesus. After all, we must continually sow if we hope to reap.

That thinking seems right—even noble—at first glance. But it negates another equally important mandate, one that God finds so significant, He incorporated it into the ten commandments.

“Remember the Sabbath… to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8

God extends two invitations through scripture that seem at cross purposes. Tireless perseverance. And Sabbath rest.

Do you ever find yourself caught in the pull of these two callings? I do. And let’s be honest. If our hearts lean toward Kingdom purposes, the one we more readily let go of is rest. We keep going. Pushing. Believing that God will honor our faithfulness and look with praise upon our efforts.

But does God ever turn a blind eye when we willfully dishonor His Word?

Beloved, God takes His Sabbaths seriously. We often get caught up in work. God wants us caught by Him. And you may be surprised that God links our Sabbaths with how much He will prosper our sowing and reaping.

“When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.” Leviticus 25:2-5

Perhaps you’re wondering how the Israelites were supposed to survive a year without sowing and reaping. God anticipated your question and gave His answer in verses 20-21.

 “And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years.”

Israel would work for six years and reap an average harvest. But when they rested in obedience to God, He would provide an abundance.

Oh, beloved. Isn’t that what our hearts yearn for? God’s own provision? I will command my blessing on you… a crop sufficient for three years.

When we trust God with Sabbath rests, people will witness Him. They’ll see God manifesting in ways He never could when we’re busy doing everything for Him. They’ll see a harvest that does not match our efforts, but instead surpasses it.

They’ll witness glory.

You see, beloved. Rest takes trust. It trusts that God will keep His Word and provide. It acknowledges that the harvest doesn’t rest on our shoulders, but on God’s.

But what happens if we refuse? What if we insist on working straight through His Sabbaths? God will remove us from our inheritance.

“And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.”

“Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.” Leviticus 26:33-35

God manifests through grace, and only humble faith taps into its generous flow. God invites us—has invited me—to trust Him with rest. The invitation once gently offered through a serving sister, “God says rest,” no longer surfaces and retreats. It resounds.

So I am tucking myself away with my God for a while, remembering the Sabbath, and doing all I know to keep it holy. You see, that second part remains the most important. We’re not to rest from God. He is our rest. In our Sabbaths, we visit with Him. He fills us. Nourishes us. Equips us to keep doing the work.

Jesus spoke of Sabbaths in Mark 2:27.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

I will be taking a break from sharing my Word on Wednesday for a bit—at least through the end of the year. We’ll see what God reveals to me in that time and if He releases me to resume in January. I smile inwardly, considering that this month will complete 6 years of official ministry and continual, weekly sowing. No detail goes unnoticed by God.

I invite you to pray for me. For healing. For discernment. For revelation. For rest.

I look forward to watching Him bring His harvest.

When Praying for Something Costs You

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

I. Love. Cheese.

Passionately. Cheddar. Asiago. Parmesan. I’ve always lived by the mantra that cheese makes everything better. Especially when melted.

Until recently, that is. A surprise autoimmune diagnosis this summer after several weeks of not feeling well stole dairy from my life in one shocking moment of disbelief in a doctor’s office. I wish I could say that was all. Hopelessness began descending like a heavy weight as the doc ran down the list of things I couldn’t eat while we try to reset my digestive system so my immune system stops attacking me.

Essentially, I’m allowed to eat meat, fruits and vegetables. Oh, and nuts. The doc was kind enough to throw nuts back in the mix, removing them from the off-limits list after a glance at me. Apparently, he has a soft spot for women on the verge of tears.

I think perhaps we all go through times when life seems to throw one curveball after another. This has been one of those seasons. And dealing with loss, two cancer diagnoses, ministry challenges, and hurting children seems a little easier with comfort food.

I’ll admit I gave in momentarily to that inner dialog that occurs when something doesn’t seem fair. I already eat far better than my immediate family members. I exercise regularly. Logic says this shouldn’t be happening to someone who tries to take good care of her temple.

But suddenly I find myself in a place where God is requiring more. And when I first heard the news, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it.

Who wants to give up cookies, brownies and ice cream? Or even mashed potatoes, for crying out loud? And let’s not forget the cheese.

But even before I met with God in prayer to begin to sort all this out, I knew. He was in this. This filtered into my life from His own hand. You see, I’ve been asking Him for something for several years. Something I prayed with bold faith and expectation. This broken vessel has been crying out to God to manifest the work of the cross in my life. I have repeatedly asked Him to empower me live the promise of Galatians 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The crucifixion of our flesh is something we like in theory but rarely care for practically. It’s one of those themes in scripture we often skirt around. We may have the guts to crucify things we view as big, obvious sin. But what about those things that don’t appear to us as sin at all? What about things that may even appear good to us but somehow hinder the race He’s called us to run (Hebrews 12:1)?

I have repeatedly asked Jesus to put to death every bit of my flesh that resists Him. I want His Spirit to reign over every part of me. And I believed my words as I proclaimed these desires to the Savior who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Until He began to show me how much I really resisted Him. Apparently, I didn’t mean the part that loves cheese and baked goods.

We humans tend to compartmentalize. We’ll readily give Jesus access to some places. But others we reserve for ourselves. We’ll give Him our service, but we guard our cravings. Some part of us believes we have a right to them. And we wrap it all up with the notion that our God of blessing wants us to be happy.

And He does. He just wants to be the source of that happiness. He wants us living bound to the notion of Psalm 16:11.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God doesn’t want us seeking to find joy in His blessings. He wants us knowing He is the blessing.

God doesn’t want us seeking to find joy in His blessings. He wants us knowing He is the blessing. Click To Tweet

Sometimes surrender is easy. Sometimes we go kicking and screaming. But the question remains. Will we go?

Will we ask Him to take us to His very best for us and be willing to follow where He leads? Will we go even if no one else goes with us?

Even though my flesh at times resists Him, I’m thankful for a God who answers prayer. And even though the road is often hard and bumpy, He’s worth the trip.

The death of my flesh isn’t the only thing I’ve been asking God for. I’ve also been praying for wisdom and understanding of His Word that will break open the darkness binding much of the church and release His bride to shine brightly in the beauty of the cross.

Look at what link He just showed me again in scripture.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.… And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. Daniel 1:8, 20

God honored Daniel’s fast with wisdom and understanding that astounded the world. Only He knows how He’ll honor mine.

I’m not arguing with God anymore. Hopeful expectation has overshadowed that feeling of hopelessness. The King of Kings stands ready to move in my life as I willingly submit and trust Him with my future.

He won’t disappoint.

Oh, beloved. What are you willing to seek God for?

stubborn hard heart

The Danger of a Hard Heart

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14

Sometimes life just gets hard. Particularly when you have to watch people you love suffer. We hurt when they hurt, and we don’t like it. So when people or circumstances inflict pain, our hearts get a little stony toward those responsible. We want to shut them out at best, and at worst, give them a taste of their own medicine.

But something happens when we allow our hearts to harden toward people. They begin to harden toward God.

You see, God loves people. He’s for them. All of them. And He offered up His Son on a cross to rekindle selfless love in the hearts of humanity. So the still, small voice of Jesus will incline our hearts toward mercy. Forgiveness. Love that covers a multitude of sin. Truth.

And when we insist on something else—anger, bitterness, retribution, deception—we harden our hearts to the leadership of our Lord. If we persist in denying Him, we will find ourselves in serious trouble.

Look at how God responds to perpetually hardening our hearts to His voice.

And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim. Jeremiah 7:13-15

When we allow our hearts to harden toward what God is speaking, we harden our hearts toward God. And when we bear His name—claiming a position in His house—He will not tolerate our refusal of Him indefinitely. When we persist in disregarding His Word, eventually His presence withdraws and we relinquish the safety He brings.

That’s not all. God added this astonishing command to Jeremiah in verse 16.

“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”

Can you imagine how Jeremiah must have felt hearing those words? God commanded him not to pray for these people who bore God’s name.

Judgment had fallen against the people of God. And Jeremiah couldn’t stop it. God told him not to even try.

I wonder if that thought unsettles you like it does me. God instructed Jeremiah not to intercede. He would not hear prayer on the matter. Surely this seems out of God’s character.

But this wasn’t the only time it happened. Here’s another.

For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart…”

 Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. Jeremiah 11:7-11

Did you notice in both passages that God warned them persistently? Over and over, God extended mercy, imploring them to respond. Yet these members of God’s house repeatedly rejected His cries, refusing to acknowledge His desires. Their hardened hearts unleashed consequences that could not be undone.

And again God commanded Jeremiah.

“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?…” Verses 14-15

Oh, brothers and sisters. Verse 15 brings me to my knees. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?

Indeed. What rights can we expect God to honor when we abuse our position in His house? How long will He suffer us to disregard Him when He speaks?

Are you listening, beloved?

It’s easy to feel discouraged by the condition of the church today. In many places, an enemy has misconstrued grace for license. Holiness seems foreign. The people of God resemble the world far more than Jesus. We build our own kingdoms with little regard for Christ’s.

Yet with all of this, something stirs deep within me.

Hope.

You see. God hasn’t commanded me not to pray. Quite the contrary. His Spirit calls me to my knees. And that, beloved, means we have not yet wandered so far that we can’t return.

Do you hear Him calling too?

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15

God speaks, beloved. Our future depends on how we respond.

The Power to Live Your Calling

We need each other.

As much as we may like to think we can handle things ourselves, scripture teaches that we need one another. God Himself declared His thoughts on the matter in Genesis 2:18 after forming Adam from the earth’s dust.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

For five straight days, God opened His mouth and spoke creation into being. Light emerged. Then ground as water separated. Then plants and animals. And each time, God looked at what He’d made and declared it good.

Until He made man. He saw that he was alone, and declared it “not good.” Adam didn’t even realize it, but he needed a helper.

You, dear one, need helpers too. We all do. We were never created to work alone. We were made to live together and help one another.

Even Jesus needed people. He called together twelve that would help Him. And although Jesus went off by Himself to pray, He ministered with people. When He sent people out, He never sent them alone.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” Mark 11:1-3

And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.” Mark 14:13

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. Luke 10:1

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3

Apparently, God still thinks it isn’t good for us to serve alone. We need helpers. But I wonder if you noticed a common thread woven through each scripture. God chooses them.

The same way He spoke creation’s story, He’s spoken yours. He has knit together the perfect plan and chosen the perfect people to help you accomplish it. But you’ll only discover it when you seek Him to reveal it. Even Jesus had to seek His Father’s direction over who would serve with Him.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles. Luke 6:12-13

Have you opened your heart to new, godly relationships? Are you connecting with the body of Christ, or do you allow the enemy to pull you away and separate you?

Tremendous blessings fall when believers unite in Jesus name for His purpose. Jesus shared one of them in Matthew 18:20.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus manifests when we unite in His name.

You may have noticed that elders laid hands on Saul and Barnabas before sending them out in ministry (Acts 13:3). God has captured my attention with another mention of laying hands.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6

Take a moment to meditate on that scripture. Paul writes that Timothy received a spiritual gift through the laying on of hands, and he charges him to fan it into flame. I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus manifests when we gather in His name.

1 Timothy 4:14 offers this additional information about Timothy’s gift.

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

Paul paints an interesting picture for us. Believers uniting in Jesus’ name, seeking God’s will to declare over their brother, released the heavenly power to accomplish the task. Romans 10:17 seems appropriate here.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

What if the faith exercised in believing Christ’s word spoken over a believer releases the grace to accomplish the task—ignites the spiritual gift?

Scripture gives us lots to chew on. But on this point, God remains clear. He wants us uniting with Him and others to advance His kingdom.

Perhaps it’s time to open your heart to those He’s called you to serve with. He may just speak your calling into your heart through one of them. And this principle calls to us from Genesis to Revelation.

Faith accesses grace.

Believe, child of God.

And receive the power to live your calling.

Don't let your guard down, enemy devours

Don’t Let Your Guard Down

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25

Every year as spring begins its march toward summer, I prepare for a season of gorgeous, knock-out roses by feeding and protecting our bushes with a systemic fertilizer and insect repellant. Well, almost every year.

Not this one.

This year just got busy, and I didn’t make the time.

And my lack of preparation left me with a nasty, tedious task: hand-picking Japanese beetles from the plants that were feasting on the leaves and new buds.

I know I’m supposed to love God’s creatures. And I do. Most of them. But my experience with these beetles has me almost convinced that these creatures weren’t part of God’s original creation. Like the thorn, they must have come after the fall.

You see, I can’t see what benefit they bring. They eat everything, leaving destruction in their wake. Buds that began with unhindered potential for flourishing beauty never get their opportunity to open. Instead, these creatures devour them, biting holes right through the layers of delicate petals until the bud withers and dies on the stem without ever opening.

Buds created with promise never satisfy their purpose.

And those clingy, crawling creatures had access to my garden because I got lazy. I let my guard down and rested from the work instead of doing what I know to be best for my plants.

Proverbs 6:10-11 and Proverbs 24:33-34 offer this sobering warning.

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

When God repeats Himself, we should take notice. Slumber allows poverty to overtake us like an armed man. Just like folding my hands allowed an enemy to destroy my roses.

I can’t help thinking that’s precisely how our spiritual enemy works in our lives. He waits for us to let our guard down, then lands where we’ve given him access and eats away at us little by little, leaving holes and scars that rob our potential. And if permitted, he’ll continue to nibble away until the glorious beauty that God wove into our DNA withers without ever blooming.

You know that’s his goal, don’t you? He doesn’t want you to become who God created you to be. So he steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10), hoping you’ll never discover you hold the power to defeat him.

1 Peter 5:8 clearly describes his intentions.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Like those beetles in my garden, our enemy devours. Thankfully this verse also offers the means to our defense. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Know he’s coming, dear one, and proceed with diligence. Don’t let complacency give him a foothold.

 Trust me. I learned from those beetles. It’s easier to block his access than to remove him once you’ve given him ground. And scripture is your systemic fertilizer. It provides what you need to grow strong and repels the enemy’s advance.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 

You and I can’t get lazy about feeding on scripture. It’s our lifeline.

Take the time to read the Word, beloved. Meet Jesus in it. His Word is your impenetrable defense against the enemy. And if you have stumbled and given him unwanted access, don’t despair. Keep planting seed.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

It’s Christ’s power that defeats your enemy and establishes you.

His Word releases His power.

When God Sends a Storm

God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5

Monday morning, I awoke wondering whether the little island off Tampa Bay we’ve come to love had survived Irma’s vengeance. My parents fell in love with Anna Maria Island, FL about six years ago after stumbling upon it on Craig’s list. And after visiting them there just once, it claimed my heart as well. A few years ago, we purchased a town home there that has been a place of healing and rest for my parents and others. With Irma’s wrath descending on Florida Sunday, we didn’t know if we’d have a home to go back to.

We’re still waiting on word of the damage. But as we’ve seen a few images in news reports, our hearts praise God for His mercy and grace! That narrow strip of land surrounded by water on all sides didn’t get crushed by the anticipated storm surge.

Others, I know, weren’t so lucky. Images of Harvey’s flooding in Texas haven’t even cleared our screens, and now our eyes fix with horror on the devastating effects of this monster storm, leaving more havoc in its wake. Simultaneously, fires burn in the west.

Our hearts may be tempted to cry out, “Where is God?” We look at this devastation and feel abandoned. I’d like to suggest to you that the presence of these storms proves the opposite.

Look at what Job 37:2-12 teaches about God’s power.

Keep listening to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.…

From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.

Scripture leaves many things unexplained, but who controls the weather isn’t one of them.

God alone stirs up storms, beloved. No wave, or wind or raindrop falls except in response to His instruction. Creation knows its Master, and as Jesus proved when He walked the earth, the wind and waves still obey Him.

I realize the idea of God stirring up storms may make some people uncomfortable. After all, we’d rather view God through the lens of His mercy and grace. God sending something so destructive doesn’t seem to fit our preferred view. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Lamentations 3:38 proclaims this undeniable truth.

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?

To declare God only in control of the good that happens in this world robs Him of His sovereignty. As if an enemy had the power to send a storm against His will while He fixed His gaze elsewhere.

No, dear one. God alone loads the clouds with moisture and sends them turning.

They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.

He tells us why in verse 13.

Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.

Verses 12-13 leave no doubt that God sends storms with purpose. For correction. For His land. And for love.

I can’t help wondering if God’s movement in these storms was inspired by all three. After all, the United States began as His nation—His land—one nation under God. How His heart must break over what we’ve become. A divided nation. With many gods.

Can you recall what filled our news screens before pictures of flood waters took over?

Charlottesville.

Words like hate, white supremacy, and racism filled every news cycle. Murder unfolded before our eyes, and we watched in horror as a man drove his vehicle at high speeds into a crowd. People everywhere turned on one another, hurling accusations and taking sides.

A divided nation. With many gods.

Then the Most High summoned the wind and the rain to fall on the Texas shore. All eyes fixed on Houston, and the dialog changed. Hatred and supremacy gave way to an outpouring. Generosity exploded in the hearts of this divided nation, uniting us in a common purpose. God’s image surfaced on our news screens as ordinary people made extraordinary rescues, risking their own safety for their fellow man.

Color didn’t matter.  Neither did class or income level. Harvey made everyone equal. And a nation began to pray.

Then as an unprecedented storm gathered strength and headed toward our shores, we prayed some more. And the strength of that storm diminished, leaving far less damage than anticipated in many places. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now the question remains. Will we continue to pray? Will we continue to unite for God’s redemptive purpose? Or will we soon forget, and return to trusting what we build with our own hands?

If nothing else, Harvey and Irma have proven the dangers of trusting in our possessions. They are a false foundation, easily cracked and gone in a breath.

Oh, beloved. God works all things for good. He hasn’t stirred up these storms to punish. He brings correction. His thundering voice calls our eyes heavenward and our hearts to believe.

God once used another storm to chase down a wayward son. Jonah was fleeing His presence and purpose.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4

God seeks correction through storms, dear one. His goal is love.

Let’s not refuse Him.

Are You Under the Influence?

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

Anybody else sensing a darkness creeping in on the body of Christ like a thick fog?

Anxiety and fear have become common place, surfacing in places we never expected to see them. Depression robs our joy. Many of us live defeated, shrouded in a misery of our own making.

You see, we have forgotten to believe. Let me remind you of some things Jesus said.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14

Precious one, you hold the power within you to defeat the darkness. In fact, that’s your calling. Christ didn’t suffer the cross so His family could live defeated. He did it so you and I could dispel the darkness and live free.

The question is, do we?

I wonder if you can relate to that feeling of hopelessness. Let me introduce you to a man drowning in it, living among the tombs in the Gerasenes, across the sea from Galilee. A prisoner to his mind, he had suffered a long time, an outcast welcomed only by the dead.

When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. Luke 8:27

You may have already tuned out at the mention of the word demons. I understand. The word makes us uncomfortable. We’d really rather pretend they don’t exist.

But scripture reveals that much of what we battle results from their oppressive influence over our thoughts.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV

Whether we like the idea or not, evil is real, and its servants seek to exert its power over each of us. Perhaps it would be wise to learn to recognize their handiwork.

This man overcome by demons in Luke 8 offers a glimpse at what life can look like when evil influences are permitted to have their way in the mind of man. Look at the devastation they caused in verse 27:

  • For a long time he had worn no clothes They rob us of our dignity. The enemy loves to produce destructive behavior in us and then gleefully expose our shame. Then he uses that shame to manipulate us.
  • He had not lived in a house but among the tombs. They cut us off from our families and leave us feeling we belong among the dead. Demons love to drive us into isolation. Loneliness and solitude are sure marks of evil’s handiwork.
  • They also make us self-destructive. Verse 29 reveals that when they put him under guard and shackled him to stop his tirades, “he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.” Under the enemy’s influence, we will even fight any measures put in place to protect us from ourselves.

No wonder God wants each of us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). A mind influenced by evil oppressors eventually self-destructs.

Verse 33 provides a clear picture of the enemy’s plans for us when he is left unhindered. Once Jesus commanded the legion of demons to leave the man, they begged His permission to enter a herd of pigs, and Jesus gave it.

Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. Luke 8:33

What does the enemy do when free to exercise his will? He drives us straight over a cliff to the death of everything God created us to be. John 10:10 says it plainly:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

That’s a heavy thought if that were the whole truth of it. But praise the Lord, Jesus offers the way for us to escape the enemy’s clutches and live the life God intended for us. He promises in that same verse:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Beloved, while the enemy destroys, Jesus saves.

How did that translate in the life of our demon-possessed friend?

Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Luke 8:35 ESV

Oh that we would come to understand the magnitude of an authentic encounter with Jesus! His transformation was so radical, the people responded with fear! They witnessed a miracle in the life of a hopeless man—once without dignity and out of control, now clothed and sitting at the feet of Jesus; previously out of his mind, now clearly in his right mind.

Jesus carries the power to rescue you from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13). He longs to remove your shame and restore your dignity, to robe you in His righteousness and cloak you in His power.

And He has conquered the enemy who torments your mind.

Believe, child of God.

Let Him prove it.

Broken and given away

Broken and Given Away

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

We spend a lot of time talking about the Bread of Life. But very few of us eat it. And we wonder at the absence of heaven’s life.

But life doesn’t come from hearing about the bread. Bread only nourishes when we partake.

“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.”~ A.W. Tozer

Taste the Bread, beloved. Don’t just nibble on it. Feast. Until you become the very Bread you consume.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

You and I are also supposed to become heaven’s bread. Jesus came as the first Bread of many loaves. Bread that multiplies as it’s given away.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ miracles that fed hungry crowds both centered around bread?

You may recall that Jesus fed a crowd of over 5000 with a few loaves of bread and two fish.

When the disciples came to Jesus about the late hour and the people’s need for provisions, He responded with an impossible request.

“You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:13

 I imagine you and I would have been as perplexed as they were.

They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” Luke 9:13

But Jesus didn’t want them to buy food for the people. He wanted them to feed the hungry with what they already had.

 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:16-17

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

Jesus was pointing them to the cross, dear one.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Bread that is blessed, broken, and given away feeds and satisfies the hungry. Christ became the Bread to nourish our hungry souls. He invites us to follow His example.

Taste the Bread, beloved. Consume it so you may become Bread. Then let Jesus bless it and break it, so that you may also be given away.

Life and glory flow out through the breaking. Jesus blesses us beforehand, but the breaking releases the blessing. Like Jesus, we must entrust ourselves to God’s hands, allowing ourselves to be broken and given away. Only then will the Bread of Life multiply.

And then it returns to us.

The disciples gave the bread away, and each returned with an overflowing basket. Do you want your basket full, beloved? Give away your bread.

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

There will be pain in the breaking, dear one. Even anguish. Just look at the cross.

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13 NIV

I have seen Christ’s vision for His glorious church. Beautiful. Spotless. Without blemish. Alive.

And I see hungry crowds in desperate need of Bread.

Jesus placed the very river of life that flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1-2) into our hearts through His breaking (John 7:38). I long to release that river. But it seems it will only flow out through the breaking of my heart.

So break it, Lord. Do what you must in me to set it flowing, to release your river of life from within me. Catch the wounded and broken in its flow; wash and heal them.

I trust you, Father. For with the breaking, there will be a mending. But I—and those you entrust to me—will be changed.

I would not have chosen this path for myself. The path of suffering—of watching those precious to me suffer.

But Jesus didn’t choose His path either. He surrendered to it.

And His breaking resulted in glory.

Faith moves God

Faith that Moves God

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

This past year has been a challenging one for my family. I’m sure you can probably relate. Life is just hard sometimes, especially when you watch people you love suffer. And in those times, we need to lift our faces toward heaven and know.

Beloved, you and I need to know God is for us, and His promises are true. They’re not just something we hope for. They’re real. Concrete. Attainable.

We just struggle because we don’t often see those promises lived out. And you and I have a hard time being convinced of things we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1). It’s easier to doubt God’s Word than take an honest look in the mirror.

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again. God’s promises manifest in our lives through faith. But most of us don’t live lives of radical faith. Instead, we carry our faith like a possession we like to talk about and we’re glad we have. But we don’t use it.

We like to think we do. But we have so little expectation of seeing God move in miraculous ways that we limit what we’ll believe God for.

We’re not alone, dear one. I’d like to share a story that recently stirred my own heart. Take a few minutes to ponder this August 17 entry from L. B. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert.

I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me (Acts 27:25).

I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened that revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me, and said, “Captain, I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.” “It is impossible,” I said. “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down to the chartroom and pray.”

I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this. “Mr. Mueller,” I said, “do you know how dense this fog is?” “No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”

He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray: but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer; and second, I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”

I looked at him, and he said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.” I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.

I wonder, dear one. Which man of God do you more closely resemble? The “devoted” Christian Captain who limited his faith to what his circumstances declared? Or George Mueller, who had so much confidence in God’s answer, he told the Captain with certainty that he would find the fog dispersed?

I have to admit, I long to be George! I want to confidently know God will move. And I have moments when I do. Sometimes. But other times—far too frequently—doubt creeps in to steal away God’s promises.

George Mueller lived the promise of 1 John 5:14-15.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

George Mueller knew that God heard him. And because of that, he knew he would have what he asked for.

Let’s ask God to increase our faith.

Let’s live boldly believing.

Radical faith invites God to move.