It’s Time….Return to the Lord

In repentance and rest is your salvation…(Is 30:15).

Friends, it’s time for us as a nation to return to the Lord. Repentance is our only way back. It’s the key to unlocking our strife and misery. Behind it lies a blessing from God and a heart full of peace. Oh, beloved, don’t you want to live with a rested, content and peaceful heart? I know I do.

Before sin can come up, we must go down. Yes friend, down on our knees with a broken and contrite spirit over the things we have done that have brought us to the place we are today. The consequences of where we are didn’t get here, because we just sat idly by. They got here because we actively or unknowingly pursued something ungodly. We never get to these places without following some sort of pattern of sin.

Sin always comes like a blanket, but not for us to sit on to find rest, but to be covered and shielded from truth. Some of us need to get out from under the blanket and start learning the value of walking in the light of God’s truth. This might mean we not only repent to God, but our neighbor, loved one or friend. It might mean we make a phone call that could potentially get us in trouble. But all of those things take humility and a willingness to walk through the consequences of our sin. Yet all of them will lead us to deeper freedom.

So friend, let’s return to the Lord, together today. I am asking God to show me my. sin. I pray that you will do he same.

Father show me my stubborn sin and rebellion. Lead me to the rock that is higher than me. Shower me with your love and your grace. Be my deepest joy and my greatest delight, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

You Could Become An Answer To Prayer

Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there… (Mk 11:2).

Today could be the day my friend. Yes, the very day you become a blessing to someone else. The day you become an answered prayer.

Not long ago, a woman at church got up and shared with the congregation something that to me, was deeply humbling and a wonderful reminder of the faithfulness of God when we side with Him and wait upon His voice. She said, “Heather, you are an answer to prayer. We have been praying for someone like you to come to our church to love the teens.”

I don’t share that to brag or boast. Truth be told, I’ve not been very good at either of those things in my life. It’s most certainly why I’ve ended up in some of the wrong places in my life. Waiting has not been something I’ve been good at, but this time around, I did wait. I did listen and I did prioritize the needs of my family before my own wants, wishes and desires. Because of that, I got to become an answer to prayer. Little did they know, that church become a huge answer to prayer in my life as well.

Today, I’m examining my heart, because there’s an area of my life God wants me to surrender in a similar manner. It seems like once the Lord strips one layer, He just keeps working on another and we can give Him praise for that.

I’m not sure what you’re waiting on or where you’re rushing ahead of God, but know that you can trust His heart. You don’t have to fix it, do something about it or make things happen. God can do all of those things in His timing. When He does, you just might become an answer to a long-term prayer someone has been praying and we too might get to see some of our prayers answered as well through God’s people who have been waiting and praying.

Jesus has an interesting discussion about a colt with His disciples. He tells them that they’ll find a colt tied up in the village ahead of them. He says….”Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” (Mark 11:2-3)

Friend, the Lord needs it. He wants to use something in your life to be a blessing to someone else. Don’t hold on so tightly to it. Bring everything you have before the Lord with open hands. Your home, finances, car…all your possessions, all of your life. Then, you can become an answered prayer for others and a blessing to those around you.

Father, I want to be an answered prayer today. Help me God to be attentive to your voice. To listen well to what you are saying. Lord, even if that means I have to give something up that I love I pray that I would do it with a thankful heart, in Jesus name, Amen.

Still Worrying?

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic….(Is 28:16).

Friend, what are you worried about? Don’t you see, God’s got it.

I’m worrying about lots of things right now. I tend to be an internal worrier instead of an internal warrior. I wish it was the other way around. I’m learning to become one, it’s just taking time.

The future, your children, that job, the ministry at church, the friends in your life….the list could really go on and on about the things we worry about. But what is worry really all about? Isn’t worry simply the unwillingness to look to God as supreme ruler? Doesn’t worry dismiss His Lordship in your life and try to convince you that life will turn out bad?

What story is the devil spinning inside of you, dear friend? How many miles down the road have you traveled in your mind about it when God simply asks you to be present in this moment?

I’ve been paying attention to my thoughts more recently. When I’m off in my head somewhere else worrying about something I am by no means fully present with my loved ones around me. However, when I shift my thinking to prayer, everything changes. Prayer really does have a way of keeping our minds in check and placing us back in the moment.

So friend, don’t worry, be still and know that He is God. Don’t get defeated or think that your life is going to explode each day without you overthinking the things that “could” go wrong. Choose instead, as I’m fighting to do, to be present in prayer. Pray I would and I’ll pray the same for you.

Father, I release control of my life to you. I worry so much. I don’t know why. It seems I can find so many more things to worry about than I can things to be content about. Father, fill my heart with your joy today, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

When God Speaks….Do You Hear Him?

Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them…. (Mt 13:11)

Have you ever heard something others didn’t? Maybe you were listening a little more intently and so you heard the meaning behind what the person was saying? You felt the depth of their emotion. You sensed the hurt in their response or the frustration in their voice? You saw something others didn’t, because you were willing to be fully attentive and present with the one who was doing the talking.

Friend, what about when God speaks? Do we hear things that others don’t because we’re cued in and listening intently? Do we hear with certainty what the Master is saying because we’ve set aside distractions and come into His presence with a heart that is ready to hear from Him?

I truly have to discipline myself each day as I sit down before the Lord. I get distracted so easily. I can read a page of the Bible but be off in my head somewhere else. Truth is, we don’t have time to not hear from God. There’s just too much at stake in this life. Not hearing from Him will quite simply mean that we’ve given over our daily bread to Frosted Flakes and Burger King. Instead of feasting and dining upon Him we reach for something quick. When sometimes, what our heart needs more than anything is to simply sit with Him in stillness. To treasure Him and His words as if they truly were our daily bread.

Have you ever made bread? It takes forever; mix the dough, kneed the dough, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again and then bake it. Maybe this picture of making bread is supposed to be similar to our pursuit of God as we wait upon Him to speak and bring us our daily needs. Don’t go rushing out of your time with Him, but allow Him to kneed good things of grace and love into you. Thus, your light in Him will shine, because His light in you is being perfected more and more through time in stillness with your Father.

Lord, change me. I need you to change me from the inside out. I need to hear from you every day. Speak to me Father, I long to hear your voice, in Jesus name, Amen.

Maybe God Wants You To Stay in That Difficult Spot….

Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord…(Hosea 1:2).

Friend, why are you questioning the decision you made now simply because things got hard? I think that’s why so many marriages fail and so many others give up on the dreams and plans God has for them, simply because it got hard and so they question the voice of God. I get it though, I’ve been there on all accounts. Questioning my decision for a spouse, wondering if I’m supposed to be doing this or that and quite frankly, wanting to just throw in the towel and give up on all of it, because the voice of deception tells me it would just be much easier to start over with something or someone else.

What if part of the journey is supposed to be hard? What if submitting yourself to the struggle is actually making you more holy because it’s making you more humble?

Just be careful, there have been many times when I’ve entertained such thoughts like, “Wow, look at me, I’m a super great _____________, because I’m really practicing righteousness here by submitting myself to God’s plan.”

Friend, don’t do that. It’s self-righteousness at its worst. No one wants to be loved by someone who feels a sense of supreme holiness because of their devout love to die to themselves to love you, yes, you, that difficult person they feel so inconvenienced by. Don’ worry though, you’re not an inconvenience really, you’re just a person to love.

So today, I’m embracing each hard and difficult relationship in my life. Not because I’m some superstar Christian, no way. Simply because I need more grace in my life and if I’m being honest, I’m a difficult person to love as well.

Father, I come to you today thanking you for your daily grace. Forgive me for entertaining such thoughts that would ever keep me from being faithful to my commitments. Lord Jesus, thank you for each season and each moment in life. Thank you for the hard ones. I trust you, forgive me, and shower me with humility and grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

I’m Learning the Value of Letting Go of “My Time”

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”…(Mt 12:8).

The Lord and I have been going back and forth about something recently. It’s all about control and getting what I want. Part of me doesn’t want to submit because it means giving up more of my time and the things I enjoy. It means letting go of my hobbies to put rest and family first. Friend, I know that’s better, I’m just struggling with letting go.

I’ve been asking God to show me my sin more recently. Truth be told, I am chief of sinners just like Paul describes himself. I don’t always prioritize my relationship with my husband. I’d rather run off and officiate a few more basketball games then be present with my family. Truth is, my most treasured moments over the past few months have been when all three of us are playing and laughing together. Here at home, with no distractions.

I’ve got a ways to go in this. I’m working on it and I’m letting Jesus work it out of me. I think whenever God calls a family deeper He calls those who are leading it into a deeper place of sacrifice and surrender. So, that’s where I’m being challenged to live today is in the place of deep surrender. I think when we do, we start to become a deeper place of rest for our loved ones because our lives aren’t so busy. Instead they are blessed and we can be a greater blessing to those around us because we want less things and have become more present with people.

Father, I surrender my life to you today. Thank you that you are Lord of my life. I pray your grace might abound in me, each day, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Argue With This Person More Than Anyone Else

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels….(2 Ti 2:23).

I’m constantly arguing. Not so much with the people in my life, but with the voice in my head. That voice is always trying to convince me of things that aren’t true. Sometimes, I walk down the road of its entrapment. Then, there are other times when I see it coming and stop the conversation before it gets started.

Arthur Fletcher is known as the man to have coined the phrase, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Yes, that is true and for the Christian, I might add, “A mind entrapped by it’s own thoughts and foolish arguments is a terrible thing to waste.” Why? Because you’re not present. You’re not with the people in front of you when you’re arguing with the person inside of you. I cannot stress how important this principle God has been teaching me is- the extreme value of being fully present. It’s so simple, yet so hard, because we can’t seem to focus on loving the person in front of us because we may feel intimidated, or threatened by them in some way. We might be annoyed by their presence or feel as though we don’t have the time to deal with them one more time.

Life is truly full of so many moments and so much time to do the things we want, but we are short on moments to love the sheep. Why? Because we’re just so busy. Instead of loving the sheep, we’re in our head, arguing with ourselves about something that happened or something we fear might happen or a mixture of the two.

The other night during a basketball game I kept arguing with myself. I struggled the whole game to be present because I was just so upset with myself because I felt like I didn’t prepare myself well for the contest. Basketball is not the kind of game you can be somewhat present in. Things happen to quickly. If you’re not there, you’ll lose what’s happening there. The same thing happens in life. Unless we are present we will lose much of what’s happening in front of us and we wonder why life seems to be racing all around us and we just can’t seem to keep up. Maybe it’s because we never shut off the argument in our head. We never started speaking God’s truth into our hearts and minds so that we might be free and fully present with others.

Yesterday, while darting through the church on my way up to the youth room I stopped in the kitchen to have a five minute conversation that, in the past, I wouldn’t have normally done. Previously, I would have been too busy with all my tasks. It would have been too much for me to stop and be present with someone. I would have taken the bait with that voice inside my head so I could get going onto my next activity. Friend, this is our challenge today, is it not, to say no to the voice of the enemy who is always lurking and yes to the voice of truth who is always redeeming and offering peace?

I am praying that you might know, just as I would, how deep and wide the Father’s love is for us. We can rest in the fact that He knows. Yes friend, He knows and we don’t need to. We can be happy that we have the victory over every lie in Jesus name.

Father, thank you for your love. I surrender my whole life to you. You are a good and faithful God. Truly, your love is better than life. Thank you God, for loving me. May my thoughts be pleasing to you. Shower me with your grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

What’s Your Step of Faithfulness?

Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign… (Is 20:3).

What length are you willing to go if it means you’ll be walking in God’s will? That’s the question I’m asking myself. There are moments when this season in life feels difficult to embrace because it means I must continue to set aside my wants, wishes and dreams to prioritize the needs of someone else. I guess you could say this season in life has been a “dying to self” kind of season. The kind of time in my life where I learn to let go to take up a new reality. New realities are hard sometimes, aren’t they? Especially when the next step of that reality isn’t the one we wanted to take. Honestly, I have no reason to complain in this season. I am immensely blessed, but discouragement over even the smallest of things that I want but don’t have are really trying to wear me down.

Truth be told, I have loved getting what I wanted in life. Looking back now, though, those times when I got what I wanted, weren’t always what was best for my growth in Christ.

Isaiah was asked of God to walk about stripped of his outer garment and sandals during a three year period to show what would happen to Egypt. Would you be willing to look just as foolish? Would you be willing to walk with God in that same kind of way? I imagine Isaiah looked quite silly. I’m sure there were many who couldn’t see the future like Isaiah could and so they found his actions to be pointless.

That’s the thing though friend, that was Isaiah’s step of faithfulness, what’s yours? Is it to forgo the job promotion? Not lead that bible study to free up more time with family? Is it to start giving more and spending less? Is it to create more space in your home for hospitality? Is it some other thing that might make you look foolish or less important to others because it’s just not what’s best for the other people God has placed in your life?

For a prideful person, like myself, who can’t see into the future, sacrificing what I think is best for me has always been a tough one. So I’m asking God for a heart of joy to lay aside my own wants so that I can glory in Him instead, as I learn the joy of placing others before myself.

Father, I embrace all that today has to offer, especially those moments when I don’t get what I want. Thank you that I can joyfully put others before myself. Thank you that I don’t know the future. Please forgive me that I’ve been living in defeat about it. Show me what my step of faithfulness is, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

He Sings Over You

Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord….(Ps 104:35).

Last night my daughter was crying pretty hard. She’s going through a lot of changes and is struggling some through them. As her mom, it’s been so easy to become discouraged by her tears. But last night, instead of growing weary during one of her fits, I chose to sing. Yes, I literally opened my mouth and started singing a song very familiar to her. A song we listened to almost every morning when we used to take a prayer walk outside in the morning. As I sang to her, she immediately calmed down as she rested her head in my shoulder. Little did she know, I’m always singing in my heart to her, she just needed to hear my voice.

Beloved, don’t you see, your Heavenly Father is always singing in His heart over you. Maybe you just need to get a little closer to hear His voice. I’m not sure who might need to hear this today, but beloved, the Angels are signing all around you, don’t you hear their song? Listen in, it’s a good song of love and delight, joy and victory, hope and peace. But that’s not it, there’s a song your Father sings to you, yes my friend, straight to you- one of His children. It’s a song He sings each morning as He chooses you, once more to delight in. You’ll find the song when you hear His voice and your hear the song when you listen in to His word. Yes my friend, is that not your daily bread? The sustenance of His words, His love letter, His song written from His heart to yours?

I’m not sure where you’re feasting, I’ve been feasting on some discouragement, but I want to burrow my head into His shoulder and hear the song that He and the angels sing. The song He sings for His beloved children. The song He sings for you.

Father, I want to hear your voice today. My life sometimes feels purposeless, but I know that’s not true. The hard days of parenting are difficult and I don’t want to get wrapped up in the hard stuff. I want to keep hearing the song that you’re singing, because I long to dance with you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Feeling Anxious Today?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…. (Php 4:6–7)

I’ve definitely been in my head about something recently. Telling myself it’s going to go terribly, thinking up all the scenarios in my mind of how awful it’s going to be.

Friend, how can we know the future and why do we almost always predict that it’s going to go bad? Where is God in all of our worrying? Is He with us or have we left Him to go and struggle on our own in a vast sea of worry when He’s resting upon the shore?

But see, friend, that’s the thing….you have to be willing to rest if you want to find God. It is almost impossible to truly hear from Him without living in a place of rest. So take a moment right now, slow your mind and your thoughts and simply be still before Him. Ask Him to fill your mind with good things. Take your worries before Him and surrender your fears of what you believe the future might hold.

What I have noticed is that whenever I feel captured by anxiety my mind is unable to live freely in the present, because I’m so worried that all the terrible scenarios I’ve told myself will play themselves out in the future. I’m not normally an anxious person and so I’m asking the Lord what lies underneath all of my present worry.

I think it’s because I love the feeling of knowing the plan. I like things to be predictable and measurable. I like schedules and for things to fall in place. My world gets thrown off a bit when the plan gets changed or things don’t go on like normal. I’m learning that these moments of interruption are simply opportunities, not inconveniences. Yes, opportunities to once again offer up my body as a living sacrifice before God and others.

So friend, maybe the reason things aren’t going as planned is because the plan was always meant to stay in His hands. I think when the boat gets rocked a bit it’s good, because it helps us remember that our whole life is truly wrapped up in the plan of God. Therefore, today I’m taking things as they come and I’m thankful that God sees the picture and I don’t. I can let go of the future, knowing that today, in this moment, is the time for me to give glory and praise to Him, because He is good to me in the hear now.

Lord, I trust you. I really do. Forgive me for all my worry and for the bad stories I’ve told myself. Thank you that you are God and that I don’t have to worry about the future, in Jesus name, Amen.