Love Them Into The Kingdom

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these….(Matthew 19:14)

My daughter has these little toy shapes that she likes to play with. She places them in the spots they go in and loves doing this over and over. However, she has two different kinds of toys like this and the shapes are different sizes. There are times when she’s got the bigger shapes with the smaller openings. She gets frustrated as she tries to force the shapes in, but it just doesn’t work.

Friend, we can’t force people into the kingdom. We can only love them like a child as we lead and guide them into God’s new morning mercies. I know that’s hard to do. Truth be told, I like changing people. I enjoy giving them great advice and expect them to take my great advice and act on it. However, sometimes people have to figure out things out for themselves and they need a shepherd to walk with them, not tell them what to do and drop them like a bad habit when they don’t respond favorably with all your great advice.

That’s easier to do though, isn’t it? Fly in and out of people’s lives, offering great advice, “saving the day,” and moving onto the next mission for God.

I remember when my marriage was falling apart and some comments were made to me about how all the issues going on in my marriage were keeping ministry from happening. Friend, marriages falling apart, children walking through crisis, a friend walking a dark path, all of that is ministry. It is kingdom work- to love people in their deepest brokenness. To care for and shepherd them in their darkest hours. Because if we don’t, the sheep will go looking for safety somewhere else.

I am thankful for the people who did support me and my husband at our worst. It was because of their love that our marriage was resurrected. Friend, don’t you see, there’s someone else out there whose life is falling apart today too. Won’t you go and be the love of God to them as you lead and guide them with the love of God into the kingdom? I have learned that we can speak the truth to people as long they know we love them, they’ll stick around, but if we speak the truth and leave them, we only break their hearts even further.

So friend, go and be the love of God to someone today, but don’t force them, love and lead them into the Kingdom.

Lord, you are so good. You are kind and faithful, loving and true. Thank you for your grace, may I shower it upon others today, in Jesus name, Amen.

A New Birth

Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people and you have not rescued your people at all…(Exodus 5:23)

Those minutes before my daughter was born were some of the most painful minutes I think I have ever experienced. I chose to go the natural route without an epidural and so I felt every single bit of it all and it was painful, but I knew that it would only last a short time, because friend, when she was here, the pain was all worth it.

I’m not sure what you’re walking through in life, but here’s the deal, as much as I wish there was an epidural for our pain, there just isn’t. Sometimes, we have to walk terribly hard and difficult paths. It’s the only way God can birth new things in us and there’s just no pain pill or epidural for that.

But the good news is that we do have hope. We are never alone in our pain. Just as my husband, birth coach and hospital staff were with me through the pain, we have the Lord and our friends in Christ to stand with us until we see new life spring forth from within us. We just have to be willing to sit through the pain and invite others into it.

I’m sure I could have birthed my child on my own, but that would have been much harder and scarier doing it alone. We all need people in our lives and trying to walk through our pain alone only makes it harder.

So friend, understand that freedom enters into our lives when we invite others in. If I’m being honest, birthing a child is without a doubt the most vulnerable, exposing thing I have let people into, but they were there with me, not to make me feel bad about being so open to letting them in, but cheering me on because they knew something great was coming. That’s what friends in Christ are for, won’t you let them cheer you on as you walk together through the pain to see God birth something beautiful in you?

Thank you Lord for friends in Christ and thank you that you never leave us in our pain. We don’t always understand why, but we will never be left alone, thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Generational Sin

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away….(Mt 18:8).

My daughter watches me and others very closely now. It’s how she figures out how to do things that bigger people can do. She’ll mimic sounds, actions and words. She’s pretty proud of herself too when she’s able to do it.

All of this has made me very aware of my need for humility before God. The reason being is because I do not want to pass down any sin that has captured my heart to hers. And friend, if I’m being honest, there are things I know are problems in my life that if I don’t deal with them, they will become a problem in hers.

Children are a great way to make us either more holy or to perpetuate generational sin even further. I heard something the other day that said if generational sin isn’t dealt with in the parent, it shows up worse in their children. That really stuck with me. I don’t want my daughter to be facing uphill battles because of my own sin not dealt with and so today, I’m taking seriously the journey of doing my best to kill sin in myself before it finds it’s way to filling her heart with all the lies and deception it’s planted in mine.

Therefore, I’m choosing a new way forward through a renewed heart and mind in the word of God. Whenever those sin struggles start to surface, I’m training myself to set them before the Lord in prayer and I’m no longer telling myself it’s not that big of a deal, because it is. There’s a little one watching my every move now. The way I talk about others, how I deal with things like fear, vanity and pride will determine how she understands how to fight against them.

Every night as I lay my daughter down to sleep I place myself before her bed in a posture of prayer on my face before the Lord and say something like, “Lord, I know that I’m not a perfect parent, nor will I ever be, but I want to be a humble one who admits her shortcomings. Let our family be one who offers forgiveness towards one another, has open, honest conversation with each other and commits to working through issues. Grant me the grace I need to parent my daughter not out of fear but with wisdom and humility.” I pray specifically for her and against the generational sin that I see rise up so often in me be praying Scripture over her before I leave her room and give her one last kiss goodnight. My husband prayers over her as well. This simple prayer helps me stay grounded and I pray it helps her see that her mother, needs the grace and help of God, each and every single day.

Father, I don’t want to cause my daughter to stumble. I know I’ll never be a perfect parent, but I long to be a humble one. One who admits her faults. One who seeks Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I pray Lord, that as I battle sin, my daughter would as well. Capture her heart at a young age with the gospel. That she might know you as Lord and Savior, in Jesus name, Amen.

An Old Wound Just Got Pricked

I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt…..(Ex. 2:10)

If I’m being honest, I really do hate it when the Lord pricks old wounds in my life. At end the of the day, I know it’s for my good, I just don’t really care for all the old feelings, disappointments and discouragements that resurface. Those are sometimes tough for me to handle as I face the reality of walking back into old wounds that still feel just as fresh as when they happened. Maybe that’s why the Lord is pricking those old wounds, so that I can heal from what was, to grow into something different this time around.

I have met people who have tried to run from their past, people who avoid pain and don’t deal with old wounds. Their lives become shallow. They won’t let God in because they just don’t want to deal with the pain of the past. I can understand that. I’m in a place now where I’m facing that hard and difficult reality for my own life. But, I’m not going to run from it. I’m going to embrace it with joy, knowing that God will grow me through it as I trust in Him to do it.

Moses was faced with a similar reality as God called him back to Egypt. The very place he had fled. The place where he sinned greatly by murdering a man and God asks him not just to step back into that place, but to be a leader there. Can you imagine the anxiety that must have shaken Moses as he thought about going back to Egypt? At least for me, when God calls me back into old places, it feels a bit overwhelming as the enemy tries to tell me all the bad things that will happen if I do.

But friend, as we walk by faith, the Lord makes all things beautiful in His time. He causes old wounds to become fresh once again, because we need His refreshment. We didn’t get it right the first time, so this is now His gift to grow us through it as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices before Him.

I’m not sure where God is shaking you up, but I know that something is in your life or it will be soon. Don’t run from it. See it as God’s gift to you. It’s in the shaking up that we can come out as new leaders, not just in the new places we find ourselves, but in old wounds that we allow God to redeem for His glory.

Lord, thank you for pricking old wounds. I just want to be deeply faithful to you. Make me more like you each day through them as I trust in you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

You Can Face Your Fear of Failure and Humiliation Over Your Past

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you”….(Proverbs 5:25)

There’s this plate the enemy is trying to start spinning in my head. It’s that plate of shame and failure that he loves to try and cover me in.

The Lord is taking me back to a place that will require me to have conversation I don’t really want to have, because I beieve, as I reflect on the reason why I don’t want to have them it’s because a deeper healing needs to place in me still. There’s some things that happened that I feel embarrassed and humiliated by and so I’d rather avoid talking about them for fear of further humiliation.

The ego is a strong thing we try to protect isn’t it? I’ve got a pretty big one. The Lord has certainly been changing me and my ego has been shrinking, but if I’m being honest, I’m not all there just yet. There’s parts of me that wants to hide my story so I don’t look like a total failure to others.

But friend, don’t you see, we all stumble along our journeys. We all have embarrassing things happen. Maybe the first step is recognizing that it’s OK to face them, accept them, grow from them, and share them with others. As we share, we connect our hearts with other people who’ve been on similar paths. When we hide them, we get nowhere and nothing grows because we keep telling people we’re fine and OK when obviously, we’re really not.

So friend, today I’m choosing to set my gaze forward. I’m not going to believe the lie that tells me I’ll be walking back into something as a failure. I’m going to believe that I’m walking back into it as a beloved child of God who is growing more and more into the image of Jesus. After all dear friend, what matters most is not our image, but that we would be made into His image as we learn to love people along the way. This opportunity to go back affords me that chance to love deeper and that is the good news I want to set my gaze upon.

Lord, thank you for humbling me and for putting me in places that causes me to be more and more humble. You are growing me, thank you. I won’t let the enemy cover me in shame. He can’t play that part in my life, because you set me free, in Jesus name, Amen.

When God Sends You On Humbling Paths

“Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.”….(Ge 46:3).

Friend, I’m not sure why God sent you on the path He did, but don’t let that keep you from taking a new step of faith if He’s drawing you into it. Sometimes God has to send us out, somewhere outside of what is known and comfortable to humble us.

God did that with Jacob and his family. He promised to grow them into a great nation and they certainly did become on in Egypt, but they also became slaves, forced to do harsh labor. They waited 400 years for deliverance. The nation of Israel didn’t always wait patiently and neither have we. But friend, maybe the detour, the waiting, and everything in between is part of the journey that leads us into the promised land. Maybe following God is more about a heart that doesn’t give up, than it is about one who sits in comfort.

What I have found for me, over the past few years of my life, as God has sent me out for humbling is that He’s changed my will. There’s something about me very different than it was before. A deeper trust. A deeper ability to believe that God will work in the unseen. I don’t need to have it all figured out anymore, because I’ve seen the one who is able provide for me. So friend, I’m not sure what step God is leading you into, but don’t fear that step and please don’t live in deep regret wishing you could undue one of the steps you made. I get that. I think about that sometimes too, but that doesn’t lead us into deeper waters, does it?

I know I’ve thought to myself, but had I known what pain this step would have brought into my life, I would go back and change directions! Friend, sometimes God doesn’t reveal those things to us, because we would never grow in humility, trust and faithfulness without it. Don’t wish you could undue it, embrace it as your gift from God to change you through it.

Father, I trust you. I know that you know what is best for me. I want to follow in that. I long to hear your voice. I know you’re a good Father to me, Amen.

Accepting This Part of Your Journey is Hard…But…

it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you….(Gen 45:5)

Friend, God has you here, where you are, in this present season of life for a purpose. Don’t think for one second that this journey you’re on is wasted. Joseph didn’t. He saw a bigger picture. His willingness to believe God for greater things and trust Him in the present is something that I’m believing for my life too.

I know, I get it, I understand, you want to go back or maybe you’d like to fast forward. But friend, running back or rushing out keeps us from seeing Jesus in the present. I don’t know about you, but I want to see Him. Sometimes He shows up in our neighbor who needs a helping hand. A friend whose lost a loved one.

It’s quite possible that Jesus is inviting you to find weary travelers to love in this present season. However, running back and forward in your head is keeping you from really listening to His voice on where to find the people to love in this moment today.

Joseph accepted something in his life that we would all benefit from- the bigger picture and a greater faith to believe in God’s very best. Friend, I need that too. I can think of many friends walking through immensely painful realities in their lives; losses, struggles, hardships- you name it. I want to encourage you to keep the bigger picture in mind and have the faith to believe that God can use your present woes to write a beautiful part of your story.

I think I’ve finally gotten to the point of accepting that God started writing a different story for my life. If I’m being honest, it’s more beautiful than it was before. It’s slower, more at peace and it feels more full. Although, sometimes the enemy loves to shove me backward and cover me in shame. I’m learning the power to break his words of deception comes through praise and acceptance of what God has placed before me.

Friend, I know your struggles are so hard. I also know that God isn’t done writing your story. The longer it takes for us to accept the chapter we’d rather forget the longer we’ll stay stuck in what we believe should have become of our lives. It’s time to believe that God has a good story and all parts of it, as painful as they might be are part of His plan.

Lord, thank you that our story is always being written. Continue to write a beautiful story. I accept the new chapters and I praise you for them, in Jesus name, Amen.

But, I Should Have Never Gotten To This Place!

It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering….(Genesis 41:52)

Friend, I know you have certain expectations of how God should use you. Where you should go, what you should do for Him. The doors He should open. You may even feel like your gifts aren’t being used to their fullest capacity and you feel a bit forgotten. I’ve felt that way before and if I’m being honest, it’s a place I sometimes find my thoughts go even now. It’s because I get self-focused and forget to be faithful in the small things first.

The life of Joseph reminds me to be fruitful wherever God has placed me. Which means, I bloom where I’m planted.

For many years, Joseph was being changed by God. The Lord used unfair circumstances in Joseph’s life to grow his character, but friend, we have to join with God in that work. We can get bitter about unfair things or we can get better. The choice, really, is up to us. Joseph chose to get better and God blessed Him tremendously. I often wonder how many of us, myself included, have forgotten that the best work I’ll ever do for God is the work I let Him do in me first.

Joseph chose to be present and available and be used of God in prison. Friend, I need you to hear that. Joseph was wrongfully accused. Hear me when I say this, he should not have been in prison. I know you keep telling yourself that you shouldn’t even be here, but friend, that won’t undue what’s been done.

I’m not sure where life has put you. Maybe something unjust and unfair has happened. Won’t you be like Joseph and choose to be faithful even in your suffering? You see, it was Joseph’s choice to be faithful to God, available to others, while exercising his gifts for God in prison when the Lord granted him favor and swept him out of prison.

Don’t think for a second that this time in your life is wasted. Don’t think God isn’t using you either. It could be that He’s simply granting you the opportunity grow in faithfulness as you choose to be used of Him and available to others even in your suffering.

What if Joseph would have just gotten mad, isolated himself and burrowed his head in the sand while in prison? It’s quite likely, he would have stayed there, instead of being called up and called out by God. Don’t you see, this is not for your ruin. This is for your next step in becoming more like Jesus. Friend, look up and believe that in faith. God is doing a good thing. That’s the place I want to live today, won’t you join me?

Father, wherever you have placed me, I want to be faithful. Help me now to do that, in Jesus name, Amen.

What They Did Didn’t Ruin God’s Plan For Your Life

Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”….(Ge 37:20).

Friend, what they did, how they hurt you, the injustice that was done to you by them did not ruin the plan of God in your life. It’s true that your life got set on a detour. Maybe one that you feel embarrassed by as well. I understand that, I’ve been there.

I think detours are God’s way of growing us in our character so that when we do get to the right location, we’re different. Different enough to handle what God has for us. Different enough to trust Him in ways that we would not have, if not for the detour.

You see, Joseph faced a major detour in his life, but his detour was all part of God’s plan. Friend, yours is too. I know it doesn’t feel that way right now because the enemy loves to convince you that this was for your ruin, you’ll never overcome this fully. This will always follow you like a cloud. The list goes on and goes, but friend, God doesn’t see the clouds. He only sees the hope that is available for you today through the mercies of His daily grace. He’s a bright hope and a beautiful future. Won’t you trust Him?

Lord, we all face detours in life. We get hurt. We get forgotten, mistreated and abused, but you never leave us there. All. of what we go through is part of your plan. We can trust you for that, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Terrible Tool

It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath….(Matt 12:12)

Friend, I know they didn’t step up to the plate for you when you needed them most. I also know that they drug you through the mud on their quest to silence their fears. I understand that hurt, but, friend, it’s time to heal.

Legalism is such a terrible tool at work in the house of God. It’s not a tool Jesus hands to people. In fact, on His time here on earth, He did everything He could to take those tools away and offer a new way for people to build one another up instead of tear people down.

You see, as much as Jesus was zealous for God’s house (the temple), I believe He was even more zealous for the people of God in it and outside of it. That’s why Jesus spends very little time around the Temple. If you notice, He spends much more of His time, working His miracles and spreading His message in small towns, little synogogues and insignificant places.

Maybe friend, our desire to build a temple, is actually hurting the people in it. Maybe our quest to “build something for God” is actually crushing the people inside it’s walls with legalism and fear. You see, when all you want to do is construct a building for God, you forget that Jesus cared most for the people inside and outside of those walls.

Friends, we can’t spend all of our time inside of our impressive buildings, trying to protect them from sinful people, if we want to be Kingdom workers for Jesus.

Some of the religious leaders Jesus encountered were legalistic in their practice of faith. They tied heavy, burdensome loads on people and were not willing to lift a finger to help them. If that’s happened to you, forgive your offender, let go of those messages of shame that have covered your heart and move forward in the healing grace of Jesus who reminds us that before we try to impose our best ideas for what we believe is right in following God we have to love the individual in front of us whether we find them inside or outside our church walls.

The church is meant to place a place of God’s healing. Yes, the body of Christ is not a building, but a people and when one person in the body hurts, so does the rest. Friend, I know your life got messy, things happened and I pray that the church becomes a place of respite and healing for you. This is where Jesus wants you to find healing, don’t run from the church if they have forgotten you, because God never will.

Lord, you are kind. You are loving. We want to be your love unto the world. Make us like you, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.