Keep Your Gaze on Him

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you…..(Ps 39:7).

I know you feel disappointed by the things going on around you. I also know that some of the disappointment you feel is being targeted not so much towards the circumstances around you, but the people involved in it.

You might be angry at God, a friend, co-worker, spouse, or relative. I understand that. I’ve been there too, but friend, all of that is just a distraction sent from the devil to destroy your intimacy and trust with God. Whenever I set my gaze on the people around me, I always forget the God who is before me.

Did you hear that? Whenever I get angry and mad at all the people who I feel aren’t coming through for me I will always drown in my own critical, negative and unbelieving heart. But if I can learn, through the mercy of the cross, to set my gaze just as Jesus did, not on those around me, but on the One who sits quietly with rest and perfect assurance I can be at peace even in the midst of some terrible storms.

Friends, we will either become the product of the painful experiences and anger towards people we carry with us, or will become more at peace, because of our deep abiding we CHOOSE to experience with God in the midst of all the pain.

At least, that’s what I’m learning. Since I don’t want to become a product of my painful, disappointing experiences and the people surrounding them, I am learning that my best kind of self doesn’t focus on others, but on what God has and will do for me.

The other day I was having a conversation with a veteran official who spoke some wise, instructive words to me. He said, “Heather, if you focus on caring about what people think of your calls in the game, you won’t make it long as an official.” Friend, we must not set our gaze on people, but on Jesus, the Lord of all who holds this whole thing together.

Father, sometimes I get so distracted and I neglect to truly seek you. I let the negative and critical words of the enemy run like fire through my head. Forgive me, I want to choose to be different and to rest in you and your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

He Moves Mountains, Not Me.

He moves mountains without their knowing….(Job 9:5)

Many of us, myself included, are waiting for God to move a mountain or two in our lives. A health or financial crisis. A loved one that needs redemption. A friend that doesn’t seem to understand us anymore. We’re waiting on God to move the mountain so we can experience the joy of being set free from the burden we carry with us.

But friend, what I have learned in life is that, as much as we want to, we cannot move mountains for God or others. Gosh, I sure want to try though. Normally, when I start moving mountains for the Lord it’s because I think I’ve heard from Him, but really I’m just reacting out of fear. It’s also quite possible that I don’t think the Lord is moving fast enough, so I’ll step in and try to help Him out. But what happens in my life is not a mountain moved but a tired and worn out soul from trying to move all those mountains.

Then, there are other times when I try to move mountains for others so I’ll step in and give them all the right advice to move the mountain. I go into fix it mode. I don’t listen well. I become impatient and bothered by them. Instead of having the immense patience and grace of my Father I just become upset by the fact that they won’t do what I think needs to be done. But friend, that kind of attitude only makes us feel unsafe to the person we love. No one wants to be close to someone who just wants to fix them. They want to be close to someone who would learn the value of listening and giving their presence before their opinion.

God will move the mountain when the time is right. God doesn’t need our words and instruction towards anyone to do it. I know what you’re thinking though, “But if I don’t say these things, who will???” I get that. I’ve been there too, but sometimes our silence is our best suggestion as we learn the value of speaking only when God has positioned our lips to do it. That’s a skill I’m still learning.

Be reminded that before God can move a mountain outside of you, He needs to move one in you first, so sit long enough and wait for Him to do that before you try to leap over that mountain yourself.

Lord, you move the mountains, not me. I trust you to do that for me. Show me where I have tried to move them myself, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Words of Correction

Teach me, and I will be quiet….(Job 6:24).

The other night I was officiating a girls sophomore basketball game. We had an incident happen and I handled it. During halftime as I was describing the incident to the varsity crew who would be officiating the game after us one of the officials said, “Take it or leave it, but this is how I would have handled it.”

Immediately I felt my hair stand up, because internally I felt myself wanting to become defensive. This official went into a long explanation of how they would have done things differently. In my mind all I could think was….yeah…but I think you’re wrong. I think I handled this one right, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as an official, it’s that when veteran officials start speaking, I need to keep my mouth shut. So I did.

After some time passed he said something that struck a chord with me. In fact, I thought it was excellent advice, but it only came because I chose not to be defensive and argumentative. The good advice came after listening, even when I didn’t really want to.

Friend, many of us get so defensive (myself included) when we are brought under any kind of criticism or correction, but if we would choose to listen and wait we just might receive the advice we need. If we’d be willing to be humble long enough, the words we need to grow and become more Christ-like just might fall from the lips of the one who loves us enough to speak words of correction.

Lord, I pray that I would listen to those around me when it comes to my walk with you. That I would make myself silent and choose to grow through listening, patience and waiting. You are my joy and hiding place. Be my hope in all things, in Jesus name, Amen.

Deal With Your Anger

“The proud and arrogant person- “Mocker” is his name-behaves with insolent fury.”….Proverbs 21:24

Yesterday I reached out to some friends and asked them to pray for me. I felt myself getting angry at someone and I didn’t want that anger that I felt towards them to affect how I interacted with them.

Anger, not dealt with or kept in check will always spill out on the one we feel anger towards. Unless of course, we do something holy with it. Asking others to pray is humbling, but it is best. Not only does it set whatever we are feeling out into the light. It also brings it into the throne room of God as others support us in prayer. Things die there as God takes it and releases us from all the anger that we feel.

At least, that’s what happened for me yesterday. After asking my friends to pray, I didn’t feel so angry anymore. In fact, it wasn’t just that the anger was gone, I actually felt really good about this other person. Friends, prayer works when we invite others in.

So if you feel angry towards someone today, ask for prayer. Trust me, I’ll pray for you if you ask! God will take your anger and free you from it so that you don’t start treating people differently because of it.

After all, what I have found for me is that anger towards people is really more about anger over things that I cannot control. Since I need a target for our anger and we can’t really get mad at things, we find someone to be mad at instead. Maybe the person who caused the bad things to happen, didn’t protect us or just plain didn’t do what we expected. But this kind of anger actually shows us something deeper in our souls if we’re willing to sit with it. Simply because, if I feel angry because I cannot be in control of whats happening, it’s because I’m afraid of something that I need to release to God.

Father, I pray that I would live free from anger and alive in Christ. May my life be full of love as I watch you do your work, in Jesus name, Amen.

Be Careful What You Sow

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Be careful dear friend to take heed of the thoughts you sow into your heart and mind. Surely, many of them have been put there to destroy something good in your life.

Don’t even start to entertain them. This is the place I am currently finding myself. I am being challenged to change my thinking as I release unhealthy thoughts to God so that I don’t sow destruction in my life.

We should not be surprised when our relationships start to break down around us if we are critical in our hearts towards them. Because, friend, we played a large part in their destruction. Yes, us, not them, we are usually more the problem than the person we’re having the thoughts about. Simply because we told ourselves things about them or our situation with them that planted seeds of resentment, bitterness and anger.

Much of what we go through in life has little to do with what happened to us, but how we responded to what happened. The story we told ourselves through it and the messages we implanted in our hearts in light of the bad thing that happened. Things will always happen to us. Many of them we cannot control, but one thing we can control is how we respond.

I get it though, you feel tired of it and worn out by it. It has sucked your emotional, mental and spiritual energy. Now it’s holding you captive making you believe that things will never change and so you’d rather give up then keep holding on with faith. I understand all of that. I really do. So friend, maybe what we need is not a dose of a better life, but a daily renewal with God who fills our cup and reminds us that He is near.

That’s the only way we’ll make it. We just can’t drink from our discouragements or unchanging circumstances. When lightening strikes again and thunder hits once more we cannot chase it. We have to learn to rest instead in the goodness and mercy of God. That’s what I have to tell myself.

“Heather, rest in Jesus, find your delight now in Him, not in what just happened.” I would encourage you to do the same.

Lord, you never disappoint. You always come through. Be my resting place, each day, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Don’t Run, Keep Planting

The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright….(Pr 21:18).

A friend said to me not long ago, “Heather, God will reward you greatly for your faithfulness in this area.”

Can I be really honest? I hear what my friend is saying, I’m just not sure that all of me really wants to embrace the challenges surrounding it. I often find myself daydreaming about something different. Away from the struggle and challenges that surround it.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to cut it loose, give up and start over somewhere else? That’s the story I tell myself or if I could just go back and make a different choice….

But friend, maybe instead of cutting it off, we need to water it and stay long enough for God to make it grow.

What if it never grows, we ask? Well friend, the truth is that, if you sew spiritual seed, you will reap a spiritual harvest. Maybe what you need is not more starting over, but more staying in.

The thing I’ve learned on this journey through life is that what comes after us is what was sown into us. The things we sowed out of faith, not the decisions we made out of fear. The places we chose to stay in spite of their hardships because we believed that God was faithful to meet us there.

I just recently accomplished what I feel like is a significant milestone in my life. God called me back into a place that I did not live out well and so this time I chose to be faithful. Now I”m experiencing the blessing of God. He is releasing me from it.

I hear the Lord say, “You were faithful, good job.”

Friend, stay in it. Don’t run from it. I know sometimes you wish it wasn’t there, but God is growing your character more than your calling. Did you hear that? As your character grows your calling is reflected not in what you do, but in who you are becoming. The greatest gift you can give someone is not what you’ve done, but who you are and you who are is really made in the crucibles of life. That can be good or bad depending on how we choose to handle those situations.

But maybe you cut something off too soon, before the work of grace truly took place and now God keeps bringing you back. As He has done for me. Be reminded that your faithfulness to stay makes you more like Christ, not because you came out beaten and bruised but because you came out new, less anxious and trusting God more.

Lord, I trust the one who leads me. Forgive me when I wish I had something different. I want to be more like you along each step in this church. Transform me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Great Opposition

For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done…. (Ne 6:9).

Fear is still one of the enemies best tools that he loves to use against me. It’s something I’ve dealt with nearly all my life. I have to be very aware of what I”m thinking and feeling, because I am quick to respond to things in fear, instead of faith.

Nehemiah had a great work to do for God. To rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and because of this, he also faced great opposition. You and I will face great opposition too whenever we set out to build something that God loves.

Don’t be surprised if you feel overcome by all sorts of fears over the things you love. I deal with that as a mother often. The fear and what if’s run through my mind constantly. Sometimes those fear try to cripple me from setting out to try new things for my daughter because I’m so afraid that something bad “might” happen.

But friend, fear just wants you to drop the work that God has for you. Fear wants you not to try new things because of what “might” happen. Fear wants you to over indulge in all your worries so that you become controlled by the weight of them. Fear tells you not to talk that leap of faith, start that ministry or business, let your child go on that mission trip, sign yourself up to serve in the church or go to that counseling session. Fear tells you that you’ll never be good enough so why try. It does everything possible to tell you stop moving forward.

Friend, don’t listen to fear. Truly, it doesn’t want anything good for you. Keep building things that God loves and He will bless the work of your hands. Even if it feels like the project is going nowhere, just keep building and God will make it grow in His time.

Lord, I just want to be faithful to the work of your Kingdom. I want to be like Jesus to everyone I meet. I don’t want to live in fear. I want to stand on faith so today I give you all my fears and ask you to be Lord over them, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Only Approval You Need

….do not become slaves of human beings….(1 Cor 7:23)

Friend, there’s someones approval out there that you need. It is the Lord and because of His great love for you, you already have it. If you are His child, truly, He is so proud of you and loves you like any good Father would.

I know it’s hard though, because I do it too. Sometimes you live for the approval of others or you feel crushed when you don’t think that you have it. Instead of being OK with not always being the best in their eyes, you get caught up in trying to get them to like you.

Friend, it’s time to stop trying so hard to get people to like you and start being the one that helps them know how loved they truly are by the God of all glory who has showered His love and grace upon you. Then you just simply pour out to others the love, safety, approval and security that He has poured into you.

So many of us can be so insecure about ourselves. What a watching world needs is not another person seeking approval, but a lighthouse that points people to the one who approves of all God’s children- the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each day is an opportunity for me to see people. To offer an encouraging word. To help them see their worth. To lift them up and say something that will help them see that they don’t need anyone’s approval but His.

So wherever you find yourself today, rest safely in the love that God has for you, because friend, there is great peace for you there as you find the joy of being still in what God thinks of you and not everyone else around you.

You Didn’t Mess Up Too Bad For God’s Redemption

But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel…..(Ez 10:2)

I’ve know you’ve felt it, because I have too- did I mess up so bad that there’s no way to truly recover from this? Will I always be living with these consequences? Is God’s discipline always going to linger here with me because of this?

Friend, I want to say something to you today, because it’s what I’ve experienced for my life, your story is still being written. It is not true that you cannot recover. It is true that God will take your pain, mess ups and set backs and make something beautiful and good from them if you learn to rise from the ashes in humility and not cover your story in shame.

Whenever I have shared my set backs with others, God has always used it in a way to connect me to others who are on the same journey of becoming more like Him. It’s hard to share our stories though. Sometimes it doesn’t always feel safe and the rawness of them reminds us of where we’ve been and the mistakes we’ve made. We’d rather not share all of those. We’d much rather share all our successes. But God doesn’t use those the most. Friend, He just doesn’t. He uses our transparency to connect us to people. Which brings purpose from our pain and the roads we walked down because of sin.

God isn’t done with you. He hasn’t moved on to someone else. You didn’t mess up so bad that it stopped the plan of God in your life. Your story, life, and purpose is still in God’s hands. It’s really simply a matter of learning how to let go and be embraced by the Father through it. You see, God takes broken people and makes them His friends, not His enemies. He uses the gift of His new morning mercies to shower us with new hope for each day. Not to cover us in shame from what happened in former days.

I’ve learned that powerful lesson of holding fast to Him and believing that He works all things for good in my life and I know He wants to do that for you too.

Lord, you’re writing a good story. When I mess up, your grace still meets me. Make me more like you each day, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Who Do You Prioritize?

For we have forsaken the commands….(Ez 9:10)

Whenever I consider a decision I ask myself, “Is this what is best for my husband and daughter?”

In recent years I have been learning the value of putting others first. I can’t always say that in my former years. Truly, life was about what was best for me. I didn’t really care all that much about how my decisions affected those closest to me. I just expected them to be OK with the things I wanted to do. I had no idea how prideful and selfish I was until I started to ask God to speak directly into my life about my sin.

Friend, sin will eat everything we hold dear in our lives away if we don’t deal with it. It will seek to destroy us and those nearest. We cannot keep going on like this, something has to change. I remember a number of years ago having this epiphany about something I was prioritizing over a relationship before me. I wanted to chastise that person for not doing what I asked and as I was about to speak something came over me, “Heather, prioritize the relationship over your personal fears and preference.”

Since that day I have tried to do just that. Not always perfectly of course, but I have tried to live away from what feels best for me and try to ask myself what is best for those around me and prioritize their needs before my own.

Sure, sometimes this hasn’t always gone great for me at first, but God always proves Himself faithful to me. He has always met me and poured out His blessing when I have set aside my own selfish and sinful desires to place someone else’s needs above my own.

When we start doing that, relationships stop dying as we learn the value of becoming less than so that God can fill in the gaps of our lives as we truly start to love like Him.

Lord, here I am. Continue to show me my sin and how it affects my relationships. I want to be like you to everyone I meet, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.