Don’t Remove Your Heart From God

…..But they remove their hearts far from Me….(Isaiah 29:13)

Have you ever removed your heart from somewhere or someone because you felt like they just no longer cared about you or didn’t love or respect you the way you needed them to? I have.

Maybe you’ve removed part of your heart away from God because He feels distant. It doesn’t feel like He’s listening to your prayers so you stop believing that He’s going to come through for you and you simply remove your heart from Him. Then you wonder why He doesn’t feel as close, but maybe, just like me, you didn’t realize that’s what you were doing. You were simply trying to protect yourself from getting hurt again, because every time God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you were hoping it’s one more jab to your heart that you’d rather not have to deal with any longer.

Therefore, removing your heart feels safer, but friend, removing your heart from Him will not be good for your soul. It will cause you to flee from Him in all other areas. What you need is His closeness and His understanding. You need His daily grace.

Friend, life is hard, but with God there is strength and hope. Don’t draw your heart away from Him or from others because you’re just so disappointed. It could be that maybe this fire that keeps burning is meant for your redemption. Something bigger you can’t see. Could it be that some area in your life needs to die and this is how He’ll accomplish it? Removing your heart will just make you mad and bitter, so keep your heart engaged, because a day will come when He will wipe every tear and you shall see Him and be glad.

Lord, continue to show me where I have removed my heart from you or from others. Please forgive me when I do. Help me Lord when I feel weak. I need your grace. Please shower it upon me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

To Draw Near

When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord….(Leviticus 1:2)

The ancient Israelites were commanded by God to bring an offering of Korban before the Lord. Korban, at its root means “to draw near.” Therefore, the sacrifice the Israelites would bring before the Lord was given with the intention to draw nearer to God in worship.

It was also customary for anyone who entered the kings presence in the ancient world to bring a gift or some kind of tribute. To not bring a gift to the king was deeply disrespectful, because when you’re in the king’s presence you always offer up a gift.

Friend, if we know Jesus, you and I have the King of Glory residing in us. Each day and moment affords for us an opportunity to give the gift our bodies, hearts, minds and souls as a gift that would cause us to draw nearer to the King.

What then is not drawing you nearer? What part of you, heart, body, mind and soul is not being offered up as a living sacrifice of Korban to your King? Is it your will? Your thoughts? Your vocation? Your calling?

Friend, be reminded that because He lives inside of you, your life is the best gift you can give to the King who wants to meet with you today.

Lord, may my life be given as a offering of worship today, because I want to draw nearer. Help me to do that now through your Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.

Room For His Presence

and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God(2 Chronicles 5:14)

I am notorious for shoving things into a space instead of taking the time to create space for them. This is one of the reasons why my husbands hates it when he opens the refrigerator or sees how I put dishes in the dishwasher. His priorities for creating space for things to be put in their proper place are much different than mine.

If I’m being honest, sometimes I’ll shove a thought into my mind that there’s no space for either but I just want some sort of mental escape from my current reality. Instead of creating space for the good thoughts of God to dwell I’ll shove in thoughts of selfishness, pride and the like. However, the more I have matured in Christ the more I recognize these thoughts much quicker and seek to cast them out to create space for God once again. Sometimes I’m quicker to cast them out than other times.

Because friend, we cannot be a dwelling place for the full presence of God to reside if we have shoved in thoughts of selfishness, pride, unrighteous anger, unfaithfulness, doubt, fear, and anxiety.

Could it be that your relationship with God feels dull and unfruitful because you’ve not made room for the fullness of His presence to dwell within your thoughts? Could it be that you’re struggling in your marriage or family relationships because you told yourself something negative about that person and now you can’t get that thought out of your mind? Therefore, instead of the love of God filling your mind and heart thoughts of anger and resentment reside.

Much of what I taste and see from the Lord is really all about what I let into my mind first. Some of us never get to drink deeply of God’s goodness and provision in our lives because we are too busy feeding thoughts of insecurity, fear, control, pride, etc. If you go about your days angry at the world and those around you, you’re feasting from the wrong table. Friend, you’re shoving in thoughts that aren’t meant to be there, because theirs no room for the fullness of His presence to fill you with joy everlasting.

So go ahead, open up the dishwasher of your thoughts. What have you shoved in their that doesn’t create space for God? Take it out and replace it with something that makes more room for Him.

Lord, I pray that I would drink deeply of your love because I’ve made space for it first in my mind. I pray the story I’m telling myself is one of hope, joy and life that’s only made sweeter in Jesus. I want your presence to fill me in every part, so if something is filling my mind that isn’t making room for more of you than please show me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Do You Ride the Sinking Ship Of Others?

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall….(Matthew 7:25)

Earlier this week Adah and I attended story time at the library. As you can imagine, story time with a bunch of little ones can tend to be fairly unpredictable. Sometimes kids are climbing on things, crying, walking aimlessly around the room, hugging other kids or throwing a small tantrum when the library worker is reading us a story.

On this particular day a woman came in with her four children. In my estimation ranging in ages 18 months to around 7 years of age. She had a busy crew who didn’t always sit still but she remained so patient. She never seemed annoyed. She didn’t allow herself to get caught up in the wind of her children’s disobedience. She simply spoke to them with a steady voice, laying out the consequences of their poor choices, but never allowing those choices to rock her.

I don’t normally see that from most parents. What I normally encounter is a frazzled, anxious, hurried mom who gets swept up in anger over her own child’s poor behavior. Thus, loosing her peace of mind and I’ve been that mom too.

I couldn’t help but think that this woman’s steadiness offers us a picture of what life can be like as we follow Jesus through the storms of life and the poor decisions of others. She never let the choices of her children rock her, but what about you and me? Do you get angry at those close to you when their decisions make you look bad, bring heartache into your life, press your buttons of fear or worry or just plain annoy you? I can’t say that I’ve always remained steady. I have certainly allowed my own issues with control and fear to direct me instead of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7 that when a wise person builds their house on the rock, the storms can come, the winds can blow, but the house will continue to stand. Friend, what about you? Is your faith so grounded in Jesus that no matter what life brings, no matter who hurts you, does you wrong or disappoints you, your faith remains unmovable and your life becomes unbothered?

The reality is if we have people close to us, and we all do, they will walk through their own storms, but friend, don”t let it become your storm too. God really is in control and when my fears start to press in I remind myself that human beings are not in control, but God is in control. Therefore, I can remain calm and steady when those around me are living in chaos. I can live at peace knowing that through wisdom and faith, if my house is built upon the rock, Jesus will always make a way for me.

Lord, I trust you. When storms come, you are my steady place. Be that for me each moment. I pray I don’t get caught up in the chaotic storms that those around me find themselves in and that I don’t let their sinking ship be the one I find myself on, in Jesus name, Amen.

Faith Is Hard When Afflictions Hits Again

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!….Mark 9:24

There are days when I feel like the man in Mark chapter 9 with who had faith, but also struggled with unbelief.

Can God really pull through? How can I keep going through this over and over again? Am I going to have to deal continually with the consequences of this reality? Will I walk away scared and bruised or better than I was before?

Friend, do you realize that Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because of the ungodly, selfish choices of others and God protected him there? Yes, you might be in the lion’s den today because of someone else’s choices, but don’t you see, your God is big enough and mighty enough to protect you there. It’s the very place He showcases His power in you if you’re willing to believe that the place of your affliction is the place of your deliverance.

So friend, whatever is pressing you into the den of affliction, don’t push it out of your life, let God deliver you in it. Don”t become angered by the people who put you there because of their own selfish choices, but stand tall knowing that victory is already yours. As you stand in faith and continue to move forward (even though you sometimes wonder if you have the faith to do it) the Lord will meet you with the grace, victory and power you need to walk by faith and not by sight. He’ll restore what the locusts have eaten and He’ll promote you to a greater place of honor as you serve Him in the Kingdom. Not a place of honor for yourself, but a place where you can showcase and honor His name as He delivers you in your affliction.

Therefore, stay faithful in your job, parenting, friendships, marriage and family relationships. The hardship you’re going through in it can either bring you out of something in freedom or plant you deep in bitterness. The choice is yours.

Let your light shine in your affliction, that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Sometimes when I thrown into the lion’s den I doubt if I’ll come out without scars and better than I was before. Forgive me for my lack of faith. Help me now to walk in the victory that is mine in Christ Jesus! Amen!

Sometimes I Don’t Want To See It Restored

Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell…(Isaiah 58:12)

Many, many times I have built a tall tower with my child, only to watch her destroy it just so that we can start over again. After all, every moment spent with her, even though we often do the same thing on repeat over and over again is investing in our relationship. Especially those moments of rebuilding.

Satan is a destroyer. One thing he cannot do is create. It’s not what he does. He takes created things and seeks to destroy them through deception, faithlessness, unresolved anger, bitterness and hatred.

There are moments in my life when I’m just kind of done rebuilding. Why? Because I’ve put so much effort into it and it continues to crash and fall. Just like I sometimes get tired of rebuilding the same tall tower with my child I also get tired of rebuilding the same issue, relationship or opportunity that has come crashing down once more.

In my sinful state part of me just wants the whole thing to crumble and stay that way so I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Sadly, in that state I don’t want to see it resurrect because I lack the faith to believe that it can be better than before. Therefore, I’ll stop praying for God to restore it and start to think about its destruction.

Friend, we must silence the destructive voice of the deceiver and side with God as we seek to continually restore things broken down by sin. Trust me, I know its hard. I know its laborious and painful. I know you don’t really want to put anymore effort into it, but please, just as I am telling myself, keep the long view in mind.

Seeing this area in your life be destroyed so that you don’t have to deal with it any longer will NOT produce something of greater worth or value in your life. Prayerfully asking God to work to restore and redeem will keep your heart and mind on things above. As hard as it is, keep praying and keep believing that God can restore this thing and that only He can make it better than it was before. If it never gets better and you go to your dying breathe at least you sided with God and His desire to restore and make all things new.

Lord, my heart is troubled. Forgive me that I don’t always side with you but instead with the destroyer. Forgive me for not wanting the things that please your heart. Help me now to live in what you see as good, in Jesus name, Amen.

The God Who Sees You

You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me….(Gen 16:13)

Have you ever felt invisible to others or like they just never really saw you? As though your life seemed unimportant or insignificant to them? Maybe hardship and heartache entered into your life and you had hoped they would be there for you but they were not. It’s quite possible that even their own hands brought heartache to you when all you really wanted from them was love and acceptance.

Hagar, a slave woman in the house of Abraham reminds us that when others do not see us or when they mistreat us God still sees us. That brings me great comfort in knowing that whatever life brings me, whatever heartache or pain, and if there are people who forget me or let me go for whatever reason, He is the God who sees me.

After fleeing from a situation where she was mistreated by someone close to her Hagar met with God in the wilderness as she proclaimed, “You are the God who sees me.” There she built a well and called it Beer Lahai Roi, which means, “Well of the living one who sees me.”

Friend, whenever you find yourself in the wilderness. because someone has mistreated or forgotten you, build for yourself a well and drink from it deeply. Truly, He is the God who sees you. As you drink upon His love you’ll no longer feel alone or forgotten. You’ll not feel abandoned or betrayed, but satisfied. Yes, satisfied in the God who sees you.

Lord, you are the God who sees me. Thank you for seeing me. Help me now to walk in the grace and favor of your love. Not in anger or in spite. Not in fear or hatred, but in your love. Your love that fills me as I drink deeply from the one who sees me, Amen.

Have That Hard Conversation

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you…..(Eph 4:32)

Years ago a person close to me hurt me deeply. I harbored deep bitterness and anger towards har. I did a good job of hiding all of it until one day it all came pouring out. Of course, it was ugly. It was not kind, but it was the beginning of forgiveness. I apologized for my actions and we actually came to a point of deep forgiveness and reconciliation with one another.

Some of us are so afraid of upsetting others in conversation that we just don’t have the hard talks. A few weeks ago I was officiating at a youth tournament. I was working with someone I’d never worked with before. Someone newer to the officiating world. I am by no means a veteran official, but I certainly had more experience than this person. During the first couple of games we had some younger boys and although my partner had far too many whistles and called many, many fouls and violations that were clearly in my area I didn’t say anything to him about it, because I didn’t want to rock the boat. Until we started having some 7th grade boys games and all of those little problems became big problems at the older level.

I thought, “I have to talk to him.” Truthfully, I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want to upset him, but I knew I had to so we could call a better game.

As soon as our short halftime began, I said to him, “We have to adjust.” Then I spoke some loving but hard words to him about his officiating. He heard me, listened and adjusted. The rest of the day went so much better. It was amazing. All because I was willing to have a conversation that could have potentially went bad.

We need to have the hard conversations. Even if they’re a bit ugly. We need to have them. If we don’t, only bitterness and resentment grow. We give space for the enemy to fill our head with all manner of lies. Lies that only divide us further. So friend, if you feel like talking about it just isn’t worth it because you’ve been down this road so many times, keep talking. Not talking about it, shutting down the conversation before it starts only further divides you and that person, but I get it, part you says, “Forget it, this relationship isn’t worth it! I’ll give my energy to relationships that are more life-giving and fun.” I understand all of that, but at the end of the day, most relationships are more worth it than we think, so keep pursuing one another in forgiveness and reconciliation and if you have a hard word, say it in love.

Lord, help me to see first your kingdom and to love others deeply. To forgive and let go. To trust and abide. To walk by faith and not by sight. Lord, help me to do that now, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Did They Really Speak From God?

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble…(Psalm 9:9)

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone dear to me. As this person was speaking I realized quickly that what they were saying was not from God. It just wasn’t. I’m sure they meant well. In their brutal honesty its quite possible that maybe they just weren’t thinking much about what they were actually communicating. Either way, I rejected their words as from God because I know that God does not speak in words of guilt, fear, shame or condemnation. Friend, He just doesn’t, but people use them against us like that all the time.

It’s true that God will use others to speak a words of correction over us and we should heed their words when they do, but it is also true that people can speak out of their own fear. Which can cause deep confusion in us. At least, it has for me in the past. If someone I trust speaks a word to me such as this dear one did I can start to question, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I being selfish? Is this all about me?”

Friend, when you feel that way too, because of the words of someone else, take it to God. Yes, take to Him right away and ask Him what He wants to say to you. As I did that I felt a peace fall upon me and His voice spoke deep into my Spirit. Confirming in me what I believe God has been leading me in.

Friend, I don’t know what discouraging words have been spoken over you. I want to encourage you to stay focused on the words of your Father in Heaven. Don’t hang your hat on words spoken in fear, guilt, shame or condemnation. Hang your hat at the door of your Father in Heaven. Let Him affirm you. Truly, He is good to you and longs to speak His words of life into you.

Lord, you are the words of life and peace! May my heart live in that deep peace today. Through the risen Lord Jesus, Amen.

Weigh Out Your Motivations

how majestic is your name in all the earth…(Psalm 8:1)

The other day I was sitting in an officiating clinic surrounded by many, many officials. Our presenter was talking with us about why we officiate. He said, “We do it for the student athletes, because some of those kids are just really awesome kids. We do it for them.”

His statement caught me off guard a bit because I started asking myself some hard questions. Why do I do this? Is my motivation truly to serve other people or meet some need for myself and even, quite possibly, meet some unhealthy need in myself? As I weighed out those options in my own heart I realized that what was true of me, sadly, is sometimes more so the latter than the former. I’d like to say that I officiate to serve God and to help my family and I think that’s mostly true, but then there are parts of me that once the game starts is looking for some kind of approval. Which falsely places my identity in what I’m doing, not in the one I’m serving, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This can be true in nearly every facet of life. We can be serving God, working hard for Him and do it out of a need to serve something that’s unhealthy inside of us. I’m still on that journey of daily dying to this reality.

As soon as the whistle blows I have to constantly remind myself to keep looking up to Heaven, to the one who affirms me. As I look up to Heaven in those moments of pure vanity when I start to think all about me I am reminded that His name is the only one that is the most majestic name in all of the earth. If people forget my name, but remember His than I have won the victory. Truthfully though, this is a hard one for me to truly live out. There are absolutely parts of me that God is crucifying so that I can lift up His name in all I do so that others see Christ in me.

Lord, your name is the only name to be praised in all the earth. I pray my motives are pure and that my intentions are never to serve my own unhealthy needs, but others and you. Let it be, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.