2013 Roars In Like a Lion!

2013I am not the only one who has been hanging onto their hat since 2013 rounded the corner!  It seems like there is so much unrest with everyone.  Some might be worried about jobs or finances, what the fiscal cliff means to them and other political matters, gun control or no gun control, while others are struggling with health issues, relationship problems, etc.  I know this because I am the one that stands in the line at the supermarket while everyone around me including the cashier tells me about their problems.  I don’t know why it is but people just feel safe telling me stuff!

If you know me at all, you know that I am typically not a worrier and most always upbeat even when things are not perfect.  However, since I got the flu before Christmas, I am really struggling to get back on top of things.  The flu has been gone a long time now but its residual effects linger.  I don’t have a lot of energy and just yesterday had to start another round of antibiotics to try to get rid of the crud accumulating in my lungs.  Jim got sick this week too so between the two of us we are one lethargic couple!  Then today I found out that I might have breast cancer and am going to have a biopsy on Wednesday.  About an hour after receiving that news another doctor’s office called and said my cholesterol is sky high and I need to get on meds immediately as well as a low cholesterol diet!  I told him I would get right on that.  So that’s been my week, how has yours been?  I guess these are the perils of cramming all of your last minute doctor appointments and tests into the end of the year because your deductible for the year was already met!  Amidst it all, I’m trying desperately to be my positive upbeat self and stay focused on the important things even though 2013 has been total chaos thus far.

All of that aside, as I’ve been praying about the new year and what God might want from me in 2013, I have been impressed with a couple of things.  The first thing is that I feel God is calling me to pray harder this year.  I’ve always been a prayer warrior but I can almost feel Him saying, “Put on your full armor…be prepared for battle.”  Being the encourager that I am, this seems a bit negative for me to have those thoughts.  I’ve really been struggling with that.  I kept praying and thinking, really?  Does He really want me to tell people this for 2013?  Maybe I’m just overwhelmed with our sickness and it’s really not going to be that bad.

The second thing impressed on my mind has become my prayer to God.  I told Him I want to go deeper with Him this year.  I want to know Him more intimately and speak His messages more clearly for others to come to know Him as well.   I know that of course by praying more I will automatically become closer to Him as I commune with Him each day.  Since 2013 has begun I am beginning to wonder if by going deeper with Him that I may also have to experience more pain.  You know the sayings… “No pain, no gain and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Then the Bible reminds me in 1Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you…

I don’t want to bring a message of doom and gloom and say, “This year is going to stink!  I can feel it!”  However, I think God is telling us to pay attention.  Get on our knees and resist the evil that is roaring around us like a lion seeking to devour us.  There are also times when God uses our suffering and pain to draw us closer to Him.  The good news is there is hope in the suffering that when it is over we will be perfected, established, strengthened and settled according to His Word.

So I personally declare this year the year of prayer and vigilance for me.  I am putting on my full armor and it’s not coming off until my Lord takes me home.  Just a few closing thoughts for you to ponder…Nothing in this world is going to change without our vigilance in the battle and fervent prayer against the enemy.  Nothing in this world as evil as it may seem is too big for God to handle.  A world without prayer will continue to spiral out of control.  A world filled with prayer will someday be restored.  Will you join God’s praying army with me today and put on your full armor?  Are you willing to get into the battle and get a little dirty knowing that when it is over you will be blessed?  How is God speaking to you in 2013?  Be blessed and don’t forget…go be a blessing!

Live, Dream, Plan, Expect!

We all go through life imagining what the perfect life would look like don’t we?  We see others with more money…less stuff…more stuff…different jobs and no matter what, we wonder, “Would my life be better if I had what they have?”  I think if I just did this or that…all my problems would go away.

I remember one time before Jim and I got married we took three of our four kids on a weekend away at Cumberland Lake.  We had high expectations of the perfect weekend allowing our three kids still at home to get to know each other.  We had the perfect blended family in mind.   We had planned the weekend with fun things we knew the kids would enjoy doing.  When we got there, we unpacked the car and headed out for a day of adventure.  The first stop was one of those restaurants where you drive up and park.  Someone on roller skates came out to take our order and then skated back with our food some time later.   It was something different since we didn’t have one of these places back home and they had a nice assortment of food that the kids would enjoy.  It was the perfect stop for some famished kids.

My daughter and her friend were in the back with Jim’s two kids in the bucket seats in the middle of the van and Jim and I up front.  As the food was delivered, we all excitedly passed the goods around the van with the anticipation of the first “fun” we would have that weekend.  Most of us had taken a bite or two when one of the kids in the middle seat started choking.  He had bitten off a piece of his cheesestick and the cheese was stringing down the back of his throat not allowing him to move it up or down!  Jim turned around and held out his hand just in enough time to catch the flying, chewed up piece of cheese.  We all just sat there looking at our food.  One by one, each person put their food back into their bags and filed out of the van to the trash.   No one looked at each other but just returned to their seats, solemnly staring forward waiting for our next great idea.  Not wanting the day to start on a sour note, I cheerfully turned and asked, “Who wants to go bowling?”

By the time the weekend was over and we had all gotten to know each other a little better, we could laugh at our first experience as a “family”.  However, what we had expected for the weekend and what we got were two different things.  I can’t say it was bad because we didn’t get to enjoy our meal…it was just different.

Have you ever made the perfect plan with high expectations?  Perhaps it was a vacation, a new relationship or even a new home?  We live, we dream, we plan, we expect.  How does your relationship with God enter into your life, dreams, plans and expectations?  As children of the King, we should be living big, dreaming big, prayerfully planning big and expecting God to be in every little detail.  However, when we leave Him out of our lives, dreams, plans and expectations, things often fall apart.  Perhaps they might even go as planned but just aren’t as big a blessing as we expected them to be simply because we forgot to include God.

The truth is, we serve the CREATOR of the universe.  If we ask Him to come into our lives and fill our dreams with His plans for us, we should be expecting great things.  I see so many ask others to pray for them and the answer is, “Sure, I’ll pray for you,” in a monotone response.  Why aren’t we excited?  Why aren’t we expecting great things when we pray?  Is God a God you can’t count on?  Of course we pray for things and don’t always get the answer we asked for, but does that make God bad?

I so want to live a victorious life in Christ, don’t you?  I want to get excited about praying for God’s plan in my life and in others’.  I want to wake up every morning with a supernatural expectation that only God can give me.  I want to embrace the fact that the Creator of the Universe, Savior of the World wants me to join Him on HIS team and help HIM to reach others!  We serve an AWESOME GOD!  Why aren’t we excited and jumping up and down about it?

This week I travel to Northern Indiana for four speaking arrangements to share my personal testimony of how God came into my life and changed me.  My body and mind are weary from the last two weeks of saying goodbye to my brother in two memorial services, grieving over the void it leaves in my life, not much sleep for a while now and demands of things needing to be completed here before I go on the road again.  However, I have great expectations.  I know that my strength is not what gets me through; nor is it what is effective in leading others to Christ.  I depend on God who is my strength when I am weak and even when I am strong.  I know that if He is first, He will bless my travels and words despite my physical circumstances.  I’m expecting GREAT things!

What is God asking you to plan today for Him?  Has He invited you to serve Him in some way and you have not yet said yes?  What are you waiting for?  Life gets busy, we get tired, but it’s not about us.  It’s about Him.  Trust me.  Your results may not look anything like what you planned or dreamed but with God in the center of it all, you can expect the unexpected!   So go big!  Live life to its fullest, dream like you can’t lose, prayerfully plan with God in the center of it all and get EXCITED that you serve a God that exceeds any expectations you may have!  The key is to not stop.  Keep moving, praying, serving and expecting!  See you next week!

2Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Ephesians 3:20  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

When Life Feels Like it’s Spinning Out of Control…

We all love being in control, don’t we?  There are times in all of our lives though that it seems like all we do is wander aimlessly and no matter how hard we pray, nothing happens.  When we pray and God doesn’t answer immediately or even for years in some circumstances, we start falling into that “things are definitely out of control” mode and begin to panic.  When in reality, if we are praying and trusting God for answers, things are not out of control at all.  God hears our prayers and honors them–He is in total control once we’ve prayed. Satan would just like for us to think God’s not listening and that things out of control.

Today I was driving down the road following a big white Cadillac.  It was moving rather slowly and my first reaction was to be annoyed with their speed.  I was trying to make it on time for an appointment and they were starting to make it impossible to be on time.  I had an agenda and they were in my way!  However, as I looked closer, it appeared from the back of the car that there was in fact no one driving the vehicle!  There was not one head of a driver or passenger to be seen above the front seat head rests anywhere.  I quickly turned my frustrations of their slowness into laughing. I couldn’t see anyone driving, but I knew since the vehicle was stopping, starting and turning on turn signals 500 feet before they turned, someone was behind the wheel.  I don’t know why it is funny, but it just is because you know there is some little old man or old woman behind that wheel and they’re probably sitting on a pillow!

I realized with this scenario that I could choose to be entertained and laugh or I could be upset.  The one thing I knew was that I was no longer in control of my schedule; rather the person in front of me was.  There was nowhere I could go but just stay in the lane I knew would eventually get me there—the one I thought was going to get me there on time.

How many times are our plans and agendas stopped or slowed down by things we cannot control like slow moving vehicles in our path?  We have all been  in situations where we had a plan for our lives, prayed about it, stepped out in faith, and now things just aren’t working out as we had hoped.  Why is it when we pray about things that God doesn’t just make them happen? He seemed to say, “OK,” when we were making the plans, but now it just seems that He doesn’t care or isn’t listening as nothing seems to be going our way.   Boy this is the time where the enemy arises and puts all kinds of questions and doubts in our minds.  He really wants us to believe that God doesn’t care. If he is allowed, he will turn our focus onto things that really don’t matter in the big scheme of things, while taking our focus off of what God is actually doing in our circumstances.

I have recently been learning how to knit and to say the least, the experience has been interesting.  My goal is to make dishcloths like what my mom used to knit every Christmas for her kids and grandkids to have in their kitchens every year.  As I started following the pattern yesterday to make my first one, it just wasn’t looking right.  It’s supposed to end up square when it’s done but it was beginning to take on the shape of, of, of, I’m not sure what.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t looking like a dishcloth, though!  However, as I continue to work the pattern row by row, slowly but surely, it is starting to take form and I do believe when it is done, I may have a dishcloth!  It might not be perfect, but with a little practice, I bet the next one is wonderful!

Reflecting on today’s happenings, I am reminded that even when I can’t see God behind the wheel of my life, I have to have faith that He is there.  He sends signals here and there with unexpected happenings and/or blessing and we just have to teach ourselves to focus on those signs along the way and trust.  We may look at our dishcloths in life and think it is never going to be right even when we thought we were following the pattern exactly.  The same goes for our lives.  We can read God’s Word and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us, but we have to have faith that the outcome will be what God perfectly designed for our lives, even when it looks nothing like we imagined.

If we could always see the driver and the final outcome of our life’s dilemmas, why would we need God?  God uses these dry times in our lives to teach us and help us grow closer to Him.  Instead of panic and dismay, my prayer for you today is that even when you have that out of control feeling and think that life has thrown you another lemon, I hope you will find laughter instead of the turmoil that comes when we feel out of control and unloved by God. Have faith, He is still driving. As a matter of fact, the outcome He has planned for your situation is going to be a masterpiece.  Perhaps if it were a washcloth, it would win a blue ribbon at the county fair for workmanship!

Don’t allow the enemy to rob you of your joy.  Stay focused and trust that God has things under control.  Rather, laugh at your enemy that he has once again tried to cause you to stray and once again failed.  For when we are able to give up total control and trust, we can once again find the supernatural peace
and joy that only God can give.  Your answers may not come today nor even tomorrow, but rest assured they will come in God’s time. May His peace and joy be yours today while you wait and trust the Creator of the Universe to work it all out!

1 Peter 1:6-9   In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen,you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

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