“Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the woman who takes refuge in Him!” - Psalm 34:8
When I was little girl, I loved to eat pickles. It didn’t matter if they were Dill pickles, whole pickles, chopped pickles, sweet pickles, crunchy pickles, green pickles, oval pickles, or zesty pickles. As long as they were pickles, I loved them! I vividly remember, when I was seven years old, I quietly scooted the chair from our kitchen table over to the stocked pantry so I could reach the top shelf. You see there was a brand new jar of pickles beautifully displayed and calling out my name. As I climbed up on top of the chair and elevated my toes to the position of a ballerina on point, I reached as far as my arms would stretch and barely grabbed the glass container of my favorite snack! With my mouth watering at the thought of my first bitter-bite, I stood on that pedestal determined to eat what I came for. In no time, I began to devour and consume as many pickles that would fit in my mouth. Half way through the jar, my mom came into the kitchen and saw what looked like a tiger eating its prey. Looking back now, it is odd to me that she didn’t grab the jar out of my hand and forbid me to eat anymore. Instead she looked at me and said, “Holly, put down those pickles and stop eating them. They will hurt your stomach and make you sick!” Then she walked out of the room and like a typical seven year old I ignored her warning and kept filling my stomach. My sensational appetite dominated the truth that was spoken over me and I stayed determined to finish the whole container. I gobbled a total of at least two hundred pickles slices that morning. I quickly hid the evidence at the bottom of the trash can so that no one would know that I ate the whole thing. Stuffed as a teddy bear, I ran to meet my mom who was waiting for me in the car. I strapped on my seat belt and we took off to my dental appointment. At every twist and turn in the car I began to feel those pickles dancing around in my stomach. A woozy sensation washed over me like a tidal wave in the ocean and before I knew it those pickles danced their way back up and all over my mom’s brand new Cadillac. To say the least, my “secret” wasn’t a secret anymore!
I wonder if you see the “hidden message” in my story? You see, this memory of mine is a perfect representation of how we are tempted to eat what we think is good and the great lengths we take in order to consume it. Usually our temptation is packaged in a way that looks very appealing to our senses and even our taste buds, but could result in sickness or even spiritual death. Interestingly enough, just like my mom gave me the option to choose what was right and she didn’t grab the pickles out of my hand and make the choice for me, so does our heavenly Father treat us. This world offers many things and invites us to eat and partake of them, while God on the other hand offers us a diet that will bring LIFE. It’s up to us to make the healthy choice. God will not rip those unhealthy choices from our hands; instead He will lovingly give us the truth while offering us a well-balanced replacement. His counsel is always followed with a solution. Instead of speaking on His behalf, allow me to read straight from His mouth from Proverbs. “So listen, My daughters, to everything I tell you for nothing will bring you more JOY than following My ways. Listen to My counsel for My instruction will enlighten you; You’ll be wise not to ignore it. If you wait at Wisdom’s doorway longing to hear a word for every day, JOY will break forth within you as you listen for what I will say. For the fountain of life pours into you every time that you find Me, and this is the secret of growing in the delight and favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).
“Then the LORD (finally) answered Job out of the storm.”
- Job 38:1
People often ask me how I can tell the difference between when God speaks to me, or my own imagination. The simple answer sounds like this; the difference is like two petite metal thimbles clanging together from the rhythm of your fingers and a two hundred-instrument orchestra. There is no comparison!
When God speaks the world is created (Genesis 1:1-31), when God speaks nations are struck down (Revelation 19:15), when God speaks the demons have to flee (Matthew 8:32), and when God speaks the dead come back to life (John 11:43). Over and over again we see countless examples of God speaking to His people throughout scripture, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Hope, that the God we read about from back then is still the same God today, who reaches out and communicates to His people in a really big way! We put our hope in Isaiah 30:21, “That whether we turn to the right or to the left, our ears will hear a voice behind us, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” God’s priority is to carry along a dialog with His children, which is understood as the lifeline to an intimate and personal relationship with Him. Where in the world did this notion that God does not speak to us anymore get fabricated? As if the Almighty had already said enough two thousand years ago and now just sits quietly on the thrown waiting until the day He can finally speak His mind, when He sees us face to face.
Today we will close the pages of a seven-week study that characterized the dramatic testimony of Job’s life. Yet before we do, we will partake in one last thrill from the climax of this novel and attempt to digest the powerfully spoken words to Job from the very breath of his Creator. When God speaks, the mouth of Job is finally shut and his confusion and complaining are eliminated. Once again, we will use Job as an example of how God speaks to us and compare personal testimony of how He is still speaking today. Be prepared to discuss seven steps we should consider when we hear from God, this way we will know what to do once He has spoken.
So buckle up and strap on your faith this morning, because in order to hear from God there is an element of faith that is required to show up. As we all know, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), well I would like to pitch out to you that, without faith it is impossible to hear God! So for this lesson, I pray that God will help us overcome our unbelief and bless us with a double portion of this beautiful gift called, FAITH!
“When the two disciples heard (John) say this, they followed Jesus.”
- John 1:37
On the count of three everyone take in a deep breath. Ready? One, two, three…breath in...breath out! We have finally completed our lengthy journey through two books of Old Testament writings, which consisted of an enduring hike that lasted thirteen weeks down the yellow brick road. Just as our jogging shoes began to develop holes in their soles, we finally reached the end and put down our walking sticks. Only to pick them right back up for our next far-off expedition through the Gospel of John. Except this New Testament trip is packed tight with tons of “good news.” Any time I spend a considerable amount of hours in the pages of Old Testament; I begin to feel vitamin “C” deficient. That is, I am longing to devour the scriptures that talk about Christ and are under the new covenant. And what better way to load up on a healthy dose of vitamin “C” (Christ) than with the book of John?
Over the years I have heard numerous believers, who are filled with the Holy Spirit say, “Evangelism is just not my spiritual gift!” So therefor they excuse themselves from the privilege of saving a soul from death. My question always in response to them is, “Since when was evangelism listed as one of the nine gifts in first Corinthians twelve?” Last time I checked, it didn’t make the list. As believers in Christ, we do not need any particular gifts or calling to tell the good news of Jesus to others. We simply need to just obey God. The last command Jesus gives to ALL His believers before returning to sit at the right-hand of God is:
“Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”
(Matthew 28:19-20). Charles H Spurgeon says it beautifully, “If you are eager for real joy…I am persuaded that no joy of growing wealthy, no joy of increasing knowledge, no joy of influence over your fellow creatures, no joy of any other sort, can ever be compared with the rapture of saving a soul from death.”
God is not at all interested in what we can do for Him, He is interested in what He can do through us. As you discover and experience the reality of Christ living in you and your true identity in Him, you will start to see more people come to Christ accidently than you had ever been able to lead to Him on purpose in your own strength. Perhaps the Lord is tugging on your heart to become more intentional about sharing Christ? God places people in each of our lives who are in desperate need of Him (don’t pretend- you already know who those people are). Today, this class is designed to present the question; How will you respond?
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
Will you slip away with me for a brief moment in time and allow your imaginations to give birth to an explosion of scenery that is filled with dramatic details and descriptions? I want to help paint a picture by stroking an imaginary canvas with expensive acrylics and fine feathered brushes. With your eyes closed and your mind ready to create, start by focusing on a familiar sound of adrenaline-crazed people screaming and hollering in a mighty arena as the event is about to start. The rumble that pumps throughout your entire body comes from this multitude of spectators simultaneously slamming their feet into the aluminum bleachers. The rhythm of their beat seduces your thoughts and tempts you to want to join in with them as you are led out into the open by a team of hungry vultures. As you turn to the right and to the left, there is a Voice behind you saying, “Don’t walk this way” but you dismiss it and continue to be lured. The combination of booze, foul body odor, and fear fills the air and burns your nose. Unaware of where you are or how you got there, your vision becomes a little clearer. You are now standing alone in the center of a cold, iron cage that is in the shape of an octagon. The blood that has been previously shed on the floor catches your attention and forces you to focus. Sweat drips down your forehead and the hordes of people begin to chant… “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!” The reality of where you are begins to hit you in the face like a title wave from a tsunami. You had known that the Ultimate Fighting Championships where in your hometown, unfortunately you were unaware that YOU were the main event! Just then you recognize that you have a coach in your corner and as He begins to prep you, His name tag catches your attention, “Holy Spirit.” He whispers with conviction in your ear like a sunset speaks to the onlooker. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Before you can thank your Mighty Counselor; He steps to the side and the announcer reaches down to the depths of his belly and belts out in acapella… “Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeee!” At once the whole stadium jumps to their feet and their voices roar like the raging waters from Niagara Falls. Up until this point your opponent has not been revealed, but you have been painfully aware of his presence. This kind of evil spirit is not like anything you have ever experienced before. It is cunning, baffling, seductive, confusing, mind altering, controlling and oppressive all at the same time. There is a raw awareness that everyone in the stadium is under his command and they worship and bow down to him. All of a sudden you feel very alone and fear begins to plague you like a deadly virus. Just then you look up and see your enemy, a roaring lion, licking his chops and coming for you! It is clear he wants to kill and devour you for all to see. He holds nothing back and has nothing to lose. He wants you and will stop at nothing to have you!
Be ready! Get prepared!
Write from my heart,
1 Peter 3:1-4
"Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the
word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and
reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
My husband and I have been married for nine years and the beginning of our marriage was all but easy. Jason and I both came to the table with enough baggage to fill a Boeing 747. I might have
claimed at the time that my baggage was fine leather Gucci while his was only a brown paper sack, yet baggage is baggage no matter how fine or fancy the leather and it all needed to be sifted through.
You see, I had simply married a maverick and I thought that I could be the one to change him. I walked into this marriage thinking, what I believe a lot of women think, and that is I can be the “conviction” he needs to experience in order to get his life straight. I could lend the Holy Spirit a hand and POOF… just like that he would be changed forever. Before I go any further, how do you think that theory worked out for me? Yea, just like you would imagine… it didn’t.
Very quickly into the marriage my plan started to backfire and my husband began to naturally rebel against my controlling behavior. It took me two years with this child-like conduct until I forfeited and
turned to God for His approach. Of course God led me to this oldie but goodie verse in first Peter chapter three and He kept gently reminding me of it until it seeped into the marrow of my own bones.
Only when I gave the Holy Spirit His job back and allowed Him to be in control of my husband, is when I saw my precious man falling at the foot of Christ, by his own choice. My prince was “won over
without words by the behavior of his princess “(vs. 2).
A while back, my husband dedicated a song to me and I believe it perfectly speaks from my man’s heart about the genuine gratitude he has for me loving him unconditionally the way God has designed it, even when he was hard to love at times. I had not always loved him the way God desired but now I do and I marvel at Jason’s ability to express how he sees me love him. Here is a video clip of the song and I believe you will hear your own man’s cry as he pours out his heart to his princess, who is steadfast to love him just like Jesus!
OH, did you ladies hear that last point in my illustration? If we could all get on board with allowing the Holy Spirit to be the one to convict our husbands and we lay aside our own need to control
them, I believe many marriages would be saved throughout the world. I went to a ladies Bible study this week filled with darling outfits, great snacks and lots of laughter. We had the chance to sit at a large, circular table with several married women and I heard the same thing confessed out of each vulnerable mouth. We all greatly desired to control our men and our own circumstances.
Proverbs 14:1 says “a wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” I believe that God had in mind for this verse, the wife who uses her beauty, emotions, words,
manipulation, power, sex, affection, children, position, or who could leave out the silent treatment, to gain what she wants from her husband. This is extremely dangerous behavior and is a platform used by the enemy to tear down marriages by using one woman’s hand at a time.
According to Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, the divorce rate is still twice as high as it was in 1960. It is estimated that for couples marrying today, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains between 40 and 50 percent before one partner dies, although this percentage is significantly
lower for those who marry after age twenty-one, graduate college and are committed to God.
Hold onto your lower jaw as I report to you that one out of every two children in the United States will live in a single-parent family at some time before they reach the age of eighteen. In 2002 about twenty million American children lived in a household with only their mother or father. These sobering statistics bring great pain to my soul and grievance to the Spirit, as I am sure it does the same for you too. That is why it is essential to get on God’s program on how to behave in our marriages.
Peter reminds all wives to “submit themselves to their own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the
purity and reverence of your lives” (vs. 1-2). If the wife is a believer in Christ and her husband is not, then this marriage is what the bible calls “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Your household will
experience strife and disagreement with no fellowship, there will be little harmony and commonality between the both of you
(2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Are you interested to know what God instructs the wife to do in this case? Does this give the wife the one opportunity to divorce her husband? God’s answer is, NO! Listen carefully to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:13-14, “If a woman has a husband who is NOT a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife… otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” If a woman finds herself in this situation, God is advising you to stay in the marriage and submit to your husband. God will use your Christ-like behavior (grace, forgiveness, unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to win over your husband and draw him to his knees. Another thing to consider are your children, the scripture tells us that if you divorce your unbelieving husband then your children are no longer clean and
holy. OUCH! That is a huge point that must not be overlooked! I encourage the women who are in this season to fight the good fight and to finish the race. Don’t give up beloved and take the easy road, there will be a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to you on that day (2 Timothy 4:7).
Are you like one of the women I mentioned earlier, who sat around the table and confessed their great desire to control their husbands? Do you use something to control him like manipulation, sex,
anger, or deceiving words? Did you know that in Proverbs 6:16 we are given a warning of the six things that the Lord HATES. One of the six is “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” Ladies, if we are
not careful, we are camping out in a territory that can crush us like a tennis shoe will crush an ant. Stay Strong and seek God's wisdom for your marriage!
Right from my heart,
To have a personal relationship with the Lord is something that requires “experience” to be able to fully understand. In order to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit, it takes listening, obedience, and reading the Word of God to learn what He sounds like. It is like any human relationship that you encounter on earth. In order to be close to that person and know all their personality traits, you have to spend time with that person. Intimacy with God is something that can NOT be taught by just going to church on Sunday.
“My sheep hear my voice; I hear them and they follow me.”
Several years ago “I heard” the Holy Spirit speak to my heart over His beloved, Leila. Sweet Leila is a precious child that God so loves and He asked that Lexi (my daughter) and I pray for her ever night during our prayer time together. We did not know Leila personally but she was a five months old baby that had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She was admitted into the hospital for heart surgery and that was when I had heard of her story. Each night Lexi and I would lift her up in prayer and ask for God’s protection.
A few days after Leila's surgery, I received an update through a care page that her mother kept. As I began to write a comment on her page, I sensed that the Lord was using my fingers to write what HE wanted to say to Leila's mother to give her hope. I typed...
“We are keeping Leila warm through blankets of prayer” and then I quoted Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm….”
The next day, I went to visit the care page to see how Leila was doing and there was a new picture of Leila posted from the previous day. The hair on my neck stood straight up as I fully took in God’s confirmation to me, that it was HIM speaking through me on that simple blog comment I wrote the previous night. There was a picture of little Leila under a “blanket” that was embroidered with the scripture verse Jeremiah 29:11.
I had never seen that picture before writing that comment!
The tears fell from my eyes and I whispered to God… “You are clearly amazing!" And just like that, God blessed me in return for lifting Leila in prayer (through obedience).
What an honor it is to serve the Lord. GOD IS WITH US!
I attached the picture of little Leila under God’s “blanket of prayer!" The next time you start to worry, just remember…..He’s got YOU "covered!"
Right from my heart,
One of my most favorite scriptures in the whole bible is John 20:6-9. This verse not only reveals the resurrection of our Lord and Savior but it also quietly speaks of the character of Jesus through His actions, not just His words. If you are careful to pay attention to what this verse is really saying, you will feast your eyes upon a hidden treasure when the disciples come to find an empty tomb…
“Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple who had reached the tomb, also went inside. He saw and believed. They did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead”.
Did you see it? Did you catch the tiny hint that was left for the true seeker to find? Notice the scripture verse says that the linen from Jesus' head was “folded up”. If I would have to guess, I would say that this moment in time would have probably been the most holiest of days for the Trinity. A day that was one of the top days on the Kingdom calendar and STILL Jesus displays His ability to be patient and in control by folding His linens before being resurrected (for CRYING OUT LOUD). How many of you make your bed every morning when you are in a rush to be somewhere? Talk about being in full control of everything! Only our Creator could have been so perfect that he would not just rush out the tomb and head out to where He belongs. He took His time and showed us that He was in control of everything! It’s a small but profound message He had “left behind”!
Another thing to note would be a certain Jewish tradition that was practiced during that time. After a person was finished eating at the table, he would fold up his napkin to express that he was finished. Do you remember the last words Jesus spoke on the cross in John 19:30? He said,
"It is finished!"
The cloth that was folded up spoke to the Jews that IT IS FINISHED!
One last thing that I feel is important to share about the cloth being folded; Was that it quietly told us that Jesus' body could not have been stolen from the tomb, like people were reporting. Think about it... if you came to steal a dead body the thief would had never removed the linens and exposed his decay, while attempting to carry it out of the tomb. All the while folding the cloth appropriately.
What do you think?
If anyone of you is struggling with allowing God to be in control of your life? Let this scripture speak to your heart! God has got the whole world in His hands…. Even down to the cloth that was wrapped around His head!
Right from my heart,
Today is the day that the Lord has made... we will rejoice and be glad in it! Have you rejoiced in the Lord today? Pick something you are grateful for and make sure to let Him know! We all want to be appreciated, even The Great Papa delights in hearing our appreciation!~
Last week in my blog, I opened up to you about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how intimate He is with His children. He greatly desires to connect with us and share His infinite LOVE on a very personal and deep level. Even though I can articulate those words to you, it still has not completely sunk into the marrow of my bones. I mean, let me hand it to you…. The moment we can really grasp that fact, the only place we are going is straight down to the ground to breath up carpet fuzz in awe and worship!
Do you remember how I told you that My Papa will lead me to a precious treasure in the airport filled with a themed message? Well two airport visits ago, He led me to this unfamiliar book called Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris. Trudy is a truly amazing hospice nurse who has passionately pursued Christ while serving His people with love and admiration. Trudy stayed consistent with chasing the face of Jesus to capture a moment that He would reveal Himself in mighty ways. This book is her testimony, along with other people’s intimate stories of how Christ would show up at such a critical moment in a person’s life…. Those last hours before they entered into their final destination! Trudy says that there are so many lessons people are trying to teach us, moments before they die. We had better listen. She was standing on Holy ground during these moments, and she/we dare not miss one of them.
Frederick’s story is one that I would like to share with you because I believe this particular story stands out in a special way. Even though each story in the book, shares a common thread, I believe this message is an extra special message to Jesus, alone! If He could tell us all straight to our faces, I think He would say…. “Oh, Oh, pick Fredrick's story…pretty please…it’s my favorite”! So on behalf of Jesus…here it goes!
Pay close attention to EVERY little detail, and if you know Jesus well enough, this description is so HIM! Remember, His sheep will know his voice!
"Fredrick was admitted into the hospice center within a week or two of his arrival in Jacksonville and I had the joy of visiting him there every day. He was a magnificent looking man, about 78 years old, very elegant, with a naturally graceful demeanor. His hair was as white as snow, and his eyes were electric blue. As you entered into his room, you were struck by the classical music playing day and night, freshly cut flowers everywhere, and greeting cards hanging from every slat on the louvered blinds. It was obvious that he was well known and much loved. Fredrick was extraordinarily well-educated with a background in philosophy and religion and he had to say but a few words for you to fully understand that. He was a thinker, a deep thinker, about all the most important things in life, and he exuded the manners of a wonderfully genteel man.
One day when I stopped by for a visit, Fredrick was sobbing. I sat quietly near his bed asking if there was something I could do for him. He simply shook his head and sobbed even harder. “Tell me what it is,” I asked. “No, no, no,” he would say, “just sit here with me.” This experience repeated itself many times over the next few weeks, and each time I found him in this way, I simply sat with him until he got tired and fell asleep. One day he said to me, “I have had an experience, and I will tell you about it one day, not now, not yet, but one day.” That was all he said.
A few weeks later as I was leaving for home, I stopped by to say good night. This time Fredrick was crying very, very hard. Looking up at me, he said simply, “sit down.” I sat down. He cried and cried quietly for a long time, and I just held his hand without saying a word. Finally he looked up at me and said, “Do you remember my telling you about an experience I had that I would tell you about later on? Well, I am going to tell you about it now.” He proceeded to tell me that Jesus himself had come into his bedroom, here at the hospice center. Gesturing to a corner of the room, he explained that he stood, “right there,” near the foot of his bed. He said that Jesus’ presence had filled the room with the most incredible sense of compassion, beauty, and forgiveness he had ever seen. He spoke of the love and tenderness he saw clearly reflected in His eyes, and the awareness he felt of being loved deeply, just for himself. Fredrick spoke quietly, in awesome tones, and with an insightful and graceful manner about this very personal experience. He wanted to be sure I understood every word that he was saying.
“If I saw Jesus like you did,” I asked, “would I cry too?”
“Oh yes,” he replied.
“Because he is so beautiful,” he said, “and because He LOVES us so much and forgives us all our sins. He wants us to let Him love us and wants us to be free to love Him too, just as we are.”
We spoke for a long time after his sharing this wonderful experience with me. I thought for all the world he wanted me to get it right so as to be able to share it with others, as I am doing now. With all the education and experience Fredrick had in life, and with all the knowledge others saw in him, Fredrick, like all of us, simply do not know the depth of love God had for him. The hole in his heart was filled to capacity in the last hours of his life.
How do you explain these magnificent experiences that God allows His children to have? Who else but the One who created us all and loves us so intimately would know what each of us needs to be able to run home to Him the way a small child runs to his father after a long day of play with scrapes and hurts?
That, after all, is what we do at the end of our lives.
Early the next morning when I arrived at work, I stopped in to see Fredrick. The nurses that had cared for him the evening before said that he had gone off to sleep that night and had not really responded yet today. It was obvious that he was now resting in Gods love and preparing to go home to him, unafraid. He remained that way all day long.
That evening Fredrick had passed. He completed his work!"
Beloved, Please do not miss the message that so deeply penetrates Jesus’ heart… "He LOVES us so much and forgives us all our sins. He wants us to let Him love us and wants us to be free to love Him too, just as we are.”
Thank you to Fredrick for hanging on long enough to share that with us. To God be the Glory!
Right from my heart,
“Inside the Tent of Meeting, The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”.
When you have a personal relationship with someone, there are intimate things that go on just between the two of you. It is the hidden treasures that transpire from a beautiful relationship. Like for example, every morning after I take Lexi to school and Jason is on his way to work, he can always expect his phone to ring so I can wish him well for the day. Sometimes when I am late in calling him, he answers the phone with an immediate… “I was wondering if you were going to call”. We laugh and giggle and tell each other jokes for that moment in time before each of us begins our day. Those precious seconds in each day can make the world stop spinning on its axis. It is what I like to call, “my coffee” for the day (since I do not like the real coffee).
Did you know that Jason and I had that little special moment each morning before work? Of course not, because that is what makes our relationship, a personal relationship. It is intimate and personal in its own special way, custom tailored for the two of us.
Unbelievers always squirm with ignorance when I say to them… “No I am not religious, but I do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”.
What does that mean exactly? To have a personal relationship with the Creator of EVERYTHING….
I can tell you what it is not; It is not how the religious leaders of Jesus’ time had worshiped. The Pharisees put all their energy into works and laws. Although they followed the law to their best ability, they lived under the sin of condemnation, judgment, and pride. I wonder if they knew what it meant to have a personal relationship with their Creator? Christ “personally” showed them The Way while He walked on earth but did they open their crusty eyes enough to see?
My relationship to Christ is filled with nothing but personal encounters and understandings. Christ has danced through my life like a ballerina on point and left many memorable impressions that I can pick up at any time to reflect, ponder, and dream about. My testimony is filled with little stories like the one I shared about Jason and I.
An example of what makes my relationship personal to Christ, would be… every time that I go out of town I can expect a supernatural message from Him through a random book that He leads me to, in the airport. It has become such an absolute that I do not even question if I will receive a Word from Him or not. He started this several years ago at an airport where I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me to a little store that sold trinkets, gum, magazines and books. The interesting thing is, most of these little shops that I find my treasure in, do not specialize in selling books. So to find a Christian book within a small book selection… is a miracle in itself. I travel the skyways many times a year and there is always a theme that He wants to share with me over the period that I am alone on my trip (with just Him). The theme of His message usually comes from the book that He helps me find hidden and buried in the old airport. I smile as I write this to you because this is special to me. This is “our little thing” that nobody else has. That is what makes our relationship personal.
It is not just something I believe….it is something I KNOW! There is a differance! It is supernatural and He is all mine! Glory to God!
Right from my heart,
My family had the privilege of going to Disney World in 2008. I thought this trip would be all about Lexi, but come to find out I was fully experiencing Fantasy Land, just as Lexi was. For a brief moment in time, I was able to forget about all my worries and step into a Land where "wishes came true!"
Our first wish that God granted was a date with the princesses in the overwhelmingly large castle, which every little girl dreams to enter.
The robust infrastructure engulfed our presence as we stood by the front gate. My immediate thought, while trying to capture everything on tape, was that this glorious man-made sight could not even compare to the big white pearly gates that I will someday enter as Princess. For that split second, I quietly imagined myself as the “Ambassador for Christ” standing at the entrance of Heaven with over excitement and joy. I dare to pencil on paper the experience of Heaven as my meaningless words would only demean what is really in store for us who love Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20-
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.”
Several weeks before our trip, I called to schedule a breakfast date with “The Stars of Disney World”…The Princesses! I was told that this is the most popular event and to ensure a booking you have to call ninty days in advance. I was crushed for Lexi because I knew how special this experience would be. The customer service lady gave me a tip and said to call twenty-four hours in advance to check for cancellations. It was unlikely, but always worth the try.
The day we arrived at the Park, I approached the desk of our highly trained, friendly Disney associate, and crossing my fingers I asked the question….
“By chance, have there been any cancellations for the breakfast with the princesses?”
She replied with a smile… “I will check for laughs and giggles but please understand there is a very small percentage we will find one.”
My hopes were immediately crushed and I basically wrote it off before she even started to type on her computer. A few minutes went by and the service representative stared into the screen with an unusual glare.
“Wait a minute, what is this? I think I found one! In fact, there is one cancellation and we can slip you in if you would like?”
….If I would like???? You better believe it and I didn’t care what the price was, just as long as we could present this experience to Lexi for her to treasure!
I knew immediately Who granted this wish for our family and He was lavishing us with His favor! Timing is everything and I do not believe in coincidences!
Our time spent in Disney World was priceless! I watched the little girls dress up in their favorite princess costumes, as they imagined themselves one day being rescued by their prince. I too imagined myself being rescued by the One True Prince, Jesus Christ, and I giggled because I knew that deep down that was what these little girls were really created for…they just didn’t know it yet!
Write from my heart,
We quietly waited as our excitement was hard to contain. The smell of different perfumes filled the room and danced through our brains. My heels tapped on the floor and the room began to get dark. I glanced over at my daughter and whispered, “It’s about to start."
The rush of the performance began to set in and with that came a complete silence, you could hear the drop of a pin.
Sitting at the edge of our seats while holding our hands together so tight, it was Mary Poppins and she flew in from the right. She gracefully danced onto the stage and with each scene we would all turn the page.
The night was filled with such magic and glee, our eyes stayed intently focused on all we could see. Three hours of nothing but pure fascination! When I purchased these tickets, I was unaware of the possible sensation!
Of course a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but Mary’s work is not done until the whole house is sound. Even though the thought of it is something quiet atrocious… “Super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious!"
This night was quite amazing! I had cordially invited my seven-year-old daughter to attend a Broadway musical of Mary Poppins in downtown Houston. We dressed in our finest clothes and giggled all the way there. We held hands as we briskly ran through the Hobby Center while stopping at each entrance to ask if that was where we belonged. Between Lexi’s tights falling down from her waist and my heels rubbing my skin raw, we finally made it to our seats. (Oh, the joys of being a lady!)
When I was young, my sister and I must have watched Mary Poppins over five hundred times. I knew every song, word for word and dreamed of Mary Poppins being my nanny. Even though it had been over fifteen years since the last time I had seen the movie, I just knew I would recall everything about it. As the scenes rolled on, I recognized all of the songs but the story line MUST have changed. This could not possibly be the same Mary Poppins that I grew up to love? This was different, but in a very good way.
Then it dawned on me, this is the same story line! Yet, at the age I fell in love with it, I was unable to recognize the importance of the story. As a little girl, I only saw what I wanted to see and missed the true message….. completely!!!
How many of you think of the story of Mary Poppins as I did...a nanny that flies in on an umbrella, who comes to govern these spoiled children, while taking them on fun adventures like kite flying and chimney sweeping?
I quickly learned that Mary Poppins, who is “practically perfect in every way,” is like a guardian angel who is sent to the Bank’s residence to teach each family member how to fully be alive and live in each moment. She begins to show the over-achieving, work-a-holic father how to be present with his wife and children. In doing that, the whole family developed this healthy balance that did not exist before her mystical entrance.
How did I miss all of that? Was I too busy learning the songs or was my heart blinded and now I see? Whatever the reason, I walked away with humility to recognize that my eyes only let me see what I want to see in the moment. Yes, I was a child then and maybe this kind of lesson was over my head at the time, but I am still a “child” of God and I am sure there are many things I encounter on a day-to-day basis that I am still blind to see (when all the while, I THINK I REALLY SEE.). Oh, do you hear me?
All I can do is just submit myself to the Lord every day and ask Him to be my eyes. Ask Him for His wisdom as He brings me through each day with a lesson to learn.
How appropriate that I took my precious daughter, who is my real life “Mary Poppins," who teaches me every day and helps to open my eyes!
Write from my heart,
“So is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I heard something once and I never forgot it…
“If the Lord has to repeat Himself more than once, then it must be important and therefore I should listen.”
I had the pleasure of meeting my dear friend Bonnie for lunch. We always treasure the moments we spend with each other because they are few and far between. She lives on the other side of the world (in case you did not know, Hempstead, TX is right past Africa- Ha!). She had downsized her home living from 4,500 square feet to 1,000 square feet and she expressed to me how she made this possible. She showed me her craker-box closet and, as a woman, I was highly impressed with her enthusiasm.
She exclaimed… “ It was simple, I just got rid of everything, Holly, and I gave it to our maid.”
With the look of shock on my face I tried to digest the fact that she used the word “easy” in a sentence with getting rid of her well-kept clothing.
She continued… “Holly, now how many outfits do you wear in your closet? About 15 to 20? And how many outfits just sit there month in and month out?”
She was absolutely right! Although I felt the conviction in my heart to go and purge my closet, do you think that was the first thing I did when I got home? Keep dreaming!
Fast forward two nights later when my daughter and I were in her bed enjoying our nightly prayers. I was finished with my conversation with God and prompted Lexi that it was her turn. She got quiet and said…. “Hold on Mommy, the Lord has something he wants to say to you.” I gently giggled and she began to pretend like she was in a whispering match with Jesus. After she was done, she gazed up into my eyes and out of the mouth of a babe, she said…. “Mommy, the Lord wants you to give your clothes to the poor.” Quite honestly, nothing connected at the time, so I told her what I assumed she would want to hear by agreeing that I thought her and God were right. I had way too much in my closet. Yet, there was no motivation to actually go and face that giant.
After I put Lexi to bed, I went to kiss my husband good night as he was tucked away on the couch watching his movie. I fell effortlessly onto our freshly-washed bed sheets and relaxed into a comfortable position. As I tried to close my eyes and prepare for a good night's sleep, I heard this loud “boom” in my master bathroom. I screamed for Jason and he came running. The testosterone in my man is what had him go look and check everything out. Every article of clothing that I had stuffed on the rail in my closet had split in two and everything came crashing down. There was a sea of clothing piled on the floor just begging to be let off this poor, frail, rod. (See picture at bottom of blog).
Believe it or not I immediately prayed for God’s guidance in this situation. Typically I would be so stressed out at the sight of something like this, my blood would boil and I would somehow make this Jason’s fault (poor guy). You ladies know what I am talking about. Instead, I curled back in bed and fell right to sleep. In the middle of the night the Holy Spirit awakened me, to give me the low down. Every scene between Bonnie, Lexi’s prayer, and the closet falling, flashed in front of my eyes and I experienced an “ah ha” moment. I got it...loud and clear! Literally!
God was asking me to do a specific thing and I was missing it each time. It had to get to the point where He had to scream it to me…but this old gal finally heard the Word that sprung forth out of my Maker's mouth that He refused to have it return void!
What has the Lord been whispering to you? Are you listening or does he have to scream it for you to hear? Let's
be a body of believers who hears, and then listens, the FIRST time He speaks!
Write from my heart,
“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.”
In other words, what this verse is suggesting is do not rely only on reasoning. Reasoning opens the door for deception and brings much confusion.
I believe that the people (like myself) who try to figure everything out, only end up being more confused. I have found this to be absolutely true! Reasoning and confusion go together.
You and I can ponder a thing in our heart, we can hold it before the Lord and see if He desires to give us understanding, but the minute we start feeling confused, we have gone too far. We can reason and figure something out to make sense to us. But what we have reasoned to be correct… may still be incorrect. The human mind likes logic and order and reason. It likes to deal with what it understands. Therefore, we have a tendency to put things into neat little bins in the compartments of our mind, while thinking… “This must be the way it is because it fits so nicely here.” We can find something our minds are comfortable with and still be totally wrong!
God gives us understanding on many issues, but we do not have to understand everything to walk with the Lord and be in obedience to His will. There are times when God leaves huge question marks as tools in our lives to stretch our faith. Unanswered questions crucify our flesh. It is difficult for humans to give up reasoning and simply trust God, but once the process is accomplished, the mind enters into a place of rest.
I don’t know about you, but I want God to reveal things to me in such a way that I KNOW in my spirit that what has been revealed to my mind is correct. I don’t want to reason, to figure and to be logical, rotating my mind around and around an issue until I am worn out and confused. I want to experience the peace of mind and heart that comes from trusting in God, not in my own human insight and understanding.
Write from my heart,
Colossians 3: 2
Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.
Jesus said; “There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am.”
Take a moment and imagine what it must be like for a little babe all tucked away in his mother’s warm and cozy incubator? It’s little fingers find its way to his mouth and he keeps himself comforted by sucking on his premature, wrinkled thumb. God majestically weaves him together in his mother’s womb and takes care of him like The Creator would take care of His lonely sparrow. The baby with his finite brain, can not perceive that this is not his permanent home. He has no idea that in a matter of time he will be taken from one world into the next. If the infant could talk, he would state to whoever is listening that he does not want to be “transferred” from what he calls home…. But it is not his home and we all know that. When it comes time to the day of birth, family and loved ones stand around and cheer the baby on. We are so excited to welcome him home and we all know (except the baby) that this is where he belongs… Or does he belong here?
I believe this miraculous event of birth is the closest thing God has given to us, so we can relate to our transition from earth into heaven. We all get comfortable here and we can easily forget that this place is not permanent, it is not our home. We think this place on the globe is as good as it will get, just like the baby in his mother's stomach. If we could hear the “angels in the outfield” talking they would be cheering us to come on home, to heaven (with Jesus) where we belong. I believe we have our welcoming committee in heaven just like a baby has, in the hospital. That tradition must be important to God, even baby Jesus had his team of cheerleaders in the stables! Do you think we will cry when we reach our final destination, like a baby cries in the doctor's arms? I think we will, but these tears will be tears of joy! We finally made it home!
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to ALL who have longed for His appearing!
Write from my heart,
Luke 1: 44-45
“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
As a Believer in Christ who continually seeks a personal relationship with The One and Only, I find it hard to spiritually grow without experiencing a direct word from My Partner. In the Greek, this is called a Rhema, which refers to a word that is spoken and means an utterance. A Rhema is a verse of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation or need for direction. The Holy Spirit illuminates particular Scriptures for application that are confirmed in our daily walk with the Lord.
When you encounter a Rhema, I promise that you will never forget it. This in an experience that is so profound, it will leave you speechless. In the eleven years that I have been walking with the Lord, I have been blessed with a handful of these precious moments. These specific Words have come to me in different forms, some through scripture and some through the body of Christ. I have even received direct Words from the very people I might have judged and known to be unsaved. It is just like our God to use the very thing I believe He couldn’t use (or more like wouldn’t…Ha! Boy does He like to prove me wrong in my foolishness).
Ever since I met my husband he has shared with me his deepest desire of having children. Entering into a relationship with me as a single mother was something he did with ease. He has always treated Lexi as his own and to that I am grateful. As for me on the other hand, it has been a difficult journey for the transformation of my heart and to accept even the idea of having more children. My first pregnancy was emotionally draining and took every bit of strength I had. To get pregnant again meant that there was a personal fear that I would have to look straight in the eye and hit full force. This would take a lot of trusting in God. Coupled with my own fears, Jason and I were also healing from a devastating season of the enemy’s attack. Our marriage was severely tested and came out of the refiner’s fire as pure gold. That was a very difficult time of learning and growing for both of us and our trust had to be regained. Neither one of us regret that season, we have only learned to embrace it as a necessary part of our journey as individuals and as a married couple.
The enemy would continuously remind me of my fears and unwillingness to give Jason a child. For several years Jason would quietly pray on behalf of our unborn child and ask God to change my heart. He put his hope in the Lord and trusted in Him for this very specific request.
The Lord began to slowly soften my heart and calm my fears; I could tell He was preparing my heart to receive this child. Although I was doing what I could to prevent the pregnancy.
I remember in September of 2007 God started to turn the heat up a little, I could feel the convictions getting stronger and the small voice of God speaking to my heart that “it was time.” He assured me not to listen to the enemy's lies and that the Lord would “restore the years that the Locusts stole” from me during my first pregnancy. I was still not ready to listen and excused my convictions with some ridiculous rationalizations (sound familiar?) The Lord gave me scriptures to encourage me and I ignored them to the best of my ability. Although, there was something that stood out to me in the scriptures He would give to me… That this baby would be a boy.
In January of 2008, the Lord spoke for the final time! I was coming home from my annual convention in Vegas… tired, worn out, and with great anticipation to sleep. While the flight attendants eagerly walked the aisles manning their stations for anything or for anyone to correct, I tried to doze off praying that no one will disturb me to come sit in my row.
“Excuse me Mr., but you are in my seat,” I heard from across the aisle.
“No!!! I changed my seat with the front desk,” answered an aggravated gentleman.
After much back and forth discussion and assistance from the aggressive flight attendant, people began to change seats. I tried to keep my eyes shut and head down but somehow in all this commotion, I was asked to move to another seat. I didn’t argue, I just politely gathered my stuff and headed for a place to sleep because after all, that was the ONLY thing on my mind….. (but God had a different plan).
I regained my comfort and settled into my small, stiff, not first class airplane seat. The pilot announced to the attendants to prepare for departure, and this woman sitting next to me had the desire to strike up a conversation. After much resistance, I gave into the conversation and within half an hour I received a Rhema from the Lord.
I remember this woman was carrying a bible on her lap for all to see, I wanted to know where she stood in her faith so we began to talk about Jesus. By this time, we were high in the sky and laughing about how much we adored Him. We were kindred spirits and shared much in common with our relationship to our Papa. I had forgotten about my deeply desired sleep, because there was a presence of the Lord sitting upon our shoulders and we both could touch it. Who would choose sleep over being engulfed in His presence?
Thirty minutes into our conversation, the Lord decided to speak directly to my heart and put to rest any previous hesitations I had in regards to bringing life into this world.
I will never forget this Sister in Christ stopped our conversation, looked directly into my eyes with great compassion and said unto me…
“Holly, the Lord wants to bless you with a son and you are preventing Him.”
My mouth fell to the ground and I could not believe my ears. What did she just say? How did she know I was trying to prevent a pregnancy? Where did that come from? How did she know about the past several months the Lord has been dealing with my heart on this very subject and disobedience? Or that the Lord told me it would be a son He would bless me with?
I knew at that very moment it was not from her but I had received a direct Word from the Lord. I remember it was hard for me to think of anything else after she spoke that over me. I wrestled with the Truth and came to an agreement with the Lord. He had won; I was going to put my trust in Him.
Now I want to point something out to you, in case you missed it. Don’t overlook the word, son! She said He wants to bless me with a son. Do you remember me telling you (earlier in this blog) that over a period of several years the scriptures He would give to me in our quiet time, would always refer to this child being a son?
Well, the Lord did exactly what he had promised and He blessed us with a son on July 8th, 2009. Noah Alexander Wright was given to us so that we may train him up in the way of the Lord!
Luke 1: 44-45
“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Right from my heart,