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Eyes Wide Shut

A couple two or three years ago my pastor taught a message called I see what I see, but it’s not what I hear. This sermon was one of those messages that I have clung to throughout my faith journey since then. I can’t remember specifics about the sermon, or even what scripture he used that day. All I can remember is the meaning of the message.

Often it’s so easy to look around and see what going on and lack the faith to believe for what God has spoken to us.  Maybe God has whispered promotion to you, but all you see is set back. Perhaps He’s said healing, and you see weakness. Maybe it’s a big dream He’s been whispering, and all you see are one giant after another standing in your way. Been there, still there, so if you get nothing else out of this devotion, get this; you are not alone.

One of my favorite scriptures that I continuously use to remind myself of this thought is found in Habakkuk 2:3, For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Whatever God has spoken to you and over your life WILL come to pass. It may not look like it, feel like it, and it may not happen when we believe it should, but it will happen. Look at some of our heroes in the faith. Moses heard promise land but saw the Red Sea, David heard Kingship but saw a field full of sheep, and Joshua heard victory but saw the walls of Jericho.

I may never understand all of God’s ways, but I choose to TRUST His voice. I may not like what I see, but I will decide to believe what He said.  Whatever you may be seeing today, the good, the bad, or the ugly; my prayer for you is this, that you not set your heart on the sight but rather on the sound. May we look ahead with eyes wide shut.

I see what I see, but it’s not what I hear-Pastor Beau Norman

To check out the sermon for yourself click HERE.
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Revealed

Have you ever had the joy of attending a gender reveal party? Or maybe just a we’re having a baby party? Either way, it’s one of the most beautiful and exciting things to hear a loved one reveal they have a life growing inside of them.  It’s something most parents can’t hide for long due to the overwhelming love and excitement they hold for the child they carry.

As I read John 1:18 this week, I kept thinking about this thought of revealed and how we as parents can’t help but reveal our unborn children and even go to great lengths to throw parties and surprises, and how we should with the same love and excitement reveal Christ in us to the world.  John 1:18 says this, No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side–he has revealed him.  So as Christ revealed God the father, who was unseen to the world, we hold the responsibility to reveal Christ who is invisible to our world.

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine  before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

You, my friend, are a light because you have the light, the Son of God, living inside of you and He needs to be revealed to the world. Now I am not asking you to head out on a mission trip or set out across the country proclaiming God to the world, although if that’s what God wants for you then, by all means, get after it. What I am challenging you to do, however, is go out into your world: your job, your family, your friends, your town, your school. Your world. Go and reveal Christ in you to a lost, hurting, and spiritually dying world. Show love to the unlovable, care for the hurting and weak, encourage the discouraged, stand in the gap for those who no one is praying for. Do good works and let Christ be revealed through you. And if I may, the thought I’m about to share may offend some, some may completely disagree, and that’s ok. I’m gonna be me and listen to what God reveals to me. And this is the thought, the best way to show Christ to others isn’t by what we say, rather, it’s how we live for him and love others. And here is my proof of that.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:35

I’m not saying to never give God credit, that’s ludicrous, it’s not about us, it’s about Him. But hounding people with scripture and threats of eternity isn’t going to win most people over, but love will. And when they see the crazy love you have for them and for others, they will want to know why. And then you can tell them why’s name. Jesus.  

So let’s get excited, maybe even throw a party and start revealing Christ in us.

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More than a conqueror

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman 8:35-39

You are strong, you are brave, you are fierce, you are capable, you are enough, you are loved, and you are more than a conqueror!

Too often we allow ourselves to get so bogged down by the weight of life that we start believing what the enemy continually whispers to us. We get overwhelmed and worn out and begin to buy the lies that we aren’t enough to get it all done and get it done decently. Any mommas feel me on that one? For me, it’s the constant and overwhelming struggle of juggling being a wife, mothering three kids, schooling them, ministry, non-profit work, and being a good friend and sister to others. There are days I do it well, and there are days I begin to believe the lie, the lie that says I’m not enough, or I’ll never be able to do it. Perhaps for you, you are a college student who faces school each day and real life each night. Struggling to study and spend time with the ones you love most. Maybe your a momma to toddlers who feels like you’ll never be able to accomplish anything again because you’re trapped between dirty diapers and sippy cups, been there too, friend. Single, married, young, or old; whatever your season looks like, I want to remind you of this truth, YOU are more than a conqueror.

God created you to kick butt and take names! Nothing and no one can stop what God started in you. Sure this may be a difficult season to flourish in one area or another, but it’s coming. In the meantime keep moving forward.  Keep kicking Satan in the face, keep kicking down the roadblocks he throws your way; keep fighting. You are a fighter, friend and you will win this war that’s within. And when you get knocked down, and you begin to believe the lies, remember that God loves you, and He is proud to call you daughter. Nothing can separate you from His love.

So if that’s you, and you’re knocked down today, as God extends His mighty right hand to you, I also am extending my hand to you, let’s get you up, dust you off, and get back to winning this war! God has incredible things ahead for you, but it requires you, and me, to move forward!

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You’re the good.

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:46

To me, this is one of the most shocking scriptures in all the Bible. The ‘anything good’ that they spoke about was Jesus himself. I realize Nathanael had no clue who He was, but from my perspective, I’m all like – hello, Jesus is the Messiah, Savior of the world. It shocks me that even He suffered ridicule because of where He came from. Sound familiar? That’s the world we live in, where putting people’s worth on them based on where or who they came from is the reality. I’ve been there, people looking at me and saying to themselves, or worse, saying to others about me, can anything good from Ellsinore, or Debi or David (my parents)? And sadly, I too am guilty of having said similar words about others.

We have to get to the point that we don’t value one person any more than we do another. God looks at each of us with the same set of love. To Him it doesn’t matter where we came from, who our parents or grandparents are, what we’ve done or who we’ve been – our worth is the same. Our value is equal, and when God created us, He said we are good (Genesis 1:31). So who are we to determine someone’s worth?

How can we make the change? How can we start valuing every life equally? Let’s start with Phillip’s response to Nathanael, “Come and see.” Jesus had asked Phillip to follow Him, and Phillip extended that invite to Nathanael. Such a simple and profound thought is to get to know others and the God who made them. When we grow closer to Jesus, our love for others will also increase; we will begin to see the worth of others through the lens of Christ. No more placing limitations on others because in Christ there is no limit on their worth or the good they can accomplish through Jesus.

Now some of you may be thinking, I struggle more with believing I am the good. It’s easier to believe God can use our neighbor and that they have more value than we do because of where or who they’ve come from, or their nearly perfect lives. But let Ephesians 2:10 remind you of this truth,  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. You’ll notice it doesn’t say that we should walk in them IF we come from the right region, country, state, family, or if we’ve never made mistakes. Nope, you are His child, and you are good, and created for good works. Before you were born, He knew you and was already preparing your path. So stop believing the lies of the enemy or the lies that people are filling your mind full of that nothing good will ever come from you, your family, or your region. YOU are the good, embrace it, and all God has for you.

 

Dreamer or Downer?

No one gets to tell me how big my dreams can be. Recently while at an event I heard the author of, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis, make that statement, and her words echoed inside of me. I am quite the dreamer, and I do mean in every area of life. I’m a dreamer in my marriage, parenting, vacations, finances, my future, and ministry; ev-er-y-thing. There isn’t one area of my life that I don’t dream big for.

Being a dreamer though often comes with the weight of many naysayers. I’m sure people hear me talk about my dreams and plans at times and think  ‘girl, you don’t have what it takes!’. And honestly, they may be right, maybe I don’t have what it takes, perhaps I’ve lost my mind, and I’ll never accomplish much. But this is what I know for sure if I allow all the negative voices that speak into my life to overrule God’s voice, and my voice, I WILL fail every time because I will never even TRY.

Other people do not get to tell me how big my dreams can be, and they do not get to discourage my vision or my plans.  So, I want to challenge you today. If you have a dream and it honors God, go for it and don’t give up. And if you are the naysayer I talked about, encourage someone and stop being afraid to dream yourself. Often when we discourage others on their journey, it’s because we are either scared of our own or jealous of theirs. Don’t be that voice, instead come alongside your brother or sister, encouraging them and rooting for them; and when you do, you’ll soon discover a dream of your own and they’ll be there to support you as well.

In Proverbs 29:18, the Bible tells us that where there is no vision, the people perish. I found this scripture to be intriguing. Why would the people perish without a vision? I think it’s because there is a lack of hope. Dreams and visions give us something to hope toward. Our hope in Christ is what saves us from drowning in a storm, or holds us together in a crisis. Our hope toward something greater. And our dreams are a hope toward something greater, so don’t let anyone steal that from you. I believe God purposefully created me to be a dreamer, not to replace my hope in Him, but to lean into Him while He dreams up BIG ways to impact His kingdom through me. And know this, if God puts a dream inside of us my friend, you better believe that nothing or no one can stop what He has started.  #daretodream

 

Surviving the Desert 101

Several years back, The hubs and I made the crazy decision to travel from Missouri halfway across the country to California with our three kiddos; who were all under age seven. See, it was crazy. Right? Oh and I forgot to mention we drove it straight through, all twenty-six hours. And even though my kids traveled like champs, I still have no desire all these years later to ever do that again.

Now, as you can imagine, or if you’re familiar with the west, we drove through bookoo’s of the desert on our trip. As we traveled state to state, we had to be careful to plan accordingly for pit stops to refuel the truck and ourselves. When the fuel gauge got to half on the pickup, we stopped at the next station for gas. You see, it could be hours in between stations to refuel, and I sure didn’t want to be stranded in the desert with three kids.

This week God began to remind me of this story and the importance of preparing for the desert, spiritually speaking. It’s just as important, actually, scratch that; it’s more important to equip ourselves for a spiritually dry season as it is to prepare in the physical.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has walked through a desert season. And it just so happens, I have recently come out of one, and while I’m enjoying the view from the mountain top, I realize that it’s inevitable that I will once again go through another valley or desert. So how can I prepare for such a season? What steps can I take to make sure I come out of the desert full of joy and faith?

To be completely honest, I only have one thing I can think of to share with you. I wish I had a big list of incredible thoughts to rescue you from the season your going through or perhaps will face in the future, but I have just one. And that is to stay in constant communion with the Lord. That’s it. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well, I wish it were as simple as it sounds. Living in constant communion with Jesus is a lifestyle. It isn’t a list of to do’s, but it’s making a choice to live every moment of every day with Jesus. It’s being in His word, filling yourself full of truth, it’s choosing to be around people who build you up and encourage you in the faith, it’s talking to the Lord throughout the day. It’s sharing your thoughts and request with Him. But it’s also making time to sit at His feet and listen as He guides and directs our path through every season. The only way to come out of the desert full of joy is to be filled with the giver of joy.

When preparing for a trip across the desert, there are two things that you need to survive, food and water. I think we can all agree that these two items are essential, and not just on a trek through the desert, but to survive period. And this is true in the spiritual as well. To withstand a spiritually dry season, we must eat from the bread of life (John 6:35) and drink from the living waters (John 4:14) of Jesus.

The past two years have been some of the most challenging years of my entire life, I’ve walked through the longest desert, sometimes wondering if it would ever end. So when I speak to you today, know I come to you from experience. And I can honestly tell you, the ONLY thing that got me through this season was Jesus. And there were many days I didn’t feel like being in community with Him, but I was determined to push through, fight the good fight of faith, and hold onto the promises He has made me. I decided there was no giving up, no giving in, and even if it took forever, Satan would not beat me in this.

Friend, I pray your reading this from the mountaintop,  but even if you aren’t in the desert, there will come a time, and you need to be prepared. So don’t wait till your going through it to be in constant fellowship with Jesus, start today. Get so full of the bread and water which is Jesus that the desert doesn’t stand a chance against you.

If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning.  Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help. Job 11:13-19

 

Remember When

A few days ago, I was reminded of the day that should’ve been my last. January 15, 2011, should’ve been the day that forever changed the lives of my children, sibling, parents, grandparents, and friends. I won’t go into all the details as I’ve shared the story with you before, but that is the night the Titanic went down. (Not the actual Titanic, but that’s what my dad’s boat was called, as well). Dustin and I were out that night on our final gigging trip of the season with my dad, David, and my step-mom, Alberta. We began having boat trouble and soon after hit a root wad that led to the sinking of our ship aka riverboat.

We were all swept from the boat by the mighty current of the river, Alberta caught in the gigging rails, Dustin swept away from the boat and carried downstream, myself trapped in a root wad up to my neck in the icy water. To be honest none of us should have survived that night. But if we hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to share this message with you today.

As I was reminded of this event, it bothered me that I hadn’t thought about it this year. I mean how can you forget the night you almost die? Well, I’m not sure, but apparently, it’s possible. So my challenge to us all today is to remember when.

As I took the time to look back and remember, it caused me to see all God has done. It helped to create in me a grateful heart. I look back now and see all that I would’ve missed, and I think about how different my families lives would’ve been. Remembering when, I become grateful for the little things that most days I take entirely for granted. But once I remember, I can look forward to believing God’s more than able to do incredible, miraculous, and mighty things in my future.

In Joshua 4:1-24, God told Joshua to set up twelve stones on the other side of the Jordan as a memorial. God didn’t want the Israelites to forget what He had done. But like you and I, they needed these stones to remind them to share it with their children and the rest of the world.

I don’t know what kind of miracle God has done for you, perhaps you sit here reading this, and you can’t think of anything. If so, can I remind you that your salvation alone was a miracle? Mine too, friend! So if nothing else, share that good news with someone. Maybe you have an incredible story of how God pulled you out of drug addiction, or how He has healed your body or someone you love, share it. The world needs to hear about His goodness. The world needs to be reminded of how great our God is. And frankly, so do we. When I forget to be grateful for the big things, how can I ever remember and live with thanksgiving of the small stuff?

Often in this life, it becomes so easy to forget or lose sight of what God has done. Sometimes I feel like people don’t want to hear my story, I’ve told it so many times already, but then the Lord reminds me that SOMEONE needs to be reminded of what He can do.

So let’s make a deal right now, that we will no longer allow the enemy to steal our story. We will share God’s goodness, we will remember what He’s done, and we will believe that’s He’s more than able to do the miraculous again and again!

But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. Psalm 77:11

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