Moving On

standard July 16, 2018 Leave a response

It’s always a little awkward to walk into a new crowd when you don’t know anyone.     

It’s even more awkward if no one breaks off from their circle to welcome you or at the very least simply acknowledge that you’re in the room. This happened to me at a social function I recently attended. I am an extrovert by nature and can usually ease myself into the conversation, but for some reason I wasn’t meshing well with this particular group of people. They were a tough crowd and were intent on discussing matters that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with due to my faith in God.  I was definitely the outcast of the party, and in that moment, I was extremely thankful for the invention of smartphones! At least I could give off the impression that “someone somewhere” wanted my attention.

Jesus knew what it felt like to be an outcast because of the gospel message that He was teaching, and He even warned the disciples that this would also happen to them as they worked to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick. In Luke 9:5 He gave them these specific instructions:

If they do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

These instructions are applicable for us in our everyday lives. If we have decided to live gospel-centered lives, then we will not always be welcome in every social setting. We have to resolve ahead of time to be OK with that and know when it’s time to leave the party.  It won’t always be easy to live a set-apart life. In fact, Jesus later told the disciples that they were certain to be hated by the world on account of His name, and the same will be true for us. But the rewards are eternal if we are faithful to endure because we will gain our lives!

If you find yourself in one of these awkward situations where you are not welcome because of your faith, then take Jesus’ advice: gather your belongings and move on down the road. There’s someone somewhere who needs to hear some Good News and they’ll welcome you with open arms to join their circle.

Lord, please help me to live this set-apart lifestyle that You have called me to on account of the gospel. I understand that it won’t always be easy, but the reward is eternal life! Keep my feet moving down the path of righteousness.

Diving In

standard July 10, 2018 2 responses

Summertime is here and there’s only one way to beat the heat and that’s by diving into the swimming pool.

Both of my girls are really strong swimmers. In my former years, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor, so as soon as they could hold their heads up, I had them splashing around in the pool. As the years passed, they became more and more confident in the water as I worked with them. Ready, hold your breath, now kick, move your arms like a clock. That’s it! You’re doing it! And before long they were jumping off the diving board like a boss.

But the thing about a diving board is that it’s best used for dives. Yes, you can make a better splash by doing a cannon ball, but if you want to enter the pool gracefully, you must dive in head first, which is harder by far.

This year my youngest daughter stood hesitantly at the edge of the pool with her arms straight overhead and head down but when the time came to jump, she would lift her head and flop in the water face first. After several times of doing this and me saying over and over again, “Put your head down, Ella. You can do it,” she finally did and glided into the water beautifully. She had a huge smile on her face as she surfaced and said, “I want to do that again!”

Watching Ella learn to dive reminded me of how often I hear the Spirit say, “April, get your head down in my Word. Stop looking around at what other people are doing and dive in.” Sometimes it takes a few face flops before I get it, but once I do glide in gracefully, it feels wonderfully refreshing. And I want to do it over and over again.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. ~ Psalm 19:7

Share Your Story

standard June 18, 2018 2 responses

We all have a story to share that can potentially help someone else.

Life is messy but it’s also filled with beauty, isn’t it? Each one of us have gone through various trials and if we allow the Lord to lead us through them, then most likely we can come out with a story that when told will glorify our Father in Heaven.

My entire story can be condensed to three words: God Is Faithful! I have been through some pretty significant valleys of infertility and losing my brother, but God has proved Himself faithful through every valley as well as through every mountaintop.

One of the things that I try to do on a consistent basis is to share my story with someone who may struggling in an area that I’ve gone through. Just the other night my husband and I had dinner with a couple who were undergoing fertility treatments and we were able to share with them our journey, covering the good, the bad, and the ugly. We ended the evening in a powerful time of prayer which bonded us together with this precious couple and it allowed my husband and I to remember God’s faithfulness.

Revelation 12:11 says that the enemy will be defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. How powerful! Christ did the ultimate work to triumph over the accuser, but you and I also have an important part to play in his defeat.

So be brave, my friend, and share your story.  Your God will be glorified and you never know who it may help along the way.

Share your story in the comments below!

Take Courage

standard June 12, 2018 Leave a response

How many times have you heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue?”

However, patience, for most of us Americans, is not our favorite discipline to practice. Our drive-thru mentality has made certain of that.

But what if instant gratification is not an option for our particular situation? It could be that we are waiting on test results and are at the mercy of our doctor’s staff. Or it could be that we are waiting on a call back for a job interview we recently had. Possibly we find ourselves waiting for reconciliation to happen with a fractured relationship.

Real life is often complicated and we don’t have nearly the control we think that we do in order to make the timing fit our schedule.

In times like these, it’s important for us to be able to turn to God’s Word and realize that patience is actually God-ordained.

The Book of James encourages us to be patient and to take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Just as a farmer has to wait on the spring rains in order to produce a good crop, we too must be patient with our circumstances, knowing that in time God will work it out for our best, if we trust in Him (see James 5:8).

So the next time you’re in a season of waiting, let your heart take courage and be patient. God’s got it all under control.  

Extending Mercy

standard June 5, 2018 1 response

The official definition of mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it  is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

I think about the time as a young driver that I thought that I had fully stopped at the stop sign but the police officer had a differing opinion and let me know that what I had done was in fact a rolling stop. I pleaded for mercy knowing that my parents would most likely take away my car if I brought home a ticket making my insurance skyrocket. The officer had compassion on me in that moment even though it was in his power to punish me for my traffic violation. He extended mercy to me and I was beyond thankful. It also made me a better driver because I never again wanted to see those blue lights flashing behind me.

The Bible tells of how David extended mercy to Saul when given the opportunity. Saul had been hunting down David for years with the intention to kill him. But when David had the chance to take Saul’s life, he didn’t. Rather he cut off a piece of Saul’s royal robe as evidence of the mercy showed to Saul.

What’s amazing is that God does the same for us in our lives. He extends compassion and forgiveness of our many sins even though we deserve to be punished. How wonderful it is to receive mercy!

***Immediately after I recorded this on The Hill Radio, I turned onto the service road off of Crosley Street in West Monroe to take my kids to eat a Chick-fil-A. Before I was even a few yards down the road, I saw those blue lights behind me and my heart was beating out of my chest. The officer explained that I was going 37 in a 25 mph! I apologized profusely and told him I thought it was 35 mph. Before I knew it, I was talking so fast about how I just wrote about mercy and what it means and did he know the meaning of mercy and would he extend it to me this once and that I would be happy to pray for him. I honestly think that he did not know what to do with me, so he handed me back my license and registration and told me to tell my friends to slow down on that street. Duly noted and done, Officer! Thank you for extending me mercy!!

Faithful in Prayer

standard May 29, 2018 6 responses

I recently experienced the sweetest blessing of being prayed over by my faithful friends.

After my annual mammogram, I was advised to have a biopsy on a cyst in my breast. Because my mother is a breast cancer survivor, the test was to be completed at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. I had complete peace that the test results would come back negative for breast cancer, but because of my family history I wanted to be completely certain that it was nothing.

My husband added my upcoming appointment to his group prayer list and before I knew it there was a designated time of prayer set up in my honor. I didn’t exactly know how to feel about all this attention, but I do believe in the power of prayer so I welcomed the opportunity to be lifted up by these friends.

And boy am I glad that I did! I didn’t realize that I needed that focused attention on my situation, but once it was happening I was overcome with gratitude. I could feel their prayers infuse His peace into me just as Scripture says:

With prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God answered our prayers and His supernatural peace stayed with me all through the day of testing. The results of the biopsy were indeed negative and tears of joy were shed as I shared the good news with all my praying friends. Their willingness to faithfully lift me up in my time of need is a gift that I will never forget.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~ Romans 12:12

 

Our Peace

standard May 22, 2018 Leave a response

In a world filled with conflict, a life of peace sounds mighty good right about now.

Day after day we hear the news reports. They are filled with such violence and discord, leaving so many hurting and grieved in its wake. Lives are forever changed in an instant and we are left shaking our heads wondering what in the world the answer is.

The answer is Peace.  More specifically, the answer is found in THE Person who embodies peace.   

Micah 5:5 says of the Anointed One that,

He will be our source of peace.

When our security is threatened: He is our peace.

When our best friend betrays us: He is our peace.

When we miscarry our baby: He is our peace.

Jesus never promised that our lives would only be filled with days of abundant sunshine. In fact, He specifically said that in this world, we WILL have many trials and sorrows, but to take heart because He has overcome the world.  That’s a promise that we can hold onto when our world is shaken.

But we can’t miss the first part of that promise.

Jesus specifically says,

“I have told you these things so that IN ME you may HAVE PEACE.”

So the next time that life feels uncertain and we don’t know what to do, we extend our hand and take hold of His, allowing His peace to wash over us. Our sovereign God knows exactly what we need and He freely gives it to us. He is our source of Peace.

Surrounded by You

standard May 15, 2018 Leave a response

Have you ever had the feeling that you were totally surrounded by a helpless situation?

There are times in life that we find ourselves in a full-fledged battle and we can physically feel the enemy closing in around us. Maybe it is that we have been in conflict with our spouse for years now with no end of resolution in sight. Or it could be that we are crying out for the healing of a loved one from the relentless grip of addiction.  Whatever the battle may be, there is still hope!

There’s a song by Michael W. Smith that I have on repeat these days. It says,

It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

This is how I fight my battles.”  

This mantra is also how David chose to fight his battles.

Psalm 138:7 states,

“Though I am surrounded by troubles,

you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.

You reach out your hand,

and the power of your right hand saves me.”

That’s a good word for us today! If we look to the Lord for our protection, we can say with assurance that the victory is already won, for He is mighty to save!

So next time we feel surrounded by troubles and the enemy rears his angry head, we declare that we are surrounded by our Savior.

This is how we fight our battles!

Father of Lights

standard May 8, 2018 Leave a response

When I was a little girl the shadows that danced on my wall at night seemed larger than life.      

I knew that the shadows couldn’t hurt me, but that didn’t stop me from crying out for my mother when they shifted on the wall. She would come into my room and reassure me that they were simply spots of darkness, but to me they were always moving around and they couldn’t be trusted.  The only thing that could make me feel better was to turn the lights on and wouldn’t you know it, the shadows would immediately disappear with the presence of LIGHT.

The Book of James tells us:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father   of Lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.

Wow! What a Father we have! He gives us good and perfect gifts. Gifts of strength and salvation. But not only that, He also gives us the gift of security. He knows that this world can be dark and scary, with shadows shifting before our very eyes.  But we don’t have to be afraid, because our Father is a father of Lights! And His presence immediately dispels the darkness.

How wonderful it is to know that He doesn’t change. He could never be a shadow dancing on the wall that can’t be trusted. Because He is truth and He is LIGHT!

Do It, Lord!

standard April 17, 2018 Leave a response

Once while at my Women’s Bible Study, we ended our time together by fervently praying over one of my friends who was hitting some roadblocks in the adoption process of her daughter.

As a collective group of women, we had all invested in bringing this sweet girl home from Ethiopia by fundraising and praying for the process for several months now. We were not about to let some paperwork hang-ups prevent this precious child from being with her forever family!  So we did the only thing that we knew to do and that was to call upon the Name of the One who could get the job done.

As we were wrapping up our prayer time, I kept saying with much emphasis, “Do it, Lord! Do it!”

And guess what? He did it!! Within a few months our friends were headed to Africa to get their girl and we all celebrated. God heard our prayer and we praised Him for answering us.

Jeremiah 32:17 says,

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you”

Isn’t that the truth? I believe that it pleases God when we pray with boldness and recall his great power. Does that mean that He will always answer our prayers the exact way that we think He should? Not at all. But that should not stop us from asking Him to do things on our behalf.

I’m in a season of my life right now where I am fervently praying for God to move on my behalf. He is teaching me to call upon His name not in fear, but in faith! As I do, He gives me His perfect peace and my heart takes courage. After all, nothing is too hard for Him.

Do it, Lord!