Abide

standard November 8, 2017 1 response

My nephew Jeremiah was barely a month old when I had an opportunity to babysit him for the afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him for a few hours and kiss on his sweet round cheeks.

If you’ve ever been around a newborn, then you know that they typically only eat and sleep which was just fine with me because I was ready to do some cuddling.

After feeding Jeremiah, he immediately went to sleep on my chest and his soft breathing in and out lulled me into a state of rest. With each sweet snore that he made my soul became more and more still.  As I soaked in the moment it reminded me of what it means to truly abide.

Jesus tells us in John 15:9:

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”     

The word “abide” in the original language also carries these definitions: to remain, to dwell, and my personal favorite, to be held.   

When you wake each morning take some time to spend with the Lord. As you do, you will feel that love growing stronger with each passing day. Jesus loves you so fully and completely.

Just as Jeremiah was content to be held and loved on by me that afternoon, allow yourself to feel the love of your Savior.

Just Abide.

Even If

standard October 18, 2017 20 responses

Sometimes you’re walking through life and it all makes total sense. A fall breeze is blowing and you’ve got your windows down and your favorite song is blasting on max volume.

And then there are times when absolutely nothing makes sense. You were minding your own business, but suddenly your legs were kicked out from under you, landing you flat on your behind wondering what in the world just happened.

How could your circumstances have changed so drastically within a 24-hour period? It’s a valid question and it’s one that I wish I had the answer to.

I’m sure Martha and Mary felt somewhat similar when they were just trucking through life in the quiet town of Bethany, enjoying being a part of this new movement called “the Way” that heralded Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah.  When all of a sudden their beloved brother falls ill. And it’s not a “he’ll sleep it off and be better by tomorrow” sort of sick, but it’s evident that he has a life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention. They do some quick thinking and send word to their friend Jesus and ask Him to come on the double!

Jesus receives the message and this is His response: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:5-6)

Wait. What??

One of His very best friends is sick, SO He stays put?  What kind of sacrificial love is that? That seems a little counterproductive, wouldn’t you say?

By the time Jesus gets there Lazarus is dead. Not just any kind of dead either, but dead-dead. Like four-day-old-stinking-in-the-grave dead. It’s bad. And Martha let’s Him know it.

Where have You been? If you would have been here, He would not be dead!

Adding to His mysterious behavior, Jesus replies in the most cryptic way. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Umm, yes…I think I do. But my brother’s still dead and I’m beyond devastated.

To say that we believe when life is good doesn’t take much faith.  But we have to be willing to ask ourselves this question when life throws us that inevitable curve ball.

Do I believe this?

Because believing Jesus is the truth is easy enough UNTIL…

your brother dies;

you miscarry that baby that you waited and prayed for;

your spouse confesses the unthinkable to you;

…THEN it’s personal.

But faith is believing EVEN IF…

your brother stays in the grave;

your arms remain empty;

your spouse refuses to come home;

…Trusting in His sovereign plan.

Jesus never said that life would be fair. In fact, He was perfectly straightforward when He told us that in this world we WILL have trouble, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

He is still the Resurrection and Life, EVEN IF life does not work out the way we thought it would.

Jesus eventually kept His promise to raise Lazarus from the dead with the purpose that God would be glorified through the act (take time to read this incredible story in John 11 if you aren’t familiar with the details). Both Martha and Mary received their miracle that day when their brother was resurrected and reunited with them. However, this was not the case for my sister and me.  Why did God allow Lazarus to live and Jeremy to die? This is a question that I have often pondered and I still do not know the answer to. Nevertheless, I had a choice to make, just as you do.

When He says that He is the Resurrection and the Life and He then asks me, “April, do you believe this?” I answer Him wholeheartedly:

Yes, Lord. I believe You are the One who holds the resurrection power.

I believe You are the only Way to eternal life.

I believe You are the Truth.

Even if…

(“Even If” by Mercy Me)

A Faithful Friend

standard September 6, 2017 1 response

Just then some men came, carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed.  They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him [Jesus].  Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof titles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.  Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:18-20)

Have you ever experienced paralysis in your life?  The kind of paralysis where one debilitating episode comes after the other.  Your body aches all over, even though your muscles have long stopped working.  You struggle to pick yourself up off the ground, but to no avail.

And then you hear that there is a man in town who performs miracles.  He goes by the name of Jesus, some are even calling him the Son of God.  Every fiber of your being knows that your healing lies within the building that is close enough to hit with a stone…that is, if you could throw a stone.

And as you lie there simply defeated, your friends walk in and gently place you on a stretcher. They inform you that they are taking you to meet this Jesus.  Just as your hope begins to soar, it is immediately dashed as the realization that the chances of your friends getting you inside the jam-packed building to where your healing lies are slim to none. There is not an inch of room to spare.

But your friends are not ordinary.  No. They are extraordinary.

They look at the seemingly impossible situation and find a way to climb the walls with you on the stretcher, remove part of the roof, and lower you into the room where the Son of God is teaching.  But you didn’t end up just anywhere in the room.  Amazingly, you are placed at the very spot you need to be: in front of the only One who is capable of forgiving your sins and healing your limp body. 

This is all because of your friends, who saw your need as greater than their own. You know that they each have things they would like to ask of the Son of God.  They could use miracles in their own lives, but their selflessness and desire to see you restored took precedence.  They are faithful friends.

And Jesus, seeing their faith, grants the healing and forgiveness that you have desperately hoped for since the paralysis hit.  You will never be the same.  Your healing came because of the self-sacrificial love of your friends who were willing to do whatever it took to place you directly in front of your Savior.

Now that you are healed, will you do the same for others?  Are you willing to be a faithful friend?

Lord, would You allow me to be a faithful friend to others, pointing them to the only One who can heal them and forgive them of their sins, Jesus? Thank You also for the friends that You have placed in my life who show me Your love continually.      

An Anchor for the Soul

standard August 8, 2017 2 responses

Summertime is in full swing, as is the air conditioning and the consumption of sweet iced tea.  Here in the deep south, one of our favorite summer pastimes is to take long boat rides down the river, sometimes water skiing for hours on end, and other times fishing until our heart’s content. It is always great fun to slather on the sunscreen and fellowship with friends and family, enjoying the day without a care in the world.

However, I know firsthand that in an instant the weather can change and a severe thunderstorm can appear out of nowhere.  This exact thing happened when I was on a family redfishing trip in the deep marsh off the coast of New Orleans.  One moment we were soaking in the warmth of the sun, and the next we were fleeing to find shelter from the pelting rain.

We raced to the nearest boat dock and hurriedly put our anchor down to keep us from slamming into danger.  And as we huddled together waiting for the storm to pass, we were thankful for the sense of security that the anchor provided us with while we waited and hoped for the sun’s return.

This situation reminded me of the imagery of a sure and firm anchor that the writer of Hebrews gives to illustrate the promises of our faithful God.

“So that…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope – like a sure and firm anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews 6:18-19)

He lets us know that when the storm rages, it requires more of us than simply to remember the promises of our unchangeable God, but we must also “seize the hope set before us.”  We reach out our hand and take hold of something sure and firm.  Something that is bigger than the wind and the waves. It is hope.

It is hope that centers us.  Hope that keeps us from crashing into the bank.  Hope that keeps our eyes on Jesus instead of our circumstances.  Hope as an anchor for our frightened soul.

The storms of life will undoubtedly come our way, usually when things are moving along just fine.  We may be caught off guard at first, wondering where is God in our time of need.  But then we remember that He has given us His promises as something firm and sure to keep us centered.

He has given us hope to seize.  He has given us Jesus as an anchor for our soul. 

God, You are my refuge when the storm rages. Help me to seize the hope that You have given me and to look to Jesus as the sure and firm anchor for my soul. Amen.

Dear Teenage Girl, Don’t Believe Everything You Read…Teen Vogue is NOT Your Friend

standard July 21, 2017 4 responses

Dear Teenage Girl,

Yes, you, the eleven to seventeen-year-old girl. How are you doing? I mean, how are you REALLY doing?

It’s hard to know in today’s world, isn’t it? You are constantly being bombarded with pressure to conform…which boots should you wear in order to keep the fashion police off your back, what’s the right makeup to apply in order to make your eyes smolder, what are the most beneficial after-school activities to choose in order to boost your college applications? And now, thanks to an outrageous article by Teen Vogue, you are being encouraged to consider having anal sex as a form of pleasure.

Never mind that fact that your actual body is changing at a rapid rate and now you have these things called hormones that are constantly causing your feelings to take you on a roller coaster ride. You obviously don’t have enough on your plate because Teen Vogue thinks it is necessary that you be educated on the “benefits and positives when it comes to anal [sex],” despite the fact that you will undoubtedly come into contact with fecal matter. But don’t worry, Darling Heart, according to the brilliant writers there, “It’s NOT a big deal. Everyone poops. Everyone has a butt.”

Oh, Sweet Girl, please, please, PLEASE do not believe everything that you read in a magazine that only has one objective in mind: to take your money! They could care less about you and this lovely yet fragile time in your life called adolescence.  The media has long been aware that “sex sells” and for years they have been pulling out all the stops, but I would venture to say that this is taking it to an unprecedented level.

I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be one, but I am smart enough to know that having a penis enter a young girl’s rectum can have serious medical ramifications.  But again, I’m not a doctor.  However, here is a link to the Medical Institute’s take on The Consequences of Heterosexual Anal Sex for Women in case you want to get the hard facts.

But that’s not why I’m writing you this letter, Dear One. I’m writing because I see you and your precious heart.

You see, the enemy (aka Satan or the devil) will do everything in his power to convince you that you are anything but precious. He’ll say things like:
you’re ugly,
you’re fat,
no boy would ever want you,
your daddy hates you,
you better get some while you can, because life is short,
your boyfriend is going to break up with you if you don’t have sex with him,
you’re just a prude,
EVERYONE else is doing it so why shouldn’t you,
haven’t you heard? Anal sex is now vogue!  

Let me be crystal clear: every single word that Satan utters is a LIE. He hates you and he would love nothing more than for you to hate yourself as well.  He knows that if he can get you to buy into the culture of the world and have you slip further and further down that rabbit hole, then the less effective you will be for the Kingdom of Light (which he hates even more than he hates you).  And before you know it, you find your precious heart surrounded by intense darkness.

But hear this, Love: you have a Fighter! There is someone who is willing to stand up for you, to take the enemy out and beat him to a pulp for talking to you like that.  He is furious that you were made to feel insecure and ugly for a single second and He says things like:
you are beautiful,
you are worthy of honor and respect,
you are captivating,
there’s nothing that you can do to separate you from My love,
I have the most amazing plans for your life,
you’re irreplaceable,
I created the wondrous art of sex and I can’t wait for you to experience it with the one I have chosen for you in marriage.
And He does not think these things only because He wants something from you. He thinks this way about you because HE CREATED YOU!

This is not a fairytale that is too good to be true. Your Fighter (unlike your enemy) does not lie.  But he does want you to know that the fact that He has chosen to protect you from harm comes at an enormous cost.  Yet to Him, the cost is worth it. YOU are worth it. You are worth every drop of blood that spilled from His body. You are worth every bruise He incurred. He endured every brutal blow to His body with your life in mind. Do you believe Him?

Dear Teen Girl, you are going to have to make many choices in the years to come. Some will be easy, like which mascara to use. But some will be harder, like how to say no to mind-altering drugs or sexual activity with a boy you think is really hot. You are going to have to learn how to balance fun with homework. You’ll have to figure out who are your true friends versus those who only want to use you for something. You’ll need to discern what is the best use of your time and energy.

But the most important choice that you will ever make is to take your Fighter up on His offer of eternal life and learn how to walk in the light day by day.

Will it be easy? No, my love, I’m afraid it won’t.  There will be parties that you will inevitably be excluded from. There will be boys who will drop you once they figure out you won’t put out. But will it be worth it to live in a constant state of love and acceptance instead of self-loathing and despair? Absolutely, without a doubt.

So, here’s what I want you to do from this moment forward: I want you to first ask your Fighter, Jesus Christ, into your precious heart you if you haven’t already. Next ask Him to lead you as you learn to navigate how to live IN the world without being consumed by its culture. Ask Him to put His beautiful LIGHT inside of you so that you can shine brighter than any vogue model ever could.  And then tell your friends not to believe everything that they read in a self-serving magazine that says that anal sex is awesome. We all know that’s just a load of crap.

With much love,
April Rodgers
Reflecting Light in Everyday Life
The Lord your God
wins victory after victory
    and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
    because of you,
and he will refresh your life
    with his love.
Zephaniah 3:17 (CEV)

The Marvelous Cornerstone

standard April 12, 2017 2 responses

Last fall I sat on the Southern Steps in Jerusalem. These steps are remains of the Temple, God’s dwelling place on earth. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I had butterflies in my stomach, sensing the Lord’s presence, knowing that I truly was on holy ground.

(The Southern Steps leading up to where the Temple would have been.)

(Part of the original wall. The first layer is almost as tall as I am.)

(Ruins of the Temple.)

These were the same steps that Jesus and other Hebrew boys would have climbed as a child to sit under the teaching of a well-respected rabbi. They are the same steps where the Jewish Pilgrims would gather to sing the Song of Ascents, moving up step by step as their lips sang the praises of Psalms 120 through 134. And they are also the same steps that supported Jesus’ feet as His authority was challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders within days of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus. God in flesh. The maker of heaven and earth who spoke creation into existence. This very same Jesus is now being disrespected on the steps of His very own Temple.

And in response Jesus tells a graphic story of a man who owned a vineyard. The man makes all the necessary preparations in order to have the vineyard succeed and he then leaves the vineyard in the hands of capable farmers. When the man sends one of his slaves to collect a portion of the harvest, the farmers beat him and send him away empty-handed. This happens again and again until eventually the farmers start killing the slaves until the man is left with only his beloved son to send. He thinks, “Surely they will respect my son.” But, of course, they didn’t. They killed him and threw him out of his own vineyard. Despised and rejected.

As you and I read this story from Mark 12, we have the hindsight to know that this exact thing will happen to Jesus just days later and we want to shout to the chief priests, “Don’t do it!! He’s the Messiah! He’s come to save you, His chosen people.” But the actual audience doesn’t get what Jesus is telling them. However, He knows just how to get their attention…by quoting Scripture. Jesus asks them point blank, “Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And immediately the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders would have known that Jesus was quoting Psalm 118. It’s a Psalm that they would have known in its entirety. Listen to what it says and allow the magnitude of Jesus’ point to register within your spirit:

This is the gate of the Lord;
The righteous will enter through it.
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is from the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:20-24, emphasis mine)

How many times have we woken up to a beautiful day and said, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,“? I know that I’ve used it thousands of times, especially when trying to wake up my children. And on another note, I’ve always wondered why Good Friday was called “good” when it was the day that our Savior was brutally killed and thrown out of His own creation. But I never thought to put the two together. How could the day that Jesus died on the cross be a day worthy of rejoicing?

Sitting there on those Southern Steps is when I finally realized that the day that the Lord has made, the day that was worth rejoicing over, was in fact Good Friday!! Yes, it was the day that the cornerstone was rejected, but it was also the day that salvation came for all people. And it was totally the Lord’s doing. This is so profound!

Jesus Christ alone is that cornerstone, the firm foundation on which we place our hope. The cornerstone should not be your parents, or your spouse, or your kids, or your friends, or your job, because Lord knows they will let you down and your foundation will crumble. There is only One who will never let you down and His name is Jesus. Don’t be like the chief priests and reject the very One who gives life. Put Him at the center of your life and build around Him.

As we prepare to celebrate our risen Lord this Easter weekend, I pray that we will remember the magnitude of the rejected stone who endured so much on that Good Friday. It truly was a day to rejoice and be glad.

Because that chief cornerstone was rejected, you and I have an opportunity to receive our salvation. Because His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, you and I are able to enter through the gate of the Lord. Because of the Lord’s doing, you and I have a reason to rejoice. And the cornerstone that is Jesus Christ is so very MARVELOUS in our eyes!

(A replica of a cornerstone in Jerusalem.)

Do All Lives Matter?

standard July 17, 2016 5 responses

Recent events have left no doubt that our country is broken and hurting.  We are especially heartbroken in Louisiana today at the news that three police officers have been shot and killed and three additional officers are injured during a senseless ambush attack in Baton Rouge. This attack comes on the heels of the loss of Alton Sterling, an African American man who was shot and killed as he wrestled with two police officers on July 5, and the loss of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack on July 7.  Everyone’s emotions are running high. We respond with posts bearing hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, each with extremely valid reasons of why these particular lives do matter.  The #gaylivesmatter community is saying, “Don’t forget about us…we are hurting too.”  So we come up with an all-inclusive #alllivesmatter.  And, yes, all lives DO matter.

So, what is the solution to all the chaos we are currently facing and how can we do our part to promote healing?  And where is God in all of this?

When Paul was writing the Book of Philippians, he was facing days of uncertainty and dire circumstances (think oppressive Roman imprisonment).  Yet the over-arching theme of this book is for the church at Philippi to have JOY and UNITY despite their circumstances as Paul was striving to do in his own life.  He gives these simple instructions that also applies to our current reality as much as it did to the early church.  The solution lies in these words:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  Philippians 4:5

Could it really be that easy? Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of “easy” is.

Gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit, is used in this verse as an adjective meaning that not only are we to be considerate of others, but we are also to treat people in a manner that is “fitting, right, or equitable.”

The word for all is πᾶς meaning just what you think it does: each, every, whole, ALL.

God is telling us that we are to treat each and every person that we come into contact with on a daily basis with consideration and view them as equitable in God’s eyes.  Whoa! Take a minute and let that soak in.  If we are all equitable in God’s eyes, then why are we still stereotyping each other? And therein lies the rub. We all want to be viewed as if our life matters and we want to be treated in a fair and equitable manner.

But most definitely, killing is not the answer; anger is not the answer; retaliation is not the answer.  Love is the answer; peace is the answer; gentleness is the answer.

But why can’t I just live my life and you live yours? Why do I have to be considerate of others and their feelings?

The answer is this: Because the Lord is near.  This does not mean the Lord is near as in the Holy Spirit is among us (even though He is), but this is better translated as “People get ready! Jesus is coming!” 

If we really believe that all lives matter, then we have an obligation to not only be considerate, but also to be the Light.  Pointing others to Jesus, telling them of a Savior who values their life so much that He gave His own life.  Ultimately, Jesus is the answer.

So, you see, healing is never “easy,” but you and I can do our part to show the world that all lives matter by doing these two things in our everyday lives:

  1. Let your gentleness be evident to all. To the black police officer who took a vow to protect you. To the young white man you pass on the street. To the person bagging your groceries. To your gay coworker. To the waitress serving your food. To your spouse. To your children.  To ALL.
  2. Let your light shine. The world is watching and waiting to see how we will respond. Resist the urge to speak out judgment or condemnation on others who are different than you.  Rather speak the name of Jesus…the Name above all names…the only name that saves.

He is near and He is the original author of life.  His desire is that everyone (all) would come to repentance and know Him as their Savior (2 Peter 3:9).

He is a God who truly believes that ALL LIVES MATTER. 

Top 10 Things I Learned in Seminary

standard May 25, 2016 7 responses

My graduation from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was just a little over a week ago and in case you couldn’t tell from my social media posts, I’m just a little excited to be done!  I thought I would share with you, Dear Reader, a few things that I have learned these past three years while obtaining my Master of Theological Studies.IMG_3303 (1)

#10: A Theology Class is NOT a Bible Study.  At the beginning of my very first class the professor had us stand and give a brief explanation of why we were in seminary.  I remember that I was excitedly telling everyone how I had led a Bible Study for years and I felt like attending seminary would help me go deeper in my walk with the Lord.  And then I felt like an idiot when the first slide on the lecture was: This is a theology class.  Not a Bible study (open mouth, insert foot).  But, the good news is that I did indeed get a chance to “go deeper” into God’s Word…even if it wasn’t in the way that I was expecting.

#9: Sometimes the appropriate theological answer is “both/and.”  Is Jesus fully God or fully human?  Is the Lord a God of wrath or a God of mercy?  To these questions and many more, the answer is “both/and.”  It is confusing, I know, but remember when God said this in Isaiah 55:8-9?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yeah, sometimes you just have to reconcile the answer to “both/and” and let God be God.

#8: Learn to see Jesus in the Old Testament.  News flash for ABR over here!  For all my thirty-some years I had kept the OT and NT completely separate: Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant; Law vs. Grace.  Not realizing that Jesus is written all over the pages of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  Not only was He spoken of in the OT, but He was there!  At the creation of the world, in the Garden of Eden, in the fiery furnace, just to name a few.  I’m telling you, this was an exciting revelation for me.

#7: The key to passing is usually just to turn something in.  Seriously.  I am a perfectionist and it was killing me to get everything turned in on time and and in perfect Turabian format (if you don’t know what that is, consider yourself blessed).  But the more I progressed in my studies, the more I realized that the professors had their own lives too (gasp!) and they only wanted to know if you read/understood the material.  I’m not saying don’t do your best, especially on the big assignments, but I wish someone would have told me that the majority is just busywork and if you turn something in, you’ll pass.IMG_2889

#6: The difference between mercy and grace.  Mercy is when God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve (i.e. death).  Grace is when God gives us what we DON’T deserve (i.e. eternal life with Him).  Isn’t that beautiful?

#5: When interpreting the Bible, context matters.  Oh my, did they ever drill this into us.  This is an entire class in itself, or at least a separate blog post, but the main point is this: when you see that inspirational Scripture hit your news feed, be aware that there was specific author who wrote to a specific audience during a specific time in history.  Yes, God’s truths are timeless, but if you will read your Bible in context, you will be able to draw out so much more for your own personal application.  That said, if all you can manage right now is a quick verse/devotional, then check out the First 5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries and do that daily!  Let God’s Word permeate into your spirit and you’ll be surprised how the Spirit will bring it to mind when you need it.

#4: Get yourself a mentor.  Quickly!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed someone more seasoned than me to help me pull my head out of the clouds and keep my feet on the ground.  This person for me was Brother Jerry.  Over several cups of coffee he reminded me to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty (see #1 below for more info).  But you don’t have to be going through seminary to have a mentor.  Find someone who will invest in you spiritually and then be willing to pass that knowledge along as you grow.IMG_3304 (1)

#3: It takes a tribe.  And lots of screen time if you have young kids.  No kidding, there is absolutely no way I could have done this without the support of my family and friends.  For every single one of you who prayed for my papers/tests, listened to my sermons, watched my kids, or shared my blog, please know I am beyond grateful for you!

#2: You don’t have to “be in ministry” to have a ministry.  I mean it, Y’all!  You do not have to have a seminary degree to lead a Bible study on your lunch break at work, to start a prayer group at your kid’s school, to volunteer at the women’s shelter, to write a blog/Facebook posts to encourage others in their walk with the Lord, to be a mentor to the younger generation, etc.  You have a specific calling and purpose.  Pray about what God would have you do for His glory and then step out in faith and DO IT.

#1: Spend time WITH God.  There’s a little joke out there that the word seminary can be interchanged with the word cemetery.  A tragedy can occur in the way that what is meant to be an opportunity to teach students the deep things of God sometimes results in the driest spiritual season of his/her life.  This happens because the student is so busy learning ABOUT God that he/she fails to spend time WITH God.  I’ll admit that this happened to me.  It wasn’t until my last year of seminary that I carved out a specific hour each day to read and pray, and I am convinced that it made all the difference in the world.  Especially with how the Lord helped me finish.  I’ll tell you like Brother Jerry told me: take time to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty and prepare to be amazed as He opens your minds to great and mighty things!  c48bd8a8270b6d9ade2686872764f934

Hands and Feet

standard March 25, 2016 Leave a response

It’s been over two weeks since Northeast Louisiana was drenched by torrential rains and flooding.  We received over 24 inches of rain in a short amount of time and the water had nowhere to go, except to flood entire neighborhoods and homes.

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Evacuations were issued.  The young and the old were leaving by boats in the middle of a severe lightening and thunderstorm.  Some waited it out, only to find that they would be trapped inside their home for days until the water slowly receded.  It was especially sad to see home after home filled with water and belongings just floating among the rain soaked walls.

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But as the sun finally began to shine on our community, so did the church.

It didn’t take long before disaster relief teams were formed and entire church bodies were mobilized and sent out to the neighborhoods that were hit the worst.  I witnessed one such congregation come to the home of my friend whose home had been flooded with several feet of water.  These men and women worked swiftly and tirelessly to remove her furniture, rip up her stinking carpet, salvage what they could, and sweep out the remaining water.  And when they were done with her home, they moved on to her neighbor’s home, and then the next home.

They did not do it for pay or recognition.  They didn’t even do it because they had a personal relationship with the homeowners.  They did it because they believe that they are the hands and feet of Jesus.

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And then came the food.  In the south we believe that feeding others is one of the top ways that we should show each other love.  And we did it well.  Those that flooded in my neighborhood had both lunch and dinner delivered faithfully by the local churches and volunteers.  One church I know provided over 10,000 meals to the surrounding community.  I was blessed to be able to work on my own church’s cook team and I’ll just say the eatin’ was good!  Hands and feet of Jesus delivering meals.

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“Hands and Feet” was the term that I heard over and over again throughout these past few weeks.  St. Teresa of Avila painted this beautiful picture that I believe encapsulates our community so well:

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

Today as we reflect of Jesus’ death and the nails that pierced His own hands and feet, I am thankful to be a part of His body.  A body that believes in extending love and compassion to others.  A body that does not sit idly as neighbors suffer, but are willing to get their own hands and feet dirty.  A body that reflects His light.

Happy Good Friday, Friends! Thank you for being His hands and feet!

It’s Just a Season

standard January 27, 2016 Leave a response

Our family has a saying that we commonly use if things in our lives start to get crazy and we begin to feel overwhelmed:

“It’s just a season.”  

I have always loved this expression because it helps remind me to take a deep breath and remember that whatever I am going through is just for a season and this particular season won’t last forever.  My dad also says, “It’s not eternal,” which is essentially the same thing, but it helps put things in a spiritual perspective.

I wonder if you’re feeling like me today and you need the reminder that the season you are currently in is not eternal, even if it may feel that way at the moment.  Maybe you are a young woman waiting on Prince Charming to make his grand appearance into your life and you are beginning to think that he should learn how to stop and ask for directions based on how long it’s taking him to get to you (Been there!).  Or maybe you’ve just had your first baby and you now have firsthand knowledge of why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic to break down the minds of criminals in the prisons (Can I get a witness?!).  Or possibly you have a loved one serving overseas and you are counting down the days, hours, and minutes until he/she is safely home.  You tell yourself, “It’s just a season, right?”

That’s exactly right.  And thank the Lord, we are not alone in all this.  Solomon (as in the wisest man who ever lived) did some pondering of the seasons as well in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season,
  a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
  A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
  A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
  A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
  A time for war and a time for peace.

The wonderful thing about these verses is that every “low” season has a counter “high” season. Part of living in a fallen world is dealing with hard or low seasons, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are guaranteed victory.

Are you in a time of planting in your job or at home?  There’s good news! A harvest is coming.
Is God telling you to tightly hold on to something, or is it time to let it go?
Has your heart been torn apart by a severed relationship? Your God can tenderly mend it.
Are you rightfully grieving an unthinkable loss?  Take hold of the promise that you will dance again.

It’s true. For everything there is a season.

But here’s the best part!  Solomon goes on to tell us in verse 11, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  

Isn’t that the truth?  Even though we cannot see how this season will work itself out, God sees! And not only does He see, but He makes the result beautiful.

The takeaway from today’s Reflecting Light is this: should you find yourself in a challenging season of life, remember that God is in control. Take a deep breath in and release it slowly.  Close your eyes and repeat after me,  “It’s just a season.”  And then believe in your heart of hearts that everything is made beautiful in its own time.