Hold Fast. Stay True.

standard November 13, 2018 Leave a response

Do you have what it takes to be an “elite achiever?”

Last month I was in Austin, Texas, celebrating my husband as his financial planning practice was recognized as one of the best in the country. While there we had the pleasure of hearing former US Navy Seal Clint Bruce speak on how to be an elite achiever in our everyday lives.

Bruce said that he had written the phrases “HOLD FAST” and “STAY TRUE” on his knuckles so that he would remember what to do in the middle of combat.

HOLD FAST was so that he could brace himself against the onslaught of his enemies, knowing that they were coming for him hot and fast so he needed to be ready to hold his ground. Hold Fast.

STAY TRUE helped him remember the principles that he had been taught while training to be a Seal, knowing that if he deviated from the truth, it could result in death. It also served as a reminder to protect and assist his fellow Seals while in the heat of the battle. Stay True.

These are life-changing principles for us to live by as well.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stay true in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

In this verse Paul is teaching us the same thing that this Navy Seal was taught in his training. There is an enemy that seeks to kill us. It is imperative that we be on our guard and hold fast against his attacks. Paul also instructs us to stay true to our faith, even when it’s hard, even when we’re beyond ready to give up, even when we feel lost.

It’s in those moments that the elite achiever takes hold of the Light and stays on course.

So I ask you the same question that Bruce asked me: do you have what it takes to be an elite achiever? I believe you do.

Be courageous. Be strong. HOLD FAST and STAY TRUE.

Dressing Up as Queen Esther

standard October 30, 2018 1 response

As a little girl I grew up in a wonderful, yet conservative Christian home. We did not celebrate Halloween, but rather we would have a “Fall Festival” on the church grounds in which candy was passed out, but never enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

We were allowed to dress up but it had to meet Biblical guidelines. So, my choices were automatically limited as a girl.

Should I choose Ruth? Nah, all that grain gleaning isn’t glamorous enough for a 10-year-old.
What about Mary? Ehhh, nobody wants to see child pretending to be preggers.
I thought about Mary Magdalene, but I wasn’t that strong of a runner, so there goes that.

Which left me with the only obvious choice for the third year in a row: I would dress up as Queen Esther.

Esther was a Jewish girl who received the favor of the king’s attendant and because of that favor she was elevated above the competition to be the next queen. Scripture also tells us that Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her and when she was introduced to the king, he favored her over all the other virgins. Because of this divine favor, a simple girl becomes royalty and is crowned Queen of Susa.

With all that favor, who wouldn’t want to dress up as Esther?!

But what we find if we keep reading the book of Esther is that she was given that favor so that she could save the Jews from a genocide. However, she had to be willing to risk her life in order to save others. Esther was willing to use her influence to approach the king (an unthinkable and unprecedented thing!), and because she did a favorable outcome was given to the Jews and Esther’s family and the Jewish people were saved.

If I could go back in time to the days of Fall Festivals, I would tell my 10-year-old self, “Self, don’t be dismayed that you find yourself dressing up as Queen Esther for the third year straight. Instead, see it as an opportunity to not only be royalty for a night, but also as a chance to learn what it means to be willing to stand up for what is right, even when it’s difficult…even when it could cost you dearly. That’s what it means to live a life of favor.”

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? ~ Esther 4:14

No Darkness at All

standard October 22, 2018 2 responses

Have you ever been in an unfamiliar place while it was pitch black dark?

Think about how you felt in that moment. Maybe you were scared, nervous, insecure.

Now think about how it made you feel as soon as light flooded your eyes and you could see your surroundings. Did you exhale a big sigh of relief?  

Now let’s take a moment to link that physical experience to the spiritual side of our lives. Think of a time when you were in a dark place emotionally and spiritually in your life.  Did you feel as if the light had left you?

Were you able to experience the light overcoming the darkness?  How did it feel to have that flicker of light return to your life?  

If you have not yet felt the light in your current situation, offer up a prayer right now for Jesus’ light to enter into your situation.  

1 John 1:5 says,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Believe it, dear friend! Where God is, there is no darkness.  Your situation may seem dark and gray at the moment, but you serve a God who defeated the grave and He will do the same for you.

Where there is light, there is also hope.

And in that place, there is no darkness at all.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

standard September 18, 2018 5 responses

Fall is finally here, which means that the helmets are bright and shiny underneath the stadium lights. The question is: Are you ready for some football?

One of our favorite family activities is to meet up with other families at the local university football games. The air is mixed with Louisiana meat pies, cut grass, and of course, leather footballs.

As I watch the players take their positions on the field, I am in awe of how they hold their stance until the ball is snapped. It takes focus and discipline.

However, there are those occasions when a player will move off the line of scrimmage too soon and an offside penalty will be given. I always feel sorry for that player as the ref throws his flag and the offending number is called over the loud-speaker.

Maybe he “thought” he heard the snap. Or maybe there was bee in his helmet. But none of that matters to the referee who is there to make sure that the rules are followed.

Sometimes we jump off the line of scrimmage too soon in our spiritual life. Maybe we thought we heard the Lord say move, but we really were following our own desires. That’s why God’s Word tells us continually to “wait upon the Lord.” When we wait on Him our faith is built so that when we do hear Him say “move,” we can run the play with confidence.

Yes, it takes focus and discipline to wait, but it’s the best way to win the game!

The Name of Jesus

standard August 28, 2018 2 responses

On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable are you saying the name of Jesus?

Imagine you are talking with a new acquaintance, perhaps even a co-worker, and the topic of religion comes up, are you more comfortable saying that you have a relationship with God or are you willing to say that you have a relationship with Jesus?

I ask this question because of a recent conversation I had with a very good friend of mine who is totally sold out for the gospel and is not afraid to share her faith. However, she told me that up until a few years ago she was timid when it came to saying the name of Jesus out loud. She would refer to her faith in God, but didn’t want to be offensive by mentioning Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit convicted her to start bringing the most powerful of names into her conversations and it changed everything for this beautiful Christ-follower.

Philippians 2:10-11 tells us,

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

It’s not just any name. It is the name that is exalted above every name. There is no other name that can save the lives of mankind.

May we be so bold as my wise friend and bring the name of Jesus into our conversations.

Happiness in Giving

standard December 13, 2017 Leave a response

Each Christmas season our church group participates in blessing a lower-income school with gifts for each one of the children.

It takes much preparation and the generosity of many church members to pull this event off, but the outcome is pure joy! I love seeing the trailers fill up with the brightly wrapped boxes filled with warm clothes and toys for every child. But nothing compares to the children’s animated facial expressions as they unwrap a gift especially prepared for them.

Basketballs and sneakers, baby dolls and pjs. All unwrapped with squeals of delight.

Experiencing such fun made me think of this Scripture in Acts 20:

We must help the weak, remembering the word that the Lord Jesus himself said,

“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”

One little girl had asked for 3 matchbox trucks in her box so that she would have something to give to her brothers on Christmas morning. The thought of her sweet request made me want to weep and smile simultaneously because she understood the meaning of this Scripture.

As you make your Christmas shopping list, consider including someone who would never expect to receive a gift from you and use it as an opportunity to share the ultimate gift this Christmas: the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And then see if giving doesn’t make YOU the happiest of all.

 

To Be Known

standard May 31, 2017 8 responses

I recently visited my favorite coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee and work on some writing for a few hours.  I remember feeling adventurous that particular day, so I decided that I would try something new off the menu.  When I reached the counter I had made my decision and thus confidently placed my order, not realizing that I had ordered off the Frappuccino side.  The friendly barista looked sideways at me and asked, “Is this for you, Honey, or are you ordering for someone else?”

I was a little taken aback, but I replied, “It’s for me.”

To which she said, “Oh no, Sweetie.  That’s a frozen coffee, and you like your coffee hot.  How about I make you a Flat White.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Dumbfounded, I replied, “Okay. Let’s do that.”

Moments later, she carefully handed me the steaming mug of coffee sprinkled with raw sugar. I took sip of the velvety coffee and then looked up at her and said, “It’s just right.”  She nodded and moved on to the next customer, obviously pleased with her work.

I sat down at the table thinking how nice it felt to be KNOWN. It reminded me of the psalm that King David wrote about how wonderful it is to be known by the Creator of the earth.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

Psalm 139: 1-5 (NKJV)

The phrase “to be known” signifies how a friend or companion would know us, meaning that “God is not confined to heaven…indifferent to human concerns.” [1] Isn’t that an amazing thought?  God knows us intricately, and not just because He formed us, but also because He is our friend.  He knows what makes us feel happy or sad, excited or scared, loved or rejected.  He truly cares about these things, and He wants us to bring our victories as well as our fears or failures to Him.

Which brings us to the next point: God wants us to KNOW Him! You may be familiar with the verse Jeremiah 29:11, but let’s explore verses 12 and 13 as well.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

But wait! It gets even better. The Lord says to Jeremiah in Chapter 33:3:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Wow! How is that for an incentive to get to know God better?

Somehow it is easier to comprehend that the God who created all things knows who we are, but it’s a little more difficult to grasp that He wants us to know Him as well. But He does and that’s part of what makes the Gospel so beautiful. The more we know Jesus, the better we know the Father and have access to the Holy Spirit.

So how do we go about knowing God better? Jesus tells us that we only need to ask, seek, and knock, and the door will be opened for us to find Him (see Matthew 7:7-8). Engaging in prayer and reading God’s Word are two ways that we can form and sustain a relationship with Him.

What a precious gift that we get to be friends with the Almighty! It is a divine feeling to not only KNOW Him and receive deeper insight, but also to feel that we are truly KNOWN.

Oh Lord, I call out to You like David did: search me and know my heart! You know my hopes and dreams, fears and failures, and You love me the same. Help me to remember to call on You, knowing that You will listen and answer me. What a reward it will be to gain knowledge of great and unsearchable things! I want to know You better, Lord. Amen.

[1] Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. 5, 208.

 

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.)

No Greater Joy

standard March 25, 2017 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is brought to you by my very special friend, Lesli Thomas. Lesli is an AMAZING wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, and much more. She makes God’s Word a priority in her everyday life and it shows up in everything that she does, especially in raising her handsome boys. I know you will enjoy her wisdom!

Two years ago I chose to adopt a word for the year – JOY – to dig deep into and find out how God desired that in my life.  Joy means so much to me as I have seen it bless my life by the reality that it is a daily choice… sure there are times that someone blesses my life which brings joy but most days it is a choice to find joy in my circumstances.  Fast forward two years to 2017 and the word of the year became TRUTH.  Then this scripture jumped off the wall at me…   “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4

My husband and I have two little sports loving, outside playing, lego building, bayou fishing, dirt covered boys.  Most days as parents seem so full with school, sports, homework, playtime, laundry, cooking, baths, bedtime, repeat.  It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of “life” and wake up days, months, or even years later and feel like what just happened?  How are they already 6 and 8 years old?

This verse speaks such life to me… and so much intentionality!  I desire to experience a life full of joy, don’t you?  And I desire even more for my children to “walk in the truth.”  Then this got me thinking about 2 things: 1) What is truth? And 2) How will my children know truth?

In an effort to answer the question of “what is truth,” here are a few truths found in God’s Word.

Truths about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God is our strength and our shield, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Psalm 28:7-8

God is with us wherever we go.  Joshua 1:9

God is our deliverer from all fears.  Psalm 34:4

God is our consoler, the bringer of joy.  Psalm 94:19

God is my helper.  Hebrews 13:6

God cares for me and lifts me with His mighty hand.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  John 14:6

Jesus is our advocate who speaks to God in our defense. 1 John 2:1

The Spirit of God gives us power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit comforts us, teaches us, and reminds us of Jesus’ teachings.  John 14:26

The Spirit guides us in all truth.  John 16:13

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26

Truths about us:

I along with my children must know Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – to come to the Father.  John 14:6

To have fellowship with one another and be purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in the light.  1 John 1:7

We must love God and love one another.  1 John 4:21

We are known as children of God when we do what is right, obey his commands, love one another, and bear fruit.  1 John 2:3-6, 3:1, 3:10

We are His hands and feet, the body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27

We are children of the Most High.  Psalm 82:6

We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20

We are adopted to the sonship.  Romans 8:15

We are strong and courageous.  1 Corinthians 16:13

We are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

We are created by the Lord, His masterpiece, to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10

We are redeemed, summoned by name, the Lords.  Isaiah 43:1

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13

We are given strength when we are weary and increased power when we are weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.   Ephesians 6:10

We will soar on wings of eagles, run and not grow weary.  We will walk and not be faint when we hope in the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31

We cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus.  Romans 8:38-39

Truths about Salvation:

By the gospel you are saved… for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then appeared to many.  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

In an effort to answer the question of “how will my children know the truth,” here is where I as a parent find such conviction.  One of my God-given responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children His Word – the absolute truth.  Take a minute and soak that in… that is heavy!  I must be intentional!  I play a part in experiencing “no greater joy.” 

And if 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 holds true, then of first importance is that I teach my sons about Christ and the gospel that saves.  Judges 2:10 is a stark warning to us as parents.  It states that “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  The Israelites had been rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt yet it only took ONE generation not teaching their children of what the Lord had done for them to not know the Lord.

So, let’s make this practical for our everyday lives.  How can we as moms do our part to make sure that our children know the truth and bless us with the greatest earthly joy?

  • We as moms must be in God’s Word… seeking His absolute truth so that we may know it, talk about it, teach it, answer questions about it, and be confident in His promises. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Talk about God’s Word and promises around the dinner table, in the car driving to practice, when you tuck your kids into bed, and when you send them out the door to school.
  • Make God’s word tangible for your kids, your husband, yourself, and your house guests. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 states, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Scatter the truth of the Lord around your home… notes on the bathroom mirrors, index cards by their beds, canvas scriptures on your walls… fill your hearts and minds with God’s Word.

If we are willing to seize this awesome opportunity to leave a legacy for our families by patterning a life lived in the light and truth of God, then we are raising up children who will walk in this truth that gives eternal life. There truly is no greater joy!

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.