Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Wedding Made in Heaven

Butterflies of excitement are what usually accompany a Bride on her wedding day!  We dream of this special day as little girls. Our beautiful white dress, the flowers, the meticulous details and colors, our family and friends on both sides, our handsome husband-to-be at the end of the isle waiting...I get butterflies just thinking about it and my husband and I will celebrate 25 years next month! Truly, it's a day worth remembering forever.

If I were honest, I'd say one of my favorite parts of a wedding is not only when the Bride bursts through looking radiant and beautiful before walking down the isle, but also the look on the Groom's face as he sees her for the first time. She's worked hard, had her hair done, makeup perfect and looks radiant as she walks down the aisle, locking eyes with him - the one for whom she's been doing all the
work to prepare! This is the woman he has chosen to spend the rest of his life with and he's usually overwhelmed with tears (or in a desperate fight to keep those tears from coming!). It's just beautiful!

Imagine this, though...

The Groom is standing at the end of the isle as the music plays, knowing his Bride will be bursting through those doors at any minute. He is literally fighting back the tears as he thinks of how beautiful she is, how much he loves her and how she's going to take his breath away. She's probably spent the entire day preparing for this moment! After all, she loves him as much as he loves her. This marriage was literally made in heaven!

As the music plays and the doors swing open, the Bride is standing there awkwardly....in her wrinkled and stained pajamas, with bed-head, looking confused, like she just woke up.  She almost looks in shock. She blurts out, "Oh, is it TODAY? I had no idea! I knew it was coming but I wasn't really thinking it would be so soon!" The Bride walks timid and embarrassed down the isle, totally unprepared for what should have been the most exciting day of her life. She can never re-live this moment.

I bring this up because just like when Spring comes and we begin to see weddings popping up everywhere, I believe Spring is upon us as Christians and our Groom is standing at the front of the aisle, ready for us. I think it is just a matter of time before those doors swing open and our procession begins! Are we ready? Do we really believe He's coming for us? Do we believe the promise that Jesus gave that He is coming back for us?

I was reading this in Ephesians today and it struck me for several reasons:

Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 
Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ loves us so much that He gave Himself up for us, friends. It's clear in this passage of Scripture that He did this so that He might present us to Himself, not wrinkled and stained and disheveled, but without spot, wrinkle or any such thing!  He knows we could never present ourselves without spot or wrinkle in our own strength. We are incapable, so He gives us what we need in order to do this. He gives us His holiness. He gives us His desires. He gives us His righteousness. Our job is to allow Him to do that. To remember that our special day is coming - and our Groom will be waiting for us. Will we be ready?

Revelation 19:7-9
Let us be glad and rejoice and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear." For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." And he added, "These are the true words that come from God."

So many of us live like this promised day is just a fantasy. Or like maybe it's just not going to happen - maybe He didn't mean He was going to literally come back for us. But God is not a liar. He wouldn't tell us it was going to happen if it wasn't true. So the question isn't whether or not our Groom will come for us; instead, the question becomes, "Will we be ready when He does come?".
It's time to get ready, friends. Imagine the look on our Groom's face when those doors swing open and we are ready and waiting. He will fight back the tears as He sees His beautiful bride walking toward Him. The Bride He gave Himself up for, the Bride He loves. The Bride He will spend eternity loving.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it. 
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24



Monday, March 31, 2014

My Thoughts on "Noah"

I saw the movie Noah this weekend. In admitting that, I feel like I should hang my head in shame because so many people have come up against it. Honestly, when we went to see it, friends of ours walked up to us outside the theater and asked, "Hey guys! What are you seeing?" and I paused. What would they think? Would they think we are bad Christians? We answered, "Noah" and braced ourselves. Come to find out, that's what they were seeing, too. Maybe I was worked up over nothing? Whew!

I know there is so much controversy surrounding this movie. People are talking about it and I do not want to have an opinion based on other's opinions - I wanted to see it for myself so I could have an intelligent conversation with others about it based on experience, not hear-say. I wanted to see if there were any redemptive qualities in it.

Here are some of my thoughts after seeing it:

1. No, it's not Biblically accurate. That's not even what the director was going for, we all know that, so don't expect that. It's a story with a lot of similarities and a lot of redeeming qualities but also a lot of crazy stuff (really crazy stuff!) that's not in the Bible at all. It opens with "In the beginning there was nothing..." and we all know that the Bible says "In the beginning, GOD....". However, it then goes on to say "The Creator" created everything from nothing, not a "big bang". So obviously, in the beginning there WAS something - The Creator.

2. No, it doesn't use the name of God, but it does use "The Creator" and shows that clearly He created everything, including man.  In the movie, this "Creator" was not much like God at all, though - he was more angry, less compassionate and seemed distant. I know God is nothing like that.

3. The movie actually took my breath one moment when it showed people clinging to the top of a mountain and screaming while the rains kept coming. Noah and his family heard the screams from inside the ark and it was very hard on them emotionally.  It was heart breaking and made me think of it in a realistic way. I'm a visual person, so that was really made an impact on me.  The movie showed something (probably without meaning to) - that following God's instructions and plans for our lives isn't always roses and rainbows. It can be downright hard to make the right choices. And the world will not usually support us or agree with us. But God rewards our faithfulness. There is purpose behind the pain, always.

4. Basically, in the movie, the sin that "The Creator" seemed most angry about was that evil people ate meat. (Egads!) There was clearly an agenda in that one. I would guess the director is a Vegan? And the animals were saved because they were "innocent". It was like Noah was protecting them from the evil meat-eaters.

5. It was a L-O-N-G movie and though I thought it was interesting, my husband was bored and wanted it to end. haha We knew another couple there and they said the same thing. She liked it, he was not impressed!

6. I ran straight to my Bible when I got home and re-read the story of Noah in Genesis. My guess is lots of folks will do this. My prayer is that in doing so, they will meet the TRUE God and realize that He loves them and wants a relationship with them. That, to me, is redeeming! God can use this movie for good. He's awesome that way. :)

7. I found myself praying for the director throughout the movie. He is openly an Atheist from what I understand and my prayer is that God's Word did not return void in his heart as he researched for this movie. I pray He will find the Truth and that who God is and that he will understand how much God loves him! It can happen, you know. Even if you don't see the movie, please pray for him.

There is more I could write about theologically speaking, but I will just say that if you go see it, you just need to know it's not the Bible story you grew up hearing. I found it interesting and visually stunning, but found much of the plot to be embellished and definitely not Biblically accurate. If you are looking for a film about the theology of Noah's story, this is not the film for you.

No, it's not the Biblical story, but there are redeeming qualities and I truly do believe God can use it to speak to people. I know the real Ark is a direct representation of Christ - a beautiful picture of the salvation that was coming as He gave Himself for us on the Cross. Jesus is our shelter in the storm, our salvation from destruction, our hope in a hopeless world! And though I don't agree with how the movie represented the Truth of who God is, it will get people searching.

In closing, I cannot help but think of Philippians 1:18 "....Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice!"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Looking Sin in the Eye at the Crossroad

I looked sin in the eye this past week. It sent shudders up my spine and my heart was broken as I saw tears fall from my friend’s face.  Her eyes looked devastated and remorseful – almost vacant. In that moment, I was reminded that sin is such a liar.

Sin entices us with promises it never intends to fulfill:

Life will be better.
It will help me cope.
It won’t be a big deal.
It’s my life – I’m only hurting myself.
Everyone else is doing it.

Once the sin is uncovered and brought into the light, it is threatened. It wants to hide again. It wants to put a tighter hold on us. It wants to convince us that our wrong choices are our identity. It wants to strip us of our dignity and make us ashamed. It tells us life will never get better, there is no hope. Quite different than the promises it made in the beginning, isn’t it?

Light must be shined on sin in order for us to come to this important crossroad: the crossroad of life or death. Will we take the road that leads to life or the road that leads to death? We have a choice. Will we turn away from the sin and confess it? Will we receive forgiveness and move forward? Or will we believe the lie that we are without hope, unable to change and that forgiveness isn’t possible - our sin defines who we are now?

When I looked in the eyes of my dear friend, I saw that sin was desperate to strangle the life out of her. It reminded me of where I’ve come from. I’ve been to that crossroads before and I’m sure I will visit it again. All of us sin and fall short of the standard that God has set for us, but none of us have to allow that to define us. We have hope and we can break free!

The first step in taking the road that leads to life is admitting that we messed up – well, let’s call it what it is – we sinned. Once we admit it, the light is exposing it. I think that just as plants grow in the sunlight, sin grows and entangles us in the darkness. Once the darkness is exposed to the light, it begins to lose its grip on us. Once we begin taking the road to life, we can learn from our past choices and grow. God redeems our past and it loses its grip on us. 

If there is a person we hurt as a result of our sin, and that person is not willing to forgive, we must not allow that to keep us from accepting Christ’s forgiveness. In Psalm 51, King David wrote about his sin of adultery and murder and said, “I have sinned against You, and only You, God.”  Truly, if God forgives us, we are forgiven. If we have asked another person to forgive us and genuinely turned from the sin, it is no more we can do to convince them to forgive us. Sometimes people just need time to deal with it and hear from God. Trust must be earned back and this takes time, too. Other times, they are so hurt that forgiveness may seem impossible. That is between them and God.

The road that leads to death is always the most tempting road. It is the road that wants to blame others, it wants to downplay our sin and it wants to keep it hidden as much as possible. It wants to give us a new identity - a sinful one - and it wants to try to convince us that we will never change. I want to encourage you to steer clear of this well-traveled road. The enemy of our souls paved this road with lies and empty promises. This is the road that leads you right into his plan to steal your confidence, kill your dreams and destroy your life. This road is the coward’s road.

If you are struggling with a specific sin that is making you miserable, I want to encourage you to come clean. Don’t allow this sin to grow in your heart and mind for one more moment!

Proverbs 28:13 says, “People who conceal their sin will not prosper; but if they confess and turn from them, they will find mercy.” Your sin will not relent – it will continue to devour you until you are destroyed and miserable. It is a liar and it will never live up to the empty promises it made at first. But Christ offers forgiveness and mercy – and a chance to learn and grow from this situation and move forward in a new life!

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” –John 8:12


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mean-Spirited People

Her name was Mary Beth.  I remember it like yesterday, even though it happened in fourth grade.  She was so mean to me.  She made fun of me, stole my friends and even convinced the boy I liked that I had cooties so he ran away from me.  That was my first taste of pure dislike (probably more like hate) of someone. 

But it wasn't my last.

Unfortunately, there are people in our lives that just irritate us, berate us or make us feel like we are not loveable.  These people are easy to hate.  But they are hard to love.  Mean-spirited people can bring out the worst in us. And yet, Jesus tells us clearly that we are to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45).  I remember thinking that was impossible the first time I read it.  But it is true - when we pray for our enemies, the Lord does something very miraculous in our heart - He changes it and gives us a love for people that we never thought we could love.

I never took revenge on Mary Beth, mostly because I was inexperienced, but in my life I have tried taking matters into my own hands with people who were ugly to me and it was never a favorable outcome.  Now I think I see why...

"Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble.  For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn His anger away from them."  Proverbs 24:17-18

Whoa. So when I find sadistic joy in someone who I don't like falling (or failing), God actually turns His anger from them and is displeased with me.  It's like this invisible force-field of protection that I put up around the one with whom I am irritated!  How crazy is that?

I know it's tempting to want to get even.  I know people can be downright difficult to live with.  I know there are times when it seems appropriate to be the avenger.  But the next time I feel like I need to get even, I need to remember that when I try to do it myself, I'm in essence telling God, "No thanks, I've got this one" and He then protects that person from me. 

So....my question for you is Who are you praying for today? I know the list is probably a long one of the people you love, the people on your prayer list from church or bible study.  But what about those who are under your skin, irritating you to the point of frustration?  What about those who laugh when you fail?  Or try to take your job?  Or make fun of the way you look?  Or talk behind your back?  Or maybe this person broke your heart? 

The challenge for today is to pray for someone you don't necessarily feel like loving.  I know that God can change your heart for this person because His Word says so.  And I know it because He's done it for me.

Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stepping Away to Focus

Every year around Christmas time, my husband and I decide to start praying for a single word from
God to sort of "theme" our coming year. We've been doing this for a very long time. It's interesting how as we look back on the year, we can see how that one word was woven through the things we went through, grew through and experienced (good and bad)! This year our word is FOCUS.

I knew right away and Rod and I were in agreement that focus was the word for 2014. God has been putting it on my heart for quite awhile. I think as a busy wife and mother, speaker, writer, radio morning show personality and all the other stuff I try to squeeze in to my already busy life, I knew God was telling me to slow down. That would take focus.

When I began to pray after we decided on the word, I knew that some things had to go in my life. I couldn't imagine giving up anything though! I love every single thing that I do and I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Nothing feels awkward or like it doesn't fit, nothing feels wrong or disobedient. But I'm exhausted and I'm more than a little stressed at times. So obviously, something had to go.

After much prayer and talking with my husband, we have decided that I am going to give up my speaking ministry indefinitely.  As much as I love it and as much as I want to continue, my heart knows it's just not the right time for it. I love my position at His Radio and feel God has placed me there for a purpose. I know I'm not done there yet. Traveling on the weekends and the time it takes to prepare for events really takes a lot out of me and trying to balance the two is just exhausting. I don't feel this will be a forever decision, but I do feel it is a right decision for the time being.

I do have a couple of events that I've already committed to for this year that I will definitely be fulfilling. But as of January 1, I will not be accepting anymore speaking engagements. I want to protect my time with my family on the weekends, I want to focus more on doing my radio show with excellence and intention and I want to grow closer to God in this process. All of those things will take time - something I seem to have very little of as I try to juggle all of my roles in life! 

If you are looking for a speaker for your event, may I recommend a few? These are women who I know personally and adore. They are kindred spirits and have powerful and important messages for women that I know you will enjoy:

Renee Swope (www.reneeswope.com)
Lisa Whittle (www.lisawhittle.com)
Gwen Smith (www.gwensmith.net)
Carol Davis or Luann Prater (www.encouragementcafe.com)

You could also visit www.christianspeakers4you.com and find some great speakers. The ladies who run that site are wonderful and will help you find just the right person for you!

Blessings to you as you begin 2014!  I'm excited to see how God uses this time in my life to teach me even more about not only myself but Him and His plan for my life and my family's life. It's going to be a great year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mary

Mary had a guest on that evening so bright 
An Angel whose presence gave her quite a fright.

He came to her with a message of hope and of cheer 
The Savior was coming – the time was drawing near.

The message was more personal, as she would soon see 
As the Angel unfolded just what God’s plan would be.

He told her she would be mother to the Savior of all 
And with that to her knees sweet, young Mary did fall

But how could this be? She was not even wed! 
She questioned the Angel and that’s when he said:

“Sweet Child, God the Father has chosen you to be 
A vessel that will carry Him supernaturally...
He’s sending His Spirit to give you His Seed 
So you and your people will finally be freed!”

She thought for a moment and said with such strength, 
“If this is God’s will, then I’ll go to any length.”

She carried our Savior through long, lonely days 
Where people would give her a judgmental gaze.

They’d point and they’d stare and they’d whisper her name 
While she walked down the streets without any shame.

And when the day came for her to give birth 
The heavens declared His invaluable worth.

Jesus was born and the plan would unfold 
That for thousands of years was prophetically foretold.

He came to live among us, to show us how to live 
Then He laid down His life, so our sins He could forgive.

But it didn’t end there – no He rose from the grave
So all men could trust Him and their lives He could save.

And save me, He did! But first I had to admit
That I couldn’t do it alone, to Him I had to submit.

Just like Mary did on that bright, clear night 
When she submitted to God’s plan and did not put up a fight.

And once she agreed that God’s plan was the best, 
His Spirit came upon her and gave her sweet rest.

He did the same for me -though I can’t explain how
His Spirit came upon me and He lives in me now!

Just like sweet Mary, I carry Jesus around 
Not in the womb, but in my heart He’ll be found.

People do point now, they stare and whisper my name 
They think I’ve lost my mind, though I’m perfectly sane.

But all the while I know that I’m free and forgiven 
So I tell others now about the life that I’m livin’

The words that the angel told Mary were true
And He’s telling the same thing to me and to you:

“Sweet Child, God the Father has chosen you to be 
A vessel that will carry Him supernaturally...
He’s sending His Spirit to give you His Seed, 
So you and your people will finally be freed!”

Leslie Nease

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rooted or Rotted?

The wind was howling outside to the point of shaking the windows for hours.  When the stormy winds passed, we assessed the damage outside and I was really surprised by how many trees in our back yard had fallen.  I'm so thankful none fell on our house, but also sad to see so many lying on the ground or stuck in the branches of stronger trees that did not fall.

I recalled the big tree that fell in my back yard several years ago.  Every time I would look outside for the first few months, my heart would sink as I would think about the life the tree had - the majesty of it but now it was a dried up piece of wood lying in my yard, helpless and alone. What happened to it that made it so weak that the stormy winds knocked it over?

The tree somehow lost it's nourishment.  It became weaker and weaker as the days would pass and even though I couldn't see what was happening inside the tree, it was drying up and dying, rotting from the inside out.  The outside looked normal initially, but then it slowly started producing green leaves and before too long, after a storm passed by, it was uprooted and fell helplessly to the ground.

Jeremiah 17:5-8:

This is what the Lord says:  "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their heads away from the Lord.  They are like stunted shrubs in the desert with no hope for the future.  They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."

How often have we felt dried up and lifeless in life?  There are usually tell-tale signs, or symptoms that we may be rotting up.  First, we will begin to worry more and trust God less.  We may also notice that we feel a sort of "hollowness" in our spirit.  Like the tree, initially our outside will not show the signs of decay inside, but we know something is missing.  We may also notice our leaves and fruit production begin to halt.  The life drains from us slowly as we begin to trust in other people instead of God and spend less time in His word.

God's word is nourishment to our dried up spirits.  His words give life! Psalm 119:165 says "Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble."  Great peace.  I want that, don't you?  I do pray that today we will tend to our roots, take an inventory of our lives and ask God to plant us by His living water.  Without nourishment, we will be doomed to rot from the inside out - a slow, painful and difficult process as we lean on our own understanding and the opinions of others for our nourishment - which will lead us to dry up and live in an "uninhabited salty land".

I heard a quote from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "If praise elates you, then criticism will deflate you."  So true.  And so convicting.  I know this is a struggle I have faced my entire life, but I also know my strength comes from the Lord, and through Him I can be rooted and strengthened as I focus on His thoughts of me, not other people's opinions.

The storms of life are not optional, they are a part of this fallen world.  These storms can either break us or help us grow stronger.  We do not need to fall in those storms, though!  We can stand tall, firmly planted and rooted in the truths of God's word when those storms come. Even if you are not going through a difficultly right now, it's the perfect opportunity to begin feeding your spirit with Truth so when those times come, you will stand tall and strong in the midst of it.

"As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in Your commands.  Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live." Psalm 119:143-144

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fear of the Unknown

There's a lot of bizarre stuff going on in the world today and I can honestly say it is just more than I can process in my mind. Crazy people shooting people at public events is something I just cannot fathom. Or, what about dead fish washing up on shores by the thousands or even millions? Tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes....what is going on in our world?  How do we make sense of it?

In Matthew 14:22-33, we read about a storm the disciples were facing on the boat in the middle of the sea where they were being tossed by the waves.  As frightening as that may have been, there is no mention of the disciples being afraid until verse 25..."Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying 'It's a ghost!' And they cried out in fear."  I think that is interesting.  They were doing okay with the storm, but it was something they could not explain or comprehend in their mind that tipped them over the edge into fear.  When our brains see something unexplainable, we panic.

Immediately, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  Another version of the Bible says "Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid."  And yet another says "Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid."  So, Jesus knows they are afraid of what they do not understand and he knows that in order for them to overcome that fear, they must take courage.

Did you get that?  It wasn't something that came naturally.  It was something they had to take, a choice they had to make, an action they had to take.  And in His presence, they were able to settle their hearts.  Peter even had the opportunity to walk on water!  But once Peter began to walk on water, his mind, again, didn't comprehend how he could be doing it so once again he became afraid and started to sink.  Jesus reached out his arm to him and pulled him up out of the water.  He understood the fear Peter felt and had compassion on him.

Today, if you are beginning to feel paralyzed by your fear or if you are sinking because you feel like it's more than you can comprehend, I want you to remember this verse and repeat it over and over in your mind:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ)

We cannot trust in our own understanding when things don't make sense, but that doesn't mean we have to panic or fear.  God is still in control.  He is still sovereign, or He wouldn't be God.  When we cannot trace His hand in a situation, we can always know His heart. He knows what is happening and He has a plan, even if we don't understand it.

 In that verse it says "lean not on your own understanding" and to me, that includes when we don't have any understanding at all. Instead of focusing on the things we don't understand, as Peter did when he began to sink or as the disciples did when they saw what they thought was a ghost, let's reach out for the One who understands everything completely.  His arms are always reaching for us and He will give us peace in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of uncertainty and rest in the midst of a world that is most definitely in a state of unrest.  Fear can be paralyzing or mobilizing.  We have a choice.

So, what's going on in the world today?  I'm going to trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on what I do or don't understand, acknowledging Him as Lord along the way.  Then, and only then, can I "take heart".  It's a choice I must make.  It's a choice we all must make. There are always going to be things we may not understand, but one thing we can always know for sure...God is still God.  That will never change.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -Jesus (in John 16:33)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pierced

I read this poem I wrote on the air this morning. After seeing Billy Graham's "My Hope America" this weekend, I remembered this poem and thought I'd share it. Oh, how I love Jesus!

The hands and feet of Jesus are what we’re told to be
To go where He will lead us - to serve in humility

To love and care for orphans, to support the weak and poor
Our lives a living sacrifice with motives that are pure

And yet to be his hands and feet, we must never forget the cost
Christ’s hands and feet were pierced that day as He hung upon the Cross

The piercing was so painful and it held him in His place
While the soldiers mocked & beat Him and death He bravely faced

He was pierced for our transgressions as our sin was cast on Him
We are pierced by our transgressions now each time we commit a sin

We are pierced when those we love don’t respond to Jesus’ Name
Or when we see a suffering child whose illness seems in vain

We’re pierced when our lives seem hopeless and we question God’s intent
If things don’t go our way and our faith seems to have been spent

We’re pierced when we see the Truth but to act means sacrifice
To truly live like Christ, we must give Him our whole life

That means the money that we’ve saved and the possessions that we own
It means the dreams that we have dreamt and the relationships we have grown

But sacrifice is never as hard as the enemy would have us believe
We must trust God enough to give without expecting to receive

The hands and feet of Jesus are what we’re told to be
Pierced but raised to New Life – walking in His Victory!

-Leslie Nease



He was pierced for our transgressions,
   He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
   and by His wounds we are healed. 


Isaiah 53:5 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dancing Leaves

Fall is here!  Oh, how I love this time of year. Driving down the road the other day, I noticed the colorful leaves "dancing" on the ground all around us.  My first thought was "What on earth would they have to dance about?  Don't they know they are dead?"  The poor little leaves.  It looks like their "hayday" is over.  They are withered up and they've fallen to the ground only to be raked away and toted off as trash.  It's a shame, because they look so beautiful on the outside with all the reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns scattered across the walking trail.  But just because they were beautiful, that didn't change the fact that they were not alive anymore.

But they were dancing...

I wonder... if the leaves could think, what would they think?  Maybe they would recall the days when they were just a tiny bud, bursting into the warm sunshine with excitement and a zest for life.  Each precious day, they would soak in the rain, the sun and enjoy the warm breezes that blew through, prompting them to sing in unison with the other leaves holding tightly to the tree branches as they all rustled with the wind in harmony.

I wonder... if the leaves could think, would they think back to the day that they realized things were beginning to change? Life was beginning to get more difficult and the sun wasn't shining down on them as much.  Their colors became more beautiful and vibrant on the outside, but inside they were not feeling beautiful or vibrant at all.  I wonder if they knew something was wrong.  Instead of a welcoming breeze, the winds were chilly and uninviting.  I wonder if they recall the moment they realized they were hanging on by a thread to the tree...ready to fall to the ground, to give up and just let go at the first sign of the next breeze. 

I wonder... if the leaves could talk, would they tell us how it felt to float gently to the ground the day they finally let go?  The force of the wind was more than they could bear.  They had to surrender.  Would they tell us tales of how they would lay there, among other beautifully colored leaves, wondering what was going to happen next as they huddled together, terrified and vulnerable.  Would they admit that they pondered if this was the end of the road for them - that there was nothing left?

Then I wonder...if leaves could talk, would they tell us about the day the wind gust began to blow through their huddle with a powerful blast and instead of singing with the other leaves up in the tree as they did in their youth when those gusts would go through, they found themselves dancing with those very same leaves, all dressed up in their autumn colors, as if they were celebrating their new life!  A chance to dance freely - given only by the strength of the powerful and mighty wind.
Yes, the leaves may have been dead...but the wind brings life to them.  So they celebrate!  They are filled with hope again. 

Life is different now, and their path is determined by the wind these days, not by the security of the tree branch they so tightly held onto before the change.  They must trust not in their own strength to hold on now, but in the wind's strength to carry them through to where it would have them go.  Their mourning has turned to joyful dancing and they are clothed with joy!

What a beautiful picture this has given to me of the life God gives to us through His Spirit.

Psalm 30:10-12

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
      You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
      O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!


John 3:8
 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

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