Monthly Archives: January 2012

Aside

Matthew 13:15 “These people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn and I would heal them.  But blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.”

Last week, my husband and I went to Naples, Florida on a business trip for him.  En route we had a little over an hour layover in  Orlando.  After grabbing some water and a snack, we sat down and waited for our flight to board.  While we were sitting, I heard an elderly gentleman a few seats away from me say in a loud voice “hello.”  A couple of seconds went by, then, again, “hello.”  This time, I glanced over to make sure he wasn’t speaking to me.  Nope, he was looking straight ahead.  Again, with a little more authority in his voice, he hollered, “hello!”  By now (no surprise for those of you who know me), I was tickled.  I quickly glanced over at the gentleman and noticed he was on his cell phone.  No sooner had I looked, he screamed, yet again, “hello!”  I waited in anticipation if the person on the other end would respond, because by now, of course, I was engaged in his one-way conversation.  A minute goes by and I heard him say, “I’m in Florida” – a pause – “no, Florida” – another pause – “I’m in Florida” – pause – “I’m in Orlando, Florida, yes, Orlando” – pause – “I’m in Orlando, Florida!”  It was obvious he could clearly hear the person on the other end of the line, but his receiver couldn’t hear him. Finally, after much persistence, the elderly gentleman decided it was time to hang up.

As I sat there amused at his determination and surprised at his patience, I wondered, was the connection bad or was the person on the other end of the line hard of hearing or not paying attention to him.  Regardless, it was interesting how the man handled it – there was no sign of frustration on his face, no hint of aggravation towards the person on the other end.  It was as if he had experienced this before, and he would just try the call again later.

Now, since I have started this blog, I have been making every effort to be more aware of what God might be teaching me at any given moment; and at this moment, through this elderly man, in a busy, crowded airport, God spoke to me.  This is what I heard:

“Katie, for so many years, that was Me talking to you.  I would call your name over and over again, but you would not answer.  Sometimes it was because our connection was bad.  You had placed yourself in a spot where it was hard for my call to go through.  Other times, it was because you weren’t paying attention when I called.  You were too busy with the calls of the world around you that you didn’t even know I was on the line.  And, other times, you plugged your ears because you didn’t want to hear what I had to say.  Did it frustrate me?  No.  Did I lose patience with you?  Absolutely not.  Did it make me sad?  A little.  You see, I knew the life I had waiting for you.  A life that would bring you opportunities to share My love and to build My kingdom.  I knew once we had a good connection and you heard My voice, you would begin to look forward to my calls.  I’m pleased and relieved we are talking now.  For as My son, Jeremiah wrote, thousands of years ago, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).  I am optimistic you see that future now. Just be sure to continue taking My calls.  Stay in range of My connection.  Listen for My ringtone.  Hear My voice.  I’m proud of you.  I love you.”

How thankful I am for my Father’s persistence, patience, and determination to get me on the line.  For so many years, I was deaf to His precious voice.  I was in the group Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:15 – “these peoples’ heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and I would heal them.”  In recognition of God’s wonderful healing through His mercy and grace, I now find myself in the latter portion of this verse – “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”  Just because I took His call, listened, and responded, my eyes and ears are blessed – what a generous God we serve!  However, with this blessedness comes a responsibility.  I “must pay more careful attention, therefore to what (I) have heard, so that (I) do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). My responsibility is to continue to hear Him calling – to place myself in a position where I can really recognize and listen to His voice.

How about you?  Do you hear His voice calling you?  Sometimes the ringtone comes through the reading of His word, other times its through one of His servants, and still other times it comes straight through your heart.  Be certain, He is ready to talk whenever you are ready to listen.  For in the middle of a hectic travel day, through a stranger in the airport, He called me.  Rest assured, He’s calling you too!

Until next week, listening for His ringtone… Katie   

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The King’s Water

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John 4:14 “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This past summer, my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to take our children on a mission trip to N’Soko, Swaziland, a small country bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa.  It was a life changing trip in so many ways, and the experience continues to affect my walk with God each day.  While we were there, we had the amazing privilege of spending time with local widows and children, many of whom are orphans as Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.  Although the women and children are desolate, poverty-stricken and desperate for a nurturing touch, their inner spirit screams with enthusiasm for our Lord, and it was completely refreshing to see.  In addition to their passion for God, they also possess a love and servanthood for one another that was overwhelming.  Being there, I felt as if I was witnessing what the body of Christ is supposed to look like – it was in its purest form.

As I transitioned back to my “real” world in the States after this trip, it took me a while to process everything I had seen.  I kept wondering, despite their despicable living conditions, could the children and women in Swaziland I came to love be more blessed than me and my family and friends are here?  I knew it was a crazy and irrational thought.  After all, each day they are faced with obstacles of pure survival – simple, every day runs for us to the grocery store for food and medication are unfathomable fantasies for them.  Still, this illogical thought continued to be one I couldn’t seem to shake.  Why did the impoverished people we left thousands of miles away seem to have more of God’s precious Holy Spirit than I did?   I knew I needed to reevaluate my walk with God and my walk with the world.

One of my biggest problems as a follower of Christ is learning how to follow Jesus’ words of “not belonging to this world” (John 15:19).  It is something I struggle with on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis!  I long to be salt and light, yet I feel as though sometimes, I’m just blending in with the scenery around me.  Anyone relate?  I forsake the responsibilities I have to honor Christ and, instead, hold onto the deceptive lies of this fallen world.  I become like the people of Judah whom the Lord spoke of to the prophet Jeremiah, “my people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer. 2:13).  Jesus tells us over and over again in the Gospels that He is that living water.  Are my daily choices creating cracks in my personal cistern?  Is that why I sometimes feel drained of His living water and subsequent power of His Holy Spirit?

I began to recognize the people I encountered in Swaziland do just the opposite of me – they deliberately renounce the world in which they live and cling to Christ.  They don’t have the luxeries my life and those around me have.  They, quite literally, only have Jesus.  He is the eternal hope that their life here on earth isn’t their final destination.  They certainly “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6); and as a result, the Lord has blessed them with the kind of water Jesus refers to when He is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.  In the gospel of John, Jesus tells the woman “everyone who drinks this (world’s) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).  This is a verse I must remind myself to claim as truth in my spiritual walk!  Unlike my friends in Africa, my life here is comfortable, pleasurable, and secure, but these blessings will never quench the thirst of my soul. For I was created in the image of my King, and only His spring of living water will satisfy – only His spring will bring me wisdom, knowledge, and true joy.

As I close today, I leave reflecting on the lives of those believers who are truly suffering in the body of Christ.  May we kneel at our Savoir’s spring in honor of them this week, so that the King’s water may fill us and splash onto the lives of those around us.

Until next week, sipping a glass from the King… Katie

God in a Tree Stand

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“The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

I am not a hunter.  I am not even the wife of a hunter.  So, imagine my surprise when my husband came to me a little over a year ago and said he wanted to take my son hunting.  I wasn’t necessarily opposed to it – honestly, I just thought it would be a “one-time” bonding experience for the two of them.  Well, I was wrong.  Since that initial trip, they have been numerous times, and while I have never discouraged them from going, I’ve never understood the allure of sitting in the freezing cold, hours on end, waiting for the possibility of an animal to come across its fatal path.  It just seemed incredibly boring and quite frankly a waste of time.  Then, last weekend, my 12-year-old son asked me to go hunting with him.  My initial reaction – no thank you – but then I thought to myself how he is on the brink of soon wanting nothing to do with me.  How could I say no?

So, out I went, decked in what I considered to be camouflage (my son would argue that) and my orange hat so that no other hunter would accidently shoot me – asking myself, what in the world had I gotten myself into?  However, as I climbed into our tree stand and saw the beauty of God all around, I knew this experience was going to be more about changing me than doing something for my child.

For those of you who have been hunting, you know the importance of being quiet and completely still in the tree stand; for those of you who have not been hunting, it’s the first and most important rule in hunting 101; and for this first-time hunter, not the easiest thing to do.  I had to wonder why is it so hard for me to be still – why is it not in my character to quiet myself and enjoy the beauty of nature all around me?  Why do I have to be in a constant state of motion?  In the tree stand, God kept bringing the familiar words of the psalmist in Psalm 46:10 “be still, and know that I am God.”  God certainly had my attention as I reflected on why I don’t put these verses into action more often.  I also knew I already had the answer – I am just too busy.

Busyness, as most of us know, is Satan’s tool of choice for our generation.  As long as he keeps our bodies and minds scrambling from one event to the next, he knows we won’t experience the extraordinary power, peace and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  After all, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 to take His “yoke upon us and we will find rest for our souls.”  This word rest in the original Greek language is “anapausis,” and it means “cessation of any motion, business or labor; an intermission.”  Oh how I long for an intermission in my life, don’t you?!  But intermissions must be planned.  The lights on the stage must go down and the curtains must close for the intermission to take place.  For if it’s not planned, it’s not going to occur.  We must plan to have quiet, non-chaotic time with our Savior in order to have our intermissions in life.

If you are a believer, you know God is desperately in love with you, but did you know He is even more desperate to spend time with you?  The prophet Zephaniah tells us “the Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love (3:17).”  The New American Standard Bible translates the end of this verse as “He will be quiet in His love.”  How many times have I missed out on my Lord’s presence and affection because I’m not allowing Him to make His way into my noisy life?  As a child saved by the King’s one and only Son, I owe Him more than that, much more.

As we begin a new year, I challenge myself and I challenge you to not only recognize this insurmountable love God wants to bestow upon us, but to reciprocate in its offering through our time with Him.  May each of us create our own “tree stand” in our daily walk with our Lord and give exaltation, not to ourselves and our schedules, but to the precious name of our Savior.

Until next week, it is in His extraordinary midst and love that I leave you… Katie

New Year’s Resolution or Revelation?

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Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

I, like so many others across the world, like to make New Year’s resolutions.  There’s something about the start of a new calendar year that breathes enthusiasm and hope into a life in need of a change.  Resolutions bring a peaceful close to the past 12 months as we think, this year, things will be different.  However, for most people, by February, resolutions fail and the peace that we once held onto becomes the calm before the storm.  The busyness of life creeps in, and we are left scratching our heads, wondering why we couldn’t keep our oaths of change.  Could it be that our worldly resolutions need to be guided by some spiritual revelations?  I think so.

For many years, I never considered what God would have my New Year’s resolution to be.  I focused on the things I wanted to change in my life, not the things He wanted me to change.  But then, this year, I came across the prophet Isaiah’s words “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).  I realized through this verse how desperate our Father is to direct, not only our resolutions, but also our daily lives.  He wants our focus to be on Him consistently allowing His Holy Spirit to guide our every move, word, and thought.  It’s the reason He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins, and the reason Jesus told us that He came so that we  “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  I had to ask myself, do I believe this – do I trust that my God is a personal God who cares about every decision I make?  It was this revelation that led me to begin this blog.
 
 If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, how often do you think about the redeeming sacrifice our Lord made when He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins?  If you are like me – not often enough.  Our redemption was bought only at the price of our Savior’s blood, and it’s almost incomprehensible to understand!  The unconditional love our Father bestowed upon us the day of Calvary and lavishes upon us on a daily basis is so unlike the world in which we live, that we rarely pause to really think about what He did in order for us to be delivered from the “sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1).  While its a continuous struggle to keep my focus on my Heavenly destination, it is His redeeming love that has completely redirected my life over the past ten years.  My God has proven over and over again to me what that “abundant life” really is – leading me to step out in faith and create “redeemed and redirected.”
 
My prayer is that each week God will give me the words He would have me write, and that “redeemed and redirected” won’t be about me, but about revelations of His character and His ways, allowing His glory to shine above all else.  So, I’m excited to begin this new experience with our great Lord and with you, and I’m looking forward to what He has in store for each of us!
 
Until next week, I leave you in His magnificent name and redeeming love…Katie