Raising Warriors

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Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

As Daylight Savings has come and gone this weekend, I’ve been left wondering – where has this school year gone?  In my mind, it seems like yesterday I was taking my fourth-grade daughter to meet the teacher.  For that matter, it feels like last week that my now 12 (soon to be 13)-year-old son was saying, “hold you” to me so I would pick him up.  Where did the time go?  When did my children grow into the self-sufficient, self-motivated young people that they are, and where was I when this happened?  Ten years ago, I distinctly remember being in the grocery store with my children when an elderly woman said to me, “just watch, you will blink, and they won’t need you so much anymore.”  I think I just blinked.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on time lately, especially as my children are on the brink of innocence lost.  I can almost feel the world knocking at the doors of their hearts, just waiting to be let in.  Oh, how I don’t want them to open that door!  Don’t get me wrong, I want them to experience life – I simply don’t want them to experience the sin that accompanies it.  While our culture offers incredible opportunities to grow in a meaningful relationship with Christ, it also presents many other deceitful, more alluring avenues.  I’ve seen how this world can change a child – a once faith-filled teenager turned faithless wanderer, an all-American girl turned hopeless addict, a humble young man turned arrogant and prideful, a once shy student turned bitter and angry.  I could go on and on, and it leaves me asking myself, “Have I equipped my children for the spiritual war their hearts are about to face?”

One of my favorite pieces of scripture that Jesus spoke to His disciples referred to keeping a child-like faith in the midst of a self-centered society.  “At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-4).  I pray my children will never lose that spirit of humility, and that their love (for Christ and this world) will “abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9).  For, I am desperate for them to grasp our extraordinary God and His Holy Word much sooner than I did!

In the meantime, I sit and wait for what the future will bring, and I try my hardest to be a good leader.  I realize while I have been given the precious privilege of being a parent, my children have only been entrusted to me for a short time.  I must use my time wisely and continue to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  I cling to and claim the words of Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”   I pray God will help me guide them to His mighty throne so they will recognize their particular place in His Kingdom and know their Creator has a specific purpose for them to  fulfill.  I need to focus my energy into training my children to not only be Christians, but also be active warriors for Christ!

So, today, as I reflect on the past decade, I am so very thankful for my babies – who aren’t babies anymore.  I cherish what time I have left to influence their decisions regarding their lives, and I recognize the urgency of the role I play.  May they continue to cultivate their relationship with our Heavenly Father and develop their spiritual armor so they will be ready for the battle that lay ahead.

Until next week, seeking to raise a warrior…Katie

You Are What You Eat

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Matthew 4:4 “Jesus answered, ‘It is written; Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Our bodies are magnificent pieces of machinery.  When our Creator sculpted us in His incredible image, He gave us not only a glimpse into His eternal realm, but He also left us with an amazing amount of imagery that correlates directly with His Word.  I saw this imagery last weekend when I attended a continuing education course on nutrition and our bodies.  The instructor who was leading the course at one point in her lecture said, “Simply put, you are what you eat.”  She continued saying if we make poor food choices on a regular basis, we will inevitably begin to feel awful; but if we fuel our bodies with what they were built to run on (the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, with little processed foods), we will experience a more active, healthier life.  Toward the end of the course, she assured us, if we began to consistently eat the way our bodies were intended to be fueled, we would crave the right foods and never desire to go back to the junk food way of living.  I left the lecture that day thinking about the choices I was making for my health, but then, as He is known to do, God redirected my thoughts.  While my food choices are essential to my well-being, my intake of His nourishment is indispensable to my soul.

As Believers, we know we are spiritual beings, and as such our bodies crave spiritual food – that food consists of two major components – Jesus Christ (John 6:55) and God’s Holy Word (Matthew 4:4).  They are what we were created to run on.  This concept is  illustrated beautifully in the Gospel of Matthew.  “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  The tempter came to (Jesus) and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’  Jesus answered, ‘It is written; Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:2-4).  Are we, as Christians, getting enough of God’s precious Holy Word so that our spiritual souls don’t starve?  Research shows we aren’t.  In fact, an article published at Christianity.com, showed that the number of Christians who read the Bible on a daily or even regular basis is dropping at an alarming rate.  It went on to state, “Nowadays, it seems, many (Christians) view Scripture, not as a book to read regularly, but as a text book one dips into when wishing to remind oneself of the basis of faith or when seeking an answer to some perplexing spiritual issue.”   What is wrong with us?  Are we just not getting it?!  After all, the Bible is God’s one and only published book – shouldn’t we, as His followers, be immersing ourselves in it on a consistent basis?  Or, maybe we are so used to filling our hearts, minds, and souls with the junk food of the world that we rarely allow ourselves the opportunity to eat the pure, non-processed spiritual food found only in His Word.

We must remind ourselves that reading the Bible occassionally versus immersion in the Word is the difference between a liquid diet and one of solid food.  The writer of Hebrews explains this –  “anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (5:13-14).  There are two phrases in this scripture that give us a hint as to what is expected of us in order to receive this solid spiritual food.  First, the words “constant use” are actually translated “a power acquired by custom, practice, or use; a habit.”  We must make reading His word a daily practice in our life, an act that comes as a natural response to living.  Second, the phrase “trained themselves”  means to “exercise vigorously the faculty of the mind for perceiving, understanding, and judging.”  Much like an athlete vigorously trains for his sport, we must vigorously train ourselves to be in His Word in order to digest His magnificent gift of solid spiritual food and subsequent nourishment for our souls. 

So, how are you feeling these days – depressed, anxious, sluggish, powerless?  Maybe it has to do with the food you are eating.  Go get His Holy Word and feed your soul today! I have a feeling, like the nutritionist assured me with my food choices, once you get a generous helping of Jesus Christ and God’s Word, you will never crave anything in its place!

Until next week, stuffing my face at His banquet table… Katie

Infectious Attitudes

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James 3:9-10 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers this should not be.”

I have a dear friend who got me thinking last week about infectious attitudes.  She did this through an event she recapped in the funniest way.  I asked her permission to share her story with you, because I think, like me, you just might relate. This is how she told it.

“Katie, you’re going to die when I tell you what I did the other day.  I’m so embarrassed over what happened that I don’t even want to tell you.  (She certainly had my attention now – she continued)  I was  driving morning carpool, enjoying the ride and talking with my son, when it happened.  I made a turn from a stop sign, and as I turned, I noticed an older gentleman walking his dog in the middle of the other lane.  As I got closer to him, I could see he noticed me as well, because he was screaming at me to slow down and obnoxiously waving his hands to emphasize his anger with me.  As I passed by, completely annoyed at the ugliness I had just witnessed, I couldn’t help myself –  I had to turn around and give that man a piece of my mind.  After all, I wasn’t speeding, and he was walking in the middle of the road!  As I rolled down my window to make him see the error of his ways, my plan backfired.  Embarrassingly enough, we ended up having a shouting match with absolutely no resolution.  As I drove away from him, I was so mad at myself for turning around!  I should have let it go.  But, I didn’t!  Instead, I let his mean get all over me!”

Can you relate? Oh, how I can! I loved her analogy “I let his mean get all over me!”  Have you ever let someone’s mean get all over you?  I have many times.  It’s certainly not something I’m proud of, it’s just the truth.   As a result of my retaliations, I always had regrets.   Regret for not holding my tongue.  Regret for not having self-control.  Regret for not honoring my heavenly Father with my actions.  It reminds me of James’ words, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless…With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers this should not be” (James 1:26, 3:9-10).  No, it should not be.  Mean for mean is unspiritual.  But, how do we fight our flesh?  Simply put, as followers of Christ, we must be willing to accept the offenses of others with humility and silence our precious pride. 

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to treat others as we would have them treat us.  It’s radically different from what our society tells us to do!  When we are offended we must be willing to turn the other cheek and stand with Jesus.  Please know, this is not a weak form of complacency.  It’s a strong, self-determined, God-motivated love for Christ.  Can you imagine the impact we, as Christians, could have on our culture if we truly practiced everything Jesus preached?  Our Christ-like attitudes just might become contagious!  

This week I challenge myself and each of you in the body of Christ to start a revolution.  “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col. 3:12).  “Rid yourself of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Col. 3:8).   Immerse yourself in His word which breeds wisdom that is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit” (James 3:17).  In doing so, you just might infect someone’s attitude with the life-giving Spirit of Christ.

Until next week, striving to start a revolution…Katie


Filling Your Love Tank

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Ephesians 3:17-18 “be rooted and established in love so that we may have the power to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

God had me thinking about the concept of love recently.  I don’t know if He used last week’s date of February 14th to peek my interest in the topic or if it was just time for me to reflect on how His abounding love has transformed my life.  Regardless, as the hoopla of Valentine’s Day came and went, I realized just how much my image of love has changed.  Believe me, it’s been a long, hard lesson for a self-confessed “love junkie” like me to learn.  Let me explain.

For many years, I looked to those around me to fill my need for love.  I would crave the attention, adoration, or affection of my family and friends; then, however much I received, or didn’t receive, of this love would determine my emotions and subsequent actions.  I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it was like an addiction – one that left me looking to anyone for my next “fix.”  I found myself in a self-centered cycle of sin which, looking back, brought with it many self-inflicted scars.  You see, the pressure I put on those around me (in particular my spouse) to satisfy a need only my Heavenly Father could fill was like putting a square in a round hole – as much as I tried to make it fit, as much as I wanted the love of those around me to fill me up, I was always left with some empty space.  This emptiness would inevitably leave me looking for someone to blame.  Praise God, after much soul searching and mis-guided finger pointing, I found who the guilty party was – me!  I had placed myself in a position where my so-called “love tank” would never get filled, and I knew I needed to make some changes.  Our compassionate God gently spoke those changes to me through His precious Holy Word.

 As Believers, we know God is love (1 John 4:8), and we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27).  Therefore, to experience love is an essential component to our being.  In fact, even a study in Forbes magazine called “The Science of Love” concluded love was more of a “primal drive akin to hunger, than it was an emotion.”  Knowing this, what happens when we run on empty in that department?  I mean, let’s face it, we are sinful people having relationships with other sinful people, and, on top of that, we live in a sinful world – most likely, no one is getting their fill of love purely from those around us.  The fact is, while we were made for love, we were made specifically for God’s love, and only He can fill our alleged love tank.  Don’t get me wrong, as humans, we can enjoy, esteem, and cherish the love of our family and friends, but we are not to rely on it.  We must, as our Father tells us through the disciple John, “rely on God’s love” (1 John 4:16) alone, and trust me, it’s an incredible, unconditional, individual type of love!  

But, there’s even better news – the only prerequisite God requires of His children to experience His amazing love is for us to open up our hearts to Him through our time and cultivate a more intimate relationship.  After all, we can’t truly receive the love of someone without knowing who they are.  The apostle Paul tells us we must “be rooted and established in love (or God) so that we may have the power to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-18).  We can’t grasp the love of our Savior without developing roots where it can grow.  Rest assured, when it grows, you are blessed with the most incredible taste of true love – a love which surpasses this life into eternity. 

How is your love tank these days?  Are you  trying desperately to fill it with the love of those around you?  Or have you found, the only true spiritual gas station for your tank?  I have to be honest, while my image of love has changed over the years, it continues to be a daily struggle for me to look only to God to fill me.   My flesh can be strong.  Without consistent redirection, it can guide me to the wrong fueling station, leaving me with that familiar feeling of emptiness.  Where are you fueling up?  Do you need redirection?  Have no doubt, there is a station close by where your love tank can be filled, and its Attendant is always waiting with a surplus of fuel!

Until next week, making my way to His station and standing at His pump…Katie

Stepping Into God’s Zone

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2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Well, He did it again.  God stepped into my comfort zone and challenged me to step out.  He enjoys doing that every now and then to make sure I stay on my toes, because, admittedly – I like to be comfortable.  I’m not fond of embarrassing, awkward, unpleasant or self-conscious situations, and I certainly don’t take pleasure in willingly putting myself in those circumstances.  But God does.  I’ve found it’s where He does His best work.

God took the initiative to confront me through a comedian named Michael Jr. who recently spoke at our church at a special Sunday night service.  His presentation was hilarious, but even better was the message his material brought – step out of your comfort zone and God WILL have your back.  He went on to explain how God had blessed him with this amazing ability to make people laugh.  It was a gift – a gift Michael Jr. knew needed to be shared with those who were hurting the most across America.  So, he decided to step out of his comfort zone and see if his gift could make a difference.  In his words, he decided it was time to stop “getting laughs and start giving them.”  So, on the road he went.

God led him to several different venues – a homeless shelter, a shelter for abused children, a clinic with HIV patients, but one of the places that pushed Michael Jr. out of his comfort zone the most was a highly secured prison facility.  It was where God wanted him to go, but certainly, not where he wanted to be.  He tells the story of walking into the prison, and for the first time on this journey, being scared.  He had no idea what he was going to say to these men.  He began to pray, “Lord, you have brought me here.  What am I going to say to these men who are facing life sentences behind bars?  How can I give them laughter?  How can this gift you have given me affect these men?”  Michael Jr. literally had no material as he walked into the room filled with men who had absolutely no expression on their faces.  He says he stepped on stage full of fear feeling completely alone.  But he wasn’t alone.  God was there, and He had been preparing for Michael Jr.’s arrival.  You see, as Michael Jr. looked out into the audience of men, one man in particular caught his attention.  It was a man with long white hair and a white beard.  Seconds passed.  Michael Jr. says he still didn’t know what he was going to say or how he was going to get these men to trust him enough to laugh.  He then, on a whim, decided to ask the older man what his name was – his answer – “Moses.”  Michael Jr. knew immediately his Lord was not only there, but He had his back!  He finished telling the story in a hilarious way, saying he looked at the man and exclaimed, “Moses, I want you to do me a favor.  Tomorrow, I want you to go to the warden, look him straight in the eyes and say, ‘warden – let my people go!’”  The entire room broke out in laughter, and by the end of the show, lives were changed.  Did you get that?  As a result of his discomfort, as a result of his obedience, lives were changed.  Are there lives around you that need to be changed?  Is God calling you to possibly change your life by doing some work for Him?  Rest assured, you don’t have to visit a prison to make a difference.

Stepping out of your comfort zone has many different facets.  It can be the more obvious physical step of faith – serving at a local shelter, volunteering in your community, going on a mission trip, or befriending someone who is different from you.  However, stepping out of your comfort zone can also be an emotional step of faith – letting go of anger or bitterness and allowing joy to dwell, offering forgiveness in what seems to be an unforgiveable situation, allowing peace to reign in a season of chaos, or being kind to those who are cruel.  Both types of steps require spiritual courage, and both can be difficult.  After all, it’s scary when we step into the unfamiliar territory of what I can only call the “God zone.”  God’s zone challenges us.  It makes us rely solely on His power, and that can be frightening.  Remember when Moses was called by God to save the enslaved Israelites, he exclaimed, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:13). Even the Apostle Paul was scared to step out of his comfort zone as seen in his letter to the Corinthians, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3).  When God calls us into His zone, we subject ourselves to rejection, disappointment and hurt, so our flesh pulls us in the other direction.  But God wants us to put our insecurities into His mighty hands.  He wants us to celebrate our weaknesses instead of running from them so that His power may be made perfect.  Both Moses and Paul saw this incredible  power first hand.  In fact, as a result, Paul gave us some words of wisdom when we doubt our ability to step out of our comfort zone, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

If we want to experience the magnificent power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is essential for us to step into God’s zone and out of our accustomed one of comfort.   God will be there waiting for us.  Remember, when we make that courageous move, He WILL have our back.  May we hold each other accountable in making those steps of faith.  For as a result of our steps, lives will be changed – and that life may be our own.

Until next week, desperately trying to take a giant step into His zone… Katie

Running Through Stings

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Romans 5:3-4 “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.”  
My husband, Allen, and I are training for our second ½ marathon (we ran our first one a little over 13 years ago, so we felt it was time to torture ourselves again).  Anyway, for the past ten weeks we have been diligently hitting the treadmills or the streets, trying to prepare our bodies for the day of the race. We have scheduled our long runs to be on Sunday afternoon, and I have to say, I rarely look forward to them, as they have cut into my routine of church, lunch, and nap – not run!  Nevertheless, a couple of Sundays ago,  our training schedule had us making our first 11-mile run.  I wasn’t looking forward to it!
As always, the first few miles weren’t bad at all, but once we hit mile 8, we certainly had to push ourselves to finish.  Then, while we were closing in on mile 10, our run was unexpectantly  interrupted.  Allen had stopped, hunched over, and was grabbing his eye.  I kept my feet moving (I feared if I stopped, I might not start again).  I looked back at him and asked what was wrong.  No answer.  He was still stooped over, and I could see him rubbing his eye intensely.  Now, a little worried, I jogged back to him; and once there, I knew my feet had to stop along with his.  After Allen struggled with his eye, he finally regained his composure and was able to tell me what was wrong.  Something had flown into his eye and stung it! I thought he had to be mistaken, bugs don’t fly into your eye and sting it, but he was right.  Some sort of bug had flown in, out of nowhere, and landed on his eyeball and stung it – it was bloodshot and already beginning to swell.
I asked Allen if he wanted to stop or walk the rest of the way back (after all, he couldn’t see out of his eye), but he was determined to finish the run.  We started back, slowly but steadily picking up our speed, and before long, we were finished.  The pain in Allen’s eye was still there, and you could see the effects of the sting; but his vision had cleared up.  We laughed at how odd that was – a bug flying around, that happened to land on and sting his eyeball.  It was definitely an interruption we hadn’t foreseen and certainly one we couldn’t have planned on!   I thought isn’t that what our life here on earth is all about?  Those crazy, painful interruptions we don’t see coming.  They hit us head on, skew our vision, and stop us in our run with Christ.
Over the past year, I’ve seen many of those stings in my circle of family and friends, as I’m sure you have – the sudden death of a loved one, the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, the illness of a child, an addiction gone awry, the aftermath of a natural disaster, the loss of a job – the list goes on and on.  And while Jesus is clear to His followers that we will face suffering on this earth, His foresight doesn’t make the hurt and the heartache go away. In fact, sometimes the wounds those stings leave on our lives are devastating, and we are left with a choice to pick back up and continue running with Christ or to stop the race all together. I’ve seen both choices made, and only one breeds hope and eternal life.
As Christians, we are told to rejoice in our sufferings (1 Peter 4:13) and to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2).  However, how do we do that?!  The answer – we can’t!  We weren’t made to.  But our Savior was.  It is only through the power of Jesus Christ we can allow our “suffering to produce perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4); and, therefore, “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).  We must endure this life in order to reap the extraordinary benefits of the life to come.  But that endurance must be sought.  In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to “pursue endurance” (1 Tim. 6:11) – “endurance that is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 1:3).  Strong’s concordance tells us this word endurance Paul speaks of means “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and suffering.”  Read that definition again.  Have you seen this type of spiritual endurance in action?  Over the past few years, I have.  I’ve seen it in men and women of faith who have prepared themselves for the stings of life through their complete devotion to our Lord and their unwavering faith in the hope He promises.  How grateful I am to those who, through their pain and anguish, have given me a glimpse of our Father’s love through their loyalty to Christ!
Yes, we will suffer, but we suffer with hope.  We continue running through the stings, and we endure the after effects – being certain that one day “He will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things (will have) passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  What a beautiful picture we are painted of our eternal destination!  In the meantime, through our tears and our heartache and our pain, we keep our eyes focused on the prize that awaits – assured we aren’t running this race alone.  For we have a great cloud of witnesses running alongside of  us, and the mighty power of our Savior within us.  Thank you Lord.  Thank you.
Until next week, running the race (stings and all)…Katie
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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   

Hello?

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