Tag Archives: God

Wake-Up Call

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“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

As summer draws to a close and a new school year begins, I find myself reevaluating my walk with Christ.  While I have enjoyed a break from the hustle and bustle of my children’s normal activities over the past couple of months, I have also found myself out of my normal routine with God.  Ashamedly, June and July brought little quiet time with my Father, and I have to say I have been missing Him terribly!  So, a few weeks ago, I revved myself up to refocus my attention back on Christ and checked out some books from my church’s library.  One book that has brought me to my knees and created a revival of sorts in my soul is “The Slumber of Christianity” – the title, in and of itself, caught my attention right off the shelf and the content didn’t disappoint.

In the book, Ted Dekker takes a close look at why Christians, in general, are settling for lives of mere contentment rather than living with genuine joyfulness, which our Creator intended for us to experience (1 Thess. 5:16).  Why are we, as Believers in our great Lord, living as if this earthly life is all there is?  If you are like me, it’s easy to rely heavily on the pleasures of this life to bring you happiness – unfortunately, that happiness is fleeting when you are faced with the reality of living in a fallen world.  The fact is, we weren’t created for this earth – we were created for Heaven (Ecc. 3:11).  How can we awaken from our slumber and create a passion for Heaven while we are living here on earth? 

My wake-up call has been to recognize with an open heart, mind, body and soul that the life I have created for myself here on earth IS NOT all there is – I have a much more superior life waiting for me in which I will spend eternity, and, if you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, so do you!  Think about it – if you viewed everything from this one truth, how would your life change – how would your day change?  The Apostle Paul tells us, not once, but twice to keep our hearts and minds set on our final destination.  He writes “since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2).  The fact is our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and we must become obsessed with our nationality! 

Dekker so eloquently writes, “We humans are naturally obsessive creatures.  We tend to fixate on objectives and dreams, and we are quite good at achieving whatever our minds conceive.  Why is this?  Because we were created in the image of a God who has a similar nature.  His ways are beyond our understanding because they aren’t bound by human reasoning and His obsession is not an entirely rational thing. We were designed to obsess after our Creator.  But our hearts have been corrupted, and the agent of evil, Satan himself, has successfully redirected our obsession away from God and His great reward for all those who love Him, by filling our minds solely with the things of this earth.  Christians have fallen asleep to the promise of the afterlife and no longer dream of that great day.  Their obsession for eternity is in slumber.  And being creatures created to obsess, many have redirected their obsessions to the pleasures of this world alone.”

I hope those words hit you like they did me!  Where is your obsession?  Is it your children, your spouse, your vacations, your food, your drink, your things, or is it your God?  I’m constantly trying to fixate my mind on the ultimate destination of my heavenly home and the eternal life which awaits.   I have to say, when I succeed with my thoughts, I am given peace, patience, and genuine joy.  I’ll close today with Dekker’s final words, “There is a truth that this life will quickly pass and the staggering reality of the life to come will be upon us.  There is also a truth that you were created for that life more than for this life.  Thinking on these matters alone will begin to change everything you do.”

Until next time, setting my eternal alarm clock to obsess after our Creator… Katie

Face to Face

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 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” 1 Corinthians 13:12a

Summer is finally in full swing, and it’s been a while since I have posted.  God has certainly been pricking my heart to write, but, to be honest, I didn’t know where to start or how to express what I have been feeling.  You see, over the past month, I have been emotionally overwhelmed with the reality of intense sadness and extreme loss as I witnessed two precious young women fight a long hard battle against the devastating disease of cancer and lose – Elliot Patterson Williams and Laura Gautney Black.

While, I didn’t have the privilege of personally knowing both women in their last months on this earth, I feel as if I have journeyed with them as I followed their Caring Bridge websites and read each post along the way.  Both women were wives, mothers, daughters and friends to many. Both women were passionately in love with Christ.  And both women had an unwavering faith throughout their battle with cancer – desperate to glorify God and draw others closer to Him.  Their faith, along with the faith of their families, has truly been life changing for me, and I am eternally grateful for the lessons I have learned over the past few months.  I have watched these women exemplify what it means to love our Lord unconditionally, to surrender everything to Him, to depend on Him alone, to trust His ways are higher than ours, and, most importantly, to appreciate every day we are given on this earth.  As the Psalmist wrote, “this is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24).  Yes, life is a gift to be celebrated, and we each have a purpose to fulfill.  Today, God is calling out to you to act on His behalf – are you listening?  Thanks to Elliot and Laura, I feel my ears are more in tune to hearing His words.

Over the past few days, God has helped me realize that every day, we change.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, we change.  Each day we either grow upward towards our Heavenly Father or we decline downward, but we do not stay the same.  There is no steady state.  We either get better, or we get worse.  And just as Elliot and Laura fought against their flesh in their battles with cancer, we, too, are fighting against our flesh.  In fact, many of us are under attack, and we don’t even recognize it!  We complain about the unfairness of this life.  We struggle with hurt feelings and revenge.  We are consumed with jealousy and covetousness.  We hold onto unforgiveness and impatience.  We submit to self-righteousness and hypocrisy – all the while God shakes His head, desperate for us to “get it.”  So, through His amazing mercy and grace, He allows us to experience an Elliot or a Laura, and we are so lovingly slapped in the face with what is really important – Our walk with Christ and subsequent trust in Him and dependence on Him.  Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”  Are we the thief prohibiting the understanding of the abundant life Jesus called every Believer to experience?  I tend to think yes.  We must be on our guard and stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13) as Elliot and Laura did if we want to experience victory in this earthly life!

Today, I rest, and hope others do as well, in knowing Elliot and Laura are basking in the unbelievable greatness of our God’s glory.  They see the completed picture.   They are no longer struggling with their flesh, as their steadfast faith has brought them home.  St. Augustine wrote, “Faith is believing what you do not see, the reward of faith is to see what you believe.”  Laura and Elliot have received their reward in full as they are face to face with our Creator and Savior.   The image gives me peace, and hope, and joy – I pray it gives their family and friends the same.  In the meantime, we continue to try and put the puzzle pieces of life together and fight off our fleshly desires, recognizing for “now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we (too) shall see face to face.  Now (we) know in part; then (we) shall know fully, even as (we are) fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  Face to face with the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  It’s overwhelming to imagine, but for those who believe and rely on Christ, it is a glimpse into our future – a future without the war against flesh – a future experiencing victory through faith.  Amen glorious Father.  Amen.

Until next time, kneeling before the magnificent throne of our Lord – thankful for two women who have opened my eyes to the precious gift of life and forever shaped my walk, and countless others, with the great I Am…Katie

Making Friends With Your Problems

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1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

It has been a while since I have been able to post.  Truthfully, I haven’t been motivated to; instead, I have allowed myself to be consumed with my daily problems.  You see,  almost two weeks ago, my father had to undergo emergency open heart surgery – a quadruple bypass, to be exact.  Praise, honor and glory to God, all went extremely well; then, the tough work began – my father realizing the repercussions of his previous lifestyle choices and recognizing recovery would require more than just healing – it would require change. 

Medications, diet (dad was diagnosed as a diabetic after surgery), and exercise have become the topics among my family concerning my father.  It’s been frustrating.  It’s been exhausting.  It’s been depressing.  Now, you would think, as someone who loves the Word of the Lord, I would have been camped out there for the past couple of weeks searching for His guidance in this situation.  But, sadly, no.  Instead, I’ve tried to solve things myself – so much so, I have physically worn myself out.  Today, God said, “enough was enough.”  

This afternoon, I finally took the time to sit down and read His Word – to really “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).  As a result, the faithfulness of His magnificent Presence began to show.  I started reading in the book of Psalms, meditating on the word’s David wrote thousands of years ago – “we wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You” (Psalm 33:20-22)  I kept telling God, yes, I know You are my strength.  Yes, I trust in You.  But God, I’m overwhelmed, and quite honestly,  I feel angry over these problems I am having to face.  That was when the gentleness of the Holy Spirit prompted me to pick up one of my favorite daily devotional books, Jesus Calling.   At first, I was headed to today’s date, but something stopped me as I was flipping through the pages.  The words written were “make friends with the problems in your life.”  I read that sentence over and over.  I kept reading as the author wrote “every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I (God) created you to be.”   Make friends with my problems – but God, what does that look like?  He answered. 

Embrace your problems as you would your friends.  Know that I have allowed these problems to come into your life for a reason.  Don’t allow the problems to frustrate you.  Allow them to focus your eyes on me.  Also, don’t let the problems exhaust you.  Your friends don’t exhaust you, they rejuvenate you.  If you trust me, allow me to guide you through this.  I will get you to the other side, and you will experience My presence and the amazing exhilaration of walking alongside Me.  Remember, though, you must turn to Me alone.  Trust that I will lead you to where I want you to go.  Finally, I know the problems you face can be depressing – acknowledge the sadness that accompanies living in a fallen world, but don’t let it overcome you.  For I have overcome the world, and one day you will experience the joy that comes from resting in that hope. 

Peter, the rock in which Christ built His church (Matthew 16:18), knew first-hand the power that comes as a result of making friends with your problems.  He wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  I don’t know what problems you are facing today – we all have them, and they certainly come in all kinds of trials – but, rest in knowing our Father desperately wants to hold your hand through them.  I have learned, sometimes, prayers aren’t enough when your problems seem insurmountable.  Sometimes, you must plant yourself at His feet and be transparent with what you are feeling – anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness – He can handle it.  Find peace, as I have today, in knowing once you allow Him to take over, the load will feel lighter, the end of the tunnel will be closer, and true transformation will take place.

Until next time, readjusting my eyes on Him… Katie

Trust Issues

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Proverbs 3:5-6 to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

This past week, I had the opportunity to see the viral video, Kony2012.com.  You may have heard about this on the news or even seen the video yourself, but, if not, let me briefly explain its content.  Kony 2012 is a campaign by a San Diego-based charity called Invisible Children, and it was developed to bring global awareness of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.  Kony, a self-proclaimed Christian, is the head of a guerrilla group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which began in 1987.  The LRA began in Uganda, but has since moved to the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.   Kony claims that success for the LRA would mean a theocracy for these areas with laws based on the Ten Commandments.  But, there is a problem in his view of a sovereign government ruled by our great God.  Kony has used and continues to use extreme violence and immoral activity to fight this war he has raged.  In fact, over the years, Kony and the LRA have kidnapped more than 60,000 children to use as fighters or sex slaves.  It is also reported the LRA forces each child to kill their own parents so they won’t have homes to return to.  Needless to say, the video is heart-wrenching, and it has forced me to think and pray a great deal this week about the immense amount of evil in our world today. 

For me, it is incredibly easy to turn a blind eye to areas where evil abounds.  I like to remain content and happy in my neighborhood “bubble” which keeps me safe and sound.  When my eyes are opened to the horrific acts which are occurring even as I write, my emotions are overcome with a profound feeling of helplessness, and quite honestly, it shakes my faith.  I begin to question God.  But, as I’ve learned, questions can be good – especially when you take them directly to His Throne and allow Him to guide you in His Word for answers.  One word God kept bringing to the forefront of my mind was “trust.”  Do you trust Me Katie?  Despite the evil in the world and the innocent lives being affected as a result, do you trust Me?  I wanted to answer wholeheartedly, “yes!”  But, I really wasn’t sure if I did, and I realized I needed to reevaluate my heart on this issue.

As Christians, trust in our Holy God is crucial in our relationship with Him.  Isaiah 26:4 tells us to “trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”  Nahum 1:7 says “the Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.”  And, we are also told in the familiar verses of Proverbs 3:5-6 to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Trust God.  Acknowledge God.  Seems simple enough – however, “trust” in its very nature, requires unanswered questions.  Therefore, in reality, our trust in our wonderful Heavenly Father is actually based on our acknowledgement of Him.  The word “acknowledge” in Proverbs 3:6 means “to know, to perceive and see, to find out and discern,” but it also means “to be made known or to be revealed.”  It’s not enough for us to read God’s Word and know His scriptures.  Our acknowledgement of God has to also be based on our observations of Him and His ways.  The more we observe Him, the more He will make Himself known.  In turn, our faith and trust will grow – allowing us to be content with our unanswered questions. 

So, yes, we will continue to experience evil in this fallen world – extreme, horrific evil – but, we serve a God who is good and trustworthy (2 Samuel 7:28).  Do I still have unanswered questions?  Absolutely!  But, I recognize my questions are based on what is seen and temporal.  I must continually adjust my eyes to the unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18).  In the meantime, I rest in the words of our Creator in Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Amen, my powerful and mighty Father.  Amen.

Until next week, relying on His ways… Katie

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

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