Category - Faith

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Sinking
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Day Seven of Christmas
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My Royal Supply Bag
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One Year Later
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It is Well with My Soul!

Sinking

I’m sinking!   I opened my mouth to scream for help and there was no one in sight. My body was almost waist deep in sand.   Waves were crashing all around me.

What began as a casual walk along the beach in the early morning hours was turning into a nightmare.   As the tide had gone out, pools of water had formed between the dry hard sand and the ocean.  What appeared to be hard wet sand was an illusion.

Holding my cellphone in one hand over my head, I threw the upper half of my body into the shallow pool of water and wiggled my way out and then begin to crawl onto the dry packed sand.

When I finally stood up, I began to laugh and cry tears of thanksgiving. 

Even though I was wet and covered in sand, I was determined to finish my walk.  As I did, the Lord brought Matthew 7:26 to my mind:  “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

Defensively I replied in my heart, “Lord, I am building my life on you.”  His response, “Go examine your life against my Word.”  The Lord never wants us to live our life in comparison to anyone else’s.   His standard for our lives is to be His word, not our neighbor, our friend, our family, or even our pastor.   Jesus’ life and His words are to be our plumb line, the tool in which we keep our lives aligned to God’s standards and not the world’s standards.  (Isaiah 28:16-17 and Amos 7:7-8)  When we measure ourselves against others, it’s an illusion, not a true standard.

Upon returning to the beach house where I was staying.  I sat down and opened His word.

Jesus uses the parable of building your house on either the rock or sand as the closing illustration of one of His most powerful sermons, Matthew 5-7.  Many refer to this sermon as “The Sermon on the Mount” because Jesus chose to preach sitting down on a mountainside as crowds of people were listening.

As I read through these chapters, the Holy Spirit began to speak clearly to my heart and convict me of areas in my life.   One of those areas is worry/anxiety.  “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34  The Greek word “worry” means to be “torn in two.”  When I worry, I am choosing to reject Christ as trustworthy and my mind is dependent on others or myself to solve problems.   My heart becomes divided.

Jesus doesn’t say not to worry when there is no more pandemic and a vaccine is found, or when the right political leaders are elected, or there is plenty of money in my bank account, or when all of my kids and grandkids have no problems.   Jesus says, stop worrying!   He says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Care more about advancing His kingdom than my own kingdom.

Lord, forgive me!   Take my hand and pull me out of the sand and set my feet on you, the Rock. 

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”  Psalm 40:2-3

Do you feel as if you are sinking today? Is something or someone slowly pulling you under?  Does it seem as though our nation is slowing sinking?

Take a moment today to open God’s word to Matthew 5-7.  Ask the Lord to align your life to His word.  If there is any area of your life that is not set on His words, acknowledge it as sin, ask Him for forgiveness, and then choose to set your feet on the only one who will not sink!

Day Seven of Christmas

The Gift of Kindness

I finally made it out of the house to do a little Christmas shopping.  Let me just say, it is crazy out there right now: traffic in town is hideous, checkout lines are long, inventory has been picked over, and clerks are frazzled. And worst of all, I saw many shoppers just being rude. 

One of the shops I often frequent is a children’s clothing outlet where I find great bargains when shopping for my grandchildren.    It has been weeks since I have been able to shop, so I went with great anticipation, ready to find some adorable outfits for my grandchildren.

After carefully choosing two outfits for each grandchild, I laid them on the counter for the clerk to ring it up.  She politely asked me if I had any coupons and I sighed when I realized I had left them at home.  After overhearing this exchange, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and offered:   “I have a coupon.  Would you like to use it?”   I was floored.  This lady was a total stranger and she was offering me her 25% off coupon.  What an unexpected kindness in my frantic day!

I began to contemplate “kindness”.   Ephesians 2:7 says God’s kindness was expressed to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The very gift that lay in the manger on Christmas was an expression of God’s kindness towards us.  According to Galatians 5:22 it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, meaning when I am walking in the power of the Spirit, kindness will flow from me.

After arriving home from shopping, I began to talk to the Lord about “kindness” in my own life.  Do I display this fruit of the Spirit?   BE KIND has become a slogan of sorts in today’s culture.  But for those who call themselves followers of Jesus, kindness should be on display in our lives every day.  

These thoughts led me to The Word and I began to research the meaning of kindness.  I was more than surprised to see a synonym for kindness is benignity. That got my attention because I am currently recovering from a surgery which removed a baseball sized tumor attached to my ovary.  In the operating room, the surgeon said the tumor appeared to be malignant, meaning dangerous, invasive, and cancerous. Yet, when the pathologist studied it under the microscope, the diagnosis was a borderline tumor, some call it low malignancy.   The tumor was neither clearly malignant nor clearly benign.  The only required treatment was to simply remove the tumor.

God says, “I am the Lord, who exercises kindness…”  (Jeremiah 9:24)

There is no borderline with God.  His character is kindness.  His gift to us this Christmas is not just His kindness toward us, but our own ability to walk in kindness toward others. 

I may have had a “borderline tumor” but I do not want to be known as a borderline follower of Christ.

Romans 2:4 also reminded me that it is God’s kindness that draws me to repentance.  It’s not his condemnation, not his cruelty, nor His pointing of the finger.

The Lord in His kindness clearly said to me, “Donna, I want to cut out anything in your life that does not allow you to live out kindness toward others.  There is no borderline.  You are either kind toward others or you are not.”

Do you see evidence of any “borderline” in your own life?  This season I hope that you will pray along with me:  Lord, fill me with your Spirit as I choose to live out your kindness every day.  May the kindness that flows through me draw others to You!

My Royal Supply Bag

Approaching Veteran’s Day, a question popped up from the past on my Facebook: “Would you be willing to fight and/or die to protect those you love?”   Most, including myself, would quickly say “Yes”!

But there is the more difficult question:  “Would you be willing to change for those you love?”

Would you choose to forgive instead of growing bitter?

Would you choose peace over strife?

Would you choose joy instead of sadness?

Would you choose hope over despair?

Would you choose to bless instead of curse or gossip?

Would you choose to be kind instead of being rude?

Would you choose to demonstrate love rather than hate?

I want to say “yes” to change.  But trying harder doesn’t make change possible…. There may be behavior modification for a while, but true change comes only from within – it comes from the heart.

Peace, love, joy, kindness, patience, and forgiveness are only possible when they are flowing out of a relationship with God.  I have access to them through my relationship with the King!

Addy, my five year old granddaughter, was playing in her room with a backpack filled with “stuff”.  Her daddy asked her what the bag was for and her reply was “It’s my royal supply bag.”  Inside the bag was her crown, a beautiful gown, some slippers, a wand, and a sword and various other “princess” necessities.   Her daddy asked her, “Why do you need all this stuff?”   Her reply, “Dad, I’m going to be a Queen one day!”   Addy definitely sets her expectations high!

As followers of THE ONE TRUE KING, our expectations should be HIGH!   Christ gave His life for our ability to have heart change.

We have a royal supply bag with us at all times. John 14:17 tells us that His Spirit dwells within us – His Spirit IS our never-ending supply of His truth, forgiveness, peace, joy, kindness,  and hope.  When we access those royal supplies, His love will be on display in our lives!

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”    The word “renewing” means a total renovation.   If my mind is going to be renewed resulting in true heart and behavior change,  I MUST renovate my mind with His word!

If I want peace in my home instead of constant strife, I need to meditate on His words of peace and allow His peace to flow out from me.

If I want to experience true forgiveness for others rather than bitterness, I need to remember the  forgiveness He has extended toward me and His forgiveness will be produced in my life.

We all have a royal supply bag that was given to us when we entered into a relationship with Christ.   This royal supply bag was costly………….it cost the Almighty King of the universe, his one and only Son.

  • Put on the garments of praise instead a spirit of despair: Isaiah 61:3
  • Put on His robe of righteousness instead of spirit of shame: Isaiah 61:10
  • Fight your battles with the sword of the Spirit instead of words of hate: II Corinthians 10:3-5
  • Embrace the King as your Abba daddy instead of living with an orphan spirit: Romans 8:16-17
  • Walk in His peace instead of anger: James 1:20
  • Walk in God confidence instead of fear: Romans 8:15 and II Timothy 1:7

We have those “supplies” at our disposal – but we must access them by saying “Yes” to renewing our mind with His Word and allowing Him to change our hearts!

One Year Later

It was a year ago that Preacher and I stood on the stage of a mega church in front of thousands of people and said our good-byes as their Senior Pastor and his wife.   It was a bittersweet day for me. Bitter because I truly loved being a senior pastor’s wife, and sweet because we were saying “Yes” to the Lord by choosing obedience to a new calling on our lives……..serving Him through Life Action Ministry.  

This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions for me as God has both revealed things to me about myself and reminded me of truths through the lives of those serving Life Action.  

  • Confession:   Being the senior pastor’s wife caused me to become an addict – I have confessed these addictions before the Lord and He has graciously forgiven me.  My addictions: Attention and Power.  If my addictions have ever offended you,  please forgive me. Years under the spotlight caused me to lose sight of the sixteen year old girl who humbly walked down an aisle,  took a pastor’s hand and committed her life to serve the Lord. No human being should ever be placed on the throne that only has room for One – Christ.
  • Truth: Servanthood    People working at Life Action are among God’s choice servants.   Their lives are characterized by what Life Action calls our six responses to God:   Humility, Honesty, Repentance, Forgiveness, Obedience, and Seeking God’s Kingdom First.  Over and over I have witnessed these six responses demonstrated in their lives. Women who choose to raise a family in a RV nine months out of year as they serve churches across the USA.   Communicators and musicians so gifted that they could serve the Lord from any stage, yet choose to serve churches of various sizes so that they may experience a reviving work of God’s presence.  
  • Confession:   When we walked away from the mega church, we also walked away from a very large salary.  Although our church agreed to support us for a season, we were walking toward a “no salary” position.  In other words, we had to raise our own support. We became full-time missionaries. The Lord used this as a reminder of the commitment I had made to him when I was sixteen – a commitment to serve Him as a missionary.  He had been preparing me for this for forty years. I was in a completely new situation – sitting with someone and sharing with them about our new adventure and asking them to support us financially. This proved to be quite a challenge for me, but through it God taught me humility and reminded me that He was always my True Provision.   
  • Truth:  Faith     People at Life Action are people of faith.   This past year I have witnessed families who live on very limited budgets, yet do not hesitate to sacrificially to give to others in need.  There are families who adopt children that the world would cast aside. Grumbling and complaining are rare while praying is a way of life.

Our mission at Life Action is “to inspire your next Yes to God.”   When we say “yes” to something, it usually requires us saying “no” to something else.   This past year I have said “Yes” by following Him in obedience and it did require me saying “no” to pride, control, selfishness and bitterness.    God has begun a new work in my heart and I am so grateful to Him and to Life Action Ministry.

My prayer for you today is that you will choose to “Say YES to God.”   Is He asking you to forgive someone? Is He asking you to be honest with yourself and admit you are addicted to something…power, attention, food, gossip, a negative attitude, or maybe social media?   

This past weekend I hiked up to Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountains.  As I observed the rushing water flow over the rocks into the pool below, the Lord whispered into my heart “Refreshment comes when you confess your sin and turn to me.”    Sin is choosing our way over God’s way. Are you choosing to do life your way and not God’s way?

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

If Life Action or I can serve you or your church in any way, it would bring us great joy.  Preacher’s motto during this last year has been: “I am just His servant.” I just love that man!  So excited to serve alongside him at Life Action as a servant to the Most High God!

www.lifeaction.org

 

 

It is Well with My Soul!

It’s been awhile since I have sat on the back porch up on Rocky Top to write. Truthfully, I have been terrified of what would come out as I hit the keys on my laptop.

If you have been with me since the beginning of this blog, you know I am REAL. What does that mean?  I don’t play games or try and pretend all is well when it is not well.

Protests took place in Rocky Top city this weekend. My son and his wife are in Houston as Hurricane Harvey dumps rain on the already saturated earth. Parents are hurting because their young son has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

I returned from a land just a few weeks ago where floods, hurricanes, or protests would have been welcome disasters. I sat in a room as two precious sisters in the Lord shared how their husbands had been tragically killed for their faith.  Yet, these women sang praises to Jesus and lifted up His name.

Perspective is always an antidote for self-pity.

As many of you know, Preacher resigned as senior pastor at First Baptist Concord last week. It was an agonizing decision.   His words on Sunday, August 20 will ring in my head for a long time, “I love this church.  Yet, I love Jesus more.  We must be obedient to His call on our lives.”

On Monday, September 11 we will begin to serve Life Action Ministries as missionaries to America and the world.   Life Action is a  ministry filled with many wonderful people who daily sacrifice so much to see our nation turn their hearts toward God.

At sixteen years of age I walked down the aisle of a church and told the pastor God was calling me to missions. In God’s graciousness, He knew it would take forty years, give or take a few, to prepare my heart to totally accept this call.  What can I say except that I am a slow learner.

The mission statement of Life Action ministries is to ignite Christ-centered movements of authentic Christianity that displays the gospel and fulfills the Great Commission.

Our nation is sick. The answer is Jesus.  Churches in our nation are in desperate need of revival.  Revival is not a week-long set of meetings with guest preachers.   Revival occurs when a dead heart comes back to life and determines to follow Christ at all costs.  Revival happens when a church body decides to care more about the lost than their own personal preferences.  Preacher and I must be obedient to His call of revival on our lives.

Real life on Rocky Top will continue. Preacher and I will still call this home as long as the Lord allows.

What I want you to know is “It is Well With My Soul.”

Many tears have been shed as Preacher and I sought God’s direction for our lives.  Change is not easy, especially as we age.  When comfort is longed for, God challenges us with change.  A true disciple of Christ never becomes “comfortable.”

Paul in the New Testament is the ultimate example of one who followed Christ.  Over and over we see Paul making ministry decisions not based on what was best for himself or what was comfortable for him.  In Philippians 1:12 Paul clearly emphasized that everything in his life, the good and the bad, was about the advancement of the gospel.

When change comes, the question is not “What does this mean for me?” but “What does this mean for His kingdom?”

Preacher and I are just God’s servants. Our desire is to simply advance His kingdom.

So dear readers, from my heart to yours “It is Well With My Soul.”

Allow any change, difficulty, or hardship to bring Glory to the King and advance His Kingdom!

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