It’s Not an Even Trade

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Whether you’re a believer in Jesus for 50 years or 50 minutes, you know this, you’re life HAS to change. The Lord Himself requires nothing less. As a matter of fact, He requires ALL. He gave His all for me and for you. It cost Him everything. You must trade in your old life.

The ladies at Buried Treasures Home where I serve have a term called “couch surfing”. This is what addicts do when they are homeless and going to wherever the drugs are. It’s a hard reality to hear.

As horrible as this is, they tell me an addict has to be ready to change, otherwise they will get pulled back in to this destructive life. They tell me it is vital to remove old places, people and things which supported their lifestyle. That’s not an easy decision. It costs them their old life which at the time seems a risk.

Not all people have such a dramatic choice to make, but it is the same choice, none the less. The decision to follow Christ is a daily one and it also requires choices, some which seem tiny and inconsequential. These may be some of the most important.

Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

You learn to love the Giver and not just His gifts.

You learn to embrace the narrow road, not just in outward behavior, but in your heart.

At a recent fellowship dinner someone said, “Keep your foot on the narrow road and keep reading your Bible. The wide road may look attractive and have pretty flowers, but if you get too close, the bugs will come out!”

This describes the cost, the narrow road, keeping your eyes on Jesus, the daily walk.

But it’s not an even trade.

No, the Lord Jesus already paid it all. Any sacrifice you make to follow Him is worth it and doesn’t compare to His sacrifice. Not even close.

You get way more from this trade. You get His gifts. Things like:

  • peace
  • protection
  • joy
  • a plan for your life
  • direction in decisions
  • His intervention in your circumstances
  • forgiveness
  • a body of believers become family
  • provision
  • His Word to read and depend on
  • His faithfulness to you

and so much more.

So where is your commitment today? Half-hearted is no heart. The Lord demands all because HE gave it all for you. Again, any sacrifice on your part, although He often honors it, is still nothing compared to Who He Is and what He’s done.

It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about your heart.

You get far more walking closely with Jesus than walking casually by Him.

There simply is no comparison. It’s not an even trade.

 

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“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Finally Forgiven and Free

photo-1561828530-aaafc492f78aIt was a summer evening in a satellite prison when we connected with Cassidy. Middle aged, postured to disappear into the doorway where she leaned; her brown hair draped loosely around her neck and shoulders and a slight smile on her worn face, she stood patiently.

My husband, Clark, and I were there to interview women as potential residents into a transitional home where we serve.

We greeted Cassidy and gathered in a small, sparsely furnished room of 4 plastic chairs and a table to get to know her.

As the interview began, Clark asked her to tell us her spiritual background. Some recent experiences in a large prison and even a baptism there were reported in a soft voice. She went on to speak of attending church services in the prison she was now in. Yet, instead of bringing clarity, more questions came to mind. I think our problem was how impersonal the experiences appeared to be to her. We inquired of her upbringing, searching for more answers.  Church or Christian background was minimal. After listening and finding no path to Jesus, I launched a question to her. “Ok, Cassidy, so who is Jesus to you?” As her head drooped, tears cascaded down her face. In a raspy voice she said, “well ma’am. I’m not really sure.”

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This let us know one thing for sure. She had been chasing God trying to find Him through religious meetings, but she had not found Him for herself.

We explained this spiritual dilemma which struck a chord with her. I assured her, given the fact she was searching for God, she would certainly find Him. Clark began to go through the scriptures using a tract and her tears increased as she gained understanding of who she was in relationship to who God is. As moments passed, her spirit continued to soften. It was apparent she was hearing what her soul needed. The presence of the Holy Spirit accompanied our talk and soon Cassidy’s humbled voice prayed a prayer of salvation. Understanding of who she was talking to and what only He could do for her engulfed her.

When she was finished, she wrote her spiritual birthday on the tract as proof of her eternally significant prayer. We gave her some “assignments” so she could interact with God’s Word and also some assurances and promises for the days ahead. We walked away in summer twilight knowing the search for God was over for Cassidy. A peace and gratitude looked good on her. In stripes or not, she had finally found the One who would give her identity beyond her past. She was…finally forgiven and free.

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Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

 

 

Faithful God

b643d909-06d5-44c9-95e7-01bc16b096d5No matter what, if you are a follower of Jesus, you can count on Him to come through. It may not be the way you would choose, but you can trust whatever the way, He is busy working it out for your good and His glory.

One of my go to passages from the Bible is out of Lamentations 3:22-24 which says,

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

It does require waiting, but His word promises HE is enough.

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Recently, I discovered the connection between this Lamentations passage and the glorious hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. Thomas Chisolm wrote the words to this hymn in 1923. He was inspired by this Bible passage in Lamentations and later it was put to music. I’ve known this song longer than I can remember. Congregational singing in church brought it into my life and years of hymn singing put it to memory in my mind.

Enjoy it here.

Wherever you are in your life, as a believer in Jesus, you can know HE will be faithful to you and your circumstances. He is our faithful God.

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if we are faithless,
    He remains faithful,
    for He cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

 

The Beautiful and Faithful

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Photo permission given by WMU – The Walk of Faith being constructed at the WMU Headquarters, Birmingham, AL

In the Fall of 2000, my husband and I, along with a mission team arrived in Odessa, Ukraine. Our assignment: to prayer walk in a village in the Crimean peninsula. Although we’d been trained in the months preceding, the journey was new. Preparing to go was an extraordinary undertaking and prayer walking, a new concept in our lives. Our team leader trained us using a book entitled, “Prayer Walking : Praying On Site with Insight” by Graham Kendrick.

The day arrived for the 12 hour flight. Once landed, the Odessa airport experience was uncomfortable and primitive. The environment was punctuated with a quiet mystery looming as armed guards watched suspiciously from a distance. The freedoms we enjoy in America seemed suddenly gone and replaced by a grey, colorless, restrictive environment. No bustling people, announcements, television news casts, bathrooms,  food kiosks or shops. We were in a new land and the mission was before us.

The poverty, unpredictable electricity, potties in the ground, undrinkable water and dirt roads all normal to Ukrainians, were unusual and humorous at times to us. We saw God at work and were rewarded immediately and consistently for our obedience, yet still, the lay of the land was unfamiliar and kept us on our toes.Ukraine sept oct 2000

This is why Thomas and June Nolen were key to our navigation from the familiar to unfamiliar. Their easy demeanor and genuine joy gave us strength for this incredible task. Their humor was medicine to our weary souls. We will never forget their attentiveness, and reliability. Their smiles, even their appearance spoke of a couple ready to serve, able to care for those who’d come to be on mission. The week was inspiring and faith building, but it was the Nolen’s who God used to orchestrate it.

The Nolens are a retired couple from Mantee, MS. They served in Ukraine from January 1999 – Fall 2002 being Coordinators for the Mississippi/Ukraine partnership. Many Mississippians went to Ukraine those years. As far as our week in Ukraine, the Nolens presence felt like protection; their cheer and humor like familiarity; their appreciation like confidence.untitled.png

Last fall I saw the ad in the Mission Mosaic magazine for a Walk of Faith garden being constructed at the WMU headquarters in Birmingham, AL.  June Nolen came to mind and I decided to purchase a brick in her honor.

If you decide to do this, the WMU Foundation will send a letter to the person you are honoring with your gift or to the family of the person you are memorializing. The letter they receive lets them know you gave. This is a picture of the letter I received showing a replica of the brick going in this garden to be seen by generations.IMG_9661

It’s my joy to honor June Nolen. A kind, organized, thorough, sometimes funny, real, and beautiful missionary. She and Thomas have loved me and Clark through the years and enriched our lives with palpable memories and spiritual commitment.

If you would like  more information so you can honor or memorialize a person who’s impacted your life through missions, visit the website here.

See a video telling about the Walk of Faith garden here.

The Nolen’s walk of faith certainly impacted our walk of faith. And now you can impact those who’ve impacted you with a Walk of Faith brick too.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

When One Chooses

12037941_428656370678839_1604878299138529356_nGod has a way of plucking people from the worst circumstances and setting their feet on a rock to serve and praise Him. Ethel Waters is one of millions to have this redemptive experience.

Some of you may remember the Billy Graham Crusades which were televised years ago. I wrote a blog here sharing my thoughts about those crusades as I remembered Billy Graham.

Ethel Waters was often a guest singer. Many had no idea of her story. Born in Pennsylvania in 1896, she was a product of a disparaging childhood. She made her way past the bar rooms to Broadway and achieved worldly success as a singer and later in the movies.

An Emmy nomination would make her the first black women to have this honor. But greater things than this were in store for her. Worldly success would pale as she would find God and live the last 20 years of her life devoted to His service. The Billy Graham Crusades put her God given talent in front of millions and finally it would be used for eternal purposes until her death in 1977.

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A sparrow is not the most beautiful bird God created. Its size is usually about 5 inches and it’s coloring is brown, and other neutrals. Not impressive at all and yet, God created sparrows for a purpose. There are lessons to apply and I think Ethel Waters did.

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” is one of her most popular songs. It was written by Charles Gabriel and Civila Martin, but Ethel Waters brought it to life. You can watch her sing it here.

Thank God for her life. Once redeemed, it was well lived for God’s glory. If you search her on YouTube, you will see demonstration of her legacy. The views to her songs is evidence of God spreading His story through her story.

Ethel Waters, proof a horrible beginning doesn’t necessarily mean a bad ending. She used the time in her later years to serve the only One who can bring light from darkness, hope from despair, and glory to the only One who can save us from ourselves. God gives us the dignity to make the choice.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth in a List

Truth Sentences

 

Jesus is God. John 1:1

All the Bible is true. John 17:17

Jesus never sinned. Hebrews 4:15

The Bible is God’s Word. Psalm 119:11

All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

Jesus is God’s Son. John 3:16

Jesus never changes. Hebrews 13:8

The Word of God is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12

 

Truth Sentences Printable

 

 

 

Silent Saturday

westerly 469Our Lord is in the tomb. What were all His followers thinking? All those he’d healed, and taught. Those closest to Him and all the women who’d aided His earthy ministry.

What were they thinking?

What are you thinking?

This Saturday.

Pray the hard prayers today. Pray the incorrect prayers today. Pray the utterances from your soul today. Know every prayer is going straight to the Father. He will make all things right in His time.

Never lose hope. Followers of Jesus have eternal and living Hope.

Keep praying, keep building your faith muscles. Quit trying to impress God with your words. Pray the gut prayers. He longs for that honest relationship with you and I. We are His children. He wants us to climb in His lap and tell Him everything. If we only climb up, look at Him quizzically, squirm back down and run away, we will have missed Him. Climb up and lay your head on His shoulder, cry, and let Him hear your heart. This is silent Saturday. The answers are coming…

Tomorrow.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

 

 

 

 

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I look up to the mountains—  does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1&2