Monday, November 28, 2016

Feeling Full

I don't know about you, but ever since Thursday, I've been saying how full I am and how I'm never going to eat again!

Ha ha, but each day since, the leftover dressing and pumpkin torte has been staring at me until I cave in and eat just alittle bit more.

I have read the book of Philippians many times over the years, but just this week I noticed a word that kept jumping out at me, "full". Perhaps it was because I was feeling so miserable in my state of overeating that I just noticed such an important word.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether full or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12)

Paul is reminding the people of Philippi that no matter the state that they find themselves, they can learn to be content. So often, I have considered this verse in the times of my need. When I was lacking, I asked God to teach me to become content.

But what about when I am full - is there contentment when I have much? (Apparently not if I had one more piece of pie!)

It may seem like we can never take another nibble again because we feel so satisfied but then a new day comes and the hunger pains attack us stronger than before. When those spiritual hunger pains come, do what any starving Christian would do...pull up a chair and feast some more.

You might over indulge with those sweet potatoes but with God, you can never get enough. So, Bon appetit!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Finding A Calm in Your Storm

As many of you know, over 5 months ago I had hand reconstruction done on my dominate hand. So many of you have prayed and come along the journey with me and I thank you for that.

I wish I could say that it has been easy, but it hasn't. After 4 months of therapy every week, I have finally come to the end of that part of this journey. I'm walking away from handy therapy with only 50% of strength regained. My work is not done yet, I had really hoped to be further along the recovery road than this.

I don't know why things have to be so hard.

Recently, I was thinking about the disciples who found themselves in the midst of a storm while on the Sea of Galilee. The winds and waves rocked their boat all night long. I have no doubt that these men prayed fervently for the storm to cease or at least to make it safely to the other side where land was.

Everyone, in their time of need, probably asks the same question that the disciples probably asked, "Lord, why don't you calm this storm?"

I have always found it interesting that in this story Jesus did not bring the boat to safe land, but instead, He walked out to the boat in the middle of the storm.

In the past 5 months, I can't say that I have understood all that I've had to endure but I can assure you that I never doubted God's plan. Instead of looking for a way out of my storm, I've sought strength to withstand the storm.

In my quest for finding that dry land in my situation, I've come to realize it is better to stay in the boat to ride out the storm and wait for God to come to me.

"He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed." (Psalm 107:29)

Whatever storm you face today, trust God because He will not let you sink or drown. Instead of looking for a way to escape, look for His purpose in your pain and then watch for your rainbow...It is coming, just like He promised.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Finding God's Timing

It seems that much of our life is spent waiting. We will wait in line for the small things like a vanilla latte or we wait to fill our car up. The big things in life even keep us waiting; we wait for our prince to show up, or wait for a promotion at work or we can't wait to grow up to be an adult.

Everyone will wait for something or someone in their life. But how often do we wait upon the Lord?

When looking at my own life, I've considered just how much time I have spent in waiting. In some things, the wait has been too long. The time to change sometimes is not for later but for now.

Recently, I was facing a situation that seemed impossible. The "change" that needed to take place seemed long past due and it seemed time had run out.

But then my husband told me a story about a tunnel.

He said life sometimes is like a tunnel and the only way to get to the other side is to dig our way out. Along the way we get tired and weary and we may even want to give up. We can't see the "light at the end of the tunnel" because we think our time has run out.

But all the while, while we were digging on our end, we couldn't see that God was on the other end digging too.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles." (Isaiah 40:31) 

I've always heard the saying, "It's not over until the fat lady sings". Well, I'm not planning to sing today, so, it's not over until God stops digging.

Whatever change you need to make, just keep digging. It may seem like it's taking awhile but with God, everything is right on time!


Thursday, November 17, 2016


As I listened to the words being spoken, I could hardly wrap my mind (and heart) around what I was hearing. How could anyone not spot the truth that is right in front of them?

How easily we become deceived.

Sometimes, I think we trade truth for a lie. We believe the words that friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers put on us. Words have power, people can easily convince us of our identity by constantly reminding us of who they think we should be. Or words become twisted and what was meant to be kind and loving is now something ugly that was never meant to be.

You can speak truth but truth placed in the wrong hands can become a twisted lie. So what will you believe? Who will you believe?

At the root of sin; lies and deceit can be found. We must not lose sight of what is true. The truth can set us free, even Jesus said that...

"Then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

The freedom that Jesus speaks about is a spiritual freedom, a freedom that breaks the bonds of sin. A freedom that releases us from believing a lie from the enemy and accepting God's Truth.

I can't stop people from telling lies; as long as there is sin in the world, there will be deceit. But that doesn't mean that we can't discern what is true and what is not.

Jesus is THE Truth (see John 14:6). Knowing His Truth will set you free; free from condemnation, free from sin, free from lies.

Know what Truth looks like, then you will be able to spot a lie a mile away.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Choose Grace

The thing about grace is that everyone thinks grace is a great thing until they themselves are faced with a situation where grace is needed to be extended.

What is grace, you ask? Grace is simply that gift that is freely given but totally undeserving. Grace is receiving what you do not deserve and not getting what you do deserve.

When it comes to our relationships with others; grace is a choice. When faced with opposition or difficulty in our relationships, we have two options: offer grace or judge harshly.

Grace has nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with us and the condition of our heart.

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Choosing to extend grace never excuses bad behavior or sin, however, what it does do is look past the sin and see Jesus.

Isn't that what God did for you and me?

While everyone else saw a greedy taxpayer, Jesus saw someone who could bring order to a corrupt system. When everyone else saw a adulterous woman, Jesus saw someone who could evangelize a city. And while everyone else saw you and me full of our sin and shame, Jesus saw an anointed, cherished son or daughter of the King!

Grace chose us! Now, try choosing grace for others.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Going The Right Way

The other night we were driving home, traveling on highway 64, a stretch of road where many accidents occur. On this particular night, we found out why.

A big semi truck was headed right towards us, traveling at full speed in OUR lane!

I don't know why this truck was traveling in the wrong lane but in the nick of time, we got his attention and he swerved back to where he belonged. Thinking back on this and giving thanks for God's hand of protection, I was also reminded of what is written in Proverbs...

"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Have you ever felt like you were doing the right thing but in fact you were headed the wrong way? How can we know if we are in the right lane or not?

When Jesus left this earth and ascended to heaven, He didn't leave us alone to figure it out. He sent His Holy Spirit to be our Guide.  

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come" (John 16:13)

God has a way to get our attention. We must stay alert and keep in the right lane so we can continue going the right way; which is God's way!

Watch where you are going, my friend, the wrong way could be deadly.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Life is a test

Everyone has a test of one kind or another. I guess you could say that life is nothing but a test. This has been true ever since the great saints first experienced it and still remains true today.

Abraham and Sarah were told by God to leave their home and travel to a land that God hadn't even revealed to them. Surely, this was a test of their faith. I live in Arkansas and I don't know if God told me to uproot and follow Him to an unknown place, how easy it would be. Sure, moving to Florida or some other sunny place would be doable, but what if He led me to a foreign place like Thailand or Ethiopia? I can only imagine the stories to share of how God led me by faith to move the mountains (and oceans) out of the way to reach my destination.

The Bible is full of testimonies. Daniel had a testimony that involved the lions den, Kind David's testimony came from the hands of Goliath, Joseph's testimony took him from the pit to the palace. The Bible, as I see it, is nothing but testimony after testimony; divided into two books.

Tests (trials, tribulations, problems) or whatever you want to call them, are very normal. Most people view them as interruptions or a bother but people have been enduring tests for all time. If the saints of the Bible experienced them, why should we be any different?

The tests of life is what stretches us. I am who I am today because of the difficulties I have overcome. I know some people who do all they can to avoid the tests (the bumps) along the way, but life is all about the tests and the rewards for enduring them ... our life is our testimony.

Testimonies in a courtroom can give a life or death sentence. Likewise, what we do with our testimony can do the same. The Bible says in the book of Revelation that we conquer Satan "by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony." (Revelation 12:11) The word of our testimony can transform doubt into faith. Our testimony can literally turn someone towards Christ or away from Him. It's really up to us how we use the tests in our life.

When you have a testimony from God, it will be hard to keep it quiet. You will want to tell everyone what the Lord has done. A testimony from God will make sleeping in a lions den easy;  it will make walking thru the fiery furnace a breeze and a testimony from God will never be kept to yourself.

I don't know what kind of test you are enduring right now, but I do know from experience, that God is giving you a tremendous testimony that will speak life to someone one day. Just remember, a "testimony" without a test is just "imony".

Life is nothing but a big test, how are you doing with yours?


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The God Who Sees Me

I don't know why we tend to do this, but we often take on a view of ourselves as others see us. We totally miss out on the view that God has, we miss out on seeing ourselves as He sees us.

I have struggled with this. The reflection in my mirror hasn't always been the reflection of God but the reflection of others. God recently showed me that people see what they want to see. If they choose to be unforgiving, that is what they will see in others. If they choose to be accepting, then acceptance is what they will see. Unfortunately, most people don't (or won't or cant) accept others as God does.

We tend to think that we really know people. But this knowledge often comes from our emotion; how we feel about that person, how much we have interacted with them, what others have said about them. No one truly knows a person. Not like God does.

Some of the closest people in my life, whom I would have thought I knew intimately, have surprised me with things I never would have imagined about themselves or our relationship. When things are going great and you feel on top of the mountain, in the blink of an eye it can all change. The feelings that you thought you had, the person that you thought you knew, the secrets that you thought were safe, can change oh so quickly; leaving you to wonder, "who were they?" or even "who am I?"

I suppose Hagar might have felt this way. The Egyptian slave, who labored for Abram and Sarai (later to be called Abraham and Sarah) did them a great favor. After many years of not being able to conceive a child, Sarai sent Hagar to be with her husband so he might have a child with her.

Hagar did become pregnant and later bore Abram a son. But Sarai became jealous and spiteful to her slave because it wasn't herself pregnant with Abram's child. So Hagar did what most of us would do. She heard the names Sarai called her and she looked in the mirror and saw herself thru Sarai's eyes and she fled.

Hagar needed to see herself as God saw her and while in the desert, Hagar encountered God. She addressed Him as "El Rio" - "the God Who sees me"...

"She gave this name to the Lord Who spoke to her, 'You are the God Who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One Who sees me.' " (Genesis 16:13,14)

Hagar's God is the same God Who sees exactly who you and I are. He knows the exact numbers of hair on our head, He knows when our heart breaks and when we cry all alone, He knows about today, yesterday and tomorrow and He knows the things that we hold secret in the depths of our soul. He knows us like no other because He sees us exactly as we are.

When you look in the mirror today, what do you see? Is your image that of how others see you or how God sees you? Turn around and look again, look at the reflection in the mirror now and ask, "El Rio, how do You see me?"

Please join me today and declare that no one knows us like God and when He sees us, He really sees us!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our Responsibility Continues

Now that our vote is cast, what now?

The candidates have campaigned hard and we have hopefully cast our vote or intend to before the day is over. So now what do we do?

Despite who you supported or who comes out on top, our Christian responsibility does not end at the voting booth. Our responsibility continues with our prayers for those placed in authority over us. We are not to complain, but pray.

Interceding for those in authority is not an option. It is a biblical command that we are to obey...

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2)

God can use our voice, our prayers, to turn the hearts of those in authority. In Proverbs, we read that the Kings heart is in the hand of the Lord. (Proverbs 21:1) Whenever there are policies and platforms that don’t conform to biblical ethics, the intercession of Christians can be used in a powerful and transforming way.

May we reflect today that there is no King, no President, or no mayor that trumps (no pun intended) our God.

God is still on the throne and nothing escapes Him; including the cries of His people.

Exercise your right and responsibility...pray for our newly elected President and trust God.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Find Your Burning Bush

I early voted the other day. I don't tell you so that you should ask me "who" I voted for, I tell you that to encourage you to exercise your American right and responsibility and get out and vote. Who you vote for is your business, not mine.

When I voted, I got a sticker saying "I voted" and in the short time that I wore it, I had 5 people stop me and ask me who I had voted for. When I told one person that I couldn't tell them, they asked me "why". My response was, "because that is between me and God."

I know some people have no problem saying whom they stand behind and support. Many people have debated it on Facebook and some have even gotten ugly if you don't agree with them. Even Christians. My daughter had one Christian woman delete her on Facebook because she was for "the other opponent".

I don't know, maybe it is just me, but I just think some things need to be left between you and God.

I, for one, keep my political views to myself. I lean upon the direction and leading of God not the pressure and cursing of other Americans (or other Christians).

Likewise, there are some very intimate places of my heart that is just reserved for God. Words cannot describe the love, mercy and grace that God has bestowed upon me. Even though I share my testimony with others (and we should), there are some places that I've been with God that are beyond words.

"Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself what he approves." (Romans 14:22)

Jacob found himself all alone when he and God wrestled, (see Genesis 32). Jacob had cheated his brother out of his birthright, God could have dealt with Jacob right then or at any time but He waited until Jacob was alone. I've always found it curious that God waited until the middle of the night when Jacob was all alone.

I've had a few of those life changing "Jacob" moments. It is nearly impossible for me to describe the mercy I have felt from my God, but some of the depth of His love extended to me isn't for your ears. It is something to be held tightly between me and God, He completely understands my "thank you" and "amen" because He has walked me through some burning bushes.

May you find some of those Jacob life changing moments yourself and savor His grace in your own heart.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Having a Jonah moment

Have you ever had a Jonah moment? That moment when you hear about someone who has gotten into a little trouble but you are not surprised by it. Maybe you even spoke it out loud, “I’ve seen that coming a mile away.” To be honest, I have done that.

But the other day I was reading about Jonah and it hit me, I myself, am not too far off from where Jonah found himself. I’m sure you remember the Bible story from elementary school where God told Jonah to go and preach to the people of Ninevah, but Jonah disliked Ninevah, so he tried to go to Tarshish instead.

But God meant what He said, so He sent a big fish to swallow Jonah up and deliver him to the city. This infuriated Jonah and he said…

“O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God Who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2O)

But God answered and asked, “have you any right to be angry?”

Jonah might get alot of grief from us for not following God’s commands, but we aren’t much different than him. Many times, I don’t want to go where God tells me and more times than I can remember, I haven’t liked what God has asked me to do, especially if it involves someone I don’t get along with or go somewhere where I dislike. However, the question God asked Jonah is the same for you and me…

“what right do we have to be angry?”

Pride and our past feelings sometimes get in our way of obeying God. Jonah had to put his prideful feelings down, he had to forgive some people and he had to accept that even people from Ninevah needed Jesus.

God desires for us to minister to everyone, bear one anothers burdens, and to live in harmony with our Christian brothers and sisters. His message is for everyone, especially those that might not surprise us by their sinful nature. He is asking us to go and find our Ninevites and tell them the good news.

You may have to take the highway, or walk across the street or click on Facebook to do it, but however you do it, don’t go by way of the fishes belly to get there.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” -Mark 11:25


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Time To Let Go and Fly

Have you ever seen two birds fight? I did the other day. I don't know what they were so mad about but in my driveway there they were; beak on leg, not letting go, dancing around each other while still holding on.

It didn't appear that either one was going to let in and fly away. As I started to pull out of the driveway and my car became near to them, they finally broke their grip and flew away in different directions.

Driving down the road, I couldn't help but think how we are like those squabbling birds. How many times do we keep a grip hold on that thing or that person that seems to be a threat to us.

It could be a relational difference, a health crisis, financial troubles or just a built up offense with someone. Whatever has a hold on you and your heart, God wants to break it up.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

God is faithful, even when our hope seems lost. When the birds of life come pecking at your ear (and heart), don't listen. Instead, let go of your tight grip and let God fight your battles.

When we loosen those white knuckles from the troubles of life, the flight with Jesus becomes much smoother and the other birds around us become less bothersome.

Spread your wings and fly.