Wednesday, October 12, 2011

18 years old and a dirty truck... (no, this isn't a country song)

Loading up my brand new silver Ford Ranger to head back to Bible school in Tulsa, Ok after a quick visit with my family in Texas, my dad pulled me to the side and said, "You really need to clean-out your truck". At that time, I wasn't the "neatest" of individuals and I was not taking care of the truck as I should. I was 18, undisciplined, yet Loved the Lord with my whole heart. I responded to my dad with a... "yeah, yeah, I will". I hugged my family bye, got in my truck and headed out of the beautiful New Braunfels, Texas. As I drove off, the weight of being on my own again hit me like a ton of bricks. I began to cry as I thought to myself...How was I going to pay for rent this month? How would I buy groceries? Heck, how will I pay for gas to get back to school?! (Attending Bible school full-time and being a part-time nanny isn't usually a breeding ground for immediate financial success.) I made it back to Tulsa on fumes. The next day, I worked up the courage to call my dad and ask for some money to get me through to the next payday. I was embarrassed I hadn't handled my finances correctly and began to cry... He said, "Sweetheart, what did I tell you to do before you left?" Why was he bringing up cleaning my truck at a time like this? Could he not hear the tears? I needed groceries! I needed gas! I needed Ramen noodles! My dad re-instructed me to clean out my truck, then give him a call and we would re-visit my financial situation. Annoyed at his casual attitude toward my situation and armed with 2 heavy duty trash bags, (yes, it was that bad) I ventured to the truck and reluctantly began throwing things away. Shoes, taco bell wrappers, receipts, books, sweatshirts, cds, cups, boxes, money.... MONEY?!?!?! There was a large bill right there under the left doc martin boot! Wow! Where did that come from? Had that been there the whole time? I put it in my pocket and resumed cleaning. Make-up bag, brush, basketball, MONEY?!?!?! More money?!?!?! Another large bill! I began to clean faster. Bill after bill... the more I cleaned, the more money I found! My dad had known I needed the money and had hidden the bills inside my truck amongst the rubble. Everything I had needed was there the whole time. Here I am crying out to my dad for more, more, more! My provision was behind my obedience to what my father had asked me to do.

I am reminded of Jesus first miracle.
John 2
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, DO IT.”
6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

I don't know about you, but if I were the waiter, when Jesus asked me to fill the jars with water, I would think... Why is he telling me to do this? This won't work. This irrelevant to the problem we are facing right now. This is not very productive. Now, when he asked them to take it to the master of the banquet, they probably thought he was crazy. "So what's the plan? I hand the master of the banquet a cup of water, then what?" Mary was able to foresee the questions that would arise. So, she told them ahead of time, "Whatever He says, DO IT." Thankfully, the waiters did what Jesus told them to do. They filled the jars, and handed the cup of water to the master just as Jesus had said. The miracle in this is more than Jesus turning water to wine for the party. The miracle was the faith and belief that was sparked inside of people at that moment. Verse 11 says and his disciples believed in Him. Had the waiter not been obedient to do the seemingly insignificant task, the worst part would not have been a wine-less party. The worst part would have been belief systems that were not infused with faith and belief in the Lord Jesus.

Sometimes as believers we can be slow to obey the promptings of the Lord. Sometimes His requests seem insignificant when compared to the issues we are facing at that time. The leadings can seem irrelevant to the path we feel our dreams or purposes are on. Our job as followers of the Lord Jesus is not to ask questions, hesitate or to come up with excuses. Our job as believers is to obey. How foolish for us to pray to God for more, more, more... when our dreams, purposes, and seeing our prayers fulfilled is right behind our obedience. Let's quit crying out to God to bring our dreams to pass unless we can obey the promptings He gives us to lead us there. Do you have a "cup of water" He has asked you to pour? Whatever He says, DO IT. Whether He has told you to join choir, take your neighbor out for coffee, quit watching that tv show, spend more time in prayer, spend more time with your children, be nicer to your husband, quit eating too much, reach out to that "weird" lady at work, or something totally different... I again echo Mary when I say, "Whatever He says, DO IT." You never know what is on the other side of your obedience. Just as my financial breakthrough was behind my obedience to my earthly Father, yours could be behind your obedience to your Heavenly Father. More importantly than that, eternities could be effected. Behind those waiters' obedience to Jesus' odd, yet simple requests, was provision for the party, disciples belief in Jesus was solidified, and Jesus' miracle ministry began. All from pouring one cup of water.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Boss Man

Smelling of Lavender baby lotion and diaper creme, my two-year old daughter yanks a toy from her 11 month old brother's hand. "It's not time for that brudder, it's time to go nite-nite". He begins to cry and once again (for the 10th time that day), I ask my sweet, pig-tailed daughter... "Who is Ryder's boss?" With her chin resting on her chest and hesitation in her voice she softly responds, "Mommy is Ryder's boss." I then proceed with my well rehearsed speech on how mommy is Ryder's boss and her sweet-self doesn't need to rule her brother's world, that I can take care of him just fine.

The fact of the matter is the Lord has had this very conversation with me countless times.

It was a typical, way over-done conversation for us... Steven and I were tired and he responded in a way that stinkin ticked me off. I felt my anger swelling within me. Why doesn't he see it MY way? The WHOLE world would see it my way... I DESERVE to put my foot down this time. I NEED to tell him exactly what I am thinking right now. He ALWAYS gets his way. I am going to SHOW HIM this time... these thoughts were rolling around inside of me and I could sense a horrific explosion about to spew from my mouth in the form of words that I would only regret saying and try to shove back in later. At that moment... I sensed the Lord whisper to me... "Who is Jamie's boss?" With hesitation and a drop in my gut, I respond, "Jesus, you are my boss." I then sensed the Lord reminding me that His ways are higher and more effective than mine and my sweet-self doesn't need to rule my own world, that He can do that just fine.
Familiar words of how the scripture defines love as patient, kind and not rude... began to rise up in me.
Opposing words of hurt, anger, and a weak victim's cry began to rise as well.
Who would I listen to? How would I respond? Who am I going to please? Who am I going to serve?
I quietly responded aloud, "I will respond in a way which is pleasing to you, Lord."
The battle was won.

Romans 6:16, 22-23
16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God,the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As our scripture reference states..we have a choice to choose LIFE, righteousness and holiness or death. The easiest path is do what we want to do when we want to do it when it comes to relationships. However, God's ways are clearly higher than our ways according to isaiah 55:9. Doing things according to his blueprint gets us to the desired destination. Doing things our ways only breeds destruction and deception within us. Envision with me your marriage being full of life, vibrancy, and glorious fruit for the Lord. Think of a marriage that is fun, full of shared "God" moments and a great sex life. How about friendships where God is glorified because they exude encouragement, patience and a huge allotment for growth. These "dream" relationships are the results of choosing to respond in a way that pleases the Lord. When we choose to make Jesus boss and get ourselves off the throne... He truly can create a masterpiece in each relationship we have.

The fact of the matter is we all have a master. The scripture clearly states we are slaves to the one whom we obey. Either to sin (the fleshy way) or to obedience to the Word (God's way). Relationships are one of the many lifelines in our walk with God. Whether a spouse, sibling, friend or mentor, relationships is where our love walk begins and ends. It is SO, (and I emphatically shout from the roof-tops SOOOOOOOO) easy to be the boss of our own lives, especially when it is in response to our closest relationships. To proclaim Jesus as our Lord is more than just speaking one of His many splendid names. It's saying, "Jesus, you are the boss of me!". Choosing to respond to Jesus breeds blessings, promises and life. So, get your sticky fingers off your own life and let the Lord do His thing! The next time your friend treats you less than kindly, your spouse forgets something important to you, your boss takes credit for one of your ideas or your pastor says something that cuts deep.... take a step back and choose which master you will please.

Say it aloud.... "I will respond in a way which is pleasing to you, Lord!"

Friday, June 3, 2011

I hate the backseat!!!

"Get in the back seat, the oldest always gets to sit in front." Being the baby of a few siblings had its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the many disadvantages was always being in the back seat when my brothers or sister were riding with us. Ugh, what about me? When is it my turn? I can't see from here! But it's not fair! I'm always back here! I'm getting carsick! (which was usually not true, but seemed to always work)

Although this may seem insignificant and pety as an adult looking back, how often have we thought these same thoughts in a figurative sense? Ugh, what about ME Lord? When is it my turn to shine for you? When will I get to do what you put in my heart? When will I see my dreams fulfilled? They always get their way. It doesn't seem fair. WHY ARE MY DREAMS ALWAYS ON THE BACKSEAT?!

I've always felt called to ministry. I feel pregnant with the Word of God as though if I can't teach it and share it I could literally explode. However, there have been seasons where I have had my giftings on full throttle and others where I am crying to the Lord saying.... Remember me? I don't like it in the backseat. Where are we going, I can't see from here...

Although things are timed differently than we would like, look unfamiliar to what wehad hoped, or just seem plain off the map from where we assumed our course would be, I hate to state the obvious, but remember, God is way smarter than we are! It is all for His purpose anyway. Keep connected to Him, pushing into Him, sensitive to His leading...Proverbs 3:4-6 states, "so shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths."

God has given us all desires, gifts, capabilities and talents unique to His purpose and calling just for us. He doesn't change His mind, lose patience or even decide to go with someone better down the line. Romans 11:29 says, For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] The Lord has not withdrawn His call and giftings for you.

As we choose to obey God no matter the circumstances, continue to trust Him, recognize and acknowledge Him... He WILL make straight our paths. He WILL open up doors of opportunity. He WILL turn everything around for Good for those who love Him.
Be encouraged! God hasn't forgotten about You! His thoughts and plans for you are good! The Lord has not forgotten what His intentions are for you. He is not sitting on the throne saying... Now, why did I create her again? NO! He is a strategic creator who has everything aligned perfectly for His ways to be accomplished. Work with Him...Allow Him to awaken the dreams that once dominated your passion. Trust Him, His timing and His leading. Follow His promptings and be quick to obey... And be amazed at the goodness of God and delight in the fact that you were made on purpose, for a purpose. Say it aloud.."God hasn't forgotten me. He made me on purpose, for a purpose." Speak the Words of Life over you! Your greater days are ahead!