Vicki Courtney is a gem. Not only because her ministry, which focuses on young women, is reaching thousands and thousands of people but also because her authenticity permeates every thing she does. With many books and Bible studies to her credit, this author, speaker, blogger, mother, and wife is quite an inspiration.
The few times we've had an opportunity to spend time together I've so enjoyed her radiant smile and passionate heart for God and for women. She has devoted her life to sharing inspirational messages that encourage deeply rooted transformation and heartfelt devotion.
Today, Vicki shares a blog with us that I really enjoyed. Reading her words makes you feel like you are sitting across from her at Denny's. . . no, actually it's Cracker Barrel where the pancakes are bigger and the maple syrup is warm. You'll savor every bite of her wisdom and then be completely and utterly full - ready to walk it out and work off some of what you've taken in.
That's always the point, isn't it? We're supposed to take action.
And then you will want to devour more of her amazingly good reads and wisdom. She has many books and Bible studies and each one will leave you satisfied. Her titles include 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos and her latest, Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess.
Thank you for inspiring us to action Vicki. As always, I'm grateful for you and your ministry.
My husband and I are recent empty-nesters and one of the things we enjoy doing with our extra free time is eating out. Cooking has never really been my thing, so I welcome any opportunity to get out of the kitchen. On our shortlist of favorite restaurants is a place called The Maxican in the small town of Burnet, Texas. It’s not fancy by any means, but what it may lack in the way of ambiance they make up for with a dish called the “Marsha’s Special.” As a side-note, they are also known for their hostess Mamaw, who gives shoulder rubs at the table to her guests. My husband and I are such frequent regulars that we now qualify for Mamaw’s upgraded package, which in addition to the shoulder rub, includes a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek when we’re leaving. She has become so dear to us, we’ve considered asking her to adopt us, even though she has no idea what our names are. I’m pretty sure she’d sign the papers, anyway.
But I digress. Back to the world-famous (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it should be!) “Marsha’s Special.” Keith and I dream about this dish and literally crave it about once a month. I don’t know who this Marsha is who inspired it, but I plan to give her a big hug if I ever meet her in person. Let me read you a description straight from The Maxican menu to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
The Marsha’s Special: A roasted poblano pepper stuffed with chicken and cheese, topped with cilantro cream sauce and served with three grilled Jumbo Gulf Coast Shrimp which are stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, a slice of jalapeño, and wrapped in bacon and includes a homemade garlic butter dipping sauce.
It’s what you call a “heart attack on a plate”—but trust me, it’s worth the risk. This dish is so rich my husband and I split it and, of course, add one extra shrimp to make it fair. When we walk out of the restaurant—or should I say “waddle” out—we are stuffed. We are so full we can’t imagine ever being hungry again. It’s kind of like that feeling you get after a large Thanksgiving meal. When you push away from the table, you don’t want to see food, smell food, or eat food ever again. You are fully satisfied in that moment. And that satisfaction lasts . . . oh, say, a few hours, until you feel that first hunger pang and decide another piece of pie is in order.
The same is true when it comes to the false gods we chase. They offer a temporary buzz of satisfaction, but the satisfaction is always short lived. It will be impossible to move on in our faith as long as we engage in the endless pursuit of false gods. We are all hungry and longing for satisfaction, but unless we find our satisfaction in God, we’ll always end up empty in the end.
I remember the first time I read through the Old Testament and encountered the fickle faith of the Israelite people. I mean, we’re talking about a people who were ushered safely out of Egypt after 600 years in bondage and witnessed countless miracles—the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and manna raining down from heaven, just to name a few. Yet it was only a matter of time before they turned their backs on God and partied down with a golden calf. I was a fairly new believer, and it was hard for me to comprehend how a people so blessed by God could trade their affection for Him for a golden statue. That is, until I realized my own susceptibility to being drawn to the allure of false gods. My gods of choice weren’t carved statues and golden calves, but they succeeded all the same in bidding for my allegiance.
The truth is, we are no different than our Israelite friends in the Old Testament. Like junkies in need of a fix, we hop from one buzz to another, looking for something to fill and satisfy our souls. Our golden calves can be found in a closet full of name-brand clothes or parked in our garage. Golden calves can line the shelves of our trophy cases or be the number of followers or friends we have on a social networking site. Many mothers fashion their own golden calves out of their children’s accomplishments and successes. Golden calves can take the shape of food, drugs, the number of digits on a paycheck, or the digits on the scale. When we become more enamored with the created rather than the Creator, we are at risk of creating our own golden calves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying, “A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character.”
What do you worship? Or, better yet, what dominates your imagination and thoughts? Idols can almost always be traced back to what began as a mismanaged or mishandled craving. This craving is not by accident. God has wired our hearts to seek satisfaction and fulfillment, but He intended we find it in Him, first and foremost.
What do you crave? Until Jesus tops your list, you will never be satisfied. Like that bacon-wrapped shrimp with melted garlic butter dipping sauce, anything else is just empty calories. The hunger pangs will always return.
(The above is adapted from the book and Bible study, Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess, which is Vicki’s latest release. More information can be found here)
Friday was absolute mayhem around here.
I mean, complete and utter chaos. Nothing bad happened at all. Only good things - just tons of them all occurring at the same time. I hadn't planned it that way. In my mind (and on the Notes App on my Iphone) everything had been planned in perfectly timed intervals that would allow for a smooth 24 hours. But nothing actually panned out that way.
I mean, does it ever?
For example, the delivery guy from the furniture store arrived to put together my sons' new bunk bed at the exact same time the handy man showed up to tinker with their broken go-cart. We are also in the middle of turning a clothes-hanging closet into a space suitable for holding books and school supplies. So, the contractor arrived (with two other contractors he'd not mentioned over the phone) just as it was time for me to start making dinner. When I opened the door to greet them, they nodded and smiled as if everything were normal . . . even though they was supposed to show up before lunch time.
To top it all off, the wonderful people from Focus on the Family were in our office for a Bible study taping with my family - parents and siblings. So, we did our best to host them while our tiny office space got turned upside down with cameras and lights and microphones and cords.
By the end of the day, Jerry and I were winded like we'd just run the Boston marathon and were totally ready to plop down into the bed . . . just when we remembered that we'd scheduled a dinner with friends. Man, we hated to cancel. It'd been on the calendar for two months and deep down inside we knew that once we got there we'd be refreshed. So, we showered, tried to look presentable and drove off to meet them. So glad we did.
Whew. . .what a long day.
Which is why the irony of what my kids had been doing throughout the midst of that jammed packed day struck me so poignantly.
A friend of mine has been helping them to understand some of the details about the Jewish Sabbath recently. Just for informative fun. Over the past few days, they'd talked about it a little bit and even read up on a few details. So to culminate the experience they thought it'd be fun to actually have a traditional Sabbath meal. And they scheduled it. . .for Friday.
I joined them for a while as they drew a candlestick, goblet and other traditional elements onto a make-shift table cloth in an attempt to make it resemble the real deal . . (since I had no intention of buying a real silver goblet no matter how hard they tried to convince me that we'd use it on a regular basis).
I loved watching their excitement as they followed the recipe for the traditional Sabbath bread.
They watched and waited for it to rise all day and then popped it in the oven for baking.
As soon as it was cooked and ready, the table was set. Cups were filled with grape juice, candles were lit and then we listened to the reading of the traditional Jewish sayings. We tried our best to follow the directions - even down to my husband starting off with a prayer for his family like a Jewish father might at the beginning of the meal. We talked about how the Sabbath was a day of rest and refreshing and a time when the family is meant to enjoy God and each other.
We took communion together and then laughed hysterically when it was time to sing a hymn and my youngest son belted out a rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round".
Hear me clearly - there was nothing calm or calming about our Sabbath meal but at least the kids got to experience it. . .
. . .kind of.
In the midst of all the mayhem of this particular day - on a day when so much business abounded - it was just like God to remind me through my children about the importance of Sabbath - rest, refreshing, recuperation.
Planning For It.
You have any "sabbath" moments planned this week?
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that shared how they practice #sabbathmargin within their life. We've had an overwhelming response and wanted to share a few examples with you all. Enjoy!
As my boys are in middle school and high school now events crowd our calendar but we try to carve out at least 3 family dinners a week. Just time to sit, eat, talk and be together. They may not always be the fanciest dinners but we are together. With my husband, we try to always go to bed at the same time and take time to pray together over so many different things. It is nice to end our day together in prayer.
I’m only 23, so I don't have a family of my own yet, but I go to school and I coach softball at a local high school. I have the proverbs 31 miniseries daily devotional sent to my phone every day and I take time during my day to read it. It may be when I first wake up, before practice, after practice, or right before bed. Whenever I read it, I try to see how I can turn it into a lesson on the field for the girls I coach. My absolute favorite thing to do is read a verse or listen to a song and draw a picture that correlates with it.
I have created margins by deciding on one ministry in my church that I am passionate about and serving in that one and letting myself say "no" to any others that I am asked to participate in. As a pastor's daughter still attending her daddy's church, I am asked to participate in a LOT of different ministries, and it got to a point where I was overwhelmed. Thankful for a husband who helps keep me accountable in this area because I am a pleaser and it's hard to say no sometimes.
I schedule time alone every Monday morning at my favorite coffee shop while my son is at school and my husband is at work. I also use the time while waiting for my son at football practice to walk while listening to worship music or a podcast or pray as I walk. I've learned I have to be intentional and make the time or it won't happen.
Our family has tried to be very diligent to make Sunday our Sabbath. We make sure all dishes and laundry are done- house picked up on Saturday night. Sunday is a day for us to just "breathe" and enjoy one another without the worry of household chores. It has helped our family so much to "regroup" on Sunday and just enjoy one another. It is always an anchor to know no matter how busy our week is - Sunday is coming!
I make 10-14 freezer meals every other month. It has been a way to create margin on those days when life becomes too much.
Boundaries and margins have always been a challenge for me. One thing I have learned is that I am just as important as the people I place on my calendar and to help me keep proper perspective in my life, I have had to write myself in as an appointment. This way when someone needs me to do something I can check my schedule and notice I cannot that day I have an appointment. This was not as easy as it sounds because I first had to realize my personal time was just important as any other meeting that was on my calendar and unchangeable.
I sat on the edge of a pool behind a friend's house in North Carolina. We watched our kids jump off the diving board while discussing our plans for the remainder of the summer. Our conversation steered to our own hobbies and what we hoped to personally accomplish before the fall. We both agreed that reading a good book was at the top of both of our lists. So, we both started sharing our favorite reads. I recommended some mindless fiction options - just nonsense that had no spiritual nor educational benefit. No enrichment. Just sad.
My friend is kind. She indulged my suggestions and acted interested.
I was immediately intrigued.
So, the next day, I ordered a copy for me - and a mindless, fiction novel for her. I'm pretty sure I got the better end of the deal because I've loved every page of Susie's book. Every chapter has helped me figure out how to rear my little boys into the kind of men I'd like to see them become.
Susie's book and ministry are a lifeline to women like me - women who are trying to figure out the delicate balance of letting your children enjoy the blessings that God has given while simultaneously maturing into generous, servant-hearted and grateful individuals.
If you haven't noticed . . . in our materialistic and self-serving culture, it's difficult.
No worries. Susie is here to help. She is an author, radio host, wife and mother who has raised three children into grateful, well-adjusted adults.
Today, Susie is giving away 7 copies of her extraordinary book. I cannot wait for you to have it.
- Enjoy Susie's blog post below.
- Copy the link to this post and send to another mother who you know will be encouraged or challenged by it. You can even post to your social media pages.
- Leave a comment sharing some things you have implemented in your parenting to rear grateful children. Don't forget to leave your email address so that we may contact you.
We will randomly select 7 of you on Monday, September 8th, and send you a copy of this incredible book!
Susie, thank you for your commitment to strengthen women in their faith and family. We are all so blessed by you!
Adapted from “Growing Grateful Kids” (Moody Publishers, 2010)
My nest is now empty. My kids are grown and married and though it sounds cliché, I marvel at how quickly those years have come and gone. Looking back, I must say I believe—like never before—that one of the best things we can do for our children is to personally walk intimately with the Lord and become more like Him with each passing day.
It’s true that when our kids are young, we can get them to obey no matter how dysfunctional we ourselves may be. But it doesn’t take long before our kids are quick to spot hypocrisy and double standards. Our words will no longer ring true if they see us do one thing and say another.
We cannot impart what we do not possess. So may we show our children, give them a front row seat of what it looks like to entrust ourselves to God and to follow Him wholeheartedly.
- If our kids see us shake our fists at people more than pray for them, they’ll learn that people shouldn’t get in the way of what we want.
- If our kids see us responding humbly to the rude person in line at the grocery store, they’ll learn that we are alive to reflect the character of Christ.
- If our kids see us grumble, gripe, and complain about our circumstances and unfulfilled desires, they’ll come to believe that we deserve more than God is giving us at the moment.
- If our kids see us regularly open our hands, thank God, and entrust our hearts’ desires to Him, they’ll learn that God is good, He cares about us, and He moves when we pray.
- If our kids see us dissect others’ flaws more than they hear us honor them in their absence, they’ll acquire an exaggerated view of their own importance and the idea that it’s okay to gossip.
- If our kids see us speak well of others, give people the benefit of the doubt, and believe the best about others’ motives, they’ll not be quick to judge or assign motives; they’ll learn to believe and hope for the best in others.
- If our kids see us strive and strain in our own strength and neglect to give Jesus the credit He deserves, they’ll learn that more rests on our shoulders than on His.
- If our kids see us humbly commit each new day to Jesus and turn our worries over to Him, they’ll learn that He truly loves and cares about every detail of our lives.
- If our kids see us disrespect authority, criticize our pastor, and nitpick our neighbor, they’ll learn that it doesn’t matter if Jesus told us to respect authority and to love our neighbor, because our opinions matter more than the things He has asked of us.
- If our kids see us admit when we’re wrong, ask forgiveness, and apply ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, they’ll learn to follow in our footsteps. They’ll have a visual example of what it means to admit when they’re wrong, to ask forgiveness, and to apply themselves to the pursuit of holiness.
What a lofty responsibility we have in raising our children! Lord, help us to live what we believe!
This parenting thing is hard and calls so much out of us. And we won’t do it all perfectly. In fact, we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. That’s why Jesus offers us grace for every step and sends fresh, new mercies to our door each and every morning. He is with us, here to help us, and He won’t let us go.
To live what we believe puts feet to our faith. Nothing will teach our kids about hope, gratitude, and the transforming power of Jesus Christ like parents whose daily choices flow from a thriving, intimate walk with Jesus Himself.
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day (Proverbs 4:18 NIV).
There has been a lot of excitement going on between the four walls of our Going Beyond office lately. That's because Priscilla's latest study, Breathe, has just arrived! To launch this brand new study, we want to celebrate by giving away Breathe leader kits! Who doesn't like a good giveaway?!
Priscilla's post is via video today, so watch and enjoy as she chats with you about her latest study. She'll also give all the details you'll need to enter today's giveaway. We will announce the winners next Wednesday, so make sure we see you here again next week! Same time. Same place. Have a wonderful day!
- Going Beyond Team
Every sibling group has a baby - the one that's the youngest and somehow the most tender and the most sweet no matter what they do. That youngest brother or sister can get away with things that the others never would. You baby them and carry them on your hip and cover for their wrongs well beyond the age that you should. You pinch their cheeks, take their pictures and hide your annoyance when they get the most attention (and the most Christmas presents under the tree). You wonder if they are ever going to grow up - even though they are about to graduate high school.
And then. . .all of a sudden. . .they do.
Seemingly, overnight, the baby is not the baby anymore. He's a solid, mature, thoughtful, responsible husband and father who surprises you with his depth of insight and entrepreneurial ingenuity. You actually imagine that one day, sooner than later, you'll end up working the front desk at a company he builds. . .and somehow, you're happy about it.
That's cause. . .you're a proud sister.
That's certainly what I am.
Jonathan Evans is one of my favorite people on the planet. I don't have near enough time to tell you all the funny stories and memories from our childhood that were centered around his gregarious personality. He was - and still is - always a bright light in our lives. He is a man that I respect and admire for his leadership and devotion to family and the faith.
Currently, Jonathan is on the tail end of completing his Masters of Theology Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary and serves as the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys. He is married to one of my closest friends and together they have three beautiful children. He is a great communicator (just like his father) and listening to his preaching is one of my favorite things to do.
Today, he writes about respecting God - a thought provoking-message that we all need to hear.
Read it: Proverbs 1:7
As a kid growing up in the Evans household, it’s safe to say that I had a fear of my father. This did not mean I was scared of him, but it did mean that I highly respected him. Whenever I was disobedient, whether in school or at home, I knew that not only would my father be disappointed in me, but I would also be reprimanded for my actions. I never wanted to disappoint my father because of our relationship but I, of course, did not want to be reprimanded for my actions because of the pain! I quickly realized that doing things my own way without first getting instructions from my father was not a good idea. I learned that respecting my father while skipping his instruction was not respecting him at all. I learned that true respect and true reverence for my father would be to go to him upfront and receive the knowledge I needed to apply things appropriately. When I began to operate this way people would say, “for a young kid, you are wise beyond your years.” However, I knew on the inside that I was a regular kid with a very wise father.
Fearing or respecting God does not mean that you just say that you respect Him. It is not displayed by simply going to church on Sunday or having an occasional Bible study. It is not displayed by simply really feeling that you respect Him or that you participate in a lot of religious activities. It does mean however, that you go to Him FIRST! It means that your entire mentality is derived off of His mentality. It means that your goal is to not take any steps in life that are outside of instruction received by Him. It means that your father in heaven has the only say and the final say over every area of your life. Many people will claim that they have a fear or respect for their father in heaven, while they simultaneously skip his instruction. If you fear God, He will become the beginning of all of your knowledge. He will be FIRST! Then people will say, “You are wise beyond your years,” But that’s when you can say, ” I am just a kid with a wise Father.”
Think about it: Do you respect Him or do you RESPECT Him?
I’ve been waiting – waiting and thinking about when and if to write about it here. Wondering if this virtual living room was an appropriate forum for a post on such things.
And it is. It has to be.
If ministry – all ministries – are not connected to and involved with the issues of culture and society then what is its real power. So sometimes we write about silly things – superficial things – like hair or recipes. Sometimes we inspire you spiritually or ask for your comments about a personally enriching topic. But sometimes. . .sometimes. . .
. . .we write about Ferguson.
I’ve watched it all play out in the media just like you have. So many details still unknown and unclear. So many questions and hurt feelings that are pulsing in the soul of our already heart-bruised nation. Who should bear the weight of guilt will prayerfully be decided as justice unfolds but choosing a culprit is not my intention today.
I’m not a judge.
But I am a mother of black boys.
Several Sundays ago, my family and I visited Concord Church where Pastor Bryan L. Carter spoke powerfully about the turmoil and discord surrounding this issue. He focused our attention on Jesus as the only One who has and can ever bring complete peace in situations like this one that have roots too deep for human solutions to reach. It was beautiful and challenging.
My three sons sat in between their father and me and for the first time they heard the details of Ferguson. They looked at the pictures that the pastor had coordinated to accentuate his message as they flashed across the screen behind the pulpit. I glanced over and watched their faces pulse with concern. Their brows furrow in confusion.
Over brunch, the questions came. Why? How? Where? What next? We gave them as many details as we could but then I sat quietly as their father – a stately, dignified black man – looked his growing black sons in their curious eyes and told them what every young man of color needs to hear.
“Boys, there are labels and stereotypes hanging over your heads. Your choices will determine whether or not they stick.”
He was honest with them about his own experiences – the times he’s been followed and closely monitored by an attendant in a high-priced department store or disregarded while sitting around a conference room table with his peers. He told them about the women (black and white) who have clutched their purses when he got on the elevator next to them and the police officer that stopped him because he “fit the profile” of the culprit they were looking for. He explained to our sons that, sadly, the burden of proof fell on them to prove that the stereotypes don’t fit them and never will.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, ”many people will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They’ll judge you the moment they see you walk into the store or the meeting or the elevator or pull up next to them at the stop light. They’ll make estimations about your status and your background and draw unfair conclusions about your potential. They’ll see your hooded sweater – the same one that other kid is wearing on the other side of town – and make decisions about your intentions that are untrue and that they’d never apply to the other guy. It will be up to you to let them know that their pigeonholes are too small and narrow – that they are for the birds not black boys. So, young men, the way you dress does matter. The way you talk does matter. The way you wear your hair matters. The education you receive matters. For now, that’s just the way it is.”
And, listen to me friend, my husband is right. It does matter.
I need to tell you that it was only a decade ago that I walked off of a stage after having spoken at a prayer breakfast in one of our nation’s major cities. An older man with kind and tender eyes, walked up to me, shook my hand and in the most sincere way he knew gave me a “compliment” – That was a great message. You are a credit to your race.
A credit? To my race?
He was utterly sincere.
The fact remains that there is an underlying divide in our nation that still exists. The expectations for minorities are so low that when one excels it’s a surprise. The individual is viewed by some as a “credit” to an otherwise bleak people group. And, every now and then, this dismal perspective erupts - more often than the media has time to cover - revealing its ugly head and taunting those who have gone before and paid such a high price for equality.
What does Ferguson teach us? So many things that I don’t feel qualified to cover. But one thing this, and other cases like it, has reminded me – a mom of young minority children – is that it would be foolish for me to turn a blind eye and act as if everything is ok just because blatant acts of racism have not been my regular experience. I don’t do my boys any favors by keeping them uninformed to the stark reality of the situation. If I don’t tell my boys about the shadow following them, they’ll make choices ignorantly and leave themselves open for brutal criticism, marginalization or . . .much, much worse.
So, Ferguson taught me to be honest. My 11 year old, 10 year old and even the innocent-eyed 5 year old, need to know and it’s the job of their father and I to tell them.
Red. Yellow. Black. White. Will you tell your little humans that we are ALL precious in His sight? That none of us deserves a label that we haven’t personally earned. Will you teach your kiddos to respect others and to choose their friends based on character and not color? Will you commit to telling them the truth about race relations in our nation? Will you refuse to act like the struggles aren’t real even if they aren’t largely your personal experience and even if it’s just easier to turn off the news and send the kids to bed? Will you tell them the flaws of our history and the appropriate way to overcome them? Will you admit and recognize your own prejudices (we all have them) and put them away for good?
Will you tell them – not naively but truthfully – that the only color that ever really matters anyway is red.
His blood bridges every gap and every divide. Let’s act like it.
My life has been dramatically and profoundly impacted by Anne Graham Lotz. Our paths crossed nearly two decades ago and I still remember our first meeting as if it were yesterday. Her passion for God's people and intense devotion to faith and family lit a fire in my soul for the same. She didn't have to take the time to talk to me that day. . .but she did and it changed the trajectory of what would be my future ministry.
Her ministry spans far and wide - in and out of various denominations and across continents. Her books and studies, teachings and messages are deeply stirring and life changing. Every single word she speaks drips with an authority that can only be given by God's Spirit. Her feminine yet powerful voice stirs stadiums and crowded arenas and galvanizes people - men and women alike - to an active faith.
Just like her father's did.
I almost weep to write this short introduction today.
Because in my young twenties, this woman gathered me under her ministerial wing and gently nudged me forward. She cared more about the stability and strength of my soul than the growth of my ministry. She answered my questions, prayed for my requests, responded to my emails and then invited me along to her conferences for several years so that I could have an up close view of what ministry onstage (and off) was supposed to look like. When I wondered what it meant to be a wife and mom who was also in full-time ministry, her example was in plain view. When I wasn't sure how to speak with an authority that was gentle but would still carry the weight of God's own power, her example was - and still is - in plain view.
I'll never forget (and tears sting the corners of my eyes now) the day I was speaking at a conference in the vicinity of her home town. There were a couple thousand women in the room that day. I looked out into the crowd, somewhere between my message introduction and the first point, and there was that unmistakably, beautiful silver-ish hair glimmering in the audience. I almost lost my words at the thought that she - she - had taken time out of her schedule to come.
I was twenty-seven.
Afterward, Miss Anne came backstage to give me a tight hug, speak words of blessing over me and pray for God's hand to cover me. Then she got back in her car and drove home...leaving a spiritual inheritance and blessing behind her that I carry in my heart til this day.
Anne Graham Lotz is a student of God's Word and cares deeply for the bride of Christ. She hears from God and we hear Him more clearly through her. In this post, you'll see her passion peeking through every line. She's not apologetic or apprehensive. She never has been.
And why should she be. There has and will always only ever be. . .One Way To Safety.
Miss Anne, thank you for always pointing us - pointing me - to Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way…” John 14:6
On August 8, tens of thousands of people were trapped on Mt. Sinjar by Islamic State forces who surrounded the base. The men, women, and children were cut off from food and water, with many dying and all being threatened by ISIS who issued the ultimatum that they convert to Islam, or die. Pictures have been circulated on YouTube of babies being butchered, Christians being crucified, and men being beheaded by this demonically controlled group of vicious fighters.
While the world seemed to look on helplessly, the Syrian Kurds and the Peshmerga fighters combined to open up an escape route from the mountain to northern Syria. If you are like me, you breathed a sigh of relief and uttered a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving to God for the rescue.
As far as I know, not one of those trapped complained that the Kurds and Peshmerga had not opened up more ways off the mountain. They were simply grateful and took the one way provided. Thus they were saved.
What a dramatic picture of the equally desperate state of the human race. We are trapped on the “mountain” by our own sin, selfishness, and Satan. We are dying from lack of Living Water and the Bread of Life. The enemy is circling, seeking those he can devour and destroy. Threatening us with eternal extermination. Hell.
But praise God! There is a Rescuer! A Savior! He left Heaven’s throne and came down to open up a way out for you and me. A way of salvation! A way to safety. One way. His name is Jesus!
Stop complaining that there is only one way to salvation. One way to eternal life. One way to Heaven. Just thank God that there is a way. Then take it.
Anne Graham Lotz
Sometimes we have the tendency to forget - forget why we are here, forget that God loves, forget that He protects, and forget that our purpose is to know God and make Him known. Instead, we often decide to focus on the fleeting things of this world and allow the downfalls of those around to steer us in the wrong direction. We take much offense when the people in our lives offend or hurt us. As a result, self-protection becomes our focal points. Instead of giving all of ourselves to others, we close ourselves off from their investment in us...and our investment in them.
But what if we sat and really thought about how our heavenly father has set all of this up. We would find that fullness of life is found when we lose our lives. When we give it away to the poor, to the oppressed, to the sick, to the sinner, to the believer, to the offenders. Our greatest fulfillment is found not when we think highly of ourselves, seeking to exalt oneself or self protect, but when we willingly and openly seek to serve and give to others. (Matt 10:39)
I sometimes get so lost in deceitful thoughts wondering, “Who will watch out for me while I’m pouring myself out for others?” Well, our Father promises to do that. He also promises restoration.
So today, in the strength of our Savior, let us resolve to throw out resentment and give all of ourselves - our joy, our hope, our excitement, our gifting, our energy, and our lives to others, knowing that we serve the great restorer. We can choose to tear down the walls that keep us from loving and serving one another. We cannot do this in our own power because it is an impossible task, but we can spread God's love and gospel in the energy and power that He gives us through the Holy Spirit. (Col. 1:28)
Lord, give us the ability to trust in your unfailing love, living in a way that is pleasing to you today. (Ps. 107:43) I pray that we understand all that you give to us is simply for us to be stewards over. I pray that we will seek instruction on how to use it to serve and to give to someone else. Our time, our energy, our lives, our love, our talents, they all belong to you, entrusted to us for your good work. So, we stand today resolving to give it ALL to you, allowing you to do your good work in this world through us your children.
“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
We just love Christine Caine here at the Going Beyond office. Like...LOVE! Christine was one of our guest bloggers in January and we've wanted to hear more ever since. So, we have more! She is our guest blogger today and we couldn't be more grateful!
Have you ever found yourself looking at your resources or your talents and feeling completely ill-equipped for the position you've been placed in? Aren't you thankful that God sees otherwise and knows our potential when we don't? Christine's message will hit a home run for many of us. I pray this post will encourage you right where you are today. Hold on tight to these truths the next time you are feeling wrong for the part.
Read, enjoy, and pass on the good news!
1 Samuel 16:16
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
When the Prophet Samuel saw Eliab the eldest son of Jesse he assumed that He was the one chosen to be the next king of Israel based on his external appearance. The only problem was that although he looked to be the best choice he was not God's first choice. So often we can make the same mistake. We think if someone is talented or gifted or smart or eloquent they must be the one whom God has chosen. More often than not we think everyone is a better choice than we would be.
God has always chosen those that no one else would choose so that His glory can shine through him or her. God sees possibility when no one else does. God sees potential where no one else does. God sees faithfulness when no one else does. God sees loyalty when no one else does.
God always sees more in us than we see in ourselves. He sees a king when everyone else sees a shepherd boy. If you feel overlooked or forgotten by man, know that God sees you. God has chosen and called you. Will you respond to that call today?
Have you ever felt that God could not use you because of your own limitations? Make a list of all of the strengths that God has given you and tell him you are ready to be used by Him.