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Posts tagged with ‘holy spirit’

  • Love Responds

    “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

    We’ve all heard those four words before, either while watching reruns of COPS or on the other end of the phone after you’ve dialed for help.  I’ve never had to dial those three numbers, but I’ve known them by heart as long as I can remember, and I’ve made it a point to make sure my kids know them, too.

    But the National Emergency Number Association hasn’t always existed.  In fact, there were ninety-two long years between the first ever phone call made by Alexander Graham Bell and the first ever phone call made to 9-1-1.  Prior to 1968, if you wanted to report an emergency, you had to dial your local precinct.

    Everything changed after 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was murdered while she was on her way to her New York City apartment after a late-night bartending shift.  A few weeks after Kitty’s tragic and senseless death, The New York Times reported that 38 witnesses heard Kitty’s screams for help, screams that went on for 30 minutes, yet help never arrived. The number of bystanders has since been disputed, but the fact that several people failed to respond remains.

    Where was the breakdown?  Why didn’t Kitty’s neighbors get out of bed and pick up the phone to call the police upon hearing her horrific screams?   Some claim they did.  Some reported they didn’t want to get involved.  Some figured someone else would make the call.  Some took cues from the other neighbors they observed doing nothing and decided to do nothing as well. 

    Kitty’s complacent neighbors showcased the need for a central response center, which brought about the 9-1-1 emergency call system we know today. 

    When I heard Kitty’s story my heart was filled with conviction.  I found myself recalling moments when I had acted like her New York City neighbors: hearing cries for help, either through a friend’s Facebook post or a barista’s sad disposition, but ignoring the cries because I didn’t have time to get involved, or I was counting on the fact that someone else would step in. Thinking thoughts like, “Well someday I can respond, but right now I don’t have the programs or infrastructure in place, so it’s just not the right time.”

    I repented and asked the Lord to help me change my casual bystander mindset, and He led me to a very familiar passage of scripture and helped me read it with a fresh pair of eyes.  Aren’t you thankful for a gracious God who sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and for the Word that is always transforming us into a more accurate image of Christ? 

    In Luke 10, a religious scholar asks Jesus what to do to receive eternal life.   He wasn’t asking how to become immortal.  Everyone is born an eternal being; after leaving the earth we either live forever in heaven or forever in hell.  What this man is asking is how to receive life that comes from God, an above-and-beyond kind of life that you can live in right now!

    Jesus answers the scholar with a question, “How do you interpret the law?”  His response became one of the most well-known scriptures in the entire Bible.

    Luke 10:27 “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

    What did Jesus think of this answer?  Let’s keep reading.

    “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”  Looking for a loophole, he [the scholar] asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

    Jesus then shared the story of the good Samaritan. 

    A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He was attacked by robbers and left for dead.  Luckily, witnesses would roll up on the scene: a priest and a Levite.  These men would surely help, right?  Nope.

    It’s so strikingly similar to the story of Kitty Genovese.  Only this story has a happy ending.

    Luke 10:33 A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.”

    The Samaritan felt compassion for the bloody and beaten man.  The scripture says his heart went out to him.  How many times do we encounter people on our paths and send our hearts out to them, but stop there?  We feel compassion, empathy, sadness, anger, disgust, pity, “all the feels,” if you will, while forgetting that all the feels in the world, without a sacrificial response, don’t amount to anything.

    We have to take care of the people God places in our lives in the same way we take care of ourselves.  We sacrifice to make sure dinner is on the table for our families.  We sacrifice to make sure our kids have incredible birthday parties. We sacrifice to make sure we have a roof over our heads and clothes on our back.  But what are we sacrificing for our neighbor?

    I know sometimes the world seems hopeless, and it’s easier to keep your head down and just make sure that you and yours are happy and healthy, but Jesus says if we want to step into eternal living right now, we have to move from bystanders to first responders. 

    Let’s not wait for someone else to make the call.  Let’s not roll over and hope someone else steps in.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and ears.  Ask Him for a genuine concern for the ones in plain sight—a concern for both their social and spiritual needs—and then be ready to respond.  It could be a phone call, providing a warm coat to someone who is cold, an offer to babysit for a friend, bringing flowers to the gal who does your nails, a home-cooked meal for someone going through a hard time, asking someone if you can pray for them, a hand-written note, spending time at a nursing home or a homeless shelter, or buying lunch for the man carrying the card-board sign on the corner.  God’s not asking you to start a global ministry; He’s simply asking you to love Him and love people.  Don’t overcomplicate it; see a need and fill the need.

    Love wins, but only when we respond.

  • You Are a Visionary

    A visionary is someone with a strong vision of the future. It seems like a title reserved for a select few: people like Walt Disney, George Lucas, Brian Houston, Steve Jobs, or Nelson Mandela. But I believe every born again believer can live in such a way that “visionary” will come up at some point during their eulogy.

    God was a visionary. He envisioned the sky with its clouds, moon, stars, and sun. He envisioned the sea with its white waves, jellyfish, and coral. He envisioned the giraffe with its giant spots, extra-long eyelashes and black tongue. And He envisioned you.

    Psalm 139:15-16
    Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

    Before you took your first breath, God had a strong vision for your future. He is a visionary, and because His very Spirit lives in you, you are a visionary.

    Don’t scoff. Quit inwardly rolling your eyes. I know you may not feel like a visionary, but if that’s the case, it’s only because you’ve never identified with that part of your spiritual DNA. You were created to have a strong vision of your future, the good hope-filled future that God has prepared for you.

    Last October Josh and I were headed to Birmingham, Alabama for a very anticipated ministry conference and three days with no kids (Hallelujah! Can I get an amen?). When we arrived at the airport we found that our flight had been cancelled. Insert devastated emoji face here. We couldn’t get a flight out until the next day, which just wouldn’t have worked. It was drive 10 hours, or don’t go at all. We decided to drive it. We rented the cheapest car we could find and took off. A few minutes into the trip Josh discovered the car did not have a cruise control feature. He was a good sport about it, but I know driving 10 hours without being able to set the cruise control and just…you know…cruise, made the trip more work for him.

    Cruise control on a 10-hour road trip is a good, good thing. It’s so easy to pick a speed, pick a lane, get comfortable, and set off to your destination, but visionaries understand that if you want the future to look different, you have to do something different.

    If you want 2017 to be more fulfilling than 2016, than you’ll have to turn cruise control off. You’ll have to be okay with uncomfortable. You’ll have to desire different. If you keep on keeping on like you kept on last year, you’ll repeat the same year.

    What would 2017 look like if you spent time seeking God and asking Him to reveal His vision for you to you? Remember, He said every stage of our lives was laid out in front of Him before our “birth” days!

    He has envisioned what your relationship with Him looks like this year. He has envisioned your marriage. He has envisioned your career, your savings account, your friendships, your family life, your influence, your health, your mornings, your lunch breaks, your world. He’s envisioned it all, now it’s your turn. It’s your turn to kick into visionary mode. It’s your turn to dream about what God has planned for you this year.

    Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”

    I believe God is calling you to “run with it,” but before you can run with it, you must take time to understand what “it” is. Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and let God start to reveal His vision for you to you. Make it plain, easy to understand, create a timeline, think through practical steps that will make the vision become a reality. Write those steps down, and then read what you wrote and read it often. Keep it in front of your eyes, and then you can run with it and live out the life God has envisioned for you.

    You are a visionary.

  • Auto Correct

    I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I used to like it. I liked it so much that when I lived at my parent’s house they got me my own phone line so I wasn’t always tying up theirs or making it impossible for the dial-up modem to connect to the Internet.  But that was before I owned a cell phone. More importantly that was before I owned an iPhone.

    My dislike for talking on the phone came when I got one of those bad boys.  It was just so much simpler to text than it was to talk; especially with a 2-year-old running around. Now, I have three children at home and I rarely answer my phone. I’ll answer a text pretty quickly, but if you call me, you’ll have to wait until the baby goes down for a nap and the big kids are being entertained by a monkey and the man with the yellow hat before I call you back. 

    Since I communicate so much via text messaging I’ve come to appreciate Auto Correct.  This is a handy software feature that automatically replaces a word or suggests an alternate word, if the word you type does not appear in the built-in dictionary on your phone. 

    For instance, if I had too much soy sauce with my sushi, and my extra-puffy fingers accidentally text, “I kovr sushi,” Auto Correct knows that kovr is not a word and what I meant was, “I Iove sushi,” and automatically changes kovr to love—so smart!

    Your phone will also train itself to recognize certain words that are not in its dictionary, if you text them often enough. When I first had my daughter, Beau, her name was not in my dictionary, and Auto Correct was always trying to change it to something else. But after I declined the word replacement suggestion enough times it learned that Beau was what I was actually wanting to text. It even learned to automatically capitalize it. 

    I was texting my husband the other day and watching all the words I mistyped transform into the words I meant to type and I thought to myself, we need Auto Correct on more than just our phones, we need it in our minds. 

    Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you started to have a wrong thought, your mind would auto correct and replace that thought with a right one?  Imagine what kind of effect that could have on your life. If you are thinking right, you are talking right, making right decisions, producing the right kind of fruit, attracting the right kind of relationships. All would be right in your world if you could only program your mind with an Auto Correct feature.

    I’ve got good news. You can. You don’t have to hire a computer programmer or a brain surgeon. You don’t have to pay a fortune. You don’t have to take special vitamins or eat a certain diet or be a part of Mensa. All you need is a Bible. 

    II Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    The Word of God, when mediated upon, has the power to auto correct your thoughts.  When you study and memorize scripture you are downloading information into your mind and spirit that will override and correct any wrong information you’ve been programmed with, so you can be equipped to do all that God put you on this planet to do.

    You may have programmed yourself to think that stress is a normal part of life and something that you just have to deal with. You may even start certain days proclaiming, “This is going to be a stressful day!” But if you study the Word you’ll see that that way of thinking is wrong. The Bible says not to worry about anything. The Bible says Jesus came to make our burdens light. The Bible says Jesus is the Prince Of Peace. If you make those truths a part of your life, they will auto correct your thoughts when you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed. They will change your proclamation from, “This is going to be a stressful day,” into “This is the day the Lord has made. He’s going to carry my burdens! He’s going to command peace over my day.  He’s going to lead me beside still waters.  He’s going to calm my storms.” 

    You may have programmed yourself to think that your dream is too big. You find yourself doubting the call God has placed on your life or trying to figure out how you can make it happen in your own strength. But if you study God’s Word, and the lives of men like Noah and David, you’ll reprogram yourself to correct those thoughts with things like, “My God is faithful!  He who started a good work will finish it.  He makes all things work together for my good.  His ways are better than my ways!”

    We all live in the same fallen world and we have all been programmed with thoughts that do not line up with the Word of God, but we can train our minds to replace those thoughts—to correct those thoughts—by filling our inner dictionary with promises and principles from God’s Word. 

    It may not happen overnight.  Just like it took several times of me declining whatever word my phone suggested, when I typed Beau’s name.  It may take you several times of declining whatever wrong thoughts pop into your mind first, but eventually if you keep putting the Word of God in your spirit, it will stick.  God’s Word will be the first suggestion that pops up in every area of your life.  Truth will override everything else and all will be right with you.

    Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (II Tim 3:17, MSG)

  • Shooting Your Arrow By Faith

    Christian Kids In Public Schools

    I love this time of year. Giant pencils hanging from the ceiling at Target, directing me toward the school supplies. Tax-free shopping for new shoes and skinny jeans, for my pride and joys. The anticipation of getting back into a routine.   

    On Thursday, my firstborn will have his first day of first grade. This time last year I was gearing up to send my little guy to kindergarten at—dun, dun dun—public school! I was kind of a wreck.

    I grew up in public school.  A big, 6-A public school. I was a Union Redskin from kindergarten until graduation day. I loved it and I turned out okay, right? So why was the thought of sending my son to public school so hard to wrap my mind around.

    Maybe it’s because in 1990, when I started kindergarten, things were different. There were no 5-year-olds with their own iPads.  Christmas break was called Christmas break instead of “winter” break. I could walk to school with my older brother and play in the front yard when I got home, even though my mom wasn’t home from work yet. School shootings were unheard of.  No one knew what the Internet was and my teachers just stuck to the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. There was no need to discuss same-sex marriage and gender-identity curriculum didn’t exist yet.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was exposed to all kinds of things in public school, but times have really changed over the last 25 years and there’s no denying that Jesus isn’t welcome at public schools anymore. So how could I send my little boy into a place where Jesus wasn’t welcome? Well, I had no choice.  Christian school, where we lived, was too expensive, and I didn’t feel like I was called to home school.

    I really needed peace about this, so I brought it to the Lord, and He delivered. 

    In the second chapter of Exodus you can read about the birth of one of the greatest heroes in the Bible, Moses—and his amazing momma, Jochebed.

    A few verses before we read about Moses being born, we read about Pharaoh ordering every newborn boy be thrown into the Nile River. Pharaoh was inexplicably evil, willing to murder precious baby boys so that the Israelites would not grow to outnumber his people. 

    Can you imagine the horror Jochebed felt when she delivered Moses and her midwife whispered in her ear, “It’s a boy.” You know for nine months as she carried him she hoped and prayed that she would have a girl, for a girl she could keep. But God gave her a son, now what was she going to do with him? 

    The Bible said she saw Moses was special. She could see God’s hand on this baby boy’s life, so she kept him hidden for three months. I have three children and let me tell you it would be very, very difficult to keep an infant hidden for three months. I’m guessing she never let him “cry it out” to get him sleep-trained. She probably couldn’t let him cry at all. She was probably with him every waking minute, and I’m sure her bond with him grew stronger each passing day, but the time had come when she realized she couldn’t hide him any longer. She made a basket for him, lined it with his favorite blankie, put him in it, and left the basket near the river in some tall grass.  She had to be terrified, right?  Wrong!    

    Hebrews 11:23 (NKJV) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

    This verse tells us she was not afraid. Moses’ parents hid him not out of fear but out of faith! When Jochebed left her baby in the basket that day, she was showing God she trusted Him to take care of her son. She stepped out in faith and God followed with favor. God not only took care of her son, but He made a way for Jochebed to continue to mother her beautiful baby boy.

    As a Christian mom sending my child to public school, I felt a little like I was putting him in a basket in the Nile River. I had to choose: fear or faith?

    After reading about Jochebed, it was easy to choose faith. 

    Jochebed sent Moses into a land where God was not welcome and just think about how mightily the Lord used him! God had a plan for Moses; He has one for my kids, and your kids, too! 

    When I dropped my son off last year, I didn’t shed a tear. I wasn’t sad or fearful, but full of faith. I believed that like Psalm 127 says, he is an arrow, an arrow we had spent the last five years sharpening, an arrow that would go out and fulfill His purpose. I believed that the Holy Spirit would guide him and lead him when choosing friends. I believed that he would be a light and a leader. I believed he would have favor with his teachers. I believed God would protect him physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and that no evil could befall him or come near him. I believed that God would use him mightily! Glory to God, he had a great school year! As we gear up for first grade, I am believing the same things.

    Jochebed, a wife and a mother to three children, made a decision to have faith instead of fear, and her faith changed the course of history. Whatever your plan is for school this year—home school, Christian, private, or public—don’t be afraid. Launch your kids into their best year yet, full of faith in our great God!

  • I Have A Confession

    In 1989, five boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested for causing trouble in New York’s Central Park.  While they were being held for questioning, a 28-year-old woman was found in the same park, critically beaten and sexually assaulted.  The detectives asked the young boys if they had anything to do with it, they all said no.  After hours of interrogation, the boys were professionally coerced into admitting they were the ones responsible for the awful crime against the innocent jogger, even though they were not.  The detectives had them convinced that if they would just make up a statement, they could go home.  And they wanted to go home, so they confessed.

    When the cases of the five boys went to trial, there was no incriminating evidence against any of them.  In fact, all the evidence pointed to the fact that they did not commit this crime.  No DNA from any of the boys was found on the victim and they were in another part of the park, causing trouble with a bunch of other kids, when the crime would have happened. But a district attorney had their confessions on tape and because of those confessions (which did not agree with one another) they would each spend the next seven to ten years in prison!

    What can we learn from this crazy but true story?  Do not confess things that are not true!

    We make confessions every day.  We confess we are tired.  We confess we are stressed.  We confess we don’t feel good.  We confess we are overweight.  We confess we don’t like our jobs.  We confess we aren’t good enough.  We confess the wrong kind of confessions all of the time, and most of the time, we do it without even realizing it.

    Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

    The word confession in this verse is from the Greek word homologia and it’s not referring to someone who just reads confessions or makes mindless parrot-like confessions, it’s referring to someone who has meditated on God’s Word and has it so down in their heart that it fills them with hope and when they open their mouth they can’t help but confess what God says about them.  They can’t help it, because they believe it.

    When you hear people talk, or see their Facebook posts, about how they are dreading Monday or about how it’s going to be a realllly long week, you can be sure they haven’t taken the time to get in sync with God concerning those things.  We know this because we know He isn’t dreading Monday and we know He’s not complaining about the long week.  He says, “This is the day I have made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

    We have to pay attention to our confessions, because they matter.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue.  When you say things about yourself, your husband, your children, your day, your week or your year, that don’t agree with what God says about them, you are confessing things that are not true!  When those boys opened their mouths and confessed to a crime they did not commit, they changed the path of their lives forever.

    Don’t let your circumstances coerce you into confessing a lie!  Get in the Word and let it sink down into your spirit, so when you open your mouth or update your status, you confess truth, hope, and faith in a faithful God!

  • Who Is Your Interpreter?

    When I was in seventh grade, I went on a mission trip to Peru with a group of teenagers from my church.  The native language in Peru is Spanish and, “Me no hablo espanol,” so if I wanted to communicate with anyone there who, “No hablan ingles,” I had to have an interpreter.

    Interpreter: a person who translates the words that someone is speaking into a different language.

    I can still remember our group’s interpreter, Liz.  She had wavy, dark hair and wore red lipstick. She not only translated what we were saying to the Peruvians, but she translated what they were saying to us. 

    If she were ornery she could have really messed with me by misinterpreting some of the things I needed her to translate.  I could have asked her to order me a hamburger and French fries and since I don’t recognize very many Spanish words she could have ordered me a plate of fried guinea pig and I wouldn’t have known it until the “delicacy” arrived at the table.

    A few weekends ago I was at a women’s conference listening to one of my favorites, Pastor Jimmy Evans, when he said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I pray as you read this it has that same type of impact on your life.

    “Stop letting the devil interpret the people in your life to you.”

    Satan is an interpreter.  He will take words, thoughts, and actions, and translate them into a different language, his native language.

    John 8:44 (NIV) When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

    I’ve heard many teachings on how the devil will lie to you about yourself.  He’s great at making you think you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or spiritual enough.  He knows just what thoughts to plant in your head to make you feel inadequate.  I’ve learned through the years how to recognize his voice and take those thoughts captive by meditating and declaring what God’s Word says about me.

    I don’t let the devil interpret me to me, I am all God says I am, but what about other people in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, my leaders, my God?  When the enemy plants a thought about one of them in my mind, am I as quick to recognize that it’s a lie?  Am I as quick to run that thought off by speaking God’s Word and declaring that the person Satan is interpreting to me is all God says THEY are? 

    Satan cannot be trusted as an interpreter.  Eve learned this the hard way.  In the third chapter of Genesis she has one conversation with Satan where she allowed him to interpret God to her.  She doubted God’s goodness and His motives, all based on lies and misinterpretations from a conniving snake. 

    Satan loves to tear relationships apart, especially marriages.  He is an expert at taking one thing your spouse said or did, or didn’t do, and translating it to you in a way that causes you to take up a great offense with them. Maybe it’s something as small as your husband not taking out the trash when you asked him to.  It wasn’t a shot at you or a picture of his lack of love for you, but if given the chance, Satan will interpret that one action into a lie that causes you to resent your husband and then he will continue to build on that. 

    When you find yourself frustrated with the people in your life, ask yourself why.  Is it, perhaps, because you have been letting a liar interpret them to you?  Don’t stand for that!  Defend your loved ones with the Word of God like you would defend yourself.

    I Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.