Aug 14, 2016

Leaving the 99.....

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“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish" Matthew 18:12-14

There is a question I have pondered on and off for the last few years. It is something that wakes me up at night, and causes my heart to beat rapidly in my chest. It has haunted me at times, like a shadow looming over me beckoning me to acknowledge it.

The question is this: What is my purpose?

This question has caused anxiety, fear, panic even in my soul. What if I am not fulfilling my purpose? What if I am not doing....enough?

Some days, I am certain I know my purpose. It seems as clear as a crystal glass. However, other days, I am uncertain of just about everything.

I have asked God, "What can I do for You? How can I be of the most use?"

The answer has not been clear.

Until recently.

I have been reading through the book of Matthew. Inhaling the words of Jesus. Studying His life with a magnifying glass. I want to know Him. I want to really know the Son of God. I want to know the Man that died on a cross so that I could live and be in fellowship with a Holy Father.

His Purpose was so clear. Not once did He ask, "Father, what is my purpose?" He always knew.

How did He know?

He knew because He was in constant fellowship with The Father.

It is only when we stray from Him that we become unclear and confused.

God is not the author of confusion, but the author of Peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

The purpose was never self-centered for Jesus. It was others-focused.

Notice how He poured His teachings into only twelve disciples. Twelve.

Yes, more followed Him, but He focused on twelve.

When He was walking in a crowd of people, He felt the touch of one woman at the hem of His garment. One woman.

 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

She was important to Him. Although she was a nobody by the world's standards, she was a priceless treasure to Jesus.

Jesus didn't look to the world to find His Worth, He looked to the Father.

Jesus wasn't after a good reputation, a huge following, or making a name for Himself...

He was after the hearts of sinners. Like you, like me.

He was after the poor, the destitute, the rejected, the neglected, the leper, the adulterer, the prostitute....

He was willing to leave the 99, to go after the one.

You, are the one.

Wrap your pretty mind around that, sweet sister.

So, as I ask Him, "Lord, what is my purpose?"

I now see that it is discovered in the life of Christ.

The question becomes instead:

Lord, what is Your purpose? What are Your plans?

One little change in the pronoun from "my" to "Your" changes everything.

It becomes a declaration of surrender, of trust, of a heart that desires the Will of God over any selfish ambition of my own.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we have no purpose because we are not "successful" by the world's standards.

I have never written a book. I have never had a publishing opportunity. My blog has not to my knowledge ever gone viral.

If I look for my purpose in numbers or in crowd popularity, I seem to be a complete failure.

But....

What if God wants me to focus on the one, instead of the many?

What if it is a husband who is not aligned with Christ? Or even an unbelieving husband?

What if it is a wayward child whose heart seems to be hardened beyond repair?

What if it is a niece or nephew who has fallen into sin or a destructive lifestyle?

What if it is a sister or brother that is not easy to love and has even turned their back on family?

What if it is a co-worker who needs to know the Hope of Christ?

What if....

God's purpose for us is not found in the many...

But in the one.

What if our purpose is the very same as Jesus' was...

To make disciples of those in our very midst. Beginning with the one.

What if  leading your husband to Christ is God's entire purpose for your life?

What if teaching your children to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and mind was the reason you, momma, were created?

What if showing the love of Christ to that so very hard to love family member was the reason you are here on this Earth?

Gosh, it sure narrows the road, doesn't it?

Our purpose becomes much more simple.

Simple, yet Holy.

Holy, because it puts the spotlight on Christ, and not ourselves.

That, my friends, is the purpose.

We must learn to disciple and take great care and interest in the life of one. Jesus will handle the multitudes.


finding His purpose,


jill



















Aug 11, 2016

Shine bright like a diamond...

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

Sometimes I think people would think I am absolutely off my rocker if I were to tell them of the things God does. Or the things He shows me to get my attention. I am sure you have stories as well.

At the risk of you thinking I am off my rocker, I will share with you something that happened just this week.

After some intense prayer time with the Lord, I gathered myself up and began to make our bed. The gleam of something big and shiny lying on my husband's side table caught my eye.

I picked it up. It looked like a massive diamond. I mean, huge.

Of course, I knew it wasn't real, but it was in such a random place. It must have fallen off of something. I still have no idea what, but certainly it must have come off of something. But, why was it lying on the side table near my husband's bible? So strange.

Instantly, I recalled a conversation that I had with two friends within the last couple of days. I had encouraged both of them to keep on doing the right thing even when it felt so wrong. I reminded both of them that just like diamonds. adversity makes us stronger and shine brighter.

I am not a geologist by any means, but I do remember reading somewhere that diamonds are formed by very high pressure and heat. Also, usually below the Earth's surface.

The result after the heat, the pressure, and the intense labor, a beautiful diamond is formed.

The same is true with us. Without the pressure, without the hard, without the extreme temperature, we do not become stronger or brighter.

Stumbling across this fake diamond this week was a gigantic reminder to my heart. When things don't seem to be making sense, or working out. When things are hard, when prayers seem unanswered, when the pressure of life is too much to bear....

I will look at this diamond and be reminded of what God is doing. He is doing some intense refining of my heart, in order for me to reflect Him beautifully.

I would never know how to love better if it didn't know the pain of rejection and loss. 

I would never know how to appreciate the simple and the ordinary if it weren't for the complicated and complex seasons of my life. 

I would never have compassion enough to help another if I had not also been in a helpless state in desperate need of a friend. 

I would never know the refreshment of His Living Water, if I had not first been parched in a dry land. 

I would never know the goodness and holiness of the Lord if I had never seen such extreme sin.

I would never know the overwhelming warmth  of a life devoted to Him if I had not first known the darkness of a life without Him. 

I would never know the peace of contentment if my heart had not been strongly rooted in deep discontent. 

I would never know the freedom of being a servant to Christ, if I would have not known the bondage of being slave to this world. 

What you are going through today, will make you stronger tomorrow.

You may not see it happening, but it is.

Just like diamond's are formed beneath the Earth's surface, so is the refining of your beautiful heart.

Without adversity, we will never shine and reflect Christ.

Without the pain of Jesus' death on the Cross, we would never taste the insatiable sweetness of a relationship with the Father.

It's for your good, sweet friend.

Don't fight what He's doing....

but surrender to Him.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

you are a diamond in the rough,


jill











Aug 1, 2016

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes.....

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"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6

Yo, this is our memory verse for the week.

Okay, I'll stop with the "yo". Just trying to figure out ways to be cool now that I have a 10th grader and a 6th grader.

Apparently, I am the antithesis of cool. Shoot.

Speaking of cool, school starts today for my kiddos. Well, actually, it's not really cool. I miss them.  I miss sleeping in, and I miss my house looking like a tornado roared through it. Just kidding about that part.

This time of year has always been kind of difficult for me. A new school year brings a lot of change. Kids growing up, me growing old, and well, just all that stuff.

Change is no fun.

That's why I love our memory verse.

"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6

 Malachi, sweet Malachi, how timely are your words.

We change. Our kids change. Our circumstances change.

But, God never changes.

Can I get an amen?

Not only does He never change, but He never leaves us as we go through change. He is consistent, steadfast, and ever-present.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Oh, sweet momma with a kindergartner, a middle schooler, a high schooler, a college aged child, an adult aged child...whatever stage you are in....

He is with you. 

Let me say again, He is with you.

In this ever changing, lightening fast world, we can rest our heads on His never-changing shoulder.

People will leave us, people will hurt us, people will change, we will change...

But, God never ever will.

The entire Bible rests on this fact. Generation after generation, God was with His children. Through change after change, one thing remained...

Him. 

One sweet day when our eyes behold the most glorious sight they will ever see, it will have all been worth it.

Each change, each ticking of the clock, each tear that dropped from our face...

Will have all been worth it to get to be with Him in Heaven.

Time will finally stop.

Eternity will begin.

I cannot wait.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:10


until then,


jill

Jul 26, 2016

Comfortably Numb....

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So, every once in a while I cycle back through the gospels of the New Testament. I can never get enough of Jesus and His teachings. Each time I read, He shows me something new. Something I missed the last time I read it.

Yesterday morning, I was in Matthew chapter 14. The story finds us with the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin.

[Back story: Herod the Tetrarch beheaded John at his wife, Herodias',  request. Herodias was the former wife of Herod's brother, Philip. Herod seduced her and Herodias gladly accepted. John the Baptist was very vocal about this illegitimate marriage, and Herodias did not like it. So, she had John beheaded. Served on a silver platter and all.]

Is this a soap opera or what?!

When Jesus heard of his cousin's death, he went to a solitary place to mourn. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind? He must have been grieving, sad, angry, confused, maybe even a bit fearful.  I don't know, but I know He must have taken it very hard and deep knowing His character.

As soon as Jesus arrived to His "solitary " place, a crowd was already there. They must have followed Him and raced to get there before He could. The crowd numbered over 5,000.

When Jesus saw them, this is what happened: "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed the sick." Matthew 14:14

What? So, Jesus is tired, depleted, sad, desperate to be alone...

but He sees the crowd and ministers to them.

Not only does He heal them and teach them, He then feeds all 5,000 plus of them with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

Jesus had compassion for them.

Let's take a look at the Greek meaning of this word. It will open or eyes to a whole new level of understanding.

The Greek word is: splagchnizomai--a Verb. 'the inward parts,' especially the nobler entrails – the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys

So, basically, this kind of compassion is not an adjective describing how Jesus felt, but a verb.

A verb that ran straight through His insides.

We have all felt this kind of compassion at some time or another.

There is a picture on my phone that I look at about once a week. It moves me to this kind of compassion. It shakes me to my core. I feel the warmth of the electrical current of splagchnizomai running straight through my veins when I look at it.

It's a picture of the the little boy, Aylan (3 years old) who was washed up at sea when his family tried to escape the wars raging in Syria. His brother, Galip, died as well. Galip was 5 years old. As well as their mother. Their father was the only survivor.

The family was trying to get to safety and freedom, but lost their two children in the process.

I look at Aylan's little shoes. His red shirt. His navy blue shorts. I wonder if he picked his little clothes out that day, or if his momma helped him. I think about him face down in the water. I wonder if he suffered. Did he see his brother die first? Was he scared?

I think about his father. I think how can he go on another day? Losing...both of his children.....and his wife.

This family never, ever escapes my thoughts.

The picture of Aylan's lifeless body, face down in the water,  is saved on my phone because I have a tendency to get numb. Numb to what's happening around me. Numb to the pain of others. Numb to the suffering of others.

Numbness is a condition that affects all of us if we are not intentional about slicing right through the numbness with a knife of compassion.

I refuse to be numb to those around me. I refuse.

Looking at Aylan's picture unnerves me. It causes all my senses and feelings to come alive with compassion. It wrecks me.

Do you want to know what separates Christians from other religions of this world...I believe with all of my heart that it is COMPASSION.

Jesus was the living breathing example of compassion.

Compassion moves. It doesn't sit idly by.

Compassion acts. It doesn't just hope that things will improve.

Compassion could care less what color someone is, what religion someone is, what political party someone is, or what language someone speaks...

Compassion MOVES. Compassion TOUCHES. Compassion FEELS.

Compassion breaks through the ice of numbness and opens the wound of unconditional love for others.

Compassion is not just lifeless words on a computer screen...compassion is tangible.

Compassion doesn't hide cowardly behind big talk and social media forums...compassion is face to face, heart to heart, and person to person.

Compassion puts itself aside and ministers to those around them that need healing. Just like Jesus did when he went to that "solitary" place.

Compassion knows that healing is the result of compassion.

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Compassion never rests. Ever.

Compassion is the opposite of hatred.

Compassion understands that we can be different, and still help each other, minister to each other, and pray for each other.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our schools to be safe from terrorists, let's pray that ALL schools in the world will be kept safe.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our church to be safe from harm and danger, but that ALL of our churches in the world will be kept safe.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our town to be protected from evil and terror, but that ALL towns will be protected from evil and terror.

When we pray, let's not just pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are hurting, but for ALL of our brothers and sisters who so desperately need the compassion and love of Christ.

Oh, y'all, we need a compassion revival. We MUST wake up from numbness and come ALIVE with COMPASSION.

Our families need our compassion.

Our communities need our compassion.

Our churches need our compassion.

Our country needs our compassion.

Our world needs our compassion.

We must follow Jesus' example...

So healing can take place.


coming un-numb,

jill





Jul 25, 2016

Take a hike....

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 3-4 & Psalms 20
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Weekly Memory Verse:

"The Heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1

C.S. Lewis once wrote this about this particular Psalm of David, "‘I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world."

Mr. Lewis, I whole heartily agree.

Every morning as I sip coffee on my back porch, this Psalm rises to my lips. I look up at the blue sky, the huge green oak tree looming over me, the red and blue birds if I am so fortunate to have them flitting around that morning....

and I see the glory of God, once again.

His Creation shouts of His Glory. Don't you find this to be true?

When you walk outside and breathe in fresh air. When you see the bright green leaves on a blossoming tree. When you sit by the ocean, inhaling the salt air and ears being tickled by the crashing of the waves.

There is nowhere on Earth that we can go to hide from His Creation.

Sometimes we think He is not near.

Oh, friend, just walk outside. Whether it is rain falling or snow, or a scorching hot day where the sun is so bright that you have to dart your eyes away...

He speaks.

We are enveloped in His Creation. We are swimming in His Glory.

His Glory looms over us as we discover our humanness. Suddenly, we feel small. So, very small.

When David wrote Psalm 19, nobody really knows what was happening in his life at that moment. Perhaps it was when he was on the run from the madman King Saul. Maybe it was the night his child that was conceived with Bathsheba died. Maybe it was at the height of his king glory, or perhaps even at the lowest point of his life.

No matter when it was written, David was surrounded by the Presence of God. As his eyes looked toward heaven, David knew he was never alone. God was with him.

Listen to the next few lines of Psalm 19....



The Heavens declare the Glory of God, 
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world


You have probably had a similar experience as David at some point or another. Even those who claim to not know the Lord, or believe in Him, have a chance to experience His Glory in Creation...every single day. 

We can either choose to believe, and pursue a relationship with the Creator and His Son, Jesus, or we choose to deny what our spirits so hunger and thirst for. 

Many that are spiritually lost will go away on nature hikes, or nature experiences to "find themselves". They often return feeling more lost than when they began. I believe it is because they tasted the goodness of the Lord, yet denied His existence. They continue to search, and search and search for the filling to their gaping need. Alas, until they surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus, the search will ever continue. 

Coming from a girl who is not nearly as educated as I would like to be, I find so much comfort in this scripture. He constantly pours forth His speech, and His knowledge to us. I LOVE this. We just have to open our mouths and be filled. No special intellect needed. Just a heart willing to receive what God offers us. 

He gives us all we need. We just have to choose to receive it. 

His Word is the Bread that feeds us. His Creation is the proof of His Glory. His Son is the proof of His Love for us. 

I challenge us to take some time to go outside this week. Turn off your headphones, your phones, and soak in the glory of God. Let yourself be overwhelmed by the magnitude of His Love for you. Surrender to His incredible Love and Plan for your life. Fall into His Grace and swim in the ocean of His Mercy. 


going on a hike with Jesus,  

jill



Jul 24, 2016

Prayer Requests....



I believe in the power of prayer.

First hand, I have seen miracle upon miracles through prayer.

If you have a prayer request you would like to share with your fellow SHINE girls, please post it here. You are being prayed over, prayed with, and prayed for.

Please feel free to post anonymously if you would like. We are still praying.

If you don't have an immediate prayer need, please lift your sisters up. We are so thankful for your hearts to serve and love through prayer.


Jul 21, 2016

Want to make a difference?

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If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  1 Corinthians 1-3

One month ago, I wrote a post about praying for our husbands. I encouraged us to pray very intentionally for 30 days over our men.

During the course of this, many things have taken place in this world. Tragedy upon tragedy.

Lord, where do we even start to pray? Praying for our husbands can seem so.....minimal....when so much is happening around us. 

I want to do something to help in this world. I want to do....something.

Helpless is how it feels when it seems like the world is crumbling.

But, ever so gently, Jesus reminds me....you can do something. Something great.

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is this...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

The first part is easy. How can I not love the Creator of the Universe? The One who sent His Son to die for my sins?

The second part, can be much more complicated.

If you are married, your first and closest neighbor is your spouse.

We can read our bibles, start prayer walks, adopt a thousand children, go to foreign lands to spread the gospel of Jesus, be leaders in the church.....

But, if we are not loving our spouse, only second to our love for the Father....

We are getting it wrong. Way wrong.

Friends, we can make a difference in this world. A big one.

Love Jesus, and love our husbands.

I cannot imagine a greater testament of our faith.

We can be lured into believing that surely that cannot be enough. Surely, we must do more in order for us to make a difference in this world.

However, our love for our husbands trickles into every relationship we encounter. Especially that of our children.

When our children see the marriage thriving, they too, will thrive.

I cannot imagine a better gift to the world.....a child growing up in an environment of love. A mother who not just knows the words of Jesus...

but, who follows them.

We can make a huge impact on this world, precious friends. It all starts in our homes. Where nobody but God and our families can see.

How will we answer one sweet day in Heaven when He asks us, "Did you love your neighbor well?"

I hope we will be able to say, "I loved them very well."

The building up of Jesus' Church, begins right here under our own little roofs.


let's go make a difference,


jill


Jul 19, 2016

Did I offend you?

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Every once in a while, I will put down all other reading plans, and just read straight through the gospels of the New Testament.

It never fails that when I do, I fall blonde-head over cracked-heels in love with Jesus again.

I read through it slow. Just one chapter a day. I like to soak it in. Each word drenching my heart with His teaching, grace, mercy, and jaw dropping love.

My heart becomes exposed each time I read. The Light of Truth pierces the dark corridors of this heart, and warms deep into the cold places.

Almost every time, I cry. I hold my bible close to my chest as if doing so will cause His Love to jump right into my spirit. Like osmosis, seeping into my pores and flooding me with Himself.

I want this so much.

He shows me something new each time I read His Word. Amazing how that happens, right?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

A verse did this very thing to my heart last week. I still hear it over and over again. Pondering its meaning and praying for God to reveal to me what this means for me.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Notice, the verse doesn't say "if you have something against your brother or sister." It says, "if your brother or sister has something against you."

I have never looked at it like this. Usually, I am praying to have a forgiving heart towards those that have wronged me or offended me. I ask for God to bless that person despite the hurt they caused.

However, look what this is saying. Go to the person that has something against you.

This takes on a whole new perspective.

Who have I wronged that I need to make right?

Who may be holding a grudge against me?

Who may have misunderstood something I did or said?

This verse really comes into play when pondering this scripture, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise" Ephesians 5:15

Are we careful with how we are living? With our words? With our lack of words? With our actions?

Are we thinking of who we may have offended or wronged today, or just focused on who offended us.

Oh, y'all. This is powerful. And so important.

We must live out our faith with the words we speak. We must be so careful with our conversations. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

We must be careful to not be a stumbling block to those around us. I believe we can even be an unintentional stumbling block. Therefore, it is so important that we be intentional about NOT being one. Because of our flesh, we are not always thinking about how others may receive our words. Many times our focus is on how we receive the words of others.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6:3

I wonder if this is what happens to our prayer life. Our prayers get stifled and smothered due to the lack of wisdom in how we speak and treat others. Again, even if we are not aware. We must ask for Jesus to show us, to open our eyes to ourselves and see ourselves clearly. Not shadowed by pride of murky self-righteousness.

Let's take these words of Jesus and put them into practice. Who may I have wronged? Let me go and make it right!

Let not another day pass that there is friction and strife in the heart of another towards us. To really have a heart like Jesus, we must be concerned about the heart of others, not just ourselves.

We may not be able to receive the persons forgiveness, but we can receive the forgiveness of our
Father for trying to make it right with the offended. We will have to trust that God will do the work in the persons heart that we have intentionally or unintentionally offended.


Jesus is rocking my world,


jill