Dec 30, 2015

Are you ready for this?

SHINE Reading Plan [begins January 1st]:Go Here.
Receive SHINE by email: Go Here.

Anyone else need a fresh start this year? Yeah, me too.

I don't just want to be more conscious of my eating, I want to be more intentional about my spiritual food. The Bread of God's Word. It will fill us up to overflowing with the nutrients we need desperately to survive. But, only if we eat it.

Of course, as with the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new year, I have some goals I want to work on.

This year I want to love audaciously.

Not just love, but love audaciously.

This word has been in my vocabulary for the last several months. I even shared it with several close friends.

Then, for Christmas, my friend Erin gives me Beth Moore's newest book...guess what it is called?

Audacious.

Yep, no kidding.

Think God is trying to tell me something?

This year I want to love better. Love like Christ. Love bigger. Love more.

Love audaciously. 

However, if I am to love others audaciously, I must love Jesus this way first. It is not possible for my flesh to love others well unless I am filled with the Love of Christ. Trust me, it just won't work.

Our love tank will always be low and sitting on empty if we are not filled up with the Love of Christ. Y'all know what I am talking about, don't you? It's that running on fumes kind of love. The kind that is short on patience, and long on irritability. Yep, that's the one.

Oh, but if we want to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness of this world, we MUST...we MUST...

Love others audaciously. 

How else will others tell us apart from the world?

How else will others see, really see, Jesus Christ?

We cannot love the world running on fumes. We just cannot.

If we are too dang tired to even love our very own people well, we definitely won't be loving the world well.

We get tired when we don't get spiritual nourishment.

We get tired when we listen to the demands of the world instead of the Gentle Voice of our Father.

We get tired when we follow the way of our flesh instead of the way of Christ.

Weariness leads to worldliness.

We must refuel.

We must.

Daily.

As much as we possibly can.

This world is getting darker by the minute. We cannot waste another precious day running on fumes and sitting on empty.

Someone in your path needs to be shown some audacious love.

Loving audaciously means loving the fire out of people that don' t even like you. Or, don't even notice you.

Whew. Did I strike a nerve? I think I may have struck my own funny bone. Ouch.

Loving audaciously means loving those that do not deserve an ounce of our love. Isn't that how Christ loves us?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Friend, we can know every scripture in the Word of God, quote every Billy Graham sermon, listen to Jesus music in our cars all the live long day. However, without LOVE, audacious LOVE, we won't make one inch of a mark on this world. Not a single solitary inch.

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. 1 Corinthians 13:1

We can read all the Christian books at Lifeway, go to church every single Sunday and serve on all the committees. But, if we are not loving people, we have gone desperately wrong. We may as well hang up our church clothes and stay at home.

Jesus was asked a question by a Pharisee one day as he was being grilled by the religious leaders. This particular Pharisee was an expert of the law. He wanted to trip Jesus up. He wanted Jesus to hang himself on his words. So, the Pharisee asked Jesus this, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?" Matthew 22:34-36

I can almost see the smirk on the Pharisee's face. Surely, he believed that whatever Jesus said would send the crowd into an uproar. He knew these people magnified certain laws above others, so whatever answer Jesus gave would mar the wisdom and validity of Jesus.

Hear the Words from a Man that could only be the Son of God...." Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40

Let me sum this up for us:

Love God audaciously.

Love others audaciously. 

The end.

In order to love God audaciously, we must know Him.

How can we get to know Him?

In His Word.

We are beginning a new reading plan starting January 1st .

It is a two year bible reading plan, which you can print out, download, bookmark on your phone...whatever is easiest for you.

Be intentional, friend.

Make a plan to love.

Love Him audaciously.

Love others audaciously.

Let's set this world on FIRE with LOVE.

Audacious love.



lighting the match,


jill


Dec 29, 2015

When darkness swallows you whole....

SHINE Reading Plan [begins January 1st]: Go here
Receive SHINE by email: Go here

Over the past 4 years, I have been very transparent with you about my struggle with fear. I believe it has been my biggest stronghold, yet it has also been my biggest victory. Fear has no place in my life anymore because faith could not live where fear was dwelling.

However, from time to time, a sprout of that fear comes back begging to haunt me and taunt me. Now, I have my ammunition ready to obliterate it. The Word of God.

Here is what I have learned with the enemy: if he can't take you down with one thing, he will sure as heck try to knock you down with something else.

So, I write this post to encourage any one of you that may struggle with this very thing that I am about to talk about. It's something that we often bury deep down within us because it is too messy and too ugly to even talk about. It can also be one of those things that we decide we just have to live with because we don't know how to make it go away.

Depression.

There, I said it. It is out there. For all the world to see.

I hate even typing that word. It is ugly and dark.

Yet, it is so powerful and has the force to take out any one of us at any time if we aren't armed for the fight.

The enemy loves depression because it actually depresses us. Meaning, it takes all the wind of the Holy Spirit out of our sails and sinks our little joyful ship.

It has the power to suck the living daylight out of our souls. Depression can leave an indelible mark on our hearts and our minds. Yet, we are the only ones that really know the depth of the scar because it is not visible.

Depression can come at any time. Nothing has to happen, nothing has to trigger it. It can just come out of nowhere and knock you straight down to the ground with one fail swoop.

If you are in a place where you are struggling to find joy. If you are in a place where you don't even know the words to convey to someone else to try and seek help and healing...

I have good news for you.

There is a way out.

For many years I thought these "thoughts" in my head were just normal:

"You are not good enough and never will be."

"You fail at being a wife miserably."

"You are not a good mother to your children."

"You are a terrible friend."

"You have no talents."

"You have no use here."

"Just shut your mouth because no one wants to hear you."


When the thoughts would come I would shake them off and just try to forget about them. OR, I would believe these thoughts and it would effect every aspect of my behavior.

 Finally, I became worn out trying to convince the enemy in my head that these things were not true. So, I ended up surrendering in defeat. Waving my white flag to the enemy and saying, "These things must be true. You win. I lose. You are right."

The deep dark blanket of depression then covered my entire soul. It was suffocating.  And fierce. And lonely.

I felt hopeless and useless.

Then one day....

I had a daughter.

One afternoon she expressed similar words to me that I had heard in my own head throughout my lifetime. She expressed to me some of those exact words that I had heard the enemy whisper in my ears.

I knew the pattern. I knew how the cycle would go. I had lived it my whole life. It starts as a whisper. Then the enemy has a full blown bullhorn in your ear screaming lies about who you are.

The enemy was now taunting my baby girl with those same words. Only whispers of doubt for now, but I knew the bullhorn would surely come.

Oh NO.

This was about to go DOWN.

Grabbing my bible off the nightstand, I conjured up every scripture that I could find to speak over her. I would read them night after night over her precious body as she lie asleep in her bed.

I was so mad at the enemy. So mad.

It was one thing to attack me, but a whole different thing to come after my baby girl.

Suddenly, my eyes were opened.

I could see the lies so clearly now.

I could see the enemy's tactics in the bright shining light of the Word of God being poured out over my little girl.

She is made in the image of God. [Genesis 1:27]

She is fearfully and wonderfully made. [Psalm 139:14]

She has the mind of Christ. [1 Corinthians 2:16]

She was knitted together in the womb by God. [Psalm 139:13]

Her tears are collected in a bottle by God. [Psalm 56:8]

Her name is engraved on the palm of God's hands. [Isaiah 149:16]

The hairs of her head are all numbered by the Lord. [Luke 12:7]


My eyes were opened to the fact that this was true for me too.

These words were not just for my precious daughter....these words were also for me.

Those dark days of depression could not stand a chance against the truth of His Love and Promises.

I just had to know them. I just had to believe them.

The blanket slowly lifted.

Freedom had finally come.

I never would have seen it if I had not seen it first hand with my daughter. The fight for her is what saved me from the dark.

Sometimes He uses those in our very midst to bring the healing.

He knew my love for her and fight for her would bring me to Truth.

Oh, and it did.

There are still days. Dark days where the blanket wants to smother me.

However, I go straight to my journal and write every truth He speaks over me in His Word.

I am not capable of winning the war without Him.

But...

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

If you are in a dark place today, I am praying over you. Covering you with the blanket of His Truth and burning the blanket of the enemy's lies. 

You are oh so loved by the Father. He sees you in this place. He has healing words for you. Will you seek Him today? Will you fight for your life with the One who will never leave you or forsake you?

Jesus tells you this..."The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I have come so that you will have LIFE and life to the FULLEST." John 10:10


finding Joy,


jill









Dec 20, 2015

Dear SHINE friend....

I wish I could send you a Christmas card in the mail. The good old-fashioned snail mail way. Don't you just love opening your mailbox in December and getting a Christmas card? It is the best!!

I love reading each one. I spend a long time just looking at all the details, down to the handwriting on the envelope. I even notice the stamp. Every detail, I am telling you! This girl appreciates the effort that goes into a Christmas card. It's a labor of love. Isn't it?

Since I don't have your address, I wanted to send you a little Merry Christmas via blogger-style. Not the most personal, but I sincerely want it to be personal.

I am so grateful, beyond mere words, for your love and encouragement. These past almost 4 years have been absolutely life changing for me. If you had not been reading, I would have long turned off my computer. It is because of your kindness and support that have kept the flame alive in my heart to write. Each and every single time I sit down to spill out my heart through words on my computer screen, I picture your faces. I take this very seriously. I respect your time greatly. I don't ever want to waste your time. You mean the absolute world to me, and I can never ever thank you enough for reading these words from my heart. I pray for you often.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that your heart finds Peace in the midst of a whirlwind of activities. I pray the miracle of a baby being born of a virgin pierces your heart as if it were the first time you heard the Good News. I pray that the magnitude of His Presence makes you swoon as you ponder His Greatness. I pray that Jesus whispers His Everlasting Love into your precious ears as you wake up each morning and lay your head down each night.

My prayer is that no matter what state or circumstance you find yourself in this Christmas, that Joy, unspeakable Joy, will wrap itself around every particle of your being. Oh, how I pray for Joy for you!

May God bless you and keep you and shine His glorious face upon you.

Merry Christmas, dear friend. You are loved, oh so loved.

your SHINE friend forever,

jill







Dec 18, 2015

When hope is lost....

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

I really do not have time to sit down and write. We are leaving to go out of town today and I have a million and one things to do. Maybe a million and two.

However, sometimes the Lord just draws you like a magnet to where you need to be at the moment. Sometimes He will just take you by the collar and gently place you where your little feet need to be. This is currently happening.

Surrounded by hot tea, a cider smelling candle, and a lamp to my left, I come to you with some words that will hopefully encourage you. These words do not come from me, they come from the Creator of Words, the Creator of all things that we see, feel, and do.

His Words are the only words that bring healing, life, and hope. My words fall flat, but His words spur, stir and awaken a weary soul.

Yesterday, I fell to my knees and begged God to revive me with Hope. Not the worldly kind of hope, but the Hope of Christ. The Hope that no matter the circumstance, I will feel His Presence, His Hope, His gentle touch picking me up and carrying me when my knees want to buckle.

Sometimes we can get in a place, a dark place. A place that light is nowhere to be found. So, we make ourselves a little cozy spot in the darkness and hope the lights will come on.

God's word says, "Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you." James 4:8

I have been clinging to this verse for the past couple of weeks. Just like my eyes crave open blinds, bright lamps, and lit candles, my soul craves the light of His Presence. I don't like the darkness, because my soul was not created to dwell there.

However, in those dark places, sometimes I can see Him the most if I open my eyes to see.  The contrast of His light against a black and dark place, overwhelm my eyes at times. His Presence is so stark, so magnificent and so alluring against  a sheet of pitch dark.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. James 1:5

Tears burn my eyes as I read this verse. Rolling down my cheeks, lump in my throat kind of tears.

Circumstances may change, people may change, but God never changes. When darkness seems to overwhelm or lives, our God is still there. He never left. He never will.

"I, the Lord, never change." Malachi 3:6

"I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

It's up to us to choose to see Him. To choose to open our eyes and feel the warmth of His Presence and the glorious Light of His Face. He is there. Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Sometimes it takes me a few days, even a few weeks, sometimes a few months to open my eyes to Him. I can get lost in the darkness and so easily forget the Light is right beside me.

This week I prayed that God would reveal Himself to me in such a way that I would know without a shadow of a doubt that He hears me. That He sees me. That He hasn't forgotten me.

"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath." Psalm 116:2

Just like the Perfect Father that He is, He listened to me. He answered my plea.

We may not understand what He is doing when things happen, but we can always ask Him to show Himself in the situation. I believe with all of my heart, this is one prayer that He will always answer. He longs for us to see Him. We just have to look for Him.

Just knowing He is there brings peace and calm to our souls. The turmoil seems to lessen because we know He is working it all out. He hasn't forgotten us. He is not capable of forgetting us.

Have you lost your Hope today? Are you just going through the motions to get by? Are you waiting for someone to turn on the lights as you sit alone in the darkness with your thoughts?

Fall to your knees today. Spill it all out to your Father. Tell it all to Him.

Tell Him you want the Hope of Him and nothing else. Ask Him to overwhelm your heart with so much hope that it spills out like water to all who are in your path.

As He fills you back up, refreshes you and revives you, get ready to help someone else to find their Hope. Hope spreads like wildfire. But, we have to be willing to light the first match.

Light the match. Draw near to God. Talk to God. Listen to God.

He is listening to you.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16


Hope in restoration,


jill