“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always? Really? This has been a tough week in so many different ways. Every time I turn on the news I’m reminded of the lives and homes that were lost in OK. So much devastation. There are senseless killings here and abroad…..one person horrifically claiming “an eye for an eye” as a reason for brutally murdering an innocent man walking down the street in London.
Then there are things happening in our personal lives. Really tough things. A sweet friend of mine had been praying for a liver transplant for her mom and it looked like God was working to make that happen. Tiny miracles were happening along the way and she and her mom were both clinging to that each day. Over the weekend her mom suddenly took a turn for the worse and she passed away a few days ago before a liver became available. Be joyful always?
Joy in the midst of the storm is only possible with Christ. I don’t know any other way to say it. Is it difficult to live above our circumstances at times, you better believe it is. But it IS possible and I’ve got to choose to have enough faith to live that out in my own life. The verse from 1 Thessalonians wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t possible. God’s not a game player using us as His pawns for entertainment. He wouldn’t tell us to live a certain way if it wasn’t attainable.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS! And I thank God for that! It’s only when I keep my eyes fixed on Him that I have any chance at all of living above my momentary troubles still finding joy in life.
Today you may find yourself on a mountaintop or in the midst of a valley. Either way, I would love to hear what is bringing you joy today? Sometimes it’s good to just write it down as a reminder to ourselves. You can comment below.
I love to read and occasionally I like to post what I’ve been reading in the hopes that these books can challenge others as well. God has gifted so many in the area of writing and I’ve gleaned little treasures from some wonderful books through the years. Here is what is impacting me currently:
- Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning – I read this book or portions of it at least once a year. I don’t know anyone who writes more honestly or sincerely about the grace of God and our desperate need for it. He challenges me to look at things from a different perspective and I love that. Brennan finished his race here on earth a few months ago and he will be greatly missed.
- The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen – What a powerful book about the parable of the Prodigal Son. I never realized I resembled not only the prodigal, but also naturally the elder son. Most importantly, I should strive to resemble the Father in the story. What a great reminder.
- Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James – Have you ever heard the term ezer-warrior? Carolyn discusses this term and what it means to be a woman today and an ezer-warrior for the Kingdom of God. Women are strong and brave and it’s time we step up to our battle positions for His Kingdom!
- The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson – This book has forever changed my prayer life. What do you want God to do for you? Is it ok to even ask that question? Mark talks candidly about deep desires and what happens when we seek God earnestly and “pray through” for His inspired desires in our lives.
- The Freedom Of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller – This is a power-packed little book. It’s only 44 pages long, but I have most of it highlighted. “What are the marks of a supernaturally changed heart? A truly gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a self-forgetful person.” Wow. A deeply convicting book.
I would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these books or if you want to share others that are impacting you right now.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Isn’t it comforting to know that God has plans for you? And they’re not plans to harm you, but plans for you to prosper in Him! He has your best in mind. So many of His children are barely hanging on by a thread, but you don’t have to live that way. He doesn’t just want you surviving this life. He wants you to flourish! No matter what you are facing today, I hope you will take a moment and remind yourself of this eternal truth. Life can be hard and painful at times, yes, but God wants you to live your life as one who knows and understands that you have hope in each moment and a beautiful future in Him and with Him. That’s a life worth living!
Remember: “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Many of us are carrying burdens we were never meant to carry. We have become consumed with worry, fear, anxiety, depression, addictions; the list goes on and on. God has given us an extraordinary invitation to come to Him if we’re weary and burdened. He wants us to turn over all of the things that have been weighing us down. He wants to release us from our bondage. He wants to set us FREE! All we have to do is come and lay our burdens at His feet. His freedom is readily available to all of us, but we must choose to let go. You see, we can’t take hold of freedom while we’re still clinging to our bondage.
Today I invite you to accept Christ’s invitation. Come to Him, lay your burdens down and rest, knowing and believing that He has set you free.
Remember: “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
Many of you know that I have lost some friends over the past few years to terrible diseases. I know those women are experiencing more joy, life and freedom than they have ever known before, now that they are in their Heavenly home.
Once in a while I come across something that reminds me of them and that brings a smile to my face. My sweet friend, Sherri, went home to the Lord this past October. This is one of the last things she posted on Facebook 2 weeks before her death. She knew her time on earth was being measured in days or weeks at this point and this is what she wrote:
“LIVE EVERY DAY YOU have breath! LIVE IT and APPRECIATE that GOD ALLOWED YOU THE day in which to live. Thanks to my honey for taking me out for some of the best seafood this gal has encountered. THANK you God!”
When Sherri wrote these words she was very ill and only able to leave the house occasionally for very quick trips. She knew there was no possibility of healing this side of Heaven. She told me she knew her race here on earth was done. In one of my last conversations with her I asked her what she wanted people to remember. She said, “I want people to remember to be grateful in ALL things.”
When I read that Facebook post, I see someone who was still filled with joy, someone who was still grateful for every breath she was allowed even in the face of death. In those moments Sherri was teaching all of us how to live and how to die.
What a precious reminder for me today. Each day is a gift and I can choose how I will live it. Today I choose to live being grateful for all God has done for me and appreciating the fact that He even allowed me to wake up.
Thank you, Sherri, for being such a powerful teacher in this life! I’m looking forward to celebrating with you again in eternity!
If you were to sit with those who know me best, I think they would tell you that I’m a pretty passionate person. I feel VERY deeply about certain things. If you were to sit across from me and start a conversation about one of my passions you would notice some things immediately. The more passionate I am about the topic, the louder and faster I begin to talk. My heart will start to beat more quickly and my eyes will get wider. I’ve been told this by people who know about my passion “issue.” J I’ve been thinking about the things that get my “juices flowing” and I’ve formulated a list. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but just a few of the things that come to mind immediately. Some things on this list you might think are ridiculous, but I have some degree of passion about each of them. It’s just who I am.
I’m passionate about:
- My husband – BT is an amazing man and I’m overwhelmed by his love.
- People being wronged or abused – Nothing gets my blood boiling faster or hurts me more deeply. I wish I could stop it all from ever happening.
- My dog – The Soph is a bundle of love.
- My friends and family – God has given me some amazing people in my life and I’m so grateful.
- Football – Both real and fantasy!
- Politics – we may not see eye to eye politically, but we will definitely have an entertaining conversation about it!
- Food – I love and appreciate a good meal.
- Singing – I want people to feel what I’m feeling when I sing.
- My Savior and the freedom and grace He so freely offers.
- Helping others realize their God-ordained freedom.
The last two things on that list just completely consume me. There is nothing I enjoy talking about more or feel more deeply about than God and the freedom He has available for everyone. This past year I have been so blessed to be able to share that message with women all across the country. Here’s a little glimpse of what a Finally Free Conference is like! For more information on bringing a Finally Free Women’s Conference to your church or gathering, visit the Tabor Ministries web site.
I am so excited about the upcoming Finally Free Women’s Conference! I’m passionate about helping women live in the true freedom God has for each of them. Why am I passionate about this? Because a few years ago I looked in the mirror and realized that although I had a relationship with Jesus Christ, I was still bound by things like fear, worry and anxiety. I wasn’t living my life to the fullest because I was weighed down by things I was never meant to carry. I also began to see that other women both inside and outside of the church were just as bound as I was, so I decided it was time to share my story.
During the conference I will share my own personal story of freedom, as well as the specific things God has taught me along my freedom journey. We will also have a few of the ladies from our CD, “Finally Free: Stories of Hope and Inspiration” there to share in more detail as well. These are all powerful stories of freedom, hope, redemption and grace. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from them.
We will spend time talking about issues that many of us deal with as women and I’ll share some of the things that have helped me along the way. Most importantly, you will be given an opportunity to actually turn those struggles over to God. Only He can take them. Only He can set us free.
There will be plenty of worship, fun and laughter! My new book “Finally Free: Living Free and Loving Life” will also be available for the first time.
Scripture tells us that Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted and to set the captives free. Freedom is there for the taking, but it’s up to us to choose it each day.
If you’re struggling right now or if you have a sense that God has more for your life, I hope you’ll join me on Saturday, May 21 at Mt. Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood from 9 am- 4 pm. God has your best in mind and He wants you to be free! Make May 21st your freedom day!