God made the first move!

reconcile: a bringing together again
I have been thinking on and praying about the word: reconciliation for several months and I recently listened to a message from Andy Stanley: Reconciling Christmas – Great listen!
We all know the Christmas Carol….
“Hark the Herald Angels sing… Glory to the newborn king.
Peace on earth and mercy mild.
God & sinner reconciled“.
 
God & sinner reconciled. For there to be a bringing together ‘again’, implies there is a separation … something has been broken in an existing relationship. In the beginning of time, we were created in complete harmony with God. The sin of Adam & Eve contaminated everything and we are all now born into a broken state (you cannot deny your lack). Our sin separates us from God.
BUT … through the birth of Christ, God made a way for us to be reconnected to Him, now and forever. Oh what HOPE!
 
But what about sinner & sinner? How do we reconcile with those in our lives that have wounded us or we have wronged and relationship is broken?
 
Christmas is the story of the GREAT reconciliation yet brings us face to face with the memory of family, friends or otherwise that we are estranged from. This time of year, we watch movies about the hope of broken relationship being healed because this IS the story of the good news. God’s Peace is available but we do not always experience it when it comes to those in our lives where there is something between or something wrong. What to do about this?
 
Because God made a way for us to be brought back to Him, it is in this SAME power, we can be brought back to others who, like us, are sinners. But just as it takes a choice on our part to receive the gift of reconciliation to God through Christ, it takes a choice to trust God for the reconciliation between each other.  Therein lies the difficulty.  God has made the first move & all that is left for the “God & sinner reconciled” is our choice.  But when it comes to the ‘sinner to sinner’ reconciliation, it takes both parties to decide right?  I’m not God, you are not God and so this is takes effort & lots of trust.  We cannot control the other person’s response.  God made the first move! God made His move knowing we may reject, knowing we may NOT choose Him back.  We relate with God and draw on His power when we make the first move, whether it is a card, a call, a text or prayer.  We relate with God in a deep way when we trust and leave ourselves open to rejection.
So what to do? Christmas is just around the corner.  
Lean in on God.  Pray… ask God, the GREAT RECONCILER, for advice and trust Him. If you make the first move, trust God and leave the outcome up to Him.  Trust that God is at work, even when you see no results.  Trust God to sooth your heart and bring you peace in your obedience.  This is living by faith. This is living like a follower.
 
Who is it in your life that comes to mind when you hear the word: reconcile? Who will you struggle to see or not see this holiday season because of words spoken or actions that wounded?   What does the journey toward reconciliation look like with this person? Follow God’s lead and make a move.

Greater is He…

There are moments, days, weeks, sometimes years when we can feel “under” the weight of life.  Like a weight sinking under the water, like a bug under foot, we feel life pushing us “under”.  We feel heavy like we cannot get up on our own.  We feel scared the “under” feeling will never stop. We are exhausted just trying to breathe.  We are anxious waiting for the next thing that may push us under.

BUT…

Those who hope in the Lord may experience sorrow, loss, regret, failure, trouble of any and every kind but do not have to ever feel “under” it.  For there is a greater power that lifts up when I sink.  A greater power that gives courage in the face of fear.  A greater power that gives strength to the weary.  A greater power that says nothing will separate us, you will never be alone no matter what you face or for what reason.  The same power that rose Christ from a borrowed grave lives inside of me.  It beckons me to be bold when I fear, to shout with joy when I have lost so much, to hope when its dark.  It calls from deep within – you are more than a conqueror in Christ!  You have everything you need to move forward so get UP.

Life pushes everyone “under”, but the power of Christ in me says lift your eyes beloved one and get UP.  Moment to moment, day to day, year to year….  this is what Holy living looks like… getting up when you feel under.  Even before I received the holy spirit, God’s grace sustained, pulled me up and set my feet on solid ground, I just had no spiritual perception of it.  Now that I know the hope and power that lives in me, it is no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me.  It is His life that pulls me up, his resurrection, grave conquering, sin destroying, powerhouse life that lives in me and through me.  Greater is HE… greater is HE… greater is HE!

You do not have to stay under, GET UP…. because Greater is HE…..

Greater is He Song

Wizard of Oz Prayers

 

As my husband and I laid in bed that morning reflecting after a week from …….. well it was a week!

With 4 teenagers, 4 attitudes, 4 schedules, 4 of ALL that comes with this stage of life plus the regular things life throws at you; burst water pipes, sickness, broken water heater…. we looked at each other and realized we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

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We reminded ourselves of our struggle with infertility and that God answered our long ago prayers and gifted us with 4 amazing humans to teach, love and share life with.  We decided to give them back to God that morning (a thing you will have to do over and over and over as a parent) and we started to pray for our kids:

It started with Lord HELP! (just keepin’ it real)

Then my husband added “Lord give my kids a HEART for you and for each other.”

I asked God to give them the BRAINS to do what is right.

He concluded with “and the COURAGE to follow Gods way and not their own.”

When we were done, we laughed out loud and wondered if we were crazy.  We named this prayer the Wizard of Oz prayer and we have been praying it ever since.  Maybe it’s corny but thats how you end a week from……!

  • Believe people when they tell you parenting is the HARDEST job you will ever have.
  • Don’t give up – keep FIGHTING for your kids even when they seem to not care, they do!
  • It’s the LONG PICTURE that counts, not the hard time you find yourself in in the moments of life.
  • Pray for them – Wizard of Oz Prayers!

 

40 Days of Stones

Joshua 4:5-7

…and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”…
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God tells his children to use a pile of stones as visual evidence to remind them and future generations of His might, His mercy, His deliverance and His presence in their life.  God used stone tablets to write His law for Holy living. God gave David a stone to slay a giant.  God used an illustration of a foundational building stone to reference the place His son Jesus would take in his plan of redemption.   God used a stone to seal the grave of his one an only son and then rolled it away three days later, forever reminding us of His power over death.  Rocks and Stones have been used for centuries as memorials to someone or something.  This has been initiated by God because He knows how forgetful we are.

As Jesus sat in an upper room with his disciples, he makes an association that remembers the past and points to the present and makes a way for the future as he pours wine and breaks bread and says, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ And the man who does this to remember me is the rock that the pile has been building toward.

Living Stones.  As we believe in Christ, we are filled with the power of Christ to remind others there is a way back to God, there is a way to healing, there is a way to redemption.  

Tough times will make it easy to forget all that God has done in your life.  Over the next 40 Days I will go on a journey of remembrance and share 40 stones. I have no doubt there are 40 but have no idea what they will all be.  Until I am perfected by Christ, in my humanness, I will forget.  Like everyone else, I will get bogged down by life and struggle.  But God says remember because He knows when we remind ourselves of where He has been and all He has done, it helps us see all He is STILL doing and gives hope for all He WILL do.  God is still in control.  Christ is still on the throne.  Time to remember again.

Over the next 40 days, I will let God draw out His witness in my life through my stones of remembrance.  Hope is on it’s way.

“On Christ the solid ROCK I stand….my HOPE is build on nothing less..”      Edward Mote

The Ultimate Training Camp

What if you looked at your tough circumstances as an opportunity to trust God more?

On the path of obedience….Your past brings him glory….Your pain brings Him fame….Your passion brings Him honor!  Rock on!

After talking to my kid’s coach for almost 2 hours tonight, I realized a few things.  He has a story.  He has a passion.  It comes from God.  He loves coaching teens – he pours out what God has poured into him.  He understands he is responsible for all that God has entrusted to him.  I am left inspired and grateful for God’s provision in my kid’s life.

Talking with him reminds me that the Ultimate Training Camp is the place where you go to be schooled in trusting God.  The place you decide everyday to let God shape you or let your circumstances defeat you.  You are who you are in Christ no matter where you are! His grace is sufficient for the journey.  He is enough.  Let His purpose unfold and face like flint – don’t take your eye off the ball.

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So if you find yourself at ” training camp” today, remind yourself (a lot) to ……

Keep going

Keep breathing

Keep hoping

Keep expecting

Keep searching

Keep praying

Keep fighting

Keep believing

Keep trusting

You will find His strength at the end of yourself every time and then God will say, “Come on just a little higher”.

2 Cor. 12:9-10 (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

#coachblakelock

Why didn’t they offer THAT class in College?

The college class EVERYONE needs but no one offers….

The College Class EVERYONE needs but no one offers…..

My friend and coach colleague, Norbert, is going to be teaching a college course soon which got me thinking about all the different jobs I have had and all the classes I NEEDED but no one ever offered.

Like the class for TEACHERS that teaches you…

  • to make good friends with all secretarial & custodial staff at school because when you need something they can make life a whole lot easier
  • how to interpret the 800 acronyms that comprise the “special language” teachers and administrators use: MLP, DDI, SLO, AESOP, APPR, ARGHHHH…
  • how to deal when one of your students tracks dog poo into the room, doesn’t realize it until he has successfully left a little everywhere and the remaining students go berzerk
  • how to handle the kid who sits under their desk for the whole day barking at you like a dog because they hate school
  • what to say to the student who can’t hold it together in your room for more than 20 min. because their world outside of school is in crisis on a daily basis
  • how to recover when there is a major “incident’ at school and you are now afraid of those you teach
  • how to cope when after you have attended the trainings,  planned for hours past the work day, applied all the content from all the other college classes you HAVE taken, done everything you know to do within your controlled environment in the limited time of a lesson and a day… yet receive and “ineffective teacher” on your evaluation because it happens to the best of teachers.

Like the class for PASTORS that teaches you…

  • how to handle the moment in the ICU family waiting room when the doctors say it’s “over” to the young fiance whose life just turned on a dime
  • how to keep the Sabbath and really rest and NOT feel guilty
  • how to handle that awkward moment when something comes out of your mouth from the pulpit that you wish you could press rewind on
  • how to handle other people’s expectations of you
  • how to help your kids stay in love with the church no matter what

I am sure every professional could make their own “Why didn’t they offer THAT class in college?” list.  Isn’t it funny how some of the most important stuff we need is not deliberately taught as part of the required credits?

I want to teach THAT class!

What are you willing to GIVE UP?

This question was posed to me during a coaching session I had with a former ER Physician.  I was struggling to move forward – getting stuck in the comfortable.

The question is brilliant if you think about it.  In order for any of us to gain new ground or to blaze new trails….. something usually has to end.

Christ says He makes all things NEW.  When we accept Christ for who He is (the Son of God) and what He has done (died in your place for the forgiveness of sin), scripture tells us we become a “new” creation, the old is gone and the new has come (1 Corinthians 5:17). When we surrender to Christ, we lose: we lose our struggle to get it right on our own, we lose our pride and stubborness, we lose our will and our “own way”, we lose our life.

Ah but look what we gain….

New Life!  A new life in Christ is becoming the person you were originally intended to be – the first prototype, before the corruption of sin and the brokeness of life took it’s toll.

You see the pattern?  The new comes at a price – – – the loss of the old.

Sometimes the greatest obstacle in moving forward in this life is the last great thing that happened.  We cling to it like a trophy.  Often times comfort or success is the enemy of real progress.

Do you know real change is necessary?  Do you have dreams?  Do you have things you’ve always hoped to accomplish? Have you ever asked God why you are here and then He gives you a glimpse and it freezes you in your tracks?  ME TOO!

Maybe you are standing at the brink of the NEW…. and so I ask you what Norbert asked me, “What are you willing to give up to take that next step in moving forward?”  Is it….

  • Fear
  • Rejection
  • Pride
  • Other people’s opinions
  • Old habits
  • Good things/treasures

At some point we just need to trust and decide to let go and let God take over.

The answer to the question came to me quickly.  I knew deep inside what I was holding onto too tightly.  Most of the time we know, so don’t think too hard.  God reminds us daily in more ways than one.  I answered my coach through teary eyes. But behind those tears was an understanding of a God who loves me, wants what is best for me and will keep pushing me to become what He originally created.  My part was to give up, surrender, and let God do what only He can do.

Today… I am walking a new road with clearly familiar features.  I am a minister of the Gospel of Christ no matter what road I am on.  I am not 100% sure where this road leads… but I know it is ordained and He is doing a “new” thing.

Give it up & get moving!

Decide to Live it All!!!

I want to live the LENGTH, WIDTH and DEPTH of my life. I want to live all my days to the full and not merely endure or survive. As I write this I know that means an unconditional acceptance to live in the blessed, joy-filled moments as well as the deep sometimes pain filled valleys of uncertainty and brokenness. It means showing up for it ALL trusting God has a plan for each piece, trusting that He is in control and His ways are the BEST ways even if I cannot see it. It means allowing pain to co-exist with joy at times. It means being content with any circumstance I find myself in today because I am living my faith out in the ONE who is authoring my story for His Glory. It means believing that whatever He allows in my life is FOR my good NOT whatever He allows is good (because sometimes it just sucks)!

Living it all….I am learning important things:

  • DOUBT is a close companion of FAITH.        No matter who you are – as long as you live on this planet you will come face to face with a season of hardship and doubt. Doubt always creeps in during trials but when our faith helps us remain focused on a loving God-  FAITH builds a fortress doubt cannot penetrate.
  • The devil is in the DETAILS but God is in the BIG PICTURE. Sometimes we just have to hang on until the big picture comes into view. Faith is the guide. Let go of the details you cannot control and trust wildly. Stop striving. It just keeps getting you stirred up in the details. Let go and be still. Let God be God. Open your hands to the bigger things He can see.
  • DISAPPOINTMENT is a close companion of HOPE. Disappointment forces us to re-examine our hopes. Where and in whom do you place your hope?  Disappointment reveals to is that we need to have meaning BEYOND the things we see and experience here. HOPE in The Lord helps us manage life’s disappointments.
  • CONFESSION prompts Gods GRACE. We won’t be perfect at navigating storms. Accept this fact and decide ahead of time and move quickly to the cross of Christ who bore your sins and faults so you could be free. Confession and honesty before God prompts His Grace to propel you FORWARD. Difficult times is NO time to hold into baggage you create or others create. Let God do for you what He deeply desires to do – love you and set you free.

Live it all!  Live it all while you still have breath in your lungs. Let it all in. Let it all shape you. Let it all perfect your faith. Just don’t try to do it on your own.

At the end of life I want to come off the field with the signs of having been in the game!

LOVE in the Shadows

Finding love in the shadows….

What is the thing in your life that seems like it hovers over you and creates a sense of looming darkness? Is it fear, finances, broken relationships, illness, the unknown…. Sometimes the circumstances of life move in and seem like the giant we cannot overcome.

Walking in the valley of shadows is an unsettling place to be. Most of us are uncomfortable there. We can tend to focus on the lack of light and the thing hovering over us. Your perspective in the shadows of life is what will determine how you handle it. A shadow is only a shadow because there is a light source behind it. God has not disappeared or let you go. As a matter of fact he is offering you a covering of a different kind. He offers you and I the shadow of His wings. He offers protection and comfort.

Finding the love in the shadows is a way of experiencing God in a whole new way. In the shadows our strength is weak but He is strong. In the Shadows the love of God can conquer our fear. In the shadows we can find the rest our Savior offers. In the shadows we are reminded of the most important parts of life. LOVE in the shadows is deeply personal.

If you find yourself in the shadows today, hold on. God is the light creating the shadow. As you sit in the shadow of His wings, rest in the comfort of a Heavenly Father that offering a love you cannot find anywhere else.

Change

CHANGE is inevitable. How you deal with it it up to YOU!

How do you deal with CHANGE?

As the seasons change around us there are times in our lives when the season change within us.  We go from single to married, no kids to kids, chaos to empty nest, career shifts, loss of loved ones, etc.  We all experience change but how we deal with it is something unique to each of us.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have been no stranger to MAJOR change.  Growing up I lost one house to a fire that left us homeless and one house to a gas explosion that left us homeless again.  I graduated college and my parents had moved to another state and I realized there was no home to go back to and it was a ‘make it’ or ‘break it’ time in my life.  I wanted children and God gave us triplets making us a family of 6 overnight.  I studied to be a school teacher and God led me down the path of becoming a Pastor.  Today I stand at the door of change once again….  The path ahead is not completely clear and there many emotions at any given time.

Change can leave us feeling insecure, exhausted, confused, troubled, and anxious to name a few.  Some keep so busy they don’t deal with the HEART of the change within.  When we experience major change, we can tend to ask WHY too long and never get to the WHAT’s NEXT?

I am no expert and I am far from perfect at living through change, but if you find yourself being face to face with life altering change, here are some words of advice from someone accustomed to it:

  • PRAY – God gives and He takes away for His perfect will for your life.  You may find this hard to believe in the midst of difficult times, but the more you dwell on the idea that your Heavenly Dad is FOR you and not just messing with you, the more peace you will find.  He will guide you, protect you and provide for you.  Remember His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  Talking to others as you manage through change is helpful but don’t neglect to talk to the ONE who created you and has good plans for you. (PS – He can handle it if you are a little upset – just don’t get stuck there).
  • SURRENDER – God does not require us to be perfect to come to Him.  What He desires is for us to be surrendered and dependent upon His wisdom not our own.  You may be broken or worn down by the circumstances of your change but bring your brokeness to the Lord, He will not reject you. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”  Psalm 51:17(NLT)
  • THINK FORWARD not backwards:  When big change occurs, we sometimes can get stuck in the web of all that we are losing or all that seems too big to handle when in reality, we can’t always see clearly.  Thinking backwards only causes us to stay in an emotional state of grief or denial.  I recommend setting a goal for yourself to list out 3 FMA’s (forward moving actions) each day.  This will keep your heart and mind guarded from getting stuck in the muck of self-pity and it will actually help you move toward the direction God may be calling.
  • LET GO of the OPO’s – People react to change in all different ways.  When we begin to compare how we are responding to the change we face with the way others would deal or think we should deal, we get derailed and lose sight of what God is doing.  Letting go of the OPO’s (OTHER PEOPLE’s OPINIONS) during a time of change is important to keeping focused on the ONE voice that can actually transform you and your circumstances.

Change is part of our human experience.  No one escapes it.  God uses change to shape us and prepare us for WHAT’s NEXT!

A favorite of mine and a reminder that the only thing that NEVER changes is our God!