A few weeks ago my youngest daughter Mary Elizabeth was home for a long weekend for the wedding announcement party of her dearest friend from hight school. When we went to her party, her friend hugged me and thanked me for feeding her all those meals and said that she always loved being in our home. Her mother thanked me that night as well. I realized that gathering around our table had been a haven for her and a place where friendship was nurtured.
Over the course of the weekend we began talking about the next time we would see our daughter. Our plan is to fly to NYC to be with her for Thanksgiving. It will be a gathering of all her theater friends and mom and dad. I asked her if there were any plans yet and she said that we would do most of the cooking for the meal, but we would gather at another apartment because, “They have a table.” The discussion moved into specific dishes of her holiday favorites and how we could transport them to her friends apartment (a challenge still to be resolved!) We then quickly moved into how we could decorate the table for the holiday, what I could bring from home on the airplane and what we could use from her tiny apartment. I assured her I would manage to fit something in my suitcase for the feast.
As we talked, my mind went back to when she was as a little girl. I remembered one night when she was very small and I was scurrying around fixing a meal for some visiting missionaries. She said, “Mom, we haven’t put the candles on the table yet. We have to make it special.” She quickly took care of it. Even as a very young child, probably four years old, I remember her saying, “ Let’s fix a cup of tea and sit at the table and chat!” I laughed and realized that she had figured out that the way to get mom’s undivided attention was to sit down with a cup of tea like mom did with her friends.”
And so we did, many times.
After she flew back to NYC I began looking around our home and noticed all the tables. My mind reflected on the wonderful memories around those tables, the many relationships nurtured, deep conversations, delicious feasts, and the many dreams, hopes and prayers shared. There is something special about the table in your home
The very first piece of furniture we purchased was an inlaid tea table we found at a market in Florence, Italy when Ken and I were studying music in Europe during the first year of our marriage. I had become quite taken with the practice of afternoon tea while living in Europe and loved the idea of continuing when we returned to the states. It was certainly not a practical purchase for two students, but the little table has served up many a cup of tea or coffee since we purchased it thirty seven years ago and has rolled from room to room throughout our marriage.
Most of all, the relationships fostered through it’s service are what I cherish; from the tradition of Christmas teas with my girls to a simple cup and conversation with a dear friend.
As I walked around my home, I realized that most of my tables are inherited family tables. Our first dining room table was my cousins and I gave it to my oldest daughter for her first home. In our recent visit to South Carolina we had wonderful family meals with her husband and our granddaughters around the table that had originally graced our home and that of my cousin in Texas. She is carrying on the tradition in her way as they join hands and pray and feast at our old dining room table now painted white. They also love to eat outside on their deck with her husband at the grill. It’s interesting that the old iron table they use outside was originally my moms, passed on to me and now serving up outdoor feasts in my daughters home.
Our second dining room table was my grandmothers. I was so excited when I inherited it, not because it was a particularly fine piece of furniture, but because I remember all the times we gathered around it in the small town in north Louisiana when I was a little girl. As a child I loved all the stories told at that table and the personalities that gathered there to share family feasts were quite an eclectic mix of aunts, uncles and cousins.
I remember my Meemaw telling the story about how she wanted a new dining room table and pestered my grandfather until he finally agreed to drive her to the Montgomery Ward store in the "big" town of Monroe, Louisiana. He refused to go into the store and waited in the parking lot while she picked it out, just to make sure she didn't take too long! I guess you could say about eighty years later that it was a wise purchase!
I can still picture all the people gathered around it through the years, many in heaven now. About eight years ago when I inherited my mom’s table I just couldn’t part with it and so now I use it as a craft table up in our attic loft.
The life we have shared around that table has been woven deeply into the fabric of our family and home. Through the years we shared many feasts and memories as we gathered with our own children.
I grew up eating on the table that belonged to my dad’s mother and still have the chairs that went with it. So it seems the tradition of life around the table for me really began with the inherited family table on which my own mom so lovingly prepared so many meals.
Of course, it is not really about the furniture. I clearly have too many tables!
Our family table has been a vehicle used to foster love, to disciple our children
as we gathered for a meal and thanked the Father for His provision.
Around it we have built friendships, offered hospitality, shared our faith and celebrated life together.
"We all need to eat and drink to stay alive, but having a meal is more than eating and drinking.
It is celebrating the gifts of life we share. A meal together is one of the most intimate and sacred human events.
Around the table we become vulnerable, filling one another's plates and cups
and encouraging one another to eat and drink.
Much more happens at a meal than satisfying hunger and quenching thirst.
Around the table we become family, friends, community, yes, a body.
That is why it is so important to 'set' the table. Flowers, candles, colorful napkins all help us say to one another,
'This is a very special time for us, let's enjoy it." Henri Nouwen
I love to set a pretty table. For me it says to those I’m serving, “Your special.” I like to light a candle and decorate seasonally. In our home we don’t just reserve the candles and china for the special occasions.
Creating an atmosphere of beauty is part of my love language and a way to express my creativity.
But the table and the meal don’t have to be fancy. Make it your own unique expression of love. A simple salad or sandwich says I care just as well.
You don’t even have to have a table. I have a dear friend whom I love to get together with to share a cup of tea and a little dessert. Her apartment is too small for a table. We visit and pray using a small coffee table. I cherish those visits.
The important thing is the people who gather around and the life shared together.
When we open our home to offer hospitality we invite the blessing of God. When we look at the life of Jesus we see that sharing a meal together was often at the heart of the gospel. Some of the most profound truths found in the gospel were shared by Jesus at the table. Jesus even began His ministry providing wine for a wedding feast! Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus giving spiritual nourishment around the table. Think of the meals at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, with the tax collectors and sinners, and the Lord's Supper. Even the resurrected Christ prepared breakfast for his disciples. Before his ascension Jesus promised the Holy Spirit over a meal with His disciples. It's as if He was saying "Come to the Table" and I will share my life with you. You can do the same. Food for the body and food for the soul fit together and bring blessing. One day we will share the heavenly feast with our Lord in heaven. Jesus even called himself the Bread of Life.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42
Ken and I have had to be intentional through the years to make sharing life around the table happen. We live in a fast food, pick up and eat on the run culture. Statistics show that the sharing of a family meal has declined 33 percent in the last twenty years and the average time spent at the dinner table has shrunk from ninety minutes in the middle of the last century to less than twelve minutes today. And I wonder if the loss of quality time together shared over a meal has not been partially responsible for the break down of the family in America. Often with our own children we had to make the choice not to participate in a certain activity in order to preserve some time to share our lives around the family table.
It takes some effort to prepare a meal and invite guests, but the fruit seen in our lives is worth it.
Our table gathering most days is small now that our children have left home. It would be easy to eat our meals in front of the TV like so many families, but we rarely do. We’ve learned the value of sharing our life around the family meal. I cherish those times and conversations with my husband. We value it enough to make it a priority in our lives.
If you live alone, invite people over regularly to join you at the table. A home cooked meal is great, but there are so many options these days to pick up food to serve when your schedule doesn’t allow the time.
Some of the best, most creative meals I’ve ever experienced have been cooked by men. My children and I love it when daddy cooks up one of his dishes!
If this whole idea intimidates you, ask people to bring their favorite dish to share. That takes the pressure of so much preparation off you and puts the focus on the relationships.
If you don't have the tradition of the family table, today would be a great day to start!
I had a rare experience this week around the table. I was put on vocal rest by my doctor for seven days and had to serve jury duty at the same time. I was one of the lucky ones chosen for the only trial that actually happened in the courthouse all week! All the others were settled out of court or postponed. Thirteen of us gathered for four days around the big table in the room outside the courtroom. There we waited many hours to be called in for testimonies that ran for three long days. We began the week as strangers. I hardly spoke at all throughout the week, but was forced to listen.
Throughout the week I watched the walls come down as personalities emerged and convictions were shared. It happened gradually, but most noticeably during the meals they served us each day. Over the meal, everyone relaxed together. Strangers shared about their work, their dreams and passions, their struggles and some shared a window into their faith. In those days around that table of thirteen strangers I saw unexpected leaders emerge from what I would have thought that first day. I did a lot of listening and observing and it was really a challenge not to talk. When the time came for the hard task of making a very difficult decision on the last day, I was so grateful for the meals shared around that courtroom table because I had come to know something of the people gathered there and valued their thoughts. If this can happen with thirteen strangers, imagine what can happen in your family, with friends, neighbors or someone you don’t yet know very well as you share your life around the table with others.
So let me challenge you this week:
Be intentional about the family table
Get creative in this beautiful fall weather.
Take some time to celebrate the bounty of God’s provision in your life
and share His life within you with others.
Use your imagination….
Plan a romantic dinner in the garden,
a fall picnic with the kids,
set a table for breakfast on the porch or deck.
Your table might be a blanket spread out in a park.
Invite some friends over for appetizers or dessert,
or simply light the candles, share a pot of soup and break bread!
Investing time to nurture life around the table gives us the opportunity to speak into one another’s lives.
You might be surprised what happens when you choose to share life around the table!
Grateful for the life shared around my many tables through the years!
Resources: The Six O'Clock Scramble
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Ken and I have just returned from a visit to see our oldest daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren in South Carolina. In recent years, since our girls have moved to parts of the country where they actually have four seasons, we always try to schedule a trip to enjoy the splendor of fall. This year when we pulled up in the driveway, our granddaughter Evelyn proudly showed us the pumpkins she had found at the pumpkin patch that were now decorating the front steps. I love that my daughter had mixed in several of my mom’s ceramic pumpkins throughout the house. The tradition of loving fall has passed down through the generations. I remember celebrating with my own grandmother.
When my youngest daughter flew in from New York a few weeks ago for a long weekend, one of the first things we did was to go to the craft store to choose some fall leaves because she wanted me to make a wreath for her to bring home to her little NYC apartment. Somehow, she managed to fit it in her carryon bag for the flight home!
During our trip, we took our two granddaughters and Maggie to the mountains for two days in search of color and fall fun. The trees were beautiful, although not as glorious as some years since many had lost their leaves in the hurricane that blew through the area. Still we loved driving together, singing songs in the car up the mountain roads and searching along the roads for trees in their autumn glow of orange and red.
When we arrived at the hotel I lit the pumpkin candle I had brought along to enjoy with yummy pumpkin bread and snacks. We went shopping in the Highlands, NC and it was such fun to buy Evelyn a new pair of bright pink boots. Only a lively three years old child can pull that off! Baby Audrey made everyone smile in the stores in her little hat as we strolled along the streets. There’s nothing like a happy six months old baby to brighten your day! We took time to savor the moments together, stopping at a coffee shop for a latte and a cookie. While we waited for a table for dinner that night, Evelyn was perfectly content to jump in the leaves outside on the steps for forty minutes. It’s the little things!
Little Evelyn was quite taken with trying to find beautiful leaves that had fallen as we made our way up to view a gorgeous waterfall, so we brought a stash of red and gold leaves home to add to the table decorations.
We visited the beautiful site at High Hampton Inn where Maggie and Spencer were married and took a picture of their two girls where mom and dad had taken their vows. Then we enjoyed a roaring fire in the old inn before heading back down the mountain.
I love fall! I love the pumpkins, the bright colors of leaves and decorations. I love the cool temperatures that call us to pull out the warm jackets, cozy sweaters, and blankets. I love snuggling in front of a fire with a cup of hot tea. And even though we often don’t get much fall leaf color in Baton Rouge, LA, I enjoy just looking at pictures of fall in other areas of the country. I remember as a young girl riding my bike with my friend Jan to the TG & Y store and seeing giant paintings at the top of the shelves of bright fall leaves and thinking – they just made that up! You see our Louisiana autumns are not quite so brilliant in color. I had never experienced such a wonder in God’s creation, but it captured my imagination as a child.
It wasn’t until I traveled to Europe and New England in October as a young wife that I saw for myself God’s glory in all its autumn splendor. We’ve made many an autumn pilgrimage ever since. Sometimes, I must make the pilgrimage in my mind through beautiful photography while enjoying the scents and tastes of the season in my Louisiana home and other years I am blessed to experience it in person.
Either way it captivates me with beauty and wonder and renews my spirit after a long, hot summer. As I have often written in recent months, this past summer has left me feeling a little parched from the great loss and sorrow we have experienced.
And so, I anticipate with hope a new season.
Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Perhaps you have also been through a hard season. Maybe you feel a little barren or parched.
I encourage you to pause and take in the beauty and wonder of this new season of autumn.
Sometimes our circumstances don’t change. Those we love still face difficult trials and pain, but it restores the soul to breathe in the beauty of the everyday moments...the scents, sights and sounds of a new season, the splendor of bright colors, the promise of hope.
And this truth we can cling to, no matter what this new season brings…
Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
You can trust this season of your life into the loving care of Jesus.
He is enough! He will sustain and strengthen you in the darkness and the light.
One thing that I have learned is that often through the painful seasons and trials of life the Lord brings forth beauty. The colors of our lives, like the leaves in autumn on the trees can shine most brilliantly after a season of draught. In those times of trial He transforms our character, refines and strengthens us for the days ahead. We can enter this season of harvest with the promise of blessings and look for joy.
It helps to look for beauty and the joyful colors of life in the little things…
the smile of my youngest grandchild Audrey,
the laughter of my granddaughter as she jumps in the leaves,
the scent of a pumpkin spice candle burning beside me as I write and read,
a prayer for a friend,
the phone call from a loved one who lives far away,
the comfort of a Scripture verse,
a piece of pumpkin bread with dark chocolate morsels,
a son-in-law who loves his girls and my daughter,
visits with family in Greenville,
a red sunset through the airplane window seen through tears as I fly away from my children and grandchildren,
two daughters who love generously,
the comfort of my own bed,
seeing my mama,
a prayer lifted up for my sister,
the promise of a hug,
an unexpected email of love,
my husbands shoulder to rest on during the long flight home away from my babies….
These are just a few of the moments of joy that I have breathed in over the last few days.
Fall is also about release.
There is a slowness to the season if you will let yourself take it in.
It is a time of preparation for the season of winter rest or perhaps a little respite before the rush of the holidays.
As you watch the leaves fall this year, consider what the Lord might have you release into His hands.
Perhaps a negative attitude or habit.
Maybe you need to release someone with forgiveness
or let go of something that is draining your creative energy.
Maybe you need to release your schedule and plans to the Lord.
As the fallen leaves cover the ground and rest for winter before the burst of Spring, give yourself permission to rest a little.
Write down your thoughts as the Lord reveals His heart for you about release on one of these cool autumn days. We reap what we sow.
Light a candle, fix a cup of hot cocoa, coffee or tea, put on some beautiful instrumental music
and take some time to breathe and pray about the season.
Take in the beauty and God’s glory.
Rest and savor the little moments of joy.
Enjoy a little eye candy of God's glory on display in the slide show below. Let it stir your senses!
Autumn is truly a feast for our senses.
What are some of the things that you love most about Autumn?
What are some of the blessings of joy that you have known in recent days?
Perhaps you would like to write them below in the comments on the blog website or on facebook or twitter.
Sometimes hearing what others love about the season spurs us on to find our own moments of beauty and joy.
What does autumn look and feel like to you?
Savoring God’s Autumn blessings and joy,
Resources: Slideshow Pinterest photos
When I hear the word "rescue," it automatically stirs my emotions and sends my thoughts wondering, "Who needed to be rescued?" "What happened?" " What situation did they get themselves into that caused a need for rescuing?" I automatically think that someone is lost, or in a terrible accident. They need saving! Rescuing is something that someone else must do for the one who needs rescuing. You cannot rescue yourself! We ALL have and ARE in that same situation! It's the whole reason Christ Jesus came! ...to seek and save the lost, those in trouble, those who need immediate attention. In today's Monday Musing, Margaret Kemp shares her story with that of the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle. ~Sherry
“When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”
Once while vacationing in the Caribbean, my husband and I visited a turtle farm. I don’t have any particular affinity for turtles, but the Kemp’s Ridley caught my attention. (After all, he—or maybe she---and I are both “Kemps.”) I was curious about this little fellow, so I did some research.
The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is the smallest, most endangered of all sea turtles. Life in the Gulf of Mexico and along its shores is a struggle for this little 30 inch, 100-pound marine animal. Between April and July, females of breeding age return to the beach where they were hatched, most commonly along the Gulf Coast between Galveston, Texas and Tamaulipas, Mexico. After about 50 days, hatchlings emerge from the ping-pong sized eggs. The hatchlings, measuring about an inch and a half long and weighing no more than half an ounce, then begin to scamper across the beach in a treacherous trek to the water. As few as 1% survive to adulthood, and many don’t even make it to the water because they fall prey to vultures, frigate birds, and sand crabs.
Though it’s no longer legal to hunt these turtles for food or boot material, their lives are in peril. They can become entangled in shrimp trawls and drown. Then there’s the loss of habitat as their nesting beaches are developed.
In April 2010 when Deepwater Horizon dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles were smothering in oil. The U. S. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries agents worked diligently to rescue, clean, and return these animals to the water.
In her book, The Great Ridley Rescue, (Sept. 1988. Mountain Press.p.180 ISBN 0-87842-229-3) Pamela Philips called this turtle the “heartbreak turtle.” This name was coined by fishermen who saw turtles dying after being “turned turtle” (turned on their backs.) The fishermen said they died of a broken heart.
I share more in common with the Kemp’s Ridley than a name. I’ve been in that brokenhearted place, where my life has been “turned turtle.” I’ve been in that place of helplessness, where my very survival was threatened. Like the turtle, I needed someone to rescue me, to clean up the mess of my broken existance, and to return me to a functioning, happy, productive life.
I can tell you without a doubt that God did this for me. It was in my place of desperation that I came to know personally that “the Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) In my sorrow, I found unconditional love. In my state of rejection, I found a Savior who would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). In my desperation, I found that there is always a way out. By the power of God’s Word, through the work of His Holy Spirit, and with the help of His people, I was rescued.
During that season of broken-heartedness, there were lonely Sunday afternoons when I felt myself sinking into despair. Just when I thought I could stand it no longer, the phone would ring. “I was just checking on you,” the voice on the other end would say. It was one of God’s emissaries, a Christian friend who had heeded the nudging of the Holy Spirit and picked up the phone.
There were troubled evenings when I wondered what my future would hold. Often, I’d get a message on the computer from an out-of-town friend. “God’s got a great plan for you,” she’d remind me. “He’s going to take care of you.” My friend was another agent that God enlisted to carry His message of encouragement.
Sometimes God used His Word to comfort and strengthen me. Verses such as Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” gave me hope that one day I would have my heart’s desire.
The words of Isaiah, which Jesus quoted in the synagogue, were especially meaningful to me: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…” Jesus had come to heal my hurt; I clung to those words.
For many months, I wrestled with the Lord, pleading with Him to ease my heartache and restore the broken relationship that had caused my grief. Finally, one April evening, I stopped struggling. I put everything aside and spent time listening to the Lord. I wrote in my journal: “I surrender. God, have your way. I trust You to do what is best.” I yielded myself to Him and allowed Him to do the work He needed to do to restore me.
Then, feeling at peace, I went about the business of checking my email and received the news that my husband of 24 years had filed for divorce. The broken relationship would not be mended. In one sense I was shocked, but in another sense, I knew that God had prevented me from receiving the news until I was ready to trust Him with my future. God cared for me in ways I would never have imagined, and when the time was right, I met the man who is now my faithful and loving husband.
Maybe you know what it feels like to be “turned turtle. There are a lot of folks in Baton Rouge who know firsthand what it’s like to have their lives turned upside down.
In August 2016, 20 inches of rain inundated the Baton Rouge area, and thousands were washed out of their homes. Suddenly, people who were used to being independent and self-sufficient found themselves homeless and helpless as the floods overtook their dwellings, soaking all their earthly possessions in mud and dirty water.
For some, their cries may have literally echoed the words of the Psalmist: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.” Psalm 69:1
Yet a couple of weeks after the flood, Christians who had been displaced by the disaster gathered in church to testify to God’s deliverance from the flood waters. God had mobilized His forces to rescue His people. The “soldier” He called up for duty might have been a fisherman with a boat coming to rescue a stranded family. It might have been a truck driver on the interstate who carried strangers through the rising flood waters. It might have been a clean-up crew with shovels and buckets or an “angel” with a hot meal. God hears the prayers of His people. He doesn’t always spare us from hardships, but He brings us through our troubles and delivers us safely to the other side.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 ESV
Meditate on Psalm 91 and Psalm 34, and be assured that even when you find yourself “turned turtle,” the Lord can and will rescue you.
“Father, I thank You and praise You because You are all-powerful and are fully able to rescue me in every desperate situation. I thank You that You are a very present help in time of need. You don’t always answer my prayers in the way that I expect, but you always do what is best. Help me to trust you, and help me to be obedient when You call me into service to help someone else who needs to be rescued.”
For His Glory,
Recently I read a blog, about the most productive way to blog, which seemed to hit a nerve and reveal some truths to me (not about blogging but) about the best way for me to live my life as God calls me to specific tasks. This blog is not a “spiritually” fulfilling blog, but a business blog that encourages one to progress in their online business…which I do not have! Honestly, I’m not sure why I subscribe to this particular blogger, but sometimes I secretly think that maybe…just maybe I’ll try this “online” thing and see if it is as profitable as Millennial’s declare. Seriously though, I don’t need another job, online or not…we have 7 businesses that are already operated out of our home! Nuts, I know!
I encourage you to do the same because he is always there to attack when you are most vulnerable and when you are on the front lines in ministry for the cause of Christ. Satan is a liar and a thief! He wants nothing more than to steal your joy and fill your head with doubt! Perfectionism is the game he plays and knows very well how to make me feel insignificant and knows my weaknesses! Praise God for grace! Because of God’s passionate and steadfast love for me, He gifted me with a garment of salvation and clothed me with His robe of righteousness! In my dreadful, undesirable state of sin, God rescued me and it is only by His strength and might, given to me by the Holy Spirit, that I am able to do anything to bring glory to His name. He has called me and has entrusted to me to be His ambassador. Embracing ambassadorship is a role that we as Christians seem to forget. We have a message for the world! Realizing whom I represent and knowing the One who calls me His child, I must be obedient to what He asks of me, using His authority and power to convey His message. Transparently speaking, I struggle to maintain this attitude, but He still choses to use me despite my imperfections. It’s an honest heart and willing spirit that He delights to use. This past weekend was one of those special moments! And without realizing and not having read yet, I put into practice the 3 strategies that this business blogger shared.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.”
I see these three strategies as a means to persevere when you are doing a God-sized task! And isn’t living in these days and times just that?! God-sized! More and more I realize how weak I really am and can only pursue day-to-day “living” by the strength of the Lord. He is my strength and my help!
I realize that I have to:
What great thoughts…even if this business blogger intended these points for a strategic business plan!
When we put on our blinders, it stops us from comparing ourselves to others!
We have been tailor-made by the Master Creator, God Almighty! In His design of space and time, He created me (you) with unique gifts and talents to be woven with that of other believers…in the same period of time! Whether it is specific years, seasons of life, months, weekends or minutes, we were made to “compliment” one another. Not to compare! As part of the body of Christ, we must recognize the part we are to play and work together for His purpose. If you are uncertain about your spiritual gifts and talents, ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you. It is not His desire to withhold or hide them from you. Do you understand that?! He gives wisdom and understanding - liberally - to those who ask. (James 1:5, Prov. 2:6)
Once we realize our role, gifts, and talents, we must move forward with what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us. Focus on what you have to contribute! Move in obedience to the call that God has placed on your life. No one is more equipped to do what God has called YOU to do than yourself! It is here that I struggle. I’m always thinking that someone else can do this thing better! And though it is true that they may have greater skill, it isn’t what they were called to do during this specific point of time…it’s me! Perhaps you find yourself in these same shoes! God’s reasoning is often mysterious to me. Sometimes I chuckle at the positions and tasks He assigns because I know me. Other times, I’m completely scared out of my gourd! I’m continually learning to trust and obey…for there’s no other way…to be happy in Jesus…than to trust and obey! With each assignment, I know I must put self behind and press on in Jesus’ name for surely I rely solely on Him! He proves His faithfulness to me daily and I will forever proclaim, “Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!” It is the theme of my life. Great is His faithfulness. When I focus on what I’ve been called to, my blinders are up and my God-spoken contribution lies steadily before me as I race toward the goal with determination. Run Forest Run! I hear the voice of encouragement…God’s voice, whispering sweetly in my ear! “I’ve got this for you,” He seems to say! And it’s then that I step up and speed on, relying on His strength, His words, and His guidance! I am ready for the God-sized task at hand, leaning ever so closely in His shadowing care as His ambassador.
Yes, this past weekend was glorious as God met with us and we learned more about awakening to the pursuit of our heavenly bridegroom. I must add that the weeks and months of preparation were quite a blessing from the Lord as He unraveled great mysteries and truth for us to share. I knew He had a message for these women. And as Kathy spoke of the customs and history of Jewish weddings, my heart nearly burst as once again, examining the great lengths and depths of Christ’s love for me. I could not contain my emotions as tears of joy streamed down my face.
You know, we all need encouraging. This leads me to the third strategy for pursuing what God calls me to. Find a Cheerleader! I tend to think that this point goes much deeper than one who will just shout out words of encouragement. Having another person in my life is important on many levels. I am so thankful for the many friends that continuously pray for me and the ministry that Kathy and I share. It is a special blessing to see them in the sea of faces as I stand sharing the truths that God has revealed to me in His Word.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if [c]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not [d]another to lift him up. Ecc. 4:9,10
I need to surround myself with other members of the body of Christ so that I can be stirred up to love and good works and find encouragement.
Hebrews 10: 24,25
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
A cheerleader is one who really believes or is committed to me. They are loyal even when I seem to be not on my best game! You can count on a cheerleader to lift your spirit! They believe in you even when your confidence level is pushing negative. They chant out, sing, and dance over you! Isn’t that what God does in Zephaniah 3:17?
I know there are various theological views about Him being our cheerleader, but He does encourage us, prepares the way for us, leads and guides us, prays for us, is loyal and faithful, and He cheers for us so much that He has our name engraved on the palm of His hand! (Is. 49:16a) Who wouldn’t want Him in our corner?!
Is God calling you to a “specific” task that well,…scares you a little? Take courage!
The words in Sunday’s choir anthem continue to ring in my hearts ear:
Pour out your Spirit; guard us with truth.
Make us courageous in all that we do.
Fill us with power, ‘til we’re unafraid
To go where You lead us, declaring Your glory, Your honor, Your fame!
(We Will Rise by Michael Farren and Todd Smith)
You, O Christian, the Bride of Christ; are bought with the blood. You, with gifts that compliment others, are woven together as the Church, the Body of Christ and must move as one, filled with the Light of Christ. The powers of darkness will rage but you must remember to stand firmly on the Rock that will not shake! Put on your blinders and stop comparing! Focus on what God has commissioned you to do, or say, or to go! Trust that God and the saints of heaven are cheering you on! Don’t be discouraged or threaten to throw in the towel! God’s got this thing and He’s got your back! He has entrusted you! And don’t forget Philippians 4:13!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.”
Trusting His Faithfulness,
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