I was taught from an early age to stay faithful to my commitments, even when it is hard. But in the past couple of years I have wanted to quit the hard stuff, like ministry. In fact, in the spirit of transparency, in the few couple of weeks I had decided to do just that. Later this year, after the Come Away retreat was in the books, I would quietly step away from writing and speaking and mentoring in order to ‘just be’. My heart craves ‘just being’ right now like you would not even believe.
November will mark 10 years that I have been in ministry. God gave me a clarion call in late 2007 to a speaking ministry that shared Jesus and His grace. That ministry bloomed into a writing ministry that has allowed me to publish a few books. That ministry blossomed into a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry that has been the most fun thing I have ever done.
So, how did I arrive at this place of wanting to quit? I’ve pondered deeply whether it is a result of God withdrawing my calling to ministry. I’ve even secretly hoped that was the root of it all, yet each time I have tried to settle into that, God has sent something or someone along my path to point me in a different direction.
Like a Scripture: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ~ Romans 11:29
Well, okay, there is that!
Months ago I sat with a wise and trusted counselor who reminded me that perhaps I have not allowed my heart to heal from the traumas I have experienced over the past 3 years.
Almost nothing in my life right now is the way I had envisioned it would be. Loss upon loss. Hurt compounded like interest. There have been blessings come out of it but, like a good ‘bootstrapper’, in the beginning of it all I soldiered on, feeling the pain, but not allowing myself time and space to move through the stages of grief. Is it any wonder I have nothing to pour out?
Still the desire to quit nearly suffocates me on a regular basis. I feel as if I have little of worth to give, and the words that once flowed easily now seem to have dried up. I even have trouble coming up with a worthwhile Facebook post.
Maybe you, too, have wanted to quit. Maybe you want to quit right now. Your job, your marriage, your ministry, your mothering, a friendship, a hobby, life. You want to quit because it has become too hard, too painful, too exhausting, too _____________________. I get that! I really do.
May I invite you to do with your ‘quit’ exactly what I did? Take it to Jesus. Ask Him if He has ‘quitting’ in the plans for you. Ask Him to give you wise counselors. Ask Him to speak to your heart over the whole thing. Ask Him for books to read or music to listen to or walks to take that will help you find His plan for your ‘quit’. Ask Him for peace and healing, for heaven’s sake.
I don’t know what He will tell you about your quit, but I know that He gave me encouragement through Dr. Tony Evans to not completely throw in the towel. He is encouraging me to hop out of the rat race for a time, come to Him, and allow Him to heal my heart. I am re-reading Shelly Miller’s wonderful book entitled, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, and realizing that perhaps part of my ‘quit’ is my disobedience about observing a Sabbath rest each week. God instituted Sabbath for us, and the fact that I do not regularly observe a Sabbath rest smacks of self-sufficiency and pride. And we all know how God feels about pride!
So, where does this leave you and me, dear reader? Well, I might be here with a post, but I also might not. And I am okay with that even though the ‘experts’ tell bloggers that you MUST post regularly in order to get/retain readers. Y’all, I will be here when the Holy Spirit tells my heart to write, and not until. I am grateful for you, and I hope the Spirit gives me permission and desire to return to this space regularly one day, full of His words to share with you. I would be so grateful for your prayers.
Please do not forget about the Come Away retreat! Registration is still open, but there are only a few spaces left. So click over to THIS POST to find out more information about the retreat and how to register.
NOTE: If you are reading this post via email, you will need go to my website in order to see the video and access the GIFT I have for you. Click HERE to go to my website. When you arrive there, please look for the Friday, April 14th post.
Today I wanted to offer a video post because I hope to be able to convey how important I believe this week’s posts have been. Surely, I am not the only one out there who is desperately in need of a word make-over! Surely, I am not the only one in need of grace for her tongue. Surely, I am not the only one who needs accountability in her life?
I hope you will take the time to watch the video. I also hope you will be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your own heart. Here are links to my Monday and Wednesday posts that I reference in the video.
I would love to hear from you if you decide to take a journey similar to mine. You can use these principles for more than just changing words. They can be used to break free of all kinds of strongholds…lying, anger, alcoholism, adultery, pornography, overeating and so much more. Scripture memorization, prayer, and accountability. Three tools that have the blessing of God for you, His child.
May this gift will be a blessing to you, my readers. I hope it will help you in your journey toward words of grace. Please click the blue button below and follow the prompts to download and print your Grace-Full Scripture Cards.
On Monday I shared with you the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without the the Monday post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here.
This has not been an easy journey because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change.
So, on Monday I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts.
Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends.
The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there is an action that He is prompting me to take and I am coming to you for help.
I have a question for you. And please know, up front, that it is perfectly okay if you need to say no – I promise! I’m looking for some accountability *just* for the month of March in regard to making ’the words of my mouth acceptable to God’ (Psalm 19:14).
Consistently over the course of my 52 years my mouth has gotten me in trouble….not speaking the truth IN LOVE, speaking when I should not, saying things that are not kind, etc. Yesterday was evidence that I am in great need of a work of the Holy Spirit in this area. My plan is to be diligent in prayer about this and really seek God’s help in controlling my tongue every day. I recognize that my words are a choice and I must choose to not let my tongue be out of control.
I believe that if I can be focused in prayer and effort for the month of March, then controlling my words will become a habit that I can more easily continue. This is where I am asking for your help, if the Lord leads you. Would you maybe be willing to receive a very short email or text from me each morning for the month of March where I can tell you if I was successful the previous day? And if I wasn’t, I can tell you why I don’t think I was. A few sentences, max…I promise not to waste your time in this. Again, if you do not feel led or feel like you can do this, I completely understand. Thank you for considering it.
Both of my friends said “YES”. And so beginning on March 2nd , I ‘reported in’ every morning with my success, or lack thereof, in my efforts to eliminate negative-speak from my life. It is incredible what accountability will do for an effort like this. I knew that I had to report in, and I hated like everything to have to report failure, so I was much more aware of my words throughout the day. Oh, there were a few days where the report was less than stellar, but there were also many wonderfully successful days. In fact, the successful days outnumbered the failure days by a lot.
I learned that in life there are times when negative words must be spoken simply because of circumstances, but they can be spoken without anger and hurt as their fuel. (You must be thinking, what a moron!! She didn’t know that?) I also became much more aware of my thoughts and where negativity was creeping in BEFORE those thoughts became words.
I am happy to report that speaking grace-filled words, or just keeping my mouth shut completely, happens far more often than speaking negative words these days. I still have moments when I slip and speak a negative word, but the Holy Spirit convicts me immediately and I confess my sin. I will likely be a work in progress for a while on this issue, but I’m so thankful that God took me down this path.
Once again today I want to ask you about your words….to your husband or wife….about your husband or wife? About your children…your co-workers…those with whom you attend church….the homeless person on the street….anyone and everyone.
What kind of words do you speak?
Are they anger- or hurt-driven words, or are they words of grace and care?
On Friday I will be back here with a gift for you and some insight from my recent character issues survey. I will also have a challenge for you, so I hope you will join me here. Please go HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your GIFT.
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Sometimes passages in Revelation make me scratch my head and wonder what John was smoking! Such is the case today. Two verses at the beginning of chapter 11 that do not seem to fit in with the rest of the chapter. However, I believe the Lord will connect these verses for us before the end of our time together today. So, hang onto your hats and let’s dive into Revelation 11.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
In this passage John becomes a workman being told to take a measuring rod and measure the temple of God. He is told to measure only the inner portion, the parts known as the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. At this point, we need to attempt to establish the identity of the referenced temple. In the history of the Jewish nation, there have been a few temples. The first place of worship for the Israelites was the wilderness tabernacle. The earliest temple was that begun by Solomon around 958 BC. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Zerubbabel built a temple after the Jewish exile. The third temple was the temple of Herod, built around 515 BC and destroyed by Titus in AD 70. There has never been another temple built for the Israelites to use for worship. Is the temple referenced in verse 1 one of these temples? Another option is that a heavenly temple is being referenced. We will see a reference to the heavenly temple later in the chapter.
So, is the temple of Revelation 11:2 any of these, or is it a completely new temple, yet to be built in Jerusalem? I would submit to you that there is yet a temple to be built in Jerusalem in which the Jewish people will, one day, worship and sacrifice.
I believe during the time of the tribulation antichrist will make a covenant with the Jewish people. He will encourage and allow them to build a temple in which they can worship. At the midpoint of that seven years of tribulation, antichrist will break that covenant and set himself up as god in the Jewish temple. Check out Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 9:27, and Daniel 12:11 for references for future temple worship and sacrifice. We will touch on these later.
If you know anything about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, you know it is currently occupied by Muslims and is the site of two of the most holy places in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gleaming Dome of the Rock. Christians and Jews are forbidden to worship on the Temple Mount. The Mount is not a large patch of ground and there is little room to accommodate a Jewish temple of the size and scope that is anticipated for the tribulation temple.
None of this has hindered Jewish people from planning the re-building of the Temple. Even today, devout Jews are diligently working to construct everything necessary to completely equip a future temple. I’ve seen with my own eyes the work they are doing, and people, they are serious about it. They believe that there will be another temple on the Mount in Jerusalem. I believe it too.
I cannot tell you how it will happen, nor can I tell you when, but it is my firm conviction that a temple will be built on the Mount in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people will worship and sacrifice there.
In verse 2 we come to a very important time reference. Forty-two months. We will see this time reference several places in our study, but in different wording. In Daniel 12, this time period was described as ‘a time, times, and half a time’. Elsewhere in Revelation we will find ‘3 ½ years’ and ‘1260 days’ referenced. Every reference like this seems to be part of the time of tribulation that will come upon the world…either the first half or the last half, which is also known as The Great Tribulation. More on that later.
The ‘nations’ is usually a reference to Gentiles, or everyone who is not Jewish. Such is the case here. The temple would be only for those of Jewish descent. The nations’ trampling of the outer court is highly significant, and is the link to why John wrote these two verses and placed them in chapter 11. We will study that next week and visit with two very interesting characters. Until then, keep your eyes on Jesus.
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My goal with providing these links at the end of my posts is to offer you something to expand your study of the book of Revelation. Dr. David Jeremiah has written a great book on the players that will emerge in the end times. I think you would really enjoy this book. Click the picture below or THIS LINK to learn more.
When I was a child my Daddy was the primary disciplinarian. Oh, my Mother would not hesitate to discipline my sister and me, but very often Daddy was the one to whom the task fell. My parents were big believers in corporal punishment, and did not hesitate to pull out the bolo paddle when we needed to be reminded of the straight and narrow. We never got spanked with a belt or a spoon, but rather that esteemed toy of childhood, the bolo paddle. Do you remember it?
It was a thin piece of wood with a rubber-band like attachment that had a small ball placed on the end of it. When used as a toy, the joy in it was to be able to successfully bounce the ball off the wood. When applied as a paddle to the backside of a child, the rubber string and ball were removed and no joy was found in the using of it!
My parents utilized spanking in a very appropriate way. They did not beat us, harm us, or injure us. What they did was enforce the idea of appropriate behavior in a way that got our attention and effected a change.
My Daddy was a very strong man. Because he had contracted polio at the age of 16, he walked with crutches the rest of his life, making his arms and shoulders quite strong. When Daddy spanked you, there was not a doubt in your mind that you had been spanked! A spanking from my Daddy was a major deterrent to future bad behavior.
In our passage today, we will see mankind refusing to change their ways in spite of horrendous judgment being rained down upon them. But, before we get to that refusal, we have quite a bit of material to cover.
Did you download the Revelation 9 drawing? If not, go here to download and print it. We will likely spend 2 weeks, maybe three, in Revelation 9:13-21, so settle in. Let’s go ahead and read the entire passage, then we will dive in to just the first verse.
13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,
14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.
17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.
19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,
21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Let’s begin by considering what happens immediately following the sounding of the sixth trumpet. John hears a voice, and it is important that we not rush past the location of this voice. It comes from ‘the four horns of the golden altar before God’.
Recall with me that there are two altars in the Old Testament tabernacle. The brazen altar (Exodus 27:1-8, 38:1-7) which was outside the tabernacle proper. This was the altar on which sacrifices were made to atone for sin. The other altar was the golden altar (Exodus 30:1-10, 37:25-29) that sat just in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle. It was on this altar that the High Priest burned incense twice daily. Then, once each year, the Priest would make atonement using the blood of the sin offering on the horns of this golden altar.
This is not the first time in our study that we have run across this golden altar. Let’s take a quick look back.
When we studied the 5th seal (Revelation 6:9), we learned that there were martyrs beneath the altar crying out for justice. Scholars are mixed regarding which altar is being referenced. Given today’s verses, I tend to believe the reference is to the golden altar of sacrifice. There would be no need for an altar of sacrifice in heaven….Jesus has already been the perfect sacrifice.
Then, in Revelation 8:1-5 the 7th seal was broken and we saw the golden altar before God’s throne. The angel took incense, placed it in a censer and hurled it to earth, causing thunder, lightening, and an earthquake.
In view of the fact that the golden altar is always mentioned in conjunction with incense which represents the prayers of the saints, and the prayers of the saints in Revelation 6 were asking God for judgment on those who had taken their lives, it seems that judgment is now being meted out on mankind in the sounding of the sixth trumpet.
K…..enough for now. We will be back in this passage next week. I hope you will take some time to read through it between now and then. There is much here to ponder.
In the waning days of 2014, I experienced great losses. The particulars of what and how and why of the losses are not as germane to our time together today as the effects upon my soul. Like tidal waves, one loss piled upon another until I could barely breath or function. For months there were times I felt such despair that I prayed for Jesus to take me home. Never in my entire life have I experienced such suffering and pain. Not physical pain, although I was certain that my heart had been ripped to shreds and would never recover. The pain and suffering were emotional and mental. Two years later, my heart aches at the thought of it and tears still come easily, even though much healing has taken place.
No one seeks out suffering, yet everyone experiences it. There is not a soul on planet earth who has not endured some kind of suffering, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Are we ever prepared for it? Is there even a way to prepare for suffering? Do we set our children up for failure and despair by not preparing them for suffering?
Even though I experienced intense suffering of the heart, there were some things that I knew to be true; things that I held onto with everything within me. It was those thing that kept my faith from being ‘greatly shaken’. I would love to share those with you today and next week.
The first thought is one that we hear pretty often in the Christian world, but it really is true.
LIFE IS HARD, BUT GOD IS GOOD
We do our children a huge disservice by not preparing them for the inevitable suffering they will experience. Whether it is another child at school making fun of them or the loss of a special grandparent early in the child’s life, we must prepare kids for the fact that life is hard. Flitter, we must prepare ourselves for that fact.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
So, what do we do with that? Trouble does not come to us because God is vengeful or sadistic. The fact is that we live in a fallen world and because of it hard and painful things happen. We don’t need to walk around like Eeyore always bemoaning the misery of life or blaming our troubles on other people, although sometimes they are a result of other people’s actions or words. We do, however, need to have a proper perspective on life.
My Daddy developed polio at the age of 16. The doctors told him he would never walk again. He overcame those predictions and walked, with the aid of crutches and a full leg brace, for the rest of his life. Life was not easy for him. He could not do many of things that young men do. He could not run, play sports, ride a motorcycle, or even walk normally. Yet, he knew that God had spared him from death for a reason, and while certain parts of his life would be hard, God was good to him. He became a successful businessman, married my mom and had two daughters. Sure there were times when he would physically fall, but he always got back up and went on. He had a proper perspective on suffering that kept him from losing his faith or feeling sorry for himself.
Throughout my 2014 ordeal, I always knew that God was good and that He was with me. The faith muscles that I had developed over the course of the years of my walking with Jesus gave me a solid foundation on which to abide even when so much of my world was shaken.
Christ followers can be assured that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens to them that has not been sifted through the will and purpose of God’s divine knowledge. Yes, life can be hard, but God is good and He will never allow anything to happen to us that is not part of His ultimate good for us. I liken this to a parent taking their sick child to the physician. The sickness is miserable and painful, both for the child to experience and the parent to watch. The physician diagnoses the problem and suggests an injection of antibiotics.
Queue up the hysterics! Crying, flailing about, screaming. Anything to avoid the injection.
Yet, the physician and the parent both know that the injection is what will restore good health. It may require bringing in back-up to help hold the child still, but the injection is given and health is restored.
So it is with our good God. Sometimes when He allows pain and suffering in our lives to accomplish His will for us, He knows there is no other way to bring about what is for our good. In those times, we must remember that life is hard, but God is good.
Next week we will consider two other very important lessons we must learn in order to properly walk through suffering. For now, would you share your thoughts on suffering? What are some lessons you have learned during suffering seasons?