You Are Ready for Spring Aren’t You?

Well friends, winter dealt another blow. It was April 25th and another spring snow storm promising to deliver 6″ – 15″ so say the meteorologists.  Argh…I had crocuses already blooming and they were going to be covered with a blanket of snow the next morning. On top of that, we ended up postponing a trip to Bemidji to see the grandsons. How discouraging it is when our plans don’t work out.

I have this Scripture taped in main control at work that says:

“The Mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

It seems that there a couple of ways to look at that verse with one

having a negative slant and the other quite a positive directive. The application for me is in understanding that my default is to always run ahead of God and make all my plans without consulting my Father. Well, you know how frustrating that can be when the plans don’t work out the way you thought they should have. I think of those poor little crocuses that have 

opened their pretty little heads to show some of the first colors of spring to us and then wham, they get hit with six inches of snow. Somehow I’m guessing, this probably inhibits their growth and reproduction.  And when I tie that in with going ahead of God like I do so often, I wonder just how much am I set back from my growth by not praying and seeking the Father’s will before I lunge ahead and move out? 

How do you like this verse in Proverbs:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand” Proverbs 19:21 (NASB)

The counsel of the Lord will stand. Hmmm…counsel of the Lord, Etsah in Hebrew, meaning advice; consultation; purpose, project, plan, design; wisdom, deliberation. Wow, do I consult with my Father as I make my plans? Almost always, not. Do I seek out His purpose before I run out the door, make the phone call or plan the trip? Of course not, especially if it is just everyday living type of stuff. But this is my challenge and this is what God is trying to teach this girl. How much better to seek God in the morning as I begin to plan my day or whatever it is that I have going on than to do things at random and on a whim.  Now I just looked up the meaning of whim in Websters Dictionary and the meaning is a bit odd and not nearly as fun as I always though of it being as when we us it in its adjective form, whimsical. So the first meaning of this noun is: a freakish pattern of ideas and their associated emotions as a motive of action. I am thinking that this is not the best laid plan for myself or anyone who desires to live a Spirit-filled and controlled life. Why do I want to act on emotions based on freakish ideas? In essence that is what I’m doing by missing out on God’s best for my daily living when I forsake my time with Him as I plan my ‘whatever.’

By the way, on Saturday morning, April 26, 2008, the snow had (thus far) produced slick roads with a dump of about 6+ inches on top. Good thing my husband didn’t put that snow blower away for the spring! There are all these tiny, little spring birds flitting around trying to find fall’s leftovers that are now covered in several inches of snow. And the worse part is that the snow was expected to continue for several more hours and the temperature was only 23 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like only 10! What’s up with that at the end of April? And just to let you know that this was the third snowstorm in northern Minnesota in the month of April! The other two deposited anywhere from a couple to 30+ inches of wet sloppy snow in some areas of the northland on the first and second weekends of the month. I’ll bet you are glad you don’t live here. But if you do, we just say, “Well, that’s northern Minnesota! You never know what you are going to get.”

The bottom line for me is that I need to quit running ahead of God, and slide into His plans for my days.  So much easier said than done especially if that is the way you’ve done it thus far. Those old habits are so hard to break but God has amazing things to say about the man who indeed walks in God’s ways like this: 

“The steps of a mans are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way.
When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord i the One who holds his hand.”
Psalm 37:23, 24

The crocuses managed to endure unscathed for the most part!

You have to love that! God delights in my ways when I walk in His will. A dear friend told me not to be too hard on myself for we are all in a process and indeed we are. But I truly want to be a woman who is bent on walking in God’s plans for my life. And the best part is that when I am led by the Spirit then I walk in love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit produced by being Spirit-led. I will share on that another time.

“Father, I sure frustrate myself time and time again when my best laid plans go awry! How frustrating because I am so convinced that I have laid them perfectly yet without Your approval and consultation, I miss the cracks and weaknesses that can literally trip me up. I am humbly asking, Father, for You to help me come to You the first thing with my days and events, allowing You to shape and mold them as You do when I ask. Even more importantly though is to help me to wait and listen for Your reply when I do ask for Your direction. I am tired of being in a hurry, rushing out the door without Your approval and then asking why when things get weird. I pay dearly every time I do that. Thank You that You are so concerned with my little life that You will show me the way when I ask. You truly are an amazing Abba God, Amen”

Spiritually Barren

We all have dry times in our lives when there is just nothing happening for us spiritually and it just seems as if we are crawling along in our walk. Everything is just as it always is and it can seem alright for a time but then we sense the growing barrenness in our life. The old feeling of walking alone and out of sync with the flow. Everyone else seems to be alive and excited to be serving God but for some reason, I feel blah spiritually!

I  have been there so many times and frankly I do not like being there. Traveling that path for any length of time is very weighty and I certainly mean that to say with a load of sorrow. I have never been in a sand dessert but for a time I did live in the northern part of New Mexico. It is not quite the same but there are some similarities with the hot dry, summers. In a sand desert, there is some life but not a bustling flurry of activity as in a thriving forest. It is simply too hot and dry.

This ugly cactus plant of mine is rather similar to the plants that grow in the desert. It tends to thrive on very little water and it is so ugly that I almost wish it would die so I could get rid of it. I think it is about 45 years old and as you can see it doesn’t get huge. What grows (very slowly I might add) are these ugly long fronds or whatever you call them with their prickly little edges (although not like the usual cacti with its thorns.)

It sits rather lopsided in my pot and obstructs my husbands view of the television if I don’t turn it around the other way.

My dry times are rather like that old cactus, dry, barren, lonely and fruitless. It really is a terrible place to be. I am not even nice to be around because I have no joy, motivation or energy. I just want to hang it up. Interestingly, it even causes those that I am around to get cranky, like my husband. My hard places don’t just effect me, they also have an impact on those around me. My co-workers know when Kimberly Dawn is going through rough times because I am generally a joy-filled person. (Praise God!) But not with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down! Or a mind preoccupied with relationships gone awry.

It is difficult to own up to but these dry times are usually caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life and you need them to interact with and fellowship with and just to enjoy life with. Thank you Lord for creating fellowship with one another. But then the offense comes along and steals the joy. I usually make provision for the flesh and react by harboring bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, there I go down in the desert for some rounds about the mountain. My thoughts are possessed with wrong thinking. My reactions are very “me” centered around all my thoughts and hurt feelings. Woe is me, they don’t understand, what about my feelings on the issue and don’t I have a “right” to feel the way I do? Just look how they have hurt me! You really can try to justify almost anything!

When I go to bed at night, I want sweet thoughts and pleasurable memories of my day or week. I want to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to be able to see His hand in motion throughout my day. If I am in the midst of a desert experience I can’t see any of that, just miserable, poor me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless because I am getting more and more bitter in my own defense. What an icky place to be!

How in the world do I come to an end of my desert journey? Thanks be to God for the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of quenching His Spirit with my “me-ness” mentality. Something jogs my heart and I begin to see that I am the problem not the other party. I’m the one who is holding on to the bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment because all I can see is how mistreated I have been. God’s Word has sooo…much to say about the above list of excuses we use to stay in our desert land:

This Scripture from Matthew 5:23,24 really sheds a spotlight on relational issues out of sync:

“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

I am believing that my offering to God is not going to amount to anything with resentment at the root of my heart. And I have worshiped and wondered why I couldn’t sense His presence and wondered why He seemed so distant from me.

From Romans 13:14 Paul tells,

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

And this includes along with all sorts of immoralities, strife and envy.  And once again from Mark 12:25

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

You have to admit that forgiveness is a huge issue in God’s eyes. I guess that means that I better make it a priority also. He says (God says) 70 times 7 and that if I cannot forgive then I too will not be forgiven. God forbid I don’t get a grasp on this one! So, what is my excuse now? Can I really justify my situation any longer? I don’t think so! Okay Holy Spirit, show me how to get myself to the watering hole ’cause I am so thirsty and so dry and desperately longing for Your presence once again.

 You see, with enough sunlight and just the right amount of water, that ugly old cactus does an amazing thing every once in a while. It unpredictably blooms. Sometimes only one or two but these huge gorgeous blooms come out of the most unlikely places. And like that blooming cactus, I too need adequate time in the “Son” so that I can produce fruit that will please my Father and bless others. How’s your heart today? Are you filled with bitterness and anger? Unforgiveness and resentments? You may know what the fruit of the Spirit is and that is what I want to exhibit in my life towards others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.

Galatians 5:22,23

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.”

Father, will You show me my unpleasantness and its root? I don’t want to be there anymore. I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life so that when others look at my life they see You. Help me to root out all the negative things like anger, resentment, bitterness, envy and strife that is keeping me in bondage. Set me free and even if I need to go to someone for forgiveness will You give me the grace to humble myself and approach that one so that we might be restored to fellowship with one another and with You? I will trust that You will work out all the details of this in my life and that You will receive all the glory, honor and praise due Your Name. I will lean on Your promises and trust this to be resolved in Your perfect timing. Restore me Lord to Your presence and fill me with Your precious Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

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Do You Fight Anxiety?

A flat tire on a Mercury Villager van.It was back in February that we said goodbye to our older Bonneville and welcomed a Fusion into the family. (When the kids leave, vehicles and animals become your kids — sort of.) I had only driven the new vehicle a couple of weeks when while I was driving to town the low tire-pressure warning came on. I thought I would just go to the post office and then stop to get air when I returned.

But when I parked at the station and looked at my right rear tire, it was flat. How in the world could a brand-new tire be flat? I asked the attendant, Davey, to put enough air in the tire so I could park and he could fix it for me later. But the tire wouldn’t even hold air, and that’s when he discovered there was a hunk of metal in it. When I picked up my car, he said there was a utility knife blade stuck upright in between the treads and there was no holding air. But he got the job done.

It was only a week later that I went to get in my car and saw the low tire-pressure warning again — another flat tire. What’s up with that? Well, last year we re-shingled our house and garage and a leftover shingle nail eventually found that tire. God, why in the world are we dealing with this stuff? Oh, how He must laugh when I say things like that. Of course, stuff is going to happen, always. I am not exempt from difficulties; I live in a fallen world.

In the fall of 2011, I began speaking for an organization called Stonecroft. Most of you might recognize the name if I say Christian Women’s Club or Connection, which is what many of the clubs are calling themselves today. My trips take me on some pretty far journeys since I live at the top of Minnesota in the “Icebox of the Nation” and to go anywhere seems like a journey of several hours. My longest trip has been to the North Dakota circuit of Harvey, Minot and then down to Bismarck — lots of miles.

Naturally I prayed that my tire would hold its patch job since I would be in the middle of unfamiliar territory and alone. After six days I was set to return home and was pretty anxious to see my husband after he had gallbladder surgery while I was gone. I was rolling right along from Bismarck early one morning when suddenly my low tire-pressure warning once again came on. I started to get nauseous and fretted because there was nothing that looked like a gas station as far as I could see.

I am thankful that God reminded me of Philippians 4:6, which I immediately put to practice: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

As I recited that verse, I felt God’s presence and care for me. I didn’t stop but began to pray for a station that would be alongside the freeway so I could check the tire. I looked with my mirrors to see if the tire looked really flat, and it didn’t, which puzzled me. But I made the choice to trust the Scripture I recited instead of giving in to my anxious thoughts. Philippians 4:7 says: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I relaxed in knowing that God would provide for my request, and I had an unusual peace that also flooded my uncertain thinking. It wasn’t right away, but a nice truck stop appeared fairly soon afterward and I was able to check the tire (not the rear patched one but my front driver’s side.) and put in air. I then praised my God for His immediate care for me, all alone in North Dakota on a big freeway. Isn’t God just so good to His children?

I made it all the way home, only stopping two hours from home to check the air. None had leaked out. Well, our neighbors repaired that tire and found another nail. I guess it is inevitable when you work next to the transfer station road where all kinds of construction waste are hauled.

But I’ve used those two verses often recently to conquer fear and anxiety and to strengthen others who are in situations of similar uncertainty. Write those verses down and memorize them. Just get them in your heart so that when times of unrest come you will have some ready ammunition to defeat the enemy’s tactics of fear and anxiety. To all who are in Christ: You are armed and dangerous. Now use it.

Eternity in My Heart…

TreasureOne of the wisest men ever was King Solomon.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says that God has set eternity in our hearts!  That is a profound statement.  I cannot imagine what that invokes in you, but for me it exposes a lot of wasted time and energy that I have spent trying to ‘fit into’ the world around me.  I am learning that eternity does not describe most of my world thus far.  Too much concern for the peripherals of life.  Too much emphasis on the world’s definition of fulfillment, love, happiness, etc.  Let’s face it-too much ME!

God, Who is continuing to bring healing to my soul, is revealing a mound of insecurities that the enemy has used to keep me pressed down and ineffective.  However, I have found and can proclaim that ”Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world”…ah, ha!  For that I praise His name.  Now the key is to discern the difference.  Like so many, I have had a skewed perspective on life and what it is all about.

Line BreakThere is a hymn titled “This World is Not My Home”, written by Albert E. Brumley, that sure puts it straight, as the first couple lines of one stanza read:

This world is not my home I’m just passing through

my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…

(and then it finishes with)

I can’t feel at home in this world any more.

So where are we laying up our treasures?  This is a question worthy of our personal reflection.  You may be familiar with this Scripture from Matthew 6:20,21:

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I have heard some well known Bible teachers mention “just look at your check book if you want to see where you are laying up your treasures.”  Solomon tells us the truth when he says that God has placed eternity in our hearts, but most of us are not… Click To Tweet Dare I say most of us are living as though this world is all there is.

Let me ask you (as I question myself), what treasures are you investing in?  Worldly or heavenly?  You see if I am going to be overly concerned with fitting into the worlds ways (which my insecurities tend to push me toward) then I am forsaking looking beyond today to gratify immediate worldly (or as the Word puts it ‘fleshly’ desires.)

Have you ever thought of the perspective between our life on this earth and eternity?  I think it is an amazing picture of contrast much like looking at a model of the solar system as we compare the size of the smaller planets to the sun.  Or our galaxy to the rest of space, a bit difficult to put in perspective.  But that being said, for myself, I need to keep tracking on purposeful living, with an eternal perspective!

Let me close with one very simple thought that God has used to spur me on to the right path, “Love God and love others.”  Not that it is an easy transition, but I can be intentional about simply loving God.  Daily spending some time with Him, enjoying His presence and then freely letting Him mess with my old patterns of living as He shows me my world through His lens.  The rest is up to me to willingly begin to lay up my treasures in heaven for His glory!

Go and Be Reconciled

“…Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

So my former co-worker and I discussed the portion of Scripture above. And having gone through some studies that deal with ‘offense’ this came to light again today. First of all how important it is that we have right relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ (not to mention all the other wonderful and not so wonderful people in our lives.)

Here is the Scripture in its context: 

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. 

“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free agian until you have paid the last penny.”

I am now understanding that I just don’t have a ‘right’ to carry a grudge or to hold on to a misunderstanding with another person. But…why is it so hard to set these things right with a brother or sister I may have offended or royally ticked off? Well, what about that person who observes my actions and sees me as a ‘goody two shoes Christian’ yet can’t get along with my brothers and sisters? What am I showing them? Probably that I am no different from the rest of the world. But I know that I am supposed to be. I am sanctified and set apart. This means I should operate in and with love not being ‘holier than thou’ but holy unto God. I believe this means that I need to look different (responding with actions that reveal a heart of love) to those who observe how I behave, with compassion and being more like Christ!

Father, will you forgive me for my reactions to people, and help me to see we are on this journey of becoming more like You and that means that I need You to teach me how to forgive and ask to be forgiven. These aren’t easy lessons, Father, and my spirit is sometimes very wounded, but I want the transformation into Christlikness to grow and continue even if it hurts. Thank you for Your love and patience towards me, Your daughter who so often times blunders her way through life! I love You, Father and know you are working all things together (in my life) for good.  Amen

Maybe the issue of forgiveness and offense has come from extreme circumstances, please know that God can help you work through this situation by handing it over to Him!  He will make a way and bring healing and peace to your situation…

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Shackled by a Heavy Burden?

“Shackled by a heavy burden,
‘neath a load of guilt and shame…”
The the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same.”

The Gaither Vocal Band wrote the lyrics to this gospel song, which after a walk in the woods one morning with the pup, kept coming to mind and I began to sing it.  I was admiring the beauty of the freshly fallen snow but as I glanced at the trees they were so heavy laden with that thick weighty load bearing upon the branches.  I am sure that some of them were close to breaking and I thought of how familiar that is to us when we are full of unconfessed sin.

Sin is a very heavy load to bear, after all, the Father didn’t design us to carry that kind of a weight around!  It is a weight that will eventually cause damage physically and spiritually. Physically we hide our sin and by hiding or stashing it we become unhealthy in our actions trying to cover up our mess.  And what about the guilt that we carry around because of our sin? It could be from something we’ve done or said or we might live in denial pretending that we have done nothing wrong yet wonder why our happiness and joy is stifled, only a facade.

Spiritually speaking, we might do likewise as we pretend that our walk is just fine and that all is well.  When in fact we for some reason have a difficult time with people, you know, those certain ones who remind of us of a place we would rather not visit.  Or those especially nice ones who make us uncomfortable because they seem so clean and right. Finally, there is a void when we don’t know Jesus and He doesn’t reside or dwell within, don’t you just want peace with yourself and with others!

“Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same…”

I have learned that sin is a weight that is not intended to be carried. My sin and guilt was so overwhelming that I wanted to die…my load of guilt was nearly unbearable! I am unable to soar bearing its load.  God created me and you to fly like an eagle and soar to great heights. But by carrying an unnecessary burden, I become handicapped so to speak, unable to attain those things that God has destined for me!  But there is a remedy…

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.” (NKJ)

God delights when we turn from sin! There is no degree of one sin over another, it is all unacceptable to Him. And there is nothing sweeter than being released from that burden which stood in the way as a road block between me and God! No more guilt, no more shame and one thing is for sure, the world takes on a whole new look when it isn’t skewed with our sin and guilt!  You see, God provides enough grace and mercy daily for every wrong we confess.  After all, He delights in our fellowship and right standing with Him because of the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on the cross.  When Jesus rose from the grave on Resurrection morning, He made a way for us to have life and a relationship with Father God. It was extreme love, given for us!

John 15:13 says it clearly, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJ)

And like the song continues…

“He touched me, oh He touched me,

And oh the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know,

He touched me and made me whole.” 

So if it is unforgiveness, adultery, abuse, a besetting sin, the sin of unbelief, you just name it and give Him your burden, don’t delay, it belongs at the foot of the cross! Jesus blood covers it and God has already forgiven it!

Visit Grace and Truth for more encouragement.

Flat Lined Faith…

When tragedy strikes, many of us tend to feel hopeless!  If there is an accident or an unexpected report from the doctor, the discovery that one of your loved ones is living contrary to how you reared him or, maybe, just that the 650 foot broadcasting tower and antenna fell to the ground early one Sunday morning,  what would your response be?

hebrews-11-1I went to work (Psalm FM Radio Station in International Falls) one Sunday morning to record our weather for the day. Our main signal was off.  In a rural setting, this can happen more often than we would prefer for a variety of reasons.  However, we also broadcast from Hibbing, so I still had to finish the job.  My  boss had shown us how to manually turn on the transmitter remotely, but I could not get the job done.  Needless to say, I had to call him.  I try not to do this, especially early on a Sunday morning.   He said he would take care of it.  I finished my task and returned home to get ready for church.  The boss and I were both doing worship at church and I hoped, of course, that it would be an easy fix.  Sometimes a twenty minute drive to flip a breaker switch is all that is required.DSCF1883

As I was readying myself, the phone rang and it was the boss with an uneasy tone, saying the antenna was down.  Silly me, I said, “Oh no, you couldn’t get it up and running?”  His reply was, “No, the antenna is lying on the ground in a heap…I will not be at church.”

I cannot fully relay what happened next but I was on the floor weeping and wondering what happened and wondering why God would allow this to happen.   This is our main signal that goes south to west and then north, then east in a 100 mile sweep!  What in the world were we going to do with over half of our listening area unable to hear us and our annual fund raiser just three weeks away?  God, why?

Snowflake Divider

Many people have experienced this rather ‘hit you out of nowhere’ emotion and for a period of time your faith ‘flat-lines’ like on the monitor in a hospital ER room when the heartbeat quits.  You feel devastated, very hopeless!  It is as if there will be no tomorrow for that situation.

DSCF1878

I continued to finish up in the bathroom, since I was a mess after wailing and crying out to God, feeling extremely weak and uncertain about the future of our station.  God has sustained this ministry for just about 30 years.  He has allowed it to grow in strength and distance through the addition of another station and more translators.  Plans for signal improvements and upgrades were continuing, so why now, Lord?  Maybe the season was completed and God was going to allow something completely different to take place.  Oh, the uncertainty that ran through my mind that morning!

I memorize Scripture by writing it out on a card and putting it on my bathroom mirror.  I had two cards going and had the verses memorized for a time, but for whatever reason the cards had not yet been replaced.  They are tucked securely between the mirror and its frame so they do not ever fall out.  Well, that morning one literally jumped out at me and, as I picked it up, I once again read Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…”

For those of you who appreciate the Message paraphrase, it reads, “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

I cannot  tell you how this once again got the heartbeat of my faith back on the lifeline!  I began to rethink this incident by putting into practice what I believe about my God!  He is sovereign and always aware of those things that happen in each of our lives.  Nothing passes by His loving hands; and my responsibility is to hold on and trust He will reveal Himself in our tragedy, but in His perfect time!

Snowflake Divider

If you are in that place where you cannot see God’s hand in your circumstances, I want you to know that as far as His part is concerned, nothing has changed! He is as He always is, present in your midst!  You can trust in His omnipresence to always be lovingly aware of your difficult place.  I am choosing to believe in God’s faithfulness in this situation.  I encourage you, as well, to stick to the truth of Who God is and trust that His desire is always for your best and His glory!

At Psalm FM, we are now looking with anticipation to what it is  that will improve our tower signal.  We can even now say, “Thank You, Father, for allowing those powerful storm cells to rip through Loman and bring down that tower.”  God even preserved our new building! We are thankful and trusting Him in all things! Will you?

Tower
Look close to see our brand new 600 ft tower in the distance!

 

When Revival Comes…

The church I attend had been planning to have ‘revival’ meetings with Ralph Sutera, who had been to our church years ago along with his twin brother, Lou.  When they came to Int’l Falls in the late 70’s (I wasn’t even a Christian), many hearts were stirred and moved and some are even still living the life of faith that was ignited back then.  I was impressed that these men don’t come to a church unless they hear from the Lord.  Indeed, they are about praying for the Lord’s perfect timing.

Within this past year, unbeknown to many of us, our church was going through some difficult internal things.  At the appropriate time, Ralph Sutera confirmed that he would indeed come in the fall and there would be a series of meetings for four days that would be open to the community.  These meetings ended up being four very interesting days for yours truly who had never attended “revival” meetings before.

Some background on the Suteras show that these men of God have been serving in this capacity for over 50 years! It was in the early 70’s that Ralph and Lou were use by the Lord in the sweeping Canadian Prairie revival that impacted many lives, including Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) and Irwin Lutzer (senior pastor of Moody Memorial Church.)  Wow, these are names I know and respect.  You can find out information about the Suteras.

I have learned that there is a difference between Evangelistic and Revival meetings.  One focuses on bringing the pre-saved to Christ and the other deals with the heart condition of the saved.  The latter confirmed that as I have been called to step up to the plate (spiritually speaking), desiring to go ever deeper in my walk with Him, God has let me know that there is some business that He and I have to tend to.

The first meeting I attended was actually our Sunday morning service, and as I sat there listening, Ralph began his message.  The more he spoke, the more he began to point out the way that the church (corporately and individually) was out of order.  Every element that he mentioned I thought,  “Boy, I sure hope that so-and-so heard that and I sure hope our youth pastor heard that”…and on and on.  Finally, the Holy Spirit said to me,  “Kimberly, this is not about them; this is about you!”  I suddenly felt quite squashed, or maybe deflated is a better word!  That Sunday morning, after Ralph concluded his talk, he was led to call whoever felt prompted to come up front for a time of repentance and prayer.  It didn’t take long for me to know that I needed to be up there kneeling at the altar confessing my sins.  It was a time of speaking out our sins (not hiding it in silence so that no one would hear), as we were in this mode of repentance.  I am reminded that this confession is like our baptism, being administered in public  should serve to hold us accountable.

I Surrender All

The following nights were sure interesting and I each night I would think to myself, here is an older gentleman, small in stature with lots of white hair and a fiery twinkle in his eye (must be the Italian heritage), using his laptop and some of the original Power Point graphics (dare I say out-dated!)  and, let’s face it, one would think that they might have stepped back in time just a bit.  But, when the Holy Spirit begins to do His work in a heart, suddenly the seemingly outdated presentation no longer matters.  I believe that if Ralph had continued to hold these meetings for many more days (they have held meetings for two and three weeks long!), I would have become completely deflated.  Hey, maybe that is the idea!  After all, is that not what John 3:30 is all about?  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

My goal is not to squelch what the Lord has begun in this refining process!  Going ‘round and ‘round the mountain has grown so old.  Every glimpse of Christ-likeness reminds me that although difficult, the daily surrendering of Kimberly leads to more of Christ in me, and increases my effectiveness for the Lord, to Him be all the glory.

An Ultimate Sacrifice

I love to enjoy the Northern Minnesota outdoors.A adult Sandhill Crane with a chick

Now, I would do the camping thing, but unless it was around a lovely lake that is not heavily populated, I would just as soon not go camping.  And I love to see God’s handiwork when I am out in the woods.  Wild flowers and their pungent smells and the bonus of seeing wildlife thoroughly make my day.  For instance, I  saw my first Sandhill cranes this year as they nested in or near a neighbor’s field – noisy guys and fun to observe.  I hear they are making a comeback and can now be hunted in some areas of Minnesota-not that I would do that!

Every now and again Elsa (my Schnauzer) and I get to see something that she thinks would make great chase material.  But, if the truth be told, she tends to be a bit schizoid and has the natural tendency to chase, although she is scared to bits of any loud noises or sudden moves.  Skittles would have been a more accurate description of her personality, but I wanted her to have a good German name since she is a good German dog.

One morning Elsa and I headed out for our walk through our property to a snowmobile trail we use every day.  We went up the east side of our ravine and she startled a bit when she heard something in the brush.  I didn’t think anything of it, as this is common with her.  As we neared a large balsam tree, she jumped, landing into my legs.  As I glanced back, I saw a small dark thing chasing us.  I yipped and ran ahead, then slowed to look back again to see just what was on our heels.  Here was a grouse, all fluffed up and out, with her wings making her look as big as she could as she ran after us.  She did finally quit and fly off, but I thought,  “That crazy bird – if my Elsa weren’t so afraid, she could have taken that grouse down in a heartbeat. (I do walk her on a leash, however, so that she can’t go running off.)  The scenario kept playing over and over in my mind and I would laugh out loud every time I would think about the event that had just taken place.

Later that week, I was visiting with a retired DNR guy who stopped in at the radio station and I told him about our experience.  He said to me that the grouse would risk her own life for those chicks she was guarding!  I thought that must be true because she is pretty small and my little girl being a standard was more than big enough to rip her to smithereens!  The grouse obviously would do anything to distract whatever was threatening her brood. (I wish I could have seen those cute little chicks, but not at the expense of having a mad grouse jumping at me!)

In the book of John, we read a verse from Chapter 15:13 that lets us know just how prized we are to Jesus.  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  As I ponder this verse and then look at that familiar John 3:16  that says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” I can see the expanse of the Father’s love for us, His children.  I think that most of us as parents would naturally lay down our lives for our children.  If they were in danger, we would do what we could to save them, not even thinking about the risk we could be taking.  In a  tiny little snippet of real life, I saw that picture so clearly illustrated with momma grouse.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vmY2ztb5xc]

You might not feel worthy of the Father’s sacrifice, as it was for me at one time, but there will 
come a time when I trust you will.  As we receive the greatest gift ever given, by understanding the greatest sacrifice that was ever made, I believe we should be overwhelmed by the Father’s love that was poured out just for us.  The Father gave His Son for you and for me and there is no greater response than to humbly receive it, trusting the rest of our lives into His care!

When the Bootstraps Break!

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Desperate for the Sonshine

Visiting over at Grace & Truth today just in case you need encouragement!

Most of us know the saying “pick yourself up by your bootstraps”–a saying that basically means “quit feeling sorry for yourself and get on with your life.”  From a worldly perspective, it sounds like the right thing to do; but it can sure put a guilt trip on those who–hard as they tug–are not strong enough to handle life and its stresses.  Let me just say that there are times when life is just challenging and stuff happens.  So where do we run when it does?

As a young girl I learned early on to fend for myself.  I developed the tendency to depend on no one but me.  I left home at the early age of 15, became a mother at 17 and thought I was getting along just fine.  However, God did not design us to live independently and apart from Him!  I continued to mooch off others and be involved in relationships that were rather one-sided because of my selfish, me first survival mentality.  I learned that if I were going to survive, I would have to keep picking myself up and moving along.

My world came crashing down around me as my first marriage crumbled into adultery and alcoholism in an effort to find true love.  I became overwhelmed by the fact that I was insufficient as a wife, mother and human being; I was miserable.  The only way I could see out of my hopelessness was to take my life.  After all, I had made a genuine mess of everything.  That became a turning point for me as, thankfully, God began stirring my heart and I finally began to think about somebody besides myself.  What would happen to my children?

For the next few years, I sought help by going to church.  I felt the arms of Jesus through the sweet women of the church who reached out to me and encouraged me along.  My wild, spirited youngest son would run up and down the isles of church and I would just cry because I could not make him behave.  A dear saint would gently stop him by scooping him up and holding him through the rest of the service while I sat there blubbering over my inability to control him.  Oh, how those women made me feel loved and ‘church’ became a comfortable place to be.

However, this warm and fuzzy place to be did not fill the longing in my heart.  I began to do a lot of thinking Nyborg  0022about church and what this all meant as far as the Bible and what role it would play in my life.  I could not really understand most of it and the more I questioned the more confused I seemed to get.

It was during that time that I began to periodically listen to Focus on the Family during the noon hour.  I would even tell my youngest son that he had to have quiet time for that half hour just so I could listen.  The help for hurting families began to pique my curiosity, so that I would look forward to fitting that half hour into my day as a stay-at-home mom.

Then I discovered Christian television and the 700 Club.  When I heard the stories of how Christ had  intervened in the lives of people just like me, I began to have hope.  I wanted to be helped just like they had been.  The turning point in my life came when I prayed with Pat Robertson, extending my hand toward the television and I received Christ as I prayed the sinner’s prayer.  This profound moment came at the age of 30.

The most notable difference to me was that the Bible, when I would read it, came alive for me.  I also learned through trial and error that I was better off to grab the extended hand of my God instead of the boot straps that kept breaking when I would pull, trying to pick myself up!

Jesus has rocked my world and the process of being turned right-side up from wrong-side down has been a wild journey thus far, not easy a lot of the time but so worth the journey.  God has filled me with peace and joy even when the road has been rough and rocky.

Friend, if you are tired of trying to make life work, will you grab the extended hand of the Father? He is waiting.  I am not saying it will be easy, but you will begin a journey that you will never regret as you begin a new life in Christ!